Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March 1.

On March 1st five years ago, my world was changed forever. I was woken up from a dead sleep to my cell phone ringing. I didn't get the call in time. When I heard it ringing again, I knew something was really wrong. I don't remember who drew the short straw in my family that day. I don't think it was my grandmother and if I had to guess today, I'd say that it was my Uncle Jeff.

She was gone.

My mother had died.

I was living in New England. Everyone else, including my mother was in my hometown in Illinois.

We would later learn she died of alcohol poisoning. She was an alcoholic and I had noticed it was getting worse when I was home in January. She was trying hard to be sober while I was home. My eyes couldn't help but see her hands shake as we looked for wedding inspiration ideas at Michaels.

She was really excited about getting to play her role as mother of the bride in August. I remember the joy she felt as she gave her opinion on bridesmaids dresses. I wanted my girls to pick something they felt comfortable in. Each choose a dress that was different but within the same color scheme.

I had already picked out my dress and it was on order. But while we were at the bridal boutique she said "This one is like yours, try it on just for fun." I did. And she looked at me with beautiful tears in her eyes and told me what a beautiful bride I would be. It was the only time she would get to see me in a wedding dress.

After hearing the news of her death, I immediately went into shock. But just for a moment. They say that your best qualities come out during tragedy. Mine are organization and leadership.

I called my boss. It was early morning. He was an older gentleman with a sweet soul. I still remember his words.

"Say it ain't so, NJ. Say it ain't so."

But it was. I told him we were leaving for the airport. And I didn't know when I'd be back. I hoped there would still be a job for me to come back to. But I understood if business needs couldn't support it. I'd be back when I was ready to be a functional person again. Two weeks later, I wouldn't say that I was functioning. But at least I was managing.

The flight home was not without drama. The airport was in the middle of a remodel and the ticketing desk was at one end of the airport but the make shift security line was at the other. The line was long. We were not going to make it. I made it know that we NEEDED to get through ASAP, my mother had just died and we had to get to our family waiting for us. We made our flight, by the skin of our teeth.

When we finally got to my grandmother's house there were family friends and close family waiting. Word travels fast in a small town. Everyone was in shock. No one knew what to say, so they didn't really say anything.

One thing that really surprised me was the strength and love I felt from my friend Tim's dad. Tim was in my graduating class and committed suicide as a result of PTSD after returning home safely from a tour in Baghdad. A father without a son, comforting a daughter without a mother.

People filed in and out over the next few days.

Food came.

Flowers and plants came.

Arrangements were made.

I found the decisions to be very difficult. I wasn't sure on which hymns she would have wanted sung. I didn't know if she'd want communion. We had never talked about it. The only thing I knew was that she wanted to be cremated. My grandparents and uncles kept saying "it's your decision, you decide." But I didn't know what she wanted. So I tried to read their minds to figure out what they wanted the service to be like. After all, their world had been crushed too.

The next few days went by with a blur. We welcomed more friends. Memories were shared. Tears were shed.

We had the service.

I delivered a funny and beautiful eulogy.

People thought it was strange that I was so held together.

I didn't.

Someone had to hold us together.

I promised my husband I would address my feelings as they came up.

A few weeks after I got home, they did.

5 years later, they still do sometimes.

Its strange. I mostly feel like she was jipped.

It wasn't until after she passed that I really started to blossom into the person I wanted to be.

I grew up and out of the "wandering" years that are your early twenties.

I left my job in retail and got a position in a company I'm madly passionate about.

I got married and and a child.

I found some my of the best friends in the entire world.

I miss her the most when I look at Malone. He is a spitting image of me, and I of her. I can't give him a bath. It makes me miss her too much. It is such a mundane task but makes me think of her. Of all of the times she sat by my bath, caring for and nurturing me.

There are times when the grief hits me like a wave slamming my body against the shore.

But there is no place to go but forward.

Second by second.

Minute by minute.

Hour by hour.

Day by day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

This is what....

When I saw them run by today, I was excited. When I saw them stroll by in the lobby after the their race, I was thrilled because I knew I'd have a chance to take Malone to meet them. This is what I want Malone to remember about this day.

Dear Malone,

This is what determination looks like.

Today Daddy finished his first half marathon. This was a goal he has been working towards for over a year. He has made his dream come true through hard work and perseverance. He spent many nights running by head lamp after you were in bed and many of his lunch hours on the dreadmill. He did it without sacrificing time he could have spent with you. There were days when he didn't want to lace up his shoes and get out there, but he didn't give up. He pushed on to work through it.

