Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

To any of my blogging friends who have been wondering if I dropped off the face of the earth, well rest assured I am alive and well but I did drop off the face of the blogging world a few (six?) months ago. I haven't even logging in to blogger in all that time and despite how curious I've been about everyone and what everyone is writing about, something happened that just stopped me in my blogging tracks.

To everyone a very happy new year!  I hope that everyone can stop and breathe long enough every day to find the beauty in each and every day - even if it is hiding behind the gerbil wheel of regular life or the various tragedies that have a way of creating havoc with our peace and happiness.  I hope 2013 is full of changed attitudes and harmony - and that my hope for that isn't dimmed before the new year hardly can begin. 

I hope to be back in the coming days, catching up and sharing with everyone again.  I have missed you and am finding my way back. 


Sunday, September 30, 2012


When I was 29 years old, I decided to go to law school.  I decided I needed to challenge myself and stop waiting for "the one" to come along and get my own career and make a difference in my own life instead of waiting for someone else to create a difference for me.  I heard from almost every lawyer I talked to that I shouldn't do it - not because I wouldn't be able to but because it wouldn't make me happy.  I didn't expect it (the job) to make me happy - I have known for my entire life that I am unamenable to conflict.  What I expected was that it would change my life.

It did.

Yes, I learned all kinds of things about myself - including academic humility which was new, since school to that point had always come very easily to me - but the best gift I was given in law school were my four girlfriends.  If I am ever inclined to believe in predestination or fate taking a hand in directing my life, I would say that these women were the reason I went to law school.  What I know is that I recognized the amazing people around me in school and threw any pride I had out the window in roping them into my life, in whatever I way I could.

We graduated 13 years ago, and we five friends have had about 13 reunion vacations since then, four marriages, birthed eight children and two grandchildren, moved households a pile of times, changed jobs, dithered about career decisions, and laughed and cried more times than I can count.  These women have changed my life - and to give myself credit, let's word that differently:  we five women have changed each other's life.

We just spent five days on the Gulf of Mexico, with nothing more pressing than catching up on our life stories, eating good food, and relaxing with each other.  It was restorative, peaceful, hysterically funny, gorgeous, and best of all a chance to open our hearts to each other in person and share the burden we each carry.  You know how the Grinch's heart grows three sizes at the end of the story?  I felt like my lungs expanded and I could breath three times more fully by the time we headed home.

Thank you my friends.  You are in my heart every day.  No matter how much life might beat me dow at times, I can only believe that I am amazing person, since women like you find me to be worthy of your friendship and love.  I am beyond blessed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's been 22 days...

I just looked and it has been 22 days since my last post.  My angst over that makes it feel much longer, so I was little relieved it see it hadn't yet been a month, though I do feel like this post is sort of a confession (I'm Sarah and it's been 22 days since my last log-on...).  Mind you, I am not "should-ing" myself about writing every day or whatever, but I have been castigating myself over the not writing because I feel like I'm doing it (or not doing it, as it were) as a "so there!" or other oppositional reaction.  What is up with that?

When I first started my blog, it was because I had so much rambling around in my head I just needed to get it out.  I remember writing topic lists and just having item and idea one after the other.  It was so easy!  And I think as it got harder - and I started facing some of the personal decisions that come with blogging (yes, we all know what those are I'm sure!) - some part of my brain started with the "fine!  then I just won't do it!"  Then throw in a couple added life stressors and we have a 22 day strike.  And trust me, it felt like a strike.  I didn't read other people's blogs and I didn't even THINK about writing a post. 

"Get over your damn self!" is my new internal mantra.  A very wise friend said this to me a couple weeks ago - in the kindest and most indirect of ways - as I ranted on and on (again!) about work crap.  And it comes back to that awesome Shawshank Redemption quote "get busy living, or get busy dying".  If there are choices you opt not to choose (i.e. changing a job or whatever), then find the good in what you have and QUIT BITCHING ABOUT IT.  Focus on the good and your mood will very likely lift - mine has.  I have actually sailed through work the past couple weeks without any real whining at all and that is saying something! 

I am also the queen of whining when life gets hard.  I have had a remarkably easy life in so many ways.  In looking back, it feels to me like I've rarely if ever truly challenged myself to do anything that takes struggle or perseverence (except the marathon that is marriage and parenthood, of course).  As I am now coming out of my weird funk, I see that this blog writing stuff takes effort and perseverence - and doing it for the experience of doing it, not for any other purpose or for any other person. 

Whew, glad to have that out of my system - how many Hail Marys do I have to do?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Went to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green today.  Sweet movie that we all enjoyed a great deal.  But as a person who has had 4 miscarriages - - I will admit to you that I cried like a baby in the beginning of the movie, as the parents describe "their child" and put the descriptions in the box.  Oh amen!  I've so been there.  Despite my attempts to not engage in it, I went from positive pregnancy test to guessing at gender and thinking about names and calculating due date and maternity leave to high school graduation and thoughts of the future for each and every one of those pregnancies.  And then as soon as I had each of my miscarriages, I purged all those pertinent dates and thoughts from my brain.  It hasn't been that long, and I couldn't tell you a single one of my then-thwarted due dates or anything.  Internal defenses to certain events are an interesting thing.

On the way home from the movie, both my kids started crying about our dog that died a couple years ago.  How they miss her, wondering where she is buried (btw, if anyone has an explanation for I explain allowing a family pet to be cremated by the vet's office that might make sense to a 9 year old, I'm all ears), and how life isn't fair.  Oh ain't that the truth, children!  They had me crying too. 

A much different vibe than our usual movie trips, but really a lovely movie. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Feelings ... wo wo wo feeeelings ...

Anyone else remember that classic song "Feelings" by some guy?  No wonder I reject feelings - I was scarred for life by that song!

Anyway, it's been hard to come up with a blog topic lately - mostly because I've been way too scattered from being busy to think of much coherent, but also because the crap that floats through my brain is all on those topics I don't blog about.  I used to be able to say that I would be glad when the election is over, but I swear the political b.s. (lying, scheming, and making no effort to further community or national goals because we're too busy name calling) just goes on continually nowadays, but of course it is way worse in a presidential election year. 

Last night at my Al Anon meeting, there was a reading about the need to think before we speak - that airing things out unfiltered can cause untold damage.  True enough.  But what struck me was the flip side - that by thinking TOO MUCH before we speak, we (and by we I mean I) tend to deny our feelings and miss our opportunity to express them - which can cause untold damage to ourselves and our relationships.  I was raised not to have emotions, much less express them.  It hasn't been too hard to learn to express positive emotions but if something makes me feel a negative emotion, I have no ability to open up my mouth and talk about it. 

What is interesting to me is that I can sit in meetings and think - for instance in response to this reading - wow, I'm doing great because I don't vent at people and say hurtful things.  Yay me.  And then sometimes these other realizations happen and I think - crap ... I am one damaged piece of work.  But I did give myself a little pat for having this realization. 

The next reading was something about how the program allows a safe space for folks who have long stuff their emotions to feel those stuffed feelings - and it characterized it as those emotions boiling forward like hot lava pouring out.  Well to my Midwestern Lutheran Scandahoovian self, this stopped me in my tracks.  I'm good.  No need for hot lava here.  You can just keep your full range of emotional health, I'll just be here.  Holy crap, who thinks that the 'hot lava' experience is a motivator to work the program to get in touch with your inner emotions?  I am not miserable by any stretch, I'm mostly content even - I should also say that I'm not convinced that I have a hot lava pool in me anyway - but I am certainly not feeling anxious to move one step in that direction just in case. 

So feelings - I have them.  I feel them.  I can identify a whole spectrum of them in me.  I even know the script for talking about the negative ones (you know, the "when you do [whatever], I feel [whatever], and it would feel better to me if you would do [whatever] instead."  But I can't visualize how to make myself do that any more than I can visualize how to make myself do a back flip. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

another tick off my bucket list

Had the good fortune to see one of my favorite singer songwriters in concert tonight at one of my favorite places - the Minnesota Zoo uses their outdoor amphitheater for Music in the Zoo in the summertime and my sister and I went to see Mary Chapin Carpenter.  She has long been a favorite, since the first time I ever heard her music, and she has long been on my list - for whatever reason - of celebrities I'd like to have a beer with.  Well no beer tonight, but I am very happy to like her just as much after the concert - she seemed nice and friendly and grateful and funny.

Got me thinking about other groups I've seen in concert ... I have a pretty limited live music experience.  My first concert was Styx during their Kilroy was Here tour.  I was a senior in high school.  Then I saw the Nylons and Billy Joel in my early 20s.  When I was in Seattle, I saw some groups I don't recall the names of, but I did see one concert by The Proclaimers (awesome!) and I saw Pearl Jam at the Gorge in George, with Neil Young (Eddie Vedder was so drunk it was kind of disappointing).  I saw Harry Connick Jr (he is a wild performer and so fun - and adorable) during law school and I also won tickets to some concert with three pop/rock groups who had big songs around then but I can't for the life of me remember who those groups were...and I don't think I've seen anyone since then (1999).

