Thursday, December 13, 2012

11 Months Old

Dear Zachary -

Today you are 11 months old.  Only one month away from your first birthday!  I am starting to plan your party.  It is going to be a Little Monster party, which is pretty appropriate for you these days. You are  literally into is as if you know what you aren't supposed to touch and that is ALL you touch - Isabella's cereal, Alex's Legos, Daddy's shoes, Charlie's tail, Mommy's wine bottles, the Christmas tree.  I say, "No. No."  You stop.  You give me this look.

And then you keep on touching! If you are awake you are on the go!  You never stop for a second.

We call you "TROUBLE!"  I call myself "EXHAUSTED!"

But as ornery as you are, you are still the sweetest, happiest little baby.  You have been having a lot of fun this holiday season.  We celebrated your first Thanksgiving with our family. We went to see Santa - you weren't scared at all.  You looked like you were having a very serious conversation about your list!

We went and picked out our Christmas tree. You looked perplexed as we put it up and decorated it, but then promptly decided it was going to be a fun new game to crawl under it and pull off all of the decorations you could before I pulled you out by your stinky feet!

I can't believe my next letter to you will be your birthday letter.  I know I say it all of the time, but time is going too quickly.  This was the fastest year of my life.  I am hoping for a Christmas miracle - time to slow down just a little bit so I can cherish and enjoy every second of this next month with you, my baby.

I love you! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy 7th Birthday!

Dear Alex,

Tomorrow you will turn 7 years old. I fell in love with you the moment I knew you existed. Then the moment I saw you, I thought my heart would burst with love. I knew that I would never be the same.  My love for you continues to know no bounds, and each day I love you more than the day before. You are the most loving, smart, thoughtful kid.  Don't get me wrong, you have your moments - you can be short tempered and a little dramatic- in fact you are arguing with Isabella right now.  But before I finish this paragraph, you will resolve whatever your conflict is, and you will be playing nicely together as if it never happened.  You two are the best of friends, but you sure can battle sometimes.  She can really push your buttons and you torment her to no end. I don't worry about it too much though, because your big heart and loving ways usually shine through.  You aren't afraid to say you're sorry-even though I know sometimes you say it just to get out of trouble.  You tell her you love her.  You give into her whims more often than not. You are a wonderful big brother - to Isabella and to Zachary.  You worship Zachary and the feeling is mutual.  My favorite moment of every day is when I bring him into your room to wake you up every morning.  He climbs all over you, and you open your eyes and smile.  You are such a big helper with him.  You read to him and play with him and make him laugh.  They are so lucky to have you as their big brother.

You and Zachary are rocking the same smile these days.  He is getting teeth as fast as you are losing them.  A few weeks ago you lost another one and the tooth fairy gave you $5, and Pop Pop matched it.  You took the money that Pop Pop gave you to church and donated to the poor box.  And for your birthday, you decided that your family could bring you gifts and your friends should bring gifts to donate to poor children. You always are thinking of others, and I get compliments all the time on how kind and thoughtful you are to others. 

Your teachers in first grade love you. You are doing so well in school. You love math and can read anything and everything.  Right now you are loving the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  Mrs. Thomas, your reading teacher, says you are so nice, and the other kids seek you out to be your partner in class.  You have a lot of good little buddies.  They were all here to celebrate your birthday on Friday.  You had the best time running around playing flashlight tag and bouncing in the bounce house!

I am so proud of you, buddy.  Sometimes it is hard to see you as such a big kid.  You are growing up too quickly. But it is also so fun to watch you grow into such a great kid.  I am so blessed to be your mommy. Happy 7th birthday to my first born - the boy who stole my heart - and I'm pretty sure is keeping it forever!

I love you with all of my heart,

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

I am blessed.  Anyone who knows me can plainly see I am the luckiest girl in the world.  I have everything. A handsome and kind husband. Beautiful and healthy children. A loving and funny family that literally span the globe. But whether they are a few miles away or all the way in Australia, our closeness is unmatched. Girlfriends who shop with me, drink wine and coffee with me and help me with my kiddos.

