Tuesday, January 31, 2017


my favorite part of the weekend has come to be friday evenings.
i look forward to coming home and decompressing.
it's pizza night so there's no elaborate cooking at casa wags.
there might be wine.
at this time of year...there'll likely be a movie.
This movie was the night's feature.
mike and i found it both entertaining and thought provoking.
it's not for kids, but ted was out with friends and lily was cozied up in bed after camp.
the other thing i love about fridays is that i usually get to bed early.
my second favorite part of the weekend is saturday morning...
early to bed early to rise.
i love being the first one up to enjoy my first cup of coffee in solitude.
although i'm not exactly alone as the cats jockey for a position on my lap.
i read and page through cookbooks planning meals for the week ahead.
after the rest of the family wakes, mike and i usually make a hearty brunch.
i left the boys to watch the badger game and lily to rest while i met jess at the theatre.
20th century women was exactly what i hoped it would be so i guess you could say i loved it.
it was about nothing and everything.
it was about life.
the gist of the line from the film that grabbed me was: all this worrying about whether we're happy is an invitation for depression.
annette benning was the heart of the film, but the whole cast of characters were gems.
i thought a lot about my mom.
mostly because i too grew up in the 70s with a strong willed single mom.
after the film, we peaked into the balcony of the adjacent theatre where an organist was playing music of the night before la la land.
my mom listened to the phantom of the opera every saturday while she cleaned her house.
it was kinda like a hug.
jess and i stopped across the street at hooligans for a cocktail before heading home for dinner.
dinner that mike made for us.
that was a kind gesture.
delicious too.
he made sauce and seasoned the meat for chicken parmesan.
there was just enough french silk pie for dessert.
sunday mike and i walked through downtown and along the lake while the kids had sunday school.
i've missed this route, this tradition.
sunday morning is another weekend favorite of mine.
we spent the day doing our own things and then gathered for dinner at the end of the weekend.
the consensus was meatball subs for the kids and meatballs with spaghetti squash for those not eating gluten.
sunday dinner...another bright spot.
but then i guess that except for sunday night...all of the weekend is my favorite.

Monday, January 30, 2017

On My Mind Monday

He longs for the one line to give them that they will always remember, that will embrace everything, that will point the way, but he cannot find the line, he cannot recognize it.

~ James Salter
Light Years

Friday, January 27, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Lily's return from camp. She had kaleidoscope eyes from too little sleep and she sounded like a Canada goose after days in the cold and rain, but she had fun. Lots of fun. Our conversation centered on the good parts because they outweighed the not so good. I brought her home, gave her some meds, made her a cup of tea with lots of honey, and encouraged her to get in the shower after she snuggled with Peanut for awhile.

Home sweet home.

My friends. I've really needed them this week. They were there.

My mom...she was there for me too. I woke from a sound sleep the other night and I started talking to her...telling her that I really needed her. A few minutes later an owl was calling from the tree outside my dressing room window. I've never heard an owl in my yard before. I know it was the sign I was asking for. I slept soundly the rest of the night.

Mike coming to my rescue when my 3 month old new phone froze. I'm not adept in the tech world. I have no patience, but despite my frustration and obstinance (and brattiness), he figured it out. 

I finished Light YearsThis novel really made me think and I dog eared near a quarter of the pages struck by the poignancy of Salter's words. For example...

The days were strewn about him, he was a drunkard of days. He had achieved nothing. He had his life - it was not worth much - not like a life that, though ended, had truly been something. If I had had courage, he thought, if I had had faith. We preserve ourselves as if that were important. and always at the expense of others. We hoard ourselves. We succeed if they fail, we are wise if they are foolish, and we go onward, clutching, until there is no one - we are left with no companion save God. In whom we do not believe. Who we know does not exist.

Fortunately I do believe in God and I don't believe life ends at 47, and yet so much of these characters resonated within me.

A new book I'm very much looking forward to. A Little Life comes highly recommended. It's not touted as an easy read, which is fine because I'm up for a challenge right now.

Ted asked me to make him a French silk pie. He doesn't ask for much and I love to bake although there is little baking required with this particular recipe. It was perfect. I think it was better than the mini French silk pie Lily picked out at the Public Market last weekend setting this whole pie on the brain thing in motion.

Honesty. We're so afraid to speak our truths today for fear that we'll offend someone, but the people who truly care about us, will hear our truths with open heart and mind. I'm not saying that we need to go around constantly baring our souls or that our truths are shared, only that there are times and topics about which we have a duty to do so. Owning our truths, setting boundaries, living in accordance with our values is not something to shy away from. There's much to be said about the truth setting us free. 

