making emergency kits for refugees

11.02.17

Assembling Emergency School Kits for Refugees @ohbotherblog

Since January 20, 2017, I have personally been trying to make small, positive efforts when I feel appalled about current events.

On January 27, I started a monthly gift to Planned Parenthood because I believe we all should have access to comprehensive and affordable healthcare. On January 29, I started a monthly gift to the ACLU because I believe that the rights and liberties of all people matter. This week, I purchased some Spanish-language early-learner novels to donate to our local public school district in response to the appointment of the current Secretary of Education. 

I’ve also been working on a project with some friends since the January 28 announcement of a certain “travel ban.” Feeling helpless, I googled ways that I could help refugees in my own small way and I found IOCC, International Orthodox Christian Charities.

IOCC offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination. An average of 92 cents on every dollar donated goes directly to assisting the people IOCC serves, in areas like Syria, Lebanon, Jerusalem, Haiti, the United States and more.

One of IOCC’s initiatives is the Donation of Emergency Kits. Emergency kits are small packages of essential supplies assembled in the United States and shipped to people in need around the world.

Types of Kits

  1. Health / Hygiene Kits – Curb the spread of disease by donating basic hygiene items.
  2. School Kits – Give a child the tools needed to succeed at school.
  3. Clean-up Buckets – Help people clean up after a natural disaster.

I bought enough materials to make 12 School Kits for about $100, including the canvas bags. I wanted to make it an activity I could do with my kids, so I showed Holdy this video before we got started to help frame the conversation:

Assembling and Sending Emergency Kits:

  1. Choose which type of kit (or kits) you wish to assemble and only include items specified on each list.
  2. Download the IOCC Emergency Kits Return Shipping Label to fill out an include one on the outside of each box.
  3. You can plan on $2-$3 per kit to cover the cost of shipping to the warehouse. Mail all kits to one of the below addresses.
USPS Shipments FedEx or UPS Shipments
IOCC/Church World Service
Brethren Service Center Annex
601 Main Street
PO Box 188
New Windsor, MD 21776
IOCC/Church World Service
Brethren Service Center Annex
601 Main Street
New Windsor, MD 21776

With the help of my friends, Kevan, Emily, Sara, Andy, Sarah and Jennifer, I delivered 32 School Kits and 14 Hygiene Kits to IOCC this morning.

I’ll continue to take action when and how I can. If you find yourself feeling angry and helpless, I encourage you to do the same.

chatbooks

14.01.17

I was browsing Facebook today, when I came across a video that resonated with me:

I love photo books but have absolutely no time to make them. I still haven’t finished GB’s baby book on Shutterfly and he’ll be three in March. So I decided to give Chatbooks a try.

Chatbooks links with your Instagram, Facebook or iPhone favorites to automatically populate a photo book. When you get to 60 photos, your book is made. 

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

You can go in and exclude any photos you don’t want to have printed. I post a lot of food photos, apparently, and obviously don’t need a printed book of all the food I’ve eaten, thank you.

You can also edit your cover photos, choose not to include your Instagram captions, etc.

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

And then… you order your book! The standard book comes with a soft cover and costs $8. You can upgrade to a hard cover for $5.

Chatbooks works on a subscription system as you fill your books: you can indicate if you want books immediately sent out once filled, 1 a month, 5 a month or 10 a month. 

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

I spent about an hour this morning setting up my account and excluding all of my Instagram photos from the past 5 and a half years (that’s a lot of food photos). Because I had about 15 books’ worth of photos, I signed up for the “5 a month” subscription to get myself caught up. If’/when you want to change your subscription level, you can do that at any time.

You can also order individual prints and seasonal books!

Chatbooks @ohbotherblog

We all know we post our “best” photos on social media, so looking back, these seemed to be a pretty fair representation of our life for the past five years.

If you’re a hot mess like me, I have a feeling Chatbooks will work for you. Give it a shot!

*Disclosure: these links to Chatbooks are “Friends” links. You’ll get your first book free and if I get five friends to sign up, I’ll get a free 5-year subscription to Chatbooks!

