Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Attitude adjustment

At 4:30 in the afternoon, I have finally decided to enjoy my day spent at home with the kids. Matthew left for work before 5:30 this morning and won't be home until after the kids go to bed. (If they go to bed.) I thought I'd be housebound but my sister let me borrow her car. It has been sitting in my driveway undriven (undriven?) all day. I babysat for Rex this morning, Jonah's little friend (my babysitting swap thing), so we stayed home. Jonah napped today and is still asleep so I didn't need the car to induce a late afternoon snooze. I also figured if he didn't sleep or took a short nap I could run some errands with the kids. But now it's already getting dark. It's cold. We've spent the last four or five days running around to parties and such, which has been great. But, sometimes, staying home is pretty great, too. I have a gazillion things to do to get ready to host Christmas at my house for the first time ever (errands), but most of them can wait another day. Some of them have to wait, like cooking and baking. So, I'm going to keep this short so I can enjoy the rare feeling of being alone in my house (even though I'm really not) and the even rarer silence. It may only last another minute, or maybe 30. But, I'm going to welcome it, and embrace my day at home with the kids. We all needed it. And, maybe this attitude shift will help the rest of the day and evening go smoothly . ~ Nicole

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three today

As I sat nursing Julian tonight, I thought back over the past three years and realized that I can still remember Jonah's whole life, beginning at 9:33 p.m. on December 20, 2007. I remember my long labor and how exhausted I was from his birth. I remember he looked a little gray and took a few moments to breathe and cry. I remember the surprise in Matthew's voice when he told me "It's a boy!" I remember the first car ride with him, how he slept soundly until the very moment we stopped the car. I remember the first delirious night with him, how helpless we felt not knowing how to soothe him and how we were so tired that Matthew couldn't figure out how to put the bouncy seat together. I remember the panic and isolation I felt the first few times I was home alone with him after Matthew went back to work. I remember my first feelings of finally "having it together" as a mom, at times anyway. I remember when he cut his first tooth, the night we went camping -- no one slept at the campground that night! I remember the first time I made him giggle as he played on his belly on the living room floor. I remember when he learned to crawl, when he first saw the ocean, the first night he slept in his crib, his first shots, his first cold, his first steps at his 1st birthday party at my sister's house. I remember when he fell on his forehead, tumbling down while learning to walk and the awful conk of his head hitting the pavement (but he was fine). I remember the delicious feeling of my first night of sleep, wearing earplugs while Matthew tended to his night wakings. I remember the first time he slept through the night. I remember when we took him to the beach when he was old enough to play with us in the surf and build (and smash) sand castles, and letting him eat ice cream. I remember his baby smell. I remember his sweaty head of thick hair when it was hot and he played hard. I remember getting in the bath with him after several of those hot and sweaty afternoons. I remember when he almost swallowed a wood chip at the playground and I was so scared I had to sit down and take deep breaths to stop my hands from shaking. I remember when I didn't know where he was for almost an hour because I couldn't reach my friend who was watching him and how I literally thought I would die if I didn't find him. (We did. He was fine. Her phone wasn't working and she hadn't realized I never got her messages telling us where to meet them.) I remember how we were like pals the summer before he turned 2, going everywhere around the city, every day doing something fun together and finally being able to talk about it. I remember weaning him when I got pregnant again and how guilty I felt when he got a string of colds and then an ear infection. I remember how suddenly grownup he seemed at 2 and then 2 1/2. I remember agonizing about his care during my labor and birth with baby number two. I remember him kissing my belly, talking to the baby, singing to the baby and telling us we should name the baby Mia, regardless of whether it was a boy or girl. I remember thinking about him that first night after Julian was born, hoping he didn't wake up scared at his cousin's house in the middle of the night. I remember how happy I was to see him the next morning and how disinterested he was at first with Julian. I remember the first time he held Julian and how proud he seemed. I remember all of this and so much more.

Now, he is 3. He's not too sure if he likes being 3 yet. He seems uncertain of growing up, sometimes. Other times, he is determined to "do it all by myself." He is beautiful. Those amazing greenish, blueish eyes with flecks of brown and the longest eyelashes I've ever seen. Puffy lips and still retaining some baby chub in his cheeks. But, he is longer and leaner than he has ever been. Less like a baby than ever. Except when he sleeps. Then, he is my baby once again. He is my first baby. He made me a mother. He has brought me so much joy. I am so lucky to be his mother.

