The 52 Lists Project- List 29

Quite the gloomy afternoon out there in MKE, isn’t it? I don’t mind it at all, it makes me feel calm and focused, if not a bit sleepy. I have been enjoying the glorious heat we have been having around here too, but a slight cool-down will be welcome.

It may seem like I have jumped waaaay ahead in the 52LP (ummm.. last time I  checked, 3 comes after 2, not 29.). The book is set up so that the list topics are season-themed, so  I wanted to skip ahead to the list that coincides with this week, and will finish the book on List 28. Without further ado,




  • Ballerina– I danced ballet, tap, and jazz for many years in a small studio in Bay View. In my early-teenage mind, I truly wanted to teach ballet or perform professionally. Such a dream would have taken tremendous resources that my family just did  not have. When I look back  on that time, I can’t help but feel a teeny bit sad that such a career choice is rare, and few and far between in our community.
  • Waitress– One of the first memories I have is of playing with a white plastic tea set with black flowers in the early ’90s with my Grandparents. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded “A waitress”. I enjoyed pretend-serving, as most little girls do. I worked for a few years in a Cousins Subs shop, but that’s the closest I have ever gotten to food or serving it. Good thing too, because I am a huge klutz, and I can see the tumbling trays now…
  • Children’s Book Illustrator– My sisters and I spent countless days in our childhood drawing. It didn’t stop there, we would create stories: cut paper into squares, stack them, staple them together, write the stories on the pages and illustrate them. The stories were based off of adventures our dolls had, or family experiences. I can’t imagine drawing like that now, but my sister Charmaine is still super talented in this  area! Her paintings and drawings are amazing, I will post pictures of them sometime.


  • Owner of an Antique, Vintage, and Collectibles shop in downtown MKE– This is where my passion lies, and it’s the reason I’m pursuing my MBA. The business is in my blood, and I know I can reach this goal someday. My current selling on Ebay, Etsy, and even the time and effort I put into this blog are all stepping stones to success.
  • Author– I suppose I already am, of sorts. Perhaps I should clarify and label this published author. Fiction may be interesting (I started-and never finished- a few books in high school, some 200 pages long or more.), but I would enjoy writing a self-help book, or contribute regularly to a magazine.
  • CEO– Lofty? Perhaps. But that sort of thing doesn’t bother me anymore. I don’t scare too easily at hard work. If I could lead a business that allows me to be successful, profitable, and energetic, while also sharing my talents and passion with the world, it would be a dream job to be proud of!

What are some of your childhood and/or current dream jobs? The possibilities are endless! Sound off in the comments, and enjoy your evening!



Will Work for Bus Money

Hi friends. I hope you all had a relaxing or fun-filled weekend, whichever would have appealed to you more! I had no intention of writing tonight, but on the drive home from my Grandpa’s house, I had some inspiration. And not just inspiration, but real questions.

Mason and I were at a stoplight in the right lane around 8:30 pm, and there was a man standing on the corner. He seemed to be in his late thirties, had a backpack, and held up a cardboard sign that read “Homeless, please help. Need bus money. Will work.”. My first thought was “Oh, please God do not let Mason knock on the window” because that is the new thing with him these days. Then, I was quickly uncomfortable because even though the man wasn’t looking at me, he knew I was there.

I had six singles in my wallet, and I could feel them burning a hole in my purse. I nearly rolled the window down and waved the man over, but a few things stopped me. The main thing that kept me from giving money to the man is fear. In my head, I pictured what could potentially happen. I was afraid that if I rolled the window down, the man may somehow get into my car or steal my bag, or pull a gun on me or Mason. How sad is it that we live in a society where we don’t help our neighbors because of fear? Rather than having faith in humanity, we default to all of the horrible things that could happen, especially in light of all of the violence we hear about lately (which, for what it’s worth, I am not sure has actually gotten worse or if it’s just more publicized in the media).

So of course Mason knocks on the window and I hiss “Don’t knock on the truck windows, Mason”! He asks why. I say “Sometimes people want to be left alone,” and then I sigh and say, “actually, that man is looking for some help.”. Mason dropped the subject pretty quickly because the light turned green and we drove away, the sun setting behind us. It was getting dark, it would have been dangerous to help the man… right? Right?