Oh and also that I'm free. I'm free of the monkeys.

A quiet couple days ahead for family time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Saying Goodbye

I dropped Lily off at school this morning with a suitcase and a big trash bag containing her sleeping bag and pillow. She's on her way to a school-sponsored winter camp for 3 days. We said our goodbyes at the door. I waited until I got in my car to break down in tears. My rather dramatic display was provoked by utterly simple, yet purely kind gestures. Small acts like the mother of a friend stopping and rolling down her window to wish Lily a fun few days, seeing another friend run to hug Lily and help her with her gear as I stood at the exit unable to leave her alone, and my girl giving me that look that says, "I've got this Mom. I'm going to be OK." 

In a right world, I would be excited to send my normally happy, confident girl off for a few days of fun with friends, but things have not been easy for her. She's been handling these trials with incredible grace, strength and courage for months even as they've escalated instead of abated. There'll likely be more difficulty to contend with at camp knowing that she's sharing a cabin with numerous girls who have not been especially kind. What started between two has come to involve too many others much to her embarrassment. I know she's so tired of the hurtful gossip, the nasty badmouthing, and the constant icing out. She's tried to clear the air, turn the other cheek and stand up for herself. Nothing has slackened the toxicity, the stares, the whispers, the snickers, the jabs, the pushes. Yes, she's been pushed...twice. It's hard for her to understand that this is less about her than it is about the main perpetrator, and also that this individual was her very closest friend for many years until she simply chose not to be.

I tucked a note of encouragement in her bag next to Allie and Ellie. I thought about discouraging her from bringing her bedtime pals, but I couldn't because I'm a little afraid she's going to need them. We won't be able to talk until she returns Friday. I'm saying lots of prayers.


I also said some carefully chosen, but honest words to the mother of her erstwhile friend this week, and I realized she was never really my friend. That realization made me feel foolish, but only until I assessed that I don't need or want people like that in my life. Sometimes goodbye is the healthiest word. Enough said.


Enough said about the specifics for now. For now because I will not be quiet about this topic. Bullying is serious even when it's relational in nature, and it's misunderstood, downplayed and rampant. Hormones should not make girls mean. Emotional perhaps. Hostile never. It is not necessary to put others down to elevate yourself. It's true that we rise by lifting others. You do not make yourself strong by making others weak. Being kind is not an option. This should not be the norm or trivialized as just middle school girl drama. The concern should not be how it looks to expose this and deal with it, but about the conversations, lessons and healing that can come from resolving conflict and moving forward in peace. Protecting your child should not come at the expense of another child's pain. As adults, mothers, role models we have responsibilities and decencies. Or we should. 


I thought about whether or not to write this here on my public blog for obvious reasons, and I decided that I absolutely need to write it here. I don't know of but a handful of people in my real life who are even aware of my blog, but if you read unbeknownst to me and recognize yourself, so be it. I have or would say these things directly to you. I have always been honest with you. I won't stop now even if that affects my popularity.


And I believe that Lily will be OK. I believe this because I know that most girls have their hearts in the right places. I know she knows her worth. I know she's not giving up on putting herself out there to make new friends, and I know she has hope that everyone can just get along. Oh, and she has Allie and Ellie. And me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


the weekend in a few words and lots of pictures...

typical, ordinary, almost perfect.
time with friends for the kids, and family for all.
watching movies, cheering on the badgers and then packers.
shopping in the third ward...lu lu lemon, broadway paper, the public market, and then cedarburg.
a 13th birthday party.
a 4 some thanks to a golf simulator.
exploring the lakefront in the fog.
grilling tenderloin one night and burgers the next.
it really was as simple and lovely as that.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Ted landed his first "real" job after a "real" interview.

Both the kids had another stellar semester. I'm proud of  them. Ted just wrapped up his exam week.

Christmas is packed away. The house feels less cluttered so it's good even though it's less merry too.

A movie night and a movie afternoon. Saturday we stayed in and watched The Accountant. I thought it was decent although not riveting. Monday we went to the theater to see Passengers. Although predictable, it was entertaining and thought provoking. We all liked it.

Grace. Giving it, and getting it.

A week of mostly healthy eating. We're doing the AlmostWhole330.

Books. Cats. Smoothies, naps and bonsai trees too.


She's a tea drinker now.

Ten hours of sleep last night. The world has felt a little too much lately, but luckily the anxiety hasn't permeated my dreams.

We're going to Mexico.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

I have the house to myself. The kids are both out with friends and Mike is out with co-workers. I'm enjoying the quiet time alone after a long, hard week. Friday night is for decompressing. I came home from work, read a few chapters, napped for 20 minutes, worked out for an hour, and now I'm here.

