Happy Birthday, America: Celebrating July 4th

7 Jul

I sure hope everyone had an amazing July 4th holiday! PoppaNut and I had one legendary barbeque at our home with tons of family and friends stopping by throughout the night. Here are just a few photos I wanted to share.

Me and PoppaNut

Me and PoppaNut

Ashley, Madison, Me and Baby Reece

Ashley, Madison, Me and Baby Reece

Flag Photos!

Flag Photos!





My Decorations

My Decorations

Representing the Statute of Liberty

Representing the Statute of Liberty

So many fun memories! And that’s life in a nutshell.


Vacation Time: Visiting Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and More

26 Jun

So, speaking of West Virginia (see my last post), I need to tell you about all the awesome things we explored on our first family vacation. As I mentioned, I had never seen PoppaNut’s hometown, a place where he perfected his soccer skills, a small town where he could walk to school, a destination where the hottest bar in town is the Elks Lodge. I’d seen his childhood home in New York, but I guess when you start creating a family, you start to think more about your roots. And I couldn’t wait to see all of it for myself! Here’s a few of my favorite places!

Veramar Vineyard, Berryville, VA: Ok, I have a mild wine addiction, and that’s putting it nicely. Luckily, my mother-in-law shares the same addiction! So, when she mentioned this quaint, lovely winery, we were all game to explore. After one sip of the signature Pink Chicken wine — a light rose with flavors of sweet grapefruit and strawberries, we were signing up for the membership club. Now, we get to enjoy Veramar wine in our Florida home monthly!

Veramar Vineyard

Elks Lodge, Clear Spring, MD: I’m listing this place, because PoppaNut and I had one of the most fun times here! PoppaNut invited some of his old friends out, and we enjoyed a few rounds of cocktails for about $20. Super fun and super cheap ranks high in my book!

Elks Lodge

Seacrets, Ocean City, MD: This place was right on the water, with live music, 18 bars and in-the-water tables! Plus, the outdoor tables are situated right in the trees, a place that makes you feel like you’re on vacation the second you walk through the doors. Word of caution: Look out for the typical Spring Breakers who think twerking and make-out sessions go nicely with appetizers.


The Frog Bar, Ocean City, MD: Overlooking the inlet and Assateague Island on the board walk, The Frog Bar is a laidback hangout with the ultimate bar food and out-of-the-box refreshments. Take this blue/green concoction: DELISH! Reece seemed to love it, too!




Dumser’s Ice Cream and Thrasher’s Fries, Ocean City, MD: When we posted our location while traveling, several Facebook friends mentioned the amazing milkshakes from Dumser’s and the crisp vinegar French fries from Thrasher’s … and of course, in the interest of research, I had to try both! And I was NOT disappointed. I’m still dreaming about that delicious combo.



Guidos Burritos, Ocean City, MD: We stopped in here for GIANT margaritas, known simply as Monsteritas” to the locals. This 60-ounce bowl of goodness is the entire reason people check this place out. Just be careful of the mega brain freeze that can accompany this treat.

Guidos Burritos

Rehoboth Beach, DE: This is the place to be at sunset! The soft light makes everything just glow, and it was the perfect place to dip Reece’s little toes into the sand for the first time. He wasn’t thrilled with the cold water, but he does like his toes in the sand just like Daddy!

Rehoboth Beach

High Rock, Highfield-Cascade, MD: Holy, view! Located just off the Appalachian Trail in Northern Maryland, this is a popular destination for hang-gliding. From the top of the rocks, which have been decorated with graffiti-style love notes, you can see the surrounding mountains and valleys. Just breathtaking!

High Rock


Pen Mar County Park, Cascade, MD: After recovering from that crazy view, we picked up some home-style lunch from Hartle’s Subs and headed to this relaxing park for a romantic picnic (Reece was with Nana). We laid out a blanket, listened to the train go by and just let life stop for a few moments.

Pen Mar

Pen Mar 2

St. Paul’s Church, Clear Spring, MD: PoppaNut and I were driving around, looking at local places in Clear Spring that he had visited while growing up there. He pulled into St. Paul;’s, and told me about the day his mom married his stepdad, right there in that church. It was so beautiful to be a part of that moment that we captured it, this time with us standing at the doorway.

