Thursday, December 29, 2011

My daughter is amazing

Every once in awhile I get a glimpse of my daughter as the adult she might become.  In those moments, I know, deep in my heart, that we are doing a good job as parents.   Read on for tonight's moment.

I have mentioned in past blog entries, my Nanny is closer and closer to passing away.  At this time she is in a hospice center and my mom is there with some of her siblings.  Tonight as I was putting Lilly to bed I told her we had to say special prayers for Nanny and MumMum.  I reminded her that Nanny was very sick and old and her heart does not work so well anymore.  When she asked if Nanny was going to get better soon I told her that Nanny would be going to heaven soon to be with the angels.  As I was telling her this, I started to cry.  Lilly said, "Oh Momma, the angels will take care of Nanny." And then I cried harder.  Lilly popped up and said, "Hold on Momma (pointing her finger in the air) I am going to go get you some toilet paper to wipe your eyes."  She came back a few minutes later and wiped my eyes with the toilet paper.  I was so touched by her compassion and tenderness that I let her do this.  And then we said our prayers for Nanny and MumMum and my whole family.

I am so blessed to have a daughter who, at 3 1/2 years old, is so compassionate, empathetic and loving.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finally, the follow-up

Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts as we awaited the results of all of Lilly's tests.  It has been a challenge to even get an appointment with the doctor.  As it is, I had to reschedule a court date, so I will need to take a day from work anyway.  grr....but I digress.

Without further ado, the tests only showed one "unusual activity" period of 2 seconds in the whole 48 hours.  This could be nothing or it could be the beginning of a seizure disorder.  If she is going to have another seizure without a fever it will in all probability be in the next 6 months.  So we wait and see.  We have a new prescription for diazepam to be administered if she has a seizure longer than 5 minutes.  She will have it with her at all times.

I think that this was probably the best of all answers.  There were not many episodes that would indicate that she has epilepsy.  I definitely feel that it was worth my time and effort and her discomfort in having the testing done.  I trust the doctor implicitly, which I cannot say about the last neurologist.  I know from talking to him and to the other mom I met that he is aggressive in both testing and treatment.  So if he does not think that Lilly needs medication right now, I am confident in that decision.

Thank you again for all your kind thoughts and notes.  It has been a challenging time for my family as my Nanny is in her final stages of her life.  I am praying for a peaceful passage for her into the next life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I wish my Nanny could live forever and be healthy and vibrant. Unfortunately her time on this earth is almost over. My heart is filled with sadness.
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The holiday madness has descended

Oh. my. goodness.  I completely underestimated the insane effect of the impending holidays on my 3 year old.  She is a train wreck right now.  She needs wants everything.  She doesn't understand the passage of time (duh) so she thinks Christmas should be here already.  I mean, the poor kid has been seeing commercials and advertisements since practically the day after Halloween.

We have been trying very hard to explain the true meaning of Christmas.  She has gone to Mass with me and we talk about it a lot.  When I told her it was Jesus' birthday she was confused.  We even picked names off the giving tree together and she cried because she thought it meant that she was going to have to give her gifts to someone else.

I know that her reactions are pretty normal but sometimes I am still shocked at just how egocentric this 3-year-old can be.  I think that normally she is very giving and willing to share.  Well, she has a hard time sharing food sometimes.  But she is very generous with her toys and her stuff in general.

On top of it all we have not been keeping a great schedule.  We have had some later nights and some family visits.  She is way better at adapting than she used to be, but she is still very much a schedule kid.  The combination of all this led to these pictures today:

Charming, no?  It was 3pm-ish and right smack in the middle of nap time.  I actually think the pictures are hysterical!  She is with her (mine really) cousins Jack and Nolan, both of whom she adores.  We were able to get a few cuter ones after my cousin, their sister, Victoria talked her into it.
 Lilly was kind of smiling in the one with Jack's arm around her but I missed it.  I like the one where she is jumping, though. And why did we not get pictures of all the cousins?  Victoria? Do we remember why?  Next time...

Anyway, it was a great day spent with some wonderful family members.  I am hoping that now that I am aware of this craziness, I can be more calm about it.  Hoping...but maybe a glass of red wine each night will help with that this week!

Friday, December 9, 2011

And we're home!

One of my favorite pictures of our time there.
She was cheery even after 44 hours of monitoring.

It feels so good to be back in our home! Lilly is so happy to be in her own bed with no wires attached to her tonight.  I bet she will sleep well tonight.  I hope she does so that I do too!

Today was actually more difficult than I had anticipated, and maybe that is just as well.  I had planned on trying to comb out the glue at home, but because Lilly was having the MRI they wanted as much out as possible beforehand.  I caught Vinnie right before he left the house so he was able to bring me conditioner.  I used 2 1/2 bottles and I did not even get it all out.  I just hope that Lilly never gets lice because I would imagine combing all that glue out would be kind of like combing nits out.  But I digressed.

