Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pack, Unpack, Pack, Unpack...

and the cycle continues...
I had NO idea that I would be away from home this much this month. Usually i LOVE getting to travel and spend time with all our family and friends, but this past week was just plain tough. We are trying to settle back in to a normal routine, there's not much else we can do but that at this point. There are SO many big events coming up in the next week alone that my head is literally spinning! This if Maggie's last week of Kindergarten and she is loving every minute of it. They are done with the work and this week is pretty much a fun week! Tuesday was farm day and yesterday was beach day. As you can see from the picture below, they had a great time outside yesterday. Maggie came home telling me she had TWO banana popsicles at school! I think if you click the picture below it will take you to the article on the school site about Kindergarten being the class of the week. I'm sure i will still be trying to "de-sand" her hair when I get back from Chicago on Sunday night! She told me "someone" threw it up in the air momma...suuurrreee they did! lolI leave for Chicago EARLY tomorrow morning, and all though I can't wait to go, it's bittersweet as they changed the day of Maggie's class picnic from today to tomorrow. Aunt Sharon is coming down to stay with the kids this weekend as Greg has to work all weekend. At least she will be able to drive down and play at the park with the kids tomorrow. This is the first time i've ever travelled without my children, so there is a lot of things I have to do just to get THEIR weekend accomplished, let alone MY weekend in Chicago! Last Wednesday, while at the hospital, was the first night I've ever been away from Fionn overnight even, soooo...yeah it's going to be an interesting weekend!!
I can't wait to be in Chicago tomorrow, but know that life gets crazy again as soon as I land on Sunday! Monday is *gasp* my 31st birthday, and Mema is driving down to celebrate it with us, and Aunt Sharon is staying through Tuesday as well. Maggie has them right where she wants them(and ladies there is nothing wrong with that, just stating a fact) because she's convinced them to both be here for her Kindergarten graduation on Tuesday morning!! Fionn's re-scheduled 1st birthday dr.appt is also Tuesday and then Everyone is coming back next weekend to babysit while we're at the Kenny Chesney show on Saturday( I love FABULOUS grandparents) AND Maggie's dance recital on SUNDAY!! whewwww...told ya my head was spinning!! Somewhere in there I may get to unpack, LOL So forgive me for my silence over the next week, but I'll be back soon with lots of great stories! I havn't even gotten to share a picture from Fionn's party yet!! Well here is one...He wasn't so sure about the 60+ people singing Happy Birthday to him, but it was beautiful...I wish the camcorder battery had been charged(bad momma) Once again, he made a mess of the cake, but none actually got in his mouth! If you click on the picture you will see the cake turned out great!! My aunt came through and ordered it from a fabulous bakery in Waterford called Sweet Temptations!! I just called and left a message to see if they have a website I can link a pic of the cake too, and will post a seperate post if I hear back from them!! It's amazing that two weeks ago I had a small meltdown about their being no power and it was raining an hour and a half before his party, little did I know what God would have in store for me over the next week. What a way to put things in perspective! As you can see it all turned out fabulous, and I really had no reason to worry so much. Why do we, as parents, put so much pressure on ourselves? I know I'm not the only one, so why do we do it?? Do you all make big deals out of birthdays, because we do, i mean BIG deals! Week long celebrations usually, not just one day! I know that my children know I love them, but why do we feel the need to go so BIG? I mean, we had a "small" party and yes, there were still over 60 people there...for a FIRST birthday! I don't ever regret it, just wish we got to actually talk to and enjoy all our family and friends in the short time we do get to spend with them!
Okay before my chilren beat each other up any farther I suppose I should go mediate...Have a great weekend everyone!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A great story

Today was a sad day, and a hard day, but we made it through it. I am so proud to be Maggie and Fionn's mommy. They were so wonderful today, and they made life easy for me when I didn't really have the capacity to be a great mom. Maggie literally grabbed my head and put it on her shoulder at one point comforting me. It's always hard to explain loss to our babies, to explain what happens next. They KNOW about heaven, and that gramma went there, but they don't REALLY understand why they can't talk to them anymore. At least I know that Maggie has always struggled with that. I was just reading Amanda's blog, and she had this great little story on her blog that I loved. So i thought I would share it with you. Maggie and I just read it together and we both really enjoyed it. Thanks Amanda!

