Where Whine Meets Wine

Why My Daughter Doesn’t Have a Mirror In Her Room

Have you ever been in a house so filled with mirrors that after you leave, you’re thinking, Man, I’ve seen enough of myself for a really long time… Maybe I’m the only one. I’m guessing not. I just do not like mirrors. I mean, I like that they can shine light throughout places where there is no natural light. And that I can see if I’ve got my head screwed on straight or not. Obviously, they have their place.

Maybe it’s in part the fact that I am not someone who checks the reflection before running out of the house. If I happened to consider whether or not I’ve done my hair today, I just grab a hat. (I’m not knocking women who take the time before they leave the house, it’s just not the way I am wired.) Messy shirt? Grab a sweatshirt! Are you starting to get the picture?


Now, there is my daughter. She is beautiful. Curly auburn hair with eyes that match. Spunky and oh, so cute. And I have this super cute mirror that I have been dying to paint and put in her room. One that I had in my room growing up. One that came from a beloved Grandma. BUT… I just don’t wanna put a mirror in her room. Not because I’m afraid she’ll be vain. If she wants to put on every single princess dress and prance in front of a mirror- I’m good. Know what I’m not good with? The way she stands on the couch and smiles her big toothy, yet toothless grin and painstakingly takes stock on how many more teeth is she going to loose, how long will there be an empty spot, and what if they don’t come in perfectly straight?! Now I’m not sure where my 7 year old got that notion from, that her smile looks funny. But it’s there, in her pretty little head. And I just think that there is so much more to her then whether every tooth is exactly straight. And I want her to know that there are things that are SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT. Like most things.

After a brief chat about her standing there, staring at her teeth, I wrote her this note:


It is easy to get wrapped up in being pretty. Today, let’s focus on being pretty KIND, pretty FUNNY, pretty SMART, and pretty STRONG. That would be pretty AMAZING.

I’m hoping she takes note. Because she is kind (if she thinks I’m stressed she’ll leave her play and help me, no questions asked), and funny (and sarcastic), and smart (as a whip), and strong (she can probably do more chin ups than you can), and amazing, and beautiful. But I don’t think that just pretty should be the word that describes her. And the words that do, well, you might not find them in the mirror.

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Life Through a Filter

You know all of those people on Facebook with the perfect lives? The picture perfect house, the made up face and well coiffed hair, the angelic children…c’mon, you know those people. In fact, maybe you are one of those people. Maybe I am too. Well, you know, on Facebook. Well, except for the made up face and well coiffed hair. While I do try to post things that are honest, true to who I am, and true to who my family is… sometimes Facebook only gets life through a filter. A really good one. And we’ve all ready the post circulating the ‘Book Land, about how we shouldn’t do that for the sake of every one else who is comparing their lives to yours. Well….

There are two sides of this coin. One side can be almost a deception, where we do it to purposely make other people think we have our ducks in a row. Or because we’re trying to hide whatever major life struggle we’re going through at that moment. The flip side of that is that we can post “the best” and have it be what we strive for, or a reminder of how things can be. On days when I find myself trying to hide my struggle, I also look at those snippets of life, that one moment when I thought, Good grief am I thankful for these beautiful, sweet children! I cannot believe how blessed my life is! Even if that moment was followed by a meltdown or yelling or any of the things that follow when sweet moments unravel into tears. But I can go back, and look at that photo and remember why I posted that picture that made it look like my kids are beautiful, perfect angels.

Life is beautiful, but it’s also messy and complicated, and hard and sad. And I like to document those moments too, and *gasp* even post them on Facebook. In the last year we’ve moved, we’ve had dear friends move, we’ve had family go their separate ways, we’ve realized we have two boys who are ASD/SPD and are now trudging through the unfamiliar waters of making sure they get the help they need and learning just what that means. None of these things are life ending, but they have been life altering. There are days when I get out of my pajamas just in time for my husband to come home from work. Or when the puppy has chewed through my internet cord again, even though I’ve already had to replace it twice. (It seems New Puppy would prefer I not have internet access.) I like to keep things honest, so there are words and photos that show the harder side of life, but just like I choose to look at life in a glass half full kind of way, I tend to do my Facebook posts in the same manner.

If we focus on the hard, everything seems hard. I’ve chosen to post things that serve to give me reminders to why I chose this life. Why I choose this life over and over again. Because there is always times when I look at my life and my family and think, “This is perfect.” So that when I have moments of imperfection, I can just pull up that picture where they’re studiously doing their school work and my kitchen was clean. It helps me handle the times when school work takes fooorrreeever and there’s a mountain of dirty dishes. There are always going to be people who put on a show and only post the good side and act like there isn’t a hard side. There’s people in real life that do the same thing, it’s really not that different. So while I readily admit that there is a hard side, I have chosen to not let it be my focus.

