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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Being Unhappy With Your Weight and the Quest to Change it

I absolutely loathe watching what I eat and counting calories and exercising and seeing the scale go up instead of down. It's the part of getting older that I hate so much. It's a rare woman that doesn't pay attention to the number on the scale (those that choose to weigh themselves) or let it affect their mood and I'm not one of them. Damn chocolate and strawberries...I didn't even eat that much of them. A cup of strawberries and just dipped, not covered (fine I had them 3 days last week but I swear it was just a cup each time) and apparently, Chocolate Crunch rice cakes do not help in the quest to lose weight. While we are at it, my beloved Propel probably does the same. Damn, damn, damn.

I feel sorry for anyone caught in my path on the way to losing these 10 freaking pounds. I's not the number on the scale, it's the way the clothes fit and muscle weighs more than fat and it's not about being skinny, it's about being healthy and I won't be any happier ten pounds less and blah, blah, blah for all the sane, logical thinking. The experts might think I won't be any happier but I will be skinnier (10lbs. skinnier) and that makes me happy. The experts also say that "it took months to put it on and it will take months for it to come off." Yeah, well, I completely disagree! This ten pounds snuck right up on me and feels like it took only a week to put it on so I want it off in a week. There is a reason why there are no pictures of me since our ski trip. While we are having this discussion, it is my opinion that once you get off your rear and exercise, you should see an automatic decrease in weight. That is what would keep people (me) motivated to keep doing it. What is NOT motivating is exercising, first three times a week (after not exercising at all) and then three days in a row and seeing the scale go UP! That is not motivating. The only thing that motivates me to do is throw the damn scale out the window with the treadmill and weights after it. While we are on the subject of exercising, I will tell you one huge obstacle that I am having. I hate to sweat. Hate it. Some people love it and see it as a sign of working hard. I tried to do that but all I came up with was that it makes me hivey (I don't know if that is even a word) and itchy and I hate it.

I tried the points and the websites that count calories. I tried Atkins and South Beach. The thing is, those didn't work because I am looking for a lifestyle change, not a diet because people go off of diets and then gain the weight back (I wish I didn't know this from experience). The problem is that I am a picky eater and apparently I am picking the wrong things. I love when I hear that maybe I am not eating enough. Are you kidding me? Now I have to worry about eating too much AND too little? Geez, how do people even know what to put in their mouths? I tried to see food as fuel for my body and unfortunately the kind of fuel my body takes is strawberries and chocolate. Yesterday, after seeing the scale rise again after I thought I had done everything right (I worked out each of the days I had the strawberries thinking since I did one, I had to do the other), I decided I was going to eat three meals and have an energy bar at 4:00 because I wasn't going to be able to eat until after 7. After having my grilled Tilapia at 7:00, at 8:30, I was starving! You know what hungry people are? Mean. Yes, they are crabby and mean. I wanted to get on the treadmill but caught up with an old friend and then bedtime sucked the energy right out of me because I gave birth to a bunch of vampires that never sleep.

It does not escape me that in the grand scheme of things, having to lose 10lbs. is not that big of a deal and I should feel lucky that it is only ten because there are others that have to lose a lot more than that. Wanting to lose weight and watch what you eat and exercise when you hate doing it is not fun. It doesn't matter if you have 10, 20 or 50 pounds to lose. If you don't like what you are seeing, it's time to make a change. I don't like how my clothes fit, the number on the scale and that I have no energy so...I need to make some changes and yes, it is very glass half-empty, but I hate every minute of it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Some Tidbits: Basketball, Clothes and Bottles

Mother's guilt was at a high level yesterday and has spilled over to today. Nico had a basketball tournament this weekend and truth be told, this has not been a great season for his team. Even Nico, who always talked about playing in the NBA (Hey, don't knock's what drives him to get straight A's...he doesn't want to mess up his chance at a basketball scholarship and then his chance to get picked up. Whatever drives him, right?), has lost his oomph. Anyway, it has been so hard to get to his games with Gia being at the age she is. I am going broke from paying babysitters and because his attitude has become increasingly more negative about playing, I have not been going to the games. This has been the worst season with bad refs, unsportsmanlike teams, nasty fans (parents from the other teams) and a decrease in either energy or heart for the game. Apparently Downers Grove parents don't have to sign a waiver saying that they will behave at games and Elmhurst teaches their players to get away with as much dirty play as they can. So you get the point that going to these games has been painful. Normally, I don't have to feel that bad (I still do) because Leo coaches so he goes to all the games. Well, he was gone yesterday so I was going to go. The game was at 5:15 and if they won, then they were going to play in the championship at 7:15. I didn't go because Gia wasn't up in time and I didn't see how I was going to make it to Geneva and keep track of her when all of the other kids that normally watch her were not going to be there. Of course they won (damn, Murphy) and I feel awful that Nico didn't have anyone there watching him. Ughhh...

