Tuesday, December 21, 2010


9:30am Sunday: Babysitter calls to say her mother died unexpectedly and she'd (obviously) need the week off.

9:40am Sunday: Call brother and sister-in-law to tell them the news and secure some babysitting for Ellie. Monday is taken care of. We'll find someone for Tuesday and Wednesday.

10:30am Sunday: John calls his mom. She can watch E on Wednesday but we'll have to drive her down. No problem, except that we have one car and he'll have to leave around 6:45am to be back in time for work.

10:45am Sunday: I call my Aunt Pat, she has doctor's appointments and can't commit to helping on Tuesday.

11am: I call my mom. She offers to use a vacation day to help us out on Tuesday.

Proceed with the day. Attend a family party which means kids don't nap and are overtired.

11am Monday: Call from Luke's teacher that he has pink eye and I need a doctor's note before he can come back to school. Need to pick him up immediately.

11:04am Monday: Call pediatrician's office. Can't get an appointment until Tuesday at 8:30. Call sister-in-law to say Luke is coming over.

11:15am Monday: Rush to school to get Luke. Drive home and get Vigamox, since we are stockpiled with the elixer.

11:30am Monday: Bring Luke to sister-in-laws. Get drops in his eyes. Head back to work.

7:00am Tuesday: Ellie wakes up with a bloody nose.

8:30am Tuesday: My mom arrives and takes over to spend the day with Ellie. I thought for sure Luke was off to school. Luke to the doctor. They decide to swab him for strep. Turns out he has it along with pink eye in both eyes. He's out of school for the rest of the week. Doctor says to make an appointment for Ellie to be checked today as well.

9am Tuesday: Bring script to the pharmacy for Luke. Bring Luke home to Grandma.

10am Tuesday: I have a meeting at work off-site.

11am Tuesday: Go to pharmacy to get Luke's medicine.

11:15am Tuesday: Go home to get medicine into Luke. Ellie screams for medicine too.

1pm Tuesday: John comes to my office to get surplus Vigamox since his eyes are burning.

4:30pm Tuesday: Go home. Make dinner. Wake up Ellie and get her dressed for the doctors.

5:30pm Tuesday: Go to doctor's. Determine that Ellie does not have strep but has a sinus infection and pink eye.

6pm Tuesday: Go back to pharmacy and drop off her script.

6:15pm Tuesday: Home. Eat dinner. Do baths and get kids in pjs.

7pm Tuesday: Luke and I go to pharmacy for 4th time in one day.

7:20pm Tuesday: Begin bedtime. Read books. Sing songs. Brush teeth.

8pm Tuesday: Kids to bed. Do laundry and dishes.

8:20pm Tuesday: Luke insists on his light on and door open. John lays down with him and reads more stories.

9pm Tuesday: Luke spits in his face. John punishes him. Luke throws up. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. Until 10pm when the house is finally quiet.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas wishes

It's Christmas. The time of year where we run around buying things for others, sometimes with great thought and care and sometimes we buy in haste because we don't know what to get, or quite honestly just want to cross them off our list, or to have something, anything to give to them. It's the time of year where stores are crazy, drivers are impatient and the lines for everything are long. We stress ourselves out as we lose sight of what really matters.

My babysitter's mother died last night. It was sudden and unexpected. I remember her telling me a few weeks ago of how they shopped together over the previous weekend and her mom bought all of her four grandchildren lavish gifts which was somewhat out of character for her to do. I can only imagine what it will be like for them open those presents without her present to see their reactions. They will rather be left with a void. Their grandmother won't be there to hug and thank or to even reciprocate the surprise to.

My mom and I went to New York City a few weeks ago as a belated birthday trip. Hers not mine. It was lovely to be just the two of us without any distractions of kids or life in general. I asked her what it was like as a parent to leave my 22 year old smarter-than-you-can-imagine self in New Jersey to start a new phase of my life as a working girl in NYC? We laughed at my insane phone calls home, especially the time when I had locked myself out of my apartment and was on a pay phone near teenaged boys beating themselves up with baseball bats. Oh how smart I was; crying on a pay phone and wanting to be anywhere but where I was. Character building moments, right?

I am grateful for that day in NYC, even though it was crowded and crazy, it was fun.

We ate at a french restaurant with snooty service which I chalked up to part of the NYC experience. We wandered through crowded places like Anthropologie, the Union Square Holiday Market, Bryant Park and Grand Central. We went on The Ride and the whole bus sang Happy Birthday to her.
My mom always made Christmas a big deal. It was magical and special with strong traditions. Our holidays were built on family, surprises, and togetherness (with of course the right amount of crazy shopping days).

