golden boy

today is your mini golden birthday.  you are 17 months today.  i remember the day i found out i was pregnant with you i had this overwhelming feeling of peace and fullness.  like everything finally made sense.  i knew you were going to be amazing, i just didn’t know how amazing you would be.  your uncle andy laughs at me and i am sure most people smile and nod when i tell them just how advanced you are.  but you are. 

today you grabbed a coffee cup off of poppa’s desk at work and walked over to tootsie’s coffee machine, put the cup under it, and pushed the button.  and then proceeded to lean there as if you were waiting for a cup of coffee.  every morning when we get to the store you wrestle out of the stroller straps and help me push the sign out front.  then you try to push the stroller to the back, point to the lights to tell me to turn them on, and motion to stella-so that i don’t forget her.  you spend a lot of time looking out for her.  if she fusses you bring her a pacifier.  if she appears lonely you bring her a toy, or 5.  you often bring her blankets and cover her up.  if she spits up you find the wipes and wipe her chin.  you spend a lot of time hugging her.  i pray that you will always care for her like this. 

if you spill something, you run and grab a towel to clean it.  you feed the cat.  you throw away garbage you find around the house.  you attempt to floss and clean your own ears.  you put on our shoes.  you bring me my purse when you want to go outside.  you rescue your own balls from under the bed with a hanger. 

you can handle stairs better than most adults, you scoot up and down them with an armful of balls.  you can throw a football in a perfect spiral across the room.  you dribble a basketball with your mouth open and tongue hanging out.  you kick, you run, you jump, you dance, you clap, you wiggle when hungry and squirm when annoyed.  you are 17 months old and you already have conquered life.  you walk with a confidence that is to be admired.  you run and fall as if indestructible.   your spirit is stronger than any i have ever seen.  you are a force.  you blow through the house, and people’s hearts with tenacity.  no one that meets you forgets you. 

one time your dad and you were in borders and someone stopped him and said, “I know that baby.” and your daddy goes, “what?!” and they said, ” i know that baby.  i’ve met that baby.  i like that baby.”  you make an impression on people.

sometimes i think i should reign you in.  i should get you to calm down.  or sit down.  or lay down.  but i don’t.  i feel like corralling you would be a sin.  you have to explore and live and discover.  free reign as your dad calls it, “lincoln always has free reign.”  i hope the next 17 years are as explosive as the first 17 months have been.

goodnight moon.

oh man.  today started rough.  stella up at 4:30 and unable to settle back down.  of course when she does lincoln wakes up.  and not a good wake up.  a screaming wake up.  matt grabs him and then it’s all four of us in the bed.  i never realized how small a queen-sized bed is until it holds a family of four (and a 20lb cat).  then it’s sardines in a can, everyone grumbling until finally matt and lincoln get up at 6.  then stella decides she’s up too.  i lay her next to me and hide my head under the blanket.  i had been having dreams of rollercoaster rides.  extreme ups and downs, controlled chaos.  doesn’t take me long to connect the dream to my current life. 

lincoln continued to cry and yell, something that would be carried on until he finally napped around 11.  somedays it seems like nothing will make him happy.  maybe he’s still tired.  maybe his teeth hurt.  maybe last night was rough and he still remembers it. 

nights are hard, bedtimes are hard.  when we get home stella wants to sleep but lincoln needs dinner, bath, and bedtime too.  the perfect scenario would be to put stella to sleep when we get home, that’s what she wants, it wouldn’t take much time.  a quick pj change, a little massage with the lavander oil, some nursing and rocking and into bed.  maybe 10 min tops.  lincoln doesn’t seem to understand this.  he stands in front of me the whole time screaming at the top of his lungs.  yelling at me, with tears running down his face and snot pouring from his nose.  why? because he wants to me be with him.  i am simply not doing what he wants me to.  my patience evaporates, my nerves start snapping one by one like guitar strings breaking.  i can almost feel the screams breaking into the recesses of my spirit, kicking it farther and farther down until i think i might just not make it.  this time i might break.  but i sit there, calmly nursing stella and attempting to not make eye contact with the snot covered teary eyed toddler writhing in front of me.  what can i do?  stella keeps looking up like, “this happens to be bothering my sleep time.”  i smile at her.  i remove lincoln from the room and shut the doors to keep him out.  the right thing to do? who knows.  at this point i could only attempt to move forward in the ‘nightly routine’.  suddenly she’s out, i breathe deep and head out to meet mr. lincoln.

