Creating an Outdoor Space

Things are so chaotic right now…so much fear, violence, anger, anxiety, worry…between Covid 19 and the wrongful death of George Floyd and the protests and looting that followed, it’s just too much sometimes. Too, too much for my head and heart to handle. The United States is in so much turmoil, and I don’t know when it will end.

I’m an anxious person to begin with, but all of this turmoil has me seeking a mental health break. I’ve been praying a lot, journaling a lot, even started painting with watercolors to help calm my mind. It’s helped.

But I’m also am working on some space in my backyard because it has become a refuge for me. Thankfully, the weather is warm now and I’ve been hanging out a lot in my yard.

We have a storage shed that looks like a barn. It’s paint is wearing off and my husband wants to either get rid of it, or paint it. I love it the way it is.



It’s old and chippy and I like it that way.

I have been slowly carving out a space that is peaceful. I had a vintage cast iron baby crib sitting in my garage that I bought in the winter from a retired couple that were downsizing. I think I paid $40 for it…I’ve always wanted one because I had seen it upcycled into a day bed.

Now I don’t have a sunroom or screened in porch but I have a little space next to the barn that I thought would be a great space to set up the crib. I know my family thought I was bananas, but that’s nothing new when I get an idea in my head.


Right now, I have a crib mattress and I covered it with a painter’s drop cloth I had on hand. Soon I will be getting an outdoor mattress that could withstand the weather. For now, I’m just dragging the mattress into the garage if there’s rain in the forecast. I wonder what my neighbors think? But then again, I really don’t care.

I can’t figure out a style for my space, but I tried a couple stagings…

First up…Kitchy



I used some vintage linens just to see how I liked it. I love mid century linens!!




Then I tried a farmhouse look…








I love the details on this crib!




And then I tried a shabby chic look…













What do you think?

Whichever way, it’s a great place to recenter…

Here’s a view as you’re actually sitting there.




The branches actually make a natural canopy. And I can quietly watch the birds feeding at all my bird feeders.

I love to watch the hummingbirds flitting around and they don’t know I’m there.




I’m sorry for the way things are now…I have hope that better days are ahead. I will never take for granted how quickly things can change.

Wishing everyone peace and a peaceful space.



For the Love of Children’s Books

At dinner the other night, somehow we got to talking about books I would read to my boys when they were little. Books.  Most of them they don’t even remember. The ones they do remember, I have luckily kept aside so they may read to their own kids someday in the future. Interestingly, I have kept the books I adored as a child and then in turn read them to my own children. There is a scene in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan talks about how influential books are to young children, that when you read as a child it becomes a part of your identity like no other reading in your life. Something like that. Here are some of the books that I loved and read down to my own kids.


The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter. Each bear has his or her own house in a tree, each one different from the next. This was my absolute favorite, a gift from my Ciocia and my Nana or my mom read it to me over and over and over. We would image what tree house we would like to live in.

fourteen bears



Little Bunny Follows His Nose

About a Little Bunny off on an adventure for the day, following his nose to different locations. The best part is that it was a scratch and sniff book. I remember the chocolate mint cookie part was my favorite.

little bunny


Who’s a Pest?

This was the funniest book to me. I still quote parts of it when the situation is right. Poor Homer.

who's a pest


The Biggest Bear

This was actually my older brother’s book, but I liked it read to me too. It made me giggle but sad also. But don’t worry. It has a semi-happy ending.

The Biggest Bear: Ward, Lynd: 9780395150245: Books



Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever

This one! I remember it so very well! So many identifying pictures, so much to look at. Each page was a treasure. I remember passing by the construction pages as a child, but that is what my boys liked the most.

Richard Scarry

The Little Engine That Could

Who knew we were learning life lessons with this beloved book?

little engine

Absolutely anything by Dr. Suess. The cadence in his stories is second to none.

Green Eggs and Ham was my favorite!



Finally, a timeless book that speaks to all ages.

The Giving Tree

the giving tree


I’d like to know what books you remember as a child? Or, what books do you remember reading to your own children?

Stay safe,


Why “Feathers and Dimes”?

“He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust:  his truth shall be your shield and buckler.”



 I sit here on the first day of 2018 and feel vulnerable because I am about to share what is very precious to me…

Many people ask me why I have the name “Feathers and Dimes” for my blog, facebook page, Instagram page, etc..

I am hesitant to answer because I am afraid they will think I’m a bit crazy, a bit of a religious zealot, a bit out there.

But I’m not any of those things-I’m just a person who has noticed some things.

It all started many years ago, about 23 years ago to be exact. At least, that’s when I started to notice. I was a twenty something, living far from home, engaged to be married, starting my adult life. It was my Nana’s birthday, she had died several years earlier from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease, and I was missing her something awful. I was missing my whole family, trying to establish a life for myself in a strange place. Trying to figure out who I was, where I was going, blah, blah, blah.  I was sitting out on my balcony that overlooked the water, reading my Daily Guidepost, a devotional book my mom had sent me to help ease me through this transition…it was a warm summer morning, with an ocean breeze and birds singing and sunlight warming my skin. It was beautiful and perfect, but I was in tears, covered in sadness and just wanting the comfort that I always found in my Nana’s presence.

And then it happened. A beautiful, white feather floated down from the sky and landed right in middle of the page I was reading.