Happy Ohbotherdays 2016

19.12.16

Okay, so the printing and sending of Christmas cards is not happening this year, but we did manage a tripod-timer photo shoot, so give me some points for that.

So it’s my pleasure to present the (digital) 2016 ohbotherblog Christmas Card:

christmas-card-2016

Here are past years’ cards so you can see how we’ve grown:

Christmas Card Photos 2015 @ohbotherblog

the oh bother christmas card 2014 @ohbotherblog

Merry Merry!

Hello Belsnickel, Goodbye Elf on the Shelf

05.12.16

Last year, my partner introduced the kids and me to the character of Belsnickel, Santa’s grouchy “cousin.”

Legend has it: Shortly before Christmas, a dirty, disheveled, cranky man wearing furs would arrive at your house. He held a hickory switch in one hand and a sack full of candy and nuts in the other.

He would call the children forward and asked them to recite a poem, a Bible verse or math equations. He’d warn them to behave. Then he’d toss the goodies on the floor — and if the greedy kids dove for the candy, he’d hit them on the back with the switch. 

Belsnickel (also Belschnickel, Belznickle, Belznickel, Pelznikel, Pelznickel) is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities. ~ Wikipedia

Basically, the whole thing was to scare kids into behaving… for Santa. Not unlike a certain other Christmas character who sits on a shelf.

Unsurprisingly, Holden LOVES Belsnickel… so much in fact that she asked for a Belsnickel doll this year.

So I’m doing her one better: I’m replacing our Elf on the Shelf with Belsnickel. I despise the Elf on the Shelf. I have written about how terrible I am at participating in the Elf on the Shelf Christmas bullshit. I think a dirty, fur-wearing, crotchety old man is a much better ploy for getting my kids to behave during the holidays. And I don’t have to put him in any ridiculous positions.

Belsnickel Doll for Christmas @ohbotherblog

I bought this awesome Nordic Gnome from DaVinci Doll Designs on etsy and I’ll glue a little stick into his hand. And that, my friends, is my Elf on the Shelf replacement, Belsnickel.

I also bought this awesome Belsnickel card from Famous Last Cards on etsy that I’m going to frame as part of my holiday decor:

Belsnickel Card @ohbotherblog

That’s your boy, Dwight Schrute, who also happens to love Belsnickel:

Happy Holidays! Hope you’re kids are more admirable than impish!

a magical freaking december

02.12.16

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar @ohbotherblog

I’m trying really hard to make Christmas magical this year, so I’ve decided we’re going to have a magical freaking December.

I found this Threshold Stocking Advent Calendar Garland on clearance at Target the day after Christmas last year and held on to it for a whole year to hatch this plan.

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar @ohbotherblog

Every day, the kids will remove a slip of paper from the numbered stocking to reveal what fun Christmasy thing we’re doing that night.

Christmas Activity Advent Calendar @ohbotherblog

For the First of December, we went Christmas decoration shopping (hey, sometimes you have to throw some practicality into the mix).

I’ll be honest, a lot of our “activities” consisted of me cross-referencing the Freeform 25 Days of Christmas schedule for holiday movies that are playing each night.

Other activities will include our Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony, visits to various Christmas lights displays, making gingerbread houses, baking cookies, and probably just a good old fashioned piling in the car to look at Christmas lights.

Magical Freaking December, here we come.

the great outback give back

08.11.16

I’ll be honest: as a mom of two young kids, I don’t do much dining out. My kids are not quite fit for public consumption. But when a representative for Outback Steakhouse reaches out and asks you to do a sponsored blog post in exchange for some Outback swag, you sell your soul for some bloomin’ onion.

To celebrate Outback Steakhouse’s grand opening in York at the West Manchester Town Center (380 Town Center Drive in West Manchester Township), the restaurant is hosting a Charity Give Back event tomorrow, October 9, in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of York & Adams Counties. A portion of sales for the day will go directly to the organization.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
11am–10pm
Ribbon cutting at 4pm

As a restaurant owner myself, I found it super interesting to do a little digging into the history of Outback Steakhouse. Four friends–Chris Sullivan, Bob Basham, Tim Gannon and Trudy Cooper–opened the first Outback in Tampa, FL in 1988.

