8 Months

The response to my recent post about the Mohawk/Herkimer shootings has been nothing short of overwhelming. The kindness and connections have touched my core. It’s difficult to write further about those 24 hours, but those I’ve spoken to have similar feelings: settling into a state of numbness. This is where we currently reside, squeezing our loved ones a little tighter than usual. So, in an attempt to move on, I’ll write the post that my brain was percolating when the events started to unfold. It may seem frivolous, but it’s a grasp at normalcy, which is a bit of a challenge in itself.

As I write this, I am officially the parent of an 8-month-old. Holy crap.

So many thoughts accompany that statement, but “holy crap” is all I can come up with to encompass them all. It’s gone so fast…and, yet, not so much. He’s such a big boy…and, yet, not so much. I can hardly wrap my head around the fact that a year ago I was 5 months pregnant and still in a state of “eh, we’ve got time.” We were going to classes and getting nervous or anxious and sharing horrible-for-us meals at Friendly’s afterwards. We even met a really sweet older couple who have ended up on our Christmas list! (Before the aforementioned events occurred, I was going to suggest to the hubby that we take him out to New Hartford for a celebratory Friendly’s dinner — yes, even on a school night! What a fun change-of-routine that would have been.)

But, now we’ve got our handsome monkey. He handles his walker like a champion, turning it on a dime to chase down a cat (or his cousin; thank God she’s a speedy toddler). He’s teething but past the terrible “why is he CRYING?!” days he once had. He’s got chicken fuzz hair (mine), chubby thighs (not sure whose those are), a broad smile (mine), a cute nose (Dad’s) and piercing, clear blue eyes (my grandfather’s?). He’s, as they say, all boy.

I had some tears recently when his grandma/sitter sent home two un-finished bags of milk. We send 4, which he once consumed completely, but lately it’s been 3. This was the first time it’s been this few. It might be a fluke, but I’m concerned it’s weaning. I’ve gotta get myself mentally ready for this, but sometimes you just can’t prepare yourself. It’s life. He’s getting bigger, eating more “solids” and his poop is giving an indication that we could start cloth diapering full-time and have an easy time with it. Which we will.

So, instead of getting sad about his rush to grow up (*sniff, sniff*), my mind brings me to a much-needed happy place: his first birthday. Thanks to his Friday the 13th birthday last year, his first will be on a Saturday — perfect! Plus, it looks like I’ll be staying home with him for the summer, so I can do a bit of planning after school lets out.

It won’t be a huge event, but all the family (and possibly a friend or two) will be invited. We’ve asked my mom to use her space, but we’ll keep an eye out on the weather — we all have pretty small homes, so it would be ideal to have a nice day that will allow us to sprawl into Mom’s backyard (and send the older kids down for badminton, volleyball, etc). She lives in the village of Mohawk, but Dave always says it’s like visiting the country after we’ve had a relaxing afternoon sitting under their carport, observing their gardens and tiny animals scurrying and flying around. They often have a steady stream of deer and turkeys enjoying their backyard as much as their human counterparts.

I’m not sure there will be a theme since he’s not really a “fan” of anything — I mean, an Elephant and Piggie theme would be neat when he’s older, but currently we’re not down for a giraffe or cat (he. loves. his. kitties.) theme. I’m just thinking fun, bright boy colors. And balloons.

Our families usually just do FOOD for birthdays. I’m more of the “entertain” mindset. So, of course there’ll be food, but I’d like to come up with some laid-back entertainment ideas (a photo “booth”/station area to take pics and remember the day, maybe). I’d like to keep whatever we do simple as to avoid the raised eyebrow, so I guess I’ll have to remember my Pinterest login again.

And, since we’re the only Organics in the fam (doesn’t that sound like a nice label? “Organics”? Better than granola hippies), we’ll probably do a BBQ or something with some healthy sides. Either way, I hope to share the fun. I only wish those adorable, highly-fashioned blog ideas with awesome paper straws and glass soda bottles in galvanized tubs was realistic. But, ultimately, the most important part of the day is family getting together to celebrate the joy that Hadley has brought to so many.

That, and cake.

Yer Freakin’ Me Out!

Does this man freak YOU out?
Didn’t think so.

My husband and I have had a very strange unintentional running gag going on. I’m not a fan.

It’s downright weird. I’ll be cooking dinner with the baby nearby, knowing that Dave is upstairs in our office, when he suddenly (and silently) slips in through the doorway and suddenly speaks. I jump. My hand automatically grasps at my chest, presumably because I have to place my heart back in its original position. I am downright FREAKED OUT. He might as well have said, “Boo!” But, that’s the thing. He doesn’t intend to scare me. Seriously, he doesn’t! He’s not that type of a guy. We don’t pull pranks or do overtly silly things (unless it involves the baby or cats).

