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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Mom of the Year Award Down the Drain

I debated on whether to write about this but thought that years from now, I want a record of the crazy conversations that are sometimes had over here. You know when you are in bed at night replaying the day in your head and you get to a point when you ask yourself, "Did I really say that?" Well this is one of those conversations. Let me start out by saying that Isabella has one of the best teachers my kids have ever had or that I have ever known. He is enthusiastic, fun, smart and so good at easing a child's worry or a parent's concern. Isabella has always loved school but I have seen her confidence level soar this year. I tell her all the time that she can be whatever she wants to be and do whatever she sets her mind to and I think this year she finally believes it and I think it is because of her teacher this year.

The conversation:

Belle (after school): Mom, my teacher challenged us over break to come with questions for science and so I wrote a bunch down.
Me (trying to decide what to make for dinner): That's great. You didn't even ask for any help. Nice job.
Belle (beaming): He said that I had good questions and that I could be a great scientist because great scientists work hard to find answers to their questions. So, now I want to be a scientist. What do you think?
Me (seeing a lot of battles over the hard science and math classes): I think you can be whatever you want as long as you are willing to work for it. Maybe you'll be the scientist that cures CF.
Belle (as if a light bulb went off in her head): Yes! That is the kind of scientist I want to be! But...
Me (deciding on Sloppy Joes): But what?
Belle (looking sad): After I said that at school, some of the kids started making fun of me saying that scientists are nerds (sorry for any scientists reading this...not my opinion).
Me (hating how mean kids are): Scientists are not nerds (see, scientists...I have your back). They are the smartest people in the world (sorry all other professions...didn't mean to generalize). Even doctors go to them to find answers.
Belle: Yeah, that's right. They are really smart.
Tommy (walking into the room): Who is really smart?
Belle (proudly): Scientists. I am going to be one when I grow up.
Tommy: Oh, no way! You are not even close to being smart enough to be one. I am better at science than you are anyway.
Belle (before I even got a chance to say anything to Tommy): OH MY GOD, TOMMY! SHUT UP! I AM SO SMART ENOUGH! MY TEACHER SAYS SO!
Me (mad now that Belle yelled so Gia woke up from a too short nap): Belle, you don't need to scream at him. Tommy apologize. She can be a scientist if she wants.

About an hour later while I was making dinner:
Belle: Mom, do you think I am smart enough to be a scientist?
Me: Yes.
Belle: What if I don't understand the classes?
Me (not really wanting to think about the future science classes she would have to take): You take classes before the classes that are hard so that you'll understand them better. You'll have to study a lot but you can do it.
Belle (getting frustrated and agitated...why? I have no idea): What if the before classes are hard? What if I study them and I still don't know them? I am not good at studying. I forget all the time.
Me (not really believing that I am having a conversation about classes she has not even had yet): Why don't you wait until you are older and have the classes before worrying about that?
Belle (rolling her eyes): You never want to talk about what I might do when I get older.
Me (hating the rolling of the eyes): We are talking about that but you are getting upset about classes you don't even know that you won't understand.
Belle: I'm just saying. What if I can't be a scientist? Should I be an artist? What about a baker?
Me (I'm not going to lie. I was getting tired of the conversation.): You are good at all of those things.
Tommy (sitting at the table doing his homework): You should just be an artist. It's too hard to be a scientist and you'll get frustrated and Mom can't help you and then you'll cry.
Belle (stomping her feet): I am not going to cry and Mom won't be at college with me so she can't help. You're the dumb one. I can too be a scientist! Mom, make him stop talking to me.
Me (the bickering at this point is nails on a chalkboard): Tommy knock it off. Belle, people are going to tell you for the rest of your life that you can't do things. You can choose to believe them and quit or you can believe in yourself and work hard to make your dreams come true. If you want to be a scientist, don't listen to people that tell you that you can't.
Nico (walking into the kitchen from practice): Who is going to be a scientist?
Belle (exasperated at this point): Nevermind! Everyone just be quiet about it!
Tommy (being the aggravator that he is): Belle is.
Nico: Seriously? Scientists are nerds.
Belle (crying...I kid you not...crying): See! I told you! Everyone thinks that scientists are nerds! No one thinks I can be a scientist and even if I am, I'll be a nerd!
Me (having zero patience and no wine in the house): You know what? Forget it, Belle! You shouldn't be a scientist! If you are so worried about what everyone else thinks and you are going to believe people when they say you aren't smart enough, then you can't be one! Tommy, stop saying she isn't smart enough when she got a better grade than you in science and Nico, it is a scientist that is going to cure CF so nerd or not, you better have the utmost respect for them because they are the answers to your prayers!

All four of my children looked at me like I was crazy and at that moment, I admit, I was in a speak before think mode. I realized I had just joined the people that told her she couldn't be a scientist, threw Tommy under the bus with his science grade and yelled at Nico about CF. Another Mom of the Year award down the drain.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Not a Good 4th Grader

I should be a lot better at this than I am. I already went through it with Nico. I taught a semester of 5th grade so 4th should be a piece of cake. I remember my 4th grade teacher. Mrs. Arnold. She was an okay enough teacher. I think she was funny but she did this weird thing when she got mad. Her eyes bugged out. (I wonder if when I am yelling at my kids, if my eyes do that. Hmmm...I'll have to ask them.) Anyway, my point is that I didn't really like 4th grade the first time I went through it, I really hated it the second time (with Nico) and now, here I am again and I should be better at it but am not. Actually, I am liking it even less than when Nico was there.

I dislike book reports, reading logs, summaries, and the God...the states. All of this times two. Tommy, I think, has a photographic memory so memorizing where the states go isn't that hard for him but reading and finishing a book and then writing the summary for it is. He writes the summary with as little information as possible under the umbrella of "I don't want to ruin it for my teacher." Isabella's summaries are a novel and she gets very angry when someone (read: me or Tommy) tries to tell her that summaries are supposed to be a "glimpse" of the book and not the whole story. She does not have a photographic memory. She has to work really hard at memorizing the states and when she makes a mistake, she melts down about how she is going to fail (she has yet to fail any test that she has ever taken so my patience level for that meltdown is at 0). They've had a lot of time to learn these and work on these summaries but of course, now that they are due this week and the test is this week (Why? Why? Why in the same week?), everyone is in a panic. It's not that they haven't studied from the beginning. I had them work with each other. BIG MISTAKE. It always ended up in some form of violence (Belle towards Tommy and not all that undeserving). God forbid I ever work on it with one and not the other. There is a therapist's couch out there that someday one of them will be sitting on saying, "My mom loved him/her better because she helped more with the states and summaries." I could sound really organized and say that I set aside time to work with each of them so there is equal time but that would be a lie. In this house, we work on it in bits when there is time...we grab them when we can.