Remember the love you have, not the stuff you have. Live without regret.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


If you're in a bad mood or not feeling well you should call us up and we'll put Ellie on the phone. She is in complete love with our Christmas tree and all things related. Snowmen, outdoor lights, Santa, you name it if she sees it she squeals with delight. The way she says "Kissmiss tee" will seriously have you grinning from ear to ear. I keep finding little piles of ornaments scattered about the house; a few on the recliner, one on the kitchen counter, a couple in her room, it cracks me up.


Tonight I was giving her a tubby (aka bath) and she started coughing really hard, the kind of coughing that is overly dramatic and you know is completely fake. I asked her if she was okay and she said, "Mom, I trow up."

You know about the crazy amounts of throw up in our house, isn't it hilarious that now she's imitating it? I tried to not crack up. Then she hit me with this, "I joke."

Her timing was just perfect.

PS the Kissmiss Tee pictures were taken with my iPhone in the dark thus the poor quality.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Don't you hate it when you write a post in your head and it's awesome. I mean seriously awesome. I just did as I sorted the laundry and poof! I sat down to blog it out and it's gone. Ah well.

So here's some recent visual fun! Life is too short for days like yesterday. Smile, live, love, and most of all laugh.

Someone likes Friendly's

The morning of her 2nd birthday, snotty sheets and all. (OMG the guilt of not writing about her big 2nd birthday is looming, as is the fact that I never sent out thank you cards for her gifts. Mother of the year. Right here.)

There are no words just laughter.


Monday, November 22, 2010


I remember the evening so clearly. I was home from New York City, my father had recently lost an election he was campaigning for while simultaneously serving with the Navy. He was gone more than he was home. It was a temporary thing but clearly it was upstanding and honorable. He also wanted to serve the people once again, as a County Supervisor. He thought somehow that he could do both. He campaigned, he traveled back and forth to Connecticut, he petitioned and walked door to door. I remember walking through the old folks home with him and one lady thought I was his wife, we couldn't stop laughing about that. He was fun, he was smiling, he was proud of his effort. He tried so hard and in the end he lost.

A very good friend of his told him (I'm paraphrasing here), "What did you expect, you weren't here, no one thought you could do both. You didn't give it your all."

My father was completely dejected. Lost. Sullen. He beat himself up. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He loved this town. He loved the Navy. His twinkle was lost. On this night I found him in a frustrated state, a side of him I had never seen before. He asked me to drive him to the local VFW. I asked him why and he barked back at me. I was scared actually, but I drove him there as I begged him to tell me what was going on. I watched him walk up the stairs with his head hanging low. I ran inside to him because this wasn't my father and I was worried for him. I sat on the stool next to him for a few minutes while he stared straight ahead and then I kissed him on the forehead and left.

It's a memory I keep buried, one that cuts me to the bone. I called my brother when I got home (I think my mom was at a meeting while this was going on) and thankfully he drove over and picked him up.

I feel that sullen pain tonight. That dejection and worry. My twinkle is lost. I have beaten myself up and at the same time I am confused as hell. The VFW is ironically at the very other end of the street that I live on. I want to run, I want to scream, I want to cry.

I played with Luke tonight before I made dinner. I wanted to laugh and forget the day. I asked him to never grow up, to just stay exactly as he is right now. He laughed in my face and said, "Mawmmm, I need to grow like a tree silly Mommy." Then he hugged me tight and said, "don't worry, I love you to moon and back and again."

You're little hands wrapped around my finger
And, it's so quiet in the world tonight
You're little eyelids flutter cause you're dreaming
So, I tuck you in
Turn on your favorite night light
To you, everything's funny
You got nothing to regret
I'd give all I had, honey
If you could stay like that

Oh, darling don't you ever grow up
Don't you ever grow up
Just stay this little
Oh, darling don't you ever grow up
Don't you ever grow up
It can stay this simple

I won't let nobody hurt you, won't let no one break your heart
And no one will desert you
Just try to never grow up, and never grow up

Friday, November 19, 2010

Giving Thanks

I love this town. I love good design. When I moved back here from NYC I knew I would have to settle for a job. Afterall, I left a nearly perfect position working with really fun people in the greatest city in the world. I never thought I'd really be able to make a living doing that same thing in the greatest small town in the world.

