Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas came and went in a flurry.

We hunted Christmas trees.

We decorated to the nines.

We talked about the true meaning of Christmas, although I will admit that most conversations ended with declarations that we needed to make a Happy Birthday cake for Jesus (that we would eat for him of course), but were deeply influenced by the promise of Santa and the bounty of his generosity.

We anticipated and prepared.

And the patience and deference to threats of lists with the names of naughty little girls was heeded, with a mighty pay off in the end.

And in the end, the magic of the holidays was spent with wonder, love and snuggles.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Planting Seeds

I know I am thankful - greatful - for all that I have most every day.
But if I have to choose one thing, my most Thankful thing, it is this:

The snuggles.
They are better than I ever imagined.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Softest of Chew Toys

Clare is a breastfed baby. 100%. I am exceedingly proud of this fact.

Grace was a fight from the start. It took weeks of coaxing and effort to get her to breastfeed. At 5 months old she starting refusing to drink again. I have no idea why I didn't just go the route of pumping and then bottle feeding her. I think I tried and just couldn't produce enough. I know I took that as some sort of misguided failure on my part, so when she wouldn't breastfeed I gave her formula. Honestly though, I think she preferred the formula. At 7 months old, she began rejecting me completely so I gave up the fight.

Clare will be 7 months old next week. A 100% breastfed baby. She will drink expressed milk from bottles, but she prefers me. She took to me instinctively after birth and has never looked back.


From the stories I have heard, my birth was a traumatic one. My mom started hemorrhaging and was rushed to the hospital 5 weeks before her due date. Her c-section scar isn't the traditional hip bone to hip bone, it is belly button to pelvic bone, preformed without anesthesia.

She was unable to even consider breastfeeding me. It was 1978 anyway, so who's to say she would have even if given the choice. I do not question her decision at all. Formula was what was right for her to feed to both my brother and me. I really do believe that. It was my opinion before I ever had kids too. She, on the other hand, questions my decision to breastfeed at every turn.


Tonight, I discovered that Clare has sprouted her first tooth.

(Have I told you what an amazing baby she is? I knew she was teething, I could feel the hard edges behind her gums. But this tooth- I'm not quite sure when exactly it popped though. Not a peep from her, just solid nights of sleep and smiles galore. Business as usual.)

I discovered it because she bit me while nursing. Hard. One little edge of one little tooth, but it did damage. She and I will have to work out a new system. I think it will involve nipple callouses and cold packs on my end, with impish smiles of apology on hers.

When I shared the joyous news of new enamel with my mom though, her response?
...So does this mean you will finally stop breastfeeding or is she going to still be nursing when she is in high school?


I am lucky. I have supportive friends. The daycare teachers are beyond supportive, bordering on insistent. I work in a supportive environment. While many are surprised at my ability to keep a full time job and supply enough food for an ever increasing appetite, nobody seems to blink at the notion of my mammary glads fulfilling their intended purpose.

Nobody, except my own mother.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hi, It's me.

So, I've once again been neglecting this blog.

This post? Well, I got my wish. It became permanent on my return to work after maternity leave. If you don't consider the 10 weeks that I took for maternity leave, I'll have been in that position for a year in 3 more weeks.

The downside? As a permanent position, it is a TON more work than I expected. I went from someone who checked her watch every 15 minutes, starting within an hour of arrivial, to someone who has on occasion just plain old forgotten to eat lunch all together. Hence, why there has been a lot less words floating around in this space lately.

The upside is great though. It's finally a position where I feel valuable. Where I feel needed. I spend my days coding web postings and fixing fixable problems and giving my opinoins and making sure 130 ducks are staying in their rows.

So please stay with me. I will be spurratic; spitting out words here only when I can no longer stand to keep them in my head, but I think about this site all the time. I write posts in my head or 1/3 of the way on my iphone while tucked into the back corner of a meeting, but they never seem to materialize here.

So much is happening, so fast in our lives. Grace is 3 and Clare is 6 months. They change everyday and I NEED to check in here more often, so I don't forget what was. That is the point of Make Time For Love anyway, right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Two and a half weeks have flown by since we lost Lil’ Rick.

Matt picked up his ashes from the vet yesterday. I guess they will mingle with my good crystal until spring rolls back around and we can give him a proper burial. Returned to the earth under rose bushes dedicated in his name.

He was such a part of our routine. The first few nights I kept calling him, annoyed that he didn’t answer.
‘Come on dude, it’s time to go out. I want to go to bed!’
I’d go to grab a cookie, to shake the glass lid that housed them to rouse him from slumber upstairs, and the jar would be gone from the counter top. I’d freeze, futilely fighting the burn at the back of my throat. He’s not coming downstairs because he is no longer here.

We were grateful that Grace really didn’t ask questions about Rick’s where-a-bouts. She would mention him in passing when going through lists of family and things that she loves.
‘We’re going to go to my happy birthday party. You and Me and Daddy and Clare and Maga and Unkey Jer and Ricky!’
‘Ricky isn’t going to your party Love.’
‘Oh. OK. He’s a dog. He can't go.’
And then she would start talking about Curious George or the leaves she picked up off the ground that morning or what she ‘wants for eat’ that night.

We didn’t correct her. It was still too hard of a thing, and we figured why bring pain to her if she’s not specifically asking questions. The other day she asked. Or she said something about him that made us think she should tell her.

‘So Grace, you know how you haven’t seen Rick in awhile?’
‘Yeah. Where is he?’
‘Lil’ Rick had to go away Love.’
‘Oh? Where did he go?’
‘Well, he was really old – way older than you or me or even Maga – and he went away and isn’t going to be able to come back anymore.’
‘Where did he go? I want him to come back.’
‘He died sweetie. You know how the leaves are falling off the trees right now? It’s because the leaves are old and the tree can’t keep them attached anymore. The leaves die. The tree has to let the old ones go. Ricky was kind of like an old leaf.’
‘Oh, OK…. Ricky fell off??’
‘Kind of Grace. He was old and tired and ready to go to heaven.’
‘Oh. OK. I will miss him. Can I have another cookie?’

