Thursday, January 25, 2018

New to the Family

Something I never mentioned in my last post was another family change we had over last summer.  As you may recall, we lost our beloved Husky Simba to cancer back in February, and we spent some time recovering from that.  But by spring we were all thinking about the one thing we could never have in the same house as our former hunting dog -- kittens!

Our family always had cats in the past (pre-Simba) and we were longing to have that same feline element in the house again.  One afternoon I was perusing the site of a local no-kill shelter in our town, when up popped a picture of a mama and her two tiny kittens that had arrived.  The two kittens were popping up from behind her with the yummiest little faces, which for days I could not get out of my mind.  So that weekend I spontaneously said to the family, "Who wants to go take a look at some kittens?"  Naturally everyone was on board, so to the car we went.

How do I describe how we all felt when we first laid eyes on these two kittens?  I know no better way to explain it was meant to be.

By the time we walked out of the shelter that afternoon, we had started application paperwork to adopt these two sisters as soon as they were old enough.  We couldn't stop smiling!  As we were walking to our car, Charlie noticed some flowers growing near the building and pointed out that they were similar to ones we grew at our old house.  I told him he was right, and they were called "Iris."  It took him about ten seconds to note that he liked the name, and then suggested it for what would be his kitten (the black one).  No joke -- by the time we reached the car, Iris was her name!  As we started driving home, Noelle pondered what she should name hers.  I suggested keeping with the floral family and had her google flower names to see if there was one that struck her.  Two minutes later I was fighting for Primrose, but she then saw (and fell in love with) "Zinnia."  And there you have it -- Iris and Zinnia were the new members of our family.

Of course we still had to go home and finish our applications, hoping that the shelter would choose us.  But as it goes, because we were the first to apply and we wanted them both, it was a bit of a no brainer.  In the mean time, we visited them constantly and also volunteered at the shelter quite a bit, helping with anything we could.  These girls were not hurting for attention or love.

By May, they were weaned, spayed and ready to come home!  We really planned ahead, making our family room a safe space for them that was separate from the dog.  (A baby gate between them let them meet without any danger to anyone.  By the time we took the gate down, dog and kittens were just fine with each other.)  Since then they've been growing like weeds and making us all very happy.  Sure, they have their quirks -- like when Iris decides she wants to play fetch at 4am and wakes me up by dropping a piece of balled up paper in my face.  That's fun.  Or Zinnia and her 6am love bites on Noelle's chin or nose.  Not aggressive, but not fun when you're trying to sleep!

Welcome to the family, sweet girls!  We're so happy you're here!  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Out with the old, in with the new

A few more months have passed us by and here we are at the tail end of summer.  It's been a good one, overall.  Charlie did have some summer school, so there were a few weeks of early mornings and homework, but once he got that out of the way we were free to enjoy our freedom.  We swam...we rode roller coasters...we played games...we slept in...we overall enjoyed the chance to enjoy life without a lot of "have to's" mixed in.  I am grateful.

With the beginning of school comes the usual routines that we are often less than enthusiastic about.  Early mornings.
Too much homework.
Grumpy kids.  (Is that a routine?)

I myself am fairly enthusiastic about another year of subbing because I now have a car payment to make every month!  Yes, we finally traded in our beloved minivan that kindly carried us from here to there for over 14 years, because frankly the old girl was losing her looks.  Sure, the engine was still running well, but when you have duct tape holding your door's interior in place, you start to feel a little embarrassed.  Plus the auto door could no longer be opened or closed, so everyone had to get in from the other side.  And let's not talk about the the little dinging noise coming from my side of the car that would only get louder and LOUDER as I accelerated.  I think my sanity is worth something - don't you?!?!

And so out with the old, and in with the new -- a 2016 Chevy Equinox that I am thoroughly enjoying.  All the bells and whistles work, the interior is in place, and there's not a bit of duct tape in sight.

Funny how your standards change!

The more exciting news about the start of school is a big one for us: both kids are going to be in high school this year!  Finally, one location to carpool to!  And we're genuinely excited that Noelle will be a freshman because she's what you might call a "participator."  She will want to go to the football games, the dances, the rallies -- you name it!  I personally like being involved in such things, or at least attending the games, so we'll be out there with the cheering crowd and being a part of things.  I can't wait!