he’s standing at the door screaming, banging his goodnight moon book on the glass panes.  i grab him and read some pages, he jumps up-still sniffling-and runs to the fridge.  again, perfect world i would tend to stella while lincoln played, then come out and make him dinner and start his bath and enjoy some one on one time.  but now he’s upset, dinner isn’t enjoyed and the bath is hurried.  neither he nor i are happy anymore.  let’s just get to bed, i can almost see him thinking it.  i give him a bottle, figure he deserves the comfort, and pat him on the back.  more sniffles.  he doesn’t really fight it.  we both feel defeated.  i leave the room but can’t leave the feeling.  the feeling of failure.  of stress.  of sadness.  of self doubt.  tomorrow.  tomorrow will be a better night.

happiest baby on the block, letters to stella

2/9/10

you should hear yourself laugh.  it’s not a laugh, it’s a guffaw.  it’s a cackle.  it’s infectious.  people stop in their tracks to look.  they smile.  your daddy smiles, he  looks so proud when he hears it.  i spend most of my day getting you to laugh.  anything to hear that noise.  your brother gets you to laugh easier and longer than anyone else.  usually you start laughing just when looking at him, if he gets close enough to touch then it’s all over.  peels of laughter. 

you rarely cry.  your face is always in a state of joy, your eyes bright, your lips ready at even given moment to break into a grin so big it seems like your face will break in two.

2/10/10

you haven’t been sleeping well.  up every couple hours.  part of me thinks you aren’t getting enough food, maybe we should start you on cereal.  but for some reason starting you on cereal scares me.  like it’s the beginning of the end of your babyhood.  once you begin eating from a spoon you begin the transition of growing up.  i want you to stay a baby.  you are so cute playing with your feet, your legs in the air.  grasping and mouthing toys.  giggling and rolling.  just stay that way.  i will miss snuggling with you at nights, laying you on my chest and feeling you relax and fall asleep.  when you wake you have the pacifier ring around your mouth.  it’s beyond adorable.  you have been the easiet baby, so happy and cheerful.  you are exactly what this family needed.

2/17/10

you say your mmm’s.  it’s so cute.  you sound like bob wiley at dinner.  “mmmm…..mmmmm”  you talk yourself to sleep.  i caved in and fed you cereal.  you don’t seem to like it.  though the other day you were in the jumper and lincoln was standing next to you eating a granola bar and i saw him breaking it into little pieces and giving it to you.  you were shoving it in your mouth and threw a fit when tootsie took it away, you slammed your arms down and yelled.  so i guess you like food, you just don’t like mush.  you’re smart. 

you love to blow spit bubbles and raspberries.  you act like you are going to crawl, raising up on your legs.  you pull yourself around the room to toys.   you love to hug and kiss.  tomorrow you will be 5 months.  i recently switched you to cloth diapers.  so far so good.

2/26/10

you started army crawling the other day.  i knew it wouldn’t be long til you were on the move.  you would lay there on your stomach and wiggle.  just itching to get moving.  lincoln would strategically place toys just out of your reach, i don’t think he knew that he was in the end helping you to move forward faster.  your aunti calls it the ‘caterpillar crawl’  your butt bobs up and down while you inch forward.  it seems so slow, but if i look away you are across the room in an instant.  i am very proud of you, for learning so fast and being so strong.  nothing seems to phase you, i wish i could learn that skill.  you inch forward, slow and steady.  as we grow older i think we forget how hard it was to move at first, we take our bodies for granted.  i can’t imagine the satisfaction and power you must feel by moving forward and finally grasping the toys you have been eyeing for months.  i wish we as adults would work that hard to achieve something, anything, in our lives.  very few adults would have the conviction to stick it out, inch by inch, sore knees and elbows.  congrats baby girl.