My college roommate and I have fretted and dreamed about opening a retail store someday. We used to send each other emails with ideas for store names. She wanted to buy a letterpress, I wanted to have fun and make people laugh. She lives in Minneapolis. I live here. We realized along the way that this was merely a dream and that we are both too invested in our lives to take on that kind of risk. She has branched out and worked so hard to have her dream job and I have been blessed to work for people who are willing to take the risk. The risk of opening a beautiful retail store full of charm and vintage urban awesomeness. A risk that affords me the opportunity to have fun, creating beautiful things inspired by our small part of the world.

Thanksgiving is next week. I am grateful, thankful, blessed and honored.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I know, I know. I need to write about Ellie's 2nd birthday bash (which she shared with John who turned 35) and I will. I'll also send out the thank you notes soon too. Oh the guilt. Right now though my knees are aching from probably poor form on the treadmill and I'm listening to my husband make a cake, complete with homemade frosting, for work tomorrow. The birthday tradition at his company is to have the person who had the last birthday make the cake of choice for the next birthday celebrator. He's doing an awesomely endearing job.

Anyway. I just want to share the places I've been visiting lately. They inspire me with their sense of style, their amazingly inspirational attitude, and their determination.

I have felt stuck recently and this makes me want to put on some sneakers and burst out onto the pavement.

In other news after school Luke told Ellie that he missed her today and that he loved her. She replied with, "no." So he said, "I didn't miss you Elle." I kind of laughed to myself, the poor guy felt so rejected and he was being so honestly sweet to her with no prodding from anyone. A few minutes passed and he looked at her and said, "Talk to me Elle."

He is waiting for the day she engages him in conversation and it makes my heart swell. I love these kids. I know I write about how hard life can be with them sometimes but it is seriously the best life ever.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Promises we can't keep

In the morning before I leave him for the day at school Luke always asks me the same question: "You pick me up today right Mommy?"

I respond to him with this as he looks into my eyes with a bit of desperation and on the verge of separation anxiety: "I'll always pick you up at the end of the day Luke. Always. Every day."

Then we hug, kiss and high-five to a great day with big smiles on our faces.

My babysitter lost her best friend to cancer on Saturday. She fought the battle for five years and was a mother to three great kids. I didn't know her all that well but there were days in the summer when I would get to the sitter's house to pick up the kids and she would be holding Ellie on her lap, singing to her and laughing. I've seen her every so often for the last three years and never knew she was sick. She was always so happy and smiling and there was always laughter when she was visiting.

Even though I didn't really know her, I feel the loss. My heart is heavy for her family and I feel a lump in my throat as I promise Luke that I will always be there for him. I know it is overly morose but the hard reality is that we never know what tomorrow will bring.

I am praying and begging that I will live long enough to see my children's children. I'll push it farther than that though because I want to see my great-grandchildren.

I am thankful for every day I have been blessed with. Rest in peace Dianna.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A day in the life*

Alarm goes off at 4:45am.

Leave house for 2 hour workout class at 5:15am

Workout until 7:20am

7:30am arrive home to kids eating breakfast and John in the shower. I sit down for a quick breakfast, dancing between wiping dirty hands, pouring myself a cup of coffee, and cleaning wet cereal off the floor.

7:45am pick out clothes for kids.

7:50am hop in the shower and hear through the muffled sound of the water and fan that Ellie is screaming as John is trying to get her dressed.

8am dry my hair, kiss John goodbye console Ellie or watch as she thrashes herself all over the floor.

8:14am dressed, make-up on, commence bag packing and complaining that the breakfast dishes are still on the table and why didn't I pack the bags the night before?

8:20 tell Luke it's time to get dressed. He can go either way, happily oblige as he watches George or fight me tooth and nail. Ellie screams for "nigh nigh teets"="gummy treats". I say, "okay everyone let's sit down for shoes and coats." Luke happily turns the tv off. Ellie screams for "pot pot" and I have no clue what this means until I realize it means she sees Luke's backpack and wants her own. Luke has his shoes and coat on and is now on the front porch. Ellie is back in her room, trying to get something from her crib and freaking out again. Oh the screaming. Then she chokes on her gummy treat.

8:25 where is Luke? Standing by the car trying to open his door. Ellie is in the house screaming that I have left her. I get him in his seat and go back to get her. She has to do everything herself of course which takes us twice as long.

8:27 Put E in the car and shut the door so she can climb into her seat by herself. Shit I forgot my phone and my wallet. Unlock the door, get what I need. Ellie is still not in her seat.

8:29 fight with E and wrestle her into her carseat against her will as neighbors walk by with their dog staring at me.

8:37 Arrive at sitter.

8:50 Arrive at school with Luke.

9:03 Arrive at work.