I envy my kids being in school together again.  My brother was five years older than me, so I was far enough behind that I didn't start high school until after he graduated.  For my kids there will always be someone on campus who will have their back.  And like me, my daughter will know a lot of upperclassman because she's the younger sibling of one.  I remember getting hugs and hellos from various seniors when I was a freshman -- it felt great to be singled out and noticed by these "kids" that basically looked like adults.  I felt safe.  I hope it's that way for her.

Now I'm off to enjoy our last cookout of the official "summer."  We're never done with the bbq, but tonight there will be burgers, a bonfire and s'mores.  Because if summer has to end, it needs to end with a BANG!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Perfect Goodbye

It's been five and a half weeks since we said goodbye to our Simba.  While it was difficult getting to that place where a decision had to be made about his life, once we were there, we had complete peace.  There stopped being any question of "is today the right day?" when that morning he could no longer climb the stairs in our house.

It was a peaceful day, and it couldn't have gone any better.  We kept the kids home from school and the entire day was all about Simba.  Noelle baked dog cookies that she'd received for Christmas -- each one in the shape of a bone.  While Simba wasn't interested (because he was barely eating anything by then), Marley was delighted to enjoy both shares of the baked goodies.  We sat around as a family and spontaneously started sharing favorite Simba  We laughed at his antics and wept at the thought of missing them in the future.  We ate tri tip from our favorite local vendor for lunch so that his last meal would be something delicious and special.  And we probably took way more pictures than he cared for.

Late in the day we piled into our minivan and drove down to our vet's office.  We were the last appointment of the day, so it was quiet.  We brought Simba's favorite big pillow, which we laid on the exam table, making it a comfortable place to be.  We huddled around him, petting and loving on him, making sure he heard from each of us one last time that we loved him and were so grateful to have had him in our lives all this time.  Those are the last things he heard.  And then he was gone.

Lots of tears and hugs and laughs about his barking later, we are feeling better day by day.  There's a little shrine to him on an end table with his ashes, his collar and a rather perfect stuffed Husky that has a suspiciously similar look on his face that we used to get right before Simba barked at us with what we called his "crazy eyes."  We miss him so much, but I can honestly say that I miss the Simba he was before he got sick.  After he was sick, he wasn't himself, and I could tell he was less and less happy with life as each day passed.  Our timing was perfect and he is at rest.

Goodbye, old friend.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


My regular readers *cough my parents cough* have eagerly checked in to see if I'm writing.  Much to their disappointment, I haven't been.  And so here I am to share a bit of insight into the life that they created.  (Thanks guys!)

I took today and the next two days off from a long term sub job to deal with something terribly painful.  And by the time you even read this, the worst part may already be over.  That's what I'm having the hardest time with -- the idea that life will go on beyond Friday.  Beyond something our family is dreading.  Somehow there will be a weekend, and then work, and the usual business of life.

This terrible thing is that we are losing our sweet Siberian Husky, Simba.  He had started to lose weight last fall when I was walking daily like a madwoman, and at first we thought it was all the exercise.  But alas, it was not.  It was the dreaded thing that we all pretty much live in fear of: cancer. It took two vets and a pricey ultrasound to find it, but find it they did, and we've known since December that we were living on borrowed time with our sweet blue eyed boy.

We've tried very hard to make his last days with us wonderful.  Or as wonderful as we can guess an eleven year old Husky would want them to be.  For Simba this mostly includes walks in the park, jaunts in the nearby field and delicious food.  We drive him to the park now so that he can use his little bit of energy to enjoy his time there.  And I don't think he's complaining about the amounts of fresh chicken and steak in his life.  Here are some latest fave pics -- photo cred goes to the kids.

This gives you a sense of where our lives are at, and what we'll be dealing with in the coming hours and days and weeks.  I'm thankful we will have each other, and I know that grief gets easier with time, but I know my kids will suffer.  My son is especially sensitive to change and upset, so I'll be all over him like a helicopter.  Being the mom is the hardest part, really.  Making the decision, making the appointment, making us all talk about it.  Nobody on this earth loves this dog more than me, but I will be the comforter and the caretaker.  Because that's what we do.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Latest and it's all Good

Big things have been happening at Sleepless Mornings lately!

