The Oxymoron that is Living with Anxiety

Is it really living?


I thought it was just a phase. I thought it was going to pass and that I wouldn’t always feel the knot in my stomach when someone asked me to do something.


I used to be a cheerleader in the middle of a football field or basketball court and at crowded pep rallies.


As the oldest of 5 girls, it was always my job to either go first to do something or represent us all. If we were at a family event, I had to go first and kiss everyone which sometimes resulted in kissing neighbors of relatives that didn’t know me or me them or pushing aside the intense fear of public speaking to give a speech at our parents’ anniversary party or our dad’s retirement party.


I married someone who loves to go out and loves to attend EVERYTHING. This part confuses the heck out of me. Did I once enjoy it, too? How in the world did we fall for each other? It must have, at one time, not bothered me. I think back and I can sort of remember being a part of it but it feels like it was a different person…like I’m watching a movie or a TV show about someone else.


© Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Scott Patterson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I think the anxiety snuck up on me with what I am thinking is a vice grip because it will let up but never fully go away. It feels like such a cliché. It seems that more and more I hear people are dealing with some form of anxiety.

I’m missing Nico’s first football game of his senior year. It’s killing me that I can’t force myself to go. It’s the cross town game so it is emotionally charged and nasty all in one. Obviously that doesn’t help. It seems that everyone in town is at that game so the crowd anxiety is paralyzing. Belle wanted to go but didn’t have a ride (that has since been resolved) and you’d think I’d be the obvious choice but I couldn’t. She didn’t understand and how can I explain that the thought of driving there, finding parking, fighting the crowd and being nervous for Nico makes me want to throw up and hide. I’m not exaggerating. My stomach feels like it is in my mouth. I don’t want to talk to anyone and all I want to do is crawl in bed and have someone text me how he’s doing.

When did this happen? When did it get so bad I started missing my kids’ things? I joke a lot that I crawl out from my rock (to go to the bus stop, to go to curriculum night, to do things that I know will help Gia socially because she is basically an only child a lot of the time) but in all honesty, I’m counting the minutes until I can be back home (and this is not my dream home by any means). I don’t want to be this way. It’s stifling and feels like I’m not living at all and I know this so I make plans that sound like a great idea but as it nears, my mind and body start working overtime. I can’t breathe and I feel like I’m in flight or fight mode desperately thinking of a way to get out of the plans. How crappy is that? That’s not the friend, sister, daughter, mom that I want to be and yet I’m powerless to stop it.

And I’m on meds! I know they are working because with some of the stuff that has gone over the past year (new job, car accident and more medical issues than I can count), I don’t think I’d be blogging right now, I think I’d be in a padded room.

Maybe it’s gotten worse because we are about to go through the 7th surgery for this family since January:

January-Tommy’s appendix

April- I had another tongue surgery and then two weeks later, Nico had a sinus surgery (his 10th or 11th)

May- Gia had an MRI for a swollen salivary gland that ended her up in the hospital for 3 days. She had to go all the way under so we had to go through the surgery department.

June- Gia had surgery to remove the blocked salivary gland. Apparently, you can do without one.

July- Gia had her tonsils out.

Aug.31- Tommy is having surgery because he has another hernia.

All the while, Tommy has dealt with several episodes of the red bumps (we are waiting for him to get them to biopsy them but he keeps having episodes on weekends).

It’s actually embarrassing at this point to go to the hospital. I absolutely hate medical tests, medical procedures and any kind of surgery. I mean, that’s not uncommon. Does anyone love having that stuff done? I have this reaction when one of my kids comes to me with an issue. It’s this heaviness that causes a throbbing headache and ends with a pit in my stomach. My eyes burn with tears that want to fall but can’t because I’m the mom and crying freaks them out (and makes me feel weak). Then the fight in my brain starts. Call or don’t call. All of the “what ifs” and “it’s nothings” swirl in my head until I work up the nerve to call the doctor. Just once I’d like to go to the doctor and have them tell me it’s nothing major, give my kids meds and send us on our merry way.

The one place I don’t feel anxious…in the classroom. I walked through the door to set up my classroom and it felt so right. Just so happy to be sitting there with the lessons and the schedule and the name tags and the smiley-faced shapes, my God, how I love the smiley-faced objects (one of my teacher friends, I can’t remember which one, hates smiley-faced objects). I went to a meeting for volunteers that are going to teach Religious Education (I did it years ago before I lost Rocco) and I felt a completely different stomach sensation. It was bubbling with excitement. (Totally aware of how corny that is but I’m at a loss for other descriptive words that describe it as perfectly as that.) I’m going to teach Kindergarten and I am so excited!

I’m working three days a week this year and two of the days I have my own class and the other day, I am craft person for the teacher I worked with last year. The three days work so well this year with Gia being in half-day Kindergarten. Normally change (unless it is with my house) scares me but I think change when teaching keeps things new and fresh and it makes me really excited for this year.

How can these not make you happy?

How can these not make you happy?

So what about you? Any tricks to dealing with this kind of anxiety? Anyone else feel this way? I’m sharing because if this makes one person out there not feel alone in dealing with this, then it is worth it to post it. And truthfully, it would help to not feel like I’m the only one. :)

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You Might Be a Part of the Royal Family of Chaos

Coming out of hiding for a moment because I am pretty sure that blogging kept me sane. It’s been through work that I’ve come to a realization, my life is crazy and at times, a train wreck. I mean, I’ve always known…it’s the crazy that created this blog. But it’s only been recently that I’ve realized it sometimes resembles a train wreck. I find that when I am at work, I can pretend that I’m a very capable juggler of all things “Queen of Chaos” related.

