Showing posts with label SoJo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SoJo. Show all posts

August 26, 2023

Begin Again

It's been a quiet summer--at least here on my blog.  I'm sure many of you can relate, trying to keep that marathon of long summer days under control, not burning out too quickly.  School has begun again for my first grader (what??? I know, I can't believe I'm typing that) so I thought I'd try to begin again with this old blog here.
Emotions were strong yesterday for S.  Like his mother, he has trouble acclimating to new situations.  A few tears were shed as he trudged up those bus steps, but I'm confident he'll settle in over the next week or so.

I've been busying myself (I know, it's only the second day) with canning and freezing stuff from our garden.  The tomatoes were fabulous this year, so I want to be able to enjoy them in December, if they last.
Crock pot tomato sauce--freezer or canner?  Haven't decided yet.
I messed up my pickles though; I forgot to add water to the brine so these will induce extra puckering of our mouths!
There's also been a lot of yarn on my knitting needles, which is so uncharacteristic of me in summertime.
This slouchy hat above was a lot of fun to knit.  You can find the pattern, called "Minty" on Knitty (it's also on my Ravelry page).
This shawl got me through a long plane ride to and from San Francisco; I knit practically the entire trip.  Soren and I flew to see my brother in July and had a blast.  I miss that foggy city.

So that's what's been going on around here--boys getting bigger, seasons dissolving into the next.  We're embracing beginnings here!

November 4, 2023

Death, The Companion

This morning, I'm heading to a funeral for Soren's former preschool teacher.  Since her death early last week, I can't seem to get her out of my mind.  She wasn't that old (60) and died suddenly.  It sounds selfish, but I feel as if a part of my past has died, a part of my son's childhood, which I suppose it has. 
It seems the older I get, the more closely aware of death and dying that I am.  Maybe it's having been so close to that cliff, that vulnerable, horrible place last year when my son was hovering between life and death, which has made me truly realize how fragile and unpredictable life is.  I can't watch an episode of Parenthood without bursting into tears.  Does simply having children just do this to you?  I can't even read or watch anything anymore that involves violence or abuse toward children.

Death is on my mind each day, but not necessarily in a morbid sense.  I want to keep it close to me, to guide me in savoring this life and these moments I have with my family and friends.  It's hard to live with sometimes, but I'm hoping that its presence makes this life richer and more fully inhabited by me.

September 26, 2023

Good Grief

I'll start off by saying that this is a hard post to write.  It's filled with memories that are difficult to think about, but have been on my mind lately.

It's nearly October, roughly one year since the nightmare that our family went through when my eldest was hospitalized for over two weeks with a staph infection.

Throughout the past year, I'd catch brief moments of grief, like finding a toy that reminds me of that time, or reading a book that I had read to Soren when he was sedated, or even seeing an episode of the Mickey Mouse Club, which always seemed to be on during those long days and nights spent at his bedside.

All year long, I felt that I hadn't fully processed the grief and what had happened.  It's not that was avoiding it, but it was just maybe not convenient to let it all out.  A car ride on the Interstate that goes past the hospital might elicit a few tears, but can I really sob while driving on a three-lane highway with two kids in the back seat?  Or when discovering a bag of burn-related bandages and ointments in a closet when digging for wrapping paper to wrap a birthday present?

I just feel so sad lately, and wonder if the grief has finally, after all these months, caught up with me.  There is something powerful about the change of seasons and its deep association with the events of last fall.  I could hide in swimming pools and sandboxes all summer long, but now that those damned beautiful leaves are upon us, it triggers the memory of watching that small maple tree outside the hospital window change from green to red and then remain a bare silhouette of itself.

I pulled out a few autumn decorations this week and came across a little pumpkin plate I bought in the hospital gift shop, a souvenir of the last days of my son's illness, when we were all eager to come home.  While it's a reminder of the good that came out of the experience (the amazing care and kindness of the doctors, nurses, therapists and staff, and oh yeah, that my son got better), it's still hard at this moment to not focus on the feelings of fear and helplessness that dominated our time in the hospital.  The horror of those first days, the procedures done on him and how ill and not himself that he looked in that hospital bed are forever burned into my memory.

I imagine that this is what grieving is like when approaching the eve of those dreaded anniversaries, when the control one's emotions is relinquished by seasonal reminders of the event. 

