Sister, Sister

Let's talk about sisters for a moment, shall we?

I struck the sister lottery with three of the most warm, caring, talented, supportive sisters whom I consider my best friends. Granted, things weren't always rosy: As the youngest, I had many bedroom doors slammed in my face, persona non grata in their world which I considered much so cooler than my own. Their closets were packed with clothes I wanted to wear, their shelves stacked with tapes (yes, tapes) I wanted to listen to, or toys I wanted to play with, or, later, goopy lipglosses and shimmery eyeshadows and neon-hued nail polish I couldn't keep my hands off of. I snuck in those rooms as much as I could. And I almost always got caught. And they hated me for it. At least for that day or that very hour, and then we'd make up or at least be forced to play nice for the sake of my frazzled parents who put out more fires than FDNY. 

But we grew up. We grew closer. By the time I reached college, I lost my annoying little sister tendencies (or at least I'd like to think I did), and we became friends, even living together all in one West Village brownstone while I interned in NYC for the summer. Since then, we've been though the high highs and the low lows, the stuff that makes you grow even closer. I've developed the kind of relationships with each of them where we may not see each other for months but then fall back into step with ease as though no time has passed. 

Now, having two girls of my own, I want that same kind of bond for them. I know it can't be forced. Just two years older, Nora didn't coo and coddle Nell as a newborn; she tolerated her. She quickly developed a habit of squeezing her a little too tight, or playing a little too rough, and Nell eventually wanted nothing to do with her. In the past few weeks, though, I've noticed a budding friendship between the two. Like tonight before bed, Nora insisted on turning off the lights in Nell's room to have a "dark dance party." The light from my phone illuminated their PJ-clad figures as they spun, dizzily, to Let it Go (what else?). Nell, bouncing unsteadily on her tiny feet, spreading her arms out wide, Elsa style, as she belted out her own version (which, by the day, is sounding more and more like the actual words), Nora, turning ever-so-slowly ("Like a real ballerina, Mommy!"). They laughed and sang and twirled. Two sisters. Two friends. 

I know there will be slamming doors, and pinching, and scratching, and biting words in our future (but hopefully no biting!). Yet for now, for perhaps just for a brief, blissful period, my girls have found each other.


The weightiness of October

October is a complex month. In September, we're coasting along, riding the tail end of the long wave of summer...then October comes along and...wham! Fall is here. The temperature drops. The leaves fall. And it rains. A lot. I always forget how much it rains.

But there are also those gorgeous, #nofilter October days that make you wish that you could press pause on the temperature, the low humidity, the warm sunlight filtering through the vibrant trees. The days when I'm driving along in our neighborhood with the windows down, singing along to some awful song on the radio with the kids and exalting, "This is my most favorite time of the year!" The crisp, clear, days remind me of one of the best days of my life: Our wedding, on October 29, 2005. I remember poring over the Farmer's Almanac in the weeks prior to the wedding, analyzing the past years' weather and trying to calculate the chances of rain. Nothing was even scheduled to be outside, but I wanted pictures at the Grotto. It was a perfect, sunshiny day, of course. And I got my pictures.

Mark's birthday is in October--a day I admittedly always manage to bungle somehow. This year, for the big 36, we had just returned from our kid-free trip to the Pacific Northwest. I spent the afternoon visiting Jeanie and Uncle Phil, my mom, Leezie and Lily at the Farm. We got home too late for any formalities; I dashed into Weis to buy a cheesecake and poor Mark ordered his own birthday pizza. Wife of the year right here. But Papa and Diz came over, we sang, and the kids blew out the candles, and gave him a couple of gifts, including a glittery Redskins Christmas Ornament Eamon so sweetly picked out just for Daddy. He says it was all he wanted, glittery ornament and all. I think I still owe him.

Gotta say, that cheesecake was delicious. 

But with the celebrations of October come a bit of weightiness, too. The month can't slip by without bleak memories of losing both Grandmommy and Grandpop, just a year apart in mid-October of 2004 and 2005. How we all forged forward and had my wedding just two weeks after Grandpop's funeral, I don't know. Reflecting on that horrible contradiction of emotions still makes me a little nauseous, but all along I've known that having a big ol' party was what he would have wanted. The man already had his tux pressed and shoes shined. He was going to walk my Mom down the aisle.

