Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chicken Nuggets

We joined the YMCA. When making the decision to join I expected some transformation, some self-discovery, some sweat, some tears, but I didn't expect so many results so soon.
My primary discovery has been that I am neurotic and paranoid. The idea of exercising in a gym atmosphere with other people around makes me giggle, act immature, and pretty much make a dope of myself...big bonus, we're coughing up almost $100. a month for the aforementioned moronic behavior on my part. Last night Rory and I went together, working out will bring us closer together, and I hoped maybe make Rory so tired he'd go to bed at a normal time (didn't happen).
We got to the Y, dropped off the kids, which is where the tears come in, you'd swear Baby Henry has serious abandonment issues whenever I leave him.
Then we went to our separate locker rooms, everyone in the locker room acts like they know what they are doing. People shower, change, brush their teeth, I even saw a woman blow drying her hair, it was 6:30pm, WHY?
I felt like I needed to do something while I was participating in the locker room portion of our adventure, so I put my stuff away, went to the bathroom, washed my hands for a looooong time, then I checked my Facebook profile on my phone, checked the lock on my locker again, weighed myself, tied my shoes, checked the steps on my pedometer and went to wait for Rory...where was he? What could you possible do in a locker room to get ready for working out? I was in the locker room for almost 5 minutes and I read every sign in there!
Finally I just went to the "Fitness Area." Hopped up on a treadmill and felt totally overwhelmed, all the buttons, should I do a "Fit Test?" While I was debating the merits of the Rolling Hill setting vs. Interval training Rory came up behind me, I was somewhat taken by surprise, and for some reason yelled at the volume of someone who had been approached by a knife-wielding serial killer, and that's just the beginning.
Now that everyone was looking at me, Rory suggested we go lift weights and work on our arms. This is where I should tell you, I've worked out before, I've been to a weight room, just not at my current shape and size. Let me tell you, size matters. We started out at some machine and I put the weight peg thingy in the hole by 50lbs. I can lift that...wrong! I couldn't even move it and I looked in the mirror and my face looked funny trying to move it, so I started laughing and then I started commenting about the lack of mirrors at McDonald's and how much safer I feel there. Still no smile from Rory. I was really making some good comments, I was rolling!
I did the sets required of me by my very serious looking husband and we moved on to the next machine, then I started noticing the people standing around "pretending" to be stretching. I say "pretending" because I know they were really staring at me and mentally commenting on my ineptitude on the machines and general out of shape-ness. I could see the scorn in their faces. OK, really I couldn't but I was feeling really UNCUTE in those mirrors and maybe it was the scorn in my own face, I don't know, I remember in college I really liked those mirrors, seeing how my different muscles flexed. Now I would be happy if I could wear a snowsuit in the gym, or at least a long scarf to cover my mid-section.
We moved on to the bench. At first I thought he was joking. I laughed, too loud, made some comment about it being a breeding ground for bacteria. Still nothing, usually he finds me very funny, what is his problem? So I attempt to lay down, I say attempt because in laying down I misjudged where the actual bar was and hit the back of my head on it, but I totally meant to do that. I think my hair absorbed most of the blood. When I finally was able to lay on the bench I had to scoot my body down because my head was hanging off, then my shirt started creeping up and I couldn't stop laughing. I thought Rory was going to kill me, don't worry though, it got worse. I couldn't lift the bar. The bar with no weights, I couldn't lift it, when I finally did my arms were shaking and I was worried I was going to drop it on my face so I closed my eyes, and Rory took the bar away from me. He then handed me something called the Body Bar, which is a little bar for wienies. So then I started saying stupid things like "Look at me with the wienie bar." Rory was still not amused.
At last I was allowed to go back to the safe treadmill, and the only one available was next to a pretty foxy college girl who had on WAY too much perfume. I got on the treadmill and just pushed a bunch of buttons, because I didn't want her to think I was a total idiot, then the treadmill began going really fast and I had to run, and I couldn't see the stop button. Eventually I was flung off and the college gal took out her ear bud and said "Are you OK?" and I was about to say something like "Someday, you too will have your body ravaged by 3 pregnancies with no time to work out and a McDonald's right by your kids school. So enjoy hot and skinny while it lasts Sister!"
Instead I said "I'm totally OK, I meant to do that." Thus confirming to her that I was a total idiot.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken and Rice

I'm pretty secure in my marriage. Lately we've been having some problems though. Are you ready for some juicy insight into the secret that plagues our marriage? Here goes.
Rory has a habit, a terrible habit that is causing me to lose sleep at night. You see, Rory rarely goes to bed before midnight, sometimes he stays up past one, even until 2am. When we were just married this didn't bother me, I could just as easily stay up and read a book, take a bath, do laundry, many times we stayed awake til the wee hours of the morning just talking. Now, 3 kids later, it's taking it's toll and I don't know how to change course.
When we married we vowed to go to bed together every night if possible. While I was growing up my mom always went to bed early, and alone. So unromantic. My marriage would be different.
The worst part about this habit is that I don't know how to break it, it isn't as though he is forcing me to stay awake, he's more subversive than that. Sometimes it's cleaning the house, or proofreading one of his Master's papers, could be budget committee meetings, or packing the kids lunches...but every night the clock creeps to midnight and beyond and I'm awake in the company of my beloved.
I've tried a lot of different tactics too, promises of "cuddling," offers to let him watch TV in bed, promises he can pick whatever History Channel show he wants. Sometimes he agrees and comes to bed, then we end up talking and planning for our future, or Christmas or summer vacation, I've even stayed up late talking about whether or not Charlie Weis (Notre Dame EX-football coach) should get fired (he did), or if Notre Dame should go to a bowl game or not, and how 'bout them Chicago Bears? We've burned the midnight oil over their poor performance too.
Our kids are in bed and sleeping, regularly by 7:30pm. I could go to bed right then, but never do, every night I am hopeful that that will be the night I am sound asleep by 10:30. Somehow the promise of interesting conversation with a man I adore is too great for me, and I head downstairs for hours of interesting conversation, proofreading papers on health care policy,(BORING!) housecleaning, History Channel or football strategy talk, and he never disappoints, so I guess the hours of beauty sleep I am missing are worth it, if only we could get paid for our late night football analysis.

