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 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.


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:

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  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

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  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 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.