Of course I looked up into the sky to see where it came from. Just blue sky and clouds. I stopped crying and started wondering.

My Nana…is it possible she knew what I was going through? Someone up there knew what I was going through and gave me this gift? I didn’t know, but I knew it was a wonderful coincidence.

Sometime later I spoke with my mom on the phone and told her what happened. I remember very clearly what she said.

“Oh yeah, that happens to me sometimes, but I find dimes.”

I have always felt that I helped my Nana somehow in her last day. In full blown Alzheimer’s, she no longer recognized anyone. She was just a shell of the wonderful, loving person she was. Alzheimer’s Disease stole my grandmother from us and she was “living” in a nursing home, needing full time care. My grandfather faithfully visited her every single day. But she didn’t know him, or any of us, anymore. She didn’t talk or laugh anymore. She was just there, in that awful hospital bed, repetitively crinkling the sheets and blankets in her hand. I had just returned from my junior year in college for the summer and went to visit her. She was moaning and groaning. My grandfather was there and I could see how hard it was for him to see her like that. I told him to go home and I would stay with her. I asked the nurses to check on her because she seemed to be in pain. They couldn’t find anything wrong with her, her vital signs were stable, and she couldn’t speak to tell us what was wrong. I remember how pissed off I was at God that my Nana was living like this. “How unfair, how awful, how unjust are you, God?” All these things I said as I “prayed” for my grandma.

I sat real close to her and laid my head on her shoulder. I whispered in her ear…”It’s Ok, Nana,” I told her. “It’s time. We will be OK. We will miss you, but it’s time for you to go.” I prayed for God to take her, I couldn’t bare this life for her. She deserved so much better.

I stayed with her a while longer and then I left…That night we got the phone call from the nursing home that they thought the end was near. We rushed there but she had already passed…my Nana was gone.

That feather on her birthday was the first of many, many feathers I find in my life. And since that moment when my mom told me she finds dimes, I find dimes also.  Times when I am scared, feel alone, worried. Times when I am celebrating something. Random times when I’m just going about my day.

Here are some examples:

  • My sister and I and my young niece were travelling via Amtrak to New Orleans to attend my oldest brother’s graduation from graduate school. We sat down in the dining car to eat dinner and stuck to the wall was a beautiful white feather.
  • I had just had my 20 week ultrasound with my youngest child, and they had told us he had a marker for Down’s Syndrome. I was an anxious mess. When I opened my front door the following morning, there was a nest of feathers stuck to my welcome mat.
  • I had a job interview that I bombed completely: I mean, I couldn’t have messed it up any more if I tried-I even showed up on the wrong day! Feeling very confused and very bad about myself, I stepped into the elevator and found a feather on the elevator floor. And then the janitor that was in the elevator with me began to sing my favorite hymnal.
  • Speaking of jobs, many years prior to the above incident, I was driving home from a job interview that would mean moving to another state. Talk about plans up in the air! A bird literally flew in my open car window and started fluttering all around, and in the chaos, left many feathers behind.
  • In the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I watched my youngest, a budding guitarist, marvel at all the rock and roll paraphernalia. I was thinking how happy he looked. And there, in the middle of a huge exhibit, was a little, bright shining light. It was a dime.
  • I was having a particularly difficult day at work-I was near tears but was fighting it. Something caught my eye. There, by my foot underneath the desk, was a shiny, new dime.

I could honestly go on. But for a lot of the feathers and dimes that I have found, I have forgotten some of the stories behind them. I keep them all in two jars on my kitchen windowsill and I keep adding more feathers and more dimes as I find them. I also have them in my car, in my wallet, in my coat pockets. As I find them, I keep them.  I just know that this is more than just coincidence. I know that they are put in my path for a reason. Is it my grandmother, letting me know she is always with me? Is it a guardian angel or angels or guides? I am sometimes sure of it. Sometimes I think it is all part of the greater scheme of things I just don’t understand. Things I am not meant to comprehend. But I know now that when I get one of these “signs”, I don’t try to understand it, or make sense of it, or try to explain it.

I just say, “ I receive this.”



So now you know. And you may think I’m a bit off my rocker.  And you may judge me. But that’s OK now. I feel this needs to be shared. And I think a lot of people have similar stories and I would love to hear them.

Peace and Love and Feathers and Dimes,


The Curse

I finally realize my mother was probably right…

Picture this…

It’s about 1981 and I’m 10 years old. I’m in the fifth grade and it’s time for the much anticipated sex education curriculum at school. We are separated from the boys and told we are to bring our moms for a “special movie” to talk about growing up. Our bodies will be “changing”. We all heard about this “change” about to occur in our bodies. Most of us girls have older sisters who gave us the run down. I, however, didn’t have an older sister. I had my mom to tell me these things. And I had Judy Blume. Thank you, God, for moms and for Judy Blume.



My mom sat me down and told me how in a couple of years, I would be “becoming a woman” and every month my uterus would shed it’s lining and I would bleed for a week.

I remember thinking, “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? WHY WOULD I BLEED FOR A WEEK EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH?” I was the quintessential tomboy. I climbed trees and collected tadpoles, and played sports and did everything I could to keep up with my older brothers and their friends. I hated wearing a dress, had no interest in wearing a bra like some of my friends, and I sure didn’t have time to bleed for a week from “down there”. What a crock.

