Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Archive for February, 2014

Mid life Crisis

Have you ever had a mid life crisis? I have; every February. I keep forgetting to not look in the mirror in February. If I remembered that, I wouldn’t keep having a mid life crisis. I wake up one morning in February and I see a chalky faced mole looking back at me. This mole looks like she’s been living underground for a long, long time. And, she has. Wisconsin winters are long.

mole

What’s that you say? I’m a Christian, and Christians are not supposed to care what’s on the outside? Well, you’ve got me there. It certainly is what is on the INSIDE that counts. That’s what I tell my daughter. Except, have you ever looked at a chalky faced mole? You haven’t, or you wouldn’t challenge me on this.

Once the mole makes her appearance, I start to strategize. You know how men buy Corvettes when they have a mid-life crisis? Well, I kinda do that, except instead I buy a bottle of tanning cream; get a pedicure or high lights.

This year, for Christmas, I had a friend give me a crazy generous gift certificate to a salon and spa. I decided to use it to get color and highlights in February. Usually I do my own.

I know I have a lot of friends in the salon industry. They are awesome, and let me tell you, if I had a lot of discretionary income, I would be seeing those stylists A LOT.

I hope those friends are not offended when I say, HOLY STACKS OF CASH!!!! Do you know how much it costs to have your hair done? I’m going to tell you; $140 for color and highlights. THAT is an expensive mid life crisis. I may as well have bought a Corvette.

I wish I could swing getting my hair done in a salon more often. I would be so good at that kind of life. I’m good at chatting and reading silly magazines. I sit nice and quiet, and don’t even wiggle around. It’s just kind of a gift. I don’t try to flaunt it, but it’s there.

I was looking around at all the other women in the salon. Most of them looked quite a bit younger than me. They appeared to be familiar with the stylists too, like they’ve been there before. I had to resist the urge to ask them how on Earth they could afford this regularly. Maybe they were born into wealth. Or, maybe they owe their credit card companies interest for their cool hair. I guess I don’t get to know their business, but I really want to.

Another thing I’m good at is listening to people’s conversations. You can learn a lot of interesting things in a salon. One young, pretty girl was getting platinum hair with dark purple highlights. It actually looked kinda cool. I heard her telling her stylist that her dad was mad at her because she’s been in the ditch 6 times this winter. I was getting into the spirit of things by then. I thought I could get used to this carefree, high rollin’ lifestyle. I leaned over and said to that young girl, “Are you serious? He’s mad when you’ve only been in the ditch 6 times? What’s he expect, for you to be some kind of safety expert, or something?”

She’s like, “totally! I wish my Dad was as cool as YOU!”

I leaned back in my chair. I said, “Adults don’t understand anything. You should tell him he might want to try buying you a new car. Then you’ll talk to him more about staying out of the ditch.”

She thought that sounded like a really smart idea. I felt good about being able to help her with her problem.

When the stylists was massaging my scalp and I slipped into a catatonic coma, I started rationalizing. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to do this again. Tomorrow. I asked myself how a person could put a price tag on good mental health, anyway. In a way, this is like therapy, right? Don’t I actually NEED this…to stay sane? For my family? I mean, Scott buys himself all those…umm…I mean he is buying all that…well, one time he bought…electricity and insurance? Crap. I got nothing. He buys nothing. It’s like being married to a Monk.

I thanked the kind stylist. She asked if she could book my next appointment. I asked if she thought she had anything open in 2034. By then I would be retired. I might have a little more cash to throw around. She told me to get out.

That salon experience was AWESOME. But, I’m going back to old school, budget conscious methods for beating this mid life crisis. I’ve bought my tanning cream; I may splurge on a pedicure; I’m doing my yoga. Then, Olivia showed me this video. This is it. This lady is incredible. She has original and fresh beauty tips that won’t shred your savings. You’re going to like her too. You’ll thank me. Just watch this:

Crazy Town

Have you ever been to crazy town? Crazy town is a place where you get to act crazy, and people pretend it’s normal. I was in crazy town this weekend. I was at a kids’ youth wrestling tournament.

When you walk into a gym and there is a little kids’ youth wrestling tournament going on, you need to know that normal rules for behavior do NOT matter. If you are a parent, and your young child is wrestling at a youth tournament, you get to act crazy.

It isn’t the parents’ fault. If you have not watched much wrestling, and you bring your cute little baby offspring into a gym to wrestle other people’s cute little baby offspring, there’s almost a 100 percent chance you will fall under the crazy spell.

