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Friday, January 12, 2018

This is What a Random Blog Post Looks Like When I'm Procrastinating

I'm definitely writing this blog post (with no real topic in mind) when I should really be wrangling my 5 year old into the bathtub to get all squeaky clean for HIS FIRST ACTING PERFORMANCE TONIGHT!!! (<--- you'll ONLY see me use more than one ! when I'm legit super excited about something. It's one of my annoyances when people overuse ! .. like, can you really be THAT excited about stuff all.of.the.time!? One ! is good for almost all circumstances! See? Like that.)

So, yeah. Rex and his extra curricular activities.. He's done swimming lessons a few times (rocked it), started Little League Baseball last year (LOVED IT), started hockey this year (probably won't play on a team again) and also joined Top Hat Theatre in Crystal for their Robin Hood play! There weren't any auditions. Any 5-8 year old could automatically do it and so we took a shot in the dark and signed him up! We're just trying to find the best fit of seasonal activities for him and don't necessarily want to assume that he'll be into everything his brother is into (like hockey, for example). And there MUST be activities that my kids are involved in and that they like. Meaning, I won't let them just sit at home and do nothing. So back to Top Hat.. We didn't really talk to him about it or anything beforehand because honestly, if we let Rex call the shots he would 1. Never leave home and 2. Never change out of pajamas. And I really didn't know how to explain acting to him.. we've been to a couple of plays with him so that's all I really compared it to. I probably said something like, "You know when we went to see Shrek the Musical and there were those kids on stage? Well, YOU are going to be one of those kids but the play is going to be Robin Hood!" and he had no idea what Robin Hood was but he started rehearsals back in November and he's been LOVING IT ever since. Tonight is the first of two performances this weekend. I have a little bit of the "parent-of-the-actor" jitters. Since he's never done this before it's my fear that he'll FREEZE on stage when he sees the audience and that he'll also start screaming and covering his ears whenever the audience laughs or claps because, well, he's been known to do that whenever there are loud noises he doesn't like. So, fingers crossed he doesn't cause a scene! .. a scene that isn't supposed to be happening that is.

And in case you were wondering - We (my husband and I) are on day 12 of The Whole30 and we are ROCKING IT! I cheated and weighed myself (I'm not telling you how much I've lost but I WILL tell you and maybe even post pics at the end) but Andy has refused to step on the scale until after the 30 days. And you guys, I'm really proud of us because we're nearly halfway through and we haven't eaten anything we aren't supposed to! Aaaand, we're on day 27 of no alcohol! Also something I've quite proud of us for.

Well, I should really get this kid off of his video games and into the tub. I know he'll want to spend at least an hour in there.. Peace!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Connection.

“Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” 


Connection. It's been on my mind a lot lately and even more so since I just got done reading Daring Greatly. 

To me, the most important things in life are the relationships I have with people, the time that I get to spend with them and the way that we make each other feel - and whether or not we can connect. 

I have to feel like I belong in order to connect with you.. not just "fit in" but belong. I have to feel respected, cared about, and free from judgment. I have to feel comfortable. 

I’m learning to listen to myself and realize how people make me feel (don't let this get you all paranoid.. this is something everyone should be doing!) and I’m trying to find the courage to only surround myself with those that simply make me feel GOOD (is 'courage' the right word?). And at the same time, I'm trying to be as aware as possible of how I make others feel. Am I a good listener? Do I make them feel cared about? Do they feel GOOD after hanging out with me? Are they able to be themselves? Did I show enough interest in their life and how they've been feeling? Am I allowing them to connect?

It helps if I think of relationships with others as self care and as healthy vs. unhealthy.

Is it healthy to be around people or in situations that make you feel uncomfortable? That make you feel like you need to put on a mask? Or that you need to put up a wall? Or that make you feel invisible? Or make you feel like you're not cared about? Or make you feel anxious? I mean.. clearly I could go on and on but I think you catch my drift.

The answer is ‘NO'! It's not healthy!

DUH!

