Jack’s Second Birthday- The Very Hungry Caterpillar

If there is one book that Jack asks to be read over and over and over, it is The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  He points to each food and finds the egg or caterpillar on each page.  Truly a favorite book of his.

So, we decided to theme his second birthday around his favorite book.  My friend, Pam and her wonderful Etsy store, Announcing a Miracle, was happy to help customize a party pack to go around the theme.  She did a beautiful jobs, just as she did last year with his Little Prince theme.

Birthday Banner


Cupcake toppers

We kept the party small this year (close family and a few close friends) as there was a party for my mother’s birthday the following day and my flight to Vegas for work was at 6am on Monday morning.  Can anyone say crazy weekend?!

In addition to Jack’s home birthday party, he also had a class party on his last day in the Young Toddler classroom before he moved upstairs to the Older Toddler room.  He shared Cars cupcakes with his friends and was so excited when everyone sang, “Happy Birthday.”

Jack at his class party

Some of my favorite things from his party at home were the cupcakes and the decorations.  The cupcakes, which I had totally planned on making myself but ran out of time, were from Wegman’s and they did multi-color sprinkles on the cupcake icing instead of food coloring, due to allergies.

One of the smartest things that I did was just having snacks and ordering pizza and wings later on for all of the people who came.  The kids loved the pizza, adults enjoyed beer and cocktails and we had juice boxes for the kids.  Nothing too exciting, but it gave us more time to spend with our guests and clean up was a breeze.  (This was a blessing as I had morning sickness pretty bad the day of the party.)

Everyone loved the video that I made of Jack’s second year and his Shutterfly photo book, which will both now be a tradition in our house for all of our children.

As there were very few children, and the ages were not the same, we decided against games and left the playroom open for all of the children to play with the toys.  The little ones loved playing with each other and had a wonderful time.

Jack got some wonderful gifts from everyone and had some help from his little friends with opening everything and reading the cards.

Everyone had a wonderful time and we rang in another wonderful year of Jack’s life.

Christmas 2011

How can someone not love Christmastime?  The lights, the family get-togethers, Christmas trees, colorful wrapping paper, mass that brings tears to your eyes while singing Silent Night in a candlelit church, and the magic.  The magic is what makes me love Christmas most of all.  Every child has an extra bit of sparkle and amazement in their eyes when they see lights, Santa or anything else holiday related.  It makes my heart swell the day that the calendar turns to December.

As with the majority of families, mine carries its traditions while always welcoming new ones.

Last year, we welcomed the Elf on the Shelf tradition when we welcomed Max the Elf to our family.  We enjoy playing our Barbra Streisand Christmas CD and many other quirky traditions.  We also have a fire, roast marshmallows, and just enjoy spending time with each other.

Another new tradition this year with Jack was breakfast with Santa.  Although, Jack would only go near Mrs. Claus and wanted nothing to do with Santa.

This year was special because we still have my Mom with us.  Jack absolutely adores her and hangs on every word that she says.

This was also the first year that Jack baked cookies with us, although Mommy took over icing and decorating them while he napped.

Baking cookies with Mommy

He got many wonderful Cars toys from Santa and relatives and we spent all of Christmas day in our pajamas!  It was wonderful!

Jack opening presents

Now, with having this week off between Christmas and New Year’s, I plan on getting multiple projects completed, including bringing out my entire maternity wardrobe.  (Yes, it’s time)  I have over 5,000 Pampers Gifts to Grow points, so I plan on redeeming some and getting photos printed of Jack, decluttering the house and putting away the Christmas decorations.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

The family on Christmas Eve

The Last Year of my 20’s

Tomorrow is my birthday.  Yep.  I will be entering the final year of my 20’s where I will be standing at the line of whether or not leggings, mini skirts, and other foreseen articles of clothing would be appropriate on my body.  The fact that I am a Mom and that I need to wear something classy, stylish, yet versatile enough to chase a toddler usually takes preference anyways.

This will be the last year of the decade where I became of age to drink alcohol, when I graduated from college, when I met Chris for the first time, married him and had my first baby.  It makes me wonder what the next decade will bring.

Hopefully we will have another home sometime soon (once ours sells) and the plan is to be cradling another newborn baby in my arms sometime next summer, so maybe there are more things in store for this last year in my 20’s.

On a side note, I absolutely love my new job and the people that I work with.  Earlier last week, they brought in a cake to celebrate my birthday complete with many sweet birthday wishes.  Lunch tomorrow with a coworker and lunch on Tuesday with two other coworkers just sweetens the deal even more!

