Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Love Actually Is All Around

Clearly I've gotten the hang of maternity leave.

I am completely and indulgently basking in the glow of favorite movies and a lit up Christmas tree, nursing a cuddly baby and sipping tea.

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspision love actually is all around."


Three generations of heroes to baby girls

She's never pulled anyone from a burning building
She's never rocked Central Park to a half a million fans, screaming out her name
She's never hit a shot to win the game
She's never left her footprints on the moon
She's never made a solo hot air balloon ride, around the world,
No, she's just your everyday average girl (but)

She's somebody's hero
A hero to her baby with a skinned up knee
A little kiss is all she needs
The keeper of the cheerios
The voice that brings Snow White to life
Bedtime stories every night
And that smile lets her know
She's somebody's hero

She didn't get a check every week like a nine-to fiver
But she's been a waiter, and a cook and a taxi driver
For twenty years, there at home, until the day her girl was grown
Giving all her love to her was her life's ambition
But now her baby's movin' on, and she'll soon be missin' her
But not today, those are tears of joy runnin' down her face

She's somebody's hero
A hero to her daughter in her wedding dress
She gave her wings to leave the nest
It hurts to let her baby go down the aisle she walks right by
Looks back into her mother's eyes
And that smile lets her know
She's somebody's hero

Thirty years have flown right past
Her daughters' starin' at all the photographs
Of her mother, and she wishes she could be like that
Oh, but she already is

She's somebody's hero
A hero to her mother in a rockin' chair
She runs a brush through her silver hair
The envy of the nursing home
She drops by every afternoon
Feeds her mama with a spoon
And that smile lets her know
Her mother's smile lets her know
She's somebody's hero

Monday, December 15, 2008

Say "Christmas"

Aren't we a classy bunch? The Center clan cleans up pretty nicely, don't we?

My dear cousin got married on December 6 which just so happened to be my father's birthday and my father just so happened to be his godfather. My brother took part in the ceremony as one of the readers and the rest of us took part in laughing and crying as we celebrated with the happy couple. As I watched my cousin Dave and his new bride dance their first dance I whispered to John that someday we'd be sitting there watching our daughter dance her first dance with her husband. Shivers ran down my spine. I shared the comment with my sister in law who agreed and said everytime she sees the mother of the groom with her two boys she thinks of herself, having to someday share her boys with their wives...traditions, and families intertwining.

My mother popped up and complimented my sister in law on her beautiful necklace that so elegantly draped her neck. She touched it ever so gently and said, "thanks, remember this is the necklace you bought for Jacob to give me?" A few Christmas's past Jacob, my wonderfully gentle and loving soon to be 12 year old nephew saw this necklace on a trip to Scoville's with my mother. He HAD to have it. He wanted to surprise his mother with something extraordinary and my mother being the kind push-over, agreed. He was supposed to pay her off in lawn maintanence and the like but we all know a few passes here or there with the mower will suffice when it comes to grandma.

We all remembered that Christmas and as we did I leaned over and told her, "you know you're going to have to wear it on Jacob's wedding day."

She agreed and the tears flowed again. Now I know why my father always used to pinch my cheeks or hug me tight and say, "ugh, where did my baby girl go? You used to fit right here!" (as he would point to the crook of his arm) Your little pig tails would bob up and down as you jumped around the house. Where did the time go?"

Time, you can slow down for us, although we are forever grateful for what you have given us.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Afternoon Fun

Can you stand the cuteness???

Mmm raisins.

Oh so tiny and yet so big.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mesmerized by Cars

Now a happier post. While John was fixing the flat tire on The Bro (The Kidney Foundation asked us to put the spare on), Luke and I watched Cars the movie.

He was mesmerized to say the least.

Bro-nating to a good cause

The Bravada, my father's car, or as we call it, The Bro, has officially died. The breaks are gone, it needs to be jumpstarted almost every morning, and most recently the front left tire fell flat. Completely flat. We finally drove it into the ground and decided it was best to donate it to the Kidney Foundation. When I see it sitting in the driveway I feel like my dad is with me, as if he's stopped by for a visit, but like one of the last times I saw him it will be towed away on a cold winter day. I took a few keepsake pictures and ironically it was snowing, just like it was the last time I took a picture of my father, although that day was Christmas night 2002 and a major nor'easter was hitting the north country. I took a picture of him shoveling the sidewalk, in the photo you can see him admist a flurry of snowflakes in the dark night illuminated only by the porch light. Hopefully someone, somewhere will find some use out of the busted up Bro. I find it comforting that the last picture I have of him and of his car are in the same season, the same setting. Irony at its best. And, yesterday was his birthday too.

We've been living as a one car family for a week now and while our current car is really extremely small for a family of four, we're working it. We know we're lucky to work in town, our entire life (work, sitter, home, family) is lived within less than a mile, which makes it all feasible.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Strap on your feedbag

I gave in and let him feed himself tonight. Half of the cottage cheese is now strewn about the floor, but he had fun and we didn't fight over who holds the power to the spoon through the entire meal.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sick of it all

It all started with Ellie's week in the hospital and the subsequent annoying infections. Then Luke came down with croup, has had a nonstop runny nose, and busted up the inside of his upper lip. Now he has pink eye, and has thrown up his dinner two nights this week. Knock on wood that we've escaped the big D.

Good times.

It's only the end of November, we've got 4 more months of winter to get through.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Dearest Luke

To think yesterday he was climbing the dining room chairs and hoisting himself onto the table. We made a breakthrough today, he climbed into his booster seat to color, no fighting or kicking and screaming for a "real" chair. He even gave me a kiss.

