Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day of Thanks

B = 9 months, Dad = 7 months
B= 9 months, Dad = 11 months
At Ray's Aunt Ceil's house in Pittsburgh with Ray's cousin Helena. Helena loved B and he loved her!
B's Aunt Samantha, Ray's Aunt Helen, Ray's Cousin Helena, Dillon, B's Gramie Kay
This series of photos is pretty hilarious. It appeared B was taking an interest in the cinnamon stick in Samantha's cider. He had a little taste and this is the picture commentary.
What is that? I kind of want to try that.
Yeah, didn't go over so well, Mom.
And... cue the waterworks.
We had a lot of waterworks on this trip. B is in full-on separation anxiety mode and anyone other than Mom or Dad are not preferred. He also is quite partial to being held all. the. livelong. day. So those panic faces? We saw them frequently.
Giving a wink for the camera.
Should've cropped this picture. B's first Thanksgiving. That bib's been collecting dust since November 2010. Another Andrew hand-me-down that never received any wear. B made sure to take care of that with cranberry sauce, he LOVED.
Table + people
Playing with his 90-year-old great grandfather
B meeting his Aunt Samantha
The next day, we headed out on a quest to eat! Most people don't have the gusto after Thanksgiving dinner, but I most definitely do, being the vegetarian and all. Though, this year was wonderful because our amazing hosts cooked me up some black beans to go with my Thanksgiving sides that were so tasty (and thoughtful!).

We hit up a joint our Chicago friends told us about... Primanti Brothers. We visited the original in the Strip District of Pittsburgh for lunch on Black Friday. Who needs shopping when you've got artery-clogging sandwiches stuffed with french fries?
Clearly, B's happy about our lunch choice.
With Gramie & Grandpa
That coleslaw was off the hook.
After we hit up Primanti Bros., we headed a few blocks over to Shadyside to Prantl's Bakery for a Burnt Almond Torte. We first had this at Andrew's baby shower back in summer 2010. It was a wonderful time and the cake was delicious. It was just as delicious 2.5 years later.
I might have eaten this in the car with my bare hands. Who needs a fork?
The off to Aunt Helen's house to see horses!
B spent the holiday being a crybaby, but when he came around a horse at Ray's Aunt Helen's house getting up close and personal, he wasn't bothered in the least. Go figure.

We had a nice visit at Aunt Helen's house and ate some delicious food! They even sent us home with a local brew that's really tasty! Fellow beer connoisseurs unite. We brought some local Chicago brews to Thanksgiving dinner as well.
Across the country, B's other grandparents were up in Redding, CA visiting my Grandma & Great Grandma. That's right! B has a 97-year old Great-Great Grandma! Picture compliments of my mom. Wish we all didn't live so far. It would've been so nice to celebrate with them, too.
My mom, Great Grandma, Uncle Tim
Isn't she cute? I mean, really.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


We bought a baby gate, and I installed it last night. In the near future, we'll be bolting down furniture and locking cabinets that wee little hands might want to explore. I was thinking of our latest adventures in babyproofing and it became evident that the whole idea of "babyproofing" carries a double-meaning for us loss parents.

The traditional term refers to proofing something as to make it impenetrable by the little creatures that live among us. Keeping them out of the medicine cabinet and such. However, in the babyloss sense, it's just another form of "proof" that there is a baby living and breathing and wreaking {fabulous} havoc in your everyday life. {To} Babyproof being the verb, and baby-proof being a noun. What I would've given two Decembers ago to have the latter for a reason.

When Andrew died, we had way too much baby-proof that there was a baby living in our house, yet obviously the game pulled a switch on us at the last minute and we lost. No proof was needed to rub salt in our wounds of despair. We couldn't rid ourselves of the baby-proof in the form of brightly-colored plastic toys and diaper boxes and baby cradling devices fast enough. And now, we're swimming in them again. We have gobs of proof that a baby lives among us. Our postal men and women (USPS, FedEx, UPS) who visit us often because of my obsession with buying everything from cooking supplies to toilet paper on Amazon comment on the baby in the jumperoo hanging out right by the window that they can see clearly walking up to our front door. It still catches me off-guard when they ask about the baby, because for so long, we didn't have anyone asking questions about our baby.

