Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Milestones & Mishaps

My little one rolled over for the first time tonight! 
It was so sweet. 
The look on his face when he realized that he had turned was priceless! 

I grabbed my iPhone and quickly opened the camera to snap a shot. 
... and there it was. 
An error message. 
My storage is full. 
Ugh! 
I missed my moment!


Instead of feeling frustrated, I will be grateful for all of those 3,687 pictures (yes, I said 3,687!). Those are 3,687 silly, fun, priceless moments that I captured. And never deleted.

I am also extremely grateful that I got to witness a wonderful milestone in my babe's life. 
We are so blessed.


 Update: Here is a pic that I managed to snap about a minute later on my "real" camera. It wasn't a total waste ;)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Community.

I work at this really unique boarding school for talented performing arts kids. I love it! I never in my life thought that I'd like to work with high school kids. But this job is fun and the kids are great!

Tonight was a prime example of why it's so special. I brought my boys by to visit with the kids at work . It was so cute! The kids had a ball with J. Getting him to say their names and teaching him dance moves. It was awesome! It's such a unique environment and I am so thankful that my boys get to be a part of it.

Here's a snapshot of the boys with my friends from work! Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of him learning to dance with the kids. Bummer.

Fashion.

Ok, let's be honest.  This is not a gratitude post. 

I could try to come up with some nonsense about being grateful that my Mom was a fashionista who helped me learn the religion of fabulous shoes...
But we can cut right to the good stuff, right? ;)

Let's just talk fashion for a moment. 

I am a self-proclaimed shopaholic. I love shoes and handbags. I love the feel of new clothes. I'm like a junky. But on a budget. So when I can't score, I swoon

This is what I'm currently swooning for. What do you think?


 Cafe Capris from J.Crew


 These shoes speak of themselves, don't they. 


Asymmetrical yellow top from Zara. 
I might actually splurge on this one. It's in the window of the store down the street. 
I walk by it daily and it stares at me... I might just need it.  



This necklace could make anything look feminine and fun. I want it!


There's nothing like a fab white leather handbag for the Spring/Summer. I love this one!


And though I am totally not ready to talk swim... this suit caught my eye! It could be a great choice for those of us with - ehm - less than stellar tummies?



Also, I totally just splurged on these... Mama had 2 babies back to back and still needed smaller jeans. In my book, that's worthy of a splurge! ;) 



Another day I'll tell you about my fashionista Mom, her fabulous shoe collection and why she thought it was all a waste in the end. 

But for now, we swoon. ;)

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Wonderful Weekend.

Tonight I am thankful for a wonderful weekend full of family and laughs.
We had a great visit with my in-laws! The boys loved all of the attention and were spoiled rotten! 
Exactly what a weekend with your grandparents should be. :)

Nick & I were also spoiled with two blissful nights of sleep, including a one-night getaway to Boston! It was such a wonderful combination of time together and time apart. I am grateful for such wonderful, loving, supportive in-laws!

Tonight, my heart is full. <3
 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Date night.

I am grateful for a wonderful date night with Nick. 
Good food, good drinks and great company!


We also had a great time at the Boston Aquarium! More on that later ;)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mother-In-Law.

Today I am grateful for my Mother-In-Law. Not only did she raise a man that I am proud to call my husband, but she is also a wonderful mother-in-law to me. She has never tried to be my mom, but she has always made a point to include me in her family. I know that she loves me very much. Some MILs would have a hard time with a daughter-in-law like me. I am extremely close to my family. My mother was my best friend! But she never judged that relationship and also never tried to mimic it. Rather, she built a relationship with me that is authentic to her.

When my Mom passed away, I could see her sadness. She made a point to find ways to support me and our family. She made sure that I knew that she would always be here for us. I never doubt that she would help me out in any way that I ask! But I also know, without a doubt, that she respects me (and my Mom!) enough to never try and replace her. I am so grateful for that.

Tonight, when we arrived at her house, she had the baby's crib all set up in her room. She knew how tired we were, so she took the baby to let us sleep. Amazing.

So tonight, I am grateful for a wonderful mother-in-law. And (hopefully) a great nights sleep!

Tomorrow we're off to the Aquarium in Boston!  
(I know, another aquarium! We're like aquarium connoisseurs!) 

I'm excited. ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Favorite time of day.

I think that my favorite time of day might be just after the boys' baths, before bedtime. 

