Nov 29, 2011

Waiting for the Sandman

I snuggle into bed, my body exhausted from the full weekend.

And yet...

And yet, I can't fall asleep.  My body aches and is desperate.  Desperate for the soft sheets, for the fuzzy blankets curling around me, for the peace, for the quiet, for the relaxation after a day and weekend of go go go.  With every breath I feel a new muscle start to relax.

And yet...

And yet, my mind won't stop.  It is buzzing and humming.  A noise I can not turn off.  Thinking about a playdate scheduled for the week, about clothes that need to be organized, laundry that needs to be folded, Christmas presents already bought and those still needing to be purchased, the grocery list, the bank account, a doctor's appointment.  It will not end.

I try rolling over, a new position.  But my line of vision includes the clock and I can only watch it tick forward, noting the precious minutes of sleep I am not getting.  I try listening to the heat kick on, hoping an outside noise can drown out the noise in my head, but it only reminds me of the dryer downstairs, that is currently working on a load that will need to be folded in the morning.

I think my thoughts will never stop.

And then, a doze.  In a jolt, I realize my thoughts were silent.

My mind is finally understanding what my body has been begging for since the beginning.  Sleep.

And finally, it comes.

Paige, enjoying some zzzzs (May 2010)


Nov 28, 2011

Christmas Through the Eyes of a Three-year-old

Sometimes, I can pat myself on the back for my parenting and imparting wisdom skills.

Like when Adam and Hope came home from the grocery store and Adam told me that he let Hope pick out candy for herself, and she suggested bringing something home for Paige too.

And then there are those other moments.

Like tonight when we watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  (Not the creepy Jim Carrey one, but the cute and classic Dr. Seuss cartoon.)

While we watched, I explained to Hope that the Grinch took all the decorations and presents from Whoville, but the Whos were still able to be happy and celebrate Christmas.

I told her that Christmas is about more than presents.  That Christmas is about love and peace and goodwill to man, and after I ended my "teachable moment," but before I could pat myself on the back, she asked,

"But Mommy, how can they have Christmas without presents and a tree?"

I just might have a bit more teaching to do...

Nov 23, 2011

The Obligatory Giving of Thanks Post

Today, I am thankful.

I am thankful for family, friends, and health.

However, if I am being honest, I do not always remember to be thankful.  I find myself feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  I get caught up in the unimportant things of life, instead of focusing on how full and blessed my life is.

So, as most people this week, I am trying to consciously meditate on what I am thankful for.  And of course, that includes my family, my friends, and our health.

This year, I also feel thankful for who I am.  For where I come from.  For all that makes me, me.  Of course there are always things I would like to change about myself, or am working on changing.  There are things I would like to do differently, or better.  But this post is not about that.  This is about me feeling thankful for everything and everyone who has shaped me into the person I am today.

My parents
My parents, my relatives, my ancestors, they make me who I am.  My strong grandmother who raised my father as a single mother.  My strict grandfather and step-grandmother, who instilled the importance of Austrian etiquette in us.  My sweet maternal grandmother, who I have but a few memories from before the nursing home.  And my cranky maternal grandfather, who would have adored Adam.  Their parents and grandparents before them.  Their lives, their traditions, their legacies, have led to my life.

My friends, my cheerleaders, they make me who I am.  My first boy friend from childhood, whose backyard was attached to ours.  The first family friends, with two little girls close to my age.  My elementary school friends, who hold such a deep place in my heart, I will never let them go.  My middle school friends, who weathered through that awkward time of life with me.  My high school friends, who have scattered across the country and are turning into beautiful adults.  My college friends, my work friends, my mommy friends, who have supported me and my insecurities into adulthood.  These people I love and care about, who love and care about me, have led to my life.

I am who I am, because of the experiences I had.  Some good, some great, some terrible, some wonderful.  I try to be thankful for them all.