4:15 leave work to get Luke at school

4:24 Luke comes running to me across the playground. Best part of the day.

4:30 walk through school, check out his room, empty his locker.

4:40 Arrive at sitter. Recap her day. 2nd best part of the day.

4:44 Drive around to waste time until 5pm so that we can pick up John at work.

5:05 wait in the Travelers parking lot bribing the kids with a Thomas movie on my phone. Or a round of Itsy Bitsy Spider.

5:18 John calls to say he'll be down in a minute.

5:25 everyone screams for dad. 3rd best part of the day.

5:35 arrive home and empty car with the 10 different bags of everyone's daily possessions.

5:45 start dinner, put in a movie, talk to John, post some shit on Facebook.

6pm dinner.

6:30 start baths which starts more fights with kids. John does the dishes. Sometimes one of us hides in our bedroom and watches tv.

7pm play trains, have a dance party in the kitchen, or do ring around the rosy about 10 times.

7:10 read books for 20 minutes

7:30 John tells Luke 2 stories, Ellie turns off every light in the house and says good night to all inanimate objects.

7:45 sit in the recliner and realize we haven't picked up half of the dinner dishes or looked through the immense amount of paperwork we get from school.

8pm clean up, sweep, vacuum, talk

8:40 cycle some laundry and get on the treadmill for 30 minutes

9:10 pick up the toys off the living room floor.

9:14 sit my ass down

*Single parents have my utmost respect.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Parental Confidence

I have a fear of doing the wrong thing or pissing people off or being judged by others. I guess it's normal in a way but as a parent it's a daily struggle. Am I doing the right thing? Did I punish him in the right way? Am I too easy? Did I take that "lesson" too far? Does the babysitter think I'm nuts?

I am learning to trust myself and my parental instincts. Luke has the incredible ability to throw up. It's some kind of crazy skill he's developed to manipulate situations. He doesn't like swim lessons, so he throws up. He doesn't like a particular babysitter so he throws up. On her. He doesn't like the smell of certain foods or places or whatever, so he throws up. If Ellie throws up or has a nasty dirty diaper, you guessed it, he throws up. It is exhausting to deal with.

He's in school now and he's thrown up twice. Once was legitimate. He had a fever, and some other symptoms that day and the next but he was healthy and perfect the rest of the weekend. Eating fine, playing fine, sleeping fine. Then Monday comes and he throws up again at school. He said he's sad at school because he can't find me anywhere. That he's so lonely and he misses me. The desperation in his voice had me almost in tears as I watched him well up and look out the window of the car. I was shocked too, since he has never once cried when I left him at school, he's always happy to go and enjoys his days there. Is he that good of an actor at 3, I don't know.

The school's policy is to send kids home when they throw up. But clearly he wasn't sick the second time. He spent the day at the sitter and ate and played and was the picture of health. I really think he was testing to see if he throws up that he'll get to go home. But this can't be a pattern. I can't keep having to leave work and he can't keep manipulating the situation.

So we went to the doctor today, she wrote us a note for school that says he hyper sensitive to smells and that unless he has a loss of appetite, fever, etc that he is not to be sent home. I felt validated and even though we were talking about these issues in front of him he was happy to oblige his thoughts about school and tell his doctor how much fun he has. In a way it seemed to go over his head as he kissed and hugged me throughout the visit.

We left the doctor's office and headed to school. I handed the note to his teacher and she kind of blew me off. She said she didn't need the note as she half-read it and laughed it off, but I told her to keep it for his file. I was told that if other kids are sick they won't keep him in school but if no one else is they'll work with me to keep in class. I told her I wasn't trying to make a bigger deal about it, but that this has been going on at home for 2 years now. I am confident in how we are handling this. I am his parent. I am doing what I feel is the right thing.

Having said all of that I feel like I am "that" parent. The one the teacher thinks is overbearing and crazy. I guess I better get used to it because I have 15 more years to go.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When you hear Tim McGraw

I went with John to a somewhat nerve-wracking doctor's appointment today. Everything turned out fine in the end thank God. However, as I drove there to meet him the song that came on the radio was "Live Like You Were Dying". We will Tim McGraw. We will.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ruin is a gift

I saw Eat, Pray, Love recently. I really liked it, I cried and laughed even though I didn't really believe that Julia had a weight problem. I mean, come on! The scenery was pure beauty and this bit has stuck with me ever since.