She’s mentioned him in the same passing ‘things I love’ way a time or two since that conversation, but hasn’t really asked more questions about him.

Nor has she played with the leaves in the morning though.

Now what?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shooting Stars

Gracie’s birthday – or the party on Sunday anyway – passed with a blur.


We rented one of the carpet covered warehouse spaces filled with moon-bounces and assorted inflatable’s. Children flew from every corner and off every surface. Which is why, sometimes, they failed to bounce again without a brief interlude of tears.

See. Flying!

There is not a single picture that the party that is in focus.

OK - so this one is in focus- and it's climbing, not flying - but there was death defying tumbles (or belly slides) from the top rungs back to the base.

Even the birthday cake pictures are out of focus. Well, not the picture of the birthday cake itself. That is quite clear.

And my Curious George efforts were very well received- only to be outdone by the birthday cupcakes that I made for school on Tuesday.

Never before has my baking received so many complements. I’m more of a savories chef due to my lack of belief in pesky things like measuring spoons / cups / and directions in general. Thank you Martha Stewart for the chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate chip frosting recipe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Thousand Ninty-Five Days

It’s 4:47 PM. You are officially 3 years old.

Have I ever told you how much I wanted you? How much I desperately wanted you? How much I needed to have you with every cell in my body?

You name is not meant to be religious. Grace as an action, not a state of being. I meant it as beauty and light and movement. You know what though? You are my grace, my gift from God. You are my proof that He exists.

You run through this world now with such confidence and speed. You take death-defying leaps off furniture and climb nerve-racking heights up ladders. You know the world is yours for the taking, with the wide eyes and unfettered dreams of a child to make it happen.

You are 3 years old. Still in need of my snuggles and help with juice cups, but no longer my baby.

Strong and polite. Mischievous and independent. Proud and beautiful.

Perfect in every way.

Happy Birthday my Love!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Perfection in its Own way

I love the way copper petinas.

It becomes something perfect in the fact that it is now far from perfection. It is a grand visual of Matt and I: an ever-changing blur of color that doesn’t make sense in its beauty that only get better in time.

Happy 7th Anniversary my love. To a lifetime of aging together.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Things in Little Packages

Lil' Rick was the dog I didn't really want.

I wanted a BIG dog. A Great Dane or a Bullmastiff. Something that weighed as much as a human, could do some significant damage to an intruder and had a heart and spirit as big as their body.

Instead, we got a Corgi.

During the normal course of a work day we were usually offered Corgis' several times. See, a coworkers wife showed dogs. Think the Thanksgiving Day Westminster Dog Show. The people who trot the fancy dogs around the ring. That was what she did- she trained, groomed and showed fancy pedigreed dogs as a profession. (Yeah, a little crazy, I know.) Anyway, once these fancy dogs won enough blue ribbons to be dubbed 'champions' and then went on to breed enough future champions, they were often abandonded by their true owners.

Hence, our possession of Lil' Rick. Champion of Corgi's with a google-able name, daddy to many more little champion Corgi's, and master of none of the tricks normal people expect your dog to preform whe the phrase 'show dog' is uttered.

When we finally broke down and agreed to a visit to meet the dog selected for us. I was by no means enchanted with him.

He was released from the dog pens with a fury. He ran into the room with a streak of orange fur. He jumped on furniture. He jumped on people. I backed away and sat down in a chair. He spied me and ran full speed in my direction to cover me in Corgi kisses. But he didn't stop soon enough. He launched himself into the air and only stopped due to a nose to nose collision. The tip of his snout to the bridge of my nose. Oh-my-God did it hurt.

I didn't want to take him, but Matt was taken with him. One week later we brought home our 5 year old puppy. We weren't always the best parents.

Over the last two years, Rick started having old age issues. Cateracts, bad teeth, arthritis, hearing loss. Last Christmas he started coughing. Several hundred dollars in vet visits couldn't bring a diagnosis. Allergies? The medicine didn't work. Fungal infection? The antibiotics didn't help. Cancer? What was the point of more tests to tell us something we couldn't do anything about.

Over the last few months he'd taken to coughing under our bed at 2am. We started putting him in the laundry room overnight. We always felt horrible about it, but sleep in this house is a fleeting, precious thing.

Last night was Lil' Rick's final night with us. I'm glad he spent it under our bed. Today when Matt got home from work, Rick was cold. The wag of his happy old-man body was gone.

13 years old. 91 in dog years. That's a pretty good run. I hope the last 8 were his favorite.

We'll miss you Lil' Rick.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Cut

Grace is 2 years, 10 months and 3 days old today. It is a monumental day. Her golden locks have fallen.

Gracie was essential bald until she as 1 year old. She didn't have hair long enough for pig tails until she was 2. There was never really any reason to bring out the scissors. Lately though, her hair has become a bit unruley. It looked a little bit like a overgrown mullet.

So I pulled out the bribes- Dum Dum lollipops. (that I *aquired* at a bank that doesn't hold one cent of my money. But my friends pennies pass through their door so I felt intitled)

We started slow. A lollipop for a trim of the bangs. I asked her if she wanted to cut all her hairs (as I do almost daily now) and she said no. Until that lollipop was gone. She wanted another one. How does a toddler aquire more candy? By sucumbing to parental pressure. Sure Mama, you can cut my hair if I can have more candy.

And so it was. I hesitated only for a second. I brushed her hair straight and steadied by hand.


The deed was done. We were committed.

And I started to cry, but finished the job.

Bye-bye baby curls.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Childhood Dreams

Four- Manage and Start
Two- Solid Rocket Ignition
------Space Shuttle Columbia has Taken Flight

Nature vs Nurture

A few weeks ago Matt was watching The Right Stuff. I could have cared less. It apparently was one of his favorite childhood movies when HBO would show the same 3 movies over and over and over again in the 80's.

(Although I wouldn't know that from experience. My family did have cable until the mid-90's. Not that I'm bitter or anything....)