It can happen anywhere. In the middle of a crowded grocery store — there are tons of people around, but he appears from grabbing a coffee and *bam* I jump three feet then get a full-body shiver goin’ on. He comes back from the bathroom at a restaurant. He comes down cellar where I’m intently working on laundry. There have been so many examples, I can’t remember them all. Yes, that many!

Why am I writing about such a silly phenomenon? Well, because there’s a part of me that thinks it’s hysterical. But, more importantly, I’m hoping that by writing about it, it’ll be my cure; like holding one’s breath or taking sugar water for hiccups. Now that I’ve written it down and put it out there for the world to see, I’m fully intending to no longer be frightened by my hubs.

One can wish, right?

What the hell’s the matter with me, anyway?!?! Hee hee. Accepting responses in the comments below. 😉 Have a great day!

Animal Luhvahs

Why do you think we try to make a concerted effort to “green” our lifestyle?

Why do you think we check our consciences before buying meat? (Don’t get me wrong; we buy meat. We just prefer to buy from folks who treat the animals humanely and with the respect and honor that they deserve. Believe me, mentally we’re borderline vegetarian; in reality, we just can’t make that jump yet.)

Why do we hear at least twice a month in our household someone sadly repeat, “Humans weren’t meant to go this fast.” Or “If it’s going to storm, should I check the food in the garage now or will that scare the cats out if they’re already settling in?” (That’s not our cats ; it’s the stray cats we wish we could take in, or at least get spayed/neutered and maybe find a nice home for.) Or “Animals are so much more in touch than humans” or “kinder than humans” or “more thoughtful than humans.” Or “Good, Hadley, yes. Beardslee is your brother. We love him. We treat him nicely. We don’t pull his fur or ears or tail. We pet him with an open hand. Good boy, you love your boys, don’t you?”

It’s because we’re animal lovers. Luhvahs. Lovahs. Whatever. We love animals!

We’re not (I don’t think!) the crazy people who wear cat sweatshirts and give up human interaction for the sweet snuggliness of our boys. But we do cherish them for their uniqueness and for what each of them bring to the family. We had three fur babies before we had Hadley, and they taught us SO much about parenting that has helped us with our “human” buddy.

And this doesn’t just go for cats, although they happen to hold a monopoly in our household. We grew up with dogs, and I have some experience farming with cows (hate calling them cattle), and in general both have a deep-rooted compassion for furry and feathered creatures of all shapes and sizes. We both often shed a tear over roadkill, and if we have to drive past it several times a day it deeply affects us.

Dave’s a donator. If he feels strongly about something, he puts his money where his mouth is (and, although he works in the fancy-schmancy world o’ news, he by no means has an excess of the green stuff…I promise you). So, he donates to a couple of animal shelters.

His brother was raised with a similar love of animals; they, too, have three kitties to call their own. They donate their time, too, to an awesome place called Spring Farm Cares in Clinton, NY. It’s called an “animal sanctuary” — a place where animals aren’t killed just because they happen to have a particular number attached to them. I love that it’s a sanctuary, especially for the horses, who are unable to be adopted out due to age or other ailments. A place for a horse to live out its days in a caring, healthy environment and with hospice (yes! Horse hospice) when needed is an incredible thing, indeed.

So, when Dan and Tara came up with an idea to have a run to benefit the sanctuary, I was uber proud. As things moved forward, bureaucratic red tape and other issues popped up, but always remembering the animals and what they deserve, they stuck out their chins and continued on. With further evolution, I was glad to hear that the run had become a run/walk — so, yay, I could sign up and even drag a stroller-ridin’ baby along to support them!

If you live in the Mohawk Valley area and are free Saturday, May 4th, please consider signing up for the Spring Farm Cares Run/Walk for the Animals. You can find out more on their Facebook page or simply register directly at www.runwalkfortheanimals.com. Early birds who sign up before April 1st pay a registration fee of $20 (and get a nifty, free T-shirt…or, if you don’t want the tee, let the money go back as a donation!).

Let’s just say I usually celebrate my May 1st birthday on the first Saturday of May, but this year I’m looking forward to use the day planting a seed with our son; a seed of compassion, responsibility and love. After all, why else would we work so hard at doing our tiny part to save the world if those who truly deserve a safe, wonderful place aren’t considered? It is our job to do for the animals and children, for they cannot do for themselves.

Sorry for the preachiness. I just care a whole heck of a lot about this cause. Please consider coming. It should be an awesomely fun, positive day for all.

Christmas…in January?

Wow. Do I occasionally get Baby Brain still, or what? Here I assumed I’d have Mommy Brain, but I’ve been surprisingly on top of things. (You would NOT agree if you saw the mountain of books I have to reshelve at school, of course.) But it took my reading a blog or two about what folks got for Christmas for me to say, “Oh, duh! I totally took pictures Christmas morning.” And why did I take pictures? Was it because it was my little man’s first experience with the big man in red? Was it just so awesome of a morning? Not really. We were beat from our Christmas Eve festivities (almost didn’t even “let Santa visit” we were so exhausted from an over-tired crying baby) and had to open half of Hadley’s presents on the 26th. But, we DID have a pretty durn tootin’ good time as a 3-human, 3-kitty family.


