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Last night was this crazy sweet moment. The four of us were sitting at the dinner table sharing some grilled chicken and veggies and a side dish of silliness. Henry shared about his memories of preschool which sometimes blends multiple days' experiences into one and Owen shared about his time with Mema visiting the new puppy and bringing Henry to school. It was a sweet scene peppered from time to time with a little hysteria over whether or not someone will taste every item on their plate. We try not to make the dinner table a battlefield but we do encourage everyone to taste everything...this trend tends to turn the highly objectionable item into a substance approvingly (and sometimes delightfully) consumed because, wow, that thing actually doesn't taste like poison after all! And last night while running through these family norms, Henry asked if he could come down and watch me "do pottery." Then Owen mimicked the request and I thought for a moment how awesome it would be to bring together these two worlds. So often, I wait and wait and wait until the kids are asleep, the house is picked up, my students' worked is graded, lessons are planned, emails are sent before finally giving myself the time to find my pottery wheel. Late and alone, I do one item and feel both elated and guilty that I am not in bed and guilty that I don't figure out a way to navigate this hobby better into a daily practice. How do I do all the things? But, last night after dinner was eaten and picked up, the boys came downstairs with me and to watch "the pottery." They helped me cut the clay and they asked questions about why I was doing what I was doing. They shared little amazements about the simplest things, like when I used a sponge to bring water onto the spinning wheel and ball of clay and it shot out like splatter plaint art. When I pulled the walls, they were both so excited and shouted, "Look at that!" And then Henry got nervous and asked, "How tall can it go!? Will it be bigger than our house." And all I could do was smile because sharing this with them and seeing their wonderment was so freaking awesome. We are moving into this new phase of life where David and I can share in real ways our passions and hobbies with the little ones and they want to grow and expand on these little introductions and get their hands dirty and share together more as a family experiences because the basic survival mode of life with tiny babies is fading.

Summer Bucket List

The 12 weeks of summer vacation were so sweet. With both boys excited for little adventures and outings, we started the summer by making a bucket list of activities and places we wanted to seek out and embrace. Afraid of getting into a routine of just slow mornings and lounging, I tried to tackle one item a week so there would be a good balance between "get out and be busy days" and "sip coffee and settle in days." With only 24 hours left of my summer being a "stay-at-home-mom" with my kiddos, I am feeling nostalgic for the warm, long summer days we shared. It hurts so much to return to the rigid school day schedule after savoring this time together as family, but this summer there are no regrets or "I wish we hads." We carpe diemed the Sh*t out of our summer together and I am happy to look over the memories we captured as our trio explored together. If only I could get paid to just have time home with my family, that would be the life! I know that once school starts on Monday, it will feel fresh, and good, and exciting to be back on campus, but tonight I want to halt time and stay in this summer sunset longer. What was on the bucket list?

Wingearshaek Beach

Beach Days... yes, multiple!

Lunch with David

Davis Farmland

Eat oysters

Get a pottery wheel

California

Newport, RI

Hopkinton State Park

Ashland state park

Kayaking

SUPing

Salem

Gloucester

Beach Picnic

Summer Concert

Aquarium

Running in a Fountain

Eating outside

Roger Williams Zoo

Strawberry Picking

Riding bikes (my only picture of them on wheels)

Lobster rolls

Visit to Long Island

Have a kickass birthday party for Henry

Duck boat ride

Savor our family

Which items didn't get crossed off this year?

Castle Island, SoWa, Provincetown, Mass MoCA, Portland Day Trip

Not bad! We almost did it all, but I am glad we stuck to picking from our list. The boys loved hearing about the different places we could visit and would fall in love with one location and then want to go back and visit over and over again. This might be a fun little tradition to embrace and to maximize our time together and our explorations of this beautiful region of the country we get to call home.

Henry Adam: Four Years Old

Happiest day to my little guy for making the FOURTH trip around the sun!!!  Looking back over the year in photos, it blows my mind how blessed we are to have you in our lives. You came into this world, slowly, methodically, and chubby and you have turned into the most curious little tinkering boy. Every morning you turn the knob to our bedroom door and, carrying your little Maggie dog, you ask, "Can I come and cuddle you?" And my heart nearly explodes every. single. time. Your smile and your laugh are contagious and you love to tell jokes to make others burst out laughing alongside you. You are mischievous in all the right ways and the best friend and brother to your Owen. School this year was an utter blast. Everyday at pick-up you would exclaim, "I had such a GOOD day!" and show off the stamps you received from Mrs. C for listening or being a helper or just for being a kickass little kid. There were travels this year to California and Maryland to see the nation's capitol and lots of visits with family and friends and then there was your epic first trip to Disney World! Your favorite toys are transformers and legos because you love to take apart something and build it back up or configure it differently and you are always excited to try a new food or meet a new friend. I often think about how I want to live my life more like the way you lives your: curious, playful, non-judgmental, in the moment, and with magic in your eyes! Happy Birthday, Henry you our everything to us love ~ Mom and Dad

