Monday, June 27, 2011

You know you are from the Northeast when...

you think it's a great idea to poke fun at the reality ahead.

We are boxes away from being totally unpacked. We haven't hung a picture yet, but we are (almost) box less (except for the boxes that hold pictures)...

Him, "I put all the extra boxes you wanted me to keep in the bomb shelter. Since we aren't using that area."
Me, "Well.. unless there is a tornado -and we need to escape."
Him, "Right, but I figured - if the house gets taken, at least we'll have boxes. L can build a fort to occupy herself OR we can use it as shelter."

As a Northeastern, we laugh (nervously) at the fate that is ahead; at some point the alarm is going to sound and we try to keep it light to avoid living in (constant) fear.  I can tell you a few things.

1) We don't really treat it like a joke, it's how we get through it. Read here: Don't worry family - when the alarms sound we will be on the move.
2) You have NOT heard a thunderstorm until you've heard a thunderstorm up in St. Louis. For real. The night before last a storm took over for 4 hours in the middle of the night. My husband, he will tell you, is the most affected. He may or may not stay up through out storms.  He says the dog is affected first, and I MIGHT give him that, but I'd also be comfortable saying they are tied for scardy pants.  Sure, the ball & chain isn't jumping in bathtubs like the dog is - but something tells me he wouldn't be against it. The kid is third up, understandably. Me? I sleep like a baby.  I barely sleep through the night, but give me a thunderstorm and snooze. I am out!
3) The Northeast's thunderstorms can best be described as the "mild salsa" to St. Louis' "Punch your throat out hot sauce" storms.
4) Stranger than strange? The storms are horrific, loud, and crazy - and then an hour later, possible a few - it's hotter than hell, the sun is out and the skies are blue. Toto, Abelle, we NOT in Kansas West Hartford, anymore.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Child's Loss


Note: This post has been in the making - during my wee bit sabbatical as we tried to get things worked out - but it's a scar on my heart.

My baby is 3 and while she claims I can't call her "baby" any more, I do and I will. Try stopping me. My baby had her first loss and it breaks my heart tissue by tissue, muscle by muscle. 


We moved, we've been talking about moving for as long as we've known. Now, to be fair, we haven't known long - but we wanted to prepare her as much as we could. We knew the transition would be tough and we knew taking her from the only home, environment and schedule she's ever known would be hard. But can I tell you the truth? You say that - I say that and I MEAN it but when I really really think about it? How can you really tell what it will feel like? I knew it might be hard, but I didn't know it would be as hard as it was.  I didn't know her little memories, mind & feelings would come in the way they would and I didn't know I'd be able to see her pain in her face.

After leaving her house, her school & her friends I anticipated she would miss everything, but I don't know that I thought about how it would come about. Everyday, in any way - someone would come up.

I'd be making lunch - a salad and would add avocados...
"You know who loves avocados? Patrick LOVES avocados!"
We'd be sitting on the hammock outside...
"What color eyes to do you have? I have blue. You know who else has blue eyes, Elle has blue eyes like me."
We'd be eating dinner...
"I miss my friends."
We'd be going food shopping... "Mama, I miss Noah's Ark. My friends. My teachers."
And sometimes in the middle of silence...  "Mama, what do you think the class is learning about today?"

{heart breaks}

We're doing what we can to help her cope with her loss. She wrote her class a letter the other day, we talk about how she'll make new friends, signed up her for camp and swim class and are looking into a new preschool in the fall. While she doesn't go to daycare, she still needs to be cared for during the workday, as we both work (full time).   We have an au pair again who is working out well.  She is working with the kid weekly to get involved in new activities, reading different books, scheduling play dates, and even worksheets to practice her writing, drawing and other educational games. The kid is 3, she will do just fine, but it doesn't hurt her (and by extension me or the baby's daddy) any less.

I hear it just gets worse, so that's awesome. Damn, this parenting thing is serious business.  How do you deal with heartbreaks - small and large, big kids and small? I don't know that I'm cut out for this... good thing we've already signed up for number 2! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Overshare

L, "Mama... can you believe it? I fell in the toilet."
Me, "You did?!"
L, "Yeah, can you believe it - my feet fell in too!"
Me, "Wait. What were your feet doing in the toilet?"
L, "Yeah. It was bananas.  I was standing on the toilet.." (starts to realize she is divulging too much information...) 
{PAUSE}
Me, "Wait. Why were you STANDING on the toilet?"
L, "I dunno. I dunno why I do."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy IS going to be SO surprised! (lie)


The day she put together the surprise, she couldn't wait to tell him. She knows what a surprise is, but who wouldn't want to make this guy happy?  The day she made this for her Daddy, he came home and her first question was, "Did you see your shirt?"  Why did she want to tell him about his special surprise present? Obviously, because he's the best freaking dad, ever!