Of course, the 3 kitties weren’t all awake at the same time, which made their present-opening kind of moot. Sheesh, I don’t even think we did their stocking ’til a week later (not that they loved it any less). ‘Cuz, y’know, you don’t want to open their stocking when they’re not ALL available to enjoy the outpouring of crazy jingly-and-crackly cat toys. And, of course, they’re cats, and the saying regarding their wrangling is totally true. Unless you open a bag of treats. Which I did.

ANYhoo, the humans in the house did quite well — thanks, Santa, whom I assume is taking a bit of vacation time in Aruba right about now. One never knows how much Santa “can” bring from year to year, so it’s nice when the gifts are a) thoughtful and/or b) useful. While we get a lot (compared to others I know), we do way less than some other folks we know, and it’s budgeted in advance…and who knows if we’ll do this much next year. (Heck, our “limit” goes down from year to year, so odds are we won’t do as much.) Either way, if it’s something I NEED and it’s not a pile of crap I have to find a use or space for, I’m a happy duck.

Here are a few stacks of stuff I was super psyched to receive. (This isn’t bragging; just fun sharing.) Oh, and being a librarian, I felt I should organize them appropriately by groups…

So, here’s the stack of “entertainment” goodness…plus a Norman Rockwell calendar that I was over-the-top excited to get. (Side note: My gift from Hadley *finally* came later, after some mistakes on the Amazon seller’s side of things — a box set of some Shirley Temple movies for us to watch together – when he’s a tad older! Wheeee!! Oh, and Hadley got Daddy a tie, scarf and wallet.):

Here’s my kitchen commando pile (look at the gorgeousness on that cutting board…and a French rolling pin?! He’s a keeper! Oh, and I was dying for a “real” masher rather than a plastic liquifier thingamabobber.):

Oh, and of course there were a couple of “wearable” items, which I usually get for Dave, but he doesn’t attempt for me. Let’s just say I’m totally wearing the T-shirt right now. (Liz Lemon’s my jam.) And the locket (with pictures of the baby!!!) made me cry!!!

Not to mention some admittedly non-organic candy. Naughty Santa. Gotta love him!

…and some “beauty stuff”! Hooray, my old straightener/curler was going to burn the joint down. Whew!

Then there was breakfast. We tend to go kinda nuts as far as the amount of food and caloric intake of Christmas breakfasts (not that we count calories any other day). I’m sure, one day, I’ll try my mom’s strategy — make a french toast casseroley-type thing that can be made a day in advance and “soak in” overnight, then just throw it in the oven to bake off while we unwrap gifts.

But, for now, there’s just something about bacon. GOOD bacon. Farmers’ market, knew-the-pig’s-name bacon. It’s somewhat of a tradition for us, and I’m pretty sure my husband looks forward to it all year long. Sure, we eat it at other times (when we decide to pick some up, and if it’s reasonably priced), but it’s a must for Christmas, along with fresh, grass-fed eggs of some sort. In this case, it was accompanied by sweet potato hash browns, sesame bagels and juice ‘n tea. Yum!!

It gave us enough energy to make it through the rest of the family fun for the day, and then some! We had to continue our own festivities on the 26th — once the monkey seemed to be done, I didn’t feel we needed to force it, so we continued unwrapping his stuff. My favorite gift that Santa brought him? Probably the handful of Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie books (by Mo Willems) for his collection…PLUS Gerald and Piggie stuffed animals! Totally love props for book-readin’ (can you say “role play re-telling”?!), especially buddies like these. Daddy has come up with the BEST voices for them…although it took some research to find out that Piggie’s supposed to be a girl. Hmm. Well, I guess his voice can pass as a female oinker. Maybe.

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday and got to spend lots of time with loved ones — and that all your gifts were thoughtful and exactly what you wanted…or maybe even something you’ve ALWAYS wanted, which is always fun. Seriously, I got a ton, as did Dave. Do you guys do more than this? Way less? Or, are we normal and this is a completely allowable amount of splurging? I need validation, people!!

Parisian Parenting

Let me start by saying that I haven’t been too excited about reading parenting books. Even the pregnancy books, while at times enlightening and highly educational (I do need to know this stuff, after all…apparently *wink*), haven’t gotten me excited. In all honesty, the only thing that gets me REALLY excited is the growing belly (although clothes are the devil lately), the occasional “knock-knock” baby’s giving me (yes, I know you’re there!), and the private conversations I get to have with my husband about everything. Oh, and the thoughts of how to decorate the nursery – those are pretty fun, too.

