Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is Fall?

Now that Fall is officially here... I can say that I love this time of year. Yeah, I am really sad that beach weather is in the rear view mirror until May, but I do enjoy the Fall for many reasons.

I love seeing the leaves change.
I love the crispness in the air as the days get shorter.
I love the smell in the air when people have a fire going in their wood burning stoves or fireplaces.
I love when the wind blows & I watch the beautiful orange, yellow & red leaves blow across the ground.

I love going pumpkin picking and mums. (We need to get some!)
I love going to the farms and seeing the kids petting the animals, taking a hay ride, playing on the hay bales, and going through the corn mazes.

I love the Fall Festivals, Harvestfest & Octoberfests. I wish I could go to them all.
I love the Halloween Pet Parade in Chester, NJ.
Actually, I love going to Chester in the fall anytime!
Carving pumpkins - Messy but fun!
I love decorations like scarecrows, hay bales, cornstalks, pumpkins, gourds and mums.
Oh and Apple Picking - I can't think about fall without thinking about Apples! Brian makes Apple Crisp every year.
I have to add Pumpkin Pie & Pumpkin Bread to the list.

Candy-corn. Who doesn't love that? Although it's very easy to OD on that - Too much sugar. Caramel Apples - Yummm - and anything made with squash. Notice how this turned into a food list! Can you tell where my priorities are?

I will admit I am not a big fan of Halloween as an adult, especially since I never had kids ... up until now. I am not into dressing up in a costume and it gets kind of annoying to hear knocking on the door every few minutes. (Yeah I know, Bah Humbug!)
Knock knock knock ... "Trick or Treat" .... then the dog goes ballistic... bark bark bark snarl snarl growl bark ... Then me trying to hold the little Jack Russell beast back while I fight her to open the door... woof woof bark bark ... Then the terrified looks on the kids faces after they hear the dog, when I open the door. I try to hand the kids their candy while holding the beast back, and trying to figure out what costumes they are wearing & force a smile. Some of the kids are clearly too old to be trick or treating and don't even bother to wear a costume. I should sick Pepper on them.

I remember one year not feeling good, and setting a huge bowl of candy out in the front of the door with a note to take ONE piece of candy only. Well, of course you know, the first kid came and knew he hit the mother lode & dumped the whole bowl into his sack.

This year is very different. I am very excited about Halloween because I get to dress up my daughter in a fun costume. We might even take her trick or treating LOL! (Yeah you know darned well the candy is for us, not her!). I won't say what her costume is yet, but you know I'll be posting many pictures of that! I will say this - it is very cute and made Brian & I hysterically laugh. More to come...

This is Brian and I picking our first pumpkin as a married couple.
Little did we know we would have our very own little "pumpkin" this year!

Here are a couple of pictures I took of a local farm a few years ago

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Julianna - 18 week progress

Julianna is 18 weeks today (she was 4 months this past Thursday)
We have hit a few milestones in the past 2 weeks...

Doctors Visit - Julianna went for her 4 month checkup on Friday and vaccinations (Arrrgh!) - I assumed she was going to handle the shots as badly as last time. She cried a lot for her 2 month shots. (Truth be told, I thought I was going to handle it as bad as last time too! haha!)
First the good stuff - She weighs 14.5 lbs (50th -75th percentile) and 24.5 inches long (50th percentile). Dr Thomas said Julianna is thriving and she is very healthy. She is taking about 28-30 oz a day. The doctor said we should start her on cereal when she gets to about 32 oz, and starts crying because she is hungry in between feedings. Maybe 2 weeks? We'll have to see how it plays out. Could be sooner, could be later. No rush. She is sleeping 9.5 hours through the night and I know she can give us another hour if we pushed it - but I just have to figure out how to arrange her feeding schedule to get us an hour more right now. Going to move to 4 hours soon - in the next week or so.

Now the shots - actually like I said - not too terrible. She cried of course. It sucked. But it was not screaming where her voice went hoarse and she couldn't breathe like last time! She cried for a minute or so and once it was over, and I picked her up, she was smiling. I was ok too - no crying from me at all this time probably because Julianna handled it better. (I take my cues from the baby!)