Per usual, Chris will make my birthday even more special than it was last year.  He has always managed to find the perfect card, bring home my favorite Dairy Queen ice cream cake and make me feel special the whole day through.

This year, all of my birthday wishes have come true.  I have a wonderful and caring husband who loves me more than I will ever know.  We are blessed to have a spunky blonde-haired, blue eyed boy who loves his parents to the moon and back.  I thank God each day that I still have my Mom with us and to allow her to see Jack grow and play.  The Kindle that Chris got me doesn’t hurt either.  😉

Oh, and I forgot to mention that it is also my sister Lisa’s birthday on June 13 as well!  We share birthdays but are 14 years apart!  Happy birthday to Lisa!

Looking forward to seeing this decade end with a bang!

Memorial Day Weekend

We all had a blast this weekend!  Aunt Colleen came home with her friend Lizzie and we just kept busy from the minute that they arrived.  Following a day of swimming in the baby pool, playing on the sand and water table, and running around the back yard, Jack fell asleep that night almost instantaneously.  He was wiped out!

Hanging out with Daddy

Saturday was another busy day with errands, hot weather, and remembrance.  Chris and I put Jack down for a nap and took a trip to my father’s grave to plant some flowers and do some weeding.  Upon arriving there, I was a little upset to see that there was no flag placed on my father’s grave or on my Uncle Bob’s grave for their service in the military.  I started to get angry.  How could they just forget to put something on the grave?  They both fought for our country and served proudly and there is no flag to indicate that?

I located the groundskeeper who was returning the backhoe from a freshly dug grave and inquired about why there were no flags place on the grave.  He explained that the grave markers, the metal flag stands which used to be on the grave, were not there and the servicemen only place a flag for each marker.  “One hundred and twenty five of the metal grave markers were recently stolen from the cemetery and the military is the only group that can replace them.  I asked for two individual flags to place in the ground instead.  He obliged and Chris and I proudly put the flags in the ground at their final resting places.  They should be honored, grave marker or no grave marker.  Hopefully the military personnel will see the flags and replace the markers that were stolen from the cemetery.

We woke up Sunday morning and went to mass.  After mass, it was already beastly hot outside.  (Around 90)  So, Colleen, Lizzie and I all jumped in the car and headed to Target for a larger pool for the backyard and other fun outside items.  Chris and I took this large rectangular pool and filled it up with air at the local convenience mart and drove home with the pool being held onto the roof of the Venza.  Totally redneck, but we laughed the whole time and got some interesting stares from many neighbors.  🙂  Needless to say, even though the water was FREEZING, we still enjoyed cooling off and soaking up some rays while enjoying burgers, hot dogs and other cookout-style foods.  At night, Grammy offered to babysit so we could all go out together, so once Jack was asleep, we headed to see the Memorial Day fireworks at the casino.

Jared, Colleen and Jack

The new pool


Crawling through the tube

Grammy was having a good day

This was the first time that I have ever seen fireworks set to music, and needless to say, it was interesting.  We  were a little surprised with several of the music choices, but all in all, it was a great time.  A beer or two later, following some sightings of people in prom-style dresses (It’s a freaking CASINO people!), we all headed home.

We all went to the Memorial Day parade on Monday morning to honor those who have served and given their lives for this country.  Jack loved all of the trucks, especially the fire trucks, and was glad to see all of the children as well.  Aunt Colleen and Aunt Lizzie did their auntie duties by chasing down the candy that was being thrown by the people in the parade and filled a few bags of tootsie rolls and peppermints for later.  No children were harmed in the chasing of the candy, although they were the oldest two collecting the candy.  😉

Watching the parade with Big Leen

Watching the trucks

I need one of these

Fire trucks!!

Following the parade, we were invited to a cookout and to have a swim in a friend’s pool around the corner.  Jack loved the water and was thrilled to be able to splash around with Mommy and Daddy.  When we tried to put him in his float though, that is when the tears started.  Big fat tears.  Maybe the Mommy and Me swim class spoiled him into thinking that each time he is in the pool, he will be held and not in the float.

We left for nap time and I just started packing and prepping everyone for Tuesday.  My first day at work, even though I am spending it flying to Chicago, and Jack’s first day at his new school.  (Jack’s first day at school will be in a future post)

We remembered those who have fought for us.

Last Week as a SAHM

This week begins my last week of the blissful 10 months of being a stay-at-home-Mom.  Initially, I had anticipated a short stint of being home with Jack until we sold our house and I was working again full time, but nothing seems to work out exactly the way that you plan.

My hopes are high for my new job and I am excited to get to know my new coworkers and get back into the swing of working 9-5 again.  However, I will absolutely miss this little face.

