Holiday Happenings 2014

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Lights at the Zoo

We were THRILLED to be able to make it to the Lights at the Lehigh Valley Zoo – WOW, it was just so pretty! I was shocked and pleasantly surprised at how beautiful they made everything look, and they had some fun things for the kids to do as well. Brody loved seeing Santa’s reindeer and SANTA of course, while Sadie wouldn’t sit on his lap unless I did with her – awesome. We made smores, watched some movie clips projected on the barn, met Elsa (Whom Brody dubbed as his girlfriend) and danced in her magical FROZEN land, build “igloos” from foam blocks, met the Grinch and had a snowball fight with him (Sadie was very afraid of the GRINCH!), and took a photo opt in the GIANT snow globe. We will definitely be back next year for this beautiful, magical, experience!

Polar Express

This was the first time we were actually able to score tickets for the polar express and I was pumped lol! I have tried every year, but they are always sold out in a second – so when I Was able to stalk the website and snatch them up I was in my glory! The kids wore their matching PJ’s and were so excited – honestly, I have never seen them so thrilled about the train. We were the first in line, which was great because we were able to sit right up front and see all of the action from the start. When the train arrived I couldn’t keep my two crazy kids from squealing – it was so adorable. After we were seated we received our cookie and hot chocolate, which, if you know my kids, you know this was RIGHT up their ally. Then the jugglers came down the aisle, followed by Santa, a musician, and of course, we ended the train ride with some popcorn. Both of my kids LOVED dancing in the aisle to the music, they were, naturally, the only two dancing up a storm. I swear they just love to dance. I’m hopeful we can get tickets again next year, even if that means, staying up to stalk the website again!

Gingerbread/Cookie making

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without making gingerbread houses and cookies! Every year I make well over 1000 cookies, and this year, Brody and Sadie enjoyed helping me in several of the steps. Really, they just liked eating the warm cookies after every batch haha! Our gingerbread houses were what you would expect from a 5 and 2 year old, and they really just liked eating the candy more than decorating the houses, but hey, all four houses got put together and decorated and didn’t even fall apart!

Brody’s Christmas Concert

Brody’s had his Christmas concert on his last day of classes before his LOOOONNNGGGG break! It was soooo cute. They reenacted Twas the Night Before Christmas, in which Brody played Donner the reindeer. He was as I would have imagined, a COMPLETE ham. Once they started signing their songs, it was the funniest thing to see him up there totally hamming it up! He was singing, dancing, laughing, giving me the thumbs up, winking at me etc… if this child doesn’t become an actor I’ll be shocked. After the concert, Santa arrived and Brody, again, got to sit on his lap and ask for his blue shiny drum set!

Christmas Eve

Each year we go to my parent’s house Christmas Eve to celebrate with my family. It’s always a fun time filled with LOTS of food, presents, and LOUD happy children haha!! My mom, dad and sister made an amazing meal of shrimp scampi, chicken parm, fish, etc…OMG the food was so delicious! I brought my cookie tray and my sister made her cheesecake – we were definitely stuffed after that meal! The kids got WAYYYY too much stuff as usual! Brody received his Leap TV game system and Sadie loved her Baby Alive (that actually pees – I don’t understand why I’m not changing another diaper in the house haha!!) Sadie also got her doll swing/highchair from my sister and an adorable Minnie Mouse outfit from my brother and Nikkie. Brody received his Volcano set (yes he asked for a volcano) from my sister and a paw patrol vehicle from Uncle Rob and AUnt Nikkie!  My parent’s bought me a coffee/hot water maker since I’m obsessed with tea and Jeremy is obsessed with coffee! I will always have hot water at my disposal now 🙂

