Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Life Through You

My life Through You

Birth: You accepted me as your "5th" child. You let me stay in your home, you fed me bottles, you played with me, you held me, you were there for me. You were the father figure in my life from the moment I came into this world.

5 Years Old: You spent time with me and shared in your hobbies. You took me fishing out at the "lake" and on the dock. You let me watch you clean fish and bring home deer from your hunting trips. You made breakfast for the family every Christmas morning and your whistling could be heard throughout the house.

8 Years Old: You signed me up and took me to guitar lessons. You listened to me practice and encouraged me to "do my best". You helped me when my ears got infected. You played music with me and sang to me. You helped me to ride my bike and went on walks. You took me on vacation.

13 Years Old: You are coming to all of my band concerts to watch me play. You tell me it's OK to be nervous. You practice soccer with me so I'm not the one sitting on the sidelines. You continue to give nothing but encouragement, especially in school.

15 Years Old: You teach me how to drive. You are patient with me throughout parallel parking and getting on the highway. You are attending all of the football games to watch me march on the field with the band. You take me to my solo performances for concert band.

18 Years Old: You support decisions that I make as I enter the next stage in life. You watch me graduate from high school. You cry while giving objective advice about the future, all in celebration of the accomplishments over the years.

21 Years Old: You walk me down the aisle and give me away.

23 Years Old: You watch me become the first family member to graduate from college. You take us all out to celebrate after wards. You don't stand up and make a speech, but I know what you feel. You are proud and happy for the start of a career and the hard work and dedication that you taught me.

25 Years Old: You are always the person I can talk to about goals, my career and questions about life. The tables have turned and I am finally able to afford to pay for YOUR meal when we go out to dinner. You remind me what commitment and hard work will get you out of life. You are level-headed, smart and strategic. I am humbled by your experiences and ability to share but not sway.

28 Years Old: You are there for the birth of your first great-grand child. A son, who we name after you giving him the middle name "Paul". We are honored that he can carry that name. You are proud and record every moment possible. You go to every single race I've ever run, no hesitation, not a single one missed. You even break your ankle walking TO a race and you still stand on it long enough to see me finish. You are the only one that will try all of my experimental healthy meals and say every single one of them tastes good.

33 Years Old: You show nothing but unconditional love as I make the decision to move across the country for a new job. You even help me pack up my car and make the long 2 day drive. We spend hours talking about your troublemaking years, your time in Korea and your big decision to pack up the family and move to Texas over 40 years ago. We eat homemade macaroni together on the side of the road. You do most of the driving because I can't stay awake. You share your life experiences all while being a part of mine.

35 Years Old: You are surrounded by family who love you more than anything. You leave us with the peace of knowing the family you created will take care of each other, and that you have lived as one of the most caring and honorable people most will never be, and that we are so lucky to have had. At 35, I will try to continue to make you proud. Taking care of family, being a good person, always working hard, keeping healthy, trying new things, knowing it's OK to have feelings and yes, playing (holding up hands to motion) the guitar.

I will love you always.

Your Grand(daughter)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Goals Complete for 11.11.11

This year marks the 4th year I have set GOALS online for myself, and the time range has run for 13 months each.


The next one will now be.

Wait for it....

12.12.12 <-----Isn't that right around the time of the apocalypse?
I better make these next ones GOOD!

The goals completed from this past year have not been the best from my lists, that's for sure. But they are still significant:


* √ Find a New Dermatologist
* √ Lose 10 Pounds
* √ Take a Yoga Class
* √ Visit Another Country
* √ Take the Boys Bowling
* √ Get a Family Pic Done
* √ Complete Body Detox

There are also quite a few things that I wanted to write about and didn't get up yet. Not sure that I ever will so here are a few:

• Review of Bistro 101
• Obsession with Ho-Chunk Casino
• Review of Toy Story 3
• Father's Day this year and visit to the ZOO
• Running progress and details about the marathon training
• The Botanical Gardens
• The Petting Zoo
• Cave of the Mounds (we have season passes now though)!
• The EMU that came running after me on the country road while I was driving!
• Review of Japanese Takara (2 locations)!
• The Apple Orchard
• The UW Geology Museum
• Review of Otto's
• Madtown Twisters Visit
• Easter Sunday
• Trip to Germany and the UK

Now it's time to reassess the upcoming goals and get to work!
Bring on 12.12.12!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Goal Complete: Find a New Dermatologist

There are not many, but one of the downfalls to the move up to Madison has been having to get all new doctors. For the most part, I was comfortable with all the doctors we had in Dallas for ourselves and for the boys. It takes so much time to build up that relationship, and then once the history is there it's hard to make a change.

