Forks in the Road

I think when you feel the need or the passion to write, it comes from having many thoughts in your head that need to get out. Even if I didn’t have this blog, I’d have dozens of journals. I do have journals filled with my thoughts dating back to high school. I’d like to say it was to record thoughts to look back on when I get older but it really was to keep myself from going crazy. There was a time when if I didn’t write everything down, I would have been an angry, bitter person snapping at everyone. I’m sure I still had those moments but there would have been a lot more had I not had an outlet.

I don’t know if every writer does this but stories come to my mind in the form of mini-movies and I have to get them down on paper.

Sometimes I think about my life and the forks in the road and that leads to ideas for stories. Basically, if you could make money off of daydreaming, I’d be a millionaire. :)

Some of the forks that come to mind are these:

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

1. Everyone tried talking me into going out for the pom squad (that’s what it was called when I was in high school) after the whole cheer debacle. I didn’t want to be told what to do with my time anymore. I wanted to work and concentrate on college. Would I have loved it? What experiences or memories would I have had from being on the squad?

2. I visited Eastern Illinois University and Northern Illinois. I ultimately chose Northern because it was closer. What if I had chosen Eastern? Would I still have gone into education?

3. After my car accident, I wasn’t going to go back to Northern. I was going to go to the community college and decide where to go from there. Leo talked me into going back. What if I didn’t? I probably would have gotten my associate degree to teach at a daycare and done that. I think I would have been satisfied but I would have missed out on a world of opportunities.

4. When NIU had a job fair, I stopped at a booth for a district in Dallas, Texas. I was a huge Cowboys fan and thought, what the heck. After talking to the recruiter for a half hour, he offered me a job, presented me with a contract and said they’d pay for me to visit. I was so excited. Leo and I talked about it, seriously thought about moving there together and even went out to celebrate. Jobs were hard to come by back then so it was decided that if I didn’t get offered a job in Illinois, we’d do it. Not only did I get a job in Illinois but I got one ten minutes away from where I grew up and in the same district where I went to high school. What if we had gone?

5. What if I didn’t leave my job after I had Nico? Sometimes a lot, I think that maybe I wouldn’t enable him so much. Maybe my kids would be a little more self-sufficient and a little more grateful for the time we do get to spend as a family instead of take it for granted that I am always here.

6. We were in a hurry to find a new house when we bought this house. We wanted to be moved in before Nico started first grade. Two of my sisters live in St. Charles in the same subdivision. We looked at houses in St. Charles. This one weighs heavily on me. What if we had landed in St. Charles instead of here?

7.  There was a brief moment where Leo could have transferred to Dallas for work and then when he was out of work, he had some companies from all over the U.S. call him for interviews. Sometimes I think about what life would have been like on our own, so far away from our families. I was pregnant with Gia at the time so the thought terrified me at the time.

I’ll stop at lucky #7.  I want to make it clear that these are not regrets. I just think about the forks in the road and what might have happened if I had gone the other way. Sometimes I imagine things happening to characters in a story and if I feel inspired, I’ll write about it. I always feel on the edge of writing one of the many stories in my head. It makes me happy.

What about you? Do you have a story in your head dying to come out? Are you doing anything about it?

Pouring it out with Shell today:


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Valentine’s Day Cheat Sheet

With Valentine’s Day this Friday, I think it’s a good time to help Leo along with what he could possibly do. This will be our 25th (I think) Valentine’s Day and what in the world do you get each other after all that time?

I don’t need  a whole lot but something would be nice. :)

So, Leo, if you are reading this is what I want this year:

1. To sleep in one of the weekend days.

2. For you to cook dinner for us one night.

3. To come home early on the day you don’t have to coach.

4. A night or afternoon all to myself.


My happy place.

My happy place.


I want this next one more than anything:

5. To spend Monday-Thursday of Spring Break your mom and then Thursday-Monday go somewhere else…maybe meet up with some friends that are going to be in Florida.

See I’m really not that hard to please and besides the staying somewhere else one, none of them cost any money.