“It was in very bad shape, and it smelled like alcohol,” Cooper said. They laid down the cheapest flooring they could find — wood reclaimed from an old basketball court. And the decor? “I was collecting things out of antique stores — bullhorns and sheep shears, some dirty rugby equipment that a friend had,” Cooper said. “The night or so before we opened, we sat here with a six-pack of beer and hung decor, literally screwing stuff to the wall.”

Things started off so slowly, “we used to have to get our employees to park in the parking lot to make it look like it was busy,” Basham said.

Holden, I’m sure, would appreciate Outback’s “no rules, just right” philosophy, so when we decide to venture out for dinner again, perhaps we’ll take a trip down unda’.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters: For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. For more information, visit www.bbbsyorkadams.org.

#sponsored

growing up holdy

07.10.16

I’ve debated writing a post like this for a long time. I’m not sure if I was embarrassed, or if I didn’t want to overshare something my daughter might be upset about later, or if I just didn’t want to get into it. So I didn’t write it.

But as the months have gone by and I’ve talked about it more, and people have come to me with questions and help for their own kids, I’ve decided it’s time for this post. Because it is nothing to be ashamed about, because I think Holdy would always choose to help others, and because I kind of just need to get it out now.

Most of you know Holdy from my posts, from her funny faces in my Instagram photos and her fashionista hashtag, #whatholdywore. You know that she is fun and vivacious and silly and creative and strong and brave. She lives life out loud.

 

Someone’s starting Pre-K at York Day Nursery today! #weefees #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

But last winter, I started to realize that the size of Holdy’s emotions and reactions to negative situations seemed to be more extreme than other kids. She was frequently and easily frustrated. She would throw a tantrum on a dime: huge, Exorcist-style tantrums that could last for 45 minutes. I noticed that, as a tantrum was starting, she would rub her feet together–almost as if the emotion was fighting to get out of her. One time at school, she had kicked her shoes off during a tantrum and rubbed her feet together so vigorously that she blistered and bled. The physical aspect of her emotional reactions really scared me.

Parenting a toddler @ohbotherblog

There was also the defiance, which was off the charts–even for a threenager. Extreme excitability and impulsivity. Bedtime was a nightmare. We were getting some negative reports from school–reports that Holdy was bullying other kids, specifically picking out the meeker kids that she felt she could control.

I felt like I was always walking on eggshells, not sure which Holdy I was going to get. Everything came down to picking my battles–was this “lesson” worth the 45 minutes of horror that would ensue? I hate to say this, but I dreaded picking her up from school. I could feel my blood pressure rise every time I pulled into the parking lot. I felt like a failure.

People tried to reassure me, “she’s just three;” “all preschoolers are like that.” But I knew there was something more. So I made an appointment with her pediatrician and I started scheduling sit-downs with her teachers. And together we worked out a plan.

Holdy and I started attending family counseling in March. These sessions mainly consist of me airing my grievances while Holdy plays with the counselor’s toys. We work on behavior goals and tactics for me to try positive parenting and keep Holdy on track. Honestly, it’s more like parental counseling for me and I’m fine with that. I also took a Positive Parenting Workshop in the spring offered by Holden’s school.

growing up holdy @ohbotherblog

In July, I took Holdy to see Dr. Susan Mayes, a pediatric psychologist at Penn State Hershey, for an evaluation. In advance of her appointment, I, her dad, our counselor and her teachers filled out extensive questionnaires about Holdy’s behaviors. The appointment consisted of 45 minutes of alone time with Holdy and the doctor, while Holden played games that were actually various tests. Afterward, they brought me in for the recap and diagnosis.

And so I got the official word on what I had pretty much known all along: Holdy has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder combined type (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), often associated with ADHD.

I was a bit taken aback to learn that Holden was also diagnosed with dysgraphia, which is a difficulty with handwriting and letter recognition. According to the tests she took, Holdy’s IQ is in the “gifted” range and she did very well with puzzles, reasoning and vocabulary… but her performance on writing skills and letter recognition were very low, which led to the diagnosis.