This is what hard work looks like.


This is what love looks like.

This is Team Hoyt (Dick is the dad, Rick is the son). We had the extraordinary luck to run into them today while we were waiting for daddy to cross the finish line. When Rick was born, there were some complications. As a result, he was diagnosed as a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy.

His parents were advised to put him in a mental institution.

But instead, they fought for him. They fought for him to accepted as part of their community- to go to school, to learn, to dream, to live his best life.

When Dick learned that Rick wanted to run, he set out to make that dream come true. He worked hard, pushing Rick in a special wheel chair.

One foot in front of the other.

At their first race, they came in second to last place.

But they didn't give up. And they haven't.

This year they will cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon for the 30th time. They have also competed in several triathlons- thinking outside of the box to find a way to make those dreams come true.

There will come a time when you will admire a professional athlete or singer. You may not ever remember meeting Team Hoyt today. But I want you to remember the lessons they teach us.

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things too.

People of ALL abilities have the power to inspire us and to do great things.

If you have a dream, you can make it happen. You may have to think outside of the box to get there. But Daddy and I will be here to help you the best we can.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Last week, things were good. Malone slept through the night several nights in a row. My morning hour was fruitful. Even though I was getting less sleep, I felt energized from having an hour in the morning to myself. I spent it working on this blog- writing, reading your blogs, commenting, and returning comments. Mike and I squeezed in a couch date during the weekend.

This week, things are different. Not bad, just different. Malone's sleep all over the place again. He is no longer reliably sleeping through the nights and he is waking early. Today's power hour lasted 15 minutes before I was interrupted by him.

Malone is shifting again and needing more from both of us. He is begging for more connection and yearns for more time at home. I want to give it to him. As a nurturer style parent, I will give it to him. But, in order to do that, I have to shift again too. It will mean moving from where I am most comfortable- out and about with him experiencing the world one toddler step at a time. It will mean mustering the energy for a power hour post bed time and knowing that it is likely the precious time in the morning will be uninterrupted just long enough to get my basis morning needs met.


Teeth Brushed.


My husband pointed out to me that I never like these shifts. He is right. Just when something seems to fall into place, everything changes again leaving me feeling anxious and unsettled.

I am letting these feelings marinate. I know their roots.

The thing is, that big beautiful things come from shifts like this. And looking back on life things always fall into perfect place

We cannot stay the same and grow at the same time.

Thanks Shell, for giving me space to pour my heart out.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday's Story Behind The Picture

Here is today's Saturday's Story Behind the Picture.

Malone and I are in my hometown (which is quite small) and at the annual wiffleball tournament organized by one of the families.

Malone and I have flown in from the East Coast by ourselves. Mike is joining us for the second half of the trip. He couldn't get a ton of time off. When he arrives, Malone will be baptized into the church that is a cornerstone of my family- my grandparents have been members for the better part of 40 years, my parents were married there, I was baptized there, and we were married there.

The flight out was rather uneventful. We breezed through security. Malone slept and nursed. He didn't fuss much. There were no poo explosions on the plane. I have fit all of our things into a suitcase and a carry on. We will use our cloth diapers while we are here. I am excited to show them to my family as they have changed so much.

While I am home, I have an amazing conversation with my elderly grandmother about cloth diapers. I learn from her that disposable diapers were just beginning to become available when she was raising children. The reason she used cloth diapers was because she was unsure of how well disposables actually worked, felt guilty about throwing them away, and thought they were too expensive. She will tell me my mother felt the same way and also chose cloth diapers. I look her in the eye and tell her those are the same reasons I'm choosing cloth.

I didn't bring a stroller or much gear along. I have preferred to wear Malone, than use a stroller. This was a bit of a surprise for me, I didn't expect to fall in love with baby wearing. I am thankful that we talked ourselves out of the $700.00 Uppa Baby Vista stroller. Everything that I need for this trip has been borrowed (car seat, pack and play, stroller so my relatives can take Malone for a walk.

Malone is about 10 weeks old. His hair is red, which is lovely. It reminds me of my mom, who also had red hair. I am wearing him in a Sakura Bloom Linen Sling. This is really the first time that I've worn him forward facing. He likes it well enough, but seems to get overstimulated very easily.

At the tournament I run into just about everyone I know, friends of mine as well as my mother's friends. It is great to see some old friends. My mother's friends are happy to see us, but I sense their underlying grief. They are sad she isn't here to witness the joy of Malone. She passed away before I got married. It was sudden.

They mean well, but it's not coming out right.