Anyway - Matt was obsessed with the movie and space flight in general. His childhood dream? To be an astronaut. (I was much more realistic. I wanted to be a ballerina.) So in true Matt fashion, his obsession was full of books and studies on NASA and space craft and rockets.

As I've told you in the past, Grace also has an obsession with all things that move. This has only blossomed over the last year and has grown to include space shuttles now too. Watching the lift-off scenes of the movie was all it too.

Daddy, she begged over and over, again, again! I want to see it again!

And so he played the scenes over and over again for her. Then he pulled up shuttle launches on the internet, which fueled questions about what was happening and oh-my-goodness why parts were falling off??

So- this has become a regular scene at our dinner table. (Thankfully there is usually wine readily available.)

Did you know that NASA has had to cancel the space flight program? There are two more launches scheduled and then the flights will be part of history for the foreseeable future. So we have plans to do what must be done. To live out the childhood dreams of two of my loves.

We MUST go see a real space shuttle take off.

There will be picnics of hamburgers and juice boxes; dances of joy and sorrow; huddling for warmth and love on a beach in Florida this February.

And I can watch the sparkle in both their eyes.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tomato, Tomahto

Growing up, our gardens was my favorite part of summer.
The smell of the roses at noon and honeysuckle at night. Veggies galore. Peppers, melons, herbs and tomatoes.

Oh, the tomatoes. I would plunk myself right in the middle of the tomato area with a salt shaker for lunch. One summer I broke out with an incredible rash, that only intensified as the days went on. Diagnosis: tomato allergy. I'm fairly certain I had eaten little else for the previous week. Even after some heavy doses of Benadryl and laying off the fruits for a few days, the rash would return every time I ate anything tomato- ketchup, pasta sauce, soup- which was a major problem in my tomato heavy diet. No worries though, by the next year I was fine and realized I needed to bring a loaf of bread to the garden with me.

As an adult, I seem to be perpetually trying to recreate that rash. Every year I grow more tomatoes than I know what to do with. And every year I seem to plant more than the year before.

This was today's haul:

And the plants are still FULL. I only picked the ripest of the bunch. I may be starting a big batch of tomato sauce tomorrow and canning. Anyone want some?

Friday, July 30, 2010


Once your kid comes, people seem to move onto a slightly new topic to thrust their opinions upon you. I know it is just idle chatter, but I still find myself biting my tongue because any correction on my part always falls upon deaf ears.

