Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

Well, it's New Year's Eve, and it's time to come up with some resolutions for the upcoming year. And, I might as well make them public in hopes that someone will help me stick to at least some of them this year!

Resolution the First: Lose weight. This is my perpetual resolution...sometimes I succeed in keeping it, sometimes I don't. Instead of assigning myself a specific goal weight and stressing myself out, I am going to resolve to live healthier, eat wiser, exercise more frequently, and I am going to make it a family affair. I want to teach my daughter healthy eating habits and I want her to learn the value of living an active lifestyle. I want her to learn what it is to have a healthy, positive, and realistic self-image. And, I want my daughter and my husband to live a long, long time!

Resolution the Second: Baby #2. Aaron and I have been talking about growing our family since we got engaged, and we have decided that we hope to make that dream come true this year. Here's to practicing!!

Resolution the Third: Continue to improve as a mother. Yeah, I think that I am a good mom. I do the very best I can every day, doing what I think is best for Grace and ensuring that she knows how much she is loved and cherished. But, there is always room for improvement. I need to focus more on my relationship with my daughter and less on how clean (or messy) my house is. I need to stop and enjoy each moment with her, because she is getting bigger every day and I know I only have one shot to experience her childhood with her. And, I need to remind her constantly that she is so special and that her mom will always be there for her.

Resolution the Fourth: Tell Aaron that I love him every day. Yes, Aaron and I always say, "I love you," to each other when we leave the house in the morning or when we are ending a phone call with each other. But, I worry that sometimes those words lose meaning after a while. So, in addition to using those three words, I need to expand on my feelings. Aaron, in a couple of words, is the best. He needs to know that. I am so proud of him and how he has adapted to life as a stepdad. He's a supportive, loving, understanding husband. He's not perfect, but he is absolutely wonderful and I love him dearly. I need to make sure he knows that.

Resolution the Fifth: Decide what I want to do when I grow up. I love my interpreting job, but I don't see myself doing it forever. I need to find a stable, rewarding, long-term career that allows me to devote a large amount of time to my family, and unfortunately, I don't know what that career will be. I have a couple of ideas, and I need to sit down with someone at the UW here in Milwaukee to find out how my Bachelor's degree in Spanish can serve as a base for a future career for me.

Resolution the Sixth: Go to Bonnaroo!! Aaron and I went to the 'Roo two years ago and had a BLASTY, but we missed Bonnaroo last year because I was unable to take the time off of work to go. This year, screw it...we're going. We love live music and camping with the sweaty hippies too much to miss out on this festival two years in a row. And here's to hoping that the Decemberists and Franz Ferdinand come back to the 'Roo this year! Is it too much to ask to have Ben Folds back as well? Pretty please?? I'll be anxiously waiting to see the lineup!

Resolution the Seventh: Turn 30 gracefully. I talked in an earlier blog entry about my approaching 30th birthday so I won't drone on about it here. Needless to say, it feels a little weird knowing that I am moving into a new decade of my life but I am not going to obsess about it. Rather, I'm going to be excited that I am happy and healthy and I am going to celebrate the experience that my past 29 years have afforded me. Then, I am going to apply moisturizer liberally to battle those little wrinkles that are creeping up around my eyes.

Resolution the Eighth: Get involved with the upcoming elections. It's so easy to feel disgruntled about politics in general, but deep down I still believe regular ol' people can make a difference. That belief comes from my parents, who showed me that taking the time to participate in our democracy is a child, I accompanied them to the voting booth, handed out literature with them, and listened to them have healthy debates regarding important issues among themselves and with others. They taught me that if I don't like things the way they are, I should work to change them. So I am educating myself on the candidates and my choices and when I (finally) make my decision on who I am going to support, I am going to get involved.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful, healthy, and happy New Year. Here's to another great year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Hangover

Christmas was wonderful but exhausting. For us, the holiday was actually a four-day-long whirlwind party that had us running all over the state to spend time with our cherished loved ones. We came home today with a car full of gifts (most of them for Grace) and with our bellies full of tasty holiday food.

Grace had a blast with Christmas this year. She got into the spirit of things as soon as she realized that Santa had come and that she was going to receive tons of gifts, but she also really enjoyed spending some quality time with her extended families. And, even though she skipped her nap a couple of days due to our hectic schedule, she behaved like a little angel.

And, Aaron and I enjoyed our first Christmas as a married couple. We took some time out to exchange gifts, just the two of us, which was nice since we didn't have a three-year-old begging to open our gifts for us. My hubby clearly picks up on hints, since he got me a much-needed pair of winter boots (cute ones) as well as tickets to an Editors concert coming up here in Milwaukee. And although we struggled a bit with splitting up our time evenly between each of our families, I think we realized that the most important thing was that our own little family spent all of this time together, no matter where we were.

We all will be hitting the hay early tonight...back to work and day care tomorrow. More parties to come this weekend!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Child and My Ex-Husband

Today is a tough day for me, as is any day when my ex-husband has my daughter for the day.

My ex doesn't see my daughter much. When we were married, he was a very hands-off parent...he never wanted to be alone with Grace, he never bathed her, he rarely fed her, and I got the impression that he would have been much happier watching a Law and Order marathon than spend some good quality time with Grace. This was a large part of the reason I decided to leave him. He was a crappy dad, pure and simple, and I was not about to put my child through a lifetime of that.

Right after my ex and I split up, he saw Grace a couple of times a week. The visits were short and most of them were spent with me coaching my ex on what to do (and not to do) with Grace. "No, it's not ok to plunk her in front of the TV for hours." "No, you can't feed her McDonald's at every meal." "You should probably get some healthy snacks in your apartment." "Try to engage her in conversation--read her a book." "Wet diapers must be changed immediately so she doesn't get a rash." It was enough to drive me out of my wits, but I had to do it for Grace's sake.

His visits became less and less frequent, and then I eventually stopped calling him to try and initiate a visit. Visits went from twice a week to weekly, then a couple times a month, and now we are averaging about once every six weeks or so. He was also supposed to call Grace every Monday night to chat with her, even though he thought that was pointless. Those calls stopped months ago.

Ok, I need to stop here and vent. If you TRULY cared about your child, wouldn't you want to see him or her frequently? Wouldn't you at least flipping CALL every now and then to check in on your child? Wouldn't you have a vested interest in her school, her health, her moods, her daily life? Do you care that you are potentially damaging your child's self esteem by showing her that one of her parents doesn't have the time to even place a five minute call once a week check in on her? And, I'm sorry, but you don't go from being a sad excuse for a parent to parent of the year because you take a four-hour parenting course. It doesn't work that way.

But I digress...

So, a couple of weeks ago, my ex called me and told me that his mom wanted to see Grace around Christmastime. (Oh yeah, the only time he wants to see Grace is when his mother initiates a visit.) My stomach dropped when I received this call. Yes, legally he has the right to see Grace when he wants to. But, the past several times he has taken her for the day, Grace has come home looking DRAINED. She has told me a couple of times that she doesn't want Daddy to pick her up. Last visit, he took Grace to the Children's Museum here in Milwaukee, and something there scared her so much that even mentioning the idea of going to a museum to Grace sends her into a panic. Aaron and I made the mistake of taking her to a museum recently to tour a space for our wedding reception, and when we told her we were in a museum, she threw a huge tantrum. Shaking from head to foot--she was terrified. It took at least a half hour to convince her this was not the museum she went to with Daddy and that she didn't have to be afraid.

And what did my ex say when I confronted him about this? He blew it off and said he had no idea why she would be acting that way. Yeah freaking right. Are you that clueless, or are you just a liar?

So, naturally, when visit time with my ex comes, I turn into a basket case. I don't sleep for a week before the visit, and I am useless the day of the visit. Becoming a mom has opened up a whole slew of new emotions I never knew I had, and one of the rawest and most powerful of those emotions is the fear of something bad happening to your child. I have no control over what happens at these visits, and if my ex was at least halfway responsible, I would feel better about things. But, he's not, so I don't. And, the worst of it is, I know he will not be honest with me about what happens during a visit. Things could have gone horribly but he will go on and on about how much fun Grace had and how much he adores her. So, I have to rely on a three-year-old to give me the facts, and that is not a position I want to put my daughter in.

The other thing that gets to me is that he loves to play the role of the doting father at these visits. He gives her gifts. He takes her to do fun stuff. He doesn't discipline her. THIS ISN'T PARENTING! This is a glorified version of babysitting in which the child has free reign and gets whatever she wants.