Who knew I'd overthink something so simple as installing a pressure-mounted gate between our kitchen and the foyer?

Monday, November 26, 2012

9 Months & 9 Days

When I found out I was pregnant with Benjamin, I immediately calculated a few things:
  • When my due date would be
  • Exactly how many days I was pregnant
  • When I'd have my first ultrasound with a (likely) heartbeat
  • How old he would potentially be come Andrew's 2nd birthday
The answer to the last one was 9 months. With this boy.

It seemed like ages away. And yet, here we are. My heart wanted desperately to assume that when Andrew's second birthday came around, I'd have a super mature and old boy that would be close in age so I would mend a fraction of my heart that longed for a boy of that age. But who am I kidding. Calculating the 4 months it took to get pregnant after Andrew and then the miscarriage and then gestating Benjamin until he was barely ripe, it still wouldn't make them close. Even if I birthed Benjamin the day after Andrew was born wouldn't make up for the emptiness my heart will always feel. All I wanted when I sat on that hospital bed as the nurses told me the news that shattered my life was to be pregnant again and press full speed ahead. 

What I really wanted was a do-over. With Andrew, of course. I wanted to rewind a few days to have some epiphany or realization that I needed to be induced and monitored before something fatal happened. Yet, I had no idea and that perfect little story we were writing about being happily married and traveling the world and buying a house and having our first baby and being overall perfect? Who knew we were writing a tragedy.

We have Andrew's brother to be thankful for and that should go without saying. We're thankful for him and frankly, we need him. My heart cannot handle the thought of the title of this post reading "9 Days" without more to the story. And yet, some of my fellow loss mothers still long for the siblings they wish they were mothering by now. At the very least. 

But these next 9 days? Those are Andrew's. Birthday dinner will be had and special dessert will be eaten, all to remember the life of a boy that forever changed ours. The weather at this time of year feels like it's drowning me. The winter air and first snows all remind me of what those fateful end-of-days looked like just two years ago. Seven-hundred some days is a whole lot of days.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I have 5 Minutes

