Travel: Always grateful, never happy

Thinking about travel is definitely a double edged sword for me.

We have two trips in the works: we’re headed to London and Paris in the spring and then we are doing a long weekend in Tennessee in the summer.

I’m very excited about both of them, but at the same time feeling really bummed for trips that it would take a MIRACLE for them to happen.

Case in point: There is a chance, albeit very slim, that Dave could be going to Hawaii next summer. Realistically, if he went, joining him wouldn’t be feasible.

How I’m coping?



We need to win the lottery.

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Chronic Conditions Suck

There. I said it.

They suck. They suck even more when you have to watch someone suffer through one.

I haven’t talked about it all, but this year has not been the best where family health is concerned. It seriously feels like every time we turn a corner, someone else is struck with something. Some of them minor. Some of them not so minor.

Through it all, we have tried to love each other. We DO love each other. But we all also have our own stuff that we are dealing with and we have entered this place where we are walking on egg shells around each other.

While also trying to take care of ourselves, we fear that we are not giving each other the love and care the other person deserves, which makes the other person feel like they are a burden, which makes the other person fear that we are not doing enough, which makes the other person feel like they are a burden…

Round and round we go.

This family is solid. No question there.

But we are also tired.

Some days I feel like we’re juggling. Each one of us is juggling 3 balls. Everyone once in a while, one of us will get overwhelmed and toss one of our balls to someone else in the family. Well, that person can’t handle 4 balls. So they’ll except your ball, but toss you one of their other ones.

We’ve all just switched around what we are dealing with.

I know that sounds vague. I know I’m probably not making much sense.

Anybody out there have advice for families dealing with chronic stuff? Both for the sufferer and the caregiver?

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Planner Plans

For a while now, I’ve been realizing that I don’t really like my planner anymore.  I use a Franklin Planner Classic size planner. 3 or 4 years ago, I found the binder at Target marked way down because it was damaged, and then I’ve just been buying the inserts straight from Franklin Planner.

I’ve always used a 1-day-per-page system, but with the way the Franklin page is set up, it doesn’t really suit me anymore. Half the page is set up as an hourly scheduler, and on most days I don’t have any appointments to put on there, or there’s just a few an hour here or there. It’s basically wasted space.

It’s time for something new, and I’m thinking a weekly spread might be more my speed now, but I’ve having a hard time making the leap to switching systems.

I’ve noticed the Bullet Journal style, but I haven’t been able to bite the bullet yet.

Heh. See what I did there.

Anyway, I like the fact that you can pretty much customize it to whatever you need, and the ideas are endless for what you can put in your planner. What I DON’T like is the idea of redrawing a layout every week. I also don’t like the idea of using a notebook. I do like the binder aspect of the Franklin Planner system, and I haven’t seen a lot of that on the bullet journal world.

I printed some dot paper and graph paper off and have been trying new layouts for the past few weeks and then just hole punching them to put in the binder. I found one I like, but again, I don’t know that I want to redraw the same layout every week.

Which led me to Etsy to see if any creative type people have created a planner page that had most everything I was looking for. I don’t really dig the idea of paying for a digital download, but that has more to do with the fact that I’m a cheap ass bastard.

I’ve been toying with the idea of just designing something myself. It would be 100% personal to my needs, which is great, but then I would have to take the time to make it.

Basically, I’m never happy. (Dave will attest to that)

So, if anyone knows of someone who has read my mind and created a FREE personalized Thea Rudland hole punched weekly planner page that includes all the features that I want, can you please let me know.


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Filed under Organizing/Schedules

June 2016 Goals Update


End 2016 with more steps than 2015

(Increase Average Steps per Day)

Goal Actual
JUNE 7000  6906

That’s a big improvement over last month, so that’s something. Not quite there yet, though.

Spend less money on parking than I did in 2015

(Track monthly spending)

2015 2016
JUNE $14 $14

It’s a wash, folks.

Earn 6000 reward airline miles

(Take 10 surveys a month)

Goal Actual
JUNE 10  16

I really should be able to get my next 2000 miles in January. I’m very close.

2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge

(Read at least 25 of the 41 suggested books)

3. A YA bestseller Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
4. A book you haven’t read since high school Lord of the Flies – William Golding
13. A self-improvement book Getting to Calm – Laura Kastner
Totals MAY – 3 books read YEAR – 19/25 books read

This is definitely the goal I’m doing the best with. I will no doubt be able to read 6 more books before the end of the year. Coincidentally, I’ve got to read 6 books just in July to reach my birthday goal of 40 books before I turn 40 (list is here). That’ll be a stretch, but I’m going to try my best.

