Posts Tagged family

Five Favorite Friday–Memorial Day Weekend

Ok, so I know Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, but quite honestly, I’ve been avoiding talking about it.  We came away with more miles on the car, a smiley kid and time well spent with the grandparents.  And for that, we’re grateful.

So for this five favorite friday, I thought I’d share my five favorite moments of the weekend.  There were so many classic moments, so this will be a fun way to recap another long weekend in Va. Beach.

1.  Jack and Lola watering the plants, which later led to Jack and Jeff trying to water Lola.

Jack and Lola watering the plantsGet her!

2. Jack “helping” to wash the cars.

The little guy isn’t so little anymore and insists on “helping” as often as he can. In this case, he proved to be a stellar sponge-wetter. And by the way, this particular car wash soap can double as a kid wash if you’re in a pinch. Ok, not really, but Jack certainly thought so.
Helping daddy and grandpa wash the carsspray me!

3.  The frog sprinkler.

Ah, the infamous frog sprinkler that I was reminded not to forget.  Nope, can’t forget the frog sprinkler!  It’s a good thing I didn’t, that thing was a hit!  Not bad for a $3 steal from CVS’ after-summer sale last year!

The frog sprinkler

4.  Playing in the rain.

I ran to Walgreens to pick up some bug spray, and I came back to this:

playing in the rain

5. Celebrating with the birthday boy.

Lately, trips home (for us) have become more stressful and exhausting than they’ve been enjoyable.  This time around, we were able to get schedules aligned with my restaurant/bar working brothers and for once, we actually celebrated a family member’s birthday together, albeit a week early!  yummm…Trader Joe’s Ice Cream Cake!

Celebrating with the birthday boy

Oh and if you make a face like this when I’m behind the camera you bet your ass I’m posting it on my blog and on Facebook.  Y’know, because that’s what big sisters do!  Happy Birthday, crazy Uncle John!

crazy uncle john

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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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Weekend fun: Toys “R” Us in Times Square

For the first weekend of Spring, I wanted nothing more than to bask in the sunshine and to frolic in the wilderness.

We went to Toys “R” Us in Times Square instead.  Close enough.

Because we were cooped up in the house for a good part of last week, I thought it would be fun to take a City day on Saturday.  On Saturday, TRU was celebrating the Little People’s 50th Birthday. With the Thomas the Train freebie going on and the birthday celebration, I thought it’d be a fun outing for the boy.  The dilemma, however, is that we have zero patience for crowds.  And when I mean ‘we,’ I mean Jeff.

Toys R Us, Times SquareTimes Square is an area of NYC that we only visit when we have out of town guests.  I mean, why would we want to subject ourselves to relentless foot traffic, compounded by the insane amount of car traffic?  We don’t go  often as we should and it is only a “quick” bus ride away, so we made an afternoon out of it.  Despite the not-so-quick, overcrowded bus ride that ended up taking well over an hour to take us the whole 2 miles from our neighborhood to NYC, plus the usual crowds in Times Square, it was fun to visit Toys “R” Us with our bright-eyed toddler.  It was packed inside of the 3-storied mega-store, but it was bearable compared to the sidewalk traffic–controlled chaos, if you will.  If you go to that store on a weekend, regardless of time of year, I guess you can only expect that level of craziness.  It is in the heart of one of the most touristy spots of NYC.

In the end, braving the crowds is always so worth it.  TRU in Times Square is definitely a wonderland for kids of all ages:  Legos, robots, a giant roaring dinosaur, a menagerie of stuffed animals, a walk-through Barbie doll house, baby toys galore and so much more.  Jack ran amok with all the other little kids, howled at all the fun toys that he’ll never own, sat and colored and checked out more toys than his little head could handle.
Hi-fiving the character guy

We browsed the usual kiddie sections, admired/feared the roaring dinosaur and had some fun with the Little People Celebration.  The highlight, at least for me, was scoring the free Thomas the Train toys.  TRU had coupons for free wooden trains and we got 2–one Thomas and Lights and Sounds Percy.  It seems like train tables and the plethora of accouterments are a classic among the preschool set, so it was pretty cool to get Jack’s first trains for free.  And what a deal:  each train was in the $20 range, and it was free!  Although, Jeff calls it the drug dealer mentality, that once you get one or two parts for free, you’ll want to continue feeding your fix with the hundreds of other train parts and pieces. I’m not having that yet; we have enough teeny tiny random toy pieces already in our space-challenged apartment.  But thanks, TRU for the free trains!

