Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hey Stupid, It's Me, God and My Son is coming

I'm not supposed to use the word stupid as Aurora reminds me when I slip, but that is how I felt tonight as the importance and weight of the Christmas season hit me full scale tonight.

I'm going to try to sum this up fairly quickly but if you have read some of my random posts before, you know that isn't my speciality.

It all started back in October.  My step-grandmother passed away, Gramma Harriet.  She was an amazing woman.  I'm not going to lie, although I loved her and appreciated her and her love for my children and thought she was a fantastic person, I wasn't incredibly close with her. It did hurt to see her go. Seeing my stepmom's, Jackie, sadness was hard.  Seeing my stepsisters' sadness hard.  Seeing the rest of the family's pain was hard.  It hurt, it still does.  Gramma Harriet had been living with my dad and Jackie for several years now.  I know this Christmas will be different for them.  Gramma loved chocolate covered pretzels.  I loved making them for her for Christmas.  There wasn't much she needed, and I loved making snacks she loved.  Last week Jackie and my dad had to put down one of their dogs.  It has been a rough fall for Jackie.  I could hear the sadness and pain in her voice. I just wanted to hand her happiness.

Backtracking again, the weekend after Gramma's funeral we went back home, to my in-laws, for the opening weekend of archery season.  We were blessed that Jacob got a small deer that weekend.  I was not mentally prepared for what we came home to Sunday evening at around 9pm in the evening we walked into an oddly humid house.  The humidity turned out to be from water spraying from a hot water pipe that had burst.  From the amount of water it looked it it burst the second we walked out he door 2.5 days ago.  It burst in our main bathroom which is on the first floor (the only bathroom we really use) and spread into the hallway and our bedroom extensively.  It had also done damage to the kitchen and dining room floors as well.  Jacob had just painstakingly repaired and refinished our bedroom hardwoods in April.  They were destroyed.  The water has rained into our basement all weekend destroying my "pantry", all the drywall in the basement, boxes of stored items, boxes of gifts prebought for Christmas, the bathroom in the basement and we would later figure out our washer.
So that happened.  Insurance is covering it.
After having multiple frustrating and failed experiences trying to find contractors, a flooring guy finally started to replace some of the hardwoods and refinish the rest this Monday.  Between Christmas and another baby coming around January 25, I decided the hardwoods were the most important because the moving of all the furniture would render most of our first floor (our bedroom, the dining room and the living room) unusable during the project and this needed done before the baby.  Although my bathroom has no drywall, vanity, sink or flooring, it has a toilet and bathtub so that is functional at least and only a one room project when we get to it.
The flooring guy and I worked out a schedule where the bedroom, hallway, dining room and living room would be done by Dec. 20 so we could move all the furniture back and get a tree up maybe a few days before Christmas.
I was feeling slightly depressed because I wanted to decorate but I had no time or space between preparing for moving everything in those rooms and those rooms being unusable but I kept telling myself after the work started I would decorate the upstairs where the kids' rooms are and the porch and entryway and kitchen and that this would be enough and WE WOULD GET A TREE UP in the livng room BEFORE CHRISTMAS!  
Late Monday night, early Tuesday morning, my father in law had a heart attack.  Thank God, he survived.  We were waiting to figure out what would happen next for him.  Then Tuesday afternoon, 5 minutes before I should pick Aurora up from school, in the middle of simultaneously starting dinner and unloading groceries, the flooring guy tells me that they found asbestos and he had torn out what was in the area he was working on that day but he thinks there is more in the kitchen and/or bathroom.  I am supposed to get Aurora, NOW, so I don't fully process but I know this is bad.
So he removed the asbestos and the rooms were taped off but the kitchen definitely wasn't fully taped off and he carried the bag full of and probably covered in asbestos dust through my kitchen, living room and entryway.
I pick up Aurora from school.  I talk to Jacob.  He says there is probably dust all over, get out of the house.  The dust shouldn't be disturbed.  Thank gosh Aunt Kelly has off work this week, talk about timing.  She normally works long hours.  We go to Kelly's.  Eventually Jacob goes home to assess the situation and call our Home Owners Insurance guy who is handling the claim from the pipe burst because the flooring work is a result of that.  After seeing dust everywhere he and the homeowners guy decide we shouldn't go in the house, we should get an asbestos test done.  I text Jacob a list of things I can think of that we need for a night or two.  On the way to meet me at Kelly's Jacob realizes the alternator in his car is going.  Between staying somewhere other than home and Aurora still going to school, we really can't be without the second car for too long. Jacob decides to drop it off at Pep Boys that night because they can have it done by the next day.
Wednesday.  Jacob's dad has a cath, they ballon him twice and put a stent in.  He does very well.  Thank God.  Someone comes to get a sample to test for asbestos.  Pep Boys says that it is just the battery, which would be a relief but Jacob doesn't really think that is the case. They insist that is all it was.  Wednesday night we do Aurora's gymnastics class and move to Jacob's grandmother's house (which is two down from his sisters' house).  Gramma's house is empty, she passed in June, but here are beds and heat and water and everything we need.
Thursday. Sample isn't back yet but I would really like in the house.  There is no more exposed asbestos currently except in the dust around the house.  We decide Jacob will wear a respirator and clean the house throughly so regardless of how long this process takes (complete removal and cleaning of remaining asbestos under the other floors that need redone) we can get back into our house for a few days and some things need done.  Keep in mind, I literally dropped everything when I left Tuesday, making dinner, there was a bowl of wheat and a bowl of yeast growing on the counter for dinner and groceries just sitting in the entryway.  That evening on the way home from work to clean the house, Jacob realizes he was right about the car.  Clearly this was not a battery issue.  The alternator is still bad.  And now we have to figure out another day without a car and appointments.  Cleaning is taking longer than Jacob expected. After Aurora's dance class I'm back at Jacob's grandmothers he is still at our house cleaning.  We are both stressed.  We are tense with each other.  I get the kids in bed and...