He's been having trouble falling asleep tonight. I've been in there twice since he went to bed. I told him he should try to lie still and keep his eyes closed. I touched his cheek and head and said, "Good night. I love you." And, he said, kind of whispering in his slightly raspy voice, "I love you, too, Mama." I tried not to get tears on him as I kissed him good night. ~ Nicole

Monday, December 6, 2010


I am thinking about my belly. How it has changed. What it has done. It held and grew two big, beautiful baby boys. With Julian, my newborn of 9 pounds, 8 ounces, it was huge! And, no stretch marks. I'm trying to hold on to this admiration for my belly for as long as I can because it's not easy to do. I gained at least 40 pounds with each pregnancy. I think I stopped counting after that, so it was probably more. After Jonah was born, it took 9 solid months to lose it all. Then, when he started pre-walking and walking, I lost another 5 or so just trying to prevent him from killing himself. I'm probably on track for that with Julian, but I'm feeling mighty impatient this time. The scale seems to barely move. Most of my clothes still don't fit. And, despite this admiration for the awesomeness of the work my body did, growing and birthing two, healthy, amazing babies, my belly still feels big to me. Big and floppy. I often don't like it. It lies next to me sometimes when I nurse Julian in bed, like another baby or a pet curled up next to me. But, I don't love it like I would a baby or pet. Sometimes, I hate it, actually. I also often have mixed feelings about it. Like when Jonah notices it, pokes it with his little finger and says, "What's that?" "My belly," I say, as cheerfully as possible. "What's in there?" he asks. "Nothing," I say. I don't say, "Fat." My mind sits here while Jonah says, "I like it," and then asks, "What used to be in there?" And, then we talk about Julian. And, then we talk about Jonah. And, then, Jonah asks, "Where was Julian when I was in your belly?" And, I am stumped. Perhaps there will be more on this later.

Back to my belly. It is soft and squishy and white. I don't know how to dress it. How to flatter it. My body is foreign to me at the moment. My sizes are all weird. I don't know how to fit my body into clothes. I don't know how to find clothes that that fit me that I like. But, I still dig into the ice cream and I rarely find the time to exercise. I never do sit ups. I never run. Almost never. Not right now, anyway.

But! But, I went to a yoga class today. By myself. By. My. Self. And the teacher asked us to think of a place on our body that we wanted to focus on. My first thought was my belly. It just popped into my head. Then, I decided I didn't want to think about that. I tried to change the subject in my mind. I spent some moments trying to talk myself out of focusing on my belly. I thought, well, my back is sore, and that idea led me back to my belly, since the back and belly are connected. Then, I thought, well my hips feel pretty tight, but something kept pushing me back to try to keep up the courage to focus on and think about my belly. My belly needs my attention. At the beginning of class, my intention was to bring energy to my belly in a way that might help me focus on getting that soft, ample belly back into shape. I thought, okay, I will focus on my belly and try to keep that going after class so that I can talk myself into doing a bit more exercise, doing some crunches or more yoga at home, or just go for a brisk walk, or maybe pass up the ice cream tonight. (Yeah, right.)

The teacher kept prompting us to bring our attention back to our spot. Back to my belly. Back and back and back again. It got a little less painful every time. I had a great class. Stretched and felt strong and sometimes wobbly and needing to practice balance. (A topic for another day, perhaps.) It was my first yoga class (without a baby in tow) since Julian was born. So, at the end, I got to lie on my back during the final relaxation and just let go. Silence. Stillness. Me and my belly. My awesome and amazing belly. I like it. ~ Nicole

Monday, November 1, 2010


Julian is sleeping. Of course.

We had a rough night. It seemed like he wanted to nurse almost continuously. If he did sleep in his cradle, it felt as though he woke up after only a short time in there. Matthew took him downstairs at around 6:30 a.m. and let me sleep in.

After a short nap before I woke up, Julian fell back to sleep in his swing more than an hour ago. He slept while Julian and I ate breakfast and talked about our plans for the day. I decided I'd be fine with staying home and playing indoors today and suggested that to Jonah. I figured he'd like that idea, too, since this is usually what he wants to do on the days when I want to get out of the house.

"No, I want to go somewhere," he said.

Okay, I thought. It's still early. I bet I can get both boys out of the house for a little while today.

