Weekly Gratitude #8: Christmas with the Casales

I had two Rounds of Christmas this year.

I had my Christmas here in Maine which has been shown prominently on my Instragram. (Can you blame me?  I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I am going to Instagram that shit)

Then I had Christmas in New York with my New York family.

My New York family is not biologically related to me.  But these people were there with me during Bryon’s last hours on this planet. They were with me at the funeral home when I picked out Bryon’s casket, helped write his obituary and made sure that his funeral had an open bar with wristbands.

They have been there for me throughout the darkest of my days and have never asked for anything in return, nor have they thrown it in my face.

And I know these people love my daughter more than most people on this planet.

I feel really awkward calling them “these people.”  They are so much more than that, but I don’t feel comfortable using people’s real names in my blog.  Usually, I ask people for input on their blog nicknames, but it is almost midnight as I write this and I don’t want to wake them. Especially since I may have woken them up with this hysterical picture of my daughter putting her sweatshirt on backwards.

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It was a rough morning.  First day back at school after the holidays.  My daughter and I laughed for a solid 5 minutes when this was happening and I wanted to share it with her Godmother and eventually the whole internet.

There we go.  I will refer to one half of “Those people” as her Godmother and the other half as Mr. Uncle V.

I did use their surname in the blog title, but that was because I am a bit of a word nerd and I enjoy the aesthetics of alliteration.

I am grateful for the time we got to spend in NY with our NY family.

Yes, they have always treated us like family and their extended family has always welcomed us.

Yes, they have a beautiful house and they served lots of amazing food.

Downton Abbey has nothing on them, except Mr. Bates.  I may have a bit of a crush on Mr. Bates.  I would have been alright if Mr. Bates was walking around.

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I also got to observe how homemade pasta was made.  It blew my Irish-American mind.  And it was delicious too.

I enjoyed a delicious drink called Rum, Rum, Runaway and drank some good wine.

My daughter’s Godmother and Mr. Uncle V are such great people and they are always surrounded by great people.  This makes sense since like attracts like.  I know they are busy, but they still always find time for people, including my daughter and me.

They are literally two of the smartest people I know.

And some of the most fun people I know as demonstrated by late-night games of Family Feud.

Sometimes I struggle with the whole concept of putting the past behind me and moving into the future. Sometimes I have to “numb out” to the past or else I will never move forward and my mind will go on like it’s binge-watching all the seasons of  This is Us only it’s Bryon that’s dead and not Jack Pearson.

It gets complicated when it comes to certain relationships.  Some people have left my life willingly.  Some were toxic and I had to proactively cut out of my life.

But some people I want to stay though sometimes the forces of life just feel like I am supposed to choose between past and present.

And I am grateful that there are people in my life who want to stay with me for the wild and bumpy ride.  People who love me enough that they want to see me thrive.  People who loved Bryon and also knew how deep my love was for Bryon, but they also want to see me move forward.

It might be a shocker, but not everyone feels that way.

Like, life dealt me this shitty hand and I am not supposed to grow from the experience.

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Being around my friends and their family and friends (now my friends…I think…I hope…) made me realize that I don’t have to give up that piece of my life.  I have spent so much time getting reacquainted with my younger self and my present self, but I have to accept that those political years are just as much a part of me as the younger years.

I am grateful I got to spend the Holidays with them.  And I am also grateful for the clarity I got about my life from being around them.

Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #43

Today is Friday!  You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy! If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  Dinner with Kimmy Gibbler I see her less since she moved up to the North Country.  I miss seeing her as often but this means our time together is even more special.  Love you Gibbler.

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    Swifty’s- Colonie, NY
  2. Those who remember BryonWe had great neighbors when we lived in Albany.  We hung out.  We watched each other’s cats on vacation.

    Our townhouses shared an attached wall.  I am sure they heard Bryon and I when we argued.  When I shared the news I was pregnant, my neighbor said she thought she had heard me throwing up.

    We both moved to our current houses in the same month.  My daughter was born and life just took over.  I am sad to say I haven’t seen them in awhile.

    They were in New York City celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary.

