Second Grade Photos

We were in Europe when class photos were taken. At the time, there was no scheduled make up day, so I was pretty sure we were just going to miss second grade photos. I was a little bummed, but I take so many pictures of Alex already that it isn’t like we would be missing proof of his second grade self.

Luckily, they did have a make up day, and Alex picked out a nice plaid shirt, wet and brushed his hair, and off he went to be cute for the camera. “Be adorable!” I told him as he got out of the car. “Ugh, mom, I’m always adorable.”

Because it was a make up day, I didn’t have the form to fill out to order pictures ahead of time, and instead had to call in my order. When I eventually got ahold of the owner/photographer, he had to warn me:

“Ma’am, we have a rule. We have this rule that we can’t touch the kids, so we can’t fix their hair.”

I cracked up. I knew his hair was long, and crazy, we’d been meaning to get a trim but he kept insisting he liked it that way. I knew we had brushed it in the morning, but that is a futile endeavor. It just ends up crazy as soon as moves his head anyway.

“I just know you’re placing an order for pictures and magnets, so I have to tell you…it’s a cute picture, you know…other than the hair.”

I laughed again. He offered to e-mail me a copy of the picture before I placed my order, but I declined. I kept my order.

Who cares if his hair is wild? I thought to myself. It will be a real representation of Second Grade Alex.

It sure is.

I love it.


Ten Years

It has been ten years since I graduated from high school, and I spent many hours this weekend reminiscing and catching up at my reunion.

I wasn’t going to go. Weekends are notoriously too busy, and I didn’t have the strong desire to spend time with, well, basically strangers at this point.

I still keep in touch with a few people, though, and one of them is someone I have known since second grade. (A mind boggling thought as Alex is making friends and could potentially know these people for the rest of his life.) When a friend you’ve known since second grade is flying across the country for reunion? You kind of have to go.

So I went.

And ten years isn’t that much time, is it? Sure, we’ve all changed in a lot of ways: everyone had graduated from college, was working in some capacity, many were in graduate school, a few were married, and two fellow alums had babies. But then in other ways it seemed like not much had happened. We are all still young, looking relatively unscathed from life. A little gained weight here (hi! Thanks, baby!), some facial hair there, but mostly it looked like the class I graduated with a decade ago.

And it was fun. Great fun.

I’m so glad I went. I’m so glad I got over my anxiety, my fear about being judged for being a young mother, my concern that people would still be stuck in high school mode, my apprehension that the whole thing would be awkward.

Thinking about being a decade out of high school while simultaneously watching Alex as he navigates his way through first grade is something else. I have distinct memories of first grade. Most of those memories aren’t as strong as the ones I have from my time with everyone I spent the weekend with, but they are there. I remember my teacher, some students, my mom. I remember what I got in trouble for (talking, using the wrong color crayon), what I excelled at (math), and the people who began to help form who I would eventually become.

Will Alex remember this year? Will he look back at his time in first grade when he is in high school and remember struggling with spelling? Will he remember that he excelled at math? Will he remember being bored? Will this be motivating or demotivating to him as he enters tougher academics?

I know one thing for sure after spending the weekend with nearly one quarter of my graduating class: I wouldn’t change where I went to high school for anything. And I really hope Zach and I can provide the right environment for Alex as he continues through school. Perhaps one day he can go to his ten year graduation at the same place that I attend my 32nd.

Farm Trip 2014

Three Point Five Years

In three(ish) years, a lot has changed. I went from being a typical college student to…well, whatever I am now. A mother. An almost-nurse. Tired, but happy. A hopeful soon to be home owner. The owner of a seriously awesome new camera.

In three short years…

I had a baby:

Jaundiced Alex, two days old, with mom

One undergraduate degree from Smith College was completed.

I celebrated the first and second birthday with said (no longer a) baby:

Wall-E Cake!  and Alex eating him

Eating birthday cake

I graduated from Pitt with a second bachelor’s degree, this time in Nursing.

And then, to top it all off, I had the most amazing congratulatory dinner celebration last night. A surprise, full of wonderful food, family, and amazing gifts.