So maybe having a beer with Mary Chapin was a bit of a stretch for my bucket list, so I'll consider it satisfied with tonight and our front row seats.  Worth every penny!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Any other Princess Bride fans out there? "Mawwaige ... mawwaige is wha' bwings uff togevah, today."  Love that movie.  Love to mimic that marriage ceremony.  Probably be good if no-one ever asked me to get my internet credentials to solemnize their marriage - between my love of bad imitations and my track record with weddings (Sean and I were married by a judge in a pumpkin suit), I'd probably be a risky bet.

Two different people made me think about marriage this week.  Lots of times I take it for granted - being married - and one of my friends commented this week that she had long thought if she just got divorced, then her live would be stress free, and then she realized all the new stresses that would come from being divorced in her current stage of life.  And I thought to myself how easy it is, when you are annoyed with your job or your work or your house or whatever, to just think of that green grass on the other side of the offending fence.  It's deceptive sometimes. 

And then I woke up this morning to several Facebook posts from another friend, announcing her impending move out of the house and divorce, and already scouting for a replacement wife for her husband so he can be happy since she can't seem to make him happy.  Shocking way to start my day.  Those friends are from long ago and I've only seen them once in the past 10+ years, but I was there when the relationship began and was one of two witnesses to their wedding, and it made me sad to think that this is the end after 18 or so years.  Later today was informed that perhaps the end is not as near as it appeared last night.  Perhaps after a night to sleep on it, that green grass didn't appear quite so green, eh?

I was married once before, to my first boyfriend.  We got married when we were 23, after dating for 2 years.  On the day of our wedding, he was just an ass to me that I actually considered calling it off.  I realized then that this was not a marriage that would last and I remember very coldly thinking that I would marry him, have my children, and then dump him - and in that way, I would get my kids and get to keep his family.  I was not "in love" on my wedding day.  We should have broken up.  My parents weren't crazy about him, so they would not have presented any arguments against calling off the wedding, but I didn't tell anyone what was going on in my head.  Thank goodness no children were conceived in that marriage!  I was so bloody naive to think that divorce would have been any kind of solution, post-children.  Marriage ended after 2.5 years when we separated, filled out DIY divorce papers one night over supper at Perkins, and the divorce was final just a month shy of our third anniversary.  One of the best things I ever did - ending that fiasco of a marriage.

When Sean and I met, it was a whirlwind.  I didn't expect to even like him, when our mutual friend fixed us up, and the fact that we even had a 2nd date is a testament to Sean's efforts.  But about a month in, I knew it was a good thing.  The biological clock business started in my head (I was 36). And three months after our blind date, we picked a wedding date in the fall, while out walking the dog.  He hadn't even proposed yet!  I told him, long before he proposed, that I wasn't getting divorced again, and if we got married, it was forever for me.  That still holds true, as we wrap up our first decade of marriage, but I am the first to admit that marriage is hard and certainly not the romantic b.s. that pop culture would have us believe. 

I think divorce has it's place, just as I think there are lots of marriages that never should have happened, but it still makes me sad when good solid people struggle in the trenches of their relationship.  There is no stock answer either - what works for one person, doesn't always work for another.  The reality is that there is green grass, and nasty thorny weeds, and everything in between, on both sides of the fence.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Post #200

And here we are at Post #200 on this little blog o mine. I've been blogging since December 2011 and I think it's largely been a good thing. I toy with whether I should be courting followers, whether I should be trying to ramp up my writing to perhaps work toward a book of some kind, whether I should bare my soul and start writing about everything that is on my mind (see yesterday's post about the things I don't write a about). And then I just keep on with my usual rambling and am grateful for my 26 followers and their comments. I don't have a plan for my blog, other than to keep writing it. I can imagine it may morph over time into something else, but I'm as curious as anyone about what that might be. In the short term, I think I have some gaps in my life story to fill in - I need to go back and review what I've written about so far and see what's missing. I'm writing this on the new keyboard that Sean bought for my iPad. Oddly, it allows me to type off the screen so there are 2 words in each line that I can't see. Otherwise this little keyboard works just fine and is way better for blog writing than the touch screen. Wonder what will happen to those invisible words when I hit "publish"... And that's it for the 200th post. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

No wonder

One of my favorite bloggers, Elan Morgan at schmutzie dot com, posted 25 Things I'm Afraid to Write About here.  Boy did that get me thinking over the past few days.  You know that lack of writing I've been doing (or not doing?), it is directly related to my self-censoring for mostly this very same reason.

Another blog I read had a post some time ago about how she isn't as troubled as she might sound at times, because she uses her blog to vent and doesn't write about the other, perhaps mundane but certainly more stable/pleasant, parts of her life.  That also got me thinking. 

So here we are:

Things I Don't Write About Because This Is Not A Private Journal:

1.  My work
2.  My friends and the negative parts of my relationships with them
3.  My family and the negative parts of my relationships with them
4.  Personal information about my friends and family
5.  Sex
6.  Politics and/or social issues and the politics around them

Well hell - what does that leave me really?  When my head is full of thoughts on those topics, no freakin' wonder I find no words flying out into blog posts. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Watch out world, I'm on an iPad now!

Test run of posting from my new ipad. Some months ago Sean bought an ipad and when I learned from the kids of this, I was told he bought it for me. Never tried it much but the kids adored it. Then a few weekends ago I thought I'd bring it along on a trip - and managed to not only crack the crystal but also smashed in the corner. Felt so stupid. So when Sean went to have it fixed, he got a replacement for the original iPad and got me one just for me! With freakin steel armor. My laptop is full of bugs and crashes routinely, so he's hoping I can transition from a pc to an Apple and we can ditch the laptop ... We shall see. But change is hard and transitions are not my forte particularly when PMS is upon me, so that's all I'm going to say about that!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Careful what you wish for...

For a while now I've been struggling with work burn-out and I've truly varied between extreme frustration and extreme boredom, with occasional periods of peace along the way.  And it has occurred to me that I should be careful or someone would find something to keep me busy. 

About a month ago, one of my co-workers left for greener pastures.  Guess where his caseload ended up?  And now, as of last week, I am significantly busier than I have been in years.  Granted, the new stuff is stuff that I have no interest in, but I can't say I'm sorry to have it.  I thought it would be a nice diversion for a couple months, only to learn that the powers that be (county board, not my department head) put the request to fill the position on hold pending initial budget/levee stuff in September.  So likely this past week will be my reality until sometime in October or November. 

I'm annoyed with "the system" on principle I guess, though not particularly annoyed with the daily reality.  What concerns me more is that I totally think I will absorb the second caseload with little problem, which will not bode well for convincing the powers that be that we need another person.  So do I step it up and do what needs to be done, like the efficient worker-bee I am, or do I whine and pretend to be overwhelmed and swamped, so that we can fill the position?  That is more of a dilemma for me than actually managing the double workload, since it triggers two of my most strongly-held habits:  truthfulness and work pride.  What in the world will come of this?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

That's some high water!

Hey, look at me, embedding a photo into a blog post!  That's a first!

We were hanging around St. Cloud, MN yesterday and happened to go down to the dam, where the Mighty Mississippi is still showing the effects of all the flooding in northern Minnesota over the past three weeks.  The Mississippi is still really high in Brainerd and the neighboring counties, including where I work, were declared a federal disaster last week, so it's apparent that flooding was significant this year.  It was interesting to see how high and wild the water was still running here, many miles downriver.

It was a gorgeous day.  I went to college for two years right across the river from where we were, and yet had never been to the dam, or anywhere on the south side of the bridge.  We walked to the north side of the bridge and through the Munsinger gardens and enjoyed some beautiful flowers and really friendly ducks.  Wish we'd had some bread for them. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I don't cook...

I really don't cook.  I am not a foodie by any definition.  I can cook - I even made a pork tenderloin once using a recipe of Giada's from Food Network and it turned out well - but I am so not interested in cooking (except when certain people visit me and the kitchen then becomes my hideout and a method of avoiding contact, without being obvious - and thus the pork tenderloin event).  As a general rule, my favorite food is anything prepared by someone else.  What is really weird is that my favorite TV channel is Food Network.  I'll watch almost anything on Food Network, except those competitions where people yell at each other - I am not a fan of yelling, which is why I watch so few family-based sitcoms.  Have you ever paid attention to how often people are yelling and talking sharply to each other on sitcoms?  I hate it!  But I digress...

I was just watching Iron Chef America tonight and realized that almost all of what I know about food I learned from Food Network - I know about uni (sea urchin roe) and langosteins (some shrimp-like kind of critter) and creme freche (heavy cream with a yogurt type consistency I think).  One of my dreams in life is to be a judge on Iron Chef one day.  I'd be a horrible judge since I really have no kind of discerning palate and when they say that something is "unctuous" as if that is a good thing (it makes me think of something slimy) but I'd love to try it just as the "hey let's have some regular joe on to judge whether it's good or not good, rather than all this fancy-word judging stuff!" 

I admire the folks I see on Chopped and Next Food Network Star and the various Iron Chef incarnations ... how you can take random ingredients and make them into something edible is magic as far as I'm concerned.  I have friends who play Chopped at home - their spouse or kids pick out 3-4 random things from the cupboard and make them try to cook with them.  Wow.  So not happening here.

