Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Meet Myra

Meet Myra.

Senior Dog Adoption is one of my life's passions.  It all began nearly 20 years ago with our adoption of Sissy, a dear one-eyed German Shepherd who had the sweetest maternal spirit of all time.   We had four wonderful years with our Sissy, and I have always said if I could clone a dog, it would have been here.

Sissy passed away, but her sweet maternal spirit lived on in Wanda, a delightful one-eyed Border Collie who entered our life about a year later at the age of 7.  Wanda had two eyes, but only one of them worked, just like Sissy.  Wanda was the most smiley dog I've ever met, and I was heartbroken when she passed away last June.

While Wanda was still alive, we added two more sweet ol'  ladies to our family: Laverne and Shirley.  Crazy story:  we actually found the dogs on Susie's Senior Dogs, a wonderful Insta/FB site that posts the profiles of senior dogs in need of adoption.  We saw Laverne and Shirley on there and KNEW they were meant for us.  I mean, we live in Wisconsin, home of the tv Laverne and Shirley, for goodness sake.

Both former breeders (likely puppy mill), these two came home at 10.  Shirley is a mini-dachshund, sweet and cuddly.  Laverne is a crazy-haired chi-poo (chihuahua poodle) who loves me fiercely and by fiercely I mean woe to the person who tries to approach me when she is on my lap or by me in bed because Laverne will shiv you just for daring to approach me.

In addition to Laverne and Shirley, the Universe brought me a wonderful new friend in Cheryl, who fostered our dynamic duo in Chicago after they were brought north on the PetSmart Rescue Waggin'.  CHERYL IS A REAL-LIFE ANGEL ON EARTH.  Just a few emails in to our exchange about them, and Cheryl and I became fast friends, and I love following her foster adventures and furbaby adventures (girlfriend has FIVE rescue dogs, plus a few cats, plus is a teacher. . . she is my hero.)

Our house was feeling a bit empty after the passing of Wanda, and the thought of adding another dog to our pack has crossed my mind several times.

As fate would have it, my friend Cheryl took in Myra earlier this year.  As a puppy mill survivor, Myra and her last litter of puppies moved in with Cheryl shortly after their birth.

Cheryl posted Myra's story and pictures of the puppies on her social media.  I remember thinking what a dear sweet dog Myra was and my heart went out to her.  But at 3 years of age, she was too young for us, and a dog that young and that cute would surely be adopted right away.

Once the pups were all adopted, and Myra was spade and healed from that surgery, Cheryl began to post about her more and more often.  Again, I didn't pay much mind, as at 3 years of age, she just didn't fit in with our senior pet rescue plan.

Then two weeks ago, I saw Myra featured as a Waiting Senior on Cheryl's Facebook page.  My neck whiplashed as I did a double take. Myra is 13 (and a 1/2) years old.  My skimming eyes mistook 13 for 3.

At that point it was clear.  In Myra's big brown eyes I could see the same gentle, sweet maternal spirit that I saw each time I looked in Sissy and Wanda's eyes (well, eye, because they each only had one working eye), and I knew this girl was meant to spend her final years in our family.

Myra has been home just over one week now.  My heart breaks about her prior life, which is so evident in her demeanor and behaviors.  She shakes and withdraws if we reach our hands out to her.  She does not want to be pet or picked up.  She doesn't nip, bite, growl or bark.  Her insecurity is shown in her cowering.

In a week's time, though, she has shown baby steps of progress.  She'll sleep on our bed, and she now lays on my legs while sleeping.

Watching her run around the grass in the warm sunshine brought so much joy to my heart.  I am so glad she is experiencing this.  She absolutely loves going on walks, and here is a photo from her first trip on our local river trail.

With time, I am hoping she allows us to pet and cuddle her.  If not, that's okay, because we respect her boundaries and will only do what she allows and is comfortable with.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I trust the evolution of my life

While I cannot stand the word 'busy,' I'm not going to lie, this past month has been b-u-s-y. 

