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The Waiting Is The Hardest Part


This girl. Sigh.

At the time this post goes up, I’ll be delivering her to our vet for another procedure: today she’s having a cyst removed from her front leg. We’ve visited our vet more frequently in the past eighteen months; that happens as a dog (or anything, really) gets older. It’s hard. She’s ten and a half.

My other beagle (the late, great Bijoux) lived to be thirteen. She was my first baby: we brought her home two years before D was born. I spent the last three years of her life panicking over each and every health incident (and in between them!) because I was worried that, each time, THAT would be it. It’s a terrible way to live and I swore I wouldn’t do that again, and I haven’t…so far.

The dropping off part on days like these, though. That kills me. Anxiety runs high and the tears are just under the surface as I hand over the leash to one of the vet techs. The great thing is, I adore my vet. Coincidentally, he attended vet school with Bijoux’s vet, who was an angel on earth. I have always loved that connection; it feels cosmic in a way. I love his “bedside manner” and trust him completely. So why the anxiety? It’s that fear of loss. That’s what happens when we open up our hearts to someone, whether it’s a fellow human being or a furry family member.

Logically I know she’s going to be fine today. It’s conveying that idea to my heart that is tougher, and I’ll be working on that every single minute until I get the phone call that says she came through just fine and I can pick her up anytime after 3:00.

Send a good thought her way, would you? (Mine too, if you don’t mind.) Thanks.

Edited at 7:30 p.m.: She’s home and although looking quite pitiful (I would be, too!), she’s going to be just fine. Thank you for keeping her in your thoughts today, everyone!


Movie Popcorn. We Have a Love/Hate Relationship.

Ah, movie popcorn.

It’s one of my very favorite things to eat in the entire world. And yes, I know it’s horrible for me, especially with extra butter. Let’s just get that out of the way. It’s HORRIBLE for me. Horrible.

But I love it so.

I happen to think that the theaters who have the little “add-your-own-butter” stations did that just for me.

I get a little carried away. In fact, I expect my local theater to take away those stations someday, and it’ll be because of me.

Last summer, I cut way, way back on the movie popcorn and then I gradually started eating it again. But ONLY when I go to the movies.

(Which is a couple times every month.)

I can order a small popcorn with no problem.

small movie popcorn

But the medium is usually only a dollar more.

medium movie popcorn

And the large, bigger-that-my-head bucket? Only a dollar more.

I mean, I don’t HAVE to eat all of the popcorn in the bucket, right?

By the way, that’s terrible logic: to spend a dollar more on something I won’t completely finish.

(Not that I have never completely finished a large bucket of popcorn, alone. Because I have. Several times. Okay, many times.)

That’s the logic I use every time, though. I’m saving money, and can take popcorn home for later. As if I need it for later. Anyway.

On Saturday, Jim and I went to see “The Judge”. Phenomenal movie, by the way.

I ordered my money-saving large bucket of popcorn, ate half, and then threw the rest away on the way out because I had a stomach ache.

“I don’t think I can eat popcorn at the movies anymore,” I said to Jim. “It made me feel really icky.”

He stared at me with a look that said, “After nearly twenty-eight years of marriage I think I know you better than that…”

I responded to his silence by saying, “I’m serious. I’m not eating it anymore. Cold turkey for me. I don’t like the way it makes me feel because I can’t eat just a little bit!”

“Uh-huh,” he said.


The chance to prove myself came more quickly than I had anticipated: we took in another movie yesterday, Brad Pitt’s “Fury”. It was playing at our favorite theater, the one that has a full menu. We decided to see the 1:00 show and eat lunch.

“Great,” I said, “we’re eating lunch and no popcorn! I can do this.”

“Uh-huh,” he said.

Once we were seated in the theater, I looked at Jim and said, “I’m getting a burger for lunch. But no popcorn…WAIT. I mean, this is really hard. No popcorn? How can I see a movie and not eat popcorn? Oh my gosh, what was I thinking, no popcorn?? WHO AM I? Well. I mean, I can TOTALLY control myself. I’ll just order a popcorn WITH my burger and, you know, control myself. By only eating a few pieces. Or a handful. I mean, I certainly can stop before I get a stomach ache. I’m a control freak! Control my popcorn intake? TOTALLY. Okay, that decides it. I’m getting popcorn. I know I said I wasn’t going to but I totally am. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m doing it. You hear me? I’M DOING IT. With extra butter. No regrets. I’m in total control here. Control of my popcorn destiny. Yes, I’d like a burger and a popcorn. Extra butter. Thank you.”