I just cry for the first time this week. I am sad, I'm not going to have my house back to normal at all before Christmas no matter how this situation moves forward.  I love the Christmas season.  Not Santa, or the presents. I love the smell of Christmas. I love the decorations around the house. I love the baking, the gift wrapping, the smell, the activities.  All these things are passing me by and I'm probably not even going to have a tree in my house.
Don't get me wrong, I have felt very blessed through all of this.  When the pipe first burst, my mother in law and Aunt Maryanne were at the house the next day helping me sort through things, clean, take care of my children and anything.  When things took a turn this week, my Aunt Kelly was off work and took us in her home, which was beautifully decorated for Christmas, she fed us.  She spoiled my children at Build A Bear.  She let us use her car for a day.  My sisters' in law made sure Gramma's house had clean sheets and was clean for my kids (Sarah is renovating to buy and move in eventually).  They had a small tree lit and decorated and even made it smell Christmasy.  There was a nativity out. They let my kids hang out at their house which is beautifully decorated  and make a mess. Tonight Erin watched Max so I didn't have to take him to Aurora's dance class (which was amazing, Jacob normally works late on this night so I am always chasing him) and when I got back Amanda (their roommate who is like and Aunt) bathed them for me.  Through out this whole thing, Jacob and I were thankful.  We know it could be worse.  Heck, at least we have a home that needs fixed.  But something was off.  I wasn't going to get to have what I love about about Christmas in my house but I was so blessed, why wasn't this enough.  I was wallowing in a cup of tea in Gramma's kitchen in her rocking chair listening to my favorite spiritual Christmas station on Pandora (Breath of Heaven, try it, is awesome, thank you Claudia Predis) and O Come O Come Emmanuel came on. I'm listening and as the REJOICE! REJOICE! Emmanuel Shall Come to you Oh Israel I realize, Jesus is coming! Jesus is being born! That is what we are celebrating.  Not only is this season not about Santa or gifts, it isn't about how I want to experience it. No matter what is going on, no matter where I am, whether or not I have a tree, we are still celebrating Jesus' birth and that is what is important.  Jesus is coming regardless and that is what I should be focusing on.  And we had already done the angel tree and some other special giving but somehow I hadn't connected the two.  It was just part of the Christmas season.  I had been talking to Aurora about the true reason for Christmas.  What we are really celebrating. I had told her this, but apparently it had been somewhat lost on me.  A light had been turned on. I have always known and seen people get caught up in the season and miss what the real meaning is and here I was doing the same thing over a tree and lights and smells and baking when Jesus is still coming.
Don't forget to just celebrate Jesus.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you got." Sheryl Crow Soak Up the Sun

So I haven't kept up with this like I wanted.... for over a year now. And it is killing me because I don't scrapbook or print pictures regularly (who does anymore other than my grandparents? And in light of my slacking, good for them!) and I want memories so this is probably the easiest thing for me to do for now.  So I've been meaning to get back to this for me but I have to admit I have had a little extra motivation.