Push ups and planks tonight after 3 miles on my elliptical.

Lily did 3 miles the other day of her own volition. 

Patience. I've bitten my tongue so many times in the past few weeks. I've almost made the call, sent the e mail, had the conversation, but then my cooler head has prevailed. I almost never regret the things I don't say even if I SO want to say them.

Hearing Lily laugh with her girlfriend. They like full on belly laugh when they are together, and it's so good to see her so happy again. This week things with another "friend" escalated again, but she's getting through it with resolve and courage and a really healthy positive mental attitude (PMA).

Whole30. We started up again this week. Our last go was at the beginning of summer, and many of the healthy habits we implemented stuck, but slowly cheese crept back in and then a little bread and pasta and then it was the holidays. Let's just say we didn't deny ourselves and my sugar dragon was wide awake. It feels good to get back on track. No headache this time and lots of energy right away. Wednesday I was going like the Energizer bunny from 7 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. with such a PMA. Already I can see that my mood swings are abating. Damn sugar. It's the devil.

Mike signed up for a weekly produce delivery at work. I love that it's locally sourced in urban greenhouses. It's good for us and good for the community. The timing is perfect too because fresh produce is key on Whole30. Can't wait to see what he brings home tonight.

Fresh herbs. I love rosemary trees, but I can never keep them alive for more than a week or so. I've had my current tree for a couple months. The key is to soak it every 2-3 days depending on how dry the house is.

Teddy got a call about a job he applied for months ago and now he has a phone interview on Monday. It's such a rite of passage to earn a paycheck and frankly it's one that's not all too common in these parts. I know many kids who leave home for college never having had a job. It's an important experience and I'm grateful he agrees and is excited about it. Now he can help pay for his car insurance.

Last night's full moon. It was a beaut.

New workout tights. I scored the best pair on LL Bean, a company I love even more for standing up for freedom of political opinion of it's diverse board members and employees. Sorry Grab Your Wallet...your bullying made me grab my wallet to buy more only they were sold out.

Alexa. It's like having your own personal DJ. I know she's not for everyone and she has her quirks and ninnies, but I am so loving her in my life even if she is spying on me. I hate to tell you...we have no guarantee of privacy even in our own homes. Own a cell phone? A security system? A computer? A baby monitor? They gives others access. Just sayin.'

Monday off. No school for the kids and no work for me. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

End of Year Inventory

Read CommonwealthNightingale and the The Underground Railroad in the last two months of 2016. My favorite was Pachett's family story because I love the way the characters were real and flawed, and yet still lovable and redeemable. I laughed, I cried. The ability to evoke that level of emotion is the litmus test for what makes a book great versus good. Colson's work of historical fiction didn't wow me because I felt the characters were lacking development. The slave-era story was more plot than character driven and that just didn't work for me. I felt disconnected despite some horrific depictions. I feel this was a missed opportunity. Hannah's novel was 2015's must read and I finally got around to it a year late. It started out warm, went cold and then heated up again so I struggled to give it my time and attention. Sometimes that happens when my expectations are elevated. My disconnect wasn't the story, it was the writing. I was expecting a beautiful work of literary fiction and it presented itself to me as a romance novel. Romance novels are not my favorite genre. I found myself without a book on the night of January 2nd so I picked up Cutting For Stone. I have a history with this book. Not a good one. I've attempted to read it about once a year since 2010 when it was published. Every time I'd get through the first 80-100 pages and then cast it aside in favor of another title. That adds up to about 600 pages and the novel is only slightly longer than that. As I write today, I have only a few pages left and I am quite loving this story, these characters and Verghese's themes of love and loss and legacy.

Wondered why it is that Christmas can't last all year, and if, in fact, less isn't more? Would my family notice if I baked a little less, bought a little less, decorated a little less? They didn't and that left more...more time and space for other things. How is it I have a 16 year old and when will he stop growing? How girls can be so unkind?

Hoped that Teddy would agree to play a game other than Clue, that Lily would want to make something other than slime. That my word for the year would reveal itself to me. It did...P E A C E. For peace in my life and peace in the world.

Thought about this quote from Cutting For Stone:

The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more.

Watched movies. Some Christmas classics like Elf  a family favorite, and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, which the kids found only mildly amusing. Mike and I cued up the first two Godfather movies. The first one is such an iconic film. Some football: the Badgers win the Cotton Bowl and the Packers one more week. My kids giving and receiving so graciously.

