"The dusty road that's ahead will be my board and my bed..."

There are only 45 minutes left in this year, 2010.

My sweet baby Boy, who has spent his first full year with us, is tucked into his bed after a fun (early) New Year's Eve celebration with his cousins!

It's been an amazing year- the best year of my life! Becoming a mother is the most wonderful, exciting, challenging journey I have ever been on, and I can't wait to see what the new year has in store for me!

I already know how lucky I am. I have a beautiful, funny, charismatic, sassy, healthy son. I have a husband who sees all my light and loves my dark, as our wedding song said. I have the most loyal, hilarious, sympathetic, wonderful friends in the world. I have a close, crazy, noisy, nurturing family. I wish all of them nothing but the best and most outstanding of New Years blessings!

For them, I want to be better. A better wife, a better Mama, a better human. I want to understand my worth and make sure all of the people I love know theirs. I want to set the best example possible for my son.

I somehow feel like I am about to start a road trip, and have miles and miles of winding, uncharted road ahead of me.

2011. Let's ride.

"Home, where my thought's escapin'..."

Oh, my goodness! Not to state the obvious or anything, but it's friggin' cold out! PJ is in bed and I have been up and down trying to get some laundry done. I can't wait until the day comes when I don't have to go outside to get to the washer and dryer!

I finally got outside today after being inside for four straight days! Seriously. Four days. I did manage to have some people come here, so I wasn't completely shut off from society! But between the snow and that coming-down-from-Christmas exhaustion you can only know after a bog holiday has passed, I was more then content to just stay inside, snuggle PJ, chat with Pete, and do housework!

Oh, quit yer laughing! I did do housework! I have been kicking ass and taking names! Kitchen. Clean! Living room. Clean (cluttered with the spoils of PJ's birthday and Christmas, but clean!)! PJ's room. Clean! There's still a lot to be done, but I don't feel like the idea of a clean, orderly house is completely insurmountable! Amazing.

Either way, Pete and I are hoping that 2011 will be our last year of apartment dwelling! For one thing, I'm really just too bitchy to live in this close of a proximity to other people! ;-) Especially in an old house like this one, having three apartments is really like being roommates with the people in the building, and I'm just not good at it! Also, now that we have started a family of our own, and PJ is getting bigger, a two-bedroom apartment just doesn't have the room that we need. While I'll miss the location (we really do live in an awesome spot!) I am praying that the coming year opens a new chapter in our first home!

All we have to do is win the lottery.

"Just a day, just an ordinary day..."

Hello, friends!

Thank you so much for your kind words on this post! Your encouragement really means a lot- I just hope I can live up to it!! My follow-through is not always so great. :-P

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday! Our was full of food, family, and noise- as it should be! PJ still doesn't really get the whole "open presents" thing, but he is having a blast with his new toys! Mama got him some old-school, Steve (not Joe, ew..) Blues Clues episodes on DVD and he's loving it! Dada picked out a cool car toy that's almost as tall as he is! He watches the cars roll down the ramps and laughs his head off! Even better, PJ loved gifting his cousins! The kids did a pollyanna and it was hysterical to see how seriously they took choosing gifts for whichever cousin they drew!

Thanks to the snow, we have been able to come down from Christmas with a soft thud instead of the usual sharp plunge! Pete enjoyed four days off and we enjoyed having him home! The snow kept us all pretty much inside, lounging around. Today we finally got off of our bootys to do some much-needed cleaning and organizing- and to be truthful, it's only because we had my parents, sister, and her husband over for dinner tonight! Had we not had company, we might have continued our post holiday, sloth-like behavior!

Tomorrow, it's back to reality. Pete has to work tomorrow night so he will need to sleep for most of the day. I've been inside for three straight days, so I am considering venturing out! Either way, I hope it's a good day!

"That's what love is for..."

Cousins. Christmas. Love.

Picture taken by Shelly

One moment. Two cameras.
Peter Joseph and Riley Michele.

Picture taken by Ann Marie

A patient, doting big cousin.
A happy little cousin, smooshie-faced with joy.
A Mama whose heart grew three sizes that day.

Hoping that the holiday was just as beautiful for you and yours! 