With kid stuff.  With work stuff.  With the Mister's work stuff. 

All that being said, I kept up with some things very important to me:  my morning pages (3 pages of journal writing, done immediately upon waking), daily meditations, and time throughout each week to doing un-plugged things to recharge: reading, working out, walking dogs, and writing.

Except the writing didn't truly happen.  So today when making my weekly plan, I became incredibly intentional in setting aside time throughout the week to write.

As I'm doing now.

I want to feel peaceful, relaxed and connected in my daily life.  Which upon looking at that written there, makes me nearly laugh out loud. 5 kids, 4 dogs, 4 cats, 1 Mister.  . . yup!  Super peaceful and relaxing.

But, what I have learned is that when I make time for the things that my soul craves, when I make time to do the things I want and desire, it frees up a massive amount of energy in me for those 5 ids, 4 dogs, 4 cats and 1 Mister. 

I have been happier than I have been in months.  I have felt more connected with and less agitated by the Teens and their Teen things than I have ever have.  I feel so good.

It has taken WORK.  It has taken digging in and figuring out what I need and what I want and what I'm resisting.  Pushing through resistance has taken courage that I didn't know I had, but once I did it once, I found the energy surge it created to be nearly addictive.

And the energy shifts and changes resulting from this are unfolding.  And I am EXCITED.  I feel so good and positive about the future--even with the unknowns-- because of this phrase, given to me by the amazing Holly Glenn Whittaker of Hip Sobriety:

I trust the evolution of my life.

I am showing up and digging and and doing this work.  I want to set the example for my kids so they know that you can live according to how you want to feel.  You don't have to ignore yourself or shut down parts of you.

Some big changes are coming up in the weeks ahead.  I am excited and fearful but dedicated to pushing through. 

Because I trust the evolution of my life.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Day 111

Today is my 111th day alcohol-free.

112 - 200+ days ago, each time I reflected on how I could improve my life, health, emotional state, giving up alcohol would always come to mind.  Tremendous resistance would follow.

What resists, persists, and the more I reflected on how I could improve my life, the more I realized that giving up alcohol was the next big step.  

111 days ago, I ran toward the resistance and gave up alcohol.  I signed onto the amazing Holly Whitaker's Hip Sobriety School (an online 8-week program which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to anyone who is even thinking about it) and found a support tribe, because I definitely needed one.

We live in a society saturated with alcohol.  Doesn't matter the day of the week or the time of the day, I can go through my social media streams and find numerous posts glamorizing booze or great times had with booze.   Here in Wisco, parents drink while attending their kids' football banquets and dance competitions (not judging, I've done it myself.)  At work rarely a day goes by when someone doesn't talk about using alcohol to reward or unwind after a hard day, or offer that up as a suggestion to someone else.

I've been hesitant to share this with people.  Some of it is from fear of discomfort- adults think nothing of clucking their tongue at you while stating, Well, you're no fun anymore (seriously, this has happened more than you think.)  And while I know that really is someone just projecting their own shit onto me, the above scenario just leaves me really not liking that person at all, which I find difficult when you see them socially, work with them, are related to them, or their kids are friends with your kids.

In 111 days, my life has changed by leaps and bounds I did not think possible.  I have a crazy sensitive body, and the tannins from one glass of red wine would dull my brain for a day.  The poison of the ethanol would leave my body dehydrated and ill, and the sugars killed my complexions and created appetite cravings.   This was from one glass of wine, and if I drank 2, which eventually became my norm, the results were even more intensified.

Basically, I felt like borderline shit all the time.  It was my normal.

That is not a way to live.

So, in 111 days, I have found energy and time.  And with that energy and time I took time to take care of myself.  Meditation. Yoga.  Returning to the Ellipse Fitness gym family that I've always loved. 

I began to hear my core desires and intuition.  

