April 30, 2013

a reminder of sorts to get the time capsule out of storage

We lived in the upper level of a blue Victorian home. My big brother Marco* had the smallest bedroom, allowing room for only his full size bed and a small dresser tucked inside a tiny closet. My nephew Jordan* had the bedroom through the kitchen and the bathroom. Literally, the only way into Jordan’s bedroom was through both the kitchen and bathroom. Pretty strange set up but Jordan was six at the time so it didn’t faze him too much. I got the biggest bedroom with a huge walk-in closet and large windows overlooking the neighboring white church.

It was our second apartment together since Marco divorced Jordan’s mom two years prior, and I got the big bedroom because I was paying part of the rent and taking care of Jordan while Marco worked the overnight shift.

My life was all about Jordan and Marco. Especially Jordan. I wanted to do whatever I could to provide him normalcy after his parents split. It was something I promised I would do after my own parents split 18 years prior. I was working a “going nowhere fast” job and playing Mom when I was home.

Basically, I was a 26-year-old single girl with no life outside of her 6-year-old nephew.

Around the holidays I did everything I could to make them special for Jordan. For his birthday, I made sure to always be present to celebrate. When he had field trips or some sort of school event that allowed for parent interaction, I was always there. Every soccer game, home or away, I was there. Every time he came home from a visit with him mom, I was always there.   

And I did it all because of his love. His spirit. His innocence.

I would come home after a shit day at a shit job and all I would want to do is crawl into the dark closet with a blanket and a pint of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream. I’d salivate thinking about my lover (ice cream) during the long drive from work to home. Parking my car next to Marco’s, I knew that he and Jordan were inside and I knew, pretty instantly, my lover would have to wait. I’d go into the house and as I closed the door and hung up my coat wanting to be somewhere else hanging up my coat, I’d hear the scampering of feet across the living room floor upstairs. Jordan would rush toward the hallway and top of the stairs, shouting “Auntie Chris!” with so much glee.

I’d smile. Always.

I’d climb the stairs and upon getting to the top, Jordan would leap into my arms and we’d hug.

And every time this happened, I knew it was all worth it. My lack of a personal life, of friendships and/or romance was worth it. Because this boy, this sweet growing boy was happy. In a time when he could be miserable because of the games his parents played, he was happy.

And he made me happy.

And he soon became the reason I wanted to become a Mom with such a fever it burned inside of me for the next 10 years.

Jordan and Lovie, 4/1/13

Tomorrow that boy will be 21.

And despite a pretty crappy hand in life dealt to him, the boy man is still pretty happy and manages to make me and mine happy, too.
hooking up with Yeah Write. check it out and join in.
*Marco & Jordan are not their real names. 

April 29, 2013

flower cookies on a stick

My cousin's *virtual* baby shower is Saturday and I'm quite excited. I'm hosting the Chicago shower while my cousin will be at another shower at the same time, hosted by her in-laws in Pennsylvania. Last night our husbands got together via Skype to ensure that that whole thing (skype) will work- and it should. So yay! I'm excited. I hate that she won't be here in person, but at least we're of a technological age that we can make this happen at all.

I've been prepping for this shower for a while now and I just cannot wait to see it all come together. Last time I talked about it, I showed you the invites I made.

Super cute, right? RIGHT?

Well now I want to talk about the favors I made...

How cute are those?? And they're edible AND they weren't hard to make.

I wanted something to go along with the "theme" of the invites and shower (bugs, bees, garden-y) without spending a fortune. I can't even remember how I found them, but I did pin them here and here.

 * Terracotta pots (Dollar Tree had them at 3 for $1!)
 * Weed looking stuff (Dollar Tree had a bag for $1)
 * Cookie Sticks (Party City had them 20 for a couple bucks) (if I could do it again, I'd get shorter sticks or a larger pot)
 * Refrigerated cookie dough
 * flour
 * colored sugar
 * Hershey kisses
 * egg carton egg holder thingies
 * glue stick
 * plastic zip lock bags
 * Washi tape

Direction for the pots
 * Cut the egg holders out individually to fit into the pots so the bottom (the part the egg normally sits in) is sticking up.
 * Poke hole in center big enough for cookie stick to sit in.
 * Glue the top of the egg holder and dip in weed looking stuff.

