Friday, September 21, 2012


We have a nice mix here of kitchen and bebe. Some of my favorite things, of course.
Friday evening cocktails. Love me some mojitos. Totally cooked up some simple syrup as well. I may or may not have used said simple syrup leftovers in B's sippy cup and on the straw to convince him sippy cups are not made by lucifer. He agreed for a bit (hello sugar high!) but decided lucifer made them again now. Sighhhh.
No words necessary.
People. I have been making my own breads and doughs and pizza fresh for awhile now, but this recipe NAILED it better than any I've ever used before for pizza crust. It makes two very hearty pizzas or possibly 3 thin crust pizzas (but who makes those? They're so hard to work with!) I've never received so many compliments from the husband on how it tasted professionally made. I made my own pseudo sauce by using tomato sauce/crushed tomatoes and this Italian seasoning. Topped with pineapple and Italian sausage. Rocked it.
That's a full-sized suitcase. I know it looks like a carry-on, but it's not. My wee little chunk eats like a tank now and is getting quite tall. Also, don't be a hater on his socks over his pants that look like boots. My Instagram peeps already dished up a caseload of shaming comments about my questionable parenting decisions that may land me on a version of baby fashion police.
I will come, Mama. Apologies ahead of time, fellow airplane seatmates.
Fall in Chi-town has arrived. Favorite season but wasn't quite ready to turn on the heater yet! Boo.
Chili on a cool-ish fall day. And hey, why not add a little beer for good measure? 
My new mandoline has arrived from Amazon and changed my life.
Shoestring red potatoes for homemade chili fries? Topped with Tillamook cheddar? I mean... yes.
Someone call the baby fashion police.
My kid better not be the one wearing sweat pants in high school.
We'll miss Insta-Friday next week, but I intend to have plenty of photos from Deutschland to share when we return!

Bis später!
life rearranged

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: Daring Greatly

A book that's not about history or fiction that allows me to escape my life? One that actually requires I work from within to understand others and myself and not be the hermit crab I refer to myself as? I need a book like this in my life. While I believe it was incredibly well written, I had a difficult time reading as I was convicted on so many levels of not Daring Greatly enough in my life.

Brene Brown is a highly regarded and well-read author and researcher. I was driven to read this because in my nearly 2-year stand after losing Andrew, I wanted to check my life against others in terms of being vulnerable, feeling worthy, and living wholeheartedly. That's essentially what this book's all about. It's about how we all could us a little maintenance in the way we live.

I learned something from every chapter, but the parenting chapter really hit home. I especially appreciated the discussion about wholehearted parenting and how she addresses the shaming nature of parenting debates on divisive issues like co-sleeping, feeding, birthing, vaccinations, etc. She addressed that parents can be the worst at shaming one another using inadvertent name-calling, put-downs, and bullying. She highlights that parents can't claim to care about the welfare of children if you're shaming other parents for the choices they're making. If we feel good about our own choices, we feel no need to judge and attack. She writes, "I think the key is remembering that when other parents make different choices than we're making, it's not necessarily criticism. Daring greatly means finding our own path and respecting what that search looks like for other folks." Kelle Hampton also talked a bit about this in one of her recent rockstar blog posts. I concur.

Brene nixes perfectionism and the ideal that we should be what society demands that is essentially unattainable. There are plenty of moments in this book that I flagged because they were just so relevant to being a loss mom. All in all, I was telling my husband that while I enjoyed this book, it's hard to read. I was staring at my imperfections on each and every page, but in a positive way that was not offensive. Maybe that's why I don't go to therapy. I can't handle the truth. It's a transformative book that was worth the read. I'll leave you with a short excerpt from the book (there are lots and I loved them!) that relates quite well to loss and living that really hit home with me.

A man in his sixties told me, "I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn't happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, expecting the worst didn't prepare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all of those wonderful moments we shared and that I didn't fully enjoy. My commitment to her is to fully enjoy every moment now. I just wish she was here, now that I know how to do that."

Powerful, huh?

I received a free book and was compensated for this BlogHer Club book review, but all opinions expressed are my own. If you'd like to check out discussions on BlogHer about the book, go here. I'll be discussing there. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Because Family Lives TOO Far Away...

The B-man is changing everyday, folks. It's crazy all of the new mischievous looks and expressions coming out of this little body that is our son. I have a feeling when he's mobile, we are going to be two very tired parents.

