Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Brave Sanctuary

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt within the heart." Helen Keller

I wish you all the happiest of holidays, with lots of love from the three (four!) of us.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where I'll Be

Whenever I'm busy busy BUSY, I make a list. It always helps. It should make me feel overwhelmed, but it doesn't because when I finish a task, I can cross it off the list. I also always try to put fun things on the list because no matter how busy you are, you still need to have fun! Truthfully, I'm behind where I should be because I've developed this rather unproductive habit of falling asleep no later than 8 every night. Sometimes still fully clothed...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


To clarify yesterday's post, my quiet calm was not a photo of a gummy bear in a storm, but rather, a perfect little baby. A perfect little baby that just happens to be chillaxin' in my uterus RIGHT NOW.

I know! Can you believe it? Because I hardly can. I am 10 weeks and some odd change pregnant, and it still hasn't sunk in. Two positive pregnancy tests, one perfect heartbeat, and I still want to pinch myself.

Monday I told my midwife, "It's just as amazing the second time." And IT IS. Seeing the little baby with a flickering heartbeat? Amazing. Waiting to get bigger and lose this beer belly look? Amazing. Waiting for that endorphin rush after birth and the chance to hold a new baby against my skin? Amazing. Preparing to breastfeed a brand new baby? Amazing!

I am due July 16th. I'm a little disappointed that I won't make it BlogHer when it is SO CLOSE, but I'd rather have a baby than BlogHer, obviously! We are not finding out the sex. With Luke, I felt he was a boy the moment I had a positive test. This time? I just don't know. I keep waiting for that instinct, but it hasn't yet kicked in. At this point, planning a natural hospital birth with the same midwife and doula I used last time.

I can sum it all up in three words: I Can't WAIT.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Quiet Calm

Lately I've felt enveloped by a sense of total peace. It's been wonderful. That's not that say that I'm not stressed and busy and rushed by the season, because I am. But more than that, much more than that, I'm so overwhelmed by how lucky I am. I can explain some of that feeling, but I can't explain how or why it's so strong right now. I suppose some things simply cannot be explained, so without looking for the explanation, I will just be greatly that I'm filled with such a force now.

At night, I sit in the glow of the Christmas tree lights, and I can't imagine being anywhere but here. I can't imagine being anyone other than myself. There are things I'd love to change, but they're superficial. Everything that really matters, everything at the core and heart of life, I would not change for the world.

In this holiday season, it is my wish for all of you that you can find your sense of peace, your quiet calm, and your own understanding of how gloriously lucky you are.

This is my quiet calm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feel Like Bacon Love

I need to attend a 12-step program for my bacon addiction. It's disgusting. Seriously disgusting. I love turkey bacon, I love bacon bacon, I even love the fake no meat in it bacon. I just love all things bacon. Is it Jim Gaffigan who has the bit about loving bacon so much that he'd eat bacon wrapped bacon? I don't know if it's Jim Gaffigan or if I'm thinking it is because I love Jim Gaffigan, but at any rate, it's so me. I could eat bacon wrapped bacon. I could eat an entire PLATE of bacon, then go back for seconds. And thirds.

I recently heard about bacon ice cream, and while I feel I should be appalled at the joining of bacon and ice cream, I'm not. Rather, I feel it's the perfect dessert to pair with my dream meal of bacon appetizers followed by a bacon entree.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), my husband--you know, the guy who does all the cooking--doesn't care for bacon that much, so we don't eat it very often. So, there's my confession. I know bacon is disgusting. I know that grease pours out of it when you cook it, but I love it. My guilty pleasure is not alcohol (although I do really like alcohol) or tobacco or gambling. My guilty pleasure is bacon. If bacon was illegal, I'd be heavily involved in the bacon black market. You'd find me hunched over in a dark room, shoveling it in my mouth. Actually, that thought isn't too far from what I'd like to be doing right now...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: First Snow

Yesterday morning, we woke up to a lot of unexpected snow! As a general rule, I hate snow, but going out to play with Luke in the afternoon made me like it a little bit more (but only a little bit).