So it's been a year and a half and I finally found a dermatologist.

It took quite some time to get the appointment scheduled as a new patient, and I needed to go in for a full skin check and acne.

Unfortunately, I was not impressed.

I had a 10:00 appointment and didn't get called in until closer to 11. "Strike 1" The nurse was very nice and we went through the long laundry list of medical background and questions, and also concerns for the day. I felt like things were going well but on the inside I was frustrated that I had to go through all the "new" stuff, but also excited to have a new opinion and outlook on things!

The doctor came in (she shook my hand which is two big thumbs up for me) and she was very polite. I got a good first impression. But as the exam went on she did a full body check and completely overlooked the areas that I called out. She told me to come back in after a year to keep up, but then when I called her out on the "misses" she looked again and said "oh yes, let's take pictures of these and you come back in after 3 months".


So then we get to my face. I can't express enough how frustrated I am at 35 years old and still having breakouts. It's always been a problem for me. I was on minocycline in my 20's and it worked great, but wanted to know what other options were out there. After she told me about 8 different combinations of meeds and topical she asked me what I wanted to do. I mean, not two options…literally 8. "Strike 2" I told her whatever she thought I needed to do while still respecting my caveats.

So she put me on a med and topical. Which takes us to "Strike 3". I went to call and check on the prescription that night and there was no record of it. I called the doctor's office and left a message and asked them to call me when they were going to have it sent in. I waited 5 days (got busy). Called the doctor again and they said they called it in the day after I called the week before, but didn't let me know.

Well, at least I got it that night. And they did apologize.

So at least I have a doctor now. And I will probably stay with her for the rest of my life because I don't want to go through the ordeal of finding another and starting over "new".

Mission complete.

Goal Complete: Lose 10 Pounds

Something I've learned over the last 7-8 years, is that it's not so much about the number on the scale as it is about how you feel.

Okay, that's kind of true.

I really do tell myself that. Thinking back to when I was in high school and the weight I was at - it DEFINITELY was NOT healthy, as I was skipping breakfast, eating a chocolate chip cookie for lunch and swinging by Taco Bell every night at 11pm after work.

But I felt good when I got on the scale!

Fast forward almost 20 years later and I'm sitting at a weight much higher, but I can guarantee I'm a lot healthier than I was back then. Sure I splurge and don't always make the best choices; but I work out, understand the value of calories and nutrients, and I TRY to eat my vegetables.

(Ketchup counts as a vegetable)

With that ramp up, I have to admit although I had on my list of goals to lose 10lbs, it's not like I really tried to get the weight off. I did do very healthy things this year, like training for the marathon, picking up yoga, taking vitamins and doing a lot more weight training than last year. I guess I just figured without a real huge change in my balance between food and activity, my body would sit where it's at.

But ALAS! As I was going through paperwork yesterday and found my information from last December when I was in the hospital, I realized…I really did lose the weight in the last 11 months! Exactly 10lbs.

Still a long ways to go on getting stronger and being healthy, but at least I accomplished this goal!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Goal Complete: Take a Yoga Class

It's not that I haven't done yoga before.

During my bouts of super health-y-ness (is that a word…healthfulness, health-ness…health...you get the point), I've done the waking up at 6am before anyone else to try and keep up with a slender and flexible woman doing the downward dog on TV. That typically ended in me sitting on the couch WATCHING a slender and flexible woman doing the downward dog while eating a bowl full of cereal.

I've also done the P90X yoga. Let me rephrase. I've also struggled clumsily through about 10 minutes of the P90X yoga thinking there's no way another human being can do this and not feel pain in every part of their body and why was this ever created.

I've also just worn yoga pants. Around the house.

But now, I've taken a REAL yoga class…in person at the Comer Center at work. A friend of mine suggested it out of the blue one morning and thought I'd give it a try so we went together.

I loved it!!

It wasn't necessarily a beginner class, but it was very realistic and with a relaxed teacher and environment. I actually enjoyed the poses and was able to do a lot of them. Downsides: I was having a lot of "stretching" pain near my incision scar, but I've had problems the last several years in general, so just need to note to be careful. Also, it really made me realize how weak my core has gotten. Before I had kids I really took a lot of pride in how strong my abs were and I was always the one to do the most sit-ups in gym class (Not you Nikki Bull…ME)! Alas, after 3 kids, it's just not the same.


