Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Owen Speak

It's true what they say, a toddler's language begins as a trickle and very quickly becomes a flood of new words. Here are some of Owen's favorites, and most recent:

thank you
nana (works for both Grandma and banana)

He may say little, but he understands SO much.

I recently discovered he's been talking to us in sign language, so much so that I had to borrow a book from the library to understand what he was saying. Turns out many rough nights could have been avoided if only I'd figured out sooner that he was telling me "more" and "sleep" with his hands. I guess this is what happens when your toddler becomes smarter than you. Believe it or not, I'm stilling trying to track down the source of the sign language.

He's also quite skilled at animal noises, most notably: monkey, dog, sheep, lion, and a very convincing "Naaaaaaaaayyyyyy" of a horse.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I'm not ignoring you, I promise

October is proving to be a very busy month for us and it's been a wonderful change of pace. I've also been meeting some really nice people who I've found myself bonding with rather quickly which is equally awesome. I'm even going to see a movie tomorrow for the first time since moving here and it's NOT with my husband! More details on the friendly new people to come.

Anyway, this month we have visitors on the way, we're going home for a weekend, and we're venturing to Virginia for what should be an interesting Halloween party. Things are looking up on the social front but I'll do my best not to slip too much on the blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

This is the sound of my heart breaking

Owen just made me put him to bed WITHOUT ROCKING AND SINGING TO HIM FIRST. He waved and said "Bye" to me from his crib instead.

This must be the feeling of being unneeded that drives some mothers to think it's time for another baby. I can see how that happens. Next thing you know he'll be singing his ABCs, escorting a girl to homecoming, graduating college, and making me a grandmother.

This can't be happening.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I have three loves in my life

My husband, my son, and Chipotle. And they were all around the dining room table for lunch today:

This kid can't get enough rice, black beans, and guacamole. It's so good he opted to forgo the fork (which he's perfectly capable of using) and use his fist because it can handle much larger quantities. Disgusting to most, I'm sure, but Mama is quite proud.

It could be work, it could be Facebook, or it could be Angry Birds. Whatever it is, I usually get the overwhelming urge to grab it and throw it across the room, but only while we're eating a meal. I guess I'd prefer he watch Owen and I shovel food into our mouths by the fistfuls. Then again, my iPhone must have been close enough at hand to snap these photos so who am I to complain?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's like "Choose your own adventure" only I chose it for you...

You're waiting in the drive-thru at the bank when a blue minivan suddenly whips into the parking lot next door and parks behind the building advertising batteries. A soccer mom in her late thirties jumps out of the driver's seat and runs around to the back of the van where she is entirely hidden from street view.

She doesn't realize she's actually standing right in front of you when she quickly pulls down her shorts revealing a big, cellulite covered butt. And before you can even think WTF! she squats and unleashes enough urine to drown a large army of ants.

You're shocked by what's happening less than 100 feet away so you look around to see if anyone else has noticed. You spot the little old woman in a powder blue Cadillac in the next lane over. She's having trouble fishing her jaw out of her lap while keeping an eye on the other woman. Nope, you're not the only witness to this craziness.

After taking care of business, the woman replaces first her animal print thong, then black pleated shorts remarkably fast and climbs back into the van. You take a second to wonder if she's ever considered keeping a roll of toilet paper in the glove compartment.

She starts the engine and realizes she will have to turn the van around completely in order to get out from behind the building, and in her hurry to relieve herself, she didn't leave herself a lot of room to maneuver. This results in much rocking back and forth between drive and reverse. Just when she's almost gained enough room to leave, she looks over at the bank and notices the little old lady in the blue Caddie all wide-eyed and open-mouthed, and you, with a massive grin, obviously having a hard time holding your shit together.

She suddenly realizes she had an audience all along and whips out from behind the building almost as fast as she pulled in.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I only waited 2.5 months for this

Last night marked my 11th consecutive night of uninterrupted sleep. I've been hesitant to post anything about it -- and I'm still a little afraid to be typing this now -- because I don't want to jinx it. I feel like Owen is 4 weeks old again and I'm praising God on Facebook because he let us sleep through the night, only this time it isn't Owen, it's a fully grown man with insanely heavy feet and what seemed to be a terrible case of insomnia.

I know I started off saying the Elephant Man wasn't so bad considering, but at some point shortly after my original post he began to get progressively worse each night. What was he doing? Oh, you know, running laps that started just above our heads in the bedroom, progressed down the hall, through the dining room, around the living room, through the kitchen, back up the hall and then around the bedroom about 40 times. This went on ALL NIGHT LONG from 11 PM to 6:30 AM when the dude finally left for what must be a 5 hour stint at work because he'd come home at noon each day and start all over again. There were days when my computer monitor shook from the ruckus going on upstairs.

We were visiting the leasing office an average of once a week to beg for help. They weren't helping. In fact, it seemed to be making matters even worse. We were starting to break, our fuses had run out, and just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, the constant noises started waking Owen in the middle of the night too. What's worse than two grown adults not getting enough sleep? A toddler not getting enough sleep. Twelve days ago, I was pretty sure we would all kill each other.

Then it stopped. Suddenly it sounded like a herd of elephants had moved out and a perfectly normal, perhaps even respectful family moved in, complete with the little pitter patter of toddler feet. No one moved in or out of the building as far as I know, but I'll be damned if all I hear is the occasional creaking of floor boards and not a single heel falling heavily above my head. All of the crashing and door slamming has stopped during the day as well.

