Monday, January 31, 2011

Grandma Turns 90

This past weekend S's maternal grandmother turned 90!  It is hard to believe that at the age of 33, he still has three of his four grandparents.  All three are now 90+ and are three of the most beautiful people you will ever meet :)   
This past weekend was all about Grandma E and her close family and friends (45 of us) gathered together to celebrate her glorious life.  
Grandma's life story is right out of a movie.  Born on a mountain side in Italy her father went to America to make money with the intention of bringing his wife and newborn child over as soon as he could.  Grandma and her mother lived with her father's parents and who were not kind to them at all.  Her father would send letters and money so that she could save up for their journey to America and his cruel parents would steal it.  They did not want Grandma and her mother to leave because they treated them both like slaves and would miss all that they did for them.  Grandma's mother had to make a secret arrangement with the postman to give her the letters in private and she secretly saved as much money as she could.  When they had enough, they snuck away and set sail for America.  Grandma came through Ellis Island at the age of 8 (we saw her Father and Mother's names in the Ellis Island log book for ourselves a few years ago) where she did not understand one word as they butchered her name and her hair.  It was then that she met her father for the first time and the family was finally complete. 

The Birthday Girl
Her childhood was not easy, being an immigrant but through it all she gained strength and grace.  She is one of the kindest and most intelligent women you will ever encounter and most of her knowledge is self taught.  She married Grandpa L, raised four beautiful girls, loved to read, was an avid gardener (would spend 6+ hours a day in the garden), was a good golfer and an amazing cook.  She has been married for over 70 years, has 11 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild :)  

This weekend we all came together for a festive luau to honor this beautiful lady.  Once the entertainment began serenading her, she got up from her walker and started to hula.  It brought tears to my eyes to watch her in her glory.  Then Grandpa L got out of his walker and took her in his arms and they danced around to the music.  It was one of the most touching things I have ever witnessed.  After it was all over, I went to her and gave her a kiss and told her how beautiful her dance was.  She thanked me and told me how happy she was that S chose me and how much she loved me.  She said that she knew from the minute S talked about me 12 years ago (without even meeting me) that I was something special.  Once she met me she pulled him aside and told him that I was the one.  I started to cry, hugged her and thanked her for being such an important part of my life.  She is a very beautiful lady, inside and out.
The night was truly magical.

The beautiful couple
Grandma and her Great Great Grandchild
Her gorgeous husband, Grandpa L
The Hawaiian Entertainment

Friday, January 28, 2011

Eating off Fancy Plates :)

A few weeks ago my dad brought down a huge box that had been in my closet at their house.  I cringed when I saw it (we are trying to downsize, not bring more stuff in) and slowly opened the box.  Inside was 1/3 of the "china" we had received for our wedding 7 years ago.  I looked at the many boxes and frowned when I thought about having to cram it into the already crowded China Cabinet.  That is when it hit me, why do people have "China"?  Especially people like me?  My "China" isn't even really china, we registered for very simple stuff because we were not "China" people.  So why not use this "China" as everyday dishes?!? 

This idea excited me and so I packed up all of my everyday dishes (a nice set that will go to the lake) and replaced it with our"fancy china".   This small change has made S and I so happy!  We love to open the cabinet and see these nice wedding gifts :)  It is nice to not have to wait for fancy guests for a reason to use these dishes that we LOVE. Another bonus is that our China Cabinet is no longer crowded (I also got rid of a lot of other items) which also makes us happy :) 

So what are you waiting for?  Why wait for strangers or fancy guests for a reason to use your "china"? Take it out tonight and dine in style!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Favorite Baby Signs

I have been signing with Lil C since she was 6 months old and though she doesn't always use her signs (she often cries out in frustration and then signs when reminded), they do make our lives a little easier.  She is good about telling me when she is all done, wants more, wants milk, is excited for her bath, something is too hot, sees a dog (or any other animal because everything is dog to her) and so many more.  My favorite signs are please, thank you and love and my heart melts every time she uses them.  She will now sign please while waiting for her milk, sign and say "tank you" when I give it to her and walks around signing love whenever she hears the word.  It is so darn cute and I can't wait until she signs love on her own.  I will never forget when Z did it unprompted, it was a very special night for S and I.

