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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Back to the Old Queen

When I first started blogging, I used the blog as a way to vent. It felt goooood. Maybe it wasn’t the best writing and some people felt like it was airing “dirty laundry” or being a Negative Nelly but most of the responses were from wives and mothers saying, “Yes! I get it! Same here!” I got slammed for some things I said about Leo but he read every post and if he said, “Don’t post it,” I wouldn’t post it. Most times he would laugh because it was all true. Some things I was afraid to post because you never know who’s reading.

As time went on, I was afraid people would interpret the rants as me not being happily married or not being happy being a mom and that wasn’t my intent. I held back. A LOT. Here and there, I’d post things that were broken and yes, maybe point them Leo’s way but in a joking sort of way.

1. I am happily married.

2. 90% of the time.

3. I love being a mom.

4. 90% of the time.

I’m going to rant. Hard.

I believe marriage should be about loving, supporting and taking care of each other. We have the first two down. We need to work on the third. We are supposed to be a team helping to make each other’s lives easier. We are sucking at that right now. We both need to step up and be better for each other. I am not requiring much, I swear. I just want the furnace to work, the garage to be fixed and to not always be the bad cop. We need to get back to it being a balance of us doing our own things, us doing things together and us doing things as a family.

And that brings me to the second rant. When I thought of my kids playing sports, I saw us as a family going and supporting that child and being their biggest cheerleader. When they were younger, there were family outings with other families and life was good. Then Nico went to high school and Tommy and Belle got older and our “family life” is non-existent. Nico missed Gia’s birthday party because he had a fundraising basketball game he had to go to. Here’s the thing. He might have been able to ask to miss it but he FELT like he couldn’t. He’s been benched for missing a practice for a doctor’s appointment that I couldn’t reschedule. The whole reason I scheduled it then was because there was no practice on the schedule. We wanted to go to Florida after Christmas but couldn’t because Nico had a tournament. We might not be able to go on our annual family vacation with my family because Tommy is going to Cooperstown for baseball. Secretly, I was happy Nico stopped playing baseball because that meant we’d still be able to go away for spring break.

Years ago, someone said, “Your kid is good at this” and the windfall of money and time were sucked right out of us. I know that it is a privilege and I know they love it. That’s why we continue to do it but my God (and yes, I am talking to Him), I am becoming so resentful of sports. I cringe when I have to do anything outside of going to watch my kids play. I know it is necessary but it’s just one more thing in a string of things I have to do or we have to do that takes time away from us being together as a family.  This is our life and for years I embraced it. Now, I find myself pulling away from it. Maybe I’m jaded. Everyone says, “Wait until high school. It’s so different.” They were right.

I cannot stand winter. I hate it with every part of my being and once again wonder why in the Hell I stay somewhere that makes me this unhappy. I am sure I am on everyone’s last nerve with my fear of driving in this weather but I’ve said it before and will say it again, I feel paralyzed and my kids’ social lives are the least of my priorities and the kids have paid a price because of it. Belle more than the others. Kids don’t always want to come here and with the garage and the weather, I am too tired to deal with it all. I’ve missed more of Nico and Tommy’s games this year than any other. I love when we have snow days because we sleep in and have no schedule to adhere to but I really miss the days when it meant that everyone was stuck in their own houses. We are all driving each other crazy with cabin fever and I’m so sick of hearing, “Can I hang out?” Hmmm…let’s see. NO! Maybe I should look at it differently and drive them all where they want to go so that I can finally get some writing done. But then I have to figure out how I am going to get them all home. :(

My last rant is a few rants all rolled up into one and they all involve raising kids. Everyone does what they need to for their kids. Parents switch schools, switch teams, throw parties, have sleepovers…whatever. Why is it so wrong when I want to? One phrase that I have been hearing a lot lately is, “Oh, they are a bad influence.” Really? I always thought my kids were responsible for their own choices. If someone is influencing them to make bad choices and they are going ahead and making them, then that’s on them. Yes, there are kids that rub me the wrong way but thinking that if they aren’t a part of my kid’s life will magically make my kid make good choices is really just another way of saying, “Not my kid.” If I’ve learned one thing with this whole motherhood gig, it’s that saying, “My kid would never do that,” is the fastest way to look like a fool.

