Monday, December 13, 2010


Really. This is good stuff. Just wait.
I have a bunch of random junk floating around in my head so I decided, rather than clog up everyone's facebook with 25 status updates in a row, I'd put them here. Yeah! This place! Where I used to write!

Life balance?
This semester of school is almost over! Just two more classes and then I can go back to cleaning and drinking and cleaning and drinking. And reading. And emailing people. Then it's back to school.

Remember CDs?
I dug up some CDs today that I hadn't listened to for a while. It's amazing how much your own life experiences can color what you get out of a song. These songs have totally new meaning now because of everything that's happened in between. I listened to Tori Amos today and suddenly her lyrics didn't seem so crazy and trippy and random.

Tarot, and secrets about Jesus
One of my school projects was to design a Tarot deck. I decided to go with the Biblical symbolism already present in many classic decks because of this whole Bible reading project that's consumed this year. I even harassed my friend the pastor for ideas. (Thanks!) I know lots of people think Tarot cards are tools of the devil. I'm pretty sure they're just cards.
Somehow, all the googling I did during this project lead me to lots of reading about Christian mystics/esotericism. Something about it seems rather smug but intriguing, nonetheless. Sort of like, "Well, of course we all know that Jesus was trained by magicians..." or "You don't still believe Mary was a virgin...?" And I think, where are you getting your information? I want to know. I demand it. But it's a secret. And we all know that secrets don't make friends and friends don't make secrets!

Dr. Dude moving to MN
In other news, Cullen had his 3 year well child check on Friday. He weighs 40lbs. He's around the 95th percentile for height and weight. Pretty interesting, right? The REAL news is that Dr. Dude is MOVING. Man. It's like the end of an era. If Dr. Awesome leaves I'm going to slit my wrists. Just kidding... Wow that's not a funny joke at ALL. Sorry. He was still a resident when he delivered baby Cullen. *sniff*

Well, as my grandpa once wrote to me, I'm all out of gas for this trip.

Maybe I'll write again in a couple of months.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cullen!

I cry a little every year on Cullen's birthday.

When I was 17 weeks pregnant the ER doctor told me I should prepare myself mentally for my impending miscarriage. Labor pain was nothing compared to what my heart felt in that moment.

Today, my boy is three! He has been such a warm fuzzy in my life since the moment I met him.

I love you so much, Cullen! Sorry I can't write more, but we have to get going for birthday dinner!


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mina! (One day late)

Mina Sachiko Samsa

About a month before Mina was due, Jason started tearing up the carpet in our house and kicked off the tiling project of 2002. I was super freaked out about the prospect of being in the middle of this when the baby was born and I told her, "You are not allowed to be born before October first--and you are not allowed to be born AFTER October first, either!"

At around 11:30pm on September 30th I woke up in labor. Jason, remembering what we were told in Lamaze class, said we should try to get some sleep.

I couldn't sleep, and my water had broken, and the next hour or so involved Jason running around gathering photography equipment and calling people while I crawled around on my hands and knees panting!

He dropped me off at the emergency room door and went to park the car, and I crawled in going, "HEE HEE WHOOOOOO" with my pants falling down. And I was IGNORED. If I wasn't in wild animal mode I would have asked for help, I think... When Jason came in, they brought out the wheelchair. I know you're supposed to walk around, but seriously, I was way beyond that point. I barely got my pants off and she was out. I still had my pajama shirt on.

She was 8 lbs, 13 1/2 oz and 21 inches long... Chubby and cute from the moment she was born. I didn't want to be away from her and remember feeling tremendous longing when she was being held by other people across the room from me.


And from the moment she was born, she was a handful... I will just leave it at that!

But yesterday, when we were driving around together, and chatting the whole time, I was so moved by how much she has grown and I feel like eight year old Mina is like a reward for all the challenging times we've had! She is such a cool little person with sensitivity and insight well beyond her years. Her absurd sense of humor and creativity are an absolute joy to experience. She hardly ever cries anymore, but gets annoyed in the way that big sisters do when they're being looked at or bothered or breathed on. She no longer expects me to turn back time and make it so that I never wore the orange shirt that bothers her or do other impossible things. She is reasonable, and loves science and art and nature... She is someone I would have loved to be friends with as a kid and teenager.

