Sunday, September 28, 2008


I was listening to NPR the other day and heard that David Foster Wallace committed suicide. It immediately brought me back to the way I used to think about suicide. I am loathe to admit but I made crass comments about Kurt Cobain when he took his own life. I was in high school at the time and my young shallow mind couldn't comprehend how someone could do that. Not just physically... but also how the person could be so selfish. There are always people left behind that are devastated. In Kurt Cobain's case, he left a very unstable confused wife and most heart-wrenching, a child who was completely innocent. I found it easier to blame him for 'taking the easy way out' instead of trying to understand where he was coming from. So I made jokes.

Then in college a 'friend' of mine took his life. I say friend in quotes because I knew him but not incredibly well. We hung out in the same circles, shared a room at the Pi Kappa Phi's formal in OC and ate lunch together on the University Center plaza with all the other Pi Kaps. Needless to say, my heart softened a bit towards my intolerance of suicide. How could Mark of all people do this to himself? He wasn't some intangible celebrity figure that I could cast judgment on... he was a real live person who I thought of fondly and whose company I enjoyed. I can still recall the feeling I had when I turned the corner into his viewing. My eyes went straight to his parents. His mother was sitting in a chair openly sobbing while his dad stood behind her off to the side with his hand on her shoulder. Clearly he wanted to be crying as well but he held strong... just red rimmed eyes, no tears. I remember thinking to myself, how can any parent ever live with that. Too lose your child in such a senseless way... knowing they did it to themselves. How do you go on?

Flash forward to March 6, 2004. Adam called me at 7:15 in the morning. "It's Ryan"... "He's dead." My future brother in law had taken his own life. When I fully processed what Adam had told me I felt the sucker punch to my gut. He was gone, by his own hand. This was a loving, young, vibrant, life of the party kind of guy. This was the guy that every guy wanted to be like and every girl wanted to date. I could explain away all the other suicides... they didn't get enough love... they didn't know they were loved and would be missed. That had to be the only way someone could do this... until it was Ryan. Ryan knew how much he was loved... he swore he wouldn't do something like this... he knew it would devestate his mother if he did. But he did it anyway...

As you can imgine my heart softened as much as it ever could after Ryan's death. I immediately felt guilty for every off handed comment I made about Kurt Cobain, every mime motion I made with a 'finger gun' to my mouth, every 'If that happens, I will just kill myself' comment that I let fly. Not only were these light handed comments for a dark and heavy reality, they weren't true in the least. I won't kill myself because the guy in front of me won't get out of my way or if I don't pass this class. Such petty things don't deserve a mention of suicide.

I learned that suicide is deeper than I will ever know. There is a chemical imbalance that allows people to lose sight of everyone they love and everyone that loves them. There is a depression that pulls you so far in, you literally cannot see light anymore. There are real addictions that refuse to release their grasp. Depression can attack the homeless man on the corner or the dynamic personality in the cube next to you. It can take hold of a genius with a PHD or the high school dropout. Truly, depression isn't discriminating.

My heart goes out to David Foster Wallace's family. It's a club you wish you weren't apart of... but are glad it's there when you are thrust in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hold onto your stovetops!

I am cooking again! Although this time it isn't for me... Chase reaped the benefits (at least I hope they are benefits ;~)

My beautiful creation cooking away!

Onions, mushrooms, potatoes and spinach mash... there should be a better name... SMOP... it could work. I digress. Contrary to Chase's expression, he really liked this stuff! He took down that entire bowl! The great thing is there is a lot of leftover so lunch is pretty much made for the week ;~) Thank goodness because patience isn't really Chase's strong suit right now.

In other wonderful news Chase actually put himself back to sleep during a nap! I watched the drama unfold on my video monitor. He woke up after 40 minutes and my heart dropped. I was so sad thinking that he would be in a cranky mood the rest of the day. I didn't get up right away because he has to stay in his crib for at least an hour (mom's rule)... I watched him get up, jump up and down, sit down, re-paci himself, lay down, get up, lay down and stay down! I was so shocked that he actually did it! YAY for my big boy!

I can't believe we are fast approaching his first birthday. I look back and pictures from the early days and just stare in disbelief. He was so tiny and helpless then... I almost can't reconcile that the 2 are the same baby. He is so close to walking... I think it might be soon that he takes his first steps! What a journey babies go through in that first year!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baby Jackson Shepard is Here!!!