Oh my sweet boy, thanks for teaching me how to be a mom. Sticky raisin fingers and all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

If Only

The room was dark, illuminated by the glow of the television as Elle and I sat in bed. She vigorously nursed as I tried to find something other than the Magic Bullet infomercial to keep my attention. John sat up as if the alarm was ringing, jolted out of a deep sleep he slipped out of bed, a confused look on his face as he stammered to the bathroom. As he came back to bed, he curled himself around me and whispered, "I met your dad."

Every once in a great while we dream of our dads. They are rare gifts that leave us as if we've been touched by angels.

John never met my father and has only heard his voice from old family videos, but we haven't sat down and watched one in years. Unfortunately in this dream my father didn't speak to him. I was hoping for some guidance or words of wisdom.

Apparently Ellie was two years old or so, walking about, she slipped out of the babygate and was on the front porch. My father rescued her, swooped her up in his arms and held her tight. He saved her. He smiled as John watched from the doorway.

We feel your arms around us Dad. They're tight, oh so tight. So safe and warm and strong.

If only these dreams could come true.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PSA: Pharmacists Make Mistakes

MLs are not the same as Tsps.

Our pharmacy dispensed us new meds for Elle's persistant case of thrush, the dosage was 1/2 tsp on day one, 1 and 1/4 tsp (which seemed like an awful lot for a 4 week old) days two through fourteen. I gave her the day one and two doses and thought there was no way I was going to have enough medicine to last me twelve more days. After talking with sister-in-law and confirming it with the pediatrician we realized that the dosage was way off, it should have said 1 and 1/4 ml, NOT tsp.

I gave her four times the amount of medcine she needed in one day.

Thank God it wasn't toxic. The pharmacist sounded like he was shaking in his boots when I called up to explain. They also had the wrong prescribers name and number, Bay Optical is not my pediatrician.

Nice attention to detail, eh?

I guess we have to be our own advocates and question everything. Scary, scary stuff.

Moral of the story: Please read your medicine labels carefully and if it seems wrong, call to confirm that it's right.

Rockin' The Suburbs

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's the Yeast of my Worries*

"I'm just trying to breastfeed my baby!" I said to the pharmacist, with tears in my eyes and frustration consuming my body.

The thrush infection started to return with a vengance this week in both Elle and me, by Friday I had had it. I called my OB's office and pleaded with them to put me on some sort of medication because her medication wasn't treating me like the pediatrician said it would. The infection was beginning to rage through my system (gross, I know, seriously) and the insides of her cheeks were dotted with white patches. Don't even get me started on our diapering situation, her bottom is a red, raw, splotchy mess. Every four hours we're treating each other, she's more than likely just swallowing the solution that should be coating her tongue, how do you get a 3 week old to swish? Grr. And me, well I'll leave you without all the gorey details of my trials.

So anyway, the pharmacy said they never got the call-in from my OB when I went to get the script on Friday night. Of course it was after 5pm and I couldn't get through to a doctor, I left a message and got no response. Saturday was a bit of a whirlwind, I think I was trying to ignore the problem, but this morning while hanging at our playgroup one of my mom friends said she and her daughter battled it for 6 months and at one point it got so bad she had it as well, in her mouth and down her throat. OH. MY. GOD. So we arrived back home and I immediately called the pediatrician, they called in a new script for Elle, this would be stronger and is thankfully just one dose a day. Then I called my general practitioner to see if they could call in something for me and after three phone calls back and forth with a nurse who didn't quite understand what I needed told me to call my OB. Frustrated and pissed I finally got through to the OB, she said she would call the pharmacy herself and call in the script, gave me some words of encouragement (praise the lord it's only one pill a day for ten days, this is so much easier than the previous scenario) and wished me well. An hour or so later I went to pick up the magic potions and the pharmacist breaks the news to me that our insurance hasn't approved the prescriptions and it might be up to three days before they can give me the medications.

Three days? I started to cry. Thankfully I was in my car in the drive thru and thankfully it was an understanding female pharmacist. I said, isn't this a common ailment, why has it been so hard for me to get this prescription? I just want to get better and I can't let this infection go untreated for three more freaking days. She was as confused as I was, said that I could pay them in full and sympathetically gave us a discount on one of the items. So $95 later I had our three prescriptions and said I would fight the insurance company on Monday to get reimbursed.

I've had moments where I just want to give up on breastfeeding, but I can't do it. I won't give in. She's too young, she needs the comfort and she's a champion nurser. Sometimes you've got to take the long road, for whatever reason. Thankfully she's a fabulously easy baby in every other way.

*Alternate titles: Beauty and the Yeast, Yeast of Burden (sorry I couldn't resist!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Window Shopping

We finally have draft-free, insulated windows in our living room! We've been living with drafty, poorly installed windows for three years, we could practically see the money slipping through the gaping window sills every winter, but finally we're on the mend! Yesterday we had two of the three windows in our living room replaced. Thanks to the delivery guy who dropped the third one and broke it, we're going to look kind of funky for the next week until the replacement comes in.

Out with the old.....(see the condensation and cloudiness!)

and in with the new (don't worry the one on the left will soon be the same as the one on the right!)

In other news our living room looked like this morning...

and my lovely and supportive husband, knowing full well that I've got a huge case of cabin fever and haven't been out of the house in days told me to go. Get out. Go shopping, get yourself a Starbucks coffee, use the credit card, do whatever, just go, have fun, enjoy yourself. So I fed Elle, he made an in-case-of-emergency bottle then put Luke down for a nap, and was picking up the destruction as I dashed out the door.

Sheer bliss.

I wandered through Target, purchased some shoes at Payless, skipped the coffee, dodged crazy-holiday shoppers, felt rejuvinated and headed home to my three blessings.