Yesterday at her doctor visit she did almost all of the talking. SHE wanted to talk to the doctor about her concerns about her own health. She talked about feeling sick a lot and how nervous she gets. When he said the words "throw up" she yelled, "Don't even SAY IT! I hate hearing it, it's so gross!" But she didn't throw a fit... She talked about being nervous about germs and he said he was too and pointed out that he'd used hand sanitizer three times since entering the room. She even wanted a flu shot. She seemed slightly disappointed when they only had the mist!

After we bought the caramel apple pie she requested for her birthday she told me that the reason she wanted pie is because I don't like cake. *tear*


I will wrap this up by saying what I've said many times before:

Mina, I love being your mom. You rock. Keep on being awesome!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Switching Gears and Eating Humble Pie

Wow, I guess it's been a while...

I'm going to be switching gears and writing a lot about the things I'm learning about in school, the feelings associated with going back to school and rubbing elbows with smelly eighteen year old boys.

Just kidding! We ALL stink, because we have to park two miles away and race to class with arms full of heavy art supplies... I envy those who take the bus and get off at the door.

Did I skip ahead? Sorry. I started school a few weeks ago. I'm a full time graphic design student. I have this conversation a lot, about being a mother of three and full time student and how on earth do you to it? Here's my secret: No cleaning, no sleeping, minimal parenting. Ta-daaaa!

Jason has been very supportive and should be applauded for his tolerance of our new life.

I've been pretty impressed with myself (oh no) so far and have been quietly patting myself on the back for awesome time management skills and stellar school performance. This is always a bad sign, isn't it? Anytime I catch myself thinking, "I'm SO AWESOME! Wow!" I'm usually about to get a swift kick to the back of the head.

I love my classes and everything I'm learning. I could not possibly be more enthusiastic about my education. Outside of school and homework, I'm noticing design elements everywhere. My view of the world is changing. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that my enthusiasm and cockiness is monstrous and... premature. For the record I felt very wrong about it all, but tried to talk myself through it and shape it in a way that would be healthy and beneficial. I mean that I don't think I could interview well if I wasn't totally convinced that I was going to rock their world, and so in this way, it's a good thing, because I'd like to get a job someday...

Starting school brings back all kinds of emo feelings. At first, I really struggled with disliking everyone around me. (Sorry, everyone around me!) It's not so bad, now. I've developed a friendly rapport with some and an appreciation for others. Also, some of these youngsters are very good little photoshop tutors.

I have two classes that are each three hours long on Mondays and Wednesdays. In both classes we spend a lot of time learning/talking about design elements seeing them in action. The difference is in the expectations. I guess this could be a lesson of considering my target audience. One instructor is pushing me to be more controlled and deliberate, to simplify and to package and deliver a neat product (though he says he isn't looking for that... his suggestions on how to improve things tell me otherwise). Then, an hour later, in a class that teaches the same things, I have someone else telling me to loosen up, go off the page, and what she doesn't know is that I'm pretty good at THAT... And I'm still trying to challenge myself by applying the NEW things I'm learning, and she thinks I am some neat and clean kind of person who should get messy and explore. And that's okay, and I should do what she wants me to do. It's just really hard to switch gears between these two classes and I feel very much humbled (read: knocked out of la-la land) when made the example of what not to do twice in one class period!

I absolutely love her, by the way. She's from Australia and she has a lovely, subtle accent and soft, melodious voice that is really easy to listen to. I really admire her sense of style, too. Maybe that's why it's hard to be criticized by her--because I think she's really cool. Maybe that's the wrong word. Pushed by her. Encouraged. I'm trying to talk myself through this.

The ice cream on top of the humble pie is that I have a huge blemish on my chin and am trying very hard not to mess with it. If only I could use "spot healing" in real life...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Transit

Yann Tiersen. I am addicted to this music. When I listen to Yann Tiersen, I go on a journey. It's the only time I feel like I might not mind dying because in that moment I feel okay with the whole of the human experience--the joy, the pain, the life so real you can sink your teeth into it. I think about the ugliest moments of life and feel at peace with them. God, real life can be ugly!

Uglier than you ever thought, more beautiful than you ever imagined, and amazing in a completely different way than you expect. I want to lay down on the ground and run my fingers through the grass, feel the weight of each footstep, no more and no less than it is.

I think about my tiny plot of life when I listen to this music. For a second I understand just how brief it is, and instead of feeling its insignificance, I feel... just in awe of all that sweating and filth and bleeding and eating and drinking and... how BIG it is, all that flavor, packed in such a small blip.

I don't know what to make of it.

