Baby Jessica

Leah received a doll for Christmas, whom she named Baby Jessica.  Jessica has a bottle, and when you put the bottle near (or, in Leah's case crammed in) her lips, her face moves as she "sucks" the bottle.  Her eyes also blink, and she makes this exaggerated sucking sound.  After she drinks for a few seconds (which at times feel like a few decades) she falls sleep (I guess, her eyes only close half-way) and then she snores for a minute or so.

Baby Jessica is interesting, to say the least, and it should surprise no one that Baby Jessica ran out of batteries two days ago.  Baby Jessica takes triple A batteries which no one keeps in the house because double A is the new triple A.  In order to avoid worldwide catastrophe, my friend Gabrielle handed me 5 triple As and when I place three of them in Baby Jessica's back last night, Baby Jessica did not start her loud and freaky eating routine.  Baby Jessica appeared to be broken.

So, off I went to Target today (twice) and ran through the aisles in search of a new Baby Jessica.  Of the five Baby Jessica's I found, the only one that worked had brown eyes, and Leah's BJ had blue, so that wouldn't do.  I took a blue-eyed BJ off the shelf, hoped it was just her batteries that were dead, and exchanged broken BJ for maybe-broken-maybe-just-in-need-of-batteries BJ and headed home.  As I was leaving Guest Services I heard the cashier say, "Throw this one in the garbage; she's dead."  I assume she was speaking of Baby Jessica, Part One.

Upon arriving home later on that night, I placed the new batteries in Baby Jessica, Part Two, and...nothing.  Being the quick thinker that I am, I ran around the house looking for something, anything, that had triple As and finally found a few in my PTouch.  And, of course, when I placed the batteries in BJ, she worked.  Which means that all five batteries that Gabrielle gave me were dead, I went to Target (twice) for no reason, and poor Baby Jessica Part One was thrown away for no reason whatsoever.

After watching Toy Story 3 678 times this past weekend, I am a little sad for Baby Jessica Part One.  And, a little sad for me, who can currently hear Baby Jessica Part Two's familiar (translated: annoying) bottle sucking coming from the baby monitor. 



Santa was here!  And he was very generous!

He brought some great things.  And some questionable items, as well.

And, in true Gulino fashion, we've got a weirdo on our hands.
(However, this strange attempt at climbing in a doll tent also proves she's got Grieco in her, as well.)

All in all, a great day.  A really, really great day.



Complain Away

I have a friend, and I won't post her name but she'll know who she is, who feels that she can't complain about her mom in front of me.  And that's just so silly.  Because I can assure you that if my mom was still alive, I would be complaining about her all the time.  And, I can also assure you that I am not thinking in my head, "Harumph! Here she is complaining about her mom and I don't even have one!"  Because, believe me, I am not!  In fact, I find an odd comfort in hearing about the crazy things your mom does.  I honestly loved hearing about all of the things she's doing for your new baby that you asked her not to do.  It makes me laugh, because I think my mom would have done that too!  And in this weird way, I'm living vicariously through you.  And I could tell that about halfway through your rant, you started thinking that what you were saying was hurting me somehow.  But, it wasn't.  Not at all.

So, please, keep complaining. 


The Life I Signed Up For

If my mother had died before I was pregnant, I probably wouldn't have had a child.  I wanted a baby, and my mother was going to help me raise it.  Package deal.

If my mother hadn't died, Greg and I would have probably taken several weekend trips by now, and maybe even one that lasted five days.  Instead of no weekend trips, and nothing close to five days.  I don't trust anyone to watch Leah; there's nothing like the trust you have in your mom.   We would have been able to do more things with each other, without Leah.  Maybe go out to eat more...Christmas shop together...take more trips into NYC.

If my mother was still alive, I probably would have had more children by now.  She would have been my house every day in the summer, when she wasn't working, and probably would have used up more of her sick and personal days to spend time with her grandchildren.  My nights wouldn't have been parenting solo while Greg worked, and my weekends would not have been attempting to run an errand with a toddler and feeling like I got nothing accomplished.

There would have been more gifts and treats and a lot more spoiling.  My children would have run to her when they saw her, got excited when she arrived, and threw fits when she left.  They might have even liked spending time with her more than with me.

I never would have been stuck with no sitter.  Never would have had to say no to something that I wanted to do because I felt guilty leaving Leah.  Never would have felt that all-too-familiar hesitation when I dial a number to request some babysitting. 

I never wanted to be a mother if I didn't have my mother with me.  I never would have entered into what is the most difficult job I've ever held without her.  Never would have created this situation while living 40 minutes away from my closest family, with only one parent who's my dad, while my in-laws live several states away.

And I would have never written this post.

If I seem different to you, uncomfortable, unhappy, and unsettled, you must forgive me.  I'm not living the life I signed up for.



8 Maids a Milking

Christmas is kind of a big deal around here.  I love Christmas, for the presents, the decorations, the parties, all of it.

I am trying to get Leah excited about Christmas and even though she probably doesn't really understand what the day is going to be like, she knows about Santa, and the gifts he brings, the cookies we bake, the movies we can watch, and the parties we attend. 

I plan on finishing up my shopping this weekend and then I'll officially be ready for the holiday.  I host Christmas at my house, something that my mother used to do and that I've always wanted to do, and something that I hope to do forever. 



So, I didn't mean to take a break from the blog; it just happened.  But, you didn't miss much. 

Let's bullet it, shall we?

1) On Sunday, I went into NYC with some girlfriends and saw Promises, Promises.  It was, meh.  It stars Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth and Molly Shannon has a bit part, too.  I didn't hate it, but I feel that it might have been a little, er, overrated, perhaps.  I don't think it had a substantial plot, the music was not enjoyable, and I feel the show is leaning on its two main actors and their reputation, rather than content.  If Sean and Kristen left Broadway tomorrow, so would Promises, Promises.  That's how I feel.