Today, I am this me, because of my husband.  The quiet boy who fell in love with me on a bus in Ireland.  Who made me laugh, and made me love, and made me realize what life I wanted.

Today, I am this me, because of my daughters.  Who gave me the gift of motherhood and unconditional love.  Who snuggle me, who kiss me, who love me.  Who continually teach me the important things.

So many people, so many places, so many experiences, have made me who I am.

So today, and always, I am thankful.

Nov 22, 2011

Memories of Phyllo Dough and Baking Apples

I love the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  That's right, the day before the actual holiday.  Of course, part of the reason I used to love it was that after work was done (or school when I was younger), it was the beginning of a break of four days in a row.

But that's not really why I still love it.  The Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving holds one of my favorite traditions from my family.

My Viennese father and Paige
When I was growing up, the night before Thanksgiving was reserved for a family gathering of apfelstrudel preparation.  (Apfelstrudel is an Austrian specialty. Apfel is German for apple, and strudel, well, I think strudel is strudel, right?)

My dad lugged our heavy box tv into the kitchen and rearranged the bunny ear antenna.  We watched a holiday program while we worked.  My sister, dad and I were recruited to peel and cut apples.  My mom worked with the phyllo dough, rubbing oil, rolling in apples, and baking to golden perfection.

We worked all evening, or at least that's what my childhood memory recalls, making strudel after strudel.  Even though this was our Thanksgiving weekend tradition, the strudel was not made to be enjoyed on the food-filled holiday.  Each strudel was wrapped in foil and frozen, to be given out to and enjoyed by family friends throughout the holiday season.

Winter in Vienna
The funny thing about this being one of my favorite traditions, is that I never actual enjoyed eating the strudel.  To those of you who do not already know this about me, I am not a fan of cooked apples.  I love raw apples and applesauce, but I do not like apple pie, apple crisp, homemade applesauce, or anything made with apples that have been cooked or baked.  There is just something about the mushy texture and flavor.

(Even weirder still is that I can enjoy every part of the baked apple product -- the crust, gooey filling -- but the actual apple.  Anyway...)

Adam and I have not continued this tradition with our own family.  Partially because we have two young girls who can't yet be recruited to peel apples.  Partially because it just doesn't work with our schedule.  And partially because I don't eat the apfelstrudel.  (I'm not usually one to make things I don't eat.)

But as we approach Wednesday, and I think of that happy tradition, I wonder if someday we can incorporate it into our new family.  Because, even though it's a lot of work, even though I don't eat it, that memory, and that pastry, is part of who I am.  And who doesn't want to pass that on to the next generation?


Linking up with Mama Kat


Nov 20, 2011

She is Not Herself

It’s that time of year again.  Tis’ the season.

No, not the ever-joyous holiday season.  The other season.  The runny-nose-flemmy-cough-spiking-fevers-cooped-up-inside-germ-spreading season.

At least, that’s the season we are in here in the Midwest.

And poor Little P is in the throws of it all.

And by “throws” I mean, drippy nose, cough, 104.4° temp, complete lethargy and fitful sleep.  After she started on antibiotics I was hoping she would show visible improvement.  Yes, her temp is gone as is the lethargy, but both have been replaced by the biggest mood swings I have EVER seen.  I mean, we’re talking worse than PMS here, people.

Instead of her usual this:

Happy Silly Paige

and this:

Happy Smiley Paige

We have been dealing with some of this:

Serious Unamused Paige

And this:

Crying Throwing Fits Paige

One minute she is perfectly fine (or at least, as fine as one can be while recovering from infection), the next second she is screaming, flailing her body, kicking her legs, throwing herself away from me, throwing herself at me, wanting to be up, wanting to be down, completely and totally crazy.  And it lasts FOR-EV-ER.  Or ten or so minutes.  I can’t really say for sure.

