December 20, 2013

the real work world

On the way to school my youngest was complaining about a teacher who said they were too old and too busy for holiday parties. I said, "That's not true - we take time to celebrate in the work world."

"I know," she said, "I watch The Office."

December 15, 2013

Second time around

When the kids were little they made string bracelets, and sometimes I felt like I was living in a bracelet factory. Then it went away and I was sad. Guess what? It's back.... with bigger string and the awesome addition of needles and pegs to step on - hooray!

December 10, 2013

happiness is...

As I was getting ready to go into work this morning I realized that I had a great cup of coffee, a rocking travel mug that actually keeps it hot, and cozy mitten gloves. Add new boots, a perfect playlist, and light snow - it was like everything lined up perfectly to remind me to pause and be happy. So I did.

December 5, 2013

Sleep tight

Last night I went to say good night to the youngest and this is what I found...

December 4, 2013

They're perfect!

The youngest made me these awesome mini leg warmers to go with my new boots and skinny jeans. They are so warm and snuggly! And it's way better to have knitting everywhere than a bracelet factory.

November 28, 2013

we might need a really big table....

I am so grateful to have my kids home for the long weekend. We did a Thanksgiving Day run together, watched the Macy's parade, and each of the kids helped with part of dinner. My sister and her family came for dinner (my other sister and her husband had to work, and we missed them). I'm already excited for just a few weeks from now when my family will be together again.

I am so grateful for all of the family I have: kids, step-kids, sons and daughter in-law, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, the nephew, my dad, great-grandma, cousins, aunts and uncles, and all of my husband's family members.

November 21, 2013

just a few more minutes

On Thursdays, school starts half an hour later than the rest of the week to allow for staff meeting time. This busy week I was especially grateful to sleep in a little (if ten more minutes actually counts as sleeping in - when it's still dark and cold outside those covers, it does to me) then make coffee and eat breakfast at home.

November 20, 2013

another season

We had a parent meeting for the start of the basketball season. The youngest has worked so hard on the off-season, and we are excited to see her on the court in a week or two. I am so grateful to have kids that set goals for themselves and work hard to reach them.

November 19, 2013

Plus also...

This week the author of the Junie B. Jones series, Barbara Park, passed away. I am thankful for authors like Barbara who bought reading and imagination to my kids throughout their childhoods.

She will be especially missed by my middle daughter... cuz that girl readed every book that Ms Park wrote, and not just once or twice but a million bazillion times. And wait 'til you hear this, she didn't hardly even like to read. Plus also, her mom and sisters heared her reading them too. And I think they sneaked into her room and readed them all. I bet they all loved that girl for bringing those books home. It was funner than doing stupid school work, that's for sure.

Thanks, Barbara.

November 18, 2013

Its beginning to taste a lot like....

Target had different holiday flavored milk in the seasonal case, and I thought the youngest would like them as a change from chocolate milk after workouts. She won't even try them. That's ok, because Snickerdoodle is like a Starbucks Frapp - even better than egg nog (but don't buy the mint chocolate).

November 17, 2013

Stormy day

I am thankful we did not have the severe weather that other parts of the Midwest did today.

know the potential for storms was here because our dogs felt it. They hid in the bathroom -together- and went in the basement without being bribed. We are lucky the worst passed by us. 

SNL time

Saturday Night Live has become something that connects me with my girls. We don't stop our lives for it, but when I do catch an episode, I can usually find one of my kids who is also watching. We will often text back and forth during the show. It's a little thing, but gives us common jokes and stories - even apart.

November 15, 2013

Finally Friday

The best part of attending a work conference is having time to take off work after! Turns out my youngest was off school today too, so we got to sleep in and spend the day together.

November 14, 2013

I work in the best place

Today there was a security incident at work. It ended safely. Since then I have received communication from every single level of management making sure that facts about the event were conveyed, that staff were prepared for any effects of it, and offering any support services we needed.

I am proud to work with people who can respond to an event like this with professionalism. I am beyond grateful to work in a place where I feel that my employer has my back and cares about me.

