Archive | December, 2013

merry christmas and happy new year

Many of you have seen these photos and words from our holiday card but I’m going to say it again…

As we stay goodbye to a heartbreaking year, not only will we remember our sweet Greg with eternal love but we will always remember how much our family and friends helped us through it all. Thank you for being here for our family during this difficult year. We love you.

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I’m going to take a little break from kissing glue since we’ll be traveling, partying and having over-tired tantrums in the next couple weeks. I’ll be back in early January.

Have a good time and take care of each other.




kissing: a series

Here is a series from Thanksgiving a few years ago. There were other people around to take photos of us but there was something intimate about just doing it ourselves. Where are our children? I have no idea. We were in our own little world!

Look away if you don’t like seeing other people kiss. Ha. :)

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Most days are good. Some days are not. Sunday was not. By the time the girls got to bed and I started thinking about how ugly the day had gotten, I was ashamed. One girl loses it, then another one does and then mama just joins in. It’s hard to turn things around once that happens.

I used to have more patience. Since I was (am) a stay at home mom, I felt good about the way I parented. I remember being able to hold it together during a kid crisis. And that used to be a huge part of who I was because I didn’t work another job. My kids were my only job and I was going to be good at being their mother, dammit. It’s depressing to see that part of me now compromised. Greg used to look to me and would even brag to other people about what a good mom I was. On these bad days, I can’t help feeling like I’m letting him down.

My kids don’t have a father anymore. And on top of that, their mom is losing it. Kind of a double whammy to them.

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Since Greg’s death, people treat us differently. Of course they do. I would too. I see it and it’s fine. Because this is what has happened to us and if people are more nice/attentive/caring/responsive/forgiving, then yes, that’s okay. What I’m having a hard time figuring out is if and how *I* am treating the girls differently. Our situation is constantly making me second-guess myself. I don’t think I’ve changed the way I parent but it’s hard to know since we’re at a completely different phase in life. I have never had a 5 year old and an almost 3 year old until right now. Who knows if I would do things how I am doing them if Greg was still here. But now not only does the fact that my girls are fatherless effect things, *I* am also in a completely different mindset. A double whammy to me as well.

The most upsetting thing to Greg about dying was that 1. He was going to be leaving us and 2. He wasn’t going to be here to help us through our pain. And that was the point, I guess. A double whammy for him too.


My mom gave me a counseling book when Greg was sick that had a chart including roles that family members assume when someone in the family is seriously ill. I don’t remember the wording exactly but Squirmy was the angel or the pleaser, I was the one who tried to do everything for everyone and was the forgotten one and Squeaky was the problem person. For those short months, there wasn’t much we could do about it. I am very aware of these ‘roles’ and I do not want to be the person who keeps these labels attached to my children. I sometimes secretly (and now not so secretly!) love it when my Squirmy does something out of character and is a little naughty. It makes things feel more balanced. And when I look at Squeaky who is so creative and silly and makes us all  laugh, I know that she isn’t a problem.


Today, things don’t seem as daunting. The last few days since Sunday have been good. Great, actually. We have all been getting good sleep and the few times there has been a kid crisis, Mama has been able to keep her cool. I’m hoping, as things heat up a bit with Christmas coming, traveling and getting everything done, I’ll be able to keep cool and stay cool. Deep breath.





What would you like for Christmas?

DSCN2248This year, I’m asking Santa for a little more patience.  I’ve been lacking it for awhile and now I feel like it’s becoming a bigger strain on my relationship with Squirmy and Squeaky. I’m going to try and ‘talk’ this one out through the blog so more later this week…

Have a good Monday.




cookie day 2013

Every year, I host a cookie exchange/crazy baking fest at the beginning of December. This year was something like my 11th year doing it! I started this tradition in my apartment in Plymouth, Minnesota where I lived with a boyfriend at the time. Hmmm, I’m hoping it was longer than 11 years ago. I’d much rather say that it’s been 15 years since I’ve been in that relationship because it’s a little embarrassing to look back on. Do you ever find yourself thankful that another year has gone by since you’ve made a mistake or done something that you’re not that proud of. Then, you can add that year to how much more mature you are, how much you’ve grown and how you were so silly back then and would never do anything like that now!? Ha. Ah well, it is what it is!