I've been taking that momentum and running with it.  I hired a life coach and signed on to an 8-month mastermind/mentoring program, and I'm working on letting go of shit, growing, listening and building a life I didn't think imaginable.   

Now that I’m on the other side, I have found my words and realized why I was using alcohol: I am a person who holds onto a LOT of energy, especially that of other people’s.  On a daily basis, I am exposed to many others who bring with them a lot of negativity (some of this was even things I was doing by choice- like exposing myself to toxic shit via social media.)  And a good amount of it are people and situations in my daily work and private life (so situations I could just not easily resolve by un-friending and un-following.)

I hold onto a lot of energy and  problems that do not belong to me.  That is not healthy or good. And, I am was a person who has an incredibly difficult time putting boundaries in place to protect me from holding onto their energies (definitely a work in progress, but man!  Now that some are in place and some are in progress I feel like a new person!)

A glass of red wine became my way to pleasurably numb these feelings with a glass of delicious red wine.  Because alcohol is a highly addictive substance and I have a highly sensitive body and (at that time) was living a highly stressed out life, I would *crave* it.  The more stressful situations I found myself dealing with, the more I craved it.  So, I would drink a glass or two of wine in the evenings, feel warm and fuzzy and all zen, and then be zonked out by 8 or 8:30 p.m.
Until the next morning, when I would wake up, feeling yucky and dehydrated and tired. And then I would feel and live in all the negative energy and toxicity that I was holding onto from the day before (and the situation before that, and the week before that, and the month, year, etc.) and I would feel anxious and depressed.
Rinse. Repeat. Over and over.
So I realized the cycle needed to be broken. And I did it. It was so much harder and so much easier than I thought.  
111 days in, and I am doing things I never thought I would have the time and energy and desire to do again.  And it feels fucking fantastic.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Laverne & Shirley & Filled in Holes in My Heart

For a number of years (and around 5 years ago), I wanted to have a sixth baby.

I pined quite a bit over the idea of another little Chamorrito or Chamorrita. As luck would have it, the Mister had the Big V shortly after the birth of Po, so the odds of this happening without Divine Intervention were slim at best.  He was hesitant about the idea of using a sperm donor, and I was very wary of going into another adoption.

Realizing we were at an impasse, I decided this longing was likely a case of Wanting What You Cannot Have.

With further reflection, I came to the conclusion that really, I just wanted to go back in time and relive all of my years since Hattie came into being.  Because I greatly enjoyed all of this time, shit storm times and all, and really did not want it to come to an end so quickly.

Talk about a case of Wanting What You Cannot Have.

Eventually, I made peace with these thoughts and ideas, and went about my life.

It wasn't long before Baby #6 longing came back.  Big. Time.

"Uhhhh, can't we just get another dog?" said the Mister when I shared my all new, even-more-intense longing. *

We already had two dogs at the time, who were my other babies.  So this sounded like an avenue worth pursuing.

So we looked and looked and one day I was on Instagram and saw them.

Laverne (crazy curly hair) and Shirley (mini dachshund).

A dynamic senior duo who came up north from some god forsaken southern puppy mill or other atrocity.  Both were malnourished, with mouths of rotting teeth, and they were incredibly bonded and simply could not be separated.

I knew that they were mine the moment I spotted them.

I contacted Cheryl, their foster mom, who is an ANGEL ON EARTH, and within a few days we were on way to pick up our newest duo.

And you know what?

It turns out I don't need a 6th baby after all.  Because these little old ladies have filled every void that I was feeling in my heart, and I am so in love with these dogs.

Especially Laverne. 

Don't get me wrong.  Shirley is a dear heart and I love her to pieces, but she really is Hattie and Paloma's special girl, and they are her special humans.

Wanna know what one of the best parts about Laverne is?  Beyond this adorable face!


Like A LOT.

While I make dinner.  While I help with homework.  While I sit and type or read.   She even likes to sit next to the bathtub when I take bubble baths.