It is the comparisons. The versus of my children. Physical and emotional- looks, demeanor, appetite, sleep. I know it is go to talk of second children. I find myself talking about it constantly. So here it is, once and for all..... Gracie vs Clare.

~~~Grace @ 8 weeks old ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Clare @ 8 weeks old~~~

Face- MINE. I don't care what you people say. These girls look like me. Sure, they have Matt's mouth, but the major features (face, nose and eye shapes) are all mine. The picture of Clare isn't as dead on, but they have the same shaped face with a pointy little chin, same soon to be bushy eyebrows and same nose- despite my inutero claim that Clare was sporting Matt's profile. They do however both sport Matt's mouth- which is a blessing because I have always lamented my lack of upper lip. You will definitely know they are sisters.
This is where their similarities end though.
Eyes- Matt and I are both hazel. His are a 50/50 green/gold combination while mine are 80/20 green/brown (they also still change intensity of the green depending on my mood).
*Gracie's eyes have been a deep chocolate brown, with little flecks of green starting to show.
* Clare has bucked both of us and has my dad's blue/grey eyes dead on. They are eerily beautiful.
*Grace was born a little cue ball. She always had just enough hair to let us know she would be Matt's shade of blonde, and this summer she is sporting the beautiful bleach blonde highlights of his Nordic heritage in its full glory.
*Clare this time opted for Matt's dad's shade of brunette (blonde based) as opposed to my dark (red based) shade.
Sleep- Polar opposites.
*Grace still only rarely sleeps through the night. She needs one of us, preferably Matt, to stay by her side while she falls asleep.
*Clare is out by 8:45 (at the latest) and can snooze, unassisted, for 11 hr stretches easy. Although to accomplish this, she eats for 3 hrs straight before going to bed.
*Grace was a battle to breastfeed. The first 6 weeks for such a challenge, but I was so dedicated to the idea of giving her breast milk. I have no idea why it didn't dawn on me to just pump and bottle feed her- chalk it up to inexperience. By the 3 month mark she was starting to get formula supplements and by 7 months she refused breast milk all together.
*Clare is a champ. Hours into this world and she was drinking in the easy, carefree manor I thought the process would be the first time around. At 3 months she has still never had formula. I wonder if I will be able to make it to the 1 yr mark with her...
Mmmmm .... my babies. So different and so alike at the same time. I keep holding my breath in anticipation for Clare to be able to play with her big sister. I wonder if it will be as beautiful of a sight as I imagine in my head.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


It’s funny how we, as adults, get to move in and out of the realms of childhood imagination.

Over the last few months, Grace’s ability to pretend and imagine has blossomed. We have a play routine now on our drives home. First we talk about birds, which usually involves us shouting ‘WOODPECKER!’ at each other for 10 minutes and then delves into a conversation where I am expected to name every kind of bird I can think of and she decides who gets what bird.

Blue Jay- Daddy’s bird
Chickadee- Clare’s bird
Sparrow- Ricky’s bird
Cardinal- My bird
Pigeon- Her bird
Penguin- Daddy’s bird
Flamingo- Her bird
Eagle- My bird
Hawk- Clare’s bird
Raven- Her bird
Oriole- Daddy’s bird
Robin- Her bird
Seagull- Clare’s bird
WOODPECKER! – Her bird

And then she takes it all back.
‘Mama, I don’t want to share. All the birds in the world are mine, ok?’

Next we move onto monsters.
They are pink and purple and yellow and blue and every imaginable shade of the rainbow with polka-dots and glitter sparkles. They seem to live in the trees of the wooded roadside we pass driving home. They are easily deterred from coming into the car by singing The Monster Boogie and if they do penetrate the force field of our voices, they are plucked out the air and eaten. I tend to think Grace leaves holes in her force field to allow for the monster snacks, as they apparently taste like taffy and cotton candy.

There are dozens of other games, but these are the top two lately and occupy us for the majority of our 45 minute drive home. Yesterday, I was unknowingly pulled into another imagination.

I go to the daycare to see Clare during my lunch break, sneaking in and out without notice most days. This time I was pummeled with questions from the older children in the center.

‘Gracie’s mommy! Gracie’s mommy! You’re Clare’s mommy too, right?’
Ummm…. Yeah….?
‘S says that Clare is a boy’s name! Tell him it ISN’T a boys’ name because it is Gracie’s sisters name and Gracie’s sister is a GIRL!’
Ummm…. Yeah….?
Of course it is a girls name! S, you are full of hooey!
**To which S grinned, bashfully looked down at the ground digging his Crocs into the dirt.**

I had no idea what on Earth they were talking about and why Clare was involved, but forgot all about the conversation moments later.

I love moving in and out of the realms of childhood imagination…. And sometimes, unbeknownst to at the time, become part of the story.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Script

Over a month ago, NES called me out. Not in a mean, ‘you suck’, kind of way. It was a heartfelt ‘you are my friend so lets see your response’, kind of call out. Plus, I am sure she noticed I hadn’t been posting and meme’s are easy blog fodder. And she is right in the absurd notion that I’ve privy to so many peoples personal thought through their words and have never seen their signature.

Well, 34 days later I am answering the call. Here is the exercise:

Write down the following, snap a picture (or scan the document) & post it. (Sorry, I’m skipping the tag others bit)
1. Name/Blog Name
2. Right handed, left handed or both
3. Favorite letters to write
4. Least favorite letters to write
5. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
6. Write in caps:
7. Favorite song lyrics
8. Any special note or drawing

Just in case you couldn't read my handwriting, my answer to #7 was:
There's more than one answer to these questions; pointing me in crooked line; The less I seek my source for some definitive; The closer I am to fine.
Thanks for the love NES!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two Years & 308 Posts

My yahoo reminders has told me that today is my two year blogoversary.

Really? Time flies.

As I said, I know I have been negligent lately, but that just means I will have a plethora of material once I get my head back on straight, right? Some upcoming topic previews are:
* Lots of baby stuff (you can't go wrong with babies, right?)
* My dad (the stories involve emergency personnel and handcuffs!)
* My new job (hurray!!)
* The demise of my car (and how GM is the worst company on the face of the planet.)

So if you hang in there with me there will be lots of tales to tell. If there really is anyone reading this out there, grant me an anniversary wish, will you? De-lurk and leave a comment. While I love my Google Reader too, they are tricky little things and make it tough to tell if anyone is out there. (Not that I really think anyone is reading, but it is worth a shot, right?)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Power of Purple

It's always the little things. Things that I don't even seem to think twice about. Objects that I selected for one reason or another, but that really don't make a difference in my world.

The other day we were sitting down to dinner and Grace starting gasping and pointing.

G: Mama! MAMA! Look! LOOK! Who bought that? Did you buy that??

Do you see anything? Yeah, I didn't either.

This is how the conversation went:

G: The SPONGE Mama! You bought a PURPLE SPONGE!!!
Me: Ah, yeah. Yeah I did.
G: I love the purple sponge and I love you for buying me a purple sponge.
Me: Umm- well I bought the sponge to scrub dirty dishes with Grace. They came in a pack and the purple one was on top.