He was born at 10:53 pm on September 22, 2008. He weighed in at 8lbs 6 oz and is 20 1/2 inches long! He has an almost full head of brown hair.

I already love this kid! Congrats Jaime and Craig... it's the hardest and best journey you'll ever take... and I am only a year in!

Monday, September 22, 2008

No news

I haven't heard anything from Jaime so please keep praying! I am sure she is fine and is just a little preoccupied but prayers are always appreciated when a little one is entering the world!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prayers please...

One of my very best friends is being induced tomorrow! Jackson has taken his sweet time arriving... tomorrow will be 10 days overdue and the doctors want him out (as do mom and dad, I am sure!)

Please say prayers for Jaime, Craig and baby Jackson!

Friday, September 19, 2008

For your viewing pleasure!

Proof that it is hard being a baby...

... and that victory is sweet!

Just one of the many reasons why this is all worth it!

I can't get enough of these kisses!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Could not pass this up

I had to put this video on my blog. I fell in love with this new family... they know how to live right!

Making Friends

Either I stink at making friends (which is likely, I will explain later) or people stink at making friends with me (which is also likely... explanation also forthcoming). I have been going to the Little Gym class for a few weeks now and I really enjoy it for Chase's sake. He seems to like crawling around and getting into all that the gym has to offer. The other moms in the class are a nice enough but they seem to have their clique already in full swing and I am definitely the outsider. I have a hard time 'imposing my friendship' (to quote Danielle!) but add the fact that my child is the only one that requires my help... it makes it that more difficult.

Time out - all the other kids are in the 16 - 18 month old range so they are much more self-sufficient when it comes to play time and exercising - Time in.

They do get together for lunch sometimes after gym... to which I was invited on the first day but they hadn't actually done the lunch until this week. I milled around after class trying to be part of the crowd but no one actually asked if I wanted to come with... add to that the fact that I left Chase's stroller at home... I just gave up and left.

So they aren't very welcoming and don't seem to have room for another person... and I am too shy (painfully sometimes if you can believe it) and have too little confidence to do anything more about it. It's as much fun as you think. I am not saying it will never happen... I will be in this class for the next 16 weeks but as of right now... nothing.

We have some plans this weekend with another family so who knows where that will lead us. We also need to work on getting plugged into a church in the area... and we are planning on joining the local Y and taking swim classes... all of which should help in the quest for friendship!

I miss my friends back in Crofton... my neighborhood strolls with Danielle and Anna and my impromptu zoo trips with C and Scooter!

I wish I were 5 again... It was so simple then... you just walked up to someone and asked to be their friend.


So moving the TV out of the house has been going pretty well. Chase and I occupy a lot of our time in the apartment with music... which lends itself to much dancing! We go back and forth between his music and mine... for my sanity ;~)

I have been doing more in the way of actually preparing lunch for him. I made alphabet pasta with veggies three times this week which he has really enjoyed... I end up covering it with a Gerber pureed veggie to make it a little easier to swallow but I feel it was still an accomplishment! I have also been cooking carrots and green beans for him to gnaw on... so far he just kind of waves it around and throws it to the ground... we are working on actually eating it. We have also been making oatmeal with a side of banana/nectarine for breakfast instead of just 2 Gerber fruits. I am thinking about weaning him soon (since he is coming up on his one year birthday!) and I want to be sure he is getting all the vitamins and nutrients he needs if I am not the one supplying them anymore!

I have also been more adventurous with cooking for Adam and I... more adventurous??? Try just starting out on the adventure. I digress... I made a lasagna for dinner last night and it was fantastic! It took me over 4 hours to prepare (start to finish) but that was because 1. it was a 'from scratch' recipe... note to self, read the directions thoroughly before you commit to buying all the ingredients, and 2. there was a lapse in the actual preparation because of 'the routine'. In the end it was totally worth it. Adam and Sandy raved about it all night long which made me understand why people cook... it's nice to have your hard work enjoyed! I leave you with a mouth watering picture of my cheesy, bubbly yumminess!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Big Step

We moved our TV (and subsequently our Tivo) to the COG. We now have no TV in our apartment... which is a BIG, no... HUGE, no.... GINORMOUS step for me. Have I gotten across the drastic-ness of this move? I imagine my dad might actually pass out when he hears about this...

Adam and I started realizing that we spend pretty much every night in the main house. Once Chase goes down, we go over and hang with the parents, watch a movie, spend time on the computer or scrapbook (only I do that last one ;~). Currently the TV goes unused at night.