As I sank back into my seat I watched my husband laugh and shake his head, not surprised by my behavior in the slightest.

Man, I’m lucky to have him. And movie popcorn with extra butter.


Five Random Things About Me: The Childhood Edition

About a week ago, Deb Rox tagged me to do the “Five Random Things About Me” meme that’s making its way around the blogosphere. Sort of. Okay, I think she tagged everybody. ANYWAY…

I’m putting my own spin on it by sticking to stuff from my childhood. I imagine these five things probably wouldn’t make very interesting posts separately and in fact now that I think about it, clustering them might not be very interesting either. Oh well, it’s NaBloPoMo Day 2 and I’m going for it.

1. One of my biggest, proudest accomplishments in third grade was the time I became a Lemon Twist Champion by doing one thousand twists without tripping or stopping. My gym teacher gave me a paper certificate that had a little yellow felt lemon with “1000” written on it with black Sharpie stapled in the bottom right corner. I still have this certificate in a box in my crawlspace.

2. I got my first taste of girl drama in fourth grade when I was talking on the phone to one of my best friends about a boy who was the subject of my first crush. I was telling her how dreamy he was and she kept asking me questions to further draw out more information and emotion, and then suddenly she said, “Guess who’s on the phone with us, listening?” (Hint: It was him. Did I mention he was her neighbor?) That call destroyed me for a few days. By the way, my anger was short-lived: I forgave her and he eventually became a good friend.

3. My favorite television show back then was “Charlie’s Angels”. Kate Jackson’s Sabrina was my favorite angel, by far. She was pretty, smart AND sassy, and I found her fascinating. Whenever I had to come up with a girl’s name for writing, Barbies, or role-playing with friends, it was almost always Sabrina.

Sassy Sabrina

Source: Townsend Agency Tumblr

4. In fifth grade I became a member of our school Safety Patrol. I applied for it at my mom’s insistence and I had no desire to do it, but I have to admit that once I was the right-hand girl for the crossing guard on the major street near my house, I might have really enjoyed the power trip.

5. My family was preparing to move to Texas in the summer after fifth grade, and I was trying to soak up all of the “lasts” in my hometown. One day I walked over to the shopping center by myself (totally safe in those days) for one last time to get some Swedish Fish from Sears. Before going home I made a detour to the record store where I bought, for ninety-nine cents, the 45rpm of “Double Dutch Bus”, which I had wanted so badly; I was determined to get it that day if it killed me. I got in tremendous trouble when I returned home because I was gone for too long and my mom had been worried, but—other than the “getting in trouble” part—the freedom I experienced that day while shopping all by myself remains one of my favorite childhood memories…and “Double Dutch Bus” remains one of my favorite songs of all time.

And now? I’m tagging you. All of you.


NaBloPoMo: Here We Are Again.


Hello November first.

This is the day on which there are two kinds of bloggers:

1. I’m doin’ it!!
2. No. Way. You are all insane.

It seems like there’s no gray area when it comes to National Blog Posting Month, and I’m fine with that. Really, no matter where you stand on the issue of blogging every single day during the month of November, you can’t deny that the event is a great unifier.

I THINK I have done November’s NaBloPoMo every year (all the way through) since I started blogging in 2007, but I’m not sure and I don’t want to go back and look. It doesn’t matter. That’s the great thing about doing this: even if you start the month going gangbusters and you fizzle out before the end, you’ve still succeeded at a certain level because you tried it in the first place. High five to all of us who start out strong!

Here’s something funny: I am a huge promoter/supporter of NaBloPoMo, but I’m actually creating more work for myself. One of the main components of my job at BlogHer is to track mentions of all things BlogHer, including NaBloPoMo. November is my second busiest month besides annual conference month, and yet here I am telling all my friends they should do this. Glutton for punishment? I guess so. Anyway…it’s fun!

I wrote a post last year that included some good tips for sticking through to the very end. You can read that here.
If you want to sign up for the official BlogHer NaBloPoMo blog roll and be eligible for prizes (as if getting into a writing habit and gaining some new readers weren’t prize-y enough!), you can do that here. (Sign up by 11/5!)

One of the biggest benefits of doing this is picking up a few new readers here and there. I always try harder to leave comments on blog posts in November so people know I was there, even though it really does take up the time. It’s important to be supportive! I encourage you to do the same.

So what do you say: are you in?

Here’s a list in no particular order, of friends who indicated on Facebook that they’d be giving it a go this year (ahem, at least to start!) OR friends whose commitment I discovered when reading their first post today. If you aren’t listed, leave your blog url in the comments! Let’s all join hands and support each other (until it’s time to leave a comment, then UNjoin hands to type, then join hands again!).