You might be a part of the Royal Family of Chaos if:

You decided that after almost a decade of playing basketball (I shudder to think of how much money we have spent), that you didn’t want to play anymore. (Nico) I admit, I miss watching him play. I don’t miss all the stuff that went along with it, though. That has been a nice break. I have more to say on this subject but will save it for another post.

You broke your arm at the beginning of basketball season and then on the first day back to school after the holidays, you are admitted into the hospital for appendicitis. To add insult to injury, instead of getting your cast off, you have surgery to remove your appendix. You would think that since he was in a hospital, someone there could take off his cast for him but you would be wrong. He had to wear it a week  longer. (Tommy)


Tom appendix


You continue to be your mom’s biggest help while complaining and rolling your eyes and then immediately saying you’re sorry. One minute you could be talking about how well you are doing in school and the very next minute you could be crying because your mom asked how you were doing in your math class, which led to you screaming and yelling at everyone in your path and then five minutes later, you are giggling at something on your phone.  (Belle)

Twin Teenagers!

Twin Teenagers!

You have turned 5 and got yourself a sassy haircut to go with your sassy attitude. You continue to have severe separation anxiety which means you don’t or can’t give your mom a break. You come home every single day saying you are married to someone new and have even gone as far as calling one boy, your ex-boyfriend. You are going to need your tonsils out in late May, early June but freak out at the mention of it so everyone around you refers to it as the “hospital sleepover”. (Gia)

Gia haircut

You are having a hard time coming to grips with the fact that your son is no longer playing basketball so you can still be found at the neighborhood pizza place and at the high school basketball games on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. (Leo) I get it. I’m also sad that Nico isn’t playing but this is a chance to get a little bit of family-life back, to do something outside of sports…or so I thought.

You have gone on strike because you are tired of being the only one caring how this house looks. You really understand the blessing of doing what you love. You love going to work and time goes quickly while you are there and you’ve been known to melt when you hear, “I love you, Mrs. Gubenko.” (obviously me)

Yes, I get paid to wear mouse ears. :)

Yes, I get paid to wear mouse ears. :)

You need four teeth pulled and for some reason, cannot wait. You are the child that has a serious meltdown when you find out that a friend of a friend of a friend that you just saw puked last week. Suddenly, you feel, like you are going to “catch it”.  Remember the Neosporin story? (Belle)

You don’t need braces but have asked that since you don’t need them, could you use the money to have your teeth whitened? (Tommy)

You can’t wait for college and use “You are going to miss me when I’m gone” every single time you aggravate someone to the point of tears however, you freak out or shut down at the very mention of college visits, the ACT or any future plans that don’t involve having your mother do everything for you. (Nico)

He's right. We are going to miss him.

He’s right. We are going to miss him.

You got your wife exactly what she wanted for Valentine’s Day even though it was corny and probably not something you would have thought of on your own (all I wanted was a song that reminded him of me…I miss the days of mixed tapes). (Leo) And if you remember, Valentine’s Day really wasn’t his thing. One word: Dinosaurs.

You realize that you miss blogging and the blog world enough to resurrect your blog for one post a week. (Me).


And how are all of you doing?? Doesn’t this just make you want to be a part of the chaos? :)


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An Update From Beyond the Blog (Warning: It’s Long)

Hello, my dear friends! I have missed coming to this spot every day. Really, really missed it. I kept meaning to come here and update for anyone wondering, “Whatever happened to the Queen of Chaos?” but life, as it often does, got in the way. I said that even though I was quitting the blog, I was going to keep up with my friends’ blogs and I didn’t. I had good reasons: it was summer and it went so fast that I feel like I blinked and it was over. I am going to try to not make this a novel or be too negative but as you all well know, that is probably not going to happen. Since I’ve stopped blogging, these things have happened:

1. Nico and Tommy both had surgery. Tommy had a hernia (no idea how or why) and Nico had his 8th or 9th (I’ve lost count) sinus surgery.

Nico's school picture proof. Junior Year

Nico’s school picture proof. Junior Year









Tommy's usual expression after a game. This was early in the season.

Tommy’s usual expression after a game.
This was early in the season.

2. The garage door was finally fixed.

3. Girl drama continued throughout 6th grade but this summer Belle was in the play Beauty and the Beast with my nieces and her confidence shot through the roof. She has done a lot of work on herself (admitting that no one is completely innocent when it comes to drama and working hard not to wear her heart on her sleeve).

Apparently Gia can't stand when someone else is having a moment.

Apparently Gia can’t stand when someone else is having a moment.

At one of the many competitions.

At one of the many competitions.

4. I have come to dread and resent the sports my kids play. I used to love to go to their games but now I just see them as reasons we are not the family I thought we would be. There is only dinner together once a week. Family parties are missed. Vacations can’t be taken. I have gotten angry over things that are said to my kids or how they are treated and it makes me want to avoid games. Nico had a pretty good varsity year in football. Good enough to get him a special mention all-conference. I’m happy for him that he worked so hard at something he loved. Basketball is next and to be honest, I don’t know how he does it. How any of them do it. Tommy just won the Super Bowl with his football team and is playing basketball for his school and the feeder team. Belle played volleyball for her school and just finished her cheer season. Girl sports are tough to watch. Girls are mean. They were fun in elementary school, maybe they’ll be fun in high school but middle school? So tough to sit through. She continues to go to tumbling and is so close to getting her back handspring. I hope she gets it so she can continue to cheer. That’s one of the things I never get tired of watching. She just shines when she cheers. Dancing is the other one. I miss her dancing. Gia is doing hip hop and it is pretty hilarious.