“A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It’s called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it along with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome’s first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins. It’s one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won’t let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we’re afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked around at this place, at the chaos it has endured – the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn’t been so chaotic, it’s just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The British are brilliant

This is all I have today.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Boys of Fall

If you know me, like really know me, you know that I don't like football. I'd rather put away laundry and clean the bathroom than watch a game. I don't understand the plays and I have no desire to figure it out. I don't participate in fantasy football although my husband is constantly in my ear about his team. Paradoxically I love football. I love sitting on the bleachers in the crisp fall air, hearing the thud of helmets hitting helmets, the whistle blowing, the crowd yelling Go D! I love it. I love the team work, the huddles, the spirit, the drive.

I grew up in a football family. My father played for St. Mary's as did my brother until the school closed which found him playing his senior year at Glens Falls and then playing center for Norwich University. My dad (and my mom too) was always there for my brother, holding the yard markers, helping the coaches, supportive as best he could but never in the overbearing kind of way. He was the gentle giant that stood quietly by but when necessary made his voice known. I vividly remember a picture of my dad clad in stonewashed jeans (it was 1989!) standing on the field at Norwich with my brother. The smiles and pride, the dreams and goals, the support and love are ever present in this moment frozen in time.

The torch has now been passed to my nephew who has played for the past 4 years. He's growing by leaps and bounds and that little guy running around with a huge helmet has been replaced with a tall and slender young man.

We went to Jacob's game today and at the end we went down on the field for high-fives. Luke extended his hand in awe of these real, live players. His mouth hung open as his eyes scanned them from helmet to cleat. And then he saw Jacob, it was as if he saw a star.
I wanted my father there. I could hear him laughing, I heard the pride bursting through the intense sunset, I saw his hand on Jake's shoulder, passing on the torch. I felt the loss as we remembered when Jacob first saw our cousin play at Union when he was merely Ellie's age.

I am so proud of this family. I want my nephew to see my father's yearbook, to see the lineage.

I want you to watch this. I know it's long, but take the time. And yes I'm going to say it, I am going to go all the way and get all cheesy and cliche on you:It's not just about football, it's about the way of life. Go build your team, get psyched and tackle your dreams whatever they may be.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The first day

Luke had his first day of "school" today. He was so proud to go, so proud of the lunch he helped me make, so proud of his locker and all of his supplies.

He walked down the big hallway and with twinkly wide eyes said, "What is this place?"

"This is your school buddy!"

"Oh, okay mawn."

And off he went. We got everything situated just so, in his locker and he sat right down to play John Deere tractors with the other boys. He gave me a kiss and a hug and never looked back.

I talked with his teacher for a minute before I walked out of the room. I looked in to see if he noticed that I was gone and clearly he could have cared less. I hesitated in the doorway before I walked out of the building and back to the car. There were no tears we were both just so proud to be so secure with this new routine.

I found him playing on the playground. He looked so tired. I scooped him up and we hugged for what seemed like 10 minutes. "I was awaiting for you Mawm. I couldn't find you. I made a flower, but I didn't want to make 'nother one."

"Did you have fun today!?"

"Yeah I did have fun. I made a flower. I need to get my stuff Mawm. It's in my school."

"Well okay let's go get it."

"Some boy made me so, so sad. He broke my feelins Mawm. Brodie is my best friend. He is because he is nice. I play John Deere tractor with him and he play dump truck. That 'nother boy hurt me, teacher told him to sit on floor. He broke my feelins."

And so it begins. The heart ache and the soaring pride. Tomorrow is another day I told him.

"I'm sure that boy didn't mean it, if it happens again just tell him you forgive him and keep on playing okay?"

"Okay. I did miss you Mawm. I love you."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mr. Sandman

Last night I dreamed it was my college graduation. My dad was there with my mom, we didn't talk, we just walked around campus. Then we sat on a couch and texted each other. Kind of weird isn't it? I don't remember what we said but I do remember laughing and feeling the security and comfort of us all being back together.

As usual, there was a flash and I was in a ghetto neighborhood, lost and walking down scary streets with vicious dogs. My dreams always take this turn. It's a cycle of finding myself lost in some New York City ghetto with gun shots firing as I take cover in a random ethnic marketplace.

Mmmkay. Dreams are strange. Mr. Sandman, I beg you to lead me down better roads than the ghetto from now on.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ellie: Grace

2 months to 2 years

Another peak into the crazy life of the Stevens family.

The real face of parenthood

Someone's almost always pissed about something.

Glazed over, sickly and exhausted.

3 months to 3 years

Luke and I played around with photobooth today on my computer. After we took some post-nap pics we looked back through the archives and laughed (I teared up) as we watched time flash before our eyes.