Just Another Manic Monday

The Force is strong with this one.

Tess is our wild child dog. At 16 months and about 130lbs, she is big, beautiful, and very agile. She leaps up onto our trampoline, zooms across and soars off it like a canine superhero. In the instances she has gotten out of a door/gate left open by one of the kids, she shows off her incredible speed and grace. She is a gazelle. A sometimes goofy gazelle, but a gazelle none-the-less.

Goofy Gazelle

We go to great lengths to contain her because of this. 6ft fence all the way around, except one small space that is about four and a half feet tall. She has never attempted to jump it, because of it’s chain link pokiness at the top, but that all changed on Monday. I can only imagine she’d had enough of the squirrel taunting her high atop the sound wall. She pushed through the fencing, beagle Arlo followed suit and they were off.

We got a call from a neighbor who said the dogs were out. I went out to find them, and ran towards the main road. My neighbor called out, “They went the other way!” This is not normally their M.O., so I turned course and headed up the hill. It’s pretty much a dead end, but I was still rushing to get up there. The neighborhood has gone through many changes in the 5 years we have been here. A new gated community at the end of our once dead end street, and a new state fence and sound barrier wall directly behind our house. There was a way through the fence at the top of the hill at one point, which opens up to a ravine that leads to a 4 lane major highway. I raced up the hill, and spotted Tess. SHE WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE- in between the fence and the sound wall (which eventually ends and leads to the highway!). She headed in exactly the wrong direction. I started shouting her name and running after her. She was having a great time. Me, not so much.

I have to admit this meme hit a nerve. Even looks like Tess!

I start following the fence line, through tall grass and stickery weeds. I was hoping it opened up at the end, but it dead-ended. I guess the state had finally fixed it. So now I had to go ALL the way back out to the main road, to get in between the chain link fence and the sound wall, and walk ALL the way back up.

This little untraveled trail is for expert hikers only. It starts off with a patch of high grass and weeds that looks like a place snakes would love to call home. I powered through it. It flattens out for a bit, but then starts the incline, and then start drainage rocks. So I’m tiptoeing up these shaky rocks, which span the back of two properties, and now VERY uphill. I made it through and powered to the top through more horrible weeds. Huffing and puffing and worried sick, I made it to the end of the sound wall. (Click pics for larger image.)

The view was pretty incredible. I scanned the area for a the yellow streak of blur that is Tess running. The ravine was dicey. I started cliff surfing downward when I spotted Arlo, our beagle. He ran to me. He was whimpering and crying. He wasn’t hurt, but he sure seemed like he was trying to tell me something that was NOT GOOD. I made it down to the retaining wall which had a 4ft chain link fence on top. (You can see this if you click one of the pictures below.) It’s about 26ft up, overlooking the highway. So I’m walking along that, because the ground was so unstable with rocks and whatnot. Of course, the fence is not exactly finished, as people aren’t supposed to be near it. It caught my pants and shirt several times, leaving a gaping hole on the side of my sweat pants.

At this point I’m on pure adrenaline. I’m calling for Tess, but no one, can hear my screams, including myself, with the traffic whizzing by. It was LOUD. I couldn’t bring myself to go all the way over to the highway opening. Based on Arlo’s initial greeting, I knew she had jumped onto the road. 1) I was afraid of what I might find, and 2) I still had Arlo with me, and it looked dicey at best. It was very overgrown and you couldn’t see the ground. Plus I just wanted to just get Arlo (and me!) home safe at the very least. I already half expected the police to stop to see what this crazy woman was doing on the side of the highway! I held Tess’ leash in the air to indicate I was on a dog mission.

I turned around to see what I had to climb to get back out of there with Arlo. Basically a 110 degree angle of pretty rough terrain. Luckily I grew up scaling such a hill in my back yard, so I took a deep breath and got going. Arlo followed closely. I was praying like crazy. For Tess, and for Arlo and me!

We reached the top and started the downward trek towards the rocks. It reminded me of “Going on a Bear Hunt” on the way back. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, gotta go through it…” back up the ravine, back down the hill, back through the weeds, back through the rocks and finally the tall snake grass. We backtracked on the road toward the house. The kids were all crying and hugging Arlo, “but where is Tess??” My neighbor had been sitting with them all this time and said, “You want to go look for her in your car?” I did.

So I got in the truck and started off through the neighborhood. I stopped where some roofers where working to see if they spotted her from their vantage point. In the process, I BACKED INTO ONE OF THEIR CARS. Well I lost it. Crying and apologizing, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I’m looking for my dog. I think she might have made it to the highway, I’m freaking out.” The man was SO NICE. We looked at the car, he said, “It’s just a tail light.” I gave him my information and he wished me luck.

Not my image, but basically the gist of it.
  • I met a sweet couple on the street who hadn’t seen her (but she actual called me days later to see if a dog she saw online was mine! So nice! Thanks, Tina!).
  • I stopped a police officer who took down my info. Another police officer came by our house to see if we found her.

It was all hands on deck!

I finally got on the highway and went up a couple of exits to come down to see if what I feared happened was true. I mentally prepared for the worst. I saw the area she could have jumped down from, but there was nothing there, no sign of her. Thank goodness! I was so relieved, but still scared because she was still out there. What if she just kept running down the highway? I decided to go home. There was nothing more I could do. She could be anywhere by now.