‘my-my’

“my-my.”  that’s how you say momma.  you don’t say much, but what you do say you say over and over and over.  ball for instance.  everything is “ba-hull.”  you say it all day long, point to anything round or circular and say “ba-hull”.  ball was technically your first word.  you said it clearly and used it accurately on your 11 month birthday.  it was fitting.  you say it sometimes when you aren’t talking about a ball, i think it’s your ‘go-to’ word, when your mind wants to say something, that’s what comes out.  right now, you are sitting behind me (supposed to be napping) pointing at the lights on the ceiling and calling them balls. 

you can actually say a lot, it’s just most of it isn’t very clear.  this is what i have ‘heard’ you say:

mama, more, kitty, balloon, hi, da, go, book, baby, bottle, ball, hot. 

somedays i hear you mutter, “oh man.”  another day you stood at the door of the store and said, “eh ma? I go.”  and pointed to the door.  you actually communicate quite well without using words, most of the time you chirp or twill like a bird and beckon to what you want.  you and i have a virtually wordless conversation multiple times a day.  at first it was very frusterating for us both, until i started to listen.  i learned, sorry it took me so long, to listen to you by watching you.  by responding to your facial expressions and antics. 

you were hungry, you danced and stomped and whined the whole time i made your mac and cheese.  i placed you in your highchair and you started the long journey of the spoon from bowl to your face. i sat down with mine, you immediately whined and fussed and pointed at me.  “what?! it’s the same thing, eat your food!”  then i saw.  it wasn’t my food you wanted, it was my spoon.  why would you want my spoon?  why? because you see mine working so much better than yours.  it can’t be your skill (or lack of) you think, it must be that i have a magical spoon.  so i give you my spoon.  my heart breaks, i knew how hungry you were.  it’s still a struggle, so i feed you.  you are happy and satisfied. 

maybe that’s the connection between mother and child.  i have spent sooooo many hours staring at your face, memorizing your every facial tic.  every corner of your smile, every glint of your eyes.  you don’t need words.  i know you, i know what you want.  i know who you are.  i will always be your captivated audience.

someday you will talk clear as day.  someday you might use words i don’t even understand.  i hope, i pray, that i will always listen your face.  i pray that i will always hear you as clear as i do now.

animal crackers on the couch

we have it down to an art.  it’s actually painless by now.  busy, but painless. 

our day starts early, that’s no surprise.  lincoln usually wakes up at 6ish.  some days 5, if he’s feeling especially cheeky 4am.  matt, bless his heart, gets up with him.  changes him and entertains him while he dresses for work (i can hear them, “daddy’s belt? thank you. daddy’s shoes? thank you”).  stella and i (yes she is in bed with us, usually coming in at 4ish) are summoned when he is ready to leave the house.  someone needs to hold lincoln back as it is lincoln’s one and only desire to go with his daddy (but can usually be swayed by blueberries or balls). 

i then pull myself from bed, usually feel like there is a bag over my head and oxygen is low.  i still get up 3-4 times a night and zombie-like doesn’t even begin to describe my motions.  i make a cup of coffee, i am limited to two because of breastfeeding and it is my favorite part of the morning.  i get lincoln’s breakfast started, we usually share a peanut butter english muffin  that we eat in front of the tv while we watch the today show.  am i setting bad examples? probably, but i also like to think that i am cultivating a love for news and current events, along with a passion for peanut butter.  after about 20 mintues of news and bread, and quite a few “no mommy’s coffee, hot! HOT!”  we continue on the day by  furiously dressing three people, two of them very wiggly people.  this whole scene is usually accopanied by lots of screaming.  i can’t remember the last time i have gotten ready without a baby screaming BLOODY MURDER at me.  remember this the next time you think i am having a bad hair day or need makeup tips. 

i make our lunches, attempt to check email quickly, and herd us all out the door.  i begin the trips to and from the car.  one trip with stella, one trip with lincoln, one trip with all our bags.  then another trip for all forgotten items.  maybe even another one if someone crapped their pants during the process. and it’s not even 8:15 in  morning.

we get to the warehouse anywhere from 8:20-8:40.  thank the Lord we don’t have to be punctual.  i begin working shipping for my parents company, kuuma products, while the kids play.  or scream, depending on the day and the moods.  when my brother in law andy moved to thailand to be the production manager i took over his position and work in the mornings at the office.  at about 10:30 we three head into alameda to open the store. 

once we get here i again play the trips from the car game until we are all safe in the store.  lincoln helps me pull the sign out front and turn on the lights.  we head upstairs to attempt naps and meals.  the rest of the day flies by.  customers, dr. suess books, balls being thrown, cheerios being smashed into the carpet, tantrums, laughs, hugs.  suddenly it’s 4:30 and we get ready to go home. 