I've got my fingers crossed and hopes held high for this to be a permanent change. I worry the Elephant Man has only gone on vacation and could return at any moment. For mine and my family's sake, I really hope that isn't the case. It would be really super awesome to never use the Elephant Man label on another blog post for the rest of my life.

I walked down to the leasing office this afternoon and for the first time in a long time it wasn't to file a complaint. I thanked them instead for finally helping me get a full night's sleep.

Monday, September 26, 2011

His father's son

I know all of the parenting gurus and "mommies who know best" say you shouldn't let a child under the age of 2 watch any television, but this is one rule we break that I have absolutely no guilt for breaking. Our television is by no means a babysitter. We still do plenty of indoor and outdoor activities together. We just also enjoy watching morning cartoons with our waffles and the occasional Saturday afternoon movie. And even though I was never a huge fan of Star Wars growing up, I'm strangely tickled pink that Owen shares a curious interest in one of his daddy's favorite past times.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How I know I've reached hermit status

With 12 days left in my cell phone billing cycle:

Anytime minutes: 1 of 450 used

Night & weekend minutes: 17 of 5000 used

Rollover minutes: 0 of 740 used

Text messages: 75 of 1000 used

Days blogged in September: 10 of the last 17

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thirty six

Today would have been Rick's 36th birthday and all I can think is how in just a few short years us younger siblings will begin to surpass him in age. That's just not how it's supposed to be. Women aren't supposed to be widowed in their early 30s. 13-year-old girls aren't supposed to cry themselves to sleep because they miss their father. 5-year-old boys aren't supposed to look at the sky when they talk to their Daddy. Fathers aren't supposed to feel guilty for surviving 3 heart attacks. Mothers aren't supposed to look back on a miraculous birth and feel so much pain in their heart because the life they brought in to this world was taken away unexpectedly.

It's been over a year and I still cry often, usually close to important days, but it's not usually for my loss. It's for them. As a sister I miss my brother, but as a wife, a child, and a parent, my heart is broken for everyone whose lives were effected on a whole different level from mine. My loss can never compare to what they must experience on birthdays, anniversaries, or even the first day of school.

They say time heals all wounds but losing a loved one at 34 surely leaves a few big, gaping scars.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Traveling Baltimore, Part 2: Inner Harbor & Hampden

Where were we? Oh, yes! Baltimore's Inner Harbor actually took me by surprise. I guess I was expecting something similar to Downtown Cleveland -- tall buildings, lots of water, and an empty pier or two -- but I got so much more from Baltimore. The harbor is not only beautiful, but it's also very functional. They have shopping malls, restaurants, museums, fountains, Camden Yards Stadium, water taxis, paddle boats and an abundance of free attractions and street artists to gawk at. Perhaps the most memorable moment of our trip was when I started whining about my camera malfunctioning and Jon assuring me it was no big deal, we could just take pictures another time, and just when I was about to mouth off by asking how that was possible I remembered, dude, we live here and I can come down here whenever I want! That realization almost took my breath away. This is our home. Owen will grow up surrounded by this place. I kinda like that idea.

Right next door to the National Aquarium is this really cool building built as a power plant in 1900 and renovated in 2000. It now houses the awesome combination of a Barnes and Noble and a Hard Rock Cafe as well dozens of other small shops and restaurants:

Here is a view of the aquarium from across the harbor.

A view of Federal Hill and the boats docked in front. I didn't notice them at the time, but somehow I caught what appears to be a very sweet moment between two people under the light post.

Standing on the Inner Harbor looking back at Downtown Baltimore. Check out all of the people -- there is so much life here.

This is only one of the many ships and submarines permanently docked in the harbor. Some of them have even been turned into museums.

A fountain!! I've only seen these things in movies...

You know I immediately ripped off his shoes and stuck him in the water.

He wasn't sure what to make of it at first, but just after I snapped this photo a huge smile spread across his face.

Then he ran off and I couldn't ignore the adorable foot prints her left behind.

We stopped by a frozen custard stand and got ourselves some refreshments before leaving for the day.

The original plan was to head home then as it was nearly 5:00 and the closest thing Owen had to a nap was the car ride between Bob Evans and Charm City Cakes, but then I had the most wonderful idea: Hampdenfest!! Hampden is this really awesome, eclectic neighborhood not far from downtown. If you're relatively familiar with the Cleveland area think Coventry Road but spanning many blocks in each direction, without the commercial establishments of BD's Mongolian Barbecue and Chipotle, and instead of cramped apartment buildings it is street after street of attractive row houses. Basically, it's lots of cool, locally owned store fronts selling everything from soaps to pink feather boas to sports memorabilia to coffee scones and Hampdenfest is just a fun way for all of the vendors to get together and setup a sidewalk sale of sorts but with live music, hula hoops, skate board ramps, and a toilet bowl race. I also took this opportunity to have my very first crab soft pretzel. Yep, sounds questionable, but it was quite delicious.

Entering Hampdenfest:

Just in case you managed to miss the men in capes and strange hats racing down hill on toilets with wheels, the race is this way:

What was that I said in my earlier post? Oh, that's right! It isn't Baltimore without a little crab, and it's even better when mixed with football:

This photo of Cafe Hon captures two things very Baltimore: the pink flamingo and the expression "Hon". Hampden is sometimes referred to as Hontown as this term of endearment is used by everyone.

Let it be known that I hate SpongeBob and refuse to let Owen watch the show but there's something about the annoying character that attracts Owen and I couldn't refuse letting him have a balloon. Besides, the balloon bought us enough time to have another beer and catch another song or two despite the little one's lack of a nap. It's been over a week and I still can't get over how well behaved he was that whole day!

