Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Eve Shananigans

Christmas this year was fantastic. Cole was so excited for all things Christmas! Photos of our celebrations to come, but first some videos of our Christmas Eve preparations:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

3 Things I'm So Proud of Me:

It's been a tough year.  We've had some ups and downs, and I had a bit of a hard time resigning myself to the year not turning out the way I had hoped and planned.  But even though there are a few ways I was disappointed, there are a few things I've done this year that I'm quite proud of:

1. Learning to cook.  I've always been a laughable cook, incapable of even cooking edible meals from a box.  One evening, about a year before we were married, I made Chris dinner:  I was making cheesy shells from a box (from a box!!), accidentally forgot about them, burned them, but thought if I just stirred it all together it wouldn't be noticeable.  Yup...Chris manfully swallowed his portion so as not to hurt my feelings!  But this year I made up my mind to learn to be a better cook. Truly, this is the first year I've felt I had the time to really explore the kitchen and practice, which has made all the difference.  I love finding delicious new recipes and I love being able to eat a homemade family dinner at the table every night.  It's a nightly state of pride and accomplishment.

2. Starting a (sorta) photography business. One of the best parts of being a stay at home mom (for me) is the predictability of my daily life.  Every day is pretty much the same, no big surprises or crazy kinks thrown my way.  I play and read with Cole, I unload and load the dishwasher, I sweep, mop, vacuum, make beds, do laundry, cook...and then do the same thing all over again.  Most days, this is comforting and wonderful to me - but every once in a while I get bit tired of it.  More than once I've complained to Chris: "Just once I'd like to do something and have it stay DONE, not have to do it all over again the next day!"  Such is the life of a mom, but I love it anyway. 

          But a lot of my hobbies have to do with creating something, just so that I have that sense of accomplishment to have something FINISHED and staying that way!  Photography is one of those things, for me.  I love creating something beautiful, I love the challenge it gives me to learn and improve.  I love having so many photo memories of my loved ones and I love the pride I feel when I take a really excellent photo.  So this summer when I realized I was going to need to keep busy for a few months, Chris suggested I do some photography - and I LOVE doing it!  It's so challenging for me to go out and meet new people and put myself out there like that, but I think it's good for me.  And the sense of pride in myself is doubled when I take a good photo and get to share it with my clients, who share it with their loved ones.

3. Being resilient. 

         There's something so empowering about making up my mind to change something or do something and making it happen. 

         When the ultrasound tech told me our baby didn't have a heartbeat and that it was possibly a partial molar pregnancy, I was beyond heartbroken.  I knew I would need time to grieve and be sad.  I knew it would be a long healing process.  But I also knew that I had some control over the process - that I could choose to be depressed and sad, or I could choose to be sad for a while and then count my blessings.  I could make a conscious choice and effort to find and do what brings me joy; to take time to be truly thankful for the family that we have; and to focus on helping others through our sadness.  I handled myself and the situation in the way I would want Cole to handle any obstacles and difficulties that might come his way in his lifetime.

           It's such a great reminder that even if certain things are out of my control (baby, moving, etc) there are SO MANY things that ARE in my control, that I can make improvements upon. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our house to yours, wishing you the happiest holiday season!

Monday, December 24, 2012

O Christmas Tree

It's no secret that I'm pretty picky when it comes to our Christmas decorations.

Everything has a specific place it needs to go.  THIS nativity goes HERE...don't dare put THAT decoration on THIS nail.

The Christmas tree is no exception. Seriously, if Chris helps me decorate it and puts on three ornaments, I will most likely move two of those three.  It has to be just right, you know what I mean? 

But one of the lessons I've learned since becoming a mama is to let things go.  To find the beauty in the process, instead of the outcome.

So when Cole was thrilled - THRILLED - to decorate the tree earlier this month, I took a deep breath and pulled out my camera.

I vowed to not move a single ornament he placed oh-so-carefully on the tree.  I photographed the concentration on his face, the thoughtfulness he put into hanging the tricky hooks on the branches.  I watched as he proceeded to put eleven of the exact same ornament on a single drooping branch and didn't remove a single one. 

I took so much joy from watching him, seeing him step back with a professional frown to check his artistry.  As he moved one ornament from one branch to another.

And especially as he ran to his daddy as he came home from work: "DADDY! TRWEE! COLE O-NAMEN TRWEE!"

so proud. 

My tree is decorated lopsided from the bottom third down.  The ornaments are crooked and clustered.  But I'll be darned if I touch a single ornament and erase even a second of that pride off my boy's face.

Some things are more important, you know?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Family Dinners

I think this might be my favorite part of the day.

Family dinners.

Growing up, we had a family dinner around the table nearly every night.  I didn't always love it, but I learned to appreciate it - and one of my goals as a parent was to continue the tradition.

I love every bit of it.  Making a homemade meal for us all to enjoy.  Asking Cole to help "set" the table (which means handing him the spoons, which somehow manage to get dropped on the floor at least twice, before ending up carefully set in their [wrong] place on the table).  Helping Cole climb up onto his booster seat so he can sit at the table with us like a big boy.  Telling Chris all the bits and pieces of our day while we eat our food, minus any distractions of TV or music.