Bring it.
The cute factor is off the charts on this one.
This one's only really good the first 26 seconds, but I laugh every time.
And this one is solely for my parents. The creepster bear plays peek-a-boo and B is just starting to become entertained by it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grief Revisited

The calendar pages are thinning out again. We're closer to him.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't easier anticipating his birthday this year than it was last year. There's just something so definite about 1 year. It seems so monumental in so many ways, including personal relationships. At the 1 year point, things always started to get real. We were engaged just weeks after our first year of dating was up. Now that he's nearing the age where babies aren't referred to in terms of months but in terms of years, it feels different. But it doesn't change that he's gone. Or how much we crave to have him here, in our arms to hug, love and watch grow.

But two years? I'm not as anxious, and maybe Benjamin is in part to thank for that, but I guess I just don't know what to think anymore. We had a long talk the other night about Andrew and how we're dealing. It's not that this is a closed chapter of our lives. We'll forever be damaged and changed. We talked about how we're just worse people for losing him. That it caused us to be more guarded and scared. That we're more angry and still question why our family was crushed.

The jealousy is still harbored when we pass another family with two beautiful children in tow. When we learn of a firstborn being welcomed into someone's home. When a two-year-old boy is in our presence.

I told my husband the other night that I'm glad we're still broken. That I hope we're always broken and lack acceptance when it comes to losing Andrew. I don't want to accept that our son had to tragically die when he was supposed to be welcomed into our home at any moment. I don't want to accept that we'll forever memorialize him and speak to his sibling(s) in past tense, because they will never have a chance to meet him face-to-face. I'm sad for us, but I'm immeasurably sad for them.

We sat last week in our formal living room that doesn't have a whole lot of living in it at all. It's where Andrew's urn is and all of our tangible memories we display of him. It's also where we keep the photobook of his entire life, all in about 40 pages. It displays pictures of my entire pregnancy and how excited we were to be growing a son. Our son. Our firstborn. And now? It's so difficult to see those photos of our smug, innocent, naive selves; so difficult that we skip straight to the back for pictures of him. Just reliving the pregnancy in pictures, though wonderful as it was, makes me weak in the knees. I become nervous, sad, and angry when I see us in that state. It's like were were a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. Every single picture framed in our home aside from the few of Benjamin were from before we became the people we are today. We were happily hopeful and lived in the world where babies didn't die. I'm jealous and frustrated looking at all of those photos. Seeing blog posts from our former selves is just so hard for me to read, because I was different and... better.

We talked through our tears about how the greater part of our lives will be lived in this broken state and world where babies and innocent people die terrible, horrible, and unfortunate deaths and it's just sad. Sure, there's beauty and will always be beauty, but it's always going to be less beautiful and less good. And that sucks. There's just no way around it.

My husband used to work for a company in LA that handled all the back-end work for professional photographers. He met some incredibly talented people there. It's LA, after all... but when you pair up photography with hip individuals and young, free spirits, you get a pretty nice mix of people. One of those amazing people shot our wedding.

In our broken state on December 5th of 2010, an equally talented and selfless person stepped into our newly broken lives and took photos of our deceased son for us as a volunteer for NILMDTS. He didn't have to come into such a vulnerable situation, find parking at a hospital in the middle of the night and meet our dead son and his broken parents. But he did. Those photos are absolutely the most valuable we have and we cherish them. This week, Ray wrote a note on the forums of his former photography company to thank and encourage those photographers who volunteer their time and resources (and emotions!) to do such good for families like us. We know it's not exactly easy. As we approach the two year mark, Ray decided to reach out again in admiration for those who humble themselves to do such remarkable deeds. They deserve all the recognition; it's because of them that we have photos of our firstborn and those just cannot be more important to us. As Ray wrote in his letter, ..."because of you, {Benjamin} will get to "meet" his older brother through the most beautiful photos..."

If you're a volunteering photographer reading this, we thank you. So many of us loss families just cannot even begin to thank you enough.

Today we prepare for a playdate at our home with some families in our area that we've grown to consider as part of our own family. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the beer is cold, the new toys are ready, our second son is growing and learning, and we're thankful. In a good, but not ever as good as it could have been way, like it was before our worlds changed. We miss you Andrew. We miss who you were, would be now, and would be tomorrow. We miss all of the memories we'll never get to create with you. It doesn't have to be the 5th or your birthday for us to think of you or mutter those words. We think them every single day we live.