No, I simply did not need a 6th baby at all.

The love I needed came in the form of scraggly, 4-tooth poodle/chihuahua from down south named Laverne.

And I have felt so complete ever since.

*  NOTE:  The Mister himself DOES NOT REMEMBER this conversation at all.   It is true his memory pretty much sucks.  HOWEVER, being a highly creative person prone to occasional embellishment, it is somewhat likely I could have imagined this conversation.  However, I am pretty certain he tried to barter his way out of untying his sperm tubes with the nearly sure bet of offering up a new dog for me to love.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

It's time to write once again

5 years later, I am finding it is time to write once again.

The call began whispering in my ear about 6 months ago, when I became Serious about self-care and honoring myself as a human.  

I started small, because self-care is not something that comes natural to me.  But I was at a point where I knew I needed to begin because my head was SO FULL OF NOISE- from home (5 teens) and work (498 elementary school students plus a staff of 60 adults) and social media (poisoned by the toxins of American politics.)  I needed to take care of myself, and the first thing I needed to do was to find some quiet.

So what's quieter than meditation? I thought.  I determinedly chiseled out a small hole of time to begin a meditation practice.  Because the thought of that appealed to me, and because the phrase "mediation practice" sounds like something an enlightened woman who loved herself and had her shit together would do.

I started by going to a meditation group at a local yoga studio because I had no idea how to meditate.  Also my home, while lovely and full of buoyant teenage energy, is NOT peaceful in the quiet, reflective calm of a yoga studio sense.

And, the yoga studio smells like a spa.  Like a fancy-yet-holistic- Aveda spa.  

My home smells often smells like dirty socks and stinky teen boy feet.

So, off to the yoga studio I went, to learn how to meditate.

At the beginning of these particular sessions, we are to draw a card from the instructor's pile of cards.  The cards are beautifully illustrated and each holds a magical word that the Universe gifts you as a message, should you choose to believe in that type of woo-woo (disclaimer: I totally am ALL ABOUT this sort of woo-woo.)

The first week I quickly and confidently chose my card, ready to accept whatever message the Universe had for me.  Like "Adventure" or "Wanderlust."

It gifted me:  Intuition.

Definitely not as sexy and exciting as I had hoped for.

As I reflected on the card, both during my meditation and the week afterward, I realized that somewhere along the way, over the past 5 years, I had lost my connection with Intuition.  

In the noise of daily life, in the insane busy-ness of being a working mom of 5 teenagers, often locked into survival mode.  And exhaustion mode.  I realized I couldn't even hear my Intuition anymore when it comes to myself.

What is it I want?  Need?  Desire?  I asked myself.


The irony was not lost on me.  The ONE time I actually had silence in my otherwise all-too-noisy head, was when when I asked myself those questions.

What is it I want? Need?  Desire?


This realization made me uncomfortable, but like so much else in my life at that time, I honestly wrote it off as something I'd connect with later- like after the kids are grown, the mortgage is paid, etc.

The next Sunday I went back to the delicious scented yoga studio for meditation and it's wonderful, blissful silence.  Admittedly, my back hurt from the sitting for the 40 minutes, but the savasana at the end-- that's when you lie on your back on a yoga mat, and cover yourself with a blanket, and just be in darkened quiet-- that was magical to me.

I plunked my mat down and went over to the middle circle-- an altar, with candles, rocks, crystals, and cards.  I plucked one from the middle.


Same card.

Clearly, the Universe was telling me that connecting with my Intuition was no longer something that could wait until the kids were grown.  Or until next year.  Or even next month.

It was my time to start working on that connection.  

And so, I spent the next several weeks and months doing lots of different things to quiet my environment and head in the hopes that I could begin to hear my inner thoughts.

What is it that I want?  Need?  Desire?

In that silence, I began to hear the whispers of my wants and desires and needs.