And for you,

1. I’ll let you have the TV upstairs without complaining about having to watch highlights of games you have already seen or telling you a hundred times how boring it is to watch some of the Olympic games (ski jumping, I’m looking at you).

2. I’ll make you chicken tacos and hot dog casserole.

3. I’ll let you sleep in one of the weekend days.

4. I will wish you well on a night you’d like to either go watch games at the neighborhood restaurant or go play poker and not say one word about what time you get home or ask if you won.

This one will be the hardest but for you, I’ll do it:

5. I will put a smile on my face and not complain about the close quarters at your mom’s. I will enjoy the time we have there and continue to put forth the effort to be close to your mom since I know that is all she wants (which I know would make your life easier). This will be especially hard (hint, hint) if the whole vacation is a big history lesson.

After 25 years of celebrating this holiday, I realize that grand gestures are nice. They feel good and they tell the world you are loved but it’s the small things that really matter. It’s not having to let the whole world know that someone loves you but knowing in your heart that someone does.

It’s taken this long but I finally get it.

Love you, Leo.


One of the first Valentines Days. My God, the hair and why was I wearing a sweater that was swallowing me up and what was Leo wearing?

One of the first Valentines Days. My God, the hair and why was I wearing a sweater that was swallowing me up and what was Leo wearing?


Leo and me 2013

Leo and me 2013












What about you? How will you spend Valentine’s Day? Is it a holiday in your house or just another day?



with your mom on Spring Break and

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Five Things Friday

Since today is Friday, I think it makes sense to do a Five Things Working/Not Working post.


1. You know the fastest way to get things back on track in the marriage department? Blog about how you need to. This week was seriously amazing. All last weekend Leo carted the kids EVERYWHERE. It was the best feeling knowing someone else was going to be in charge of getting them. I’m pretty sure he fed the kids all weekend, too. It was mostly leftovers and take out food but he was the one doing all the reheating, serving, cutting. It. Was. Awesome! Wednesday it snowed here. A lot. Gia had school and I kept thinking I’d have to leave 45 minutes earlier than normal to get her there if I wanted her to go and I really wanted her to go. Leo surprised me by working from home and we both took Gia to school with him driving (the roads were awful).  Then we went to Starbucks where he worked and I got a ton of stuff done, including signing up for a few things that I might be able to start making a little big of money doing. We went to lunch and it was seriously the perfect day. Helping kids with homework, helping me around the house and knowing when to step in and take over made fall in love with him all over again.

Fastest way to my heart (even though this is an old picture).

Fastest way to my heart (even though this is an old picture).

Not Working:

2. So then you understand after reading the above why I couldn’t complain about the heat and garage or the inch layer of ice down our stairs and walkway and how all of those are still not working. I want to clarify that we have heat. We just have to turn it on because it won’t click on by itself once it gets to the temp we set it at and clicks off.


3. Happy kids. I know this sounds odd and you can disagree with me. It’s okay because not all kids are the same. Nico is a different kid when he has a girlfriend and when it is a girl I absolutely love, life is good. Really good. His whole attitude is different. He works harder at school, he works harder at whatever sport he’s in and he is a lot easier to live with here. I know some think having a girlfriend is a distraction but for whatever reason, it’s not with Nico. It works. Belle is loving volleyball and besides the normal/hormonal tween girl breakdowns has been pretty happy. We found something that has been keeping Tommy’s bumps away. My doctor is a huge advocate for fish oils. I always half-listened to him about it mostly because the boys took so many pills, I didn’t want to add another one. Well, he thought it might help control Tommy’s leg thing and so we tried it and Tommy said it’s working. He feels better so thank you, Dr. Vosicky! Gia is normally very happy but these days she doesn’t give me a hard time about going to “pretty school” because of a certain someone named, Jett.

