You Wrote a Book??


After I casually mentioned in my last blog post that I finished the book project I’ve been working on for a long time, I received many messages saying “Congratulations!” and/or “What?! You wrote a book??”

I so appreciate all the support I’ve received and as for the questions, here’s my attempt to answer all of them.

(If you are not at all interested in the hearing more about the book – and I certainly wouldn’t hold that against you – stop reading now and get back to the work/laundry/Netflix you were working on before you popped in here.)

What?!? You wrote a book?
Well, I like to refer to it as the “book project.” The end result is a 163-page, professional looking book called “It’s a Beautiful Life: Observations & Reflections of Thomas E. McInerney.” While I did write many of the original sentences, I took a lot of direct quotes from the interviews I conducted with my Dad and also invited twelve close friends and family members to contribute essays as well. It was a collaboration.

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 11.19.06 AM

“It’s A Beautiful Life” is a direct quote from my Dad during one of our interviews and seemed an appropriate title for the collection of these stories.

Why did you do it?
Because I wanted this book – or some version of it – to exist. I want my kids and my kids’ kids to benefit from my Dad’s wisdom for years to come. Despite my Dad’s best intentions and greatest wishes, he is still mortal. 😏 Documenting some of the stories of his life and more importantly, his sage advice about certain things, seemed like a smart and important thing to do.

How did this all begin?
On September 19th, 2014 (my Dad’s 73rd birthday) I invited him to lunch to discuss the possibility of us working on a project together – a book about his life.

As I explain in the opening pages of the book, I suggested that HE should write the book about his life but he told me that while he had considered it, other projects always took priority. Like his job. Or studying quantum physics for fun.

So, we decided to do it together.

You “conducted interviews” with your Dad? That sounds very formal.
Well, I call them “interviews” because the meetings involved my showing up to his office – once a month, for a year – with a recorder (or rather my phone with a recording app), my laptop, a topic for that month’s “interview” and a list of questions pertinent to that month’s topic. But there was no formality. (Aside from the fact that he was always wearing a suit.)

Sometimes I’d ask every question on my list and get straightforward answers. Other times, I would ask one question and my Dad would lean back in his office chair and spend the next hour reminiscing about playing baseball as a kid or his first job. In those case, I just shut up and took notes while he would amble down Memory Lane.

That sounds amazing!
It was… for both of us. During one of our later interviews, my Dad said to me, “Regardless of what happens with this project – whether the book gets written or not – these meetings have been so wonderful. To be encouraged to reminisce about parts of my life I haven’t thought about in so long has really been a gift.”

I felt the same way. I knew those meetings were the “easy part” and I enjoyed every minute of them. As is evidenced in the book, my Dad has a remarkable memory. He remembers facts and events of his childhood and early career days in astonishing detail (for example, he can quote his starting salary for every single job he’s ever had).

It was a great joy to listen to him tell the stories of his life. Our meetings were interesting, enlightening, poignant and fun.

I strongly recommend anyone contemplating such a project with a loved one to follow through. You will not regret it.

What’s NOT in the book?
(OK, full disclosure… nobody has asked me this question but I would like to answer it and it needed to fit into this Q&A format.)

This is not an objective biography of a public figure nor is it a sensational tell-all. This is a series of essays written by myself and others about someone we love. There are no salacious details. There is no shocking gossip. And if there are skeletons in my Dad’s closet – and obviously those would be very well-dressed, sports-jacketed skeletons – do not expect them to fall out of these pages.

In addition, there is no author in the world who could capture the intensity of which my Dad has valued his family relationships and friendships throughout his life. My one hesitation in (self-) publishing this book is that it does not do justice to the love and fondness my Dad feels about his family – especially his brothers – and the close friends he’s had throughout his life. Maybe he’ll write a Volume II to do that job. J

How long did the whole project take you?
From start to finish, three and a half years.

WHAT? That’s a long freakin’ time!
Yes. Yes, it is.

Like I said earlier, we conducted the interviews for about a year. Then I started “writing up my notes” in a way that I thought would magically turn into something brilliant and entertaining. It didn’t. I worked in that unproductive direction for about six months before I trashed everything and started over thinking in terms of a series of essays instead of a chronological snoozefest.

Once I had a vision for the book that I was happy with, I really started to focus on the writing of sentences. And guess what… WRITING SENTENCES IS HARD. Like, really hard. So much harder than I ever thought. That’s part of the reason the book is so short. I just couldn’t write any more sentences. I ran out. Plus, everyone was tired of waiting for the book; it needed to be done.

When can I read the book? / How can I buy the book? / Where can I get a copy?
These questions make me cringe a little bit because I didn’t write this book thinking people other than our immediate family members would want to read it and it feels awkward to “promote” it.

That said, if you have ever known my Dad, you may find the stories entertaining. Or if you simply want to benefit from the wisdom of a very smart man, then I won’t hesitate to recommend it because the book is chockfull of insight, written in an easily-digestible “Dad’s wisdom nuggets” format.

You can buy the book through the website I used to publish it, Book Baby (link below). They set the price based on how much I spent to create it (damn full-color photos!), so it’s pricier than I would have liked. But listen… USE THE COUPON CODE “MCINERNEY” TO GET 50% THE PRICE LISTED.


