Summer has finally hit Wisconsin.  You hate to get crabby because it’s a change!  It’s heat!

And we just don’t get that enough to take it for granted.

But when you live in a house with no central A/C, even though you told yourself that was a sticking point when looking for houses and got bedazzled by things like coffered ceilings and lead glass, you get annoyed.

There is nothing like being hot and sweaty outside and walking inside to a hot and sweaty house.  Bleh.  Lucky for us, those weeks are very few so we deal with it.  It’s not like we live in the South or something.  A few window units are placed in key rooms to help, and it does.  While I hate-hate-hate the sound of a window A/C unit (it’s the ugliest white noise out there)…it is better than waking up at 2 am and sticking to your sheets from sweat.

I’ve bonded over this issue with a neighbor friend of mine.  She doesn’t have it either.  What joy!  Someone who understands!  Let’s be crabby together!  And bitch we did.

You cannot talk to central air people about this.  They do not understand – it’s like childbirth.  When you’re 20 years away from it, you remember the pain like a dull paper cut.  They look at you funny and move on.  It’s the same stare that people with attached garages and automatic garage doors give you.

Why would you pay for an old house and live like you’re camping?

It’s a good question.  One I sometimes ask myself when I’m having a pity party.

But then I remember what I love about old houses and like it or not, they force you to give up some luxuries just like the home owners before you did.  You not only get to enjoy the exquisite old craftsmanship, but you get to live somewhat in that era too.

Although I’m sure old Edith wasn’t cooking Annie’s Mac n Cheese while surfing the web and listening to rock music.

Sometimes new things are better than old.


Mothers Day has become a comfortable routine for us.  We’ve always taken a picnic (my choice of course: cold fried chicken using Lawry’s seasoning salt, 7 layered salad, deviled eggs, special sodas and brownies) down to the Chicago Botanical Garden and spent the day there.  I enjoy it – still do, but this year decided I did not feel like braving the chillier-than-picnics-should-be weather and seeing the beautiful gardens in phase 1 of the growing season…again.  I asked that our trip be delayed for another weekend in the summer so we can see the plants in another stage and instead had a “staycation” at home.  All agreed.

Brilliant.  Seriously, you have to do this.

From wake up to bedtime I hung around the family, by myself and would have met a friend for a drink had I planned this in advance.  Keith made the meals, took care of the kids and I was to wander and do as I pleased.  If they started annoying me, I’d just go into the sunroom and craft, sit outside and read, garden or watch TV.  And sleep.  I slept a lot.  It was bliss!  Did not cost me a cent and I got to be around the family while not in charge of a thing.  Dirty diaper?  Dad took care of it.  Showers?  All Dad.  I swear I’m doing this twice a year – once for my birthday and once for Mother’s Day.  Obviously Keith’s willing to do this played a big part in making it non-stressful and enjoyable.

Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is expected to be whatever Keith feels like doing.  This usually ends with me not knowing the plans up until the night of Father’s Day.  No set plans are made, no special requests (expect for sleeping in a bit and some breakfast, which I did not do this year and let me tell you I heard about it…oops).  It usually ends with me in exasperation trying to pry his dreams and desires out of him.

Not exactly the organized holiday that honors mom.  Neither of us really had the holiday we envisioned.  So now I’m trying to think of a fun “day for dad” do-over.  Any suggestions that are low cost or free would be appreciated!

For someone who has a strong love of organization, I clearly lack it in my own personal life.  My house might be organized, my shelves purged and arranged, my closets labeled and my supply closet neatly stocked…but ask me to fill my hours in the day wisely and well-balanced and I fail.  It’s like a closet stuffed with fifteen years worth of clutter, teetering on the brink of avalanche-like destruction.

If I could keep my schedule as well divided and accessible as my note card and stationary drawers, we’d be good.  Unstoppable.  Super mom.  But unfortunately I perform as a much more raggedy version of that super hero.  All I have to say is Thank God for the chalkboard calendar and my yellow note pad or this family would be sinking fast into a pit of missed appointments and PTA volunteer tragedy.

