Friday, October 2, 2015

Sinking into grief and depression

As per my usual behavior as of late, when life gets rough I just hide and don't share anything.  It's weird because that's so not me in real life, or it wasn't until about four months ago.  Well, to be honest I started this slide when my dad died nine months ago. 

Not too long after Dad's death, my husband was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition.  He's losing his sight and there's nothing we can do about it, no treatment, no hope of changing the outcome.  During those same scary days during the testing and diagnosis, I gave notice at the job I'd had for nearly 16 years and quit two weeks later.  I was compartmentalizing everything that was happening so one thing was never connected to another.  I started seeing more clients; I thought I was doing well and had my fear and stress under control.  Maybe I did, but it was the grief that was eating away at my soul.  Grief and loss were becoming overwhelming and I was ignoring it.

Rob quit teaching at the beginning of May and we suffered another financial loss.  Matt came home from Japan in the middle of June and what should have been wonderful was stressful and overwhelming, shooting my anxiety and worry to whole new levels.  My dad's memorial service was a few weeks later and it shook me, made me notice how much I was grieving. 

Holy hell, it seemed like the blows would never stop.  They haven't.  Over the summer I began to lose confidence in my abilities, saw my client load reduced by half, started struggling to leave my house in the morning and make it in to the office for supervision and to see clients, and somehow welcomed shame and guilt into my daily life.  The weight never gets any lighter.  Tears fall regularly, my self-esteem is lower than I remember since my early 20's, and I feel responsible for the expectations of others though I've just made those up and have no idea what they might really be.  I have lots of negative stories I tell myself, and I often believe all of them.

In therapy this week we focused on a relationship with a friend.  I intentionally shut her out over the summer and every time I have tried to talk with her since, I make up stories about rejection.  Moving past these stories has proven to be more difficult than you would think.  "She loves you!  She only wants the best for you!" I tell myself, and then the other part reminds me that I've been rejected and it can never go back to the way it was...  total bullshit, but that's the darkness that creeps in through the cracks in my self-esteem.  And now that the cracks are visible, the fear and regret of my husbands condition come followed closely by hopelessness about the future and our combined success.  Will we never be able to buy a house?  Will we always struggle and never be able to live in a rundown place?  Will I be able to support both of us when he cannot work?  Will he find something in this world that will keep him above the depression or is that his eventual destiny, the bringer of his demise?

Sunday, February 22, 2015


We need to eat more fish.  I like fish, I miss eating it, it's good for your health, it's good for certain medical conditions.  I often eat fish sandwiches at fast food restaurants, but that just makes me want good fish.  

Last week when I was coming home late from work and it was just the two of us, I took Lindsay out to dinner.  We went to a place we'd only been to once a few years ago.  Turns out, I loved it.  I didn't remember what my problem with it was the last time, but Lindsay was happy to remind me that it was the cost - it's a bit pricey.  Apparently cost isn't that much of an issue for me anymore.  Anyway, I had a salad with blackened salmon and it was phenomenal.  The next night I was even later coming home and I collapsed in my chair complaining about the long day and that I just realized I was hungry.  Rob started naming off restaurants and asking what kind of food I wanted and I just wanted that same salmon I'd had the night before.  I had the same blackened salmon but this time over rice and orzo with roasted asparagus.  Again it was fabulous.  Sigh.... 

Lindsay doesn't like fish or seafood - except canned tuna, she'll eat that - so making it at home is argument provoking.  There's always some sort of fast-cooking chicken in the fridge so making her a different entree shouldn't be a big deal.  Rob and I talked a little about eating more fish, especially fish high in omega-3 fatty acids....  for us that means tuna and salmon because the other choices aren't all that appetizing.  Except trout, but eating it from a grocery store isn't appetizing.  

What I'm getting at is that my meal plan should have more fish in it, but I doubt I'll be grocery shopping this week because of a snowstorm, a flat tire, and a missing paycheck.  Basically I have zero time and we'll have to eat out of the freezer and pantry this week.  God, I wish we could just eat out every day this week.  It would be so much easier.

  • Macaroni and cheese casserole - Blue box, cream of mushroom soup, tuna, green peas
  • Slop - rice, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup
  • Leftover chili  
  • Turkey in gravy over mashed potatoes - Schwans
  • Burrito bowls - rice, taco meat, beans, cheese, etc
  • Spaghetti with vodka sauce and sausage/ski pasta?
  • Quiche - bacon

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Something Normal

Meal plans are normal.  I really need some kind of normal right now.  Even the month isn't normal - January is a bookkeepers nightmare.  

We've gone to the grocery store every week but we're not eating much at home, so there's lots of food - too much.  The problem is that I don't have a plan.  I've got a lot of food, no plan.

Hamburger helper.  That's right, I bought hamburger helper.  I'm not sure what I was thinking except that I didn't have a plan.  Basically, we've got hamburger helper and some lemon chicken.  Oh, and maybe the stuff to make spaghetti and Ski Pasta.  Also, I think I might have the stuff for potato soup.

Thankfully, I thought about this abundance of dinner food when we went shopping today and bought mostly breakfast and lunch stuff.  Breakfast is always a tough one for me...  cereal?  Not enough time.  Eggs?  Same and I'm lazy.  Several months ago I made a bunch of breakfast burritos - not bad but I didn't make any this weekend.  

What we do have is yogurt.  Um, yeah.  Lots and lots of yogurt.  I have no idea what else we have.  Toast maybe?

Lunch.  That's where I seemed to shine today.  Salads, sandwiches, snacks, applesauce, juice boxes, bottled tea.  We're set for the week.

Dinner.  Ugh.

It would be great to have a plan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More suck from the process known as grief

I call my mom a couple times a day.  I don't know how else to be there for her when we live about 20 miles away and I have to work about 30 miles away from her house.  I couldn't call this morning so I sent her a text and asked about her dog who was at the vet getting her teeth cleaned.  

Matt will be here tomorrow afternoon.  He was lucky to get the emergency leave, though they made him pay for the ticket and use his leave, we simply don't care.  While we aren't having a memorial service until this summer, we are having a family dinner where we'll all have the opportunity to share with each other, find comfort, and talk to my mom about the future.   

I wonder when this will get easier?  I know it takes time, I've done it before, talked with others who have, and still I'd just like to know I'll be on the other side.  