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Filed under Goals, Health/Weight, Reading

Summer Brain Camp

Each summer, I buy the kids a bridge book.

Each summer, I have one kid who counts down the days until he they can start it, and one kid who digs in her their heels about whether or not starting a household WWIII might be more fun.

This year, I only bought 1 bridge book. I finally caved. I told her she didn’t have to do one, but that she had to do something. He almost actually cried because this was the last year that he would be able to do one (evidently he’s the only kid in America who thinks there should be a bridge book for beyond middle school).

I scoured Pinterest and I took ideas from several different people and created a system I’ve dubbed Summer Brain Camp.

There’s math. And writing. And reading. And they had to set a personal goal. And I set a goal for them. For the math and writing, I gave them a menu of activities that they could choose from that would meet the “learning requirement”.

It’s only Day Two, but I think the system has promise. Emma was actually excited to do math yesterday. She chose the Million Dollar Project. You start with a million dollars and you buy stuff, trying to get as close to spending the whole 1,000,000 as you can. There are some required purchases (college, house, and vacation), but the rest is a free for all.

I tried to pick things that were more project based as opposed to worksheet based. If there’s one thing the girl hates, it’s worksheets.

Jake has his bridge book that he still does every day, but he has the option of doing more math and he has to do writing a few days a week because the bridge book doesn’t offer a lot of writing opportunities. He’s currently working on a Minecraft fan-fiction book.

I found worksheets for them to write down their goals and break them up into actionable steps. We’ll see how long that lasts.

And my goal for them? Cooking. Food prep. Helping in the kitchen. They hate it.

Oh well.

Am I the only Mean Mom out there that expects there kids to DO stuff over the summer?


Filed under Family Adventures, Goals, Parenting Woes, School Adventures, Silly Gooses

School’s Out 2016 – THE VLOG!

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Filed under Family Adventures, Random Happy Thoughts, School Adventures, Silly Gooses, Travels

In Which I Interview the Kids about ME

I saw this floating around Facebook and thought it would be fun as a blog post. I interviewed the kids separately so as to elicit original responses, not just “Uh…what he/she said…”

1. What is something mom always says to you?
E: She always says to me if I’m hurt or scared “Emma, it’s o.k. You’ll get better soon.”
J: “I love you.”

2. What makes mom happy?
E: She likes to read and she likes to watch TV at night with her husband.
J: When I do my chores.

3. What makes mom sad?
E: When things die and when someone graduates from 5th grade
J: When someone dies.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
E: She makes funny faces and says like “deeerrr”
J: By cracking funny jokes.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
E: Just like me.
J: I have NO idea.

6. How old is your mom?
E: 39, I think.
J: 39, going on to 40 in like 1 1/2 months. Yay for mom!

7. How tall is your mom?
E: 8′ 6″
J: I have no idea.

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
E: Read. She loves reading.
J: Take walks

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?
E: She probably reads.
J: Watch shows with my dad

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
E: Being an author.
J: Being the weirdest mom ever.

11. What is your mom really good at?
E: Reading.
J: Getting me to do things

12. What is your mom not very good at?
E: Playing video games
J: Keeping a schedule for her exercising.

13. What does your mom do for a job?
E: She works at the public library.
J: She works at the library as a shelver.

14. What is your mom’s favorite food?
E: I don’t know.
J: Oh my. I don’t know.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
E: That she’s my mom and that she takes care of me when I’m scared and hurt.
J: She works so hard.

16. If your mom was a character, who would she be?
E: Bugs Bunny
J: Sally

17. What do you and your mom do together?
E: We take walks together and we play games together.
J: We do a lot of things together like watch shows and take walks and that type of stuff

18. How are you and your mom the same?
E: We both have read hair and we both like watermelons.
J: We both really like peanut butter and we both have trouble exercising.

19. How are you and your mom different?
E: She’s 39 and I’m 11.
J: Oh my, a lot of things. Like, she’s a girl and she’s a lot older than me and she works and all that kind of stuff.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
E: She tells me all the time. She’s like “I love you every day. You know that, right?”
J: She tells me every day.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
E: I don’t know. I think…well…I don’t know.
J: I don’t know.

22. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?
E: To the couch to read.
J: Probably Ohio.

