Category: Family

Happy Birthday Mollie!

My dearest Mols –

How on EARTH are you 3 today? It doesn’t seem possible, but then again, I feel like you should be turning 13. I don’t remember life before you and I can’t picture our life without you in it. When I think of ways to describe you, I think of just a few weeks ago on Easter. Everyone was milling around, helping get the food ready and catching up. I glanced over towards the front door and there you are – arms over your head like a ballerina just twirling. You were all alone in your own world dancing. It was in the moment I thought, ‘yep. That sums up Mollie’s world, dancing when literally no one is watching’. It was such a pure, innocent moment I will hold close.

My dear, you are a fabulous cousin to Mikey. Despite your small age range, you have taken it upon yourself to show him the ways of the world, just like we knew you would. He adores you as well! You are a happy, charming and polite kid, which comes as no surprise. You have an opinion on everything and a smile that will convince anyone to hand you the moon. Keep that going kid, it will take you places in life, just use that power for good – I know you will.

I was thinking this morning about where I was when you were born, a story I will probably tell every April 4th. I was on a cramped bus to New York City with my big belly full of Mikey. I had lots to time to pray for your Mom and Dad and think about the person you would become. You have not disappointed me kid.

Have an amazing birthday, thank you for making me an Aunt (and Uncle S. an Uncle!).

We love you,

Aunt Jay Jay xoxo

PicMonkey Collage

Merry Merry Everything!

A few weeks ago I realized we hadn’t done a family photo shoot and we managed to miss all the mini-sessions. I think it’s so important to have a pro do pictures at least once a year, so I reached out to my Facebook friends and found Dana Lorentz Photography.

She got the best photo with Charlie EVER. And despite it being SO windy (we were basically in a wind tunnel) and Mike NOT being happy, we got a few good shots. I mean, let’s not sugar coat it – this is our life with a toddler.

Here’s our 2015 family pictures and our card.

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And finally ….card

Mollie Claire Turns 2!

Mols –

I can’t even believe you are turning 2. I remember writing you your 1st birthday letter and here I am reflecting on yet another year with you my sweet niece. Honestly, not much has changed. You are still just as beautiful, sweet and mischievous as you were LAST year. Perhaps this year you just have more hair.

I have so many favorite memories of you from this year I can’t pick just one. Most of them involve your milestones and how you interact with Mike. You are so kind with him and we can tell he is watching you to see how things are done.

One time you had me giggling was at your Daddy’s birthday you took your plate into the kitchen in hopes of a piece of cake only to come back into the room VERY upset your request was denied. A kid after my own heart!

I love you Mols, have a happy happy second birthday.


Mike: December 2014

To my little monster Mike,

I can’t believe last year we were waiting not so patiently for you to crawl. We would put you in front of the tree and you could balance on your belly while fussing. You were frustrated. We were frustrated. But not long after the holidays you figured it out. Flash forward to THIS year and we couldn’t get you to sit still! It’s funny what changes in a year.

{Holidays} Oh what fun it was during the holidays! You are a lucky kid who gets to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. You got some awesome gifts and though you were still confused on what was going on, you figured out that you got to keep what you opened. Honestly, if we got you one thing you would have been thrilled.

We also went to the Bull Run Festival of Lights, a tradition for Daddy and I, and the whole time you ate Goldfish and said ‘ohhhhh’.

You were fascinated with the tree, and even said ‘Tee’. We decorated with the nonbreakable ornaments on the bottom, so you loved taking them off and trying to put them back on (which was really stuffing them in the tree).

You were not too keen on Santa Claus. We went to see him at our community center and you were okay running up to give him a high five, but that was about it. Maybe next year. Or maybe not.


{Operation Relocation} You probably don’t realize it yet, but we signed a new lease in December! So mid-January we are moving from our apartment in Fairfax County Virginia to a townhouse in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. We are very very excited and very nervous for this transition. The good news is we will be so much closer to our family! I hope you see this as a new adventure. It’s the cutest little townhouse at the end of a street near parks and a school. I could immediately see you riding your trike down the street.