One moment changed everything.  FYI, freak accidents happen.  I think that's whats so hard.  HE SLIPPED ON THE FUCKING ICE!  I've slipped 15 times since he fell and I didn't die!  I didn't even fall on my butt!  Ugh.  

Also, I just learned that research says swearing helps us to be more resilient.  I've got a life to put back together people, so if you don't like the swearing, fuck off.


Grief and WTAF?

This last six days have been fucking surreal.  Did I say that already?  I'm talking to my mom tonight and realize we're talking about giving away all of my dad's clothes, shoes, and coats.  What the ACTUAL Fuck?  

I was watching Gray's Anatomy today and some guy's dad died.  Perfect viewing material.  Fuck me.  Anyway, he said he couldn't imagine a world where his dad wasn't alive.  Me either!  My life has become small, I'm living in a bubble, and I know I can't stay here forever - I have a job, clients, and a family.   I have bills to pay and responsibilities to attend to.  

I have to figure out how to deal with it, process it, and then begin to put it behind me.  But what did I do yesterday?  I reveled in isolation with my family.  I got angry.  I talked to my mom about giving my dads stuff away and I felt like I was watching a movie.  This can't be real, right?  I have no idea who I'm angry with, I'm just angry sometimes.  It wells up like vomit from the pit of my stomach and fills my whole being with an intense white-hot anger... and then, when I can't figure out who to be angry with, it subsides and I feel empty and alone.

In case you couldn't tell, my dad died.  He took his last breath and his heart stopped beating at 5:55pm on 1/11/15. WTAF?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

God's Dirty Joke... And the one where I say FUCK a lot

My dad fell on the ice.  We all fall on the ice sometimes, unless you live in a tropical climate and never leave - to which I say, aren't you just special...?

So my dad fell on the ice in his driveway and hit his head.  But he didn't just hit his head, he slammed it against the ground, bouncing his brain back and forth in his skull.  

That will fucking kill you.  

Thirty-six hours later we're sitting in the hospital waiting (is that even the right word?!) for him to die.  The neurosurgeon used the word miracle when referring to his chances of recovery.  They were willing to do radical surgery if we wanted it, but the best outcome we could hope for was that he would need to live in a nursing home and be cared for the rest of his days.  That is NOT the life my dad would want.

It's a quarter to three in the morning; my mother and I are keeping vigil while my daughter and husband doze.  My mother is struggling with the stress of the hours of wakefulness and the crushing grief that threatens to incapacitate her.  I feel like I'm living in some surreal fucking wonderland where I should wake from any minute.  This cannot be happening - how does a slip on the ice change the very foundations of your existence?!

It's not God's fault.  God doesn't cause bad things to happen, he doesn't have his finger on the pulse of every fucking person on the planet.  God will however, offer a hand, tell my dad a dirty joke, and welcome him into the afterlife.  Once there, my dad will meet my father and my son.  They'll hang out awhile, and my dad will tell my father how proud he is of me. 

I don't know if that's the way it will happen, but I need to believe that God will tell my dad a dirty joke.  

This was the view from my dads hospital room just before 2am.  I felt lonely and the scene is both hopeful and empty.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Journaling In The New Year

I would love to be able to journal every day of the year, or write in a beautiful composition notebook (my tastes are simple) every week.  Writing by hand is difficult for me because my hand gets tired, my brain goes way faster than my hand, and my handwriting is just awful.  It's easy to be discouraged about keeping some sort of written record about life.  Facebook and Pinterest are full of awesome hand written, beautifully drawn, expertly colored examples of journals - not one skill of which do I possess.  That's okay, I can write well, I'm funny, and I frankly don't give a crap what anyone else thinks about what I have to journal about.  I can just write here.

The past month or so has been full of accomplishments, heartbreak, anxious moments, progress, holidays, and so much more.  I'm actually overwhelmed with how much our lives have changed in the last four or five weeks.  I completed my masters degree and never have to go back to school again (if I don't want to) - Whoo Hoo!  It really was a huge accomplishment for me.  Not too much later, Rob came home with awesome news too!  He is going to be teaching a class at the local community college.  This is something he's wanted to do for several years now.  What wonderful accomplishments we have had recently, and 2014 as a whole was a pretty fantastic year.  It was full of completed goals, new opportunities, and so much growth!

Speaking of college, Jake wants to go back to school soon, Matt is finishing a class here and there in the Navy, and Lindsay will start at a charter school that offers college classes and about 85% of their students graduate with a high school diploma as well as an Associates Degree when they're done.  How exciting for all of them!  On the down side, because life is never perfect, Jake and Willa separated recently.  They are both in our hearts as they deal with this disappointment.

Matt will make a decision soon about his career in the Navy.  He doesn't know yet what will happen, so we're all just being patient for his decision when the time comes.  Patience!  I know, right?!  I swear, I am being patient!  It's easier than I expected, seriously.

So then there's work.  I'm thinking it's time to give my notice and become a counselor full time.  I have found security in my job over the years, so making this decision was difficult and scary.  Yeah, I am terrified of leaving the security I have had for all these years.  I'm still not sure if I can make enough money as a counselor, but If I don't risk anything, I'll never know.

So 2015 is here!  I'll be writing 2014 on checks and documents for the next three months, but so will you so there is that.  I will receive a transcript soon that states I have earned a Masters degree, leave a job I have both loved and hated for so long, and jump feet first and running into a career that I have been building for the last two and a half years.

I'm not one to make resolutions - I've said that before - so I'm setting my sights on intentions...  Intentions are positive change that I intend to bring about.  I'm not fixing something that's broken, I'm creating a positive - so much difference!  It's like the power of positive thinking; put the positive thoughts and intentions out into the universe while working toward these positive goals for change. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It certainly isn't bliss - Thanksgiving Edition

We normally spend Thanksgiving with Rob's family, but this year no one was having a big dinner so we're spending it at home with a turkey and all, or most, of the fixings.  

The problem is that everybody seems cranky.  Lindsay was happy we weren't going to a family function because she's currently in this "I hate everyone and they hate me" phase of teenage-hood.  She said she was relieved we were going to stay home, eat food, watch Planes Trains and Automobiles, and be generally lazy - but this morning she asked if she could go to a friends house for dinner.  At first I said no, and Rob basically said he didn't care, so I just told her to do what she wants.  To be honest, I said it in a way that was full of guilt, but I figured we couldn't win this one...  no matter what we said, she'd think we were stupid, evil, heartless, or mean, take your pick.  She didn't end up going so now she's in her room surfing the internet on her phone.  Sigh...