New windows, new shoes, and a great family. Life is grand.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Big Brother Love

There are no words that can top this moment, just a huge swelling heart full of sweet mama love. What gets me the most is his chubby toddler hand carressing her delicate little head. Such a gentleman already.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The antics of two under two

We've been home one week as a full-fledged family of four and the poop has hit the, um, tub.

In one week we've been diagnosed with thrush (Elle and me), croup (Luke), and a sinus/ear infection (me). The doc won't treat my sinus infection with antibiotics as it will make the thrush worse for both of us so I have to use a neti pot to clean my sinuses out. I'm not sure that the neti pot is working yet or not. Tonight we put Luke in the steamy bathroom and then sent him out into the cold air (doctor's suggesting for ridding him of The Croup topped off with a teaspoon of benadryl), he was pissed and confused as to what the hell we were doing to him. After all that John put him in the tub to kick off the nighttime routine of tub/books/bed.

I was doing the dishes and all I heard was, "he pooped in the toilet! Honey! He pooped in the toilet!" Confused by this I went into the bathroom where John was hiking Luke out of the tub and I said, "toilet?? He pooped in the toilet??"

Uh, no. He pooped in the tub. The craziness of it had his father tongue-tied.

Huge poop in the tub. He's never done this before. So as I stared at the poopy tub and thought um, how do we clean this, Ellie starts screaming bloody murder.

Calgon take me away.

Thankfully it's almost 9:30, Luke's been in bed for two hours and no barking seal noises have been heard. Cross your fingers that we've somehow cured him.

Ellie's arrival

We woke early on the morning of October 22, anticipation and anxiousness filled the house as we clumsily got ourselves ready. Luke had spent the night at my brother's house as we were scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 6am. Scheduled. It was all planned out, it would be routine. Arrive at the hospital at 6am, register and check-in downstairs, find our room in the Snuggery and get prepped with an IV, catheter, etc. John was to change into his "daddy scrubs" and we'd walk ourselves down the hall to the operating room and have ourselves a baby.

I had myself in a tizzy, too anxious, too aware of what was about to happen, already being a mom to one I was petrified of something going wrong during the surgery. I almost passed out when they stuck me with the IV, seriously they had to use the "smelling salts" on me to whip me out of the tunnel I was going down. John thought if I had to smell it he should too so the nurse waved it under his nose and he practically jumped out of his skin. It's potent stuff alright. So after that calamanity I thought for sure I had myself together, it was going to be fine, I could do it.

As we were waiting in the recovery room while they prepped the operating room the anesthesiologist came to tell us how the spinal would go and what the side-effects would/could be. All I heard him say was that it was common to shake, vomit, and have a terrible headache after all was said and done. Okay I thought, well I shook last time so I'm sure that will happen again, but the anxiety started to creep back up at the thought of the huge-ass needle numbing 90% of my body. And at that moment they said they were ready for me. John was asked to wait until I was fully prepped and they would get him when it was time, he kissed me, wished me good luck and told me to stay strong. The needle went in okay, I didn't flinch like I thought I would but it certainly felt weird on my left side and I kept telling them that. I dont' know if it was normal or not, but within a few seconds I was completely warm and numb. I thought, Oh my God, I'm here, it's happening, the past 9 months are over, we're having a baby, in just a few minutes I'm going to meet her. It was overwhelming. And then I started to gag. Convulse even. Laying flat on my back with my head turned to the right I started to throw up. Flourescent green bile was spewing everywhere. I was choking and gagging and the nurses were clammering for one of those u-shaped pepto pink recepticals for me. John finally came in and before he entered they were trying to clean up the floor of puke and then the gagging started again. I remember him saying, "oh honey, no, it's okay" with every convulsion. I must say it's particularly hard to throw-up while on your back and completely numb all over.

With all that distraction I had no clue that they had started the surgery already and within minutes Ellie Grace was out. There was much commotion and betting going on regarding how much she weighed and John won the bet with a guess of 9.6, father knows best. She wasn't crying right away, and I couldn't see her all that well for the first few minutes and then like with Luke, off they went with her with John in tow leaving me to be sewn up.

When I was wheeled out of the OR and into the recovery room the first thing I saw was John walking around with little Ellie snuggly cradled in the crook of his arm. The excitement and anticipation were over and we were finally going to get a chance to coo over the little one together. I held her, finally, and we commented on how much she looked like her brother when he was born.

And then it stopped. The nurses looked at her, noticed her lips turning blue, mentioned something about TTN (transient tachypnea of the newborn) and said they had to take her to the Special Care Nursery. Dr. Finkowski said not to worry it was common and they were just being extra careful. John went to find my mom and I was left there to be monitored for the next hour or so before being wheeled back to my room where I hoped to rejoin my baby.

The rest of the day was a blur, they mentioned that she maybe had pneumonia or an infection, that her breathing was rapid, she was on oxygen and was going to need antibiotics. We might be in for a longer stay, it was all up in the air at that point. They had to do bloodwork, a blood culture, and an xray. And since I had a spinal I couldn't get out of bed until 10pm or so that evening if at all.

Scheduled and planned and routine went out the window.

I finally did see her that night however. John brought me to the nursery in a wheelchair, we felt like an old couple slowly wandering the hospital halls. We sat there and teared up as we looked at our helpless daughter. She was hooked up to two broad-spectrum IV antibiotics, an IV for nourishment, an oxygen hood covered her head and there was a thin tube down her throat that was sucking out all the mucus she had inhaled that was causing the infection. Her breathing was fast and shallow, no deep breaths, just panting. Her rate of breathing was 128 breaths per minute compared to a normal infant who breathes 40 breaths per minute, it was exhausting to watch. The nurses said that while not that common, it happens and usually resolves itself in a matter of days. They warned us to be prepared to stay for a week, that it could be pneumonia which requires seven days of treatment. And in the end that's just what happened.