And then we arrive at the destination, I turn the car off, I get the kids out, we buy smoothies and walk around thinking about tomatoes instead.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Passion of the Christ

So, we finally watched this, and wanted to jot down some thoughts.

I was immediately turned off by the devil in the garden/serpent scene, and all of the demon/Satan appearances, really.

I wasn't bothered by the portrayal of the Sanhedrin.

Jesus could have been more Jewish, though.

The humorous scene with the table made me groan a bit.

Afterward, Jason asked me what I thought. Mostly, the whole time I was watching, I was thinking about how it would be to watch one of my own children be ridiculed, tortured, and killed in such a way, and be able to do nothing to stop it. You want to shield them from pain, dress their wounds, wrap them in cozy blankets and kiss their tears away... The scene where she's kissing his toes was pretty sad.

All in all, I thought it was okay and would have been better without some of the cheesy additions to the story.

What did you think, if you saw it?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mommy Thoughts

I got to spend some time alone with Cullen tonight and I realized how much I miss being alone with him. It was so nice that I actually let him stay up an hour past bedtime. He's so lovely, calm and polite when there's no competition. Sometimes I think maybe he would have been better off as a firstborn, but then I think he would be even more unbearable when he didn't get his way or had to share. I guess I'll keep things the way they are!

Mina had an eye checkup today. Here eyes are at a standstill right now. I really hope her vision doesn't hold her back from anything in life. The (nurse?) said something about wanting to get her to a point where she would be able to drive a car, but that she wouldn't be able to be a pilot... Stuff like that just makes your heart sink a bit even if being a pilot was never in the wishlist.

Right now I'm going through some kind of separation anxiety. Cullen is asleep and Jason took Mina and Leta to a STAR PARTY at the UW Space Place where they got to build Galileoscopes and then look at the stars/planets. They have been so excited about it, but I keep thinking, what if right now Mina is having a meltdown because of a scary bathroom? What if what if what if. I check my phone, wishing for a text, wishing for a picture, wishing for some reassurance when I should relax and think no news means they are having a great time... Right?

Also, I kind of hate missing their experiences. You know what I love, though? Listening to them tell people about what they did/are doing with their daddy. It makes me a bit teary.

Still. I hope they come home soon.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Giant"

Today's Illustration Friday theme is "giant" and this is the first thing that popped into my head.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gifts from a dream woman

I had a dream this morning while I tried to get a little sleep on the couch after the stormy night...

Streets and buildings. A mall. Like the Avenue Mall converted to offices. Colorful yet plain, and somber. Purples and blues and pinks on the walls--but sort of muted, like grey-purple and grey-blue and grey-pink...

I was there looking for a box I'd inherited. I got the message from Jason, I think. I didn't really belong there, I don't think, and I expected to be stopped at some point, but anytime there were people, they were quiet and busy. I went upstairs and somehow found my way to the place where my box was... It was like an old dressing room and had double doors and windows of wood with little slits in them, lots of ornately carved, dark old wood.

Someone knew what I was there for, a woman, who could tell I was sort of lost/out of place. She brought me the box and said she would leave me alone to enjoy opening it. She talked about the woman who left it to me saying she knew no one would appreciate them or use them but hoped that I would somehow. The woman didn't know why the lady favored me but urged me to take them anyway even if I didn't know what to do with them. She said she would leave me alone then and gestured toward a mirror, and left.

When I opened the box I found that it was filled with oval shaped... what were they? They were beautiful and fine with ornate details along the edges... "Head coverings," I knew, suddenly. They were amazing and as I tried each one on I felt transformed as though I understood some woman I didn't know from long ago. They smelled like the most intoxicating perfume. I knew then that she'd loved them. She loved covering her hair. That to her each one was like a special piece of jewelry except more beloved because with it she gave glory to God. She loved being a woman. She loved being mysterious. And somehow she knew I loved being a woman.

Then I pulled out a small pink/red beret with a green "stem". I put it on my head and laughed as I saw red hair and freckles. I loved Strawberry Shortcake when I was a little girl. That little girl was filled with joy at that moment.

"Mom, mom, mom!"


"I SAID, CAN I HAVE SOMETHING TO EAT!" blinkblink... Leta coming into focus...
Drifting off... trying on...


I woke up then but I haven't quite shaken this dream!


I have had other dreams in the past about opening boxes of hats and scarves from people who had died and feeling that they were there with me.