My friend Nataly from The Busy Budgeting Mama is throwing this Ohio Valley Blogger Conference this Friday at Ikea. I love Nataly, I love an excuse to see her espeically since she moved to the other other side of the city, I love Ikea and she included these awesome swag bags (I don't yet know what is in them, but I'm sure it is a lot of awesomeness).  Oh, and then my wonderful friend Nicole whom I've know since high school is going too.  You can find her at being.messy.beautiful. So they both got on me and although I knew I was totally out of my league, I agreed to go.  Holy smokes, these ladies going are on top of their blog game so I am just going to smile and enjoy the company, food, drinks and swag bags. I'm secretly also hoping for a shopping discount....
I figure if I'm going to this thing I should at least get one post up right?

I'm all about the the simple moments... I think that is what my last blog post over a year ago was about, but a few Friday's ago I was reminded not only is about the small moments, but just enjoying what you have.  It really hit me that night.

We were going to have a simple night of grilling hot dogs and sausages for dinner and I made this awesome raw kale salad that is now one of our summer veggie favorites.  Jacob had been wanting to do a fire with the kids for a while and even though it was pretty warm, we did.  Then he thought, let's just grill the hot dogs and sausages over the fire.  We forgot we had long metal skewer so Aurora helped him find some sticks in the yard and he whittled the ends down and we put sausages and hot dogs on sticks to cook.

And the kids cooked and ate and played and cooked and ate and played and we all enjoyed the night and relaxed.  The absolute great part about this was that I forgot about the half of our yard, directly next to the patio we were playing on, which has been in shambles for close to a year. What was supposed to be a quick project, turned into a not so quick project and as Jacob took on a new role at work, that added to it taking even longer. For the past 10 months it had been hard for me to go outside and not think about getting the yard finished.  Here is the thing, it is mostly aesthetics.  The project thus far has given us a flatter yard with a nice concrete patio for the kids to play with ride on toys which they love and it gives us a sitting area around their play area which we and they love.  Also, despite about 1/3 of the yard being dirt, we have plenty of grassy yard left for the kids along with the patio.  It was so nice to have an evening where I didn't think about what still needed done, but I just enjoyed what was done, what was there.  Perhaps this was somewhat easier knowing that 1.5 weeks later the collapsed retaining wall would be replaced and that would allow us to do the rest of the yard... but I still learned something.
We ended the evening with Jacob spraying them with the hose to clean them off, which they loved and it it just turned into spraying fun.  So much fun, Jacob let them spray him too.
What a good time we had enjoying what we had.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Simple Moments are the Best No Matter Where You Are

Somehow on a day when Jacob is working over 12 hours (the only one so far while we are here mind you, so I can't complain) and we are in a hotel room my wonderful children have blessed me by napping at the same time for over an hour and counting already.  I'm not sure how I managed to accomplish this feat but it is wonderful and weird at the same time. At home I would be running around like a mad woman trying to accomplish every thing on my to-do list. Here, that list is pretty short and I find myself wondering what to do with my time.  It is glorious.  On a normal day at home, I would never dream of writing in the middle of day but here it seems like the perfect thing to do.
We have been here 2 weeks and day thus far and I have so much to share about our great trip.  We were scheduled to leave tomorrow but we have been having such a wonderful relaxing time we have decided to stay another week.  Jacob is here for work for another week and a half anyway so why not enjoy a little longer. I seriously thought with two kids in a hotel room I would be totally ready to go home after almost 2.5 weeks but other than a little hesitation about missing Easter, it seemed to make sense to stay.  I am really anxious to get the garden back home going but what is one more week when we have the opportunity to stay on vacation and be a whole family for another week.
We are all immensely enjoying spending so much time together without all the stresses of normal everyday things at home.  What has been most amazing to me is how no matter where we are, in Pittsburgh or Puerto Rico, some of my favorite memories are of such simple things. Yes, we love taking Aurora to the Pittsburgh Zoo and the Children's Museum and to the Rainforest and Aquarium here, but my favorite memories really are the everyday ones.  At home, of all of us snuggled on the bed together just talking and here Jacob and I so enjoyed our walk home from dinner and gelato where Aurora wanted to carry her ice cream cup and walk and eat back to the hotel.  We relished her walking and talking with a chocolate covered face and chocolate dripping down her dress.  And I think Jacob's favorite time was when were driving back to the hotel one day. We had stopped at a roadside produce stand and got some mini-bananas. Aurora was eating one in the back seat with the biggest smile on her face and the wind blowing in her hair.

