- I created an Instagram account that I can use to stay in touch with Clara.
- I have been sleeping a lot better which greatly improves my mood.
- I helped Paul shave his head. What better time to try out a new look?
- I was able to de-clutter some of my house which always feels good.
- All of my family members are healthy and safe.
- I am finally off of the antibiotics.
- This whole virus thing coupled with a resurge of winter is forcing me to change. I can no longer hold onto structure, work, exercise, and routine addiction. It is painful to go without it but sometimes growth hurts. I am so bored that maybe I will try a new way of doing things that I wouldn’t have otherwise done if not forced.
- Maybe it’s time to slow down and let go. Maybe life is more than tasks, goals, bucket lists, and achievements.
- Now is the time to redefine purpose and meaning.
- I feel motivated to write with even more truth. Maybe now would be a good time to start working on the second edition of my book.
- And still more compliments about my hair from strangers.
- February is over! It was a really tough month and my husband was gone half the month.
- Spring is in the air. The sun is shining. The temps are above freezing. A fly just buzzed by me. I’m excited for what is to come.
- My daughter will be spending her college spring break here. I miss her so much.
- We will be taking our family road trip to Florida this month.
- I finished the book Complex PTSD and learned a lot about myself. I started a new book called Childhood Disrupted. I am now healing with mindfulness.
- My husband started reading Complex PTSD. He is working hard to be supportive.
- I am in a pretty good mood today.
- This morning my husband and I watched 7 deer walk through our yard.
- I feel like there are brief periods of time I have a reprieve from my stress.
- People are still complimenting my hair. I receive the most compliments after a sweaty workout or when I have unbrushed hat hair. What!!?!
- My son had a dentist appointment this week. As an adult, I passed along the reminder I received on my phone. I DID NOT tell him when to get up or where he needed to go (thinking he would know and I would be the annoying mother hen if I did so). He ended up getting lost and was going to be late. I called the dentist office as a courtesy…my son got lost and will be a few minutes late. The lady who answered was really snippy with me and said he needed to reschedule. This freaked me out because I worry a lot about my kids being late. Thankfully, when he got there about 10 minutes late they still took him for his appointment. Despite all of my worry, everything ended up turning out fine.
- My daughter Angel came home from college for a visit and spent the night on Friday. I haven’t seen her since Christmas Day.
- The big fight between Arabella and Estelle is over. There is relative harmony in my house right now. There was even a brief moment this weekend where all five of my kids were talking and laughing together.
- I am grateful to have a husband who is following his dreams. He is taking classes this weekend and starting a new career. I am really excited for him and proud of all his accomplishments. He really motivates those around him. It’s never too late to try something new.
- I was grateful to watch Arabella and Clara perform at solo and ensemble this past weekend. I love to watch my kids perform.
- I felt grateful to go on a date with my husband before he left. I was able to order a pizza with goat’s cheese and afterwards ordered dairy-free ice cream. The food was unbelievably good for being vegan/dairy-free. The ice cream was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Plus it was nice to go on a date alone with my husband. It’s been awhile.
- I found a dress for my daughter’s college graduation. In a few months, my oldest will be a college graduate. I am excited for her future. She already has a job lined up and might be moving back to the area within the next year.
- I am thankful to live close to the store. As I was making supper Friday night, I noticed one of the ingredients was rotten. I opened an unexpired canned good that was moldy inside. Thankfully I was able to zip to the store and back without having to eat too late.
- I am thankful for my organization skills. I like to plan ahead and leave early. Although my mom and kids gave me some crap about it this weekend, things don’t always go as planned. I like to plan for that. You never know if you are going to get into an accident, hit a deer, or a random meteorite might hit the Earth (JK). The solo and ensemble event was at a school I was not familiar with. It took awhile to find a parking spot. There weren’t many signs directing us to the right sites. Then last minute, both of my daughter’s events were moved up to an earlier time. I got us there with less than 10 minutes to spare. You’re welcome! It takes a lot of organization to effectively manage a large family.
