tired but smiling


Ever need a vacation after a vacation? As much as we love our time on Block Island, we do tend to come home a bit worn out – especially after the Fourth of July. Picture 19 people, four dogs, sand, Scrabble, fireworks, a parade, loads of food and a whole lot of wine.

Although we are all there for four or five days, we act like our hours are limited. It’s the only time each year that all of us Torrey/Perry/Pastores are together and we fill the time with memories – some a little blurry, but always wonderful.

Thank you PopPop and Nanna Sue (and Block Island) for a particularly lovely holiday. We came home tired but smiling. See you in August!!!

Love, Jess



Welcome Home.

I walked into my house Tuesday night and was greeted by Anna with a warm hug and dogs licking my face. Then I ran upstairs to see if Jack was still awake. The smile on his face lit up his room. Going away is great, but coming home is even better. Usually.


Three days in Mexico with good friends and the warm sun, and I was relaxed and happy. It wasn’t until the morning that reality set in. Big time.

Dan is in Asia on business, so I arrived home to being a single parent this week. No worries – I was just in sunny Mexico – how can I complain? I was a little tired from vacationing, but nine hours of sleep and I woke up in the morning recharged and ready to get stuff done. I had my list of to-dos, breakfast for the kids organized and I walked upstairs to start our morning routine. I opened the door to Jack’s room and the first wave of reality hit me. Poop.

It wasn’t Jack. It was poor Keegan that had covered the floor with liquid gifts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough hands or minutes to add dog-clean-up-duty to my morning, so I quickly grabbed my boy, shut the door and continued with our routine  – shower, teeth, yell at Anna to get downstairs, clothes, medicine, breakfast, hydration, leg braces.

I kept Keegan close to us as we went through the morning motions and he seemed happy and comfortable. My Mexican attitude kept me calm. I managed to get the kids out the door and by 9:00 am I had cleaned up the poop, mopped the floor, and had started the laundry. I was ready to start fresh. No problema.

I made a healthy breakfast and sat down. It wasn’t until I had the first bite of my toast that I realized there was something wrong with me. Did I hurt my mouth? It didn’t feel right. Then I put my hand to my jaw and felt that it was swollen. I ran to the bathroom mirror and saw that my cheek and jaw was so swollen that I couldn’t see the ear on my right side. And it was growing.

I was forced to throw my entire day aside and raced to Urgent Care.

Apparently your salivary gland duct can actually get blocked. Often times it’s connected to an infection, but not in my case  (I’m just lucky).  It looks like the mumps, but only one side is affected so it’s extra startling to look at me. And, the pressure on my teeth, my ear and my head are intense. I go to another doctor today to find out when/if/how to treat this. Until then I will try to remember the sun on my shoulders and stay away from the mirror. Tan chipmunk is my current look.







I am trying really hard to keep a good attitude, but if one more thing gets added to my plate or my face, I may have a full blown nervous breakdown.

Love, Jess

P.S. Keegan seems much better. He did have one more episode, but has been good now for about 20 hours – although he is currently mad at me for only feeding him rice for his last two meals.



Traveling is like childbirth

Traveling is like childbirth. Once you look at the result, you forget about the pain.

When my parents announced last year that they were buying a house in Santa Fe, I thought they had lost their minds. “Santa Fe? All the way in New Mexico?”. They pointed out that it was closer and easier to get to than Chile (where we have a family home). They didn’t seem to appreciate how ridiculous that sounded, so I gave up. I assumed it was some sort of late mid-life crisis and that they would come to their senses.

Thank goodness they didn’t.

Getting to Santa Fe was a journey. We left the house before 7:00 am with three suitcases, two carry-ons and a diaper bag. An Uber took us to Newark Airport where we flew to Denver, took a tram to grab our luggage, found a bus to get our rental car, and drove to Taos, NM. In Santa Fe’s defense, we did add Taos to the trip and we did drive the long way through Colorado. Sounds like an odd choice for us and our diaper-wearing/medication-needing boy, but we wanted to see as much as we could. It was worth it. Colorado is spectacular. The layers of mountains and color made for a bearable six hour drive and some pretty amazing photographs (of corse, I only drove for an hour . . . ).