There are a few shows* coming back from summer hiatus that we really like and if we want to watch them, the Tivo has to be in the COG. In the apartment, the TV is just too close to Chase and we don't want to risk waking him up just to watch a show.

Most importantly, I can't seem to not watch TV during the day. I turn it off but that only lasts for a little while before it eventually ends up back on... either for viewing or for background noise. Either way, it's not the example I want to set for Chase. I have struggled with this daily ever since I became a stay at home mom. In the beginning it was easier to fool myself into thinking the behavior was ok but that doesn't fly anymore. He is active, full of exploration, engaging and needs my undivided attention. He needs a mom who gets down and plays, pushes his little mind and watches him really discover new things. I have been beating myself up about this for months now and I finally have the perfect opportunity/excuse to do something about it! Here's to Monday morning with no TV!

Wish me luck!

*If you are wondering what shows I was referring to... The Office, Boston Legal, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Biggest Loser, Lost... those are the ones that I can think of off the top of my head ;~)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New (to us) car!

Wow... today went off without a hitch! I have never felt so comfortable or sure about buying a car... which if you know our history with cars, says a lot.

We left at 6 am so we would arrive at 9. Chase did amazing on the ride up... he had breakfast in the car... played with some toys... ate some puffs... drank some water... played with some more toys and eventually fell asleep, 15 minutes before we pulled up at the sellers house! 15 minutes are better than nothing!

The whole process took 45 minutes tops... we even had a nice leisurely walk to the title office.

Here we are almost the proud new owners!

That's it... it's ours! It's a 2005 Ford Focus with 32,ooo miles. Manual transmission, sunroof, premium sound... it's fantastic!

We checked out a local farmers market looking for lunch... what we found was Elcy's. I would pay good money (that I don't have) for Lisa and Michele to open this restaurant in Hagerstown! It was fantastic... fabulous ambiance, delicious food, lovely staff... the whole experience was awesome! I highly recomend stopping in if you are ever in the area! For those of you that know... it was like One World but 5 times better... even in OW's heyday!

Grandma doing her job... loving on Chase!

This is the sign to look for... seriously, stop in if you can!

The ride home was pretty good... we were all tired but it went by quick enough. Chase almost made it the whole way without crying but about 30 minutes away from home... extreme meltdown. In attempts to make him happy, Grandma and I sang his favorite song...
"Chase Harper G*********dinger Smith
His name is my name too.
Whenever we go out
The people always shout
Chase Harper G*********dinger Smith"

Think the song "John Jacob Jinglehiemer Smith" if you want the tune ;~)

We sang it over and over and over again... it worked though. Most of the time we were singing, he was quiet and listening.

It really was a great day... I am going to end it by lovingly peeking in on my sleeping baby, kissing the husband and pushing the curtain back to get one more glimpse of the new car.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chase Helping

I love this kid.

Cars, they are a changin'

We sold the Honda Wednesday morning! A young guy and his girlfriend rode off without caring about having a car seat in the back of a coupe. It really is a great car and it suits their lifestyle perfectly! For us... a nice 5 door car will suit our needs. It will allow us to tool around in a fuel efficient car instead of our Jeep... saving precious gas mileage. Not to mention the fact that Adam drives an hour and a half to work each way 4 days a week. That adds up!

We had the car sold by noon and we set off to find our dream car. We had 3 stops. The first... looked GREAT on paper... in person, it looked like a skateboarder did tricks and flips off of it. Dents and dings all over the place. We aren't talking normal wear and tear... that we were expecting. These were digs in the paint, mass scratches over the whole bumper, places where it looked like they applied putty and used after market touch up paint... and it smelled on the inside. Anyway, I digress... it was ick.

Next stop... the one we are extremely interested in. Mr. Schmoozer says 'Its on the other lot... let's hop in a car and I will take you'. Mind you I was holding Chase... my 11 month old, obviously needs a car seat, precious baby. 'Uhhh, he needs a car seat'. He responds 'Don't you have a car seat?' My inner voice wanted to say 'Uhhh, Tool. We aren't pulling our 40 lb, latch secured monstrosity of a car seat out because you can't advertise your car on the correct lot.' What Adam said was 'She and Chase will wait here.' (Which was fine because I had to nurse Chase anyway). Off they went to the other lot.... a 15 minute highway drive away. They get there... Schmoozer abstractly points to the corner of the lot... 'it's over there... wait, what car were you interested in?'. 'maroon ford focus ZX5'... 'hold on, yeah, that one sold 3 days ago'. Normally Adam would have come back with a nice retort but on the drive over, Adam found that Schmoozer was certifiably crazy and Adam wasn't interested in getting on this guys bad side. They drive back and Adam hurries Chase and I away before my mouth gets us in trouble.

