Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Blog in Review

Did you know that I've been writing this blog since 2008? That is a long time. This blog has been with me through a very challenging part of my life (read: teenager) and also a lot of amazing experiences.

So to celebrate the end of an era and the beginning a new one, I thought I'd post the Top 10 Posts of ALL TIME (all time being the last 4 years) - this is a combo of my favorite posts and the most popular posts, as determined by my handy Blogger stats. Think of like when your favorite sitcom just does flashbacks to other episodes...

10. The Invitation is Open Jan 11, 2011
This post is special to me because I'm pretty sure that the Wheel of Fortune/microwave lasagna line helped cement a friendship with my then-coworker, Jodi. Also, it's just so me in its neurotic half-assed resolutions way.

9. The Incrediblest Ediblest Egg Apr 24, 2011
This is really a nothing post, but I'm including it to illustrate the wonders of Google search. This post has been viewed 446 times...and yet, my blog stats say that "egg" has only been the keyword used 32 times. What does this mean? I have no idea. 

8. Getting Oriented Sept. 2, 2008
Aw, back when my boys were just starting kindergarten and I had yet to understand the politics of elementary school. Religion remains a pretty ambiguous concept over here.

7. The Dealins Done Dec. 4, 2008
No list of my blog posts would be complete without at least one mention of Las Vegas. I have blogged about it 25 times and visited it at least 8 times during the life of this blog (yes, that's crazy and awesome!). This was a weird trip. I got sick. My husband had to work. We saw Robin Leach. Good times.

6. I Won't Worry My Life Away Jul 23, 2008
This is another one that made the list because of the number of views. Had it not received 111 hits, I probably would have forgotten about it, but I like it because it's like a little postcard from one of the many gut-wrenching periods with the teenager. Also, that song could be my ironic soundtrack.

5. Making a Pake Feb 6, 2011
Remember when I put a pie inside a cake on Super Bowl Sunday? It was so fun and exciting! And lots of other people apparently thought so too, because it's been viewed nearly 500 times! But my favorite baking adventure comes further down the list...

4. A Drive from Seattle to LA Aug 20, 2011
Although this one blog post doesn't do it justice, this roadtrip was more than a 40 by 40 accomplishment, it was something that I will remember forever and I hope my kids will, too.  So much fun!

3. 40 by 40 Jun 3, 2009
It was the day before my 32nd birthday when I decided to write my own 40 by 40 list. I didn't come up with the idea, but I like to think that I've spread its joy even further. I am so grateful for this idea and so happy that I've kept up with it and so excited to be able to look back, on my 40th birthday, at all that I've accomplished! If you haven't already done so, I hope this post will get you inspired to make your own...the new year is great time to start!

2. Potlucks R (Not) Us Nov 9, 2008
This is probably my favorite post of all time mostly because it still makes me laugh when I read it, but also because it so nicely captures the insanity of my life back then. It would have been #1 on this list, were it not for the crazy amount of attention that the post in the number 1 slot got. Still, I sometimes wonder if I could maybe just make a living by having baking disasters. (and no, I've never volunteered to bake another thing at school)

1. My Thoughts on Jenny McCarthy Sept. 25, 2008
This post has been viewed by more than 1100 people, making it my most popular by far, but it's also one of my favorites. I'm happy to say that Ms. McCarthy doesn't make as many headlines these days, yet, weirdly, this post still gets multiple hits per week. If I could find a way to hit that sweet spot where my maternal instincts, passion and fury all collide more often...well, I might have written a (very angry) book by now.

Do you have a favorite that I didn't post? Let me know.

As always, thank you for reading. My new blog (with an improved 40 by 40 list) is not quite ready, but I'll be back Jan. 1 with a link.

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Your Troubles will be Out of Sight

Merry Christmas, blogosphere! I hope that you are all feeling merry and bright.

Even after being in the Christmas spirit for the past month or so, our actual celebration still felt like a whirlwind of family and wrapping paper. I suppose every Christmas has its own personality to it...this one felt very thoughtful to me on the receiving end and yet on the giving end, it felt a little flaky on my part. I just feel like I wasn't as thoughtful as I would have liked to be. I was proud of a few gifts that I gave because I knew the recipients would feel very loved when they opened them, but then I dropped the ball on a couple. Most notably in the video are department for the boys.

I believe the exact quote when Aidan opened his gift from Santa this year (following a look of confusion) was: "This is the first time I've ever gotten a present that I didn't want." He felt free to say this, of course, because stupid Santa wasn't there. I quickly remembered that while he HAD, in fact, been crazy for this game at one point a few months ago, we had rented it one night and it was total disaster and he decided that he hated said game. Maybe I blocked it all out...maybe I just had a lot on my mind. Oh well...I doubt this traumatized him any more than Gremlins did. (Friendly tip: if your kids still believe in Santa and also have never seen anything resembling a horror movie, do not let them watch Gremlins...especially not on Christmas Eve...big oops.)