It doesn’t matter what time of day.  Morning, middle of the day, before bed.  Her moods are like a monkey swinging from tree to tree.  And nighttime.  Oh, the night.  Her sleep is like that of a newborn, waking every one to two hours, but instead of being lulled back to sleep by nursing or rocking, she is a crazy she-devil of the night.

Adam and I are considering an exorcism.

And I am at a loss.  Are these “just” temper tantrums?  Is this because she’s sick?  Her ears?  Is she just over-tired from her lack of sleep?  Is she developing some sort of mood or behavior disorder?  Really.  I am at a loss.

My mommy instinct worries that something else is going on here.  But Adam is pretty convinced we just need to be firmer and put our foot down with her.  (She has been a bit spoiled these past few days.)

If tonight is not better, I am taking her back to the doctor.  And maybe digging out my priest's phone number, just in case.

Nov 16, 2011

...In Which I Tell You of My Marker Love

I love markers.  I love their ease of use and bright, vivid colors.

I love that when Paige was younger the only thing she wanted to do was take the caps off all the markers and in the process got it all over her hands and clothes.  I love that said markers were left on the floor to either be stepped on and/or to dry out.

I love that when Hope colors over and over in one spot, the marker makes a hole in the paper and leaves a funky colored mess underneath.

I love that Paige now wants to color with marker on any and all surfaces.  Paper?  Sure.  Table?  Why not?  Refrigerator?  Super!  Kitchen floor?  Awesome.  (And I love that Hope somehow thinks it is a good idea to join in.)

I love that even though they say "washable" the girls are left for multiple days with multicolored tattoos after each use.

Yes, markers are pretty great.

They produce this:

and this:

So all sarcasm aside, I guess I really do have some fondness for markers.  Because I love the fun and joy they give my girls.  (Even if it means a little more clean up all around.)

Nov 14, 2011


I am sitting at my computer, fingers begging to type.  Thoughts tickling for a release.  But instead of the blog, I pull up my journal.

I am too afraid, too self-conscious, too insecure.

I have nothing to write about.

What if it isn’t funny?  What if it isn’t interesting?  What if it isn’t good?

What if people don’t like me?

Here it is easy and familiar.  Here I am safe.

I am doing this for them.  But really I am doing this for me.  I am looking for something else.  Something more to do.  Something more to be.

What if I don’t find it?

What does that mean?

I am safer with no audience.  I am comfortable.  But I think I may be missing something too.


Linked up at

Nov 11, 2011

My Extraordinary Elisabeth

I have the best sister in the world.  No, really.  I do.  (I will fight you on this one.)

Here are just a few reasons she is awesome:

1.  In high school she would help me with my math.  That alone is nice, but I would get all mad and frustrated because I did not understand algebraic equations (or whatever it was).  And during my frustration I would yell at her and be crabby and rude (shocking, I know), and she would just calmly look at me and say, "I am happy to help you.  When you're ready for my help come get me."  Then she'd just walk away.  (Talk about patience!  I can pretty much guarantee that if she had been the one yelling at me I would've yelled right back.)

2.  When I was going through a rough time she was there for me, even though she was physically over a thousand miles away.  I knew I could call her any time of night.  In fact, I think I called her at two or three in the morning once.  Or twice.

3.  She snuggled in my bed with me at night.  Not just when we were little, but even into high school and college.  (And I am a serious snuggler.)

4.  My children adore her.  I think that Hope is convinced that when Auntie Liz comes to visit she is coming to be Hope's personal playmate for the weekend.  And, in a way, she is.  She lets Hope pull her from one thing to another.  She gets down on the floor with the girls.  She even lets both Hope and Paige play with her iPhone and/or iPad.

5.  Well, we are basically twins.  Okay, not really.  We are actually three years apart, but even into our teens we'd have strangers in Target ask us if we were twins.

 She is really one of the most patient, compassionate, sincere, loving people I know.  She is my Wibef, my Twiny, my other half, my love.

Nov 10, 2011

My Friend

For my friend:

If I am having a rough morning, you support me.
If I need a boost in the afternoon, you lift me up.
You are here for me any time of day, any day I need you.