I got home, sat down on the front stoop and pulled out my phone. I meant to post something quickly on our local lost and found pets Facebook page, but since I had already been in an accident, I just waited until I got home.

I went to the page, and low and behold… THERE SHE WAS. Posted just 4 minutes before. But here’s where it takes the official WEIRDO turn of events that many of the happenings in my life take. I looked at the name of the original poster. I looked again. And again. It was Nicole, who my husband has worked with in some capacity for the last 8 years or so. Nicole, out of all the people in the world just driving past our exit to get home is the person who spotted and rescued our dog off a major highway and took her to Dunkin Donuts down the street from us. She had no idea she was ours, just helped a pup in need. AMAZING. My mind is still spinning from the entire event.

Since she and Arlo tussle so much, she has lost 2 tags in the last year. We had written her name and number on her collar in black sharpie, but they didn’t see it. It was dusk and getting dark, and they didn’t see it. She is also chipped, so would have found us eventually.

I called my husband who was on the way home. “Call Nicole. You aren’t going to believe this, but she found Tess on 695.” Nicole sent us this picture after the rescue. I laughed and cried all at once.

Nicole is our hero!!

I messaged her immediately. She met a kind woman at Dunkin Donuts who offered to let Tess stay in her nearby yard. My husband picked her up and Tess is home, safe and sound.

I went upstairs, took a long, hot shower, and finished off the night with a strong Moscow Mule.

Just another manic Monday.

Obituary for Dianne Elizabeth Schurman

Dianne Elizabeth Schurman
December 11, 1943 – February 17, 2022

On February 17, 2022 Dianne Elizabeth (Auldridge) Schurman passed away due to complications arising from her bout with Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma. Affectionately known as Dee, she leaves behind her daughter Sheryl Schurman, her son Brian Schurman, his wife Megan, and her grandchildren, Patrick, M.E., and William.

She was born to Woodford “Pete” and Elizabeth “Libby” Auldridge of Clarksville, MD on December 11, 1943. She attended Glenelg High School for her freshman and sophomore years, and went on to graduate from Howard High in the class of 1961. After high school she went to beauty school and became a hair stylist, a career she held for over 30 years full time. Always creative, she began working at Safeway in the floral department for almost 20 years, and continued cutting hair for a few select friends until 2020.

She married and moved to Laurel, MD in the early 1960’s and had 4 children in 7 years, Keith, Kevin, Brian, and Sheryl. Keith and Kevin preceded her in death.

She loved to garden! She would spend countless hours tending to her beautiful flora. She loved country music… forcing her children, or anyone driving with her for that matter, to listen on long drives. She enjoyed taking the long road much of the time. She also loved to spend time with her aunts and cousins canning food or making Christmas candy.

She loved her family very much, both close and extended. Her house was always a welcome landing spot for many wayward souls. But the absolute loves of her life were her grandchildren. Time spent with them was the joy of her life!

After a lifetime of gracious giving, one of her final acts on this earth was the selfless decision to donate her body to science, a final gesture to help mankind in any way she could.

God rest her soul!

Funeral Arrangements for Dee Schurman
Saturday, February 26, 2022

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
11795 Scaggville Rd
Fulton, MD 20759

At Least We Have Each Other… and Cake.

One Whole Year

It is hard to believe it has been a full year since our 2 week quarantine to flatten the curve started. We count that day as March 14, 2020, the day after the last day of school. They sent home some packets for the kids and we made the best of it. We tried to enjoy our early and extended spring break, but not being able to go anywhere, and the Contagion-like movie scenarios running through our heads as we navigated the aisles of the grocery store started to wear on us. The streets of our town were ghostly. No one in sight, no cars traveling on the busy highway behind us. It was a very quiet and eerie couple of weeks.

Ghost Town

Of course we all know what happened. We didn’t go back to school. Many didn’t go back to work. By mid April everyone was navigating the world of online learning and newly imagined job scenarios, and the quiet magic of the 2 week quarantine evaporated into the morning dew of a very long and unfortunately cold spring. We watched lots of Netflix and shared many memes about the great toilet paper hoarding/shortage of 2020.

At least we had cake.

Two Weeks was up. Let’s have cake.

When we realized we weren’t going back to school or work, or ANYWHERE anytime soon. We have 3 kids, who were 7, 5, and 3 when this whole thing started. With even the playgrounds roped off, it was time to get creative. Luckily I had purchased a state park pass in February, something I’d never done before. Turned out that was a very good thing for us. At least we had somewhere to go, once it finally did warm up.

One of our many hikes
Happy Hiking!

Life as we know it was a very hard thing to explain to them. Why they couldn’t go to school, see friends or go anywhere indoors without scaring them to death took some doing. I’d often just gloss over it, to save their poor little psyches from being scarred. “It’s not forever. It’s an illness they are trying to get a hold of so it’s safe for everyone to see everyone again. Let’s go for a walk!” This was met with heavy sighs. “Because Coronavirus.” became an answer to why they can’t do anything. “We hate Coronavirus.” “Me too… me too.” We tried to keep it as “normal” as possible.

Things were far from “normal” however. The numbers still rising, panic in the toilet paper aisle, fears of where the next paycheck was coming from, and finding out people we actually knew were getting sick. Having friends or family pass away (whether Covid related or not) with no way to say goodbye, and no way to send them off with a proper funeral- this was weighing heavy on the adults.

