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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Why I Let My Son Bring His Girlfriend on Vacation With Us and Other Tidbits

If  anyone had asked me years ago if I would have immediately said yes when my teenage son asked if his girlfriend could come on vacation with us, I would have laughed and then hemmed and hawed and probably would have said no. Things have really changed since the days of how I thought I’d parent.

When he asked me, I thought about it…hmmm…what kind of kid would he be in front of his girlfriend? Would he be the brother that aggravates his sisters until they cry? Would he be the teenage boy who is still fascinated by the sounds coming from every orifice of his body? Would he be the moody, sullen boy that makes sure the whole family knows he would rather be someplace else? Or…would he be on his best behavior? Would he be happy because he’d have no reason to be moody or sullen because she was with us?

I did not enjoy the cruise or the Bahamas. It was too much work for two days on a boat and a few hours on the beach in the Bahamas (more on that in a second). I did enjoy my older son and his girlfriend. I saw a side of him that as a mom, made my heart swell with pride. He pulled her chair out, he opened doors and made sure she didn’t want or need anything. The best part? They were with us the whole time. I thought he’d want them to go off and do their own thing but we did all the meals together, sat by the pool together and went to the beach together. I feel like we got to know her and we see why he cares for her so much. I’ve made it no secret that my daughter has had a rough middle school experience and his girlfriend really took her under her wing and made her feel special. So much so that when we were at the beach, I had to tell her to leave the couple alone while they walked in the sand (Not that I am complaining that she was like Velcro to the happy couple). If I had a chance to do it again, I would in a heartbeat.


How he asked her to prom. :)

How he asked her to prom. :)

The actual vacation? Well…

The first part  wasn’t bad. We arrived in Boca Raton around midnight so all we did was go to sleep. The next day, we went to the pool for most of the day ( I was super responsible this trip and didn’t burn…I didn’t get tan either which was a bummer but adding another doctor to our pay roll was enough of a reason to be responsible). The kids drove me a little crazy wanting to be tan and asking which sun screen should they put on and how long before it dries and what will let them tan but not make them burn. Leo and I had a long overdue date night while the in-laws fed the kids and took them for ice cream. When I went downstairs after getting ready, there was an immediate rush of compliments about what I was wearing. Apparently, I dress like crap normally. I wanted to say, “See what a shower and clothes without stains does for a person?”

The cruise to the Bahamas? Ummm…how can I put this? It was a freaking disaster (and here we go). One disaster after another. I didn’t want to go in the first place. I get sea sick. I’ve tried everything but nothing works for me. I’ve been on  three cruises before this one and several dinner cruises and I’ve gotten sick on every one of them.  I was adamant about this, saying that I didn’t want to spend vacation sick in a cabin with Gia and the next thing I know, we are booked for a two night cruise. :( That shows you how much weight I carry around here. I’ve come to the conclusion that it must be a lot easier to argue with me than it is to argue with others. No one told us we needed a notarized letter from Nico’s girlfriend’s mom saying we could take her out of the country. Once that was settled, we got on the boat and tried to buy dress pants for Tommy because surprise, surprise, he forgot his. He claims I said he didn’t need them but since I bought them solely for the cruise, it’s not likely that I said that. There weren’t any pants to be bought (the store was closed anyway). Gia wanted to go swimming but we forgot her arm floats. Guess what a cruise to the Bahamas doesn’t sell? Arm Floats.

"I don't like cruises!"

“I don’t like cruises!”

It was insanely crowded and we couldn’t find a seat by the pool. When we finally did, they closed the pools because we had to go inside for some safety talk. Gia had fries for lunch because it was the only thing she recognized. There were no strawberries or chicken fingers and the orange juice wasn’t actually orange juice. Finding water that wasn’t bottled (and expensive) was difficult. We got all dressed up to go to dinner, snuck Tommy in by distracting the maitre d’ and right before dessert, Tommy, Gia and I had to go back to the cabin because we were sick. We played a lot of “Go Fish”, “War” and “Crazy Eights”.