Not Working:

4. This winter. I know I live in Chicago. I know it is February but really all that means to me is that I need to talk my family into moving to Arizona so that I can get the Hell out of this cold, depressing, snow-filled place. I don’t remember having any say in my ancestors settling here so why can’t I complain a little that they did. I mean, most of my ancestors were from Italy. What were they thinking? I know…the American dream and finding opportunities but why didn’t they find that somewhere warmer? I want my flip-flops and shorts and t-shirts. I want my skin not to crack the minute I step out the door. I want Leo to be able to shovel and not have snow plows come through and push the snow on top of what he just shoveled so that when I go to get out or someone else goes to pull out, they don’t get stuck (sorry, JW). I want to be able to walk out my front door without the fear of being stabbed in the head with a giant icicle or needing a hip replacement because I break my hip on the ice. I will end this one with these words: Winter, you’ve overstayed your welcome!

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/

Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/


5. I was thinking of hanging up my blogging gloves and moving on. It was hard getting back in the groove and my kids were demanding a lot of attention. I just couldn’t do it. Their happiness came first but…they are all happy at the moment and writing is breathing life back into me. So, instead of hanging it up, I’ve decided to go full force. I have connected with some amazing writers that I truly love working with and it feels good to be a part of something. I’ve decided that writing a few sponsored posts or reviews is not a bad thing and that I can do it without compromising my voice in this space. I can’t wait to start chugging along and see what new things are in store for me. :)


What about you? What’s working or not working for you on this Friday?


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“Did You Put Your Hands On My Son?”

"Image courtesy of Hal Brindley/".

“Image courtesy of Hal Brindley/”.

It started out as Belle’s night. She had her first volleyball game. She practically begged Tommy to go and begged me to bring Gia. She couldn’t wait to show off all her hard work. Finally her game was on a night that Leo could go. She was so excited.  Leo dropped Belle, Gia and me off at the door and went to park.

It was at the park district and a complete zoo. I don’t know how Leo and Tommy split up but they did. When I met up with Tommy, he was really upset about something. He told me he’d tell me later. I thought for sure it was about a girl since there are three girls that are on Belle’s team that he has crushes on. It wasn’t.

Tommy then told me this story:

He walked up to the door wearing his headphones and a man who was holding a guitar was holding it open for him. He said that it would have been hard for him to hold it open for the man because he would have awkwardly had to move around him and the guitar and he was already holding it open. I don’t even think that Tommy realized until after that the man had special needs.

Once through the door a woman grabbed Tommy and yelled at him for walking through the door. She felt that Tommy should have held it for the man because he had special needs.

She grabbed him, yelled and demanded that he apologize to the kid.

I was livid. I’m still livid. I felt my blood begin to boil and told Tommy to show me where she was. I planned on going right up to her and letting her have it for touching my kid (or anyone’s kid).

Leo didn’t want me to say anything. He kept saying to let it go. He argued that she was some crazy lady and it wasn’t worth it. I asked two of the moms whether they would say anything and both said they would. One of them said to not get into it with her but stress that she scared my son. I thought that sounded like a good plan so after the game, I went and found her. This is what followed:


“Excuse me, I think you yelled at my son and might have misunderstood what happened.”


She interrupted me and said, “I certainly did! Do you know that he looked right at me and ignored me three times?!” (She was behind Tommy the whole time so he might not have heard her since he had his headphones on but he certainly didn’t look at her and ignore her.)


I said, “That does not give you the right to touch my child.”


She started to deny that she did and I interrupted her and said, “Did you touch my son? Did you put your hands on my son?”


She said yes and I said, “You grabbed him and you scared him. Don’t ever do that again.”


She replied in a huff, “I didn’t grab him, I did this (she pulled on my jacket) and I did not scare him.”


I said, “Don’t touch me. You did grab him and you did scare him.”


She then went up to Tommy, got in his face and pointed and yelled, “Did you lie to your mom and tell her I grabbed you?”


Tommy looking scared said, “You did grab me.”


She started yelling, “You are lying! I did not scare you or grab you!” I then got blinding anger. You know when the room goes fuzzy and you know you are about to do or say something you are going to regret. With Tommy, Belle and Gia standing there, I didn’t want that to happen.


