Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It's a little sad to realize I have all these words to record my feelings, I have a camera and video to capture the good times, but there is no way to bottle up and save the actual physical feeling of holding my children in my arms. They are two different sizes but each one fits so damn perfectly all cradled against me. I just want to remember it forever.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Adventures in potty training

I lost count of how many nieces and nephews I have somewhere around the number 16. I'm sure I could figure it out with a little time and a calculator but then I'd have to wonder if I should include great nieces and nephews as well and this already has me going off subject!

Anyway, my siblings have a lot of kids. I grew up with most of them but I never bothered to pay much attention to what was required to raise them. I didn't learn how often to feed and burp them, how to teach them to count, or how to actually get them to fall asleep for any stretch of time. And now that we moved so far away from my family and the ever growing population of babies it seems to create, I'm kind of on my own to figure it out. I've been known to read a few books, to consult Dr. Google from time to time, but mostly I have to rely on ques from Owen to determine when he's ready for something. It's worked pretty well so far, but I think this little thing called potty training has us both stumped.

He's only 2 and a half and diapers are still very convenient for both of us so I'm not interested in rushing anything, but I also don't want to be that mom who sends her son to college in diapers! I don't know when to start pushing it or even how to approach it and while Owen shows occasional interest in the Fisher Price potty we set out for him a while ago, he doesn't seem all that ready to get down to potty business either.

He showed plenty of sudden interest yesterday afternoon though, when I caught him standing in front of the little potty, shorts down around his ankles, and frantically pulling at this diaper. When he spotted me, he started to panic and shouted, "Oh no, Mama! Poop! Poop!"

I must admit, I got a little excited at the sight of him, so afraid he may get poop in his diaper, desperately wanting to put that poop in the potty instead. I thought this was it. Potty training has begun and it was going to be a breeze! My little boy was ready and willing and this wait and see approach finally paid off. I could save a fortune on diapers. We could buy cute little Superman underwear. I would no longer have to cringe every time a friend talked about their toilet using child who is also months younger than Owen.

I helped Owen take off his diaper, he sat down on the potty, and I started going on and on about how exciting this was! He sat there quietly as I watched. His face turned a light shade of red and he made a few grunting sounds. After a minute or two he stood up, turned around, put his face only a few inches from the rim of the potty seat and shouted, "Woooaaaaaah Mama! Owen did it!! LOOK AT THAT POOP!!!! THAT'S A BIIIIIIIIG POOP!!! That's a LOT of poop!!"

My mind racing a mile a minute trying to figure out what kind of reward to give him, I prepared myself to view my son's very first non-diaper poo! Then I bent over to peek around his little head, and I saw right into the very EMPTY toilet bowl.

Moments later he did the exact same song and dance for pee.

I give him a million brownie points for the excellent imagination and impressive acting skills, but it looks like this potty training business still has us both baffled.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

For richer and poorer

What's more exciting and frightening than having a child? Having two children. What's more exciting and frightening than having two children? Quitting your job to stay home and care for them. Today should have been my first day back to work after 10 weeks of maternity leave, instead Jon and I spent the better part of the last week and a half searching for alternate care for the boys. We had a sitter lined up since January but due to personal reasons she was no longer able to take them on. And in our search for a new care provider we learned that our friend was giving us a most generous discount. The cost of care elsewhere, even in-home providers, made it pointless for me to work. So I quit and started my new job as a stay at home mom or SAHM (I am incapable of typing that without thinking of dooce and Shit Ass Ho Motherfucker!).

While it is unnerving giving up nearly a third of our income I'm also super excited as this is something I've wanted to do since Owen was born but the loss of money was scary, preventing Jon and I from making such a drastic commitment. I guess you could say this was the kick in the pants we needed. I mean, if we're going to be broke, we might as well be broke while I stay home and enjoy the kids, right?

No, seriously, we are now broke. Extra money is a thing of the past. Somehow, in the span of a couple short weeks, we've become extremely poor and rich all at the same time. I have no money but I officially have everything I ever wanted in life.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Are you not writing because you're happy?

