Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Live


Yesterday, we started our Christmas Tree Adventure Tradition!! We took the kids to a local tree farm to chop down the perfect tree for the holidays!!! Growing up, my family always had a live tree. We would go with our cousins and spend hours searching for the perfect tree until we were frozen and then my Dad would chop down the biggest tree we could find. Then he and my brother would drag it miles through the woods and rig it up on top of the car and pray we made it home without the tree flying off. And most years we did, but one year it went flying down a main road!! It was so bad, but so funny!!!! Every year was the drama of dragging the tree into the house. It NEVER looks as big in the forest as it does in the house. But, after some negotiating my Dad would get the tree through the door and into a stand. Then it would take us days to decorate it. The tree would be so big that we couldn't reach the top so only the middle and bottom would get really decorated and then we would get so tired that my brother and I never wanted to finish. It was usually like a scene from "Christmas Vacation." But, those are the memories of Christmas that I treasure!! I loved those days of being bundled up in winter clothes and the thrill of finding that perfect tree and then celebrating with hot cocoa. And then the fun of watching my Dadgo crazy maneuvering the tree and rigging the lights - it was all part of the holiday magic!! LOL!!

This year, I am so happy that we helped our children make those wonderful memories too!!!

Since I married hubby we have had an artificial tree. He was used to that from growing up and he felt that living in an apartment as a bachelor it was easy to keep that tradition. When we got married he wanted to keep the artificial tree because it was easier, then when the kids were born he felt like it was safer. It seemed to make sense and our compromise was that I got live garland to put in the living room so the house would smell like Christmas. Every year when the tree would go up it didn't seem so bad and was sort of pretty. But, I still longed for that real tree!

Finally last year, we agreed it would be the last time for a dusty, fake plastic tree. And this year we would go LIVE for Christmas!!! I was thrilled to start the tradition with the kids now that the boys are old enough to help and have so much fun with the experience.

The kids and I did a practice run with my parents last week when we helped them get their tree. The boys got to help Papa pick out the tree and hold it while he sawed it down. Then they helped drag it through the woods. The boys and I sat in the back of the pick up truck holding the tree as we drove through the parking lot to get it baled, which was the highlight of their day!!! We had hot cocoa in the back of the truck too! Everyone slept great that night!!!

When we went for our tree adventure yesterday the boys were like pros!! They were bundled up and ready to go. They helped Hubby pull the cart, measure the trees, hold it while he sawed and carry it out! They were like little men traipsing through the forest with their Dad!! And our baby Princess loved it too!! She was having a fit to be left on the sidelines so I trekked through the forest with her in the stroller, not easy with tree stumps and rocks, but we made it!
We enjoyed cocoa and gingerbread cookies in the back of the Mom Mobile and then brought home our Christmas Tree to decorate it!! I was proud of how well Hubby did on his first run of Man vs Tree!! He was impressive with the saw andthat tree made it home on top of the minivan without moving an inch!! There wasn't too much chaos getting the tree in the house because Hubby outwitted that tree by using a tape measurer to be sure it fit. The tree stand put up a fight, but Hubby won!!

Luccio was really a stand out Elf this year, decorating the tree with a real sense of purpose!! I supervised all the activity and Hubby strung the lights. The lights were surprisingly easy to untangle which in itself is a miracle of the season! Cenzo was interested in unpacking the decorations, but didn't really feel like hanging ornaments on the tree, so Luccio pretty much did it all!! Isabella scooted around and found just about every chocking hazard she could get her hands on.

It was a great day! After the decorating was done, we sat and enjoyed pizza and looked at the sparkly lights while we watched the Rudolph movie. The smell of pine is filling the house and the green is so vibrant!!

There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of a Live Christmas!!
!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Search for Baby's Mama

Since becoming a big brother, Vincenzo has been fascinated with all things related to babies. He especially loves pregnant Mamas. Whenever we go to the pediatrician's office he takes the free copies of Fit Pregnancy magazine and leafs through looking for the perfect Mama for his future babies. He is always talking about wanting to be a Daddy. He wants to have 2 girls and a boy. He is going to name them Jamie, Caleigh and Vincenzo Jr. He looks through his magazine for the biggest pregnant belly he can find and says, "that is the Mama I want for my babies." Although he has his babies named, he is worried because he doesn't know what their Mama's name will be. He has decided that the mother will be like my Aunt Zhaz because she doesn't yell at her kids and she makes great snacks. (Good criteria, but made me think hmm...guess I'm not the role model mother!")

This week he told me he would like the Mama for his babies to be a tow truck driver. When I said to him, "oh, your wife will be a tow truck driver?" He said, "No silly!! I am not going to marry her!!! She is just going to be my baby's Mama."

OMG.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

That's Fitting

Everyone measures weight loss milestones differently. Some people use a scale, some can tell by the way their clothes fit. For me it's the bath towel. After I had my third child, the bath towel was fitting more like a washcloth. Now that I have lost the pregnancy weight plus 20 pounds, it fits more like a hand towel. It's more comfortable for sure!! But, there is still room to lose more so that it will truly fit like a bath towel should. I feel a lot better than I did last June. Joining Weight Watchers has changed my life in a lot of ways. I am eating healthier (my whole family is), I am moving more, feeling good. I ended October with 43 pounds less that the year before. 22 of those pounds I have lost through WW, learning new tools for success and going to the meetings has helped. But, for some reason November has been tough! I have gained .6, lost 2.8, gained .8, skip 1 meeting. I feel some of it has to do with the change from summer foods to winter foods. There isn't as much variety with fresh fruits and veggies and my standby recipes are not tasting as great now that it's cold out. There is something to be said for the simple yumminess of fresh tomatoes and basil! Another piece of it has to with Hubby working more hours which means less meals together as a family and less time for me to get to my meetings. Also, I have been nursing a little less during the day and I was relying on that instead of working out to burn calories. So I need to readjust my Plan a bit!

After a .6 gain and skipping last week's meeting, I had to work really hard to make myself get out of the house for my 8 am meeting this morning. I dragged myself there and knew that the scale would be up. I felt it. And it was. I gained .8. Amazing how 8 tenths of a pound can change your entire day, life even. .8, ughh!! I was ready to give up and wallow with a peanut butter cup. But, I sat and waited for the meeting to start and read the weekly booklet about making changes. I realized how much I have changed. I have still lost and kept off 41 pounds, I am making healthier choices and feeling like I have more energy. It was good to be reminded that life is small steps and choice and doesn't have to be all or nothing. I need to focus on the Big Picture!

At the end of the meeting the Leader had us do an activity where we stuck all of our name tags together in a pile. She chose me to take the pile of tags home for the week to symbolize the support that I have of all those other people to reach my goals!! It was so thoughtful!!! I felt like it was just what I needed today to get me re-motivated! The room was buzzing with success today. One woman hit her goal weight, another hit the 10% milestone and the guy next to me lost 76 pounds so far!! I feel like if he can accomplish that great goal, I can't let him down. I will do my best to stay with my Plan this week and to stay motivated to reach my goals!!
I will enjoy the holidays with my family and friends and I will enjoy the traditional foods and festivities. And now I will have a reminder with me of all the support that I have in making healthy choices!

I feel confident that I will fit into my bath towel again one day very soon!

The WW quote of the day was:
10% of Life is what happens to me. The other 90% is what I do about it.
-author unknown-

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Acts of Cleaning

In the beginning of September I implemented a Chore Chart, it has failed miserably. In theory it worked well...I would clean certain rooms on certain days of the week so that the housework wouldn't get overwhelming and laundry wouldn't pile up. A little each day sounded so much easier than trying to find large chunks of time to speed clean the entire house while the kids were entertained elsewhere (which was very unlikely to happen.) I decided some jobs needed to be done every day like kitchen, dishes, living room, toy pick up etc. And then I designated days for dusting, vacuuming, laundry, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc. On paper it was a good plan, great in fact!! But, it only lasted a week.

