Archive of ‘memories’ category

Gratitude November 30

I am thankful for…………..

November 30: Evan

I write about our bug all the time, this blog being started because of my being pregnant with him and all….But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve his own entry in my Gratitude month. So many things I feel I take for granted, but I actually believe that I thank God at least 5 or 10 times a day, every day, for our son, Evan.  I thank Him for Evan’s laugh, his silly little jack-o-lantern teeth, the way he crawls up into my lap while we are playing because he wants to be closer to me. I thank Him for his huge, gorgeous blueberry eyes that are constantly studying everything around him.
I feel like I was a know-it-all before having Evan. I thought I had it all together (well ok, I didn’t “totally” think that, believe me). I felt like being a mom would be the easiest transition for me. I had babysat for years, worked in daycare centers in the infant room, taught for 11 years. I had this magic touch with babies when I would hold them at friends’ houses or play peek-a-boo at restaurants.
But all of a sudden, this wrinkled little person appears in my arms on May 27, 2011, and all the “knows” that I thought I “knew” flew right out the window.  He is mine. He belongs to me. (and Todd of course) He is our responsibility, made up of parts of me and parts of my husband.  I thought I knew and understood all this before 5-27-11, but I sure didn’t. Being a parent is life altering. In so many difficult and amazing ways. I don’t like to have regrets, because they are not helpful at all. But if I had one regret, it would be that during his newborn months, I was so doubtful of every choice I made, every step I took with our little baby, that I did not truly appreciate the time I had with him.  The whole getting up 4-5 times a night didn’t help either. 🙂
So now that I am out of the new mom haze, and in the toddler mom stage- I am trying to take the time to stop and just watch Evan play, and feel the gratitude wash over me. 
I am thankful for his cheery nature. He makes even the nastiest cashier at Walmart chuckle when he squeals or smiles at her. I am thankful for his persistence. He will sit with a toy and try to figure it out for 30 min at a time. He turns it every which way until he has it totally figured out.  I am thankful for how he tolerates my goofiness, even encourages it. We have dance parties and crawling contests and it is not only good exercise for my body, but my heart is so happy when we do it as well.

I do long for the day when he will say “I love you, mama” and walk to me from across the room.  But for now, I am thankful that he is content, he is healthy, and I am able to be home with him for this extra time. All the other things can wait……

Gratitude November 29

I am thankful for…….

November 29: My parents
I have some pretty awesome parents.  I already spoke about the awesomeness of my stepfamilies, it only makes sense to also comment about the mom and dad that I grew up with.

 Lynn Beth, where do I begin with my mother.  Well you can see off the bat, how incredibly “related” we are, we can’t deny it. Same smile, rosy cheeks, we both get squinty eyed when we laugh.  My mom is a lovely, lovely woman.  She could be tough as nails growing up, but at the same time, I could cuddle up in her lap and she would stroke my hair and make me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to her.  She had this uncanny knack of knowing just how much I needed to be disciplined in order to scare

Mom, me and Shannon at my mom’s “Bachelorette” dinner
Rich, Mom and Evan Christmas 2011
My mom’s wedding day in March 2012

me enough so I would never do whatever deed it was, ever again. My mother taught me the importance of follow through. When she said something, she meant it.  And that is how I am as a teacher, and I hope to be with my son.  It really helped build my respect for her.  She cared so much about Brian and I, that she wouldn’t put up with our shenanigans because she knew we needed boundaries. The one thing I find myself being most thankful for when I think of my mom is the way in which she tried to build my self esteem.  I have fought weight issues my whole life, and instead of forcing diets on me, or telling me I needed to lose weight, she tried to help me eat as healthy as possible, while never mentioning my size in a negative manner.  I have heard others talk about how their mom will nitpick about their child’s size or appearance. Not my mom. She wasn’t over the top, telling me I was a princess or putting me on a pedestal, but she always complimented me, and told me how proud she was of me.  And to this day, she still does that. Just the other day, she was over our house visiting and she mentioned she saw a picture of me from a wedding I was in recently and how beautiful I looked. Of course I was touched, I told her thank you for the compliment. She then followed it up by telling me that she has been thinking that a lot lately, that I have just been looking so beautiful and radiant lately, that I have really “hit my stride” and I just look so happy.  I was so taken aback, it was such a lofty and unexpected compliment.  But I know she meant every word. My mom doesn’t say things just to say them. Remember, when she says something, she means it. And she also knows when you need to hear it. That day was no exception.  Her laugh is infectious, her rendition of Rod’s “Maggie May” is incomparable. She was the only mom on the block with a Culture Club sweatshirt.  Her Thanksgiving stuffing is unreal. One of my friends makes her recipe now every year on Turkey day.  I dare you to try to top her stocking stuffers.  She is legendary. When I am feeling lost, or just need a hug, she is the first person after my husbo that I call.  And she is ALWAYS there.  Love you mama, I hope I can be half the mom you are. Thank you for everything.