"Where do you want to go?" I asked him.

"Is the library open today?" he said.

"No, not until this afternoon, so we can't go this morning but maybe Daddy can take you after your nap," I told him.

"Can we go to the bookstore?" he asked.

"Sure," I said, and started the getting-ready process.

We have a window of opportunity for activities with Jonah. He can only make it so long before he starts to get hungry for lunch and tired for his nap. Often, this happens at the same time and that's when we venture into meltdown territory. If I push it too much, we risk missing the window for him to go to sleep easily for his nap and that messes up the entire rest of the day, for everyone.

I like to be home by noon at the latest for a quick lunch. Then, nap by 1 or 1:30. Two if I push it a little.

Well, guess what? It's already 11 a.m. Jonah and I are both ready to go, but Julian sleeps.

I used to have no problem just picking him up out of the swing and taking him along. When I did this, he always woke up mid-nap, never staying asleep during the transfer from swing to carrier. Now that he is 4 months old, I am thinking more about his sleep patterns and much more reluctant to wake him up to make things more convenient for me or anyone else in this family. But, it comes with a price. I keep thinking he's bound to wake up any minute and then I can keep my plan of taking Jonah to the bookstore. But, the window of opportunity for Jonah is closing. Fast. Even if Julian wakes up now, I still have to change his diaper and probably nurse him before we leave. Then I have to bundle us all up, get him in the Ergo, get Jonah in the stroller, and start walking. It will take us about 10 minutes to walk to the bookstore. At this rate, it could be noon by the time we get there. Not ideal.

I think I'm going to have to abandon the plan, and I have to tell Jonah. He's going to have to learn to be more flexible now that Julian is here, I suppose, but I don't know many almost 3-year-olds who are very flexible.

This is just one of the many reasons I hate the question, "So, what have you been up to?" or "What did you do today?" I DID a lot, even if I didn't actually DO a lot.
~ Nicole

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My brain. My brain on babies.

Will I ever sleep again?
Will I ever exercise again?
Will I ever fit into my clothes?
Will my house ever be clean?
Will I ever make soup before the squash rot?
Will I ever be able to finish a conversation?
Will I ever feel like I'm being a good mom to each boy separately and both of them together?
Will I ever feel like I'm being a good wife?
Will I ever go out to dinner and a movie again?
Will I ever have more than a few minutes alone?
Will I ever finish the dishes?
Will I ever go back to work? And when I do will I still feel like I'm employable?
Will Julian ever take a bottle, for real?
Will Jonah ever stop having tantrums?
Is it normal to want to scream my head off for no apparent reason?
Will we ever buy a house?
Will we ever buy a second car?
Will I ever feel organized again?
Will we ever finish unpacking?
Will Jonah ever go to bed on time again?
Will both kids ever take naps at the same time?
Will I ever finish a project? Will I ever START a project?
Will Jonah ever stop wearing diapers?
Will Julian ever sleep in a crib?
Will Julian ever sleep somewhere other than my bedroom?
Will comments like, "Cherish these moments" ever stop bugging me?
Will I ever shave my legs again?
Will I ever give up my ice cream every day habit?
Will I ever do yoga again?
Will I ever write all the thank you notes?
Will I ever write in Julian's baby book?
Will I ever send out Julian's birth announcements?
Will I ever return all my emails and phone calls?
Will I ever finish my "to do" list? Will I ever do more than keep re-writing my "to do" list?
Will the bags under my eyes ever go away?
Will I ever find time to actually write again?
Will this list ever end?
~ Nicole

Saturday, October 9, 2010

No more time

My days are full but don't ask me what I've been doing. I have two kids and feel guilty every day that I am never able to find a few minutes to do many of the things I used to like to do. One of those is writing. I wrote and wrote and wrote when I was pregnant with Jonah, and wrote some more when he was a baby and growing into a toddler. Now, Jonah is nearly 3 and Julian is 3 months. The precious free moments I have are usually spent in one of three ways: sleeping, bathing or catching up on chores that have piled up in my house. I yearn to write more, to read more. Every so often, I catch a few minutes on the computer and find a good, if short, read. Here, I will share one with you. One that resonates with me right now, after having house guests of one sort or another over four days last week. After whipping our house into shape, moving as many unpacked boxes out of their way as possible, hanging pictures and putting out flowers literally moments before their arrival. Anyway, I had time to read the blog on Motherwoman's website today. Well, I had time to read one post. And, I can relate. So I will post the link here in case someone else is interested in reading a nice little story about the life of a mom caring for two kids. I comment the writer, Allison, for her honesty and for carving out the space in her life to write it. I hope to get there someday, too.

