Tuesday, December 30, 2014

a year in numbers

dear james,
a quick summary of just some of our 2014....

4 summer camping trips. we found our new spot. finn reeled in his first fish alone standing on a rock while the sun set and the sky turned gold. 1 tiny bluegill.

1 trip away from my guys for 4 nights. the longest i'd ever been away from finn. i called him one night when you were rocking him to sleep and i heard his breathing get faster and then he was trying so hard not to cry that he couldn't talk.

1 broken refrigerator.
1 broken sump pump.
1 broken air conditioner.
and 1 nervous breakdown from me. after the fridge broke, which was the last of the three to go, you went to the gas station for bags of ice and i sat on the kitchen floor and cried. finn came into the kitchen and without saying anything sat next to me. you came home and we filled up every cooler we owned with food and kept everything in the garage. later that night we laughed and pretended we were camping, going to the cooler to get milk for finn.

1 vacation trip to the lake with your family. your parents, your grandma gable/gigi, your sister and brothers and their families.  4 rowdy little boys under the age of 5, playing where you played as a little boy. running down the same hill beneath the lighthouse, faster than their little legs ever moved before.

the celebration of gigi's 85th birthday. remember at the end of happy birthday before she blew out her candles she said, "thank you. thank you. thank you. I love you" and i cried.

1 spontaneous trip to cape may with my parents. in that special house right by the water. riding bikes through the little town together, spending days at the beach, finn scared of the ocean and it's waves until the very last day when he grabbed his grammy's hand and took off into the water. we watched from the shore laughing and cheering for him.

1 birthday celebration for our 2 year old, finnegan scott.

1 sinkage of an old boat and 1 delivery of a new boat.

1 new baby girl born into the family. your parent's first granddaughter. we said her sweet little mouth reminds us of finn's.

1 trip to oak orchard, just us. first time we went away for 2 nights leaving finn with our parents. i caught that salmon and couldn't hold her up she weighed so much. you laughed at me when i fell asleep on the boat after drinking whiskey.

1 little boy dressed up as benny from the sandlot. walking around the neighborhood eating his new favorite candy, licorice.

1 hard morning when i called you from work and asked you to come home. you were here ten minutes later. dropping whatever you had on your schedule that day to be with me. later the three of us took a nap together and when i woke up you and finn were lying on your sides facing me. the pain i felt earlier seemed small looking at the two of you.

the 4th new year we'll ring in together. last year finn wasn't feeling well and woke up just when the ball was dropping, sleepy and feverish. we took a picture the three of us. i looked at it earlier and he looked like such a baby still. his hair short and fuzzy and his cheeks rounder. he's grown up so much this year.

this year. a new number. 2015 and i'm ready for it. for good, good days. days with the sun in our eyes fishing on the new boat in the summer, finn up front on my lap and you behind us steering towards the fish. or the breaking of winter and our first camping trip. popping up the camper in the driveway before we leave, airing out the staleness of winter, getting ready for nights in the woods again. the day we celebrate a little boy turning three years old. who knows who he will become by then, our strong, delicious little guy. will he still like ninja turtles and cars? will he still call us j and jane some times when he is trying to make a point; "you can't eat that entire cookie, finn" "come on jane! forget about it" he says now, making us laugh. long sundays when we see our families, when you smoke something on your grill and it turns out just the way you'd imagined it would. new projects and adventures and changes. bike rides at sunset. the cool water of the creeks when the salmon spawn and it's our time to fight for them again. warm fires that fill our entire little house. i'm ready for them all. even the days when something in our house will break and i will cry and curse and feel helpless. and you will stay calm and go get your tools. or ice. or whatever it is we may need to fix it. you make things good. i'm ready for all these days. with you.

happy new year, jbird. xoxo

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


cleaning the basement trying to make room in our little playroom filled with scraps of drawings and paintings. train tracks on the table half built, and cars and trucks dumped out on the floor in a pile, finn standing on his train pretending to save a dog who is trapped in his boat. i organize one bin before finn starts yelling "help, mama! help save the puppy!" and i quit cleaning and pretend to rescue the plastic dog while finn cheers.

writing an email and i hear finn in the living room lining up his guys and saying their names he has given them. "hi flash, are you ready?" he says. "wait for me" he yells as he moves the trash truck to catch up. even when he has himself occupied, and i have a moment to myself, i'm fascinated by his imagination and vision. i spy on him from outside the room, watching his hands and his little legs bent behind his body.

