For some reason, my husband is in a competition with himself. He thinks he has to “one-up” himself every holiday. We’ve been together for 18 years and our first Valentines was spectacular, so you can imagine the three-ring circus he feels pressured to produce each year.  He’s really close to burning himself out. I mean, aside from buying me a seat on the space shuttle while Elton John sings “Rocket Man” from the seat beside me…how can he keep up this pace every Valentines Day?

I’ve tried to talk him down off the “Best gift ever” ledge many, many times. I think I may have gotten thru this year. And, not coincidentally, it was one of the best Valentines we’ve had in quite a long time. Imagine that!

Thank goodness he was swamped at work designing all the plant Monsters for EPCOT’s Flower & Garden show because he had ZERO time to train doves to spell out “I love you, Maryellen” in the sky.

Instead, he heard an add on the radio for a show I’ve wanted to see and secretly bought tickets. I was brought to tears when we drove up to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center and I saw the sign:



It’s one of my favorite things. Sitting in a theater, curtain opens and I get to watch something. Someone or something entertaining ME! Awesome. Kids with our babysitter, sitting next to my honey, watching Witches sing their hearts out…


I was so happy and overwhelmed, I couldn’t wait to tell Mark. We both know baby sign language from teaching it to our boys so I laid my head on his shoulder and put my hand on his leg in the “I love you” sign:



Mark looked at me and smiled. We watched the rest of the show in what I thought was the warmth of our little, unspoken “moment”.

After the show, he turned to me and asked,

“Hey, during the show, why did you give me the Spiderman hand?”



Happy Valentines Day….no pressure.


The glamorous life on tour:  Cleveland in January. 9 degrees. Ice, lots of ice. With the exception of the couple that lived in the building across from my hotel that left their blinds open 24/7 for the entire world to see “nature”…it was a really lonely weekend away from my family.

Hilarities at Pickwick and Frolic is one of my absolute favorite clubs in the country. That's the only reason I brave the horrific weather in Cleveland.

When I’m on the road, my cell phone is my life-line back to my family. I’m so thankful for its invention. When Mark and I first dated, there was no such miracle. We lived 2000 miles from each other for the first 2 years of our relationship and had to pay long-distance charges for each and every call. We would average $400. each most months.  Sure, that’s the “safest” our love-life has ever been but I think a 900 number would have been way cheaper.

Calls from my sons have changed along with their ability to talk. Teaching my boys baby sign language made for really challenging phone calls. Mark would hold the phone while Nate would sign, “want Mommy” and “I love you, Mommy” to the receiver. It would have been great if Mark had learned the signs along with the boys.

“What’s he signing, Mark?”

“Uhhh…umm…grab my chin. I think he’s saying, ‘grab my chin’ to you.”

“Really? Well, I’ve never taught him either of those words, so I’m guessing it’s something else.”

“Well, he’s pulling his two hands into himself then he touches his chin with the thumb of his open hand.”

“Yeah, he’s saying, ‘I want Mommy.’ Gee…I wonder why?”

I don’t know why sign language is so hard for Mark. He’s practically fluent in French (and English). During a beautiful symphony once, I gave Mark the short hand sign for “I love you” which is your palm facing out with the thumb, pointer and pinkie fingers up and the middle and ring finger down. He smiled at me and nodded. After the concert was over he said, “Hey, why did you give me the Spiderman hand?”  {sigh}

So now Zekey likes to hold the phone. He’s 2 so his conversations consist of him counting the numbers on the phone as he pushes them. When I hear the tone of the button being pushed, I yell, “AAAahhhh!” like he poked me. This makes him laugh uncontrollably and I get to hear his sweet little cackle.

Nate and I can actually have a conversation but it’s still hard to understand him sometimes. Thankfully, Mark is there to interpret.

“Hi, Nate! How are you?”

“I’m good, Mommy. I miss you. I got to eat sand at the park today.”

“WHAT? What did he say, Mark?”

“He said he got to meet Sam at the park today.”

“Oh! That’s nice, Nate. Did you have fun with Sam?”

“Yes, but I got sad because Daddy wouldn’t let me take the tick home with us.”

“Mark! Why are you letting him play with Ticks? Are you crazy?”

“Stick. I wouldn’t let him take the STICK  home because he threw it.”
“Oh. Sorry.”

“Mommy? We have to go now because Daddy bought a hammock for the dragon.”

{laughing hysterically} “Mark! It sounded like Nate said, you bought a hammock for the dragon!”

Mark bought a hammock for the dragon.