I had just assumed she had terrible handwriting because she was four, but once I learned about the disorder, things came together. Holden doesn’t write her name in a straight line–sometimes she writes it like a box. Some of her letters are written backwards. Dysgraphia is a graphomoter disorder that will require a lot of remediation and accommodations.

So there it was. Out in the open and down on paper. Verified.

image

I felt… relieved. Relieved that this wasn’t all in my head. Relieved that I wasn’t just a terrible parent who doesn’t know how to control my kid. Relieved that there was help on the way.

But I also felt sad. Sad knowing that this is something Holden can’t control and doesn’t understand. Sad that this is something she will struggle with her whole life. Sad to learn that kids with ADHD and ODD frequently deal with frustration, low morale, and poor self esteem because they’re constantly being scolded.

So again, we worked out a plan. We’ve started wraparound services and Holden has a therapist who works with her at school a few hours a week, helping to redirect her when she sees Holden being triggered. Soon we will also have a therapist come to our home a couple of hours a week in the evening.

The teachers and leadership at Holdy’s school, York Day Nursery, have been amazing through this entire process. They truly care about Holdy and want to help her succeed. We’ve been working together to make accommodations for Holdy during her school day, including:

  • a behavior plan and reward system to promote attention and compliance,
  • cues, redirection, repetition, and rehearsal,
  • frequent and specific feedback,
  • limited distractors,
  • breaking tasks into small, manageable segments,
  • preferential seating near the teacher and between peers who are attentive,
  • subtle signal system between Holden and her teacher to be used when Holden is off task,
  • hands-on activities that allow for active involvement,
  • computer learning activities (because children with ADHD are generally attentive to and successful with
  • computer educational programs),
  • frequent communication between parents and teachers.

When Holden starts kindergarten, she’ll require an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, to help her be a successful student. If we decided to try medication, we’ll be able to do that once she turns five.

#whatholdywore @ohbotherblog

For my part, I’ve been trying very hard to work on my patience, to try to praise the good more than I’m pointing out the bad, to keep her on task, to not put her in situations where she’s set up to fail. It’s not always easy. 

Last week, as we were hurriedly driving away from a family dinner out that ended early (and badly), Holdy was writhing in her carseat, trying very hard to use her coping skills and deep breathing to ward off a tantrum. She told us, “I want to be good, but it’s so hard.”

So, we’re figuring it out. No day is the same. I often regret the way I react or handle our interactions. I still often feel like I’m failing her. 

Sometimes when I’m feeling bad about the situation, I return to Dr. Mayes’ assessment, which included the line:

Holden enjoys a warm and affectionate relationship with her mother (who accompanied her to today’s appointment) and was happy to be re-united with her after testing. Holden’s mother interacts with Holden in a very loving and therapeutic manner and uses excellent behavioral strategies and accommodations.

 

Me and my +1. @susquehannastyle #BestofYork

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

I also remind myself of the assessment summary:

SUMMARY: Holden is a very likable 4-year- old with superior verbal and nonverbal intelligence who has ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, and dysgraphia (difficulty with handwriting).

She’s going to have some challenges in her life, but it’s my job to help her get through them so that she can let her goofball self shine.

 

Born to be wild #weefees #yorkfair

A video posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

Home Sweet (New) Home

20.07.16

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

We’ve moved! Yes, again. 

As you may know, I’m pretty involved in the revitalization of our Downtown. I work for our economic development organization, I own a business downtown, I’ve joined the board of a local charter school. Everything in our lives was converging upon Downtown… so we decided to put ourselves there too.

So, we bought this charming old house, built in 1912. The house was actually purchased last year, but we allowed the current tenants to hang out for a bit. So, come this summer, they moved out and the renovation began.

One full month of work: paint, floors, lighting, bathrooms. We’re so happy with the results–it’s amazing what just a little facelift can do.

Living Room: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Dining Area: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Kitchen: Before & After (the kitchen had been updated not too long ago, so luckily we didn’t have too much work to do here).

