Nice Park Job

I had just finished a lovely lunch with my dear friend Ranae St. Angelo on a fresh spring day. We were laughing and talking as we walked out to our cars. I noticed that there was a large, pick-up truck parked almost on top of my passenger-side car door. That’s weird. But whatever. I brushed it off, gave Ranae a hug and hopped into my car.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an object. I glanced to my right. It looked like a piece of trash had blown up and was stuck to my wiper. But then I looked closer. There were words written on what looked like a napkin. I squinted my eyes and then gasped! WHAT? I jumped out of my car and raced around to grab the nasty note. Of all the….who would…what a jerk!


I have never been so offended in my life. I’m the asshole? It’s one thing to be upset, but to leave a vicious note on a napkin is taking it to a whole new level. How rude! I mean really.

I was so upset as I left the parking lot. It’s not my fault the spaces between the parking lines are like 3 inches. If your big-ass truck didn’t fit, why not just find another spot instead of ruining my lovely day with your blasphemy? Hey. Here’s a thought. Don’t hate the player. Hate the game. Parking lots are a free for all.

And then I remembered another note I had seen under my wiper. A year earlier. In the Knollwood Mall parking lot. I was getting into my car outside Old Navy and thought there was a flyer under my wiper blade. Nope.


A can opener? Ride the bus? What the fuck? I remember staring at the note in disbelief with my mouth open. Who has the time to “pen” a mean-spirited note ON THEIR COMPUTER, print it out and put it under an innocent driver’s window. Do they have a stack in their glove compartment just waiting to find offenders?

A few days after the “Nice Park Job” note, I was trying to park my car at Byerly’s and had a sudden panic attack as I pulled into a stall. And if you have ever shopped at the St. Louis Park Byerly’s you know that they give you like 15 feet between the lines. And yet I was still paranoid. I was convinced I was going to be too close to my neighbor.

I pulled in and looked to my right and left. Nope. Too close on the right. I reversed 2 inches and drove back into the same position. Damn it. I reversed 5 inches and pulled right back into the same position. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! I pulled out about 4 feet and then finally was satisfied with my position between the lines.

I got out of my car and noticed a car waiting in the aisle. It was a sweet elderly lady with gray hair wearing an embroidered teddy bear sweatshirt. I smiled. She glared back at me and lipped the words, “ASS. HOLE.”

My eyes popped out of my head as I sucked in air. It felt like I had just been slapped in the face by my grandma. In a red Corolla. I was just trying to be considerate! Conscientious even. And Mother Theresa calls me an asshole. I was devastated.

Actually, I couldn’t wait to call Ranae. I phoned her as I grabbed a cart and headed to the meat counter. When she answered, I burst out laughing and couldn’t even tell her what had happened. I was snorting, doubled over and practically grabbing my crotch because I thought I might pee in my pants. The deli manager was ready to call 911. How funny. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

So I took inventory of my parking abilities in the next few weeks. I borrowed my dad’s truck from the apartments and returned it like this.


This is what it looked like when I met Mark at the cabinet maker.


And then I noticed how my dad parks at the office.


Oh my God! It must be a Ginkel thing. I try so hard to be a good parker, but I think it is just in my genes. It’s just not my fault!





Backstage Mama

If you read my most recent post, Back in Business, then you know my life has been a little nutty these last few weeks. For the most part I managed to keep it together. With one exception. Olivia’s dance recital. It totally pushed me over the edge.

A few weeks before the recital, I received an email from the owner of the dance school asking for volunteers. Each class section needed two mothers to chaperone the girls before and after they performed. I hit delete and pretended I didn’t see it.

And then I got another email saying, “There are still positions open.” I paused for a moment and considered it, but then hit delete.

And then I got an email saying that our specific class had NO volunteers. Damn it. I left the message in my inbox.

And then an email came saying that the eleven four-year-olds in Olivia’s class would be unsupervised in the gymnasium for the entire length of the recital. I gasped, “For shame!” No one stepped up? There is no other person who wants to volunteer? And because I am an incredibly generous-hearted, responsible individual (I mean Sucker with a capital S) I emailed the owner back and said I would be happy to serve as backstage mom. (I learned the next week that there was another Sucker in the group so I would be working with a co-backstage mom. Phew!)

The recital was at 5:30pm on a Sunday. It had been storming all afternoon. Lightning, thunder and torrential rain. Like in the jungle. Olivia and I arrived early (with her elephant costume in a garbage bag) and splashed through the puddles as we ran into the high school.

We entered the lobby and just starred. It was a MADHOUSE! The 1:30pm recital had finished moments earlier and the vast space was filled to capacity. Dancers, parents, siblings, grandparents and friends. Hugging, photos, flowers and congratulations. All very special but painfully hard to move through. Impossible, actually.

“Excuse me.”

“Excuse me.”

“Trying to move towards the gym.”

“Coming through.”

“I need to get to the gym, people.”

I know everyone was in the same boat, stuck in a sea of human bodies, but I could feel my anxiety level rising. I felt a frustration that was borderline rage, and then a woman to my right moved and I could see the door to the gym. I lunged forward with Olivia in tow and made it to the threshold before the sea closed in around me. I remember thinking that it will be so nice to get into the gym where is it quiet and cooler. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I walked in and was hit by a wave of hot, humid air that reeked of hairspray and body odor. The true storm that day occurred in the gym during the first recital. I looked around, flabbergasted. There were lingering dancers in various stages of dress. Forgotten clothes and lonely shoes scattered around. Empty water bottles and half-eaten bags of treats on the tables. Chairs tipped over. And then there was the heat. The left over, moist, body heat. I wanted to barf. (I can’t stand the word moist. It is gross and should only be use it in extreme circumstances. Like this one.)

I walked over to my assigned table. It was covered in left-over crafts and coloring books, half-full juice boxes and sticky puddles. Someone was even nice enough to leave a pair of dirty tights on the ground. Can you image my face at this point? (I tried to re-create the moment with my iphone this morning, but I looked like an 85 year old man in the photo, with nine double chins. You’ll have to trust me on this one…I looked disgusted! And I was profusely sweating. Already.)

When the other dancers and their moms arrived 30 minutes later, I was hot. Not sexy hot, but full-on, hot lather. I had resorted to wiping my upper lip and face with the strap to my maxi dress. It started to dawn on me that I was actually responsible for taking care of eleven 4-year-olds. Sure you can keep them occupied, but it is the little details that throw you off your game.

“I miss my Mommy. Can I go find her?”

“I’m thirsty. Can you open my straw?….Can you open my straw?…Can you open my straw?”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“I want to take my costume off. It’s itchy.”

“Get me more animal crackers!”

“Where’s my Mommy?”

As I jumped around the girls like a large-breasted, sweating leprechaun, I kept saying to myself, “Stay calm. You can do this. You are in control.” Right.

I was just about to take a group of girls to the bathroom (in their costumes I might add) when there was an announcement, “When An Elephant Flys is up next. Please report to the front of the gym.” My jaw literally dropped. Oh my god. We have to go. NOW! My partner and I told the girls they would have to hold it until after they danced and made sure everyone was wearing their tap shoes and got them into a single file line. We straightened their bows and touched up their lipstick. Here we go!

What I didn’t truly understand at the dress rehearsal was that we would have to wait at various check points moving from the gym to the stage. With lots of lag time. Before we left the gym, one of the dancers crouched down and put her hands on the ground. At the same time, the dancer next to her jumped up into the air and landed hard…on the crouching girl’s finger. I cringed.

The little girl was clearly in pain and had her mouth open like she was crying…but there was no noise coming out. Oh shit. The Silent Cry. This is bad.

I scooped her up in my arms and looked down at her finger thinking it would look like someone’s flattened finger in a cartoon. I said, “Zoe honey. Please try to calm down and breath. I need you to breath. You’re going to be ok.” She gasped for air and let out a cry that literally blew my hair back and punctured my eardrums. I rocked her, “Sweet heart. I know it hurts but you are going to be fine. Trust me.” Never in a million years did I think that she would actually calm down, but she did. Just as we arrived backstage. Phew.

We had to wait for at least 10 minutes or more in the backstage hallway. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Hey girls, let’s keep our buns against the wall,” I would be a wealthy woman. The term, “Herding Cats,” makes perfect sense now. My co-backstage mom said, “Let me take a picture of you and Olivia.” I knew it would be fun to capture the moment, but I was worried about the state of my appearance. My bra and under ware where completely saturated with my own sweat, my upper lip was raw from wiping sweat off of it, and I was rocking the Dink Fuzz. (My aunt refers to the super-frizzy, short hairs around your face as Dink Fuzz. Gross? Yes. Accurate? Absolutely.) We took the photo anyway. I am so glad.


We were literally walking behind the curtains when the last little dancer inline slipped and fell in her tap shoes, landing hard. This time the cry came right away so I scooped her up and ran back into the hallway. I didn’t want her to disrupt the dancers already on stage.

I took this darling, little 4-year-old in my arms like an infant and cradled her in her elephant costume. I held her close to me and put my lips in her ear and shushed her a few times. Just like in Harvey Karp’s, “Happiest Baby on the Block.” I said, “Shush, shush, shush Little Girl. Stop crying. Shush, Shush, shush,” because I had no idea what her name was. All I needed was a swaddle and a pacifier.

I think because her other classmates were heading on stage just then or because I scared the shit out of her, she abruptly stopped crying and wiggled herself out of my arms. She wiped her tears and off she went.

Once the girls started to walk on stage, I ran from that side to the other side of the stage in just enough time to see Olivia strut into the spotlight. My heart soared as I watched her dance her dance and smile confidently. From 10 feet away. This was her first dance recital and I was right there with her in the wings. Priceless. (I’m chocked up writing this.)

We got the girls off the stage and back to the gym. Everyone was so excited. Great job! The girls couldn’t wait to get their shoes off. ALL AT ONCE!

“Nooooooo! Everyone stop right now! We need to do this in an organized way or we will loose your shoes! Not everyone has their names on their shoes! No! Stop! Right now!”

And so the craziness continued. I was physically and emotionally exhausted that night. I couldn’t wait to get out of that hell hole and take a shower and put my feet up. And in the same breath, I was so happy. I was put in a stressful situation and I survived. I did it!

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar, I thought I would never live a normal life again. I would always be a victim of my emotional state. But I proved that night that I can do it all. I can still experience a range of human emotions and not be unstable. I guess maybe you need to walk a mile in my shoes to get this. But trust me when I say it is so wonderful to feel totally “crazy” and know you are normal. And not mentally ill. Just plain old crazy.



Back in Business

I woke up one morning in the middle of May feeling overwhelmed. I looked at my calendar and wanted to cry. There was Olivia’s dress rehearsal for her dance recital, Mark’s golf trip, the actual dance recital (the one in which I agreed to be a back stage mom because no one else wanted the job), the Morningside Women’s Club end of the year luncheon where I would get voted in as the new “Programs” Chair, Jonah’s end of the year events at school (the two I was coordinating as the Room Parent) and the teachers gifts, my part-time job at my Dad’s office including a “special project” I was working on for him (i.e. additional hours), the side project I took on with a past decorating client, the Stella and Dot party I agreed to host, and the birthday parties, play dates and activities. So much.

I took several deep breaths as I remembered that I also needed to get groceries and do laundry and make a few appointments before I drove Olivia to karate at 5:00pm and Jonah to soccer at 7:30pm. I was incredibly overwhelmed and felt over-commited. What have I done?

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. What have I done? Exactly what I set out to do. Get my life back. The fast-paced, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants life I knew before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Not manic and unstable, but high-functioning and involved. I looked down at my calendar and I actually smiled. I thought, “This is what you dreamed of when you could barely get out of bed in the morning and brush your teeth 4 years ago. This is your reward.” And so I took a deep breath and started making a list of what I needed to do that day.

Now you may be thinking, “Oh she’s so positive. She has such a good attitude. Isn’t she great.” Just so you know, my life has been absolutely INSANE for the last three weeks. I knew I could mentally handle it all, but I forgot about what an incredibly busy schedule actually looks like.

It means you put your kids in the car and then go back into your house five times before actually leaving the driveway. And then realize once you are a block away that you don’t have your purse or your phone with you.

It means you put your paper calendar under your arm (the one that drives your husband CRAZY because it is so antiquated) and then help your daughter out of the car and drop the paper calendar into the only puddle in the parking lot. And then you have to figure out where you are supposed to be on Friday morning because the ink has bled and erased that morning.

It means you run into the grocery store to pick something up really quickly and rush out the automatic doors only you realize too late that they are broken and run into the glass.

It means you smell your armpit and realize that the “onion” smell is coming from the actual onion that is attached to the front of your shirt that fell off the bagel sandwich you inhaled in your car on the way to Pilates.

It means you almost get into an accident in every parking stall you ever try to pull out of. (“Damn it! Where did that car come from?”)

It means you don’t do laundry until everyone in the house has run out of under ware. And you have to wear your robe to bed because you can’t even find a t-shirt to put on.

It means you try to get the very last drop of hand lotion out of a small tube while stopped at a traffic light. You shake the tube hard and hit it against your palm and then there is an explosion of lotion all over your face, chest and steering column that you have to try to clean up while driving with your knee.

It means you jump at the opportunity to take the kids to the pool because it is the first time you have seen the sun in weeks. However, by the time you get there they have already closed the pool because of an approaching storm. So you wait 30 minutes until they open the pool again only now it is cooler and blustery. And you can feel the wind blowing in your hair. On your legs. Because you haven’t shaved since Jesus was born. And then another storm approaches and they close the pool again.

Ok ok….I could go on and on. Things get crazy when I am busy, but the big picture is that this is the life style I love. It makes me happy. It keeps me on my toes. It’s June 7th. Schools out and I made it through the last three weeks! And I purposely didn’t over-schedule myself or my kids this summer. So we can slow down and enjoy our days. It just feels so good to know that I’ve still got it in me. Look out world….I am back in business!




Meet Newman

The photos below are of our dog on the day we adopted him almost 12 years ago. A Beagle/Lab/Hound mix. Golden fur. White paws. Freckles on his snout and long, floppy ears. Mark and I were engaged to be married in six months, and our hearts melted. We enthusiastically signed the adoption papers and headed out the door as new pet owners. So excited!  (And yes, that is me wearing a white turtle neck. Alone.)



Awww. Sleeping baby. (And yes, I am wearing high-waisted jeans. In 2002.)

Our puppy. Sweetheart. So adorable, playful and energetic. But there was something about him we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Naughty? Mischievous? We had a hard time thinking of a name that fit his personality. Until we watched Seinfeld. Jerry opened his apartment door and said, “Heeelllooooo Newman,” to his annoying neighbor and arch-nemesis. Without hesitation, Mark and I looked at our furry, little friend chewing on the leg of our wood coffee table and knew that he was Newman. Our Newman. Always going to make our life a little more difficult.

For the first few nights, he cried into the wee hours in his kennel. Howled actually. Just like a Beagle. Until we caved and brought him into bed with us. Poor thing. He snuggled between us under the covers. We thought it was so cute. At least he was quiet.

But then he started to grow. And grow. And grow. And before we knew it, there was a 70 lb. beast sleeping with us and snoring and drooling on our pillows. He would slink down to the end of our bed (under the covers) and curl up at our feet. But then he would get hot and stand up at the end of the bed. Under the covers. Tossing his head from left to right like a wild horse trying to break free. Sheets everywhere. At 3:00 a.m.

But he was our dog. Our Newman. Our Regal Beagle.


We embraced our furry friend even though he was a total pain in the ass.

Mark’s brother, Mike, took care of Newman for a weekend. Not only did Newman sleep under the covers with Mike and spoon him, he also ate his solar landscaping lights. Totally destroying them.

Newman ate food off the counter. ALL THE TIME. Bread, sandwiches, bagels, pork tenderloin, cake, muffins. Anything within his reach.

He ate toilet paper. And garbage. And his own poop. And my underwear. (Don’t ask.)

He rolled in shit. ALL THE TIME. Not just “shit” shit, but shit like dead animals and rotting dead animals. Anything that looked or smelled like radio active waste. Especially on a Sunday when the groomer was closed.

We had him neutered. And his dew claws removed. And his anal sacks drained. Many times. And then his anal sacks removed.

We were BFFs with the Emergency Vet for about a year. Newman ate tin foil. Bones out of the trash. Too much underwear. He even ran into a tree and stabbed his face. So many visits.

I remember coming home in the spring of 2003 or 2004 and I heard a scratching noise. What on earth? I walked around the house and finally realized that the noise was coming from upstairs. I got near the bathroom and realized that Newman had “locked” himself inside. I opened the door and was hit with a wave of humid steam and doggy odor. Poor Newman had been trying to “dig” his way out of the bathroom threw the door for about 2 hours. He almost made it. There was an inch layer of wood shavings on the bathroom floor.

Newman is a barker. BIG TIME. Don’t get me started about the mail man. We have to go into lock down mode when our carrier arrives. And the pizza man. And the UPS driver. And anyone that steps onto our property. EVER.

Mark’s arch-nemesis became Newman. Newman’s arch-nemisis was the black, standard poodle who lived a few doors down from us. The owner would walk that cocky a-hole past our house every day and Newman would go crazy. And by crazy I mean he would BARK! and throw himself against the windows and blinds until the dog was out of sight. The hair on the back of his neck stood up.

And then came Jonah. Sweet baby.


Newman was NOT happy.


(I know it looks like I am naked in this photo and humping Newman. But I want to clarify that I am only half-naked from the waist up and holding Newman. Why wear a shirt when you have to nurse every two seconds? You are lucky I am not topless.)

And then came Olivia. And I was diagnosed with bi-polar and our lives fell apart. And Newman went to Auntie Ruth’s. Not a relative, but a kennel named Auntie Ruth’s Furry Friends Home Away from Home. He stayed for a week. And then two. And then three and then Newman was there three months. Auntie Ruth finally called one day to say that Newman was depressed. I wanted to cry. And? I was depressed and could barely take care of my kids. I wanted to scream, “Do you think I give a shit if Newman is homesick?!?” The woman convinced me that it was in Newman’s best interest for him to come home. So we picked him up and brought him home.

And then we tried to take Newman to a “No Kill” Shelter. (At least we were thoughtful.) They refused to take him because he was old and ill-behaved.

He then had a large, cancerous tumor that was surgically removed. Our Vet recommended a round of Chemotherapy to ensure the cancer was dead. We refused. We were told Newman had 4-6 months to live. Tops. He is still alive. (Our friend, Tom, thinks that Newman is the missing link to the cure for cancer and that we should donate his body to research.)

And then we hired a trainer to help control his behavior. To no avail.

And then Facebook. Thank God for Facebook. I have two years worth of “Newman” posts on Facebook. Here are my favorites. Highlighting his personality. His charisma.

You know when you can feel someone staring at you. I was just catching up on Facebook and I felt it. Eyes. Staring. I turned and there was Newman sitting very calmly in the entry staring me down. I stared back. 10 seconds. 25 seconds. 1 Minute. Oh my God! Newman just sucked me into a staring contest and I bought in. Hook, line and sinker. I blinked and he turned away. Crap. He won!

Jonah came upstairs and said, “Mom, Newman is wrestling Beckham and he doesn’t like it.” I came downstairs to see Newman actually “dry humping” Beckham. Jonah said, “See Mom. He just keeps grabbing him and going like this.” (Imagine Jonah gyrating alongside Newman.) I looked at the boys and said, “I think this playdate is over.”

There was a knock at the door. “Mrs. Stevens…Newman is in our backyard.” I said, “No, Henry, he is in our backyard. Staked to the ground.” Henry smiled politely and said, “Actually, he is in our backyard with his stake and chain still attached to his collar.” I said in my own head, “F me…God damn it…of all the f-ing dogs…bullshit…” I said aloud, “Thank you, Henry. Let me get my shoes and I’ll come and get Newman.”

I just found Newman with the help of Clarice Starling and Hannibel Lecter. Newnam ripped his stacked leash out of the ground and ran off into the darkness. I ran blindly, looking for him. I found him tangled around a bush near Buffalo Bill’s back porch, NOT KIDDING. I just hope that the neighbors don’t call the police about a crazy woman running in backyards and driveways and shit.

I created a new rule in our house: if the bathroom door is closed, whoever is in there deserves privacy. Olivia too, even if she is spreading lotion all over the tile. Anyway, I walked into the bathroom and closed the door. One second later it started to open. Without even looking I freaked out, “What does a closed door mean?” It was Newman. For the love of God. Clearly he didn’t get the memo.

Fantastic day…cut/color (super short and BLONDE!), lunch with family, mani/pedi. Until I got home and learned from my babysitter that Newman had gotten loose and was in my neighbors yard chewing on a frozen, dead squirrel! Can you brush dogs’ teeth with people toothpaste? How about Scope? Do you think Newman could swish?

Remember when Newman came home after rolling in poop and a dead animal that rolled in poop before it died? Well, our Vet just confirmed that Newman snacked on that dead animal before rolling in it. He has an intestinal infection. Shocking. And, by the way, he has a double ear infection. Animal Protection may get after our ass.

Newman has his annual physical this week and I am scared. He is fat. Not phat, but FAT. I’m worried I will get lectured. However, you should know that Newman sits at his dog food bin and bangs it…louder and louder until I feed him. It in NOT my fault. You have no idea how annoying that noise is.

Oh Newman, Sweet, beefy Newman. He is so hungry right now I feel sorry for him. He is staring at his dog dish and drooling. I already fed him tonight…cutting his usual meal almost in HALF! Of course he is hungry. Hopefully he doesn’t try to eat us alive in our sleep.

I rushed out the door to get Jonah from after-school Spanish class and forgot to take the trash with me. You guessed it. Garbage EVERYWHERE when I got home. Here is a sample of Jonah’s commentary, “Mom, I bet you’ll make a better choice next time.” “Don’t throw up, Mom. You’ll just have to clean that up too.” “Maybe you should teach Newman how to pick up after himself.” I just poured myself a glass of wine.

(Next day) Our dog walker said, and I quote, “I don’t want to alarm you but there was a plastic baggie and part of a crayon in Newman’s poop today. Did he get into something?”


The grass is always greener on the other side. Especially when your dog rips the shit out if it everyday.


Newman and I have our little morning routine. I let him out and then I make myself a cup of coffee. He chills on his little dirt patch and then when the f-ing mystery neighborhood dog starts barking, Newman works himself up into a frenzy until I literally threaten to throw rocks at him if he doesn’t get his furry ass in the house ASAP. All at 6:00 a.m.

Standing at the bus stop. Olivia convinced me that she was strong enough to hold onto Newman. I believed her. Then Jonah got off the bus and Olivia let go of the leash and I grabbed what I could. Too late. I fell over. Newman ran up to the mail carrier who was literally freaking out on the hood of my neighbors car. He was PISSED. Sorry fella. Take a deep breath. Newman is all about love. Though aggressive. He only loves.

Never a dull moment. Jonah, Olivia and I walked out the door to greet our friends in the driveway and Newman bolted. He was running around our yard and then headed towards my neighbors. Then he was sniffing and digging and grass and fur where flying in the air and there was a screeching noise. It took a few seconds to register…he found a nest! I sprinted over and screamed, “Noooooooo. No, No, No…you stupid ASSHOLE! I kicked his body away (literally) from the BABY BUNNY NEST! I tackled Newman and made sure there were no bunnies in his mouth. And then I hear, “Ma’am? Ma’am! You must tie up your dog! NOW!” The mail carrier was freaking out in my next door neighbor’s bushes. Do I actually attract crazy?

Thank god our postman delivered our mail today and not a flaming bag of dog poop on our front step.

Here is a photo of my dear Newman just a few days ago.


Newman. Snurf. Snarly Snurf. Snurfy Snurf. He’s an old man now. I have loved him, hated him, tolerated him and loved him again. In conclusion, I want to quote Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you are gonna get.” We got Newman, and wether we like it or not, we are in it for the long haul. XOXOX.

We’ve got video!

I tried to insert this video into my Mother’s Day post with no luck. Oh well. Here it is now.

Yes. That is me laughing. And just for fun, here is a video of my mom and I singing at her 65th birthday party. My mom doesn’t “let loose” that often, but when she does, she is a frickin’ riot. Did we have fun that night.

Isn’t my mom adorable? She is amazing and I love her to pieces. I TOTALLY chose her. Even though she brushes her hair and puts on lipstick to take her garbage can to the end of the driveway.

Happy Mother’s Day

Nothing can prepare you for motherhood. No matter how many books you read or shows you watch or people you talk to. You just don’t know what it is like until you hold your beautiful bundle of joy in your arms and look down and think, “Holy shit. What do I do now?”

Babies don’t come with owner manuals. Nor with instructions. What to do. What to say. You just have to try your best. There is a huge learning curve. You guess. You use good judgement. You have the best intentions. But you slip up. You feel at a loss. And sometimes you just want someone to tell you how to do it right.

I remember crying to Mark one night when Jonah was about 8 months old. I had been feverishly pursuing the role of the “perfect” mother since Jonah’s birth and was exhausted. I turned to Mark and said through tears, “What if I don’t do it right? What if I screw up and Jonah turns out horribly wrong?” Mark smiled and said, “Have you met our parents? I’m pretty sure they weren’t perfect, but we survived.”

I giggled. Then let out a deep, belly laugh. Then I cried some more. Point taken. No matter how hard we try to be perfect as parents, as mothers, we can’t control everything. It reminds me of the grandma’s speech in the movie Parenthood, about riding a roller coaster. Some people prefer the merry-go-round. Some prefer the roller coaster. I love my roller coaster. (Did you read Crazy Times?)

I like to believe that Jonah and Olivia chose me as their mother. In that cosmic, other-worldy kind of way. Don’t judge me. Those two knuckle heads. We’re perfect for each other. They make my life full. Crazy. Silly. Exhausting. Rewarding. I know I am a good mom no matter what anyone says.

Even though I laughed when Olivia fell riding our mini roller coaster. (Fitting, right?)

[Insert really funny video of Olivia getting hurt. Right here. I can’t figure out how to upload the fucking file. My “blog guy” is in Duluth for the fishing opener. It would have been perfect. Damn it.]

Or laughed uncontrollably when Jonah proudly showed me his drawing of a pan.


Or that I burned the shit out of our kids because I forgot to re-apply sunscreen after lunch.


Or that I didn’t have the heart to tell Jonah that his little sister fucked up his metal detector, rendering it useless. “Mommy, I’m totally going to find buried treasure!” I cried on the inside and said, “Absolutely, sweetheart!”


And that I took a picture of my daughter eating her hot dog and secretly thought, “Why is she so weird? Should I be concerned?”


And that I watched my kids watching the first snow fall and was envious. “What would it feel like to experience that kind of wonder again?”


Like when I actually believed my son’s friend was telling the truth when he said the log ride was “awesome” and not scary. (Jonah is in the front of the log, freaking out. Mommy’s having a fucking blast in the rear.)


I judged the moms who brought their daughters to get a manicure with them. The young daughters. I thought, “What a bad influence.” And then I had a daughter. And I brought her to the salon.


BEST. TIME. EVER. (It never pays to judge.)

I am a firm believer in setting limits. But I also think that parents should have fun with their kids. Like when we went to the Children’s Museum. I drew the mustache, but my kids did the rest.


Speaking of mustaches…After flying home from Florida this spring, I wanted to strangle my kids. Instead, I put them to bed, got drunk and applied a self adhesive mustache. And sent Mark this photo from the basement with a text, “I love your body Larry.” (If you don’t know that I am referring to the movie Fletch, then we can’t be friends. NOT KIDDING.)


The point is, being a mom, a parent, is the weirdest thing since thong underwear. Some people try to prove that they are an amazing parent. That they can do no wrong. Others, like me, hang on for dear life and put away a little money each month for their kids’ therapy fund. We are only human. And are bound to screw up at some point. And that is ok. Because we are still good people. And perfect mommies. In our own special way. Now pat yourself on the back.


It was Ranae who first diagnosed me with Attention Deficient Disorder. Ranae is my clothing stylist friend. We were in my bedroom looking through clothes I had purchased. I was bouncing around the room. She watched and listened as I jabbered, “Look at this cute top…oh and these pants are great…they go with this other shirt…and think of how cute my turquoise neckless….”

Ranae grabbed me and said, “Holy shit, SLOW DOWN. I swear you have ADD!” I brushed it off and laughed, “I’m just really excited. You should have seen me when I was manic!” Ranae laughed and joked, “Would I have even know the difference?” I laughed out loud and said, “Good point. Probably not!” I remember thinking, “I have Bipolar Disorder, NOT Attention Deficit Disorder!” Like it was beyond comprehension.

I recently met with my therapist. Sue is amazing. She saved my life. More accurately, she brought me back to life. I met with her every week for about three months when I was newly diagnosed with Bipolar and was suffering through a debilitating depression. At our first session, I told Sue my story, including the fact that I had attempted suicide. She didn’t flinch. She didn’t judge. She said how genuinely sorry she was that I had reached a point of such hopelessness. I sobbed. I remember saying, “Will I ever get better?” She looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes. I know you don’t believe it right now, but I promise you. You will get better.” And I did.

At our most recent meeting, I asked Sue to describe what I looked like at that first session. I said, “Sad and empty, right?” She thought a moment and said, “No. Not sad. You looked scared. So very scared.” Wow. I held my hand to my heart. I couldn’t breath for a moment. And then I let out a long, deep breath and said, “Yes. I was scared.”

As Sue and I talked through my recovery a bit, I felt my thoughts jumping around. I would say something and then say something else. At one point I laughed and joked, “Sue, I swear I have ADD!” She looked at me and said, “I think you do too. I’ve thought that for quite some time.”

What? It felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I was speechless. Processing. And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. The Ginkel Top. “Oh my God, Sue! The fucking Ginkel Top. Of course! It’s so obvious! I never close lids all the way. I totally have ADD!”

After explaining to Sue my issues with Ginkel Topping everything, we agreed that I should mention this to my psychiatrist. (The ADD, not the Ginkel Top.) It’s worth investigating, but honestly, do I really need to be on more medication? I’ve managed this long. Right? Or have I?

I lost my keys on the golf course yesterday. Well, not on the course, but somewhere between my car, the parking lot, the club house, the locker room and my golf bag. I finished up my nine holes and returned my bag to the caddy shack. (I think it’s technically called the “bag storage area” but saying caddy shack makes me smile. Great movie.) I said to the young, college kid, “Hang on one second. I need to get my keys.” He looked on as I searched through every single pocket in my bag. I giggled nervously, “Huh? I could have sworn I put them in here. I probably left them in the locker room.”

I looked in the locker room. I asked in the Pro Shop. I re-traced my steps out onto the patio. Nothing. I thought, “Where on earth could they be? I know I locked my car. I think. Maybe they are on the ground?” I started walking towards the parking lot. And then I seized with panic! Oh my god! What if I left my keys in the ignition with the car running the whole time? You may laugh, but this is a real possibility. I’ve done it before. At the grocery store. God help me.

I started to run. Please no. I got to my car and grabbed the handle. I pulled hard thinking it was going to fly open. Locked. Oh thank God. But, wait. If they aren’t in the ignition and I don’t see them on the ground, where the fuck are my car keys?

I hung my head and walked back towards the caddy shack. I ran into Greg, the starter, on the way and asked, “You haven’t seen any keys laying around?” He said, “No I haven’t. Did you check your bag?” I smiled through my teeth. “Yes I did, but I guess I must have missed them. I’ll just go ask one of the caddies…” Greg interrupted me, “Don’t worry. I’ve got it.” Without hesitating, he got on his walkie talkie and said loudly, “Hey guys, can you get Jenner Stevens’ bag out again. She’s lost her keys and needs to check her bag one more time.” Perfect. Now the entire golf course staff knows I’m a moron.

I got my bag and carefully pulled out everything in each pocket. Sleeves of balls, tees, ball markers, pencils, old golf gloves, an extra towel, my bag of “water” balls. Everything. Scattered on the side lawn. I even put my entire head in the biggest pocket on the back of the bag just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Still no keys. I was stumped.

And then it hit me. Could it be? Could they be in the bottom of my bag? In with all the clubs? Gotta be. I pulled out my 3 wood, putter and 7 iron. I still couldn’t see down in there. I thought about asking one of the caddies for a flash light, but that would have taken too long. I pulled out the rest of my clubs and shoved my arm down the biggest opening in the bag.

I couldn’t quite reach the bottom. My arm was too big. Stretching. Just a little farther. I was almost armpit deep when I thought, “Oh fuck, what if my arm gets stuck?” I panicked and yanked my arm out. Thank god. I grabbed the bag and turned it upside down and shook like hell.

And then a loud clunk. MY KEYS! I actually yelled it out loud, “Yeah! I found my keys!” I heard a voice from behind me. “You found them!” It was one of the caddies. He had been observing me the whole time. Lord help me. I’m not sure if the country club keeps files on it’s members, but I’m sure they added some sort of asterisk next to my name that day.

I have no idea how my keys got in there. I was probably distracted. I may have set them on top of a head cover and forgot about them. I just don’t know. But I do know that I likely have ADD. And like Bipolar Disorder, it will not define me. It’s good to know though. Holy shit it explains a lot.


Style Saint

I hit my breaking point in the Fall of 2011. With tears in my eyes, I confessed to Marriah, my long-term hair stylist, that I felt shitty about myself. “I feel fat, ugly and tired. I’m just so tired of waking up every day, looking in my mirror and closet and feeling like a frumpy mommy who has let herself go. I need help.”

Marriah has cut and colored my hair for the past 16 years. When I first met her, I was a sweater-set, pearl-wearing sorority girl. She was an alternative beauty with tattoos, funky hair and attitude. Polar opposites. Granted, I found her by accident after I attempted to cut my own hair and booked an emergency appointment at her salon. (Don’t ask.) Marriah looked right at me and said, “You actually tried to cut your own hair? That was stupid.” A straight shooter. No gray areas. I fell in love with her instantly.

So as I was crying to Marriah in 2011, she put her hand on my shoulder and tenderly said, “It’s time for you to call Ranae.” I had heard about Ranae before. Ranae St. Angelo. The Style Saint. (Actually, she was recently featured on Twin Cities Live.) She was Marriah’s stylist friend. She goes through individual’s closets and gets rid of old, unflattering clothing and helps purchase a fresh, new wardrobe. On your budget. With your unique style in mind. I knew it was time to call her.

Ranae and I chatted. We made an appointment. And I started to panic. “Oh my God. She is going to actually look in my closet.” I didn’t think my clothes were that horrible, but knew I was lost at sea. I didn’t have direction. Haphazardly purchasing random things. Embarrassed by my recent weight gain, I fell into the habit of buying a lot of leggings and large Muumuus. I mean tunics.

Ranae arrived and I was already sweating and talking fast. I was nervous. I was about to be judged. Not in a bad way. But I knew I was putting myself out there for critique and I was VERY uncomfortable. I also knew that I needed to share with her that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder two years earlier. That I had suffered through intense mania and horrible depression.

Most people wouldn’t dare share something so private with a practical stranger, but I needed to. I needed her to understand where I had been, why my self-esteem had been shattered and why I wanted to feel good about myself again. Even if it just meant buying some new clothes.

I opened my closet with a dramatic gesture and said, “Welcome to my world.” Ranae and I looked threw each and every item in there. Tops, pants, earrings, scarves. Everything. I realized how much of it had sentimental value. The purse I bought in New Zealand, my charm bracelet, and the Minnetonka Moccasins I bought because they reminded me of my childhood. I even held on to the red sweater I wore the night Mark and I met at the Fine Line.

I also realized that I had a TON of shit. Crap. Poorly fitting, Old Navy crap. (No offense Old Navy.) Ranae looked at me at one point and said, “Do you honestly think this clothing reflects what a sophisticated, amazing woman you are?”

Ranae pulled out a cream, lacy turtle neck that was kind of sheer. “Tell me about this top,” Ranae said to me point blank. With sweat on my upper lip I stuttered, “I…I don’t know. I’ve worn it a bunch of times. It looks cute with jeans?” Ranae didn’t skip a beat, “Yes, but what did you wear it with?” I pulled out a beige, wrap sweater and said simply, “This.”

Ranae looked at me and then looked at the cream lace and the beige and said, “Could people even see you?” I gasped, “What are you talking about?” She laughed, “First of all, this is a horrible color combination on you. It completely washes you out. And it is just bad. Really bad.” When did you wear it?”

I thought I was going to die. I almost threw up on that crappy, neutral turtle neck and sweater. I smiled sheepishly, “In our Christmas card photo last year.” I thought Ranae was going to have a heart attack. All I could do was cringe. Exposed to the world. In shitty neutrals.


This is the photo we sent out. Even though my head looks significantly larger than everyone else, it was the only one where we were all smiling and looking at the camera. There is another photo from that same “shoot” that better displays the shitty neutrals, but Mark’s assistant tried to Photo Shop my face (don’t ask) and ruined it. Check it out. I look like one of those creepy character in Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” video. Seriously? What the fuck? Clearly we didn’t use this shot.


I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about Ranae. She is not mean. She is not hurtful in the least bit. She is honest. And very direct. She is kind, generous and fun-natured and only has your best interest in mind. She wants you to look good, but more importantly, feel good about yourself and your body.

Ranae wanted me to try on a couple of items to check for fit. Half way through she paused and said, “Are you wearing your house bra today?” I looked at her confused, “House bra?” Ranae smiled, “Yeah…you know…a bra you only wear around the house because it’s old and worn out.” I took a deep breath, “I wear this bra ALL the time. Is it really bad?” Ranae asked, “When was the last time you tightened the straps?” I thought for a moment and replied, “In the fitting room when I tried it on before buying it three years ago.” Ranae let out an exasperated sign, “Jenner…Jenner…what am I going to do with you?”

I made it though our first consultation and actually agreed to meet her at Nordstrom’s to get fitted for new bras and do a little shopping. Ranae’s friend, Caitlin, is a “Certified Fit Specialist” in the lingerie department. She enthusiastically assured me that a good bra can make all the difference in the world.

Caitlin measured me and asked about my style and color preferences. I waited in a fitting room while she shopped for me. I looked at my self in the mirror. Tired eyes. Standing in my ugly, old bra. My tummy roll hanging over my pants. I wanted to cry. I didn’t recognize myself.

Caitlin came back with beautiful bras. Nothing to flashy, but pretty and supportive. She excused herself for a moment and asked that I try on the first bra. I put it on and looked in the mirror, “Whoa! Who’s boobs are these?” Caitlin knocked gently and came in. She looked and said, “Now that’s how a bra should fit! Damn girl! Wait…one more thing.”

She turned me towards her and slipped her fingers into one of my bra cups and cradled my breast in her hand. She lifted it up, repositioned it and gently laid it down. (Sort of like laying a tiny, baby bird in it’s nest. Only the bird is big. And has a large areola and a protruding nipple.) She smiled and said, “Now that is perfect! You look amazing!”

While I was getting felt up by Caitlin, Ranae was shopping for me. For clothes I needed. Clothes that fit me correctly. And clothes that spoke to my personality. All on a budget we discussed before hand. After purchasing my new bras, I met Ranae in another fitting room and was giddy to see all of the clothes she had pulled for me. I strutted in and said, “Do you like my new boobs?” Ranae’s mouth dropped, “Oh my GOD. Where have you been hiding those things?”

I smiled broadly and said, “Can you even stand it? Who knew?” Ranae laughed and said, “I did. And I also know that you have a beautiful body. We just need to dress you properly. Trust me. You’re going to look great.”

Ranae and I have become dear friends. We shop. We banter. We laugh until we cry. Sometimes we cry. The most important thing is that we build each other up. We remind each other that we are special and beautiful no matter what we look like. We both understand that self-esteem and confidence do not come from clothes or things. It comes from your heart and your soul. And Ranae helped me find mine again. That sparkle in my eye. That spring in my step. It was always there, I just needed a Style Saint to help me get there.


The Ginkel Top

Everyone has idiosyncrasies. Some are funny. Some are strange. Some are down right annoying. It is those nuances in our personalities that make us unique. Mark and I spent almost all of our time together when we were dating and engaged. It’s funny, but it wasn’t until we were actually married and living under one roof that our particular “quirks” surfaced.

I don’t remember exactly when Mark first commented on my inability to securely tighten a milk cap, but I remember feeling irritated. “What? It’s on…right? Mark looked at me and relented, “Yeah, but look at it.” See photo below. (Not taken during the events described. Re-enacted in my kitchen this morning.)


I looked at the cap and then looked at him and said, “Yeah…AND?” Mark couldn’t believe I was serious. He took a deep breath, “It’s not on all the way. How hard is it to take two extra seconds to get it on correctly?” I dismissed him, “It’s not that big a deal. Here…I’ll fix it.”

What I realized rather quickly was that it IS a big deal. Anything in the fridge with a cap that I handled was haphazardly secured. It drove Mark crazy. He even coined a term to describe the phenomenon – “The Ginkel Top.” If you don’t know, Ginkel is my maiden name. Mark hypothesized that I must have inherited this behavior from my family.

What is scary is that the Ginkel Top doesn’t apply to only milk jugs or jars. I’ve Ginkel Topped my gas cap. I’ve Ginkel Topped a piece of luggage. I’ve even Ginkel Topped a bag of frozen chicken nuggets. I made the kids dinner and threw a “mostly closed” sealed bag into the freezer on it’s side. Of course Mark was the next one to make the kids nuggets. He quickly grabbed the bag and lifted it into the air, spilling frozen pieces of breaded chicken EVERYWHERE! Disgusted, Mark hung his head and said, “You even know how to Ginkel Top a fucking freezer bag?” He was at a loss.

I couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t know why but I think it is hysterical how much this annoying tendency of mine drives Mark crazy. So comical. It is our little joke. Well, my joke. Mark’s frustration. It is fitting then that I was completely annoyed and beyond irritated when I Ginkel Topped a water bottle in my purse at Target recently.

Olivia and I drove into the parking lot and hopped out of the car. I grabbed my almost-full bottle of water and tossed it into my purse. Before we started shopping, we made a pit stop in the bathroom. Hands washed, we walked to get a cart. I looked in my purse for my shopping list. I stopped dead in my tracks. The water bottle was empty. Oh no. No…no…no!

I walked over to a closed check-out lane and put my purse down on the bagging platform. Water splashed my face. (Not really, but you can image.) I opened my purse wide and gasped. Water. Everywhere. STANDING WATER in my purse. The change in my wallet was floating. (Not really, but almost.) Soggy dollar bills and sopping-wet receipts. “What a mess!” I pulled everything out and tried to soak up the water with Kleenex. “God damn it. SHIT! Crap. Sorry Livi.” I was so pissed. I knew that I didn’t close the top to my water bottle all the way, but I never once thought about a Ginkel Top. This was just a random, unfortunate event. Right?

So Olivia and I did our shopping with my wet, personal items in the child seat of the cart. As we’re checking out I transfer everything to a plastic Target bag. The sales associate said, “Oh bummer. Did you know the top wasn’t on all the way?” I smiled and said something nice, but I was thinking, “Yeah asshole, I decided to roll the dice and leave the cap to a bottle of water on/off and throw it into my bag. Just to see what happens!” Whatever.

Olivia and I arrived home. Mark and Jonah where still at hockey. I took my purse and all of it’s contents out of the Target bag and laid them on our kitchen table. Credit cards were stuck together. The kids pictures I have tucked in a fold in my wallet were bleeding. The one amazing thing is that my cell phone survived. I had placed it in a little pocket above flood stage. THANK GOD!

Mark got home and walked into the kitchen. He raised his eye brows, “What’s going on?” I looked up and we locked eyes. “Well, I didn’t close the cap to my water bottle all the way so it leaked out into my purse.” The hint of a smirk appeared at the corner of Mark’s mouth. He said, “I don’t even know what to say.” He didn’t have to say anything. I had actually Ginkel Topped myself!

Jenner’s Run/Walk Club

Mark is a runner. Like a marathon runner. Like he’ll wake up on a Saturday and casually say, “I think I’m gonna go for a little run.” Which means like five miles! I baulk at this because I am not a runner. I love to go on fast walks where I pump my arms and break a sweat, but a runner I am not.

I had to break it to Mark when we were first dating. “Just so you know, I will NEVER run a marathon with you.” Mark smiled and said, “Oh Jenner. Never say nev…” I cut him off, “I’m not kidding. If you are looking for a long-term companion who will run marathons with you, cut bait RIGHT NOW. I am not your girl.”

It’s not that I don’t like to work out. I go to Pilates twice a week and am very strong. I just don’t do much cardio, unless you consider child rearing and household maintenance a workout. (I once ran our oversized trash bin down the street, screaming and yelling, to catch up with the garbage man. I bet I burned at least 250 calories.) Since we don’t belong to a gym, I am stuck with our treadmill. Our crappy, hamster wheel that faces a brick wall in our cold basement. If you can believe it, I don’t use it that often.

So I woke up, motivated, one day in mid-March and decided that I needed a workout plan. Something simple, straight-forward and manageable. I wanted to invite some of my neighbors to join me in my quest for a more well-rounded exercise routine. It didn’t take long to come up with the “track” concept. See diagram below.


It would be easy. Starting from my house, I would walk around the block…then run around the block. Then walk one lap…then run one, etc. For a duration of 30 minutes. It’s my idea of the perfect work out. Get your heart rate up with the knowledge that you only have to run for so long. Then you get to walk and catch your breath. Brilliant. With the excitement of a child, I sent out an e-mail to several of my neighbors detailing my plan.

I should mention at this point that there is a small caveat to my club. It meets at 6:30 in the morning, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. As you can imagine my neighbors weren’t as excited as I was. They were like, “Great idea. Why so early?”…”Awesome except for the timing”…”Love it. I may or may not make it.” One neighbor even wrote something like, “When I first read your email I thought it was the most ridiculous idea I had ever heard. Wake up at the crack of dawn to run in circles?” Well when you put it that way. Geez.

Never mind. I was not deterred. I just needed to test drive my concept. On a cold, sunny, Saturday morning in early April, I laced up my shoes and started to walk towards Littel Street. God it felt good. Down Lynn Avenue. I breathed in the cold air and smiled. I was putting my plan into action.

I rounded the corner of 42nd Street and Oakdale, nearing the end of lap one, and couldn’t wait to start running. I reached our house and picked up my pace. Yeah. I’m running. I made it half way down Lynn Avenue when I became short of breath. “Wow, I’m out of shape!” I laughed. Everything went down hill fast. As I rounded the corner of Lynn and 42nd I almost couldn’t breathe. I thought out loud, “This is fucking bullshit! Holy Mother of God this is hard. Who in their right fucking mind thinks this is a good idea?” I rounded the corner onto Oakdale and could see my house in the distance. It felt like I had 50 pound ankle weights on each leg. “Must. Keep. Moving. Must. Keep. Running.”

I reached our driveway and almost collapsed. I put my hands on my hips and panted through my mouth with my tongue out. I had that painful expression on my face. You know the one that runners make when they have really pushed it hard? Guess how far I had run? Not even half a mile! HALF A MILE! (Actually, it is .35 miles around the track. I know because I drove my car around the circle.) I had to keep going. I couldn’t stop now! With all the energy I could muster I started walking towards Littel Street to begin lap 3. “Must. Keep. Going.”

My heart rate came down by 42nd street, though I was still breathing rather heavily. I thought, “Maybe this isn’t so bad.” However, in the same moment I realized that I had to start running again. Soon. A single tear fell down my cheek. (Not really, but you can image it.) I approached my house and said, “Ok Jenner…let’s do this.” And I started to put one foot in front of the other. And I did it. I made it around again. And then I walked. And then I ran again. For 30 minutes. I did it! And swore the whole time.

The Jenner Run/Walk Club officially kicked off Monday, April 8th. It was a brisk morning, but sunny and bright. My reluctant neighbor (“You want to run in circles?”) was the only one who showed up. I saw her walking up Oakdale at 6:30AM in the dew of the dawn and felt a little chocked up….we’re really doing this! As we began our journey together (just kidding), I realized that we would be passing the houses of all the people who chose not to participate in my little club that day. As we rounded Lynn and 42nd, I saw the kitchen light on in one of those houses.

What do you think was going through my head? Wave to that neighbor? Smile and give a little thumbs up? Playfully motion for her to join us? Actually my first thought was, “I’m going to flash Allison my boobs as I run by. That’ll show her. Yeah. Cause that’s a fantastic idea.” But then I paused, “What if Allison’s husband was in the kitchen getting a glass of orange juice? Do you really want him to see your boobs?” (See The Cringe Factor.) Thank God I was too tired to take my shirt off.

Anyway, my neighbor and I finished our workout and parted ways. I had hoped to keep the momentum going after that first day, but Mother Nature had a different plan for us in Minnesota. The Run/Walk Club was put on hiatus until April 24th. It was still quite cold that day, so I waited until 9:30am and headed out on my own. Well sort of.

Olivia is home on Wednesdays so I decided to tuck her in our jogging stroller and hit the track.  Walk one. Run one. Walk one. Olivia yelled up to me, “We’re walking around AGAIN? What are you doing?” I laughed, but kept on moving. She continued, “Why are you running now? I thought we were walking.” And just to mess with me some more, Olivia said, “Wait…Mommy…this street looks familiar. Haven’t we been down it before?” Ha, ha, ha Little Mark Stevens. I just tried to tune out her banter and finish my workout.

Just for fun, I took a photo of Olivia and I as we finished. Sweating. I’m just a little red. And I may look like the lead singer of A Flock of Seagulls. But I did it. And I felt great! Want to join me?