All I can say is proceed with caution. We’ve had some good experiences and some bad. The first trip we took with friends didn’t go that well. We knew what they were like ahead of time so we should have known. They have been known to drink too much and get into arguments. Sure enough, it happened on vacation and we weren’t sure if we would still be friends when we got back home.
Last year we went on vacation with another group of friends. It went well because our friend Cara insisted on planning everything a year in advance. You can pretty much trust someone who is a project manager to plan a good trip. All I had to do was show up.
Fast forward to 2020. This year we are planning a spring break vacation with Cindy and her family. We started talking about it last spring. I wanted a commitment by late summer, but didn’t get one until Thanksgiving. By the time I looked at a trip to Disney for 10 people all the deals were gone and nothing was left in our price range. So I started looking at places to stay outside of Disney.
My friend Cindy wanted me to do all the planning. I have the time, plus I am very detailed, organized, structured, experienced traveler who tirelessly thinks about and searches every option. I had no problem with that. I researched flying vs driving. They were pretty convinced they wanted to drive. Again, I looked at all the options. I even called a place that rented out a 12 passenger van. I researched the driving route. Everything. Then I presented it to them and they said they didn’t like the van idea because it had bench seats which weren’t comfortable. Okay.
Then they wanted to fly again. So I searched all the airlines again. Now the prices were sky high, pun intended. They baited you with an affordable flight but once you wanted to return home you had to add on another $250 if you wanted a good flight. What I mean by good flight is not leaving late at night and getting to our destination the next morning, leaving very early morning, or having 2 layovers.
From our home airport the going rate to fly to Orlando was almost $1,000 per person. I flew to Thailand for less than that price. Insane! We couldn’t fly anywhere out of the state of Wisconsin for much less than that. Yes, I checked. Everyday I checked. We could fly out of Chicago for $750 per person which is still pretty expensive. But we were leaning towards doing that.
We are now less than two months from our trip. I asked Cindy to give me a call and we could sit down at our computers to book a flight together. I just sat down to eat supper with the whole family, nothing short of a miracle, when my phone rang. I didn’t answer the phone because I have the boundary that no one is going to disturb supper with my family. It was Cindy.
By the time I was done eating, Cindy had already booked their flight by phone. Yes, by phone! She told me she was able to find a flight for half the cost and wanted us to do the same. I was like, no way! My husband looked up the company they purchased tickets from. The company had several complaints filed against them with the BBB. Some consumers were calling this company a scam. Sure, they got a cheap flight but they are also taking a big risk. They received their ticket confirmation from a gmail account. Geez!
I was very upset. They couldn’t wait until I was done eating to talk about it? They totally circumvented me in the process after all the work I did. But then I realized something. Our friends are very spontaneous, disorganized, and impulsive whereas I probably ruminate the details more than a serial killer. Honestly, I was so upset and hurt that I didn’t even want to go on vacation with them anymore. We’ve had such a rough start before the trip even started. It all could’ve been prevented if they were more organized. But I already knew this about them.
It took a couple of days to feel better. Last night our family made the decision to drive down to Florida. We want an adventure. We want to do our own thing. We will head out after school on Friday and spend the night in Chicago. From Chicago we will drive to Chattanooga, TN. Then we will spend almost a week in Orlando with a couple days at Disney, a day in Universal, and some down time at the beach. Then we will spend a couple of days in New Orleans before heading back to WI.
Today I spent the morning planning out the rest of the trip and I almost felt happy. I love planning trips. I’m glad we are taking two separate vehicles now. We have the option to do different things. We can be structured and they can be spontaneous and hopefully our worlds don’t collide.
We decided to take our foreign exchange students for their first trip out of the frozen tundra. My husband had a conference in Chicago. We thought we would kill two birds with one stone. Now that I think about it, boy is that a strange expression.
Unfortunately, I had to break the bad news that although we were heading south it wouldn’t be any warmer. We took off after school on Friday. We were planning to stop halfway for supper, but decided to keep going after I saw the big blob of heavy precipitation on the radar. The temps were hovering around the freezing point.
The sooner we could get there the better. This caused some hangry arguments from our daughter. Tears were shed. In fact, all three girls cried before we even got to Chicago for various reasons. That’s life with teenage girls.