Another summer list item

Last year getting out with two littles into the city seemed a little much for this mama so I promised David that this year we would make multiple attempts at lunches with daddy. Today's first venture out proved that the kids are at an easy breezy stage. We dropped Henry off at camp (more successfully than any previous day with minimal tears at transition time) and then Owen and I walked to a nearby T stop and hopped aboard. Mesmerized by the subway, Owen talked all about the view and people holding the rails so as not to fall over. Once above ground, we spent most of the morning meandering around the Boston garden watching the ducks and enjoying the shade. On a whim we were able to sneak in a coffee break with our friend Lauren! My only wish was that we had more time with her to really catch up and then it was off to lunch with David and a toe-dip in the fountain. We grabbed a train back and Owen fell asleep for Henry pick-up. And because we only get 18 summers of our kiddos being our "babies" tonight we are off to swim because I just want to have the best of times with these two minions of mine and their daddy-o!

UPDATE: Henry finally had a fantastic day at camp!! He swam, did the back float, used a barbell floatie, had a hot dog and popsicle and came into the car smiling. HOORAY!!!

P is for Potter!

It might only be about two weeks into my new craft, but I am completely smitten by it all. Less than two miles from my home is this tiny white antique home whose first floor is entirely dedicated to pottery making. I ran by this little quaint home so many times when I was training for my half-marathon this summer and always wondered what exactly went on in the Center of Arts. When researched, it became clear that this little home was the cultural center of our town where kids and teens and adults flexed their creative muscles in classes from watercolors and acting to wheel-throwing. Immediately, I was intrigued! Could I take a class here? Could I make it work within the busy schedule of a full-time working mom? While the idea flirted about in my mind for months, it never felt like it would really work out. Between grading and little ones and wanting to connect with my hubs, when would I hone a hobby? Then on my 33rd birthday tucked into my birthday card, David smiled as I opened the piece of paper that said, "Surprise! For the next 3 months Tuesday nights are YOUR night to get creative, meet new people, and make new things." It was awesome!

David is the king of hobbies and interests. He always has something cool cooking in his head from bread baking to the guitar to programming arduinos and chess, he is never short on ideas on how to hone his mind and entertain his spirit. I on the other hand have major struggles in this department. When we were dating, we googled "What are people's hobbies" to help me look through an extensive list of what people get into in case there was something for me to get behind. I chose knitting and while that was fun, I suffered from narcolepsy whenever I settled into an afternoon of knitting and purling. Maybe it was too relaxing? Maybe I was not really ready for hobby and my body was like, "What are we doing something for ourselves...shut systems down!" It only lasted a season. Then my free time was mostly being a teacher. There is so much to bring home when you are a teacher that nights can easily be consumed by lesson planning, curriculum development, and grading. Oh, the dreaded pile of grading! Then came the babies and I was doomed to lose sight of creative exploits that I had yet to even really grasp.

Now that Owen is closing in on that two year birthday and Henry is 3.5, things just feel really different. We are all sleeping, they are eating well, and are so easy these days too. They play and pick up and go and life just feels lighter. My mind is so much clearer as it no longer is consumed with baby-logistics like: When will I breastfeed next? What do I need in my diaper bag? What toys and gear should we have? Where will the boys nap? How do we get home in time for naps? Do we just do a car nap? When will I cook dinner? How will I fold laundry or take a shower? Our routine these days is so simple and easy and I just love so much this stage of life. It literally feels like a light has switched on and I am able to look up out of the trench of early motherhood and look around a bit.

So getting that gift certificate to become a potter was the most exciting thing! On Tuesday nights, I kiss the littles and hold tight to David for a moment longer before putting on some cozy clothes and a pair of clogs (for some reason, I feel like as a potter I should wear clogs), and head to class. What I have learned so far is that I have a deep, deep need to be teacher's pet. I also have false expectations about how easy it should be. When I made my first misshapen pot and beamed with pride, I turned to the woman beside me and saw her perfect Roman vase and thought, "damn this is hard stuff." But I find that while I am not a prodigy of pottery, I am loving to learn and learning a lot from being a student, from being vulnerable, and from taking this risk on my own and going way out of my comfort zone. I have never been a maker but have secretly always wanted to make. I am hoping this journey teaches me how to make mugs, plates, and bowls but also how to have fun, learn a craft, believe in myself, learn a new discipline and a new patience, and build a long commitment to being a potter. I have this fantasy too to replace all the mugs in my house with ones I have made. So, if you would like me to make you something drop a line below because I am planning on going through all the clay in the studio and would love to share my misshapen (maybe one day shapely) creations with you too!

Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier. Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow's milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David's reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from "woe is me" to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David's procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, "hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?" There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found.....nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren't women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons' love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don't need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons' eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

My mysterious "illness"

Since Owen stopped nursing, I have had a mysterious illness. It doesn' happen everyday so sometimes I can forget about it. When it does strike it feels super unsettling. In the middle of class, sometimes while driving, or when sitting on the floor doing legos it can hit me. Then I worry. What exactly is wrong? Is this seemingly odd and small and not always occurring phenomenon something much more serious? In the first few weeks of post-nursing life back in April, I just shrugged it off and said it must be that "nursing sickness" that mommas talk about. A lot of the signs were there. But, now I am 6 months out and still get shaken by it, so maybe it is something else? What does it look and feel like? Intense dizziness, a feeling like if I don't sit down I will pass out and faint, waves of nausea that are so bad I run into the bathroom to get sick, heart palpitations at times, the inability to focus, and vertigo that has me brace against a wall or sit down as fast I possibly can out of fear.

When it hits, it lasts for a few days. Then it disappears and I forget I ever felt this way.

You might be thinking, why don't you see a doctor? Well, I did and I do. In April, she tested a lot of hormone levels thinking it might be connected to my cycle and my body coming back to "usual" after having kids and nursing. Over the summer, she checked my thyroid and blood sugar, kidney and liver functions, all my metabolic numbers. This fall it has been my blood pressure (which is low! but maybe that is normal for me?), more checks on my glucose for diabetes or hypoglycemia another round of thyroid blood work. I have been checked for lyme disease and lupus and even rheumatoid  arthritis (although I don't feel achy in my joints?). There were more tests of my lady hormones and everything came back "normal." Which is great! I am glad that these things are good and healthy but saddened that we still don't know what it could be. The best way to describe it is when you have had TOO much to drink and lay down and the whole room spins out of control but this time around I am not drinking. Now I am waiting to see a Neurologist in December to check for these tiny crystals in my inner ear that might be floating around causing this acute vertigo and/or I am sure they will check for other things.

There is also a chance it might be connected to my diet (as in I may have food allergies which is not uncommon in my family). So I am starting something as a test between now and the new year to see if things change since I have a long wait for my next medical visit. Maybe this is all hocus pocus at this point but at least it feels empowering to be trying something that if nothing else will be benign and might give me some relief from these feelings that make me feel like I am simultaneously pregnant and drunk (and don't worry I have peed on so many pregnancy sticks + the vasectomy that it would be a true act of God to be that). This is the point of the story where you may choose to stop reading if you would rather not roll your eyes at all the "crazy" pseudo-medicine/science I am going to try!

  1. In the morning I have started to dry-brush before hopping into my shower. What is dry brushing? It is exactly what it sounds like, you take a brush to your dry skin! You start at your feet or hands and slowly make your way up towards your heart. I have actually really enjoyed this process so far. Some mornings when I am particularly bleary-eyed, I struggle to remember this step to my "new routine" so leaving the brush out on the counter has helped jog my tired mind. It is a nice little way to check in on the body and slow down before the morning rush. Supposedly, it can help your lymphatic system, clean your pores, boost your energy, and, if nothing else, it helps to exfoliate.
  2. To support the gut which might be the cause of all these weird troubles, I am taking a probiotic. This might be the easiest step to include because I just take it along with my vitamin.
  3. I am going to slow down on the high impact exercises and take some time to revisit a more slow-flow form of yoga. Feeling literally out of sorts doesn't seem to jive with high intensity work that might leave me even more light-headed than I usually am. So instead, I am going to slow things down but increase the consistently on some yoga and some pilates to help me focus, breathe, and stretch.
  4. And then the diet....So sad to say goodbye to sugar before the holidays but I think to see what is going on I need to start embracing a more limited sugar and limit my gratuitous carb diet. My doctor is flirting with the idea of food allergies and sensitivities so I imagine that needing to eliminate foods will be soon my reality anyway, so I might as well choose to start this work now and see if I notice any changes over time. (And that means limiting my caffeine too...saddest part of all).

Keep your fingers crossed and definitely let me know if you have felt these things too. I am hoping that by the end of December, I will have some good things to report back on.