I know full well it is so easy for admiring the perfect world of anyone else to turn into a jealousy, or even self contempt. I know that there are humans out there that are boastful and disingenuous, who seem to aspire to deceive us about what their life is really like. It’s a slippery slope to let someone else’s photos and life make us feel less than worthy.  But it turns out, I am in charge of my own self. I am an imperfect parent. I am an imperfect wife. I am an imperfect person. But I am also a person who tries very hard to give the best of myself to my family, my friends, my clients, and even humans in general. And part of doing that is reminding myself of why I work hard at (some days I work very, very hard) putting my best self forward. Comparing my life with anyone else does me no favors. And I’ve learned where the unfollow button is. I’m going to be honest here, I am going to continue posting things with my filter on.

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Mommy Poppins

Look, I know that there are always going to be fads, and that diets are no exception. Kale is a phenom today and tomorrow it might be dandelions. I get it. Fads happen, people grab on for reasons from wanting to be healthy to just liking to stay part of the crowd. Or worse, to be “trending”. (I feel like that should’ve been accompanied by a #hashtag) See, I do get it. And still, I find myself disheartened when someone finds out that we’re a gluten free family. Especially when their response is similar to the one I got this morning.

Oh, you’re one of those.

Excuse me? One of those whats?

Oh, you know, one of those mommy-poppins where you make all your food from scratch and you’re an organizational freak, you homeschool, and your children are always perfectly polite. And with an added eye-roll (just in case I couldn’t feel the distain dripping off her words) I’d think you were one of those moms who just likes to make other moms look bad or feel guilty, if it weren’t for the way you’re dressed. 

At this point, I couldn’t help but laugh. I am….reserved. I’m quiet if I don’t know you and hate confrontation. So this morning was almost like an out of body experience when I found my timid self voicing the things that would have normally just been left to scream in my head. I laughed, out loud style, Like, really laughed. Enough to make her look at me with eyes wide in a way that I’m pretty sure said, oh good lord, what have I done?

Once I regained composure of my unkempt hair, makeup-less face, and sweat pants and shirt covered self, and looked at her well-manicured, make-uped, hair done, business attired self and tried not to burst out laughing all over again. And then I shared with her some of my thoughts.

Some of your assumptions were correct. I do make lots of things from scratch, and I really do love organization more than the average person, and my children are usually polite… but there is nothing about me that does any of those things for any reason that is outside of my family. We’re gluten free because two of my three children have Celiac Disease. And well, you know, we’d like to keep them alive, and thriving, even. And the from scratch part, well, that’s simple. It’s a third of the cost than buying gluten free things store bought, and it gives us more options. So I don’t really have much of a choice. If I bought every meal from a store (vs homemade/from scratch), we’d spend over $1,000 on groceries. And that is not an exaggeration.  And homeschooling, well, that’s a bigger issue. But my oldest has dyslexia like his daddy, and learning is a struggle. So we keep him home and practice being patient every single day so that he can have a different learning experience than the handful of people we know that struggled with dyslexia as children that the school system left feeling stupid. And as far as the organization goes…I love it, I really do. But I have three children. I have a demanding day time schedule, and often have to stay up until three am just to keep up with the laundry and the food prep clean up, and everything else. And that’s when I’m not working, if I am there are usually several nights a month where I do not get to sleep, at all. I have learned to function on very little sleep. Which is why my hair is in a pony tail and my face is plain, and my clothes are frumpy at best. I would never try and make another mom feel bad about the job she’s doing or that she’s not doing enough. I would like to believe that we’re all trying our best. Sometimes I wish that celiac, or dyslexia, weren’t a part of our daily lives. It would certainly make things simpler. And would open up some more time for all of us. But it’s the life I have and I do everything I can for my children to feel that it’s a normal one, and that they’re not missing out on anything. 

The lady didn’t look at me, and didn’t say anything for a long time, and we just stood in silence, watching our children playing together across the playground. Just before she round up her children to head home, she (without looking at me) did quietly say,

Well, your children sure are cute.

Um, thanks. 


I’m not sure if that was her version of an apology or if she realized that we’ve all got struggles and whether we look like we’ve got it together or not, it’s probably not. I hope so. I hope the next mom who says, Oh you’re one of those really means, Oh, you’re one of those moms that struggles just like the rest of us, your struggles just look differently than mine. And I hope that the next time I find myself thinking, Oh you’re one of those about anybody, that I remember that their struggles just look differently than mine.