So dear readers, please answer these questions for me:

  1. When do you go to bed at night?
  2. Do you go to bed at the same time as your spouse?
  3. Do you feel that going to be together is important?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fridge Finds

When I was in high school I wrote a column that some of you may remember called "Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup." I was always really proud of that column. I also was editor of the opinion pages, and on the one of the pages we had a sidebar called "Yeas or Nays."
Lately I've suffered a bit of writer's block when it comes to blogging, so I'm going to try the "Yeas or Nay's" today.

  • Yea to Costco, I love that store.
  • Yea to have a completed road in front of my house, summer road construction was the pits.
  • Yea to my husband for kicking butt and taking names on his Master's work this week.
  • Yea to eyelash curlers, they change my look so dramatically. IMO.
  • Yea to Facebook, sometimes the mindlessness of it is just what I need.
  • Yea to those people from MN whose wedding reception was copied on The Office. Their site has raised more than $15,000 for the Sheila Wellstone Institute. If you haven't seen it you really need to get with it, here is is:
  • Yea to teaching kids about nutrition. Today when I opened a can of Diet Coke my 4 year old told me "Wow, that's really not healthy food Mom. You should have milk, like me."
  • Yea for Diet Coke, you complete me.


  • Nay to all the headlines being bad news on
  • Nay to going into debt for holiday shopping. Uncool.
  • Nay to my empty fridge, and no grocery shopping until Friday. How is it our food only lasts 12 days, never 14?
  • Nay to the complaints from my 7 year old that our milk tastes kind of "carton-y." Who are these kids?
  • Nay to dishes that don't get clean in the dishwasher.
  • Nay to toothpaste globs in the sink.
  • Nay to library fines. When I was a kid you could pay library fines with can goods. What happened to that?

Now it's your turn. Tell me what you're happy about. Or give me one or two sentences of crabbiness. You deserve it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

French Onion Soup

With the biggest days of holiday shopping upon us, when all of our weekends are filled with not only shopping but pageants, family celebrations, decorating and all the hoopla that comes with it I find myself coming up short on the holiday spirit. Don't get me wrong, I love the upcoming season, I am married to someone that might just be related to the mighty elf, the man loves Christmas so much.
This year though, I find I am overwhelmed by the disparity between news reports of where the best sales are and the hottest toys and other reports on how poorly the economy is doing, how needy the food shelves are, the overflowing homeless shelters, and tremendous shortages all charities are experiencing. What can I do? How can I help? Are there opportunities out there for me to get involved and find a way that I can share the message of giving and sharing with our children. At 7 years old I know Monica understands that other kids aren't going to have Christmas holiday's like we do. I think Norah, at 4 knows that some kids don't have coats or mittens.
I saw an open invite from an old friend of mine on Facebook the other day, and was so impressed and moved by her efforts I got teary eyed. She is hosting a day for people to get together and make mittens to donate to Catholic Charities. No experience needed! Last year they made over 165 mittens. What an impact! I couldn't help but wonder what impact she is having on her own children in teaching them to share their own gifts. Even more she was using social networking to do good! Hooray!
So I'm going, with my lack of mitten making experience, and I am going to take my daughters, and we are going to try our hands (punny, right?) at mitten making.
Beyond that I am open to suggestions for family-friendly ways to give and share for the next weeks and beyond. I have a feeling that is a sure way to restore my waning Christmas spirit, and keep me off the naughty list.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leftovers #2

Today the Wal-Mart Black Friday ad was released, leaked, whatever you want to call it. If you want to see all the ads available for Black Friday check out: http://
I have discovered that one of the primary items we purchased for our 7-year-old will be almost $40 cheaper on Black Friday. After having the pleasure of being the opening manager on duty for a Target store for 2 years, I have no desire to be up before sunrise, but for $40, I think I just might.
Our goal this year is to due the bulk of our shopping online, or buying locally (i.e. people we know that have a knack for crafts). Rory designed a spreadsheet for me to punch in the gift idea, budgeted cost, actual cost, and variance and our whole Christmas holiday budget is right there in front of me. Which lets me know that we are over budget on child #1, right on for child #2, and child #3 is trailing pretty far behind. We're hoping to keep this spreadsheet for budgeting purposes for next year and break down our total amount spent by month and then by paycheck, so next Christmas will be even easier.
If you would like a copy of the template I would be glad to share it with you. Email me at if you want your very own.
I do a fair amount of comparison shopping as well, here is a list of the comparison shops I use most: (This one shows price history, which is a nice feature)
My all time, most used website for all online shopping is, if you say you were referred by me we both get cash (just enter my email from above). Ebates offers a percentage of cash back from most stores you've heard of and many that you may have not. They send a check quarterly, so in mid-January you get a check in the mail. One year I received a check for over $150! They also advertise coupons and shipping deals. Totally worth it. There are some sites like that do the same thing and the money goes into a savings account for your kid, but I prefer to get the cash back now.