And that's it for this trip, folks! We have high expectations for this fall as we still hope to visit Washington, Philadelphia, and NYC although I'm thinking a trip to New York might be more exciting during the holidays, but we'll see. It makes me smile to remember I was 11 years old before leaving Ohio for the first time and Owen's got me beat by almost as many years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Retail Therapy

This evening I...

picked up Owen from day care...

came home and fed everyone dinner...

loaded the dish washer...

put on mascara and my coat and told Jon I was leaving...

I was going to blow. I could feel it, but I couldn't explain it. Everything Jon was doing was annoying me, and everything Owen was doing was even worse.  I haven't been sleeping well and Jon has been working late every evening and Owen, well, he's doing some SERIOUS teething and boundary testing and I can't keep him happy for nothing. Add to that the fact that I rarely get out of the house for more than picking up Owen, walking the dog, or a little grocery shopping and I was feeling cornered into a never-ending bad situation. See what I mean? BAD MOOD.

So I went exploring again only this time I dared myself not to turn on the GPS...

and I found my way to Timonium...

and I found an Old Navy...

and I found a plaid pea coat in the exact fit and color I've been wanting for a very long time...

and now I have a little chunk of plaid and wool happiness.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gift from Vegas

"Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr."

If you don't follow Big Bang Theory this probably looks like a really corny t-shirt, but if you're a fellow geek, then you know just how awesome my husband is for bringing it home for me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Because I'm feeling very juvenile

Dear Diary,

Yesterday I met a new friend. Her name is Martha and she's from Minnesota. She has a very cute dog named Poppy. Poppy and Jack get along really well! We made plans to get together tonight so the dogs could have a play date. It was a lot of fun! Poppy and Jack chased each other through the yard while Martha and I got to know each other. Martha's neighbors don't keep her awake at night. Then Martha's friend Mary came out to talk to us. Mary is very nice, too. She brought her dogs Percy and Patterson. Patterson and Jack fought over a tennis ball the whole time. All of our dogs are the same colors. I think we'll be best friends 4 ever!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Traveling Baltimore, Part 1: The Aquarium

Quoted from Baltimore's 5:30 newscast on Friday 9/9/11: "Both Washington, DC and New York City have been threatened with terrorist attacks and Baltimore is right in the middle of them! Stay tuned to see what measures have been taken to keep our city safe this weekend."

I'll be the first to admit that most Cleveland news channels are over the top dramatic in an effort to boost their ratings, but somehow Baltimore manages to take it to a whole new level. Is Baltimore between Washington and New York? Absolutely, but so are 230 miles worth of other cities including Philadelphia and the entire state of New Jersey.

Nevertheless, this newscast and the recommendation of a few friends and family made us change our plans about heading to Washington this weekend for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I thought it would be touching to attend the memorials that are planned but as a mother it also felt a little risky. So, we opted to head out early Saturday morning and explore our own city instead. And I'm so glad we did because it was a spectacular day and a reassuring reminder of just how lucky we were to end up here because this place is's very US. I don't even know how else to describe it.

We started off at Bob Evan's for breakfast:

Owen endlessly flirted with our waitress and kept stealing food from my plate. He said thank you or "dank du" to EVERYTHING. He was so charming, in fact, that they decided to take his meal off of the bill and give us coupons for free meals next time. With a face like this (his, not mine) and a pleasant mood, I often find it hard not to give the boy his every wish.

Next, we set out for Baltimore's Inner Harbor but first we made a slight detour at the special request of our Aunt Char and swung by Charm City Cakes, a cake shop so awesome it was worthy of 10 seasons of reality television on Ace of Cakes.

Let me apologize for the quality of this photo in advance. You can probably tell it was taken from the inside of our car, and well, that's because the area was a fun mix of row houses and small corner shops but it looked a little....rough, and I was too much of a candy ass to get out of the car alone and start snapping pictures.

Questionable neighborhood or not, these guys are rock stars when it comes to cakes.  And just when I thought I'd have to start up a new savings account to one day TASTE one of their cakes I read that they've released a line of affordable cake pops! Fabulous!

Next up, the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor and I'm here to tell you that the National Aquarium is like ten thousand gallons of awesomesauce! So much so that we opted to splurge and become members for a year as opposed to buying a one day pass. I mean, Owen isn't even 2 years old and he couldn't get enough of it. It's like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for all things aquatic. The first exhibit you see is the giant sting ray pool which remains visible through most of the aquarium. They have everything from tiny minnows to massive whale fossils, and a rooftop rainforest. My favorite was probably the giant pink octopus. I cannot recommend it enough if you are ever in the Baltimore area, or even if you're not in the area and want to make plans to crash on our couch after a long day at the aquarium we're totally cool with that, too.

Again, I must apologize as my photos do not even begin to do this place justice. I was focused more on paying attention to and capturing Owen as opposed to the exhibits because, you know, we can go back anytime, but Owen's first impression can only happen once.