I do the best I can to prepare Grace for these visits. A few days ago, I started to tell Grace that Daddy would be coming to pick her up for a visit this week and that it would be lots of fun. I told her that Grandma has Christmas gifts for her and that she'd get to open them at the visit. I told her that Aarie and I would be there to pick her up before bedtime. She understood what I was saying and even seemed a little excited about the visit so I tried to convey nothing but positive messages to her so she wouldn't go into it feeling apprehensive. Then, I laid awake every night this week dreading today. Part of being a parent is sometimes, for your child's benefit, jamming your own feelings as far down as they can go and not letting them out. I think this is particularly true for divorced parents.

Grace seemed happy to see my ex this morning when he picked her up, but I noticed a look of panic on her face as I put her in his car. I swallowed hard and smiled and told her that today was going to be a fun day and that I loved her so much and that Mommy and Aarie would pick her up tonight before bed. She said, "I will be a good girl,"and then they were off.

So, today has been a tough day for me. I found it hard to concentrate at work because my mind would always wander back to Grace and wonder if she is scared or if she is having fun or if she needs me. I called to check on her earlier, and it sounded like things were going ok. I am eagerly watching the clock and waiting for the time to come to go and pick her up.

Sorry, I know this entry really isn't in the spirit of the season. I promise that once I get through today, things will brighten up significantly for me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Day Care versus K4

Well, we have come to that point in Grace's life when it is time to start thinking about her future schooling. Believe it or not, my little girl actually has the nerve to keep growing up, so I might as well face it and try and prepare her the best I can.

When Grace and I moved to Milwaukee to be with Aaron, the initial plan was for the three of us to live in Aaron's house for about a year or so, and when the time came for Grace to start attending kindergarten, we would move out to the 'burbs. Milwaukee Public Schools in general don't have the greatest reputation in the world, so we were planning to move out of the city so Grace could attend a school in a nearby district.

Now that Grace and I have been here for a while and are putting down roots in our neighborhood (which I LOVE), Aaron and I have decided to stay in the city for a while. I have done some research into Milwaukee Public Schools, and yes, like any other large city, there are plenty of schools in our district that I wouldn't dream of allowing Grace to attend. However, there are also an abundance of schools, including our neighborhood schools, that are excellent, award-winning learning centers. I am also fortunate enough to have friends that have both taught in MPS and were MPS students, and I have gotten tons of great information from them about the district and about some of the specific schools in our area.

Grace has been in day care since she was six weeks old because I have needed to work full time. The day care she attends right now is fantastic--Grace absolutely loves it, she's learning tons of stuff, she is coming out of her shell more and more each day, the rates are reasonable, class sizes are small, and it's less than a mile from our home. The center's administrator has a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and 25 years of experience at this facility, and it shows. The curriculum is organized, challenging, and balanced. The children clearly flourish there, and it is apparent that the teachers truly enjoy their work and care for the kids. I couldn't have asked for a better environment for Grace.

I had planned to keep her in this day care until kindergarten, but recently I have been weighing the idea of enrolling her in the K4 program that our neighborhood elementary school offers. The attractive thing about the K4 program is that, starting at age four, there is more exposure to the "academic" side of things and there is a real focus on preparing kids for school. And, our neighborhood elementary school is actually a specialty school, concentrating on Arts and Humanities. Being that Grace is an artsy kid, I think that building on that interest and providing her opportunities to learn more would serve her well. This particular school has received honors from the state for their programs and word of mouth from some of the parents whose younger kids attend Grace's day care along with lots of research tells me that this particular school is one of the best in the district.

The other reason why I am seriously considering enrolling Grace in K4 is a letter we received recently from Grace's day care. In the letter, the administrator clearly states that the center's focus is shifting from a "preschool" type of environment to an "infant, toddler, and older toddler" program. Red flag. It is true that many of the center's families enroll their children in the K4 so there aren't an abundance of four-year-olds in the center (in fact, there are only a handful), and this shift in focus shows me that the center is responding to that fact. I understand where they are coming from--they have to tailor their program to work for the majority of the kids--but I'm more than a little concerned about what will happen to Grace if I keep her in this center next year and she becomes one of the only four-year-olds there. Will she be blended in with the younger kids? Will she continue to be challenged? Will keeping her in this center help to prepare her for kindergarten?

She loves this day care center, and so do I, but I need to weigh these issues. I want Grace to be prepared and to have all of the opportunities that she can to gain knowledge. I also want her to be in an environment where she feels comfortable enough to flourish. Transition has not always been something Grace has handled well...she's like her mommy in that respect. I am touring our neighborhood elementary school the first week in January and enrollment time comes right after that, so I'm going to have to make a decision pretty quickly. Looks like some late nights pacing the floor and doing internet research are in store for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

She's Definitely My Kid

This pic was taken yesterday while my little one was enjoying a double fudge chocolate cupcake at the cafe inside Barnes and Noble. Mmmm...the only thing that kept me from nabbing a piece of it was the fact that my pants were feeling a bit tight. :-(

Normally, I wouldn't have caved and let her have so much sugar in one sitting, but we had had a long day of shopping and she was remarkably well-behaved all day, so I felt she deserved it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Venting For the Sake of Venting

I have two totally unrelated stories to tell, just because I feel like venting and I am hoping that things look a little brighter for me after I hit "publish post" and move on with my day.

The first story has to do with my upcoming 30th birthday. For the last year or so, I have been looking at this new milestone with some trepidation, not because I think 30 is SO OLD (relax, you over-30 friends, you) but just because I have really enjoyed being in my 20's and would kind of like to stay here. So, my bright idea was to take a trip as a birthday present to myself, to hopefully usher in the next decade of my life with a memorable vacation and get rid of any negative feelings I may have about my birthday. The first thought was taking a trip to Las Vegas, since I've never been there and have been wanting to go for some time.

After some thought, though, I changed my mind on my vacation destination. My grandparents are snowbirds who head down to Green Valley, AZ every winter to escape the seasonal hellhole that we have to endure in Wisconsin. They have been going down there for at least the last fifteen years or so, and I love going to visit them. Now that my grandparents are older and aren't in fantastic health, I see more value in going to see them than going to Vegas. After all, Vegas will be around forever, and unfortunately, my grandparents will not. So, my birthday trip will be to Arizona and I am so excited.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a very fearful flyer. I have flown zillions of times and I used to tolerate it, but a bad experience that I had on a flight, coupled with the horrible images from 9/11 that have been seared into my brain, have left me terrified to fly. Sure, I'll do it, and I did it three times this year, but I am the type that is nervous about it two weeks before the flight and can't truly relax and enjoy a vacation (at least the last day or two) because I am stressing about the return flight home. So, my only concern about my Arizona trip, naturally, is the flight. Last night on my way home from work (see, I am already obsessing and my birthday is over two months away) I came up with a brilliant alternative...road trip.

(Ok, I know, I know. I am far more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash. Unfortunately, this logic doesn't work in my brain for some reason. I can tell myself that I'm safer on a plane than on any other form of transportation thousands of times...I still don't calm down. I guess I just don't want this stress during my birthday.)

As a kid, I made the cross-country drive to Arizona several times with my parents. It was always a blast and I have tons of great memories from our journeys. I saw this as an opportunity to take one such trip with my new husband and daughter and maybe start a new tradition. Yeah, it's a long ass drive, but there is so much beauty along the way and so many cool places to stop that I think everyone should do it at least once. The journey there and home is part of the excitement. I couldn't wait to tell my hubby about this new plan last night at dinner. I just knew he would be stoked by the idea as well.

He wasn't.

After hearing my presentation, he was silent for a minute and then asked, "Drive to Arizona? You're doing this because you don't want to fly, right?" He then took this opportunity to remind me that our child is a preschooler and then made a very helpful comment about how small my car is. He also told me that we would have to have the brakes fixed before we would go. "Fine", I said--I have to do that anyway. And then he added, "You have been putting off getting your oil changed...when are you going to get your car fixed?" And then he did a quick financial analysis in his head and concluded that flying would be more cost-effective than driving anyway.