~ Nicole

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Bilirubin. I hate the word. I don't even really understand it, but I know that I am tired of talking about it.

Julian has, or had, jaundice. He is 7 weeks old and he still has a bit of yellow to his eyes. Normally, jaundice in newborns clears up much sooner. Usually by around 2 weeks. When Julian was 2 1/2 weeks old, his doctor advised us to take Julian to the emergency room to have his bilirubin level checked. It was 13. Higher than normal for that age but not dangerous, we were told. At his 4-week well baby appointment, his doctor advised us to get another blood test. The result: his bilirubin had gone up, not down, to 14. At that point, his doctor prescribed the biliblanket. A couple days later, his doctor examined him and said we should keep using the blanket during a five-day trip to Washington, D.C. Upon our return, we had Julian's blood tested yet again and his bilirubin was only down to 11. So, he's now 7 weeks old, and we are supposed to keep using the blanket, but now we also have to bring him back to the hospital this week for more blood tests and an ultrasound of his abdomen and liver. And, his doctor wants us to make an appointment for a consultation with a genetic counselor at a bigger hospital in a city. Not fun for any of us. Especially considering this kid wasn't even born in the hospital. (I know, I know, I haven't even written Julian's birth story, but I'll get to it. I'm going on very little sleep here.) All the while, I worry about Julian, even though, as far as we know, Julian's bilirubin level has never been high enough to be considered dangerous. But, his doctor wonders why his body hasn't cleared the bilirubin faster and what that means.

On top of everything else, our entire family, including Julian, have colds. Julian's is pretty mild and since he is nursing, I know he'll be fine and that it will be cleared up in a couple days. But, Jonah is snotty and coughing and irritable and can't sleep well and we are all a bit overwhelmed and cranky. And, I have a sore throat that I'm basically ignoring because I don't have time to wallow in my own sickness.

So, there you have it. Bilirubin. It sucks. Big time. ~ Nicole

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Daddy went back to work yesterday

Matthew went back to work yesterday. Well, sort of. He took an assignment. It was a quick one and not far away. And, we figured that we could use the money since he didn't work at all the week after Julian's birth. The only thing not ideal about it is that it fell during Jonah's naptime. So, it was up to me to put Jonah down for his nap. I figured Julian would probably be sleeping anyway, which is what he does most of the day, and we asked Matthew's sister, Jen, to come over as backup in case Julian needed attention. Jen lives nearby now, but she has her own baby, who is about 4 months old now.

I was also waiting for a call from Julian's pediatrician's office to see if I could get him in for a quick visit to check his jaundice, to make sure it was clearing. I got the call to come in for a 2:40 p.m. appointment, which meant I'd have to borrow Jen's car, since Matthew wouldn't yet be home from work. Everything would kind of have to line up for me to get Jonah down for his nap and take off in time for Julian's appointment. My first taste of the two-kid juggle, I guess.

After lunch, Matthew left. Jen arrived. And, Julian woke up. And, he was a bit fussy and wanting to nurse constantly. I didn't want to leave a crying baby with Jen and leave her to juggle two small babies in need of attention, so I decided to bring Julian in with me while I got Jonah ready for his nap. I nursed Julian for as long as I could before starting the nap process, still hoping he'd fall asleep, but no luck. At first, I put him down on Jonah's floor propped up with the boppy, while I changed Jonah's diaper. But, Julian wasn't happy there, so I nursed Julian on one lap while I read books to Jonah on the other lap. Thankfully, Jonah seemed fine with it, except that he kept pushing Julian's feet away whenever they touched him. It was a bit awkward for me, trying to keep Julian latched on (for some reason he kept popping off but still seeming to want to nurse) on one side and stay relaxed while reading to Jonah, who suddenly feels like a huge kid sitting on my lap. Finally, Julian seemed content, if awake, so I quickly stepped out to hand him off to Jen. Luckily, her daughter wasn't nursing and seemed happy and content. I went back in Jonah's room and tried to give him a hug and kiss, but he protested saying he wasn't ready to take his nap. Instead of getting frustrated, I tried empathizing with him and talking to him about the new situation, telling him it's OK to feel confused. Eventually, he gave me a big bear hug and two kisses and lay down in his crib. I sang to him, said goodnight and left and he went right to sleep! I still had plenty of time to grab another bite to eat, nurse Julian again (who promptly fell asleep) and get him into Jen's car to head up to the pediatrician.