I stepped in front of her and said, “I’m going to stop you right there. You are way out of line. We are going to walk away and hope we never have to see you again.”


And we walked away with me saying very loudly, “Don’t ever touch my kid!”


I was shaking. I walked outside and looked at Belle and said, “Go get your father and tell him we are out here waiting for him.” She did without arguing and I looked at Tommy.


“Are you okay?” I asked him. I was really afraid that I did more damage by embarrassing him.


“I am now. Thanks, Mom.” I let out all the breath that I didn’t even know I had been holding and luckily a friend of mine walked in and I unloaded the whole thing on her while I waited for Leo.


Leo stood by his stance on just letting it go. “You weren’t going to get anywhere dealing with her. She’s crazy. You can’t reason with crazy.”


There was some discussion on whether Tommy was really scared or was he just embarrassed and he said, “I was scared. She freaked me out. I wasn’t embarrassed because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong.”


“Could you have done anything differently?”


“Maybe talked to the man and asked him if he needed help.” And while that might have helped the situation from happening in the first place, NOTHING gives that woman the right to touch my son (or anyone’s) or force him to apologize to that man. Tommy said the man looked at him like he had five heads and had no idea what he was apologizing for.


I think I am most surprised at how I hate confrontation and the Mama Bear in me came out in full force. I was ready to tear her a new one. Who in the Hell made her judge and jury? She doesn’t even know my kid and if you ask anyone that knows him, he isn’t the kind of kid that would disrespect an adult.


I have to believe that I accomplished two things by confronting her. The first is that maybe she’ll think before she ever puts her hands on another child. The second was showing my kids that I have their back. Knowing I made Tommy feel better was the best feeling. It was one of those moments I felt like I got it right.


I’m still mad about the whole thing because I cannot believe someone really thought it was okay to behave that way. The worst part is that I’m pretty sure I am going to have to see her every week because her daughter or son is in the same league as Belle.


I am dying to know…how would you have handled that situation?

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Six Things I Never Thought I’d Do

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to be a mom. My sisters and I (and friends) would play house endlessly and when we were too old, I’d still daydream about getting married and having a family. I picked a career with kids because I loved working with them so much. I just couldn’t wait to have my own kids.

And when I did, I swore I’d do a few things differently. I was going to write about those but then I thought about the things I swore I’d never do and I don’t but wish I did. There are a lot more of those than the other.

1. Make my kids do their homework on Fridays. Oh, how I hated my dad’s rule. I wanted to come home throw my bag in the corner and relax. I wanted to leave school behind and have some fun but noooo. I had to do my homework right then. There were probably more times than not that I said I didn’t have any and then had Gina or one of my little sisters be the lookout while I hid and did it. I absolutely hated that rule and vowed I’d never make my kids do that. OMG, this one has come back to bite me in the ass. My dad was right. It’s so much less stressful when the kids aren’t racing around frantically on a Sunday night trying to get things done. I don’t make my kids do homework on Fridays on principle alone but I wish I did.


2. Make my kids go to church or some form of religious ed. I swore that I wouldn’t make my kids sit through a boring mass every week. I said it should be something they feel called to do. I wanted them to feel uplifted, not hate their religion. There were times I felt proud to be Catholic and times I really hated it. It wasn’t until I was an adult with three kids that I finally made my own decision and left the church. I regret this one because I found a church I love so I continuously try to rectify it. Our schedules don’t always allow for us to be able to go as a family and I wish early on that I had made it a priority.


3. Growing up, we always ate as a family. There were times my dad was coaching or I had volleyball or cheerleading so we ate later but for the most part, we all ate dinner together. I hated cleaning up after dinner and I didn’t necessarily swear I’d never make my kids clean up after themselves or help me clean but somehow, it’s worked out that way. For one, we don’t always eat together. It’s more scattered and they might throw their plates away or put them in the sink but they can’t help me clean because not everyone has eaten and by the time everyone has, they are busy doing homework. I wish I had made it a priority to eat as a family more often and to instill the “help” factor.