(I hate that I leave for work when it's still dark!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Many Faces

I always tell Luke that I love his face. While I mean that in the simplest of manners, in that I love every part of him, including his face, I also mean that I love his faces. From the day he was born, he's been full of expression, from the early grumpy old man looks to his first smile when we learned that he had DIMPLES, I've been loving it from day one.

As he grows, so do his expressions, and the ever changing myriad of Luke faces make me smile.
There's the intense stare, which I rather think resembles a Buckingham Palace Guard.

There's the sleepy-faced baby boy, this face usually followed by a "night night."

There's the playful face, often accompanied with running or yelling.

There's the happy face, where you just know that he's glad you're there.

The intent face, when nothing else matters but the task at hand.

And my favorite, absolute favorite, the safe face. The one that tells me that he knows that he is loved and protected. The one that we should all be lucky to make every once in awhile.

Photos by Beth of Beth Fletcher Photography

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Trainspotting

Luke loves trains, so much so that when the world's longest freight train went past us on Sunday, it pretty much made his day.

Photo by Beth of Beth Fletcher Photography

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Pickin' Pumpkins!

Luke's first hayride and trip to a pumpkin patch!

I couldn't choose and had to post them all..

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Mommy's Little Monster

Of course, Mommy's little monster would not hold still for a photo, so go to nonny & boo to check out how amazingly cute the monster hoodie is!

Monday, October 6, 2008


Ghosts come in many shapes and forms. There are the ghosts of our pasts, the memories we'd like to forget. There are the ghosts of chance, a missed moment or a risk not taken, that leaves us wondering "What if..." There are the ghosts of those we've lost, those times when you see the back of a head in a crowd and think, "Hey, is that?" before remembering that they're gone from our world. Then there are ghosts, those of the supernatural, "things that go bump in the night" variety.

If you ask me if I believe in ghosts, I'll tell you that I don't know. I say I don't know because I don't want to say no and have a ghost prove me wrong, but also because I simply don't know. I believe that when a person dies, energy can be left behind. For this reason, I could never knowingly live in a house in which a violent death occurred. Not because I think a vengeful ghost would wake me up in the middle of the night, tossing wine glasses at my head, but because I believe that in the instance in which a life is ended with rage or fear, surely something must linger. But what that something is, I don't know. I grew up in a house that was built in 1841. A house that likely saw many more births and deaths than any house will today. In my parents' orchard, the old outhouse is still standing, and I grew up knowing that someone died in there, with his feet propped against the door, so that the door had to be torn off to remove his body. If some part of us is left behind after death, I certainly hope he hasn't had to spend all of eternity trapped in an outhouse. In high school, my friends and I would always go to a local cemetery, an old Gypsy graveyard, hoping to see something scary. We succeeded only in scaring ourselves. In college, we would make trips to a cemetery, out in the middle of a state forest, where the surroundings were perhaps scarier than any ghost could have been. In all those trips, I never found an answer or had an experience that made me move past my thoughts on ghosts, my status of simply not knowing.

