Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Month of May in Photos

There are no recent photos of Liam here so I thought I'd fill you in, seeing as how he turns one year old in only six days. Mind-boggling.

This kid loves bananas. Eating AND wearing them.

He loves to try to touch the camera, even with banana hands.

This was our first trip to the playground. He gets really excited to wear his hat and sunglasses. I think it's because he knows how cute he looks, or that he's wearing something like Mama and Daddy do.


Only his dad can make him laugh like that.

This is only our second family photo EVER, and Gabe's face isn't even complete. At least Liam looks adorable (as always)!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Your questions answered.

Thanks to those of you who responded to my request! I have had a long day. It's almost ten and we're still trying to get Liam to sleep. Bear with me as I zombie myself through this post.

AndreAnna asked: "Is your life now how you planned it?"
No. No, it is not. I love my life but it is not entirely what I expected. I wanted to have been published by now (and not just the Publish Post button at the bottom of my blog window). I wanted to be financially stable by now. I wanted to love my body by now! But it's ok... I am where I want to live, with the man and boy who love me the most, and we're on our way. I never really had a plan. I had dreams and visions, and some things are just different.

Bridget asked: "Is nora your real name? he he ho ho" and "What's your favorite color?"
You stinker! :) No, Nora is not my real name, although I wouldn't mind it if it was. I don't use my real name on here, or the real names of my family and friends, for privacy, so that I can say things and post photos and still not be pinpointed by internet crazies. My favorite color is green. Most of the clothes I own are green. I also would like to give a thumbs-up to the colors red and brown.

Pauline asked: "So how many children do you and your hubby want? Liam can't be the only one right? When do you think that you'll be trying again. Come on girl, you need to increase the population in Maine, they need cuter kids like yours. :o) "
When we were first together, Gabe and I talked about having four or five children. No, I am not joking. We both come from big families and it just seemed natural to us. As time passed and reality set it we pared it down to three children. When I was pregnant I told him Liam would be an only child and I was only half-joking. Maybe we'll have three someday but right now the general consensus is *probably* two children. At this point we do not want to make a decision about it until Liam is two or three years old, and if we do decide on another, we'd like for him to be four to six years old when his little brother or sister is born. Like everything else, this might change too, but right now we are NOT READY for another baby! We are having fun with Liam right now and want it to stay that way.

Jenny asked: "Hmm..How did you and your hubby meet? I don't think you've mentioned that before. Forgive me if you have."
Gabe and I met online, on the old message board for the band Thursday, just after Christmas in 2002. We met in person on Valentine's Day in 2003. We weren't trying to be romantic and make it Valentine's Day but it's a neat anniversary to have. He will never forget the date! :)

Caley asked: "Did you have any other top choices when deciding on Liam's name, or did you know he'd be a Liam right from the beginning? What's your all-time favorite movie? And... I know you are into crafts/art. What kind of things do you like to create?"
Well, when I was 14 I read a book called Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde, which was a teen vampire novel. I was really into vampire stories and movies then, and I was IN LOVE with that book, and with the lead character/vampire, Ethan Bryne. Ever since I was 14 I wanted my first son's name to be Ethan, and Gabe was ok with that. The summer before I got pregnant, my cousin and his wife had a son named Ethan and I didn't want two children in the same generation of the same family to have the same name. So after ten years I had to come up with something else. The name Liam just popped into my head, and I mentioned it to Gabe. Unlike EVERY OTHER NAME I HAVE EVER MENTIONED IN HISTORY (except for Ethan) he was surprisingly warm to it. After I got pregnant we were discussing names and were having a hard time with boy names. Gabe said to me, "How about Liam?" and I suddenly remembered how much I liked the name. And that was it. It was the only name we could agree on. We almost got divorced over his middle name though. Ha! Not really.

The two movies that are constants in my life and heart are Labyrinth and Amelie, both of which I have loved the moment I saw them, at the ages of five and twenty, respectively. I walked down the aisle at our wedding to music from Amelie and David Bowie's "As the World Falls Down" from Labyrinth was *almost* our first dance song.