Apparently my low standard of how I will leave the house has rubbed off on Isabella. With all the cute clothes my mom and I buy her or the cute hand-me-downs she has been given, she chooses clothes that make her look like she is an immigrant coming straight from Ellis Island. Someone told her that curly hair doesn't need to be brushed so she has stopped brushing it and when I tell her she needs to put it in a ponytail, she rolls her eyes, stomps her foot and puts it in what can best be described as a bird's nest. Tommy came downstairs this morning in an outfit I bought him and I said, "You look so cute!" Belle yelled out, "So you are saying I'm not cute?!" Ay yi yi. I made the mistake of laughing and telling her it had nothing to do with her (I was going to say she looked cute, too but she was wearing a t-shirt that looked like it had seen better days and the same blue sweats that if she had her way, she'd wear everyday) and now she is furiously writing in her journal. Hmmm...topic for today..."How My Mom Loves Tommy More: Part 12".

Gia is finally off the bottle!!! See, I have been trying for months to get her off of it but Leo kept sabotaging it. I would hear her cry and let her cry to see if she could go back to sleep on her own when all of a sudden he'd show up at the head of my side of the bed with Gia, a clean diaper and the bottle. I explained how that wasn't the plan anymore and he'd explain that he was tired and if we gave her the bottle, she'd go right back to bed. Well, the last bottle she got was last week and she slept through the night up until Saturday night. She didn't ask for the bottle or milk and even if she did, I was afraid to go downstairs in the middle of the night because of the Mickey issue. I rocked her, put her back to bed, she cried, she worked it out and went back to bed. Last night she slept through. I am not so naive to think it will be that easy but it is a start and with Leo away, it might just work.

Crazy week flying solo: Self-maintenance stuff that I don't like, dance carpool, Nico's basketball game (where I can get rid of some of this guilt by going to the game), Nico's baseball practice, Tommy's baseball practice and Nico's basketball practice. Somewhere in there I have to have a mammogram that I was supposed to have in December (have I mentioned how much I hate medical tests to make sure "everything is okay") and the cleaning lady is coming. I have a feeling I'll be back to blogging full-time this week because it keeps me sane while I can't sleep because Leo is away (God, I am a wimp).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Things That Shaped Me: Becoming a Teacher

This should be Things That Shaped Me Part 8 but I didn't name Nico's birth, the twins' birth, losing Rocco or Gia's birth as Things that shaped me 4, 5, 6, and 7 (oops).

I went to NIU. I don't know if I said that before but I did. I ended up there for 5 years because of my car accident. I went through graduation in December and then left school to student teach after winter break. It was hard being apart from Leo but I threw myself into student teaching and really felt like I had found what I was meant to do with my life. Leo's dad was battling cancer so it was really a tough time all the way around. Leo is a pretty stoic kind of guy so he didn't really let me be there for him while his dad was sick so it was hard to know my place. I tried to help him but I am sure I failed miserably.

There was a job fair at NIU that I attended and my dad, who was an associate superintendent of a local school district, told me that I had an interview with someone from Carol Stream and to go up and introduce myself but not to take up his time. What followed has to be one of my most embarrassing moments ever. I went, stood in the enormously long line for the man from Carol Stream and when it was my turn, I said, "Hi, Mr. So and So, I am AnnMarie Cameron and we have an interview next week so I won't take up your time. I just wanted to introduce myself and tell you I am looking forward to talking with you." He smiled and said, "We do? Hmmm, let me check my schedule. Nothing is here yet but that doesn't mean we don't. Let's set a time while I have you here." We did and I left. I visited the Dallas, Texas station and spent about 45 minutes talking to the guy there. I'm not sure why I even went to that station except that I was always drawn to Texas and had dreams of Leo and I getting away from it all (his dad being sick wasn't the only obstacle for us at the time). The administrator for the Dallas school had me convinced that I should move to Dallas and that they needed teachers unlike Illinois, where there was one opening for hundreds of applicants. At the end of the conversation, he presented me with a contract and offered me a job. He said he'd pay for Leo and me to go down and check it out and really the whole thing was so exciting and unreal. Leo and I went out to celebrate and discuss things. With all Leo was dealing with and me being a huge family-oriented person, we decided we couldn't leave our families. I do regret not at least going down and checking it out. I wonder where my life would be right now had I taken that job. The following week, I walked into the Carol Stream district office and Mr. Personnel was laughing. He said, "There was either a miscommunication or you are the most clever applicant I have ever met. You didn't have an interview set up and yet, here you are." I was MORTIFIED! I didn't even know what to say except, "It was definitely a miscommunication. I am so sorry." See, the superintendent of Carol Stream was my dad's first boss. They were at a meeting when he told my dad for me to come in for an interview in April. Mr. So and So was very nice about it and said, "Well, now I am intrigued by this whole thing and can't wait to see what more you have to say." I got a second interview with the principal of the building I would be hired for and he relayed the embarrassing story and said he, too, was curious. I got the job and the funniest part was that when I accepted, I never asked how much money I was going to make. It was the first question Leo asked me when I told him I did it! I had gotten the job! I went in and signed the contract and my dad's old boss, the superintendent was there. He was very sweet and said, "I want you to know that you got this job on your own. Through a series of miscommunications, no one here knew that your dad and I are friends. Principal so and so and Personnel so and so are new to this district and area that they don't know who your dad is. You earned this opportunity." That meant the world to me at the time (now, after being out of work for so long, when I want to go back, I don't care if it is because of who I know that gets me the job). I couldn't wait to tell Leo and my family that because I did wonder, "Is it because of my dad or did they like me?" Again, Leo asked, "What's the salary?" Again, I had no idea. I wanted to be a teacher more than anything. Jobs were scarce so it never occurred to me to not take a position because of money. I was going to have my own classroom! I was going to get a chance to teach! Getting paid was just a bonus.