I think maybe this was influenced by 1)eating Indian food Jason brought from his co-worker last night, 2)Reading the book of Esther last night, and 3)recently I really was given a crazy amount of hats...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dreams and Church

Two things today:

1) I've been having vivid dreams every night and thought it might be fun to start a dream drawing/comic diary. I might incorporate it here. Some of them are rather disturbing, though.

2) This is for those of you who go to church: What do you like the most about your church? What do you look for in a church?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Great Exchange

Do you understand what it means when people say that Jesus died for your sins? Does it make sense to you? Does it also make sense that before Jesus did this, people needed to sacrifice animals? What is God's currency? How does this work? I'm sitting here with all of these pieces trying to put this together and so far it's a pile of crap! If you've put it together, lend me a hand. Thanks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This comic isn't very funny.

I had this nightmare over and over from about age 4 to age 7. Feeling lost and abandoned was so terrifying. I was so relieved to find someone I could trust who would help me.

The people who I thought were most trustworthy became monsters.

I still feel this way about many Christians. My childhood nightmare has me always waiting for them to reveal their vampire teeth.

I'm trying to get over it. After all, my beloved family members love Jesus, and they are good people, along with so many of my friends and acquaintances. I'm trying to understand, and let go of this paranoia.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

For Sarah, who needs me to draw her a comic from time to time.

We used to sit for hours drawing comics while out for coffee, and she requested a comic of the spider killing that went down the other day at Chez Samsa.

Yep. I was brave.

Love, yer mom

Today I am thinking about my mother, who makes the best: chocolate chip bars, chicken salad, egg rolls, chicken-broccoli-cheese casserole, toast, grilled cheese, French toast, soup of any kind, and you know? She just does it better, whatever it is.

My mom always liked it when we were weird. Instead of telling me to go change, she would take pictures and chuckle to herself before I left the house in slip-dresses, combat boots, tube socks, holy sweaters, ridiculous hats, satin gloves, whatever else... When I came home with a shaved head, every time, instead of grounding me or lecturing me she'd say, "Well you can thank me for that beautifully shaped head!" When, at fifteen, my boyfriend was full of tattoos and piercings and crayon red hair, she said, "I know that the clean-cut boys can be the worst of all." I remember that conversation well.

She's a cool lady and artist and I hope she's having a good day today!


I'm also thinking of all those other mothers in my life today who all had their part in getting me here. Ladies, thank you!!! Grandmas, step-moms, in-laws, mothers of friends! You are awesome.

I'm thinking of all the people who are missing their moms today.

I'm thinking of all the mothers who are missing their children today.

I'm thinking of all the wonderful women I know who are discovering themselves as mothers.

I'm thinking of all the mothers who aren't yet mothers and hoping...


I'm thinking of my kids, and rejoicing in their presence in my life. I really needed them even though I didn't know it! They have given a depth to every emotion I did not fully understand until the day I became a mother.

Today I am thankful for the mother I have and I'm thankful for the children whose mother I am, and I'm thankful for the amazing husband who made me a mother!

I love you all!
Happy Mother's Day!


Monday, May 03, 2010

Let's talk about COMMUNION.

Do you take communion? Do you understand what it means? Do you think you're literally eating the flesh of Christ?

I think I understand communion now. But I don't think YOU do. BOY, it's easy to feel that way, isn't it? How does your church do communion?

What is the deal with closed communion? That makes me scratch my head. Seriously, people. What an act of supreme snobbery. Is this really a problem? Too many hungry bums coming in off the street or something? What if one of them was Jesus?


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Healthy 6yo Leta

Leta had her six year well child visit today with Dr. Dude. It was so nice to bring a child to the doctor and not have to hold anyone down or explain in five billion ways how something needs to happen. Leta was as happy as could be in pigtails and her favorite dress, drawing pictures in my Moleskine.

She's tall and skinny.

She doesn't have a television in her bedroom and she eats meals with the family. Dr. Dude said somethingsomething about those things being connected with childhood obesity.

He said she's probably getting close to ready to be out of the booster seat in the car (even though she's not eight years old or 80 lbs.) But she's pretty tall... And Mina's even taller... But I've already told the children they must stay in their boosters until they are 8 years old. I think I'm going to have to stick with that because it's what they've accepted, and they like looking forward to those kinds of milestones.

Her back is fine, her hearing is fine, everything is perfectly healthy. I asked about the thing on her finger and he said it was a wart and he wasn't even going to say anything about it and it's nothing to worry about.