    Happy Anniversary!!!!!

    They had shared their plans on social media.  On one of the days, they decided to visit the five oldest bars in NYC.  (Which sounds totally awesome to this history buff. Maybe my cousin H-Bomb will do it with me).

    I had commented that Bryon took me to McSorley’s (4th oldest bar).


    It was one of his favorite bars in New York City.
    My friends had shared that they shared a drink in Bryon’s memory at McSorley’s.

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    Facebook Photo Courtesy of Frances Esposito

    It still makes me happy when people remember him.  I can accept that he is gone but I don’t want him to be forgotten.  Especially since my daughter will only know him from stories.

  3. Getting three runs in this weekIt finally clicked in my brain that the only way I was going to be able to run another half-marathon was if I started running again.  Funny how that works.

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    Get it?  Christmas Humor…
  4. Encouragement and friendshipI appreciate everyone who commented their support and sent messages about my post last night where I felt like a failure as a mother.  It feels better to know I am not alone but at the same time, I am sad other mothers feel this way too.

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  5. My daughter’s Pre-K teacherI talked to my daughter Pre-K teacher and I am grateful I did.  She was very positive about the situation.  My daughter has had trouble being quiet during naptime.  Her teacher assured me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that my daughter isn’t doomed.  She just has a strong personality and she is in a phase where she is testing her limits.  Her teacher said it is very common at this age.

    She agreed with me that having a strong personality isn’t bad, we just need to funnel her energy differently.  I don’t want to take my daughter’s fun away but she needs to learn that she has to respect adults.

    Her teacher also told me it doesn’t matter how small my daughter is in her physical stature, she will be able to hold her own.  As someone who was bullied as a kid, I know it is a good thing that my daughter has no problem standing up for herself.

    I do feel better because I feel like we now have a plan in place that will hopefully correct her behavior before kindergarten.  I am grateful her teacher is positive.  She doesn’t view my daughter as a problem.  She seems the good in her.  I had some hyperactivity issues as a kid and from what I have been told, my teachers were negative about the situation.

What are you grateful for this week?

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Good Vibrations Gratitude Friday #37

It’s Friday! You know what that means. Time for some good vibrations gratitude.

This week I am starting something new.

I am inviting you join me on Good Vibration Gratitude Fridays!

Exciting, right?

You are probably wondering how you get in on the action.

It’s easy!  If you are grateful for something, please either comment below or share a pic of what you are grateful for on Instagram with the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Also feel free to follow me on Instragram at @kerrymckim

Here are 5 things I am grateful for this week.

  1.  A day at Liberty Ridge Farm

    Last Friday I attended my daughter’s Pre-K field trip to a local farm.  The weather was beautiful.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day or better company.

  2. Apple Picking at Hick’s Orchard

    My daughter and I spent a fun day with Kimmy Gibbler and her family at Hick’s Orchard where we picked apples and did a corn maze.  So much fall fun!

  3. Time with my bestie

    The night before we went apple picking (#2), my daughter and I slept over Kimmy’s house.  It was so much fun to spend time together.

    Kimmy even made a boujee cheese platter.  And she made one for the kids too.

  4. My Red Sox Baby

    As I write this, it is the bottom of the 8th inning and my beloved Red Sox are playing Houston.

    October 15th was Pregnancy and Infant loss day and I shared my story on Facebook about my Red Sox baby.  The night the Red Sox won the 2013 world series, I felt lucky (we just started trying) so I peed on a stick and it said I was pregnant.  Bryon and I were so excited about our Red Sox baby.

    That baby died shortly thereafter but it took a couple of weeks for my body to figure it out.  Bryon was so strong for me but one night he cried and said he was sad he wasn’t going to hold his baby.

    I became pregnant with my daughter very soon after that so I tried not to dwell on my Red Sox Baby.  Because I couldn’t imagine my life without her.  This was the hardest thing I went through before Bryon died but I can honestly say that now I am at peace because I know he has gotten to hold both of our children.

    I am grateful for that.

    And I am grateful for those who talk about it because even though 1 in 4 woman suffer a miscarriage, I never felt more alone.