2) Christmas is very near, and I am still lacking a few gifts.  It's not that I don't know what to purchase, I just don't have a lot of time.  I need a half a day, at most, to finish shopping and wrapping, and I'll feel a lot better.

3) My Christmas cards may not be reaching my house until December 23rd and in that case, they are probably not going to get to your house until after Christmas.  We all just have to deal with this.

4) I bought a 10-day pass to the Sparta Athletic Club where I will be taking zumba on Wednesday nights with my friend Gabrielle.  The class is hard; the instructor is easy on the eyes.  This will help.

5) Leah now sleeps in a twin bed like a pro.  No issues, no problems.  I did expect this, but it's still hard to deal when the fact that she is no longer a baby is thrown in my face.  She likes to talk on the phone with people; she enjoys rolling up her sleeves and washing dishes; she tells me when I do things wrong.  (Aw, just like her dad.)  She's a full blown kid.  Oh, and she's sort of a big deal.  She told me.  

That's really all I've got.  I'll try to not take any more extended breaks.  I like writing here.  I just also like sleeping and eating. 

Duh to the eating one--I'm sure that's evidently clear.


Big Girl, Sad Mommy

We moved Leah to a twin bed on Friday night, and she's been doing great.  She whines a bit before nap and bed time, but she doesn't get out of the bed, which is my only rule--I don't mind if she doesn't lie down immediately, or even if she wants to read a book, just no getting out of bed--and we are so proud of her.

But, on the flip side, I'm so sad!  Being in the crib was one of her last ties to being a toddler, and now that there's a bed in its place, I'm being forced to realize that I have a little girl--not a baby--anymore! 

She will still occasionally snuggle with me, if I pretend that I'm a big monster eating her, so I can still treat her like she's a little baby who likes to cuddle.


Leah still wears diapers.

There.  I said it.

Potty training is pretty non-existant.

I could beat myself up and say that if I was a stay-at-home-mom I would have potty trained her by now, but I'm not going to do that.  Kids whose parents work eventually stop wearing diapers! 

I'm ok with her not being trained; some people complain about how much they hate it, but it doesn't bother me that much.  I don't have to keep a potty in the car for emergencies; I don't have to find the restroom in every single facility we visit; I don't mind the cost of diapers.  (Because I sleep on a bed of dollar bills.  No, really because they're not that expensive.)

We've always raised Leah by following her lead on what she needs.  By stepping back and paying attention, I've been able to figure out what she's saying, thinking, feeling. 

I bought her a potty before she turned one, because I thought that I could coax her into training early.  But, I should have known better.  She'll do it when she's ready.  



Where It's At

We've got a lot of anatomic talk these days.  Lots of "penis", "gina" and "butt" and who's got what and who doesn't have what.  There's a bunch of "I see you naked!" and there's the self-taught "butt dance."

There's music requests: Soul Sister, Like a G6, and Muffin Man are most frequently asked for.  She dances in slow motion during the slow parts on Dog Days are Over and then speeds it up on the fast parts.

There's a lot of blowing drying hair, and applying lip gloss, and "I need eye shadow" and "Let me go do my hair before we leave."  There are attempts to put hair ties and barrettes in.  There's a lot of hair brushing.

There are requests for showers, not baths.  There are requests for the blue shirt and the crocs, NOT that purple dress!  No, the blue one.  And maybe with the rain boots.  Definitely not the winter coat!  But, perhaps the vest.  NOT that vest, god, mom.

Oh, yes, there's a lot of MOM.  Not Mommy, but MOM.  But, there's also "What's that, Mama?"  And when she wakes up in the morning, it's always "Mommy." 

"Oh my goodness!" never gets old.  And "yes please" when the answer only needs to be yes.  

~Leah, are you in your bedroom?
~Yes, please.

~Leah, do you think I should wear my black flats with these jeans?
~Yes, please.

There's drama.  ALWAYS so much drama.  Everything is so cool! Or so sad! Or so nice! Everything is such a big deal!

There's a lot going on.  Lots of changes.  Lots of baby, but lots of big girl.  Lots and lots of big girl.



Busy Times

It's been a crazy time around here lately.  We've all be running around trying to get through the day, get ready for the holidays, and not go nuts.   We don't always succeed.  Especially with the nuts. 

Here's a pic to hold you over.  I don't know why she's so serious about nail drying, but, I guess it's a big deal.  Beauty is so important and all.



Baby Bedda

That's how Leah pronounces her name.  It's very adorable.  So's baby Bedda.


The Absence of Suck

I was most concerned with not being able to stretch before the race began.  I have never been a morning runner, especially a cold morning runner, so I thought that if anything was going to go wrong, I didn't want it to be something that could have been avoided with stretched-out muscles. 

I didn't hear any sort of fanfare marking the official start of the race.  I thought I'd hear a gun shot, or a horn, but nothing.  This could have been because I had my ear buds in.  There were over 1500 runners and for a minute or so after the race began we all just moved forward in a herd.  I thought for a second that the entire race might be like this:  that maybe there were too many people and not enough road and we'd all just shuffle in a big group for three miles. 

Then the crowd began to open up.  People started taking off ahead of the group.  I remember running for a minute or so in line with my sister.  I remember her running with her hands in her pockets and wondering how the hell she was able to do that.  I remember my friend Lisa being a few feet ahead of us and looking back several times.  I remember when both of them began pulling farther and farther apart from me.  And I remember when I couldn't see either of them anymore.  And then there was me.  And I took a deep breath and fixed my ear buds again, and began the long lonely 3.1 mile journey.  As it's always been.  As I've grown accustomed to. 

A lot of people passed me.  People who weren't even jogging passed me.  But, as my sister had informed me the night before, my jog speed was slower than most people's walk speed, so I was expecting this.  A few minutes into the run I began seeing people on their way back.  I tried to get real close to the center line to attempt to make eye contact with the guy who had come in 60th place in the NY Marathon and was predicted to run the Sparta Turkey Trot in record time.  He zipped by me; I smiled at him, but he never saw me.  It would have been inspiring to catch his eye, but he has personal records and qualifying races on his mind.  He didn't have time for me.