Summer plans 

We have been busy. The good kind (mostly). It has been hard to find a minute to really talk about it but now that I am stuck at the airport for 12+ hours I can commit some to writing. It is a much better use of my time than the wallowing I want to be doing in a corner!  A week after school let out, we packed up the boys and hit the road. It was the LONGEST road trip we have ever committed to since having Henry three years ago. To say I was nervous is an understatement. Owen is not a fan of car drives over twenty minutes but he actually did really great! There were some intense moments but we made it to and from Washington D.C. In one piece and had a really great long weekend visiting with grandma and grandpa. The weekend started at the udvar hazay space and air museum and it took us to the natural history museum and Annapolis. It felt so good to travel with the boys, to hug family close, and to see new sights. 

Once we unpacked our suitcases back home, it was time to greet mom-mom and pop-pop for a week long visit for Henry's birthday. We were able to show them our new home, play all day long with them, and celebrate Henry's birthday! We ate a ton of ice cream, played in waves at the beach in Gloucester, and explored Boston. The boys were great at being packed up for a day and adventuring with their grandparents. Henry's birthday was also so special. How is our big guy three years old already?!?! It just boggles my mind. But he is so so sweet and independent and chatty that I just love him this way. For both trips he just kept telling everyone he loved them and my heart sort of exploded from it all. It might not be easy changing up routines with littles but it is worth every precious memory!

Now, for trip three. I am trying to head to a girls' weekend (my first time leaving my little family in three years). After leaving Boston at noon and traveling to Newark on my way to Madison Wisconsin, I got stuck! The flight was eventually cancelled officially at midnight and I high tailed it to a sleepless night at a nearby hotel. Currently I await the opening of the promise land (Starbucks) at 4:30AM and I hope that I make it to Madison to soak up some time with Kaelin and then that the flights home go a bit more smoothly. The biggest take-away so far from this trip: thank goodness I randomly changed out of my contact lenses and into my glasses before checking my suitcase & thank goodness for that half-marathon training. I had to run through two terminals in between two gates and two shuttle buses trying to find some alternative route out and I was not winded. So there was something good about all that! See you in Madison....hopefully. 

summer family visit
Four months was too long between our family visits!! The last time we were all together in one place was back on the family Disney Cruise vacation in March. Now here we were in August finally reuniting and welcoming a new member into our family fold, Mr Henry! Jessie and the littles arrived first on Wednesday night, followed by my parents, and lastly my brother joined the group. We had a week together to connect, share, love, laugh, and explore. It went by in a blink but while we were together is was a perfect visit. Watching the littles play with Henry was heart warming. They were so interested in him. It was clear that they would be even faster friends once Henry is a little older to play with them more. We played hard in the mornings at home and went out on little outings during the day and relaxed together at home at night. It was a sweet visit and I am truly looking forward to our next one in December for Christmas (although, I am sure there will be many Skype sessions in between).

Hanging out in our pjs at home were some of my favorite times. The littles and Henry played, and played and played and the adults watched, joined in, and connected with one another over coffee. It was mellow but exactly what we all needed.

We spent a beautiful evening at a nearby park when the air was cool and crisp and then planned our next day to be spent out at Belkin Family Farm in Natick where we picked nectarines and apples and explored the property together. It was a great excursion for us and the littles who were so interested in picking fruit and tasting it straight off the branch.

 

nursery tour

With only a few weeks to go until the little man makes his arrival, we finally have our nursery completed. It is one of my favorite spaces in our home, which is probably a good thing since I imagine we will be spending a lot of time there comforting, playing, feeding, and cuddling the little baby. In the beginning, the little man will sleep in our room in a bassinet next to  our bed. It will just be easier to have him close during that time when his sleep and eating habits will be more unpredictable and on demand. But, even though he won't be sleeping in his darling little crib, I am sure we will be in his room to change him, to play on the elephant mat together, and to rock him. All of his little things are sweet and precious and I find myself going into the room to sit down and just exist in that quiet space (which will very shortly not be a quiet space any more!). Everything in there smells like baby and feels so warm and welcoming. It is amazing to think that we get not to only meet him soon but love him and parent him! It is truly surreal.  Bella and Buster have started to spend some time in the room too. We want them to be familiar with all of the stuff before the baby arrives. Of course, we monitor them while they explore his toys, the chair, and try desperately to chew on his elephant stuffed animals. It will be hard for them to restrain themselves from just thrashing the stuffies to bits but David has been working on it and there seems to be progress.  They can now go into the room and just hang out without frantically going after the toys = progress! I am sure things will change once the little man arrives and piques their curiosity but I am excited to watch them sniff, love, and protect him. It will be fun watching the little man grow up with the pups and romp around the house and yard. So even if the beginning months are challenging balancing all of the family needs, it will be well worth it I am sure. When we started to put the room together we had one wood dresser. It had been our first home purchase when we moved in together in Boston. It is funny how when you buy a large item for one purpose you cannot image how it will be used in the future. We moved David's clothes out of this particular dresser and moved it into the baby's room. Since this piece was an oak color we decided that instead of painting it, we would stick to furniture of a similar hue and add color through linens, paints, and details. The major colors in the room are: blue, grey, and yellow. We wanted the room to be soothing on the eyes but not cold and I think we were able to meet that with our choices.

