Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

"They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness."
~Psalm 145:7~

Abundant goodness indeed, especially considering how blessed we have been in the past year.  I can hardly believe that this is my life, I have so much to thank God for!  Baby boy's first Easter has been a joyful one and I'm already thinking about next year and all of the egg hiding, chocolate frenzied fun we'll be having.  Fast forwarding my imagination, it's hard to think about William being almost 21 months next Easter, wow...  At 8 /12 months, the shenanigans are a bit tame, but we have been having a great family day here at home.  Luckily the Easter bunny is a clever rabbit and knew just what a tiny man might like to find in an Easter basket & loaded it with goodies fit for a Willy boy.  
Here's what it contained:

  • a soft fuzzy bunny
  • two board books: Peter Rabbit's Happy Easter and more importantly, The Story of Easter (as in Jesus and what Easter is really about)
  • No-Spill Bubble cup: the puppies were far more interested in the bubbles than Will, he just kept trying to eat the food in his basket, little piggie!
  • Plum Organics squeeze food, while I make all of Will's food, we've learned that these little pouches are so handy for travel and he loves them
  • Baby Mum-Mums, great crunchy treat for teething and he loves them because he can feed himself, which is what he wants to do all the time now, must be our kid, Mr. Independent
  • Infant Red Sox hat, for obvious reasons!
  • bunny ears headband, which daddy hated but was a good sport about
  • lots of Easter eggs, included fun sports ones, full of Cheerios!  
  • balsa wood glider (for daddy to throw off the balcony for us to watch, or for puppies to eat...)

Will didn't know what to think at first, just looking from the basket to us, and back and forth in a funny little tennis match of wonder.  Then he dove in and starting removing everything, one by one with his chubby hands.  He knew exactly what to do with the Plum Organics squeeze pouches, he just wouldn't figure out the pesky cap!  He dove right into the eggs, flinging them all over the house and catching the attention of his pups who chased them around the kitchen.  We eventually gave him a mum mum and this aroused intense curiosity from Maggie & Clem, who would have been more than happy to clean Will's sticky fingers and face.  
"Hey Little Brother, we can help you out with that!"
Because we felt the need to torture Clem, we put the bunny ears on her to celebrate the festive occasion of Easter basketry mayhem, cuteness overload.

Amazingly, she didn't mind them half as much as William.  Good, tolerant puppy!

And because William is a loved little boy, his Nanny & Gramps sent him an Easter basket from Massachusetts with goodies like a onesie from their recent trip to Hawaii with sea turtles (mama's favorite), seeds to plant, The Tale of Peter Rabbit with a Peter Rabbit stuffy, some spoons for big 10 month old boys, and other fun goodies.

After the obligatory photos, it took seconds flat for Kev to remove the fancy church clothes and it was comfy cloth diaper/dress shirt time, way cuter than Tom Cruise in risky business in my opinion.  Will & Maggie shared some sweet moments on the couch together.  We are so glad that our little boy is growing up with two dogs for best friends!

But seriously, how cute is this face?
I've gotta go squeeze those cheeks, happy Easter everyone!  Wishing your families blessings and peace!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Change in the Air... OR Not

I started writing this post last week, thinking I would eventually get around to posting it, but then forgot amidst diaper changes, laundry, making baby food, attempting to shower whenever possible, etc... It's kind of funny to compare it with this week:

Last Week:

We set out for a run today, which very quickly became a walk, bummer.  I could blame this on the fact that I busted my knee, falling down the stairs with a baby in my arms.  Yes, he’s fine, I ate the landing with my right knee and saved the baby.  All in all, my pride was probably more bruised, although my knee is catching up in various shades of purple and yellow like a hideous rainbow as visible evidence of my lack of grace.
I wonder who lives here?
I could blame our short-lived run on my accident prone self, but really it’s not my knee’s fault.  Blame lies somewhere where motivation hides, along with the hidden bin of "cute" clothes that don’t fit since Will was born, hiding in the farthest, deepest, darkest corner of my closet.  I know because I recently peeked and tried to make something fit that obviously didn’t, bad move mama, bad move.  But that's another story for another day.