At this point I was beyond pissed off. After all, this was the man that had told me over and over "It's your 30th, we will do whatever you want." My hubby is a great guy, the best, but we are newlyweds and thus are butting heads over things like this because we are still finding our way together. And, I realize that perhaps I'm not being the most reasonable here, either. Yes, flying would be much faster and probably a little cheaper than driving (although my Saturn gets great gas mileage). I should probably suck it up and fly, but I don't want to. Not this trip. I want my new family to have our first road trip. I want my daughter to start making all of the great memories I got to make as a kid. And, I'm sorry, but I don't want to spend my whole vacation thinking, "You still have the flight home..." And I know having a three-year-old in the car for hours and hours probably won't be the easiest, but I at least want to give it a shot. I know there will be future vacations where I will have no choice but to fly, like when we go to Mexico or Europe, or even back to Disney. I guess I just wanted to do it differently for this trip.

So, we're stuck. Aaron obviously wants to fly and I am standing my ground, too. It's bugging me. I know disagreements are inevitable in marriage as they are in any relationship, but I wanted my way on this one since it means so much to me. And at the risk of sounding spoiled and whiny, it's my birthday trip, dammit. I'm sure we will eventually reach an agreement on this. It's just getting there that will be the challenge, kind of like the trip to Arizona itself.

The other story has to do with government bureaucracy. I should know better than to get worked up about this, especially being an Army ex-wife and having lived a few years filled with bureaucracy, but I can't help myself.

I have not received my regular child support payment from my ex in over a month. I used to get checks every two weeks like clockwork, but they suddenly stopped coming, and right before the holidays. I'm sure this has to do with the fact that my ex changed jobs some time ago and the state of Wisconsin doesn't know about it. I'm not going into a dissertation about how it's his responsibility to inform them and blah, blah, blah--this isn't the forum to hash that out. What does really irk me is that there is no system of checks and balances in place to prompt the state agencies to SEEK OUT that information to ensure kids get the support they are entitled to. Sure, parents can get tossed in jail after 180 days of non-payment, but what happens in the interim? Isn't there some sort of intermediate form of intervention by the state?

I know some parents go years without any support from their child's other parent, so I feel kind of bad complaining about just one month. It's not like the payments we receive save us from plunging into utter poverty. But, I see this as an injustice to my child, and like any mom, that bothers the hell out of me. That money is used to help pay for her day care expenses and stuff like that.

So, I did all of the things I thought I should do to try and resolve this situation. I made sure the child support agency had our proper address. I signed up for online account access so I could monitor all activity on the account. I updated my phone number. And, I waited.

Today, I finally broke down and did something I didn't want to do, which was call the state about this. I had been hesitant to do this because I know the agency is probably totally swamped and I wanted to make sure I let some time pass in case my ex had in fact informed them of his change of employer and they were just a little backlogged. Something similar to this happened when we started receiving support, and after a couple of weeks, things worked themselves out. I was hoping the same thing would happen this time.

After waiting on hold for an eternity with the child support agency, I finally talked to a live person. Armed with social security numbers, case numbers, and all of the information I could find, I explained the situation. Obviously the agent had heard this story a million times before, because she cut me off before I could finish and told me with a high degree of annoyance in her tone that they can't do anything for me until my ex reports his income changes. I asked her if there was something I could do, and she answered with an emphatic, "No." And then she asked me if I needed anything else and hung up.

Ugh, ugh, UGH! I feel really bad for those poor single moms or dads who desperately rely on this income to feed and clothe their children. One month of missed payments could be devastating to them.

I realize that it would be a huge undertaking to go after every single parent who misses a child support payment. I'm sure the funding simply is not's being redirected at other productive and helpful things, like funding an endless war and finding ways to deny that there is such a thing as global warming. But, I can't force my ex to call the state to report his changes to get the process going again, so there is nothing I can do right now except wait. And, waiting is something that I am simply not good at.

I'm about to hit "publish post". We'll see how I am feeling in a few minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Child Prodigy

Tonight, Aaron, Grace, and I had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe Lulu, and while we were enjoying some tasty dessert at the ice cream shop across the street*, Grace decided she wanted to assume the role of Santa Claus for awhile. Here is how the conversation went:

Grace: What do you want for Christmas, Aarie?

Aaron: Hmmm...Mama. (He was trying to claw his way out of the doghouse.)

Grace: You can't have Mama for Christmas.

Aaron: Why?

Grace: Because mama is not a toy.

What an excellent answer!

This also makes me a little nervous that Gracie thinks that all of her Christmas presents are going to be toys. She may not be as excited as I am about the princess shirt I bought her at the Disney Store.

*I couldn't mention the ice cream shop without mentioning the heavenly eggnog ice cream that I enjoyed there. Mmmmmm...and I also love the fact that in their blurb about nutrition facts, they tell the guilt-ridden consumer that the ice cream is not fat free and if you want healthy, you should eat a carrot. My kind of peeps.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow Day

Today was a wintery, messy day in Milwaukee. In addition to the three or so inches of snow that fell, sleet and freezing rain came down on us as well, creating some very hazardous driving conditions. When I clicked on the morning news this morning, I found that nearly all of the school districts in the area were announcing closures and many local businesses were following suit. Grace's day care was one of the few in the area that remained open, and since I work at the hospital and sickness doesn't know (or care) that the roads are icy, we ventured out into the nastiness. Aaron's company was open so he had to report to work, too.

I was a little bummed that we didn't get to take part in the snow day today. I remember having plenty of sick days as I was growing up. I always knew that school would be closed when I woke up in the morning and could hear my dad outside, clearing the driveway with the snowblower before he left for work. Those days were wonderful, especially as I got older. My parents always had to work despite the cruddy weather, so my younger sister and I were left at home to sleep in, watch The Price is Right and soap operas, and lounge around in our jammies all day. It was like a special, unexpected vacation, right in the middle of the school year. Good stuff.

So, memories like that were on my mind as I slowly made the drive in to work this morning, trying desperately not to skid into the cars in front of me on the highway. I thought of how nice it would be to be stranded at home with my little family, eating Christmas cookies and watching movies all day long.

The weather continued to worsen as the day wore on, and the doctors at the hospital were hurrying from appointment to appointment to get everyone out and home before things got really bad. I found that my last appointment ended a full hour before it was supposed to, so I headed home early. As I was getting ready to leave, I got a call from Aaron, telling me that his office was closing early and that he would swing by to pick up Grace from day care early.

So, I got my snow day after all. All three of us were home much earlier than usual, and soon after we all arrived, we were curled up on the couch, snug and warm, watching Gracie's new favorite movie, Ratatouille, and relaxing together. This snow day was even better than the ones I remember from my youth.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I am going to start calling my mom from now on when I need insight into myself.

I have been feeling kind of down lately and was having some trouble putting my finger on what the problem was. After all, I am happily married and a mom, and I am finally working in a job that I really love. So, last night, when I was chatting with my mom on the phone, I mentioned to her that I have been feeling...something...but couldn't figure out what it was or why I was feeling it. My mom, as always, had the answer for me. My life is normal now, and I'm not used to that. She hit the proverbial nail on the head.

My life over the past several years has been quite turbulent. In 2001, I made a life-changing decision to pick up and move to Texas, across the country and away from my family, to give my relationship with my then-boyfriend a chance. We ended up getting married, and a few short months after that, my ex was diagnosed with brain cancer. Our lives became a flurry of doctor's appointments, chemotherapy sessions, surgeries, and long nights in the hospital. I had to quit my job to care for him, so my life no longer looked at all how I had anticipated it would just months before. I remember looking around at my neighbors during this time and thinking that their lives seemed so NORMAL--they were going about their days, working, grocery shopping, eating out, and here I was, with my world falling apart.

Over the months of chemo and radiation that I went through with my ex, I noticed him slowly slipping away from me. Physically he was still there and was in remission, but mentally, he was no longer the man I married. His personality changed completely. I started to lose the ability to connect with him and the worst part of it was that is was not his fault. He had been taken away from me, not by the cancer, but because of the treatment he received to his brain. And, I was turning into a new person. I became angry, resentful, and anxious about everything.

Around this time, my ex and I moved home to Wisconsin and decided to try and have a baby. Because of the chemo he received, my ex was infertile, so we decided to try donor insemination. I got pregnant on the first try, and I was overjoyed for the first time in a long time. I was going to be bringing another person into this world. My life became consumed with nurturing and caring for this new life inside me, and I was so wrapped up in it all that I didn't notice my marriage failing. By the time my daughter was born, my marriage was all but in shambles. I put on a happy face and tried to make us into a family, but it was all for naught. My ex was used to being cared for, and he couldn't handle the fact that I had another person to care for now. He didn't want to care for Grace, so I had to do it all myself. And, he had to undergo yet another round of radiation due to a relapse of his cancer, and the treatment this time took even more of him away than the first round. There just came a point when we didn't know each other anymore, and so we split up. I can look back on it now and I see it as such a sad story...but it was what we were given, and we had to deal with it how we thought we should.

