Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Happy Earthly Birthday

Today is Agnes’ first birthday. She would be one year old. I remember the day of her birth vividly, the anxiety, the fear of the unknown, the discomfort, and the excitement at the end of the labor when Agnes decided she had to be born Right Now. The pain. The anger that I couldn’t see her right away. Asking again and again when would I get to see my baby.

This past year has been a roller coaster of extreme highs and extreme lows. Caring for Agnes at home was fraught with high pressure need for attention to detail. Caring for Agnes in the hospital often became our routine. The hospital was our second home. The medical and social work staffs became like family for us.

The past week leading up to this date have been difficult for us; we have been sad and dreading today. Now that it’s here, I’m not sure how I feel. Maybe I’m relieved that the day is actually here and I don’t have to anticipate it any more. We made a loose plan to have a party to commemorate this day. We are buying an ice cream cake and my parents will come over. Today is a day to be simply endured; I can not hope to enjoy it. But I’m sure this first one will be the most difficult to endure. I know it will get easier with time.

In remembrance of Agnes, here is a link to her birth story.

Agnes will always be a huge part of our lives, and we will continue to mark her anniversaries of birth, on earth and into the heavenly kingdom. Agnes changed our lives, and her legacy continues to flourish through us and through all the people whose lives were affected by our little saint.

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Merry Christmas from Agnes in her cute booties.

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Stephen is Three!

100_2123This weekend we celebrated Stephen’s third birthday by throwing a little party. We were kind of organized about it, and put together a few casual activities like blowing bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and bowling with the plastic kid bowling set on the front patio. We made a table full of treats, and Stephen got to eat cake, and open presents, and play with his little friends. I would say the party was a success, though a more closely-structured activity may have been better for the group of kids we had. A more structured activity may have averted the inevitable three-year-old conflict. Oh well. Overall, I would say the party went well.

When we bought our house, the oven in the kitchen didn’t work, so we’ve been doing everything on the stovetop or in the little toaster oven. We were waiting for our tax refund to arrive before we bought a new oven. Well, we were able to get our new oven delivered and installed on Friday evening, so I was able to bake Stephen’s cake at home! It was the very first thing (and so far, only) I made in the new oven. Sniff, how sweet! I had fully intended to buy a nice-looking cake from the grocery store bakery, but when I went to the store for party shopping, I noticed the box mixes and cans of frosting were all $1.00 each. I know, I know, box cake mix. But Stephen doesn’t care if I baked his birthday cake from scratch and frankly, I had a number of other things to do, so I made him a cake for $2.00 and decorated it with candy I already had. You can’t beat that. And of course, he loved it! Blowing out the candle did take two tries because one of his little friends ran up and blew it out the first time. We relit the candle and Stephen had a turn. He blows like he’s saying “ffff” which isn’t very effective at creating a breeze, so I helped. He’s a hoot.

100_2125Stephen was looking forward to his birthday for at least a week, and he would show anyone who asked how old he was going to be. Three fingers. The morning of his party he asked to eat cake for breakfast. He knows that’s ridiculous, too, because he asks very quietly and looks embarrassed when we ask him to repeat the request because we didn’t hear it. He’s very cute. Even today as we eat the leftover party treats, he holds up the grape or the strawberry or the piece of cheese and says, “this was for my birfday!” He is still talking about his party and how he had a “birfday.” OurĀ friends and family gave Stephen some very thoughtful gifts for his special day. Jeremy’s parents shipped him one of those bikes with no pedals, and the kid is supposed to push itĀ along with his feet. Stephen is kind of nervous to ride it, so we don’t have any documentation of his bike enjoyment yet, but we’re hoping he gains confidence quickly. The little boy who lives next door jumped right on and rode around, so we’re thinking of inviting him back to show Stephen how to do it!

100_2130I can’t believe Stephen is already three years old. When I think back to what my life was like when he was born, it seems like a life that belonged to a different person! So much has happened since then. We’ve moved twice to two different states. I quit working full time, then quit working part time. We had a miscarriage, then another baby, then that baby died. Jeremy changed careers. We have a new house. We’ve become Byzantine Catholic after a life of Roman Catholicism. So much has happened since Stephen was born, and he’s rolled with it the whole way. He is so good-natured and easy-going. Of course he has unreasonable toddler moments, but we are so blessed to have such a wonderful little guy in our lives. He is smart and funny and helpful, he does cute stuff and has interesting ideas, he makes me smile and cry.

