Tuesday, February 19, 2019

all those notebooks and journals under my bed. i keep them hidden with so many memories, full of happiness and then some full of such strong sadness.
writings from when i left new york, unexpectedly and without warning that one awful morning. i called my dad from the roof of our apartment and i told him that i needed to come home right away. i threw what i could fit into two suitcases and went and hailed a cab. the driver asked if i was going on vacation and i nodded. he drove over queensboro bridge and i watched the city getting smaller in the rearview mirror.
then pages of the happy times in new york. that blizzard and walking up john street in the snow kissing, mouth tasting of whiskey from that small bar we spent all afternoon at.
why do i always think of that memory.
or christmas time, when we went to all of those work parties that he got invited to. two little kids dressed up walking around new york like we knew something. i broke a glass one night and we took a cab to the apartment, when i opened the door he fell out into the sidewalk and we laughed and laughed and laughed.
the driver was yelling at us to close the door.
still we laughed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


two years old. so sweet. so funny. so charming. and a little bit naughty.
she fights back with her brother now with passion, yesterday in the car she yelled "i'm done talking to you, finn!" and then we pulled in the driveway they jumped out of the car and ran to the backyard playing together.

i don't want to forget what she says- how she says it. every day it seems she's less of a toddler and more a little girl. two years old- full of challenge, and emotion and change, and yet if i could, i'd pause time so i could keep her this little forever.

we've been having so much summer fun- boat rides, bike rides, playgrounds, swimming in the lake before the sunsets, the water warm and calm. daily trips to the pool, finn jumping in the water with confidence. diving under, taking his floaties off to jump off the dive. i sit by the side of the pool with caution and nervousness. each time he launches his skinny, tall body off the dive i hold my breath with him. he comes up and does his doggie paddle to the ladder and i exhale. he seeks more adventure now, climbing, jumping, always running. he'll be six in three days and i can't grasp it. i can't put into words the feelings. mostly excited and thankful, but also heartsick and panicky. he was just my two year old, nursing on my lap, sweaty in the summer heat, and now he'll be off to kindergarten come fall.

after a weekend at the lake with gigi. boat rides, fireworks, the tiny festival on the water, waking up in that little yellow bedroom with the sun shining through her white curtains, the lake outside the window, sylvie waving at the ducks, we pulled back into our driveway monday morning and sylvie said "thanks for everything, mom" and tears filled my eyes.

i need to remember. i just can't forget this happiness.

Monday, April 30, 2018


it's going to be my season. my favorite season.
no schedule, no time commitments, my kids can sleep in as late as their little minds will let them.
finn wakes up early now and thinks to himself. i see his eyes staring up at the ceiling after he's called me upstairs to lay with him.
"it's 5:45- go back to sleep" i whisper.
"how old will grammy be in 40 years?" he asks quietly "She'll still look the same, right?"
"yes" i say softly.
it's going to be our favorite season.
barefoot. wild hair. tall grasses blooming in the backyard. baby birds growing in the bird house on the tree right outside of finn's window. i still picture him, ten months old and that crisp fall morning waking up and noticing the leaves bright orange. like it happened overnight. now my almost six year old. like it happened overnight.
i watch him now when he doesn't notice. at school on the playground directing a game with friends. at birthday parties playing with party goers. i watched him sit a table of kids while we sang happy birthday. the other children laughing and joking with each other, there's finn, smiling intently and genuinely at the birthday girl the entire song. the little smirk on his face, the contentment.
"he's turning into a leader" his teacher tells me and i smile, "but he's also very kind and thoughtful of other people's feelings" and my eyes fill with tears.
where is my baby. arms so fat and smooth- wrists so chubby they looked like rubberbands were in the creases. his big buddha belly and gummy smile. i'd nurse him to sleep and later look on my forearm and see an imprint of his ear.
almost our favorite season. the last one i'll get with my prekindergarten boy. before he's a fulltime student. the thought makes me lose my breath. reminding myself to inhale. am i equipped for the challenges that lie ahead. the influence. the struggles. the others. the others. inhale. inhale.
almost our favorite season. of campouts. and the beach trip with our family in that big house. pool days and dark nights lit up with lightning bugs. the smell of sunscreen. dew on the grass in the early mornings. skinned knees and dirty feet.
holding on to my boy. running away from time.
 i can keep him small if it's always summer.
let's play in the sun finn, look at our shadows.
you're the wolf. i'm the moon. 
we can be anyone now. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

the white butterfly i saw pressing against the glass when you were born. after 36 hours- anxiety driven and high strung- then all of a sudden there you were. eyes wide open, born face up after 30 minutes of pushing- of screaming- and then you're here. in my arms. and a butterfly is pressing its wings against the hospital window panes.