But for the kids, at least we had cake. And toys to pose with it.

57 Daze

By now were well into the world of masks. It took some getting used to for everyone. We all practiced making homemade masks. There were many social media tutorials to follow, both helpful and some more, uh, “creative”. Our craftier friends opened their own online businesses and the mask boom was upon us.

As seen on one of our many walks

We all felt so bad for all our 12th graders, 8th graders, 5th graders, and yes, even preschoolers, who went without ceremonies or traditional celebrations for their accomplishments. Some people got creative- yard signs, car parades, and the like, but nothing was normal about 2020. In our town, a great real estate/community outreach outfit put together a balloon backdrop and provided graduation caps for graduates of all ages, and free pictures. Very sweet. It was something!!

Pre-K Grad!

We had a military flyover, and drove into Baltimore City to watch, masked, and socially distanced. We got there just in time to see the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds boom over us. But as soon as it started, it was over. Those jets really, well, JET. We got in the car and went home. We were surprised to see so many people out in the street. It was like a block party that lasted a mile. It became very clear that nobody was taking this thing very seriously, and we no longer wondered how numbers were still going up. Everyone was really locked down in the suburbs, but the city was like a party!

The summer seemed to bring a little bit of normalcy, as far as the pool was concerned. The kids were so happy to be able to swim and play with some of their cousins. There were no incidents of Covid at or stemming from our time at the pool (though one lifeguard got it toward the end of the summer). We went to DC for the 4th of July, and parked along the highway to watch. We were able to go to the beach for a week- it too, was pretty empty. We played outside all we wanted. Went on day trips to state parks. Things we would normally do. We even upgraded the couch. If we were going to be stuck at home all the time, we may as well do so comfortably!

The summer was kind of fun. And yes, there was cake.

Fall brought Homeschooling, a new endeavor for our family. I talk all about the decision to do this here. It has been a rewarding experience for all, so far. It was definitely took a leap of faith, but everyone is thriving and happy. Our 3rd grade son just finished Treasure Island and wrote his first book report. Our 6 year old daughter just ran through some addition flashcards with me. “I’m learning so fast!” she said proudly. Our littlest is still enrolled in a public school Pre-K threes class and has just started hybrid. He’s doing great too. Leaps and bounds from where he was a year ago.

We had our big birthday month, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

The seasons changed, but it really has been a long, dark winter. Still and all, we had cake.

More snow!

All and all, I try to think of the positive things that happened this year. I’m so happy that we were able to spend so much time together, because life is short. We shared many more moments together than we would have on any other normal year. For that, I am grateful. May these kids remember the time when all they had was each other. And cake.

I Do Not Have Octopus Arms- the Decision to Homeschool

I am already a very busy person. Between working as an independent contractor in music, owning my own photography business, and caring for 3 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 cats, it is a struggle every month for us to make sure ALL THE THINGS ARE DONE. Add in the need for incessant creative music and art projects, the torture never stops.

Painting with the kids

March 13, 2020 was a very important day. It was to be the night of a concert at church, that had well over a thousand tickets reserved. We prepared and prepared and prepared, only to have Covid-19 hit. Things were getting shut down left and right that week, and we were no exception. On the day of the concert, much to our dismay, we limited it to staff only and it turned into an online event.

There are 2 friends down in the front there… ūüėÄ

This was also the “last day of school” as it turned out. A day that started off the “Spring of Horrors” that was distance learning. I’m not kidding when I say that there were tears every day. Sometimes my own.

This is an 18 x 24 detailed hand drawn calendar of the three kids’ virtual learning times.

I am not disparaging any teacher or school system. Unprecedented times. They did the best they could! My kids’ teachers were faced with learning a whole new system and way of teaching, and did such with grace, candor and kindness. The kids, while they thought it was cool at first, began to view it as a chore, and I was met with more and more defiance and anxiety as the days went on. Of course mixed with “Why can’t we go anywhere?” and “When can we see our friends?” and “When is the coronavirus goin’ away?” It was not a fun time at all. Among other at-home projects, we made lots of milestone treats.

Meantime, two working parents here- trying to keep it together. Church continued online only, but for months was pre-recorded. So while I was still leading worship, it was very much like the teachers- having to lead with no one physically with you is interesting to say the least. I found, and I bet they’d say the same- two hours in front of a camera felt like a full day of work in person. A strange and exhausting way of life for sure.


Through the summer, we’d been awaiting the news of what school had in store for us. All the while, we considered our options. We already knew distance learning wasn’t for us. Let’s revisit the calendar and times for 3 kids at 3 different times (sometimes overlapping) and 3 different devices. This was when my oldest at 7 yrs old, only had 1 hour, my middle at 5 yrs had a half and hour, and the littlest 3 year old, a half an hour.

Wipe the smiles away for accuracy. And maybe some laying on the floor.

Let’s add in the fact that while my older two loved their teachers more than words can say, they began to fight me every day. My little one didn’t really get it- we just had a big snack time with a “special guest”- his teacher on the computer. He did laugh and wave to them, and try to share his snack with them on the screen sometimes. Lessons were really mostly for me.

The storm-cloud that is fall was looming. We took online surveys. The options were basically 100% distance learning or a hybrid situation. They threw in 100% in person option as a courtesy only, I think. Everyone knew that wasn’t going to happen. The only thing worse, schedule-wise, was envisioning a hybrid situation with 3 kids at 2 different schools. We waited.