St. Paul's

St. Paul's 2

PoppaNut’s Childhood Home, Clear Spring, MD: Funny how things work out. PoppaNut took me by his old home, and it happened to be for sale. So, we parked that car and marched up to the front, peering in each window while PoppaNut told me his memories from room to room. I loved the vintage design, wood floors and wraparound porch!


Dam No. 5, Clear Spring, MD: Known as “Honeywood Dam,” Dam No. 5 is on the Potomac River, originally built for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this place was rich in history and beauty.


There are SO many more places I’d love to list, but these were certainly my favorites. I hope if you ever make it out that way, you visit at least one! And that’s life in a nutshell.



Holy Luggage: Traveling With Baby

25 Jun

Back in December, PoppaNut and I decided to book a spring trip to West Virginia — I’ve never seen PoppaNut’s hometown, a place where he perfected his soccer skills, a small town where he could walk to school, a destination where the hottest bar in town is the Elks Lodge. I’d seen his childhood home in New York, but I guess when you start creating a family, you start to think more about your roots. And I couldn’t wait to see it all … every school, every neighbor’s home, every mountaintop!

And we couldn’t wait to take Reece there, too! It would be his first official family vacation. So, we booked those tickets and started counting down to departure day!

Now, this was our first time traveling with a baby. Needless to say, the planning started weeks in advance with tons of research, calls with friends who had traveled with a baby before and several text messages to my mother-in-law to make sure we had all the gear we needed — because God forbid Reece doesn’t have his jumper, bouncer, swing and more.

I spent days thinking of all the things Reece might need, researching the weather forecast, scouring our itinerary and finally developing the perfect packing list for him. And once we arrived, SURPRISE, Reece’s bag was the only one that didn’t make it. So, I put together a few no-fail mommy travel tips for your amusement pleasure!

Break Your Formula into Different Suitcases: Reece has a prescription-based formula, and I luckily packed half of his formula in his suitcase and the other half in PoppaNut’s bag. That bought us some time to locate the bag before completely freaking out!

Yes, this is how much luggage it takes to leave home with baby.

Yes, this is how much luggage it takes to leave home with baby.

Over-Pack Your Diaper Bag: Most airlines let you take on a diaper bag for your baby. I swapped out my regular diaper bag and purse for one of PoppaNut’s Quicksilver oversize backpack and loaded that thing up with everything I could find: Toys, extra clothes, an extra shirt for me in case of any puke issues, bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, a changing pad, our tickets, my wallet. With this setup, I also didn’t have to keep track of my purse, since it was all combined!

Keep Your Baby Hungry and Tired: So, a good friend told me this little tip. If your little one is supposed to eat at 11 a.m. and take his second nap at 1 p.m. and your flight is at noon, push his bottle back and try to eliminate his first nap. He might be cranky but he will take his bottle as soon as he gets on the plane (helping his ears pop) and then he’ll conk out! It worked like a charm for us.

Out like a light, thanks to his bottle during takeoff!

Out like a light, thanks to his bottle during takeoff!

Bring the Carrier: I loved the carrier because Reece gets bored hanging out in his car seat. He likes to move his legs around more, and the carrier allows him to kick while still being secure. We used the carrier quite a bit, especially once we made it through airport security.

My two boys are seriously the cutest!

My two boys are seriously the cutest!

Think Outside the Box: So, PoppaNut is AWESOME at this! I’m a very much “the book says” kind of person. But Mr. I’ll Change a Diaper Anywhere (and he literally has, including on a government vehicle) is always coming up with new ways to entertain baby. So, while waiting for our flight to board, PoppaNut spread out a spare blanket in a vacant row and let Reece roll and play with his toys. PoppaNut got right down there on the floor to play, not really giving a hoot what anyone thought of it!

Playtime can happen anywhere, thanks to PoppaNut!

Playtime can happen anywhere, thanks to PoppaNut!

Brush Off the Complainers: Look, babies are going to cry. And of course, you’re going to try to calm them down but there might be a few hairy moments. And just then, some mother will tell you how you could be doing it better, like you’re a complete idiot. You’ll want to physically rip off her face … but don’t. I hear airport jails are horrible.