Do you still make time for these unhealthy relationships? Pause and think about this.. and if you don't have an unhealthy relationship to think about consider yourself blessed! What do you do about the unhealthy relationships in your life?

And then the flip side.. 

How much time do you make for the people who are healthy for you? You know, those relationships that make you feel GOOD? Those that you can connect with.. Do you prioritize those people? Do you reach out to them on a regular basis? If not, WHY? 

Think about the quote again: “Connection is why we’re here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” 

I feel that no matter how many people you can connect with there’s always room for more. You simply can’t have too many people in your life you can connect with, right? And you can even try to make more time for those people as well. 

& I sure hope to be the type of person that others can feel a genuine, healthy connection with. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

We jumped on the Whole30 crazy train..

Back in August, one of my best friends from elementary school (who now lives in WI) did the Whole30 for the first time. When she told me the details of the Whole30 I thought she was crazy!

Here's Whole30 in a nutshell:
-No dairy
-No grains
-No added sugar
-No alcohol
-No legumes (peanuts, peas, beans)
-No snacking
For 30 days.. it's meant as a "food reset" (example: if you didn't know you were an emotional eater, you'll realize it on the Whole30) as well as an elimination diet to see what your body can and can't handle during the reintroduction process after the 30 days are complete.

She completed the 30 days and felt AMAZING!

Then, in early December, she asked me if I wanted to do it with her for January. I said, "Sure! I'll give it a try!" and then when she asked what I felt would be the hardest part for me I said, "No alcohol and no sugar" (this was before we gave up drinking).

So, when Andy and I hit our breaking point with drinking back on December 17th he actually said to me during that life changing conversation, "And I've also been thinking about doing the Whole30 with you".. I'm pretty sure I responded with something like, "Who are you and what have you done with my husband? You're willingly giving up drinking AND you want to completely change your eating habits?!" We were so hungover while having this conversation that it was a little hard to think these things would actually pan out.. we felt AWFUL, so of course all we could think about was anything and everything that would make us feel BETTER.

December 30th rolls around and I start doing my Whole30 research. It was overwhelming.. and I was super stressed as it was so it made me start to panic a little bit. I put it all aside and decided to sleep on it. I still had one more day to plan and grocery shop..

So the next day I bit the bullet.. I meal planned for the next couple of days and went to the grocery store. It was so weird not grabbing for every typical item that I usually would.

Day 1 - it was hard not to snack OR lick my fingers after plating my children's meals. I literally scraped peanut butter and jelly off of my tongue with a towel.. My finger licking habit was my first realization of myself on the Whole30. Ha!

Day 2 - another grocery store run since Andy and I were clear headed and calm enough to conjure up some meal ideas. It was a lot easier not to snack this day and I was realizing how much food I needed to eat at each meal to sustain myself.

Day 3 - It really started to sink in how FULL you get off of real food. I felt great all day but fell asleep before 10pm on the couch.. I should have known this was a sign of what's to come.

Day 4 - TODAY! Andy woke up with an awful headache that won't go away and I've been jittery.. this is what we've been dreading - the sugar withdrawals. The Whole30 peeps call this "The Hangover Phase".

So here we are, knee deep in Whole30. I'd come up with more to say but it was a challenge to come up with these words as it was..

Oh & P.S.. It's day 19 of no alcohol.

Friday, December 29, 2017

BTW [by the way] + the good + the difficulties

Since we’re no longer drinking we want to make one thing very clear - we still want to hang out with our friends! Yes, even when there’s drinking! Invite us to your parties, invite us to go out, invite me to your ladies wine night! We can handle being around alcohol and we even think we’re still capable of being fun people without alcohol! Plus, you’ll always have a sober cab when you hang with us! Ha. 

I know that everyone who stops drinking has differences in what they’re comfortable with so we wanted to set the record straight with us. 

On another note, the last 12 days have been smoother than I thought they would be and I know it all has to do with us being committed to this together and staying supportive. 