Then we had to take her down for the sedated MRI.  She was enjoying the ride down in the special crib.  :)  This time I didn't have to hold her down, they just took her from us into the MRI room.  In less time then they had allowed, she was finished.  She was hysterically crying and trying to rip her IV out in recovery so they let us go up to her room.  She was the last patient so we had 2 nurses to ourselves!  All the nurses we had were great.  Lilly managed to charm each and every one.
Keeping busy while we waited for the conditioner.  

Eventually we got her to eat some crackers and drink some water and from there she ate lunch and we were able to leave.  She seemed to perk right up once we were on our way home and really perked up once got home.  She was still a bit wobbly for most of the day so I put some movies on, made popcorn and hot chocolate and we relaxed.

Thank you to all those who have sent me messages, texts, written comments and called.  It means so much to all of us to know that all these prayers and positive thoughts are out there in the universe for our Lilly Bernadette.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More than half way there

Phew...last night and this morning were challenging.  Lilly stayed up until 1am.  Midnight was the goal but we were in the middle of Beauty and the Beast, no matter that we have seen in hundreds of times before, we had to finish it.  The wake up call came at 6am.  yikes.  Several leads came loose in the night so we had to go back to the room to get them reattached.  She was not as angelic as Wednesday but still pretty darn good.
You can see how some leads and the "hat" came off.
I had to cut her a lot of slack today, but honestly, I was amazed at how well behaved she was.  I was going to have a grandma or two come for a visit, but she had such a difficult time when Vinnie had to leave that I decided against it.  Even after dinner she said to me, "I keep calling for my Daddy but he's not coming.  I miss him so much."
Still smiling at dinner time!  

After some testing that involved flashing lights and blowing a pinwheel, she was able to nap.  We both napped.  For 3 hours.  It was glorious!  The playroom was open today so we went in there a lot.  We met the family across the hall and wished we had met them last night!  Their little girl is 10 years old and was so sweet playing with Lilly.  They have been through this a few times, though not since she was 3 years old.  Before they went to bed they actually colored together in the hallway and had sticker fun!  Plus the mom has been there done that and was gracious about sharing her experiences with me.  She uses the same doctor and had wonderful things to say about him.
Lilly loved putting her Piglet in the baby equipment.  :)

I think the long nap may have backfired a bit in that she stayed up way past her bedtime again.  Hopefully we can sleep later then 6am.  Tomorrow she gets to have all the leads and her special hat removed and then she has a sedated MRI scheduled for 11am.  I think by then we will both be anxious to get back to our home and routines.

Thank you for all your comments, texts and emails.  It has really boosted my spirits while I am here!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

48 hour video EEG testing

We are in the pediatric neurology center!  I am so grateful to our doctor who advocated to the insurance company for Lilly.  We saw him this morning and he is very glad that Lilly is here so we can get some answers.  Lilly has been amazing so far, especially through the node application, which takes the better part of an hour.  See, she was even smiley right after!   

One of the hardest parts is that we found out about 7pm that Lilly has to stay up until after midnight.  They want her to have half the sleep she normally has.  The poor kid has been asking me to go to sleep.  Several times she has also said that she was ready to go home.  But overall she is in great spirits.  She has taken the cue from Vinnie and I about how much fin this adventure will be.  We are having treats and watching movies, coloring and playing with play-doh.  And this too will pass.  At least she was able to take a nap this afternoon!

Thank you for all the positive thoughts and prayers sent our way!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

oh my...weeks past and ahead

I have been remiss in my blogging absenteeism.  I wish I had a better excuse like, I was on an exotic island with no wifi, but I don't.  I was more than a little overwhelmed with some stuff going on and just could not write about it yet.  And because I could not write about the main thing going on, I could not write about anything.

As I have blogged about many times before, Lilly has had febrile seizures from the time she was 15 months old.  For those who don't know what that means, febrile seizures are generally harmless and caused by the fever, either how fast it is rising or falling.  They are not neurologically involved.  Children outgrow them by 5-6 years old.

Most children have 1 or 2.  Lilly has had over 12.  I have lost count.  They have all been at very low temperatures, like 100.5 or 101.  Barely a fever, really.  The frequency had slowed down, so we were hopeful that she was outgrowing them already.  The last one was Memorial Day weekend after she had a vaccine booster that Friday.  For Lilly vaccine = fever = seizure.  I should have known that she needed constant ibuprofen.  Advil is our friend.

And then she had a different kind of seizure.  Last month, before Halloween actually, she was with my mom at a friend's house when she had a 10+ minute seizure.  With no fever.  :(  The ER doctor told me that he had never heard of a child having so many febrile seizures without being medicated.  He also made it clear that this was NOT a febrile seizure.  Time to go for another neurologist visit.

