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

Posts tagged ‘Wisconsin’

Tires and Dating my Husband

I think it’s high time we talked about tires.  I’ve been neglecting this subject for far too long.  It’s almost as if I can hear readers asking, “How long must we wait?  When can we talk tires?”

I hear you.  And, I’m answering your call.

Snow tires.  Crazy, right?  Crazy good.  I thought I needed a new car, because for the last two years, any time there was more than three flakes of snow,  my car would handle as well as if it were on a banana peel highway.

Right here is where I need to make an important announcement: Banana peel jokes are classic.  They never fail to kill me. My high school friends and I used to make jokes about leaving banana peels on the floor of the school’s hallway. We always wanted to do that, and then sit back and watch all the people try to catch their balance, and fall. We laughed so hard at this plan.  Mainly, because does anyone really know if banana peels are slippery?  And, if you walk across a banana peel, will your feet slip out from under you like you’re on a slippery patch of ice.  Because that’s what happens in cartoons, and I don’t think they’d make that stuff up.   I think you should try it, and then let me know. I’m almost 43, and that’s still funny.

But, those are just my thoughts on banana peels, and that’s not what you came here for, is it?  You were hoping for more of my auto mechanical expertise.  I will deliver. I bought these four beautiful snow tires. Snow tires are expensive, which is the main reason I’ve never had them before.


Wisconsin had its first of what I’m sure will be the next 600 snow storms this winter (except it’s still fall, technically).  When I heard the weather report, I felt my usual weather related anxiety start to percolate.  I’m not a very brave bad weather driver.   I did feel a little curious about whether the the snow tires would work.

They do.

I could tell immediately.  Anyone who has a fuel efficient vehicle like mine, a vehicle that weighs as much as  a lady bug, needs snow tires.  I’m telling you now.  These things are beautiful.  Maybe my favorite purchase ever.  After driving a while, and gaining confidence with these things,  I just started getting cocky.  I started thinking there was a pretty good chance other drivers were noticing how easily I stopped and started in the snow, and some jealousy was happening.

I got a little mean, and started rubbing it in to the other drivers.  I’d speed faster than normal to a stop sign, and then I stopped hard. No slipping.  I’d look at the other drivers, and shrug my shoulders, smile and wave.  Like, you know, what are ya gonna do?  Blessed.

I used to be jealous of semi drivers on the highway with their big, fat heavy, show offy tires. Braggers. Now, I speed by those semis, and use my little tin can on wheels to kick up snow in their windshield.  Pay backs stink, right?

I’m lying again.  And, if you’ve ever seen me drive in the snow, you’d know it.  You thought your Grandma was cautious.  Drive with me some time.  Grandma will look like a race car driver.  Not even snow tires will make me take chances.

That’s my review on snow tires. The other thing I’m thinking about is dating my husband.  I was in the Doctor’s office the other day, and by Doctor’s office, I mean, getting a manicure.  (It’s just for the holidays.  I promise. People are starving in this world, so I don’t know WHY I am getting a manicure.  I just prefer to lie about it for now).

So, AT the Doctor’s office, where I was having a pretty serious medical procedure, there was a talk show playing on TV.  The subject of the show was, “Dating your Husband”. There was this cute couple being interviewed. The couple had been married for 14-years.  The wife was crying, because she thought her husband took her for granted. She said she missed the days when he pursued her with romance.  The husband was really sweet.  He explained that between their children and his career, he just felt tired.  He said he really loved his wife, but didn’t know how to bring back the magic.

Do you realize how AWESOME daytime TV is?  I forgot.   All of us day time workers are being TOTALLY robbed.  I’m telling you that right now,   amazing things happen when you get to watch daytime TV.

So, this husband was on this show, because he wanted to woo his wife.  I was excited to watch more.  If the Doctor wouldn’t have been filing my nails, I would have taken notes.  I thought I could tell Scott about whatever I learned, and then maybe he would want to woo me.

The first thing this man did was send his wife a giant box with a bow.  The wife opened the box and the box was filled with Monarch butterflies.  Which, of course, didn’t just sit there.  The Monarchs all started flying out of the box.  There was a note in the box that said something  beautiful about the magic of flying butterflies and the couple’s love.

What do you think?

Frightening.  That  is what I thought.  I think if  a herd of monarchs came flying at me, that would be kind of an emergency in my book.  The kind of emergency where I run away screaming.  Plus, right away I was wondering if this whole butterflies in a box thing was in the butterflies best interest.  Do butterflies want to be in a box, and now flying around your house?  Is that their natural habitat?  Seems a little selfish to use butterflies as a love note.