But, when I saw that this story was going to be on “The Today Show” this morning, I immediately said, “Ohhhh, I hope they post a link for that on Facebook so I can see it!” I adore that Dave watched it, and texted me the title of the book that it was based on. I asked him what he thought about it all (I had been a bit of a skeptic when I heard it, assuming they’d skew it in a Tiger Mom direction), and he said that it “sounded really good”. Wow, a glowing recommendation…about a parenting book…from my man. How could I NOT get a tad excited?

Then, I watched the link (which, side note, I Googled). While the article accompanying the video at first admonishes the idea that one culture shouldn’t blatantly state that it’s better at anything (ironic, being Americans), but goes on to recognize that the author writes in a humorous, thoughtful manner (and apparently from an American perspective – being an American in France). Whew, good to know.

                                                   Here’s the video link. Give it a try. 🙂

So, I’ve put the book (entitled Bringing Up Bebe – accent on the “e”s) into my Amazon Baby Wishlist (soon to be my Amazon Baby Registry), although I’m so excited to read it, I may have to purchase it as my “first baby item”. That’s right, we technically haven’t purchased any clothes, books, ANYTHING (other than stuff for the nursery, but I see that more as organization – not fun stuff) for the baby since finding out. I just haven’t found the perfect “first onesie”. Plus, we’ve already been getting awesome hand-me-downs (including my sister’s favorite pregnancy book, which is where I’m getting all my “knowledge” on the ins-and-outs of what’s happening and what will happen), so there’s no point in splurging. Not quite yet. Not if we’re squeezing pennies. (That, and we don’t want stuff for stuff’s sake.)

It’s not that we’re down on American parenting. Heck, it’s what WE had, and we’re (pretty) well-adjusted and (publicly) respectful members of society. But, we’re open to alternate ideas on the subject – anything that may give kids in a 21st century environment greater sensitivity and awareness, and which may make parenting a more connected, less co-dependent situation. After seeing countless American children in my everyday job over the past several years, I’ve seen some wonderful behavior…but I’ve seen absolutely selfish, demanding, relentless behavior. And, I hate to say it, but it’s on the rise. It’s a challenge when trying to teach independent use of the library for future success as young adults and adults, I’ll tell ya that.

So, I’ll be sure to let you know how the book is when I’ve finally received and read it. Heck, that may not be until a month before the baby comes. I foresee that it’ll be hard to put it down for the pregnancy books.

What do YOU think? Are things just fine the way we handle parenting in America? Or, is it right to look for other methods elsewhere? Do tell.

Parisian Parenting

Let me start by saying that I haven’t been too excited about reading parenting books. Even the pregnancy books, while at times enlightening and highly educational (I do need to know this stuff, after all…apparently *wink*), haven’t gotten me excited. In all honesty, the only thing that gets me REALLY excited is the growing belly (although clothes are the devil lately), the occasional “knock-knock” baby’s giving me (yes, I know you’re there!), and the private conversations I get to have with my husband about everything. Oh, and the thoughts of how to decorate the nursery – those are pretty fun, too.

But, when I saw that this story was going to be on “The Today Show” this morning, I immediately said, “Ohhhh, I hope they post a link for that on Facebook so I can see it!” I adore that Dave watched it, and texted me the title of the book that it was based on. I asked him what he thought about it all (I had been a bit of a skeptic when I heard it, assuming they’d skew it in a Tiger Mom direction), and he said that it “sounded really good”. Wow, a glowing recommendation…about a parenting book…from my man. How could I NOT get a tad excited?

Then, I watched the link (which, side note, I Googled). While the article accompanying the video at first admonishes the idea that one culture shouldn’t blatantly state that it’s better at anything (ironic, being Americans), but goes on to recognize that the author writes in a humorous, thoughtful manner (and apparently from an American perspective – being an American in France). Whew, good to know.

Here’s the video link. Give it a try. 🙂

So, I’ve put the book (entitled Bringing Up Bebe – accent on the “e”s) into my Amazon Baby Wishlist (soon to be my Amazon Baby Registry), although I’m so excited to read it, I may have to purchase it as my “first baby item”. That’s right, we technically haven’t purchased any clothes, books, ANYTHING (other than stuff for the nursery, but I see that more as organization – not fun stuff) for the baby since finding out. I just haven’t found the perfect “first onesie”. Plus, we’ve already been getting awesome hand-me-downs (including my sister’s favorite pregnancy book, which is where I’m getting all my “knowledge” on the ins-and-outs of what’s happening and what will happen), so there’s no point in splurging. Not quite yet. Not if we’re squeezing pennies. (That, and we don’t want stuff for stuff’s sake.)

It’s not that we’re down on American parenting. Heck, it’s what WE had, and we’re (pretty) well-adjusted and (publicly) respectful members of society. But, we’re open to alternate ideas on the subject – anything that may give kids in a 21st century environment greater sensitivity and awareness, and which may make parenting a more connected, less co-dependent situation. After seeing countless American children in my everyday job over the past several years, I’ve seen some wonderful behavior…but I’ve seen absolutely selfish, demanding, relentless behavior. And, I hate to say it, but it’s on the rise. It’s a challenge when trying to teach independent use of the library for future success as young adults and adults, I’ll tell ya that.