I decided to switch neuros at this time.  I won't get into all the details because, while they are important to me, it is a long and involved story.  Suffice it to say I did not feel fully comfortable with the last one.  I did not realize how uncomfortable I was until I met the new one.  I LOVE HIM!!  Lilly loved him.  That or she loved the toys in his office and the lollipop he gave her after his exam.

He recommended that she have the 48-hour video EEG (which is done in a hospital) as soon as possible.  The main concern, are her seizures caused by the fever OR are the fevers caused by the seizure, he brought up to me before I said anything and is the EXACT question I asked the last neurologist more than once.  That alone felt like he was the right doctor for us.  Lilly had the 20 minute EEG (sedated) almost 2 years ago.  The insurance company wants that one repeated before they will pay for the 48 hour.  The doctor called them and argued his case.  I am awaiting the decision.

We were supposed to go into the hospital last week but due to the insurance SNAFU we were rescheduled for this week.  I am hoping that we are in.  I just want the answers.  Knowing is hard.  Not knowing is harder.  Last week I was a ball of nerves and could barely be nice to anyone.  When the testing was cancelled at the very last minute the evening before I realized I just had to let it go.  I had worried about it all weekend, through Thanksgiving.  Well that got me nowhere fast.  I could not worry like I had for another whole week.

I received a confirmation call from the hospital this evening confirming Lilly's appointment.  I am hoping that is a positive sign.  I know that Lilly will do great.  Me, I am probably questionable!  lol

Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts in the next few days. xoxo

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving thoughts

This year we are spending Thanksgiving with my in-laws in Pennsylvania.  The first few times I spent Thanksgiving (or any major holiday, really) away from my family I struggled.  It is really difficult to be out of your holiday comfort zone, even if that zone is (slightly) dysfunctional and crazy.*  I love spending time with my family, especially now that there are "grands" as my mom calls them.  Watching the cousins play together is so much fun.

I didn't know how particular I had become until I spent a holiday with another family.  If I remember correctly, my inner thoughts went something like this:  Crap.  They actually used mushroom soup in the green bean casserole.  I guess nobody else really uses cream of celery because they think mushrooms are gross.  I don't want to look like a pig.  I will just take one scoop of everything and one ladle of gravy.  I won't drown everything in gravy like I want to.  Wow, this gravy is good.  Um, where are the sweet potatoes?  THEY DON'T EAT SWEET POTATOES???**  See what I mean?  I had gotten super particular!  Probably not an attractive trait.

But as I came to the realization that every holiday would not be spent at my parent's house, I started to appreciate spending holidays with other families sometimes, especially now with my in-laws.  I decided to embrace these times.  Here is what I found:  I enjoy trying the different foods that they prepare for the holidays.   I'll just bring the sweet potatoes if it is not their thing.  My MIL is a good cook and an even better baker. There will be no lack of delicious eats this Thursday.  Another perk is that they eat dinner early on holidays.  I know this is typical of many households, but the complete opposite of how my family operates.  I rather enjoy the early holiday dinner.  It allows more nighttime snacking opportunity.  Read: turkey sammies!  And lastly, I really enjoy spending the time with them.  This Thanksgiving my SIL will be there with her significant other and that makes it extra special.  As with so many other families, we are always doing the holiday dance...who is going where on what day and at what time.  Often we miss each other or only spend limited time with each other.  I'm glad we will all be together this holiday!

This year I am bringing an appy, I think the cheesy sausage balls, sweet potatoes and maybe an apple pie.  mmmm...I better get busy making that crust tomorrow!

*I am in no way saying that my family is dysfunctional or crazy.  At least no more so than the typical family.  No hurt feelings intended...
**These thoughts are in no way meant to hurt anyone's feelings.  I have always been the recipient of good food and gracious hosts.  And my first few holidays away from my family were with a long-ago forgotten ex, not my lovely in-laws!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

belated pictures!

I finally uploaded pictures from the past month or so.

We went to the Castle Park with Aunt Gina
Note the adorable Piglet sweater knitted by my talented MIL

We had a freak and dangerous October snow storm.

Halloween and my little Pinkalicious!

And finally, wedding preparations...

Monday, November 14, 2011

ahhh....the shore

Today I had a work training in Neptune (which is down the shore for non-NJ savvy friends) and when my co-workers and I went out for pizza I realized that we were literally blocks from the ocean.  "Let's get our stuff to go and eat it on the boardwalk" I said.  Hooray!  We were all excited...the beach in November...awesome!  It was a beautiful day, too, with slightly warmer than usual weather.
A beautiful fall day!

The 3 of us sat on a bench and ate our lunch while watching the ocean.  We were in the middle of discussing how restorative the ocean is.  I mean, on a very primal level the ocean just makes me feel like all will be alright with my world.

And then.  Oh yes...and then.  One seagull flew over us and landed in the sand in front of us.  I say, "Watch out for the seagull.  He'll try to steal our food."  And within what seemed like seconds, there were many seagulls circling over us and pretending to dive bomb.  We started walking to the gazebo a little ways away.  We turn around and the seagulls were following us.  By this time we were laughing so hard that we could barely talk, let alone walk upright.  If I had been able to I would have tried to record them.