The halfway point took forever to get to.  By the time I finally reached it, I had seen Gab, Lisa, and Adj zip by on their way back.  I could tell I was far behind them based on how long it took me to get halfway through, but I didn't care.  I wasn't doing this for time.  I was just doing this to run.  I kept my eyes on the road and rallied through.

The course had hills.  I didn't know this beforehand.  I'm sure it was for the best, since I would have been much more intimidated if I had known that hills were part of this challenge.  Welcome to the Black Parade played on the steepest one. 

At one point I found myself slowing down, each step becoming harder and harder to take.  My jog slowed and slowed and I felt my right leg fall into what I can only describe as a walk-step.  And my knee immediately locked up, and it jolted my body back to attention, and I continued to run.

I was so lonely at some parts.  Or maybe just bored.  Alone.  No one was on the side of the road cheering us on; I had no idea how much farther I had to go.  All I know is that it sucked.  It totally sucked.

And then I saw it.  Mile Marker 3.  And Florence and the Machine began.  And then Flo Rida followed.  And the wooden 3 sign grew larger as I got closer.  And I started running.  And I moved to the middle of the road.  And I didn't feel a thing.  Nothing hurt.  Nothing was hard about what I was doing.  I was sprinting down East Shore Trail all by myself early on Thanksgiving morning and I felt great.  I felt wonderful!  I was so happy.  Happy to be finishing.  Happy to be running.  Happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And then.   Oh my god.  And then.  I saw my family.  I saw my husband and I saw my daughter and they were cheering for me.  FOR ME.  Leah ran to me and I stopped.  In the middle of the road before I hit the finish line, I stopped short.  And I grabbed her hand.  We started to run and she fell.  I picked her up and asked her if she was ok, and she said yes.  So, we held hands again and we ran to the finish line.  And it was perfect!  Gab and Adj and Lisa and Lan were all there.  Everyone was waiting for me.  And I crossed the line holding my daughter's hand.  And I was so happy.

And then the suck came back.  And it hurt.  My feel felt like they weren't mine.  I couldn't stop moving.  I had sprained my ankle when I stopped to get Leah.  I was trying to drink water.  I could barely talk.  Old Dana was back.  The Dana that is not athletic and can't run and doesn't do very well in sports and is fat, slow, and finds new gray hairs every week.

But, for a few minutes, when Mile Marker 3 came into view, I was someone else.  I was that person I used to remember.  It was awesome.   And I loved it.   And it didn't suck entirely.




We all did it.

Thanks for all the support and encouragement. 
Without you, I would not have been able to do this.


And We're Off

Here we go...

Wednesday: T Minus 1 Day

The tatoo has been acquired...



Tuesday: T Minus 2 Days

Clothes have been purchased...



Monday: T Minus 3 Days

Practice is happening...



A Contribution From a Friend

A few month's ago my friend Rob sent me a poem.  I read it when I received it, and then it sat in my Inbox for a while.  Every so often, I'd open it up and read it.  It's a great poem and I thought I'd post it.

Now, this poem is quite well known, and so when I read the excerpt that Rob sent me, I knew that the last verse was left off.  The last verse is very religious, and while Rob is also very religious, I'm not.  And I'm not sure if Rob left off that last verse because he knows how I feel about religion or not, but I like to think that you get the jist of the poem just fine without that last verse.  And if you find yourself needing more god after you read this poem, then you should google it, and get your god fix.

If Tears Could Build a Stairway

If tears could build a stairway

and thoughts a memory lane

I’d walk right up to heaven

and bring you home again.

No Farewell words were spoken

No time to say good-bye

You were gone before I knew it

And only God knows why.

My heart’s still active in sadness

And secret tears still flow

What it meant to lose you

No one can ever know.

But now I know you want us

To mourn for you no more

To remember all the happy times

Life still has much in store.

Since you’ll never be forgotten

I pledge to you today

A hallowed place within my heart

Is where you’ll always stay.



Patricia Ellen Grieco 4/6/53-11/19/07

You took my hand

You showed me how

You promised me you'd be around

I took your words

And I believed

In everything

You said to me


Remember when we were such fools

And so convinced and just too cool

I wish I could touch you again

I wish I could still call you friend

I'd give anything

When someone said count your blessings now

'fore they're long gone

I guess I just didn't know how

I was all wrong

They knew better

Still you said forever

And ever

Who knew

I'll keep you locked in my head

Until we meet again

And I won't forget you my friend

What happened

If someone said three years from now

You'd be long gone

I'd stand up and punch them out

Cause they're all wrong and

That last kiss

I'll cherish

Until we meet again

And time makes

It harder

I wish I could remember

But I keep

Your memory

You visit me in my sleep

My darling

Who knew

I miss you

Who knew


My Number's Up

Over the past few weeks, I've won two raffles that I've entered and two tricky tray prizes.  This is very unlike me.  I usually have no luck whatsoever.  I never win anything.

Lately I've been having a tough time with life, in general.  Work is stressing me out; there's never enough time in the day; I don't get done even half of the things that I want to do.  I feel like I am running after a train that's going a little too fast for me to catch it, but I can't just give up and find another way to travel.  I'm stuck in this station, and I'm missing my damn train.  Over and over.

But, these four silly things that I've won have given me some hope.  Maybe it's a sign that good things are coming.  Maybe it's a sign to not give up.

I'm not big on signs.  I don't believe those people who say things like my dead mom gave me a sign that she was watching over me when the picture fell off the wall and landed on my head! mainly for two reasons.  One, I just don't believe that the dead can send the living signs.  But more importantly, if they can, then that means that my mom knows she's dead and she is aware that she's not here.  She's seen me struggle over the past three years.  She's experienced every tear that I've shed.  She's watched me miss her.  And if that's the case, then she's probably struggling, crying, and experiencing at the same time.  And I don't want her to.  I would never want her to know what she's missing. 