This morning, she woke me up so we could wrap his presents and all she kept saying was, "Daddy IS going to be SO surprised!"  Obviously, he wasn't.  She has been covered in paint for days and she kept talking about his "surprise shirt"... but the best dads - the best freaking dads - will open the wrapping and unleash the enthusiasm.  He really is the very best. This kid and the one on the way are the luckiest freaking kids. 

When I posted this picture today a comment rang TRUE:


TL
:
L looks so proud! Love it.
She is proud. She's proud to be the artist, she's proud to make this guy happy, most of all - she's proud to be the daughter of the Best. Freaking. Dad. Ever.

We all got a surprise when we were shown the process of her Father's Day surprise.  It was our au pair's idea to put the shirt together, a friend of mine helped with the wording. This morning we got a little behind the music on the shirt and a special message from one freaking awesome kid to one freaking awesome dad:


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Welcome Home, Family. Welcome Home.


And then there was the end.

As one would imagine (or you might have suspected) we do have a home to call our own. OH but it wasn't easy.

Where do you start? How do you solve a problem like moving? I guess I should start from the beginning. (Side note: As I re-read this and spruce it up for (finally) posting this it feels like this happened in another life, not 3 weeks ago. DAMN. This all happened 3 weeks ago?! DAMN.  The following was (mostly) written on our plane ride home... our new home in the STL.)

The only way to move, is to be moved. Having people come in, pack you up and move your stuff is as amazing as it sounds.  I thought it would be stressful, but for real. The. Only. Way. To. Move. (Side note: I've started writing in one word sentences. Get. Ready.) When the driver (of the mack truck, I neglected to take a picture of) showed up, he said he'd be to the STL by Sunday.  Little "thing" about that fact; our flight isn't booked until Tuesday. At first I scrambled, saw about having a friend meet our stuff or one of us changing our flight, but then I realized. HEY. Wait a minute. While I appreciate the fact that this guy hasn't seen his family in weeks; we were moving away from our friends & family for 2 years. Why did we need to reshuffle our lives? I'm thinking when he got into the truck driving business he knew about the travel.

Other than that, even with the husband gone, it was fine. He came home, as scheduled, on Thursday night and did a kick arse job cleaning up.  With his hustle, we were quickly on our way on a 4 day trek across the Northeast.  Our tour was a final "goodbye" to the last of our friends & family that we didn't see over the course of the last few weeks.


Truth: next time we are just going to get on a plane and go - the days of road warriors, not sleeping in our own bed and trekking from home to home is not a good idea. It's the opposite of a good idea. Now? As I write this - on a plane on our way to the STL? It was nice to see as many people as we were able to see.  That said I'm freaking exhausted and frankly I was a crappy guest from house to house, party to party. Whoops. Guess why? I was freaking exhausted. Vicious cycle. Maybe now that it's over, I get that it was a good idea. Maybe. Maybe it's the fact that the ridiculousness of the last few days has already softened a little bit. Maybe.


UPDATE
: 3 weeks later? Nope, still exhausted, that was a crazy ass idea. Next time we'll say come on over if you want and leave it at that. Here's how the few days before we moved went.


Friday, we went to the kid's school for her last day. They threw her a goodbye celebration, post lunch snack.  We came and brought ice cream cups to celebrate her last day.  The kids got ice cream and I got a punch to the gut.  The kids put together a scrap book of L and her time at school.  I cried within 2 minutes, husband dearest says 1 minute. I say, I'm busy making a human over here - sorry I couldn't time it.

Sweetest. Present. Ever. 

I don't know that I can thank the parents & teachers adequately for capturing the years she spent there in a little scrap book.  It's always going to mean something special to us because that school is where she became a little girl. She went in a baby, barely speaking, and has come out a curious, smart, funny, precocious little girl.  In addition to an awesome scrap book, the teachers made her a tie dye shirt with everyone's hand print and name.  Lastly, a troll.  The story of the troll, goes a little like this:


Once upon a time, there was a little girl who went to a magical school with creative teachers that would use innocent relics from the 80s like a troll to entertain all the little children.  One child in particular, Princess L, was especially enamored by the troll.  When he would show up in her lunch box, cubby or in the class unexpected it always made her scream & giggle in delight. On days the troll would find its way to her, she would come home more excited than she could contain.