10 (and 9) years gone by, yet I still hear their voices, still feel their papery, but smooth skin. Still feel the stiffness and stickiness of Grandmommy's voluminous, snow-white hair after she had it "done." Still hear Grandpop's cackling laugh and the sternness in his voice after he chastised me for doubting him..."99 out of 100 times, I am right." I tell stories about them to the kids all the time. They know the Farm as "Grandpop's Farm" even though they came long after he climbed that tractor for one last spin in the fields. Nora knows that she has Grandmommy's nose, and that we spotted it early on in one of her very first sonograms. And soon Nellie will be able to understand that maybe, just maybe, got her sparkling blue eyes from JDOC.

One of the BEST times--Oysters with Grandpop in NYC!

As my friend Crystal told me, it's far better to remember the birthday than the last day, so I never dwell on those dates. Yet they do manage to creep into my conscious on gloomier days, like today. I get an inexplicable sinking feeling and then realize the significance of the date. The memories flood back. The painful ones, yes, mostly the amazing ones that make me appreciate the time we had together and wish for just one more hour with each of them.

But back to the much better bits of October. Pretty soon, Halloween will be ringing our doorbell, and I better have some tricks and treats ready. It's going to be major. Like sugar-crazed preschoolers running wild around our house major. The kids are off of school that day, so of course we're throwing a party for Nora and her classmates, and likely some of E's friends too. And of course I've invited neighbors to come over to our house after trick-or-treating later that evening. I'm sure I'll go into a Pinterest-fueled fury leading into it all and will be making pumpkin-shaped cake pops until 3 a.m. the night before. Mark may want to divorce me. But then we'll have a great time, the kids will love their cakepops (and hopefully not smush them into our brand new carpet), and I'll pin my pics like it was all so easy, eventually forgetting how I vowed to never make those motherf&*$ing cake pops ever again.

It better not rain.

Halloween '13: Let's hope Nellie won't be so terrified this year. Or that Nora won't hug her so hard. 

This year, we'll be going on a variation of the bug and super hero theme, throwing in a princess for good measure. Can you guess who will be whom? 


I'm baaaack.

It's been a while.

Things have changed.

Kids are growing, vocabularies are expanding, homework is a thing now.

But I don't want Eamon, Nora, and Nell to one day find this blog and think that all of a sudden I grew disinterested in them or had nothing new to report. It's just the opposite, of course. Every single hour is filled to maximum capacity leaving me little time to do anything else but work and collapse into a heap at the end of the very long day.

Yet I want to remember this time. To sanctify it. To put it in a vault where it will remain, in like-new condition, for eternity. To record their little phrases, sayings. The way Nellie responds to nearly every request with an enthusiastic "Otay!" The way Nora slips into my side of the bed in the mornings to "snuggle in," folding her little body into mine for 30 blissful moments before the chaos begins. The way Eamon zips through his math work faster than I can even process the problems (clearly his Daddy's son). Or how he sends me sweet texts and leaves notes on my phone like "EAMON IS CRAZY COOL."

There's so much. So much fun. So much that drives me absolutely crazy. So much whizzing by at a pace I just can't keep up with. So, so much love.

Eamon, Nora, and Nellie, if you are reading this in the future and you want to know why Mommy just stopped writing updates and posts about you at some point in 2014, know that it was because I was having way too good of a time with you to sit down and actually write about it. (Oh, and there's this little thing called Instagram that kind of took over for a while...). But I do love writing about each of you. And our conventional, crazy, chaotic life. So I promise I'll try again, starting now.

You guys are just too cool not to document. 


Birthday pics!

Because when else to post pictures of a birthday party than two months after the date? At least it's not two years. I just added a few to our kiddo blog. Check it out here.


Mark's out of town, meaning I'm up late poring through pictures I never get around to taking off my camera. Like this one, and the others I took around Nellie's 8 month birthday, which you can check out here. 


Catching Up: Eamon's Buggy Bash

It's been a while since I visited this blog. Life is whooshing by at a frenetic pace and I rarely have a chance to sit on my computer and do something that's not work related. Anyway, summer came and (sadly) went in an instant. We had a wonderful one. Lots of sun, fun, and adventures. Including Eamon's big fifth birthday bash--or shall I say bashes. Because you only turn five once in your life, we threw Eamon TWO parties, one with our family and close friends and one with our friends from Eamon's preschool. The thought of having one gigantic party with up to 40 children under 10 was way too scary for me, so we decided to split it up into a two-day event. And we pulled it off, somehow.

