I’m Fine… Really

So, I haven’t written in ages. Not really. There’s been too much in my life that I can’t share online for reasons of legal nature, personal nature, or just because all sharing does is invite questions I can’t answer for those aforementioned reasons. Sometimes it’s self-defense, and sometimes it’s “to protect the innocent.” Hence the ending of my “Laughing at the Moon” blog several years ago.

But, because people have actually expressed that they miss reading my writing, and because I’m often asked, yes, I’m fine. Really, I am. Life’s been rough and there have been a lot of major life changes over the past year alone, but mostly, life is good. So here is what I can and will tell you – and feel free to ask questions, but know that I may or may not be able to answer them:

We’re moving. We are very excited about it. The where and why has nothing at all to do with you, the reader of this musing. Unless I have specifically verbalized that it has something to do with you, it doesn’t. There are exactly 8 people that this move has anything at all to do with. And unless you are one of those 8 who will be living in the new house, you can rest assured that we are not running away from you, avoiding you, or otherwise allowing you to impact this decision to move. We’re moving because we feel that this is what is best for us and our family at this time in our lives. There has been much prayer, much contemplation, and much discussion with people we trust to counsel us in this decision. We are aware of the challenges we may be facing here, and we’ve chosen to embrace them for the greater good.

I struggle with my inner demons. I have been extremely close to losing people I love desperately over the past year to accidents and/or their own emotional struggles. I’ve been fighting physical illness as well as emotional illness in my own life, as well as in the lives of many people I love. And frankly, I’m exhausted. A simple cold virus has had me down for the better part of the past month. And prior to that, migraines and other nasty side effects, triggered by hormonal imbalances that I have been trying (and thus far failing) to correct through med changes. I’ve changed meds at least once a month for the past 6-8 months, and I’m not done. And, frankly, the hell that med changes put one’s body and emotions through is not for the weak of heart.

My daughter is also looking for the right meds – and therapy – for several conditions that she is dealing with. I love my daughter – adore her even. Most days, however, she is a trigger to my own disorders and feelings of inadequacy. And most days I’ve run an emotional marathon with her before she is even on the bus at 7:40am. And then… I have to start my day. And some days, I just don’t have it left in me to do that.

As a result, I struggle with social events. I want desperately to go out and do something and be with people. I don’t, however, feel “safe” in large groups. Even if it’s people I know and love. I don’t have the emotional energy most of the time (or often the physical energy) to care for myself in large groups. Often, I even struggle to hang out with people one-on-one if I feel the least bit as if I’m being “evaluated on my performance” or assigned motivations for the things I do and say. In other words, I have to feel utterly safe with you, knowing you care deeply about me and my people, respect my personal limitations and boundaries, and accept me for who I am, whether you agree or not with who that person is.

I won’t remember the “last time” we were together. I’ll remember the phenomenal times – whether they are negatively so or positively so. As someone with a bipolar disorder, there are no real in-betweens. And that’s not something I know how to explain. I’m not trying to leave you out of anything… I’m just trying to survive the day, same as most people I know.


– Nean

I’m a Meanie-Pants


I’m a meanie-pants. Just ask my daughter. She’ll be more than happy to tell you what a bad mom I am, and how much she hates me. Really. You’d think she was fifteen instead of five some days.

We were driving home last night from an evening with friends. It was a long drive and about an hour or so after her bedtime. We asked her to try to close her eyes and try to go to sleep. It had been a long day and she hadn’t slept well the previous night. (I believe that’s what experts refer to as “grumpy-pants.”)

This simple request was followed by nearly an hour of screaming:

“I’m getting OUT of this family! I’m going out in the dark to walk and walk and find a NEW family. I know you will miss me, but I am NEVER coming back. EVER!”

Even when we got home and put her to bed, she continued her tirade after I told her she might want to sleep in her nice warm bed first, before she went out walking in the cold looking for a family:

“I’m NEVER going to sleep. And I’m NOT going to play with you again!”

She did, of course, eventually go to sleep, and was already asking me to play with her this morning and begging to snuggle. So I guess she slept some of it off or maybe just forgot who I am?

I confess she’s right though; I am a meanie-pants. I expect my daughter to get enough rest, eat food to stay healthy, and to play nicely with others. And apparently that makes me the biggest meanie-pants in the world. I think that might also make me a good mom (despite her vociferous objections), and I think if “meanie-pants” equals “good mom” then I’m okay with that.

All things considered, I hope to always be the best meanie-pants I can be for my daughter. She’s kinda stuck with this family anyway. The judge said so.


A Snapshot from a Sitcom

Sometimes my life is a sitcom and all the laughs are at my expense.

Episode: Morning Mayhem
Scene: Photographer

*scene opens on mom in kitchen cleaning up the entire sippy of milk that the toddler has dumped intentionally all over the counter, her chair, and the floor; we hear kids from the living room, playing with a film-less camera*

Dante: Say cheese, Zoe!

Zoe: *makes a sound that puts a banshee to shame*

Mom: WHAT is going on out there?!?

Dante: *shoving camera in his sister’s hands as mom walks into the room* I just wanted to take her picture.