G: Well the dirty dishes will love being scrubbed by the purple sponge Mama. That you for buying it.

And then she finished eating her dinner and never said another word about the sponge again. Who knew the love that could be shown by the simple power of a purple sponge.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Return

Has it really been over a month since I've posted anything??

I've been distracted lately, to say the least.

Clare is a happy baby. A low key baby. A very hungry baby. In exchange for not crying and sleeping well, she eats non-stop. So I've been neglecting this blog.

Neglected, but not forgotten. I keep writing posts in my head. I still keep taking non-face pictures for posts. I just haven't actually been writing the posts. I have no excuse for that. Sometimes I start to tap them into my iPhone, but then big thumbs and tiny fingers and crossed eyes get in my way and I quit a few sentences in.

But I am back now. I have to be. Friday morning will usher in my return to work and the first day of being the parent of two children who need to be out the door around 6am. I will need a place to vent, to expound on my new found role.

Oh, and expect to see a lot of back dated material popping up in your reader! If I've forgotten to stories there will at least be pictures . (ahem... Easter anyone?)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Big Brother

When I told my former boss Jim, the man who hired both me and Matt, that we were having a girl and her name was to be Clare Elizabeth time stood still for a moment. A man who always has something to say was silent and misty eyed.

Finally in a quiet voice he said, that is my granddaughter's name exactly and she will be born on my wife's birthday. Then after a moment, true to nature, he said with a smile, "Your spelling Clare the right way- the Irish way- right? People will forever spell her name wrong, but those people are all idiots."

Well, Jim was right.

Three weeks into her life and Clare's name has been misspelled in numerous times: cards congratulating us on the birth of our daughter, the birth announcement emails sent out to staff at both mine and Matt's work (where there was an original email with the spelling), her insurance card (where I spelled it for the phone operator at least 4 times before hanging up), and the kicker- on her Social Security card (where it was written clear as day in my own hand).

I'm starting to get a little paranoid. Normally I am quite liberal and open to the trials of bureaucracy, but I think Big Brother might be trying to re-name our child. It is one thing for her name to appear spelled Claire, but it is anther to be changed to a completely different name.

According to the the Social Security Administration, our daughter is now named CLARKE Elizabeth. WTF SSA?

Now we just need to hope that her birth certificate came out of the name process unscathed so we can make the correction though the paperwork process that is the federal government.

Or just give in and start calling her Clarke instead of Clare.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Through Her Eyes

Mother's Day was a week late at daycare this year.

I was undecided as to whether I should attend with Clare (lots of germy, grabby hands in a two year old classroom), but I didn't want Grace to be disappointed that I didn't come. In the end she probably wouldn't have noticed- in a class of 12 kids only 2 other mom's came- but I guess I didn't want to be disappointed that I missed it either.

And I wasn't.

We made dragonfly clothespin magnets. (Somewhere during their journey home they lost their eyes and antenna.)

I was serenaded with You Are My Sunshine.

And discovered the paper plate portraits of me and Matt.

Matt was a little bit concerned about the thinning hair, but didn't voice the slightest worry that Grace made him a brunette instead of a blonde that matches her own hair color.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


It's a little bit ironic that this is my 300th post. A big, fat round number to accompany a post that forever changed our lives and the dynamic of our family. The birth of our second daughter.

At my 35th week OB appointment, my favorite doctor said it was too early to schedule Clare's induction, but suggested I start taking Primrose Oil vitamins to help speed up the process. Okey-doke doc.

During the start of my 36th week, Matt came home with the Pimp-Daddy-Caddy. That weekend the three of us went out to dinner. Matt ordered margaritas and I prayed to God that my belly would de-wedge from the booth we sat in. Given my alcohol free state, I drove home. At a stoplight I was tentative on the gas. Matt chided me and told me not to underestimate the power of the Caddy. She may be 16 years old, but could shotgun from a red light like nobody's business.

At my 37th week OB appointment, the same doctor rubbed her hands together eagerly and declared she was going to make the phone call and get my induction time slot scheduled. She came back minutes later and declared Sunday, April 25 my arrival time and I should have a baby in hand by the 26th.

She also decreed that she wasn't going to bother checking my cervix because she was sure 'I was still hard as a rock' and there was no need to put me though such an unpleasant exam unnecessarily. When I reminded her that I had been taking the Primrose Oil pills she suggested, she complemented herself on being smart enough to suggest them, but still said an exam was not needed.

At 37 weeks and 6 days, the night before I was scheduled for the induction I was awoken from my sleep with contractions. I sat downstairs from 1 - 3:30 am counting them. They ranged from 7 minutes apart to 21 minutes apart. Finally I convinced myself to go back to sleep, that no even if they were more than just crazy Braxton Hicks, they weren't regular enough to do anything about right now anyway.

After a few more hours of sleep, I woke feeling as if nothing had happened in the wee morning hours.

I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 6:30 pm on Sunday. Around 5 pm my stomach started to hurt. A little after 6 pm, while in the car on the way to the hospital I started having contractions. Not the 'oh my God I can't breathe kind of ones' they say are the true indicators of labor, but still definitely there. I went from nothing to 7 minutes part.

At 6:25 pm, as we sat at one of the last stoplights standing in our way between us and the hospital, Matt decided to demonstrate the power of the Pimp-Daddy-Caddy as we made the final turn.

My water broke.

Approximately 7 hours later, and almost exactly 24 hours from what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions the night before, I held my daughter in my arms without the assistance of pitocin.

Monday, May 3, 2010

One Week

Clare has been here for 1 week now. 7 days.

It was a week of numbers.

31 - 87 (blood sugars)
11 - 96 (blood serums)
17 - 12.3 (bilirubin)
24 (daily heel sticks)
2 (IV's thrust into her tiny hands)
60 (hours spent hovering next to a tiny isolette)
Millions (of tears shed)

I know what I am. I knew what the risks were, though I never really acknowledged they might happen to us. None of it ever touched Grace.

It is so much easier to be rational about our 4 days in NICU now that we are free and confirmed healthy. It is so much easier now to look back on those days and see that they were in fact short.

During my vigil at Clare's side, I kept telling myself not to wallow in pity. She WAS healthy. She was only in here as precaution. Look around you at the poor souls thrust into this world way too early. Clare was full term with temporary inflictions.


But it was still unbelievably hard and my heart will always ache with a new type of understanding for parents with NICU babies.

Now we fill our days with different numbers. Smiles and giggles and kisses and hugs and cuddles, already numbering well past the number of tears shed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Arrival

Clare Elizabeth

Born: April 26, 2010

Time: 2:47 am

Weight: 7 lbs 15 oz

Length: 20 inches