Life is precious. Each day is a gift to treasure.  It is the little moments that I am most thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day 2012. Sitting in my parents' kitchen drinking coffee and chatting. Jay giving me kiss. Alex teaching Preslee to play Hang Man.  Isabella saying, "Goodnight.  I love you, Mommy." Zachary being the happiest, sweetest baby in the world.  He completes our family of five. Making funny faces at the kids in an attempt to get them to smile for a picture. I realize all these things are just simple things that happen everyday. But these are the things that matter most, because all these little words, kisses and actions add up to a wonderful, full and happy life!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

10 Months Old


I was putting these pictures online.  It literally took my breath away.  Where is my tiny baby? When did you get all those teeth?  When did you learn to stand and cruise?  When did you start signing "more" and "all done?"  When did you start saying "Ma Ma?" I swear it literally happened overnight.  You are my little wild man.  My happy little boy. 

My most favorite thing about you right now is the way your little face lights up when you see me. I swear I can see the infinite love that I have for you reflected in your big eyes. And I love when I walk in the room, you crawl over to me, climb up my legs so I pick you up for a snuggle - and then you are off again. 
Busy! Busy! I spend my days chasing you around. You are inquistive and fearless.  Two traits that make me a little nervous as you enter into your toddlerhood, but I know will serve you well in the future!

Showing off your teeth!
Giving Mommy a kiss!

                   Looking out the window! Yes, you crawled over there and stood up all by yourself!

Sit Still?  Yeah right lady! 

Your "I'm being a stinker but aren't I cute?" face!
 Happy 10 Months Zachary!
I love you,

Saturday, October 13, 2012

9 Months Old


It is Saturday morning and you and I are the only ones awake. Happy 9 Month birthday!  Three quarters of a year.  And it has been an amazing nine months.  This past month has been one of the most exciting months for you little man.  This is the month my life of sitting and holding you came to an end.  You are officially on the move...and into everything!!!  In one week you learned to go from laying down to sitting up and from sitting to being able to pull yourself to stand up.  And you are officially crawling. I can't take my eyes off of you for a second.  If fact, as I am typing this we are sitting in the playroom, and you are getting into all your sister's toys.  I am constantly picking up little pieces of stuff and tiny parts of toys off the floor, because I know if I don't find them you will.  And you are quick!  I can put you down in the family room and within minutes you crawl all the way to the back door.  You love for daddy to take you out to see the pond, so no matter where you are that is always where you end up, at that door. You haven't found the steps yet (thank goodness), but I am sure it won't be long.  Inquistive is the best word to describe you at nine months.

Real time update: You are dumping all of Isabella's doll clothes out of the armoire.  

This month you also got not one but two bottom teeth (on the same day!) And this month you decided you didn't want to nurse anymore.  I am so so sad about it, but I am trying to not take it personally. You like to sit and drink your bottles at your own pace and be able to look out at what is going on in the world.  I miss nursing, but my favorite times are when you drink the first and last bottles of the day, because that is when we sit quietly and is the only time you sit still during the day anymore.

Real time update:  Alex is up, you gave up on the baby doll clothing and are crawling across the room to get your big brother.

Our days are busy, little man.  But you are such a good boy. After your morning bottle and cuddle, we wake up Alex and Isabella.  We go into their beds and you crawl all over them and pat their faces and pull their hair.  Then you eat breakfast - your favorite these days are blueberry waffles and pancakes.  We spend a lot of time in the morning playing on the floor in your room and in the family room.  We take the kids to school and then its nap time for you!  After nap, we eat lunch and pick up Isabella from school.  Then we play some more or maybe run an errand.  By the way, errands take forever with you. We went to Wegmans yesterday, and you sat in the cart like a big boy.  You thought you were too cool!  And so did everyone else.  At least seven people stopped and talked to you.  And you loved it.  You are my little flirt. It is so sweet, but you are so friendly that it takes us twice as long to get anything done, because you are so busy smiling and "talking" to everyone. You usually take an afternoon nap and then wake up in time to get Alex off the bus.  Then we play some more.  Alex and Isabella help me take care of you, so I can make dinner.  We try to always eat dinner as a family at the table.  You sit in your highchair and like to eat "real" food.  You can put away some macaroni and cheese! Then it is bath time - you love to splash.  You laugh and laugh! We put on your pjs and then snuggle on the rocking chair.  Sometimes I read you a book.  Sometimes I sing to you.  Sometimes I just sit quietly and look at you.  You have changed so much over the last nine months.  It is so bittersweet watching you as you get so big. I would do anything to freeze time, but I know that is not impossible.  So with one more kiss, and then maybe just one more, I put you in the crib and you go right to sleep! 
Real time update: After climbing all over Alex, now you are back across the room chewing on a piece of Isabella's doll house! Isabella just came down and said, "Good morning, Zackie. Don't chew on that.  You will choke."  She gently took it away from you.

