Happy 5th Birthday, Jackson!

Dear Jackson,

Today, my sweet boy, you turn five. Five days, five weeks and five months old all seemed unimaginable at the time…but, five years? Completely surreal.

jack and mini mohawk

Five years ago today, I was in a hospital hooked up to more machines than I could count. At the time, being induced to deliver you, my overcooked baby, seemed positively terrifying. Twenty-sevens hours of labor, emergency c-section, cord wrapped around your neck AND a true knot? Your grand entrance was the best outcome that would change my world forever.

Since that day, the world has known more smiles, more Jack-isms—all the things that have filled my world with more joy AND gray hair. At five years old, you seem to love everything. You love the world around you; our home, our neighborhood and especially school. You made so many friends this summer at the lake, and made such an impression, you were even asked to be in the Royal Court, which, apparently is a big deal around here. So, at just 5, you’re a “made man” as far as ILCC goes. That said, you seem to have transitioned to suburbia quite well. You don’t ask about our little house as much as you used to and have actually forgotten the joys of walking everywhere. You’re officially a swimmer now and are a fearless little fish.

Music continues to be your biggest interest, where original “songs” and freestyle raps are a crowd-pleaser. Guitar, keyboard and drums are all part of your 5-year old repertoire. You may look like Uncle John’s mini-me, but you are very much your father’s son. You have an obscure penchant for commercials and know all the jingles and catchphrases. You ask if we need fifty percent more cash, are convinced I need a Genie Bra and are genuinely concerned when you ask, “What’s in your wallet?” You are such a sponge for information and the things you learn. You have the same ability to recite lyrics and movie lines and every day details, even after only seeing these things once. It’s quite creepy actually, and also a reminder of mommy’s flightiness and old age. Nevertheless, it’s quite fitting that you share a birthday with Google.

Of all of your fun attributes, perhaps it’s your heart of gold that I love most about you. As much as I’d love to take credit for this, this is not a learned trait; this is just who you are. You’re generous, thoughtful, and extremely conscientious. You care about those around you, as much as you care about yourself. This is something that sets you apart from others. When mama was pregnant with Joshy, you took such good care of me—retrieving shoes, pillows, snacks—you name it, you did it without a blink. This foreshadowed the months to come, as beknownst to us, our family would see more medical emergencies than any family should see in a lifetime. Sadly, at just five years old, anaphylaxis, “allergic to penicillin,” and “nasty seizures” are all part of your vernacular. From these life experiences, thankfully, we’ve grown as a family. And through these adversities we’ve learned the significance of selflessness, and yes, selfishness too. And you, my boy, have shown so much resilience and selflessness when others have commanded more attention than you. My heart fills with pride when you reinforce how you are such a valiant little boy, like the time you offered a handshake to the little boy who punched you in the face. Forgiveness is not one of my strong suits, admittedly, but with your big heart, I’m constantly learning from you.


You’re far from perfect, though; you are our kid, after all. We’ve seen the separation anxiety come back with a vengeance this year, which is both understandable and unbearable at times. Occasional entitlement and brattiness have reared their heads, too. Perhaps the unrealistic outings with celebs and media events have done this or was it all the toys that come in for mama’s work? Or maybe it’s just the fact that you’re very much a 5 year old? Either way, I gladly embrace your shortcomings as much as I do all the good stuff. Just like me, you’re a work in progress, and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

Thank you, Jack, for changing my world. I never envisioned myself here—a work at home mom that jumped off the corporate ladder just for you. Lucky you, my guilt overcame my corporate world ambitions when I could no longer allow you to be the very last baby to be picked up at daycare every day. I’m so thankful that the stars aligned and I was able to make a change that would make all of us happier, even if it means to sacrifice things. Even on the days you prefer dad to me, I will continue to rule the roost to ensure that you and your brother become independent, caring, forward-thinking young men. So, no matter how many times you think it’s funny to tell me to “go to work” and daddy should stay home with you, I’m not going anywhere. Well, except when work really does call.
Thank you for making me laugh every day, even when I lose my patience with you. Thank you for telling me you love me every day and for proclaiming me the “best mommy ever” (even though sometimes that’s accompanied by a not-so-hidden agenda). Thank you for being such an incredible big brother to Josh; It goes without saying that Joshy is so lucky to have a pretty rad role model like you. Thank you, Jackson Foster Bertram, for being you.

Happy 5th Birthday, Jack. I love you.