But, I have a lot of belief that working hard and challenging your body will get results. I definitely want to keep up with the class. Have I gone back?


But I will, I will.
For the love of downward dog I will!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thank You Japan

Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday were filled with a lot of work, another dinner and more things learned. As the end of the trip came to a close I had mixed emotions about it. I was very homesick and ready to be home with all of my boys...but at the same time I was feeling sad about leaving the Japan people and office.

I don't feel I can do a very good job at describing the culture that I experienced there and the people I met. In the corporate environments I have been in over the past decade there are a lot of "office politics", a lot of competition and a lot of "show".

This is not at all what I experienced during this business trip.

I have never seen so much respect and appreciation in the workforce, and among people as a whole. People are not "loud". People are not all about making sure they get credit for something or about being right. In the same breath, there is a huge effort to get everything done possible, a lot of hours put in and a lot of hard work. There is a sense of organization, confidence in culture and foundation.

I am humbled by this.

I wish I was more like so many positive examples seen from the team - in my career and personal life both.

Thank you Japan for your hospitality, and the country will always be in my heart!

Sunday with Kanae

The original plan on Sunday was to take an English speaking city tour of Tokyo…alone. As time inched closer and my confidence in navigating the public transpiration system got lower I decided to pass up the tour.

But in doing that something even better came out of it and it was the best day I spent during my 10 days in Japan!

Kanae offered to meet me in the morning and spend the day showing me around! All I had to do was take the subway over to Yokohama and meet her. I made it over there fine and without any hiccups and we hopped back on the train to Eno-shima Island.

The day was SO much fun and I saw so many things: Eno-shima Island, Mt. Fuji, a traditional Japanese Wedding, The Great Buddha of Kamakura and a lot of places to shop. The views were beautiful and the company was even better. Lots of getting to Kanae more and a lot of great insight into the Japanese culture from a woman.

We ended up heading back at about 4 that afternoon, and it was nice to get settled back into the room and get ready for the week.

I am SO thankful for Kanae and the great Sunday we had!

A Day of Rest


The work week in Japan was a busy, hard-working and wonderful week, but I was looking forward to Saturday to take a break and catch up on some shut eye.

And that's exactly what I did.

I fell asleep without even getting ready for bed and didn't wake up until noon on Saturday. It felt like the entire day was gone. By about 2pm I figured I should get out and try and find some food, and headed over to the train station where there is a whole floor of different food to choose from.

When I got over there I ended up finding a place with pastries and sandwiches where you can grab a tray, pick your own choices and then pay at the register.

That works for me!!

I ate pastries the rest of the day while working, watching Japanese T.V. and playing words with friends.

Great day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Remember how I said there was a peacefulness and quiet aura about the city streets of Japan?

That does not apply to Tokyo.

Friday we worked until about 3:30 and then Inabe-san, Takashi, Takeo and myself headed out to visit Tokyo. This was quite the adventure. I lost count of how many trains we took the get over to the area, which was in the "town" of Shibuya. Large shopping district broken out into many areas ranging from a "teen" street to high end shopping malls with the typical brand names you would see in a luxe area. We spent about 3 hours walking around, and they were even nice enough to take me into Kiddyland (famous toy store in Japan) and I found some gifts for the boys that are like legos but smaller. When built they create Tokyo Tower and Kaminarimon.

After shopping we found a Japanese pizza place. Very good! Had good conversation as always and was once again thankful to be sitting, enjoying food and talking about Japanese culture in comparison to American culture and getting to know my dinner dates as not just co-workers but also "friends".

After dinner Takashi and I rode back from the area to Shin Yokohama and I was very happy to be going back with someone. There is about a 4% chance I would have made it back to my hotel with the way the JR system runs.