Happy birthday, Stephen. Mommy and Daddy love you! And your baby sister Agnes loves you! And all your grandparents love you! And everyone else…you know how you feel about my kiddo.

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Treasure Every Moment

Today we had to eat lunch and we served spaghetti with meatballs, and a glass of milk, and this was just totally unacceptable to Stephen. I think the underlying issue was that he wanted to keep watching “Yo Gabba Gabba” videos, but he came upstairs willingly enough when I told him it was time for lunch. Anyway, when we tried to sit him down to eat, he pitched a fit to end all fits. Jeremy and I ate our delicious lunch while Stephen rolled and screamed and cried on the floor, and we got to talking about how this was probably one of those moments we are supposed to cherish. “Cherish each moment; they grow up so fast.” Yadda yadda. Then I decided I should take a picture of Stephen throwing a tantrum so I could post it online and be like, “treasure every moment, ha ha. Even this one? ha ha.” So I got out the camera and Stephen was like:

I noticed you were trying to capture an action shot.

I noticed you were trying to capture an action shot.

Then I told him to lay down on the floor and cry some more because I was trying to put together a really good, snarky type of blog post. So then he was like:

Actually, I think this is funny.

Actually, I think this is funny.

At this point I realized that the take-a-picture thing might actually be able to snap him out of his fit, so I was like:

Now mommy wants to take a picture of you eating. Come sit on your chair.

Now mommy wants to take a picture of you eating. Come sit on your chair.

So he did. And he ate.

Isn't it fun to eat your lunch?

Isn’t it fun to eat your lunch?

Then we tried another one:

Now mommy wants to take a picture of you drinking your milk like a big boy.

Now mommy wants to take a picture of you drinking your milk like a big boy.

And all this time, Agnes was over in her crib, not wanting to be left out of the fit-pitching fun:

Waa. It's my three-month birthday and no one is serving me cake! Waa.

Waa. It’s my three-month birthday and no one is serving me cake! Waa.

Happy three-month birthday to Agnes! She is doing well at home and we are all getting used to her being here. The night nursing is going well and Jeremy and I are thinking all our future kids should be trach babies so we can sleep through the night.

 

 

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What I Wore Sunday: June 2 Happy Birthday!

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for What I Wore Sunday.

 

Today is my birthday! Yay! So far to celebrate my birthday, in no particular order:

1) I finished the Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake and ate a slice. Mmmmm. So delicious.

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2) Stephen escaped the house two times through the back door. He opens the real door, opens the screen door, climbs the steps up into the garage, opens the back door that goes to the back yard, runs around the garage and into the front yard, where Jeremy saw him through the window on the first occasion. Then we decided to keep the door locked. But. On the second occasion, it took a while for me to notice the lack of baby sounds and start looking. I saw him through the window standing in the street with the neighbor lady from across the street. So now I have an escape artist baby and neighbors who think I’m an irresponsible mother. Anyway, I do feel like an irresponsible mother. It could have turned out so much worse and I’m still recovering from the horror.

3) Jeremy bought me the Pioneer Woman‘s second cookbook. Yay! What you may not know is that I read cookbooks cover to cover like novels. The Pioneer Woman cookbook is like a novel with pictures. She does beautiful step-by-step photos of every recipe. I’m excited to have this on my shelf. And my mom bought me a big billowy dress that is exactly what I need for these hot summer days being extremely pregnant.

4) We went to church at Holy Ghost. This is what I wore:

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This maybe should have been first on my list, but important things first. Cake. First. Always.

Here’s that dress from Walmart again. I do really like it. And a short sleeved sweater to cover the shoulders, which I bought several years ago at Target. and my black head scarf again. I do want to chat with Fr. Sal about the practice of women covering their heads and whether that’s a common thing in the Eastern church or not. I do like to do it, but no one else at Holy Ghost does. That doesn’t necessarily mean no Eastern Catholics do, but I’m not sure! Do any of my lovely readers know about the practice of women veiling in the Byzantine traditions?

