middle school parenting and feeling alone

I reached out to the mother of that kid, you know, the one from last week. It was the best thing I did last week. I am torn between having my middle school boy figure things out on his own and helping him. How do I decide if I am being too much of a mother hen? I was lucky to have a friend prod me along.

This other mother was amazing. We shared our experiences. Talked about the struggles we are having raising strong, dependent, sensitive, kind men. She told me how her kid had been bullied last year and how hard that was for him.We shared our stories and I felt connected to another parent for the first time in a long time. I can’t make your child like mine. I realize that. But if you and I connect, we can guide our kids through the difficult decisions.

I am disconnected with the community of parents that I had in elementary school and I feel alone.Because of that disconnection, it is hard to be vulnerable with all of you and explain to you that my child is hurting. He is having a hard time navigating the world of middle school. The tiers of friends, the groups, the gangs, and the mentality. I worry for him every day. There are scary stats out there about what our kids do when they feel helpless, hopeless and alone.


Beginning of my Bottom

Came to Believe

Came to Believe

Around this time last year my drinking began to spiral out of control. To you on the outside it may not have seemed that way, but I remember sitting on the sofa one evening not even feeling buzzed after I had downed a bottle and a half of wine. It just stopped doing for me what it had done in the past.

As I type this I am getting a shame knot in my stomach. I can’t believe I reached that point. And it still wasn’t my bottom. I needed to go through a few more things, like shivering, sick in my bed with the flu for 2 weeks, but still dying for a drink, but not knowing how to ask someone to make me a drink when I hadn’t even been able to eat. My rushing through cooking soup in a pressure cooker (note the purpose of a pressure cooker is to cook fast) by forcing it open. It in turn exploded all over my abdomen and caused 2nd degree burns.  All of this so that I could sit in front of the TV and drink wine…my favorite escape. I spent Christmas constantly numbed with booze and pain killers from the burn. What would it finally take to reach the bottom? What would finally make me wake up and make the call that could save my life?

One night the husband and I went to pick up our to-go pizza from a local place, we had a couple of glasses of wine (really) and came home. When we got home my brave 10 year old daughter told me I scared her when I drink. She said I acted differently when I drank. I was less patient when I drank. I didn’t pay attention when I drank. My son came out of his room and said that he’d learned about the dangers of alcohol at school and that he wished we wouldn’t drink so much. In that moment, that single moment, I knew it was done for me. I knew I couldn’t do it any longer. I didn’t have the first clue how I was going to stop because I had so often tried to stop or modify my drinking in the past, but I knew I had to stop.

The next morning I sent text messages to the people in my closest circle of influence for accountability and support, most were surprised but some were not. I then called out for help, which I got in ways that I never ever could have imagined even possible. I feel complete today. I am different, there is no denying that.

If you even think you might need help, ask for it. There is a huge support system out there that will help you JUDGEMENT FREE!  I promise you this, “you’ll be amazed before you are half way through.”


My Triggers….Bang Bang

Shh....reprogramming in progress.

Shh….reprogramming in progress.

Before I quit drinking my eye used to twitch all of the time. It was a tiny twitch that no one else could see. I would point to my eye and ask a friend if they could see it and inevitably they couldn’t.

For years I used alcohol and food to mask my frustrations and feelings. I could always get myself into a place where nothing bothered me. Rough day at work? That’s okay, have a bottle of wine. Friend pissed you off? Binge on the popcorn, beer and Homeland, why not, you deserve it. But that little twitch, that was my tell. I didn’t always know right away WHAT I was stressed about, but I would mentally scroll a list of possibilities and once I got to the culprit the twitching would begin.

It is amazing how the mind body connection works. Only rarely now does the twitching flare up. Today is one of those days. This is because I am headed on a weekend of firsts. My first weekend to my parents’ home solo and sober, my first bus trip sober, my first trip where I plan to NOT act on my disordered eating.

There will be a lot of triggers – brown foods and buffets of southern Indiana, sugar cream pie, discussing restaurant options, relishing in the carefree atmosphere of not being a wife or mom for a few days, basking in the “daughterness” of my parents’ home, and sitting in the natural discomforts that come with lifelong relationships that have formed who we are.

I am grateful to have this opportunity. Many of my friends and family no longer have parents to share these experiences.  I have ton of coping tools. Some of which you are seeing here in black and white on the blog. I’m ready. Eye twitch and all.

Day 11 of the Electronic “Fast”

I thought this was going to be harder than it has been.  I am not sure my son would say the same thing.  Last Tuesday evening when my husband and I were out I did receive a text from my son that explained to me that he is not creative and has no imagination to continue NOT playing video games and watching TV.  I completely understand how he felt.  So far though, we are doing pretty well.  Jonah did tell me last night that we only have 19 days left. 

We are making  up the rules as we go along, but I incorrectly categorized our electronic “fast” as a “ban” last week and I wanted to clarify….we haven’t banned anything. 


  • In our house, no television and no video games.  The exception to that rule is on Friday, September 6. 
  • When at someone else’s house, their house rules apply.  If TV is okay, it is fine by me.
  •  Computers are okay as long as it is something creative like writing, photo editing, blogging, etc.
  • Phones are okay for communication purposes.