Well, probably 20. Hopefully an hour. We'll see how long he sleeps. Random updates coming at you and maybe a few Instagram pictures because I totally failed to get that up and moving on Friday. I guess I don't like the routine as much as I thought. Maybe those will be sporadic from now on with just pictures I feel like re-posting.
  • As I type this, a sweet little nugget is crib sleeping with the air filter (our white noise) on medium because our floors are being sanded and ground down to apply our first coat of epoxy. By Wednesday, we will have gone from concrete (carpet before our reno) to this:
  • I'm working on a new naptime schedule. I used to nurse B right before naptime and then lay him down all groggy. But, I'd really like him to sleep without the expectation to nurse first. Instead, I now nurse him between naptimes and before bath instead of after. Eventually he'll need to be weaned, but more importantly, I want other people to be able to put him down to sleep without the milk requirement. Still no bottle, and don't even leave pumped milk for others at this point. My pump was shelved long ago as I hate the thing.
  • He has been winking at us lately. It's adorable.
  • We left B with friends for a few hours this Saturday to check out the Chicago Food & Wine Festival. I got freebie tickets from being a Yelp Elite! It was so nice to be on a date with just the two of us, even though it turns out we could've brought the monster. Here's a photo my friend sent me of B eating at his friend's house. Said friend's head is taking up 2/3 of this photo. Love it, Liz. :)
  • Yes, he's a monster. He growls and everything. I'm re-thinking next year's Halloween costume from a dinosaur to a monster. One or the other. He will rock it, especially if he still growls like he has been lately when he's excited. I even had a friend ask if he was okay. Hah. 
  • The army-crawler decided it was PARTY TIME (excellent) at 5 a.m. yesterday, so we all went downstairs and he played well after sunrise and then conked out again. But only for 45 minutes.
  • Speaking of party time, his birthday is already being sort of planned. I have a few ideas (no themes, as I don't usually go for that method). He's being baptized at our house on his actual birthday. There's a lot of symbolism to that and I'll explain in more detail later. The grandparents have already booked their tickets!
  • We're headed to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and get to meet my sister-in-law's boyfriend! She's also meeting Benjamin for the first time. And, important food will be eaten at Primanti Brothers sometime on Friday. Yes, I would please like you to put french fries on my triple-grilled cheese sandwich. Obviously.
  • Before Pittsburgh, we're staying in Cleveland, as it's about a 6.5 hour drive from Chi-town. New city for us! Anyone have recommendations for dinner?
  • We booked another flight. Obviously. Because we can't sit still. And we're probably going to be booking a few more in the next month or so because we have tentative plans to get out of Dodge. Chicago in the winter? Brutal.
  • I was chosen as a mom-blogger (omg) to go to an event downtown next month. I'll blog twice about it with more details. I'm pretty excited and maybe I'll meet some friends? It happens to take place on the identical day of the remembrance ceremony we attended for Andrew last year and planned to attend all years to come. I'm a bit sad, but we can still go hang his ornament on the tree another day. I might try to find another ceremony we can attend.
  • Speaking of ornament... here it is. I also used this photo to represent Andrew on our Christmas card this year. First Christmas card ever, I think? Not the most uplifting card, but whatareyougonnado? It's reality. We wish he were here terrorizing our house like only 2-year old boys do. 
  • "Visit funeral home" is officially on the whiteboard in our laundry room. Not exactly what you'd expect to see next to the grocery list, but we really need to make things right. I hope I can erase that soon. It's just mustering up the emotional energy to do it that will make the 2-mile drive a tough one.
  • My culinary creativity has been sparse lately. Mostly because we've been working on basement stuff (by we, I mean mostly Ray, but that means I spent many days on 100% Benjamin duty.) That leaves little room, or energy to whip up fancy foods. I did manage to make this avocado bean dip. It was... okay. Turns out I prefer my beans and avocado separate. They can be in the same burrito or dip, but preferably not blended. Ingredients were minimal (white beans, avo, EVOO, cayenne, lime, salt). I used it as a high-protein spread for inside quesadillas last night. If eating like that, it was awesome. If as a dip, I'll stick to separate dips. I did use my Blendtec, and the texture was right on.
  • I need to do a deep clean soon. One reason is because the basement floor guys just made a huge mess of dust in our house (I've barricaded us upstairs for the day), and two because Benjamin is managing to find all the other dust and dust bunnies and specs of dirt and everything I have failed to clean since he was born. Exhibit A:
  • Champion eater is still on his game. We're thrilled. My friend Molly has scared me with her Instagram pictures of her daughter not wanting to eat a single vegetable on the planet. I fear toddlerhood. But also crave what I'm missing.
tomatoes, avocado, hummus, lentils.
clean plate club member
  • I feed B an entire scrambled egg (with ketchup, gag) every morning. I know it's on the list of things you shouldn't feed your kid, but we let him try a bite a week ago and he dug it. Off to Trader Joe's I went to buy up a dozen and the kid has been taking them down. It appears no food allergy in sight. I was not too worried as he hasn't had a single poor reaction to anything thus far, or my breastmilk.
  • We bought a bed and mattress for the basement. We also bought this art print to go on the wall covering the breaker box that used to have a random wood door covering it. When we realized the door would no longer fit the breaker because the drywall opening was cut too large, we decided to go for a piece of art to cover the space. $70 later to and $12.50 for a HUGE frame steal at Michael's and we'll have that bad boy covered in no time. Made me think of my design-savvy friend, Alli, who would've totally done something similar to cover up a gaping (but necessary) hole. I'm channeling the inner designer in me, my friend.
  • We love Many Glacier at Glacier National Park. It is our dream to go back and stay at that lodge. Favorite national park, hands down. And from a family of travelers who have seen a whole lotta them, we sort of have good credential on the matter.
  • We Skyped with my parents last night on the iPad and I walked around our entire kitchen island with B crawling to grab the iPad screen. Army crawling still, but he definitely gets around when motivated!
  • We are going to be on the fast track to babyproofing very soon. Any recommendations on easy-to-use gates? I want one I can go in and out of via door (not stepping over) and pressure mounted. Any other recommendations on proofing items to buy or avoid?
  • More pictures to end the post, because I hear the wee one stirring in his baby cage. Off to rescue him for more chewing on every cord he can find exploration!
Hi Mom. Totally proud of my skills.
I spy a little guy...
Hey Ma, pretend like you don't see this, mmmkay?
Baby, turned little boy.
Checking out the flooring guy's truck.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