Nico is #6.

Nico is in white.




I love that smile.

I love that smile.







Winners of the Super Bowl 2014. After 9 years of coaching, Leo finally won one.

Winners of the Super Bowl 2014. After 9 years of coaching, Leo finally won one.


5. If you would have told me way back when Nico was asked to play on a travel team that our lives would be as insane as they are, I think I would have politely said, “No thank you.” This past Saturday, Tommy had basketball practice from 8-10, a football walk-through from 9-10:30 and then a baseball fundraiser from 10-12. What?! He’s 13. I have complained before about living out of my car driving carpool after carpool but I don’t think I have ever felt this tired of it. I have to give a shout out to Gary Cook for football, Cindy Halstead (and Mike) for basketball (and baseball) and Lisa Cunningham for cheerleading. Without their help in getting my kids to where they need to be, I think the padded cell with my name on it would be occupied at the moment.

6. The boys battle through stomachaches, headaches, exhaustion, leg bumps, swollen neck glands and nagging coughs. I know keeping active keeps them as healthy as they are but sometimes I think the schedule that they have is enough to make someone sick that isn’t battling anything. The fact that they deal with CF, run around with some of the craziest schedules ever, have some level of success and still manage to get good grades makes them my heroes. I think I might be on speed dial on the nurse’s phone at Tommy’s school and I’m not sure how Nico is pulling a B in his first period class when he misses it so often in order to do his treatment.

7. I spend a lot of time at home with Gia. She is starting to have friends outside of her cousins and that means putting myself out there with other moms. I find that I’m struggling with it. There is a huge wall I have up. You know when you meet someone and something clicks and you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s happened with a few people but my guard is up. I don’t want to be that way. It feels unnatural. I feel like I’ve been burned one too many times with friendships that go up in smoke. I can’t do it anymore. At this point in my life, I am who I am. I’m not for everyone (quote from my friend Dave W.) and that is okay.

At one time, I liked to stay up late, drink some adult beverages and sit around talking about the latest games, the camps that are good to send our kids to, the teachers to pray your kid gets, and what the school is doing so our kids are prepared for the next level of school. I don’t think that is who I am anymore. There is nothing wrong with those things but it’s just that I think I am more of a go away with friends for the weekend, drink adult beverages and stay up all night talking. Not about our kids’ accomplishments, not about how our lives are so great that our husbands fart rainbows and kids crap roses. Tell me how you met your husband or boyfriend. Let’s laugh about our most embarrassing moments. Tell me how you couldn’t wait to be a mom but it turned out to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Let’s laugh about the weird things our kids do and confide that we laugh but are afraid those things are going to stick and are a part of them and they’ll suffer for them. Tell me the things you do or think that you never thought you would. Tell me what your dreams are and what is on your bucket list. I don’t want friends that wear masks. I want friends that aren’t afraid to stay up all night with their masks off. My kids are exhausting and the only way I can relax is when I am away. There are times when I am out for the night and my phone goes off 20 times but if I am away for the night, magically, they can figure things out themselves or they text Leo.

We’ve all experienced the conversation where one mom is going on and on about how her kid is so responsible and would never do anything that was illegal when just last week, you saw a snap chat of her kid doing a beer bong. Now, I hope beyond hope that there are no moms seeing snap chats of my kids doing anything they aren’t supposed to be but I am not naive enough to go on and on and say it would never happen when I know it could. My kids mess up. They sometimes act in a way that is not okay with me. They are hormonal and moody and snap at me. Am I really that dumb that I think they would never be that way outside of this house? I am working very hard with my kids on how you don’t always have to be right. Some arguments are small enough to let go. They are big, giant know-it-alls at home. I can only imagine that that sneaks out from time to time. Hopefully, as time goes on and they mature, it happens less.

Anyway, for these reasons and a few more, Gia and I spend many a weekend night curled up doing puzzles, coloring or watching Disney’s movie of the night. This time is so fleeting that I cherish these nights.

A rare moment where her hair is down.

A rare moment where her hair is down.








8. This very wonderfully awesome thing happened:

The hair is a little dark to correct me accidentally dying it red.

The hair is a little dark to correct me accidentally dying it red.

I GOT A JOB!!!!!! I am back to teaching. I teach two 3 year-old classes so I work Tuesday-Friday mornings at Wheaton Bible. Gia is in the Pre-K class next door so it works out really well. I love my job. I have a teaching partner that we alternate every other week between lead teacher and craft teacher. I forgot how much I missed sitting on a big chair with a bunch of kids sitting in circle time with me reading or teaching something. It is the satisfying feeling making a child smile or laugh from crying or being angry. And when they lean over and say, “I have a secret. Do you want to know it? I love you,” it’s the greatest feeling in the world. I am enjoying it all: the tea parties, the building with blocks, the pretend to be eating the plastic food they make me, the crafts, the stories and I think I love playing with the play dough as much as they do (I can make a fabulous Jack ‘o Lantern or Turkey just using a popsicle stick). I laugh at least once a day with the things they come up with.