The unexpected is going to happen. It certainly happened to us with a misplaced bag. But I wouldn’t trade visiting there for anything in the world. I got to spend some of the most amazing days with my husband, reliving parts of his childhood that make him the man he is. And in the end, it’s not the travel stress or the misplaced bag I remember the most … it’s the moments with my family that I’ll never forget. And that’s life in a nutshell.


No Filter: The Mommy Definition of Gross

6 May

Before I had a baby, I thought it was gross to clip your toenails in the living room. I thought drinking out of the milk carton COULD be considered gross — although PoppaNut knows I sneak a swig or two out of carton from time to time. Things like chewing with your mouth open, digging in your ears and wearing dirty underwear are certainly gross, motherhood has completely changed my grossness radar.

It started with pregnancy, when my belly served as my lap tray and catch-all. My belly became a magnet for all things sticky, like ice cream, jelly and BBQ sauce — and I’d sit blissfully unaware for hours that my shirt had been stained with “insert random sticky thing” and I was proudly displaying it everywhere I walked. Yeah, gross!

My Rather Large Catch-All Belly

My Rather Large Catch-All Belly


Then, there was labor. Let’s just say a lot of gross things happened within those hospital walls, and everyone has been sworn to secrecy. Between the blood and the bodily fluids, I’m pretty sure PoppaNut and I are both still scarred from the experience. I mean, there was a morning when I literally had to pee with a lady two inches from my hoohaa while she used a spray bottle to clean said area — and that’s the most mildest gross part I feel comfortable sharing. Again, I’m pleading the fifth on the rest of it, but it was beyond gross.

Then, we brought baby home, and within five minutes of our big arrival, I managed to get poop on our freshly painted nursery walls. That beautiful Quicksilver hue now featured spots of Reece’s infant tar, and no amount of scrubbing seemed to diminish it. Double gross!

Fast-forward to Reece’s gastrointestinal appointment, where PoppaNut and I try to keep our little one entertained for 20 minutes while we wait for the doctor to arrive. We bounce, we tickle, we play games, he pukes … all down the side of my shirt and arm. And the crazy thing is I don’t even flinch. I don’t rush to clean it up, I don’t make a gross face, and I don’t even move like something gross has happened … because at this point, it’s happened a billion times and now I’m used to it. When the doctor walks in, I’m still casually dabbing it off with a burp rag, and without any hesitation, I go right into Reece’s symptoms. It’s like “Yeah, nothing to look at here, folks … just puke down a new mother’s favorite top … keep it moving.” But it’s still gross!

Now, for the grossest story to date … Reece was about one month old when he woke up at 3 p.m. for a nighttime feeding. Sluggishly, I threw on my pink fluffy robe and headed in to assess the situation. Reece was making some grunting noises, so I placed him on the changing table and checked his diaper. No poop. But the pushing continued. So, I took off his old diaper, put a fresh diaper right underneath him and pressed his legs up to his chest, foolishing thinking the diaper was well-positioned to catch anything that might come out. Well, I know personally now where the phrase “Shit has hit the fan” comes from. Shit hit everything BUT the fan in this case. It shot out like a Supersoaker Max D 6000 Water Blaster, minus the water. I received one hit to the chest and one to the arm. The wall and diaper genie were blown away, and I sat completely frozen for a good minute solid.

How in the heck do you clean this up? If it was in the morning hours, I would’ve hosed myself off on the side of the house … that’s how bad the destruction was. No one told me poop could fly! 300 wipes, 30 minutes and a scrubbed bath robe later, most of the remnants were gone and the poop explosion became my motherhood fodder. Nasty!

Now, there’s a whole new host of things I do that my before-baby self would gag at. I talk about poop at the dinner table. I pick crap out of Reece’s ears and nose with my bare finger. I regularly find lint hiding in my baby’s formula-collecting neck rolls. I’ve found a dirty diaper in my purse (and my mommy brain has no recollection of how it got there). I get puked on a few times a week, and sometimes, I don’t even change my clothes. And when Reece farts, I almost always laugh.

I could go on and on. In a way, I’m kinda proud of this new me. Who knew I had an iron stomach and balls of steel to deal with this motherhood crap … yes, the flying-across-the-room, hitting-mommy-in-the-chest crap. And that’s life in a nutshell.