I love his coy little smile

Our cuddles after an afternoon nap, storytime before breakfast and playing with trucks all over the floor will no longer be a schedule that I will keep.  Instead, Jack will be off to play with 6 other toddlers his age to master his fine and gross motor skills, work on crafts, play outside in the sunshine and to make new friends.

Seeing him interact with the older children at Mommy and Me on Thursday mornings is great, but I see a lot of hesitation when trying to initiate play or to even have parallel play between him and the other children.  I have high hopes that his school and their curriculum will give him the opportunity to explore and to become more independent with play and more independent as an individual.

A week from today, I will be in Chicago prepping for a week of meetings, hellos and introductions.  Jack will also be spending his first day at a new school with new people and having the same types of introductions.  Its a new start for Jack and I.  New beginnings.  Building on what he has already learned and mastering new skills.

I am excited for this next chapter in our family, but I can’t say that I won’t miss being with Jack 24/7 as I have for the past few months.  Hey, I mean, who wouldn’t miss seeing this face every minute of every day?!

Big Changes are Coming

I have been busy with a few things these past few weeks, including interviewing for a new full-time job!

After a three four interview process, they have decided to offer me my dream job!

We are so blessed to have this wonderful opportunity.

Jack is being registered as we speak for a local upstanding child-centered day care which will be minutes away from Daddy’s office and on our way home from work.  The rooms are bright and cheery, the playground is brand new and was constructed with recycled plush flooring, and a trolley comes occasionally and beeps at the children.  Just a wonderful place.

When Jack and I went to tour the center, he felt right at home.  As I set him on the floor, his little legs were immediately running for the toys and the other children.  As they finger painted, sang songs, read stories and played with toys, Jack was right in the mix with them as I listened to the Director about the curriculum.  He obviously was comfortable and safe there, and I felt the same way.

The new job will require some travel, domestic and international, but mostly just occasional travel.  I am looking forward to learning all about my new company and proving myself as I work my way up the ladder.  This is a wonderful opportunity, and although I will miss being home with Jack every day, I am thankful that I can help provide for my family in a different and worthwhile way.

I have very high hopes for the challenges and new things on the horizon.  🙂

3 Years

Today, Chris and I are celebrating our 3 year anniversary.  Three full years of laughs, tears, milestones, a baby and lots of memories.

I still wake up and when I look over, I still thank God that I have such a wonderful husband and father for Jack.  He is kind, thoughtful, soft spoken, calm and unbelieveably handsome.  I can still recall pinching myself on our wedding day to make sure that it was true.

Chris is off to work and I am waiting for news that will hopefully change our lives again for the better.  More to come on that in a later post.  I don’t want to jinx anything.

Tonight, we have plans of catching a movie and having a nice dinner while Grammy babysits for Jack.  Nothing too out of the ordinary, but perfect for us to be able to spend time together and celebrate the day that we made it all official.

Chris and I on our wedding day

Sidenote: I do have many, many more photos from our wedding, but unfortunately, they are on the photographer’s CD’s that are at the house in Philly, so this is what I have for now.  😉

Mother’s Day 2011

This year I am lucky.  I count my blessings for my sweet little guy who is my reason for everything.  Without him, I would not be a mother.

However, this year, my family was blessed that my own mother is here to spend another Mother’s Day and another year with us.  Many more memories and hugs to be had.  She was able to see another year of milestones, holidays, birthdays and smiles.

Although we don’t know how much longer she will be here with us, we are cherishing each and every moment that we have with her.  So today, we went to mass, had brunch and will spend the rest of the day in the sunlight and telling stories.

My greatest gifts this year were another wonderful year with my mother and of course, another year as a mother to little Jack.

Happy Mother’s Day, Friends.

Chris, Mudders and I at Chris' Induction

Putting a Spring in my Step

Even though the calendar and I have had opposing opinions of when Spring truly begins, it seems to have come in full force this week.  The trees are budding, tulips and daffodils have finally surfaced and bloomed, and finally, the weather is finally cooperating.  We had a gorgeous, sunny and warm day yesterday and so far, the sun is out and it is looking like a repeat of yesterday!

Jack and I plan to venture outdoors again with sunscreen, shorts and t-shirts and ready to run in the grass and just soak up a beautiful day.

As with many things, Spring can also put me in a mood to reorganize, catch up on things that have been on my “To Do List” since September, and to take a step back and think about all of the wonderful holidays and fun things to do this summer.

While uploading photos from our <a title="We New York Trip over the weekend, I realized the major task on my “To-Do” List that has been staring me in the face has been organizing, printing or doing something with all of the photos that I have of Jack, considering I have not printed one photo since he was born.  Yes, you read that right.  Not one.