Sea Sick

Sea Sick

The next day we were docked and planned to go to the beach. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my wallet. I completely freaked out, tore my room apart, checked the welcome desk but had to get off the boat to go to the Bahamas (sunglasses came in handy). We walked off the boat and were greeted by locals wanting to show us around the island. My in-laws thought that would be a good idea. The rest of us kept saying, “Let’s just go to the beach.” Next thing I know, I am sitting in the very back seat of a 1970 Conversion Van with no air (conditioner or wind) reaching Gia and me. What did we see? We saw devastation and poverty. I have been to the Bahamas before and it was beautiful so I am really not sure what that tour was. We finally got to the beach, stood in line for a much-needed Pina Colada and found a spot to settle in. Because I didn’t have my wallet, I was distracted and worried. I really felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was watching my family having fun and I didn’t have it in me to join in. And then, the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak, (Warning: TMI), while sitting on the beach, I got a little surprise that no woman ever wants while at the beach. When we got back on the boat, Leo found my wallet in a safe in another room and that began me putting things away and then not finding them. I hate when I do that and I seem to do it a lot.

Everyone raves about the food on a cruise but I am a Lou Malnati’s, Pot Belly, yoga pants wearing girl (okay, girl is a stretch) so I had a hard time finding something to eat. The Pina Coladas were good.

Back in Florida we went to the pool, went to dinner, Leo and I went back to the first restaurant that we went to because it was that good and went to Barnes and Noble.

I learned a very valuable lesson: I don’t need adventure in my life. I need relaxation. I will never again complain about going to my in-laws on Spring Break.

If you are friends with me on FB, you have already seen this picture but we took it at Easter and it’s the most recent one.

Family Easter 2

I’ve had a few posts in the drafts folder for a few weeks now and keep rewriting and rewriting. I’ll give you a few hints: girls are mean, insurance sucks, standardized testing is dumb and I’ve had my fill of doctors.

What’s something you said you’d never do as a parent that you find yourself doing?

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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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For the New Parents of a Teenager

I was blindsided. No one told me. I was going along doing my thing, thinking I have the hang of it and BAM! Everything I do is wrong. Suddenly, I am in the middle of a tornado, earthquake, blizzard and flood all at the same time. The energy sucked right out of me. Anxiety at levels I’ve never felt. Left in the path of destruction not knowing what the Hell I am doing.

Was I in an accident? No. I am the mother of a teenager.

I don’t want other parents to go into this unarmed with the knowledge that I didn’t have. Maybe if I warn them, it won’t feel like an ambush when they get here. I’ve come up with a few things I wish I had known. *Disclaimer: Not all teens are like this and I am not saying they are.

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Image courtesy of Ambro /

1. They suddenly live like vampires. They are tired all the time and want to sleep during the day when they should be awake and they want to be up at night when they should be asleep. No matter how tired they are, they are up late at night. It’s funny how they can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 1:00am watching Friends’ reruns but ask them to do homework at 2:00pm on a Sunday and they can’t keep their eyes open. This leads to:

2. They are slow. Painfully slow. Oh, if they have plans, they will speed by you in a blur to get out of the house but try to get them out of bed or upstairs to bed and you will see a pace that is similar to the snail or sloth. When asked to do anything around the house, it takes them twice as long to do it. I really think in my case, he is hoping that I’ll get frustrated enough that I’ll just do it myself. I can’t remember if Nico, Belle and Tommy were hard to wake up in elementary school. It’s all a blur but now…there are no words for what our mornings are like.

3. They are never home. Never. I have one that is active in athletics so a lot of times he has a good reason for not being home. He is at practice or a game. However, the times he doesn’t have those things, he makes sure he is somewhere besides home. Suddenly everywhere is better than home. They will choose to wander the streets or sit in a parking lot over just coming home (and maybe going to bed at a decent hour). Things that they used to enjoy doing with the family, they now complain about not wanting to do. Anything that takes them away from their friends is a miserable experience. They will choose sitting in that parking lot doing nothing over sitting by a pool in Florida at their grandparents’ house over Spring Break. It is mind-boggling.