So this month is going to be a hard one for me.  I'm considering a project, like an "October Thankfulness" project, where I do something every day, whether large or small, to thank someone in the world for what they do.  I'd like to include a visit to the Pediatric ICU in that project, which I really have been eager to do with Soren, but I'm a little shy about invading such an important and often stressful (for the staff) place.  "Hi, my formerly-ill son and I would like to say hi and bring you bagels.  Oh, and I don't mind chatting while you perform a tracheotomy on an infant!"

But I do think it's important for closure for us to figure out a good time to visit.  And Soren does seem eager to go back and see the hospital again.  As far as we can tell, he has no bad memories of his illness.  A lot of it was that he was intubated and sedated for most of it, but even at the tail-end of his hospitalization he was allowed to watch as much TV and drink as much juice as he wanted, and also got lots of gifts!

There is so much for me to be grateful for, and of course I am.  I have a healthy, thriving son (two of them, actually).  However, there's still a lot for me to digest here, and I'm hoping that upon reaching the other side of this grief, things will seem a lot better and I'll be stronger.  Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

August 28, 2023

Kindergarten Blues

It's been an emotionally trying week here for my newly-minted Kindergartener.
It was to be expected, knowing how hard last year's transition to preschool was.  Despite liking school and telling me that he's eager to go back each day, separation anxiety often gets the best of my son.  Getting him on to the morning bus is a tear-filled event.

"I don't want to be away from Mommy."  "I miss Mommy."  These are his mantras.  And I acknowledge that he is having a difficult time and is sad.  It's a huge transition, for sure, especially that our kindergarten is full-day AND he's riding the bus to school (the bus literally picks up outside our door, it's only a 10 minute ride, and driving him there would be challenging given our one car situation).
My spirited child is having difficulty sleeping at night too. He's already running on a sleep deficit from the past week of early wakings and late nights (despite his early bedtime, he's been taking a long time to fall asleep).  Last night, he was up throughout much of the night, even though Chris slept with him for a few hours he was still tossing and turning.  And again, awake at 5am, scared and worried.  My poor boy.
As his parents, Chris and I just accept that September is going to be tough and that things will get better eventually (they have to, right?) and we just have to wait it out.  But I keep thinking about what I could do differently, could have done differently.  Did I not prepare him adequately for being away from me?  Should I have sent him to a camp or daycare this summer? 

Truthfully, I know it probably wouldn't have worked.  He's always been emotionally dependent on his parents, especially me.  Chris and I often remark that even since birth, Soren has viewed us as his security blankets.  He was never one to take a pacifier, lovey, thumb, or any other kind of self-soothing technique.  We are his comfort, and it's no surprise that he's having trouble adjusting to full days without us. 

Soren is the kind of child whom I'd characterize as intense.  He lives his emotions to the highest level--when he's happy, he's over-the-top elated, when he's angry, oh boy watch out.  So I know this is normal for him to have such an extreme reaction to kindergarten.  I'm just hoping that he's at least enjoying some parts of school and making new friends.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to suck my thumb and curl into a ball myself.  Or at least have one more comforting cup of coffee.

July 17, 2023

Project Bedroom

Clearly, blogging is not a summer thing for me.  What amounts to about a handful of posts since May has not made me happy, though I know that my kids are probably pleased that I've dedicated myself so wholly to them. :)

Most days, we're hanging around the neighborhood, going to the pool after dinner and playing in the yard.  Though this week has been awfully hot, so naturally I decided last weekend to paint Soren's bedroom, which has been on my to-do list all year.
Yep, leave it to me to be bitten by the painting bug on the cusp of the first heatwave of the summer.  Sweat was literally dripping in the paint last Saturday when I began the project (side note: why is it that forecasters cannot predict weather anymore? Our 77 degree, sunny day was nothing of the sort).

Soren's room was long overdue for an overhaul.  It was this odd gray-purple (grurple?) color that I had chosen to coordinate with a bed spread long before the room was meant for children, not guests.
The baseboards were also sorely in need of painting, having been scratched and torn up when we had our floors redone, oh about 5 years ago.

Predictably, it's difficult doing any kind of project when kids are underfoot.  Here was my view for most of the painting with the sample colors (Valspar Perfect Storm and I ???. I can't remember the name of the color underneath it on the same paint chip.  I settled on Perfect Storm anyway).
Surprisingly, I didn't slop paint on the floor, furniture, or kids, unless you count Soren leaning up against the wet wall at some point (not my fault!).

There were tons of holes to fill with spackle, especially the wall where I would be installing a wallpapered map of the world. 
The room is 95% finished, since I had just installed the map yesterday (more to come on that, once I figure out what the heck is wrong with my camera--the auto focus doesn't seem to be cooperating, hence these fuzzy photos).