I know it is 4th grade and in the grand scheme of things, no one cares what grade you got on a test over the Central States or a book summary but when you are in the midst of it and it is their whole world, they care a lot. So much so that I feel like I am right back there. I have to say, I don't think Mrs. Arnold would be very proud of what I have remembered from her class. I know it is good to have common knowledge but do we really need to know the capitals of the states? I'm pretty sure that information is tucked away in my brain in the file: Things I forgot immediately after I was tested on it. It is right next to Algebra and the Periodic Table of Elements.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Family Chaos

It has been a chaotic four days. Good and bad chaos but chaos all the same. I don't care how early I get up to get ready, we are ALWAYS late. We set out all of our clothes and we are still late. The scene leading up to every family event or even every outing is always the same: me screaming at everyone to get in the car because we are late. I don't know how it organized I am but we cannot be on time. It is so annoying (which I mumble once we are on our way). In my opinion, I do blame Leo a little (I odd) but no matter what time I tell him he has to wake up, he doesn't budge from waking up fifteen minutes before we have to leave. He also thinks every place we have to go is 20 minutes away, even if it is more. This is a fight in the house because I have to get myself ready and make sure everyone else is getting ready (and get Gia ready) and then out of the house and in the car because I know it takes longer to get where we are going even though he is insisting otherwise.

Once we get where we are going, I want to take a family picture and a picture of the kids (could be a potential Christmas card and really is a nice memory to have to see how the kids have grown). My kids hate this now but do enjoy the ones from the past. Everyone moans and groans and I sound like a dictator trying to round everyone up. Gia, as you can imagine, is not cooperative at all. I am usually sweating trying to get it done. What kills me is that when I get dressed and leave my house, I usually am thinking: Not bad, this will do or having a good hair day and this outfit doesn't make me look fat. I would LOVE to know what the heck happens between that thought and the picture being taken? For the family picture on Thanksgiving, I looked like I had a helmet on and had already eaten about four turkeys. Not a good look and that will not be our Christmas card. I took one of the kids but can't use it because Tommy was still pouting about Isabella standing on her tip toes to be taller than him in the bad family picture, Gia was crying and Nico didn't like how he looked. Once that was done, the rest of the day was lovely. I had a great conversation with my uncle and got to hold my new nephew (who fell asleep on me for about an hour). My sister and my mom did a wonderful job of cooking and I ate myself into a coma.

Friday, we went back for leftovers and my darling little angel of a daughter learned a new I am SO proud of...that every mom would be proud of. Was it "love"? No. Was it "hope"? No. Thanksgiving? was "F***". That's baby doesn't really say much but that word comes out as clear as day and sometimes in the right context.

Saturday, I worked on the house. My mom and my sister came to help. My closet looks awesome and getting dressed was effortless. Just the kitchen remains and really, there isn't much to do except set up a system for all the paper that comes in.

Sunday, we had Marco's baptism. Same screaming scene to get out of the house. Same dictator trying to get a family picture. This time, though, I think I got one. Chaos trying to get to the house, chaos trying to get out of the house in order to go to church and then chaos in church. The deacon we had was really good and if I didn't have an almost 2 year old, I would have really enjoyed the ceremony but I just wanted to get out of church without being embarrassed. No such luck. Gia saw my mom and started yelling, "Nana!" I brought her outside in the hall where she ran around. There were other moms out there with their toddlers and when it was almost over, I said, "C'mon, Gia. Let's go get a cookie." Right in front of one of the other moms, Gia yelled, "No! F***!" That's right...that solidifies my Mother of the Year award right there.

The restaurant was equally fun with a baby who doesn't eat. I am starting to think she is a vampire baby (she might be the next Cullen). She doesn't sleep, she doesn't eat and lately, she thinks it is funny to try and bite me. She dropped a whole lot of  "f" bombs, was overtired and crabby and did we go home? No. We went to my other sister's house. The kids begged us and since our schedules are always so busy that we don't really get to see them very often (during football, Sundays were even hard), we went for a little bit. It is always so nice to spend time with my sister. She and my brother-in-law are two of the funniest people I know and I know that when I am with them, I'll end up laughing until my stomach hurts and I did. I am really close to my cousins so it makes me feel good that my kids are too.

Spending all of this time with my family reminds me of what is important. We are so lucky and so blessed to be a part of something so much bigger than just ourselves. My kids get to see first hand how important family is and how when we come together as a huge extended family, it is magical and special and something that we will remember for years to come.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Old School Activity About Thanksgiving

Remember doing this in elementary school? I'm revisiting this activity. Simple but effective:

T is for Tommy. I am thankful for his laid back personality and the way he makes me laugh. I love his cuddles and how he loves to be the center of attention no matter what he is doing.
H is for Husband. I am thankful that after 22 years, I am still wildly attracted to him and madly in love with him. He is still hilarious and tries very hard to make everyone happy. Thankful that I got one of the good ones.
A is for all my friends who I would be lost without. You are my sanity and I love the time I spend with you. Whether I have known you for a lifetime or just a short time, once you are in my heart, you are there forever. Thank you for all you do for me and the joy you bring me. I am thankful that I have the greatest friends in the world!
N is for Nico. I am thankful for the man he is growing to be. I am thankful that we have the kind of relationship where he knows he can come to me with anything. It might not be like that forever but I am thankful that it is like that now. He is a typical teenager who is a survivor and a fighter and I am proud of him every single day.
K is for kindness that in a world that is jaded, I am still lucky enough to find in neighbors and friends that are so kind they will give you the shirt off your back and pray for your family if asked.
S is for sisters. I am so thankful for the relationship with my sisters. Each one is my best friend in a different way. My mom and dad must have done something right because they are some of the best people I know in this world. It's true that even if they weren't my sisters, I'd still want them as my friends.
G is for Gia. I am so thankful that God blessed me with the surprise miracle that is is her. She is spunky and funny and stubborn like the rest of them but when she looks at me and says, "I wuuuuvvvv Mommeeee," my heart melts and all is right in the world.
I is for Isabella. I am so thankful for her kindness, compassion and most of all her help. When she loves something, she loves it with her whole heart. She is my biggest fan and I am hers.
V is for value and validation. I value and am thankful to all that read this blog. It has been a dream of mine to write for more than just myself and having people tell me they are reading or that they enjoy it or even that it made them think or motivated them to take action makes me feel good and validates that dream each time. Thanks to all that read it! I was going to say vacation for this one because I need one but I can't be thankful for something I haven't had yet. :)
I is illness. I am thankful that no one suffers from any today. Of course I just jinxed it but for once, no one woke up sick on a holiday. Yay!
N is for NO CLEANING today! I am thankful that my house is almost done and knowing that, I can take a break from cleaning today.
G is for great parents. I am so thankful for my mom and dad. The commitment they made over 40 years ago to raise a family has brought much happiness and joy to my life. I love them as parents and as friends. I still talk to my mom ten times a day and she is the first one I call when I am happy or when I am sad. If I am even half the mom that she is, my kids will be pretty lucky. Spending time with my dad is still one of my favorite ways to pass the time. I love his stories and his outlook on life. He never gives advice without being asked but when asked, he does it without judgement. He is the most reliable person I know and I love that I can count on him even as an adult. G is also for Gramps. I love you, Gramps and I am thankful for all the time I get to spend with you! I think you might be my biggest supporter and I love that you believe in me.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope that everyone's holiday is a blessed one filled with good food, good times and no drama (we can hope, right?).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I finished the boys' room! It was a huge job that took the better part of yesterday. Nico asked me if we could do it and knowing he wanted to get it done motivated him to help. Nico has the most clothes out of anyone. It's easy to figure out why. First, he is very clear on what he wants. Second, he is growing at an enormous speed so outgrows the ones he has pretty quickly (I'd be lying if I said this bothered reassures me that he is just like every other, normal, healthy 8th grader). Third, I don't have to feel guilty that there are hand me downs that he could be wearing so I shouldn't be buying him new clothes so the buying experience is a lot more gratifying. I have way too many bins of clothes for Tommy when he finally fits into them but am just not able (or have a desire to) go through the clothes and choose what to keep and what to donate. I have no idea what his taste in clothes will be in the coming years so in the store room they have gone.

