A House Tells a Story

“Day after day in a good life, you learn your family is the journey.”

-Ron Carlson
“A Kind of Flying”


I have been negligent on the blogging front mostly because we are in the process of moving. I have spent my days moving station wagon loads full of stuffed animals and dolls, picking paint colors, negotiating furniture purchases with my husband and…feeling nostalgic about our “old” house.

Mike and I bought this house in 2005. We had been dating a year and a half. When we first looked at the house, I admired the large farm sink that took over the kitchen. The owner said, “a lot of babies have bathed in that sink.” It was the most terrifying and beautiful statement all at once. It spoke of the home’s history and import. But, I was 25. No babies were bathing in my sink for a while.

Our house was built in 1798 and needed a LOT of work. We did the work. We tore out walls. We lived with no walls around the toilet. We lived with meals made in a toaster oven. We worked and worked and worked on that house. Until it was home.



But, eventually, marriage followed. Then Parker, then Celia. One of my best friends was our tenant at one point. She lived downstairs, then we switched and she lived upstairs. This made 11 State Street more like Three’s Company than a home. But it was perfect for us. We had good tenants, we had bad tenants. We started moving out for the summer in order to pay a couple month’s mortgage payment. We put up a fence and a swingset in the backyard. We took long stroller walks with the kids downtown. In the hustle and bustle of creating a home, a family popped up. A whole new life snuck up on us.

Now, our home is surely unconventional. It’s a two family space and Parker has slept in the upstairs one bedroom apartment since he was 2. We had a video monitor to make sure he wasn’t having midnight parties in the “Toddler Suite.” We don’t have a garage or a real driveway. We don’t have a basement or a playroom. We don’t even have a (gasp!) dishwasher downstairs. It’s hard for us to host parties or holidays. The space just fills up so quickly.

But this is home. We brought Parker home here on a cold December day and Michael made loaf after loaf of bread in his new bread maker. We hosted a very crowded but unseasonably warm Thanksgiving here for 15 people where Mike simultaneously smoked and deep fried two turkeys in the yard. This is the place where we slept on our wedding night, the place where we found out we were pregnant both times. This is the sink where two babies had many baths. This house tells a story. The story of the Gallaghers.

This makes me think of a short story that I teach called, “A Kind of Flying” by Ron Carlson. My favorite quote from that story has become a quote that I live by. “Day after day in a good life you realize your family is the journey.” And before we had a family, we had this house. Now that we have a family, this place, whether it’s old, or drafty, or beat up or sometimes a tight squeeze, this is the home that houses our journey.

But we’ve outgrown it. While we love our downtown location, our shady yard and our off street parking, we need a little more room. More room to play, to laugh, to store Transformers and My Little Ponies. More places to keep the Gallaghers.

Enter 15 Congress Avenue.

Michael assured me when I was looking for new houses that I would “pick” our second house. He knew that he drove the decision to purchase our first house (I was 25, what did I know?) and he wanted me to have more of a stake in house #2. We first looked at it on Easter Monday. While I would like to say it was love at first sight, it did take me thinking and thinking and analyzing and thinking in order to rev myself up for the endless project that is a new home. It is another old home, another laundry list of improvements to do. But the timing was right, and we were ready.

(Please excuse the overly sappy story below)

The night we found out our offer was accepted, I taught SAT class at the high school. I was so excited to celebrate our new adventure, I was giddy on the way home. I wanted to celebrate. I wanted a symbolic celebration of the beginning of this new part of our life. Having given up drinking four years ago, I was looking for a good alternative to champagne. This is not easy. Nothing screams celebration quite as loudly as champagne.

So I went into the grocery store and bought a cake. While Mike was upstairs putting Parker to bed in the Toddler Suite, I put a single candle in that small grocery store cake and lit it. When he came downstairs, I made a speech. A typical Bridgette speech which included tearful pauses and a couple hiccups. But, basically, I said this: “Thank you for letting me “pick” this new house. Thank you for being my partner on this adventure. And thank you for eating cake instead of drinking champagne.”