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  5. Red Sox going to the World Series!!!!

    Good job boys!

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    What are you grateful for this week?

    Don’t forget to comment or share a pic on Instagram using the hashtag #goodvibrationsgratitude

Today is Kimmy Gibbler’s Birthday!!!

Today is my bestie’s birthday and in honor of her birthday, I am going to share 29 reasons why I love her.

(Though there are way more than 29 reasons but I do have to get some sleep.)

1. She didn’t get offended when I called her Kimmy Gibbler. It all started because I said I wanted to curl my hair like D.J. I think I called it widow hair. I then decided since D.J. is a widow and Kimmy is her BBF, that made my friend my Kimmy Gibbler. She didn’t get offended and she proudly took on her new role with grace.

2. She likes wine, cheese and coffee.

3. And bacon. Bacon deserves it’s own line.

4. She is always up for an adventurous lunch and is always willing to try new places.

5. She likes her steak still moo-ing and that is bad-ass.

6. She can whip up a dinner like no one else. And she taught me the proper way to roast a chicken.

7. She will talk to me about poop

8. You can talk to her about anything and nothing seems to shock her.

9. She will commiserate with you about the frustrations of motherhood.

10. She reminds me that I don’t need to be the perfect Pinterest mom. Being an Amazon Prime mom suffices.

11. She didn’t judge me when I read Jodie Sweetin’s memoir.

12. She appreciates fine wine but she also isn’t above drinking wine from a box.

13. She has taught me so much about patient advocacy.

14. I am an “ideas person” and without her action orientated personality, most of my ideas would just stay ideas. She helps me stay focused.

15. She has taught me that coconut oil cures everything.

16. She taught me that it is important to drink Apple cider vinegar tea when sick, even if it tastes like crap. You will feel better.

17. She understands all my dorky and obscure historical and political references and jokes.

18. She is the only person who will fangirl politicians with me. She doesn’t mock me about my crush on Marco Rubio. Or 1990’s George Stephanopoulos.

19. She drove an hour and a half with me just to get an Amato’s sub. It was worth it. Let’s do it again.

20. She let’s you be real. No bullsh*t here.

21. She understands my weird pop culture references and makes some funny ones herself. It’s like we speak our own language.

22. She is all about being authentic. We all can benefit by being more authentic.

23. She was the first person who told me that it was okay to have feelings.

24. She once called me the “Dalai “effing” Llama”. I appreciate that she recognizes intelligence. 😁

25. She recognizes the musical genius of Bryan Adams. Next time he tours the Northeast, we are so going. Even if it’s not SPAC.

26. She is the best road trip jamming partner.

27. She is loyal. Ride or die.

28. She loves my daughter.

29. She always listens to me and takes my feelings seriously and tries to help me find a solution.

Boston 2018: Kowloon, Salem and The House of Seven Gables

Last week my daughter and I took a whirlwind trip to the Boston area because my cousin, her husband and her friend were visiting.

If you are a friend of mine, please don’t be offended that I didn’t reach out.  I was literally in Massachusetts for 30 hours.  Well about 35 hours if you include my time on the Mass Pike…

I hate driving on the Mass Pike.

The main cast of characters (You met some here) in this story are:

My cousin: H-Bomb and her husband Tito
H-Bomb’s friend from Florida
H-Bombs friend in Massachusetts and her boyfriend, The Boat Captain
My daughter
and Yours Truly.

***I just want to note that I try to avoid using real names for people so I use nicknames.  Sometimes I will write and not have a nickname yet.  It does not mean that these people are not important.  Everyone is valued and loved.  It just means I haven’t thought is a wicked cool nickname yet***

My brother, Danimal the Party Animal also made an appearance.  He’s not really a party animal.  We just used to work at the grocery store back in Maine when I was in high school and he was in college and the produce guys named him that.

Because…Dannon Danimals.

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H-Bomb is a planner but I suggested we re-create this commercial.  My daughter can do everything that little boy does in the video.  Heck, she can probably do it better.  Because she is awesome.

I had a simple plan.