For those of you with little ones under 2, I highly recommend using Baby Signs.  There are many programs out there but we use this one and it works very well for our family.  Z is learning his signs all over again and he is Lil' C's favorite teacher :)  Signing is a wonderful way to help your young child learn to communicate their wants, needs and interests before they can speak.  It is scientifically proven that children who learn to sign usually learn to speak and read before their non-signing peers.  It is a jumpstart for language and a natural way for parent and child to communicate.  It is truly magical!

*This post was written from my own experiences.  I was not asked to review the Baby Signs program by the company, I just wanted to share our own experiences.  I apologize for all the amazon links, I can't get rid of them :)*

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Valentines Day Countdown

When searching for Advent Calendar ideas this past Christmas, I came across an idea for a Valentine's Day Countdown :)  We LOVE holidays and so this idea seemed like the perfect thing to perk up the dreary days of winter.  S has asked me to stop giving gifts on Valentines Day (I already had them bought, got them on sale after Christmas but will save them) and so this countdown is filled with activities and adventures.  I can't wait until February 1st!

Here is what each envelop says....

1.  Send your Valentines Today and read a Valentines Story
2.  Make Hearts :)
3,  Good Deed Day
4.  Candy heart bingo
5.  A Special Winter Adventure today with your family who loves you!
6.  Play a game with someone you love and a special adventure with mommy
7.  Write a letter to someone you love
8.  Valentines Day Adventure
9.  Call someone and tell them you love them
10.  Work on the Valentines Day Party
11.  Bake some valentine cookies
12.  Movie Night :)
13.  It’s a special day with two people you love!  (an adventure with Neene and Chi Chi :))
14.  Happy Valentines Day!!!  It is time to party with N, C and L!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Little Monkey Girl

When Z was born, S and I did the typical new parent thing and baby proofed everything.  The child was not even moving yet we had door covers, outlet covers, cabinet locks, gates and foam around our hearth.  This all turned out to be pretty unnecessary and over time things either broke or got put away.  Breakable items never needed to be put away and we became use to the baby who was more interested in his toys than the items in our home.

When Lil' C was crawling, we talked about baby proofing again but really didn't do anything about it.  Then she started walking and getting into everything.  All breakable items have been packed away, rooms have been gated off to our precious girl, almost every cabinet is now locked and we even need our door knob covers this time around.  She is into EVERYTHING and everything immediately goes into the mouth.  All small toys have been moved to Z's room and now that she is climbing...most small furniture has also been moved.  We have found her on top of the playroom table (more times than I can count), climbing up the stairs, moving chairs toward the counter so that she can climb up, climbing in and out of laundry baskets, trying to go downstairs (the one time I didn't have the gate across, thank God I caught her!!!!), playing in the toilet (2x), jumping on the couch and I am just waiting for that big thud when she figures out how to climb out of her crib.  She is our little monkey and like all little sisters, wants to do everything her big brother does.  He claps, she claps.  He shoots a basket, she shoots a basket.  He jumps off the couch (a big no in this house), guess who attempts this right after....

I am definitely getting my exercise with this child, especially when we are not at home.  She almost fell out of the cart the other day (now needs to be strapped in) and whenever we are at someones house I have to tail her the entire time.  There is no rest for this mama unless the baby is fast asleep :)  I try to stay one step ahead of her but most of the time she is three steps ahead of me!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Snow Day.....

Kids around here have had 1.5 days of school this week.  Between 2 snow days, MLK day and a delayed opening, it has been more like a vacation than a regular school week.  For our family, the snow day means another day at home while S works in the bedroom.  I love home days but this is the third day day this week so I am really working hard to stay creative and make sure that today is fun for all of us!

