Don’t wake me if I’m dreaming

24 hours? I better take a nap[Taps on microphone] Hello? Is this thing on?

Hey, everyone. I decided it’s finally time I see if I can give this blogging thing another go. It’s been so long now I’m not sure I even remember how. They say getting back into writing is like riding a bike — you can pick it right back up no matter how long it’s been. However, I don’t currently own a bike and I still have a scar on my right knee from when I wrecked my Daisy Duster in the ’80s, so that analogy isn’t making me feel any too confident.

Why start blogging again? Why today? Well, the truth is, I had a dream this morning and I thought of you.

Some people have dreams that are so good, they are disappointed when they wake up. They try to hurry back to sleep to see if they can pick up where they left off.

I am not one of those people.

I have a history of bad dreaming. When I was young, I had several recurring dreams. One involved Dracula living in the back of our closet. Another involved my dad crashing down a hill in our old Winnebago and his head falling off. I don’t think it takes a Psychology degree to attribute these dreams to my then-undiagnosed anxiety.

My recurring dream these days is that I am trying to drive, but I can only see a tiny bit, like I’m squinting my eyes, and I’m fighting to keep the vehicle on the road. Again — can you say anxiety?

So I never drift off to sleep with high expectations of what wonderful stories or scenarios the night will bring. But this morning, I awoke and thought, “Really? It’s come to this?”

My entire dream consisted of me cleaning up poop.

Poop was everywhere, and it was the kind that broke apart easily into little poop nuggets (Yes, my dream was that specific), so every time I tried to pick it up with paper towels, it multiplied into more little pieces of poop crumbs and fell out all over the floor.

This is what my life has become. A poop dream.

I’m sure a psychologist would have a heyday analyzing this.

So, where do you come in to this appetizing story? Well, after my first “Did I just have a poop dream?” thought, my second thought was of you.

I wanted to tell you. Who else would better appreciate it?

So in essence, a poop dream brought us back together.

That’s some good sh*t.




photo by: mike@bensalem

Catching (and throwing) up

Catching (and throwing) upWell, friends, I figured now is as good a time as any to slink back to my blog, blushing and apologizing profusely for my interupptus unexpectedi (I’m sure that’s real Latin).

Let’s see…I just picked up Boy #3 from school, the fourth member of our household to catch the most violent vomiticious virus we’ve ever had, my house literally looks like a pack of raccoons lives here AND I turn 41 on Sunday. Yep, now’s as good a time as any…

Starting with the vomiting, which I’m sure, after not hearing from me for several months, is what you are DYING to read about. But, hey, that’s how I roll, and you knew this entering into the relationship. You’ve been warned.

So, the vomiting. Well, it all started last weekend with Boy #2. Poor guy was fine one minute and then filling a bowl with what felt like 10 pounds of his innards the next minute. I. kid. you. not. And there wasn’t even anything watery about it. That stuff was dense, I tell you!

A few days later, I was the lucky victim. It came on fast and furious. And if hovering over your toilet wasn’t humiliating enough, I got to experience it with the added touch of peeing my pants as well. Twice. I should’ve seen it coming. If I have to now cross my legs and pray when I sneeze, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that having my abdominal region go into convulsions before violently erupting should cause some significant bladder leakage as well. After the first time, I was so desperate and sick, I just grabbed a pair of ABW (already-been-worn) underwear and pants from the bathroom floor and didn’t even realize until hours later that I had them on backwards. Bonus.

Last night, Husband jumped out of bed and bolted into the bathroom, where he made it to the toilet — almost. Well, the sink, anyway. Thankfully, he “cleaned it out” before I got in there this morning — almost. Nothing like brushing your teeth and spitting into the sink, where you notice remnants of your significant other’s upchucked asparagus, to make you feel fresh-breathed and ready to start your day. And now this afternoon I had to fetch Boy #3 from the school nurse. He has not yet thrown up, but every time I look at him all I can see is a ticking time bomb. Filled with asparagus.

