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Mar 31, 2010

Would I Like Some Cheese with My Whine?

My babies are still sick. Sam, I think, is on the mend in response to his nebulizer while Lena is at the beginning of what I pray remains only a cold. Sam woke last night for about ten minutes with a coughing fit. Lena woke for two hours around 3:00 am because she can't breathe through her tiny little, mucus seeping nose.

I cannot breathe AT ALL through my big, straight, mucus-blowing nose. It's like two corks are plugging the damn thing up. The amoxicillin and steroid nasal spray are not working fast enough . I fear I will never again know the pleasure of deeply inhaling the fresh smells carried on the waves of spring breezes or the beauty of non-flaking, flesh-colored (as opposed to bright red) nostrils.

If we miss the first warm Easter weekend in Newcomerstown to come along in years (including the pound of bacon I plan to consume and the rolled roast we all plan to devour) because one or more of us get sicker; I will just sit down and cry, which will make my nose clog up more, causing me to blow it more, exacerbating the painful, flaking, redness of my nostrils, which may start up the crying process all over again...

Could I get any more whiny and pitiful, I ask you?

Mar 28, 2010


I have a lot to catch up on, but I absolutely must start with this post. Lena and I just watched the last 15 minutes of Rudy, one of the best sports movies, nay, best movies ever, bar none.

I am decidedly a sports movie junkie. A few of my favorites are all of the Rocky movies (except for V, which all of us who love Rocky refuse to acknowledge), Remember the Titans, School Ties, Jerry Maguire, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Miracle, The Cinderella Man, 61, Hoosiers...anything that includes an inspiring sports story, well, they have me at hello. I cannot help myself. I'm a sucker for inspiration.

But that Rudy makes me cry every time I see it, which has got to be pushing at least 20 times now. When he runs out on the field during the final game, he's so much smaller than everyone else and has worked so hard to get there. His family and friends are screaming their heads off for him and then he sacks their quarterback in the final seconds and everybody in the stands goes apeshit. Then the team lifts him up on their shoulders and the story ends with that image and the announcement that no man has ever been carried off the field can't get much better than that!

All I have left to say is RUDY, RUDY, RUDY!

Mar 24, 2010

Three Beautiful Things

I'm exhausted from staying home from work with poor sick Sam and still healthy Lena, which is much harder work than my office job. So what better time to do a three beautiful things.

1. Sam and Lena both fell asleep on me today. Those precious moments are gone so fast.

2. Trying on my wedding dress (inspired by "Say Yes to the Dress") and finding that it's too big. That's the beautiful thing. The not so beautiful thing is the realization that I must have been fat for my wedding...blagh. Was totally oblivious to that fact.

3. I spent a lot of years questioning and worrying about what my purpose was and asking God to show it to me. He did when he sent me Sam and, later, Lena. My purpose is being a mother. That's the most beautiful thing.

Mar 21, 2010


I know a lot of people who never knew their grandparents. Rich doesn't remember any of his much, if at all. Many of my friends have sketchy memories of one, maybe. I'm a lucky one. I still have two grandparents with me, was very close to my other two, and have memories (some stronger than others) of all four of my great-grandparents. That's a rare and beautiful thing.

Saltines with butter, poker chips, tootsie rolls, hospital beds, black licorice, leg braces, metal porch swings, big hugs, fishing stories...these are some images and smells and tastes that are conjured up when I think of my great grandparents.

Black iron cats with green marble eyes (kind of like these), Easter egg hunts, hams basted in soda, Thurns wieners and The Price is Right, plastic squeaky toys in the upstairs sun room, fishing for seaweed in the creek bed, strange fossiled garden stones I thought were treasures, canister vacuums...from the deep well of memories of days spent with my grandparents, these are but a few shallow favorites.

Sam and Lena never met my Papa, who would have adored them and been generous with his whisker kisses. Sam has a couple of pictures with Nan before she died. Even in the half absent state of dementia in which she was trapped by then, seeing Samuel sparked something in her. I'll never forget that. And both Sam and Lena visit Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Kraft about once a month. Grandma witnessed Lena's first roll over while we were there modeling her baptismal gown. That was a special moment shared with her great-grandma.

And then there's Sam and Lena's Grammy and Papa Barker and Grammy and Papa Cole, who they both can't get enough of. Just the mention of their names will bring Sam immediately out of a crying fit and brighten his mood. He has pretend conversations with his Papas on the phone. And even though he won't say grammy very often, you can plainly see that he adores both of them as he runs to greet them with his arms wide open and a giant toothy smile on his face. Lena is just a baby, but you can see her joy as she smiles and kicks and talks up a storm when she's with her grandparents. It's a treat to get to watch her with them.

