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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Insurance Rant

This is a big one...one that I lost sleep over last night and will probably continue to lose sleep over for years to come. Insurance. I KNOW I am not alone in this and that half the country is dealing with similar issues or worse. The numbers of people that are living without insurance are staggering so I know I am lucky to have such good insurance. Really, I know I am. The boys meds alone costs $12,000 a month without insurance. Because we have good insurance, we only pay a copay. You can then appreciate the fear that we had when Leo was out of work. Our insurance does two annoying things. One is that once in awhile you have to send something in to say you don't have any other insurance and second, every time one of us goes to the lab or Urgent Care, we have to send something back with Leo's signature. Until we do, they won't process the claims. Whatever. It is tedious and not what this rant is about. With two kids that have chronic issues and all the medical stuff I had last year, we had a lot of doctor's appointments and a few surgeries with some emergency room visits.

All of a sudden, I was getting a lot of bills that the insurance wouldn't cover. I called and was shocked to find out several things. One was that the anesthesiologist wasn't in network so we had to pay out of pocket. I painstakingly found a doctor that was in network at a hospital that was in network. No one told me that I had to or even could choose my anesthesiologist. Along those same lines, I picked an oral surgeon for the biopsy of my tongue. I called and made sure it was covered. I didn't know that it was up to me to tell him what lab I wanted the sample sent to. The lab wasn't in network. It's my own ignorance from not having dealt with this before that I didn't find out if he could send it to another lab.  I didn't even know it was an option. I took Tommy to the ER when he had those bumps on his legs and couldn't walk. I took him to a hospital in network. They ran a bunch of tests never once telling me that I should call and make sure they were covered. How in the hell am I supposed to know in an emergency situation that one of the tests isn't covered?! I called the hospital and asked that the paperwork be sent to me so I can appeal it with the insurance and that I was working on getting it paid and to not take further action. I still haven't gotten the paperwork. Instead, I got a call that they sent it to collections. I am fuming! I know this stuff happens all the time and Leo has assured me that it is going to get taken care of but I hate this crap so much! I followed their stupid rules. I called to make sure it was covered. I went in Network and I still get slammed with uncovered services. Again, I know I am lucky to just have insurance. I get that but with Nico and Tommy and the endless appointments that might be ahead, I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel of dealing with insurance issues. It just fires me up that the insurance companies will go to any length not to pay a bill that they are supposed to...that and the gazillion loop holes that get them out of paying. It takes a mountain of paperwork and hours of time and arguing (and I really hate confrontation) before they will do what they are supposed to do. So frustrated right now. You know, I used to fantasize that if I came into a lot of money I'd get a nanny or a housekeeper or a cook or maybe even a driver? Well, not anymore...now...I'd get an assistant to take care of insurance issues. Do you know how hard it is to take care of things over the phone when you have a 2 year old screaming for "SNACKIES!!!" or "'Mon, Mommy, 'mon!!!" (c'mon, Mommy) or "Pickee upee!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

Update on Today

We had a very successful morning! I talked to a neighbor that I don't get to see very often because of our schedules (and I am a hermit) and every time I do, I am reminded that I wish I saw her more. I sat with three moms of boys in Tommy's grade. Tommy was friends with one in Kindergarten and first grade but then they weren't in class together after that. They are going to be on the same baseball team so maybe that friendship will rekindle. Gia ran into the babysitting room and never looked back. They said at one point she asked for me but never cried. I think I can start bringing her on Sundays which means I won't have to rely on Leo being home and might even get him to come with me to church. The speaker was my neighbor and she did a fantastic job teaching us what is myth and what is reality when it comes to nutrition and fitness. I came out of the meeting really wanting to do more as a family. We are going skiing (if there is enough snow) this week (yes...we are the bad parents taking the kids out of school for two days and no, it doesn't really bother me) so that is a good start. I really want to find a yoga or exercise class to do with Belle. I mentioned before that two of the classes I wanted to do with Gia were cancelled. That still bums me out.

All in all, I learned a lot and was motivated to start eating healthier and get moving, Gia got to play with kids her own age, I felt a little closer to belonging to the church and I GOT A TWO HOUR BREAK!!!! I also came away from it wishing that Wheaton Bible offered a "Mom's Morning" or "Mom's Afternoon" once a week. It made me so happy to know she was with kids her own age. A lady did stop me when we were leaving and said that Gia was sad (not crying) so she took her on a walk and Gia ended up playing with some bigger kids and was happy again. That doesn't surprise me that she feels most comfortable with older kids since she is always with Tommy and Belle but it is another reason why I have to start surrounding her with kids her own age.

I Might Be Getting a Break

I will post an update when I get back but I am going, for the first time, to a meeting of moms at church. It is about fitness and nutrition and I am so excited because I get to bring Gia to a little class while I am there. I am convincing myself that she'll stay the full two hours when a part of me is afraid she is going to cry when I leave and then cry again so I'll have to go get her. I don't know if you remember but she would never stay at the daycare at Lifetime which is why we no longer go there. I just really, really want this to work. It combines three things I love: church, getting skinny healthy, and getting a break. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gia's Birthday Party

We had Gia's party yesterday. The sheer joy on her face throughout the whole day made me feel guilty about not wanting to do one since she won't remember it anyway. I forgot that I'll remember it forever. 

My sister, Nikki made the princess cake (it tasted exactly like the Portillo's one).


My sister Nikki made the Rapunzel cake. It's Gia's favorite princess at the moment. Gia LOVED it!




Nothing says happy like a 2 year old about to have a party dressed like a princess.


I just want you to appreciate the pain it takes to get them to pose for a family picture. There was yelling and cursing and this is what we ended up with. Can you see the sweat on my forehead? Can you see that it pained Nico to open his eyes fully and this was the best of what I had to choose from?


She was excited about every gift. She even loved the clothes and kept rubbing them on her cheek saying, "Soft."


Who would have thought a magazine subscription would elicit so much happiness from a toddler? She is definitely my kid and yes, she might have been feeding off of my excitement about it but what a great idea!
 It was a fun day spent with family. It means a lot to me that everyone gave up a Saturday afternoon to celebrate Gia's birthday. I love to watch my kids interact with their cousins just like I love to see my cousins. There weren't too many tears yesterday so I think the kids enjoyed having a built in playdate.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chef's Gala

 Last night Nico, Leo and I attended the CF event, Grand Chef's Gala. It is a great event and we went as guests of my sister Gina and her husband, Deo. This year, Natalie, her 14 year old daughter and Nico went. I was more excited that Nico was going than I was that I was going and I really enjoy going. I am a big fan of Top Chef and it reminds me a lot of that. Several chefs are there presenting hors d'oeuvres from their restaurant. One year, Dale from Top Chef was there. This year, Beverly was there. Nico was so star struck, it was cute. He talked to her for awhile and we got a picture with her. We ate for two hours sampling food with my favorite being a sea bass with a coconut/vanilla sauce from Inovasi. It was so good, I was afraid the chef thought I was stalking him. It is in Lake Bluff  and if I am every out that way, I am definitely going to dinner there. If the rest of their food is as good as that sea bass, then I'm in for a great meal. Nico liked a braised beef one and Leo liked a steak slider. You can vote on your favorite and the winner last night was a pork shoulder and mashed potato that was really good from Purple Pig. There was a lot of pork dishes, tuna and ceviche ones. I like pork but the others, I am not a fan so I stuck close to the sea bass. The meal was a Cuban one but I was so stuffed from the hors d'oeuvres that I didn't really eat any of it. It was a little spicy for my taste. I am an Augustino's girl at heart so fancy shmancy food really doesn't impress or satisfy me. I felt bad for Nico because in years past, there was a whole room for desserts and this year it was split between desserts and alcoholic beverages. I thought one was a fruit punch and took it and gulped it only to start choking and crying because it was all alcohol (had a nice but short-lived buzz after that).  
This turned out dark but the guy tried taking it for 5 tries. This was the best we could get. Deo walked away and Rochelle and Tommy weren't there yet so they are missing.