Statistic says that 1/3 of Americans believe in ghosts, yet when you ask someone a question of the supernatural variety, the inevitable answer--whether or not they're in that 1/3--is, "Well, there was this one time..." My one time happened when I was around seven. I was in my bedroom playing with Barbies. I never liked the cheap plastic hairbushes that came with the dolls, so I always used this green wire-bristled hair brush. To this day, this memory is startlingly clear. I was brushing the dolls' hair, and I set the hairbrush slightly behind me to dress the dolls. After dressing Barbie in a cocktail gown of some variety, I wanted to make a few last minute adjustments to the hair. I felt behind me for the brush, couldn't find it. I turned around and didn't see it, so I remember thinking that I likely knocked it in between the bed and wall. I peered into the slightly gloomy space between and didn't see the hairbrush, deciding that it had fallen all the way under the bed. I remember thinking that I should ask my mom to help me, but at that moment, all I wanted was to fix Barbie's hair, so I headed downstairs to get a new brush. As I opened the cabinet in the bathroom, I caught a flash of green. I opened it further and there was the green hairbrush, the one I'd just been using. We didn't have two green hairbrushes, and I knew it was the one I'd had, the one I'd set behind me. But how? I didn't take it, I didn't go back upstairs, instead I walked outside, into the bright sunshine. To this day, I still wonder what happened. Childhood's logic can be simple some times and memory can be faulty, so perhaps there's a part of the story I'm forgetting. Yet, that memory has stayed with me all these years, clearer than any other childhood memory, simply because I do not understand it. I do know that that is my story, that it is not dramatic and does not involve a light leading me from a burning car, or a hitchhiker that disappeared in front of a cemetery. Still, it is my story, the one that makes me wonder, the one that longs for a rational explanation, yet in all these years, I cannot seem to find one.

Entry submitted to Scribbit's October Write-Away Contest.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Is It Your Mother, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, or Friend?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, something very near to my heart. As I've said before, I love the color pink. I own many pink items, and not just because of the color. I buy them because many companies market pink items that give a kick back to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Not only am I buying items with my favorite color, but I'm making a donation, as well. I give money to this cause because this year alone, breast cancer will take an estimated 40,000 women, and another 182,000 will receive the diagnosis. I support this cause for those women, but mostly, I support this cause for Betsy and Barb.

When I was in 8th grade, I dealt with death for the first time. Betsy was someone I knew my entire life, literally. She and my mom met when they were both pregnant. Betsy's daughter was born two days after me, and I can't remember a time they were not in our lives. Betsy and my mom did Girl Scouts together, we went on trips together, held garage sales together, and we were as close as any people not related by blood can be. One afternoon when I was in 6th grade, Betsy's daughter called our house and asked if my mom if she knew where her parents were. She got from school and no one was there, no note, or anything. My mom didn't know, and shortly after, her parents returned home. For the first time in my life, I heard the phrase "found a lump" as it was revealed where they were. For the next two years, Betsy fought. She lost her hair, she lost her breast, and then finally, she lost the fight. I remember the afternoon I found out. I overheard my mom on the phone, and I knew before she even came upstairs to tell me. I still miss her, and more than anything, I hope for a cure, so no other girl will have to lose her mom at an age when girls NEED their moms (whether they admit it or not).

Barb is a dear friend with whom I was lucky to teach with for two years. She was my team leader my first year of teaching, and when we split to two middle schools, she stayed, and I transferred across town. I don't see her as much as I'd like, but we try to set aside dinner dates! Barb is hilarious. She has such a dry sense of humor that sometimes, it takes a few minutes for what she said to settle in... and then, you're usually laughing so hard you're crying! A few months into my first year of teaching, Barb told us at our team meeting that she was going to have to start undergoing chemo for her breast cancer. I then learned that she'd been fighting it for a long time and that it would go into remission for awhile, then return. I learned that it had spread to other parts of her body. I also learned that she is stronger than any other human being I have ever met, hands down. Every Monday, Barb would have to take the afternoon off to go to chemo, but that is the ONLY day she'd miss. She came to school when her hair was falling out, when her nails peeled, and when she was so sick that she could hardly keep down Saltines. And you know, what we do.. it's not easy. When the kids would complain about Barb being grouchy one day, I wanted to smack them, because they just had no idea. Barb is not someone who lets you pity her. She is very private, and so, we never talked much past the surface, but every now and then, we'd move past the jokes, and I'd let her know how much I admired her utter strength. And I do. Barb is my hero, and I want a cure for Barb. One Christmas, I told her I'd buy her a car, and she said, How about a cure? I would trade just about anything to be able to give that to Barb.

For Barb and Betsy and all those other women, protect yourself. Examine your breasts, get yearly checkups, and if you're in an at-risk group, start mammograms early. Exercise. If you have a child, try to breastfeed. Did you know that breastfeeding benefits mama, too? The numbers are so staggering, so great, that it's easy to believe that our lives have all been touched by this disease. So, who is your breast cancer survivor, hero, or angel?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Need A Ride?

