Monday, June 30, 2014

add water and light

"you see, the green tomatoes will become red and that's when we pick them off the vine" james says to finn and finn listens closely.
"look over there, the pepper is starting to grow, see how long and green it is, growing down towards the ground? we'll pick those soon, too."
before they start to water the sky turns grey and the clouds roll in. the thunder starts and finn keeps reminding himself not to be scared "thunder can't hurt you. it's just loud" he says. 
we stand in the garage and watch the drops on the driveway. big, heavy drops that start slowly and then come crashing down quickly.
we move inside and watch from the window.
"the flowers and vegetables are drinking the water" i tell finn and he shakes his head in agreement.
"they aren't scared of thunder either" he says softly.
after the rain the sky turns pink, and purple and gold and orange and we spend the evening jumping in puddles until the lightening bugs come out and finn chases them around the yard laughing.

Friday, June 27, 2014

thanks, lou

when your almost two year old is feeling a little under-the-weather and you're trying really hard to be a patient mom and your husband has been out of town for work for the last four days and you haven't had much time to yourself and you are trying to make dinner and that little two year old throws himself onto the floor of your kitchen without reasoning or rationalizing and begins to cry and kick his feet..what do you do?

try to talk to him?

he starts crying harder. 

try and pick him up?

his body goes limp.

pretend to walk out the door?

you feel guilty and turn around. 

then it hits you-  music. 

music to calm him, music to distract him, music to remind him of our love and our trust. music to make us better. 

you fumble with the task of juggling your ipod and the almost 30 pound toddler in your arms until you find the right song. and then you hear it. those first breezy guitar chords and the gentle and creamy voice that is lou reed's..

"pa, pa papapa pa, pa pa papapa pa"

your two year old is doing that hiccup breathing thing now, the ones that come after a really good cry and you're trying hard to calm your body from the shock of your wailing and sobbing and he has a little bit of a sweat on his forehead you're wiping off slowly...

"I found a reason to keep living
Oh and the reason, dear, is you
I found a reason to keep singing
Oh and the reason, dear, is you"

your two year old is calming a little. he has his arms around your neck now, his little wrists by your ears. those little wrists you hold when he's watching a show early in the morning. how can wrists be so little, you always wonder with delight.

"Honey, I found a reason to keep living
And you know the reason, dear it's you
And I've walked down life's lonely highways
Hand in hand with myself
And I realized how many paths have crossed between us"

your two year old's head is on your shoulder now. but not facing outward looking around the kitchen, he's facing inward. he has his cheek nestled in the base of your neck, his hot cupcake breath on your skin. your arms are growing tired but you keep swaying, just keep moving to lou's optimism and 

"Oh I do believe
You're all what you perceive
What come is better that what came before"

he's got his tiny legs wrapped around your belly. he's tucked his arms inside your arms now and he's relaxed and still. he's daydreaming, lost himself in song and looks up at you every so often as if to check that you're still there. you're still the one who is holding him and he isn't floating away even if he feels like it. 

"And you'd better come, come come, come to me
Come come, come to me"

he's smiling now and he's trying to sing along with lou and you, humming the sweetest hums. you put him down when the song ends and he hugs your legs. as if to say he was sorry for losing his cool and temper, as if to say he didn't mean to and it's been a long day and you both miss his dad, and he is only almost two, after all. as if to say thanks. 

he leaves the kitchen and you play the song again. dancing with just lou this time. 

"what comes is better then what came before…"

on motherhood

"the hardest part about being a mom? the heaviness of it all. life was much lighter when i didn't have to worry about another person so intimately. the best part about being a mom? the heaviness of it all. life is so much better knowing that i get to have the most intimate of connections that humans are capable of having. that goes for my relationship with my husband as well as with my son. my husband and i have grown so much throughout this process- everything else seems so trivial in comparison" -rachelle hruska

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

dear james

dear james,

i have a surprise for you when you get home from your business trip. it's a simple surprise that i know not a lot of people would notice, but i know that you will. you notice small, simple things about our house, about our yard and our garden. you care about how high the grass is and about pruning the bushes and the trees. you went to school for just that, after all. had a landscape business for a few years, driving those trucks with the big trailers on the back filled with all the dirty equipment. although i imagine your equipment was never that dirty, washing your tools after you used them. not because you are anal or picky but because you know the importance of taking care of your things. a value i hope we instill in finnegan.

james, you should have seen him today. he misses you. I can tell. he was full of such spunk and will power. we had class this morning and he wasn't up for it. he got up and walked to the door saying "I'm not being nice" under his breath with a sad look on his face. it made me sad too because that's the last thing i want finnegan to say about himself. sometimes we all have those moments, i know.