The food part lets me forget the reason why there is a fundraiser to begin with. Once the speeches start, I am forced to remember and even now, it gets me. The best part of the event is that you have some of the wealthiest people in the room and there are 700 people there. The worst part is that because it is so big and I am convinced people don't even know what the cause is as much as they know that everyone who is anyone in Chicago is there so they should be too, no one stops talking during the whole thing. There was chaos during the live auction where we had no idea what was going on and people were incredibly rude during the emotional bid for a cure video. Nico leaned over to me and said, "If this is such an expensive event, couldn't they get someone to actually come in and speak?" I can't fault them much because in ticket sales alone, I think they brought in $350,000 and bid for a cure (or maybe the whole live auction part, I'm not sure since I couldn't hear over the talkers) raised $190,000. Any money raised for CF is a good thing and I am grateful; for it. I do have to say that I still liked our event, All I Want for Christmas is a Cure, better. It was more personal and homey and I'd like to think uplifting but we'd never be able to bring in that much money and I was okay with that but that is not what fundraising is about, is it?


I had asked Leo 12 times to take the picture of Rochelle and me so my face was showing a little aggravation.



 


Not sure what Leo and Deo are doing here or where Tommy C was during this picture.


All in all, it was a great night out. Thanks so much, Deo and Gina!  I had some great babysitters (and might even have some for a much needed weekend away for Leo and me) that made sure I was able to enjoy the evening. I had fun with two of my sisters, my cousin, my niece and my BFF. The husbands and Nico were fun, too. :) On a funnier note, I actually had some sort of allergic reaction to being dressed up and wearing make-up. I swear...I broke out in hives. I don't think my feet will ever be the same from the heels I was wearing. While itching on the way there, I said to Leo, "Why can't sweats be considered sexy?" (I got that from Pinterest.) He said, "I think they are." I replied, "And that is why I will never leave you."

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Are You Doing It?

A lot of my thoughts that make it on the blog are inspired from the music I listen to. I recently listened to this song (I did the one with the lyrics so that those of you that don't have sound could still see the words):
Besides thinking of the obvious (the dark-eyed ex that once I laid eyes on him I was "already gone" but that it didn't last) it made me wonder. For the parents out there, are you raising your kids the way you were raised or how you wish you were raised? Even those that don't have kids, if you did, would you raise them how you were raised or how you wish you were raised? In this song, it sounds like the mom was telling her to do things that she had done. Live the life she lived but that the girl was "already gone". I know that the basic foundation and morals and values that I grew up with are the same ones I am raising my kids with but I have to say...my parents were overprotective. We had a lot of rules and didn't venture too far from home. I wish I had travelled more when I was younger because now that I have kids, it is a thousand times harder. My one sister went to Europe and I have a cousin that lived in Ireland for a little while and I wonder what happened between me and three of my younger sisters and my sister and cousin who are really adventurous? I'm guessing I didn't really know it was an option. It was so instilled in me to go to a state school, get a job, get married and have kids (and to be honest, the job part was encouraged but not a given). It was never even a thought to move to a different state or experience anything other than what I said. The funny thing is that I don't think it was necessarily what they wanted for me...it was what I wanted for myself. I was a rule-follower to a fault and it isn't that I don't want my kids to be that way, I do. I just want them to experience everything life has to offer and not be afraid to try new things. I didn't know I loved to travel until I was out of college. I only went on Spring Break once and though we made the best of it, it wasn't exactly a trip to paradise (J.G., if you are reading, you are still my favorite memory of that trip). Looking back, I think that was the most daring I ever was. There were eight of us that drove to Clearwater, FL and I remember it feeling really good to be out on my own (and yet, still scared of my own shadow). I don't think I was even on a plane until after I graduated college.  My friends and I just didn't have the kind of money to travel the world. Once I did have money, I was married and wanted kids and we all know how kids suck the money right out of us. :) I guess the most out of the box thing I did was get an apartment with a friend from college after working for a year. It's funny, I wanted to get married, Leo wasn't asking and I wanted my life to start. Looking back, what was I in such a hurry for?

I know I say now that I want my kids to have an adventurous spirit but I know that I am no different than my parents and don't like my kids to be that far away from me. Nico has been asking to go to a sleep away camp for basketball for the last three years and I have said no. I hate when my kids sleep at anyone else's house so the thought of them traveling the world makes me hyperventilate a little. When I think about regrets that I have, one of them is definitely being afraid to go outside my comfort zone. I know there are plenty more years to do that but with so many people depending on me, seeing the world is a last priority.

Back to the song...are you raising your kids the way you were raised or the way you wish you were raised?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mouse Update

I hate that this is even a post or warrants talking about. I made mention a few posts back that Nico saw another mouse the day after we got the "all clear" from Jimmy, our Orkin guy. He is a sweet, sweet kid and I mean kid. He looks like he is Nico's age but anyway, we got the all clear and I was feeling pretty good. Nico saw the mouse but Jimmy said that there was a chance that when we sealed up the house, a mouse might have gotten trapped in (yuck). Two days later, I was at my computer when Gia was napping (right around the corner from the pantry) and the stupid half screen TV was off. I heard a rustling (like a bag of chips) in the pantry. I was always told that they are more afraid of us than we are of them so I started saying loudly, "I am still here! Go away!" I heard rustling again, freaked and grabbed a broom to shut the pantry door. I spent the rest of the day upstairs. Leo came home late that night so we didn't talk about what I heard. The next morning, Gia woke up before it was light out and instead of giving in and giving her the bottle, I brought her downstairs. As I was walking down, I heard rustling again. I again, yelled, "We're here! Go away!" I hurried back up the stairs and woke Leo up (it was about 6:00am) and told him what I heard. He mumbled for me to call Jimmy. I, in a not very nice voice, said, "Jimmy doesn't live here, @*#. You do! Now get up and check and see what is in there." He didn't and if you are thinking that if I said that nicer, he would have, he wouldn't. By the time he did go down and take care of it, I told him to throw every bag of chips away (they were in a big bin at the bottom of the pantry). He begrudgingly did and said, "Yeah, you better call Jimmy. There are droppings in there." What the hell??? We took down our deck, we got a dumpster and purged our house, there is nothing but bins in the basement and we have Orkin coming out A LOT. Why can't we get rid of this problem? And these have to be the stupidest mice around because there are a lot nicer houses with bigger pantries, basements and nooks to hide in Winfield...why in the world are they coming here??? I called and requested another guy come out because I thought Jimmy might be missing something.

I bought a bin for the chips that closed but Nico being as math challenged as he is, gave me the wrong measurements so the door wouldn't close. When I took the bin out before I went to bed, the floor was clean. Tommy went in there in the morning and when I freaked and told him not to go in there, I saw an energy bar opened and crumbs everywhere on the floor where it was clean the night before. I got Leo up again and had him sweep in there and take a look. He pulled out a shelf we have in there for granola bars and "sweet" treats for lunches and sure enough, there were crumbs everywhere with a few mouse droppings. There was a fat @** mouse with a lot of energy running around my house and I was completely skeeved out by it. I went to my sister's for the day because Orkin couldn't come until the next day.

Friday came and I called to make sure that they were coming even with the threat of a blizzard and that they were sending another guy. The woman said, "Jimmy said he'll be there by 1:00." What?! I explained again why I wanted someone else feeling bad about not wanting Jimmy. The next thing I know a guy comes on the line and said, "This is Wiley. I can be there on Monday." First of all, why didn't I have Wiley in the first place? Wiley sounds like the name of a guy that is good at catching mice. Wiley also sounded like he might have been missing some teeth but still like he knew what he was doing. Second of all, MONDAY?! I told him no way and that I needed him there now. He said, "Okay, Miss AnnMarie. I'll be there between 10 and 12." He showed up, and as far as I know had all of his teeth, with what looked like a box full of serious mouse catching tools. He sealed up some gap behind my stove and I saw him putting down traps that were different than Jimmy's.

"Wait, what are those?" I asked.
"Glue boards," he said as if I should have known by the big letters that said GLUE BOARD.
"But wait...am I going to see them on there because the ones that Jimmy puts down are boxes and I can go into a room without seeing them?" I said freaking out by the minute.
"Well, the mice aren't taking the bait so these are better. The critters run across and get stuck." OMG! He put one under the stove and behind the refrigerator.