Oh, and I loathe Instagram. Not for me. For teens and tweens. HATE IT!

You know what I would love for people to remember?

There are two sides to every story and then there is the truth. ~ Mark Twain

I’ve missed you guys. I keep saying once the kids are in school, I’ll be back to posting more frequently but they haven’t been able to stay in school!

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5 Things I’m Loving, 5 Things I’m Hating

In an effort to be more positive (God, help me…I’m trying), I am going to start off this post with five things I’m loving at the moment.

1. I finally got a new phone thanks to my sister, Chrissy and my brother-in-law, Ricky. I FINALLY have an iPhone. My piece of poop Pantech Burst was the most frustrating phone I have ever had. I would choose not to have a smart phone over having that phone again.

2. I am loving that Gia is completely obsessed with the app, My Tom (some cat game) and it is only on Leo’s phone (on purpose). The thing I love most is that you have to feed the cat throughout the day so it doesn’t die and Leo does it while he is at work so that Gia’s little heart isn’t crushed. She has him totally wrapped around her little finger.

3. The TV show, Modern Family. Why have I not ever watched this? I’m catching it on USA right after Law and Order: SVU and I am laughing out loud. Gloria, Jay and Manny seriously crack me up and Mitchell with his dry sense of humor…I am loving this show.

4. THAT TOMMY IS BETTER!!!!! For those that are not on Facebook, this is what his foot looked like on Monday:

Doesn't it look like a latex glove blown up?

Doesn’t it look like a latex glove blown up?

5. My sister, Gina and my brother-in-law, Deo. I need to give these guys a special shout out. I needed to get away this past weekend and they invited my girls and I (the boys all had practice or games) up to Chicago with them. It was exactly what I needed. The margarita at dinner didn’t hurt, either. Sometimes when you are in the middle of a feeling like you are in quicksand, someone comes and offers you a branch. That’s what they did. Being with my nieces and my nephew reminded me of what true, unconditional love feels like. No, “I hate you!” “You’re mean!” or “Your rules are so dumb!” Just “I love you, Auntie ReeRee. I’m so glad you are here.” Gia got to play with some girls (Grace and Gabriella, God love them for watching her as much as they did) and Belle got to be with people that truly love her for who she is.


Things I am hating right now:

I know hate is a strong word but I have some pretty strong feelings for these things.

1. High School. I don’t remember hating it this much when I was in it so I’m a little surprised by how much I am hating it right now. I hate the amount of work he has. I hate how tired he is all the time.  To say it is different than when I went is a huge understatement. Maybe that is why I am hating it. Where are the groups going to movies or bowling or miniature golfing or even out to eat? I thought competitive sports was ruining our family life. Well, high school sports have completely blown the family life out of the water.

2. Enabling the “Me, Me, Me” Generation. I hate that I am a huge enabler of the lifestyle I am not liking. They need a ride somewhere, I take them. They want to play a sport or do an activity and I will go into debt to help them do it. How can I squash their passions (especially at 4 years old, right?)? They want the new iPods so their grandparents get them for them. They want for nothing and what does that teach them? I need to find away to teach them that instant gratification isn’t the best way to live. It will be the cause of so much disappointment in the real world.

3. Middle School. I hate middle school more than I hate high school. I don’t really remember liking middle school all that much when I was in it. It’s an awkward stage for everyone. Insecurities run rampant and manifest in so many different ways. Some kids withdraw, some kids become silly or socially awkward and some become mean. Bodies are changing and kids this age don’t want to look different. Other kids take that opportunity to tear kids down. It seems no one escapes unscathed. Friendships are tested and they change and hearts are broken and the tears, my God, the tears.

middle school

4. Doctors appointments. No offense, Margie. We love you and Dr. A. I think for a few weeks we’ve had one or two a week. My mind is swirling with the worry about each appointment. I feel like I either have a kid that I think is fine that they are telling me something is wrong or I have a kid that something is wrong but we can’t figure out what. Nothing sends your world reeling like a health crisis.