The troll was magical, indeed. Her teachers asked her to take the troll with her to St. Louis, and the Princess was happy to. Her parents were excited to offer up pictures of the trolls adventures as well. L is excited to keep in touch with her class, they will be pen pals for the rest of the school year.  We thought it would be fun to maybe take the troll to the Arch or along on our adventures. It's only been a few days, and I'm thinking Hartford (the troll is now named after his hometown - best we can tell - other than the Made in China tattoo on the bottom of his foot) is going to be a permanent fixture in our everyday.

After presents, we left L at school to nap (she didn't - shock) but she had a better chance at school than she did at the house with no bed. We picked her up (and of course) cried (me, not the kid).  Why did I cry? We were greeted by one of the aids at L's school - she doesn't spend a regular amount of time with our child.  She approached us with tears in her eyes, sincerely, and said, "I just want to thank you for sharing your gift with us. She is a special person."  We said our goodbyes, continued with the tears (behind my sunglasses) and
set off for our first stop in our tour: Liza's house.

The kids had an amazing time, despite having to give at least one 'talking to' per child in the 15 hours we were there. They are going to miss each other, as much as their parents will. Shock, I cried. But we did a good job, still, to keep the drama shielded from the kid.  Me more so than Liza.  Sorry girl - you screaming "Isn't this TERRIBLE?!" isn't shielding. I will say, in front of L we talked about how cool our adventure is, as we have been doing for weeks. I'm sure she felt something, but at this point it didn't seem to show for her.

Next stop? Nana Lu's. We headed over to my Aunt Mary Lou's who hosted a BBQ. All was fine & good until the word watermelon came up. True story detour here.  A few short hours later, we were off to Laguardia Airport (which is 30-40 minutes away from where we were) to pick up a rental car.  We had 2 more "glorious" days of our road show and needed a car that went in both directions to complete the mission. We had to go 30-40 minutes away because it was a holiday weekend and it was the closest place open. When we get there? They didn't have our reservation and on the way home, I get lost (surprise). Aren't you exhausted? I was exhausted.

The next day we took a few hours to visit friends we hadn't seen in foreva and while it was excellent to see them - it was sweat your ass off hott and I was F this cranky. Between not sleeping for DAYS, it being one thousand degrees, pregnant, about to move half way across the country and ETC, I was D.O.N.E. The kid had an out of this world time and we did get to spend time with a ton of great friends that I always love seeing and always wish we lived to closer to.  There were wins everywhere - but the weekend is waring on us.  Most certainly me and even the kid. I can tell, at this point, she's starting to feel it all.

We were in the husband's home town now and got to spend some quality time with the family there.  Grammy & Papa time galore, cousin fun, aunts & uncles - all good things. The day after the visit with friends was a lovely day filled with swimming, barbecuing and laughs. Then it was time to leave and say goodbye. I did NOT see this coming.

We go to leave and it's like a scene worthy of a makeover show. People are crying, huddled over, there are tears, fears and DRA-MA.  I half expected someone to fall over in tears,
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition style. We were soldiers who have enlisted and are now going off to war. That kind of scene. Like end of days, the world is over, we will never meet again. Grammy & Papa are upset. Aunts & uncles are upset. I'm upset. The husband is upset. And the kid is SO upset... why? Because Dad's upset and as he opens the car door to get the kid in, he smacks her in the face with a steel car door.

Everyone. Is. Crying.


This is NOT the 'let's keep it low key for the kid' kind of goodbye I saw coming. And now, we've physically harmed our own child in the escape process. We head to my mother's house (again) to pick up our damn dog (and get a bite of watermelon, if I'm being honest) and say our goodbyes there. I anticipate she is going to LOOSE HER MIND. Since we just left our departure fit for a warrior (or someone on death row) ... I didn't know how the next hour would go. 