The first 2 days I cleaned the kitchen and living room and then moved on to the designated chores for those days. I cleaned for a couple of hours while the boys were at school and the baby napped in the am and then for awhile after everyone went to bed. On the third day Vincenzo didn't have school and followed me around while I tried cleaning, then I had to run errands outside of the house that had been neglected. I still cleaned up the dishes, toys and threw in a load of laundry, but the rest of the list was a washout for the day. On Day 4, I quickly realized that if you skip one day you have even more work on the list for the next. So basically I finished the laundry piles from the day before and moved on the the never ending dishes and eventually got around to throwing toys in bins. I felt great crossing things off the list, but I started skipping around to chores I liked and leaving rooms unfinished because I would start cleaning the boys bedroom and find something that belonged in the living room and then I would start dusting the living room and remember to put clothes in the dryer and before you know it, I was back to my old ways of housekeeping. Which is no plan. Random acts of cleaning.

So the Chore Chart went by the way of the laundry piles and onward I have gone. I try to speed clean in the mornings and after the kids are in bed at night, but it never looks completely finished. Especially with 3 Tornadoes trailing behind me. There is always one more pile, backpack, shoe, dish, something left behind. I feel like there must be an organized way to get things done. I used to work outside of my home and I was productive and actually accomplished tasks. I had a plan. I completed projects. Now, I have piles. Piles of things that need to get done and pile of things I wish I could get done. The Wish Pile includes organizing photo albums, writing thank you notes, going through the bill pile, etc. The Musts include: dishes, laundry, toilets. The essentials. I have tried getting the kids involved with helping. They get magnets on the Chore Board for helping clear the table and making their beds etc. It seems to work, they like the magnets, but you have to be really consistent in reminding and rewarding which gets hectic and Princess can reach the magnets now and is obsessed with putting hem in her mouth. So the boys follow after her screaming, "Chocking hazard!!!!"

I accept that housekeeping is not "my gift" exactly. But, I am hopeful that I can learn ways to fake my way through it a little better! I think since it's holiday time, it wouldn't make sense to overhaul my organization plan (or non plan) because it will go the same way the Chore Chart went. But, for 2011 I am going to put it on the Wish List to make a new plan. One friend suggested the website: Flylady.net It's a great site all about this type of thing. I have read it, but haven't had time to actually try any of the techniques. It's on the Wish List for now.

Basically what I am looking for is: A plan that allows me to have a clean house so that in my rare moments of free time I can relax and not be speeding around moving piles from place to place. A plan that includes being able to actually leave my house now and then to live life, but still maintain an organized house and smooth running schedule. I would love a way to keep dishes and laundry from piling up 3 or more times a day so that I don't have to feel like I am stuck in the Groundhog Day movie and doing the same thing over and over and over. And I would love it if the plan can include a way to figure out how I can spend time cleaning the house and accomplishing projects and THEN have it actually STAY clean for more than 10 minutes. Pretty simple, right?? If anyone has a tried and true suggestion that seems more productive than my Piling System, let me know.

In the meantime I have found some great quotes to comfort and inspire me (taken from www.quotegarden.com/housewrok.html)

You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping. ~Rudyard Kipling

My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint. ~Erma Bombeck

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. ~Phyllis Diller, Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints, 1966

Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don't do it. ~Author Unknown

There was no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse. ~Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, 1968

A clean house is the sign of a boring person. ~Author Unknown

We labor to make a house a home, then every time we're expecting visitors, we rush to turn it back into a house. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Mama

The boys are in a lovely new phase that I like to refer to as "The Threatening Phase." If they don't like what you are saying to them or don't want to do what they are asked, they often reply with a threat, "If you ask me to clean my room again, I will not be your friend." or "if you tell me to shut off that TV I won't like you anymore." The list of threats is endless. But, my favorite was this weekend I told them to get dressed and clean up and be ready to leave for a birthday party we were going to at Chuck E. Cheese. They were procrastinating and stalling and fighting with each other. And I was not happy with their behavior at all! Instead of getting ready as asked, Luccio said, "You are not going to be our Mama anymore. Daddy is our new Mama now."

My reply was, "Oh really? That's nice. Since your New Mama is staying home to clean today, I guess you won't be coming to the party with me and Isabella. Have a fun day!" And I started getting my shoes on.

Immediately both boys were like, "No!! We were only kidding! You are our Mama still. It was just a joke! Hahahhaha. We were kidding Mama! Isn't that a silly joke?"

Yeah. Hysterical.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

7 Years...

Yesterday My Sweetest and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary! Watching our wedding video has become a tradition each year and it always amazes me to see how much has changed.
We lost my Gram, Poppy, Grandfather and Hubby's cousin Clifford. Yet, we have gained Family. We have become a part of each other's families of parents and brothers and sisters in law, 4 nephews, 1 niece and my Nonnie. We are raising our own family of 3 beautiful children (and remember the 4 angels we lost.) We have been blessed with our Godson, Amadeo. We have our Home together. We treasure old friends and are making new ones. We have gained and lost several pounds each over the past 7 years. Currently we are on a losing streak with weight luckily! We have attended weddings, Baptisms and funerals for family and friends. We have celebrated milestones and holidays. We have gone on family vacations and road trips!! We have hit
rough patches and uncertainty. We have experienced the unexplainable joy of welcoming new lives into the world. We are not as young, naive or blindly optimistic anymore. We know that love, relationships, and family takes hard work, effort and nothing comes without challenges. But, we have learned to face those challenges and work through them together. We have learned to compromise, to communicate and to "go with the flow" a bit. And most importantly even when we are exhausted from the housework, the kids, jobs, bills, yard work, etc. we still try to make time for one another. And because
nothing says I love you better than a shared love of Project Runway, we make sure never to miss a chance to catch up on our fave shows together!
As our wedding song says, "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be..."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maya

Thirteen years ago today I became a foster parent to a newborn baby girl, Maya. I was 22 years old and an idealistic dreamer. I thought I was going to change the world one life at a time. I felt called to become a foster parent and luckily my parents were supportive of my pursuit. I was living at home at the time so it was important that they were open to the idea, since it was their house,LOL!! I have been fortunate that they have always supported me and given me the space and love needed to take chances however crazy it may seem.

It took several months to go through the interview and licensing process. There was lots of paperwork, fingerprinting, background checking, talking, and a home study. Finally, I was licensed and ready to go. It took nearly a year from that point before a baby was actually placed in my care. The agency was a non-profit organization that worked with birth mothers to help them find adoptive placement for their babies. Foster parents were usually only needed on a short term basis. The social worker told me to expect to foster a baby for anywhere from a few days up to 2 weeks. This was to give the birth mom a chance to adjust and change her mind if needed and for final paperwork to be completed before the child was placed with an adoptive family. I received quite a few calls throughout that first year. I would get all ready and then they would call back to say the baby didn't need a foster placement. Either the birthmomchanged her mind or paperwork processed quickly enough that the baby went straight to it's new home.

At 22 life can change rapidly in a year. So, I put foster parenting hopes on the back burner. I graduated college. And I joined a volunteer service corp. I moved into an apartment building with the 7 other members of the corp and I was placed as a volunteer teacher at a school for economically and emotionally disadvantaged children. I adjusted to life in a community with 7 strangers, kind of like the Real World without the cameras or the money! The program was in its early stages and our group was a bit of an experiment. We were given $100 a week to buy groceries and we each had job placements. We also had to fulfill community duties like planning social and spiritual events to build up our relationships. There were 3 women and 4 men, if you could call us that. We were goofballs really and so freakin' young, but anyway that is its own story! So I was immersed in life with my new friends and trying to figure out how to be productive as a teacher working with very challenging students. My friend, Ms. Meeghan and I were placed at the school together. It was a blessing! The apartment we lived in was 40 minsaway from the school. But, the school was just 10 mins. from my parents house. So we spent lots of time visiting my parents and letting them cook for us and relaxed there when we could.