5. I saved this one for last since you all are probably sick of hearing it. I am hating all of the broken things in this house. Our garage is so annoying. It goes up when it wants to and down when it wants to and of course when I am in a hurry, that is when it decides to not go up or down. Our refrigerator water dispenser is broken. The ice maker is broken. There is a shelf we can’t use. It’s against a wall so it won’t open up all the way. We need a new one but it is the lowest on the priority list. There is a brick guy coming for our STILL half done patio. I don’t even care about that anymore except that it has been almost a year since someone ratted on us. And the very thing I hate the most is that for a year our furnace has been broken. A YEAR! I finally take the bull by its horns and call someone. I get a quote and tell Leo because I have had it. We need it and we need it now. What does he do? He decides he is going to get “a few” quotes.” This is why I don’t call and get quotes or get people to come and fix things. Because once I do, he springs into action and I think, Why did I even bother? And of course he hates that I don’t care how much it costs, I just want it done now. It’s a vicious tug of war we’ve got going on here. That was three weeks ago. STILL have the old furnace. Still going downstairs to turn it on when it shuts off. I’m not going to lie. I’ve resorted to name-calling. I’m about to resort to crying and possibly throwing things. If they end up near his head, well, I’m sorry. My aim isn’t great (or is it?).


My hope is that by doing 5/5 it is a good balance so I don’t become the Depressing Queen of Chaos. I am also hoping that by getting all of this off my chest, it will clear my mind to be able to get back to writing regularly. I don’t know about you but I can’t seem to do much of anything when I have this much on my mind.

What about you? Tell me something you are loving and something you are hating a little bit.

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Cyber Monday Meltdowns

Latest meltdowns:

Tommy can’t walk. He has the red bumps on his legs again and writhes in pain. (To see that crisis, click Advil doesn’t help. I’m not a doctor but I really think he has an infection in his body and needs IV antibiotics to get rid of it. We’ve already been to the ER once with this and they were useless. Nothing makes me lose it faster than when I feel out of control to be able to help my kids. When they are in pain, I lose it that much faster. He needed to get downstairs but couldn’t walk. I called for Nico or Leo to come up and get him. They were two floors below and either couldn’t hear me or thought I was exaggerating. I tried carrying him myself but ended up making it worse because when I was trying to get through the door, I scraped his arm. Yelling doesn’t really describe what I did after that.

I was heard asking Leo if we could quit it all and move to St. Thomas where he could run a deep-sea fishing tour thing and I could braid hair on a beach. We could live the simple life in a little hut with indoor plumbing. I’ll homeschool the kids. I can do it. I’m sure I can. After dealing with Nico and some of his homework, I can manage everything but science and math (I can go up to Algebra and all the “ology” classes). We can get off this hamster wheel and start enjoying life.

I could go on but I’ll save it for Wednesday’s post. Instead, I will tell you about the awesome holiday promo we are doing for the book The Mother of All Meltdowns.  What better time to kick it off than Cyber Monday!

Pic of Xmas promo


Looking for the perfect gift to give Mom this holiday season? The Mother of All Meltdowns makes a great gift or stocking stuffer and can help mom feel connected, normal, and understood. Forget sweaters, perfume, and wacky slipper-socks. All moms deserve the laughter, validation, and moments of “Me too” this book provides!

Perfect for expecting moms, new moms, older moms, and all moms in between!

On sale now for Kindle and Nook! Just $0.99!

EXCLUSIVE OFFER! 50% off the print edition! Visit our CreateSpace store here. Enter your title access password: moam123 and use coupon code 75N5ZSBR when you order!

Weekly giveaways until Christmas! Subscribe to our blog ( and enter to win a free copy of the book or your very own Cocktail Party on Christmas Day! Winners will be chosen at random on Wednesdays (December 4 through 25)!

Please share this email with your friends, family, and colleagues! Or treat yourself and purchase your own copy of the book!

If you haven’t gotten it yet, now is a great time!

Happy Shopping!

Please enjoy this funny video of meltdowns by fellow author: Christa from C’mon, admit it, we’ve all been there. Oh and on a side note, I had a mini-meltdown just now since my link button isn’t working. :(


YouTube Preview Image

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Crabby Mommy

It’s right around this time of year that I start to feel all warm and fuzzy. The holidays are coming and I look forward to getting a break from the hustle and bustle that four kids and a husband make. I look forward to spending time with family and making memories.

Something strange is going on here because I am not feeling this way this year. All I am feeling is the need to pack up my kids and head out of town.