It happened to me. I remember the first time Eddie wrestled. He was in Kindergarten. He begged us to let him wrestle at a tournament, so we did. I remember his first match. He was getting pinned. His big brown eyes were looking right at me, and he looked scared. Spontaneous tears came to my eyes. I looked to my right. My mom was crying too. I had all I could do to not march out on that mat and tell that other boy that he was not being very nice. How would he like it if someone pinned him? Then, maybe I’d try and show him. I’m surprised his mamma didn’t teach him better manners.

eddie kindergarten wrestling

Most parents are not prepared for the intensity. Some parents are, and they find every way they can to make it worse. Not too long ago Scott talked on the phone to a parent with a batch of his own preschool through 3rd grade children. The dad asked Scott if our youth program could challenge his kids. The dad was a little skeptical, because he told Scott his kids were wrestlers AND endurance athletes.

Scott laughed. He said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I think you must be cutting out. I thought you said your little kids were endurance athletes.”

The Dad answered, “I did. They are.”

I guess it’s never too early for your six-year-old to start training for the Ironman. That Dad was smart to be skeptical. We would not have a program that would satisfy him. The program run in our area focuses a little more on fun, a little less on 20 mile training runs.

I think parents of little youth wrestlers should have to take a class before they go to their first tournament. The class would help them learn ways to avoid falling under the crazy spell. Here is what they’d learn:

National pride is not at stake. Your child will not be taking home a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal. This is not televised. Absolutely no one in this world will be disappointed if your child loses, except you. This is not the Olympics. Don’t act like it is.

The children you’re screaming at were recently living in a womb. Babies. That’s what they are. You’re screaming and yelling at two babies. Babies need love, encouragement, calm correction and positive examples. Stop yelling at them. That’s scary. If they’re used to it, that’s even scarier.

Back up. Please. Please. Back up. Stop creeping out on the mat. I don’t know what you are doing. Are you trying to get in on the action? If you are, I’m putting money on you. I think you definitely could win against that 2nd grader out there. Maybe you’re trying to make sure your child hears you over the yelling of the other parent. If that’s the case, then see point two.

I remember a match Zeke wrestled. He was little. It was close. Scott was not there. I was no match for the dad and the Grandpa who were both creeping out as far as they legally could, hovering over the two 3rd graders on the mat. They screamed as loudly as they could; neat and encouraging things like, “Finish him!!!!”

I don’t even remember who won; probably the other boy. I just remember feeling like my shy son just endured unnecessary trauma. I couldn’t do anything to protect him, because I guess those two jackwagons were acting normal. If normal is crazy, that is.

You’re in your own wrestling match. You are wrestling with your emotions. I promise you, your opponent is tougher than whomever your son or daughter is wrestling. Every time your child wrestles, and you keep a lid on Cuckoo the clown, and act like a happy, mature and calm adult, you win. Cuckoo is one strong hunk-a-crazy. You’ve got your work cut out for you.

Don’t tell people that your child didn’t get a good night’s sleep when he loses (us moms are especially good at this). Don’t make excuses. There’s nothing to excuse. He lost, and that’s okay. Embrace it. He learned something new. He’s a baby. He doesn’t know how to be a good sport when he loses until you teach him. Good sports don’t whine. Good sports say, “I lost. My opponent was better than me today. I will work hard and keep trying.”

Don’t talk about the other guy before the match. Major rooky mistake. If you are a parent, and you know the stats and records of all the other second grade wrestlers, you’re going to need to call up your therapist. Parents get in their kids’ heads with that stuff. They say, “You’ve got this guy next. He beat this other guy, but you beat a guy that beat that other guy. So you can beat this guy.”

I bet you think I’m making that up. I’m not. Kids focus too much on the other guy all on their own. They don’t need their parents help. Zeke told me that when he was younger he could get psyched out before a match by looking at the other guy’s socks. He thought surely if the kid is wearing socks THAT cool, then that kid must know what he’s doing. Any sports psychologist will tell you that you’re better off focusing on what YOU do well, and improving your own strengths. Focusing on the other guy is wasted, negative, energy.

Remember God has entrusted you with a family. Whether you’re a single parent, have one child or six, what you have going on is a lot more than that wrestling match you’re watching. Wrestling can offer an opportunity for your family to share great memories, support one another and be close. Or, it can serve to hurt you and your relationships with the people you love most.

I remember one year Eddie was really, really sick. He had missed almost the entire school year. He wanted to wrestle so badly. As long as Eddie has been able to walk and talk, he has wanted to wrestle. You know how some kids are just born loving something? That’s him. We kept praying and hoping that his illness would let up, and he would be able to participate in the wrestling season he loved so much.