My dad on the right in costume for one of his performances

I have mentioned my dad several times in this blog.  It is no secret that I am a Daddy’s little girl. My father had a soft spot for me and I for him. His hugs were extraordinary.  You felt like you were wrapped up in the warmest, most protective blanket when he would hug you.  Growing up, my dad was labeled the “cool” dad by a lot of my friends. He was the one with the swivel seats in the minivan that would drive around all my girlfriends and I while we giggled and gossiped.  He would play rock and roll and sing at the top of his lungs, take us to our NKOTB and Belinda Carlisle concerts, coach my soccer teams, go to EVERY single one of my marching band performances.  He belonged to American Coaster Enthusiasts and talked in “coaster” speak, for example, “We are going to get there at 8 am so we can do an ERT on the woodie in the back of the park without any GP’s there!”

At the USA Turkey game 2010-last time I saw my dad

Translation– “We are going to get there at 8 am so we can have exclusive ride time on the wooden roller coaster in the back of the park before the general public is admitted.”
He referred to Billy Joel and Elton John as BJ and EJ. He called Meatloaf, the Loaf. He was a groupie for John Cafferty and Beaver Brown Band. Did you ever see Eddie and Cruisers?

Brian, Dad and I at Jill and George’s wedding 2009
Mumming on our wedding day

He numbered our Christmas gifts and had a master list he would go by when handing out our presents. But all of those fun facts about him only scratch the surface.  My father was LOVE. The man radiated happiness and joy and you couldn’t help but smile around him.  I found myself even at age 30 wanting to make him proud, wanting to share my biggest accomplishments with him.  My dad was always my best audience. I will never forget his glistening eyes after he saw me as the lead in Singing in the Rain in high school.  He hugged me so hard in the hall at Kingsway High School. He said my mouth opened, and he just couldn’t believe what he was hearing, that his daughter could sing like that.I will never forget hearing him say that.
He had a special relationship with Todd. They both did fantasy football and enjoyed European soccer.  I loved how they would email each other or talk on the phone unbeknownst to me, just to discuss their team strategy for the week.  Todd now is playing in honor of my dad in my dad’s league. 
I am just so incredibly thankful to have had such a wonderful father.  I miss him terribly but like Todd says, I miss him so much because of how great my experiences were with him. And for that, I am truly grateful. Love ya Daddio.

Musings of a different kind

This is a little diversion from my typical postings….but writing feels good, and I have been helped through other blogs so here goes:

Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality.  ~Emily Dickinson

Losing my father was one of the hardest things I have faced in my life and definitely the most unexpected pain and hurt I have dealt with thus far. I couldn’t understand, and still don’t of course, why He decided to take him so early.  The days following were absolutely the hardest-deciding on funeral plans, coffin color, making photo boards, and calling credit card companies and repeating over and over that my father had passed.  The amazing thing is that what I really remember most clearly about that week and the weeks to follow, was the love that poured forth from my friends and family.  I must have received 50+ sympathy cards, plants, donations in his name, meals, you name it, it was flowing freely.  Two of my dear friends came over very early on Fathers Day because they knew it would be a hard day for me. They had asked what they could do, as friends often do in situations like this- and I said, you know? I really need help with my garden and besides the obvious issue (I have ZERO green thumb ability), I also wanted to plant some things in my father’s memory and it would be difficult to do alone.  So they showed up at 7 or 8 am that hot June morning and worked with me for hours on our garden.  Unbelievable.  I knew I had people who cared about me, but I had no idea the depth of their love and concern for me and my family until this tragedy struck. A few days before my father passed, we had discovered I was pregnant with our first child. Of  course Todd and I were overjoyed. We knew it was early so we were going to wait a few weeks before sharing with our family when we knew everything was okay. When we got the news about my father, we decided to share early. I was devastated my father would not know the child but was convinced that I would have a little boy that would honor my father’s memory by having his name as his middle name. It felt like one door had closed in my life and one had immediately opened.  Sadly, the morning we were supposed to go to the cemetery to look at plots, the  doctor called and gently informed us that I was having a miscarriage.  I remember crumbling to the ground and just crying out that it couldn’t be possible. How on earth could this baby’s life be ended before it had even begun? The door I thought had opened for us had shut in our faces and left us raw and empty.  As I often say, I seriously felt like the subject of a Lifetime movie or an afterschool special….. The following days are a bit of a blur but as we began to share the news of the miscarriage slowly- I remember hearing over and over that I am so strong, and I have been through much in my life and I will handle this as I have everything. My father was in Heaven and didn’t suffer, and I need to focus on that; the child wasn’t meant to be- and we aren’t to understand why……. Of course everyone meant well, but it all hit me like bricks.  My father was a vibrant, dynamic, caring man who was so full of heart. That is the best way to describe him- full of heart. His life was taken way too early, and I will never understand why. But as time moved forward, I began to rise out of the fog of grief, shock, and pain and realized that even though I am not to understand why I lost him, I can look around me and see the positive things that have occurred in the time since.  My stepfamily and Todd and I have become extremely close. My dad is grinning from ear to ear watching us having monthly family dinners together, text each other constantly, and keep in touch far more than we ever have in the past. He wanted so much for us to all be close- and while we definitely cared for each other, our bond is so much stronger now and I consider them all as close to me as my immediate family. They ARE my immediate family.
Todd and I also grew closer through all the mess of last summer.  He went through a bout with depression and anxiety and I was able to support him through it because I had struggled with it in the past and I knew how important it was to know you had people on your side.  Todd let me help him, which was difficult for him, but he knew that it was good for us both to be there for each other.  We went on a trip to Colorado and met my brother there for a whirlwind 5 day vacation where we visited Boulder and Denver and camped in Rocky Mtn National Park. I never would have considered going on a vacation with my brother that summer (since T&I had done a few trips already that year) if we hadn’t suffered such a significant loss and needed the company of family.  We enjoyed a lot of incredible sights and experiences that vacation that I will never forget.  
The school year started and Todd was slowly starting to feel better, and I was beginning to deal more with the losses and accept the finality.  A crazy thing happened that first week of September, I discovered I was pregnant again.  This time it was completely unplanned. In fact, we had discussed over the summer that I needed a break from trying and that I definitely still wanted children but I just needed to deal with the grief of losing two loved ones and then I would think about it again. Obviously God had other plans for us, because we came to find out that we were pregnant with what would eventually become our son, Evan Robert Putman.  Todd always says that if my first pregnancy had come to fruition, we never would have met Evan.  But I like to think that our first baby is hanging out with Pop Pop Gaynor in Heaven and we will meet him or her one day.  I look back and realize that I would have struggled so much to take care of myself last summer.  Adding a baby into the mix, especially the difficult first trimester would have been extremely tough.  Of course I didn’t look at it like that when the miscarriage occurred, but time does do a LOT of things and one of them is give perspective that you cannot have when faced with a pile of unhappy things.  A friend who attended my dad’s services said to me, “It will not get easier, but it WILL get different.” That was the best advice anyone gave me. I had plenty of people say, “It will get easier,” and I even had one person claim, “Sorry, Erin, it won’t get any easier, no matter what you are told.”  Nice.
It has gotten much much different.  And not just because I had a baby.  A baby does not bring back my father or the child we lost.  He does bring enormous joy into our lives, and Evan has restored my faith in the beauty that life can bring, certainly.  But, I still think of my father every single day. And most days I think of the baby we lost as well.  I do not spend hours crying or wondering what could be…rather I think of my father when I hear Irish music, or see a kind man picking up his grandchild on the street, or I hear someone say “Put your hands up!” on a roller coaster. Right now my eyes are burning with the familiar sting of tears.  But Katrina was right when she said it would get “different.” The pain isn’t as intense, as heavy as it was. And the memories are much less painful to sit and remember.  That day at the hospital is not the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning.  Rather, I cry when I realize he will not be there to see Evan’s first Christmas, or when I look at his picture on the refrigerator.  Just the other night, Todd asked what I was thinking about in the car, and I hadn’t even realized it, but I was trying to picture my dad holding Evan on his lap and having him ride his knee like a horse- like I did so many years ago.  Where that came from, I don’t know.  But the more I remember, the better I feel about passing on his memory to Evan so that he will come to know his grandfather.  
I have been able to share my feelings and experiences with both losses with several friends who have unfortunately faced similar hardships in the past year.  I had one friend reach out to me specifically- mentioning that she felt like there was no one else she could turn to in her life because no one else would understand.  That made me realize that it might be good to share some of my thoughts on this blog, in case it might help someone else. I felt pretty alone when everything hit at once, because I had few friends or family members who had lost a parent this young or had faced miscarriage recently.  I have such incredible loved ones, but sometimes you just need to talk to someone who knows EXACTLY what you are feeling and you don’t even have to explain.  
I’m sorry for this very long post- and for interrupting a chain of happy Evan related posts- but I felt like it was on my mind, and that is what this blog was intended for- to relay different experiences of my life to share with Evan.  And I think it will be helpful for him to read this one day to learn more of his entrance into our world and to understand how much we love(d) his Pop Pop and little brother or sister.