Though it's one of the more chaotic times of our days, it's also one of the most fun! 
This time is often characterized by a naked toddler running around our apartment with his dimply bottom and lots of giggles, while his calm and content baby brother lays happily on his mat. There is generally tickling involved in this portion of the day, not to mention cool "jammy jams" as pajamas are fondly referred to in our house. After running a few naked laps around the living room and getting clean diapers and jammy jams, we read books and get ready to say goodnight. 

It's pure, chaotic fun!

Tonight Jack took a shower, instead of a bath. Recently he's decided to boycott baths, so this was a new attempt at getting him clean. He enjoyed the shower and was super excited about a new adventure! 

Such a fun laugh. 

Here are a few pics I snapped the other night during our post bath goof-off time. 
 

Evenings have changed quite a bit over the past 2 years, but I am so grateful for these laughs.

A good pediatrician.

Today I am thankful for a good pediatrician and healthy babes.

My sweet little W has a cold that has turned into a cough that sounds so sad. Today I decided to take him to the pediatrician to get some piece of mind that he is fine and I don't need to worry. I am thankful for both the fabulous pediatrician that I saw and the answers that I received. Baby w has perfectly clear lungs & ears, so it's just a yucky cough. (yes, I said yucky. I'm a mom. It's how we talk.)

(This is my sweet sleeping soundly before and after our doctor's visit.)

I love a pediatrician that can take a worried, overly concerned mom and let her leave an appointment feeling confident and calm. Gratitude.

I realize that I am privileged with access to good health care and health insurance. I am privileged that I can afford to see a pediatrician just to be sure nothing is wrong. But I am especially lucky to have my choice of doctors.

I am grateful that my boys are healthy.

And just for fun, here's a picture of little wells showing off his giggles and smiles for the nurses and doctor, just to be sure that they thought his mommy was nuts to think something was wrong! He screamed the moment we left the exam room, but while he was in there getting examined he was all smile. Figures! ;)

Love.

At 6:30 this morning, I am grateful for this.

Love.


(I know the picture is a bit dark. But it was just barely sunrise.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My dad.

My Dad - also known as Papa - is awesome.

Last weekend we went to my Dad's for a visit. We had a great time! My Dad was really happy to see us and we were all glad to see him - especially Jack who was thrilled to see Papa and his doggies! :) Saturday morning we were at breakfast and my Dad suggested that we go to the aquarium. J absolutely loved the idea and so did we. Off we went. We had such a good time! We visited the NY Aquarium a few weeks ago, but I think that this one was even better! 
They had awesome exhibits of exotic fish as well as local fish. They had touch & feel exhibits with sting rays and star fish. And they had an awesome shark tank! I think we sat watching the sharks for 45 minutes. It was so cool! 
Is it just me, or are aquariums really neat?!

Naturally, I forgot my camera. So you'll have to excuse my crummy iPhone pics!



 Papa is so great with my boys. It makes me endlessly happy to see them play together and laugh. Jack is boisterous with lots of energy. He's typically an eager and sweet kid, but he has his moments. I am occasionally weary that people won't be up to the task of keeping up with him. He's a handful! But my Dad not only kept up with him all day, he really enjoyed him! 
J would only hold Papa's hand - neither Mom nor Dad mattered. Papa carried him, laughed with him and showed him all of the exhibits. And when J was nervous of the shark tank, Papa taught him how to scare the sharks away by "Rawr-ing" at them. It was awesome. The really amazing thing is how incredible he is with my little one as well. He loves to feed him and hold him. He talks to him and tells him stories. Papa is amazing at getting my boys to sleep and never seems to mind that they end up cuddled up on his chest for long stretches of cozy sleep. He is wonderful with both of my boys. 
I am so grateful for him and so glad that I get to watch them have fun together. 
I know that we both had moments this weekend when we missed her. But it never ruined the mood. Rather, we seemed to embrace the company we had and enjoy it as best we could.



My boys adore my Dad. 
 So do I.

He is brave, strong, loving and so much fun.
Thanks for a great weekend, Dad!

Friday, February 17, 2012

One year ago...

I peed on a stick and swore. Then I swore it was lying to me.

One year ago, I was terrified! And completely overwhelmed! I mean, I wanted another baby. But did it really happen that quickly?! (decide for yourselves if I mean literally or figuratively ;)

One year ago, that little stick said "pregnant" and my life changed, again.

And now...
Here is my beautiful, sweet baby boy.

Baby Wells, we love you so much! You have been an incredible blessing and a wonderful addition to our family. I am so blessed to be your mommy.

Nick.

 I won't tell you just how many of these Dove chocolates I've had today... Don't judge! They are so yummy and I also enjoy the sweet notes inside. 


It's no coincidence that these two messages each appeared twice today. 
It's a reminder.

