November 10, 2018 § Leave a comment
Tonight will mark two weeks since we suddenly and unexpectedly lost my Dad. A lot of people have reached out to ask how I’m doing and I really, really appreciate that. I have to say, thanks to the support and love of my family and friends, I’m doing okay. I am so fortunate to have my amazing Mom, sister, and brother, PLUS Nick and two little boys who are so busy and funny and fun that I cannot help but to be forced into the present every day while I’m with them. Charlie has no idea what happened (and the fact that he won’t have any memories of his own of his Grandpa makes me so angry/sad), but Henry now understands. We talk about Grandpa and what Henry thinks happens when you die. There’s a lot of family photos in his room, including three that Grandpa are in, so we say goodnight to him. But five years old is too young to really obsess about this for too long.
When I do have time to myself to think, like while practicing yoga, walking down the street running errands, or during the massage Nick booked for me last weekend, I think of my Dad nonstop. I also had a teary moment with a Mom of one of Henry’s friends in the schoolyard last week while talking about it, since she too lost her Dad suddenly and was very close with him.
Thank you so much to those friends that have sent flowers and cards and goodies to us in the past two weeks. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have all these thoughtful, loving people in my life. Not that I didn’t before, but moments like these make me appreciate the people I have collected throughout my life and like my Dad would have, I will always love and appreciate them.
Some things that have made me feel better during the past two weeks have been reading about grief. Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found and connected with:
“Rather often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. That is as it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.
Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief. I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, to forget it… Every lament is a love-song.” via
“My heart is with the Miller and Northcott families who are now struck with the task of learning to love in absence after the luxury of loving in presence.” via
“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.” via
July 22, 2016 § 1 Comment
Six years ago today, this happened.
Which led to six years of things happening…
And tonight, we will go out for dinner, get Big Gay Ice Cream, and walk the High Line together.
Happy anniversary, Nick. There’s no one else I’d rather spend 10 hours with in a car with a toddler twice a year, lie in bed beside and watch Netflix at the end of the day, and over-plan life decisions with ;) I love you!
January 7, 2016 § Leave a comment
Better late than never, here’s a look at this Christmas’ adventures and events!
Since our summer drive to Canada went pretty well, we decided to do the same thing for Christmas rather than fly there.
This time, we stopped in Syracuse to visit our friend Matt and to let Henry run around a mall (he wanted to buy all the dog calendars from one kiosk), but then we kept driving until we reached Watertown, New York and spent the night in a hotel.
We left fairly early the next morning (delayed only by Henry falling into some carpet glue workers were putting down right outside the elevator doors when they opened. *eye roll*) and then finished our drive to my parents’ cottage in Fenelon Falls, Ontario.
Usually, by the time Christmas comes around, the cottage is covered in snow and it’s very cold. This year we were very lucky to have warmer than normal temperatures. Henry was thrilled to still be able to play in the sandbox every day!
Our first night there, Henry scaled himself right out of the crib. We all stood around stunned for a while, then gave into the fact that I’d be sharing a bed with a toddler for the week. Look at those shifty eyes! He knew what he was doing.
The next afternoon, we had a visit from my friend Eli and his two sons!
Their mom was on-call midwife duty for the week and so the guys rented a mini van and drove all the way up to hang out with us. I was so glad to see them and that our kids could finally meet!
Arlo and Henry are starting a truck-themed kid band.
The next day was Christmas Eve. For the first time since my parents moved up to the cottage full-time, our family had our Christmas celebration there instead of at my sister’s place. With 5 grand kids, 3 of us “kids”, spouses, grandparents, and my parents, it was a full house.
It was fun to see Henry really get into Christmas this year. He still doesn’t know the Santa story, but was really excited to open all of his presents.
Jillian the veterinarian.
A coupla handsome Miller men.
The kids had an unplanned black t-shirt and blue jeans dress code. The twins did not want mom to put them down.
Colouring trucks with uncle Ryan and aunt Suzanne.
And some calm once 5 grand kids were reduced to just one.
As per our now Christmas Day tradition, we met Julia, Jay, and Blake in Oshawa. This is our third year of meeting up on Christmas Day and having our little dudes play!
We got to catch up while the little dudes shared snacks, toys, high fives and amazing hair tips.
We spent the last day at the cottage with my parents. It was so nice to see them and to see how Henry really remembers them every visit now. He really took to my dad this time! Grandpa got many, many hugs.
