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Monthly Archives: March 2012


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Due to Tom’s Psoriatic Arthritis, aka psoriatic bullsh!zz, we’ve completely changed our way of eating. No, this is NOT going to be a preachy granola blah-blah-blah fest of judgmental mumbo jumbo that no one wants to hear, but just a few little moments of many that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing since the change. Actually, not all of them are pleasurable, but I have to admit doing the “clean” eating (mine is more clean with a couple of junk piles lying around while Tom’s is spotless)  has been MUCH easier than I thought it would be; for me and Tom of course. Kids? On a scale of 1-10 Carissa’s at a 7 whereas Roman is at a 3.5.  And it’s not like the meals are crazy weird for them. They’re kids and I can’t expect them to be cool with eating raw spinach and whole grains so I might make them a little quesadilla with “real” cheese because there is no way on God’s green earth that I can avoid cheese in this house. They’re 4 and 6 for goodness sake and no child should be deprived! So with the self-proclaimed gourmet quesadilla I serve something like avocado and beans on the side. Roman’s response. “Beans again??” I need to get a little more creative in my bean cooking I guess. Beans, beans and more dang beans! Holy frijoles I don’t think I’ve eaten this many beans in the past 10 years than I have these last 6 weeks! Who knew there were so many different types of those tiny musical fruits? And yes, the tribute song to them is spot on.

     The recipes have been interesting to say the least. To be quite honest I have felt less pressure in making everyone happy at mealtime because chances are someone is going to complain. So I go through the same ol’ routine of, “This will give you big muscles and make you SUPER smart!” Then I move on to, “You haven’t even tried it yet so how do you know you don’t like it?” And then, “Do you know how many kids in this world who would LOVE to have a nice warm meal right this minute? MILLIONS!” And end with, “JUST PLUG YOUR NOSE AND EAT IT ALREADY!” This is us about 3 nights out of the week with the other 4 being slightly less dramatic. And heaven forbid we’re having the same thing as the night before since everyone had such small portions leaving us with a good deal of leftovers. Lucky them because now we get it two nights in a row!!  My trick is to add in a corn tortilla in a different form and put the food in or on top of it calling it something else. “We’re having tostadas tonight!” “Didn’t we have those last night?”  “No, those were tacos. Don’t you see the difference? Now bon appetit!”



WHILE THIS DID NOT! (click link below for video)

Dinner failure

     Now the mornings are my favorite part of the day when I get to throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and drink my breakfast. Most of the time they’re fantastic, although sometimes Tom or I will get a little carried away and add too much of something that should never be consumed in a runny form, EVER! Like broccoli. If you want to know what a fart tastes like, blend broccoli. What? You’re not even curious? Lame. Well those are the moments when I practice what I preach, plug my nose and chug it down always fearing I might puke towards the end when I unplug my nose and get a taste. However, it doesn’t matter that it was truly awful, the fact that we’ve now made that mistake about a half dozen times shows either 1. We BOTH have issues with our memories meaning Ginko Biloba should be our next addition to our daily intake.  2. We like to taste fart. or 3. We are simply hoping for a better outcome each time. All I know is it’s not number 2. Wait, that’s funny to me. Why do I find that funny? I’m sorry that my humor is clearly of an adolescent boy.

So with the challenges also comes the cool part of learning. Learning that almonds and coconuts come in about a zillion things I would have never expected. Almond cheese for one. I have yet to try it, but it’s either going to be average or a little less than since no one can replicate cheese.  I can’t expect anything more than average tasting if it’s not the truly delicious, cow’s milk, sharp cheddar, greasy cheese I know and love. Yes, that is one thing I still haven’t given up. My answer to Tom if he ever asks? “Nana-nana boo-boo!” Not really, but my support continues as long as cheese is still occasionally on my plate.

A little sidenote:

But I do ask that if you see we’re starting to sport dreadlocks, smell of patchouli, walk barefoot to school pick-up or buy a VW van from 1968, hold an intervention and feed us a steak please. Thanks!


Kid, you need to get a J-O-B!

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Once a week and often times more, I receive a paper in Carissa’s folder regarding another fair, fundraiser, book order, school t-shirt or hoodie, another item for class, etc….it’s never ending. Last year there was a sign-up sheet to bring items for different projects and since I was new to this whole school thing I signed up for every one that came out. “Sure, put me down for a bag of beans AND a bag of marshmallows.” “ME! I’ll make fuzzies for the kids!!” (Talk about a kiss ass, right?) Of course I didn’t realize it would be an ongoing project for me every week for the entire school year AND the materials would be out of pocket because I felt bad taking it out of their already small classroom budget.

Around the January mark I started to sign-up for every OTHER one and by the end of the year I just reasoned with myself saying, “Heck no! I make the fuzzies. Let someone else bring the plates and napkins!” Yes, I got bitter for no one to blame other than myself. No wonder the parents from the class that also had older kids didn’t sign up for jack; it’s because they’ve been there done that already and learned their lesson.