To help you better understand my fear of mice and how it makes me crazy, I will share with you what I did in my insanity. We have this ugly, scary looking lizard that Nico got for his third birthday. It's big for a rubber animal...a little over two feet maybe (I'm also math challenged) and I'm not sure how it lasted through the move from Bartlett or the purging of the house but it did so I thought, in my most insane moment, that if I put it outside the pantry door, if a mouse came out, it would see it, get scared and go back in. Not that I want them in there but I don't want to EVER see them and they don't seem to be afraid of us since Nico keeps seeing them. The funniest part was when Wiley turned the corner and saw the lizard, he jumped and yelled, "Oh!" I threw Tommy under the bus saying he put it there and Wiley said those things scare him. The irony of an exterminator being afraid of a toy lizard left me a little speechless. He put another glue board in the pantry (a place I will never go again) and one in the basement and then left to get the ticket in the car. While he was gone, I heard a noise that I swear sounded like plastic scraping the floor and thought, "Son of a *****, we already caught one! OMG!" I looked at Gia and stupidly asked her, "Did you hear that?" She looked at me like I was crazy which I was. The noise stopped and Wiley came back in.

"You are going to think I am crazy but I think there is one in there. I hear a noise that sounds like one," I said.
He listened and quietly, like I belonged in a padded room, said, "Are you hearing the noise right now?" It was dead silent.
"No, I don't hear it right now. Can you check it?"
He did and nothing was there. "It's your door, Miss AnnMarie. It is clicking in the wind." Great. He for sure thought I was crazy. He, too, was convinced that we had trapped the mice in and there won't be a problem.
There is a vent thing above the microwave that he said we should put wire around because maybe that is a problem (I bought the stuff but has Leo done it? Nope. Am I afraid I will seal up something that shouldn't be sealed? Yes.) I found out he is Jimmy's boss so I made sure I told him what a great kid Jimmy is and that it had nothing to do with him.

He left and two minutes later, Jimmy called. Can I just tell you that I felt like I cheated on Jimmy? I know. Ridiculous but Jimmy comes whenever I call him (like when Leo is out of town and I'm afraid we caught a mouse) and even put the foam stuff outside when Leo wouldn't. I explained why I had someone else come out and that I didn't think Wiley understood my fear because he put down traps where I would see the mice and Jimmy talked me off the ledge telling me he'd come out this week and check them.

My friend came over (PL) and when she went to see the pantry trap, she heard something shift and yelled. I yelled and grabbed her, accidentally stabbing her with one of my nails in the process. "Is it a mouse?!" I yelled. We were like two old biddies screaming about nothing. I think I might be losing my mind with this issue and I think the mice might be the devil.

We caught two mice on the one glue board in the basement and Nico confirmed that one of them was the one he saw. Leo thinks that because Wiley sealed up around the stove, those two couldn't get upstairs because we haven't caught any up here. He thinks we are done. I am going to live in fear that just when we think we are, one will pop up. Calling Jimmy right now to have him check.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gia!!

I don't even know where to begin with this post. Where did the time go? How can she already be 2? Where is the pause button? Today is going to be a good day...one filled with remembering the day she was born and the absolute joy that she brings to my life every day. I worried when she didn't walk at a year. She is running all over the house. I worried when she didn't talk at 18 months. She is talking so much now that her voice is music to my ears. I love the high pitched, teeny, tiny voice that says (this is just some, not all, of what she says):



I do it!
Ready to go?
I have snackies?
Soup, Mommy, please.
Where's Bibble? (Her favorite character in Barbie Fairytopia)
We go see Fankie?
We go see Marco?
We go see Finnie? (Vinnie)
Wead Punzel (Read Rapunzel).
I make it. (Her plastic food)
'mon, Mommy.
I sorry.
And my all time favorite: I wuv you, Mommy.

It isn't always easy as you know if you have been reading but last night when she was going to bed, I was telling her how much she meant to me and how happy she makes me. She just nodded probably not understanding what I was saying and just happy to not be put in bed yet but then she put her little hand on my face as if to say, "I know." She is the ray of sunshine in all the chaos. She forces me to slow down and appreciate the little moments. I love her so much my heart sometimes feels like it is going to burst. I am going to remember all of these feelings today when I take her out to breakfast and she melts down. :)

I know I posted this video before but since it makes me laugh harder than anything else at the moment, I am posting it again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How I Spent Today

On this day two years ago, I was at a basketball tournament where Nico's team went on to win the championship. It was the night before I gave birth to Gia. Today, I didn't spend the day that way. I woke up early to wake up Gia and Nico to take Nico to the ENT. My magnet for freak accidents of a son, got in a fight with wires and a game controller and lost. He jerked the controller free and it flew into his face, breaking his nose. I thought it was broken from the get go but Leo said they wouldn't do anything other than tell us to see our ENT. He seemed to think it was no big deal (I think it is because he has a crooked nose and now Nico's nose looks like his) and played him in the basketball game on Saturday where...yes...you guessed it...he got elbowed in the nose. So, he either broke it Friday or Saturday. Since he just had surgery, I wanted to make sure everything was still okay so I took him to Geneva so see the doctor. He walked in and said, "Yep, it's broken." Luckily, Nico broke it straight so it just has to heal and no further surgery is necessary. Only Nico.

I had someplace I needed to be all afternoon and then came home to Tommy needing help with his animal report, him having practice and Nico having a game. I will only say this. I hate 4th grade and @*!%#$ stupid mobile animal reports where 4th graders have a hard time figuring out margins on Word and string on hangers and index cards and typing. Whatever happened to dioramas? I'll tell you what...if I ever go back to teaching, I know what I am NOT going to do: Never, ever going to REQUIRE a project typed and NO HOME PROJECTS!!! Uggghhh...if he doesn't get a good grade on this report, I am going to feel like it is me that didn't get a good grade in which case the #$%* is going to hit the fan. What makes me mad is that he did all the research and wrote the rough copy and when it came down to the project, he couldn't do it himself. Maybe it is just my kids but even taking it from the computer (with the missing "k" so after two tearful nights, I just typed it for him) to making it a mobile was hard. His little fingers had a hard time tying the string and then it was a free for all with the tape. Hate, hate, hate stuff like this.

I need to do a few overdue thank yous: P.L., thank you for saving me from going out in the blizzard and bringing me whole milk and cheese (Gia's favorite obsession). Lee, thanks for watching Gia while I took Nico to the doctor. K.J., thanks for babysitting today and looking for a suit for Nico for Friday. Some of my neighbors must know Leo very well or sense that he was gone all last week because N.H. did my front sidewalk, A.G. did my side sidewalk and M.B. did my driveway. You guys are the best neighbors EVER! As always, I'd be lost without my sisters during the last two weeks. No one can love you during a funk like a sister...they know exactly what to say and what not to. Thanks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another Pinterest Post

What in the world have I gotten myself into? I can't seem to stop. I think this is why I never did drugs. I think I have an addictive personality. It is the oddest thing. I feel so productive because I have spent hours looking at meals I am going to cook for my family, clothes that I would love to wear, hairstyles that I would love to have, decorating ideas for my house, craft ideas for me to do with Gia, inspirational quotes that will help me be a better human being that strives for my dreams and to be a good parent and all the ways I can lose 10 lbs when in actuality, I have really done none of those things. I have actually just clicked and put them on a board on my page. So really I wasted all of Gia's nap with the idea that I might someday do these things without actually doing anything. And I have to admit, I loved every minute of it. Tonight I went to Barnes and Noble and browsed the shelves and didn't buy anything. Why? Because I know I can find all the self help stuff I need on Pinterest. The boards I had the most fun making were the "Men on my Freebie List", "Movies I Love", "Favorite Books", "My Style", "If Leo Were on Pinterest", "Queen of Chaos" and "Words to Live By". Anyone want to guess who or what is on these boards? I think that is the fun of it. You can learn a lot about people by looking at their boards and anyone reading the blog could figure out what is on a lot of mine.

Here's the thing. The first night I went on it, I ended up reading quotes that were about parenting and it made me stop and kiss my kids. It made me want to be a better mom. I was looking at all the ways to be healthier and it inspired me to work out and I was reading the boards instead of eating junk. The recipes on there made me excited to add things to our weekly meals which will only make the family happy. Some of the inspirational quotes reminded me I wasn't alone and that I need to believe in myself and my dreams in order for them to come true. All in all, it made me want to strive to be a better person so it can't be all bad, can it?