Mom: Did you take it from her?

Dante: What?

Mom: Did you take the camera from her?

Dante: What?

Mom: *gives the icy mom-stare*

Dante: *looks at floor to avoid mom’s glare* …no…

Mom: *frustrated sigh* Go next-door and see if Nana & Paw-Paw are awake!

Dante: C’mon, Zoe!

Mom: NO! Just you.

*Scene ends as Dante runs out back door and Zoe toddles after him. Mom is left listening to the door slam and the click/whir of the camera as the flash lights the kitchen.*

Zoe: *from outside* A cheeeese … Dante!

*cue laugh track*

Bye-Bye Windstream!

Friday was Jeff’s last day as a Windstream Employee. After working for D&E Communications for 9 years, Windstream gave him the boot. So…

We gave Windstream the boot and replaced them with Google. We said goodbye to our landline and to our Dejazzd/Windsteam email accounts. If you have either of those still in your phone directories or address books, you might wanna take ’em out. We have a Google Voice number now and we’ll keep our Gmail accounts.

Oh… and as soon as we can get our computers and our new modem to play nice with each other and stop pretending the other doesn’t exist, we’ll be back online. Then you can still find us on this and our other blogs, Facebook, Gtalk, AIM, Twitter, and a couple other online venues.

Until then, we’re on cell phone only communication. Fun. As the kids say, “Text it.” (God, I feel old!)

Happy New Year!

We used to have a tradition where we’d get together with our college friends every New Year’s Eve. We were the official hosts with the standing invitation that our house was always open from noon on the 31st to noon on the first, meaning we could stay up as late as we wanted and crash as necessary, ensuring the end and the beginning of each year were shared among friends. We ate, we talked, we laughed, we played Mafia, and we reminisced about previous years. It was always a blast and the one time we were guaranteed to connect after we’d gone our separate ways post-college.

Time has a way of changing things, ironically, given that our celebrations were all about the passing of time. Our families grew which made the house shrink, even when less and less of our friends were able to make it each year. With small children and all of us getting older, all nighters started to become out of the question. And, as more and more of us moved further and further away, New Year’s Eve became an increasingly impractical way of holding a reunion. We had to switch our focus from our past adventures to our growing families.

We miss these gatherings, but it also allows us the opportunity to form new traditions. This year, we’ll celebrate in a more quiet fashion (I hope) with some friends from church, while the kids have a special night with Nana & Paw-Paw.

One of our newest traditions, which I’m not exactly happy about, seems to be a sick child. In the past several years, we seem to have either ended the year or begun the year (or both) with severe colds in one or both of the children. We’ve even had a run to the ER a few years ago for a fever over 106. This year appears to be no different, as Zoë is now coughing like a seal and running a fever of 104.

Some traditions are meant to die, and I’m hoping this one goes the way of the college gathering. In the meantime, here’s wishing all of you a safe and happy new year, filled with love, peace, and joy!

Yes, Dante, there is a Santa Claus

So… Last night hubby and I had this “inspiration” to let the kids “wait up for Santa.” I’d like to go on record as saying, “If either of us mention this to you as an option for next year, direct us to this post.” This was a monumentally BAD idea. Here’s a brief rundown of the past 12-24 hours:

  • Kids spent the evening “being worn out” by Memaw, Poppy, and “Mac” (as is Uncle Matt’s new name thanks to Zoë) while hubby and I went to work tech for the Christmas Eve service at church.
  • Kids opened new pjs and then laid out sleeping bags and got ready to camp out in the living room.
  • The consumption of cookies, burnt popcorn (that isn’t some weird tradition, we just weren’t paying attention), and warm milk (in the hopes that the kiddos would fall asleep) happened while we were attempting to put together brunch items for the morning.
  • www.noradsanta.org kept us updated on Santa’s whereabouts while watching Charlie Brown Christmas.
  • Somewhere around the middle of “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street,” a meltdown required us to take Zoë to her bed, where she fussed off and on for the rest of the night.
  • By 10:30 or 11:00, Dante was still wide awake, so we popped in “Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays” at his request, thinking he’d have to fall asleep during that. Mommy did. Dante kept waking her up so she wouldn’t miss Santa.
  • About midnight, we finally convinced Dante that Santa wouldn’t come if he wasn’t sleeping, and that we’d wake him if we caught Santa.
  • “Santa” finally arrived after midnight, ate the cookies & drank the soy milk we’d set out, fed his reindeer the carrots, filled stockings, left presents under the tree & a note for the sleeping kids, and collapsed for the night.
  • Zoë fussed several times through the remainder of the night, allowing us a sum total of an hour or so of uninterrupted sleep at any point through the night.
  • Dante woke around 5:30/6:00 a.m. and spent the next hour and a half asking every 10 minutes if it was time to open presents while his sister blissfully slept until 8:00.
  • Opening presents with a cranky toddler is not fun. She spent most of her time dissolving into a pool of tears or wandering around the room lost. Poor girl had no clue what was going on.
  • “Uncle Mike & Aunt Ami” arrived for brunch, more gifts, and general relaxation.
    Both kids are now resting quietly in their beds, allowing the grown-ups to enjoy some “peace on earth,” naptime, and playing with new toys!