At the beginning of the school year, Leo really stepped up and helped out. He worked from home a few times so that I could go to institute days and he took over some of the driving and picking up of the carpools. I depended on my sisters, Gina and LeeAnna to watch her a few times. And my mom continues to be a huge support. In fact, it was because of her the job came to be anyway. We were at Gia’s end of year picnic and I was talking to one of the teachers and I mentioned that after Gia went to school, I wanted to teach preschool. My mom interjected and said, “Couldn’t she do it next year while Gia’s in school?” The teacher said yes and I went and told the director that I was interested and the rest is history.

9. And this awfully crappy thing happened:

Passenger side of my car.

Passenger side of my car.

I was in a car accident at the end of September. The guy blew a stop sign while turning left and barreled into my car knocking me into oncoming traffic. I am hardly ever alone in my car but Gia wasn’t feeling that great so I talked her into staying home with Tommy. At one point, I was going to give in and bring them both to the Belle’s volleyball game. I thank God every single night that they weren’t in the car. Tommy would have been in that seat. The guy hit me so hard that the window shattered. I was covered on one side with the glass. Gia’s car seat was flattened from the impact and his turn signal was embedded in my car. I cut my hand on the glass as I was transferred to the ambulance. It was a freaking nightmare. For several nights, I couldn’t sleep because I kept replaying it over and over in my head. I am frustrated, mad and sad that it is a month later and I am still seeing a chiropractor for my neck, shoulder and back. It hurts to pick Gia up and she doesn’t understand when I say I can’t. I can’t remember the last time I held my older kids. I mean I can’t remember when I stopped. I am so aware of that with Gia and since she is only 32lbs, I should be able to hold her for a little bit longer. It makes me sad when I can’t. Let me tell you, I enjoy my job but after a day of bending, lifting and chasing, I need to take a muscle relaxer to be able to go to sleep. I can’t get comfortable and every position hurts. The chiropractor, Dr. David Flatt is so wonderful and is helping tremendously but trying to find the time to go is hard.

I’m going to miss some of Tommy’s basketball games. I tell myself every day that it could have been so much worse and I know that. It’s just hard to quiet my head or that flight response when I’m driving. And I really don’t need another reason to not leave my house. I’m just going to keep repeating, “No kids in the car. No kids in the car.” I have to give a shout out to my friend, Kim and her husband, Dan and bff, Rochelle for helping me out. Kim drove my car to my house and then went to the hospital to sit with me until Leo came. Rochelle watched Gia the day after when I was in bed feeling like a truck hit me (well, it was a Grand Jeep Cherokee).

So, that’s it, my friends. That is what I have been up to. Some good, some bad, some chaotic and some not…wait…that isn’t true. It’s always chaotic here.
See, we all knew that I couldn’t make this short. :) If you are still reading, I really miss you all.



Did I mention I love my job?

Did I mention I love my job?

What about all of you? What have you been up to while I was away?


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All Good Things Must Come to an End

You know how you have a favorite TV show and it goes on and on and on until it’s not your favorite anymore and you start to let episodes delete on your DVR before watching them? I don’t want to be that show. I want to be the show that you are wishing wouldn’t end, the one that leaves you wanting more or at the very least, ends on a satisfying note.

I have had some amazing opportunities through this blog. I got to go to New York, was in two published books and made some wonderful friends.

A funny thing happened when my computer went down last week. I lived without it. It was liberating not to be tied to it.  I missed my friends that I connect with through the internet and I missed writing in this space but I really feel like the time has come to close up shop.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

When I told Gia that I wasn’t going to be working on the computer, she said, “Really?! Thank you, Mommy.” She basically thanked me for being more attentive because I had too many, “Just one second” or “Let me just finish this” than I probably should have. After I had blogged for a year, I was going to quit. I thought for Nico’s sake, we should go back to being anonymous before he went to high school. He encouraged me to keep writing because I loved it. When I told him I was thinking of quitting again, he said he was “kinda glad” because when people “googled” him, my blog came up and they read it. One kid said what I wrote was deep and about how hard it is raising Nico (I’m guessing it was the one that was “Advice for Parents of New Teenagers”. While I am not ashamed of anything I have written here, it made me feel weird and lose the drive a little bit.

I am not happy with the environment that I am raising my kids in. There are things I feel are important that have fallen by the wayside. It’s not enough to just go through the motions and get through each day. That’s what I feel like I’m doing. I’m at a point where I am tired of writing about it and need to do something about it. Something has to change and it’s not going to change unless I change it. That’s what I have to do.  I have to get back to being happy with the way I’m raising my kids.

I cannot put aside things I feel or am dealing with and write about something else. I’ve never been good at that. I want to write about how much I hate social media. It’s made raising a teen a constant anxiety attack. Teens haven’t changed but our world has and they now live in a place where everything is broadcasted and accessible to everyone. I am guilty of it myself. I blogged about our life for three years. It’s time to go back to being private. Social media has devastated Belle and made it a full-time job maintaining her self-esteem. I’d love to write in detail how we have dealt with “girl drama” and losing people you thought were your best friends. Tommy has his own “stalker” on social media and it’s upsetting.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn /

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn /

The love/hate relationship I have with technology is weighing heavy on the latter. How can I tell the kids to stop being so tied to their phones/iPods when I’m so tied to mine (or my laptop)? I envy the people who are able to balance it. Only blog when the kids go to sleep (which is um…never). Wake up early and write and read (I go to bed around 1am. There is no getting up early and fitting in writing and reading while running around like a chicken with my head cut off doesn’t really work). Blog and read when the kids are in school (Sometimes I want to spend that time with friends or family I don’t get to see often and I feel guilty because I know I should be catching up).