Yes. But you're in luck as my husband hopped a plane to San Antonio this morning, leaving me alone with not one but TWO kids for the week! Bedtime started over 2 hours ago and I THINK (fingers crossed!!) I may have finally gotten both little ones down for the night. I cannot, however, guarantee the 2-year-old still has his diaper on because I refuse to open his door for fear of waking him. Long story short, I had just enough pent up frustration to log in to this blog and type a few sentences.

No, seriously, the last few months have been so amazing...tiring, but truly amazing! For what it's worth, we did get the house I so desperately wanted in my last post. It's everything I hoped it would be and more. Can you say great neighbors, huge back yard, and en suite master bath? Of course, those are small potatoes compared to the blissful sleep we get every night. Yes, even now, with an infant in the house. I'll take the screams of a hungry newborn at 2:00 in the morning over the night-long stomping of the Elephant Man any day! I'm just so happy to be done with that part of our lives. I was 28 weeks pregnant when we moved out of the apartment, and let me tell you, despite swollen feet, a painful bout with sciatica, and being the size of a house, I slept like a baby to the very end of my pregnancy. I had a lot of catching up to do!

Even more important than the house is the announcement that Lucas arrived! He was born June 26 and weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces. It was a super easy delivery that consisted of 2 and a half pushes. He's followed suit as a super easy-going, laid back baby whom I absolutely freaking adore. The last 8 weeks have forced me to reconsider my definition of soul mate as I don't believe I married mine but gave birth to him instead. It's like he was perfectly tailored for me. He's patient, loving, cuddly, smiley, easily amused, and nurses like a champ. He could spend entire days watching his big brother Owen fly around the house pretending to be Superman. He loves my singing and thinks I give really great baby massages. He also loves to be outside. He's been to every play ground within 20 miles of here, to the zoo, to the ocean, and even back to Ohio for a few days. He's a rock star. They say you have to let go of the baby you expected and learn to love the one you have. There was no learning required with Lucas.

Owen had a little harder time adjusting to a new baby in the house. I take the blame for that as I don't think we did enough to prepare him for a little brother. I should have read more books, talked to him more about what it would be like and what it would require from Mommy. I figured we could cover it more thoroughly after the baby arrived. Boy was I wrong! We had a lot of tantrums and acting out and still do occasionally but he's come around pretty quickly. He understands I still love him just as much as before and Lucas hasn't taken away his Mama. He loves to help change diapers, offer up toys when the baby is crying, and gives many, many kisses to the forehead. Owen has proven to be one hell of a big brother.

The transition from family of 3 to family of 4 certainly had it's hiccups but turned out to be much easier than I expected. In fact, if you could guarantee it would always be this easy, I might do it a dozen more times!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Are you there God? It's me, Kate.

One dozen homes viewed. Three offers submitted, the last of which was sent in at 9:00 last night. Homes are coming off the market in less than a week span before we can even get an appointment to see them. Turns out having to give this much of notice to our current leasing manager was kind of a blessing in disguise. We couldn't be nearly as picky as we have been if we only had a month to look.

We actually found two places last night. One I could live in forever, and one that will work for the next year or two. We made the offer on the one I could live in forever, the one with brick exterior and light green siding. Ringing any bells with our Ohio friends and family? Yeah, it felt just like our house, but even better. I've been awake half the night staring at photos of the home and the neighborhood, willing it all to work out this time, and falling even more in love. I know I'm only asking for disappointment by doing so, but I mean really, how many times can you submit an offer and be told it just went in contract the same day you saw it? Fingers crossed that doesn't happen this time! I could really use a positive note to end this crappy week and word that our offer has been accepted could carry me for quite some time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Things I learned from experience this week

1. Never tell people "He doesn't really need anything," when it comes to your son's birthday. They may take this as an invitation to skip even a card or note saying "I love you."

2. It's silly to expect particularly forgetful family members to remember to contact you on your own birthday, even if they did labor and birth you 30 years ago.

3. Maryland doctors of obstetrics and gynecology think it's perfectly understandable to charge you $620 for delivering your baby, even if said delivery isn't expected to take place for another 17 weeks. They may also refuse further treatment if you do not provide payment in full immediately.

4. Never put your child down while walking through a potential home, even if it's by appointment and he is a perfectly mobile toddler, because you never know when the current occupants may have left their attack dog in an upstairs bedroom.

