Archive | October, 2014

Happy First Birthday: Reece Turns One

29 Oct

Dear, Reece.

Today, you are one year old, and I can’t help but reflect on what this year has meant to both me and your proud dad. I wrote you letters while I was pregnant with you, dreaming of the little boy I would one day hold in my arms. I wrote that I knew two things about you: You’d love the Yankees and we’d love you more than anything in the world. I wrote about all the fun things we’d teach you: How to ride a bike, how to tie your shoes, how to catch a lizard with your bare hands. I imagined you running up and hugging me after a long day at school, I dreamt of us baking holiday cookies together, I pictured taking your Prom photos on the front stairs. And I made of list of all the places we’d take you: to the zoo, to Grandma’s house, to the splash park, to a baseball game.

But today, I’m not thinking about all the things we’ve done, all the places we’ve gone and all the things we’ve taught you. I’m actually grateful for the things you’ve taught me, lessons I didn’t even know I needed to learn.

You’ve taught me how to be patient. You’ve reminded me to be curious and to continue to learn something new every day. You’ve taught me to trust in myself, because even though I had no idea what I was doing as a Mommy, we figured it out as a family. You taught me to trust my gut — Daddy and I fought a few doctors to figure you out. You taught me that while schedules are certainly important, there are a few good reasons to break them every now and then. You showed me that hearing one of your big belly laughs could cure the hardest of days. You taught me that every day is a reason to dance.

You’ve taught me to loosen up … have fun … life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. You’ve reminded me of all the fun I had as a child, all the games I played, where my imagination took me. You’ve allowed me to rediscover the world through your eyes.

Having you in our lives allowed me to see a whole new side of Daddy, a softer, gentler and stronger man than I ever knew before. Daddy’s eyes lit up the second he saw you, and he was by your side right from the start, keeping you company in the NICU until I could see you. Daddy became the ultimate protector of both of us in that hospital room. And watching the two of you together fills my heart with overwhelming joy! You’d reach up to Daddy and you could just see his heart melt.

But when I look through the photos in this last year, it’s the quiet, everyday moments that I’ll cherish forever. Some of my favorite memories are the first time I felt you breathe on my chest. I loved looking down at your long beautiful eyelashes. I loved the way you would snuggle with your lambie in your crib. You loved sleeping on your left side when you were little. I was so scared to dress you in the beginning because I’d never dressed a baby before — so you stayed pretty much naked for the first week.

Me, you and Daddy used to take LONG car rides, because it was the only way you’d fall asleep, so we spent many afternoon touring the Tampa Bay area. In fact, you blew the engine in Daddy’s Commander with all the trips to the Skyway Bridge.

You loved to be bounced, so I’d spend days literally walking in circles with you, just bouncing and bouncing. I’d even bounce when I wasn’t holding you, just out of pure habit. Your favorite toys were your giraffe rattle, your keys and lambie. You’d play with your shadow and you loved looking in the mirror. When you’d fuss, I’d sing to you in the car, and you’d just watch and listen. You thought Peanut and Cashew were hysterical, and you’d crack up whenever they came around.

But today, I’m supposed to see you as a big boy now that you’re one, but I still see my sweet baby boy. I’ll always see your little ringlets and dimples when I see your smiling face, no matter how big you get. I’ll always remember your tiny fingers wrapped around mine. And I’ll always be honored that you decided to make me your mommy.

I love you, son.