Party #1 was a bug-themed bash. All summer long, we discovered all sorts of creepy crawlers in our backyard, so I thought why not roll with that theme for the party. Perfect for a little guy, right? Setting the stage was this cute invite from Paperless Post:

I then popped on over to Pinterest for some party inspiration and realized you could go in a million and one different directions for a bug party. I opted to keep it simple with one craft (decorate your own bug jar), a  game (pin the tail on the bug), some "entertainment" (face painting) and a bug hunt. Not a real bug hunt, of course, but one that would involve the kids searching our back yard for plastic insects.

As luck would have it, the weather looked BLEAK on party day. Rain, rain, and more rain. I tried not to stress as I quickly came up with Plan Bs for all of our planned outdoor activities. Fortunately, we have a basement, so I set up the craft, games, and facepainting there. Not ideal, but it worked.

The basement, ready for a party!

Bug Jar Decorating

Pin the Tail on the Bug


Bugs from way back.

About an hour into the party, the sun broke through, and we decided to hold our big bug hunt outside. Before the guests arrived, Aunt Mo and Mark went out and hid about 300 plastic bugs throughout our yard. Then, the kids took their jars and ran wild seeking the bugs out. They were all so cute and excited, and it was an awesome way for all of those little ones to expend some energy! 

Nora showing off her find. 

After the hunt, it was time for cake. And not just any cake. Since I basically massacre any type of dessert I attempt (at least those that are supposed to be "pretty"), I usually stick to cake pops, because they're simple and you can make them cute with a couple of sprinkles and candy eyeballs. I decided to re-created Nora's first birthday caterpillar cake pop creation, and it was a big hit with the kiddos--and the birthday boy

Love the look on E's face. Pure joy!

We also had some delicious bug-themed cupcakes made by Erin and Grandma, and I couldn't resist whipping together some classic Worms in Dirt.

These grape caterpillars were also a hit with the kids. 
For favors, I quickly threw together a "Bugs and Kisses" goodie bag with Hershey Kisses and more plastic bugs. Because who doesn't need 50 fake roaches, millipedes, and mantises in their house?!
The kids took these goodie bag homes, along with their bug jars.
We loved having all of our friends over to celebrate Mr. E. I'd say our little bugs had a pretty fab time! 


Who do you look like?

I find it fascinating to see how genes are distributed and filtered among the next generation of little ones in our family. Eamon and Nora both have brown eyes, yet they have different hair color and texture, different noses, and different body types. Nell seems to have a variation on Nora's nose, yet her eyes are shaped completely different (more wide-set and almond-shaped) and they're blue. Here's a side-by-side comparison of the three at 2 months. See any resemblances? 


New Addition!

Hey world! We're now a family of five! Life's a little more crazy, louder, and exhausting, but we're loving having little Nell in our world. Still can't believe she's here. One month in, we're figured out a pretty good balance between Eamon's ever-growing list of activities, exploring our new(ish) neighborhood, and having plenty of chill time at home. I'm focusing on keeping everyone happy, healthy, and getting back to work--and working out. Excited for the spring and plenty of time OUTside.


New Digs

Closing Day! We drove down, waited five hours to finally sign the paperwork, and drove right back up to Hoboken only to move 48 hours later. 

Where to begin. My dreams and aspirations of becoming a better blogger (and even a professional one, at that) were all lost in the whirlwind that's been the past few months of our lives. SO much has happened in such a short span of time that even the thought of sitting down and documenting all of the changes at the end of the day seemed overwhelming. Long story short, we...

...found out we were expecting baby #3 (due late January) in early August. 14 weeks in! (A story for another day...)

...decided that with 3 kids, our 2-bedroom, 4th-floor walkup would just not do.

...also decided that with 3 kids, we would be much better off in an area with more family support.

...threw ourselves into househunting in the DC area. First rental apartments, then rental homes, and then homes for sale.

...spend 3 solid weeks vetting home after home online (redfin.com is amazing!), visiting as many as we could in person, and finally, finding a home we adored.

...had our first experience negotiating as a home-buyer. Stressful, exciting, and satisfying (because we got the price we wanted for a house that is worth way more!)