There is a good aspect about dying suddenly, rather than being sick for a while before passing.  When you suddenly die, you don't know what you're going to miss, or that you're going to miss anything, actually.  You don't know what you're never going to see again.  You don't know how everyone will get to go on living together, while you won't.  And most importantly, you don't feel the guilt that you might feel knowing that family and friends are going to mourn you for months, years, decades maybe.  When you just up and die one day, you don't even know what just happened.  That's sort of a good thing.  I guess?

The 19th is a tough day. It's hard for me, my family, and my mom's friends.  I don't know if I'll be able to adequately show what the day means to me because I'm not sure how I'll feel on it.  I just hope that my luck continues.  That my number keeps getting called.  That I never give up hope. 


Some Good Advice

I have a friend from college whom I recently got back in touch with.  We have an email relationship and have become pen pals.  This friend has insight, and I cherish it, and when I spoke of the three year anniversary of my mom's death coming up, this is what my friend said:

Do something good with your own daughter.
Not necessarily that day, but soon.
Something that your mom would have either enjoyed
or at least strongly encouraged you to enjoy.

I like that advice.  And I'm going to try to take it.


The Aunts

Leah has four Aunts.  Two are biological and two are by marriage/long time relationshipage.

One of her Aunts is Aunt Christie (Tistie)-Greg's sister:

And one is Aunt Adriana (Ana)-my sister:

She loves them both and they love her and I am so thankful for both of them.  They are both great women who love my daughter as much as I love her, and that means a lot me. 


Yes, I Still Run

I haven't mentioned running much within the past month or so, have I?  Well, because up until a week ago, I wasn't running much.  It's dark when I get home from work, and I have a prejudice towards treadmills.  So, I stopped running.

But, I never for once gave up on the Turkey Trot.  I set a goal a while back, and when I set goals, I meet goals, and, despite the fact that I had stopped training, and despite the fact that I had no idea how I was going to start up my training again, I never for once gave up on the Turkey Trot.  I never once thought that I would not be there on Thanksgiving morning.  In fact, I have a little surprise planned for the event.  Something I have been meaning to do for a while.

So, I'm back to training.  On the DREADMILL.  At 9:00 p.m. after Leah goes to bed and I manage to find all of my running accoutrements.  While catching up on the Housewives or Glee.

Tonight I made my running playlist.  There are a lot of good songs out there, like this one and this one.  Ooh, but especially this one. 

So, if you're doing nothing on Thanksgiving morning and you feel like watching me hobble my way through 3 miles, come on down. 


The Worst 10 Days of My Life, Annually

Three years ago today, the worst day of my life happened.    For the next nine days after the 10th of November in 2007, my life ran on autopilot as I attempted to figure out a situation to which no figuring out could fix.

I realized something bad had happened when I overheard the lack of conversation between Greg and my dad on the phone while I was in the bathroom.  And I felt a strange wave of doom float over me as I sat in the car on the way to the hospital while Greg filled the tire with air that told me that I didn't want to know what my future child's name would be.  I received the worst piece of news I've ever received when Gwen the nurse told me there was no hope while I was holding my mom's hand as she lie in bed in a coma.  I ran in and out of the room throughout the first night holding hands with my dad and sister as the code blue lights and beeps would sound, while the staff would run in past us to work on her. 

I am so happy that Isabella wasn't born during these 10 days.  These horrible, devastating, torturous ten days.  Days that were so bad, that when we finally made the decision to pull the plug, we were actually relieved, because these days were coming to an end.  These days of limbo, uncertainty, and the most painful pain one could ever endure, were finally going to be over.  We were finally getting the hell out of purgatory...

Today I did what I like doing best in my job:  I went to the job site and spent a lot of time there.

Today I did something that took my mind off my mom:  I tried out my first zumba class.

And, today I did something that reminded me of my mom: I bought some Tupperware.

These 10 days nearly killed me three years ago. 



She's Here!

This is Isabella!

She's my niece!



A Metaphor

I spend a lot of time cleaning Leah's play room.  I organize all of her toys--and there are lots of them--making sure that her sushi set contains all of its parts, and her doctor kit is not missing a wayward bandaid.  I gather all of the baby bottles and collect them in one bin, and I make sure that her crayons are not broken and that their wrappers are not peeling.  I arrange all of the dolls so that each has a diaper and clothes on and is placed in a stroller, high chair, or bed.  I spray the white board and wipe it clean and I make sure I remove all of the chalk remnants from the chalk board.

I spend a lot of time cleaning up messes in Leah's play room, but not a lot of time making them.  I want to make messes with her; I need to make messes with her.  I just don't have the time.  Or sometimes, I'm just too tired to make messes.  I am letting those messes happen without me taking part in creating them and I am having a hard time dealing with it.



Thursdays With Michael

For the past two weeks, my brother in law Michael and his girlfriend Cheryl have hosted Leah and I for dinner on Thursday nights.  My sister in law Christie also comes.  And tonight, Cheryl's sister Allison and her friend Randy also attended.

It's been so much fun, and even though Thursday night is normally my ladies wine night, I am feeling torn, since I love going to Michael and Cheryl's too.

In addition to the good food, plentiful wine (I see a pattern too; I choose to ignore it) and the great conversation, Leah gets to hang with her Aunts and Uncle and various other people.  And that's what makes me want to keep up this tradition the most.

When I was little, my mom had five brothers, four of which were younger than her.  My mom was 23 when she had me, so my Uncles were all quite young when I was born.  I remember a lot of good times with them, a lot of fun parties and experiences, and they were a very big part of my life.  For reasons that I won't go into now, mostly because I'm not even sure what those reasons are, I no longer speak to some of my Uncles, and it pains me deeply to know that close, loving relationships can sometimes be severed.  For good.  Forever.