Here are some of the nursery room details

The changing table is part of the Kendall Collection from pottery barn. We picked it because we felt it was almost a match to the dresser we already had in our home. We were not huge fans of the knobs that came with the dresser though. So we headed to Anthropologie and found these little owls to replace them. The prints on the wall above the changing table are from Aldari Art on etsy.We wanted to add a little bit of color but didn't want the room to become to overstimulated. Her animal prints are just so cute. They are one of my favorite details! His little hamper with the raccoon bandit is from the Container Store (one of the best stores! I could get lost in there for hours). And, on top of the dresser that we already had, we placed a  basket we received from our baby shower filled with burp cloths and bibs and a little dumbo and his mother stuffy. My mom and dad gave us the dumbo toy. When I was little my nanny would pretend to be Dumbo's mother and her arm would be the trunk. My brother and I would sit on her arm and she would swing us back and forth singing the mother's song. This toy is a beautiful reminder of my nanny and how lucky I was to have her in my life when I was growing up and until just last year. Though she will not meet our little one, I know she is still with us.

The yellow bookcase was a recent purchase. We started to receive all these great board books from family and friends and did not have anywhere to put them. We didn't want to add another piece of heavy furniture to the room and then found this quirky bookcase "manger" from Land of Nod.

When the little man's crib arrived, David and I would go into the room and ask, "And who will be sleeping here?" Seriously, how is it that we have a whole room set up for someone we don't know yet? I still cannot believe we will be having a baby!  But, the crib is definitely proof that BIG changes are coming to our family. And if you couldn't tell already, the baby's room has an elephant theme. From sheets, to mobile, to stuffies, to quilt, he will be surrounded by his elephants while he is ushered to dream world (where he hopefully stays during full nights of sleep, fingers crossed!)

Ah, and then we get to my absolute favorite piece in the nursery!! I just LOVE this glider from Target. We were on the fence for awhile about whether or not we needed a glider.  Obviously it would be great to have to rock him to sleep, but there was no guarantee that he would (a) like it or (b) use it for very long. Despite these doubts we pulled the trigger and invested in these two pieces if for no other reason than to have a place to put your feet up after a long day! And with the chair we added an ottoman pouf from Aletafae on etsy. It just arrived today and it is AMAZING!

So now we wait, and wait, and wait. This is by far the hardest part.  The pregnancy has been easy but this waiting for the last few weeks and waiting until he is ready to join us is so difficult. I know that the longer he stays put and stays closer to his due date the better, but I just want to meet him and kiss him SO badly. I already love this little person who I haven't met yet! At least now, while we experience this wait we can relax a little in his room!

favorite blogs

Two years ago I read an article about mommy blogs. The details of the message escape me know, but it generally discussed how mommies were filling the blogosphere with pictures of their babies and daily life. It suggested that in some way the "perfection" that was captured harkened back to the 1950s cult of domesticity.  The women were depicting themselves as modern, chic, and completely put together while they toted their little ducklings, all impeccably dressed, behind them. Not only did these women find time to care for their little ones but their pictures suggested that they showered and had time for themselves too! Plus, they were engrossed in passions and hobbies from fashion, to cooking, to interior design, to homesteading. I remember the article's perspective on these women was a bit negative. It seemed to suggest that the "we have it all" motif of mommy bloggers was deceptive to "real" women. Curious about these reflections, I went on the hunt for mommy blogs. While I agree that sometimes the mommy blogging world can on the surface seem serenely perfect, overall the mommy blogs I started following two years ago (and continue to be addicted to) share not just those "perfect" moments when motherhood, individuality, and passion intersect but the moments when parenting gets the best of you and when getting into bed early in order to end the current day feels like the only option. I guess it is this side coupled with the beauties of motherhood reality that make the mommy blogs so compelling to me. I want each of these women to find "success" in their lives and to feel "successful" as parents (clearly knowing that this is defined by each individual). I root for them and enjoy their insights and somehow find their advice to be  helpful. In some ways, I try to model my blog after theirs, but each of us has our own voice, perspective, and focus in the world. Regardless, I thought I would share the blogs that I follow on a regular basis because really I like these women.  They are pretty great in their own corners of our world.

