Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hi Mom

"I read your blog again."


"Yeah, and I cried a lot."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"No, it was beautiful. And I've enjoyed everything you've been writing about Owen."

"Do you check my blog every day?"

"Yes, and I'm disappointed when you haven't written anything...so keep writing."

That was the conversation I had with my mom at 7:50 this morning when I called to tell her I wouldn't be able to walk on our lunch hour. I thought it was cute. My mom has always encouraged my writing and always seemed interested but I don't know that she's ever had the opportunity to get this deep into my thoughts before....unless she snuck a peek at my journals in high school? I wouldn't be surprised.

So, mom, it's obvious you're interested, and taking the opportunity to read what I have to say even now, but the questions is, how far back have you gone into the archives? Back to May 2008 perhaps? It's another one that may make you cry. I know I cried when I wrote it:

Originally written Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday Letters Vol. 1

Note: Yes, I realize the subject says Sunday Letters and today is in fact Monday, but if I'm going to be completely honest here I started writing it yesterday, but I started crying, and then my husband found me, and I decided I needed to distance myself from it for a while. Of course, then one thing led to another and my A.D.D. kicked in and I lost myself in the Survivor Reunion Show. Sorry Mom, but let's face it, you would have done the same thing for Survivor!

Dear Mom,

When I first told you that I would be moving out on my own almost 8 years ago you started crying, and I felt stupid because I couldn't understand why. You and I weren't getting along very well anymore and I thought my moving out of your house would actually make you happy, but that didn't seem to be the case. A couple of weeks went by before I finally caught you alone and asked what you were so upset about, and to my surprise you admitted that between my depression in high school and the way I clung to Jon so quickly afterward, you felt you and I never really had the chance to bond like you had envisioned. I didn't understand what you meant at the time, but as the years passed I watched the relationship you had developed with Kristin while she was in high school and I finally got it. You and I didn't talk about boys, or dresses, or the caddy girls at school. No, you and I screamed, and we cried, and we worried until our chests felt like they were about to explode over whether or not I was going to make it through not only another day of school but another day of life. I was a train wreck for a solid 4 years and you were the frantic family member glued to the ongoing live coverage, hoping for a sign that I was alright. You saw me hit rock bottom every morning, and every morning you helped pull me back out. Only a mother's deepest love would have done that for me, and someday I'll find a way to thank you properly.

As for the mother and daughter bonding, though it may not have seemed like it at the time, through all of the crying and yelling and weepy teenage metaphors of those hectic years, you were able to see a part of me that no one else had seen before.

You once told me what you thought my visits with the psychiatrist were like--you said you always pictured me lying on a couch, confessing my fears and deepest, darkest secrets to the doctor sitting across from me, purging all of my negativity so I could walk out of the office with a smile and renewed sense of worth.

No offense, but I thought your idea of therapy was funny.

The truth is I faked a smile with the psychiatrists and therapists for every single one of those 1 hour sessions. I put on a fake smile before I walked in the door and I removed it the moment we got back in the car. And as for what we talked about, well, we talked about the good things and only the good things, because after all, I wanted to be likeable not crazy.

In the end, what the psychiatrists and therapists and all those other head doctors got from me were lies, but what I gave you every morning was real, it was me, albeit a little harsh at times, but it was me spilling my guts to you, reaching out to the only person I felt would really, truly listen to me. That was bonding, Mom, those heavy, emotional moments are ours and only ours to keep.

I think what neither of us had realized at the time is that I was an extremely complex, quiet, yet dynamic young woman who was trying to come to terms with her complexity and uniqueness when everyone else appeared so normal. You guided me through the toughest years of my life, and I'm here, and I'm doing just fine. I think that says everything there is to say about who you are as a parent--you're an amazing woman who did everything in her power to save me, and you did.

Here's to the woman I owe everything! Happy Mother's Day!

Love always,

I love you, Mom. Oh, and let's be sure to walk tomorrow, okay?

Monday, August 30, 2010

He's really gone, isn't he?