Melting pools & puddles, everything is wet & squishy this time of year
On our stroll, I wanted to be conscious of all of my senses, so I could point out smells, sounds, and           the like to Will in his stroller, knowing how important it is for his growing mind to hear rich language.  As we headed up the driveway I realized how eager I am for the days we can take listening walks together with notebooks, pencils, & cameras in hand, jotting down all the amazing things we’ll find.  Children ALWAYS find amazing things because they can see beyond what’s in front of their faces.  They can spot the tiny star shapes in a bed of moss, the intricate fan lining the hidden belly of a mushroom, the funny little bubbles that gurgle up from puddles.  I have no doubt that they can see swingers in the birches and it’s one of the reasons I became a teacher, I think we should all see like that.                                                                         
Mud... everywhere
Here in Maine we joke about how there are 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, mud and mosquitos/road construction.  Heck, there’s even a kid’s song immortalizing mud, if you don’t know it, check it out. I Love Mud by fellow Mainer Rick Charette.  Early spring (which isn’t here yet, but I am wild with hope that it’ll be arriving soon) is thick with oozing, gushing, mess making mud.  Our driveway is crisscrossed with the lines of hundreds of tiny streams created by melting snow that inevitably mix and create a soupy mess that makes walking and pushing a stroller something akin to trying to slurp the thickest milkshake through a straw.  At night, the thick soup freezes back into solid dirt. 

Everything around us adheres to a strict color pallet of grey, green, brown, and white.  Gray sky, green conifers, brown mud oozing underfoot, and white snow dusted with cinnamon & sugar soil.  We look out of place, me in my powder blue jacket and Will in his bright red snowsuit.  

Someone's been munching
Deep in the mud, frogs & insects lie waiting patiently, their time is coming and soon our small pond will be teeming with life, sending up a raucous chorus of frog song.  Will won’t be using the white noise machine in his nursery because the pond will provide a concert every night to lull him off to sleep.  

I am so eager for the scent of lilac to come dancing on a breeze through the windows.  It’s coming... days like today let us know to hold on just a bit longer, spring is hiding just around the corner if we can hold on just a bit longer.  


A foot of snow fell yesterday.  Before that, our lawn was nearly bare.  I knew this would happen, it always does in March here in Maine... always.  I will let the pictures do the talking. Happy First Day of Spring everyone, you've gotta love a good joke from Mother Nature!

Monday, March 18, 2013


1. (of a thing) Not able to be found because it is not in its expected place.
2. Not present or included when expected or supposed to be.
lost - absent - wanting - lacking - gone

Missing is hard. 

That's one thing Miriam Webster forgot to include in the definition, which I suppose has something to do with the fact that when your keys are lost, or your cellphone, or the remote control, it's no big thing, an annoying inconvenience, sure, but life goes on.  You tug at your hair a bit, sigh loudly in exasperation, maybe swear under (or over) your breath, toss things willy-nilly around your house like a frenzied tornado during the frantic hunt, and eventually you find what you need and carry on with your life none for the worse.  

With people, it's much different. 

With my brother, it's vastly different.  If you read a post written long ago, before William Christopher (my son/sun, moon, and all the stars in my sky) was born, then you know a little about him, my brother Christopher.  You know a drop of water in the ocean.  My brother is not in his expected place, he's not present where he is supposed to be.  

He is missing.

Most times I'm a glass half-full kind of girl and some people may at times be annoyed by my optimism.  No, I am not naive and no, my life hasn't been all sunshine and daisies.  This post may come off a bit raw and rough edged, that's how it is when you are really honest with yourself.  I guess I am finally ready to talk about him, think about him, and be angry about the unfairness of it all.  My brother, whom I have always proudly called "Bro" , lived more life in his 34 years than most people do in 76.2 years.  Why 76.2 years, you ask?  That's the average male lifespan in the U.S. (according to an article I googled).  That statistic brings great anguish.  In a black and white, wrong and right world, clearly it's wrong that I was robbed of roughly 42.2 +/- years with my brother, there's something undeniably cruel about that.

There have been a few triggers that spurred these thoughts and led me to write about my brother because writing brings healing sometimes, and at the very least it's a cathartic experience.   

Lately, whenever Will wakes from naps during the day, the light filters through his shades and he gazes directly at this.  It's a picture of my brother, happy, very much alive, and goofing with his dog Buddy. 

It gives me chills every time to see Will get so excited over a photograph, but also makes my heart smile and I can't help but go inside the happiness mingled with sorrow.  Chubby little sausage fingers reach out and he wiggle bounces in my arms, lurching forward to touch the picture, squealing in excitement.  This happens every day, which is a gift.
He smiles.  
I smile. 
Somewhere inside the bottom drops out a little, letting some of the sorrow in, but only a little.  When I think about it too much, feel it too much, it becomes an abyss and I worry I'll never find my way back out again.  So, just a little, bit by bit, and maybe someday this missing will get easier, maybe the heart will heal. 

My brother died.  
There.  Said it.  