Finally, at the end of the season, he experienced some relief. It was the weekend of Regionals; Eddie’s last chance to try to make it to youth state. He was weak. He had circles under his eyes, and he had been to only several practices the entire season. I would have liked to tell him to take a pass on Regionals. It seemed ridiculous to try to throw him out there against healthy kids who have been preparing for this and practicing almost every day.

Sometimes moms just have to let their kids do hard things. Sometimes your instinct to protect them is the wrong instinct. I hate that.

Eddie wrestled and he did not make it to state. He put out a tremendous effort, really. He came quite close. We were sad. We were sad because we knew he wanted to go to State. But, we were also sad because when he was small we took it for granted that he would always be able to do what he wanted to do most. We were wrong.

Eddie was an eternal optimist. We thought he may be wondering himself why life seemed to be especially difficult for him. Seeing him so sad was causing his parents some serious grief.

Then I remember Zeke and Olivia stopping Eddie as we walked down the hallway, out of the school. They wanted to hug him. They were sad too. I could tell their love and support made him feel better.

kids hugging

We decided to go out to eat on the way home to celebrate. We were celebrating that we were a family. We were celebrating that we love each other. We were celebrating something sad that happened and a serious challenge in our lives. We were celebrating that challenge because it had given us an opportunity to realize just how much we love each other.

That experience and others like it have served as my short course out of crazy town. Our challenges have broken the crazy spell for me, and helped me realize that wrestling is one of the most fun things we have experienced as a family. Wrestling has offered my kids and their parents opportunities to grow closer. Wrestling has given our family opportunities to meet great people, make new friends, and grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And, what I am particularly grateful to have learned is that I can NEVER again use wrestling as an excuse to live in crazy town.

Let’s Freak the Freak Out

This week our family was able to participate in one of those highlight of your lives type experiences. It wasn’t up there with a birth or a wedding, but definitely just a tier below. Our wrestling team qualified to go to state. This is the second time this has happened in our school history. Last year was the first.

The meet came down to the last match. The other team won the second to last match. After the boy from the other team beat our kid, he snarled at our crowd; that made the whole thing feel even more like we were watching an after school special. We were only up by one point. Our final wrestler needed to win the last match for our team to earn a trip to Team State. He won. I am going to admit to you now that we freaked the freak out.

Zeke and Olivia said they were a little embarrassed by my enthusiasm. I’ve watched a ton of wrestling in the last 20 years. I’ve had practice at controlling my emotions. I’ve learned that you keep crazy mom on the inside. You don’t let that maniac out. On this night she came out; she made up for lost time.

I started feeling badly for acting so crazy. I couldn’t really remember what I even did or said. I just know whatever came out of me was produced by adrenaline. Then I remembered my friend next to me bawling her eyes out. My other friend and I were clinging to each other during the last match. See? It wasn’t just me.

My kids also told me they saw their dad, the Coach, behaving in a way they have never seen him behave before. Most the time we have to check Scott for a pulse during wrestling meets. During this last match he was banging the chair on the ground, jumping around and yelling, “Sauk Prairie”!!!

That proves it. This was one of those moments where we all had permission to freak the freak out. And why wouldn’t we? There’s a lot to celebrate. Winning a trip to state didn’t make our problems go away. We still had to get up and go to work the next day. But, on that night, something special was happening; something a lot of people have worked hard for, and have been concentrating on for a long time; something worth being excited about. So, we were.

Personally, I was celebrating a lot more than winning. I was celebrating our little 106 pounder. He was not favored to win. His role in the team effort was to fight off being pinned. He fought, and fought and fought. He endured pain, but he did not quit. It was close, and he delivered. The scoreboard said he lost, but we all knew he won.

I was also celebrating one of our injured wrestlers. He told the coaches he was going to take a pass on the trip he earned to individual sectionals, so that he could save himself for team state. He’d rather compete for the team title, than an individual title. That moves me.

I was celebrating the fact that all the wrestlers root for each other. No one tries to steal the show. The parents do the same.

I was celebrating our last kid on the mat that night. He has lost some matches, but he always fights. He always fights hard and to the very end. That night he taught us that if you keep fighting, sometimes you win. Sometimes you win big. We can use that as we fight through each day.

I was celebrating our team’s diversity. I love our little town, but I wish we didn’t all look so much alike. About ten percent of the high school population are minorities. On the wrestling team it is twice that. The team is made of kids with different backgrounds and different ethnicity. It’s exactly what I want my kids to be a part of.