The results were finally in, it was going to be distance learning until January 29, 2020.

I had already checked in with current homeschoolers friends, and I checked in with a few more for good measure to weigh all of my options. How was I going to oversee 3 kids being on devices all day long AND schedule, make invoices, learn songs, get to my rehearsals, make virtual tours, floor plans, and home stagings, answer calls, create and send invoices- not to mention the daily house things like, ya know, making meals, laundry, and vacuuming (oh, the life of a shedding dog!)?

I’ll give you one guess who the shedder is.

Everything was pulling me in the direction of homeschooling, so we went ahead and sent our letters of intent for our older two kids. We decided to leave our youngest in, at least for now, because he receives special support for speech and development. And I figured, “how bad could keeping up with one preschool session be?” As it turns out, it doesn’t look too terrible. He will start at 1pm, and basically be 15 minutes on, 1/2 hour off, 15 on, 1/2 hour off, and 15 on. I think the other kids will be able to get a lot of their work during that time, while the little one is busy.

We were still officially enrolled when the schedules came out, so I was able to see what exactly the kids and our family would have been in for. I had anxiety just looking at it! All the overlapping times, the arduousness of it all. I think we made the right decision for us. Now if the kids ever give me the business about doing their work, I’ll just show them this schedule and see which they would rather do. It would have been a full time job just staying on top of this.

“There’s a saying in Missouri, if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes. In Blaine, with hard work, I think we can get that down to three or four minutes.” ~Glenn Welsch, Mayor (from the movie Waiting for Guffman)

So between the time I wrote this and proofread this blog entry, a big announcement has come from our Governor this past Thursday.

“Citing improved coronavirus metrics, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that all schools can begin to safely reopen.

‘I am announcing that as a result of our improved health metrics, every single county school system in the state of Maryland is now fully authorized to begin safely reopening,’ Hogan said. ‘There is broad and overwhelming agreement … that finding a way to begin safely returning children to classrooms must be a priority … There is no substitute for in-person instruction.’ “

While there are many views on this announcement (anywhere from outrage to praise), I am grateful we made the decision to weather this storm on our own terms. With the older two on their own homeschool learning path, we will navigate our littlest one’s possible hybrid situation as it comes, though I feel like it’s still a long way off. I’d rather have the other two learning at their own pace in a safe and steady environment until ‘this too shall pass’. And really, I’m excited for the school year to come now. Where there once was dread, now there is a feeling of freedom and fun in our future. I truly feel for all of our fellow parents, students, and teachers for the coming year. I know this is an impossible situation for many, and we will all do the best we can. May the force be with us all.

My husband took this when we weren’t looking. Bay Bridge at sunset.

Hurricane Florence

Well, I couldn’t decide whether to use Flo from tv’s Alice- “Kiss my grits!” or Florence Henderson (because hello, Mrs. Brady!), so I did both. We’ll see if I have the time, energy, and/or inclination to do one with the Progressive Auto Insurance lady, also Flo.



Stay safe, everyone! Hopefully she’s kinder and gentler Florence, like Mrs. Brady.

Change of Season Update…

The summer is quickly behind us, and now we begin the next season with another enormous whoosh!


On top of the milestone that is “My First Child Starts Kindergarten”, I have been as busy as ever preparing to help open a beautiful new church in Timonium, MD… Church of Nativity’s new sanctuary. So, on top of mini vacations/summer activities, school supply shopping, kid rearing/regular house stuff, and virtual tour making (my work-at-home job)- ¬†I’ve been going to rehearsal after rehearsal, working out kinks of a brand new room and sound system, giving a concert for the many amazing volunteers this church has, more rehearsals, song preparations- and now- the final week leading up to the Grand Opening and Kick-Off Weekend of this new state of the art church. All this AND I get to play with these wonderful fellow musicians/friends? How blessed am I? Don’t think for a second I don’t know!


Feel free to take a look at the church’s Facebook page for pictures (of the outside only)- the unveiling will happen Sunday, September 10, 2017!¬†https://www.facebook.com/churchnativity/

We drove by after the State Fair on Labor Day and Brian snapped a photo.



This upcoming week is going to be one for the books! I can’t believe my oldest is starting Kindergarten, and that he will be attending school all day, every day. He seems so little for that. I know the kids are all fine, but I’m coming from growing up in a time where Kindergarten was about 3 hours and there was a nap in there. Today, there’s a homeroom teacher teaching Math, Science, English and Social Studies, plus an Art, P.E. and Music teacher. It’s going to be a whole new world! Kindergarten is most certainly the new first grade. I just hope it’s a smooth transition for my boy. He is very excited to be going to school. I hope that feeling lasts and that he is always excited about school- unlike his mama. ūüėÄ

Basically me in school, just wanting it to be over with so I could go work on important things like music and writing. People asking too many questions was just one struggle.


I’m glad I’ll be able to go with him the first day for a few hours, just so see how things are going and flowing. He will be on regular schedule after that and I will begin my schedule of madness leading up to Sunday- which includes rehearsals- one on Thursday, three on Saturday. Then four masses and one special performance on Sunday. After that, I can breathe a little, though I will be doing all five masses per Sunday through Oct. 8- which is a great thing! I’m happy to be busy!

Add one baby, one cat, and two dogs!

