This is 24 (not 23)!


This guy! I adore pretty much everything about him (ok, except for mornings).

That sweet face on the right stares out at me from those big brown eyes, with a little hint of a smile that always said, hey, I really know who I am. I’ve got this. And there he is again on the left – over two decades later – same sort of expression, telling me that he will always be cool with it. Whatever ‘it’ is.

DLev. Baco boy. Oneida for life. Badger. The king of sucking it up and moving on. Always gives 100% and never complains. Sometimes to a fault.

I will refrain from the ‘my-little-boy-is-gone-my-son-is-perfect’ drivel and just simply say that if on this day in 1992 I could have written my hopes for who you would become, you have exceeded my expectations. You make me laugh, call me out, challenge me, make me think and most of all let me lean when I have to. (ok, a little bit of my-son-is-perfect, but it’s your birthday)

Raising you has been a joy, buckaroo. (oh, except for that incident with the inside of my windshield, but hey, this is not about embarrassing you ; ).

To the moon and back.

Happy 24, Danny-boy. All you can.





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Filed under birthday, childhood, danny, parenting, sons, Uncategorized

On Speaking Out

This has never been a political place, and has certainly not been a very active one for a while. But it is where ‘I go’. And today, I had to ‘go’ somewhere. Time to Cry, indeed.

Speaking out. This week’s mantra. All ‘sides’.

Sides? Really?! Now there are sides to humanity? To dignity? To civil rights?  To driving down the road with your child in the back seat? To waking up every day and doing your job protecting your community?

Are there systemic issues? Hell, yeh. Should we push for a drastic overhaul of our broken system that includes real oversight, investigation and punishment? Both ‘sides’. Double hell, yeh. Do we have issues with guns… triple hell, yeh. Are all cops evil? Come on, you don’t believe that any more than you believe that all people of color are criminals. Right?

Tell me right, ok? Make me believe it. Please, come out of the woodwork and tell me that as Americans we can stop taking sides. Tell me that I am not delusional. Tell me that from the wreckage of all this violence we can create change. Not slogans and hashtags. Not turning your profile picture black OR blue. Turn it both. Black and blue… bruised and hurting. That is what we are all feeling.

These are the things I have read today that moved me after a sleepless night. Let them move you. Let’s all turn down the volume and turn up the idea of what being an American should mean. And what our responsibilities are.

  • There are no sides. Please don’t take one. Grieve for loss of life, the broken system and violence begetting violence. But don’t take sides.
  • You know the hardest part of having a conversation surrounding police shootings in America? It always feels like in America… if you take a stand for something, you automatically are against something else. It’s such a strange world to be in. You shouldn’t have to choose between the police and the citizens that they are sworn to protect. (Trevor Noah)
  • Things have not changed, the access to real time video has.
  • An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. (thank you, Dawn)
  • I’m sorry, I must have set my alarm for 1968 (thank you, Marc)
  • We need to stop thinking hashtags are going to fix the problem and get away from our computers and out into our communities to work together to figure out how to stop this reality we find ourselves in. (C.C. Chapman)

Speaking out is great. But please choose your words wisely. And act upon them. Effectively. Sensibly. And with liberty and justice for ALL.

Amen. Namaste. Shalom. Salaam.


Filed under communities, current events, grief, news, Uncategorized

Graduation Time

grad capNope, no one in my house is graduating. But for some reason I found myself going back and reading all of the graduation posts that I had written for my kids. I guess it is that time of year. It all seems so long ago, and like yesterday at the same time.

I will tell you that here on the other side, we are all doing great and happy to have made it.

Here is a little roundup for those who are going through the graduation dance. Don’t worry, I promise, you will all be just fine.

Jana’s High School Graduation

Danny’s High School Graduation

Jana’s College Graduation

Danny’s College Graduation

Iko’s Obedience School Graduation (JK, if you have ever met her you would know she would definitely be a dropout!)

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Filed under childhood, college, danny, daughters, education, family, gary, humor, Iko, Jana, moms, parenting, pets, school, wisconsin

And then she turned 27

You wake up one morning, a good 30 lbs over your normal weight (don’t judge), wash your hair, take off your jewelry and nail polish (your version of natural childbirth) and you walk into the hospital to have a baby.

That is pretty much how it went. A stubborn breech baby, Miss Jana preferred the less violent (for her, anyway) exit of a c-section.

You planned for just about everything… and nothing at all.

You did not plan for how amazing your life would become because she was in it. Or how your heart would both fill and break at a moment’s notice when her life took its swings. You counted fingers and toes and thought you were good to go.

jana27And then one day you turn around and she turns 27! Today! And you look at the woman she has become and think, damn if I did anything right in this world it was her (and you too, Dan, but it’s not your birthday). Sure, we all gush about our kids, and love them unconditionally. But, as they age up the parenting piece is so very different. It’s a sidelines thing. A bite your tongue and hope and pray endeavor. And then they start to impart THEIR wisdom to YOU!