"Come on, show 'em what you're worth..."

This time of year always goes by in a crazy whirlwind for me! Everything is so busybusybusy that I don't have time to kind of sit back and realize that the year is coming to an end until it's suddenly New Year's Eve! Last year, we were half-crazed with happiness, Beginner Parent-ism, and lack of sleep thanks to a newborn Peter Joseph, Jr! This year, I think I'm feeling a bit more like a normal person! 

Of course, the end of a year and the start of a new one brings about the inevitable practice of New Year's Resolutions. The thought of an entire, shinny new year stretching ahead of you seems like the perfect jumping off point to create a new you, one who cooks/cleans/doesn't bite her nails/is nice to her mother/stops bad habits/insert other neurotic quirk here ____________.

The combination of that and watching What Not To Wear too much has me thinking a lot about my presentation to the world. I've never been what one would call a fashion plate, and I can be lazy about General Upkeep-y things like plucking my eyebrows (which are horrible!). Still, I used to have some semblance of personal style- terrible or not,it was mine and something that I cultivated to make so.

Somewhere along the line, somewhere between the end of high school and now (which is a trillion years, I know, and gives kind of a wide berth to try and pin down a date) I lost whatever that was. I put on a ton of weight. Then took it off and put it back on as so many women are wont to do. I stopped working in an office and no longer had to dress in a professional manner every day, and things took a huge plunge! Jeans, sweatshirts, and Uggs became my uniform. I look at stylish women and want so much to have an effortless approach to style but lose the motivation to actually put in the effort to do so.

Then PJ came along, and any time invested in or concern about myself went right out the window. Jeans, sweatshirt, hair in need of a cut/color and overgrown eyebrows aside, I hold my son and I am enveloped in sunshine! He has become so bright to me that sometimes...okay. Pretty much ALL of time? He's all that I can see. And not only am I unable to see myself, I sometimes can't see my husband, the state of my kitchen, or anything else in the world. To me, PJ makes the world beautiful.

I think most of that is pretty typical new Mama stuff, although someone more practiced at taking care of herself might not let it slide so easily. Being dazzled by my child is hardly a brand-new emotion, and I also don't think it's something that would ever really change. My son is, by far, the best and most amazing thing I have ever done! Hopefully, Pete and I will be blessed with another child and then they both will be the pinnacle of my life's output!

Still, I don't think that I want to lose myself in that process. For one thing, it's not good for my marriage, and Pete already takes a backseat to our child. Again, parents always come second to their children, but my marriage to Pete being healthy, tended to, and fresh can only be positive for the growth of our child(ren).

Perhaps also, being healthy, tended to, and fresh myself can only be a good thing. I love being a mother, and it's the most important thing I have ever done or ever will do, hands down. Still, taking care of myself not only means that I can feel positive about my own self-worth, but it also means that I will be around- and the best version of myself- for PJ as long as possible.

Now, I have no earthly idea how I am going to go about all of this change, but I think the realization of its need is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, with a little imagination, motivation, love and support, I can make it happen.

I don't want to be overweight.

I don't want shrink into the background.

I want to participate in the things that make me, me.

I want to be a good wife, have a healthy marriage and make Pete know how important, how vital he is to me in more then just casual words.

I want to be the best mother possible.

I want to be the best me possible.

Now, if only I had a friggin' idea on how to make this happen!!!!!!

"Oh, the sweetest thing..."

You may need to squint, because this much cuteness straight on could damage the eye.

Rad Bromance

"Well you know that it's going to be alright, when we go shopping..."

Today. Was. Awesome!

I managed to get a ton of holiday shopping done, knocking out gift-getting for 11 people! It was a pretty diverse haul, so there was alot of running around to be done!

Of course, by running around, I mean from my seat in the kitchen, to my fridge, and back again, since I did all of my shopping online! Hee hee! PJ and I never even made it out of our pajamas today! Double awesome! There were tons of deals to be had and free shipping (in plenty of time for Christmas!) to take advantage of, so take advantage I did! I love buying presents but I hatehatehate the malls, shops, and roads this time of year! PJ is getting to that precarious age where he's primed to repeat anything I say, and if his first full sentence is something like


...Pete might divorce me.