Terrified of the dinosaurAfter about 2.5 hours we were all spent from the crowds and craziness.  We left the giant Toys “R” Us with our freebies, a new stuffed Plex (the yellow robot from Jack’s new favorite show, ) a goody bag and a cute Polaroid w/ a life-sized Little People character.  It was a fun outing, but definitely one that can only be enjoyed in small, infrequent doses.

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Pink strollers, Happy the Hibachi guy and cousin fun

As a result of inexplicable early morning wakings and the usual mischief, by the end, I could easily categorize last week as probably one of my most difficult weeks as a mom so far.  By Friday, I was so done—like, completely fried.  But, a quick trip to go see family in southern NJ couldn’t have been planned at a better time.

On Saturday, we went to visit cousins in Manahawkin.  Jack is right in the middle age-wise of Karen and Nick’s girls, Katarina (3) and Madeline (8m), so it was too cute to watch the 3 interact.  In between pushing the pink strollers, shopping cart, dragging and then feeding the baby dolls, Jack made sure to make their toybox explode, much like he does at home.  I’m assuming that because Katarina and Madeline’s toys were a bit different from what Jack is used to, he felt the need to play with every single doll, shopping cart and play food. (So sorry, guys!)  When he wasn’t darting off in every different direction, Jack made sure to get in some quality time with the fam.  Jack was snuggly with Karen and made himself comfortable in her lap.  He made sure to share kisses with sweet Madeline and sneak in a few hugs with Katarina when she least expected.  Besides my child terrorizing the calmness of their home, it was fun to watch the 3 kidlets play and laugh together, especially since they’re Jack’s only cousins in NJ!

The 3 kids playingJeff "selling" the ipod Touch to KarencousinsKaren, Jack and Madeline

While the kids played, the parents played with their own toys–the electronic gadget kind!  Jeff shared his love of his iPod with Nick and Karen!  We capped off the visit with a trip to a fun Hibachi restaurant.  Well, it started out fun until Jack crashed and burned before Happy the Hibachi guy could even cook up the fried rice!  Because Jack boycotted an afternoon nap to maximize his time to terrorize his cousins and all of their toys, I was foolish to think he could last until after dinner.  Hahaha. Who was I kidding!!?  On the bright side, since my whiny, uncooperative child needed to be excused from the table, he helped me refrain from shoving the entire heaping plate of food in my mouth!  When it was time to leave, we were barely out of the parking lot and Jack was practically asleep.

After a chaotic week at our house, family time is exactly what we all needed!  Jeff always tells me he hopes that Jack gets to experience the fondness and closeness of his cousins, just like he did with his PA cousins!  As soon as the kids get over that “he’s touching me” phase, I’m sure they’ll be heckling one another through whatever is the equivalent of Facebook when they get older–at least, one can hope!  :)

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New beginnings

It was a monumental day today, one that I shared with Jack and watched proudly, just like millions of other Americans.  It was an emotional inauguration for me, just like it was for many others, but most certainly, it was amazing to witness the culmination of a new era.

Jack and I stopped what we normally do–me, type, write and read; him, run around and destroy things– and stood still with everyone else to watch and applaud.  I’m not ashamed to admit this, but I’ve probably watched 10 hours of coverage (so far) because I simply could not look away.

Over the weekend, Jeff had a great conversation with our friend regarding the excitement about today’s Inaugural events.  Jeff said something to the nature of, “The Inauguration of our first minority president is huge.”  And from that one statement, he reminded us that Barack Obama represents much more than race.  Again, in Jeff’s words, Obama represents the scope of the American people.  Not only am I so proud to be an American today, but like many of you, I am full of hope.