Rob is still in bed with his computer and the tv is on the same channel I left it on.  I'm sitting in my chair, struggling with a headache (beginning migraine?), nausea, back pain, and massive heartburn.  So it definitely isn't blissful in my home today.

Add to that, Matt (whose spending his third Thanksgiving in Japan) wants to be home with his family but is struggling with some decisions regarding his continued service.  He may or may not continue with his service, but that's another story.  Jake isn't coming home for Thanksgiving either, but that's not a matter of distance.  He and his fiance are going to her family function this year but I think they'll call.  Something is going on with those two but I have no idea what and I've actually lost sleep over it.  Welcome to Parenting 201...  you know, when you've managed to raise them to adulthood and send them out into the world.  This kind of parenting is still new to me and I'm struggling with it.

It might be time to open a bottle of wine.  If I get tipsy now, I'll have all day to build on that.  Now excuse me while I google drink recipes for brandy because I just found a bottle.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I'm on a bunch of food mailing lists - Kraft, Allrecipes, Betty Crocker, etc. - and in the last week they've all sent emails focusing on chili.   I know, big shock since the weather's getting colder and everybody is thinking about winter comfort foods.  When the kids were growing up, I came up with a fantastic chili recipe that was inexpensive, simple, made A LOT of food, and the family loved.  I recently figured out how to make it in a much smaller batch - tougher than you'd think since I've been cooking for an army (feels that way) for so long.

So basically I want to make a batch of chili - a little for dinner and a little for Rob's lunch and maybe enough leftover for another dinner.  I suppose that means I'll have to go to the grocery store today.

  • Chili!  With sour cream, cheese and frito's.  Maybe I'll pick up some corn muffins too.
  • Lasagna roll ups.  With vodka sauce, sausage, salad and garlic bread.
  • Parmesan Chicken breasts with creamy potatoes and peas
  • Frozen pizza for Rob and Lindsay on my class night
  • Poor Man's Soup - kind of an open a can and dump it in the crockpot sort of soup
  • Ravioli/spaghetti/Italian something - maybe even a goulash.  Or chicken.  I'm super undecided.
  • Slop - my lazy fallback.  Turns out that I've started offering a choice between slop and burrito bowls because their base is the same - ground beef and rice - and they're about the same amount of work.
I can go to the grocery store by myself this morning and still have time to come home and finish a couple loads of laundry, clean and vacuum the office and living room, and neaten the dining room before I have to pick Lindsay up from school.  We'll even have time to be lazy before we have to leave for her appointment late this afternoon...  I'm thinking movie/tv show and some hot chocolate on the couch under a blankey.

Oh, and schoolwork.  I've got three huge assignments due in two weeks - none of which I have finished.  I have an individual presentation, a group presentation, and a case presentation....   damn, enough with the freaking presentations!  By the end of that class, I should be super comfortable getting up in front of them and talking.  Hopefully it isn't an issue at the beginning of class either.  

There's crazy life-changing stuff brewing in our family.  Not only is Jake getting married in nine months, but Matt is probably going to reenlist.  I'm over the moon excited about one and fighting the depths of despair with the other.  What we expected our lives to look like just isn't going to be the case.  And...  such is life.  Full of twists and turns, unexpected events, and disappointments.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dinners! And some lunches...

Oh, my gosh!  I've done such a poor job of coming up with a meal plan and buying for it.  I'm spending a fortune on food these days because I'm just stopping at the grocery store and buying whatever sounds good.  After doing that at least once since Friday, this is what I've come up with based on what I've got.

  • Grilled cheese on Potato Dill bread with tomato soup or chili.  We had this today.  Thank heavens for the chili in the freezer!  I'm going to have to make another batch to refill my freezer stock.
  • Breakfast for dinner.  Hashbrown casserole (maybe), eggs, sausage, toast.
  • Mexican Casserole.  Hoping for some leftovers from this dinner.  
  • Halloween Pumpkin Soup from the Holiday Slow Cooker cookbook.  It looks good and I've always wanted to make a good pumpkin/squash soup.  I guess the keyword here is good - I may have to add sausage to boost the flavor.
  • Spaghetti and sausage with vodka sauce
  • Pizza - Schwans
  • Ravioli and sauce
Rob and I went to Target to pick up some lunch stuff.  We bought wraps and a couple of salads.  Rob is pretty good at packing his own lunch every day, but I'm not.  I try, but I'm not as dedicated to planning.  I've got three lunches, and three days I'll need them.  Here's to hoping!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mexican Tortilla Casserole

This was one of those FB posts that you're supposed to share so you save it to your page.  I always look them up on the internet and post from the source but I couldn't find this one.  So here it is, posting so I can pin again.

Mexican Tortilla Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 package taco seasoning mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can refried beans (warm them first so they're easier to spread)
1 cup cooked rice
1 can Mexi Corn, drained
4-5 large flour tortillas
8 oz salsa

Prepare a casserole dish with cooking spray.

Brown ground beef and onion, drain.  Add taco seasoning and cook according to package directions.  

Place a single layer of tortillas in the bottom of baking dish and spread 1/3 of the beans on them, top with 1/2 of the meat mixture, and sprinkle cheese.

Second layer tortillas, 1/2 the rice, 1/2 the salsa, 1/2 the corn and cheese.

Third layer tortillas, 1/3 beans, 1/3 meat mixture, cheese.

Fourth layer tortillas, remaining beans, meat mixture, corn, rice, salsa and cheese.

Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10-15 minutes longer.  Let sit five minutes before cutting.  

Serve with sour cream, guacamole, shredded lettuce, and tortilla chips if desired.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Food, comfort food!

We're back to hamburgers, slop, and pasta.  Come to think of it, when did we stop?