Not too long ago, Christmas shopping was a pretty new experience for me! I am Jewish, so there was some shopping for the odd boyfriend every now and then, or gift exchanges with friends, but I had never been a part of full-blown, shopping-for-the-family, start-on-Black-Friday type of holiday madness! Since Pete and I started dating, to the point we are at right now, eight more children have been born (in the circle of kids who are PJ's first cousins or close enough) and many others have been added from the extended family! So thankfully, my shopping skills have grown with each new kid!

Now, after all of that hard work (ahem...) it's time for bed!

"Well, how was I to know there was a party going on?"

Here we go!

All about PJ's 1st Birthday
Pajama Jammy Jam!

This past Saturday we had our big "Family and Friends" celebration of PJ's 1st Birthday! We are blessed to have a large number of both friends and family, so we were surrounded by love and sharing the joy of PJ's 1st year!

I had so much fun making the invites! Actually, okay, it got to be a huge pain, LOL! There were alot of them to go out and they each had lots of little pieces that needed to be put together! So it was a bit tedious, but totally worth it to have handmade invites that featured a paper-doll version of my cute blonde boy in footie pajamas! The insides instructed our guests to get out their favorite pajamas and be ready to bust a move!

Please note the baby
hiding his face!
And, you've figured it out, right? Pajama party? PJ's? The birthday boy is PJ? Ha! You know I have been planning that corny-ness pretty much from the second we found out it was a boy and we were naming him Peter Joseph! I had been dreaming about this party for months!! Mama, Dada, and Birthday Boy even wore totally nerdy super-cute matching pajamas!

Not the face of a happy Boy!
What I didn't count on? The birthday boy getting a yucky virus a few days before the party! He was fever-free the day of the party, but was still just so worn out and miserable! PJ, who is usually friendly, smiley, and silly, only wanted his Mama, and anyone who tried to get near him got a one-armed shove while he buried his face in my shoulder! It really was so sad for him! Thankfully, he's one, so it's not like he's going to remember! I'm just going to hide the pictures where he looks sad and tell him he had a blast! :-)

Even thought the poor Birthday Baby had a terrible time, the guests seemed to have a bast! There were many, many pajama-ed children flying about, dancing to the music (Teen Nick stars = Elton John for the born-in-the-2000's set!), wearing glow jewelry, blowing bubbles, and helping themselves to Froot Loops, Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms, and other yummy breakfast treats from the cereal bar! Between the cereal, the candy, the cake, and the soda, these kids were about 20 miles high on sugar! I am not 100% sure all of their parents are still talking to me! :-)

The grown-ups seemed to be content to sit at the blue, yellow, and white draped tables, chatting and perusing the photo albums filled with pictures of PJ that were out (self-indulgent much, Brie???). There was lots of yummy, comforty, good-to-eat-in-pajamas food like meatballs, baked ziti, and pizza! Pete and I had a ton of help with the food and we were so thankful for it!

My awesome sister Marla was nice enough to gift us with PJ's birthday cake (that we was too miserable to taste, poor baby!). The cake was amazing! Made by Sweet Treats by Jen, it was based on the invitations, and the attention to detail was so cool! The squares on the sides matched the pattern on the pajamas the paper-doll-PJ was wearing on the invite! A little Elmo- a PJ favorite- was clutched in the cake PJ's hand, and an open butt-flap revealed some PJ hiney!! The kids, for reasons still completely a mystery to me, kept fighting over who was going to get the slice with PJ's butt hanging out! And how cool is this- the cake is even on the Sweet Treats by Jen website! PJ's fondant butt-crack is famous!!!

Aside from all of that? The party pretty much looked like this:

...and this...

...and a lot like this...

"What's the matter, Mary Jane? Had a hard day?"

Sooooooo tired!

I start alot of my blog entries like that, don't I? It's terrible- maybe this sweet girl can help me get inspired to move my keester (yeah, I said keester) a bit so I can start to have more energy!