Anyway, last week I held my annual cookie day in my new hometown with some new faces. I love having get-togethers like this where friends from different phases of my life come together. And what a good feeling it is to be able to just pick up here – to throw a party in a new town and have friends show up!  To me, it’s such a simple yet completely meaningful act to just show up for a friend. So, thank you to everyone who could come!

Since my apartment is too small to do mass quantity baking in, I decided to just have the exchange. I did have everyone make a felt ornament (see Wednesday’s post) but that was all we had to do this year besides having a few drinks and laughing so loud I thought we’d get a knock on the door from an angry neighbor!



What kind of  holiday parties do you have? Ugly sweater parties? Caroling parties? Fancy cocktail parties? Not-so-fancy cocktail parties?  …and can I come? :)




three ornaments YOU can make

I really want to have the patience to do step-by-step instructions for things I’ve made, but I don’t. Plus, I usually just use someone else’s idea and they’ve already created a beautiful tutorial. Here is my attempt to show you how to make three very different ornaments.

First Ornament: Popsicle Stick Snowpeople

Last year, the girls and I made these snowpeople out of popsicle sticks, buttons, ribbon and felt. Here are my instructions to you: look at the picture and make some. Hee hee. I’m trying to think if there was anything I want to mention but I did use a glue gun for these. I don’t remember what kind of paint I used. And I used some fatter popsicle sticks for the moms and dads and some smaller ones for the kiddos because that’s what we had at the time.

The girls have to arrange them on the tree together in couples and families so they won’t be lonely. :)



Second Ornament: Nail Polish Glass Ornament

This one is really easy but it is stinky. I can’t stress enough to do this in a well-ventilated area. We did these with the windows open in the apartment, stuck them outside to dry and took off to let the apartment air out.

First, you’ll need some helpers…


Then, you’ll need some clear glass ornaments and old nail polish…


Take the metal hardware out of the ornament. Pour a little nail polish in and swoosh it around. Repeat with one or two more colors. Glitter nail polish looks great. Tip it over to dry and leave it somewhere where nobody will have to breathe the toxic air until they are good and dry…this may take several days to get rid of the smell. As you can see, I just chucked them out the back door of our apartment building. :)


Replace the hardware, tie on a ribbon or string and hang in your tree. Ooh and aaah that YOU made something so simple and clever.


Ornament Three: Felt Ornament

Each year, I have a cookie exchange party where we exchange cookies and we make and decorate a bazillion sugar cookies as well. This year, I just didn’t have the room in my apartment for baking so I nixed that part. But I had to do something else – I couldn’t just let these ladies sit around drinking cocktails and chatting! So I put them to work making themselves an ornament…while drinking cocktails and chatting!


Here is a tutorial for this one. Yes, hers is much prettier than the one I made. Mine looks shaggy. I will now go and give it a haircut.

Your tree wants you to make it something. Go do it and make an extra for a friend.



playlist from 2013

On Friday, I was making a million more rosemary butter cookies for my annual cookie day on Saturday (more about cookie day later this week). The girls were at a friend’s house and I was streaming a radio station from Madison that I really like (I haven’t found a radio station up north that I like yet – waah!). We have a Sonos system that Greg bought back in 2006 that I use to stream radio stations – I highly recommend it. We have access to our entire music library plus any streaming radio throughout our entire house/apartment.  Music is such a big part of our lives and we don’t have the TV on often so we have never regretted spending the money on it.

When I was alone making the cookies, I heard all three of these songs that I’m going to share with you. Sometimes, I don’t realize how much I’m effected by things until I’m away from the girls for a little while and can take a moment to pause. These songs are going to stick with me forever and they are always going to help me break down if I ever need to. I think they also help me remember thoughts and feelings from this year in a way that even pictures and videos cannot. I love them, even though they all make me cry, sometimes really hard. Here they are:

“Carry on” was played a lot when Greg first got sick and I felt like it was a personal calling for me/us to just keep going because that was all we could do.