I had similar dilemmas while working on the corner of Wisconsin Ave and Water St downtown. There were so many men and women looking for money every single day. There were very few days where someone did not stop me to ask for change for the bus or food or no reason at all. Some held signs and stayed in one place, and some literally followed you until you told them that sorry, I don’t have any cash, but God bless and have a great day. Anytime I discussed this with anyone, they usually had the response of, “They were probably going to use the money for drugs or booze anyway, and if they stand there every day they are going to hit you up all the time and tell other homeless people that you give money when asked”. This may be very true. But how would I know that? Wouldn’t the right thing to do be to help anyone if you are able? Wouldn’t you have faith that a blessing would come your way if you help others, regardless of what the stranger uses the money for? As far as people who stand out on the streets every day begging, and the dilemma of helping them once means helping them again, I have no answer for this. At what point is it foolish to hand out money to homeless people, or anyone asking for help?

I know that I can’t help everyone, and I am only one person, but what IS expected of me, as a Christian and honestly, as a decent human being (because to be honest, Christianity has nothing to do with it, on a basic level this is about helping those around us)? I have considered so many answers to my questions, none of which I feel particularly certain or strongly of, such as: always offer help if it’s a woman asking, if the person states that they will work for money, or if the individual is standing there with kid(s). I feel so terrible anytime I don’t offer money if there is change in my wallet. I think about it for the rest of the day and feel (for lack of a better word) so sad. It’s a constant battle between looking out for myself, and considering the following verse:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

So, friends, what do YOU think? Please, please sound off in the comments! I welcome all opinions because I am very conflicted and am interested in hearing everyone’s views!


 don't just stand there

Adventures in Mommyville

Sometimes I am amazed at how quickly the emotional roller coaster called Mommyhood can take drastic twists and turns. For example, I could be feeling frustrated with Mason one moment- perhaps he is telling me “No, I’m not doing that” with an attitude I thought only 15 year  old girls could muster (hey, I’m being honest here. Mason’s attitude and defiance towards Jeremy and I are off the charts some days. If a stranger were to hear the way he talks, their jaws would probably drop to the floor). Or perhaps he is refusing to eat his supper or terrorizing the cat. I yell at him if I am unable to keep my temper in check, and then one of two things happen. He either doesn’t listen to what I am saying (cue the inevitable tantrum, or at the very least a time out on Mommy’s bed), or he listens to what I am saying and I realize I could have just talked nicely to him. If he asks me why I yelled at him, well that just makes matters worse. Because then I feel terrible for raising my voice when I could have just rationally talked it out with him. And this folks, is what I mean by an emotional roller coaster. I am screaming one moment and then a weepy mess the next, vowing to reserve yelling at Mason only when it is necessary.

And then I carry the guilty feeling with me through bedtime. Mamas- I know you feel me!

This is one of those No-One-Tells-You things. To elaborate, when you bring your firstborn home from the hospital,  experienced family members and friends suggest that you “sleep when the baby sleeps”. They also tell you that you will change upwards of 8 poopy diapers and other random tidbits of knowledge such as giving the baby gas drops if they are hysterically crying for no reason, or to keep them cool while feeding them so they stay awake. They can give you all of the  tangible advice in the world, and one vague bit of intangible advice: “Your life is going to change.”

OK, got it. My life is going to change. This is just about the biggest generalization I have ever heard, along with being one of the most understated. Your life won’t just change, you will change. You will not be the person you were before you had children. No one tells you how being a parent is one of the most emotional things you will ever do. One moment your heart feels like it will literally burst with happiness and the next your heart is breaking because the world is cruel and terrifying, and your child is in it. Even if new parents were told this numerous times, they wouldn’t fully comprehend it. It’s a journey, and the only way to grasp the scope of how many emotions one person can have in a day is to go through it.

This past week  was no exception; there were definitely some ups and downs on our roller coaster!

