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Sam & Jake @ Niks

I'm a planner-type. So when Matt suggested we take an impromptu vacation a few days later I kind of didn't respond the way he'd hoped. "Uh-uh. Can't." Then I offered up a list of reasons to justify my initial reaction. High on that list was the fact that traveling with two children under the age of 3 sounded as fun as morning sickness.

A few days later, we got the news that a cherished person in our family passed away with little warning. Without question, we made arrangements to head North to the memorial service to honor him and to support family and friends. Since we were packing anyway ... and since Matt was slower than ever before at work ... he brought up the vacation idea again. Fresh on my mind was the reality that life ends when you least expect it. With a few phone calls, a couple good friends stepping up to help water the yard and keep an eye on the house (Thanks Booker, Jackie & Quin) and taking in our darling dog for 10 days (Thanks George & Amy), our bags were packed and we took a 10 day road trip with only a vague idea of our plans. It was crazy awesome.

And, now, I'm delighted to be home. I love our little house, I adore my little family and am thankful for our many blessings. Plus, I can't wait to maybe get some sleep.

ps after aforementioned sleep, I'll post a little diary of our road trip with pictures ... well, after I find my camera, and unpack, and ...

Requiescat in pace, Ujo

 Wedding Slovak womenWedding Slovak men 

At first glance, I grew up in a small family. My parents, brother, me and a dog - usually a black poodle with a name ending in 'i.' When my parents emigrated from Slovakia in the early 70s, they left family behind in their communist-occupied homeland.

As is the case with many of us, but especially immigrants, you make your own family. Here's my chosen family, our fathers with their thick accents, our mothers who understand and love them, and us first-generation American children  ... and just a lot of love and memories.

I have a lot of wonderful memories of my wedding day but I have to tell you, that first picture, with all my aunts and cousins ... was the loudest ... and also one of my favorites. In that moment as we argued over the placement of the flag, it was clearer than ever that they are my people.

I love them all the way I imagine most of you love the families you grew up with. They are the aunts, uncles and cousins of my heart. One of them described it perfectly in an email this week:

"This is our true family; if not by blood, by love and lifetime." 

That is exactly how I feel, Sasha.

Some of these guys in the picture above grew up together in small Slovak town, Piestany. I've heart stories about their antics and trials my entire life and they are the truest of friends.

All this is to say, we lost one of the best this weekend, our Ujo Relo, Apu to his immediate family. May he rest in peace.

He is alive in my mind with his unique accent, different than my dad's but so familiar, with his stories, wisdom imparted through quotations, and if I squeeze my eyes closed I can all but smell the faint memory of pipe smoke at the edge of a playground and hear his laughter.

He leaves behind a beautiful family, who dances through their tears, hold each other tight and are surrounded by love ... I send my deepest condolences to them and look forward to wrapping them up for a real hug soon.

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you."

~Desmond Tutu

Still pregnant

Still pregnant but for those of you into numbers and statistics, my OB doc confirmed today that yes, I am still pregnant. No, it's not unusual to be this damn uncomfortable and yes, the baby will come out eventually. "You're not at your due date yet," he observed after glancing at my chart. He seemed to say this in defense of the baby. It's just that there's all these contractions and have I mentioned the discomfort? And the irritability? I can hardly even stand myself.

All normal, he assured me. Then, when I asked him how big he thought the baby was he said something about 8 pounds and growing. I asked (again) "So when do we call it?" He looked at my chart again, noted Sam's birth weight (8 pounds, 8 ounces) and said to my horror: "There's no reason you can't have a big baby." Are you kidding me? I can think of lots of reasons. Does the chart leave out the part about my broken pelvis last time?!

Okay, so stats (which mean nothing to me by the way): 2 cm. dilated and 25% effaced. All that is to say: still pregnant.

Meanwhile, I'm off to bed where I will shift from side to side with Herculean effort while I count how much sleep I'm not getting and wait for my water to break.

And now for something lighter...

And now for something a little less navel-gazey ... here are a few fun links for your Friday afternoon ...

For you readers, folks in the real-estate industry and those chronically checking out houses the way some people kick tires, check out Emily Chadwick's cool karma book giveaway:

You can win a copy of Meghan Daum's "Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House" by requesting your local library and/or independent bookstore carry a copy.