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I’m 38 weeks pregnant today.

Baby Center is a gift to pregnant women. Whether it is your 1st kid or your 8th, there is something reassuring about knowing what your body is doing in a given week. 40 weeks of updates. 40 weeks of pictures. 40 weeks of reassurance and cutsie quips about pregnancy.

By the time you’re at this point, the quips definitely aren’t cute anymore. Being told that your kid weighs as much as a small watermelon isn’t funny. It is annoying because it means you now have 7lbs rolling around in your abdomen trying to scratch their way free from uterine bondage.

This is the picture that goes along with 38 weeks pregnant at Baby Center.
This is what the picture is missing. The IMPORTANT things that the picture is missing.

Let me explain.

1. Ribs- Do you see where those feet are? Yep, right in the ribs. Kicking and stretching and getting a work out right into your rib bones. Oh, and a little bit of lung too just for good measure.

2. Bladder- At least they show the bladder as compressed in the picture. What the untrained eye doesn’t see though is that it is the pressure pinnacle of the 7+ pounds in the womb. That means every time you stand up, you have to pee. Every time you move you have to pee. Even when there is nothing actually in your bladder, it still feels like you have to pee.

3. Colon- I have been fortunate to not have any gastro-intestinal issues with pregnancy. It does not change the fact, however; that there is still a portion of the bladder pressure distributed to the other side of the head. That when the baby has the hiccups and starts bouncing around, she is bouncing off delicate internal bits sending your colon into odd vibrating spasms. Not cool kid, not cool.

4. Spine- Finally, the spine. I keep describing my back pain as how I imagine it would feel if the baby was chewing on my spinal-cord. Sometimes I am convinced that she is. Either way, look at where the elbow is. I swear she has my pointy elbows.

As I write this, my whole belly is shaking. She is testing out the escape routes, deciding between north, south, east and west. Poking and prodding to find the path of least resistance. Right now, I think she is going with exiting through my back.

I really, really hope she changes her mind.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's New to Us Anyway

I single parented again while Matt went on a road trip. It was quick, a total of 55 hours (yes, I kept track). And I did have the option of tagging along, but 13 hour drives are not conducive to 37 week pregnant and 2.5 year old bladders.

So where did he go - and WHY? Well.... back to Chicago for an upgrade.

See, this was our/his car.

It was the very first car we bought because about 2 months after moving from Chicago to Washington, DC both of our cars died. Within 2 weeks of each other. Mine would no longer start, and his decided not to stop one day. (Thank God it ended its life in the parking lot of our apartment complex and not on the highway!)
Anyway.... we were gun-shy about the idea of buying another used car and all the potential problems that goes with thousands of miles already attached to a car. So we found this little number at the Saturn dealership.

The Saturn SL Spring Special. (Note - this is NOT our car - but I am encouraged that these folks think they can get $5,000.00 for the car!) I think we paid around $8,000.00 for the car brand new. It was no perks- stick shift (which I never did figure our how to drive), crank windows, CD player only because it came standard with the car- type of vehicle. But we could afford it and it was dependable.

Then we had Grace, and her car seat took up 2/3 of the backseat. We bumped her head every time we took her in or out of the car. It was small. Too small for two children to comfortably be strapped into. Add to that, that my SUV has over 125,000 miles on it and is making funny noises again.

We started talking upgrades. We started talking about what we wanted to replace our cars with. We started talking about finances and price points. And the conversations about new cars stopped.
Until Matt was on the phone with his dad a few weeks ago and was informed - sadly - he had just put a For Sale sign on his Caddy. *sniff* Oh wait, you just did WHAT? Hmmm....

Hence, our upgrade.

Sure, it's not what we would have picked out of a car lot. But it is a 1994, solid as a rock, dependable as the day is long, only sporting 30,000 miles luxury vehicle that has been kept immaculate through its succession of owners. Now it has us. Poor car.

And for all of you who's first question was, 'What color is it?', with the hopes of Pimp-Daddy ice blue or mint green, my memory had failed me. It is not the bland taupe I had remembered. I the shade it looks brown-ish, but in the sun- OH! IN THE SUN!!- it is a mocha / purple color!

Rock on!!
And, it comes from the land before CD players in cars, so we have our very own throw-back tape player!

Ummm .... does anyone have any tapes?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Artistic Liberties

Yesterday, Gracie wanted to go outside for a walk.
Matt obliged.

She wanted to race him, which constitutes running between our driveway and the neighbors.
Matt obliged.

She got tired, and wanted Matt to carry her while they raced.
Matt obliged.

(And Grace somehow kept ‘winning’ the races.)

Matt got tired of running while carrying a 30lb child and Gracie wanted to draw on the driveway in chalk.
Matt obliged.

Grace wanted to be drawn on the ground.

Matt obliged.

She then wanted me to draw Matt, while she worked on the detail work.

Matt obliged.

And was very happy with the results.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making A Difference, One Cube at a Time

I don't have many hits to this blog. I am OK with that. I am amazed by the fact that ANYONE reads this dribble about our lives and Gracie's shoes, and am blown away that readers from NES's blog have wandered over to read mine.

Sometimes readers come from unlikely sources though... like Matt's 20-something coworkers. Yeah Jasson, I'm talking about you. He was apparently enthralled by this post. Maybe it is because I didn't write anything else for over a week, so he had plenty of time to stare at the sad clown. Maybe he gets some sort of perverse pleasure from the forlorn.

Either way, he made a request for the clown and it now has a new home in a non-descript beige government cubicle.

And I'm glad to be of service to the select few who spend their time reading these pages, and I like to think that we are making a difference. Let me know if anyone else needs some 2 year old art to adorn their walls.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Matt's Race Report: Tune Up Tri

Per tradition, here is Matt's race report on Beginner Triathlete. Yea Matt!!

Race: Tune Up Tri
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 0:27:16
Overall Place: 6 / 252
Age Group Place: 1 / 17
Comment: Not exactly an Ironman, but...

Race Report:
Ok, disclaimer first that this was a super sprint, and heavily marketed to beginners, but still, there were some pretty fast folks here, and it was cool to get my first tri-award of any kind.

I did this race two years ago with some friends, it's a fun chance to go out and race as hard as you can without holding back. They do the race backwards due to the weather, so it's run, bike, swim. I stayed down at my cousin's place the night before, and brought our two year old to give my (8 months pregnant) wife a break. I caught a huge break in that my wave was the first off, on such a short course it's easy to get trapped behind or around folks.

1.4 miles, Time: 8:37
It felt like I ran very consistently. I think I was seventh or eighth in my wave for the whole run. There were a couple of uneven sections with mulch/mud, but nothing too bad. All the turns helped with seeing the folks behind me. I remember looking at my Garmin coming into T1, it measured the course at 1.3 miles. Even at 1.3, I'll take sub-7 miles any day!

T1: :38
Made the right call switching from cleats to toe cages, fastest T1 in the whole event. ;)