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Upstairs Hallway: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Playroom: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Kids’ Room: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Kids’ Bathroom: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Master Suite: Before & After

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

Here are some of my most favorite rooms:

The Kids’ Playroom! 
The second floor of the house has three rooms all dedicated to the kids. Because they’re sharing a room (for now), we have room for a playroom and family room that’s all theirs. 

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

The Kids’ Bedroom!

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

The Kitchen!
We added the faux-tin backsplash and light fixtures as an easy pick-me-up. The little figurines on the cabinets are old liquor decanters painted by my Great Grandma.

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

We even had time for a little DIY project in the few weeks since we’ve moved in. Funny story: I felt like the protruding wall in the living room was just begging for a faux fireplace mantel. A friend pointed out that there’s most likely an actual fireplace behind the wall–sure enough, there’s a chimney there! I’m not really into doing any more demo right now, so this faux fireplace will have to do in the meantime:

Faux Mantel Project @ohbotherblog

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

We have a friend painting a chalkboard hearth for us to go inside–I can’t wait to post the final results!

We absolutely love living Downtown. We take a walk every night, we visit playgrounds, ride our bikes on the Rail Trail, walk to Downtown shops and restaurants, flag down the ice cream truck, check out local historical buildings, play Pokemon-Go and talk to our neighbors. I’ll share more as we continue to settle in!

Downtown York PA living @ohbotherblog

to my daughter on her fourth birthday

07.06.16

Christmas Card Photos 2015 @ohbotherblog

Holden, Holden, Holden. My little (not so little?) ham, performer, comedian, fashionista, artist, American Ninja Warrior, feminist, kitchen helper, dawdler, (sometimes) sweetie. You are four years old today.

Holden, my dear, you are something else. When I asked you two weeks ago what you wanted to do for your birthday you said, “punch someone in the face.”

(I should add that you did later request a hug from your mom and a kiss from your brother for your birthday. You’re sweet like that sometimes. You also said you wanted your Duke to give you soda for your birthday. Here’s hoping your requests will always be this easy.)

For the record, your presents this year are a pink baseball glove and a pink bike helmet. We’re all going to a York Revolution baseball game tomorrow night to celebrate.

Someone once described you as “living life out loud.” Mind you, you were only two at the time so your strong personality has shown from the very beginning (I’d even say from the months you spent kicking me before barreling into this world a week early). Everything about you–minus your tiny little body–is big. 

 

This freaking kid. #weefees #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

Big hazel eyes. Big joyful smile. Big messy perpetual bedhead. Big, bold fashion choices. Big singing and dancing performances (any time and anywhere). Big strangling hugs around your brother’s neck. Big displays of affection. Big, explosive meltdown tantrums.

You see, I’ve come to believe that you feel stronger than other people. You have really big emotions, kid. And that’s okay. We’re learning how to work with them. I’m learning how to work with them.

 

“I’m the boss.” #weefees

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 

Four is the magic number I had hoped for the past two years would flip a switch and immediately imbue you with the ability to self-soothe, reason and empathize. I’m wondering if the last two weeks in particular have been your body fighting to get the last of the threes out of you. It’s been rough.

“Threenager” is a term I thought was invented by mommy bloggers for Facebook Likes. I’m here to tell you that the threenager is real. I have seen into our future this past year and I’m frightened. But luckily we have nine years to get our shit together, buddy.

It’s been quite a year. You started at York Day Nursery in the fall and it’s been wonderful. Your teachers are Miss Catie and Miss Nikki. You love to make art and every day you come home with at least six pieces of construction paper with various scribbles and random things glued to them. Every day, I throw most of these papers away. I’m sorry, dude. I promise that I keep the really good ones or the ones that have your hand or footprints on them, but this house would look like an episode of Hoarders if I kept all of your art. 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to me! Thanks #weefees!

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 

I did, of course, keep this self portrait.

 

Holden drew a self-portrait. #weefees #ohbotherblog #kidart #accidentalpenis

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 

You love to climb and play outside. You really are an exceptional climber, mastering the monkey bars before you were even three. I still legitimately want to find you some Parkour classes.