  • Cheeseburgers, Red Robin french fries (frozen from the grocery store!) and salad - maybe, if I can get them to eat it.
  • Slop - rice, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup and maybe some green beans.
  • Unstuffed Peppers - I started with a Stuffed recipe and made notes on Pinterest to change it to UNstuffed.  We'll also have salad, which I'll make them eat.
  • Mac and cheese casserole, or just mac n cheese whatever sounds good at the time.
  • Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and biscuits.  
  • Pizza
  • Lasagna rollups or ravioli (from Schwans) with roasted zucchini and salad.
The only meal that will be any real work is the unstuffed peppers.  Comfort food

Growing up, my kids were allowed to choose the meal on their birthday.  If we were going out, they picked the restaurant.  Lindsay always chooses fried chicken and my mashed potatoes, and this year is no different.  Although, this very minute she is trying to figure out what else she likes that would go well with mashed potatoes.  She suggested spaghetti and vodka sauce.  We decided that was gross.

Jake and his fiancee Willa are coming for dinner on Lindsay's birthday.  It's been a month since we saw them at Jake's birthday breakfast.  I'm looking forward to seeing them, but I'm gonna have to clean my house tomorrow during the day because I won't have any time before they come.  Cleaning - I hate cleaning.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Food, school, work, planning, holidays, and dread

What do all those things have in common?  They're all in my head right now.  Oh, and add pain, worry, concern, fear, and a strange sense of impending accomplishment which is new.  

Food is in my head because I cooked, shopped, and then cooked again today.  It's like the day was consumed with food!  Which, by the way, I'm trying to be mindful off considering I've gained back nearly everything I've lost in the past four years.  Oh, so depressing.  I never really made a plan for meals this week, I just bought random stuff and got cooking.  I had Rob prep meatloaf and then baked two of them.  One for dinner tonight, the other sliced and frozen for lunches or fin-fer dinners.  Then I made a small batch of chili for lunches, etc, and I've finally started potatoes so we can have a traditional meatloaf dinner tonight.  

So what I have to work with this week is...  (in my head there's a little drumroll going on.  I'm easily amused, get over it.)

  • Macaroni and cheese (Kraft blue box)
  • Meatloaf (leftovers from tonight and a whole one sliced and frozen)
  • Chili (probably just for lunches, but in a pinch it's there for dinner)
  • Pasta (spaghetti and sauce or ravioli and sauce - it'll be a mood thing)
  • Fried shrimp/chicken and fries (Lindsay hates seafood of every kind - except clam chowder.  Go figure)
  • Leftovers, fin-fer, breakfast...  whatever 
School starts - my last class (YEA) - in just over a week.  I'm NOT looking forward to it.  I'm so freaking over CCU, the cohort I've had to join, the assignments, the assumption that mental health issues cannot be solved without God, that the only way to live is to be Christian...  it's never ending.  This class is specific to combining religion and counseling, so there's that.  

Work is work.  I'm exhausted and it's just harder to give a rats ass when I feel overwhelmed and tired.  Also, I've been spoiled and rarely have I had to work more than part time.  I'm ready to have my Monday off again.  

I'm trying to plan the curriculum for a group, two groups actually, and while I'm a planner this is harder.  Enough said.

The holidays are coming, and we're in the middle of our family birthdays so I'm kind of anxious about money, get togethers, parties I'm willing to attend, parties that don't happen, gifts I have to buy, and everything that comes with that.  Matt isn't coming home for the holidays this year, so there is that.

I've had more pain lately.  Headaches, backaches, neckaches, jaw pain...  the list feels endless.  And then there are the worries...  the glands in my neck are swollen.  I don't know why but it worries me, and so do a couple of strange moles I have.  I'm hoping almost everything is stress related, but I really have to make a doctor's appointment for a physical - and nobody really wants to do that.

So stress.  Fucking stress.  

I would go on but now all I can think about is how stressed out I am and how I didn't get any laundry done today...  Dishes, laundry, packing up all the food I made, making my bed, cleaning up the messes I've made.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


To me, it's a four letter word.  I don't want to feel that way about it, I just do.  It appears that I will have to treat it the same way I treated quitting when I stopped smoking - unappealing yet necessary.

While I was waiting for Lindsay on Monday, I took a walk around a trail that I see from the gazebo I sit under to read.  The frustrating part was that the trail was shorter than I had anticipated, though it was about a mile long.  I had been trying to kill time and it only took me about 15 minutes.  For the next two weeks, Lindsay and I will have to wait an hour between her appointments around dinnertime so I mapped out a route that takes us past a Jimmy Johns and is two miles long.  If I'm right, this should take us a little more than half an hour with a stop to pick up a sandwich so we'll be back at the cute little gazebo with half an hour to eat our dinner before her second appointment.

While I was mapping and planning all this out in my head and on this really cool mapping site, I decided I needed an app to track my distance and time...  and maybe I needed to track it more often than once a week.  After all, don't they (whoever they are) tell you that you're supposed to exercise at least three times a week?  So I walked at lunch today and used the little app I downloaded from Google Play and I understand they make one for the iPhone too.  Now I know that I walk an average of three miles an hour and that my chosen route near work is almost exactly a mile long.  It will be easy to get out and walk...  until the weather changes.  Once there's snow on the ground, my work route is kaput because there are no sidewalks.  

Anywhooo....  the reason I started thinking about exercising, besides all the regular stuff (weight creeping up again, concern for my daughters health, generally healthier lifestyle, etc) is that Jake intends to get married in the mountains next summer, at the summit of a five mile hike.  Yeah.  The shape I'm in now, I'll never make it.  Rob says we'll just take our time and breaks as we need them, and drink enough water.  I think we should work on getting in shape.  I would rather not be done for before they even get married!  And I'd like to be able to make it down the trail in one piece.  And the reception...  I'd like to have fun there instead of napping.

So yeah.  I'm going to approach exercise - for now - the same way I did quitting smoking.  I'm not happy about it, and there are benefits that I will soon reap.  Hopefully one of the not smoking benefits will come in handy - my lung capacity is getting better and the shortness of breath is decreasing.  Thank heavens allergy season is waning.

Monday, September 1, 2014

More hurt feelings, and some feelings of failure too

Being treated poorly by your teen seems universal, but it can get old really quick.  I'm also curious, why do we accept poor treatment from them?  I really want to know.  Why do I allow her to call me names?  Why does she swear like a sailor even when I ask/tell/insist she not?  I've been permissive with her, that's for sure.  Maybe that's the answer.  

It's times like this that I want to just throw in the towel.  It doesn't take much to hurt my feelings anymore, to leave me feeling like a failure as a mother, wife, and employee.  My skin is quite thin these days, that's for sure.  I hate feeling like I am responsible for her success or failure, for her mood and our relationship.  