This new space- the church- what a freeing environment. Without giving away too much too soon, I’m all wireless- ears and mic- with nothing between me and the people. I don’t have a line of mic stands and equipment in front of me. It’s a very clean area, which is a welcome change to every scenario I’ve been a part of since the days of mic-less plays I used to be a part of in my youth. This is as good as it gets… and about all I’m at liberty to say until this is all unveiled.


I’m wishing everyone a smooth transition to the next season of changes. Until the next update or crazy story… I remain…



I never dreamed I’d be posting a Hilary Duff quote, and yet, here we are. ūüėÄ

The Space in My Timeline

You may wonder, where has WayOutMama been? But probably not. If you are reading this, you are¬†most likely already my friend in real life, or at the very least on Facebook. If that is the case, you understand the glaring gap in my blogging history without explanation. But for those of you just coming in, I feel like someone who’s been out of the workforce and is now trying to explain the space in my timeline on my resume.

But I don’t need to do that, do I? We’re friends, right? Since last I left you, I had a 3 year old and an 8 month old. I worked 2 part time jobs, one from home, the other- music, which is classically a very erratic schedule with plenty of late nights. We were living in a little row house, which we had definitely outgrown. The year was spent casing out many houses, until we finally settled on our dream house in a cute little town 20 minutes from where we were, but more centrally located to where we needed to be. We settled in January on the day of a blizzard which brought an historic 29 inches of snowfall. We moved in¬†and got snowed in on the same day. Luckily, we had everything we needed, the power stayed on, and we took it as an opportunity to unpack.

We settled, unloaded the truck, and the snow started! 29 inches by the next day!

A month later, I was pregnant. Imagine that! I was just getting used to 2 kids, and now the thought of 3? Overwhelming! At least we had plenty of room, now. I might have lost it if we were still in the row house! Over the summer, when I was 4-5 months pregnant, my husband had a health scare that could have been fatal if it hadn’t been caught in time. Thank goodness is was, and just a surgery later, we were in the clear. We had a very stressful month or so, waiting on results and his recovery from surgery. We breathed a huge sigh of relief, and moved forward, so very thankful for our many blessings.

A summer being pregnant with a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old was…. exhausting. I also had terrible sciatica and was still singing on a weekly basis, along with a small part time job I do from home. It was a long, hot, summer. We did have a beach/cousin getaway, which was such a nice opportunity for memory making for the kids (and the parents!). (“STOP RUNNING!” haha!)

My 4 year old started preschool then I was 8 months pregnant. My sweet William arrived at the end of the September. I sang up until 4 days before the birth, and started back up 3 weeks after. Here’s a picture of me of the gig just before the birth…..

Baltimore Harbor Gig


Welcome little William!

Enter into the Christmas season, which was so bittersweet as it was my baby’s first Christmas, and our first Christmas in our new house with kids who understand a little more now. But on the down side, my dear friend and bandmate’s life on earth was coming to a close after a 3 year battle with cancer. To say this man was a walking angel is an understatement. A tremendous son, husband, father, friend, musician, coach, inspiration to so many, Rob Belanger was the tops, in so many ways. He is missed by many, and is missed still so much by me.

Singing with Rob, 2014- I was pregnant with my daughter here. (Photo credit: Church of the Nativity, Lutherville-Timonium, MD)

Christmas Morning – she can’t even.

Christmas Eve – almost 3 months old

In January, another loss hit us- Jesse, our dog, finally lost her battle with cancer. She was given 6 weeks to live 2 and a half years prior, so she had quite an extra bonus life. We had wanted to get a puppy while she was still with us, but toward the end, it would have been too much with a tiny infant in the house, and the care that she needed.

I like to call this one, “Snow Tutu”. She was actually running top speed through snow!

About a month after Jesse passed, we welcomed Arlo into the fold. He was born on my husband’s great uncle’s farm. My husband and son went up for a visit, and came back with this little bundle of beagle. I never understood Snoopy so much until I met this little guy. Beagles are so funny and full of character, and the kids love him. One kid in particular was¬†the center of Arlo’s affections… the baby! He just cuddled up to him immediately as if he was one of his own. Sweetest. Thing. Ever.


We had already planned on getting a bigger dog, an Anatolian Shepherd, but we were unsure if it was going to happen or not. Well, it happened, just 2 weeks later. Welcome, Finn, our big beautiful puppy! Jesse was half Anatolian Shepherd… Finn is full. They are so much alike it is eerie!



It was a year and a half jam-packed with every emotion possible. I’m looking forward to keeping you posted from here on out!

My Real Life Peanuts- singing and dancing in the rain!

Until then, have a WayOut day!


(All rights reserved on photos. Photo credits B. Schurman, M. Wheatley, Church of the Nativity)

A Boy Named Happy

“What’s YOUR name?” I asked my then 2 year old.

He hadn’t said much up until that point- the regular, “Mama, Dada, doggy, hi, bye bye” and the like. My sister and I were sitting with him on the lawn of a summer concert¬†where¬†I’d just performed and we were relaxing afterwards, watching the kids run around.

“What’s YOUR name?” I asked again. “Patrick. Patrick.” I pointed at him.

He said, “Taptrick, Tap…. Taptrih….. Happy.”

We laughed and said, “Did he just say Happy???”