The view of the aquarium from Pratt Street:

The  35 foot waterfall that greets you at the entrance:

This was Owen's first face -to-face encounter with fish that day and it introduced his theme for the day-- lots of pointing and shouting "WOAH!":

Crossing one of the horizontal escalators and looking down on the ray pool which was by far Owen's favorite exhibit:

The rooftop rainforest which also offered  great views of Downtown Baltimore and the harbor:

Owen and Jon walking through the multi-level shark tank. Owen was equally freaked out by and fascinated with sharks. He wouldn't let go of Daddy's hand:

The dolphin show! I will never forget the look on Owen's face when he heard the dolphins "speak" for the first time and realized a dolphin sounds an awful lot like the squeaky noise he makes every time he sees a monkey. Needless to say, he now makes it whenever he sees a dolphin as well:

Our last stop at the aquarium was the jellyfish exhibit which was kept dark to show off how bright a jellyfish actually is. This is the last photo I managed to take before the battery died on my camera:

And just for kicks, Owen and Jon inside the massive jaws of a shark:

And it isn't Baltimore if there isn't a little crab:

Our next destination was traveling Baltimore's Inner Harbor just outside of the aquarium, and despite having a dead camera I did manage to get some really fun photos with my iPhone. So many, in fact, that this is going to have to be a two part blog.

Stay tuned to see why it's so easy to fall in love with this city!

Friday, September 9, 2011

As long as I'm living my baby you'll be

When Owen was only a few weeks old and I was desperate for even one solid hour of sleep I remember scouring every piece of new parenting literature I could find for some sure fire way to get him on a sleep schedule. I laugh at that now because I know you can't get a newborn on a schedule. You survive on shots of 5-Hour Energy and chocolate chip granola bars, but I was new to parenting and I was naive and would not learn this until much later.

I did eventually find a routine after roughly 3 months of cohabiting with my munchkin. I learned it was easiest when I started the evening with him in a warm bath, followed by changing into warm and fuzzy footy pajamas (he was a winter baby after all), and a bedtime story, usually a book called Love You Forever. I would then give him his last bottle of the evening and sing him three songs: Hush Little Baby, You are my Sunshine, and Rock-a-bye Baby while I slowly rocked him to sleep. The whole process took nearly two hours, most of which was spent on rocking him to sleep because God forbid if I were to lay him down while still even the teeny tiniest bit awake. If Mama made that mistake she was looking at another 30 or so minutes of rocking, easy.

Anyway, the routine was very time consuming but it worked and at 3 months we were ALL sleeping like a baby through the night, so I tried not to complain too much.

But then...THEN my dumb ass kept searching for parenting tips on the internet and came across this snippet of advice: Whatever bedtime routine you choose for your baby now, be prepared to follow for the next 2 years.

I freaked out. Two years? I was going to lose 2 hours of my life EVERY NIGHT for the the next TWO YEARS?! I wanted to punch myself in the face. This was just one more thing on a very long list of things that I had totally done wrong as a parent. And Owen was only 3 months old. My parenting skills = EPIC FAIL.

Or so I thought then...

Fast forward 15 months. Owen is now 1.5 years old and we still have a very solid bedtime routine to follow. We have bath time only it's not so much about getting clean as it is wearing him out with toy fishes and boats that float around him, lots of stacking cups that he uses to pour water from one to the other, and a crazy bubble machine that sings and lights up.

Bath time is followed by changing into our pajamas and giving Daddy a hug and kiss good night. I love this part because Owen doesn't hug with his arms so much as by laying his head on you and in this case, he's usually burying his face in Jon's thigh (because we're all usually standing at hug time) and then Owen very gingerly reaches out for my hand and we walk to his bedroom.

Sometimes we read a story, but I've quickly learned that life as an 18 month old must be very tiring and there can be mere minutes between sweet, tired little boy and his evil screaming twin so we read a bedtime story when we can but try not to push it.

The nighttime bottle has graduated to a sippy cup of water that he only sips occasionally while sitting in my lap all snuggled in his favorite polka dotted blanket. Owen is too big to cradle anymore. Instead, he sits in my lap with his little legs dangling over the side of the chair, lays his head against my chest and hums along with me as I sing our three favorite bedtime songs. Sometimes we talk afterward -- I tell him how much I love him, and he points to my eyes, nose, and mouth and waits for me to name them all -- but he quickly grows tired and starts pushing against me as if to say, "Yo, Mom, I'm done with this whole bedtime prep thing. Just put me in my crib already!" That's when I finally put him down for the evening. He snuggles deeper into his blanket and rolls over to his side. His eyes aren't even closed by the time I walk out, closing the door behind me, but we don't usually hear from him again until morning.

Our nighttime routine now takes less than 30 minutes and I still want to punch myself in the face....but only for ever thinking that time spent with this precious little boy is time lost. 1.5 years of mothering under my belt and I'm finally realizing just how fast he's growing up.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Deciphering Kate

Thoughtful Kate wants to put life on hold, leash up the dog, and walk forever. She doesn't care where she's going or where she's been so long as she can stay lost in her head and mentally write blog entries. The dog serves as her excuse to be out, a quiet companion, and her eyes since she isn't paying much attention to her surroundings. Her feet work as a mode of transportation and a crank for her internal monologue. She is most content on cold, rainy nights without an umbrella because wet, stringy hair and feet dyed black from her flip flops make her feel all emo and emo writes good blogs.

Tired Kate wants to march up a flight of stairs, pound on the Elephant Man's door, bitch slap him a few times, knock him to floor, and then slowly and painfully claw out his eyes all while a disturbing, maniacal laugh escapes from the back of her throat. She hasn't had a solid nights sleep since moving here because the Elephant Man doesn't give a shit about waking his polite neighbors at 1:00, 2:00, even 3:00 in the morning. She has complained to the office, pounded on the ceiling, screamed at the top of her lungs in a desperate plea for sleep but the asshole must think it's funny because he only gets more obnoxious. Tired Kate doesn't know how much patience she has left and may very well be featured on the next segment of Baltimore's Most Wanted. She makes no guarantees.