Again, just in case you’re skimming… USE THE COUPON CODE “MCINERNEY” TO GET 50% THE PRICE LISTED. (You’ll still pay about $20.00 not including shipping but that’s better than the whopping $40 they want you to pay!)

Please know that 100% of the money made through sales of this book will be donated to one of my Dad’s favorite charities, St. John’s Bread and Life.

Is there anything else I should know?
Yes. The photo of me I used for the back cover flap was taken 15 years ago. Because I’m no fool.

That’s it! Again, THANK YOU for all of the support!!


PS. One more thing… one of my regrets about the book is that I didn’t include an Acknowledgements page like a real author does. At the time, it seemed indulgent and pompous but now I wish I had so that I could have thanked the following people…

… Paula, Tom, Lori, Neil, Amy, Uncle Robert, Uncle John, Uncle Michael, Aunt San, Gene, Tony and Father Harrington for contributing essays. Every time I received one of their essays, I thought “Shit. This is so much better written/funnier/more interesting than what I’m writing. They should be writing the damn book.” No joke. I hated them all.

… my sister, Lori, who was the only person who knows Dad to read a version of this book before I printed it. Her insights and editing skills saved me a lot of embarrassment.

… my brother, Tom, who wrote the funny words for the back cover.

… Paula for digging up all the cool photos that appear in the middle of the book.

… my writing group and writing classmates – especially Liz, Robin, Galia and Shima – for their constructive criticism and valuable feedback.

… Marcelle, the writing coach I hired last summer to push me through the final stage of this project.




blowing the dust off this blog


<sneezes from all the dust>

Hello everybody. Happy New Year!

I thought I’d do a quick post to say hello, I miss you, I miss writing for the blog, I hope you had a great holiday season, yada yada yada.

I most definitely am NOT going to say anything about how I have big goals to write more in 2018 or that I finished the other big writing project I’ve been working on for years (more details to come) so that should free up some writing time for this place. Nope, not going to say those things.

So, how are we feeling about the end of this year? 2017 was hard in so many ways. Personally, I watched more news than I ever have before and it was constantly depressing and often infuriating. I became addicted to Twitter for the very worst reasons. My eyes were opened to the ugliness in this country that may have always existed but is now being gently nudged out into the open and even encouraged by those in positions of power. Social media exposes all of it in the same way my awful bathroom magnifying mirror highlights my wrinkles and sun damage.

Everyday, another story, another potential melanoma.

But as is true 100% of the time, there is always a flip side. A bright side. And in my case, the bright side is a million times brighter than the dark and lives very close to home.

It’s my people. I have the most awesome kids and husband and siblings and nieces and nephews and parents and extended family and friends. And they’re, for the most part, happy and healthy.

That’s enough. Our people are enough. The balance to the ugly. They’re the bright side.

When I stepped away from Twitter, some really fun things happened with my people in 2017.

We performed…

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 6.27.30 PM
Lip SyncFullSizeRender
We traveled…
We played…
We celebrated…
We Ninja posed…
We got this guy and he’s proven to be an endless source of yes, some frustration but mostly entertainment (#ohoscar)…
And for the first time in the history of EVER, I achieved my 2017 New Year’s Resolution, which was to finish the book I’ve been working on for three years. I WROTE A BOOK!

It’s about my Dad and a lot of people contributed. Eventually, I’ll tell you more about it, but the most important thing to know about it now is that it’s DONE.

And through it all, we loved.
IMG_6270IMG_6754IMG_0744IMG_1008 2

So yeah, we can be mad at 2017 for a lot of things, but I’m going to try to stick with gratitude. Because that feels best.

I’m ready for you 2018. I resolve to find light in your dark days and appreciate the glow of the bright ones. I will deal with the ugly wrinkles by leaning on my people. I will continue to ask questions, make mistakes and if I’m being realistic and honest, spend too much time on social media. But I will also give thanks for each new day that allows me to do so.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2018 be kind to you and your people.

PS. Using this quote as my guide for 2018:

“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules … We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

An Even Dozen


KJ and I are not big anniversary people. I have a little bit of a mental block about whether it falls on July 15th or 16th and the only way KJ can remember it is by removing his wedding ring and squinting at the date engraved on the inside.

We’re actually celebrating our 12th anniversary today by doing our favorite thing. Well, things. He’s playing golf and I’m staying home to write and read in the hammock. Happy Anniversary!

But we did have a date last night and get this – we went to the movie theater and SAW THE SAME MOVIE. That’s happened approximately five times over the course of our twelve-year marriage because we can rarely agree on which movie to see. KJ likes action, suspense, car chases and shooting. I like to laugh. So in the past twelve years, just about the only movies we could agree to see together were the first Jason Bourne movie and the entire Ocean’s Eleven franchise.

Oddly, we also saw that Julia Louis-Dreyfus/James Gandolfini movie, “Enough Said.” I’m sure the only reason KJ agreed to see that one was because he misunderstood “James Gandolfini” to mean “Tony Soprano” and when he realized it was essentially a romantic comedy, he spent the whole movie groaning and talking about poking his eyeballs out with his soda straw. That was fun!