Random Rememberings

• When I lost my phone I told a few people I was "crossing my fingers" that it was found (and made the gesture). I was asked later what that meant (crossing fingers). When I explained several people responded my clasping their hands together as if in prayer.
• I noticed a lot of the trains, buildings and restaurants were not running air. They said that ever since the earthquake they need to save energy, especially with the summer coming up. A lot of buildings and areas turn off their lights after a certain time at night to conserve as well.
• Rainy season starts next month and runs into July. It becomes very humid.
• Clipping nails in the evening is a big superstition. If you do this you will not be with your parents when they die. I needed to file my nails last night but I waited until this morning…yes it was just filing but I didn't want to take the risk.
• Tissue paper seems softer.
• Toilet paper is thinner.
• You always receive you a warm towel before eating.
• A majority of the restaurants have a button you push when you're ready to order (think Studio Movie Grill), and the waiter/waitress shows up immediately. If there is no button you call to them. Very different than in America. In America you sit and wait…and wait...sometimes for a very long time.
• Many gather to temple or shrine for New Years to watch the sun rise, then toss coin in temple water, make wish and pray.
• Kimonos are not worn as often, more by older generation or while drinking tea/tea lesson.
• The people who were effected by the earthquake and tsunami and who lost their houses and cars are still required to make payments on those debts, even though they were destroyed.

Very thankful for this day!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Did I Just Eat?

Thursday was a tough morning. The night before I was up late working and was done about 2am but unable to sleep. I guess the time difference was doing a number on me and I fell asleep about 4…woke up at 8am.

Another productive day in the office. Worked through lunch and was able to head out for dinner again with some of the team…this time Kentaro was able to meet us!

Kentaro is the person I had been in a lot of contact with for the past year, but he left the company a couple of months ago. I am SO thankful I was able to see him Thursday night!!

We had dinner at UEMON near Shin Yokohama Station. Bar, food, loud, lovely. This was the most experimental dinner yet. Salad that appeared to have pepper on it was actually the eyes of little fish. Crunchy I might add. There were kabobs with meat…but not just any kind…pieces of the heart and liver of I believe they said…a horse.

Am I correct?

Does it make a difference if I'm wrong? It was heart and liver and that's all that matters.

The whole meal was delicious but I have to say the "liver" was not my most favorite thing I've ever put in my mouth.

Drinks this week have been quite the pleasure as well. After being asked what I drink in America and answering Dr. Pepper and cosmopolitans they have been ordering me "fruity" Japanese wine with very good flavor. One night my drink had a bit of an apricot taste and I could have had a handful of those, but the business rule for me is stick to one.

Kentaro was quite entertaining and Takeo, Takashi and Inabe-san were there as well so it was a perfect way to end the day.

Many thanks for another amazing day!


Wednesday morning I woke up very rested and ready to go. I got more than 8 hours of sleep which is more than I typically get at home with 3 kids.

Went into the office without grabbing breakfast. Definitely didn't feel hungry enough to have a meal. Had a call in with the US in the morning and a lot of work and organizing. Takashi brought me lunch from the convenience store (egg sandwich and dessert). It was very good.

Hiroki san and Takeo were gracious enough to take me to Chinatown for dinner that evening. It was about a 20 minute taxi ride over to the area. It was raining and had been ever since I arrived. We enjoyed a meal at Manchinrou in China town. The front of the restaurant was decorative and beautiful. Inside the colors were just as vibrant and I felt very under dressed. When I travel for business I still typically dress for comfort as there is a lot of walking, but it's time like these I wish I had changed.

I counted 12 columns on the menu…and it was a course for each column. The food was amazing, and it was filling! The company was great as usual and I've been learning a lot of Japanese viewpoints, culture and way of life.

Random Learnings

• When I asked what was the first things they thought of when mentioning the US the answers were: Coke, The Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood movies.
• There are 3 forms of written Japanese.
• The men (that I have been around) don't cook.
• "Hot Springs" seem to very popular here. (Like a spa)
• They are not allowed to work in the office on Friday nights after 5:45 (but some people sneak back in).
• The way birthdays are written is confusing to me. So if your birthday was April 8th, 1965, you would see 22 04 08. The 22 stands for how long it's been since the last Emperor passed away. The last one died in 1989 and when the next one dies it will start over at 0.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tuesday in Yokohama

What day is it again? Everyone warned me about the jet lag, but it is really catching up to me. I'm writing this on Thursday and thinking back to Tuesday.

Tuesday was the first day in the office. Noriko met me at the hotel again to walk me over to Lands' End. It is a very short walk, about 5 minutes total time. The weather was humid and cloudy. Arrived at the office. It looks a bit like a bank building in a strip of offices…tall, gray, glass. LE has the 3rd and 4th floors. These are not large floors. Tomoko gave me a very nice tour of both floors and introduced me to a lot of people, yet it was very quiet. The desk I am sitting at has a nice view outside and privacy.