{Daycare} You also met your new daycare provider, Miss Rachel. You took to her and her daughter’s really quickly and even played with some of their toys. We are nervous about this transition as well, but know you are in good hands. Plus, you will be learning French! Wee-wee!

{TV} Your favorite shows right now include Doc McStuffins (you say Doc when you see her on books or toys), Curious George (or Jew as you call him), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and lately your REAL favorite has been Chuggington. When it comes up on Netflix, you point and say ‘choo-choo’ and even dance to the theme song. It’s not a bad cartoon, and significantly less creepy than Thomas the Tank Engine.

{Words} Your vocabulary is growing so quickly! Sometimes you say something clear as day and Dad and I just look at each other in surprise and pride. You’ve been saying:

  • Ba-bub (Bubbles for a bath)
  • Ah-poo (apple, which is usually any fruit)
  • Buh-bye (this is the funniest. You say it so clearly as you are walking away waving. Sometimes sarcastically).
  • Up (both for up and down)

{Snuggles} You are still such a sweet snuggler. You love pulling the blankets over us on the couch, or walking up to Daddy who sits on the floor and plant yourself in his lap. You are giving hugs and kisses on your terms and that makes them 10 times as sweet. I know the time will come when you won’t want to snuggle as much, but I hope we have awhile longer.

{Food} Your love of food comes and goes. Right now you will eat anything smothered in tomato sauce. Also french fries, sliced apples or pickles.

{Helping} You are becoming quite the helper! You are great with directions, like when we ask you to put your shoes in the basket, and cleaning up. The other day you knocked over Charlie’s water dish and then we handed you a towel and you ‘wiped’ the floor. Granted it was the kitchen floor and not the dining room, but once we redirected you, you figured it out. You also love opening the microwave. The minute it beeps you run over the open it. I hope asking for help keeping the house in order is always this easy!


January is going to be a big adventure for you sweet boy. One of many many exciting adventures you will have in your lifetime.

I’ll eat you up I love you so,

Momma, xoxo


Good Golly Miss Mollie

Well hello there Miss Mollie –

I haven’t written you a letter since your first birthday and now you are a big 20 month old!  You’ve been rattling in my head a lot more lately and I wanted to give you a snapshot of your life right now, as viewed by your Aunt.


A buzzword right now is ‘spirited’ when it comes to describing kids, but I think it is a nice way to say ‘hard headed’. You are a bit of both – but that is a good thing, I promise. You know what you want and you are determined to figure out how to get it. Even it requires you to turn on your Barry Charm. Keep that up kid – it will come in handy when you are in the corner office.

You are so, so kind.  I love when your mommy posts pictures of you holding your doll or when you pat Mike on the head.  You are already such a good friend to him and I know in the future you will continue to be friends and eventually partners in crime.  And ugh, the hugs! I love that you are full on wrapping arms around and meaning it.

You have the fashion sense of a socialite. Girl, you got it going on and you know it. Boots with leggings, skirts with understated frills and hair bows out the wazoo. When I am old and grey, will you visit me in the nursing home and make sure I am dressed nicely?

My little chow hound you make me belly laugh any time food is involved. You could be playing quietly and notice I have a piece of food and you start circling like a shark. Then you flash that smile and ‘wander’ over as if you just happened to be in the area and curious. Once I share a few bites I can kiss the rest of my meal goodbye into your open hand. Never, ever be afraid to eat sweet girl.

Another thing I love about you is your walk. It says, ‘I am going somewhere and you can either hang out until I get back, or follow me and try to keep up’.  I have no doubt you will be leading the pack and with your personality – they will want to follow.

I love you Mols! xo

Aunt Jay Jay

The Soundtrack to My Life

While driving into work today I was listening to my iPod and heard ‘Sincerely Me’ by New Found Glory. I was instantly transported back to the 9:30 Club in (probably) 2004. Something Corporate opened for NFG and they pushed an upright piano on the teeny tiny stage to play I Woke Up in a Car. I was instantly enamored. I can still see the stage from my spot on the balcony.