I would blame it on hormones (mine), but it's not that time of the month.  I could blame it on the back to school routine, or the fact that she just sprained her ankle pretty badly.  I could blame it on a lot of things, but the fact is that she treats me poorly sometimes.  I'm sure she says the same about me.  Maybe it's time for family counseling, though there isn't anything I want to do less, including being stung by bees, run over by a car, and allergy testing.  Seriously.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Menu Ideas for the second week of school

I'm desperate to put dinner on the table for a whole week, but I seem to take the easy route and pick something up once or twice a week.

For lunches I'm taking soup at least two days and a salad for the other.  I found a recipe for Italian Sausage Soup in the Allrecipes magazine and I'm making a big batch today for lunches.  Some of the suggestions online say to add orzo pasta...  I'm so sad I can't find the box I swear I had.  

Meals for this week, which I swear I've bought food for but I can't remember what I was planning.  Hmmmm...

  • Chicken Quesadillas or Burrito Bowls with beans and rice
  • Macaroni and cheese casserole 
  • Slop - ground beef browned with salt and pepper and covered in cream of mushroom soup and sour cream over rice - finally had this last week and I wondered why I haven't been making it EVERY  week!
  • Spaghetti with vodka sauce.  Hopefully I'll have enough sausage left to make this.
  • Hamburgers and salad - I might make some sort of potato...  lemon potatoes?
  • Italian Sausage soup leftovers - on Thursday when Rob is gone.
  • Chicken wraps - Asian Style Chicken for lettuce wraps from Schwans but in tortillas because Safeway didn't have any butter lettuce. 
  • And if for some reason none of that sounds appealing some night...  I still have the stuff to make another pepperoni pizza.
  • And I still have cheese ravioli, sauce, mozzarella cheese, and olives left to make a layered casserole. 

Wow, we're eating the same things every week.  Maybe that's why I run off to buy other food during the week.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Back 2 School

It's been crazy busy here - community events, back to school prep (which most people get done in a day or two of shopping - but I can drag out for weeks), busy work schedules, and an overarching feeling of anxiety and being overwhelmed.  It doesn't matter how much I try to prep for the start of school, we're always caught off guard and feel like it's too much.

The result has been a house full of oversensitive people, people who can't take a joke or requests for additional support from others.  I can't ask Lindsay to unload the dishwasher without her freaking out about having homework or being too tired.  Admittedly, this sounds a lot like a screw you to chores, but there's also a hint of the desperation that says she was in no way prepared to be back in school.  So I wonder, is there a good way to prepare for school or does the initial shock of a 7:30am to 3pm schedule (plus homework) after a summer of no responsibilities feel a lot like being thrown into a pool of ice water?

This is the question that consumes my life from the middle of July to the middle of September.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Food for the Week

Farmers markets offer a great opportunity to increase the amount of veggies in our diet.  Unfortunately you can't see that in this weeks menu ideas.  I have an abundance of squash (yellow and green), and some broccoli, but I used most of my veggie bag in the soup I made yesterday.

  • Hamburgers and salad
  • Zuppa Toscana leftovers
  • Spaghetti with Vodka sauce, garlic herb bread and spicy broccoli
  • Macaroni and Cheese - blue box
  • Chicken Quesadilla and zucchini pie
  • Slop or Fin-fer night (Find food for yourself)
We might have two fin-fer nights.  We went to a tiny little water park in Greeley today and followed it up with a picnic.  We had a lot of fun, wore ourselves out, and my family is asleep at four in the afternoon.  They'll probably wake up in an hour or two, but I doubt we'll be making a big dinner.  They can have tuna sandwiches or something.

We have plenty of snack food for the week because of all the random stuff I bought for our snacky dinner last night.  Hummus, cheese, bread, veggies, fruit.  I take snack food to work with me for lunches while Rob prefers burritos, leftovers, sandwiches, and small microwave dinners.  We have a little of everything in our freezer and deep freeze.

Next week we'll have to plan for Lindsay's lunches too, as well as quick breakfast food.  School starts and I'm so far behind in my planning and purchasing for the change.  Hopefully I have some great surge of motivation and don't wait until the day before she has classes.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Change Sucks

Matt is supposed to be done with the Navy next year so I've posted a best guess countdown.  It may or may not be accurate, but it will count for me and I won't have to.  Most of what this means is that we are counting down to change that we can't imagine.  He hasn't lived here since he was a boy in high school.  He's a man now, with adult dreams.  It will be different.  

It seems that everything is different these days.  Work is more annoying than normal, though I did talk about marijuana edibles with my boss last week.  It was a weird conversation, and funny.  I live in Colorado so it's legal, our employees just can't test positive for it because of the work they do.  I however, am exempt because I'm an office employee.

School is starting soon and Lindsay and I don't do well with change.  I have my last class coming up and that will be different too...  and then I'll graduate and more change.  Change, different, new experiences...  it just keeps happening.  That's what life is all about.    

Simple Saturday Gratitude

We went to the farmers market today.  We normally go to the one by our house on Sunday, but we have one of Robs work events to attend tomorrow.  We found one on the other side of town and it was awesome.  There was a wine booth.  I had no idea there was a winery close, but there is and it had some amazing wine.  I bought my regular bag-o-veggies for $10 and Lindsay begged me to buy kale.  When I buy kale I always use it to make zuppa toscana and she also decided that she wanted to invite her boyfriend over for dinner to try it.  Thank god for the wine, right?  Nah, he's a good kid.  We also bought some great bread, orange chocolate cookies, a lemon cucumber, and of course the wine.  

So for dinner we had zuppa toscana and a bunch of other snacking food...  sliced baguette, hummus, boursin, slices of sharp cheddar, strawberries, blueberries, sliced apples, and sugar snap peas.  We sat on the living room floor in my personal version of a picnic and watched The Goonies while eating too much.  

I'm full.  I'm tired.  It was a good day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Since when are we as parents expected to bribe our kids to turn in homework, to attend classes, to give a rats ass about school?  

Oh, crap.  I feel a rant coming on; one that starts with, "When I was a kid..."  Shit.

When I was a kid, I was offered cash for grades.  I guess there was bribery involved, but I was expected to approach school like it was my job.  MY JOB.  I was required to attend all my classes, I was required to give a shit, and when I didn't (I'll admit to a rough year in high school), I had my ass handed to me on a platter.  I was grounded, had double the chores.  