When reflecting on the good that’s happened since we quit drinking what first comes to mind is how good it felt getting home at night on Christmas Eve sober and excitedly putting the presents under the tree and into the kids’ stockings after they fell asleep. Christmas Eve was always my night to drink because that’s when we get together with my side of the family. That’s typically been our “guideline”.. his family gathering, he drinks. My family gathering, I drink. Neither of us have to drive? We both got to drink! 

The hardest parts of all of this have been breaking the routine of drinking, finding other ways to de-stress/relax, and (I just have to come out and say it) missing everything about ice cold tequila shots. The taste, the feeling, everything. Tequila was my jam. I would much rather take a shot of tequila straight from the freezer than make a cocktail, crack a beer or open a bottle of wine. 

When it comes to stress, we both feel like we’re under a hell of a lot of it. Andy’s job pulls him in a million different directions and his job consists of constantly fixing broken dish machines in restaurants. He’s in and out of the elements all day, doing a shit load of driving on these awful Minnesota winter roads and laying on dirty restaurant kitchen floors. He does a really good job about leaving his stress at the door when he comes home but I’ve noticed that’s been more difficult for him now that he doesn’t have a beer to look forward to. 

And then there’s our kids.. 

God, we love them, but they are brothers with a shit load of energy, it’s winter break, we live in a small house and it has been nearly too cold to play outside. They’ve had far too much screen time this last week but hell.. if it keeps us all happy, it’s what I’m gonna allow to get us through these days. 

We haven’t quite found a new routine for de-stressing but I’ve been writing a lot and that helps. Maybe our new routine will be working out together after the kids go to bed at night. How cool would that be to trade alcohol for abs?! We have a lot of healthy options that can take the place for drinking so hopefully we’ll find a good fit soon and put it into action.


It really is a day at a time though and I am so glad Andy and I are in this together. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Alcohol.

When Andy and I started dating, I was 19 and he was 25. And he wasn’t a drinker. 

When I turned 21, it really wasn’t a big deal.

I remember drinking at home here and there but Andy wouldn’t have a single drink if he were working the next day. 

I got pregnant with Rex a couple months before I turned 22 and then I breastfed him until he was nearly 18 months old. So, by doing the math, I was 24 when I was free to drink again. 

When I was 25 my drinking really started to pick up speed. 

Within a matter of weeks, we had 3 people in my family die somewhat suddenly (one of which my grandpa, age 69), we were also getting married, and I started to realize that my career was wreaking havoc on my family. 

So at night, I drank. 

It helped me to relax. It helped me to escape. It helped keep me from so many mental breakdowns. 

I quit my job.. and while that helped ease the daily stress my kids and I were under, it added on the feelings of failure. I failed at this career that I was so excited about, that I had invested so much time and energy with. And when I put an end to it, it made me feel awful in a completely different way. 

The drinking became daily. The amount slowly kept increasing. What used to take 2 drinks to relax me, turned into 4, which eventually turned into 6. 

Andy drank right alongside me. 

And we really enjoyed it. 

We’d have friends and family over as much as possible to play games, enjoy a bonfire and drink. When we were at our family’s cabin it didn’t really matter what time of day it was with drinking because WE WERE AT THE CABIN! We really loved drinking and having a good time with people. And because we were having fun we didn’t view it as a problem. Even when I hit my head while dancing or hit my head from tripping or hit my head from missing my chair, I didn’t have a drinking problem. I was having fun! Even if I couldn’t remember most of the night. Even if I had to ask Andy how I got to bed the night before. It wasn’t a problem. 

Right. 

Now it’s two years later and within the last couple of months it has started to bother me how much we’ve been drinking. I suggested once that we “only drink on weekends” and we only made it to Tuesday. 

It was an awful feeling. 

I also vowed to myself within the last couple of months that I would remember everything that happened while drinking and I wouldn’t let myself get a hangover. 

This is when my eyes really opened. 