A few meetings and lots of prep work the first day. 7 of us walked over to Modern Grill for a welcome lunch. The food was incredible and the restaurant was very nice. Getting to know the team has been a very positive experience.

I was lucky enough to be taken out to dinner as well by two team members and we enjoyed a meal at Kurobuta-an. Very traditional Japanese restaurant..shoes off. I've been eating and drinking anything ordered for me and of course loving the new food. I can't say everything I've tried has been great, but MOST of it has!! I think the most important thing is…don't always ask what you are eating!!

I've noticed in almost all the restaurants they have buttons you can press when you are ready to order. Very convenient.

Tuesday night after dinner was quiet and I went to sleep right away. Got a lot of rest and was ready to start the next day feeling refreshed and productive! If only I could say the same for this Thursday jetlag!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Goal Complete: Visit Another Country

The plane touched down at the Narita airport at about 4:15 on Monday afternoon. From there it was through customs, to the bag claim, and then what seemed like a second customs (2 forms too) and to the bus ticketing counter. I got a ticket to Shin Yokahama Station with 10 minutes to spare. I was warned to make sure and catch the bus at the exact time, and that was a good tip. The buses came and went down to the minute and even pulled away from the curb at the same time…it was like watching synchronized swimming…but with transportation!

The bus was about a 2-hour ride, and as soon as I stepped off Takashi and Noriko were there to meet me. We walked over to the hotel and they got me checked in. I'm VERY thankful they were there to handle that. Got up to the room and they also helped me figure out the water system (turning on hot water). Thanked them and got my things settled in for the evening. Reach into my back pocket for my phone...and…phone…gone.


I even remember thinking to myself on the bus that this is too easy…easier than I anticipated…it's too good to be true and something needs to go wrong.

This was it.

I search everything and everywhere in the room and no luck. There's no phone in the room to call Noriko. I go downstairs to try and use the pay phone and could not figure it out. I don't attempt to ask the gentleman at the front desk because it didn't seem to speak much Engligh. I decide to walk back over to the station hoping the bus is still there. The bus is gone. Go to the ticket office in hopes of a lost and found. They don't understand me. I spend about 20 minutes trying anyways, pointing to my ticket, motioning the use of the phone. No luck. They send me upstairs to the hotel lobby in the building and the front desk clerk calls the bus line to ask and they were closed. They give me a number to call in the morning. I find this all very strange since I was just down in the actual bus station, but I take the number and cross my fingers anyways that there is hope in the morning.

Long story short: my phone is found and they had a courier bring it back to me a day later. This could not have happened without Noriko's help, that's for sure.

First impression observations:

• Everything seems very structured and organized.
• It's more quiet than I expected it to be.
• Everyone drives and walks on the left hand side.
• I see a lot of bright colors in signs, but not in what people are wearing.
• The cars seem small.
• People walk everywhere.
• The toilets are very high-tech. There are buttons just to lift and lower the seat in addition to other buttons that I can only imagine what they do.
• The food is very different, particularly the breakfast I had the first day..the eggs tasted like fish.
• TV is very entertaining and everyone seems very happy and energetic, on TV.
• This is the most hospitable place I've ever been too. Everyone makes sure I am taken care of, food, questions, transpiration, sight seeing, work supplies, etc.
• Everyone is very polite.
• I've only been in meetings with men.

I keep forgetting I am here on business as I am enjoying myself so much. Friday will be the first excursion to Tokyo so I will be curious to see how that compares to Yokahama.

Thankful to be here!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


So here I am, sitting in the Chicago International airport on my 6th Mother's Day, waiting to board a plane for the first time to Tokyo, Japan. Can't say I ever planned on realistically heading to Asia, especially on my own, and it's never been at the top of my list for places to go.

The morning has been a smooth one so far. I was up before 6, in the shower and still packing. The boys trickled up/down into the living room all before 6:30. We were out the door a little after 7. They dropped me off at the Madison airport (so glad I didn't have to drive to Milwaukee) and it was an easy check-in. AA surprisingly didn't charge to check my bag, but I suppose if you're paying that much for a flight maybe it's a perk? It was a 30 minutes flight over to Chicago where I now sit for the next 3 hours before boarding the Narita plane. It's always quite the walk from terminal to terminal here, and today was no exception. I took my time doing it this go around, and also stopped to exchange currency. $150 got me 10,000 Yen. I'm a little worried at how far that will get me. But all I really need for the next few days or so is a few meals and a bus ticket from Narita to Shin Yokohama Station. This flight leaves at 1:30 pm and I will arrive in Tokyo at 4:15 pm on Monday afternoon, then a 2-hour bus ride to the station. Thankfully someone from the office is supposed to meet me there to get me to the hotel.