November 13, 2013

Maybe one of each....

Dinner was provided tonight for the conference I am attending. When I registered, I was happy to see both a vegetarian and a gluten free option. Before dinner I talked to the sever about get a meal that was gluten free and vegetarian.

When dinner was served, the plate they brought was 3/4 full of white rice, with a big chicken leg and thigh. "Excuse me," I said, "we talked about a gluten free vegetarian meal a little while ago." The second plate arrived heaped with pasta primavera. The rest of the people at the table looked at me, and someone said, "That's not right."

New rule - always bring a back up.

A little change from the usual

It was an early morning on the road heading to a conference for work. I'm sure that if I had to travel more than a few times a year, it wouldn't be as much fun anymore, but I find it refreshing. It's nice to have a little time every once in a while when my schedule is all decided, my meals are prepared for me, and I can watch tv, read, or sit in the hot tub without feeling like I should be doing something more productive.

November 11, 2013


Veterans Day. Is there anything to be more thankful for than our freedom and those who protect it?

November 9, 2013


We spent the day celebrating the wedding of a family friend's granddaughter. I am so thankful to have great friends that we have shared our life events with over the years.

November 8, 2013

Nope, brunettes have more fun

Today I traded my blond hair for dark. Hair has never been something that I spend too much time on, so it surprises me that going back to my natural dark feels so much more comfortable and relaxed. Or maybe it was sharing dinner and drinks afterwards with my hairdresser and BFF Janet that made me happy.

November 7, 2013

At dinner tonight....

I called the youngest to come sit at the table with us to eat.

Her (in fake whiny voice): Mah-ahm, you're ruining my li-ife.
Me (in fake mommy voice): Don't use that tone with me.
Her: Oh my Gah-ahd. Why do you hate meeee?
Me: You are grounded young lady.
Her: Whaaat? You are so unfa-air.
Me: That's it, I want your cell phone too.
Her: Um. Hmm. I'm running out of things to say.

I guess I'm better at being a bad parent than she is at being a bad teenager.

Childhood friends

The youngest was reminiscing about her childhood toys, and brought out her bucket of Barbies-for-tomboys...

We were laughing about how all three kids really played with all their toys.The Littlest Petshop pets lived in block and lego houses with railroad track roads, and traveled in the playskool camper to visit Fashion Polly. Good times, good times. 

November 6, 2013

Working hard

A month ago I joined a gym, and last week started going to some of the classes. Every time I go, I meet someone new and learn a little more about them.

It's really nice to be surrounded by other people, at all different places for different reasons, with a common goal of feeling better and getting stronger.

November 4, 2013

Up late - on a school night!

Today I am so thankful for coffee, because last night I was thankful to be at the Florida Georgia Line concert!

November 2, 2013

Another "hometown"

It is Homecoming weekend at the college where our oldest two go to school. We drove the hour to watch the parade and have lunch with them at the coffee shop in town. We met one of our middle daughter's roomies for next year and her mom, and some of the oldest daughter's co-workers joined us for lunch.

I am thankful that they are surrounded by wonderful people, enjoy the things they are studying, and are proud of the work they are doing. It's not easy to make a new place feel like home, but the way the community has "absorbed" them sure has given me a soft spot for this town.

November 1, 2013


One of my friends started off the month by posting something she was thankful for on Facebook. I can't promise I will make it every day, but I know there are at least a month of things in my life to be thankful for.

Today I am thankful for the great fall scented candles that make my home a warm, relaxing place to be. 

October 27, 2013

They're like little cabbages.

When I was a kid I hated Brussels sprouts - and my mom was a real butter and lots of salt kind of cook - so I'm pretty sure they were prepared well, and I still wouldn't eat them. But, you know, as we get older our tastes sometimes change. Yesterday, I was in the grocery store looking for veggies to roast in the oven, and there the Brussels sprouts were all washed, trimmed, and looking delicious on the shelf. So I grabbed a bag and took them home.