From then on, until now, he has been referring to himself as “Happy”. We love this so much, and gladly call him by his self-proclaimed nickname, because ever since he was born, that is what people have said about him. “He’s just so… HAPPY.”

And he is. He’s not only the light of our lives, but for so many people. From family and friends to complete strangers out around town. Even people who’ve just seen his picture on Facebook tell me when I see them, “I can’t get enough of your precious pictures of Patrick. He just makes me happy.” When we meet people who’ve only seen him in pictures, they tell me, “I feel like I’m meeting a celebrity.” And I can see their genuine excitement. That’s our boy. Inspiring smiles, even from afar.

Happy is a good boy…. mostly. He turns¬†3 today, so we’ve had our moments. He’s still only learning, as any 2/3 year olds are. He tests his limits, but on the whole, he could not be sweeter or funnier kid, or a more ferocious dinosaur. His imagination is really starting to take off and it’s a joy to watch him play with his dinosaurs (big dino to little dino: ” I yuv you.” and in a higher voice, “I yuv you, too!”) to the actual becoming of a dinosaur, stomping, growling, looking around, roaring, arms in T-Rex position, with the proclamation, “IIIIII…. a DI-SORE…. REEEEXXXXXX!!!!” He loves all sorts of play- trains, puzzles, painting, loves the gym, running, jumping on the trampoline and throwing rocks in the river. ¬†He’s been obsessed with the alphabet and numbers since he was 19 months old and could identify all his letters since then. He loves books. We read a lot. He also loves movies, namely, Rio 2, Frozen and Chicken Little. He loves watching YouTube videos of Thomas Train races and Dinosaur Eggs. He just started singing songs, which is so precious to me, especially. He loves the ABC song, and subsequently Twinkle Twinkle, but his newest favorite is Old MacDonald Had a Farm. He is just starting to be able to have some more meaningful conversations and is asking a lot of questions. “What’s that for, Mommy?” “What are you doin’ with that, Mommy?” “What do you think you’re doing, Mommy?” (This last one is hilarious- it’s what Daddy asks him a lot. “What do you think you’re doing?” as a joke, you know, when he’s just playing or watching a show.)

Most recently, Happy has become a big brother- and he’s a sweet big brother. He loves his “Babyyemmie” He sings songs to her and came up with¬†her theme song. It’s actually more of a tribal chant that has a crazy little dance that goes with it. “BABYEMMIE, BABYEMMIE, BABYEMMIE, BABYEMMIE”. It’s so funny, and he has us all doing it!

Our little Happy. We are so happy he “came to our house”, to quote an old saying we use in our family.

Happy Birthday, Happy! We love you!


The Life and Times of a Mom of Two under Two and Half

“So how is it with two kids?”

“Like Sand Through the Hourglass”… and now introducing… mind¬†fluff!


This is probably THE most asked question I get these days. This is mostly from people who are about to be in my position, or are thinking about it. Though, not always… some people have been through it and want to know how my experience stacks up to theirs. Some don’t have kids at all and wonder how anyone manages one kid, much less two. Now that I’ve had 5 months with the two of them, it’s becoming a little more clear.


I wrote the paragraph above two hours ago. It wasn’t even a complete thought until I reworded it completely! Since then, I’ve changed two diapers and fed a toddler twice and a baby once. Squeeze in a couple of “bounce on the lap songs” for two kids- which is pretty dangerous when you’ve got the toddler naked from the waist down. We decided last night that we’d try the potty this morning. So, we have tried it twice, with no results. But I figure, I’ll just keep him¬†naked until something happens.


Annnnd….. fast-forward to an hour and a half later. Well the big news is that Patrick, out of nowhere, says, “Diaper, Mommy, diaper!!!” I said, “No… let’s try the potty!!!” So we raced up the stairs and into the bathroom. He was so unsure of this, even though he has sat on the potty before. But I could see on his face that it was finally all coming together in his mind. He almost cried. I said, “It’s ok, just go in the potty.” And there it was…. trickle trickle, followed by a look of amazement. We both laughed and cheered. It was the best. He kept going… and going. I was hoping that he was ready to poop too, but no such luck. So I still have a little Donald Duck running around. And by that, I mean a toddler wearing a shirt and no pants, waiting for further instructions from the poop universe, or, “poopiverse”, as I have just decided to call it from now on.


If I get NOTHING else accomplished today, it will be ok.



Fast forward to an hour later. He has now peed on his play mat. I’m thankful for that- at least it was on the mat, as it was an easy cleanup. No big deal. We went up to the potty, sat down, did nothing, flushed anyway, got a diaper and decided to wrap it all up with a nap. Meanwhile, baby practices tummy time on her blanket. Possibly too much tummy time. But that’s ok. She probably needed it.


So where was I? How is having 2 kids? It’s hard. I feel like I’m 80% reactionary. I can plan all I want, but those plans are usually dashed within 2 hours. So now I just sort of go with the “daily mental checklist” with no times attached. I just squeeze everything in, in between the many diapers and feedings and consolations and playtime. But I manage to get to the important things- like laundry, dishes, and even dinner sometimes. Luckily I can listen to the songs I need to learn, so at least they are just playing¬†throughout the day and getting ear-wormed¬†into my brain. When I get a moment I will go to the piano (which is at arms length) and run through them for extra solidification. I get plenty of internet time when I’m feeding the baby. What else am I going to do when pinned down? Oh yeah, then there is¬†the side work I do- making virtual tours for a real estate company. They are done¬†during said feedings and in¬†between everything else. Thanks to dad and family, I haven’t missed a deadline, rehearsal or gig since the baby was born. And somehow I’ve managed to be prepared.