We don't stay at the tournament long- just long enough to see and be seen. I don't want to be sad today.

She is gone.

He is here.

I have to hold it together. He needs me.

Besides, it is windy and getting chilly.

Friday, February 17, 2012


This week has gone by in SUCH a blur and too quickly for my taste. But it is the Friday of a long weekend and I am thrilled! Malone and I are off on Monday for President's Day and are already anticipating a "date" day filled with his friends and my mama friends.

In preparation for this InstaFriday, I went looked through my phone and realized the majority of the photos I take are of my son. While this is well and good, there are other beautiful things in my world that I want to capture besides just him. This week, I made a concentrated effort to capture a more of my entire world.

This french macaroon was the breakfast of champions on Sunday. Even better, it was made by my friend Nick who bakes at co-op. I stopped there on Sunday morning to pick up a few things for a Blessingway I was on my way to. (this article explains pretty well what a Blessingway is, if you're wondering).

As I came out of the co-op, I looked down and knew the day was going to be extraordinary. I have never come across double lucky pennies found on the ground.

The Blessingway was beautiful. While I was not the guest of honor, I was honored to be a guest. The ceremony involved each attendee presenting the mama with a bead, a story behind the chosen bead, and wishes for her labor, delivery, journey into motherhood as a mama of two, or transition of her first child into big sister. It was lovely and a wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday morning.

Meme (aka my mother in law) was hear this weekend and enjoyed tons of time with Malone, including a nap. We'd love to have more of her in our life, but she lives a three our drive away.

We made heart shaped crayons for Valentine's Day. They were very easy to do and the Crayolas melted beautifully. I loved that we could all work on this together, Mike and I peeled the crayons and Malone broke them. This activity was all over Pinterest this year. My pin was originally from The Long Thread. On the home front, celebrated Valentine's Day the way we always do without gifts or cards, but with Chinese take out.

Malone woke up super early one day this week. Literally, seconds after I woke up for my hour of me time (which I have found and is working out amazingly). I was defeated. On this particular day, I NEEDED this hour. BADLY.

But when Mike also woke up early, I realized that if we hustled we could have a breakfast date! We had a great time together and good food. It was a nice change of pace and I felt my grumpy shift into happy This picture cracks me up- Malone is drinking strawberry milk out of a to go coffee cup (best impromptu sippy cup ever). He has is cars lined up in a very specific order that only he understands.

Malone's love for books is continuing to blossom. He wants to take a book with him almost everywhere he goes. This was on the way to daycare after breakfast our breakfast date.

On a dinner time play date, Malone was excited to play with a play laptop. I was excited to catch up with my friend. Win win for everyone.

I'm linking up today with Jeanett at Life Rearranged
life rearranged

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sibling Angst.

My entire life I have longed for a sibling. No matter how many extra hours I work, how creative I am, or how much money I save, it is one of the only things in life that I cannot obtain or work hard to achieve. I have a wonderful sister in law and brother in law, but it just isn't the same as someone with whom I've shared whole life with.

Because of this, I am (my husband too) 100% committed to attempting to have more children and/or adopting. We are starting to think about trying again, probably in the fall. If all goes as well as it did the last time, and we conceive quickly again, our children would be about 4 years apart. A good age, far enough a part to have different friends but close enough to play well together. The same number of years apart as my mother and her brothers.

It is not hard to notice Malone is getting very independent. He travels well, he is ridiculously obedient, he does well eating out. I can read while he plays by himself on the floor or is engaged in an art project. Planning a girls night out doesn't involve the thoughts of pumping.

In short, the days of him needing me 100% of the time are ending.

And I have a chance to find a piece of me again. The piece that I lost when I was so entrenched in the world of baby. For the first time in a long time, I am planning things for me. Independent of him.

I am so committed to giving Malone a sibling. I desire it with heart of hearts.

But I hate the baby stage, oh so much. The constant need it puts on my mind and my body. I'm not a baby person. I'm just not.

I am a toddler/preschool person. I've known since my days as a nanny. Yes, totally all the way in awe of the learning, the singing, the exploration, the speech, and the imagination.

And I can't get this quote out of my mind. I heard it this weekend at a production of The Vagina Monologues that my friend Tara was in.

"My vagina helped release a giant baby. It thought it would be doing more of that. It's not. Now, it wants to travel..." Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday's Story Behind The Picture

I've changed my mind about doing Saturday's Story Behind The Picture on the first and third Saturday of the month. Mostly, because I don't know I will remember which Saturday to post and which to leave off.

Without further ado, here is today's Saturday Behind The Picture.

