Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Your Resolutions

The start of a new year is drawing nearer each passing moment ...
tick tock, tick tock, tick tock ...
and what are the types of things we're so determined to stand firm on next year?

Are we convinced that this is the year we'll lose those pesky ten (maybe more like twenty) pounds gained over the holidays?

Is it decided that we'll make more time for ourselves, our children or our spouses?

Become a better friend, a more caring sibling or a considerate neighbor?

Whatever it is that you're hoping, wishing and dreaming about for 2010, there is little consolation that these things don't happen on their own. These things must take on a life of their own and more than just a slight modicum of effort on ourselves for it to materialize.

Thank you friends, family and e-samaritans for unfailing support, renewed energy and exemplifying the magnitude an act of simple human kindness can impress on a person.

Wishing everyone out there a safe and Happy New Year! See you in 2010!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

End of Year Musings

We're almost to the end of the year and there a lot of erratic emotions wildly flying through our hearts ... not quite sure where to settle down. The holidays are bittersweet and the bite of loss is sharp. To cope and make it through each day, it is and was important to remind myself of the things I am thankful for.

Everyone is doing their countdown of the "Best of 2009" so I adapted that to my own liking here.


Enjoying the wedding planning and setting a date.

Deciding a wedding theme and searching venues in a few different states.

Planning and booking our annual joint family vacation.

Found a venue!!!
Thanks to a wonderful suggeston - much appreciation!
Many, many birthdays!!!

Bridal dresses, the Knot and my birthday :)

We're pregnant!! Oh Happy Day!

We're sick and preparing for vacation.

No laptop!
Enough said.

We're married!
Finishing first trimester and seeing 3-D ultrasound photos.
We're in awe!

Shy of our next exam, Nari is born and became our personal guardian angel.
Most beautiful little girl we ever saw!

Becoming a "Mrs." on plastic and fried turkey.

Ending the year - we're so ready for twenty-ten.

I forgot how wonderful it is having a living Christmas tree.
I also keep forgetting that a real Christmas tree means it also needs watering ... oops!

Don't worry though! It's still alive ...

... and holding all of our ornaments ...

... complete with a trinket admirer.

From one family to yours, keep loved ones close and warm your hearts by the fire that creates.

We exist to enjoy the adventures that these connections spark.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a Wonderful Kwanzaa everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sweet Tooth

Oreo truffles were devoured at work - both Ken's and mine! In fact, I had to get them out of the house before Ken gorged himself on them. I love baking for the holidays. Actually, that's not true. I love baking any time of year but it's probably the one time of year you can get away with baking so many sweets without the guilt. Well, not as much anyway.

This past Sunday, a dear pastor friend of mine preached a great message (as told to me by my other dear friend, his wife). I'd like to share it with you.

It was about "Unlocking Uncommon Blessings/Favor" in one's life. He said,
"Touch your heart & say this to yourself out loud:
I Am Sacred. What's Inside Me Is Sacred. And I Need to Treat it That Way."

I am in agreement that once I heard it, that one line has also rocked my world.
I am Sacred.
What's inside me is Sacred.
And I need to treat it That Way.
Have you been wasting the best parts of yourself on things, situations and people who STILL don't understand the value of who you really are?

Pause for a moment and remember: your body is a temple.
Treat it that way.
And treat others with the same honor & respect.

All credit for that message due to Rhema Fellowship Church and its great Pastor Green and First Lady.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lights, Chocolate, Action!

Can you believe we both slept in until almost noon today?! It just isn't heard of in this house so everything that we had planned for today pretty much either fell off the list altogether or was drastically delayed.

Given the gravity of our day yesterday, it seemed our souls and bodies needed rest. Neither of us left the house nor changed out of our pajamas today. Such bliss that comes from these simple things!

So we cleaned our house, put up a few more decorations inside and I spent a little time later in the evening making oreo truffles to include as part of my office gifts. There was the best holiday sprinkles I picked up yesterday in my travels ...

After making about 100 truffles and individually wrapping each, I was happy to be done with them. Each holiday printed cellophane bag will have candy canes and Lindt truffles with my homemade truffles to be added last before I bring them into work with me on Tuesday. These are the kinds of things that make the holidays so exciting for me.

Not so exciting is all the work for work that I've been and am still doing ... where is that coffee?

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Holiday Spirit

Stores are blaring it, stations are playing it and we're humming along to it. Christmas is here when Oldies 103.3 FM  dedicates its entire playlist of everyday to the Sounds of the Season.  I admit, I've been getting in the spirit too and have settled on the Holiday music channel on TV more than a few times.

