Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Most Negative Post I've Ever Written

The New Year is approaching. This is a time of....what?....of renewal?...of looking back?...of saying to yourself, "Why the hell am I here and when is this going to be over?"

There's just too much...too much stuff...too much to do...too much to accomplish, with not enough time to appreciate any of it.

Perhaps I can learn to simplify. The panic to simplifying is the ever-gnawing question, "But what if you're SUPPOSED to do this (or that or even the other thing) for the betterment of all of God's creation (or at least some of them).

I'm struggling here...and I have no right to.
I think I'm having a mid-life crisis, but I can't afford a new convertible.
I want to just watch for awhile, like the fly on the wall.
I want time to stop so that I can figure things out.
I don't want to let anyone down.
I think I understand my mother more today than I ever have before.

I want to live life to the fullest, but I don't know how to live each MOMENT to the fullest and in order to do the former, it makes sense that you have to be able to do the latter.

I always thought I'd be able to grow older with enthusiasm, but now I think I was wrong. All I can muster is growing older with confusionism.

Pray for me during this New Year and I'll pray for you.


Monday, December 20, 2010

The Storymatic

Dare I allow myself to embrace a dream come true without waiting for the bomb to drop?

We all have different reasons or even the same reasons for wanting children. Truth be told, the reason I wanted children the most is so that I would have people to play games with -I mean good old-fashioned games where the family sits around and shares some good laughs.

In my children's younger years, it was really tough to find a game that we could all enjoy - and getting John to even THINK about playing Candyland was a task too large to think about. Then came all of the video craziness and computer games and little gadgets which multiplied faster than I could master them...alas, my dream of family games came to an end.

I set my heart to enjoying all of the other wonderful reasons to have children.

Last night my dream came back to life. I picked up this game called, The Storymatic. I was really only going to use it as a prompt to write each day. Katie Rose also loves to write and I invited her to share this game with me. The chair by the floor to ceiling window is where I keep the "storybook". Anyone can play the game at any time.

This is how you play: pick two gold cards - on these two cards are prompts to help you create your main character. You then pick two copper cards...these help develop your story line. Once you have your cards, set the timer for 15 minutes and just write away, using whatever comes into your mind.

Back to last night...after dinner, Katie Rose suggested that we all play the game, using the same cards. I was skeptical because I didn't think anyone else would want to play...but I was wrong. The entire family wanted to play. The paper and pens were distributed and the timer was ready. The cards we all had to work with were: Gold (tattletale, alien disguised as a human) and Copper (Talent Show, unclaimed baggage). Go! For 15 solid minutes we all wrote furiously. Snickers and giggles could be heard once in a while. "How much time is left?" was asked a couple of times.

When the 15 minutes were up, we each had to read our stories aloud. Although we all had used the same prompts, the stories were vastly different. We laughed and we laughed and we laughed. Mickey could barely get through reading his story, he was laughing so hard.

I was very impressed by the education my children have been getting, thus far. Gracey's story was very well-developed with all of the parts included...conflict, rising action, a logical ending. Johnny's story used examples and flowery language. Katie used a lot of detail in her story. Mickey used the word "poo" a lot in his story, but there were parts of it that made sense. I used the word "queried" in my story and John wrote about a guy with a really big forehead.

I hope we do this again. It was great fun and I was able to see my children in a new way, through their imagination.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

And Snow It Begins

And Snow It Begins

The first thing I did when I saw the picture outside was smile...well...and giggle a little bit. (Don't tell anyone, because I am a snow-hater and it would ruin my reputation).

The first thing I though about was, "Who should I wake up first?" Something like the first snowfall of the season needs to be shared. Thinking again, I realized that this had the potential to be a very peaceful and beautiful morning all on my own. It dawned on me that Katie Rose and Mickey would want to put on their snow pants right away to go outside and play in it. (The snowpants are still buried in the closet with the rest of the winter stuff - much too much work for me first thing in the morning). John would just be upset because I woke him up early - after all, he's seen the first snow fall of the season a million times. Gracey....now Gracey would LOVE it with the additional benefit that she would take a look at it, appreciate it and go right back to bed, leaving me to bask in my peaceful morning.

I went into Gracey's dark room, told her I wanted her to see something, grabbed her hand, told her to close her eyes and led her upstairs to the main floor of the house, where floor-to-ceiling windows surround us. When we reached the family room, I instructed her to open her eyes.

She did not disappoint me. I think in her tired, sleepy, teenage way, she was delighted. She commented, "It's so nice," in her lilty, happy, little girl voice. We stood there, together, looking out at the snow for about one minute and fifteen seconds.

"Well...I'm going back to bed now," she stated.
"Okay...sweet dreams," I replied.

She went back downstairs to her room and I made my way to the kitchen to make coffee.

Life is good.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb10 Prompt #1

I joined a group called Reverb10. I know I have to figure out how to put a button and stuff on my blog, but until I can get help from my daughter, I don't want to fall behind.

This is a group that follow prompts each day in December and use that prompt to creatively grow.

Dec. 1st prompt was to take your year (2010) and encapsulate it into one word and explain why you chose that word.

The word I chose is "unsettled" and I crafted this piece using stuff I had around the house. Now, I joined this group yesterday, the 2nd, and so I had to hurry and do the first prompt. It is a bit unfinished, but then again, so is my life, so it is very appropriate to describe my life in 2010.

Okay, well....that was fun. On to prompt #2 which asks us to create about what keeps us from "creating." I'm going to do a piece on the snooze button. But before that, I'm going to time myself making a rosary. :) I love my life.


Price Check on Tampons in Aisle 3!

While at work yesterday, I experienced on of the most embarrassing things ever. The more the situation escalated, the more I made it worse. Have you ever had one of those moments?

The front doorbell to school rang. As I looked at my monitor, I saw two men - one who was familiar (the Hot Lunch Delivery guy) and one who wasn't familiar, but didn't look scary or anything. I buzzed the door open and they walked in.

(There are times throughout my day at work when bells ring all over the place. Teachers, students, parents, and other people surround my desk, asking questions while the phone rings and the PA buzzes) All I can do is take one thing at a time in order. This was one of those moments.

The Hot Lunch Guy approached my desk first, so I took care of him. I signed his delivery sheet, exchanged some pleasantries and he was off.

I looked up to to the next guy and said, "Yes sir, what can I do for you?"
The guy said, "Well, I'm not a dude. I'm a woman, but that's okay. I hear that all the time."

MORTIFIED! That's what I felt. The world started spinning in circles. All I could do was lay my head on my desk and apologize over and over. I thought to myself, "I need to make this woman feel good. I need her to be happy with who she is. I need to let her know that I was the one in error, not her."

So I did what any other normal person would do. I jumped up, ran around the desk and took her into a great big bear hug that lasted for probably longer than was warranted. In that hug, I was trying to say how sorry I was and how insensitive I was and trying to let her see that it was just so crazy at my desk that I didn't pay attention.

I finally released her from my guilt hug. She asked the question that she came into the school to ask in the first place. "Where's the AA meeting?" (Well...for those of you who know my background, I was doubly honored to be hugging her, but embarrassed about my error and so maybe I was overcompensating a little bit. I told her that it was in the church basement and directed her on how to get there. At that frenzied moment, I realized that the meeting wasn't in the church basement; it was in the parish office basement. I had to be sure.

"Mary," I called to the adjoining office, "Where''s the AA meeting? In the church basement or the parish office basement?"
Mary can't hear over the noise, so she says, "What?!"
Mary comes out of her office. "What?"
"Where's the AA meeting? The church basement or the parish office basement?
She answers, "It's in the church office basement. She calmly gives my new friend the directions on how to get there.

I give my new friend one last hug and tell her she's beautiful and off she goes.

Here is the ever important, always-to-remember lesson of that 5 minute exchange...Look people in the eye. Know who you are talking to. Don't rely on what you think you know. Take the time to treat each human being as a creation of God. Take the time...time...time.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Plant in the Office

I'm not really the type of person that notices dead plants. They just aren't in my radar. That's why, when a coworker commented on the very sad looking plant in the corner of the front office at school, I simply acknowledged her noticings and went about my business.