No Formal Training: Learning to Be a Mommy

3 May

I was never a baby person. In fact, the first baby I remember interacting with was my brother … and that started out pretty rocky. My first memory with him consisted of me dancing around the living room in my fancy new plastic headbands and then biting him when no one was paying attention. I’m not proud of it, but the good news is that we’ve come to love each other as grown adults.

Me and My Brother

Me and My Brother


Flash forward to high school, when everyone babysat for extra cash. A woman in my neighborhood asked me to babysit her three young children, and I jumped at the chance. How hard could that be, I thought. Four hours later, covered in macaroni and cheese and watching “Dumbo” for the third time after a “falling down the stairs” incident, I literally met that momma at her front door with her destroyed children and vowed to never babysit again.

When I was in my twenties, my sister and her family came to visit, renting a beautiful condo on the beach. She asked if I’d mind watching her youngest son while she took her other older children to an amusement park for the day. Condo on the beach? Yes, please! So, that morning, I said goodbye to my sister, changed into my swimsuit and headed to the pool with JR in tow. Well, I had no idea that babies don’t really lay out and lounge by the pool, so our stay lasted a whole 10 minutes at most. But when I lugged JR and all our beach gear back upstairs, I realized we were locked out. So, there I was in my bikini with no shoes and a baby on my hip crossing the ever-busy, tourist-lined Gulf Boulevard to get an extra key from the rental office. Beyond embarrassing and one of my biggest redneck moments!

Since that last incident, I hadn’t spent more than maybe two hours alone with a child, and then we got pregnant. Luckily, PoppaNut has far more experience, but that “plus sign” meant it was time to learn a thing or two myself. So, I poured over baby books, mommy blogs and family testimonials. I Googled everything I could and spent hours watching YouTube videos like “How to Wash a Baby,” “How to Feed a Baby” and “How to Swaddle a Baby.” Yes, I literally YouTubed this stuff, and it was actually pretty helpful.

Then, I signed us up for the baby class, “Childbirth Preparedness.” I came with a notebook, pens and my academic ethics. I was going to sit at the front of the classroom and learn EVERYTHING I could because knowledge is power. And PoppaNut was a great sport about it — he participated in the question/answer session and even walked around the room with me while I stomped and squatted (techniques I was told help the baby drop). I learned about the birthing ball (yoga ball you can use during labor), signs of labor and a whole host of other things. But when it got to the C-section portion of the class, we scooted out. We aren’t going to need that anyway, I thought.

Boy, were we wrong! After being induced and spending 12 hours in labor, I had a C-section. I didn’t get to use the birthing ball and I didn’t need to know the signs of labor. I completely forgot most of the things I read in the baby books and blogs. And from then on, I just did what I thought was right. I still make jokes about how I’m completely not qualified to have a baby, and it’s still quite unbelievable that I’m somebody’s mommy. And suddenly, that same girl who never was a baby person now can’t imagine her life without this amazing baby in it. Amazing how becoming a mommy can change you. But I guess what I learned is love is the magical ingredient. With love leading you, you find your way. And that’s life in a nutshell.


Mommy Lies: Speaking the Truth about Motherhood

29 Apr

When I was pregnant, I counted down the days to my maternity leave. I thought, “Three glorious months where I just get to focus on me and my family.” I had all these visions of taking naps with baby, going on picnics as a family, not speaking one word of work talk and just really reveling in this stay-at-home mommy mode.

Enter child. Reece had a different plan for us. Instead of spending time napping together, we spent time bouncing … and bouncing … and bouncing. Reece’s acid reflux meant he hated to lay down, screaming at the top of his little lungs when we changed his diaper or switched his clothes. So, the baby carrier became our best friend. I would literally wear Reece around the house for hours, bouncing and swaying every which way until he found comfort. I am now completely skilled at cooking dinner and folding laundry with a baby strapped to my front side.

Bouncing at a Baby Shower

Bouncing at a Baby Shower

And instead of going on picnics as a family, PoppaNut and I spent time driving around Tampa Bay together, getting Reece to settle down and take a much-needed nap. Sometimes, the car ride was the only way he would sleep. We’d let the road take us, sometimes to the beach, sometimes on an old country road, anything to put him to sleep. One afternoon, we drove to the Skyway Bridge and back, allowing the two of us to strategize our next plan of attack against the alien in the backseat.