All it took was one night of drinking with Andy and our friends while I was taking it easy. I realized how much I hated being around Andy when he was drunk (don’t worry.. he knows this, we’ve talked about it and I got his permission to say these things).

Fast forward two weeks later and we were going out with friends. I was crossing my fingers that Andy wouldn’t get too drunk and we could really enjoy the time together. 

I ended up having to put him to bed at 10:15pm.

But, I met back up with friends.. and barely remember getting home at 2:00am. 

The next morning we vowed to each other to be done drinking. 

While I had slowly began realizing how big of a problem we had with alcohol, it hit Andy like a brick wall. 

Today, we’re on day 11 of no alcohol. 

I had previous plans to take my grandma to a distillery for her birthday (on day 5 of no drinking) and I got through the tour while passing on every free sample they offered. 

We made it through the holiday celebrations and everyone drinking around us. 

We’ve (somehow) been living with beer in our fridge and tequila in our freezer. 

I’m already 5lbs lighter. 


I’d say we’re doing pretty well.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

When I Said, "We Are Never Doing This Again" While On "Vacation"

We have never been on a family vacation.

We have never flown anywhere or driven a great distance to stay overnight in a hotel and sightsee in a new place for days on end with our kids.

We did it once together for our honeymoon and absolutely loved it! I would travel every other week once a month if I could.. and I might even want to take my kids if I'm still promised peace and relaxation!

My maternal grandparents have a cabin in the middle of the woods up north in Minnesota on a little secluded lake. We're there as much as possible. So, this really takes the place of an actual vacation for us.

Within the last year our oldest, Levi (8.5), has really picked up on how often all of his classmates are gone on vacation.. ACTUAL vacations.. flights, hotels, sandy beaches, sunburn.. the whole kit and caboodle! It's given me a bit of guilt for not giving our kids an experience like that yet.

When I think of going on a real vacation a few things cross my mind..

  • Would it even be fun?
  • How many times would I get mad and yell?
  • Would the kids even appreciate it?
  • Would I like them all when we got home?
So when spring break rolled around last week and we realized we had both time and money to spare we booked a last minute night away in Duluth. Baby steps! 

We had a lot planned and I was confident in how I had timed everything out to work just right. We got out the door without too much stress and we were FIVE MINUTES AHEAD OF SCHEDULE! This was a good sign! 45 minutes into our 2.5 hour drive though Rex's video monitor stopped working.. [deep breaths.. we can do this] luckily we had their tablets and plenty of snacks so we got through it just fine. And in case this might be crossing your mind as you're reading I'll just come out and say it: no, kids these days don't just look out of a window at their surroundings and feel content during a long car ride. 

We drove up on Duluth and when Levi first saw the views of the lake he said "This is the best place ever!" Our first stop was Enger Tower. We had never been before and it had such amazing views of Lake Superior that it will always be our first stop into the city. Then, we hadn't even gotten into our second stop in Duluth (the Train Museum) when Rex started saying he wanted to go home.. this kid would ALWAYS be home if given the choice. He would never go anywhere and he would never put clothes on. I was still really patient at this point so I was able to calmly explain the layout of the rest of our trip.. and that we would be home right before bed TOMORROW. 

After the train museum we had lunch at Burrito Union (SO GOOD!) and then landed at our hotel. We had a nice view of Lake Superior and it had a fun mid-sized indoor water park there. Rex and I hung out in the little kid area of the water park all night and I lost count of how many times he went down their little water slides. There's this HUGE bucket of water that fills up and spills out over the little kid area (not the best idea in my opinion) and before long Rex had it timed out that he could go down the water slide 4 times before the bucket spilling. So after that 4th time down he'd run to the edge so he wouldn't get splashed. Levi and Andy spent their time on the BIG water slides. After 3 hours there the first day we called it a night and got pizza to bring back to our room. 