Priorities and Multitasking- I can’t stress these two enough. Things that fall through the cracks for me are keeping up with emails and calls that are not work related. I apologize to anyone waiting for me to respond to them. “It’s not you, it’s me.” to quote George Costanza.








Ok, fast-forward a couple of weeks. That’s right WEEKS. I now have a 6 month old. When I first started this, she was still 5 months, and it was a couple of weeks before Easter, a VERY busy time for anyone in a church band. We had 2 rehearsals the week before and 4 masses to play for on Easter Sunday. So of course, being me, ¬†I also squeezed in an internet radio interview, which thankfully, we were able to do by phone! And thank goodness my cousin stopped by. She fed the baby and watched the 2 year old run around while I went outside so I could actually hear the questions that were being asked.

Thanks, Kelly!

Just today, a friend sent me a message asking me the question, “Is it easier with the second kid during the first 6 months?” I fully understand this question. Before the baby was born, I was pretty much all-consumed with thoughts of “Will I have enough time for the baby? For the 2 year old? ¬†For the house? For music? For work? How will I go to the store? Make dinner? Do the laundry? Will I have time for my husband?¬†Myself?”


I suppose the final answer, looking back on the last 6 months is that some things are easier and some things are harder. The actual taking care of baby is much easier. There’s no poring over the minutia of milestone accomplishments, whether my baby is healthy, normal, on track… you know, not to the obsessive point that I did with my first. ¬†I don’t even think about diapers, or feeding- we just do it. I don’t worry about every little thing, nor do I have a WebMd and Baby Center in their own window, just waiting for me to look something up. Doing everything for everyone is tough, but not impossible. It can be exhausting. Some days you may feel like you’ll never get it together. Can you do it all? Yes. There is¬†time for everything, but maybe not in the timeframe you¬†expect. The sooner you learn that, the better- for your mind, body and soul. You realize what your priorities are. And the priorities change daily. Some days you will get nothing done. Some days you won’t believe how much you accomplished. Celebrating those accomplishments and not beating yourself up for the off days are equally important. Some days a shower is top priority. Most days, it is far from it.


The hard part is that it can be physically and mentally exhausting. Try getting a baby to take a nap- one who fights it like crazy and who is also a VERY light sleeper- while¬†keeping a toddler quiet who hasn’t quite grasped the concept of “whispering”. Impossible. Imagine every time you turn around, the things you just put away are back out- along with 10 other things. Infuriating. I’m pretty easy going, and even I have had to take a step back and realize that I can’t control… well…. ANYTHING. This is not news, exactly. None of us can, but nothing like having 2 kids to remind you on a daily basis. Ok, sometimes an hourly basis. Oh, you think you are going to make it to Story Time on time? EVER? Think again! You think you are going to have a fun playdate? Nope. Kids get sick all the time. You think you can go to the bank, Target and grocery store? Sorry, you now have a 2-Stop policy in effect. And so go the best laid plans.



Somehow it all gets done. (I write¬†this as I think of the mountain of laundry I still have to fold after being clean for a day and a half. Oh, who am I kidding? That is happening tomorrow, with any luck!) If I were to offer any advice, it would be to welcome all help- whether from your partner, family, or friends- any little bit helps. Just yesterday my sister-in-law asked if I wanted her to go to the store with me. I didn’t think I needed “help” so much, but I said “Sure!”… and it was admittedly much easier with a couple of extra hands.



I think I just heard the baby say “Mama” in the next room. That would be a first. But she’s so happy playing by herself, I’m not even going to bother her. I’m just happy that she’s happy and nobody is crying and I’m able to have a cohesive thought and a moment “to myself”. I put that in quotes because there really are very few moments to myself, I tend to stretch the meaning of “alone”. If they are on the floor sitting next to me and it’s quiet, that’s “alone” now.


Since another day has passed since the previous paragraph, I suppose I ought to wrap this up, otherwise I could go on and on, chronicling our daily routine and adding thoughts I KNOW I’ve forgotten to say. I think this 3¬†week long blog entry pretty much sums up what it’s like to have two kids, 2 and a half and under. Writing this wasn’t easy and it took forever- but I got it done- in my own time!


Addendum: I’m not going to lie. It has taken me an exact WEEK to add pictures, proofread and post this.

But it’s all worth it.





Tell me how it is (or was) for you!


The 2014 Birth Story, Gig and Christmas Wrap-Up



The fact that I am just now, on February 4th, getting to my Last Year Wrap-Up should tell you something.¬†Way Out Mama is one busy mama. Let’s backtrack to… hmm… let’s say September.

September 2013 marked the beginning of the 2nd “Busy Season” for anyone in a wedding/corporate band. Now, let’s also remember that I was 8 months pregnant just going into it this year. I was booked solid- every Saturday and Sunday in September. I also had gigs every Saturday/Sunday in October, one was two¬†days before my scheduled C-Section. Would I…. could I…. do this?