A few other things about this month I want you to know...
  • You went apple picking. You gobbled up the homemade applesauce.
  • You went to the farm.  You loved the piggies and the cow and sitting on the tractor with daddy.
  • You went on your first hayride with your buddy Grayson.
  • You cheered on the Orioles - they made the playoffs for the first time in 15 years!
  • You love balls - you have a little basketball that you "throw" and crawl after.
  • You celebrated Poppy's 85th birthday and Grandma's birthday too!
  • You spent your Sundays at your grandparents' houses with your families
  • You say "da da da" all day long.  I think you love him best.
  • You love to chase Charlie.  Sometimes you even catch him.
  • Your favorite tricks are waving "hi," cheering "yay" and doing "so big."
  • Your cousins and brother and sister all want to hold you and hug you...all the time. 
  • You are one of the boys! You always want to be where Jake, Luke and Alex are...I am in trouble!
  • You love to play peek-a-boo.  You hide your face.  We say, "Where's Zachary?" You sit up and laugh and laugh.
Real time update:  Now daddy is up. (Yes, the last one to wake up, as always). He picked you up and you are sitting in his lap. I love watching you with daddy. You still look so little when he is holding you.

Happy first autumn my sweetheart.  Can't wait to see what the next month has in store for us!
I love you so much, my growing boy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

7 and 8 Months Old


The past two months have been a blur.  You have grown so much.  At 7 months, you weighed 15 pounds and at 8 months, you weigh 15 pounds 12 ounces.  I think you are going to be my little muscle man - just like Pop and Luke.

You eat anything and everything I put in front of you. You don't have any teeth yet, but you can chew and chew with your gums. You love Cheerios, turkey, fruit. And yesterday, you and Alex ate the same breakfast of waffles and yogurt!  I can tell already you are going to want to be just like your big brother!

August was such a fun month for you!  Steph, Ryan, and Chase came all the way from Australia to stay with us.  They brought a bunch of New Jersey cousins too - Jenny, Amy, Joan and Dolores.  We had a cookout with the whole family.  Then we spent a week in Ocean City with the Beynons.  And then we headed to the Jersey Shore for some more cousin time! You discovered the sand for the first time. You were a mess!!

You are learning so much.  I love watching you and interacting with you. I am trying to memorize every little thing about you at this age!
  • You are sometimes sleeping through the night.  And you usually take two naps a day. 
  • You love bath time. 
  • You clap hands and give kisses. 
  • You love when I tickle you, and you make this high pitched noise that sounds just like you are saying, "tickle. tickle." 
  • You are working on "So Big." You like to hold my hands and then I lift them up above your head.
  • You can sit up by yourself.  And you can get down from a sitting position.
  • You are learning to crawl.  You can get up on your hands and knees but haven't exactly mastered moving. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and get up on your hands and knees and then cry for me, because you can't figure out how to get back down. 
  • You have figured out how to turn the music in your crib on all by yourself. And sometimes I hear it playing in the middle of the night.
  • You really love to play with (and chew on) your toys.  You like to knock down block towers and love anything that makes noise.  You love to hold my phone and the remote!
But most of all, the thing I want to remember best about you at this age, is how you want to be held.  Sure, you are a wiggle worm, but you want me to carry you around.  You love to be near me and people in general.  I love how you look at people expectantly, waiting for them to notice how cute you are!  It usually doesn't take long.  That smile of yours wins people over in an instant!

