Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas letter

I had a giggle this year while attempting to write our annual Christmas letter that goes out with our Christmas cards. It usually highlights the things that we have done, accomplished, people and places we saw, and career moves. But this years letter, we pretty much had one thing to say.

That is, our family changed beautifully and irreversibly forever. We welcomed the future, a slew of hopes and dreams, joy and exhaustion beyond comparison. This guy:

And how do you write this in a Christmas letter?
If you received one, it was amusingly short by our standards.

This kid has altered everything I know about everything. What was important is now not. What was not even on the radar a year ago takes precedence.

Anxiety has been iteresting. I think we all havea litle anxiety, and I consier myself pretty calm. However all of my past anxiety was so self centered. i.e. "will I lose baby weight". "what does my boss think of me" "how do I look" "whos going to judge the cleanliness of my house' "me me me me". And don't get me wrong, I'm pretty self-centered still. Just the meaning has altered. i.e. I want to be healthy to be able to keep up with my kid and be a good example to him.

Now much anxiety is around him. Who is he with. What is he exposed to. Is he growing fast enough compared to everyone else? Is he safe? Is he getting enough sleep, food, floor time, learning, water, milk, etc. And I almost panic when I imagine adolescent years.

He also imspires me to want to be more, to be better. I want him to have the very best people around him and that does start at home. He makes me consider very carefully what my goals and "New Years Resolutions" will be. (which will be another post hopefully)

one thing I have noticed the last 2 weeks is how much I love other people loving my baby. He's been around family so much for the holidays and he is so bright and giggly and spreads that to others. He also just has good people in his life as family. Increasing fmily involvement may be a resolution on my list. Knowing he is surrounded by so much love lowers my anxiety.



Merry Christmas and Happy New Years all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the struggle of grief

Well, I've been a bit vacant in the blog world lately. I blame sickness and holidays and other whatnot. I would like to add lack of anything to say. Not that there hasn't been anything to write about, but sometimes configuring a plethora of thoughts into a concise document can prove difficult. I am not known for being concise.

That being said, obviously there was a major event in American history that went down last week. That is, a gunman entered a grade school and killed several innocent children and teachers and finally himself. It is horrific, it is senseless and a dark dark day in human history.

And in the past week, thanks to the news and to Facebook, I have witnessed the grief of my fellow humans. It took a comment by a friend of mine to realize that some other peoples seemingly non-nonsensical political raving, is most likely their grief. Whether I like their grief or not, its how they are choosing to cope.

And not that I am an expert in coping or grief.  My own mother passed away 3 years ago and I have still not allowed myself to go through the process very well. Grief is very scary. It is very real and raw and revealing and painful. I, therefore, dissociate. No more healthy than anyone elses.

Where I struggle is when I witness or hear other s grief become belittling or condescending towards others. Be it direct or in meta-messages.

Messages I have heard- in paraphrase...

1. As a _____________ (mother, teacher, school employee, father...) I am deeply affected, and have a different understanding.

2. See, this is why we need stricter gun- control. This is what I have been saying...

3. This is what happens when we disallow prayer from schools...

I guess as I write them, some don't sound so bad. But here are the meta-messages that I hear (through my own flawed filter)

1. MY grief is worse than yours. its harder for me cause I have kids or work in a school.

2. I WAS RIGHT!!! SEE!!! So this is clearly everyone elses fault, esp the NRA

3. Atheists  are at fault. Or luke warm Christians at least. God will leave if we push him away. God let this happen, but only cause we made him.

Each of these seem ludacris to me. And here is why:

1. As humans, aren't we all grieving? Unless a sociopath, we have all been affected by this in some way. My sisters don't have kids, but you don't think they didn't imagine it was their nephew? That they haven't conceived of or experience loss or pain or fear before? The context is different, but empathy can bridge a gap.  And there are people who work in dangerous situations daily.

2. I understand wanting to initiate political change as an outcry to a tragedy. I mean look at the entire civil rights movement. Good political changes came out of people saying "enough is enough" and taking positive actions. But I am sorry, NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU OR CHANGE THEIR MINDS IF YOU SAY "na, na na boo boo" or "SEE I WAS RIGHT AND YOU WERE WRONG". Those messages usually make me want to dig in my heels all the more. Even if I am wrong.

3. And come on. There are so many places I can go with this one. But this is not the fault of someones religious belief or affiliation. I hate it when people act like God is a puppet and we get to direct him. Yes, I am a Christian. But I believe that this messed up person made a choice. God did not direct anyone. But God is with us in the midst of tragedy, even when it doesn't make sense. He was with the brave teachers, the first responders, those who have outpoured in love and caring. Whatever your view of "God" is. The God I recognize is the God of love. Not vindiction.

Putting others, their beliefs or their experiences down to validate our own in not healthy.

We are all trying desperately to make sense of this.

As we do so , may we HELP each other. Support and encourage and validate each others experiences. Grab a cup of coffee and talk about what we are thinking and fearing and dialogue. Facebook and blogs (I recognize the irony) and Twitter and the news disconnect us from each other in ways where we think it is connecting us. We were made to be in relationships. Give someone a hug. Send a letter of support to Connecticut. Say a prayer. And together move out of this darkness.

We ALL ache. We ALL grief. We ALL hope.

Wishing you all peace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I've got the fever

ok, scratch anything I ever said about nursing or waiting or anything else ever  being boring.

Because there is nothing more boring that being sick. Nothing.

The last few days I have been struggling through some flu-like thing that has progressed into something right now that mirrors a bad head cold. And you may think "so what, everyone gets sick". But you don't understand, I don't (well I guess I can't say that anymore). And not to this extreme.

No seriously, confession; if I have ever called in sick to work before this week, most likely it has been some lie to get out of doing something I didn't want to do or to take time off when I knew it was not going to be approved.

And I hate any attention that comes with sickness. It feels like pity, though I know people are caring. I hate pity. Thats my own issue. So why, then am I writing a blog about being sick?

And I am well aware that I am ranting about the stupid flu, when there are people out there dealing with real illnesses like cancer and diabetes and depression and meningitis and on and on. I do have SOME perspective.

But the last few days have consisted of me sitting, attempting to sleep, attempting to breathe, attempting to be in a comfortable position, of wanting to snuggle my little buddy, but not wanting to risk getting him sick.

Anything I might want to do when bored, I can't, because I risk contamination. Can't do dinner. Can't fold laundry, can't bake some goodies, can't run to the store (which is probably how I got sick in the first place because some hard head like me decided they were going to go to the store or chocolate walk anyway even if they were sick or mildly sick). Can't work out for obvious reasons. Even napping is uncomfortable. And television: come on, unless you find the daytime line up of court tv, Maury or worse yet, the View, an acceptable use of time or brain cells, this will not be turned on either.

What I have been able to do is practice the art of patience and meditation and prayer and mindfulness.  Its sad then when I am always "doing doing doing" that I forget how important these are.

Particularly the first night I visualized the fever leaving my body, me pushing it out literally. I also imagined that places that make me the most calm, (for the record they are mostly pastoral scenes and trees). I am a big believer in the mind/body connection. Focusing on being sick with only stress you, and stress doesn't help you heal. I also prayed to God (which I do nightly anyway) for my own health for for my son and my family and in thankfulness and realized, this is something I should/would like to be doing WITH my son. daily. Add it to the nightly routine of reading before bed. I want this to be a part of his life and his character.

And I am also very grateful for my husband who has filled in doing what I am too contaminated to do, cook, laundry, play/snuggle with son, etc  and play nurse to his wife AND for my AWESOME babysitter  friend who took him an extra day this week so I could work on getting better.

I am still not "well" but I am better. I look forward to the day this week when I am not coughing or talking like an old man who has been smoking his entire life. Or my nose isn't running or I'm not sneezing. But I am grateful that I no longer have a fever with chills and bone aches and headaches and nausea.