We got to Chicago in a torrential downpour during rush hour. Meanwhile, I frantically tried to scrounge up some green for the tolls. They don’t just nickel and dime you anymore. We checked into the hotel Fieldhouse Jones then found a place to eat. Our daughter said her culinary arts teacher raved over a restaurant which we were glad was close to the hotel. We ate an average meal there and left to see a sign that they didn’t pass their health inspection to find out later the restaurant was nothing special, just a chain. Thanks a lot!
That night the hotel didn’t have any open parking spots, so Paul had to drive around several blocks to find an open spot in the rain after dropping us off. I felt like we were visiting Gotham city.
I let the girls pick what they wanted to do in Chicago. The girls were interested in seeing Mean Girls, but the cheapest tickets started at $150. We all thought it was too pricey so we didn’t go. I suggested the aquarium to deaf ears. Estelle wanted to search for something called the bean. Then they wanted to shop until they dropped. Me personally, I would’ve preferred to drop shopping.
We set out late the next morning. Our first stop was the Hard Rock Café for an early lunch. While I was there, I started feeling very light headed. My body started to freak out like it tends to do when I break out of my normal routine. I thought maybe I was dehydrated and started to guzzle down globs of gross chlorinated city water. But after that I felt better.
Then we set off in the rain to find the elusive bean. We circled around the city blocks only to circle around again for another time. Skyscrapers sometimes mess with maps on country folks phones. I created my own detour when we got to a sketchy area I didn’t want to walk down. It seemed unsafe. I didn’t want my nightmare of the girls getting murdered to come true. I felt nervous worrying about their safety because I didn’t even know where I was. With all of the trafficking and crime, you can never be too safe with young girls unfamiliar with our culture. It was a big responsibility.
We finally made it to the bean which was like a huge mirror in the shape of a bean. (See pictures below). We walked and walked some more and shopped. It was a cold, windy, snowy, rainy type of day. By late afternoon we put on 6 miles. It was getting dark and the prospect of walking back to our hotel in the dark was not very positive. The girls wanted to take an Uber back. Again thoughts of murder crossed my mind. An Uber or walking back on the dark rainy streets?
We took an Uber back. Our driver was great. He was a philosophizing theologian. We had an extremely deep conversation about life which was right up my alley. Later that evening Paul, the girls, and I went out for Chicago deep dish pizza. Since I am dairy free, I ordered mine with vegan cheese. It wasn’t the greatest. Vegan cheese looks and tastes like glue when it melts. My husband still makes the best pizza. Sorry Chicago. Everyone else was happy.
Then the next morning we headed out, but not before Paul and I played a close game of air hockey at the hotel. I was very impressed with the hotel. The décor was very unique. Plus we were able to get an affordable two bedroom room. One on the rooms had two sets of bunk beds. The other room had a double bed with an outside wall a couple feet from the El. I thought I would be up all night with the noise, but it wasn’t bad. That says a lot from an insomniac who can’t sleep well in her sleep number bed set to her comfort in her perfectly dark, quiet, and cool bedroom at home.
We thought we were going to have to drive home through a snow storm, but thankfully it never showed up. It’s hard to believe that our time with our foreign exchange students is half over. In a few months I will go from having four teenagers in my house to zero. Our son will be turning 20 the same month Clara and Estelle leave. Then our daughter Arabella is applying to be a foreign exchange student in France living at Estelle’s house. I’m trying to enjoy every moment I can because in the blink of an eye it will be over.
I’ll close with a couple pictures…
- We spent the weekend in Chicago and didn’t get murdered. The girls and I went to Chicago with Paul. He attended a conference and we went shopping. I had a nightmare before we left that the girls got murdered. I was a little nervous being the “chaperone” of my daughter and our two foreign exchange students. I was afraid because they do not understand our culture and might not know what is safe. All the people that we met were wonderful. We walked 6 miles then took an Uber back to the hotel and didn’t get murdered. I don’t know what I was so worried about. Ah, I am too much country mouse.
- We were supposed to get a major snowstorm on the way back from Chicago. Instead we only got a dusting of snow which made the drive a lot better than we were expecting. Gotta love when the weather forecasters are wrong!