The Dragonfly

Once, in a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond with few disturbances and interruptions.

Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew when this happened; their friend had passed, gone forever.

Then, one day, the little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top.

When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided he must take a nap. As he slept, his body changed and when he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful blue-tailed dragonfly with broad wings and a slender body designed for flying.

So, fly he did! And, as he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what he had never known existed.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now he had passed. He wanted to go back to tell them, and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. But, his new body would not go down into the water. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he understood that their time would come, when they, too, would know what he now knew. So, he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Where to Begin?

This is NOT the post I had been planning a few days ago. I was busy recovering from a fun birthday weekend with Fionn, and was still not completely unpacked Wednesday when I got a phone call that has forever impacted our lives...
I'm not even sure where to begin with this story my friends, it's just all happened to fast and furious for me to process all the way through yet, so please bear with me...
My dad called me Wednesday morning(around 10am) to tell me that he had just gotten a call from Hamot(big hospital in Erie, Pa for those of you not local) that my step-mother had been life flighted there THE NIGHT BEFORE. Seriously, 12 hours before almost. This was the first I even heard that she was even in the hospital. So I told my dad I would start calling people and let them know while he raced to get there to see her. I called family to see what all was going on, to find out that my step-mom had fallen(she has her own apt.that is assisted living-LONG story) and they were guessing it was sometime overnight Monday and was found Tuesday morning by her care-giver. They rushed her to the hospital in Corry, but my father never called because she was doing fine. A few scrapes were the worst of it they thought. They were having a little trouble getting her BP to stabalize, but nothing they were really concerned about. My dad was there with her for most of the day Tuesday, then left late afternoon to go run errands and told her he would be back in the morning. We STILL don't have the details, but around 9:45pm Tuesday night, they had to put her on the heli-copter to Erie(a 45 minute drive at most) NO ONE in my family was contacted by the Corry Hospital, so she was there in Hamot in the M-ICU alone for TWELVE hours.
My step-brother rushed home from Alabama, and the kids and I came home. Since my babies are still too young to go in, my wonderful sister and brother in law watched the kids for me Wednesday night so I could be there with her. I still don't understand how we lost her so fast. She was just at Fionn's party on Saturday, and said she was doing well. I noticed that she had lost more weight, but she said it was just from the medicine she was taking.
I got there around 9pm Wednesday night, she was un-responsive, but I like to think that those hand squeezes I got when I was talking to her were NOT well timed "jerks" but that she actually knew I was there. She never opened her eyes, even though earlier in the day she had been trying to communicate with my dad and aunt. She held on until my step-brother got there, but then she let go. The machines were then doing all the work for her, so we had to make the decision that every family dreads and let her go. I got to hold her hand as she went to meet our Heavenly Father.
I had scripture that I had planned on putting in this post, words of wisdom that I wanted to write, but right now my brain cannot process all the information yet. They will have to wait. Greg is on his way home to be with us, and we are going to order flowers for tomorrow and then take the kids to the zoo to give Maggie a bit of normalcy before tomorrow. I started writing this post last night, but ended up falling asleep with the laptop open with Maggie clinging to me. It all came out at bedtime. All her questions and fears, and we both were sobbing. I felt less like a mommy and more like just another little girl who was crying along with her. I did what I could do to answer her questions as she asked them, and just assured her that gramma was with Jesus now.
So in the words of of one of our favorite songs...
"A picture is worth a thousand words, but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered"
"You should have seen it in color"
The rest of the world will only see the black and white next to her obituary in the paper today, but you need to see the color. The happiness, the beauty of the day and her life. These pictures were from our wedding. They are the only pictures I have access to here at my aunts. Ironically this is the dress my father and uncle chose for her to wear tomorrow.
Please pray for my father tomorrow, I don't think he's processed it all yet. He is a man of few words, but he has the biggest HEART I have ever seen. We will say good-bye tomorrow at noon, if you could keep us in your prayers it would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Fionn!