An hour or so passed and another co-worker came by the desk and commented on the wilty-ness of the same plant. At that point I found it a little bit odd that I don't notice plants that are not doing their best. I, again, acknowledged my co-worker's noticings and again went about my business.

A third co-worker passed by and said, "That plant really needs to be watered. It looks very sad." I answered, "People keep coming by and saying that."

In that moment my scientific mind took over and I formulated a hypothesis and a theory...or at least a carefully-planned-out, secret, blind study that no one but me would know about. How many people would walk by that plant, comment on it, yet not do anything about it?

So far three different people had commented, yet not watered.

(Let's put aside, for the moment, the fact that I did nothing. I imagine people assume that because the plant is in my "jurisdiction", I have the care-giving responsibilities for it and they probably simply don't want to interfere in my jurisdiction. Aside from that potential reasoning, it's interesting to me that people do much "talking" but not so much "doing.")

I left work for the day. When I returned the next day, I found that the plant had miraculously been rejuvenated. The leaves were shiny and perky. Ugh! My experiment was over too soon. I barely got to do any data research and spread sheet calculations.

At lunch time, Vinnie walked in, went to the plant and said, "Ahhh. She looks much better than she did yesterday. Her leaves were all wilting and now they're perking up." Vinnie is a man who belongs to our parish and comes in each day to volunteer to serve the little kiddies hot lunch. He does it out of the kindness of his heart. He does not get paid, he is there each day - rain or shine, and he is one of those unsung heroes of our school that, like the plant, often goes unnoticed.

How fitting that he is the one who, more than likely, found a common ground with the plant and gave it the water it was thirsting for. How fitting that this man, this volunteer, took matters into his own hands and DID something about it, instead of just commenting on it.

Today, I challenge myself and you, to "do" something - don't plan it, don't get a committee together, don't talk to others about it, just "do" it because it needs to be done. Isn't that the kind of people we want to be?


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Epiphany

Thank you, Cathy Luft Goll, for your comment about Gracey being a strong independent woman, who at least had a rationale for not wanting to do what I wanted her to do. This is the basis of my epiphany.

As we go through life, we are encouraged to be independent citizens of whatever land in which we are a part. As independent citizens, we are encouraged to use our unique gifts and talents for the good of the entire community. This makes for a well-balanced life for not just ourselves, but for others.

As each of us learns to be independent, we go through phases of learning, whereby, we are called on to make a choice - me or them. Early on in our learning, we most often will choose "me". It's natural and it's also why we have those more wise to steward us until we can get to a point where all of our decisions are weighed against the "me" or "them" choice, with the "good of all" being the best option - no matter what it costs us individually.

Back to the Gracey situation from yesterday. Gracey wasn't at the "good for all" place in her learning yet...she is embedded in the "what do I have that is unique?" aspect of her learning. In this test of decision making yesterday, she passed with flying colors!

I, on the other hand, failed miserably at the test, because I took my stewardship role and made it a dictatorship, ordering the "subjects" to do my will merely because I said so.

I was not wrong, in wanting the family to be united in look for the church directory. I know, from experience that 10 years down the road, people will look to the pictoral directory as a way to reference things like, births, deaths, colleges, life moments, etc. I know that I use the directory to refresh my mind as to "whose mom that was", when I hear of a loss in the parish...or "when did that little Jimmy get old enough to be in college?" The purpose of the directory went beyond Gracey's understanding. She hadn't experienced the directory like I had; therefore, she had no reason to simply do what I wanted her to do without explanation. Or did she?

How often are we led to do things that we simply don't want to do, knowing in our heart of hearts that we have a darn good reason to not do them? How often do we take our own road, when those who love us and are stewarding us out of love, tell us to take a different avenue? It happens pretty often in my own life.

We MUST trust our steward! It's the only way. We don't know the big picture. We may think we do, but we really don't. We aren't that learned yet. Thank God that he is a wise steward and not one that rants and raves about obeying Him simply because "He's the mom" and "He's in charge."

If I had to do it over, I would have tried to explain a little more to Gracey why it was important for our family to have a united front. I don't think this would have changed her mind in the least, but at least she could have progressed in her learning in a more positive way. As it was, I "abandoned" her by saying, "I don't like you, anymore." That's not stewarding out of love.

Once again, God has taught me a valuable lesson through a suffering moment.....or it could have been that I just forgot to take my meds that day.


Saturday, November 27, 2010


I had a snapping moment yesterday. Here's what happened:
Our family was scheduled to have our family portrait taken for the church directory. I ordered all in the family to wear any combination of black/white/jeans. I helped Mickey, I tried to help Katie Rose but she couldn't get over the fact that she had misplaced her black leggings and really couldn't get beyond that. Everyone else was on their own.
When it was just about time to leave, Gracey came downstairs in purple pants and a black sweater with aqua zigzags all over it.
Me: Nope
Her: Why not? It's black. I don't get why we all have to match anyway.
Me: Wear your black pants and come upstairs. We'll find something else in my closet.
Her: I'm wearing this sweater.
Me: No, you're not.
Her: Yes, I am.
Me: No, you are not.
Her: Yes. Yes, I am.

I have not ever seen this kind of defiance in her outright. It's always been more subtle. It was a very interesting turn in our relationship. At that point, the discussion was no longer about what she was going to wear. It was about who was the boss. It was time to remind her that I am the mom and she is merely the daughter.

I was going to do my darndest to be the kind mom who gently eased her into doing what I wanted her to do. I mustered up all of my mommy skills from when she was a little girl.
Me: Come on. Those black pants that I gave you are in the laundry room. I just folded them earlier today. (Heaven forbid that she do her own laundry - okay...disregard that last comment. That was just my mean side coming out adding to my anger)
Her: I think by us wearing matching things, we are giving the people who look at the church directory the wrong impression of who we really are as a family. We aren't matchy-matchy.
Me: It doesn't matter, at this point, what you think. I'm the mom and you will wear what I want you to wear. Moms are in charge of pictures - no one else. So come upstairs and we'll see what we can find.
Her: Okay, I'll put stuff on, but I'm NOT going to wear it. It's just a waste of time making me try your stuff on.

We go upstairs. I point out some things hanging in my closet.
Me: How about this?
Her: Nope.
Me: This?
Her: Nope
Me: What about this one? It's...
Her: Nope. I'm not wearing it.

At this point, John comes in, looks at his watch at declares that we have to go. We are going to be late. I pleadingly look into his eyes, put my hands up and gesture to him that Gracey isn't wearing what she's supposed to wear and is refusing my order.

John: Oh, just let her wear whatever she wants. We're going to be late.

Really? I mean, really? Does he not see in that split moment that all I was trying to accomplish has just flown out the window?

That's when it happened. That's when I snapped. I stormed out of the closet, got my coat, told everyone to get into the car and I was eerily silent for the drive to the church...until...until...SHE decided to say:
"I don't why this is such a big deal."

Snapping Speech by Diane Dolan
(Imagine I'm saying this in loud words) THIS is why it's a big deal. I am the mother. YOU are the daughter. Pictures are the MOM'S realm...NOT the daughter's. YOU are only sixteen. I am the boss of YOU. THAT'S why this is such a big deal. I don't like you anymore. I love you, but I don't like you.

I will continue with the epiphany I had while praying about this situation this morning, because it stayed with me for a long time and I talked about it for hours afterward, commiserating with my sisters-in-law, who shared similar experiences.

I'd continue now, but my husband is hovering, wanting me to get the house ready for a showing in 1 1/2 hours from now. But seriously....check back because the epiphany makes this entire thing worthwhile.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Sleeping In Joke

I woke up this morning at 5:30am. I LOVE waking up that early, because it gives me a goodly enough time to reflect on my life before beginning the "real" day (the one in which reflection becomes fleeting, at best).

As I was headed downstairs to start coffee, I had a thought - an idea really - and decided to act on it. I went into Mickey's room and turned on the light. "Mickeyyyyyy. It's time to wake up." I ran my fingers through his mussed up hair. "Wake up, buddy-boy." I gently shook his shoulder and he began to move. I could just make out one of his eyeballs as he struggled to open his eyes. I shook him again. "Come on, Bud. It's the last day of school before vacation. Time to wake up."