Direction for the cookies (20 cookies)
 * Followed these directions, except I used Hershey Kisses.

After the cookies cooled I wrapped each cookie (just the cookie part) in a Ziploc bag with the zip part cut off and taped with Washi tape. The cookies are in the freezer and before the shower, I'll stick them into the pre-made pots and weed, waiting for the flower.

I can't wait to see everyone's reactions! I think they're darling!

April 26, 2013

shocking news!

i'm in a funk of a mood.

bubbles. and flowers. bubbly flowers. flowery bubbles. bubbles and flowers.

what better time to post a sweet (look at her face!!) photo of my love? editing thanks to Picmonkey. really, you do NOT want to see the atrocious curb appeal that surrounds her in that photo.

April 23, 2013

Sorry. Not the damn board game, either.

I was only 10 years old when the song Hard to Say I’m Sorry by the band Chicago became a huge hit. Every time I heard the song, which was often in the Summer of 1982, I would cry. Oftentimes, I would cry myself to sleep.
Hold me now.
It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry.
I just want you to stay.
After all that we’ve been through,
I will make it up to you. I promise to.
Mama and Papa were going through a war of roses.
And after all that’s been said and done,
You’re just the part of me I can’t let go.
The Fall prior I came home one evening to a kitchen counter full of brown paper grocery store bags full of clothes and toiletries for us three kids and Mama. I was told to go say goodbye to Papa who sat in the living room in front of the glowing TV. The four of us and our brown paper bags piled into the Ford Granada and off Mama drove to our grandparents’ house in the city while Papa stayed tucked inside the only house I knew.
Couldn’t stand to be kept away...just for the day...from your body.
Wouldn’t wanna be swept away, far away, from the one that I love.
I remember the day we packed our belongings and piled back into the Granada and headed home. I was happy and excited. We were going to be a family again.
Hold me now.
It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry.
I just want you to know.
But then we ended up camping upstairs in my sister’s attic bedroom when Papa was home so that we weren’t ever all together with him.
Hold me now.
I really want to tell you I’m sorry.
I could never let you go.
Every night when it was my bedtime, I would climb the dark brown carpeted stairs to the attic and get into bed while my sister’s radio played. And every night I waited to hear Hard to Say I’m Sorry.
After all that we’ve been through,
I will make it up to you. I promise to.
And every night I cried myself to sleep.
And after all that’s been said and done,
You’re just the part of me I can’t let go.
Then one day Mama changed the locks on the doors to the house when Papa was at work. She packed a couple of his suitcases and set them on the blue-gray front porch. She sent me to a family down the street to play.
After all that we’ve been through,
I will make it up to you. I promise to.
Papa went home to being locked out of his house.  
You’re gonna be the lucky one.
Five years later, their divorce was finalized. 30 years later and any time I hear even a snippet of this song, it’s like I’m 10 years old again.
They never did say they were sorry, either—not to each other and not to us.
linking up with Yeah Write as should you. go on and give it a whirl.

April 19, 2013

things could be so much worse, that's for damn sure.

We left early yesterday.

I knew it was going to be bad getting to the expressway so we left early. I knew it had rained the entire night. I wasn't too surprised to see the flashing lights blocking off the main road near the park, the road that paths a way just north of the river that travels just north of our house. I turned the car around and headed toward the other main street in the neighborhood. After 30 minutes or so of very slow moving traffic amidst the pouring rain, I turned the car around yet again, stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a dozen donuts, and went back home.

Despite it being after 7 AM now, the sky was near-black still. And the rain kept on coming.

Lovie ran to the bathroom to pee, I told Taye he might not want to go in to work as the expressway he generally takes was completely shut down due to flooding. He continued to snore away.

Lovie parked herself in front of the television with Spring Fling donut. I parked myself in front of the computer for a bit before deciding to try to take advantage of an unexpected day home. I cleaned and organized a bit and after Taye decided he was still going to try to get to work, I even vacuumed.

Lovie prepared us a picnic, of course.