I’m just beginning to realize it.  After child three my balancing abilities were completely out of whack.  I’m sure at some point I’ll regain control of this flailing ship – like the Franklin Covey apprentice that I was.  I learned to organize with the master, people.  My biggest thrill was the new binder and graphic selections of the year.  Those days are gone for a moment.

If I miss your birthday, send your card two months early, forget to call you or email so far after the fact that you have forgotten why you even emailed me in the first place…take comfort in knowing that it’s temporary.

Like the Dr. Seuss book my life has become…Which Way?  That Way?  This Way?  Yes Way!

We did it!  We are now done with Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.  I think it is a great reference book to keep on hand and reference as you move through the stages.  But since most of us are stuck back on chapter 7, reading about everyone’s success stories while you are trying to pinch a penny really just makes you want to throw recycled Christmas cards at the debt-free jerks.  How dare they rub their lifestyles in our face????

Clearly, I’ll be here for a while.

Dave believes that the real danger in having great wealth is materialism.  If you want some further references, Affluenza is a great book that was written back in the ‘90s – but they were dead right as to how it will all go down.  Kind of eery to read it now and a little remorseful to have not listened way  back when.  There is supposedly a film to go with it, which I would love to see.

Another paradox to wealth is that it makes you more of what you are.  If you are a jerk now, when you are wealthy you will be king of the jerks.  If you are generous now, you will become most generous.  So ask yourself what you want to be.  If you aren’t there yet, work on your character while you get out of debt.   Money is not the root of all evil.  The LOVE of money is.  I think we all know that though, right?  Obviously money is a huge responsibility or there would not be so many people failing at controlling it.  (Myself included)

I will need to come back to this.  To cheer, yell or be encouraged.  You haven’t heard the last of Dave Ramsey here.  We are still on this journey and will be for some time.

I have a hard copy of the book for anyone who leaves a response as to why the Total Money Makeover has helped them or not helped them.  I’ll pick one at random and mail the copy free of charge!  Just my way of thanking you for patiently waiting for me to wrap this baby UP.

Leave me a comment if you would like to be included in the drawing.

Well, THAT was a long break!  May kicked my ass up and down.  How did that happen?  I swear that is my worst month of the year organizationally and mentally.  You would think December would be but maybe I’m prepared more for that.  I can see the crazy coming.  May just sneaks up and the next thing I know it’s June and I have three kids staring at me asking what we’re going to do today…every day.  All.  Day.  Long.

And then for kicks I got hit with the worse stomach virus I’ve ever encountered.  I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick in my whole life.  I literally laid in bed for 48 hours straight and not because I wanted to.  Too nauseated to read, I watched what felt like 20 hours of Gilmore Girls.  Toward the end Keith was looking a little battle weary from dealing with the kids and a sinus infection.  We both just stared at each other at one point.  This can’t be happening.  We have no one for back up.  No family around – no one to take a potentially germ-tainted child because they are related to you.  It never felt more lonely living this far away from family.  But it is done.  And thank goodness it did not happen next weekend while I’m single parenting it.  We don’t want to think about that scenario.  It was a little too “fend for yourself” as it was around here.  E has recently been the front runner in crazy which has made everything harder.  A dark horse taking the lead…not expected but shouldn’t be surprised given our genetic track record so far.  At least he off sets it with cuteness galore and lots of hugs and kisses.

So now I’m in a funk and still a little battled-fatigued from the weekend.  I got some thrifting therapy in tonight and I even forced myself to try on thrift store jeans and found a pair to relieve my fading, patched up favorites a bit.

Any funk-relieving tips would be appreciated.  What do you do when your window panes begin to resemble prison bars and you start to come up with implausible conspiracy theories as to why you cannot seem to work out and lose weight?


We will be finishing up Dave Ramsey this week!  And I have a give-away too so stay tuned….

See, here’s the scenario:

Girl has no money (see girl cry)

Girl finds love and self-worth in thrift stores no matter how sad that might make the girl look

Girl buys too many Pyrex dishes and realizes she can no longer keep spending at thrift stores all the time

no spending = better

Girl sees beautiful china cabinet and has found the perfect way to ditch her “does not fit the space, not the right color wood but too nice to get rid of” other one

Girl gets a plan together, will sell current one for the same price, if not a bit more on Craig’s List and completely recoup the cost, making the transition “free”

Girl convinces husband to go get it, ignoring evil glares and thick attitude from husband that is becoming more and more common with these “odd requests”

Husband, although he will never fully admit it out of principle, really likes it and is willing to go along with the mid-day inconvenience, seeing the complete brilliance in the girl’s logic and taste.