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Filling Up the Tank

Not the gas tank, our emotional tank. It's corny, I know, but I have been thinking about this ever since hearing it yesterday. My tank is full right now, I am happy to say. I spent the day at my mom and dad's and realized when I don't get to do that very often, my tank runs low. I didn't want to leave. I had one of those moments sitting with one of my sisters when everything felt right. My sister is one of the funniest people I know and every once in awhile, she would do something or say something and we would both burst into laughter. I love that. I missed Nico's game but he played well and they won so both he and Leo were in good spirits when they came to my parents' house. It's always pretty filling to see them happy. We had a ridiculously big, delicious dinner and so physically I was filled up as well. I watched my dad help Nico with a minor injury and saw Tommy curled up with him while watching football. It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in awhile and I was mad I didn't have my camera though it would have ruined the moment. I saw my mom with Isabella, showing her how to cook what she was cooking and  Isabella showing her the dance she is learning. My mom laughed at all the new things that Gia is doing. I was wrong before. Going home does "heal the brokenness" and lets you "find yourself".

The other thing that filled me up was church. I am not going to preach. I am just going to say that two Sundays in a row, I went to church and the feeling I got was...peace and warmth. I don't know how else to describe it and I am not embarrassed to admit that I loved every minute of it. I have a cute story to share about church. Tommy was awake while I was getting ready so he ended up going with me. We went to the cafe and I bought him a muffin and hot chocolate (a real treat, he said). We got settled and the music started. I love the music part. I have a hard time not getting emotional but I won't sing. Mostly because I am afraid I'll start to cry but also because I cannot sing. Not at all, so I am embarrassed to. Not Tommy. He was belting the songs. At one point I saw him rubbing his eyes and wondered if he was getting emotional (he later told me that he had a hard time not crying but rubbing his eyes helped him not to). There is someone that keeps hurting Tommy's feelings so I told him that during the moment of silence, he should pray for him. He asked why and I said, "Because praying for him might be the only way he'll be nice." He nodded his head in understanding. Tommy asked a lot of questions which thankfully I answered to his satisfaction. At the end of the service, the speaker said, "At the end of this prayer, if you have decided to open your heart to Jesus and follow him, raise your hand." I was shocked when Tommy shot his hand high in the air. I heard a few well meaning giggles (including myself) but that didn't deter Tommy. When the moment came to raise your hand, he did it again and smiled so big and proud. I raised mine and he looked at me funny. I told him that I already opened my heart but didn't want him to feel alone in raising his hand and he said, "I wouldn't have."

The whole way home he asked questions, told me he learned a lot and prayed the whole time and it made me realize that I need to get them in some sort of program. That point hit home again when I came home and Belle was crying because I didn't take her to church and she "always wants to go." None of my kids like the children's program at any of the churches we have attended. They like to be in church. I'm not saying that is a bad thing but it would be nice if they liked that part. Today at the store, when Gia threw a Lego at a little girl makes me think I should introduce her now rather than later to the babysitting room at church so that she learns to socialize with kids her own age (yes, that was a proud mommy moment for me).

Something else that filled me up was that I unexpectedly saw one of my best friends from when I was younger. What a sight for sore eyes. I wanted to hug her and not let her go. I wanted to keep talking to her because while I was, all the other stress around me melted away. We were two elementary school kids again telling each other that we missed each other and that we matter to each other (something that feels good to hear when you are in a funk). I made reference in the previous post about what built me and she is one of the things. She knew me when I was making the dreams and was a part of a lot of them. Talking to her reminds me of the person I once was. It grounds me and I love her for it. I hope I am that person for her, too. Even if I'm not, I hope she at least knows she matters to me.

I figured out some of what drains my emotional tank: Drama, in any sense of the word and my FB chat not working. That might be small potatoes to some of you but when it is your only connection to your friends that live far away, it is a pretty big drain. Of course not getting a break from the chaos doesn't help either. I'll keep this part short since I want to focus on what fills it up, not what drains it. See (PL), even I can be "glass half full" once in awhile. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's Official

I must speak a different language than everyone living in this house. Either that or I am thinking I am talking but I am actually only saying things in my head. No one listens here. Here are some of examples of the things I must say in a different language:

Stop doing that (to which they do it three more times...makes me wistful for the days when hitting your kid upside the head was acceptable).

Put your uniform on.

Do your treatment.

Take your medicine.

Go to bed.

Come and eat!

Shut off the game (for the boys and Leo).

No, you can't have a sleepover.

Take out the garbage.

Don't go to poker in the blizzard.

I need a break.

It makes me feel like life is a game because after the 50th time of saying something and no one listening, I am about ready to stop talking at all (I know...shocking and you don't think I can do it). I'm tired of being ignored so I think it is time to do a little ignoring back. On that note, if life is a game...could someone clue me in on what the rules are and can people stop changing them once they are set?

Friday, January 20, 2012

"Going Back Home"

I heard this song today and it got me thinking.

What place do you go to that built you? Is it the house that you grew up in? Is it a school? A church? A friends house? A park? You know the one I'm talking about. The place where your dreams were born...where you would think about what your life was going to be like when you got older. I can't really say mine is the house where I grew up. My parents still live there and though I still pass the spot outside on the driveway where I got my first kiss and I can still remember the thousands of hours I spent on the phone in my parents' room or doing my hair in the tiny bathroom with no counter space, the house looks completely different from when I grew up. The two bedrooms that I slept in (they moved my room while I was in college and the second room never did feel like mine) are now a playroom/workout room and an office. The basement, that when I was younger was unfinished and I used to roller skate on the cement floors, is now finished and doesn't even remotely resemble the one growing up. It's funny. The house seemed bigger when there were more people living in it than it does now.

Anyway, the feelings that she talks about in the song about going back to find yourself hit a nerve. I have been a mom for almost 14 years and the one thing that I don't think is talked about enough is the complete transformation that a woman goes through after having kids or getting married. While married, it was an adjustment to go from "I" to "we" but Leo and I had been together for so long that I welcomed it. I think most do and maybe the hard part is living together if you didn't before you married. After having Nico, I remember the ton of bricks that fell on me when I left my job to stay home with him and I thought, "I'm not a teacher anymore." It hurt to give up that part of myself but I told myself the lie that many of us do in order to get through that "loss of identity" time: I'll go back someday. After the twins, I tried to reclaim some of me by getting out one night a week with friends (mostly my sisters and Rochelle) and that helped a lot but I still didn't know who I was outside of "mother" and "wife". I wrote a lot but nothing came of it and most of it was journal-type stuff. Not a lot of time or inspiration for romance writing when you are the mother of twins and a three year old. There was that brief time when I was going to go back to school and instead settled in again as wife and mother. Leo and I were starting to be able to go out because Nico was old enough to babysit. It was nice rediscovering that we still liked to do the same things, go out to eat, hang out with friends and once in awhile travel with just the two of us. We had enough time to allow each of us to explore our own hobbies without too many problems. When I had Gia, I was ready for every aspect of having a baby again. I was ready for no sleep, the diapers, crying as the only form of communication...all that goes along with having a baby. What I was not ready for was the change in identity again. I have been a wife and mother for so long that I didn't see that changing. And it does change. When the twins and Nico were younger, all of my friends had kids around the same age and when we got together for a break, the kids played. To be honest, we really didn't go out all that much. I joked before that I felt like a teen mom and it really is true. I went from being able to go out to lunch, Barnes and Noble, Target or out to dinner and a movie with friends to having to decide if wanting to do those things is worth the screaming toddler. More times than not, I don't want to ruin it for my friends who are way past that stage so I don't go. I'd be lying if I didn't say it is a little lonely.

Don't misunderstand, when I am home with Gia, she makes me laugh harder than I have in years and the warm feeling of knowing I was part of a true miracle makes me very happy. It's just that there is a whole world going on outside of this house and sometimes I feel isolated from it. My heart squeezes when I hear of someone going back to school or getting a job because I know they are on their way to reclaiming their identity...recapturing something that is just for them. Maybe it's why blogging is so important to me, it's the one thing I do for myself but even that has to take a backseat to being a wife and mother.

So when I think of the places where I remember who I once was or who I dreamed I'd be:

My old high school (Glenbard North): when I have to go back to watch Nico play basketball or Tommy play football or Belle cheer. I spent more time daydreaming in that place than I did learning.