 

ANW #weefees

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 

You took ballet classes this year on Thursday mornings at the Strand-Capitol. Your recital is this weekend and you’re dancing to an absolutely terrible song called “I Can Sing a Rainbow.” You seem to enjoy it but we won’t be returning after your non-dance-mom mom was chastised for providing you with the wrong shade of pink ballet slippers and not watching the required YouTube video to twist the pre-approved bun for you.

Holden the Ballerina @ohbotherblog

This seems like a good time to insert a plea to remember that I’m always trying my best for you and your brother. Even if that means you show up late to dress rehearsal with a messy bun and dirty tights while eating a cheeseburger because mom had to leave work early to rush you across town.

This timely internet-approved story came out the day after said dress rehearsal, so I’d like to think that this child is your kindred spirit and I want to remind you too to be the Hot-Dog Princess you wish to see in the world.

Hot Dog Princess

Speaking of hot dogs, they are one of the foods you will currently eat. Hot dogs, cheeseburgers, “peanut jelly sandwiches”–basically anything you can eat with your hands. I’ve been getting away with “charcuterie” and veggie “trays” lately. You also still of course love pancakes and eating breakfast for dinner. You could eat your weight in berries. You love carbs and pastries. When I asked what you wanted for your birthday dinner, you said “cheeseburgers, cake and marshmallows.” So that’s what we’ll be having.

 

Mommy-Holdy morning at @glazinyork before school. #weefees #breakfastofchampions #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on


So the eating is still a struggle for us. And don’t even get me started on the sleeping.

About five months ago, we moved GB’s crib over to your room to ease some of your bedtime worries. I debated over doing it because GB was such an excellent sleeper, but I remembered having trouble sleeping myself and the times I would drag my brother over to my bed in the middle of the night, so I decided to give it a shot.

It, surprisingly, has not been that bad. Bedtime itself is a little crazier, but for the most part, the sleeping through the night has gone smoothly. You do try every trick in the book to avoid going to bed–needing water, needing chapstick, being afraid of the dark, having to pee. I gave you a mini flashlight to sleep with and a dreamcatcher above your bed and every night, I tell you a story about the good dreams you will have that night. 

By the way, you literally sleep with two bags of junk in bed with you and freak out if I try to put them on the floor.

 

OH MY GAWD

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

About your roommate: GB. That kid adores you. Literally one of his first words was “Holdy.” He said your name a good several months before he said mine. Before you shared a room, the first thing he would ask when he woke up was “Where’s Holdy?”

Please don’t abuse that power, buddy. I hope you’ll always be his idol and that you take that seriously and strive to be a good example for him. You guys are partners in crime. You rile each other up. You’re pretty good at sharing with him, but he’s better at sharing with you. He likes to get his toenails painted so he can be like you.

 

#whatholdywore #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on


You continue to set trends with your outfit choices. We still use your hashtag #whatholdywore to share some of your best work with your adoring Internet fans, though like everything else (this blog included), I lapse a bit in updating it regularly.

 

#whatholdywore #chaps #ohbotherblog

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

You are four years old today. I could marvel at that fact and lament, “where has the time gone?” but I am daily reminded of the saying “the years are short but the days are long.” It’s all true. It gets rough sometimes (almost daily), but I’m glad you’re mine.

Happy Birthday, Punk. You are the best, most-challenging, most-joyful, most-infuriating thing that has ever happened to me. I love you very much. I will not let you punch me in the face today, though.

Blizzard Jonas 2016 @ohbotherblog

 

#sundayfunday #minime #madeinyork #snowbarn

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

 

At Miss Vio’s Fairy Tea Party Birthday @arthur_daughter

A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on

5 Years Later: Ladybug’s In Heaven

28.04.16

I had a really hard time finding this article that was written about my nanny after her death in 2011. I’m putting it here so I never lose it again.