Yep, a good one. It was rough, but this is what we got!
Tomorrow (Saturday) is Fionn's actual Birthday, but we will be home celebrating with all our family and friends and un-able to post, so I thought that I better do it now, before we head out the door and it's too late.
What a year it's been. Who would have guessed that one year ago(our post from the day he was born can be read here) we would have faced what we did. EIGHT days in the NIC-U later and our boy was finally ours. Thank you for all of you that have been there for it with us. Life was forever changed by one little boy. I thank god everyday that we got to bring him home and watch him grow!! Happy Birthday Fionn, we love you!! Thank you for being the PERFECT addition to our crazy family!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

1st Birthday Pictures

So I knew it would be difficult, all first birthday pictures are...the one I got of Maggie once she was mobile was her banging on the backdrop, and I was happy with that...why I thought I could do better the second time around, no idea...I'm crazy like that...
You all know how much Fionn LOVES(I'm sorry, sarcasm doesn't really convey well on a blog) my lights, but I thought with the right timing and help from daddy we would be can see the outcome...
He was fine the WHOLE day, while I got everything set up he crawled under my feet. Greg took him out to swing in the hammock chair while I got my camera set, and this is what happened when they came back in the room. NOTHING we did made it better. Everything he normally likes made him cry harder...we tried new things, we got MAYBE a minute of smiles!
48 hours until our boy turns ONE

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BUSY Mother's day

Sunday dawned bright and early at our house. We had daddy to work, and we were parked downtown by 7am getting ready for the walk. I had NO IDEA how big the event was, but they said there was a "good" turnout...HA...there were 40,000+ people there!
There were great sponsors there, and Maggie was handed Rita's mango ice at 7:10am...not a bad way to start the day in her mind! I know you are thinking "what kind of mom lets her kid have Italian Ice for breakfast" well this mom actually! I got her up at the butt crack of dawn and made her wade through crowds to walk a 5k on a Sunday...I think she deserved it! From there we went on to get a doughnut, yogurt, some milk, and I think she even grabbed us a nutri-grain cookie from somewhere.
I wedged my jogger through the crowds to get a coffee and then took Maggie to get her face painted at the kids zone. She saw a bunch of people running around with the pink capes, so off we went in search of them...It wasn't even 8am yet! We watched the survivor parade(3000 strong) and watched as they released a flock of doves up into the beautiful blue sky before we headed off to find our starting line. THOUSANDS of people were headed the same way, so it took a while to funnel everyone in the right direction! I'm not sure when the walk started, but we just kept going, and eventually we saw the start sign. UP, UP, UP we climbed through Schenley Park walking our 5K. Poor girl, good thing I let her start with that Rita's...all she wanted was to sit down. I did not prepare either of us for all uphill waking, but we made it. We stopped at the first "pit-stop" and were in line for the restrooms when we ran into some friends from St. Philip's. It made the rest of the walk easier for Maggie to have other kids to play with. This is one of my favorite pictures from the Race for the Cure. Maggie and her friend were running up the side of the hill next to where the walk was, with their pink capes flowing behind them!

The course wound it's way past this fountain, so we had to stop and take a picture...she looks annoyed because I had just taken another one with my I-phone and she wanted to go catch up to her friends...At the finish line! She walked the WHOLE way!

Fionn slept the whole way, but woke up to share in a little ice cream afterward!