again, the trips to and from the car (this is why i don’t like going anywhere) until we are all in the house.  at this point we all kind of breathe a sigh of relief.  we are home.  all is good.  if i am lucky i get a few minutes to email/facebook.  i usually attempt to clean even though lincoln is usually following behind me undoing whatever i have done.  i learn to step over toys.  then comes the mad scramble to make dinner and feed both before the meltdowns begin.  dinner, baths and giggles, one out of the tub and then the next, soft music and low lights, baby oil and powder, some cries, some screams, bottles and books, back and forth patting, more cries and more screams, soft pats and soft snores. escape quietly. 

the silence of the house is to be revered.  it may not last.  at any time it can come crashing down.  i attempt to do what they have undone.   clean up the spaghetti that was hurled on the wall.  find the Tupperware on the deck outside the cat door (along with toys, socks, my hairbrush, stella’s pacifier, and anything else he thought looked fun to throw out there).  dust the animal crackers off the couch.  wait for their daddy to come home so we can whisper about how great they are.

stella by starlight

on september 17, 2009 we celebrated lincoln’s first birthday.  news of a heat wave coming was on the news.  lincoln was tired that night, to tired to eat his cake.  we sat outside under the stars and dined on grilled chicken kabobs, salad, angel food cake.  we all talked and laughed for a long time.  I knew, in my heart I knew that stella was coming.  I went to bed knowing that it was almost over. 

I woke up once for lincoln around midnight and thought then, “guess I was wrong” for some reason I thought if it was going to happen at night it would have happened by then.  It was about 3:45 almost 4:00 in the morning.  I was having bad back pains, and a dream that someone was kicking me.   I woke up again and it was the same pain, and about twenty minutes later.  So at this point I thought, this is strange.  I didn’t fall back asleep, I got up and went to the bathroom and sure enough 20 min later more pains, this time wrapping around to the front.  I got up and went to start timing them, now they were coming about every ten minutes and getting a little stronger.  It was around 5:30.  I text Kirsten and told her to not go to work because I was having contractions but didn’t know if they were real or not yet (she would be Lincoln’s babysitter).  I went and told Matt that I was going to take a shower to see if they went away, I thought I remembered hearing that fake labor pains (which I had been having for WEEKS) would go away in the shower.  They didn’t go away.  So at that point Matt got up and started getting ready, I started getting things together.  The contractions were coming stronger and closer. We were told to go to the hospital when they were 8 min apart because of my history with fast labors, suddenly the contractions were 4-5 min apart so Matt and I started to get nervous.  

We dropped Lincoln off at my mom and dads, my mom came with us.  As Matt, mom, and I drove to the hospital I was concerned the whole way that they would send us home.  My water hadn’t broken and the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and strong, but bareable.  I couldn’t talk through them at all but they weren’t anything like the contractions with Lincoln.  We checked into triage at 7:17 am.  The contractions continued strong and 4 min apart.  We got the same nurse in triage that we had with Lincoln a year ago, she remembered us too.  It was funny.  She checked me then and I was at 5cm.  At my last drs appt I had been 100% effaced and closed.  She said that the baby was at a 0 station.  She went to call Dr. Gerdes to let her know that it would be a fast one again.  She came back  20 min later checked me again and I was at a 7cm.  She left immediately to tell Gerdes that it was gong to be a REALLY fast labor and to get here asap.  I asked at that point if I could get in the shower because the contractions were getting really strong and I hated going through it in that little triage room, it made me feel claustrophobic and trapped.  She got me right to a room  (oddly enough room 18.  Lincoln was born on the 17th in room 17 Stella on the 18th in room 18)  and started the IV.  I tried to talk her out of the IV because I HATE them but she said that they had to because of policy.  We both knew I wasn’t getting drugs, even if I wanted them it was way too late at this point.  She put in the iv but didn’t hook me up to the machine so that I didn’t have to drag the thing everywhere.  Then she wrapped the IV hand in plastic so I could get in the shower. 

