Your story begins (part two)

Dear baby boy,

Since we’ve found out about you, we’ve called you “baby brother” more than anything else. Over the past nine months, we’ve asked your big sister to give you kisses in Mommy’s belly, we’ve asked her to tell us her baby brother’s name and we’ve talked about how she will handle the new addition to her family.

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Because the two of you are so close in age, it will be amazing to watch you and Mc grow up together. She’s a smart girl, so I’m sure she’ll teach you all sorts of things, like how to crawl, play and eventually say “pleaassse” when you want another cookie.

But what struck me today when I got to hold you for the first time is that you are your own little guy. You’re not just baby brother, you’re sesame seed #2. You’re Jacoby.

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Of course, I knew that all along, but with McCorrie still seeming so young, I forgot just how little you would be. Today, when I was holding you and hearing your sweet little whimper, you made me remember how much I have to look forward to over the next months and years. Sure, McCorrie’s still little, but she’s done a lot of growing and learning, and now, we get to experience it all over again with you — in your own way, at your own speed and with your own personality.

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I hope you and your big sister will be close. Although your dada and I are more than six years apart, our relationship is one of the friendships I treasure most. When you’re 25, maybe becoming an uncle yourself, I hope you feel the same way.

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But in the meantime — and I hope meantime lasts a long time — I can’t wait to watch you become your own little guy.

Love,

Auntie Heh Heh

Before baby boy comes

Any day now, my niece McCorrie is going to have a little brother. I know she’s going to be a great big sister, but before baby boy comes and steals some of the attention away, I wanted to one last post just on McCorrie. It’s been a while since I’ve written about her, and she’s turned into such a little girl over the past few months.

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In my past posts about McCorrie, I wrote about my favorite thing she had been learning to do — like when she started to smile or clap. This time around, it’s not at all hard to pick a favorite, since she’s learned to say my name: Heh Heh. This may not seem like my name, but I swear it is. I could have the worst day ever, but if I walked into Mc’s house and she clapped her hands and yelled “Heh Heh” like she does when she sees me, I would instantly be happy.

As a big girl toddler, she’s saying something new every time I see her and she’s always on the move. She’s dancing, she’s swimming, she’s eating with a fork, she’s making art at daycare for my fridge, she says “yeah” when you ask her questions and she’s reading 100 books a day.

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She’ll tell you exactly what she wants and when she wants it. But not in a bratty way, because what she wants you to do is always something you want to do. Like when she asks you to sit on the floor, RIGHT next to her. If you’re a foot away, she won’t be satisfied. But when you’re finally close enough, she’ll laugh and laugh and laugh about how funny it is. And of course, you’ll laugh, too.

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She loves her big cousin Ali and watching them together is so much fun for me, since I feel like Ali should still be toddling around, too. Instead, she’s TEN (when the heck did that happen?) and she’s the one that McCorrie always wants to play with. Or, rescue her, depending on the day. :)

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One day, she’ll be the big kid in this picture rescuing one of her brothers or sisters. I just hope that when that day comes, she’ll still be calling me Heh Heh, and that she’s just as happy as she is now.

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P.S. Word on the street is that McCorrie can say baby boy’s three-syllable name, too — while, meanwhile, the rest of our family doesn’t know it. So if you see Mc, see if she’ll tell you…I’m thinking we can probably tickle it out of her. ;)

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Life lately (in verbs)

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DREAMING: About sunny skies and sundresses. But I think I’m going to be stuck with slush and snow for a while.

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DECIDING: Between Warby Parker glasses. My face is so wide that about only about three of their styles fit me but somehow I’m still having a very difficult time making up my mind. Maybe because all of my family members voted for a different pair…thanks, guys!

READING: East of Eden by John Steinbeck for book club. Soooo many pages, so little time, but also a lot of favorite parts.

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WORKING: On a project for The Ride For Roswell’s 20th anniversary.

MAKING: Healthy weekday dinners like Bangin’ Good Chicken Salad and Sausage Tortellini Skillet. And some tasty weekend treats that didn’t turn out quite as pretty as they were supposed to.

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CRYING: Over Parenthood ending. We’re also all caught up on Homeland so I’m feeling lost. Have any TV recommendations for me?

DISCOVERING: Spotify and a new-to-me Sunday brunch spot with $1 mimosas.

WAITING: For baby boy to get here so this little girl can have a brother!