As Zach, his parents, my mother, grandmother and long-time friend showered me with love and affection, I came close to tears. As I watched everyone take turns entertaining Alex throughout our long evening, just as they all had numerous times throughout the past year, I came close to tears. When Zach offered me an assortment of my favorite beverages, and as my favorite cake in the world was brought out after dinner, I came close to tears. Every gift I opened? Brought me close to tears.

Again and again I thought about how unbelievably lucky I am. Looking around the room as most of the people I care about gathered to celebrate me and my accomplishments, I felt, mostly, grateful. And also undeserving.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of myself. I am perfectly able to toot my own horn and say that I accomplished a lot over the past few years. This past year (or three, really) has been hard. Really, really, hard. I had to finish up my first degree while staying home with a new baby. I spent the next year taking two classes each term as I prepared to start yet another degree, still staying home with Alex. None of that could prepare me for the challenge of returning to school not just full time, but F.U.L.L. time. Taking more than a full course load each semester and then adding in an average of 24 hours of clinical, all while attempting to still be a mom, a partner, a daughter, a friend…it was almost impossible.

At times, I thought my god, what did I get myself into? I am never going to be able to do this. But then, somehow, it was over.

Only it wasn’t just somehow.

I could never in a million years have gotten through the past three years on my own.

And I can never in a million years thank the people in my life enough.

To Zach, my mother, my grandparents, Zach’s parents, and the friends and family who have supported me:

Thank you. I could not have accomplished any of this, or anything, without you.


Four More Months Of School

I can’t wait to be done. I miss taking pictures. I miss doing nothing. I miss Alex. I miss Zach. I miss my life.


Us :)

I miss my blog, too.

Yesterday, Alex asked, “Where did you go, Mommy?”

I told him, “Today I was taking care of sick people.”

“Oh, you took cawe of sick people on da school bus?”

According to Alex, when I’m not with him? I’m on a school bus.

Snow Day!

For most people, a Saturday is a day off (at least from work). It’s a day to run errands, play with kids, go out with friends. Today, I was supposed to have a day of clinical. The third day in a row waking up at 5 to be at a hospital all day, and I was exhausted. With news of the impending snow storm, I had thought about calling off and doing a makeup day. I knew that they wouldn’t touch our street, and that the busses would be late, if they came at all.

At 11 pm last night, I received a call: No clinical!

I woke up with Alex at a little before 7am, a nice sleep in these days. We had a leisurely morning, making breakfast, drinking coffee and milk, playing with cars, and watching a bit of a movie.

The snow outside was beautiful. I couldn’t not let him play it in, regardless of the fact that we have neither snow pants nor snow boots for Alex. We ventured out.

"This is silly..."

“This is silly.”

While we’ve had a few snow storms this winter, we’ve never really let Alex play in it. Without snow boots, I rarely even let him walk in it unless it was less than an inch. Today I had to make an exception, and Alex wasn’t really sure what to do with himself.

Playing with snow

While I wouldn’t say he had fun, he certainly seemed to find it fascinating. He picked it up, threw it around, dug in it, pushed it in various directions and, naturally, ate it:

Love this face

“It’s yucky. I don’t wike it. It’s too cold.”

To earn his keep, we put him to work. Sadly, he’s a bit too small to have been of any help. Especially considering the snow reached his chest:


Today? Was a good day. Alex had some awesome quality time with us, I had the opportunity to make waffles and hot cocoa, and I never changed out of my pajamas. Tomorrow is back to school, but today was the first day that I’ve been able to really take a break.

Today was definitely a good day.

Pretty Kid


I have received a few e-mails from Pitt regarding scholarships and grants that are available for disadvantaged students. One of them is a scholarship for nearly ten thousand dollars, and another is a nursing grant of an unknown amount. For both, a short essay is required explaining why I should be considered for these scholarships.

The term “disadvantaged” is not a term I like to use. The connotations are enough to turn me off from using that word to describe myself, and then when I look back on my life I don’t think I was disadvantaged. I had a great childhood! I had a mother who loved me, took care of me, treated me well. I had extended family who visited and who I was able to spend time with. I always had a home, food in my stomach, clothes on my back. I went to private school! I attended a wonderful liberal arts, private, college.