Enjoying This Life
Momo Fali
As Cape Cod Turns
Mommy Needs Coffee
Thin Spiral Notebook
Deb on the Rocks
Me, Myself, and Jen
Good Day, Regular People
Adventures in Babywearing
Redhead Reverie
Napkin Hoarder
Another Version of Mother
100 Routes Across America
Alphabet Salad
Life’s A Disco Ball
Jennifer Williams
Angela Amman
Up Popped A Fox
The Headless Family
Stop, Drop, and Blog
Baddest Mother Ever
Busy Since Birth
Journey of 1000 Stitches
Butterfly Confessions
Is There Any Mommy Out There?
Red Shutters
Life With Roozle (Casey actually blogs every day year round!)

Good luck to everyone! I look forward to doing more writing AND reading this month! Woo hoo! Go Team!

(Oh and one more thing: best of luck to all of my friends who are also participating in National Novel Writing Month! Go get ‘em, tigers!)



Empty Nesting Is Awesome, Except When It’s Not.

I love my life the way it is at this moment. I have one son who graduated from college and supports himself with an actual job, and I have another son who is a college sophomore, living only two hours from home. I work from home. I have the freedom to sleep in if I want, workout for as long as I want, not cook dinner for a whole week if I don’t want to, and most of all, pack a bag and take off to visit friends or accompany Jim on a business trip if I want, with no problem. Many of my friends who still have kids at home (which is about ninety-nine percent of them) tell me that I’m lucky, that sometimes they feel like they can’t wait for their kids to grow up, that they live vicariously through my crazy adventures.

But here’s the thing.
Empty nesting is awesome, except when it’s not.

The periods of exhilaration I feel when I am doing whatever I want to do—which is most of the time, and who could complain about that?—can be immediately followed by crushing lows: loneliness, a slight sense of having little purpose, and did I mention loneliness?

Not all the time. Not even half the time, or one-quarter of the time…but it hit me hard this week, having just returned from This Full House to my mostly-empty house. Jim has been on a business trip for nearly three weeks and although J was home when the cab delivered me from the airport, it was only for twenty-four hours until he had to return to the dorms. I’ve done this before, yet this time was different.

These feelings and the crying—oh my gosh, THE CRYING—that I have experienced over the last couple of days have made me feel like I’m having the newbie empty nester response I should have had more than a year ago right after we moved J into the dorm for freshman year. Why now??

I have no idea.

A sweet, smart friend told me that things happen in their own time and maybe I needed to process it all and maybe it’s not a delayed reaction at all but rather right on time. All I know is, I don’t like it. That goes along with being a control freak. Uncontrolled crying? NO THANK YOU.

That said and as you would expect, my plan is to try and turn myself around mentally and ride it out. Everything is the way it is supposed to be. My kids are doing great, my marriage is fabulous, and I am blessed in so many ways. I have to tell myself that this is completely normal and it’s only a matter of time before I’m back to my “old” empty nest-loving ways.

So while I struggle, I am keeping my eyes trained firmly on the light. It’s right there, at the end of this tunnel.


Jersey Girls

If we’re connected on Facebook or if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I just returned from a week in New Jersey with my sistuh-from-anuthuh-muthuh, Liz. You know that we had a blast whether we were just hanging out at the house with the entire family or gallivanting, just the two of us, down the Jersey Shore, from Seaside Heights all the way south to Cape May.

What you don’t know is that I did not open my laptop for six days.

Six. Days.

Other than while on the cruise our family enjoyed last summer when I didn’t have the choice (because I left it home), I have never kept my laptop closed for six days. Ever.

Liz and I had decided to take off of work for the duration of my visit but I brought it with me anyway, figuring that I’d check emails at night and it would be handy in case I wanted to blog. I didn’t. I still had my phone for Instagramming and checking those emails now and then, but I kept my online time extremely short compared to, well, any average day. It was glorious and so lovely.

I needed that break. Liz did, too!

As you might suspect, less time with a laptop means more time exploring the Shore and other favorite spots in New Jersey.

We made so many incredible memories out of the tiniest of moments and laughed so much that I’ll be smiling for a long time. Here are just a few of my favorite Jersey things:

Checking out Seaside Heights is always a must. I love that place so much. We took a nice long walk on the beach, and since it’s off-season we had almost the whole place to ourselves.

Beach at Seaside Heights New Jersey

We also went under the boardwalk to see what we could find (or not find) under there and watching the water come in from that angle was pretty awesome. We didn’t notice the “No Trespassing” signs until later. Oops.