I heard “Stay” for the first time as I was driving by myself late one night to the in-patient hospice unit to spend the night with Greg. He was getting so sick, so quickly and when I heard this I started to panic realizing he was going to be gone too soon. He wanted me to stay with him all the time and I struggled to spend the time I wanted to with him. There were so many things to take care of during that time, I just couldn’t do it all. I stayed with him when I could but there were times that I had to tell him no. There was also a part of me that wanted to plead with him to stay with me, to not die. That seems so silly. He couldn’t help it that he was dying and he already felt so bad knowing he was leaving us.

I’m sorry (or you’re welcome!) for the naked-y video of Rihanna.

“Gone, Gone, Gone” was played a lot this summer and Squirmy, Squeaky and I all love this song. The girls like to sing/yell, “Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating!” They like it turned up loud and I like it turned up loud because it gives me a chance to sing/yell while drowning out my sobbing.

“Gone, Gone, Gone” is also a good tune to make up your own lyrics (since it’ll be stuck in your head all day) while trying to get your kids to do things. “For you…for you…I made you this sandwich – can you please now eat it up?!” or “For you…for you…Squirmy’s going potty – can you please try to go next?”, etc.  I do this often, with lots of different songs. :)

Even before he got sick, Greg had a playlist for everything. But when he was stuck in bed, he spent even more time carefully choosing songs to listen to; songs from his past that were important to him and had effected him and helped him become the person he was. Things for me were going so fast that I just didn’t have time to pause and choose my own playlist. I just flicked on a radio station and my playlist was chosen for me as I rushed on to the next thing. And since these are the songs that were playing, these are the songs I’m going to remember.




holiday traditions

I love traditions. Some of my best childhood memories are from our family traditions and I want to continue them for my children. We also have traditions from Greg’s family. And since Greg was Jewish, his holiday traditions are a lot different than what I grew up with.

Last week and this week, we are celebrating Chanukah.


I pulled out our menorah, the dreidels (tops) and bought some gelt (chocolate coins) for the girls. I looked up what I was supposed to say online and found this. I kind of remember from watching and listening to Greg so this year I have been lighting the menorah myself each night while the girls watch. I think I may have lit them backwards. Someday I’ll get it right. I’m just learning!



I got the girls a couple little gifts and they exchanged gifts with their cousins over the weekend, played and went swimming together at our hotel. One of the best moments of the weekend was watching Squeaky walk down the hotel hallway holding hands with her big boy cousin who is 9 years old.

For a half second, I thought of stopping our Chanukah traditions because this was Greg’s contribution and I felt a little like a fraud. But really, how could I just stop? It’s another way for us to honor Greg and a wonderful reminder of his, and now OUR family history. And when we light our little menorah, we can remember Daddy lighting the same one. And I can feel Greg watching me, possibly laughing at my Hebrew pronunciation, but I know it would make him happy.

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My dad (Papa to the girls) and Cathy battled a snowstorm to be here for an overnight this week to help us set up our Christmas tree. My dad has gone with Greg and I to get a tree for many years and this is something we do every year soon after Thanksgiving.


Last night as I sat at the dinner table chatting with the girls, I watched the menorah candles flicker in the kitchen and the Christmas tree lights twinkle in the living room. Our traditions.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and everything in between.



P.S. Did you know that Fiddler on the Roof has been my favorite musical since I was a kid? It’s true. Here’s a bit from the movie. Enjoy!



This weekend we spent a night visiting Greg’s family in Illinois to celebrate Chanukah. A few minutes after walking in the door, my sister-in-law asked me what I’d like to drink and listed off a ginger mixed drink as an option. Then, she handed me a glass of deliciousness. I don’t usually have mixed drinks (especially a bourbon mixed drink!) and probably would have passed on it for a glass of wine had it not been for the ginger. I felt a need to try it…for Greg.

Greg loved ginger. He gobbled up those sushi ginger slices. He nibbled on candied ginger for dessert. He juiced a chunk of fresh ginger every morning in is fruit/veggie juice. He added fresh chopped ginger to his famous chili. He even liked girls with ginger hair. Tee hee.

I will be serving this gingery drink all holiday season!

3/4 C light apple juice (low sugar)
1/3 C honey bourbon (Jim Beam)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sliced fresh ginger (muddled)

Thanks for the recipe, J!

Greg would have loved this drink too, but I’m guessing he would have added more ginger.





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