Since I, as of right now, just don't have energy, I will have to blog more extensively about PJ's birthday party tomorrow! It will be chock-full of awesome details like:

  • a sick, clingy-to-his-mama birthday boy!
  • many, many children hopped up on sugar
  • lots of friends and family
  • many, many children hopped up on sugar!
  • tons of love and happiness
  • loads of dancing, playing and running around
and, of course
  • many, many children hopped up on sugar!

Despite alot of my anal carefully planned details all falling apart due to poor PJ not feeling well and being in my arms the whole time (and carrying 20+ lbs for three hours is hard- yet another good reason for me to get in shape!), it really was a good time and I can't wait to share it with everyone!

For now, it's time to tuck myself into bed and do some window shopping for family gifts in my iPod! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!!

PS- Ugh, did anyone else watch Sarah Palin's Alaska tonight and see the Kate + 8 folks? Kate and her whining made me want to club baby seals. Or see her be eaten by a baby seal. Whatever. We all know that I lovelovelove my garbage television shows, but really? I have had enough of that Whining Blonde Psycho and her pack of kids. There. I said it.

Now, and I mean it this time...goodnight, friends!

"When you put your arms around me, I get a fever that's so hard to bear..."

If you could read the drafts of my blog, you'd see that this week, I started about 4 entries with the sentence "I am so tired..." but then I would get distracted by the television and that was the end of that.

So there you go. My week so far.

It really hasn't been as bad as all of that- there's been some relaxing time with my son and husband, TONS of awesome TV to watch (The Sing-Off and Glee!) , and time at my favorite coffee haunt with some great friends and my usual peppermint mocha coffee with whip and a bagel!

Still, PJ has been sleeping terribly and has added a fever to his repertoire- it had finally broken just before I put him to bed tonight and I am really, really praying that it stays that way because he was miserable today! If he wasn't in my arms, he was crying, so needless to say he spent the majority of the day snuggled with me watching Sesame Street!

And the biggest, nerdiest secret? I didn't even mind! PJ is so active and such a man on the move that he doesn't always want to snuggle, and Sesame Street is really funny! It just sucked that PJ was feeling so terribly!

The only fail is that I had planned on getting the rest of what I need for PJ's birthday party! So there will be a lot of scrambling around tomorrow trying to get things done, but as long as PJ is healthy enough for his 1st birthday party, that's all that matters! I am so, so excited to have all of the people I love together to celebrate PJ's 1st year!


In other very exciting news, my cousin Matthew and his sweet wife Colleen welcomed their daughter Braelyn Kathleen into the world yesterday! She is the cutest thing ever and the spitting image of her Daddy! Matt sounds like he's over the moon and I am so happy for them! Matt and I are a week apart in age and grew up together, and we became parents almost exactly one year apart! Matt is even PJ's Jewish Godfather and stood up for him at his naming! I know how happy I have been this past year, my first as a mama, and I am so, so excited for Matt and Colleen to experience the same thing! From what I can tell, they are well on their way!

It's time for me to be on my way to the kitchen to clean up and then find my way to bed! I pray that a good night's sleep is ahead for PJ and I!

Good night!

"Just let me hold you..."

Even a year later, I still lovelovelove PJ's bedroom!

This is the chair.
I remember planning it all out, curled up in our armchair with one hand on my belly and the other searching away on my laptop for the perfect paint color, furniture, decor.

I poured over websites like Etsy and Ikea and did searches for ideas. I had settled on an "Owl" theme and had exactly what I wanted in my head- I just needed to somehow get it onto the walls!

I had found the perfect starting piece- an owl on a branch wall decal. It was looking on Etsy for some ideas and stumbled upon the little dude sitting on a branch and centered my whole idea for the nursery around it!

This is the owl.
Soon after, I found the perfect furniture at Ikea- clean and organic-looking. Simple and uncluttered. Even better, it was safe (as per Consumer Reports!) and inexpensive. I think the entire room ended up being about $750.  There was plenty of room in the drawers for teeny baby clothes; loads of room on the shelves for books, and in the middle, the changing table, where my newborn son would lie for countless diaper changes!

As the big pieces fell into place, so did the little pieces. We painted the walls a creamy, glowy golden color.

There was a handmade owl mobile over the crib.