Now on to my house…what can I say? It was already getting pretty out of control before the virus struck, and it’s been downhill fast since then. It doesn’t help that Husband spilled an entire bowl of Campbell’s Chunky Chili down himself and on the living room carpet several days ago (Yes, we dine in front of the TV like all good families do). I’m just waiting for the crew of “Hoarders” to start filming anytime. Maybe then we’ll find Mrs. Mouse, the dwarf hamster who escaped from her cage several weeks ago. (Never a dull moment. Ever.)

On to the birthday. Well, nothing much to say there. At least 40 was a kind of milestone and usually results in someone treating you extra special because it’s one of those “ends in ‘0’” days. This year, 41 just seems, well, old and dull. What do 41-year-olds even do on their birthdays? Ugh. I’m pretty sure I’ll spend at least part of the day trying to catch up on laundry (*insert BIG laugh here*) and maybe will treat myself to a big cup of Metamucil later. Ooh, since it’s on a Sunday this year, maybe the boys will actually let me steal the remote so I can watch CBS Sunday Morning! Wow, I really am old.

If you made it through this post without losing your lunch, congratulations and thank you. Sorry my first post in several months is about puke, pee and poor housework, but if you can’t keep it real on your own blog, where can you?

photo by: Ү

The disappearing little boy

They just refuse to stay little.

I knew it was coming. Boy #3 turned 8 in August and even though he’s just in the 2nd grade, he is transforming from little boy to plain ol’ boy right before my eyes.

Darn him.

It started with him talking about a girl he likes. Okay, I know some boys have girlfriends as soon as they walk through the preschool doors, but Boy #3 has never EVER mentioned girls in that context, which I was more than okay with; I’m surrounded by enough testosterone in this house as it is. But a few weeks ago he got into the van after school, and I could tell that something was up. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me, “I have a crush.”

The words that melt and break a mom’s heart, all in the same instant.

Not understanding why this would make him sad, I probed further. Apparently, rumor had it that Crush had kissed one of Boy #3’s friends one day in the friend’s treehouse! And apparently Boy #3 did not have much experience about how fickle these second-grade romances can be, as evidenced by his next statement:

“Now I’ll NEVER get married!!”

I still don’t think he’s over that one, although Crush has since been playing football with Boy #3 at recess and calling him “Nicki Minaj,” which is apparently hilarious if you’re 8 and is obviously her way of flirting with him. And even though I’m sooo not ready to delve into the trials and tribulations of primary-grade romances, I was encouraged when Boy #2 asked him if Crush was beautiful, and Boy #3 said, “No. She’s not beautiful. She’s nice and funny, and I guess she’s cute.” So far, he’s got his priorities straight, I’ll give him that!

So after realizing that Boy #3 was starting to break out of his “little boy” shell (and dreading it), my heart broke a little bit more this morning. Let me preface this by saying that Boy #3 has not shown much interest in sports yet, which we are fine with. He pretty much walked behind all of his teammates in soccer, visited with whoever would talk to him on the baseball diamond and at wrestling club — he lay on the mat and refused to get up. (This was especially awesome since his dad was the coach.) He’d rather make-believe he was fighting monsters or evil ninjas than obey the rules of sports, and we wanted him to be able to stay a little boy as long as he could.

But yesterday morning, I saw my little boy grow up some more. He asked me to turn on the TV while he ate breakfast (in the living room, of course, because I’m THAT kind of mom), so I pressed the power button the 12 buttons on 3 different remotes to turn on the TV, receiver and satellite. Husband and Boy #2 had stayed up watching football the previous night, so ESPN was still on. As I got ready to change the channel to Cartoon Network for “Ninjago” or “Pokemon,” I heard these words come out of Boy #3’s mouth:

“Wait, Mom, leave it on Sports Center.”

And just like that, my little boy is no more.


Kids write the darndest things

I love this kid.