And then for you crafty types ... join the back-to-school sew along - or at least admire the cool idea over at Penny Carnival:

And the post that made me understand {and want to} Twitter:

I lost track of my Google list, meaning I forgot to cut and paste searches and am not technologically clever enough to figure out the history, and really? Who cares? The few I did track:

X Road transfer station

Psalm 34:8

Williams Sonoma car pan

green chile sauce

The painted lady

Word for the tie off used when shooting drugs

Coleslaw recipes



NPR Meatless Monday

Molly Gloss

Warning: emoting ... also, poor grammar

IMG_3694 IMG_3692

This week found me lacking in inner-strength, confidence and air-conditioning. Luckily, there were a couple nice Autumnish moments and I have really, really good friends. I got this quote in an email from Amy who saw it on Stacy Julian's blog. I'm just sharing it in case any of you could use the reminder, too.

"Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness."

For those of you looking for a place to start your own journal project, this would be the kind of quote you might use as a springboard.

Matt and I celebrated our 9th anniversary last night with an amazing dinner out. There were no dishes to clean up, no "one more bites" to negotiate - just a lot of conversation interrupted only by offers to bring more wine, bread or the dessert menu. (Yes, yes, and of course!)

I found the well-wishing comments on our anniversary interesting. One person commented on the life we've created together and someone else mentioned "nice work." And you know what? It is exactly both of those things. We create our lives, together. It is work. It is harder to deal with things that are uncomfortable than it is to bury your head in the sand. It is uncomfortable to tell the truth when it'd be easier to lie - even to yourself. And when you live with someone else, anyone else, but particularly when it is a person who's opinion you hold in high regard, like say, your husband ... things can get a little uncomfortable what with all the needs to be met, expectations, disappointments in our trappings as mere mortals ... and that is not to say I don't love, love, love my husband but rather to admit that there has been a slow leak in the boat that carries me. For awhile, with the house buying nonsense and the moving and the new baby and the business of turning things right side up again, I was treading water to stay afloat. And then .... without being aware of it I started drowning.

"You need to get more self-confidence."

This is a directive I've heard many times throughout my life. Since confidence isn't something stocked at Target near the adorable office supplies, this is easier said than done. It's an issue I've always struggled with, I don't know if it's linked to my weight problems or not since I've never lost enough for long enough to know for sure, but I do know there've been times where I've felt stronger within myself than others. The key, of course, is in the words: stronger withing myself. Inside gig, people.

My friend Amy (how lucky am I to have two cool Amys in my life?) said yesterday that she believes self-confidence works a bit like muscle memory. "If you've had it before, you'll get it again." Not at Target, but from within. And not by ignoring what's not working.

Being a mom, and particularly a stay-at-home mom, it seems is a self-confidence sucker-outer. Frankly, the job involves being puked and crapped on, literally, throughout the day (and night). Also, most of the tasks in the job description are, um, revolving - laundry, cleaning up after meals, making meals, cleaning up after meals, cleaning prints off windows (I've heard at least that some people do that), dealing with bodily fluids, more laundry, negotiating with a toddler and his new imaginary second-self named Kendal ... it's fun, really, a lot of the time - but other times: gross and stressful to feel like every time you've cleaned off your desk, your boss walks in and piles a bunch of crap back on top of it. But you don't get to leave in a huff at 5:03 p.m.

So, wow. This is more than I intended to share, but there you have it. Again, I share in the spirit of reminding us all we're not alone in our darker days and that the darkest hour really is right before dawn.

Who is this interloper?

This very moment I am the grateful mama of two sleeping boys and the lucky daughter of a palacinky-cooking mom. Also I'm trying to get my column done before either one wakes up. I'm blogging between drafts. I have to give it a little room to make sure I still like it when I re-read it. And also some time to let my mind work out a few of the kinks without staring at the same sentence for an hour. I'm a little fuzzy still, forgive me if I'm not making much sense.

Highlights here include:

We went on our first walk today. I made it to the post office and back. Sam held my hand from inside the stroller while his Omama pushed it and I walked beside him with Jake in the Moby wrap. Very sweet. I think he's starting to get the idea things are going to be okay. He has stopped looking at Jake like Who is this interloper? And when is he leaving? My mom said he comes into the house after walks looking for the baby. When he doesn't see him in the bassinet, he asks: "Where the baby is?" I think that means he's putting together that the baby is supposed to be here.