i've been thinking about one of those moments i had on monday evening. right before you were leaving for your trip. i've done this before and i shamefully did it again. i regret not hugging you properly before you left. i wrapped my arms around you but not tight enough. I kissed you but not with enough substance. i always feel sad and upset when you're leaving. i sigh a little deeper and drag my feet across our hard wood floors hours before your good bye. while you are packing i'm trying to convince you not to leave, "we can run away and you can become a fishing guide. don't go". all the while you are trying really hard to keep a positive outlook. "it's six short days" you remind me. later you admit that the week does seem long to you, too.

in truth i know that we are lucky that you leaving for a week of work makes us sad and a bit unglued rather than thankful for some alone time. we don't want to be alone. and when it was storming last night and i opened the windows and the breeze was coming in our tiny bedroom and i had the candle on my nightstand lit and I watched the sassafrass branches outside swaying in the wind, I really didn't want to be alone. i thought of you and wished you were next to me listening. i know how much you love sleeping in storms. nights seem long and wide without you.

so i want to say i'm sorry for acting like a six year old pouting. and i want to say thank you. and i want to say that if you were here right now i would give you a legitimate squeeze, the ones that make it hard to let go. the same type of hug we had seconds after we were pronounced husband and wife. how long was that hug? i can call to mind your hands in my hair and my arms wrapped tightly around you, my fingers digging into your shoulders, and your breath in my ear. but what about everything else? were we like that for seconds? for a minute? were my eyes closed or open? was your grandma smiling through a little tear? was our then two-month old finnegan in the arms of a family member, bundled up in his blanket, asleep? i can't recall.

all i can remember are my legs shaking a little with nerves, the excitement and wonder of getting to be named your wife. and the earthiness of your scent...heat, soft soap and a new suit.

Monday, June 23, 2014

happy summer

welcome summer. my favorite season. we spent last night at the st.charles festival. the festival you attend when you're in middle school and it's the start of the summer and you know your crush is going to be there and you have a new tan and a new outfit and you show up with your pack of girlfriends and there he is- standing beneath the lit up french fry stand and you feel those butterflies and those feelings that only your first crush and summertime combined can bring. Wasn't I just there? wasn't that just me?

it was like that last night but 15 years later and I'm walking in with my husband and toddler and the most exciting butterflies come back but this time it's caused from the feeling of what your son is about to experience. his eyes open wide at the lights, the people, the kids running around with those oversized stuffed bulldogs that will end up collecting dust in the corner of their room. then he sees it. finn sees the carousel from out of the corner of his eye and when I put him down he grabs my hand and starts to sprint. we're running in and out of the crowds, dodging people and strollers and teenagers and we're laughing and I don't think Finn could move his feet any faster. we're really laughing now and he's saying "yes yes!" and we make it to the gate before the ride starts and he picks out his favorite horse and holds on and I hold on to him. it's still humid out and the wind from the ride blows our hair back. we wave to James trying to snap a photo and when the ride stops I expect Finn to get upset but he just pulls my hand with excitement towards a new ride. a train that I can't fit on. he nods with a little hesitation when asked if he wants to ride alone, but when it's time to get on he walks right up and I buckle him in. off he goes. I watch him and think he looks like such a big boy. he's not a baby. the ride ends and the fireworks start. the first fireworks finn will see. he smiles at the first two big booms and sparkles of light but on the third he starts to cry. "No more fireworks!" He says, crying harder now. On the walk back to the car Finn keeps his head burrowed in James' shoulder, peeking up when it gets quiet and then putting his face down when the firework explodes. by the time we reach the car and put him in his seat the fireworks are in the distance lighting up the sky, the booms muffled by the comfort of the car window. Finn has calmed down now and he's watching with big sleepy eyes and I think,  "yes, he's still my baby" and feel a blend of relief and comfort.  

Saturday, June 21, 2014

video for my boys

I made this video for James on valentine's day. Made from small video clips I took on my phone. Sometimes the best part about having a husband and son is the chance to step back and watch the two of them interact together.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

he's doing it

finn has to do things by himself now. he's found a new independence and he's trying and testing his boundaries and limits and he's realizing he's taller now, he's stronger, he's smarter. i pick him up in the morning to walk down the steps and he starts kicking his feet, "no mama. i go down by myself." so i put him down and one by one we walk down those creaking wooden steps. carefully and slowly. he's holding my hand and the railing. he's smiling and laughing and saying "i'm walking mama! i'm not falling!" and when we reach the bottom he's says proudly, "i did it!" and he grabs his toy cars and starts to play. 