So far this morning we have made snowman pancakes, played little people, Lil' C practiced going up and down the little slide, we made obstacle courses, played basketball, watched the trash truck get unstuck from our snowbank and now they are watching a little dinosaur train so that I can sip some coffee and breathe :)  Later today we might play with ice (fun, fun), make rocket pops, have a dance party, work on our Valentines, play more bakery, make muffins and then we will have lunch.......;)

It is really hard on days like today not to count the minutes and want to scream from cabin fever (especially when Lil' C is whiney).  I have decided to put on a smile and try not think about the hours that we need to fill but instead I plan to sit back, relax and let my children lead me through this cozy day at home :)

 Everything has come out of the basement this week.....we can barely walk!
 playing bakery
 practicing the slide
 snowman pancakes
 b-ball :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lil' C's first Time out in the Snow

Lil' C didn't last long (she lost her boots when sledding down the hill with daddy) but it is a memory that I will never forget :)

 walking out with daddy
 what is this white stuff??
 Mount Z :)
What's left of his snowman
 Why am I so bundled???
Z is driving his "rocket ship" to the moon :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where in the World is Dumbee??

My brother in-law "Dumbee" (aka Uncle B) travels ALOT for work.  When my sister in-law was alive, he traveled 2 weeks out of every it is almost 3.  He use to travel to London (he is from the UK), the Caribbean and all over Europe but now he goes a little bit further.  He now frequents Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius (the island next to Madagascar) and other African countries.  He has many stories, some good photos and souvenirs but most of his time is spent working or getting over his jet lag.  The poor guy hasn't even had time for a safari yet :( 

This past trip before Christmas, "Dumbee" started sending postcards to the kids from his different destinations.  It has been very exciting to receive them and they have turned into the perfect learning experience for Z!  With every postcard we check out the pictures, read what B has written or drawn (he is an amazing artist), check out the postage and how much it costs and then get out the stuffed globe that Z has and find B's location.  The postcards hang on our fridge and Z and C love to look at them, carry them around and find where B has been.  I hope to take this interest a bit further and explore some of the cultures and habitats in these areas.  Z loves to learn about people and animals and this will be a great springboard.  B has promised to keep the postcards coming so we can look forward to more teachable moments in the near future.  Who knows, maybe B will end up living in one of these countries for a bit and we will be able to go on a wonderful adventure to see him :) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

This Is the New Year!

Connie over at the Young and the Relentless is going to think I am stalking her but I had to share this song too.  When I went onto FB to check out Ian Axel, I was floored to see how few people "liked" him.  Granted he is new to FB (myspace is more the place for musicians) but he is amazing and his music needs to be shared.  This song was so uplifting to me last week when I really needed it.   Z was unsure at first but the song has grown on him and now I think he will allow me to play it once and awhile (he is currently obsessed with "What I like About You" ;)).  

So listen to it and I hope it will make you smile :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

This Momma is Now Homeschooling :)

Well I am at least for the next 8 months ;)  I am not sure I have it in me to do it for the next 20 years like my mother in-law did!  For now, Z is now enrolled in "Adventure Preschool".  There are two students in this school (Z and C) and we are going to learn about anything and everything we want :)  Z and I made a list the other day of all of the wonderful things we want to learn about and I am busy planning out activities, crafts, games and trips around these topics.  It is helping to tap into that creative, teacher spirit that has been in hibernation over the last few years :) 

So what happened??  Well to make a long story a little bit shorter.....we are no longer satisfied with Z's preschool.  They have major communication issues (we dealt with this back when Z broke his leg) and are a bit apathetic to parent concerns around a certain child in the class who has violent outbursts and fits of aggression.  S and I felt that the classroom was no longer a place where Z felt safe (or we felt safe sending him) and after counsel with a child psychologist, a lawyer and family and friends, we made the difficult decision to pull him out. 

We did not want our son to be exposed to the violent behaviors and language coming from a certain student on our dime.  This is a private school and does not have the resources that are needed to deal with a child like this.  Z is the second child to be pulled out this year and the school seems unphased by it.  This child has choked (the little girl had red marks on her neck), hit, punched, kicked, tripped, told students that he was going to stab them until they were dead, told Z he was going to step on his head until he was dead and so much more.  He seems a bit unstable and I feel the school is doing the poor child a diservice by pretending that they can handle him when they do not have the services that a public school would have (guidance counselors, therapists, psychologists etc.).  I feel very badly for the child and his family and hope that when he goes to Kindergarten next year, he will get the services he needs.  For now, I don't need my child being part of their experiment to fix the child's issues with love.  They actually said that by surrounding this child by loving and caring children, they feel that he can overcome some of his challenges.  Well I am sorry but my child will not be one of those guinea pigs anymore. 