That’s where I’m at this year. Every time you turn around there’s another $5 or $10 you are asked to shell out. Carissa came up to me on Tuesday and asked why she didn’t get a ‘Field Day’ t-shirt and how she was “the only one” who didn’t get one. “First of all I find it hard to believe that you were the only one. Second, I’m not going to spend $10 on something you’ll wear for one day. I didn’t get one for you last year, not getting you one this year and chances are I won’t be buying one next year either.” Harsh, I know, but that answer suited her just fine because she knew I was not budging.

I do know that some parents wouldn’t want their child singled out by not having the same shirt as everyone else, but I say there is no better lesson to my children to teach them that I’m not that parent. In a couple of years I can’t wait to share my, “I walked to school uphill in the snow both ways,” story. Mine is a tad worse, I think. In high school, due to our financial situation we could barely meet our needs much less make a purchase that was not absolutely necessary. I had Payless XJ900’s tennis shoes that were losing traction and during my first volleyball practice as I was slipping and sliding all over the place, my coach mentioned the school issued shoes to me. Oh yeah, I’m dead serious. They were our school colors, orange and white (not obvious right?) with a dirty grey look due to wear and tear. But I knew my mom could not afford new shoes for me, nor did I want to make her feel bad, so I didn’t beg her to spare me the embarrassment; I got sized and never even mentioned it to her.

Since Tom was raised by a single father who was a construction worker, we thankfully both have the same mentality of the value of money and are tight wads. We spend only what is within our means and yes, $10 for a Field Day t-shirt is something we can afford, but just because we can doesn’t mean we should. At the dinner table we told her that there are millions of people that work really hard for way less than $10 per hour to feed their whole families. The people that do the lawns next door in the morning probably make less than that and they they don’t stop the entire hour and they work for 8 of them. Tom mentioned she could pick the weeds out back (that’s well over an hour job) and show her what is $10 worth of work. Nah, how about we just say, “No,” for now and save those opportunities when she’s actually going to do the job right.

So after only a year and a half in this world of education, I’m already burned out with the spending and realizing if it’s not one thing, it’s another so the word “No” needs to happen way more often so we don’t go broke!

The Before and After

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I’m pretty sure everyone has a “before” and “after” event that marks the central most important part of your life where everything is spoken with, “No, it was BEFORE such and such….” or “Yes, after such and such was when…” This can either be a wonderful time like a child’s birth, engagement, a career change for the better….or it can be something traumatic like your parent’s divorce to which you always refer with your siblings as, “Before mom and dad split up…” or a natural disaster that affected you, loss of a job or the loss of a loved one.

I find that with my family and close friends of my family, a huge mark on our timelines and the turning point of our life story is the day my sister had her seizure. April 15, 2007. That day has now become our “before” and “after”. No matter what we’re talking about, a lot of the time it will start with, “Before Natalie got sick,” or “After Natalie passed away.” It just seems like there is so much constant longing for the “before”. Before was when our lives were whole; no, not perfect or without stress, just whole. With her. And that moment she had her seizure our lives as we knew it took a dramatic halt and changed in to a chaotic disaster of sorts. Dealing with life was different because 24 hours before we were all just going about our days as usual. I was in Las Vegas raising my 20 month old daughter and talking to Natalie as I folded laundry and did the dishes as she did the same and we would just laugh and shoot the breeze as she was excited about going back to school. Carrie would hang out with her while the kids played at the Burger King play area and they dealt with their lives together. While our mom played a huge role in all of our lives by always keeping us close and needing each other.

So April 15th marked that day where we then started our walk together as a family facing this evil. Watching Natalie battle this horrible cancer called Glioblastoma, we continued having hope that a miracle would happen. This all just became somewhat of a living nightmare. Did we know what to do with 4 young children now left to watch their mom suffering when just a week ago she was a stay at home mom who tended to their every need? No, we had no clue what we were doing, we just did as if we were all on automatic pilot and feeling our way through things completely blind. We also had a few friends help us with our needs (unfortunately there were others who disappeared) like bringing us meals and helping in any way they could. Without them we probably would have starved. We needed to all be at our strongest in order to make it through this with our sanity and faith in God still in tact and keep Natalie’s wants and needs met. Most importantly for her was that we took great care of her kids. Although communication was difficult, she definitely would let you know in her way that she was either happy with what you did with them or if she was less that thrilled, which was not anything new since we were well aware how much Natalie loved her babies and made sure you did, too. I still feel awful for arguing with her that first month when she said I was being “bossy” with her kids. But as usual we made up within the hour.