Somewhere in my soul, this acknowledgement feels as though boulders came tumbling, careening off a cliff picking up speed and crashing down.  It's something my family doesn't discuss.  Worse yet, the circumstances surrounding how he died are changed, adjusted, altered to fit the social situation when telling people how we came to be a family missing a member.  Missing an older brother, missing a son, missing a grandson-nephew-cousin, missing...  

He died.
Part of the reason it hurts so much for me, and for others, is directly related to the fact that I can't shake the image of my brother, my big brother turned super-hero through my eyes, dying in a hotel parking lot in the early morning hours of a lonely Thanksgiving morning, thousands of miles away from his family.  I am not ready to talk about the hows and whys, but 6 years, 3 months, and 24 days ago... the phone rang and my life was forever changed.  No amount of staring at the wall during the longest night of my life changed anything.  Closing my eyes, conjuring up ghosts in our history, I can still recall the cheap wood paneling of my college apartment, how I tried to find meaning in that ugly wall for hours, like cloud creatures in the summer, but nothing emerged.  Nothing but missing.  

All of this time later, it's still all too tragic, too far from my reality and yet it's real, it happened, and that's never going to change.  Grief is such a strange bird, flying in on ominous wings out of the clear blue sky and hovering, just out of sight, ready to swoop in and knock you down just when you get too comfortable & forget to scan the sky.  It leaves behind nothing but the burden of missing.  No amount of Hallmark coated well-wishing changes that. I don't want to hear "everything happens for a reason".  Things happen.  I don't want to hear, "At least you had wonderful memories while he was alive."  

You know what I want to hear?  
I want to hear my brother's voice, dancing with mischief, spilling from a sideways smirk saying "Hey kid, let's take a drive."  In the movie of my life, I want to rewind and play over, and over again the sound of him cheering at my ice hockey games, hear his laughter, hear his serious voice when we talked about God, his girlfriends, my boyfriends, and life.  

I don't want missing.  

But for now, missing is here to stay.  For now, I will watch my little boy, my wonderfully curious and charming William Christopher, grow and explore, and find joy in the image of his Uncle Chris, an uncle he will come to know not through playing catch, or jokes, or rides in an old pick up on a dirt road... but instead through my stories, my memories, old photographs.  We will say "Hi Uncle Chris" to a photograph after nap times.  

Because something is missing


Thursday, March 14, 2013

8 paws, 2 tails & lots of poop: A Tale of 2 Puppies

As you may already know, we lost our sweet Bailey dog in September to a cruel cancer, I poured my heart out about her a bit here, but grieving is a long slow process and we still miss her every day.  I have finally been able to go visit her sacred place under the apple trees, draped with Tibetan prayer flags, and thanked her for being our best friend and for fighting for so long.  I let her know that we miss her now and always will.  I created a photo book of some of our favorite memories.  After saying goodbye to her, we were faced with only two options: 

1.  Never, ever endure that kind of heartache again
2.  Get another dog soon.  

For those of you who aren't dog people (Is there such a thing?) it might be hard to understand, but if you've ever given your whole heart to a furry best friend, you probably get just what I'm trying to say.  

Fast forward to November, after much debate we opted to get another dog, and somehow ended up with two.   Yeah, we have no self control, when faced with an adorable litter of puppies, what could we do?  I introduced our brand spankin' new pups in a post I wrote back in December.  Say hello once again to Maggie and Clementine, affectionately known as "The Ladies" or the little "Wooly Bears", like the caterpillar, because they are always curled up together in a sweet, soft, brown and black bundle. 

For your viewing pleasure, this is when we first brought them home at 9 weeks 
(insert ample ooohing and aaawing as necessary)
They have grown and grown by leaps and bounds (literally and figuratively), and both are nearly 40 lbs now, with much more growing to do.  They have become part of our family pretty seamlessly, although I still hold a part of my heart closed off for Bailey alone, I have a strong sense of loyalty for my sweet girl.  These two definitely keep things chaotic interesting, that's for sure.   

Calamity Clem is a fierce protector of W, they are two peas in a pod and at least one of said peas is finally housebroken!  When Will was first beginning to really notice his surroundings and interact more, he would seek out Clementine and stretch his little starfish hands to her.  When she would saunter by, toes clicking like a typewriter across the wood floor, he would erupt in giggles and crane his neck to follow her with his eyes, wide as saucers and completely enchanted.  If he cries, she comes running to lick his face and see what's up, ready to defend her tiny human.  Between her and Maggie, she's the brains in the operation, when you look into her amber eyes you can tell she's thinking.  Like all pups, the ladies are rambunctious little wrecking balls at times, rumbling around the house in a furry ball of energy.  What makes me laugh the most is when the two of them are fighting over a toy and William crawls right into the fray, snatches the toy, and tries to put it in his mouth.  Inevitably one of the pups will take the toy back, only to have it taken again by her sister.  It goes on like this for a while and I'm beginning to think maybe Will considers himself to be a puppy.  I suppose there are worse things to be! (Like someone who isn't a dog person!)