  • I spent the night in the ER late last week with a fever of 101 that I could not get to drop. The staff ended up treating me for viral meningitis. Before finally agreeing to allow Jeremy to take me in, though (at 3am, of course), I had a weep-a-thon about leaving Mason all alone on the first floor of the house, even though Jason is right downstairs. My fear was that Mason would wake up, not be able to find us, panic, and cry uncontrollably. We eventually left, but Jeremy had to convince me that Mason would be just fine, and that his mom and step-dad would be there before he woke up and even noticed we were gone. Down……
  • ….and up. Mason was very helpful the days I was sick, and very sweet. He helped me fold the washcloths (I didn’t care that they weren’t perfect, it was so cute to see him try. Also, new weekly chore for him! He likes doing things that he can feel proud of when complete). He kept cupping my face in his little hands and saying “I will always take care of you”. Excuse me, don’t mind me while I go bawl my eyes out.
  • On Wednesday evening my sister Angela and I decided to go to Marshall’s to search for curtains for her new apartment. Just as we were about to walk out the door, Mason started to cry and stated that he wanted to come with. “Do they have toys at Marshall’s?” he asked, wide eyed. “Yes,” I explained, “but we are not getting a new toy today. We are buying curtains, but no toys. We can find a toy another time. Do you understand?” (<—- see how I repeated myself 3 times to make sure I was heard?). “Yes,” he said. So I agreed and along he came. I probably don’t need to go into any sort of detail, but as we passed the toy section and I reiterated that we are NOT getting any new toys today, Mason had a complete meltdown. I wanted to scream. So we walked towards the exit with me saying things like “Now everyone is going to see what a baby you are. Look everyone, look at what a baby Mason is behaving like”, and him saying things through clenched teeth like “I’m gonna get out of the truck and walk back to Marshall’s and take the toys, and then I’m gonna make you and Auntie come back and get me.”. Yeah, OK Pal. Down…..
  • …..and up. Being silly with Mason is one of my favorite things, partly due to the fact that my Dad was so silly with me and my sisters, and it makes me happy. Barb, Mason, and I were watching American Ninja Warrior one evening while Jer and Dave put in a new screen door. Mason and I were making hulk noises at each other, flexing our muscles, yelling, and talking about how he was going to compete in ANW someday. He says he is going to “Have muscles bigger than those guys”.
  • Discipline is something Jer and I struggle with because there are times Mason doesn’t respond to any method, it just seems to escalate the situation. One morning Mason refused to get dressed, and it quickly turned into one of the biggest meltdowns I have seen in a while. Jeremy started putting all of his toys in garbage bags, explaining “I am going to give these toys to little boys and girls who listen to their parents”, and with each trip from his room to ours, Mason clung on to Jer’s leg, screaming “NO, DADDY!” about 100 times. It was brutal. When the room was almost completely empty, he was practically hyperventilating and it was a good hour before I could get him to calm down and understand that if he could be nice and listen to his parents through the week, he would earn his toys back. I sort of lost all ambition for the rest of the day. Down….
  • ….and up. Mason pats my belly and kisses it, and asks how the baby is doing. I tell him that the baby is good, and when he arrives he is only going to be thiiiiiiis big (holds hands 20 inches apart to illustrate). “Will he play with my toys?” “Not right away, he is going to sleep a lot.” “When will he wake up?” “When he is hungry.” “Will he share my fruit snacks?” “No, babies drink milk only at first.” *pause to digest this information* “I miss the baby.” “You haven’t even met him yet!” “I still miss him though. When is he coming out of your belly?” “Christmastime.” 🙂

I want all Mama’s reading this to know that if you are ever feeling like you can’t take another emotional shift in your day, that I am right there with you! And when the ups come, and your heart swells, isn’t is all worth it?



Zzyzx Rd.

“I’m only here for a while,

But patience is not my style,

And I’m so tired that I got to go.”

I first heard the song by Stone Sour 10 years ago while listening to the radio at my first job with someone very dear to me at the time. His demeanor seemed to fall while the song was playing, as if it brought back unpleasant memories. When the song had ended, I asked if something was wrong.