Not even two, and he's already hitching a ride!

Wordless Wednesday: Carry Me Close

You can't see it very well, but that super rad wrap is from Kiddie Winkles, and I am madly in love with it.

Rock Me Baby

I have a confession to make: I still rock my baby to sleep every night. And yes, that baby is 19 months old. I've heard all the warnings that he'll never be able to sleep without rocking, but you know what? I've never met a 26 year old who needs to be rocked to sleep. I'm just sayin'.

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I used to sit in the glider and rock every night. I'd talk to my stomach and tell him (though I didn't know for sure I had a him in there) that we were ready for him. Our first night home from the hospital, I rocked with him snuggled in my arms, and I could hardly believe he was here. Since then, we've rocked nearly every night. As he grows, his feet dangle off my lap, and it's not the same snug fit we once had. But somehow, his body still molds itself into my arms as he sinks into sleep.

This is our quiet time, our time to nurse, and then cuddle into each other. I smell his hair, I study his impossibly long eyelashes,

Friday, September 19, 2008

Can't Help...

Lovin' that MOM of mine.

I need to dedicate a post to my mom, because she is simply amazing. I feel that amazing doesn't even begin to sum her up, and there are so many things I could share with you about why my mom is amazing that I'm not even sure where to start.

I remember when I was in high school, and I first started to realize that my mom was amazing. It occurred to me on nights when my friends would show up randomly for dinner, and my mom would never complain, just set an extra plate. See, we were the family that always ate dinner together, that always had a delicious meal on the table, so my friends who didn't have this? They came for dinner. Right after I graduated from high school, I started spending a lot of time with my friends, knowing I'd be leaving for Indiana University soon. One night, my friends and I were out late at a movie, so they all ended up crashing at my place. When my mom woke up the next morning to discover my friend Rachel sharing my room and THREE boys in the living room, did she get upset? No, she said, "I guess Erin had a sleepover," and proceeded to make us homemade blueberry pancakes and bacon. See, my mom knew we weren't up to anything bad, no drinking or sex or anything of the sort. She knew we were just being kids, and she embraced that. I knew right then that I wanted to be this mom, the safe haven who made blueberry pancakes.

My mom is a huge fan of The Birth Story on TLC. See, my mom saw an OB who supported natural childbirth (even in the 70s!), but due to my brother having the cord wrapped around his neck, my mom had a c-section. And since VBAC was unheard of at this time, my mom had c-sections with all of us. Yet, my mom loves to watch these birth shows, even though when I lived at home, I'd make faces at the sight of a baby being born. When I was 8 weeks pregnant, and we told my mom, my mom said, "Get a doula!" And we did, of course. When I asked my mom if she wanted to be in the delivery room when the baby was born, she shyly said, "If you want me to..." but I knew she wanted to be there, and she knew I wanted her there. And so she was, she and my dad both. When I was in labor with Luke, she sat up with me while Shane slept. She helped out, and when Luke was born, the first noise I heard was my mom cheering. My mom is not the mom who cries a lot, but when she called my sisters to tell them the news, she was speaking through tears. The day we got home from the hospital, my mom had put clean sheets on the bed (my water broke while in bed), and we were greeted by a clothesline of onesies above the front porch that spelled out, "IT'S A BOY!" When I had trouble nursing at first, my mom who breastfed all four of her kids (two were twins!) at a time when breastfeeding was frowned upon, gave me calm advice and let me know that it would get better. And my mom who breastfed me until I was almost two has never been anything but supportive of toddler nursing.

And today. Today, I pulled into the driveway after a long day of work. My parents watch Luke on Fridays. When I got out of my car, I realized that my mom had planted mums out front. And when I came inside, I realized that my mom had washed a load of cloth diapers for me. My mom is who she is not because she feels she like she has to be this person, but because this IS who she is. Because she is amazing, because she is beautiful, and because when she became a mom? She meant it.