I just had to share all these websites with you because there is NO reason you should ever pay full price for something, especially in this economy.

Hope some of this saves you a little cash this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Corn Dogs

Marriage is cyclical. Sometimes I am amazed (as I have been the past few weeks) with the wonderful, intelligent, handsome, thoughtful, sexy man I married. This week, not so much.
This is a belief I have held for many years. There are moments that the pure joy of being married to this wonderful creature brings me to tears, just not today, or yesterday, or the day before. Tonight he is working late, and I sort of wish he would just stay gone for a day or two. It would be nice to have the opportunity to appreciate him a little bit.
I am not angry with him, he has done nothing different this week than in past weeks, he is still his usual hard-working self, and no it's not "that time of the month." For awhile I just attributed it to the barometric pressure, or some other strange phenomena, but today I've come to the conclusion it's about space. Sometimes a person just needs their own space. I don't know if this is just female thing either, I would imagine men feel that way too, I don't know. When I talk to my husband about these feelings of disconnectedness he maintains he always loves me with all his heart (Gag!)
So to my devoted Rory, I love you, but sometimes your constant back-scratching needs, bed hogging, snooze button punching, cologne overdosing self isn't always a turn on, but most of the time it is.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Papa Murphy's Pizza

I tried something new today. I went to a Mom's Club at our new church. I was nervous, I was apprehensive, I was actually about to chicken out and not go. All these thoughts came rushing through my head...I don't know anyone there. I won't like anyone there. Worse, they won't like me. They will all be these put together women with well-behaved put together kids. I shouldn't go, I have a zit on my chin, I need a haircut, Baby Henry has a runny nose.

Really, all that was going through my head. Then my beloved husband called and said "You're going to that Mom's Club thing right? Or are you going to come up with some reason you can't go?" I began to tell him about the copious amounts of snot running from Henry's nose, people would surely think he was infectious and run from us. Silence. Beloved Husband wasn't buying it, moreover I was realizing I sounded a little lame.

The clock was ticking, we couldn't make it in time...more crazy thoughts...I wouldn't want to walk in late my first day. Not to mention our church is connected to a school, so I probably wouldn't be able to get in and they would think I was a kidnapper or something trying to break into the school, then the police would come, and then Beloved Husband would be called at work because I was arrested for breaking into a school and who would pick up my kids at school?

After all of that, I went. Everyone was really nice and welcoming. The speaker there today was from the Salvation Army and talked about all the amazing works they do in the Twin Cities and the United States. I was impressed and educated all at the same time.

Sure, Baby Henry of the Booger Brigade couldn't hack it in the nursery and had to come and sit with me in the Mom's Club meeting, and he proceeded to be booger-nosed and adorable all at the same time.

I was OK, I made it through. I met some really nice women whose names I couldn't remember if my life depended on it. I think I might go back. Baby Henry needs to build up a tolerance to the nursery. I'll do it for him.

Isn't it funny how when you need it most God sends the exact message you need to hear? Sure I'd appreciate it if he emailed me these messages instead of forcing me to live them real world, but today's message from God was about community and gratitude. There are women, just like me, who probably have crazy, italicized thoughts and they are waiting to meet me and I can't wait to get to know them better, maybe next time they can wear name tags! That was the community lesson.

The greater lesson today was that my worries were about whether or not to go to a Mom's Club, I wasn't thinking about how I was going to come up with food or a place to sleep for my children tonight. I wasn't cold or hungry today. After listening to the speaker from the Salvation Army I realized the blessings I have that so many people don't. I realized that my little drama's are nothing when you step back and look at the big picture. Tonight, I go to bed with a grateful heart, and tomorrow I am going to think a little more about what I can do to help out other mothers who don't have the gifts I so take for granted.

So thank you dear readers, for listening. I'm thankful for you too.

Check this out as well for more Salvation Army info:

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Salsa Joe's

When reflecting on the past year of my life I've realized that ears have been a primary theme. Yes, ears. Some of you may know that after a very difficult and traumatic birth and a few years of thinking everything was AOK we found out our middle daughter, Norah, was hard of hearing. What a journey this has been and a loud one at that!

I should mention that she did pass her newborn screening, but has had hearing loss since birth, so while the newborn screening has been very beneficial for some, it isn't perfect, so when it comes to your babies, trust your gut.

In the past year I have spent a lot of time crying, feeling guilty, sad, angry and sometimes downright furious that my child has to wear two hearing aids that are an outward sign of imperfection.

In this society, no matter how evolved with think we are, people notice things like hearing aids. At first I struggled when Norah wanted to wear her hair in ponytails, or buns, and then I realized I was putting my hang-ups on her. Norah wears little golden hearing aids (the part behind her ear) with purple sparkly earmolds (the part that goes in her ear). We also found something great called Tuberiders to help her accessorize even more. She wears her hair up most days because she is very proud of her hearing aids and likes to show them off. While Norah attends an oral school called Northern Voices for deaf and hard of hearing kids, she has recently began attending an early childhood class to help ease her transition to kindergarten next year and I am happy to report several of the children want hearing aids like Norah's!