Bleubird

LoveTaza

HeyNatalieJean

OhDearDrea

OhJoy

HeartAndHabit

CampPatton

SouleMama

EatLiveRun (not a mom yet....but about to be)

KendiEveryday (not a mom, but I check out her fashion quite a bit)

third trimester "to do list"

Whenever I get nervous or overwhelmed my go to is to create a "to-do list." I know that it is a little weird but it just helps me to organize the chaos around me and helps me feel productive.  With the list in hand, I can believe that one by one it will all get done.  Yesterday, was an overwhelming day as I watched my April calendar go from manageable to overcrowded. Taking a few minutes to myself, I decided it would probably be a good idea to think about creating a third trimester to do list. The school year will inevitable throw me a curve ball as the final months wind down, but somehow this seems natural and non-intimidating. However, this baby business is just so new to David and I and, even though many of our loved ones have given us great advice, until we walk through this experience we just won't really understand how dramatic the change will be. Fingers are crossed that this "to do for the countdown to baby" helps us stay focused and as stress-free as possible as we inch ever closer to his arrival.

Third Trimester: To Do

Finances & Paperwork:

  • Continue to budget for Baby

  • Life insurance/Create a Will

  • Put money aside for Hospital Bill

  • Update 401K plans

  • Put baby on Healthcare

Preparation:

Getting Close:

  • Create Birth Plan/Birth Preferences

  • Get Breast Pump prescription

  • Install Car Seat

  • Pack Hospital Bag:

    • Insurance information, hospital forms, birth plan, picture ids

    • 2 pairs of socks

    • robe and loose pajamas (2)

    • Underwear and maxi pads

    • flip flops

    • sweater/sweatshirt

    • Extra towel

    • Pillow

    • Tennis balls (2)

    • Snacks

    • Bathing suits

    • Comfortable shoes (slippers?)

    • Maternity bras & nursing pads

    • Lip balm

    • Toiletries: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes, shampoo/conditioner, soap

    • Eye glasses and contacts

    • Cell phone and charge

    • Camera

    • Sugar free sucking candies

    • Small bag of change of clothes for David

    • Comfortable going home outfit

    • Nursing pillow

    • Coming home outfit for baby

    • diapers, diaper cream, wipes

    • Blanket

    • Pacifier

    • Hat

    • Scratch mittens

Sheesh this is a long to do list but somehow getting it down makes it seem more manageable even though it takes a few scrolls to see the list in all of its beauty.  Can I ask if I am missing anything?  What did you or would you include for a hospital bag?  Any additions I should make?  Let me know what your experiences with the third trimester have been like because I am SO open to suggestions!

goodbye second trimester

Gosh time is flying by!  I cannot believe I am finished with my second trimester. It truly feels like just yesterday we found out the happy news that we were expecting a little one and now there are only 85 days left until his estimated arrival. Ironically, it somehow stills feels like the end of the school year is a long way off.  How can it be that the end of the school year feels so distant yet the arrival of our little  one (which is for the same time) feels imminent?  David and I start our Natural Childbirth classes on Sunday.  Things are starting to get very real! I am super nervous about the class. I hope that whatever they teach us can actually be applied when the moment arrives, but I guess there is really no way of knowing, right? DSC_1110

The second trimester has definitely been my favorite so far. I have felt energetic, playful, and excited. Exercising and eating well have been my prerogatives and despite the one week hiatus on the cruise, I feel like I accomplished both mostly successfully. The baby is kicking up a storm these days and it is amazing to reflect on how the littlest motions of the early months, that felt like bubbles, have become much more prominent kicks. Sometimes you can even see the motion externally like waves on the sea. This is my favorite part. It is so cool to be sitting at home or at work and all of sudden see a stomach flick or twitch. I cannot help but smile and wonder what he is up to in there. David and I talk to him constantly and every now and then he responds with a kick.  Usually though when we place a hand on my stomach all of his activity quiets. I like to think that he feels soothed by this. Watching David interact with my tummy is so darn cute. I just cannot wait to hold the little man and see David hold him too. I definitely am enjoying this selfish period where I get the baby all to myself though.  All of his motions are mine, but it will be wonderful to share him with David in a few more weeks.

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This middle period of pregnancy has been interesting.  My body is definitely changing and it is clear that I am not just putting on weight but am pregnant. I have shifted up in clothes and cannot get enough of maxi dresses. It feels so nice to float around in mostly pajamas. My favorite maxi's have come from Destination Maternity and they are just so light and airy. Some other favorites include: Mustela lotions and my latest obsession for vanilla smoothies. What I love about this smoothie is that it is so filling. Usually after a full day of class, I rush into the lunch room and gobble up everything in my path. This smoothie though keeps me tempered and able to think about lunch before just shoving my face on to the plate. I have been spending time reading up on breastfeeding and baby sleep patterns and I find it to be quite an interesting lesson on human anatomy.  I keep stopping and reading a loud to David, "Did you know that the human body does...." Pure Barre is still my favorite exercise of choice and I am teaching Pilates this trimester at school in the afternoon program and bought some of the pure barre equipment for the girls. I am hoping to incorporate some of the exercises in for them.