Anyway, feeling nostalgic this morning, I started looking at our wedding album. So many happy memories, but really I had two main thoughts:

  1. DAMN it was hot in that church.
  2. THAT was a super fun party.

For those close friends who weren’t at my wedding, here are some pictures to help you feel like you were there.


I loved designing the invitations; it was my second favorite part of wedding planning. But it’s possible I went a little overboard with the FOLDER and multiple inserts. (Please note, I designed that “forward/backward, interlocking Ks” symbol in 2005 – loooong before Kim Kardashian came up with her slightly more elaborate version in 2011… see below.)

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 12.31.56 PM


My hair looks better here than it did when it was finished.


Maybe I should have someone apply makeup for me everyday?


Trying to get myself and this big dress into the backseat of this car was the exact moment that I realized how hot New York City in July can be.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 8.40.35 AM

I wish I had this conversation with my Dad on tape.


DAMN that’s a long aisle.


“Love, cherish, blah blah blah.” All KJ and I are thinking here is about how much we’re sweating.


See those faces? Those are the faces of people who can’t focus on a wedding because of how hot they are.


Kissing in front of a crowd is AWKWARD.


This is such an odd traditional photo. “Look at us! We’re married… and in a car!” Also, this shot makes me question our photographer’s skills.


What is so funny?? I’m dying to know.


Why yes, I did have seating cards in an assortment of bright colors.


These orange and hot pink tablecloths and flowers were the start of my love affair with those colors…  an affair that continues today.


First dance. Those faces are saying, “How long is this song anyway? Please let it end.” We started signaling to the band to wrap it up about four seconds into “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 12.16.17 PM

These men all said nice things about us.


Wedding planner: A candy bar? Really?  Me: You don’t know me at all. (By the way, choosing the candy for the candy bar was my first favorite part about planning the wedding.)


Wedding planner: Really, a choc…         Me: Yes, a chocolate fountain, too.


My Mom was with me the whole day.

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 8.43.34 AM

Do you think the photographer had some note that said, “Catch siblings laughing in the corner of pictures.” Because I have like six more like this. And I love them.


Me: This was fun but we out. KJ: Imma take one small drink for the road.

Twelve years is a long time, but not really. Neither of us has changed all that much. KJ still loves beer and golf and drinking beer during golf and he still loves the Yankees and the Jets and drinking beer at Yankees and Jets games. I still like margaritas.

We still disagree on when to leave for the airport but thanks to a deal we made a couple of years into our marriage,* it’s no longer up for debate.

He still likes to save money and I still like to spend it.

He still eats foods in weird combinations and mixes everything together on his plate and I still cringe when he does it.

We both still like seeing live music but admittedly he’s way more motivated about it.

We’re still bringing our specific skill sets to the family table. He’s practical, reliable and active. I’m creative, organized and lazy (yes, that’s a skill… do you think just anyone can stay on the couch in pajamas all day as often as I do?)

He has more rules for the kids, but I definitely yell more. Depending on the day, either one of us could be “the fun one.”

Lastly, and maybe most importantly for today, we’re both fine with the fact that we don’t really make a big deal about anniversaries.

Still, Happy 12th KJ.


*Shortly after we got married, I realized that our arguments about when to leave for dinners, parties, appointments and mostly, flights were going to eventually land us in a marriage counselor’s – if not divorce lawyer’s – office. (Of course, I would be 10-15 minutes early for that appointment and KJ would be an “acceptable” five minutes late.)

I proposed the following deal:

I get to pick the departure time for any event – meal, party, wedding, etc. – that has to do with my family and friends. He decides when we leave for his family’s and friends’ events. He also gets to choose our departure time for any “neutral” event – mutual friends, our own dinner dates, etc. WITH ONE EXCEPTION: flights. I always get to decide when we leave for the airport.

We still use this contract today.




June Brain



That’s pretty much all I’ve got. Because it’s June and June is nutballs crazy.

When my Mom was sick and undergoing treatment, she would blame “Chemo Brain” whenever she forgot something or couldn’t think clearly. Many of us have also experienced something similar with “Baby Brain” due to sleep deprivation and hormonal wackiness.

Well, I’m now adding June Brain* to the list of conditions that causes forgetfulness and confusion.

The cause is not chemical or hormonal, but yet “overcrowding” in the brain due to schedules that involve end of the school year parties, Field Day, concerts, teacher gifts, last soccer games, baking or shopping for party supplies, coach gifts, Moving Up ceremonies, buying napkins for parties, last baseball games, field trips to the beach, buying Popsicles, graduations and parties, end-of-the-year plays, the costumes required for end-of-the-school-year brain, and all of the other things that happen during the last three weeks of school. ALL OF THE THINGS.

I know you get it. Everyone I spoken to in the past two weeks has mentioned forgetting an appointment, missing a pick-up, screwing up a date or confusing a carpool and I have done ALL of those things this week alone.

Nobody has better explained June Brain than writer Jen Hatmaker in this post, “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever” so I won’t even try. Just READ THIS if you haven’t already.

Hang in there… one more week for my local friends, at least. WE ARE ALMOST THERE!


*This would be “May Brain” if you live in Texas or anywhere else in the South where the your school year ends in May or very, very early June.

PS. You should know that while this blog stays stagnant for many, many weeks months at a time these days, I have not given up on it entirely. I could still write about the antics of my kids – and the crazy puppy we added to the mix! – but as they get older, I recognize that their stories are more their own to share.