Planning Our Attack

Planning Our Attack

People would ask how maternity leave was … “Don’t you just love not having to go to work?” they’d gush. Sometimes I would tell the truth … “this stay-at-home mommy thing is a lot harder than I thought! And my maternity leave is nothing like I thought it would be. We are in doctor’s offices all the time, I swear our baby hates us and all I talk about is poop and puke. HELP ME!” But people started to look at me crazy, and this is when I learned that all mommies lie to each other.

Well, most mommies lie to each other. I have some really close mommy friends who I can talk to, and I certainly tell PoppaNut the real truth! But I learned that most moms tell each other a whole host of lies about perfect children, blissful rest and spotless homes, and I was the oddball revealing the dirty truths of motherhood (at least for me). In fact, I started to think I shouldn’t go to certain things like baby showers. I mean, who am I to freak out a new mom with tales of acid reflux and colic? Shouldn’t I just play along?

And this is when I realized the true meaning behind, “The truth will set you free.” And it certainly did. My first moment of truth was over Long Island Iced Teas with PoppaNut. Maybe it was the liquor or maybe it was the warm breeze at the outdoor café, but I revealed my deepest, darkest secrets about motherhood and waited for PoppaNut to gasp in horror. I told him how hard it was, how I didn’t know what I was doing, how my maternity leave was never what I expected and so on. But instead of judgment, PoppaNut kissed me and told me he felt the same way. He grabbed my hand and reminded me we were team and we would get through it together.

Long Islands = Truth-Telling

Long Islands = Truth-Telling

And so the sharing continued. To new mommies and experienced mommies and everyone in between, I stopped sugar-coating it all. Now, I’m not staying I told only the bad parts; I just decided to tell the whole parts: the good, the bad, the ugly. I spoke MY truth, letting everyone take what pieces they wanted from my story and using it in their own life. And when I did speak that truth, I found that I made closer bonds with my friends, stronger connections with PoppaNut and found a new appreciation for the crazy land of motherhood. After all, there’s a ton of us going through the exact same thing at the exact same time.

I say those first few months helped me earn my motherhood stripes. And the memories of that time are starting to fade, and I’m left feeling a bit nostalgic of it all. Wow, we really did make it through it together and we are at the point where we can (almost) laugh at it all. And that’s life in a nutshell.


Hell on Earth: Coping with Acid Reflux and Getting Insurance to Pay for Your Formula

14 Apr

I shared last week that my little one had terrible colic, acid reflux and milk-protein intolerance, which all started shortly after we brought him home from the hospital. He would scream all the time, for long stretches of time. PoppaNut and I were beyond frustrated — what could we do to help our little angel? He was clearly in a lot of pain and nothing we tried seemed to help.

I decided to think of Reece as my Rubik’s cube. “I will master you before my maternity leave is over,” I proclaimed, as I scoured the internet for hours each day. I’d make a list of products to try, products that other mothers were swearing by, and I’d head right to Walgreen’s.

We tried Colic Calm, Mylanta, gas drops, gripe water, fennel seeds … you get the idea. I’d hear a mention of something I hadn’t tried, and I’d run right to the store to buy it. With each purchase, I’d come home all excited to give a whirl. And I’d notice some relief, and the happy dance would start. Then, four hours later, I’d retire that product to my collection of “didn’t work after all” buys. We reached out to all of our friends who had similar experiences for sanity tips and home remedies, but we couldn’t quite figure out that right mix for Reece.

One of Our Many Trips to the Doctor's with Reece

One of Our Many Trips to the Doctor’s with Reece

We also played the formula rotation, trying to find that perfect mix. Reece was terrible during feedings, frantically moving his head from side to side in pain. His belly would rumble, and you could just tell this wasn’t working for him. So, we tried every formula known to man … again, excited each time we tried one, thinking we were closer to a solution, and then it would end in disappointment when the screaming would start again.