Christmas Day 

This Christmas was very special to me – there were many times I worried I wouldn’t’ get to see another holiday with my babies. I relished in their excitement, cherished their spirit, and was grateful for the magic! Strangely, both kids woke up at almost exactly the same time, so we were able to rush downstairs to see their new presents. Brody quickly spotted his new Lego table and they both SCREAMED and ran over to it and began playing on it immediately! Uncle Chris put together an awesome Lego turtle submarine which Brody hasn’t stopped playing with! We let them play with that for a while and finally I reminded Brody he hadn’t seen the Christmas tree yet! They both ran downstairs and Brody SCREAMED! He said, “MOMMY – LOOK AT WHAT SANTA DID!!!!!!” Meaning…look at my BLUE SHINY DRUMSET! Yep, both he and Sadie received drum sets from Santa and they were put together and ready for them to rock out! They both ran over and started playing their drums immediately!! They played a concert for us for about 10 minutes and then again, remembered there were more presents. Brody was methodical in the way he opened them all up. He would open them, look at it, show me and Daddy, and then stack them up in piles. Sadie was just happy with her pretend makeup set and really could have cared less about anything else. We decided to color code their gifts to make it easier for them to find them. So Brody had the blue snowman wrapping paper and Sadie had the silver snowman wrapping paper. Their combined gifts had multi colored snowmen. This was the best idea YET!! There was no worrying about who was opening up what and they were both able to find their presents without any problems!! They both received their Santa sacks as well which were filled with the presents they specially asked Santa for (minus the drum sets) So far, Brody’s favorite presents have been his Lego Table, monster jam tickets (he talks about this every two minutes!), his drum set, his Big Hero 6 action figures, and his Squiz building toys. Sadie ADORES her play makeup and has been putting it on me, Daddy, Brody and anyone else who she can get to wear it! She also loved her bath baby and her twin babies she can push in her new baby doll swing. I thought I was done with all of the baby items, but apparently when you have a girl you need them back again, so now I have baby doll sized swings, strollers, cribs, bath tubs etc… but it’s definitely fun and SO different from the Dinosaurs/Cars I’m used to playing with!

After their naps we went to my father-in-laws where the kids (and us) were YET AGAIN spoiled!! They had almost as much stuff there as they did here! It was insane!! Brody loved his new Dinosaur dictionary set and Sadie realllllyyyyy loved her new magna doodle! Uncle Chris bought Sadie some adorable outfits and Brody still has one special present (an Arizona Cardinals jersey) to open with Uncle Chris! He’s going to flip out! We are so grateful and thankful of all of our amazing family who spoil our kiddos constantly! They need for nothing, and they are so blessed!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OF OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS!

A letter to my Brody on the night before kindergarten….

To my Brody,

Today is August 30th, 2015 – next week, on September 6th, you will be SIX YEARS OLD! I can not believe that you are going to be six – but more astoundingly, I can not believe you are entering kindergarten… TOMORROW! Weren’t you just born? Didn’t you just learn to walk? Weren’t we just spending day in and day out playing with your Thomas the train collection and watching your favorite movie, Cars? Didn’t you just learn how to write your name, read a book, and draw a picture? And now, here you are, snuggling with your pokemon stuffed Squirtle toy Daddy and I bought for you as a “going to school gift”, and I can’t help but to still see my baby not this “big boy” kindergartner…

I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday! The relief it felt when you finally came out after over 24 hours of labor, the announcement of “IT’S A BOY” (even though I knew deep down you were!), the elation of holding you in my arms for the first time – the way you smelled, the way your little fingers grasped around my finger, the way you snorted when you were hungry or sleeping… We were overjoyed to finally be parents to such an adorable little boy. I thought I knew then what it meant to love you, but it was only the beginning.

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Our first year together was full of MANY ups and downs. Lets be honest, daddy and I had no idea what we were doing. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with you as a full time mommy that year, but boy, did I not have a clue what I was in for. From the long days (and even longer nights) of you nursing around the clock, the constant need to be awake and never sleep, the crying (oh so much crying) and the emotional roller coaster of learning how to be your mom. But, little boy, there are so many things we experienced together that first year that I will never forget – your first smile, your first belly laugh (and you still have the best belly laugh to this day), the first time you crawled to try to reach my cell phone, the first time you walked at only 9 months old, your first delightful taste of your favorite food – avocado, your bath time (which you absolutely loved), dancing to “our song” (I’m alive by Dave Matthews/Kenny Chesney), listening to the same song over and over to calm you down during car rides, playing with your favorite toy rolling drum (that thing was indestructible), watching you laugh at daddy when he would come home from work, going to your first swim lesson, playing at Little Gym, rocking/nursing you to sleep… the list goes on and on. That first year was the most life changing year of my life, and I thank you for introducing me to motherhood…

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Our second year found us BLESSED, again, to be together! I was able to stay home from teaching yet another year, and I can honestly say, that year number two was probably one of my favorite years together to date. You grew and you grew every single day, and you never ceased to amaze me! I loved our days spent doing crazy toddler crafts (remember the noodles in the bathtub!), playing with puzzles, reading books, and playing with toys – lots and lots of toys. You’ve always loved toys (you still do to this day!) I relished in your love of learning – how before you were even 12 months you were able to decipher every shape in your puzzle, even the trapezoid! I was amazed at how, by 15 months, you were able to recognize words in books, on flash cards etc… you impressed every one with your ability to read words at such a young age. Aside from being a baby genius (yes, I said it, but I’m your mom and I’m allowed to think this), you were just in incredibly HAPPPY and PLEASANT toddler! You were always busy, that’s for sure, but no matter what you were doing you were always happy! You seldom had a tantrum, in fact, I can’t even remember you having any other than during some of your swim lessons (you had a love/hate relationship with that class!) We did a lot together – just you and me kid (I would always say that to you!) From swim class, story time, music class, little gym, park trips, toddler crafts, pushing cars, going for walks, exploring the creek, driving in your cozy coupe… these were the days I loved and will cherish these memories forever…