This is the way she likes to nap sometimes (below) - what a bizarre child. She kind of lays on her side & back but crosses her legs. SHe has been doing this for a couple months now. Hey, who am I to argue - she is comfy! She still does sleep on her back, but turns on her side like this sometimes. (Yes I know she doesn't match! haha!)

Stay verrrry still - POPP - Wahhhhhhh.
Yes we got her ears pierced. Brian and I wanted to do this for the last month and we finally did it. I know some are against it but too bad- this is what we wanted for her and I am glad we did it. She looks pretty cute too! She cried real hard for about 60 seconds -  We went to Salon DeJaVu in Rockaway, NJ. Everyone in the salon gave me dirty looks & thought I was murdering my child - but hey whatever, not like I gotta see those people ever again so I gave them all dirty looks back! As soon as Julianna was done cryng, she started smiling & laughing at Debbie (my good friend & owner of Salon DeJaVu that pierced her) - it's like she forgot all about it right away! What a tolerant kid we have! How lucky we are.

Milestones - She is now grabbing everything with 2 hands. She looks a bit like a drunk but at least she is using both hands now & grabs at everything! Her motor skills are really improving. This is a huge milestone for her. She grabs her toys but especially loves her bunny & her "taggy" blanket and pulls it right to her mouth with both hands. (no blanket while sleeping of course)

"Yes my feet are attached to my body!"
This is the best thing she has done lately - She is now sticking her cute little feet straight up in the air & has figured out that they are hers! And she has learned how to grab her feet & toes and hold on! This just happened yesterday and now every time I change her, she sticks those piggies in the air, wiggles them, and grabs on for dear life! So cute to watch. Yeah yeah I know, no one else cares really - but Brian and I sure do love it!

Other things-
  • She is starting to really giggle, it's this high pitched squealy giggle that sounds like a little bird noise. So cute.
  • She can prop herself up on her elbows and push herself (like a girl pushup) and look around when she is on her stomach - she tries to roll over but she just does not have the core strenth yet (maybe Pilates' would fix that?)
  • Her head & upper body strength is very good. She is sitting up strongly with us supporting her.

That's it for now. Adios & Goodnight. Time to watch the Jets game & the Yankees game.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother. -Lin Yutang

Just some random mother things to talk about ...

It's funny how once you become a mother, there are so many things in every aspect of your life that you now appreciate & look at from a completely different perspective. I'm talking about things that I never gave a second thought about before I had Julianna - It's not something you have any control over, it just happens. I recently watched the story on the news about the little boy that went 'missing' in Oregon. Before I had Julianna, I would have thought, "OK yeah this is sad, but whatever"
Now... I watch that story in horror and fear. When I thought about that happening to Julianna, it made me cry hysterically. It's funny how you can almost put yourself in other parent's shoes when you have a child yourself. Those poor parents must be beyond devastation. You would need to put me in the looney bin if it were me.

Before I had Julianna, I was very self centered & selfish ... yep, It was always about me. That's how I used to roll. Don't get me wrong, it's about my husband & our relationship too. But I will admit I never wanted kids because I was too greedy. I didn't want anything coming in the way of our relationship. At least I can admit it.
Once Julianna came along, Brian and Julianna are my world and she is front & center for everything. And you know what? Our relationship is even better than I could have ever imagined.
It's amazing how you just automatically put your child's needs before everything else in your world. It just happens.

I never really liked other kids - sorry but anyone that knows me knows I was the person in the restaurant that got "annoyed" when parents with kids sat anywhere near me. Now, I am the mom that smiles at the other mothers in the restaurant when their kids are screaming or acting up - because we've ALL been there or will be there one day. I don't wish evil on them like I used to. LOL. I find I am way more 'sympathetic' towards parents with crying kids. I don't even hear a baby crying anymore even when they are right next to  me. What happened to me!? Oh yeah, I became a mom!

Innocence - It's amazing how my heart just melts when I look at Julianna. I just want to hold her and never let go. It makes me sad or uneasy to think about how she is so "Innocent" right now and knows nothing of this world yet. 

