Friday, December 19, 2008

What a week

It has been one hell of a week for me. I'll start with the more happy news. Most everyone in my life knows this by now, but I am pregnant with our second. I am in my 12th week and what a long, horrible, and sick road it has been. I have never been so sick in my life. It was never this bad with Dominick, where I was at least able to function on a daily basis. This time, not so much. I took more time off work then I did all year for myself due to not being able to get out of bed, or hold water down. Everyone says, "Oh, it's all worth it, don't worry, it will go by quickly." Mmhmm. These are the people who a) have never had sickness to this extreme or b) just don't want to hear you complain anymore. But, alas, come Thanksgiving Day, I was able to eat something besides crackers and water, and it has been a very slow, gradual slope from there. Although I still get sick in the morning, I am still able to eat normal foods, just nothing with grease yet. I seem to be back to craving cheese: mac and cheese, cream cheese, whatever. I have a nice list of places I have to eat when I feel back to my normal self again, if that ever happens. Which I'm starting to think, never will. I will always be falling asleep at 7:30 every night and I will never be able to eat from a restaurant again. So, that has been my life for the past couple of months. So far the #1 highlight happened a couple of weeks ago when I threw up in my car after dropping Dominick off at my mom's. Luckily I learned with Dominick to keep a plastic bag in the car, so it didn't go all over. But, still just as bad as you would imagine it to be. That story is definitely going in the baby book! Yay motherhood!

This week has been a sad one for my family as one of my parents' beloved dogs, Orion, passed away on Tuesday. We have had Big O since he was 8 weeks old and died at the age of 15 (almost 16). He has had problems with his hips and would lose control of his bowels, so we knew he wouldn't be around too much longer. My father came home from work on Tuesday and found him in the living room, so my mom came home and they called the vet. My brother, who had a special bond with O, wanted to have him cremated so he could have his ashes, so that is what they did. Their other dog, Sekkara, has been doing fine. She was a bit lost on Tuesday night, but my mom says that she seems to be doing just fine. We got Sekkara when she was 2 and we realized when we adopted her, that from her birth date and markings, that she was Orion's litter mate! Talk about coincidence. So brother and sister were united again. It was hard to explain to Dominick why Orion wouldn't be at Boppy and Grandma's house anymore, but I think his little brain processed about as much as it could, and he has been fine with it since. It will take some getting used to of being at their house and having only one dog there instead of two, but, such is the circle of life. We miss you, big guy.

Today is my last day of work until the 29th and I am so excited. I haven't taken the week of Christmas off pretty much since I started working out of college. Today we are getting hit with our first huge storm of the season: 8 to 12 inches by late tonight. It should start pretty much any time now and just keep going all day. We are pretty much guaranteed a white Christmas this year as this is the first of a couple of fronts that will plow through our area. I will definitely get some pictures of all of the snow as I'm sure we'll all be out shoveling and playing.

So, that is about all of the news that's fit to print on this Friday morning. Stay warm!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

With Christmas comes memories

It's December and we are all busy with holiday plans, shopping, and for us nor'easterners, fighting the weather. For me, this time of year is heavy with memories, as I'm sure it is for many people. I come from an Italian family that is heavy on the Christmas traditions. The main day of tradition being Christmas Eve. For so many years, this entailed going to my grandparents' house for a huge feast: fish, shrimp, scuengeli (skoon-gee-lee, aka squid), artichoke hearts, cabbage and beans, soup, clams casino, spaghetti ali oliea (ah-lee-oh-lee-ya), and I'm sure I'm forgetting something else. And I know that I'm spelling a lot of that wrong, but I don't have my Italian dictionary around (ever), so just bear with me.

This evening ended up being my most anticipated evening of the entire year. I was more excited about going to Grandma's house on Christmas Eve than I was to see what I got under the tree the next morning. I would sit in my room or in the living room and watch the clock and count down the minutes until it was 4:00. We always lived close to my grandparents, so it was never a long drive. We would get out of the car, grab the presents, and try not to slip and break something on the icy steps. When we opened the door, we were welcomed by the most marvelous sights and smells I will ever know. The warmth of the house and the warmth from the kitchen seeped throughout the whole house and it was like a great big hug just for you. We would take off our coats and boots and unload the presents, kiss our hellos, then take our places around the coffee table for snacks (my aunt and I always permanently placed in front of the chips and dip). Soon my grandfather would come home from wherever it was that he had gone (often shopping for himself, because why not) and we would sit down for our big Italian feast. Oh it was so good. My grandma would spend a week getting everything ready: shopping for the fish (or sending my dad), preparing the various dishes, etc. Dinner was always accompanied with great conversation and at least one horrible joke that my grandfather told. We would stuff ourselves silly and then the men took over for the cleaning of the dishes and table while the ladies sat and chatted. Eventually we would all make enough room for some Italian cookies and coffee, then we could dig into the presents. When we were little, and my cousins were little, my grandma always turned the news on so we could see where Santa was at the moment. We all played with our presents and laughed and had a good time. Soon, the evening would wrap up and it was back home for us. We always had my grandparents over for dinner the next day and that always made me happy.

As I got older, my grandmother had more difficulties putting dinner together. When I was in college, after my grandmother's first stroke, I spent the day with her breading and frying the fish and getting things ready for her. It was the only year we did that, but I will always remember it. My clothes and hair stunk of fish, but I didn't care. I think Grandma and I ate more fish while we fried it then we actually put on the table. As my grandmother's health declined, we continued going to her house, but we all chipped in to get dinner ready and together. Once my grandfather passed, my uncle took over the job of telling the bad joke of the year (very often the joke of the man with the suit with a sleeve that was too long). More time passed and my grandmother went into a nursing home and we had to sell their house. My mother took over Christmas Eve dinner at her house and we were always able to bring my grandmother over for dinner from the home. In the summer of 2007 my grandmother passed and each Christmas season gets a little harder when we discuss Christmas Eve. I still look forward to it, but it isn't the same without my Little Grandma. I will always remember how I felt walking into that house on Christmas Eve: so overjoyed by every bit of it: the warmth, the food, the decorations, the laughter, every last second of it.

Now that I am a mother, I hope that my children have the same excitement that my brother and I had in going over to their grandparents' house on Christmas Eve. When they are old enough, I plan to tell them all about my Christmas Eve love and all about their great grandparents. If it is one tradition I am determined to pass on as a parent, it is this one. While I know my grandparents are looking down on us on all of the Christmas Eves to come, it still saddens me that they aren't here with us. But I have so many years of wonderful memories with them that I am grateful for all of it.

Not to be a downer in a time when we should be all cheerful, but I think it's only natural for us to think of those we miss and traditions we grew up with, etc. So here's to tradition, family, food, and love!