A very good friend said, “Once you figure out the right combination for him, this will all go away.” I’m no doctor, but that’s exactly what happened. Reece needed a combination of medication and specialized formula with gas drops, and he was a happy baby again! It didn’t happen before my maternity leave was over, but it was pretty darn close.

But, as you can guess, that specialized formula isn’t cheap. My insurance wouldn’t pay for the $45-a-can formula, and while I considering selling my non-vital organs to the black market for formula funds, I luckily found an alternative means. A found a blog that outlined the process — find a durable medical equipment supply company (DMEs) that carries your formula (ours was EleCare) and takes your insurance, and you’re golden.


You’d think your insurance company would just give you a DME list, but why would they be that nice? I started Googling DMEs and my insurance company, and I found an excel spreadsheet. Then, I took to the phone lines, calling each one tirelessly. I finally found one, and I had Reece’s GI doctor submit a prescription … and just like that, they sent me out two cases of formula! When I got the call confirming my address, I jumped up and down like I won the lottery … and I did — at least the formula lottery!

I learned two really important things through all this. One, you are your own health-care advocate, and that’s true for your child as well. PoppaNut and I were told so many times that everything was fine with Reece but we knew there was something wrong. We had to keep pushing for answers until we got them. I encourage you to do the same when it comes to your health or your child’s health. Two, insurance doesn’t make it easy. You have to fight for it. I’m still talking to insurance about reimbursement for Reece’s medication, filled nearly five months ago. But I think they know now I won’t give up now!

And that’s life in a nutshell.


And Baby Makes Three: Welcoming Our Son

10 Apr

Since my last post, we’ve welcomed a beautiful son into our crazy nuthouse, making it all the more crazier each day but filled with more love than I ever thought possible.

Our Little One at 3 Weeks

Our Little One at 3 Weeks

Our knucklehead is five months old now, learning to roll and belly-giggling at nearly everything around … including Peanut and Cashew. And now that PoppaNut and I have found a good routine in parenthood, I’ve had some time to reflect on all of it. What would I tell my pregnant, swollen-feet wobbly self about what I’ve learned so far?

1. You might be scared of needles but you’ll love how you feel after the epidural, even after they hit a nerve in the process. You’ll play Words with Friends, sing to “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and even take a nap while you wait for your labor to progress.

2. You’ll be sad when you don’t get that “beautiful made-for-Facebook” photo of you, your hubby and your new son following an unexpected C-section. Have a good cry and move on. You’ll experience more love in those four hospital walls than you ever thought possible and that’s what matters. The photo your old high school friends see online doesn’t.

Mommy and Reece's First Photo

Mommy and Reece’s First Photo

3. Stop reading every baby book. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. When your son is five months, you still won’t have a clue but you’ll be okay with it. You learn as you go. Instead of keeping your nose in a book, look up and live your life. Stare at his eyelashes and feel his breath on your chest. These are the moments you’ll miss later. Read when he sleeps.

4. Accept help. You are gonna need it. Don’t be too proud to say, “Can you come over and just hold my baby for a moment so I can shower?” My best friend Ashley gave me some great advice just days before Reece arrived: “When someone asks, just say yes. If they want to drop off food, just say yes. When they want to do your laundry, just say yes.” And so, you need to learn to say “yes” to help, followed by a huge “THANK YOU!”

5. Remember that your family started out as a twosome. You and PoppaNut are a team in all this, and remember to be a wife and not just Reece’s mother. You two have to master the craziness together! And you’ll be closer for it. And when he starts “Boys Breakfast” on Saturday mornings, which allows you to sleep in and have “alone” time, be sure to thank him. Not all husbands are as thoughtful!

Daddy and Reece, Snuggled Together at the Hospital

Daddy and Reece, Snuggled Together at the Hospital

6. You’ll have issues with your new body. You’ll want to have your old body back with those small little feet and skinny waistline. You’ll want to get in your old clothes as soon as you get home from the hospital, but they won’t fit. You’ll want to be scar-free, but you need to learn to wear that C-section scar with pride … along with the extra pounds for a little longer. Your body went through a lot and you have a beautiful son as proof. The weight will come off eventually, but give yourself time. Be understanding and compassionate with yourself.