I can't wait to show & teach her everything ... and for her to explore the world on her own. These are some things I am looking forward to:

  • Teach her about how caterpillars turn into butterflies
  • How each flower has it's own wonderful smell
  • The smell in the air before it rains
  • How soft and loving our Pepper doggie is  
  • Santa coming on Christmas eve (I can't wait to see her joyous expression on Christmas morning! I always loved Christmas as a child and can't wait until it is her turn to love it like I did!)
  • Making Christmas cookies and doing the 25 day countdown until Christmas with the advent calendar
  • Putting up the Christmas tree & decorating it as a family
  • Showing her what baby animals look like and going to the petting zoo
  • Seeing her face when we take her to the circus or other kid's shows
  • Teaching her about money and how to be smart with it
  • Going for a walk in the park and seeing the simple & beautiful things nature has to offer
  • Seeing her develop relationships with her grandparents, friends & family
  • Seeing her develop her own unique little personality (which is already happening!)
  • Seeing her face the first time she realizes she can stand up on her own
  • Showing her how to build a sand castle on the beach
  • Seeing her walking on the sand on the beach and laughing as she feels the sand between her toes
  • Relaxing on a cool summer night outside, listening to the peaceful noises of the evening like the crickets, peeping frogs, and other night creatures
  • Dressing her up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating
  • Showing her how to swim
  • Her first day of school
  • Her first Baseball game
  • Taking her bird-watching and learning about all the birds that Mommy & Daddy love
I could go on and on ... but you get the picture. There are so many 'firsts' I am looking forward to! I know Brian is looking forward to all of this too! It's amazing how you both become instant teachers and role models to your child!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What do I love?

I love ...

When Julianna looks at me and smiles

Snuggling with Julianna

My husband

That Julianna sleeps through the night - 9.5 hours

Morning Coffee

My Hair - Yup I am one of the few.

Clinique Under-eye cream and moisturizer - The best!

Baseball games

Birds chirping in the Morning

Crisp Autumn Mornings & all the beautiful leaves changing colors

That my daughter is so happy & smiles all the time

When my dog Pepper curls up next to me and makes happy noises as I pet her

Baby Animals



My Blackberry - can't live without it

Crystal Clear Blue waters of the Caribbean Ocean


Shopping - for Julianna

Photographing my daughter

Baby clothes - especially PJ's


What things do you love ??

Friday, September 17, 2010

Church & Julianna

So I think we have decided to 'try out' church ... for Julianna's sake. Those of you that know me, know that I am not the 'church' type. It's just not for me, it never has been.
I am not trying to insult anyone or push any views on anyone. I know religion is a touchy subject, so I am not blogging what religion you should believe in or anything like that.

I want to share my experience and my thoughts on what has made me change my mind. All my life, I never really saw any reason to go to church and never really had any interest. I didn't go to church as a child either. My husband doesn't go to church, so between the both of us, that's the way it has been.

Enter Julianna.
Last weekend, my friend's son was baptised in a very nice church in the next town over. I used to live right by there and always thought it was a very pretty church on the lake. The baptism service was  surprisingly light and interesting. I found myself not falling asleep or wanting to leave. Julianna slept the whole time too. I really liked the pastor (sorry, but I am not sure if that's the right 'title' to call him or not) - and I liked what he had to say. I felt very comfortable there & I left that service thinking, "Maybe we should attend a service here to see if we like it???" ...The Sunday service is about 45 minutes long. I can handle that.
I thought it might be nice, for Julianna's sake, to attend church, even if it's once or twice a month. Originally we hadn't planned on baptising her right now... this was a very personal decision and I do not expect everyone to agree with it. We figured she could make up her own mind later in life - and left it at that. Now I am thinking it might be good for the 'family' (us) to try it out. It's not like we have to commit to it if it ends up not being for us. Funny how you put your child before anything else. I always heard you do that - but I never realized until I started to do it! I want to do 100% what is best for her.