I want a bubble bath.
I want a cookie.
I want to take a walk with the dogs.
I want quiet.
I want to meditate.
I want to move my body.
I want to dance.
I want to have fun.
I want to write.

There it was.  I want to write.

This want and desire has grown louder and louder until it is something I can no longer ignore.  

Last month I read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  It has become a bible of sorts to me.  And then I started listening to her podcast, Magic Lessons.  

All of the reading and listening began to re-stoke the fire in me to write.  But what would I write about? What themes? And where?  Those questions would stop me in my tracks.  

This morning I read a beautiful post written on some form of social media by writer Elizabeth Gilbert.  And I realized I could now no longer postpone my desire to write.

So here I returned. 

Where I will answer the question about What is it I want?

And write.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Go Spicy, or Go Home

I grew up one block from Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.

When I tell people who are from big cities this fact (especially big cities with football or baseball teams), they assume I am exaggerating. That by "one block," I probably mean within one zipcode, or one city, or one neighborhood or maaayyyybbbeee one mile.

But nope.  None of those things.  I truly lived one block from Lambeau, as it is surrounded by neighborhoods, and mine created the southern border of the property.   I didn't realize just how unusual having a stadium neighborhood was until I grew up and went to college.

I didn't realize how lucky I was-- and just how magical this aspect of my childhood was-- until I moved back to my hometown after I went away for college.

Growing up in the Shadow of Lambeau meant friends parking their cars on the yard, airplanes trailing banner advertisements (or marriage proposals! Oh how my sister and I dreamed of a marriage proposal flying over a Packer game for all to see), and in my house, my Dad's infamous chili parties.

The chili and the parties were each infamous in their own rights.  Each Fall, my sister and I would hang out on the porch, watching and waiting for my parent's friends to walk over after the game for these parties. Upon spying each guest, we would stick out head in the door and yell to our parents, "So and so are here!"  In Fall, it was an easy task.

Winter proved much more challenging.  Each Winter game, Stephanie and I would stand at the living room window, and watch as unknown souls decked head to toe in flame orange snowmobile suits, and green and gold baklavas, lumber through huge amounts of snow in approach to our house.  "Someone's here!" was all we could holler, as we simply could not ascertain any true identity until those layers of winter protection were shed in the foyer.

Well, we couldn't for anyone except my Dad's friend "Turkey."  We always knew who Turkey was because he would gobble upon entering our home, which honest to God sounded JUST like a real turkey.  We kids would shriek with laughter, and as such, Turkey was always the most anticipated arrival at each chili party.

If you have ever been to a cold weather Packer game, you know that "Fair Weather Fan" is a concept simply not comprehensible to children growing up in Green Bay.  The Packers completely stunk for the first two decades of my life, and we loooooovvvveeed them no matter the weather, selling out every seat in every game no matter the weather, and having a season tickets wait list two generations long. 

In fact, "fair weather fan" was not a phrase I heard of until I lived in Washington State, where every time the Seahawks sucked, the city discussed selling the team.  Once, when living out there, I went to a Packer-Seahawks game in Seattle, and there was more Green and Gold than Blue and Green.  Even my boyfriend, who grew up in Washington, wore a Cheesehead to the game.

That simply does not happen in Green Bay, people.  Never did, and likely never will.

Yet, I digress.  There was a lot I didn't learn until I went to college.

But back to the chili:

My Dad had obtained his chili recipe from a prominent restauranteur in the area, as partial payment for a divorce that my dad handled.

It was a brilliant trade, as the chili is perfection in a bowl.

Not a soup, this chili is a beef topping that you put on buttered spaghetti noodles. A deep, complex flavor, you feel the heat in your ears when you eat it. 

The dark red kidney beans are served, heated, on the side, or else that flavor would interfere with the intensity of the beef.  Pour a large glass of milk, top the chili with malt vingear, beans and shock absorbers, and enjoy the clearing of your sinuses.

Go Spicy, or Go Home. 