But am I technically disadvantaged? Yes. Growing up, I didn’t have money. My mother lost her job, her life savings, her retirement, and her mental health. We lived on her social security disability, which is not exactly a comfortable amount of money. When some of my friends were getting cars for their sixteenth birthdays, I was shopping at the thrift store with my mom for winter clothes.

But. But. Here I am. I’m comfortable, happy, well-educated. I had a mother who fought for me to have the advantages I had: private school, financial aid, scholarships. I do not look at myself as disadvantaged. But. Here I am, going back to school full time. Living on one income, with immense debt. School debt, life expenses debt, debt out the wazoo. A huge personal loan to pay for Alex to attend daycare while I go back to school full time for a year.

As a young, unmarried, mother, I suppose I am “disadvantaged.” I haven’t had any income since 2007, and that income was from my job in college. Even though Zach has a perfectly reasonable income, we struggle every week to pay our debts on time while still keeping food in the house and gas in the car. I still don’t like that word, though. We are fine, not disadvantaged.

But, I’m still going to apply for these scholarships.

And I hope that Alex never has to apply for these types of scholarships. More importantly, even if he does, I hope that as an adult he looks back on his life and thinks, I wasn’t disadvantaged, even if maybe, according to some, he was.


The Little Things

I have come to accept that over the course of the next year I will miss some firsts. And I am in the process of accepting that that is okay. I don’t need to witness the first everything. Instead, I will focus on the adorable, wonderful, frustrating, awesome, silly, things that Alex does now, even if they aren’t brand new. Even if I wasn’t the first to see, or notice.

Take, for example, Alex’s use of “a piece of.”

It all started with his birthday cake. “Alex, do you want a piece of birthday cake?”

“Yeah! A piece of birfday cake!”

Then, for the rest of that day he would ask for a piece of birthday cake. Then, for the entirety of the next few days he would ask for a piece of birthday cake. Then, he would ask for a piece of anything.

“A piece of a yogurt?”
“A piece of milk?”
“A piece of orange juice?”
“A piece of blueberries?”
“A piece of medicine?”

He’s also mastered the understanding of half. He knows when something is broken in half, he sometimes fusses when things break in half, and he has even demanded that I cut things in half. “Cut it in half!” “No! No break in half!”

A few weeks ago, he asked me to cut his milk in half. He was not terribly understanding when I explained to him that I wasn’t able to cut his milk.

It’s the little things that will keep me going this year:

The fact that Alex finally (sometimes) says “Thank You,” even if it comes out as one big word: “Tankoooo!”

The fact that Alex almost always says “Bless you” when someone sneezes. Even himself. He reminds us all to be polite.

The fact that Alex continues to call Batman “Fatman.”

The fact that Alex runs up to me on the days I am able to pick him up from daycare, yelling, “Mommy!” while waving his arms enthusiastically and immediately asking to be picked up for a big hug and kiss.

The fact that Alex loves to build things. He asks regularly to “build a tower? Build a house? Build a tunnel?”

The fact that Alex tells us directly when he doesn’t like something. “NO WIKE IT!” (His “L” sound is still a struggle.)

I take these little moments and remember them throughout my long days at school. When a patient asks me about my life, which so far every one has, I share the little stories of my son with them. It’s amazing what a difference the silly little anecdotes can make for my sanity and for the comfort of someone in pain. I even had a patient tell me, “no wike it!” when I asked how their lunch was that day; a big smile formed across their face.

These little moments have not been well documented in photo form lately. I haven’t touched my camera in two weeks. But I keep these moments in my head, and here in written form. I may end up missing out on a few weeks of Alex’s growth in photos here and there, but I will do my best to keep up with his life here. Even if it means taking ten minutes out of my weekend studying, because I’d rather miss a question on an exam than forget that when Alex was 2 years old he was obsessed with Caillou, screamed, “NO WIKE IT!” and gave the sweetest kisses.

Dinosaur hat (cropped)