And I am happy to take something out of this mess. I think there is always something good that can come from pain, sickness, tragedy, etc if you look for it or allow for it.

Trading ashes for beauty.
Trading sorrows for joy.
If we let it be so

Saturday, December 1, 2012

the art of MY run

This one was a long rough week.

I knew that this was going to be the case before it started.

But sometimes you just need to buckle up and power through.

I kind of felt that way today when I was preparing for my first run of the week. Because of the long rough week, I haven't really gotten to run, excepting the elliptical last night. I know I need to keep working on my endurance so it was going to be at least 4 miles.

The first thing I kind of have to do is set my mind. I am going to do this. I am going to run this long. I am going to do this task, this project, this problem. No matter how long it takes, its gong to get done. So I might as well make the best of it.

Sometimes what helps me get through is the music I choose I listen to. I require music to run. Say what you will, I will blame my ADD nature. Sometimes the very beat of a song dictates my next step. It forces it to move. It also helps when half of it is music I like or that is positive and meaningful. Inspiring. I need that music in my life. Repeating in my head. Assisting next steps. Music is very meditative for me. A little bit of Mumford and Sons, some Bebo, Lifehouse and don't forget a sprinkling of fun with Taylor, Boyonce, Pink.

Choosing the path is key. I am really digging this one lately with my 4-5 milers. Gives some lovely scenery, its a path I know and am comfortable with. My house down to this path. It keeps me aware of my environment, of how beautiful this world is. I need only to keep my head up and look around me to see the presence of the miraculous.

Who is beside you is also helpful. In spirit and in physcial presence. I know I need to be ready for eventual race for my sister. She runs with me in spirit. And when not running, dang can that girl make me laugh. And it helps to have the support of dh who was at home with baby. Friends who know your goals, your struggles, what path you are on, what made it a rough week. Though the journey and the run is mine.

Oh and I bought new shoes. So so comfy. I got to break them in today. Got them at a local running store who evaluates your step and needs.  Its not a good sign when I am not quite sure when I bought my last pair, but I know I have not done much running in the past year before I started training for the half. Being pregnant and running just did not work for me. I seriously have no idea how that one lady ran the marathon and then gave birth. How many restroom breaks did she take? I couldn't make it a half a mile without needing to go.

And so I finished my longest run in a while. After one of my rougher weeks in a while. And after powering through both, and with all of the above aforementioned  at the end you (I) come out thinking "that wasn't so bad". It certainly could have been worse.

And my reward?

Oh, I like rewards.
And my cute little town who supplies them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lovely Weekend in pictures

Nothing special. Just wanted to share some highlights of a nice and relaxing and fun Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I could do this every weekend.

We drove on up to the in-laws homestead in rural Wisconsin.
In tow was my small addition to the giant Thanksgiving feast. My MIL always goes all out in the food department. I rather enjoy it. My contribution was home made rolls and cranberry sauce.
We of course wandered the property, which I think believe to be heavenly, and snapped some pictures and chased some kitties.

Bill found a kitty he was rather concerned about. She was sickly, small and friendly. However somewhat secluded form the other kitties who snuggled together for warmth once the temperature plummeted. My sweet husband whispered to me that we may have to nurture this one back to health as he feared she would not last the winter in this state.

After dinner the family poured over the Black Friday adds in search of who knows what. This year no one really had anything big to be in search for. It was more the fun tradition of going. I have enjoyed doing this with the in-laws. We went and my main items I was searching for included gifts for our sponsored families and a Dutch oven for me (per ATK's recommendations.) Bill, his dad and Ben all hung out back at the homestead. 3 generations of boys. Love.

We drove home the next day after some bird watching, sewing and the guys dismantling a 100 year old piano that had never left the homestead. Apparantly is was unable to hold a tuning and was just rarely used.

My MIL was sweet enough to refresh my memory on the usage of a sewing machine. And with her help I actually followed a set of sewing directions. In an incredibly short amount of time, a several pulled out and restitched sections, we came out with something pretty cute, functional and that I am pretty proud of. I will still mess around with some other materials and ideas (I found the top cuff a little bulky). Here is the finished product. Just need to add someones name to it.

AND an inside with lining that I can show you without an ounce of embarrassment!

Finally we drove home and on the way called my vet for an appointment for the sickly kitty, whom we have named "Blackie". (For the record, Bill named her- I couldn't argue since the whole thing was his idea. He also has a track record of such names-  i.e. he once had a gray stuffed animal he named "gray-ie".  I wish I was making that up).  we had in tow. She was able to get in the next morning. She currently resides in our basement as to not to spread anything to our current kitty. I can't wait to see them finally able to interact.

Saturday we took Blackie to the vet. She got some medicines. We then took Ben out to our little downtown area to do our Small Business Saturday shopping and just walked around. We have such an adorable little town with consignment shops, a music store, coffee shop, chocolate shop, bakery, wine bistro, pet shop, train/hobby shop, theatre, home accents shop, and lots of great restaurants. We added to our Christmas shopping for the weekend, stopped for a cup of coffee and could not leave town without something from here:

(Recently voted the best wedding cake in Chicagoland by The Knot. We enjoy the cupcakes)

And we visited Santa. Ben was unimpressed to say the least. I should have known better from when he freaked out a few weeks ago looking at a guy in line at Woodman's who looked just like Santa.

Came home for a little relaxing and cooking of dinner. Some rad soup.

And a supply of baby food for little buddy

 a beautiful run

And lets not forget that Sunday is Packer game day. Ben is always ready and dressed for game day. Its his birthright.

I'd say that I have it pretty good.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Black Friday Dilemma

Oh Black Friday. What do I do with you this year? I am torn.

Here we are the Day after we celebrate all the things we are thankful for. We go into "wait-I-need-more-crap" mode.

Last year, while it was fun, left a slight bitter taste in my mouth.

My sister was able to join me in going up to the in-laws, which has been our tradition now for the past 10 years. 10 years ago I also joined in their tradition of rising early and joining the minions of standing in line for some "awesome deal". I always say that I mainly go for the company. The deals don't hurt either.

MY sister and I decided Wal-Mart was are strating place. I wanted a 19" flat screen for my basement gym. She wanted one as well. As well as some other incidentals. So we got there about and hour and a half before our deal came to fruition and waited. And waited. And laughed. And took turns looking around for other things. And finally midnight came and we picked up our prizes. And eventually met up with everyone else at Kohl's and then went home.

Later in the day we drove the hour 20 back to my house. And I realized I needed milk. So I drive to my closest "grocer", the 1.5 mile drive to Wal-mart. And upon entering my local Wal-Mart, what greets me...but a giant pallate of THE SAME D*** TV I JUST STOOD ALMOST 2 HOURS IN LINE FOR. Probably like 200 of them. To say I was mad would be an understatement. I felt like I had been tricked.

A few years earlier my sister in law and I were probably the first 2 people in line at Target. We thought it was pretty funny since we didn't really require anything. When the time came and the doors were opened we ran into the store like idiots screaming in a mocking tone "tv's! vcrs! cameras!" Yes, vcrs. whatever, it was 5 am. I of course left the store with a 40" tv

This year. I don't know. I am torn. I love the company, and yet and jaded by feeling like I being tricked by corporate greed. I can't think of anything I need, yet looking at the ads I can see things I "want". I also have a list of needy kids I would like to get some nice things for...and black Friday deals help me afford more things for them. I'd like to be the guy that buys a kid a bike. A $50 adult sized bike is do-able.

And then I think about all of this crap that is made in China or wherever. SO my need for a deal keeps supporting US manufacturing overseas. So what? right? But those are jobs that used to be here. MY neighbor needs a job and I am buying into the culture that sends his job somewhere else. Who's to say my husbands job won't be the next to move overseas.