when we're running ten minutes late, and i'm rushing to grab the diaper bag, and the sunscreen, and his hat, and extra clothes, and snacks, and everything else you need to leave the house for a summer day and i put him in his seat and i'm hurrying with his straps he grabs my hands and stops me in the best way. he slows me down without realizing he's helping me. who cares if we're ten minutes late. my son is learning. "let me do by myself" he says and stares at his buckles with concentration and determination and he slides them into each other and hears a click. "I did it, mama!"

when we get to the park and we're ready to walk the trails and james has his backpack finn rides in and finn starts crying and says that he doesn't want in. he wants to walk. he has to walk. and then we look and he's walking down the trail without us. stopping to pick up every rock. and every stick. and taking them to the creek and throwing them in. "The stick floats, mama. The rock sinks, mama" and we're all sitting on the bank of the creek and the water is muddy from the storms and we notice a beaver built it's home under the roots of a fallen tree in the water. 

finn picks up rock after rock and throws them into the water. "That was your best throw yet" I say to him when he throws a stone that makes it clear into the middle of the creek. "no, no, this is gonna be my best" and he throws one that goes even further than the last. "I did it, mama! all by myself."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

now that i am forever with child

Now That I Am Forever With Child

By Audre Lorde

How the days went
while you were blooming within me
I remember each upon each---
the swelling changed planes of my body
and how you first fluttered, then jumped
and I thought it was my heart.

How the days wound down
and the turning of winter
I recall, with you growing heavy
against the wind. I thought
now her hands
are formed, and her hair
has started to curl
now her teeth are done
now she sneezes.
Then the seed opened
I bore you one morning just before spring
My head rang like a fiery piston
my legs were towers between which
A new world was passing
Since then
I can only distinguish
one thread within running hours
You, flowing through selves
toward You.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

happy father's day

 “The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.” —tim russert

happy father's day to the dads.

 to my dad. the biggest supporter. the best guy. who always provides for his family and puts us first. who loves his wife, his fireplace, his kids and his dog. who makes me laugh daily with his wit and humor. who shares the same love of good writers, short stories and charles bukowski. who taught me that nothing can get done without preserverance and a good business plan. i love you, dad.

to my father-in-law. the man who raised my husband. the man who will help you move into your house, clean your gutters, build his grandsons a sandbox, and then sit down with you and drink a perfect IPA. the sweetest pa who gives the best squeezes. the man who looked me in the eyes at my wedding reception and said he loved me and said i was a great mom. the best compliment i could receive. i love you, pa.

to my husband. the father of our finnegan. who comes home from working 11 hour days and starts playing with his son. who is gentle and calm with his words to finn, knowing they have power over our little boy- knowing that finn is always watching him, trying to be like him. my greatest wish is for our son to be the type of man you are. someone who you want to be around. someone you can trust. someone who does what he says all the time. who is full of adventure and tricks and tells the best stories. i love you, james.

Friday, June 13, 2014

cape may

we just got back from a trip to cape may. last minute we packed up the car and headed to the ocean. the first time finn would feel sand on his feet and see the waves. he was unsure of the water at first. getting close and then running away with the sweetest look on his face. for three days he kept a careful watch on the water when he was playing. every time a wave got close to his sand castle he stepped back a few inches with a concerned look on his face. on the last day finn was playing baseball by the water with grammy when he grabbed her hand and ran right into the waves laughing. the two of them splashed on the shore, running in and out of waves, his little feet moving so quickly, both of them with huge smiles on their face screaming and laughing. "i'm not afraid, mama!" he yelled to me. "i'm not afraid!"

james woke up at five every morning and headed to the beach. he had talked about catching a striper with excitement in his voice in bed the night before. early the next morning, he caught him. he held him. took a picture with him. and put him back in the ocean where james said he belongs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

nursing my toddler

It's one thirty in the afternoon and I'm nursing my toddler to sleep for his afternoon nap. Around 9 o'clock this evening he'll crawl up into my lap and snuggle in the same position we've been using for the past 22 months and nurse himself to sleep again for the night. When he wakes up in the morning and stands up in his crib and yells with warm, raspy lungs "mamaaaa" the first thing he'll say after good morning is "nurse in mama's bed?" and that's what we'll do. 

I remember telling my mom when my son Finn was born, "you can't get mad at me if I don't nurse him as long as you nursed us". A mom who nursed my brothers and me well into our toddler years. She laughed and said we'll nurse however long we want. And now here I am nursing my almost two year old. 

I look at his body on my lap now. His legs stretching way across my stomach and hanging down to the floor. His long arms crossed in front of him hugging his blanket. His head with his hair that is getting longer and blonder every day. His hair that I said I am never cutting. Let it grow! Let him grow! Just not too fast.