Ken and I have put it off for some time but we are finally placing our daughter's ashes to rest somewhere we can visit each year on her birth date. It's already and only been two months since that date. We've thought about this since then and realized that we were partly also afraid to face that reality head on.

How does someone bury their own child?

I don't even know the answer to that question. However, I do know how important it is for us to do this because it is more than going through the motions of the burial itself. There is such significant symbolism exhibited by our actions to do so and actively pushes PLAY on all the efforts we've invested thus far.

I won't rattle off the countless clichés about loved ones and the holidays that come to mind because we've heard them all before, right? What I will say is that none of those heartfelt Hallmark clichés spark chords with a person until their life experience allows them access.

Ok, just one saying about family and home ~ one of my favorites ...

Houses are made of sticks and stones, but
Homes are made of love alone.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our Wedding

As we're in the final month of 2009 and heading into a new year, it's rife with memories and mostly hope. I don't think I've mentioned it here but Ken and I were married just this past September in a small ceremony with family at my childhood home in New Hampshire. We're planning a formal reception with a renewal ceremony for September 2010.

I think back to this day as I'm browsing through some photos and think that there are some days that turn out so much better than you expected.

Here are a few of my favorites from the day ...

What is this life but a series of moments taken by love, laughter and most importantly, dessert!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Peace

Thanksgiving was a very calm affair this year. So calm, in fact, that I plum forgot to take any pictures of our cooking frenzy. Even though I didn't plan to cook much this year because of my scheduled surgery the day before Thanksgiving (yes, it was very bad timing), it turned out that I just couldn't stay out of my kitchen!

Have I shown you my kitchen?

This is newly renovated as of last Thanksgiving and it's by far my most favorite place in our house!

I custom ordered the butcher block top and my handy husband made the island from scratch.

Notice my pot filler above the stove?
This one thing alone made the months of take-out worthwhile!

We finished off the floor with bamboo hardwood, purchased all new stainless steel appliances and installed granite countertops (shown below).

On the wall, right of the breakfast bar, is where I used chalkboard paint and an open frame to good use ...

And what is the question on every woman's mind while cooking?

Amid these surroundings, our feast came together. Even though we didn't have our usual crowd this year, it was a blessing in disguise because what we needed most this time around was peace.

I wish I had taken pictures of the table settings, food prep and finished dishes but the most notable differences this year was our decision to deep fry our turkey, homemade cranberry sauce (instead of the Ocean Spray canned) and the "Turkey Derrick" (courtesy of The Food Network) Ken rigged to lower the turkey into the fryer.

Knowing that this may very well be our last Thanksgiving at this house before we officially move up north, we're making each moment here count.

We're picking up our tree a week late because we had already moved our decorations to the other house so once we pick those back up, we'll be picking out a tree at the lot to decorate.

Christmas is almost here and we're already running behind!
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Watch out for Christmas decorations and crafts - It really is the most wonderful time of year!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wishful Thinking ...

I think everybody has those moments where you take a snapshot of a moment in your life and wish it away. Those moments make you doubt the person you are and test what you're made of. Most have a love/hate relationship with those moments. I know I do.

I'm looking at the tall turntable of festive and LUSCIOUS cupcakes.  The heavenly aroma of freshly brewed specialty coffees hangs in the air. I've been sitting in a quirky coffeeshop plugged into my iTunes and hooked into their Wi-Fi just loving this moment.

In the time of year where the focus is what we are thankful for, it is very difficult for me to BE thankful although I know that there is much I AM thankful for. Focusing on the positive is unfailingly exhausting these days but I'm trying.

I'd like to share with you my list of things that I'm thankful for this year.

I'm thankful for ...
... the unseasonably warm days of November in New England.
... the turning of the seasons (I would surely miss it if I were ever to leave this area).
... my understanding, supportive and positive husband.
... my well-intentioned family (you all know what I'm talking about here).
... knowing pain to appreciate joy that much more.
... understanding loss to treasure the present.
... feeling grief to honor my past.
... experiencing birth, even in it's tragedy, to realize miracles happen.

Life doesn't always happen in the ways that you might expect and often times, we're left with the scars and gaping wounds that can only hope to heal in time. Yet, even through the times where you aren't sure why "bad things can happen to good people" or why "good things can happen to bad people", stay faithful to the first phrase.

What do I mean by that?

Remember that you are a good person. Bad is the balance of good and that the grass always seem greener on the other side.

Thanksgiving is about more than food, it's about family and appreciating the glue that keeps it together ... whatever that may be!