(When I wake the children up, it is understood that I won't leave them alone until a) they show me their eyeballs or b) they give me a thumbs up)

He brought his hand out from under the covers and gave me the "thumbs up". That's when I let him in on my little joke. "Just kidding. You can sleep in for another hour."

In his sleepy voice, not really knowing what to say, he says, "You rascal".

I turned off his light and continued downstairs to make my coffee. That was fun.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fried Green Pickle?

Last Monday, Nov. 8, 2010, I woke up from a night's sleep, groggy, making coffee, having a cigar. After checking my email, my facebook and generally following my morning routine, I went upstairs, showered, put makeup on and tried to figure out what I was going to wear.

I pride myself and dressing "different", but hopefully in a cool way - not so much of a crazy bag lady way. I chose, that morning, green tights, a vintage dress of turquoise, green and black. I finished the ensemble off with a green blazer and a scarf. I think I chose boots. After I'm dressed, I walk downstairs to give the children their two minute warning.

That's when I see that I have a new text message on my phone. I would like to share that text message with you.
"I haven't spoken to my beautiful mother in a long time, and me and Chass are talking about what a wonderful inspiration you are. I love you! Thanks for being you:)"

This text is from my son.

Well, my heart is full and giddy and I'm smiling and just in awe of how someone's words can make such a difference in one's outlook on the day.

That's when Gracie comes upstairs, takes a look at me and says, "You look like Snookie."
I ask who Snookie is. "She's on (I don't remember the show). For Halloween she dressed up as a fried green pickle. That's what you look like...a friend green pickle."

Wha?....oh yeah?....well let me read this text that your brother sent me. I read her the text from Johnny. She just looks at me like "what does that have to do with anything?"

Oh yeah?......well....(I think real hard about how to respond and this is what I come up with).

"I guess we know who my favorite child is, don't we?"

The End.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A First

The other day, I was helping out Katie Rose with her baby sitting duties. She had rehearsal and I took her charges for her. The children are 8, 6 and 3. I was walking them home from school. The two younger children sat in the wagon as I pulled and the older child walked along side.

We stopped at the park, swung on the swings, enjoyed the fresh air, threw twigs into the creek over the bridge and generally had a fabulous time.

As we headed home, we had to cross a busy street, whereby a crossing guard waited to usher us. It was a busy street, near a railroad track, so we had to wait a very long time before our light turned green.

We took up conversation with the female crossing guard.

She began conspiratorially, whispering almost (as if she and I had a secret thing in common), "In a couple of months I'M going to be a grandmother, too."

(Too? TOO? - as in "as well as?" I wear glasses and all. I had a long coat on with high heels. I must have had a "fresh air" kind of smile on my face. But really? A grandmother?)

My reply? "Wow, that's great. Where do you get your hair colored?"


Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Social Studies Test

On Wednesday night, Katie Rose whined that she had to take a Social Studies Test the next day and she needed help studying. First of all, I hate studying on the night before AND I hate it when Katie Rose waits until the night before to study because she is VERY crabby and nothing goes well.

I ask her, what can I do to help her study? She says that I can read her some questions. This would be fine except that I would have no idea if she was getting the answers right or not and in her "night-before-studying" crabbiness, I knew it wouldn't go well.

"Give me the book. What chapter are you on?"

"Mommmmmm...I HATE it when you have to read the book to study."

"Well, how else am I going to learn the information so that I can help you study?"


The chapter to be studied was on the French and Indian War, the Stamp Act, other acts, The Boston Tea party, General Pitt, General Wolfe, George Washington and stuff like that.

I began to read the chapter out loud, but assigned roles to the big names in the story. Gracey represented France, Johnny was Spain, Mickey was Britian and Katie Rose was the Native Americans. I got to be Washington, John was Benjamin Franklin and so on and so forth. Pretty soon Mickey was in on the action and we were all getting quite emotionally involved in the history.

After a couple of hours, it was time for bed. We had all had a good time and I learned some pretty interesting information. I was curious as to how I would fare on the test, if I had to take it.

Seeing as I work at the school, I went to the SS teacher during Katie's Social Studies period and asked if it would be okay for me to take the test with the students. She agreed and the students were sort of excited.

I finished the test - it was harder than I thought it would be. There were two essay questions and some extra credit stuff.

I turned in the test when I was finished and as the students prepared to go to their next class, many asked what I had answered for certain questions - comparing to see if we answered the same or different. I learned through one of these discussions that I had totally mixed up The Townshend Acts and The Intolerable Acts. Bummer!

I saw the SS teacher later in the day and eagerly asked, "How'd I do on the test?"
"Geesh. You're just like one of the kids. I haven't graded them yet."

I arrived at work this morning with the graded test on my desk. I got a 90%! Katie Rose was excited for me. Mickey was hoping I'd get an "F", but when I told him that I never hoped he got an "F" on a test, why would he want me to get an "F", he relented and was happy for my 90%. Now, 90%, in our school, is only a B. I knew I had mixed up some stuff, so I knew I wasn't going to get 100% and it was really interesting to look over the test and see where I had gone right and where I had gone wrong. (On one question, I put down two answers, because I couldn't remember what the answer was) A note in red writing from the teacher said, "Mrs. Dolan, you have to choose only one answer."

All to say, it was a fun experience. The other students were excited to find out what I had received on the test and I think it was good for them to hear that I thought that the test was harder than what I had imagined. I hope it encouraged them in that they saw how much fun test taking could be.

My only fear in this exercise was that Katie Rose would not do as well as I had done on the test....but it turned out that I didn't need to worry. She got a 103%.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Elevator moment

Most of you know, because I talk about it all of the time, that I had the privilege of meeting Amy Grant last Tuesday, thanks to the generosity of my friend, Tracey - she's the one next to Amy - not the one next to Amy that is me, but the other one next to Amy.

Kim, Tracey and I used to sing sometimes together at church. We hadn't seen each other for some time, so this was an extra special fellow-shipping in addition to meeting someone that had such an impact on my life when I was a teenager.

Before we arrived at the venue, we had to park the car - Kim drove. The closest spot to park in the parking garage was the 11th floor. After parking, we made our way to the elevator to descend to the main level.

It was when we walked into the elevator that I decided to make a silly comment. "Wow, is our hair all the same color?" Tracey replied, "I think mine and Kim's are similar, but your's is lighter." We all faced the elevator doors, in "elevator mode", as people do and we chatted some more about our hair, how we get it done, where we get it done, how often we get it done. After a few minutes, it finally dawned on us that the elevator car wasn't moving.

Tracey calmly reached over and pushed the down button. We were all so busy talking about our blonde hair, that no one had pushed the button for the elevator to go down.

It was a moment....a blonde moment.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

I want to, I really do

I want to blog, I really do, but I want to blog blogworthy stuff and my mind is a whirlwind of stuff, but not so much blogworthy stuff.

So for now, I'll just share the story that my sister shared on facebook.

I had to pick Mickey up from an engagement. I was a little late.

Mickey: Mom! Do you know how long I have been waiting for you to pick me up? FIFTEEN MINUTES!

Me: Mickey! Do you know how long I waited for you to come out of my vagina? NINE MONTHS!

so there.

Monday, September 20, 2010


When Mickey first started watching wrestling and wanted to talk about it non-stop, we (the family) laughed at him. "Don't you know wrestling is fake?" "It's all stupid." "Why are you spending money on those stupid wrestling figures?" "One day you should go and see a "real" wrestling event." Laugh, laugh, laugh....the entire family gave him a hard time about it.

He took it all in stride, but I remembered a story that John told me about his father. John was into magic at Mickey's age. He always bothered his family, showing them tricks, over and over and over. I can only imagine how boring this must have been for them. It came time for his 8th grade trip (a family tradition whereby each child gets to choose where they want to go upon completion of the 8th grade). John chose to go to a magic convention. His father took him to wherever it was and set him free at the convention. John loved it and had a blast, but to me the story was missing something. Burt had dropped him off at the convention, but didn't attend with him.

I began to feel a little sorry for Mickey - sticking to his guns amongst the teasing from those who are supposed to love him the most. He really wanted to attend this Night of Champions event. I decided to work with him and make it happen.