I mean seriously, how cute is this pair?

Kev jokes that we have two dogs; a smart dog and a black dog.  Maggie is sweet, loving, attention craving and has so much to offer, but you couldn't really accuse her of being a genius... or adventurous, or brave.  I think she just follows Clementine's lead most of the time, which is a wise choice.  Miss Margaret is also the most vocal pup I've ever met.  When she's sleepy, which is often, she makes the craziest squeaks mid-yawn then looks at us as if we were the ones who made the noise.  She yowls and yips and whines to let us know how she's feeling and most often, she wants snuggles, cuddles, and love... our seat on the couch or food.  I'm usually happy to provide all some of those things, except when nursing Will, it makes things tricky when there's one mama and several needy babies.  I am seriously outnumbered here!

On a snowy afternoon a month or so ago we took our gang snowshoeing out in the back woods behind the house.  Clem was in her element, all you could see was a brown blur bounding through drifts like she was born for it, charging ahead and running back to see what was taking us so long.  

And then there was Maggie.  

It was impossible to take a single step on snowshoe without her trying to ride the back of it, yelping and whining to be picked up all the while.  Finally, Kev picked her up and tucked her into his jacket, zipping it to the collar.  Of course, my camera's battery was dead, but I have the funniest mental image.  There we were in the snowy woods, me carrying a sleeping baby in the Bjorn, Kev carrying a snuggling black pup tucked tight into his jacket, and the brown bullet blazing through the trees willy-nilly, hell bent for adventure.  I wouldn't trade this family of mine for anything. 

Here we are on a later hike, myself, Will in our backpack, puppies at our feet.

Oh, and a very recent revelation.  
There is a reason mud rooms were created.  
Meet two of the most convincing ones:

Our house does not have a mudroom, epic fail.  I have spent a lot of time the past couple warm days chasing after muddy prints with a mop, crawling baby hot in pursuit, tiny hands slapping the floor at an ever quickening pace.  

My life cracks me up.

My Child is A Verb

I am letting the old monthly status go by the wayside, it feels a bit too contrived now, there’s so much to say and I’d rather say it creatively, not within the constraints of “weight, food, etc..” Blah.  

Taking our monthly photos is getting trickier by they day, Mr. Mobile has stuff to do!

Here goes...

William is a verb.  
An action verb, if precision is your thing.  
He is a string of words you can see in your mind’s eye with no assistance necessary.  He is the following, in no particular order...
standing *
standing *
standing *

* Yes, i included standing 3 times for a reason. It's a pretty popular activity and he revels in the fact that he can do it by himself.  He's also taken to feeding himself, as in painting his face and body with whatever I put on his highchair tray.  Mr. Independent.  Definitely our kid! I'm not sure how much food he is actually ingesting, but he's learning a lot in the process, so we'll go with this baby-led approach!

My verb list is abbreviated for your reading pleasure, it could go on for days... and I think Will can too, especially given his obvious disdain for lengthy naps.  If I met a Genie in a bottle, this might change, but I fear this won't occur, so awake we will be.

                             Seriously, this face?!?
So this kid loves to play, which is proof he’s definitely ours.  I would consider myself to be quite playful, just ask my former students, 2nd through 6th grades, they will tell you about my ability to play and tell foolish stories, run & dive fully clothed down slip 'n slides, jump off chairs, walk around barefoot, lead a camping excursion in a Caribbean rainforest, you name it.  These days at home, cooped up in the winter months, going just a tad stir crazy with cabin fever and lack of adult conversation, I have been thinking a lot about what play looks like for babies and toddlers.  My brain has gone haywire planning, planning, planning fun experiences with my little Nugget, also known as Monster Man (this is SO fitting), Bugaboo, the Nut, among a long list of accolades.  I have lost sleep  thinking about sensory tubs, small world play, puppet 
theaters, dramatic play... and, and....

Recently, prior to a routine doctor's appointment, we took an excursion to the dollar store and purchased interesting "kitcheny" things to add to a treasure chest of items to spark little man’s curiousty.  You can see some of the contents in the image below.  He is in love with a long handled wire whisk and drags it around the house.  He also loves jar lids and has figured out how to bang them off each other, the floor, his head... fun times keep a rollin' at our lil' hacienda.