And then what about the cute little downtown area of my hometown. I want to see it survive and thrive. I want to support the little guy. Who is my neighbor. Whos taxes go to my town. Who participates in the fun little towny events and festivals like the wine walk and the art crawl and "taste of___"

I kind of am at a point where I would rather spend a little more and have a little less. Would I rather have 3 shirts made in China or one shirt made in the US from my local business. i don't need 60 shirts (don't look in my closet please), Ben doesn't need 1,000 blinking musical toys. Dh (despite his protest) doesn't need 20 more Star Wars figures (sigh_ unless you get them at a local hobby shop I guess)

Do you see the dilemma?

It does not need to be all or nothing. I think every little bit helps. Its just being more aware of our consumerism. Maybe this year I get a few more things from a local business AND I do some black Friday shopping. AND small business Saturday. AND I can get a few more things for the needy kid (whos parent might benefit from more domestic job sources)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


 In light of many people posting their daily Thankful list. I decided to just compile a list here. I like the idea of being grateful daily. It reminds of to stay focused and positive. Even on the little things. I hope we can remember to do this all year long. Not just in November.

I really am thankful for so many things. I have been blessed beyond measure. My complete list would take volumes and frankly, you don't want to read it, and I don't want to write it. So how about a significantly condensed version where I will feel guilty about all other the wonderful things I ended up leaving out. ha.

In no particular order:

1. My family. And by my family I mean, my brilliant hubby, my precious precious son, my sisters, my in-laws, my gramma and some pretty cool cousins. So much love and beauty. The smell of baby, watching him sleep, shared dreams, inside jokes, laughter, shared history, trash-talk,  Much much more than I could have ever expected or hoped for.

2. My son. I sometimes cannot believe that I have been entrusted with another human being. And this boy, only 9 months old, is so sweet and beautiful and good-natured and fun to watch. His laugh alone is one of my favorite things in the universe. A close second is watching his sleep.

3. I get to have the best of both worlds as a mom and a working professional. Working part time I get to do both. I get to work just enough to satisfy my ego and stay home plenty to not have to miss a thing with my baby. And my work is fulfilling. It also helps to have great childcare when I do work, with someone I can call  "friend". I am very Thankful for that.

4. At the end of this year I can say that I have known my husband for 10 years. 10 years???? Seriously, where does time go? Each year gets progressively better. Richer.

5. Health. I went to my OB and he is always impressed by my blood pressure. I take pride in that. lol. And I can honestly say that I feel great. Probably better than I have at almost any point in my life. Physically, mentally, emotionally. more at peace. Stronger. And in awe of what the human female  body is capable of, and capable of coming back from. Seriously, having a baby is no joke people. And I just had 1. Bless you mamas of several and all you have endured physically.

6. I Have been blessed to watch some friends and loved ones work on some of their own personal development and in turn it has helped me. Proof that all changes you make do not affect only yourself, but those around you, in ways you may never know or realize.

7. That I have means. That I am able to do the things that I want to do without too much worry. That I can buy local meat.That I can afford to be picky.  That I can pay the mortgage, buy Christmas presents, food, clothes, etc, and not have to worry if we have enough to cover utilities and other expenses. its such a relief that I am always aware of and always aware that could not always be the case.

8. Kitty. I know. It might sound lame, but I cannot begin to tell you how good she is for my soul. She brings me such peace and calm. Petting her, hearing her purr, seeing her sit right in front of the door when I get home, it all brings me joy. Pets are able to do that. Just wait till we one day get our hobby farm...

9. Food. I know I write about food a lot. But I love food. I love the taste, texture, smell, comfort, all of food. And yes, I recognize that I have a "relationship" with food. I am okay with it and have been learning to make it a much healthier more connected relationship and it helps me enjoy and appreciate it more. Knowing where my food comes from, taking pride in what I can create, and especially being able to enjoy the fruits of it. Home made anything always trumps store bought/processed/prepackaged anything.

10. The internet. I love that I have this medium to talk to and connect with so many people from so many different times and groups of my life. I probably never would have met my aunt/cousin/sister without it. It is a constant source of information. A place to share thoughts. And, like anythimg else, it can be used for bad. It can be addicting in many ways. But if I can learn to keep it limited, it is a very good thing.

And I am keeping it to 10.
Though there is much much more.

What are you Thankful for?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


So yes, I've decided to run a half marathon. 13.1 miles. And yes, it is a long ways a way, in April. I have almost 6 months to prepare. Not the 3 months most halfers give themselves. And there is a reason for that.


 All of the runner friends post on Facebook lovely inspirational things and pictures that say things like "no excuses". Well people, I am full of them.  And I'd like to think that I have some pretty darn good ones. Would you like to hear some of them?

1. I have a 9 month old baby (aka mommy guilt)
    Most runners I know have kids, but they are all either in school or are able to somewhat be alone for 30 minutes or be watched by an older sibling while they go for a 30 minute run. And I can't really leave the house while my sweet boy naps. or when hes running a fever. Now I do have a jogging stroller. And yes, I do run with him in it sometimes. However its not always the most motherly nurturing interactions while I'm trying to focus on a run and also, its cold. I feel guilty taking him out in the cold, even with bundling him up. I'm sure its not that fun for him. So we can do it sometimes. Just not every day.

2. Um, I am training in winter.
     Yes, winter. In the midwest. This means its cold. Which I am a bit of a baby about the cold. Especially when the wind wants to rip a hole right through my ears. Additionally it get dark so darn early. Daylight savings. So if I wait until Bill gets home, its dark. too creepily dark. even though my neighborhood is relatively safe.

3. I work.
     I see the appeal of being a full time stay at home mom. Granted, I only work part time. 2 days and one night per week. And those 2 days I am gone 8-5. Then there are all of those home duties at night. And I just want to cuddle the little monkey I haven't seen all day. So running those days are out. I can get in an elliptical or bike workout in the basement, but again, its dark. so no running outside.

4. Don't even ask about mornings.
     Geez. My dear son wakes up at 6am every single morning. sometimes a tad earlier. He feeds, we nod off a little, we both get dressed, bathed, fed again, packed up and ready for the day. I will not arise at 5am. That is just insanity and out of the question. Especially with full milk ladies in the a.m. and little sleep. I am lucky to make it to the sitters on time those 2 days a week. very very lucky.

So what the heck then, right?

I have lots of excuses. And don't we all.

But we just do the best that we can. If its important, we will make it happen. In some wacky form. So no, I will not be running or training daily. And no, I do not expect to finish this race in anywhere near a record time. But I do expect to finish.

So I will train. On  a very extended schedule. For 6 months about 2-3 days a week of actual road work. Mostly weekends probably. Slowly increasing in length. Then maybe my in between cross training of elliptical, bike, yoga, etc to keep the fitness levels up. Like most things in life, I'm going to do it my way.

Excuses and all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

By the Chimney with Care

So I have another new project. Shocking, I know.

With the holidays fast approaching, I realized that I am going to need a few new-ish things for my little Buddy. I can't wait to get him his first ornament. Sing and play Christmas songs with him. Celebrate St. Nicholas day and wait... he needs a stocking!!

So I start thinking about a cute homemade one and where to get one. So I look on Etsy of course, because I love Etsy and want to support the little guys. And then the cheapo side of me looked at the prices of the cute ones I liked and thought...ugh. I want matching stockings eventually...and I'm not into $100 for 3 cute and handmade stockings. And none of them were quite what I envisioned.

Of course I start my crazy thinking and go..."wait a minute, I can make a stocking". Completely disregard the fact that I haven't sewn diddly since my 4-H days. 15+ years ago.

And I am kind of following through on it. I went to Hobby Lobby the other day and was completely overwhelmed with the fabric selection. I bought at least 10 different fabrics and some pins and a pattern. Slightly scared of the idea of turning into the crazy fabric hoarder my mom was. By the time I got home I realized that I didn't have thread, needles, basting or a clue on how to use my moms old sewing machine.
 some of my fabric choices, while most are not very Christmasy, I especially love the green zig zags

I did make another run with Ben to get some of the other supplies, and started cutting out some ideas. I have also so far disregarded the pattern. I found mine and bills stocking and sort of traced it. I'm just kind of messing around/flying by the seat of my pants and experimenting a bit for now. Shocking, right? I have enough fabric to be able to that with. I am sewing by hand until next week I can get a little more direction from my mother in law, who used to have her own sewing business (and will more than likely be horrified by my techniques/abilities).