Many of you know the story of how I made bracelets as we watched wrestling and Mickey taught me the ins and outs of how wrestling worked. We sold those bracelets for $1 each in order to raise enough money to attend this event. (Wrestling is HUGE, by the way - tickets for good seats are very expensive). In addition to raising the money we needed, Mickey and I were able to bond like crazy. He taught me so much about himself through this process. I learned that he liked the underdog. He rooted for the good vs. the evil. He enjoyed the physicalness of the fighting, but cringed when things appeared to be too much.

All to say, I have enjoyed every moment of this special time I have had with him - time that will always be in his memory and mine.

By the time it was over, I was jumping up and down with my hands in the air, losing my voice from cheering so loudly.

If anyone ever wonders "why", just take a look at this photo. He had the best time of his life.


P.S. Thank you to my good friend, Pam Callahan, who taught me to just "be there" when your kids are into weird, but non-dangerous things.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday September 17, 2010

At 3:00am last night, I was fast asleep in my bed. I heard a voice calling to me. "Hi mom. It's me, your son."

My heart was instantly relieved to know that this precious boy was home. He's home from college for just a day in order to attend the funeral mass of a friend of his, whose short life was very full. Many of his contemporaries are also traveling home from college to celebrate this young girl's life.
My heart breaks for all of them who are here to say "Goodbye" to their friend. My heart rejoices for all of us who are parents of these children coming home; those who can now hold their own children in their own arms and be assured that they are here. My heart is paralyzed for the parents of this young girl, who now are waiting to see their precious daughter in heaven.

God bless you.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday = Front Porch Cigar

Wednesday = Mass morning

Mass morning = I will be singing in a crowd this morning

I will be singing in a crowd this morning = Maybe I shouldn't have had that cigar on the porch

Maybe I shouldn't have had that cigar on the porch = I better warm up my voice

I better warm up my voice = Karaoke to Olivia Newton John at 6:00am

Karaoke to Olivia Newton John at 6:00am = Have You Never Been Mellow

Have You Never Been Mellow = Reminder that I need to relax more

Reminder that I need to relax more = Maybe I should go have a cigar on the front porch

Maybe I should go have a cigar on the front porch = Wednesday

What day is it? Oh, it's Wednesday. I think I'll go out on the front porch and have a cigar

Life is good.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mickey's Big Break

Mickey's famous acting/wrestling career is being jump-started today. He is auditioning for The Sound of Music. I can't tell if he's more excited for him or I'm more excited for him. I'm trying to think of ways to bribe the casting director. I've already signed up to provide dinners for the cast. I wonder if I should network and use all of my Regina contacts to ensure his victory in this. I wonder if I should coach him in the car on the way, or make him sing the Do Re Me song, just like I used to make my siblings sing it, with all the dual parts and all. "When you know the notes to sing....." along with "Do me me, me so so, re fa fa, la ti ti".

Ack, I am just so excited. I'll keep you posted.


Monday, September 13, 2010


The relationships of people, one to another, are as brambles and I'm not even sure that I am using that word correctly. I'm envisioning that gathering of twigs and wood and debris that one is warned against before white water rafting, "whatever you do, swim away from any bramble." I'm envisioning a wall of twigs so intertwined that it can sustain any storm. I'm envisioning many parts working together for one whole - strength.

I know that there should be more to this, but it's all I got for the moment. Just remember that you - each and every one of you - are a blessing not just to those who know you, but also those who only know of you.


Thursday, August 26, 2010


Just a quickie today to let you all know that I am still here - just super busy at work. (I got a little cocky about how well I do my job and then sort of crumbled under the pressure during the actual game this week).

I was visiting with a new friend yesterday. We were sharing stories, getting to know each other a little better. She was telling me about the day she found out her mother had cancer. It was a moving story and my eyes actually filled a little - this doesn't happen very often; I'm pretty non-emotional that way.

I remember meeting this woman's mother over the summer, so I asked my new friend about it with a concerned look in my face and voice. "I met your mother over the summer, so I assume she is in recession." Without missing a beat, my new friend solemnly replied, "No, she's not in recession.....but she IS in remission."

I laughed so hard I cried.

I think I like my new friend very much.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


This is going to be a sort of spiritual blog and I'm going to talk about God, just so you know.

Yesterday I had to venture into the downtown area of Chicago - sort of. It was the North Side of Chicago, really, but it may as well have been right downtown for my nervousness in the traffic. (I just need to interject here that I'm not a bad driver...it's that they have funky rules sometimes....it's important to pay more attention to the road signs)

Anyhow, I was driving in the North Side of Chicago and approached the corner where I was going to make a right hand turn. As I approached the corner, the light was green, so I slowed to make the turn and suddenly heard a siren.

I know what to do when I hear a siren....I pull over to the right and stop. Well, I was already stopped, so I just stayed stopped. I knew that the firetruck people needed to be able to get safely through traffic in order to help someone in need, which is why we have the siren rule.

The person in the car behind me did not appreciate me stopping and wailed on his horn.

I got super nervous and inched forward. But I heard the siren getting closer - not able to figure out exactly where it was coming from. I was angry at the car behind me for wailing on his horn. His horn blowing made me doubt, for a moment, my obeying the "siren" rule so strictly. Maybe the siren was coming from another street entirely and I was stopped there for no good reason. Maybe the person in the car knew more about the "street smarts" of sirens than I did. Maybe the person in the car behind me knew the "cool way" to deal with sirens and I was just being old and stagnant.

I stuck to my guns, doing what I was taught, and staying stopped at the corner until a huge firetruck crossed my path. Had I gone forward a little more, the firetruck would not have been able to make it through the traffic. I was redeemed, whether the person in the car behind me knew it or not. His horn blowing didn't matter any more. I probably even saved his life. (Okay, a bit dramatic, I know...but a girl can embellish).

That's my spiritual story of the day. Know what, know why and stick to it - no matter what.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Let's Start Fresh

As I browse the world around me, I realize that it is time. It is time to begin again.

It is difficult to embrace the end of something that we have looked forward to for so long. It is sad to say good-bye to a period of time that will only now live on in memories and photos. It is heartbreaking to sit here at this keyboard and long for next year's summer vacation before the sun has fully risen on this first day back to work.

Accept it, Diane. Embrace it, Diane. Enjoy it, Diane.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gracey And Johnny

this is not gracey so even if you think it is, you are wrong.
yesterday my wonderful and gorgeous daughter gracey and my handsome son johnny were partners for the 2010 Michillinda Shuffleboard tournament.
Gracey was not very good. Her and Johnny played and it was Johnny- 50 Gracey- -12
But with Johnny's amazing skill of knocking the other player's puck into the 10 off and Gracey's sudden skill at getting 8's and some 10's, they won the tournament!
i am so so so SOOOOOO proud of them and i cannot wait to help them make their pink returning champion shirts next year that they design and i will have no say. they will be pink, they said.
gracey did not write this.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Michillinda Day 2

Day 2 at Michillinda....Here I am at the beach.
Here's John having a laugh. He's not at the beach. He's having lunch.

Here's Angie. She's not at the beach either. She's looking at the Strawberry Soup on the menu.
Here are Gracey and Abby. We are so happy that Abby came up to play. They WERE at the beach, but now they're eating.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Michillinda Day 1

Here I am getting ready to leave for Michillinda - our family vacation spot in August each year. As with all families, we all do things just a little bit differently from each other, which makes for a very chaotic departure. Some have been ready to leave since 6am. Some have only just awakened for our trip and it's 10:09am. (Said person still needs to pack) Some of us pack lightly - only the bare necessities, while others pack every art supply they ever owned, but I won't mention any names.

While waiting to leave, some of us do calm things, like post on our blog or read a book. Others watch wrestling really loudly or read out loud with a variety of inflections in her voice, ignoring the "5-times-given" directive to get her stuff off of the stairs and put it away. Some of us know where their headphones are and some of us allowed some other of us to borrow them and now they seem to be missing, leaving said first person without headphones for the trip. Thankfully another one of us can't find her iPod and so is letting first person use her headphones. I wonder if person that lost first person's headphones is also responsible for losing 3rd person's iPod. Just thinkin' out loud here.