We called the third place it had already been sold.

Home we go... defeated and without a car.

We decided to take the approach that God did not want us to have any of these cars... there is something better out there for us and we just need to be patient. Literally the words 'patience has served us well in the past' came out in conversation. Heck, we had the Honda listed for 3 months and it eventually sold for the price we wanted!

Back at home Adam starts surfing around again for the very specific car that we want to buy. Ford Focus ZX5, manual... the mileage has to be decent and the price has to be right. We refuse to even be tempted to go out of pocket to buy this car. He stumbles across someone in Philly selling his silver Ford Focus ZX5... it's manual and it only has 32K miles... price isn't bad.... we offer him X and he comes back with Y... we are sold. We can be there on Sat to buy it.... slight catch there is someone coming to look at it within the next 10 min (she made the appointment before we were in the picture). If she doesn't bite then he will hold it for us on Sat. Adam hangs up and we put it in God's hands. He calls back and says they couldn't agree on a price! YAY for us! So road trip for us tomorrow! Adam, Chase, Sandy and I are all driving 3 hours to do the deal and bring our new car home! I am so excited and have never felt so right about buying a car!

Pictures forthcoming!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

I was working on a post last night that I planned on finishing and posting today. I think I will wait until tomorrow.

I am currently watching the news report from the actual day... trying to remember what it was like when I didn't know what was going to happen next. Now I know the timeline... we know who will die next, that the Pentagon will be hit and when the towers will fall. I think I will just watch the report and remember those we, as a nation, lost. What makes me sad is that after I finish watching the report of the morning, I will get Chase ready, go to gym class, come home, put Chase down for a nap, go to the mechanic and continue life as normal. It's a bizarre feeling and I remember it well after my mom died. I couldn't imagine life moving along normally after my world had been rocked so violently. Sept 11 makes me feel the same way. Every year I am transported back to that day in 01 and I feel odd about leaving it behind when the remembrance period is over. I want to stay in that moment. It's not rational or healthy but it's a feeling I have ;~)

One thing I took from this experience is saying I love you on a regular basis. I don't get off a phone or say goodbye to Adam without telling him that I love him. I say it often but it means more and more each time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Because sometimes bullet points are easier!

  • Chase's naps have improved... drastically! We still have the occasional 45 minute nap but more often than not he is down for over an hour. Grandpa says it's the country air... I am tempted to agree with him.
  • We actually have a routine throughout the day. Up at 6 am. Nap at 9 am. Up around 10 - 10:30. Lunch at 12:30. 2nd nap at 1 - 1:30. Up around 2 - 2:30. Dinner at 5. Bath at 5:30. Stories at 5:45. Nursing then sleep by 6:30 - 6:45. Fan-freaking-tastic!
  • I watched Toddlers and Tiaras and I am thoroughly disgusted. Everything about the billion dollar industry makes me physically ill.
  • I like to be prepared... I went to Target and stocked up on diapers. Tip if you use Target diapers... get a pack of Huggies or Pampers for the long nights. They just hold up better when you are talking 11 hours of sleeping.
  • I love this sight in the morning... Chase loves helping daddy pick out socks.
  • The Jeep is fixed mechanically but not physically. The flimity flam and whooja thingy were causing problems so Martin Garage fixed it for me. Next comes the window... hopefully by the end of the week. Then I don't want to hear a peep from it for at least another 5,000 miles.
  • Chase has been extremely interested in noise lately. On our way into the house the trees were rustling in the wind and Chase was absolutely enchanted by it... stared for at least a minute. He has also been noticing when he makes the noise... and then he tries to duplicate it. When I first noticed him doing this, I was amazed. It seems like such a 'big boy' thing to do. I guess I have a big boy!
  • We are selling the Honda tomorrow! YAY!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Our 400 Square Feet

We are settling in nicely to our new digs. Chase and I spend a good bit of time at the cottage during the day, going to the main house to visit grandma, do laundry or check email. Chase and I have run to the grocery store a few times and not once did I take the same route… not on purpose mind you… I just didn’t know where I was going. It’s odd… I know where I am going well enough not to ask how to get places but when I actually get on the road to drive, I forget where to go. This is probably the best way to figure out the town… or steal the Garmin from hubby!

