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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Guest Post: Leo Speaks

Freedom of speech is a great thing. It allows all of us bloggers to follow a passion. With that comes the risk of  people judging and I am learning to have a thicker skin about that. It's still really annoying. The thing is...if you don't like's simple...don't read it. While I welcome any and all readers, I write about the realities of marriage and parenting so it isn't always rainbows and butterflies. If that is what you are looking for, there are a lot of blogs out there that are like that (I even enjoy a few) but this isn't one of them. I don't want to have to moderate comments and I will post a comment when someone disagrees with me but I won't publish ones that aren't true. I've been questioned a few times about what I say about Leo and does he read the blog and does he know what I say and after a comment was made he said, "Maybe I should answer that." I said, "Maybe you could be a guest poster and put an end to the questions once and for all." He agreed and I am proud to say here is Leo and all of his infinite wisdom:

I think the wife and I have a special bond (probably not that different from other happily married couples) and we both feel pretty secure in our relationship.  Our lives sometimes take us on unexpected rides and we don't always get to do what we love.  I am glad that she gets to do what she truly loves everyday and that is write.  She gets to write about everyday life within and outside our family that other people can relate to and appreciate.

People ask me "Leo, did you read the blog today!?" and I say "Really??  Did I read it? - I LIVE IT!!! Of course I read it from time to time. 

But all jokes aside, our life is pretty transparent - what you see is what you get, there are no secrets.  We love each other and go through normal sometimes funny episodes that include highs and lows of a relationship.  Throw in some kids and it makes for amusing story telling.  Sometime she asks if my feelings would get hurt if she posts such and such.  The answer is always - No.  Sure sometimes there is a double standard with her ex-boyfriends or guy friends and we both know this but they are all good guys.  At the end we both understand and realize why we are together.

AnnMarie is truly the queen of chaos and she should have free reign to write what she feels in her unique style.  I am blessed to have her in my world and could not imagine managing without her.

Babe, I love you.

Leo (no she didn't make me write this BUT she owes me because I am not a writer and this is not my thing! :P)

I think I just got everything I wanted on my list for things I want for Mother's Day, my birthday and our anniversary. Love you, too!

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Birthday: Part 2

I want to stop hating my birthday so I really gave it some thought yesterday (while sitting at two baseball games) and analyzed it to death and came up with this:

It might have started when I was in the third grade. My birthday landed on the last day of school and there was a tornado warning that kept us there most of the day. I was scared to death so that didn't make for a nice birthday. Then on my 12th birthday, I got the bike I wanted more than anything. It was a sunshine banana seat one and I was riding it proudly up and down my street when a huge mother crow thought I was threatening her nest and swooped down and pecked my head until it bled (yes, you can laugh...I won't be mad). My Papa joked that since my hair was like straw, she probably wanted it for her nest (and you people wonder why I hate the outdoors). I had a boyfriend that used to break up with me right before my birthday and then ask me out again right before his. When you are young and in love, you really are stupid because I didn't catch onto that until our third year dating and then he didn't do it anymore. To be honest, I don't know that it even had anything to do with my birthday but it always worked out that way.

Prom and my 18th birthday landed on the same day and for the most part, that was a good birthday. I got the promise ring I wanted badly and guaranteed plans but we got lost driving to the restaurant and ended up in the McDonald's drive-thru. I was the oldest of everyone I hung out with when I turned 21 so I ended up at a restaurant in the mall having my first legal drink. It wasn't really the club experience that I had thought of when I was waiting patiently for it to happen. I can't remember the birthdays between 21 and 30. You can read about my 30th here. Wasn't great. When I turned 35, Leo threw me a surprise party which I loved and was grateful for but when I looked around, I realized that besides my sisters and cousins and a neighbor that I had become good friends with, a lot of my friends weren't there. Most of my friends were women I taught with but I had been out of the classroom for 8 years and I don't even know if Leo had thought to invite them. For my 40th, Leo planned a dinner with my friends and I am still hearing it from my family that they weren't invited. Last year was just bad. Leo planned something that was very much the last thing I wanted to do and then I looked like a jerk because I didn't want to do it.

Soooo...I have decided that I am going to try something that I admittedly am not good at...acceptance. It is what it is. I am a mom so by definition, nothing is about me. I thought about the past year and came up with a list of bad and good things that happened. You have to acknowledge the bad because it makes the good that much sweeter.

Bad: Tongue Cancer Scare
         Someone close to me had health issues that I didn't blog about.
         Mammogram woes If you click on this one it's a two-parter. This one and the next day's.