“After a friend took his life last year, I listened to this song over and over and over again, on repeat, curled up in a ball on my bed. I have never felt so hopeless.”

There could have been no possible way for me to understand exactly how he felt, or the depth of a darkness he now knew. I had known a few individuals in my life up until that point whose lives had been affected by a loved one who took their own life, but no one near or dear to me. I calmly shook my head and tried to understand the sadness he must feel each time the song played, or any time he was near something that reminded him of his friend. I tried, but it was similar to how someone feels when they are at a funeral and are not sure what to say- if anything at all.

My sister ended her life last August. I feel a sense of closure from the grief and despair. I have had time to grieve, to weep uncontrollably, to wonder why, to curse at God, to question why I did not check in on Sarah more often. I have battled guilt- an emotion that does not seem to accompany the griever when a life is taken by an unexpected tragedy or old age. No, that grief is of a different sort. Grief that goes hand in hand with guilt is a pain I do not wish on anyone, and I am very grateful for the many times those close to me have helped me excuse my guilt. But am I excused? I am not so sure.

Sarah’s situation was at least twofold. While she was currently being treated for a mental illness, she additionally became violent with the law in an incident towards the end of her life. This incident came hours after a threatened suicide attempt, when police arrived at her home. It was very clear that she needed to be admitted into the hands of those experienced in caring for the mentally ill, and this initiative was not taken by our law enforcement. In Milwaukee County, there are certain policies in place that allow state facilities to discharge individuals back to their homes- regardless of what their situation may be- while they are still in danger of taking their own lives. I have done research on the laws in the city of Milwaukee, and have even been contacted by a few social workers in the process. There are many gray areas as you can expect, chief among them being “we cannot hold an adult against their will.” How then, are we to force help upon someone who does not want to be help? I admit I do not have that answer, or even an idea of how we could arrive at a solution to that dilemma, but here is what I do know: the fight against suicide starts with us. 

At this point you may be asking what my point is. Well, it’s quite simple, really. If you have even the slightest hint that a loved one may be going through a depression, acknowledge the problem. Be kind. Be persistent. NEVER dismiss a suicidal act or word as a cry for attention or an empty threatAssure your loved one that they are never alone. I understand that my experience may differ from that of other individuals who have had a loved one end their own life, but I am speaking from my own experience. Sarah desperately needed help, and I knew it. I did nothing about it and brushed all of her issues under the rug because I thought she was being selfish when she would start drama at family gatherings, or that she was being inconsiderate when she would go for months without contacting anyone in our family. She needed someone to come to her. I had for so long dismissed her problems because she preferred to act as if nothing in the world bothered her, that she was not afraid of anything or anyone, when in reality she needed someone to just be there for her. To love her when she was the most unlovable, and to hold her hand when she was pushing you away. 

Along the same vein, everyone you meet is fighting a war you know nothing about. I have always liked to think of myself as a genuinely friendly person, but it is very much intentional now. Never underestimate the power of a smile or a kind “Hello, are you enjoying your day so far?”. What I am asking you to do is take notice of other people’s feelings. Pay attention. Be kind. Reach out. Your words may be exactly what someone is needing to hear. How could you possibly know if a stranger you’ve met or an acquaintance has been talked back down from the ledge? You couldn’t, so treat everyone with gentleness, respect, and kindness. I promise, you will not regret it. 

Each year, 700 individuals die from suicide, and an additional 5,500 are hospitalized due to self-inflicted injuries. That is just in Wisconsin.

Per year in the United States, 42,773 people take their own life. 117 per day. I am not excused. WE are not excused.

If you are interested in joining a growing force of people in our community in the fight against suicide, please contact me! The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Wisconsin chapter is holding its annual “Out of the Darkness” walk in Humboldt Park on October 2nd. When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

 *The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has advanced its efforts aimed at bringing awareness to the nation, and in this instance Milwaukee, as well as much-needed help to those suffering from a mental illness or a past suicide attempt. In Wisconsin, 50% of all people who ended their life had a known mental illness. The AFSP focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.*



If We Were Meant to Stay in One Place, We’d Have Roots Instead of Feet.

