Don’t Chew on Jesus, The Joys of Stock Photography, and Other Reasons to be Grateful

2015 was a difficult year. I suffered more than one loved one having passed, I had terrible separation anxiety from Giacomo, my father had a serious health scare, and the year ended with a such devastating loss for my young niece. I am still too upset over some of these to really talk about them openly. I realized though, that these tragedies really didn’t define the whole year. A lot of them happened so quickly together and at the very end of the year that they overwhelmed my memories of 2015. The reality is that 2015, like most years of our lives, had its ups and downs. It was actually a wonderful year. We got to see Giacomo grow and learn (I am only beginning to understand how wonderful it is to be his mom), we celebrated an the amazing birthday of my beautiful cousin (a milestone many did not think she would make), we took an amazing vacation, and we spent a lot of time with family and friends making beautiful memories. There are some things that will never have a bright side, like the loss of a child or a dear friend, but if I never stopped to appreciate my son’s smile, my nieces and nephew’s humor, or the memory of a friend’s laughter, I would be in a much darker place.
All the ups and downs of the year made me realize it was time for me to make a change. I saw this quote, and realized how completely  true it was.
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So I am ready for a new chapter. I decided I want to focus more on my teaching. I want to do something that empowers and helps people, and at this point in my life the best way I can is through teaching. Today was my last day at my marketing job. I was everything at once. Scared, nervous, happy, and excited. This was not a decision I took lightly and it was not easily made. It’s done now and I can’t help but think I did the right thing.
When I realized that I forgot the joy of my year, I decided to make another change, a new resolution. I hope it will remind me to appreciate all I have been blessed with throughout the year. I got the idea here. The point is to document something you are grateful for every day. Obviously, we are all grateful for our family, our home, our opportunities, but for me the point here is to try and see the little things. For example, I am grateful for over hearing conversations with a one year old “We don’t chew on Jesus.” (He was actually chewing on St. Jude, but whatever).
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Don’t chew on Jesus

Today, on my last day of work, I was grateful for stock photography. I left this gem in my drawer for the next worker to find. I only wish  I could be there to see the reaction.
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Rawr

It’s not something I plan on publicly sharing, but I still encourage everyone to try this exercise. I write my private journal with Penzu, and I made a separate journal just for my once a day grateful posts. Even if a daily journal is too much, try a regular journal (it doesn’t even have to be a “grateful” one). I hope you all have a wonderful year, and I hope I can make you smile at least once this year!

Grinch Ornaments for Giacomo’s 1st Birthday

It’s crazy to believe a whole year has gone by since my Mr. Man came into the world. I always say that the day he was born it felt like an explosion, that my heart grew 3 sizes that day like the Grinch. So for his first birthday, we had a Grinch themed party. Giacomo had such fun playing with his cousins, family, and friends.

Jack s party 2

I would have just had pizza and subs, but my sisters and mom took over and insisted on cooking a feast of antipasto salad (Truffula Salad), chicken cutlets (Roast Beast), sausage and peppers, kielbasa, pierogies, baked beans, pasta, potatoes and peas (Who Hash), and a 6 foot sub.  For I took over and went crazy.I couldn’t have done any of this without their help. I definately have the best family!

Jack s party 3

For dessert nieces made chocolate dipped marshmallows and decorated sugar cookies, while I went nuts making cupcakes, chocolate pretzels, Rolo pretzels, Oreo balls, pumpkin cheesecake, Rice Krispie Treats,  a regular cake and a smash cake for Jack, and Who Pudding. The kids even enjoyed a Hot Cocoa bar.

Jack s party 4

To thank everyone for celebrating, I made Christmas ornaments of the Grinch and his heart.

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For the Grinch ornaments, I swirled green paint inside the ornaments and left them upside down to dry. After two days I had to recoat. I let them dry about a week before adding the Grinch face.

Grinch

I layered yellow vinyl over black vinyl cuts for the ornament. Using the Cricut Explore, I cut the Grinch face by uploading  as a simple image. (I uploaded it twice, once for the face and once for the eyes). grinch clipart

I’ve made glitter ornaments with Glitter-It in the past, but I finally decided to try the mop & Glo method I’ve seen on craft sites and Pinterest. It does work, and it’s super quick! Just swirl the M&G in the ornament, drain out the excess, add in glitter, shake it up to coat, and tap out the extra glitter. Glitter-It works great, but so does M&G, and the giant bottle is way cheaper.

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I feel like the heart ornaments went with my whole year’s theme. All year I’ve been writing about the joys of the heart as well as heartache. The year started with my heart growing with Jack’s birth, and since then I’ve written about the joys of being a mom, the heartache of leaving baby, The Mighty Quinn’s Heart surgery, my dad’s heart attack, and now again, the joys of being a Mom.

Jack s party 1

I was driving home from the party, I was thinking how it was the first time I did something really “Mom,” and it was the first time I felt like Mom. Feeling like mom is subtly different than feeling like a mother or a mommy, and I’m not sure how to explain it, but giving my son a fun birthday made me feel like a Mom, and I loved it.

Know ALL the signs of a heart attack (Not just the typical signs)

This Thanksgiving, I didn’t realize how thankful I really would be for my family. I was prepared to feel blessed for my new baby, but not prepared for the overwhelming relief and thanks that my father is still alive today. The day after Thanksgiving, my father suffered a massive heart attack. He had to be airlifted to Deborah Heart & Lung Center for an emergency procedure, but is now resting and feeling better.