Speaking of the baby ... Jake had his first bath last night and it's fair to say he did not love it. Not even a little bit. On the upside, he's got a healthy set of lungs. Sam didn't love his first bath either, as shown in this picture below, but he sure loves them now! The top one is Jake, bottom is Sam. Funny, I used the same towel for both of their first baths. Love these little guys.

IMG_1510 First Bath 3


Nap time goes awry

 Nap time goes awryNap time goes awry (3) 
 I don't have a before picture to share with you because, naturally, I had no idea there was going to be an "after" picture. What I found in Sam's room today was like a makeover show in reverse.

I've been having the worst time getting Sam down for his afternoon naps since Jake came home. I'm convinced he hasn't outgrown them because he is cranky when he doesn't get one and we all suffer from it, most especially him. So today I thought I'd try something new. I talked up his big boy bed and suggested he consider taking a nap in there. I told him he could bring some books, a couple toys (yes, even his drill with both drill bits) and a blanket for Giraffe. The only rules were: don't make a mess and stay in bed. We even shook on it. He agreed to try it.

The second the door closed behind me, I heard his little feet hit the carpet and caught him reaching for his shoes on the changing table. "No make mess, Mama. I stay in bed." I turned on the monitor and worked on my column draft for an entire blissful, scream-free hour. He wasn't napping, exactly, but he was quiet and seemed content. I was so proud of both of us. My mom and I practically did the dance of joy over this successful quiet time.

Nap time goes awry (4) Until I went to check on him and found him in his crib surveying his "big mess." The little turkey crawled into his crib after taking literally every single thing out of every single drawer, bin and shelf and dumping it in piles throughout his room. I'm not sure how I missed all of that on the monitor. Surprise!

Turns out, he's getting his face reading skills down: "Ohhh. Mama's mad."

"Mmmm." I surveyed the scene and decided to back out of the room and come back with my camera.

I knew I was forgetting something ...

IMG_1675  My mind is like a steel sieve. I used to have sticky notes that said that, and I used to think it was funny until it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mentioned the other day about how I think Jake is sucking the smart right out of me. (By the way, I did finally find that makeup bag but now I can't remember where. Wish I was kidding.)

The other night I had to get to the store for some soymilk. Had to. Mornings without my breakfast shake (and fine, fine I'll admit it, my DYI frappucino) turn into afternoons of crankiness because I still haven't eaten. So, I had to go. It was cold and lightly raining but I decided to walk. I bundled up, bundled Jake up and we went. I turned around to get my shopping bag out of the trunk. Hello, two bags of soymilk. I thought I got some last time I was at the store but ....

Then yesterday, Matt asked if I needed anything at the store, "yeah, paper towels. I must've forgotten those." Matt took my car to the store, came home with two big things of paper towels which should last us until the boys are in school since we rarely use them and said: "So I take it you wanted more paper towels than the stash you had in the car?" Then he said he was going to start checking the trunk before buying anything.

Hey, listen, if kids get a Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and an Easter bunny -- and generally (and gender-stereotypically) speaking, husbands get a turn-dirty-clothes-left-on-the-floor-next-to-the-hamper-into-clean-folded-and put away-clothes Fairy ... what's wrong with me having a Grocery Store Fairy? 

 p.s. {My little Ewok is already six weeks old?!}

Reading habits

I've always loved reading. Just recently though, I've re-started my reading a book I enjoybefore bed instead of a book about how to convince kids to eat kale or how to potty train or how to manage money so there is some left after paying bills. I much prefer reading for pleasure, I have Google for the rest.

My reading habits have changed since having kids, if you can believe it. Now I have books in several parts of the house to pick up and read when opportunity strikes. I used to stick with just the one book start to finish but now I'm adjusting to the ADD that comes with motherhood.

Currently, I'm reading:

  • The Egg and I by Betty McDonald (bedroom)
  • Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz (office)
  • Make your Creative Dreams Real by SARK (living room)
  • Super Baby Foods by Ruth Yaron (kitchen)

Sam's reading:

  • The Potty Train: Chugga Chugga Poo Poo by David Hochman (living room)
  • Just Say Please by Mercer Mayer (Jake's room)
  • Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long (bedroom)
  • I Dream of Trains by Angela Johnson (bedroom)

Our new favorite show is "Chuggington" and I have added digital video recording to my list of things I'm thankful for since the show is on before 6 a.m. Longer, more thoughtful, post to follow if I manage to coordinate simultaneous naps.