Random thoughts on a Saturday

Since I can't seem to formulate a post topic, I decided to engage in one of the ever-popular "random thoughts" posts instead:

I have reached the end of my rope with my 7 year old yelling at me every ever-lovin minute of the day.  I think much of her behavior is related to autism spectrum issues - her brain does not work and process interpersonal interactions like the rest of us, and then her frustration flares when we don't see eye to eye.  Her ASD effects are entirely on the social side of things and, genetically, she comes by the traits of smarts and obstinance naturally.  As a result of everything that she is, Brooke hates being told "no", she hates being redirected, she hates being interrupted, and she hates being told what to do.  I doubt we go more than five minutes in each other's presence without her yelling at me and starting a tantrum.  It is hard hard work to keep my tone soft, to keep my face neutral, and not to engage in the battle.  All the while, trying to teach her what she might say instead (i.e. asking for help instead of throwing a tantrum when she can't find something).  I'm exhausted. 

I can tell that I'm at the end of my rope with my life as a mother and a wife when I dream about my Toyota - and I had that dream about a week ago.  For some reason, in my dreams, that Toyota symbolizes freedom and indepedence to me.  It was purchased new shortly after I married my first husband - he picked the red one over my objection.  It was a five speed 1989 Celica and I always loved it (except for the color).  A couple years later, I got that car, which was paid off, in our divorce - I pointed it west and drove to Seattle.  It was such a "break for freedom" for me, and that car was part of it.  So, throughout my Seattle years, the Toyota and I did what we wanted and went where we wanted.  I loved that car.  It brought me back to Minnesota, saw me through law school, and my fisrt house, and my white boxer puppy came home in the Toyota.  It was still with me when I met my husband.  It was still with me when I was pregnant with Jordan and I had my first thoughts that perhaps it was time to get a new vehicle (oh my hips hurt!) ... and then, when I was about six months pregnant, someone crushed the back corner in an icy parking lot and it was totalled.  It was 13-14 years old by that time, after all.  I cried when I left it parked on the street, as I headed off to work, knowing the insurance company would pick it up before I got home that night.  And when my life now overwhelms me, I dream about that car. 

Interestingly enough, the dreams go something like this - I get the car back and I am so happy!  I leap in and start driving down the road just smiling and so so happy.  But soon I have some struggles - the gear shift might be sticky, or I realize sitting so low I can't see as well as I do in my minivan, or the steering doesn't handle so well.  So my happiness is tempered.  After my dream recently I realized what my dream is telling me is that while I miss and remember fondly those days of freedom, those sunshine days had their issues too.  Oddly enough, that dream did help me find the strength to live through another day with my daughter, and my life full of obligations.  Thanks to my Toyota.  I loved that car.

Friday, June 29, 2012

This year...

About a year ago I started my recovery journey.  Sean was in treatment and I headed off, over the 4th of July weekend, for four days of Family Group - which turned out to be, for me, basically Al Anon boot camp.  I met some wonderful people and wonder frequently about many of them and what their year has been like.  We were taught to always say our closing prayer while standing with our left foot forward in honor of all those "left behind" and still suffering in their disease.  I did that tonight at the close of my weekly meeting, as I usually do, and remembered. 

This year, we are just ending our "girls week", at home alone while Sean enjoys his annual fishing trip in Canada.  It's been a good week - not too remarkable - and we are so looking forward to his arrival back home tomorrow night.  I am reminded that for all the things I'd like to do better in our relationship, his is still the only lap I have ever thrown myself, when I just need to be held; and his is still the embrace I know will always be there for me; and he is the one person I always know will have my back.  I miss him and am so glad that he and I are walking our recovery path together.

I am also very grateful for the "we" program that is Al Anon for me.  I often tell myself that I don't fit in, or that others don't understand me, and I recognize it for the defense mechanism that it is.  And I know that in all the ways that matter, I am part of the larger community that is Al Anon - and the fact that my story is different in some ways is part of the Higher Power of the program actually adds to the program.  We are all different and yet we are all so much the same. 

It's been a good year and there is another good year ahead. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My weekend was marvelous!

I had such a great weekend.  It is always a good thing when I get to cut out early on a Friday, and I did that last Friday - leaving at noon to start my weekend.  Sean was leaving for his annual fishing trip in Canada, so he was excited, and the girls and I were heading back to my hometown area for the weekend. 

To start things off this social weekend, we stopped at Subway to pick up sandwiches for supper later at the lake.  My niece's friend was working and the only patron in the store was my former basketball coach.  I laughed and had a good time chatting with both of them.

That night, we went out to the lake cabin where my friends were staying - that wonderful family from the anniversary party last weekend.  My girls got to play in the lake with the other kids tearing around, and I got to chat with my high school friend who now lives in Sweden.  It was lovely and a beautiful night at the lake.  There weren't even mosquitoes to speak of, until the sun went down.  It was awesome. 

Saturday morning, we were driving to my mother's hometown to meet a bunch of my family at the cemetery, where we were meeting to bury my uncle's ashes.  He died in Memphis around Christmas, and his sons came up from Tennessee to inter him with my grandparents.  But before we left, I went to the grocery store to pick up soda and ice and ran into a good guy friend and his two boys - hadn't seen him in several years, so that was a surprise treat. 

My sister and I car pooled to Pipestone for the burial.  It was a gorgeous day and a happy occasion to see everyone, while at the same time a poignant goodbye to my uncle.  We had a picnic afterwards, which was interesting, since this group of about 15 adults and 15 kids is roughly 50% alpha dogs when it comes to planning and organizing.  Picture a herd of sheep with a half dozen sheepdogs, all with a different idea of where those sheep should be, and the other half dozen sheepdogs muttering their own opinions but fighting their own urge to herd the sheep.  Somehow, all the sheep were fed and no stragglers were lost.

Afterwards we took the kids to the Pipestone National Monument.  If you ever have a few hours in southwestern Minnesota, it is really something to see.  You think it's all just random prairie and then there are these gorgeous cliffs and quarries just hidden out there, with a creek and waterfall too.  Gorgeous!

And then back to the hometown area where the remaining cousins (and my mom and uncle) gathered at a local establishment on Green Lake for supper and more smart talk.  It was a great location (thanks, it was this sheepdog's suggestion) and about eight of us hung out until after dark, catching up and hopefully starting planning discussions for another family reunion. 

I was laughing by Saturday night, wondering who else I'd see out of the blue.  Well, as it turned out, it was one of my daughters' very first daycare teachers!  I saw this young lady out on the patio at the restaurant and thought she looked familiar.  Asked my sister if she knew her, which would rule in or rule out anyone from our hometown, and she did not.  Then the light bulb went off and I walked up and asked her if I knew her from Loving Arms daycare - and I was right!  The bummer was that my cousin's husband had just taken all our kids back to the hotel to swim, but happily enough, they had just come outside to say goodbye to everyone and she had seen them and recognized them, though she didn't think I'd remember her, so she didn't say anything.  Funny enough, my husband and I had just been talking about this daycare teacher (Stacy) and her sister who also was a teacher there, only about two weeks ago, and were trying to remember Stacy's name.  I was tickled to have talked to her.

It was a lovely weekend of catching up and seeing old friends and extended family.  I left with a smile on my face and a great feeling of reconnection. 

Monday, June 25, 2012


I have wallowed in my share of angst over the years - as evidenced in this blog and to anyone who has ever known me for more than 20 minutes.  And then, when I realize I'm wallowing again, I then have the angst of trying to accept the earlier angst versus feeling guilty for it.  Or, on really special occasions, I morph right into the "but no-one understands me!" drama that can last for eons.

As I was tossing around ideas just now, since I haven't written a post in several days, I re-visited a couple others I'd pondering over the past several days - I was gone again last weekend so spent time on the weekend planning future posts in my head, you know how that goes!  I'd had this whole dramatic series planned in my head, analyzing the great TEDx talk that Elan Morgan gave about self-doubt and using it to move yourself forward (and it's a great great video - go to her blog and check it out, you will LOVE it) ... but then I realized that much of my thoughts her talk ended up being of the "but no-one understands me!" type and I rolled my eyes and realized what a drama queen I was being.  Which then squelched all possible post-writing out of my head initially.

Until I thought of another drama queen in my life - my 9 year old daughter.  Oh my Lord, can that girl flip herself out about anything.  Huge crocodile tears over a thunderstorm watch on TV, or panic attacks over the possibility of shark attack (keep in mind we live in Minnesota, where sharks are rare), or the latest tragedy - the mosquito swarms we've had so far this year that, I grant you, are the worst in my memory, but the girl seems to think they are going to carry her off.  We frequently discuss the uselessness of unnecessary drama and it hit me tonight that I am doing the exact same thing!  There is so much b.s. spiraling my brain - I know it is largely just there to keep me stuck and not moving forward (internal messages about what I can't do or shouldn't do or shouldn't have to do, you know the kind). 

So next time I'm all in my pity party world - I'm going to use the same words I use with my daughter to knock some sense into myself.  What are the odds of someone understanding you if you don't open up your mouth and actually share what's going on inside you?  About the same odds of a shark attack in Minnesota, dumbass. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's raining, it's pouring...

and yes, the old man is snoring ... and I can't sleep.  Storms again tonight - more dumping rain on our water logged and mosquito swarmed land.  My nine year old was only awake twice, anxiety over the thunder and lightning.  The seven year old was stressing last evening about the flash flood watch notices on the TV, asking when the flood was coming. 