I know I talked about my love of teaching before so I won't bore you with more of that. I'll just leave this as not a day goes by that I don't miss teaching being a part of my life. It shaped who I am because something happens to you when you fulfill a dream. It gives you the hope that anything is possible.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mickey Will Not Go Away

I don't know if word around the animal world in Winfield got out that Leo was going on a business trip (next week) but guess who is back?? Yesterday morning, Nico came upstairs after doing his treatment and announced that there was a dead mouse in the basement (a place in this house I no longer go). True to form, I freaked out. I started yelling for Leo to get out of bed and take care of it to which his response was, "We caught one? Good." Good??? How in the hell is that good? Because it is a dead one and not a live one? At 9:00 on the dot, I called Orkin and explained my frustrations. The lady said that it might have taken the last three weeks (where we have seen NO SIGNS) for this mouse or his little friends to find a new way or make a new way into the house. Now, I don't live on the prairie path or have my yard back up to it. I live on one of the busiest streets in our subdivision. Someone tell me, why, why, why, when there are much bigger and nicer houses, are they coming here??? There is NOTHING in our basement anymore that would attract mice. The kids don't eat down there since the clean-up. Everything is in bins. I asked that question to Jimmy, who by this time, Gia is going to start thinking is her daddy he is here so often, and he said the only thing down there is the insulation and I can't get rid of that. He said they are just as confused as we are. Isn't that great? My situation has managed to confuse the professionals.

Because they are so confused, he said as a last resort he put down bait stations. At first that sounded very promising in getting rid of this problem but then he explained that they go in the little box, take the bait and then come out to die. WHAT???? I actually teared up feeling sick when I asked, "So, you put one in my pantry. Does that mean that I could come downstairs in the morning and find a dead mouse?" His answer was, "Yes, you might see dead mice but the stuff makes their droppings green and the hope is that we'll see a path from where they are coming in." Well, he didn't see any droppings yesterday so I am not sure what green droppings will do and I think I scared him with my reaction because I was and still am freaking out. I made Leo move the one in the pantry to the garage. I can't live like this. This morning I was afraid to get up with Nico and only went downstairs after he'd been down there thinking if there was a dead one, he'd have told us. I would like to pack up my things and go stay at a nearby hotel but it's not in the budget (thanks to Leo's freaking used car, travel baseball and his Alaska trip) and really not realistic. If any neighbors are out there reading this and have found a mouse or mice, please send me a message or somehow let me know. It would make me feel so much better to know I am not the only one. It's a sad and depressing thought that I am going to live in this house forever. I want to move more than anything but who is going to buy this house? Certainly not anyone that reads the blog (and I know that is my own fault). Even more depressing is that if the scary bait stations are the last resort, does that mean if they don't work, I am destined to share this house with Mickey and his friends forever?

Before you think or say that I should get a cat, I, along with Nico and Tommy are severely allergic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Insomnia, TV and Morning Chaos

I am back to not being able to sleep and I wish I could say it was because of writing. Maybe it is contributing to it because I don't go to bed until late because of that but you would think once I was in bed, I'd be able to fall asleep but that has not been the case. I've tried turning everything off in the hopes that my body would catch on that it is time to sleep but that doesn't work. So, then I turn on the TV and catch up on some shows:

Blake is still my favorite on The Voice. I don't have a favorite singer yet. It's too soon but I will say I am probably in the minority but I wish there were less back stories and more singers to see. I love the performances and it makes me feel a little bad for the people that don't have a sob story but have a great voice. No camera time for them, I guess...just an announcement somewhere in the show that they were added to a team. I feel the same way with American Idol. It's too soon to like anyone. I don't really know who I want to win Project Runway All Stars either. I am sad that Rami went home. I liked him. Michael kind of gets on my nerves and so does Kenley. If Michael Knight was on, I'd want him to win. He was one of my favorites along with Korto (I think she was from Kenley's season).

I have a hard time watching Parenthood in real time and am really behind or messed up because I watched last night's without watching a bunch leading up to it. It is just so raw that I'm not always sure I can handle watching it when what I really want to do is escape the rawness of real life. Does that make sense? Why I am so attached to these characters, I have no idea but the same thing happened with Friday Night Lights so go figure. It's one of the reasons I am afraid to watch Sons of Anarchy. I know I'll get hooked.