This past year we have seen more happiness and successes than I ever imagined, and all of our children are developing a tolerance for diversity that I never could have taught them. My husband and I are developing a gratitude and understanding for those that have gone before us to advocate for their children. We are working to advocate for Norah everyday and make the needed changes to our daily lifestyles to accomodate her needs, sometimes small things like a little book light in the car so she can talk to her sister on dark car rides with the assistance of lip reading. I repeat myself a lot for Norah, as we all do, and when we listen to music we really turn it up. We don't have the TV all the time at home, because that causes a distraction for her.

Most of all we've learned to listen. Listen to Norah when she talks, because her language has seen a major explosion this past year, listen to our older daughter when she talks about her day and realize that being Norah's older sister is no easy task, and listen to our little Henry when he points to his ears and says "hearin' aids" and then we all have a laugh. How many 21 month olds can say that?

I will leave you with a list of some famous folks with hearing loss that wear hearing aids.

How many surprise you?

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Bill Clinton
  • Lou Ferrigno - The Incredible Hulk
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Rush Limbaugh (has a cochlear implant)
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Thomas Edison
  • Mike Singletary - Go Bears!
  • Leslie Nielsen
  • Al Unser - Race Car Driver
  • Bobby Unser - Race Car Driver
  • Huey Lewis
  • Juliette Low - Founder of Girl Scouts

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. While I have spent a large portion of my day thinking about my hard-working honey and our blissful 9+ years together, I have also been thinking about an important person missing from my life.
I was 11 years old when my Grandma Rita had a heart attack and died. She was just 56 years old and heart disease was known about but certainly not as marketed as well as it is these days. Some days I find myself wishing she would have been able to meet my husband, I know in my heart they would have been kindred spirits. I wonder what parenting advice she would have given me, and I think that she would have helped my mom relax a little more, but truly I don't know.
The Grandma Rita I remember is from a child's perspective. I know she was a woman who raised her kids in the tumultuous times of the 60's and 70's, and she certainly didn't have the marriage I do today. She gave birth to 7 children within 9 or so years and as far as I know she never had a nervous breakdown. She had a huge house to keep clean and didn't have McDonald's or Domino's to deliver dinner, and she didn't have the luxury of a dishwasher to clean up all those dishes.
Despite not having the things that I so take for granted, my memories of her and her sunny disposition are amazing. She let me wear lipstick, she never left the house without a little dab or two, and she always had a pie ready to eat on the table and cookies in an ice cream pail on top of the fridge. She was always ready with a hug, and would let me play beauty salon with her for hours, never complaining, I wonder how many times she realized she had a curler stuck in the back of her hair long after I'd gone home.
So 20 years after my Grandma Rita's too soon death, I am thinking of her, imagining how much she would love my children and my hilarious husband. Wondering if she'd be the kind of Grandma that had a cell phone or email. Wondering what advice she would give me about my children, or if she would make them pajamas with nightcaps for Christmas like the girls on Little House on the Prairie (her favorite TV show, after Cheers). I wonder how different my mom would be, if she hadn't lost her mother so near the age I am now.
After all that wondering, here is what I do know, I know that even 20 years after she last hugged me, I feel her arms around me in every move I make. I know that she would be proud of the woman I am today, her legacy lives on in me, a strong woman with a great sense of humor. I also know I need to take better care of my heart and body so I don't take after her with an early death and that I should try to wear more lipstick.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baked Chicken

I am a stay-at-home mom. Many of you know that, but in case you didn't I wanted to give you some context for what is to come.
I just fed my son lunch, and laid him down for a nap. Contrary to what many of you think I am not going to go sit on the couch to watch soap operas and eat bon-bons. I have allotted some time on the computer this afternoon to price compare Christmas gifts and hopefully get a jump on that. I am also going to finish the laundry I've been working on all day, clean the kitchen. call about a medical bill that is messed up, then go pick up my middle daughter bring her home and wait for the bus to drop off my older daughter. Then it's on to homework, catechism, make some dinner, serve some dinner, take my middle daughter to dance and on and on and on. Somewhere in here my husband will come home which can be both a help and a hindrance.
What bothers me is the lack of respect I sometimes feel from people that assume this job is easy or even a job that I want. Yes, I said it. I am envious most days when my husband showers, and leaves for work. I miss the days when I worked a full-time job and had the luxury of going to the bathroom without company. I sometimes went shopping on my lunch period, sometimes I even ate lunch.
The choice for me to stay home was a financial one, because when we really did the math and looked at our finances, taking into account taxes, childcare, and commute time I was making about $18 a day and we were arguing all the time about the lack of time, or about who had the more important job and would stay home with the kids if they were sick. It was ridiculous.
We aren't rich, and I certainly do not have the temperament of a preschool teacher, but we do love our kids and knew that something had to change. So now I'm a stay at home mom. I don't dress as nicely as I used too. I wear a lot of the sweatshirts I wore in college (free advertising for St. Mary's University's quality sweatshirts!) We don't eat out very much, and my kids don't have the latest toys or clothes I purchased out of guilt. I am learning lessons of patience every day, my husband is having incredible successes at his job, and while I'm not the best mom, I'm working on it.
Please remember though, while you may have a more recent haircut than I, or you think I need a job for my self-esteem, or that I may be too consumed by my kids and their activities, I chose this, and I would choose it again.
Everybody complains about their job, and everybody wants a raise, but not everybody has their employees in the bathroom with them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maybe Lasagna??