I am a person who loves to take photos (over 1,400 on my iPhone alone) so the task at hand can feel absolutely overwhelming.  Cue Shutterfly to save the day.

Since before Chris and I got married, I have been backing up all of our photos on my Shutterfly account, which has already come in handy when we lost two laptops in the past 3 years.  Sidenote: My Mac is still running strong and I will never buy another PC.

Uploading photos to the site is a cinch with the Express Uploader, and I don’t have to make a million decisions on making the perfect photo book if I don’t want to.  There are multiple templates to choose from, and typically, I usually end up using the templates.

The last publication of photos was the First Year Photo Book for Jack that I made for his Birthday Party where attendees could write him a nice little message and see how he has grown.  It was such a hit and I know that I will continue the yearly photo book for each child.

Jack's First Year Photo Book

Most of the photos in my mother’s house and in our house in Philly are of when Jack was born, so after taking a count of frames and sizes, I know how many photos I need and adding a few extras for friends and family and I am on my way.

A few quick things on my list are Mother’s Day cards (this weekend!  Yikes!) and planning for the multiple showers this summer.  Again, Shutterfly to the rescue!  I can find custom Mother’s Day cards for my Mom and my Mother-in-law and have them sent directly to the recipients through the site.  Perfect!

The baby showers?  Customized baby shower invitations for all of the showers coming up this summer.  Done and done.  I’m already rolling through this list!

And another time and money saver?  If you have a blog, you can sign up to win 50 FREE cards from Shutterfly!  That can absolutely help to get you on your way to getting organized and getting those things crossed off your Spring To Do List.  Enjoy!

Revlon Womentum 5K in NYC

After speaking with my girlfriend, Lindsay, she mentioned that we may want to join them for the Revlon 5K in Manhattan because it was coincidentally the same weekend that we were planning on going into the city to visit my sister, Colleen.  The race is a run/walk, however, participants who will be pushing strollers are asked to walk the race as not to run into other people at 5 MPH.  Ouch.

We all got our little bums out of bed at the crack of 6:45 to get out the door and on the train in time for the start of the race.  Jack was anything but happy about the early wakeup, but I assured him that it was to end women’s cancers and he was all “Oh then that’s cool.”  Such an easy-going toddler.

For anyone who has ever stood smack dab in the middle of Times Square, you know that it is chaotic, busy, packed with people and noisy.  Well, add almost 25,000 runners and walkers for a race, celebrity onlookers (Jimmy Fallon, Jessica Alba, Dr. Oz, and Nate Berkus anyone?) and it is a freaking mess.  We stood up against one the two TGIFridays windows as we were being smushed by people walking by and group teams who decided to park it and wait for their teams on the sidewalk.  Umm…no dice.

Getting ready to race

Jack is ready to go!

We met up with two of our other friends who were running in the race, but unfortunately, we could not meet with our friends Lindsay, Mark and baby Greg who we planned on walking with before the race began.  Thanks to cell phones and creative barrier hopping with a stroller, we met them at the start and were on our way!  Granted, we started the race late, so we didn’t hit the 1 mile marker until around 35 minutes, but we were also trying to keep up with the crowd and the thousands of walkers around us.

Kevin, Chris and Beth before the start

The Start

The 5K this year was a bit shorter than previous years due to construction in the park and other chaos.  Which is just as well because Jack was finished with riding in the stroller.

We totally took our time

After a few pit stops for diaper changes in central park, photos of the group and helping Lindsay get situated to nurse baby Greg in the Ergo while doing a 5K while giving directions and while talking on the phone (multitasking at its best!), we were thrilled to cross the finish line with a sense of accomplishment.

Our Family in Central Park

We as a family participated in support of my Mom who is still battling Stage 4 Cervical Cancer, and even Jack’s stroller got its own special sign.

Jack's sign for the race

It was a beautiful day of camaraderie and people coming together to end such a horrible disease.  Hopefully the money raised will help to eradicate all women’s cancers so that no other women will have to endure awful chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomies, and deaths from any of these diseases.  No other families will ever be changed for the worst with having to grow up without a mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, cousin or friend.

Jared, Colleen, Chris, Jack and I at the finish line

The Family at the Finish Line

We just did our part to say that we won’t stand for this and that we have the Womentum to fight until all women’s cancers are no more.

Jack and his medal

Additionally…can I just say that it was awesome to turn around in Central Park steps away from the Finish line and see Jimmy Fallon walking with us?!

Jimmy Fallon!!