For the next three days we danced between visiting her in the special care nursery where all we could do was stare at her and pray to visiting with family and friends who stopped in with flowers and gifts, cards and hugs. It was emotionally draining, we had a baby and yet we couldn't hold her or feed her or barely even touch her. Friday night the nurses said that most likely she'd be off the oxygen by morning as her breathing was down to the 80s and 90s. I didn't want to get my hopes up so I tricked myself into thinking that they never said that, I couldn't handle a "most likely" I needed a yes or no. Early the next morning I went down to see her as I couldn't sleep and the nurse who was caring for her was just about to change her sheets and asked me to hold her while she did so. It was heavenly. In the twilight of the early morning hours I sat in the rocking chair and held my baby for real, she was hooked up to wires and IVs and we almost all got completely entangled with each other but it was the most precious five minutes I could have ever asked for. Her black hair was dewey and damp from being under the moist oxygen and her grip was strong, she held onto my finger with such intensity that I knew we'd all come out of this stronger.

Later that day she was off of the oxygen and I finally got to feed her, John got to hold her and we had our moment of fawning over her as we should have three days before. She quickly progressed to rooming in with us for most of the day but had to spend the night in the nursery for monitoring. I was thankful for every precious moment, when she was with me she barely spent anytime in her "crib", all we did was snuggle and sleep and stare at each other. Of course then the jaundice set in and she was back in the nursery and had to be "under the lights" for 24 hours. I was still able to feed her but the cuddle time was taken away. On her one week birthday we were discharged and sent home for good. A clean bill of health, a happy and content baby and relieved parents.

It was a long road Ellie, so many people were there for us, praying and hoping. Your dad and Will made wishes in the hospital fountain and your brother, too young to fully understand certainly looked over you with real honest concern. We love you, you were worth the wait.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to Prepare for a Baby Sister

Consult Dr. Spock on how to deal with sibling rivalry.

Make sure the bouncy seat works properly.

Be sure to check out the siblings crib, test the mattress and confirm that yes, she'll be comfy in her new surroundings.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Running the Audible

John says we're running the audible (apparently this is a last minute change in football). It's the eleventh hour and all along we've been calling her Ellie. However, when we first thought of names for Luke we were dead set on Lauren Grace and Luke Thomas. Clearly we had Luke T. and thought if we were to have a girl someday that Luke and Lauren maybe didn't go together, two names with "L"? Too similar to Luke and Laura from General Hospital circa 1985?

I love the name Lauren. John agrees. Now were waffling on the little one's name and think we need to see her to decide. I thought we could do Lauren Elizabeth-Grace Stevens, but well her initials would be LEGS.

Any thoughts anyone? I keep asking Luke his opinion and all I get is a wide open mouthed glare.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heading in the Right Direction

Ellie Grace has finally turned herself around and is no longer breech. Of course this doesn't change our c-section plans but gives the doctor a better indication of what is going on on the inside. I'm glad she's not THAT stubborn and figured out how to follow rank so to speak. We're scheduled to arrive at the hospital before 7:30am next Wednesday and if all goes well she should be out by 8am and I should be back in my room by 9:30/10am. This is an extreme contrast to Luke's birth which took longer than a day and a half and I barely saw him the first night he was born. Thank the Lord for modern medicine!

I am currently participating in the Extreme Nesting Challenge. A challenge that is self-inflicted. I'm out of work from this week through January 5 and of course I couldn't just sit and twiddle my thumbs with my feet up. As the old Italians say, "Idle hands are the work of the devil."

I've got beef stew in the crock (some for dinner tonight and the rest to freeze) and spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove to make and freeze a lasagne. The freezer is already stocked with a spinach quiche and chicken pot pie. My sister in law also supplied us with some creamy tomato and wild rice soup that is also nestled into a corner of the good ole ice box. The floors are mopped, I scrubbed them on my hands and knees, twice. I also swiffered and vaccuumed my way through our humble abode. All of the beds are stripped down to their mattresses, I flipped ours too, and the washer and dryer are in full force, washing everything from bed clothes to onesies. All I have left to do is pick up our bedroom so that the bassinette fits in there nicely, pack our bags for the hospital, and um put my feet up.

Ellie and I are headstrong this week, keeping busy in anticipation of whats to come!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Showered in Pink

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur between working full-time, weekly check-ups at the doctor, jury duty, and the everyday craziness of life topped off with some family "stuff" that makes me sad. All of a sudden we're in the last full week of being a family of three. The time has flown and I haven't really taken it all in, or relaxed enough to relish the fact that this just might be the last time I am ever pregnant. We've received some girly pink gifts here and there but all in all there hasn't really been the hoopla or build up of anticipation as there was with Luke. I know that's part of what happens when you have subsequent children, there just isn't as much time to "anticipate" when you're chasing a toddler.

Today, though, today I was pleasantly surprised. My lovely coworkers (www.designtramp.com why can't I create a link!! GRR!) threw us a shower in which John helped with the guest list. I was expecting to arrive at a Halloween kid party and as we walked in I saw my nephew sitting in his Elvis costume at a coffee table full of pink packages and ribbons galore. Mrs. Potter and my mom represented the East End well, I certainly didn't anticipate that they would be part of the afternoon. It was a great day with great friends and great food. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. When I left NYC in 2002 all of my coworkers at the time thought I was making a mistake, that clearly there was no creative life outside of Manhattan. They all questioned what I would do for work in Glens Falls? I am so proud to lead the life that I do and to be part of such a fantastic group of creative, and compassionate people.