As far as art and crafts, I really love collaging and decoupaging. I make really lovely decoupaged and collaged tree ornaments. I have devoted "customers"/friends to those. I also love designing cards and other stationery. I have a major post card project coming up that I hope to finish this summer, once my art rooms are all set up. I am SO EXCITED about it! I also hope to show some collage work at my sister's gallery sometime. And at random I love hand sewing and embroidering- I love felt and buttons and embroidery floss and beads and all kinds of fabric. I don't do nearly enough of it. By winter I want to re-teach myself how to knit and use my sewing machine.

xoxo Thanks ladies! <3

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Bridget has tagged me! Bridget is a fellow mommy from my birth club message board. We both have sons born in June of 2007. Hers is the adorable James, who would totally be buddies with Liam if we knew them in person and not just online! :) Bridget is really funny, I love reading her blog, and she posts great photos of her family and surroundings.

Here's the thing: in the past month I've written three entries to you guys with random things about myself, totaling 61+ things that you may or may not have found interesting. (Though I will say, AndreAnna, I am glad I am not the only one who thinks of "Baby Got Back" when I hear the word anaconda!) And honestly I am not sure I can come up with anything else by myself!

This is what I'll do instead: all of my readers are welcome to post a question for me in the comments section of this entry. You are welcome to ask me something whether I know you read my blog or not. In my next entry (or so) I will answer the questions you guys ask. This way, I will know in advance whether or not I am telling you guys something at least ONE of you will be interested in.

Please, ask away! Have fun. I hope I get at least get seven questions so I can follow at least one of the rules of being tagged.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

part two

After I copied this half from my word document, the numbers on my list readjusted when I pasted it into this Blogger window. I am not up to fixing it because I am about to go to bed. 27 + 23 = 50.

Thanks for reading! Here's part two:

1. I have a really loud, embarrassing laugh.

2. The physical traits of my feet were inherited from my grandmothers: bunions from my mom’s mom, longer than necessary length from my dad’s mom. Thanks, girls.

3. My three siblings have brown eyes but mine are green.

4. Ever since I had mono when I was seventeen, I have not felt fully healthy again. Going on ten years…

5. It annoys me to watch singers like Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera sing when they wave and wiggle their hands and fingers.

6. Mariah Carey annoys me, period. But I loved her when I was in third grade, back when she only wore blue jeans over a black leotard.

7. When I was little, one of my “When I grow up…” dreams was to be a school bus driver. Also: singer (I practiced to MC and Janet Jackson), actress, synchronized swimmer, teacher, figure skater and architect.

8. Now, my “If I’d stayed in college…” dreams are teacher (art or English), editor, journalist, photographer, marine biologist, environmental scientist and graphic designer.

9. I still entertain secret fantasies of acting and singing, even though I don’t look like an actress or singer. (These days I don’t think talent are entirely pertinent to these fields. Agree/disagree?)

10. When I was ten my older brother Scott and I would practice for our Olympic dreams by skating on the frozen lake we lived next to. We never executed a successful lift because my sides are too ticklish.

11. For this reason we also never executed a successful lift in that same lake in the summer, like Baby and Johnny practicing the lift in the water in Dirty Dancing.

12. When the four of us were little one of our favorite games was something we made up called “The Cook Show.” We had a huge cardboard box that was our TV set, and Karsten and Scott would sit behind it pretending to be hosts of a cooking show. Isaac was a monster who’d attack the set. I was the TV viewer.

13. Sometimes I want for Liam to be an only child but then I think about things like The Cook Show (and others like Trip, School, Sinking Ship, Shark Attack, etc) and wonder if having just one child is enough for him.

14. I still haven’t unpacked everything. What is wrong with me?

15. I can’t listen to the word anaconda without automatically thinking, “My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon. You can do side bends or sit-ups but please don’t lose that butt.”

16. My favorite foods that contain the least actual food content are zebra cakes, Cheetos, popsicles and Swedish fish.

17. I have TMJ and was told in high school by my orthodontist that my decision to chew gum is equivalent to someone running with a sprained ankle. Until I stopped working I chewed gum daily. I can’t help it.