You provide comfort when I'm down.
You fill me with warmth.

I used to think I was too good for you.
I thought I needed fancy.
I thought I needed rich.

Now I know, it doesn't matter.
I'll take you just the way you are.

(Well, maybe not quite just the way you are.  I still need cream and sugar.)

Coffee, you are
My Friend.


Nov 7, 2011

Her Love

Paige loves food.

I mean, she really loves food.  If she sees food, she wants it.  If it’s mealtime, she wants it.  If she’s just eaten, she wants it.  If someone else is eating, she wants it.  Paige upset?  Just give her a snack.  Avacado, fish crackers, chicken, blueberries, cheese, frozen peas, she’ll eat just about anything.  The way she eats, you’d think we never feed her.

Imagine my surprise when, after I gave her a cheese stick, she asked, “Oh-pee?”  For a confused moment, I just looked at her as she frustratingly gestured, stomped her feet, and said, “Oh-PEE?” more urgently.  I finally realized she wanted a cheese stick for her big sister (Hopey).  And, I had an even bigger shock when she took the second cheese stick and actually gave it to Hope.

This has now become Paige's standard.  If she wants a snack or treat, she always has to make sure that Hope gets one too, asking, "Oh-pee?  Oh-pee?"

Yes, Paige loves food more than almost anything else.  But she loves her sister even more.

Nov 3, 2011

Nothing and Garbage

The first day Hope came home from preschool she told me all about it.  She gushed about building potato heads with friends, playing with a stuffed kitty, and squishing animals into glurch.  When I asked her follow up questions, she readily answered, even telling me the plot of the story they read because she couldn't remember the name of the book.  She played outside on the little playground, so she didn't get to do the swings, but she did go down the slide.  They had cheese and crackers for snack, but she didn't eat the crackers.  Her excitement almost brought tears to my eyes.

Fast forward to today.

Me:  "Hope, how was school?"

Hope:  "Good."

Me:  "What did you do today?"

Hope:  "Nothing."

Me:  "Well, what did you have for snack?"

Hope:  "Garbage."

To give credit, where credit is due, I know that Hope got these responses from her friend.  The two of them find it quite hilarious, and if I'm being honest, I get a little chuckle out of it too.  As hard as I try though, I can not extract information about her school day.  I guess I can assume that as long as she comes out of the room smiling and confidently tells me she did "nothing" and ate "garbage" during school, I can be reassured that she's feeling comfortable and well-adjusted.  Plus I just need to let go of knowing every little thing about her day.  Because the "letting go" is part of parenthood too.

Nov 2, 2011

I Will Remain Calm...

When I went out to New York for a long weekend, the only thing I wanted to do was walk around, absorb the city, and hang out with my favorite sister. On the last day, I jokingly told my sister I should’ve said the only thing I wanted to do was see a famous person.  (Okay, so I was only half joking.  I mean, c’mon.  How neat would it be to share a bench in Central Park with Jennifer Aniston?)

Well, apparently I don’t need to go out to NYC to see someone famous.  I don’t even have to be on the East Coast.  Or on any coast, for that matter.  That’s right.  I saw someone famous here.  In Minnesota.  At my church.  It wasn’t Jennifer Aniston, but someone I have an equally big girly crush on.  Nicole Curtis from DIY Network’s Rehab Addict.  (If you don’t know who she is or what she looks like, you can find her here.  Cute, right?)  I can not tell you how nerdily excited I was to see her sitting across from me.  I desperately wanted to run over and ask for an autograph, a picture, maybe even if she’d like to be my new best friend.  According to my husband though, church is not the place to bombard someone, no matter how big your crush is.  I had to settle for sneaking a few glances every now and then.

But maybe next week I can nonchalantly position myself next to her so that we can shake hands during the sign of peace.  Because that’s totally casual and normal, and not stalkerish at all, right?