The photo is me, sporting my Michillinda Lodge shirt in anticipation of Michillinda Day 1. I'll try to update each day with wise learnings from this very special place.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

A New Interest

See? I CAN cook. I just have to read the directions really carefully.

"Take egg and carefully tap it on side of bowl. It will crack and open. Be careful not to get parts of shell in bowl. "

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.


Take a look at these cutie pies. I learned how to make them at Summer Camp. Red Velvet Art's Summer Camp to be exact.

Mickey and I have a dream. Yes. We want to raise enough money to get tickets to see WWE's "Night of Champions" at the Rosemont Horizon on Sept. 19th.

When you have more than one kid, it's hard to keep everything even - in terms of using resources to develop the interests of each individual child - especially if the interest of one is really stupid in the eyes of the others.

Mickey likes WWE wrestling. He just does. We tell him that it's stupid and fake and dumb, but he likes it in spite of us and spends a great deal of time learning about the characters and their story lines. My good friend, Pam's son has graciously taken Mickey to a couple of LIVE events that Mickey has enjoyed immensely, but I, as a parent, cannot continue to take advantage of this sweet young man, Jack. I have decided to join Mickey in his hobby/interest. I am learning who these wrestlers are and what they are all about. I have realized that wrestling is a man's soap opera. I used to watch soaps all of the time, so I can get into some of the story lines.

Okay, so, back to those bracelets pictured above.....Mickey and I are trying to raise money for this even on Sept. 19th. (We told him that he had to raise the money if he wanted to go to this event otherwise we'll have to spend the same amount of money on cooking school for Katie Rose and a new lens for Gracey's Nikon - see how having children adds up?) We've come up with the idea of selling these bracelets for $1 each. I make them as I sit in front of the various wrestling shows on TV as Mickey teaches me and quizzes me on each wrestler. "Who's this guy? What is his mantra? Does he have fireworks as part of his entry? Who is is main rival?" and on and on and on.

The bracelets can be made with any combination of two colors - school colors, team colors, colors to match your outfit. They are cool for both genders.

I'll keep you posted as to what sorts of seats we are able to get.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


Here is something I was contemplating as I lay in bed this morning....yes....I contemplate some weird things sometimes:
My hair is in deep need of a coloring. It costs me about $200 to cut and color my hair and while I'm there, get my eyebrows waxed - even more after tips. (Background info: until the house sells we are on a very very tight budget). So...I'm thinking...what else costs $200 that I could give up in order to have that money budgeted for my hair. Aha...I spent $200 on the five of us to go River Rafting while we were in Colorado a few weeks ago. So this is where I start my contemplation and my imaginary conversations....

"No, children. We cannot go River Rafting with the rest of your cousins because I need to get my hair done and getting my hair done will last longer than one day of river rafting."

"But Mom," they say...

"Stop calling me Butt Mom," I interrupt.

"Mom," they say, "getting your hair done will only benefit you, while river rafting will benefit all of us."

"Nay," I respond. "When my hair looks fabulous, I feel fabulous and when I feel fabulous, you all don't have to walk around on eggshells, afraid that I'll snap at you for any insignificant reason. You all benefit even more than I do when I get my hair done; therefore, the $200 is better spent on me getting my hair done than on you all having lifelong memories with your cousins rafting on the Colorado River."

Nuff said.


(Okay, just so you all know, we really DID go rafting and I really haven't gotten my hair done, but this imaginary conversation taught me that I am who I am whether my hair is done or not. If I can just embrace that mentally, I'll be fine. Where did I get the idea that I could only feel fabulous if I looked fabulous? How about feeling fabulous because of who God made me to be? How about we teach that to our children?)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Different Point of View

Something about this photo just tickles me. We are all different, yet are drawn to the same awesome things. Not only that, but we are all at different places within that "draw-ing" ("drawn-ness", "drawnst") I was at the end of my hike when I took this photo - hot and tired as the smallest of inclines felt mountainous. I wasn't exactly bored of the beautiful view, but I was ready to be back at home camp. This group of young people, in full garb, were at an altogether different point in their adventure - still in awe of the beauty - even to the point of using binoculars to get the minutest of views. It's okay to be different and at different places in our lives - it allows us the opportunity to get a different point of view. May I always be observant.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Well Done

I know....it's one of those "everyone-has-one" family photos. This photo represents, though, more than just family; it represents indescribable joy; it represents freedom; it represents perseverance.

Four sisters, one sister-in-law - we make it happen not only for our own interests, but for the interests of others (our children).

Bob, Jeanette, Ryan, Sam, Johnny, Kelley, Me, Gracey, Nancy, Margie, Waylen, Ben, Katie Rose, Murphy, Westie, Sophie, Parker, Jackie Mae, Mickey, Logan, Walker and Phoenix. along the colorado river. summer cousin camp 2010.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Vacation Eve

Tomorrow at 0600 hours is the estimated time of departure. The car is loaded and ready to go. I doubt that I'll blog in the morning before we leave, but rest assured that I will upload photos of us on the road and keep you all updated with words of wisdom throughout the trip, providing the KOA campgrounds that we stay at have a three prong outlet and wifi, which I'm pretty sure they do.

So until tomorrow evening, I bid you all a fond farewell.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vacation = Guilt Free Run Away

Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow, but the NEXT day is "We're-on-our-roadtrip" day. I feel like it's a "guilt-free-I'm-running-away" trip. Seriously. I am so tired of "here" both physically and emotionally and mentally. I'm ready for a huge, life-changing break. You'd be right in calling it the great escape. I admit it. I want to escape for a little while. I just hope I come back. I may enjoy living on the road so much, that I'll just keep on truckin'.

Okay, now that I've said that, if I disappear and go missing, the media is going to jump on this particular blog post to show that I disappeared of my own doing. "Blog Post proves North Shore Woman Responsible for her Own Disappearance".

Dear Media and Police,
I'm not running away. If I go missing, please try to find me. It means that something bad happened. I plan on coming back from my road trip on time and refreshed.

Diane M. Dolan

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pile of Poop

John: Gracey, you might want to think about looking around for babysitting jobs.

Diane: (rudely interrupting) She is totally not qualified for babysitting other people's children.

Gracey: (looking up from her plate of dinner food) Wow! That's not real nice.

What just happened? What came into my soul to prompt me to make such a hurtful statement, at the dinner table, in front of everyone about my very own daughter whom I love?

Three things come to mind, two of which are probably not the case, but you never know.

a) I truly have given into the genetic potential of schizophrenia and have basically lost control of those social filters that keep me out of an asylum.

b) I subconsciously wanted to provide Gracey with the material she needed when she goes to therapy one day, which is her dream.

c) I was frustrated over the fact that we had another stinkin' Open House and were all needed on deck to prepare the house. When I got to Gracey's room, she was all asleep in bed, her desk was a mess with garbage and stuff and you couldn't even open her closet doors with all of the stuff she has jammed in there. Once "awake" she slips downstairs and lays down on the sofa as dusting and vacuuming and lugging stuff here and there are taking place all around her. I was so frustrated that I think I said something about "lazy piles of poop" (although I used the "s" word instead of "poop", which always scares the children because I never swear) in a conversation I had with John as he stood there sweating. He was holding the mop with his left hand and wiping his forhead with the back of his right hand. He glances over to the sofa where the lump of poop is laying, and says, "You might want to get up, Grace. I don't think I can protect you any longer."

And so it goes. The Open House went well, the day played itself out, everyone seems happy.....until dinner time when I make my hurtful remark.

After the dishes are done and all family members are once again occupied in their personal pursuits of entertainment, I walk over to the Wii, where Gracey is playing a Mario game of one kind or another. I gently brush her hair back with my hand - which is weird because she is exactly as tall as me, so it's more of a person to person intimate moment as opposed to a mother to daughter intimate moment - and say, "I am really sorry I hurt your feelings."
"It's okay, Mom." Her eyes are bright, I notice as they penetrate mine.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Look what I've been doing!

Here is where I'm jotting down each thing we do this summer.

I think I'm going to give this to Ryan and Kelley for all their cousin camp planning.

Not sure what I'm going to do with this, but I just LOVE it!

Here are some of the things I've made from Elsie's Summer Camp these last few days. How fun it is to make stuff.