On a related note, if you ever decide to put together a 25 Movies of Christmas list, I also suggest you leave off Love, Actually (naked people everywhere!), Edward Scissorhands (not really a Xmas movie), and honestly, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, because it's just not very good.

But whatever. All is calm, all is bright. We are still having a lovely, lovely holiday. My husband gave me guitar lessons for Christmas. This is possibly the most thoughtful gift I have ever received. "Learn to play guitar" is on my 40 by 40 list, as I've harbored a longing to be able to play since I was maybe 14, but it's one of those things I didn't think I'd ever get around to doing...even though I really, really want to do it. A seriously awesome gift. Plus that's one less revision I'll need to make to my 40 by 40 list when I move to my new blog, which I will be doing in the new year. Details to come!

I hope you all have ribs in your slow cookers like I do right now, because they smell amazing. Hope you have the merriest!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

33 is Off the List

I've returned to the blog to say that I crossed another 40 by 40 item off the list! I gave up dairy for a week, and honestly, it was so uneventful that it's taken me two weeks to blog about it.

Here's what I can tell you: Dairy isn't as hard to avoid as I thought, but I didn't feel any better from not eating it. In fact, I was just crabby about all the things I couldn't eat. Although coconut yogurt is quite good. I've been told I have to give it up for at least 2 weeks to notice a difference, but I think I'll pass.

So here we are, deep into the most wonderful time of the year. We've been doing the 25 Movies of Christmas, which was really fun to conceptualize and much harder to execute. Turns out that there isn't always time to sit down and watch a movie with the kids every single day, which means we've got a backlog...which means we'll be watching at least four movies this weekend, which is pretty much ok with me.

As we approach the new year, I'm trying to get motivated to start a new blog. I tried to get back together with this one, but it's not working out. I'm so not in the mommy blogger space anymore...I need a new focus. Travel, food, neuroses...Las Vegas, dessert, party planning for those with social anxiety? So many possibilities.

My big hangup about closing this blog down is my 40 by 40 list, so I think I'll have to give it a facelift and move it. I've got 4.5 years left to cross everything off and there are still a few things I want to take off the list, so I'll have to come up with some new stuff. Cheating? Well, sort of. Except it would be sillier to do things I don't really care about doing anymore just because they are on the list, than it is to just update the list.

If I really wanted to get crazy I would just have my blog be a list for each year...12 things in 12 months? I definitely couldn't keep up with my age, like 36 by 36. Hmmmm...well, I've still got more than 2 weeks to think about it.

May your days be merry and bright!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


October is almost over. I'm torn between whether to feel more guilty about not blogging or not eating enough pumpkin...I think I technically still have the whole Thanksgiving season and maybe even the full holiday season to eat pumpkin, so I suppose I should feel guilty about the blog. Sorry, blog.

I'm about to enter week 4 at my new job. I'm happy to report that it's going well. I'm still adjusting to the commute and the extra hour that it adds to my work days, but the job itself is great.

I'm holding off on getting into the Christmas spirit until Halloween has passed, but 'tis the season for vacation planning! Yes, it's always vacation planning season in my mind, but right now is when I begin obsessively researching beach vacations, as I see the approaching winter. Every year I declare that we must take a beach vacation every February, as that is the cold, hard center of our brutal winters.

But most years we don't really do that. Sometimes I get over-excited and we take a trip in December or January (too early) and other years, we wait until March or April (torture). And sometimes we don't go anywhere. Or rather, we take the boys to the waterpark and pretend it's a vacation (which works for them, but not so much for me).

We decided against the Top Chef cruise, so this year my sights are set on Florida - not for Disney, but because I want to take the kids to Kennedy Space Center and also, Owen got really excited when he learned you could take canoe tours through the Everglades (add that to the list of things I would only do for my kids). Also, sitting on a beach in Miami while it's below zero here sounds pretty nice...and it's way cheaper than Hawaii.

But I also want to go to LA, where we have several friends I'd like to visit. It's just not very hot there in February. More importantly, we were just there last summer.

The bigger question is really whether we should actually be taking a winter vacation at all. It certainly would not hurt our bank account to stay home all winter. (but it will hurt my brain!) The deciding factor is really whether we decide to do the big Ireland trip this summer. If we commit to that, then there's probably a waterpark in my future. A waterpark and me telling myself that planning my dream trip to Ireland makes up for being stuck in the frozen tundra for the duration.

Picture me on an inner tube with a laptop, reading reviews of Irish castles,  surrounded by one thousand screaming children. (Gee, when I put it that way it does seem like the obvious choice.)

Like the Christmas spirit, I think I'll just put this decision off a bit longer. This week is all about Halloween. Well, half the week anyway.