That’s the part of the story where I realized I’m not very good at romance. I prefer the type of romance that makes sense.

Beneath the Monarchs is a lovely green dress the husband has chosen for his wife.  And, again, I’m ruining the fun for this couple, because I’m thinking husbands picking out clothes for their wives sounds like a disaster to me.

The last time Scott bought me clothes was 25 years ago.  Please do NOT ask him about this, because that guy can beat a dead horse.  He still laments about how he spent hours (or was it days) looking for just the right sweater.  He finally found it, and then spent a LOT of money on it (which I think is the part that makes him the most sorry) and then I never wore it.  This story is so old, and been told so many times, I leave the room when it starts.

Scott tells this sad tale, and he always builds up to the part of his greatest offense.  He says that after not wearing the sweater, I then ruined it with bleach.  He says I did it on purpose. I’ll always deny it.  Because, I didn’t.  At least not consciously.  Scott knows I ruin tons of things in the laundry.  It’s just that the sweater kinda looked like a team uniform.  Which I would guess now is exactly why Scott liked it.  He wanted me on his team.   And, again, I’m not good at romance.

After the dress giving from this romantic husband, there was a picnic in a theater, and then a boat ride where the couple (of course) reenacted the famous scene from “The Titanic”.  After that,  the husband got down on one knee and asked his wife to marry him…again. A big fat, shiny ring was involved, as if we thought there wouldn’t be.  The husband had then arranged for the ship’s captain to conduct a vow renewal ceremony, where these two crazy kids professed their love to each other.  There were lots of tears, and lots of loud-smacking, cringe-worthy kissing scenes.  I don’t need to see that.

What do you think?  Do you love it?

I thought I would love it, but this thing made me miserable.  I thought this show would teach me  about how husbands bring  popcorn and a movie home for their wives on a Friday night.  Or, how they go get milk so their wives don’t have to do it on the way home from work. Or, how a husband will start the car, and scrape the windshield of their wive’s car in the early morning.

That’s not what I learned.

Now, none of that stuff will even make me happy.  Not now that I know there are wives out there prancing in fields of Monarchs, to the delight of their husbands.  Wives who are hanging off the front of boats with their arms spread wide, as their husbands hold them, and romantic music plays.  Wives who are being surprised with big shiny rings, and romantic,  surprise proposals.

All I was hoping for was a crappy gallon of milk.

Maybe daytime TV isn’t as helpful as I thought.



Epic Adventure with my Teenage Sons

When I was in college I roomed with my sister and my lifelong best friend.  They were responsible students.  They did their homework.  They studied for exams.  I just pretended to do those things.

At that age, and all the ages before that age, I mostly just wanted to have fun. Remember that song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?”  Yeah.  I wrote that.  Or, I could have, if someone else wouldn’t have thought of it first.

I always had good intentions.  I always meant to do my homework and study, but then someone would ask me to order pizza with them, or come to their dorm room and make prank calls. Classic 90’s entertainment. (Really.  IS your refrigerator running? I’d check it, if I were you).  Sure, I had a ton of homework that needed to be done, but how could I say no?  That seemed kind of rude.

You might be able to get away with not studying in high school, but in college it catches up with you.   It only took a few horrible grades before I started figuring out that being irresponsible was not bringing about desirable results.   I experienced my first steps towards being an adult during that phase of my life.

Now I’m a full fledged, card-carrying member of the adult race.  Like all the rest of the adults I know, almost every minute of my day is devoted to fulfilling my obligations.  I am not complaining.  I love this life.

But guess what?  Little, irresponsible, good-time-gal is still buried somewhere beneath my adult exterior.  She’s still ready to have fun whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Scott was scheduled to chaperon his Spanish students on a trip to  Costa Rica the week school got out.  Olivia was going to be at Church Camp the same week.  That meant Zeke, Eddie and I would be home alone.

My oldest sister, and her son were visiting one of my other sisters and her family  in Colorado Springs this same week.  That was fun just waiting to happen.  We made a pretty last minute decision to  hop in the car and drive to Colorado to join the party.  We left at 2:30 in the morning, and drove 16 hours each way.

I could tell some people who loved us were a little worried about this plan (those are a LOT of miles to cover with just one experienced driver).  I would guess that the car ride alone would have been worth the effort though.

