Archive for category Va

Easter fun and the crazy things we do

After a nice and relaxing week in good ol’ Virginia Beach, Jack, Jeff and I are back in the saddle—well, we’re trying at least.  Per usual, our bags still need to be unpacked and toys are strewn about, but I’ll get to them.  I’ve got more important things to do like launch a website :)   And by the way everyone, thanks again for your support on spreading the word, commenting, Facebooking and the general pimping.  The feedback has been incredible so far!  Thank you!

Aside from my reluctance to abandon our routine, last week ended up being a nice change of pace.  I hated being so immobilized without a car and having opposite schedules than all of my friends who are on spring break THIS week.  But it was nice to sit and work without any major interruptions, or having to dig food out of anyone’s nose, or scolding someone for climbing atop tables.  Jeff gets really unruly these days. haha. just kidding.  Jack is a handful, but he is also the sweetest, lovey boy.  Except when he breaks things.  Ooops!
Easter, itself, was such a beautiful and hectic day.  As usual, we were running late to church and arrived to a parking lot that was so packed, traffic had to be directed to control the chaos.  The actual church was standing room only.  We stood shoulder-to-shoulder for a good portion of the mass, that is, until Jack decided to let everyone know—quite loudly—that he was hot, hungry and over it.

The rest of the day was spent Easter Egg hunting and chasing uncles and making grandparents laugh.  With us being so far away, I cherish the holidays because we all actually sit down to eat and talk and laugh.  I hope to continue fostering those special family traditions to balance out the crazy dysfunction.  We even took the time to enjoy “family” programming—Stepbrothers.  Because nothing says “family” more than laughing at a pair of manchilds when the storyline hits so close to home :)   There’s nothing like a full house, filled with laughter and delicious food.

Like most trips, the main caveat to all the family fun is always the havoc wreaked to our non-existent sleeping patterns.  Let’s see, of the entire week last week, Jack slept through the night only one night.  Every other night, if he wasn’t crying himself to sleep (my family is convinced he does this every night. I promise, it’s NOTHING like this here at home.) he was waking up boycotting sleep all together.  Awesome.

Last night was no exception.  Since we got home at about 1am, we had to wake Jack up to bring him inside.  Guess who was a bit upset by this?  You guessed it!  And since he was a screaming like a banshee, and Jeff needed to go to bed after a weekend full of driving, Jack and I retreated to our big blue chair.  It’s comfy, but not THAT comfy!  The sleeplessness never ends.

Oh and how about this picture?  After the crazy day at church, this is what I said to my family before they took Jack out in his white shirt to roll around in the mud and give him pots of water to play with,  “All I want is ONE decent picture in his Easter Sunday outfit.  Just one.”

THIS is what I get.

And it rocks because it’s so Jack.

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Spring break winding down

While many of you are probably getting ready for Spring Break, ours is slowly but surely winding down.  I’ve definitely enjoyed the extra help this week to take care of my various projects (namely, a lot of Next Kid Thing launch planning) and Jack has enjoyed the time spent with Lola and Lolo.  We’re looking forward to seeing even more family this weekend!

When I haven’t been working on the new site, I’ve been napping–not just for fun, but out of necessity.  It appears, someone has taken a dislike to his crib here.  Jack’s so used to his Stokke crib and the way it curves at either end.  I’ll always find him curled up in the corner at night.  But here, it seems like he just can’t get comfy.  By 1am, he’s protesting and making sure everyone knows it.  Blah.  But alas, hopefully, tonight will be a different case.

The weather is finally Spring-like, at least for VB.  If I ever finish sending out my mound of emails, I’m hopefully going to get out with the family (for the first time this week!) to join them for a stroll at the beach. ahhh…


As for the launch week for Next Kid Thing, I hope to share more insight and details later today or sometime this weekend.  I had a chance to contact a few more awesome companies who have interest in the new site.  Can you say, awesome giveaways galore!  But the thing is, in order for me to have such fun giveaways, I have to ask for your help.  It’s simple:  the more comments, interaction and visits to the new site, means more giveaways.  More details to come, including the week’s lineup and glorious giveaways, so stay tuned.  But in the meantime, check out the Next Kid Thing, tell your friends, tweet, blog, share on Facebook.  I’ll lurve you forever!  Friends and family that have already been doing all of the above, it means the world to me.  It truly, truly does.

P.S.  If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for the aden + anais giveaway!  It ends on Monday!