The ride through Wheaton and Glen Ellyn to get to Glenbard West High School: I didn't go there but my dad coached there and I went to a lot of games when I was in junior high. My sister and I used to talk for hours about how we were going to live there and raise our families there and again, the daydreams of what the future held.

NIU: where my dreams felt so close I could touch them.

Church: where again, I would daydream of how my life would be and all the possibilities (I can honestly say that I didn't get much else out of the church we went to growing up but it was good for thinking up story ideas and daydreaming). 

The elementary school that I taught at: where I really did become the person I wanted to be.

Our old house in Bartlett: where dreams were made, came true and then were broken.

No one really talks about how alone it feels to be a mom sometimes, even among other friends or family that have kids. Our issues (we all have them), worries (from the time the kids are born), fears (sometimes it is scary to even voice them), triumphs (no one likes a bragger)...they might be similar but never exactly the same and that is what makes it so isolating.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Some Random Thoughts

If I could be married to Tim, "The Toolman" Taylor right now, I would. I know it is a busy week at work for Leo but let's face it, I could have made that statement a week ago when his boss wasn't in town. I want to be able to say, "This is broken" and have him jump up and fix it or attempt to fix it. I want to be able to say, "I feel like I am going crazy but when you aren't home, I keep hearing ----" and have him check it out and put my mind at ease. I want him to rise to the challenge of the broken things around this house. I recently read a post on another blog that was titled "My Husband is an ***hole" so I feel pretty okay with making a small dig here. From reading it, I saw that clearly the woman loves her husband and he ended up being one because he surprised her by being okay with something that she thought he'd flip out over so she looked like the bad guy. I'd give the link but I can't find it right now. What I really want is to not hate this house.

I don't know if this is odd because I am a woman but I really dislike self-maintenance stuff. I don't like getting my eyebrows waxed and I don't like getting my hair dyed, cut or styled. I'm trying to remember if I've always been like this or if this is new. I just don't want to take the time to do it. It's a whole chunk of time that I'd rather be doing something else. Maybe it's because waxing hurts and the dye for my hair itches. I don't know. I don't like the look of bushy eyebrows or gray hair on myself so I have no choice but I don't like it. I don't mind a mani/pedi or a massage but those are luxuries and if I don't do them, no one will notice. People notice outgrown roots and wayward eyebrows.

Money might not be the answer to my problems but it would pay for several escapes from them or help me forget them for awhile.

I wish there was a way to turn my brain off for awhile. Maybe that is why there is wine and that I don't drink enough of it.

Why is it that when you go to lunch or dinner with a friend you haven't seen in a long time, all you can think about is how happy you are and how you really need to do it more often and then you don't?

People keep talking about these endorphins they get from exercising. Maybe I'm doing it wrong because I am not getting it.

I do, however, get them from pressing the enter key on a website that says, "Confirm Order."

I already feel the pressure to pin more things on Pinterest because my boards look sad.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Bachelor and Dance Moms

I posted late yesterday and still can't decide if I should blog in the mornings or evenings. I might switch to evenings since we are trying to get the kids to go to bed earlier. I couldn't wait until tonight to post this since I just watched both of these last night. I don't want to forget.

The Bachelor: I want to like Ben. I really did like him on Ashley's season but something about him is bugging me. I enjoy longer hair on a guy (not Fabio long but Tim Riggins and Sawyer long) but his hair bugs me. I want to move it off of his face or mess it up or something. I was so tired of hearing, "She's just her...she's real." Lindzi (I think that is how she spells it) looks old to me (this from a 41 year old) and I want to move her hair off of her face, too. I like Emily. I thought their date was fine. It was a little predictable that the climbing to the top of the bridge date was with the girl that is afraid of heights. She seems very normal and her reaction to Courtney was the same as mine would have been. I cannot stand Courtney. She is a whole lot of ugly as the episodes go on. She is so blatantly two-faced...so sweet to Ben and then a total jerk to the girls. I like Jennifer but she came on a little strong and falling in love? Unless there is a lot we don't see, I don't get it. I laughed when Ben said she was the best kisser...he ought to know, he's kissed just about everyone and it is only episode 3. Kacie B. is going to end up being the "Ashley" of the season where she has a hard time watching him date other girls. Have these girls never seen the show before? Don't they know that is how it works? I liked Rachel and am glad we got to see some interaction with Ben but these girls all looked a little drunk to me at the cocktail party and were not as attractive and all weepy (which we all know happens sometimes when we drink). The whole Shawntel thing was odd and I chalked it up to manufactured drama. I do wish it would have sent Courtney over the edge to make her leave and it came close but then he called her first so she stayed.

Dance Moms: I don't even know why I like this show so much but I do. It is a little like watching a train wreck but not as bad as some of the other shows out there. I can't imagine sending my girls to someone that is so harsh but she is good at what she does so she gets away with it. These moms are something else, too. I feel the worst for Kelly. She is torn with wanting her girls to be taught by the best and feeling like she is torturing them. I thought it was uncalled for that Abby make Holly and Nia feel like her mother doesn't love her because she had to work. I did feel bad for Nia that no one was at her competition for her. You know there is something there, though when you are rooting for Abby's dancers to beat the most annoying dance mom ever, Cathy. She used to be with Abby and then left when Abby didn't tell her what she wanted to hear about her daughter, who I am not even sure wants to dance. She owns her own dance company and keeps showing up to compete against Abby and the whole time, I find myself hoping Abby's girls win. Cathy is not likeable at all and even lied about the dancer's age just so she could beat Kelly's daughter, Brooke. Since Isabella has just taken up dance again after a very long break, this show is one we watch together.

Top Chef: Sad to see Ty-lor go. I thought he was a stand up guy. Project Runway AllStars: Sad to see Sweet Pea go but she was out of her league.

I have to watch Parenthood and Once Upon a Time...one hurts my heart and the other hurts my head so I have to set aside a block of time to watch and if you have been reading, you know I don't have that.

I haven't been watching any of the Real Housewives shows because I think all it shows is that all the money in the world can't buy you happiness but some of it could buy me a new house, a new car, a gym membership and a computer so watching it and seeing someone pay $25,000 on a pair of sunglasses makes
me ill.

Just in case you needed a visual on the hair thing. :)

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pinterest and a Few Rants

The kids had off today so I didn't have time to collect any thoughts that I could form into a post. My sisters and a good friend (P.L.) have introduced  me to Pinterest (N.M., you introduced me to both Twitter and Pinterest awhile ago but Twitter won that time and I'm still trying to figure that out). I am not yet addicted and still trying to figure it out but I am nervous that it is going to be another "time-suck" (much like Twitter and Facebook are now). If you are on there and want me to follow you, comment or send me a message with your username. Mine is queenofchaosmom. I figured keeping it the same as Twitter would make it less difficult. Everyone that does it says it is good for decorating, recipe and craft ideas but so far, I am just feeling very inadequate that I haven't been doing any of this stuff so far and a little pressure that now that I know of all of it, I should be doing it now.

Now my evening will be filled with 4th grade book reports and book summaries (you'd think they'd be the same thing but they are not). What irks me is that all of the ideas for the book reports have to be typed. My computer doesn't always work and my feeling is, if you want more than my kid's best handwriting, you should allow them time in school to type it. Whatever happened to having to turn things in with your best handwriting? Why is good handwriting falling by the wayside? There are 13 book project ideas. Only one doesn't have to be typed! The other twelve do...well, maybe another one doesn't. I don't know what the heck a "glog" is. The computer that the kids have to type things on has letter keys that don't always work. The "k" for instance does not always work. You really have to press it. So there are times when they type something and I hear them go, "Oh, no! I have to type it all over." Guess what animal Tommy is doing for his report? Yep...a kangaroo.

My other rant is going to be short. Apparently, when you live in my town and you want to play something besides travel sports, you are **** out of luck because all the other programs are dropped because there isn't enough participation. I had high hopes for Gia doing Kid Rock like my other kids did but unless I want to pay double to go to another park district, it's not going to happen.

For anyone that is interested, Nico's team came in 2nd in the tournament out of 12 teams. They put up a great fight after playing four games with only an hour between games but came up a little short in the final game. It was a long day and I am so proud of him and his team!