4. Make my kids make their beds and keep their rooms clean. I hated this rule. I thought it was pointless to make a bed that you were just going to mess up later and I wanted my room to be my space to keep as I wanted it. That was not the case. My mom made us make our beds (I weaseled my way out of this one by sleeping on top of my comforter with just a small blanket as a cover) and our rooms had to be spotless. She was right. The rooms look better with the beds made and it feels so much better to crawl into a made bed at the end of the day than a messed up one. Again on principle alone,  I let my kids’ rooms be their spaces and as a result, they are disasters. I just close the doors when people come over and I say I don’t care but deep down, I wish they were clean. (They do clean them when I can’t see the floor anymore or I am watching a Hoarders episode and I say, “Wow, that looks like your room.”)



5. Wake my kids in an obnoxious way. My dad used to wake us up by pretending to play some sort of annoying horn. We absolutely hated it. I swore I would never, ever be so annoying. Well, my kids are annoying and won’t get up when I try to wake them up and I want so badly to break out my dad’s pretend horn. I don’t because again, I swore I would never do that but I wish I did. :) I have been known to jump on Nico’s bed to wake him up and I am sure he is swearing he’ll never do that to his kids. I pray he has a kid just like him. If there is any justice in this world, he will because I swear my mom prayed that for me and I have Isabella and Nico.


6. Make Saturday the “housecleaning day”.  I hated cleaning but cleaning on a day off from school before we could do anything was the worst. Again, this one bites me right on the ass. Looking back, I think I thought it took forever but really, it took about a half hour. There were a lot of us so we split up the jobs. I’m sure my whining about having to do it took up more time than actually doing it. With our schedule the way it is, most Saturdays we are out of the house before 9 or 10 so cleaning falls to the back burner. Before you know it, everyone is out doing what they want and I am home cleaning and doing laundry wondering if I have so many kids, why don’t I have more help.



There are things that my parents did that I do now.

1. Anything lower than a B and you’re grounded unless it’s a class I know you are struggling with. If they were “C” students (as some of them are in math), I’d be happy with C’s but they are capable of A’s and B’s so that’s what I expect from them.

2. I need to meet all friends. If they hang out with someone who won’t come in the house or meet Leo and me, I automatically assume that they have something to hide or aren’t very trustworthy. I don’t expect to be best buds or even have a deep conversation with them but if you are hanging out with my kids, I’d like to know who you are.

3. Sunday is family day. Period.

4. I don’t care how much you fight in this house. The minute you walk out, you remember that you’re family and you stick up for each other and protect each other. And you ALWAYS take your siblings side. I can say whatever I want about Leo but anyone else does and it sets me off. I still avoid two people who have talked smack about Leo as a coach and I only avoid them because I know I’ll say something. We can say Nico is lazy or Belle is dramatic or Tommy is flighty but if anyone else does, watch out.

What about you? What is something you swore you’d never do as a parent but you do? Or what is something you don’t do that your parents did and you wish you did, too?


Thanks, Kat from Mama’s Losin’ It for the writing prompt!


Mama’s Losin’ It

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Happy 4th Birthday, Gia!

Time is flying. Completely whizzing by. I thought for Gia’s birthday this year I would do a post with pictures and videos.

2 days old

2 days old


Gia at 1.

Gia at 1.










Gia at 2.

Gia at 2.











Gia at 3. Picture by Jody Byas.

Gia at 3. Picture by Jody Byas.








Gia at 4.

Gia at 4.

Gia makes me feel like I am the greatest mom in the world. She is sweet and makes me laugh every single day. I make jokes all the time about being too old to go through all of the stages again but the truth is she is a gift. I love that I get a second chance to see life through the eyes of a child. I know the road ahead is a rough one since I’m on it with the other three. Raising tweens and teens is not for the weak, that’s for sure. It makes me appreciate this stage so much more. I know how fast it goes. Pretty soon she’s going to be in school all day, every day. They are only this little for a short time and I plan on soaking up every minute of it.