18. I don’t know why that orthodontist didn’t recommend I get braces but I wish he had.

19. Having TMJ confused my facial muscles and my mouth no longer sits symmetrically on my face. The muscles pull up on the left side of my lips.

20. My nose isn’t symmetrical either but that was just luck, and it goes in the opposite direction from my mouth.

21. I am back to my pre-baby weight but not my pre-baby shape. I have some work to do this summer.

22. I think Bam Margera is a total douchebag.

23. I am really defensive of Stephen King when people suggest he is mentally unstable because of what he writes. It’s homestate hero pride, I guess. And I envy his writing skills and his ability to face his own fears while he is writing. (And yes, working in a used book store for three and a half years, I have heard that about Stephen King several times.)

BONUS! Because this is my fifty-first post, number 51...

***Pauline, read no further!!!***

I saw and heard a ghost in my hospital room after I had Liam but I wasn't scared. I didn't tell Gabe until months later because I have this habit of freaking him out with my Real True Personal Encounters and he was there but unaware when it happened.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The one where I talk about myself too much...

For my 50th post I’m writing to you 50 things about myself, but in two parts because I am not sure what some of you think of me yet and I don't want to overwhelm you with my awesomeness. Just kidding.

Tara did a 101 Things list for her 101st post; I think I’d rather tackle 50! I love reading these lists when other
people do them, but I know I am kinda weird, so I hope this doesn’t make anyone’s eyes cross involuntarily. Or even voluntarily.

Also, in a departure from my 10 Things list, when I wrote entire paragraphs and snuck random tidbits in as a train-of-thought process, adding up to more than 10 Things, I’ll try to keep this short and sweet.

1. I was born in Massachusetts and lived there until I was almost six years old.

2. Growing up I identified myself more as a Massachusettsonian rather than a Mainer.

3. Living in Texas and missing home encouraged me to embrace my Maine-ness.

4. I am afraid of the dark because of my big sister Karsten and the stories she told me when I was little

5. When I was four or five she convinced me that the ghost of a cowboy lived in the sewer in our town and after that my parents had to hold me over the toilet when I had to go.

6. The house I lived in during high school and the two years following my graduation is haunted. My parents still live there.

7. There is still some “activity” but usually only when I am around. Thanks, ghosts.

8. You can’t convince me that there are no such things as ghosts. THEY’VE BEEN IN MY BEDROOM WITH ME.

9. Ok, so I am also afraid of the dark because of my experiences at my parents’ house. Not just because of Karsten.

10. I still have a doll that I got for my 5th birthday. Her name is Kathy.

11. People are afraid of her. They say she’s staring at them. Dudes, she’s not!

12. I used to be able to sing along accurately with the entire self-titled 311 album. If you’re not familiar with it, I’ll have you know that a lot of the lyrics are rapped. If you are familiar with me, you’ll know this is hilarious; the thought of me rapping.

13. Gabe almost drove off the side of I-95 once when we were listening to one of my old 311 tapes. I started singing “Hive” and he couldn’t stop laughing. Don’t worry, I wasn’t serious, like I think I’m a rapper.

14. 311 is the reason my little brother Isaac and I started getting along better after we bickered and fought through most of our childhood. I love this kid.

15. I was once convinced that someday, Nick Hexum from 311 would find me and fall in love with me and we’d live happily ever after.

16. I was also open to this happening with Todd Lewis from the Toadies, Ben Affleck, and Josh Hartnett.

17. I haven’t eaten meat since I was 19.

18. I cried when I was cooking Gabe’s part of our anniversary dinner because there was a chunk of bone in the boneless chicken, which meant I had to handle it way more than I was comfortable with.

19. I’ve had acne of varying severity from mild to Hide Under a Rock since I was eleven. That’s more than half my life now. Haven’t I paid my dues?

20. My skin has been a huge reason for my general lack of self esteem.

21. I have only one ovary. I had both of them until I was twenty-two years old but one of them was removed with the dermoid cyst growing there.