I’m also wearing my pink shoes with the flowers on the toes, but you can’t really see them through the grass. I bought those at Target, too, which is apparently the only place I seem to buy new clothing…

Look, there’s Stephen in the background trying to run away.

 

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7 Quick Takes: June 1

Once again, I am doing the Friday Quick Takes link up with Conversion Diary on a Saturday. Because I am totally in control of my own life. Ha. Ha ha.

1. I didn’t do a blog post yesterday because we were really busy getting today’s garage sale together. We spent a large portion of the day rooting through the basement for boxes of shtuff, organizing said shtuff in the garage, setting up tables, drawing signs and figuring out prices, going to the bank to change $20’s for dollar bills and quarter rolls. Oh, wait, the bank doesn’t have rolls of quarters today? Well…uhh…I really kind of needed the quarters…fine just give me more ones. Grr.

2. At least our lack of quarters wasn’t a big deal, because we had a total of maybe twelve customers all day. We made $54 in profits. That includes the sale of a $20 sofa. What a bust. I think it was a combination of factors, not least of which is the more-or-less country location of my parent’s neighborhood. Another factor was probably that we didn’t put an ad in the local paper, relying instead on a Craigslist ad and street signs. Another factor was probably that we were trying to sell a ton of junk. But it wasn’t a wasted effort because that stuff needed to leave the house anyway. We were prepared to just donate it all to the Goodwill in the first place, so any money we make selling items really is a bonus. We are just thrilled someone bought that sofa. That in itself was totally worth all the effort we put into the garage sale project.

3. I’m still pregnant! This is a big deal for me because I’ve already been mentally and emotionally prepared to give birth on three separate occasions. Hopefully Agnes can hang on for another week or two. On the other hand, I had no idea how exhausting it would be for me to live like this, thinking I can be sent to labor and delivery at any moment. I almost want to just get it over with already; at least that we can be finished with the not-knowing-what-to-expect part and move on to the finding-out-answers-and-dealing-with-things part of raising a baby with medical problems.

4. Speaking of still being pregnant, I just have to share this even though I risk veering into the TMI department. Two nights ago I woke up at 1:20am like “Oh my gosh, Jeremy wake up. I think my water just broke.” I was not thrilled to say the least. So I grabbed some fresh p.j.’s and hobbled down the hall to the bathroom, and it turns out my only issue was related to that huge glass of water I drank right before going to bed, if you catch my meaning. I stood around and walked a bit just to make sure I wasn’t leaking amniotic fluid after all, then I went back to bed. So on the one hand, super glad we didn’t have to book it to the hospital in the middle of the night again (like with Stephen’s birth). But on the other hand, embarrassed about reliving early childhood night time bladder problems. I know these things happen when you’re pregnant, especially when you already have an adorable tot to thank for even weaker bladder control. But. Still. Embarrassed.

5. I’ve been baking like a fiend again. I usually do this when I’m feeling stressed about life. I finally baked those peanut butter bars I posted about last week, I did chocolate gelato earlier this week, and I made scones for breakfast yesterday. Tonight still I’m going to bake a pound cake. I don’t necessarily see this habit of mine as a bad thing, but it does tend to fill up the kitchen with more bakery than I should really be eating. It’s a good thing I’m “eating for two” and that I live with my parents, and Jeremy, and a toddler whose fledgling vocabulary does include the remarkably well-pronounced “coo-kie” and “cake.”

6. I’m baking the pound cake for myself because tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 29. Both Jeremy and my mom have said, “Don’t you want someone to make something for you on your birthday? Why are you baking your own cake?” I am baking my own cake because then I can pick what flavor I want, and I know it will taste awesome. Because I bake a mean cake. My family can cook dinner for me or something on my birthday, but I want to do my own cake. It’s going to be Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake with a Lemon Syrup brushed on the cake to soak in. My birthday is going to be amazing.