My short term goals are:
1. practice a little
2. learn something from the M-I-L
3. have some semblence of 1 functional stocking for Ben by the time St. Nicholas Day comes around (early Dec). and then I have all of next year to make a real one for Ben
4. Make a real one for Ben
5. Make real ones for Bill and I (probably sometime next year)

Here is my first attempt.

It doesn't look awful from the outside, but the inside is pretty mutilated. Its also pretty simple. I may want to do a toes with the same fabric as the top and add/embroider a name. And a loop to hook it onto things.

The good news is there will be something for St. Nick to put Ben's goodies in this year.

Wish me luck. I will be needing it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

9 months

 Ben is now 9 months old.

Its kind of hard to believe a year will be here before I know it. Time has flown. And fast.

here are some of the recent highlights with my little buddy:

- Teeth. he has 6 teeth. Most came in about a month span, so pretty quick. I'm hoping for a break before the next ones come in. And he loves to use those sharp buggers.

-Movement. Ben seems to have 0 interest in crawling. He does love to move around, but he prefers the rolling method. He will roll and roll back and forth, from one end of the room to another. He loves to rach and bang whatever is within reach. He enjoys bouncing with you holding him in standing position or in one of those jumparoo type things. And he still kicks all of the time. He has been sitting up by himself for a while now. Oh and I melt a little each time he reaches his arms out for his momma.

- Observant. its so much fun to watch his brain work. He knows where to look now when he drops things. He knows to peek around things, like corners or over or under whatever is blocking his view. he likes to turn pages of books for me and reading is one time he likes to just sit and not be carried or moving around. he thinks kitty is probably the funniest thing he has ever seen. He laughs and laughs as he watches her. Also any form of peek a boo is hilarious to him. Cover my face, cover his, with hands, a blanket, whatever. He claps. He waves. Babbles incessantly. Sticks out his tongue at you on purpose.

I'm really excited about the upcoming holidays with him. Going to the in-laws farmstead gives Ben all kinds of things to look at and interact with. Kitties, the will really be something when he can run around the 20 acres. He can eat some of what will be on the table. Lots of cousins to love on him. and I have already begun Christmas presents for him. (which I have actually spent exactly $0 with 6 presents, another blog post for another day). And present opening will be more exciting next year when he is more aware.

There is so much to look forward to in his development.

But man is he all kinds of fun right now.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

God Bless America

I love America. I love it, love it, love it.

I love that I can have opinions, that you can speak your opinions. Political, religious  etc. That we can talk about them in either a respectful or condescending way, and still be safe. (although I despise the condescending/know it all way)That disagreeing with or disliking a particular political idealogy with not get you imprisoned or murdered. That as a woman I have the right to vote. And am considered a peer, an equal. Seriously, when you look at a lot of the world, that is HUGE.

I love that we are not a dictatorship. That we have checks and balances. We have a president, a house, a Senate and a judicial system. None with more power than the next, just different power. I think we forget that sometimes

I love that I can go to the store down the street and get anything I want. No standing in line for hours for a loaf of bread or wondering if pestulance will ruin my only food source. I have the luxury to be annoyed by modern American conveniences like waiting 2 minutes for the next gas pump to open up or joke about first world problems.

I love that in an emergency people pull together to take care of each other. Regardless of what the government does, Americans take care of each other. Marathoners inconvenienced by a cancellation and not being able to do what they've trained months for, instead put their energies into Sandy relief. People are still rebuilding and working on the gulf coast. After tornadoes. Fires. Oil spills. etc. At Christmas time in my county alone, over 2,000 underprivileged children are sponsored by private donors so that they can feel special and to ease one burden from their parents.

I love that a child from a single parent home can become president. We've had 2. America continues to create a climate where anyone can dream a little, and become something. Now, its not perfect by any means. I still see how poverty is destructive, but here, as compared to say Mexico or Sudan, a poor kid has a chance to dream a little bigger and see others who have done so and succeeded.

I love that I feel safe. And there are degrees of safety. I won't go run at night.And there are pockets of unsafe places. Places you won't catch me driving through if at all possible. but I can safely walk in my neighborhood during the day. I don't have to worry about a gang of guirillas going on a rampage through Antioch. I don't have to worry about invasions from the country to the north or to the south of me. I don't have to worry that the government will despise my or my neighbors ethnicity and decide to systematically dispose of it.

Are there things I would change, of course. I could write loads of blog posts about that. But I CAN IF I WANT TO AND THERE WILL BE NO REPERCUSSIONS (excepting your unfavorable Facebook comments) . Complain if you will after this election or celebrate if you will. This is not about who won or who lost. Because I think America will be okay either way. Its not about who the president is, its who the people are. I'm kind of fond of Americans too. And American values.

I just want to celebrate America for a moment. I can't think of a better place to live.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


In response to the 10,000....ok more like 5 requests for my "make your own cracker" recipes (ones that I have stolen from this book and somewhat modified). I especially like the cheesy ones. I have my modifications italicized.
keep in mind that they won't taste like boxed crackers because they are fresh and don't have crap in them. and there is no wasteful packaging!

here they are:

Wheat Crackers:
-1 c. all purpose flour
-1 c. spelt flour or whole wheat flour (i usually do 1/2 of this wheat flour and 1/2 millet flour)
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/3 c uncooked millet (which I have never used. I have put in quinoa or whole flax seed instead or nothing)
-1/3 c. ground flax seed
-1/2 tsp salt
- 3 TBSP minced garlic (I either use Penzys dried or used Wildtree scampi blend)
- 1 TBSP rosemary (this is unnecessary if using scampi blend)

- 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP olive oil (I use this or wildtree natural or butter flavor grapeseed oil)
-1/2 cup water (i use a tad less)
-freshly ground pepper

1. preheat over to 350. IN a bowl mix all dry ingredients except salt and pepper. Add oil and combine with a fork. slowly mix in water, mix with your hands as you go until dough holds together. knead with your hands for 2 minutes

2. put dough onto floured surface and press into a disk and roll with a rolling pin until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. to cut into squares use a pizza cutter. to do circles use a biscuit cutter (i use a small whiskey glass) reroll any leftover dough for more crackers

3. transfer cut cracker dough on ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. bake for 20-22 minutes and rotate them midway through until hard to the touch. transfer to a wire rack.



-3 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, plus additional for baking sheets ( I cut the butter into slightly smaller squares so I am not mixing for as long)
-1 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour puls additional for the counter (I am obsessed with wheat flour so I usually use at least half wheat flour)
-1 teaspoon dry mustard powder (if no dry mustard, I find using wet brown mustard from your fridge works just as well. I also tend to add about 1/2 tsp of sweet curry powder)
-1 tsp salt
-1 and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (i have found that other varieties of shredded cheese work just as well if you are out of cheddar)
-2 tsp distilled white vinegar
-3/4 c water
-1 ice cube

1. combine flour, butter, salt, mustard (curry) in a bowl with a stand mixer (or I do it by hand as I hate washing beaters) until mixture gets crumbly. add cheese and mix again a liquid measuring cup combine water vinegar and ice cube (to chill) then slowly pour into mixture and blend until it easily forms into a ball. take ball and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and put in fridge to chill for at least 2 hours up to 3 days

3.take out (let sit 15 minutes before use) pre-heat oven to 325 and put on lightly floured surface and press into disk. roll out with rolling pin until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. cut out as you like either with pizza cutter or a biscuit cutter.  leftover dough can be rerolled for more crackers

4. transfer crackers with spatula to greased baking sheets. bake for 30 minutes rotating trays halfway through. turn off the oven but leave crackers in the oven as it cools for at least 1 hour

Friday, November 2, 2012


So its true, I have decided to run a half marathon. I have actually paid the entrance fee, and because I am not one to waste money, its officially on.