The boys are being Death and Luigi. Maybe will be the title of Owen's memoir.

I've already done my celebrating by running a 5K (WITHOUT dying!) and giving up sweets. Brilliant! What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Never Say Never

I promised a post about the new job. Problem is...although there are only like 12 of you who still read this blog...I don't want to go into detail because I don't really want my employer keeping up on my latest neurosis.

But, the short story is that I am returning to the corporation that I left 7 years ago and to which I said I would never, ever return. (cue Taylor Swift)

What can I say? Things change. I don't want to say I'm an entirely different person than I was 7 years ago, but I'm definitely not the same. Back then I had twin 2.5 year olds. I was just coming off a prolonged legal battle over my deceased father's estate. I didn't realize how traumatized I had been by both my babies premature birth and my father's death.

I was actively fighting the loss of my former self...because, honestly, before I had kids I used to be kinda like an obvious way. (It's not totally gone, it's just a lot more subtle now.) And I could not reconcile my former life and my current life, with what I wanted for my life.

Not that I've got it all figured out now, of course, but at least I've come to (mostly) terms with the fact that the life I want cannot be afforded by two parents being starving artists. Also, I can admit that it's a lot easier to work places with resources and infrastructure. It's nice to accomplish things. It's nice to be able to go on vacation. And it's really fucking nice to have health insurance that actually covers things.

It should also be noted that although I'm going back to the same corporation, it's not the same job. And I'm really excited about this new job and this new team and kind of getting a chance to go back and do things differently this time. And it doesn't hurt that I still have a slew of friends who work there. Do not underestimate the importance of friendly faces at work.

I don't start for another week, but I've got that back-to-school nervous excitement vibe happening. And this song is on a loop in my head...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All Aboard

I’m writing this from a train. (I’m hopefully posting it from the train too, but the wifi has been spotty.) I am making the trip from Manhattan to Philly in the final leg of East Coast Baby Tour 2012. Did I even tell you about the baby tour? Sigh.

You know how Ani Difranco has that lyric about wanting to be like Duke Ellington and travel around in her own railroad car? I totally agree. I’d like my own railroad car…maybe there could be a way to buy your own and then have it hooked up to a train when you want to go places? Train travel is just so pleasant in a way that air travel can never be (unless you’re flying in a private jet, but sadly, I am not on the track to becoming a billionaire).

So yes, East Coast Baby Tour 2012 was originally a trip to Philly, but it got expanded upon learning that one can fly from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh to New York, take the train to Philly and then fly back to Minneapolis for roughly 40% less than one can fly round-trip from Minneapolis to Philly. It makes no sense, but it did allow me to line up visits with all of my East Coast friends – including several who have gained children since last I saw them.

I’m not going to go into all the details of everywhere I’ve been and the babies I have kissed, but what’s been interesting to me is just getting to pass through people’s lives this way. They’ve all generously welcomed me into their homes and I get a glimpse of the way other people live and the way that couples interact with each other – it’s super interesting, I recommend it.

I think it’s easy to miss all the nuances that your particular relationship with your spouse has acquired over the years (especially when it’s been more than a decade) – things that you take for granted, ways of communicating, even just evening routines. Observing other people gives insight into them as well as yourself. And I love insight.

So anyway, I’ve been traveling all over the place for the last 5 days, with 2 to go. It’s been weird traveling alone like this, although I haven’t really been alone, of course. It’s nice. And also I miss my family. It’s a good mental health break from work and family life though. No worrying about taking care of anyone or anything but me. (On that note, I got a spontaneous midday massage in Manhattan at Bunya Citispa and it was possibly the best massage of my life.)

This trip was both well- and poorly-timed as it turns out, as I got a new job (!) pretty suddenly last week (I’ll have to write a separate post about that), so this mental respite is much needed and yet it leaves me with only one more week of doing my current job before I start the new one, which will ultimately be fine, but isn’t exactly the ideal way to hand things off…but, like I said, it will ultimately be fine. Actually, the trip is a lot more than fine – it's been pretty amazing getting to see so many people and places in such a short time…I’m already plotting a family train trip maybe for next summer.

All aboard!

Monday, September 3, 2012


The (former) teenager turns 21 today. That seems both impossible and...well, mostly impossible. I am hoping that this year will bring him happiness and maturity. The degree to which he embraces common sense will likely dictate how that turns out.

All in all, life is pretty good. Summer is ending, school starts for the boys tomorrow. They are 4th graders, which is almost as impossible as my stepson being 21. They are excited. We are hoping this year will be better for Owen and that Aidan will find his people in his new gifted class.

Now is the time of year that I question all my life choices and crave change even if everything is fine. I'm trying to ride it out until winter suppresses all motivation. Pretty soon we'll wake up and tomorrow will be Christmas.