We made it to the cover of the gazebo and finished eating our lunch.  As we were all looking out toward the ocean we realized that laughing hard like we did was just as restorative as looking out at the ocean.  And though I would love to be near the ocean every day, on most days, a good, hard laugh with friends is there for the taking.
Finally under cover!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Wedding Weekend!

My brother Jeremiah married his beautiful bride Laurie this weekend.  Theirs is truly a love story for the ages and there was not a dry eye to be found at several points.  I believe that theirs will be a blessed union and that they will be able to handle whatever life throws at them.  I am so happy that they have each other!

What was really special for me and Vinnie was that Monsignor Emory married us in the same church.  He also baptized Lilly.  :)  He asked me before the Mass if he used a certain story during our wedding and he had.  I actually really liked hearing it again as a reminder of where we were and how we felt that day almost 4 years ago.  

The children were amazingly well-behaved.  I did have to get stern a few times with Lilly, but I was probably being a little tough on her.

Hard to get all 3 kids smiling at the same time!

And then the partying began!  Or to misquote one of my favorite books, the wild rumpus started!

Spending some time with Nanny!  (sleepy Lilly)
Cousins dancing the night away!

This is my Dad's Aunt Doris, who is his mother's older sister. 
Vinnie and my brother Joe.  He's single ladies!

My brother Matt twirling Lilly

Crowded dance floor!
At the end of the night...
Laurie and Jeremiah are off to Florida and Disney for a fun-filled honeymoon.  I love you both and can't wait to see you when you get back!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Today, and every day I am grateful for the servicemen and servicewomen of our military.

I clearly remember the first bombing of the WTC in 1993 and how scared I was.  I was an 18 year-old freshman in college and I recall the fear that was coursing through my mind.  Never before in my lifetime had something like that happened.  I began to think about how people in other countries live in the midst of violence like that every day.  Even in my imaginings I never dreamed that we would be where we are today, still at war with Afghanistan.

My husband was in the Navy from 1995-2004.  He served all over the world, including 4 years in Japan and in 2 wars, if I remember correctly.  I did not know Vinnie before he entered the military as an 18-year-old young man, so I can only imagine how his years of service changed him.

I was writing this post in bits and pieces all day so I feel it it's a little disjointed.  I will try to edit and reorganize when I have a chance.  I just wanted to get this published on Veteran's Day.  Tomorrow is my "little" brother's wedding so it won't be then!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I had the day off!

Yeah, so I have not been doing that great about blogging every day about thankfulness.  However I have been trying to remain cognizant of being in a mood of thankfulness this month.

Over the past few days I have been thankful for:
3 days off from work this week
Lilly's sense of humor
Lilly's affection and snuggliness
health insurance
especially the mental health benefits
my therapist
a clean house

There is something else on my mind this night and that is the Penn State scandal.  I am sickened by the fact that children were harmed and nobody did the right thing.  In their avoidance, the behavior was allowed to continue. I don't know all the details of the case, but my heart breaks for those boys and their families.

Monday, November 7, 2011

happy birthday Elizabeth Grace

Today I am grateful for my beautiful niece, Elizabeth Grace.  Today is her 4th birthday.  She is my first (and so far only) niece and is the eldest of the grandchildren.  Holding her in my arms for the first time changed my life irrevocably, in the best way possible.  Lilly is 6 months to the day younger and just loves her so much.  She tells her, "I am going to call you Liz because your my friend."  I don't have any idea where she got that from but I think it's adorable.  I am so excited to watch them grow up together.

Elizabeth Grace, you will always and forever hold a piece of my heart.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Okay, I missed a few days...

But today I am thankful for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  This week I needed a lot of loud music.  They fit the bill for me.  So really, even though this is the band I chose to listen to, what I am really grateful for is the ability to express our emotions through music.  Music is such an incredible tool for channeling our emotions.
Even though I love this song, I think it's not the best example of what I was listening to this week.  There is definitely a small part of me that feels like like getting right in the pit, right up next to the stage when I listen to this music.  It brings me right back to the early and mid 90s....pigtails, mini skirts, tights and doc martins and Michelle.  Nothing could go wrong and we had the whole world in the palm of our hands.

Funny story...Lilly likes when I wear my old MMB teeshirt.  She thinks a bulldog with horns is funny.  :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I am thankful 3

Today I am thankful for 3 year-old girl tantrums. Because really, she's just doing what I sometimes wish I could. Don't you ever just want to jump and scream until you are hoarse and cry out loud with snot running down your face? Okay, I could forgo snot running down my face. When Lilly has a tantrum of great proportions it is a reminder that our feelings are real and sometimes we just need to let them out!
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I am 2

Today I am thankful for blonde highlights.  Yup, I said it...I am grateful for something completely superficial.  I had my hair highlighted today and my new do makes me feel fabulous!