7. When that sweet little boy goes to the dark side at three weeks old, crying for six hour stretches at a time and you can’t figure out why, know that you will get through it. You’ll want to rip your hair out, you’ll be beyond frustrated, you’ll give your baby to your hubby so you can go cry in the bathroom for five minutes, and you’ll wonder what you and PoppaNut were ever thinking when you decided to have a baby. This is NORMAL! And with the right formula and medicine, you’ll get Reece’s acid reflux and milk-protein intolerance under control. You will have a happy, healthy baby in the end!

You Will Look Back and Laugh at This

You Will Look Back and Laugh at This

8. You’ll worry a lot in the beginning if you are going to be a good mother. You’ve never been the type of woman who was dying to have a baby, so you wonder how you’ll do. But, Ms. Professional, you’ll actually love your title as “mother” most. You’ll love the way he wraps his small hand around your finger when you feed him a bottle, you’ll cherish the way he smiles when he sees you across the room, you’ll run to his room to get him his “lambie” when he starts to cry, and you’ll cherish saying prayers together each night. And when you see your husband hold your son, your heart will break with overwhelming love. So, stop worrying. You’ll get the hang of it.

9. You’ll forget a lot. No one told you how hard those first few months would be … or maybe you didn’t listen. The first month, you’ll say “how could anyone ever have another baby?? This is ridiculous!!” But your memory will start to fade, and you’ll start boxing up those cute newborn outfits and you’ll realize the time as already flown by. The hours of endless crying have stopped and your home will be blissfully wonderful with your new addition.

Our Happy Baby

Our Happy Baby

10. You’re joining a club! You won’t think of it that way at first, but once you start needing help with recommendations or tips, you’ll find a whole community of mothers out there ready to give your advice. Find those people who you can be completely honest with and confide in them. Accept the advice that makes sense to you and pass on those tidbits that don’t work for your family. You’ll know what right for you three. You’ll feel judged at times, but you’ll learn to brush it off. You’ll also learn that your “say it like it is” mentality spills over to motherhood … and you’ll speak your mind whether people like it or not. And you’ve decided that an admirable quality!

And that’s life in a nutshell … motherhood isn’t exactly as I expected … it’s better!


The Heart of the Home: Our Kitchen Remodel

14 Apr

They say the heart of your home resides in the kitchen, and that’s especially true when you marry a sauce-making, Mozzarella-loving Italian. This man loves to cook, and I love to find any excuse to whip up a yummy dessert.

So, when we moved into our new home last May, we both knew a kitchen renovation would be on the list … but that list kept growing and growing considered we moved into a home that had been empty for two full years. PoppaNut painted every possible surface in this home, and power-washed everything else. We overhauled the landscaping, and we were finally ready for the next project: our downstairs bar area.

This was our kitchen just before the remodel. We only replaced the appliances when we moved in.

This was our kitchen just before the remodel. We only replaced the appliances when we moved in.


So, when my father-in-law came over, who also happens to be a residential/commercial home builder (Residential Design Corp), we began talking about the bar project … which somehow naturally lead to how much I hated our kitchen. And Dad agreed, saying how super easy and inexpensive it would be to remodel this area into our dream kitchen.

Well, that’s all I needed to get started, and PoppaNut graciously set aside his bar dreams for mine, a sacrifice that still makes me tear up when I think about it. So, together, we picked out every element of this kitchen. And with a ton of full-weekend work sessions and several long late-night weekday projects (and a ton of help from Dad and our friend Brad), our dream kitchen came together. Let’s take a look.


We started by priming the cabinets.

We started by priming the cabinets.


The sticky tile had to go, so we could make way for the new floor.

The sticky tile had to go, so we could make way for the new floor.


And the new floor is in! This tile actually looks like gray wood.

And the new floor is in! This tile actually looks like gray wood.


Next, it was time to cover those nasty countertops. And we used the same flooring tile for that!

Next, it was time to cover those nasty countertops. And we used the same flooring tile for that!


I've always had my heart set on a farmhouse sink, and again ... my dream was coming true.

I’ve always had my heart set on a farmhouse sink, and again … my dream was coming true.


This sink could serve as a home pool! It's huge!

This sink could serve as a home pool! It’s huge!


Once the white subway tile backsplash was in, we moved on to the island.