I could go on and on but I will stop.  It is time to put this entire thing behind me and focus on this beautiful gift I have been given.....the gift of time to learn and play with my children.  I know it won't be easy but I am filling our week with play dates, fun projects, play time, our music classes and adventures.  I hope you will come along with us for the ride :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our First Snow Day of 2011 in Pictures

 January 12, 2011
 Snow at 9am
Indoor Snow Fun
 The Indoor Snowman I made for S
 cuddling up with our snow books
Music Time
 Annie's Mac and Cheese...a family favorite (well except for Z, he doesn't like anything....)
 Painting Winter Scenes
 We used Salt to give the effect of snow
 our masterpieces
 game time
 playing with Z's BK hamsters 
(he got these in December and we made this house for them in December and he won't let me get rid of it ;)).
 Daddy takes a break from working
 Mount Z :)
 I remember when snow use to seem this deep.....
 Lil' C and I made apple muffins to warm them up :) 
 Our Snow words to go with our pictures

Snow at 2pm


The first of our many Home Schooling Days.

did I mention that S and I pulled Z out of school for the rest of the year??  

A Blog Post for another day.....oh the drama ;)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Power of Music

It is amazing how a song or jingle can generate so much emotion and bring back so many memories.  The other day I was in a bit of a mood (trying to get two kids out of the house when both are being disagreeable is a bit of a challenge) and was racing to our Kindermusik class.  About half way there, the song In the Summertime came on and I couldn't help but smile and chuckle.  A huge grin came over my face as I thought of my youngest sister K dancing around at my wedding.  This song was our favorite the week before my wedding and she dedicated it to me at the wedding.  As I listened I thought of that amazing and crazy time.  A tear came to my eye when I thought of how lucky I am to have a crazy and sweet sister like K.  Her gift to me for my wedding was to take the week off and work as my personal assistant.  She helped to keep me sane (it was tough at times) and we had a great time together.  My wedding was in Newport RI and my parents rented a beach house in Narragansett RI for the week of my wedding.  It was so much fun and I remember all of the times we listened to In the Summertime.  From that moment on, I was in a much better mood and I am sure my children were very thankful.

Later that day we were driving to the grocery store when an add for Fiddler on the Roof came onto the radio.  They played a snippet from Sunrise, Sunset and then Tradition.  The tears started uncontrollably flowing from my body.  I tried to stop them for Z's sake but couldn't do it.  I was sobbing and missing my sister in-law so very much.  Kiki loved the theater and acted in many local productions in the city she lived in.  The last show that we saw her in was Fiddler and hearing the music brought all of those memories back.  It is still hard for me to grasp that she is really gone.

Music is an amazing thing.  It can bring such joy and sadness to those who listen.  It can help to make you feel calm or pump you up for a good run.  Music is like a time stamp that helps us to remember certain events in our lives.  And now I leave you with a little pick me up, at least it is for me ;)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gifts from Lil' C

My precious baby girl gave me two gifts this holiday season and both were so very special.  This child is so connected to those around her, it was almost as if she had heard me when I asked for these two very things to happen around Christmas.

I had told S a few weeks before Christmas that I wanted to wean my little darling around Christmas.  She would be 14 months at that point and I felt it was the perfect time to finish.  My friend Sey and my sister L thought that this was a crazy time to wean a baby.  As my friend Sey said, "They suggest that smokers wait until the craziness of the holidays are behind them before they give up smoking, shouldn't you do the same with breastfeeding?".  I knew she was right and decided to wait until after New Years to give up the final feeding.

Well on her 14 month birthday (3 days before Christmas), I went into nurse my little angel and she flat out refused me.  It was as if she had heard my hope and decided to make it happen (or maybe she just wanted to end things on her terms ;).  Regardless, she refused me and never nursed again! 