I mean, what else do you do when the streets outside are submerged in rain?

After more cleaning and laundering and picnicking and TVing and Candy Crushing, the sky got brighter and the rain seemed to let up a bit.

Then my cell phone rang and it was Taye telling me he was finally near work (after over an hour on the roads) but that he had to call just then because he just got done listening to our neighbors on the news radio.

"Huh?" I asked.

"Yeah, apparently there's major flooding down the street and they're trying to tow cars out. They're on our street."

I ran to the front window and wouldn't you know it? There were firetrucks and police cars and tow trucks down the north side of the street and another cop car at the south end of the street. Nobody but emergency crew was let in or out of the street. How crazy was this day?

After lunch, Lovie and I took a walk since the rain stopped coming down.

the view from the corner of the block we live on- about 6 houses north of us

zoomed in from same spot- about 6 houses north of us

Our block is not under any water, but just six house north and we'd be singing a different tune. I feel bad for the people right next to the river... not only are their cars COMPLETELY under water, but half of their homes are, too.

Emergency crew was out there all night.

When I left this morning, they were still out there and every single street in the neighborhood has police blocking the roads. I haven't a clue who I'll have to beg to get back home. Apparently it took Taye about 20 minutes last night just for one of the cops to let him into the street after convincing him that he would not leave our house once he got there.

Meanwhile in Boston and Texas...

: (

April 17, 2013

overheard in the car

Listening to some random Wiggles song in the car on the way to school this morning, Lovie started talking about how silly something was that the Wiggles were singing about and that they don’t fly. I wasn’t quite sure who or what she was referring to, but I continued to listen to her banter: “Birds fly. Bees fly.”

“Airplanes, too,” I added.

“Yeah. And peckers.”

“Peckers fly, too.”

I looked at the road ahead of me wondering what the what was going on when it hit me: “Woodpeckers?” I asked.

“Yeah, woodpeckers fly, too.”

“Uh huh,” I smiled.

April 15, 2013

the Spring in my heart

“I see some flowers!” I shout while pointing out of the car's passenger side window to Lovie in the back seat. “There’s some more! Do ya see them?”
“Yeah! I see the flowers! I love flowers, Mama!”
“I know baby,” I smile.

 “I love Spring!” she giggles.

“Me too, baby.”


from last April- outside of Oma's house

I wasn’t always a fan of Spring. To me, it’s kind of ugly. Everything is generally dirty looking with specks of brightness from the new flowers. Until those flowers bloom though… yuck. Plus I hate warm(er) weather. I’m happy with 60 or below. But with Lovie’s excitement and wonderment of “is it still Spring today?”, I can’t help but get excited when I see some flowers sprouting out amidst the funk of Winter's closing. I can’t help but to fall in love with Spring.

Besides all that, Spring is was Oma’s favorite time of  year. She loved the flowers. The trees. The grass. The birds chirping. She loved every bit of Spring. And so does Lovie. And, honestly, I can’t even explain how happy that makes me.
It’s little moments like this when I have to wonder if Lovie wasn’t given to me to help me through this time in life; she reminds me SO much of my Oma. Always has.
I’m so very lucky to have her.
I'm so very lucky to have had them both.

hooking this up with Yeah Write

April 12, 2013

TILTW: 4.6-4.12.2013

Lovie’s dreams will be coming true on Mother’s Day when she gets to dress in the pinkest, princessiest (I know it’s not a word), gaudiest, ugliest pink frilly dance costume my eyes have ever seen. Like, my eyes burned when I saw the dress. Blech. But she couldn’t be more excited about getting to wear it... just not so sure she realizes she’ll be on a stage with an audience. (I tried talking with her about this just last night and she was all, “What’s a stage? What’s a recital?” I’m new to this whole Dance Mom thing so I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be making her practice and really, if I am, I haven’t a clue what. They read from Angelina Ballerina for a couple of minutes then do random dance stuff or something at ballet on Saturdays—all this while I’m peering in through a tiny window when other Dance Moms aren’t glued to it.)