I'm so excited to meet you Ellie Grace and let me tell you, you're going to be one stylin' little lady:)

Friday, October 3, 2008


It's 4am, I've been up since 3am. This pregnancy-induced insomnia is evil.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Should I Be Worried?

He's got a love for poker chips and football, and comes complete with cute little devilish eyes and a shit-eating grin.

T Minus Three and a Half Weeks

It feels at times like the baby might just fall out, but the doc checked and laughed at me as there is no chance of any dilation happening in the near future.

I have an ear infection.

I'm doubting my abilities to handle two children under two and remain sane while doing so.

I want to wash my hardwood floors but then think, "what's the point, they're just going to be covered with oatmeal, apple chunks and cheese before they're even dry."

I can't wear my wedding rings or any sort of "cute" shoe anymore.

I'm kind of excited to be in the hospital and have someone take care of me, but know that I'll miss Luke and feel huge mama guilt for leaving him those three nights.

I'm trying not to get worried that Luke is 15 months old and still only walking (read: taking a few steps once or twice a day) when he feels like it. He'd rather keep on crawling.

We still need to get a mattress for Ellie's crib.

Um, I've started to waddle. Like really waddle.

And as the cheesy country song goes I know in a few years "You're (I'm) gonna miss this".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The joke was on me

I made a joke a few weekends ago, not really thinking at all that it would come true and today that joke was in fact a reality.

John was asked by our very close friends to be the godfather for their second daughter, the baptism just so happened to be on the same day as my cousin's wedding which was also happening in the same church. We brought Luke with us to the baptism and then scooted him off to my brother's house to spend the day with his cousins. After getting him settled with my sister in law's parents we ran back to the baptism reception for half an hour before we were to head to the church again for the wedding. Everyone thought it was so funny that we had to attend a baptism and a wedding in the same church on the same day. I joked. I said that we were celebrating all of the sacraments at once. Then I realized a funeral is a sacrament, so I took it back and said, well we can skip the funeral thing, we only want to celebrate happy occasions.

Yesterday we had a funeral.

My father's sister passed away from brain cancer last Thursday night. She lived a short and tough life. I ache for her 13 year old son, he resembles my father at that age, the eyebrows, the lanky body. My father's picture lay by her side in the casket. It was a tiny Navy portrait, a young vibrant man full of promise and hope, determination and pride. After he passed away she was diagnosed and he became her guardian angel. She was always asking my mom for pictures of him to keep by her side and still he was there. Today I can only think that they are sitting down to cups of coffee with my grandparents, telling stories, remembering. It was a hard day as she was the first person in our immediate family to pass on after my father. The two youngest in their family are no longer here, that just doesn't seem to make sense to me.

I sat there, unable to look at Mark (her 13 year old son) wondering if my father was here what would he do? Would he take him out to lunch once a week and try to mentor him? Would he get him enrolled in Big Brothers/Big Sisters? I know he wouldn't be able to idly watch and not offer any help or support. I felt guilt for not having that in me. I feel like I do, but then I think of how little time I have for my own child. Is this selfish, should I buck up, should I do something, will it even be accepted if I try? He has ADHD and comes from a life I am so not familiar with, will I even know what to say?

Afterward we spent a few hours at my Aunt Phyllis's house. I listened to stories of their childhood, who was born at home, who was born in the hospital, how Aunt Pat always went into Aunt Phyllis's closet after she left for work and would rummage through her freshly starched clothes to pick out her outfit for the day and about the time she was caught doing so. Of course the conversation had to take a turn as the Center clan can never tell "clean" stories. All six kids have birthdays in November and December, I thought that was interesting, I didn't know that until yesterday. Aunt Phyllis piped up with, "well my father's birthday was in February! That was his present, once a year!" Oh my, I didn't need to know this about my grandparents! It was great comic relief though and so appropriate for the company.

Yesterday was another reminder that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. I left work to pick up Luke, driving there I had tears in my eyes feeling so happy and lucky to have all that I have. I composed myself, got out of the car and saw him and the babysitter waiting for me at the door. He teetered and tottered and took 5 steps to me, unassisted, squealing with delight. It was the perfect end to such a sad day. I melted at he fell into me and wrapped himself around me.

I'm continually learning that I have to keep the past in the present and keep moving forward but realize that everyday is precious.

Rest in peace Aunt Debbie.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pregnancy Brain Strikes Again

The water was sparkling, the wind was whipping through our hair, Luke was all asmiles at the waves, the ducks that followed us, and the general bobbing and floating that is a boat ride on The Queen aka Lake George.

There I sat taking in all of his expressions of glee and worry, of true happiness at watching his dad jump off the boat for a dip, and of his little sweaty body, stiff as could be in his life vest snuggle next to me to catch a few moments of shut eye. I took the pictures in my mind because you guessed it, I left the camera at home. It as a gorgeous day spent with friends and a few unforgettable hours aboard the Camp Burleigh Boat. Luke in a life vest is just too adorable for words, priceless I tell you and you'll have to take my word for it this time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Fabulous Life of Luke

He can sleep like a rock for almost 12 hours straight. I'm lucky if I get 7 solid uninterrupted hours. Maybe I need to wear Depends to bed. Okay maybe not.

He thinks it's fun to tear through all of the clean and folded clothes that never made it farther than the couch or in the laundry basket 'cause that's either already full of clean clothes or he's using it as a fort for his toys. Pretty sweet.