Friendship is strange when you get older. Now that I am in my 30's making friends is harder, and keeping friends is even more difficult. Old friendships get harder and harder to maintain, especially when common ground starts slipping away. New friendships are like some sort of weird dating, with a lot of stops and starts and second guessing. We've moved a few times in the past years, so I've been thrust into a lot of new situations and I've had some luck making really cool friends, and then I've met some real duds (you're all wondering aren't you?).
Some of the hardest parts of friendship for me have been making anhd then moving away from an amazing soul-mate sort of best friend on the east coast. It's been a struggle to give that friendship the attention it deserves because I get so wrapped up in mothering and living life 1500 miles away, that even with technology surrounding me, reaching out is more than I can do sometimes.
College friendships are a challenge to maintain as well, my dearest college friend and I took very different paths upon leaving college. That alone has has made us into very different people, (she camps and runs marathons, Aughhh!) but despite all of that, when we were staying at the Ronald McDonald house and our middle daughter was in the NICU I didn't hesitate to call my old college roomie while pumping breast milk at 6am. The best part, she answered. Do I talk to her everyday, week, month? Nope, but remembering our brightest moments have gotten me through some of my worst times.
New friends, with our most recent and foreseeably (is that a word?) permanent move, I have met some AMAZING women, some older than me, some younger, but the great equalizer is having school age kids. It staggers me sometimes to think I am going to have these people in my life for the next 18-20 years and I hope they don't age better than me. I sometimes wonder what the next friendship move, do I call them to chat, or does that seem overeager, do I tell them about the baggage I carry? Maybe not, it's still pretty early, and we've got 20 years, I hope.
Through it all I've had the blessing of shared experience with my best friend of all, someone who has seen me at my worst, and I mean absolute worst, and helped me to be my best. If you want to know what the best part about being married is, I would tell you it's when you get to have a permanent sleepover with your best friend. Despite any disagreements, annoying habits, and excessive sports watching, even when I go to the grocery store I get a little flip in my stomach knowing I'll be coming home to him. So despite all the stops and starts and the awkwardness of new friendships, or the bittersweet feelings about old friends, having a husband for a best friend makes it all ok. Especially when you see the hunk I have at home. Hubba, hubba.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dinner at My Parents

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the day to day. The dog needs a haircut, the laundry is multiplying by the minute, I think the dryer may have something wrong with the heating element, I think the starter is going on the minivan. Halloween is this weekend and not only do I HATE Halloween, I am feeling nearly crushed by the pressure of costuming 3 children, and for an added challenge we are going to be driving 5 hours to spend it at my in-laws in Green Bay. I loathe long car rides. Thus missing 2 gymnastics practices, which my 7 year old is obsessing about, and my husband casually mentioning that we have to be home by noon to watch the Bears game on Sunday, because God forbid we wouldn't be planted in front of the TV for the entire 4 quarters. I'll tell you my opinion on football another day.

Add to all of this my daughter going to the Hannah Montana concert tomorrow, and that we must monitor her dental hygiene extra closely as she recently had her 4 lower front teeth pulled and we need to make sure she doesn't get dry socket.

Believe it or not I went to college, I have a good (read EXPENSIVE) education. I previously worked in a pretty fast paced environment for a very successful MN company, and that was nothing compared to this workload.

Sometimes the thanklessness is shocking. The lack of recognition is depressing, but overall the rewards are amazing. As I write this I began sneezing and my little H, just 20 months old, playing on the floor next to me said his version of "Bless you, Mommy" and tears filled my eyes. Here I am writing a litany of complaints about the stresses of domesticity and God sends me a message through my little man that I am blessed, and he's absolutely right.

Tonight we are going to a wake, a wake for a man who was just 54, and healthy, but got sick from this horrible illness that is all over the news, H1N1. This illness does not discriminate, and for that we all need to be a little more diligent, both in taking care of ourselves and taking care of each other.

So when you see your family tonight, hug them a little bit harder for a little bit longer, ask them if they are taking care of themselves, get a little more sleep yourself and remember you are blessed.

Bless you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Honey Ham and Squash

