Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Katie!

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Katie: Big hug, little hug. What begins with hug?
Mommy: Love.
Katie beams at Mommy and they give each other a warm hug and kiss at bedtime.

I cannot believe that my baby is four years old already. Where did the time go? All day yesterday I was flashing back to memorable moments of her through the years. She has grown up so much!

Since Katie’s birthday fell on a Monday, we had her parties on the weekend. I knew that it would be too overwhelming if we did everything at once. So, on Saturday we had her friend party. It was inside the Carousel Building of the Beardsley Zoo. Guests rode the merry-go-round four times, made animal-shaped picture frames, had lunch, and participated in an animal encounter. Katie asked for a bunny. The staff surprised us and not only had a bunny, but also their new turtle from Russia. It was like The Tortoise and the Hare right in front of us! The children enjoyed it very much. When it came time to blow out her candles and make a wish, Katie said she did not want to make a wish. She felt she already had everything for which she could ever wish. I could not be more proud of how she is becoming such a humble, unselfish and moral person.

Saturday also brought another surprise…one of the worst storms the county has seen in decades. Yup, torrents of rain fell upon us. The Norwalk River flooded cars in parking lots. Rings End, less than a mile down the road, was under water when we drove past it early Sunday morning. The deluge of rain was coupled with 70 mph winds. Power outages caused by falling trees occurred everywhere. Many schools are still out today and it is Tuesday! Every which way we turned to get home from the zoo was blocked off. There were not enough emergency crews to handle all the damage. We even saw a huge tree land on top of a car! By the time we got home, it was 4:45 pm. Phillip dozed off. Peter, who never naps, crashed on the couch and was out within seconds. Katie summed it up best when she said to me, “I am happy for my presents. I want to see what’s inside, but I just want to go to bed.” And with that, she changed into her comfy and cozy pajamas before crawling into our bed for a short nap while I made a light dinner.

Sunday we ventured out to my grandmother’s house for the family party. The driving was okay. It rained until we got just outside of Vernon. State workers were still clearing trees off the Merritt Parkway when were on it. The drive back was better as we took 91 to 95 in order to avoid the single lane movement on the Merritt.

Grandma made Katie a beautiful sweater with a matching hat. It is so soft. Katie has rarely taken it off since receiving it! My mother came over and we all shared a nice supper. Katie loved all her presents and kept commenting to me that it was such a wonderful birthday. On the car ride home, Katie and Phillip played their own version of “Keep Away” with the animal Katie received from Mom. Their giggles made Peter and I smile. It made the time on the road disappear.

Since yesterday was Katie’s actual birthday, we had a perfectly quiet and calm family dinner at home. Mom and our neighbors called to wish Katie a happy birthday. Peter called from work to talk to her just before he headed home. Katie, while admiring the tablescape, said, “Ooooo! It is just so beautiful. It is the loveliest party ever, ever. The beautifulest! I just love it, Mommy! I love my beautiful party.” The table was bedecked with princesses (of course). When Katie saw her presents from us, she commented, “There are princesses on my presents, too!” referring to the wrapping paper. We shared a meal, played with our Princess Tiana party blowers, and laughed. As she was enjoying cake, it was my turn to serenade Katie with songs I created just for her. She swayed in her seat to the music and Phillip piped in several times with an enthusiastic “Happy!” More giggles, more fun.

Phillip was so cute at bedtime. After I put him to bed, I heard him chattering. Turns out he was singing “Happy Birthday” in his own toddler way. What a fitting ending for such a perfect evening!

My baby is four years old already. Since she did not make her wish when blowing out candles, let me make one for her. I wish that she remains the “beautifulest” inside and out her whole, long, healthy, peaceful and blessed life.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