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6 lessons learned in 2014

I’m almost a month late with this. Oops! I’m just now accepting that it’s 2015. Our holiday decorations are finally stowed away (or shoved in the one closet I could find any room in) and I’ve stopped mistakenly writing 2014 on everything. For some reason, I was feeling especially reflective around New Year’s this time around. I’ve never been one for those make-or-break New Year’s resolutions, but I enjoy thinking about the past year and everything it taught me. So I’ve compiled some lessons — both practical and fun — that I learned or re-learned in 2014.

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1. Going with the flow is always easier. I began looking for a new job in 2014. I wrote plenty of cover letters, revised my resume almost every night, went to dozens of interviews and had my one professional suit dry cleaned one too many times. That process — and working it into my schedule as a newspaper reporter — was tough. I worried about the future of my career nonstop, and it got to me. And Mike sure was sick of hearing about it. Of course, things worked out. I’m still in Buffalo and I’ve started at a new job that I love. I hope 2015 won’t bring those exact same challenges, but I’d like to relax a little more and not think about the future so much. It’ll come when it comes!

2. Crockpot liners are the most convenient invention ever. No explanation needed.

3. Think about your future self. I read a quote at some point in 2014 about always doing something in the present to help yourself in the future. It stuck with me, and I want to bring that mantra into 2015 since it’s applicable in so many areas of my life. Mike and I recommitted to eating healthy in December, and whenever I’m tempted to completely fall off the bandwagon, I remember that doing this now will keep on helping my “future self” — whether it’s about feeling at my best on my wedding day or 25 years down the road when I have a healthier heart and body. I think about it at work when I’m procrastinating on a specific project, or at night when I want to wait until the next day to do the dishes. Or on Sunday when I’m trying to convince myself that grocery shopping after work on Monday won’t stress me out (it does, every time).

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4. You can’t make everyone happy all the time. I knew this one already, but it hit home in 2014. Sometimes, I just have to do what’s right for me, whether it’s about taking that new job, planning a wedding or voicing my opinion when it really matters.

5. Cat Fancy is the best magazine. I don’t care what anybody says, this thing is full of great stuff. We went to the vet in October and she told us that Latte has gingivitis. I, of course, the calm person that I am, immediately freaked out. I had already been brushing her teeth, but my attempts weren’t too successful. “What if her teeth fall out when she’s 3 years old and can’t eat?” I asked Mike. But then my first issue of Cat Fancy came along, and what does it feature? An article on the best ways to brush and care for your cat’s teeth, along with a fun story on cats who were undercover spies for the CIA. Are these writers reading my mind?

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6. Allow yourself to be a beginner. I jumped into my new job hoping to knock it out of the park on my first day. And I think I’m doing well, but I’m still learning a whole new industry. I don’t know everything and I don’t come up with a spectacular new idea every single day, and I shouldn’t expect myself to yet. But every expert starts out as a beginner, right?

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Three books you need to read

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1. The Art of Racing in the Rain:

What the book’s about: On the eve of his death, Enzo, a dog with a human-like soul, reflects on his life with his family: Denny, an up-and-coming racecar driver, his wife Eve, and their daughter Zoe. Enzo believes that dogs who are “prepared” will be reincarnated as humans in their next lives, and so he seeks to get ready by taking stock of his life.

What I thought: Of all the books I’ve read over the past few years, this was the one I had told Mike that he HAD to read. After you read this story, you’ll want to share it with people — especially other animal lovers. I started reading it thinking that with the dog narrating, the story would be cute, but predictable. And while, yes, you know something sad is going to happen from the first page, the story is original and the way Enzo tells it made me fall in love with him and his family. I sped through it in about a week or so, and was sad when I had finished it.

What other people said: “The Art of Racing in the Rain is the perfect book for anyone who knows that some of our best friends walk beside us on four legs; that compassion isn’t only for humans; and that the relationship between two souls who are really meant for each other never really comes to an end.” -Jodi Picoult

2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay:

What the book’s about: In 1939, Joe Kavalier escapes from Hitler’s Prague, and arriving in New York City, partners with his cousin, Sammy Clay, to create a comic, The Escapist, inspired by World War II. With his family left behind in Europe, Kavalier tries to comfort himself by fighting the Germans symbolically through their artwork. The cousins quickly find themselves at the center of the the golden age of comics.

What I thought: My favorite books are about underdogs and oppression, and in the past, I was constantly drawn to fiction stories about slavery and the Holocaust. But now, after almost 15 years of reading that genre, many of those stories seem too similar. I still enjoy them, but I’m not floored by the ideas and I don’t remember anything specific about the book months or years down the road. But Chabon’s book gave me an original look at the era, what it means to be a hero and what it would be like to leave your family behind. The plot isn’t the only high point — Chabon’s writing is the best I’ve read this year.