Today I am beyond thankful for my Nick. He has shown me what true unconditional love is. It is the love that laughs with you and cries with you. The love that brought us our perfect, sweet boys. The strength to bare my tears and heartache, even when there is nothing he can do but love me. It is the love that lives in his hugs and his touch. It is the love that helps me carry on. The love that makes me smile... and last night, it was the love that allowed me 9 full hours of sleep. 
In other words, bliss.

Last night my fabulous husband folded the laundry so I could go to sleep at 9:00. He then got up two times with our sweet baby (who refuses to sleep through the night) so I could sleep, uninterrupted. I woke up rested and better prepared to face the day.

I am so thankful for you and your love. 
I can only hope that my love for you speaks as clearly to you as yours does to me.

Thank you - not only for the sleep, but for always being there - No matter what.


Would you like a Dove chocolate heart? ;)


Thursday, February 16, 2012

I miss you.

Today, I really miss you. It's cold and rainy and the boys were a handful this morning... I wish I could talk to you. I miss you so much, it's hard to breathe. I'm trying to find perspective to ground myself, but I can't.

I saw something today that I knew you would love. I just wish I could call you and share it with you. Though I know you are listening, I wish I could hear you.

Life just isn't the same without you.

Some days gratitude is hard to find.

Instead of searching, I will sleep and hope for a better tomorrow.

I love you.

Off color humor.

I work in education. 

I have spent years studying, learning about and advocating for student needs... LGBT issues, diversity, mental health, civility. Honestly, it's my passion and what I love to do. But now and again, I can really appreciate some off color humor. Once in a while, we all just need to laugh - especially about our work! 

Today, we had a good, hard laugh about jumping out the window.
We were totally overwhelmed by our to-do lists and timelines that when we sat down to map out "action steps" we decided that step #1 was to open window, #2 climb onto roof below and #3 jump. Not funny. But really, really funny in that moment.

I realize that when I say this, it sounds bad and so inappropriate. But that's the thing about off color humor... It's off color. 
 But it's hysterical! ;)

I'm thankful for moments when we can laugh at things that aren't funny, just because we need to laugh! 

(And just for the record, I am not at all suicidal. If I were, I know where to get help. I have FAR too much to live for to ever consider the alternative.)

And now the eductor in me wants to do this...
If you are suicidal or depressed, please get help. NOW. Call a friend, a loved one, the police, your doctor... just call someone. Life is hard, but it is also sacred. It's worth living, I promise.

OK, now we can laugh again! ;)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Work.

Today I am grateful for my job and the people that I work with everyday. They are friends as well as colleagues and I am lucky to spend my days with them.

They also love my kids, which is so amazing. But what's really amazing, is that they don't just say that they love my kids in that "of course, we love your kids" kind of way. They like ask me to bring them to work events. They ask to babysit. They get genuinely excited when Nick brings them by for a visit. It's ridiculously sweet, cute and thoughtful. It makes being a working mom a gazillion times easier and better!

(My dear friend & colleague, Sion with J - who absolutely ADORES him!)
Photo taken by my other dear friend and colleague, Kelly. 

I'm also grateful for the students that I work with. They are smart and focused. Dedicated and hardworking. Not to mention ├╝ber talented. But they are also thoughtful. Today a student came to my office, just to share good news. It made my day! I like to think that there are a lot of people who work with teenagers who think that they are annoying and sassy and apathetic. Though I've had those thoughts on occasion, I am really lucky to work with amazing kids.

So overall, today I'm thankful for my job. It's fun. It challenges me. It gives me balance. And it let's me spend my days surrounded by thoughtful, incredible people.

Jealous yet? ;)

Monday, February 13, 2012

My boys.

I have tried hard to find gratitude beyond my husband and kiddos. Mostly, because I am always thankful for them. Those boys can always brighten my day, no matter what! But sometimes I simply can't help myself. Some days they make my heart feel so full, that I have to share :) 
I am so thankful for these boys and the love that they have for one another. I was so worried about jealousy, but mostly we have love. Last night, j was begging to hold his brother. So I set up some pillows around him and let him "hold" his brother. It was instant happiness. <3

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Friends with kids.

I have talked before about my gratitude for really great friends. There is nothing in the world like a friend that you can really count on. It's true.

There is also nothing quite like having friends with kids... Grown ups who you enjoy spending time with. Adults who have similar adult interests and who are also parents. Life changes so much when you have kids. But having friends that you enjoy who also have kids - especially when their kids enjoy your kids! - are a wonderful blessing.