The team is made up of some great kids who grew up in our small town, with two parents who would never miss a match. There are other kids who have moved to our town to get away from the city, and the stress and risks of living there. There are also kids who speak English as a second language; they have one parent at home who works every day of the week to keep food on the table. Attending wrestling meets is a luxury those parents cannot afford. These are unspoiled kids who show us how to take advantage of opportunities.

There is a spot on this team for everyone who chooses to join. They hang out and do things as a team.

You know I love a good story, and I like a happy ending. But, I hope you don’t think I think these kids are perfect. They’re just kids. Kids do stupid things. Kids say stupid things. They get mad at each other; sometimes they even beat each other up. Then they’re friends again. But, this team is showing me what it means to be a team. They’re doing something special, and it’s about a lot more than winning.

We have so many things to worry about and fear in this scary world. I’ve done plenty of that. I’ll do plenty more. We all have gone weeks and months grinding it out, without seeing anything to cheer about. So just for a few moments, I want think about something really great that’s happening here; I want to go ahead and say it’s time to freak the freak out.

team sectionals

You Thought YOU Had Problems

I am going to start a new business. I’m going to become a professional organizer. I can tell that a lot of my friends want to know my secrets for keeping everything running smoothly and in an orderly fashion. They don’t really come out and say that, but you know how sometimes you can just tell? I’m not selfish. And that is why I want to help.

Yeah. You’re right. I’m lying. Holy crap balls, life is IN.TENSE. I sound like I’m whining. I’m not. Everything on our family’s calendar is a privilege. We are fortunate to be able to participate in all the fun things we do. I know that. That’s what I tell myself every morning when I’m hyperventilating as I walk out the door.

Our family is at the peak of our busiest time of the year. This past week we had something all seven nights of the week. I’m not great at math, but if you’re gone all day, every day, until bed time, that doesn’t give you many hours to manage the household. I know some women will sacrifice sleeping. I don’t.

I had a good friend tell me on the bleachers this week that I would feel better knowing that she forgot her son’s Doctor’s appointment. I am not proud to admit it; she did make me feel better. I’m a bad friend. She is one of those moms you are sure has never in her life forgotten to sign a permission slip or bake birthday treats. So, you see? It’s really her own fault.

Intellectually, I know that we’re going to be okay. Things don’t have to be perfect. Cleanliness and order are not as important as being there for your kids and making great memories. But, sometimes my nerves just don’t buy it. Sometimes my nerves want me to put my fist through a wall, and scream at some of those precious, lazy slobs who are living under the same roof as me…bless their slobby hearts.

I have always been interested in people. I like to observe them. I have noticed that a lot of people (women especially) just have some innate ability to keep order. I love a clean house but God totally passed over me when he was passing out the OCD genes. I could use some.

This is really clear to me now that I have a daughter who is very organized and tidy. She reminds me to zip my purse, not lose my gloves, and to put my phone where it won’t get lost. I say to her, “Yeah. Well, I’m the mom. So, how would you like a spanking?”

My friend on the bleachers made me feel so good when she told me she screwed up. I know. I’m sick. I thought I could do the same for you. I will invite you into my life. When you realize how good you are at keeping things orderly compared to me, you are going to feel so good about yourself. Happy February. You’re welcome:

My purse

my purse

I bought a Giant bag from “31”. Have you been to one of those parties? If you have not, look around. You’re the last person on Earth.

Maybe it’s a Midwest thing. They are the rage. I really like mine; mostly because it’s so big. I could fit a ham in there, if I wanted. I guess there’s a chance there’s a ham in there right now. It’s really hard to tell. Sometimes you get hungry and you’re glad you have a ham.

My boss asked me to get something out of her purse for her the other day. I think she was just trying to show off when she did that. She has a giant purse too. Except for her junk is all but alphabetized. Everything was in a logical location, and it was all easy to see. There were no dirty tissues, crumpled receipts, junk mail or hams in hers.

Olivia’s water bottle

Olivia plays basketball. She had a game this week. When I dropped her off for school that morning she realized we forgot her water bottle. She asked if we could go back and get it. I couldn’t. I had a meeting in Chicago for work. There were no minutes to spare. Thankfully, I’ve always been a quick thinker. I shoved my coffee mug in her hand. She didn’t look appreciative. I said, “Just take it. It’s fine.”

coffee mug 2

She wasn’t very happy with me the next day. She told me that at half time someone refilled all the water bottles…and her coffee mug. I’m like, “Olivia, coffee mugs are what ALL the serious basketball players use. I’m surprised your friends didn’t know that.”

Our Minivan

mini van

Yep. Real picture. I did not tamper with that scene before I took this picture; except maybe to clean it up a little. Say hello to the bane of my existence. Our van serves a dual purpose. It provides us with transportation, and also is used as a storage shed. The other day I had to transport someone I had just met. Someone one of my children is fond of, I think; someone of the opposite sex.