I put them in the pan with yellow potatoes, baby carrots, onion, and garlic, then drizzled them with olive oil, Lawry's salt and pepper, put them in the oven and waited for the magic to happen. Thirty minutes later I had this beautiful pan of color:

You see how the Brussels sprouts are all moved gently to one side of the pan? Yeah, that's to keep them from touching the good food. Life lesson. Sometimes your taste buds are right the first time. Listen to them.

October 26, 2013

Well, you don't want to mix up the treat bowls.

Earlier tonight the doorbell rang and we were greeted by a group of adults in costume, doing a scavenger hunt. They asked for a q-tip, and while we were getting that for them I said, "So, what else is on your list?"

"A penny from the 1990's," then lowering her voice a little awkwardly she added, "and a tampon."

"No problem," I replied. "You picked a house full of girls. We have that!"

As they were heading down the driveway, I hollered, "...and if the prize is booze, you better come back!"

Why don't I get invited to parties like that?

October 20, 2013

We'll just be in here

Just when I am missing my kids, they come home for the weekend and take over the family room with forts, movies, and junk food. Ahhh.

October 19, 2013

Parenting secrets revealed

My sister is planning a party for her teen and 20 friends. My youngest overheard me telling her to put out just a few of each snack so that she has an excuse to pop into the party and check on things.

The youngest said, "Oh that's what you were doing."


October 17, 2013

Welcome back... me! It has been a long time. Grab a cup of coffee and I'll fill you in (the short version).

This year, I finished a term as an elected official. I am grateful to have had the experience, but it was not where I wanted to be in life. From my view even at the local level, politics was every bit as muddled as people believe. When the kids were younger I told them “you are who you hang with” and in that role, I saw myself surrounded by attitudes and beliefs that did not reflect who I wanted to be. When my term ended, I was done with politics, public demands, and public issues. I needed a serious break to decompress.

So I took one!

And now I am back because I love how writing up the everyday stories about my kids, family, and friends helps me to notice and appreciate the things that make life special to me. It’s very therapeutic. Like coffee.

There’s lots more to tell, so get yourself a refill and come on back.

September 20, 2013

Third time's a charm

The youngest got her learner' permit today, and I am every bit as excited as I was for the oldest and the middle when they got theirs. Let the practice driving begin!

September 7, 2013

before and after

More than a year in the making... my oldest asked for a patchwork quilt using all the novelty prints I have collected. Some were curtains in the playroom, bedroom pillows, or outfit leftovers. Finally, it's finished.

August 28, 2013

Anti-theft system

I stopped to drop some things off by the oldest who is living in an apartment near campus. I guess she hasn't needed to go many places during the summer....

August 27, 2013

Last details

I can't believe it has been two years since our oldest packed the car and headed for college, and another is already leaving. 

August 25, 2013

Dog days, literally

The dogs took advantage of the last few lazy days before school.

July 9, 2013

Freshman Orientation

So I sat at college orientation for my middle daughter wondering if I really AM a bad parent for thinking that I don't need to know that there is a leap frog competition for my student to do on campus the first week of school. All my fears were quickly put to rest.

It started with this:

Me: Sorry, I'm dealing with my own set of issues up here... like can you talk about move in day and the extra long bedding?

Her: Make sure you ask about the size of the fridge and the types of showers there are too?

Me: Should I find out about the style of carpet and the number of hangers that will fit in the closet?

Her: Ohh and makes sure to ask about the types of dryers and what detergent would be best to bring! Powder or liquid?

June 30, 2013

Garden Grad

The middle graduated from high school this month - time just flew by. She planned a beautiful garden party and the weather was really cooperative - which is a big deal in Wisconsin.

May 10, 2013

I am becoming a picky eater....

One of my friends posted a Facebook status to "Go gluten-free for a month - you will be amazed." I thought, "Only a month? I wonder how hard it would be to eat vegetarian AND gluten-free?" So I tried it.