5. If you send long, emotional, and ranting texts to your husband who is 1,400 miles away he may always reply with "It'll be okay. I love you." He probably thinks he's showing sympathy but he's actually just making you feel like an unreasonable and raving lunatic.

Overall, it's been a particularly shitty week. One thing I do have going for me is this incredibly sweet gesture from one amazing little boy. I want him to sing Happy Birthday to me for the rest of my days! I love the exaggerated way he curls his lips, and note the surprise on his face when he realizes who we're singing to:

Monday, February 27, 2012

The last day of my twenties

We ran away to Ohio for the majority of last week. Mostly we did it for me, because I'm turning 30 tomorrow and I couldn't stomach the idea of facing that without seeing some of the most important people in my life, but we also did it for Owen who turned 2 years old on Wednesday. I couldn't stomach the idea of him getting older without those same people surrounding him.

It was really a wonderful time. I got my fill of friends, family, and even a couple co-workers while there. The only other time we'd gone back for any extended period of time was for my father's funeral and time with my family took precidence over meeting my girlfriends or catching up with the in-laws. Not to mention we had just found out I was pregnant then. In fact, I took the deciding pregnancy test in the questionably clean bathroom of a Best Western in Breezewood, Pennsylvania on our way back to Ohio only hours after finding out my dad had passed away. Let's just say my head wasn't truly in our last extended visit.

Last week was a much needed vacation. I adore my husband and son but time with my girlfriends is important as it's one of the few things that reminds of who I am beyond mother and wife. They bring Kate out to play and they're just so damn entertaining. Facebook can only go so far in keeping in touch with loved ones. Sometimes you need the real thing and the real stories and the real laughs to really feel a part of anything.

Owen also seemed to have a great time with his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, and his friends. He cried every time we drove away from a grandparent and it broke my heart, making me question whether or not moving away was the right decision. Fortunately, the look on his face when we walked in the door after the 6 hour drive home and the way he ran to his toys, to his bed, to his favorite hiding places, and the smile that crossed his lips helped ease my fears. Owen had a great time in Ohio but he was never as comfortable and at home as he was within a mere 5 minutes of walking into our Baltimore home. He misses everyone like I do, but he also likes his life here as much as I do.

While I'm also pretty sure Jon had a good time, I know he only did it for me. He knew how much I needed to see everyone, and he was in no position to argue as he left for a week long work conference in Dallas this morning. He knew I needed good times and good memories to fill my heart for this coming week since I am literally facing my 30th birthday alone. I'm so thankful he knew.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Removing the anvil from my chest

I logged on to Facebook today and while scrolling through the news feed, I found a friend of mine shared a link regarding the decline of parents opting to have their little boys circumcised and her excitement at the news. Given the debatable subject of the article I knew it was bound to create a few opinionated posts, and being the nosy Facebooker that I am I decided to read the comments. Bottom line, I should have known better, but what can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

One thing I want to make clear is this has nothing to do with the friend who posted the link because she is truly a wonderful person and I value her advice in both parenting and lifestyle. I'm writing this now because the emotions I took away from her post reminded me of a topic that has plagued me during my entire time as a mother. It just so happens that her innocent and maybe even random re-posting of an article and some of the responses gave me the words to do so.


The following was too long to add to any comment thread:

I love my children with every fiber of my being. They are my entire world and the thought of anything ever happening to remove them from that world sends chills down my spine, creates a painful emptiness in my chest and completely removes my will to live. And that's just the thought that anything could happen. Every single decision in our lives, big or small, important or seemingly irrelevant, is made with them in mind. Every decision I have ever had to make as a parent, some even prior to becoming pregnant the first time, was made to keep us all functioning and happy and healthy to the best of my human abilities. I do the research, I ask for advice, I sit down and contemplate and try to envision every possible outcome, and then roll all of that into one final decision that will keep us moving as a solid unit.

I like to think this makes me a good mother. I have to believe this makes me a good mother. I have to remind myself all the time amidst debates on staying at home versus working, breastfeeding versus formula, vaccinating or not, circumcising or not, I made all of these very tricky decisions with Owen in mind. I made them to the very best of my knowledge with ALL of us in mind because we have to work as a whole. And I have to tell myself this makes me a great mother because based on some things I've read online I've already failed miserably despite putting my children first.