Those 13 months were one big blur.  So much so that somewhere along the 11 month mark I had a baby, but because of the timing I’m not quite sure who breastfed him and changed his diaper because I don’t remember anything during that period other than being in Nat’s home as much as possible along with my other sister and mom…although I do remember him sleeping swaddled up next to her quite a bit. She loved her some babies and I felt it would be selfish of me to not let her be a part of his life. So often I would see her reach for him with her pinky and that is something I will never forget.

The loss of my amazing sister will forever mark the timeline in our family as our “after”. Since she passed away life has yet to go back to “normal”. Not sure if it ever will since it still seems like that hope is still there waiting for the void to be filled. Even still, nearly 4 years later when I’m folding laundry or cleaning house I wish I could call her up and chat with her hearing her say, “Bean weans!!” her ever so loving name for me. She sure was funny. And caring. And thoughtful beyond measure. And wise. And a great example of a wonderful mother. And I wish I had her to ask so many parenting questions, especially since we would both be raising girls of the same age together and I know she would think Roman was hilarious and enjoy laughing at some of my frustrations…but she laughed in the most loving way to never make you feel bad, but to let you know that when it all comes down to it, parenting is all pretty funny when you think back on the events that made you the angriest.

And as my family continues our life together, dealing with a void of someone we all loved so much, we wonder when this “after” will not be so painful. When will we stop looking at her children without feeling sad for them that they were robbed from having such an unconditionally loving mother? When will I stop wishing I could just have one more conversation with her just to hear her laugh? All we can do is hope for nothing else as monumental as the loss of her to ever happen again in this family. And so we pray.

Everyone has a moment that takes precedence over everything else on their existing timeline. Some are wonderful, some are awful but no matter what it is it’s significant enough for you to refer to it as before and after. If you think of yours I’d love to hear it. 🙂

What? Leprechauns? Here!?!

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So my daughter woke up eeaaaarlyyyyy this morning asking us if the Leprechauns came. Huh? Have they ever visited our home before? As far as I know, St. Patrick’s Day comes and goes and I am practically unaware it was ever here. Thanks to the other kids at school my daughter now thinks something magical is supposed to happen like when the tooth fairy comes. Weren’t the elves at Christmas-time enough?  My answer, “No honey. They don’t come to our house.” As she walked away disappointed,  I turned back to my computer screen looking at my Facebook Newsfeed with pictures of green milk, practical jokes played on kids, green toilet water etc, etc, et friggin’ cetera I decided why the heck not? So I quietly grabbed the food dye and poured a few drops in the toilets and milk container. We drink almond milk so I wasn’t sure how that beige-y color would mix with the dye, but I figured it was worth a shot even if it came out looking like moss. Hhmmm, that was fun. What else should I do? Change out their drawers! Hide their shoes! Tie their shoelaces together! And that’s where my ideas stopped. Throughout the next 15 minutes I casually led the kids to “get dressed”. I went to the restroom and called the kids in. Fun was had by all and it made them so happy.

What I didn’t expect was that for the rest of today, both of the kids (mostly Roman) would point out things that were out of place blaming it on those “sneaky Leprechauns”. “MOM, look in your drawer! They made a huge mess!” “Wait, what? Um, oh yeah, it must have been those little guys again!” “MOM, they scratched the mirror! HURRY!” Nope, that would be streaks on the glass from my piss poor attempt at speed cleaning yesterday. “MOM, you have to come in here! Look at the floor in your closet!!” Ok, I’ll let them take the hit again. “MOM!! Look at what they did to the laundry room! The towels are thrown all over!” Sheesh. Can’t a woman throw another load in to the dryer without folding the previous one? “Those dang guys! I wish they would clean my house instead of make messes everywhere.” “MOM, look at the pots and pans in the cabinet!!” Man kids, where have you lived your whole life; under a rock? Observant, they are not. About an hour later, “MOOOOM!” (By this time it’s getting old and Roman is the only one who is still excited about it.) “ya, Roman.” “Look at the pictures in the office! They took them off the wall!” Ok, those suckers have been sitting there for about 4 months now since I took a picture out of each one for a school project of Carissa’s and have yet to fill in the blanks and hang the frames back up. “MOM, come look under your sink in the bathroom!!” “What did they do now?” “They knocked down all your boxes (tampons, liners)! SEE??” So now we’re starting to get nit-picky are we? Who has that stuff organized at all times? Sometimes it’s simply grab and go and let things fall where they may thinking, “I’ll get to it later.”

I’m not a filthy pig and quite enjoy organization, but man when it’s  pointed out to you by your 4 and 6 year old it’s a huge wake up call. At least I can buy myself a few more years before I have to take the blame for my own messes. I think I’m going to start making up little trolls, fairies and other fantasy creatures just to continue having someone else take the fall throughout the whole year.  “MOM, who made that mess in the kitchen?” “Oh, it must be those darn Spring Critters that come and wreck your house for no reason!” Yup, I think that’s what I’ll do.