Cottage Weekend and Fussy Finley

We made it up to the cottage for the first time this summer, and it was a relaxing weekend. It was a semi-successful first weekend getaway with Finley as well.

Our three and a half hour drive up to the Lakewood area began at 5:45pm. Finley was very alert for the first twenty minutes and seemed to like looking out the window (not that she can see anything).

After a brief stop at Panera for dinner, we continued on and maybe made the mistake of not feeding Finley.

For the last twenty minutes of the ride, she was fuh-ssy! I kept her occupied with a pacifier while blasting the water sounds from the most amazing app: Relax Melodies. Thanks to Brad and Jess for sharing this lifesaver with me! Unfortunately, Finley had a rough start to the nighttime; she wouldn’t latch on when I was trying to nurse her and would cry inconsolably. Normally this means she has to burp, but that wasn’t the case this time. After an hour of fussiness, she fell asleep and ended up having a decent night.

My mom, sister, Brody, Finley and I spent most of Saturday on the deck overlooking the lake. The weather was perfect, and there was enough shade that Finley could be outside.


Brody found another use for the car seat.


Not only do the humans love the cottage but the dogs as well. Moose and Frankie haven’t exactly been neglected since Finley’s arrival but their activity has decreased. I still need to master walking Finley in the Bob stroller and walking them simultaneously. Also, the weather has been nasty, and the mosquitoes at the dog park are horrendous. Long story short, they had lots of fun playing in the water, taking walks, and even sleeping on the deck and dock.

Moose found a baby snapping turtle. He was very intrigued by it but didn’t try eating it.


My mom was watching Teddy, my uncle’s dog. Check out that killer underbite. He got along fine with Moose and Frankie, but Brody was not a fan – he just dislikes small dogs.


Finley spent time with her aunt. That rocking chair was my great-grandma’s, so Finley’s great-great-grandma.


And for the last picture, we’ll finish out with a selfie of Finley and I.


We had a rough night after getting back from the cottage. From 8:30-10:00pm, she was SOOO upset. Nothing was working. She kept showing signs of hunger but again refused to eat. Brody and I felt so defeated, but luckily my smart husband suggested taking a walk…and she fell asleep. Not wanting to disturb her, she was placed in the pack ‘n play in her car seat until she woke up at 1:30am. Hey – whatever works.

So while being at the cottage was mostly fantastic, Friday and Sunday night made it not the best weekend. We’re crossing our fingers that it was just a fluke because we’d like to go back up to the cottage in two weekends.

What was the best part of your weekend?
Mamas: What’s your go-to trick to soothe an upset baby?

A Weekend of Stories

As promised, I have a few movie reviews and two mid-book “talks” to give. The fact that it’s a week “late” shouldn’t matter, right?

I love talking about books and movies! In particular, I love getting books in the hands of my students. It makes me so happy to see a student who probably hasn’t read an entire book for years finish a book I gave him/her. Modeling how adults interact with books (and movies) and each other regarding books is so important. Some of my students come from text deficient environments – their parents don’t read the paper, they don’t keep books in their house, and they don’t share books with each other. It’s sad but when there are more pressing needs (food, job, money, etc.), I get why books take a back seat.

Just like movies, books transport use to new places and new situations. As Kelly Gallagher names it, books provide us with “imaginative rehearsals” for the real world. Of course I will never be like Katniss, living in District 12, and participating in The Hunger Games, but with every book or movie, we can learn a little about ourselves and maybe even become better people.

So as you recall, my sister rounded up some of the most cheesiest movies (besides The Hunger Games) from the last few years: Dolphin’s Tale, Joyful Noise, Big Miracle, and We Bought a Zoo. Keep in mind my sister is 27, I am 29, and my mom is 58. No kids, just adults and hours of feel good Disney.

After raking, we started with The Hunger Games. This was my third time seeing it but my mom’s first. Unfortunately she hasn’t read the books, so she had some questions along the way. I was very happy with this film’s adaptation of the book. Of course the movie is never as good as the book, but this one came pretty close in my opinion.

Post-teenage blood bath, I took a nap. For two hours. Apparently raking for two hours wore me out and I needed to spend equal amount of time sleeping. It was glorious. My mom is super 80’s and uses electric blankets. I was all warm and cozy and slept like a log.

You know that groggy feeling you have after napping? I had major fog brain, but a nice two mile walk with the family and dogs took care of that.

That evening we watched We Bought a Zoo. I was looking forward to this one and had tried multiple times this summer to convince the kids I nanny for to choose it whenever we went to Redbox. Overall I liked it; it was a cute, feel-good movie. However, I did think they overdid the plot line involving the mom who had recently passed away.

When I wasn’t watching movies or napping, I was reading Loving Frank.

This book follows the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress (they were both married). It’s well-written but not a fast moving book. It’s interesting to see how both were breaking all kinds of social codes from that time period. I believe that although it’s fiction, parts of the book are based on Wright’s and his mistress’ actual lives.