A little bird tells me that it has been 4 months since I had filled their news feed with a fresh post (or two!). I acknowledged this, and explained that I have been adjusting to a new, but familiar, normal. I felt like I was floating in some sort of limbo-land 4 months ago, and that is not to say that I may not occasionally feel that way at times, but recent events solidify my belief that things truly do happen for a reason, and rarely make sense as they happen. Some exciting things have happened when I least expected them to, and I would love to tell you all about it!

In the midst of collecting unemployment checks each week and applying for jobs I didn’t want simply so that I could say I was actively looking for work, something sort of perfect happened. You see, I had this thought in my head last October that I wanted to enroll in classes. I wanted to do it for me, but I also wanted to do it for the improvement it would make in my job situation. The university I selected was not exactly cheap, but it was the only one in the area that offered degrees fully online if I so chose, and additionally offered them live, so I could either attend in person or log in from home or work and watch the class as it was happening. Becoming a student at Lakeland University was going to be a financial sacrifice (among the other sacrifices one makes to pursue higher education as a working parent), but it was one I was willing to make.

Fast forward to mid-April and I (still jobless of course, and not exactly hating every moment 😉) stumbled across a job ad for an Administrative Assistant position at the Lakleland University campus in Milwaukee. I had to blink a few times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. How great would it be if I were to secure a position at a university where I was a current student? Pretty opportune, if you ask me.

Well, that’s exactly what happened! I started working at Lakeland in May, and I am loving it. I am gaining exposure to the world of higher-ed, and have the opportunity to work alongside the working-professional instructors, academic advisers, and admissions each day. I get to see the workings of a university from the inside out, and familiarize myself with the technology and administration aspects. And all the while, I am receiving tuition remission. If I need to get to class, I walk down the hall. If I need assistance, my adviser is 2 offices down. In addition to being a family-oriented institution that caters to the working adult student, I have a work-life-school balance that I could have only dreamed of in my previous position. I am not saying this to boast, but to prove to everyone (especially myself! Because let me tell you, did I ever doubt it before) that an event that completely crushed me was a blessing in disguise. I pursued my goal of continuing education, and life caught up to meet me. I am not super woman, and perhaps life knew that better than I.

In other news, Jeremy and I are apparently creating our very own baseball team- we are expecting another boy in early December! I am 17 weeks along. Upon first digesting the thought of starting. All. Over. with a brand-new snuggle bug (because let’s be real.. we literally just ditched the last of the overnight pull-ups 3 months ago), I must admit I was suddenly all “Wait. What just happened?! This is not exactly the ideal time to be adding members to our little group, what with a new job and classes and all!”. But let me tell you. I am so excited! All I can think about is the snuggling and the warmth and the baby-love smell, and the rolls. Oh, the rolls.

And while we are on the subject of babies, I am not sure I can accurately describe how precious Mason is to me, and I cannot help but be thrilled that I am having another boy. The thoughtfulness, curiosity, and kindness with which Mason navigates his daily life make me so proud. If my next son is the same way, I will practically burst. Little girls are wonderful as well I am sure, but what makes boys so great from my experience is in the protectiveness Mason shows towards his Mama, his sensitivity towards others and their feelings, and his unabashed attitude towards all that is important to him in his short life thus far. It is so innocent and humbling to me, and if he can keep those values into adulthood, what a great man he will be.

This means I have 23 weeks to fit in one more semester of school, dig up the onesies and booties (!!!) from their hiding place in storage, and enjoy our family in the moment, because life will certainly be changing for the better soon… Again!

Enjoy the rest of this sunny weekend! xo



Happy Friday, Beautiful People.


Third Ward, MKE.

 Mason had a sleepover with his Munka and Bumpa last night. When Jeremy got home from work he, Charmaine, and I stopped at Gille’s Custard Stand and ordered all the fried things. We spent the night playing Betrayal at House on the Hill  with Jason. We have all recently gotten into playing unique board games, such as Tokaido, Oddville, and Exploding Kittens. It’s very possible that these games could be played all night long if you let it happen. It is quite imperative that I get back on something that even slightly resembles a sleep schedule, because while I used to think that 9pm was late, I can’t make myself go to sleep before midnight lately. Of course, Mason still wakes up at the same time every morning, therefore I am tired all. The. Time. Even without a full time job, there do not seem to be enough hours in the day for everything I want to accomplish. Sigh.