In the evenings Adam gets home just in time to give Chase a bath and have story time (man time) and then I nurse him and he goes to sleep around 6:30 – 6:45. After that, we party. Well, have dinner and relax but in our world, that’s a party. We do a lot of our cooking (re: all of our cooking) at the main house. We just haven’t been brave enough to cook in our kitchen when we are so close to Chase sleeping. It works out well… occasionally we join forces with MIL and FIL for dinner and sometimes, it’s just us. We bought a video monitor which has allowed me to not only breathe easily but have some freedom. I can leave the cottage during naps and after he goes to bed so I am not a prisoner in our own home. The monitor never leaves my side and I constantly have it on but I am able to sit in the COG and file paperwork, scrapbook, surf the interwebs, ect… Adam has more freedom to go to meetings which is happier for all involved… I feel less lonely because I have stuff to occupy my time and he gets more of that sobriety!

I hope it’s not terribly presumptuous of me but I imagine people might be curious how we are making things work in such small spaces. If that is the case, read on. If not, please excuse my self centeredness and stop reading ;~)

This is the view from our ‘front door’. I say that in quotes because it just leads to the garage so we really don’t have the traditional front door. That ought to be interesting when we have guests ;~)

This is the view from the foot of the bed toward our front door. As you can see, the shorter dresser was a wreck… clutter is a small spaces worst enemy. So we solved this problem by creating a charging station…

We bought this box from Marshalls for cheap, drilled a keyhole in the back and fed the wires through… ta-dahhhh…. cell phones, bluetooths, and ipods all get charged here. Adam also deposits all of his pocket wares here (camera, wallet, sunglasses, ect…)

Here is where the living room/bedroom really opens up. We are using 1/2 of our couch… the chaise portion resides in the basement. Just to the right of the couch is the door to Chase’s room…

Looking straight in…

Looking to the left…

If you look close you can see a baby being bathed! You can see why the bathroom is pretty much off limits after Chase goes to sleep!

The kitchen is perhaps the most challenging considering you can literally spin in one spot and touch every single portion of it.

As for the 4 inch drawer that I referenced in a previous post

Small kitchen gadgets… not too shabby but where is the silverware????

It works… and cutting boards go on the top of the rack… ingenious, I know.

An unused bookshelf works remarkably well as a pantry… not the prettiest, but it works… especially with the gate blocking it from little grabby hands!

This is a recent purchase which has a multitude of uses. It’s an ottoman for our poor weary feet when we rest on the couch. It is also blanket storage. It is also a blockade to keep the aforementioned grabby hands away from this lamp…

And Adam’s CPAP machine…

As mentioned before, the COG provides me much happiness. Here is the view as you walk in…
Adam sits at the desk when he works from home… hence the O (office). The treadmill is on the left… G (gym). The craft table is on the right… C (crafts). Here is my very own craft table!

I have already completed 4 pages! It isn’t nearly as tidy as this picture implies!

All in all, this is working out nicely. I hope you enjoyed the tour… if you didn’t, you should have stopped reading long ago ;~)

Also... a shout out to Jaime... today she turns 30! Welcome to the old peoples club... we will be discussing NPR and 'those damn young people' at dinner... 4pm sharp!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Just in time...

Apparently we moved just in time. This past week we have discovered that both cars need oil changes. No biggies, that's regular routine maintenance. Then on Labor Day, we found out that our passenger window in the Jeep is protesting the up and down motion... re: the regulator broke and needs to be replaced... YAY! Fixing it isn't in the budget just yet so my window is currently being held up by every rednecks favorite tool... duct tape! Oh well, at least I can drive my own car... except that the check engine light came on so currently my Jeep is in the shop for diagnostics. Fingers crossed and prayers said that they don't come back with anything too $$.

Luckily my MIL is a very giving person... she is letting me borrow her car to run an errand and take Chase to gym class! I can't wait for Chase's first official class! This kicks off 20 weeks of class... I think he is really going to love it!

I am working on a post with pictures of our new place... stay tuned, it will be a doozy!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


There should be a rehab for internet junkies. We have been without internet... or at least it's been incredibly sporadic... for the past few days.

I was going through DT's.

We are back up and running... hopefully for good! More posts later... I only stayed up to watch Palin speak. She's done and so am I!

Good night all!