I originally came here to talk about Dance Moms. OMG...I don't even know where to start. I actually have to applaud the show for making me root for Abby normally. Even when she did things like make a dancer think she was at the top of the pyramid when she was really kicked off the squad, I was still rooting for her because that dancer and her mom were a little much to take. There is another dance mom that is trying to buy her daughter a higher spot and more solos and I keep watching to see Abby put her in her place. Last night, however, was too much. I was so uncomfortable watching her scream at the three 10 year olds. She was really hard to watch in her talking head interviews and she came off as more mean than coaching. I'll still watch because it is a train wreck but I do question why these moms put up with her behavior. I know she produces employable dancers and I try not to judge because I am not in their shoes but I still wonder.

I can't comment on The Bachelor because I am no longer watching. I stopped after Emily left and Courtney stayed. She is a conniving, vile excuse for a woman and the show successfully made Ben look like an idiot. Call me stupid but I actually liked watching the show for the romance of it. I knew the couples wouldn't last but it was still fun to watch. When they make the person looking for love look like a moron or a villain, I'm done.

Because I couldn't sleep and Gia woke up several times (wanting milk, which is now in a cup, thank God and Mickey), our morning was more chaotic than normal. Isabella and Tommy had the states test today and Belle wanted to get up early and study. Her alarm didn't go off (set it for 6:30pm) so I woke her up at 7:00, got Tommy in the shower and Nico off to school. Gia woke up crabbier than crabby from no sleep at 7:30. I went in and informed Belle, who was still sleeping, that it was now an hour later than she wanted to get up. She shot up, started panicking and blaming me that she was late. I informed her that I did, in fact, wake her up and she said, "Well, you might have but my eyes didn't wake up!" She furiously studied for the states and capitals (even though she studied them for days and hours the night before) and cried that she was never going to get them. Tommy informed me that the capitals were extra credit and that he was fine with not doing them and that he knew the states. He maybe looked at the study guide once or twice and I never did see him do the capitals.

They came home and Tommy was grinning from ear to ear and Isabella was crying. Belle did the states and thinks she did okay but her mind went blank with the capitals. She said she did maybe 15 but after asking me what two of them were, got those two wrong. Tommy said he "got all the states and for some reason, the names of the capitals came back to me and I got them all right. Do you believe it?" I explained that I did actually believe it and while trying to console Belle, told her that it was Murphy's Law that the kid who studied, forgot and the kid that blew it off, remembered. She looked at me exasperated and said, "Well, who the heck is Murphy?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Catching Up on the Chaos

It's hard only blogging once a week because I feel like there is too much to say in one post. My daily posts were long as it was. I'll see if I can condense the chaos into one post to catch up.

Nico has the same kind of luck as I do with electronics. First, he was without a phone for two weeks because he thought he lost his phone at the rest stop on the way back from the Dells. Two weeks of a mild winter later and I went to put on my snow boots and what do you know? Nico's phone was in my boot. How in the heck it got there is a mystery. Then he had his iPod in his gym bag and didn't close a water bottle all the way and yep...another gadget bites the dust because of water damage. I don't know why the rice thing works for some and not for others but it has never worked for me. I went to look at phones for myself yesterday and I swear I am not exaggerating. The guy laughed when he saw my phone and said I was due for an upgrade two years ago. I am stuck between paying $99 for an iPhone 4 or a Droid Inspire or Infuse. Any opinions would be appreciated.

I have been wanting to do a mural in the kids' bathroom since Gia was born. We had a border in there that was really hard to take down so it took awhile for me to get the wall ready. I finally did but the towel bar was in the way. That bathroom has three towel bars so it would be no big deal to take down the one that was in the way. Except that it looked like it wasn't possible. It looked cemented into the wall with no screws to help remove it. For some reason, I thought Leo would know what to do. He was off yesterday and I told him I only wanted him to do two things: look into The Great Wolf Lodge to see which room we should get for baseball and our family vacation and take down the towel bar. We had discussed several times how difficult it might be to take it down and I said I would look it up online. Now, if you read this, you know that Leo doesn't do ANYTHING the first time I ask (or even the tenth). While I was making dinner (with plans to look it up after), he came downstairs in a mild panic and said, "I told you it wouldn't work. There is a big hole now. You made me take it down and now the wall ripped and there is a hole." WHAT?! I went upstairs and yep...huge hole. I asked him why he kept pulling it when it was obvious it wasn't going to end well and why did he do it before we looked up how to do it. He had no answer other than, "You would have kept bugging me to do it." Ha! I bug him all the time to do other stuff and he doesn't (hmmm...still half screen television over here and my computer is still in the back of his car) so that argument holds no ground at all. I was all ready to spackle small holes in the wall. I know how to do that but this...I have no idea. When I said that he mentioned that I would have to get drywall to fix it. Ha! That made me laugh. So add a large hole in our bathroom wall to the list of thing that need fixing in this house.

Leo and I thought it would be great spending quality time together playing Scrabble on my Nook (that really doesn't sound right, does it?). We have only played once and as much as I want to say it was a bonding experience, I'll just let you decide. We started at 9:00pm and finally at 12:30am, he said, "Let's finish tomorrow." My turns averaged about a minute. Unless you count the ones after 11:30...those I was falling asleep while playing so they might have been longer. The funniest part was I was beating him by at least 20 points so all that thinking was really not helping his score at all.