It was a spur of the moment thing. I thought about just making an excuse, and saying, “Oh, sure. I can give you a ride. We’re moving though, so we have a lot of stuff in the van that we have to take to the new house.” Then I tried figuring out how to put the house up for sale, and where we might move. It just started getting complicated.

I told the truth instead. I said, “Listen. You may as well know right up front that I don’t have my crap together. Let’s not pretend. I hope you like us anyway. Be careful not to sit on that dress shoe behind you.”

Our family Calendar

calendar

I took this picture this week. This is our Family calendar. It’s on our kitchen wall, at the center of our daily activity. It’s used to help us all remember what is going on and where.

Just in case you’re confused, It’s February right now. This calendar says September. That’s the last time anyone touched it, or looked at it.

Remember September? Remember that month where you are off to a good start? You’re optimistic that you can organize, file and categorize the chaos coming at you with the force of a power washer every day? I guess I gave up on September 30th.

Do you feel better? I was hoping you would. I have had lots of nice people encouraging me on this blog journey. I wanted to do something nice in return. If you have a girlfriend who thinks she could do better, you have my permission to send her this, if you think it will help.

Arranged Marriages Seem Alright

Many Americans are all big on freedom. They don’t favor arranged marriages. I think that’s a little hasty. I didn’t used to think arranged marriages seemed like a good idea, but now that I’m old enough to arrange one, I have changed my mind.

Wedding

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m thinking about these things: love, relationships, marriage. My kids are just entering, or getting close to entering that stage in their lives where their parents should talk to them about all of these subjects. And, let me tell you, my kids HATE it when their parents try.

Our kids do not appreciate their parent’s insight into relationships. Our children are offended by Scott and me. I visualize our children talking to a therapist one day. They will say, “I don’t know. I just can’t seem to move past the bad memories. My parents were married more than twenty years, and they still liked each other…a lot. I still have nightmares of them hugging, holding hands and laughing with each other like they were young. It’s sick. You can’t wipe those images from your mind. Now I just have to find a way to heal.”

That’s how our kids act. Even our dog is in on it. No one likes it when Scott and I hug or show each other affection. They try to break it up. Just in case you’re not following me, we’re talking occasional, sweet, Disney version hugs here. I don’t know what YOU were thinking, but this isn’t that kind of blog.

I have to get over the guilt I have for liking my husband. Instead I foster a small hope in my heart that way down the road, when our kids have their own kids, they will remember that having your spouse as your number one favorite person to hang out with, is just a state of normal. I hope I live long enough to see it. Grandma will get some pay back then too. I don’t know how, but she will. You remember that.

I don’t have to tell you that a lot of crap comes flying our way in life. Great relationships make all of that doo doo not stink quite so badly. I want to tell my kids how to choose their mate well. They won’t let me, so I’m telling you instead. Thanks for that. Here’s are some questions I would like my kids to ask themselves about a prospective mate:

How do they treat the people they don’t have a crush on?

The kids are really sick of hearing this one. I’ve said it a lot. If someone likes you, and they’re nice to you, it means exactly nothing. EVERYONE is nice to the people they have a crush on, it’s a fact. Don’t trust grand gestures and flattery. Trust every day kindness.

Pay attention to how a person treats the people they have no interest in ever dating; if they treat those people nicely and with respect, that’s a good sign.

I dated someone once who would say things like, “I hate that person.”

I would say, “Wow. You hate them? They must have done something horrible. What did they do?”

He would usually reply with something like, “I don’t know. They just bug me. I hate them.”

I know. I know. That’s a nonsensical conversation that I wish I was never dumb enough to have. Now you know why I feel the need to give my kids advice.

Are they emotionally predictable?

Emotions. You need to keep those babies under control. I’m not talking about getting teary eyed when you see a commercial about the Humane Society type of emotions. I’m talking about people who accidentally turn their lives in to a Soap Opera; people who convince themselves that a flat tire, forgotten homework, or a bad hair cut is a real problem. People who cry a lot, yell a lot, get mad a lot, give people the silent treatment a lot, are grumpy a lot, or feel sorry for themselves a lot are going to be a lot of work. I’d take a pass on those people.

Choose people who are predictably calm and happy. That way, if they are sad or angry, you know it’s probably something worth being sad or angry about.

If you ask them to call in sick to hang out with you, will they say no?