22. Recovery from that cystectomy was the most pain I have ever been in. And I’ve given birth and had the highest degree of tearing that is on the tearing scale.

23. The cyst was found to have fat, hair, skin and bone tissue in it. I think that is both fascinating and incredibly gross/creepy.

24. The cyst was found because I was an egg donor and had to have ultrasounds of my ovaries to check on my little eggies.

25. I want to be an egg donor again but I may not be able to because of my lack of dual-power ovaries.

26. Also because of that, I thought it would take me a while to get pregnant. It didn’t. I got pregnant the first time it was possible.

27. I dreamed about Liam during the first year of mine and Gabe’s relationship; he was conceived and born during our fourth year together.

Numbers 28-50 will follow sometime this week... I know you care!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

The drive always seems so much shorter the way home.

I can't get over how green and warm it is here. Spring always sneaks up on me; one morning I am greeting bare branches out our window, the next it's buds, then the sun comes up again and we are saying good morning to the canopy of leaves.

(In case you are wondering, yes, Liam and I wake up in the morning, open the blinds and say good morning to what we see outside. Trees are always first. Liam really likes doing this.)

I am in love with my Twin Cities right now. They are in this perfect state of green and flowery bursts, welcomed-back birds, fluffy clouds and ideal temperatures. Lawns are magnificent because it's early in the season and no one is tired of landscaping yet. Swollen with nourishment from the melted and forgotten snow, the blades of grass are everything. They are glowing.

Sure, I'd love to live closer to the Atlantic. I have those salty waters in my blood. Sure, I'd love the quiet bustle of Portland. I have those streets mapped in my heart.

But these little city streets are the city streets of my childhood and teen years. I learned how to drive on these streets. I found my first tastes of freedom on them. Laurel and I drove these streets on sticky summertime nights with self-defining music playing, our hair floating in the wind from the open windows. The people on our mix tapes were singing to us and telling us where to go. We squeezed each other's hands across the center console and drove to cemeteries and gas stations and empty parking lots.

I'm from here. I didn't necessarily want to come back here to live because it felt like I'd be moving backwards. I'd already jumped forward to new cities and new jobs and a marriage and a baby. I felt like I'd be having to start over. Retracing steps, watching repeats.

I'm here though. And I'm not- I'm not starting over. I'm just starting again. It's ok that I am here. The ghosts of Laurel and I still linger, the music echoing tinnily like an old movie. But there's new traffic lights and the grass is green and there's my new life.

This is Liam's beginning and it's not in Portland; it's where I had my beginning.

And I know he'll someday appreciate that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Holy caps lock.

I am having SUCH A HARD TIME writing my book because I AM GETTING WAY TOO INTO IT and I think I may be CHANGING THE WHOLE THING AROUND and now it's NOT EVEN THE SAME STORY and I THINK ABOUT IT SO MUCH that when I sit down to write, I just want to WRITE WHAT I SEE IN MY HEAD instead of WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE STORY.


Except keep trying.

Have any of you written a book, or tried? What are your methods? How do you do it without pulling out your hair and YELLING IN YOUR BLOG IN ALL CAPS?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

another song

It's matt pond PA again. I hope you love them as much as I do. You should hear the cello in this song, soaring and swooping.

"The Summer is Coming"
from The Nature of Maps, 2002

The summer is coming
We should all stand clear
Of the heat and high water
You don't see - but you hear
The porch light gives off
Small lit circles
How - you could see nothing

Wake up in water
You know where you've been
You can turn the lights off
When the day begins
All the warm refusals
And the blind assumptions
How this could be something

Cutting corners
With their faces
You know better
Than to say it
All we are is friends
You know that all we are is friends
Good luck - yeah, all we are is friends
I'll be happy right here to say that you win

The summer is on us
The handle is hers
Far out past the fences
No more kind words
For the seasons swimmer
Old beginners
No - this is not something

Find mpPA online at their website or visit and listen to them on their MySpace.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Nora: I had a dream about John Krasinski and Ellen Page this morning.
Gabe: (knows I have a wicked crush on John Krasinski; smirks) Oh, yeah?
Nora: Yeah.
Gabe: Who's Ellen Page, again?
Nora: Juno.
Gabe: Oh, ok. (thinks the conversation is over)
Nora: (pause) Yeah, John Krasinski totally likes me better.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Second Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day, and Liam is taking a nap.