I breastfed for seven months. They were the darkest, scariest seven months of my life. I'm alternating between typing and sobbing right now as I force myself to go back there and find the words to describe it for you. Medication didn't work. I had this precious, beautiful little boy with bright eyes and the sweetest smile looking up at me every day and I couldn't return the favor. I never wanted to hurt him...just myself, very badly. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that if I ended my own pain by hurting myself I would in turn be hurting him. Strangely, the only thing that kept me alive was him and my unwillingness to give up on him. But it was my unwillingness to accept that breastfeeding, at that time, was not right for me and my inability to put the peer pressure and the everlasting battle between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding behind me that kept me in that horrific and depressing state in the first place! I tried to do what the majority of other mothers said was the only correct choice, and I fought a very scary bout of postpartum depression that was only prolonged by the breastfeeding, and I nearly did more harm than good.

So all you moms can come and yell at me for giving my child formula for the remaining five months of his first year, and for being fully prepared to do the same with the child that is in my womb should the same circumstances arise the second time around. You can scold me and tell me how selfish I am for not giving my child the best start possible. Go ahead. I won't listen. I will continue to make the choices that are best for MY children and OUR family and I will NEVER judge a woman for opting against breastfeeding. After all, how am I possibly giving my child the best start if it puts me in such a dark place that I can barely see him?

In my world, making the decision to stay at home or work, to breastfeed or use formula, organic or inorganic, to vaccinate or not, to circumcise or not, to baptize or not, to home school or private school or public school does not add or reduce value to your motherhood. What matters is that you give your children as much love and attention and safety and guidance as you possibly can. Help them become strong, confident, thoughtful, brave little people. Offer the support necessary to carry those traits into adulthood and their own parenthood. That alone will determine your value in motherhood.


For the record, Owen is circumcised. It wasn't until I learned we were having a little boy that I was made aware of an option not to. Jon and I sat down and talked about it, and I asked him if, given the choice again, he would opt to have the procedure done and he said "Yes." And since I lack a penis and the mountain of pride that seems to be held there, who am I to argue?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Team Boy

Seriously. What kind of person posts that they are going to find out the sex of their baby and doesn't say anything about it for 2 more weeks? I do! Sorry I suck sometimes.

We're having a little boy! Owen is going to have a little brother! We shall name him Lucas! I know I expressed a strange desire for a little girl, and trust me it's still there (if it doesn't go away I guess this won't be my last pregnancy after all), but I'm ecstatic to be having another baby boy. A boy is familiar territory and I'm not good with change. We need next to nothing because I saved it all from Owen. Jon desperately wanted a little boy he could name Lucas because that's what he wanted to name Owen and I vetoed him. I also think back to my child and teen years and the way my brothers and sisters and I behaved, and well, my brothers were much nicer to my parents. Boys love and protect their mother, and teenage girls, sometimes no matter how well raised, can be caught calling their mother a bitch whore with little to no remorse.

Anyway, Lucas looked good in the views he would let us see. I knew he was a mover and a shaker prior to going in for the ultrasound but it was fun to let Jon and the technician see just how much he liked to move and shake. Feet were kicking, hands were fidgeting with the umbilical cord, and after 40 minutes of poking and prodding him to get better views he started flipping and twirling like a fish in water, doing whatever it took to get away from that evil woman with the pokey picture wand. I have to go back in 2 weeks so they can attempt to get the missing photos of his left foot and one final view of his heart. Otherwise, he is one very healthy and active 11 ounce baby boy.

Profile of Baby Lucas

20 weeks and the bump that seemed to appear overnight. And the ironing board I didn't bother to move and the bed I was too lazy to make. Such is pregnancy, right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


13 years ago today I said yes to a date with the sweetest, funniest dork I knew and I'm so glad I did! Otherwise my life wouldn't be full of moments like this:

Friday, January 27, 2012

What are you, baby?