What Nico and I wanted to accomplish was to give the boys more space in their room. There was no way to do that without getting rid of some of the bigger pieces. When we bought their bedroom set before Gia was born, it was with the intent to bunk them. We bought a really nice bunk bed set (more of a loft/bunk) that had a desk on one side and a book shelf/dresser on the other. Then we added a tall dresser because we are more dresser people than closet people. We were idiots. Changing sheets with bunk beds is the BIGGEST hassle. With the boys having CF, two things come into play. The first is that they sweat a lot when they sleep. A LOT! If I leave it (which is admittedly gross...and admittedly have done), it smells up the room pretty fast. The other is that I read on a CF message board that an older man that had it really felt that he stayed healthy by doing (this), (this) and (this) and one of the things was changing his sheets everyday so he wasn't sleeping in his own sweat and dirt. For some reason, this stuck with me and though on nights when they don't sweat too much, I don't change them, I have bought into this practice. Those two things and bunk beds do not mesh well at all. The beds were bunked for awhile because the boys swore they would help but after the hundredth fight, I had enough and we took them apart. That left a very crowded room.

I am happy to say that Nico and I did it. We tried to get Leo to help but he is really, really stubborn and wanted it his way (we wasted an hour arguing over whether or not to bunk them's easy to want to when you aren't the one changing the sheets). I wanted to do the room the boys' way since it was their room and I felt that if they had invested in doing it, they would be more apt to keep it clean. Nico and I moved all of the furniture, got rid of two big pieces (one to donate, the other in storage) cleaned out the closet and drawers, threw away or donated stuff and now they have a ton of space. Everyone (except maybe Leo) went to bed happy (really late, but happy).

The Cancer Federation is coming today to pick up the tons of stuff we donated and Amvets will be here on Monday for the overflow. I have boxes and crates of books ready to be sold (I need Leo's help to do that because there are a lot and they are heavy which scares me that it will take forever to get done). My closet and the kitchen are the only ones left. I'll tell you how bad of a time I am having doing my closet: I chose exercising, something I do not enjoy, rather than work on it. I broke in the treadmill. I said I was only going to see how it worked and only walk for 10 minutes. Well, 25 minutes later, I was still walking and watching TV. All to avoid cleaning my closet. Pretty sad.

Anyway, some progress is better than no progress. Tomorrow I will do my thankful post and hopefully, "I am thankful that my closet is done" will be on there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

On the Go and Phone Woes

I used to love that the kids had a whole week off of school the week of Thanksgiving. No waking up early. No homework. No running around making lunches or getting kids out the door. It was great. It was relaxing. It is no longer that way. I ran around today like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get things done. On the schedule today was having my bff over with her kids (she was going to help me finish my room while the kids hung out), driving Nico all over Wheaton so he could meet up with his friends (and have the dreaded sleepover that better last him awhile), going back to Target to buy things I forgot the first time and going to a friends for Monday Night Football (and I know the rest of Chicago is mourning Cutler's broken thumb but I have faith in Hanie. I kinda love him since he ran Nico's football camp one year and was so sweet to him). All I really wanted to do was finally break in the treadmill since my room is done and go to bed since I am tired all the way to the bones. The funniest part of my day:

I said yes to a sleepover with Tommy and one of his good friends. Tommy stayed there once and has been begging me to have him here. Isabella stayed at a friend's so it worked out. If you follow this or know me, you know how I feel about the sleepovers so I won't repeat it here (I hate them...oops, couldn't help myself). I didn't have any food for breakfast (I think Frankenberries is an acquired taste) so because Gia was still sleeping at 9:00, I ran to Target. I gave Nico instructions to get her when she cried and feed her toast. I told him to listen for her because she was going to wake up any minute.

While at Target, I tried to get in touch with Nico to tell him that Tommy's friend's mom was going to pick him up at 10:30 so he needed to eat something (she said he liked cereal). He didn't answer the phone. I called his cell which is usually glued to him and nothing. Now, that could either have meant he was busy with Gia or was in the basement and didn't hear the phone and if that was the case, if he didn't hear the phone, he wasn't going to hear Gia. I felt myself getting more and more mad. I mean, c'mon. I wanted to run to the store. I should be able to leave my 8th grader for an hour. I got home and yep...they were in the basement and Gia, luckily was playing in her crib. I was worried so I had to cut my Target trip short so I forgot a bunch of stuff I needed to get. That meant that at some point I'd have to go back and probably with the younger three kids. So much aggravation because he didn't just answer the house phone or his phone.

I left Leo a nice text wishing him a good day at work (he's a little stressed out these days) and I told him I loved him. He called me at the exact time I was mad about the phone thing and I went into my rant for about ten minutes. I talked about how Nico should know to have a house phone with him and that he is in charge of the other kids and how irresponsible it was to have a phone and not have it with him. I asked Leo why he was calling thinking it was to comment on the text I sent him and guess what he said? "I left my phone at home today so don't try and get in touch with me on that.", meet tree.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Update on the House and Mini Review: Breaking Dawn

We got a second dumpster and finished the basement (biggest job of the house), the two store rooms, Isabella's room and half the garage. I am still painstakingly doing my room. I have grown to really dislike working on it. Too many hurts dug up. Apparently that is where I hid or stored all things related to CF, infertility, my Nana and Papa's death, my Grams' death, Rocco's death and a gazillion clothes that don't fit or are out of style. Good times. Thanks to my good friend Jen's husband, Norm, my book shelf is put up and I am working on putting my books away (I like that part). I have to say that if I see one more picture of my kids or my family, I might puke. I wasn't kidding when I said I liked having tangible snapshots of moments in my life. I just didn't realize I had ALL of them. Up next is the kitchen and the boys' room. I have to take the books to Half Price Books (they are so heavy).

To take a break, I went and saw Breaking Dawn. I won't say too much except that it stayed true to the book. It was graphic and hard to watch in some places. I liked it because I really like any movie that brings the characters that I have enjoyed back (Sex and the City, Twilight, Something Borrowed). There are obvious things about all of these examples that I would have liked to have been different but just seeing them on the screen was enjoyment enough. I am on Team Edward but I have to admit that Jacob was pretty cute in this movie and if there was a Team Emmit, I'd be on that one. The worst part of the movie is that we have to wait a whole year before seeing the next part. I hate when they do that. I will, however, not be letting my kids go see it. I know Bella and Edward are married but there are still some images that I don't think need to be in their head. Just my opinion for my kids. As each his/her own.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Was Speechless