My sister and I will be running this thing together.One because its easier to do with some accountability and two, its just more fun. What whats more fun than running, right? *cough*

In adding to the comraderie and accountability we have decided to run for a cause. I work for a local domestic violence organization that provides counseling, shelter, housing and prevention education. I work in the abuser treatment program and most of those guys grew up witnessing dv themselves. Also I know many people who I care about who have experienced domestic violence in some way shape or form: past, present, be it physical, emotional, verbal, etc. If there is one place you should feel safe and secure, it is at home. Am I right?

So we are running to benefit A Safe Place/Lake County Crisis Center. Please check them out and see their wonderful work. (also if you like to run yourself, they will be hosting their first 5k next year in May)

Here's the deal. Neither my sister or myself are elite athletes  Not by a long shot. We aren't very fast. But we are pretty tough. But we know its going to be hard and we are dedicated to being healthy and strengthening our relationship through this. And we are asking for support. Both emotional and financial. Ask us to go for a run. Ask us how its going. Share our fundraising link with friends, by e-mail, by facebook, twitter, your blog. And if you are able, donate financially. Even $1 helps.

Every dollar will directly go to provide counseling for children, for victims, for abusers (so they can get help and are less likely to hurt again), for food and utilities for the emergency shelter, it keeps the 24 hour hotline running, for safe visitation and exchanges for separated couples, for assistance in obtaining orders of protection, for empowering those who have been shot down.

here is my link to my fundraising page. My goal is $1,000. And to raise more than my sister. If I can get the one out of 2, I will be happy. If my sister far exceeds $1,000, that is AWESOME!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

should I rename my blog?

I'm considering changing the name of my blog.

"The Socially Awkward Therapist"

Cause really, that's what I am.

When out of the realm of "I have known you for a long time" or am playing my introductory professional role, I often have no idea what to say to you. None. Overthinking your potential judgement of me.

Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am doing as a therapist. Trying to help others be better, more confidant, more ok with themselves, when I am so desperately trying to figure so much of that out for myself.

Recently I volunteered at a Fundraiser for the domestic violence shelter I work for. It was a high priced event, needless to say, none of my peers would be there as anything but other volunteers. And I was a casino dealer. Really? me? I've never gambled in my life, much less stepped foot in a casino (outside of it being the only air-conditioned building within 10 miles while in the south for a bit of relief) nor am I very flirty or outgoing. I just am what I am. Somehow I was able to make it work. I mean, its just passing out cards and counting, right?

The problem is, I don't have anything to add to normal conversations with those of the upper eshalon that are at an event such as this. Even those in my somewhat newer middle-class surroundings, I find it difficult to fit in. I generally have nothing to say. Nothing.

Conversations sometimes go like this...

Them: "blah blah blah, the country club I belong to..."
What I want to say: " my first job was as a caddy at 12 at a country club"
What I actually say:  "...     "

Them: " oh I can't wait to be done paying for all of my kids educations/student loans/weddings..."
What I want to say: either "that's awesome that you did that or" "wow, I paid for all that myself"
What I actually say:: "...    "

Them:  "My parents have been married for 50 years!"
What I want to say "my mom's been dead for 3 years and my dad is a douschbag"
What I say: "...     "
(however my in-laws have been married for at least this long and don't feel awkward there at all)

Them: "That backpacking trip through Europe during/right after college was the greatest experience of my life"
What I want to say : "lucky bastard"
What I actually say: "...   "

My contributions sound like a pity party or are accomplishments that I am really proud of that people just don't get. (or I assume they just don't get)

In all actuality, I'm jealous. I feel less than and probably therefore act like I am less than. It is the CBT way, right? We act what we believe?

And yes, I know, I am not "less than"
(disconnect between heart and brain?)
We have all been created to be unique , yet equal in value.

Its just that growing and learning and becoming more confidant stuff. Why does it have to be so uncomfortable?

Thats why i guess I am still a work in progress.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

baby weight, part deaux

I have been so anticipating writing this post.

Since I have decided to publicly acknowledge that I am working on baby weight, a few great things have happened.

1. A friend called me and asked if we could work on this together. Nothing like a little bit of accountability and friendship. Makes everything a little bit more worthwhile. We check in about every week and a half, 2 weeks. If only we lived closer I would love some nice walks/hikes in a forest preserve!

2. its really heightened my connection to the food I am making from scratch. I work hard on it, I know what exactly is going into my body and I am super proud of it. Every single ingredient

3. I am down 10 pounds!

I think the thing that has helped me the most is the idea of small goals. While I tend to be a big idea person, I can get very lost in the details and the how to get to something big. It helps to break it down. So each goal is not necessarily based on a number, but a place, a mental place if that makes sense. For example, goal one was to get into the next decade of numbers below what I was. Which was only like 4 pounds, but 4 pounds feels more reasonable to get to  than like 20. My brain can get lost in the overwhelming idea or number of "20". Then the next goal was to get into my normal happy weight range. that was another 5. and then it was only 1 more until I hit 10 total.

And going on from here I can see its only another 2 pounds till pre-baby and 4 pounds till the next "decade" of numbers.    It'll be a little bit harder after that because its more like another 8 till my wedding weight. But I'm sure I can throw another mini=goal in there.

And this weekend I had a few acknowledgements of my progress. One client and one family member noticed, which feels nice. And certainly helps with motivation.

And I feel really good. Less tired. More energy. More positive. I feel like I get more accomplished when I feel good.

And I feel more ready to start to think about taking on my next big goal. The half. My younger sister and I have committed to run a half marathon together in April (meaning we've paid the entrance fee, and cheapo me won't waste that money). I'm sure I will write more about that eventually. We've given ourselves plenty of time to prepare. But again, it will be small goals. We will also be raising money for a cause (not yet determined), and will probably solicit you. You've been warned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

pink and purple

October is obviously breast cancer awareness month. You see it everywhere from the pink bats in baseball to pink shoes in football to increases in Susan Komen fundraising commercials and lots of Facebook posts. And I am glad that people are raising money and  awareness because cancer sucks. And I really hope someday there is a cure.

What you do not often hear about is that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. And as someone who works in the field and has had it affect people I love, it is important to be aware of. Because domestic violence feeds and festers in darkness and silence.

So if you already know a ton about this, please discontinue reading. Many of my friends also work in the field. And if you do, please add to my commentary and/or correct anything I may say that is incorrect or not updated. I am going to try to keep this pretty simple.

Last week there was a huge domestic violence incident that made the news outside of Milwaukee. Where a man walked into the salon that his ex-wife worked at and shot her, some co-workers and eventually himself. She had an order of protection against him. This is a super tragic and extreme case. I pray for comfort and healing for all affected by this.

However this is the picture that most people have about domestic violence. These overtly psychotic acts. But it starts so much earlier. So much simpler. Depending on your source, the stats are that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 women have experienced domestic violence in some form. Think about it. Look around at co-workers or moms in your neighborhood or family members. You know someone who has been in an abusive relationship of some kind. Whether you know about it or not. (and yes, men can be victims too. however a significant minority)

It usually starts with small things. Emotional or verbal abuse of somesort. Questioning. Needing to know whereabouts on a regular basis (like hourly). jealousy. manipulation. talking in circles. "king of the castle" mentality. making you feel guilty. it moves to put downs, humiliation, intimidation, threats, isolation. a victim feels like they are walking on eggshells and fears what to do or say next.  THere are so many examples. THis stuff can go on for years before it ever gets physical. A way of wearing someone down. When these tools no longer work, the ante goes up. Its all about controlling someone in a relationship. Rather than seeing your partner as your equal, they are subordinate, less than, which then makes the abuser feel more powerful.better about themselves. (and there is a psychology in the batterer. with some exceptions. I work with them. They are not "EVIL". But broken humans.Usually having grown up witnessing dv or some trauma)

The belief out there in the past (and sadly is still out there) has been that it is a private issue. A family issue. But it is not. It is a social issue. It is a legal issue. It is illegal to physically hurt or threaten another person in any way. Even if you are married to them. Its sad that there are people who do not know this.

it does not discriminate on race or socioeconomic status. rich and poor alike have domestic violence.