Sure, it's a bit more work - a few extra dishes, maybe missing a favorite TV episode.  But it's all worth it to have our family's undivided attention on US.  To laugh at Cole's dinner antics of chewing his bread with his face all squished up.  To enjoy my glass of wine and conversation with my husband while Cole watches and listens.  He's learning that we value him, that we value each other, by having that time.  He's learning amazing table manners (he uses a napkin and silverware with better manners than many adults I know!).    

It's a huge change from the years of our newlywed days of take out, eaten on paper plates while sitting on the sofa watching TV...but I wouldn't change a thing. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Full Life

I found this about a year ago somewhere on the internet - it sure puts life into perspective, doesn't it?

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

               -source unknown

Friday, December 21, 2012

In grief

My sister (a brand new mommy) and I were discussing a few weeks just how easy it is to become overwhelmed with worry that something bad might happen to our children.  We each shared that we have had nightmares of kidnapping, drowning, childhood cancer.

For the most part, as a more experienced mama, I can put a lot of my worries to rest.  It's easy to brush off a fleeting fear of drowning, getting hit by a car, being kidnapped.  After all, I make a conscious effort to protect and teach Cole of these dangers.  It's not like I'm going to leave him unattended any time we are close to water, right?  Cole is super cautious already around cars - "HOLD MAMA HAND! CARS DA'RUS (dangerous)!"  He ALWAYS wears a helmet when riding anything with wheels.  We're already starting to teach him to scream and yell if someone is touching him or picking him up without his permission.  He eats healthy food and plays outside daily to protect his body from childhood obesity and all those dangers. I follow all the guidelines for protecting children from sexual abuse.  We own a safe car with the safest brand of carseat available.

I work hard to make sure I give Cole the tools and knowledge to protect him against all those dangers and fears.  I KNOW that it's not productive to simply worry without DOING anything about it.  I'm reminded of a friend who let her daughter outside to ride her bike on the street (without a helmet), then spent the whole time running frantically to the window to check on her every minute.  At the time, I thought: "Why not put her in a helmet, teach her the rules of the road and to be aware of cars instead of worrying so much?"  So that's what I do with Cole - I do whatever I can to give him the tools to be independent and knowledgeable with regards to the dangers of the world.

But try as I might, there are some things I simply cannot protect him from.  Some dangers, that no matter how hard I try, I cannot protect him.  I live in constant fear of Cole being diagnosed with cancer or another serious childhood disease.  I am petrified that we might have a fire and I can't get to him in time. 

And I can't bear the thought that my child might die in a place I thought he was safe - like at school. 

Tell me, what tools can I give Cole to help him in a situation like that of Sandy Hook Elementary?  How can I ever hope to protect him from a mentally unstable person wielding a semiautomatic gun? 

My heart is broken.

I taught first grade and kindergarten.

I was in lockdown situations in my school where someone came into the school with the intent to do harm.  I can picture the whole scene in my mind.

I can't bear to think of what those families are going through right now.

As always in such tragedy, I am overcome by a feeling of helplessness.  Helpless to protect Cole from such a situation.  Helpless to explain to him someday about such violence and evil people in the world.  And helpless to DO anything to help, to heal, to bring peace and comfort to those grieving in Newtown.

But there are others out there who feel the same helplessness and are working hard to overcome that feeling:

-Go here to find out more information about making and sending paper snowflakes to Sandy Hook Elementary.  The PTA would like to decorate their new location with hundreds of individual snowflakes sent to them from around the world, to bring a winter wonderland to the new environment.

-Ann Curry asked the world to perform 26 acts of kindness to honor those 26 lives lost.  What better way to bring love and joy to a country grieving such a loss?

-“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

- "Daniel Barden, age 7, was laid to rest today in Newtown, CT. He wanted so badly to be a fireman some day like his uncle and cousin, who his family said he idolized and who are firefighters with the New York City Fire Department. So, look who showed up today to honor him—hundreds of firefighters, in their dress blues, from the FDNY and all across the country."
                                                        via Facebook

-The father of Emilie Parker, who even in his grief is praying for the shooter's family:

-And lastly, this research article, written by a criminologist who shares proof that although it feels like our world is becoming more violent and dangerous, we are actually at the lowest crime rate in forty years.  A quote from the article:

"In the end, surveillance cameras and buzzers and locks and bars will never be as successful at protecting you as other human beings. Human beings who listen to those who are troubled, who provide support to those who need it, who reach out to the ostracized, and who lend a helping hand without being asked — those are the ones who truly prevent crime."

That, right there, is the most protection I can give Cole from the dangers of the world.  Be kind.  Be loving.  Treat others with love and tolerance.  Take care of strangers.  Make friends with someone who is lonely. Find a career that helps.  Do random acts of kindness.  Love.