Good: My blog's traffic more than doubled and I doubled the amount of followers.
           I purged the house.
           I entered the blog world and LOVE it! It is the equivalent of coming home.
           Both boys went to the Superbowl for their football teams and Belle cheered for Tommy's team.
           Gia took her first dance class. Watching them do what they love and do it of life's
           biggest joys.
           The kids were healthy minus an illness on vacation which could be in both columns but I am choosing to put it in this one.

So, see...I need to look at that and see that there are more things that are good to focus on than bad. Even if it is just one thing or two things. The good still outweighed the bad.

It ended up being a decent day. My mom watched Gia so I could go to Nico's game (about an hour away). He won so I had to leave without him to my mom's for a delicious dinner. Leo and Tommy met us there (Tommy's team took 2nd in his tournament). My mom really did a great job of making it special...she had all of my favorite foods and bought me a few things I wanted. Leo and the kids gave me a Barnes and Noble gift card and a day once a month that is all mine! So excited about that. Not sure how it is going to work but knowing it's there feels like a light at the end of the tunnel. Nico's team made it into the championship so we headed back out that way to see him. They lost but coming in 2nd out of 14 teams isn't too shabby. Nico ended up being one of the tournament MVP's which was a nice end to the long two days. We went to dinner after and didn't get home until 10:00. I was bummed that there was no relaxing going on.

 Thursday I am celebrating poolside with my sister and BFF so this birthday still has some life it in. :)

Nico graduates tomorrow so today will be filled with cleaning and shopping when I would really like it to be filled with napping and writing. Two things that I didn't get to do at all this weekend.

Anyone else have any funny birthday story? Anyone else get attacked by a bird or get caught in a tornado?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Birthday Blues

I wanted to come here and write about all the things I am going to do this year. I was going to treat this birthday (and every one of them after) like a clean slate. I might...starting next year. I am not the kind of person that lets go of things easily. If something is making me feel like crap, it takes awhile for me not to feel like crap again.

I'm going to share with you why I have been in a funk. If you have been reading since last year (and I love those of you that have), you know I hate my birthday. Dread it like I dread going to the doctor. I told a friend of mine (K.M.) that her blog post about her birhtday inspired me and I was going to write the same even though I wasn't feeling it. I thought I could pull it off but I was never a good "faker" and this is an honest view so I have to be honest.

This week has been filled with disappointments and I can barely handle one more. Last week, Nico got into some trouble for running through people's yards. Six boys were doing it. Three got caught. Nico was one that got caught and maybe for the ones whose kids didn't, it isn't that big of a deal. It was a "wrong place, wrong time" kind of deal because the neighbor (not in my neighborhood) that called is crazy and everyone said it was a stupid call. Maybe. But for me...who got the phone call that he was in trouble, it was a big deal. A huge disappointing deal and one that I am having a hard time getting past. I'm sure it is like this in every town but parenting in this town is hard.

You can think you are doing all the right things and when you find out it just doesn't matter, it's disappointing and leaves you feeling like you want to take up permanent residence under a rock. Not just with parenting but with all relationships. It's been that kind of week.

I had a bunch of "Mommy Fails" this week. Gia gave up the binky for one night and when she woke up at 5:00am on a morning that I was already feeling like I couldn't take it, I gave in and gave her the binky. I just didn't see how I could expect my mom who is going to babysit her to deal with a crabby toddler and serve people dinner. It's not fair to her. So we'll start again tomorrow. The thing is that I already gave her the two toys when she gave them up and it was working so now I am back to square one. Second Mommy fail was when I let Tommy watch a mini-series that he begged me to let him and he saw someone hanged. I could tell it bothered him because he kept getting up and coming to talk to me and kept saying, "I've seen people die before on TV. Don't worry, Mom. It just bothers me when innocent people die." Scarred plus I am pretty sure there was a sex scene in the mini-series. Nico's trouble felt like a major one. I am a firm believer that kids are going to screw up and it is what happens after they do that matters but it is still disappointing when they do. I am totally getting "Mom of the Week."

I saw Snow White and the Huntsman on Friday and was disappointed in how it ended. I could have used a lot more Huntsman and a lot less Snow White. There was a weird story line with the Queen and Charlize was good but since Kristen Stewart doesn't really give much, it felt like Charlize gave too much with Chris Hemsworth in between. Just felt off balance and wish it would have had a better ending.

I'm headed back to Huntley for another baseball game which is really the last place I want to be today. After that to my mom's for my favorite dinner. I'm disappointed that one of my sisters isn't going to be there but if anyone understands how crazy life is, it's me so I get it. I'm still going to miss her. I'm looking forward to being with my other sisters and their families.