All of our bills are paid. We have cash in our separate envelopes for gas, food (already spent), and spending. Nothing is due, nothing is past due. All of our dollars have names on them and I should be feeling groovy.
Instead, I alternate between being a little sheepish about the budgeting we do and being so proud I could scream it from the mountains. Are we anywhere near perfect? No way. Although I do think we know are dollars better than a lot of people.
As we had our finance committee meeting tonight (that's what we call bill paying here, very business-like, don't you think?) I couldn't help but feel a little cranky and deprived. I might want to go shopping this week, maybe even tomorrow. I may want to go to the store and buy whatever I see that I might want. I deserve it. I've been home with a sick husband, I've been a little sick this week myself, a little retail therapy would lift my spirits, but it really won't.
When we first decided that we were going to be in charge of our money it was because we were sick and tired of wondering where all of our money was going. We had some sort of mysterious amnesia about the dinners out at Red Lobster, Applebee's, or the fact that we were single-handedly supporting our local McDonald's remodel. When I was feeling brave I would sit down and pay bills with whatever was left in our checking account. Sometimes we had enough, most times not. Every time I logged on to our checking account our balance was a surprise, and not always a good one.
This was getting really old, and we weren't getting ahead at all. Sure, we had a nice house, and nice cars, and we never said "No" when people asked us to do something, we were sure they were so flush with money they weren't worried about putting gas in their car next week.
Then one day we realized it was OK to be different, to suggest eating at home with friends, eventually we just got different friends. We both heard the same talk radio guy and really thought he had some good points, so we got his book and then we got "it." If we wanted to realize our dreams we had to stop living above our actual income and get real with ourselves. It was hard, and scary. Now if we don't have cash we don't do it. It isn't easy yet, but I can tell you the surprise I feel now is when I balance our checking account and see that I got it right down to the cent. I love knowing that I will have my student loan debt paid off well before my kids go to college.
So yes, I want to go shopping tomorrow, or next week, but no new clothes warm me as much as the security I feel knowing my bills are paid and I have enough money for all the necessities.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Sometimes I think I can hear a little cash register ringing in my head. I think my husband can hear it on occasion as well, which may mean we are both insane.
When I first had kids I thought that babies were expensive. Now I know better. Currently our cheapest child his our little H (only 20 mos.). He eats, he poops, occasionally we bathe him. Beyond diapers, the financial output required to keep him at the standard of living he requires is minimal. I would also venture to say he is the best dressed of all of us (thanks to my mom's neighbor lady's garage sales!) So what am I talking about you ask?
Our oldest daughter is blessed with some serious gymnastics skill, she started gymnastics last spring and has quickly moved up to an elite, pre-competitive team. She is so excited about this I can only smile when I think of the small car payment we are going to begin paying for her to keep up her passion.
She will be making her First Communion this year, is Sunday school free? No way!Plus we have to pay 2 sacrament fees. One for First Communion, and one for First Reconciliation. We're talking in the neighborhood of $200 not including the cute First Communion dress and party in the spring.
Our middle daughter, just like her sister HAS to go to Sunday school, also not free. N also takes dance lessons which is no cheap deal either. Lessons, plus costumes, plus tickets to the recital. Not to mention the time suckage when I spend Monday nights, Tuesday and Thursday nights, Saturday AM's all watching my children doing what they love. Not including the monthly Wednesday's for Family Faith at church.
So why do I do it? Because my mom did it, because my mother-in-law did it. To keep my kids off drugs, off the streets, out of trouble, to help them build confidence.
I may not get a thanks tonight when I spend 2-1/2 hours watching gymnastics practice, or tomorrow when I am filling out the forms for book orders (ka-ching). It may be years before I get so much as acknowledgement from them for the time and $$$ spent, but it's worth it. Today I look at my parents and my in-laws and think about what they gave up or the budgeting they did and the volunteer hours they put in so my husband and I were always ready for our meets, be they track (me) or wrestling and football (R).
It was worth it, we are better people for it, and despite the dollar signs I often see in my husbands eyes, or the new winter coat I may not buy this year (no worries, I have several) so we can afford gymnastics and religion classes, and birthday parties.
So today remember to say thanks to your parents and in-laws and try to have a lighter heart when you have to run back in the house for the water bottle your child forgot. It'll pay off in the end, we hope.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Frozen Pizza

I have given birth to 3 wonderful children. I am married to my best friend. I was a collegiate athlete. I have wonderful parents, in-laws, and siblings. I have many friends, new and old that I thank God for everyday.
I also have spent the past several years going on and off anti-depressants, and for portions of the time I have struggled with some pretty severe depression. Depression characterized by extreme exhaustion, lack of interest in activities, sometimes nearing resentment that other people were so happy when I was miserable. I had extreme social anxiety, to the point I would cancel things with others, even haircuts (and I love getting my haircut) because I couldn't face people that were in a good mood, but I took comfort in the fact that I was never suicidal or homicidal, which meant I wasn't depressed, right?
Paxil, Zoloft, and Celexa are some of the more famous names I've tried. I have tried counseling, self-help books, diet changes, spurts of exercise. You name it, all to fight off this undercurrent of malaise I've felt. I've had weight gain, acne, bloating, and most recently joint pain from the latest medication I was taking. I would be prescribed these medications and not see the prescribing doctor for a year or more, or never again sometimes. That is not a safe way to take medication.
Today I went to the doctor. I explained to the doctor, quite truthfully, that I love my life (see 1st paragraph), but every time I try to stop taking these medications I feel so crummy I start back on them again. After talking to the doctor for quite sometime, we decided that I should taper off the current anti-depressants I am taking and see what I am really like without medication. She gave me directions on how to safely taper off of the medication I take and made me promise that if I feel bad, don't feel bad calling her and making an appointment. I also need to come back in 2 months to see how things are going, good or bad. I've never had a doctor plan a follow-up for anti-depressants before.
In this day of health care reform talks, and lack of access to health care providers, I found this refreshing, not only did this doctor try to help me help myself, but she didn't throw a prescription at me, and she did offer me reassurance that she was there for me if I needed help, and that we were a team in charge of my health.
No, I did not go to a small private clinic, which makes this even more incredible, and for the first time since I began taking anti-depressants, when Prozac was really the only one out there, I feel like I can do this.

What I want to communicate to my readers today is this:
1. Anti-depressants are ok. Some people do need them.
2. Don't think that you have be on them forever.
3. If your doctor isn't your care partner, find another doctor.
4. Depression isn't something you have to be embarrassed about.
5. The only shameful part about depression is not doing something about it.