I woke shortly after 4 AM this morning and thought, "We got the call right about now."

I watched the clock on my work computer turn from 9:44 AM to 9:45 AM and thought, "That's it guys. He's gone."

That was 2 months ago and while I would never expect to be fully healed after the loss of my brother, I do wonder how long it will be before the movie-like scenes stop playing in my head every time I think about him, when I'll be able to say the Our Father without choking up, or when will I be able to look at photos from that time without thinking, "This was taken 2 days before 'it' happened." I suppose I have to accept that "it" happened first, that "it" wasn't just a dark and depressing nightmare I had a short while ago. My brother died and it tears my heart out every time I remember.

I mentioned yesterday that Owen is finally sitting upright and I couldn't be more excited for him, but every time I set him up and brace for his fall I think of this photo we found while putting together photo boards for Rick's funeral. That's Rick bracing to catch ME if I fall. To make it all even a little more eerie, take note of the date on the photo: AUG '82. I was exactly the same age as Owen.

Life will never, ever be the same without him. I'm trying so hard to not let it overwhelm me. I'd rather spend the time and energy being thankful for having 28 years to know and love such a laid-back, non-judgemental, talented guy and AMAZING father. I've never seen kids who were more in love with their dad. He may not have left a big mark on the world per se, but he left a HUGE mark on so many hearts.

Thank you, Rick, for being such a great human being. Thank you for showing us that it's the little things in life that make it all worth living for.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


My father in law was a saint and came by for a few hours to watch the baby while I ran errands and had lunch with a friend. Being attached at the hip to Owen at all times stopped bothering me a while ago, but I'd forgotten how easy it was to get around and do something as simple as grocery shopping without a baby in-tow. I am physically 25 pounds lighter without lugging him and his car seat around, and countless pounds lighter mentally when all I have to do is get from the produce, to the deli counter, to the laundry detergent without making goofy faces or talking nonsense in an attempt to keep him entertained. It's been 6 months but I am still terrified of becoming that poor--or "annoying" depending on how heartless you are--woman with the screaming, inconsolable child at the super market. I never realized just how much I worry about whether or not he's going to freak out until today and felt so comfortable that I took the the time to read nutrition labels again!

He doesn't know it yet, but Daddy is going to have a weekly date with Baby. Mama's going to the store by herself from now on.

Other happenings for the day were...a visit with Nana, watching Owen realize that if he holds on to the ball (instead of letting me throw it) he can capture the dog's undivided attention and he thought it was the absolute funniest thing to see a dog grovel. Owen has also officially mastered the art of sitting upright! He sat in the middle of our bed and watched Dora the Explorer while I folded laundry beside him.

So much has happened so fast and even in these first 2 days of Jon being away. It's been busy, but it's been so enjoyable. Owen is blossoming and I'm finally taking the time to appreciate it. I've struggled with the concept of being self, wife, and mother since the day Owen was born, and I'm still confused by how it's supposed to work (and I'm in awe of all you women who can divide yourself between multiple children, husband, and work full-time!) but it has been an awesome weekend in which I could focus solely on being MOM and bask in the fact that my son enjoys ME equally as much.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The first 6 months of status updates

Seeing as it may take a few years before I could find the time to write about all the little details of Owen's first 6 months, and because there's a pretty good chance I will have forgotten at least 50% of the little details by then, I've decided to do the next best thing: bring all of my Owen/Parenting related Facebook updates to one place.  I wasn't sure how well it was going to work, but as it turns out, it's a fairly accurate, abbreviated version of what our new life is like.

Please note: I put forth a tremendous amount of energy both on this blog and Facebook to avoid being a Negative Nancy. You are getting mostly just the positive side of the story here. I didn't think it was necessary that our friends and family know just how often I buried my face in a pillow and cried about how badly my life sucked or how many times I asked Jon for a divorce. On the bright side, I've been given permission to blame it all on hormones.

February 22
Looks like today is finally THE day! Water is broken, contractions are rolling. Owen is defying statistics and arriving on his due date!