Mommy

Here are just a few of the highlights in the last year.
• October 29, 2013: Reece is born at 8:24 p.m. weighing 7 pounds and 20 inches long
• October 30, 2013: First time getting your wild hair washed
• October 31, 2013: First time trick-or-treating and you cleaned up at the nurses’ station (Kit-Kat) while wearing Frankenstein pants
• Rolled over in the first month
• November 28, 2013: First Thanksgiving at Grandpa Orlando’s, wore a turkey butt outfit
• Went picking out a Christmas tree together and you had one in your room
• You hated bath time with Mommy but LOVED it with Daddy
• You loved your bouncer, you’d swing your leg up and down just to bounce more
• Wore an elf outfit on Christmas morning and a tux on New Year’s Eve
• February 2, 2014: Superbowl, first time sleeping through the night
• February 14, 2014: You and Daddy surprised me at work on Valentine’s Day, dressed in your “Most Eligible Bachelor” shirt
• March 30, 2014: Went to Oldsmar Days, and you were mesmerized by the fair rides
• April 20, 2014: Easter at Aunt Steph’s house, wore bunny ears
• April 21, 2014: First time at the park, went on the slide and swings
• April 26, 2014: First time in the pool at Grandma Tam’s house and you LOVE it
• May 4, 2014: You get the jumper
• May 4, 2014: First time eating food (peas). You loved corn, squash and pears. You hate sweet potatoes.
• May 16, 2014: First time flying on a plane to Nan and Pop Pop’s house
• May 21, 2014: First time putting your toes in the sand in Delaware, but you hated the cold ocean water
• May 24, 2014: You met my Grandpa Tam for the first and only time, but you brought such joy to him in his last days and he loved looking at your photos.
• May 31, 2014: Attended Mason’s graduation party
• June 1, 2014: Now you love sweet potatoes
• June 29, 2014: First tooth pops through (bottom left) and sat up unassisted for the first time
• July 4, 2014: Work the cutest “Mommy’s Firecracker” outfit and Lady Liberty crown
• July 10, 2014: First time dressing like a big boy (no onesie) and heading to sushi with Mommy and Daddy
• June 19, 2014: First time crawling
• July 25, 2014: You say your first word (“Da Da”) and started climbing up on things at Aunt Stacy’s annual Pig Roast in CT
• August 3, 2014: Became an outlaw at Madison’s birthday party
• August 16, 2014: First Yankees game. Daddy was SO proud to take you there.
• August 27, 2014: Reached expert cruiser status
• August 30, 2014: First time seeing mermaids at Weeki Wachee and going to the splash park!
• September 17, 2014: Said “Momma” for the first time
• September 26, 2014: Leaned how to wave goodbye
• October 22, 2014: You’ve turned into a break-dancing fool over night!
• October 26, 2014: First time at the Oldsmar Fall Festival/Pumpkin Patch
• October 27, 2014: First time with whole milk in your bottle
• October 29, 2014: First time carving pumpkins

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Retailing at Home: Organizing a Community Garage Sale

24 Oct

I live in a community that is not deed-restricted, which can be a good and a bad thing. While I can paint my house any color I want, the community does not host a collective garage sale, and I happen to LOVE garage sales.

With a renovation in the works and a little boy growing like crazy, I have my share of retired items in search of a good home. And yes, I could just load up the truck and take all the items to a donation center, but I love a good garage sale.

I’ve never hosted a garage sale as an adult, but I have plenty of memories of my mom’s garage sales over the years. We also didn’t live in a deed-restricted community then, so she’d post signs around the neighborhood to get the word out. She’d string wire up in the garage, from one of my dad’s dusty toolboxes to the corner of the garage-door tracks to hang up clothes. She’d wear an old “Big C Lumber” pouch to have change easily accessible. And I’d help bag items bought for all of our “customers.” It was fun!

So, I decided to host a community garage sale. While we were small in numbers (only a few houses joined in this time), I learned some great stuff that I want to pass along.

Get Social: I created a flyer and started posting it around online, asking others to join in on the community sale and telling customers when and where it would take place. I posted to my friends and I also posted within relevant groups.

Find a Sponsor: Find a great non-profit or community group that can help support your cause. I partnered with the Salvation Army, and I encouraged all those participating to donate anything that didn’t sell right to the Salvation Army as well. Plus, the charity can help spread the word.