4 miles, Time: 11:37
I passed one or two people in T1, so I think I was in fifth or sixth for my wave heading out on the bike. I tried to get sped up as fast as I could, since I knew the first 180 was coming up almost immediately. By the second mile I had passed all but the guy who would end up finishing first in the wave (but in all fairness, several of the people I passed were on hybrids and the like). Given the number of turns, I was really happy with being able to average just over 20 MPH. It was pretty funny gunning as fast as you could for a few minutes, and then whoa-ing up to do the hairpins.

T2: 1:08
Almost blew it here. Coming up to the dismount line, a volunteer was shouting to slow down, get ready to dismount, etc. I was braking fine, but two things conspired to almost wipe me out: as I came to a stop the volunteer reached out and grabbed my bike while at the same time my left foot got caught in the toe cage. I did a really fun front wheelie with the back tire coming almost all the way around. Almost ate a catch fence, but I got back under control. Whew!
I had considered going sockless because the race was so short, but it ended up being no problem getting my shoes and socks off, and then headed into the pool.

250 yard snake swim, Time: 5:18
I could tell right off the bat that I wouldn't be catching the one guy in front of me, but I did see the guy behind me enter the pool area just as I was getting in. The first couple lengths felt fine, but I was really struggling at the end. The guy behind me got pretty close, but couldn't quite catch me. Hopped out and jogged to the final timing mat.

Snake swims are kind of tricky, since you're ducking under ropes, pushing off, etc. But it was awesome having the lanes to myself. This was only my third swim since like October, so obviously some more prep would have helped.

I knew finishing 2nd in my wave guaranteed I was going to win something, since waves were divided by AG's. I was really excited, since this was going to be my first award of any kind. Some of the younger folks in the next wave ended up smoking the field, plus I found out the guy ahead in my wave was the same AG.

Not sure what happened, but they handed out ONE penalty for the entire race, and it was the guy who beat me, so I got 1st in AG! AND my daughter was there to get my award with me. Sweet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

One of These Things

You know the song:

One of these things is not like the others;
One of these things just doesn't belong...

That is totally what my first thought was after I got over the willies of seeing a new wall display of clowns crafted by Gracie's daycare class.

Look at the picture. They are all basically the same except for one. All but one have smiles on their faces. One clown is a sad clown.

Guess who's daughter made the sad clown? Yep. Right here.

Her teacher said Gracie was very upset that she didn't get the mouth right, that hers was different. I tend to think it is her way of telling me that she doesn't like clowns either, without having to put me through the trauma of seeing one in person.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hello Spring

Less than a month ago we were buried in snow.
Heck, until last week there were still sad little dirty piles of the snow hanging around.
Today though, we have spring blossoms.
Hello warm weather. I've missed you.
Your pollen though? Not so much.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Please See Cashier

A few months ago I bought a new lighter at the grocery store. One of those big, long stemmed ones that keeps you from burning finger tips when lighting candles. Apparently my municipality puts lighters in the same category as cold medicine and spray paint. It’s part of the playground of miscreants.

I got carded.

Well, kind of.

The teenaged punk manning the mother-station of the self check kiosks just waved at me and said not to worry about the “Please See Cashier” notice flashing on my screen. I then overheard him tell his cohort punk that he just puts in random birthdays from 1978 when that comes up. Because anyone born 1978 is pretty old.

*Wait a minute. I was born in 1978.*

My head almost exploded. Then I fought back tears. And I know I will never be able to forget the heart crushing reality of the first time someone called me old. My mom gets pissy about being called ‘mam. I’ve never had much of an issue with this, because I can write it off as regionalisms and good manners, not a slam on perceived age. This kid though, he flat out said, “31 is pretty old.” Bastard.

While I was convalescing on the couch this past Saturday, I spent an unprecedented amount of time watching TV. I flipped though all the channels and watched more than my fair share of Hallmark movies. Then I remembered my beloved HBO In-Demand. Front and center was 17 Again. Score, it is something Matt would never watch.

This morning, while sorting through all the Facebook posts I missed over the weekend, I saw my 16 year old cousin Kat posted a quote from the movie. “You can plunder my dungeon anytime!” She and her high-school herd had also been taking advantage of Zac Efron’s free presence on HBO this weekend. So I commented.

And you know what? She too unintentionally called me old, by calling Efron old. She said, ‘Yeah, he’s a lot older than he looks. He’s like in his mid-twenties.’

And my heart once again stopped beating for a minute. First of all, I totally thought the kid was jail bait. Second, 22 IS NOT mid-twenties. Third, if 22 is old, then what is 32??

I know I am having this theoretical conversation with a 16 year old. I get that, but WTF.

The more I think about it though, the more I have to realize that maybe she is right. I like to pretend that I am still 20 in my head. Living just a toe over on the wild side. Not having to answer to anyone. Flirting my way into college bars with a barely passable ID. Parties that I didn’t always remember the end of. Sleeping until 5pm and then waking to do it all over again.

Now, I go to bed at 9:30pm. I wake before the sun finds it decent to be up. I dress conservatively and wipe butts and smile at the other daycare moms. A wild night is having an hour and a half dinner without interruption and an extended bedtime of 11pm. Which I then pay for the next day.

Am I old?

I cried when I turned 25. I tried to ignore my 30th birthday. Is the lighter punk onto something that I am completely missing? I don’t have wrinkles. I’m a young mother, not the Grandma. I still get carded at the liquor store… but is that because my signature is worn off the back of my debit card?

I guess that is the answer though. I am old enough. I am old enough to have my own life, family and money which has allowed me the ability to pay cash for my purchases via my debit card. Something I didn’t even come close to having at 20, much less 16. And I don’t want go back there. I love my life and the last twelve years that have turned me into a random old age to punch into a cash register when buying controlled substances.

The spiteful part of me just has to remember: Karma is a bitch and in 2025 it will be you standing in a random line being called old by some other teenaged punk making minim wage kid.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Friday I had a plan. It was a five-days-in-the-making rant about how I'm either a horrible mother or Gracie is a horrible two year old or that we are somehow equal in our terribleness and not fit to call each other by our titles: mother and daughter.

It had been a rough week filled with tears (on both ends) and temper tantrums (on both ends). My whole hearted attempts to follow Matt's sage advice failed. To just slow down to her pace and if things take longer, then so be it. I was trying so hard, except nothing was changing except the fact that we were now adding over an hour onto our days. Which meant we ate a lot of frozen pizza for dinner last week.

But instead of writing a much more in depth account of the happenings of the week Friday morning, I mothered: I cleaned up puke and I changed more liquid diapers than should be allowed.