This week his second grade teacher sent home a journal entry he wrote so we could read it. The kids were supposed to finish the prompt: “The best gift I ever received was…” Here’s what what was scrawled in his sloppy handwriting:

My mom and dad were the best gift I have ever received and I know it. I love my mom and dad so much that I don’t think any gift is better than them. Also food. I need food and water to live because I can die of hunger and thirst too.

Seriously, what parent doesn’t want to read that? I nearly cried, and I think Husband teared up a bit too.

What makes it even better is that last week I was called in by his teacher to read some other examples of his writing. The assignment was to use his spelling words to write original sentences. And they definitely were original… Here’s one of our favorites:

I have the notion that you will never get married, grow old, and die alone.

Of the other nine sentences, seven were just as lighthearted as this one.


When we asked him about the sentences, his response was, “I can’t think of anything else to write!” (He soon learned that he could think of other things to write about besides someone being pushed into the ocean, maimed in a fight or dying alone as Husband and I made him write new sentences. Imagine that!)

So for now, I am thankful that my son is capable of writing something sweet as well as something disturbing. My anxiety levels have dropped and I am hoping that soon my recurring nightmare that I am raising Dexter will subside.

(So even though I would still love you even if you did grow up to be a serial killer, Boy #3, I really hope you choose to use your powers for good, not evil.)

Move over Honey Boo Boo

This morning I was checking my email when I came across an email from Lisa Leonard Designs announcing that Lisa and her family will be the subject of a new reality TV show, “Life By Design.” If you don’t know who Lisa Leonard is, you must take a moment and click over to her site. She is an amazing artist and blogger who creates incredible jewelry and photography, and her life story, faith and outlook are just as inspiring as her necklaces and bracelets. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Lisa (although I’m pretty sure I did not make as a distinct impression on her as she made on me!), and she is charming, gracious and kind.

So this got me to thinking…if someone were to make my life into a reality TV show, what would people see? Watching the trailer for Lisa’s show, I saw she and her husband working together at home and at work, and I saw an incredibly calm and patient Lisa interacting with her two boys. If a production company were to pluck down a camera crew in our house, would the result be inspiring, like Lisa’s show, or train-wreck horrifying, like, say, Honey Boo Boo’s?

I’m really afraid to think what the answer would be.

Taking the past few days as a small slice of our life, here’s what a typical episode would include.

Paula and Husband spent two chilly evenings and one frigid morning watching their sons play football and soccer. During the soccer game, they were heard to be cheering for the clock to run faster and for their son to run at all, as he prefers to just follow slowly behind the rest of the team so he doesn’t accidentally get kicked in a fight for the ball.

Paula made two trips to the local archery shop to the dismay of the shop owner, who undoubtedly wanted to pull his hair out when she kept calling the arrows “bows.” Husband reinforced his own hunting prowess when he asked Boy #1 what he was going to do with the deer once he “caught it” (with a lasso, maybe?). Boy #1 promised Paula that he would someday shoot her a wild turkey so she could get it stuffed and mounted on a big tree branch to hang in their living room, just like the one they saw at the archery shop. Paula hopes he realized she was kidding.

Unexpected company prompted Paula to secretly die inside when her sister-in-law came inside her home to see the boys, two of whom were, of course, still in their underwear, and the dog, who had just peed on Boy #3’s coat that was, of course, laying on the floor, along with about 15 loads-worth of dirty laundry that had been moved from the bedrooms and was now piled up in the hallway for public display.

Paula came home from a scrapbooking event to find the boys had actually picked up a few things (but curiously left a pair of dirty underwear in plain sight) and that Husband, despite not having gotten the kitchen cleaned up from the last few meals, had baked an apple pie. From scratch. Yes, even the crust. Paula ate one piece. Then she ate Boy #2’s piece that he had left on the counter. Then for breakfast the next morning, she ate another piece. (She forgave him for not cleaning up afterward.) Later Paula and Husband ignored the dishes and laundry and opted instead to veg out in front of the DVR, watching two episodes of “Person of Interest” and the series premiere of “Elementary” (Go CBS!).