I am also humbly thankful for my mom's friend Jenny.  She is amazing and doesn't even know it.

I am 1

For the month of November I have decided to blog every day about something for which I am thankful.  This happens to be a stressful time in my life right now and I think that this is a great way of keeping a positive perspective.  

#1 Today I am thankful for my parents.  They are not only supportive and loving parents but the best grandparents to Lilly.

Monday, October 31, 2011

cooking again

I really like to cook.  I really LOVE to bake.  If you have read the last few posts then you may have realized that I am going through a tough time right now; one of the valleys in the hills and valleys of life.  One of the things I had lost as I was driving down that hill was my ability to cook.  Mentally, I just did not have it in me.  Yes, I could through some quick meals together, but I was not cooking.

Cooking is emotional.  It has to be, because food and eating food is emotional.  I think back to when I was a kid and conjure up an image of a chef.  He was quick-tempered and moody.  And he was a he.  Unless she was Julia Child.  Of course this was all before the food network.  But that was what I thought a chef was like.

Yesterday when the reality of the crazy Nor'easter was hitting me I decided to get some ingredients to cook, just in case I felt like I could.  I was not able to do so yesterday.  I wasn't ready.

But today I was.  Today I made meatballs and homemade tomato sauce.  Watching Lilly eat all her meatballs made my heart happy.  I also made butternut squash and apple soup.  Lilly won't eat that but my mom will.  It has a touch too much salt but otherwise it is divine.  It is just such a fall-ish dish and it was a cold day.  With snow on the ground.  In October!

I'm not baking yet, but I am cooking.  I'll take it!

recipes to follow...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inner Strength

“A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.”
Eleanor RooseveltYou Learn by Living

Sometimes in our lives we need to have inner strength beyond what we believe possible.  I realized today just how strong I am.  I have an inner strength that will get me through this phase of my life, no matter what happens.  I know it.  I am owning it.

I cannot take credit for this all by myself.  I have a great support system of women helping me keep up that inner strength: the women with whom I work, my friends (my besties!), and the strongest of all, my mom.

My dad and brothers have also been an incredible source of strength for me.  My in-laws have been wonderful.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

my conundrum

I have a conundrum.  I want to have another child.  I want Lilly to have a sibling, one who is close-ish in age to her.  I would have liked that a year or two ago but it was not the right time.  Now is not the right time either.  Nor will it be for the foreseeable future.  There are very real and valid reasons why we should not have another baby right now.  I know some people say there are no good times, but this is really the opposite of a good time.

Somehow, someway, knowing this does not stop the yearning.  Why does this not stop?  Why can't my heart take a hint from my brain and stop wanting things it cannot have right now?  I think part of it is wanting that sibling for Lilly; knowing how important it was for me and other people I know to have the sibling relationship.  I think part of it is straight up biology.  I am 36.  That clock ticks loudly, and it is not always a pleasant, soothing tick tock.  More like a gong announcing,  TICK TOCK biatch...GET GOING HERE!    And really, I think a big part of it is that we cannot separate our hearts and minds in that way.  They are intricately entwined and that is what makes us human.

Sometimes I just wish I could flip a switch, even just for a little bit, to give my heart a rest.  That or stop that damn biological clock from ticking so damn loudly in my ear!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Warning: Philosophy major ahead...

What is happiness, exactly?   How do we know we are happy?   Do people in other countries have happiness as a goal in life?  And what does their happiness look like?  Sometimes I wonder if we think too hard about being happy, attach too much importance to it. I don't mean that we can't be happy or even strive to have happiness in our life, whatever that means.  Nobody wants to be unhappy.  But maybe it should not be a goal in life.

I know that I have said at different times in my life that, "I just want want to be happy."  But let's look at that.  What that really means is that something in my life is not working for me at this point.  It could be a job, a family situation, a relationship, a money situation.   Say I change that situation.  Will I be happy then?  I don't believe so.  We have to be "happy" or at peace within ourselves or nothing else will seem good.  Everything will be problematic if we do not have inner peace.

Very recently I have been made aware of a few situations in which someone died suddenly.  I am reminded to live life and don't hold back.  Love fully and completely.  Have no regrets.  This to me is more meaningful than being happy.  One of my recent decisions is to live my life in spite of the crappy stuff that might be going on.  I am making another goal to strive for inner peace in the midst of life-chaos.

In the past I have started to learn the practice of meditation but failed to make the time for it after the first few weeks.  It is time to make the time.  Can I have inner peace without acceptance?  Can I have acceptance without self-awareness?  Meditation can lead to self-awareness.  Ergo, I need to make the time for meditation.

Plus, studies have shown that meditation can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress.  Win-win?  i think so...

Okay, enough rambling from me for one night.   Do you meditate?  Tell me about it...comment below!