Do you think it means anything that every day I fight the urge to refer to our baby as "she"? If I were anyone else I'd say maybe, but considering I've never accurately guessed the sex of an unborn baby I'm inclined to say no. I'll be elated with either a girl or a boy but this daily slip up makes me think subconsciously I'm a hoping for a girl.

Okay, maybe it's a little more than subconsciously...

Thankfully, my curiosity will be answered one week from today!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Should I stay or should I go?

My original plan was to do some soul searching and create an honest pros and cons list to help us decide whether we should renew our lease for another year or put ourselves back on the market for a place to live. Because despite feeling as though all I do is complain about this place, it really does have some great things going for it such as lots of space, both living and storage, and a really awesome layout. Having Owen's toy room and my office directly off the main living area has made life quite simple and enjoyable. We've also got one heck of a pool, play ground fit for a 2-year-old, gorgeous club house, and beautiful grounds to admire while walking the dog. Oh, and did I mention that when the rest of the city was trying to finish their Christmas shopping, but were really just sitting in one huge traffic jam at the shopping center parking lot, all I had to do was walk across the street? I'm pretty sure I was back home before a few of those cars found a parking space.

But before I start listing cons and run off on a tangent about The Elephant Man and the nasty laundry room and the unexpected fuzzy little visitor we had last month, I'm going to stop myself, because none of it matters.

Two weeks ago we received a letter in the mail from our leasing office stating our lease was up soon and we were required to notify them in writing if we did not wish to renew for another year. We've never rented from a big corporate establishment like this before but I assume this is pretty normal, right? Sure. The letter was dated January 9, was delivered on January 12, and thanks to many previous disagreements with our leasing office I knew to read every single line, especially the very small print at the bottom of the second page, which said we had 15 days from the date on the letter to notify them before our lease automatically renewed. Again, not so surprising. What was surprising, however, is the fact that we had until January 23rd to make a decision but our lease is not up until April 30th.

Seriously? I about died. They were requiring over three months notice or else we would be stuck here for another year. No one is going to hold a place for that amount of time which means if we leave, we leave blindly, and hope beyond hope that we find a place before April 30. Risky? Maybe. But I didn't care. If we didn't take the risk, obviously, we would be here forever. I wrote the letter stating we would be leaving and turned it in the next day.

I've never lived anywhere this short of time, but I've never lived anywhere that the negative outweighed the positive, even if there were quite a few positive attributes. Then again, I guess this was part of the plan when moving here. We didn't know the city well enough to know where we would feel most at home, and we didn't know what our lives would be like to know how much space and financial responsibility we could handle. Now, we do know the neighborhood we want to be in and we do know the type of home we want to have. Unfortunately, with another child and additional care costs on the horizon, we aren't entirely sure what the budget will look like but we have a decent idea of what we'll be working with.

So, in the battle of staying or going, we are going, and we're finding a house, and I'm really excited about that. I hate the idea of moving when I'm 9 months pregnant, but I love the idea of sleeping at night without a zoo trampling above my head, of taking a shower without the water turning freezing cold when someone in a neighboring apartment flushes the toilet, of having my own washer and dryer. I want to be in a place of comfort when this baby arrives and that can't happen here. Apartment life had a lot of potential, and I feel I was pretty optimistic about it, but this isn't the place for us. We need a home of our own.

Looks like instead of just organizing closets, I'll be packing them up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things you shouldn't say to your pregnant wife, part 2

Me: "I think I'm finally starting to look pregnant. Can you see it?"

Jon: "Yeah, especially right here!" (gesturing to my butt)

And Jon says living here is making me mean

Is it bad that 5 minutes ago, when an absurd amount of choking could be heard in the apartment upstairs, I kind of crossed my fingers and cheered it on a little bit?

Wait, don't answer that! I'm pretty sure I just confirmed my place in hell.

In case I just frightened you, please know that I could never harm a living being.

Of course, that does not mean I wouldn't have a small party should anything terrible happen to The Elephant Man.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why you can't leave me in charge of paperwork

Closet 1 of 5 = done. I wasn't cool enough to take before and after photos but you will not believe what I found: a receipt for one pregnancy test dated July 2, 2009, the same day I found out I was pregnant with Owen. I don't know how that managed to hang around this long, let alone make the move, but it was a nice trip down memory lane. Then his little brother or sister kicked me and brought me back to the present.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012: I resolve to...