August 13, 2012 - 7 months

September 13, 2012 - 8 months

I love you Booba,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Day of Fours

On Friday, Isabella went to school to meet her teacher and to see her new classroom.  She wanted to take her new ladybug backpack. Here she is, walking up the sidewalk.

We had to stop and take a picture in front of the tree as we do on every first and last day of school.  (Her first picture in front of this tree was taken when she was a week old, and Alex was starting school here). Now she is my big four year old.

She walked right in told her teacher her name.  Then she picked up her name tag and said, "This one is mine.  It spells I-S-A-B-E-L-L-A." She sat right down and started to play.  The only time she got upset was when I told her we had to leave.  She wanted to stay all day!

Yesterday was her real first day of school.  Here she is in Ravens Purple holding up her sign.  (Look how tall she is, but still so tiny behind the sign).  She is ready to go!

We had to get a few more shots of Isabella with Daddy and her best friend Kaitlyn by the tree.

Here is my fearless, funny, fantastic four year old in her cubby.  She gave us a kiss and went right into her classroom without a fuss.  I just love how much she loves school.  
I couldn't wait until 12:30 to pick her up and hear all about it! Her favorite part of the day was playing with Kaitlyn on the playground. She was also so proud of herself, because she can swing with no one pushing her. My favorite part of the day was picking her up. I missed her and so did Zachary. It melted my heart to see how excited he was to see her. I am so proud of my girl! I know she is going to have a fabulous year!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Flowers For You

Happy Birthday, Grandma.  I can't believe it has been 10 months since you went to heaven.  I still miss you everyday.  I don't think that will never change.  Sometimes I forget you are gone. It seems so unreal. I catch myself thinking, "Grandma will get a kick out of this when I tell her" or "Grandma will love this." And then I remember...

Yesterday, Jay cut all of the fresh flowers out of the garden.  Isabella and I brought this beautiful bouquet to you at the cemetery.  When we pulled up, she asked why were leaving the flowers there.  She said, "Grandma Mela isn't here. She lives in heaven on a star." I explained that yes you do.  But since we can't go to heaven to leave you flowers, we bring them there so you can look down and see them.  She thought that was cool. I left her in the car and put the flowers at your grave, and just as it does every time I go there, seeing your headstone brought me to my knees.   I stayed there for only a minute or two, stood up and dried my tears before I walked away.  I didn't want you to look down and see me sad because you died, I wanted you to see me honoring the day of your birth. 

When I got back in the car Isabella said, Grandma is an angel, and she has wings just like a butterfly. She flies all around heaven.  Sometimes I think she is over our house." 
I hope she knows what she is talking about, because I love the idea that you are close by watching over us.  I believe that you are...

Happy Birthday! 
I love you,
Your Firstborn

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Isabella

Dear Isabella,

Four years ago this minute, I was dressing you in a little tiny pink outfit and taking many pictures.  We were getting ready to come home from the hospital.  That evening you attended your first party.  We had the family over for pizza for Nana's birthday.  So I guess you can say you have been my "party girl" since the word go! 

I'm sorry this letter is a few days late, but we have been celebrating!  On Saturday, you turned four and your grandparents came to visit you.  That night we went to see fireworks at Hillendale.  It was the perfect way to spend your birthday!  Your face was priceless as you watched "your fireworks" with your cousins and friends. 
Sunday we celebrated your birthday by having an "Under the Sea" party.  You chose the theme, and of course I ran with it.  Aunt Barb made mermaid tails and "sea star" wands.  We had shark teeth and shell necklaces. You loved helping! We made up a cool sand art craft for the kids. We spent the week before making yummy desserts and decorating.  I also spent the week before watching the weather.  Last year we had an univited guest, Hurricane Irene, come to your party. This year Hurricane Issac was on his way!  I didn't want your party to get rained out two years in a row so I did a little (a lot) of praying and we set up an amazing mermaid lagoon outside hoping that the forecasters would be wrong.  I think you must have had a few angels listening on Sunday, because not a drop of rain fell until the last few minutes of the party. 