The really big changes to daily life have included:

An epic appetite and insatiable thirst for water

A deep desire to nest around the house and prepare the baby's room

An ever growing tummy

A new need for foot and ankle rubs from David after long days at work

Constant motion from the little man, he is up to 10 kicks every 30 minutes or so

A lack of consistent sleep at night (I always seem to wake up from 2:30-3:30AM)

A bedtime of 9:30PM (at the latest)

A feeling like this is going to happen SO soon and I need to READ everything I can now!

A constant joy about this next chapter (with a little anxiety about the delivery!)

Goodbye to my second trimester.  You treated me well and helped me feel more and more like a mother-to-be. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the third trimester is not plagued with aches and pains.  Let's hope that the transition continues along this smooth path. And, as always I am grateful and thankful for my personal miracle.

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family celebration, vacation, and babymoon

Last week was a wonderful celebration!  My mom and dad invited all of us to join them on a Disney Cruise of the Caribbean for their 40th wedding anniversary. Planned a year in advance, it is hard to believe that we just finished this magical time together.  We were so lucky to partake in this incredible vacation and so lucky to be celebrating so many wonderful family moments. While on board we toasted to my parents and their beautiful commitment to one another over their many years of marriage, we sang happy birthday to Avery who recently turned three, we enjoyed being together as a family, and David and I enjoyed some quiet moments that we deemed our "babymoon." DSC_1145

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We boarded the Disney Fantasy at Cape Canaveral  and spent two days at sea while we cruised down to St. Maarten. The ship was just beautiful. Disney is known for its attention to detail and its excellent customer service and in both of these areas they again excelled. Our dining staff, Yanina and Kaya, became instant friends and helped make our experience truly magical. Each day aboard, we explored all that the Fantasy had to offer from midship pools, to Broadway shows, to character encounters with Avery and Smith and so much more. Ending each night in one of the rotating dining rooms with Yanina and Kaya, we would recap our adventures and dine on lavish four course meals. It was a vacation fit for a king and I am not sure how much of the weight I gained is from the baby-to-be and how much was from the extravagant meals!  Regardless, it was well worth it as we all settled in to life on the Fantasy.

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Our first port of call was St. Maarten.  Here we departed from the cruise itinerary and Bryan became our guide. Having traveled extensively in the Caribbean when he flew for American Eagle, Bryan took us over to Maho Beach best known for its picturesque beach, delicious beach side bar, and the low flying planes overhead!

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To be that close to planes landing was actually quite amazing.  The bar showed the arrival times and people lined the beaches and paused from their swimming to watch the aircraft land. It was so cool!  This topped with warm clear blue water made our day in St. Maarten quite special.

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Our next morning, we woke up in St. Thomas to yet another beautifully warm and sunny day. We left the Fantasy early and boarded the Kon Tiki Island Boat Cruise. While aboard, we sang, danced, and partied our way to an isolated beach where we spent the afternoon soaking up the rays, enjoying our time together, and just relaxing.

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Our last stop was Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. This island oasis was groomed in true Disney fashion. From their pathways, to the set up of the lounge chairs, to the island BBQ lunch, to the underwater reefs the island exuded care, relaxation, and fun. This was our longest day off the ship and we enjoyed every moment. David and I snorkeled in the morning.  It was so different snorkeling while pregnant.  At times, we would  be gliding along the ocean looking at schools of fish and then the little guy would move and bump and kick. I like to think all that movement was because he was enjoying the weightless swimming  in the sea. David and I would stop and say, "Wow so right now it is just you and me but very very soon baby makes three!" With only 88 days until the estimated date of arrival this trip marked our last vacation as "just the two of us."  Thankfully we had plenty  of time with our niece and nephew to practice a little parenting this past seven days =)

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But really just being together as a family made the trip so special.  It is sad being home now in that it is so quiet.  I keep expecting to see someone come around the corner to say hello or to ask us to run off here or there on the ship. I am so thankful for last week and I am really looking forward to our next family gathering which will most likely include baby-to-be!

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pure barre

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.51.07 PM Exercising has never been easy for me. I am definitely not a "gym rat." Talking myself out of exercising is my forte in fact. There is always something else that needs attention or somewhere else I need to go. It is funny though how once I physically get myself moving, I am often quite happy while exercising and extremely proud afterwards. Yet, my pregnancy was an excellent excuse to avoid exercise all together. The first trimester exhaustion wiped me out completely. Waking up was never more difficult than in those early months. Staying up for the full day felt like the hardest task. It was the type of exhaustion that I had just never felt before. It wasn't just a fog that descended over me but rather it was a wave that swallowed me up and dragged me down.  I did not even attempt to exercise then as merely making it through the day in one piece without putting my head on my desk and falling fast asleep was hard enough.