So in the middle of volunteer community madness and challenges, I got a call at the end of that October. There was a newborn who needed immediate foster placement. And so began the "Maya Period" of my life!

I couldn't take time off from my community or my teaching job. But, I couldn't let myself turn down this baby! The religious leader of the school I taught in heard of the call and adamantlyexpressed her dislike of the idea. But, reinforcements came in the form of my parents and Ms.Meeghan. Together we worked out the logistics it would take to fully support the needs of this baby. And the social worker assured me it would be for just a few days.

And so I went to the hospital to pick up the baby. My parents came with me. The social worker thought it would be a good idea because the birth mom wasn't much younger than I was so she felt it would make a better impression to have older people with me. Whatever!

The first time I set on eyes on Maya was shocking. She was the tiniest baby I had ever seen( up to that point in my life) she weighed exactly 4 pounds. Her skin was dark, almost red and she had a mass of jet black hair. And she was screaming at the top of her lungs. This loud, ear piercing screeech!!!! I held her and she felt so fragile!!! Her head fit in my palm. She was 2 days old. And the doctor was going to release her to me. What had I gotten myself into??

We took Maya home. And she stayed, not for a few days, or weeks, but for 3 months!! The longest foster placement the agency had to date. So for the first week I thought "well, she will be going back soon, so I won't get attached." I am just babysitting. Well, my the second week I was in love, unconditionally and forever in love with that tiny little baby. It didn't matter that she had the worst colic i had ever seen, that she screamed nearly all night and most of the day. When she looked up at me with her jet black eyes, I melted. I had never loved anyone so fully and unconditionally as Maya, not until my sons were born 9 years later.

My parents, especially my father took care of Maya while I worked. Not many people beside my Dad could get her to settle down once she started screaming. He would walk her for hours, he would wrap her in blankets and sleep in a chair with her. He even filled soda bottles with warm water and packed them near her when she was sleeping in her moses basket so she wouldn't be cold or cranky.

She stayed with me at my apartment too and my roomies loved her and helped care for her. Especially Ms. Meeghan, she was so wonderful with Maya. I mostly took them up on their offers to help in the middle of the night when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and she refused to sleep.

But, during the day I was possessive and stingy with her. I held her constantly. Over winter break from teaching, I became even more attached because I was with her full-time. It got to the point where I couldn't leave her, I just didn't want to put her down. By that point she had started recognizing me and smiling and I would have gone to the ends of the earth for her.

Throughout the 3 months we got many calls and made many trips with Maya back and forth to the agency. First, birth mom wanted her to be adopted, then changed her mind, then back to adoption. She was a teen with 2 other children. She wanted so badly to keep her baby but it didn't seem feasible. The adoptive family had their hopes up and them dashed over and over. And then it seemed on Christmas Eve it was set she would go to her adoptive home. I had mixed feelings at that point. I had gotten to know her mom and knew she was struggling with the decision. I had gotten to know Maya and I was struggling with the idea of letting her go. And then in rode The Knight to the rescue. Maya's father was contacted to sign the paperwork. He hadn't known she existed and this knowledge changed everything. He wanted to meet her. So we went to meet him. He was torn. He knew she had an adoptive family ready to take her. But, in the end he couldn't let her go. After much thought and another month it was decided Maya's father nixed the adoption and took her home with him.

And that is when the hard part began for me. I had to pack up that tiny little girl. Well, she had doubled her birth weight, but was still only 8 lbs and so tiny!!!! She was no longer colicky and become a smiling happy infant. I packed up her clothes, the endless piles of clothes that my family and friends and I had bought for her. She was just the cutest baby anyone had ever seen. Her skin had lost that red and blossomed into a deep, dark chocolate. Her hair began to curl into the softest waves, it felt like feathers!!! And she was always dressed in gorgeous ensembles with matching headbands. She was a little doll. She affected lots of people. Strangers at the mall would even fuss over her and come up to talk to me about her and want to hold her!! My family members fell for her head over heels!! Everyone from my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins loved her. She got so many gifts that Christmas it was crazy!!!

The day before she had to leave I spent time finishing the photo journal I had made for her. And I held her for hours. I said goodbye and thought I would be okay with that.

The next evening my parents and I drove her to the agency meet with her father. I held her while she visited with her mother. Her mom was happy Dad was taking her, but unsure if she would see her. So it was a sad goodbye. She kept the journal I had made for Maya and was so grateful to have that memento.

I broke all the rules with the goodbye, I had written a note to her dad and tucked it in with her belongings. The social worker hadn't wanted me to give her clothes and things to the father, so I kept them in the car and asked him come outside to get them. I put my phone number in the letter so he would have a way to contact us if he had any questions. Handing Maya over to a complete stranger was heart-wrenching, even if he was her father. He didn't know her schedule, her quirks, the way she liked to be held, he didn't know she only liked to sleep while you held her or tucked into her moses basket. I wrote it all in the letter. I had to. I couldn't leave her with nothing.

I handed her to the social worker and she she would bring Maya to her dad in the other room. I had thought I would be able to hand her to him. The social worker thought since I had said goodbye to her I would be fine with it. Well, I wasn't. I freaked out. Not being able to see her with him sent me over the edge. I cried the entire way home and the whole night and the next day and the day after that. I cried until my eyes hurt and my head felt like it was going to explode. I cried until I was so sick to my stomach that I threw up.

And then he called. Thank God!! He had read my letter, he said he knew how much my family loved her and how we had grown attached to her. He thanked us for taking such good care of her. He said she was doing really well and that her grandmother was helping him take care of her and loving her so much. He said he found out quickly that she liked to sleep while being held and that she could be demanding in getting her needs met. But, he loved it!! And he loved her!!

And so that was that. I went back to work the next day. And back to my community and roomies. And days passed. And most days were ok, but then I would hear a song or see a baby or remember her smell and I would lose it all over again. And that went on for a few weeks. And then it got easier and winter turned to spring and I got more and more into my teaching. And life went on.

I would still pray to hear from her father again. But, I knew I wouldn't. The social worker had heard about our call and wasn't happy. She said further contact should go through the agency. She called me with another baby needing foster care a few weeks later. But, I couldn't do it. It was too soon. And too hard to lose Maya. So, I had to decline.

About a year later I was at the mall and I heard a man's voice. My neck snapped around and my ears perked up. I KNEW that voice. I saw the man and I KNEW that face. A face that will forever be etched in my memory. It was Maya's father. He was standing right in front of me. I don't know if he recognized me at first but the words were pouring out of me before I could think clearly and I told him who I was and asked him about Maya. He said she was at his mother's house close by. He took my number and said he would call me and if I wanted to visit her I could. I was ecstatic!!!!! He kept his word and called me the next day. He said his mom wouldn't mind if I visited Maya at her house the next day. Ironically, I happened to be leaving the next day to go to England with a group of friends. I told him I would be back the following week and could I see her then. He said yes and that he would call me. I didn't have his number and I never heard from him again.

And over the last 13 years I think of Maya every so often. Sometimes not for months and then something will remind me it will all come back to me again. Especially today, her birthday!

I watched Rosie O"Donnell's movie, America. It is about kids in the foster care system, it is heartbreaking.

My Maya was different than the kids Rosie was talking about, but still it reminded me of her. She was lucky. She didn't have to feel abandoned or unwanted. Everyone wanted Maya, her mother, her father, her adoptive family, my family, and me. She was loved. And now that she is 13 years old, I have to believe that she is still loved and living a good life. I HAVE to believe that!