“Well, why?, “ I remember asking. “Why does this have to happen?”

My mom answered, “It’s Mother Nature’s way to prepare your body for having a child someday. When a baby is not created, your body has to get rid of the lining and the cycle starts all over again.”

So I asked the next question…”Well, how are babies made?”

Insert uncomfortable silence. “We don’t have to talk about that now,” she said. “Just know that it’s normal and natural for your body to do this as you grow older. I don’t want you to be scared or surprised.”

Mother Nature, huh? She must not like us much if she wants us to go through this. In fact, she must hate us. But if my mom said it was normal, then OK. I believed her.

But then she said, “In my day, we called it ‘The Curse’.”

“The Curse? Why?, “ I asked.

“Because Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden and now women are cursed with menstruation and pain during childbirth. And because every time you go on vacation or have something special planned or are wearing white, you’ll get your period.” My mom laughed when she said this.

“What???? I have to pay for Eve’s stupidity? And what does wearing white have to do with anything??? I guess I just won’t wear white, ever.” These are all the thoughts that went through my head. But again, I didn’t have time for this growing up stuff. There was a baseball game going on at the vacant field in my neighborhood and I was the pitcher and everyone was waiting for me.

Fast forward a couple years and I was still a tomboy, but I had a copy of “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.” I had read it about 4 times. Margaret was very excited to get her period. So maybe I should be, too.  I found out how babies were made, (thanks to our Encyclopedia Britannica and Amy Skrekrut who demonstrated on her hands what goes on…)


My friends and I were curious about this period thing and when it would happen to us. We took bets on who it would happen to first. Our best bet were the ones who were “most developed”. We even sat around my friend Annie’s basement and asked the Ouija Board when it would happen to us. I put the notion of “The Curse” out of my head.

And then it happened to me…An innocent 12 year old girl/woman. Instead of celebrating my womanhood, I cried and cried.  My mom was there for me. “Why are you crying? This is normal and natural, it’s ok.”

But I wanted to GO SWIMMING WITH ALL MY FRIENDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD!!! And now I couldn’t for 5-7days!!!!

“Well,” my mom laughed. “I told you it was The Curse.”  I moped and moped. This becoming a woman thing sucked.

(On a good note, surprisingly an Atari gaming device was added to our household that day. I hung out at home playing Megamania while my friends hung out at the pool. I am still so thankful to my mom for that silent gesture. I knew it was a stretch in finances to buy it, but I think she just wanted to make me happy.)

So the years go by and periods come and go…

In Eighth Grade when I was a cheerleader, our uniforms were white and we had to wear white skivvies underneath. In the Big Game of the Year against our rivals, we had to perform a dance routine at halftime on the football field. Yup, you know who came to visit for that—Aunt Flow.

The night of the Sleepover of the Year with your friends and your brand new pink sleeping bag…there SHE is.

The all day field trip to the state capitol and having to approach your teacher for some “supplies” because you are not prepared properly

The Prom…

The day you actually DID  wear white pants…

The much anticipated trip to the Bahamas in college…

Meeting my future in-laws for the first time and spending the weekend at their house…

Just some of the many moments that come to my mind. And my mom and I would always laugh…”Well, it’s the Curse.” (And we didn’t actually believe it was a Curse on women. It is more like Murphy’s Law.)


But now that I am in my mid ‘40s, I’m starting to wonder…because now I’m in another phase of my ‘womanly’ life…




And I ask, “Why? Why Mother Nature? Why do you hate us so?” It’s night sweats and sleeplessness. It’s gaining weight around the middle. It’s irregular cycles and forgetfulness and hot flashes and “flooding”. It’s intense mood swings, crying spells,  irritability, headaches. My skin is drier, and oh shit! Is my hair thinning??? I’m not cute anymore! Dear God, it’s freaking awful! Maybe my mom was right?

But I can’t forget that even with all these symptoms and issues and what not, my body has been good to me. When the time felt right to conceive a child, boom! It happened. And the same for my second child. My womb held those babies safely and securely for nine months. I was able to successfully nurse both for over a year.   I never had issues with cramping or migraines or anything else my friends would complain about. I was always so amazed at what the female body could do, I spent my professional career in Maternal-Child Health.

I talk to my mom about these things…”Oh, it’s OK, you’re just going through the beginning of The Change.” (First, The Curse, now The Change).

“But it’s awful, Mom!”

“I know, honey,” she tells me. “But in a few years, this will all be done. You won’t have to deal with it anymore. This is normal and natural. Just another phase in your life.”

“Ok,” I believe her.

But then she pauses…”Yeah, soon you will be done with this phase of your life and you’ll be free.”

“Freedom,” I think. “That sounds nice.”

Another pause…”But then you’ll dry up like a prune.”

I laughed so hard I peed my pants.

I just love my mom so much.

And by the way… Thanks for nothing, Eve!


New Year, New Stuff on the Blog



New Year’s Resolutions…

Most people try to start the new year with some resolutions and they last a couple of weeks. I fall in with the majority, thinking of new ways to improve upon myself and fail by about February. So this year I’m setting my bar pretty low.

1.) Go to Church more often.

2.) Drink more water.

3.) Get some form of exercise 3 days/week.


Hopefully, I will not disappoint myself since it’s not a lot to ask.

But I also want to not neglect Feathers and Dimes as much as I have. It looks like my posts are getting to be about six months apart. So….


