The Great Dog Debate

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 05/17/16 12:53 PM

To dog or not to dog.  That is the question…or the current argument going on in our house.

I’m not even sure how it all started but all of a sudden many members of our brood have puppy fever.  Mary Kate especially.  Well…and me.  I have to honest about that one.  I’m pining for a furry friend.

I talked about our current debate on air last week.  Rick, the morning host at 101.5 The River, was flabbergasted that we didn’t have a dog.  He has two.  Marybeth, the other host, also has two.  If you’re one of the many who listen every morning you know their dogs’names.  They are frequent and favorite topics of morning bantor.

Honestly, when I really think about it, I’m actually surprised I’ve never pushed Sean for a dog.  I grew up with dogs.  Heidi was a lab.  Bailey was a Golden.  If you had asked me as a kid if I would have a dog as an adult there would have been no question.  Doesn’t everybody have a dog?

It wasn’t until Sean and I were married that I realized I’d married a non-dog person.  I distinctly remember where I was standing when the subject came up and he told me if we ever had a dog it would have to live outside.

Uh…say what?

Bailey practically lived in my room.  The day Heidi died was probably one of the most traumatic moments of my childhood.  Dogs can’t be banished to the yard.  I thought Snoopy’s dog house was a concept of entertainment.  Dogs live IN the house.

I think it was then that I dismissed the idea of ever having a pooch.  I just couldn’t see making a dog live outside.  And it was easy.  I was working full time and I had no frame of reference for leaving a dog alone all day.  My mom stayed home.  My childhood pups were rarely alone.

Fast forward to now.  Mary Kate loves animals.  She spends 30 minutes each night watching clips on youtube…all about animals.  A few months ago we tripped over a series of videos produced by Animal Planet called Dogs 101.  Each video highlights a breed.  As she and I watch every night I remembered how much my dogs meant to me.  My parents brought Heidi home when I was one.  I grew up with her.  She was the sweetest, most gentle soul.  I have memories of putting bows in her hair, and attempting to tie her to my Big Wheels yelling “Mush”!!!  She wasn’t too keen on pulling me around but never once did she protest.  Instead she was a constant companion who slept under my bed every night.

Bailey came to our family right after we moved from Michigan to Illinois.  I was a sophomore in high school and as I’m sure you can imagine moving at that time in life was TOUGH.  She was a Christmas present to my brothers and I and when my dad walked through the door with her we all cried.  During a time in my life when friends were scarce and fears were high, Bailey was a welcome distraction.  I remember the night I sat with her on my bed instead of going to a school dance.  I didn’t have a date, but my movie partner lessened the blow.

My dad and I were recently talking about our dogs and he lamented.  “Whenever one of you kids was having a rough moment you went to Bailey.  She was our family’s comforter.”  

It’s amazing how much stress disappears while snuggling a dog.  I know a dog’s ability to relieve stress in people is a scientifically proven fact.  I think those of us who have experienced it are blessed.

I’m still working on Sean.  I’ve explained how good I think it would be for the kids.  How having a pooch around might actually help diffuse some of the more fiery moments that some of our young ones occasionally experience.  He’s worried about the chaos.  I get that.  Our lives are already pretty crazy.

So, I don’t know.

I’d love to hear your opinions.  Stories about the gifts…or the headaches  your dog brings to your family.  Perhaps it’ll help one of us win this debate! BFF Tracy is fostering a Mama Schnauzer/Poodle mix and her five puppies for the Toledo Humane Society.  This is the runt.  Even Drew can't resist.

So…my BFF, Tracy,is fostering a Mama Schnauzer/Poodle mix and her five puppies for the Toledo Humane Society. This is the runt. Even Drew can’t resist.

Did I Mention I’m in A Movie Debuting Tomorrow?

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 04/14/16 1:53 PM

So…in my latest edition of “my life is stranger than fiction” I have a movie premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival tomorrow.

Okay…it’s not really “my” movie.  I am in it, though.  For a split-second…from what I’ve been told.  I haven’t actually seen it yet.  That’s pretty typical for me, however.  I still haven’t been able to bring myself to watch an hour long show Discovery Health did about me either.  That aired two years ago.

Can you tell I don’t watching myself on a screen?