  • I'm officially a classified sub in our school district.  I can sub in the office, in the lunch room or in the classroom as an aide.  So far I've done lunch room once (at Noelle's school, which led to many amusing moments with her and her friends), and several weeks of being a para-specialist for special needs kids in their classrooms.  I honestly walked into that job feeling like I would be inadequate and under qualified, but the teachers know their stuff and I picked up whatever I could.  More importantly, I fell completely in love with the children in a way that I never saw coming.  I discovered that the best feeling in the world is when one of these incredible kids comes running towards me first thing in the morning for a hug.  Or crawls into my lap to cuddle.  Or smiles with pride when the answer they were searching for comes to them.  There is no better feeling in the world, and I would happily go back every day.
    • However, it should be noted that today we started Thanksgiving break, and my tired body is SO ready for the break!!
  • Inspired by my beautiful and hilarious friend Angie, who to date has lost 80+ pounds over the last year and a half, I have begun a regime of walking daily and eating well to get myself back into a shape I can be happy with.  On my first day I was super proud of the one mile I was able to accomplish, but as of now (2.5 months later) I am pleased to say I'm jog/walking 4 miles daily when I can fit it in.  Russ is a runner so he joins me when he's not working, but I do enjoy my alone walks, too, as a bit of quiet meditation.  I'm dying to post some before/after photos, but so far I'm not there yet.  But the weight is trickling off slowly and I am enjoying buying some new clothes.  (Especially running clothes -- who saw that coming??!)
  • Just this morning I was delighted to discover a FB message from my high school bestie, who I'm sorry to say I was not in touch with for quite a few years.  We both had some explaining to do about what happened between us, but most importantly I'm grateful that I finally had the opportunity to apologize for hurting her all those years ago.  It weighed on me for a long time, knowing that I could have handled things differently, and I always hoped I'd have that opportunity to tell her.  Today that opportunity came and we are both the better for it.  Yay us!
  • Thanksgiving is at our house this year, and the first at our new home.  I'm thinking we'll have to finally pull the dining room table into working position and eat on it.  (We usually use the eat-in kitchen table that we bought.  Or sometimes the coffee table.  So?)  Noelle and my mom and I are having fun arranging the menu, and of course there will be too much pie for all.  Isn't overeating what Thanksgiving is all about??  
    • PS I suspect my gall bladder is on the way out.  Too many attacks amidst too much healthy eating = unhappy Merrie.
  • I turned 41 a few weeks back, and it was fabulous!  Great day with my family that included my walk, a great movie (Arrival) and dinner/shopping in a nearby town with great shops.  I came home with books, including the book that Arrival is based on.  This made up for the 40th being not so great.  :o/

That's all I've got for now.  Happy November all!  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Everything is going to be juuuuust fine

I think I have some insight now into what the seventh level of hell looks like.  I can't describe it perfectly, but it's something along the lines of that place you get to when all Google does is send you in circles trying to renew your blog, all the while sending you warnings that your blog of eight years will soon be "available to other users" when it doesn't renew by tomorrow.

I was literally sobbing in front of the computer when my daughter came in to comfort me (and rescue the dogs, who hate sobbing.)  All I could envision, as I chased my tail online, was that all of my posts and the history of my life would be gone *poof* in an instant.  I was not a happy camper.

That is, until I found the ONE little itty bitty thing I was missing as I went round and round (like a record, baby), which saved the day.  I am now renewed for the year and FINALLY able to log into my admin account for the first time in a while.  What a relief!

My daughter has since left with her friend for the college preview night at the high school.  They're only 8th graders, but they're both on that wonderful college track and already excited about where they might continue their education.  I couldn't be happier about that, truly.  While she's gone, I will be calming down and hopefully catching my breath for the evening.  I don't think it helped my emotional see-saw that I only got about five hours of sleep last night.  Nobody's fault but my own -- I just couldn't seem to fall asleep and decided it would be more interesting to watch some tv.  Thank goodness for DVR items because after midnight there truly isn't much worth watching.  My fun choice?  Killing Reagan!  It was actually pretty good and I'm hopeful that it was historically accurate.  Because I'm definitely not going to be fact checking.

Noelle and I went to the Reagan library over the summer and were knocked out by how impressive it was.  Funny story: my mom and I both feel a connection to him because he and my grandfather looked so much alike!  Walking through his library and seeing so many pictures almost felt like being around my beloved Grampa again.  I love that.  Unfortunately, it made their burial site a bit more emotional than expected and there were definitely tears.  Noelle thought it a bit strange until I pulled up a picture of my grandfather for her to compare.  She got it then.

While on the topic, here are some photos of our day!

Seeing a piece of the Berlin Wall was pretty powerful for both of us.

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.


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 jalapeƱo 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.


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: