Tails from a mother of five in photos, videos, humor and short stories...welcome to our zoo!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#AskAwayFriday with Stacey - Blogging, Blake and Cheese

What is #AskAwayFriday?

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers!

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way. Participating in #AskAwayFriday each week is also a great way to build your blogging community.

Drop by and welcome our fabulous #AAF hosts:

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings

and Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy

This week my buddy is Stacey Gannett from thismommasramblings.com. where she blogs about the "day to day adventures of a home schooling, home making wife and mom."  Make sure you drop by to read Stacey's answers to my questions.

Below are the questions she asked me.

1. What would you like to see happen for Healthy Moms Magazine in 2015?

This is a tough one because I have reached so many milestones and goals that I have set for my main blog already. I guess I would love to see more comments on my posts over there. I have learned that most people like to comment on personal stories instead of informative articles. That is one reason why I started this blog. If you take a look, I get twice as many comments on my posts here than on The Healthy Moms Magazine. I have always envisioned The Healthy Moms Magazine as being more of a community rather than just a blog. But, that never happened so I created Healthy Moms Social, which is an interactive online community. But I am having a hard time growing that network and getting the members to interact with each other.

2. What’s one thing you’d rather pay someone to do than do yourself? Why?

If I could afford it I would have a personal assistant.  I get hundreds of e mails every single day, mostly from PR reps or clients needing social media promotions or sponsored content. I am constantly checking my e mail and I think I spend about 3-4 hours a day just replying to e mails. I would love to be able to hire someone to do this for me and to manage my social network.

3. What are five things that you like to do for just you?

A. Go for a run or workout. I either go for an early morning run before my kids get up or later in the day I will do a 20 minute weight training workout. I workout 5 days a week.

B. Pray the rosary and read my Bible. I try to do this on a daily basis and when we lived in Spokane and I had more time to myself I was able to read the Bible and pray the rosary every day. I think when my kids are a little older I will have more free time for this.

C. Play King Puzzle Games on My Fire Tablet. This is becoming a terrible addiction but it helps me to unwind when I am stressed out. I play almost all the King games. You've probably heard of Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, you name the saga game and chances are I play it.  I get angry when my kids play video games for too long and I guess I am not showing a very good example.

D. Listen to Music I love my country music! Blake, Miranda, Carrie, Garth, Luke, FGL, LBT, Kenny, Brad, I know them all on a first name basis and listen to music every single day. I have country radio playing in my mini van and my kids (even Little Bear) know the words to all the songs that come on.  We are looking forward to watching SNL this weekend because Blake Shelton is hosting.  He is my kids' favorite country artist.

E. Play My Flute You probably didn't know that I am a musician. I was a music major in college and have played the flute since I was in fifth grade. Music helps me deal with stress, anxiety and when I was a teenager it helped me with depression.  I play my flute in the church choir for mass every Sunday. It is another way I can praise the Lord.

4. What is one guilty pleasure you enjoy too much to give up?

Wine. Lately, Chris has been into mixed drinks and he wants to create a home bar. So we are trying different adult beverages. We are falling in love with cinnamon whiskey. It is so good! We mix it with diet soda. I know it isn't the best for you, but man it is so good.  Usually when the kids are in bed and I've had a rough day I will get myself a glass of white wine. Even though red wine tastes much better than white, I can't drink it because it gives me migraine headaches.

5. What would your dream pamper day consist of?

I would love to have a long soak in a bubble bath or hot tub followed by a massage and manicure. Then relax with the Bible or another good book.  All while listening to Blake Shelton, of course and drinking some white wine. Maybe I could have him give me a private acoustic concert while I am relaxing.  That would be nice!

6. What is one thing that blogging has taught you about yourself? 

I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. When I started my first blog back in 2007, I never imagined that seven years later I would have thousands and thousands of people reading what I write every single day. I am very humbled at the success of my blog. But know that through hard work, dedication and hours, and hours of time I can do anything.  This is why I am working on my first book. If I can make a blog with 60K page views and 30K subscribers, I can write a book and sell 90K copies.

7. Do you have a favorite story from your childhood that you now read to your kids?

 No I don't but Chris does. His favorite story from his childhood is "The Giving Tree." Our kids have a copy of that book and he's read it to them a few times.

8. What is your fondest dream that you have yet to accomplish?

See number 6. I am working on my first book. Actually it is going to be offered on Kindle only and I guess can categorise it as a Kindle ebook. I love how easy Amazon makes it for writers like me to be self published. If my first one is a success I am going to write many, many more. I would love to be able to provide a decent second income for my family. I can't get a regular job because Chris travels so much for work. Also, I never enjoyed working for anyone else. I would love to be able to make money from my own accomplishments and not by doing what a boss says.

9. Do you have a favorite recipe from your childhood that you now make for your family?

I have several recipes that I make for my kids. Kitty's birthday is coming up and I always make a home made chocolate birthday cake for my kids. It is my paternal grandmother's recipe.  She died when I was still a baby so I always remember my dad making the chocolate cake for our birthdays. This year Kitty wants me to make cup cakes instead of the regular pan cake that I usually make.

10. As a fellow Illinoisan, what is your favorite thing about living here?

This is a tough one because I have only lived here for five months now. So I will just say this. It borders the fabulous, most awesomist (I don't think this is a word) state in the whole union.

I am a cheese head, a Wisconsinite, a die hard Packer fan, and was born and raised in America's Dairy Land.  Crystal lake is just an hour south of the state line and my parents live an hour and a half from us. If Chris didn't have to work in Chicago we would have moved back to Wisconsin. But Illinois will do. And we love Crystal Lake. It is a nice, friendly community and we feel comfortable raising our kids here.

Care to swap with me?? I have all my Fridays in February open. Send me an e mail at talbertcascia@yahoo.com and we can arrange it! 

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Reaching Into My Magic Jar

Before I stay up late tonight to answer my #AskAwayFriday questions, I thought I better put a post inbetween that one and my #WordlessWednesday.  January has been so busy this year, I realized that most of my posts for this month are #WordlessWednesday and #AskAwayFriday.  I am doing better with commenting on other blogs, but writing needs some improvement. I think it is time once again to reach into my magic jar and pull out some spare time.

I have exactly 43 minutes to write and publish this post before I leave to pick Kitty up for her mental health appointment.  If you regularly follow this blog you may remmber that we moved to the Chicago suburbs in August and ever since I have been struggling with time management.  I attempted to sort my time and priorieties, but that didn't work. My anxiety got worse because I couldn't complete all my to-do lists, so I decided to let it go.  That was going well until, New Year's arrived.

Yes, the New Year, new beginnings, and goal setting. Goals? What the heck are those?? I don't believe in Resolutions, instead I set goals for myself. Usually, I stick with them until mid March or April and every year I tell myself that I can make those goal last longer.  I already gave up on my New Years goals for this year, or at least most of them. It's due to the fact that my magic jar is empty.
I think I need to go to the spare time shop and get some more of that stuff that we busy moms crave. Too bad there isn't a real spare time store. Instead, I need to trade in what I am used to for something else that I need.  Like, sleep.  I am finding myself staying up a half an our later so I can visit more blogs and I wake an hour earlier than usual so I can go out for a morning run. Running on icy sidewalks in the dark of a Chicago winter isn't easy.  But, the vision of myself with a flatter tummy, in my two piece bathing suit on the beaches of Florida for spring break makes the cold early morning runs worth it.  At least the first two mornings this week were worth it, until I found myself too tired, the sidewalks too slippery, and my head too hurty.

Today is a fitness rest day for me.  Instead of my usual workout I will spend my limited spare time taking my little girl to her appointment in McHenry, filling out birthday party invitations, and going to the Little Flowers Catholic Girls Club meeting and the Blue Knights Catholic Boys Club meeting after school.

What do you do in your spare time? Did you set goals for the new year?
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - Watching the Fish

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

Parrot got a couple of goldfish from Santa and within a couple of days they died. I think he went through about six fish in a matter of weeks. So we took him to the pet store over the weekend and got him a couple of other fish. I don't remember what they are called, but the lady at the pet store said that they are not as dirty as gold fish and they will live a couple of years. After a day one of them died. He now has one lonely fish in his tank.  Hopefully we can figure out how to keep them alive a little longer!

Do you have any pets?

Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday

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Friday, January 16, 2015

#AskAwayFriday - With the Mad Mommy

What is #AskAwayFriday?

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers!

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way. Participating in #AskAwayFriday each week is also a great way to build your blogging community.

Drop by and welcome our fabulous #AAF hosts:

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings

and Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy

This week I am paired off with Echo from Domain of the Mad Mommy. Visit her blog at /themadmommy.com to read her answers to my questions.

Here's what Echo asked me.

1. You and I both have unique names. Where does your name originate from and do you know why your parents chose it?

My name is Italian and is taken from my mother's maiden name. It is pronounced Cash-a. My middle name is Lea which is pronounced with a long e, like Lee. My mother's maiden name is Cascioli. She just changed the o to an a and li became my middle name, Lea. There is also a city in Italy called Cascia and we have a saint from that city, Saint Rita of Cascia.

2. You and I both have boys that have been diagnosed with Autism, (my son's original diagnosis was Asperger's Syndrome which has now changed to PDD-NOS) what is the most valuable thing that you have learned since Parrot's diagnosis?

My Aspies

Actually, I have two children with Asperger's Parrot and my oldest, Goose. What is the most valuable thing that I have learned since their diagnoses?  I think I could dedicate a whole blog post to this but I won't bore you. Because I have two children whom I refer to as my Aspie kids, one boy and one girl, I have learned that boys and girls with Asperger's are very different from each other.  Boys with Aspergers are very logical. To them and especially my little boy, everything is black and white. Opinions, feelings and anything abstract is challenging for boys with Asperger's. However, girls with Asperger's are the exact opposite.  Girls are creative and very imaginative.  When Goose was a little girl in order to avoid social situations which made her feel awkward, she would create her own imaginary world in her head with imaginary friends. On the playground at school she would go off by herself and escape into the imaginary world in her head instead of playing with the other girls.  Today,  at age 17, she is a very gifted writer and is working on her first novel.

Parrot has other special gifts. He began talking at five months and was talking in complete sentences before he walked.  I knew he was different the moment he was born. Today at age seven, he reads at a fifth grade level, does fourth grade math, and can put together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle all on his own in about a day.  But writing and expressing himself on paper is very challenging.  Formulating an opinion about something is also difficult for my little boy.  His teachers still think he is a genius.

3. Going along with the last question, what has been the hardest thing for you to understand or deal with?

I am very outgoing and social. When I was a kid I made friends very easily and never felt awkward around other people. My aspies get very anxious around their peers. I don't understand this, and don't think I will ever understand it.  My daughter is doing much better with socializing now. However, she still gets nervous around other kids her age. My son would rather talk to an adult about insects, his latest puzzle, dinosaurs, fish or a science experiment that he has done than approach another kid.  His teacher told me that he loves science so much and is so good at it, that he could easily teach the science lessons to the class.  When Parrot comes home from school I always ask him who he played with at recess and he always says, "Myself."  The strangest thing about this for me is that he chooses to play by himself and he is perfectly happy with only having one friend.

4. I know that raising awareness is important to you, what is one thing that you wish more people knew about Trichotillomania?

I could easily dedicate a whole blog post about this as well.  Trichotillomania is more common than most people think. People of all ages, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, and socio-economic backgrounds have trichotillomania. In early childhood, it seems to occur as frequently in boys as girls. By adulthood, 80-90% of reported cases are women. It is estimated to affect 2-4% of the population, or two to ten million Americans. Kitty's Trich is triggered by anxiety. If she gets anxious or upset about something she will go into the bathroom, climb on the counter, look at herself in the mirror and deliberately pull the hair out of her scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes.  Her Trich is very deliberate. However, other people with the disorder can't control it and they may not be aware when they pull their hair out.

5. You do a lot of neat projects with your kids, what are a couple of your favorite ones?

When was the last time I did a project with my kids? I used to sit down and do educational activities with them in workbooks, but that was when Kitty and Parrot were still home with me.  I don't have a favorite, because we don't do very many project together any more.  Sometimes I will do a simple science experiment with Parrot, but we haven't done one in months.  When we moved to Chicago I found I had a lot less free time to do fun activities with my kids.  I wish I could share a project. Maybe I am going to have to set aside some free time, or "pull some free time out of my magic jar," so I can do a fun project with my kids.

6. You and I both do a lot of Wordless Wednesday posts, do you have any favorites out of the ones you have posted?

My Evening Elixir is my favorite one.  This is a classic one of Little Bear when he was a baby, Mohawk Baby.

7. I am all about quick and easy meals, with a family of 7, you must have an awesome go-to recipe. Care to share it?

Sorry I don't have a photo, but I can share my favorite recipe when we have a busy evening and I don't have time to cook. Leftovers. We have leftovers on Tuesday and Thursday nights. But, I also use my slow cooker a lot. This is my family's favorite slow cooker recipe and it is very simple.

Talbert Zoo Crock Pot Pork

Ingredients: 1-2lb Pork Roast
1 onion chopped
1 small bag of baby carrots
3-5 medium potatoes peeled and halved
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. of Better Than Bouillon*

1 t. of garlic salt
2 c. of water

Directions: Fill your crock pot or slow cooker with the above ingredients. Cook on low for six hours. Pull everything out of the slow cooker except for the water. Serve and watch your kids and husband enjoy!

*You must use Better than Bouillon and not regular bouillon other wise the pork will be way too salty and too much sodium is bad for you and your kids.

8. I love your Friday Funnies! What is the funniest thing you heard, saw or experienced this week?

I have to share what my husband posted to Facebook. It is a true story, but first a little background. I take three of my kids to this place for mental health appointments out in a neighboring town. They have these fliers in the waiting room about drug and substance abuse and what you should do if you think your teen is abusing drugs.  When I took Monkey to his appointment on Wednesday he grabbed a bunch of these and took them home.  This is what happened that evening:

9. Everyone has a meme or video that makes them laugh out loud, which one does it for you?

My kids always know how to make me laugh. My favorite is the video of Kitty in the Talent show last spring. It is six minutes long so only watch it if you have the time. I know how busy you all are.

Whenever I capture my kids doing something funny on video I post it to YouTube. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don't miss any of the funnies from the Talbert Zoo!

10. Ten Favorites: 

Movie: I have two favorites, "The Princess Bride," and "Forrest Gump."
Book: The Bible
Actor: I don't watch a lot of movies, therefore I don't have a favorite actor.
Song: This is hard because I listen to a lot of music.  Right now it is Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood, but next week it might change.  I listen to country music and have a lot of favorites.

Color: yellow
Shape: I've never had a favorite shape.
Animal: I grew up around cats so I guess I am still a cat person.
Beverage: Coffee and white wine
Dessert: Anything chocolate
Guilty Pleasure: wine and chocolate

What are some of your favorites? Leave your answer in your comment.  This was a lot of fun! Don't forget to visit Echo at themadmommy.com to read her answers to my questions.

Would you like to be my buddy for #AskAwayFriday? E mail me at talbertcascia@yahoo.com and we can arrange it.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - Playtime

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

Little Bear was playing with his Hot Wheels cars and I wanted to freeze time to capture the moment forever. I am not ready for him to grow up!

Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Sometimes I Wonder

I was looking forward to writing something humorous this week, but unfortunately, the kids haven't done anything worth laughing about lately. Maybe this little guy will.

This morning I took in the moment as he played with his Hot Wheels cars. I wanted to freeze time, The closest I came to making that brief time stand still was by snapping a few photos and sharing them on Facebook. He is my baby and I am far from ready to let go.

This weekend had me wondering about many different things, hence the title of this post.  After some tears and a heated discussion last night I was left wondering about my marriage.  Am I being the best wife I can be?  Am I showing my love to Chris in the ways that he expects?  After eleven and half years I am still trying to answer those questions.

This is the only photo I can find of the two of us together without all the kids.

But, this weekend something or someone else, has been weighing on my mind more than Chris and my marriage.  This beautiful girl is turning 18 next month and I wonder if I did a good enough job as her mother.

As this milestone of a birthday quickly approaches and she turns into an adult I wonder if she is really ready for all the responsibilities comes with adulthood.  Have I done all the right things in preparing her for this next chapter in her life? She may be ready, but I don't know if I am.

Chris and I rely on Goose to help us with the kids when we go on dates or run errands. Usually she does a good job babysitting, but this weekend something happened which is causing me to wonder if she is ready for the next stage in life.

On Saturday Chris and I had a date night. I discovered a bunch of unused gift cards in my purse so we decided to spend some of them. Then we went out to dinner.  During dinner, Goose called Chris. She said that Kitty had a headache and she couldn't find the children's ibuprofen.  Before Chris hung up the phone, she found the medicine and administered it to her younger sister.

After dinner we had two more stops planned.  Once we got back into our van after one of our last stops, my phone rang.  Goose was on the line.

"Mom, Kitty threw up right after I gave her the ibuprofen. When I went to check on her Monkey got a hold of the bottle of medicine and took a huge swig."

I could sense the panic in her voice. The only stop Chris and I had left before we went home was grocery shopping.

"What should I do Mom? The boys are acting crazy and they won't sit still."

"Did your sister make a mess or did she get to the bathroom?"

"She made it to the bathroom."

"Can you keep everything together for an hour and a half? Your dad and I just have to get groceries and then we will be on our way home."

"The boys are driving me nuts!"

To make this long story short, we skipped grocery shopping and headed home.

If she can't handle the kids for a couple of hours, what can she handle? My little girl is growing up too quickly and I am not ready.  Goose has been thinking about joining a convent.  She is what we Catholics call, "discerning." Which means that she is thinking about, " taking vows which emphasize the values of prayer, loving service, and simple living in community with others. Consecrated women serve the Church and community in many ways, including: youth ministry, homeless and hungry, battered women, education, health care, family life and parish pastoral ministry." (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Chris and I have known since she was little that Goose has a calling from God. We always thought that she should and would become a nun.  In May she will graduate from high school.  This summer we will meet with the Diocesan Vocation Director and then schedule some visits to local convents. In the meantime all I can do is pray.
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Friday, January 9, 2015

#AskAwayFriday - Traveling with Tamara Like Camera

What is #AskAwayFriday?

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers!

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way. Participating in #AskAwayFriday each week is also a great way to build your blogging community.

Drop by and welcome our fabulous #AAF hosts:

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and Amber from Bold Fit Mom

This week I a honored to be partnered with the lovely Tamara from Tamara Like Camera.


She is a very talented blogger, writer and photographer.  Tamara is also the mother of two adorable little kids. I have been following her blog for about a year now and have gotten to know her better. I now consider her one of my closest online friends.  Please drop on over to tamaracamerablog.com to read her answers to my questions.

Tamara is leaving for a family vacation to Florida this month, so we chose travel themed questions. No I am not really travelling with Tamara, but that might be fun! Below are my answers to her questions.

1. How many of the 50 states have you visited? (I think driving through counts but not flying over). If you haven't been to all 50, which is the state you most want to visit that you've never visited? Why?

How many states have I visited? Or, driven through and stopped at gas stations or restaurants in? Those would be two different answers.  Let's see...I am going to have to go through the list of the 50 states and they would have to be in alphabetical order too...you know the 50 States that Rhyme song. If you are not familiar with that song watch this video of Parrot singing it when he was three.

Here goes!

Alabama - Yes I have been there and have visited that state too! My mom's cousin used to live in Alabama and we visited him when I was a kid.

Alaska- I've never been to Alaska. But Chris has. Alaska was part of his territory when we lived out in Washington State. He had to travel up there in November. Chris said that Alaska is beautiful but he wouldn't recommend visiting that state in November. It was pretty cold. I would love to travel to Alaska, someday. Maybe I'd go up there in August. I've heard that the summers there are beautiful.

Arizona - Yes my whole family traveled to Arizona last year. You can read all about our family vacation to Arizona here, here, here, here, here, and here . If you need to escape the cold, I highly recommend packing up your family and driving to Arizona. We had a great time.

Arkansas - Never been there and I don't have any plans in the near future to visit that state.

California - I have visited that state and lived there for 2 and a half very long years. It's a beautiful state to visit, but the culture out there and their liberal government is not for me. My in-laws live in Sacramento so we visit them once a year.

Colorado - Does the Denver airport count? If not, then no. I haven't visited Colorado. I've been to the Denver airport and I think we drove through Colorado when we visited California.

Connecticut - No. I haven't been to very many states on the east coast and am unsure if I want to visit any of them. Maybe, for the early American colonial history, I would.

Delaware - Same as Connecticut. No.

Florida - Yes, many, many times. When I was growing up out in Wisconsin, we drove down to Florida every spring break. It is my favorite state to visit. I am super excited about taking all five of my kids down there for the first time over spring break in March.

Georgia - Only if you count the many, many times we drove through that state on our way to Florida when I was a kid. But we only stopped for gasoline, potty breaks and food.

Hawaii - I have never been to Hawaii. I would love to visit Hawaii, but I am terrified of flying over the ocean, so I would need xanax or something similar to knock me out on the flight.

Idaho - Idaho. Yes I am very familiar with the beautiful northwestern state that fills our bellies with potatoes. We lived in Spokane, Washington for four years which is just a hop, skip and jump from Idaho. We went there several times.  In fact we have some good friends that live in Coeur d'Alene Idaho which is in the northern part of the state.

Illinois - We live in Illinois. Need I say more?

Indiana - Yes. My brother went to a small seminary in Indiana. Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Saint Meinrad Indiana which is southern Indiana. Indiana is a very beautiful state.

Iowa - I think we've driven through there a few times. I can't say I've actually visited Iowa.

Kansas - Same as Iowa.

Kentucky - Same as Kansas and Iowa.

Louisiana - I have never been to Louisiana. I would love to visit new Orleans someday. Mardi gras anyone? Or as we Catholics call it, Fat Tuesday. I'd be there to celebrate Mardi gras in New Orleans in a heart beat.

Maine - Isn't that part of Canada? Eh? No I've never been up to Maine. But I've heard it's beautiful.

Maryland - That's another one of those east coast states, right? No I've never been there either. But I'd love to tour Washington D.C. That's part of Maryland, right?

Massachusetts - Another east coast state that I have never visited.

Michigan - Yes I have been to Michigan several times. My mother grew up in a small town in the upper peninsula of Michigan (the U.P.). When I was a kid we would visit my grandmother up there every summer. I think I've been to the lower part of Michigan a couple of times too. But if you visit Michigan I recommend that you go to the U.P. in the summer. It is beautiful up there.

Minnesota - I've driven through there and have visited the Mall of America. If you travel to Minnesota in the winter go to the Mall of America. Winters in Minnesota are frigid. If you travel to Minnesota in the summer go to the Mall of America, unless you don't mind getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Mississippi - M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. I had to make sure I have the spelling correct. No I have never traveled to Mississippi. I've been to the Mississippi River, though. But that was in Wisconsin so I guess it doesn't count.

Missouri - I've been up in the Arch in St. Louis. What a view! Yes I have been to Missouri.

Montana - We've driven through there several times.

Nebraska - We've driven through Nebraska.

Number 28's Nevada - Yes! Good Old, Nevada. Chris and I travel to Las Vegas every summer.

I'm only on 28? I better make this go a little faster.

New Hampshire - No.
New Jersey - Yes, (Band trip to NYC in high school.)
New Mexico - Yes.
New York - Yes. (Band trip)
North Carolina - No.
North Dakota - Driven through there.
Ohio -Yes. My brother used to live in Cincinnati.
Oklahoma - No.
Oregon - Yes, ( we lived in neighboring Washington).
Pennsylvania - Driven through there (Band trip.)
Rhode Island - No.
South Carolina - No.
Tennessee - Yes. I love Nashville and country music. I can't wait to go back for the country music festival this summer.
Texas - No.
Utah - Yes. The big Mormon cathedral is beautiful (from the outside we didn't go in) in Salt Lake City. They also have a cool mall there too.
Vermont - No.
Virginia - No.
Washington - Yes. We lived there for four years.
West Virginia - No.
Could Wisconsin be the last one? I lived there for the first 29 years of my life. I still call Wisconsin my home and home state. We live just a short hour drive from the state line. My parents, 2 brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family live up in Wisconsin.
Wyoming is the last state in the 50 states that rhyme. I've driven through Wyoming.

I'll try to make my other answers a little shorter.

2. How many other countries have you visited? What three countries would you most like to visit? Why?

Hmm, I don't think I know a song... wait I do..

Here's Parrot again.

But I don't think I am going to go through every single country like I did the states. I'd be up writing all night long and I might forget to feed the kids. Here's my short answer. I traveled to Mexico when I was a kid. I think I was four. And I saw Canada from the other side of Niagara Falls when I was in high school. If you guessed "band trip," you are correct.

Three countries that I would most likely visit? I am half Italian so I would love to travel to Italy. My sister got married in Florence, but I couldn't afford the trip so I didn't attend. My parents have been to Italy a few times. But again I would need xanax. I'd also love to go to the Caribbean, maybe Jamaica. A third? I have no idea. Somewhere warm. Can I say that? Or maybe Australia. I've heard Australia is beautiful. I think my parents have been there.

3. Would you rather have a house on the ocean, or a beautiful cabin in the mountains? (I personally waver on this)

That is a tough one, Tamara.  I loved seeing the mountains from my bedroom window out in Spokane. But I love the beach. I wouldn't want to live on the beach, though because I'd be too terrified of hurricanes. And winters up in the mountains are awful. Can I say neither?? The mountains and the beach are both great places to visit but I wouldn't want to live in either place.

4. What's your dream trip to take with the whole family?

Disney. The kids love Disney. What kid doesn't? We've been to Disney Land, but that was before Little Bear was born. In fact I was pregnant with him. We went to Disney World once too, but that was when we just had the girls. I think I was pregnant with Parrot on that trip. I would love to go to a Disney park without being pregnant.

5. What about just with your husband?

Chris loves to walk around and look at things. So we go to Vegas together every summer. We end up walking along the strip about four or five miles a day.  He loves it. I just enjoy his company. I'd rather go for a run than go on long walks. But it is nice to see the shows at the casinos. My dream vacation with my husband would be to a warm beach somewhere either the Caribbean or Mexico.  He doesn't like to relax on the beach as much as I do. I also love swimming pool bars.

6. What's a really memorable vacation you've had, and what made it so?

My most memorable vacation would be our trip to Arizona last year. We did a lot on that vacation. We visited some historical sites in Phoenix, walked in a desert garden, saw some amazing sand dunes, swam in the pool, and visited the Grand Canyon.  I think my kids are going to remember that vacation for a long time.

7. Where did you spend your last vacation? What did you do?

Arizona. See above.

8. When you were a child, did your family take trips? Would you always go to the same place or different places?

Yes. We visited my grandmother up in Michigan every summer. We went to Florida every spring break. And when I was really young we packed the whole family including my grandmother into our full sized van and drove from Wisconsin to California. We even stopped in Mexico. We usually visited the same places except for our trip west.

9. Describe the worst trip you ever took. Where did you go? What made it a bad trip?

I think the worst trip was one of our vacations to Florida when I was about fourteen. I was sick with tonsillitis the whole time and wasn't able to enjoy myself.  A couple of months later I got my tonsils out.

10. Would you like to take a cruise? Why or why not?

No. I think I've seen Titanic too many times.

Would you like to be my buddy for a future Ask Away Friday? E mail me at talbertcascia@yahoo.com and we can arrange it!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Diagnosis

I have been thinking about writing this for some time now. If you are a frequent visitor of this blog you would have noticed that I added a new special needs awareness banner and a link to all my posts labeled ADHD.  Now you know what "the diagnosis," means.

Chris and I have been speculating for a few years now whether or not our little Monkey has ADHD. Shortly before Christmas when I took Monkey to his appointment at the Pioneer Center this speculation was confirmed to be true.  The therapist that evaluated him stated that he is a text book example of ADHD.

ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Children (and adults) with ADHD often fail to give close attention to details or they make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities. For example, when Monkey is working on a long assignment or test he gives up trying his best about half way through. Instead he just wants to be done with it, which results in sloppy answers. At home, I have to remind him a dozen times to complete a simple task like dressing himself in the morning. When we rush to get ready for school I always have to dress him myself.

When Monkey was little we thought that maybe he had a hearing problem. He doesn't always respond when spoken too. But after having his hearing checked we learned that this wasn't the case. Kids with ADHD have difficulty in regulating their attention. They may focus their attention on an enjoyable activity instead of listening to the person speaking to him or her.

People with ADHD are also very hyperactive and impulsive.  This is the one trait that Monkey has the most problems controlling. When we are walking through a busy parking lot I have to remind him to stay at my side. If I don't he will dart around the lot and run in between the parked cars.  At home, he will attack his siblings or tackle them when they are sitting still without warning. Monkey's teacher has also observed this impulsive behavior at school.  When they are sitting down on the carpet for circle time, Monkey can not stay in his spot. His teacher has him sit in a chair instead and that helps him pay better attention and keep still.

Chris and I are relieved that this is now official, but we are still waiting for him to get the help that he needs.  I am not in favor of medicating my five-year-old, but this is the most common way ADHD is treated.  I need to do more research on the medications available and their side effects to treat kids with ADHD before we decide to take that route. Monkey has an appointment with a psychiatrist in February and I will respect her recommendations for treatment.

Do you know someone with ADHD?
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

#WordlessWednesday with #linky on a Tuesday - Little Bear's New Hat

Wordless Wednesday is live on thehealthymoms.net and talbertzoo.com. Link up to your Wordless Wednesday post.

At the parish pot luck on Sunday evening Little Bear found a new hat.

What creative things have your kids done?

Rules of this #BlogHop

  • Place my button on your blog so I know that you are linking up here.
  • Add your Wordless Wednesday Link
  • Leave me a comment so I can visit your blog.
  • Visit the other blogs linking up.
Wordless Wednesday

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Friday, January 2, 2015

#AskAwayFriday - Some Randomness About Me

What is #AskAwayFriday?

#AskAwayFriday was created by the amazing Penny from Real Housewife of Caroline County, as a way to connect with other bloggers with a great Q & A session of 10 questions and 10 answers, between two bloggers!

This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know others while allowing others to get to know you and of course there is also the added bonus of making great friends along the way. Participating in #AskAwayFriday each week is also a great way to build your blogging community.

Drop by and welcome our fabulous #AAF hosts:

Tamara from Tamara Like Camera,
Tiffany from Mrs. Tee Love Life Laughter,
Christy from Uplifting Families,
Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings
and Amber from Bold Fit Mom

For the New Year I decided I needed to start participating in #AAF. For my first Ask Away Friday post I partnered with April Grant from 100lb Countdown where she blogs about her life as a mother, wife and healthy living.  We both blog about health and fitness so I am looking forward to getting to know April better. To read her answers to my questions visit 100lbcountdown.com.

Below are my questions from April.

About your children/life...

1. I have three children, and I see you have five. What's the difference between having three and five children? I already feel overwhelmed and outnumbered by them. What are the pros and cons of having more?

Talbert Kids
I barely remember what life was like when I only had three children.  I remember having more time to myself then. But, I love having five and wouldn't change it for the world. With just three children you have the oldest child who is typically a leader and role model for the younger ones. Then you have the middle child or the peace maker. Then you have the youngest or the baby.  When I just had three kids my oldest was 12 then the other two were 2 and 3. Because there is an eight year gap between my daughters it is almost like I have two separate families. Back when there were only three I felt like I had a tween and twin babies. They didn't really fit into the typical three sibling roles.

When child number 4 came along I thought my family was complete. I had two of each and thought that if I had more I would be too overwhelmed.  At that time my oldest was 12 and began to learn how to help me take care of the little ones.  Parenting became a little easier for me with her help.

When my fourth child was 10 months old I found out I was pregnant with number 5.  I didn't think that I was going to have five children, but I trusted in God and knew that is what He wanted. I also remembered what life was like growing up in a family with five kids and knew that I could handle it.

Now that my youngest is four we are accustomed to helping each other out.  They all understand that they have responsibilities and Mom can not do everything for them.  All five are responsible for keeping their rooms clean. The boys have to pick up all their toys. My oldest who is seventeen now helps me take care of the younger ones when her father is out of town. She also helps with the dishes when she doesn't have school.  We work together as a family team.  My kids also know that if they do not take care of their chores for the day they will not get electronics. In this digital age every kid has a tablet or computer. That is their motivation to cooperate and help out.

I love my large family and wouldn't change anything for the world. The pros of having a large family are that you have more helpers around.  My kids love to help in the kitchen and with some household chores.  They are also so different and unique. There is never a dull moment in the Talbert Zoo. They know how to spontaneously entertain Chris and I. I never know what to expect.

I guess the only cons are that children are expensive. When you have a new baby your expenses go up. Then when they get older and they all want to participate in extra curricular activities you need to miraculously find extra money for that too. My kids are all at the ages where they want to do things outside of school. But when I think about what they want to do all I see are dollar signs and wonder when I will win the lottery so I can make them happy.

2. What's your typical day like? 

It's crazy. Can I end that there? Probably not.

Me and Monkey
My weekend are very different than my weekdays so I will describe a typical week day. On Mondays and Fridays Chris works in his office which is about an hour drive in rush hour traffic from where we live. But he is out of town on Tuesdays-Thursdays every single week.

In the morning I am usually woken up before six by my two youngest sons, ages 4 and 5. They share a bedroom and whomever wakes first always wakes the other one. Then the noise begins. They don't know how to be quiet. I am hoping it is just a phase. I make my way downstairs by 6:30 and my kids know they can not bother Mom until after she has her coffee.

At 7am I begin the mad rush to get my three elementary school aged kids ready for school. My oldest walks to school and she leaves shortly before 7. I make their lunches because we can not afford school lunch for all the kids. Then I help my little boy with ADHD get dressed for the day and line up all their back packs, jackets and lunches by the door.

We head to school 8:20, school starts at 8:30. My favorite part of the day is when I get home from dropping the kids off and I just have my youngest with me.

Me and Little Bear

My mornings are spent either going on a walk with him when the weather is nice, or working out for 20 minutes. On the weekends I go for a run in the mornings (except this is now on hold because I recently fell down the stairs and bruised my tailbone). Then, I shower and get a bite to eat. Throughout the day I do housework, work on my three websites, talbertzoo.com, thehealthymoms.net and healthymoms-social.com and work on my book.

Little Bear takes a nap at 1pm and that is when I usually read and comment on blogs. At 2:30 I leave to pick the kids up from school. School lets out at 3:30, but in order to avoid having to park in the street parents have to arrive at least an hour early. Bear and I sit in the van and I read or play puzzle games on my Fire tablet. Bear plays preschool games on Parrots Kindle HD while we wait for the kids to get out.

When the kids get home I make them sit at the dining room table to do their homework before they can have their electronics. Kitty (age 8) practices her guitar for 20 minutes as well as doing her homework. We don't have a lot on Monday nights. I get dinner on the table by 5pm and Chris gets home at 6. Family dinner is very important to us. We sit and talk about our day and I ask the kids one by one how school was, what they learned and who they played with on the playground at recess.

Chris leaves to travel before everyone wakes on Tuesday mornings. After school Monkey, Kitty and Parrot have religious education at our church at 4:30. I stay there to help Parrot (age 7) because he has autism and needs the extra attention. Religious education ends at 6pm. Tuesdays are leftover nights so dinner is a breeze.

On Wednesday nights Kitty has youth choir at church and Goose (age 17) and I are in the adult choir. I play the flute and Goose sings. Youth choir is at 6 and adult choir is at 7. I make sure I have dinner on the table by 5pm. Goose helps clean up after dinner while I run Kitty to youth choir.

On Thursdays Kitty has her Little Flowers Girls club meetings at church after school. Thursdays are also leftover nights. Chris gets home when everyone is in bed on Thursday nights.

We don't have any extra curricular activities on Fridays. I usually serve fish for dinner on Friday nights, especially during Lent. We are catholic so we abstain from red meat on Fridays during Lent. We sit down for dinner at our usual time of 5pm and Chris gets home from work at 6.

Usually my kids start getting ready for bed at 6:30. With four little ones, bed time is a long process. They get their pajamas on, brush their teeth, and read stories. At seven we let them watch special children's shows on our Fire TV. We are Amazon prime members so we are able to stream thousands of titles to our television. Bed time is 8pm.

Once the kids are in bed I have a glass of wine and fire up the television and my computer. If there isn't anything good on TV then I watch Fox News. Sometimes I will stream music on my Fire TV instead of watching television. I also spend this time reading and commenting on blogs.

I go to bed at 10pm. Sorry this was so long!

3. Tell us... what are the best traits that your children get from you... and your worst?

Goose isn't like me at all. She is a lot like her biological father.  The boys love to entertain and be the center of attention like myself. Monkey is a lot like Chris. Raising Kitty is just like I am raising myself at her age. She is so much like me in a way it is scary. But at the same time I love it.  She is strong willed, independent, musically inclined, loves to entertain and be the center of attention and is a natural born leader.  All of those traits are just like me. I think they are all good traits although, she has gotten in trouble for being too independent.

About Healthy Moms Blog Magazine...

4. What made you decide to start an online magazine?

At the beginning in 2007 it was just a little blogspot blog. My intentions was to just keep it a blog with helpful information on parenting and healthy living. Then it was just called "Healthy Moms." After a year of blogging I started getting offers from advertisers, mostly to review products and I got a little ad revenue as well. 2008 was a good year for my blog until I nearly got sued.

I received a letter from an attorney which stated that "Healthy Moms," was trademarked and I had to change my blog's name because the lady who had that term trademarked stated that her clients were getting confused. By summer of 2008 if you did a google search for the term "Healthy Moms," my site was number one. Apparently she didn't like that. I had to get advice from an attorney myself in order to get out of the hot water I got myself into.  So, I re branded my site and turned it into an online magazine.

I am very proud of my humble beginnings with that site and how it has grown today. If you want to learn more about why I started the Healthy Moms Magazine you can visit my about page.

5. What type advice do you find most moms want on Healthy Moms Blog Magazine?

Moms are looking for positive parenting solutions, how to have a healthier pregnancy, how to lose the baby weight (especially their mommy belly), and how to find more time to take care of themselves or "me time." The articles on those topics seem to be the most popular.

6. What do you find is the major difference for providing advice to moms versus other women?

For one thing, if you don't have kids you do not know what it is like to be the care giver. The only person you take care of is yourself. Moms want to know how to take better care of their whole family, not just themselves.  A plain old women's health magazine would not discuss what to do if you think your child has allergies or how to connect with your husband during pregnancy. As the matriarch of our families, us moms care about a wide variety of issues. Children change our lives.

About you...

7. What's your biggest health struggle?

Believe it or not I have quite a few health struggles. I suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia. I take medication for my insomnia. But, I would say the biggest health struggle for me is making time to take care of myself. I blog about "me time for busy moms," on The Healthy Moms Magazine a lot, but that is still a struggle for me. Back in 2010, I learned the hard way that I wasn't setting aside enough time for myself. A couple of days after Thanksgiving I got really sick and ended up in the hospital. I had severe stomach pains and my liver enzymes were uncontrollably high. After several tests and nearly a week in the hospital doctors determined that I had a virus that was attacking my liver. Today, I take supplements to help keep my liver healthy. I also can't take acetaminophen (Tylenol) and I shouldn't drink but with five children I can't give up my wine.

8. What are your health goals for 2015?

My health goals got put on hold when I fell down the stairs a couple of days ago. After my tailbone heals, which should be in about a month, then I am going to get up early every morning and go for a run before Goose leaves for school, as long as the temperatures are above 20 degrees. Chicago winters can be brutal.

Just for fun...

9. Where would you like to go on a dream vacation?

I would love to go to a warm beach, just about anywhere. Maybe the Bahamas or Jamaica. I heard that Jamaica is beautiful. I don't like winter or cold temperatures so I'd like to be anywhere warm, without the kids.

10. Describe your dream home... including location, size and layout!

This may surprise you but my dream home would be right here in Crystal Lake, Illinois. We have moved three times since Chris and I got married and we've finally found a community where we feel at home and want to stay to raise our kids. The house would have to be within walking distance from my kids' school so I don't have to leave so darn early in order to get a parking spot to pick them up.  Currently we rent and would love to be home owners again soon. I've been looking at houses on zillow in the neighborhood that we would like to move to. The ones that I absolutely love are two stories with finished basements and a decent size back yard.  Because there are seven of us and I don't know if Goose is going to move out any time soon, we would need a five bedroom home.  Chris loves to cook and we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I would love for our next home to have a large kitchen with updated appliances, an island and plenty of storage space for food and all of Chris' kitchen gadgets.  Right now most of our kitchen appliances and dishes are in the garage.

I hope my post wasn't too lengthy for you! I understand if you didn't read all of my answers completely. If you are participating in #AAF this week please leave your link below so I can visit you!

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