And I have an inexplicable urge to watch The Wonder Years.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where Cruise Ships and Reality TV Collide

It's still mid-August, it's still mid-August, it's still mid-August...I just want to try to hold onto it for another minute before it's suddenly Christmas. Minnesota has decided that it's fall already and even though I LOVE long-sleeves-no-jacket weather, I'd like to savor these few remaining weeks of summer before school starts again and the holidays start and we enter the tunnel of darkness known as winter here.

So, anyway, did you hear about the Top Chef Cruise? I think I might have actually jumped up in the air a little when I first heard. Not only would this put me on a boat with Tom, Gail and several of the cheftestants I adore, but it would accomplish two of my 40 by 40 items: take a cruise and eat key lime pie in Key West. And I really need to start knocking those list items off, as I've been neglecting the list lately.

Tickets just went on sale a few days ago and I've been agonizing over whether or not to do it. My supportive  husband is willing to indulge in my Top Chef obsession if it comes with a beach and an ocean, so we're good there. The cost is somewhat ridiculous for a 4-day cruise, but I'm willing to put it in the column of "priceless experiences," so that's the not the major hangup, either. I think my hesitation comes from knowing that even though it could be amazing and, sure, Gail and I could wind up having cocktails together and becoming BFFs and she could offer me a job as a taster on Just could also be really, really bad.

I'm picturing being herded into an auditorium like cattle to watch a completely scripted "Quickfire Challenge" with mildly-seasick cheftestants and a bored Tom Colicchio, whom I can only partially see because our seats are so far away. And a standard cruise buffet with little placards calling out ingredients used in past episodes of Top Chef ("Wasabi white chocolate sauce inspired by Richard Blais, Season 4!") vs. anything resembling an actual Top Chef meal.

Basically, I'm scared of being totally disappointed. Plus, I don't want to spend three times what a 4-day cruise should cost, only to find out that I'm on a regular 4-day cruise with a few TV celebrities.

None of this is to say that I don't still want to go, I'm just not sure it's worth the risk. If money truly were no object, I'd for sure do it just to see, but this would end up being our big trip for the year and that adds a bit of fact, I think I'll start my own reality show, "Travel Booker," where traveltestants plan vacations on a limited budget and are forced to make split-second decisions. I will be the judge who takes all of their vacations and decides which one was best.

I think I'll bounce the idea off Tom while we're sipping mai tais at the pool.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Accomplishments (and not so much)

I'm closing out a week without kids. Well, five days, really, but still...the boys are at camp, sleeping in cabins and swimming in a lake and running around being silly, loud little boys the way little boys used to be before we all got tethered to televisions. They are most likely having the best. time. ever. They will come home a dirty, bug-bitten, tired mess. I will smother them with kisses anyway.

I accomplished nothing this week. Good thing my only goal was not to cook (check!). I didn't even buy groceries.

When I wasn't working or spending too much money eating out, I was watching the Olympics. I would have watched more, but I knew I'd regret sitting at home watching TV all week when I could be out playing.

Just another day at the office...
But when I do watch, I am of course awed and inspired (inspired to do what? I don't know), but what I think is, "Wow, there are people rowing kayaks/running the track/flipping through the air/etc. right now and that activity has been their singular focus for the last several months/years." It seems both amazing and crazy.

If you devote your life to, say, table tennis and then you DON'T become an Olympic athlete, have you wasted a large portion of your life on a useless skill, or is it still rewarding somehow? I'm not making a judgement, I'm just wondering. It seems risky.

I'm actually watching the kayaking right now and thinking how great it must be to spend your days outside on the water. I mean, I'm sure they do other exercise, too, but to have your "job" essentially be to get out and row a kayak as fast as you can is just so drastically different from my life that I like to try to imagine it. Sort of like joining the circus...I don't really want to, but it's a fun thing to imagine.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I'm Back

I'm not giving up on this blog. I decided. I thought I might give up on it, but then I realized that I missed it and so, here I am.

I should have lots of things to tell you since I've been gone for nearly two months...

I started writing again, which maybe is why I'm returning to my blog. I'm not writing anything in the sense that were I at a cocktail party and you introduced me as a writer (don't do that), and the stranger asked, "Oh what do you write?" I would have an answer. Not that kind of writing. More like the building up to that kind of writing. The re-building, where I try to force myself to get up and write every morning, which usually ends up meaning I write maybe 4 mornings, which is a lot more than zero.

I read "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" for book club (please note: I have the best book club ever) and at first I hated the structure of it, but then, a few more pages in, I wanted to be a writer who can write in such a seemingly simple style and have it resonate with everyone.

I've decided that one of the biggest challenges of parenthood is learning to see your kids not as an extension of you, but just as their own people who happened to emerge from your body. I haven't figure out how to do it yet, but I think it might be the secret to raising well-adjusted adults.