We arrived to Taos around 8:30 pm and found a local restaurant. We were exhausted, but did enjoy a nice dinner before finding our hotel and collapsing quickly into bed. Unfortunately, I drew the short straw and had to share a bed with Jack. It’s not something I would recommend, especially when you’re really tired. He wiggles and kicks and pees. A trifecta that doesn’t lead to a great night’s sleep. I woke up cranky, wondering why my parents couldn’t have gotten a house at the Jersey Shore like everyone else. Santa Fe is really, really far away.

We had a light breakfast at the hotel and did our best to see as much as we could around Taos. Then we had lunch and, between the food and the charm of Taos, I started thinking that maybe New Mexico wasn’t so bad. But, we still had a couple of hours before reaching our final destination. Why is Santa Fe so far?


Back in the car heading to Santa Fe we enjoyed the landscape, but had our fingers tightly crossed that we would’t need any emergency diaper stops. Our journey just kept going on and on, until finally WAZE told us that our exit was in .5 miles. We’ve never been so excited.

We pulled off the exit and suddenly the interminable trek to get there seemed to evaporate.

Santa Fe is not the easiest place to get to, but once you arrive, it’s breathtaking. A perfect combination of art and food and shopping and hiking and really good spa treatments. If only it were closer to the ocean, it would be called heaven.


So now I get it. My parents aren’t nuts. There is something magical about Santa Fe (New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment). It also looks a lot like Chile and the quiet pace of life out there is a wonderful balance to my parent’s busy lives in New York.

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating 50 years of Juan and Jean. Although there were hours and hours of planes, trams, and automobiles to get there, it was worth it. And, Jack managed to NOT create any sort of funny/awkward/smelly stories along the way – or no more than in a normal day in Maplewood.

Love, Jess

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50 Years!!!! Thank you Nonno and Mymom for a wonderful weekend and sharing Santa Fe with us!

Wandering through middle age


Back from our trip, trying hard to hold tight to my mexican mood. It’s so much easier to define yourself as content and happy when your biggest worry for the day is where to go for lunch and whether you want a swedish or a deep tissue massage. I’m just hoping that my new outlook doesn’t fade as quickly as my tan.

My mood has improved dramatically since Dan and I went on our anniversary trip. Time alone with my husband in beautiful Tulum is just what I needed to bounce out of the hole I’d found myself in the last couple of months. Allowing others to take the reins also reminded me that we are not alone – we have people in our lives more than capable of helping out. Thanks Nonno, Mymom, Maria and Jeremy for holding down the fort.

During the quiet moments on the white sand beach, I had a lot of time to count my blessings and to contemplate what has been bothering me. The list is rather long, but the simple answer is CHANGE. We’re starting a new chapter. Anna is becoming increasingly independent and Jack too is growing up and requiring us to adjust – again. I need to prepare myself for this next stage so that I don’t get caught in another landslide. But how do I prepare? Making a plan is a good start, but that has me a little lost.

What/where/who/how do I want to be when I grow up?

I’d always thought that by 46 I would know who I was and would have all my ducks safely in a row. My life has taken some major detours, but I’m starting to realize that most people our age seem to be wrestling with similar feelings as they wander through middle age. I’ve been focusing so much on “poor me” that I hadn’t appreciated that most of my peers are going through similar issues. Knowing we are all going through this together makes me feel better.

The lives that we all envisioned rarely come to fruition. And, even if they do, they often look very different through older eyes. Besides, even if life took us just where we expected, we all have periods of change. Change can be exciting, but it can also be daunting.

Middle age comes with so many life changes. Preparing children to leave the nest or not (in the case of many special needs families and friends who didn’t have children). Career changes or the realization that projected careers never materialized. Grappling with how long to keep our homes full of memories but with taxes high enough to pay for a few European vacations a year. Whether or not to cover the gray or let nature take over.

All this crap is hard, but for me the realization that I’m not doing this alone is rather liberating. There’s safety in numbers. I’ll keep you all posted on any great ideas of how to soften the blow of middle age, but for now only one thing is for sure — Dan and I need to plan for more trips. There is something magic about having your feet in the sand.


Is there even a word in spanish for FUNK?

images-6How can my mood NOT improve?

My mood lately has been inconsistent. One minute I’m smiling through my day and then something will hit me – hard. It’s not that I’m buried in a full blown depression (buried in piles of laundry maybe), it’s just that I’ve been in a bit of a funk.

Once I was able to acknowledge the funk, I started working out ways to make life a little less complicated. I’m trying to avoid situations that might trigger my sour moods, I’m trying to make better choices (less wine, more kale – some days I’m better than others), and I am allowing myself to let go of some of the less-than-glamorous aspects of my life. Being a good parent doesn’t need to mean changing every diaper.