I wrote something two posts ago that sparked something in me. I miss working with kids. I’m going to give some serious thought to running a “drop in” service where parents can drop their young kids off so they can run errands. It wouldn’t just be babysitting. It would be more structured than that…a mini-preschool for kids that age. Summer tutoring for school age kids and reliable care for infants and toddlers. It wouldn’t be at the same time. I can only have 4 kids here at a time. I don’t know…it’s just jumbled thoughts at the moment but the thought of it actually happening excites me the way blogging once did.

Maybe when the kids are older or out of the house, I’ll go back to it. Maybe by then Facebook will go back to being nice about letting our stuff be shown to our followers. I mean, they clicked follow because they want our updates, right? And yet only about 43 followers out of 300 saw them.

I just want to thank you all for reading and for commenting and letting me know constantly that I am not alone in one of the hardest jobs out there. People say that friends you make online aren’t “real”. Bull. Some of my very best friends were met through my blog and I intend to keep them. I want to thank you guys for praying when I needed prayers, lending an ear when I needed to vent and making me laugh all the time. I’m not giving up on that Girls’ Spa Weekend. We need to make that happen this summer.

The irony is not lost on me that it’s because of the chaos that I was blogging and now it’s because of the chaos that I am stopping.

Love to you guys always and I’m only an email away. :)

Until we meet again…

Photo courtesy of Jody Byas.

Photo courtesy of Jody Byas.

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Well, Hello There!

I think this has been the longest that I’ve taken a break and as hard as it was,  I’m glad I did. It was well-needed. It became clear that the internet is a “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” type-thing. I missed all of my blogging and Facebook/Twitter friends. I missed writing but I didn’t miss fighting with Gia to get on the computer. I didn’t miss having my kids want my attention and me only being half there because I was thinking of all the things I needed to do. With that being said, there is a part of me that is antsy. It’s been too long.

To catch you up on what’s been happening over here:

Tommy has not had an episode of the red dots since we were told he’d need a biopsy of one of them to see what we are dealing with. That figures, right?

The update on Nico has me confused. I just don’t think we were going to walk away with this experience without the doctors finding something wrong with him and I am not 100% convinced that there is other than normal teenage angst. Does he have ADHD or is he feeling distracted because he is worried about his grades, basketball, and girls? Is he feeling a little depressed because his classes are hard, he’s not enjoying basketball like he once did and some girl keeps leading him on? Well, who that went to high school didn’t feel that way at some point? I am encouraged because he wants to get A’s and B’s and he really wants a job. I don’t know how that would work with basketball at the moment but I don’t care. I just love that getting his grades up and getting a job are his top priority at the moment. Any locals out there that know of jobs that he can do after practice or on weekends (with basketball, it’s a little tight but after basketball, he’s not doing anything other than the football off season workouts), let me know. He’s willing to work hard.

I feel like Belle has had the biggest turnaround since I’ve been on hiatus. She has made me so proud of her. She was hurting and miserable. Sixth grade is so hard. People that you thought you’d be friends with forever suddenly don’t want to be friends anymore. There are all these new people and it is easy to get shoved aside. After several weekends of watching her cry because she was included one day and left out the next and of course it was all over Instagram, she FINALLY listened to me. I told her to hold her head up high, smile at people and make an effort to get to know some girls in her classes. No one should have to try that hard to fit in and when you do that, you lose yourself. I saw her losing herself. I am happy to say that she has had a great break that was completely drama-free! She has made some really good friends and watching them interact like I did with my childhood friends warmed my heart. I do think that her days on Instagram are numbered, though. She had a great break and blasted it all over and I can’t help but think of other girls that didn’t or felt left out. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Social Media in the wrong hands=Devil’s Playground.

Gia…we are still working on taking some of the “Veruca Salt” out of her. She made Christmas fun. We took steps to get her sleeping in her own bed and she is going to be lost when the big kids go back to school…if they ever go back to school. With this winter storm and deep freeze, our schools are closed tomorrow. I’ve already told my kids they are going to be shut in so don’t even think about using it as another day to hang out. Yeah, I know. I’m mean. Nothing brings out the witch in me like a kid saying, “I have a take home test I have to do” or “I need to finish this book and do a book report and I’m only on chapter 1.”

Something happened over here that turned the tides a bit. I am most proud of the fact that I told my kids I was going to do something and I did it. I had been promising that we were going to switch the rooms around. Nico and Tommy were no longer going to share and Tommy was going to move into Gia’s room. Gia was going to share with Belle. Well, in order to do that, I needed to have Gia’s room painted (it was pink). Well, long story short, with the help of my sister Nikki (who completely rocks in all areas of home improvement), Tommy’s room was painted and finished.

Tommy’s room:
















Nico’s Room:

After pt.1




Nico's new room2














Girls’ room:







Gia's side

Gia’s side



Belle's side.

Belle’s side.