As Jonah would say, I did it! ~ Nicole

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Baby Cavanaugh Number Two

Remember my homebirth in the hospital? That was how Jonah came into the world, after 62 hours of labor.

Well, a little over a week ago, on June 28 at 4:20 p.m., Julian Dean Cavanaugh was born after only 5 hours of labor (8 if you start counting when my water broke). This time, there was no castor oil, no endless walks to get contractions going, etc.

And, there was no hospital. Just me, Matthew, my midwives and doula. Dani and Marc were at work. Jonah was off on a playdate and getting ready for a sleepover with his cousin, Hugo, in Brattleboro, Vermont. (I'll admit that Jonah was never far from my mind, even after Julian was born. It was his first sleepover, I hadn't seen him all day, and I worried about his reaction when he did return home to find a new baby in the house. So far, he's very sweet with the baby, but we are all adjusting to our new family. More on that later.)

Julian was also huge, with a birth weight of 9 pounds, 8 ounces, almost 2 pounds more than Jonah. He got a little stuck at the end (shoulder dystocia), but my midwives handled it well, turned him sideways and guided him out, and neither Julian nor I had any major complications as a result. (Thanks also to one midwife being a craniosacral care provider.)

Labor this time around was a trip. My body just did its thing. It was a little scary, I have to admit, because even toward the end I still didn't believe it was happening so fast. I kept thinking, "This is too much. How can I handle this for a long time?" Then, I kind of woke up when my midwives kept telling me that my baby was coming in just a few minutes. I kept saying, "Really?" over and over almost until the very end. It was pretty painful, too, and I thought I was being a total baby about it, but my midwives and doula told me the opposite.

As I write this, Julian stirs. He doesn't like to sleep at night yet, only during the day. My family feels complete now, though I never imagined I'd have two boys, and it's great! ~ Nicole

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Behind every mother is a good aunt and uncle

Mother's Day was a mixed bag this year. Matthew has been working odd hours covering the Red Sox in Boston every day since Thursday. He hasn't been around for dinner or bedtime, which is taking its toll on me. But, I got a huge bouquet of lilacs from Matthew yesterday, which was exactly what I wanted. The scent fills our room. I just love these flowers, and they are blooming all over the place right now. And, this morning, after arriving home late last night, Matthew got up with Jonah while I slept in a bit, which I really needed since, at 7 months pregnant, I'm again having some trouble sleeping. (I have to get up to pee several times a night, my hips hurt and it takes a lot of effort these days to roll over and get comfortable again, not to mention the heartburn.) Luckily, Jonah slept in a bit, too, so that was great for Matthew.

We all had the morning together and had lots of fun hanging out at Matt and Kristy's house, chowing down on pancakes and strawberries and all kinds of other yummy brunchy foods while Jonah and their little boy, Rex, played around.

But, then, Jonah didn't nap. He just talked for two hours, yelled or cried once in a while and pretty much all around prevented me from taking a much-needed nap myself. Matthew had to leave for Boston again in the middle of the madness, and I ended up alone in the house, overtired and frustrated, with a nearly 2 1/2-year-old who was also sleep-deprived. I had planned to take Jonah over to my dad's after naptime so they could play in his yard before we all went out to dinner. But, that plan went out the window when I realized that I was way too tired to deal with any of it. An overtired toddler and restaurants usually do not mix. Plus, I had told Jonah that he needed to get lots of rest if he wanted to go to Pepe's. If he didn't sleep, he'd be too tired to play at Pepe's and go out to dinner. With my credibility on the line, I had to stick to my guns and cancel our plans.

Of course, as I sat alone in the living room and thought about my prospects for the rest of the day and evening, I started to cry. It's Mother's Day, for god's sakes! And, here I am all alone with a kid who seems fine now, as he plays with his trains, but will likely turn into a little beast in just a few short hours. I sat trying to figure out what to do when Jonah came over to me, put his hands on my lap and said, "Mama. Mama," in his raspy little voice. Not pleading, but almost like, "C'mon, Mama. It's not that bad." Then he pulled himself up onto my lap, wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. After I put him down, he said, "You feeling better now," and went back to playing with his trains. That hug was another highlight of my day. And, I did, indeed, momentarily feel better.