Happy Day!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

For Julie

Just about the time that I find I'm ready to give up, to give in to the world around me, I take one more opportunity to depend on God for strength to get through.

By the way - this isn't for Julie because she needs these words, this is called "For Julie" because she was actually missing my blog posts and that makes me feel very special.

Without trying to be too much of a downer, I'll share my thoughts on the last few days. I'm stuck. I'm in a prison, serving a sentence for an undetermined length of time. Every once in a while, I catch a glimmer of hope - the lawyer finds a potential judge who can tell us exactly how long I have to be in prison before being set free. But something inevitably happens to that particular judge and I am left judgeless once again. See, it's the judge that knows my future and has the power to grant me freedom or at least let me know how long of a sentence I need to serve. If I knew how long of a sentence I had to serve, I could make the most of it. I would decorate my cell; I would set goals for how many books I'd read; I'd learn a new skill; I'd know what to keep and what I no longer need. I'd PLAN. I would no longer be in prison. I'd be free. I would have knowledge. I am happy and can survive very well with knowledge. Even if the judge told me that I would be in prison for ten years, just having the knowledge of that would set my mind free.

Here is where I get stuck. Sometimes not knowing is what is best for me. By not knowing, I have to continually rely on God for everything. I have to rely on Him for perseverance. I have to rely on Him for my daily bread and water. I have to rely on Him for the strength to have kind, caring words for the warden. I have to rely on Him for the desire to live each day to the fullest - even without the knowledge, knowing that each day is a gift. (Okay, now I'm getting all sappy and stuff, so I'll stop)

Just suffice it all to say that I received a care package from "home" yesterday and it made the prison so much less prison-y.

Sometimes I think I have my very own language that only I can understand, so if you are reading this and have a big thought bubble outside of your head with a gigantic question mark inside, don't despair. It's not you; it's just me.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cousin Camp

Here is an email I received from my sister, Kelley, yesterday. I know that those of you who are reading this and are NOT in my family are gonna be super jealous and I'm sorry for that, but I am just so dang excited and I love my fun family and I can't wait until we get there.
At our first official meeting, the Camping Capers Committee designated Kelley Jilek as Camp Director, Ryan Jilek as Head Chef, and Sophie Jilek as Camp Activities Director. We were sorry no other member were able to make the meeting. The official quorum of three made all decisions and okayed them so we're good to go! :) As of right now, we've determined the following nights as:
Monday - All American Night - menu to include All American faire. Brats, hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon, chips...typical picnic food! Yes, red, white, and blue is a must for attire! (Katie Rose is all over this)
Tuesday - Tour of Italy - Each of us will be making our own pizzas on the grill. Where the same red and white, but add a little green!
Wednesday - Asian Night - One Night Only! We will serve some flied lice and have Shishkabob Shibang! Come hungry, leave happy. Old Asian saying. :) (I have nominated Gracey and her love of everything Korean to supply us with entertainment on this night)
Thursday - Cowboy Country - Y'all come on down for some good ole home cookin' at its best. Hamburgers, barbequed beans, corn on the cob, maybe even some Hobo Dinners. Gather round to whet your whistle and enjoy some finger lickin' good vittles. You can count on some good fixins that's for sure! (Margarita - I think you could pull us some country music out of your butt and bring along some extra cowboy hats for the city cousins)
Friday - Well, Friday Fiesta, of course! Ole! We'll be making and pressing our own corn tortillas to enjoy with all the traditional taco tastings. Maybe even some fajita ingredients to change things up a bit.
Camp Activities Director would like everyone to know that she encourages everyone to dress the part each night. Be assured that as Camp Activities Director, she will be playing the part . Any questions, email them to Camp Director and they'll be forwarded to the appropriate parties.
We would like a vote on breakfasts, but have several ideas for that, too. We need to know if everyone is game for cooking and eating together or what everyone had planned on doing. Chef Ryan doesn't mind at all being at the cooking helm. :)
We are still looking for a volunteer to be in charge of Camp Olympics. This person's official title will be Camp Olympics Director! (Nancy?)
And we need a Geocache Director. We'll need some easy and a few more challenging geocaches. We've got one GPS...do we have a second? (Johnny wants to be Geocache Director)
Camp Activities Director has some ideas for a scavenger hunt, but will need some help. Diane, can you bring your printer? We'll also need all available digital cameras (as in each group will bring their own). Does anyone have any other ideas for camping crafts? If not, watch out, we'll come up with some more. (Jeanette? you are a shoe-in for this)
Please let us know if you have any problems with anything the committee has come up with. We can always change plans. However, plans are underway and it will be much easier if we get gripes up front, rather than later in the game.
What time is everyone planning on arriving to camp the first night - July 5th? We'll be there bright and early (well, in our dreams)...We will try to make it there early enough to have food set up for people as they arrive. (Say 5:00-6:00?)
Looking forward to some fun and relaxation. Most activities will take place in the evening, centered around dinner hour so the days are free for the most part.
Only 3 more weeks! :)
Camp Director

I would like to be director of a camp show at the end of the week. Is anyone opposed?


Monday, June 14, 2010


Check out the delight on this woman's face. I had my camera pointed at her, just waiting for what I new was coming. She was watching some little kids throw balls at the dunk tank on which sat Fr. Bob. Once he went in, the crowd went wild.

Sure, I would have enjoyed seeing Fr. Bob fall into the water - who wouldn't? But I have found that I enjoy seeing the reactions of others even more than I enjoy seeing the main event. This is part of "the journey is as important as the destination" motto I've embraced.

Pure delight. It is a joy to behold. It's more often seen on the very young, but once in a while, if you are looking for it, you can find it in one your own age. When you DO find it, savor it.

And that's my advice for today.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Geocaching Continued

We all begin to look for the "treasure". We look under the bridge and I get a great shot of Mickey

We look around the bridge. We look in the crevices of the bridge. We look in the trees surrounding the bridge.
It's really hot outside and humid, but we keep looking, partly because it has been so long since we've ALL (everyone including John) spent some quality outside time together. We are getting weary, because no one really knows what we're looking for - we just know it's treasure. After half an hour or so, we decide that due to the new construction that has taken place on this particular bridge recently, the "treasure" must have been destroyed. We agree to move on, with two of the ALL deciding to go back home to the air conditioning.

Our little gizmo tells us that there is more "treasure" just 2500 feet or so east. We all head toward the treasure with the two quitters deciding to follow along with us until they can make the turn toward home. There they will say adios and wish the rest of us well.
Four of us are left, Me, Mickey, Katie Rose and Johnny (I guess you can guess who the quitters were). At 500 feet left to the treasure, according to our gizmo, we look in the direction of the treasure and see I-94 between us and the prize. What to do? What to do? We are certainly not going to cross the highway. We'll have to go around. Can you see, in the photo, that overpass waaaaay toward the back? We're gonna have to walk over that and then back to where we are, only this time we'll end up over the highway.

Mickey is out. He's done and says adios and wishes us well.

Did I mention that it was super humid and hot? We weren't expecting a long hike, so we didn't bring any water bottles. The three of us left talk badly about the "quitters" as we walk and walk and walk. The overpass looked much closer than it truly was. At one point, we really had to get water, so we walked into a storage facility on the frontage road. The minute we walked in, we were overwhelmed with cool air conditioning. Ahhhhhhhhhh! The man on duty offered us water from their water cooler. We were so happy and refreshed and ready to continue our journey.

We arrived at the overpass and crossed. What great perseverers we were. We knew that once we were over the overpass, the hardest part was over.
We walked some more, but the sights to see on THIS side of I-94 were much more beautiful. There is a whole forest preserve back there with water and stuff. It was still hot, but we were among fellow hikers and bikers and outdoorsmen. We felt so good about ourselves - so good that we didn't have to talk out loud about those "quitters" we left behind, we could just think pitiful thoughts about them and what they were missing.

To be continued.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I figure it's time for some pictures. Last week and a half ago, we went geocahing (treasure hunting with a gizmo that tells you where treasures are).
The entire family was in on the first one which took us to a bridge in Northfield.

Yes, even John. ("Daddy, pleeeease go with us").

Gracey, Johnny, Katie Rose and MickeyHere is Gracey figuring out which direction to go.

