Dear Mom...

Leah turned two last week, and we had a small family party for her over the weekend.  You were definately missed, but I have to admit it's getting easier to handle parties and holidays.  Soon after you died, get-togethers were difficult.  We found ourselves just standing there staring at each other physically missing the void you left. 

When it would come time to clear the table, we'd still wait for your direction on who should do what.  When it came time to make the coffee, we'd forget that you were no longer there and someone had to pick up the slack. 

And pick up the slack is what we've done.

Daddy is now the only parent we have, and he must do the job of mom and dad.  He is the only grandparent of Leah's that lives in NJ, so he must fill those shoes, too.

Adriana and I now take care of making sure the table is set, the food is served, the dishes are washed, and the coffee is served.  Gone are the days of being waited on; we now automatically make sure it happens.

And Marco?  You'll be happy to know that he is still the impatient, lazy PITA that he was when you were here.  How proud you must be!

So, I hope this doesn't upset you, Ma, but we are doing a lot better when we are all together.  It's no longer a pity party, where we all feel bad for ourselves and are reminded at every turn that you are no longer here. 

We've picked up the pieces, and, although we drop a few occasionally, we are managing.  And we are doing well.  Very well. 


So, there, internet.  That is my news.  You can re-direct your "Congratulations on the new baby" cards from me to Marco.  Unless the card states, "Congratulations on the new baby, AUNT DANA."

Mom and Dad-2007.

Haha, totally kidding. It was the 70's, as if you couldn't tell.


G's Spot: Vegetable Spring Rolls

Vegetable Spring Rolls


¼ cup crumbled goat cheese

Small spaghetti squash (you will only need ½)

3 small baby zucchini, julienned

10 Vietnamese spring roll wrappers

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

½ tsp. garlic powder

½ Tbsp. rice wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Mise en Place:

1) Cut spaghetti squash in half; take out stringy inside and all seeds. Put ½ away. (You can wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for a few days before preparing.) Brush the other ½ with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 40-60 minutes. Shred and chill.

2) Sauté the julienned zucchini with a little olive oil. Chill, then add rice wine.

3) If you have never used Vietnamese spring roll wrappers, it’s simple. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it. Put some water in a shallow bowl. Place a wrapper in the water for about 30 seconds to a minute. You want to soften the wrappers to perfect rolling consistency. As you do more, you’ll be able to tell how long it takes for them to soften up to the working consistency you want. If you let them get too soft, they will rip; too hard and they can’t be worked with. Keep in mind they will continue to soften as you fill and roll them.

4) When you are ready to roll the wrappers, be sure to season the zucchini and squash with salt and pepper.

5) Place a softened wrapper on a flat surface. Spread a tablespoon of the zucchini down the length of the wrapper.  Sprinkle a little of the goat cheese on top of the zucchini.  Spread a tablespoon of the spaghetti squash on top of the mixture.

6) Begin by rolling the back of the wrapper over the filling.

7) Fold in the edges.

8) Continue rolling.

9. Enjoy!


Birthday Weekend


Well, someone turned two over the weekend.

And has decided she’s ready to wear makeup.

Friday morning Leah woke up to a new high chair for her babies.

And a sushi set from her friends Matthew and Brendan who live in Vermont.


A little snuggle with daddy.

A birthday breakfast...

And then school, of course.

Later on, Aunt Christie came for dinner.

On Saturday, we went to visit the Easter Bunny.
But, sitting on his lap is not Leah’s bag.
So, she posed with the big eggs instead.

Then, it was lunch time.

What? Is there something on my face?

Sunday was party day!
And all of our family came over to celebrate Leah turning two.

There were presents to open.

Would you like to hear "Free Bird"?
Hold on, let me go get my tinkerbell guitar.

Wait a second!  Stop the party! 
Birthday girl needs to potty. 
And have some fruit snacks. 


Ok, party on.  Let's have coffee and cake!

Can you please pass me a Splenda?

Do not even TALK to me until I've had my mid-day coffee.

And, then, it was time to go to sleep. 

Even princesses sleep.



My original due date was March 25th.  After some thinking, Greg and I realized that that date made perfect sense. (*censored backstory*)  It was a few weeks later, when the baby was measured during a sonogram, that my due date was changed to March 30th.  But, I knew I would go into labor on the 25th.

It was 12:00 p.m. on the 25th of March in 2008, and I felt the first contraction as I took the last bite of a hot dog all the way.  (Only a few people will know exactly what that is, but you should know they are very good.)  I was surprised since I had just returned home from an appointment where my doctor had told me that I was no where close to giving birth.  But I knew it was a contraction.  I knew it was starting.

My husband?  My concerned, supportive, loving husband? Left me at home and went to his friend's house. 