Wallowing Kate has an overwhelming urge to lose herself in bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, Little Debbie's Fudge Rounds, and entire seasons of One Tree Hill. She wants to wrap herself in self pity, fill her insides with high fructose corn syrup, become grotesquely obese, and spend her evenings whining about how the kids on Tree Hill have everything she wants but can never have because she's too fat and ugly and socially awkward. No, she doesn't make a whole lot of sense, she may even lack a single rational bone in her body, but she is one extremely overwhelming pain in the ass.

Lonely Kate is always reminded of something a friend told her a long time ago: "I moved so far away because I was trying to run away from my problems, but what I didn't realize was my problems were in my head, and they followed me all the way out there." Despite this very valuable advice given long before-hand, Lonely Kate moved to Baltimore in the hopes of reinventing herself and is failing, obviously. She wants friends. She wants to meet people. She wants her own "bestie", but she can't figure out how to exchange more than pleasant hellos while out walking the dog. She stupidly thought this was one Ohio problem that could magically fix itself in Maryland, but she was wrong. She recently started trolling this website: and is actively seeking a babysitter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

10 Things I Love About Working From Home

1. Quality time with Owen every morning watching cartoons and eating buttermilk waffles.

2. Jack sleeping at my feet while I work and then crawling out from under the desk at 11:59 and stretching in preparation for the daily lunch time walk.

3. Dress code = sweat pants, t-shirt and messy ponytail.

4. Non-stop Pandora radio.

5. The fastest, most convenient food is located IN MY KITCHEN and not some questionable and equally addictive burger joint around the corner.

6. MY OWN BATHROOM . 'Nuff said.

7. Beverly Hills 90210 re-runs on my lunch hour.

8. One tank of gas lasts nearly 2 months.

9. Dinner is often ready before one hungry little monster and his big, hungry father arrive home. This convenience alone makes for some very peaceful evenings.

10. This office space! Working in a space that is created by and for yourself makes a world of difference.

Road Trip Conversations to Remember

Jon: "I could really go for a tropical drink when we get home."

Katie: "Ooooh! Like a piƱa colada?"

Jon: "No, no pine cones! I don't like pine cones in my drinks."

Katie: "......I think you mean coconut?"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

America, meet The Elephant Man

I've nicknamed our upstairs neighbor The Elephant Man a.k.a. Old Stompy. He walks through his apartment with diligent and heavy feet. Each step makes me think he must be a man on a mission only most of the time that mission seems to be pacing the floor above my head. Obviously, this is most often noticeable when I'm trying to fall asleep. He, $3.75 for a small load of laundry, and not having the choice of anything other than Comcast cable are my only gripes about reverting back to apartment life. After all, it could be worse. We could be living below us -- 2 adults with heavy feet and the tendency to talk over each other, a toddler who enjoys shrieking as much as he does eating chocolate chip cookies, and a dog who barks at everything, even flies...

Yeah, odd as it is, I think we may have lucked out here.

Anyway, I'm only telling you about the Elephant Man because I have a strange inkling he may become a dominate part of our lives here in Baltimore. After all, I've only met the man once yet he holds the answer to whether or not I'll get a decent nights rest in the soles of his feet.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Welcome to Charm City

When I first announced that Jon and I would be picking up our family and moving to Baltimore, Maryland I made a promise to my friends and family. I promised I would update my blog regularly so they could still feel like a part of our everyday lives, and mostly, so they wouldn't feel as though they missed out on watching Owen grow up. Alas, we have been in Baltimore for exactly one month already and I have failed miserably at updating this poor, forgotten blog, so please bare with me as I collect my barrings and remember how to write.

Getting out here was no easy task. Owen and I lived without Jon for 3 months -- and let me tell you -- it was 3 of the worst months of my life. Kudos to all the single and military moms out there who manage to hold a full time job, keep a clean house, and raise a well-balanced child. I don't know how you do it as I was ready to throw in the towel after 2 weeks. It has never been more apparent that Owen is a Daddy's Boy. I could not keep him happy. He and I spent most evenings crying together at the dinner table. He cried because he missed his father. I cried because I missed my best friend and was forced to live with an unhappy 1 year old who didn't know how to do anything but cry. Just saying this probably makes me a crummy mother, but Owen and I, we spent so much time together in those 3 months in which we wanted to be with someone else that I think we STILL need some time apart. We love each other very much, we both just needed more Jon in our lives and less Owen or Mama.

But, it is over. We are here. We have been here since July 1st. Owen has been reunited with his daddy and I have been reunited with my husband and best friend. I think we could live in a tiny, run down shack with a leaky roof and only stale bread to eat and life would be better than ever just because we're all together again. As it is though, we live in a really awesome apartment with a wonderful yard to go cruising in the Cozy Coup, a pool, a playground, and a cool home office where I get to work in my pajamas every day. We're within walking distance to everything we need (in fact I still have Ohio gas in my car) and...wait for it...10 minutes from IKEA! That alone, my friends, should be illegal. All material things aside though, we are so truly happy. We are more of a family unit than we have been since the day Owen was born. Life seems to have slowed down enough for us to actually enjoy it. I don't feel like we're scrambling to do a million things at once anymore. I finally feel as though we're free to take a lazy Saturday and spend the day watching episodes of The Wire if we so choose, because by golly, whatever needs done can wait until tomorrow. I had very little doubt of that from the time Jon was offered the promotion, and even if there were a lot of doubt most of it would have disappeared with the freakish way things kept falling into place and making a 350 mile move so easy. But now -- now that we've been here -- I can say with absolutely no doubt whatsoever -- this is where we are supposed to be. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss little bits and pieces of Ohio, but this is where we belong. I -- the worry wort, queen of the grass is always greener, and pessimistic perfectionist -- am at peace.