Okay, I made the “brilliance” part up.  But the rest is true.



I always hate the first post after a long pause in blogging.  It feels awkward.  Do I explain where I’ve been?  Or update on all the things I have been wanting to write about but haven’t had time?  Long story short:  May always creeps up on me and then explodes into the craziest month of the year, besides December.  April jogs along slowly and then before I know it, May arrives and the teacher appreciation activities, volunteer obligations, school events collide  and my necessary speed overtakes my natural pace and I end up running around in circles with a circus theme continuously playing in my head.

I’ve also been  busy helping a friend try to pass an ordinance to legalize urban chickens in our town.  By the reactions, you’d think we were proposing to slaughter cute puppies.

I think there are a large group of people excited about the movement, understand it’s place in food sustainability issues and see the future of eco-progression.  And not all of these people want to keep chickens in their backyards, but they understand the value and are supportive of others who want to do it.  And then there is the other side…the people so against it that they are spewing hate everywhere.  People convinced we will all die from avian flu, rats will overtake the city and everyone will want to have a dirt floor so we can admire our new third world kitsch.

Naturally you would all understand if my chicken-ownership will cause me to start burning old tires in the back, right?  Goes without saying…

If only they were as passionate about the real problems that plague this city like gang violence, the ones that will drive their earth-loving, community-minded hippie neighbors out of town.  Can’t we keep a few gardeners happy with a few chickens?  I mean, Canadian Geese poop all over your yard anyway, and I don’t see you dying from strange diseases yet.


And I get that not everyone wants chickens – it’s not for everybody.  Clearly, if we were all being forced to OWN a chicken, I would understand an uprising.  But the opinions based in fear or plain ignorance are wearing me down.  If one is against chickens then clearly they shouldn’t need a biology lesson on why a rooster is not necessary, as they would have looked into it enough to at least know that.


I decided to post of pic of my very first best friend – we met in Sister Corcoran’s second grade class in 1981.
And in 2003, ended up buying matching pajama sets at the Gap.

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to a good friend’s spring celebration at her new house.  The house was an amazing find for them and I am so happy to see it and celebrate a new beginning with her.  I knew a good portion of the women there but in very different capacities.  A diverse group of personalities but also a great common interest in food, ecology, social issues and of course a fondness for the hostess.

As I looked around the room it got me thinking of my own group of close friends and what an amazing diversity in relationships I have.  All of my friends serve a unique purpose in my life – a friendship that is there for a reason.  Like:

one who shares a deep friendship with both me AND Keith,

one who shares a love of cooking and eating and eating and cooking and then some more,

one who pushes me to workout, who keeps calling no matter how many excuses I can think of to not run,

one who has known me the longest and can validate my college memories for me… and no matter how old I get, makes me feel 20 again,

The one who shares almost all of the same interests and hobbies with me and embraces my quirks,

one who pushed me along early in motherhood when I felt like life was to be forever lived in a fog,

the one that I’ve developed an awesome relationship with mostly through Facebook and can’t wait to reconnect with one day in real life,

one who teaches me to sew and has opened all kinds of new doors for me,

one who has uncomfortable knowledge of my brief self-appointed Presidential position of the Rugby Junior High Beatles Fan Club,

the one who allows me some undeserved trash talk at Catan and giggles with me about nothing,

one who always offers to take my children, despite knowing how challenging they can be,

the one who feels like family no matter how close or far they live across the vast lake,

one for whom I had to give an eulogy at the age of 15 at her funeral and never got to formally say goodbye,

one who gets exactly what it is like to be a stay at home mom with three kids and a husband who travels because she is one herself,

one who I can call in a moments notice and meet anywhere in the country – if only that moment were available to me,

the one who through continuous strained relationship issues, I’ve grown a lot as a person in dealing with,

one who can help me remember the names of all those high school classmates I can no longer pull from my ever-aging memory,

one who encourages me to help the community and become a better citizen,

the one who befriended me the minute I moved to a strange, new city,

the one who is low maintenance and always forgives me for the lack of attention to the friendship,

the one who was there while I was learning the ropes in my professional career and believed in me immensely…

You are somewhere in here.  Thank you.