Those of you that were thinking it is impossible for me to be speechless, I was! I walked into the conference with Nico's gym teacher knowing exactly what I was going to say. I had the conversation over and over again in my head. Believe it or not, I hate confrontation. I just want everyone to get along. I want everyone to do their job and be fair. I was angry about a lot of things going on in P.E. and had a lot to say. When I made the conference, I was upset with 1st quarter so I made it with his first quarter teacher. I walked in and...HE WASN'T THERE! He did NOT show up. He sent his student teacher who had only been there the first week of 2nd quarter and didn't even know Nico. This spoke volumes to us. If something came up, he should have emailed or called letting us know he wasn't going to be there. It is really hard to get behind a teacher that I don't respect and a lot of what he has done this year has caused me to lose respect for him. Nico won't have him again this year so I am not pursuing the discussion.Nico's teacher now was there but I really didn't have an issue with him. We talked about the flag running and I did get my say in that just because a kid is an athlete doesn't mean he likes running because he said at curriculum night that if we have an athlete, they expect more. We disagreed on the respect issue. I don't think it is blatantly disrespectful that Nico jogs to get the flags. He thinks because he is an athlete and the job is to get 34 flags, he is being disrespectful by jogging. I wanted to say that because he is an athlete and was doing both football and basketball, he was riddled with injuries and fatigue (football was still going on when he had to go to intramurals before trying out for the basketball team) but I held back. I said something like that but he wasn't going to change my mind and I wasn't going to change his so what was the point? Leo and I both stated our opinion about the outdated practice of running for flags every Friday for the last 3 years and the gym teacher did say they were going to change it up.

The thing that bothers me was how much emphasis was placed on Nico being a leader because he is an athlete. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of Nico and how hard he works and if he ends up being a leader of some kind, great but that is a lot of pressure to put on a 13 year old who happens to play basketball for the school. I am truly flattered on some level that they think of him as having potential to be a leader. That is great. However, that being said, it was said that Nico has the ability to change the behavior of boys making bad choices. Maybe I am alone in feeling this way but I think it is ridiculous to expect Nico to tell another kid that he is making a bad choice. I can see him telling a friend of his to knock it off if he is goofing around but there are some scary kids in junior high and I'd rather him walk away when a kid is throwing food than try and get the kid to change his mind. They kept saying that he can set a good example and others will follow. He can most definitely behave himself but that is because that is what we expect him to do. I am not concerned with who is following his example. It's not my kid's job because he is an athlete to make sure everyone is behaving. A good friend said, "How about everyone is responsible for their own behavior and call it a day?" I agree. With all this emphasis on athletes, it is no wonder I see parents from Tommy's sports forcing their kids to play. What I want to know is what about the kids that are into drama? Student council? Band? Chorus? Can't they step out and be leaders? It left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. Being an athlete is not the end all be all. There is life besides sports. It's Nico's life because it is what he loves to do.

The rest of the conferences went really well with the teachers saying Nico was doing fine. I told them about his upcoming surgery which will be December 15th. He'll miss the field trip but other than that, they were very understanding. Nico's eighth grade experience is very different than his 6th and 7th. These teachers genuinely care about him and he has told me and they confirmed that he has built some good relationships with them. Besides gym, I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Drives Me Crazy

Nico had a game yesterday. I have said it before and I'll probably say it again but I really enjoy going to his games. I like going to all the kids' stuff. It's very cool to see your children doing something other than drive their siblings crazy. We played a team that during the "feeder" season didn't have the most do I say it...well, the nicest fans. They were screamers and they didn't care who they were screaming about. This was the school team so not every player from the feeder was there and there were other players that weren't on the feeder that were there.

When I walked in and saw the other team, I immediately saw their size. They were huge and they had muscles. They looked like they could have driven themselves to the game and then were maybe going to go out for a beer after. I thought that there was no way Nico's team was going to win. Nico played pretty well and it was an exciting game the whole way through. The thing that drives me crazy is that the way the gyms are set up in the middle schools or junior highs is that there is no home bleachers and no visitor bleachers. All of the parents sit together. Now, there should be an understanding that everyone out there is someone's child so we should watch what we say. We should really only yell things like "rebound, put your hands up, or nice shot." It should be a rule that you NEVER yell things about a specific child or number. Nico is a pretty aggressive athlete and so you can imagine how annoyed I was when every five minutes I would hear the guy behind me yell, "Watch #2. Stay on #2. Don't let #2 shoot. Who's got #2?" Yes, Nico is #2.  I didn't know if I should be annoyed (I was) or flattered (not so much) that he thought Nico was good enough to be yelling to watch out for him. I thought it was incredibly rude when he yelled specifically about one of our players and it wasn't, "Nice job." I turned around and looked at him. I turned around and frowned but he kept on yelling. If he had started yelling negatively about Nico, I swear I was all set to stand up and say, "I came here to watch my son play basketball and because you are ruining it by being very disrespectful, I am going to have to move." It was that bad. I felt bad for his son. When the game was tied, he started yelling from across the gym, "Open your freaking mouth and tell him to put you in!" Can you even imagine? I mean, you might think it but would you ever say it? Across a gym? When his son mouthed, "He won't," the dad started yelling, "Put---insert kid's name---in!" I was so embarrassed for that kid. Nico's team ended up winning the game and of course the dad made the excuse that it was because his kid wasn't playing or he alluded to that. I'm not sure which. He started talking to one of our parents and I had to walk away. I've said it before, when they cut out some of my tongue, I think they took my filter or my censor. I have Nico's conferences tonight with the first being the gym teacher that I am not a fan of. Should be interesting with no filter.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Cliche of My Stuff

It does not take a genius to figure out why I have so much stuff. Let me be clear here, I am nowhere near the people on Hoarders. I make jokes but we have found no dead cats so other than a gazillion pictures, books and clothes that I don't wear anymore, I think I am still okay. I do, however, have too much stuff and not enough space. When you are one of seven people living in a townhouse, you have very little space that is your own. Growing up, with five kids, it could get messy really fast but my mom was the Queen of Order. After I went to college, I loved the fact that everything I had in half of the little room was mine...all mine. I didn't have to share any of my hair stuff or my clothes or anything. If I didn't feel like making my bed, I didn't. If I didn't feel like hanging up my clothes, I didn't. It was incredibly liberating. The problem is that no matter how hard I tried to keep up with it, I just didn't. Everything else was more important. Then I got married and had a house I took pride in. The mail was always an issue so papers would pile up waiting to be looked at and then I married another saver so things just accumulated. We lived in a big house for the two of us so there was a lot of space for our stuff. We had one whole room that was the overflow room. Then we had Nico and I wanted to give him the world. He had so many toys and books and clothes. It made me so incredibly happy to buy clothes for him. He was the best dressed kid...a total Gap kid. It doesn't take a professional to see that since I was having trouble giving him a sibling, I instead gave him material things. I didn't want to think about not being able to get pregnant again, so I filled that void by buying things for the child I did have. Then I did get pregnant and things were under control. We found out Nico and Tommy had CF and I'm pretty sure that is where the big "saving stuff" began. I didn't know what the future long...and I just couldn't throw away anything of theirs. It wasn't fair to just save their stuff so I saved Belle's as well. I had bins for their stuff (never big enough) but no place to put the bins. I'm not was bad. I even saved a whole phone because it had the answering machine built in and it was Nico singing "That's Amore". How could I throw that away? What if...

Going through the house like I am, I am overwhelmed by the pictures. I love that I have them but I have thousands of loose pictures (thank God for Shutterfly, though I can't use it because I don't have a computer I can download pictures to). I remember trying to scrapbook but getting lost in the moments of the pictures. I love my pictures. I love all the ones that are in frames and want them all over the house (tastefully, of course). To have a moment captured the way pictures can I get rid of them?