I want to be reminded of why I got married and why we started a family. You guys, I’m going to admit this to you all. I’m waving the white flag over here. I am tired. Not I need a nap (though I do) tired but mentally tired. In the last month, Leo was gone for three of the four weeks. The first two weeks it was for three days and he’s always home on the weekends but I absolutely hate when he is gone. I know he has to. He works hard at his job and is good at it but when he is gone, I feel like I am an insomniac in quicksand. I don’t sleep. At all. Remember the last post? The one about my hearing? Well, that spills over when Leo is gone. I’m afraid I am not going to hear the kids so I stay up and then I hear a TON of noises. No sleep for three or four days equals one Crabby Mommy.

I want to start a bible study/prayer group for Belle and girls her age. I really want to run it for both the twins but separately otherwise it would be a party. I want to make it special and have treats and discussions about how to lean on God during this time in their life. I want them to understand that they might feel like the whole world is against them but that is when they need to turn to God and pray. I try to get them to the youth portion at Wheaton Bible but they would rather go to church. When we are there, they ask a million questions. It makes me wonder if other kids their age have the same questions. The teacher in me thinks it would make a difference. There is so much drama in adolescence that I think kids need some outlet. Having taught religious education for 5 years, I think it’s what might be missing. Wouldn’t this time be easier if everyone felt compelled to be nice.

That being said, I have a post in the works about tween girl drama. I am sick of it. Really sick of it. Again, drama equals Crabby Mommy.

You know when you see people out in public that look haggard and tired and shell-shocked? You might think that they have just weathered a storm but chances are they are just the parent of a teen. I am such an enabler with Nico. I swear, I need a support group for parents that enable their firstborns. Nico comes up to me needing help on a paper and I help him (or try). Tommy comes up to me and the fear of raising another child that is needy forces me to say, “Tommy, you are a smart kid. You can figure this out yourself.” Nico’s back hurts and I’m looking for a chiropractor. Belle’s back hurt her and I didn’t want to pay $30 for a back brace. I finally realized that was going on and bought her the back brace and helped Tommy with his paper but really…I want to stop enabling Nico. I think it’s why he drives me the most crazy. Nico’s neediness equals Crabby Mommy.

There is more that I need to say but as usual, someone needs me to drive them somewhere. I’m going to post this because I already have 10 posts that I didn’t because I got called away. At this rate, I am never going to get anything posted.

What about you? What makes you Crabby Mommy?

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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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I Figured it Out

I am getting a new car finally. Well, let me rephrase that. I am getting a new car to me. I don’t enjoy driving a minivan and miss driving a car. Having four kids and being a part of at least 10 carpools, I need something bigger than the Nissan Altima that I used to drive and love so much. I’ve wanted a Honda Odyssey forever. I get why we buy used cars all the time. I know all about cars losing their value the minute you drive off the lot and a new Honda Odyssey is expensive. I am not really a car person. I just need something that fits all my kids and a few others so I can be a part of carpools. I need something that doesn’t break down every few miles and I would like a DVD player since I’m in my car a lot with Gia and it would keep her occupied. I don’t want to go into debt for a car, especially one that is sure to take a beating with these four kids. So, in a nutshell, no new car for me.

We went and looked at the model house of the new construction going up by my house. It was beautiful, of course and it got me thinking. When else are we going to get in on new construction in the same town where the kids could stay at their same school? New construction–we can pick out everything we want, everything that is our taste, our ideas. Well, 750 other buyers had the same idea. They said they have that amount for 45 lots so they have a lottery. It doesn’t matter. We aren’t in any position to move and where would I even start to try to get this house ready to show anyone? The whole idea seems pretty daunting. Does that mean I don’t want to move? No. I still really want to and for no other reason than I want a home that feels like mine.

I figured out why I am so antsy, so unsettled. We moved into our house in Bartlett and it was “move-in” ready. It was decorated just like we wanted so we didn’t do anything to it. After seven years, I got tired of living in someone else’s house. Plus what felt like a big house with a lot of room for two people started to feel a little cramped with three kids. We moved into this house when we were in a bit of a time crunch. We needed to find a house before school started. This house was perfect. It was bigger than our first one, had a neighborhood filled with kids and was “move-in ready”. We didn’t have to do anything then and we still haven’t.