With the death of my mom, and the loss of relationships with family members, I no longer take for granted the power of family and friendships and everything in between.  I try to give Leah as many opportunities as I can to spend time with different types of people, of all different ages, of all walks of life. 

And because of that, I am sad to report that I may be sticking with Thursdays with Michael, over Ladies Wine Night, while the invitation is still extended.  I know that the Ladies might not be happy with this, but they will understand.  If I've learned anything from losing my mother three years ago, it's that personal relationships are important, not only for myself, but for my child.  And my Ladies know that we can always have Tuesdays.  Or Saturdays.  Or both.



Baby Tai-Yu

My friend Lan had a baby three weeks ago.  Baby Tai-Yu.  And he is scrumptious. 

I am trying to spend as much time with him as possible because I want to help Lan out, I want to squeeze her baby, and because I love to watch Leah with him.

I just can't get over how she acts with him.  It's all don't cry baby...ok, give me kiss, baby..I love you little baby...here's your little blanket baby...all while kissing him and tickling him and playing with his fingers.

She always wants to hold him by herself.  And she has to hold him a certain way, with his head on her left side.  She wasn't too happy about being forced to hold him with a pillow underneath, but she's gotten used to it. And I caught her a couple of times this weekend attempting to pick him up and carry him away. 

I'm always wondering how she would act if I had another baby, and before Tai-Yu came around, I used to think that she'd be really jealous.  But now I'm not so sure.  I think she'd handle it really well.  Which just amazes me.  She never ceases to amaze me.  She is just so amazing.




We started off the weekend at a Pumpkin Patch...

And ended the weekend with a little Trick or Treating...

And lots of stuff in between.  But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see that.


The Goose is Getting Fat

So, this is going to sound strange, since Halloween is on Sunday, but I've been thinking about Christmas lately, and I need your help.

Last year Greg's siblings decided to stop exchanging gifts, except for Leah, which makes me feel 1) bad that they still buy for Leah while they don't have children for me to buy for, and 2) a little sad that I don't get the thrill of finding the perfect gift for them, which is seriously one of the best highs in life for me, and 3) so grateful for the extra time and money that I've gained as a result of my shopping list being cut in half. 

I casually mentioned this idea to my sister last year and she shot it down before I even got the words out.  Therefore, I still exchange gifts with my siblings.  Which is fine with me, because I like the idea of exchanging, and I like the idea of not exchanging, so I have the best of both worlds.

I do want to know, however, what others are doing out there.  Are adults still exchanging with siblings?  How about siblings' spouses?  Do you just keep it to your parents and the kids in the family?  Do you do a grab bag?  Card?  Coal? 

And, once you've answered all of those questions, tell me: what are you getting your sister, brother, sister's boyfriend, brother's wife, and dad?  Because I am at a total loss this year.  TOTAL. LOSS.

Ok, thank you!


My Baby Loves Babies

So, can we just talk about how adorable my child is with little babies?  Recently, it seems like a lot of people we know have had babies, or are about to.  I tell her about them; show her pictures of them.  We practice saying their names.

She talks about them non-stop.  She tells me she's going to give them bottles, passies, and tickle them.

She wants to hold them...with NO HELP please and NO PILLOW on her lap please. 

She gives her dolls their names.  She calls me back into her room after I put her to bed so that we can talk for just a little longer about them. 

Oh, and when we see them:  it's kisses galore!

I've mentioned that my friend Lan had a baby recently and we've brought some of Leah's things to her so that she can borrow them.  I thought that leaving Leah's bouncy seat and bumbo chair would not go over well, but boy, was I wrong.  She loved letting the baby use her things and didn't mind leaving them with him either.

She's been getting so big lately, getting so much more mature, saying so much more.  There are still tough times and days in which I am wondering where I keep my rope (to tie her down for like one minute!  Not to hang myself or anything, ha ha HA HA HA) but I can see us turning a corner on the bad behavior.  I can see the light sorta glimmering through at the end of the tunnel. 



I Was Wrong...34 is Awesome!

I had a wonderful birthday.  Turning 34 was not that bad.  I've been told that NEXT year is the year that I should be afraid of. 

On Saturday afternoon, I got my hair cut and colored which, since I've had a child, is a real treat.

I only did three loads of laundry on that day, which is rare for a Saturday.

I drank many glasses of wine, which, er, is actually very normal for a Saturday. 

My girlfriends took me out to dinner.

I wasn't hungover the next day, which is a birthday miracle.

I had a great day and I no longer feel bad about turning 34. 

However, now I'm dreading next year.



They Say It's...just another day. Please.

Tomorrow I turn 34. 


It sounds so mom-jeans, sensible flats, short-hair cut, right?  I'm a 34 year old mom.  I wear spanx.  I have random grays .  I have to pluck a chin hair that shows up inexplicably every three weeks.

When I was young I never really thought about my 30s.  They were old years--years that I didn't need to worry about--because they were so far off into the future.  And, now, I'm planted firmly in the middle of them, and, strangely enough, I spend a lot of time worrying these days.

I spent the day I turned 30 alone.  By choice.  I took the day off and spent it hanging around in my house.  Probably doing laundry.  I had told Greg that I didn't want any fanfare; I just wanted to quietly coast into the decade.  And then in November of that year, he totally ignored my wishes and threw me a surprise party.  The following June, we were married, and then in July, found out I was pregnant. 

30 was a good year.

I was 4 months pregnant when I turned 31.  My family took me out to dinner a few weeks later when we could all free our schedules on the same day.  We ate at an Italian restaurant on the boardwalk in town that didn't have fried calamari.  (Can you believe?)  Greg's mom was up visiting from Myrtle Beach.  Later on, back at my house, she took a picture of my parents sitting on my couch.  The last one.

My mom died a month later; I was in a car accident in January of '08, and then Leah was born in March.  I rallied through what I now know was a slight case of post pardum depression mixed with mourning that would just not go away.  I tried to be the best mom I could be, but there were some days that I didn't think I would make it.