February 27
Thank you everyone for the congrats and well wishes on our new little addition. The 3 of us are adjusting quite well to life at home, but I'm finding little time to play on Facebook! :)

February 28
Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!! I got the biggest and best birthday gift of all this year in Owen! :)

March 2
is leaving Jon home with the baby and heading out into the world by myself for the first time in over a week. First thought: "Man, it feels strange to be able to zip up my coat!"

March 6
put the baby down for his morning nap and attempted to take a shower, but no sooner did I get a lather in my hair when Macy begins howling from the side of the crib as if to say, "Hey stupid woman, you left the little human ALONE! What kind of mother are you?!"

March 6
Have you seen that Huggies commercial where the dad takes off his baby boy's diaper and he starts hosing down the entire room? Yeah, Owen's trying to give that little boy a run for his money today. My own clothes have become a casualty...

March 9
On the bright side...Owen is official and now has a social security number. On the not so bright side...the house, dog, and all other habitants stink of skunk. :(

March 10
So...as a breastfeeding mom, how many weeks should I plan on having my butt attached to the couch?

March 15
Forgot to study up on lullabys before having a baby. I guess it's a good thing I was able to sing Owen to sleep with Billy Liar! :D

March 18
2 night hospital stay after giving birth: $1500. Large box of Pampers Newborn diapers: $40. Discovering you have the nurturing touch to rock a crying and confused baby back to sleep at 3 in the morning: Priceless.

March 25
Who's the boss? "I am the boss!" I didn't doubt it for a second.

March 27
Owen's going for a new record: 3:30AM and he's STILL fighting sleep. As it stands, there's a pretty good chance he's going to be an only child.

March 28
The hubby and baby are over at Nana's and mommy stayed home for some 'me' time. All that crying the neighbors have been enduring has suddenly turned into a 28 year old woman belting out Ani DiFranco lyrics.

March 30
Help! I think something is terribly wrong with my child--he's sleeping AT NIGHT!!

April 5
"Peace out." Headed out for a late night ride with Daddy.

April 5
was given permission to use a mostly secluded, empty cubicle to use the breast pump in, but thought it wise to wear my shaw just in case. Good thing, because I heard someone ask another someone on the other side of the wall, "Who's over there wearing a cape?!" :-D

April 8
wants to be at home listening to the baby coo...

April 10
About to chop off the pregnancy hair...Deep breaths...you can do this.

April 10
Figures. I finally get the baby down at a reasonable hour and the hubby passes out too! I didn't realize having a baby would turn us into a couple of old fogies. ;)

April 19
Random thought #752: I wonder who has made more money off of me since Owen was born...Akron General or The Energizer Bunny?

April 22
2 months ago today I called off work by saying, "I'm not in labor, but I can't focus on work with these contractions..." Owen was born 12 hours later. :)

April 22
Forget natural childbirth...pinning a baby's arms and watching his face go from smiles to screams while he gets stuck with a needle in each thigh is the new hardest thing I've ever done! :(

April 28
I bought 504 diapers and 44 lbs of dog food on my lunch hour.

April 29
One of the best things about having a baby around is that everyone gets congratulated for an impressive burp!

April 30
OK Medela, I've officially handed over this week's entire paycheck in the hopes of being able to read a book, type a paragraph--continue living my life sans electrical outlet--while using your product. Please don't let me down.

May 2
Owen has been asleep for 10 hours straight. I keep going in there and checking on him and he's fine. If only we had the money to tire him out at Wasabi every night! :)

May 3
I just dropped the baby off at the sitter's for the first time. That was a lot harder than I thought it would be...

May 3
Thanks to Medela's Freestyle I just read 2 and a half of Dooce's blogs and updated my FB status from the filing (pumping) closet at work! I might be able to update my own blog before you know it!!!

May 4
Really hoping Owen gives his new sitter an easier time today. Turns out he was a terror yesterday!