Right after her 5th grandchild was born...

Our welcome home greeting

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Gift of Rain

After all this rain, we were graced with a beautiful rainbow. It was too big to fit all of it in my camera, but I tried my best!

Luke was rather unimpressed with the rainbow, but he was very happy to be outside.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away

First of all, huge congrats to Stephanie who welcomed a baby girl into the world early this morning and to Mimi who was also there to welcome her new granddaughter! I can't wait to see pictures.

Now on to the rain. Oh, I do not like Ike! The rain started on Thursday, and it came in bursts until Saturday, when it started and DID NOT STOP. It rained so much that most area schools are closed due to flooding. Saturday night, Luke and I stayed the night at my parents' house because Shane's monthly poker game was at our house. The poker games go late, and it is hard to get Luke to bed with a houseful of men. We left my parents' at about 9 Sunday morning. I knew it had rained a lot, but I didn't think it'd be that bad yet. Well, a 20 minute drive turned into an hour drive because the roads were so bad. I drive a Ford Focus, which is not exactly made for navigating high water. There was one time on a main road, crossing a bridge, where I was really scared. I didn't realize how high and how fast the water was until I got into the middle of it, and my car started to pull. At one point, I hit the gas, and the car didn't respond, but I made it through. When I was almost home, I drove through water, then got to another spot where I knew I wouldn't be able to get through. I pulled over to the side of the road and called my husband, in tears. He told me to stay on the phone with him, to turn around, and try and get back through the water I'd just driven in. I did and made it, but I wasn't sure how to get home. I finally made it, winding around back roads, and I was glad to be home! Shortly after, I got the phone call that school was canceled, and I celebrated with a few glasses of wine to try and calm my nerves!

In August, I posted about some flooding we had. After the rain finally let up last night, we took a walk to the same area, and wow! It was way worse than August. These are not the best photos because it started to get dark quickly, but you can get an idea of how much more water there is than in August.

I zoomed in to show that the metal guardrail (which you can see in the August photo) is completely underwater.

While we were down there, these guys in a huge monster truck drove past and gave us the peace sign. They then drove through the water, with the doors open, cheering the entire time. It was hilarious! And because I'm a dork, I waded in to my ankles to feel how fast it was moving. Even in the shallow parts, it was fast and ICE cold. And yes, I'm wearing my pajamas!

We went out this morning for much-needed items (Starbucks and beer, duh), and I was surprised at how flooded everything still is. This is the entrance/exit ramp to I65, still very under water.

This is a restaurant about ten minutes south of our house, on the Kankakee River.

The area beyond the black wrought iron gate is actually an outdoor dining area, but as you can see, it is all under water. The river itself is up to the very bottom of the bridge, and the water is creeping higher still because the bridge is jammed with debris--there was an entire tree stuck there! As the water drains into the river, I expect it'll get higher as the day goes on. We saw farmers out sandbagging along fields, but I imagine a lot of crops are ruined. I am thankful our sump pump was working overtime, so we did not have any water in our house.

Monday, September 1, 2008

You'd Have My Vote

If you're reading this and you're a presidential candidate (and I'm sure you guys--and gals, apparently--have nothing better to do than peruse my blog), let me tell you how to snag my vote. Sure, you could promise to cut taxes, but to be honest, I don't mind paying taxes that much. If my tax dollars go to good programs, I'm pretty pleased. No, to get my vote, all you have to do is make EVERY weekend a three-day weekend. Not too hard, right? I'm not particular about whether we get a Friday or a Monday off, just as long as one of them is no longer a work day. Hey, you could even alternate!