So, I’ll be sure to let you know how the book is when I’ve finally received and read it. Heck, that may not be until a month before the baby comes. I foresee that it’ll be hard to put it down for the pregnancy books.

What do YOU think? Are things just fine the way we handle parenting in America? Or, is it right to look for other methods elsewhere? Do tell.

Grandma’s Hands

Last night, I cut myself while cooking. Actually, I kind of carved myself. If I hadn’t had a split second “oh crap!” moment, I probably would’ve lost half an inch of my thumb and fingernail, and embarrassingly requested that my husband drive me to the hospital. As it was, I stood there holding my paper towel-wrapped thumb high in the air, calmly saying to him, “Don’t freak out, but…” It worked! He didn’t freak out (although we both know he wanted to) and I forced myself to clean and bandage the wound up without throwing up or passing out. I now know what mommyhood will look like. I still feel like passing out thinking of the blood, the pain, and the reality of what the awkward, sliced fingernail looks like. Blah. Ick.

But, while I saw the blood instantly fill the layers of paper towel, I couldn’t help but feel proud. I’ve been cooking for quite awhile and have had plenty of mishaps – mostly involving collecting burn scars – but this was the first “does that need stitches?” sort of injury. My thoughts instantly went to my grandmother.

“Grandma Heidi” was called by this confusing nickname because, for whatever reason, our sets of grandparents were named for their dogs: Grandma and Grandpa Heidi, Grandma and Grandpa Ginger. As I came along, it got even more blurry since the dogs had long since passed. Regardless, the nicknames stuck. The only way I could remember the names was when Grandpa Heidi showed me an old “Heidi” movie and I started to associate the book (along with the grandfather in it) with him.

Anyhoo, we spent a lot of time with the Heidi grandparents. I would guess that we actually spent an abnormal amount of time at their house compared to most families, between living in the same village, their VERY close proximity to our elementary school, and their silent, ever-present willingness to help Mom in the tough raising of four children alone. We were incredibly lucky.

Grandpa, as far as my relationship with him goes, has always been my hero. If I start to elaborate, I WILL cry. Needless to say, he was one of the several men who raised me, and he was full of patience and kindness for me, with just the right levels of discipline and intimidation. I will surely be struck down when he passes, one day.

Grandma Heidi, on the other hand, was a pip. She was the undisputed matriarch of the family. While she and Grandpa were both Marines, serving during WWII, she was the one who seemed to embody that strictness. Simultaneously, she seemed to have a vein of mischief that you knew she used to unleash with her lady Marine buddies back when she was living that life.

There are countless stories to prove her conflicting sides. For example, my sister and I had to make the bed when we stayed over…but our way wouldn’t do. She taught us how to make the bed as she was taught in the Marines (although I don’t recall whether she actually did bounce a quarter), and always checked before we could go about our day.

At the same time, her naughtiness came through when she gave the Sign of Peace in church. You knew it was coming, yet it was disrespectful NOT to shake hands. CRUSH. Grandma would squeeze so hard she’d flatten the bones in your hand and leave you on your knees howling…to which, Mom would turn and snap at you. Not Grandma. You. And I can’t count how many times, while teaching me how to play Gin (or several other card games) she blew smoke in my face when I started to learn how to win. It was also her cue to suddenly change the rules.

But, ultimately, her love was palpable, even if not stated or even shown regularly. That’s just how the family was.

So, how is this all relevant to my Band-Aid finger? I watched her cook from the time I could peer over the countertop. I was sometimes lucky enough to get picked up and sit ON the counter to help mix cookies. (I remember Mary getting frustrated and jealous over that, but they had a much deeper connection, so no hard feelings harbored.) While she might not have been the best cook on Earth, the sights and smells are deeply-rooted memories. Her spice cabinet was unrivaled as far as smells. The taste of grape jelly in the middle of a spaghetti dinner – yes, a palette cleanser, don’t judge. The anticipation of watching molasses coloring her famous molasses cookies.

As much as everything else, I was mesmerized by her hands. The arthritis bulged her joints slightly, the skin rolling like uneven hillsides covering ancient cities, and lines showing as much age as experience. Accompanying and interrupting those lines, you could see the nicks and splices that had built up over her many decades of cooking. Those years cooking for her large family when her mother died. Those years that she cooked, as a newlywed, for her new husband along with his siblings. Those years that she made meals of indelible memories for her five children – who cared so much about their Sunday food routines and famous recipes that I was asked to compile a plethora of stories and memories into a homemade cookbook for them to share. Those hands meant a lot to a small, exclusive club of Cunningham (and subsequent) family.

I recall intensely staring at her fingers. I do remember her having the occasional Band-Aid, or making that clinched-teeth-sucking-in-air sound while chopping, then rushing to run water over it. While I didn’t look forward to being in pain, I looked forward to being Grandma. And, incidentally, Mom – they have the same hands, although Mom’s are less soft but definitely hard-working and gentle.