And while Happy Dude will often say, “You can put that on Facebook” even when he is doing something boring and normal – ike he’ll be eating pasta and not eating anything healthy ever and he’ll be like, “You can take a picture and put that on Facebook if you want.” And I’m all like, “No thanks, I’m good.” – I need to respect their privacy now that they’re old enough to complain if I don’t.

So I’m trying to decide what direction this blog should take and hoping the universe will send me some sign or something so that I don’t have to figure it out on my own.

Stay tuned… and have a GREAT summer!


Last elementary school concert 😩


Field Day madness


Paul Revere… check out that elaborate costume.


Beach Field Trip. YESTERDAY. Because this week is not crazy enough.


Not taking baseball TOO seriously. 🙄


Crazy dog, playing hide & seek

Facebook/IG Hiatus


Heeeeey, what do we have here? A BLOG post? Are people still writing those? I mean, I know I’M not. But I did document all of the pictures/updates I would have posted during my social media break, so I thought I would share them here. Here you go…

DAY 1: March 1st

I almost checked FB 22 times today. I kept a tally. Here are just a few things I wanted to post/read about today:

  • Vet recommendations
  • Two different Goldendoodle breeders’ FB pages
  • Reactions to Trump’s speech last night
  • The fact that HD really wants to name the puppy “Blue Cheese.” Thoughts?

Also, I just saw this CNN post…3.77 billion? Really? Looks more like 3.76 billion years old to me, but tomato/tomahto, I guess.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.13.27 AM


DAY 2: March 2nd

  • Caption this photo. #tbt

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.13.34 AM

  • Just heard on the radio that Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom have broken up… who even knew they were dating? kmac 2000 is really disappointed in kmac 2017 right now. Kmac 2000 would also have really enjoyed this tidbit of gossip news but kmac 2017 doesn’t care at all.


DAY 3: March 3rd

  • Anyone have a basketball hoop they want to send me? Aspiring Kobe over here has outgrown our broken Playskool hoop. (Editor’s note: we got one this weekend and we haven’t seen the Nib inside the house since then.)
  • Lori Mac KILLIN’ it driving through icy, whiteout conditions. #VTlife  #Imactingconfidentsothekidsdontfreakout #lorimacsactingconfidentsoidontfreakout #idontevenski


DAY 5: March 5th

Hardcore family skiing in 0 degree weather. I’m feeling slightly nervous that someone’s nose might fall off… but not nervous enough to do anything about it because I’m sitting here in the lodge by the fire, with my book, ALONE. So yeah, I’m good.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.13.52 AM


Day 8: March 8th

  • I would really like to be on social media today to see how “The Day Without Women” is going. Did all the women stay home? I really want to do my part, so I’m refusing to do laundry today.
  • I just found 19 copies of a March Madness bracket on my printer.  🤔


Day 9: March 9th

5-8″ of snow tonight?!? NOOOO!!! Hang in there little, purple guys! 😩

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.13.58 AM


Day 10: March 10th

The “snowstorm” is a non-event, yet here I sit, during regular school hours, surrounded by three children. I bet everyone is FREAKING OUT online.

We’re kickin it old school on this snow day with some Rock’em Sock’em Robot action. We also watercolored, had a Moana soundtrack lip sync contest, and HD made a bracket for “Most Competitive Sounding Name” (FYI, “ROEN” is the winner). We did NOT play in the snow. You know why? THERE IS NO SNOW.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.03 AM


  • Breakfast: Cereal and waffles
  • Lunch: Oatmeal
  • Dinner: Scrambled eggs and toast



Day 12: March 12th

I’ve decided that reactions to weather conditions is a big part of my social media experience. For instance, there is now a BLIZZARD coming and I have no idea if everyone’s bought their wine! Also, it seems cruel that today is National Napping Day and I can’t post about it. You’ll just have to trust me: I napped. and I napped HARD.


Day 13: March 13th

If a blizzard happens and I’m not on social media to witness the posts/school predictions/snowman pictures, did it ever really happen at all??


Day 14: March 14th

So sad about the news of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s passing. Like so many, I learned about her battle with cancer when reading her incredible moving essay, You May Want to Marry My Husband. I cried reading it and I cried even harder when I saw who the author was. And then I sobbed uncontrollably today when I heard she died. Reading Little Pea tonight and sending her family peace and light.


Day 15: March 15th

Hawaii just blocked Muslim Ban 2.0! I’ve never been so proud to be a Hawaiian (honeymooner) before!


Day 16: March 16th

We met some SUPER CUTE baby Labradoodles this morning!


And then this happened:

IMG_4541.jpg      IMG_4540.jpg

No, he wasn’t boxing.


Day 18: March 18th

So, we’re getting a puppy. A very, very hypoallergenic puppy. It’s really happening. His name is Oscar and he’ll be coming home mid-April and we met him on FaceTime today!