My baby won’t stop growing. I’m not just now realizing this but… A) she’s pretty much completely potty trained to the point that she even goes by herself and is waking up dry, B) she’ll be moving into her big girl bed as soon as daddy puts it together and the thought of my girl in a real bed and not a crib with its side down almost makes me teary.
The invites for my BFF's baby shower went out end of last week and so far only one person isn't coming and that's because she'll be flying out to be with my cousin in person. I'm getting super excited about this shower, and thanks to Pinterest, have lots of decor and food ideas for the shower found on my partay ideas page, as well as my baby shower ideas page.
Last night I made the easiest, yummiest dinner: Schmarren.
It's like a thick pancake with fruit compote atop (so the juices can soak into the pancake-y part!). Probably doesn't look or sound yummy to most, but it's been a good 15 years since I've had it (Oma used to make it during lunch visits) and I was elated to find that it was so darn simple to make and just as good as I remembered.

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April 11, 2013

she's so damn sweet my teeth hurt

I know she's mine and all, but man do I sometimes find myself in awe of her beauty.

Those huge brown eyes. That cute button nose. Her gorgeous hair. Those killer lips. Man, are we going to be in T-R-O-U-B-L-E. And to top off her beautiful looks, she's crazy sweet and kind, too.

The other week I pulled something in my shoulder and back and it was hard to move, let alone hold my Lovie. It got to the point where I had to tell her that I couldn't pick her up because of the pain. And while she's three and very capable of walking by herself, I try not to say NO to requests to be held because I know there very much will come a time, probably sooner than later, when those requests will take a back seat to eyes being rolled in the back of her head.

Then the other day she was climbing on my back as we sat on the couch watching yet another episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and before she made a complete clasp onto me, she asked, "Do's your back still hurt?"


Just this morning, she even asked Taye if he was feeling better because he's been sick the past couple of days.

Her sweetness slays me. Her beauty moves me.

I'm so blessed.

(Now if only she'd go to sleep at night.)

April 5, 2013

where i'm at right now

This year - 2013 - has been a bit intense for me so far.

It started out with a certain someone turning into this three year old.

I've come to learn, accept, believe that most of her attitude the first couple of months is a result of us all getting back to normal, because the past month or so, she's been my sweet little lovebug again all the time instead of just a very small percentage of the time.

Of course I think a lot of it had to do with my lack of ... any and everything related to patience and energy, too. Oma was dying and it was really, really hard for me to come to terms with. I felt like I was mourning for months. Actually, that's exactly what was going on--I was mourning the loss of the absolute most amazing woman I'd ever known, yet she wasn't dead.

Do you know what that does to your head and heart?

It's been over a week now since she's passed and while I'm so very sad that I'll never be able to sit with her and see her smile, that sparkle in her eyes, it's all OK. She's finally in peace and she's back with my grandfather and her parents, whom I know she missed oh so dearly. The last couple of months with her have been so very difficult (for me to see, for her to live), but all so very wonderful, too.

Kinda messed up, eh?

I don't know. Maybe. But it is what it is. We're all going to die, yes, but knowing--really knowing--that it's "any day now" is ... interesting: The waiting is beyond horrific; the watching and wondering is heartbreaking to say the least. But taking advantage of every chance you have left with that person? That's gold. If you realize it prior to their passing, of course.

And I'm lucky enough to have realized it and I'm lucky enough to have been able to take full advantage of every chance I had to spend with Oma before she passed. So much so that I was the one who was there by her side for her last breath. A moment that was both the most horrific thing I've experienced as well as one of the most cathartic things.

Am I losing my mind here? How can one feel both horrified and free at the same time?

I haven't a clue but it's where I'm at right now--sad that Oma is gone, but feeling blessed to be alive with my girl by my side.