My dad did not have typical heart attack symptoms, so I want to spread as much awareness as I can about what to look for if you may be at risk for a heart attack.

I took this from the American Heart Association’s website. You can also get information here.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the “movie heart attack,” where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. 
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. 
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

My dad did not have the “movie heart attack.” He had the other, sneaky kind. I wanted to share my dad’s story of atypical symptoms because if he would have ignored how he felt, he would not be here today. My was driving himself into work when he started having jaw pain. He tried to ignore his symptoms thinking it was a bad toothache, but he began to feel weak and started sweating profusely. Assuming he had an infection and a fever, he called out of work en route, but the person on the other line recognized the symptoms and told him to get to a hospital.

Being my dad, and not the average person, he drove himself to the hospital, parked a quarter mile away, and walked into the emergency room while having a heart attack. While in the ER, he suffered another attack, worse than the first, and the decision to transfer him was made. All the while, my dad was making jokes, teasing my mom, and laughing. Even now he thinks more about making everyone smile instead of worrying about him.

The doctor told him that if he would have just went home and gone to sleep, he would not have woken up. If he didn’t talk to that particular person when calling out, who knew jaw pain and sweating was a sign of a heart attack, I would not have my father today. He had two stents put in, and will have another in a few weeks. In the meantime, he’s trying his best not to be over active and just resting.

My post-Thanksgiving blog was supposed to be about apple pies and corn cake, with a nod to how thankful I am for my family. It is amazing how life can completely change in an instant. One second you are in your p.j.’s writing a blog while texting funny memes to your sister, and the next second you’re throwing on whatever clothes you can find so you can get to the hospital in time to see your father before he is airlifted to Deborah Heart and Lung for an emergency procedure.

We’ve all heard it before, we’ve lived through it, we’ve learned, but once the dust settles we will always forget that our lives are fragile.  I am so thankful that my dad called that particular person, that he had the sense to go to the hospital instead of to his comfortable bed, that he is alive. We all feel so touched by the outpouring of support and prayers so many people have given us. Thank you all so much! Be thankful and be blessed, and kiss all your loved ones!

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Our Halloween in Florida

Monsters Inc for Halloween on the road.

Monsters Inc for Halloween on the road.

Myla's Surprise Party

We gave Myla a surprise party, and oh she was so cute! She really was surprised.

It’s just 2 weeks after Halloween, but if you walk into any store you’d think Christmas is next week. I even got sucked in buying a Christmas book for Jack and catching myself planning Christmas decorations. So, I’d like to regress and talk about Halloween, my vacation, and how Christmas can wait so it doesn’t get stale by December 25!

Jack, Sally, and Zero

After driving down to Florida (about 18 hours), we started the vacation by going to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. It was a blast. Adults are allowed to dress up and the park is open until midnight.

Splash Mountain in Costume

Since most people crash around 10, the park became pretty empty for the last 2 hours. We even met the Seven Dwarfs, a very rare occasion that only happens on Halloween and Christmas.

The Rare Seven Dwarfs!

We found out that the secret to going to Disney’s Not-So-Scray Halloween party is to go the day after Halloween. That way, we still trick-or-treated, there was (I think) less of a crowd, and the tickets to the party were less expensive

We all dressed up as characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. For the most part, I made the costumes. My favorites were The Mayor (Jenna), The Boogieman (Olivia), and Dr. Finkelstein (my mom, though she didn’t take many pictures in the wheelchair).

Boogieman & Mayor Dr. Finklesforth & Ax Head

The three little ones were Lock, Shock, and Barrel, my dad was the character with the ax in his head (We gave him the most minimal costume), and Angelina was the demented vampire toy. Jack was Zero, but it was so hot he could only wear his hat in the park. When I post how-tos, I’ll post the whole of all the costumes.

Happy Halloween!

Matt was Jack Skellington and I was Sally, and they were the only costumes I didn’t make. I bought my dress at Hot Topic rather than a costume store. It was the same price, much more comfortable, and the pattern went around the whole dress, not just the front like the costumes. The most home made thing I did for my costume was my makeup and nails.

Sally's Dress Nails

We went to all the other Disney parks and Universal Islands of Adventure, and met some celebrities. Did you know Mickey Mouse TALKS when you meet him in Magic Kingdom!? I was starstruck!

Mickey Mouse

Then we finally crashed at the beach in Daytona for a few days. There was a heat wave our whole vacation, so it was about 100 degrees, but by the beach, the breeze felt awesome.

We needed some beach time!

On the way home, we spent the day in Charleston, South Carolina and spent the night in “The South’s Most Haunted Hotel,” Charleston Embassy Suites. We didn’t witness any ghosts, but there were some noises and creaks, and all the drawers in one of the dressers were inexplicably open (Ok, so maybe Giacomo opened them when I wasn’t looking, but that’s not fun.)

Haunted Hotel

Now that I’m home, I am in full end-of-year mode. I’m playing around with some recipes for Thanksgiving, and I’m starting to get ready for Giacomo’s first birthday! I can’t believe a year is almost here! I’m so excited to give him a fun birthday, even if he won’t remember it.

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