The Etsy store that made the owl that inspired me created this gorgeous tree for PJ! 

His name was over the crib, and a soothing-sounds lamb was hung on a crib rail. 

And the changing table that was made to hold a plump baby butt was ready!

It was the nursery I had dreamed of and when we welcomed PJ home, it was like there was no other baby in the world it could have been made for! Over this first year, we have filled the drawers with tons of clothes, and switched out sizes at an alarming rate! We played on the floor, under that tree. There were countless diapers changed upon that changing table.

Lately, that sweet, soft changing table had become an Elevated Ledge of Death! The more mobile PJ got and the stronger he became, the more difficult it was to safely change him at his table. Today, for his own safety, Pete and I decided that the table needs to be off limits, and we took the attachment off of the dresser.

I'm sure it must sound silly, but without the little table attachment, the room looks completely different! The shelves are still filled with books, the top of his wall unit lined with stuffed animals. Our rocker is still in a corner, and his toys sit in baskets along the wall. Owls peep out of random nooks and the walls are still glowy when the sun comes through the windows. But that changing table being gone signifies that gone with it is the fragile, tiny little babe whose every diaper I fretted over ("Is he wetting enough?" "Is that enough poop?" "Is that too much poop?" "Does his booty look red?").

In his place, in the room that's largely the same, is a bright, handsome, funny, active, noisy 1 year old that I still rock in that rocking chair!

It's a pretty good trade. ;-)

all pictures (except the owl decal) are by the amazingly lovely and talented michelle bottalico

"So how can I help but to shout and rejoice?"

I can't believe it's already Friday night- this week went by so fast! But here we are, PJ tucked into his bed and a Jersey Shore marathon on the TV for Mama!

Don't judge.

We had a fun Friday that started with a quick trip to the Garden State Discovery Museum with our buddies, followed by a nice, long afternoon nap for Mama, Dada, and Baby Boy! Family naps are wonderful! After that, it was off to Applebees with PJ to meet up with my sister Marla! Applebees is our favorite haunt- it's even where we were when I told Marla I was pregnant with PJ! A friend of hers works there (going to the Deptford Applebees? Ask for Brian S.!) and we always sit at one of his tables, so it's always a good time!

There is less then a month left in 2010 but so much still to do- PJ's big birthday party, parties for friends, my sisterIL Shelly's birthday and pollyanna party, and of course, Christmas and New Years Eve! Last year, PJ was a teeny, brand-new newborn and I was kind of spazzed out during the holidays! Keeping the Newborn Alive kind of blotted out any other holiday activity for me! This year, I can watch PJ react to his cousins and family, actually enjoy his gifts (last year I insisted he have wrapped gifts and really? He didn't give two shits. He just started at us like he still wasn't sure who we were!) and not be a nervous freak Nelly when people want to hold him!

I want to enjoy every single second of this holiday season, because when it's over it means that my first full year as a first-time mother is coming to an end! It's been the most amazing time of my life and I want to savor this last bit before our new adventures begin!

"So when you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree..."

Jewish Baby Action Shot!
It's the first night of Hanukkah!

Last year, PJ was only a week or two old, and Hanukkah went by in a sleep-deprived haze! I don't think we lit the menorah once, and if we had, we would have likely burned down the house in our confusion!

This year, PJ is one (ONE!!!) and even though he still has no idea what's going on, we lit the candles as a family for the first time ever! PJ played with all of the Hanukkah toys his Bubbie got him last year and with the special Hanukkah Little People set his Aunt Jen gave him at his baby naming!

The day even started out well with a visit with some favorites for coffee, pizza, and grown-up conversation (which I had been starving for with Pete working for two days!). PJ played with his buddy E and laughed his head off! It makes his mama so happy to see PJ surrounded by so much fun! This afternoon, my favorite mother's helper Gabby came over to play with PJ while Pete and I got some stuff done around the house! PJ had a blast and I could hear him laughing hysterically the whole time! It was a total win.

After a much-needed bath for PJ (the kid has no table manners!!) we gathered as a little family for the very first time and lit the candles for the first night of Hanukkah! It was a brief but sweet moment, and I can't wait until PJ is old enough to really partcipate!