a new baby and a moment i continue to think about is this: summer time outside our windows- the upstairs in our little house sweltering with heat- a milk breathed baby asleep on my lap and eating an entire bowl of fresh, sweet blueberries. i can still taste them. i can still smell him.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

dear james.

you're working. and you're busy. like you have been the past, i can't count how long it's been. waking up at four am almost every day to get to work way before sunrise to try and catch up on things. sylvie was in our bed the other morning and heard you open the bedroom door to go get ready. "Dad!?" she yelled, her voice tired and raspy. "I have to go to work Syl" you whispered back in the dark.

she wakes up in the morning now and immediately says, "aww, dada workin". She knows you're busy, but she knows she misses you even before she's opened her eyes all the way. i feel the same way. even when you crawl out of bed quietly, without trying to wake me up, i still feel you leaving.

we miss you in the mornings. remember about a month ago you stayed home and told finn you'd take him to school. he made you french toast and insisted you ate it next to him at the table. he looks up to you even when you don't notice. the way you cut your toast with the side of your fork, he watches and absorbs your movements. now he cuts his the same. and the other morning finn insisted he needs to wear a belt like you. we found one in the back of his closet and he then spent ten minutes trying to figure out a way to put it through the loops even though it was sizes too big. he wrapped it around his little waistline almost two times, we were late for school because of it, but he persisted. he wants to be like you.

and then the other morning when he woke up at 6:30 and it was still dark outside, i told him it was freezing in our house and he said he'd make me a fire. he put on a hat and a headlamp and we went outside, me carrying the wood bag, and he picked out the pieces from the pile you guys split the other day and filled up the bag. i carried it inside and he got everything ready just the way you do. putting the fire starter on the bottom. arranging the logs just the way he wanted. when i tried to help he got defensive, "you've never made a fire before, just watch" he told me.

i know there are going to be situations with finn that are going to be tough. we just faced on last weekend. we both felt challenged. we both felt upset. we both felt a little unprepared. he's growing up and becoming more and more his own strong willed, opinionated boy. he provokes us, and holds his ground and can be so uncompromising. but it's also a part of finn that i admire. even if sometimes it makes me crazy, i think him having a stance for what he believes in will be a good thing.

i don't say it enough, but thank you for being the type of man that makes me proud to watch our son emulate. reminds me of a quote i read that said "don't marry a man unless you would be proud to have a son exactly like him."

i'm proud of you.  and our son.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


my baby girl is 16 months on tuesday. 16 months on the fourth of july and i've realized besides her baby book, i haven't written much about her. every day taking videos and photos and trying to remember every little detail about her personality, and her movements, and new lessons learned.

but i need more. i want to remember more. how can i not forget all the details when time moves so fast. i'm going to write as much as i can and quickly as i can before sylvie wakes up and calls for me from her bed, her hair sticking up on the top of her head and sleepy eyes.
sylvie james, you are a joy. you wake up smiling and you fall asleep smiling. last night you sang yourself to sleep while you nursed, which you are still doing fiercely and without any signs of stopping. you look at me and say "nurse. nurse, mama" and you crawl up on my lap and we snuggle together and i'll look in your eyes and ask you questions and you nod or quietly say "mmhmm".
you started walking a couple days after your first birthday. determined to be like your big brother.

brother. you called him that from the start, although now you try and say finn but it comes out as yinn. it's especially funny when you yell it.
finnegan thinks you are the funniest person. we all laugh with you. you crack us up. and you crack yourself up. the other day in the tub you were playing with a little car, pushing it around and you dropped it and yelled "boom!" and started belly laughing. you did it for the next five minutes and each time laughed harder than the last.
you are talking so much. nonstop. you understand everything we say. some of the things you say the most are:
"thank you, mama"

"love you"

"brother. yinn"

"here you go"

"i dunno"


