Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas has arrived in Morningside Heights!

We've been pretty excited for Christmas as it turns out. In fact, we've had the majority of our decorations up for a month now. But! We've been waiting for our tree, of course, and so the Egberts went a' hunting for a tree this weekend.

Caught one! 

The boys carried the tree (which, incidentally, Gabriel has named Toby). 

Gabe and I strung up lights and hung baubles while Archie was working in the bedroom. At one point the two of us, punch-drunk with Christmassy cheer, barged into the bedroom seeking our most beloved commodity: attention. I was wrapped in a tablecloth with a soccer ball in my shirt and Gabe had a scarf wrapped around his head like a turban. 

"Hello! We are Mary and Joseph and we need a room 'cause we're going to have a baby!" I hollered at Archie. 

"Yes, we are!" Gabe chimed in. "And here's our horse!" Gabe pointed to the vacuum cleaner he dragged in after us. 

"Donkey," I whispered.

"Right, I mean donkey!" 

Archie told us to go sleep in the barn, and would we mind closing the door after us?

After our retreat, Gabriel wanted to be Mary so we switched costumes and tried again. 

"Hey! I'm Mary and I need a room!" Gabe yelled into the bedroom and, after being denied again, threw off the shawl and screeched, "I'm not Mary! I'm a monster!" And, hurling the ball to the ground, he yelled, "I'm throwing the baby away and I'll wrestle you!!"

So....we haven't quite gotten the Nativity story down.  

But, I mean, check out that tree! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Results are in...

So, as it turns out, my husband really loves me.

There are a lot of ways, if The Bachelor has taught me anything, to gauge your partner's devotion. Acts of kindness, declarations of love, and that one magical kiss are all good ardor indicators. But none of these can compare to the ultimate test of love.

The puke test.

Honestly, who could argue that the strength of a relationship is manifest by how each partner reacts while the other is vomiting?

(Time in relationship - grossness of sickness episode) / speed of partner's exit from room = strength of love

It's simple math.

And apparently, Archie really, really loves me.

I was recently down with a stomach bug and the man was a dream come true. He covered me with blankets, rubbed my back, brought me chicken soup, saltines and Gatorade, and even squeezed toothpaste onto my toothbrush when I needed it. And I needed it. A lot.

Basically, he was everything an attentive mother would be in a super-sexy package. I loved it.

He did, in true Archie fashion, tease me a little.

A: "I typed your symptoms into webmd and, guess what."
Me: "What?"
A: "You probably have AIDS."

He's a good one and I'm pretty damn lucky to have him.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


When Gabriel turned 4 back in March, I purchased an Elmo pan for his cake. The cake turned out beautifully and he was, needless to say, beyond thrilled. 

 As Archie's and my birthdays were approaching (Archie's birthday is the day after mine which, turns out, is really awesome because we get to stretch out the celebrations indefinitely. In fact, Archie woke up on August 1st, nudged me, and said, "Hey, happy birthday month!" Good grief, he knows me well.) Gabe requested that our birthday cake also be an Elmo cake and, since I was determined to get my money's worth out of that pan, I agreed.

However, in the weeks leading up to Birthday Weekend 2012, Archie started talking about bears a lot. Like a lot. And come to find out, my husband really likes bears. I mean, I vaguely remember him mentioning long ago that he liked bears but, I guess I did not fully comprehend the magnitude of his affection for bears.

He really likes bears.

So Gabe and I hatched a plan that we would make a bear cake....using the Elmo pan. I told Gabe it would be like Elmo wearing a bear costume. And that is pretty much exactly how it looked.

I'm thinking the next several celebrations in our family will have cakes with a vague resemblance to Elmo. Elmo wearing a cat costume, Elmo wearing an alien costume, Elmo wearing a Santa costume, you get the idea. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

To become a mother

When I got engaged, there were two men on the other side of the ring box. Two men asking for my hand. Two men asking me to join their life.

When I accepted that ring, I accepted both of them. One as my husband and the other as my son. 

It took me a while before I was comfortable calling Gabriel my son. I spent several months calling him "my kid" or "my little boy" until one day I was recounting something adorable he'd done to a coworker and the words "my son" spilled out. And, goodness, it felt really good.  

I hadn't wanted to take what wasn't mine and somehow calling a child I hadn't birthed "son" seemed doing just that. It's funny, having a biological child automatically gives you ownership over the words "son" or "daughter" forevermore. But for those of us who parent others' children, we really have to earn it. I could easily use the safer word "stepson," a word I automatically own by virtue of my marriage, but it's never been my intention to treat Gabriel like a stepson. In this family, he is a son. No prefix necessary.

I read a lot of books and articles about blended families and stepparenting before I moved out to New York. I had plenty of plans and theories and expectations when I arrived. Now that I've been here for a while, I have no plans or theories or expectations. I'm just white-knuckling this thing nowadays. And it's tough sometimes. But, oh, it is so magically, beautifully good.

This precious babe I get to snuggle, cuddle, kiss, cry over, lose my patience with, teach, read to, learn from, feed, clothe, bathe, tickle, put in time out, giggle with, wrestle with, love. This little boy I get to love.

I fall in love with this kiddo seventeen times a day and my heart breaks seventeen more times. Once we drove down to Maryland to visit my family and Gabriel had a blast and a half trailing after my four younger brothers doing all the things little boys love to do. As the boys were running together off to another grand adventure, my sweet son stumbled and fell. He picked himself up and paused, wanting to keep running with the big boys but also wanting ever so much to be comforted and fussed over. He stood on the precipice between babyhood and boyhood while I, watching from the porch, teetered between overprotective mommyhood and cool momhood. Oh, my heart broke three times watching him and wanting so much to rush over and bathe him in kisses and promise that nothing in the world would ever harm my baby ever again. I couldn't help myself and scooped him into my arms for a quick hug before he ran off once again, shooting a grin at me over his shoulder. And I fell in love with him all over again. How a mom's heart can break and heal so many times a day I'll never understand.