That is the chili of my childhood. The fact that many people in my region of the world consider ketchup to be a spice?  I didn't know that either, until I moved back after college.  I just thought everyone ate this sort of heat on Sunday basis.

And the soup concoctions often referred to as 'chilli?'  I never knew about that sloppy stuff until college.

You know what else I didn't learn until college?  That no one else knew of these magnificent heat-absorbing magical "Shock Absorbers."

Sadly, the rest of the world knew of:

Oyster crackers.  What a grody name.

Huh.  Yet another thing I didn't learn until I had to grocery shop on my own.

Today, I'm having a post-game chili party of my own.  So similar to those that my parent's had in my youth, we are serving up chili and celebrating our life here, even with the Packers stinking it up big time this season.  We still love 'em, and we'll still party it up.  With my dad's recipe.  And shock absorbers.   And my brother and sister and children. 

And you know what else?  My kids don't know of these things called Oyster Crackers either.  Because in my home, they forever are and forever will be referred to as Shock Absorbers.

I'm not going to burst their bubble.  They can learn that nugget of truth on their own, when they're in college, just like I did.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Channeling My Inner Witch

Many moons ago, I convinced my kids that I am part-witch.

I've relied upon that genetic trait of mine on many instances to shock 'em, amaze 'em, leave 'em in awe, and  I must admit, instill the tiniest bit of worry in my kids.  Because they understand, that due to my witch DNA, I have some crazy witchy skills.

Skills like knowing when they're lying.

Or explaining how I have eyes in the back of my head due to a spell.

Or how I know if they really brushed their teeth or not, even if they try to pull a fast one by wetting the head of the toothbrush head without brushing.

It  is an important element of our household lore, having a Mom who is part-witch.

Part-witch, EXCEPT, on Halloween.

On Halloween I channel my Full Witch.

Kind of like a type of PMS that happens just once a year, it's beyond my control.

Every Halloween morn, I wake up with my Witch Shoes on,

and I wear them all day long.

The kids are always certain to check.

This morning, Miles woke me up and said, "Mama, Mama, I forgot to tell you: I have to bring in a treat for the class party today."

A short while later, you could find me in the kitchen, guzzling coffee and drawing jack-o-lantern faces on Cuties with a Sharpie.

Can you guess which face represented mine?
Hint: It's not a smiley one.

Atticus walked in on my artistic magic. "What's Mom doing?"  he asked Miles.

"Getting my treat ready for school.  I just remembered this morning so I let Mama know before she woke up."

"Are you crazy?!?!" Atticus shrieked. "That lady is FULL witch today!!!"

It was a very cute moment.

If I were cool enough to tag my posts, I would tag this under, 'Cool Sh*t I Do for My Kids.'

Because being a Mom is hard enough, so you might as well pat yourself on the back when you can.

 And on Halloween, I definitely can bring it.  Just look at our early morning visitor, found napping in my antique baby buggy next to my hearth.  I mean, it's like Santa Claus, but creepy, and on Halloween, and he didn't bring toys. 

* * * * * 

Can't have a Halloween Post with pics of the 5FC costumes!

Before I get to the pictures, I should explain my rules about costumes and Halloween at large:

1)  Da Mama doesn't buy costumes at retail stores (on occasion, I may be willing to buy a piece or two from GW Fashions.)

2) Bring your imaginations or stay home.

3) All Bit-'o-Honey's obtained during Trick or Treat are immediately handed over, as legislated by the Mommy Tax Acts of '98, '02, '04, '04 and '05.

4) Eat as much candy as you want Halloween night, but don't wake me up that you have a belly ache.  I'll leave Tums on the bathroom counter because I love you all that much.  Smooches and good night.

After all that, behold!

 The Mad Scientist

 The Dead Cheerleader


A Pretty Little Liar (love how my scary candle photobombed her head!)

Harry Potter sporting Glow in the Dark Glasses

And a Very Pretty Fancy Girl

Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here

Happy Halloween!!!