Wishing eveyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!

p.s. Send me updates on your Thanksgiving. I'll be posting pictures and possible personal recipes after the holiday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My First Time

Perhaps I'm naive or just plain ignorant but in this case, I wished to ascribe the saying "Ignorance is bliss" to myself.

~ flash back ~

I picked up Nari's ashes on Tuesday afternoon from the hospital. It arrived in a white paper gift bag, in a white box accompanied by a white envelope with gold writing. I'm not sure if all the white was intentional but it did invoke images of heaven, haloes, winged spirits and innocence but I immediately rejected them all.

Here is where my naivete kicks in ...
While the social worker was busy asking me about how I was coping, feeling and doing, all I spied with my little eye were the cremains perched on a cluttered entryway table.

What do they look like?
How do they package this?
Was that really my baby in there?

Not pleasant thoughts.

I was surprised to see that white envelope with all the fancy gold writing. What was in there? Oh ... the Death Certificate. I never knew there was such a thing and although it made logical sense (if there is a Birth Certificate, of course there would be such a thing as a Death certificate), my emotional sense was hurt by it.

There were a lot of mixed emotions coursing through my system while I drove home. The white bag sat small in the passenger seat but exuded such a presence. I will say that it isn't quite the way I imagined bringing my baby home.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


For those unaware (and trust me, I was most certainly unaware), in 2002, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted a state law that gives parents who have experienced a pregnancy loss resulting in stillbirth the option to request that the state Registrar of Vital Records issue a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. 

The above is taken directly from the reverse side of the application that was given to us by the hospital social worker while we were still there. I realized I hadn't read it completely until today.

It also states:

The law gives parents the option of requesting a certificate at any time in the future.

Given the option, Ken and I decided that we did want a birth certificate so we promptly mailed our application and check the day after we came home from the hospital.  It arrived in the mail just yesterday and here it is framed.

I'm sorry that this picture is not very clear. The ball of light you see is the camera flash but you will see that I added the little scrollwork up top and the pink footprint onto the cardboard matting.

Little by little, these are the ways we are healing and honoring our baby. Time is a conscionable thief. Taking the mediocrity out of each day but leaving the illusion of feeling that day only yesterday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Letting in the Light

Today is only Tuesday but I would believe it if someone told me it was really Friday.  We were only pretending today was Tuesday. Everyone loves to play pretend, right?

Yesterday was my first day back to work. I had taken a little less than four weeks off from work thinking that would be enough to physically heal, mentally regroup and tie up most of our administrative loose ends. Turns out it takes a lot longer than four weeks to do all of that. Who knew?

Physically, things have calmed down. Sometimes my mind, body and heart don't all agree but I'm still moving, brain bustling and the blood is coursing in efforts to fuel my soul.

Several people have told me how strong I am. Others have asked where do I get this kind of strength?

I'll tell you an unsecret. I don't have strength. No, it is just that my heart and soul hasn't completely shut down. What an amazing self-discovery!

There have been many moments of sheer collapse.  It is strange because it isn't until your own most difficult times do you realize what virtues (that your fellow good citizen strives for) are ones you'd kept blissfully contained. 

I came back to the office after the company finished renovations to convert all of the cubicles and office walls to glass and a more open concept layout.  There have been reactions spanning each spectrum. Even stranger ... I, usually an outspoken advocate for causes and an enthusiastic picketer, haven't really felt anything about the changes one way or another. No overtly positive or adverse opinions.

I do notice the light that now floods the occupied and cramped space. I'm generally very sensitive to light due to my chronic migraines but so far, I haven't minded the light.

On the contrary, it reminds me of a quote that I'm fond of:
I keep the subject of my inquiry constantly before me, and wait till the first dawning opens gradually, by little and little, into a full and clear light.
~ Isaac Newton

I'm a notorious planner.
I'm a closet sentimental.
Now, I'm also the glass "a little more full".

Before this month, I did not even realize I was living in the dark but I'm opening up to the light and soaking it in.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

This Halloween is a strange one because we're experiencing so many changes in our lives. We didn't decorate or put our usual lights up outside our house this year because we're packing and moving. We didn't stock up on Halloween treats or get into costume. And most of all, I'm not really sure if I'll be excited to see all the little witches, princesses, spidermans and ghosts trick-or-treating this year.

Regardless, we will be stocking up on candy today. We will be putting on the spooky music and brew our glühwein to sip while oohing and ahhing at the creative costumes.

Our street has an especially high volume of activity. Most of it can be attributed to the fact that several houses on this street decorate to the extreme for most of the major holidays. One decorates for EVERY SINGLE holiday of the year. I don't know where they store all of the tacky inflatables and lighted plastics! Their basement has to look like a mad funhouse!