Ladybug Tattoos for Nanny

Mike Argento: Ladybug’s in heaven

MIKE ARGENTO

POSTED:   10/26/2011 02:34:19 PM MDT| UPDATED:   5 YEARS AGO
 
Evelyn Snouffer had a thing for ladybugs.When she’d see one outside, she’d pick it up and hold it, hoping its good luck would rub off on her. Whenever she went to Atlantic City, she’d take her talisman, a stone ladybug that she believed brought her luck in her quest to wrest a few dollars from the casinos.

There may be something to it, if you believe in such things. Nearly every culture on Earth believes ladybugs bring good luck, probably because they eat harmful pest – aphids, mostly. In some countries, ladybugs are said to omens of good crops. Some believe they can grant wishes. The French believe that if a lady bug lands on you and flies away, it carries all of your ailments with it.

Evelyn didn’t go that far. She did believe they were good luck and she was crazy about them. She had ladybug pins and earrings. And, of course, her good luck token.

But don’t let that lead you to believe that she was some woman doting over ladybugs. Her grandchildren all called her “Nanny,” conjuring images of a kind of Norman Rockwell grandma, sitting in her rocking chair or baking cookies. That wasn’t her style.

She was kind of a free spirit. One of her daughters, Linda Hess, described her as her BFF, that she was a good friend and a mother. One of her granddaughters, Meagan Hess Feeser, described her as “badass.”

She and her granddaughter would try to outdo each other when it came to stringing together colorful chains of expletives, holding contests to see who could be more obscene, who could stretch the envelope further. Evelyn won a lot. Her favorite expression was “damn good.” Ask her how she was doing, or how her sandwich was, or how her cup of coffee tasted, and she’d say, “Damn good.”

For her 69th birthday, her granddaughter threw her an adult-themed party. She enjoyed it.

When she’d get together with her daughters and granddaughters, she was just one of the girls, going shopping or taking weekend trips to Cape May, a place she loved like no other. And she relished beating her daughter at cards – 500 rummy – something she did frequently.

Her daughter said she was always fun to be around. She knew how to have a good time and never passed up the opportunity to do so.

She first got sick in the summer of 2010. She started getting headaches and wound up at the doctor’s office. Some tests later, she got the bad news – she had a brain tumor. She didn’t make a huge deal about it. Even after the diagnosis, she still mowed her own lawn and took care of herself. She wasn’t one to mope.

She had surgery in October 2010 to have the tumor removed. She was recovering from that when she got sick again, this time, cancer. In the spring, as the ladybugs were returning, she had hospice care in her home. Her family took care of her, round-the-clock for 18 days, right up the end.

She died April 28. She was 74.

Her granddaughter Meagan wanted to memorialize her with ink. She’s a marketing professional in Owings Mill, Md. – she commutes from York – and is not heavily into tattoos. She does have another, the Hess family crest, which she shares with her mother and father.

Her initial thought was to have the words “Damn Good” inked on her body. She mentioned getting a tattoo to memorialize Nanny to her aunts and cousins and they were all for it. But some of them balked at having “Damn Good” permanently affixed to their bodies.

Someone suggested a ladybug.

It was perfect.

So during a Mother’s Day weekend trip to Cape May, the women, six of them altogether, spent eight hours that Saturday in a tattoo parlor, getting ladybug ink. The toughest sell was Linda Hess’ sister, Donna Wolfgang. She has no other tattoos and wasn’t crazy about getting one. But since everybody else was doing it, and mostly because of Nanny, she went ahead with it.

The next day, Mother’s Day, they gathered on the beach and spread Nanny’s ashes.

And not long ago, another of Nanny’s daughters, missing her family, moved back to York County from Florida. Her family had a party on the deck at Linda’s house to welcome her home.

Someone noticed that a ladybug had crawled onto one of the benches and stayed there. It sat there all night, as if it were hanging out at the party, as if it were taking everything in.

“It was like Nanny was there with us,” Meagan said.

Mike Argento’s column appears Mondays and Fridays in Living and Sundays in Viewpoints. Reach him at mike@ydr.com or 771-2046. Read more Argento columns at www.ydr.com/mike or visit his blog at www.mikeargento.com. Or follow him on Twitter at FnMikeArgento.

 
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