I stayed in the shower forever.  The contractions were getting stronger and the shower was a miracle, I was able to get through them.  I just stood there hanging onto the rail and rocking back and forth and praying and breathing.  After a while they said I needed to get out to get checked again, but I got into the bed and they didn’t check me for some reason.  Then I labored in bed for awhile, Gerdes put up a bar over the bed and had the bed so that it was like a chair and I could grab the bar and rock back and forth that way.  That also helped a lot.  It hurt the worst when I was on my back, if I could get up off my back and rock then it was better.  They were getting really close, maybe every 2 min and very very strong.  They started to feel horrible like they did with Lincoln. They were really really bad.  I thought I was going to vomit or cry, or both.  Matt suggested that I get back in the shower so I did.  Then after a couple more contractions I started to feel like I needed to push so they got me out and checked me.  I was at an 8. 

This is when things started to get weird.  Gerdes and the nurse were confused because it was progressing so fast and now seemed to have stopped.  The nurse said that she was going to check me while I contracted, which was horrid.  Having a contraction alone is bad but having one while someone is feeling your cervix is worse.  She said that when I contracted my cervix slacked a bit, kind of opening more.  She and Gerdes said what was going on was that there was so much pressure on the cervix (from her head) that it was getting bruised and swollen and that it was actually starting to close back up.  They said that I was going to start pushing and that they would pull the edge of the cervix back over the baby’s head since I wasn’t fully dilated.  Those of you who have given birth know what that means.  There isn’t much room to work with as is, take away 2 cm and it’s a big deal.  Oh yeah, and she was 9 lbs.  I started to get nervous because pushing without being fully dilated sounded painful and pushing the cervix back over the babies head sounded even more painful.  I kept asking if they were sure and they kept saying “yes, we have to do this.”  My mom later explained that if this hadn’t worked there would be a lot of issues, the baby was too far down in the birth canal for a standard c-section.  So, I started pushing and it was horrid, just as I imagined.  It didn’t burn as bad as it did last time but it felt like it wasn’t going to work.  Everytime I pushed it felt like I wasn’t making any headway.  Finally she was out.  I felt the same relief I did with Lincoln and then they took her and cleaned her up.  They said she was 8 lbs 14 oz, so 2 ozs away from 9 lbs.  So  I  pushed a 9lb baby out of 8 cm, no drugs whatsoever.  It was hell. 

But I could tell something was wrong from Dr. Gerdes’s face.   She asked the nurse to come over and start massaging my stomach, which sucked because she was doing it really rough and it hurt.  Then I heard Gerdes say, “She won’t stop bleeding and I can’t keep the cervix from coming out”  I asked, “is the cervix supposed to come out?”  She goes, very straight faced, “no.”  At that point I kept feeling gushes of blood flowing from me and I could tell they were getting more and more concerned.  Suddenly they started talking really fast and hooking up all kinds of things to my IV, I heard Gerdes say “start her on Pit”.  It would feel like the bleeding stopped and then it would start gushing again, suddenly four or five other people came running into the room, they flatten the bed and started giving me shots and hooking up more stuff to the IV and everyone was really serious and talking fast to each other so I had a hard time understanding what was going on. 

Matt stood there holding Stella and looking panicked.  I just remember him pacing back and forth staring at me.  My mom kept asking what was going on.  Gerdes told them that I was losing way too much blood and they couldn’t stop the bleeding.  They kept massaging my stomach really hard and trying to keep the cervix in.   I just laid on the table and prayed that everything would be okay and that I wouldn’t lose or damage my cervix because then I knew then I wouldn’t be able to have any more kids.  It kept going, they would get me to stop and then it would start gushing again.  It seemed to go on forever.  Suddenly the other doctors left and everyone seemed calmed down.  I was dizzy from the pain meds that they gave me and was really shaky and I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering.  It sucked.  I made it through the whole delivery without any meds and then they had to flood me with them because of this so I still had some of the ‘side effects’ from them.  I kept thinking back to Lincoln and how I jumped up 20 min after birth and started eating taco bell.   

Kirsten and Andy and Lincoln came in.  Kirsten and Andy had kept him at my parents house and drove up when my mom called them and said Stella was born.  They all started to take pictures and clean Stella up, I nursed her awhile because they said that nursing would also help contract my uterus and that would help stop the bleeding.