4. They lose things. I have more faith in my 4-year-old coming home with the sweatshirt she left the house in than I do my 15-year-old. They especially can’t find things when their ride is sitting in the driveway. And it will always be your fault that they can’t find whatever they are looking for. You might hear things like, “Where did you put my thingy with the (insert school mascot) on it? I just had it here. You must have moved it.” First of all, I have no idea what the “thingy” is. Once, I thought it was a water bottle but it turned out to be a hat. Second, PUT IT AWAY and you’ll know where it is! They need everything they own in plain sight otherwise they will forget they have it which brings me to the next one.

5. They are forgetful. I’m not sure how, on a four-day weekend, one forgets that he has math homework but you’d be surprised how many times that happens. A coach might tell them what time they have to be back at school for practice and ten minutes later, no one can remember what time he said. That my friends is a true story. There are times when they will use this to their advantage, say when you tell them what time to come home or when you ask them to do chores.

6. They will mess up. This was the hardest one for me. You will think it is the end of the world and that you have failed as a parent but it’s not and you haven’t. This is the time for them to learn for themselves what is right and what is wrong. You can repeat something over and over again hoping that they will just take your word for it but more than likely, they need to experience it to really understand it. For example, you can tell your teen a hundred times that it is wrong to go in a stranger’s pool but it won’t be until the cops are called and he’s hauled in with us having to pick him up from the station that he really got that it was wrong (he got off with a warning).

7. They will suck the money right out of you. I am amazed at how much money my kids constantly nickel and dime me. It is $5 here and $10 there and oh, I only have a $20 and I want the change but I never see it again. There is no such thing as, “I can’t go. I don’t have the money.” Instead, it’s, “Can you spot me and I’ll pay you back?” I’m still trying to figure out what he does around here that warrants all the money he spends. For the older teen, there is the constant eating out, the movies, away school games, and so on. For the tweens, you can’t send them to a friend’s house with no money in case the parents take them somewhere like the movies, open gym, CVS and so on. I need to find a system that works. At least with the tweens, they earn it. Belle babysits Gia for me and Tommy does many chores around the house.

It’s not all bad. You’ll have real conversations where what you are saying still matters to them. They’ll ask your advice and then take it when you least expect it. There will be moments when you’ll recognize the little boy or little girl who once was and they’ll ask to cuddle or for a hug. There will be a constant pushing you away/pulling you close that if you aren’t careful, you’ll miss the pulling you close moments because you’re still mad at the pushing away ones.

There is no feeling like that of being out of control of a situation and that of raising teens. For a control freak like myself, it’s been a huge struggle. You want to keep them safe like you always have but they fight you on it all and you realize you can’t anymore. You spent so much time making sure you got a safe car with a top of the line car seat so that they’d be safe in the car and then suddenly, their friends are driving or they are driving and you can’t control whether they stay safe. You make them three balanced meals every day when they are little and then they are so “on the go” that you have no idea when the last time they ate was. You’ll think you know your kid so well and then they’ll do something (good or bad) and you’ll look at them and wonder who the heck they are? You’ll have moments of immense pride and moments of huge disappointments and realize that they are their moments. They are their own people making their own decisions and we can no longer control what they decide. It’s a constant learning experience and it is exhausting.

It does not escape me that I only have two more years with Nico until he goes off to college (please, dear God let him go off to college) and I really do think life works so that when the time comes, you are ready to let them go off into their world where they are going to need to make it without you holding their hand all the time. I, for one, cannot wait until Nico has to get himself up for his first college class because I won’t be their stressing out that he’s going to be late or he is going to make someone else late. It’s the age-old irony: I can’t wait until he is out of the house doing things on his own and I am going to miss him so much that it hurts to think about it. I am sure when the time comes, I will be begging for a little more time with him before it all changes and he’ll look at me and say, “See, I told you that you were going to miss me.”

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad’s birthday and I know I’ve talked about him on here before but I feel the need to today so if you have read this before, I apologize for repeating myself. :)

My earliest memory of my dad was when I was three years old and had the chicken pox. I was on the phone with him and he told me if I didn’t scratch, he’d buy me a white dress. I loved that dress. I remember thinking it was the prettiest dress I had ever seen. I wish I would have kept it.

Memories after that are sporadic:

I remember him taking me with him to scout basketball games and him taking me to McDonald’s afterwards.

I remember him showing up at my school for the school-wide “Dad’s visit” and me running up to him so excited that he was there.