I had a lovely morning of sleeping in without even having to wake up before Gabe and Liam got out of bed. When I woke up, they had a card for me that they'd written in together. Liam has really good penmanship for an eleven-month-old. *nudge nudge* Gabe made me French toast and soy sausage for breakfast, and then I got to come curl up on the couch when I was done.

I love Mother's Day.

Last year on Mother's Day I was pretty pregnant- probably around 34 or 35 weeks. I consider that my first Mother's Day. You become a mother when you get pregnant. That's when your love and responsibility kick in.

Sure, this is my first one with my baby who can look at me with his bright eyes and sit in his high chair at the table with us and share breakfast and "write" in my card, but last year he was nestled quietly in my womb, swishing and sleeping and hiccuping and rolling and kicking. He was safe. I could rest my hand on that swollen belly of mine and sigh and dream.

At that point I was the perfect mother because I hadn't yet wept while breastfeeding, or trying to breastfeed. I hadn't held him clumsily while trying to get used to his tiny body and how it squirmed. I hadn't second-guessed myself and my maternal skills before calling the pediatrician about a rash, a fever, vomiting, or an eye infection. I hadn't wanted so badly for him to stop screaming at me that I wanted to scream myself.

I hadn't let him watch Sesame Street because it keeps him quiet and still for at least fifteen minutes.

I have my flaws. There are things I do and don't do as a mom that I always said I would never do or definitely would do. Once your baby comes, it's hard to be that perfect woman you thought you'd be because your baby has his own plans too. And you crumble.

You manage somehow, through the haze of sweat and hormones and tears and sleeplessness, to realize that even though you are not perfect or ideal, that you are doing your best and hey... your kid ain't so bad either. He's turning out ok.

Even though you didn't have a natural childbirth. Even though he was circumcised. Even though he didn't like that sling. Even though you can't stop crying sometimes. Even though you have to go back to work.

Even though he's interested in the television, thankyouverymuchGabe.

We're not doing so bad. This is my second Mother's Day and I am enjoying it very much.


This photo was taken about a week after Mother's Day 2007.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Eleven months

Dear Liam,

Today you are eleven months old, which I am having a hard time grasping. I feel like you have been in my life always, but eleven months is really a short time and you are growing up so fast. Every time I look at you, you look older. You look more like my little boy than my little baby, which is both exciting and sad.

It’s exciting because you are growing. You are healthy, you are learning new things every day, and I can tell how bright and strong you are. I can see what an amazing person you are becoming and I can’t wait to see the marvelous things you will do.

It is also sad though, because you will never be this little again. There will be a time when you will be too big for me to hold you like I hold you now, and when the fact that I am your mom will not be enough to comfort you.

In these eleven months, you have brought so much to me and your dad. You’ve tested and taught us patience. You’ve snuggled into us and made us feel safe and heroic. You’ve laughed at us when we weren’t even trying and made us feel like comedians, and you’ve looked at us in ways that we know we are so loved in return for what have been giving you.

The fact that you know love, that you feel it without even understanding it, that makes me feel successful as a parent. We have taught you love. It gives me hope for the future of this world. You give me hope, Liam. You give me hope for myself.

You have so much in your hands, in your heart, and in your mind. I am so thankful for these past eleven months with you and I can’t wait to watch you continue to grow- even if it means you’re not my little baby. You’re still my boy and I am still excited to wake up every morning and see you smiling at me, waiting for me to wake up.

I will keep waking up to you. Please continue to make my days feel mysterious and new and full. I will keep loving you. Always. Please continue to trust in that and know that I am always here- if not in sight, then in your heart. You are a part of me and I am a part of you. Nothing can change that. Not even growing up.

Happy eleven months, my Liam.