The feeling I have right now takes me back to a few other travel "firsts". My first flight by myself to California, my first international flight to Italy and my first culture shock in Paris with Keith. All "life-changing" events, and I'm sure this one will be no less.

Off to grab my last American meal for 10 days, and soak in the comfort of "home".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kids in the Rotunda Series

Each Saturday the Overture Center has a series called "Kids in the Rotunda" which are FREE artistic programs designed for children and families.

Back in March Keith and I took the boys for the first time and we were very impressed. We saw Clare Norelle, who performed multicultural songs and stories. She was great up on stage and Kolbe was really interested and participated along with the other kids. Nick and Erik were a little distracted, and didn't want to sit through all of it. We had to bribe them with cheetoes to get a little more time in. I think it would have helped if we hadn't gotten there quite so early, but you know me, that's tough to do.

We'll definitely try it again, but it's much better for Nick and Kolbe for now!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Can't Wait Until...

the weekend...my next paycheck...sleeping in...eating chocolate...seeing the boys...going out with a friend...watching a TV show...

I could flood pages with things that run through my head that start with "I can't wait until..."

I mean...ALL the time.

Are most people like that?

It makes it really hard to "live in the moment".

Keith has been out of town and I took a couple of days off to stay home with the boys. I had been looking forward to it because it seems like I have been working a lot and not completely "engaged" at home. As much as I have been looking forward to it I struggle with really focusing on them, or on anything, for any real length of time. I always have something else running through my head...from cleaning, bills, getting to the store, work, sleeping, what to do after they go to bed, next weekend, when Keith gets home...anything.

How can I be thinking about the next things to look forward to when I haven't even finished the last thing I was looking forward to?

I suppose most people have a million thoughts in any given moment. I have had a few instances the last 2 days where I've been able to really take something in and savor it. Tonight when I laid Erik down (which I do most nights and do the same routine with him) I took some time to just sit there and hold him, stare at him, laugh with him and not think about anything else at all. Everything was about him and me and that special time. I remember how he smelled (because I had just given him a bath earlier and wondered how in the world can this precious boy already smell like feet?) I remember what he was wearing, his smile, his sounds and I really enjoyed it-more than I usually do.

No other thoughts filling my head...no "I can't wait until he falls asleep so I can get up". It was perfect.

I need to have more times like that, except for the occasional "I can't wait to blog about this..."!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dallas Family Visits!

Spring Break in Dallas took place the middle of March, so my grandparents, Mom, sister and cousin came up to visit. I know they were really excited to leave the warmth of Texas for the icy cold wind! ;)

We had a great time! They arrived Sunday afternoon and we had a good home-cooked meal and relaxed for the night. We spent the next 4 days exploring Madison. The Cave of the Mounds, Ella's Diner, the Veterans Museum, the casino and lots of thrift shopping!!

My family finally got to see the Lands' End campus too. We walked around and shopped in the employee store.

Sleeping was comfortable and there was plenty of room for everyone. I know Kolbe was super excited that my sister was here to play! When they got up to head out on the last day I was sad to see them leave, but happy to not be cooking for 10 people anymore!!

Trying to convince them to come up for Spring Break 2012! Just one step down from Miami Beach, you know!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Liliana's

Long time, no type. My ex-work husband sent me a note driven by the longing for my blog posts, so now it's catch-up time! Can't disappoint the EX!


A few months ago Keith and I met up with our "new" friends, Jodi and Randy, to try a new place in the area. It was three of my all-time favorite things to do: hang out with friends, get a date night with Keith and try and new restaurant! This outing satisfied all!

I was impressed with the place. It's a semi-fine dining with a New Orleans style and flavor. The atmosphere was nice, and there was live music playing with a nice jazzy sound to it. We all split some appetizers and Keith and I split a meal. If I were still a young woman in my prime I'd remember what we had, but sorely I only remember the flavor being nice and spicy. I wasn't able to eat a whole lot.

The company and conversation was superb and we hope to be able to have a night out like that with good friends again!!

Etouffe excellence!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Erik!

I can't believe it's been 2 years (that's what most parents say as their little ones get older, right)? It's true, but I'm more dumbfounded by the fact that Keith and I have survived the last 2 years being outnumbered by 3 boys!