After the race we decided to go spend a quiet afternoon at the zoo since Greg only worked until 3:30pm we would then be close and just go get him. Little did I know(or pay attention to) that the zoo was running a special for Mother's Day. Any mom accompanied to the zoo by her children got in free. What a great special, but the zoo was PACKED...I mean just as packed as the walk it seemed! It was also Child Safety Day and a bunch of local(and federal) Law Agencies were on hand for the kids to meet. This sheriff was GREAT with Maggie. She waited patiently to sit in his car (he was letting the kids talk on his loud speaker) and when it was her turn he got down on his knee and called her "his princess" She just giggled away and hammed it up. He introduced himself as "Knight ????"(Sorry nice officer, it was a LONG day) and then helped her into his car and let her talk on the Loud Speaker...He had her say "happy mother's day" and "I love you Mom" and she was THRILLED!
Let's leave it as the highlight of the trip...
All Maggie wanted to do after the walk in the morning was play on a playground, but since the roads were still closed into Schenley, we thought we could just play at the little play area at the zoo. Since there were so many people there and the lines were SO long we skipped most of the bigger attractions. We are there so much that the kids didn't even care. We played for a little bit at the play area, then packed up and headed off to go get Greg. We walked ALL THE WAY out to the line for the elevators when I looked down and noticed one of Fionn's shoes missing! Panic set in, if I went to look for it, we would surely be late going to get Greg, BUT it was our FAVORITE pair of his shoes. His Merrells that I ADORE. He has the chubbiest feet and it's so hard to find shoes for him that we like that I HAD to go looking for it. And that folks is where our day went to pieces...We searched for an hour, got stuck in traffic of everyone trying to LEAVE the zoo, and were an hour late getting Greg from work. We did NOT find the shoe, no idea where it went, but we were all exhausted by the time we got home. Maggie and I both plopped in chairs and didn't move. Greg made us dinner, and brought it to us where we sat. For those of you that don't know, our zoo is all up-hill as well, and it's a we literally walked ALL day on Sunday. My legs still hurt! I came upstairs to change my clothes after dinner, and made the mistake of sitting on my bed. I was OUT. So for those of you I didn't get to wish Happy Mother's Day to, please forgive me, but I couldn't move! I was so tired that somehow I lost a contact off my eye while I was sleeping, and I had JUST put a fresh new pair in that morning!
Before I go, I just have to give a little shout out to my sweet husband... I Love You!
I didn't even know that Mother's Day post was here until my aunt told me Monday morning! I am one lucky woman!!
Also I have to say THANK YOU to the Pittsburgh Zoo. They FOUND Fionn's shoe, and not only are they holding it for us, they put it back in the mail to us TODAY, Free of Charge! If you are not a member, I tell you, it's worth every PENNY!
I'll post more pictures of the race tomorrow, these were just my favorites!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there. I hope it is a blessed and joyous day in which you are celebrated for the amazing job that you do. I just wanted to drop a quick note, and tell you about a woman you are all familiar with. My wife, the mother of our children, is amazing, and that does not even begin to put how I feel into words. I am sooooooo proud of her and all of the work she does and the great example she is for our kids. On top of raising a 5 year old, a almost 1 year old, and a 31 year old, she spends countless hours giving back through various charities, such as NILMDTS, March for Babies, and the Race for the Cure to name a couple. This morning when many Mom's reval in the opportunity to relax a breathe deeply Ging had the kids packed and ready to take me to work so they could all do the Pittsburgh walk to for the cure. I think Mag's is having fun collecting new t-shirts, but it is the small things enstilled in our children to give back that make amazing families. So from Maggie, Fionn, and Me; We Love You Mumma, thanks for being you, the bestest Mumma in Pittsburgh, you are awesome and our hero. I hope today you feel as special as you make us feel everyday.

Happy Mothers Day

What a great poem isn't it? We are out and about bright and EARLY today, no sweet brunches or teas, but a walk this morning. A walk to remember and honor a very special mother who was taken out of my life way too soon. I realized tonight that I don't even have any pictures here in our house of my grandmother, she died when I was so young, but in my heart I still feel her love. And am told of it often, of how she prayed and prayed for me when I was a baby. The only video i've seen of us together was that of my first birthday, where I was sitting on her both hers and my sweet grammy's lap blowing out my candles.
Breast Cancer stole my grandmother way too early, and tomorrow we RACE FOR THE CURE! We wear PINK to honor her and all the other MOTHER'S that were taken from us too soon!
Enjoy your beautiful day together with your children my dear friends, Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Favorite Things...

Oprah has a favorite things list, so why can't I? Anyway, I am lucky enough to have a FABULOUS mother in-law, and any of you that know her, know what I'm talking about. I am truly one lucky lady to have been so blessed with a second mother, not a mother IN LAW.(and I'm not just saying that b/c she's an avid reader of this blog either ;-) My in-laws just got back from vacation in NC, and while they were they there she called about these flip-flops she found, and was so excited about them...she knows that I LOVE shoes, esp. flip flops and live in them almost year 'round. She was telling me about them, telling me they are inter-changeable flip flops that I can change the tops...I didn't know they were nearly this cute when she was telling me about them! I LOVE them! So I thought I would share them with you...they are called Switch Flops You can go check out all the cool combination's at the site through that link. There are some really cute combos! I got the original pair above, with the yellow polka dot "strap" to change it to the pair you see below! Isn't that great! Yellow makes me happy, and you can never have too many cute black sandals!