Hubs came to bed last night, telling me that we had a water leak - water dripping out of the kitchen light fixture.  I must have been really tired, because I fell asleep anyway, but I woke up about 2 a.m. pondering that water leak, which led to pondering the holes in our siding which already cause me anxiety about the potential for pest infestation (squirrels, bats, bees, and who knows what else), and now I can worry about moisture and mold and leaks and collapsing ceilings.

So I finally got up at 3 a.m.  Wiped up more puddles on the floor in the kitchen, emptied the bucket, and admired the water stains on the kitchen ceiling.  Sigh. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

My weekend

I had a really marvelous weekend.  It was nothing special, but did include some time with my family, my godfather/uncle, and seeing familiar faces both at our former church and at a 50th anniversary party.  My husband looks at me a little funny, and my grumpy-old-man dad can't even fathom how I can have enjoyed myself as much as I did.

But the thing that is sticking with me is the phenomenon of people who are just magnetic and can make anyone feel like part of the family - you know those people?  It is a magical thing when you meet someone and you just know that you and everyone else would just do anything to remain in their inner circle.  The couple having the 50th anniversary party are like that, only better.  I've met some of those magnetic people before and have had to learn to accept they are sort of that "friends for a season" type of friend, and they move on in life away from me.  But this family, who have been family friends of my parents and us for about 30 years, is better because once you are "part of the family", you are always part of the family.  Warmly received whenever you can be together.  They have five children and I was particular friends with the three older daughters who were all in school and sports with me (the other two were a bit younger).  This family had virtually nothing material, and yet if I (and probably any number of other kids in our small town) could have moved into their house and just been adopted into one of them, I'd have done it in a heartbeat.  They (the parents) are the kindest, warmest, openest people I've ever met and their kids have grown into so much the same kind of people.  What a wonderful afternoon, to be spent catching up with my friends, and hearing stories and seeing pictures of Marlyn and Ildiko's 50+ years together, and talking to so many familiar faces. 

I asked Sean on the way home what it is about people that make them so ... whatever it is ... and he agreed he knew what I meant about this family and he could only say that some people just have "it".  I would love to have a home where friends and family know they can come and where they will be warmly welcomed and valued and enjoyed, and that the concept of "just pull up a chair" is perfectly acceptable.  These folks live on a corner in my hometown, with a big yard and garden, and if you see their lights are on, or people are out in the yard, you know you are always welcome to join them no matter what is going on.  And there is always a warm teapot ...

So I come away from my weekend with a renewed sense of happiness, having renewed my acquaintances and friendships, and maybe create a goal for myself to do what I can do to make myself more of that kind of person.  I have a warm heart, extra chairs, and I my Keurig can double for a warm teapot, now to figure out what I can do about the stuff in between! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

We're away for the weekend, so this post is coming to you from the Country Inn & Suites in my parents' hometown.  I went to high school nearby and lived in this town for six or seven years before we moved to our current home, so visiting here does feeling like being "back home" and it's nice to hang for the weekend.  It is especially nice to have reached a point where I can feel no guilt about booking a hotel - give us some space (and a pool!) and give my parents some space. 

A few months I wrote a post about my dad (here) and then last week I saw a writing suggestion to write something about what you learned from your dad.  Well, let me just say that my dad was full of rules and slogans growing up - all the musts and shoulds you can imagine.  And while I have been a mouthy and questioning person since birth, I think I managed to quell much of it for years.  But long about my 30s, I really got over all that "should" stuff.  It is difficult to guilt me into much of anything now.  Oh I still do a lot of the same stuff, but I do it because I want to, because I want to be part of this bigger thing called family and hometown and community - I don't do it because anyone else will look at me funny if I don't.

As for my dad, in my 30s I moved to the town where they live and saw my folks a lot.  We went to the same church and sang in the same church choir.  And my dad was totally naughty and disrespectful at choir rehearsal - talking and not paying attention.  If I had done that in my childhood and been caught by my dad (and I was a few times), I would have been dragged out by my ear and lectured for what felt like days.  And so, being the good oppositional child I was raised to be, I would turn around at choir rehearsal and hiss at him "show some respect!" and when he would complain about this or that at church I would shrug and say "you get out of it what you put into it"...and he would sputter and glare at me, but what could he say since those were his own words coming back to haunt him!  Good fun, particularly since I seem to have inherited all my dad's crotchety genes! 

But the Number One Life Lesson I learned from my dad is what I mentioned in the earlier post - when I had my car accident in 1985 and totalled his car:  who gives a goddamn about the car, what is important is whether my loved one is OK.  I joke sometimes that the only real lessons that get through to me are the ones delivered with a 2x4 like a car accident - but let's talk about a clear lesson about priorities in life.  If your kids and loved ones are OK, then life is good.  The rest will sort itself out. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I am grateful every day that you is still here to hug and harass and mutter about. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

He baked a cake!

I came home from work yesterday and found that my husband had baked a cake!  He got his one year medallion at his home meeting last night and baked a cake to take along.  Just two weeks ago, the girls wanted to make a pan of some rice krispie bar type treat and he gamely gave it a go.  I asked him if he had ever made anything like that before - nope.  So I asked him about the cake - ever done that before?  Nope.  I think he was a little proud of himself!  In the past, he'd just buy treats at the grocery store ... I have to wonder what has come over him.  He just shrugged when I asked.  It makes me smile, whatever it is. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's a Gift

This summer, my husband is not working.  At least he is not employed outside the home.  He hasn't been working for a year, as of yesterday.  I think we sort of coasted through the school year - with both kids gone for eight hours a day and many evening activities.  Summer hung out there like a big "oh my hannah, what are we going to do with that?"

I know that it has only been a week, but it is a gift.  What a great experience for Sean and for the girls - to have the ability for the first time to send the kids to community ed classes or summer school, and to look forward to afternoons with various activities!  I tried to help out with some organization - for instance, on the weekend we plan out lunches for the week and make sure we have the needed items on hand, so it is easy (and so that fast food doesn't seem any "easier").  We also have a chore list and the girls were really good about getting things done, and even learning to do new things like their laundry or loading the dishwasher.  We even made a list of "exercise" activities they should try to do every week, and we have a list of possible afternoon activities like the library or the beach or the park or local county museums for those days when they need to get out of the house.  Everyone has really had a great reaction to using all these ideas to live through the "no screens before 4 p.m." rule.  They even maintain the no screens rule on the weekends and we're all learning what other things one can do when not staring at the television or a computer screen! 

Today, Sean posted on Facebook that he covered the kids with bug spray (the mosquitoes are just thick and vicious right now) and gave them a hose - they are making mud in the front yard.  Good for them all!   Yesterday, they were on the trampoline with a sprinkler on under it - they came in covered with water, dead mosquitoes, sweat and schmuck from the trees and leaves and grass - and they ball out there for well over an hour.  Summer vacation should include plenty of time to get muddy, shouldn't it? 

This may be the only summer in their lives when these girls have the chance to just screw around at home, between various activities - Sean will be back to work by the end of the year I'm sure - and hope that he and the kids both look back fondly on this as a grand adventure! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

My heart is smiling

My kids - ages 9 and 7.5 - have never had any interest in the telephone.  They rarely talk on the phone, even when we try to get them to talk to grandparents, etc., they almost never call anyone, and never ever do they try to answer the phone.  Today I had a voice mail from my elder daughter at work (a first!) and when I called back she answered ... all to tell me that the little white things we saw on the milkweek plants several days ago, and thought might be eggs, were eggs and now we have a few more monarch caterpillars in our container!  AAAAAANNNNDDD, in her excited words "one of the caterpillars has gotten so fat, I thought it was a .... a .... well I don't know what I thought it was but it is really really fat!"  That call simply made my day. 

Jordan and I are pretty proud of ourselves because I read something about finding monarch eggs and then nurturing the caterpillars, and that night we went looking at milkweed plants and found leaves with the aforementioned "little white things" and also found two plants with the teeniest little striped monarch caterpillars I ever saw.  So we made a little home for them and are waiting to see if we get chrysalises and ultimately monarch butterflies too! 

One year ago...

It was a Friday - June 10, 2012 about 4:20 p.m. to be exact - when my secretary came back to my office with a note (I think I was on the phone) from some person, saying he needed me to call him back emergently.  No mention of why or about whom... I kept on with my other business and ten minutes later she was back again, same person on the line, now sounding panicky.  So I took the call.

He informed me that was a counselor of some kind and he had my husband in his office as an employee crisis client, and Sean had disclosed that he had relapsed and was in need of detox.  This poor counselor - I don't think he knew squat about addiction and just kept telling me Sean needed to go to detox.  I was aware that our local detox unit had recently closed and the counselor's plan for Sean to "go to detox" would mean getting him into a van in the next 15 minutes for the unit in the Twin Cities, which Sean was unwilling to do.  The counselor's other solution was that I come and get him and deal with it.  He very much wanted me to let him off the hook of figuring out the solution to the problem at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. 

Since I work 40 minutes away and their office was supposed to close at 4:30, his next suggestion was that Sean drive home and meet me there to "figure it out".  That suggestion met with my informing him that he would be aiding and abetting a DUI (which is against the law in Minnesota) by letting my stoned husband get behind the wheel.  And I couldn't for the life of me understand why this counselor just wanted to have us figure it out and wasn't making any calls himself (beyond the call to detox).  This was not a problem-solving situation for him, I guess, it was a "get this guy out of my office so I can go home" situation.