Happy Halloween to all the ghouls and goblins that have dressed up to celebrate the passing and beginning of another season.

That's most important to remember.
We're here for the living
I appreciate every reminder of that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Newlywed Game

Mondays are busy for everyone but considering my temporary hiatus from work, I have had the luxury of sleeping in and taking it easy.

Yesterday was a little different. I woke up early to see my husband off to his client in Connecticut and I left soon after for a meeting of my own. As I sat in crawling traffic on the way, my mind wandered to how I might be feeling and how much my belly would have grown if I were still pregnant. 

I would have been 24 weeks by now. Most of the physical afterbirth side effects have disappeared but I'm still blanketed by the emotional ones. At Ken's suggestion, I've since unsubscribed from all the pregnancy updates and emails so I'm not sure what she might have been up to by now. I have to admit, there are times when Ken is right (yes, I committed that to writing!).

We're waiting to have Nari's ashes returned from the funeral home. What happens after that isn't public information but her parents have a special plan.

What is God's grand design for us? Whatever it is, my hope is to discover the silver lining in hindsight. Regardless of whether we can recognize what The Plan might be, it is important to have faith.

Ken and I are not religious by any means. We were both raised Catholic and attended parochial schools but don't feel as though our faith is demonstrated by our attendance. By faith, I mean it in other ways in addition to and beyond the confines of a few hours each week in a specific location.

What do I mean? Faith in each other. Faith in ourselves. Faith in our future.

Without faith, we wouldn't have made it through the night at the hospital, the day we came home and the blurred days immediately after. Without faith, we wouldn't have hope for our future and the strength to stay positive. Most importantly, faith guides Ken and I to be who we need the other to be for each other. It isn't foolproof (ask either of us!). We're not keeping score. We're keeping the faith!

We haven't been married very long but it's safe to say that we've been through hell in a sandstorm during what should have been our honeymoon. I say that with a chuckle and have still retained a sense of humor through it all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wedded Bliss

Our dear friends Jeff and Jefferson (a.k.a. Jeff Squared) officially wed yesterday and the weekend has been filled with a flurry of wedding activity! It was such a heartwarming reminder of what an exciting and exhausting time a wedding can be.  They wrote their own vows and couldn't help but get misty while they were exchanged but I wasn't the only one!  I'm so glad I brought a few tissues!

We were so happy to be a part of their celebration with them and I've shared some of my favorite photos from the day here.

Boston skyline and view from the venue.
(Museum of Science)
The day was a little gloomy but the view was still amazing!

This picture of the car has nothing to do with the wedding but if it looks familiar, you may be interested to know it was Potter-mania at the museum and Ken is a fanatic!  This picture was snapped while we were waiting to be brought up to the function room.

Cake cutting ... I realize that there are no pictures of the most important part but we were requested to refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony.

This is my favorite picture of us (by us) taken as
Mr. & Mrs. Hamilton :)

Our newfound favorite friends from the West coast (John & Jorge).

Jeff, Ken, me and Jefferson

They are off to their honeymoon in Costa Rica tomorrow. I'm so jealous but can't wait to see the pictures when they return!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In Remembrance

I saw this poem posted from another mother who lost their baby too soon and felt immediate affinity for the words and poem ...

There are women that become mothers without effort,
without thought, without patience or loss and though
they are good mothers and love their children, I know
that I will be better.

I will not be better because of genetics, or money or that
I have read more books but because I have struggled and
toiled for this child. I have longed and waited. I
have cried and prayed. I have endured and planned over
and over again.

Like most things in life, the people who truly have
appreciation are those who have struggled to attain
their dreams. I will notice EVERYTHING about my child.
I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and
discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the
rest of my life.

I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night
to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort,
hold and feed him and that I am not waking to take
another temperature, pop another pill, take another
shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be
crying for me.

I count myself blessed in this sense; that God has
given me this insight, this special vision with which
I will look upon my child that my friends will not

Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a
child that God leads me to, I will not be careless
with my love.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured.

I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter,
neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.

I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my
own body. I have been tried by fire and hell many
never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed. I have succeeded. I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from
their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see
it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen.

And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it
less lonely. I have learned the immense power of
another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that
moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and
when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion
that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes I will be a wonderful mother.

~Author Unknown

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Geek Gadgets

Since Ken has been travelling, I've been keeping myself busy with projects and planning ... and just a lil' bit of shopping.