Anyways, back in 2013 I was asked to serve as a judge for Sher Fertility Institute’s annual “I Believe” contest.  I had judged for the contest before, and as gut-wrenching as that experience was, I agreed to do it a second time.  Dr. Sher helped us conceive Reagan and Isabella.  If he asks me to jump my reply will always be, “How high?”

Who wouldn't want to work with the doctor who brought us these two miracles?

Who wouldn’t want to work with the doctor who brought us these two miracles?

There was a caveat for the 2013 judging session.  It was going to be filmed.  As a result, instead of contemplating the entries in the comfort of my own home, I had to travel to Las Vegas to take part in a judging session.  In addition, I had to agree to be interviewed for the documentary.  To say I had reservations would be an understatement.  Sean and I have done a lot of interviewing since Logan was born.  Burn out had set in.  Since it was Dr. Sher asking, however, I agreed, and off to Vegas I went.

It was a good experience.  The show’s producer, Amanda Micheli, and her team were awesome.  As I sat for my interview I grew more and more comfortable.   I guess that’s because early on in the meeting Amanda shared with me that she was struggling with infertility.  I knew that she “got it”. Her motives were genuine.

She wanted to educate.  To give audience members a rare look at the struggles that come with infertility.  To highlight the absurdity of the mere existance of such a contest.  Infertility is a disease.  Insurance should cover treatment, but it doesn’t.  This contest is an opportunity for a few lucky people to have a shot at parenthood– free of charge.

I’ve written before about my struggles whild being a judge for the “I Believe” contest.  The submitted stories are heart wrenching.  Every single entry deserves a chance.  The entrant’s desperation was palpable.  In a perfect world, all of these people would receive affordable treatment for their disease.

A perfect world it is not.

Then there is the backlash.  As a participant in the contest, judges and contestants open themselves up to scrutiny.  Without fail, all of the typical insults show themselves.

“You should just adopt.”

“You’re selfish for wanting a biological child.”

“The world is already over populated. We don’t need any more people.”

Blah, blah. blah.  I honestly wish those who feel so compelled to hurl these insults at infertiles would realize how unoriginal their thoughts truly are.  Their ignorance and lack of compassion are so very ordinary.

Making the experience even more of a risk, judging this contest could possibly add fuel to those who argue that ART (assisted reproductive treatment) circumvents the will of God.  Infertiles are used to being accused of “playing God” when seeking medical treatment for their disease.  But being a judge who plays a part in deciding which entrant gets the free cycle?  Well, that could be construed as taking the “playing God” argument to a whole new level.

By accepting my role as a judge, I was setting myself up to be attacked.

Fortunately, I’ve grown a thick skin.  I’ve been called selfish, greedy, careless, and sinful.  I’ve been told on a very public stage that my desire to expand my family would destroy Mother Earth.  In the beginning, those comments hit hard.  But after seven years of seeing the same tired arguments leveled against anyone who publicly sought treatment, I learned to stop taking such ignorance personally.

Fertility treatments bring loved children into the world.  There’s no evil in that.

The “I Believe” contest is a well-intentioned scholarship program.  It’s goal is to bring awareness to the topic of infertility.  To lift the veil on the excruciating process that one undergoes trying to do something so many can do by accident.  It highlights the struggle.  It educates.  Most importantly, it lets the one in eight people struggling with the disease know they are not alone.  There are not only people who care.  There are many that understand.

And so goes the Haveababy movie.

I cannot wait to get to a screening of Amanda’s masterpiece.  After having met her, I am confident it carries the right message.  I am proud to have been part of the film.


HaveaBaby premiers Friday, April 14th at the Tribeca Film Festival.  If you are able to attend, tickets can be purchased here.


To see the movie trailer click here.

Social Media Sharing about My Kids and Monday’s Shenanigan

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 04/12/16 9:59 PM

A funny thing happened yesterday…

After years of ignoring my rather active public Facebook Page, son #1 decided it could be useful to him (read the full story here).  I have to say the response even overwhelmed me.  I guess that’s because Facebook is kind of finciky these days.  You see, with a page the size of mine,Facebook wants me to pay to push my content–especially when there’s a link.  Of course, I refuse to do so.  I have six kids to feed, gas to buy and tuition to pay.  Whether 100 or 300 people read one of my blog posts isn’t a financial priority.