I didn’t feel like either of them until last night. After making my initial “chchhchceeee” clenched noise, I smiled and laughed. I had gotten my badge. And I’d avoided getting blood in the onions.

Hard Times, But Good to Come

Apologies to any and all who read for the fact that I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like. Let’s just say that I get the “I should post” thought about a dozen times each day. The days that I actually post, double that number, multiply it by 3, subtract by 4, and that’s the number of times I think about posting. Oh, and those days also generally include the “ambition” factor.

Regardless, I usually like to post when I’m uber excited about something or feeling happy enough to step into your lives with a thought or random how-to or whatever. I hate, hate, hate negative posts. There’s enough complaining in life. I’m pretty much of the “Yeah, okay, deal with it” realm, except with those I feel close enough to divulge secret insecurities or worries. Generally speaking, I was raise to feel that when there’s nothing you can do about a problem, you’ve gotta stop worrying and over-thinking (and bitching). The times in life that this is the best advice, I find, is during those death and dying moments.

So, I hope you find this to be an informative “what’s going on with me” post, rather than a “wow, life sucks so much, feel sorry for me” post. Thanks for understanding!

The past week has been, for lack of a better word, rough. On Saturday, my dear brother-in-law lost his also-dear grandmother (aka Boppy), whom we all knew quite well. It was relatively unexpected, but she was 90 and had even walked herself into the hospital the prior week; in other words, it was a good life, but a sad loss for those who knew her.

Later that day, we learned of the passing of my sister-in-law’s father. This news was expected, but it was heart-breaking, nonetheless. He had been fighting cancer for a relatively short time (actually, so had Boppy, come to think of it), and my SIL was driving out to see him regularly. While I didn’t know him well, I had met him several times and knew him to be a jovial, laid-back, sweet man who loved his children and grandchildren dearly. Thinking of the private memorial service that she, my brother, my niece and nephew, and Mom and stepdad will be sitting through tomorrow saddens me and leaves a heaviness on my chest that I just can’t seem to shake.

Then, while at my mother’s Sunday for a small (like, Dave and I and the ‘rents, that’s it) Father’s Day celebration, my mom got the call about her Uncle Fran. Hearing her, a usually rock solid individual, wail and uncontrollably cry at the news shook me to my core. I’m not a weak person, but death has an embarrassingly tearful affect on me – I think I’m making up for all the tears I was too stupid not to cry at my father’s funeral when I was 3. And, knowing what a sweet, kind, charitable, simply LOVED man he was pretty much nailed me to the wall. I knew that he was Mom’s favorite uncle by far, that he did things for her that made her feel special (when she was all too often forgotten), and that connection was clear in her response to his death this week.

While she continued to talk on the phone with Uncle Fran’s son, she suggested that Dave and I make our visit to see my grandfather, as we had already planned, but to keep mum about his brother’s passing. I couldn’t have physically done it if she hadn’t told me to, but to my surprise, I didn’t shed a single tear or let on that anything in the world was wrong. It was too important to see Grandpa, especially on a good day, and to remind him, silently, of my appreciation for his fatherly care on Father’s Day. He performed the role that I needed until my stepdad came along, although, even then, he remained just as important. And I’m proud to say that he took the news of his brother, later, with strength and respect, as always.

I am, by comparison to my siblings and other relatives, quite lucky that I didn’t lose someone terribly close and dear to me. My heart aches for their losses, and I still cry to think of the holes that have been left, but hope that the rule of threes stays that way for awhile. I think we all need a rest. It saddens me to think about who the next to pass will be, and that I may not be strong enough to handle it with the same grace that so many of my loved ones showed this week.

On a plus side, this was also my last week at school – so I have one week off before summer school starts, in full. I am hoping to distract myself by posting more over the summer, and to be a tad more interesting than I have been lately. The recent clothing post had me thinking about appropriate attire at funerals and wakes (and wondering if I’d dressed appropriately enough!), so I guess my mind is always escaping here, anyway. Hope all is well in your worlds.

Traits

I’m up much earlier than I normally am on a Saturday…and, while it’s quiet outside, I’m pretty sure the Rapture ain’t happenin’. For the most part, I’m not an early riser, and I’m not sure I ever will be. Just not a morning person. Strangely enough, it turns out that I’m not a night person, either! On most nights, you’ll find me in bed around 9:30. What was that? Oh, I’m 29…why do you ask?

Anyhoo, usually if I get the itch to awaken at, say, 6:10am on a Saturday, I start hustling all over the house doing laundry and dishes, calling my VERY early-rising mother, and doing a slew of other don’t-wake-the-husband chores. Today, I’m just “awake” with very little motivation. What’s got me awake? I’m thinking it’s my uncomfortable tummy. Which invariably gets me thinking about characteristics that I share with my family.