I was pretty confident up through September. I was leery of the first 2 weeks of October. I mean, anything COULD happen. Based on my last pregnancy/birth, I had no reason to believe this baby would want to come out of my body without help (40 hours of labor ending with a C-Section and a baby who was 10lbs 3 oz for those keeping score from the first time!). This baby was also trending big, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t go into labor. As a “just in case” I brought my mom along on the last 2 gigs- just in case I needed someone to take me to the hospital! Both gigs were 2 hours away so I thought it was smart to have somewhat of a Plan B.

The last gig before the birth, I was having some fairly severe pain in my abdomen. It was really just the baby’s position, but WOW. I was a little worried how I would get through it. But, as per usual, once the music starts going, and I get to singing- all things physical resolve themselves. It is amazing, the things I have sung through, but this one was up there!


Thank goodness, because the following day I said, “I’m glad this is the last day, because I can’t take much more of this. I could hardly walk. I could hardly lay down, my sciatica was at level ELEVEN.


The birth couldn’t have been more night/day from the first one. I went into the hospital fairly rested and had eaten just before midnight (as opposed to 40 hours before the birth). Walked myself into the delivery room with my favorite doctor of all time and came out with a beautiful new baby, this time an hour earlier than expected! It was so much easier and relaxed than before. I even got our good family friend Kim as my nurse afterwards, which was so nice. We came home and started our lives with this new little girl- Mary Elizabeth- M.E, (pronounced “Emmie”).

The birth itself was amazing. I will never forget when they held that little kitten (she REALLY sounds like a cat- even still!) over the curtain, covered with goo, screaming her head off… wow. What a beauty!



A week early, she weighed in at 8lbs 10oz. 21.5 inches.

They did get her cleaned up quickly though… and we got to see that hair… that CRAZY HAIR! Nobody in my our immediate family has had a kid with hair like this. I had a cousin or two… but this was not the bald baby I was expecting!


Her hair was really almost black at first. It’s settled into a nice brownish/reddish/blondish mix at three months, but much of it has fallen out. It’s so wild that every morning I swear I’m waking up to Nick Nolte’s mugshot. We’ll see what happens. I have a feeling the second the sun hits it, it will get all super strawberry blonde. Can’t wait for summer!

noltemug Note how the hair sticks out on the sides… hard to capture. And yes, she is WAAAAY cuter than Mr. Nolte.


Patrick has been doing great with his sister. He’s not so happy with me all the time, but loves the baby. ūüôā It’s ok. We’ve pretty much worked through it. But he welcomed his sister with open arms. Always so concerned about her well-being. “Don’t worry, Baby M.E. It’s ok. It’s ok.” What a great brother. I’m so glad they have each other.



The second C-Section was so much easier to get over. I think for a combination of reasons. For one, having had one before, a lot of the nerve endings in the abdomen are dead. Good. Who needs ’em? Secondly, there was no 40 hours of trauma beforehand. Thirdly, I did not have the breastfeeding complication I had last time (an abscess which took an entire month to heal- something from which I still bear a scar). I’m happy to say we’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for going on 4 months, and this baby is growing and growing! Amazing what our bodies can do, ladies. To grow a baby and then keep growing them once they come out. They say that even though it didn’t work the first¬†time, it really paved the way for things to work out smoothly this time. For that, I am thankful.


The next gig was a¬†week¬†and a half away, and thank goodness we had someone to cover for me. Though the day of, I started off feeling so good, I would have been tempted to do it. But then a terrible headache took over for the next several days. I was dehydrated, as it turned out. Not eating/drinking nearly enough. But it’s the last thing you are thinking about in between feedings, diapers, a 2 year old running around and oh yeah, no sleep. I got back on track quickly, and it was a good thing because I had so many gigs to do between the band and the church, I was booked a few times a week for much of November- starting Nov. 1! I’d just had major surgery on Oct. 13, and here it was Nov. 1, and I was playing a wedding with really no trouble at all. The baby came along with my mom and I’d feed her on breaks. We did a good job of keeping it under wraps, too. I know my bandmates thought I was nuts, but oh well. One of my¬†biggest fears is to let anything stop me from playing music- even kids. Thankfully, everyone has been¬†very understanding- husband, family, bandmates one and all!


In the midst of all this, I managed to make my “Oh Little Town of Laurel” video/song, get airplay on Laurel Cable Access, and get written up in the local paper.


The band ended up getting a few last minute corporate events, which was great and perfect timing at Christmas. I even got a free Christmas tree with lights at one of them! Thank God for small gifts!


Christmas Eve I was able to sing for nearly 10,000 people (divided between 2 masses) at the Cow Palace in Timonium at the Fair Grounds for Church of the Nativity. What an incredible¬†experience and such a blessing to play with such amazing musicians. This year featured a string section that was so good, I could easily get lost listening to them. ūüôā


Christmas was great- M.E.’s first Christmas, Patrick’s first that he actually “got”. It was really a wonderful day. Patrick is a great big brother- loves his Baby M.E..


To wrap up the year, I finished two more songs for The Rhythm Surf Monkeys… with baby in tow. I’ve been doing a lot with her in tow! Rehearsals, sound checks, gigs… talk about “no child left behind”. She seems to really love the music. At rehearsal, she only stirs when we are talking in between songs. But, really, she spent all her life up until birth surrounded by music, I guess it makes sense. What a great way to start off.


Well, that’s “all” for now. I know it’s a long one. Back to the drawing board with the blog. Can’t believe it’s 2015. FEBRUARY 2015. This year is already flying.