32 was more of same.  I finally came to grips with the fact that my mom was NEVER going to meet Leah.  Despite the fact that I don't think of myself as all that dumb, I had the hardest time processing that my mom would never meet Leah, even though she was, you know, DEAD.  I don't know why.  I mean, I knew my mom had died before Leah was born, but I just couldn't accept that she would never see what I made.  Never meet this kid. 

I realized in year 32 that life was going to be very different now that we had a child.  We would have to, you know, always care for her and spend a lot of time and money on her and she was going to be here for a while.  And we didn't want it any other way, but it was a reality check of the kid kind.

33 was sort of a reality check of the adult kind.  The economy was uncertain and so were our salaries.  Greg's field was no longer a sure thing while mine was growing.  So we tried something new: he would spend more time at home with Leah with his flexible work schedule while I would continue to work full time, putting in long days, and attempting (sometimes badly) to not resent him for getting to spend more time with our daughter. 

I still thought a lot about my mom and couldn't understand why I wasn't getting over her death.  I started this blog; I joined Facebook; I found support and kind words from more people than I could ever imagine.

And now, 34. 


I feel like I'm this work in progress and I'm never going to finish. 

My goal for 34 is to find some balance and contentment and a little more happiness. 

My goal for right now is to find some potato chips.




I'd love to tell you that she is currently entranced by a Scientist that I have come to the house every Wednesday night to go over the teachings of Einstein, the music of Beethoven, and the musings of Confucius.

But, actually, she's watching The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and it's the episode where Goofy rides his bike upside down, and that's pretty mesmerizing to a two year old.

We're keeping it real here.



The Big Fish Bowl in the Sky

I put Leah to bed 30 minutes ago.  We followed the same routine as we do every night:

1) She puts her finger out and I apply "teeth medicine" (Ambesol) for her to apply to her gums.

2) She puts her finger out and I allow her to dip her finger into the "lip gloss" (Vaseline) to which she applies to her lips.

3) She then looks at me and says, "Ooh, my beddy (belly) hurts.  I need some beddy medicine." And then I open the Vicks and let her take a dab to put on her belly. 

Editor's note: I would let her apply the Vicks without the pretend pain, but I love hearing her pretend, night after night, that her belly starts to hurt at the exact moment that we complete the lip gloss routine.  I play into too.  "Oh, your belly hurts?  Well, then we better get some medicine for that!" 

And then while she situates herself amongst her 40 blankets and NumNum (a stuffed Snoopy) I feed Fishy, her blue beta fish that I have hated taken care of since my wonderful sister gave Leah the fish back in June. 

Except tonight, Fishy was not swimming amongst his plastic cave and vegitation. 

Because Fishy is dead.

Just floating there on the top of the bowl, sideways.  I made a face when I noticed and flung my head back a bit, to which Eagle Eyes over there said, "What happened Mom?  What happened?" 

To which I replied, "Oh, Fishy is so hungry tonight!  He surprised me!" 

And, for once in her life she just accepted that and didn't ask to witness the event. 

So, I left dead Fishy in the bowl and continued with the bedtime routine and texted Greg the minute I got out of there that he had a funeral to hold tomorrow morning.

So, what exactly should we tell her?  This isn't our first pet that has died, but this is the first pet that has died in the house.  This will certainly be the first pet that is flushed down the toilet, and, considering that it's very difficult to do anything in this house behind a locked door, she might very well witness the event.  She is older now than she was when we lost Doozer.  She remembers things now.  She talks in full sentences now.  She tells me when I have boogers in my nose and when I dribble food down my shirt.  Things are different now and I'd rather not scar her this early in life.  There will be many times in the future for that.

Should we say that Fishy is in heaven?  That's what we say about Doozer.  Also, about Grandma Pat.  However, I don't think she really knows what heaven means, as a couple of weeks ago she screamed, "Grandma Pat!  Grandma Pat!" as a woman who lives around the block and has the same hair cut as my mother did, drove by.

I was like, "What?!  That's not Grandma Pat!  That's ____________ (I'm protecting the innocent.)!  Grandma Pat?  Wha?  She's in heaven.  Do you remember that?  That means that she's not driving down our street in her Camry.  Really?  Grandma Pat?  I uh, here, have a lollipop."

So, anyway, back to Fishy.  If there is anyone reading who has been in this situation, how do you suggest we do this?  Comments welcome!


Let Me Clarify

So, I think that I might have portrayed myself as slightly agitated last week.  You post one little list of things that suck and before you know it, your friends are afraid to answer your calls, your sister won't look you in the eye, and your husband is planning an Anger Intervention. 

Yes, I might have been having a rough week, but I didn't mean to come off as an outraged, bitter hag.  And I'm afraid that people are going to caese inviting me to their homes for fear that I'll judge their clutter.  Fear not, friends, I am not judging your clutter.  I didn't write that list about your clutter.   I wrote it about the clutter of strangers.  Honestly, I apologize for judging and for admitting that I judge and if I could take one thing off the list it would be the sentence about how I'm judging your clutter.  I'm not.  Believe me.  For real.  I'm too busy sneaking a glance in your medicine cabinet.  See!  Not seeing your clutter!  Seeing your Advil!

But, I think the one thing that I mentioned on the list that struck a chord with most people was, well, it was obviously the one that spoke of my hatred of John Lithgow.


No, it was the one about having another child.  Listen, asking me and Greg if we want more children is fine.  Questioning us on if we are thinking of having other kids is acceptable.  Telling us how life changed when you went from one to two, or four to five or whatever, is cool.  Giving advice on how you think having more than one child is beneficial is a-ok.

Telling me that I am wrong when I say I have one child right now and that's how I like it is unacceptable.  And I shouldn't have to apologize for that. 



Second Verse, Same As The First

Yes, it's Friday again, and I am exhausted.  As much as I am upset that Leah is a dance drop-out, I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to sleep in tomorrow.

So help me if the other two people in this house don't realize that I am sleeping in tomorrow. 