This year, I found out that I have acid reflux. Big whoop, I had it in college, but it had seemed to taper off and didn’t keep me up at night anymore. Did you know it can be stress-inducted? Well, there ya go. But, apparently, said acid reflux had secretly taken a summer home in the south and decided to make its home there, deteriorating my esophagus without my even noticing. After the very rare occasion of sitting down to a lovely meal with the hubs and suddenly finding myself bent over with a 10 out of 10 chest pain, I decided to look into it. (The pains were rare, not the lovely mealtimes.)

After an endoscopy, it was confirmed that not only do I have acid reflux, but I also have a hiatal hernia. Those are the ones that are pretty much right below the ribcage. The one that has bothered me for years without being painful enough to say “It hurts RIIIIIGHT here”. The one that made it impossible to get any breath support in “1940s Radio Hour” because I was wearing a belt there.

When I heard my diagnosis, I called my mother to let her know. “Oh, Grandma McCoy and Bill (my brother) have hiatal hernias.” In a strange way, it made me feel that I had something in common with them.

So, with my strange pains in full force this morning, I ponder some of the other traits that I share with family and loved ones…

My sister and I look alike. My brother, Ryan, and I have bad allergies and fought asthma as children (rarely as adults, but it’s pretty much dormant and can pop up unexpectedly). My brother, Bill, and I have an aptitude for unabashed crying at funerals and other, well, sad times; this may sound normal to you, but Mary and Ryan are generally the ones rolling their eyes while handing over tissues. On the same token, Ryan and I can be much moodier and more likely to get downright pissed off, whereas Mary and Bill are quieter and even-tempered. In some strange way, the four of us share different traits and not others; other families I’ve heard of 4 kids, all complete individuals who share nada, so I think it’s pretty cool. Obviously, we’re unique in our own ways and have very different life goals and even varying intelligences (street smart vs. practical vs. book smart, etc), but genetics plays an interesting role.

Oh, and in a strange way…I’m not sure if my sister agrees with this or not, but I find that her husband and I (and her best friend, Katie) are verrrrrry similar in many ways, generally personality-wise. On the flip side, I think that my husband’s quieter, more reserved qualities remind me of my sister. We’ve kinda married opposites. It works, though.

But, then, there’s the last generation. I agree that personality is something that can be genetically passed, mostly, while behavior is environmentally learned and sculpted. My personality comes from many areas, and some of the time is even reminiscent of my Aunt Nancy, whom I have only seen a handful of times in my life. However, as I grow older, I find a lot of my mother showing – for better or for worse. As far as most of my memory is concerned, she was our sole caretaker, with much help from her parents, so all of that influence is in me.

I don’t find it strange in the slightest that my favorite movies are classics, and I’d much rather read about history than any other topic. I have a profound respect for the past and my heart aches for the hardships that our predecessors endured. Most of my opinions on life are rooted in my grandparents; namely, my mother’s dad. 

So, what connects me so fiercely to the ’60s? (My friends here know that I’m not really of the 21st century, but might have been much happier in a different time – be it the ’60s, ’30s-40s, or the 1800s.) I wanted nothing more in the world to feel a connection to my father, who was a high schooler in the ’60s. But, then it took on a life of its own. There’s no way he was a Beatles fan, or, egads, a Monkees fan…or Mamas and the Papas or the Doors, and probably not Simon and Garfunkel. But, because I’d opened that door to the past and kept my own mind’s door open to it, the interests just flowed.

Enough rambling, it really is time to take after my mother and get “a load in the washer, a load in the dryer”. What about you? Do you share any interesting (or, heck, not even interesting — look at what I listed!) traits with any siblings or other family members? Or, cooler still, any connections with non-family folk?

Story of a Cat

I’ve hinted for awhile of a change happening around the McCoy-Dellecese household. Well, here it is! Our last two weekends have been life-changing — we’ve endured some of the happiest, scariest, most stressful moments we’ve ever had as a couple. It all started when…

Two Fridays ago, Dave and I went out for a bite to eat and a drink or two at the bar in the basement of Beardslee Castle [which happens to be the site of our reception (Sign #1), and is undoubtedly haunted — very cool place] with our friends, Tom and Christine. A good time was had and, when it was time to leave, one of the employees told us of a different exit to use. (Sign #2) After ascending the stairs, we turned toward the car, and were immediately approached by a highly affectionate, clearly sick, EXTREMELY smelly cat. He rubbed up against our legs and wouldn’t stop talking. We all looked at each other, wondering where he was from, if he lived at the castle, 3/4 of us thinking about taking him home. Tom talked us all out of it quickly and we left, deflated. On the way home, we chattered about him (Sign #3 — I always refer to animals as females, but knew this guy was a man without catching a glimpse of…anything), deeming him “Dudley” due to his funny, drunk careening while trying to walk straight.