Lots of wonderful things have happened in the last month and I hope to be able to fill you in on all of it as well as keep you updated on everything else as it happens, but for now, let me leave you with a few photos of my growing boy. He and I may be at odds occasionally, but he still melts my heart:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What's up, Kate?

Part of me can't help but wonder what the neighbors must think. My husband disappears one day and a For Sale sign shows up in the yard the next. It reeks of divorce, doesn't it? What would you think if I told you Jon moved to Baltimore and left Owen and I behind? Still sound like marriage problems? Well, rest assured, Jon and I are still very much in love. Jon received a promotion at work and it means relocating to Baltimore, Maryland. He's already there -- has been for about a month -- and Owen and I stayed behind to handle getting the house on the market and preparing for a 350 mile move.

The original thought was that once Jon was promoted I would become a stay at home mom but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I would have been miserable without the help of a second income. I love to shop, I love vacations, I love to have money in the savings account and none of that could have happened on one income. Also, having Owen in day care has made me much more aware of just how much he loves people and other children especially. Considering neither Jon nor I are very social, I've been extremely concerned I would destroy any type of social skills Owen seems to be building already. I can sit here and tell myself about all of the trips to the zoo or library or museum we could take if I were home with him but actually doing it is an entirely different story. All of my stay at home mommy friends live in Ohio, not Maryland and I don't know that I trust myself to do these things on my own. That said, I'll continue to be a working mom, but a really amazing opportunity has stemmed from this decision. When I told my current company about my family relocating I asked if I could work out of my home in Baltimore and -- get this -- they said YES! I'll remain a working mom, but I'll be a work from home mom.

My last day at the corporate office will be June 30th. Does that date sound familiar? I lost my job on June 30, 2009. I lost my brother on June 30, 2010. I'm no longer living in fear of what devastating thing will happen on June 30, 2011. It's going to be bittersweet as I'll be remembering my brother and reflecting on the last year without him, but also reuniting with my husband after 3 months of living apart.

The last month has been strange to say the least. I'm lonely. Very, extremely lonely. I talk to Owen a lot and when he goes to bed I talk to the dog. I'm very productive since I know that if I don't do something it won't get done. The days go by so fast and yet the weeks seem to be crawling by. How is that possible? I miss Jon. He comes home every other weekend. The weekends he's home seem to go by in the blink of an eye.

Jon lives in a lovely apartment in Towson, Maryland. He has 2 bedrooms and a den, 2 baths, a bed, a dresser, a card table, some camping chairs, an old television and an Xbox 360. He uses the cardboard box from the new vacuum cleaner as a kitchen trash can and a blue Ikea bag as a laundry basket. He's bachelorin' it up again and he's even more lonely than I am. After all, I at least have Owen and the dog.

Was there an easier way to do this? Probably, but so much has already fallen into place for us that I'm absolutely positive that we chose the correct path, even if it was the harder one.

So....we're moving to Baltimore!!! Can you believe it? I can't but I'm really, really, really excited. This move opens up so many doors for us, and for Jon's career especially. We can only go up from here. The last month has sucked and I don't expect the next 2 months will be any easier but these 3 months will only be a small blip in the large scheme of our lives.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Evacuate the dance floor!

Dear Internetz,

I have a new addiction. It's Dance Central for the Kinect. I just spent 1 hour and 45 minutes DANCING, doing everything I could to score 5 stars on each song, and beat the scores of my husband's Xbox Live friends. This is funny because I'm very uncoordinated, I look ridiculous doing 99% of the moves, but I'm extremely competitive and MUST BEAT EVERYONE'S SCORE! The last time this happened an obsession with Wii Fit was born and 70 pounds were lost. So, I guess I'll see you sometime next year as I will be taking up new residence in front the family room television once again.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

I found an angel in my mailbox today

The hall at my parents complex didn't work out for Owen's first birthday party so we'll have to cram the whole family into our house. I'll admit a few stress-induced tears were shed when I first found out, but the invitations arrived today (finally!) and made up for it:

 I say finally because I was a little late in ordering them anyway and the recent "adverse weather conditions" delayed the shipment even further -- what a mess! By the time I get them addressed and mailed the family will be lucky to have a week's notice, but hey, they're super cute so it's all good!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One very loaded statement

A text I sent to Jon midday Monday while I was dealing with extreme sinus pressure unlike any I've experienced before:

How do you manage to make it through the work day like this? I think I'd rather be giving birth...

And for those of you who don't know, since I've yet to finish Owen's birth story (it's coming soon!!) I did not receive an epidural. The sinus was THAT BAD.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Communication breakdown

It's happening more often now and it's usually on nights when Jon is out of town. It seems Owen likes to wait until he has me all to himself to spend a good chunk of the evening yelling at me. It's not a cry--there are no tears involved--it's clenching his fists, opening his mouth wide, and yelling as loud and as long as he can until he turns bright red in the face. I know it's only because he doesn't know how to simply tell me what he wants. I know this because I spend most of this time choking back tears and anger because I can't find a way to tell him yelling at me isn't going to help either of us. We have officially reached a communication barrier. My little boy knows what he wants but he doesn't have the words to tell me what it is.