We have already switched to the vocabulary of “the new house” and “the old house.” The kids are ready to say goodbye. Parker thinks a bigger house and a big yard means he will get a trampoline (which might be true) and I keep looking at rescue dogs that will make a good family pet online.

Going through this whole thing has helped me learn a very grown up lesson. While you are planning, scheming, picking out your next home project and narrowing your eyes at that one part of your home that drives you nuts, a life emerges. A life that fills the rooms, fills the hearts and fills the memories of the people you have taken this journey with. A journey that I feel lucky to continue in our new home.


9 Reasons Why I Need a Summer Vacation

Shortcut Girl has been neglected, yes. It’s been a busy month of buying a new house, ending the school year, traveling to see family. Etc. Etc.

But one thing’s for sure, it’s time for me to get a nice healthy dose of summer. This list proves it. Amen.

1. Daily naps will make me much more fun to be around.

2. The shade of “vampire white” on my legs is beginning to scare the children.

3. I have stopped throwing away special drawings from day care at home in the trash can. Now I walk directly from my kid’s cubby to the trash in the classroom. Done.

4. I am running out of “work appropriate outfits for when it’s 200 degrees outside.”

5. I got so overwhelmed from looking at cute teachers gifts on Pinterest, I just decided we were doing gift cards this year.

6. I really, really need a pedicure.

7. My “bath every night” rule that I used to employ in summertime has taken a hiatus. Yesterday I put socks on my kids dirty feet so he wouldn’t get his sheets all yucky during nap.

8. When I pack a lunch it looks like this– juice box, cheese stick, raisins, gogurt. Basically nothing I actually have to “make” goes into it.

9. My kids need their summer Mommy back– the stawberry picking, beach combing, popsicle licking, rock painting Mommy. And I’m ready to be her— very soon!


14 Ways Being a Mom is Like Pledging a Sorority


The picture above is not a hazing incident at a local Toddler-Fraternity, I promise. It’s Parker after he did a double header birthday party. I hate to say it, but this picture made me think back to my college days and this post came to fruition. Enjoy it. Even if you have never had a sorority experience, you surely know what your initiation to M-O-M has entailed.

1. You get a new name or a nickname. Whether it’s Mama, or Mommy or Maaaaaaaaaaa! or some other silly name, you now have an alias.

2. You perform tasks where your sleep deprivation is a key factor. Whether it’s stealing a composite or diapering a child in the dark, there are certain things it takes a keen sense for in the middle of the night.

3. You have to carry certain things with you and have them ready for your pledgemasters at all times. Diapers, wipes, lollipops, tissues, sippy cups. You know the drill, they ask for it, you hand it over.

4. You have an understanding for your fellow Mom-sisters  and give them a wink and a smile in line at the grocery store. Or help them out by having a band aid at just the right time or a babysitter’s number last minute.

5. You learn a lot of songs. And you sing them over and over and over again.

6. You have to be the responsible one at parties. These now take the form of four year old birthday parties with clowns, face painting, a bouncy house and pony rides. But are they really all that different from a frat party?

7. You have to learn and memorize a lot of new information.  Medicine dosages, pediatrician directions, ages and weights where certain safety measures are appropriate and of course, all the channels for Nickjr, Disneyjr, Sprout and Cartoon Network.

8. You might not wear the letters MOM on a sweatshirt all around but you drive a kick ass minivan that communicates the same exact sentiment.

9. You find yourself uber-connected to other Mom-pledges. You smile sweetly at the pregnant Mom, wink affectionately at the new Mom and high five the toddler Mom  who brought the Ipad to the grocery store. You recognize each phase of Mom- pledging.

10. You celebrate everything. Last day of soccer, first day of Spring, good report cards, first bike ride, first lost tooth, a good report at day care. Ev. Ry. Thing.

11. You have a formal (or wedding, or date night) once or twice a year where you wear heels, go out and dance your ass off.

12. You attend weekly meetings. They now take the form of chorus concerts, parent conferences and soccer games. Same meetings, just different people:)

13. You are on clean up duty. Again.

14. You are always trying to figure out how to prolong the time you spend as a sister in M-O-M. Because ever since you first pledged, the years are flying by faster and faster.