he's done nursing. i went away on a four day trip for training and when i came home i told him that the milk was gone. he asked a couple times after but he was ready. we were ready. but still, moments creep up on the both of us when we think of nursing and i can tell that he misses it. early the other morning he rolled over to me and said "you can't nurse me. i know" and instead i scratched his back and arms, laying in the dark before the sky lightened, the house quiet and warm, our christmas tree lighting up our steps from downstairs.

lately it's been him telling me what his dada is teaching him. while washing his hands he says "dada told me to wash the tops of them first." when going outside, "dada told me to leave my blankie inside so it doesn't get dirty." while eating waffles, "dada told me to cut with my fork like this." it's a new thing, him repeating what he's learned from his dad and i feel a sense of contentment and happiness. i feel so lucky to have the both of them. and i feel lucky that i get to witness their relationship and be a part of it. they have a special bond.

we went on the polar express the other night. a train ride just like the book. a trip to the north pole, hot chocolate and cookies, a visit from santa, a gold train ticket and a silver bell, little friends and cousins singing christmas songs, grandparents smiling for photos, memories to be saved and framed. but the best part of the trip for me, was when they had the kids line up for a parade. i sent finn to the back of the train and watched him as he stood last in line. one by one, each child's name gets called and they walk the train. unsure about what he would do, they called finn's name and he came running out from the back of the train, his arms in front of him moving side to side and his little legs pushing him faster and faster. he was full of pride. i'll never forget his face.

when i thought it couldn't get any better, i looked around for james and saw him standing at the end of the aisle on one side of the train. waving his arms, smiling. "go get dada" i told finn, and he finished the end of the parade running into his dad's arms. giving high fives along the way.

it's christmas. and i'm feeling all kinds of love. for my family. my extended family. my family i was lucky enough to marry into. for my husband. and for my finnegan. and for the ordinary moments that he gives me every day that consume parts of my heart i wasn't sure existed before him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

santa this year

it might be even better now. he's so excited. he understands this year. he knows what's coming because every morning we remove a chain we made with his watercolor scraps i've been saving in the basement. it's easier for him to see that it's coming when he sees the chain getting smaller and smaller.

we were shopping the other day and he saw a watch by the register he wanted. he started asking for it, getting louder and louder. i told him we weren't shopping for ourselves. it's the time when we shop for others. i saw him think for a second and then he changed his voice to sound deeper and said "my name is santa, and I want to give that watch to finnegan" I wanted to laugh and cry.  he ended up getting the five dollar watch.

i love our little house with a tree in the living room. "smell the pine?" finn asked me the other morning.
i thought about when i was five and my mom woke me up in the middle of the night. "lets go look at the tree", she told me and we ran down the steps and laid on the couch in the dark, my mom hugging me, staring at the lit up tree until we fell asleep again. when finn woke up from his nap yesterday i carried him downstairs, closed all the blinds and we laid together on the couch staring at the tree. it's cloudy and gray outside, we haven't seen the sun for weeks, i miss our walks to the playground, and running outside without shoes on, but december has me excited.

at the amish market last week finn noticed a mickey mouse clubhouse canvas painting. he thought it was special until he saw that you push a button and the moon and stars light up in the painting. he lost his mind. he needed it. he wanted it. he yelled and cried for it and i was about to give in and just buy it for him right then. "maybe santa will bring it for you" i said over and over. "no! i'm scared of santa" finn said crying on the way home, his face red and his eyes puffy.

last night, as tradition holds, we had dinner at my brothers and after dinner we heard bells and a knock at the door. in walks santa. last year finn started crying, gripping my shirt tightly- he was going no where near him. this year he smiled and laughed and said "hi santa. merry christmas" santa sat down and i asked finn if he wanted a picture with him. he sat on his lap so still and a little scared, he didn't want to move. we got some photos and when i walked over to him he wrapped his tiny arms around my neck and pressed his face to mine. he had enough.

but before santa left he handed finn a wrapped box. finn smiled and opened carefully to find the mickey mouse light up painting. he was stunned and surprised and still a little nervous. and i wanted to laugh and cry.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Lately it's him wanting to do it all on his own. Playing ping pong he misses the ball and says "see!!" as he tries not to cry. Using scissors he's upset because he doesn't cut fast enough. Riding in the van he wants to be the one driving. When he left the playground on his scooter he pushed harder and went faster. "You're so good at this!! You're so good!" I yelled behind him, running to keep up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

dear James

I'm thinking about that time we went to montana and hiked up that mountain without any water. We got to the top and asked a stranger to take our photo only to realize later they cut off the top of our heads. 