Look for more projects and links.

Look for more upcycling and sewing.

Look for more occasional musings into life.

And, I think, look for some advice from Nellie who will sometimes make an appearance, just to make you laugh.


May you and yours have a joyful and healthy 2017!


Peace and Love,


New Year’s Eve—Then and Now

“By the time you realize what your father was telling you was true, your own kids are telling you you’re wrong”—Wayne Gretzky


Ahhh, Gretzky…the Great One, you are so right.

Christmas 2016 is over, wrapping paper shreds and empty shirt boxes litter my living room and my youngest asks me what the next holiday is. I tell him, “Valentine’s Day is next.”

My freshman reminds me New Year’s Eve is next.

New Year’s Eve…

To him, this counts as a holiday. He probably has plans for that night. “Uh oh,” I think. Because I remember how exciting New Year’s Eve was. Maybe not as a freshman in high school, but definitely my college years.

I remember one in particular, twenty five years ago, I was a sophomore in college and not yet even 21 years old. The world was quite different back then.


I believe it went something like this…


10:30 am- Wake up, think about and miss terribly my boyfriend who went back home to New Jersey for Christmas break. Think about how awful it is to have a whole month off between semesters till I get to see him again.  After tears and listening to “Love of a Lifetime” by Firehouse on the radio, head downstairs and peruse the recently acquired gifts and presents from parents and large extended family. Admire new overalls from The Gap, contemplate wearing them with one strap down.  Maybe watch some TV. Possibly eat breakfast, most likely not.

12:00 pm-Call one of my best friends, Amy, on the kitchen phone to find out what we’re doing tonight. Get mad because phone cord won’t reach into living room where there is more privacy.

Wall Phone Beige Telephone   by LavenderGardenCottag:

12:30-Decide that it’s a very good idea to drive down to Amy’s school, the University of Illinois, where there’s several parties we can go to. Only about 3 hours away down I-57, never mind that it is snowy, about 10 degrees, and I-57 is surrounded by farmland. Feel lucky because Amy’s roommate Mia will drive since she is the only one with a car. Tell parents what plans are so they don’t worry. Remind them you will be home “sometime” the next day.  Wonder what New Jersey boyfriend will be doing and pray he doesn’t meet a cute Jersey Girl and ring in the New Year with her.

2:30-Pack for the overnight. Be sure to include a scrunchie or two for a quick and easy ponytail for the ride home. Also include acid wash jeans, maybe a plaid flannel shirt, wish that I had some Doc Martens.

doc martens

Double check for toothbrush, don’t bother with glasses or contact lens case because sleeping with contacts in eyes for one night won’t hurt anything. Triple check for fake ID. Have about $30 in cash from summer job working at Bennigan’s in case there’s an emergency.

4:30pm-Get picked up for road trip. Check once again that fake ID is in backpack. (Who bothered with a purse or wallet?) Wave bye to the parents. Admire Mia’s vintage car with her dead hamster on the dashboard that she stuffed herself. (One of Mia’s hobbies was taxidermy). Have backseat of car all to myself and stretch out. No seatbelt for me! (I wonder if that vintage car even had seatbelts?) Think how wonderful Amy is that she thought to bring  a Baker’s Square French Silk Pie with her.

5:00pm-While on the road, listen to mixed cassette tape Amy made filled with a variety of hits like, “Gonna Make You Sweat” by C+C  Music Factory, “Unbelievable” by EMF, “Good Vibrations” by Markie Mark and the Funky Bunch, “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd. Talk about a new kind of music hitting the radio from Seattle and a band by the name of Nirvana. Hit rewind and play “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones and think about how prophetic it is. Keep wondering about Jersey Boy. Mention his name frequently.

Right Here, Right Now

5:45pm- Wonder why Amy included The Partridge Family Greatest Hits on cassette…

6:00pm-Talk and chat and chat and talk about things like if Dylan and Brenda will ever do it, the latest Cheers episode, and a little something we heard about called “the internet.”   Reminisce about The Bulls winning the Championship over the summer and how awesome Michael Jordan is, worry about  something called Operation Desert Storm, really worry about the AIDS epidemic and be sad about Freddie Mercury’s passing.

6:30pm-Stop all conversation as the car starts sputtering and coughing and comes to a halt on the side of the road. The side of I-57. In the middle of Illinois cornfields. Where it is very, very dark. And very, very cold.

6:33pm-Figure out that Mia’s vintage car has a broken gas gauge and, in our New Year’s Eve excitement, we forgot to put gas in the car before we left home. Come to the conclusion that we are out of gas. Wish Jersey Boy was here.

6:35pm-Decide to flag down a truck driver who is parked on the OTHER SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY!!! Hide in the back of the car under a blanket as two other friends CROSS HIGHWAY to speak to truck driver. Think about eating Baker’s Square French Silk Pie.  Try not to think of one of my favorite movies that year…



6:45pm-Wait for State Trooper to show up and talk about how nice the truck driver was and how convenient it is that he has a CB and can radio a police car for us. Laugh about how silly we are to forget to put in gas.

7:00pm-Ride safely in the back of the police car to the nearest town where the trooper drops us off at a McDonald’s so we can use the phone to call friends from U of I to pick us up. Buy some french fries so we have some change for the pay phone. Be sad about the fact that I don’t have enough change to make a long-distance phone call to New Jersey. Talk about how fortunate we are that we ran out of gas so close to U of I and don’t have to travel much longer.