  1.  First, find a Bed and Breakfast that would let us shoot some picturesque shots.
  2. My daughter will run away from the water because the North Atlantic is effing freezing this time of year.
  3. Find an old man with a lobster boat. I will bring my daughter’s life jacket. It’s pink not orange but I think we can work with it.
  4. Find a town having a 4th of July concert in the town common. On a Thursday. In April.  My daughter can dance.
  5. Picnic baskets and marshmallows and a bonfire on the beach. Who cares about town permits?

Ultimately we decided against recreating the Spirit of Massachusetts video.  But we did decide that should we make one, it would include history, the Red Sox, a whole lot of Dunkin Donuts and Tito said that we needed to film one of us standing at an intersection in Boston looking completely dumbfounded.

Because Boston is not known for easy intersections.

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I had arrived in Peabody in the afternoon.  We just hung out and caught up.

Then we had dinner at Kowloon.

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I spent the first 15 years of my life in the Boston area and had never been to Kowloon.  I had always seen it whenever I drove on Route 1.  I know my Uncle (H-Bomb’s Dad) always checks in there on Facebook when he visits from Florida.  But I had never been.  Kowloon is north of the city and I grew up all the way out in Billerica.  Google maps tells me that they are about a half an hour away from each other and back then, that was the equivalent of being out of state.

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I was not disappointed.  It reminded me of the old school Boston Chinese restaurants I went to as a kid.  But better.

We toasted to friends, cousins and honorary cousins.  We all loved how my daughter joined with her fruit punch.

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We ordered several dishes to share including the quintessential Boston pu-pu platter

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We seem to have a knack for ordering almost just the right amount of food.  We all ate till we were stuffed and we didn’t have much left over.

We all drank our Mai Tai’s and read out fortunes.  Complete with saying “in bed” after the fortune.  Because I am dork like that and I won’t apologize for it.

The server kept bringing cookies so we kept reading them.

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We got our group selfie (groupie?) and then we went back to the house that belonged to H-Bombs Massachusetts friend and the Boat Captain.

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I read my daughter stories and put her down to bed.  And then us adults played games.  It was a blast.

Friday morning brought donuts from Kanes.  H-Bombs Massachusetts friend bought so many flavors that we cut them up so we could try more than one.  The Maple Bacon one was amazing.

We spent most of the day in Salem.

The kids played.  Well, Tito, the Boat Captian and my daughter played.

We took turns seeing a psychic and we had lunch at Brodies Seaport.

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We saw everyone’s favorite liquor store, Bunghole Liquors.

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H-Bombs Massachusetts friend asked me if I knew what a bunghole was and I was like “Yeah…Beavis and Butthead…duh…”

But apparently it actually has a more dignified meaning…

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I’ll be damned.

 

We also got a chance to see the House of Seven Gables which has been a dream of mine for about 20 years.  Last trip to Boston my 20 year dream of eating at the Top of the Pru came true.  All of 20-year-old Kerry’s dreams are coming true.

We showed up right as a tour was starting.

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You can think what you want about the time and date.  None of that was going on.  I just love patterns and thought that was cool.

We enjoyed the tour and the history lesson.  My daughter is only 3 but she was a trooper and very well behaved.  Between my trip to Philly the weekend before and being in Salem, I feel blessed for living so close to so much history.

I can’t wait to return to Boston.  I also can’t wait to see my cousin again which will be on my birthday trip.  I am planning something special for the big 4-0.

Happy second birthday in Heaven

Today was Bryon’s second birthday in Heaven.  You might have read my blog yesterday when I wrote about how it was one year since the funeral and you must be confused as to why I am writing about his birthday.  It’s true.  His funeral was a day before his birthday.  I had to experience a painful first the very next day after the funeral.  And the firsts just kept coming.  My birthday is in two days, my daughters is next month and our wedding anniversary is at the end of September. This corner of the year will probably always be the roughest five weeks of the year for me.

It seems so unreal that we are celebrating Bryon’s second birthday in Heaven.  At times, I am still stunned that this all happened. But I decided that last week that the anniversary of his death will be the sad day.  His birthday will be a happy day. So I decided to have a party for our friends to get together and share stories. Instead of dwelling on Bryon’s death, it was time to celebrate that he had lived.

