Friday, May 13, 2016

Tweens and Tours

Oh the joys of these You Tube sensations that our kids call "celebrities."  Do your kids talk about any of them?  Some of them are decent enough, and my twelve year old daughter will be the first in line to tell you how amazing Cameron Dallas or JC Caylen are.  Never heard of them?  Try living with a twelve year old!

I don't know that any of them really has any talent other than finding a fan base in tween girls, which prods them to post even more You Tube videos so that eventually they can be contacted by a PR company that is smart enough to say, "Hey, what if you did this crap on a stage and we charged ridiculous amounts of money for it?"  Bingo!  I confess, I am one of the mothers who has shelled out more than a few dollars for her daughter to have the "experience of a lifetime," at least according to said twelve year old.

Exhibit A - Noelle and Cameron Dallas.



This picture came by way of tickets, VIP passes, standing outside in San Francisco for six hours with homemade signs and tee shirts, and then following my kid through a sweaty mess of tweens for meet and greets, signed posters, "merch" shopping and a show.  I was in so much pain (thank you Plantar Fasciitis in my feet) and quite deaf by the end of the day.

But you know what?  She was happy.  She went home with wonderful memories and stories to share, making all of it worthwhile.  Would I do it again?  Maybe not THAT show, but we are heading down to Los Angeles this summer for another show of another "celebrity" that she adores.  I managed to score front row SEATS (actual seats this time) so she can yell and scream and ooh and ahh, whilst I SIT in my SEAT with my iPad.  Maybe the show will be fun for me too, but mostly I'm looking forward to a getaway with my daughter to southern CA.  I can't put a price on that.

Monday, February 29, 2016

My Achy Breaky Body

I might possibly have turned 40 last November.

FORTY.

I'm still a bit knocked out by that because I don't feel 40 on the inside.  I'm not sure how old I feel on the inside, actually.  I know I'm not stupid 15 or naive 25 -- I just know I feel young....ish.  On the outside however -- that's another story.

When did the aches and pains become "normal?"  And since when does a four mile walk with a friend leave my heel feeling bruised for weeks after?  And what's the deal with spicy foods affecting my insides for like three days??  I used to have a stomach of steel!  Now I eat a few jalapeño poppers and suddenly I'm popping Tums like they're candy.

Overall I suppose I shouldn't complain.  Except for the aches (and weird weakness in my hands that makes me drop EVERYTHING), I can say that I basically have my health, as does the rest of the family.  We keep busy and enjoy life, despite the constant of homework and housework.  During February we had something to do and somewhere to be every single weekend, so Russ finally asked if March could be a non-social month.  Our big plans for this coming weekend, amidst a big rainstorm, are Redbox movies and family time.  I think we're all ready for some down time.

What were we up to that kept us so busy, you ask?  Well I'll tell you!


  • A trip to San Francisco led to the most delicious pizza I've EVER EATEN at a fabulous place called Capo's.  I went to high school with the owner, who happens to make the best pizza on earth, and we have vowed to return as often as possible.  On that same night we saw the band Guster at the Fillmore, which was a fantastic concert thanks to them being so talented and hilarious.  Seriously, they played Frozen songs during intermission, which was one of three choices the audience got to vote for.
  • An overnight trip to Monterey with my daughter over ski week, which included more yummy food, incredible Pink Berry yogurt and a new purse in my life that I am very happy with.  We came across it in a window and kept going back to see if they would ever be open so that I could purchase it.  When they finally did, the owner felt so badly about making me wait that she knocked more money off.  I love a deal!
  • A day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with friends, followed by dinner with friends and cousins, which was also followed by one of the best glasses of wine I've ever enjoyed while taking in a view of the moon on the ocean and three of my favorite people in the world.  No complaints here!
  • A Valentine cocktail party where the fancy drinks were cotton candy with dry champagne poured over it, and something with rum called a "leg spreader."  Yeah.  You read that right.  I didn't actually try the latter, but I'll bet it was delicious!  My friend always throws a great party and we had a wonderful time seeing old and new friends.  
  • A surprise birthday party for one of my dearest friends from high school -- she turned 40 this last week and we needed to celebrate.  Her husband (my bff) set it all up and did a terrific job.  Fun was had by all and I think she was genuinely surprised.  Not an easy task!
Those are the highlights.  If you're still with me, I will say goodnight.  I just popped some Tums and I need to rest my heel.  It's 9:07pm and I'm wrecked.  Goodnight!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New House, New Experiences!