“The harder you work in fifth grade, the easier sixth grade will be; and the harder you work in sixth grade, the easier seventh grade will be…”
“So it never ends? But when do I get to rest?”
“You can rest anytime you choose. You just have to decide if that is the right choice for you to make.”
“Nothing will be handed to you in this lifetime. If you want something, if you set your mind to it, then work hard. Put in the effort to make it happen.”
“Don’t forget your poem.”
“Family is the most important thing. But if a family member does not embody the same values as you, remove them for your life. Remove the toxin. Surround yourself only with people, friends and family, who represent what you believe in.”
“Look all around you. Isn’t the wonder of His beauty amazing?”
“I am proud of you, kiddo.”
“I love you.”
March cannot begin without me thinking about my dad. I think about him daily, of course, but I have been bothered by something. When the pastor of my father’s choosing asked me to write a eulogy, I couldn’t do it. I wrote the obituary. I did all the tasks set forth before me in the manner my father requested when we spoke in private shortly before he became incoherent. But I could not write a eulogy. For these last couple of years I have tried to write a blog entry. I can’t.

I remember his last words to me. We were having one of our private, albeit brief, conversations in his hospital room. He had just begun Hospice care. I told him about how I kept seeing butterflies whenever I thought about him. There were dozens of them. I, however, never saw the butterflies at any other time. In the back of my mind, I knew the religious significance of the butterflies, but refused to fully acknowledge it. It was as if I admitted their symbolism, then I would be ushering in his passing sooner than if I denied their meaning.

He cried when I mentioned the butterflies. I knew that he, being a deeply spiritual man, was thinking about the religious connotation as well. His final words to me -so hard for him to utter- were, “Butterfly, butterfly. I love you.” He then closed his eyes with tears down his cheeks.

I asked him to send me a butterfly and he nodded that he would…

The afternoon before he passed away, Katie was watching Sesame Street, so the poor man had to listen to a children’s show on his speakers. Peter was talking with Mom. I held Dad’s hand, leaned in close, and recited the rosary with him and an additional Lord’s Prayer. Somehow I knew I was saying my final good-bye and I could hardly get through the prayers. Choking back tears as to not worry others in the room, I quietly whispered that it was okay to go. That I knew God was waiting for him and that all will be well here. Not to worry about Mom, Grandma, or me. Not to worry about what will happen to himself as God would hold him tight.

In his last act of compassion for others, Dad waited until his best friend from childhood, Bill Senk, was with him. Dad did not want Mom to go through the pain of watching his spirit leave his body. He knew she would have too much grief as it was at the time.

And, he sent me my butterfly.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Year, New Me

Resolutions. The very thought can be dreadful when you are coming down off the high of the winter holidays, but the process is so essential to our existence, isn’t it? Sure, come January 1st, everyone resolves to lose weight, quit a bad habit, or the like. Not to belittle such resolutions, but I believe that if one is truly self-reflective, then she searches deep within on a regular basis and adjusts as is necessary.

The process of self-awareness and growth takes much effort. Sometimes I do not like what I see when I take an honest look at myself. I tend to have quite a viperous tongue and sometimes let my internal dialogue be heard. Not good. I am so much a Type A personality that I do not have patience for those who are the opposite and seemingly waste my time. I often focus on helping others to the point that I neglect myself and to the point that I become used. In turn, I get mad at myself for letting myself get taken advantage of by others. And, of course, I could lose weight.

It is easy to get caught in a spiral of self-scolding. While you need to stop and honestly see who you have become, you also need to take time to count your strengths. After assessing both sides with equal vigor, you can then set your intentions of what specific things you wish to manifest for yourself because you can clearly see how those things would make your life better.

I care so deeply for those whom I love that I want to help them in every way possible. I want to make their destinies come true, but one of my life lessons is to realize that we all have to travel our own paths. By embracing all that I need to do to become a better person, my soul will recognize its gift from God. In turn, not only will I grow, but those loved ones around me will benefit as well. Sounds easy when written on paper, but hard to remember.

So, what do I need to do at this moment? It is my intention to be a better wife to Peter as he is my whole world. Therefore, I will be patient with him and use kinder words in moments of anger. It is my intention to be a better mother as Katherine and Phillip are also my whole world. I will exercise more patience and understanding. I will become the type of person I want them to become – patient, loving, compassionate, intelligent, moral, ethical. It is my intention to provide for my family so that we never have financial worries. I will earn a promotion while teaching my children the importance of saving.

What do you see when you look deep within? What do you truly want to manifest for yourself? How will you make it happen?