Evenings like this kill me. Evenings like this serve as an annoying reminder that I don't know what I'm doing. The panic sets in pretty quickly. I start doubting I'll ever know what I'm doing and if I'm actually capable of raising a bright and happy child. Evenings like this make me feel like I'm slowly and miserably failing motherhood.

Then something weird happens. I miraculously snap out of the doubt that is closing around me. I say so what and keep trying to find whatever it is he's looking for. We sit down. We play with blocks. He gives me a high five every time I ask for one. We watch a little Nick Jr. I give him a bath and squirt him with the little bath time fishes. He brushes his teeth while I put on his pajamas. I read him a book and when he's heard enough he touches the page and grunts. We'll finish the book tomorrow night. I set him in his crib and he reaches over to turn on his Baby Einstein fish tank. I tuck him in and kiss him good night. We'll start over again in the morning.

I'm not failing. My child is already bright and happy. It's just that motherhood makes me feel really stupid sometimes, especially when he's yelled/I've listened for hours only to find he wanted some Cheerios, but it's all part of the process. I forget that sometimes. I forget that often. He and I are teaching each other. He's searching for words and gestures to help me understand and I'm paying very close attention. I'm telling him the name of every item I hand him so that one day, in the not so distant future, he won't have to spend another evening yelling at me for lack of a better word.

Monday, January 31, 2011

12 years ago today...

my husband gave me the first of what would be many, many silly sports analogies:

"So let's say I was going for a lay up--would I make a slam dunk or would I be rejected?"

Translation: If I ask you out right now would you say yes or no?

My response:

"You never would have been rejected."

I'm not exaggerating when I say I knew long before that moment that I was going to marry him. Jon is one of the very few things in my life I saw, wanted, and pursued until I had it. Somehow I knew he was the only person who would ever truly 'get me', and 12 years later, snuggled in bed together with Owen between us and Jack at our feet, I'm pretty sure I hit a grand slam.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why I barely slept last night

I finally called my mom for the details on renting the club house at their apartment community. Step one to planning Owen's first birthday party! Can this really be happening??

I don't know that I could handle it if the rest of my years with him go by this fast.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One of those moments I don't want to forget

Jon: "Part of the meeting was they asked me to draw three things that have impacted my life. I drew a ring, a little boy looking out over the bars of his crib, and a cancer ribbon. The first two are obvious--you and Owen--the third was because of all the people we've lost to cancer. I told them that I don't know anyone who has survived it."

Me: "You lied."

Jon: "No I didn't. Who?"

Me: "Think about it. Losing her may have devastated you more than anyone else."

Jon: "Oh wow!"

Me: "Your Aunt Char recovered from her breast cancer so well that you forgot she even had it!"

Jon: "That's amazing."

Me: "I know. I've got goosebumps."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Making deals with God

Most people don't know this, but I donated blood the day before Rick died. I'd never donated before but I woke up that morning with the most magnificent idea. I had a deal for God: I'd donate my blood to help replace the multiple bags Rick had needed since learning of his cancer. I'd help give back what he took, and in return, God would spare his life. It felt like such the perfect plan that I may or may not have imagined myself shaking hands with God, making the deal unofficially official. I was going to save Rick's life.

I waited an hour in the traveling blood clinic. I sat patiently and watched as potential donors checked their watches repeatedly. Some just shook their heads and continued to wait, and others walked away. I watched a man faint as he climbed down from the donation table and he had to be placed in a special chair that could be laid back to help re-circulate his blood. I was a little freaked out, but I wasn't going anywhere. And when it was all said and done, after they'd interrogated me for my health record, and taken my blood, I walked out of there feeling like a rockstar with a bandage on my arm and a half eaten bag of Famous Amos cookies in my hand. I couldn't wait to walk into the hospital later sporting my "I Donated Blood Today!" sticker and whenever someone asked me about it I was going to say, "I did it for Rick."

He died 20 hours later.

Grief consumed my family after that and I didn't think much about my blood or giving it away. That is, until I received a thank you letter from The Red Cross. It said THANK YOU FOR SAVING A LIFE in bold, red letters across the top. I started crying, then sobbing, then ripping the letter into tiny pieces as I screamed, "But I saved the wrong life!"

I don't believe that anymore.

At some point along the way I put my anger aside and was able to come to my senses. I now give blood whenever I'm eligible. I situate myself on a large metal cot. I watch as the nurse swabs my arm with iodine. They prick me with a needle and I watch my blood flow into a bag at my side as I squeeze and release a therapeutic ball. All the while I think about my brother. I still do it for him and for all the kind people who donated their blood to keep him alive as long as he was. It's like a memorial for him every 56 days, and I walk away feeling like a rockstar every time, because even though my blood didn't save my own brother, it CAN save someone else's loved one.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Heart

I snapped this photo just before lunch on Monday and then I emailed it to Jon with the caption: "Why I need to be home ALL THE TIME!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Don't worry, these are happy tears!

The last time my siblings and I all posed before a camera together was the summer of 1993, maybe? All I really know for sure is I was 11-years-old, we were in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin for a family reunion, and there were plenty of big bangs, mullets, and teenage acne to go around. Too much information? Sorry, what I'm trying to get at is we don't have a recent picture of the 6 of us and when my brother Rick passed away last year so did our chances of getting one.

So, as a surprise Christmas gift, my brothers and sisters and I decided to do the next best thing: take a picture of the 5 of us and Photoshop Rick in there. I know it sounds a little creepy, but the final result -- framed, matted, and wrapped in shiny Christmas paper -- brought tears to our mom and dad's eyes:

 (From left to right: Kristin, Rob, Kimberly, Ron, me, and Rick above.)