Some people have scents that take them back to a moment in time, but for me it’s always been music. If I had a set list for my life so far it, it would be these songs:


Walk Like an Egyptian (The Bangles): One of my earliest memories is doing the Egyptian walk around the couch with my Momma when she put the record on.


Papa Don’t Preach (Madonna): I LOVED this song in elementary school and knew all the words. I used to listen to it on the boombox in the garage and sing along. It was about 8 years ago when I figured out what it was about.


Let That Pony Run (Pam Tillis): Mike, if you are reading this, CDs are the mirrored things that you can find in antique stores. They play music! My first CD player was a Christmas gift in 1992 and the first CD I played was Homeward Looking Angel by Pam Tillis. Let That Pony Run was soulful, sad and spoke to life as an adult. Everything a 9 year old country music fan wanted.


Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks): I was 13 at my first concert was Garth Brook’s Red Strokes Tour at the US Air Arena. My Mom and I had the best time ever.


All I Ask of You (Phantom of the Opera): My grandma was a big fan of opera music and usually had the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack playing in the kitchen. Since then I’ve seen it on stage 3 times and it always makes me smile.


Peace Be Still: Many of my summers were spent at Camp Mardela in Denton, Maryland. Sometimes as a camper, mostly as a camp counselor, a few times as kitchen help. One song I still love and still repeat to myself in moments of high stress is Peace Be Still. Short, calming and meaningful.


Shit Town (Live): Really any song by Live will do. I was trying to be an ‘affected’ teenager which I probably succeed to some extent. But I used to put my Live CD in and crank it up. I am sure I drove my parents insane, but I don’t remember them saying anything. Shit Town was a favorite of mine because, well, it had a cuss word. I was such a bad ass.


No Scrubs (TLC): I enjoyed my last two years of high school, but the first two will remain unmentioned. So many good songs and artists in the late 90s! I remember warm days driving around with friends singing along to girl group TLC proclaiming our desire for No Scrubs. This song would have more useful in college.


I Hope You Dance (Leanne Womack): As Senior Class President in high school I had to ‘steer’ my classmates towards the perfect graduation song. Thankfully I Hope You Dance beat out Free Bird by just a few votes.


Sincerely Me (New Found Glory): As mentioned earlier, college brought a lot of mall punk with New Found Glory being a favorite. I have seen them live about a dozen times. I even have one of their releases on vinyl (still sealed!) and a signed CD when I met them at Tower Records.


East Coast Anthem (Good Charlotte): If you grew up in Maryland in the late 90s and went to the WHFStival (which is very likely), you had to love Good Charlotte – the local ‘punk band’ who went mainstream. We all knew East Coast Anthem because, well, on the east coast we ride until the day we die.


Damn Right, Rebel Proud (Hank III): I was trying to be a cool sister and decided to take my then sixteen year old brother and his best friend to Rams Head in Baltimore to see Hank William’s Great Grandson. That sentence alone should say a lot. I mean, we like Hank, so why wouldn’t we enjoy his legacy? Well. I should have listen to his music first. I wouldn’t let those two out of my sight and I might have told them not to mention the details to parental units.


Try (Nelly Furtado): In 2004 I was ending a long relationship and even though it was my decision, it wasn’t easy after three years. It is definitely a great breakup, pick yourself back up song.


Drops of Jupiter (Train): S. was a big Train fan before I met him and even though I knew their hits, I grew to really love their b-sides. We even saw them in concert a few times.


Better Together (Jack Johnson): S. and I took finding our first dance song VERY seriously and tried out a few before settling on Better Together. The lyrics were perfect and didn’t require dance lessons.


Shake it Out (Florence and the Machine): I’ve mentioned this song on the blog before, but it became popular as we were going through fertility treatments. I used to listen to it on the way to Shady Grove to have my follicles counted and cry.