April 4, 2013

super cute, fun, easy DIY baby shower invites

My BFF (cousin) in the whole world is expecting a baby in mid-June. Her first. She's older, like me, (she's six months older at 41 nah nah!) and ridiculously excited for this baby. No, I mean like she-sent-me-a-handmade-card-with-a-photo-of-the-4-D-image-of-the-baby's-face-and-poem excited.
I knew as soon as I found out she was knocked up that I wanted to throw her a shower. Problem is that she's in Jersey City and I'm in Chicago and she's not coming back this way before baby is born. So I got together with her in-laws who are throwing her a shower in Pennsylvania and together, we're throwing showers on the same day. The one in Chicago will just be done without the Mama-to-Be in attendance... though she will be there via Skype (I hope this works out as I've never Skyped before).
I had my own ideas before putting these together... I was going with either cupcakes or ballerina because my girly girl cousin (so unlike me) loves cupcakes and dance. But then the in-laws were talking about doing a bee theme because my BFF bought some sort of bee bedding for the babee. ;) So I went with that. And am so glad. I mean, HOW CUTE ARE THESE?

This was SO easy to do and I think I even saved some money.

  • I created the invite text with bugs on picmonkey.com- all for free and printed in only black on printer at work (free).
  • I picked up soft pink, heavy card stock at Michaels for like $.69 a sheet. Each sheet is cut in half length wise then folded. So... 2 invites per sheet.
  • I picked up the yellow paper from Hobby Lobby for like $.40 a sheet. Again, each sheet is cut in half both horizontally and vertically so I got 4 invite inserts to each sheet.
  • I picked up 3D stickers with bugs and flowers from Hobby Lobby for like $3.50 a package (x 3 packages) and placed a couple on to each outside of the card.
  • I picked up a pack of 25 envelopes from Hobby Lobby for like $4, I think.
  • Washi tape (purchased online for $1 or so) is used to tape on the invite text paper on to the card stock.
  • Glue stick (to adhere a little from what the Washi tape isn't holding).

April 3, 2013

a shortened version of "I left at 10 that morning."

Mama and her deep creases in her face and glowing bloodshot eyes open the door for me to come into the house. She tells me that the night before was the hardest and longest. She’s so distraught; she wants peace for Oma, but nobody really wants it to be the end.

A few minutes later, Mama goes to shower downstairs and I move a chair into the hallway just outside Oma’s room to sit. The shades, always open during the daytime, are closed. My eyes start to flood with tears.

Take her. Take her now.

Her mouth hangs open. Breaths are so hard, far and few between.

I watch and listen.

Her mouth gently closes for the first time since I arrived.

Take her. Take her now.

I keep watching—not wanting to wake her, yet wanting her to know that I was there, that she wasn’t alone.

Oma's mouth slowly drops back open.

I wait for a gurgle, a hard breath.


“Breathe,” I whisper.


Oh dear God.

I lean in closer to look. Breathe, Oma, breathe.

Tears flood my face. This isn’t happening. I remind *myself* to breathe.

There’s a knock on the door to the house.


“I think she’s gone,” I greet Michelle, the hospice nurse. “Like literally just now. I think…I don’t know but…”

“Okay. It’s okay I will go check.” She walks toward Oma’s room.

Shaking, I follow.

She takes Oma’s hand in hers, then looks at her chest. I quickly turn away to stop myself from crumbling.

Wiping my face, I turn back to peek into Oma’s room where I see a glowing light from Michelle’s cell phone.

She’s calling someone because Oma is gone.

Michelle comes out and nods her head Yes: “She’s gone.”

Holding my face with my hands, Michelle puts her arms around me.

I cry into her shoulder for a minute, leaving a trail of salty tears and snot. “Can I see her again?”

“Of course.”


Her mouth is still hanging open. She’s as white as fresh snow. I hold her wiry, cold hand and ever so gently pet the top of it. I cry and cry, telling her to say Hello to Ota…to eat some cookies and Schnitzel…to fatten up a bit. I thank her for being the most incredible, most inspiring woman I have ever been blessed enough to know… for letting me tell her I love her, for telling me it in return.

“I love you so much,” I weep, gently putting her hand back down and kissing her forehead.

Walking out of the room, I realize Mama is still in the bathroom downstairs.

I take in a deep breath and push it out slowly, repeating this with every step down to the basement.



The bathroom door opens. I walk to her with arms stretched out to catch her, saying “she’s gone” all at the same time.

“What?!” Mama shrieks as we embrace, something we never do.

“Oma,” I whisper into her gray hair. “She’s gone.”

I don’t want to let her go. I don’t want her to go upstairs, to see her mother—skin and bones, mouth ajar—lifeless.