And when no one says "boo" about it or "its not my problem", in a way it says "its okay". Its like not standing up against racism. Not speaking up about persecution of gays or lesbians. And if hatred and violence in our world is "not your problem" then I would like to know what world you live in and plan on having your children grow up in. Because all things start at home and in ourselves. Peace. Hate. Love. War. If we cannot love ourselves, then we cannot love others. If we have violence at home, we will show violence in other ways in the world. Family is our first social system. What we learn there, we project onto the rest of the world and act upon it. i.e if home if not safe and trustworthy, than neither is anything else in the world.

My son will grow up in that world.

My hope is that he grows up in a world of people who are at peace with themselves. Who hate violence. Who stand up for what is right. A world where all people are seen as equal in importance and value, regardless of what gender they are or color they are or orientation they are.

I think about football. I would love to see those guys adorned in purple. socks, gloves, helmet straps. Standing up against domestic violence. I know that football is a very rough sport (and I admit that I love it). There is a "tough guy" image. So many pro-athletes we hear about getting involved in "domestic disputes" i.e. domestic violence. What if men and pro athletes told each other "hey man, that isn't cool" and kicked a guy off of a team for that.  Sending a message that violence at home is not acceptable, that treating your family, your partner with respect and dignity is one of the most important things that there is. More than money. fame. power. control.

I leave you with this. My favorite quote. Its hanging in our abuser group room, my office and is on my fb page. I work on this every day. Because I want a more peaceful world. And I know it begins with me.


(if you think you are in an abusive relationship and need help or do not know where to start, please call the national domestic violence help line and start to talk through it with a professional. its free!  1−800−799−SAFE(7233)   )

nap time

My sweet boy is currently upstairs napping peacefully. There are few things more beautiful than watching him sleep.

For some parents, nap time is also a peaceful and restful time for them. I envy those who can nap. However this is not the case for me.

During wake time Ben and I play and sing and read and learn and he also helps me with chores and errands. I carry him in his Ergo through the grocery store or while I'm putting away dishes. He'll sit next to me in a stroller if I am starting dinner or working on my latest homegrown cooking project. And it all takes just a little bit longer with a baby on your hip. And that is okay.

its when nap time hits that I fall into a frantic mode, of "what can I get done quickly in the shortest amount of time that I can't get done with Ben on my hip". There are so many things that I want to do that it can become almost paralyzing where to start, especially when you do not know how much time we are working with...20 minutes to 3 hours: fix lunch, work on laundry, write blog, make appointments, check on whatever else was cooking, check e-mail, work on music for ICA conference, work out, do eval write up for work, look up this thing for youth ministry, clean up the play mess we made earlier, wipe down counters, clean bathrooms with bleach products, cut back bushes, plant bulbs...and the list goes on and on. A list of "should"s

I do that a lot. You know, "should" all over myself.

I get caught up in all of the things I should do rather than just lower the anxiety and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the quiet. Be okay with getting maybe 2 things accomplished rather than 15. As if not doing 15 things makes me less of a person. Its just never enough.

I can blame my upbringing a little bit. I mean my mom raised 3 kids while maintaining a small farm and working anywhere between 1-3 jobs and keeping house and trying to enjoy her hobbies and pay bills and all the other things that working single moms do. I wonder if I ever saw her rest.

And I have been used to the working, going to school, planning a wedding, taking care of mom, doing homework, volunteering, etc all at the same time. Perhaps all of these experiences have prepared me for parenthood.

But even so when I look at those years, they all passed by so darn fast. those working college years. the years with mom. Can you believe I've been married for 7 years? These upcoming years will not pass any slower. And if I don't slow down, I will miss them.

And I want to maintain my home and goals. Its a balancing act for sure.

And with whatever time I have left of naptime today, I shall head to the basement and work out on the elliptical with my kindle. and the tv on. and my ipod. Cause thats just how I roll.

Have I really learned a thing?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pork, its whats for dinner

In addition to all of my weird homemade everyday foods, I am also just working on keeping my food/dinners more local, and interesting.

I have been a huge proponent of the farmers market. I'm going to struggle through the winter significantly, however I have 3 things going for me.

1. Grayslake has a Saturday market that goes until December
2. Farmer Nick's winter CSA
3. my hope of ACTUALLY canning stuff next year, now that I find it not so scary.

Saturday I worked on a Pork Roast. In the last few months I started eating pork again, as long as I approve of its beginnings. We did some pretty wicked pork chops the other week. Pan barbecued. so good.

My bff lately has been America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Country. Its a PBS tv show and I love it. They thoroughly test recipes, cooking utensils, ingredients, and tell you what is the best according to their chefs and testers and panel based on tons of trials. (I would love to figure out how to get on THAT panel). I have been using their recipes for everything and have a little subscription to their e-mail/website.

(For the record, any cookbook or supplies by ATK makes an excellent Christmas gift for me this year)

So I figure whatever recipe I use is going to be good. Here is todays recipe: Slow roasted POrk shoulder with peach sauce 

here is how it looked before it goes into the oven...

One problem I still have is lack of supplies and lack of ability to read the recipe before I decide to work on it. That came to a head here as its supposed to go on a "v rack". so the juices drain under it. um, what? So in my McGuyver style back pocket, I found my mixer beaters and a mini cooling rack. that is under my roast. I have a few things to pick up later a Bed Bath and Beyond (who I did notice is carrying a line of made in the USA bakeware)

So it'll be in for 5-6 hours.
Here is the end result.

Add reduced peach sauce over top. Mmmm
served with sides of baked apples and acorn squash.

Did I mention that my brother in law is was for his military drill this weekend. We only serve our military the best here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

say what...

Children. They make you do things you never thought possible.

Its funny cause I really dislike over the top cheesy kinds of things. And that is EXACTLY what they love. Over the top expressions, reactions, tones, music, etc/

I thought I would struggle with it more, but it is what it is.

I never thought I would hear myself say:

- "poop!" "did you fart!?" "thats a good spit up!" and so excitedly. ok, so this really isn't that far out of my box. My sense of humor is like a 12 year old boy.  Even my conservative husband can't get mad in this context.

-"no, you may not bite my  nipple". and he just smiles and thinks its hilarious. It kind of is. but it kind of is not.

- "don't eat your diaper. don't eat my face. don't eat ...___" he shoves everything in his mouth. What to do instead, find something to replace it with.

-"yay!!" I celebrate internally usually. but he needs to hear me celebrate.

Ways I never thought I would talk:

- yep, baby talk. I never thought I would. That sing songy voice. I don't even cringe when I hear it recorded. Which I have to show off some of his little feats.

- repeating. I hate hraving to repeat myself. However, that is how he learns. Say words or phrases over and over


- I will nurse wherever. If he's hungry, then he needs to eat. I always cover up though. I've even nursed him while holding him and trying to gather things around the house for work. I'm otherwise usually pretty conservative and self-conscious about the body.

- cleaning up poop: the kitties poop grosses me out more now. I mean, now that baby's eating solids, its way more gross that before, but its no big deal anymore. I've done it hundreds of times and will do it thousands more.

-laundry. once one of my most despised chores is welcomed. I need clean diapers, clothes, bibs and it is something I can actually do while holding him.

what I've learned the most here is that it is not about me. You just do what you have to do for him. Which often means coming out of your own comfort zone. And as a therapist, that place outside of your comfort zone is where the best most life changing stuff happens.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sissy, come home!!!

So this is what I have been thinking about all day. At home and while driving about on errands.