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.10 AM

This is a screenshot of the video the Nib took of our FaceTime session… look at HD’s face:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 8.55.07 AM.png


Day 21: March 21st

Oscar’s currently living with a trainer for a few weeks since a) I have no idea how to train a puppy and b) we got him much sooner than expected and we’re traveling next week. BUT we did get to visit him today. Slightly concerned about HD’s hives but the trainer’s house if full of dog hair so hoping that’s why. We’re going to take Oscar for a sleepover next week. Fingers crossed. I’m shocked that LO didn’t suggest taking Oscar and sending HD back. Look at this face:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.15 AM


Day 22: March 22nd:

Took the kids to see “The Play that Goes Wrong” today. I would say LO understood about 88% of it, the Nib 75% and HD, maybe 40%. But you don’t have to understand all of the references to laugh at people getting hurt on stage, so they loved it. #compassionisnotourgame

Then we went to Planet Hollywood and I should get a medal because that place is CRAZY. Also, my kids are crazy. And then I gave them giant milkshakes so THAT didn’t help.



Day 23: March 23rd

Today is National Puppy Day… yay! we have one! Boo, he doesn’t live with us yet.


Day 27: March 27th

Oscar spent the night with us last night. 😍

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.21 AM


Day 30: March 30th

This was a gift, if you can call it that. Thanks a LOT, Neil. My vision will never be the same.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.27 AM


Day 32: April 1st

Ten-year old me’s dream coming true. If only there were a Ground Round in Times Square, I could relive every birthday party I had between the ages of 7-11.



Day 34: April 3rd

HD made a list of everything Oscar will need:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.32 AM

After I read it, I asked him why Oscar will need a calendar. He said, “Well if he gets lots of friends, he’ll have lots of play dates and you’ll have to write them down so you don’t forget about them.” He’s got a point.


Day 36: April 5th

I clicked on a link that opened up Facebook today. It was an honest mistake. The link had been tiny url’ed so I didn’t know but as soon as I saw the FB logo, I closed it immediately. Please forgive me, God. (I don’t care what the rest of you people think.)


Day 37: April 6th

On a serious note, I just spent a few minutes looking at the pictures of the scene of the chemical attack in Syria. So upsetting and hard, but it feels important to look at these faces – these CHILDREN’S faces – and hold them and all of the innocent people affected by this attack in our thoughts and prayers today.

This week has been rough. From small things like my kids acting like assholes to very big things (see above) to the fact that this time of year can be hard because my Mom’s birthday is tomorrow and the anniversary of her death is the 11th and BAM, and then add it that it NEVER STOPS RAINING and well, it’s been a shitshow. Then this happened:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.38 AM

My neighbor put it perfectly when she said, “This just feels a little bit like a gift.”

Dayum Mother Nature, you so good.


Day 38: April 7th

Happy Birthday Mom… miss you everyday.



Day 41: April 10th

Yay, Florida! One of my favorite weeks of the year! #halfadozencousins

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.14.43 AM


Day 42: April 11th

At Beauty & the Beast with 13 people…

  • Tickets: $85
  • Four popcorns: $21
  • Four Crunch-a-Munch: $16
  • Two M&Ms: $8
  • One Sour Patch Kids: $4
  • Ten lemonades: $35
  • Three bottles of water: $12
  • Two Diet Cokes: $7
  • Memories of going to the movies with ten cousins that will last a lifetime: $188 freaking dollars! That’s CRAZY expensive!


Day 43: April 12th

Last day of Facebook and Instagram hiatus! Hooray!

Here’s what I’ve learned from my social media break:

  • I missed it but can certainly live without it.
  • I’m not dependent on it for my news.
  • I’m surprisingly not that much more productive without it. (I’m just not that productive, period.)
  • I didn’t have noticeably more face-to-face conversations, probably because I’m not a teenager and have not completely replaced face-to-face communications with social media.
  • I’LL NEVER LEAVE AGAIN!!! Just kidding. It wasn’t that big a deal. (Except if God’s listening, then it was HUGE sacrifice!)


2016: Our Year in Review


I wrote nine blog posts this year. NINE. I’ve fallen so far from my original goal of AT LEAST one blog post a week and I don’t even have a good excuse! I can’t blame the stress of having a baby (he’s SIX! 😩)… I can’t blame the lack of sleep (if I get less than 6-7 uninterrupted hours, it’s usually my own fault for drinking too much evening coffee)… and I can’t even blame Trump since that particular stress didn’t really start until November.

I know, I’ll blame the 5th grade homework! That shit takes up a LOT of time AND mental energy. After several pages of word problems involving fractions, division, bar graphs and so many tears (sometimes LO’s, sometimes mine) I simply don’t have any brain cells left for any other intellectual or creative endeavors. Blame the math!

But despite my lacksadaisical posting over the past 12 months, we did do a lot this year. So I wanted to take a look back and review the highlights.

JANUARY – the whole family went skiing in Vermont (and by “whole family,” I mean “almost everyone except for me and KJ”). It was a fantastic weekend… LO appreciated being one with nature on the mountaintop, the Nib turned it all into a winning game and declared himself “FIRST,” (although it’s as unclear with whom he was competing) and HD, well, he didn’t freak out about the ski boots. Success! LO is looking forward to several ski weekends with Aunt Lori this coming season… and also, the waffles they serve at Stratton Mountain.



FEBRUARY – we spent an action-packed week in Florida where the cousins all learned to skateboard over dangerous obstacles and then whipped and nay-nayed to a “professionally” choreographed dance (God bless that instructor and his patience). (The latter was easier to watch than the former.)