So I'm home how. I started writing this when were still in Puerto Rico obviously but there were issues with picture uploading and a post without pictures seemed silly. So below are some of my favorite simple moments in Puerto Rico

Nap time:)

Easter Morning

Hiking in the Rain Forest.
I love my independent adventurous girl.  She climbed the Acropolis in Athens by herself (well not all the way but mostly) at less than 1 year old and she hiked almost all the way to and from the waterfall in El Yunque by herself.  For me this walk with her was more memorable than the waterfall…. could be partly due to the extremely high anxiety I was having over her falling in the water.

Taking it upon herself to do summersaults down the hill in front of  El Morro fort in Old San Juan.  

Waiting to see the Easter Bunny at the hotel. 

Cooling off in the spray from a fountain in Old San Juan. 

Enjoying dessert Easter Sunday. 

Despite my insistence that her brother's swim shirt would not fit her she just had to prove me wrong.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas From 3 to 4

We are a family of four.  There is something funny about it.  Jacob always considered us a family, even when it was just the two of us.  When Aurora made 3, it definitely felt more like a family.  We definitely considered ourselves a family and felt more like adults than we thought like we actually were.
But Max somehow makes it even more solidified now for us.  It is hard to describe… as we grow as a family, somehow we are more of a family. More love, more work, more stress, more fun… more of the good and hard but better.
I say more stress lightly now because Max is such a great baby.  The most stressful thing Max does is poop a lot.  Seriously a lot.  But other than that thus far he pretty much eats and sleeps.  When he is awake, unless he is actually hungry he is happy.
Aurora is doing wonderful. She spent most of the first day in the hospital with us and when given the choice in the evening to stay longer with mom and Max or go to dance class, she seemed torn. Dance class won but that is understandable.  Unfortunately that night she started the stomach virus that we all passed around eventually.

She is doing great with Max. She always wants to be around him and "help."  Her version of help and my version of help are two different things but she has good intentions.  The only way I noticed her reacting with any jealously was the first couple of days she became daddy's girl as I was constantly feeding, changing and tending to Max.  She became even more of daddy's girl than usual.  The stomach virus catching up with me on Christmas Eve night/Day did not help either.  I got out of bed to watch her open gifts and other than that and feeding Max, I was pretty much sleeping the rest of the day.  Max had got it too so he didn't mind sleeping with me. This is most of what my Christmas day was.  

Aurora resting up after a long couple of days. 

She did not want to hold Max for a while but finally she felt up to it. Awesome hair, I know.

Christmas Eve we spent with Jacob's cousins in Pittsburgh. I really appreciated being able to share Christmas Eve with family and be able to go home to our house. This was the first year that we were in the U.S. and didn't go to Erie/Girard/Conneautville for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Between having a 4 day old baby and wanting to spend Christmas morning in our own house, we decided it was a good year to start spending Christmas at our own home.  And although I was really looking forward to this, I was missing spending time with extended family so having family here in Pittsburgh to spend Christmas Eve with was great. This was great for Aurora too, she got to spend the night with her cousins and enjoy a visit from Santa.
Trying to spy Santa arriving.

Waiting for Santa

We let her open a few presents not from Santa on Christmas Eve. 