Because love will triumph over pain and sadness every day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things Cole has told me he'd like Santa to bring him this year:

"Cole, what would you like Santa to bring you this year for Christmas?"


"Ohh, ok.  I'm sure he'll bring you a present or two.  What would you like in those presents?"


"Just presents?"



"Did you think of anything else you'd like Santa to bring you for Christmas?"

"What would you like?"


"Another sock monkey?  You already have two!"


"ok, sock monkey.  Anything else?"



"Cole, you still want a sock monkey from Santa this year, right?"


"A tree?  Like a real tree that is planted outside?"


What I wouldn't give to have a peek inside his little brain just for a few minutes!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here...

Going to the Providence Festival of Trees

 Decorating the tree:
 Finding the Elf on the Shelf every morning (who Cole very creatively named, "Elf".  Much like the elephant he named, "Elephant"; the tiger he named, "Tiger"; and the sock monkey he named, "Sock Monkey").  We won't be letting Cole name our next baby, FYI.
 Driving around to see Christmas lights in our pajamas:
 Watching the first snowfall:
 Writing a letter to Santa:
It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We had our first real snowfall today - it was only about an inch, but Cole didn't care!  There's something so magical about kids and snow:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Five guys, one piano

Apparently, I have an obsession with people who gather around and play one instrument.  This is no exception to the awesomeness:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How We're Doing

How things are going around here lately:

1. Eating.  Oh my gosh, my child is an EATER!  I LOVE it!  I was waiting on pins and needles for the day when terrible twos would strike and Cole would refuse to eat - but that day has not, and I don't think it will, come.  Cole eats everything we put in front of him!  He still has a total sweet tooth, but he eats everything else with gusto too.  Some of his favorite foods?  Cheese, especially strong cheese like blue cheese (seriously, who eats straight blue cheese?  the stuff's too strong even for me!); green olives, crackers, and anything sweet - the kid has a killer sweet tooth just like his mama!

2. Having amazing behavior.  Not to brag, but my child is SO well behaved.  He's a great listener, he's quick to learn from his mistakes, eager to please, and we have never even had to resort to a time out.  Occasionally, he gets a stubborn streak about something ridiculous, but these moments are the rarity, not the normal.

3.  Being frickin' adorable.  Seriously, the things that come out of his mouth are to die for.  The other day, he insisted on wearing his backpack all day long.  It was all I could do to convince him to take it off so I could strap him into his carseat.  Literally the second we got home, he asked to put it back on again, then ran into the bedroom at top speed to "SHOW MIRROR PACK-PACK, MAMA! SHOW MIRROR!"

This last weekend, we went to a bagel shop for lunch.  Cole had brought his wallet along, filled with random old receipts.  When we went up to pay, Cole insisted "COLE PAY! COLE WALLET PAY! CASH IN WALLET!" And he very carefully extracted two receipts from his wallet and slid them across the counter to the employee, then proudly zipped his wallet and walked back to the table.  I just about died from the cuteness.

4. Speech.  Cole's speech has just grown by leaps and bounds this past year - it is so gratifying to see all our hard work start to pay off!  He's still extremely shy and very self-conscious about his speech when he's not around familiar people, but he is saying three and four word sentences around us!

Working on:

1. Making decisions and sticking with them.  We've had several issues with this - sometimes, Cole will be eating lunch and ask me for more milk, please.  So I'll get up, pour him more milk, bring him the cup...and he'll say, "NO MILK! WATER PEESE!".  So I'll go get him a cup of water...and he'll say "MILK PEESE MAMA!"  GAH!!!!!!  It drives me BANANAS!  Several times a day I will clarify with him: "Cole, is that your final decision? You may NOT change your mind!"  We've had this issue with talking on the phone, giving a good-bye high five to his BFF Declan, and seeing Santa Claus.  I'm hoping that if I stay consistent with reminding him that there are some things he is not allowed to change his mind on, he will learn to think his decisions through and stick with them.

2.   Being bossy.  My little mister is a bit of a control freak and likes things done a very certain way.  He's only bossy with people he's super familiar with (so, like 5 people), but it can be pretty rude.  We're practicing using manners and asking instead of telling - but I'm also slowly trying to help Cole realize that things don't have to be perfectly HIS way for them to be OK.

3.  Shyness.  Cole is still painfully, cripplingly shy.  This needs to be a whole post in its own, because it is such a tricky issue for me to deal with.  Fortunately, we know we have a lot of time to slowly work with him on overcoming and learning how to deal with his shyness, so we aren't too worried.  We're just glad we all have understanding friends and family who don't take it personally when Cole refuses to make eye contact or say goodbye.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party!

Thanks to Chris' mom, last weekend we had the opportunity to be child-free for a whole evening!  We kicked off the evening with a super fun Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, hosted by our dear friends Sean and Kadance!

Oh yeah...SO ugly! 
 Chris, Sean, and Adam - these boys kept us laughing the whole time!
 Jerry and Emily:
 Markie and Adam - can you believe Markie is due with their little girl any day now?! She's so tiny!
 Our host and hostess:
SO much ugly fun!
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