So, for your birthday, my sweet Petunia Blossom, I will share some of your wisdom:

  1. In the history of mankind, no one has ever calmed down when you say ‘calm down’.
  2. They now take credit cards in taxis, it’s not 1985. (in my defense I was pretty sick that day)
  3. Sometimes you just have to smile and nod – and shut the hell up.
  4. Repost is the best instagram regram app.
  5. You don’t need to solve it, you just need to listen to me complain. I will solve it myself.
  6. When you take pictures on your phone, you should always shut the sound off.
  7. Don’t eat this [fill in the blank], it has too much salt.
  8. Madewell has great gift items.
  9. This is how you do a face swap video.
  10. Laughter.

But most of all you taught me how to be silly and love life, even when it can be ‘annoying’. It seems you have been doing this your entire life.

3 janas


Filed under birthday, daughters, family, happiness, Jana, moms, parenting, Uncategorized

This turkey was an asshole

Or it could have been my beloved/hated Chambers oven. From 1939. I adore this thing, but it is not the most reliable way to cook.

Every Thanksgiving I try a different way to survive the turkey. I start it early, the timer pops, not one but two digital thermometers register the correct temp, I brine, I tent, I baste and I turn. Some years I even order the damn thing (always day old and dry).

This bad boy? He mocked me. Everything looked and seemed perfect until we went to carve him. Not once back in the oven, but twice!

Turkey aside, this was a wonderful holiday filled with family and friends. I hope you all had the same.

Happy thanksgiving.

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Time to Cry Tuesday… Mom

Thanksgiving, like every holiday, starts off with the business of lists and recipes, shopping and cleaning and ends up where everything seems to, with the bittersweet memories of those we have lost.

“Umm… Ame, what is up with the ancient can of mandarin oranges and what do they have to do with your mom?”, you ask. Read on my friends. This one is just plain old freakish.

I spent a big chunk of the weekend reading expiration dates and tossing ancient items out of my pantry and fridge. It is really quite embarrassing, but frankly I suck at this piece of domesticity. I usually do it before the holiday visit from my nephew, the expiration date nazi, but sadly he will not be joining this year.

I digress. I had just finished making (not enough) cranberry sauce and was on the phone asking a friend about whether to use canned mandarin oranges in my fresh sauce. My argument in favor of this slimy little canned citrus was nostalgia. You guessed it, my mom always used them. I reached into the pantry and saw the condition of the can, realizing it had slipped through Saturday’s expiration sweep.

But then I saw something so startling that even the most stubborn skeptic could not deny.


As the word ‘Mom’ left my lips, this is what I saw.

Yeh, I know, crazy, right? (and yes I am aware that this can expired over 5 years ago)

IMG_8470 (1)

So here’s the thing. This is no coincidence. Why the hell would DelMonte stamp MOM on the bottom of a can of (5+ year old) mandarin oranges?

Because, my friends, I really do believe they did not.

Here’s to you, Elaine, you cagey devil. And yes, I get it, I can’t possibly leave out the mandarin oranges.

“She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay.”

– Hope Edelman from Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss


Filed under aging, food, holidays, moms, Uncategorized

What Moms Wish For

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This is my girl.

Many of you have watched her grow up here; at least the parts of her we like to share. Jana not only made me a mom for the first time, she made me a mom blogger with my very first post about her High School graduation. Then on to her college graduation where I visited a different kind of change… getting her back.


Fast forward to today. Today is Jana’s last day at a job she has grown to love way beyond being a place of employment. God’s Love We Deliver has been a calling. The place where someone a little too young for the job proved she was not. Where, like everyone who works and volunteers there, she was embraced for who she is and appreciated way more than she could fathom. Until she made the tough decision to take the next step in her career.

The photo above is today’s GLWD Facebook post. She came into the office at 6AM (did I mention she starts work at 6AM?!) to find the walls covered with photos of her good times spent there. I awoke to a text with a video of the scene. We were both quite taken with this.

The emotions surrounding raising a child are often overwhelming. Equal parts pride and melancholy, the growing of a human is a roller coaster, indeed. (it’s all good, we both LOVE roller coasters). All a parent can hope for in the lives of their children is that they can find themselves, make a solid contribution and be valued. A huge thank you to the God’s Love We Deliver family, that has embraced, not only our girl, but our entire family. You have left a mark on all of us.

Good luck, my sweet Jana. As one door closes… blah blah blah. None of this makes today any easier. Love you to the moon and back. We could not be any prouder of you.

Now go out there and kick some ass.


Filed under Jana, moms, parenting, work