Anyways, I wasn’t sure how many people would see my request.  In fact, I figured at the most maybe 100 or so people would follow through.  When the comment count hit 185 in the first thirty minutes panic set in.  Not mine.  Drew’s.

I don’t put a lot of thought into what I post on my social media feeds.   I simply post about pressing issues that I’ve deemed appropriate to discuss in a public forum.  When to post?  A lot of social media tycoons really stress about this issue.  Apparently, there are optimal times to post every day and some days are better than others for engagement.

A tycoon I am not.

My social media feeds truly reflect my mood.  I love Instagram but have only posted one picture in the past week simply because I haven’t been in the mood to take or share any pictures.

My Facebook Page is very special to me.  It’s full of awesome people who have supported our family through some rough spots.  That being said, I am not a “I must post twice a week” kind of person.  I post when I’m compelled.  I post when it’s appropriate.


Now there’s a subective word.  What I mean by appropriate may not mean the same thing for someone else.  Boundaries are personal.  Comfort levels with sharing aspects of one’s personal lives are unique to an individual’s situation.  Over the years I’ve curated a personal set of guidelines for posting about issues that are on my mind.  Trust me when I say there is A LOT you don’t read.  It’s not like I’m trying to hide anything or present our lives as perfect.  We are far from perfection.  But there is a level of restraint that goes into what I share because I am trying to respect my children.

Respecting children and their right to privacy on social media is something I’ve grown more passionate about since this blog began in 2010.  I have to say that in the beginning my kids’ privacy wasn’t something I considered.  I wasn’t really writing about family issues at the time.  This blog began in conjunction with the publishing of Inconceivable.  It was more about infertility struggles, grappling with our unique situation at the time, and joking around about myself.  Self-deprication is a coping skill for me.  It keeps me honest.

Over the past six years, as the content of this blog expanded, I found myself discerning what I could and could not write about.  Luckily our two oldest sons were old enough to understand.   I was able to ask them if they were comfortable if I shared a story or a picture that included them.  There comfort levels were different.  I respect that.

But what about our younger children?   I could ask them what they thought but that would be unfair.  They aren’t old enough to grasp the ramifications of my social media feeds.  As a result, I am extremely careful about what I share when it comes to them.  It’s all in the spirit of trying to give them less to rebel about during their teenage years.  Trust me when I say they’ll have plenty of ammunition to stomp their teenage feet at without me leaving them a cyber trail littered with thousands of images and cute but embarrassing stories.

Yesterday proved to Drew that “Mama’s got some game” when it comes to social media but even I can’t predict how far a post is going to go.  There’s a lesson in that for both of us.

As for yesterday’s shenanigans, in the interest of keeping Drew focused on studying for his exams, I let him off the hook—a little.  Instead of replying to all of the comments (which at last count was somewhere around 650) he submitted the following for our consideration.  For me, it was sufficient.  For the rest of you…well…you can be the judge.

From my first born…

Thank you everyone! The support has been overwhelming! As a busy college student, I don’t have the time to comment on every post and my mom agreed to let that part of the deal go. I’ll just say this, my mom is a wonderful woman who, though very busy, always has the time to give me advice or just talk. She is always supportive of me. I am eternally grateful for that. Again, thank you so much for your help!”

Hmmm…nothing about my hair or cooking?  No thanks for teaching him to only get an “excellent” on his 7th grade science project guaranteeing him an “A” whilst protecting him from going on to the regional competition?

Hopefully he saves me a slice of pizza.

photo (29)

A Few Signs that Vacation Re-Entry Has You by The B*lls

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 04/5/16 9:20 AM

Re-entry after an extended vacation can be challenging.  Re-entry into an unseasonably cold and snowy northwest Ohio spring can be downright horrible.  After wandering through the fog that has been the re-introduction to our rather chaotic schedule for the past 48 hours I’ve come to identify a few signs that one may be suffering from Vacation Re-Entry Syndrome.

It’s a thing, people.

Getting dressed is hard.