Actually, so help them.

An oldie but goody.


A Typical Saturday

For us, a typical Saturday could start with some dance lessons...

However, a typical Saturday from now on will most definitely NOT include dance lessons, as I have finally come to terms with the fact that Leah is not ready to attend dance class without Mommy in the room, which, at the dance school, is not really permitted.  Explain to me how she's all this club can't even handle me with the dance moves and the boogying and the singing, but ONLY  if I'm standing in the room and ONLY while she's standing next to me?  I mean, I am just going to wait in the lobby with the rest of the Moms and I will see you in 45 minutes!  But no.  One teensy move by me towards the door and she is screaming, crying, throwing herself on the floor. Honestly, though, it's not worth it.  Neither one of us is enjoying ourselves.  So, we are say la vieing Perfect Pointe. This of course hurts in a big way, because dance was such a huge part of my childhood, but there is no rule that says that dance lessons can't happen at home in the living room while wearing pajamas.  With coffee.  

The coffee's for me.   You knew that, right? 

Afterwards, we might venture on over to New Hyde Park, to visit our friend Lan at LIJ Hospital who just had a baby boy!  He is so stinkin' cute.  We cannot wait to go back and visit him again.  We love him!

And after that, it might be back to Sparta to attend a birthday party for our friend Andy who turned 7.  Let me ask you something: if the party goes from 4-7 p.m. and you arrive at 8 p.m, is that bad?  No, right?

Thank the lord there were cheese balls!

And then it could be time to get ready for bed.  We promote healthy dental hygiene in our house.

And, if all of those things happened, a typical Saturday night might end in front of the fire under a snuggy.  Hopefully with some vino.

Ok, a lot of vino.



The Healing Corner: Abbe's Story; Part Three

Pat and Me

We didn’t become friends as kids playing ball or dressing up dolls. We didn’t become friends as teens, giggling about boys. We became friends and in-law status in our young adulthood.

Ironically, we were pulling at opposite directions from the same nucleus. She was about to get married and learning to establish herself as a wife and learning to navigate away from her parents, and I was involved with her oldest brother Ray meshing into the family.

I met Ray in July 1974. We fell in love pretty much from the get go as we found ourselves on the same page on just about everything. Within a few weeks we knew we would one day get married and even imagined our children. Pat and Enzo were going to get married on August 25 and he wanted me to not only attend the wedding but come to meet his family for the very first time. Now mind you this was the 1970’s…I was a different religion and cross religions were just starting to become more accepted at that point, but still worth taking a few gulps about how we were going to be viewed by family members.

So here I was looking forward to my journey with Ray and his family and Pat was looking forward to moving into her new household with Enzo.

A few months later I moved to North Jersey. While taking a few weeks to plant myself to find work and an apartment, Pat and Enzo opened their newlywed home to me for a couple of weeks until I was able to get settled. Pat guided me the way to the right doctors, the right hairdressers, all her own personal connections.

The four of us started going out socially. We went to dinner, we went to plays in NYC, we went to concerts as young couples do.

The fight…..oy vey.

Every Sunday night all the brothers, sisters and any friends came to Mom and Pop’s for dinner. There was always a full house and full tummies. Football added to the excitement. After football season every Sunday night we all went bowling, ice skating, or somewhere of fun.

One Sunday night we were all there as usual. Let me preface that as much as I love Ray and he was goodhearted, the man could be one stubborn obstinate soul. Enzo, oh yeahhhh very much the same way. Pat went over to the toaster to heat a sandwich. Ray was waiting his turn to heat is when Pat snuck in. Ray tossed out some words just as a sibling would do, part in jest, part meaningful cause he just didn’t take crap from anyone, including his sister. Enzo resented how she was spoken to. The next thing you know these two stubborn, obstinate pigheaded men started pushing and shoving. Pat and Enzo went home. Typical family scenario, and everyone was buzzing about the fight.

Pat and I spoke the following day and worked it out between us about our stubborn, pigheaded obstinate men. However, the guys didn’t quite see it the same way. They didn’t speak for three years, no matter how we pleaded with them.

In some crazy way, now that I can look back, I do admire those stubborn, pigheaded obstinate men (have I mentioned that yet?) Why?? Because no matter how pigheaded and stubborn and obstinate they were, they still accompanied Pat and I to family affairs, dinners and dances, even though you could cut the tension with a knife. They did this because they believed in family and understood the importance of it no matter how much this silly argument rocked their pride.

Then one day when we least expected it one of them asked the other to pass the salt at the dinner table. Pat’s eyes went to mine, mine went to hers and we didn’t dare say a word of what we noticed in fear that we might ruin this Hallmark moment of two pigheaded obstinate stubborn men that we loved with all our hearts. Eventually after a few more occasions of us being pushed together conversation started to become easier and eventually the residue of the argument was non existent.

Pat and I rejoiced ~~ our families were growing and we were feeling comfortable around each other again.

We continued our friendship even though we had move down the shore. We compared notes of child bearing , the new Osh Kosh’s that came out. She would call me in a panic that she couldn’t find a particular toy for the holidays and I would find it down the shore and bring it up.

We shared a friendship. We shared a family. Gosh how I miss that woman!


A List of Things That Suck

1) Stores that expect you to bring your cart back to the cart area after you've emptied your bags into your trunk.  It's like if you came to my job in the hopes of getting some solar panels on your home and I asked you to do my filing too.  Oh,  you'd like to get an alternate form of energy?  Ok, here, answer my email.

1a) Stores that you have to put a quarter in the cart in order to unlock it and use it.  They think this is some clever way of getting you to return your cart to the cart area once you're done.  No, this is just one more thing for me to worry about the entire ride to the store, because I can't remember if I used my last quarter and I start panicking and looking around the car for a quarter and I break into a sweat.  I have a long food shopping trip to get through and I am starting off with a nice panicked drive to the store.  Jeez!  Shop Rite!!  You suck!!