Hope you enjoyed the little glimpse into her life so far.

P.S. Is that really what my voice sounds like?

Which age was your favorite with your kids?

If you enjoy this blog, could you please click on the Best Mom Blogs button? I’m afraid I am close to getting kicked off from lack of activity. :) Thanks so much!

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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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Tuesday Tidbits: January 21

With all the testing we’ve done regarding ADD, I am starting to wonder if I have it. I want to read a good book. I’ve started 3. I want to make a page on my blog dedicated to my writing so I can work on that and keep up with my blog. Haven’t even started it. Want to make a page with all the blogs I follow so I have an easy way of keeping up (I know blog-lovin is another way). Haven’t had longer than five minutes to do either of the pages. I want to volunteer at the church I go to so I can see if going back to preschool teaching is what I want. I keep procrastinating worried that the minute that I commit, I’ll panic and find a reason not to do it. I want to reach out to the two districts I’ve worked for and find out what I need to teach preschool in the public schools. I am too chicken to do it. I wanted to start a bible study with Belle and her friends but when it came to it, would my schedule ever allow for it? Somehow, I find something else to do that distracts me from what I really want to do.

Over Christmas break, I had a mini-reunion with some of my elementary school friends, Debbie Aultman (who is now Peplow) and Cindy Bass (who is now Placko). Gina Falco (who is now Gattuso) was supposed to go but one of her little ones got sick. Can I just say that I love these friends even more now than I did when we were 9. I can say that about Gina, too because we live near each other and often run into each other at sporting events. There is something about having roots somewhere that is so grounding. These are three people who knew me before I even knew myself. Three people who knew my hopes and dreams and were with me through first crushes, first loves, heartbreaks and other childhood milestones. Every single movie that has four friends in it makes me think of these girls. Gina and I went to junior high together for one week and then I left to go back to the public school. Cindy lived down the street from me and though our paths would sometimes go in different directions, we always knew we’d find our way back and that it would be as if nothing changed. Debbie and I had been friends since 2nd grade and went through just about everything together. My biggest regret that I have with all three of these friends is that we lost touch around the time we all got married and weren’t at each other’s weddings. It was so nice to sit and catch up with them. If you guys are reading, I just want you to know that both of you are beautiful. Inside and out. I’ve missed you guys and sitting and talking to you made me realize just how much.

Since the beginning of this school year, with Nico being a sophomore, I have had the same series of dreams almost every single night. I’m back in high school and I lost my schedule, can’t remember my locker combination or can’t find my classroom. The people in the dream are always different and sometimes I wake up feeling good (when Taylor Kitsch is in it or my Nana, Papa or Grams are in it) and sometimes I wake up uneasy. In any case, the dream stays with me for most of the day and then by the time it’s gone, I fall asleep only to have another one. It’s strange and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I’m having them. I am absolutely hating this school year.

You know what I do when I procrastinate? I watch TV. Lots and lots of TV. I love the escape. Some of the shows that I can’t stop watching (and these aren’t the worst ones):

Sister Wives: Let me just say that this really feels like a different show than it used to be. I can’t believe how unhappy these women seem. Well, except Robyn. Meri used to be my favorite but now I enjoy watching Janelle and Christine. I can’t help but think Janelle is getting tired of the whole thing and Christine is realizing that this is not what she signed up for. Janelle saying that Kody doesn’t control them and that he is their husband and not their “overseer” and then Robyn patting her on the leg and saying, “He is your husband” made me want to puke. She was taking a sip of beer, not booking a trip to Tahiti. Meri couldn’t seem to muster any joy or kindness Janelle’s way when they were talking about her success in losing weight. Aspyn is my favorite kid now that Logan is not on as much.