I still didn't know what to do. I still felt sad that I was all alone with Jonah on Mother's Day. But, luckily, I live in someone else's house right now, and a short while later, the others came home: Neeni and Uncle Marc. Jonah was very happy to see them, and I was even happier. I told them what happened and how tired I was and started crying again. They promptly sent me to bed, called Pepe for me and then whisked Jonah away for a walk to the park. The house was quiet and I slept until dinner, a dinner prepared by Neeni and Uncle Marc.

Sadly, Pepe never showed up for dinner as we expected, but I felt much better able to handle my overtired toddler's evening routine after a nice nap. With little fanfare and no response to his protests, I peeled off the jacket he refused to remove for Neeni and Uncle Marc when he arrived home from the park. When he didn't want to wash his hands before dinner, I convinced him it would be fun to wash his toy onion in the sink while also washing his hands. I looked the other way when he chose to eat mostly ketchup and yogurt for dinner. I plopped him in the bath even though he protested at first (and I added a few drops of lavender aromatherapy oil for good measure), and got him out again despite more protests and his insistence that he wanted to sleep in the bathtub tonight. I convinced him to sing to the baby in my belly instead of kicking me while I put on his diaper and got him dressed in his jammies. I didn't care that he kicked his socks off into his sleepsack while we read books, then asked for a new pair but wouldn't let me remove the old pair. Fine. Sleep with your crumpled up socks in there. Fine. Who cares? I sang "one more owl" and "one more owl" and "one more owl" before finally saying goodnight. I succeeded in getting him down for bed a little early to compensate for no nap, and instead of chattering away for 20 minutes or more like he does some nights, he was quiet pretty much as soon as rubbed his head and said, "Goodnight baby. I love you."

If you had asked me even a month ago if I was totally happy about leaving DC and moving back home, I might have hesitated, overcome with sadness of all that we left behind so abruptly. All the good friends who were almost like family. Everyone who witnessed Jonah growing from a tiny baby into a 2-year-old. All the incredible kid activities I could get to without a car and for free. I would have said, "Yes, but we are still getting used to it," and so on. But, I can't describe how incredibly wonderful it has been to not only be near our family, but to live with some of them. Without help from Neeni and Uncle Marc, I don't know how I'd make it through some days, the hard days when Matthew is away or working late or odd hours, or the days when Jonah is just being downright difficult, a typical 2-year-old. I would make it, just like I always did, but I wasn't 7 months pregnant then, and now I am so glad I don't have to do it all alone anymore. As hard as it was to leave the wonderful life and relationships we built over seven years, that's why we left DC. That's why we moved back home. Family. They really came through for me today, without question, without hesitation, and Jonah was just as happy hanging out with Neeni and Uncle Marc as he would have been with Mama and Daddy.

When I woke up this afternoon, Jonah handed me a flower and told me, "Sorry I didn't take a nap, Mama," just like Uncle Marc told him to.

It wasn't exactly the Mother's Day I had hoped for, but turns out it wasn't so bad after all.

Happy Mother's Day to all those who mother. ~ Nicole

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hello again

Hi. It's been a while.

I wanted to start by writing about my prenatal yoga class, where today we practiced breathing and vocalizing through the chakras. The vocalization has a particular name, which I tried Googling to learn more about. But, I don't know how to spell it and Google isn't recognizing any of the various ways I am trying to spell it. So, we'll try that topic again another time.

If you haven't figured it out yet, or don't already know, I am pregnant again. (Perhaps a new blog name will be coming along soon.) And, you might remember that we started this blog back in 2007 when I was pregnant with Jonah. We were living in Washington D.C. and started it as a way to keep in touch with our loved ones back in Massachusetts. Before we knew it, Jonah was born and then, time sped up so that it felt like in the blink of an eye, he was 2, with a whole lot of joy, turmoil and milestones in between.

I'm sorry I have been away so long, but we have had a lot going on. Our lives have changed pretty dramatically and suddenly on several fronts, and I am still trying to adjust and wrap my brain around it all.