- I met with my therapist who read my book over Christmas break. She said it was a Christmas present to herself (which is good I told her, since I didn’t get her anything). She thought it was so wonderful she wanted to read it again. She thought I should go deeper with my writing. I am grateful that so far two out of three readers were very happy with my book. I am meeting with my third test reader tomorrow.
- I decided to get an even shorter haircut this week. I also am growing out my blonde hair color and letting it go grey. I think it doesn’t look the greatest. However, I got complimented by two strangers on my hair this weekend after wearing a hat on it most of the day. Bizarre. Two people raved over my unbrushed hat hair. Then another stranger complimented me on my new glasses.
- I am grateful my son was in a really good mood all week. Although now that I think about it, maybe it was because we were all leaving for the weekend and he had the house to himself. I also found a really cool shirt for him that he loves.
- I am grateful to find a beer that I am not allergic to. Also, I am grateful for goat and vegan cheese so I can enjoy macaroni and cheese and pizza. Although we had good Chicago style pizza, I am grateful that my husband makes the best pizza around that I can eat.
- Although I love to travel, I am grateful to be sleeping in my own bed tonight with fresh clean sheets.
- I am grateful we stayed at a really unique hotel called Fieldhouse Jones in Chicago. The decor was amazing, all antique sports stuff. Our bedroom wall was about 10 feet from the L which was cool. Paul and I played a game of air hockey in the hotel basement this morning. Although he beat me by one point, it’s been a long time since we had fun together.
- Although there were periods of rain and snow, I am thankful it wasn’t too cold to walk around Chicago.
- I am grateful that I don’t have a lot of plans for the rest of the month and can finally have some down time.
I’ve decided to do something new this year. Once a week I am going write 10 things I am grateful for. Life has been pretty stressful around here lately and frankly I don’t think it is going to get better for awhile, so…..in an effort to be more positive…I want to also write about the things I am thankful for. Some really awesome things are happening too.
1. I am thankful to start off the new year with a pajama day. I only do this twice a year (unless I’m really sick), but maybe I need to do it more. It forced me to slow down and relax. Plus I wore the new pajamas and socks my mom got me for Christmas.
2. I am thankful that I am done hosting Christmas parties.
3. I am thankful half the people I expected turned up for the foreign exchange student Christmas party on Saturday. I honestly didn’t know where I was going to fit 30+ people in my house (that I didn’t know) in the winter. I wasn’t happy most of the people that didn’t attend went to a funeral instead. Maybe I shouldn’t be grateful for that. Hey, I’m new at this whole gratitude thing…so…bear with me.
4. I’m grateful to take down the tree and all of the Christmas decor. It feels like a crisp clean start to the new year now.
5. I’m grateful that I had my best workout this morning in months. I ran 6 miles at a pretty fast clip. Maybe it was just the anxiety, but I felt energetic and motivated.
6. Although the parking lot and machines at the gym were full, I was grateful to find a treadmill open in front of the TV so I could watch Family Feud. It’s a distraction from the pain and boredom of running inside.
7. I’m grateful to run into my aunt and uncle at the gym. I wasn’t too excited that my uncle’s ex-wife was also there at the same time. But hey, it makes things more exciting on a Monday morning. I’m grateful friends and enemies alike are opting for a new year of improved health. LOL
8. I’m grateful to meet yesterday with the first person who test read my book. My friend Sue is a child psychologist who specializes in autism. We had a long conversation about autism then versus now as far as diagnosis and theories go. She also explained autism in the education system. When my brother was growing up, the teachers were taught aversion therapy and punishment. Now they offer a reward based program to autistic children. I am grateful that there are so many wonderful resources out there for families now so they don’t have to go through what we went through. Sue also loved my book!
9. One of the host moms commented at the party that our house is like a resort. It’s nice to have people appreciate something we worked hard to earn. I am grateful to live in a beautiful house debt free.
10. I am grateful, although I struggle with depression, to be able to pull myself up and keep fighting the good fight.
I did it! I finished my first 50k.
The ultra marathon started at 6 AM. I got up at what would’ve been 3 AM my time at home after a restless night’s sleep.