He asked me if the doctor I've been seeing told me she was leaving. NO, she didn't. I didn't really know what to do with that information. Nothing to be done I guess but I can't help but feel kind of anxious because my therapist is also going to be done in June and I think I'm just going to be done going to residents/trainees because I don't like this kind of change all that much!

Leta got a book and two stickers for a job well done. No shots.

Hot fudge sundae afterward.

I think she likes going to the doctor.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cerebral Spring

Historically, I have avoided the topic of God/religion. It's a touchy subject. I've heard and seen enough to turn me away from it forever, personally. Don't get all riled up, now... It's just that it has been putting a bad taste in my mouth for a long time. People get in fights over it around dinner tables, in the street, and in the world. Now, I do think we need to fight for things that are important. What good is peace if we're all miserable? Sometimes we need to rock the boat we're in if that boat is going the wrong way. When people fight to make someone's life worse, not better...That bugs me.

I recently asked a pastor about pressure to be perfect. I thought a lot about what he said. He talked about the hypocrisy people see and hear about being a huge factor in turning away from church. So when he makes a mistake, it's not just him making a mistake, it's more people turning away from church. That's not to say that they don't understand that we're all human and we're all sinners... But who wants to be responsible for people turning away from church and was it really worth it to cuss out that ref? (Or whatever)...

Personally, I have a low tolerance for the cheese factor. I'm kind of a snob. I don't like theatrical lighting in church. I don't like it when the person preaching glows or their glasses are sparkling. I don't like forced, somber singing. I also don't like it when churches try to be like some kind of rock concert. Wow, I'm picky. Can I keep going? I will. Church clothes. Perfume! Also, if I hear you "speaking in tongues" I will want to slap you. I don't want to hear about Jesus filling your hole because I'm a TOTAL PERVERT and can't handle statements like that without having to hide my shame.

I'm getting off track here. I was saying how I've avoided the whole topic, and when confronted with it, have gotten by with polite smiles, nods and generic phrases.

Recently, though, I realized something. I WANT to know why people believe what they do. And they WANT to talk about it, I think. Hey! Endless wealth of interesting stuff to talk about! Now instead of feeling like people are trying to force their beliefs on me, and looking for the nearest exit, I ask them about it, and you know? It's been really cool! I'm so thankful for those who have been willing to share this deeply personal, intimate part of them. Your friend, your neighbor, your family member--they have so much more to them than you might think. Stuff they're thinking about and not sharing, that even if you don't agree with, could bring you closer to them and to understanding others in general. I would much rather talk about what Freud said about Moses than the weather.

Now my husband and I are having exciting conversations about something we generally avoided talking about before (differing opinions).

When I first started on this journey, people warned me that others would see it as an opportunity to recruit me. I get that. It's what people do. But here's the thing. I don't think this has been a problem. I'm focusing on you. Tell me your story. Tell me how you feel. Tell me why. Tell me what you know. If I keep asking and keep listening, instead of spouting a bunch of opinionated junk, that whole sales-pitch thing seems to go away. If you don't have an opinion to push against people don't try as hard to sell it that way. It's a more natural, simple, sharing of information.

I want to apologize for being so judgmental before. Maybe I didn't talk about it but I really saw religious people in a certain light that I am ashamed of. It's true, and I want you to know that my eyes are open now and I see that I was wrong. I'm sorry for my ignorance.

I hope I haven't offended too many people with this post. People of earth, keep on being awesome. I love getting to know you.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Would anyone like to share their thoughts/understanding of baptism? The more detailed, the better. Please include where your understanding comes from, church/religious affiliation, and feel free to present your own questions. I can't answer them but I'd like to know what your thoughts are.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hello Springzzzz

With the start of spring I halved my daily dose of Wellbutrin. I was doing alright until a couple of days ago when suddenly I just got so tired, and as each day passes now, I am more tired. I'm sure this is nothing compared to some of the antidepressants out there but man... I am suddenly finding that I hardly have the stamina to type out a paragraph in email, and by the end of the day I just feel sad and sort of confused.

I'm torn between just wanting to get it over with because it's bad, and wanting to wean slowly because it's bad. For the next week I'll just take one every other day, and the next week none at all, and so... For the next couple of weeks I am probably going to drop off the face of the earth because I'm not really good company.

See you on the flipside.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

List Madness

Back in high school my friends and I really liked making ridiculous lists. Usually short ones while out for coffee.