1. Lay off Facebook.
While I think Facebook is a really awesome tool for keeping in touch with friends and family in other states, I also see it as a huge pain in the ass. I think part of my problem is I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I don't necessarily want to know what it is and I especially don't want it thrown in my face when my opinion may be entirely different. Facebook makes that entirely too easy. If I reacted to everything that offended or annoyed me on Facebook I would have a friends list of something like 9 people. Call me soft, call me a hypocrite, call me what you will, but seeing as I don't have the guts to do a mass friend deletion I think I'll just back off a bit and update occasionally. Besides, maybe this will stop prompting me to write an entry about how Facebook killed my blog! It is way too easy to log onto Facebook and post a quick status update as opposed to starting and finishing a blog. It's time to use Facebook only as a tool to keep friends and family updated and save the meat and potatoes for this blog.

2. Visit New York City during the holidays.
We had every intention of going this past Christmas but we didn't make the time. No excuses in 2012.

3. Blog at least twice a week.
I totally stole this resolution from a fellow blogger because it is pure genius! All these years I've been resolving to "write on a regular basis" but when your regular blogging schedule is once a month it can still leave much to be desired. Hopefully putting an actual number on it will give me a little more guidance on what is a "regular basis".

4. Organize our closets.
You'd think downsizing from a house to an apartment would be a somewhat difficult task but it wasn't in our case. Our apartment is almost the size of our house only instead of a third bedroom we have 2 walk-in closets, 3 full wall length closets, a linen closet the size of a powder room, and an additional storage area elsewhere in the building. Needless to say, we didn't have to get rid of much even though we probably should have. The only frustrating thing about all of this storage space is it was all haphazardly thrown in place before I arrived and since it was all out of sight and we were having so many troubles with The Elephant Man that we didn't intend to stay for any extended period of time there wasn't much reason to truly settle in. It's still uncertain whether we will stay or go when our lease is up in April -- the pros and cons of which I intend to weigh in a separate blog -- but I'm finding that it will be a) hard to find another apartment or townhouse with nearly this much storage and therefore forcing us to really downsize our clutter and b) hard to move all of this clutter to a new place on our own. Either way, if we stay or we go, I would like to have closets that both make even a little sense and can be somewhat easily transported.

5.  Continue to grow and play with Owen and the newest little Keenan due in June!
Say whaaaaat? Did she just imply she is pregnant? Why, yes, I did! And if Facebook hadn't killed my blog you would have found out 2 months ago when everyone else did. We couldn't be more happy and excited to welcome another child into our family. I don't think Owen can truly grasp the concept of what is going to happen come this summer, however, he has taken a sudden interest and curiosity in all things baby. He is going to be a wonderful big brother and Jon and I can't be more excited to see him take on that role. Owen has been such a blessing in our lives and I know his little sibling will only bring us more joy -- lots of sleepless nights and perhaps put me back on antidepressants -- but another little Keenan will be totally worth it.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Heat Wave!

What do you do when it's January, 65 degrees, and extremely sunny outside? First, you take down all the Christmas decorations, then you throw on your spring jackets and shoes and make the short trek up to the playground to soak up all the rays and fun!

Climbing up the rock wall where he may have received a little help from Daddy.

He kept peeking through the holes and saying "Cheeeeeeese!" but I was never fast enough to catch the smile.

Gotta stop to steer the ship in the right direction...

Sometimes he likes the swings and I thought this might be one of those days.

I was wrong.

Slide trip #13,586. I love him.

I truly thought we'd hit the jackpot when winter arrived and we hadn't seen but 2 days below 60 degrees by the start of the new year. Unfortunately, most of the locals have told me this weather is not the norm. Either way, I'm enjoying my first winter away from lake effect snow and arctic winds. Owen just loves all the extra opportunities to hit the slides.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011 Self-review

You know what's really awesome about having so many years worth of recorded resolutions and self reviews? Having the opportunity to look back on them once a year and give yourself a pat on the back for a) writing them so well even you enjoy re-reading them, and b) having the guts to be so brutally honest. I always forget this about myself -- that I have no shame when beating myself over the head via blogging -- and damn, I can write like the best of 'em! It's just a matter of, you know, actually doing it.