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Sunday (Not-So) Funday

For the first time in a few years, I have that Sunday night anxiety.  It’s that same awful feeling I used to get on Sunday nights; that feeling of hopelessness, angst and fear, knowing that I was about to return to a job that stressed me out.

Instead of returning to a job that stressed me out, tomorrow, I will be on my own with the two kids for the first time since Josh’s seizures.  For the the past week, I’ve had a knowledgeable medical staff just a call button away,  my parents’ moral and logistical support, and of course, Jeff’s unflappable presence.

Shortly after Josh’s birth in January, I remember thinking, “I’ve GOT this. I can do this, this 2 kid thing.”

I had more confidence in myself than I thought I would, and even started attending press events and writing, just two weeks after his birth. Crazy, dedicated and insane were the words I believe friends called me.  Truthfully? I love being a mother more than anything, but MY happiness lies within pursuing the things that round me out as a whole. Balance, it’s how we do.

But…after Josh’s ordeal? My parenting confidence is completely decimated.  My heart palpitates with worry, I jump every time the baby coughs or sneezes, and worst of all, Jack feeds off of my neurosis and irritability.

Mom, dad and John were supposed to come up to help me this week, but unfortunately, work schedules come first.  As a family, Jeff and I have overcome hardships, and I know we’ll make it through this uncertain transition—one therapy session at a time.



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Nobody Puts Babyrific on Hiatus

So. I haven’t written on Babyrific in over 2 years. There’s so many reasons for this: I’ve been busy, I’ve been procrastinating and well, I’ve been holding out.  I won’t go into detail about why, but let’s just say, I’ve always been perfectly fine with sharing my life online, that is until loved ones criticized my parenting.  But, to hell with them.

If you’re here again, or maybe for the first time, you might know that since originally starting this blog, we’ve moved to the suburbs, had another beautiful boy and have had quite a few health scares this year.  And that, my friends, is why Babyrific is officially being resuscitated.

Bear with me though, I have A LOT of housekeeping to do around here.  If the site loads slow, please be patient, I’ll fix it…eventually.  For now, this is my main sounding board for our latest adventures, but more specifically, for updating family and friends about the baby’s condition.


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Day 3: EGG Monitoring and Making Progress

Even though we’ve been updating regularly on our social media outlets, there’s still so much to be said when you’re trying to wrap your brain around a family crisis.  So, that’s why I’m here.

Just like your kids (or pets and loved ones) are for you, my babies are my world.  My husband is too, but it’s OUR babies that truly make our worlds complete.  And so, when Josh first started having his seizures, I couldn’t help but research, record and take even more pictures.  It’s what I do…even moreso at a time like this.

I’ll get around to updating what we went through this week, but I thought I’d throw in the video diaries that I made on various days, starting with day 3.

This is just a short candid video (read: unedited) of me rambling on and on about Josh, and how he made it through his first night without a seizure. He’d only been stable a few hours, but it was perfect progress, something the neurologists were hoping for.

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Episode One

It was an undeniably sunny Saturday.  A perfect kind of day that we were lucky enough to enjoy at Sesame Place; the rides, fuzzy characters, the slides and the biggest, coolest splash park a kid could imagine.

We spent most of the day in the sun, something we’ve done multiple times at the lake.  We stayed hydrated on Saturday, took breaks from the heat and made sure everyone was happy.  So, who could’ve predicted that a day full of laughs would somehow end in tears in the ER.

On Saturday, that’s just what happened.  After an incredibly fun day, followed by an 1.5 ride home, our four month old, Joshua, gave us the scare of our lives.  Completely exhausted form our day at the water park, Jeff and Jack went immediately upstairs to bed, while I changed the baby downstairs.  On his changing table, eerily enough, a baby staple that I just so happened to rave and write about, Joshua’s hazel eyes turned a striking blue and blinked profusely.  His body, stiff as a board, yet somehow managed to twitch as if being shocked.  His lips turned purple, his porcelain skin was cold; these symptoms paralyzed me for fear that my baby was in some kind of pain. I screamed for Jeff.  And screamed again, until he truly heard the terror in my cry.

“The baby is having a seizure,” I yelled.

Before grabbing his phone, Jeff shook both hands rapidly, something he does when he’s nervous.  Which is never.

“I’m calling 911.  Is he ok?” He asked as I cradled our boy who shook uncontrollably.

“Don’t wake Jack. Just call Sharon.” I suggested, as we tried to figure out what the hell to do next.

In less than three minutes, two police officers and the EMT flung open our front doors and asked to see Josh.  Limp and exhausted, Josh’s seizure had ceased as I handed him over to the uniformed officers.  In just a diaper and rash guard, Josh was still cold and could barely hold up his own head.