90 Day Fiancé: This show is a total train wreck and I cannot stop watching it. All four stories seem a little sketchy to me. I think the one guy needs to grow up and get a place of his own. His fiancé seems to be the most secure of the four. She seems to want to be with Russ though I suspect that she would also like a green card. Kirlyam, the one from Brazil, is adorable but her situation is the most worrisome. Alan seems really controlling and she is so homesick. Why in the world would he have her move in with his parents and he stay at his apartment? Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to stay with his parents? Strange. Mike and Azziza…so painful to watch. I feel bad for Mike. I think he’s being taken for a ride. Aya is the only one I would say might not just be in it for the green card. She made a comment that if it wasn’t for his kids, Louis would move to be with her. Again, not the most quality TV but I can’t stop watching.

Best Ink and Face Off: I will combine these two because I can’t believe I am watching either and am convinced I am addicted to shows where someone gets voted off (except I’ve never watched Survivor or Big Brother). For Best Ink, I’m rooting for Willy and Karly. I like Alayna, too but I’m not sure of how much experience she has. For Face Off, it’s too early to tell but can someone who knows me tell me how I got hooked on a Sci-fi/Horror make-up show?

The Bachelor: Would you believe that it’s on my DVR but I haven’t watched it yet? I’m having a hard time getting into it.

Every single show on the Investigation Discovery channel.

And now for the shows that have storylines:

Parenthood: I find myself feeling bad for so many. I think the Bravermans need to have a little happy in their lives. I get why Camille wants to travel the world but I feel bad for Zeek. I feel bad for Adam, Kristina and Max for having to travel down the path they are. I love Max and Hank’s relationship. Joel and Julia…ughhh. Amber and Ryan and then Amber spiraling downward. Pass the tissues and please…some joy.

Intelligence: This one is a little harder to wrap my brain around but just the fact that Josh Holloway is back on my TV screen is enough to keep me watching. Is anyone else watching this? This is a show that Leo and I can both watch. I get me some Sawyer and he gets something besides housewives tearing each other apart.

You know what continues to be frustrating?

I started this post on Tuesday and you all are reading it on a Wednesday and I am too lazy to come up with another title.


*As a note to this, Facebook is doing a bit of a nasty beast of a thing and not showing posts to fan pages’ readers anymore.  The whole thing is explained well here, but in short, you would do me a huge favor by subscribing to my post feed by entering your e-mail in the top right corner of this page and making sure to follow and regularly check in on Tidbits From the Queen of Chaos on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. THANK YOU!!

 And thank you Meredith from The Mom of the Year for letting me “steal” this!

On the advice of my friend Tamara I am going to try and use Bloglovin. It would be great if I could get some followers there. I feel like I have the lowest number. :)
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Old School Blogging: 2013 Recap

I’m jumping on board with Elaine from Miss-Elaine-ous Life and Jennie from A Lady in France. I love looking back on the year and reflecting and this is a perfect activity to do that.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? I went to New York for the first time and I went to BlogHer. I wrote stories for two books: The Mother of All Meltdowns and Sunshine After the Storm.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I resolved to eat healthier and exercise and I did (that’s the politically correct way to say I wanted to lose weight). I didn’t keep the one to be more organized. I said I wanted to submit some of my writing and while I didn’t for my own book, I did for two others so I think that counts. As far as new ones, I can’t help myself. I have to make a list of things I want to do so yes, I’ll make more (and share soon).

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope. I think this was the first year in a long time.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit? Stayed in the U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? Ha! Extra money. On a serious note, I’d love a part-time job. One that I could do from home (I know…easier said than done). Can I get children that do what I tell them to or is that asking too much? A new furnace maybe? A working garage? Hmmm…I could go on and on…

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? January 14. Leo and I went to New York for an NFL luncheon on safety. I love that he made that trip into a dream come true fitting in everything I wanted to do in two days. Days, rather than dates stand out. Nico getting his permit (proof that time goes by fast), Belle on registration day (I saw a side of her that I really like), Tommy having his first girlfriend (I love how much he relied on me) and Gia seeming to change into a big girl overnight (potty-trained and now talks a mile a minute). The days the books arrived from Amazon and I saw my name in an actual book in print. (Thank you, Crystal and Alexa!)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? This is going to sound like a broken record but seeing my writing in print and having an author page on Amazon.