I hope so. There’s nothing more attractive than someone who honors their commitments. As you get older, your commitments grow. If you’re married, and out in the world showing up and getting your job done, while your spouse is lying on the couch watching Netflix, avoiding theirs, you’re going to be grossed out. I’m just telling you now so you know where things are headed.

Are they interested in things that don’t involve you?

A partner who has a passion for things that you don’t know about is an interesting person. Sometimes it can feel like a really long life. It’s better when it’s interesting. If your partner can teach you things you didn’t know before, you will admire them even more.

Do you believe the same things?

You have GOT to figure this stuff out before you get married, not after. Here’s why: Life will punch you in the gut. I hate telling you that. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will. I wish I could prevent it. I can’t. When you do get the wind knocked out of you, and your family finds out someone you all love has died, or developed a drug addiction or cheated on someone or been abused, your kids (my grand kids) are going to want answers. You’re probably going to tell them to talk to God. You may say that God has a plan, and they can trust His plan.

If your spouse tells them there is no God. Life is random. That will be confusing. It doesn’t leave much for you and your spouse to talk about either.

Do they interrupt you?

Interrupters are the worst. Don’t be one. Don’t marry one. It seems like a small thing, but it’s actually a big thing. If you found someone who looks you in the eye, and waits for you to finish your thoughts before they share their own, there’s a good chance you have found someone who is unselfish. You’ll enjoy spending your life with someone who is unselfish. Feeling like you’ve been heard by someone who cares will save you money on therapy too.

Do they make you laugh?

You should find someone who appreciates humor, and who can laugh at themselves too. In our house (like most others), we have had some serious things to handle. I watched a documentary one time on stress management. I learned how important it is to find a way to manage stress so that it does not make you physically or mentally ill.

A lot of the strategies described are not ones our family has employed. Then they mentioned humor and laughing. That’s it. That’s what we do. That’s one of the biggest reasons we’re upright, functioning and moving forward.

Even at the very peak of our most stress filled moments, I would guess no more than 20 minutes pass before someone has cracked a joke, and someone laughs. Laughter dissolves tension. I thank God he gave me a husband who agrees there is almost always something to laugh about. I hope my kids find someone like that too.

If you could choose one person to live with you on a deserted island for the rest of your life, would you choose this person? Would you be happy there?

I hope it’s yes to both questions. Your mate should be able to say yes too. When you have met the right person, you do not have to ask yourself if you have met the right person. You just know.

wedding couple

I’m sorry to be so disgusting kids, it’s kind of my job as a parent though. If you’re not going to let me arrange your marriages, then the least you could do is just hear me out on these things.

I’ve got more to say, but let’s just marinate on the above for now. Do you like that turn of phrase? I heard a lady say we should “marinate” on her words once at a seminar. It made want to put her in a headlock and give her a face wash in the snow. I thought I’d try it here.

I made such a good call when I chose your Dad. And that’s nothing compared to how good a call he made when he chose me (Oh, remember to find someone who’s humble too. Like me.) I just want to help you to do the same.

Happy Valentines Day!!!!

love

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How I almost Died

When I tell my family that I have a brain tumor, they say, “Are we out of milk?” Sometimes I start coughing. I’ll keep coughing so hard that I feel like I could pass out. So, I do, on the kitchen floor, in front of everyone. I gasp loudly and then I lay there, completely limp. My eyes stare at the ceiling. I think I look just like people who die on TV. My family walks around me.

I guess you can only claim fatal illnesses and fake your death so many times. Eventually your family becomes suspicious, and then they just stop believing you. I told my family that one of these days I’m going to really play the thing out, all the way to the funeral. I’ve always wanted to know how sad people would be if I died. I would sit in the back of the church in a disguise. No one would recognize me. I’d watch everybody weep. I would get really choked up just thinking about what a good person I was.

I’d also pay attention to who wasn’t there. I’d finally know who was just pretending to be my friend. When I decided to come back to life and tell everyone it was just a joke (People are going to laugh so hard. That’s really a good one), I would know who I didn’t have to be nice to any more.

Scott has told me that I have diagnosed myself with more fatal illnesses than anyone he knows. One time I was getting a migraine. Only I didn’t know it was a migraine. I’ve never had a migraine. I only knew that my Grandma and my Dad have lost part of their eye sight when they got older.

I was sitting on the couch with a slight headache. My vision started to blur. I just kept saying, “This is it. I knew this would happen. I’m going blind. It’s going. I’m losing my eyesight.” I tried to take in every detail of my family’s precious faces, knowing it would be my last chance before I was enveloped in complete darkness.

I was scared and convinced. So convinced that Scott started to worry a little about my impending blindness. The visual disturbances eventually passed. I said, “Oh, forget it. I’m not going blind. I guess it was a headache.” I don’t know why Scott gets so annoyed. You just have to get used to his moods.