50 Ways to Say Goodbye (Train): When I was having my C-Section, S. and I had to laugh because the radio in the operation room was playing one of Train’s current hits. Perhaps not the ideal song for a baby to hear as they enter the world, but it was perfect for us.


Three Little Birds (Bob Marley): I lamented about how I didn’t know many lullaby, but when Three Little Birds came on Pandora one night, Mike really responded. Now it’s ‘our’ song and he still loves it.


Don’t Worry Child (Swedish House Mafia): Being laid off was really tough emotionally and financially. There were a lot of unknowns, but I the Swedish House Mafia reminded me that heaven has a plan and I shouldn’t worry. A quick aside – I always pictured this band playing in an Ikea.


What would be on your life playlist so far?


The Magic of Home Movies

For years I’ve been trying to get my Momma to hand over our VHS home videos so we could put them on DVD. We long ago got rid of our HUGE video camera, and shortly after that, VHS became obsolete. I pictured our 10 years of memories – first days of school, ballet recitals, our day to day minutia – literally deteriorating. 

Come to find out, my mother-in-law’s ex-neighbor’s husband (got that?) had the ability to put those worn VHS tapes on DVDs for super cheap. But then we had to FIND them. See, when my brother was younger, he loved watching them. So much so, a rule was started that they were only available to watch during the Christmas season. Of course, the VHS player was kaput, so there was no reason to pull them out for the last 10 years. After we all refused to believe they were missing for good,  we finally found them in the coat closet. Fast forward to this weekend when I got the DVDs.

Wow. As S. said, “This is telling.” From the 7 hours of Barry Family Home Movies (which were about 10 tapes, none labelled so each one was a mystery), I learned a lot. Not just about my family, but the value of video in general. Here’s my take away:

1. Home movies – in any form – are so, SO, important. My grandmother died in 2007.When she appeared on screen playing with my brother, a lot of memories came flooding back with her voice. I could feel her silky polyester old lady shirt and smell her Windsong perfume.

2. When my brother was a toddler, he thought I was hilarious.

3. Our house was filled with music. Loud music. And we danced a lot. I had a vague memory of this, but the videos really enforced it. It’s funny because in our house now, there is a lot of music and yes, even some dancing. I want Mike to have those same memories.

4. Parents who sit through dance recitals deserve instant tickets to heaven. Sure, there is about 15 total minutes of enjoyment when it is your kid dancing, but otherwise there is about 3 hours of, “Oh my god, is it over yet?” when other kids are dancing. Mom, Dad? You are my heroes.


5. My parents are how I remember them. My Dad is the funny guy who took a 20 minute video of trains – just trains – during our 1989 vacation to Gettysburg. My Mom is so patient. I was pretty chatty and she listened to everything and engaged in conversation even when other stuff was going on – like Christmas morning. Not to say they weren’t BOTH funny and patient, but it stands out on camera the most.

6. I loved the spotlight. And I was bossy. I am sorry, David, for forcing you to dance and play Ring Around the Rosey. You were a good sport.

7. It’s amazing what traits our kids have from us that we didn’t realize. Mollie, David’s daughter, fusses the same as David did. And eats the same. It’s really funny. Since there aren’t any videos of me when I was a baby, I will have to revisit these (since we can) when Mike is 6 or 7 to make some comparisons.

Now that I’ve seen how important video memories are, I am making more of a point to capture day to day life for Mikey. Our YouTube page is full of 1 – 3 minute videos right now, and I can’t wait for him to become a talker so we can capture more funny moments and conversations. And not just videos of Mike – our family and friends need some time in the spotlight as well!


It also helps that we don’t have 20lb cameras anymore. We use a General Electric HD Camera and I love it.

How often do you take videos of the world around you?

Happy 1st Birthday Mollie Claire!

Dearest Mols,

It’s 2 days before your first birthday and you have been on my mind more than usual my sweet girl. I am sure as you get older you are going to ask your Momma and Daddy about the day of your birth. Especially where they were in the hours leading up to your entrance into the world. I am in my thirties and still like to ask my Momma and Daddy (YOUR Grandma and Grandpa!) what they were doing when as my birthday approaches.