May 5
3 days of packing up baby and delivering to sitter and still arriving to work on time, 4 nights of home cooked meals, 3 consecutive evenings of walking the dogs, and the kitchen is clean!! I think we might be on our way to becoming a functional little family again.

May 6
Jon's first day of taking care of the baby all by himself. I'm not sure who I should be more afraid for...Jon or Owen! ;)

May 10
I don't know that I've ever been so exhausted.

May 12
Only one thing in my life has remained consistent since Feb. 2nd: I fall asleep during the last 15 minutes of EVERY episode of Lost!

May 14
What does it say about me as a parent when the only thing besides me that can hold my 3 month old's attention is his bouncer and ESPN?

May 24
Woke up late, no hot water, spider dangling from shower ceiling, baby didn't want to eat--just talk, got everything and everyone loaded into the car just to notice a flat tire, and then the air compressor broke mid-fill. Hello there, Monday, I hate you too!

May 29
Getting ready for a wedding while keeping a baby happy is not fun.

May 31
Owen seemed to enjoy his first camping trip and it was really awesome for Jon and I to get out of the house

June 2
Owen's old record for sleeping in his crib: 1.5 hours. Owen's new record for sleeping in his crib: ALL NIGHT! I'm not packing up the swing yet but my little boy has done made me a proud mama. :)

June 3
I don't care what anyone says...walking in 3 inch heels AND carrying a baby in carseat is an acquired skill.

June 7
Just got a weekly newsletter from the hospital regarding childcare in the baby's third month and it opens with: "3 Good Reasons to Start Pumping Now!" They must not have gotten the memo that I was only off work for 6 weeks! I've been locking myself in a file room on every break for 2 months already. :p

June 13
Took Owen for his first swim at Nana's today! Clearly we have a water baby on our hands. He LOVED it!

June 16
Should have known he'd wait for a morning I was on my own to wake up early, poop all over EVERYTHING, be hungry enough to eat a horse, throw up on me TWICE, and still be so cute that I couldn't help but spend so much time talking to him that I was late for work.

June 20
had a fun day hanging out with Brooke and baby Savannah! It's only been 4 months since she and Owen were born but it's so amazing how much they've changed. Savannah was such a good little hostess, too! She offered her toes to Owen every chance she got. :)

June 22
I'm pretty sure the fact that Owen is sleeping with a party of 17 seated next to us is proof he can sleep through anything!

June 22
Somebody woke up and ate all my pizza.

June 26
Finally taking advantage of the fact that I'm never alone by going out to lunch with Owen then hitting the towpath with him and the jogging stroller.

July 2
A little bit of sunshine amidst all this gloom: One year ago today Jon and I learned we would be having a baby! I don't know how I'd be making it through this loss without my two men.

July 11
Why didn't anyone tell me that looking into a sick baby's eyes can capture and break your heart in 2 seconds flat?!

July 22
Word of advice: Do not veer from the MapQuest directions at 11:00 at night and it's raining and the baby is asleep in the backseat and your gas light turned on about a mile ago. A 29 minute drive can easily become 69 minutes...

July 24
Baby Einstein rocks!

July 26
is thinking of starting a "Help Katie Become a Stay at Home Mommy" fundraiser. Anyone want to donate??

July 30
29 miles left to South Bend and Owen has rocked this 4.5 hour roadtrip! The best part is he only napped 30 min so we may get some sleep tonight after all.

August 6
Looking forward to spending the weekend with Owen and having absolutely nowhere we have to be!

August 6
Dilemma: Dead batteries in swing (read: the only way the baby sleeps!) and battery drawer was empty. Solution: Held the mobile at gun point (okay, maybe it was a screwdriver) and emptied it of D-cells. I've gotten feisty in my 5.5 months as a mom!

August 10
Feet up on dashboard: We know he got at least 1 habit from mama!

August 10 
Can we have carrots for dinner?? Please!!