Once the white subway tile backsplash was in, we moved on to the island.


We couldn't leave the nearby kitchen table untouched, so I recovered each chair in a bold blue fabric to accent the kitchen for just $20.

We couldn’t leave the nearby kitchen table untouched, so I recovered each chair in a bold blue fabric to accent the kitchen for just $20.


And this is the "after" photo. This is the kitchen this home was meant to have.

And this is the “after” photo. This is the kitchen this home was meant to have.


And that’s life in a nutshell. At the end of this kitchen renovation, I’m thrilled with this new space. It’s everything I pictured and I can’t wait to start using it for big and small occasions. But it means more to me than just a beautiful kitchen. It’s a renovation that PoppaNut put his heart and soul into just because he loves me and always wants to make my dreams come true, it’s a space where our friends and family will gather for years to come to celebrate exciting moments, it’s a warm heart to this home I’ll love forever.


My Fitness Obsession: Zumba Fun

6 Jul

So, I have a little secret. A few of my friends know about this about me, but I don’t think they know how serious it is. They mention it from time to time, but they don’t realize it has turned into an obsession. I’m addicted to Zumba.

Wow, it’s so nice to have that off my chest! I can proudly scream it from the rooftops now. I am addicted to Zumba, and I don’t care who knows it. For those of you who don’t know what Zumba is, let me explain. Zumba is an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health. In real-people terms, it is like spending an hour at the best club in your life sans booze.

Now that you know what Zumba is, let’s start the countdown of my favorite things about Zumba … which will ultimately make you sign up to try it yourself!

1. As I mentioned above, your one-hour class is literally like stepping in the most happening club of your life, sans all the negative stuff like the smoky atmosphere, obnoxious men trying to hit on you and the spilled drinks that always seem to land on your perfect party heels.

Zumba at My Way Fitness in Oldsmar

2. You get to super silly! In fact, the sillier, the better. There are no bosses or professionals critique your moves. There is no judgment. There is only fun and laughter in this space. I often feel like a kid again after a few dances! When was the last time you danced like no one was watching? Now go ahead and show us the Roger Rabbit!

3. This fitness activity comes with the most amazing wardrobe. I mean, you don’t have to buy the Zumba clothes, but I highly recommend it. First, I swear I have way more swagger to my moves when I’m wearing the Zumba-approved gear. That could be just in my head, but I think I look like a backup dancer to 50 Cent. Plus, the pants dry really quickly so you don’t drive home with a wet bottom. That’s important to me!

The Zumba Gear

4. I have made the best friends in Zumba … friends that are now very dear to my heart. We call each other the Fly Girls, because us gals get in front of the whole class for at least dance per class in “In Living Color” style. We text each other, making sure we are all going to be at class each night, and we all support each other throughout the week. These girls have the best hearts, and I’m lucky that they let me crash class each week.

Some of Us Fly Girls

5. The music is amazing! While my class does a few Latin-based dances, my favorite ones are the hip-hop versions. We also do some flashback songs like “Grease: You’re the One that I Want” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boys.” You just can’t help smiling and singing along during that kind of music. It really makes the hour just fly right by.

6. I have the best Zumba instructor on the planet! And I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest. Tiffany has the warmest heart and biggest energy in the little package I have ever seen. She cares about all the girls who come to class, she gives us challenges to take our fun to the next level and she makes me want to do a GREAT job in class. Tiffany inspires me to give it my all, and she is the reason that I love Zumba as much as I do! Thank you, Tiffany.

Meet My Instructor, Tiffany!

7. Zumba is a great stress relief for me. After a long day with a million things on my mind, and another million on my plate for the next day, I can’t wait to take one hour and just let loose. It is one hour that I get to act crazy and silly, and there are days that I certainly need that.

8. Lastly, let’s talk about the results. I have certainly noticed a different in my own body, and several people from class have also noticed results. I get to dance and lose weight? Now that’s a no brainer!

And that my feet are tapping from the Zumba songs playing in my head, I can’t wait to get back to class at My Way Fitness in Oldsmar. I’ll be counting down to Tuesday, when I get to see my Fly Girls again.

And that’s life in a nutshell … working out is great for you, but Zumba is good for my heart too.



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