I'm eager to show you Soren's new room, which has a global theme which I hope will grow with him over the next few years.  I still have quite a few painting projects on my list for the fall, once he's in kindergarten full-time and I have a little less on my plate.  Or a thousand few Legos to avoid stepping on while painting.  Those buggers are everywhere, even when I think they've all been cleaned up.
I hope to post in the next few days the results of my project. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, as is its current resident. Stay tuned!

May 22, 2023

The Fun Uncle

Did you have one growing up? Or many, as I did?  That fun uncle who plays cars for hours, takes you swimming when your parents think it's too cold to bother, and tosses you over and over onto the bed.  Soren and Jude have 4 uncles on my side who spoil them with attention (and gifts).
This weekend, we spent some time with Uncle Jeff, mucking around in the bay near the beaches in Delaware, a favorite spot for our family.
Since it was a pretty overcast and drizzly weekend, we didn't get in any swimming, but still played in the water.  And the boys were so happy to be with their doting uncle (and we parents were just as happy too, to get a break for relaxing and drinking hot coffee and reading, something we don't get to do much at home).
Uncle Jeff is the fun uncle who spends an entire day on a paddle board, exploring the bays, and hoping that Soren and Jude will one day join him.  So far no luck in coaxing S onto it, at least this season.
But walks in the woods to hunt for "bad guys" will suffice.
Even Jude can't get enough of "Un-ca Def", which was the first word he said when waking from a nap, followed by "bed" (referring to Jeff throwing the boys onto the beds).
Every kids needs a fun uncle (or aunt), wouldn't you say, even if it's not a relative by blood?   Oddly, I think I could be a fun aunt, though I'm not always so fun with my kids. I think the sheer amount of work it takes to raise them is just too exhausting to leave much time for fun, at least for me.  Plus Soren and I clash a lot, so often when I think we're going to have a blast together, it sours quickly.  Not so with his uncle though.
 Did you have a fun uncle or aunt?  What memories do you have?

March 25, 2023


After what equally feels like an eternity and a heartbeat, there is now five years space between the birth of my first child and now.  This parenting thing really messes with your sense of time and memory.

I blinked and now Soren is just days shy of five years old. 
We had a party for him yesterday, and after the medical ordeal we went through this past fall, I couldn't help being extra happy and grateful to see him running around and having fun with his friends.
Thanks Uncle Paul and Aunt Ashley for sharing this photo with us
This boy has brought so much growth, excitement, energy and meaning to our lives; I can't imagine the kind of person I'd be if he hadn't arrived five years ago.  Probably still chugging along that same old, self-absorbed path.
Despite its challenges, I am so grateful to be your mother, Soren.
You have taught be true patience, true joy, and true forgiveness, mostly for myself.  I admire your exuberant, adventurous spirit and pray that I don't crush it too much.  I'm trying my best to let you be who you are, despite us being SO different, personality-wise.  I want you to shine and be true to yourself, no matter what others think.
I am looking forward to this next year with you, getting to know you more, laughing at your goofiness, and watching you grow and change, especially as you go to Kindergarten.  I love you more than you could know, my sweet boy.  Happy birthday.

January 22, 2024


Between a string of days without an internet connection and a general feeling of being out of the online loop (save for Instagram and Facebook via my phone) it's been hard getting on this blog here to post.  These cold days have been spent hanging around the house, meeting up for playdates, knitting, taking photos, and of course Legos, Legos, Legos.
Firewoman, or else a Fireman in makeup.
The days languidly go on, yet holy moley, January is nearly over.  What do I have to show for it?  The whole month seems like an outage, especially for this blog.

Well, today has been a good one, starting off with getting both boys dressed, ready for a school friend of Soren's to come by.  We even made some of our famous duct tape crowns.
Somehow I fed the kids lunch AND gave them baths.  Go me!  One less thing to do tonight.
I have plans to make a lasagna for dinner, which will really push me into the supermom role today.

On the Jude side of my kids, he's doing well, talking a lot.  He's quite a mimic.  However he does have such a temper, much more than S ever did.  It's funny, seeing such a mellow toddler get so angry and frustrated about things I can't even guess.
In fact, just after I snapped this photo, he pegged me pretty hard in the head with one of those balls.  We're having some throwing-at-people issues too (hmmm, I wonder who in this house models that?).