Love The Ones I’m With

This last week, I have been a terrible mother. Ok, so maybe not like worst mother in the universe, terrible, but the kind of terrible where if you knew me, and you witnessed my mothering this last week, you’d think I lost my marbles. Maybe I have.

This week is the 3rd due date anniversary to our sweet baby we have yet to meet. I have been preparing myself for about a month, and this week I have been so busy busy-ing myself and being so wrapped up in my own inner stuff. Grieving a life not known, but not unloved. I became so focused on what I had lost, that I’d all but forgotten to pay attention to the ones things I still have. I don’t mean that to say they take the place, or make up for, the baby we lost. Because as any parent knows, one child can never replace another. No matter how much you love any of them.

This week, I have taken my loves for granted. I have cried, and moped, and yelled, and been all around cantankerous. I did not explain it to my husband, until yesterday, because I was in my dark place, and in that dark, cavernous room, I expect him to remember and to know, even though his body doesn’t remind him the way that mine does. I have wanted all my closests to just know what I was going through, and to not have to explain it. So instead, I spent my days in the dark place and cried to myself.

And then there’s the people kids things that are too young to understand, even had I explained why mommy was behaving like a crazy person… when my irrationality, my irritability, my lack of patience… none of that was their fault, although I’m sure, at least at times, it must’ve felt that way to them. :/ Although they do understand so much more than we give them credit for. Littlest has been in a mood that can only be compared to my own, and yet I still wonder why he seems so out of control. (Hello, pot, I’m kettle.) Miss, well she keeps looking at me, with a look that can only be described as one that says, I will be tiptoeing around this crazy lady. And she has asked me repeatedly, You’re just sad, aren’t you? And Biggest… well, he’s always been the most intuitive. Last year, around this time, he came up to me crying, big, crocodile tears. When asked why he was crying he said, I just really miss my sister. When I was very confused and said, but she’s just in her room. To which he replied, “No, not Miss, the sister that was the baby in your belly that went to go be with God.” Yeah, that happened. A little Heaven is For Real, right? {sidenote: we do not know the gender of the baby we lost, but I have always felt that it was a girl, but Biggest did not know that.}

Ok, so back to me… I’m out of control. I finally told hubbyman yesterday. He came home with a big thing of bright, cheery flowers for my table. I love them. And him. And strangely, as soon as I told him…I felt so much more at peace. Maybe the whole problem was that I’d convinced myself I was in it alone, and I’m not.

But in the midst of all the emotion, I was so focused on what I didn’t have, what I couldn’t have, that I lost sight of the blessings that I do have.

Biggest's teeth are falling out! It's so cute!

Biggest’s teeth are falling out! It’s so cute!

oh, my Miss.

oh, my Miss.

Littlest. He's not staying so little. But he's still napping. Hallelujah!

Littlest. He’s not staying so little. But he’s still napping. Hallelujah!

My E's

My E’s

Today, I’m going to just love them, hug them, encourage them, support them, laugh at with them, chase them, run  them ragged with them, hide with them, seek with them, and enjoy them. And then put them to bed before they can drive me too crazy early.


This was the post I *meant* to write (I really did write this one too, just after my first one, and obviously more well thought out!)… I’m not really a debbie downer, I promise! Spring is coming… it must!! But read this for more insight into why we’re all good enough parents, just as we are!


Anyone else affected by this perpetual state of winter that we seem to be in? Now I love winter, and I love snow- probably even more than the next guy! Blizzard leaves you housebound? Love it. Snow being taller than me? Love it. Skiing, ice skating, snowman building, fort building, general trudging through the snow… I love it all! I am on the snow bandwagon. Until March. I draw the line at March.

I am tired of being stuck in the house. I am tired of only getting out to go to the store (for necessities). I am tired of the wild animals children jumping off the walls, because they too are tired of it.

Maybe I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by it all, if it weren’t for the fact that in the beginning of February, I went skydiving and my chute didn’t open and I fractured a bone in my…

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Survival of The Fittest (I’d Be Dead)

So, it’s been five years… ok, so it hasn’t, but it has been an insanely long amount of time since the last time I posted. Not for lack of want, or of things to say, but…time, energy, and sleep. That and this (never ending) winter has left me with a mean streak. I’m tired of being housebound. I’m tired of only getting out to go to the grocery store. I’m tired of the kids bouncing off the walls because they too are tired of being stuck inside. It has been an incredibly long winter. We’re now mid-March and we’ve got some major snow outside…and it just keeps coming! 