The cops and EMT ushered me into the ambulance, not before I grabbed a few essentials: baby’s pjs, diapers and my iPad (to Google baby’s ailments, of course).  We made the 2 mile drive to St. Clare’s emergency room, which was clearly the place to be on a Saturday night.

No room at the inn, we were directed to hang out on a gurney in the hallway until they had a bed available.  And so I stood there, with my cold, crying baby…confused and totally alone.  That is, until our friend and next door neighbor walked into the ER to provide support, just like she did 3 months ago when Jeff went into anaphylactic shock.  Josh was just 5 weeks old at the time, my incision was still sore and my nerves were just as shot.

Jeff and Jack finally made their way to the ER, just in time for us to get our own room and for the dr. to visit.  After giving him the run down on what happened, he mentioned having to insert the IV in the baby.  I took that as my cue to take Jack and walk around.  As we came back, Jeff walked out of the room before we arrived.  His eyes welled up, and forehead revealed his worry:

“Baby had another seizure as the nurses tried to give him a catheter.”

And that’s when I lost it and whisked Jack off to a waiting room tucked into a corner.  I hugged my older boy and asked him to pray that our baby boy would be ok.

“It’s ok, mama. Joshy’s going to be just fine.”

I cried harder, hugged Biggie tighter, but said nothing.

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Pizza Play: delicious, fun and did I say delicious?

When I’m not blogging or busy running after Jack all day, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for articles to write and pitch.  One topic that’s of interest is, kids and healthier eating habits.  Food has always been a focal point in regards to my interests in parenting, particularly because I have the worst eating habits.  THE worst.

This year (like every other new year) Jeff and I have vowed to eat healthier.  And hey, if we lose weight in the process, score!  But ideally, we’re hoping to refine our eating habits so that they’ll influence Jack to make healthier choices on his own.

Now that Jack’s old enough to “pretend,” he’s been loving to play-cook.  Clearly, we don’t have the room for a play kitchen, but I had the grand idea to let him help me make pizza, or as he calls it, “Patzi.”  I know pizza isn’t the healthiest food, but a smaller portion with healthy sides is decent compromise.

And since we’ve been cooped up for the most part because of the cold and rain, “playing pizza” was a fun activity and fun way to prepare lunch.

Jack loved putting on an apron, though I should totally make him one in his own size.  One day…

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Dodging playgroups and hugging my calling card

I had somewhat of an epiphany yesterday…after watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.

Yeah, I really just said that.

I’ve always said that I don’t refer to myself as a “housewife” or as they say, SAHM.  We don’t go to playgroups or hangout at Starbucks or Panera like some of my mom friends in town are known to do.  Not that anything’s wrong with that—aside from the work that is being a mother, I consider myself a mom who works at home.

jack and his computerAnd I do…every day while trying to raise a toddler practically by myself during the week, while spearheading a website, making industry connections, attending meetings with toy executives, wiping a resistant booty, while fielding emails and ignoring laundry.

I work.  Just like so many other mamas, my daily struggle is trying to find that balance.  Yup, I’m still going at it.  Boohoo, right?

Nah…but as of late, I feel so completely overwhelmed by this existentialist crisis I have going on.

WHAT am I doing and where am I going with all of this?  Was dropping out of the conventional “rat race” worth it?  If I’m home most of the time caring for my own kid, then why do assholes look at me as if I’m the pariah?   If I went back to work in an office to work for the man again, just to feel worthless and constricted creatively, who wins then?  The kid who goes to daycare from 7am to 7pm everyday?

I’m over a year into this now, but as I get deeper into this path I’m on, I hear/feel/see more flack than you’d ever believe.

Is it really 2010?

This mommy wars stuff is bullshit.  And it’s hitting me hard.

I’ll save the rest of my dialogue for another day, the one where I’ve created this website that fuels my passion and creative desires.  The one where companies fill my mailbox with their new products, just to have a chance to be mentioned on my little site.  I’m only a year in, and I’ve barely scraped the surface.  Again, I’m not moving mountains here, I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do…

It’s exciting to experience the progress of this new direction and watch my vision grow.

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Are you Over or Under?

With all the contests that I do over on NKT, it’s my turn to enter a few!  Cottonelle, which just so happens to be our tp of choice (is that too TMI?) is having a fantastic contest courtesy of Mom Bloggers’ Club.  They’re giving away a month’s worth of Cottonelle for the first 200 bloggers to participate in their promotion.  I voted in their roll poll and now I’m telling all of you about it.  Um, hi, count me in because goodness knows, we use a LOT of toilet paper in this house.  (TMI again, I know!)