Congrats to us!!

Back to Erik.

We decided since Erik's birthday was on a Wednesday we would celebrate his birthday the Sunday before. We had plans to head over to Chuckee Cheese, play some games and head back home for presents and cake. Julie and Jamie were going to join us for the festivities!!

Uh oh. Here comes the snow and ice.

It started coming down really heavy that morning, so after JJ made it about 10 minutes towards our house from Pewaukee they had to turn around and go home. We had to explain to Erik that their safety came before him. He was so upset. (No, not really, but we missed them anyways).

We decided to still head over to Chuck's and brave the ice. Mostly because we were set to have a date night later that evening and it didn't seem right to not venture out for that but turn around 6 hours later and go out just the 2 of us (see ya)!!

We had fun. Came back home and enjoyed the ugly yet scrumptious cake I made. Opened presents. Had a couple meltdowns (Erik, not me). Took naps!

I'm very thankful for the last 2 years and I enjoy watching Erik grow!
Happy Birthday Baby Erik!

Sigh of Relief

After 3 months, 2 ultrasounds, 1 cat scan and countless doctor visits later, today is the first time I feel relief in awhile. Oh, don't forget the approximate $1500 I owe out of pocket too.

Last night I got the results from my last ultrasound and my cyst is GONE!! I was hoping for it to be smaller, and then next steps would be another follow-up in 6-weeks until it eventually went away. Thankfully it went away during this round and I don't need to do the ovarian cancer test that the doctor was suggesting 6 weeks ago.

Huge sigh of relief here.

Whenever I receive a "clean bill of health" it definitely makes me stop and think about the fortunate things in my life. Health should be #1 and it's something that most often I take for granted.

Just this morning I saw someone pushing a child in a wheelchair to school. Think about what it's like to take care of someone in a wheelchair (I can't imagine) and then get out there and walk in the freezing cold, snow and icy streets. Who am I to complain about having to get my kids dressed and myself for the winter and get them out the door?

Then on the way to work I saw an elderly man who drove to his mailbox to get the mail. It makes sense with how far away it was from the farm house, and having to walk across the ice in the driveway. It seems like a petty thing when I complain about running out in the front in the cold to grab the mail.

There are countless times around town that I see people standing out in the nasty weather waiting at the bus stop. Mothers with their kids in strollers, elderly people carrying bags of groceries; as I drive by in my warm and comfortable car.

So today is one of those days where I am thankful I can walk, have a car, warm clothes, kids to take care of…and most of all…


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jill & Ollie Visit WI

This is late. Jill and Ollie came to visit about 2 months ago right before Christmas. We had a blast!

They flew into Milwaukee on Friday so Kolbe and I went out to get them from the airport. We came back home and let the boys play for a few hours out in the snow, hung out around the house, and then dropped the boys off at the gym (Parents Night Out) for a few hours so Jill and I could grab some dinner and catch up.

Had a great meal at Villa Dolce (my fav)!

Throughout the weekend we squeezed a lot in. Taking the boys to the Caves, sledding on the hill, walking on the ice, eating at Ella's Diner and driving over an hour to get to the Train Barn! The boys spent a lot of time outside, making cupcakes and watching movies and I think they had fun hanging out together. I can't believe Jill and Ollie took the time to come out and stay with us. I know it must have been hard with all 3 of our loud and crazy boys!

What a great best friend I have!

There were a lot of times I watched Kolbe and Ollie and definitely wished they lived closer to each other to play more often. Jill and I were the exact same age they are right now when we met and started a friendship, and I think it's really neat that now our kids are able to play together and share experiences!

You can't ask for anything better than that!
Thanks Jill and Ollie!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Initially, I was going to title this post "Old Age", but it's not necessarily old age I'm experiencing, it's more just a grouping of "changes" that I've noticed over the last several months that I should just accept.

1) I absolutely loathe the mall. Everything about it. The amount of people packed into a single space, the people standing around waiting for you to buy, the play area, the food court, the sounds, the mall walkers. All of it. I remember LOVING the mall. I could spend hours and hours walking around shopping, having lunch, seeing movies and just hanging out with friends. Now if I have to go I rush in to get what I need and leave.