2) People who purposely pull into a lane that they know is going to eventually merge into the same lane they just came from but is moving (slightly) faster.  Oh, wow, you just went a whole four car lengths ahead.  Oh!  And now you're cutting back in front of me!  You are so clever.  If clever means a jerk.

3) People who continually lie despite the fact that their lies are ridiculously unbelievable.  Please just stop.  You don't own a lot of real estate but keep your job at the plant just for fun.  Or, you.  You didn't hang out with NeNe last month in Atlanta. 

4) John Lithgow.

5) Clutter.  Oh, and I guess I should just come clean.  I not only dislike clutter in my house, but I dislike clutter in yours too.  I know I said that I don't mind it in your house, but that might not be true.  I'M SORRY!

6) Scooping kitty litter.  This, like John Lithgow, needs no explanation.

7) When people tell me to have another kid.  I'm going to break this one down.  Here's the thing:  the fact that I don't have an additional child means either 1) I don't want another child, or 2) I can't have another child.  Either one of those situations appear to be none of your business.  So, why keep telling me what to do?  If my case is number 1, then please realize I have my (private) reasons and it's rude to tell another adult what to do, and if my case is number 2, please realize how insensitive and hurtful your statement may be.

8) Laundry.  Mother-effing laundry. 


Some Hypotheticals...

Some of us wake up at ye ole' butt crack and get dressed in the dark so as not to wake up our husbands.  What we really don't need is for our new shirt to have, not only a tag, but a sticker, an XL sticker, that isn't noticed until 9 hours later in our work bathroom mirror.  Oh, gee, has this enormous extra-large sticker been on my back all day?  Wow.  Thanks, Kohls. 

Some people think that, because they want peanut butter on their cracker immediately-right-this-minute-not-a-minute-later, it's totally acceptable to scream at their mom in her face and expect that cracker, with peanut butter-don't-you-dare-forget-that-lady, post haste.  Those people would be wrong.  Very, very wrong.  Those people also find themselves in bed a half hour early.

Some husbands think that, after spending their day off tending to their daughter, retreating to the couch the second their wife gets home from work and not moving from that position for the rest of the night, thereby leaving their wife to clean up dinner, the house, and the kid alone, after she left the house 11 hours previously to go and work all day at her job, is going to be received well.  The husbands that do that don't get lucky...not that it matters, since they've been sleeping on the couch since 6:30 p.m. anyway. 

Some women cannot get into their heads that they are only one person and find themselves overbooking their weekends to the point that bathroom breaks are going to be a tight squeeze.  I have to sit down and write out a game plan for tomorrow in order to fit in everything that I need to do.  I never learn.   Luckily I don't have to put out tonight.

Have a good one, folks.  Cheers!


Brought To You By Coffee

Sometimes having kids feels like doing time for a crime you didn't commit.  I mean, yes, technically, with regards to Leah, I did "commit the crime."  I mean, we wanted her, and she's here due to us.  But, there are times when taking care of her seems really exhaustive and heavy and just plain tough.

I was talking to a co worker who is child-free, by choice.  He spent the weekend babysitting his 5 year-old neice, and today, Wednesday, he's still recuperating from the weekend.  He just doesn't understand how people can do this day in and day out, like deal with kids, all the time.  And, he's right.  I don't know how I do it.

We spend a lot of time in the car.  And Leah must talk, question, comment, and narrate the entire time she's in the car.  There's a lot of "Look, Mommy"s too.  It's non-stop.  When I pick her up from my sister's house on Wednesdays and am in the thick of a 45-minute commute in rush hour traffic after working for 9 straight hours, the last thing I want to do is "Look at my knee, Mommy!  Look at my sock!  Oh, man!  There's a bus!"  And if she doesn't get a reaction she will keep going, louder and louder, until she does.  So, we have a conversation for the duration of the entire ride.  Every ride.  Every day. 

Now, I don't want you all to think that I'm complaining about parenthood, because I'm not.  Much.  I knew it would be tough and challenging.  Not as tough and challenging as it actually is, but still, I had an idea.  What I'm saying is that despite the challenges, we still do it.  We still have kids.  We still run ourselves ragged taking care of them and tending to their needs.  We still think about them and worry about them.  We kiss, hug, cuddle, and snuggle them.   We love them to pieces.  More than we ever thought possible.  It's worth it.  It must be, right?

Despite being woken up at 5 a.m. this morning to the words, "I want pancakes now!" I never regret the day Greg and I decided to become parents.  I can't even remember life without Cha Cha.  And I don't want to...because I was probably well rested and energetic and richer.  And, really, who wants to think about that?



Guess What We Did This Weekend...

Clue 1: We do it every weekend.

Clue 2: 

Clue 3: She seems to enjoy it, although I really, really don't.


Diaper Days

I'm sure after Thursday's post, some of you were horrified:  "What?!  Diapers?! She still needs to buy diapers?!"

Yes.  Yeeeeeesssssss.  It is with great sadness and despair that I tell you all, we are still wearing diapers.   Actively.  Not sometimes.  Not occassionally.  Always.

That doesn't mean that she's not also using the potty.  She is.  Sometimes 2-3 times a day.  But, not enough to warrant getting rid of the diapes.  Underwear doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of staying dry, and I caught her trying to clean up an accident she had in her underpants without me knowing, which means she was embarassed/shamed/upset/pick one/whatever, which is not the feeling we want to harbor in the house about accidents.  So, I stopped asking her if she wants to wear underpants...because I don't want to spend my nights laundering them.

I know the training will come eventually, and we'll look back on our potty-training trials and tribulations and laugh (probably not laugh, more like cry) but it doesn't mean that these days, I can't fall to my knees, throw my hands up to the sky and sob dramatically,

"Why me?!  Oh god, whhhyyyyy????  For the love of all that is good and holy, have I not suffered enough?  Does the world just hate me?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!  Little old me???!!!!!"

A little too dramatic?  I'm sorry; it's been a long week.