Dan and I have made time alone together a priority ever since life changed. We are determined that we will stay in the 10-20% , and being able to focus on each other for a few days (especially out of our element) helps. We are blessed that we have the means to travel and generous people who are willing to help, but I recommend that all couples try it, no matter your circumstances – even just a trip to the local Holiday Inn can allow you to reconnect;)

So, with the goal of reconnecting and to help me feel less overwhelmed about life, Dan and I planned a trip to Tulum, Mexico. We are celebrating 20 years of marriage (it was in June – it took us a while to pull the trigger). We had fun picking the perfect spot and my parents quickly offered to help out with the kids. Then, it was time to sit down and start planning being away for five days.

Ironic that a trip planned to help us relax, further proves how complicated our lives are.

My parents are very capable people. Not only did they successfully raised three children, but my mother is a PHD and has worked with The Red Cross for more years than I can count and my father is brilliant and has such a connection with Jack, that Jack starts laughing as soon as my father enters the door. It should be easy to just hand over the house keys, and let my parents dive in.

Only it’s not.

Although my folks have helped us out before, it’s been a while and the kids are at a different stage. They are teenagers. Jack is complicated and 17. It’s not just the medication and the diapers. Bathing and changing him can be a challenge – he’s strong and about as helpful as a stubborn cat. Anna is a sophomore in high school, with a busy schedule and an active social life social life. And, we have two dogs  – one goes by the name “Bad Dog”. Nothing is patricianly difficult, it’s just a lot of moving parts. Although we have our wonderful team of Jack helpers on board, it’s a lot to oversee.

I always leave a list with important information when we go out of town and this time, it’s managed to grow into a five page document. As soon as I think it’s done, I think of some other random detail about life at 26 Clinton Ave. I keep trying to walk away from it, but it keeps sucking me back.

We leave tomorrow (NOW TODAY!!) for Tulum, Mexico, which by all accounts is paradise. Five days alone with Dan on the beach is just what I need. And, as soon as our flight takes off, I’m sure I will relax, but until then I will continue to add to the never-ending list.

Thank you Nonno and Mymom for filling our shoes this week and sorry for the long list of crazy. There are really only three things that you need to remember – Jack needs his medication, Anna curfew is 11:00 and NOOOO people food for the dogs;)

Adios Amigos!!




Coming home is even better.


Jack laughs with his whole body. His eyes water, his mouth opens and he utters a hardy chuckle, as his entire soul shakes. It’s one of the few noises our boy produces and the sound melts my heart.

The only time we want to quiet the giggles is when he’s eating. Jack’s laughter is so strong that anything in it’s way gets displaced. Food gets spit out, even through his g-tube (the little hole in his belly used to medicate and hydrate). It’s hard to feed Jack around Nonno, Uncle Matt, Uncle Pat or Ronny V. Those men say a word and Jack is in a frenzy.

Dan and I went away last weekend. Our annual excursion to see our dear friends, the Fitzgeralds. We spent the weekend enjoying the scenery of Maine and catching up with old college friends. Time with people who knew us “before” is critical to our survival. Yes – they ask about the kids and we share photos and stories, but it’s a fraction of the weekend. A relief to just be Jesse and Dan for a few days. In our real life, sometimes our identity gets lost in a pile of medical jargon and politically correct words for “disabled” and “handicapped”. With this crew, most of our chats are about music and memories.

The weekend away had the added benefit of no medication, diapers, or early morning dog duties. So odd waking up with nothing on my mind except a bit of a headache. It was perfection. Great meals and wine, hikes, boat rides and even a tour of Portland (thanks JK). But, when Monday rolled around, we were more than ready to get on the plane, anxious to hear Anna’s stories of the weekend and hear the sweet sound of Jack’s laughter.

We walked into the house on Monday to find Maria (Jack’s sitter/my favorite person EVER) cooking a beautiful dinner and Jack holding court at the island. When Anna heard the door, she flew down the stairs and there were hugs all around. We had dinner as Dan and I told the kids stories about the weekend. Anna loves hearing tales of her parents pretending to be twenty and Jack was so thrilled to have his parents home that anything we said was greeted with a smile. Once we were done eating, it was time for some real laughs. It was so good to be home.

Getting away is wonderful, but coming home is even better.

Love, Jess

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