We head on this cute little path, which, by the way, takes us right by our realtor's house, but we refrain from bothering her about house stuff. This whole trip is a lesson in spending time together - not worrying about what is happening on the house selling front.

Well, we're at the bridge - now what?

Part 2 with more pics coming up.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Woke Up and it was all a Dream...

The buyers bailed on their offer. I am disappointed, but I've realized a few things:
1. Before I tell others news, make sure that the news is solid.
2. Our children learn how to deal with disappointments by watching us deal with disappointments.
3. I really LIKED the family time we spent together as we were contemplating this decision and have vowed to keep it up.
4. I'm sort of wimpy, but have learned to put my foot down through this experience.
5. I'm going to clean out my closet anyway.
6. Live for the day, not for the future.

There - that's what I learned.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Santa Fe Part 2

As I was saying....

My children are a delight to me. In the past 2 years or so, the stress of our financial situation has caused both John and I to worry somewhat and that worry has manifested itself in withdrawal from spending good time together. Our time spent together as a family started to become somewhat filtered through the lens of financial worry. The children sensed it and were told on many occasions, "We can't afford that." or "That's not in the budget." or, in an effort to keep them from worrying about our financial situation, come up with a "legitimate" reason that they couldn't participate in one thing or another, usually making it about them. "They" didn't clean their room or "they" didn't do their homework, or "They" were mean to their sibling 3 weeks ago on Tuesday at 3:32pm.

(I just want to say right here that the above paragraph was very therapeutic to me and it wasn't until voicing this on paper....well....on blog... that I realize what I, as a parent, was yoking my children with.)

Another trick to avoid a situation that is uncontrolable, is to sleep. I have been doing alot of that lately, as well. It started when I quit smoking back in Oct. of 2008. It was easier to get over the cravings for a cigarette when I was asleep. The sleeping worked to help me escape the desire for nicotine, so I figured it would work for whenever I wanted to escape something. So now the poor, overworried children have a mom that takes a daily nap.

One last trick I used to avoid worry, is to be involved in ALOT of things. I did pretty much everything asked of me or I volunteered to take on things whenever I saw a need. (Here is where things get complicated). Because the "extras" that I participated in were serving God based, the line between service and escapism and feeling neededism began to blur. I am all about God using seemingly bad situations for His good and I don't regret one moment of service to Him, because when I gave it to Him, it was His to do with what He wanted and I am blessed to be able to see some of what He has done with my menial service. That being said, though, He sees my heart and knows what my true motivation is at any given moment even if it is a mixture of many motivations at once.

It is within this service area that I feel so blessed here in Illinois. I have developed relationships that are life-affirming here. I have hopefully made some of the children at school a little less nervous about things that seem SO important at their age. I have hopefully had a part in helping some develop their relationship with God. (I know this may sound all "good for me" and all, but it's really just a thankfulness for God allowing me to help Him in his work by using different gifts He gave to me in the first place)

I'm going to stop again now, but I sense that I'm beginning to get to the heart of why I want to move to Santa Fe....so stay tuned.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Santa Fe and isn't this rather sudden?

Some of you may have heard that the Dolan family is planning on moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico in about 5 weeks or so. Although this is true, it's not 100 percent going to happen for sure. We do not have a signed contract on the sale of our home yet, so obviously if we don't get one, we won't be going to Santa Fe in 5 week's time.

If we do, however, get a signed contract in the next few days, the plan is to move to New Mexico before the summer is over. We will be starting a new life in a new place with new people. It's not that our life here, in this place, with these people is bad - as a matter of fact, our life here is fabulous and full.

"Why move then?" you may be asking. Each family member has a different answer as to why they want to move to Santa Fe. For the record, Mickey is the only one with a strong opposition to moving. He is very afraid that his friendships here will not be able to sustain the distance.

I can answer the question of why only for myself and I will attempt to do that here. It may take a few posts and I may contradict myself a few times, but it's sort of how I work things out. So welcome to my brain.

God has blessed me greatly in my life. Amen! In thanksgiving for His myriad of blessings, I've tried to always serve Him as much as I can. I have been given special gifts - as we all have - and through His power, have been able to use them for His glory. The opportunities to serve Him here in Illinois have been numerous and wonderful. My 25 or so years here have taken me from a scared, low-self-esteemed, self destructive twenty-something to a mature (I guess that one is up for grabs) life-loving, God-loving, forty-something who prides herself on being different and not so afraid to try new things, knowing that God is with me at each step. My children are a delight to me.

I have run out of time. I'll post again, soon.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Just a short update....we got an offer!!!

They would like to close on July 9th.

This means that we have very little time to figure out what we are going to do - Northbrook or New Mexico and I am PANICKING. I can't sleep. I don't know what the right thing to do is. We've waited so long for this - so long that it became unreal that we were selling and contemplating moving out of the state. It became just a "talk about" dream. But today, the possibility is so real that I can't connect with it.

Help me.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A First Second

I got a call at work yesterday from our realtor, Marsha.  "How's your house look?" Someone wanted to see it in an hour.  I got me some coverage for the front desk for a bit, drove home, made beds, hid laundry, turned on all the lights.  The whole time I'm doing this, I'm saying to myself,, "Don't get your hopes up; don't get your hopes up; don't get your hopes up." 

By the time I got back to work, my hopes were up.

After work, I went for my evening run (okay, I don't really run, but it sounded good).  After work, I went for my 1/2 hour walk.  As I was returning home, I noticed a white Chevy with Missouri plates slowly driving by our house, pulling up to the front and stopping.  Inside was a woman gesturing toward our house to a man.  I knew right away that these were the people who saw the house earlier.  I said to myself, "I know that your hopes are up a little, but don't let them get any higher.  I know that this is a good sign that they came back to your house because you would do the exact same thing to a house you were interested in, but don't get your hopes up any higher."  To God I said, "Oh, Lord.  THY will be done, not mine."

I made dinner, took a shower and was getting ready for bed (I go to bed at 9:00) when John ran upstairs and said, "They want to see the house again in 25 minutes."  Oh no!  I was caught off guard; my hopes rose.  I mean, we've never, ever had a second showing and this was occurring in the same day!  I made myself become like a zombie who didn't really care in order to "show" the outside world that my hopes were not raised.  John, the children and I piled into the car and drove to Grandma's.  There we watched a very silly show on River Monsters and listened to Johnny spout out about how exciting this could be - the adventure that could be starting.  I remained calm and zombie-like as they all talked about New Mexico.  I allowed myself a little bit of excitement as I realized that New Mexico may actually be a possibility and I got scared.

We finally got the "all clear" call from the realtor at about 10:30ish.  I had asked her to get as much scoop as she could and report back to me right away.  This is what she got:  Transfer, their house is for sale and she wasn't sure if the purchase of a house here is contingent on a sale there, they both liked the house and the space, he is transferring here immediately and she (and the family) are coming at the end of the summer, staying at a hotel nearby.

That's where I am this morning.  I admit that my hopes are up and if it doesn't work out?....well....we'll try again next time.  I'll keep you posted.


Monday, May 24, 2010

This is what I'm talkin' about

Much to my delight and my husband's dismay, the weather has finally turned.  Right now I am sitting outside on the deck with my coffee and applesauce and I am not chilled in the least.  How glorious!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

When faced with the day, I sometimes get confused. I have no "time appointments" today, so I can juggle the day however I want. There are a few things that need to be done before tomorrow and I can list those, but when faced with a list, I get paralyzed as to what to do first. The thing is my list consists of things I have to do for the good of the family (clean house, laundry, clean out microwave) and there are things that I have to do for my own good (craft, craft some more, create stuff). In addition to those things I have some framing jobs that I have to do for the good of others as well as go over music for tomorrow's cantoring.

It's like a puzzle....what to do first, how to not get overwhelmed concentrating on one thing. Do I do a little of each and then repeat? Do I set my timer for 15 minutes and move between work and play (15 of work 15 of play)? Do I get all of the work done first and then spend the rest of the day playing? Do I play first and get it out of my system and then do the work in the afternoon? The problem with doing the work first is that it really never ends. There is always more cleaning, organizing, planning. It never ever ends so if I start there, I may get stuck doing that forever. I don't want that. If I craft and play first, I may delay the work and thereby causing John to have to do it all, which is not fair and will justifiably make him a little peeved.