Make Signs: Find the brightest posters, get some markers and get creative! Then, buy stakes at Lowe’s and attach them to your posters with a staple gun. Be sure to include your location and hours for the sale. Then, put them up the day before to start spreading the word!

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Get Change: You are going to need a lot of $1s and quarters during the sale so I suggest getting cash the day before. I got $90 in $1s and $10 in quarters, and I had plenty!

Have Bags/Boxes Available: Some people might buy A LOT and they’ll want something to carry it all in. I saved all my diaper boxes and grocery-store bags for this exact occasion!

Prepare for Rain: Yeah, it happens. And I wasn’t prepared. Learn from me, and have large black trash bags on hand to quickly cover up items so you don’t have to rush them in and out.

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Set Up Refreshments: Take a tip from the grocery stores and try to upsell. My sweet second cousin set up a station with soda and water for $1 each. Plus, she makes really amazing duct-tape accessories and clay keychain, so she set up a display for her items as well!

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Nearly $300 later, I’d say the garage sale was a success. Plus, I got to know some of my neighbors a little bit better, and I had some fun bonding time with my aunt and cousin! And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

The Master Plan: Renovating Your Master Bedroom

21 Oct

PoppaNut happens to be extremely handy, and he’s usually pretty game for a renovation project. I’m also lucky enough to have two amazing contractors in my life that also happen to be family — my dad and my father-in-law, so it can quickly turn into a family affair when the hammers start swinging in this crazy nuthouse.

Prior to the renovation, our tiny master bedroom featured pocket doors to a shared office space. And the closet was a pain point each time I put away laundry because closet racks were actually linen-closet shelves, which means you could not slide the hangers whatsoever. Total frustration! The room was always just fine for what we needed, but we dreamt of something amazing.

Original Bedroom/Office

Original Bedroom/Office

 

Enter PoppaNut. Determined to turn our Ok bedroom into a showstopper, the renovation began! First, we emptied the room and all the contents of our closet (where am I going to put all these shoes??).

I Will Not Get Rid of Shoes!

I Will Not Get Rid of Shoes!

Then, the wall between the master bedroom and the office came down. We moved our mattresses to a spare room, and hunkered down for nearly a month while saw dust and drywall took residence in our soon-to-be master suite!

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I spent the time surfing Pinterest for the perfect DIY projects to keep costs moderately low, and I shopped for my few luxury items! Our Vision: Key West style with modern sensibility and vintage touches. Here’s how we brought it together:
-I traded my standard comfortable for a modern quilt. The quilt gave the room that vintage touch, but the pattern put a modern twist on it. Overstock.com.
-We purchased a new king-size mattress from Mattress Firm, and we wanted it to make a grand statement. We picked out this dark-gray fabric headboard to do just that! I purchased it when there was a free-shipping offer and combined that with a RetailMeNot.com coupon. Major savings! Target.com.
-Nightstands can be super expensive, so I found a really fun DIY project that used an IKEA hamper frame with fresh wood tops. I used gray stain for the tops of mine, and they look really nice in the room. Pinterest.com.
-With several modern touches already in place, I needed to add some beach inspiration. So, I started searching for fillable lamps. Once found (I found mine at PotteryBarnKids.com but they’re no longer available), I bought shells and sand for Michael’s, and I started spray painting with leftover silver and turquoise paint I had at home. Once dried, I added the sand and shells to each lamp and placed a Target shade on top! I also picked up some beachy frames and filled them with photos we took on vacation. Michaels.com.
-We found the dresser on Craigslist, and I went to town sanding and repainting this hefty piece. I just used leftover paint at home (Quicksilver from Sherman Williams). The flooring is a Mohawk laminate from Bob’s Carpet Mart, and the TV is a Sony Bravia from Best Buy.
-Then, we accessories with items we already had, like the IKEA white rocker, picture frames, candles and more!