7. Jeremy and I met with Fr. Sal about Agnes’ baptism, which I am really excited about. The Eastern Catholics do baptism, chrismation, and holy communion all at once for babies, so Agnes will be able to receive Eucharist at Divine Liturgy! The theology behind this practice is we know Eucharist is wonderful and good for people to have. We don’t want to withhold that goodness from children. It’s like a mother feeding her newborn; the newborn doesn’t have to understand how and why her mother is feeding her in order to benefit and grow and be nourished. It’s the same with us and the Eucharist. It is a holy mystery and even adults can’t fully understand the miracle. The Eastern Catholic tradition emphasizes a child’s first confession as the milestone sacrament, whereas the Latin Rite emphasizes first holy communion. It’s a difference, and one that I am excited about embracing. Since babies do receive all three sacraments in one shot, so to speak, there is the possibility we can get Stephen caught up as well! Fr. Sal is going to check for us what we would have to do or if Stephen can even go ahead and receive chrismation and start receiving communion. He’s right on the edge, though, and he might be old enough now that he would have to wait until “age of reason,” but I don’t know what the custom is for Eastern Catholic. I’m anxious to hear what Fr. Sal finds out!

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Stephen Meets His Brobee Cake

Here are the pictures I promised yesterday.

There is an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba where it’s Brobee’s birthday and all the other characters throw a surprise party for him. The “cool tricks” segment even features a chef who bakes a cake that looks like Brobee. It’s pretty much life-size because I guess monster puppet people eat a lot of cake. Anyway, at the party, the cake walks in [walks in!] and says, “Hi, I’m Brobee Cake. Do you want a piece of me?” It was hilarious and a little creepy and that is all that I could think about the entire time I was baking Stephen’s cake, decorating it, and each time I eat a slice. [“Do you want a piece of me?”]

"I think I know that guy."

“I think I know that guy.”

"It's Boy-ee." [Brobee]

“It’s Boy-ee.” [Brobee]

It's delicious. See what a dainty eater I am.

It’s delicious. See what a dainty eater I am.

 

 

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My Baby Boy

Today my baby boy turned two years old! Now we can officially stop counting his age in months. “Oh, how old is your little boy?” people would say. “Um, well…he’s…[counts in head] 22 months,” we would awkwardly respond. Or we would just say, “He’s almost two.” And now we can simply say he’s two. What a relief!

To celebrate his birthday, I baked a cake. We have been running non-stop getting ourselves settled, so in my exhaustion I only managed to put together a sheet cake from a box mix. I figure it’s good enough for a toddler. I did make the frosting from scratch though, because I wanted to do at least a little something special for my big boy’s second birthday. He really loves the Nickelodeon show Yo Gabba Gabba, and the character Brobee in particular. He even says “Brobee” [“boy-ee”] as one of his choice dozen words that he regularly uses. So I managed to decorate his birthday cake with Brobee:

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I used Stephen’s Brobee toy as a model. I whipped up the frosting and tinted some of it green with food coloring, then I bought a can of red frosting and some black writing gel. The last time I tried to tint frosting red at home, it just got pinker and pinker and never went toward red. So I cheated this time. I used dark green sugar sprinkles to make the stripes. Stephen liked the cake. He definitely recognized the picture and of course he tore into his piece with gusto. I did get pictures of Stephen with his cake, but the cable I need to upload pics from the camera is upstairs and I’m feeling way to lazy to go get it. I will post them soon, I promise. For presents, Stephen got a card full of money from Uncle David, which we took to the toy store and used to buy a fancy toy. I’ll post a picture of that soon, too. We haven’t unwrapped the new toy yet since Stephen needed to be thrown in the bath right away and giving him a new toy right before bath time ranks right up there with Really Bad Ideas.

Stephen is really enjoying hanging out in our new home. He gets to play with two kitties [“Ki-ki”] and Quinn the Dog [“Wouf-wouf”]. He gets to run around in the large yard and feel the grass tickle his ankles. He gets to sprint up and down the driveway and get boo-boos on his chin from tripping and falling. He gets to see Grandma and Grandpa every day and then be very heartbroken when they leave for work in the morning without him.