Next year, we’ll rethink the Christmas Eve plan. It was a fun experiment, but I think it was a bit much for kids as young as ours. The good thing is, our son still believes in Santa and the magic of the holiday!

Here’s wishing all of you a day of rest and relaxation!

The Obligatory Family Christmas Letter

2009 has come to an end (or nearly so), and it’s been a rough and busy year for the Burkholder family. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and grown stronger as a family. We’ve also come to appreciate the many blessings that God showers on us in the way of friends and family. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Jeff’s job at D&E Communications (henceforth known as Windstream) is ending as of January 8, so he will be looking for a new job. He will continue working as tech guy at Hosanna! part-time, but welcomes any suggestions or job leads you may have in the “full-time” realm. He’s also greatly enjoying his online creative outlets and publishing pursuits in the areas of short story collaborations (www.gloaminggap.com) and his comic strips (www.zoidland.com).

Nean’s got her hands full being a full-time mommy. She’s had a rough year emotionally, but is on the upswing thanks to new medication and the incredible support of family and friends. She spends a lot of time making jewelry and writing stories and poetry (http://nean-laughingatthemoon.blogspot.com).

Siblings (taken by Krista Pelletier)

Dante has started Kindergarten and continues to amaze us with the things he learns both in school and from reading every book he can get his hands on. He’s recently gotten into Peanuts comic strips and even went trick-or-treating as Linus this year. He has decided that he wants to be an eye-doctor or an artist, or possibly both when he grows up.

Dante at age 6 (taken by Krista Pelletier)Dante enjoying the snow day!

Zoë has flung herself fully from baby-hood to toddler-hood. She’s developing quite a personality, as well as the vocabulary to match it. She’s a strong-willed little girl who has no fear and keeps us on our toes! She’s busy making everyone laugh or smile in addition to picking on her older brother whom she idolizes.

Zoë at age 2 (taken by Krista Pelletier)Zoë's first experience in the snow!

This is the time of year to send cards to the people you love, but we stopped doing that a few years ago for several reasons:

  1. As environmentally conscious people, we can’t justify sending out a bunch of cards and pictures that most people will just throw away after the holidays are over.
  2. Postage is so expensive and money is tight.
  3. Most of the people we’d send cards to, we either see or talk to regularly already, or they have access to our fairly extensive online presence anyway.
  4. We honestly don’t have the time or energy to do justice to the extent of our love and appreciation for the vast number of people who have become a vital part of our lives.

All that being said (and even though we realize we’re late for some of them), we wish each and every person that we trust, love and cherish in our lives joy and love for your Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Bodhi, Diwali, Eid al-Adha, Decemberween, Festivus, or whatever other holiday you celebrate. We also wish you a year full of hope and beauty in 2010.

More Fall Feasting

Today, we are experimenting. We started with a recipe I found online for Easy, Cheesy Pumpkin Lasagna, added chicken & apple sausage to the pumpkin mixture, and used pumpkin spice noodles that we had purchased a while ago and didn’t know how to use. It’s in the oven at the moment and we’ll let you know how it turns out.

Jeff’s also got a pot of spiced cider in the crock pot:
~1 gallon apple cider
~cranberry juice to taste (usually 1-3 cups)
~two thick slices each of lemon and orange with rind
~four cinnamon sticks
~16 cloves & 16 allspice (he uses a tea ball for easy extraction)

The weather may have decided to turn up the heat, but we’re fighting back. FALL is HERE!

Fall Feasts

I know I haven’t updated here in… well… ages. I’ve been focused on a lot of other things. The family is doing well for the most part but it’s been a taxing year for us. Promise to try to get pics of the kids up here soon, but with Facebook (and how much easier it normally is to post photos there) I don’t even think about posting here.

Tonight, however, I’m posting here because I’ve had several requests for the recipe for “my” Gingersnap Pot Roast (and frankly, Facebook is incredibly temperamental today and I don’t have the patience to deal with it). Technically, this recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens, but I’ve adapted it enough that I can call it mine. 🙂

Gingersnap Pot Roast
(A.K.A. Sauerbraten Made Easy)

Layer in crock pot:

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes or yams (peeled and cut)
  • one bag of “baby” carrots prepared
  • 4 small or medium apples, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 lb chuck roast

Mix together to make gravy and pour over roast:

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 gingersnaps crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours or on high 5-6 hours.

Enjoy. 🙂

The Tonsil-bone’s Connected to the Adenoid-bone…


Monday morning, Dante “gets” to have his tonsils and adenoids taken out. (What the heck is an “adenoid” anyway? It sounds like some sort of curiously strong-flavoured mint…) In addition, the surgeons-that-be are going to putting tubes in his ears. I’m assured that this will not allow him to shoot nerf darts out of his ears if he blows his nose, but I think I shall try it anyway, for the sake of SCIENCE!

Originally, we were told that it would be about 3 or 4 weeks before they would be able to schedule it, but due to a last-minute cancellation: Monday morn, it is.

Wish us (all) luck…