It is funny what a grounding and centering thing caring for a truly sick child is. I would take her pain and discomfort upon myself 100 times over to spare her the slightest pain, but it is in those pretense free moments at 3am that your remember your calling. And that she does indeed need you, wrapped in your arms in a search for comfort.

Then 24 hours later after doses of Tylenol, kiddie Pepto-Bismo and dozens of freeze pops with only 1/4 eaten before melting, she is fine. Happy. Giddy over the prospect of riding with daddy on the big choo choo train from Baltimore to DC for their 36 hour date.

And I am left to reflect on her new found health as I am curled into a ball, clutching my own stomach for a new 24 hour period and wondering how I am going to keep down food that I know her little sister needs me to eat.

Such is the life of a parent. Such is the life of a mother. And every moment is worth it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pink Enough?

Gracie's shoe chronicle continues. This time it's a little different though.

Her McKenna's are still around, but getting short in the toe, while these new hot pink Sabrina's seem to flop at the back of her heel. But now she has choices in the morning, and her world has become all about having choices. Unfortunately, sometime the choice is to wear one old shoe and one new shoe. I've been trying to relax about a lot of things lately, but two completely different shoes just aren't going to fly.

I'm just glad she doesn't realize there are gold glitter shoes from Halloween and sandals for the summer hidden in her closet right now....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lost But Found

Little Rick is getting old.

This July he will be 13. That is 91 in people years. I hope I live to be that old.

But like humans, old age is taking its toll on him. He does little more than eat, sleep, shed and poop now-a-days. I swear he can’t hear us 90% of the time we call his name. He’s can’t see more than 5 feet in front of him, giving the bunnies rule over our yard and crumbs that he was once in charge of cleaning up rule over our floor. He’s had some sort of cold since Christmas, that seems to be immune to antibiotics, and has taken to coughing like it is his last breath at 2am under our bed. His teeth are starting to turn green, his breath has been black for ages and he’s developed some sort of benign growth between two of his toes. This last list will hopefully be corrected soon for the low, low price of $300+ for doggie sedation, dental work and extraction of miscellaneous parts.

In fact, the high priced visit to the vet was supposed to take place yesterday. Instead we spent the day explaining to animal loving people how we lost our dog.

Over the last few months, particularly since the 3am coughing started, we’ve been joking about how maybe Lil’ Rick’s time has run out. We keep throwing money at the Vet and they can’t seem to fix him. He’s never been a talker, so there is no whining or barking to let us know if he is miserable, just more and more sleep. He’s an old man though, so I figure if he wants to sleep 18 hours a day it is his right.

His low key attitude is part of the problem though. We are worn down ourselves. I am just shy of 7 ½ months pregnant, Gracie spends most of her day visiting the terribles of being two and Matt has never been a sound sleeper. Tuesday morning he woke shortly after 3am and could not fall back to sleep, so instead he worked on a white paper due at work. I woke early myself and went into work an hour early, leaving Matt to do daycare drop off on his way into meetings.

*You see, we changed the schedule. The ritual of mornings.*

During his morning outdoor time, Ricky took his time and Gracie decided to have a meltdown, diverting Matt’s attention from the dog to his daughter. Ricky DOES NOT BARK. He just sits outside the back door and stares at you until you let him in. Matt put on coats, gathered lunches and turned off the lights. Lil’ Rick DID NOT BARK. He just sat there looking in the window.

And Matt left.

Rick got tired of waiting and decided to take a walk on the busy, curvy road near our house, with the added bonus of leaving his collar behind. The good Samaritan that almost hit him scooped him up and took him to the vet in town that we don’t use. *we know this now*

Upon returning home, we realized that we were sans dog. We drove the neighborhood and any major road he might have gotten to, looking for flashes of orange Corgi. We put up dozens of ‘Lost Dog’ signs. We called OUR vet, the local animal shelters and the non-emergency police. Nobody had him.

Yesterday morning, the vet that had him called the animal shelter who immediately called us. Our dog is safe and was warm overnight. Go get him when you can.

Happy Birthday to You.

So now, we have our smelly, blind, deaf, old-man-river-of-a-dog back. I can now go back to waiting for him to die of natural causes, not our inept ability to keep track of creatures that don’t scream at us.
Oh, and here is his picture in case you ever find such smelly, blind, deaf, old-man-river Corgi roaming around your neighborhood. It is probably ours.

And no, we have no plans on getting another animal before Gracie is in college.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Birthdays are another marker by which we measure.

~~Life, love, accomplishments ~~

During the 12 years I’ve been a part of yours, you continue to amaze me with your unfazed determination to pull every ounce of joy possible out of yours.

Happy 36th Birthday Matt. 36 years doesn’t seem nearly enough time for all that you are.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wonder of Ritual

Today I went through a ritual of prenatal care. The best ritual that demands pants to be dropped to the pubic bone and warm jelly spread all over your belly. The ritual where we get to see our little girl.

The last time we saw her face, it was shrouded with slight concern. She's small, they said, 12th percentile. We don't consider it abnormal until you go below 10, but just be aware, she's small.

What does that mean?

If this was my first child I would have panicked. Time has proven to us again and again though, that medical opinion is just that in these matters. Opinion and guessing. They are using a machine to see through layers of fat and muscle and assorted insides. It was that same opinion that declared Gracie to have a huge head that may necessitate a c-section. Not that anyone would ever request to see my belly, but there is no scar.

Today's appointment showed her right on track at 2.13 lbs and in the low 20th percentile. Perfect.

And guess what? She has her daddy's nose.

Grace has Matt's coloring and my face. Will this little one have my coloring and Matt's face?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sweet Nothings

To all the parents in Gracie's daycare class:

I like to pretend I am nothing like my mother, but I know sometimes I fall directly instep with her tendencies. Like the one to go overboard.

When I think about it though, it really isn't MY fault. It is the daycare director's. And the 6 feet of snow we got. The combination of those two caused the daycare Valentine's Day party to be put off for a week. That means sales. Deep, deep going out of business discounts on heart shaped candy. And because of the snow, I hadn't actually purchased anything for full price in advance.

So this is what I walked out of Walgreen's with and will deliver tomorrow to school.....

Wait, you can't really get how BIG they are from this photo. How about this one?

Yeah, much more to scale. I knew they were very large heart shaped suckers when I purchased them. I didn't quite realize that they were the size of her face.

Or *ahem* 400 calories.

But I figure that after an hour and a few drops on the carpet / kitchen floor / on dog hair, they will be in the garbage anyway. So it's really only like 20 calories, right? Because there is no way any 2 year old could eat that.

Anyway, again I apologize. You have every right to hate me now.