Other highlights of the episode include Paula finding a petrified Hot Pocket in a cup on her dresser and Boy #2 sending the following text to her at bowling: “So I’m guessing if the French bread is green, I shouldn’t eat it?”

I’m pretty much convinced that our reality show would be a cross between Hoarders and Honey Boo Boo.

Athough, after reading that Honey Boo Boo’s family now makes up to $20,000 per episode, I could probably learn to live with that.

Our perfectly imperfect themed birthday party

I have a thing for themes.

Any kind of theme, really. I love pulling things together into a fun package. I loved it as a H.S. Language Arts teacher, I love it as a curator of features like Handmade in Iowa for the Des Moines Register, and I love it as a mom.

In fact, sometimes I get so carried away with planning themes that I neglect everything else, like personal hygiene or cleaning my house. I’m pretty sure there’s a mental disorder with my name on it.

So when it came to Boy #3’s birthday party, I knew I wanted to go with a theme. My sister and I decided to do a joint birthday party for her son and mine since they’re both in the same grade (although a year apart in age), and since we were both belated in our planning (one’s birthday was July and one’s mid-August). Better late than never, right? (Just don’t ask a 8-year-old that…)

Both boys are really into LEGO Ninjago right now, so I decided to run with that. I Googled and Pinned until my fingers bled, finding some incredible ninja-related party ideas and some REALLY elaborate parties. All I can say is WOW.

And WOW again.

This kid’s party is more professional-looking than my wedding was! I totally admire all of the work and creativity that went into putting together this themed party, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend the money nor time that this party probably cost (Hello, new screens, tables and floor pillows??), and since I’m living in the middle of Iowa and not Hollywood, I figured no one would expect me to.

So, my sister and I put together a very imperfect party for our boys, and it turned out good enough. In fact, Boy #3 told me after the party, “I didn’t know you were going to make it so fun!” As if I would, instead, make them do “un-fun” things, like play “I Spy a Toilet That Needs Cleaning” or “CNN Headline News BINGO.”

We made the brilliant decision to rent a building that our friends own for the party. There is a kitchen, a smaller room with tables and chairs and a HUGE open gym, perfect for boys because there was not much in there they could damage or destroy. PLUS, I didn’t have to worry about planning the party AND getting my house clean, and if you would’ve seen my house before we left for the party, you would understand why — it looked like a Nobbies had exploded.

When the boys arrived, they were each given a headband with their name on it. My sister made these and they looked awesome. The font was a perfect “ninja” font, and the boys loved wearing them. Then we did “The Ninja Walk,” which was a variation of a “cake walk” or “book walk.” They had to walk in a circle and were supposed to walk stealthily like a ninja while the music played. Ah, yes, the music. Well, I thought I had downloaded the theme song to the “Ninjago” cartoon onto my computer, but when I went to set it up at the building, I couldn’t find it. And unfortunately, I had lost all of my songs on iTunes several months ago when my hard drive was rebuilt. I had literally ONE song on iTunes — “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. (Yeah, don’t ask.) So the ninjas discoed around the circle instead of ninja-walked, and when the music stopped, Husband called out a number, and whoever was standing on the number got a prize.

While half of the kids did the Ninja Walk, the other half made a Ninja scroll. I downloaded the word “Ninja” written in Japanese Kanji and showed the kids. Well, I’m trusting the Kanji meant “Ninja.” For all I know it really said “llama turds” or “bite me.” But since I don’t think any of the parents can read Kanji either, I think I’m safe. I had scrolls already made up, using two 10-inch dowels I found in the cake decorating section of Wal-Mart and tracing paper (which is much thinner than computer paper). We watered down some black paint to look like ink and gave each kid a paintbrush and had them try to copy the Kanji on their scroll. They really enjoyed this, and some of them just did their own thing with it, which is totally cool.