 I had to have Pitocin for the next 12 hours to stop the bleeding and another med that started with an M that I can’t remember to stop the bleeding.  That med I took up until late Saturday and it  made my stomach cramp so bad, I was in a lot of pain most of the time I was in the hospital.  Gerdes ordered vicodin for me for the pain but I didn’t want to take it for fear of being way too sleepy to deal with Stella so I just took Tylenol.  I couldn’t take motrin because it would cause more bleeding.  The Tylenol didn’t really help and on Friday night I was in so much pain I couldn’t sleep.  Finally late Friday night I convinced them to take out the IV.  They took my blood and the tests came back good so the nurse stopped the pitocin, I still had to take the M medicine though.  Saturday I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a car.  They said that the bleeding had stopped to the point that I could take motrin, thank goodness.  The pain started to go away once I took the last M med.  I could barely walk and was sore all over.  It was all from what happened after the delivery.

Miracles happen, everyday.  But a baby is the truest form of a miracle out there.  Everything about the process is miraclous.  Stella was a special kind of miracle.  Her existence was hand choosen by God, and He made sure we knew it.  When Stella was finally born, after squeezing through 8 cm at 9 lbs, she still had (intact) her water sac.  She was, I believe the term is, ‘born in the caul’.  Being born in the caul isn’t odd for premature, smaller babies.  But it is nearly impossible for a larger baby.  Not to mention the tight quaters she came out through, it is unbelievable the the water sac never ripped at any point.  Babies that are born in the caul are said to hold special qualites, to be good luck charms, to be destined for greatness.

On september 18, 2009 at 9:57 am we became a family of four.  The adventure of two under two began, and it couldn’t have had a more dramatic start.

the best worst year

so, i decided to start writing down my day-to-day thoughts because i feel as if someday i will want to remember this time of my life and it will all be a blur, as most memories of great times are. 

in the past 16 months i have given birth twice, quit my job of four years, started a business with my mom, and survived my mother’s battle (and surviorship) of inflammatory breast cancer.  oh yeah, and moved twice in 6 months.  it’s been quite the exciting past two years.  someday i think i will look back and laugh in disbelief.  hence this journal, i don’t know if i will believe everything that has happened when i look back.

lincoln was born on september 17, 2008 after a wonderful, relaxing pregnancy and easy 4 hour birth.  he was a dream baby, cute as can be, a little high maintenance but we didn’t know any better because he was the only baby we knew.  he never quit moving.  not in the womb and not once he freed himself (he literally ‘broke’ his own water bag via kicks)  and he was hilarious to watch as he kicked the floors til his heels bruised and kipped in place and bounced and jumped and basically anything that was possible.  he was our missing piece. 

not long after his birth we found out my mom had breast cancer.  to be specific we found out that thanksgiving.  it was a bittersweet holiday season and by bittersweet i mean horrible.  there were lots of tears.  i learned the hard way that when you are told your parent might die you vomit.  i was set to go back to work in january and my mom was set to be lincoln’s nanny.  she didn’t want to give that up, or she still felt the need to take care of me-i’m still not sure which.  i was in a daze.  i don’t think i could really process life much at that point.  too many feelings.  too many thoughts.  life went on, just a different kind of life.  life as we knew it was over.  now there was a baby, and a battle.  and i had to learn how to live in a different way.  a way that included night time cuddling with lincoln.  and words like mastectomy, and chemo, and oncologists.  and we rallied.  my mom did what she did best, she held us all together.  she studied and though she doesn’t think she read books then, she read and read about cancer and how to beat it.  she lost her hair, but never her sense of humor.  she grew tired, but never stopped going.  she told me once, “cancer doesn’t have a heart.  it doesn’t have a soul, it can’t think.  it doesn’t want to kill me as much as i want to live.”   and live she did.   

and in january, in the midst of this all, i found out i was pregnant again.  a true shocker, but i felt very calm about it.  in fact, i went to bed one night and prayed for guidance for the future, i woke up the next day and felt the urge to take a pregnancy test (don’t know why) and discovered i was pregnant.  talk about a sign.  i suddenly knew what to do.  leave my job.  concentrate on family.    my mom and i set about starting a business, a fair trade store that would involve both of us working together with both babies.  a dream life. 

2009 went on to be the best worst year ever.  my mom had cancer.  but she lived.  i quit my job.  but started a business that i love.  i was tired, stressed, pregnant, worked too hard and too much.  but i ended the year with two beautiful babies.  i can’t say that 2009 was the worst year because it’s the year my mom lived.  it’s the year stella was born.  it’s the year that we held onto family and forgot things of this world.  in some ways it was the best year of my life.