I doubt myself over and over, of course. Am I patient enough? Do I give enough cuddles? Do I tell him enough that I love him? Should I do more? Should I do less? Am I a good enough mom? Am I?

And, you know, some days the answer is no. But a lot of days the answer is yes. I'm still learning how to be a mom and this kid is teaching me how to do it. I stumble sometimes, but we get through it on kisses and hugs and try-agains.

My mom told me recently, "If ever someone was meant to be a mother, it was you." I know I was meant to love this boy. It took me a few years to find him, but for the rest of my life I'll be loving him.

My little boy.

My kid.

My son.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Updates on the coolest kid on the block (with help from my cell phone).

I was tidying up Gabriel's bed tonight and I discovered twenty-two books in and around his bed. My heavens, I love this kid. I love the way he sleeps. 

He is fascinated by the Sudoku puzzles in the paper so one day on the train I explained to him the concept and method of completing the puzzle. He then, very carefully, took a pen and methodically wrote a small "1" in each empty box. Seriously, the child is brilliant.

He and I like to shop together though Archie says we're dangerous without proper supervision. Last time we went to Target, we came home with $150 worth of cleaning supplies and breakfast cereal.

Gabriel and I cook together a lot. I do most of the cooking and he holds the oven mitts.

My parents got Gabe a pop-up tent for Christmas. He would live in it if he could. One day we slid his mattress inside. That became his "hide-out" where he would take breaks from jumping on the couch and running around the apartment wearing his personalized superhero cape my sister sent him. He was one happy kid.

Mostly he keeps us giggling and absolutely convinced he is the number one coolest kid in the world.

Friday, March 30, 2012

This I will remember.

Every once in a while something happens in my very ordinary little life that is so lovely, so magically perfect that I think, "This. Right here. This moment is significant. This is something I need to remember."

Gazing into my husband's eyes in the post-op recovery room just after his surgery was one of those moments. 

We knew Archie was sick. The nagging pain. The exhaustion. We knew something was wrong, so when we got the cancer diagnosis we were ready to hear it. Archie bore the news like a champion and I didn't do too poorly either. I had only two emotional breakdowns and, given my penchant for dramatics, that is pretty impressive. 

But sitting in the waiting room as the doctors sliced open my husband-of-two-days to remove the tumor, I was on the brink of a third. An hour in, the surgeon came out to let me know the extraction had gone well, they were almost done, and I would be called back to see Archie in just a few minutes. An hour of minutes ticked slowly by, and then another with no word. The nurse was exceptionally patient but I could tell she was growing weary of me timidly approaching her desk every twenty minutes and whispering unsteadily, "I'm sorry, could you check one more time if he's okay?" Bless her heart, she called back every single time I asked though the answer was always the same: no news. 

I sat on the grey chair in the corner of the waiting room slowly twisting my wedding ring around and around as an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond played quietly overhead and panic grew thick in my throat. The waiting was torturous; I spent it alternately staring blankly at the wall and praying silently, "Please, God. Please. Let him be okay."  

When Archie and I were finally reunited, I'm not sure which of us was more high. He was doped up on painkillers and I was tripping on relief. Nurses bumbled around, fussing over him, but neither of us could look away. 

"I asked for you," he told me. "I kept asking where my wife was."

"I know. I'm right here," I said, kissing his forehead. 

We stared at each other for an hour, unable to say anything except "I love you" back and forth a hundred times. I squeezed his hand and he smiled at me, both of us drunk with happiness at being together and in love. That's the moment I'll always remember: looking at my husband in a hospital bed, loving him more than ever before and knowing that he is my whole world.  

The treatment for cancer is long and scary. I'm sure there will be plenty of waiting rooms and hospital beds and blinking back tears in the months ahead. But, somehow, it's okay. I have a lovely moment of peace remembering he and I are in this thing together and, well, that feels pretty good. 

And in the quiet moments of the night, as I listen to Archie's quiet, steady breathing, I gently stroke the soft part of his arm, right inside his elbow, and say a silent prayer of thanksgiving. Thankful that I have him. Thankful that we have this beautiful life together with more love than either of us expected. Thankful that we have an amazing journey ahead of us. And, most of all, thankful we get to experience every second of it side-by-side, hand-in-hand.

And I smile into the darkness and remember that moment always. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I'm officially a ball and chain now.

We got married. It was lovely.

If I were someone who gushed, I would tell you how fantastically perfect the day was. I would tell you how I giggled madly in the days leading up to The Day and would spontaneously fling my arms around Archie's neck and squeal, "We're getting married this week!" I would tell you how Archie walked into the living room the morning before we got married and saw me petting the dog* and bawling. "What's wrong?" he asked, and I sobbed, "I just love you so much and I'm so excited to get married to you!!" I would tell you about my dress and how I spun in circles and giggled when I tried it on. I would tell you about the pink tea roses in my bouquet and how perfectly they matched the shrug I wore over my dress. I would tell you about my rings: the Tiffany solitare that Archie gave me and the platinum and diamond wedding band that was my great-grandmother's.

I would tell you how handsome Archie looked and how, looking into his eyes as we were declared man and wife, I could've sworn my feet lifted off the ground for a split second.

I would tell you all this and more if, you know, I were someone who gushed. Which I'm not.

*Did I tell you we got a dog? Well, we got a dog. It's cool.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A decent excuse for atrocious lack of blogging?

For he shall not much remember the days of his life; 
because God answereth him in the joy of his heart. 
-Ecclesiastes 5:20