Oh and we all fell in love with Abe and Mary Todd, our local eagle residents. (As many of you know, this relationship ultimately resulted in extreme heartbreak when their eggs refused to hatch. We assume this also caused Abe and Mary Todd to split up and seek new partners. We’re eager to see who won the nest in the property settlement when we return in 2017. We’ll also have to come up with names for the new partners, which may be tricky, as something like “Abe and Lindsay” or “Justin and Mary Todd” don’t really roll off the tongue.)


Other February highlights…

LO performed in her first drama-class production…


And HD LOVED watching her…


MARCH – LOTS of exciting things happened in March… the kids met Grammy’s puppy, Molly, for the first time; LO got her braces off; new baby cousin Kyle was born AND HD became the first kid in our family to experience Chuck E. Cheese. HUGE month!


Other March highlights

This sunset.


APRIL – When I look back to April on the calendar, I see that that’s the month that LO spent several hours a day for four days taking the SBACs (CT schools’ standardized test). It’s also the month my sister and I took the five kids to Mexico. Not sure which one of those would be classified as the more painful experience. I’M KIDDING. LO didn’t think the test was that bad. 😏

For real, that Mexico trip was so worth it for the lifetime of laughs it has given us. If you feel like YOU need to relive it, you can do so BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

MAY – Jazzfest or Bust! Or… Jazzfest… what a bust. Boo.

Other May highlights

First official picture of the BAKER’S Dozen Cousins!


JUNE – June is always a jam-packed month full of end-of-the-school year celebratory events… parties, field day, concerts, graduations, etc. Last day of school, first days of camps, blah blah blah, summer begins!

JULY – Camp, camp, drama camp, camp, blissful all-day camp. And a Phish show! (To be clear, the camps were for the kids; the Phish show was for KJ and me.)

*Another thing to note from July is that I launched a new hobby for myself: brunching. And to more specific, brunching in New York City. After years of being envious of KJ’s hobbies that required his leaving the house for many hours at a time (golf, and sporting events) I finally found one of my own. Luckily, I have friends that have been so supportive of my new endeavor and in some cases, have picked it up as a weekend recreational activity of their own.

AUGUST – We packed up the whole family and traveled to Ireland to celebrate Aunt Lori’s birthday. Yup, we even let the Nib come. It was a great trip filled with family, fun and falcons.


LO and I also celebrated her 10th birthday with an awesome girls’ trip to Maine. That LO is one interesting kid and we both fell in love with Maine, so it was an awesome trip. The highlight for her was catching almost 100 fish during one excursion. The highlight for me was walking around Portland and hitting up all three Starbucks locations in one day. (KIDDING.) (Not really.)


SEPTEMBER – Back to school! We’ve got all three under one elementary roof this year in Kindergarten, 2nd grade and 5th grade. Which means, you can usually find me under that roof as well. Also, LO and the Nib started in the travel soccer program this fall and HD started his first year of rec soccer, which means we spend about 129 hours a week either on a soccer field or driving to/from a soccer field. (At least back in September, we still had high hopes for a great season. 🙄)


OCTOBER – Soccer, soccer, soccer, drama class, soccer, soccer, KJ’s birthday, Halloween.


NOVEMBER – HD turned SIX! Can’t stand it. He’s lost two teeth, now knows how to read and loves to lip sync songs while dancing hip hop. Like I said, I have no more babies. 😩


We celebrated the end of the longest soccer season in history, which as many of you know from my Facebook posts was an unbelievably dismal season for Team Jandora. Our final record (for the three kids’ teams combined) was 5-26-2. FIVE-TWENTY-SIX AND TWO! BAD. VERY BAD. 😩

Oh, that reminds me… also in November, the election. 😩

DECEMBER – The Nib turned EIGHT and declared himself the winner of birthdays. That kid didn’t become any less competitive this year, but he’s still a great big brother and a giant cuddler at bedtime so we’re going to keep him.


We celebrated Christmas with ALL the family and so much love and now, here we sit on New Year’s Eve, feeling happy and blessed, but ready to say goodbye to a year full of ups and downs (as all years tend to be).

I’m sure 2017 will have its down moments as well, because well, LIFE, but here’s hoping the laughs will outnumber the tears, the fun will outweigh the fear and that love will always, always win.


Happy New Year to all of you and your families!

PS. Our family created a Joy Jar this year – a physical jar where one could document a happy occasion, event or moment by jotting it down on a piece of paper and adding it to the jar. It was some sort of Christmas Miracle that I remembered to bring them to Florida (where we are now) so we could read them today, which was always the plan. We just finished reading them about 15 minutes ago and it was so awesome to remember some of our happy memories of the year… some big (“I loved our trip to Maine!”), some small (“play dates”) and some… well, I’ll let this one speak for itself:


Yeah, that was one of my happiest memories of the year, too.


An Explanation


Dear Kids,

Last week was a tough week. For all of us. And even though LO said it was because she was sad about not getting picked for the 5th grade skit and HD said he felt sad about not having a job in the Kindergarten classroom (he’s out of work! the irony!), I’m sure you were all picking up on my own mood… a toxic combination of sadness, anger and fear that I was unsuccessfully trying to hide. While I would never intentionally cause you pain, I won’t apologize for these emotions. And now I would like to try to explain them.