Because I can't just let a birthday post go by with all this "glass half emptiness", I will end it with a few hopes for this year:

I am hoping for no medical traumas or episodes.

I am hoping my writing keeps growing and that people still find this interesting. :)

I am hoping that I will finally have the courage to send in the two children's books and have finally finish the book I am going to miss writing.

I am hoping to make exercise a way of life (ughhh...even as I type it...ugh...I have to do it.)

I am hoping to live in the moment more and let go of the "what if" fears.

I am hoping that Gia gives up the binky and is potty-trained by my next birthday. :)

I am hoping that Nico has an easy transition to high school.

I am hoping that Belle has a better year in school.

I am hoping that Tommy stays the sweet kid that he is and that being in the oldest grade in his school doesn't turn him into a jack-***.

I am hoping that I can finally give up control of how I "think" my life is supposed to be and "enjoy" what it really is.

What about you? What is one of your favorite ways to spend your birthday?

Friday, June 1, 2012

5 Shows On My DVR

It's been awhile since I've discussed TV and with all the heavy posts, it seems like a good time to lighten it up and discuss some of what is on my DVR. Since I am a HUGE TV fan (love the escape), I will only do the top 5 on my DVR.

American Idol: I was a huge Phillip Phillips fan even though, the name...what is with the name? Who does that? It makes me wonder how many John Johns, James James' and David Davids there are in the world. At first his facial expressions and little dance thing bugged me but truthfully, I never really sat down to watch it. It was always on in the background when I was doing a hundred other things and when it was his turn, I just loved the way he sounded. I was very happy that he won.

The Bachelorette: I wasn't going to do it. I didn't think Emily could pull it off and I was afraid it was going to be a whole lotta, "I'm doing this for little Ricky" and yes, it is like that but she surprised me. She has a little sass to her and she's getting rid of men left and right. Plus the thought of watching a whole bunch of cute guys fight for a woman makes for good TV. I was dying when they showed the outtakes of Alessandro's interview and the last relationship he had was with his cousin! I don't have a favorite right now but I am liking Charlie.

The Real Housewives: I am not totally caught up but on the Orange County one, I have a hard time with guys that the women date after they have started the show. There are three: Brooks, Eddie and Slade. They all seem like they are after their fifteen minutes of fame. I saw a glimpse of a fight between Tamra and Alexis but didn't see the whole thing, something about talking behind each other's back. 4th grade to housewives...same old, same old.

I have only seen some of New Jersey. Enough to still not like Teresa and I'm still not liking her brother but Melissa isn't bugging me as much. Is Teresa's Joe really that big of a jerk or is he just "acting big"* while the cameras are on? It's odd because I didn't really mind her on Celebrity Apprentice (didn't really care who won as long as it wasn't Aubrey). So who is the real Teresa? Still love Caroline and all her higher than thoughness (don't know if that is a real word but I like it). Love, love, love Jacqueline's husband, Chris and that Ashley is out of there.

*"Acting big" is what my sisters and I used to say if we ever had a friend over and we acted differently than we normally did.

Sister Wives: Why do I love this show? Why do I care about these people? I have no idea but I do. I don't even care for Cody but these wives have me caring for them. Maybe it's because I can't figure them out. I can't imagine sharing Leo. I don't get enough of him now. What would it be like if when he wasn't around, he was with another wife? I don't think our windows and other breakables would survive. Unless...there was a wife to cook and clean and a wife to babysit. Wait, and a wife to fix things around the house...ahhh...maybe then...nope, not even then. So much distress among the wives. I love that they are showing the "reality" of any marriage through Christine and really didn't like the advice that Mary gave her and how she ended up telling Cody, "Sorry for being ungrateful." They both need to work on it but suddenly it is all on her? If she would get fixed, they would be fine. Really don't like that.

Dance Moms: Again, why do I love this show? Abby walked off in the finale of the original and I started watching the Miami one. I am convinced this one is really fake. The way the one girl talks to her mom...not enough money in the world would make me sit and take that crap. They are all a bunch of back stabbers. There is one mom, Kimmy's mom, who is so normal that I feel bad for her. Kimmy is adorable too. I use it as a life lesson because I watch it with Belle and usually the boys get sucked in. The best part is that Gia likes to imitate the dancers which cracks me up.

Okay, this is number 6 but I have to include it: Touch- Leo and I watch this show together and all I can say is what AMAZING writing. The concept to the stories...great show. The way it drives the point home that we are all connected in some way. Genius writing.