But I do it...I let go.


Linking this up with Yeah Write who've requested not going over 500 words. I wanted to link up my original piece, but it was too long. I still went over the 500 words but not by much, I promise.

Please don't be sad for me. I'm so very blessed to have had so much time with her and to have been able to be there at the very end.

April 2, 2013

I left at 10 that morning.

The past several months I always left work at 11 when I would visit, yet last Wednesday I left at 10.

When my mom opens the door for me to come in, I see her eyes are bloodshot, the lines on her face seem to have deepened. She tells me the night before was the hardest and longest. She’s so very distraught; she wants peace for Oma, but nobody really wants it to be the end.

My mom goes to shower downstairs and I move a chair into the hallway just outside Oma’s room. The shades, always open during the daytime, are closed. My eyes start to flood with tears when I see the state in which she just lay there on her bed.

Take her. Take her now.

Her mouth practically hangs open. Breaths so fucking hard, so far and few between.

I sit there watching, listening, thinking. Her mouth gently closes for the first time since I got there.

Take her. Take her now.

I keep watching, not wanting to wake her, yet wanting to… Wanting her to know that I was there, that she wasn’t alone. Never ever alone.

Oma’s mouth slowly drops open and I wait for a gurgle, a hard breath.  

I widen my eyes, push my head out. No gurgles. No movement.


“Breathe,” I whisper.  Take in a hard breath already.


Oh dear God.

I lean in closer. It’s dark, maybe I’m just missing it. Breathe, Oma, breathe.

Tears flood my face. I remind myself to breathe. I wipe away my tears, clearing my vision.

There’s a knock on the door and I turn my head to look behind me toward the door to the house, still listening for a gurgle.

It’s a hospice nurse.

“I think she’s gone,” I greet the nurse. “Like literally just now. I think…I don’t know but …”

“OK. It’s OK I will go check.”

She walks through the kitchen, into the living room and into the small hall that leads into Oma’s room.

Shaking, I force myself to follow her as I peek in behind her. She’s got Oma’s hand in hers. I can tell she’s looking for a pulse. The night before her blood pressure was already super low at 50 over 35. I quickly turn away to cry into my hands, to catch my breath. I know she’s gone. I knew before the knock on the door. I wipe my face and turn back to peek into Oma’s room and I can see a glowing light from the nurse’s cell phone. I know she’s calling someone…9-1-1?

She’s calling someone because Oma is gone.

With my hands covering my mouth to hold it shut, to stop the screaming, the nurse comes out and nods her head yes: “She’s gone.”

My hands hold my face as Michelle puts her arms around me.

I cry into her shoulder for a minute, leaving a wet spot from tears and snot. “Can I see her again?”

“Of course.”

I walk into Oma’s room. Her mouth is still hanging open. She’s as white as fresh snow. I take her boney, cold hand into mine and ever so gently pet the top of it. I cry and cry and tell her to tell Ota we all say hello. I tell her to eat some cookies and Schnitzel, to fatten up a bit. I thank her for being the most incredible, most inspiring woman I have ever been blessed enough to know. I thank her for the past couple of months, for letting me tell her I love her, for telling me it in return. “I love you so much,” I say, gently putting her hand back down.

I walk out of the room and realize my mom is still in the bathroom downstairs… she has no idea her mother is gone.

I start taking in deep breaths and releasing slowly. Over and over again in rhythm to walking down the stairs.

Standing just outside the bathroom door, I say, “Mama?”

“Yeah?” she calls from the bathroom.

She opens the door and I walk to her and hug her and say “she’s gone” all at the same time.

“What?!” Mama shouts as we cry and embrace, something we never do.

“Oma,” I whisper into her gray hair. “She’s gone.”

I don’t want to let her go. I don’t want her to go upstairs. I don’t want her to see her mother, skin and bones, mouth ajar, lifeless.

But I do it...I let go.

We take solace in knowing Oma wanted this. She wanted to go. And she’s now with her beloved husband and her parents, whom she missed so much. She’s no longer struggling to breath, to eat, to live. She’s in peace and she will never ever be forgotten.