Dad and I, the last time I saw him. We had such a great time that day, and I am sure that wasn’t coincidence.

OBX 2011-What an amazing time!

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ” ~From the television show The Wonder Years
 We went on vacation with my mother and father-in-law, my sister and brother-in-law, and their two boys recently.  They went to the Outer Banks last September and invited us but we were unable to go because I was working and taking a week off from teaching in Sept is unheard of. 🙂 So of course, with taking time off to take care of Evan in his first year, we were able to join them and go in the third week of September- when it is off season.  What a wonderful, wonderful time to go!  I am going to continue this post with pictures instead of words because they tell the story much better! They are in no particular order, enjoy! 
The group at the Wright Brothers Memorial

Evan in his tent after his first ocean experience

Aunt Carolyn who met Evan for the first time on this trip!

Doing raspberries for the first time on cue!

Getting loving from Daddy

The beautiful Currituck Lighthouse, only about 10 min or so from our house

At a mini golf (putt-putt as Todd calls it) course on our date night

Where we ate on our date night

Evan in the pool for the second time

Rod and Sara (Pappy and Grommel to Evan), the two best in laws a girl could EVER ask for

The awesome pool at our house

All the ladies at the beach. (I know I need to address those tan lines)

The Seese Family

Our nephews, Connor (l) and Carson (r)

The pool tournament faceoff- Father and Son

Family shot at lunch at the Black Pelican

Evan faced with a LOT of distractions during dinner
One of the many sand crabs on the beach. I caught one aftter Todd and I did a lot of running around trying.

Feeling Accomplished

So I can’t find a quote that quite sums up the intent of this blog entry. And I don’t have any pictures to accompany it either, so you may skip right over it.That’s totally okay. 🙂
I really am posting today so I can look back in a few weeks when I am feeling overwhelmed and see that yes, Erin, you really can do this stay at home mom thing just fine!
It is not even 2 pm and I have: played with my son-belly/back time, rocking chair song time, feeding time, etc; washed the tablecloth and did a load of baby laundry, cleaned bottles, emptied the dishwasher, made salads for dinner and got out plates and silverware and dinner is ready to go in the oven, took a shower, took out the recycling, and ate my own lunch 🙂
So all of those things are not all that amazing I suppose, but for me it feels super. And my wonderful husband is going to be on daddy duty for an hour or two tonight while I go get my toes done in honor of our family trip to the Outer Banks next week!
I also want to make mention of the passing of my mother’s beloved dog, Oscar. He lived a wonderful 12 years, the majority of which were with my mother and with me for a few years as well. God really had a hand in my finding him online a good ten years ago, when using the internet for pet hunting was not very popular. He was an AMAZING dog who was loved by anyone who crossed his path. I know he is running around with my childhood dog Cujo and they are eating all the t-r-e-a-t-s they want.

Oscar and his pal Zoey, Christmas 2009

What I want to remember….