As you can see, the options are unlimited. And it confuses me. And it paralyzes me. So I nap.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Really scary dream last night

It was about a ghost. Do you ever have those dreams where things physically feel so real that you get really scared?

We were looking at a house, the whole family and I. We were in this house and all of a sudden the door started opening and closing by itself. That wasn't so bad, but it was a little weird. Pretty soon all sorts of things started moving around. I began to feel all tingly and paralyzed and anxious and scared. Everything looked like it was in a yellowish haze. I looked at my companions and it was obvious by the looks on their faces that they were feeling the same thing. Remembering every ghost movie I had ever seen, I started saying, out loud, "It's okay. Try to follow the light. We'll take care of everything. Don't worry. You can go now."

The ghost left and the yellowish aura vanished and I felt normal again. Relief.

I was thinking to myself, "There is no way that I could live in this house." John, on the other hand, was weighing the price of the house against the fact that it had a ghost. The house was such a good financial deal for us,that living with a ghost was not entirely out of the question for him.

Okay, now here I have to be brief because there is nothing more boring than reading about someone else's dream, but I felt that the next part was a significant part to the dream.

We were sitting in a restaurant discussing the house, when I started to feel all tingly and paralyzed again with the yellowish haze around. Someone at the table said, "I got her. There she is." I looked to where my companion was pointing and sure enough, the shadow of a figure was right there on the wall. She was BEAUTIFUL, with her face partially covered. I said aloud what I had known in my heart. "She is someone's mother and she misses her parents and wants to find them." The next thing I knew the shadow of a little old couple appeared. They were holding hands with each other. They led the beautiful woman out of the restaurant and we all felt normal, with no more yellow haze. The ghost, I was confident, followed her parents to where she would be happy.

I know, weird.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Tap, Tap, Tap of a Typewriter

Many of you may not know this about me, but I hold certification for typing 110 wpm. Yup - 110 words per minute. I received my certification while at secretarial school. Yup - secretarial school. In fact, I did so well at the secretarial school that they hired me to be the secretary of their secretarial school. Yup - secretary of a secretarial school. I even hold certification for being able to take shorthand at 100 wpm. Yup - shorthand. (But I digress; I want to talk about typing)

However silly it may sound, I was very proud of my typing skill, and still am although with technology and computers and stuff, I'm pretty sure that 110 wpm is not that big of a deal anymore.

I learned to type on an electric typewriter, which was really cool because you barely had to touch the keys and the letters would engage - nothing like now, but you know what I mean. Before electric typewriters there existed these super heavy contraptions that you carried around in a case. The keys needed to be pressed quickly and with firm, staccato pressure in order to achieve clear images on the paper.

My two daughters are readers and as readers they have dreams of being writers and everyone knows that you can't write a real book unless you write it on a real typewriter. Typewriters are just way too inspiring. So, guess what we found at the church rummage sale? Yup - not one old typewriter, but two old typewriters. One is an Underwood and one is a Remington. Katie got the Underwood, because it was more old fashioned and Gracey got the Remington because it was more vintage.

The moment we got home from the rummage sale, they both opened their cases to try out their new, old contraptions. I, being tired from working the rummage sale lay down to take a nap. The Underwood (Katie's) came with two extra spools of ink and some really old typing paper. The Remington (Gracey's) didn't. Gracey grabbed some of the old typing paper from Katie's Underwood to type on. Katie didn't appreciate that. They started yelling back and forth. Grace wouldn't give the paper back and Katie wouldn't give the paper up. This went on and on until I threatened to take both typewriters back to the rummage sale. How can a person take a nap with all this arguing back and forth? Katie stormed upstairs after I said something about it only being a stupid piece of paper.

Finally, it was quiet. Katie was upstairs sulking and Gracey was sitting at the table with her Remington and Katie's Underwood paper. I closed my eyes again. Tap....tap..tap..tap......Tap..tap...tap Tap....tap..tap..tap......Tap..tap...tap Tap....tap..tap..tap......Tap..tap...tap...Tap....tap..tap..tap......Tap..tap...tap Tap....tap..tap..tap......Tap..tap...tap

Katie Rose, from upstairs, couldn't stand hearing the tapping. It was too much to keep her stance of injustice amidst the imagined fun Gracey was having with her Remington. It lured her back downstairs to her own typewriter. The next thing I knew it was taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap...etc. Both girls were happily typing away on their respective typewriters.

You may think that this was annoying as I tried to sleep, but it had the opposite effect. It was like a lullaby, lulling me to sleep - nothing but tapping and no arguing.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Crabby as crabby can be.

No....I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about my offspring, Katie Rose.  I thought I had PMS bad, but she hasn't even started menstruating yet and her PMS is way worse than mine.  If you are a praying person, please take a moment now to pray for Katie's future husband, that he will be able to be patient through these trying days of the month.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steak n Shake

Mickey and I went to Steak n Shake yesterday.  It was a little cold outside and we were in a bit of a time crunch as I had to go back to work, so we decided to go through the drive-thru.

We drove through the lane and stopped where the big menu was.  I rolled down my window and waited for my order to be taken....and I waited.....and I waited.  I looked around for the speaker and couldn't quite figure out where it was.  "Hello?"   "Helloooo!"

Thankfully it wasn't all that long before I realized that I needed to pull up a few yards to where the actual order taking place speaker was. 
"Oh, there it is.  I guess I have to pull up to order."

As I pulled up to the proper ordering space, Mickey began to giggle and I couldn't help myself either.  We both had a good laugh.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What I Learned on Mother's Day

What I learned this Mother's Day 2010 warmed my heart, so I'm going to share it with you.

A few days ago, I picked up Grace from school. She asked if we could take a friend of hers home and I said, "Sure."

(I just want to interject right here, that I wish I would have paid more attention when we were learning about quotation marks and writing dialogue in school because I seem to need it a lot in my posts.)

As Grace and her friend climbed into the van with all of their school stuff - back packs that weigh a ton and extra clothing and stuff - I noticed that Mary Clare (Grace's friend) was holding a painted pot with a flower. The pot was very colorful and said I love you.

"Ahhh, is that for your mom for Mother's Day?" Mary Clare nodded.

"Where's the one for your mom?" I ask Gracey.

"Oh, I didn't have enough money to make one," she replies.

We drop Mary Clare off at her house and as we are driving home to our house, one of the kids says, "Oh no! Mary Clare forgot her flower for her mom."

"We can go back and take it to her," I say. It's not very far away from where we are.

Gracey pipes up, "No, it's okay. I'm soooo hungry. I just want to go home. I'll give it to her tomorrow at school."

I'm thinking, "Okay, whatever."

Fast forward to the day before Mother's Day. I had the opportunity to stop at Starbucks and pick up a tin of my favorite tea. When I get home, I run into Gracey and give her the tin. "Hey, Grace. Here. You can give this to me tomorrow for Mother's Day."

"Whee," she replies.

I woke up early on Mother's Day, yesterday. When I went into my bathroom to brush my teeth, this is what I saw.

The note reads: Dear Momma, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! See? I made you think Mary Clare made that pot for her mom but really it was me! I am so clever. I hope you have a splendid day! Oh and your tea is there too. Hee Hee. I love you! Gracey

Here is what I learned from this experience....I learned to never give up hope - that what you think is one way is really not the way it always was. You know what I mean? Don't ever have a final judgment of someone. We grow and change according to our experiences in life; in how we act and react to the situations in which we find ourselves. We are never unchanging or unchangeable. That's what growing is all about. I don't mean to say that my daughter was mean or nasty or uncaring or any of those things. I knew that she loved me with all of her heart, but I also knew that I shouldn't necessarily expect her to outwardly show it. I get this, totally, and I love her for it. It's who she is....but what I learned is that it's not always who she will be. It took planning to set this all up. It was premeditated. Now that's outward caring! I could learn much from her.

I know - that's a lot to learn from a pot of flowers and a tin of tea.


P.S. I also received this from Mickey:and from Katie Rose I received the most wonderful helper in all the land, not just on Mother's Day, but on every day of the year.

From Johnny I received my very first "away from home" phone call on Mother's Day. That was weird.