I went into the foster parent endeavor hoping to change lives, but in the end it was Maya who changed my life and she will forever hold a piece of my heart.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Princess Party

My brother's fiancee walked in to Isabella's 1st Birthday party and couldn't get over all the Princess-ness of it all. She said she didn't realize what a big deal a first birthday would be. I had to laugh! I had just told Hubby as we were preparing for the party, that this was a BIG day for me. And for Isabella too of course. I have waited 35 years to celebrate my daughter's first birthday. From the time I could crawl I played with dolls and was always a "Mommy." And I always pictured myself someday with a baby girl dressed in pink and bows and tiaras. My boys were a nice surprise times 2!! Twin boys were a possibility that I never saw coming, LOL! It's fun being a mother of boys. I get lots of love and hugs and adventure with them. And I get to see the world from a different perspective as I try to raise Men who will contribute something special to our society. But, there is something about having a daughter that makes me feel part of something infinite. From the beginning of time Mothers and Daughters have passed traditions on that helped shape the lives of their families and society as a whole. To have that connection to the past and that hope for the future is an awesome experience. I look at Isabella and I think of how blessed I am to be a part of her life. We have had an amazing first year together. And since this is my third baby I know that there is no year like the first. Snuggling and nursing around the clock. Being the light of her life. Being the person that comforts her through all of life's circumstances, being her guide, her nurturer, her source of nutrition. I have a role in her life right now that has a limited time frame. Every day I see myself moving to the side a bit as she grows into herself more and more. Her personality is emerging, her likes and dislikes are being communicated loud and clear now. She wants to get down, she wants to explore and find out for herself what is going on in the world. So I know it will be time soon to step back and let her be her own person. I really enjoyed this first year. I love that special time of being with a newborn baby and giving them everything you have to give in all aspects. But, there is something wonderful about watching a toddler find out how things work that is awe inspiring. So I know I will enjoy this next phase too, just like I do with her brothers. I can only hope that as she grows I will be able to foster a relationship with her like my mother did with me. To have that kind of connection where you can know you are loved 100% no matter what is the best and I want Isabella to know that feeling. My Mom is my best friend in the world and I hope one day my Baby Girl will think the same way of me. In the meantime I am enjoying every minute of the dresses, tiaras, and sparkle while she still likes it!!

"The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests."

~Author Unknown~


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Measuring Up

There are different degrees of friendship and over the years those relationships change and shift over and over again. But, it's a true friend that can come over for a visit and see your life in it's "natural state." Some people you may need to spend 2 days cleaning and scrubbing in preparation for their visit, others you may just run a vacuum over scuzzy floors and put on a bra. And then there are the friends that you are comfortable with and know will accept you no matter what and those poor friends get no prep time whatsoever. The Better the Friendship~The More Mess you can leave around!! Yesterday my friend Shannon came to visit. We have been friends since college. She knows me well. We only get to talk every so often and visit a couple times a year, but we always pick up right where we left off. I was excited for her visit, especially since it was the 4th night in a row that Hubby was working late and I was home alone for the dinner and bedtime routine with the kids. Reinforcements were greatly needed and much appreciated and I was so happy to have someone keep me company!! I ran around all day dropping the kids off at school, meeting up with my brother, picking up kids from school having a playdate with one of Cenzo's friends. So by 3pm when I got home with all the kids I had no energy left. By some miracle they all went for nap and I looked around at the laundry piles, dishes and overall mess and thought I really should clean before Shannon gets here. But, instead I sat on the couch and woke up an hour later when Shannon knocked on the door. I made a half hearted attempt to apologize for the smell of dirty diapers that permeated the air and the piles of kids stuff strewn about. But, Shannon assured me she didn't care and I was just tired enough to believe her. She jumped right in helping me get the kids up from nap and entertaining them while I made dinner and then we got everyone fed. After dinner, she graciously offered to entertain the Little Ones while I checked emails and took a hot bath. DELIGHTFUL!! I was so excited for that break! And the kids LOVED having time with Auntie Shan. She did puzzles with them and played with toys. And at bedtime she settled the boys down with bedtime books and stories while I put the Princess to sleep. Having the extra help was so nice and everyone slept so good!! I loved getting to chat with Shannon and catch up on her life amid all of the chaos!! I was happy that my "real life" didn't bother her. Even though though it was busy, it was relaxing too because I didn't feel pressure to entertain, I was able to just be myself and the kids were certainly comfortable enough to be themselves. Poor Shannon!!

The best part is the smell, the mess and the noise didn't scare her off. She even offered to babysit the Littles so Hubby and I can go out one night! OMG!! Friends like that are PRICELESS!!!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Betch Video

Here is The Betch Story straight from Luccio. Enjoy!!

The Betch

The other day Luccio proclaimed, "Mama you're a betch!" He said it with such zeal and pride and kept on saying it. My immediate thought was "who has been talking about me in front of him??" The list of possibilities is long. Hmmm.... I wasn't sure how to address it so I did what most Moms would do (especially the betches) and I ignored it. Finally, when he said it again a few days later I realized what he meant. He came up to me and with such love said, "Mama you're a betch! You're a betch ever Mama." Hubby and I looked at each other. Luccio said again, "You're a betch ever, EVER!!"

Then it hit me and I said, "I am the BEST ever?"

"Yeah, Mama!! You are a Betch EVER!"

Oh, I love that little Bear!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pretty Pig

I felt good this week, very motivated by weight loss and exercise AND THEN...I got in the car yesterday to help Cenzo buckle his seatbelt and he exclaimed, "You are a Mama Pig! You are so big you take up the whole car!!" "OMG! You think I look like a pig??"

Luccio chimed in, "Yeah, you're a Pretty Pig, Mama." Good save Luccio, now I feel much better.

Thanks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Walk Away

The only exercise I have done in the last 10 months is pump milk and occasionally move the vacuum around the house. As Luccio would say, "I'm not kidding!" So last week when I started my new walking routine my body was in shock!! Nursing and pumping milk is no joke. You burn around 20 calories per ounce, so roughly 400 calories a day for me. When I finally dragged myself onto the treadmill last week it took me 48 minutes of walking moderately to burn that much. When I first joined WW, it was enough for me to start figuring out what to eat and when. I couldn't even begin to think about exercising, but now that it was been over 2 months, my body seems to be craving exercise. My WW Leader said we should refer to it as "Activity" because that has positive connotations of fun, etc. And "Exercise" brings up negative connotations like boring, work, sweat, torture, etc. Either way the plan was to eat less, move more.

So I dropped the boys off at school and went directly to the park with the Princess in her stroller. Once around the track is . 6 miles. I did 3 laps. The 1st lap I was so slow that the elderly were just whipping past me. By the time I was halfway around I was hunched over the stroller gasping for breath. I was coming up to a Giant Mountain (aka slight incline) and I thought to myself, My God, am I so out of shape that I can't walk?? And then just briefly I looked around and realized I was practically alone in a wooded place (aka pretty populated park with paved paths surrounded with trees) and I could pass out and it might be hours before anyone found me. Then I remembered the elderly were there, just moving so fast I couldn't see them and I felt much better. At least they were in good shape if I needed to be carried out of the woods.

By the end of the 2nd lap I was starting to breath again and walking with my back a little straighter. My legs felt energized and I couldn't stop walking. I saw my car and desperately wanted to get in and drive to Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee, but my legs kept walking. By the end of the 3rd lap I was downright invigorated!! I felt fantastic and motivated and all those crazy things. Enough so, that I ended up walking 3 more times that week. I went to the park again, I walked on the treadmill at home, and I took the boys bike riding to the cemetery and walked there. Yeah, that may sound morbid, but in my family the cemetery is so beautiful and park-like that we visit often. The roads are quiet with barely any cars, so its great for walking/biking and we get a visit in to Great Grandfather. The kids love going there and its good exercise. Whatever works!