I was two months pregnant with finnegan and we bought little moccasins at a shop on the street without knowing if they would be filled with little boy or little girl feet. Deep down I think we knew he was a boy. But what we didn't know was how he would turn into someone all of his own so quickly. He's such a little character now. Almost a little boy. He says things and the two of us stare at each other wondering where he came up with it. 

When we facetimed you yesterday when you were on your boat fishing in the morning, we got off the phone and finn said "I wish I was with dada. I wish I was fishing with him" and I smiled thinking how happy that will make you when I tell you later. 

You always have a plan. And I never have a plan. And I know that sometimes that makes us frustrated with each other. I come up with things I want to do spontaneously and last minute. I can't keep a calendar straight and I forget when we've made plans with friends. I write down reminders and then lose them only to find them stuck on a bill that is now overdue. You wake up at 6:30 on the weekends with a mental list of things you want to get done. Places you need to go, what you'd like to do for the day. What you need to do. I like to sleep in and wake up slowly. Putting cartoons on for Finn and hugging him for 30 sleepy minutes before we get out of bed. Sometimes your ambition irks me but I always appreciate it. I appreciate your work ethic for our family and home. I appreciate your willingness to get things done at the same time being a father to your son who wants to be with you. He wants to fish with you. He wants you. And you're there. 

And on the weekends, after you've gotten up and cleaned the gutters, went to Home Depot, talked to your brother and sister, all before 9am You come home and always make me a cup of coffee. And somehow you always make it taste better than when I make it. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

what finn says

Finn: this is my restaurant. want some coffee?
Me: yes! What's the name of your restaurant? 
Finn: bullseye 

" I want cereal. I just want cereal so bad"
On choosing dinner 

"You're amazing. I want to stay here forever. "

"This tastes fantastic"
Trying dry pancake batter 

"Guys! I'm late. I brought a beach ball"
Showing up for class 

"Oh. Hi sunshine."
Waking up from a nap 

"I want to see Stella and her cute face. But mama, it's not her birthday"
On baby cousins 

"You have licorice for me?? You're the best."

"I can't drink water. It makes me cough" 

"I got this boogie out of my nose. Aren't you happy!" 

"I'll make you da fire, mama. You lay by it" 

"This soap smells. It makes me sneeze. (Fake sneeze)
Going through the carwash 

Finn: "dada have you seen a tornado?"
Dad: "no I haven't"
Finn: "has mama seen a tornado?"
Dad: "no mama hasn't. Tornadoes don't come around where we live"
Finn: "oh. That's good to know"

"Dada. Gimme a pizza kiss"
Out to dinner 

Sunday, November 2, 2014


when we were camping one time early this summer i youtubed the sandlot when we were sitting around the fire. i showed finn and james the scene where squints jumps off the dive into the deep end to kiss wendy peffercorn. we watched the scene over and over on my phone laughing.
that week i bought finn the movie. the three of us watched and laughed and finn ran around the living room pretending to be benny. "hey smalls! throw to second!" he yelled at me.
from then on if i wasn't mama, i was smalls.
at the grocery store he'd yell "hey smalls! grab the yogurt!" when he woke up in the morning and i'd go get him from his bed he'd say "morning smalls"
he has the best imagination.
for halloween he was benny.  and i was smalls. (and squints)
at the end of the night when we were back home going through the candy james asked finn if he liked halloween.
"i like it way much" finn replied.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

to the oak

back to the spot james took me when we first started dating. we slept in a tent on lake ontario and drove to the river early in the morning while the fog was still burning off and james warmed my hands up with his.

we came back again with our two month old finnegan after our wedding. finn and i watched james pulling up to the dock in the cold and waving to us to come down to see the fish he caught. we laid the fish on the dock and put finn next to them- they were bigger than our baby.

this time we came back just the two of us. excited and a little nervous to leave our son. "it's finn's vacation, too" my dad kept saying. we went on the new boat. we cooked dinner late and drank a lot of beer. we slept in and sat on the porch rocking chairs looking down to the water. we spent most of the time fishing. james catching three or four and i got one. the biggest one i've ever caught. we couldn't stop laughing by the time i reeled her in and then tried holding her.

after my fish i made james get off the boat and we drove to the nearest dive bar by the lake for celebratory whiskey shots and some hoppy IPAs. we laughed at how bad i am at drinking now. feeling tipsy just from two beers. we got back on the water before sunset and trolled down the river closer to our cabin. the sky was getting dark and we were the only ones on the water. i'm thankful for my husbands love of the water, and fishing, and for planning a couple nights for the two of us, in one of his most favorite places. and for reassuring me our boy was perfectly fine when i started getting bits of panic throughout the trip. "relax jane" he'd say smiling. thank you james.

when we got home sunday afternoon finn ran into my arms and wouldn't let go. he was laughing the sweetest little giggle into my neck and when i said i missed you, he replied "i missed you too, mama".