So, I became a single mother with a very young child. I had to move in with my parents for a time, so I could get myself on my feet. My ex and I had tons of debt from medical bills and I had to find a way to pick up the pieces and start to build a new life for Grace and me. I had a full time job, a college education, and an extremely supportive family on my side, so I think I started out a lot better off than a lot of single moms. I would be lying if I said it wasn't hard, though, because it was. There were plenty of nights that I stayed up wondering how Gracie and I were ever going to be able to keep our heads above the water.

When I met Aaron, I was not looking for a serious relationship. My sister set the two of us up, and from the moment he and I began exchanging emails, I knew he was different from the rest of the men in the world. Meeting him for the first time confirmed that--he didn't seem to mind the fact that I was a single mom of a toddler and lived 90 miles away from him. He seemed to look past all that and see me for ME, and he helped me to remember who I was. Before long, I found myself falling in love in spite of myself, and Aar and I decided to make a serious attempt at a long-distance relationship. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So, here I am, remarried, living in a great house in a great city, enjoying being a mom of a fantastic kid, working at a job in interpreting that I love. I couldn't understand why I have been feeling so down lately. What do I have to be depressed about??

It took my mom's comments to make me realize I'm not depressed, really. What I think I am feeling is a transition to normalcy. I finally have the life that I have always wanted...a nice, predictable, white picket fence life...and I'm finding that I have to adjust to this life. I can let myself relax and not worry what is coming up around the bend. I don't have to anticipate the worst anymore. Instead of being in overdrive all the time, I can let the gears slow down and coast along every now and then. I'm just not used to this, and I need some time to adjust. I think this is the odd feeling I have been having...I am adjusting.

Before my mom and I hung up last night, she said to me, "Normal is good. Go and pick out your Christmas tree this weekend with your family. Everything is going to be ok." Who knew my mom was so wise?

Oh, and my heart is going to be fine. Just a leaky valve, and a very minor leak at that...nothing to worry about.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mexican Food and Christmas

Ok, before I get into the meat and potatoes of what I have to say, I just want to mention that I think I have finally reached the end of my quest to find the best Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee. Having lived in Mexico for a time, and having spent a considerable amount of time cooking with my Mexican host mother, I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgable (read: snobby) about Mexican cuisine. I have been searching for a really, really good Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee to frequent when the urge strikes, and I found it tonight. If you're in Milwaukee, or when you're in town visiting, be sure to check out Taqueria Azteca here in the Bayview neighborhood. It's a very unassuming place, so it's easy to pass it by on the way to a flashier destination. At first I was a little disappointed by the small menu, but when my food arrived, I realized that this place was all about quality over quantity. The portions were smaller than the usual trough full of carbs that I receive at other Mexican joints in the area, but that just meant I didn't leave the place feeling like a walking sausage. The food was heavenly, fresh, and very authentic, the sangria was divine, and the flan was as good as the stuff I had at Sanborn's in Mexico City (it was so good--beyond words). The service was just as good as the food, and the atmosphere was mellow and perfect for a family dinner OR a date night. I have found my new favorite Mexican restaurant, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants a break from the run-of-the-mill places that cater to all of the gringos.

Ok, moving on to the other topic at hand--Christmas. Honestly, I've been kinda concerned about the whole season this year. Yes, it's fantastic to see Gracie get so excited about everything, but one question keeps lingering in the back of my mind: Should I be setting her up for the whole "Santa disappointment"?

I remember the moment I realized Santa wasn't real. I was in 3rd grade, and my class was standing in line outside, waiting to go inside after recess. It was right before Christmas, and one of my classmates announced to anyone that was listening that his parents told him that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I was crushed...for me, the whole excitement of Christmas morning was based on the belief that a fat old man in a velvety suit was going to somehow sneak into our house undetected, leave heaps of presents under our tree, eat the cookies and eggnog (mmmm...eggnog) that I so thoughtfully left out for him, and sneak back out. Now, this little brat stole that image away from me and replaced it with a strong sense of disappointment and loss.

Now, I had had my suspicions about Santa before that day. I was old enough to notice that the handwriting on the gift tags on the presents from Santa looked suspiciously like my dad's. I also was old enough to question how someone could get into our house after my dad meticulously locked it each night before bed. Things didn't add up in my young mind, but I suppose I kept on believing because it was just more fun that way.

So, now that I am a mom, I've taken my child through the drill...we talk about Santa, I took Grace to the mall to meet Santa and have her photo taken with him, I remind her to be good so Santa will bring her lots of loot, and we watch all of the classic Santa movies. In the midst of it all, I can't help but wonder if this is wrong. Should I be setting my child up for disappointment? Why not just tell her the truth now and spare her from the same kind of sadness that I felt when I heard the truth?

The more that I think about this, the more I realize that one of the most precious things about childhood is the innocence--being able to believe wholeheartedly in something like Santa Claus without wondering if it's real or not...just accepting it, for the time being, at face value and letting yourself get totally wrapped up in the excitement of it all. Even though I was hurt when I learned the truth about Santa, I still look back with immense fondness on those early Christmas mornings filled with excitement and tearing open my gifts with wild abandon. Those memories of joy far outweigh whatever disappointment I experienced.

I suppose that there is little harm in feeding this excitement. After all, soon enough, she will lose that innocence and learn that disappointment is regular a part of life. She will learn the truth about Santa, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and countless other things, and she will be sad for a while. She might mourn the loss of her youth and long to believe again. And, hopefully one day she will be fortunate enough to have a child of her own, and she will be able to remember what it's like to believe.

That is one of the beautiful things about being a parent. You have another opportunity to experience, through your child, all of the magic and wonderment that you experienced as a child. Except this time around, it's a little sweeter, because you have the privilege of being a big part of that little person's memories.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back to the Wedding for a Moment...

It's been a while since I have posted anything relating to my recent wedding, and I have some news to report that is tangentially related to the joyous event. So, back to the wedding for a bit.

Aaron and I have promised that we would plan a reception so that we could get together with our friends and family members who were unable to join us at our actual wedding ceremony in Florida. Well, initial plans have been made!!

The date we have chosen for our reception is Saturday, April 19th, 2008. We are hoping that by that time of the year, most of the snowing and icy muck will be behind us so travel won't be too much of an issue. The reception will be held here in Milwaukee at the Sprecher Brewery, so much beer and tasty cream soda will be available for all.

We'll be sending out save the date reminders and some more information, so stay tuned. Check for more updates and other stuff!

Monday, November 26, 2007


We spent Thanksgiving up north with our families. We ate tons of turkey, relaxed, did some serious shopping, and generally had a great time. We also enjoyed the first snowfall of the year. Here are some pics of the weekend:

Aaron and Grace surveying the new snow outside my parents' living room window:

Baby #1, asleep after Black Friday shopping:

Baby #2, asleep after big Black Friday breakfast (if you look closely, you can see the syrup in her hair):

Gracie during her very first visit with Santa:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Working Non-Mother...and Other News

Being that it's a short work week this week and my parents haven't spent a whole lot of time with Grace since we moved to Milwaukee, Grace is up in Oshkosh spending time with Grampa and Nada while Mommy and Aarie toil away before the long weekend. We left her up in the Valley on Sunday and we will pick her up again tomorrow night at my parents' Thanksgiving feast. So, I am getting a dose (really a reminder) of what it's like working full time sans bebe. And, although it's really fantastic (blech) getting to go to work an extra hour or so early and staying an hour late, it's not all it's cracked up to be. I am finding myself missing my morning visits from Gracie when I am in the bathroom getting ready for work. I miss the excitement I feel when I am driving home, knowing that my family is waiting for me. I miss dropping her off at day care and getting that big hug and kiss. And, although it was quite nice last night sitting down with Aaron and watching "Heroes" uninterrupted, I found myself thinking that it sure would be nice to have my little pumpkin sleeping on my lap. It's not that I'm not happy for some alone time with my new hubby--I am very grateful for it. It's just that he has been working every night this week and my alone time with the hubby has pretty much just been alone time.

So, I guess I'm feeling kinda sad. Even though there is more freedom without a little one running around the house (and I can get my laundry and cleaning done in peace) there is a lot less laughter. I will be very glad to have my family all back together tomorrow.