With infinite everything,


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mark Haddon

I volunteered again this morning at my sister's art gallery. Well it's hers, her husband's, her husband's brother, and her husband's brother's wife's gallery. I digress. I stay there every other Saturday morning in greet visitors and answer the phone.

It's close to home, and I love the time alone. It's the only time I am by myself and not running errands. It's Nora Time. Last time I was there I finished reading a Shirley Jackson novel I'd been trying to read for months. Then I worked on my novel. It was splendid.

Today I read throughout my entire Nora Time. I am reading A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. He wrote one of my favorite books ever, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. If you haven't read it, read it. And so far I'll say the same about A Spot of Bother.

I'd like to say something about his writing starting with the words, "Observant and witty..." but I don't want to be like the reviewers on who think they're like, real reviewers. Those two words do describe him though.

Curious Incident is brilliant because it is narrated by a pre-teen boy with autism- it's sad, it's funny, the style is so accurate, did I mention read it now? I am thoroughly enjoying A Spot of Bother because it has that same sadness and subtle hilarity about every day life from all different points of view.

Again I can't tell you what they're about because I am bad at summarizing ideas (see example: last post) which is really frustrating because how, if I ever finish it, will I manage to pitch my novel to a publisher? Oh gosh, Nora.

Really sad attempts: Curious Incident is the story of this boy's neighbor's dog that was killed with a gardening tool on its front lawn, and how the boy, in trying to solve the mystery of Who Killed the Dog? inadvertently digs up all kinds of secrets. A Spot of Bother is about a retiree who might be going crazy and/or dying while his daughter plans her second sure-fail marriage, his wife cheats on him, his son alienates his secret gay lover, and he himself discovers what might very well be cancerous lesions on his skin.

I hope I didn't ruin it for anyone.

And don't you want to go buy these books???

No, seriously, please read Mark Haddon.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the unpacking may begin.... for real

Huge accomplishment for the day: I almost finished unpacking and cleaning the kitchen!

We can now walk in a straight line diagonally across the kitchen from the front door to the dining room door, instead of an arc around the boxes cluttering the exact middle of the room. It's a beautiful thing.

Huge reminder as to why I chose to marry the man I married: Gabe gave me the dining room to expand my art space!

You see, our apartment was advertised as a two-bedroom with a double parlor and eat-in kitchen. Thing is, because of the doorways in the parlors and the position of the radiators, fireplace and mirrored shelving (sounds ugly, kinda is, I kinda like it) you'd have to own very little furniture to make these rooms work as living rooms. You'd have to own very modern, simple, IKEA-like furniture, and only armchairs.

We have a huge, soft, comfy couch and we like it that way.

We use one of the "bedrooms" as a living room because it's really big and has no windows. Who wants a bedroom with no windows? In a living room with no windows, there's never a glare on your television and the upholstery on your couch will never fade.

So we I deemed the room with the fireplace and mirrored shelving the dining room. The second "parlor" became my art room so I'd FINALLY [insert angels singing here] have my own space to make arts and crafts. But seriously, it's really small and wouldn't work, even if I ever finish unpacking it.

And Gabe's been bugging me to put the table in the kitchen. "But what will we do with the dining room?" I'd ask. There was never an answer, and I kept my big, open kitchen.

Today, after the kitchen was finished, he asked, "Are you sure you don't want to put the table in here?"

"Well, there's room... but I don't know what to do with the dining room."

"Make it another art room for yourself," he told me, with a mild undertone of "Duh, Nora," but a little helpfully at the same time.

"What? No. I can't do that," I argued.

"Why not?" Gabe wanted to know. He walked into the dining room. "You can put your easel in here."

"I shouldn't use that much room in our apartment."

"Nora, just take advantage of this space while we have it. Next year, we can't afford a place this big in Portland."

I looked at him. There may have been a halo hovering over his head, but that may have been a trick of the light. My eyes get blurry when I'm tired. Thanks, LASIK. "I guess that's a good idea."

"I know. Why didn't you just do that in the first place?"

"I didn't think it would be fair to use that much space for myself in here."

He snorted. "Hey, I don't care. I have my living room; I have my TV, my Playstation, my internet. That's all I need."