So eight years later, I feel like I am still living in the previous owners’ house. The only room we have changed is Gia’s.

When you feel like you are living in someone else’s house, there is no emotional investment in it. I figured out that’s why I am itching to move. I need change. I need it to feel like this is ours. Now for the obstacle:

Soon after we married, I found out something about Leo that I did not know while dating him.

He does not like change or to let go of things.

In a way, this will bode well for me in life. Cars and houses, not so much.

He had a Chevy Blazer. He ran that into the ground. He had a Jeep Cherokee (I loved that one) and he ran it into the ground. I am driving a Chevy Venture and to say it is being run into the ground would not be an exaggeration. If I have to get a minivan, I want a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. I mean, if I had a choice of anything, I’d want a Nissan Armada. I am currently test-driving a Honda Odyssey (only 4 weeks after my van was deemed dangerous) and am just happy to be done with the Venture. The thing is I really better like this van because chances are it is going to be here for a loooong time.

As for the house, every mention of changing things up in the house is met with resistance. For example, I hate the giant fish hanging above our mantle but he loves it and I don’t think will ever take it down. I’ve wanted to take the wallpaper off the kitchen and family room and it’s still up. When we talk about it, he says, “We can talk about it” or “We’ll see” and that is the end of it. I don’t think he does it on purpose. I really think he’s uncomfortable with change and we don’t have any time to put into making the changes.

But…eight years is a long time to live in a place that doesn’t feel like home.

What about you? Any major renovations? Do you get bored easily with your car or home?

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I am NOT an Alarm Clock!

*Warning: I did not take my own advice and I wrote this mad. It might not stay up very long if I have writer’s remorse.


Dear Family that I love so very, very much,


I have reached my limit with trying to get you all to wake up. Every single night you ask me to make sure you get up early and every single morning, I wake you up and NOTHING! You don’t move. You don’t acknowledge that I’m nicely waking you up. I gently say your name a few times. I tell you what time it is and remind you that you asked me to wake you up early. The response? Either a whole lot of nothing or you roll over and go back to sleep. Then I leave only to have to go and try to get you up ten minutes later. I really love when you open your eyes as if I am some crazy person yelling at you to get up for no reason. I am tickled pink when you yell back at me not to shake you awake because that is the only way I know you have actually heard me and will attempt to wake up.

Here’s a newsflash Gubenko Family:


The thing is, I don’t even care. It’s not a battle that I want to take on because we are all night owls over here. What I am going to say to you is that if you choose to stay up late, then you better damn well be able to get up the next morning and function. I go to bed later than all of you and still manage to wake up early enough to have this fight with all of you over the age of 3.

I’ve had it. Seriously had it. Things are going to change.

Leo: You have your own alarm clock. Set it and wake up to it. Every other week you have to take the boys to school. You know this. It does not take you five minutes to shower and dress and so help me God if you don’t get up early enough to take the garbage out on Tuesdays and not make the boys late, I will eat a whole bag of Oreos and a whole can of Salt and Vinegar Pringles on your side of the bed. I love you but you have some screwed up way of telling time that in 42 years has made you late more times than I care to count. If you think it goes unnoticed, you are wrong. Stop making everyone else late while saying, “I’m ready.”

Nico: Ughhh….Nico. Sweetheart, you set the entire morning. I know it sucks but you do. If you get in the shower late, everyone else does, too. It’s not fair to your friends that we take to school and it’s not fair to the twins who are trying to get ready for school. You are really close to getting a bucket of water thrown on you because besides buying a megaphone, I’m not sure what else will get you moving. Here’s the new deal: If you give me a hard time again and make my weekdays start off miserably, I am going to make it my job to make your weekends miserable. You know how you love hanging out with friends all day and all night on Saturdays? Roll over and ignore me one more time and you’ll be home all day and all night on Saturday. Obviously it will be to catch up on the sleep you so desperately need during the week.

Tommy and Belle: I’ll combine you two since I’ll say the same things. You guys go to bed too late. All of those episodes of Friends and King of Queens that you HAVE to watch? They are on the DVR. Watch one a day and you’ll still be able to get homework done and go to bed by 9. I’ve got news for you. You guys are about to be banned from the television. One more morning of you guys running out the door looking like orphans that stowed away on a boat to Ellis Island and it’s no more TV and bed by 8.