My boys are 17 and 14.  They are rough and tumble boys, and they have everything in common with their rough and tumble Dad.  My boys and Scott have shared many road trips together going to various sporting events, and on missions trips.  I can tell when Scott and the boys return  that the time they spent together was the best stuff life has to offer.  I was hoping for the same.

Trapping your teenage sons in a small car with you for 16 hours is key to getting a conversation started.  This strategy did not disappoint.  I talked and listened to these young men for hours.  They had such interesting things to say.  They’re funny.

I learned more about their plans for the future.  We talked politics, faith and even about relationships with the opposite sex.  Not for very long about that.  That was their least favorite thing to talk about.

We missed Olivia and Scott  a lot.  I’m not going to lie.  We also enjoyed a road trip with a lead driver who keeps a little looser hold of the reins.  That’s right.  I’ve got Scott totally beat in the let’s just go with the flow department.  After we had been driving for several hours, one of the boys told me he had to go to the bathroom.  I said, “The tank isn’t empty though.  We have to stop when it’s empty, so we can fill it up.”

One of my sons responded, “Why can’t you just stop now, and fill it up even though it isn’t all the way empty?”

I thought about that for a while.  I said, “Because Dad?”

That’s when we decided to defy tyranny.   For the rest of the trip, when someone had to go to the bathroom, we stopped immediately.  I filled the gas tank up when it was  half empty and three-quarters empty.  First trip ever that no one had to cry in agony from extreme bladder holding.   Scott will shudder to hear of this complete mismanagement.  I liked being in charge.

We had ourselves some fun.  The boys were looking forward to spending time with their cousins.  If I gave my kids the choice between Disneyland, a major league baseball game, or being with their cousins, cousins would win every time.  Our kids have always loved their cousins.  When they lost one, they started loving them even more.


One of the boys’ cousins just graduated from college.  He’s joining the ranks of responsible adults.  Poor kid.  My boys and their  two cousins enjoyed three full days of non stop boy fun.  It was the perfect send off for their older cousin.  Hearing these four boys giggling and teasing each other made their moms happy. Did you know boys can giggle?  It’s a good sound.  All the driving was worth it.


Garden of the Gods


I was feeling good about being with my sisters too.  These are women who are easy to enjoy.  Don’t get me wrong.  We fight.  One time in Colorado I said something one of my sisters didn’t like.  She said she was going to give me the silent treatment.  That was the longest 60 seconds of my life.  She said that she hoped I learned my lesson.  I definitely did.




We spent a lot of time outside, and we saw a lot of pretty things.  I tried to take as many pictures as I could.  Boys aren’t very cooperative with that.  After the first day, they told me they wanted to be done posing for family portraits.  Fine.  They’re not very good at it anyway.  I am.


photo 2


My big girl job is promoting Wisconsin.  It’s easy, because I love Wisconsin.  Colorado also has my heart.  Pretty scenery and the outdoors make me happy.  The low humidity, bugless air, and commonly blue skies are so cooperative.  There wasn’t much reason to stay inside.

One day, one of my sisters and I were reading under a tree while the cousins played frisbee golf.   My sister left to use the bathroom, and  a man about my age approached.  He was dressed very  Coloradoee (real word).  Coloradians don’t try too hard.  That’s another reason I love it there.

He noticed my Wisconsin License plates.  He said, “Are you from Wisconsin?”

I said, “Yes.”

He took a drag of his cigarette.  As he moved closer, I noticed that he must have been wearing marijuana flavored cologne.

He told me that he moved from Wisconsin to Colorado 16 years ago.  He said he plays all year round: white water rafting, fly fishing, frisbee golf, skiiing.

I said, “That sounds so awesome!”

He told me that he works a little here and there, doing odd jobs to fund all of his play.  Mostly he just plays.   I believed him.  He definitely looked like my teenage nephew from Colorado.  Only this guy was trapped inside a 40 something year old body.

He said he found Wisconsin to be distasteful.  He said, “I left, and never looked back.  When I have gone back I see my friends from high school, and it’s like, dude, you’ve never even done anything with your life.”

I said, “For sure.  They probably just got married, had kids and are working hard to raise them.  Seems like a total waste. Some people just don’t get it.”

He said, “For sure, Dude.”

Then he invited our whole family to get a free frisbee golf lessons from him.

I loved this time with some of my family.   It’s true.  I am one of those poor suckers from Wisconsin who never did anything with their life.  But, I am getting better at recognizing an opportunity for fun when I see it.  I’m learning not to hesitate. You can only grab an opportunity while it’s there.  I’m glad I’m learning that.


miki and boys


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.


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:


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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