October is Depression Awareness Month, and I didn't even know that when I started this blog post. Depression is a scary thing, I know, I've been there and I think I'm on my way out of it. Don't be afraid to tell someone, help and support are a great part of treatment, but may not be the only treatment for you.
I was a little embarrassed putting this out there, worried I might embarrass my husband or family somehow, but I know that writing this has helped me more than keeping it to myself ever has.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Get help, it's out there now more than ever. http://

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Soup of sorts

Let's be real here for a minute. Any of you parent's reading this have had moments where they wondered "Am I normal?" "Is my kid normal?" "Am I damaging my kid irrepairably?"
While most of the parents and kids I know (myself included) have kids that are well above average and extremely adorable, haven't we all wondered from time to time, if their kid wasn't from another planet?
All joking aside, I talked to a mom this morning who wanted reassurance from me that her kid was normal. She sure came to the wrong gal for that! Some of you may be reading this thinking your kids are perfect and gifted, good for you! The truth is, most of us, I think, want reassurance and comfort from others, young moms, old moms, grand moms that we will get through this. That our kids will be ok and so will we. Especially moms of children with disabilities. Moms who spend so much time hoping their kids will hit "AVERAGE" or "TYPICALLY DEVELOPING" on some chart somewhere.
Now this blog is not just about my days with a disabled child, how fair would that be to my other 2? I am an equal opportunity embarrasser! I do want to use this blog as an opportunity to share my daily struggles, joys and concerns and to shed a little light on what getting by looks like, from my perspective. My main goal of this blog is to be something I would want to read and to be relatable. I can't promise mother of the year insight, good parenting, marriage or sex tips, there will be no weight loss tips, but I can promise honesty, and that I want to hear what you think. If you want to know what I think, let me know, I'll try to write about it.
So to my friend from this morning, thanks, by trying to help you, I helped me. It feels to know good we're in it together.

a pie must be there on the second tuesday of the chinese new year

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baked Spaghetti

I had a blog post all written but decided against posting the heavy stuff until you know me a little bit better.

Today we are going to talk about tourism folks. Our family is going on vacation next week. Are we going to Disney World, you ask? Nope. We are going to explore our own backyard! Not literally, but close enough.

We had the good fortune to spend an entire year living in Maine. Maine, who advertises their status as "Vacationland" on their license plates. We truly had a year vacation out there when my husband had an opportunity to work at a hospital right on the coast of Maine.

We learned so many things in our year of "vacation" out in Maine. Some important, like when the power goes out so does the septic system and well. Some just interesting, like Maine and Massachusetts are the only states to celebrate Patriots Day. We made some wonderful, lifelong friends who had life experiences far different than anything 2 Midwesterners like us could have ever had, and we went to Dunkin' Donuts. A lot.

Some of the questions our New Englander friends would ask were "What's Iowa like? Is it all corn?" "Have you ever been to the Mall of America?" "How close can you get to Mt. Rushmore?" "Do people in WI eat a lot of cheese?" These were questions we chuckled about then recounted to our family back in the Midwest.

Meanwhile we spent every weekend exploring New England, we've been to some of the most glorious beaches on Earth. I have eaten so much lobster, in season, that I can't even bring myself to go to Red Lobster ever again. We went to New Hampshire's White Mountains, Acadia National Park. I have been to the place where the sun first hits the United States in the morning...or something like that. Wow.

When we moved back we realized how little we'd done right here at home. We hadn't gone to see Mt. Rushmore. Sure, we'd been to Iowa, but always raced to get out, and people in Wisconsin DO eat a lot of cheese. The Mall of America, well, it's just a mall.

So we vowed to change that. We decided we'd enjoy our own backyard and we'd missed our family so much back home that we've decided to take them with on some of our adventures. We're going to be tourists in the Midwest for awhile, and while I don't think we'll ever move away from Minnesota again, I do know that every time we leave home we are going to bring different attitudes along. We won't speed so fast to get through Iowa, but slow down and enjoy the view, even if it is corn.

So this week, I'll be scouring Mt. Rushmore Here We Come!

Any Midwest vacation idea? Send 'em my way.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hot dogs on the grill

I always used to wonder when the music I listened to would start to be played on the oldies stations. When does the Dave Matthews Band, and the anthems of my college years change from cool to old school?
Recently, we have become avid listeners of various Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus CD's, so much so I find myself rocking out and feeling cool while driving in my minivan singing and clapping to the Hannah Montana Hoedown Throwdown, being cheered on by my 7, 4, and 2 year olds. My 7 year old even said "You are so cool mom!" I actually know all the words to that song. That and most of the High School Musical tunes as well, I count those as some of my favorite songs. Sad, but true.
So what does that mean for my coolness ratio? When did I go from being a stylish, hot chick listening to the Counting Crows in my 2 door-stick shift to a soccer mom, listening to Hannah Montana in a Buick minivan? More importantly why didn't I notice the metamorphosis?
The real question here is when did my outsides stop matching up with my insides? I remember when I tried on my wedding dress (almost 10 years ago) at the store and looked in the mirror, feeling like a kid playing dress up. That night I shared this thought with my dad and he said "I still look in the mirror and am shocked to see a man with graying hair, when inside I feel like I'm 18!" (I paraphrased there a little).
There is an upside to the slippery slope of times passage though, because when I look at my husband I still see the man I married at 23; handsome, young and muscular. I hope for just minute he still sees me as I was before giving birth to 3 kids and gaining some weight along with a little gray hair.
It's amazing about aging though I guess, because now, I don't care so much how "cool" I look to others when I'm driving down the street music blaring, I care about the people in the car knowing that the chick dancing in the passenger seat is a person not afraid to be herself. Seeing the smiles and dancing, clapping bodies of my children in the back, and the laughter in my husbands eyes while I rock out to the High School Musical soundtrack let's me know I'm still the coolest gal in town.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I feel like chicken tonight