Lately, I've tried to schedule more "playdates" for us. I say us, because they're just as much for the boys as for Nick & I! I've found that being busy has been helpful. I've also found that its easier to find positives when you're having fun. There is something really great about watching children play. Something really heartwarming. There is also something really great about the long nap that often follows these playdates ;)

So I am grateful that we have a variety of friends who have kids. Friends who we can share museum visits and playgrounds with but also friends that we can talk honestly with. Friends that don't judge your parenting. Friends that support and embrace it. In this City, these parents aren't always easy to come by. 

I am thankful to have more than a small handful of them. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A late night visit.

Some may think that this is totally creepy, but I am a believer.

Over the past 2 months, I have often thought that my Mom was popping in to check on my boys. Baby w was laughing at the ceiling one night and I just knew the she was there. I even looked up and said, "hi Mom." One day, seemingly out of nowhere, j said,"Hi Nanny". I just smiled, glad that she was looking in on him. Last night, for the first time, she came for me.

Baby w got shots yesterday and was quite upset at bedtime. My poor little guy. He woke a lot in the night. So at 5:15am I brought him into our bed and snuggled him back to sleep. Then as I was laying there, cuddled with my sweet, sleeping baby, I felt her. It was as if she wrapped her arms around both of us. A sense of calm came over me and I felt myself relax into the thought of her. I told her how much I miss her. I remembered waking up to see her sleeping on our couch with my then baby j snuggled into her. She'd often come and stay the night to  got up with him and give us a good nights rest.
It made my heart warm.

Though today I am sad and really missing her...

I am thankful.

I am thankful that I believe that she's still with me.
I am thankful that even if it was all imagined, it felt good.

I miss you. But I am so happy that you visit us.
We all love you, so much.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friends.

People always tell you that one day you'll discover who your real friends are. For me, that day has come and gone. Over the course of this last year I have learned the value of good friends. I have learned just what good friends are capable of. I have never appreciated friends as much as I do now. I have learned that though you may not always need them, when you do - when you really, really need them - they'll be there. So many people offered to do things for us - make dinner, watch the kids, listen, pray... So many people wanted to help. Most of the time I thanked them. I appreciated the prayers and boy did I feel the love. But it was hard to say, "yes, please take the kids" or "dinner would be great." Then there came a point when I realized that it was time. It was time to trust that these offers were serious and these friends were sincere. There were friends who were willing to take my kids with almost no notice. Friends who sent food, so we didn't have to worry about cooking. Friends who sent notes, cards, texts, emails and love. Friends that have let me cry, but who have also made me laugh. Sometimes they really made me laugh. It felt so good. 

I have always known that I've been blessed with an incredibly strong, tight, annoyingly involved and loving family. But I now know the value of real, beautiful friendship. 

I am so blessed to have so many beautiful friendships. I hope that they always know how much they are appreciated.

Thank you. <3

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The small things.

This journey is just as much about appreciating the little things in life as it is the big things. 

Here's to the small things...

A restaurant in Manhattan, with good food, that doesn't make you feel like a crazy person for asking for a highchair.


Last week we went to Landmarc two times - once for dinner and once for breakfast. 
It's that good and that accommodating to our family.

In a city filled with hostesses that say "sorry, we don't have highchairs" it's so nice to encounter a hostess that just says "right this way." And did I mention that the food is good?! It's real restaurant food! Not like fast food or pizza, like most "family friendly" dinning. 

Yes, I get excited about this kind of stuff. 

I am thankful for a nice meal with my family.
And j is thankful for the PB & Nutella sandwich on their kids menu! ;)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The beginning.

One year ago I was married to the greatest guy I'd ever met, my best friend and a wonderful partner. We had a perfect, healthy, beautiful 9 month old son, j. There was an idea that maybe we should test our luck and try for another perfect babe. We were happy. Our home was full of energy, laughter, love and lots of firsts! j was starting to crawl and his little personality was forming. It was amazing.

About a week later - on Feb 17, 2011 - I discovered that babe #2 was in fact coming our way! I was terrified and in complete disbelief. Yes, we were talking about this idea, but we had only just toyed with it. Apparently, we're a very fertile pair. Noted. That night I told nick that I was pregnant. I believe he said "holy shit". I felt the same way! Don't get me we were excited and blessed, but also totally terrified and overwhelmed.

About a week after that, we met my parents in Florida for a family cruise. When we got on board, we dressed j in a onsie that said "Big Bro 2 B" and paraded him in front of my parents. They were over the moon! I told them how scared I was. My Mom said "do you think that I wasn't scared when I found out about your sister?!" All of a sudden I knew everything would be ok. For the first time, I was excited.