We have already talked about my books and I am doing well with getting rid of a lot but even so, I'll probably have close to a hundred books that are mine and who knows how many that are the kids'. A lot of the kids' books filtered over from my teaching days and it is hard to let those go. It took me years to build up a very impressive library. I love to read and it is so much a part of who I am that it is hard to cut back. My good friend told me I should start going to the library but that never worked for me. I hated giving them back and I hated being on a deadline of when to read them. Then they'd get lost and I'd end up paying for the book anyway.

I am working on my closet and the kids' closets right now and I have to say...I'm pretty stuck. I have the hardest time getting rid of clothes unless they don't fit. Even then, I will fit into that size 0 dress again, right? Someday, right? Now that I have the treadmill, I will, I will! Let's face the time I will fit into that dress again, I will be a shrunken little old lady and it will be out of style or I'll end up wearing it at my own funeral and I'm pretty sure it is a rule not to hang onto a dress that will only fit you after you die.

After Rocco died and I had Gia, things got even worse. I LOVE being a mom of a baby again. I got to experience all the new things that are out since having the twins. I love to buy her clothes and books because she loves them. Does she need 12 fleece sleepers? No. Do I love to buy one in each style? Yes. I think now that I am aware of it, half the battle of keeping it under control is won. She's just as cute with 5 sleepers as she is with 12.

I will say that I think clutter keeps things warm. My middle level is all of a sudden freezing. Anyway, it doesn't take a mental health expert to figure out why I save things. Material things are easily accessible, they don't get sick and they don't die. It is a cliche for a's true.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Asking For Help

It goes without saying if you read this blog that I have difficulty asking for help. I mean, I have done it. I did it this past weekend but still, even while we were working on the house, I felt guilty that they had given up their weekend for us. Sunday came and I still wanted them to come over because they gave me the strength to get it done (and they have really good ideas). I could analyze why I needed the strength but that is for another post. I enjoyed the help because I can't wait until I'm all organized. I can't wait for the feeling of knowing where everything is. I can't wait to feel more in control. I didn't know if asking was too much so I didn't. If they showed up, I'd gladly use the help but I felt funny asking. All of our lives are busy and I didn't want to be one more thing on their "to do" list.

Then came Gia's crisis. I did what I normally do and called who I normally call but I couldn't ask what I wanted to ask. Why can't I just call and say, "I need this, this and this?" Why do I have to have people just do it? I have a feeling that's always how it is going to be. I just can't do it. I can't ask. Half the time I am in flight mode and I don't even know what I need when I need it. I really am that bad. After Rocco died, I could not form a complete thought about what I needed. I literally had friends that would call and say, "I'm picking you up for breakfast." My sisters would call and say, "I'm coming over." I couldn't even tell them that I needed them to. We had the fundraisers and they were so hard for me to go to that I appreciated when people just knew that I needed them there. When I had the whole mouth thing, I appreciated so much when a couple of friends just showed up with soft food for me to eat. I would have felt funny asking anyone to do that so it was a huge relief that they just did it. When the bible study said, "We are bringing you dinner," it was another weight off my chest. Again, I would never have asked but it saved me a lot of stress. I get tired of being the "friend in need" and feel like I've used up my quota of asking for things. I know it's not fair to expect my friends and family to know what I need but that sure beats asking and having them say, "no."
There are people that thrive on helping and being needed and lucky for me, I am usually on the other end of that so I have many friendships that flourish because of that. My question is, when are those friends going to let me be the one they lean on? When do I get to be the one they need? That way, I am not always the taker but also the giver. I know most people are more comfortable being the giver and I am no different. I meant what I said about having great friends. I had more people tell me that their friends wouldn't do that for them. It is a part of the blessing of being friends with these women. Once they let you in, there is nothing they wouldn't do for you. I just don't want to overstay the welcome by asking too much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Without Some Form of Drama

I woke up early yesterday morning, showered and got ready for Isabella's competition. Gia woke up and I was able to finish her room and bag all of her clothes for donation and make room to put her clothes in drawers and hang up in the closet. It was something I kept meaning to do and I'm so glad it is done. My mom and I went to Belle's competition. With the house the way it was and Gia being out of sorts, I thought it was better for them to stay home. I think Belle was fine with just my mom and me there. While they did well and I am so proud of all their hard work, they came in second and won't be going to State this year. I could say what is politically correct and be devastated for them but after this year with Belle's wrist and how not fun Gia was at games and hustling from game, to game to game, I was so ready for this season to be over. Belle was never quite the same after her wrist injury because she couldn't stunt or do her back handspring. She kept saying, "Cheerleading is my passion and I messed it all up by getting hurt." I will say that I absolutely LOVE the other cheer moms and will miss seeing them as often as I do. They are the most down to earth, funniest women I know (and I swear I am not just saying that because they read this). They make going to the competitions so much fun. After climbing to great heights to get seats, almost falling after having to climb over some pipes and then texting the coaches to find out if we were on the right side, we ended up sitting next to the biggest, most obnoxious, over the top group of fans I have ever seen at a cheer competition. We are talking shirts, flashy pom thingies to shake, jar of pebbles to shake, signs and screamers. HUGE screamers. I don't think I'll be able to hear the word, "blue" for awhile without thinking of the guy behind me (if he looked like Tim Riggins, it wouldn't be so bad but he was more Chris Farley). Girls, thanks for an afternoon of laughs. Coaches, if you are reading, thank you! See you next year!

Now for the drama of the day and no, it wasn't at the cheer competition (though there were tears). Tommy was playing with Gia. He was holding her, he tripped over a basket and fell with Gia on another basket that happened to be wire. She screamed. I panicked. Tommy cried and I think was pretty scared that he really hurt her (it always seems to be with him that stuff like that happens). I felt a bump on her head so I put ice on it (or tried to put ice on it). I felt for the bump and looked at my hand and saw blood. I looked and I know that the head bleeds a lot but I don't care. When you see your child's blood, you go into flight mode. Of course it happened on a Sunday night when Leo was playing basketball. I called a friend and asked if the kids could call her if they needed her. I called another asking if her husband, who had just left my husband knew where he was playing basketball and she said some church and then she came to the ER. It was worse than it looked. It was good that we went. They cleaned it out and said that a bump is a good sign. It means it isn't bleeding inside. She checked out not even needing stitches. I am thankful that it could have been a lot worse. Thank you to my friends once again for letting me call you. Just think, once my house is where I want it, I won't be such a needy friend.

To my friends that helped both with the house and the crisis, I'd be lost without you!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Project House

Sorry that I have not been writing. Purging the house takes every single minute of the day. The dumpster was delivered on Friday morning and by then we had already started on the dining room (the room where all papers get stacked) and filled two garbage bags. The dumpster was a HUGE disappointment. It only fit the wood from the deck. And yes...the deck is no longer!! It is down. Gone. Bye, bye Holiday Inn for the critters. I am so bummed because I really wanted to throw a lot of stuff away and now we are going to have to wait until free garbage day and hope they'll take it. Speaking of hoping they'll take it. We have a huge donation for Amvets. It is all the way down the porch.