23. How old was your mom when you were born?
E: 28. I think.
J: 26.

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Filed under Random Happy Thoughts, Silly Gooses, Verbal Mumbo Jumbo

May 2016 Goals Update


End 2016 with more steps than 2015

(Increase Average Steps per Day)

Goal Actual
MAY 7000  5957

I was afraid of that…

Spend less money on parking than I did in 2015

(Track monthly spending)

2015 2016
MAY $21 $17

Not so lazy in May. Which is amazing because it rained. A LOT!

Earn 6000 reward airline miles

(Take 10 surveys a month)

Goal Actual
MAY 10  28

Chugging along towards the next 2000 miles.

2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge

(Read at least 25 of the 41 suggested books)

1. A book based on a fairy tale Book of Lost Things – John Connoly
2. A National Book Award winner Challenger Deep – Neal Shusterman
30. A dystopian novel Death Cure – James Dashner
Totals MAY – 3 books read YEAR – 16/25 books read

I’m definitely on a YA kick. Nothing wrong with that, I guess. Getting ever closer to my 40 books before I turn 40 goal (list is here). I’ve got 9 books to go on that, with a goal to read 5 books in June which leaves me 4 books in July. Almost there.

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Filed under Goals, Health/Weight, Reading

Pictures of inside my stomach

Consider yourself warned. There will be a picture of the inside of my stomach at the end of this post.

Today was my Upper Endoscopy. All in all, it was a good experience. Because my appointment wasn’t until lunchtime, I was ravenous, but that was the worst of it. I love my doctor. I love the staff of the procedure center. Trusting the people who are sticking cameras into your various openings always makes the experience better.

Long story short…I have stomach erosion and an ulcer.

From what still remains to be seen. Could be wheat…could be stress…could be a bacterial infection.

They took some samples to biopsy, but I won’t have those results for a couple of weeks. Until then, he gave me a prescription for a protein pump inhibitor and I go back for a checkup in 6 weeks.

I know eating Gluten Free makes me feel better so I will be returning to that. I also know that I need to be really conscious of sugar and processed food intake, generally speaking. Dairy might be next on the chopping block.

Do I feel good again? Not yet. But at least I know it wasn’t all totally in my head.

One step at a time.

And now for an obnoxiously long expanse of white space so that those who don’t want to see the insides of my stomach can run away…
















Feel free to click on the image for an enlarged version of the inside of my stomach.

Photo May 24, 5 09 01 PM



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And the stomach saga continues…

I had a normal follow up visit with Gastro Guy back in April. I had slowly allowed gluten to find its way back into my life and I was feeling it. Normal bloating with the added fun symptom of heartburn. Really painful heartburn. Heartburn bad enough that I felt it in my ears.

My ears, people.

He ordered some more blood work which included another Celiac panel and he went ahead and scheduled me for an Upper Endoscopy on May 24 to check things out in the upper half.

I used to be all “Yay tests!” because the results were always just information to help the doctors find out what’s wrong with me. But as more and more tests come back negative, I’m beginning to wonder if all of this is just in my head and I need to cut out food for the rest of my life.

The Celiac came back negative. Again. And I’m not going lie, I’m tired. I’m tired of everything coming back negative.

For May, I decided I was going to make a concerted effort to go completely gluten free. I made it two weeks and I felt a little better, but not hugely better and the “you’re nuts and there’s nothing wrong with you” seed is starting to take a stronger hold in my brain.

On May 12, I was talking to a co-worker who has Celiac’s and I was telling her everything that was going on and about the Upper Endo coming up and how I was feeling a little better since I cut out gluten again and she said something to the effect of “That’s weird. When I did my Upper Endo, they wanted me to be on gluten for a while to help enhance the results.”

Well, then.

I put a call into my doctor and sure enough, I should have been eating gluten the whole time. They decided to not move the test back, but I needed to start eating gluten until the test date.

Since then, I’ve been all gluten, all the time. Breakfast? Grape Nuts or a bagel. Snacks? Crackers or pretzels. Lunches? Sandwiches. Dinner? Real pasta.

And let me tell you. I feel like crap. I feel like I weigh 1000 pounds. I have no energy. I just want to sleep. And my gassiness could clear a room.

You’re welcome.

So now, I feel like crap…all my tests are negative…and I’ve got this procedure coming that is supposed to be the definitive Celiac test because it actually shows the damage but I’m already thinking that it’s all in my head.

To say that I’m in a bad mental place would be an understatement.

And I don’t know what to do next if the Upper Endo doesn’t show anything either. Nutritionist? Allergist? Just resign myself to the fact that this is my new normal?

I’m just done.

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