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bad Sportsmanship of Another Kind

Nico played basketball in the Wheaton North Tournament today. I said I wasn't going to write angry but I can't help it. I am still fuming. I know he is my son and I am biased but I am telling you, he is a competitive kid that plays hard but he plays fair. A lot is said these days about the sportsmanship of the fans and the parents but nothing is said about the sportsmanship of the referees. Believe me, I don't envy their job and for the most part, they do a nice job or the best they can in the fast paced game that basketball is. This post is about one referee and his unprofessional behavior. A referee is supposed to be impartial...someone that calls the game as it happens with no bias either way. That was not the case today. We won the game but I am disgusted by what I saw. I knew that there was a ref out there that didn't care for Leo or Nico. Leo coaches Nico's 8th grade feeder team and has coached this team for the last three years. That is how long this has been going on. I never paid attention to the refs and wouldn't really notice this one in particular until we were playing and I'd see Nico get calls that were odd and Leo get warned more than usual. Someone would say to me when I would question what was going on, "Well, you know, it's the ref that doesn't like Leo or it's the ref that has it in for Nico." We've always taught Nico in situations like that to do the best you can, keep your cool and be respectful so that it doesn't matter what the ref does. What happened today threw that thought right out the window.

I don't know what transpired between Leo, Nico and this ref to begin with to cause this rivalry but as soon as we all saw our referees, a feeling of dread came over us. For most of the game, it wasn't an issue until Nico went up for a shot, the ball went around the rim and didn't go in. I saw the frustration on Nico's face. One of his teammates got the rebound, shot and was fouled. I yelled out to Nico, who is very hard on himself, "Shake it off." The gym was fairly quiet and he turned to me and said, "I am." The ref asked Nico, "What did you say?" Nico answered, "I was talking to my mom." The ref called a technical foul on Nico and said, "We aren't going to play this today." We were all in shock at the call because it was so unfounded and out of the blue. Leo asked what happened and the ref said Nico said something about his (the ref's) mother (that is so ridiculous and proof that he doesn't know Nico at all.). The stands quieted as Leo tried explaining what really happened and even the coach from the other team told the ref that wasn't what happened. At one point you could see on the ref's face that he knew he had made a mistake and looked like he might apologize but instead, while the gym was dead silent because of what was going on, he yelled "Aw...he's always pulling this crap!" I could not contain myself any longer and yelled, "HEY!" My good friend K.T. and her mom both yelled out in disbelief. Had my good friend, J.J. not been there to stop me, I think I might have gotten myself kicked out of the game. How incredibly unprofessional to yell that in front of everyone there watching the game. I am appalled and shocked that this ref dislikes Nico so much that it clouded his better judgement and he behaved the way he did. If you have a problem with a kid, take him aside and talk to him.  Someone that does that should not be refereeing youth basketball games. I don't care if you don't like my kid, you don't single him out in front of the whole gym. If my kid deserves a technical foul, by all means, he should get one but he didn't deserve one and for this ref, in front of the whole gym to say that "he's always pulling this crap"? Are you freaking kidding me? He is a grown man! Nico is a 13 year old boy! Shame on him for this lapse in judgement and I'd love to know what "crap" he's always pulling because this ref is the only one that has a problem with Nico and I love him so I watch him the whole game and have yet to see "crap" he pulls other than playing hard. Leo, who normally is not known for keeping his cool when things are unfair, remained calm. I can see him not wanting to give this ref any other reason for targeting him and he said later, "How embarrassing for that ref to have behaved that way." I agree. The referees should not be the examples of bad sportsmanship.

I saw Nico talking to the ref at some point after it had happened and thought, "Okay, well he can't take away the T but at least he is apologizing." I asked Nico what he said and Nico said, "Nothing. I don't want any problems with him so I said I was sorry for what he thought I said and then he said, 'Good game.'" What?! Nico had nothing to apologize for. I am proud of him for taking the higher road and not wanting more problems in the future but are you kidding me? The ref was wrong. DEAD WRONG! The fact that he can't be man enough to admit it makes me sick that he is able to keep refereeing. It makes me sicker to think that he might be refereeing any of our games in the future. I hope that I can be like Nico and take the high road but right now I feel a little like a mama bear with her claws out. It was the big joke that the rivalry between this ref and Leo and Nico continues. Parents take a lot of heat about being unsportsmanlike. We even have to sign a form with the warning of "No tolerance." Do the referees have to sign anything? I'm sure they do and I am sure that this ref broke some rule and I hope that he is reprimanded for it. At the very least, Nico deserves an apology. I hope that when the ref goes to bed tonight, he knows he didn't get paid for being impartial and unbiased. He got paid for being a total jerk.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

No Offense to Nurses or Doctors

Let me just say I have had my fair share of hospitals in the last six months and while I have had some of the kindest, most understanding nurses and doctors ever (Sue, Nico's nurse while in the hospital, Dr. Hulett, both of our doctor and my preop and post op nurses for my mouth), one thing remains true...those that let my family or friends be with me or with my family member that was going through the health crisis (or triumph) made the experience so much better. I understand that the nurses and doctors need to do their job. I am not an idiot but letting my son have his aunt and cousin in the room with him before he went into surgery (not an emergency one, mind you) so that it made him less anxious wasn't hurting anyone so what was the big deal? Letting his aunts come and see him and then later, his friends aided in his frame of mind to recover faster and the appreciation for having people that cared enough to come see him made him feel so good (Thank you, Sue and all of his nurses...some of the best we have ever had for a painless experience).
We are not a normal family and I get that other people don't understand our closeness. When one of us has a baby, we all want to be there. When I had Nico, the nurses wouldn't let my family be with me and I needed their support because it wasn't happening as quickly as they would have like it to. My sisters are some of the funniest women around and having them around to distract me would have helped immensely. They weren't allowed in. I know I would have had a different experience if they would have let them because they did with the twins and Gia and it was completely different. We are not big people. We don't take up that much room. We can also leave if need be but we want to be there. I can't stand to live farther away than ten minutes from my mom and dad and hate that I live a half hour from two of my sisters so when they are going through a health crisis or are having a baby, I want to be there for them. Maybe it isn't the norm or healthy but it is how it is. My sisters are my best friends. My mom and dad also. My nieces and nephews are my kids' best friends and I love them like they are my own. We support each other and when someone goes through something, we help by being there. To have a nurse or a doctor dismiss that and act like it is a burden fires all of us up. I can throw my best friend, R.C. in the mix of that. Forgive me if you work at Alexian Brothers but the experiences I have had there are not good ones. She had her babies there and it was a fight every single time to see her because we weren't technically family. She has no sisters and maybe I am taking it upon myself to say so but Gina and I are her sisters so to not be able to see her was killing us. Her husband finally lied to the nurses and said we were her sisters and the nurse rolled her eyes and said, "Sure...go on in but not too long." R.C. didn't have a traumatic labor (I'm pretty sure she had one of the ones we envy), she was in good spirits and was happy and wanted to share it with us. What was the big deal?

I know nurses and doctors see things every day. As a relatively healthy family, we don't so when someone has something that threatens to take our loved one away or change life as we know it, we are scared and nervous. Making us wait all day and then not telling us what is going on will cause us to panic. Starting procedures without alerting us that they are happening (after telling us you'll be out in 20 minutes to tell us either way and then saying, "Oops, that's my fault. I was supposed to tell you) will cause normally sane women that avoid confrontation to tear you a new one. The bedside manner of the nurses and doctors at Alexian Brothers was terrible. They made us feel like we were bothering them just to find out information about our loved one. Is it a good hosptial? Yes and I am not disputing that. My nieces and nephews (in our family, best friends' kids are your nieces and nephews) running around healthy and my best friend coming through labor and delivery and loved ones that were able to avoid invasive surgeries are proof. I'm just saying...support and love are important, too. Wanting to say goodnight to a loved one before leaving them for the night should not be met with aggravation and ignoring us. I asked my sister, who is a nurse, how she felt about it and she said she tells her patients that as long as she can get to them and the people don't care if she knocks them over to do so, they can have as many people as they want because she is from the school of thought that love and support help in the healing process. I like that and that is why she is the best nurse out there.