8:00pm-Finally arrive at Amy’s apartment at U of I with car full of gas, backpacks and Baker’s Square French Silk Pie. Run up stairs to apartment and watch as Amy trips up the stairs and lands right on the Baker’s Square French Silk Pie. Laugh till I pee my pants. Try to salvage what is left of pie and place it in fridge.

8:30pm-Take nap.

9:30pm-Have a beer or two before getting ready.

10:00pm-Start getting ready to go out. Put on acid wash jeans and colorful sweatshirt. Make hair as big as possible and spray with Aqua Net. Put on some eye-liner and mascara, maybe some blush, and ready to go. Lace up the Reebok High tops. Be happy because we looked like this:


10:30pm-Go to party. Meet new people. Play various drinking games like Quarters. Lose a lot. Think about Jersey Boy and wonder where he is.

10:59pm-Go outside on balcony as the clock rings 11pm Central Time and stare up at stars knowing it is now 1992 for Jersey Boy because he lives in the Eastern Time Zone. Make Amy celebrate East Coast New Year’s too. Don’t understand when she looks at you like you’re weird.

11:03pm-Think about drowning sorrows of long distance relationship woes by eating entire Baker’s Square French Silk Pie, but have a beer instead. Laugh as Amy plays Partridge Family cassette and party stops to figure out what went wrong with the music.

12:00am-Toast to the New Year, sing Auld Lang Syne, dance like no one is watching, hug my new friends from the party, be sure they will be my friends for the rest of my life. (Amy still is.)

3:30am-Walk back to Amy’s apartment and marvel how it doesn’t feel cold outside anymore. Don’t make connection that perhaps we had too much to drink and can’t feel the cold.

4:00am-Eat Baker’s Square French Silk Pie but don’t bother to cut it up. Just take a fork and eat what’s left of it after it fell down the stairs. Think about how yummy it is.

4:30am-fall asleep on the couch. Whisper good night to Jersey Boy.

12:00pm-Make sure there is enough gas in tank for ride home. Drive home with less conversation, stop at a White Castle’s for some nourishment. Start to notice eyes feel dry and make mental note to take out contacts when I get home.

3:00pm-Arrive home, and when parents ask how night was, say truthfully that it was a lot of fun. Leave out several key details.

3:15pm-Take a nap. For as long as I want.


I can guarantee my New Year’s Eve twenty five years later is much different. It will probably consist of trying to make dinner reservations somewhere and being pissed because I waited till the last minute. I will probably end up putting on my new flannel pj’s from Vermont at about 7pm( which are A-MAZ-ING and a gift from my Jersey Boy, who is now my husband of twenty years, by the way.) I will probably have my contacts out and be wearing my glasses. I will probably surf the internet and check my Facebook pages. I will probably wonder if maybe I should’ve asked for Botox for Christmas. I will be mad I didn’t make an appointment to have my roots colored.  There won’t be a Baker’s Square French Silk Pie anywhere near my fork.  I will probably keep checking my “find my iPhone” app to confirm the whereabouts of my teenage son. I will probably have called the parents of where he will be to make sure they will be home and no alcohol is allowed.  I will probably spend a lot of time praying he makes good choices and is safe. I will probably wish my younger son would like to hang out with his mom for a little while. I will probably snuggle up with my Jersey Boy and watch a movie and fall asleep half way through.

Amazing how the years fly by, isn’t it?

I wonder what Amy is doing?


Peace and Love in 2017


My Anti-Bucket List


Everyone knows what a Bucket List is-there is a huge list of things I would like to do, places I would like to travel to, experiences I would like to have before I die. So much of the world to discover, new situations to try, so much I would like to accomplish.

I am a Dreamer, after all…

But there are some things I really don’t want to do, and more importantly, I am OK with it. Sometimes I focus on what I want, what I want, what I want! Have you ever thought of what you don’t want?

Now, I’m talking about what you don’t want that other people might find really cool-things that might definitely be on someone else’s bucket list…

I’ve compiled a list-and it’s really not that long. Some people have hundreds of things they want to do before they die. I have 9 things I really don’t want to do and I’m content with not ever doing them.

Here goes – and to all you out there who have done these things and had life altering experiences because of it, kudos to you! Maybe you can convince me to try it.

#1) I don’t ever want to run a marathon. I don’t have any interest in long distance running. I know, I know-people who do marathons say it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment, they talk of the runner’s high, pushing themselves to the max. I would just aim for a 5K. Like the one that serves hot chocolate at the end…

Otherwise, I would look like this. Just waiting for a car to hit me and put me out of my misery.


#2) I don’t ever want to ride the Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure. I know this because I had the opportunity to do so and gladly passed it by. Now I’ve always loved rollercoasters, but this one is a but much for me. This roller coaster goes straight up 456 feet and then barrels straight down at 128 mph in 3.5 seconds. I could just see the damn thing getting stuck on the way up and being trapped there. (Incidentally, I let my son go on it and he said it was incredible! I’m sure it was…I’ll just take his word for it.)



#3) I don’t ever want to skydive. There. I said it. I know it’s on the top of most people’s bucket lists. (And it’s near the top of mine, too. My Anti-Bucket List.) Jumping out of an airplane is an adrenaline rush I am really OK missing out on. Really. And you probably think I’m not very adventurous. Hmmmm, maybe that’s true but I’m still OK never doing this.