I am lucky to have a boss that totally gets me. I may not get any sympathy at home, but at work it’s different. My boss and I know that we’re always just moments from getting terrible news, and we’re prepared. If my boss has a health issue, she comes to me. I look it up on line and tell her it could be one of three things. They’re all fatal. She says, “I knew it!” The Doctor told her it was nothing to worry about, and that’s why we both know you should never listen to Doctors.

A few years ago I had a bad eye infection. It spread across part of my face. Eventually I got a fever and the chills. I went to the emergency room by myself, thinking that I would get some antibiotics and come back home. The attending physician was kind of a silly guy. He was making jokes when I first sat down on the examining table. Then he quit laughing and he said, “This is serious. We may have to med flight you to another hospital.” I was ready for this.

I called Scott. I was crying and told him he had to come to the hospital right away. When he got there, I was alone in the examination room. I told him what the Doctor said. Scott patted me on the back. He gently suggested I hold off on panicking until we saw the test results.

Scott’s crazy. He wouldn’t recognize a life-and-death situation if he was standing in the middle of it. And, believe me, he was standing in the middle of it.

I insisted that while we waited Scott needed to take notes on my last words and wishes. I told him that marrying him was the best decision I ever made.

I said, “I want you to move on with your life. You have my blessing to remarry.”

He said, “I don’t think we…”

“Shhh, ” I said putting my finger to his lips. “You musn’t argue. You can’t let my memory get in the way of your happiness. I only ask that she love our children. And, please, make sure the children know how much I loved them.”

He wrote it down. At least I think he did. I packed years worth of wisdom and guidance for him to pass along to the children into those 15 minutes.

The Doctor interrupted my dictation when he came back in the room. He said, “false alarm”. It isn’t what I suspected. We’ll just keep you for the night and give you intravenous antibiotics. You’ll be fine to go home tomorrow.

I looked at Scott and I said, “Now THAT was a close call. There’s nothing like a near death experience to put things into perspective. Am I right? I can’t even imagine how good it must feel to have me back. ” He didn’t say anything.

Emergency

You WISH you Lived in Wisconsin!

In Wisconsin we know about winter. We know about snow, and ice and sleet and frigid temps. You can’t really fight winter any more than you can fight your need for oxygen or water. But, this winter? The winter we’re in now? This winter here is on our last nerve.

We signed up to live in Wisconsin, not the North Pole. And there IS a difference. In Wisconsin we know that 15 degrees below zero happens…once in a while. We’re prepared for that. We’re not prepared for that to happen EVERY GOSH DANG DAY. Wow. I guess I’m angrier than I thought. I apologize for the language.

I’m not being very positive, am I? You probably haven’t forgotten that I said I was going to employ positive thoughts in my life. Why do people have to have such good memories? I think I said some dumb thing like positive thoughts can actually make you more positive. I know. That’s a jacked up theory. But, they say it works. I’ll keep trying.

For the sake of tricking myself in to feeling positive, I want to tell you that winter is AWESOME!!! Especially this winter we’re in right now. Especially with temperatures that look like this:

Wisconsin weather map

I wish we could figure out how to have temperatures like this all year long. They. Are. Glorious. Too much? Here are a few of my favorite things about Wisconsin winters:

Maximum coverage – The last time I went shopping for shorts I realized that there’s something wrong with shorts these days: My legs. Yeah, that’s definitely what’s wrong with them. We’re not even going to talk about swimsuits. Don’t. Just, don’t.

I bought this new coat that is like a sleeping bag with arms and a hole for your head. I’ve seen lots of other women around here wearing these coats too. They’re warm. And more importantly they’re forgiving. My favorite quality in clothing. I have a generic version of this:

winter coat

You can throw on crazy hats when it’s this cold too. My sister-in-law gave me this hat. I get compliments when I wear it. Thanks mom! I think you look nice too.

hat

Wow. I never actually have seen myself in that hat. It looked better in my imagination; a little more quirky-bohemian; a little less giant-bowling-ball-with-flower attached. I guess I need a new hat.

The idea is still there though. In these temperatures you can have bad hair and be carrying around a few more pounds than you’d like. Mr. Winter is kind. He says, “That’s okay. I got you covered. Literally.” That’s why winter and I are becoming friends.

Laziness is socially acceptable

I have a lot of “Type A” friends, do you? I thought we agreed to get rid of them, but there they are, too ambitious to take a hint. They say things like, “I just can’t go to bed at night until the kitchen is clean.” Or, “I haven’t sat through a movie in years. Who could possibly sit still that long?”