Last year, the day after his funeral, a few of us had dinner at hibachi because that is what we had done for his last living birthday.  I was thinking of doing that again but I wanted to include more people and it would be hard to have a lot of people at a hibachi table.

I decided that I wanted to release balloons at the cemetery and then have funfetti cheesecake at my house.  I wanted to buy a whole cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory.  Bryon would have loved that.  He loved funfetti cake and cheesecake.  It would be perfect.  But my friend called the local Cheesecake Factory, they said they couldn’t sell whole funfetti cheesecakes.  But that’s okay.  I found a recipe online that worked well.

A few of my friends met at the cemetery.  One of our friends brought a pennant from Siena College to decorate the grave.  The same friend read the prayer of St. Francis which worked well because I did not prepare anything to be said.  St. Francis was Bryon’s favorite Saint so he would approve.

My daughter and I brought a bundle of balloons to release.  I was very impressed with my daughter.  She is not yet three but she understood that the balloons were going to be released and sent to Heaven for Bryon.  I was worried that she wasn’t going to understand the concept and that she would get upset but she let the balloons go and seemed happy that they were going to Heaven.  

After the cemetery, we went back to my house for pizza, funfetti cheesecake and stories.  There also may have been some Moxie tasting.  Kimmy Gibber did not like it.

This might be the start of a new tradition.  Maybe it won’t.  But for the time being, it is comforting to know that I have a group of friends who are like family who want to  remember Bryon’s life.  And I hold my Albany family close to my heart.

My one fun night in New York City

 

Bryon spent the last two and a half weeks of his life in New York City.  I had him moved from our regional medical center because he needed better care.  It was two of the most optimistic and the most scariest weeks of my life.   I was optimistic because he had a world class medical team caring for him.  I was scared because he was still very sick and I knew that even if he survived, the road to recovery was going to be complicated.

I don’t usually think about my time in New York.  I mean, it ended with Bryon dying.  

Yesterday I was reading about how one of my blogging friends spent her birthday in NYC.  She spent part of her day in Washington Heights, which was the part of NYC where Bryon’s hospital was located.  

It dawned on me that I can’t ignore New York City forever.  Someday I will  have to return.  I may want to take my daughter to see the Rockettes or take her to the Natural History Museum.  Or the Bronx Zoo.  Or maybe I would go with my Spanish teacher friend to find an Argentinian restaurant.  Or to see The Bangles with Kimmy Gibbler and my Latin Teacher friend the next time they go on tour.  It would be ridiculous to avoid a whole city for the rest of my life because of what happened.  I will probably just avoid Washington Heights.

So I was reading my blogging friends birthday post and then I was on Facebook.  I checked “On This Day” and sure enough, it was a post about the one fun thing I did during those two and a half weeks.

My daughter’s Godmother came down with her (now) fiance and got hotel rooms in the Times Square area.  She was telling me all about the city as we drove downtown.  I am a small town girl from Maine after all.  We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant.  It was my one fun night in New York City.

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Margarita
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Tacos
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Seinfeld restaurant
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View from the hotel room

Though there were other good things about being in the city.

I had a family to stay with.  They didn’t even know me but they knew Bryon.  They welcomed me into their home and they were so kind to me.  They stay ended up being short but had Bryon survived, he might have been in the city for months.  They never once gave me a time limit.  I know they were rooting for the slow recovery.  It would worth a trip to NYC to see them and have them meet my daughter.

Bryon’s friends in NYC got to see him.  That was great.

The team was much more optimistic and Bryon’s spirits were the best they had been through the whole ordeal.  In Albany, Bryon was too depressed to facetime with our daughter, but in NYC, he was happy facetiming her.

Bryon still had his sense of humor.  It took me a week to figure out that I could take the express train to get to the hospital faster.  He shook his head and rolled his eyes at me.

But right now, NYC remains the city where Bryon died.  Maybe someday I will return but it probably won’t be anytime soon.