So it was this weekend when Grammy and Papa Cole came for a long overdue visit. Sam had so much fun playing with them outside all morning on Saturday and showing off all his toys, especially his toot toot. And Lena was all smiles and giggles as she did the same. I like to think of my kids looking at these pictures as they grow up, reminiscing about special times with their grandparents much like Lori and I do. Building these memories for them is one of my favorite parts of being a parent.

Mar 17, 2010

Three Beatiful Things

Three (or more) beautiful things I'm thankful for today:
  1. A sunny, 62 degree Wednesday in mid-March.
  2. The St. Patrick's Day parade right outside my office window.
  3. Sam's milky bedtime kisses (he has to take a drink of milk before he can muster up the energy to kiss us all goodnight).
  4. Old Navy sales.
  5. Memories of a fun day with Mom and Lori.
  6. Rich's goodbye kiss every morning and his hello kiss every evening.
  7. My job - the people it allows me to spend time with and the money it provides for my family.

Mar 16, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon...

Mom came for a visit today. We all celebrated her birthday, had a nice lunch out, did a little shopping (yes, with the kids), and played in Lori's backyard all afternoon. Lena even had her first big-girl swing ride! She was kicking her feet and talking up a storm the whole time, but never cracked a smile. She was very serious about her swinging.

Oh yeah, and this evening, Sam POOPED ON THE POTTY!
So, all in all, it was a full, fun, exciting day of sunshine, family, laughs, and POOP!

Mar 14, 2010

A Pretty Nice Little Sunday...

Sam loved the rock and roll music at the late service this morning (we just couldn't get it together for the 9:30 service with the time change). Sam was dancing on the pew and clapping his little slobbery hands, Lena was squeeling along to the tunes and kicking her feet, and Rich and I enjoyed Ryan's sermon. It was a nice, reenergizing departure from our usual service.

Then we met Lori and the boys at Bob Evans for a fun, loud lunch. I nursed Lena in the van before we went in, which was a comedy of errors as I crawled (and tripped) over the divider twice, hiked up my dress to my shoulders, nearly dropped Lena on the floor as I struggled to get us situated in the far back seat and then had to compose us both so we could go into the restuarant with no one the wiser. She somehow fell asleep at the table with all the boys poking at her and Sam screaming "Rori" (Lori) and "Ack" (this is what he calls all the boys, Jack, Dylan, and Grant alike) every 5 minutes.

Then it was home and naps for everyone.

That's a great Sunday, if you ask me.

Mar 11, 2010

Temptation and the Heimlich Averted

Sam got one thing from his mother, at least. He loves bacon. And, as we are all fully aware, I gave up bacon for Lent.

Well, I just made some bacon for Sam's breakfast this morning and, first triumph, I didn't eat any of it. I'm so proud of myself. Not so proud that I seriously considered licking the burning hot pan with bacon grease in it, but that was but a fleeting moment...

Second triumph, Sam started choking on a piece of bacon. Like really choking. Scared me to death. He was coughing and gagging and drooling. I took him out of his highchair and had my fist on his stomach about ready to thrust up when he worked it up himself. Good Lord. Then he chewed up what he was choking on, pointed to his chair and said, "More". Thank God that was but a fleeting moment, too.

Mar 10, 2010

Day at the Zoo

Planning our day at the zoo sounded something like this.

Me: "It's supposed to be sunny and maybe warm on Tuesday. I might take the kids to the zoo. You should take the day off and we can all go together. Soak up some vitamin D. Get poor Sam out of the house and show poor Lena what the outdoors looks like. Breathe in some fresh air. They might not have a lot of animals out, but there should be enough to keep us occupied for the day. We could go in the morning so we can leave around Sam's naptime. Wonder what time they open...I can pack us some lunch and we can eat by the pond. Doesn't that sound great? I wonder if the polar bears are there yet. I bet Sam will love them. Wonder if Lori wants to go. I'll call her and see. So, what do you think?

Rich: "Sounds good."

I love my husband. I'm a talker, mumbler, verbal meanderer, chatterer, out-loud thinker. He's not. And he doesn't mind that I am (at least he never says he does).

Here are some pictures of our fun, sunny, wonderful day at the zoo yesterday.

Mar 8, 2010

Friends to the Core

"My grandma might be dying and I’m driving up to see her”, Jen informed me over the phone on Friday. Is it wrong that I felt excited about that? Not excited about Grandma Hawk being sick - that part sucks. I was excited that Jen, my long lost Carolina-living best friend who I haven’t seen in over 6 months, was coming home. This is the longest I think we've ever gone without seeing each other so, without hesitation, Lena and I packed light and blazed a trail for Newcomerstown, leaving Rich and Sam behind to have a girl-free, boys’ weekend at home.