...said many tearful goodbyes to all of our dear friends in Hoboken, and packed and moved our entire place in the span of 48 hours as Superstorm Sandy barreled down on NYC. (Pulled out of our town at 1am; the town was flooded and powerless no more than 24 hours later). Mark and I caravanned down the Turnpike in a hurricane, barely survived crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge in tropical-storm force winds.(Another story for another day...)

...enjoyed the good life with the Flynns for a week or so before we could move into the new house.

...finally, MOVED on November 4 with the help of some amazing family members who not only lugged our hefty boxes and furniture into the house but put new stuff together, too.

...and have been settling in ever since.

To say we love the house is an understatement. We are so fortunate that we happened upon a property was extremely well-cared for over the past six years by the prior owners. It was virtually move-in ready and we've done NOTHING but fill it with our belongings. They left no stone unturned, and we hope to continue to legacy by adoring this house as much as they did. Big shoes to fill, sure, but we're determined to keep it up.

It's quite an adjustment living in a much larger space in a very quiet neighborhood where deer frolic in our yard and our neighbors actually talk to us. But I think it was definitely time to begin this new stage of our lives and let Eamon and Nora (and soon, baby GIRL!) enjoy the ease of suburban living. Just the little things make us all happy...that they can run outside and play without a huge production and we can pull up to our garage without having to search for a parking spot for 45 minutes gives me a huge sense of peace and calm. Not to mention they are loving being around all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends whom we can see anytime now as opposed to special occasions or hectic weekend trips.  Eamon started school on Monday and the transition was absolutely seamless. I know he misses his Hoboken friends dearly, but he is doing a great job adjusting to the new class and is fitting right in--even though he is the youngest by over two months! (Some of the kids are almost a year older than him, which in preschool might as well be decades!)

I have untapped my inner domestic goddess and have been decorating and organizing like a crazy lady. For so long, I've filed away many ideas for how I'd like to live. But because we simply ran out of space in Hoboken (and the interior of our place was a crumbling old mess), I pretty much snuffed out my creativity when it came to design. Not anymore! I am loving making each room in the house a beautiful space we can enjoy (and as for all of the shopping that comes along with it, I can't complain! I've been scoring some major bargains and having fun doing it).

So, nearly two weeks after moving in and many late nights later, I'd say we're just about "settled". There are a few projects left to be done, but I'm going to shift my focus (and my budget) to the holidays before we make any more major changes. We'll be here for a while, so why rush, right?

Here are some photos of the house, so far. I have a few rooms left to take pictures of and we're still working on Eamon's room and the soon-to-be-nursery. One of these days, I am going to put together a nice tour if I can figure out how to take better shots of entire rooms.

View from the living room into the dining room/my "office". We purchased the furniture after seeing it on Joss & Main and absolutely love it. It has this cool gray finish that gives the rustic farmhouse finish a modern twist. 

A shot of Nora's "big girl" room. Skinny bookcases flank each side of the daybed (a Craigs List find) , and the custom prints are from Etsy. Nora picked out the pillows herself at Home Goods! 

Little girl on a big bed! 

One of my DIY projects. I cut leftover styrofoam from our table  packing material to fit in the back of each shelf, then covered with fabric. Gives the boring bookshelves a pop!

More DIY projects. The table was an old one we had in Hoboken that had seen better days. We repainted it white and then I later painted the vertical stripes in aqua. Hoping Nora uses this as a little table she can play on or as a mini vanity. The frame collage on the wall I found at Target for $5 and spraypainted in pink, than filled with scrapbook paper to add more color to the room. Oh, and the rosette lamp was another clearance find at Home Goods! 

The Master Bedroom. It offers just the right amount of serenity we need at the end of the day. I am working in a lighter shade of blue to correspond with the calming blue walls. With three large windows, the lighting in this room is fantastic and it's lovely to wake up to the view of the trees in our backyard. 

My bedside table. With two drawers to store stuff, I'm hoping to always keep the surface this tidy!

Our largest purchase this far...a mondo sectional couch from Macy's for the living room. It's heavenly! I am still toying around with colors for the rest of the room, but with the stone hue of the couch, you can go many ways and change it up season to season with throw pillows. 

Our kitchen table. The kids love the bench and I love looking out in the morning during breakfast and seeing the leaves fall (oh, the leaves...they are so pretty on the trees, not so much when covering the back yard!). 

Always wanted a yellow kitchen!Another choice color we won't have to change. Thinking about a nice photo gallery on this blank wall.