Guest Post by Shea Carr: Letting It Go as a Mother


Here my great friend Shea lays out how we can all “let it go” a little when examining our lives as parents. Disney has made a new ballad full of advice for all ages: “I don’t care what they’re going to say” can apply to your own feelings of inferiority in the hustle and bustle of parenting as much as “concealing, not feeling” keeps us from true success and contentment. When we let the outward expectations and appearances cloud our judgement, we lose our way.

As Shea so articulately points out: If it’s good enough for Elsa, it’s good enough for us as Moms.

So belt it out ladies.

“The hugely popular Disney movie Frozen has captivated audiences for months and is sure to do so for years to come. There is no doubt it is excellent; illustrating themes such as unwavering familial love and devotion, the concept that true love is made rather than found, and that lighthearted optimism can be contagious. Yet I find myself haunted by the song “Let it Go.” Perhaps it is because I hear it everywhere: on the radio, from my five-year-old daughter’s CD player set on repeat, even sung a capella by my high school students. But I think the real reason I feel so troubled by this song is that I feel like it should be sung by a character representing me, a wife and working mother of two in her mid-thirties, laden with responsibility, not by young Elsa, a teenage girl.

As a history teacher, I have always been fascinated how popular culture has reflected concepts and themes from the time period, whether it be the strength and independence of Rosie the Riveter during the World War II era, or the carefree attitude of the 1990s represented by Ariel in The Little Mermaid, whose father supports her even though she decides to leave her family and live as a human on land. I have realized that the movie Frozen is no different. The overwhelming feelings of duty and responsibility that are placed on our children has been wearing at me over the past half-decade, and the song “Let it Go” does an excellent job capturing the daily struggles of American kids. Whether it is the unrealistic expectation created by the State Education Department that all students “should be” achieving an advanced level, or the reality that kids participate in a single sport year-round, sometimes playing on multiple teams during one season while also trying to attend school, complete homework, and on top of that, participating in additional activities.

The co-star of the movie Frozen is Elsa, who as a young girl isolates herself in an attempt to protect her sister from her dangerous powers. She lacks the support of her parents (after their death) or another trusted adult to help her manage her situation. In my role as a teacher, I frequently see students who lack the level of support needed to reach their true potential in school. When the State Education Department declares that all students “should be” achieving at an advanced level, I wish they would take into consideration that some of my students aren’t coming to school because they will soon be losing their home and moving to yet another school district, and that others don’t have a parent at home (perhaps because they are working extra hours to ensure that they have a home) to make sure that they eat well and get adequate rest, let alone do their homework.

Just like Elsa, these kids are isolated not by choice, but by circumstances beyond their control. Since their basic needs have not been met, the expectation that they obtain a level of achievement which has been determined by a policy-maker far removed from the realities of American children is completely absurd.

Later in her life, Elsa is expected to accept the duty and responsibility of being her country’s leader, while masking a personal struggle to manage her powers. I believe that the teenage Elsa represents the overscheduled American teenager. Expected to portray an outward facade of calm and composure, internally she is struggling to maintain her sanity due to an unrealistic expectation that she manage adult responsibilities despite the fact that she is a teen. This part of the story speaks to my role as a parent. Living in an urban area, the possibilities for kids to participate in various activities are endless. I frequently remind myself that just because you can sign your child up for any activity under the sun on a year-round schedule (heck, you can bring them almost every day if you want) that it doesn’t mean that you should have your kid participate with such frequency. Yet I think my perspective is in the minority of our society so I am constantly second-guessing these decisions; for fear that I might be denying my child some opportunity that his or her peers might be capitalizing on in order to get ahead in life. But the bottom line is that there is only so much time in the day…you simply can’t do everything.

As a working mom with young kids, I must remind myself that my children are putting in the same hours as me, first at school, then at after-care. When we finally get home, it is all we can manage to do homework, make a healthy meal, eat as a family, relax a little bit, take a bath, and get to bed at a reasonable hour. If we add in an evening activity, one of these things gets cut out. I don’t believe my family is alone in this situation. We should not depend on our kids to tell us that they are over-scheduled. As a parent, I believe it is just as important to provide them with opportunities as it is to tell our kids no in order to maintain mental a physical well-being.