August 13
It would figure Owen chooses to roll over for the first time when Aunt Kristin is watching him. She'll probably witness his first steps and hear his first words too! :(

August 14
Saturday night, the baby is asleep, and the hubby and I are sitting around quizzing each other with the iCarly trivia questions on individually wrapped pieces of Frigo string cheese. We are awesome.

August 16
A little advice for all the new moms and dads and parents-to-be: Don't wake a sleeping baby. Do take a few moments every day to watch and admire the most precious little person in your life while he sleeps peacefully.

August 25
WARNING: Your baby may begin singing himself to sleep at 6 months. Be prepared for the most adorable sound you have ever heard.

You are my sunshine

On our way home from the birthday party I stopped to fill up my tank, and as I was standing at the gas pump I looked in at Owen, and caught him staring back at me with these soft, glossy, I'm-so-tired-you're-the-most-wonderful-thing-I've-ever-seen eyes. I tried to take my time to analyze the look and find the words to describe the emotions that were welling up inside me and then I finally got it: For the first time I genuinely and completely understood the song You Are My Sunshine. My world would be so dark without him and that precious face.

Have you seen this daddy?

Right about now my husband is flying 38,000 feet above Alexandria, Louisiana and my first week of playing a single mom has officially begun. That's right. It's that time of year again. The one that used to be filled with chick flicks, dinner with friends, and gobs and gobs of personal time and will now consist of Baby Einstein, pureed carrots at the dinner table, and gobs and gobs of Owen time. Jon has left for the 2010 conference, and due to a recent promotion, he'll be gone a little longer.

I'm probably getting ahead of myself, and will have to smack myself later in the week for saying this, but I'm not really worried about whether or not I can handle the responsibility of soul parent. I knew this was coming and had plenty of time to prepare and that preparation involved removing any dependencies Owen may have on Jon. I had to make Owen dependent on me for comfort and food. I am the first person he sees in the morning and the last he sees before falling asleep. Jon sort of became this big, funny toy that did a LOT of housework. I don't know if that was the right way to prepare or not. I guess we'll see.

One thing I do suspect--and don't tell my husband I said this--I will be much more productive without him here, mostly because I have to be, but partly because his laid-back, things-will-take-care-of-themselves-sometime-this-century attitude is a little contagious!

Anyway, on the agenda for today is my nephew's 3rd birthday party for which an awesome gift has already been purchased, wrapped, and tagged with a bow. After that, perhaps some housework, but definitely some one-on-one chill time with my baby boy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Week 1 Day 1: FAIL

Dear Self,

Don't beat yourself up. Some people just aren't meant to be runners.

Your sore ankles.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Right Where We Belong

Last weekend Jon and I packed up the car and prepared Owen for a 4.5 hour road trip to South Bend, Indiana where 3 really awesome things happened:

1. Owen crossed his first state line, something it took me 11 years to accomplish!

2. My Uncle Charlie married his college sweetheart on the St. Mary's at Notre Dame campus. It was my first wedding reception with a real live band! Something I thought only happened in movies!

3. I toured the the campus of The University of Notre Dame with 2 of my siblings and found this Cancer Awareness Tree:


Each color ribbon represented a different type of cancer for anyone's loved ones who have either survived or lost their battle with cancer.


Even the pathway leading to and from the tree was in the shape of a ribbon.


My sister Kimberly and her daughter Elizabeth tied a ribbon for our brother Rick who died of leukemia on June 30, 2010.


There were so many ribbons...


Rick's white ribbon, front and center.

We came across the tree just in time, because as Kim finished tying the ribbon another small group of people walked up to the tree, noted there were no more white ribbons out loud and slumped their shoulders. Kim then looked at them apologetically and said, "I'm sorry. We just took the last white ribbon. It was for our brother."

Then she walked away without looking back.

Something about the way she said it and the way she held herself--shoulders back and head high--assured me that we were all going to make it through this. At that moment I was convinced that one day, in the not so distant future, hearing his name or remembering the sound of his voice isn't going to cause a stabbing pain in our chests but spread a loving warmth from our hearts to our finger tips.