We also had each boy stand in front of a photo booth with their choice of prop to hold. I literally copied these from someone else’s blog, printed them out and glued them to a cereal box to make them sturdy. I hung up red wrapping paper as a backdrop, but of course I hung it way too high for the kids. Oh well… They still looked cute.

Next, we gave each kid a weapon. (You’re welcome, parents!) My sister made Ninja swords by spray-painting paint sticks silver and then covering the bottom of the sword, or the handle, in black electrical tape. They looked really cute and proved to be very effective as well! I wish I would’ve gotten a “before” picture of the Ninja Training Center because once we turned them loose, it was destroyed in about 2.4 seconds! We had blown up quite a few balloons with helium, tied ribbon around them and taped them to the floor so the balloons were about head-high to the kids. They were supposed to “spar” with the balloons, but apparently wooden sticks and balloons are not very good friends, and the game became “see how fast we can pop all of the balloons.” Some balloons escaped to the ceiling, and then the swords starting FLYING to try to hit the balloons. I was envisioning having to take a Ninja to the ER with a sword in the eye, but luckily no one was injured during this game. When we saw that boys were started to STAB with the swords, we quickly collected them until the kids went home (Again, parents, you’re welcome!) and moved on to food.

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a store-made cake when I knew the boys would probably take one bite and then run off to play, so I attempted to face my culinary fears and create my own. Fortunately, frosting can cover a lot of mistakes, including the cake breaking into pieces. Of course, I copied these cakes off someone’s Pinterest board, although mine were very sad adaptations of theirs.

A green ninja…

And a blue ninja…

Even though I used the same cake mix for both, the green cake was about 4 inches taller than the blue cake. I can’t tell you how much food dye I went through to get the blue frosting that color, which I was cursing myself for as I cleaned up bright blue dog vomit off my carpet the next morning.

I decided to also try making “sushi” out of Rice Krispie treats, Swedish fish gummy candy and Fruit Roll-Ups. I am embarrassed to admit that I cannot for the life of me make Rice Krispie treats, which I think is a prerequisite to joining the “Good Mom Club.” Everyone and their dog can make Rice Krispie treats — except me. They never turn out right, either so gooey that you cannot dislodge them from your fingers no matter how much you shake them, or so crumbly that you can’t even cut them into squares — you just have to take a spoon and eat them out of the pan. So not trusting myself to make these, I cheated and bought Rice Krispie treats, except not even REAL Rice Krispie treats, the cheap Little Debbie version of them. They were about $2 cheaper per box! I figured the kids would just inhale and then run off to play, so I hoped they wouldn’t notice the difference.

And finally for the food, I wanted to just give out fortune cookies and then decided to dip them in chocolate almond bark …

… which then looked exactly like goat hooves. I’m not kidding. One of the boys even asked, “Why did you make goat hooves?”

I was too cheap to buy Gatorade for the kids, so I just bought bottled water and downloaded some Ninjago water bottle labels from another more-talented mom blogger than me. Boy #2 helped out by presenting each Ninja with his “element,” depending on the color of the Ninjago character on the bottle. They seemed way impressed and excited, which was funny. Hey, dudes, it’s just water!

Afterward we opened presents and apparently my camera was hijacked for a while by a little person because as I uploaded photos, I saw a bunch of photos like close-ups of presents, the door and other photos I hadn’t remembered taking. But this photo, taken by the Anonymous Ninja, was perfect! I love how it’s at eye-level with Nephew and completely captured his mood at the party!

After the party, we made Husband and Brother-in-Law pose for a photo. I’m not quite sure about their Ninja moves…

So of course, Sister and I had to show off Ninja moves of our own.

After which, Sister said that it’s obvious we’re related as both of our first instinct for a Ninja move was to hike up our knee, which I’m not even sure looks anything like a Ninja. (If you’ve heard us both talk, you’ll know that we sound exactly alike, too, so apparently we share more than just the “Ninja” gene.)

