Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Ice Caverns

This past weekend, we took Julianna to the Christmas Ice Caverns near us in Fairfield, NJ. It's a huge indoor Christmas display which you walk through and each window is set up with a themed Christmas display. It's a bit cheesy but it was still fun - and I think she kind of liked it. She ended up liking the coin operated rides at the end much better though!


 Santa's workshop

Julianna watching Santa's Elves 

Julianna on her submarine ride 

Pretty trees 

I love nutcrackers 

Pretty presents under the tree 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

That is one amazing house!

This past weekend was my birthday. Brian took me out to a very nice italian restaurant and we had a great night & great meal. It was topped off with stopping at this pretty amazing house near us that has incredible lights set up very year.

But this house is not only about the lights. That is the understatement - the BIG thing here is Santa's  there for the kids on the front porch. Children can come there and write a letter to Santa, and put it on this rope, which then then use a pulley system to get it up to Santa's sled where it drops into Santa's bag!

People come from miles around to see this house. We should have brought Julianna this year but she wasn't with us that night (since we had a babysitter). We might still bring her there one night if we have time. These pictures don't do it justice since I only had my iphone with me- Next time I will bring my big-girl camera.

Here is the house from across the street. 
There are cars going by all night long- and you have to park blocks away to walk here. 
Even with the crowds, it's still very warm & inviting. We love it! 

Everyone is congregated on the front lawn - It's hard to see, but there is a desk there, with kids waiting to write and deliver that letter to Santa (You can kind of see Santa and his reindeer above the roof over the garage- that's where the letters go!) 

I wonder what this guy's electric bill is?!

This was cute- it's a walkway to a little house with a Teddy Bear Santa inside! 

Parents & kids waiting on line for Santa! 

The real meaning of Christmas. 

Does anyone have a house like this by them? 
I needed a fun "In the sprit" night like this, especially after the horrible Newtown shooting the day before. This helped to make us smile and think about the holiday again. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A few thoughts about Friday

I, like many of you, sat glued to the TV (or Internet) on Friday listening to the Newtown massacre story unfold. I cried. I got angry. I cried again. I am so incredibly sad for the families that lost children. I am  horribly sad for the children that had to witness their friends get murdered right in front of their eyes. I couldn't wait for work to be over so I could go get my daughter and hug her tight. I still can't wrap my head around this at all. Who can make sense of this tragedy? Is there really a reason that would satisfy anyone? No, never. This man was a monster, he wasn't human. How was this missed? How did NO ONE pick up on this? And right before Christmas, that just makes it so much worse. It really does minimize any and all problems in your life, doesn't it?

Seeing the president address the nation with tears in his eyes makes you realize no one is immune to this, not even our leader. We are all parents, siblings, children, friends & human beings. We feel compassion no matter who you are.

I don't know how to make sense of this - I don't know if anyone can. I know this - I feel just a little less safe no matter where I am. No one and no town is immune from anything. You really do need to be careful and alert wherever you are. You just never know. And I know this is the cliche' thing to say, but live your life to the fullest. Don't get caught up on the petty things and remove the negative things from your life. Enjoy each day. Breathe in the fresh air. Soak in the sun. Hug your family & love your children. You just never know when that can be taken away from you.

I am focusing on the children only because it's so much worse when a 6 year old is taken from this world. My heart still bleeds for the adults that lost their lives too of course, even the killer's mother.

Is gun control the solution? Who knows. I feel like the government could regulate guns all they want, but I am pretty certain if a scumbag animal wants a gun, they are going to find one on the street somehow. I don't think that will stop things like this from happening. Maybe there should be a cry for more awareness or for people to speak up when they see someone that is clearly having mental issues and seems like they could be a threat. You can't tell me this guy skated through life like a normal person and showed no signs of crazy? (Here's the "mad" part in me coming out!). I am not looking to make this into a political debate so I'll leave it alone, but those are my thoughts for what it's worth. It doesn't really matter at this point, because it won't bring back any of those children.

I also want to recognize the heroic efforts of the teachers, children and the custodian. We keep hearing of different people that saved probably many more lives thank goodness. I heard a story that the custodian ran down the hallways yelling there was a gunman. Did he save lives? Probably. I would like to think that by the principal and the school psychiatrist being shot, that this saved other lives too possibly. I have to try and look at it that way.

God Bless the families affected. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Julianna is 2 and 1/2 years old

I haven't done one of these in a while but I've been kind of busy .... In case you missed it, read it HERE why I was missing for a few weeks.

So Julianna was two and 1/2 years old at the end of November. It seems like the last few months, she's been learning and growing so much. I am in amazement at the things she's doing lately!