Anyway, I'm in need of making the lasagna while Jude is napping (ahh, the slow torture of going from two naps to one), but I hope this post is momentum for being more regular about writing here. I'm so behind on things I was to blog about!

Hope all is well, friends.

November 14, 2023

Cue the Flash

There's probably nothing as frustrating as trying to conduct a living room photo shoot for the yearly Christmas card.
Between getting the outfits on, setting up the camera and light reflector, I wonder if ever there was a parent who was able to get a good photo in no less than 500 shots.
The expressions often crack me up, like Soren's above, so I'm apt not to delete it.  But do I really need all these photos cluttering my hard drive?

Some of them really are worth it though.  This one was completely unprompted.  Too bad it wasn't great, compositionally.  And I had to use the dreaded flash. 
Despite the trauma we went through last month, I'm finally ready to get back to feeling normal again, thus the return to pushing myself to get stuff done that I enjoy. I love looking back on our Christmas cards (I always keep one or two for myself) and remembering that time of year with my kids.

The "good" shot that I finally did get really isn't that great (I'll post it at another time), but the memory of two young boys who really love each other, sitting together on a couch is one that will linger with me.
At least they're both here, I tell myself.  And that's all that matters.

Any plans for Christmas cards this year? I thought I could rely on one from our time at the beach this summer, but there weren't any good ones of both boys or all of us.

November 6, 2023

A Return

After a week settling back in from our looooong hospital stay, we've finally returned to our normal routine.  Soren is getting around much better, gaining strength each day, and even returned to school yesterday.  The last week has been such an odd one, both with the adjustment to being together as a family again, and also just a general feeling of disturbance as the remnants of hurricane (or tropical storm or superstorm or whatever) Sandy are dealt with.

Many of my friends and family were without power, and some even had extensive damage done to their homes.  It's heart-wrenching reading about the events on Staten Island, especially having come so close to losing my own child.  The devastation that so many people are facing is unfathomable to me, and my heart goes out to families who were affected.

Thankfully, the only disruptions here revolved around Halloween--it seems like it's the holiday that just won't end.  Unbeknownst to me, S had his Halloween party yesterday, so I had to run home and grab a costume from the dress up box. 

Returning from the hospital, I've been overwhelmed with gratitude towards the hundreds of people who have helped us, from the gifts of food and childcare for Jude (thank you Amy!) to the individuals who cleaned Soren's hospital room and brought him his meals.  It's amazing when you think about it how many small parts people play in our lives, both in sickness and in health.  Even the mailman, who came bearing get well cards despite wind and rain.  And even your, dear readers, leaving comments of support and gifts of prayer. 
So a return to normalcy has been quite welcome here, despite its usual challenges of keeping up with two active boys.
Don't let this one fool you.  Behind that placid look is a dynamo just waiting to tip over that carelessly placed cup of coffee.  Not like I'd have any experience with that.

October 31, 2023

The Lost October

The past few weeks have been timeless for me, and not in a good way.  Is it Tuesday? How long have we been in the hospital?  Did I have a dentist appointment today?  Did we miss Halloween?

In fact, I've lost October.  It's disappointing because it's my favorite month--the leaves are changing, pumpkins are tucked onto porches, we celebrate our wedding anniversary, and of course Halloween.  Why couldn't it have been January?  In the days I spent in the pediatric ICU, I charted the autumn days by watching a tiny maple outside my window turn from green to orange to red to bare branches, which was a small but hopeful thing.
This year, October is bittersweet, still tinged with the memory of being in a hospital unsure of whether my eldest would be permanently absent from our family.  But October is also filled with gratitude for finally being able to bring him home.

Our homecoming was fraught with drama, as Hurricane Sandy slammed into our area.  We just made it out of the hospital before the heaviest rains and winds rolled into Pennsylvania.  I repeatedly told people that after the last few weeks, I've had enough of adreneline.  I did fill up a few jugs of water and bought some groceries just to get by, but I just couldn't allow myself to be sucked into the panic.  Thankfully, I didn't have to, since our area was only mildly affected, despite the eye of the hurricane moving just to the south of us.  We're SO grateful things were fine for us.  I feel for those who've been affected more severely, either by life or by property.

This ordeal has churned up so many things I've wanted to say, so many emotions I've wanted to chart through this blog and other outlets.  From straight-up fear to guilt over not spending a lot of time with Jude or Chris (we did the switch-off each day, where one of us stayed at the hospital and the other went home) to imagining what life would be like in our home without Soren.