Overall, it was a fun party, and I think the fact that it wasn’t polished and perfect made it even more memorable. After all, imperfection is my middle name. Boy #3 is already planning his theme for his 9th birthday party. I think I may try to not wait until the morning of the party to make all the food and decorations next year, though. Yeah, right…

Want to see where I got my ideas? Check out my Ninjago Birthday Party Ideas Board on Pinterest. And if you can’t find something there that I’ve written about, leave a comment and I will get you the link!


There, and here: A perspective on suburbs vs. small towns

It’s nearly been a year since moving from suburbia to small-town Iowa. It’s incredible how different life can be only 45 minutes away, especially considering we went from one of the wealthiest cities in the state to one of the poorest counties. Overall, we’re loving the slower pace of life and the stronger sense of community we feel here. We also think it’s important for our kids to grow up in a place where not everyone has everything they want and need.

We moved from a four-bedroom home that we custom built in a newer neighborhood to a three-bedroom 1960s ranch right across from a development of squeezed-together townhomes that I’m pretty sure are run by a slumlord and apartments that don’t always attract the kind of folks you want to invite over for a barbecue. Don’t get me wrong — we love our home and will love it even more when we can afford to update some rooms and finish the basement. But it was quite a change from there to here.

For instance, I used to stress out in our last house because we couldn’t afford to hire a lawn-care company or fertilize and water as much as many of our neighbors. I know our next-door neighbors with the perfectly manicured lawn LOVED it when our dandelion seeds blew into their yard and our creeping charlie crept on over their property line. But here? Well, considering just down the street there are several abandoned homes/meth labs, one of which has its windows broken out with the filthy, faded curtains still blowing in the wind, I don’t get too worried when our grass gets a little too long. We have all of our windows intact, so we are still lookin’ good.

In the suburbs, most people keep their drama confined to indoors. In the 10 years we lived there, I came to realize that some people put on a good show but then live ugly lives when no one’s looking. But we’re finding that in our new neighborhood, people aren’t much for putting on airs. Maybe it’s because the townhomes and apartments are so small that drama often gets played out in public. We’re not startled quite so much now when we hear curse words flying through the air from a nearby driveway or yard. And the cops have made our street part of their regular route. (I’ve only called them once!) My favorite was when an elementary-aged girl and her little brother were getting cussed out by their middle school-aged sister because they wanted her to take them to church. I later learned she has the F-word carved into her forearm. Classy.

Another fascinating difference I’ve noticed between there and here involves bicycles. In suburbia, cycling is a hugely popular recreational activity, with miles and miles of beautiful trails constructed and completed just within the past few years. It was impossible to drive through the city without seeing at least a dozen serious cyclists training for the next road race or just getting exercise with their expensive recumbent bike. Families, all donning their properly fitting bike helmets could be spotted nearly everywhere each evening or summer day, happily riding to the library or just tootling along to spend some quality time together.

That was there. But here? Yes, we see many bicycles, too. However, in many cases, the function of the bicycle has shifted from recreational to transportational. Sure, there are still kids riding bikes (although helmets are rare), and we have seen actual families riding together on an occasion or two. But for the most part, if you’re an adult riding a bike in town, it’s because either you don’t have a license or you don’t have a car. Usually it’s the jeans and cowboy boots that give it away. Not really popular biking attire. Or, in the instance of a man I saw last week, it’s the case of Michelob he is balancing on his hip. You don’t see that much on the Tour de France.

And although we did have a strolling guitar-playing gypsy spotted several different times in our last neighborhood, we did not live near a cross-dressing man who wears a tiara on his balding head and rides a little girl’s bike with pink tassels hanging from the handlebars. That’s something reserved for small-town residents, and something that we just accept (after the initial shock wears off).

The sounds here are different, too. There, we were right off a major road, so the noises of traffic were part of our daily soundtrack. Here, besides the intermittent fighting and cussing, we hear many more birds and animals, including a woodpecker that lives in one of our trees and coyotes that howl at the moon and the passing trains at night. One morning not too long ago I began to hear the sound of a rooster crowing. Kind of charming, in its own way. I figured that since we live on the edge of town, we must be able to hear it cock-a-doodle-dooing from one of the nearby farms a mile or so away. That is, until I took our Boston Terrier for a walk last week and saw the barnyard bird in someone’s backyard in the middle of town. No other animals, just the rooster. I wonder if the adjacent neighbors even have to set an alarm clock?