However, one winter, I--with the help of many friends many times--made a list of 705 things to be happy about and 705 things to be depressed about.

I'm reading the latter and cracking up.

150: Chester Copperpot
152: Golf
158: When what you thought was black ends up being brown
175: Stuff floating in your water
177: When Full House makes you cry
183: Ballpoint pens
209: Fear of sleep
323: "The nothing"
416: Ketchup juice
435: School spirit

Just to be fair I'll name some from the happy list:

62. New socks (still one of my very favorite things)
101. Cute old ladies
125. Pink fuzzy PJs
272. Kurt's seasoning (on your mother-in-law)
325. Happy little foothills
558. No naughty cats (why was this funny? I think it had something to do with Dave Bogan)
574. Hamburger fantasies

There were actually a lot of things that made both lists. I think probably most things in life a person could be happy or sad about.

You know, like zoos, or money, or birds at dawn.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Questions, Questions, Questions

ah... hmm... hmm...

I am paralyzed with fear of wording things in a less than sensitive way. I am terrified to ask people in my life about their beliefs and demand explanations. I have questions that are offensive to people.

I'm not ready to write about it but I need to get that hideous picture of me off of the top of the page.


Here is one for you who read the bible: Do you have a favorite bible? A favorite version? I have seven and they are all pretty different when you get down to details. I think many of you probably have a lot more than that.

I went out for coffee with a pastor I know yesterday. I looked at his bible and was strangely jealous. It was obviously well "loved" and full of unintelligible notes. I wanted to know what version it was but I'm not sure there was room for one more question in that conversation.


I know a lot of people who talk about being spiritual and have sort of a vague idea of what they kind of sort of believe. I mean, I think most people might fit into this category.

I'm pretty sure I understand what athiests believe. That's easy to understand. What I want to know is, those of you who have other STRONG beliefs, what makes you so sure? And did you always feel that way or did you become that way? Was there any rational thought behind it or something you just felt? It's hard to ask these questions without worrying that people with think I'm trying to poison them with doubt or something.

I just want to understand people a little more.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inside peek at our very private ceremony

Really Jason? You want to marry this girl? ... Here I am inebriated at the Samsa Family Christmas. Do you think anyone noticed?

We had to go through metal detectors to get married in Jail. Just kidding, it was in the courthouse... Which is also jail, in Appleton, WI. This is me doin' a Dew before the ceremony. What a classy bride!!!


My mom forced me to hold this bouquet.


I surprised Jason by changing my name.

Jason shoots celebratory rubber bands and I try to hold down my Dew. Look at these KIDS!!!

It's been a pretty wild ride. Our first year of marriage brought first time parenthood of an extremely difficult and cute baby and having to search for a new job...

The second year we moved to Madison, then moved again to a different apartment, and found out we were pregnant AGAIN...

The third year we had Leta, and after that everything is a little fuzzy.

Jason, we've had our ups and downs like anyone else but I mean it when I say I think our marriage is better than ever now and with each new day, and I am always impressed with how you have handled it all. I'm looking forward to many more years with you!


Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mary's Family Restaurant

Mary's Family Restaurant in Appleton, WI has magical chicken dumpling soup. When I moved to Madison it was one of the things I craved every time I was sick. I didn't WANT homemade soup. I didn't want soup from a can, either. Heck, I didn't want soup with actual chicken in it! And I REALLY didn't want it to be a natural color. I wanted neon yellow dumpling soup from Mary's.

My mom used to buy it for me and bring it home and it was one of the things she did that I will always appreciate and remember fondly. Food is love!

Today I'm thankful that Mary's is still there after all these years because today my friend Kelly brought me a big bucket of The Soup. (THANKS KELLY!) I haven't tried it yet, but you know, I'm just glad it exists!

There are so many places and things from my childhood that are disappearing and I love finding out that some things haven't changed. Even as I become more mature and discerning with my soup, and really prefer my own soup that I've lovingly made from scratch, there will always be something magical about that electric yellow Mary's chicken dumpling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bouncing off the Walls

I go through phases where I have very little impulse control. Everything is interrupted by the irrepressible need to do something... I think of something and must act on it immediately, but then whatever I'm acting on gets interrupted by some other thing I must act on immediately... My life is USUALLY like this, but in a more zombified state. Typical mom-ness.

The difference is that right now I feel like my eyes are bugging out of my head and I'm grinning maniacally, bouncing all around like a monkey. I like it, but it can be embarrassing and I annoy myself a great deal!