When Jen makes her all too infrequent trips to Newcomerstown, it means the three of us (Jen, Tara and I) get together and talk until our throats hurt, eat until we fear we might have permanently damaged our intestines, and laugh until we nearly pee ourselves. It’s a beautiful thing.

It was a short visit. After Tara and Lena congratulated each other on their recent baptisms, and after Lena and Jen were finally introduced; the three of us headed to my parents’ kitchen and assumed our usual positions: me sitting on the counter eating chocolate, Tara sitting on the stool in the corner eating smarties, and Jen twisting herself into contortionist positions to push the corner of the counter top into some painful pressure point nagging her back from her long drive home.

And we talked.

And we ate (although not as much as usual).

And we laughed.

Even with all the crazy shit Jen has going on right now with her grandma and her family and her jobs, and with the pressures Tara’s family has felt with Gregg out of work and finally finding a new job (thank God), and with me having two tiny kids and working and feeling inadequate in every aspect…even with all of that crap piled up in our minds and all of the physical distance that separates us most of the year; we picked up right where we left off. It’s as if no time has passed when we’re together, like we’ve bridged the space/time continuum. Even though we’re in our mid-30’s (who said that?), when we’re together we are those three idiots in high school talking about boys and parents and God and life and laughing about it all.

We are each other’s oldest friends. We know every aspect about each other’s childhoods and adolescences and college years, because we’ve been best friends since third grade. And even though we don’t know what goes on day-to-day in each other’s lives much, we know each other to the core. Relationships like that are a rare and precious thing.

So is the realization that the truck stop's food, while still as yummy and greasy as it used to be, takes as big of a toll on our mid-30's (who keeps saying that?) bodies as does mojitos and tequila shots...

Mar 5, 2010

Don Henley was made for days like this...

Sunshine is my elixir of life. Below is an excerpt from my book (surely to be revised), inspired by today’s gorgeous weather.

"…I missed my home. One thing I hadn’t missed about Ohio, however, was the weather, which I loathed five months of the year. Gone was the sunshine soaked paradise of beach living and, in its place was Ohio, where winter is a houseguest from hell, perpetually hanging around and sucking the life out of me until my sanity unravels. But just as the last string of lucidity threatens to loosen, the sun shines and winds me back up. That's what makes this place special. Because, while Ohio operates under constant cloud-cover from November to March, when the sun finally does make an appearance, it’s a day not squandered. In a place where even April may bring showers, sun and blizzards all in the same week, the first clear day that reaches a balmy 45 degrees is a day met with tee shirts and gleefully long drives with the windows down, the heater on full blast, and Don Henley singing about 'Boys of Summer', which just may be the most liberating and exhilarating experience in existence to an Ohioan..."

Mar 4, 2010

Mommy’s Little Piggy

Lena ate her first big people food last night. Well, it was rice cereal and breast milk, not exactly “big people food”, but as close as she’s gotten to it so far.
She was dwarfed in the big highchair, which Sam was not thrilled about sharing.
When we started shoveling it in, she made the funniest faces, but ended up eating almost the whole bowl. It was a hit! Rich got some videos, but here are a few pictures of the big event. Of course, I cried a little – what is with me?

Mar 3, 2010

Devil, Thy Name is Wendy's

The devil has taken over Wendy’s and he’s tempting and taunting me with commercials, I swear it. First Wendy’s new salad commercial comes on with applewood smoked bacon falling from the sky into a huge bowl of yummy veggies and cheese crumbles. Then their bacon blue burger commercial follows it, displaying the mouthwatering burger with blue cheese and, you guessed it, more crispy bacon. I’m dying here. I’m drowning in my own saliva as I watch images of bacon dance in front of my eyes. I’ve even gone as far as to consider buying “Beggin Strips” dog treats, because I feel such a kinship to that manic dog running around the house trying to find the source of the bacon smell. He looks so satisfied when his owner gives him a Beggin Strip – might I find the same satisfaction? It wouldn’t really be cheating, right? It’s not really bacon, right? God wouldn’t be disappointed if I ate something that resembled bacon during my Lenten bacon fast, right?

Am I honestly trying to talk myself into eating dog food? Get a grip, woman! DEVIL, THY NAME IS WENDY’S!

Mar 1, 2010

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

Sometimes small, simple things come from big places. This song is the incarnation of that idea – a little, effortless song from a really big dude named IZ. You can listen to the song and see this gentle giant at the link below, which is a video celebrating his life (he died in the late 1990's).

Rich and I fell in love with this song on our honeymoon in Maui as we drove along the lean island roads with the top down, rays of sunshine warming our faces as it beamed through the thick canopy of the bamboo forest, the lush emerald green volcanic mountains dwarfing us as we wound our way up the road to Hana. Every time I hear this song it brings those images and smells and feelings back in waves and warms my soul.