I have 2 sisters. My older will probably never consider moving back to Chicago. Stupid Seattle. However, my younger one is just out of the reach of Chicago. And I believe that it continues to beckon her to return. I shall help that cause with the following top ten list:


10. Clearly the dating pool in Champaign has dried up. whatever there was of one

9. So much closer to fun and cultural events. great concert venues. Wrigley field. the Mag Mile. O'Hare. Shopping!! 

8. Don't your besties live up here? Hello Laura and Jenny. Help me out here.

7.  Family!! Cousins. Sisters.  babies. Bill's fam. kitties. This little one has yet to meet her adopted kitty cousins...

6. Milwaukee and all its breweries and distilleries a short drive away. so many to explore. Where else can you find cornhole games that say "bunghole?"

5. Sister date  nights. Chatty drunk sisters. fun times.  Mmm wine bar.

4.  Food. Hello Oberweis, Portillos, Chicago-style pizza, (your sisters homemade delights)...

3. You can only call people out on cheating at games if you are there. live. or at least its more fun to do so. 

2. The Cubs desperately need a lucky charm

1. This guy:

Enough said???

pet peeves

We all have them. Those little stupid insignificant things that probably shouldn't bother us, but do.

Here is a sprinkling of mine

1. Someone chewing with their mouth open is there anything more to say about this?

2. When dads "babysit" . And maybe its because I hear this at work a lot. "I babysat my daughter..." But I'm sorry, you do not "babysit" your own kids. its called parenting. Spending quality time with your child. And no, you will not get a medal for doing your job.

3. Not using your blinker/turn signal until your already in the process. "oh, you want to turn? I couldn't figure that out from you cutting me off and your car was 3/4 of the way into my lane. I just thought maybe you were drunk.

4. When people are outraged at breastfeeding, but then go home to watch an r-rated movie
because God-forbid we use them for what they were made for.

5. political extremism. No so much that it exists, but the way that the extremes communicate their opinions/ideas. in such a condescending all or nothing manner and never even listen to the others pov without thinking of their retort in the meantime. as a moderate it makes for a political environment that is intolerable.

6. Glasses Everywhere. ok, this one is pinpointed towards my dear wonderful husband (he really is dear and wonderful). For some reason he cannot reuse glasses. He goes through maybe 10 a day and leaves them all over the house. (rarely the dishwasher) Usually with some amount of liquid in it. It reminds me of the little girl from the movie "Signs"... "its contaminated..." (please tell me someone gets the reference)

7. Spilled Milk.  Um ok, I don't drink milk cause I don't like the taste, so I'm not talking about cows milk. I'm talking my milk. After pumping. Anytime I spill any amount, especially if its more than 1/2 an ounce, I go completely ballistic. In my head anyway. I can usually control the outward swearing.  Its liquid gold I tell you, and I have just wasted precious currency.

8. Moist. its just the grossest word out there. worse than "panties". Everytime the word is said I get the heeby jeebies. I once met someone with that as their last name. I would rather die. Or change my name. One of the two.

Ok thats all for now.

If you come to my house, don't get outraged at my breastfeeding and leave glasses around while talking about your poitical extremism or how you babysit your kids and knock over my moist liquid gold.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

from scratch

So I found this book on Amazon. For my latest exploits, its the bomb-diggity.

It has every category of things I would like  to figure out how to make. Pastas, breads, preserving fruits and veggies, to many instant/prepackaged kinds of foods like crackers and poptarts, sauces, sweets, etc. So so so many things

I am really liking the challenge of this "make things myself" kick. It feels like a Rage against the Man. Or Rage against processed foods. Whatever we want to call it. It is slowly changing how I see food. significantly. That is another post for another day.

I really just wanted to share some of what I tried most recently:
Hummus with wheat crackers (both homemade)

cheese crackers. (the real cheese is not homemade-although Wisconsin made)

pop tarts


chocolates. truffles and bark- sorry no photo. I forgot to take a picture and they didn't last.

always with the granola

I also have lots of hamburger buns and loaves of bread in the freezer from my last baking kick
right next to Ben's frozen foods

Next things on the list to try in the upcoming weeks:

-roasted tomatoes. possibly to be canned most likely frozen
-another try at the pop tarts with lighter flour
-fish sticks

I have an easy recipe to make sauerkraut. However this requires fermenting. I am really really gun-shy of trying this. Fermenting intimidates me. It could go so horribly wrong.

Similar feelings about cheese. We've got all of the equipment now. Its just a matter of trying it.

Probably the most fun of all of this is sharing it. With Bill. With a few lucky neighborly friends. 

I am seriously considering this to be a theme for the annual "Burris Christmas Spectacular" This year. Why can't everything at my party be from scratch. I even found a place that will do in-home all natural cooking classes that could be fun for the party too. Would that be fun? Of course there would be the gift exchange too.
Maybe. Or an interactive mystery game.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ode to My Husband

A lot of people think I'm crazy for doing some of the work that I do. Heck, sometimes I think I'm crazy. I mean, who thinks "ya, counseling men who have hurt their partners sounds like fun."
While I never said the work was fun, its definitely challenging. It has helped me grow personally and professionally. I have some pretty great co-workers.

And it really helps me appreciate my home. My family. My husband.

One guy today questioned if he ever really loved his wife.

That made me sad. Apparently I'm still thinking about it. But it made me think of how I love my DH and everything I love about him.

And for your reading pleasure, a list of many of the things I love and appreciate about my husband:

- His big generous heart: When we were first dating, I learned, kind of by accident that he was sponsoring a poor child from another country. Monthly sending money and letters to help the child and family provide a better life/future. He started doing it as soon as he got his first job out of college. He also its his "thing" to put together 2 full grocery bags a month to give to the local food pantry.

- He is a future thinker. He is always considering the next step. How will today affect tomorrow. Be it actions, money, whatever.

- He is very affectionate. I need that.

- He is incredibly honest. Sometimes to the point of being annoying. But I know that he always means what he says. If he says the pot roast was good, it was good. If he doesn't like that beer that you've been raving about, he just says so. No sugar coating. No trying to appease or pacify. No hidden messages. It is what it is. Hes not going to pretend.

- His sense of humor. If you haven't seen it, you don't know him very well. While he seems very serious on the surface, he is actually quite funny and silly. We have many many inside jokes. Though he will never ever like fart jokes.

- His fathering. I knew when i saw him interact with his nieces and nephews for the first time that he would be a good dad. He looks at his son with pure adoration. He is goofy and silly with him and kisses his face and head and speaks baby talk and cuddles changes diapers and laughs at spit ups. It is a joy to watch him.

- His ease with himself. He is just so comfortable in his own skin. I would like to thank his parents for that. It helps me to be at ease with myself

- Listening. Now, at first, he often seems like he is not listening. This was difficult at first. He has a thought and sticks with it. And you might make your case...whatever the issue/discussion is and you might leave the conversation feeling like you got no where. However, he ALWAYS thinks about it. And hours or days later will come back with modified thoughts based on research or further thought. And then will acknowledge your idea. Better late than never.

- His faith. It is super personal to him. He loves God, loves life, and is very spiritual. However it is not preachy at all. It is simply lived out.

- Morals. This possibly goes along with honesty generosity and faith. But he has strong moral and ethical convictions. I know that he will always do what he feels is the right thing, even if it is difficult. I love that he  tells some of his guy friends that he thinks some of their "typical guy stuff/talk" is dumb and degrading to women.

- Fairness. This man has never hit below the belt. Ever. not once. He always plays fair. Even if/when I do not.

- Animals: oh he has a fondness for all creatures. We dream of having a farm. He cuddles this kitty. He can't shoot/hunt animals, even though he has been trained to do so. And is on my "ethical treatment of animals" bandwagon. Hes also the master gardener around here.

-He is immensely intelligent. I really believe he could have been a doctor, and a good one. But he is also a good chemical engineer and manager of people. He does chemistry for a living. And makes it work on a huge scale. He uses that intelligence is many other areas as well.