And now, a week later, I am watching New Moon as I recoup from a girls’ weekend up in Minocqua. I have some great pictures to share, and hopefully it won’t take me a full week to get my s*** together.

Happy Sunday night!

Cottage Clean-Up

Greetings from northern Wisconsin!

It’s a girls’ weekend at the cottage. Brody caught a flight to DC for some family matters, and the dogs, although male, don’t count because they’re not human and they can’t help with clean-up.

My sister, Laura, and I met in Oshkosh last night to drive the rest of the way together. We stopped at Panera for dinner, and I impressively ate a roasted turkey avocado BLT sandwich while driving without spilling much on me. #unsafedrivingsuccess

Upon arrival at 9pm, Moose hightailed it for the lake. He loves to “fish.” At 5:30am, he was again out there.


For about two hours this morning, the three of us raked, bagged, and dumped leaves. It went by quickly and the dogs kept us entertained. Unfortunately, they were lazy and didn’t feel like helping. Jerks.


The eight bags of leaves took up most of my trunk, but Laura still managed to squeeze in the back.


We worked hard this morning and now we have some movies to watch.

My sister brought these movies. Some I am more excited to watch than others, like Joyful Noise. Ehh…not my thing. I am looking forward to watching The Hunger Games for the third time, though, and We Bought a Zoo. I’ll give a brief movie review of these tomorrow.

Have a nice, relaxing Saturday!

Hiatus No More

Hi, friends!

My hiatus from blogging just happened to coincide with a hiatus from a normal working GI system. Crypto was exhausting…literally. I am happy to be back to both blogging and, well, you know.

Although that darn parasite limited my activities for a week and a half, I was still able to keep up with a regular workout schedule (yah for BodyPump and kickboxing) and do a handful of other fun things.

1. I went to dinner at Pizza Brutta with a few friends; it was delicious, but I think I still prefer Cafe Porta Alba.

2. I went to an RPM (spin) class with my friend, Ellie. This class kicked my butt! After the third song, I was a sweaty monster. Thank God the class was only fifty minutes. Spin is hard, and while I didn’t love it, I have a feeling the fact that it’s so hard for me means I should be doing it.

3. I went up to my cottage. This place is lovely and so relaxing. The weather wasn’t the greatest, so I did a lot of reading (The 19th Wife…which I just finished this afternoon). Brody and I also met my sister’s boyfriend; he was great and fit right in.

4. I began thinking about school…you know, my real job as a teacher. While I enjoy the summer and my job as a nanny, I do begin to look forward to school right around this time of the summer. Part of me is excited and part of me is overwhelmed. The first day of school will be here before I know it.

5. I bought a new tv! Actually, Brody picked it out and bought it. Our main tv was one Brody bought after graduating law school. This one is pretty, extremely skinny, and has 3D capabilities. Fancy schmany. I even figured out how to turn it on and change the channel this morning without crying, calling Brody, or giving up.

6. I watched the Olympics. My favorite has been gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. Moose’s favorite was men’s gymnastics. This was not a random, one second kind of thing; his eyes were glued to the screen for a good five minutes.

7. I made mac ‘n cheese per Brody’s request. Carbs and melted cheese = happiness. While this dinner fueled Brody’s late night hockey game, it gave me the energy to watch the women’s vault and fall asleep immediately after.

It feels good to be back.

What summer Olympic sport is your favorite?
Have you tried any new workouts recently?
What is your favorite comfort food dinner?

My Happy Place: The Cottage

My brain is all over the place, and I’m not in the happiest spot.  There’s lots of uncertainty in my future involving Brody (who is still in the hospital….I know, insane) and the Madison Marathon (likely cancelation of the full due to heat and humidity).

Whenever I’ve been asked to think of my happy place or my personal utopia, I think of my cottage.  Growing up, my family went to the cottage EVERY weekend in the summer.  For the most part, I always enjoyed it.  Even when I couldn’t find a friend (or lots of friends) to come up, I managed to entertain myself by reading on a raft just past our dock.

This past weekend’s experience “up north” wasn’t as positive or relaxing as it normally is, but I still managed to capture a few images that can remind me of happier, calmer times and memories that put a smile on my face.

This isn’t my family’s cottage but used to be owned by my mom’s parents.  My mom and dad used to come up here when they were engaged and just married.  When I was a year old, they bought the cottage that stands directly to the left of this cottage (which I’ll share pictures of at a later date).

My parents bought this cottage from my grandparents ten or more years ago and had plans to tear it down and have a larger lot with no close neighbors.  Unfortunately, that plan fell through when my dad got sick, so they had to sell it.  Long story short, this winter, the roof leaked and the house is filled with mold.  They’ll be tearing it down this week, or may have already.