Guess what, if you guys leave a comment on this post you will be entered to win 1 of 10 Cottonelle gift baskets randomly chosen on January 29, 2010 from all entries.  Awesome!  Are you guys Roll Under or Roll Over?  We’re roll OVER all the way! Be sure to check out their roll poll and see what everyone else is!

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Martha on my mind

At this very moment, I’m sitting on the floor, next to a pile of clothes, all of which I can’t wear tomorrow.  You see, I should be in bed resting up for an (exciting day that will start at 6am no less) but no, this is quite typical for me.

I have closets full of clothes, but nothing to wear.  I know, it’s the same song and dance for so many others, but I literally can’t wear most of these clothes tomorrow.

Why, you ask?  That’s because I’m headed to the Martha Stewart Show tomorrow, the blogger show to be a little more specific. (YAY!)  Why can’t I wear them? Other than my wardrobe being so outdated because I’ve been living in yoga pants for the past year, the show requested that we not wear black, gray or muted colors.

Uh, yeah, that’s my entire wardrobe.  I have every shade of black: pants, shirts, sweaters, socks–everything.  This shouldn’t be so hard, right! Rrrrrrrright.

I’m sure I’ll figure it out…eventually.


Now back to the Martha Show, those that know me well should know that I love being crafty and creative.  I’ve always considered Martha’s recipes, crafts and projects the pinnacle.  At weddings, I used to be able to spot Martha Stewart inspired crafts or decor–I had every issue of Weddings from 2001-2004.  (Yeah, I got married in 2003, I just couldn’t get enough!)

Suffice it to say, I think Martha rocks.

2009 Christmas Card

Today, I have Martha’s Pate Brisee memorized by heart.  If I’ve baked for you, it’s likely you’ve had it and never even knew it, but I bet a Martha fan might.

I’m an obsessive DIYer by choice, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I see cards, paper goods and now, even websites, and think, “I can do that myself!”

Sometimes I can’t, but I’ll teach myself until I can.  I’m crazy like that.

fresh fruit tarts

So, once the whole Martha Show started making waves about their upcoming Blogger Show, I couldn’t NOT go.  Many of my NYC-area blogging friends are going and it’s sounding like it’ll be a fabulous time.  I’ll be sure to update my FB status and of course Twitter with fun updates!

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that going to see a Martha Show is a dream come true.  Let’s just hope that I find something NOT black to wear.

And at this hour, that I get up on time!!!

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I want more Uncle

At the grocery store last weekend, I found my way to the potato chip aisle—looking for ricecakes of course.

Behind me, I could hear a little voice coming from the shopping cart.

“I want Uncle.”

Trying so hard to ignore ridiculous toddler requests, I didn’t respond.

“Uncle!! Mama, I want UNCLE!”

I turn around to see Jack pointing at the broad spectrum of Lay’s potato chips.

He continued to chant, “UNCLE, uncle, mama, I want UNCLE! PLEEEEEEEEEEAASE!”

I got the hell out of that aisle faster than you could say ricecake.

So, yes.  Our 2 year old adores his crazy uncle so much that anything he associates with my quirky brother, he thinks they’re called “uncle.”  Potato chips, you see, are the frequent sidedish to ALL of my brothers meals next to the vegetables, rice and whatever else might be served.  Every meal.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Potato Chips.

And when we visit, guess what Jack also gets unbeknownst to me?  Yeah, handfuls of “uncles.”


Pretzels, by the way, are also uncles.  As are Pirate’s Booty and popcorn too.  I guess we can assume that until further notice any snacky kind of food, especially the kind we don’t have in our house, will be referred to as “uncles.”

All that driving and picking up our lives and living out of suitcases for days at a time over the holidays?  Yeah, it’s little nuances like this, that make it so worth it.  If there’s anything–ANYTHING–we want to give Jack in this big, big world, it’s to provide the warmth and closeness of family, no matter how far we are.

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been home, and though I’m STILL trying to get my life back in order and get caught up, Jack still can’t stop talking about “going to the Beach” and “going to Yoyo’s house.”  It might make my heart ache when he pouts about missing Uncle and everyone else, but it makes me realize, that even at 2, just how much he appreciates our sacrifices along the way.

And the uncle/potato chip misnomer? ha.  He’ll never live that down. And if I have it my way, maybe uncle John can switch up his eating “routine” and switch the chips for something less gross.  How about it, John?

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