#4) I don’t ever want a fish pedicure. Ever. Little fish eating the dead skin off my feet? What the F&#K!? Whoever came up with this little “treat”? E-gads! Yuck! Might as well have maggots crawling up my arm. Now give me a spa pedicure any day, but that’s not really a bucket list check-off, is it?



#5) This might sound like a no-brainer, but some people actually have this on their bucket lists…I never did and don’t ever want to try LSD. When I was a pre-teen and pretty impressionable, I read the book Go Ask Alice. It left an indelible mark on me. Mind altering hallucinogenic? Yeah…not for me.



#6) I don’t ever want to travel to China or Japan. I know, what the heck? right? I don’t want to offend anyone, because it looks quite beautiful. There’s just so many places and lands I want to see, China and Japan are at the bottom so they are probably going to get left off my real bucket list. (The one I plan to create-someday.) Besides, it’s so damn far!

china and japan



#7) I am OK if I never go to a real live boxing match.  I think there’s so much violence in this world, I don’t want to watch two people punch the crap out of each other in the name of a sport. (Then again, I LOVE hockey but there’s a difference.)

I mean, Look at this poor guy!


#8) I don’t ever want to dye my hair blond. I know they say blondes have more fun (and it’s probably true), and maybe if I dyed my hair blonde I would HAVE more fun (like jumping out of an airplane or running up and down the Great Wall), but it would look really awful with my skin coloring. Just saying.

I love you, Barbie!!!




#9) Last but not least, –I don’t want to hang out (literally) at a Nude Beach. I would enjoy swimming in the water sans clothing (as long as there is no pedicure-type fish around), but walking around with others who are nekkid-nah, I’ll pass.

surprised look

I wonder if, as I grow older, these things will change and maybe I’ll want to do one or two of them. But I’m quite content if that never happens-kind of the point of an Anti-Bucket List.

I’d love to hear what’s on YOUR Anti-Bucket List!



Lactation Consultant Journey, One Year In….


Well, it’s been a year since I started working in the Lactation Department of a very busy Mother/Baby unit… I passed the BIG EXAM last summer and officially became an IBCLC…

I have learned A LOT in the past 12 months, changing up my career and switching from NICU nurse to Lactation Consultant. My job is still stressful, but in a very different way. I still get to work with mothers and babies, just in a separate capacity. I still love what I do, which is a blessing in so many ways.

I came up with a list of items that I learned this inaugural year as a Lactation Consultant…(these are just my humble observations so please take them with a grain of salt.)

1.) Think of healthy, term newborns as primarily what they are…mammals that are born to survive. And to survive, they must eat. Newborns have an incredible innate need and ability to suckle and, along with a sequence of reflexes they are born with, they can find their mother’s breast to nurse. In a most natural setting (read: natural childbirth), they don’t need much assistance at all. Check out The Breast Crawl video and be amazed! However, I must confess…in the past year I’ve not witnessed a natural childbirth. But the good news is, most newborns, even if the mother had an epidural or some kind of painkillers, or a cesarean section, will easily find a way to nurse within the first hour of birth.

2.) New moms are very emotional, especially first time moms. This is a no-brainer, right? Understandably so-their hormones are all over the place, they are tired, most are in pain, some didn’t have the birth experience they wanted or expected. Their lives have just been drastically changed. Depending on the day or the course of the moon, I’ll have a whole section of moms bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. They’re sometimes overwhelmed, overjoyed, over-tired, over-doing it…Sometimes I get teary because I remember how hard it was to be a new mom and trying to breastfeed and I understand what they are feeling.    ~Hugs.~    Hugs help a lot in this situation. And the permission to feel what they are feeling.

3.) Speaking of the birth experience, forceps, a vacuum delivery and/or Nubain are NOT my friends. Again, my own humble observations-but most babies that have experienced any of these things during birth seem to have a  hard time latching onto the breast, maintaining that latch, and nutritively suckling. Most of the time they won’t open their mouths wide enough (are their little heads aching?) and the mother ends up sore. (Think smashed nipples). Or their suck is a bit dysfunctional, they cry intermittently and can’t settle, and generally have a hard time in the first few days. Now I don’t mean they won’t breastfeed well eventually, it just might take a little more time and work.

4.)The most successful mothers at breastfeeding are those that made up their minds to breastfeed before they got pregnant or early in their pregnancy, or have breastfed before. These moms have usually taken some prenatal classes on breastfeeding, read some books about breastfeeding, are educated on the benefits of breastfeeding. They drink in every word you say, will call with any questions, are very thankful for all the help given to them.

5.)Some moms want to give breastfeeding a try. It can be very rewarding when the baby latches on successfully, the mom doesn’t have pain with feedings, she decides to exclusively breastfeed and everything works out well. On the other hand, some women are really ambivalent about breastfeeding and will try because they think that’s what they are supposed to do. Maybe a family member or husband is pressuring them and their hearts aren’t really into it. In this case, I have learned to look the mother in the eye and ask her what SHE really wants, deep in her heart. I’ll try to educate her on all the benefits of breastfeeding, for her baby and for her.  And I’ll be supportive either way.