I went into my bedroom and for the next 11 hours, I tracked my contractions, while Greg came in and out of the room throughout the day to inform me of the next friend he was going to see.  It was so beautiful to be going through the birth of our first child alone and in my bedroom. 

At least my mother in law had gotten me one of those waterproof mattress pads.

Several hours later, after I had dutifully typed up Greg's homework for a food handling class he was taking, WHILE HAVING CONTRACTIONS PEOPLE, my husband finally agreed to move the whole outfit to my dad's house, who lived considerably closer to the hospital.

And, at 1:00 a.m. after I promised a cruel and unusual divorce if he didn't bring to me the hospital immediately, off we went to St. Joseph's in lovely downtown Paterson, NJ.  (And those of you who know Paterson, know that is sarcasm.  Coincidentally, the ones who know Paterson are probably also the ones who know hot dogs all the way.)  And upon arrival I was given a nice healthy dose of an epidural and assigned a room that was three floors below where my mom had lived for 10 days on life support 4 months earlier. 

     Sidenote: One of my biggest fears during the latter half of my pregnancy was that when I went  into labor I was not going to be able to stop thinking about our time in the hospital when my mom was sick.  I was afraid it would consume me and I wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything else.  That I was going to ruin everything by being crazy.  HOWEVER, labor pains are so incredibly debilitating that, until the final push, I didn't think of my mom's death ONCE. 

Back to the epidural.  I'm not sure if I was supposed to not feel anything below my stomach, but that's what happened and man, at that point, I NEEDED THAT.

And, another 8 hours after that, I began pushing, while my sister and Greg cheered me on.  AND, another 3 hours after that, two doctors, a couple of med students, four nurses, and a cheering section of about 15 various medical staff (janitor? probably.) successfully pulled out my daughter with the help of 1) sheer will, 2) some Jersey muscle, and 3) forceps.  At 12:12 p.m. on March 26, 2008.

That's 24 hours and 12 minutes of labor for those keeping track.

Now, this is the part where I would love to tell you that the second they laid her on my chest I looked down and reconized this child as my baby...but that would be lying.  Because, for me, I looked at this bloody, angry, black-haired, large-cheeked baby and thought, "WHO are you? You don't look like me, or your dad, or anyone in the family, and I cannot BELIEVE that YOU were in ME  You are your own little person!"  And then they whisked her away and began the task of "stitching me up."  (Won't go into details.) (You're welcome.)

I was always in awe of Leah.  I just couldn't believe that I had taken part in creating her.  She entered this world screaming and barking out orders and hasn't stopped since.  I'm a pretty strong willed person, but she takes the cake.  I have met my match in her, and all I have to say to that is, thank god.  Because Leah has saved my life.

I don't know how my dad, brother, and sister have managed thus far without a Leah of their own.  But all I know is that if I didn't have her, my life would not be where it is today.  I don't know if I would have made it.  If I didn't have something growing in my stomach reminding me of her imminent arrival, I wouldn't have had anything to live for in those first few months after my mom's death.  And if I didn't have someone as needy and helpless as my newborn baby, I wouldn't have been able to get through the first year of holidays without my mom.  And if I didn't have anything as beautiful and intelligent as my daughter, I wouldn't be able to get through the days that are hard to live.

She makes me be a better person; she makes me sit up and see what's going on around me; she makes me notice the small things; she makes me feel happiness and saddness and anger and joy; she makes me crazy; she makes me estatic; she makes me feel.  I don't think I'd want to be feeling anything if I didn't have her. 

She makes me live.

I wake up every day for my husband, but I get out of bed for my Leah.
And she makes me live for ME. 

And today, my Leah Patricia is two.  It's been the hardest two years of my life, but the best ones too.  And I pray that when she is old enough, she understands what that sentence means.

Happy Birthday, Leah. You've made me who I am today.



I got some news tonight, and I'm not ready to share it just yet, but it's something that would have made my mom really happy.  I had a hard time hearing the news, because my mom is not here to hear it, and I keep going through this bi-polar craze where I am happy for the news one minute and then devastated because my mom's not here to share it the next. 

I have a feeling that this is how good news is going to feel for a long time.  Or at least for a while.  Until it no longer feels this way.  Which I wish would come soon, but then that means that I am somehow forgetting my mom, and I don't want that to happen...so I'm thankful that good news makes me sad?  But that doesn't sound right.  So, clearly I'm confused.

If I am lucky to live to be 62, then I will have not had my mom in my life for as long as I did have her.  My sister has to only live to be 50 for that to occur for her. 

Today is emotional day.  1) The news, 2) Two years ago today my contractions began (more on that tomorrow) and 3) There are days where I don't do well.  I'm just gonna lay my cards on the table and be honest with you all.  There are days where I think about my mom, myself, my life, my job, my home, my everything, and the bad seems to outweigh the good. 