2011 was one very challenging and exciting year. Jon accepted a promotion that moved our little family to Baltimore, Maryland -- 350 miles away from home -- but not before Owen and I got to endure 3 months of life without him. This year I learned to have the utmost respect for single mothers and I didn't even have to  do it on one income!

We finally met Jon in Baltimore in July and found that life here is somehow more calm and more exciting at the same time. I suppose this is what happens when you reunite with the missing 1/3 of your family and find yourself living in a city with all new places to entertain yourself and with simple day trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, the east coast. I lived a rather sheltered life as a kid -- I knew our block like the back of my hand but very rarely even ventured to the neighboring city -- and having new adventures and the means to explore them with Owen feels so awesome. We truly are lucky.

Yesterday I admitted to a friend that moving away from so many great friends and all of our family was really hard, and I do get extremely homesick from time to time, but given the choice, I would definitely do it all over again. While we are very much still building our lives here, I do feel very confident when I say we are where we belong. Baltimore is slowly but surely becoming home.

Anyway, in true Deciphering Kate fashion, I am incapable of posting any new resolutions before reviewing how strong the previous year's held up. Let's give it go, shall we?

1. Be more positive. 
How can I even begin to compare my outlook on life last year to now? Someone turned on the lights? Pulled the scarf from my eyes? Cleared the clouds from head? Reached into the six foot grave I had buried myself in, grabbed my hand, and gently pulled me out while screaming "You don't have to live like this!"? I'm not sure any of those descriptions are really strong enough. I'm not sure how it even happened. All I know is that girl was in a very dark place and couldn't find a way out. But something or someone helped her out because she's not there anymore. She's actually quite happy.

2. Make time for myself.  
This one had to come in baby steps: self pedicures while catching up with the DVR, making a break for it on the occasional Thursday evening and exploring the city by myself (sometimes with GPS, sometimes without depending on how adventurous I was feeling), ignoring the stack of junk mail on the dining room table for a week. Then some time in the last few months I caught myself watching entire seasons of One Tree Hill on Netflix on-demand. I watched 6 seasons in just over a months span. Aw crap! Did I just admit that? Well, it shows that I've learned to make time for myself, right? Don't worry, Grey's Anatomy returns tonight so I'll be able to reinstate my taste in evening soap operas momentarily.

3. Continue to play and grow with Owen.
There was a time during that 3 month period of living apart from Jon when I would have scoffed at and thrown out this resolution had I remembered it. Owen and I did not get along. In fact, Owen did not like most anyone. Owen only wanted his daddy and it broke my heart that I didn't have an immediate fix for him. The funny thing is it didn't even fix itself after moving to Baltimore and living with Jon again. Owen was still convinced his daddy was going to leave and he'd be stuck with ME, the horrible, evil Mommy who isn't half as cool as Daddy. It took another 3 months for Owen to realize neither of us were going anywhere and when he finally had that realization, I was rewarded with the most amazing hugs and kisses! He smiles at me, he yells "MAMA!" like a big, Italian man who hasn't seen his mother in years even if it's only been a few hours, he takes my hand, says "Up!" and leads me to whatever he wants to show me, and he realized that it broke my heart a little when he stopped letting me rock him to sleep and he let me rock him again. Owen is the most absolutely amazing and curious creature I have ever laid eyes on. Every day I'm dazzled by the way his mind works and the joy he finds in such little things. Every night I fight the urge to wake him up so we can play and explore more. We may have had a rocky start, and I may have had my doubts along the way, but right now, at this moment, I can tell you without doubt that I have never known love like what I have for Owen and to have that love reciprocated is the best gift any woman can ever ask for.

4. Find a confidant.
Shortly after making this resolution I realized I have many confidants. For such a quiet and reserved person I seem to put a lot of my business out there, on this blog, on Facebook, in a text message, in person or over the phone. I actually have a very hard time keeping things in and often find myself sharing it with EVERYONE. I guess what I'm trying to say is...I'm not entirely sure what I was looking for from this resolution and I am actually quite happy with my current means of confiding.