Her second gift was the gift of sleep :)  I had told S that all I wanted for Christmas was to sleep through the night.  Guess who slept through the night for the first time ever on Christmas Eve????  Yes, can you believe it??  She didn't do it again after that but on Christmas Eve she gave me a full nights sleep.  I think she knew Santa was watching :)

Those were the beautiful gifts that my daughter gave me for precious gifts for her tired mommy :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Focus on the Family is Back!

Last year, Connie from The Young and the Relentless started a "Focus on the Family" feature.  Once a month she posted her family goals and encouraged others to do the same.  I LOVED this exercise but unfortunately due to all of the events that happened last spring, did not get to finish off the year.  I have decided that I want to give it a go again and hope to publish a new set of goals each month.  Here is what I have for January :)

Family Time
*Plan a family fun day
*2 visits down to S's family for much needed Mimi and Grandpa J time
*Create a Night Tree for our backyard animal friends to enjoy
*limit our TV time (we went from 0 minutes to a lot :()

Z and C Time
*create a daily schedule for us
*get outside with Z at least once a week
*Take them on at least one adventure
*plan some fun winter "lessons" for Z
*limit my computer time throughout the day so that I can focus on them

Momma Time
*Mom's night out at my friend M's house
*Start my workout plan as soon as C is sleeping better
*Sit down with my best friend La and plan some nights out and play dates
*Finish another one of my many self-help books :)
*Work on Lil' C and Z's baby books!
*Continue my Advent Letter project and random acts of kindness

Momma and Papa Time
*Start a evening Pilates routine 2-3 times a week
*Go on the date night that S planned for us as my Christmas present :)
*have our weekly budget meetings with a glass of wine

Home Time
*Continue my work towards becoming a "Rational Minimalist".
*Take down all of the Holiday Decorations
*Work on and stick to the grocery budget
*Continue to sell/donate all of our unneeded belongings
*get my sour dough bread starter going :)

Counting My Blessings
I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband and two wonderful children.  As we head into this new year I look forward to some quality time playing, laughing and enjoying each others company.  We have a busy and crazy year ahead with S's new company trying to get off the ground but I know that the four of us can pull together and get through it.  I love you guys!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our Family Resolutions

New Years Eve morning, we went out for a family breakfast and each shared our New Years resolutions :)  Here they are:

Z said that he wanted to "work" to earn money for a cash register by drawing pictures for people.

S said that he wanted to find more balance in his life and start living by the motto, "Work Hard, Play Hard".  Right now he just works way too hard :(

I said that I wanted to continue to work to find balance in my life by finding more time for myself, continue my quest to become a "Rational Minimalist" and help my family be as healthy and happy as we can be. 

Lil C said "glable able, lable bla dada".  We think that this means she wants to finally sleep through the night on a regular basis, grow the rest of her teeth in a painless way and not throw anymore temper tantrums :)  What do you think she said??

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Advent Letter Project Reflection

What an amazing month December turned out to be.  I had been dreading it for so many reasons but my children's love and enthusiasm for the holiday season and my Advent Letter Project helped to make the month very special.  I received many thoughtful and nice gifts for Christmas but the best presents I recieved were the notes, calls and comments about the 24 (actually it turned out to be closer to 45) Advent Letters that I wrote.  Each one was a gift to write and the reaction from them was so touching.  It made all of the time and effort that I put into the project worth it.

December was a trip down memory lane for me.  I allowed myself time to recognize those important people in my life, remember all of our good times together and reflect upon why they are so special to me.  Most of the letters brought me to tears as I wrote them, many led me to chuckle but each and every one was written from the heart and I know that the recipients were deeply touched.  I am not yet done with the project, I have a few more letters to write and plan to do one a month throughout 2011 :)

I want to once again thank Jabari for his beautiful book which inspired me to create this project.  I want to also thank my husband S for all his patience and support throughout my letter writing and most of all I want to thank all of the recipients for the thoughtful and loving responses and for helping to make me the person that I am today.  I love you all!

If you would like to learn more about my personal project called "Advent Letters", please click here :)