-Supportive. I have some crazy ideas and goals sometimes. And he is supportive of them, even if he may not be a huge fan of some of them. We worked it out early on- dating while I was finishing grad school. He helped me take care of mom. He's cool about my all-natural kicks. Whatever I need for my work schedule. Losing baby weight- ok, even if there are fewer sweets around. '

-Passionate- when it comes to the things he really loves, he can turn into a giddy little kid or a man on a mission. Looking at Star Wars Toys, opening a pack of baseball cards, hanging out with his brother, going to a baseball game, the Badgers, getting a gift for his dad, getting/making dessert, working out, social responsibility, his vegetable garden, chemicals, religion, politics...

-Patient. Kind. Gentle.

I pray our son turns out to be an awful lot like him.

Is he perfect. Absolutely not.

But who is.

Is he awesome. Absolutely so.

I am a very very lucky woman.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


The latestAmazon package came in the mail. A lamp. In a giant box with lots of air bubbly wasteful packaging material. While dh excitedly sliced into the box to put together said lighting fixture, kitty could not wait to jump onto the empty box and thrash through the packaging waste. Blissfully ignoring any of the fancy cat toys we purchased over the past year

Likewise as I am  On the floor with my son, surrounded by his choice of toys with blinking lights, music, colors and textures, he shows mild interst in any of them until I break out 2 basic kitchen utensils of black measuring spoons and a whisk. Now he is happy and laughing uncontrollably

And while there are tons of movies, tv shows, amusement parks, concerts, hip clubs and other fun and enticing opportunities to do, I find myself happiest watching my kitty jump in and out of a box, watching my son shake a whisk and my hubby putting a lamp together

I must slow down and remind myself of the pure joy in the simplicity of everyday life

Thursday, September 20, 2012

music and fear

In another life, I would have been a musician. if I were more secure, more confidant, more willing to take big risks and chances.

Alas I am not.

I do play music. I play guitar. Sing. "songwrite" Once upon a time I played clarinet. I Make a valiant effort to sort of play piano enough to trick the untrained ear. I am the kind of "musician" who drives real muscians crazy. I don't practice much. I don't read music well. I play in chords.  But its enough to get by. And enough to teach beginners.

But I do love music so much.

Every so often I get asked to share my music at various events. My favorites are at fundraisers and public awareness events.

I have the opportunity to play at 2 events in the next few months. The first is in a few weeks. I work for "A Safe Place". a domestic violence organization. THey are having their yearly public awareness event and I have been asked again to provide some music. Its usually a very casual affair and its with people I know and generally like. And it means something. Its not just to show off, but to connect to a message. to inspire hope and courage. SOmething I wish I had more of myself.

Maybe I do these events 50% for myself. I need the positive direction, reminder and message myself.

THe second is for the Illinois COunseling Association yearly conference. One of my former professors I still keep in touch with loves my music for some reason. We worked together on creating music and a creative atmosphere for the National Career Development Associations National convention in 2005; and it was fun. And encouraging. And inspiring. it was an honor to be a part of. As the upcoming conference will be as well.

I used to lead worship at my old church. Man, I loved that. But it was something I was asked and invited to be a part of. But I can't seem to get my current youth group to do it. I jsut haven't even tired really. I'm kind of scared actually to make it a part of the group.

I think I just got it.

Man, I hate imposing myself on people. And music is such a part of self. If someone asks me, invites me. Awesome. I'm all in.

When it comes to initiative. I have zero buy in to myself.  ok, maybe not zero, but its low. If I have to ask/invite/impose my music or services on you, its almost apologetic. and I make sure to give you an out so you don't feel bad saying "no"

I know I do this with relationships too. *sigh* I wish you knew how much it takes for me to invite anyone to do ANYTHING. I never want to force someone to be with me. So i rarely ask. If you invite me, I'm all in. I will try most anything to make it work. its kind of sad. Its part of this social awkwardness. And yet I think I am fun and interesting and have a lot to offer frienships/relationships.

And here it comes out in music. Something that I think I am actually pretty good at. A gift I have been given. But I won't put it out there on my own accord. I squander it. I'm too afraid.

How many of us have this fear that keeps us from being real. From enjoyment. Being proud of ourselves. From laughter and care and wonder and empowerment and being challenged.

Fear is such bondage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

my 9/11

I remember my mom telling many stories about social experiences growing up that were particular to her era. One was where she was and what she was doing when Kennedy was assassinated. She was at school and described how they were told and how devastated everyone felt. How people who weren't even friends cried together. It seems everyone from her generation has a story about whet they were doing/where they were when they got the news.

Fast forward to today. It seems that 9/11 is that story of this generation. The tragedy that happened where everyone knows and has a story about what they were doing/where they were when 911 happened. How surreal and unbelievable it was that not only did it happen, but parts of it right in front of our eyes, and the sheer volume of human human lives that were taken and affected was insurmountable.

Its hard to believe that was 11 years ago. 11 years. And yet we can recall those feelings like it was yesterday.

I can't decide if this is a post about where 11 years went or what 9/11 means now. Perhaps a bit of both as it was such a marker in human and personal history.

I know where I was. I was working as a secretary  of development at Wheaton College. Tuesday morning meeting and devotional was interrupted by someone running into the meeting room, which was where the only tv was, and turning it on and demanding that everyone watch what was happening. I remember not believing my own eyes. Not only in processing that there were people in a building that a plane crashed into, but watching the second one go in. ANd trying to figure out in my brain what they heck was happening and why.

The entire workday was spend staring at the computer, looking for any updates on the story. Fielding phone calls from donors and alumni and people associated with the college. Todd Beemer was an alumni and I fielded that call.

Going "home" and processing it alone was not on my priority list, luckily I had planned to go to a volleyball game with Ang R. , but that game was cancelled so I just hung out at her home for hours glued to the news.

I look back and think about what a fragile time it was for me personally. At such a crossroad. I was at a job I hated and was not good at. (I was a secretary; anyone who knows me knows I have the administrative and organizational skills of a monkey). For a school with a lot of money when I could not afford to finish my own education. I had such a fragile ego, faith, sense of worth, purpose, etc. Yet I knew that there was more and I knew hard work and I loved God.  And that was enough for then. Because it carried me to the next steps.

At that time I never would have guessed I would be where I am at right now. In so many ways.  THe way I see the world has changed (I think 9/11 did that to everyone), my place in life has far exceeded my expectations (God has a way of doing that), I have a sense of personal peace,  a beautiful family, an education I fought for (BA and MA), a job I love, a sense of hope and purpose, a healthy skeptecism, a knowing of who I am and where I came from, my politics have changed, and so much more.

My faith in humanity. While one cannot help but wonder what drives people to such horrible acts, I have a basic belief in people. Whereas I did not used to have that. After such a horrible incident, people came together. All of the sudden America was United. No left or right. rich or poor. black or white. Just hurting people who were trying to make sense of a horrible incident. (unfortunately our Muslim brothers and sisters became targets of our anger).

I have a need to believe in hope amidst tragedy. Light in the darkest hour. I have always had a peculiar fascination with tragedies such as the Holocaust. Not so much that it happened, because unfortunately tragedies happen, but the stories of hope and triumph that came out of such a dark place. A flower amongst the ashes. I have to believe that that exists. ( don't want my discourse as to where that need comes from)

I suppose my hope, is that in remembering 9/11, that for at least myself, that I remember that hope. That even though a nightmarish incident happened, that we can survive. That while we grieve, and have scars, that we can be ok. That life can be good. That people can come together and support and love and make something good out of something bad. Triumph over the darkness. Even if its painful. And horrific. No matter what that dark is. Personal loss. A recession.  A hurt. A violation.

The terrorists hurt and terribly violated the nation, individuals, families, our sense of security.  But we still live. We still love. We still succeed. We still triumph. That is my inspiration. And that is the victory.