In late October, I found out I was pregnant. Frankly, I was surprised, even though we wanted and were planning to have another baby. I guess, stupidly, I didn't think it would happen so quickly. The morning sickness and fatigue in the early weeks were horrible, way worse than the first time around. Jonah was still nursing a couple times a day when I got pregnant, and I thought I could keep going for a little while to get him through the winter with the extra protection for his immune system. I didn't think it would be a big deal to keep nursing for a while and then try to wean him a few months before the birth of the new baby. But, as soon as the pregnancy hormones kicked in, I developed a very strong aversion to nursing. That, coupled with nausea, vomiting and the need to lie down most of the day, led to me reluctantly wean him during my first trimester, feeling relieved when it happened pretty smoothly but guilty at the same time for cutting him off before he decided to stop on his own. And, then I felt REALLY bad when soon after he was fully weaned he got the flu, a cold and an ear infection all in a row. Even so, when I talked to his pediatrician about all of this, she made me feel better by simply looking me straight in the eye, smiling warmly and saying, "He's 2."

Sometime after I got pregnant, we started thinking hard about finally moving back to western Massachusetts, to be near our family. By Christmas, we had pretty much solidified our plans to move back, deciding that April would be a good time to move, since the baby isn't due until late June or early July and it would be spring when we moved.

A few weeks after a lovely Christmas break spent mostly at my sister's house in Greenfield, we got the very bad news that Matthew's father was very, very sick. He had cancer, probably pancreatic cancer. Advanced. Incurable. Matthew followed his instincts and got on a plane right away to be by his dad's side. A few days later, Jonah and I joined him. The next week was an emotional roller coaster of hope and despair. Ultimately, we realized that Papa was not going to recover from this, but how long we had left with him was anybody's guess. We decided we had to move "home" right away. There would be no waiting until spring. No long good-byes or farewell parties with our friends in DC. Once our decision was made, we flew back to DC, spent less than a week packing our life of seven years there into boxes, with much help from those very same DC friends we would be leaving behind, put it all in a truck and drove to MA on February 5. My sister and her husband opened their house to us, giving us their guest room and clearing out their office for Jonah, our temporary home until we can get our own place later this year. We put 90 percent of our possessions in storage at my father's house (thanks, Dad!) and tried our best to quickly settle in to our new home. The day we moved, the first of two giant snowstorms pummeled the DC area. We saw the flakes flying as we headed out of the city, but got on the road ahead of the storm. We just missed the storms that crippled DC for almost two weeks and would have prevented us from leaving until the snow was cleared. Three days after we arrived in Massachusetts, Matthew's father died, with Matthew and his stepchildren at his side. Matthew and his sisters, Jen and Eliza, set up this lovely online memorial to him. Moving here to Greenfield, under these circumstances, was one of the hardest things we've had to do. But, this is where we are supposed to be now. And, I am still moved to tears when I think about how wonderfully Matthew handled everything, from taking care of his dad at the end of his life to delivering his eulogy at the funeral to taking the lead for his family on handling his father's affairs after his death.

There's so much more to say about how our lives have evolved here over the past six or seven weeks, but I'll stop there for now. Let's just say we are adapting in fits and starts and sometimes overwhelmed with happiness for being here and sometimes overwhelmed by sadness for all that we have lost and left behind. More on that later.

So, hello again. If you are reading this, we probably miss you and are still sad we had to say good-bye, or we are very, very happy to see you again and glad that we don't have to say good-bye anytime soon. ~ Nicole

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Apples & Trees

Does this boy look familiar? I showed this to Jonah and he thought it was himself. I look like I have to pee. Thanks to my sister Jen the family historian / archivist for the picture .

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jonah's Snowman

Too much going on. Some good. Some sad. Lots of changes. Growth. Muddy waters of life. Remind me to write about some of this stuff later. Meanwhile, here's an adorable recent photo of Jonah to make us smile. It was taken during one of our last days living in Washington D.C. (more on that later), the morning after a snow storm (but not one of the huge ones of recent days) in the midst of our mad dash to pack up our life of seven years there. Amidst the chaos, I noticed how delighted Jonah was with the snow, which made me notice that the snow was the perfect consistency for making snowballs and snowmen. I went to work, with a little help from my little man. The result was a very delighted toddler and two happy parents who realized it's a good idea to take a break every now and then and let the child lead the way. ~ Nicole