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. I have to say it was one of my best birthdays...ever. EVER! It started with Katie finding me in Phillip's room. I was just about to get him out of his crib when she came over to me trailing her favorite pink blankie made by Maureen. (You cannot separate my kiddos from the blankets Maureen makes for them, or from the nighttime afghans made by Grandma, but I digress.) So, Katie finds me and asks, "Is today your birthday, Mommy?" I told her it was indeed my birthday and she enthusiastically said, "Happy Birthday, Mommy!" while giving me a hug and kiss. Phillip, who was watching everything, jumped up and down in his crib shouting, "Happy!" with a big ear-to-ear grin.

I went through all the typical morning tasks with Phillip (diaper change, nebulizer treatment as he has a bad cough, bottle, tickles) and then went back to bed for a few minutes. Katie climbed in and said, "Get ready for a birthday hug, Mommy" and hugged me. She kept giving me birthday hugs and kisses. One hug was a "special rainbow hug with sparkles that only come when I hug you, Mommy." She also told me all the things that she thought made me "beautiful".

Later in the day, Katie made my birthday cake with Peter. I was sitting at the dining room table getting materials organized for Katie's gifts for her teachers and chuckling at the conversation occurring between the two of them. Here is one particularly charming snip it from when they were cleaning up:
Peter: So who is the better cook, better baker - Daddy or Mommy?"
Katie: Me! I am the best cooker.

Katie then decorated all her jars of homemade cookie mix for her teachers.(The night before we made the jars. It was fun, but it takes some time that we waited until the next day to add the tags, ornaments, and ribbon.) Phillip kept blowing me kisses. Meanwhile, Katie was so anxious to frost the cake that when I said she would not frost until after nap time was over, she could not take a nap. Finally, I let her go get her father to frost the cake while I stayed in the other end of the house pretending to be oblivious. Katie would come to me every so often with chocolate on her face. Her face would get wiped clean and the next visit...more chocolate. Katie then placed all the candles herself.

Another thing that occurred was that Katie knew exactly which party dress she wanted to wear with which tights and which sparkly shoes and related accessories. She then told Peter, "Go change into your handsome clothes, Daddy." Peter replied, "What are my 'handsome clothes'?" Katie: "I don't know, but you have to put them on. It's Mommy's birthday."

Peter made my birthday dinner (breaded chicken cutlets, rice pilaf, and young peas). Katie declared it the best dinner ever. Phillip spit the chicken out, but happily noshed on halved blueberries and peas. Katie wanted a table cloth on the table, but Peter said we didn't need one. When it came time to light the candles....oh, you have to picture the scene in your mind's eye. Peter was using these puny, short matches that burned down to your fingers by the time you lit one candle. Well, he would light some candles and go to blow out the match before his finger burnt off only he would not turn away from the cake, so he would end up blowing out the very candles he just lit! This pattern continued for quite a few times with Katie growing exasperated with her father. Finally they were all lit and Katie helped me blow them out.

As we were enjoying cake, Katie serenaded me with three songs she created herself. They were fabulous and even Phillip smiled and clapped with enthusiasm. After dinner, Katie had us participate in a "Royal Birthday Parade". We then piled into the car and drove around looking at Christmas lights while singing Christmas carols. It truly was the best birthday ever. Best. Ever.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you all! We had a quiet one this year. I could have cooked a meal, but since no one was around, Katie and I had spaghetti and meatballs. How very untraditional of us, I know. You see, on the previous Tuesday, I had sinus surgery.

After being on antibiotics for essentially the entire year, every year, I went to an ear, nose, throat specialist. He first tried washes and sprays. No relief. Then he looked with a scope. Afterwards, I had a CT Scan. The scan showed that each sinus opening was blocked by bone. So, I scheduled surgery. I chose the Ridgefield Surgical Center because this sort of thing is all they do and to be away from viruses found in a hospital setting. The center was sparkling! The staff was running way ahead of schedule and as soon as I walked through the door, they took me back to begin prepping me.

I was nervous about anesthia. For one thing, I did not want to be intubated. And for another thing, I am always nausous. I was afraid of the vommitting upon waking up from general anesethia. Everyone tried to calm me. I took things one moment at a time. I put my head down on the operating room table and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in recovery.