One of the most surprising emotions was related to Jude.  While cuddling him, I couldn't focus just on loving him because of the intense longing I had for Soren.  I wondered if siblings of deceased children feel like they can never break free from the shadow of their lost brother or sister, that they can never live up to the child who is gone.  In my pre-hospital mind, I would have thought that parents just transferred all of their love and good intentions to the remaining child, as sort of a family savior.

Anyway, I hesitated to write much here, not only because it was difficult to do on a phone or iPad in the hospital, but I'm not sure how much I wanted to violate my son's privacy.  It's such a grey area, wanting to share updates but not wanting to be the mom who's constantly taking photos of her sick child and posting them for the world to see.  Somehow it just doesn't seem right to me.  On that note, I did have permission from S to share a more recent photo, taken on the morning of our departure and the beginning of happier times.
I'm managing to find our way back to normalcy this week, but it's been hard with dressing changes, meds to be given, hospital smells still on my son's skin, and a week of weird weather that has closed a lot of things in town, including the schools.  But we're taking baby steps, just like my boy who's learning to be steady on his feet again, after a long week of stillness in bed.

Thank you all for your prayers and support during this difficult time.  It truly means so much to myself and my family.  May you be blessed.

October 20, 2023

The Best and The Worst

Let's start with the worst.  My baby is still in the hospital.  How do you come home to a house empty of his presence, one strewn with his Lego creations, half-eaten cheese stick in the fridge and his dirty clothes?  Coming home even for brief periods of time is the hardest.  I think I've shed more tears here than sitting by his sick little body.  But it's necessary to come home, to hug and love Jude and just to get some horizontal sleep.  Those hospital "bed" chairs are rough.

It's also a chance to just forget about things a bit, hence I'm spending time catching up with stuff online.  I've got some coffee in hand, and no tears in it, for once.

Soren is very slowly recovering, but like any road to health, it often comes with some bumps.  While I won't get into the details, he basically came down with a staph infection that caused his skin to become inflamed and peel (scalded skin syndrome as a result of a staph infection is his diagnosis).  His skin looks much better, but he is still sedated until it's not so painful.  And with sedation comes other complications, which the doctors, nurses and staff are so marvelously keeping under control.  What an incredible age of science and medicine we live in, truly.

So Chris and I will be muddling through another weekend in the PICU, cautiously optimistic, hoping and praying for the best.  I want to thank you all for your prayers, especially since it's impossible for me to personally thank each one of you.  It means a lot, this network of "real" and virtual friends we have.  It certainly keeps our spirits up, knowing there are so many people we can lean on.

Thank you again for your thoughts and prayers.   You're the best!  May your families be well.

September 20, 2023

Last Splash

I'm lucky to have two water bugs living with me, who, unlike their father, will migrate to water like kids to candy. 
Though we're beyond swimming weather here in the Northeast, the boys are still enjoying finding puddles and water collected from a rainstorm to play in .
The delight that these two have with water is worth running back inside to grab the camera.
And worth peeling off cold, wet clothes from shivering bodies.
Hope you're having some outdoor fun where you are!

September 6, 2023

First Days, Last Days

September has flown in, along with it the first days of school and the first week of tending to my new charge, our neighbors' 10 month old son (hence the lack of posting around here).

Soren had a good first day, despite tears and trepidation about meeting his new teacher.
By morning's end, he was smiling and eager to return (we'll see about that tomorrow).

Jude's also embarked on a "first"--he took his first unassisted steps over the weekend.  Naturally, I didn't get out the camera, but hope to get some pics today.
Despite his lackadaisical approach to walking, this boy climbs and scrambles onto things like a gecko.  We've since had to remove these kiddie chairs and table, since he was using them as springboards for getting places that he shouldn't be.
And with the first days of walking, come the last days of nursing my baby.
Actually, it's been over a week since I've breastfed him.  And like with Soren, it snuck up on me.  One minute I'm nursing before bed and upon waking, then all of a sudden it stops, usually due to a busy day or lack of asking for it from the baby.

I feel both wistful and liberated, as I did with Soren.  I love wearing regular bras and am eager to drop a cup size again. And being less concerned with drinking a glass of wine or too much coffee.  But of course I will miss that closeness and the feelings of nurturing my child; however there is always lots of closeness and nurturing without the breast too.  My bosom is always open for cuddling. :)

I'd like to continue to wax poetic on the subject, but two boys are needing me right now.  Hope your week is having some good beginnings and endings!
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