So in the car ride home, I brought it up to Brian that maybe we should attend a service there to see if we liked it? He almost drove off the road and asked "What did you do with my wife and who are you?" - He was all for it- I didn't expect that either!

So it was settled... we should try it out.

Now ... when??? Maybe next Sunday. Maybe the week after. I'll keep you posted. This is a HUGE HUGE step for me! For us!

Honeymoon In St. Lucia

I thought it might be fun to blog about our honeymoon in St. Lucia 3 years ago. St. Lucia is referred to as the 'Hawaii' of the Caribbean... It has black sand beaches, thick rainforests, and volcanic mountains. It's really a beautiful island!

I can't believe Brian and I have been married a little over 3 years already. When we were on our honeymoon, I wrote down some thoughts every day, so we never forget anything...

Here it goes ...

We actually went to 2 separate hotels in St. Lucia - The first one was Sandals Grande. We stayed there for 6 days. The second hotel was Tikaye Village & we stayed there for 4 days. We wanted a larger "Couples only" style resort first then we wanted to wind down our honeymoon at a private secluded spot like Tikaye.


Sandals Grande is a 'couples only' all inclusive mega-resort. We had no complaints about it, but in retrospect, I wish we would have gone to Sandals for 4 days and to Tikaye for 6 days. Tikaye was more our style. 

1st full day as a married couple - we arrived at Sandals.We flew into San Juan, and then had to take a prop plane from San Juan to St Lucia...

Landing in St. Lucia Airport (I forget the name, but it was the smaller airport)

View from the Main hotel

View of Pigeon Mountain - we swore we were going to hike it...

Our "Just Married" Flip Flops

Loved the water there - Although no black sand beaches at Sandals.
They bring in the white sand for their guests. Not sure I like that idea,
they should have left the beaches natural (Black sand)

We spent all day in the water. We called ourselves "Sandals Fish"

 Me in the water...

A worker carving a wood statue

So peaceful

This was one of the pools that had all these awesome gardens around it. Brian and I would go there every day and watch the hummingbirds and other birds flying all around while we hung out in the pool - we were surprised how private it was considering how big the resort was. I guess thats why they have 5 or 6 pools.

This was the main pool. We didn't go in it once! This is where all the annoying 20 year old "kids" hung out and were drinking already at 10am ... no thanks. Not our thing. We stuck with the beach or the other smaller pools (like the one above).

Pigeon Mountain at Sunset - We never did get to hike up there like we wanted to.

We saw tons of these little crabs all over the beach & rocks, etc.

View of Sandals from the pier

This kid (below) dove down 100 feet to get this starfish, he said he could hold his breath for 10 minutes - we didn't beleive him but hey ya never know - he did afterall grow up on the island, maybe he built up to that over the years. He then of course, tried to sell us the starfish - hahaha - yeh I am sure customs wouldn't mind that live animal coming through the airport.

Another awesome view from the hotel

Brian and I had a couples aromatherapy massage while we were there. That is a must-do on any vacation. We try to do it 2x a year here in NJ too. It's something you have to do or try at least once in your life. Massages are great - we normally go to DePasquale here.

This was the hobie-cat that we took out. They gave us a 5 minute lesson, and off we went into the bay. Well, we went way out and then couldn't turn back, the thing wasn't turning because we were against the wind and we were headed out to sea fast! I was panicking big time and pictured the Saint Lucian coast guard plucking us out of the sea 3 days later. Luckily my husband saved the day and got us turned back in finally.

Here is one of the other small pools we hung out at during the day... 

Sandals at night

We went into "Castries" town one day ... It was nothing to write home about; it was the typical dirty & poor Caribbean city with tons of tourist shopping.
I thought this was a cool picture of the school children in their uniforms.

Here I am with my big hat in Castries

We ate lunch at a 'local' place called KimLans... and we ate Roties. I think we liked it. I also thought the guy taking our picture was going to steal our camera!

This was Tomas, our personal cab driver. He was cool.
The Saint Lucians love the "rich" americans lol.