Waking up was hard. My throat was beyond dry. But the hard part was my chest. I had this really tight, wound up feeling in my chest. It felt very much like a bad asthma attack. I then began to panic which did not help matters. Eventually, I caught a small breath. Later, I needed my inhaler.

Once home, I tried to sleep, but I was overtired. Luckily, I had spent the morning making sure everything was in place for when I returned home from surgery. Fresh sheets on the bed. Pillows stacked up to make me stay in an almost 90 degree position to reduce swelling and help with drainage. Towel on the pillows in case the gauze leaked. Water and medication with medication schedule next to the bed. Premade food in the fridge to heat up for the kiddos. House cleaned and tidied up. Not perfect, but pretty good. Babysitters lined up for the next few days to help me over the long weekend.

Pain. The surgery I had was a lot of little procedures all at the same time. The doctor removed bone spurs and a bone filled with air. He then removed polyps and cysts from within one sinus. The doctor also reduced the turbinates. Finally, he corrected my severely deviated septum. The doctor used a lot of new technologies to minimize bleeding. Therefore, there was no need for packing. People always complain about packing. The doctor only had to use the splints. The splints are these long plastic things that are flat on one side and have a breathing tube on the other. They are about 3 inches long.

The discomfort was from the swelling against the splints. Also, my upper teeth ached like they were about the fall out or something. There was immense pressure behind my eyes, too. A dry throat did not help either. I suffered through the first night with fitful sleep at best. Finally, in the afternoon of the next day, I took a pain pill. It took a few doses over the course of the afternoon and evening before things were numb. I suppose the medication needs to build up in your system over time. I needed the pain meds for the first three days. Afterwards, the swelling went away and I was okay just with the antibiotic.

The bleeding stopped after three days. On Sunday night, however, Phillip did not want to come out of the bath and he flailed about wildly...hitting my nose just right. It was like a gusher! I saturated one gauze pad after another. Luckily, the doctor opened his office for me and took care of things. My nose looks the same from the outside. Inside, it is very dry and sore, but I can live with that while things heal. I pray all heals perfectly. I still do not have permission to blow my nose which is weird, but like I said, I am fine with that as long all heals perfectly. Already I can feel a difference, so the surgery was worth it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Update on Phillip

Phillip, Phillip, Phillip. He is ...uh... a terror on two feet! I mean this term in the most affectionate way. Really, I do! Maybe it is because he is a boy, or maybe it is because he is the younger sibling, or maybe it is the age, but whatever the reason, Phillip loves to destroy things. It does not matter what is in his way either. He will just plow over (or through) the obstacle and keep on going. People, toys, furniture. Nothing is a match for him. If Phillip wants to get past, he is either going over or through the person or object.

Let me paint a picture for you. During free range baby time, the living room floor is strewn with a myriad of objects in just mere seconds: books, blocks, stackers, finger puppets, cards, couch cushions, teethers, stuffed animals, the monkeys from Katie's monkeys in a barrel, puzzle pieces, and (Would you believe it?) more! Katie has given up helping me clean up after Phillip. It is a never-ending job.

You should see when Phillip starts cruising towards Katie's shelves. Katie literally flies across the room and hastily begins placing things as high as she can get them while on tip toe or asks an adult to quickly take the items in question. The other objects are quickly scooped up in her arms and she flees down to her bedroom where she hides them in the most random locations. She fears (and rightfully so) that Phillip will tear apart her beloved things. While Katie understands that some items are just Katie's, some items are just Phillip's, and other items are for sharing, Phillip is too young to understand this concept. When we remind him (by removing the items from his possession or area of reach), he screams ....loudly.

Now that I think about it, perhaps passionate is a better term for Phillip. He is quite passionate about what he does, no matter the task. Katie is too, for that matter. She wears her heart on her sleeve. Phillip is driven and analytical from what I can gather so far. But, yes, passionate is a good term. In fact, here is a photo of him so proud of himself after eating his dinner. That's it. I say Phillip is passionate! (And, one adorable terror...in the most loving sense of the word.)