5. Cover my family in bubble wrap and place them in a padded room.   
Seeing as my father died back in October this goes down as an EPIC FAIL but at the time of writing I could not have known I would be moving to another state therefore making it much harder to keep everyone safe. Bubble wrap and a padded room would not have helped my father anyway. For what it's worth, I always felt the new distance made my father and I closer somehow. We actually had to put serious effort into keeping in touch and he was so willing to put in the effort that it warmed my heart. I love you, Dad.

As always, this year's resolutions coming soon...hopefully before I break them all!

How we manage to eat in sit-down restaurants with an impatient toddler

Set to play on constant loop and hand over the iPhone:

We may be frying brain cells but he looks so studiously cute that the other patrons have no clue:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I'll remember you fondly

With the new year comes the overwhelming urge to end over two months of silence but the only way to do that is to write the words I've been trying to avoid for 2 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day:

My father passed away on October 17, 2011.

I still don't have the words to describe how I feel about the loss only that I miss him very much. One thing I do have to say is that somehow, even though the importance of a father cannot be measured, the loss of mine carries a much different feeling than any of the other losses I've experienced in recent years. The love and admiration I'd come to find in and have for my dad was astonishing, yet his death has not left me with a painful void in my chest every time I think of him. Instead, I have a soft place in my heart filled with fond memories and the feeling of being so blessed to have had as much time with him as I did.

My father's death could not have come as a surprise to any of us. He'd already survived three heart attacks, the first one being nearly 20 years ago, and even though he'd made great strides in improving his health in recent years, test results showed that much of the damage was already done and there was no turning around his own case of type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure. He did what he could to make the best of it, finally started to treasure the time he had with us, and he didn't let anyone but my mom know just how much pain he was actually in.

What I do know is this: My dad lived a full life. He was married to the love of his life for 44 years with children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. No hobby of his went unstudied. He had no shortage of friends who would do anything for him. There was nothing he could look back on in regret. That, to me, is a very full life.

So like I said, I miss my father. I miss our Wednesday Skype nights, the way he played the maracas with Owen, being able to call him for moral support every time I encounter (and have to kill) an ugly, scary bug, and his comforting presence in general, but I can't say that I am overwhelmed with grief by this loss.

I loved my father and he knew it. I can't say that I have any regrets there either.

I wrote a little something to read at his funeral, and surprisingly, I managed to do so without tearing up. In fact, I may have even laughed a little. I know he appreciated that. I thought I'd copy it here for safe keeping:

My dad liked to jokingly refer to his status in the family as 'the bottom of the barrel' or sometimes, if he was feeling particularly dramatic, he'd say he was 'the scum seeping out of a crack at the bottom of the barrel'. He said all of this with a big grin hiding behind his beard. He liked to pretend he was forgotten often but we all knew he was well aware of his importance in our family -- that we all revolved around him just as much as we do our mother -- all 6 children, 17 grand children, and 3 great grand children with another on the way. There is no denying your importance when you are the co-creator of a family this large and full of genuinely good people.

When it came to raising us my parents roles were easily defined: mom was always good cop and dad was always bad cop (unless you asked for something when dad was asleep, then he simply said 'go ask your mother' which was always a given yes!) Dad was typically the enforcer and he actually managed to do it quietly, at least until you either a) talked back to him, or b) disrespected our mother in anyway. I used to think it was our mother who was there to raise us and he was there simply to protect her from us. Now that I am older with a child of my own, I know better. My father, in his own way, was raising us to become kind and respectful adults.

Despite several heart attacks -- each one leaving him a little more bony and pale than the last -- my father grew much softer with age. He left behind his enforcer uniform to reveal a man you couldn't help but adore. He was passionate about his hobbies and eager to share them. His heart, though physically weaker, kept growing bigger with interest and love for his family. He was genuinely excited to see us and he was so openly proud of us all.

One of my strongest memories of my father is on the day of my wedding. I was so excited and nervous that I was nearly running down the aisle, dragging him behind me, when he suddenly chuckled, tightened his grip on my arm and said, "Slow down, Kate, enjoy this moment while it lasts."

I took his advice that day and continued to do so for years to come. I enjoyed every last moment I had with him.

Owen and Grandpa, June 2010