What scares the crap out of me is that a lot of parents are offering things I would never consider.  Remember when you said to your parents, "But (fill in best friend/distant acquaintance - whomever suits current needs)'s mom lets her!"  Well, I'm not so-and-so's mom, I'm your mom and I will not (fill in the blank with rejected request).  

Sigh....   Being the parent of a teen girl freaking sucks.  I MUST apologize to my mother as soon as possible.  I put her through hell, and her curse threatens my sanity.  You're not familiar with the curse?  Lucky you.  When I was a teen, my mom rather nonchalantly said to me, "I hope you have a daughter just like you."

Well fuck. 

I find myself thinking back to when I was this age...  what did my mom do that worked?  What did she do that enraged me?  What did she do that kept the situation under the slightest control?  And holy shit, what did she do when I told her I was pregnant?  How would I react?

I feel like Lindsay's teen years are going at a snail's pace.  The sooner I can get her to 18 and graduated, the less anxiety I'll feel.  That's what I'm telling myself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Winter... it's coming!

It just occurred to me that this is coming...

I have maybe three whole months before I see this again, and I'm not looking forward to it.  Something about the weather we're having has me all sad and mopey; the lack of sun for even a few days can pull the rug out from a Coloradoan.  It's been raining for over a day and I haven't seen the sun since...  well, it's been a couple of days?  It just made me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and watch mindless television.  We'll have to thank Jake for turning us on to Community.  

Enjoy the rest of your summer because winter is coming.  Bum, bum, bum.... (queue dramatic music)   

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Google Keep.... I think I'll keep you.

There's nothing like a bunch of post-it notes in my drawer, on my desk, in pads, stuck to my computer screen, at the bottom of my purse, or on the kitchen table.  Seriously, I buy all kinds, sizes, shapes, and colors.  I've got them with lines, pictures, washed out backgrounds, and promotional ones that are cooler than hell!  Okay, bad analogy.  

But really, Google Keep is like having a page full of post-it notes you can access on your smart phone, tablet (there's no app for the Nook damnit, but you can view it on Chrome), work computer, home computer, Chromebook, etc.  I keep my grocery list, meal plan, stuff I'm worried about, calls I have to make, and a bunch of things I'm working on to solidify my mission statement for my private practice on individual notes.

For someone who has a fatal attraction to being organized, like me, Google Keep is like pizza to a pothead.  I would know, I live in Colorado.

Thanks to for the awesome pic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Attempted Planning and Organization

I'm trying to get back into the groove of cooking, especially since school will start in about three weeks and my planning and organizational skills will come in quite handy.  Translation...  we're screwed.  I would love to say that I'm going to cook every night this week and that we won't eat out, but that would be a lie.  With Rob's new job and our crazy schedule, we will eat out at least once and I will enjoy it.  Rob was even saying last night that we will probably be able to eat out more.  That's a goal?  Okay, whatever.

For now, I have to plan and this is what I've come up with:

  • Tacos, rice, beans.  This could also be in the form of a burrito/taco bowl.  We have grilled chicken strips, ground beef, avocado, sour cream, salsa, cheese...  I should just call it Mexican night.
  • Spaghetti and sausage with vodka sauce and cheesy bread sticks.
  • Salad with grilled chicken strips - this is the lazy night special since it takes zero prep.
  • Ravioli
  • Slop - this is ground beef in mushroom sauce over rice.  Another lazy night special and family favorite.
  • Chicken and rice - a fairly simple recipe I found online.  I actually had to buy celery for this - actual cooking is involved so I'm making it today while I have time.  Actual cooking...  it smells so good, and after carefully reading the recipe rather than skimming, it appears to be almost chicken risotto.  Wow.   Hopefully it will provide leftovers for lunches this week.
We will absolutely be having dinner out later this week, there's no chance I'll cook every night.  I'm also thinking about breakfast out on Saturday or Sunday.  Mmmmmmm, breakfast. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014


That was my focus today, or rather being able to notice judgment and let it go without putting any of myself into it.  It was a little about me recognizing how often I have judgmental thoughts and a lot about freeing myself from the burden of judgement.

Mission accomplished...  well, so far anyway.  I feel as though it's become easier through the day, and it will be easier tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.  Why didn't I do this earlier?!  Judgement.  Moving on.

By the way, FB is a killer when you're working on being non-judgmental.  Just thought you should know.

Allergies suck

I'm considering allergy testing.  

This is a big deal for me because...   needles!  I hate needles, but every year I fight to find just the right allergy medication, just the right combination of drug to natural remedy to household isolation.  I'm over it.  

It will be a huge step for me to call my doctors office and ask about the process, costs (always a big deal for me), and if it is even an option.  

I've noted my progress, now lets see if I follow through. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

I had a naughty thought this morning...

"I can just quit my job and see clients!"


You see, I think naughty thoughts when I don't get enough rest/play/family connection/accomplished on the weekends, take your pick.  I also get a bit cranky, fail to refresh, and head into Monday with the typical Monday angst.  And for the record, this thought was the least of my naughty thoughts; it just happened to be one of the loudest.

The funny thing is that I don't work at that job-I'd-like-to-quit on Monday's; I haven't for years!  On Monday's I see clients, I do work on creating my private practice, I read for work and fun, I race around town to get things done.  It's not exactly fun, but it isn't really the grind that I feel other days of the week.

We have bills to pay, a class to pay for - my last! - and a lifestyle that we'd like to achieve.  You know the one where you can go to the grocery store whenever you want and don't really worry about the fact that your jobs require six tanks of gas between the two cars for the month.

So that's it, I have naughty thoughts sometimes.  I'm old, give me a break!

Friday, July 18, 2014


It's a bitch.  I mean really, who wants to be awake at four in the morning after going to bed nearly seven hours earlier?  Nobody, that's who.

I have narrowed the problem down to an ill-timed dose of Excedrin Migraine - note to self, only take that stuff until around two in the afternoon.  Pain later in the day will require Aleve or Advil.

I keep telling myself that I have no new stress or anxiety, but that might not be entirely true.  Rob got a new job today...  wait, yesterday.  It's within the same company and comes with a raise so the "risk" is low, but it is change and I don't do too well with change, of any kind.  So maybe it isn't that he can sleep in an hour later in the morning, or that his paycheck will be a bit bigger, but it could be that he can't take Lindsay to her afternoon appointment during the week or that when school starts again he won't be in a position to pick her up at a reasonable time.  He assures me that he will be able to adjust his schedule when he's done training, but for now it will be change.  