It was still dark when the race started. I borrowed my cousin’s headlamp. I thought that I could just use my cell phone, but was told that a headlamp would work better. I never ran with a headlamp before. It was disconcerting and took some getting used to. I felt like I was running with a strobe light.
I felt tired and had stomach issues for three quarters of the race despite my best efforts to get enough rest and not eat anything that could possibly disagree with me. My body likes routine and kept cuing me that something was off. I did a lot of walking dragged along by my cousin who was always in front of me. He kept encouraging me along and everyone else along the path.
As the day grew long and the end neared, we greeted everyone and were greeted with a great job, keep going, looking good. It was a difficult course despite near perfect weather conditions. I saw runners vomit, covered in dirt, lay on the ground, and fall in front of me. Some were running the 100 mile race that started the afternoon before. Some looked strong and others looked like they were barely holding on.
Every muscle in my body screamed at me to stop after I ran the length of a marathon. My feet ran along in a slow shuffle. In my mind my movements were exaggerated. I thought I was picking up my feet high enough to get over several roots on the trail. Twice I tripped and caught myself from falling. My body jolted in a pain so fiercely never experienced before.
There was no way I could keep up to my cousin after that, but he wouldn’t finish without me. He told me how strong I was and to keep going. The closer I got to the end the more my mind told me just the opposite. I sucked at running and was despicably weak.
Meanwhile, Paul and my cousin’s wife followed us around routing for us. They stopped in the middle of the woods for a picnic lunch which prompted a runner to ask them if they were real.
C’mon now, we only have a 10k left…now a 5k. After another mile, we just had 3 miles to go. Wait you told me that a mile ago. Are you lying?
The last two miles were the hardest. It took everything I had to just keep walking. I never ran that far before. I didn’t trust myself to run. I felt like I was going to pass out. But I was determined to finish even if I had to crawl. My cousin said he would carry me across the finish line if he had to, but I said I would never allow for that.
My cousin is a very kind and caring person. He stopped to offer help to everyone he saw struggling on the path.
Finally we were about a mile away. I saw some fortune cookies left on an almost empty snack table. In only one package, there were two fortunes. I convinced my cousin that those were for us.
Ability will enable a man to get to the top, but character will keep him from falling.
Seems fitting, I guess. I am quite the character.
Finally, the end was in sight. I ran with all the strength I could muster across the finish line.
I feel happy with life right now. It’s been a long time since I felt this way. Things are finally coming together. I think I actually slept two full nights this week following a week of insomnia and nightmares.
What makes me happy is that everything is coming together for my family.
My daughter Angel just started her last year of college. She is dating a guy that I would be happy to call my son-in-law. I think they might get engaged soon. Her future looks pretty exciting right now.
My son Alex just started tech school. He is joining a band that I approve of. It’s all I can ask for right now.
Things are going better than expected with the foreign exchange students. I have been busy getting them registered for school and trying to do all of the fun stuff around here before summer ends. Weather wise, it pretty much has ended. It’s been a cool and rainy summer.
Arabella is doing good with her diet and one of our foreign exchange students offered to host her as a foreign exchange student next year. Things are coming together.
Paul is starting a new business, not a start up company this time but a franchise. We are getting along better now than we have before.
I am excited and nervous to be traveling to Michigan next week for my first 50k. Paul and I are taking the car ferry across Lake Michigan for the first time. I love planning trips, even if they aren’t very far. Off to another adventure which I’ll be sure to tell you about.
I don’t know what the future brings. But as for right now life is good. I’m going to hold on to that as long as I can.
Last night our foreign exchange students arrived, Clara from Germany and Estelle from France.
I felt anxious all day. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.
I worried. Would our new “children” like us? What will this next year be like?
My oldest two children are not as excited about it as I am. I think they think I’m replacing them. But maybe in a way I am. They are adults and don’t need me being a mother hen to them anymore. They are off living their own lives like they should be.
I am excited about this new adventure, but as with anything new a little frightened too.
I wonder what it would be like to see everything for the first time through their eyes. Maybe even for us, the old will become new again.
I hope it is a wonderful experience for all of us.