"look grammy! my mama came back" he yelled.

james didn't stop rubbing his little head.

And a happy boy we're home 

Saturday, October 4, 2014


i remember sneaking into my parents room and seeing his books by the side of their bed on my dad's side. i would open one, careful not to lose the page my dad left off on, and i would read his poems quietly. i knew his words were heavy and often times there were things i didn't understand. but it was real and it was alarming and there were swear words and wild stories involving alcohol and women and anger and bitterness, but in the mist of his words there would be a line filled with hope and desire and throughout everything, truth.

my dad would take business trips to nyc when i was in high school and i would almost always go with him. during one trip we were walking around downtown and stumbled on the landmark sunshine theater. they happened to be showing a bukowski documentary that was starting in ten minutes. we went in and i watched with complete awe and suspense. he was so wild. and so sad. and so angry. and so real. and so funny. he was so troubled. but he was a genius. with the grainy black and white film on and my dad next to me in the middle of manhattan, i watched this man and for some reason, felt hopeful.

while pregnant with finn i would read bukowski inbetween the stack of parenting and labor and birthing books i had beside my bed. when i would get tired of reading advice on how to swaddle a baby and the correct way to hold an infant while nursing, i would pick up a bukowski book and read a few poems. the one that i would read over and over and over was bluebird. he would always make me feel better, even if at the time he was feeling much worse.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep.
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be
then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

Friday, October 3, 2014

what finn says

me: i really want to see that movie
finn: and i really wanna see light up balls  

finn: what you up to mama? like..whats up?

me: thank you for helping me clean up
finn: it's not a problem

finn on nursing: babies nurse. and big boys nurse too really. but dada's don't. they have no boobs.

talking to james about driving: you drive your car in the dark. the moon goes with you so you aren't scared.

me: what do you want to be for halloween?
finn: benny. but mama, how you gonna make me taller?

every night when we sit down for dinner and he starts the conversation: soooooooo....how was your day dada?

finn on fog: something burning! that's smoke.
me: no, that's fog.
finn: what's fog? let me call dada. my dada knows everything.

on waking up crabby: i just need pancakes. that will make me feel better.

me:you have some nice scooter tricks, finn.
finn: totally dude.

finn to james: i'm just so happy you're here.

To me and james: i like you guys 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

keaton henson- in the morning

finn fell asleep on me slow dancing in the kitchen to this song. he hasn't done that in a long time. listening on repeat with a heavy toddler dreaming on my shoulder. his body calm and warm.

"I know every mark on your hand"     my most favorite lyric.

Empty pack of cigarettes by the bed
You woke up and looked at me and you said,
"Hey, Keaton, is it morning yet?"
No, we have a couple hours left
And god knows what will happen then

And there may be questions in your head
As a new day is dawning
Like what things for us lie ahead
But woman, I will see you in the morning
And woman, I will see you in the morning

And I know every mark on your hand
Perhaps you'd like me more if I was still in a band
But you know the crowds unsettle me
These days I'd play for free
Baby, please don't look at me
Like that

And there may be questions in your head
As a new day is dawning
Like what things for us lie ahead
And woman, I will see you in the morning
Oh woman, I will see you in the morning
Oh woman, I will see you in the morning


Monday, September 29, 2014


Dear James,
remember towards the end of the night when finn woke up fussy and our reception was happening. we walked inside together and found him in the arms of a family member crying. i took him and he settled and then we put his hat on him and walked outside. we were out front away from everyone and no one knew where we were. we stood there watching, just the three of us.  i saw your grandma dancing. i saw my parents grinning. i saw our brothers and your dad and my uncles by the bar laughing loud. i saw our friends and aunts and uncles and cousins smiling and dancing. i saw the wildflowers we grew in our garden on the tables and my grandmother's vases and jars spread throughout the tent. i saw your sister and her husband singing along to a song. i saw your mom sitting with her mom smiling. it was like we were watching a movie that was made just for us. our closest friends and family celebrating love and friendship and devotion. and we got to watch for a moment from the outside. it was so special.

and i remember thinking to myself, this is over in twenty minutes but i get to go home with these two... and i looked over at you cradling our son against your chest, your hand behind his little two month old head, and i felt so lucky that all of this was mine. ours.

happy second anniversary, james. my best friend, love and favorite person.

"and i'm gonna love you till the wheels come off"  tom waits