I remember him taking me out of school to get my weekly allergy shot but after, he didn’t take me back to school. He took me on one of his school’s field trips to a Cub’s game.

I remember going to junior high dances and everyone going to McDonald’s after and looking across the restaurant and seeing my dad sitting there. (This is not my favorite memory, by the way, but now that I am a parent, I get it.)

I remember playing volleyball and cheering and seeing him in the stands.

I remember him feeling bad that I had plans that fell through (because when you date guys that are athletes… not all athletes…there is always a pick-up game somewhere or a game to watch) and him saying, “Don’t go out. Stay here with your dear old dad.” Somehow just him saying that made me feel better.

I remember the look of pride on his face when he got me a summer job teaching in his district and I rocked it.

I remember the night before my wedding him asking me to sit outside with him and talk and me being so tired but not wanting the moment to end so I stayed until he fell asleep (he loved to fall asleep outside in the backyard).

I remember being aggravated that he went golfing the morning of my wedding and showing up late for pictures but then seeing the emotion in his face when he saw me. I remember him staring at me in the limo on the way to the church and saying, “My baby is getting married.” I remember the priest asking him what he wanted to say to Leo and me on this day and him breaking down and only being able to say, “She found a good one.”

I remember the look on his face when he held Nico the first time and him looking over at me saying, “My first grandson.”

I remember when I got invited to go to New York on the NFL’s dime because of my blog and him saying, “You have to go. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You have to go and I’ll babysit.”

I am the luckiest girl in the world because I get to sit at all my boys’ games with my dad. We talk about the game, the kids and life in general. I cherish those moments and feel so blessed after I leave. I hope he knows what a gift he gives my boys, Leo and me by going.

Leo lost his dad to cancer when he was 23 and my dad has never tried to replace him but he loves Leo like a son and I know Leo has appreciated and loved my dad for being someone he can look up to.

He’s my safety zone, my voice of reason, my rock and my hero. I love him with all my heart.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Oh, if I could do it over again, I would have had a different dress and different hair.

Oh, if I could do it over again, I would have had a different dress and different hair.

P.S. Mom, yours is coming in July and I promise I’ll use the picture from your phone. 😉

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On a Scale of 1-10

My godfather is my Uncle Ric. He’s my dad’s first cousin and since they were both only children, they grew up like brothers. The holidays, Christmas Eve, Easter and Father’s Day were spent with my dad’s side of the family (Father’s Day was shared) and Uncle Ric was always there. The adults would play cards. It was a tradition. Not Uncle Ric and Uncle Gerry. They chose to hang out with us kids. The conversations were always interesting and they usually began with Uncle Ric saying, “On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel about Christmas Eve?” We’d laugh and answer him and that always led to more and bigger discussions.

As I get older, one thing that becomes increasingly clear is how important family is. I am one of the lucky ones. I have great parents and had a great childhood filled with love, laughter and problems that were small (one car garage for 4 cars, never having any privacy and having to talk on the phone while in the closet to name a few). On top of that I had extended family that not only loved each other but liked each other as well and spent a lot of time together as a result.

As a kid, you think those moments are going to last forever. They don’t. People change. Life happens. Holiday celebrations change. Sometimes people grow apart and sometimes they grow closer. A godfather and a god-daughter go from being uncle and niece to friends.

When I think back on my relationship with Uncle Ric, a few memories come to mind:

1. For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard the story of how Uncle Ric was at the hospital the day I was born. I was the first child born on that side so I’m guessing it was probably a big deal. I know when my niece Natalie was born, we all raced to the hospital because it was so exciting that our family was growing.

2. I remember one Christmas I was sick and couldn’t go to my grandma and grandpa’s house. I was so bummed. I was very much into Barbies at the time and when my dad came home, he had a gift for me from my Uncle Ric (and Auntie Alice). It was the Barbie cruise ship . God, how I loved that ship. I remember thinking I had the coolest godfather ever!

3. Uncle Ric has the best laugh. It can be heard from across the room and you can’t help but laugh along with him. Hearing that laugh after saying something funny is the best feeling because you know there will be a chain reaction of more laughing.