You guys, I’m not political. You’ve probably never heard me talk about an election before, never mind shed tears about the results. But this one, this election where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to become President of the United States is much bigger than politics.

All of you have heard stories about both candidates; you’ve all come home from school repeating the things you’ve heard from your classmates. “Trump is mean… he wants to build a wall to keep people out!” “Hillary Clinton lied!” “They’re both terrible!”

When I shared my own opinions, it was with far more respect than Donald Trump deserves. “Well,” I would start hesitantly, “I just don’t really agree with a lot of the things Donald Trump plans to do. Hillary Clinton definitely has flaws, but I think I can overlook those flaws given Trump’s general disrespect for so many people.”

“Yeah, I hate him,” one of you said.

“We don’t ‘hate’ in our house,” another one of you replied.

“Can we hate him, Mom?” you asked.

“No. We can’t,” I said. (“Yes, we can!” I wanted to scream.)

And then he won. The results of this election shocked people. It seems very few people really expected him to win. But he did and now a lot of people are scared and sad. Yup, including me.

Maybe you’re too young to hear about the different levels of fear I’m experiencing in detail… fear of war, the use of nuclear weapons, ISIS and dangerous international relationships (what I like to think of as Top Tier Fear). Fear that millions of people will lose the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, marry the person they love, or come to this country seeking a better, safer life than one they’ve left behind. (Mid Tier Fear)*

*Smart people keep reassuring me with reminders of the checks and balances in our government (you’ll learn all about this someday… possibly from an animated TV cartoon like I did) and about how Trump is already backtracking on some of his campaign “promises.” At the same time, he’s hiring a lot of dangerous people to be his “helpers.” People who don’t believe that women should get to make decisions about their own body. People who deny that climate change is affecting our planet. People who are too inexperienced to be qualified to help the President of the United States (who, in this case, is also too inexperienced for the job). So unfortunately, the whole “checks and balances” argument isn’t THAT reassuring.

And last, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the Third Tier Fear, which I’ve come to think of as Our New Everyday Reality. A society divided. A rapid increase in hate crimes. What used to be a shadowy specter of bias and hate has emerged from the darkness and now walks proudly on our city streets and in our rural towns.

Young Muslim woman are being assaulted for wearing hijabs. Gay men are being attacked for holding hands. Swastikas are being painted on dorm buildings. Racial slurs are being thrown in the faces of black women. Threats of sexual assault are being hurled at white college students. All of this is happening with glee.

Kids, Donald Trump has dismissed and disrespected so many subsets of our population – Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, veterans, the LGBT community, people with disabilities and women – that really only white men remain untouched by his poisonous forked-tongue.

And now an ugly subset of our population, who desperately want to act on their hate, feel emboldened and empowered to do so. This election has given them a green light to publicize and act on their bigotry with intimidation tactics and violent crimes that they may have been more inclined to hide previous to last week. They’ve interpreted Trump’s win as a permission slip to hate and hurt people.

This is why when I hear “It’s time to move on… why are you still so sad?” all I can think is, “Why are you not?”

This is also where my ignorance comes in… that ugly subset is so much bigger than I imagined. They were quieter before and the shield of the Bubble* prevented me from being disrupted by their noise.

*What’s the Bubble? Keep reading.

Maybe you’re too young to hear about the rage that I’m feeling. I won’t tell you that every time I think about Trump as the President, I have this vision of him grabbing the private parts of young women – because he’s done that you guys AND bragged about it – and in my head, they’re always girls who I know. My sisters’ and cousins’ and nieces’ and yes, my daughter’s, faces… and then I feel rage.

(HD, remember how just yesterday we talked about boys and girls having different private parts and how nobody should EVER touch ANY part of your body without your permission? Well, I don’t think anybody ever taught Donald Trump that rule.) 

There are young women all over the country who are being treated badly by boys on a regular basis. A lot of them think it could be worse, so they don’t tell anybody. Or they think, maybe I did something to deserve that bad treatment, so they don’t tell anybody. Some people try to tell these women “What’s happening or happened to you, is NOT YOUR FAULT. You need to speak up and you will be supported.” But now those women aren’t so sure. Who will support them? Surely not the people that just elected the guy who bragged about grabbing women’s bodies without their consent.

Do you see why that makes me so mad?

What do I tell you guys when you play Wrestle Baby? “NO MEANS NO and STOP MEANS STOP,” and “Your bodies belong to yourself and NO one else.” I don’t think anyone ever taught Donald Trump that rule either.

It’s very important to note that not ALL people who voted for Trump are racist or hateful. This is true. But remember the conversations we’ve had about bullying? About how standing by and doing nothing is just as harmful as bullying itself. That’s my problem with this election. Donald Trump is a bully. A lot of bullies voted for him and a lot of people that maybe aren’t bullies voted for him as well… but they just stood by and watched.

I read this comment online: “I know that if you voted for Trump, it doesn’t necessarily mean you openly hate people of other races/sexual orientations/nationalities/religions. But it DOES mean that you believe that whatever you have prioritized [finances, gun rights, whatever] is more important than the basic human rights of these people.”