I planned a trip. Well, I haven't really planned it as much as the airfare has been booked. I'm headed to the east coast for a week. Just me. Visiting friends in Pittsburgh, New York City, and Philly - almost all of them with little kids. I might be crazy, but I'm pretty excited. I am also filled with anxiety about leaving for a week because it feels a little bit irresponsible. I'm trying to view that as a good thing since I've already been responsible enough for a person twice my age. Trying.

Work might be crushing my soul a little bit. Occasionally I have panic attacks where I desperately hope that someone will come save me from this career path that I have haphazardly fallen into. Then sometimes I realize that this job is exactly what I thought it would be when I took it. Sure the dysfunction is a little different than I expected, but really, I had a decent idea of what I was getting into. And then I let myself believe maybe it was going to be better than what I knew it was...and then I forgot what I knew and I thought that my new expectations were grounded in some sort of reality. I'd still like to be a person who can just go to work and have it mean nothing. I'd at least like to be that person until I can afford to have a job that means something again.

None of what I just wrote really does justice to the fact that I'm having a pretty nice summer. I'm thrilled that it's Olympics time again. I love, love, love watching people make their dreams come true. My husband thinks I'm a little crazy because nearly everything having to do with the Olympics makes me cry, but I can't help it. It's rare that determination is so tangible. These people have given their lives to being the best at something. It's just completely inspiring.

Quick, go enjoy the rest of July before it's over. I'll be back soon. Promise.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where it goes

I have been alive for 35 years. Hooray! Yesterday, I think I ate a cupcake for every year of my least, that's what it feels like.

I'm not thrilled about the age 35, but I'm reminding myself how young it will seem in a few more years. This same rule applies to my boys, who will be 9 tomorrow. NINE. As in, nearly a decade. Where does the time go?

Tonight, I will celebrate with my family. On Friday, I will eat a fancy dinner that you can only justify when you or someone you love is celebrating a milestone.

Tomorrow, the boys will bring treats to school. On Saturday, they will have six of their (not so) little friends over and we'll eat lots more cake. Then I have to leave for Boston for four days for work. :(

The next weekend is Father's Day and then two days later is my husband's birthday.

Yesterday I was 34 and had 8 year-olds. Tomorrow I'll be 35 with 9 year-olds.

And that is where the time goes. Did you hear the whooshing?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing and what's written

I'm in a writing class! It's actually designed for people who need to cultivate a writing, you know, procrastinators like me. We're doing tiny writing exercises. 10 minutes a day. And it doesn't require any thought beyond those 10 minutes, really. And it's making me see that writing is truly like exercise and I just have to train my body - my mind, really - to do it on a daily basis. I have to train my writing muscle if I ever want to write that marathon...or book, or whatever.

In not-really-related news, my mom wants to start a blog. Something about being retired and doing yoga. She asked me for help setting it up. I am happy to help, of course, but there is the whole issue of me not actually ever telling her that I have my own's one of those things that would be hard to mention now, after all these years, without admitting that I've not mentioned it on purpose. I considered that of course...mentioning it. I considered acting like, "Oh, would you have been interested in knowing that I blogged?" as if it just hadn't really ever occurred to me. But that's so stupid that she might actually think I was losing my mind. But more importantly, as much as I want to get to a place where I can be totally honest and not care what my mother thinks, I'm not there. And if I told her about the blog, she would most definitely read it and she would probably cry and most definitely judge and I'd be getting emails saying things like, "You know, I tried my best," or some other guilt-inducing thing. I could probably actually start a mirror blog composed entirely of her commentary on every one of my posts back through time. So yes, I'm choosing not to go there.

My therapist would totally not approve. But hey, it gives me lots to write about.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Approaching 35

I'm turning 35 in five weeks. I don't want to say I'm dreading it, but I'm not exactly thrilled to be on the closer side of 40.

To make it more palatable, I've dubbed it the 1/3 mark in my journey to live to be 105. In addition to making me feel slightly less old, it means that I'll have an excuse to throw a big party when I turn 52 1/2! It's pretty crazy to think about the fact that I wasn't even born 35 years ago and here am I looking at maybe having twice the amount of time I've already lived to do more stuff...and I don't even have to go through all those years of learning basics like walking and talking.

As my birthday approaches, I'm seriously considering re-imagining my 40 by 40 list. I hate to think of giving up on it, but as I look through what's left, it's a lot of travel and a few random things that don't seem all that important anymore. For example, doing my own taxes actually seems like a bad idea, seeing as we rely on our fantastic tax preparer to remind us of all the deductions that we would otherwise forget. If I were to do our taxes, I guarantee we'd have to pay in.

I still like the idea of having goals, I just want to make a new list...I don't know. I think I need a list of places I want to visit in my lifetime and then a separate list of assorted other things that I want to accomplish by the time I'm 40.