To all of you, you remember breakfast, right? It’s the meal you have after you wake up to start your day. If you wake up fifteen minutes earlier, you might enjoy it again. Or you might enjoy it sitting down with a fork instead of on the way to the bus in a package. Side note-if the PopTart is strawberry, it counts as a fruit, right?

You all love that I make your lunches so you don’t have to buy lunch at the cafeterias. I get it but why am I busting my ass to make all of you lunches to make your day a little easier when you are so difficult starting my day? I am going on strike. Until you start getting up when you are supposed to, I am not making lunches. I have bought you all alarm clocks. USE THEM! Nico, those birds chirping seem to keep you asleep. You need to pick a louder, more annoying one. Maybe a recording of me yelling, “GET UP! YOU ARE MAKING EVERYONE LATE!” Or how about “YOU’RE GROUNDED!”? That one seems to get you moving.

I love you, my dear family, but you are making me crazy and it’s only the first month of school!


A very tired and frustrated me

To all my readers: I’ll end this here since I have to go wake up Gia for school. Say a little prayer that she wakes up happy and not with her head spinning around spitting out pea soup.

Am I the only one that has a family like this? Please share.

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Ten Reasons I am Losing My Mind

Friends, I need school to start. I mean, I really, really do. Pardon my language, but this summer has kicked my ass. There is a padded room with my name on it and these are the reasons why:

1. Late nights. For everyone. Nico comes home between 10 and 11 depending on the day and he doesn’t come home quietly. I can’t go to sleep until I know he is home so all hope of going to bed early ever are gone. Not that it matters since everyone is up anyway. Gia has no routine because there are days when I can get her to bed around 8 and days where I can’t until after 9 or 9:30. The twins are a free-for-all sometimes going to bed at 10 or going to bed midnight. I miss my down-time. Leo and I have gotten zero time alone since we went to Indian Lakes for his Mother’s Day gift to me. I need Gia to be in bed asleep by 8. I need the twins to be in bed by 9, asleep by 10. I need Nico to be in bed by 10, asleep by 11. I need to relax from 11-12 and have a conversation with Leo or at the very least, watch TV with him.

2. Money, Money, Money. I am so tired of shelling out money to the three older kids. I am looking forward to getting back into the groove of the kids working for the money I am shelling out. And they are going to learn the fine art of managing their money once they earn some.

3. Fast Food. I actually dry heave when I pass a McDonald’s and when I am asked to pull forward for a simple order, I show great restraint with not throwing something at the young kid on the other side of the window. I HATE pulling forward. We have eaten more fast food this summer than ever before. Part of it is why should I cook a big meal when it is only Gia and me eating? It was a complete mom-fail not enforcing the “we all meet for dinner” and then you can go back out. I am actually looking forward to cooking and having people home to eat it.

4. Irregular Bathing. My kids smell. Not all the time but more times this summer than any other. I think I said, “When is the last time you took a shower” to my kids more times than I care to admit. I really thought that after age 10, you would know when to bathe yourself. I was wrong. Even Nico pretty much only showered when he went out. You can imagine what my house smelled like after two camps or two games. I’m looking forward to the smell of soap instead of the “lazy, over-use of Axe and Secret deodorant”.

5. Sassy Mouths. I am really sick of hearing all the things I do that ruins my kids’ lives: No sleepovers, not being able to stay out until midnight, not letting them hang out with friends every day, all day. Believe me, I’ll hear that during the school year but at least I’ll get a reprieve the hours they are in school or at practice.

6. No Silence. I have said I don’t like uncomfortable silence but OMG, I cannot wait until there is a little silence over here. All summer it has been one long scream-fest. I absolutely love being a mom. I couldn’t wait to hear my children utter the word, “Mama”. But while wishing for those words to be uttered, it was never followed with, “MOOOOOOOOOOM, Tommy is bugging me!” “Moooooom, can I have $10?” “Mommy, can you build the 432,000th Lego tower?” “Mom, can I get a phone? Mom, can I get a phone? Mom, can I get a phone?” A little silence is going to be a good thing.