Dinner time will be later, but we will see each other in the morning - I do not currently get up at 5:30 to have chit chat with him, he generally gets a, "Have a good day, I love you," in a sleepy voice as he grabs his cell phone and heads out the door.

There is good news with this transition...  this position will allow him to build experience in a field he has schooling in but lacks the course credits for a degree.  Most companies want a degree or the experience - in a couple of years he'll have one of those, or maybe both if we can get him enrolled in some classes.

And then there is the transition that I have been avoiding for some time.  I will earn my degree soon and will need to transition to a full-time counselor if I am to make use of my degree.  I would like to open a private practice, and I know that might be a dream for a bit.  Regardless, I will need to leave the job I have found security in for the past 15 years.  That is a scary thought.  I have been attending an online private practice conference and today began reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  So far, both have given me uncomfortable glimpses into the fear that keeps me rooted in mediocrity.  

One of my discoveries (or maybe it's just a willingness to voice it) while listening to Daring Greatly, is that I'm afraid I'm not good enough.  Come on, how many people feel that way sometimes?  Raise your hand; you know you have your moments.  Unless you've done a lot of work, or you are naturally blessed with a fantastic understanding of what you are capable of and above average self-esteem, you have experienced that feeling from time to time.  Me?  I feel like that at least a handful of times every week.  When I'm tired or sick it gets worse.

So why do I feel like I'm not good enough?  Is it because I didn't try very hard in school?  No, that's not it at all.  Is it because I'm lazy and don't do much outside reading?  Uh, I don't think so.  Is it because I'm still working on me and that is showing up for me in different ways?  For now I'm going to have to say, yes.  I don't have any other answers right now, but these feelings of inadequacy will stand in the way of my future if I don't confront them and their source.

Oddly enough, I feel less uncomfortable about myself now that my husband has had an opportunity to move forward in his career.  This is important, but not to be addressed at 4AM.

Yeah, it's after four in the morning.  I fed the cats already!  Good grief.  Good thing I got extra sleep this morning, tomorrow today will be a long day.  I have a nap opportunity this afternoon that I hope I will be able to take advantage of.  Also, I cannot wait to read this when I've had some real sleep - it should be a hoot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ahhh, gratitude. Where have you been?

When there are things to worry about, concerns that overwhelm the soul, that is the time to look to gratitude.  It would be so easy to make up some excuse about how I'm so worried about X, Y, and Z to think about being grateful for the things in my life. The truth is that without finding those small (or big) things and naming them, the joy is stripped away and all I am left with is the ickyness.  Yes, I said ickyness, deal with it.

I am ever so grateful that my son was able to visit home and that we even got to see him before he completes his time forward deployed in the Navy.  As frustrating as his visit seemed, we did get to see him.

I am grateful for the beautiful, funny, intelligent, and sensitive woman my son has chosen to marry.  She has one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met.  She is angry with me right now, which is one of the things I am terribly worried about, and I hope I can make it right since knowing her and having her in my life is terribly important. 

I am grateful for the wonderful day my daughter had yesterday.  She deserves some joy and time with friends in the summer.

I am also grateful that my daughter's boyfriend seems to be more goofball than jerk - a distinction I was unable to determine until recently.  I still trust him only as far as I can pick him up and throw him, but she is my daughter and I would move heaven and Earth to protect her.  That lack of trust has less to do with him than with me and my fears.

I am grateful that I was able to sit in the warm sun chatting on the phone with a wonderful friend during my lunch and watch two adult males try to load a 10' long, 6" diameter PVC pipe into a 1960-something Porsche.  I'm serious, it was the funniest, most ridiculous thing I had seen all week, maybe all month.

Finally, I am grateful that I am capable of introspection regarding my current struggles as well as my career goals, also a source of great worry and concern these days.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reading Would Be Nice

So back in the beginning of May, I talked about the things I'd like to do in order to feel a little more normal.  Reading was one of those things, and I'll be honest, it hasn't been easy.  I can't seem to focus on reading and it is beyond frustrating.  I don't meal plan like I used to, I don't drink wine among the sunflowers and mint in the back yard, and there has been no relaxing.  Not to speak of anyway.

The books I'm trying to read, or want to read, have changed only a little bit.
  • The Gift of Therapy by Irvin Yalom - I'm still trying to read this one.
  • Catching Fire - still haven't finished it.  Lost access when I had to replace my Nook and the Kindle app wasn't uninstalled properly.
  • I Thought it was Just Me (But it Isn't) by Brene Brown - still haven't bought it.  Maybe someday.
  • I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert - same story, haven't bought it.
  • Berried to the Hilt by Karen McInerney - bought it, haven't read it.
  • Forever Odd by Dean Koontz - I've read it before but forgot the story.
  • Cold Days and Skin Game by Jim Butcher - A friend lent these to me and then I just bought them on my Nook.  Can't get into them.
  • Inferno by Dan Brown - Bought a real copy, haven't started it.
  • And in case my to read list wasn't long enough with zero follow-through, I picked up Bitter Is the New Black from the library.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sometimes Parenting Sucks

We had dinner with Matt and his girlfriend on Wednesday night and then didn't see or hear from him until today... and then the day was full of disappointment.  We didn't hear from Matt all morning, but we went about our business anyway, with a short trip to the grocery store for buns and the gas station to fill up Rob's car.  This visit has had a lot of "go about your business" time.  Late this afternoon when he came for a couple of hours to chat with us and regroup for an evening with his friends.  He promised his sister he would spend time with her tomorrow and then he left.  A few hours later, he called and cancelled.  According to Lindsay, he has broken every promise he's made to her since he got here nearly two weeks ago.  His dad, Lindsay, Jake and I have gotten a token amount of time with him, with the bulk going to the girlfriend and his high school friends.