And we can finally go to bed.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Not in College Anymore

We had a fantastic weekend…. (a few weekends ago now) I mean Jacob had a Reserve weekend this weekend and that was kind of a bummer but I got to see some great college friends and go shopping… seriously how could that be bad. On top of that the weather was beautiful and Aurora had a good weekend too… minus the shopping.
Now when the some of my college friends get together, we enjoy kid friendly activities. Friday we enjoyed the beautiful weather at the zoo with Courtney and Carla, some friends from Gannon, and Carla's 16 month old son Mason.  Unfortunately I had not seen Courtney and Carla since the spring some time maybe.  I was worried I missed too much but there is something special about friends who cannot talk often enough and pick right back up where they left off. I'm bad at keeping in touch, sending cards of any kind, especially birthday and thank you's, so I whole heartedly appreciate friends (and family) who accept this about me and pick up like nothing has changed.
I love having a zoo membership. We can go and only get through 1/2 the zoo… or less and I don't feel obligated to stay to get my monies worth. I know I'll be back.  The Pittsburgh Zoo had a great… fantastic kids area.  This takes us a couple hours including play time.

I didn't get them in the picture but this guy loved Aurora's sparkly shoes.   

Between my back pain from the pregnancy and the lack of caffeine I was feeling pretty worn out by the time we were done with the kids area. Also, my husband was at home making a fresh shrimp lunch for us. Although he did not take us with him on his work trip to Florida that week, he did bring home some fresh, huge Gulf shrimp.  Aurora however was not ready to go so we checked out the sharks and polar bear before heading out.

That evening, I got to do something I don't do nearly enough. We had a ladies dinner at Cheesecake Factory with Courtney, Carla and Ashley joined us as well.  I'm not big on chain restaurants but Cheesecake Factory is one of the few exceptions.  I have never had a bad anything there. I managed a somewhat modest dinner so I could indulge in cheesecake and an unfortunately NA beverage after dinner.  As usual, all delicious! I had originally thought I would go out with the girls for a drink or two after dinner, me having juice or water of course.  I even thought I was going to make it to my wonderful cousin's anniversary party.  But by the time dinner was over and we did a quick trip to the mall, heavens sakes, it was almost 9pm!  I needed to stop at Home Depot and run to Giant Eagle to grab milk on the way home.  My loser self was not even up for a quick stop at a low key bar or running into the city to celebrate an Anniversary. I had throughly enjoyed the company but I just wanted to go home and lie on the couch.  I'm totally blaming that loser moment on the pregnancy. So I stopped at Home Depot, got distracted by the 75% shrubs and plants outside, grabbed what I needed, ran into GE for milk and went home laid on the couch and I think I might have passed out before 11pm.  If I didn't feel old already, which I did, the realization of how lame that was definitely rubbed it in.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I was pretty disappointed in myself while downloading hundreds, literally hundreds of photos from one of our cameras.  The other I didn't even get too. I can't believe I let this summer and majority of fall slip by with out documenting my daughters cuteness… and my belly which does seem impressively large.  Also, I'm upset I haven't shared some pretty kick butt recipes I've tried.  
I'm hoping that with shorter days, colder temperatures and gardening and harvesting (almost) over I'll stay up to date. I mean it is not like we have a whole upstairs to redo before Max MacGyver is scheduled to arrive in 8 weeks.  

Dance class has been exciting and stressful. Aurora learned she absolutely loves dance class and we have learned that she is not the prefect little angel we liked to believe she was. Turns out she has a hard time following directions, waiting her turn and keeping her hands (head and legs) to herself sometimes.  I have kept her involved socially with things like story and activity time at the library, play groups, swim class but I'm there for all them. We knew she was ready for an activity without me by her side but we didn't know how challenging it would be for all of us.  It has been 2 months of an hour once a week of ballet, tumbling and tap.  The first few weeks I thought it was just an adjustment period but it didn't get too much better after 3 weeks then Jacob had the opportunity to start coming and he was worried we were horrible parents.  So the next few weeks were filled with what to do and what not to do conversations before dance class and Aurora screaming like we had just beat her post dance class when we would not let her have the sucker they hand out after every class.  Risking jinxing all progress that has been made… the last couple weeks have been better.  The extent of not keeping hands (thankfully just hands) to herself is when she is trying to grab another girls hands to get her to dance with her. And the following the teacher (who is great) is getting better too.  These pictures are from last week when they had a Halloween party.

Look how well she is listening!

Attempting the wheelbarrow. 

Sitting on the bench waiting her turn!

Practicing tapping
Happy Halloween! Here is the cutest witch.