Here we are in September and it's been a whirlwind few months.

Some good things...some bad things...all around, nothing that our family can't survive and grow from.  I'm so glad that the four of us have each other.  What would life be without the core people you are surrounded by that have your back while you have theirs?  I'm definitely grateful.

The biggest life change -- we moved!  Yes, we bought a new house, sold our old one (though not necessarily in that order) and transported nearly everything we own about 1.5 miles across our small town.  And let me tell you something: I am NEVER doing that again!!

Sure, I say NEVER and maybe right now I actually mean NEVER.  Maybe I even mean NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.  But who knows what the future holds.  To be honest, if the future holds another move, it will also hold a day where I throw almost everything I own away just so that I don't have to move it again.

We were diligent about tossing a LOT out as we packed.  I mean, twice we had a junk hauler come and haul piles and piles of STUFF away so that we wouldn't bring it to the new house.  And yet somehow, three months later, we still have a garage FULL of boxes that we can't seem to get unpacked.  I actually hate the sight of boxes now.  I'm having what doctors call "cardboard rejection syndrome."  It involves a lot crying and huddling in the fetal position in a corner when I see more boxes.

Okay, not really.  But it feels like that sometimes!

We're back into the swing of things with school that started way too early.  Charlie is a high schooler now and we are feeling pretty impressed with the high school so far.  More importantly, we're very proud of the efforts he's making to get decent grades and stay on top of his work.  And I was super excited to find out today that he's going to be reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" this year in school.  That was a favorite of mine back in the day and I plan to follow along with him in the book when they start it.  I foresee great conversations in our future about Atticus and Scout and Boo.  We really enjoyed his time reading "The Outsiders" last spring, which was my first time actually reading it, so I have some inkling of what I'm in for.

Noelle is in her second year of middle school and so far having a great year.  I'm a little too thrilled that she is taking Drama and LOVES it.  The theater geek in me wants to see her pursue it in high school, too, so that I can go to all the plays and tell everyone she gets it from me.  Maybe I should bring my best actress award with me in my purse, just in case they don't believe me.

KIDDING!  (About bringing it, not about winning it.)

See?  Theater geek!  But that's where I met my best friend in the world 23 years ago, and we're still best friends to this day.  Check us out -- because why not??


Herb and Rose Zigkowski -- a nice older married couple that love the Cubs.  I very cleverly took my hair out of the grey bun before pictures.  What you can't see is my very sexy crocheted purse that I'm carrying.  And apologies to my mom for turning her very nice, not-old-lady sweater into part of my costume!

Anyway, the point is this -- if Noelle participates in Drama for the next few years, I feel strongly that she'll make lifelong friends and incredible memories.  I know I did.

I guess I should go unpack a few boxes now.

*sob*

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I had the incredible opportunity today to view the movie I wrote about a few posts ago -- NOBLE.



I knew going in that it was about a real woman who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children in Vietnam, but I didn't realize I would be so powerfully moved by what she herself went through to get to that place.  The movie takes you through the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman who was presented with challenges through much of her life, beginning at a very young age.



They broke everything but her spirit.  They took everything but her dream.  NOBLE, the award-winning feature film, is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision  who escapes the slums of Ireland and risks everything on the streets of Vietnam.

The drive that fills Christina is inspiring -- she never gives up and never loses hope in her efforts to change lives for the better.



NOBLE, in theaters May 8, stars Deirdre O'Kane (Moone Boy, Paths To Freedom), Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey, The Raven, Ailsa), Sarah Greene (The Guard, The Cripple Of Inishmaan), and Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones, Hunger, Safe House).