As it turns out, it's actually not difficult at all. I learned that I ate a lot of crackers, cereals, and pasta. They were all whole grains, but still processed foods. Instead of just switching to the processed gluten-free versions of foods, I tried to trade it out for healthier option altogether.

The best part? I DO feel better, and I lost 25 pounds in 3 months without changing my workouts. Amazing!

April 20, 2013

Post-it inspiration

I was helping my oldest carry groceries up to her dorm, and I had to grab a quick pic of her motivational wall.

April 11, 2013

What? We had in-class work time.

How the class assignment looks:

How my daughter's assignment looks:

In her defense it was only 5 minutes of work time. Not even worth tying to get started.

April 3, 2013

Lost in the mail?

Two months ago I started a traveling journal and I haven't seen or heard any updates. I am worried it wound up the same place as my weekly cards...

Anyone seen it?

April 2, 2013

Easter bucket

For Easter I mailed our college daughter a bucket of peeps. No box, just the address on the lid and the postage on the side. It made it. 

April 1, 2013

A quick break from the break

Rant zone... Enter with caution.

Some of the schools in our area are just finishing spring break, and some are just starting. I cannot count how many parents I have heard make comments about their kids going back to school. Today, I overheard one parent tell their child, "It's only the first day of break and I'm already ready for you to go back."

I have never understood that. I love having my kids home... for the summer, for break, for the weekend. Don't misunderstand. Kids are a lot of work. Parenting is hard. But if even YOU don't want to spend time with your kids, it might be time for some changes.

Maybe it's because of the work I do, that I realize how lucky I am to have time with my kids. Some families wish for one day and I have a whole week. And I don't care if it's spent making breakfast, playing HORSE, or hanging out watching tv... as long as its with them.

Ok. Back to spring break!

March 23, 2013

Another season done.

Well, basketball season is wrapped up - all that's left is the banquet. I am so proud of my middle daughter. Before tryouts she talked to the coach about what the season might look like for her, since she didn't play last year. He was honest about play time and expectations. She decided to try out anyway and made the team.

The first couple games were so hard for her dad and me. We know how much she loves the game and it broke our hearts to watch her never leave the bench. One night she quickly put it in perspective for us; she knew coming in that she would not play, but she wanted to be with the friends she had become so close to over the years of basketball together. "Please don't ruin this season by being grouchy every game," she said.

And so I embraced her positive attitude. I dropped my expectations and just focused on enjoying MY friends that I have spent so many years with in the bleachers. I have made some great friends through her years of basketball. This has been one of the best seasons, ever. I am so grateful for the memories, and a daughter who helped me appreciate them.

March 20, 2013


I talk with my oldest, who is away at school, almost every day, whether its by phone, text, or email. We chatted on facebook a few days ago. She is helping a friend with a really tough situation. I told her that she gave perfect advice and she was a good friend. She messaged back, "Thank you. I try to do what you would do."

Is this the part where I cry?

March 14, 2013

Punn-y kid

Our youngest is studying Shakespeare in English right now, and part of the unit is puns. She was sharing some of them on the way to school the other day, like "a fish ran into a wall... dam." It took me back to the days of preschool:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange shirt. Hahaha!

I didn't realize how much I missed that, and it was nice to get one more little glimpse of it!

March 1, 2013

Rough start to the week

the Singing Butler gets a makeover

I have always envied rooms that can change with the seasons, and wanted to redo our room with colors and furniture that let me do that. A few months ago, we redid our bedroom, and incorporated things that would give us that blank slate to work with, but not be boring.

I painted the room a tan-yellow color that matches a blond wood cabinet that used to be my grandmother's and the print of The Singing Butler - which is one of my favorites. We already had the white comforter and the red one is the solid side of a striped comforter from last year. I found a great yellow and white solid quilt on clearance at Target.

I swapped our wood slat blinds for the white curtains that were in the middle daughter's room. We also had the little tree and bear rug that I took to the fabric store, where my oldest helped to pick out a great plaid that matched almost perfectly. We bought enough to make a few pillow covers and to cover the piece of wood that makes makes the dog crate into a table.