4. I’ve never admitted this to anyone and it’s odd to do it here but I think it is too important not to mention. When we did the CF fundraiser, I gave a speech. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Year after year. I gained the courage by having my boys stand up at the podium with me. It was selfish of me. I thought I was making them feel special. Uncle Ric called me and asked if I thought about what that might be doing to them. That it might be detrimental to have a whole room staring at them while I am at the podium crying. I was offended and I remember saying, “I would never do anything to hurt my kids and I think I know what’s best for them.” Two years later, and I’m still ashamed to admit it, I realized he was right. He was so right. I watched the video of the event and I saw Nico up there struggling so much. Why didn’t I see that? How could I not have known? I told Nico I was sorry and we stopped doing the fundraiser shortly after that. The image of Nico up there still haunts me. I should have listened to Uncle Ric.

5. Twelve years ago, Uncle Ric started taking us to dinner every couple of months. I cannot tell you how much I absolutely love this tradition. We go to a lovely restaurant and spend the afternoon (or evening) talking and catching up. It was through these lunches that I learned about his time as a student in Italy. It’s at these lunches that I have felt encouraged with my writing. He makes Leo and I feel like the best parents and who doesn’t love that? He listens and I never feel judged. I listen and love how we have a genuine interest in each others’ lives.

This Christmas, Uncle Ric went above and beyond. The memory he has given my family is one that I will feel giddy each time I think about it. He surprised us with a phone call right after Christmas. He heard us talking on Christmas Eve about Nico getting his license and how he might be getting my in-laws’ car. It wasn’t for sure and I was saying that I would want to trade it in for one with 4 wheel drive. It was mostly Nico talking to my sister and I think Uncle Ric overheard it. He called and said he was in the market for a new car and would like to give his Jeep Liberty to Nico! Can you believe that? My jaw dropped in shock. He was going to give Nico his car! I still don’t even know what to say or how you even thank someone for that. We said yes and went and picked it up this past weekend.

See, here is the thing. Leo and I didn’t get a car when we turned 16 so Nico having a car was never about “everyone else has one”. Nico having a car is all about making our lives easier. Uncle Ric gave us the gift of ease. Nico is so active that I spend A LOT of time driving him places. If he has a car, he can be out with friends and if I need him to pick up Belle or Tommy, he can.

There is another gift I am not sure he knows he gave us. Not only has Nico been smiling a lot more but he is taking the responsibility seriously. It’s what propelled his want for a job. It’s made him think about his future which is making him care about his grades. I’m seeing him mature right before my eyes. He’s not all the way there but he’s at least joined the race. :)

Uncle Ric, if you are reading this, thank you. A million times, thank you! I am so lucky to have you in my life as an endless supporter of my dreams and an endless supporter of me.

And in case you are wondering, in my book, on a scale of 1-10, you are a 20! I love you!

Nico and Uncle Ric

Nico and Uncle Ric


Thanks, Shell for letting me:



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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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Better Late Than Never (Picture Post)

This is late but it’s not entirely my fault. For one, my blog wouldn’t let me upload pictures. And second, there was the promoting of TWO books…a dream come true. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, there are still a few sales going on.

If you want to laugh or feel like you are not alone in the craziness of motherhood, click here:

button1for meltdown bookIf you want to read how women in a club they don’t want to be in triumphed over tragedy or if you know anyone that could benefit from women that went through what they are going through, click here:

Grief book cover


Okay, now after those shameless plugs comes the part that is better late than never–Homecoming Pictures:


Kickoff. Nico's #31.

Going over the defensive game plan.

Going over the defensive game plan.











He cleans up well. :)


The whole gang.

The whole gang.









Just the guys with some football sign.


Best buds since 4th grade.

Best buds since 4th grade.












OMG, I'm short.

OMG, I’m short.



There you have it. Homecoming done for this year. One more game left in the football season. It’s been a wild ride.