I understand that a lot of this is hospital policy and that the doctors and nurses are just doing their job but why do some follow it and others don't? Why did we get the one that followed it while the people next door didn't? There were times when we got the ones that didn't follow it and I love them for it. I really do. Maybe it is too much to ask that someone stand up and say, "What is the big deal?" Support matters. Having someone that in some small way was making a stand made a difference in all of our experiences.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Remembering

 I remember:

  • a time when waking up in the morning meant my sweet son would crawl in bed with me and cuddle until we were both ready to face the day. (Instead of grunting, dragging ass and missing the bus.)

  • when snow meant a fun day building a snowman and making snow angels. (Instead of dragging out snowpants that don't fit and being afraid to drive...guess tax money didn't go to salt trucks.)

  • when breakfast meant french toast or waffles or at the very least a bowl of cereal. (Instead of black olives, a bite of pb&j on toast and M&M's.)

  • a house where mice didn't dwell. (Orkin came yesterday and gave us the all clear. This morning, while doing his treatment, Nico saw a mouse. I was in the other closet looking for pictures and words can't describe how I completely flipped out.)

  • a time when something would go wrong in the house and Leo would jump up and fix it. (Ok, I don't know that he ever jumped up but at some point, he did fix things.)

  • a time when Fridays meant the start of a relaxing weekend. (Instead of, "What's the plan?" "What are we doing tonight?" "Can I call someone?" "Can I get a ride?" "If we have nothing planned, do you care if I _____?")

  • a time when I made dinner and people actually ate it when it came out of the oven. (Three nights this week, I made dinner and it sat on the stove...I'm about done.)

  • a time when being sick meant you stayed in bed until you got better. (Fine, I admit...I'm fighting something or the kids got me sick but moms can't ever be sick so what is the point in admitting it?)

  • a time when days didn't revolve around sports and 10 and 13 year old children's social lives. (We have 4 basketball games, two playdates and a birthday party plus two days off of school...God help me.)

  • when I had a working computer that typed all the letters, let me chat with friends, let me play Words With Friends and had enough memory so I could write my books. (Just happy I have one but really sad remembering the one that worked so well.)

  • when we only went to games that our kids were playing in (well, I still only do that). (Tired of hearing that it is for "scouting" or the "varsity coach asked us to".)

  • a time when vacations meant going somewhere new and different and not to Boca Raton or Wisconsin Dells. (God, I miss this. I would love to travel like we used to.)

  • a time when I didn't have to leave the house to relax. (If I stay home, even if I lock my door, Gia will cry if she isn't with me, the kids will come to me for things and Leo might feel compelled to go watch basketball because "I am home doing nothing so what is the big deal?")

I am remembering these times because this day was none of these things and yes, this is a very "glass half empty" way of looking at things (actually, it was nice remembering the first parts of these) but I am struggling today to find a reason to crawl out of my cave without causing too much damage to the psyches of my children and husband so bear with me and see if you can remember a time when things were a lot simpler and less aggravating.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Wind is Knocked Out of my Sails

This could really be titled things I never thought I'd hear myself say because, "The wind is knocked out of my sails?" I'm not even sure where I pulled that one out of except that it seems to fit. I love blogging. I didn't realize how much I'd enjoy it until I jumped in with both feet. It's almost been a year since I started and it has been quite the journey. It's a dream of mine to make money writing and I was on my way until Google shut me down. I've been told to try again but haven't had the nerve to yet. When I tried to reach more readers by posting on a long time message board that I belonged to for years, someone reported me and I got my hand slapped for doing so. The irony was that I wasn't just promoting my blog. I was posting about the infertility and thought my experience could help someone else. When I wrote about Rocco, I posted it on a different board on the same site (the same day) and no one reported me there. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth: knowing someone on the board had taken the time to report me. I go on other blogs and see that they have hundreds of followers and 20 some comments on every post and I wonder, how do I get my blog more out there? Some of the problem is that we are all talking about the same things so maybe I'm too late. The market is already saturated with "mommy bloggers" so maybe it's a case of a day late and a dollar short.

I am on Twitter which is huge for me and it is a little overwhelming. All the information coming to me so quickly makes me excited and overwhelmed at the same time. The bloggers on there seem to really know what they are doing and I feel a little out of my league. With 130 followers and me not really tweeting anything other than my blog, does that mean that the followers took a look at my blog and liked it? I have no idea. It is all so new and confusing to me, to be honest.

I haven't heard back from Facebook about being blocked to post on my own page but what kills me is that the person that reported me could have just hidden me or unfriended me if they were tired of seeing the blog. Why report me? I've been having trust issues lately and this just adds to it. How many of the friends we have on Facebook are actually our friends? One friend told me she has reported all the articles that she sees her friends reading as spam and yet they keep coming. How is that fair? Someone can add me to a group without my permission (not that I care about the ones that I have been added to...just trying to make a point) but I can't post my blog on my own wall? How is that any different than posting my pictures on my wall? Sorry, I don't get it.

 I want to give my blog an overhaul. I have been reading a lot of other blogs and they all look so professional that it has me wanting to make some changes on mine. I've tried and haven't been successful. I tried to add things and instead of adding what I wanted, it took something I wanted to keep away. It made me nervous to do much else. Maybe it's time to switch from Google. I talked about it before and it didn't seem worth the hassle. The whole thing has me bummed out. You don't realize how non-tech savvy you are until you start digging around. B.B., I might need your help on this. It doesn't help that this computer that I am typing on is a dinosaur and every five minutes, I get a warning of some kind.

I'm going to keep writing the blog because I do it to have some sort of record of this fleeting time. I just recently finished a journal from a loved one and to be able to go back in time and see what was going on and the feelings and experiences that were being had...it's just priceless. In the end, I would love to have thousands of people reading and more importantly relating but ultimately, it is something that I will treasure as a little piece of the history of our family.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dream Analysis and Bachelor review

I think I might have to suck it up and admit that I have another sinus infection. I can't keep my eyes open and while I'd love to blame it on the insomnia that has been a problem lately, I think it is because I might be under the weather. Well, it is probably both. I put Gia down for a nap yesterday and fell asleep as well. I had the most wonderful/terrifying dream/nightmare that I can remember having in a long time. I lived in a beautiful, huge, luxurious mansion. I kept walking around not believing it was mine. I don't know if I was my age or a teenager because I had an older brother home from college that I adored. I went outside to see the resort type pool and saw that my next door neighbor was Kris Jenner (I don't even watch that show). I kept saying, "I finally love my house." The next thing I knew, I was in a car with my mom, dad, the twins and Gia. It was our old station wagon (yes, we had the one with the wood panels on the side). The twins were bouncing around in the way back and Gia wasn't buckled next to me. I heard my dad say, "What the Hell?" Cars were coming at us on the express way going the wrong way. He was dodging them but barely. I yelled for the twins to buckle up and grabbed Gia, sat her on my lap and buckled us both. After driving and feeling terrified, we got to the end where Tibetan monks were making people turn around. My dad said, "Something bad must be happening. They are making people turn around." We reached one of the monks and asked what was going on and he said, "The world is ending. We are all going to die." I woke up feeling sicker than when I first fell asleep and decided that must be God's way of telling me not to sleep in the middle of the day. It was one of those dreams where you are scared to death in it and then still feel that way when you wake up. The dream stayed with me for the rest of the day. If there are any dream analyzers out there, I'd love to know what it means.

How many tears will be shed this season on The Bachelor? So far, too many. I cannot stand Courtney, the model. Does it bug anyone else the way she talks with her mouth so tight and small? Like she just ate a lemon. She is mean, mean, mean. I loved when she said something nasty and Kasie B. said, "How did that taste coming out of your mouth?" She might take beautiful pictures but the minute she opens her mouth and unveils her personality, she is ugly! Blakely, the overaggressive one, leaving nothing to the imagination is hard to watch. Why didn't Ben tell her to back off since she already had the rose? When the bachelor puts up with these crazies and doesn't see them for who they are, it makes me like him less. I really like Jennifer and think she is sweet and normal and naturally pretty. I am rooting for her.