Even though life is more laid-back here, it’s never really dull. There’s always some interesting development if you just walk down the street or take a quick drive to the post office. I’m not trying to put down life in the suburbs at all. I did it for 10+ years and made great friends and memories. But I do believe it’s not for everyone. For some people, small towns are the only place you truly feel you’re “home,” roosters, booze-toting bicyclists and all.





When it’s hard NOT to write

Some say writing is hard. But sometimes not writing is even harder.

As I look back at the past year’s posts, I’m ashamed at how few there are. And as worn out those “sorry I haven’t posted lately” posts can be, I do feel compelled to reflect a little on my negligence.

When you’re a writer, you are intrinsically driven to share. And anyone who knows me personally knows I’m a sharer. Sometimes I share WAY more than a person cares to know about me, but I can’t help it. I put it all out there and allow people to make their own judgment about whether I’m refreshingly open or downright annoying.

When I started my blog, I loved having a place to share my family’s foibles, as well as my feelings and frustrations. And as I started receiving feedback from readers, we developed a weird kind of collective friendship, and I wanted to tell you even more. I wanted to stay up all night, eat graham crackers dipped in a can of frosting while “Friday Night Videos” blared from the TV, and tell each other everything.  I didn’t want to hold back; I wanted to be totally transparent. After all, that’s what friends do.

But I knew I couldn’t tell all. This weird collective friendship included some of you I’ve never met in real life and others I’ve known nearly all my life. And while I’m the type of person who isn’t bothered much by what people think of me, it isn’t just about me. I have three boys and a husband, as well as family and friends, and what goes on in my life involves — and affects — all of them. My story is not just my story to tell. And that’s become really hard.

With Boy #1 being in high school now, and Boys #2 and #3 being fifth and second graders, I have to be incredibly conscientious about what I share and think about how they will feel about it if people they know read it. And I would never want to say anything that would make my husband embarrassed or uncomfortable (although I’m sure I’ve done this more than once).

Over the past year and a half, we have gone through so many changes. Let’s see…I lost my job while my husband was on a month-long trip to Poland, we downsized and moved from a large new home in the suburbs to a smaller 1950s ranch in our small hometown, the boys had to adjust to new friends and a new school, I turned 40 (of course, without having lost the weight I’d wanted to)…and those are just a few of life’s recent stressors. We’ve also dealt with issues that I can’t write about right now, to be fair to my family. For someone like me to not share such big things in my life, it feels inauthentic. Fake.

Cue the anxiety.

Writing became something I dreaded because everything I tried to write just seemed trite or forced. It wasn’t what I really wanted to tell you all, so I did what I do best when my anxiety gets the best of me — I avoided. I avoided for a long stinkin’ time.

But lately I’ve found myself running across quotes about writing from all different sources, and one theme has seemed consistently highlighted, just for me.

To be a writer, you have to write.

That’s it. You have to write. Whether you feel like it or not, whether or not you know what to write about — you have to write. Every day, no excuses, no avoidance. And I figure now that I’m officially calling myself “a writer,” partly because that’s what I want to be and partly because I don’t want to have to find another job, I should probably follow that advice. I have to write.

So I am officially recommitting myself to this blog and to my career as a writer. I figure if I have the nerve to publish this post, I’m going to look pretty stupid if I don’t post again for another two months, so in that way you’re all holding me accountable. (Thank you very much.) And although I can’t say everything I want to say at this point in my life, I know the time will come when the stories can be told. It would be nice if I still had an audience left to read it when that happens. Until then, I will share what I can in ways that I hope you’ll find interesting and entertaining. Just know that when I do have to hold back, it’s nothing personal, friend.