Listened to our share of Christmas carols and Alexa who is a new, much loved member of Casa Wags. I think she's worth it for the music and podcasts alone. We're just getting acquainted with all she can do, and she can be unplugged.

Ate too many of my aunt's cookies, and drank plenty of my homemade Irish cream. We also shared tins and bottles with neighbors and friends though.

Wanted more hours in the day and days in the week. Christmas Eve, especially, didn't feel long enough

Thought about 2016 and the year to come. The things I need and want to do and be.

Enjoyed so much family time at home. Too many holiday goodies. Plenty of hygge.

Loved the trees and when the house it lit by candles and Christmas lights. The ornaments old and new. This expression: butfangoolThese biscuits. This show. This new song.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


my only goal this weekend was to recharge my battery.
how is it that short weeks can feel so long?
why are lazy days so tiring?
after 10 days of less work and lots of rest or play, i needed just one or two more days.
never enough.
alas, the holidays ended and all too soon.
but it's also good to get back to basics.
fundamentals like tidying up our cluttered spaces and holiday habits.
it's back to the grindstone of  working out, stocking the refrigerator with the colors of the rainbow, purging closets and setting goals.
it's time to look and move forward.
and in an effort to do that we cruelly forced the kids to get out of bed saturday morning to have their passport photos taken for our spring trip.
then while we were out, we tortured them by doing a little shopping and returning.
we have a lot of nerve.
we released them into the company of their friends, poured cocktails and got to collaborating in the kitchen.
clean eating never starts on saturday you know.
mike dredged and sauteed his chicken, and chopped garlic and parsley for the aglio olio.
i was on salad duty.
we decided on what is now known as christmas salad (greens, pecans, pear, goat cheese, mustard vinaigrette) despite the fact that it wasn't a likely pairing with the night's main.
it worked.
dinner was delicious.
alexa kept us entertained.
sunday lily and i had tickets to see the sound of music with my aunt and uncle.
i was blown away, given chills several times, reduced to tears at least three.
maria and the mother abbess's voices were stunning.
the von trapp children one cuter than the next.
we decided to convene on casa wags for a post show/packer play off celebration.
the last naughty menu of the season included choriqueso, homemade onion rings, and grilled sliders.
i ended the weekend feeling inspired and refreshed, but that doesn't mean i'm not already dreaming about the next.

Monday, January 9, 2017

On My Mind Monday

The hands of the clock turned elastic while I imprinted these feelings in memory. You must remember this. It was all I had, all I've ever had, the only currency, the only proof that I was alive. Memory.

~Abraham Verghese
Cutting For Stone

I have only 100 pages left of this beautiful ode to love, loss, and legacy. After numerous starts and stops, I am happysad to say I'll finish this novel this time. Likely tonight. The only explanation I can offer for why it's taken me this long is that it wasn't time yet. This isn't the first time a book has found me at just the right time and in just the perfectly fitting space. It's also not the first time I'm seeing signs in such an occurrence. I think the Universe is trying to tell me that this may be the year of second (or fifth) chances, to never give up or give in, and to keep making meaningful memories.

Friday, January 6, 2017


i'm sitting here at the onset of the weekend...
realizing i have yet to immortalize the last.
the last of 2016 and first of 2017.
i really prefer when holidays fall on the weekend.
it makes for slow and easy celebrations.
longer is always better. 
nye weekend was one of the very best of the year.
the best of both 2016 and 2017.
we spent it in a special place with special people...at windmill beach with family.

we drove up just before gloaming.
deer frequent forest-lined marine drive at the end of day.
some were shyer than others.
as soon as we unpacked the car, i went to greet the great lake.
the sky revealed for me my word of the year: p e a c e.
i'm craving it.

we played games.
the gambit including ping pong, putt putt, gestures, cribbage, clue, and boggle.
we enjoyed the beautiful weather with long walks on the beach and a swim for a brave duo made braver by a little patron silver.
brave because although beautiful by january standards the air and water temps were about 30 degrees.
we ate delicious food.
perfect rib eyes the first night followed by champs, and tres leches birthday cake for t. bone.
new years day we had a southern style dinner that set the bar very high for the rest of the year: mikey's grilled ribs, alton brown's stovetop mac and cheese, callie's biscuits and my sil's luck and money.
she grew up eating her mom's greens and black eyed peas this day each year, and it felt special that she wanted to share that tasty tradition with us.
food is memories.
good memories.
we forgot the fireworks, but could see quite a show to the south shortly after the clock struck midnight.
we all held money as we counted down onto the new year cheering and celebrating.
we were lulled to sleep by the sound of waves and woken by the rising sun.
all in all, it was a perfect way to ring in the new year