Lessons Learned

  • Without the electronics, we are eating more meals together at the TABLE.
  • The kids are finding books they enjoy reading.
  • Toys are being rediscovered!
  • We are playing family games.
  • Homework is less of a chore to get finished.  Even the extra credit is done by the end of the day. 
  • The park across the street is their newly discovered favorite place to be.
  • There are things that the parents can do with out TV too.  😉
  • Nothing like a good night sleep for the whole family.  Who said 8:30 is too early to sleep?
  • Samir and I have a tendency to try to go through our family time as quickly as possible to get to the television and “relax.”  Not to mention that “Breaking Bad” is hardly RELAXING!!  This is teaching us to be more mindful while we are together.
  • Need something to do?  Pack your own lunch for tomorrow!



Four Generations

This weekend we headed to Grandma’s house for our first ever, mom and kid sleepover.  The kids had no intertest going to a restaurant as suggested by Grandma, they wanted to cook her dinner and serve it to her as if her kitchen was Chez Grandma’s French Bistro.  Grandma being Grandma agreed this was a fantastic idea.

On the drive to her house, my son asked me if it would be okay if he asked Grandma questions about how she and Grandpa met and what her life was like as a child.  What more could you ask for from your child?  I told him that Grandma would love to talk about Grandpa.  I think people avoid asking questions about loved ones who have passed away to avoid avoid triggering saddnress or loss.  I believe it must be hard for someone like my Grandma to NOT talk about the man who meant everything to her (and still does) for over 70 years.

We had a wonderful time, my Aunt Janet came over to complete the full 4 generations of Ostermeier’s!  My kids were thrilled that Aunt Janet actually LIKES to play games with them and doesn’t mind getting down in the dirt.  For dinner, the kids served mac and cheese, huge deli sandwiches, salad, hummus, and cupcakes that we bought from the cupcake truck.  They ran around the backyard like my sister and I did as kids, we visited my aunt’s house and investigated her back yard, we played some games of Uno, ate sweets (cause as my daughter says, Grandma is the best sweet maker around), Grandma and I continued our effort to trace the lineage of our family tree combining folder after paper folder and logging them in to  It was especially sweet when Aida told Grandma that her middle name is Tongret and that her great grandpa painted a picture just for her.  Grandma chimed in that yes, he sure did.  In actuality the painting was painted by Grandma’s dad, Bland Tongret.  Grandma gave it to Aida when she was born because we chose Tongret as her middle name. 

Grandma made a wonderful breakfast, cinnamon rolls, eggs, cinnamon toast, extra crispy bacon, YUM.  We ended up messing up grandma’s house beyond recognition (sorry).

I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend with my family.  I can’t think of a better way to honor the life of my grandfather.  His spirit and presence is everywhere in that house.   At one point Grandma said, “It is good for the kids to know this place.”  And she is right, this house of Grandmas has been a fixed beacon in my ever moving life.  This house is home, filled with love, love, love. 

Grandma and Aida!

Grandma and Aida!

Sandwich bigger than the plate!

Sandwich bigger than the plate!

menu, restaurant, kid

“restaurant” menu

family viewing photo book

Here Aida shows Grandma and Janet our family photo book. Jonah wants to see too!!

How I spent my lunch break

On my lunch break today I decided to go through a bag of kid clothes that have been making me insane in the laundry room. I found some of Aida’s old clothes that for one reason or another I never gave away. I decided to try to sell this jumper on eBay cause it is a nice, name brand, high fashion item. As I was reading through other people’s listings they made me chuckle. So, I put an honest spin on the post and am personally getting a kick out of it. Check it out and bid away!!!!!


When my son was 6 months old I had to drop him at a near-stranger’s house to watch him while my husband and I went to work.  His little man-faced self was already pushing to stretch is circle of influence.  The daycare provider we chose was recommended to us by some of our closest friends.  These many years later, our families have surpassed a professional relationship and developed a friendship. Her son and mine are soul swore cousins who can’t wait to be in Jr. High together next year.  We revisited that professional relationship for a second last week when I took my nephew to her house,  I handed him over to Christy, much like I had mine.   His little 3 month old self was beginning a journey that my children laid the groundwork for over 10 years ago.  My ever expanding community is amazing.  My sister lives a short walk from me.  There are days I believe my life is exactly how I hoped it would be.

The boys, best friends, or cousins as they tried to convince me when they were younger.

Here they are a little older than before. I believe a 3rd birthday party…

Here they are at 10 and 11. Silly little men.

September Sun

As I walked the Chicago streets to work this morning, I remembered my official move to Chicago.  A Hoosier transplant to Illinois, I found a downtown Chicago job and moved to the western suburbs to live with my grandparents.  I knew nothing about the city except the Sears tower, Cubs baseball, Fields’ holiday windows and other black Friday tourist shops.   To get to work, I would take the Metra  train.  It was an odd commute for me, sharing the double-decker car with briefcase carrying business people.    If it rained, my grandfather would drop me off at the College Avenue station.  Once in the city, I would join the fast walking mob carrying a grandma packed brown bag lunch of pretzels and fat free brownies.

This is a picture of my grandfather and my cousin that has been on my desk since 1996.

There is something about this concrete shimmering late summer sun that takes me back to the days I lived with my grandparents.   Little did I know the tendrils of my life had started to twist and anchor me to the city…much like my grandparents’, sister’s, and husband’s.    A little over a year ago my grandfather passed away.  I think about him every day. But for some reason, on days like today, I feel compelled to talk about him….. his smile, his laugh, his kindness and his strength.  I miss him.