In the late Tim Russert’s words, “What a country.”

Inauguration day

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Pearls of wisdom, the vacation edition

From our recent vacation, we came away not only with a mountain of toys, but also many more pearls of wisdom.  (chuckle)
So instead of another long, drawn-out post about all the happenings, I thought these thoughts deserved bullet points.

1.  When there was only 2 of us, there was never enough time to do/see everything we wanted.  With 3 of us, we don’t even have time to THINK about all those things, never mind actually do them.
2.  You know those little kiddie luggage that say, “visiting Grandma and Grandpa,”  I’m going to get one and cross it out and write: “Going to Lolo and Lola’s.  What Jackson wants, Jackson gets.”
3.  In all seriousness, sleeping in is bliss.  An extra 2 sets of hands is even more bliss.
4.  All that sleeping bliss on vacation translates into interrupted toddler sleeping pattern post-vacation.  Bliss was shortlived–we’re BACK to square one in the sleeping through the night crusade. (sigh)
5.  Once upon a time, when we visited home, we hit many bars in a weekend.  In 2 weeks, we saw 2 bars, for less than 2 hours each.  If New Year’s Eve was really reserved for amateurs, these old partying vets stayed in pjs–by choice.  Funny how times change.
6.  Watching the kid interact with his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousin induced fuzzy feelings and painted-on grins.
Jack learned a new “trick.”  He would grab any unsuspecting person by a singular finger to drag them to the next room to do something mommy usually outlawed.  More fuzzy feelings.
7.  Speaking of fuzzy feelings, my brother introduced us to Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.  Mmmm vodka.  mmmm sweet tea.  Sweet Tea Vodka is delicious, just ask my husband.
8.  Even after all these years of living away, like all most of our old haunts, our favorite Mexican restaurant never gets old.  I think we ate there 4 different times while we were home.  Wondering if they deliver to Hoboken, NJ.  (It’s so ironic that we both worked [and reconnected] at a now-defunct Mexican restaurant chain)
9.  Trading in our old car for the new was a lot of work.  God bless Jeff for doing the grunt work and for dad’s help, too!
10.  Contrary to what many believe, our new sedan IS much more spacious than a small SUV and much more fuel efficient–to the tune of 28 mpg vs.19.  Big difference for a family that can easily burn through 100k miles in 4 years.
10.  Needless to say, good times with family and friends rock, but getting back to our regular routine is healthy.
11.  As hard as it is to say good bye, it makes going back home for a visit that much more special.
12.  Unpacking after said long trip is impossible.  (Wondering if I could keep bags packed until next visit.)

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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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Big boy victories and fist pumps

Brrrr…it’s so cold here that I actually slept with my sweatshirt AND hood on last night. Besides the cold temps, our weekend was pretty much a bust. So, while everyone was out doing holiday-related stuff, we were not. In fact, our house won the bad luck lottery and seem to have what’s been lingering in the area for awhile–the dreaded stomach bug. We’d been hearing that it was going around town and seemed to escape it, but alas, we were not so lucky after all. Jeff said he felt hungover all weekend while I felt like I had morning sickness x10. (And I assure you, it is NOT morning sickness.)
I detoxed from the computer, got absolutely nothing done, but it was nice to nap all weekend. While Jack wasn’t full-on sick, his tummy has definitely been bothering him for quite sometime, not to mention, his first molars are coming in. blah…

On the upside, not only have I napped gratuitously lately, as of a week now, my child is no longer waking up at 2 and 3 a.m. just for the hell of it! I don’t want to jinx it because this teething crap can squash my sleeping through the night joy in a hot second, but let me celebrate this singular, Herculean big boy victory.


With all that sleep, we even found time to make up a secret handshake. Not really. We started pounding our fists and Jack found it hysterical for some reason. And please, don’t ask me WHY we were fist pumping in the first place. There are just some things words cannot explain.

Good times.

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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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