The 4 of us sleeping all right next to each other in a room we aren't used to was pretty hellish. I initially thought that the boys would take one queen bed and we would take the other but that quickly changed when Rex wanted to snuggle and watch TV with me. Rex and I then took one bed and Andy and Levi in the other. Rex fell asleep with the TV on, I was dozing off and I knew Levi wouldn't be able to fall asleep with the TV on so I had to give the guys a lights out warning. Once the TV was off we realized how loud the heater in our room was.. I seriously thought it was a motorcycle going by at first. I was so tired I asked Andy to get up and check on it. I heard him pressing buttons and then eventually he gave it a little punch and it quieted down some. The good 'ol punch trick! Andy crawled back into bed and before I knew it Levi was getting after him because his "cell phone light was keeping him up".. before I knew it I had 3 snoring boys and a loud (but now somewhat quieter) heater that was kicking on every 10 minutes. Somehow I managed to fall asleep but man did the morning come quick! 

After breakfast we went back to the water park and it was my turn to experience the water slide. For some reason Andy insisted that he and Rex watch me come out at the end.. it was when I entered the water slide I knew why.. IT WAS PITCH BLACK INSIDE! But so, so fun because you went down on either a one person tube or a two person tube. I much prefer going down a water slide in a tube vs just my body. I'm always paranoid I'm going to shoot out of the end and my bathing suit will fly off. Levi and I did the tube a few times together afterwards and man that kid is nuts! I had to use my feet to hold him down because I swear I thought he was going to cause himself to fly out of the tube. He was bouncing up and down throwing up peace signs.. he ALWAYS had the peace signs thrown up when he came out of the slide. That's my boy!

We packed up and were out of the hotel by 11:30 and started making our way farther north to hit the main tourist spots: Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls and Palisade Head. I thought this would be our easiest, funnest day since we were 1. prepared with lunch in the car 2. the weather was perfect 3. the kids would be getting a lot of exercise and 4. WE WERE ON "VACATION!" 

At Split Rock Lighthouse the boys were running around like they hadn't gotten any exercise in days.. at one point Levi literally did a running push off jump off of the freaking lighthouse. WTF! That's when I started to lose it.. they couldn't be trusted around monumental objects so off to the trails of the falls we went. 

Levi had to go to the bathroom really bad as soon as we got to the falls. Luckily there's a nice restroom and gift shop area. I didn't really think about how nervous I could be with my kids around the falls.. it hit me once we got down to it. My kids can both be absolutely crazy nuts but at least Rex is fearful. Levi is not. I literally had to hold onto Levi's sweatshirt a couple of times because I couldn't trust him to stay back far enough. So then there are the trails around the falls and most of it is right next to a steep drop off with only a little wooden fence "protecting" you. I lost track of how many times we had to tell Levi to slow down and be careful and a couple of times Rex pitched a fit because I was holding his hand too tight.. 

We get towards the bottom of the falls and this is where I saw us spending the most time. The water is calmer and there are a lot of rocks the kids could throw in. But then Levi had to go to the bathroom AGAIN.. It hadn't even been an hour yet! We were at least half a mile away from the restroom and gift shop but there were so many people around that I didn't have the guts to try and hide him and let him pee outside. So he and Andy went running for the bathroom while Rex and I made our slow trek back.. and man was it slow! He picked up every decent sized stick he came across, stopped to examine it and then had to search out the perfect place to throw it into the woods. At one point he even stopped without warning and just laid down on the sidewalk.. while I'm waiting for him to start walking again I'm realize how far we've already walked and how much more we have to go and I'm thinking to myself that there's no way Levi made it to the bathroom on time. He either peed his pants or Andy caved and let him pee in the woods. We finally make it to the gift shop and Levi did in fact make it on time [huge sigh of relief]. It was here that I learned we should never let our kids wander around in a gift shop if we don't intend to buy them something.. I eventually just had to walk away and cross my fingers there wouldn't be sounds of a tantrum behind me. 

I got to the car and said "We are never going on vacation again" .. mama had hit the end of her rope. But little did I know, the best part of our trip was coming up! I just wanted to get there, get it over with and start heading home. 