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WW: Pile up

WW: Pile up

When I needed help with deflating the blow-up rubber ducky bathtub to come back to NJ with us, I enlisted my brother’s help. My dad, Jack and other brother insisted on helping, or should I say, flattening!   There’s never a dull moment!

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Sneak peek of spring

Yesterday slidingwas a gorgeous day for us, and from what it sounds like, spring was in the air for many others as well. Jack and I left our big poofy jackets and gloves at home, unzipped the Bundle Me and spent several hours outside. We hit the park TWICE, had lunch and attempted to get some parking pass stuff fixed at the parking utility. Being outside in the sun and warmth made a big difference in our day; I felt much more productive, sociable and considerably happier—well, besides wanting to karate chop the lady at the parking utility. But, I digress…

Even though we officially have several more weeks left of winter, I’ll take one day of warmth and sunshine over none at all. I have a long list of places to go see once the weather is warmer. I can’t wait!


I’m finishing up last minute details on the new website and have recently made more contacts with a few more companies. I really can’t wait to get things rolling, which will be very, very soon! Speaking of getting things rolling, we’re heading out to Va. again tomorrow for yet another whirlwind weekend. This time, we’ll be home for a shower that I’m helping “host.” ;)

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The Year in Review

Dickens said it best with the first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
That infamous intro pretty much sums up our 2008. With the good, came the bad, but it was definitely a big year for our family.

Our kid grew at an exponential pace; with all the milestones and daily debacles, our family grew considerably; and as a person, I felt my own growing pains too. I’ll always hold 2008 dear to my heart because of all the milestones we’ve celebrated, but I’m so ready to say see ya later. We’re all excited for the promise 2009 brings.

And with that, I thought I’d share a pictoral highlights of 2008:

Momma and babe

oooh! I just remembered something.

racing stripe

Jeff's birthday

4 months old

it's official

watch out ladies

High chair

oh hey ma


Eating solids

Family portrait

wheeee daddyyyyy

new car seat!

Mother's Day at Shea

Mother's day at Shea

Jack "meeting" Paris

Jack the artist

admiring the sprinkler

Boat #2 and 10

10 months old

Watertown this way


look familiar?


first haircut

Pumpkin head

There's nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake

Jack and mom


Red and Blue all the way


Our spread

Jack and Santa

in front of our tree

Lots of promise upon the horizon

Have a safe and happy New Year celebration, everyone.

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Family fun and Christmas memories

It’s been a busy, but relaxing visit here at home in Va. Beach.  For the first few nights, I had a hard time (as usual) falling asleep because of the lack of city noise.  Strange, but true.
I’m starting to miss our normal routine, but I sure am enjoying the extra babysitting help.  Catching up on sleep is bliss.

I know I’m way behind on posts, but I hope everyone had a lovely holiday!  We sure did; ours was filled with lots of family fun, but catered to Jack’s schedule.  Instead of midnight mass on Christmas Eve, we enjoyed the usual family time and big dinner at my parent’s house.  We opened presents before Jack went to bed on Christmas Eve, simply out of excitement.  Last year, Jack was “boring” with all that baby business–the eating and sleeping stuff.  So my parents and brothers were sooo excited about his non-stop busy bodiness.  As predicted, Jack was spoiled rotten and showered with too many toys, but of course, he loved the wrapping paper and boxes the most!  Go figure! 

Christmas day was spent playing with toys and heading off to church.  We enjoyed relaxing together all day and watching Jack destroy everything in sight.

Last Friday, we hJack and his multiple Elmosad round 2 of Christmas with Jeff’s family.  It was a nice, laid back day with even more family fun.  All the older kids seemed to have a good time playing together and timesharing carrying their little cousin.  It’s always fun to watch all of them interact with one another!  The day was capped off by watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  And funny enough, Jeff and his brother (who recite every line, along with my nephew) received awesome moose mugs from their mom.  Too funny.

From multiple talking Elmos to awesome moose mugs, Christmas, as usual, was plentiful in the present department.  But my favorite Christmas memories this year are marked by the kids’ tiny footsteps, belly laughs and copycat antics.  Good times!
Family photo '08

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Tis’ the season for Green trees

Christmas season is in full swing, and we’ve got Christmas Trees on the brain at our house.  Besides trying to figure out the logistics of where to PUT our tree this year, I’ve been reading up on green trees, as in eco-friendly.