I love how the room has a just hint of lodge. When summer rolls around, we'll switch out the red for something else - maybe celery green or pastel vintage print quilts.

February 28, 2013

finally, some snow to lay around in

This dog has been waiting ALL winter for real snow! 

This is the $4500 pup that had ACL surgery number two in October. He was so happy to be out in the snow that I could not resist taking him for a run through the yard. I kept him on the leash because he's still not ready for an all out run, but he made the most of every single lap we did.

When he finished running around like a maniac, he just laid down in the driveway enjoying the snowfall. Worth every dime of the vet bill.

February 23, 2013

Another "goodbye"

This week my middle daughter had the basketball game where the Seniors are recognized. This has been an amazing season as we have watched her spend every week with girls she has become very close friends with over the years - some of those friendships were instant, others they worked really hard to make happen. I will miss this season very much.

February 10, 2013

great read

My oldest got the book "Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore" for Christmas, and I was looking for something to read. It turned out to be a cover-to-cover-without-a-break book! Magical, curious, deep, and plausible.

January 30, 2013

love your life

This week I started a new journal!

This one's a group effort. I found an old, half-used spiral notebook in the cupboard, decorated the front, put together a little bit of paper, and included some directions.

Now the only decision is who to send it to first. Watch your mail boxes....

January 28, 2013

Born lucky?

This week this kids and I had some discussions about opportunity, and whether some people are born lucky or if they make their own luck.

Funny that I had this quote and in my art stash waiting for the inspiration to use it. 

January 15, 2013

Back to it...

Well, it was back to our regular schedules after the holidays, and the week just flew by; meetings, family, neighbors, basketball, and coffee at the bus stop.

January 7, 2013


My middle daughter has been working on some art for our family room wall. It's not done yet, but I decided to hang it anyway!

January 6, 2013

Week one down. Fifty-one to go!

We spent the better part of the week watching Netflix:

January 4, 2013

We share

This morning my coworker and I were laughing because every day this week both of us have worn new scarves. She has a teenage daughter too, and we were talking about how we share accessories. In fact the one I wore today was my daughter's.

Fast forward to basketball tonight. As I walked in past the bleachers, the middle daughter said, "Mom, really." And some of her teammates started laughing. "What?" I said. "You're wearing Alison's scarf."

Hey, it was in my daughter's bedroom. Sorry, Alison....

January 3, 2013

Grab your glue sticks...

One of my goals this year is to journal regularly and celebrate more of the everyday things. Journal Cards are a great way to do this. Each week you decorate an new index card using paint, paper, stickers, and found items to create a piece of work that represents the week.

Why index cards? Index cards are:
  • small enough to fit in a wallet, planner, or back pocket
  • not intimidating on those "uninspired" days
  • large enough to capture a complete thought, moment, or idea
  • small enough to narrow the topic to the most important thing
  • blank on one side for decorating
  • lined on one side to make notes or write about the week

Index cards are also a basic part of the "Getting Things Done" system that I have used to get through particularly chaotic times. It's a really good way of organizing the tasks, and figuring out what to do first. It's also a great strategy for long term planning.

Google it - the examples range from scribbles on a 3x5 to true works of art. If you are not familiar with the GTD method for organizing your life, I would highly recommend it!

So back to the art project... let's get some index cards and get going. If enough of you are up to the challenge, I'll pick a spot to share our work - shoot me a comment!

Need some inspiration?

Credit: Amoeba Handmade
Credit: Ordinary Normal

Credit: In My Head Studios
Credit: Sara Things

Family story-telling

I love this time of year for all the resolutions and fresh starts. Many people use this time to start a challenge or project. With the new year, some really fun ideas for documenting life have popped up on Pinterest and the blogs.

As a kid I kept diaries, and wrote poems. Now I use art to tell my family's story. Here are some of my favorites:

Project Life

Perpetual Calendar

A Month in Photos