We had never gone to Palisade Head before. I really didn't know what to expect. When you pull up there's a little parking lot at the bottom of a narrow road leading up a hill. No one was around so we pull into a parking spot and think "this is it?" .. we couldn't tell if we could drive up that road or if it was meant to be more of a paved walking trail. We hadn't been parked for more than a minute though and a car came behind us and drove up the road.. that answered our question! This road is so narrow that the whole time you're going up you're hoping no one is coming down. When you get to the top there's a bigger parking lot and there were a handful of cars parked but we never came across anyone while we were hiking there. You feel like you're on top of the huge hill at the parking lot but there's actually a whole lot further to climb if you really want to be at the top.. and we did! There's no clear path up so you need to find your own way though you can definitely tell where a lot of people have gone before so we tried to follow the beaten down grass/brush as best as we could. It was nerve-wracking at first hiking up because you're near the edge but once you make your way up the hill there's less of a fear of falling to your death and more of a fear of making sure you can find your way back. We really, really enjoyed working together to get to the top and the views were absolutely amazing! And then we found our way back to the car just fine. 

We got back on the road and made our way home but we had just one more stop - Jay Cooke State Park. It was our first time there and when you get off of 35 and you're heading towards the state park you're literally driving through neighborhoods and then all of a sudden the road turns into the state park.. it's just weird! I had no clue what to expect and for sure was not expecting the most amazing view of a river I think I've ever seen in person. You can see for miles up and down the river and over the woods surrounding it. I still can't believe this place was just tucked behind a neighborhood. It felt like we were stumbling upon a secret. You really have to visit if you haven't been! 

We got home right before bed and right on schedule. Everything really did go as planned and we were able to hit all of our destinations without feeling rushed. And now that I'm a week out from our little "vacation" I can say that of course I want to go on vacation with my family again! The memories we made and the things we were able to see and do made much more of an impact than a few stressful moments. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Public Apology About Our "Cardboard and Other Refuse"

I've posted on my personal Facebook page recently about my husband and sons' obsession with wood. Well, we've also had another issue on our hands for years now and that is the accumulation of boxes my husband has for work.

His work requires him to fix dish machines in area restaurants, schools, nursing homes, etc. He does not have an office or specific "place of work". He works out of his company van that he always has at home when he's not working. When things break, he needs parts. With 70+ accounts and many different things that he services we get A LOT of shipments of parts and things to our home.

We have a small house. We have a small garage. SOMETIMES I get to park in our small garage when there isn't wood or boxes in my way. A few weeks ago we spent an entire day cleaning out our garage because I was sick of the miscellaneous shit and wanted to park in there. Not long after it was cleaned out Andy must have gotten a shipment of parts for work because before I knew it there were boxes piled up behind our [willberunningsomeday] truck. Not in the garage but outside behind our truck.. the truck that has a flat tire, won't start and is parked in grass..

He was just trying to keep his wife [me] happy by not taking up precious van space in the garage! So, so sweet of him!

Well, not only do I not like a cluttered garage that I can't park in but I also don't like our mess on display. I much prefer our mess to be behind closed doors and it seems as though a neighbor and/or city worker prefers our mess behind closed doors too! We got a violation notice in the mail today!

"Cardboard and other refuse behind truck and boat"

"IF THE VIOLATIONS ARE NOT CORRECTED BY THE COMPLIANCE DATE, THEN WEEKLY CITATIONS INCLUDING FINES OF NOT LESS THAN $75 NOR MORE THAN $500 MAY BE ISSUED."

Well then.

After volunteering at Kindergarten Open House night tonight for our school district and discovering my battery dead in my van (I was only stranded for 20 minutes - shout out to my grandparents for rescuing me), I came home and shoved all of what I think they have included in the violation into our small garage.

So to whomever our "cardboard and other refuse" was bothering, I'm terribly sorry. We are now taking donations for our "love it or list it" fund.. which would either help us gain more space to store our shit at this current location so you don't have to look at it or send us on our merry way to a new location.. one with plenty of space for boxes and parked vans.