Evan turned a month on Monday and I can hardly believe it! I was going by weeks, and thought he turned a month the previous Friday but Daddy T set me straight. We have his one month check up tomorrow and I cannot wait to hear how well he has grown.
Things I want to remember about Evan’s first month here with us:
-The first moment I saw him all blue and wrinkled and I heard his little cry. I have never felt such relief and joy in my life. The day I married Todd and the day I delivered Evan are definitely the two happiest days of my life.
-When he was given to me on my belly for the first time and I held him. I just couldn’t believe that he was the same little guy that was in my belly all those months.
-When we found out that he was coming back up to our room in the hospital after he had been in the ICN for 24 hours. That feeling was amazing. We were jumping up and down so much that the nurses had to laugh. They were happy for us too. Evan was a fighter from day one.
-Watching Zoey interact with Evan for the first time and how adorable she was with him. She loves her little brother.
-The little squeaks and creaks that Evan makes when he is waking up or when is sleeping- especially in the car seat when we take walks or drives. I always think he is starting to get up but it is just him moving about in his sleep.
– The one time he slept for 4 hours straight!! Can’t wait for that again!
– Just looking at Evan’s perfect face. I can’t believe how perfectly created he is by God. His little button nose, his bottom lip that sticks out in a pout, his gorgeous stormy blue eyes. How blessed we are by him.
-When he shakes his bottom lip and says iyiyiyiyiyiyi when he is starting to crank (that is our word for when he gets fussy)
-When he suctions my face or arm when he is looking for food. It sort of looks like he is kissing me, but I know better, he is hungry!
-the 4+ weeks I spent nursing him- those were precious moments of bonding that I will never forget. Such a good little eater.
-Watching Todd hold him on the couch when he has Daddy time. Todd is the best swaddler!
-Our daily walks together, I love getting out first thing in the morning with Evan. Sometimes he is awake and alert but most of the time he takes a little nap while we walk. Thank you to Wendy, Kate, Caitlin, and Sara Jane for joining me on different occasions. It is so nice to have company!
-Watching how he grows every day- his little belly pushes his diapers to the limit!
-When he napped in the bassinet for the first time, I was so proud that he was able to do that, I hope he does just as well in the crib!
-Reading our first books together. I know he doesn’t really know what he is looking at, but the one time he did watch me talk the whole time and I just loved seeing his little eyes focusing on my face.
-The time after he eats in the morning when he is the most alert and he just looks all around with those big eyes completely content. He makes little guppy faces and sighs. 🙂
-His “debonair face” Todd named for him. He scrunches his forehead into little wrinkles and Todd always says, “Oh I need to go get my monocle and ivory tipped cane….” He does this face in his sleep most of the time. 

Things I am looking forward to:

-Making eye contact with him and knowing he can see me and maybe even recognize me as his mommy
-His first real smile (not just gas in his sleep 🙂 )
-Reading a book to him and knowing he is following along
-Going to pick him up from his nap and seeing him smile at me. (I remember Talia saying that about Eliana doing that and how awesome it is)
-When he can hold his head up so we can do more fun stuff at home during his awake time!

I keep saying that I do not want to wish away this newborn time, but Todd and I both are excited to watch Evan grow and do more things every day. I have had a few people say, oh you will find yourself wishing for the days when he just laid around and you could take him everywhere, etc. Maybe, I hope we can find things to enjoy at each point.

Sleeping peacefully at one month old 🙂

Ok I think the little guy is getting up from his nap and will be wanting his meal I am sure 🙂 I’ll leave you with the picture I took today of him with his one month sticker. It is not the “official” one. Todd and I will take that one together.

"I am days away from change…." (possibly less)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taDqKWWPDAY
My friend Caitlin (who is also expecting her own little Baby P) sent that link to me today. It is a nice video with quotes from mothers. What would they say to their former pregnant self right before the baby is born……
The song in the background keeps repeating, “I am days away from change.” How poignant for me right now. I could be one day, or just hours away from change. Who knows?

My grandfather (on my mom’s side) would have been 100 today. Would have been really nice to share that special date with his great great grandson. I also realized that May 29th last year was the last time I spent time with my father before he passed. We went to the Turkey vs. USA game with my dad and Dave Lukens. It was such a wonderful day. I really feel blessed to have that particular memory as my last one with my father. We tailgated before the game and had great food and brews and we just laughed and talked. I had forgotten how fun it is to watch soccer with my dad and how excited he gets. I sat in between him and Todd and I was so happy. I will never forget after the game, the ramps we had to walk on to exit were so crowded and Todd and Dave were walking a bit ahead (my legs are so short) and I started to feel a little overwhelmed. My dad turned around, grabbed my arm and said, “Hey girl, are you okay back there?” and he led me out of the crowd. Even at 32 years old, he was still taking care of me.

Todd, my dad and Dave before the game

My dad and I at the game. Last picture I have with him. I was so happy.

Part of me thinks maybe God will have our baby arrive on 5-29 so I have a new memory to associate with that date. But honestly I don’t ever want to forget or replace that memory. That is why I shared it on here. I want to be able to remember it and share it with our son one day. 

PS: I did just have a contraction…….. But don’t get all excited, I have them sporadically throughout the day, they have to start coming quicker and harder for it to mean something. 🙂

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