While not all of us are going to be led to move to another country and take on such a major endeavor, hopefully each of us who sees NOBLE will feel the desire to make changes in our own lives that will positively affect others around us.  Even the simplest of gestures that bring a smile to someones face are worth it, and I know that I myself feel inspired to see how I can do more of my part and teach my children to do the same.

Be sure to see NOBLE, which arrives in theaters May 8th.  You won't be sorry, and if you're like me, you'll be wishing you could give that lady a hug by the end!

The website is chock full of information: http://www.thenoblemovie.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break and a Broker

Spring has sprung, and spring break is upon us.  The kids are jumping for joy at not having alarm clocks or homework for a week.  Meanwhile, I still have kids that I babysit being dropped off at the crack of dawn, meals to prepare and a house to keep in order.  Some break!

The biggest chaos in our lives at the moment is that we have our home on the market.  Actually, we sold it a week ago, but we're "contingent."  I didn't understand how big the word "contingent" would be in my life until recently.  For those of you living contentedly in your homes and not obsessing every second about realty, this basically means that we will really and truly only sell if we're able to buy another house.  In our case, within 10 days.  And wouldn't you know it -- in the last ten days every house we were interested in was snatched up by another buyer.  So here we sit, praying that an amazing house pops up on the market and we edge everyone else out before the deadline.

Naturally, there are a bunch of houses out there for sale that are similar in price to the one we're selling.  But we happen to be looking at the next level up for our next home, where the pickings are slim.  Apparently we're not the only ones out there trying to upgrade from a three bedroom to a four, or from a one story to a two.  And to make things worse, if we don't find another house and we pass our deadline and fall out of contract, we're right back where we started.  Not the end of the world, but I admit I was a bit pleased at the prospect of not having to live in a "show ready" house every minute of the day.  Because these guys and their hair make that difficult.


There are highlights to having gotten the house show ready, though.  Like finding out there's such a thing as chemical cleaning for your carpets, which makes them so clean that you no longer see the "clean" spots under area rugs.  And the fresh paint on top of the fresh drywall means I don't have to hide holes that made their way into our lives over time.

A downside?  The garage has become the drop off point for anything we don't want showing, making it the most embarrassing place in the world for people to see.  I actually feel like apologizing to anyone who sees it, and then explaining that it's not my fault -- we were forced into it.  But of course anyone who has ever sold a house knows, the garage is your relocation space.  "If you don't use it every day, it goes in the garage."  That was good advice from my kick ass realtor, who by the way spent an entire day tackling our yards to make them better.  He even took out a bush that I'd always hated AND brought new rock over to cover up the older stuff.  We've since gone a step further and did this where the bush used to be.


Definitely an improvement.

And that's my life.  The usual routine with the fun addition of obsessing about house sales.  I guess it wouldn't be me if I wasn't obsessing about something!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

She is Noble -- Enter to Win Contest!

What does it mean to be a noble woman?

It's living fearlessly and loving recklessly!

She is Noble is inspired by the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman who traveled to Vietnam after experiencing an unforgettable dream.  As a result of her journey, she rescued millions of abused and homeless children.  Her story is told in the new movie NOBLE, coming to theaters Spring 2015.  The She is Noble campaign is designed to honor and celebrate inspirational women who change the world around them.

Who is that woman in your world?  In your neighborhood or school or church?  Whoever she is, we want you to have the opportunity to tell her story.





Find the time and nominate a noble woman at www.sheisnoble.com.  Include a brief description, your name and email.  Done!  A team of storytellers -- from writers to videographers -- will take it from there, ready to take your nomination and tell her story.

But that's not all!  

Not ONLY could you win a trip to Ireland for you and $10,000 for her work, but if any of MY readers gets their submission published on the She is Noble website, they will receive a $25 Amazon gift card!  (To be disbursed in early May.)

When you enter, use my unique referral code of sleeplessmornings (all one word) so that you can tie your submission back to me and hopefully win the gift card too!  It's that simple!

I look forward to reading everyone's published submissions.  My hope is that it will inspire people, including myself, to go forth and do more wherever we can.  I don't think there's a higher calling than that!

To check out the movie website, go to http://thenoblemovie.com

The contest will close at 11:59PM EST on Monday, April 27th. The winners will be notified on or about April 28, 2015, via email, phone or mail.