Speaking of accomplishing things, the other thing I've been thinking about is writing and how I'm not really doing any of it. I've been saying this for years, of course, and yet even when I say I'm not doing it, I find a way of doing even less of it. I need to write. I need to get over the idea that I have to be able to make a living at it and just do it because it's good for me. Like taking vitamins. I'll surely never make a living at taking vitamins, but I need to do it because it helps keep me healthy.

Maybe I'll write the book that will heal me of the wounds inflicted by raising the (former) teenager. I won't really get into here other than to say that wounds that I thought were healing have been ripped back open and I'm vacillating between being really deeply hurt and just kind of being angry that I can't catch a break with him. I was the age he is now when he and his father moved in with me. Maybe when he's the age I am now he'll understand the lengths I went to for him and the pain of having it all still come up short. Maybe.

Wouldn't it be cool if gaining wisdom burned calories? Maybe one of my goals should be to open a gym where all the personal trainers are also licensed therapists who counsel you while you work out.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I tend to get overwhelmed with the negatives in my life. They hover like a dark cloud…my need to figure out how to fix them gnaws at me.

Sometimes though, I snap myself out of my snow-coated thought cage and realize that I’m standing in my kitchen at 9 a.m., wearing my pajamas and eating a Cadbury egg. Things can’t be that bad if I don’t have to be anywhere and I’ve got a kitchen and a Cadbury egg, right?

(When I typed that, I realized there’s a wholly depressing other way to interpret that scenario, but for me it was a positive.)

What’s my point? My point is that sometimes I just want to stop thinking about how to be happier and just be happy. I was happy with my Cadbury egg. No, that Cadbury egg won’t pay off my debt or make me love my job, but it was nice while it lasted.

So...I hope you all find your own Cadbury eggs today. Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Your Weekend To-Dos

I have a checklist for you this weekend:

1. Go to Home Depot and buy your blue light bulbs so that you can be ready to Light it Up Blue in support of autism awareness starting on Monday. 

This what my house will look like, only less Empire State Building-like.

2. Go buy buttermilk so you can make a Donut Cake. (I'm assuming you've got the other ingredients on-hand, but maybe not.) Doesn't that just sound fun? Not only was it written by the beloved Catherine Newman, but you can eat it for breakfast, which is what I plan to do tomorrow. 

3. Tell me if I should cut my hair or grow it out for, like, the 25th time. This one is time-sensitive because I have my hair appointment in less than 2 hours...quick! What should I do?! I have yet to discern any pattern in when I choose to cut my hair vs. grow it long, so it could really go either way at this point. I'll probably just let my stylist (that's her title, shut up) decide...I think.

4. Plan a vacation - preferably to Las Vegas!* If you watch Boardwalk Empire, maybe you remember when Nucky tells Maggie "It's important to always have something to look forward to." I whole-heartedly agree. And what's more fun to look forward to than Las Vegas?! Have I mentioned we're going in, oh, 36 days? The restaurant reservations have begun.

And that is my list for you today. Happy Saturday!

*The City of Las Vegas does not sponsor this blog, but I think the powers that be might want to consider it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The sunny life

I recommend that everyone who lives in a cold winter climate do whatever it takes to visit a sunny, warm place during the winter. Even if the winter is mild and you think it's not so bad this year. Really.

We were lucky enough to go to Mexico. (I am such a negligent blogger these days that I don't even think I told you I was going.) Puerto Vallarta, to be exact. It was heaven. Seriously, I actually said to my husband during our trip, "I think heaven is an all-inclusive beach resort."

This was my first all-inclusive experience. We found the place on Trip Advisor. And despite my hours and hours and days and hours of research (because I am obsessive when planning trips), it really just came down to searching "Puerto Vallarta hotels" and then picking the top-rated place in the family category, which happened to be Velas Vallarta. I mean, yes, some of the people who give ratings are crazy, of course, but the majority are regular people who leave comments because they want to be helpful. And when a hotel has more than 1500 reviews and still has a 4.5 star rating, I'm in. 

My goals for the trip were: 
  1. Sit in sun
  2. Drink pina colada in sun
  3. Keep my kids entertained while I do the first two things
I am proud to say that I accomplished all of my goals. The boys are at the perfect age to spend hours in the pool while I read a book. Plus, there were waiters at every turn offering me endless amounts of food and drink. 

I will say that the food wasn't stellar. I wish they'd just offer some fabulous, traditional Mexican food rather than trying to recreate Italian and Mediterranean dishes, but there was always steak and shrimp available, so you could never get into too much trouble. Plus, the kids ate without argument, which counts for a lot more than having some molecular gastronomist on staff. 

Despite all of the laying around we did, the highlight of the trip was the one day we ventured outside of the resort and went ziplining. Since Aidan is a bit of a wild card when it comes to thrill rides (he gets very excited and then becomes terrified), my husband and I both feared that this adventure had the potential to trump the trauma of our dune buggy ride last summer, but after some initial nerves, we had an amazing time. Yes, even after spontaneously bursting into tears when I first saw my little Owen flying away through the trees, I loved it. 