Did I mention that in the middle of this awesome snowed-in-ness, I broke a bone in my wrist and had to have it casted? So a week of a temporary cast, a month of a permanent cast, and now another month of a hard, plastic, extremely uncomfortable (but, thankfully, removable) splint that zips up (but it so tight that I cannot zip or unzip it myself. Also taking it off is murder. It’s ridiculous.) for another month. I’m sure at that point they’ll move me to a less restrictive splint…. Did I mention there’s still tons of snow outside? Like so much you’re not supposed to drive on the roads? That’s happened like three times in the last couple of weeks. 

And don’t even get me started on homeschooling. I swear this child is out to see if my eyes are capable of actually rolling into the back of my head. Some days, it’s a breeze. He’s focused and attentive, and it makes me forget why I was so frustrated with him the day before. And then there are days that he will not sound out a word to save his little life. Especially the days when (it feels like) his life depends on it. Ok, so his life never actually depends on his ability to sound out, “Jan pats a cat.” But sometimes the survival of my sanity does. 

There are days when I totally feel like I’m on top of it all. When things just seem to fall into place and I even impress myself with my mothering and homemaking. I cook homemade meals every single day. I keep up with the laundry. I keep the house in order. I keep the children washed, fed, and clothed (or at least as much as possible). I am teaching Littlest to count and his ABCs, I am teaching Miss to write her letters and know their matching sounds, I am teaching Biggest to read, to do math, to be a “big boy.”  I feel like any one of these things could constitute a full time job, so why is it that even when I’m doing all of the above, I still feel like I’m failing?

Parenting is hard work. Being a SAHM (Stay at home mom) is hard, being a working mom is hard, being a WAHM (work at home mom) is hard. It’s all just hard. And there’s always so much pressure. Pressure to make the right choices, pressure to say the right things, pressure to keep their bellies full and their minds active. There’s always the mom who seems to have it all together and makes everything look so easy that we all love to hate. And then there’s the mom who’s house is always a mess, kids are a mess, and you can’t help thinking there must be a class to enroll her in; let’s face it, we love to judge her. Or maybe just use her to feel better about ourselves. 

I feel like everything is a catch 22. I stay up all night cleaning so that I don’t miss out on our daily interactions because I’m so obsessed with it…and then I’m so cranky and tired the next day that our interactions are anything but meaningful. I spend all day playing and crafting with the kids, and I’m left with a house so disorderly that it makes my head spin. Where is the happy medium? Does anyone else feel lost in the middle of it all, or is it just me? Please, tell me it’s not just me! 

It has been a very long winter. I have found myself yelling at my children, and I may have threatened my son with having to attend public school if he doesn’t say a word right. (Not my proudest moment, to be sure.) I think I’m just feeling isolated, and frustrated with the feeling of being stuck. Stuck inside, stuck in a cast, stuck in a rut. And I don’t like it, not one bit. Anyone have any great survival tips?


The Dog Is Wet

This will kind of go along with my last post, but you know those days where you wake up gently, you stretch, yawn, and smile… embracing your day happily? I think I can remember waking up like that. But I was probably 11. How did I wake up this morning, you ask…

Moooom, I peed!


I think I peed on the dog!


I was cuddled up with him and I peed.

I’m going back to bed.


Go get in the bath while I get my coffee.

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The Tale of the Master of Distaster (And His Sidekick)

So… you know those days where you feel like you’re so on top of it all? The dishes are done and put away. The laundry is washed, folded, and put away. The children are bathed, fed, and napping? If you do, leave. Right now. And never return. Unless you’ll tell me your secrets, and then I’ll wait patiently at your feet. Either that or I’ll out you as a bold-faced liar.

I will admit, lately, I have felt pretty on top of things. Laundry got caught up on. Dishes get washed. (Ok, so they’re not put away until the next time I need to wash more, but I can live with that.) My children have been fed. And bathed before public appearances. I even rearranged and did some redecorating of the house. For the most part I’m feeling more zen these days. More in control. More like I can actually survive having had three children in three years. (Ok, 3 and a half years)

So I did my salsa making and canning with a girlfriend. While it’s debatable whether or not it took less time to do it together, with all of the children between us, it was definitely more fun that way. Well, my dear friend is recovering from meningitis and left me all alone my own with two 5 gallon buckets of tomatoes for sauce. I got brave (or the fear of  having to admit that the tomatoes went bad before I got to them to my husband took over). I took out all of the tomatoes and set them on the bench to make sure they were all good, throw out the bad ones, etc. After I did that, I started getting out the pots and pans, and bowls and everything I needed to turn these lovely ‘maters into even more lovely pasta sauce.  And then this one called to me from her room, downstairs….