It was a productive break for the most part. I have a few blog posts in the works and that feels pretty good. I have a few posts for Ten to Twenty in the works. The holidays were spent with family and New Year’s Day we went to Wisconsin Dells for a few days (post to come). Leo had off the whole two weeks which would have been a great time to take care of things like getting a new furnace (ours works, just shuts off and doesn’t kick back on), getting the garage doors fixed, fixing a few of the broken things around the house but that was not to be. Instead, a bulging disc in his neck sidelined him. If you’ve read “Florence Nightingale, I am Not“, you’ll know how well I handled that.

What about you? What have you been up to? How were your holidays? Tell me one fun thing you did.

P.S. I am a little discouraged that I started typing this Saturday night and am only able to get it posted today. :( It will be better when the kids are in school, right?





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Time to Explain

I honestly would like to go back to the insanity that was summer camps and my only concern was driving back and forth to Wheaton North which is pretty much down the street.

Yesterday, I took Tommy to see a pediatric dermatologist. The bumps are back. They came back on Sunday. He begged me to take him to the hospital so that they could find out what they were and fix them. I couldn’t because if I brought him across the street to the hospital there, they wouldn’t do anything except give him a steroid which he was just on and it’s not good for kids with CF to be on steroids. We put him on it last week because his foot was so bad that there wasn’t much of a choice. I couldn’t take him to Lutheran General because it’s about 45 minutes away and it was snowing on Sunday night and the roads were bad. I know this because it took me 45 minutes to get to my parents’ house and normally it takes me 10 and I slid a couple of times which shaved off about 6 years of my life. Plus…and oh, how I love this one, Leo was leaving for out-of-town later that night (he couldn’t because flights were cancelled but it was scary for a second thinking how much help I’d need if they admitted Tommy if I did get there). So I gave him Advil and talked to our nurse that I love so much. He didn’t go to school Monday and she got us an appointment that thankfully was in Naperville which isn’t too far.


I’ll spare you the details of the hour-long appointment that was filled with the young doctor looking at me in shock and saying, “Wow, you have A LOT on your plate” and just tell you that he needs a biopsy of one of the red bumps. She isn’t 100% sure it is Erythema Nodosum and can only be sure with a biopsy. Tommy was a little unhappy at the process because he said he wanted to make it through his life without stitches. While being anxious at finding out how to treat this once and for all, I find myself in one of those situations that brings me right back to when we found out Nico had CF. Go in thinking it is one thing and come out with something much worse. If you could spare a prayer, that would be so appreciated.


There is a high chance that Nico will be diagnosed with ADHD. If you are shaking your head in wonder or shock, join the club. He was having a lot of trouble in some of his classes (all but one) and thinking it was a learning style/teaching style sort of thing (he is very hands-on/visual and all of his classes this year are lecture type and the one that is hands-on is really, really hard…chemistry), I sent him to his counselor. After talking with him, she suggested that seeing a doctor wouldn’t be a bad thing “to rule out” things that might be causing him to be so frustrated. Somehow, I ended up in a pediatric neuropsychologist’s office for six hours with Nico testing for ADD and depression. And then I ended up in a pediatric psychiatrist’s office with her telling me that she is 95% sure that he has ADHD. I was confused because he’s never shown signs of hyperactivity but she said they don’t really say ADD anymore and that it is under the umbrella of ADHD. His problem is focusing and concentrating and keeping the focus. Put him on a field or a court and all the focus and concentrating is right there. Once in a classroom, he walks out having tried to listen and coming up empty.

chalkboard02                                                                  frowny_face_clip_art_13121

I don’t care if he has ADHD. I don’t care about the label, the IEP, whatever. I just want him to not struggle so much. What scares me and what I am most upset about is the depression part. First, what 15yo kid isn’t somewhat depressed? I think I spent my whole high school career depressed. Friends hurt me, boys hurt me, classes were hard, teachers were jerks and there was a whole lot I wanted that I couldn’t have (freedom, money for the latest trend…). So the question is: What is normal teenage angst and when do you get help? I have a feeling I know why he feels the way he does. I think he has an inner struggle of knowing what to do and doing it. Academically, athletically and socially. He’s frustrated, tired and confused. And you know what? That is life. Life isn’t easy and we don’t just roll over and say, “We’re done.”

Ha! Let me just intervene here and tell you all that I started typing this on Monday after Nico’s doctor’s appointment and then crazy x’s 20 hit and here it is Thursday and I still can’t get it done and right now, I’d like to roll over and say, “I’m done!” I’d like to wave a white flag and say, “That’s it! You wore me down! I’ll be in my bed wrapped in my electric blanket in the fetal position humming the tune, ‘You’ve Had a Bad Day” with a bag of Milano cookies.”

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, yes…life is hard and we have to find ways to deal. On top of all the regular teenage issues, Nico is going through a rebellious phase where being different is the last thing he wants or understands so he bucks the treatment/meds system. Remember what your last sinus infection felt like? That’s Nico’s normal. That would be enough to depress me a bit, wouldn’t you say?


Belle, sweet Belle has had her heart-broken so many times this year that the brick house finally fell on her. She’s regaining her twinkle but the self-doubt that follows after being put through the ringer is exhausting. As a mom, the best feeling is when your kids learn a hard lesson and come out smiling in the end. After many discussions, I am proud of Belle for realizing that her behavior needed to change and then worked hard to change it. The questions that turned things around for her:  “Do you like who you are when you are with that person?” or “Do you feel good after you leave?” If the answer to those questions is, “No” then you need to find other friends.