She comes up with these new phrases every day that she didn't hear from us, like "OK bye guys!" she says to us before bed time. And she interacts with the tv now - she tells toodles on mickey mouse clubhouse which tool to use! haha!

Julianna is understanding so much lately - she gets Christmas as far as Santa goes and the decorations- and she loves it. She keeps asking when Santa is coming... she'll be so surprised on Christmas morning!

We've also been telling her she is going to have a little brother - and all she can say to that is "No Mama!" and then asks for Mickey Mouse on TV. I showed her my belly since it's sticking out now, and told her there's a baby in mama's belly - and explained to her a few times. Last night I asked her to tell Daddy what's in Mama's belly - and she said "A BABY!" and smiled! I then asked her if she wanted a little brother and she said "No Mama". Well, it's a start. haha.

Here are some things Julianna is doing lately: 

  • Names basic colors - about 10-15 total
  • Counts to 12 and can count things as she touches them but loses count around 5 or 6. She will point to 2 cups and say "2 cups!" and be all proud of herself.
  • She likes to group things by color and shape now
  • She can name basic shapes like circle, triangle, square, rectangle, oval, diamond. 
  • Julianna still won't say her own name- she refers to herself as "Me" or "I" and knows her name but just won't say it yet. 
  • She brushes her own teeth now for a while - still needs help with actually brushing the back teeth but she gets it. 
  • Her vocabulary is getting very good- she can speak in full comprehensive sentences and can have a conversation. 
  • She doesn't dress herself yet, but we also still dress her in the morning and haven't pushed the issue. She can put on a shirt but gets it backwards or wrong arms still - haha. 
  • Julianna wants to help clean and do chores. Can't wait to put her to work! haha! I need to teach her how to fold laundry because that's one of the things I hate doing! 
  • A few times lately, she tells me in the morning, "I stay with Mommy and Daddy today. I will play with my toys and watch Mickey Mouse" - It breaks my heart because we bring her to daycare and of course I want her home, but can't do it since we both work. She understands we work - but I hate that some days she just wants to be with us and can't. That part sucks. 

Her favorite tv shows... 

  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 
  • Gaspard & Lisa 
  • Dinosaur train 
  • Thomas the train 
  • Bob the builder 

Her favorite movies that she asks to watch over & over & over & over.... 

  • Toy Story 
  • Cars 
  • Toy Story 2 
  • Toy Story ... Toy Story ... Toy Story .... Toy Story .... Toy Story ... well, you get it right? 

She doesn't have a favorite toy really - she just alternates with all her toys right now and plays with pretty much everything. Her giraffe however, is her favorite stuffed animal in the world and loves this thing so much. It's so precious to see her calling for him when he is missing or she gives him kisses over & over and tells giraffe she loves him!
Last week, we thought giraffe was dropped in the mall - and I ran in like a crazy lady backtracking everywhere we went and didn't find him. Then I got back to the car in tears, with Julianna and Daddy waiting for me, and had to give the bad news. Julianna said "Mama, giraffe's in the bathroom" - and it was THEN that I remembered she stuffed him into the hidden pouch in the diaper bag while we were in the bathroom changing her diaper! Sure enough, there he was in the pouch. The kid saved the day!
This giraffe came as an add-in to a PJ set my friend got for her... and it's made by Garanimals, but I have not been able to find another one online or in the store anywhere. We need a backup just in case (if and when) this giraffe decides to disappear forever. Ugh! I dread that!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's almost Christmas time!

Did you finish your Christmas shopping yet? I'm done. Almost. I have a few last minute things to get... but done for the most part. I got most of my shopping done on Cyber Monday. I can't do this last minute stuff, it stresses me out too much.

This is a fun year for us because Julianna is 2 and 1/2 years old -she is just starting to understand Santa Claus - and we are trying to teach her the story of Christmas - that part might have to wait as she is still stuck on "When is Santa coming to visit?" and "Can Santa bring me more 'Mater' books?" (He's the old rusty tow-truck character from the "Cars" movie- one of her favorite movies next to Toy Story!)

We put up our tree on Black Friday. Julianna loved the tree, and we told her when she went to bed, Santa's Elves were coming to decorate the tree. So when she woke up on Saturday morning, she asked first if Santa came .... then saw the tree all decorated, and got really excited! It's a fun time of year.

We decided not to do the Elf on the Shelf this year... we are going to do it next year. I think she might not fully get it this year... or be creeped out by it... but next year, we think she will. Shelf Elf can wait a year.