Also, I have a staring problem. But only if you don't stare back.


Do you have tricks for staying focused or for self restraint?

P.S. Haircut day. I love haircut day! Good job, me, for getting a haircut. Oh, oh yeah, and good job, Lowen, for cutting my hair.

P.P.S. Yesss it's finally kid bedtime!!! Grown-up party time! Woohoo!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Illustration Friday--"Muddy"

Muddy Thoughts

I used to describe my thoughts as muddy quite often. It's a state that I really can't describe any other way. When I hear that word, I always imagine an opaque body of water where you can't really make out anything that's floating around in there, until there is absolute calm and quiet and the dust has a chance to settle...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Eczema on the face

Cullen and I took Mina to the doctor today because she's having some eczema problems on her face. Well, all over, really, but I can treat the rest of her body. I can't put triamcinolone on her face. Dr. Dude prescribed desonide. Very interesting, I know.

We also talked about the bed-wetting. He doesn't think it's time to worry yet but the first thing to do is have Mina put her sheets in the basket when they're wet. Not as a punishment, but because as a seven year old she is capable of taking care of some things herself. He prescribed desmopressin for sleepovers or trips to grandma's or whatever... [Mom is thinking: too bad she didn't have that last weekend...]

She'll have another blood test after eight more weeks of eating gluten.

Wow, aren't trips to the doctor fascinating? They are when you want to look back and figure out when who had what going on.

Good night, all.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Last weekend we got the sad news about Jason's step-mom, Debra.

Debra K. Samsa, (Hagstrom, aka Pintar), found peace on Saturday morning, January 23, 2010, at the age of 53.

My heart goes out to the family. Words just can't express the heartache when I think about Jason's dad and step-sister Sonia, and so, so many other people who are missing her right now.

Right now I am taking a small break from the support role to say a few personal words about her.

I would like to say how much and how obvious it was that she loved the kids. Her face lit up when she was around the grandkids and when she talked about her third-grade class, and all the fun projects they did or that she was excited to do. She always kept me company at family gatherings and I felt like the sarcastic brunettes in the corner, united through marriage to Samsa men, like it was a very exclusive club. ;) It was always a comfort that she seemed to want to sit with me!

Deb, you're beautiful and thanks for all the wonderful things you did in your life. You made a difference to so many and the world was a better place because of you. You are missed!

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm working on another hat

Pictures soon.

So far it's the comfiest, coziest one I've made!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Breaking the silence

Bits of tid.

1. For the last week our dinners have included gluten. Mina is pretty thrilled about this and tells me every night how yummy our dinner is. I love this.

2. This morning was the big annual IEP meeting and I think it went rather well. This is where you get together with a bunch of people (Social worker, classroom teacher, sp. ed. teacher, physical therapist and occupational therapist were there this morning) and write up the goals for the next school year. It's a pretty big deal. I was 45 minutes early this morning! I have a disease, truly. But I got to sit in the teacher's lounge, drinking soda and coffee and eating candy. Teachers know how to live, man.

3. The physical therapist told me that after she got a perm Mina asked, "Why does your hair look like a blob?" Thankfully the PT has a sense of humor! She also told her she thinks PT is fun. The PT asked, "Did you tell your mom that?" and she replied, "My mom doesn't have to know everything." !!! Indeed.

4. This morning Leta asked for eggs for breakfast. I made the eggs and she hugged me and thanked me for them. I should make eggs every morning. Better yet, Jason should make eggs for Leta when he makes his eggs! :D


Monday, January 04, 2010

So I decided to make a hat

...out of a fleece blanket I got from one of those discount carts at Woodman's and some lace from a shirt that was damaged.

To my family: Sorry I have still not mopped the floor. ;)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Give Me Strength...

Sometimes, when I have been listening to screaming for too long, I just don't know what to do, and I feel like everything is impossible, that there is no answer, that it will never end, and that if you asked me what one plus one was, not only could I not do the math but I wouldn't be able to understand your words at all. It's the most horrible sensory overload. I can't escape it. I can't close my eyes or plug my ears and I can't even leave. We're all stuck here, to listen to the screaming, at the mercy of a seven year old child's mood.

It is slightly stressful...

Mina, you are hilarious and brilliant, but oh my, you are a handful!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

I got my Christmas wish, and my grandma is out of the hospital and back on the computer where she belongs! Hi grandma!

I was going to do a "Year in review", but since it's the end of the first decade of the second millennium I thought I'd do the decade in review...