I had dreams of a library but instead, I am either going to donate my books or sell them at the half off bookstore. While not being able to sleep, I came upon a realization. Having a lot of books on parenting isn't going to make me a better parent and having a lot of books on organizing isn't going to make me organized so I am getting rid of all those books. Having books on writing might make me a better writer so I am keeping those. The diet books are teetering on the verge of being thrown away but I'm still on the fence. There are some spiritual books that are worth keeping but some might be able to help someone else. I love my fiction books but I'll select a few to keep and either box up or give away the rest. My goal is to fill a bookcase and what fits stays and the rest goes. Getting rid of books was huge for me.

The house is still in "upside down mode" but it's a start. Some rooms are done, some are almost done, some have not been touched yet. Leo was a huge obstacle in what I was and still am trying to accomplish. He does not like change at all. If he had his way, every corner would still be stacked high with junk and no furniture would ever be moved. My living room is once again a room I love to be in. It is my room (and Gia's). We moved my desk so that I can work while Gia plays in her section of the room and I LOVE it. It's my own corner and so far, my favorite.

Other big news is that I am now the proud owner of a treadmill's in my room!!! Let the walking begin. It is quiet and it is my ticket to productive TV watching. I have a bookcase that is going to go up in my room, too so soon, my room will be added to favorites in the house. Leo got to keep his overgrown guppy that was expensively stuffed and hanging on our mantle so all in all, I'd say he made out as well.

I have the greatest friends in the world! They gave up the better part of their weekend to come and help us and though it wasn't without a LOT of laughs, a few breakdowns and a lot of eating and drinking, it means the world to Leo and me to have them. We are enormously blessed!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Would Like to be Done

I am so tired of dealing with the brick wall that I am met with when dealing with my children. Yesterday, I had to go to a doctor's appointment for Nico without Nico! He had a test and a presentation for two of his classes and couldn't miss school. It was fine. He needs surgery to remove his polyps in his nose. It will be his 7th. I told the doctor that his nurse said he was booked until after the holidays. He said not to worry and he'd fit him in. I got the call that the only day they could squeeze him in was December 15th. Their last day of school before the break is the 16th and he'll miss a basketball game (I think the last of the season before playoffs). He went ballistic when he found out he was going to miss a game. I want to be done trying to find a good time for Nico's appointments and surgery. Health comes first. I am tired of trying to get that through his head. We got good news about Tommy. He does not need surgery and the antibiotics that he was taking took care of his tonsils so they don't need to come out either.
Tommy had a book summary he had to do and my lovely, smart, youngest son wrote one and asked me to read it. He said, "I don't know why everyone thinks this is so hard. It was easy. They do it for you on the back of the book." Yes, my son used the back summary as his summary and when he found out that wasn't allowed (Leo checked it and said it sounded really good. Well, yes, the professionals really do know what they are doing) melted down that he had to come up with his own. I wanted to be done right then.

Isabella has a math test today that she has been studying for all week. She had a complete meltdown when there was a long division problem on the study guide and when she went to do it, she said she had no idea. She went into a full blown panic yelling at Leo that she "doesn't even know what decimals have to do with division." I calmly told Leo they were probably doing "remainders not decimals" when she completely exploded that she had no idea what I was talking about and that she was going to fail. I said maybe they hadn't studied it yet and she looked at me like I was an idiot. She rolled her eyes and said, "Why would it be on the study guide? The test is in two days!" She ranted for a few more minutes before I decided I was done and sent her to bed thinking she had to be overtired.
I told Nico he needed a haircut and again was met with argument after argument. He told me the girls like it long and he likes it long. He doesn't have that kind of hair where long hair looks good. It gets really red and moppy (I think I just made up a word). Anyway, Leo took him and left him on his own while Leo got his hair cut and Nico got a military-like buzz cut. I mean you don't have to be psychologist to know why he did it. Control. I told him I wanted his hair cut, we forced him to go and the only control he had was telling them what to do. It was like saying, "You want me to get a haircut? I'll show you...I'll cut it ALL off." He spent the rest of the night asking me if he looked okay and did I like it? He is so stuck between wanting to be independent and still seeking approval. Little does he know that I am about to be done with the haircut fight.

Bedtime in this house is a joke. I want to be done forcing children to go to bed. The only one that doesn't give me a hard time is Gia. Isabella views going to bed as a punishment no matter what time it is. It could be 11:00 and when I say, "Go to bed," it is met with a crying and stomping of feet and a "But I wasn't doing anything wrong!" 9:00 is when I tell the kids to go to bed and it is seriously 11:00 and they are still coming into my bedroom telling me they can't sleep. The boys share a room and one bugs the other constantly and it changes every night. It is so annoying and I have been known to say, "Get back in bed. I love you but I don't want to see your cute, little face again until morning" or some version with a few curse words thrown in. Then, in the morning, they are impossible to get up. Each night, as a consequence, they have to go to bed earlier but that just means the "I can't sleeps" start earlier. I want to be done being responsible for them getting up but I have already discussed what happens when they are the only ones responsible for getting up and getting out of the house (no one hears their own alarm clocks).

On the opposite note of being done, I am just getting started with the purging of the house. The dumpster has been ordered and we have friends coming to help tear down the deck and I looked outside and saw SNOWFLAKES! I am starting to get the feeling that God is laughing and that it is in His plan that I remain the Queen of Chaos.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Spoke Too Soon: A Neighbor Rant

The timing of this is pretty funny. I just posted how I was thankful for my neighbors and then yesterday, this older neighbor was out walking his dog. Gia and I were playing in the living room, looking out the window at all the leaves blowing in the wind. This man and his dog (a boxer) stopped and right in front of Gia and me, his dog pooped. I waited for him to pick it up and guessed it...he did not. I was livid. I knocked on my window (not sure what I thought that would do other than let him know I saw what he just did) and his response was to cross the street around the corner (remember, I live on a corner). I went outside (that's how mad I was), looked at the little present his dog left and yelled, "Nice...real nice!" I want very badly to pick up the poop and put it in a baggie with a note that says, "I believe this belongs to you. I do not have a dog but have children that play in the yard. Please be respectful and pick up after your dog." I mean, I know when a dog has to go, he has to go but can he at least try and steer him toward a house that has a dog if he's not going to pick up after him? One of the reasons I don't have a dog is that I am so busy cleaning up after the four kids, I don't want to clean up after a dog, too (the other reasons are that I am really allergic to most breeds and the ones I am not, Leo has refused and my kids are a lot like Lenny from Of Mice and Men where they would crush anything small or from the toy breed). I want to tell this man that if my kids were on his property and messed it up, I'd clean up after them so I would appreciate him cleaning up after his "kid".  I just cannot believe the nerve of walking your dog and not caring where it goes to the bathroom and leaving it for someone else to clean up. A sad part is that I am from a family of boxers and each time this man walked by with his, it made me think of my Papa. Safe to say, not anymore. Do you remember when Nico got staples in his head? Well, that stemmed from stepping in dog poop. Now that I have seen with my own eyes what this man did, it makes me think he was the cause of it which makes me even more mad. I guess I should change what I am thankful for to: I am thankful for respectful neighbors.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Sister, Chrissy