A funny thing has happened in the last week. I have stayed true to what I said I was going to do and I have been transferring the book that I have been writing in notebooks over the years to my old computer (the dinosaur one that at least has enough memory to hold it). The best feeling in the world (that I have not had a chance to experience in a long time) is getting completely lost in the writing. The blog is different. When I write this, I am in the moment besides the ones from the past and then I am in that moment. With the novel, it takes me to a different place, one that wouldn't exist except that it does in my head. Maybe that sounds crazy but what is even crazier is that I don't want to stop. I could literally sit here and write and revise and type for hours which is what I did this weekend. I started typing Friday night after Gia went to bed and finally at 2am, I went to bed. I was dead tired the next morning but while I was doing it, I was wide awake. The weird thing was that I jumped out of bed before anyone woke up (I am NOT a morning person at all and I love my sleep) and worked on it until they did. I have to admit that I looked forward to Gia's nap more than usual so I could continue. Luckily, Leo and Nico were at an all-day basketball tournament, Belle was at a friend's and Tommy had a friend over. Each time I was pulled away, I couldn't wait to get back to it. I now understand why writers go away or lock themselves in a room away from people in order to finish what they are working on. It is consuming in the best possible way. I get that same feeling when I do a mural which is why I am so anxious to start the jungle one. All in all, I transferred half of a notebook and rewrote a big part. The hardest part for me is fleshing out the details of the setting. I am more of a "dialogue to move the story along" kind of writer. I can see the setting in my head but the story really could be taking place anywhere. Maybe I should stop trying to teach myself and take a class. And where would that fit in with all the other chaos?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day and Update on the Boys

I am in the middle of writing a post about deep, everlasting love and to be honest, it's an undertaking to get what I want to say written. What is making it hard is that Leo just did something for me that to most, it would be no big deal but for me it was the biggest deal ever. First of all, with Valentine's Day two days away, I was telling him that I got him the funniest card ever (and maybe subconsciously telling him he better get me a card). He looked at me, eyes wide with panic and said, "Ok, we are getting cards but we aren't seriously getting each other something? You didn't get me anything, right?" I replied, "Well, I kind of got you an old standby." Right away he said, "Oh, Brut deodorant?" He was right. I LOVE the smell of that stuff and I don't care if it was hot in the 70's. I still like it and it smells more manly than the Axe that is polluting up the rest of my house. Anyway, his comment fed right into what I wanted him to do. I told him that since I knew there was going to be no gift that my gift could be that he could take the boys to their big CF appointment so I didn't have to pull Belle from school or drag Gia there. I don't handle those appointments well at all. I have already said that a million times. I feel tense and anxious and nervous that somehow it will be discovered that I am the worst mom of kids with CF.

I got a, "Maybe" and a, "Why don't we all go together?" We went to dinner on Valentine's Day and it was nice to reconnect. It's very hard to leave kids and bills and worries and gripes home and just enjoy each other but I think we did. We laughed a lot. I found out one of my favorite restaurants has my favorite wine (Moscato, which no one ever does) so that was reason enough to celebrate. At one point, I was teasing him and the conversation went like this:

Me: So, just out of curiosity, do you know what a grand gesture is?
Leo: Yes. Like a surprise. Like if I pack your bags and take you away?
Me: Well, that is a great surprise and a great gift, by the way, as long as you don't tell me I am going to Jamaica and take me to November. 
Leo: Yeah, I know what one is. Like if I show up somewhere where you are at and surprise you with balloons and flowers and stuff like that.
Me: Yes. Something like that. Something that shows me that you still love me or vice versa. Something that screams out, "I love this woman and would do anything for her."
Dead silence for a few minutes.
Me: And since there is obviously no grand gesture coming, just tell me what it was about me that made you fall in love with me and you can be done.

He actually played along and told me which is proof, men that are reading this...we really are so, so easy to please. He might not know it but he did show me a grand gesture of how much he loves me. He took the boys without me to the CF appointment. It might not be a boom box outside my window but he saved me a lot of stress by doing it himself. In my eyes, that was better than a piece of jewelery. I appreciate it so much that he took that weight off of my shoulders.

The boys are doing great. Leo said everyone said that this was their best appointment yet. Nico gained 9lbs.Tommy gained 4. Both grew a few inches. Their breathing tests were off the charts normal. Hopefully their blood will come back okay, too. All in all, prayers were answered and the boys are continuing to do well. Thank God!

Side bar: Today, parts 1 and 2 of the blog came in the book form. What a complete rush! I am on a cloud right now just having it in my hands. It is professional-looking and makes me feel like a real author. It is so that I have something tangible of the writing I did all year and it is the best feeling. My kids' reaction to seeing in print was awesome. They wanted to read it and touch it and laughed at some of what they read. Nico wants me to buy a bunch of copies to sell. It is so cute how easy they think it is. I can't help smile when I look at it. I recommend everyone that has a blog do it!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Compromise

I can honestly say I don't know what I am doing. I didn't think I'd miss blogging so much but I do. I am happy to say that I have Parts 1 and 2 of the blog being printed as I write this. I am working on Part 3. I'm excited to have a year's worth of writing in a tangible form. I am a little discouraged at any prospect of writing coming from the blog since I don't have a computer with any memory right now. Leo has promised me that he'll get mine fixed but anyone that has read this knows how that goes.