Some people have artistic talent and can paint, draw or take beautiful photographs.  Others have a beautiful voice for singing or natural acting talent.  I was apparently at the end of the line when God was handing out the talent.

My gift?  Justification.  I can justify anything and believe me, I’m sure that awesome talent led to some of the debt we are now trying to get rid of.

A few weeks ago I ran across this screen at the thrift store.  It immediately caught my eye and I began mentally searching through our house trying to figure out where I would place it.  Not surprisingly, no corner of our house screamed I NEED A SCREEN!  So I walked away and continued to walk away from it for two weeks.  Every time I stopped in I would run over to make sure it was still there and double check the price to see if it had been discounted yet.  Cool items don’t stay long – either it is butt ugly and I am blind or no one else could think of where to put the screen either.

One drawback to the sunroom is when I’m in there working late at night I feel like I am in a fishbowl.  I wasn’t keen on putting up shades and curtains would have been expensive.  What to do?  If only I had a screen…YES!!!!

The next morning I was shoving it into my station wagon and have been using it ever since.  Doesn’t block all the windows but at least there is a bit more privacy…and a funky cool screen that I just adore.

Note:  We will discuss Chapter 13 next of the Dave Ramsey book.  It is also the last chapter.  Look for it soon!

The “beer rockers” and where I store my fabrics for sewing

The other side and my crafty storage

I want to write, I keep meaning to write, I open the “new post” page on wordpress for a reminder.  And then I close it all up and go to bed.  Such is life right now.

Spring break made me realize how very few months left of school I had until summer break and how little I will get done when that happens.  No getting around it:  my kids are challenging.  J has Asperger’s, which has a laundry list of issues, L has speech issues and a mom who consistently forgets to work with her, E is in the throes of the terrible twos and add on top of that the usual kid things like sibling rivalry and some health issues on my end that have popped up and I end up being one exhausted mom at the end of the day.  School allows somewhat of a break in which other things in life can be dealt with like laundry, cleaning, errands and yes, writing.  Ah, school.  How I love thee.  I really enjoy being excited to see them after the bit of a break.

Except that I haven’t written in ages, nor have I picked up a book lately.  My kid free days left are minimal because E only goes to school two days a week and I have been using them for major spring cleaning projects.  “Clean” in our house means organization.  Cleaning out drawers, closets, moving rooms around, rotating seasonal and outgrown clothing and basically getting the house in order.  Deep cleaning like washing baseboards, cleaning windows and other usual spring projects will be left for another day…or year.  I can stand a little dirt, but a messy closet will send me over the edge.

But while it causes some stress in our life – it also has been therapeutic.  Purging is the equivalent of detox for me.  Less stuff in my life equals more room in my head.  More space to breathe and enjoy basic things.  We recently moved Keith’s office upstairs and made the sunroom a family room again.  Sunny breakfasts together while listening to the Beatles, evenings sitting in the rockers enjoying a beer, art projects, my new crafting and sewing hobby space- all right there.  It is a lot more fun to get that stuff out and work on it when you know exactly where it is and you don’t have to dig deep in a bottomless drawer to figure it out.

But tick tock.  The clock stops in a month and I don’t want to be spending my summer days organizing my house.  My time will be better spent hanging out with the kids and soaking in some sun, working on the garden, enjoying night fires and taking a few deep breaths.  I’ll be back to regular writing soon, but in the meantime I’ll get on here as much as I can.  If you don’t see me, assume I am snuggled up under a blanket “watching” the same episode of Gilmore Girls over and over because I am NOT falling asleep missing parts of it.


Simply Spent is a blog dedicated to recording what happens to a family when they throw the credit cards out the window and start living on cash alone. And don't worry...there is a budget for lots of wine and whiskey.

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