Something else I found last week at Wal-mart while we were shopping were these organic granola bars. I'm a big quaker granola bar fan, but thought I would give these a shot. There was a coupon and besides the kind I bought were dark chocolate/almond. TWO big thumbs up! They are acutally gooey still(like a fresh rice crisy treat) and the almond slices are fabulous...the dark chocolate was just an extra little treat! There are quite a few other kinds and you can read more about Cascadian Farms just by following the link!

And last but NOT least, not even by a mile, how AWESOME is this bracelet? My sweet girl made it for me today at school and couldn't wait until Sunday to give it to me! Yeah, I adore it! The look on her face when she gave it to me was priceless ( i had to close my eyes as she dug it out of her bag) She LOVES giving people gifts, and she told me that she knows that I REALLY want a new camera, so she told me that's what her and daddy are going to get me for Mothers Day! I highly doubt the camera I want is going to come as a Mother's Day gift, but it really was a sweet thought! (she also knows there's an American Girl store in Chicago where I'm headed at the end of this month, and she has her eye on a new doll too...) I'm sure that has NOTHING to do with it though! In case I'm not back this weekend (we have company coming in the morning) I just want to wish you all a beautiful and HAPPY Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yummy(Weight Watchers) Lasagna

Tomato and Pepper Lasagna
POINTS® Value: 5
Preparation Time:
20 min
Cooking Time:
65 min
Level of Difficulty:
Comforting layers of pasta, tomatoes, peppers and cheese. So good and so filling! A definite hit in cold-weather months.

24 oz. Marinara sauce, store bought
1 cup(s) canned diced tomatoes, fire-roasted, drained
1 cup(s) part skim ricotta cheese
1 cup(s) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup(s) shredded Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano suggested
1/4 cup(s) fat free egg substitute
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
6 item(s) dry lasagna noodles, regular or whole wheat
1/2 cup(s) roasted red peppers, water-packed, cut into thin strips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a small pot, combine marinara sauce and tomatoes; set over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses; stir to combine. Stir in egg substitute, salt, pepper and oregano.
Spoon 1 cup of sauce in bottom of an 11- X 7-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 2 lasagna noodles over sauce, down center of dish. Spread half of cheese mixture (about 1 cup) over noodles; top with pepper strips. Place 2 more noodles on top; spread with remaining cheese mixture. Top with 1 cup of marinara sauce; place remaining 2 lasagna noodles on top. Spoon remaining sauce over top and gently press down on lasagna.
Cover dish loosely with aluminum foil; bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake until sauce is lightly browned and noodles are tender when tested with a knife, about 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to firm up slightly. Slice into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

I made this lasagna tonight for dinner, and it was FABULOUS!! So fabulous I had to share i t! I didn't make it exactly as it's written, but close. I added a layer of baby spinach to it as well! I wasn't sure how filling it would be without meat, but i'm telling you, it's really filling! Enjoy, let me know if you make it!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mischief Maker

Who would have ever thought that one so small and sweet would cause so much trouble? Well not me, and we're still recovering! She lured me in with this sweet smile, convinced me to bring her back to Pittsburgh with us for the week, the proceeded to challenge my every move!
My niece Mattisen came to stay for the week last week, and it def. made me want to question if we are going to have more kids or not. I know "borrowing" someone else's child is never the same, but WOW is all I can say. "Mischief" should be her middle name!
I will post more fun pictures from our week last week once Maggie is on the mend. We are headed to the doctors in the morning to see what's going on exactly. She is coughing, sneezing, has chills and hot flashes, a fever and a runny nose...she is miserable and has pretty much been clinging to mommy. Fionn's not so sure about sharing, so guess who else has been, literally, climbing my legs...yep, the almost birthday boy! So more tomorrow after we get some news!