Last weekend, Brian, Julianna and I went to a local "German" Christmas outdoor market. Wow, what a great day! We did not expect it to be this much fun! They had Christmas music pumping through the market - local kids choirs singing music, tons of delicious german food and baked items, so many vendors and things to buy, story time, and Santa of course (which Julianna took one look at, and hid behind me!) Oh and the Carrousel. The final touch to a perfect day - Julianna loves the carrousel. We didn't buy much, but we did find this great hand-made puzzle for Julianna that Santa will give her. She loves puzzles lately... we think she will love this one!

Mmmmm German hotdogs. 

Stealing Mommy's pretzel 

Carrousel ride

Our town's tree lighting was this weekend - We had a great time even though it rained. They moved the carolers inside, and of course we missed half of it because Julianna was THAT child. She was climbing the chairs and under the chairs, laying on the chairs - people everywhere, I am sure someone got kicked by her LOL. So my husband and I took her to the other side of the municipal building where we let her run up and down the halls 50 times. We ran her out like we do with the dog. Then we got hot chocolate and saw the tree lighting! Santa made an appearance on the fire truck with lights and sirens going. It was so much fun! Julianna was a little suspicious of Santa though. She only likes him from afar lately. Overall, she liked the tree lighting!

The town decorated the fire truck with christmas lights! So festive! 

Town Tree all lit up! 

Julianna with Daddy (in green sweater & blue hat) singing christmas carols before she started to act up. 

 Julianna and Daddy watching the firetruck 

Bad picture of Julianna taking the candy-cane from suspicious santa. (I'm in baseball cap behind her) 

I got myself some new glasses before my end of the year vision benefit ran out... I went for more of the modern younger look - haha! Do I look 31 instead of 41 now? I wonder if they make glasses to make my forehead look smaller?

Brian and I went to Toys-R-Us and did Julianna's Christmas shopping on Black Friday weekend (and we had a nice date night too!) ... We got her all kinds of good stuff from Santa. 

We got her THIS Animal Planet farm that comes with barn, tractor and all the animals. She is going to love it!
We got her THIS Wheelies garage & ramp. She loves cars, so I know she'll love this! 

We got Julianna some matchbox cars, hello kitty stuff, coloring markers & books, play dough, duplos (the bigger legos) and a bunch of other things I can't think of right now. Oh we also got her the Disney character sets for the "Cars" movie, and from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We also got her a Buzz Lightyear character. She loves Buzz. Julianna is not into princess yet... and I stress YET. I know the princess will enter the building soon, but she's not here yet. Right now the main interest is cars, dinosaurs and building things! 

What have you all done for the Holidays so far? Did you start your holiday shopping?

Do you bake Christmas cookies? We only make sugar cookies with icing but in case you are more creative, here is a great link to 50 delicious christmas cookie recipes! Enjoy! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Do you send Christmas cards?

Did everyone do their christmas cards yet? Do you send them at all? If so, do you send pre-made folded cards from the store? Do you make customized photo cards? I do photo cards ... I look forward to it every year. I love designing them. I use Shutterfly, even though I have stopped using them for prints, due to the fact their colors are terrible and they crop when they don't need to be. However, they offer the best selection of 'card stock' cards and discounts... plus I had a $20 giftcard, so I used them. For all other prints, I use WHCC/smugmug now.

I just ordered my cards. I hadn't picked up my camera in weeks, due to the fact I was feeling like death for 6 weeks while incubating the boy. (click HERE for that news!!) But I knew I had to for Christmas, so I was inspired to do it finally, and it sure felt good!

It was hard deciding which picture to use but this is the one I went with. I was hoping to get that magical holiday shot with Julianna next to the tree smiling wearing a pretty flowing red dress or holding the string of white lights...But NO. I didn't come close to that. Julianna was running all over, bouncing off the furniture and rolling around... And flowing dress? Forget it. She had a red shirt on, so it was time to take the photos! haha!

This is the one I'm using for our cards. It shows Julianna's personality.  

Here are the ones that didn't make the cut.... but worth showing... 

I did put this one on the back of our card... It is warming. 

On an unrelated note... I had 2 friends come to me in the last month to ask me my opinion on buying a DSLR - imagine that!? My opinion? Wow- that must mean I'm doing something right... Made me feel good to say the least!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guess What?! (Yeah, it's what you think!)






I'm pregnant. 

I'm 41 years old (42 in 2 weeks- Ahhhhh!!)
I'm 16 weeks pregnant.
It's a BOY.
He is due on the same day as my daughter's birthday in May. Funny, right? You might think so. I think, "What an expensive month - 2 kid's birthdays, our anniversary & mother's day!!"

He won't be born on Julianna's birthday because I am having a C-section. I had an unplanned C-section the first time, so we decided to go that route this time, but planned. Realistically, they will be about a week apart.

No, we haven't even thought about names. We have plenty of time for that- and I won't be discussing it or taking a poll here - or asking my Facebook friends for suggestions. That's not my thing. It's a private choice that my husband and I will be making on our own before May some time.