He literally shovels food in his mouth. At least he's being polite and trying to use it as a spoon.

His little sandal shoes have officially mixed in with ours. I glanced over at the shoe pile and noticed this the other day. Once again it is eye opening to see your childs shoes, not booties or Robeez, but his shoes sitting next to yours. On our evening walk tonight John said, "Do you think we're in the stage of our life where everyday is the same as the last but the time speeds by faster than we realize? Like we're going to wake up tomorrow and Luke's going to be asking for the car keys and Ellie's going to want money for the mall." The first year has seemed that way, I feel like it was just yesterday that we were keeping track of how many times he nursed, pooped and peed and then today I walk into the living room to find my son standing in the middle of room, pointing at me and sternly telling me, "no!" Whoosh. It's flying and only going to go faster. We're anticipating bumps and hanging on for all of the new milestones to come.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Saw God Today

I looked into the face of a ghost today. A familiar and gentle face, a kind and tired face. It was comforting and moving and tear filled.

We moved from Third Street across town to Prospect Street when I was almost 5 years old. As you may have read Prospect Street is where my father's family settled when they landed in Glens Falls from the far reaches of Bari, Italy. Prospect Street was home to mostly Italians, vineyards and wine cellars, chicken coupes and elaborate gardens were (and in some cases) still are the staple of every home. On the far end of the street lived an Irish-Catholic family with a young girl whose mother died when she was just a teenager. She lived there with her aunt, and honestly I don't know much about her childhood, just that she married a protestant named Richard Potter from South Glens Falls. Her aunt passed away and they grew their family of five in the same house she was raised in, the same house that my father grew up next to before his family moved to Dix Avenue.

The Potter's had five children, the youngest being my brothers age which meant they were all quite a bit older than I was. I looked up to the girls and thought the boys were totally cute. They were always around playing basketball or street hockey, teaming up on paper routes and getting into general neighborhood trouble with the old folks, losing stray baseballs to crochety old men and the like. When their oldest daughter married her very upstanding Navy boyfriend the party ended up at The Potter's house where the men played quarters in the kitchen and the women chit-chatted. Legend has it that my father was stuck in the far corner of the room with a full bladder. The beer was flowing and my dad was riled up, when they wouldn't let him out he stood up and walked across the kitchen table to get to the men's room. It's been more than 20 years and when the old gang gets together someone is bound to bring up the time "Tom Center walked across the Potter's kitchen table."

I remember at their youngest son's wedding, my father whispered something to their other daughter who was going through a tough time in her marriage, he brought her to tears. They hugged, she thanked him for saying whatever it was he said. I asked him later what he said to her and he wouldn't tell me. It was a moment between them and I respected that. I still wondered though. Obviously it was a kind, fatherly thing, he felt for her.

Ironically today, her father whispered in my ear.

Our power was out in the kitchen. No fridge, no lights, no dishwasher. Ack. I called my brother to see who we should call and he suggested Mr. Potter. John didn't want to bother him, he's retired, he won't take any money, what if he gets hurt, yadda, yadda, yadda. But I called him anyway. He updated the electrical in our house, switched out light fixtures, added new outlets where we needed them, all for free. Well we gave him a nice gift certificate but he told me we broke his rules, he didn't want anything. So I called him and thought if it's over his head he'll tell us, if it's something easy then no worries.

He was a little stumped when he came over at 8:30am, very apologetic of his appearance as he'd just woken up. After about an hour and a half he thought he had it figured out and told me to get to work. He was going to go home for a bit as we had the fridge plugged into another outlet so really there was no huge emergency. He said he's come back later in the morning and spend time testing what he thought was the problem. He certainly did not want us to call an electrician and waste our money.

As he was leaving, with his hand on the door he said, "it must be hard for you? To move on without your dad, to have a son and a daughter and not have him here. But you have to move on, I know it's hard. I pray for your family every night, you're all so special."

I started to cry. He barely said boo to me my entire childhood and only after my father died did I come to exchange more than pleasantries with him. I know my father's death greatly affected him. He made Luke an Adirondack chair when he was born and is always here if we need him to help get my mom's snowblower running, or put the lawnmower away for the winter. It's like he's become the patriarch of the street.

I told him how lucky we are to have neighbors like him and that I felt in a way like he was telling me exactly what my father would be telling me. It felt almost like I was having a heart to heart with my dad for a second. I was looking at Mr. Potter but talking to my father.

He teared up and said, "I could never be your dad, but you know I love you. Now I have to go, stop making me cry!" And off he went, laughing a bit with embarrassment.

He said some other things throughout this short 2 minute conversation that I guess I should keep between me and him as that's what my father would do I'm sure. It was a moment, an understanding and one to keep close, not to exploit.

These moments make me so grateful for having grown up here, for having close family ties, for in the true sense, loving your neighbor.

I've been to church
I've read the book
I know he's here
But I don't look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today
-George Strait, "I Saw God Today"

I can't post just some of the lyrics so here's the whole thing, this song is too much

Just walked down the street to the coffee shop
Had to take a break
I'd been by her side for 18 hours straight
Saw a flower growin' in the middle of the sidewalk
Pushin' up through the concrete
Like it was planted right there for me to see
The flashin' lights
The honkin' horns
All seemed to fade away
In the shadow of that hospital at 5:08
I saw God today

I've been to church
I've read the book
I know he's here
But I don't look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today

Saw a couple walkin' by they were holdin' hands
Man she had that glow
Yeah I couldn't help but notice she was startin' to show
Stood there for a minute takin' the sky
Lost in that sunset
Splash of amber melted in the shades of red

I've been to church
I've read the book
I know he's here
But I don't look
Near as often as I should
Yeah, I know I should
His fingerprints are everywhere
I just slowed down to stop and stare
Opened my eyes and man I swear
I saw God today

Got my face pressed up against the nursery glass
She's sleepin' like a rock
My name on her wrist
Wearin' tiny pink socks
She's got my nose, she's got her mama's eyes
My brand new baby girl
She's a miracle
I saw God today

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Where's The Baby?