We are at the Boston Children's Museum in their 3 and under room. Even though it is a bit of a drive from our house (an hour and a half), we've been coming at least once a week for the last few weeks. It is early August and hot. The museum and car ride have air conditioning, our house doesn't. The travel to and from the museum is perfect. I catch a car nap on both ways.

Every time.

Without fail.

Malone is about 14 months, give or take. We spend most of our time today in the 3 and under room. We are in the gated off area designated for crawlers. Malone is walking, but there are no crawlers using the space right now. And when there are we either leave or ask if they mind if we stay.

They never seem to mind.

This window is where we spend most of our time today. Malone has recently discovered the joy of pointing and it seems like he is always pointing at something. Today he is very interested in the people strolling along the river or dining al fresco. Every one in awhile, a boat comes by. That seems to be what pleases him most of all.

You can't really see his outfit well, but it is a green and white striped one piece shortie outfit from Baby Gap. I purchased it on super clearance the summer he was born, taking a risk on that the size would work out. The size is 12-18 months. My long and lean child has plenty of room in this, despite having on a cloth diaper.

I have set the ball rolling at work and they are looking for a full time position for me to return to, after being a SHAM and working part time.

I'm already mourning the loss of this kind of day. The one where I wake up and decide to take Malone to the museum.

Just because we can.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Search For My Hour.

This morning I set out trying to find the extra hour I spoke about yesterday.

I tried to find it last night, but by 9:00 pm I just don't have it in me to really make productive use of time. I found myself making popcorn and zoning out to bad tv. I hope to shift the use of that hour too- maybe to reading or crafting. But for now, it is what it is.

My alarm went off at 5:00 am and I laid in bed for a good ten minutes trying to peel myself out. It was cozy, but I want and need this extra time.

The house is so quiet and perfect. I am afraid that at any second Malone is going to wake up and my time will be done. My focus will have to shift away from me and back to motherhood. So far, so good. He should be up in about 30 minutes which means that I will actually have found an hour and a half.

I am proud of myself for not wasting this time. It is precious. I have been intentional with most of it. Facebook only got 5 minutes of it. The other 55 minutes were spent returning comments, visiting your blogs, and reading entries/commenting from Shell's PYHO.

I will finish up this post and use the last few minutes to work on getting my master cleaning plan into a printable word document. I love lists and I need to be able to cross things off as I go. The complete master copy will go in my household management binder that I am attempting to create.

I don't have all of the answers and I am already seeing flaws/changes to make to this process. But I am enjoying the fruit that this intentional work is already starting to bear.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I used to see the weekend as a time to play catch up on the things that were neglected all week around the house. This past Saturday however, I took a look around. There wasn't a space in my house I could go where my eyes didn't immediately dart to areas to clean and spaces to declutter. I felt cagey and anxious. I was snippy with my husband and stressed out.

Something needed to change ASAP.

I spent the rest of the weekend taking time to write down every single chore/housework task that needs to happen on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I wrote down projects that need to be completed. I made a list of things to put on Craigslist. I finally took the time to make a budget that balances to zero each month. I made a meal plan for the week.

When I had all of the data right in front of me, I was shocked to see how much there is to really do.

I want to do this for me, so that I won't be a crazy stressed out basket-case. But even more than that, Malone deserves to live in a clean and well organized space. Mike deserves a peaceful environment.

I'm trying really hard to make sure all of the daily tasks as well as a few of the weekly ones are accomplished each day. I'm keeping the laundry moving. Mike is pitching in too.

I'm finding I still need an hour or so more than what I currently have and working to find it. I will find it.



But for now, I am enjoying being underwhelmed by it all.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Misadventures in the darkest hour.

Each night, Malone tends to end up in our bed sometime between midnight and 5:00 am. There is usually a one in four chance that either Mike or I will take a few kicks to the rib by his tiny little feet or he'll show up with some random treasure from his room.

Last night was no exception. He crawled up into our bed right around 3:00 am, bringing his Kleen Kanteen water bottle and wicked cough with him. He had a hard time setting into our space and was playing a really sweet game of "I want my water, here I'm done, I want it back, no take it." This went on for a half hour or so before I realized four things.

1. The water is probably helping to sooth his throat.
2. No one was going to get any sleep if Malone stayed in bed with us.
3. His water bottle was almost empty.
4. It is cold, dark, and I do not want to get out of bed to remedy #2 or #3.

I get out anyway, realizing quality sleep is more important.