Edited to add: So, I went to post my blog as my Facebook status as I do every morning and a message came up saying it was reported as spam and is blocked. I appealed it but it left me feeling so yucky because that means that a "friend" had to have reported it because my page is private. The irony is that I have a "Tidbits" page on FB that is public and I can still post on that one. I get that it isn't for everyone but if they don't like it, they don't have to read it. Why report it? The reason that I post it as my status under my name and also on the page is that not everyone that tells me they read it is a fan of the page. Great way to start the morning...wondering who on my friend list isn't really a friend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When a Hypochondriac and Neosporin Meet

Gia is finally on meds and I am hoping that means we have better days ahead (though she needs her antibiotic three times a day and she doesn't take meds well). Hopefully, this means she will eat better, too. I have new appreciation for parents that have a hard time getting their kids to eat. I NEVER had this until now (Tommy is picky but he at least eats a lot of the foods he does like) and I don't like it. Our grocery bill with Nico, the eating machine and Gia, the child that I have bought everything just to see if it will stick, has more than doubled. These days all she will eat is pizza and Fritos.

So, I mentioned that Belle got a rash from the gym mats and the doctor said that she doesn't give meds for it and that it will go away on its own. She said if it hurt or itched, Belle could put Neosporin on it. I had gotten Belle her own tube of Neosporin in case that was the route we were going. Around bedtime, this house is a zoo. There are meds to take, treatments to do, homework to check and everyone trying to get some downtime. All of that with arguing about getting into bed at a decent hour. On Wednesday night, I went out but came home at 10:00 and the kids were still up. The conversation below is what followed:

Belle: I am going to bed. Should I put the Neosporin on it now?
Me (working on retyping someone's summary): Yes.
Belle: How much do I put on? It doesn't itch but it kind of hurts.
Me (half listening): Just put as little as will cover it.
Belle: Just on the rash.
Me (making a minor mistake here): Yes, only on the part that itches or hurts.
She kissed me good night and went upstairs. Five minutes later, she returned.
Belle: Mom, there was another part on my leg that kind of itches and sometimes hurts so I put it on that too. Is that okay?
Me (wanting very much to be done with the summaries and still half listening): Yes, that's fine. Good night.
She kissed me again and left. Five minutes later, she was back.
Belle: Mom, I'm not sure but there is a spot on my stomach that I think I might have the bumps. Should I put it there?
Me (really should have looked but was so close to being done and a little aggravated that this child wouldn't stay in bed): Belle, it's fine. Good night!
She kissed me and left. Fifteen minutes later, she returned.
Belle: Mom, I put it on my arms because I thought they kind of itched but now they really itch. What should I do?
Me (staring at the sweet child of mine in disbelief at what I was afraid was true): Belle, your arms are nowhere near where the rash is. Where else did you put the Neosporin?
Belle (probably realizing too late, her mistake): Ummm...well....kind of...all over. I thought I was seeing the rash and some parts kind of itched and some kind of hurt. I'm going to take a shower tomorrow morning because I think I am allergic to Neosporin.
Me (still in disbelief that one conversation with me half listening could result in a whole tube of medicine gone): You are not allergic to it. It's not meant to be put on all of your body.
Belle (about to lose her temper because she realized that she made a mistake and of course, it is going to be my fault). Her voice in a very high pitch: Well, I only put it where it itched and I thought maybe if I put it all over the rash wouldn't go to those spots! I didn't know that it was going to make it itch worse! Is something bad going to happen because I put it all over! What's going to happen?!
Me (not wanting to admit to all of you that by this time it was close to 10:30 and Belle doesn't know the meaning of a fast shower so that was out of the question): Nothing. You'll take a shower tomorrow morning and it will be fine now GO TO BED!
Belle (mumbling up the stairs): Well, I didn't know that I was going to be allergic to it and I'm not even sure if those were real spots or just dry skin.

Today is Tuesday and she told me yesterday that she didn't put anything on it (because there was no more of it to put on) and the rash is almost all gone. I hope no one gets hurt anytime soon that would require any Neosporin. I haven't bought anymore yet for fear that just having some in the house would tempt Belle to try again to see if she was really allergic.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Some Songs Playing in My Head

I have too much swimming around in my brain right now to make any sense in a post. Enjoy some of the songs that have been playing in my head. I could have posted more but will save them for later. I own none of these videos or their content.

I loved the show Lost and was a huge Sawyer fan. He was my crush before Tim Riggins and still remains one of my 5 free passes. I love this song and it fits my mood these days. My favorite line is, "'Cause we can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable and life's like an hourglass glued to the table. No one can find the rewind button, girl, so cradle your head in your hands and breathe"
 

I love this Kelly Clarkson song. "Sleep under a palm tree. Feel the rush of the ocean" is the line that hit a nerve. I want to sleep under a palm tree with a giant margarita next to me.
I am loving Shinedown right now. Another song I love of theirs is "Breaking Inside" but I was afraid everyone would read into it. You can't really read too much into this song. I don't live out of a suitcase (my car maybe), I have stayed in the same place and I am not a gypsy. I just really love this song and this group. "I"ve said it so many times. I would change my ways. No. Nevermind. God knows I tried." I love that verse.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Small Things I am Thankful for and a TV Update

I have been somewhat in a funk the last few days...as if you couldn't tell but I wanted to do a positive post. As I sit here drinking my hot chocolate (Swiss Miss Extra Marshmallows), a few little things came to my mind that I am thankful for.

1. All you can eat crab legs after a basketball game with good conversation, good friends and my favorite drink.

2. Gia, for one night, getting over her hate for restaurants and being such a good girl that I could enjoy the crab legs.

3. The Nook Color...Gia LOVES it. Bought me an extra half hour and another plate of food.

4. For years I would drink my hot chocolate and wonder why they didn't sell the little marshmallows that come in the packet (the minis are too big). While at Target on Thursday, I found them! They finally do. Kraft makes them and they come in the same container as Parmesan cheese. Now half way through when the marshmallows are gone, I can add more. It's the little things. :)

5. Isabella. Our first floor was a mess from normal weekend stuff and she surprised me and cleaned it. She is so unbelievably good with Gia. That baby adores her and though she sometimes gets frustrated with how much, she can often be heard belly laughing at whatever Gia might be doing. There isn't anyone that does it exactly like Mom but she comes darn close.
6. My sisters. They just get it. So do my parents. They have a way of making you feel like it's all going to be okay.

7. I know we'll end up paying for it later but I am so thankful for this weather we are having.

8. Sundays with nothing to do except laundry.

9. LouMalnati's pizza on a Sunday afternoon. I don't know that I will order the delicious, deep dish, cheese delight but I am thankful for the option.

Update on TV: I am so behind on Parenthood and can't really watch it when I am in a funk because that show brings out emotions I wasn't even aware of. I started watching Celebrity Wife Swap and I have to say enjoyed it. I'm still watching Degrassi (in all forms). I am glued to the TV caring about Holly J. with her untreated step leading to kidney issues, Clare, who all of a sudden broke out of her shell and three different guys are after her, Ali, who can't make a good decision to save her life, Drew and his anger issues, Sav, the ever responsible son that is just trying to be himself, Mia, the single mom turned model who is now on Vampire Diaries, Eli, the resident psycho, Jenna, who has found herself pregnant and Riley, who can't come to grips with his sexuality. This wasn't the high school like I attended or it was and I was clueless living in my bubble but I just cannot stop watching. (If I used who and it should be whom, shoot me a message. I always get those confused and am not above admitting it.) I started watching Once Upon a Time and enjoy the show (still behind) but am still a little confused because I came to it late. Project Runway All Stars hasn't disappointed but I miss Heidi and Tim. Glad to see the producers didn't keep Elisa for dramatic purposes. I was hoping Michael Knight was going to be on but am glad to see Rami and Sweet Pea (though her dress was terrible). Where are the designers from season 3?

The Bachelor is going to be a nutty season if the first episode is any indication. I liked Ben on Ashley's season but I'm not sure if I am liking him on this one. It might have been a case of  with the bachelors that were on that season, he wasn't the worst so he came off as cuter than he was. Like for instance, when the twins were obsessed with the Wiggles, I started thinking Gregg was cute because of the company he was in but if you put Gregg next to any of the other guys I think are cute, he wouldn't even compare. I do not like that one blond...Monica, maybe. The one that was driving Jenna off the deep end (but let's face it, it wouldn't take much and why does she have to be the blogger?) and was hitting on Blakely. By the way, that is a great way to make sure the producers, who I am sure are all men, make sure you stay on the show. Jenna was going to stay because what fun is watching it without the crazies or the drama (I'd still watch). These girls are mean, mean, mean.