6.) Female relatives are EXTREMELY influential regarding a mother’s breastfeeding decisions. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, friends…they all have a part in the breastfeeding mother’s psyche. Especially influential is the new baby’s maternal grandmother. Surprisingly, sometimes more than the father of the baby. If a mother’s mother breastfed, it definitely seems like breastfeeding is on the agenda for a new mom. Conversely, many times I have had the baby’s maternal grandmother sabotage the new mother’s breastfeeding dreams. So listen up all you Grannies out there! Be supportive!

7.) Cultural norms are hard to break. Example-some moms insist colostrum doesn’t have enough volume or nutrients to satisfy a newborn’s need and they must supplement with formula. This mind-set has been in play for generations of certain cultures. No matter what information I give them, no matter how I try to convince them there in no formula that can touch the nutrients of colostrum, they will not trust me or believe me. (Again, there is usually a family member influencing them.) We definitely need more education out there-in my opinion, it should start in health classes in schools! So I have to sit by and know all those antibodies and nutrients and good bacteria forming in the baby’s gut from the colostrum will get wiped away with a supplement of formula. Ugh.

8.) Which brings me to my next point…Sometimes formula is necessary and it’s OK! Occasionally there really is a problem with milk supply and the baby is losing too much weight. First rule is to Feed the Baby. Sometimes it really is too stressful for the mom to breastfeed and it’s causing her way too much tension and angst. Maybe I am a dysfunctional Lactation Consultant but give that mom a bottle and some formula! Is it really worth her getting so upset and feeling so bad about herself as a mother?  NO! There are so many ways to mother and love a child and breastfeeding is not the only way.

9.) This was surprising to me-Pacifiers and artificial nipples really can mess up breastfeeding success. As a former NICU nurse, I believe pacifiers are necessary in the NICU. It helps the babies calm and decreases their stress and pain. With a healthy newborn, I hate to say this, but be careful. Some babies can go back and forth with no problem. (My first child.) Some develop a preference. (My second child.) I originally thought the term “Nipple Police” was a funny way to describe a lactation consultant, but now I understand. It’s true, a baby can get confused by artificial nipples.

10.) This might sound bad, but I find it more and more to be true- Dads are on their phones A LOT! Ok, ok-I don’t want dads to seem like they are not interested in their new babies or supportive of their wives, because that is simply not true. But It seems like in today’s society with cell phones and texting and social media, extended family and friends want to know what is going on with the new family every minute. It seems like dads are handling most of the social media and they are on their phones a lot. Meanwhile, I am trying to help the mom get their baby latched correctly. And all I want to say is, “Please, get off your phone and listen to what we are discussing because YOU are going to be home alone with your wife in the middle of the night when you three go home, not me.” In our social media rich society, I don’t even think parents realize how much time is being taken away from bonding with their child by their cell phones. But it seems like a lot…

11.) If a mom comes in with a plan to exclusively pump and give expressed breast milk with a bottle, there’s a reason for it. I don’t ask questions or try to persuade the mom to put the baby to breast. She has her reasons and I am just there to support her. Furthermore, if a mom comes in and her plan is to exclusively give formula, I support her in that too. Motherhood can be a rough journey and no one should judge anyone else.

12.)Visitors, as well meaning as they are, can make breastfeeding more difficult. Babies put out early feeding cues-signs they are getting ready to eat. They lick their lips and put their hands to their mouths and root around.  It’s the best time to try to get baby to latch on. Well, chances are if countless friends, fraternity brothers, extended family and so on are visiting, the mom doesn’t want to pull out her breasts to feed the baby in front of them. (And the dad doesn’t want it either.) And some time goes by. And baby gets hungrier. And then cranky. And then Snickers Hungry. So hungry they change personalities right in front of your face. Yeah, not an easy time to try to latch onto the breast. Downright impossible to get a frantic newborn to latch on. Not to mention the new parents are exhausted from perhaps not a lot of sleep the day or night before. You know, what with the labor and birth and all. So you get the picture.

13.) I am very, very busy during my work day. Most days, the lactation consultant is the most popular person on the unit. Where I work, almost all the moms want to breastfeed and there are usually two lactation consultants on the unit. We carry a phone so the moms and dads can call when they need help. This means our phones are ringing frequently. Some days, it’s constant. Sometimes I’ll have a line of moms waiting for me to see them. There are moms who went home who need help whose phone calls we have to return. Moms that need an outpatient visit to solve a breastfeeding problem they might have. There are breast pumps that need to be rented. Medical-Surgical Units calling about drug compatibility and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Support Group that needs to be moderated. Breastfeeding classes that need to be taught. Supplies that needs to be reordered…it can get overwhelming. So rest assured, if your lactation consultant takes a little time to get back to you, it’s not because she is having coffee at the nurse’s station—she’s most likely running around like a chicken with her head cut off.

14.) Patience, Patience, Patience!!! Practice, Practice, Practice!!! When you learn something new with someone you’ve never met before, it can be a little awkward. Perplexing. Frustrating at times. Same is true for breast feeding. Yes, it’s natural. Yes, it’s what mammaries are made for. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a little work and a little problem solving. After all, I wouldn’t have a job if it was that easy. So I’ve learned to counsel my moms on giving themselves a break. Whenever doing something new, it takes a little time, some energy and bit of fortitude. I would like to teach them to trust their bodies and themselves but that is something we learn on our own. And in the end, the rewards for all that patience and practice is priceless.