*There are obvious situations like abusive relationships in which inner peace should not be attained just to stay with the abusive person.  I know that and do not include situations such as those in my contemplations.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My First Bachelorette Party!!

I have been really trying to be better about blogging daily but I was at a...wait for it...bachelorette party this weekend!  It was for my future sister-in-law Laurie and I am so happy I could be there for her.  It seemed for awhile that I was just not going to make it.  There were hurdles leading up to the weekend and then even on that day when I was trying to get out of the house.  That is really just the story of my life right now.  I think I can safely assume that most moms of young children have trouble leaving the house for a weekend.

I have to admit that leading up to the weekend I was really worried about it.  I have never really done anything like this and I felt like I was going to be totally out of my comfort zone.  And I was a little bit at times.  In the beginning I felt a little odd that I was not drinking a lot (of alcohol) but I am so beyond drinking to feel like I fit in.  So I just kind of stuck out the uncomfortableness (Is that a word?) and the feeling passed.*  I just really don't drink anymore but I still have fun!  I wasn't dancing a lot, but that was due more to the comfort of my poor feet than anything else.  I promise you, Laurie & Jeremiah that I will be dancing at your wedding!!

We were in Philadelphia, which is a place with which I am not that familiar but was easy enough to navigate and lots of fun.  Vin & I spent a few days there for our little honeymoon so it was nice to remember that while I was there.  I think that if I lived a little closer I would spend more time there.  There are so many interesting historical sites if you are into that kind of thing.  Which I am.  I'm nerdy...can't help myself!

The activities we did were fun and included: wine class/tastingkaraoke & sushi, bar and then back to the hotel for late night pizza shenanigans and passing out.  Today we had brunch at a really cool,  eclectic diner before all heading home.  (Umm, bacon pancakes?, awesome!)  And I must not forget the fun-shaped straws and confetti and flashing rings!

Back to the party...I was really happy to be part of the group for the night.  More importantly, I am just thrilled that Laurie has such a great group of women who she counts as friends and family.  They love her so much!

I cannot WAIT for November 12, 2011!!!

*Just want to clarify that NOBODY made me feel uncomfortable for not drinking a lot.  That was totally just me.  :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

international babywearing week

ring sling, age 3 months
I kind of missed the boat on this because International babywearing week is October 10-16.  I was a babywearer and franly, I remember not being able to wait to do so.  I ended up having 3 carriers:  the ring sling, a baby bjorn type and my favorite...the kangaroo korner pouch.  Sadly, the kangaroo korner company is no longer around.

Lilly was like a poster child for attachment parenting because she always wanted to be near me.  And by near me I mean on me.  Preferably on the boob.  I was recovering from a c-section and severe anemia and babywearing was the natural answer.  It was really hard to get the hang of the ring sling and once I bought the pouch I stuck with that. I had not planned on purchasing a front carrier.  One day I was in Babies R Us returning some stuff and I was checking out their carriers.  They were just beginning to sell slings and pouches.  I was trying some one with Lilly but she was being a fussbudget.  I tried on the Chicco deluxe something or other.  It has great back support which is key with a delightfully pudgy baby.    Within, oh, 5 minutes Lilly was ASLEEP.  And realizing that it is more open to the chest than other front carriers to make nursing-on-the-go easier had me sold.  It never went back into the box.
chicco front carrier, age 7 months

I remember asking the pediatrician about the possibility of hip issues when using the front carrier too soon (because their legs are splayed) and he told me that if it made my life more manageable (YES) then to not worry too much.  

I loved wearing Lilly and I was a little sad when she truly outweighed the limit of the pouch.  It was a wonderful way to feel close to her and also to get stuff done when I could not put her down.  Vacuum?  check!  Grocery shop?  check!  Type graduate school papers and nurse at the same time?  check!  Do anything else and nurse at the same time?  check!  Of course there is a learning curve to babywearing but there are a lot of resources, including videos on youtube, to help you out.  

I completely borrowed some rules of babywearing:

1. Make sure your baby can breathe. Baby carriers allow parents to be hands-free to do other things … but you must always remain active in caring for your child. No baby carrier can ensure that your baby always has an open airway; that’s your job.
a. Never allow a baby to be carried, held, or placed in such a way that his chin is curled against his chest. This rule applies to babies being held in arms, in baby carriers, in infant car seats, or in any other kind of seat or situation. This position can restrict the baby’s ability to breathe. Newborns lack the muscle control to open their airways. They need good back support in carriers so that they don’t slump into the chin-to-chest position.
b. Never allow a baby’s head and face to be covered with fabric. Covering a baby’s head and face can cause her to “rebreathe” the same air, which is a dangerous situation. Also, covering her head and face keeps you from being able to check on her. Always make sure your baby has plenty of airflow. Check on her frequently.
2. Never jog, run, jump on a trampoline, or do any other activity that subjects your baby to similar shaking or bouncing motion. “This motion can do damage to the baby’s neck, spine and/or brain,” explains the American Chiropractic Association.
kangaroo korner fleece pouch, 10 months
3. Never use a baby carrier when riding in a car. Soft baby carriers provide none of the protection that car seats provide.
4. Use only carriers that are appropriate for your baby’s age and weight. For example, frame backpacks can be useful for hiking with older babies and toddlers but aren’t appropriate for babies who can’t sit unassisted for extended periods. Front packs usually have a weight range of 8 to 20 pounds; smaller babies may slip out of the carrier, and larger babies will almost certainly cause back discomfort for the person using the carrier.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Courage or Other Moms

Here's the thing.  I generally do not feel very courageous or brave.  I live my life rather conservatively, I think.  In fact, blogging is probably the most courageous thing I do.