Hubby made me an excellent mix of workout music for the i-pod and Isabella is a great walking partner because she loves being outside and falls asleep in the stroller. I enjoy the time to just think and ponder and when I can breath enough oxygen in I sometimes have profound thoughts walking out in those woods. So, I ate less, moved more and it showed on the scale. I lost 2.2 pounds bringing the total to 17.8 pounds. I felt good. But, the quote of the week reminded me that its not only about losing the pounds its about keeping them off, I still have a long way to go. The quote was helpful though, "Do not brag about your pace, slow and steady wins the race." Which is good because at 22 minutes a mile it may take me a while to get anywhere.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Never Ebber

The new phrase around here is Never Ever!! And it is one of those cases of Monkey See, Monkey Do. Vincenzo asked for milk, I gave him a glass. He is drinking it and says to me, "You NEVER let us have milk." And Luccio says, "Yeah, you Never, EBBER let us." And so it began...

While riding bikes, Vincenzo says, "You NEVER let us ride bikes." Luccio agrees, "Yeah, you never EBBER let us."

While taking a bath, "You NEVER let us take a bath." "Yeah, you never EBBER let us!"

On the way home from visiting my parents for the third time this week, "You NEVER let us visit Stregga." "Yeah we never EBBER visit!"

While watching Dora the Explorer last night, "You NEVER let us watch Dora." "Yeah, you never EBBEr let us!"

The first round of never from Vincenzo is funny enough, but Luccio's emphasis on never,
EV-ER, just makes it that much funnier.

At first, I found it enormously frustrating! And I wanted to reply, "Hey guys, you are drinking milk, riding bikes, and bathing while you watch tv AT Streggas- OK!!!!!"

But, I took the high road and just laughed at the irony instead. And once in a while I chime in and agree, "Yeah, I NEVER, EVER let you do ANYTHING!" That catches them by surprise and they crack up!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mama Hawk

Tonight after I put the kids to bed, Vincenzo woke up crying. When I went in to check on him he said he had been having a nightmare. This has been happening for the past week or so since Hubby started back to work. Lots of changes going on, the boys turned 4, they started back to preschool, Hubby isn't home as much at bedtime. I have been trying to reassure the kids by sticking with our bedtime routine of bath, books, prayers, etc. I also let Cenzo sleep with my "purple blanket" that my Mom made for me and I put "Angel" lotion on both boys to protect them from bad dreams. All of that and a nightlight seems to ease it a bit, but the bad dreams are still randomly happening. I feel so bad for him because I know how scary that can feel and how real nightmares can seem.

Tonight, he when he woke up shortly after bedtime, I reassured him by telling him that God gave Mama's special hearing. When a Mama has a baby her new hearing turns on and she can hear everything. I told him if he was down the street I would hear him, if he was in another town I would still hear him if he needed me. And I would come to get him right away.

He said, "Oh! You're a Mama Hawk!"

I wish I could take credit for educating the boys about the special hearing abilities of Hawks, but that credit goes to Diego. Either way, I was impressed with his connection. And it made him feel much better that I was a Mama Hawk instead of regular ol' me. So he drifted calmly off to sleep. I just hope he sleeps well and those Hawk abilities help keep the bad dreams away (***knock wood***)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dear Saint Anthony

St. Anthony is best known as The Patron Saint of lost things. In other words he helps people find things. I often ask him for help and almost always get a response right away. My Cousin lost her diamond wedding band and we said a prayer for St. Anthony to help find it and I kept picturing it in a yellow room. Sure enough she found it in her son's yellow bedroom where he had "the treasure" safely hidden. Another time I lost a brand new shirt that I wanted to wear and kept picturing it under my dresser. I searched and only found a canvas beach bag. However, when I pulled the beach bag out, there was the new shirt inside!

Yesterday we were at a birthday party and I noticed Isabella's bracelet was missing. We searched everywhere, but I couldn't even remember if she had it on that day at all or not. When we got home we looked through some old pictures and the last time she had the bracelet on was Aug. 16th. It had been missing for weeks and I didn't even notice. My Aunt gave her and the boys these beautiful gold bracelets when each of them was born and they had been wearing them since. It has great sentimental value and I treasure it! Well, we said a prayer to Saint Anthony and I kept picturing her crib. So i searched through the bedding and bumpers etc. No bracelet. Cenzo heard me talking about it to Hubby and he said asked if we checked under the bed. And sure enough, there was the bracelet!!

Saint Anthony has a special place in my heart (not just for finding things!) When I was trying to get pregnant I met a friend, Sister Mary Anthony and she gave me a relic of Saint Anthony (a piece of his bones in a small jeweled box) and oil from Padua, Anthony's birthplace. I used that oil every day until the boys were safely delivered. And Hubby often joked, "its not a party until my wife takes out the relics." My boys each have the middle name Anthony, they share that middle name with my brother and nephew. My Dad and my Poppy are also named Anthony. When my Poppy died 3 years ago I inherited his St. Anthony statue which sits in a prominent place of honor in our house. I have since returned the relic to Sr. Mary Anthony. And I have passed the oil on to a friend who was struggling with infertility and she is now expecting her first baby in October.

Prayer to Saint Anthony, Performer of Miracles

Dear St. Anthony, your prayers obtained miracles during your lifetime. You still seem to move at ease in the realm of minor and major miracles. St. Anthony, Performer of Miracles, please obtain for me the blessings God holds in reserve who serve Him. Pray that I may be worthy of the promises my Lord Jesus attaches to confident prayer. (Mention your special intentions.)

Seeking a Lost Article

Dear St. Anthony, you are the patron of the poor and the helper of all who seek lost articles. Help me to find the object I have lost so that I will be able to make better use of the time that I will gain for God's greater honor and glory. Grant your gracious aid to all people who seek what they have lost---especially those who seek to regain God's grace. Amen.


Prayers from the website: http://www.2heartsnetwork.org/Anthony.htm


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Happy Birthday

We celebrated Vincenzo and Luccio's 4th birthday this week! They have come a long way since they were preemies in the NICU!! We have so much to be thankful for and have met so many angels on our journey to becoming a family!!

Hubby made this video for a March of Dimes contest a couple years ago. It beautifully captures a bit of what that first year was like from the challenges to the celebrations!

We are grateful for the support of all of our family and friends, especially: my mother who stayed with me every day through the worst of it, my Dad who visited as often as possible and called me daily with words of encouragement, Hubby's parents who checked in daily with calls and drove up to visit with pasta and chicken parm that I was craving from my favorite restaurant as often as possible, for friends who offered kind words, phone calls, emails, visits, books, crossword puzzles, snacks, and prayers!!

And we are so thankful for the compassionate and skilled Doctors and Nurses who cared for me during my pregnancy and 10 weeks of hospital bedrest! They were wonderful!! I cannot thank the nurses enough for the care that they provided. During my stay I really got to know the staff. I felt like each shift there were the “regulars” who would be taking care of me. Each of them went above and beyond the “call of duty.” I never had anyone speak unkindly to me or treat me with impatience or disrespect even on my worst days. The staff became my teachers, my cheerleaders, and my confidants.They were my angels. I felt that with their help I was able to make informed decisions and be prepared for all that came along with pre-term labor, medications, tests, the early birth of my babies and caring for newborns in the NICU.

Thank you to the amazing doctors and nurses that took care of the boys during their 4 week stay in 3 different NICUs!! And for the resources provided by The March of Dimes. Today they are happy, healthy little boys!! They over came so many challenges, especially Luccio who had 5 surgeries in his first 2 years.

I couldn't let this birthday milestone pass without remembering the wonderful people who helped us get here!! Sometimes people come into your life for just a short while at just the right moment and make all the difference~ FOREVER!!
Thank you to all of our angels!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not Alone

This morning I had a lot to do, but I wasn't sure where to start. So I thought I would write a To-Do list. I couldn't escape the boys talking and questions long enough to get a word on paper, so I hid in the bathroom with my notebook and pen. Cenzo came bursting in and said, "Mama, what are you doing in here?" I explained that I needed about five minutes of alone time so that I could write a list of things we needed to do for the day.