Toys, ala the Dollar Store's kitchen section

When Monster Man isn't found snuggling up to his wire whisk, his favorite activities consist of mama climbing, finger gnawing, lip sucking, crib clambering, baby gate ascension, gorilla wrestling (of the large, stuffed, pretend variety), refusing to be fed ( "I've gotta do it myself!"), sock-removing, toe nibbling, teething... and the like.  There is never a dull moment in this little family of ours.  Sometimes I think I could be quite happy with a dull moment, but honestly I probably wouldn't know what to do with such a thing.  I would be considerably less drooly, but at this point, what's the fun in that anyway?

So I've learned some things over the past 8 months, if you were to ask a penny for my thoughts, you wouldn't need to pay me because it's just nice to have an adult conversation!  Here are some things I've come to realize since a little boy came along and changed my world in every possible way, making me happier (and more tired) than I ever could have imagined.  This is not an entirely serious list, I have written a mushy-gushy post or two in the past, this is not one of them. 
  • Whoever coined the term "Don't cry over spilled milk" was NOT a nursing mother... spilling milk is totally a legit reason to cry!  I may have said this before, but it bears repeating!
  • I may never see the day of drinking an entire cup of coffee in one sitting again for quite some time and yes, I sometimes mourn the loss.
  • Regurgitated organic plain yogurt is the nastiest smelling stuff ever, and does not make good conditioner for your hair, at all.
  • The songs that battery-operated toys are programmed with have the most uncanny ability to creep into your brain, like tiny splinters that are impossible to remove.  Occasionally we find ourselves singing them as we cook dinner and realize how far gone we really are!
  • As long as laundry is washed and dried I'm winning this little game called life... because folding it is the absolute bottom of my priority list... that's what closets & hangers were invented for (although they are pretty neglected as well)
  • Getting 2 puppies + caring for an infant (all while my husband is out of town all week)= insanity to the ultimate degree.  Thank goodness the puppies are relatively well behaved!
  • Stringy mango pulp is really hard to get out of those darned mesh self feeders!
  • I cherish the one morning a week that Kev takes Will so I can get an extra hour of sleep, I long for it like Christmas morning
  • Friday night evenings in with my boys are better than any night out ever & hearing them laugh together is my favorite sound in the world.
  • Notes written in bathtub crayons make me feel pretty special (especially since showers are a rare & highly prized occurrence!)
  • Fevers of 103 are terrifying, even if your baby is smiling at you with a look that says "Why so serious mama?"
  • Baby socks fall into some abyss in the washing machine, never to be seen again.
  • Leaky middle of the night diapers are a pain in the buns (I would swear, but we're trying hard to eliminate profanity from our vocabularies because this boy is a sponge!)
  • There is no such thing as loving a baby too much
  • Changing a crawling baby's diaper should be an Olympic event, I always look up to see the tiniest full moon scooting away across the floor, hands slapping the floor in glee.  I laugh every time. 
  • W has an affinity for the most dangerous items in the room, if we placed a heap of broken glass shards or razor wire on the floor, he would beat feet to get his chubby, dimpled little hands on it.
  • This kid must be mine... he is constantly crashing into stuff, especially with his head, let's hope he finds a bit more grace over time than his mama did!
  • Intuition is what I go on, since there is no handbook, I am trusting my gut at all times and it's not steering me wrong
  • Being at home alone all week, day & night, can be surprisingly lonely at times, something I hadn't anticipated
  • I was born to be a teacher, it took leaving for a while for me to fully understand how much a part of me it is... but for now I get to be a teacher to one very special little boy
  • It's funny when people who don't have children give you unsolicited advice... and not funny ha-ha, funny I wanna slap you, but I smile and act appreciative because that's what being polite is.  
  • Parenting is hard, amazing, miraculous, exhausting, gross (at times!) and so many adjectives I could fill an entire post with them alone
  • Trying to keep W happy and content during an entire church service prior to and following his baptism was nearly impossible interesting!
  • I am blessed!
I told him chicks dig boys who play guitars, so he's starting early :)  
Church is exhausting!
Playing at the church after my cat nap :)

 Hanging out with Grampy watching the big boys play at nana's, after my baptism

 Giving kisses to my reflection
                     It's okay mama, I got this, stairs~ no problem!                                  This Learning Table is one of his favorite toys ever!
I'm convinced they put cute little critters on the bums of pants because once babies start crawling, that's all you look at ALL day :)

 Snowshoe hike up a nearby mountain
                     Frozen hunks of mango= teething must-have                                                           Baby-Gate climbing pro!

July 10th, 2012, welcome to the world Will!
My how things have changed in the past 8 months!