We've been trying to talk to Luke about "the baby". He really has no clue what a baby is or how it's impending arrival is going to affect his life. We show him my belly and have him put his hands on it, he slobbers on it, sticks his finger in my belly button and laughs hysterically.

When I got home from work today I asked him if he wanted to say hi to the baby, he cruised over to me as I lay on the floor amongst all of his toys and open mouth kissed my big 'ole belly, we both laughed and shrieked and the baby kicked. She was I'm sure, rudely awakened from her slumber. I moved on to cooking dinner and entertaining him, with bouts of disciplining him and keeping him away from the stove, outlets and tv buttons. These things have recently become the most fascinating items in our house. As he stood in the corner looking sheepishly at me, but still grinning I asked him where the baby was and he stuck out his belly, rubbed it like a buddha and laughed.

Too cute!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How does this happen?

Just looking through my Photo Booth pictures o' fun, and literally watching my life flash by.

Can we just slow time down a little? Please?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Are you pregnant?"

We spent the weekend doing house chores and babysitting the nephews, napping and debating what to do with our house (again) and by 6pm with no dinner plans in sight we decided to head to The Harvest for a cheap night out. It was completely packed with summer tourists and locals alike, we were handed a vibrating buzzer thing and told it would only be about a 10-15 minute wait. Not too bad we thought and headed outside to wait on the stoop rather than wait inside getting bumped in the bump. As we stood there Luke greeted and smiled at the oncomers and those heading home with their doggy bags. One lady exited the door with her daughter, son, and mother, they were all in their Sunday best and as she held the door for her mother she whispered to me while looking at my expansive stomach, "are you pregnant?"

"Uhh, yeah!" I laughed, kind of like, are you kidding? I'm totally pregnant, LOOK at me woman!

She proceeds to tell me how I need to hire a doula.

"Oh, yeah, thanks, but it'll be a planned c-section, so luckily I won't have to go through the pain of contractions."

"It doesn't matter, get one," she insists. "Or at least hire a student, they're cheap and even free."

Okay. Sure thanks again.

Then her mother passes me by, John was holding Luke. She exclaims, "that's the best age and to be pregnant to boot, what a blessing. I was like that for many years, I had 11 kids."

Her granddaughter quips, "yeah, she's a machine!"

So I retort with, "Two is enough for me, I can't imagine 11."

The grandmother leaves with, "well back in my day you could afford 11, you couldn't today, nope, not today, you just couldn't do it."

And so the strangers with pregnancy advice begins. Thankfully I've seemed to avoid it the past 7 months.

A) What if I actually wasn't pregnant and was otherwise infertile with a distended stomach? You NEVER know.

B) What if I actually was pregnant with sextuplets, that would make 7 kids, could you "do" 7 kids in today's world? Or would we be destitute and up a crick?

C) Am I just being overly punchy?

Vacation Updation

Luke's first beach experience! Life IS good!

So it's been awhile, eh? Vacationing with a busy 1 year old wore me out and well I guess I just needed a blogging break. Maine was fabulous, though rainy and although we've been at this parenting thing for more than a year we didn't realize how different vacation would be too. He was up at 5:30am everyday, and due to the tiny yet cute house, was bunking with grandma. So we had to rush in quickly to save her some extra sleep while we corraled him in the upper living area (yes the kitchen/living/dining room was on the top floor). Somehow she and Joyce slept through his early morning gear up and go action.

We also realized that no longer can we selfishly lolly-gag in beach chairs reading indulgent magazines and when the sun beats too hard, go frolic in the ocean.

My idea of vacation bliss (though actually I did get to do this a bit as John was super-dad!)

He ate sand and seaweed, thankfully he was spared ingesting any seagull pooh.

Daddy tried to keep him contained in what he called, "Luke-A-Traz"

We chased him all over as he met friends, tried to keep him from eating whatever he could find in the sand, and happily sat in the crashing surf regarding the fact that our suits were filling up with wet sand. It is the beach afterall and I'm not complaining. Seriously. It was just kind of funny how we were so excited to have a vacation, thinking it would be like all of our other sans children vacations. A totally relaxing, sleep in, do what you want week off. How naive of us. Obviously parents don't get weeks off and vacations as we knew them are now different. Just another enlightening experience in parenthood.

He totally loved the ocean, no matter the temperature!

He ate his weight in clam chowder and shamelessly flirted with every waitress we met. Grandma and Joyce certainly helped keep him entertained with long walks on the beach and gave us a night off to dine alone. Even though we had lots of rain and even a tornado warning we made the best of it, enjoyed our ocean view and loved falling asleep to the lullabye of crashing waves. On our last day at the beach as we were packing up all the gear I looked around and said to John, "are you sure we've got everything?" He put his arm around me, kissed me on the cheek and said, "honey, the only things we're leaving here are our memories."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waitin' on a woman (and a girl)

My mom used to drive my dad crazy as she was always and forever late. She'd come home late from work, she'd be the last one in the car for family trips or even to go to church. She always had one more thing to do, one more thing to get, to search for, to unplug, to turn off. I can even remember her doing her nails in the car once, as in painting them. That's no easy task. My dad would wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes impatiently, sweating, pacing, not wanting to be late as he was always on military time, which is about 10 minutes early to everything. It drove him mad and at the same time I know he found it deeply endearing. He would wait in the car and honk the horn which made her crazy, she'd run around frantic and then I think at certain times she'd slow down even more just to maybe piss him off a little. In a loving way of course. He was always the first one showered and dressed for wherever we were off to and like I said he could sweat in below zero weather so nine times of ten he'd pace and sweat a little, always wiping his brow with a look of, "geez Mar, what is taking sooo long" frustration.