"i have some, mama?"
you love to say everyone's names. you know what all the animals say. body parts. you love elmo and sesame street. you watch and sing along to the songs. clapping your hands and stomping your feet. you love music. if you hear a song a few times you sing it, and you start to sing it on the right beat and the right words.
you love to be outside. any time we have to come inside you cry. you love bike rides, chalk, bubbles, walks, the playground. we had a camp out in the driveway in our pop up. the four of us snuggled up under blankets and sleeping bags. it rained and thunderstormed all night but you slept through it. we all slept in together in the morning and woke up to sunshine and birds singing.
we went to fairport harbor for a week vacation with family and you had so much fun with your cousins. you love the water and are so independent around it. you love the sand and will play on the beach all day.
you love animals. all kinds. every time you see a bird you put her hand over your mouth and gasp. you love dogs. you bark and laugh and say "hi doggy" and wave.
you kiss. you grab our faces with your little hands, look us in the eye, and kiss. whenever you do this to your dad he almost bursts from happiness.
he loves you so much. the bond you two have is so special, and one of the things that makes me most happy in my life.  you and your dad. and you and your brother.
the two of you have been best friends since birth. there was never jealousy, there was never a division, there was never any period of hard adjustment for finnegan with you. i realize how lucky we are and how special that is.
when i was pregnant i told myself that if we were to have a boy i would be so happy. and i really believe that i would have. i prepared myself so much for having a boy that i really started to believe myself. when you were born, and the doctor said she's here, i was so excited and overwhelmed that i had to ask your dad if i was dreaming. i couldn't believe that i had a daughter.

sylvie, i wanted it to be you. i am so happy and lucky to be your mama.


one day i parade about the house, four years old, a bossy, imperious child. full of strong will and tantrums that i've almost outgrown. i'm wearing a blue and white sailor outfit. the sun is shining in through my parents bedroom. august summer, the windows are open and the room is bright. my mom's favorite mary cassatt painting above the bed. my parents come in and tell me to put my legs in front of me. they place in my arms a tiny baby. a six pound, small faced boy. my baby brother. my best friend.

i'm dramatic with him. i pretend he is my baby doll. i hold him in a pink rocking chair with my name painted on the back and pretend to play house while talking on a fake telephone. he's my real life figurine. he's growing and we sit in his crib together. he takes his first steps across our living room floor to me. i'm wearing a pink nightgown when i catch him and take him in both my arms.

one day he comes into my room in middle school and sits on my bed and tells me everything. what is going on in school. who his best friend is. which girl he has a crush on. it becomes a nightly ritual, he comes in my room and talks to me. he opens up to me. years later he comes into my room crying. his best friend is on the phone telling him about his father who just had a heart attack and died. my brother goes into my bathroom and cries. i feel the breath leave my lungs. i want to grab him and run so that we miss everything that is aimed, but i don't, and i let him break the way he needs to.

one day i wake in the middle of a sweltering summer night. i grab my brother and we drag pillow beds into my parents room and sleep on the floor in front of their bed with the window air conditioner blowing on us. we sleep like that the next few nights and when we go back to our rooms days later i still sneak in his room and sleep next to him.

one day i'm sitting at the sunday dinner table and i tell my family i'm pregnant. everybody is shocked. stunned yet thrilled. my brother hugs me in the kitchen and tells me he's so happy. he tells me it's "so awesome" and i feel his sincerity.

i give birth to my son on a hot summer day. my brother is at the hospital with a balloon. he holds my baby and they stare each other in the eyes. years later i'll give birth to my daughter who stares at my baby brother with the same fascination. like she sees more. like she already knows him.

one day my mom comes over. both of my kids are sick with the flu and she's shaking. she tells me my brother is hurt. alcohol and more and how couldn't we have known. i walk into my kitchen and throw a glass. my husband grabs my arm. i'm angry. but i'm mostly sad. he was lying. but now we all know the truth. now we can help. now we can get him back. the way he was before the job at the bar, before his sleep schedule had him in bed all day. before he moves to a bigger, wilder city and my kids only notice him from pictures.

there's debris everywhere. there's a trail of deceit and dishonesty, but there is also peace in the way we prop him up, especially just by being together.

i'm reminded of my son falling and cutting both of his knees on the pavement months before. a week later i'm bathing him in the tub and he notices the cuts have gotten smaller. "i'm healing" he says, "but its not easy, mama".