It was great to see everyone and to have Henry spend so much time with family and friends. Before long, he’s going to be asking when he gets to go to the cottage again, just like his cousins :)
November 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
This past weekend, we got to celebrate Halloween and Henry’s second birthday!
Since Henry’s still a bit young for trick-or-treating (plus he doesn’t like candy), we spent the afternoon at Social Pants‘ Halloween party at Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park. They did a great job! We saw so many amazing costumes!
Including Henry’s Curious George, which we weren’t sure if he’d actually wear, but was a very good sport about putting it on for a few hours.
On Sunday, we had an apartment full of people for Henry’s birthday party.
Since all of his invited two year olds buddies besides little Zack couldn’t make it, it ended up being mostly adults, plus Henry’s BFF, 8 year old Caylan, and 2 month old Eloise. It was a nice balance though – very manageable!
Henry handled being serenaded with the birthday song from about 20 people very well and enjoyed eating just the strawberry from the top of his birthday cupcake.
This gift-giving event was the most prosperous to date in Henry’s short life. Our apartment is officially covered in trucks of all types and sizes! Here he is, eating his dinner after the party with his new bulldozer.
Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate, and loved ones who made that extra effort to send Henry their best wishes in the mail. We love you! Here’s to our third year of #DailyHank!
October 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
As some of you may know by now, Nick and I have birthdays two days apart. This makes for some good celebrations – kind of like a mini Christmas! We were secretly hoping Henry would be born sooner so he could be part of the festivities too, but it’s probably best he got his own month.
This year, since Henry’s a full fledged toddler, we decided to do something he’d enjoy too so we drove to Terhune Orchards in Princeton, New Jersey on Friday.
This cute little farm has an apple orchard, pumpkin patches, a corn maze, animals, hay bales to play on, and tractors you can sit on and pretend to ride.
Henry LOVED the trucks and farm machinery (obviously), but also thought the sheep, goats, chickens, ponies, and geese were hilarious and cute.
There was a jungle gym tractor.
As well as some old tractors made for kids to “ride”.
While Nick and I took turns popping into the farm fresh store to buy apple cider, apple cider donuts, a bushel of apples, and pumpkin nut bread, Henry took it upon himself to rearrange their pallets of pumpkins.
Then a tractor drove by!
Henry has eaten two or three apples a day since we visited the farm, and every time he eats one, he has to remind you where it came from. We will be apple picking again soon!
On Saturday evening, Nick and I had Henry’s beloved sitter Valerie come over early so we could go out for dinner and go see The Martian.
(Henry gets art.)
For Nick’s birthday on Sunday, I brought him home a Dough “donut cake” after morning Mysore which we all enjoyed. What a delicious birthday weekend!
July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
Nick and I said “I do!” at NYC’s City Hall 5 years ago today. That’s half a decade of marriage, people!
I feel very fortunate to have found the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with. In the past five years, I have experienced Nick’s generosity and love and his remarkable problem solving skills whenever we encounter a challenge, which happens often now that we are parents! Although we rarely argue, we have perfected the Art of the Argue in a way that always comes to some kind of solution or understanding. While we love being able to travel and do things together, we also both enjoy a good chunk of time spent on the couch, him watching baseball while I read, or just talking. We both have our own interests, as well as shared ones, but respect each other’s hobbies and passions. We can lean on each other when the other needs support, and I think that so far, we are kicking ass at parenthood! ;)
Here’s a look back at our first five years of marriage, if you’d like to see.
I love you more than you’ll ever know, Nick. Here’s to the next five years!
May 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
Unplanned photo shoots – aren’t they always the best ones?
I love the photos my DSLR takes with its 50mm lens, but since Henry became mobile, it’s been more challenging to shoot manually. Then the other night after dinner, I found a school bus I’d hidden in my dresser because Henry was trying to eat the wheels off it. Now that he’s a bit older (and less likely to eat a choking hazard), he was completely enchanted with the bus, driving it around the windowsill of his bedroom.
Then… Dad came home!
Nick had his usual after work snack: Henry’s belly.
And then things got sweet.
This horseplay is a wonderful nightly occurrence, but it looks even better on camera :)
May 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
My second Mother’s Day was fantastic! (Much better than my first.)
Nick got home from his week-long trip to London on Friday afternoon and spent the rest of the day with Henry and I. He also brought me peonies and British chocolate. Anything else that would happen would just be icing on the cake at this point!