And thus kicked off a pretty ... shall we call it "busy" ... summer for me.  My 40 minute drive home that afternoon included a fair amount of cursing on my part, and phone calls with Sean and my sister and my parents.  Picked up Sean, picked up the kids, packed some emergency bags, met my sister to let her take my kids, and headed off for somewhere with Sean.  Once the kids were handled, my head cleared enough for me to realize that a traditional detox unit wasn't going to work for Sean (opiate withdrawal is nothing to mess with and can be life-threatening), so instead we went to the ER.  Thankfully the folks there were helpful and there was no question that he was going to be admitted, and by midnight or so, he was checked in.  I was so angry that I don't think I even talked to Sean for most of the evening, but at the same time I really wanted him to be safe.  And there is humor to be found, particularly when your brain is completely overwhelmed, in the ridiculous things people say.  One example of that is ER doctors, who you'd think would be kind of used to the crazy stuff people do and the unbelieveable amounts of crap people ingest when they are in the grip of addiction.  The doctors would ask Sean how much he was taking a day, or how much he'd had that day, and when he answered they would try to argue with him that he was exaggerating or miscalculating the dosage ... to which I'd usually interject helpfully "he's a pharmacist, trust him!"

It was an ugly weekend for Sean.  In a way, I was glad to see him so sick - I'm sure there were some thoughts of "serves you right" but also it makes me feel like it would dissuade anyone from relapsing ever again.  The following Tuesday, I drove Sean to Hazelden, where he remained for 90 days.  He missed the entire summer, he missed my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party and my friend's wedding, he missed Brooke's birthday and the kids' first day of school.  Every Sunday but one, for three months, the girls and I made the eight hour round trip to see him, spending 3-4 hours visiting.  It was a long summer. 

And how here we are a year later.  I would have to say we've come a long way since that Friday afternoon a year ago.  Sean is still clean and starting to even take on a somewhat positive outlook on life.  I am still feeling the relief I was given, first at Family Group and later through Al Anon and just recovery as a whole.  As I have been putting this post together, I'm finding a list of things I've learned that might begin to sum it up...
  • It is OK to not have it all figured out right now.  It is OK to work on the issues today presents and leave the worry about tomorrow for tomorrow.  Didn't Scarlett O'Hara say something like that in Gone With the Wind?
  • It is OK to leave him be and let him figure it out.  This is still somewhat of a tricky one for me, since so much of what one person does in a family affects the rest of the family ... but overall, we each need to follow our own path, in our own time, and while I can try to be supportive and "there", I can't walk him down his path.
  • I can do it alone if I have to.  That sounds a bit cold and callous, but 90 days of single parenthood taught me that I can do it, and more or less do it well, even by myself.  I'm not choosing that for my family and am glad to not have to do it alone, but I give myself a lot of credit for it.
  • Addiction is everywhere and touches everyone.  And the more open you are about your experience, the more you find support and find that you can give support to others even just by acknowledging it.
  • Recovery has opened my eyes to my own need to reach and grow ... far beyond dealing with the effects of addiction in my life.  And it has also freed me in large part from my guilt over not doing it all right now.  "Progress, not perfection" is a pretty good slogan for summing that up.  I am trying hard to move forward in life, every day, so that I become more and more of the person I feel inside me.
  • I realize how much internal work, really positive, healthy steps forward, I've taken over the years, in terms of accepting myself and my past, and in terms of accepting others.  Oh I'm not perfect by a long shot, but I really admire my own ability to reflect and change myself over the years.  I am so pleased with who I am - even as I move forward into what I believe is an even better me.
  • I still have a long way to go in dealing with some of my character flaws.  I have some pretty incredible road blocks when it comes to certain forms of communication and certain relationships.  And as I identify these character flaws (Step 4 for you recovery folk) and think about being "entirely ready" to have my Higher Power remove them (Step 6 - right?  I don't have my book in front of me), I realize that "entirely ready" means "entirely ready" - as in, actually moving my feet to walking the path toward resolving those flaws.  In recent weeks, that path has shown itself to me, laid out in a nice little yellow brick road in front of me, and I know it goes to good places.  And yet my feet remain solidly in the courtyard of Munchkin Land, unwilling to put my toe on that first piece of the road.  It's all about my sense of control, baby.  I have to be willing to give it UP and step on that road ... and yet, as I said before, I have learned that when I am ready, I will.  And I'm taking deep breaths and accepting that I can't beat myself up about not being ready when I don't even really know what is holding me back.  Relax and let it ride ... and someday soon, I think, my feet will start moving and away I'll go.
It's been a good year.  And that call back on June 10, 2011, while it made me sad and angry and frustrated and hurt, also freed both Sean and me from a pretty serious bind we were in,  And thankfully that call came when Sean was safe and hadn't hurt anyone or himself, before something much worse happened.  His relapse, as rough as it was, allowed us an opportunity to become better people - for our own selves, for our kids, and for each other.  I'm proud of both of us for the work we put in over the past year.  I am optimistic for the future.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Once I was free
But I longed to be bound
By children
By a husband
By a "job that matters"

And my wish came true,
I have the children
I have the husband
I have a "job that matters"

Beyond that,
I have family and community
I have personal satisfaction
I have security
I have respect

But I'm still longing
And something is missing
How can you go looking
when you don't know what
   you're looking for?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where are my superhero powers when I need them? And other random thoughts.

I don't like to blog about my work, but suffice it to say that I am feeling like a Regular Joe, thrown into a job for Superman lately.  I am not without some skills but the things I'm facing seem to require superpowers and I'm feeling extremely inadequate trying to make do.  It's hard and it's draining and I find myself wishing desperately for something to give.

 On a happier note, the "no screens from 8-4" rule has been upheld for 2 days so far.  I truly think, if we stick to our guns (and by "we", I mean Sean, since he's the one at home with the kids), the habit will be formed and everyone will be happier.  I am particularly thrilled that Sean has also followed the rule and the family room TV remains off as well.  I am very encouraged with the summer vacation routine so far.

I am not really up to speed on social networking.  I do have Facebook - for personal contacts, but no link to my blog there - and have both a Twitter account and a LinkedIn account.  I rarely post anything on Twitter, though I am amused by following certain celebs and what they write about and do follow a few bloggers too, and I never do anything with LinkedIn.  Does anyone know what LinkedIn is even for?  As best I can tell, other than listing your name and basic bio information, anything else costs money.  Why in the world would anyone pay for LinkedIn?

I spent a lot of time thinking about folks with struggles on my walk with the dog this morning.  I'm sure I don't even remember everyone I've read about in the last couple weeks that has some new stuff going on in their life, but I used my 20 minutes to send up some thoughts and caring to them as I walked.  And I came away with my usual reactions - appreciating just how lucky I am. 

And now it's time to put on my Superman suit and head to work, to beat my head against a wall for what I hope is a short, default hearing.  Lucky for me today, once it is over, I get to leave for the day since Sean has some appointments out of town. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I laughed out loud...

After adopting him as a stray about a year and a half ago, our half-witted cat Harry has been bolting for any open door he sees for a couple months now.  This is new behavior for him this year.  I am fairly certain that Harry couldn't find his way to the front yard from the backyard - he's that dumb.  But since he is declawed and really clueless, I do chase him down and plop him back in the house instead of just letting him do his thing and hope for the best.  Normally, he does one of two things - he either tears around the house for the backyard and the bushes or, more frequently, he runs over toward the front door and then lays down on the sidewalk until you pick him up.

Today he bolted out as we were leaving to run some errands.  He headed for the sidewalk this time, and had just started to lay down when he saw two squirrels in the yard and he was off like a shot after them!  I had never seen him do anything like it!  He was about 7 feet off the ground, up the tree after them, before his momentum ran out and he realized he had no front claws and had no idea how to use his back claws ... and so, gravity being what it is, down he came.  He stood frozen at the base of the tree, staring at those fat squirrels, who were barking at him like crazy!  I was actually a little leery of approaching the tree to fetch the cat, since mad squirrels are nothing to mess with and they were making such a racket.  And I laughed and laughed.  Unfortunately, no-one else had come out of the garage with me, so I was the only one to enjoy the spectacle and the others just had to be satisfied with my telling them what happened.

Reminded me of my former cat, Cricket, who was an indoor/outdoor cat when I lived in Seattle.  I had this little backyard with a wooden fence, and Cricket loved to walk along it.  One day, as I watched from the window, she was backing down the fence for some reason, right toward a squirrel, who didn't seem to see her either.  And Cricket actually bumped right into the squirrel - they both went straight up on contact, and both shot off in opposite directions just like cartoon characters.  I laughed awfully hard that day too - Cricket was a very proud cat and she did not appreciate my reaction.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I love my sister!

First trip to my hometown area of the month - 2 more to go.  This was just a quickie - chance to spend a little quality time with my sister and nieces, and lend a little moral support to my parents who had a moving sale/garage sale, in preparation for what they hope will be a move from their home of the last 20 years to a condo on the golf course across town.  We picked a gorgeous day to hang out and had a great day.  It is so re-charging for me to hang with my sister, particularly when we don't have any big things going on.  I'm so excited that I'll be seeing her for good chunks of time on three weekends this month. 