Life was the most chaotic when it was Chrissy's birthday and I didn't get to do a tribute post about her so I am going to do it now. While LeeAnna was my introduction to babies, I was only 5 so I couldn't do much with her when she was a newborn. I was seven when Chrissy was born so I was able to feed her and change her so she really felt like she was mine. It was like having a live doll. Chrissy was the youngest of 5 girls so she really never had to talk until she was about 5. We all talked for her. What is funny is that I remember her talking when she was little and only the sisters understanding her. She was a "Mommy's girl" even back then and a homebody for as long as I can remember. She loves comfy clothes and slippers and manages to make them look like the newest fashion trend. She could make wearing a garbage bag look like the most beautiful piece of clothing and she always has a cute hairdo. She reminds me a lot of my mom in that way. Growing up, it could be 7 o'clock at night and no one could find her and that's because she crawled into her bed and went to sleep and was done for the night. She is still a lot like that. Then at the crack of dawn, she'd be up for the day. Even today, she is my first phone call of the day and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I don't remember when she and I became as close as we are today. I don't remember a lot of when she was in high school because I was already in college and I was living on my own when she was in college.  She was always close to Leo (she was 10 when we started dating) so that helped when we got married. She was over at our house a lot and when I started having babies, she was a rock and so helpful, I credit her to staying sane...especially when I had the twins. All of my kids loved their "Aunite Kissy" and still do. I remember vacationing with her once in Vegas and even now, it was one of the best vacations I have ever been on. She and I are so alike when it comes to knowing what we need to make us happy and we like the same things on vacation: sitting by a pool with a frosty drink, good food, visiting the spa and a little bit of shopping. We did go to a club and it was fun but when we were done, we were done.

She is one of the strongest people I know. She stands firm in her beliefs and opinions and if she doesn't feel right, she'll let you know. When you think of Chrissy, you think of loyalty. When Chrissy lets you into her heart, you are there forever. There is NOTHING she wouldn't do for you. She is the sister you call when you are mad and you want someone else to be mad with you...even if you are wrong. Even now that she is a mom, she still offers to babysit for my kids which I think is crazy. I love, love, love that Gia and her son Vinnie, who I am the proud Godmother of, love each other so much. They will be close because Chrissy and I are close. We try to see each other once a week besides the Sunday dinners and it gives us a chance to talk and a little break while our kids play. Even though, Gia is my 4th and Vinnie is her first, I still call her with issues about Gia. It's nice going through this with someone you love so much. I always knew from how she was with my kids that she'd be a great mom and she is. Vinnie is very lucky to have such a dedicated mom. She is expecting her second baby next year and I can't wait to see her family grow. We tease her a lot and tell her that Ricky, her husband, must have the patience of a saint but the truth is, she loves him and loves Vinnie so fiercely, I think they are the lucky ones.

Chrissy, if you are reading this, I have watched you grow from the baby of our family to a beautiful wife and mother. You are one of my best friends and I'm so glad I get to share this time with you. Love you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

An Extra Hour

I love this part of Daylight Savings. I love to think of what I would do with the extra hour. Here are my ideal ways to spend it:

Catching up on a good book
Going to church (something that is very hard to do normally but when we have to set the clocks back, more attainable)
Spending it with my sisters who I haven't seen in two weeks (feels like the longest ever)
Getting the house ready for the dumpster
Getting the laundry done
Running some overdue errands
Send work out to publishers
Make room in my room for a treadmill (can't wait to put TV watching to good use)
Catch up what's on the DVR
An extra hour at Target or Barnes and Noble :)

The reality is that Leo will spend the extra hour sleeping and I'll have one more hour of chasing Gia around until she goes down for a nap. The twins will have an extra hour of fighting and Nico will have an extra hour of bugging me to hang out with friends since he didn't all weekend. Or Leo will have his own ideas of how to spend it and it will have nothing to do with any of the above ideas.

The boys both lost their games in two heartbreaking games yesterday. They both played well and that is really all they can do. I am thankful that with all they battle, it is pretty amazing that both were in the Superbowl. Both of them had great seasons and triumphed over illnesses and injuries. I am immensely proud of both of them. I hope they attack what they want in life the same way they attack the football (or the other team). I am thankful for their coaches. The boys are both better football players for having been coached by them.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Busy Saturday so Some Videos to Entertain

Our day is crazy today with Nico having football practice this morning, Tommy's Superbowl game at 1:00, his basketball game at 4:40, me taking Gia to my mom's to watch her (thank you 100x's Mom!) for Nico's Superbowl game at 7:00. I'm tired and it hasn't even started yet.

Here are two songs that I can't get out of my head right now:

This one is on the Breaking Dawn soundtrack but I first heard it on the radio and it gets me every single time I hear it for a bunch of different reasons.

This next one I also love for a bunch of different reasons depending on the mood I am in when I hear it but I am a HUGE Adele fan at the moment and her songs unlock the writer's block I sometimes get.

And then I can't resist this one:


Friday, November 4, 2011


Today I am thankful for the 3 hours I had at Barnes and Noble last night. I read a little and wrote a lot and loved sitting there in the quiet of my thoughts. I got lost for three hours in the fiction I was writing and all the possibilities of the non-fiction I was reading. I truly am a different person when I get to steal away there for a few hours.

I am VERY thankful that the mouse problem is no longer! It's been over a week and nothing! I still think I was right about the bricks in the front but just in case, the deck is coming down a week from now. I have reclaimed my house! I was extrememly relieved to hear that other neighbors were having a problem as well. I still don't like it but it was nice to know we weren't the only ones running a Holiday Inn for Mice.

I am also thankful for friends that make me laugh. I got to spend some time with some friends that I don't get to see nearly as often as I would like and the irony is that we only live a few houses away. My stomach still hurts from laughing so hard. I truly am blessed to know such big-hearted, down to earth, fun to be with women who let me barge in on them for a night. Somehow I ended up feeling like the fundraiser that I spoke of in earlier posts was a night that they all looked forward to which relieved a lot of guilt I felt about that and then I am pretty sure I agreed to host the neighborhood cookie exchange. I'm not a very neighborly neighbor. I will cook a meal for anyone in need and wave and chat as neighbors go by but I stay in my house a lot or am not home at all so I don't know all that many very well. Which is odd because my neighbors have helped me through some really rough times. I think of hosting the cookie exchange as the same as a runner training for a marathon. They go for practice runs to get ready for the big run. Since I am hosting Christmas Day and there is a lot of pressure (put on by myself) to make sure it becomes a special memory, the cookie exchange will be practice for hosting a large party. It also gives me some motivation to get stuff done around here.

I think the neighbor relationship is a tough one to navigate through of all the relationships. You live in close proximity so you know a lot of each other's business. It's very hard to set clear boundaries and a lot of times they become big, gray muddied lines. Kid issues, lawn issues, pet issues, adult issues, sports issues, school issues...all the issues rolled up into one. I have actually had to switch sleeping from a night shirt to sweats because my house has a lot of window and neighbors can see right into my house and it might make sense to buy blinds but the people before us put in really expensive shades that don't come down (and Leo is not really a "change the look" kind of guy). Often times they see the worst of you (screaming for your kids to come inside for the 10th time or what the lawn looks like after weeks of neglecting it). I live on a corner house and I always feel bad that we aren't better at shoveling in the winter. I once made a joke that we were going to put up a sign on the sidewalk that said, "Closed for the Season." They have also seen the best of you (laughing until your stomach hurts, at the park with your kids or at neighborhood or school events) and in times of need they rally together to build you back up. We are not Wisteria Lane but with all the drama that goes on in this community, we are pretty darn close and who better to chat about that then your neighbors who are going through the same things or are in the middle of all the drama as well?