So Let Me Get This Straight

Now that my son is pseudo-crawling all around the joint (like, right now), I'm going to spend my days chasing him and removing objects I don't want ruined, eaten, or ripped to shreds as he attempts to create some sort of cataclysmic disaster zone?

Like papers and cords (with electricity running through them-- why are they so coveted?) and cell phones and cords. Did I mention cords?

Okay, just checking.

Send Excedrin. And chocolate.

(No, I'm not being literal about the Excedrin or chocolate-- mom and Kay.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Basement Renovation Blues

The basement reno is taking way too many hours out of our lives. While I love the idea of having it finished and being done with it, we're still about a week away from the floors being put down. Which means, there's a whole week left of little stuff we will be doing to it before we're locked out for a solid week. That said, I actually am excited about the little things like making the chalkboard wall and our sunken-in bookcase and finally getting the bedroom in order so we can have guests who get their own bathroom and new mattress and bed set! But, that won't be happening until well after the floors are in place.

But that part where the floors aren't even down yet and the drop ceiling is still being secured to the drywall and the closet lights are still being secured after 432 trips to Ace Hardware for the proper screws? Yeah. That gives me the woes and I want to complain about it a little and how our family time has been so much less these few years months. Clearly, first world problems. I'm aware, which is why I don't expect anyone to feel sorry for us. So, I thought I'd share some of my pick-me-ups for my little pity-party, compliments of Pinterest, obviously.

Hope you enjoy a few of these. If you're following me on the addiction, you'll surely have seen these. C'est la vie. Also, I have a rule against pinning if they cannot use the proper homophone. But otherwise, punctuation doesn't really bother me all that much.

These last two might be my favorite. Excuse this baby's potty mouth.

downright hilarious.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Train for Sale + Insta-Friday + Video

Remember this post where I detailed the story of standing in line on Thanksgiving night at 9 months pregnant with Andrew? The one where we bought him his first Thomas the Train starter set?

Yeah, so we decided it makes us too sad to keep that around and someone's coming by this afternoon. We have nothing against trains themselves, and as a matter of fact, Benjamin's first Christmas ornament was purchased in Germany and it's a little locomotive. We're cool with him having train things and even a train... just not the one we bought for Andrew.

We've decided to encourage and invest in Lego instead.

Moving on to Insta-Friday after that little uplifting update.

Sweet Chili Pistachios. New favorite.
Broccoli stalk must have worked because this baby now has four teeth!
Dinner Thursday night: vegetarian & meat cabbage rolls. I added parmesan to the top as well.
Also read: leftovers = dinner tonight
As soon as B showed signs of a cold, I bought this bad boy along with 20 extra filters on Amazon. Took FO-EVA to get here, but now that it's here, we're one happy, snot-sucking family.
And finally... B getting on all-fours and totally angry about the whole ordeal. His motivation was the laptop cord. He sort of has a love affair with it. For Christmas, send laptop cords. Thanks.