I know that kids grow up and spend less and less time with their families.  I know it's our job as parents to support him in any way we can while he is serving, and I do not begrudge him that.  I do believe that if you make a promise to your 15 year old sister who loves you even when you crush her heart, you are a jerk.  There, I said it.  My son is behaving like a selfish child and his lack of planning should not impact his sister this way.  
Sometimes parenting sucks, and tonight I have cried for hours because my little girl is in pain.  I have held her and rocked her, letting her vent about the injustice she feels, and offered gentle agreement while I cried with her.  I offered tissues and then helped her find her cell phone and offered her Nook so she could find some distractions.  But I can't take the pain away, I can't make it stop hurting.
Sometimes parenting sucks because sometimes you wonder what happened to the boy you raised and what you might have done to make him distance himself from his family.  You wonder if, instead of doing something really wrong, he's just spreading the damn wings everybody is always talking about and we've just offered the perfect launchpad for his independence.

Sometimes parenting sucks because you hear how disappointed your oldest son is about how you don't come to visit him or spend time with him where he lives.  You wonder if it's worth explaining how difficult it is to buy gas to go to work or pay the bills and buy groceries, and how much you struggle.  You worry about making him worry because you don't want to make him feel guilty about anything.    

And finally, sometimes parenting sucks because you wonder when you will be able to stop worrying about them for just long enough to feel like a real person with a life of her own.  You wonder if there will ever be a time when you can be selfish again, or if this is a permanent effect of having children, and if so, might they all just get together and decide to let their mom and dad have a worry-free day once every decade or so? 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gratitude Project

I feel like I should start my own personal gratitude project.  I should, most days, list what I am grateful for.  Ignore my bad grammar.  It's okay to have things that aren't going right, that are causing stress.  That's just life, but ignoring the things that are going well simply isn't productive for me.

What am I grateful for today?  Well so far...
  • Lindsay and I talked last night.  She shared her poetry with me, her feelings about a few stressful subjects, and some macaroni and cheese while we watched Community.  
  • I was able to talk to a Navy Mom on the phone at lunch.  She was in need and I was able to be there for her.
  • Once again, it is a beautiful day.

We're supposed to have enchilada's for dinner tonight.  I'm hoping that is still the plan because everyone is fully stressed out and I don't think we'll be able to handle Matt cancelling.  Fun times.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Worry, stress, and anxiety, the black hole of having fun and enjoying life.

So I may have been mistaken about being happier at work.  I don't want to be here.  Maybe I'm just not happy anywhere right now.  That presents a problem.  

I wish I could afford to see a therapist.  I simply cannot function at this high a level of stress for much longer.  I have such horrible reflux/heartburn and stomach aches that I wonder if I have an ulcer.  I was certain we had a leak in a water line at home today and I just about lost it waiting for Rob to take a look at it after I called him and told him I was worried.  Turns out, I was right.  Yes, I worry about EVERYTHING.  Yes, I WORST CASE SCENARIO everything.  Sometimes I'm right.  Not that it helps to be right; as a matter of fact, it might make it worse since it reinforces the need to worry.

So, what am I grateful for today?  

  • I'm grateful for the timing of finding the leak under the house.
  • I'm grateful my son is a simple phone call away - on his US phone, and only a few minutes from home for the next few days.
  • I am grateful that the storms we seemed to have every day have cleared and we have beautiful days ahead of us.

Fuck this noise!

6/30/2014 - Afternoon

It is a sad day when you realize you'd rather be at work than at home.  

My teen daughters behavior and my sons visit home have me jumping out of my skin and feeling useless and unwanted.  I knew I would say those words in regards to my daughter some day, but my son?  Never saw it coming.  It's the girl, I know it's the girl.  Who wants to sleep at home when you can sleep at the girlfriends apartment?  Why eat dinner at home when you can go out to eat with the girlfriend?  Why hang out and talk with your parents when you can party and go to clubs with your friends and your girlfriend?  Well, now that you put it that way...  Yeah, fuck that noise!  

It's been a week and we've seen him for about three hours on his own.  Three hours.  If I wanted to see the girlfriend, I'd have coffee with her when he's out to sea.  I haven't had coffee with her, ever.  There's a reason.

And then there's Lindsay...  she takes and takes and takes.  And then she gets upset when she doesn't get one thing.  She might ask for a glass of water and I've just sat down.  I say no, she get's irate.  Fuck that noise.

I'm not a happy camper.  

7/1/2014 - Afternoon

So I may have been mistaken about being at work.  I don't want to be here.  Maybe I'm just not happy anywhere right now.  That presents a problem.  

I wish I could afford to see a therapist.  I simply cannot function at this high a level of stress for much longer.  I have such horrible reflux/heartburn and stomach aches that I wonder if I have an ulcer.  I was certain we had a leak in a water line at home today and I just about lost it waiting for Shawn to take a look at it after I called him and told him I was worried.  Turns out, I was right.  Yes, I worry about EVERYTHING.  Yes, I WORST CASE SCENARIO everything.  Sometimes I'm right.  Not that it helps to be right, as a matter of fact, it might make it worse since it reinforces the need to worry.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


I've been thinking about gratitude a lot lately - for the past couple of months in fact.  I think about how we all seem to take the little things in the world for granted, how we focus on the negative, and get stuck in the belief that nothing good ever happens.  Good things, amazing things, happen all the time but we may miss them because they happen every day or they seem insignificant.  They are insignificant because we make them that way.  

Think about the last sunset you saw, or how the sky was pink or orange at dusk.  That beauty happens all of the time, but we may be too busy to notice...  it's amazing when nature presents us with a perfect painting of the sky.  I saw a nearly-full moon the other night, perfectly framed by clouds and a darkening sky.  I reveled in the moment.  

We had a severe hailstorm here a couple days ago.  There were broken windows (both car and house), roofs that were destroyed, cars with massive damage, and some of the most severe water damage I have ever seen in the grocery store down the street.  I have a one-inch crack in the windshield of my car, Rob and Matt's cars have some major hail damage, and our mint and sunflowers are shredded (the mint is already recovering, go figure).  Our roof may have hail damage - we can't tell until we can clean off the vegetation - but it did not leak.  We were so lucky!  I am so grateful that we survived the storm safe (physically, property, emotionally) while some of those around us were not as lucky.  Even our insurance agent had some major damage to her office which isn't covered (flood insurance, yeikes!).

I am grateful that my sons are safe and happy, that my daughter has people she can depend on, and that my husband is more engaged in his job.  Even a small financial setback we will experience over the next two months gives me something to be thankful for - more time with him at home.  Gratitude, as I see it, is a choice - if you make the choice to be grateful, you have the opportunity to be happier, to see more beauty in your life, and to understand that life isn't all bad, it's a mixture of all experiences.