I can. I can sit still a really, really, really long time. I might be the best you’ve ever seen at sitting still. But, I don’t tell my “Type A” friends that. I just nod my head like I understand. Sometimes I lie. I say, “I know what you mean. What a waste of time. Who would even want to lay around all day like that? I’d just feel so gross.”

I don’t know why it’s so easy for me to be lazy, but it is. I’m just a natural at it. My mom says that when I was a baby I was happy to lay in my crib. I didn’t fuss and cry like my sisters. My mom fooled herself in to thinking she had a good baby. What she had was a lazy baby. A lazy baby that would turn into a lazy adult. I fight it every day. When it is 20 below zero, no one expects you to fight it. Spending three hours reading your Kindle Paperwhite, and watching back to back “Lifetime” movies featuring murderous nannies is a perfectly acceptable alternative to hypothermia.

It’s not like all that laying around is fun and games. I’m learning things. Things you need to know: like I know now that you should NEVER, I mean NEVER, trust your nanny. When you’re at work she will be going through your closet and trying on your clothes. She will be smelling your husbands pillow, and she will be taking a scissors and cutting you out of the family picture. Don’t worry, she’ll paste a nice picture of herself where you once stood. I know. I know. That’s sick, but those are facts. You just need to know it.

You should also know that if you decide to walk in a parking garage alone, that’s on your naive head. I hope you can run fast, and I hope you can out run that car; it is about to chase you down. Maybe you’d know how to protect yourself, and I wouldn’t have to hand out all these warnings if you’d do a little less kitchen cleaning and a little more TV watching. Have you ever thought of that?

Freezing cold, lazy days beat those annoying warm, sunny days; on those sunny days people expect you to move.

Watching Wrestling

You probably thought my list of winter highlights would include silly things like skiing and ice skating. The kind of winter we’re having in Wisconsin this year doesn’t even make those activities sound fun. Otherwise (*Full disclosure. See above. Sometimes I lie.) I would totally be hitting the slopes and lacing up the skates every chance I got. Dang you, frigid temps. Must you curse me?

In my house we like to spend winter sitting in cozy gyms, curled up to wrestling mats. I spend my winter watching other people exercise. Wrestling is my favorite. Here’s the team I follow:

sauk pr wrestlers

Facing my Fears

When I was 16 I was in two car accidents. Both of those accidents were due to careless driving on snowy roads. One time I was the driver, another time it was a friend. I have not been in any accidents since that time. I tend to learn my lessons.

Sadly, I learned my lessons so well that for years the thought of driving in snow left me feeling paralyzed with fear. I avoided it. I didn’t just avoid driving in snow storms. I avoided driving if I saw a single flake of snow, or even a piece of paper that looked like a flake of snow. Now I commute an hour each day. This is what I often see:

SnowDriving1

The other day I heard a forecaster on the radio say that sometimes the weather is at its worst during peak commuting hours. She said in Madison, WI that only happens twice a day.

You can only come up with so many busted pipes, puking kids and flat tire excuses for not coming in to work on snowy days. Eventually your boss becomes suspicious. You realize you have to choose between driving on snowy roads or unemployment. I chose to stay employed. Now I know what they say is true. The best way to not be afraid of something is to make yourself do it. Make yourself do it a lot.

I still don’t like driving during snowstorms, but I’m not afraid any more, and I actually think I’m kind of okay at it. I think that because of all the other cars I’ve passed over the years that are in the ditch. I’m pretty sure most of those cars are driven by 16-year-olds, or people who haven’t learned that the rules change when you’re driving in a snowstorm, or someone who has been hit by either of the above.

Venti Cafe Americano…room for cream

You got me. This is a repeat. I’ve told you before how much I like my Cafe Americano. Many years ago I remember Scott saying to me, “Pretzels make my life better.” Scott is a man of few words. He does not make extreme statements and rarely verbalizes his emotions. Apparently, pretzels are what it takes for him to break down the barriers. That was an amazingly passionate thing form him to say about hard baked flour, oil and salt. I thought, we’d better never run out of pretzels, or this guy is going to sink into a pit of despair.

I made fun, but now I know what he meant. Cafe Americanos make my life better. It tastes good, but I also have a psychological dependence. In the winter you can drink Americanos every day, because they keep you warm. I’ll have to think of another excuse as to why I drink them every day in the summer.

That’s a weak list. I admit it. I’m doing my best. Next week I may blog about all the things I love about root canals without anesthesia.

Do you feel better about winter now? I don’t. I mean, do. I do, I definitely do think winter is awesome. Do you?

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