9. What was your biggest failure? Since we are our own worst critics, I could write a bunch but I will try to refrain. I would like to say this was the year I got organized but I can’t say that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My electric blanket

12. Where did most of your money go? Target and the kids activities. And Nico. Definitely Nico.

13. What did you get really excited about? Besides the books, meeting some blogger friends in person. Going to New York. Nico playing varsity football in the summer and in the playoffs. Every new thing that Gia discovered. The twins, Gia and I had the “Summer of Fun” so I was excited each time we did something new.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013? This is a tough one since I love music and use it to snap out of bad moods or feel nostalgic or need inspiration for when I am writing. I’d have to say some of my favorites were “Stay” and “Ho Hey” and “Let Her Go”.


15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier, much happier thanks to Wellbutrin and Prozac. :) Okay, that isn’t all. My faith is something that continues to fill me up and helps me to choose happiness. I have truly seen the work of God this year and believe with all my heart that once you give him the things that trouble you, you feel lighter and happier.

– thinner or fatter? Thinner. 18lbs to be exact. Thank God for the 17 Day Diet that has become a lifestyle.

– richer or poorer? Hmmm…like a true June Cleaver wife, I’m going to go with it’s probably the same but feels poorer. The kids have gotten more expensive and we had to get a new van.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of? Travel. It will always be travel since I love it so much and am truly happy when I am doing it (with and without the kids). I wish I had gone to church more with the kids.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worry. Yell. Feel guilty. Let other people make me feel bad. Enable my children (that’s a whole other post).

18. How did you spend Christmas? At my mom and dad’s for Christmas Eve and my cousin’s for brunch on Christmas morning and then to my sister’s for the rest of the day. Christmas came too soon and I was a huge Grinch. I hope that next year I can get more in the spirit of things.

19. What was your favorite TV program? Those of you that know me know that this is a tough one. I’m going to bypass all the ridiculous (or not) reality shows and go with Parenthood, Mistresses and Chicago Fire. Parenthood because it had me laughing and crying and feeling something the whole time I was watching. Mistresses because it was just entertaining to be watching a night-time soap opera and Chicago Fire because of Taylor Kinney.

20. What were your favorite books of the year? I didn’t have a whole lot of time to read but I read three books that were written in the same form as Go Ask Alice. Letting Go of Ana, Jay’s Journal and Lucy in the Sky. They were all written by Anonymous and each one scared me more and more about raising teens and keeping them safe.

21. What was your favorite music from this year? Too hard to narrow this one down.

22. What was your favorite film of the year? I didn’t get to the movies as often as I would have liked and Taylor Kitsch didn’t have a movie this year (can’t wait to see Lone Survivor…finally one that is getting good reviews) so I’ll go with Monster’s University.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I can’t really remember. I am sure I was at a game. I turned 43. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? More family time with less complaining from Nico.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Same as the last 5 years…yoga pants and a V-neck t-shirt. I call it Chaos Couture.

26. What kept you sane? My friends, you know who you are. Leo- he did a lot of driving me crazy but in the end, he’s always my rock. Barnes and Noble and my Indian Lakes weekend. I spend the whole day by the pool and then either spend the night with a friend or with Leo. I look forward to it every year.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. No matter how much you want to control things, you can’t. Control was a big issue with me this year. I have to remind myself all the time to let things go. I now just ask God for help in dealing with the things I can’t control.

So there you go. More than you probably wanted to know. :) I just want to take this time to thank all of you for reading. I say it every year but it remains true. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am without all of you coming here and reading and forming these relationships. I am blessed to be able to do this and enjoy it so much.

P.S. I wanted to be all fancy and put pictures and links on here but I’d never get this post out if I did that. As it is, Gia is probably going to be late.

What about you? What were some of your dates that stood out? What do you want to do in 2014 that you didn’t in 2013?

Linking up with Jennie and Elaine:



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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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