I am truly flattered by the outpouring of comments, emails, texts and calls I have gotten all week from readers being sad that I am not blogging anymore. I want to stay true to what I have set out to do and the challenge of writing a book from it but I really do miss it so I have decided that I will post once a week. That is a good compromise, I think. I am undecided about whether to post on Facebook but am leaning toward posting there when I do blog. Since Google makes it hard to comment on here, I want readers to have a place where they can comment. I do think that I am going to take my page down for the blog since I can't make it private. Those that want to follow it from the page, you can friend me and see it that way.

The more I think about the negative comments I got regarding posting it on Facebook from people that haven't or don't want to read it, the more it makes me want to keep posting it there. It's funny that the initial feeling is to shrink back but after more thought, I feel like coming out fighting mad. I also think the assumptions about what I am writing about are hilarious. Let's just say there are a lot of people that are very full of themselves.

The most exciting and daunting task is fictionalizing the blog. I know it can be done but I can't even get past renaming all the people that would be in it with my name being the hardest to decide. We are so tied to our name when it is an uncommon one. It's hard to go from an AnnMarie to a Sarah. I might just decide to keep mine. My extended family didn't want to be in the blog but I can't write a book and not include them so a good friend came up with an idea: sit everyone down and ask how they want to be portrayed. That alone will fictionalize that part. The chance to get to be whatever they want might be exciting for them. I'm going to do the same with my friends. For myself, I can't decide: freelance writer or work for the hospital taking pictures of stillborn babies. I know the ladder sounds sad and depressing but I have been there and I wish I had better pictures of Rocco. I'd love to be able to give that gift to someone else because it truly is priceless.'s my book. Maybe I'll do both. The problem with giving myself any sort of job is that at the heart of the story is being a stay-at-home mom and the craziness that comes along with it. They say that truth is better than fiction and I'll be honest...I don't know that I can come up with crazier stuff than the stuff that actually happens in this house. See what I mean about it being a daunting task?

Anyway, it is good to be back or at least once a week and already I have topics that I have been itching to talk about. Look for posts that are about love, bullying, Nico's bad luck, girl drama, debt and the things we go into it for and Scrabble (and the ginormous headache that goes with it). This week will have two posts because there is this one and I want to do the love one this week since it is Valentine's week. I've already been informed that Leo's belief that it is a "Hallmark holiday" still holds true which means...a whole lot of nothing is coming my way. That's okay. A whole lot of nothing is going his way as well.

I wonder if you all miss the blog as much as I miss writing it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Not Goodbye Forever but Goodbye For Now

This has been really hard. Apparently, I didn't talk to my many peeps before making this decision. I am flattered by the people that have commented or called or emailed me. I have many favorite comments but one for sure is, "I have my morning coffee with you and your blog every morning. How am I going to start my day now?" Others were, "If you love doing it, why are you stopping?" "You did make me feel less alone." "I enjoyed hearing about your life." Another reader pointed out how many hits to the site I have. The best advice, not surprising, was from my dad. It's so funny that no matter how old you are, your parents' words of wisdom hold so much value. I guess they installed the buttons so they know the ones to push and what you need to get the others to work. I don't need to stop writing as much as I need to organize where I want to go from here. A year of writing almost everyday is a lot of "stuff" to have written. I'm going to take some time to see what I can do with what I've already done. One idea is to fictionalize the blog into a book form. I like that idea. The other is to only use the blog as a springboard for an entirely different book but along the same lines--have characters based on my family but put them in fictional situations. I didn't know I'd get such a thrill out of writing about the monotony of parenting so maybe I could do something with that. A part of me hasn't thrown away the idea of writing an inspirational book in seeing the light through tough situations. There are a few different ways to go and like my dad said, "I need to stop being my own obstacle. I need to trust that people want to read my stuff and have the confidence to look at and work at the next step, whatever that might be."

The main thing I learned from doing this is that I absolutely love to write. I have written for myself since I was 12. It felt amazing to write for others. It gave me a sense of purpose. What I gained was that even in the most stressful of times, I could look for the humor so that I could write about it here. That is huge for me and something I probably will take away from this. A wise friend and huge supporter of mine said writing is like watching TV. If you don't like what is on, change the channel. If you don't like what I am writing, don't read it. I need to remind myself of that. There are hurtful people out there that don't want you to succeed or want to knock you down when you are feeling pretty good. I need to remember that just because someone states their opinion doesn't mean I have to take anything from it. I can leave it at the door with a "Don't like it, don't read it" response. I learned that my voice won't fit everywhere. Some places want controversy and heated discussions. I am just a stay at home mom, married to my best friend writing about our life together. It's not going to be for everyone. (Thanks, D.W. for that nugget. I use it all the time.) I am still learning about what kind of writer I want to be and maybe I'll keep this blog open for the followers of it and bounce ideas off of them until I find out. I am definitely taking it off of Facebook. If you like it, you are more than welcome to keep following me through Google (I know they don't make it that easy) but I'll be scaling back how often and what I choose to share. Sorry to be offensive but I let a few people and things **** all over the blog and my dream to write and shame on me for almost giving it up entirely. I gave too many people that aren't in any way deserving the power to do that.