The next morning, Dave awoke to my staring eyes. I’d been up all night, wondering about the cat. Once it got brighter outside, we threw on crappy clothes, grabbed an old towel, and (without thinking much about it) hopped in the car. On the way there, I called my sister for advice — whether or not to bring him to the humane society (we decided against this, thinking it’d cost money, he might get put down if they needed to do lots of surgery, etc.), could I catch any diseases by handling him, how would I know if he was rabid, etc.

Upon arrival, Dave took hold of his senses, realizing that we were probably trespassing and that we could be arrested if anyone was there. My quick temper flared up at him, knowing that we had to just LOOK; I didn’t expect in the slightest for him to still be around, given that the area was farmland and woods (and that he was probably just a barn cat). While in the middle of exchanging spats, Dave followed my frantic searching. In mid-sentence (about the fact that a gardener was on-premises) he turned and saw the cat, asleep (and near death) in a self-made nest within a large bush/tree. His voice changed instantly and his words made no sense — “You mean, THAT?! *pause* I’ll get the car!!!” (Sign #4)

Our hearts were in our throats; he pulled up and I still hadn’t gotten him out of the brush. I made noises to get the little guy’s attention; the only energy he had was to look up with his eyes, meow silently, and put out a paw. (Sign #5) I burst out in tears and scooped him up (using the towel). He was so frail, his nose was running, he reeked of his own urine, but he seemed 100% trusting. He meowed, a little scared of what we were doing with him, but his energy was gone; he seemed as if he’d been preparing for death, and we interrupted.

Shortly after grabbing some food and a couple of items (by the way, we’re not cat people — you’d think I’d have mentioned that by now) we brought the kitty home, where we stayed for a few hours. It was pretty clear that he was sick in the terms that we were used to — coughing and sneezing. But there was more wrong. I guessed that he either had ear mites or an ear infection since he still couldn’t “walk a straight line.” Knowing that he was starving, he still couldn’t eat or drink without having a sneezing fit. We decided to call around for an animal hospital that was open on a Saturday.

Luckily, we could get into the New Hartford Animal Hospital, so we quickly jumped in the car. He was on my lap, in a small new bed Dave had bought him, and quickly failing. While he was bothered by the car earlier, this time he was calm — thanks to the 1940s XM/Sirius radio channel (Sign #6 — what other cat likes oldies and classics?!).

Upon arrival, we brought the still-nameless cat to the exam room, where he was weighed, checked for a temp (nada), and eventually just taken from us. We had lots of questions, and the doctor was great. It turned out that his kidneys were already failing, so he was being put on an IV immediately, and given antibiotics for an upper-respiratory infection. In the end, he was hospitalized for several days, brought back for an emergency visit the next weekend (he wasn’t responding right to the medication), and we’ve been fearful about his health ever since, but that’s mostly because we’ve been on the look-out for issues.

But, he’s massively improved. Although he has had setbacks, we’ve got an appointment coming up (and I’m praying we won’t need to visit the ER before that!) to see what we might have missed. His breathing is still a little strained at times and his balance may never be perfect (he has a head tilt, too, that may be permanent — but it’s adorable and doesn’t bother him), but his personality and ability to show his gratitude and happiness is infectious. Oh, and he’s got a name — Beardslee. (Although, we call him “buddy” and I, especially, call him “Boo” ; I found out from my mother last weekend that, apparently, that was a nickname that people called my dad and, now, my brother. My dad passed away when I was young and I’d never heard the nickname. Sign #7)

And, I’m still concerned that we took him from some family. He’s a year old, has claws (and will continue to — we’re not declawing him; we DID get him fixed, however, but his “friendliness” and chubby testosterone-induced cheeks will stay with him forever) but never uses them, gets picked up without being too bothered, and is just the sweetest cat I’ve ever encountered. The nurses and doctors assured us that someone outgrew the “cute kitten” phase and made him an outdoor cat (or got rid of him) — an outdoor cat in the boonies, where male cats will chase female cats for literally many, many miles, only to get lost. He’d been in fights. He was on his death bed. I have to be resigned to the idea that he’s ours, that we spent a fortune (as Dave calls him, “the most expensive free cat EVER”, but we could care less about the cash) saving his life, that whomever had him before didn’t find him fast enough. *sigh* I’m even a little scared to post this in case the family happens upon it — but it needs to be announced, ‘cuz it’s HUGE for us.

We’ve learned a lot, especially as our future as parents. I’m the disciplinarian but the provider (usually of food, and I’m generally more attuned to his health issues); Dave’s the worrier but loves with 100% of his heart. Dave has also overcome some of the icky stuff of “parenthood” — potty time and the surprises brought on by illness. We’re working on giving him enough attention but still maintaining our relationship; for awhile there, his illness was ALL we thought about, talked about, worried about. Took a bit of a toll, but it’s a healthy, good lesson to learn.

So, help us welcome Beardslee to the McCoy-Dellecese household. We hope he’ll be here to add continued humor and warmth (and countless other positives!) to our family for many years to come!