If you're ever in Puerto Vallarta, I recommend Vallarta Adventures wholeheartedly. The crew was amazing and always made us feel safe...even when dangling in the treetops. 

And now we are refreshed and loving each other, but also a little tired of each other, and it's the perfect state to be in when you have to return to your crazy real life. 

It also helps that my husband and I are going to Vegas(!) in less than 8 weeks (without kids) thanks to a fabulous Groupon that has to be used before the end of May. I could get used to this kind of travel schedule. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Special Needs

So, do you watch Parenthood? If you have kids, you really should. I was totally brought to tears last week with the storyline involving Max (the character with Asperger’s) befriending his classmate in the wheelchair. To me, it was like once they gave him a break from having to try to fit in with the typical kids, he was able to find someone he really connected with. I cried. A lot.

We recently had Owen’s three-year IEP review with his school – you review and update an IEP every year, but the three-year is where they do testing and observations to make sure the kid still qualifies for special education services. We didn’t think much of it really since we knew he’d still qualify for services.

The outcome was a little surprising, though, in that they recommended that Owen move from receiving level 2 special ed services to level 3. (Think of typical kids as level 0s) It means that he needs more help than he’s been getting.

On the one hand, this seemed obvious, knowing the trouble he’s had since starting third grade. On the other hand, this isn’t what I wanted to hear. I don’t know whether this is common or not, but ever since Owen was diagnosed and it was clear that he was on the high-functioning end of the spectrum, the people (“the experts”) we've talked to have always given us a pep-talk of sorts along the line of “he’ll be fine.” More than one person has said things to the effect of, “He might even outgrow his symptoms.” And I guess this created an expectation within me that all of this special ed stuff was only temporary…that we didn’t really need to go too far down that road.

I now realize that I was placing that expectation on him and that it was unfair. Really, it’s wrong for people (experts, even) to use that as some sort of carrot. Like, that’s what we should be looking forward to…the day that he can fit in. The day his autism isn't so much damn trouble. And I worry that it was that mentality that finds us here now, at age 8, putting him into the center-based autism program with the autism specialist, when maybe he could have been benefiting from it all along. Maybe things didn't have to be so hard.

I worry, you know. I worry about everything. But in this case, I worry that we should have known to do this sooner. I worry that I've been resisting the special needs realm (getting by with only the bare minimum of help) because I equated it with lower expectations and I never want anyone to expect less of him than what he is capable of. I know that sounds really small-minded of me and I thought I’d gotten over the label thing years ago. Obviously I know that “special needs” does not equate “lower ability,” as I gave birth to the counter evidence, but I’ve still been afraid that many of the programs are geared toward the lowest common cognitive denominator – which, maybe in some cases, they should be – and so I’ve never really felt like we belonged there.

I had a glimmer that I had been thinking about this all wrong just a few months ago when, after a frustrating experience with the local ski school last year, we enrolled him in the adaptive recreation ski program offered through our city. I began to feel relief just filling out the registration paperwork. Questions like, “Describe your child’s conversation ability” and one the choices was “Limited, except for topics he chooses.” And “Describe your child’s ability to cope with stressful situations.” (Seriously, I think they should ask that about all kids.) And he ended up getting one-on-one ski lessons with a teacher who seemed to have unending patience and positive words for him.

This is all to say that trying to hold him accountable to expectations set for people with neurotypical brains isn't asking him to aim high – it’s asking him to develop coping mechanisms rather than helping him hone his innate abilities. So we're trying this new thing and we’re not going to let anyone have lower expectations of him; we’re just going to create realistic expectations and then actually give him the help he needs to meet them.

And hey, maybe along the way, he’ll make some friends who have similar ways of viewing the world...or at least a similar obsession with Pokemon. And maybe that will be exactly what he needs. And it might also be kind of special.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Little Love

It's February in Minnesota and I ran outside yesterday. This would be an uplifting tale of the positive effects of global warming, were it not for the quad that I pulled, or strained, or whatever I did that is causing the pain in my leg. (and I have to run a 7k in less than 4 weeks!)

And now it's snowing. Which I'm not really bummed about. Not just because it means I have an excuse not to run again (did I tell you my treadmill is irreparably broken?), but because when you have a winter that feels like spring, you kind of don't mind when the real winter comes to visit. VISIT.

Have I lulled you to sleep with this blog yet? Sorry, friends. Sometimes I used to write these things ahead of time and edit them before it's more of stream of consciousness thing because otherwise there's just no blog at all.