This is Brian and I out to dinner at one of the many Sandals restaurants.
The food & wine was very good anywhere we went in Sandals. There was always a live band playing ... and there are a few Bob Marley songs that the bands played, when I hear them now, remind me of our honeymoon.

Took a catamaran ride around the island over to the "Pitons".

There we are- the newlyweds on the catamaran in front of the "Piton" Mountains.
They are volcanic & beautiful!

The Pitons

We went to see an active volcano - that was pretty cool.

Skye vs. the volcano

There were hummingbirds everywhere we went on the island. That was pretty amazing - and they actually landed long enough for you to take a picture.

We took a tour in the rain forest and saw some amazing flowers & plants.

Brian and I at the "London Pub" - they had some great food!

London Pub

Relaxing on the hammock after dinner on the beach


Brian and I getting ready to go snorkeling

On the snorkeling boat. The boat actually went over to the cove by Tikaye village
(the hotel where we were staying after Sandals)

Under the wedding archway - Every day there was a wedding on the beach - so nice. I Often wonder if we should have gotten married there and then stayed in Saint Lucia for 2 more weeks! Don't get me wrong - We LOVED our wedding but getting married on the beach looked so simple and romantic (and alot cheaper than our wedding!) 

Barefoot cafe- good lunch every day!

We took a cab over to Sandals and had the cab driver stop along the way so we could take pictures... We also stopped at the Art Gallery to buy some wood carvings - we wanted to bring home something very unique and we certainly did! We bought a wooden woman statue and a carving of the Saint Lucian sunset & piton mountains.


Arrived at Tikaye ... It is up on a Cliff-top and every view is amazing. Tikaye is a small romatic resort - maybe 20 cottages total - when we got there, they greeted us like this, "Welcome to Tikaye Mr. & Mrs. Fillmore" (before we even said our name!) because they knew were the only ones checking in that day! Everywhere we went, they greeted us by our name. That was awesome. Talk about great service! This is the restaurant...

It was so amazing to eat our meals overlooking the ocean! The food was amazing!

The rooms were incredibly unique! You have your own cottage on the cliff overlooking the water... it's all 'open air'. The windows had plantation shutters on them and we had our own private plunge pool and hammock on the front deck. The shower was outdoors too. What an amazing experience! The best part is, everything was very private... no one could see you- just the way I like it. This is a view from the front deck into the cottage. Believe it or not, bugs were not a problem at all because of the breeze up on the mountain.

Here is the outdoor shower. We had a cute little tree frog in there one night. (We later saw his carcass being carried away by an army of ants... survival of the fittest I guess!)

This was our little lizard visitor. They were everywhere. He was behind one of the wood carvings hanging from the wall. He didn't bother us and we didn't bother him.
He was very cute!

Dinnertime - Salude!

This is the view from Tikaye of Tikaye Beach. You had to walk down 200+ steps to get to the beach - that was pretty cool! (We had to walk up them too at the end of the day - that was a rough one!)

This was the restaurant we had lunch every day on the beach. It was a very colorful!

View of Tikaye Beach from up on Tikaye Village cliffs.  

View from our cottage of the snorklers below...

 We snorkeled a few days; found & identified about 30+ species of fish. I saw a "Sea Eel" and screamed under water LOL. This place has the best snorkeling of any place I had ever been. Picture of Brian snorkeling.

Us in our plunge pool

Every evening before dinner, we would come back to our room and order a cheese/cracker platter and relax on the front deck, and feed the birds and look out at the water... that was the best!!


Our personal Somalia, Cleus. He picked some fine wine for us nightly with dinner!

Here is one of our favorites to this day.

Sunset from our cottage... how peaceful!

Last morning in St. Lucia ... we didnt' want to leave. Ever. There is something to be said for no phones, no tv, no contact with anyone.

Brian says GOODBYE as we get ready to head to the airport.

Our wedding & honeymoon was the best 11 days of our lives. Brian and I really had the perfect wedding day ... then we really had the best honeymoon ever. I love my husband so much and we have an incredible relationship. Now that we had our daughter Julianna, our love has grown even more than I could have ever imagined. A baby brings you even closer. I know it sounds sappy but that's the way it is.


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