A special thanks to my mother-in-law, Christine, for taking time out of her busy schedule to snap some photos of us, and to my nephew-in-law for using his crazy awesome Photoshop skills to help us make the perfect gift for our parents.

Funny how we never did this before saying time and schedules wouldn't allow, but when it NEEDED done, we did it, and we had a good time!

Here are few additional shots from our "photo session":

P.S. Yes, Kristin is VERY pregnant, like due-any-minute-now pregnant. No, I am not even though it looks that way!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Top 10 reasons extended weekends float my boat

1. Unlimited time with Owen and his toys and his laugh and his mad musical talents.

2. Sweatpants 'round the clock.

3.Morning nap.

4. Owen!

5. Law & Order marathons.

6. Sleeping in.

7. Blogging mid-day.

8. Owen!

9. Afternoon nap.

10. Owen!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 New Year Resolutions

I anticipate 2011 will be a year of  rediscovery and changing my frame of mind. Back in 2008 I reached a point where I really did not like the person I'd become and small step by small step I changed everything I hated to become someone I loved. I plan to do it again, and this is how: 

1. Be more positive.
I wish I could understand where this abundance of negativity is coming from. I've always been a "grass is always greener" kind of gal but what I've been experiencing and exuding this last year is ugly even for me. I feel like I never have anything upbeat to say and my thoughts are very, very dark. I've convinced myself it's all a conspiracy, that the whole world is out to get me and they want me to feel like shit. I've never felt so alone in my life and I'm pretty sure it's all my own doing. This year I need to promise myself that I'll stop jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of people. I have to look in the mirror and not out the window.

2. Make time for myself.
I played with the wording on this one for a long time. I needed a resolution that encouraged me to take care of myself, to be healthy, to read books, to get a manicure, or take a bubble bath. I needed something to remind me to look after myself too, and when I stopped to think about why I haven't done these things in the last year it's because I don't have time. That's what I told myself anyway. I've put so much time and energy in trying to be Wonder Mom and Wonder Wife that I lost my own sense of self-worth in the process, subsequently destroying all attempts at being the best ME I can be for myself and my family. This year I need to make the time. I can't be Wonder Mom or Wonder Wife when I don't like myself or who I have become. I need to be proud of who I am and appreciative of what I have and I can only do that through rediscovering my confidence and slowing down just enough to look around and enjoy my life.

3. Continue to play and grow with Owen.
My son is amazing. He's taught me patience, love, understanding, and my heart grows a little bigger every time I witness him notice something new about the world. This past Christmas -- his first Christmas -- he looked at every package, took off the decorative bow, and turned around to play contentedly with his new "toy". He didn't need what was inside because he was more than happy with the free stuff on the surface. He has an appreciation for everything no matter how big or small and I want to be there every step of the way to enjoy this time and learn everything I can from this precious little boy.

4. Find a confidant.
My husband is my best friend but I've come to realize that my husband cannot handle listening to my worries and woes -- not because he isn't a good listener -- but because it tears him apart when he can't fix whatever worry or woe I've brought to him. I need to find someone I can vent to. I need someone who can nod their head while I bitch/scream/cry, tell me it will all be okay, and then we'll be on our merry way. Constructive criticism or advice are always welcome but not required. I think this blog will have to do for the time being but it's a lot easier to vent when I don't have to worry about making sense (or sounding completely sane) to the masses.

5. Cover my family in bubble wrap and place them in a padded room.
I know, I know, I'm only setting myself up to fail with this one because there is no way anyone in their right mind would let me cover them in plastic and lock them in a room all year, but given the losses we've suffered this year it's awfully tempting. What I can do is encourage everyone to make the time to take care of themselves too. I know a few family members who have made resolutions to get back in shape and I can help motivate them by providing advice and encouragement. Now that I'm a non-smoker (exactly 1.5 years smoke-free as of today!!!) I can take a stand and help motivate the last few family members and friends to stop smoking as well. I can't forcefully protect anyone but I can offer my time and experience as means to help make the most of their health.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why I'll be sleeping on the couch tonight

"Hmm...I WAS very excited about 2010 but thus far we need a plumber, a TV repair technician, and my husband is about 5 minutes away from telling me he needs to go to the hospital to have a splinter removed from his foot. What are my chances of getting 2009 back?!" -- my January 1, 2010 Facebook status
Hence the reason I promised Jon we would ring in 2011 on a much more positive note. Unfortunately, I failed to come through on my promise. Owen and I have had a very pleasant first day of January, but Jon on the other hand, woke up this morning around 8:45, jumped out of bed, ran straight to the bathroom, and hasn't been able to remove his head from the toilet since. He's definitely not hung over so I'm left to believe he's got whatever crappy flu virus has been going around. Yuck.

The thing I don't understand is how well he's handling it. On the rare occasion when I'm vomiting uncontrollably for an entire day I can be found sobbing on the bathroom floor, begging the nearest person to put me out of my misery, but Jon is holding himself together really well. His demeanor is strangely calm, collected, and reasonable. It's almost as if he already realizes this too shall pass. He whines like a little a girl when he has a cold (or splinter), but my husband takes the flu like a MAN.

This is also the first major sickness we've had in the house since Owen was born so I'm doing everything I can to keep it from me and the baby. The last thing I want is the 10-month-old version of whatever this is. A sick baby's eyes can break a woman's heart.

 Anyway, Happy New Year from the Keenan household! We weren't successful at ringing in the new year without incident but that doesn't stop me from believing this year has the potential to be a very exciting, fulfilling, and prosperous one.