 Shari, the face painter, worked her magic and you donned your mermaid tails and danced like crazy! You had the best time!  And so did I!  I barely let you leave my sight the whole day, because I was enjoying watching the joy on your face! It was a perfect day!
So my sweet, wild, strong willed, beautiful girl, now you are four.  You tell me all the time that you are getting bigger. And I always say, "No, no no.  Don't say it!" The other day, you insisted on walking across the street to Samantha and Eva's house all by yourself!   Even though I do want you to stay my little girl, each stage of your life is so much fun.   You are my little sidekick.  We enjoy our girl time of shopping, picking out cute outfits to wear and pedicures. We love playing girly stuff like My Little Pony and dressing up your dolls. We like our "girl movies" like Beauty and the Beast and Annie. After you take your bubble baths, we cuddle up in your bed at night and read our Princess stories.  But do you know what else I absolutely LOVE about you?  You can hang with the boys! You love your brothers so much! You were excited to go see Diary of a Wimpy Kid with Alex and to run around in the yard and hide out in the fort!  You are such a big helper with Zachary.  You love to sing to him and take care of him.  You are so proud to be both a big and a little sister! And you are your daddy's girl. You love to help him work outside and you only want Daddy when you are hurt!

And you have a ton of friends - boys, girls, older, younger (hence the 40+ kids at your party).  Everyone wants to be around you because you are hilarious and fun and have an incredible imagination.  One of my favorite things to do is sit back and listen to you and your best friend, Kaitlyn, play. I can't believe the things you two come up with! I hope that all your life you continue to have these almost innate traits of being social and kind and thoughtful. 

I love you and your brothers with a fierceness that cannot be described.  I have no favorites.  Together you make up the pieces of my heart. But with that being said, you are my daughter, and the love I have for you is different. Not in a better way, but just a different way.  There is nothing in this world like having a son, but there is nothing in this world like having a daughter.  I thank God every single day for giving you to me to take care of and love.  Without you, my days would not be as full with laughter and silliness and all the fun pink girly things in life.   I want to be a role model for you.  I want to show you how to be strong and selfless and loving.  And I want to teach you by example to be confident in who you are as a person. But it is funny, because even at four years old,  I find that many times the tables are turned and you are reminding me how to be each of those things. 

 I can only imagine what great things the future holds for you my girl.  You have a picture in your room that says, "I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world."  I am completely certain that this is true!  And I can't wait to see it (and brag that I am your Mom)!
I love you,

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of First Grade

I have a first grader? What?  When did that happen?  It seems like hours ago Alex started preschool, minutes ago he started Kindergarten, and seconds ago he got off the bus ready to start summer vacation! But here we are- the first day of school!

This summer I spent good deal of time just looking at and listening to Alex in a state of complete awe.  He has grown up so much! He is all arms and legs and has a big boy haircut. His vocabulary is incredible. He can read to me at bedtime.  I have to give him his kisses when no one is looking.  And this morning as I watched him tie his own shoes, the lump in my throat got bigger and bigger.  He truly is my big first grader. 

He got on the bus with a wave and a smile (of course he was first in line).  I managed to not cry.  As the bus drove away I got butterflies in my stomach.  As much as I miss not having him here with us, I am so excited for him to go to school and learn all kinds of new things.  But I can't help it. I keep looking at the clock.  I can't wait to see that cute little smile as he gets off the bus and tells me about his first day of first grade!

Summer 2012 - Part 2

We had so much fun this August.  We spent our days at the pool and the beach.  We ate Thrashers Fries, cotton candy, and Fisher's popcorn. We rode rides on 3 different boardwalks in three different states. Daddy and Alex went fishing and hiking and camping.  We went to movies, had a lemonade stand, and ate ice cream with friends. We cheered on the Ravens and the Orioles!

Our cousins visited us from New Jersey and Australia.  We visited family in New Jersey.  Zachary got to experience his very first (and second) cousin's weekend and meet his best buddies Chase and Grady.