And in other news...

I finally cleared all of my checks for the interpreter job, so I go in tomorrow to get my badge and then I can pretty much start interpreting when I want to! Yippee! Now I just have to figure out a graceful exit for my current position...Wish me luck with that.

Also, it would appear that something is wrong with me. (This shouldn't come as a shock to those that know me well...I have been hearing for years that something isn't quite right with me.)

Joking aside, I have been having some terrible chest pain lately. I sorta ignored it for about a month, but then on Sunday night on our way back home from Oshkosh, the pain was shooting from my chest down my left arm and was quite uncomfortable, so I started to feel alarmed. Naturally, the first thing one thinks of when one has chest pain combined with left arm pain is, "HEART ATTACK!!!" but being that I am only 29, I guess I shrugged that notion off. (I know, I know, people in their 20's keel over from heart attacks.)

I called the doctor on Monday to make an appointment to have it checked, and much to my alarm, the nurse told me to go to the hospital. I told her that I didn't think that was necessary, since this pain has been going on for a while and besides, I had too much going on at work to leave right away. (I've totally got my priorities straight.) So, I made an appointment for Monday afternoon.

Happily, the EKG I had upon arrival to the doctor's office was normal, so I had not had a "cardiac event". But, something is definitely not right, so blood tests were ordered and I am going in tomorrow for an ultrasound of my heart to ensure my valves are working properly. Since my grandmother has had serious heart trouble for almost 30 years now and my mom suffers from mitral valve prolapse, my doctor is being extra cautious.

My blood work revealed a wonderful cholesterol level (thank you Weight Watchers) but my thyroid levels are a bit out of whack. This is nothing new for me...I have been having thyroid problems since 2001. The wacky thyroid alone would cause heart palpitations, but according to my doctor, it shouldn't cause the troubling shooting pain down my left arm. So, we will see what the echo reveals tomorrow. I'm actually hoping it shows something relatively minor like mitral valve prolapse, because if it doesn't, my doctor has promised to order more scary tests involving catheters and other poky things. No thanks. Wish me luck on that front, as well.

At least the long weekend is almost upon us. Time to be glad for all that is around me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Heart Fall in Wisconsin, Part Deux

Another reason why I love Fall in Wisconsin is...Packer games! Aaron's family has season tickets and since a majority of the men in the family were hunting up in the Northwoods this weekend, Aaron and I had a chance to go to the Packer game yesterday. It was very chilly out, but the Packers played so well that I didn't mind sitting outside for three hours and freezing my tail off. Here are some pics from the festivities.

Our tasty tailgate treats (including bottle of Two Buck Chuck):

Aaron enjoying brat #2 or #3 (I lost count):

The Frozen Tundra:

Yay! The Packers are winning!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Let's Hear it for The Girls

I just want to take a moment and give some props to two lovely ladies who, without knowing it, totally made my day yesterday. It was yet another cruddy day at work (can't wait till I'm through the approval process for the interpreting job), yet my day was saved by two women: my mom and my best friend, Angie.

(Side note: Naturally, my husband and daughter helped make my day better, too...but I always talk about them.)

It was the middle of the afternoon yesterday, and I was actually on the verge of tears in my cube at work. Fires were flaring up faster than I could put them out, emails were flying frantically into my inbox, my phone was ringing off the know the drill. Then, out of the blue came an email from my mom with totally unsolicited but very appreciated words of encouragement. (I shouldn't say TOTALLY unsolicited. I had emailed my mom that morning complaining about how fat I felt, so maybe she sensed that I was having a bad day.) It was a short email--three brief sentences--but it managed to change the tone of my entire afternoon. And, it reminded me that although things seemed just about unbearable there at work, there are people on "the outside" that love me and that always have my back. So, thanks Mom. You don't know you did it, but you helped make my day.

The second person to make my day was my best friend of 15 years, Angie. She and I try to schedule semi-regular girl dates, and last night we had one such date, where the two of us go out alone to Cafe Lulu and feast on huge Lulu chips and other tasty treats and drink divine Sangrias. I had been looking forward to seeing Angie again and spending some good quality time with her.

Angie and I met back in high school. We both worked at the Pick 'n' Save bakery, and one night Angie called me out of the blue to gossip, and we've been thick as thieves ever since. We were pretty much inseparable in high school(except for the time I thought she was trying to steal my boyfriend...I see now how stupid that was)--we were on the cheerleading squad together, we went on band trips together, we were in choir together, and we hung out every day. Angie was a year ahead of me in school, and I remember when she graduated and went off to college. I thought my world was ending. She left a letter in my mailbox the night before I left telling me how much she was going to miss me...I still have that letter.

Over the years, Angie and I have been through a lot in our lives. We've survived countless broken hearts, graduated college, started careers, bought homes and cars, welcomed babies into our lives...all of those rites of passage into adulthood. And through it all, Angie has always been there, and I hope I have always been there for her, too. I remember the day after I came home from the hospital after delivering Gracie. I needed incontinence pads (I won't go into why...that's another story for another day) and the only person on Earth that I could even fathom asking to buy some for me was Ang. And she did. And then she told me how fabulous I looked, even though I felt like I had been hit by the proverbial truck.

So, our date last night was just as wonderful as I had hoped. I knew it was going to be wonderful when Angie said, "You'll understand this. I had the best afternoon. I went grocery myself." She was right--I totally got it. There's nothing like some solitude in the grocery store when you normally have someone with you whose apparent goal is to do everything possible to prevent you from getting your shopping done. And it's things like this that make our friendship so special--we understand each other, without having to explain or convince. It helps that my husband and Angie's partner have very similar personalities...we have lots to talk, and commiserate, about.

So, Ang, I know you read this, and I want you to say thank you for once again making my day so much better just by being there. I'm so glad that we finally live in the same city again after so many years so we can see each other with some regularity. And, it's true--me+you+lulu chips+sangria+homosexual waiter=fabulous.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I Heart Fall in Wisconsin

One of the best things about Fall in Wisconsin is...going to Badger games!!! Due to an extremely busy September and October, I was only able to attend one Badger football game with Aaron this year, and that game was yesterday. Aaron and I worked the game into a full day trip to Madison, and in addition to seeing a great football game, we saw a very entertaining play at the Broom Street Theatre and had some great German beer at the Essen Haus. It was a blast, and this was the only occasion that I can think of in which Aaron said, "I have a brat in my you want it?" and it wasn't a metaphor for anything. Pics from the game are below.

Brat the first:

Brat the second:

Aaron, thoroughly engrossed in the game:

Me, all bundled up:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Gonna Go For It

Well, after some soul-searching and lots of chats with people who I consider to be pretty darn wise (and several glasses of blackberry merlot), I have decided to pursue the interpreting opportunity. I took my drug screen and had my TB test yesterday, so I am just waiting now for the company to get my results and get all of my information together so that I can get started. I am holding off on giving notice with my current job for now until I have a firm start date, just in case this really IS too good to be true. I guess that I just realized that if I am going to spend time away from my husband and daughter, I had better make sure that I am making the most of that time. So, for those that gave advice, thank you. It was a big help!

And, speaking of spending time away from loved ones, I am remembering this week why I hated being in a long distance relationship. Aaron left for a week-long business trip on Sunday, and I am missing him terribly. This is the first time we have been apart since I moved down to Milwaukee in August, and frankly, it sucks. Yeah, it's only for a week and then he's back for good, but I guess I was getting used to being able to see him every day and it has been awesome. I'll think twice before feeling annoyed the next time he gives me a tutorial on folding his polo shirts.

Sorry, things got a little heavy there for a moment. To lighten things up, here's a cute pic of Gracie. Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Here we go again...

I have been having a career crisis of sorts for the past year or so. I am a Spanish teacher by training, but my favorite job so far has actually been in sales. I worked for three years for a paper company up in the Fox Valley as an account manager, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the people and the company's culture, it was challenging, and, most of the time, it was rewarding. Unfortunately, during my last year of employment at this company, management changed and things went downhill quickly. I ended up leaving just a little over a year ago and I have been bouncing around ever since.

As much as I loved my job in sales, there was one thing missing. In my entire three years working for this company, I only used my Spanish-speaking skills a handful of times, and that made me sad. After all, I worked so hard in high school and college and as a teacher to improve and hone my skills, and I found that the phrase "use it or lose it" applied to my situation. I was rapidly losing my skills, so my new career goal was to find a position where I would be using Spanish at least half of the time.