Tomorrow we have to map out the kids week at home.  Focus on outdoor activities and avoiding screen-time.  I'm hoping that if we have an organized plan for the kids - with a good balance of small chore and other more fun things - life will run smoothly and without a lot of stress for Sean.  I'd like him to enjoy this opportunity of being a SAHD as much as possible, even as he has his eye on going back to work soon. 

And then it's back to the races for another week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Welcome to June!

Today is June 1.  My girls finished school yesterday - can't believe I now have a 2nd and 4th grader!  What a great year they had in school.  How jealous am I (every year) of summer vacation.  My younger daughter asked me the other day "Mommy, when is your last day of work?"  Oh how I wish!

On the other hand, my husband the SAHD is now on full-time daddy duty.  I don't really envy that either.  I'm pretty excited though, because this is the first summer that we've been able to sign the kids up for community ed activities since taxi-dad is one of Sean's SAHD duties.  Brooke gets 2 rounds of summer school this summer, Jordan is taking 3 different community ed courses, and they both can do vacation Bible school at church this year.  And hopefully we can figure out activities and "field trips" and even some math skills time to keep them all busy (and off the electronic screens) this summer. 

But it is always an adjustment for me to get up and get ready for work while everyone else sleeps.  Why oh why did I not become a teacher, so I could have the thrill of "last day of school!!!" and then the anticipation in a few months of "first day of school!!!"  Happy summer vacation everyone!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

good news!

Remember that beach vacation I was swooning about a week or two ago?  That one that was 143 days away, south of Tampa, on the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico, WITH NO KIDS OR HUSBANDS?  Well, can I just say that I was never happier to realize I made a huge math error than I was when I realized I had made a huge math error ... that lovely trip begins in just 115 days (I was off by about a month).  I should never do math in my head.  And I should take more vacations. 

I'm "it" - blog-tag anyone?

I have been tagged in a little "getting to know you" blog tag.  Thanks go out to cdnkaro and her happy tagging post which you can read here. So, here goes!

Rules say that if you are tagged you have to write a post doing 3 things:  (1) answering the 11 questions posed to you; (2) come up with 11 questions of your own; and (3) tag 11 blog-friends (no tag-backs) to answer your questions.  All clear? 

Step 1:  My 11 answers

1. If you could have supper with any three people, be they currently living or not, who would you choose?
(1) My grandparents (I'm calling them a single unit, because I want all four) - because I was too young to realize all the things I'd like to know about them before they died; (2) Amelia Earhart - because I really want to know what happened to her; and (3) Jacob Wetterling - because I really want to be able to tell his parents what happened to him and that he's OK. 

2. Why?  See above.

3. Complete this sentence: The world needs more ______________ in order to be a better place. 
Peace.  I'm a hippie in my soul.  Peace and Love, folks.

4. If you won the lottery, what are the first 3 things you would do? 
Pay off all unsecured debt.  Then set up college or "first downpayment" accounts for my kids and my nieces and nephews. And if there is enough money left, I'd plan a big party and pay for the travel expenses of all my friends to come and visit me. 

5. What are three items on your bucket list?
(1) Ride in a hot air balloon; (2) Run a 5k and finish; (3) Be a judge on Iron Chef: America.

6. If you attended Hogwarts, to which house would you belong? 
Ha ha!  After we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in March, and then started reading the HP series together, my daughter and I have had this conversation multiple times.  I usually tell her I'm Ravenclaw all the way (I'm the smart friend absolutely), though at times I think I'm ballsy enough to make the jump to Gryffindor.

7. If you had to choose only 3 words to describe yourself, what would those 3 words be?
Smart, funny, loyal

8. Complete this this sentence: the world needs less/fewer ______________ in order to be a better place.
Deadlines.  We're all so busy meeting deadlines that we forget to smell the roses around us.  And often, those deadlines are insignificant and arbitrary.  And Kardashians.

9. Does knowing that someone has had body modifications (tattoos, piercings other than in the ears, plastic surgery, etc.) alter your perception/opinion of them?
It makes me more curious about them for sure - I always like to know why people do the things they do.  Particularly when the body modification is of a type I'm unfamiliar with or uninterested in personally.  I have watched every Discovery Channel program on body modifications that I've ever come across.  Fascinating, whether it is something I'm into or not - and surprisingly I'm much less likely to be judgmental about tattoos and piercings than I am by cosmetic plastic surgery!

10. If you had only one day left to live, how would you spend that time? 
Remember that party I wanted to host up in #4 - that's how I'd like to spend it. And I'd like to write a love note to everyone I love before I go.

11. What is the most thrilling experience you have ever had? (NOT pertaining to relationships or giving birth.) 
Feeding and touching a dolphin.  I was giddy about it for hours afterwards.  That had been on my bucket list for years!


Step 3:  My tags (see how I get all oppositional with the rules, going out of order???)
I went through my blog list this morning and picked 11 women who write words I want to read.  They have great things to say in every post and they make me feel things - which you all know from reading my blog over the past months is a work in progress for me (emotions are tricky things!).  So, in no particular order, my tags are bestowed upon:

1.  JT
2.  Lisa
3.  Cassie
4.  Phoebe
5.  Shannon
6.  Rae
7.  Amanda
8.  Judy
9.  MissAmandaJane
10. Michelle
11. Lynda

Lovely ladies all - with a variety of points of view - please take a minute to check them out!

Step 2:  And here are my questions, for those brave enough to accept this challenge!

1.  Do you, or did you before blogging, also write in any other formats?

2.  Why did you start blogging (e.g. as a journal, as a message, as a business ...)

3.  Do you ever have to stop reading another blog because the grammar or spelling makes you crazy? 

4.  Have you ever met the author of a blog you follow (not including folks you knew before you knew their blog)?

5.  What is your all time best ever thing you ate? 

6.  If you had one week and an unlimited Visa card to go anywhere in the world, but you had to spend that week alone, where would you go and what would you do?

7.  Excluding the aforementioned opinion you may or may not have about grammar and spelling, what is your one pet peeve of all time?

8.  Have you ever visited a place and just "felt" that you belonged there?

9.  Do you prefer to have a grocery store employee pack your bags or do you prefer to do it yourself?

10.  How large was your high school graduating class, and have you ever attended a class reunion? 

11.  How do you feel about salon care - hair coloring/hair styling/manicure/pedicure/massage/facials?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How do I feel?

A couple posts ago, I wrote about not writing.  A friend commented that perhaps I should write about how it makes me feel when the damper is down on my writing.  As I thought about that, my first thought was that I write about my feelings all the time, but it then occurred to me (and I haven't re-read my posts to verify this, but I think it is mostly true) that I write a lot about what I think about things, and what is going through my mind, but I suspect there is very little direct comment on how it makes me feel.  I'm a thinker, not a feeler! 

So here's what comes to mind when I try to identify my feelings over the past week or so:

Frustrated.  I am currently stuck between a few different rocks and a few different hard places, and in the big picture, many of those rocks are things that I can't change, so it seems up to me to readjust myself to move the hard places instead and I am frustrated by my lack of creativity and drive to make those readjustments.

Angry.  I have been angry a lot over the last couple weeks and I have bottled it up and up and up.  And as happens once or twice a year when I find myself in this explosive place, I end up blowing my stack at the kids.  That was last Saturday.  I'd like to not ever do that again.  Add parent guilt to this particular arena.

Sad.  Loss of hopes and dreams is a hard one to process. 

Guilt.  So many things that I should do, that I could do, that I haven't done. 

Disassociation.  When my life gets too hard, I withdraw and I find myself playing the fantasy games I've used since I was a child to escape - telling myself made up stories that feature me in 'parallel universe' type story lines.  It's usually a really good sign that I have some work to do in my real life and that I'm desperately trying to avoid whatever it is that needs to be done.

No wonder I've been in a blog-funk.  I talk when I'm happy, I am quiet when I'm mad or blue.  I'm not seeing a lot of room for happiness or joyfulness up there.  Sure, I laughed and smiled along the way - at work, where I get to leave my real world behind.  I don't blog about work, so that really doesn't help the writing situation!  But despite all that, there is one small little positive feeling to note:

Hope.  I'm seeing a glimmer that the path is there for me.  I have a plan and have taken some baI'y steps along the way.  I just need to find the wherewithall to keep moving forward.  Believe it or not, I don't know where the path leads but I have faith that it is a positive place, so onward I go. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Inspirational or disheartening?

A few weeks ago, I read the following quote, attributed to Winston Churchill:  "Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."  My immediate reaction was negative - I don't like the idea of viewing my life to date as a series of failures.  I do, however, agree that maintaining enthusiasm is a critical piece of moving forward positively in life.  So I put the quote aside with a shrug "whatever, Winston..."

Earlier this week, a friend posted the same quote on Facebook, so I commented about my earlier thoughts about it and we had a little back and forth.  My friend said something (with a smiley face) about perhaps Winston's opinions were colored by his experience of being attacked by the Nazis. 

And this quote and my thoughts about it have stuck with me now for several days.  Quite frankly, I think when a person is facing some big event (i.e. attack by the Nazis?) and something doesn't go the way you hope, it is my experience that while an initially lull occurs with the disappointment, if you have the chance to redeem yourself, or take a shot at those damn Nazis again, it might be easy to rally your enthusiasm. 

On the other hand, rallying enthusiasm to face another day of the same old same old is hard!  I admire people who can come to work every day with a genuine smile on their face, even when you know their job is difficult or boring or unpleasant.  I strive to be that person - to meet every day with renewed enthusiasm to do what needs to be done and keep my eyes open for the blessings that sometime appear where you least expect them. 