He looked at me and said, "But, you are not alone. I'm in here, Silly."


Monday, August 30, 2010

Thank You Summer

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."
-Mother Teresa
What an amazing summer it was! I feel like a lot of progress was made towards reaching goals both personally and as a family! I cleared some clutter and shed almost 15 pounds in the process! I kept having the soundtrack from Hairspray playing in my mind. The song, "Good Morning Baltimore" starts with the line "I wake up as always, hungry for something that I can't eat." And I realized this summer that the song had a deeper meaning in my life than just a catchy beat. I kept thinking I have everything I want, what is it that I am hungry for?? Is it really pasta, bread and peanut butter cups??

The last 6 years of my life have been about babies. Trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant, gaining weight with each pregnancy and miscarriage. Sleepless nights and endless days following the arrival of each child and adjusting to being a family. I have been putting every effort into my motherhood, it is the very core of of who I have become. It dawned on me this June that I need to be putting in quality in order to get quality out of myself. So to be the best mother I am capable of being, I need to be the best person I am capable of becoming. I took inventory of my life and tried to target the key areas that are essential to my new life as wife and mother and to the ME that is now a 35 year old woman who has some life experience and has known love and heartbreak and the unconditional bond that comes with bringing 3 lives into the world. I know that I can function daily and get dressed and feed everyone, but I want more than that. I want my children to have more than a watered down version of life. I want to live an inspired life. I want it to be about more than the material goods that can be bought and consumed. I want it to be about the sacred, the Divine, the miracles. When I really thought about it, I knew in my heart of hearts that I had lost my Center. I had not focused on spirituality in a profound way in a long time. I attend Mass when I can, I pray at meals, bedtime etc. with the kids. But, my own spirituality had gotten lost in the shuffle. My soul's health and my body's health had been tossed to the wayside. It was an empty feeling. So I needed to build myself back up to full strength!

I did a major overhaul of priorities and started focusing on being healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually by clearing out junk food from the cabinets and negative energy from my life. It is unreal how a positive attitude towards life can be so effective.

Hubby and I really worked as a team to make sure we were all eating healthy and having fun as a family. We made a concentrated effort to buy more whole grain and organic foods, cook meals at home and eat dinner as a family as much as possible.

We also took a break from a set schedule, but still kept our balance and routine so we still had the same flow of the day for the kids, but in a relaxed way that makes summer such a special time! We took Road Trips to Sesame Place & Vermont. Hubby took each of the boys to Yankees Games individually for some Guy Time! The kids and I spent summer days going to amusement parks, beaches, museums, the zoo, and other fun Field Trips with various family and friends. And I spent a few days here and there getting in refreshing breaks and even attended a retreat!! It was energizing! And I have made a real commitment to attending Weight Watchers meetings.

Around the house we made some real strides in organizing the clutter than can easily take over a small house with 5 people in it. We designated areas for each person and rearranged some rooms to maximize the space we do have. Just by changing the furniture around in my bedroom it cleared away a lot of the mess and chaos that was stressing me out. We cleaned the garage out and reorganized the playroom. And the other day the kids were all playing. In the playroom. With toys. It was nothing short of a miracle!

We have had more Pajama Days, more Family Movie Nights. Summer life was good for us. It gave us all a chance to spend more time together. It also gave us a chance to reevaluate what is important to us as a Family. Now that we have 2 Big Kids and a baby, our needs are different. The boys are not little babies anymore and need more independence and responsibility and time on their own. They have dreams, imaginations, concerns and hopes that are now a part of our considerations when we make a plan. They have gifts, talents, personalities that enhance each experience! Isabella has her own unique set of needs and qualities that she adds to our family dynamic. She has a brand new outlook on life, everything is exciting and wondrous! She allows us to slow down, to stop and take breaks to enjoy life and take in our surroundings. When she needs to be nursed the world stops for 10 minutes. It gives us all centering time to regroup and breathe a bit no matter where we are.

I am happy to have taken 14.4 pounds off. I have lost the weight I gained with Isabella and the weight I gained with the boys. I still have a lot more to go, but I feel good. And I know it is not about food or pounds. I am surrounded with Love, with good people: my husband, my kids, my family & friends. Life is good!!

I will miss Summer! It was good to us. I want to hold onto it forever!! And as I go into the Fall and Winter I will keep reminding myself of a quote that I read:
"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." - Celia Thaxter

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cenzissimo

Vincenzo is a talker. He talks from the minute his eyes open in the morning. The only breaks he takes from talking is his nap and when he passes out from sheer exhaustion at night. He has a wide variety of vocabulary and different accents depending on his mood. I can't help laughing at some of his unique pronunciations and phrases!

Some of my favorites include:
~The Hoard- as in: "Hail Mary, The Hoard is with Thee" ~Winnie- as in "My name is not Winnie, it's Wincenzo"
~Kajamas- as in "I need to put my kajamas on for bedtime."
~Uccio- as in "This is my brother Uccio, we are twins."
~Tawget- as in "Tawget is the best store."
~Actually- this is his "Word of the Week." It can be used in several phrases, but his most popular is: "Actually we can get that at Tawget." (see above)

Another prominent Cenzo Phrase is: "I have to tell you something." And let me tell you, when you hear that phrase, you know it won't be a short story!

He remembers everything and he will use it against you, so be warned!!

He is a rule follower and expects that everyone else will be too. And he does not mind telling the rules to those around him, even if they didn't ask or do not want to know.

But, most of all he is a loving, kind, intelligent and sensitive little boy. He takes in the world around him, internalizes everything and makes it a part of his schema for future reference. And at the end of the day when all is SAID and done, my most favorite words in the world are,
"I love you Mama. You are my best Mama ever."









Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nerd Mother: The Next Generation

My brother and I used to make fun of my Mom because she is somewhat gullible, especially when it came to our teenage trickery. Well, I realized that I am just like her when I got totally BAMBOOZLED by my 13 year old nephew! It started out innocently enough, he asked to go to the Mall to buy a bracelet. He said he thought the bracelet was around $5. No problem! The kids and I were so excited to be spending time with Nikko that I jumped at the chance to take him shopping. And my boys love going to the Mall so we were on our way. We went to Zumiez, a skateboarder store. I have been there before with Nikko and we walked out with a skateboard so I knew to have a better plan in place this time. But, we were just there for a bracelet...

Of course, we had to look at the shirts on sale and the shoes, bracelets were quickly forgotten. I am used to shopping for toddlers so the price tags were much bigger than in the baby stores. So we agreed on a budget and then I left him to shop. Well, 30 minutes later we were checking out with sneakers that were a "smidge" more than we budgeted for, but stylish!

Of course, at the register...there were The Bracelets. He asked if he could still get the bracelet too. Well, sure. That is why came here after all. So we get the bracelet, get our bags and off we go.

We load up the car, 2 toddlers, 1 infant, 1 stroller, several bags and a teenager.

As I am driving out of the parking lot, I look over and notice the bracelet. It's black with white writing. Hmmmm, what does that say??? He moves his arm so I get a closer look and it says...
I Love Boobies.

OMG!!! I just bought him an I Love Boobies bracelet??

I never thought to look at the bracelet BEFORE we bought it. I was just happy he wanted a bracelet and that it only cost $5.

I am Nerd Mother.