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Suddenly the wave disappeared and the "sweet spot" of the second trimester began. Not only was energy restored but in some ways I felt more alive than ever.  Perhaps it had to do with the extra blood and human activity coursing through my body! My initial exercise routine was to pop on some barre3 prenatal videos or a prenatal yoga video. While I enjoyed them, I felt that my body wasn't quite there yet. I still craved more activity that the gentle flow these videos offered. I am sure when I am at my most swollen state I will retreat to these prenatal standards again that offer their calm reassurance that everything will be okay and that your body is beautiful and doing exactly what it should be doing. For now though, I am just so excited that I can still move around, stretch, and do strength work at the pace I was capable of before baby (or a pace quite comparable at least). That's where my latest obsession comes in.

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Laura introduced me to PureBarre in Wellesley and I have gone multiple times a weeks since. At first the micro-movements were a bit difficult to understand. I found myself not quite accessing the muscles the instructors were indicating I should feel when I lift my leg like this or that. But, a few classes later I feel confident that I am doing it (mostly) right and am noticing a total difference in my mood, energy, and body image. Being pregnant is amazing but sometimes it is hard to look in the mirror and see a version of yourself that you are just not accustomed to seeing. Things shift and expand in places that were not expected.  And while I totally get that I am a child-making goddess right now, the post-natal me sometimes creeps in and says "Hey what will I look like?" PureBarre has helped me feel very strong as I lift weights, maximum my gluts, and do more and more push-ups. I feel more toned and relaxed about where my body is going and I feel more energetic and excited after each class. This was exactly the type of exercise I needed now and the type of exercise I have been looking for, for a long time. I am optimistic that I can continue taking classes throughout the third trimester as along as I don't get any aches and pains (and my midwife approves of course), and I am excited to have something to come back to once I am ready to exercise again after the little man arrives!

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four years.

I woke up this morning and happily welcomed two things about today: Spring Break begins at 2:15PM and four years ago, David asked me to marry him. Spring Break is clearly exciting especially as we have a BIG family vacation planned in 7 days {pictures and updates sure to follow} but this morning I am blissfully reminiscent of what happened four years ago. We had just landed in Rome and settled into our hotel. After a quick shower from the flight, we headed out to explore the area around us. Our hotel was located one block away from the Colosseum. The day was clear, bright, and warmish for March and we slowly walked up to the massive ancient ruin. David seemed quiet but I just thought that was due to jet lag. I started to share my nerdy love of history and that's when David grabbed my hand and rushed straight pass the Colosseum! He said he wanted to go into the gardens that dotted the hill overlooking the ruin.  A little taken aback that he would just "skip" the Colosseum for gardens, I followed along, besides it was his first time in Rome after all. We headed up to Appian Hill and then it happened, the proposal, the "Yes!," the tears, the joy, the hugs and kisses, and the "wow this is real!" It was wonderful and has been wonderful since.

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But this morning wasn't just about remembering that moment with deep joy and fondness, but David and I also spent time this morning reflecting on all that has happened in these past four years. It is amazing to see our lives in that moment and how they have grown and changed to today. We are just so grateful for each other and for the many blessings we have shared and continue to share on this journey together. He is my sweetest friend and I am just so happy to have such an amazing individual to share my life with.

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David & Melissa Zippin October 2010

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painting the nursery

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 6.33.26 PM While we have lived in our home for almost two years, we have not taken a paint brush to a single wall. The house was almost new when we settled in and the builder's cream colored walls have been "fine" for us until this point. I suppose part of our hesitation around painting has been deciding which colors to commit to. We are not in love with our current living room furniture, so can we really paint the walls now not knowing what our future couch will be like? This has been our typical rationale. Then we found out we were having a baby and everything changed. As soon as we heard the news, I turned to David and said "We should really paint the nursery don't you think?"  Surprisingly he agreed right away. We waited until we knew if we were having a boy or a girl and then decided to tackle the color game.

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Staring at shades of gray and blue is not an easy task. The nuance of color left us a bit confused as to what to select. Every time we were convinced we had selected our paint, we would look "one last time" and find another four paints that might be better selections. Too confused, I left the decision to David since in the end he would be the one actually painting the room. He selected three colors for the room that followed the concept of sea, sand, and sky. Early Saturday morning, David and Laura got to work on the baby room while I napped and ran errands. They worked efficiently and fast and just after lunch the room was complete!  Even though it is the only room with color on the walls in our home, I am totally in love the with space. Clearly, we need to add more color to the rest of the house now, but I am so excited to have the nursery painted so far.  Time to  just  sit tight until the little man arrives!

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