Even though our economy is in shambles, one article said, while many shoppers are cutting back on their holiday spending, Christmas tree sales don’t appear to be getting the ax.  People might be cutting back in spending, but the actual trees are one cutback families aren’t going to make, another report said.
Trees in the church parking lot down the block

Many of you might be in the market for the real deal.  We always had a real tree at my parents’ house as a kid, so naturally, even despite our tight space, we always go the real tree route.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) we’re not alone:

  • There are approximately 25-30 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year.
  • There are close to half a billion Real Christmas Trees currently growing on Christmas Tree farms in the U.S. alone, all planted by farmers. Real Christmas Trees are grown on farms North American Real Christmas Trees are grown in all 50 states and Canada. Eighty percent (80%) of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
  • Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
  • There are more than 4,000 Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States.
  • For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted in its place the following spring.
  • There are about 500,000 acres in production for growing Christmas Trees in the U.S.; much of it preserving green space.
  • There are about 21,000 Christmas Tree growers in the U.S., and over 100,000 people employed full or part-time in the industry.
  • It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of typical height (6 – 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.
  • The top selling Christmas Trees are: balsam fir, Douglas-fir, Fraser fir, noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and white pine.

But on the flipside,

  • According to figures released by the National Christmas Tree Association, Americans purchased 17.4 million artificial trees last year — a significant jump from the 9.3 million of the previous year.
  • Most fake trees (85%) in the U.S. are imported from China. Almost 10 Million fake trees were sold worldwide in 2003.
  • According to an article onAJC artificial trees are an alternative for those with allergies or asthma. Some people are allergic to terpene, the substance found in the oil or sap of Christmas trees, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
  • They are durable. They last about six years.
  • Artificial trees are affordable. They’re generally cheaper than cut trees because you can use them more than once. “Even though most consumers are still going to be putting up a Christmas tree for their holiday parties, they will be looking for discounts,” a spokesperson for an online retailer of Artificial Christmas Trees said. has a really great article on the pros and cons of the real vs. artificial vs. eco-friendly.

But my personal favorite option (if we had a yard):  Buy a potted tree that can be planted in your yard after the holidays.

We had a live tree several times growing up, and I remember it being a hassle for my dad, but it was fun to see one of those trees grow into a HUGE tree 20 some years later in their backyard.  This year’s Rockefeller Christmas Tree is just that, a live tree that was nourished by a family in central Jersey that went on to become the gianormous celebrated tree and quite possibly the best example of a true green Christmas Tree.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the kid’s eyes light up in awe over our Christmas Tree!

Whatever you do for your tree, enjoy!


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Bittersweet Thanksgiving Eve

CNN is reporting that more than 41 million people will be traveling today to reach their destination for Thanksgiving. If you’re one of them, be safe! For the past 8 years, on the eve of any other holiday, we’d have many bags packed and filled with anxiety about another trek home.  But this year, we’re staying here in NJ.  It’s bittersweet to say the least.
jack's luggage
You see, we love going home, especially at Thanksgiving.  What’s so hard however, is the mounting expense of traveling, the exhaustion (especially for Jeff) for the almost 400 miles each way and of course the sadness of leaving again when it’s time to travel back.

We’ll always associate Thanksgiving with gathering with our loved ones, but this year, because staying local made most sense for our family, I can’t wait to make this holiday our own for the first time.  Since Jeff suggested that we stay local this year, I negotiated that we do a NYC tradition that I’ve always wanted to do.  So, this afternoon, we have plans to go to the Macy’s Day Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade inflation extravaganza on the Upper West Side.

I’m getting in the “zone” to bake and hopefully not destroy our feast.  But most importantly, I know I can speak for Jeff and say, we’re excited to not to have to drive those long hours down to Va.  While I cook our feast tomorrow, surely, my heart will be heavy, but the day will go on.  But after all is said and done, we’ll have another holiday to look forward to, and a new trip to plan for–an almost 2 week excursion back home for Christmas.  Lesson learned:  with family sacrifice, in the future other provisions can be made.

Hopefully many of you are enjoying short work days today.  Where ever you might be, enjoy your long weekend and time with family! I’ll be back tonight with photos of our parade fun :)   And for our extended family back home in Va., we’ll miss you guys but thanks to technology, hopefully we can video chat tomorrow! woot!

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Eating and Traveling: Our Holiday Traditions

It’s day two of the blog party over at MomDot.  Today is sponsored by : LaPlates and Lets Go Strolling and Natitys Design.

Today’s question is what are some of your favorite family traditions? What are some that you want to begin?