Why am I explaining all of this? Because I am going on hiatus. I am a Grinch and I don’t need to spread the bah humbugs. I can’t be in the moment because some are scary and some kind of suck. Some are fine one moment and then blow up in my face. I am taking a break from Facebook and the blog and Twitter. Sometimes it just gets to be too much. Information is constantly coming in and I don’t have room in my brain to take it all in. My brain is overflowing with thoughts of biopsies, teenage troubles, ADHD, and the kids’ friends.


I will post again when I find out what is going on with Tommy. If it isn’t before Christmas, have a very Merry Christmas!

If you need me, you can shoot me an email or a text. I’ll still be plugged into them once or twice a day but otherwise, I’m taking a computer vacation and don’t worry, there will be plenty of margaritas on this end so that it will feel like a real vacation. :)



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More Tricks than Treats

I think I’ve said more times than not this month that either the day or the week was kicking my ass and now that October is a day away from being over, I can safely say, this month kicked my ass.

There were some treats:

I became a published author.

button1for meltdown book Grief book coverThe twins turned 12:

Twin 12We got family pictures done (Jody, you are awesome):

Do any of them look like me? C'mon, someone throw me a bone. :)

Do any of them look like me? C’mon, someone throw me a bone. :)

That’s all I could really come up with. I mean, there were small things like football games with interceptions, tackles that amazed me and touchdowns. There was Nico getting pulled up to varsity for the playoffs and… yeah, see…that’s about it.

There were more tricks:

1. Our furnace died.

2. Weird things were happening when I was home alone.

3. This guy was gone A LOT for work and football:

The big one in the middle is the one I am talking about.

The big one in the middle is the one I am talking about.

4. I was backed into in the Target parking lot. I had my old van for almost 12 years and nothing. I’ve had this one for a month and this:

Ended up being just paint so it ended up a treat.

Ended up being just paint so it ended up a treat.

5. I have had a sick kid every single week of this month:

Last week of this month and it's her turn. :(

Last week of this month and it’s her turn. :(

6. Someone has decided that Mommy should never write again and instead should play “work” and “babies” all day long. This leaves the time she is at school to be running errands, doing the endless loads of laundry and making sure the house is clean enough for pop-over visits:

How can I say no?

How can I say no?


So there you have it on the day before Halloween. And yes, I am a party-pooper and cannot stand this holiday. What used to be a fun day and night of cute costumes and trick-or-treating as a family is now another event that kids get their feelings hurt, spend time roaming around the neighborhood hyped up on candy and fighting for them not to wear offensive or slutty costumes (seriously, are there any vampire, fairy or witch costumes that aren’t for wanna-be strippers?).

How was your October? I hope you had more treats. :)

Okay, you’ve seen the kids with Leo and with me. Who looks like who?



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A Meltdown in the Making

This is so fitting that today would be the day that all of this happened. I had a special treat lined up for you all.

One of my blogging friends that has supported me from the beginning is Meredith over at The Mom of the Year. I have looked up to her as a writer because she is seriously hysterical. She, herself, is in the very funny, I Just Want to Pee Alone. I look up to her as a mom because she is a great one. She tells it like it is and has us laughing our @sses off. She’s one of the friends I see myself sitting by a pool drinking margaritas with at some point. Today, Meredith did me the honor of reviewing The Mother of All Meltdowns. To read her fabulous review click the button below:

The Mom of the Year
See, this post was supposed to be in your inboxes this morning at 7. Why wasn’t it, you ask? Because while I was in the middle of writing it, my internet went down. And did it save the post? No, it did not. I finally got my internet back at around 3:00. After the minor meltdown over the lost post, something meltdown worthy happened to drag me away from rewriting the post: a creepy stranger came to my door. He looked shady so I grabbed Gia and hid in the kitchen but not before I saw him crouch down and look in my house from under the Halloween decal on my door. I thought it was someone putting their advertisement on my door but when I checked, nothing was there. Around 4:15, my one neighbor called and asked if a strange guy came to my door. Apparently, he went to her house, her son said she was busy and couldn’t go to the door and he said, “Well, tell them the power is going to be out for a few days.” He wasn’t in any sort of uniform. It had me a little freaked out. The other neighbor and I called 911 and reported it because it all felt wrong.
The police came and did a drive-thru but what the heck?? Either way it’s not good. It’s either some strange guy looking in people’s houses or my power is going to be out a few days.
Oh, and we need a new furnace…like I only have heat once in a while and not at night. Lucky for me, I called Tom from Chris Mechanical Services and he came out and checked it and temporarily fixed the problem or at least made it so that the heat clicks on faster than it was when it turned off. He even came back in to deal with something that I am not sure but think was semi-related and sounded dangerous. I went out and got a new carbon monoxide detector and cleaned in case I had to call the fire department. Wouldn’t want them to see that I am a Target bag away from a Hoarders episode. If you are local and looking for someone to come out and check your furnace, I highly recommend them.
Anyway before I turn this into a full-fledged meltdown, go read Meredith’s review over at The Mom of the Year. It was the highlight of my day!


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This week is kicking my ass. I mean, seriously. Have you noticed that I haven’t been around? Maybe a little on Facebook, not at all on Twitter and sparingly on other blogs? Well, I’ll tell you why in what will end up being a late post because I had to drive Nico and his friends to school and the twins decided to go back to bed after I woke them up before I left. I got home to find that the twins had 10 minutes to get to the bus and they were still in bed. With a lot of yelling and screaming, they made the bus. Gia didn’t want to get up for school so that made us late for that. I went to breakfast with a friend that I miss terribly and then went to my mom’s retirement party.