I love to read other blogs.  In fact, I read other blogs long before I started blogging.  I read about moms who are creative, successful, honest, dealing/handling/living  with children with special needs, cancer, moves across the country, moves across the ocean(yikes) and devastating losses.  I also read a few blogs who are not written by women, but the majority I read are.

Recently I have needed to have some mega doses of courage, and not the liquid variety.  Though maybe that would have helped a few times.  I am going through life issues.  I cannot share what they are specifically, but suffice it to say that life is hard right now.  Reading other blogs helps me put my life into perspective.  It reminds me that everyone has stuff.  Life can be really, really hard.  Husbands get jobs in other countries.  Children pass away at unthinkably young ages.  Moms get diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  And survive!

So every day I go to work and do the best job I can.  I come home and take care of my family.  And I live with courage.  One day at a time.

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change the things I can, 
And the wisdom to know the difference.  

Turtle Back Zoo - amazing local resource!

I live about 6 miles from the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ.  It is centrally located to several highways and only about 15 miles from NYC.  I always say I want to get a family membership so that I can go all the time, but I never do.  But I do like to take Lilly when I can.

I remember going there as a little girl and loving it.  And it was a good zoo.  Not fabulous, but there were plenty of things for kids to do, including feed and pet the goats and sheep.  As I grew older I realized that the "zoo climate" so to speak, was changing.  There were less concrete and steel enclosures and more natural-looking habitats.  Well, TBZ started to join in this movement.

It seems that they (the zoo) have been gradually improving and modernizing the exhibits.  There is a new large cat exhibit slated to open soon and the new monkey exhibit is AMAZING!  One of the great things about TBZ is that it is perfect for little ones like Lilly (age 3) because you can see the whole zoo in one day.  We actually did not see everything on our last visit.  We saw a lot but she was getting tired and it was not worth pushing the envelope.  And because it is so close and relatively inexpensive, I don't mind not seeing everything all at once.

You do have to watch costs if you do not have a family membership.  The little things can add up:
1 adult $10.00
1 child $7.00
Pony ride $2.00
Carousel $2.00
Train ride FREE
1 hot dog $3.75
Tokens for animal feed $0.50
Bird stick $2.00 (I think.  We did not feed the birds.  And now I am singing the song from Mary Poppins.)

So as you can see, it could add up.  But it doesn't have to.  I meant to bring a sandwich but then forgot.
I did bring water and snacks with me.  I did not give in to the ice cream, picture by the train and countless other stands along the way.  That is a new feature since I have last been to the zoo.  My mom skills had to quickly adjust to the ice cream/hot pretzel/lemonade temptations.  :)  Distraction is such a key mom skill to have mastered!

I have no connection to the zoo other then wanting to see it succeed.  I personally love the zoo, any zoo, in the fall and in the spring.  Now is a great time to go because it is not roasting hot and there is often a nice cool breeze.  TBZ is tucked into the side of South Mountain Reservation and the foliage can be quite impressive.  I hope that we have less snow this winter because I think it would be fun to check it out then!  As another aside, the time before last we went to the zoo it was late afternoon and ALL the animals were out and about.  We also saw them being fed the time before last.  The docents and zoo keepers are all very willing to share information with anyone who wants it.
Red panda <3

Pony ride fun

the impressive white wolf

riding the wild animal carousel

gibbons swinging around

and the leaf changing has begun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

cultural awareness

Today I attended a workshop for master teachers on cultural awareness.  The point is for me to take the information and turnkey and also present professional development for the teachers in my district.  My now-retired co-worker who attended this training last year had very positive things to say about it and whatever she brought back always made me think.

To really think about cultural awareness we must first address our own prejudices and ideas about different cultures, stereotypes, etc.  I hear people say all the time that they do not have any prejudices.  I am sure I have said that at one time or another.  The reality is that it is just not true.  It is impossible for anyone to not have some kind of prejudice about a culture, religion, ethnicity, something.  It may even be something like thinking that Asian kids are so smart  which may seem positive.

Once we are aware of our own prejudices, then what?  I am not sure!  What would (will) I do?  Educate myself.  Talk to people who are of that culture.  Challenge myself to be open minded.  It might be a little uncomfortable.  And that is okay.  Growth and change is uncomfortable.