P.S. I’m hoping to get back to my normal schedule of blogging and reading. If anyone knows where I can get a gadget that will stop time so I can get stuff done, that would help a lot. :)




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Some Favorite Words

This weekend was insanely busy. If ever there was a weekend that needed a day between Sunday and Monday, it was this weekend. The kids had off of school on Friday. Nico had an away game and Belle had a cheer competition. Saturday, Belle had another cheer event and Tommy had a game. It was our turn to bring snack, which of course meant a trip to Target for this procrastinator  a half hour before the game (went in for Gatorade and $120 later, I was out of there because I just had to get a few bins, some sweats, a few snacks and some things to keep Gia occupied at the game among other things). Saturday night, Leo and I had a surprise party that we thought we had a sitter for but turns out we instead had to pull out all the stops in order to go (so glad we did). Sunday, there was church and my sister’s for dinner. Along the way, there were a few words that were said that stuck in my head and made me smile when I thought about them. I’ve decided to share some with you to start off this week feeling happy:

“Gia is being so good.” (This was said at the cheer competition and again at the restaurant.)

“First place and a bid to state goes to…Wheaton Rams!”

“I think I’d rather be a leader than a follower.”

“She (the girl he asked to Homecoming) really liked the flowers and the way I asked.” (Since he scrapped the first idea and came to me for a different one, I felt especially proud.)

“That’s hilarious!”

“Yes, bring Gia here.” (Thanks, Mom.)

“Thanks, Mom.” (Said by Belle because I really do understand what it feels like to be a middle school girl.)

“I had so much fun hanging out with you. We should get together again.”

“So glad you made it out.”

“I love your blog.”

“I start my work day with your blog.”

“It’s my pleasure.” (This was said after I thanked Tommy for getting up early and going to church with me. It cracked me up.)

“Church makes me feel good.” (Said by Belle.)

“Wow, Mom. You’re really smart.” (Said by Nico while I was helping him with homework.)

“I love you more than Beanie Boos.” (This is the highest compliment from Gia at the moment.)

“You’re the best Mommy.” (Said by Gia after a really, really long weekend right before she fell asleep.)

So when later on in the week I am complaining about all of the mean things spewing out of my children’s mouths, you can remind me of this post.

What about you? Anything said to you this weekend that you’d like to remember because it made you smile?


 *Happy Birthday, Leo! I know today is your birthday but your post will be on Weds. Love you!


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Total Retraction

I wrote a post yesterday that I hate. I took it down because I sounded ungrateful. If you already read it, I’m sorry. I can only say I was caught at a moment when I was sitting in this house among many things that need to be fixed and was mad because I didn’t even know what to start with or how to start. Instead of whining about things that are old or new or husbands that don’t like change, I am going to turn lemons into lemonade.

1. I am finally getting a new car. It’s not new but it’s new to me and since I’ve had my Chevy Venture a lot longer than I should have and since it has been deemed a death trap (mostly by me), this a really good thing. What is even better is that it is a Honda Odyssey and I’ve wanted one forever. I am just happy that I’ll have a car that gets me from point A to point B without breaking down and there will be a DVD player to keep Gia occupied during the thousand carpools I’ll be in.

2. I would like to move. I want to move because what I thought I wanted in a house eight years ago has changed. That being said, this house has great potential and is in a great neighborhood. We haven’t done anything to it other than a few murals on the wall and Gia’s room so I need to start looking at some changes we can make to make this feel like it is our house instead of the owners before us. I’m excited to sit down with Leo and talk about some of the things we can do right now to keep my boredom and desire to move at bay.

3. Leo doesn’t like change and has a hard time letting go of things. Instead of wishing this was different, I am going to be thankful that when I am old and broken down, he will still not want to get rid of me. :) I’m not sure he’ll do much to fix me but at least he won’t want to trade me in for a new model.

4. Tommy is fully recovered from his concussion. The fact that he waits until he is five minutes late to try to find his uniform is not going to take away from the fact that I am grateful he is okay.

5. I am going to be grateful that Belle worked hard this weekend and spent the weekend the way she wanted. I’m going to ignore the fact that wherever there is a group of girls, drama is sure to follow.

6. Nico played a decent game and his team won on Friday night. I am going to try to forget that his nerves got the best of him this week, the pressure was on and he was in the worst mood all week long.

7. I love the time I spend with Gia. She reminds me to slow down and enjoy every moment. I am going to ignore the fact that if she could crawl back in the womb, she would.

8. I am grateful to all of you reading! I truly, truly appreciate all the love and support you throw my way!

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

What are your lemons you are turning into lemonade?


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