Good luck!!

I will receive the same $25 gift card for all referred published submissions on www.sheisnoble.com.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas... with a throwback to June!

The tree is decorated.

The presents are wrapped.  (Not sitting under the tree, of course.  We live in fear of the Husky peeing on them down there, so they are wrapped and sitting on an ottoman.  Makes sense, right?)

The kids are on vacation.  (Which means I'm on break, too!)

And the Christmas cards are in the mail.  The fun part about the card is coming up with just the right pictures to include.  Because as we parents all know, you have to make sure there are an even number of pictures of each kid, or there will be hell to pay.  Just as I had suspected, the first time each child saw our card they started counting.  Noelle felt a little cheated because one picture barely shows her.


I guess she's right.  Clearly we don't love her.

Never mind the preciousness of the un-staged photo.  *sigh*

I also wanted to show my wedding dress off because....well isn't it obvious?  I was the bride and I loved my dress!  Plus I love this shot of Charlie.


And if there's one full shot of Charlie, there has to be one of Noelle, right??


Not that I minded.  Isn't she lovely?

Now we're just kicking back and finishing all the final details that go into hosting Christmas at our house this year.  On the agenda for Christmas eve we have cookie making, dinner cooking, chocolate fondue fountain flowing and a relaxing end of the day with "It's a Wonderful Life" on the television.  If we can cram it all in, I'll be impressed.

What's that?  You'd like to see another wedding picture?  Well okay, if you insist!


Yes, I am tall.  And I might have picked the perfect combination of tall and uncomfortable in my wedding shoes.  They lasted until about 20 minutes after the ceremony.  Then I was barefoot and perfectly happy about it!


I loved having my girl as my maid of honor.  She was the perfect choice.


This next fantastic pic is our reactions right after Charlie said, "Russ...there are only two words you need to know to be happy in this marriage.  Yes, and Dear."



And so it goes.  We're attempting the living happily ever after scenario.  What the fairy tales never mention is how that ever after is chock full of life and craziness and drama and homework and a husky that pees on your Christmas tree and...you name it.  But that's life, right?  The best part is that the happily is there... and I can't ask for more than that.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Schooling at Home

Happy New Year!

That's right, it's been THAT long.

It's gotten to the point that my dad is asking if I'm ever going to blog again.

Personally, I blame the company I work for.  Shortly after I started they put a block up on blogger, making it impossible for me to write at lunchtime.  Because I swear, that was the only time of day I would ever post during the workday.  I swear. 

Please disregard the tic in my right eye.

That meant that blogging could only take place during the evenings or my sleepless nights, and I'm happy to say I haven't been having those.  (Sleepless nights, not evenings.)  Evenings are typically taken up with cooking, cleaning up and homework.  By the time Russ and I get to crash on the couch for some Game of Thrones or Silicon Valley, I'm falling asleep and missing everything. 

To blog or not to blog?  *snore*

Another new time taker is that I'm officially a Home school mom.  Yes, I finally (what took me so long??) pulled Charlie out of that horrible situation at school and started him on the home school program.  It took him some time to start recovering from the damage that the bullying caused, but little by little he's coming out of that emotional wreckage and enjoying life a lot more.  I still haven't quite figured out what action I'm going to take in the advancement of anti-bullying, but I know it's going to be more than just the ridiculous repeating of "Always remember to just be nice" by the principal on the loudspeaker every morning.  I don't want to be another one of the adults at that school, claiming I don't tolerate bullying, and then not doing jack squat about it.

I could really continue on with this, but I think I'll save that for another post.

So how am I finding the time now?  Well, we're actually all sitting here at the dining room table as a family, doing home work or helping with homework, etc.  Russ is Noelle's math tutor and I'm letting Charlie work on his science.  Nothing like the Musculoskeletal System to keep someone busy!  The dogs are here, too.  A mutt and a chewed up Husky.  (Again, another post to come.)

One big happy family.  And I love it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Friends & Family 2013

I feel like doing a blog catch up, and I feel like doing it with pictures.