We are trying to establish a new routine. I do apologize for not keeping up my posting schedule, but it’s being hard enough for me to remember to take my medicine every day and make time in the morning for our family rosary, much less remember to write a blog post in the evening. We have been super productive around the house since the last time I posted, though:

We’ve nearly finished painting our room. All that’s left is the final coat on one of the window frames and the other half of the closet door.

We rehung the closet bar and brought our clothes dressers up to the room. We filled the closet with our clothes, so now we don’t have to live out of suitcases and wear the same outfit three times in one week! Woo-hoo!

We cleaned out Stephen’s room and assembled his crib. We assembled our bed. We laid out area rugs in both our bedrooms.

We unloaded two of our four U-boxes and started replacing the contents with items my parents have consented to sell at a yard sale. Jeremy and I hope to hold the sale Saturday May 18. Sorry, no antiques, just old stuff.

We are well on our way, working furiously. Hopefully after the next couple days we can slow down a little, because, man am I tired!

 

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Happy Birthday! Surprise Party!

I was so proud of myself this week. I managed to plan a surprise birthday party for Jeremy’s 40th birthday, and I didn’t give anything away, and he didn’t suspect anything was up, and he was surprised. I’ve been working on it for a week, emailing our friends and shopping for party supplies, and cooking extra food all on the sly. Shazam.

100_1530At least Jeremy already knew I was baking a super-fabulous cake, so I didn’t have to be sneaky about that. I ended up making a coconut cake from a recipe in The New Best Recipe (that book again. I’m not linking it again). Jeremy wanted chocolate frosting, so I took the coconut frosting in the recipe and added two squares of unsweetened bakers chocolate. Then I toasted some coconut and sprinkled it all over the cake. So pretty. So delicious. O my gosh o so delicious it was so good and so delicious and coconut chocolate it was amazing.

100_1553Let me just lick up the drool. Sorry. I didn’t actually run into any major problems when I was baking this cake. I think the cakes did fall in the oven because I opened the oven to rotate the pans and they weren’t quite baked as far as they should have been at that point. They firmed up well after that, but the damage was done. They still tasted great, but they looked a little flat. And because they were a bit on the thin side, it was really difficult to split the layers to make a four-layer finished cake. The first cake I tried to split almost fell apart; thank God for frosting repair. So I just put the second cake on un-split. A little unconventional, but still acceptable.

100_1534As for the rest of the party, I didn’t try to go too fancy on the set up. I just had some friends come over and congregate on the lawn outside our building. Then at the appointed time, I had Jeremy “go outside to take a look at this” and the group said, “Surprise!” He was surprised. Then everyone came up and we had dinner. I was agonizing how I would explain to Jeremy why I was preparing two pounds worth of chicken taco meat, but it turned out I never had to lie. He took the car to the shop and to the carwash this afternoon so I had plenty of time to cook the chicken in the microwave, chop it up, and hide it in the oven where it kept warm for the rest of the afternoon. During that crucial time frame, I also stuck the secret pop two liters in the freezer to get them a head start, then hid them in the cooler we keep under the kitchen sink, chilling with a bag of ice cubes and a couple sacks of frozen veggies.

One of our friends suggested we do a pinata, so she graciously brought one along. The kids had a lot of fun beating the heck out of it.

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100_1535For Jeremy’s birthday gift, I got him a six pack of exotic Italian beer I remembered that he liked, but we never buy it normally. Actually, the gift was supposed to be from Stephen but I forgot this handy fact on the trip where I took my opportunity to buy the gift. How did Stephen know Jeremy likes Peroni? Huh. And the other funny thing is, one of the families I invited to the party also got him the same kind of beer. I guess it must be good stuff. I tasted it, and it is very nice. Too bad I can’t really help him finish his Peroni before we move…

So Jeremy was technically the star of the show, but Sashimi the Cat was actually the true guest of honor. All the little girls in the families we invited were obsessed with the cat. He is super cute with long, luxurious fur, and he does tolerate being petted by strangers and picked up, and he walks around with big blue cat eyes saying “Meow.” I can totally understand why they were obsessed. It was pretty funny. And it gave us adults some opportunity to just chat with each other, so I guess it was win-win, except maybe the cat didn’t win, but I don’t think he cares.

All in all, we all had fun, and Jeremy will definitely remember his 40th birthday fondly!

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