Even when I hear good news.


Last Words (And Giveaway Winner)

On the evening of Thursday, November 8, 2007, I called my mom and told her that I had just felt my daughter kick from inside my belly.  I was just about 20 weeks along and was getting nervous and anxious (me? nervous and anxious? How unlike me) because I hadn't really felt Leah move much throughout my pregnancy.  All of my pregnant friends were complaining about kicks to the ribs by this point, and I wasn't even sure if the small tiny flutters I were feeling were baby movements or just gas.  (PS-it was gas. Because I still feel those flutters, and I am most definately NOT pregnant.)

So, on Thursday, November 8, 2007 I laid down on the couch with my hands on my stomach, like I did EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and waited to feel her move.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally, she moved.  TWICE!  I called my mom immediately.

And that was the last time I spoke to her.

On the afternoon of Friday, November 9, 2007 I emailed my mom to ask her if she had the name and address of the makeup lady I had used for my wedding.  I was finally writing vendor thank yous, and I didn't have the makeup lady's information.  She wrote me back at 12:42 p.m. and this is what the email said:

                                     Here's Rhonda's address:

                                              Miss Rhonda S*****
                                              1** C***** Avenue
                                              Little Falls, NJ 07424

                                    Talk to you soon!

 And that is the last letter I have from her.
Definately kicks more now.
Ok, now onto something more fun---THE PEN GIVEAWAY. 
So, I counted the entries and we have 8.  (The last two don't count, as they are from my tool-husband.)  Since we are small potatoes here at DeenutsDana, I cut 8 pieces of paper and put them in a container.
Here a where a picture of the 8 pieces of paper was to go, but Blogger has some issue with me and turns my pictures sideways when I upload them and I don't have the patience to deal with this today.
Then, I asked a co-worker to pick a piece of paper.  If anyone that I work with reads this, please note that this endeavor took 40 seconds and was done while we were all on break.  Ahem.
This is Adam and he installs solar panels for a living. 
Let's give it up for Adam.
That's says 6, and the 6th comment was left by ANDREA CLAYTON.  Who just happens to be my husband's cousin.  But, I swear, it wasn't fixed!  I've emailed Andrea to inform her that she is the lucky goose who gets the pen, and will be mailing that off to her today.

I know this giveaway was sort of lame, but I'm using it as a test case, and I think it was pretty fun.  I'm going to try it again soon, and I promise we'll get some better prizes as we go along.  I've enabled AdSense on this blog, and for every click that one of the ads gets, I make a little money.  I'm going to use that money for the giveaways on this website.


The Healing Corner: April's Story; Part Two


I still drive by your

old, blue and white

house on the Boulevard,

number 247.

Your silver Buick is still

parked in the driveway

and the tulips and snapdragons

still bloom in the garden.

The wooden boards are still

on the Weeping Willow

that once led to our

childhood treehouse.

I still can see the kitchen,

smell the aroma of

your homemade stew,

still see the puzzle lying

unfinished on the dining room table.

Under the stairs, I can still

see the carved names of us,

your grandchildren,

marking our place.

I can see you still sitting

in the orange-red recliner,

knitting a scarf,

or a sweater,

(I can’t really remember).

Upstairs, in your old bedroom

I can still see the

Black-beaded rosaries

on the dresser.

And in the playroom,

I can still see us dealing cards

and building magnet cities.

I slam my brakes when I now see

another family

walking to a different car,

and the boards are torn from the tree

in front of the yellow-painted house

with the now barren garden off to the side.

It is now when I realize that still

only exists in my heart.

editor's note: The Healing Corner is a section of this blog that is open for contributions from readers. You can write about yourself, a loved one (with us or deceased), my mom, a pet, a particular time in your life, etc. The sky's the limit with The Healing Corner. I will gladly accept any form of writing (letter, story, poem, haiku,) and you are more than welcome to include pictures. Your submission can include your name, can remain anonymous, or can be accompanied with a pen name; it's entirely up to you. All I ask is that the submission be from the heart. Thank you.

Send Submissions Here.


Life With This Guy

This guy.

Come Spring, life with this guy gets very interesting.  It's Gardening Time.  And, so, if you look around the house, you see this:

A closeup:

It's EVERYWHERE. The plant stand in the hallway looks innocent enough...


But look closer.

The basement...


The deck:


It's everywhere.  And Greg is excited. He talks about the seeds--the sprouts, the plants, the greens--all day long.  He spritzes them all with water several times a day.  I have to admit, it's cool to go to bed to a bucket of dirt and wake up to rows of little teensy sprouts. 

This guy:  he's pretty great.

**Don't forget: DeenutsDana's first GIVEAWAY is still going on until Wednesday!  Make sure you head on over HERE and enter!**