So, here we are standing next to my bed at 3:30 am. I am thinking "I am SO SMART, my water bottle is here. I can just unscrew his water bottle and pour some of my water into his bottle. This is the BEST IDEA EVER."

Did I mention it is pitch black?

The pour goes well. I screw the cap of Malone's Kleen Kanteen on. I am even more impressed with myself. I mentally give myself a high five.

Then, I decide I should test out the Kleen Kanteen to make sure the lid is screwed on properly.

I hold out my hand and pour.


I do not realize that Malone is standing right underneath my hand.

It is still pitch black, remember?

The cap is not screwed on properly after all.

Malone is now a little wet and hysterical.


So much for not waking Michael up during this process and getting Malone to sleep in his room in a timely manner.

I try screwing the lid on (again in the dark) a few more times. Something isn't lining up right. I need light.

I take Malone into his room and tell him I'll be right there. I don't want to fully wake him up (as if the water didn't already do that!).

I go to the kitchen and stumble for the light.

Ahh.. it has two different screw sections. Who knew. One to seal the lid and one for the interchangeable tops.

Back to Malone's room I go. The cap is tight.

He's still mad. He's sitting up, crying hysterically.

"Are you angry at me?"

He's so worked up he's short of breath. "Yyyyyyeah. I'm mmmmmmad."

"I'm sorry buddy. I poured the water on your by mistake. It was an accident. Okay?"

"Do you want new jammies on?"

They're not super wet. Mostly because the water hit his head.

"Nnnnnooo. I waaaaaaaant my water."

I hand it to him and he takes a small sip. He's calmed down a little bit.

"There is no more left, Mama."

Oh, for Pete's sake.

Toddler logic is going to kill me. He knows the water poured out but he didn't see or hear me put more in when I was in the kitchen dealing with the blasted cap.

I don't want to fight about this one. Pick your battles right?

"Okay buddy, I will go and fill it up. You stay here."

Back to the kitchen I go, to "fill up" an already full water bottle.

I turn the faucet for a second to prove that I'm filling it.

I come back and hand it to him. He has calmed down, but asks for a tissue.

I am so smart. I anticipated this need while I was kitchen 2.75 seconds go.

I wipe his nose. I tell him I'm sorry one last time.

He reaches for my hand.

And we both fall back asleep.

I'm linking this up with Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Satruday's Story Behind The Picture

I've decided that I am going to start blogging through old pictures on the first and third Saturdays of each month. I'd like to remember the story or emotions behind and write them down before I forget. Also, it will weave a nice history/legacy for our family.

This is Malone in February of 2011. He is almost 20 months old. We're on a play date with some of his friends at a place called Universal Kids where there are slides, ball pits, things to climb on/in, and dramatic play stations(Kitchen, Space, Dr.'s Office, etc)

He's wearing one of my favorite outfits from this "stage". He didn't get to wear it too often because I deemed it too nice to wear to daycare. The tiniest traces of baby are still left in his cheeks.

He was shyly confident that day. He was excited to see his friends and play but stuck close by me. We are still trying to find our rhythm as I went from full time SHAM to a working mama just a few months before. We are nursing ASAP when he gets home from daycare. I don't regret the change I've made for my family, but I wonder if I will in years to come. I am despite to see my friends (the mamas of his friends) today. I've gone from seeing them several times a week to squeezing in a weekend date, if I'm lucky.

Today, I was lucky. My batteries were recharged through play with Malone and conversation with my tribe.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seasons of LOVE.

There is no escaping the fact that February is the designated month for LOVE. You can't go to the supermarket, drug store, or department store without being bombarded with images of hearts, roses, and candy. The Valentine's Day Grinches out there will tell you that this is a made up holiday designed to get you to purchase unnecessary things to prove your love for someone.

I on the other hand, love this time of year- like a newborn baby riding a kitten over a rainbow bridge love. I've signed Malone up for a handmade Valentine swap with other families in our Valley, my lot of vintage Valentine cards just arrived from Ebay (let the decorating begin!), I have plans with the girls to go support our friend performing in a local production of the Vagina Monologues, and Mike and I will celebrate the way we always do, with take out Chinese and an On Demand Movie of whatever we missed in the theater.

This year, the season for love is extra special. My IRL friend, Tamara Like Camera and some of her bloggie friends are hosting a Comment Love Challenge. Participating is simple- link up and comment away (keeping track of course). There is a pretty sweet prize to be won, but you'll have to read all about it and the challenge details on Tamara's page. Even if you don't win, chances are you'll get to know some great bloggers and maybe even gain a friendship or two!

Comment Love Challenge