I have memories of the tree that grew through the middle of the deck off the house, having happy hour after all the boats couldn’t make wake (4pm on our lake), belting out 80’s power ballads with my sister on the floor of the room off the kitchen, and sneaking a wine cooler with a few friends (Risha and maybe Rena?) when I was in high school.  Although it was never the prettiest cottage, it was this cottage that led to my parents buying the cottage next door, and because of that, I am sad to see it go.


I miss my dogs.  They’ve been with my mom since Monday.  I took this photo Saturday morning before Brody had woken up (and obviously before the rhabdo situation began).  Moose is independent and Frankie is dependent, and this photo shows those qualities.

Up at the cottage, Moose loves to “fish.”  Notice how fish is in quotation marks; he doesn’t and never will catch anything.  He just walks up and down the shore line, occasionally lunging at a shadow, a minnow, or if he’s lucky, a small blue gill.  Boo, the dog I grew up with, did this EXACT same thing.  I swear Boo’s spirit embodies Moose’s body at the cottage.  Moose gets so into his fishing, he refuses to interrupt it with a trip to dry ground.  Yup, that’s him peeing.

Frankie isn’t into the whole fishing thing, but he does love to jump into the lake and retrieve balls. He could keep going for hours, and despite excessive panting, his tail wags and he wants more.  I’ll have to get a video of it this summer and share it.

The dogs eventually wear themselves out up at the cottage and crash on the cool, fake-wood floors of our cottage. On Sunday of last weekend, my mom got up at 4am (I’ll explain why another time) and Moose got up with her.  He whined to go outside and made a beeline for the sandy beach.  With it still dark, he laid down in the sand and waited until the sun started rise around 5am to begin fishing.  I believe I took this photo on Sunday morning around 10am, because after five hours of fishing, he was spent.


It’s interesting how the cottage has changed for me over the years, and yet I have always appreciated it.  When I was young, I loved to search the shoreline for cool rocks (sounds lame, but I swear it was so fun when I was seven).  As I got older, I brought friends up almost every weekend; we went tubing, skiing, and swimming.  In high school, it was common to have a bunch of friends (girls and boys) up for a weekend; my mom would feed us sandwiches, fruit, and Jiffy cake with Jiffy frosting for lunch.  Now as a married woman, the cottage offers relaxation and separation from a busy life.  Brody and I are (normally) able to slow down, read books, take naps on the dock, and go to bed early.

I’m looking forward to more positive, happy, and relaxing trips to the cottage this summer.

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Not much about this situation is fun, but Brody and I have been able to find the positives and sometimes crack a joke or too.

1) Brody’s nurse right now is Joe Piskula’s mom! He played hockey for the Badgers when they won the national championship and now plays in the AHL up in Canada. Brody had fun talking hockey with her for a while.

2) Brody’s firm sent him a plant arrangement.


3) Best Brody quote today: “I don’t need any food but you can dump my urine.” Let me explain: the doctor is requiring the nurses to track the fluid going in and out of Brody. As for the food, hospital food has been a little unappetizing and Brody hasn’t been a very good eater. Luckily, I have been bringing him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and animal crackers.

4) I was able to figure out the details of rolling over a 403b and 401a from my previous job into a 403b I currently contribute to. Exciting stuff, people!

5) Brody has taken to calling his IV bags of fluid juice.

He has taken to calling the bottles he has to pee into his whizzle jugs. I will spare you a picture of those. You’re welcome.

6) As obvious from this second post of the day, I have had lots of time to blog and catch up on the blogs I follow. In particular, I enjoyed reading about the Reach the Beach relay race Monica and Tina participated in. I would love to do one of these one day!

7) The Langlade Hospital is brand new and the facilities show it. The rooms are spacious, modern, and clean. I have found refuge on this comfy recliner.


8) I have an amazing sub to take care of my classes while I am gone. She is a fabulous teacher and my students know her from when she subbed for me when we were in Maryland. Thanks again Joanna!

9) Our friend Bridget is hilarious: “So make a wish called back. They found out you were 30 and were gonna be okay and told me to go F myself. Sorry!” No offense to Make a Wish, which is an amazing organization that gives incredible opportunities to kids, but this made me laugh.

10) While Brody and I spent lots of time at the hospital, Moose and Frankie were able to take advantage of the cottage. With my mom up there, they roamed around, helped my mom landscape (i.e. chewed on wood chips), and went fishing (Moose, not Frankie). The cottage is probably their favorite place ever.

Brody’s CPK numbers have went up again. Boooo!!! Sunday night they were at 298,000; this morning they were down to 114,000; they are up again to 140,000. The doctor isn’t concerned but thinks it is just part of the flushing process. Considering they admit people with a count of 50,000, Brody’s are still ridiculously high. As I said before, a normal person is anywhere from 50 to 200.

This whole experience has been so surreal. This may top our story of our hot water heater starting on fire. That is a story for another time.

Goodnight folks!