Early Saturday afternoon, Nick filled in on bass for two songs with his friend’s band down the street, so I attempted to bring Henry in the Ergo, with his noise blocking baby headphone things. We hung at Saint Vitus for a bit, but unfortunately, his first show was not his dad playing. That’s okay. After Nick was done, we all went to the park as a family.
Today was a jam-packed, but perfect day of yoga, a quick morning visit from our friend Will, then Nick, Henry, and I took the East River Ferry to DUMBO.
Henry hadn’t ridden the boat since early last Fall, way before his new boat obsession, so he had a great time. He even got to stand out back with dad on the way there!
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we saw a POLICE BOAT!!! (Please excuse Hank’s sunscreen-filled, sweaty, Harry from Dumb & Dumber hair ;)
When we got to DUMBO, we took Henry to the cool pirate ship-themed playground to let out some energy. I realized I’d never been to this area of Brooklyn on a summer weekend before — it was so packed with people, mostly families, that it was like the Disney World of NYC! The name DUMBO had never been more appropriate.
After Henry got to watch trucks and the subway drive over the bridges, I got a Jacques Torres ice cream sandwich, and we saw enough people to make us want to hide in our apartment, we caught the ferry for a ride back home.
Thanks to Nick and Henry for a wonderful Mother’s Day. I’m so fortunate to be Henry’s mom and Nick’s wife!
March 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s been a few months in between Henry updates, so after taking the first DSLR photos I’ve been able to snap of him since he started walking, I thought this would be a good time for one!
Little Hank here is about 16.5 months old. His baby days are long gone! It’s amazing to see his skills and interests constantly evolving. He’s traded in his former favourite toy – the plastic bottle – for megablocks and little wooden animals.
He has quite a few wooden puzzles of animals, dinosaurs, and various vehicles that he can now put in their proper spots. He can stack and nest cups, play with his megablocks, and use a fork very well!
We now let him watch a little TV each day, because when it’s an ungodly hour in the morning, you need to watch Thomas & Friends and cuddle. He’s also started watching some Baby First TV right before dinner and his waving, clapping, pointing, and other skills have actually improved.
We are currently in an exhausted limbo, waiting for his final fourth teeth, the incisors, to come in. Early mornings and midnight wakings are our current state. The photo above shows his “Muppet face” which lets us know his teeth are really driving him crazy.
Henry may be deep into toddlerhood by asserting his opinions and letting you know when he is NOT happy, but he really is such a joy. After a toddler meltdown, he’ll eventually calm and look you in the eyes and smile (maybe even do a little butt wiggling dance) and all is forgiven :)
February 25, 2015 § 1 Comment
New York is losing a wonderful collection of people to Nashville today – my good friends Kate and Bryan and their “menagerie”.
Kate and I met in person in 2007 during my first visit to New York. We both worked for The Agency Group and I wanted to check out their office while I was in town. We began to see each other at shows, festivals, and bars when I was in town, and once I moved here, she was one of just two friends I had (not counting Nick, of course).
As twenty-somethings, we would plan nights of dining at tacky-but-tasty Indian food restaurants then tour the bars of the East Village for PBR and Jager specials. That morphed into trying to find Manhattan’s hidden speakeasies and sipping fancy cocktails.
We started to become actual “adults”. We saw each other get married – they even asked me to be their wedding photographer!
Then we were fortunate enough to be pregnant together, Kate just a few months ahead of me, and discovered that trading drinks for dessert was the way to go. (One evening at Eataly, we had gelato after dinner and both wondered out loud “What have we been doing? This is much cheaper and more delicious!”)
The past two years have been a mix of family get togethers and one on one visits. The 5pm Sunday dinner at Brooklyn Label with 4 adults and 3 young children became our new favourite tradition.
No matter what the activity (or stage of pregnancy), Kate was always fun. Always positive, rational, kind, outgoing, and welcoming. Kate and Bryan have been parenting role models to Nick and I – we have been lucky to have them 5 months ahead of us in child rearing and love to hear how they handled the sticky situations we currently face.
Rocco and Royce (and Ponch, Gucci, and Gambino) are fortunate to have such great parents, who care so much about them that they wanted to leave this remarkable city to bring them up in a proper house with a yard, two cars, and less pollution. New York will miss them all, but the city understands it presents some serious challenges for families (who aren’t millionaires ;)
Good luck to the Vastanos – I’m sure we will head south to visit you sooner than later!