Under the Boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey

We tend to look down a lot while on our beach walks so we can pick up interesting things, and of course I’m always on the hunt for sea glass, which is my favorite. Autumn must be a good time for sea glass at Seaside, because last year I picked up a bunch and this year I found a few good pieces, including a gorgeous blue/purple piece, which is much more rare than the brown, green, or clear ones.

New Jersey sea glass

We take lots of walks together when I visit, but not always on the beach. Liz has lots of beautiful parks and trails within minutes of her house. One evening we took a quick walk at one of her favorites before going home for the day. SO PRETTY.

Holmdel Park New Jersey

On Saturday morning we headed out early to spend the weekend in Cape May, all the way at the southernmost point of New Jersey. It was absolutely gorgeous. All of it.

Beachfront homes in Cape May New Jersey

We found a great place to watch the sun go down with a couple hundred other people at Sunset Beach, and sat there for about forty minutes just admiring the colors.

Liz and Melisa at Sunset Beach

Everyone clapped when the sun did its thing, and as we got up to go to the car Liz said, “Good job, sun!” Indeed.

Sunset Beach New Jersey

It was an absolutely perfect week of unplugging and spending time with some of my favorite people in the entire universe in one of my favorite places in the entire universe. I’m home now, feeling recharged, happy, and as always, grateful for the ability to just take off and make long-lasting memories with loved ones.


We Made It Out Alive!

As I mentioned last week, D and I had plans to go to Six Flags Fright Fest on Sunday, and we had a great time. It was wonderful to go there with no pressure to get on as many rides as we possibly could so we could feel like we got our money’s worth, since the tickets were a lovely gift. It was completely relaxing—well, except for seeing things like the blood red pool in front of the carousel at the park entry, the ghostly, creepy park decorations, and the regular people walking around with various deep wounds (and ninja stars) on their faces, applied by Six Flags employees at little kiosks all over the park. Did I mention I’m a big chicken? (as it turns out, it runs in the family.)

I was more and more convinced with each passing minute that I wanted to be out of there way before dark. AND THEN WE WENT THE WRONG WAY.


The lines were terrible and we only got on three rides in four hours (I would have purchased Express Passes if we had planned to stay all day long), but it wasn’t just about the rides. D and I enjoyed excellent conversation all afternoon: long queues are good for that, and so are Dippin’ Dots.

It was nice to catch up in that atmosphere, just waiting and walking (and shrieking on “Batman: The Ride”) together. He and I don’t get to spend much time together these days, since he’s twenty-two and living on his own in Wisconsin. Sunday afternoon was a real treat, hopefully for both of us.

When it was nearly 5:00, we rounded the corner and found ourselves back at the carousel where a Six Flags employee was lighting the lanterns that surrounded the blood pool.

“That’s it!” I said. “We’re outta here. The zombies will be arriving any second now.”

“I’m right behind you,” he said, and we left safely…and in one piece.

I thought I would take him out to dinner before dropping him off at his apartment, but in the end he took me out to dinner, as he was faster with the credit card when the check came. As the mom I naturally tried to tell him that he didn’t need to pay for my dinner and I had intended on paying for his, but he insisted. I have to say that it feels really nice to see a smile on your kid’s face when they can do something special like that. It was a sweet way to cap off our day.

Thanks so much to Chevrolet for the park tickets, and for the sweet ride: they gave me an Impala to drive for a week. This post is not sponsored by any means but I really wanted to mention the car because it was pretty awesome.

Chevrolet Impala

One of my favorite things about it is completely dorky; indulge me for a second. It makes the sweetest chime when it connects to a cell phone via Bluetooth.

See? Dorky. Anyway, I loved driving the Impala. I found it to have lots of similarities to the Buick Regal (another GM car, of course!) I bought in the spring, which is the best car I’ve ever owned. Thanks again to Chevy for the ride AND the rides. (See what I did there?) I thoroughly enjoyed them all!


All Is Quiet On New Year’s Day (Kind Of.)

Hey there, How YOU doin?

I don’t always write a little home page teaser for posts that are on my ad-free page, but I am sharing some really good news over there and I would really love for you to check it out.

Also, you’ll get to see why I already have plans on New Year’s Day.

Here’s a hint:

Door frame

Click here to read more.


Stay Hydrated, You. (And You, Too.)

I am going to Six Flags this weekend (with D) for the first time in years and years. Yikes.