Traditions…let’s see, we eat A LOT over the holidays.  That’s always our recurring theme.  Good eats in good company.  But other than eating more than we should, as previously mentioned, the husband and I are both from VA, so a good portion of our holiday season is spent driving.  So unfortunately, our little family doesn’t have any traditions of our own…yet.  More on that in a bit.

For Thanksgiving, we often eat 2 turkey dinners or something similar since we try our best to balance both sides of our families.  After a traditional dinner with Jeff’s family, we usually watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. All the men in the house have every single word memorized.  EVERY.SINGLE.WORD.

Bethany: Is your house on fire, Clark?
Clark: No, Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.

At some point of the evening, we head off to my family’s house where we do more eating.  On top of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, we infuse a bit of Filipino food.  Our holiday dinners wouldn’t be complete without rice, pancit, lumpia.  By the end of the evening, we’re all turkey-ed out.

Jen and Jeff's Christmas Card 2006

Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving–same hectic travel, but even more fun.  We spend Christmas Eve with my family.  We have dinner and then usually end the evening at Midnight Mass, which is always one of the highlights of the holidays for me.  After mass, we always do our presents.  So, if you do the math, we’re up unwrapping gifts and playing with new toys at 3 a.m.!

After sleeping in and a delicious brunch, we head off to the husband’s family’s house.  We do more of the same celebration–more eating and gifts!  It’s always a blast.  We’re so fortunate to have such a large family, but juggling the two has been our biggest tradition.

BUT, that’s all about to change (I think!)  Our little family—Jeff, Jack and me—are staying local for Thanksgiving.  So for the first time ever, it’ll be just the 3 of us.  Though plans aren’t concrete yet, instead of traveling almost 400 miles, we are planning on attending the Macy*s Day Parade float inflation on Thanksgiving Eve.  I haven’t even begun to think about making dinner, but I can’t stop thinking about the floats!  So far, that’s the only tradition we hope to start.   Since the holidays are all about family, we’re all about traveling to go see them, but in this dwindling economy, we’re making cutbacks, too.  So we’re traveling for one holiday instead of all of them.  It’s time to start our own traditions/

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Birthday Party fun, part II

Jack’s slowly but surely shaking this URI, though still hacking and sneezing more often than not. He lost a few pounds, but is definitely working back to that hearty appetite of his.

I finally got around to organizing my photos and thoughts about Jack’s first birthday, so I thought I’d share.

Jack's 1st Birthday Party

The boy’s birthday itself was definitely a momentous occasion for our little family. It not only marked a year into this funny adventure called parenthood, but it was a time to reflect on Jack’s colorful first year.

As we do for big holidays and occasions, we did the 350 mile trek down to VA to celebrate with family and friends. Because our life here in NJ has been so hectic with work and the pending transition, I quite honestly didn’t do too much to prepare for this shindig. While I love entertaining and partying in general, Jeff and I agreed that we are in that school of thought where over-the-top orchestrated parties should be reserved for bigger kids aka the non-shoe-eating crowd. To each his own, but for us, the drive down, alone, was a financial and time investment, not to mention a physical and mental sacrifice for the three of us.

The party was much like family parties that we’ve had in the past, except this one was all about our boy! There wasn’t really a theme per se—well unless you count exuberant chaos as a theme. I invited family members from both sides and a handful of friends in the area. Overall, it was an overwhelming turnout. From high school buddies and their kids to various giggling aunts, so many people came out to celebrate. The food, like most of our family parties, was abundant. We all ate, drank, watched Jack play with cake and cheered for cool little boy toys.

The birthday boy, much like his mom, was not the greatest at being the center of attention. Ok, so he hated all the attention. He whined and cried more times than I care to admit, but he absolutely adored being around all those kids. I know it’s so cliche to say, but Jack really wasn’t himself on his birthday. As I tried to grasp his crankiness, I told friends that he “realized” how much he missed my mom, which could’ve been the reason he lost his mind every time she left the room. Or, it could’ve been the big crowd or it could’ve been he was exhausted from the drive down. Who knows? There were times when I couldn’t even console him! He didn’t cry the whole day, he was just obviously having an “off” day.

Cranky pants aside, it was a fun day, thanks to our many friends and family. (Thanks again to all of you that came out! As I’ve learned over this past year: always expect the unexpected, even if it includes a sometimes uncooperative birthday boy. I’ll say it again, but I definitely look forward to celebrating holidays and birthdays in the state that we reside—wherever we end up! Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?

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