2 months later, my J turned 1 and it was finally time to announce #2 to the World. We had a great 1st Birthday party in Central Park. It was so fun. All of our friends and family were there. As the party wound down and people started leaving, my mom asked to talk to me. She took me for a walk and changed my life forever. She told me that she had cancer.

I will always remember J's first birthday...

Over the coming weeks and months, we would learn that what was initially a curable cancer had spread. It was stage 4. At best, she would have 4 years...

At the same time, we were learning that baby #2 was healthy. He was kicking and dancing around in my belly, reminding me that he was there. Yep, he was a he! On the same exact day that Mom had a scan that would ultimately tell us how bad her cancer really was, we had a scan that showed my baby was a healthy boy. These weeks and months were such a combination of highs and lows, it's difficult to know exactly how to describe it. While I hated the lows, I was also glad to have highs.

By September, my Mom wasn't well. She'd had to spend a week in the hospital, in addition to numerous visits for fluids and antibiotics. She had to downgrade her chemo regiment because the initial treatment plan was literally killing her. The new chemo wasn't as hash, but it came with lesser odds... we started to consider that she might never meet #2 who wasn't due until the end of October. These weeks were some of the most difficult. Balancing this stress, with the anxiety of a new baby and the need to keep a strong, healthy body for #2. It was tough. My Mom wanted few things as badly as she wanted to be there to meet her new grandson. Aside from a miracle, I don't know that I wanted anything more either.

Luckily, things got a bit better and my Mom found some energy to fight. When my sweet #2, arrived 3 weeks early, she was in the delivery room. She not only got to meet her new grandson, but got to hold him before I did. It was - and will always be - one of my most cherished memories. It was a miracle in it's own right. It was a blessing, just like baby w.

When #2 was only 5 days old he had to go into the NICU with jaundice and dehydration. My Mom was too ill that week to even understand what was happening, let alone to call me. In fact, just a day or so after w came home, she ended up going into the hospital. Those were difficult days. I hadn't ever imagined a day when my Mom couldn't call me to say, "everything is going to be ok." I cried. Not for worry about my sweet little baby. I cried for me. A little bit of her was already gone and my mourning had started. It was devastating. But I survived. And my sweet w was finally thriving.

Mom got a bit better after a few days in the hospital. We went to see her and even got her out of bed so she could come downstairs and see my boys who weren't allowed up in her room. She held my sweet baby again, in her wheelchair. She watched j run around and play. She got to hear him learn to speak. He calls her Nanny Shells. I have no doubts that on those days, my boys helped her find strength to keep fighting. It was also during those days that my Mom decided to stop her treatments.

She learned that the cancer had continued to spread in spite of the chemo. At the same time, the chemo was making her sick and was giving her minimal odds. She decided that she'd rather live the last weeks or months of her life without chemo, at home. As hard as it is to think back on... at the time, I was so relieved by her decision. I knew, without hesitation, that I would have done the exact same thing. She was so brave.

We spent a lot of time visiting her at home. As my sweet little baby smiled his first smiles and giggled at me for the first time, my Mom was dying in the next room. The contrast of life and death was undeniable and so profound.

As j ran around their house and w turned 2 months, my Mom took her last breaths in the next room. On those last few days, my boys were at home with my husband. I knew that I needed to be a daughter and not a mother... On December 13, 2011 my mother died, surrounded by love and family. She was my best friend, mentor and someone I can only hope to be like. I miss her every. single. day. I have never known such profound sorrow or loss.

After her funeral, we returned to the house where my boys were waiting. Again, such a conflict of joy and sorrow. While I was so deeply heartbroken, my heart was also full of love and gratitude for 2 beautiful, healthy babies.

So started a journey towards gratitude...

I have no doubts that the timing of everything in this past year was meant to be. On the darkest and saddest of days, I have also had joy and hope in my boys. My j knows only joy. He has a boisterous personality and loves to dance, laugh and play. He is too innocent to understand cancer. He brought me laughter - every day. Sweet little w was so tiny and cuddly. He needed to be cared for and loved. It is impossible to feel sadness when snuggling a baby. His needs were a distraction and his presence alone gave us hope.

This year has been incredible challenging. I've found myself lost. It is my hope that through the course of the year to come I can find peace. By focusing on the good, I hope to find myself again.

So today, I am grateful for this space. A place where I can remember the past and celebrate hopes for the future.

If you're still with me... thank you. Thank you for taking this journey and taking the time to read my story. I am grateful for you.