So, I was offered a position as a recruiter with a staffing company. I was told when I was hired that I would be using my Spanish skills as a large number of this company's hires were Spanish speakers. Well, this turned out to be true, much to my delight, and I congratulated myself on a brilliant life decision. Unfortunately, about six months later, the company transferred me to another branch out in the middle of NOWHERE, and although the move was a step up for me career-wise and meant that I would be using Spanish at least 90% of the time, I just wasn't at a point in my personal life where I could relocate to a place where I would be far away from both my family and from Aaron. It just didn't make sense for me and for Gracie.

Back to square one. I found a great position with an interpreting company in the Fox Valley as a medical interpreter. Perfect! I would be using my Spanish skills all day, every day, and as a bonus, I would be helping people out and making a difference in the world. And, I loved the job. The only problem was that the position was in Appleton, and Aaron was in Milwaukee. Here we were planning a wedding and we still had no firm plans to actually be living in the same city by the wedding date. We tried to work out a compromise wherein we would live halfway between Appleton and Milwaukee and we could both keep our jobs. It sounded like it would work until we went apartment hunting and I realized immediately that neither one of us would have been happy with this arrangement. We each would have been commuting over an hour each day, and we would be moving to a small town that didn't have anything to offer either of us. The only solution that made sense was for Grace and me to move to Milwaukee. So, I left my interpreting job behind in Appleton and left for Milwaukee without having a new job lined up.

This brings us to the present. Readers of my blog know that I took a position as a recruiter with a marketing firm about two months ago, and I have been less than happy. I'm find myself in another position where I am never using my Spanish skills, which is even more of a crime now after being an interpreter and having worked really hard to learn even more stuff. I guess the job would be okay if I at least enjoyed the climate in the office or derived any sort of enjoyment or fulfillment out of it at all. I just don't. It's not for me, and I took the position because I felt like I needed to bring money into the household to take some pressure off of Aaron. I realize now that he really wasn't feeling pressure to begin with and that taking a job for that reason was a bad idea.

I realize this situation is my own fault. By nature I am quick to jump into things without putting a whole lot of thought into it, and I realize looking back that this is what I have done more than once over the past year. I know now that I should have sat down with Aaron and thought about the big picture before jumping from job to job. I guess if I had done that, I would have moved to Milwaukee a year ago and found an interpreting job here. Hindsight is 20/20.

Aaron, being the caring husband that he is, has noticed my unhappiness and my mini-panic attacks every Sunday night before having to go back to work on Monday, and he took some steps to help me out. One of his coworkers has siblings that work for an interpreting firm here in Milwaukee, and he got me a name and phone number for the agency's owner. I had an interview and skills test with this company on Friday, and I was offered a position with the company as a medical interpreter. I could make my own hours, work as much or as little as I would like, and make quite a bit more money than I am at my current position. And, I would be in a job where I would be both using my Spanish and making a difference again.

So, here I am, wanting desperately to take this offer but worrying that changing jobs yet again will leave a horrible black mark on my resume. Lately, I have resigned myself to the idea that I might always be one of those people that hates their job but does it anyway out of a sense of duty. Problem is, I don't want to be one of those people and frankly, I feel like I deserve more.

I need to make a decision soon, because I don't want this opportunity to pass me by, and I don't want this hanging over my head forever. I think I'll have a glass of wine now and think things over a bit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Working Mom

I recently read the book "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" (which, incidentally, is way better than the movie) and thought the idea of chronicling a day in my own life might be interesting. It might give me some insight into where all the time goes, and might be a little entertaining too. (I decided to leave out information about my weight or the amount of calories I took in throughout the day.) So, here, in the life of me.

4:30am (or so)--Woken up by Gracie, who wanted to crawl in bed with Aaron and me. Pulled G up onto bed and heard some unintelligible mumbling from husband. Contemplated asking him to repeat what he mumbled, but thought the better of it and fell back asleep.

5:27am--Woke up panicking that I had missed the alarm. Since I am virtually blind without contacts or glasses and was trapped between G and husband, woke husband up to find out what time it was. Turns out I hadn't missed the alarm and had all of 18 minutes more to sleep. More unintelligible mumbling from husband. I think I know what he said this time, but I won't repeat it here.

5:45am--Jolted out of sleep by NPR. Woke husband up again to ask him to let me out of bed, since I was blocked by G on the other side. Husband grudgingly agreed.

5:46am--Took two extra-strength ibuprofen tablets to combat throbbing headache. Regretted decision to stay up late last night to watch entire Packer game, even though it was quite exciting and a real nail-biter up till the very end.

6:30am--Showered, dressed, and headed downstairs to make G's breakfast and lunch. Put on Wiggles video to keep G entertained briefly before heading to day care.

6:45am--Dressed G for school. Today was orange day (in celebration of Halloween tomorrow), so dressed G in orange Halloween shirt, much to G's delight.

7:00am--Said goodbye to husband after being briefed on his fantasy football team and someone's unfortunate decision to waive Aaron Kampman before last night's game. Who would have known he would have had three sacks last night?

7:12am--Turned off the Wiggles and headed out the door with G. Pointed out pink sunrise clouds to G and watched a jet take off over our house.

7:20am--Dropped G off at day care and headed to work. Decided to listen to CNN on the satellite radio instead of my usual alternative rock station. traffic. Thought to self that it must be my lucky day.

7:45am--Arrived at work and hit the ground running. Delighted to hear that the first song played upon tuning in to usual alternative rock station was "London Calling" by the Clash.

8:15am--Ran downstairs to vending machine for a bag of microwave popcorn and a Diet Pepsi. Breakfast of champions, baby. Passed up free bagels and cream cheese and praised self on amazing self-restraint.

8:20am--Coworker and Weight Watcher buddy stopped by to lend me her copy of season one of "Ugly Betty". Thanked her, and then saw on the back of the DVD case that season one totals 922 minutes. Wondered to myself when in the hell I would have 922 free minutes to actually watch some discretionary programming.

9:00am--Chatted with husband on Instant Messenger about possible venues for our wedding reception. Decided that both the Art Museum and the Public Museum were way out of our price range, much to my dismay. Found some other cool venues and contacted them for tours.

9:15am--Finally got serious about getting some work done.

11:00am--Hmmm...stomach began to growl and also received meeting request from supervisor for a meeting starting at 12:30pm with one of our modeling agencies. Made quick decision to leave at 11:30 for lunch and wondered whose decision it was to schedule a meeting halfway through the normal lunch hour.

11:30am--Ducked out of the office and headed to Target to pick up cupcake mix and frosting for G's Halloween party at day care tomorrow, soda for my desk at work, and various items for G's Halloween costume.

11:45am--Slipped and fell on my way to register to purchase my items at Target. Cursed decision to wear high heels today and resolved to wear sensible shoes from now on. Also made a mental note to send sister an email about this incident, as this was the second time I wiped out at a Target, and she was present for the first occurrence.

11:50am--Wolfed down some stale nachos with nasty cheese at Target cafeteria.

12:10pm--Headed back to office and then over to main building for 12:30pm meeting.

12:30pm--Attended meeting. Turns out I didn't need to eat lunch, as agency people provided ample treats from Starbucks. Had a cookie anyway.

2:00pm--Back at my desk, participated in conference call with two new hires. It wasn't terribly exciting.

3:30pm--Sent sister an email relating story of second Target wipeout. Quickly received response that read, "OH MY GOSH. I'm trying not to laugh at you."

4:45pm--Decided that I had had just about enough work for the day, and left the office. Also decided that music seemed a bit too loud for my drive home, and opted to listen to talk radio instead. Made mental note to thank husband for insisting on installing satellite radio in both of our vehicles.

4:49pm--Shut off talk radio...was feeling disgruntled after hearing story about nation's political problems. Opted to listen to The Decemberists instead. This was a good decision.

4:55pm--Huh...again, no traffic. Indeed, this is my lucky day.

5:10pm--Arrived home at last. Found husband and G in the living room...husband was folding laundry and G was on the couch watching the PBS program "Maya and Miguel". Felt very glad to be home.

5:30pm--Made Halloween cupcakes for G's party at school tomorrow, with G's help. G ate more batter than she actually put into the cupcakes. Promised husband he could have a cupcake before I sent the batch off to school with G tomorrow.

5:55pm--Sat down to a supper of pita bread pizzas with G and husband.