Good news? Nana Lu pulled it together. There was a tear or two, but nothing major. My brother was there, to keep the mood lite as he played "Hero" by Nickleback as we drove off. Bad news? We were not even CLOSE to being in St. Louis yet. We still had to get to a hotel, near the airport. It was estimated to take 45 minutes to get there. It took us close to 3 hours because we kept getting lost (no, I was not driving). At one point my OWN husband told me to, and I quote, "OK, stop talking. No talking, until we get there." 
We eventually got there. The stupidity really didn't stop yet, but I'll break it down fast:
  • We unpacked our completely packed vehicle. 
  • Got the kid to take a bath, get ready for bed & ordered dinner.  
  • Dinner never came, despite several calls to follow up. 
  • We canceled the order, got chips for dinner and at 11:45 pm dinner showed up.
  • No one could sleep. Not the adults. Not the kid. Not the dog. 
  • We didn't fall asleep until at least 1 am. 
  • The alarm went off at 4 am. 
  • We put our dog on a flight. I cried. 
  • We saw one of L's teachers (from school) at the airport. I nearly cried. 
  • We got on the plane & L was the best passenger on the flight, other than Hartford (her troll). 
  • We never received a call from our move's truck driver but when we land, I get an angry message from him. He was angry he's been there since 7 am (CST) and it's now 9:30 am (CST). I'm angry he's angry. No. One. Called. Us. To. Confirm. 
  • We get moved in and are home. Home sweet home.

Epilogue

Crashing Napping on the couch the day we moved.
Wearing the same thing today, by the time you read
this one of us are doing the same thing.
Three weeks deep and I can say, we love it. The air is different (when it isn't forming wind tunnels of tornado death) - everything smells different, tastes different, it's different. Even Abelle is different (she survived the flight).  She fell a year ago, and if you didn't read then and want to now, here's the story. The long and short of it is: she fell, we were told to put her down or invest in a 10K surgery and post-op therapy.  We chose neither and she started to heal as much as she would.  A year later she is almost back to normal but still has a bit of a limp and a bit slower than she was a year ago.  She's happy, not in pain (as far as we know) and alive - so it's a win. Here's the thing about Abelle, post flight: she doesn't limp. I thought, at first, it was just the adrenaline from the flight. 3 weeks later, I think STL agrees with her. She loves the space we have (Ditto: our house is 2x the size of our last apartment), she loves our fenced in yard (Ditto: we have spent more time in it over the last 3 weeks than we did in the last yard we had for 2 years) and she likes the central AC (how wouldn't).  We miss a lot about the Northeast, and where we lived, but by in large, change is good. It was needed and it's suiting us well. I think we're going to like it her. We're just EXHAUSTED.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I carried a watermelon.

The following is a true story that took place in the few days we had in between packing for our move and physically getting on a plane. As I put it all together, this little gem stands on it's own... 

The scene: a BBQ at my aunt's house on my mom's side of the family.

Nona (my grandmother): "Ah! We forgota the watermelony." (In a strong Italian accent)
Nana Lu (my mom): "Oh that's OK. Another day."
Nona: "Do you want watermelon?" (to me)
Me: "No, I'm fine."
Nona: "Something in Italian."
Me: "Do you want me to want watermelon?"
Nona: "No, do you wanta a watermelon?"
Me: "I can want watermelon, if you want."
Nona: "You do?"
Me: "Sure, I want watermelon. Do you want me to go and get it?"
Nona: "NOOOOO. Is 15 lbs." 

Me: "OK."
Nona: "But you wanta a watermelon?"
Me: "There is no way the watermelon is 15 pounds. Is that even possible? I'll go get it and bring mom."

It's maybe a 10 minute walk tops- from my aunt's house to my grandmother's house.  If there really was a 15 lb watermelon in our future I wasn't going to schlep all that in the heat; or if it were cold, if I'm being honest.  All I wanted to do was get this damn watermelon so my grandmother would stop talking about watermelons and so that I could come back and say "I carried a watermelon" and likely be the only one in the room to get it. 

My mom & I get in the car (which is parked in a driveway, facing down - toward my aunt's car) and for some reason I feel uneasy. I feel like I can't go in reverse. Truly. Everyone starts laughing at me (fine 1 cousin and my mother - but to be fair, that was everyone who could see me). I got the ball & chain and asked him to get us out of the downward dog facing parking spot we were in. He laughed, threw the car in reverse and crashed INTO my aunt's car which was parked in FRONT of us. The car wouldn't go in reverse, for real.  My uncle & husband tried to PUSH the car up a 45 degree angle - but since they don't have super human powers we went with waiting for AAA.  