But, he assured me the bracelet is to raise awareness for Breast Cancer Research and it was a charitable thing to do. So I feel much better.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Big Ideas

Yesterday I locked myself and the 3 kids out of the house AND car, ughhhh! Its always hectic getting out the door and we were on our way to pick up my nephew and then dogsit for Stregga and Papa's babies. I had the bags, the snacks, the kids, etc. But, once we slammed the house door shut behind us, I realized I had not put the car keys in my pocket, but had instead grabbed my house phone. Hmmm...I blame it on Mommy Brain sorta of like when I found the roll of paper towels in the fridge the other morning. Either way, it was hot and the kids were ready to go and no keys. So, immediately Vincenzo and Luccio started coming up with "big ideas" to help. As I dumped every bag out on the lawn searching frantically, they came up with solutions. Cenzo thought we should "use a big stick and pry the house door open." Luccio thought we should "use a water pistol and spray the door down." Both very creative ideas!! And I must admit far better ideas than my own, which was to sit on the lawn and cry.

Normally I would have called my father. He is like McGuyver and he would have come over and widdled a new key out of tree bark or taken the door off the hinges with his pocket knife. But, he and Mom were away hence the dog sitting. So instead I called my brother and sobbed my story to him, forgetting that it was his birthday AND that he was on his way to Boston to have surgery. (Yeah, I can be a bit self-absorbed at times. But, I guess that is pretty obvious since I have an entire blog dedicated to my ramblings.)

Anywhoo--Luckily my little brother had a few minutes to spare and talked me successfully through putting my library card to good use. I was pretty determined to figure out a better solution than having Hubby drive 35 minutes home and then back to work again. So Chad saved us all a lot of trouble by coming through in a pinch with some very useful skills!

The boys were a bit disappointed to not be able to use sticks or weapons to help out, but I assured them there would most likely be a next time so we could save the big ideas for then.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Papa's Papoose

The kids and I went to the Zoo with my Dad the other day. It was so much fun! They absolutely loved being with Papa! On the car ride to the Zoo, Cenzo kept saying, "I love you so much Papa." He also kept telling me that it would be okay if I wanted to stay home so they could go out with Papa without me. Stinker!!! Luckily, Luccio can always be counted on and he piped up, "I love you always Mama." Oh, my Bear! So glad I did take the ride with them. We had a great day. We walked around checking out the animals for a couple hours and then took the boys on the Carousel. Even our Little Princess loved it!! Papa carried her around in the Papoose for most of the time and she couldn't have been happier! There really isn't anything better than watching the kids enjoy themselves so thoroughly! The Zoo is small enough and we have been there often enough that they boys can easily guide themselves through it using the map you get at the entrance. They have the place memorized, but think they are reading the map. Also, there are paw prints painted throughout the Zoo so they get a kick out of trying to guess what animal left them and following the paw prints. Papa had a great time too! And he bought us the Zoo Membership so we can go back again and again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stopping to Smell the Roses


I have been very fortunate this summer to have Hubby home more than he would be during the school year. I have had some fantastic opportunities to get refreshing breaks from the daily duties of being a SAHM. Last week I went to The Casino to celebrate Crazy Cousin's 35th and Mom & I made a stop at Ender's Island Retreat Center on the way back. And this weekend Mom and I went to Wainwright House for a Holistic Health retreat on the Harbor. Both were wonderful experiences that renewed my spirit.

The casino celebration for Crazy Cousin was a lot of fun. We were born 8 months apart and spent a lot of time together growing up. I have great memories, especially of our endless summers. We would spend weeks at my house watching The Princess Bride over and over and over and swimming in the pool. And some summers we spent time in Wildwood, NJ having fun at the beach and on the boardwalk. Over the years we sometimes fought like Sisters, but most of the time we were laughing so hard we cried! At The Casino we laughed over the fact that we had to go to a noisy, busy place to find Serenity, LOL! We lounged by the pool and went out for dinner, such a great time.

The next today on the way home Mom and I stopped in at Ender's Island in Mystic. I found the place about 10 years ago when I was still working at the Newman Center and I went on a work related retreat day there. It is a tiny little island with a retreat center, a main chapel, a gift shop, a meeting room and a small stone chapel right on the water. There are tons of gardens and peaceful places to sit. I brought my journal and wrote for a little while, but mainly I enjoyed the quiet and prayerfulness of the island.

This past weekend, Mom and I went to a Holistic Health Retreat at Wainwright House. We went last year and loved it so much, so we have been checking the Wainwright website for updates and events. I was so excited to go back there again!! It is a beautiful stone building with lots of bright rooms. There is also a Carriage House/Yoga Center and another smaller house on the property that was open for some of the activities. The day went by so fast! Every 30-45 minutes there were different sessions. And each block of time there 3 separate sessions to chose from so it was difficult deciding. But, I went to the keynote address and listened to the author of The Fearless Factor. She was a motivational speaker that addressed how the issue of fear holds us back from achieving our dreams. I am reading her book right now and I will post more about that topic soon. I also attended a meditation workshop and walked the labyrinth that was on the property. I had a very moving experience and feel like I was able to clear out some negative energy that has been hanging around and get refocused on the all of the beautiful blessings I have in my life.

Speaking of my beautiful blessings, 4 of them are my Muses: Vincenzo, Luccio and Isabella and my dearest Hubby. It felt great to be able to get away for a short while knowing that my babies were in the capable hands of their dad. Grandma and Papa also helped out while Hubby worked for part of the day when I went to the retreat, so I am grateful that I can count on them as well.

I wish I could say that I ran off with no worries, but I have to admit when I went to the Casino I was really worried. My Princess had been fussy all morning and I had been pumping milk for over a week and knew there would be just barely enough for 24 hours for her. I felt a wave of nausea at the thought of leaving her overnight. I knew the boys would be okay because they are used to sleepovers and understand a lot more now. But, I have hardly left my little Princess and I was a wreck!! Hubby was very encouraging and reassured me that she would be fine. I called and checked in several times (until he told me to knock it off and have fun!) So it took a few hours, but I finally got into the groove of relaxing and really enjoyed myself! And my babies were just fine! In fact, they hardly missed me either day. Although The Princess did have a tough time sleeping and kept Hubby up from midnight until 3 or 4 am. I didn't find out until the next day, but he said it was fine and even took all 3 kids to the local Bounce House on his own for the day. As my brother always says, "That man is a Saint!"

It was nice to get "recharged" a bit. Spending time with family and friends and focusing on my spirituality always inspires and builds me up so much. I feel like I can once again give the best of myself to my most important endeavor-raising my babies!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Road Trip


We loaded up the minivan with just about everything in the house and the 3 kids and headed to Vermont to visit friends. It was our first big Road Trip as a family of 5! I wasn't sure how it would go with a nursing baby and 2 energetic toddler boys. But, it was fantastic! Ms. Meeghan and Mr. TJ and their kids gave us a warm welcome and such hospitality!! Their girls are close in age to our boys and their baby boy (our Godson) is only 6 weeks younger than Isabella. So it worked out nicely and everyone had someone to play with. It was fun staying with another family and it made it so much easier for us to travel with the kids. Our hosts made sure we had air conditioning in our rooms and a crib for the Princess and a space for the boys to set up camp. The girls were so gracious about sharing toys with our kids and everyone really got along. I enjoyed having some Mama Time and chatting with Ms. Meeghan. We have been friends since we were roomies in a volunteer community after graduating college. We have have alot in common including our faith, so I always feel renewed and inspired after our chats. And Mr. TJ has lots in common with Hubby, they are both amazing husbands and fathers and they are very creative and artistic, so luckily they get along well. It was especially nice when Ms. Meeghan and I were able to kick them out for a bit so we could have Girl Talk. Although there really wasn't much arm twisting involved when we suggested they go for beers. Hubby heard beers and immediately thought of wings and that was about all the convincing needed, they were off the couches and out the door in under 3 minutes, LOL!!

We stayed for 2 nights. We had time for relaxing and hanging around at the house and enjoying meals all together. And we also made some time for a tour of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and a some shopping for the Mamas while the guys and kids went to a local park. It was a nice mix! A refreshing break from reality. We were pleasantly surprised that all 6 kids were in bed asleep by 8 pm both nights. We were pretty impressed with ourselves to say the least, LOL!!