I stand by the fact that there are things in my life that I would love to blog about but can't so it is making it hard to write about other things. I can't write about my relationship with Leo's mom without causing problems with Leo and me (most of it would be a laugh a minute but it gets clouded with the fact that she and I have a strained relationship). I can't write about how fourth grade must be the beginning of girl drama because Belle cries every night and every morning without people wondering who I am talking about. It's gotten to the point when I am with my family (parents and sisters) and something is said or we are doing something and someone will say, "This better not be on the blog." I don't want people to not want to be around me because they are afraid something is going to end up in the blog. Although I have enjoyed when people ask for me to give them a "shout out." I could write a book on the relationships between my sisters. We are a tight bunch, the five of us and it would be a riot but some things are not to be shared and I know that. Being as close as I am with my mom and dad and my sisters, and not writing about some of that doesn't give you the whole picture of me or the chaos I live in. Not all chaos is bad chaos and that is certainly true of my life and this blog.

I set out to post links to my favorite posts but it is too hard and it makes stopping even harder. I think my favorites have always been my random thoughts posts. The others that rank high are the tribute/birthday ones. The ones I got the most comments about were the ones about me hating being back in the grade my kids are in or the "too much parenting" ones. The whole cancer scare was a little surreal. It felt good to have the blog during the house stuff because it feels good to finish something you start. I think the ones that I'm most proud of were the ones about not being mom of the year. I think we all need to remind ourselves that we are only human and we are flawed and that it's okay. I'm proud of the fact that in a small way, I took the mask of "it's all rainbows and candy" off and showed an honest view of marriage and parenthood. I wish more people would do that.

If you are reading this, thank you...thank you...thank you for reading and for the support. I hope as I muddle my way to the next step, you'll be close by. :)

What would be a goodbye for now post without a video that I think sums the moment all up:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Soul Searching

I did some soul searching (after Gia finally fell asleep) while on vacation and February 7th is my year anniversary of my blog. I think I am going to make it my last entry. I love blogging but maybe it is time to go back to being somewhat anonymous or private. There are parts of my life that I would love to blog about but just can't and not being able to is making it hard to write about other things. I started out writing the blog because I wanted to get paid to write but when I applied for things, it wanted a link to my blog. I didn't have one so I made one. I didn't know at the time how much joy I would get from writing it so applying for jobs took a backseat. I have appreciated most of the feedback I have gotten and it is pretty cool when someone tells you that they like your writing or what you've had to say or that it inspired them or even that I've made them feel less alone. I feel like I touched on a few topics that caused people to stop and think. I also feel like some could read it and feel very thankful that what they thought was a chaotic life they were leading actually could be a lot more chaotic.

Some of you might be surprised that Leo and the kids were the most disappointed when I told them I wasn't going to do it anymore. I explained to Nico that I thought he'd like his life to be more private and do you know what he said? "Yeah, that would be good but you love doing it, Mom so you shouldn't stop." Leo surprised even me by being so adamant about me continuing. He's mad that I didn't petition Google again to get paid and that I am letting a little aggravation and a few obstacles stop me from doing it. At some point, though, it has to end. I'm not going to keep writing about my life until I die. Even I know that would be boring. Leo's funny but he's not that funny. It seems like ending it at the year mark is a good time to do it.

Tomorrow's post will be a look back and what I have learned the last year (it might be a long one).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wisconsin Dells

The three hour ride up to the Dells was filled with laughter and promises of fun to be had. After neatly eating their McDonald's dinner in the car and talking and laughing for about an hour, the kids fell asleep. Leo and I had stimulating conversation where we talked about day to day things as well as hopes and dreams for the future. Apologies were made over less than uplifting behavior and words in the last three weeks. That was a glimpse of things to come. The kids got along the entire three days, Gia slept like a champ and everyone had three square meals a day. We went to a water park and the kids skied. They all remembered how to do it even though they hadn't been skiing for three years. The girls went tubing where going up and down the hills was more fun than I've had in months. It was a completely fulfilling family weekend.

Okay, I am trying my hand at some fiction writing. How did I do?

In reality, I had to keep yelling, "If you don't stop, we are never doing this again!" Someone kept grumbling, "Shoot, I just spilled." I'm not sure anyone slept at all this weekend and they for sure did not have 3 meals a day. Leo and I did not have stimulating conversation. It was depressing conversation as we talked about all the upcoming things that are going on and how he isn't going to be home (I hate conversations that start with, "When I have to go to Europe..."). We talked a lot about Spring Break. I got the feeling that he hasn't told his mom we aren't going there this year. I really want to go to Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head. Leo keeps saying he'll look into it but that is usually code for "not going to happen". I'm sure we are too late to trade our condo for one in either of those places during that time and since doing that or going to his mom's is the only way we vacation these days, it might be a pipe dream. The other alternative is to try and visit my dear friend in Texas over one of those weekends (K, what do you think?).