As we wait, I crack watermelon jokes. Dessert is served? I say, "You know what would be great right now? Watermelon." Someone says, "Do you want anything to drink?" I say, "Nah, but I sure do wish I could have some watermelon." My grandmother asks if I want a brownie, I respond with, "No. I just can't stop thinking about that watermelon!" I find this hilarious. My grandmother? Not so much would be an understatement. She's all in an (Italian) huff about something that I don't really understand and since it isn't all that strange for her to be in any language of huff - I keep cracking watermelon jokes. One might think it's obvious that my jokes are what is making her cranky, but if one might think that one might never have spent any amount of time with Nona. It could have been anything.
 

Unfortunately (and of COURSE) AAA sent a SUV instead of a tow truck as requested - so this leaves more time for me to make watermelon jokes. The ball and chain starts to realize that Nona's crankiness is escalating and since it was his car that was trapping us all there decides to walk to my mom's and get her car and provide an exit strategy.  Eventually, the tow truck comes, and though the angry mechanic (who didn't think I could drive the car - and should we 'get a man' to come) thought the car was totally broken - it turns out HE was wrong and I was in fact right - it was just reverse. 

The. Car. Stopped. Being. Able. To. Go. In. Reverse.
 

As soon as we get the car going forward, out marches my grandmother, asking if we are going to go to her house to get the watermelon. Cause when you have a car that only goes straight, your first priority is to get your watermelon on.  I tell her no, cut her off about the damn watermelon and tell her I was joking and really don't want watermelon. In a frustrated pregnant haze I may have yelled to my younger cousins something to the effect of - don't try to be funny, no one in this family will ever get you or humor. 

I don't know that I convinced her - but off we went. Me in the car that would just go straight with the kid and husband and she with my mom who now had her car as well.  They drove off and I'm fairly certain they were still talking about the god damn watermelon. (Side note: this is going somewhere, I promise.)
 

As we get back to my moms - which is where we were staying that night since we couldn't go in reverse to park, we had to circle the block and drive past my grandmothers (they live next door-ish to one another - we call it the compound).  There they were. My mother in the car, my grandmother in the drive way - screaming at one another about ... you guessed it the freaking watermelon. I hopped OUT of the car, yelled for them to stop and said - something to the effect of - open the damn door and give me the god damn watermelon you crazy bats. And then - that's when I saw it. The biggest watermelon I have ever seen. This thing was fair win worthy. 
(troll used for scale)

And so, I came home - carrying a watermelon.

Now why? In the delicious summer fruit's name was my grandmother SO obsessed with this freaking thing? It turns out, that there is a superstition that when a pregnant woman is craving something she must have that thing she craves or the baby she is carrying will have a birthmark the shape of the food she is craving in the place the mother touched her skin after saying whatever it is she craved.


So there I am, with all this talk about watermelons, thinking I am HILARIOUS touching my face, arm, hands, neck - my grandmother is seriously concerned my child is going to come out with watermelon shaped birthmarks around his or her body if not completely covered in them. Legitimately worried about this. What's a girl to do? 

Eat that delicious watermelon and eat it I did. I cut it up (as directed) for her, my aunt and us - and delivered the HUGE ass third of deliciousness to all. I carried a watermelon to each door and with each delivery my opening line was, "I carried a watermelon." And for that moment of our week, all was right with the world. 


More on our moving story - in it's completion tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not an update from the Saved

I'm just realizing I last wrote almost a month ago, about the rapture... and maybe you thought I did, in fact, end up getting sucked up and saved as a host of crazy ass things happen. Not the case. 

I'm alive & well - as is everyone living in our new diggs making the trek from the Northeast to the Midwest / South (ps... is Missouri the South OR the Midwest? Discuss & let me know what you come up with). 

Covered in boxes, with no end in sight to the unpacking process but I'm told this too shall end at some point. It's not that we need help unpacking, it's that I need to get my act together to figure out WHERE I want to put things. But oh, there were things like figuring out childcare (done), activities for the kid (done), setting up our home office so we can get back to work (done), having fun with the kid (done & in progress), and exploring our new neighborhood, city & state (in progress). We're having fun though and doing what is most important - laughing (a lot) and spending more time together than we have in what feels like forever. 

More on our journey here, our adventures now that we are here and more! Just wanted to say, thanks for sticking around (if you are) and if not - come back soon. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled mayhem reporting shortly.
(c) 2007 all rights reserved. aka don't be a D and swipe any content, photos, etc - sucka. Should you be tempted, let me know so I can be flattered and then give me something write about.