I headed to the Third Ward this morning for coffee and retail therapy (ahemm…Anthropologie). I continue to go back and forth on the job front; on one hand, I miss all of the social aspects that go along with a full time job: the coworkers who quickly become friends, the nights out, the camaraderie. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying this unplanned time off. I am very thankful for all of the extra time I am spending with Mason, and learning more about who I am as an individual, but there are good days and there are bad days, as with anything in life. Sometimes, I can’t believe how much work consumed me, and other days I sit in my living room with cold coffee wishing I could bash my head against a wall and scream at the top of my lungs because Mason doesn’t know how to talk or play at a decibel any lower than elephant stampede. As with everything else I contemplate publicly in this blog, I don’t want to sugar coat it. I am not a very good stay-at-home-mom. I don’t have that kind of patience. I’m too antsy and energetic. I am a worker. I need the self-gratification that success in the workplace brings. I am hoping that when classes begin in 2 weeks, I will have a similar satisfaction.

I have submitted my resume to a few different companies with job openings that fit what I would be looking for, but every time I end up sitting back and questioning if I would even be happy in that position. You guys, I am genuinely going insane. I actually googled “Should I be a doctor” because I had a physical earlier this week and my doctor is so upbeat and happy, and her attitude is contagious. Of course, after reading one article I quickly came back down to Earth. HELL NO, I don’t want to be a doctor. I like to help people, but it takes a certain kind of heart to DEDICATE their lives to helping people. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I don’t think I am capable of that. Again, just being honest.

So what am I capable of? I like to create and be a leader and communicate and be the center of attention. I think I would shrivel up and die if I was put behind a desk for 8 hours a day. What can I do that would make me happy? Not sure that the answer will be easily found. I would love nothing more than to open an antique shop (it has been my dream for years), but it is simply not feasible in this stage of life to do so. Or perhaps it’s that I simply lack the faith it takes to make it a reality. I suppose that is something that no one but myself can decide.

Well, here we are at the end of another work week. I hope you all have a splendid Friday night!


The 52 Lists Project- List 2


  • Holly Golightly- Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Fun-loving, charming.
  • Scarlett O’Hara- Gone with the Wind: Determined, selfish, feisty.
  • The Cheshire Cat- Alice in Wonderland: Mysterious.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow- Pirates of the Caribbean: Free-spirit.
  • Ted Mosby- How I Met Your Mother: Emotional, romantic, determined.
  • Blair Waldorf- Gossip Girl: Empowered, intelligent, classy.
  • Jessica Day- New Girl: Weird, lovable.
  • Sugar Kane- Some Like it Hot: Odd, beautiful.
  • Mia Thermopolis- Princess Diaries: Sarcastic, funny.
  • Iron Man: Hilarious, sarcastic.
  • George Bailey- It’s a Wonderful Life: Good, leader.
  • Alice- Alice in Wonderland: Courageous.
  • Katniss Everdeen- The Hunger Games: Brave.
  • Nancy Drew: Assertive.
  • Schmidt- New Girl: Hilarious.
  • Ferris Bueller- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Goofy.
  • Don Draper- Mad Men: Complicated, good-hearted.
  • Sheldon Cooper- The Big Bang Theory: Genius, hilarious.
  • Edna Mode- The Incredibles: Wise.
  • Barney Stinson- How I Met Your Mother: AWESOME.
  • Atticus Finch- To Kill a Mockingbird: Moral, just.
  • Phoebe Buffay- Friends: Loving, silly.
  • Winnie the Pooh: Timeless.
  • Michael Scott- The Office: Awkward, funny.
  • Jane- Becoming Jane: Strong.
  • Jack Skellington- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Gentleman.
  • Marshall Eriksen- How I Met Your Mother: Family-oriented, kind, emotional.

Who would be on your list?