We did go to a water park and I had one of those pure joy moments when we bought the tickets to the half water park, half indoor amusement park and saw the kids' faces and how excited they were. I love that. It's the same feeling I get when we go to Disney. I don't go on any rides but to see the happiness in their faces warms my heart. It was pretty much downhill after that. Gia didn't take to sleeping between Leo and me and tossed and turned and cried every night. She never napped so there was never a break. We found out after getting her all dressed up in her little pink snowsuit that she was too little to tube and after I went down a few times, I can't believe I didn't remember how terrifyingly fast it goes and that there was no way she could have gone. I am old. I hated how fast I flew down the hill and how I felt like I was going to fly over the side. I hit so many bumps, my back and rear were screaming, "What the hell are you doing?" and "You'll pay for this later." At one point, the tube left without me and I tried to grab it but instead got dragged along with it until the guy stopped it. It was definitely one of my classier moments. Gia and I left while the others stayed back. Isabella did end up skiing and I am so glad that she got over her fear. Tommy had a rough time in the beginning. I kept telling them to go on the bunny hill first but he is so stubbornly competitive with Nico that he went straight for the big hills falling the entire time. He went back out and conquered it which I am glad for but still think I was right. I'm not sure what the kids ate the entire time we were there. At one point, I made eggs for everyone and when Gia and I were alone, I made her the chicken she loves so much but that is it. I think I ate my weight in M&M's (pretzel and almond) but it was my reward for not going crazy in Wisconsin stuck in a small condo with a two year old.

The indoor roller coaster. I thought it was pretty loopy for being indoor.

How Gia felt waiting around for the others to finish at the water park.

We were alone in the condo. Thank God for the portable DVD player.

I love this picture of them.

The skiers.

Obviously, I chose warmth instead of fashion and forgot about taking a family picture when I decided I didn't know anyone in Wisconsin so I could go without make up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Some Random Items

I will be offline from tonight until Saturday. Leo and I are taking the kids up to the Dells. I'm not sure if there is enough snow to ski but we are going to a water park, too. I am so beyond excited to be getting away for a little bit. I'm sure I'll have a million things to talk about when I come back. If history repeats itself, things will be as lovely as a Norman Rockwell painting for about ten minutes and then the chaos that lives in this house will just be transferred to the Dells. Why does it take more work getting ready to go away than actually going away?

I am disgusted with The Bachelor and might have to stop watching it. Is Ben really that stupid? I'm sure he is encouraged by the producers to keep Courtney around and she does do a great job of being all sweet with him and then an evil b**** with the other women but even the drama she is producing is uncomfortable to watch. I don't care if she is playing some part on a show that most likely isn't real but she is borderline psycho. I really liked Jennifer and am sad that she was let go. There are a few women that he keeps giving roses to that I don't get. I don't even remember they are on the show until the rose ceremony.

Dance Moms continues to be a train wreck and I have to laugh at myself for watching it and rooting for the women that last season I really didn't like. I'm still not sure I like them but when new people come on, I find myself siding with the old moms (old as in last season, not old as in age). I cringe when I hear things come out of Abby's mouth and I am really hoping that the new mom, Leslie and her daughter, Payton are gone after next week. It makes me very happy that all of my kids play "team" sports.

RHOBeverly Hills: I am really behind on this one and have seen bits of different episodes here and there. I wish Kim Richards would have stayed hidden. I loved the Witch Mountain movies and now I can't even remember when she was little. All I see is the obviously intoxicated in several different ways woman who is uncomfortable to watch. Eddie Cibrian might be one of the cutest guys in Hollywood but his ex-wife is right, he is the biggest sleaze bag. I mean Brandi can't even go into Lisa's opening of her new restaurant without seeing that one of the servers is someone that Eddie cheated on her with. That's bad.

Is it wrong that I refuse to tape American Idol upstairs because it is Leo's favorite show and I want him to watch it downstairs on the half screen TV so he can feel how frustrating it is and fix it or get a new one? Do you know how frustrating it is to be trying to get stuff done and Mickey's Clubhouse goes to half screen every 5 minutes?

On a completely separate note, two questions for you all to think about that I have been thinking about lately:

Would you rather have millions of dollars but never spend a dime or not have a lot of money but spend it like you do? (The old living beyond your means question.)

Would you rather look in the mirror and see a skinny person but have everyone else see an overweight one or look in the mirror and see an overweight person but have the rest of the world see a skinny one? Just wondering.

A huge thank you goes out to Jennifer Long! Thanks for bringing Belle home after every art class. That helped me so much and allowed Belle to stay in the class! You are the best! If she is ever a famous artist some day and wins some award, I'll tell her she has you to thank!