6:00pm--Brother-in-law called to brag about his Guitar Hero III-playing prowess. Brought him back down to earth by reminding him that husband and I are playing the game on medium level, while lowly brother-in-law is still floundering on the easy level. Suggested that brother-in-law purchase a Wii so all of us can play Guitar Hero together online. Laughed at self for turning into a gaming enthusiast.

6:20pm--G declared, "I wanna dance," so I grabbed a CD compilation of children's songs and cranked it up. Husband and G boogied.

6:25pm--Excused myself from dance party in the living room to put away laundry that husband so graciously folded earlier. Chuckled to myself as I realized that putting away laundry by oneself is actually a relaxing activity.

6:40pm--Rejoined dance party. Danced in manner of frog, dog, snake, cow, and other animals at G's request. Husband turned on video camera and taped the action. Hoped I didn't look horrendously fat in tank top and jeans. Imagined self watching video in 20 years and thinking that this haircut was a mistake.

7:00pm--Frosted cupcakes and agreed to let G and husband each have one. Enjoyed one myself.

7:15pm--Bathed G. G decided to entertain me with a lovely story about a little girl who was caught in a rainstorm but later found a rainbow with her grandpa. Sang the bumblebee song with G and then coaxed her out of the bath.

7:40pm--Turned on Dora the Explorer for G to help her wind down for the night. Updated blog.

8:06pm--Delighted to hear G say, "I wanna go to bed now." Scooped her up, per our nightly ritual, carried her up the steps and laid her in bed. Noticed as I turned off the lights that I could hear husband power up his Wii and begin to play his newly procured version of Guitar Hero III in the living room. Wondered if he finally was able to unlock some new songs.

8:40pm--Joined husband downstairs and confirmed suspicions that husband was playing Guitar Hero III. Updated blog. Began doing more research on reception venues in Milwaukee.

9:05pm--So, here I am. I am predicting that I will play a few rounds of Guitar Hero III if Aaron decides to let me have a turn (although that doesn't look terribly likely right now), and I will probably turn in for the night around 10:30pm. Reading this over, I'm not surprised that I am so tired at the end of a normal day. It also appears that I don't do a heck of a lot of work while actually at work. This really isn't accurate--I didn't want to bore readers with the minutae of my not-so-thrilling job.

So, that's it. It appears that I am finally going to get a turn with the guitar. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bizarro Child

Thought that I would depart a bit from the recent wedding-centered theme of my blog and relate an amusing story about Grace. She never ceases to amaze me.

Most kids Gracie's age are in the "Why?" stage, in which they inquire about anything and everything. My niece, who is five months younger that Grace, is an avid "Why?" asker, and after spending sometime with my niece in Florida and being asked, "Why?" about five hundred times, I started to notice more and more how Gracie almost never asks, "Why?" Sure, every once in a while she'll ask, but most of the time she seems satisfied with the answers we give her the first time around, and if she is wondering about something, she tends to ask about it in a different way (i.e., "I can't play with that because it's bedtime?"). It's like she states her theories about things in the form of a question.

And, it turns out Gracie actually discourages the constant "Why?" asking. Here is a conversation I had with her about a half an hour ago, after I learned that she hasn't been eating her lunches at day care:

Me: "Why didn't you eat your lunch today at school?"

Grace: "Because I didn't eat it."

Me: "Why not?"

Grace: "Stop asking me that."

Hmm. I've been shut down. I have to admit, it made me chuckle.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wedding Week Highlights

So, as many of you know, our wedding last week was part of a larger vacation to Florida with our immediate families. Naturally, the wedding ceremony itself was the biggest highlight of the week, but there were several other noteworthy happenings as well. Here they are.

-Watching Gracie get SO excited to see Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Snow White, and Jasmine at the Breakfast with the Princesses. Life looks so much more interesting and magical when I see it through the eyes of my own little princess.

-Our wedding cake. I'm not a frosting person--I'm usually the one turning down a frosting-covered corner piece of cake for a middle piece with much less frosting. But, our cake was simply delicious, frosting and all. The cake was light as a feather, and the frosting wasn't the usual sugary stuff. It was like eating flavored whipped cream. Yummy. I still have some in my fridge if anyone is interested.

-Extended time basking in the sun by the pool. We spent all of our first day by the pool and most of the day after the wedding in our swimsuits enjoying the warm sunshine and occasionally taking a dip in the refreshing water.

-The annual Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. Aaron and I hit Epcot by ourselves on the last day of the trip, and luckily, we made it in time for the festival. There were food and wine selections from over 20 countries from all over the world stationed at various locations all over the park, and we enjoyed ourselves. By the end of the day, we were stuffed with every kind of food imaginable and drunk from a wide variety of wines. My favorites: the German sausage wrapped in a pretzel roll and topped with sauerkraut and the French pomegranite champagne.

-Disney's customer service. The wedding ceremony, transportation, and reception dinner went off without a hitch, and we did next to nothing to prepare for any of it. We left it all in the hands of our very capable wedding coordinator, and she did a fabulous job. And, she did it all with a smile on her face...the money we spent for all of this was well worth it.

-All-you-can-drink iced tea. 'Nuff said.

-Our wedding vows. Aaron's were a perfect reflection of his personality--funny, genuine, kind, loving, and from the heart. I'd like to think mine measured up to his. And, I managed to get almost halfway through mine without starting to cry. Bert was right. Waiting to write your vows till the night before the wedding is the best idea. I know mine were written while feeling the truest emotions that one feels right before their wedding.

-Spending time with my "old" family and my "new" family. I had the opportunity to spend really good, quality time with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my daughter away from the pressures of everyday life, and I will always cherish that. And, I got to spend tons of time with Aaron's family, my new family, too. I really enjoyed getting to know all of them better and feeling the warm welcome into their lives.

-Sleeping in. It's something I don't get to do much these days, and I really appreciated the few mornings that didn't begin with a blaring alarm clock and splitting headache.

-Coming home with my new husband. Gotta love it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wedding pics...

Here are some pics from the wedding!! More to come!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mrs. K

Well, we're back from Florida, and I'm enjoying my fourth full day of married life. The trip was wonderful in every possible way, with the minor exceptions of the extremely humid weather in Florida and the fact that Aaron had a stomach bug most of the day after the wedding. I will post pictures as soon as I can, and I will also include the link for our professional photos as soon as it's available to me. And, I promise more details about our wedding, and our vacation, as soon as I get caught up on my sleep. But, for now, the whole experience can be summed up in one word...magical. More to come!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The All Girls School

I work at an all girls school. It's not a school in the traditional's a department in a marketing firm in which 26 out of the 27 employees are females and the one male that works with us is trying as hard as he can to "girl it up" so he can fit in. It's an all girls school, and I'm the weird older student who started school towards the end of the year and who no one knows or bothers to get to know.

Here's the deal...I started working at this company over a month ago, after moving to Milwaukee. It sounded like a great opportunity at the time, and I thought I would have a head start there, since Aaron worked at this company a couple of years back and I had already met quite a few people that work there now through Aaron at various social gatherings.

Turns out that all the people that I had previously met through Aaron actually work at the main building, which is down the road from the building that I work in. Not a big deal, I thought to myself--I would just meet my coworkers at this building and it would work out just fine.

Wrong again. I sensed during my first week that I didn't fit in. The first thing I noticed was that everyone in the department is quite a bit younger than me. The second thing that I noticed was that there are very few wives or mothers in the department. These facts in and of themselves aren't a big deal, but when you add the fact that the department is an iron-clad clique that no one can break into, things become uncomfortable for this new girl.

My suspicions about my social status were soon confirmed. I decided to give things a shot and have lunch with some of the "girls" during my second week at work. The other girls were talking about hitting the clubs with their boyfriends and shopping all weekend long (things I never get to do anymore but really don't miss much anyway). I thought that maybe adding to the conversation by talking about shopping with my daughter the weekend before would be a good way to introduce the girls to my life and maybe pique some interest or forge a common bond. However, the mere mention of having a child halted the conversation in its tracks. I could just about hear the crickets chirping in the background.

And then there's the age factor. From what I have heard, most of the girls I work with are in their early 20's, and I am turning 30 in March. Not too many years separate us, but I happen to believe there is a huge difference between a 23-year-old and a 29-year-old, especially given some of the life experiences I have had over the past several years. In fact, my first day, I was training with a girl who graduated from my alma mater. She asked me what year I graduated, and when I told her, her exact words were, "You're old." I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from saying, "Well, you should lay off the cupcakes."