I headed to Slingerlands this afternoon with my wonderfully supportive sister-in-law and nephew in tow for a level 2 ultrasound. They needed to check for some genetic disorders and while I know this is fairly routine, as it seems to happen to everyone I know and happened to me when I was pregnant with Luke, to say I was not a tad nervous would be a lie. We're leaving for Maine this weekend which I am so incredibly anxious for and at the same time once again saddened with the fact that my dad isn't here to see Luke kick his feet in the crashing surf. So while driving into work this morning thinking of all of this and thankful for all that I have I heard this song. I was listening and thinking my dad could so relate and was smiling and laughed a little, and then the last bit of lyrics were sung and I almost had to pull over. I was bawling, nose running, tears streaming. It felt good to cry and it felt sad at the same time. It also felt comforting, like my dad was telling me, "she's not ready yet, she's still got things to do and I can wait. I might be pacing the halls of heaven but she's worth waiting for."

So we'll enjoy the sand and surf next week and think of you.

Now to the delicious news of the day and to end on a high-note, we're waitin' on a girl!!! Eek. A healthy, kicking, active little girl scheduled to arrive in mid October.

A girl.

Sittin' on a bench at West Town Mall
He sat down in his overalls and asked me
You waitin' on a woman
I nodded yeah and said how 'bout you
He said son since nineteen fifty-two I've been
Waitin' on a woman

When I picked her up for our first date
I told her I'd be there at eight
And she came down the stairs at eight-thirty
She said I'm sorry that I took so long
Didn't like a thing that I tried on
But let me tell you son she sure looked pretty
Yeah she'll take her time but I don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

He said the wedding took a year to plan
You talk about an anxious man, I was nervous
Waitin' on a woman
And then he nudged my arm like old men do
And said, I'll say this about the honeymoon, it was worth it
Waitin' on a woman

And I don't guess we've been anywhere
She hasn't made us late I swear
Sometimes she does it just 'cause she can do it
Boy it's just a fact of life
It'll be the same with your young wife
Might as well go on and get used to it
She'll take her time 'cause you don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

I've read somewhere statistics show
The man's always the first to go
And that makes sense 'cause I know she won't be ready
So when it finally comes my time
And I get to the other side
I'll find myself a bench, if they've got any
I hope she takes her time, 'cause I don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

Honey, take your time, cause I don't mind
Waitin' on a woman

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

So within 24 hours of posting my semi-desperate-please-invite-us-on-your-boat plea we have been offered to join two separate groups of friends on their respective boats.

We are not worthy! But thank you, thank you!

This Sunday we'll be joining our lovely babysitter and her family of 6 on their boat and at their campsite. Her husband (and some of their kids) has been camping and boating near none other than Shelving Rock since last week. So this weekend we'll be one of those lolly-gagging groups of boaters that I was oh so jealous of last week.

In August we'll hopefully get to hang out with Vicki and Anthony and some of the other very fun, new parent-former Price Chopper advertising team on the great Sacandaga.

Yay for good friends and beautiful lakes.

To top it all off, John is out playing tennis tonight with a friend and Luke is sound asleep. I am sitting in a clean living room with freshly painted toenails, watching Last Comic Standing, savoring a Lindy's Italian Lemon Ice and thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet.

Life is grand.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thanks for the honesty

Tonight I went shopping with my mom and grandmother for a bridal shower gift for one of my cousins. After wandering the aisles of Target for a clock and some bedding (and of course more diapers for Mr. Luke) we went to the 99 restaurant for dessert. I'm not a fan of chain restaurants, but it was easy for Gram to get to so, sure, the 99 sounded great. My mom dropped us off as close to the door as possible so that Gram wouldn't have to use her walker and then she went to park the car. As the two of us were walking into the mall, Gram slipped her arm through mine and whispered, "I think we're definitely going to have a girl this time!" She's been begging for another girl from one of her grandchildren. There are 5 of us, 4 of of us are married (with 1 about to be in September) and so far we've given her 6 great-grandsons and only 1 great-granddaughter.

So then she proceeds with, "You carry a girl in the front and a boy in the back, and you're carrying all in the front this time."

"Oh, so did I carry all in the back with Luke?" I ask.

"No, you carried Luke ALL OVER!" She proclaimed and then laughed.

At least I never have to know what she's really thinking.

Belated Happy Fourth

We've been a tad bored at the Stevens family camp as of late. Most of our friends are in the same boat as us, happily saddled with babies, and young kids who need naps, routine and early bed times, which leaves little to no room for fun times outside of your air conditioned walls. So when July 4th was upon us and everyone else seemed to have plans (woe is us, I know, I know) we threw the nap out the window, loaded "The Bro" with supplies (aka swimmy diapers, regular diapers, wipes, BPA-free water bottles, bananas, and the like) and headed to Shelving Rock.

We "hiked" in from our parking spot and meandered our way along the water, braving the skantily clad party-goers with their red plastic Solo cups of whatever. I gawked at the boaters lazily spending their day bobbing and speeding on the Lake and watched Luke in awe of the water lapping over the rocks. Ah summer.

"We need a boat," I told John. He retorted with, "we need friends with a boat". True, that would be sweet.

Anyone got a boat we can hang out on some weekend?