As for the car ride, I thought it would be a long, dreadful trip. But, it turned out to be so much fun. On the way up we sang songs and talked for nearly 3 hours and then plugged in the DVD player for a movie. On the way home they requested movies right away and then everyone slept except for our Bear who said he was "just relaxing and looking out his window."

We are so thankful to have good friends to share time with as a family! Such a blessing!! We look forward to many more visits as the kids grow older together.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mama Cenzo Day


Over the weekend Hubby took Luccio to see his first Yankees Game in NY! They took the train and everything!! Very exciting experience for The Bear! And since it was Cenzo's Special Day with me, I let him choose what he wanted to do. I told him we could go to a museum, amusement park, anywhere at all. And he chose to go to Target and The Shrine. Target is his most favorite place on Earth. He constantly tells us, "you can get that at Target." Or "This is a nice store, but it's nice as good as Target." So off to Target we went. He wanted a specific toy that he had seen on one of our previous trips. A horse trailer for mini horses. Unfortunately the first Target we went to had sold out of them. So we went in search of another Target a few towns over and found the trailer!! And several horses! Next, we went to the Shrine with Stregga. It is a special place for me and I enjoy the Peace and quiet of it as I have previously blogged. Well, Cenzo really enjoys going there too. He says he likes the quiet. But, I think he also likes the yummy cookies at the snack bar and shopping in the gift shop. Everyone was delighted to see him and gave him special attention and treats. We spent a couple hours wondering the grounds & visiting with some friends. We lit candles and said some prayers. We looked for frogs and listened to Nature. It was truly a beautiful day!! It probably wasn't as exciting as a train ride to NYC! But, it was perfect for our Mama Cenzo Day!

Loser


Yesterday I had my Weight Watchers (WW) Meeting. It was great! I lost another 1.4 pounds so I was thrilled with that. And my WW Leader was as motivational as ever!! She had great advice and she ended the meeting with a fantastic quote, "Watch your actions, for your actions become your habits. Watch your habits for your habits become your character, watch your character, for your character becomes your Destiny."
And she said we should all make it our Destiny to be Losers!! Her parting words are always, "I will see less of you next week!" She really cracks me up!! And totally motivates me. She has practical advice and lots of quotes and slogans to help me get through the week. And before I sound like a total advertisement for WW, I would just like to mention that I am not paid for my opinion in any way. That has never stopped me before, so onto my soapbox I shall climb!! I will be a Loser!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Soul Balm


I have been craving quiet time lately. Just time to sit and think a coherent thought for 2 or more consecutive minutes. Luckily, Hubby was off from work on Monday, so I got up early and went out by myself. I went to a local Shrine that I really love. It is a beautiful place, the most peaceful place I have ever been with the exception of Assisi, Italy. I took my journal and a pen and my camera and off I went. The Shrine doesn't have services on Mondays so there wasn't anyone around when I arrived. I went up to the Grotto and sat on a bench. And for minute I was a bit scared because there wasn't a human in sight and I heard rustling in the woods. I realized it was just squirrels and not the black bears I had worried it would be! I laughed out loud at how nuts it was to be afraid of a squirrel and thought how about long it had been since I had been really alone without another person around anywhere! I tried not to be too distracted by all that and proceeded with enjoying my quiet time. I opened my journal and wrote and wrote and thoughts just spilled out on to paper. Actual paper. In a notebook. It was weird to be writing and not typing. I have to admit I made a lot of errors and found myself scribbling a bit. I switched on and off from print to cursive and back and found most of what I wrote was not legible. Ugh! Had it really been that long since I wrote more than my signature?? I used to be an avid journaler, starting from when I was 8 years old until about 4 years ago when the kids were born, I would write at least weekly if not more. Now I just jot down a thought or 2 every couple of months in my journal. The rest of my "writing" is done through email, facebook or this blog.

I quickly got into the flow of writing and blocking out the distractions around me and then, it started raining. Seriously???!!!!! I finally get 3 kids coordinated, free time with no other obligations, a quiet place with no other humans, and it rains?? ugh!!

I thought of just sitting there until it passed, but my pages were getting soaked and the ink was running so I decided to go up to the Main House and see if it would be okay to sit in a quiet spot there for a little while. The Main House is the private Residence/Office/Retreat Center of the Shrine. So I talked with the Secretary, she is so fantastic and I have known her for years. She said to feel free to find a comfortable spot. The only people in the house that day were cleaning staff so she said if that didn't bother me for them to be running around cleaning I could stay as long as I wanted. I assured her that as I long as I didn't have to change anyone's diapers, they could run around all they wanted!

An hour flew by in what felt like minutes. I looked at the clock and knew it was time to wrap up the morning and head towards home. But, first I stopped in the Gift Shop on my way out. My Mom volunteers there and it happened to be her morning on. So I visited for a bit. There weren't many customers in yet and the store needed a some rearranging and organizing so I stayed to help Mom get started with that project It was so much fun! I love looking at a room and trying to figure out how to set it up and decorate (as long as its not in my own house, LOL!)

I had an iced coffee, I chatted with mom and few other people I knew who were milling about the grounds and then I headed home. It was such a relaxing morning that I felt like I had gone for a massage or something. It was balm for the soul. I needed to recharge and being in a peaceful place and writing was such a scared experience!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dumpy Day

Yesterday I woke up feeling Dumpy. I didn't want to wake up at 6:30 am, I didn't want to deal with the pile of dishes in the sink, I didn't want to wash the 367 millionth load of laundry, and I really didn't want to sit outside in the beating hot sun at a toddler birthday party for the second day in a row. So I had an old-fashioned temper tantrum complete with tears. Cenzo said, "Mama. I think you need a hug." That child is so perceptive! He was exactly right!! The boys ran into the kitchen to give me hugs and we were on our way to getting ready for the party. The birthday boy is one of their friends from preschool. He is a sweet kid and his mom is one of the nicest, most relaxed people I have ever met. So, I knew once I got there we would have a great time! And we did!

The backyard was massive, as in GI- NORMOUS!!!! There was a bounce house, a bouncy water slide, a sprinkle, tents set up, so much food, it looked like a professionally catered event. I sat with some of the other moms I know from school and chatted and we had fantastic afternoon!! Stregga and Papa had the Princess for me, so I was free to sit and relax while the boys played for hours!! Some of the other moms mentioned that they had been have Dumpy Days all week too, we attributed it mostly to the heat, lack of sleep and no school to drop the kids off at! It was great to hear others feeling the same way. It wasn't the "misery loves company" thing either it was more like identifying with Kindred Spirits!! We have chatted over the past school year, but didn't really get beyond the small talk of "so how many hours have you slept since you have had kids??" Until yesterday. It was the first time I learned that one woman had hike the Appalachian Trail alone for 6 months!!! OMG!!! It was amazing to hear her stories! It got me thinking of my own travel experiences and dreams. Motherhood is my number one priority at this point in my life and I love it. But, it was so nice to be able to share stories and experiences of how we got here and what shaped us into the women we have become. And I am still trying to formulate how I will get myself back to Italy for a visit in the near future. I have come up with some plans that are pie in the sky dreams and others that may actually work, but it remains to be seen. I need to dream though! There is power in positive thinking and putting it out to the universe. At least that is theory behind the ever-popular book The Secret. Not sure if I buy it, but it can't hurt to try.

The party invite had said 12-3, but several of us were so into our chatting that we ended up being there until 4:30 Our hosts were so gracious and welcoming and the kids behaved so nicely and played together for hours!! The yard was so big that at one point we literally had our own tent to hang out in! Finally, I had to force myself to round up the kiddies and go get the Princess. I was so relaxed I could have easily set up a sleeping bag and stayed the night!! What a great treat it was!!