I've always been a little awkward, socially speaking. Back in high school I was the girl who was involved in everything, but chose to stick with just a couple of close friends or enjoy some solitude rather than hang out with tons of people. In college, I joined a sorority only to drop out a couple of months later because I felt like I didn't fit in. I'm finding that a lot of those feelings that I thought I had left back in my college days are surfacing again.

I guess the difference now is that I've grown into my own skin. I can look at the girls I work with and feel a twinge of rejection, but that's quickly replaced by one simple thought...It doesn't really matter to me. After all, it's just a job, and in the scheme of things, I probably won't forge long-term relationships with these people anyway. Yeah, it would be nice to be close to the people I spend a majority of my day with, but if I'm not, I guess that's ok. I get to come home to the people that really matter to me at the end of the day anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to figure out what I'm going to do when I grow up...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Long time no blog...

I have been neglecting this blog for quite some time, mostly because Aaron set up our wedding website and I have been posting on there, but also because I have just been too damn busy. So, I have decided that it's high time I start posting on here again because I love to write and honestly, I have been missing it.

Another reason I decided to start blogging again was that I have been noticing some things lately that are truly blog-worthy. And, since I'm sure Aaron needs a break from my rants every now and then, I suppose this is a good outlet for me.

So, the other day I had a truly crappy day at work, and I decided to leave a little early, get some gas, and get home to the people that make me happy. The lines at the gas station were long, as usual, and it seemed to me that half the pumps at this station were out of order. So, after waiting in line for at least five minutes (doesn't seem too long thinking about it now, but at the time, it seemed like an eternity), my turn at the pump finally came. Much to my dismay, some one else decided that it was their turn, too, and dove right in front of me and stole the pump. Then, instead of pumping gas and getting out of the way so I could take my turn, the guy gets out of his car and walks into the gas station, comes out with a slushie and assorted goodies, and drives away without putting a drop of gas in his car. Seriously. I sat in disbelief as he drove off, and apparently I sat there long enough that another patron saw his chance and pulled in next to the pump I had been waiting for. (It should be stated that at least this guy actually USED the pump, so the sting wasn't quite as bad.)

After I finally fueled up my car, I was frazzled and ready to just get home. But, as anyone that lives in Milwaukee knows, any commute through town is going to involve at least some sort of construction delay, and this day was no exception. I was mentally prepared for this, but I wasn't prepared for the guy who swerved into my lane while he was simultaneously talking on his cell phone and eating a Big Mac. I also wasn't prepared for the guy who tailgated me for half the commute and then flashed a rather inappropriate gesture in my direction when he finally passed me. (This dude had a Jesus fish on his car...the irony was not lost on me.)

I realize that I might be sounding a bit whiny, but one thing occurred to me once I got home. People are in such a rush that they don't take the time to be courteous. I can't stand that. If there is one thing I have learned in the past few years, it's that there is so much more to people than meets the eye. The guy in the car next to me could have just learned that his wife has cancer. The girl in the cube across the row from me might be grieving over a miscarriage. Yeah, I had just had a crappy day and things could have been much, much worse, but I was struck by how no one seemed to be thinking of anyone but themselves that afternoon. I think the world would be a much better place if people just stopped to think about others, and do something small, like let someone pass you on the highway or give up your spot in line.

Ok, I just realized that the battery on my laptop only has 15% of its life left, so I'm forced to close. Be back soon!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Wedding Stuff

So, for those of you that actually read this thing (hi Jenny, Angie, Dad, and sometimes Aaron), just wanted to let you know that Aaron set up a wedding website for our upcoming nuptuals. The website is

If you want wedding updates and other information, check it out. I posted our engagement story on that site, and will probably have some additional blog entries as well. Yay wedding!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Today, around 3:30pm, I turn 29. Up until this morning, I had been having kind of a hard time with the thought of celebrating the last birthday of my twenties, but when I woke up today, I felt differently about the whole thing. Actually, I’m pretty excited about life right now. First off, I got engaged last Saturday to a man that I know will make me truly, truly happy. So it’s very possible that there is a wedding coming up in my 29th year, and I’m ecstatic about that. And, Gracie has been doing well lately…she’s blossoming into an awesome little kid, and I am so blessed to be her mom. I can’t wait to watch her grow up and experience her life with her. Things have been rocky on the job front lately, but that’s ok. I will get it taken care of. Life is good, and it’s getting even better.

Happy birthday to me. And hooray for 29!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Current Events

I’m growing tired of all of the Anna Nicole Smith coverage. Normally I would chalk all of this media hype up to plain silliness, but it’s getting excessive. It seems that I can’t turn on the TV or the radio or pull up my normal news website without being bombarded with headlines about and images of her. It’s gotten to the point where I’m forming strong opinions about this whole circus. I think I’ll share…Might as well add fuel to the fire.

Ok, first of all, I actually feel sorry for Anna Nicole Smith. The day after Anna Nicole died, I flipped on the TV, only to see her mother bashing her and her lifestyle. Lady, your child, your flesh and blood, is dead. Show some respect, some grief. Yes, I’m sure Anna Nicole probably embarrassed her mother, and she probably put her mother through some tough times. Yeah, she was somewhat of a national joke, but she was still a person, and I would think that if anyone could, her own mother could muster up at least an appearance of grief. Instead, she went on national TV with her lazy, aloof Southern drawl and told the world how drugged up her daughter was. Sad.

And, yes, I’m sure Anna Nicole had a substance abuse problem. I watched her reality show enough to know she was no Einstein. But, she was a mother, and as a mother, I can’t help but feel so terribly sorry for her that she lost a child. I can’t imagine that pain that she must have been feeling, and I pray I never experience it. I’ve read stories about how Anna Nicole had nightmares that her son was stuck in Purgatory and how she tried to climb into his casket with him at his funeral. How awful. I truly believe that if my child died at my bedside, or died at all for that matter, it would only be a matter of time before I followed her to the grave.

So, yes, I feel sorry for her and for her tragic, short life. Now she’s stuck in some morgue waiting for a decision on where she will ultimately rest. What a mess. Hopefully at least she is with her son again and has found some type of peace.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on Britney Spears. Just one thing…Get yourself together. Get the help you need, and be a mother. Ok I’m done.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Long Week/Sweet Contentment

It has been a long week. It’s Friday afternoon and I’m feeling totally maxed out and drained and can only think of going home and relaxing in front of the TV with a nice glass of wine. (Yeah right, I have a 2 year old at home, who am I kidding?)

Surprisingly, the other feeling surfacing, other than exhaustion, is contentment. Yes, it’s been insane this week, but in a good way. Circumstances have been such at work that I have been needed to help out in other areas of the company where I normally don’t, and honestly, I’m loving it. One thing that bothered me about my past job with the paper company was that I didn’t get to use my Spanish skills a whole lot. Anyone that knows me well knows that Spanish, (the language, the cultures, the music, the food) is one of my passions. The language fascinates me and I spent years immersing myself in it, and when I was teaching it, I got to use it daily. Then, I took a job in Inside Sales and I didn’t use it nearly as much, and naturally, like any skill you don’t use on a regular basis, my ability to speak Spanish easily was starting to fade. I would jump at any opportunity I had to use my language skills, and those opportunities were few and far between. I often lamented at the fact that I had spent years honing my skills only to have them slip away.

Well, this week our company got slammed with tons of job openings at a company that works with Spanish speakers. As one of the few bilingual coordinators on staff here, I have had the opportunity to be a big participant in making calls to native Spanish-speakers to bring people in to work. At first, I had to think really hard to get through the phone calls I was making. The words were there, but the verb conjugations, the correct word tenses, and the noun/adjective agreement were rusty. My head was throbbing, and I told myself that it shouldn’t be this hard! Come on Sara! You were at the top of your class at language school in Mexico! I powered through it, though, and the calls started to get easier. Slowly, my confidence came back and it made me soooo happy to feel totally comfortable speaking Spanish again. Yeah, it’s probably a little cheesy, but I felt like I was regaining something that I had lost and had been missing. And, the really cool part is that Monday I get to spend the day at this company, so I’m going to get some face-to-face interaction with native Spanish speakers, rather than just communicating over the phone.

I like my job a lot even on the days when I’m not speaking Spanish, but the past few days I have felt that fulfillment career-wise that I have been really searching for and that I didn’t find at my last job. It’s a relief to know in my heart that I made the right decision to leave my former job and try my hand at something new. Ironically, the something new brought me back to something that has been around for quite some time.