Ok, so the reason for this post today is that I wanted to spread a little love in the world. This past week, one of my BFFs adopted a baby! Well, the baby is almost two now because international adoption is a bureaucracy of nearly unfathomable proportions (and don't get me started on the injustice done to gay couples in the process) but the important part is that she's here now. Not here, here. She's at home with the parents that I truly believe in my heart she was meant to have. (and you know I don't throw around such mushiness haphazardly)

And that's amazing.

It's just another reminder that miracles happen. They really do.

All my love to the Sade family. I'm dubbing myself an unofficial aunt.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How to Make a Pookie

You may recall that last Super Bowl Sunday, I made a pake. Well, this year, we took on the pookie. That's a pie inside a cookie.

As with the pake, the idea came from CakeSpy, only this year I actually had a bonafide recipe to follow, thanks to the CakeSpy cookbook!

How does one make such an amazing treat? Well, you start by making cookie dough. In this case, it was butterscotch chip cookie dough, which I had never made before, but will probably make again, because YUM.

Then you take this dough and you smush it down into a pie tin...sort of like you're making a crust...even though the pie already has a crust.

I should have mentioned that before I could put the cookie dough in the pie tin, I had to take the pie out of it. It was a frozen apple pie that I par-baked, so it wouldn't be frozen when it went into the pookie.

And now it's time for it to go back into the pie tin, on top of the cookie dough.

Ok, so if I were to make this pookie again, I'd try a pie tin that was larger than the pie. Using the pie tin that came with the pie resulted in a gap between the edge of the cookie dough crust and the top of the pie, so I had to fill it in with dough, as you see here.

Once I was done making what was essentially the walls of the pookie, I covered the whole top of that pretty little pie with dough.

See, it's a giant cookie!

Ok, so then the baking. 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes...I think I must have used too much dough because we had a bit of a breakdown while in the oven. (This scene caused my husband to begin calling it the "pukey.")

But no one who attempts to put a pie inside another dessert could be scared off by a little mid-bake disfiguration, right? Right. So we stayed strong and waited until that dough was golden brown on the edges and...


It's a pookie!

We served it with vanilla ice cream and it was a hit. Seriously good. If you could figure out how to make it less ugly, you could serve this thing in a restaurant. The butterscotch and apple were perfect together. Yummy, yum, yum.

Oh, and we watched some football, too. But the pookie was the show stealer for sure. Yay pookie!

This summer, maybe we'll attempt some sort of sugar cookie/blueberry pie bonanza. And next Super Bowl? Well, it's time to start researching other things we can fit a pie inside.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Notes from a Sunday

Today I started the Skinnygirl Cleanse. I want to lose weight, plus I think Bethenny Frankel is hilarious and skinny, so I figured it couldn't hurt. Also today, I made ribs in the Crockpot and two different pasta salads to eat for lunch this week. I'm now considering making a this a psychological rebellion to the cleanse?

Maybe it's stress. I brought home a lot of work this weekend (something I only do when I HAVE to), but the thing about this work is that it doesn't make any sense to me. I thought that if I had quiet time to sit and look at it, it would magically make sense. But it doesn't. So I gave up. I'm feeling defeated, but I'm trying to convince myself that I am surely a smart enough person that if I've spent this much time trying to figure it out and it still doesn't make sense, then I'm clearly missing a piece of the puzzle. I mean, it's not like I work in astrophysics - this is marketing. I'm probably not stupid. Probably.

So yeah, I'll let you know how these things turn out. Both the cleanse and the stupid thing. One of them is bound to go in my favor...right?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How secure is your tupperware?

Well, hello there. It's been are those New Year's resolutions holding up?

Me, I didn't make any. I surely did not resolve to blog more often, so, you know...we're good there.

I did have a rush of inspiration the other night during which I thought I would make this blog into a "Thought of the Day" thing because it would possibly motivate me to post more often...because I have many thoughts in any given day and surely at least one of them would be worthy of sharing. Clearly I did not then run to my blog and blog...sigh.

I also considered just abandoning ship. Just never coming back to ever blog in 2012. But that would be a little sad I think. I mean, even if I've lost all but three followers on this thing, it still means something to me.

Yeah, so here I am rambling. I'd like to promise you a thought every day. I'd like to.

Instead, what I can deliver to you today is this:

I had a dream maybe a week ago that's really stuck with me because it seems like such a clear message of some sort. I was in a hurry and walking through all different sorts of scenarios...some work-related, some social, but the whole time I was carrying this tupperware container and the lid was too small. I kept looking at it and trying to figure out how to make the lid fit, but I couldn't, and so I had to keep balancing this container (of soup?) and trying not to spill it.

The dream ended with me crouched on a skateboard, riding down a tall a parking ramp at high speeds, still holding the tupperware. Every surface had a Facebook status on it, as if you could now post status updates on every physical surface in the world somehow. I was going really, really fast on that skateboard and then I crashed. And I woke up.

So, you know...may your lids all fit your containers, or something.