I used to love Six Flags until it played a role in one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had as a parent. Long story short, when the boys were seven and ten we had an exciting day planned at the park. We were having one of those summer weeks during which it’s even sweltering hot in the morning, and literally the minute we handed over our tickets and entered the park, D passed out from heat stroke. It was a scary couple of days (understatement) and truly affected all of us for a long time. J even wrote about it somewhat randomly at school a couple of years later:

The most scary part of my life

From that point on, whenever we spoke about Six Flags, it was called “Sick Flags”. We have visited the park only once since that day, but it’s been a while.

Fast forward to my being offered park tickets by my friends at Chevrolet (this is not sponsored, by the way). The first thing I thought of was the whole “Sick Flags” incident, and the second thing I thought of was that since D and I are going alone, I’m likely going to be riding a bunch of coasters that I would have otherwise skipped if it wasn’t just the two of us and I could have waved at him and his coaster-riding companion from a bench. Eek.

Don’t get me wrong: I used to LOVE roller coasters—cough, cough, when I was a lot younger—but have you SEEN roller coasters these days? ROLLER COASTER DESIGNERS ARE INSANE. There, I said it.

Add to the insanity of today’s roller coasters the fact that I have a twenty-two year old son who has an ambition to skydive/bungee jump/*insert other adventurous “Hell no, not me, thank you very much” kind of sport here* some day.

So yes, I picked up some motion sickness medication for the occasion. I mean, how can we have a great mom and son day at the park if I get too sick for a funnel cake break?

Last night it occurred to me that D is spending Friday night and Saturday in Madison with a huge group of friends from college, and it’s likely that there will be alcohol involved.

(An aside: sometimes it feels so bizarre to have a son who is of drinking age.)

I didn’t feel the need to remind him about not drinking and driving because he and his friends have always been smart about that. Oh, and I spent the first six months after he turned twenty-one reminding him so I’m done. It DID occur to me, however, that drinking causes dehydration, and dehydration is one of the precursors to heat stroke.

No matter that it’s October and the daily highs around here are in the low sixties at best.

I decided to send him a text message about drinking lots of water, kidding/not kidding. He took it well. I’m not sure if he rolled his eyes but in my mind, he didn’t.

Drink water!

At any rate, I’m bringing some motion sickness medication for him, too. He’s not getting any younger, you know.


Playing Horse

Jim and I have been streaming the show “Welcome To Sweden”, which is an NBC sitcom produced by Amy Poehler (among others) and starring her younger brother Greg. It’s about a guy and his Swedish fiancee and the hijinks that ensue when they move from New York back to her home in Sweden. I find it hilarious, sweet, and extremely unique (subtitles!!), by the way, and Jim…does not.

Anyway, while watching the show I have noticed Swedish Dala horses in the background. Seeing them on television made me remember the three-inch, red Dala horse that my mom used to have hanging on the living room wall above the couch. When I was a kid I used to stand on the couch and take the horse off the wall (It was a keychain so it was a matter of taking the keyring off of a nail), play with it for a while, and then put it back. My mom still has it (because she keeps EVERYTHING), and in fact I remembered that it is currently on display in her kitchen.

Jim and I were in Tennessee for a wedding last weekend and spent the first night at my parents’ house. I found the horse on the baker’s rack in the kitchen, sitting in front of some cookbooks. It has been sitting there since my parents moved into the house eight years ago, completely unnoticed…until I mentioned it.

“I would love to have that Swedish Dala horse,” I said. “I have always loved that thing.”

I should have known better than to mention it in front of my dad because he’s a jokester who loves having an audience. He grabbed the horse off of the shelf–after not ever even noticing it was there, ever ever ever, I might add–and told me that he was holding the horse hostage unless I could convince my sister to give him “his” jukebox.

My sister has a mini Wurlitzer jukebox that our dad has coveted since the day he first laid eyes on it. He doesn’t stop talking about “his” jukebox and she has to nearly put it on lockdown when he’s in town, for fear he’ll gently pack it into the trunk of his car and drive it home. The situation became more intense a few years ago when she and I stood in line to meet Henry Winkler (aka “The Fonz”) and he signed her jukebox with “Jules, I love you! Henry Winkler.” Dad still wants the jukebox, and of course she wants to hand it over even less.

The idea that I would, number one, have ANY pull with my sister regarding that jukebox and, number two, would actually even consider trying to get her to trade that jukebox so I could get ANYTHING is ridiculous, but I enjoyed his creativity. I spent the evening watching him taunt me with that horse while we were playing cards. It was super-annoying, just how he likes it.

Swedish horse collage

So, it is what it is. I took a nice little picture of “my” Swedish Dala horse before leaving my parents’ house, and that was that.

Swedish Dala horse

My mom came home with us for the week and one of her first requests was to go to IKEA. I know what I’ll be looking for.