Friday, September 14, 2012


4 hot, cooked chicken breasts + KitchenAid Mixer + 30 seconds using paddle = shredded. Caroline was right. This works! Not having to shred chicken by hand anymore makes this vegetarian very happy.
This is the picture of a Navy Pier. From a Boat. In the Lake Michigan Harbor. With a sad mama behind the camera taking a photo because she left her sweet boy with his first babysitter ever! He did well... but man was that hard!
Thanks for the Carrots, Canadians. They were delicious.
And Alli, you're welcome for peeling and cutting approximately 350 carrots for your housewarming party. Hah.
Hello resale shopping! Where else could I find this retro dress vest for $3? I mean... can you say awesome?
And in about 12 months, it will totally fit him.
That breastmilk ended up down the drain because the little chunk is picky about how he gets his milk. He thinks bottles, or sippy cups, or straws, or anything is for babies. And apparently he isn't one of them.
Hi! I slept 12 hours straight and then the next night? I didn't! I'm so unpredictable! Chilling on a bench while mama's ride has tires worked on at the dealership after library storytime. Oh, the excitement.
Dad fed me some hamburger meat. Mom threw up a little in her mouth.
Also, these people took me to get a flu shot. How dare they!
Don't they see my Dodger gear? #thuglife
life rearranged

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Happenings

I talked with my sister-in-law the other day and she requested videos. And videos she'll get! B also had his first babysitter this past weekend that was there when he awoke from his nap, fed him dinner, bathed him, and put him down for the night! Seven hours we were away from our little munchkin. The two days prior to our leaving him, he attended two fancy business dinners. This particular night was out on a dinner boat cruise off Navy Pier in Chicago and B just wasn't invited. And it wasn't optional for us not to attend. And honestly, we did have a great time. It helped that every single person I talked with asked about Benjamin and how I was doing leaving him for the first time. It did help pass the time... and before we knew it, we were back home peering into his crib with just the light from my iPhone illuminating his bedroom.

To say I lost sleep over leaving him is an understatement. I may or may not have typed up sub plans and reduced the margins to .4 inch so I wouldn't seem like a crazy mother with multiple pages of notes. As a teacher, I was totally the one to type up 4-page detailed notes for all my subs. As a mother, I'm clearly no different. And perhaps being a baby loss mother makes it all that much harder. When everyone I talked with told me things like we all survived, and eventually you'll have to leave him anyway, I obviously felt a bit one-sided in my arguments, so therefore I just didn't speak about it. Losing Andrew just plain changed everything.

This is the photo my friend sent me of B looking at her like, You are soooo not my mama. 
I received a few text messages throughout the night, but mostly good. The main text was telling me he seemed hungry and wondered if he should be fed early. Translation: he is inconsolable and crying. When all else fails, feed the kid. And feed she did. The tank ate... get this... a whole banana, a packet of HappyBaby Organic pears and 1/3 cup oatmeal. Seriously. The tank. But not a drop of breastmilk. Why? Because the kid refuses any bottle or sippy cup. So two cups of hard earned pumped milk went down the drain yesterday. Sacrifice.

Now for the videos. For my sister-in-law... and anyone else.

This was just yesterday. Eating spaghetti with chunky tomatoes and onions (that's right grandparents!).
This was today. B is getting better and better about sitting up. We think he'll be a pro by the end of the month. That toy has a story... I'll explain that in about a week.
This was back in August, but I appreciate how B just manhandles his jumperoo toys like it's no big thing. Easy button.
Today as well. I had just fed him lunch and he was hanging in the highchair being adorable.

I would be remiss not to honor those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 in this post... 11 years to the day of the horror that rocked our Nation. To those families 11 years apart from their loved ones, I honor you too. Because losing someone you love and living on might be just as courageous as losing one's own life. Peace to all.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Wilsons Explore Beantown

With less than a week before our trip, we found out that we were headed to Boston! Ray had a work gig to handle and of course that meant I would get to visit a city I'd never been to and have always wanted to visit!

Benjamin is one hooked up kid. Too bad he won't remember a thing.
7th and 8th plane rides for the B-man
Cheers! We're in Boston!
Pho for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant

Dad was working, so B and I went to see the swan boats at the Boston Common just a couple blocks from our hotel. You can tell, he's thrilled. Also spotted: a man petting a squirrel (not pictured). Gross, gross, gross.