Sunday started with a missed football game to take Belle to Convenient Care because she had a fever, sore throat and upset stomach…all the symptoms she has when she has strep throat. The rapid test came out negative but the doctor said her symptoms plus white patches on her throat is classic and we probably caught it too early or she didn’t have the kind of strep that the rapid test picks up. They put her on the easiest antibiotic, once a day Zithromax (the liquid because she doesn’t take pills). It doesn’t matter what they put her on. The minute we picked up the meds, she refused to take them. She, instead, sat on the couch moaned and cried, “Why me?” Admittedly, I suck when the kids are sick which is ironic since we have two kids that battle a chronic illness. My mom was the best when I was sick. She’d roll the TV in my room, make me tea, stay up with me, and do whatever she could to make me feel better. I did not get this “nurse” gene. I can me as sympathetic as the next person if my kids or Leo take their medicine or see a doctor. I can’t seem to drum up any sympathy for kids or husbands that moan and cry (kids, not Leo) that they are so sick and they feel so awful while not going to the doctor or taking the meds that the doctor gave them to feel better.

Belle was home Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Monday and Tuesday, she added, “I’m never going to catch up,” “I’m going to fail my classes” and “I’m going to have so much homework.” In case those weren’t dramatic enough, she added, “Why me? Why am I always sick?”

Tuesday, Nico came home from football and told us his iPhone was stolen from the athletic locker room. He swears he locked his locker but can’t remember for sure. They took his phone and his lock. Two weeks ago, he put his football gloves (not cheap football gloves, mind you) down and went to the bathroom. When he came back, they were gone. Someone stole them. Here’s the thing: I get that you have to watch your stuff. I get that it’s on him for not locking his locker or leaving his stuff unattended but I’m pretty sure he never thought a fellow football player was going to steal from him. The phone could have happened when they were at practice so maybe it wasn’t another player but the gloves? They were. What the Hell is wrong with people? It is infuriating that whomever did this thought nothing of taking what wasn’t his (I can only assume it’s a boy since both were taken in the boys’ locker room). Boys have been heard bragging about things they have taken and all I can say is that I hope Karma is a bitch and I hope she bites them right in the ass.

This leads to the endless calls to AT&T. I put a freeze on the phone so it can’t be used even with a different SIM card. We bought the insurance but what do you know? There is a $200 deductible that Leo had no idea there was. Each time I talk to someone new, they tell me something new. One person was going to waive the upgrade fee but I had to see if Nico wanted another kind of phone for two years. Of course, he was at practice. The next person said he didn’t know what the other person was talking about. He couldn’t waive the upgrade fee but he saw that if we went with the insurance, he could get his 4s replaced with a 5. I decide that is what I want to do so I go to the AT&T store and what do you know? They can’t do that. It has to be replaced with another 4s.  He is so upset at learning the hard lesson of backing things up. He didn’t so he lost all of his contacts and pictures and videos. Luckily he has all of his songs (I think) on the computer but since he falls asleep to his music, he hasn’t been able to sleep. It’s not even just that. It’s a violation. I feel sick because he didn’t lose it. He didn’t break it. It was stolen.

It is scary how attached kids are to their phones. Really, it’s not just kids that are attached. I hate when I don’t have my phone. I feel anxious and out of it which are two things he is feeling right now.  I pray that the kid that took it, suddenly has an attack of morals and his conscience guides him to return it (every time I say that, I get laughed at…teens willingly returning something and owning up to what they did is apparently unheard of) or he gets caught and the punishment will be less if he returns what he stole from the lockers. Either way, it’s a long shot.

Leo is traveling, everyone has practice this week, the homework load is unbelievable, the house looks like a bomb went off, I’m pretty sure my kids are going Commando because I haven’t been able to get to the laundry and I have to find a sitter for Nico’s away game that is far. On top of that, I am fighting off some sort of infection so I really feel like I could sleep for a week or at the very least, take a sledgehammer to whomever is pounding the little drum in my head. Writing has not been possible.

Anyway, I’m overwhelmed but I miss all of you. I’m hoping to catch up this weekend.

How have you all been? What do you do when you are overwhelmed? Wine? Chocolate? Hide in a corner?


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Five Things

I know that lately it seems like I am always on the move but I swear this time it is my blog’s fault. I want to do a picture post of Homecoming weekend but I can’t get pictures to post. This is why I never update anything. Just when I think I figure it out and even feel like I know what I am doing most of the time, they go and change it. I cringe every time I press the “update” button.

Anyway, since I can’t do the picture post until I figure it out, I am going to direct you to a post I did on our book’s website.

Five Things That Cause Meltdowns

I’m pretty proud of it because:

1. It’s a post of several rants all wrapped up in one.

2. It’s one of my shorter ones.

3. I managed to keep it to 5 because if you know me, and you’ve witnessed or read about my meltdowns, you know I could have come up with a lot more. :)

Come take a look. I guarantee you’ll be able to relate.

To purchase The Mother of All Meltdowns, you can click on the sidebar and it will take you right to Amazon. If you’ve read it, we’d love it if you’d review it.

If you’ve read it and would like to do a guest post/review on here, please email me. I’d love to have you!

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