So here's some insight into our lives these last few months.  Enjoy!

In August we celebrated Charlie's 12th with friends, food and video games.  They were happy.



In September we celebrated Noelle's 10th with a swim party at my cousin's house.  My cousin is wonderful -- she even disappeared with her husband for hours so we could have the run of the place.  Not too shabby.


In October Noelle and I escaped for a girls getaway weekend.  We scrapbooked, slept in a little cabin-like room and took walks to see redwood trees and deer.  We loved it so much that we're going back in April!


A few weeks later, Russ and I headed to his home state of Wisconsin to see family, his old digs and most importantly -- the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field!!  That was a dream come true.




Naturally we brought home goodies for the kids.  They weren't too excited.  ;o)


And then of course there's Halloween...


In November I turned 38 and managed to have the 3rd annual birthday celebration with my cousin, who is one year and a few weeks younger than me.  We've been close since we were kids and I love that we still spend time together when we can.  Aren't we cute?



Another favorite gathering that month was meeting up with my best friends since high school and their son for a day at the aquarium.  You'd think I would have taken pictures of the sea life, but instead I got a lot of pictures of the hugs that were happily doled out.  I love this about our little "family."


November is also the month of giving thanks, which as you know we happily did in Monterey on Cannery Row.  The food was pretty good, but the company was better.  After our delicious filling meal we went back to our home town and saw "Catching Fire."  It was a perfect day.


Don't be misled by Russes unhappy face in our picture.  What you can't tell is that he's thrilled to have me next to him, and not in fact grossed out.  I swear.

And now here we are in December and we're NOWHERE on pictures.  My company party took place this last weekend, and after Russ and I got all dolled up, we took zero pics.  Genius.  Our plan for this weekend is take a family photo near a Christmas tree so that I can attempt to get a Christmas card out in the mail before Christmas is actually over.  We also hope to get decorations up and a tree in the house before New Years. 

I know, I set the bar high.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks for the Week Ahead

Thanksgiving is approaching, and there is so much going on in our lives right now!

Currently, even literally as I type this, my wonderful fiancé is packing up his life's belongings to make the final move over to my house full time.  It's been an easy transition, doing a little at a time, but now we're in the final week and it's getting busy.  With a four day weekend approaching, it just made good sense to us to use that time to complete the transition and get him settled in.  Hence, we pick up a big moving truck later this week and will be trekking back and forth from his town to mine.  That part will be exhausting but worth it, and I look forward to having the satisfaction of a job well done.

Of course, this throws a wrench into Turkey day with the family.  My folks were wonderful about it when it finally dawned on me that trying to host the family and cook a big meal right in the middle of this move would have been CUH-RAZY.  I would have lost my mind, and in that scenario nobody wins.  In the end, my folks understood (thanks Mom and Dad!) and are spending the holiday eating out with some friends, instead.

That left us with the dilemma of "what should we eat and where?" when Thursday arrives.  I couldn't see skipping the holiday altogether, but I knew there was no way we'd be cooking anything, either.  So I did a little research and found a few places that are serving meals as usual, or that are doing a fancier buffet.  It didn't take long to lean towards the buffet for multiple reasons.

1. I loved going to the Officers Club on Thanksgiving when I was growing up -- they always had an incredible dinner and dessert buffet that was delicious and totally satisfying.

2. Charlie's not a lover of restaurants, at which you have to do a lot of waiting.  While he has improved and we do eat out a little more often with him, I know that being able to walk in and grab a plate will be appealing to him.  To be honest, it's appealing to me, too -- after moving furniture and boxes most of the day, I'll be famished and ready to EAT.

3. Who wouldn't want to have their Thanksgiving dinner on Cannery Row in Monterey??  Nobody, that's who.

I'll miss our usual turkey dinner with my grandmother's stuffing, but the consolation is that I'll get to enjoy it at Christmas when my brother is flying in from Hawaii and we can all be together again for the first time in a year.  I've missed having him close by after a lifetime of never being more than an hour from him.  I think it will feel like old times, which all of us needs right now.

In case you don't hear from me, have a Happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones!
Blessings,
Merrie