I broke out of relationship jail.
I cried at my mom's wedding.
My brother graduated from MIAD and we all stayed at the Knickerbacker in Milwaukee.
I was homeless for a month and a half or so... (aka stayed with friends)
I moved into Virginia Village where I paid $425/mo. for a one bedroom apartment with fake wood paneling and an odor, but it was MINE! And it was glorious.
I quit my job at Plexus.

I got my first computer, a hand-me-down from my mom which was a hand-me-down from my grandma.
I got a job as a "copy girl" at an accounting firm.
I got a job as a cake decorator.
I got a job as a barista.
I broke up with my boyfriend and moved in with Sarah, Jamison and their baby, Chloe.
I turned 21 and drank a LOT.
I started dating this guy, Jason, and we drank a lot together.
I quit decorating cake.
I babysat Chloe.
I went to school.
I fell in love.
I went camping for the first time in Washington state and British Columbia.

I got married to that Jason guy. :)
Eventually I even moved in with him...
I was pregnant and it's kind of a blur, but I remember that I couldn't eat chicken, eggs, garlic, tomatoes... There was plenty of all-day sickness... And I wanted to eat mustard and toothpaste pretty much all the time.
I had baby Mina and felt like I woke up from what I thought I knew as life to discover something much more intense. I cried in my rocking chair in the wee hours of the morning because I almost couldn't handle how much I LOVED her.

Jason got a job in Madison and we moved our little family to a flat in a hip neighborhood.
We ate lots of grilled meat.
We moved to a townhouse. Shortly after that, the house two doors down from our flat exploded. Shortly after that, a small plane crashed near our new neighborhood!
Jason and I stood up in my brother's wedding at Devil's Lake.
We got pregnant with Leta.
Mina turned ONE.
I took a French class and my prof. was also expecting her second child around the same time.

Mon frere and his new bride joined the Peace Corps and moved to Zambia.
I spoke broken French in a ridiculous accent to baby Mina and made her laugh a lot.
Leta was born!
I saw my dad for the first time in many years!
Mina had her first trip to the ER for her first set of stitches. We were completely freaked out by the hole in her face and the gushing blood.
Mina turned TWO.
We visited my grandparents in Florida.

I aced my chemistry class.
Leta turned ONE!
We attended Jason's 10 year HS reunion.
Jason diagnosed me with Obsessive-Compulsive Furniture Rearranging Disorder (OCFRD)
Mina had lots of doctor appointments and tests. She had to stop eating wheat. She had terrible eczema. She was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and put on the waiting list for her medicaid slot in order to get funding for therapy. She was on the waiting list for one year.
Mina turned THREE.
Mina had her second trip to the ER for stitches in her face.

Leta turned TWO!
Shannon and Laney returned from Zambia!
Mina turned FOUR.
Mina started working with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project.
We bought our house. My grandma warned, "New house, new baby..." I told her that was CRAZY TALK...

We celebrated five years of marriage.
We got pregnant with Cullen!
Leta turned THREE.
I spent lots of time vomiting until I started taking Zofran, the modern miracle.
I celebrated Cullen's second trimester with two trips to the ER and I got to see LOTS of pictures of him.
We visited my family in Florida.
We bought a MINIVAN.
Mina started preschool.
Mina turned FIVE.
Cullen was born!

I started running.
Leta turned FOUR.
My brother gave me the Panama hat and kicked off "The Panama Hat Years".
Leta started preschool.
Mina started Kindergarten.
Mina "graduated" from therapy, turned six, had a tooth pulled.
Cullen turned ONE!
I had a wee nervous breakdown and started using a light box and taking Wellbutrin...
Mina got glasses.

Boy oh boy. This year was... I'm not sure I'm ready to reflect on this year, actually! Let's just say it started horribly and with lots of elbow grease it really turned around and I am so grateful for my husband and family.
I decorated some cakes, too. ;)


2010, I think, is going to be a great year. I'm going to devote time every day to creativity. I don't want to let another day slip by where the only thing I did was clean something that's going to be dirty again tomorrow. I'd also like to continue trying to tell people how much they mean to me more instead of just thinking that someday I should.

This year, I am going to savor the sound of Cullen's little feet running away from me, and the way he giggles impishly when he turns out the light and closes the door when I'm trying to hang up his clothes. I'm going to be generous with love. I'm going to ask for help when I need it. I'm going to talk about the things I'm thinking about.