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I’m over-the-moon happy with my beachside retreat! We finally have a space all our own, which we will enjoy for many years to come. And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

Turning 33: Living it up in the Keys

6 Oct

I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a birthday more than my 33rd birthday, which took place last month. It’s not because I was thrilled to be turning another year older, but this birthday would mark the first time PoppaNut and I had a vacation sans baby since his birth — and we needed it! And so my amazing hubby planned a surprise trip to KEY WEST!!

Woohoo! We packed our bags, lovingly dropped off Reece at his grandparents’ home, removed the “parent” title from our vocabulary and proceeded to the Ft. Myers’ Key West Express dock to kick off the weekend.

My Mission: To reclaim my former, no-baby self. No schedules. No backup plans. No searching for reviews and recommendations. No judgment. And for the love of god, no Cheerios in my purse!

Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of our Key West vacation.

Key West Express
This is the only way to get the Keys. After boarding in Ft. Myers, you have three blissful hours to enjoy the beautiful breeze and ocean views while sipping Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s to your heart’s content. If it happens to rain, there might be a group of wild yet inviting travelers who befriend you and insist you do shots of straight vodka for the next two hours — which they may or may not have smuggled onto the boat in the first place. It will kick your trip off right, so just do it.

And We're Off!

And We’re Off!

Sloppy Joe’s
Live music, unbelievable sloppy joe’s and one rowdy crowd equals one of the best spots in Key West! Plus, this place is filled with rich history, considering it’s been located at the corner of Greene and Duval streets since 1937. Beginning at just 9 a.m. (again, no judgment), customers can enjoy their favorite beverage!

Time for Lunch and Some Live Music.

Time for Lunch and Some Live Music.

Ocean Key Resort & Spa
Step into paradise. Spacious rooms with large Jacuzzi tubs and panoramic views of both the Gulf of Mexico and Duval Street just melt all your cares away. The modern green-and-white pool area features first-come, first-serve cabanas and the most friendly staff — they delivered frozen towels, fresh drink samples and even frozen fruit to make the sun just a bit more tolerable. In fact, the entire staff made us feel right at home … if our home was a luxury waterfront mansion! I can’t wait to return.

Most Captivating Views!

Most Captivating Views!

Time for a Frozen Towel!

Time for a Frozen Towel!

Harpoon Harry’s
Authentic breakfast diner and a full liquor store in one? This urban myth is certainly true in Key West! While they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, I’m recommending breakfast. They’re known for their Bloody Harry (a spicy Bloody Mary) and the Heapin’ Harry breakfast platter: 2 eggs any style with cheese atop potatoes sittin’ on ham, smothered in sausage gravy and served with toast. Yummy!

Booze and Breakfast

Booze and Breakfast

Some Interesting Decor Around These Parts!

Some Interesting Decor Around These Parts!

Mallory Square
This quaint shopping square has anything and everything you might want to buy for those friends and family who are angrily reviewing your Facebook feed updates while they sit at work. Plus, the nightly sunset celebration includes amazing street performers and talent acts.

Time for Shopping

Time for Shopping

Smallest Bar
Don’t blink or you might just miss this one. This is LITERALLY the smallest bar in the world, with just a small yellow awning documenting its existence. It’s a great pit stop as you make your way down Duval Street and all the patrons are super friendly!

Their Not Kidding About This Being a Pretty Small Bar!

Their Not Kidding About This Being a Pretty Small Bar!

Rick’s Bar
PoppaNut and I spent a few beers’ time here, mainly people watching from the front stools. It happened to be raining this evening, and this was the perfect, down-home joint to quench our thirsts. Rick’s Bar is actually one of eight bars in a larger entertainment complex so they truly have a spot for everyone!

Perfect Spot for People Watching

Perfect Spot for People Watching

With my liver barely functioning on the ferry ride home from the Keys, I’d say “Mission Accomplished.” I think we just might make this an annual trip for my birthday. Where should we stop the next time we head down to Key West?

And that’s life in a nutshell.

MommaNut

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