Maybe you’re too young to understand why people voted for him.  

Simply put, a LOT of people in this country are desperate for a change. Some of them have lost their jobs and think Trump will help them find one. Some of them live in towns that are very poor and they think Trump will help fix that. Some of them think Hillary Clinton would take their guns away. Some of them simply hated Clinton so much, that Trump seemed like the better option. And some of them simply don’t like the way this country looks and sounds now – a colorful rainbow of people, speaking different languages and worshipping different Gods.

I’m sure most of them didn’t want the election results to immediately cause an increase in hate crimes. Hopefully most of them wouldn’t intentionally bully a Muslim woman or a gay teenager. But guys, remember the whole standing by and doing nothing is just as harmful as bullying itself thing?

And now, because we elected this bully to be President, all of those victims are scared. Really, really scared. And THIS is why I’m still so sad.

Side note about sadness: I’ve been called “too sensitive” before. And “overly-emotional.” “Tender-hearted.” “Weak,” even. But what I’m realizing is this: if all of those things means that I feel things deeply, that I give a shit* about people, that I lean towards acceptance and take offense to those who don’t, than I’ll take those labels and wear them proudly. (Except weak – I won’t take that one… Because loving ALL people and standing up for ALL people is the opposite of weak.)

*Yes, I said a bad word. No, you may not.

Now you guys, I want to tell you about The Bubble in which we live. It’s not a Bubble you can see (that’d be cool, right?) but a metaphoric protective shield around our lives. It means the following:

We never struggle financially. We are – and always have been – guaranteed food on our table, vacations, many gifts under the Christmas tree and all of the other lavish things that money can buy. You guys need new sneakers? No problem. Let’s go online and pick them out. You guys want a new toy? Put it on your birthday list and it will almost definitely appear (as long as it’s not a living creature… sorry LO). The new clothes, the piles of gifts, the after-school activities, the fact that Mom doesn’t work outside the home… this is the Bubble.

We live in a community that is predominantly white. Your interactions with people of color are minimal; therefore the reality of racism in this country is foreign to you. I can talk until I’m out of breath about how we should treat ALL people with kindness and respect, regardless of any differences. But you haven’t had them many times to put those practices in action because the majority of your peers and adults in our community look the same as you do. This is the Bubble.

And the biggest problem with the Bubble, you guys, is that when you spend so much time INSIDE the Bubble, you start to feel like it’s your right to be there. That you’re entitled to all of those things that happen inside the bubble… all the luxuries, all the good stuff. But that is simply not true. We are not owed anything. (Especially in our case, where you guys and I live in the Bubble because Pop and Grammy and Daddy worked their butts off for many years to allow us to move in here.)

We just got lucky, you guys! The three of you, and me… we’re just plain lucky.

Outside of the Bubble, people are struggling to buy food for their families and some kids feel lucky to have any toys at all. Some children don’t see their parents that much because they’re working two jobs. Some kids feel nervous walking to school because they live in neighborhoods where there’s a lot of violence on the streets. Some kids wear special clothing or symbols of their religion and get made fun of – or worse – because of that. This is happening ALL OF THE TIME outside of the Bubble.

(Kids, lest you think the Bubble is impermeable, don’t. Just this week, I’ve learned about several hundred of our local high schoolers belonging to a FB group where racist and other offensive content was being shared. And I heard that there were chants of “Build that wall! Build that wall!” on one of the middle school buses. The Bubble isn’t a complete seal.)

So what do we do now? Good question.

In the Bubble, it’s very easy to complain and cry… and then go back to our nice, comfortable lives and kind of forget why we were so sad and angry.

But I’m going to really try to not do that this time. Because I see now that if I want YOU guys to stand up to the bullies, than I kind of have to do it, too.

So here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • I’ve donated money to Planned Parenthood, Together Rising, the Future Project, the ACLU, the Boys & Girls Club, The Center for Reproductive Rights and the NAACP. Some of them are recurring monthly donations.
  • I’ve joined online communities (both national and local) that promise to work together to take action against the assault on human rights.
  • I signed up to volunteer weekly at a school in a neighboring town helping less-privileged children with their reading and other schoolwork. And I’d really like to bring you guys with me… because it’s time to expose you guys to the world outside of the Bubble.
  • And lastly, I booked a hotel room for Inauguration weekend in Washington DC in hopes of participating in the Million Woman March to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. What good does marching do? It tells the world that so many of us are NOT OK with what’s happening in the US. It tells young women everywhere, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBT community that so many of us are not OK with the way they’re being treated. It sends a message.

OK, wow this long. The last thing I want to say to you guys is this: The world is not perfect; people are not perfect. I think our country got this one wrong because too many people acted out of hate and fear. They prioritized CHANGE over WRONG.

The good news is this was extremely eye-opening for a lot of people, including me, so maybe some good come will come out it. I hope so.

I love you guys so much.

“Love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and broken Hallelujah.” – Leonard Cohen


I’ve always maintained that this blog is a way for me to document important moments of my kids’ childhoods, in my own way and voice. This post is just another example of that… a letter to my kids to explain my sadness. I understand that by putting this “out there” I’ve invited feedback, comments, etc. I welcome that. But I ask that should you feel inclined to comment, you do so respectfully. That’s kind of the whole point, right?