I mentioned nursing Finn the other day when I was getting my hair done and I saw surprised looks from the women in the salon. "Isn't he one?!" A woman said with astonishment. "Actually, he's almost two" I responded. 

The truth is, nursing has always been good to us. It's been the sanctuary in crowded rooms when Finn gets overwhelmed or tired and needs to take a break. It's been the savior of meltdowns and tantrums. It's been the best band aid when he falls or bumps his head and wants love just from his mama. It's been the best travel companion, nursing Finn to sleep on planes, on boats, on long car rides. Those car rides when I strain my neck and body and twist myself over his car seat so he can reach and nurse until he drifts to sleep. It has been those special bonding moments between him and I, him staring up at me with those big blue eyes. I talk to him and tell him stories and he watches and really, really listens. He has never had a pacifier. He has never had a binky or a bottle. He has just nursed. 

And sometimes, I think,  it can be as simple as that if you let it. When you're pregnant you receive all kinds of advice whether you asked for it or not. One moment I remember was a mom who talked to me about nursing. "Don't make it harder than it needs to be. The moms who stress about their milk and their pumping and their bodies have the hardest time. It's the most beautiful time- go into it with ease". Nursing Finn those first couple months during the challenges and adjustments I tried to keep those words in mind. I nursed him when he was hungry. I pumped when I needed to pump. Somedays it felt like all we did was nurse. All day long. But throughout it all- I tried to stay calm. And I think Finn felt that. 

The other Saturday Finn woke up and James went and got him. He was so distracted and happy dad was home he wanted to go downstairs and start playing. I was waiting in bed for him to come crawl up on my lap and nurse. Our morning ritual where I look into his eyes and rub his little feet before we get up and start moving through the day. 

I thought to myself, "this is how it will be one day when Finn stops nursing for good". Because one day there will be that last time he nurses. Will it be in the morning? Or maybe late at night? Whenever he decides to stop I know it will be the right time for us. I'll know that nursing Finn for this long was what worked for our family. It's what made me ache with happiness. It's what made me feel like I was keeping my son safe, and warm, and close to my heart. It's what gave me the memories of a newborn asleep in my arms, milk breathed and happy, dreaming on my lap. These memories will remind me of a time when my son needed me and just me. A time when once, I was delicious.

Monday, June 2, 2014


"let your child be your north star. if i tried to follow other people's advice, it just wouldn't necessarily fit in with our life and our way of living, and then i'd end up feeling like i'm not doing it right, which just isn't empowering as a mother"

Dear James

Dear James
Finn came into our bed around six and nursed and then rolled over and said "I go to sleep" and an hour later that's what he's still doing.

You're at work already and I'm here thinking about our weekend. Packing up the van and going to aunt sis's house on the lake where you lived for a couple years. You tell me stories about your life at that time and I picture you working landscape and living in that little cabin in the woods that now have been cut down and turned into a trucking parking lot.

We had so much fun this weekend. Spending the night in the camper. Finn came into our bed around 3am and I got to snuggle him in my sleeping bag while we heard the trains going by in the distance. Around five am when the birds started chirping I thought Finn was definitely going to wake up but he slept so soundly. When he woke up I unzipped the window and showed him how we slept outside and he looked so content and happy and the back of his hair was a little bit curly from the sleeping bag and I felt so excited because it was the start of my favorite season.

You were so excited to take us to presque isle for a boat ride. Finn was so excited and made sure he had his fishing rod. I wasn't sure how long we would make it on the boat- would he get bored or anxious? As soon as you turned the motor on and we started moving he became relaxed and still. So peaceful from the boats humming and the waves and the lake breeze. He fell asleep. I couldn't believe it. He slept for over an hour with the boat rocking him. I felt so excited.

After, we took Finn to the beach and he threw rocks and built sandcastles and we walked down the lake, Finn on your shoulders and me rubbing his back, and you surprised Finn with an ice cream sandwich from the little concession stand. We played baseball the three of us on the beach. Finn assigning us different characters "you be Benny, mama" "you be smalls, dada" "smalls throw to second!" From his favorite movie The Sandlot. His imagination is getting stronger every day. Playing with him is my favorite.

You took Finn down to the lake to show him how you skip rocks. The two of you stayed down there and he watched you and laughed at you and tried to impersonate you. I thought about how lucky we are to have you. I thought about how great of a dad you are. I thought about the adventures we can take this summer.  I felt so excited.

This weekend made me so happy. You make me so happy, jbird. You make me so excited. 

snoozin on the boat

the ice cream sandwich finn talked about the rest of the day. and night. he kissed james goodnight and said "thank you for my ice cream, dada. thank you for my ice cream"