What other people said: “Novels conventionally draw a good deal of their power from surprising plot turns. ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay’ fulfills its quota of surprises, but most of its unexpectedness resides, comic-book-style, in its challenging situations, lushly written, in which you know beforehand that the heroes will prevail … the depth of Chabon’s thought, his sharp language, his inventiveness and his ambition make this a novel of towering achievement.” -The New York Times Book Review

3. This is Where I Leave You:

What the book’s about: Judd Foxman — who recently found his wife cheating on him with his boss — is forced to sit shiva with the rest of his dysfunctional family after his father’s death. With the siblings together for seven straight days, the week quickly spins out of control and old arguments resurface. The story gets more interesting when Judd’s wife, Jen, unexpectedly shows up at the house to tell Judd that she’s pregnant.

What I thought: This book had me laughing from the beginning and I didn’t want to put it own. The siblings’ rivalries, comebacks, and mockery reminded me of a more intense version of my family and I easily became attached to Judd and his plight. Although I became a little less interested in the story about 3/4 of the way through, the need to find out how the story ended kept me reading and I’m glad I did. The book’s being made into a movie with Jason Bateman and Tiny Fey, and the trailer — which does ruin some of the jokes in the book if you want to read it first — is hilarious.

What other people said: “Tropper is wickedly funny, a master of the cutting one-liner that makes you both cringe and crack up. But what elevates his novels and makes him a truly splendid writer is his ability to create fantastically flawed, real characters who stay with you long after the book is over. Simultaneously hilarious and hopeful, ‘This is Where I leave You’ is as much about a family’s reckoning as it is about one man’s attempt to get it together. -Daphne Durham, Amazon reviewer.

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Celebrating Latte on World Cat Day

Every day is a cat day for me. I don’t consider myself completely crazy, but I know I spoil Latte and treat her like my baby, and in turn, she knows she has me wrapped around her little paw. But that’s exactly the way I like it — we’re cuddle buddies, we have races down the hall in the apartment, and I know she’s always going to run to the door when I get home from a long day at work.

So in honor of the official World Cat Day, I thought I’d share some of my favorite cat finds — funny Pinterest pictures, quotes I love, and some of Latte’s favorite products. I promise I’ll share some life updates soon that don’t involve fur or four legs, but today, I just couldn’t ignore this “holiday.”

1. I got Mike this watercolor painting from My DaVinci for our anniversary a few months ago. The painting is based on our favorite photo of Latte that I took the day after she came home with us, and I knew I wanted to get this as a present for months. I’m so happy with how it turned out.

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2. I read about 10 cat quotes to Mike the other night while he was falling asleep (and mad that I was still trying to talk to him). I loved them all, but think this one reminds me the most of Latte:

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3. At Latte’s first appointment at the vet, we were told to try to brush her teeth (and clip her nails — but that hasn’t happened without Mike getting seriously injured in about six months). Brushing didn’t go much better than the nail clipping, until I bought this seafood-flavored toothpaste. Everyone made fun of me when I bought it, but hey — it works. She would just eat the whole bottle of it if I let her, and even though she still resists the brushing, she’ll deal with it if it means getting that seafoody taste in her mouth.

4.  The second one just like me…

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5. I wanted to include an update on Latte’s favorite toy in this post, but it’s so hard, since she plays with just about anything (including, recently, a Tylenol bottle, a Wegmans receipt, and a paper Chiptole bag). But she does especially love the glow-in-the-dark balls her aunt Julie got her for Christmas. They’re recommended for blind cats, and they make more noise as they shoot across the floor than normal balls, so she chases them around the apartment all by herself like a demon cat. They are starting to rip apart at the seams from too much action. She still loves her bird, too.

6. As a writer, this Buzzfeed post “16 Famous Writers and Their Cats” was one of my favorites.

7. Some of my favorite days with Latte so far have been the ones where we take her outside for some reading and sunbathing. Latte doesn’t completely get it and often chooses to stay safe in her carrier, but I think she likes it. We’re not really sure if she’s terrified or having fun, but it does wipe her out for the rest of the day.

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A deer was making a threatening noise at Latte from afar in the picture on the right and Latte, blind as a bat, had no idea what was going on.

8. This one made me tear up. Can you believe it?

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Have a great World Cat Day — and Caturday, too! ;)