2) I'm addicted to thrift shops. 25 years ago my grandmother used to drag me around to flea markets and garage sales. They were tolerable, but it wasn't the greatest thing in the world. When I started being able to drive on my own I never went back. But now, in the last year especially, I find myself going every single weekend. (So does my Mom and Grandmother). I like looking for stuff for the kids, clothes that would fit into my wardrobe and anything that I don't want to spend full price on. I'm also determined to find a hidden treasure where I can turn around and sell it for gobs of money.

3) I refuse to watch anything on MTV anymore. No more Road Rules, Teen Mom, Real World and whatever else they're playing now - it's sure not music videos! I can't tolerate watching teens and young adults and all the drama. I feel like I can't really relate to that age group anymore, and it's definitely not something I idolize to be.

4) My taste in clothes has changed. Or should I say, what I CAN wear has changed. I can't say I've always been the most fashion-forward dresser. I think I have an eye for what looks nice and what doesn't, but replicating a look is not my forté. Now, I look at clothes in the store and find myself picking things that are a style shift from where I was even 5 years ago. No more sleeveless shirts, no more short shorts, nothing even remotely close to a "club" outfit will be seen on this body anytime in the near future, or ever.

In a moment of reflection on these, I sound old. That's my personal opinion about my own process of aging, and not so much what society constitutes as "old".

Maybe I'm just getting there in my head sooner than I'd like, or maybe I'm just going through "changes"?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Goal Complete: Take the Boys Bowling

Enough said.

New Reward System

Keith and I have been doing a reward system with the boys ever since Kolbe put his first dish in the dishwasher about 4 years ago. I quickly drew up a star chart and decided that one dish constituted a completion of a "chore".

The star charts were quite a success, but we got bored of it and decided to switch to marble jars. By this time Nick was old enough so I'd say we've been doing the marble thing about 2 years now. Rewarding good behavior by giving marbles and taking them away for bad behavior. Once full they get a reward (toy). This system works great, but the older they get the more they challenge us and push the limits so we (meaning I) decided it's time for another change!

I have been eyeing these charts for at least 6 months now, always saying "no" in my head due to the cost. I definitely didn't want to have buyers remorse over something that wasn't a super cute article of clothing.

But this weekend I gave in and bought 2 of them. One for Kolbe and one for Nick…we'll get one for Erik when he's a bit older and when we're $20 richer.

I have to say, we're only on Day #3 but this chart is WORKING! Our boys are really responding to it. Admittedly, it does take a lot more time and effort. We had to sit down with them and explain how it was going to work and choose the items they needed to work on for the week: things like not whining, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, etc. Then we explained how if they do those things (5 times for each in a week) then they can pick an item from their list (getting ice cream, eating at Ella's, $5 or going to Chuckee Cheese, etc). We really have to pay attention a lot more to their actions and interact with the chart more which holds us all more accountable. It makes me stay on top of my game too.

I told the boys I would lay out their clothes for them each night so they were ready to go and hanging on a shelf in their closet. Well both mornings this week I've heard Kolbe jump out of bed, get himself dressed and go downstairs. When I get down there he's completely ready and tells me "I'm all grown up and dressed on my own, so I can get my reward!".

We might be in the honeymoon phase of the chart but that's OK with me!! I HIGHLY recommend the Melissa and Doug charts!! Glad I coughed up the dough!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Love Day!

Remember being in elementary school and celebrating Valentine's Day? I wonder if kids now have that same nostalgia? Having brown paper bags at your desk, wondering who I would get a Valentine from. How many would I get? Would I get more than most people in the class and would I get one from the boy I had a crush on?

Everything was hand-made and everything was a big deal. It definitely wasn't a mass production of Spongebob cards the size of a credit card back in 1985.

Those were the days.

Now, Valentine's Day really isn't a holiday I think too much about. I like chocolate, that's the best part. I think my excitement over it all ended when my 20's ended. Now I live through my kids. And as my procrastinating side and parental side merged I ended up working on stuff this weekend and somewhat enjoying it. 38% chore and 62% fun.

I brought strawberries and marshmallows into work that were dipped in chocolate. Those were fun to make. Helped Nickolas and Kolbe get their cards ready for school (Spongebob and kittens). And Keith made rice crispy treats for 3 classes at his school. And we bought chocolates for all the boys' teachers. Now if I were a SuperMom we would have sat all weekend and created hand-made cards like in the "good 'ol days". But I'm no SuperMom!

I'm looking forward to seeing what the boys bring home, and going through the cards (aka seeing Barbie, Spongebob, and whatever other trendy characters are out there). I'm also looking forward to seeing if they brought home…


Happy Love Day Everyone!