Due to my age, my ultrascreen diagnostic test came back with low numbers for trisomy 18 & 13, so we opted to get the Amnio-CVS test at 13 weeks. I know most moms decide not to have the test, however, my husband and I need to know everything, we don't like surprises. Just for the record, the CVS sucked bad. It hurt. I won't sugar coat it. A probe being stuck up your cervix to clip out a piece of your placenta just damned hurts. It had to be done this way due to where the placenta was. THe good news is - all tests came back fine. And we found out it's a boy. I was secretly hoping for a girl, because we have so many girly things and pretty girly clothes :) - but hey, now we will have one of each.

I felt like death for 6 weeks, which is why I didn't blog or do much else for a long time.
The severe nausea started around 5 weeks or so. I had a great pregnancy with Julianna, and I truly did not see this coming. It hit me fast & hard. I was unable to function, eat, drink or sleep. I had to sit up in our recliner chair at night wrapped in a blanket praying to feel better. No relief came. For a long time. Days.... weeks....

I am very lucky I work from home or I would have had to go out on disability. I could barely function much less take care of a toddler. Thank goodness my husband is amazing and took care of Julianna every night - he made dinner, bathed her, put her to bed, read her a story, took her food shopping, etc.
I went on medication almost right away called Zofran, which took the edge off, but had it's own fun side effects including severe constipation which actually put me in the hospital due to the pain and my bladder shutting down. Fun stuff huh? Oh and the bloating - oh my god the bloating. I had to eat (when I could actually eat) maybe 3 mouthfuls of food. I ate like a pregnant sparrow. If I ate more than a few bites, I instantly felt super bloated like I was going to explode. As a result, I lost about 9 pounds total. I never once threw up, but that is my will, I don't get sick. I am not a puker. But man o man, I felt like I was going to throw up 24 hours a day. I couldn't move, lay down, eat, drink, function. Forget going out of the house. It sucked - I won't lie- I was the most miserable human being on the planet. It was a dark time - and I was mentally & emotionally overcome. And as far as the few people we did tell, I was not all happy-happy-joy-joy with me telling them.

I finally started to finally feel better around 13-14 weeks. But I had a relapse on Thanksgiving day. It was the ONE day I was looking forward to - I wanted to sit down with my family and pig out on Thanksgiving turkey. Nope. Instead, I got to sit there and watch everyone stuff their faces.

I am now 16 weeks and starting to think I finally rounded the corner. I can, for the most part, eat normally and feel human. I don't have very many food aversions and there's not much I can't eat now. I am still on alert thinking I could have a bad day - so I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'm 100% out of the woods.

I finally picked up my camera for the first time in weeks to take some Christmas photos - and it felt good. I blogged when I could, but now I'm ready to be back, and I need to start reading my bloggy friend's updates too! I feel so out of the loop!

I am just now starting to embrace being pregnant. Yes, it's what we wanted, but with the way I felt, I was not very happy about it as you can imagine. I am not one of those moms that dreams of holding their baby when it's born, so for me, this is just the way it is. I remember going to the birthing classes when I was pregnant with Julianna, and leaving there crying because all the other moms were saying how they couldn't wait to hold their newborn. I remember thinking there was something wrong with me. Well... I had Julianna and loved her right away, so I know there was NO issue there. It's just me. Maybe I'm weird, who knows. As of now, I am happy with the way I feel, I am happy with the fact the baby is healthy and things are going well. We have a lot of planning and things to do before May comes around.... and when he is born in May, I'll be happy he's here.
Do I have fears? Of course I do. Who wouldn't?

p.s. We have been telling Julianna what's going on but all she got out of it so far was that Mommy has a boo-boo (from all those nights/days wrapped up on the sofa moaning) and when we ask her if she wants a little brother, she says "No Mama!" - but she doesn't quite get it yet. She will by May. 

And of course, how can I drop this news on you without the obligatory pregnancy self-portrait that is super-blurry and if you look hard, you can see the jack russell's head on my un-made messy bed.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Remembering the NJ Shore

In light of the recent hurricane Sandy ... and the devastation that our NJ Shore suffered, here are some pictures from the NJ Shore from this summer...

These first ones are from Point Pleasant Beach & boardwalk. Julianna loved the rides and the beach. From what I saw online and on tv, we won't be able to go back there any time soon as most of what is pictured below is now gone.

From my iphone ... Long Branch (Seven Presidents Beach), our other favorite spot this summer. 
We actually collected a bunch of rocks for or fish tank here one weekend. Kind of cool considering we may not be able to go back for a while. 

Julianna loved the beach 


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