During a quick stop into Restoration Hardware today, I found the BEST letter opener. Anyone who knows me knows how much I heart pens, pencils and all things stationery. Ken is sick of seeing all the endless piles of fabrics, embossed papers and writing devices but for me, it's the small things that excite! (I once had a two day love affair with a pen that also moonlighted as a highlighter! Ohh-la-la!!)

Let me show you why this letter opener is separate from the rest:

The letter opener is shaped like a encyclopedic book ...

The letter opener runs on 2 AA batteries and has two round blades ...

And here is the done deal. A clean, crisp cut that is enough to make you feel excited about opening up those bills!
Well, maybe not but it was enough for me to open all of Ken's bills!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meeting Expectations

Much of our weekend was spent in the car running from appointments to obligations. There was also the usual business of general errands that always seem to be earmarked for Saturdays and Sundays.

En route to somewhere we needed to make an appearance, we stopped into the NH liquor store to search for gluhwein (pronounced "glue-vine"). The wine god steered us right because this particular outlet had just received an entire shipment. Gluhwein is a popular German mulled spice red wine. Ken and I had started drinking it on Halloween one year. It was chilly out and we kept the door open to watch the little ones in their costumes collect their edible treats with our ghoulish symphony streaming through.

Surprised and elated to find it, we bought six bottles and heated two bottles Friday night. It is usually simmered on very low heat with orange slices and cinnamon sticks. Such as apple cider, pumpkins and Thanksgiving are reminders of the changing season, gluhwein has likewise turned into a heartwarming notion inciting nostalgia.

As promised, Ken picked up my new craft/sewing table and it was everything I could hope it would and should be. It is currently sitting idle in the living room but it will hopefully serve its created purpose very soon!

Oh, pumpkins! Oh, pumpkins!
How can I carve thee? Let me count the ways!
None of which did matter
Since our beloved pumpkins at our house they lay ...

Needless to say, we stopped back at home in our travels to pick up our forgotten cargo determined to carve them at my parents' house Saturday night.

Dilemma number two?

No carving tools OR stencils and patterns! After a quick stop at the local Target, we finally had our tools, patterns and pumpkins!

After much ado, below are the fruits of our labor with great assistance from our friend Gluhwein ....
Ken may have imbibed a bit too much for this to be completely safe ... you notice the crazy look in his eye?

I even have actual footage of this rare creature on video but I've spared the poor thing and haven't uploaded it.

This is before we actually started carving. You notice that we are all still smiling here.

The pumpkin I carved ...

... and the pumpkin Ken carved.

Which looks more difficult to carve?

Ken would like to think his princess head was tougher than the haunted house. The jury is still out on this one.

Emma was happy to see them both FINALLY lit up after asking "Are you done yet?" incessantly through the ENTIRE process.

Yes, she is the only one still smiling at the end.

For all intensive purposes, Halloween is officially over at The Hamiltons and I am looking forward to doing it all over again ...

... next year.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Halloween Weekend

As a result of our often mismatched weekends, we always plan holidays and events around it. Very often, it's like getting bonus days that we have dubbed Hamilton Holidays.

This entire weekend, we're celebrating Hamilton Halloween.

Last weekend, we snuck in apple picking and found two perfect jack-o-lantern wannabes between the miserable drizzles. We didn't have enough time to do much with either the apples or the pumpkins that day but we'll be gutting, scooping and carefully carving out our pumpkins with Emma this weekend.

I Googled "carved pumpkins" for inspiration. You can imagine the many hundred images that appeared ...

... and if you know this little girl at all, you can take a wild guess as to which one we'll most likely be carving. Oh, and the Princess one that Emma will want.

Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places and through unsuspecting actions.

I watch Ken working diligently at our breakfast bar and loading the dishwasher. Kitty is on my lap purring and I'm watching The Little Mermaid with Emma on the couch while she sniffs all the perfume samples in my O magazine.

Nondescript events without an ascribed purpose give me my moments of joy and sustain my well of inspiration. Events with a title are highly overrated.

In other news, I've rediscovered my love of treasure hunting and DIY projects. As we prepare ourselves for renovations in a new place, my little brain is furiously churning with more ideas than ink to jot them down. I'm carrying around a small journal in my purse for this reason because enlightenment can occur anywhere!

This weekend, my wonderful husband is picking up a craft table for me on the South shore. Thankfully, he humors all of my aspirations to become a famous crafter.
This is my first piece of furniture for my coveted craft room.

The other major piece will be custom built by Ken "The Tool Man" Hamilton. My boy is very handy with the hammer and nail so who am I to neglect his innate talent? Not I! I aim to encourage and cultivate ... and if that journey also involves something for me? Well, that would only be an unintentional but welcome side effect of my effortless educational coddling.