15.) Which brings me to the next lesson, It’s such a beautiful experience when you witness a new baby breastfeeding.  The mom and dad smiling down on him or her. It’s like the stars have all aligned and all is right in the world. It’s peaceful and gentle and hopeful. It’s how we as humans have survived for thousands of years. The truth is, breastfeeding is so much more than just delivering nutrition to a baby. It’s about bonding, learning about each other, recognizing smells and voices and different cries. It always amazes me how content a newborn is at his or her mother’s breast.

And finally…

16.) For me to do my best at my job, I need support as well. This comes from hospital administration, managers, doctors and nurses. Everyone needs to be on the same page—to support breastfeeding and breastfeeding moms. I learned I am very lucky to have this support from the hospital and management where I work. In fact, the hospital I work at was recently designated as Baby Friendly, which is HUGE! You know the saying—“It takes a village…” and it couldn’t be more true in this case.

So as I look back, I smile. I have had some rough patches in the past year but I learned and grew as a person. But truthfully, I am looking forward to many more years of learning about this amazing profession and how I can make myself a better advocate for breastfeeding and breastfeeding families.





Saying Good-bye To Bailey




If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.

And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.

– Sally Evans (written for Shoo-Fly)

Two weeks ago, we had to say good-bye to a very loved family member named Bailey.


We got her from a wonderful man named Al in North Carolina who owns and runs Trugrit Bull Mastiffs. His dogs are show dogs and champions, but we just wanted a loving, family pet and boy, did he deliver what we wanted.

She was born in January of 2007 and she came home to us in March of the same year. My boys were 5 and 3 years old at the time and I remember thinking she thought of them as her littermates.


Here they are meeting her for the first time…

I am so sad that she is gone…

She was such a part of our everyday lives and now there is an emptiness and loneliness and an aching that hits me when I least expect it.

I am kind of surprised at how much this is hurting me. After all, she wasn’t my spouse, or my child, or one of my parents. I knew she had a life expectancy of 8-10 years. I’ve had dogs my whole life and had to say good-bye to all of them. Yet I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to her. She truly was, in my case, “woman’s best friend.” She was my whole family’s best friend.

She was there for birthdays…


She was there for first days of school…


She was part of every Christmas…


And the boys always had to snuggle with her before bed…


If we had a hockey tournament out of town, she went to my parents’ house and was treated like a queen and had their dog to play with…



And she went on every vacation with us and even thought she could take over the driving…



She watched as we left for school, or work, or practices, or just going to the grocery store…


And she waited patiently until we came home…


She was sweet and loving and loyal and true. She had a calm personality but was easily excited when family and friends came to visit. One of the things she always did when visitors she particularly liked came over, is find a sock from somewhere and offer it up to them; big, friendly tail wagging and knocking over things in her path.

She liked to play hide and seek with us in the house. We would hide and call out for her and she would search until she found each one of us in our hiding places. And then she would jump around with joy at having completed her task.

She loved to go for walks around the neighborhood and would prance and strut her stuff in her big, strong dog way. Strangers were always stopping us to ask about her and she always had a kiss and a wagging tail for them. I’m afraid she probably wasn’t a very good watchdog, I’d never seen her show any aggression toward any other dog or person. Instead, she just sniffed and wagged her tail at them. I’m sure if she felt we were ever in danger in any way, she would have been there to protect us.

She even knew how to tell time!-She ate at 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. every day and if I was even a little late, she followed me around with a little bark to let me know it was food time. She patiently waited for me to make the boys’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their lunches and drooled until I gave her a lick of the butter knife.

I can’t even look at peanut butter without getting teary for her.

Her most favorite thing, the thing she was best at, was loving us.

In our busy household, she was always a calming presence, always ready to be hugged and petted. They say petting an animal releases oxytocin into the brain, the feel-good hormone that calms and relaxes a person. Sitting with her, her head on my lap after a long day, was therapy for me.

If my youngest son had a bad day, Bailey was who he went to first, speaking softly to her. Her answer was always licks to the face and a head on his shoulder. Then he was ready to talk to us about what was bothering him.

I miss seeing them playing together in the yard.

If my oldest son was frightened by something, Bailey was there to comfort him also.  Her presence was reassuring as he learned to navigate some independence at home.

I miss seeing them rough-housing together.

She waited for my husband by the door to come home from work everyday, excited to see him, and that now the whole family was home together again.

I miss seeing her greeting him home.

I miss the everyday moments with Bailey.

Like walking into my bedroom and finding this…


Or friendships being formed and secrets being shared, like this…


We all grew up together as a family…IMG_1324


And when our big, strong, mighty dog that loved with all her heart got sick and started to suffer without hope for recovery, we had to do what is the hardest thing to do…

We had to say good-bye.

All four of us held her and cried and told her how much we loved her as she left our world. She can now run free again, muscles rippling, sunlight gleaming on her soft coat. I know deep in my heart we did what was right and just for her. I could not let her suffer another minute.

But, oh, HOW I MISS HER!

We are slowly getting used to what is our new “normal.”

People ask me if we’ll get a dog again…

Not anytime soon, these hearts need time to heal, especially mine. Perhaps someday our home will be ready, but I really don’t know…she would be a very hard act to follow.



Run Free, my big girl, until we

meet again!

In Peace and Tears,