As for the "failure to failure" piece of that quote ... either I haven't had very many (or any) "failures" or else I am in complete denial and am somehow recategorizing things as something else.  I have had my share of heartbreak - in relationships, in my career, in my personal life goals - but am I wrong for not calling any of those "failures"?  Sure, I could have done things differently or made different choices, but I would never say that I failed at anything.  I auditioned for the Concert Choir in college one year and was the last person cut from my section.  Did I fail?  I was hugely disappointed (the Concert Choir had a European tour that year) and hurt and sad and mad, but I didn't fail - I stood there and I tried.  I didn't make it but that doesn't mean I failed.  I am no historian but I'm confident in saying that the Nazis bombed the crap out of Great Britain during Churchill's tenure, but does that make him a failure?  Not in my opinion. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unscientific research...and my blog.

It appears to me that the mood that strikes along with my PMS (which isn't so much one mood as a spectrum of them) takes away my blogging mojo.  One thought I had about it is that I end up so focused on myself (good and bad, depending where I'm at in the spectrum of moods), that I just can't conjure up topics or much of a desire to write.  Perhaps the raging hormones squelch my stream of consciousness.  What I know is that I have a real conflict between wanting to write something (anything!) and this damper that refuses to release its hold on me. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stuffed animal angst

Like most families with kids in elementary school, our house is full to the brim with toys:  stuffed animals, building toys, crap toys from dollar stores and/or Happy Meals, dolls, Littlest Pet Shop figures, dress-up clothes, etc.  I have thrown away so much stuff - the broken, mismatched, dog-chewed, etc. - but there seems to be a never-ending pile.  And so, about six months ago, Sean and I started telling the kids that no new stuffed animals come into the house unless they give up five.  Never once have the kids even seemed to grasp that idea, but yesterday they did.  And last night they each took a bag and started piecing through looking for five stuffed animals they could live without.  What one kid put in the bag, the other kid (shrieking in horror) and removed from the bag.  It was drama with a capital D!  I was half amused at the whole process - except when the negotiations between them turned into yelling and the 9 year old trying to strong arm the 7 year old into giving away something that the 7 year old insisted was her favorite-est toy ever.  Keep in mind that these stuffed animals have been in totes, unopened and ignored entirely, for at least three months.  But I won't allow strong arming, and the point of this exercise, which I keep repeating, is that they don't have to give away ANY ... keep them all if you like ... but then we won't buy the latest critter that caught your eye at Claire's yesterday. 

After finally giving up with about six critters in the bag last night, it started again this morning.  Three of the original six came out of the bag (you just can't make this stuff up) and they continue to cull through the pile.  The angst seems to have resolved itself and, from the sounds of things in the toy room, they are playing with the animals now, and occasionally putting one in the bag.  We shall see if we get to the magic number before we go to the mall later!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Vacation in 143 days!

I just booked a flight to Tampa in September, where I will spend 4 nights with my amazing girlfriends from law school.  It's been over a year since our last reunion and we are OVERDUE, so it is wonderful to start the countdown.  Me and four of my best friends, no kids no husbands no work, and the Gulf of Mexico spread out before us.  I think that just might get me through the next 143 days.

Summer is right around the corner.  Kids are counting down (9 days of school left), my husband the SAHD is cringing at the thought of all day kid patrol, but for the month of June, the kids will have outside activities every morning.  Brooke will be going to summer school for 3 weeks with her current 1st grade teacher and her special ed teacher, to keep working on her skills, to keep up with some routine of school, and to keep addressing her social skills.  Jordan is signed up for a week of art, a week of theater, and a week of science/chemistry.  And Sean will be counting down to his fishing trip in Canada, which he had to miss last year because he was in Hazelden, so he's raring to go. 

Found out yesterday that my parents sold their house, so whatever weekend free time we can find between now and June 27 will be spent trying to help them pack and organize.  Thankfully they've been paring down their household contents drastically over the last five years or so, but it's always a big job. 

I suspect June will be a whirlwind and the 4th of July will be here before my head stops spinning! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Good times!

My wallowing has served its purpose and I have turned that nasty corner into a more positive place!  Hurray!  I forced myself to re-read my post from yesterday a couple times and while it is the way I was feeling, it was such a good impetus to push me past the negativity and self-centered whining and into the sunshine. 

Yesterday, we ended up taking the kids mini-golfing and then bummed around some tourist shops and then out to a new frozen yogurt bar in our area (Cherry Berry - anyone heard of it?  Yum!)  And as we walked along at one point, I had us all hold hands in a circle and then tugged everyone in for a group hug - because even if there is (as there always is) room for improvement, I am blessed and I know it.  Thank you to Sean, Jordan and Brooke for a mostly-marvelous day!

And, as often happens when I am turning corners, I had a dream last night that helped calm my brain, and then a "hey what a great idea!" moment about how to approach our lack of communication issues too ... and took the first step to bring it to fruition this morning.

As I often hear in Al Anon or other self improvement arenas, when you clear the clutter in your mind, the often simple solutions will present themselves.  And I love it when it happens!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother's Day pity party

Disclaimer:  I am a very lucky person and a very lucky mama.  Most days, I can write long long gratitude lists.  Today is apparently not starting off as one of those days however, so I am going to wallow in my pity party for a moment and then, I hope, get the **** over it.

It is Mother's Day weekend and we have nothing on our agenda and the weather is gorgeous.  What I wanted was to have a fun weekend with my husband and kids, maybe squeeze in a lunch with my sister, and sort of be carefree and loose all weekend.  What I have gotten, so far, is squat.  Perhaps even less than squat, since I had to do some housework yesterday and then when I tried to spend the afternoon browsing around some stores, the kids rebelled and were a complete pain in my backside.  So instead I spent the afternoon in my chair, watching TV, and poking around on  That is not what I wanted to be doing.

Then my husband and my eldest go shopping.  That amused me.  They couldn't take my younger daughter "because she can't keep a secret".  As far as I can tell, they went to Fleet Farm and I was presented with a bag of circus peanuts upon their return.  On our earlier shopping trip, I had the kids pick out a hanging basket of flowers that I called my Mother's Day present.  Truly, I want no present.  But if you are going to buy me one, I am enough of a jerk to say it then better be a good one.  A bag of circus peanuts is not a good one. 

I was up by 5:30a both yesterday and today thanks to the stupid animals.  I told my husband I wanted the teenage cat put in the porch overnight, in hopes that he would then not torment the dog into waking me up.  And since husband is the last one to bed at night...yeah, cat has not been in porch yet.  And when I hollered "***********" at 5:27a this morning when the cat had the dog barking his fool head off in the stairwell, in hopes it woudl wake my husband up and then he'd decide to get up and let me go back to sleep...yeah well, that didn't happen either. 

One of my friends presented the Mother's Day quandry to me on Friday - is it about surrounding ourselves with our loved ones or getting the heck away from them all to spend the day alone?  I definitely know what she's talking about.  But if I were away at a spa this weekend, I'd be missing my family and itching to get the **** massage over with so I could get home.  I know that about myself.  I just need to wallow a little once in a while to remind myself how good I have it. 

Happy Mother's Day to me, and let's hope the pity party is over!

Friday, May 11, 2012

I was bullied...why did I make it through?

Bullying sucks.  Bullying causes suicide.  Bullying is just mean and unnecessary. 

I was bullied.  Junior high (7th-9th grade in my day) was awful.  I was poked at, laughed at, never picked for teams, ignored, taunted, and had gum thrown in my hair on a team bus to a basketball game.  I responded by ignoring the world, engaging in weird, anti-social behavior, and withdrawing into myself. 

I remember thinking about suicide.  Not really seriously but thinking about it.  I remember thinking that no-one was trustworthy and that no-one cared.  I developed friendships with the other misfits and was sort of a leader in that group, and oddly enough we never ever talked about how we were treated by others.  I never ever talked about things like this with my parents.  My mother was friends with one of the school secretaries back then and told me just a few years ago that her friend had voiced concerns that I was always alone and always seemed so sad.  But my mother never really knew what to say to me about it and, if she tried, I'm sure I rebuffed her. 

That was in the late 1970s. 

I went to a training on Reactive Attachment Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome yesterday.  In describing a day in the life of kids with RAD/FAS, the trainer (who is the most awesome speaker) was using examples folks could relate to - like those kids who were picked on and never picked for teams and isolated often because of things that no-one ever understood back in the day - like child abuse or alcoholism.  These RAD/FAS kids are in a similar bind nowadays, because the world is just starting to understand some of these neurological disorders that mess kids up early in their lives and now they have to live with it.  And while I could go on and on about the subject and my reactions to it, what struck me was the idea that I was that bullied kid too.

There are the bullied kids that can't take the pain another day and end their lives.  There are the kids that bully those weaker than themselves.  There are the bullied kids that carry that tormented kid in their souls every day for the rest of their lives. 