We are renters. Renters. Makes me feel like some sort of second-class unworthy sort. I feel the need to explain to everyone that we are renting, why we are renting and that we are not big losers that make poor financial decisions. I actually think our choosing to rent is a good financial decsion, except I still explain it as though I need to convince others, and myself that we are worthy. Worthy of what? Not a clue.
So why are we renting, not buying in this time of great housing prices and the "buyer's market" out there? Well in the interest of true transparency we were losers that made poor financial decisions at one point, sadly we were like many others out there who are a paycheck away from financial ruin and that are really scared about their futures. We are not those people anymore. We have owned 2 homes and done a pretty significant amount of work on both. When we sold our last house it was at the end of the housing boom and we lost our butts on that sale, but saved our marriage. We knew when we sold that house we needed a break from house projects and wanted to enjoy our family without the constant pressure of painting, landscaping, replacing, you name it. Someday I'll tell you about our last house...
So we decided to get our financial house in order and get rid of our student loan debt, old credit card debt, and not dump money into a house right now. We became avid fans of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, and are working so we can have not only financial peace now and in the future but have our money to save and give and share in the future.
I want to buy a house, today, but I realize that to buy a house today we wouldn't be buying the house we want, we would be buying a house to have a house, which is what I think got so many people in the foreclosure crisis our economy is in today. The house we can afford and the house I want are not the same house and I would be forced to compromise on a lot of things. So instead I am making the choice to wait, doing my best to silence the "Gotta Have It's" that have made so many problems for others with easy credit and crazy mortgages. My mom always says we are the "microwave generation" and no one can wait for anything. I don't think she realizes how widespread that is. So many people today have to have what it took their parents 30 years to save for, does anyone else see a problem with that?
Thus, I am a renter, and we are renting a lovely home that is a little small, but has a big yard and lots of character. We are saving a lot of money on rent, and our landlord isn't making out too badly either, we take care of this home as if it were our own. We will continue to rent until financially and emotionally our home is a blessing, not a burden.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meat Circles

Dinner is in the oven, the kitchen is clean, no one is fighting, I have gone through the backpacks, marked new activities on the calendar. Now I just need some energy to propel me through the next 2+ hours until bedtime.

I wrote my first blog post last night and then had a huge panic, I should delete this, I don't want to put myself out there for everyone to read, especially when I have stuff of such little importance to share. Then I decided, to heck with it. This is about me, not you.

Some of you know, some of you don't but we have a child with a disability. I have somehow rationalized in my head that my daughter doesn't really qualify under the disabled umbrella, because she isn't "that disabled." Really, professionals have told me that, school professionals. Granted they maybe said it so they don't have to fund my child who isn't "that disabled." My daughter, N (age 4) is hard of hearing, I still can't make myself categorize her as deaf, like so many of the people do. Her hearing loss is from her birth, which was very traumatic, I may write about it someday when I am either very drunk or deep in a pity party. Although I don't drink so just wait for a pity party day.

So my perfect daughter wears hearing aids. They are very cute, she wears them with style and they help. We do not sign with her, we have her in a special school for deaf and hard of hearing kids, Northern Voices is the name of it. This school has changed our world. Our family is better because this school exists. The primary focus of this school is oral education for hard of hearing/deaf kids. N also has begun attending the school districts offerings too, partly as a way to work with them to get funding for Northern Voices, and partly to help N transition into kindergarten in a world that isn't filled with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
That's all I am going to write for today, except I should explain the title of today's post shouldn't I? I feel like I need some sort of theme for them, so until I come up with a good theme I am just going to title my posts with the dinner menu for that night at our house. Meat Circles are actually turkey kielbasa (you know, ring bologna?) that's what my kids call it, that's what it is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Everything but the...

So I am starting out this blog journey at a really inopportune time. Literally. R (my husband, father of my children) is trying to read for his Master's work. M (my oldest daughter) is trying to read for her 15 minutes of homework. Meanwhile, children 2 and 3 are running around being VERY loud, even playing drums and cymbals, I kid you not. So I decided to sit down in the midst of it all and start a blog. Really, 5 minutes ago I did that. Now I am blogging. Blogging is a new verb these days, isn't it?
I wasn't prepared for the tough questions I would face when beginning what I thought was a pretty simple thing. Everyone blogs, it's so last year, right? First off I had to come up with a name...what am I going to call this journal written for all when I don't have a subject? Do I need a subject? If I am going to blog I most certainly don't want to limit myself right off the bat.
I thought for a moment maybe I should write about my area of expertise. I hit a problem right off, I don't really have any specific expertise.
So to make a long story short, I thought about what I was doing before I began this mighty blogging journey. Rinsing out the kitchen sink. Guess what's in there? Everything. I am certainly an expert at that. Not everything, rinsing the kitchen sink. So there.