So those are the shows that are on my DVR that I have caught up on (you might ask how I have time to watch all of these but that is why I am only now watching American Idol and I watch after the kids go to bed while I fold the endless loads of laundry). These aren't the first five (6) but I didn't think you'd want to hear my opinion on Minnie's New Bowtique or what has been happening in the world of Bubble Guppies.

You might ask why I don't watch more shows that have an actual plot and that is because TV is my escape. By the time I sit down to watch, my brain is a little fried. I do watch some but thankfully they are on hiatus right now with the exception of Law and Order: SVU which is #7 and I really have to gear up to watch it.

Your turn. Tell me the top 5 shows on your DVR. What's everyone watching these days?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I'm sure the very title of this post sends my family in a panic. Not to worry, I am not going to divulge any of our family's secrets. Every family has them, right? I remember when I was little, I had to do a family tree assignment. I wanted to interview my Nana but she said to interview my dad's side because there was "bad blood" on her side. Little pieces of a story has been told throughout the years. It is not my story to tell so I'll only say that there was mention of a well known mobster being smitten with my Nana's mother. I love to listen to stories from my parents and my grandpa about when they grew up. They are either really good at hiding them or there really aren't any family secrets for them to tell.

Since I have this blog, you wouldn't think I have any secrets but I do. Let me explain. You all know, because you read this, that my boys battle Cystic Fibrosis (hate, hate, hate) but when I just meet someone, they don't know. I'm pretty sure that only 3 or 4 families on Tommy's baseball team know. Not everyone on Nico's baseball, basketball or football team know. People we meet for the first time may or may not know depending on if the person that introduced us to them told them. If someone asks me or it comes up, I don't deny it but I don't offer it up either. Is it a secret? Yes, because I want to hold onto them not knowing for as long as I can. I WANT it to stay hidden. Some wear what they battle as a badge of honor and that is great. It works for them. We've just never been that way. They don't want to be known for it. THEY want it to stay hidden. If we had to explain to every person we met that the boys live with a chronic condition, we'd walk around in a constant state of fear because just talking about it brings that up.

Sometimes Rocco feels like a secret. People ask me how many kids I have and I answer four. It would be too complicated to explain Rocco to people which lends itself to horrible guilt for not always acknowledging him. I can talk about him without falling to pieces but to tell his story brings me back to a dark place.

Some secrets are just for me. sneaking in a shirt to buy at Target with the groceries a secret? Is not telling him I got a sitter so I could have some free time at Barnes and Noble a secret? Secrets that are just for me aren't as heavy as the ones I keep for my family.

The amount of energy it takes to keep a secret is exhausting. I sometimes wonder if that is why I am tired all the time. It takes a lot of effort to keep the secret hidden. It's not just the actual disease. It's embarrassing side effects from the many meds they take. I want to stress that I am not in denial. For the most part, I live with a dark cloud over my head that swoops in with reminders all the time. But the times I choose to keep it a secret, it moves the cloud away temporarily and I can pretend that we are just like everyone else. I can pretend that CF isn't a part of our lives. Again, if it comes up, I will tell the truth. I won't hide it anymore because that would be wrong. To lie about it would be wrong.

The people that know the secret...what do they think? Do they judge? Do they tell everyone they know? "Oh, you know them? They are the ones whose two boys have CF." Do they feel sorry for us?? That thought makes me sad because we are so much more than that. The boys are so much more. A few years ago, we had a big party to raise money and collect gifts for our big fundraiser. Friends of ours threw the party and the support from the community was OFF THE CHARTS. It was very touching to see so many people care enough to come and donate. At one point, though...I had the thought of "Everyone is going to know. Everyone knows now." I wish I could be one of those people that when the truth comes out, it's liberating but it was more terrifying. The reason is simple: I do NOT want people to see the disease before seeing my sons for who they are. I want people to get to know them before they find out what they battle and then be shocked at their strength and ability to overcome anything.

There is a trust factor in people knowing your secret. It is simply know it, support me or my kids and keep the secret. It's not yours to tell. What's the old adage? Once you tell a secret, it's not a secret anymore. I hope that isn't true because there are several people that know a lot of mine and I trust they are in their vault. Revealing a secret is a relationship changer. I once told someone that meant the world to me something that I didn't want anyone else to know and she told people. We were never the same after that.

Is living with CF our only secret? Nope. Will I tell any of our other secrets? Not today. I'll go on being mentally tired from keeping them. I'll go on praying that no one finds out. Are they that big? Not really and some might even say, "What's the big deal?" That's the thing about secrets...when they are yours, they are a big deal otherwise you wouldn't spend so much time keeping them.

So I told you one of mine, who's brave enough to tell me one of theirs?