I'm not really sure why I decided to write about this today except that it really reminded me to examine my own thoughts and beliefs about other cultures.  During the summer I wrote a lot about SAHM stuff since that I was doing.  But during the school year I am a working momma and so work stuff is going to sneak in here sometimes.

I want to challenge you all to think about this.  Be honest with yourself.   Be uncomfortable.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mommy confession #578

Confession:  My daughter colored on the wall after her nap one day and I left it there.  I was quite adamant that it was not to happen again.  But I could not bring myself to wash off her mural.  I walked in and she said, "Mommy, I made a rainbow and my name."  This was about 6 months ago.  Maybe 3 months later she did add to it.  And I left that, too.  She loves sleeping under her pictures.  I love seeing them.

So what prompted this confession?  A friend of mine posted pictures of toddler destruction today that included powder covering the entire room.  It reminded me of all the little moments, that seemed like big moments at the time, when I would walk into: ointment on the stuffed piggy, tissues torn into little pieces, an entire box of wipes emptied, powder sprinkled everywhere and yes, murals on the wall.  And truthfully, those moments are some of my most favorite memories of Lilly.  I hope that I can continue to find the joy in those moments.  I mean, who can really resist a diaper ointment covered piggy bum?

Mural #2

Original mural

and the winner is...

I am so sorry I was absent from blogland this week.  So the winner of the My memories suite from the giveaway on my blog is....Coach Kate!  (I used

I want to thank everyone who read and especially those who commented on this post.  You are the best!

Don't forget, everyone really is a winner...For ALL my readers, My Memories is giving you a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store - $20 value!   Go to the My Memories website  and copy and paste this code: STMMMS81049

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Random and not-so-random acts of kindness

Today I found out that a person I know only virtually through our local message board, MOL, passed away.  She fought a long battle stemming from, of all things, a cat bite, then MRSA and then other (I think) issues that stemmed from all that.  She never spoke about her pain too much, but my understanding was also that she was in constant pain from a car accident years earlier.

On MOL she was always putting herself out there...lending a hand, an ear, money, dog toys and cat food.  She was a lover of animals and always helped out with stray cats, lost pets and dogs that needed rescuing when possible.  How fitting that she passed away on the day before the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which is a day often used for the blessing of animals.

I never had the opportunity to meet "Just the Aunt" or JTA, as she was known, mostly because I do not attend face-to-face events.  But she did (put herself out there) and almost always it was because she was doing something kind for someone else.

I have been having a very difficult few weeks.  I have not wanted to be kind to people and have in fact probably been on the bitchy side.  This week, in her honor, I will be making a concerted effort to be kinder.  I will look to perform random and not-so-random acts of kindness.  Thank you JTA for reminding me to be kind and thoughtful.  You will always be remembered for what you did in and for our little community.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

rainy day = homemade playdough

Today promised to be a rainy day so our plans to meet our friends at the park had to be modified.  My friend Colleen and I decided to bring the kids to the diner for an early lunch.  You might be thinking that we are crazy, and when I saw the line at the diner door I truly believed we were.  Luckily I was able to get in rather quickly and the owner of the Parkwood Diner sat us in the very back.  Smart man.

One of my tried and true techniques for keeping Lilly occupied when we are at a restaurant is to bring playdoh for us to use.  I realized about an hour before our meeting time that we were fresh out of playdoh.    This is when being a preschool teacher has its advantages.  I pulled up my recipe for playdough and in about 15 minutes from start to finish we had enough playdough for three kids.

Here is the recipe I used.  I will put my notes in italics.

2 cups flour
2 cups warm water (I used pretty hot water.)
1 cup salt (I think I used a little too much salt because it was a bit more gritty than usual.  Lilly was helping measure so it was not exact.)
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 TBSP cream of tartar
food coloring  (I only had gel food coloring and it was hard to work into the dough.  The liquid is best.)
flavor extracts (I didn't have any so I didn't use any!) 

Mix all the ingredients in a medium pot and stir over low heat.  (I had mine a bit high because I forgot and didn't have the instructions in front of me.  It still came out okay.)  Keep cooking and stirring until it pulls away from the pot and starts to look and feel like playdough.  Put it onto a clean surface (I used my silpat.) and when it is cool enough knead the dough until it is smooth.  I divided the dough into four and made a little divet in each pile before adding food coloring.  If you are worried about staining your hands then use gloves or even wrap it in plastic wrap and knead it in there.  (With my students I used to put it in a ziplock, take the air out and let them squish away.)  

Store in airtight containers or ziplock bags.

This is a very forgiving recipe.  If it is too sticky, cook it longer.  If it starts to dry out, add a few drops of water and work it in.  If it's too wet, cook it a little bit.  I let Lilly help me and she was as thrilled to help me make the playdough as she was to play with it.  And just think of all the math and science your little ones will be learning without even realizing it!