Can't believe how quickly summer has gone by this year.  It was a great one though.  We made memories that we will never forget.  And on Sunday, we will celebrate Isabella's birthday with a huge party with all of our family and friends.  One last summer fling!  Stay tuned...


Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer 2012 - Part 1

Summer has been so busy!   We are having a blast.  Here are some highlights of the first half of summer 2012!

Summer Hill Block Party - we had so much fun with all of our neighbors at the block party.  There was face painting, a balloon artist and a DJ!

The Pools - We have been spending lots and lots of time at Summer Hill Swim Club and Hillendale.  We love being at HCC with Mason, Preslee and Finley.  The kids are little fishies. Isabella now puts her head under water and can kick from one end of the pool to the other using a kick board.  She also makes me so proud when she goes right up to other kids at the pool and asks them to play.  She is always "making new friends." Alex amazes me daily.  He can dive. He does front flips off the diving board.  When I asked him who taught him that one, he said, "Griff asked if I could flip and I said I don't know.  Let me try! And I can!" This summer he also swam for the 6-0 Hillendale Hurricanes.  He has quite a collection of ribbons from his freestyle, backstroke, and breast stroke heats.  He also won rookie of the year!  Zachary loves the water, just like his brother and sister.  He loves to sit and splash in the fountains.  Mommy and Daddy are also enjoying the Happy Hours at the pools with their friends too. 

The Beach - We have already been to the beach three times this summer.  Nana and Pop Pop just bought a condo on the beach!  It is perfect for the kids, especially Zachary.  When it is too hot out, I can sit up on the deck and still feel like I am on the beach!  We have loved being at the beach with our families and friends.  The kids have played in the ocean, built forts out of boogie boards, umbrellas and towels, had sleepovers at Grandma and Pop's with Jake, Sophie and Luke, visited Samantha and Eva in Bethany, gone to Ava's birthday bash on the beach, gotten "tattoos" at Fish Tales and treats at Candy Kitchen, and Mommy's favorite - stayed on the beach late in the evening.  Mommy and Zachary have even watched the sun rise over the ocean.

Fourth of July-The last Saturday in June, we met all of our friends at Jacksonville Elementary to watch the fireworks.  We staked out our land with lots of blankets and had quite a gathering of people.  The kids played on the playgrounds and ate snowballs!  Then on Sunday we headed to the beach for a week.  Jay and I have spent 9 of the past 11 Fourth of July's in OC.  Our kids have been there every year of their lives! We spent the day on the beach with our cousins and the Atkinsons.  Then we ate dinner at Hidden Harbor with our families and then went to the park to listen to music and watch the fireworks. Zachary was completely mesmerized.  And this year as we watched the night sky illuminated in color and listened to the patriotic music it was bittersweet as we remembered Aunt Mickey, Grandma Mela, and LoLo.

Play Dates, Camps and Sports- So far this summer, the kids have also kept busy with play dates, camps and sports!  Alex has been taking tennis lessons, he went to Camp Hillendale and Camp Invention.  At Camp Invention, his group created the BB (Balloon Buster) 6000, an invention that pops water balloons!  Alex was chosen to demonstrate the BB 6000, and it worked on the first try!  He also earned his Blue Belt in karate and participated in a Sparring Tournament. He has most his play dates at the pools where he meets up with kids from school and off he goes to swim or play on the playgrounds.  Kaitlyn and Isabella spend hours and hours at one each other's houses playing, doing crafts and sometimes getting into a little bit of mischief. (It sounded like a good idea at the time to use berry scented antibacterial gel as hair gel). It is one of my favorite pastimes to listen to the imaginations of those two girls (and Alex too) when they play together. Isabella went to camp at her preschool and to Ballet Camp with Finley.  The two beautiful Beynon girls stole the show in their recital at the end of the week! Even Mommy and Daddy have been trying new sports.  Daddy has taken up tennis, and Mommy is doing a Boot Camp to get back in shape!

Stay tuned for Summer 2012- Part 2!