The Miss E

So I went to go help her with whatever crisis she was currently facing.

I returned to find that between these two, disaster had ensued:

Littlest E …aka The Master of Disaster

Sidekick of The Master of Disaster

What did I find when I came back upstairs? Well, I’ll tell you. I found all of my tomatoes being thrown on the floor, off the table and bench. I found the dog either trying to do a grape stomp, or eat them, catch them… whatever he was doing, he trampled them. In hindsight Littlest was probably clearing the bench and the pup was probably trying to catch them. That or they really were trying to ruin my life. Regardless. I found my tomatoes being smashed on the floor with the sidekick trampling them. Upon finding them in this state, I immediately yelled for the dog to get away from the tomatoes. I forgot our dog is a big, huge baby who gets his feelings hurt. He immediately began to pee. All over the tomatoes. The trampled, peed on tomatoes. There went any thoughts I had of rescuing them.

Thankfully, this one was a good helper during clean up.


Thankfully, a glass of wine helped. And in the end, I still love them.


Next time, I’ll just buy my pasta sauce.


I know I’ve reblogged this before. But a friend of mine asked for a printing, and I am currently struggling with Littlest being both a two year old and teething (two molars at that!)… I feel like I have an infant again. Up all night, crying all day. His siblings either have the patience of saints or are equally as tired of his “fussing” because they’ve given up their snacks, given up their toys,and even requested Littlest’s favorites for their TV time (which never happens) in order to pacify him. And the bottom picture makes me remember how teeny-tiny he was, how short that lasted, and how much I love them, and a quick reminder of why I parent the way I do… even when I want to put myself in time out. Or start drinking at 10am.


So as we had some quiet family time together on the couch tonight, we were doing our infant massage techniques on our kids who are no longer infants, while the actual infant (who, waah!, is no longer an infant either, but now a toddler) watched from the sidelines with interest. We began to just talk, and the big Es are currently obsessed with telling you their favorites and so their lists came bubbling out. Then they talked about things like when they get married, and when they are grown ups, and asked questions like, Will we be huuuge grown ups? And would it be ok to wait 90 years before becoming a daddy? And as we told them that it wasn’t necessary to wait 90 years, but preferred to wait until they were really grown ups and were married. I couldn’t help but think about all the…

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Sharing Life…With You

I know, I know, it’s been…months. (*insert gasp here*) Don’t think I haven’t thought about you, dear blog, because I promise I have not. I have often thought of you. Almost daily. Which is how I knew I couldn’t let you go, not permanently. Now, now, don’t be so hurt… I had good reason. I have these things that require a lot of energy and attention and time…

There’s this one:

He lost his first tooth this summer! And now… He started kindergarten! My baby!!

And this one:

She turned 4!! My baby!!

And then there’s this one too:

He turned 2!! My youngest is no longer a baby!! He’s still my baby!

This summer has been filled to the gills. We went on a multi-state drive to visit family and spent days upon days in the water.

We pranced around Lake Michigan

We climbed on a giant elephant somewhere in Wisconsin

Even hubbyman got a picture on the elephant, but I thought you’d appreciate this one more.

Downside of the summer: Biggest ran a ridiculously high fever most of our vacation and his only request was naps. (Boo!) When we got home we realized he had an abscessed tooth! (double boo!)

Biggest E was the photographer. We had our first kiss on a swingset like this. I like it.

For her birthday, hubbyman built her a doll house, and her papa built her the furniture to go inside!

Navy Pier, the anchor. Watching all the Sailors almost made me miss military days. Almost. Maybe just the uniform.

And I’ve gotten to be a part of lots of births -2 a month!- since April… including this sweet little man’s! (Who also happens to be my nephew! Check out his shirt- he’s wild about Auntie! And it’s true! The feelings may be are mutual.)

So you see, dear, sweet blog, I  have been a busy mama. I have been a moving mama. I have been a travelling mama. I have been a tired mama. I have been the best mama I know how to be. And I think that if you asked my children what they liked best about me not spending hours on the computer, on a daily basis, they would have said that we played. Do you know that I also gave up cleaning? Ok, ok, so that’s not entirely true. But I stopped making them spend all day in the house, just so I could keep up with the laundry and dusting. We spent the majority of our days outside, in the dirt, at the beach, at the playground… playing. And I only stayed up really late cleaning…a couple of times, and I’ve been ok with it!  My kids seem happier, and I feel happier. And I’d say it’s a win in all departments.

Plus, now that I feel…organized, in our lives together (and you know how much I love organization). I feel that I can come back to you. I look forward to sharing stories with you. I look forward to sharing life with you. Know that you have been missed.