Linking up with Shell again:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Five Things I am Proud of

I wasn't planning on posting today. I was going to try and do an "every other day" kind of posting schedule but I saw Nicole's link up at Moments that Define Life and had to join in. I've been a bit of a "Debbie Downer" lately and want to turn things around. I agree that it's not in my nature to talk about things I am proud of because I think pride can sometimes be ugly but you know what? It's a link and I don't do it very often so I am going to do it today.

1. That all four of my children are healthy. I am proud of the fact that it takes a lot to keep them all healthy but they are for the moment so I will relish in that for today. Plus, they don't embarrass me too much in public.

2. My marriage. For all the times I get on him for doing more, I try equal it with telling him that I am still madly in love with him. I am proud of the fact that marriage is hard but we make it work.

3. This blog. I stepped waaaay out of my comfort zone and putting it all out there for people to read is scary but the rewards have been worth it. I might not be making money yet but "do what you love and the money will follow" is my life's motto. Or life's motto is "Have kids? Embrace the craziness." No, wait, it's "what you see is what you get." Anyway, it's one of them. I am proud of the fact that I love to write and I am writing.

4. Painting murals. Besides giving birth to my children, these murals are my pride and joy. I still can't believe I did them. I am in the process of doing one in Gia's room right now. It's the one here that isn't finished. I love getting lost in painting but have zero talent in the drawing or painting freehand. I am more of a paint by numbers kinda gal. Though I shouldn't say zero talent since I taught myself shading and I can draw a mean leaf. I, in no way used these images for profit. They were only used on my walls for my children's enjoyment.
Tommy's that is no longer since he was booted from his room. Our high school is the Falcons.
I did this when Belle was 4 and bless her heart, she doesn't want to paint over it though she is way past this stage.
I saw this picture and the little girl looked just like Gia and was a ballerina, which is what her room is done in.

5. Being a teacher. I know I am not actively teaching classes anymore but every once in awhile, the teacher in me creeps out. I loved telling people that I was a teacher. It meant something. It meant that I was making a difference in kids' lives and that I was reaching them and helping them and I got recognized and paid for doing it. I LOVED my job and I miss it all the time. I know that I still teach but in a different way and that is okay for now. Maybe I'll go back someday, maybe not but it still makes me proud to say I once was.

So what about you? What are five things you are proud of? Leave me them in the comments if you aren't a blogger or a blogger that just wants to write them here or head over to Nicole's place to link up there.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Baseball Part 2

I forgot to add a few things on yesterday's post: Why I Dislike Baseball. Still things that I don't like:

1. The thing that everyone that sits in one of those fold up chairs experiences but never talks about is when it is over 70 degrees, you get "swamp ass" from sitting in those chairs. I dislike "swamp ass" very much. It's not lady-like and the fear is that it really will look like I wet my pants.

2. The ten pounds I gain each season because I don't have it together enough to have dinner ready before a game (or they don't want to eat anything heavy before a game so if we ever want to eat together, we eat after) so we go out to eat a lot.

3. Late nights and early mornings (at one time I didn't mind this but with a toddler, it's rough).

4. Washing uniforms. I'd LOVE to know who the brainiac was that thought white uniforms was a good idea.

The things I love so that I am not just Negative Nelly:

1. The look on my boys' faces when they get on base, score a run, hit a home run, strike someone out, catch a fly ball or throw someone out at 2nd, 3rd or Home base. That smile is priceless.

2. Getting a tan without trying.

3. Not feeling guilty for not taking Gia outside knowing she will spend a few hours at the park or field.

4. Not having to cook.

5. Adult conversation three times a week at the very least.

6. Help from Belle and her girlfriends with Gia so I can get a little break.

7. Seeing the boys in a baseball uniform. Something about it screams, "All American!"

8. No sleepovers the night before a game and with 70 or 80 games between the two of them, this saves me a lot. LOVE having a reason besides "I'm mean" for no sleepovers.

9. Hearing my husband ask my dad for advice, watching my dad teach the boys, watching Nico teach Tommy. I LOVE to see the interaction between all the men I love.

10. Getting to see and talk to my dad. I love hearing his stories about when he coached and I love getting his advice on various things. It's one of my very favorite things about going to the games.

I might have used this video before but I love this song. It's one of the greatest games out there and I definitely have a love/hate relationship with it.

If you are looking for me, I'll be at four games today. Lucky me! A friend of mine posted this quote after yesterday's post and I love it so much, I am going to use it here. (Thanks, Dave!)

A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings. - Earl Wilson

How will you be spending this Memorial Day?