I don't know how I ended up as functional as I am.  I know that many years of living inside my own head has given me a great deal of insight into my own thought patterns, which is a good thing in some ways as I've been able to change my attitudes and recreate myself over and over.  But it's also a bad thing in that it allows me to compartmentalize things and not deal with them.  I carry few grudges and have forgiven myself for that weird, anti-social behavior back in the day.  I actually admire the fact that my 11 year old self, when faced with a determined tormenter on the first day of 7th grade, walked into the office and asked for a new locker and simply got away from her.  Who gave me that nerve?  I never ever cried or showed weakness, despite some real in-your-face taunting.  I would just ignore them and read my book until they went away.  And when the girl a few grades older than me chucked bubble gum in my long permed hair on the bus (on the way to a ballgame), I didn't say a word.  I separated all the hair I could and then got a scissors from the athletic trainers box and cut out the part with the gum in it.  The bus was silent when I did that, by the way.  Kind of proud of that moment too.  I think I have forgiven my tormentors. I left my junior high town and school during 9th grade and rarely visited again.  But over the last few years, I have reconnected with several of my old classmates on Facebook and email and I think - were I to be invited to our 30 year reunion next year - I might just go. 

But I can't shake the thought that it could have been so much different for me.

Springtime with the teenage cat...

This may be unfair of me, but I am placing a lot of blame for my morning attitude on our two year old male cat, Harry.  In the past month or so, he has started with some really annoying behaviors - including howling in the foyer at night, after the girls and I have gone to bed, and teasing the dog into whining and barking by about 5 a.m. every morning.  The dog is on a leash in the house and can only get to the landing on our stairway, so the cat sits at the top of the stairs, flicking his tail at the dog.  This used to begin about 5:30a, then has moved up to 5a, and in the last couple days, more like 4:45a.  Once I'm awake at that hour, I have very little chance of going back to sleep, even if the dog listens to my "leave it!" and stops his racket.  I resent my morning routine being directed by a cat.  But what frustrates me the most is that I haven't yet found a good option to manage the problem.  If I put the cat in a room and shut the door, he will yowl and paw the door continuously for hours, which keeps me awake/wakes me up.  If I put him in the basement, he yowls and paws the door, and I can still hear it.  I may consider putting the dog's cage in the back porch, now that the weather is nice, and locking him in there...perhaps that would be far enough away from me to work...

An ADHD dog and a PITA cat ... pet life is good around here!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Online Quizzes are freaky sometimes!

I was trolling around just now, looking for something online to give me some ideas for alternate career options ... came across some quizzes and just took the Color Quiz. I'm a little freaked out because of the following, based on my ratings of colors presented:

Your Existing Situation

"Creative and emotional, looking for ways to further expand those qualities. Looking for a partner who enjoys the same activities. Seeking adventure and new and unusual activities."

Your Stress Sources

Feeling empty and isolated from others and trying to bridge the gap between herself and others. Wants to live life to the fullest and experience as much as possible. she cannot stand any restrictions or obstacles put in her way and only longs to be free.

Your Desired Objective

Very active imagination and may be prone to fantasies and daydreaming. Always dreaming of interesting and exciting things to happen to her. Is a charmer and wants to be admired for that.

Your Actual Problem

"Feeling held back and restricted from moving forward, looking for a solution that will give her more freedom and less obstacles."

Your Actual Problem #2

"Fears she will be held back from achieving things she really wants, leading her to search endlessly for satisfaction and become involved in activities which are pointless."

Anyone see any similarities to things I have recently blogged about?  Holy moley!  Now I must find the follow up quiz: So Now What Do I Do?

UPDATE:  And then I took a Myers Briggs type free test, which claimed it had a career suggestion portion.  Says I'm an ENTJ - which makes me a freaking "fieldmarshal" and says things about how I can't NOT lead and am constantly trying to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and improve efficiency and root out repeated errors.  Now I'm panicking because it will suck if my endless search for satisfaction means I have to be the boss of the world ... can you imagine what an awful realization that would be? 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A to Z: The aftermath

I thought the A to Z challenge was fun!  I found myself thinking of places I'd like to go, and horrifying myself with how little I knew of most of those places!  And some days, I even doubled up because I couldn't decide between two letter topics.  I even tried out the "schedule" function for the first time, and pre-wrote a couples posts. 

This past week, without my reference letter for the day, I've been trying to figure out a new random subject generator process but haven't found it yet.  I am hoping another challenge is right around the corner!

My favorite post was for letter Q - Q: things I am; things I am not.



I feel the need to share some positive energy with the blog-world today, so let's see what I've got in the hopper!

I am grateful for a weekend that, while busy, was also relaxing.  I spent most of it with my husband and kids, a little with my parents and sister and nieces, and even a little down time with friends.  We celebrated a birthday, a prom, and a piano recital, and also spent about an hour or so (as a family) volunteering our time and a little sweat.

I got to walk the dog twice yesterday in my favorite kind of misty not-really-raining rain.  Loved it.  I learned that my cat, who loves to dart outside the minute he sees the chance, does not like wet grass.  He turned tail and headed right back in. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have a healthy family.  I don't remember the last time we had to take a child in for more than a check up and I am so grateful for that. 

I am so glad that I come to work every day.  I may not always like what I do, but I respect and admire my co-workers, I appreciate the support we all provide for each other, and I know at the end of the day that I am being useful, that I am using the gifts I've been given, and that I have made a difference in the world through my work.  That's some powerful stuff and it was all I hoped for when I went to law school. 

I still have that feeling that something amazing is waiting out there for me, just beyond the horizon.  I find it really amusing that I am so easily sitting back, smiling, and waiting for it.  It's coming ... I have no doubt of that ... but I'm not pushing to get there sooner, or obsessing about what it will bring, or worrying myself over whether I'll recognize it when it gets here, or panicking over whether I'll be ready. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Preview to the drama that is right around the corner!

My niece should be hitting the rack any moment now after her first prom.  I live about two hours away from my sister and her kids, so I've been hearing second-hand about all the prom preparation stuff for months, but haven't actually seen any of it. 

First there was the getting asked part - my niece was asked by a very nice, very tall, handsome young man of good family.  Whew!  The drama?  He Liked her, but she didn't Like him.  Uh oh ... what would she do?  There was much handwringing over the dilemma of how to go and have fun without leading him on ... (the "rest of the story" on this thread is at the very bottom so keep reading!)

Then came the dress.  The drama?  My niece has expensive taste, I learned, when she would show me photos of the things she found on the internet.  I suggested to my sister that she set a dollar figure for the parental financial contribution, and let my niece figure out where to spend it.  My sister and my niece ended up going shopping one Saturday, though, and finding JUST THE THING.  They were so excited. 

Then came the shoes.  Platform spike heels.  Those were some shoes - probably added six inches.  Good thing that nice boy is really tall! 

Then I understand there was drama about accessories - clutch, earrings, etc. - that required much searching and shopping.  As my sister said to me repeatedly over the past month - "we" want it all to be just perfect.  Good thing it was all by telephone, given the number of my eye rolls.

Hair and makeup began yesterday at 7:15 a.m.!  Then there was a photo op planned at noon at the local golf course for the junior class, which was really a good idea since there are lots of friend groups etc. that parents wanted pictures of.  Pouring rain though, which I expected would create a lot of drama, but was surprised to find everyone just sort of handled.  Then the annual car parade around the lake and back to the high school for the grand march at 4p.  I was there with my sister and our parents by 3:30p.  The car parade didn't show up until nearly 4:30p!  It was windy and cold, and toward 5:30p (still nowhere close to over) the big fat raindrops started to fall off and on.  But the kids really showed their midwestern sturdiness and they bounced on through without any visible drama.

I said over and over how glad I was that prom did not involve all this nonsense when I was in high school.  Yuck!  But my niece was beautiful and my sister was only marginally neurotic in her drive for "the perfect night".

Oh and I'm leaving out the interpersonal drama!  Hope you are still reading because this is the really good part!  So my niece was all worried about her date and that he Liked her more than she Liked him. Well, she found out a couple weeks ago that he had his eye on a new girl, perhaps even to girlfriend level, so then there was drama about whether he'd ditch my niece and go with the new girl ... and holy crap what then about the matching tie and dress!  Well, he didn't ditch my niece, and the new girlfriend also has a date, and so the new girlfriend and her date were seated at the same dinner table for prom as my niece and her date.  And my sister went on and on about hoping the prom date was nice and wouldn't ignore my niece, yadda yadda yadda.  But then in the last few weeks my niece has also been going all blinky-blink at her good friend Joe.  And apparently he was blinking back because I just learned that a week or so ago they moved in to the capital L Like arena again.  But Joe wasn't going to prom but he was going to the after prom party.  And Joe is friends with my niece's prom date too.  So I suspect that there was plenty of couple switching going on last night.  And after all that my sister was flipping out about how the prom date better not ignore my niece and all that, when he and my niece came over to talk to us after the grand march last night, what did my sister do?  Promptly insist that Joe and my niece pose for a photo together (he was sitting with us) and totally ignored the very nice prom date, who looked extremely uncomfortably awkward.  And then she introduced him to all of us, telling him who we all were, but then saying to us, and "this is the prom date".  EYE ROLL! 

Anyhow, they were then off to the dinner and dance until 11p, then to the after prom lock in party until 3a, and then to someone's house for breakfast after that.  I will be interested to hear how it all went.  And praying every day, over the next 7-10 years, that my daughters can sail through this in a little more low maintenance fashion, and that I do not try to re-create my own high school experience through my kids.  I love my sister dearly but holy hannah, this has been a roller coaster of drama with her.