Like… so hard it becomes optional.  Just this morning, as I saw the Roto Rooter guy pulling into my driveway, I recognized this sympton in myself when I thought, “Sh*t.  I should probably put on pants…and a bra,” but realized I didn’t have time for both.  You guys, I booked the appointment.  It’s not like Roto Rooter was springing a surprise visit .    Bra or pants?!?!?  It was like Sophie’s choice.

You become forgetful.

So forgetful, in fact, that you can’t remember any part of your pre-vacation life.  During the first 48 hours home I had to remind myself where I keep the cooking oil (uh…the same place it’s been for the past decade); and when MK got out of the car Monday morning she quickly ran back asking where her glasses were.  “Sh*t.  You where glasses?!?  No wonder you couldn’t see the damn dolphins on our Florida boat ride.”

Let’s all pause while I add another jewel to my mother of the year crown.

You Can’t Cook

Partly because you can’t remember where half your ingredients are stored.  Partly because you are experiencing some sort of vacation-induced laziness hangover.  While on vacation I don’t cook which is a bit of a feat with a family our size.  Breakfast and lunch happen as they normally do.  And, no.  I don’t consider making PB&J and bowls of cereal cooking.

I do have standards!

Dinner is a mix of Easy Mac, chicken nuggets–or fingers if we are splurging–and carryout for Mom and Dad.  It’s heavenly while it lasts but damn if this tribe of mine doesn’t want to eat the very second we arrive home.  That’s when the trouble begins.  Luckily, after years of experience with this challenge, I stocked up on PF Changs and Stouffers frozen family sized dinners before we left.  Rest assured, my children will not starve but instead die a slow…slow… death caused by GMO, non-Paleo, preservative laden fare.  That is…until I can get my sh*t together.

First World Problems 

I am acutely aware that Vacation Re-Entry Syndrome is a first world problem.  I’m not complaining.  I’m simply raising awareness in hopes that our family and my brain don’t stand alone in the struggle.

So, in the spirit of solidarity please tell me…what do you find the biggest challenge when arriving home after some time away?

Do tell!

A Few Shots of our Trip…

Nicholas' make-shift baby pool.

Nicholas’ make-shift baby pool.

Boogie boarding in sea fog.

Boogie boarding in sea fog.

Beachin' it.

Beachin’ it.

IMG_1167IMG_1229FullSizeRender (6)

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter and are enjoying a warmer spring than we are.  It’s freezing here.  Mother Nature must be really confused.

How Coconut Cake Clears Up The Easter Confusion

AUTHOR: | POSTED: 03/24/16 10:38 PM
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Blog

Of our six kids three aren’t old enough to really understand our Easter traditions.  They are happy to wake up to a basket full of goodies, a trip to church dressed in their Sunday best, and brunch…no questions asked.

Of the other three one is a synic.  He was born that way.  He never bought any of it.  Not the dude who traveled the world in a sleigh and most certainly not a dumb rabbit that delivers eggs and jelly beans.   Thank goodness his synicism made him cooperative.  We could buy his silence with a wink and chocolate.

The other two aren’t as easy.  They are thinkers.  They think…about everything.  “Mom…how does this work?  Mom…How does that work?  Why?  Why not?  When?  How?”  

They are exhausting.  Especially when things don’t make sense.  And nothing makes less sense than our Easter traditions.

Let me get this straight.  A bunny delivers eggs; Jesus was dead but came back to life; and we eat Coconut Cake to celebrate?

Honestly, I think I could explain the cluster that is our current state of American politics before I could come up with a plausible explanation as to the link between the resurrection and an egg laying rabbit.  And the coconut cake?  I don’t have a clue where that came in.

And it’s damn good.

In fact, I’m beginning to think the coconut cake entered the picture as a much needed distraction for inquisitive children.  “Mom, bunnies are mammals.  Their offspring are live births.  They don’t lay eggs?  Why the eggs?”  

Have a piece of coconut cake.

Mom, I thought once you were dead your dead.  No do-overs.  Why did Jesus get a do-over?

Have a piece of coconut cake.

Seriously, coconut cake is a much better answer to these questions especially when the five year old inquisitor isn’t well versed in German folklore and Christian theology.

I always knew my mother was brilliant.  Her coconut cake proves it.

Happy Easter, Friends.


If you are looking for the coconut cake recipe I talked about with Rick on 101.5 The River click here.