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.