Where was I when I found out I was an Aunt for the first time? I was 7 months pregnant with your cousin Mike sitting on a hot bus on my way to New York City. I don’t remember too many of the details, but I DO remember getting texts from Grandma with a play by play (she was eagerly awaiting Momma’s okay to come meet you) and how badly I prayed for your Daddy to make it in time. You know how that turned out and depending on how old you are when you read this, use this to your advantage at every opportunity.  Another clear memory was getting a text with a picture of the prettiest baby girl I had ever seen. It took everything I had not to jump up and show every single bus rider your picture. Something changed in me … it was you!

It’s been quite a first year Miss Mollie. You are a ball of personality and have kept ALL of us on our toes. It’s been so much fun watching you hit your milestones and you give me a glimpse into what is in store for Mike. You are constantly going, going, going, doing, doing, doing, exploring, exploring, exploring. I keep thinking of that quote, ‘let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move mountains.’

I wrote you a letter in January of 2013 before you were born and I happily reread it tonight. I was pretty spot on with you having your Momma’s stubborn streak and your Daddy’s spider legs. But you have your own special, unique personality. You are so excited about EVERYTHING and I already love that about you.

It’s given me such a full heart to see you with Mike. He looks at you with a curiosity and you look at him like you are ready to teach him the ways of the world because you are so much older and wiser. Of course.  He does have a few pounds on you already though, so I will give you an early warning.

Mollie Claire – I love you in a way only an Aunt could love a niece. It is too soon for me to take you the the American Girl store, but I promise I will. You made me an Aunt and I will always have your back, encourage you to take on new challenges and give you advice when you need it. But perhaps for now I will just blabber with you, change your diaper and make sure you are fed.


With a heart full of love on your birthday,

Aunt Jackie

Welcome Mollie Claire!

561767_672466315221_1442388610_nRemember my Sister in Law and Brother were 10 weeks pregnanter than me? Well my beautiful niece made her appearance on 4/4/2013 happy and healthy.  I can’t wait for Mikey to meet her so she can teach him the ways of the world. You know. Because she’s older.

A Letter to My Niece

Dearest Mollie Claire –

I couldn’t help but want to write how I am excited that you will be making your big debut in a few months. You are already a kicker, so I am led to believe you have your mama’s stubborn streak, and perhaps your daddy’s spider legs.

I am so thrilled you will be able to grow up around your cousin. I have big hopes that you teach him all the important things in life like sharing, fishing, running through irrigation systems at night and barn parties. All things your Dad and I got  to experience living in Caroline County. And when you come to visit us, which I hope will be often, Mikie can teach you about sharing (oh, so important), DC history and you can bet, when you are old enough, you and I will be spending a day at the American Girl store. I will be thrilled with ANY American Girl you pick, but I secretly hope you chose Molly, who not only has your name, but was the one I coveted as a kid.

I can’t wait to tell you all the stories about when your mama and daddy were younger. Like how your dad had an obsessive streak when it came to things he was interested in – things like dinosaurs, the Titanic and trucking. He always knew he would he would be a truck driver for as long as I can remember, perhaps he is just as stubborn as your mama! One time, when he was maybe 4 or 5, he dug a HUGE hole in the backyard looking for fossils. Literally all you could see were his eyeballs over the edge. I don’t recommend you do this at home – but if you do, remind him he did it once too.

Your mama knows how to have fun too. I didn’t meet her until she was maybe 16, but I can always count on her to go shopping or watch movies. She is very set in her ways, but lucky for you, she also knows how to listen and consider other opinions. You are lucky to have a mama like that.

There are many more stories about both of them together, but I will save those for when you are older. Much older. Just know, you are being born into a loving, faithful home and you will need for nothing. Plus you have the coolest Aunt ever, so how can life be difficult for you?

Hugs and Snuggles,

Aunt Jackie