7. Astronomical Grocery Bills. Part of the problem is that the kids are with me when I am grocery shopping and I end up with Teriyaki Beef Jerky and Taki’s and Honey Mustard Pretzels, stuff that if I am alone, I wouldn’t get. Another reason is because my house is always filled with kids. I really don’t mind. I love having the kids here sitting around my table but keeping 6 teenage boys fed and four or five tweens happy snacking can get to be expensive.

8. Not seeing my friends. I feel like the whole summer has gone by and I’ve barely seen any of my friends. I am looking forward to meeting for breakfast or lunch and catching up. There is a reason we have girlfriends. They keep us sane.

9. Having a house in constant disarray. My house is what I like to refer to as “lived-in” but this summer, I cannot keep up. I put things away and right behind me are children messing things up again. I have been fielding fights over whose turn it is to do what and in the end nothing gets done. It will be nice to have a chunk of time and then have it stay clean for at least 10 minutes.

10. Guilt for writing. All summer, I had to sneak writing. Gia hated when I had to “work on the ‘puter” and constantly begged me to play. The twins would ask me to “come look at this” and I felt guilty each time I’d answer with, “Just a minute.” When the kids are in school, Gia included, I’ll be able to write without feeling like I should be doing something else.

How many more days? Oh, and I am sure come November or December, I am going to wish for the non-structure of summer. Just remind me to look at this post.

What about you? Looking forward to school or wishing summer could last a month longer?

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What’s Been Growing Over Here

*Warning, the following pictures are not for the faint at heart if you have a perfectly manicured lawn.

I am not outdoorsy. I did used to love camping and then Leo took me to a 5 star hotel and that was the end of that. I do love to hike but only in Arizona or Starved Rock. I love to sit outside on a nice day and read a book. The problem is that I live outside of Chicago and nice days are far and few between. It is either so hot you are melting or frigidly cold. Or like this summer, rain, rain and more rain.

Why am I telling you this? Because this summer was supposed to be the summer we finally enjoy our backyard. Well, thanks to someone in this neighborhood, what could have been a beautiful backyard oasis is now a growing eye-sore.


I'm told this is a Rose of Sharon or a Chlamatis. Of course, I wouldn't know since I am clueless when it comes to anything gardening.

This would be the monstrosity growing on the other side of drive-way.

This would be the monstrosity growing on the other side of drive-way.


This is our "dog run" that we refer to as a scene from a horror movie. This was once cleared out but has since grown at an abnormally fast pace.

This is our “dog run” that we refer to as a scene from a horror movie. This was once cleared out but has since grown at an abnormally fast pace.



This is what is still left of our new patio. Again, I want to thank the person that called and reported us. I'm sure my neighbors in the back and side of us are thrilled to be looking at this.

This is what is still left of our new patio. Again,

I want to thank the person that called and reported us. I’m sure my neighbors in the back and side of us are thrilled to be looking at this.

This looks just like a space I'd like Gia to play in, doesn't it?

This looks just like a space I’d like Gia to play in, doesn’t it?


I know I am oblivious to outside stuff or gardening or landscaping but I swear these weeds came out of nowhere and are growing rapidly.

I know I am oblivious to outside stuff or gardening or landscaping but I swear these weeds came out of nowhere and are growing rapidly.



This was the spot I was most looking forward to. My corner to sit and enjoy writing or reading while the kids played outside. I'm pretty sure it is serving as a Bunny Hotel.

This was the spot I was most looking forward to. My corner to sit and enjoy writing or reading while the kids played outside. I’m pretty sure it is serving as a Bunny Hotel.


Why is our yard in this state of disarray? Our landscaper is MIA. See, we had him pinned down and doing this job and set to finish when someone reported us. We needed to get a permit said the angry, little man who yelled at me and lost the landscapers attention. We have to find someone else to finish the job but that would mean we’d have to spend some time looking and then actually be at home while they are working. If you read this blog regularly, you know that alone is a challenge.

I’m thinking we would have been better off having a full court (or as big as our yard would allow) basketball court in our backyard instead of a patio, grass, bushes and a swing set. It might have driven our neighbors crazy but it would have been much better to look at and no maintenance for Leo or me (well, really just Leo).

What have you been busy growing this summer? A garden? Summer memories? Your career? Your kids?

Linking up with Tamara, Crystal, Angela, Michelle and Kristen for the Ladies Only Blog Share:


Ladies Only Blog Share






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