So given the enormous popularity of Frozen, instead of writing it off as a kids’ movie and trying to block these catchy songs out of our minds, let’s capitalize on the opportunity to become more introspective about the isolation, duties and responsibilities that weigh on American children starting at a very young age. By providing much-needed support and taking a less-is-more attitude we can provide our kids with the tools they need to achieve true greatness.”

–Shea Carr, April 2014


Guest Post from Parker: Oops. I sold out my sister. Oh well.


Phew. It’s been a battle ground up in this place. My sister turned two and a half– aka– turned into Little Miss Frozen-song-singing-diva and started pulling the following things with me.

1. Makes fun of me and calls me a baby.
2. Sucker punches me.
3. Pulls my hair.
4. Ruins my Lego towers.
5. Drinks all my chocolate milk.

So, what to do? Well, we just happened to run into Santa at the playground the other day so I just laid it all out there. Dad was there. He heard the whole thing.

“Santa, my sister Celia has had really bad behavior lately.”

(Crickets) I mean, Santa didn’t even know what to do. He’s only heard stuff like that from elves.

Then Dad gives me the blah blah blah about being nice and taking care of your little sister and blah blah that wasn’t good behavior and blah blah what if Celia told Santa about your bad behavior.

What I wanted to say:

“Dad, she punches me on the back of the head when I am playing with my Transformers, we’re talking about a violent individual in need of SERIOUS play therapy.”

What I said:

“Let’s go on the slide!!!! Wheeeee!”

In other words, I do what needs to be done in the name of good behavior. If the Pigtail Princess wants to play dirty and make me smell her stinky feet, well then guess who will be crying Christmas morning when she doesn’t get another princess doll? Sorry there, sis. You had a good run.

Do You Want to Take a Nap Now– Another Frozen Parody


Do you wanna take a nap now?
I’ve exhausted you with play
I can’t take it anymore
Close the bedroom door
You haven’t slept all day.
Your shoes are wet and muddy
So you put them in the potty
I wish you would tell me why!
Don’t you want to take a nap now?
It doesn’t have to be a long one.

No way, Mama!

Okay, bye…

Do you wanna take a nap now?
You can lay down in the hall
I think some peace and quiet is overdue
I’ve started talking to
The superheroes and the dolls
(Hang in there, Spidey!)
It gets a little tiring
In these messy rooms,
Just watching naptime tick byyyyyyyyy-
(Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock, Tic-Tock)
Do you wanna take a nap now?


Please, I know you’re sleepy
People are asking why you cry.
They say “cry it out” and I’m trying to
I’ll lie down right here with you, just please give it a try
We only have a couple hours
It’s my only break
What are you going to doooooooooo?

Do you wanna take a nap now?

Let it Go: A Ballad of Parenthood


The TV glows white on the couch tonight,
Not a toddler to be seen,
A moment of isolation,
Makes me feel like I’m the queen.

Bedtime was howling and I think I might have cried,
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried

Don’t you give in, don’t give them treats
Be the good Mom you always have to be
Make meals, make deals
They’ll never know….
Cause once they know…….

Let it go, let it go
You don’t get pedicures anymore
Let it go, let it go
You pee with an open door

I don’t care
What my mother says
Turn the Ipad onnnnnnn!
The mess never bothered me anyway…

It’s funny how some children
Makes everything seem small
And the things that once seemed big
Don’t matter now at all

It’s time to control this zoo
To set the limits they break through
No cookies, no brownieeeeeees
We’re sugar free!

Let it go, let it go
A Lego hit me in the eye!
Let it go, let it go
You better stop your crying!

Hold my hand!
No! You walk this way!!
The TV should not be onnnnnnn!

My power flurries laundry all over and on the ground
My soul is spiraling in chicken nuggets all around
And one thought comes to me as I pick up toys so fast.
I want a hot bath!
A bath– I said a bath!!!!!

Let it go, let it go
I pack lunches at the break of dawn.
Let it go, let it go
My twenty year old body is gone!

Here I stand
It’s another day!
Let parenthood rage on…
The mess never bothered me anyway.