I walked all over Boston to find a falafel joint I read about on Yelp. It was a HOLE. But decent. B and I sat in the park and had lunch. He preferred laying across my legs to get a view of the guy next to me. This kid will stare. you. down.
Hey look! A bacteria & pee infested hole free kiddie pool in the middle of the park!
State House
Paul Revere himself rests in the center of the city at the Granary Burial Ground.
My former self totally wouldn't have taken photos of gravestones. I would've thought it was disrespectful or eerie. Except now they have a whole new meaning to me. Someone loved these people. Some of the oldest gravestones in our Nation's history. Notice the Gothic, skeletal elements.
Paul Revere's house - North Side, Boston. Dad joined us for dinner and we walked to get some Italian food.
B-man tried his first Italian soda. Bad parents, happy baby.
Oh the hype. This joint has like 1,600 reviews on Yelp and a line stretching around the block. We waited in the cattle line. And what a disappointment it was. I already knew I didn't like cannolis... and whatdoyaknow. I still didn't like them after hitting up this joint. $7 down the tube and 10 grams of fat on our backsides (we had a bite of one each).
Back in the hotel room with our chocolate mousse & oreo cannolis. 
Faneuil Hall: famous speeches by some of our founding fathers were given here. Now it's a bar/restaurant mecca.
No trip is complete without a brewery tour. The B-man was awake for most. It was the least exciting of our beer tours thus far. Did you know the Sam Adams you drink isn't made in Massachusetts at all? Only in PA & OH, but this is the only joint that gives tours.
Mama SKILLS. B was hungry and I foolishly didn't feed him prior to the tour. Feeding in the Ergo while listening to the tour guide talk about beer.
Uh Oh.
We checked out Fenway and had lunch across the street. No home games...
John Hancock's former residence stood here. It baffles my mind that I was standing where they stood. Same reaction we had in Europe while staring into the Martin Luther Bible translation room.
Sans baby, we would've totally had a drink at the Cheers bar. Except dude. Baby isn't a patient little fellow.
So instead I just took a photo of these random people who are now on my blog.
Old South Meeting House - Boston Tea Party planning 
Park Street Chuch - Next door is the cemetary I posted above that Paul Revere & Sam Adams  are buried at.
Old State House
Old South Meeting House (another view)

Oldest Restaurant in the United States
Oldest Tavern in the United States, right across the street
Hard to see, but Paul Revere's famous ride statue and the Old North Church in the background. And the B-man. Sleeping right through our history lesson that would surely have scored him an A+ on his 5th grade Revolutionary War exam. Tisk, tisk.
Famous Boston Massacre portrait - taken at a period-themed printer's shop
Inside the Old North Church. These are enclosed pews. Members would buy pews-- enclosed because winters were harsh and these would keep them warm. Those on the inside rows would cost more and the exterior, less. 
The Old North Church made famous during Paul Revere's midnight ride.
The B-man chilling out before a tour of the U.S.S. Constitution.
I like big boats and I cannot lie.
The Navy guy giving the tour was very animated. B thought he was cray-cray and wasn't afraid to show it.
U.S.S. Constitution Warship
After the tour...
Is anyone else tired? omg. 
At the site of Bunker Hill. Monument behind us. And yes... it's really on a hill.
Oldest firehouse in Boston.
After dinner, we bought Italian cookies that were THE BEST EVER at Bova's Bakery in the North Side. Seriously, skip cannolis and run straight for the cookies. a-m-a-z-i-n-g. So good that we are now seeking out a place in Chicago that makes Italian cookies. Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroon and some amazing vanilla-almond cookie. And this cookie... bought because it was all colorful and kid-like. Had almost no flavor, but I figured that B would have picked it out himself if he were a bit older because kids love sprinkles. Also, I'm pretty sure a 10-year-old in the Mob served me.
B had his first college tours! Will he be math/science analytic... at MIT...

... or more of a humanities/law guy... at Harvard? This picture is actually a church near Harvard.
A delish pizza joint in Harvard Square that served up white bean and sundried tomato (and sausage for the carni) pizza.
In the middle of Harvard just chilling in the colorful chairs. B may or may not be naked under his opened up romper. Nakie nakie in the middle of Harvard. Tisk, tisk. This kid doesn't take anything seriously. But a hilarious photo for when he actually goes there, no?
Rubbing John Harvard's foot for good luck. Yes, we're aware no one should touch it because the  students pee on him. Yes I sanitized B's hand immediately after taking this photo. Yes I think the guys who choose to pee on him (can't be any classy girl, right?) have amazing aim, velocity, acceleration, and distance for successfully peeing on such a tall statue.
So there you have it, Beantown.