Here is why I think three-day weekends rule: On a normal two-day weekend (AKA, LAME), I really only get so much done. I spend one day grocery shopping, and I spend another day doing laundry. By Sunday night, I feel as it has all gone too fast. But on a three-day weekend, I get those things done and STILL have a day to play! You see? It's perfect.
Why, what did I do on this three-day weekend? Saturday, I went out for bagels and coffee at a local place, then I went grocery shopping, followed by a walk to the library. Saturday afternoon, I did some laundry, but it was pretty laid back, as I knew that I had TWO MORE DAYS to deal with the laundry.

On Sunday, we went to a winery with friends. This was pretty sweet because instead of being all, Ooh, I have to WORK tomorrow, I was all, Hey guys, let's buy a bottle of chilled champagne and go watch a Jim Gaffigan DVD, because WE DON'T HAVE TO WORK TOMORROW.

Incidentally, Future Presidents, imposing a law that all bottles of wine must cost no more than $4 would be a pretty sweet thing to do.

Today, we went to a parade. Parades are generally cool because they involve things like balloons and free candy, but I'm not insisting that every three-day weekend involve a parade. One every so often would be nice, though. Hey, Barry and Johnny (Barack Obama and John McCain to those of you who aren't supplying the candidates with totally awesome ideas), maybe you could throw a parade in my honor for giving you a winning idea? Just a thought.

Now, I'm certain there would be some logistics to work out, in terms of salary changes or how to fit 40 hours into 4 days, but I'll let you Presidential types debate on those points.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Flashback!

Hard to believe that one year ago, my now walking, talking toddler had only just begun to crawl.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Beach Feet

This mama wishes her tired toesies had spent the day in the sand (like last week) instead of shoved in four inch heels (like today). I promise to cough out a real update soon, if I survive this week (surely death by 8th graders is not that unheard of!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lightning Striking Again

And again and again and a--okay, you get the point. Did anyone in the Chicagoland area get much sleep last night? Because we sure didn't! The storm(s) started durng Luke's bedtime. I caught flashes of lightning through the window as I was nursing him, but I had no idea that the storm would continue ALL NIGHT LONG.

Thankfully, we did not have any tornado activity and extra thankfully, we did not lose power, but it was still nasty. I slept periodically, constantly awakened by loud claps of thunder. Our bed is against an outside wall of the house, so every now and then, the thunder would be so much that the bed would shake. I am not kidding. At one point, the thunder clap was so much that the smoke alarm went off twice. To say it's unsettling to attempt to sleep while all of this is going on is an understatement. We kept waiting for Luke to wake up screaming, but somehow, he did not. However, when he woke up at an unprecedented 8 o'clock (we're lucky to make it until 6:30), I asked him if he heard the thunder last night, and he looked at my wide-eyed, grabbed my arm, then put his head on my shoulder. Yeah, I know how you feel, kiddo! So, apparently he did hear it and slept just as poorly as we did, but is somehow braver than I and was able to stay in his crib alone.

I had a hair appointment this morning, and I expected to see tree branches everywhere, judging from the sound of the wind. I did not realize quite how much rain we received, until I had to make three separate detours due to flooding. The worst of it was just down the street from our house, where a large wetland/swamp area is located. Now, the name wetland would lead you to believe that obviously it floods easily, and you would be correct in this belief. I have not, however, seen it flooded this badly. Usually, I'll have to detour in the morning, then I'll be just fine to drive through in the afternoon. This morning, though, there was a car stuck in the middle of it, with a very confused looking man standing next to said car. Seriously, I have two rules about driving through water on the road: If you can't see the road and/or if it's moving quickly, it's not worth chancing it! As it was very clearly both today, I've no idea why this man thought it a fun idea to take his small Pontiac through the water, but he did not make it very far.

When I came home with my story of uber-flooding, Shane dismissed me, reminding me that that area always floods and that it'd be receeded by this afternoon. Unfortuntaly, I missed my opportunity to make a WINNING BET, instead just telling him that we should take our bikes down there after Luke woke up from his nap.

I told Shane to pretend like he was diving in, and as you can see, I would've easily won the bet.

There's a road here, somewhere...

See? Fast moving. Not for cars!

Suffice to say, I think we definitely don't have to worry about a drought.