Let's face it, we've grown up with our families, we choose our friends but we have no choice of who we live by or who moves in next to us. I feel very thankful that I get along with all my neighbors which makes me think...I hope we aren't the neighbors that everyone is wishing would move.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Taking Some Advice

In what world does water spill on a laptop twice in two months? Oh, wait...that's right...MINE!!! Yep, one of the kids spilled a glass of water on Leo's old computer...the one that I was using. Now I am on my old one. This one is the most frustrating piece of electronics in this house (okay, maybe second to the half screen TV). It is slow. Its keys stick. The mouse doesn't work. I can't get on my iTunes. I still can't respond to my own blog. Ugghhh...but at least I have one, right? On that note, I am thinking that we are a desk top family rather than a lap top family.

I am going to take the advice (for today) of another "Mommy blogger" that I follow that I enjoy very much: My Front Porch Swing. She blogged on what parents and spouses shouldn't post on Facebook. I got permission from her to post a link to her blog and you should check it out. She brings up a good point. I don't post a lot of rants as my statuses but I do post my blog which has a lot of rants in it. If you follow me, I hope that it goes without saying that I love my husband and kids. I know it does but like any other parent parenting in this world of chaos, I can get caught up in negativity. I sat down today with every intention of not posting anything negative so I won't discuss how I had to rush Gia to the doctor with a 103.5 fever because she was shivering and listless and it scared me (double ear infection and is fine now) and I left my house looking like someone kidnapped Gia and me and that was the moment I got a "pop over" visit from someone I respect immensely and would like to appear as if I have it all together. I also won't discuss how the 8th grade boy has got to be the most stubborn creature on the planet. Instead, I will jump on the Facebook bandwagon of posting 30 days of thankfullness.

Since I missed a few days I'll do a few:

I am thankful for my cleaning lady who, by the way, is 2 hours late but still...I have one and I am thankful for her. She makes it so that it is one less thing I have to think about and for that, I love her (it was a different one from before however now that there isn't one here right now, I think I am going to get the original one...the judgemental one). Still...I have one and she is coming today and that is good.

I am thankful that all Gia had was a double ear infection and that the antibiotics worked immediately.

I am thankful that I thought the cleaning lady was going to be here at 9 so the house is already straightened up so I can write in my blog on this computer that won't type the letters, "n" or "k" but it is better than no computer at all.

What are you thankful for today?

On a side note, if you are a blogger that reads mine, you have my permission to post mine. Just let me know you are.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fundraising: Part 2

The luncheon turned into a dinner and we did that for about 5 years. I really wanted it to be an event that people looked forward to going to and knew when it would be every year so planned to go and either show their support and maybe have a nice evening out (and even get some Christmas gifts out of the way). I know it is not how fundraising works but I had no interest in trying to "beat" it every year. If we did, great but if not, we still raised a lot of money that wouldn't have otherwise been raised. It became really hard to manage pulling it off and living our lives. I wanted to be at my kids' games and not in meetings. It was hard to give up control. I tried handing it over for other people to run but then felt guilty that I wasn't doing more to help. I didn't want it to be an event where the personal touch was lost but in fundraising that should matter. It's about the "funds" being "raised". Needless to say, I am not a good fundraiser. I wasn't even a girl scout because I didn't want to sell cookies. For cheerleading, I think I ate all the candy bars and then just wrote a check for them. Once we started raising money for CF, I stopped frequenting businesses that said no. I never asked Barnes and Noble because I was too afraid they'd say no and I'd have to stop going there. Thank God Target donated money (and so did Jewel). The CF dinner was emotional with speeches from the boys and I would begrudgingly do one as well.
We are taking a break this year. The hardest part of doing the fundraiser was that it put CF in the forefront of our lives. I like it to stay in the background. I don't do well when it is the focus. I want to make it clear that it is just a break and that we will be doing something next year. We can't stop raising money, not just for a cure but for new meds too. The boys are doing so well because of all the money raised and the new meds that they take. It is not without guilt that we are taking the break but it was well needed by all of the committee members. We have some ideas swirling around like: Breakfast with Santa or a three on three basketball tournament. If anyone is interested in helping us out next year, let me know. We could always use help on the committee and new ideas are always welcome.

It's easy to forget that the boys battle anything but we need to make sure that it stays that way. If you are interested, check out: Miracle Mission. You can see how we are trying to raise money and how we have already raised some. It also has a history if you don't already know ours. Remember, just because we aren't doing the dinner, there are other things going on to raise money for CF and you can always make a donation to the CF Foundation in the boys' names. Please remember in doing so, you are making a difference in the lives or Nico and Tommy.

Fundraising is a lot like's a lot of believing without seeing. Believing that the money is going to eventually help while still battling the disease. We have seen better meds come through so we know our efforts are paying off so just like faith...we get a glimpse of miracles here and there. Thanks for being a part of them. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fundraising: Part 1.

When we found out that Nico and Tommy had CF, the last thing on my mind was fundraising. I didn't know how I was going to manage two boys with a chronic illness and as much as I wanted a cure, it seemed to be a daunting task. When Tommy ended up in the hospital at two months old, and I saw what the disease does to kids, I couldn't sit back and do nothing. We started out doing the Great Strides walk in Schaumburg that they have every May. We sent out letters to recruit walkers to raise money. If they couldn't walk, they usually sent a donation. After the walk, we rented out a clubhouse and had a big party that Lou Malnati's catered. The first year, we raised almost $40,000. It felt like a million dollars but the reality was, you don't give the CF Foundation the check and get a cure in return but it still felt good. The next few years, interest waned and we ended up raising less and less. Even when it was $20,000, it still felt like I failed since it wasn't as much as the year before.

We did a few bar events and they were always successful and if my kids didn't battle the disease, probably fun but since they do, I always had a hard time going. It was hard to look around and see people having a blast knowing the reason we were there. Inevitably, I'd be introduced to someone as "the mom of the kids that have it." It has taken me years of therapy and a lot of faith to accept that it is what it is and let it roll off my shoulders.

One year we were doing the walk and someone walked by with a shirt that had a picture of a girl and said, "Walking in memory of..." Nico asked me what that meant and I didn't know what to say. I think I said, it means that they are walking for that girl and left it at that. It hit me like a ton of bricks that people are still dying from a disease that my kids battle. The next year, a women walked up to me and asked if the boys were my kids. She went on to cry for about a half hour explaining that her daughter had just died from CF that winter. I just sat there listening to her and then hugging her when she cried but inside my head I was screaming, "NOT MY KIDS! NOT GOING TO HAPPEN." I was done doing the walk after that and haven't been back since.

We graduated from the walk to a luncheon and called it "All I Want For Christmas is a Cure". It was uplifting, cozy but still really hard. It was hard, at first, to put our lives out there and ask for help. Obviously I have gotten over the putting our lives out there but the asking for help is still an issue...asking for money a bigger one. One of the saddest things for me was when Nico was given a check to give the head of the CF Foundation that put us over the $100,000  mark and he started jumping up and down excited. He was yelling, "Did we do it? Did we get the cure? Do we have enough money to get the cure?" The poor kid thought that the cure was out there and that we just couldn't afford it.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of All I Want For Christmas is a Cure.