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Our third year, sadly, I had to return to work, BUT you really loved going to school. I remember the first time I ever had to drop you off at daycare – I left the parking lot and cried so bad I had to pull over because I couldn’t drive through the tears. You were crying for me so badly that the teachers had to pry your little 2 year old death grip off of me just so I could leave. That was a bad time, but I knew I had to get you used to going to school…eventually, you did and boy did you GROW AND FLOURISH. I loved picking you up from school and having you run to me and give me a great big hug. You didn’t know it then, but knowing that you were going to do this at the end of my long day of teaching helped me get through every single day. I loved talking to your teachers and hearing them tell me that they were SHOCKED that you could read the days of the week or the weather during the morning circle time routine. I tried to explain to them that you could “read” words, but I know I sounded crazy saying that my 2 year old could actually read. I remember when they told me that you were ready to be potty trained at not even 2 and a half and the first day I took you to school in big boy undies I called from work every hour to check in on you. You never once had an accident… again, you never ceased to amaze me! When you were about 2.5 we found out we were going to have another baby and as excited as I was to welcome another little one into our family, part of me was sad that you wouldn’t be our only one anymore. I knew our time as just the 3 of us was coming to an end and daddy and I spent as much time with just you as we could until….SADIE CAME!

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Our 4th year together began with me being VERY VERY PREGNANT! I did have to return to work, which meant you had to go to daycare full time for a few weeks until I was able to go on maternity leave. I was excited (and exhausted) but I loved having you home with me before Sadie was born – those two weeks of just you and me time before she arrived were amazing. We would spend HOURS reading piles of books, crafting, and playing in the bath (your favorite thing to do!). It was hard, but I managed to go for walks with you on your orange balance bike- thank you for not going as fast as you could so I could keep up with you! The day I went to the hospital to get induced with Sadie, I knew it was the end of an era, sort of like how I feel tonight, but I was excited to see how you would step up to your new role as big brother. I will never forget the first time you met Sadie – coming to the hospital sporting your “BIG BROTHER” shirt proudly! You couldn’t wait to see your sister and you were even more excited to see the gift she “bought” you (your bash, dash and ferdinand Thomas the Train toys). Watching you hold your sister for the first time was simply magical – there  you were, my 3 year old baby boy, now a big brother to a little sister. What an amazing moment that was. Bringing Sadie home and suddenly having a toddler and a newborn definitely was a lot of work, but you were such a good little boy and never had a hard time adjusting. You played next to me nicely while I nursed your sister, you played with stickers while I got her changed, you would bring her a binky when she was crying, and the only way she would stop crying in the car was if you sang her “You are my sunshine”. You were a natural big brother! I loved when Sadie would nap and we would get our one on one time. We both needed that time – we would have dance parties, draw, play the “Hi” game with your cars, and watch a movie or TV show together. I will admit, we didn’t get to spend as much one on one time together anymore, and as much as that pained me, seeing you with your little sister made it all worth it!

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Our fifth year together brought a move to a new home, your sister becoming a crazy toddler, some health scares for mommy, and a new sense of love and appreciation for the word “FAMILY”. You loved our new house…and you would do performances for us saying “FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE NEW HOUSE…” You loved playing outside in our new backyard, but especially loved ninja turtles this year – they were your thing for sure! You also started to ride a bike with training wheels well enough to go on bike rides together, and you really loved just running around and being outside. You switched from one pre school to another right around the corner from our new house, and your flourished! I was worried that it would be a scary transition for you since you were in your old school for over 2 years, but again, you never ceased to amaze me and happily entered your first day at your new preschool like you had gone there for years! You really loved your new school and your new friends, particularly your “bro” Ethan. I noticed a huge change in your knowledge this year and also your behavior. You were listening so much more and you were starting to leave those “toddler” antics behind. I loved going on our mommy/Brody dates – it was and continues to be something I look forward to often. I also enjoyed watching your relationship grow with daddy – your best buddy. Sadie definitely started to push your buttons this year…knocking down your lego creations, stealing your ninja turtles, or screaming for your iPad, but all in all – you coped well with her constant need to be in your “things.” You were such  big boy through all of the health issues I endured that year…and you and your sister were the MAIN reason I was able to push through everything – all I wanted to do was see you guys and be here for you through every milestone…

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Our sixth year was interesting to say the least…You were FIVE already and most 5 year olds are already in kindergarten, but since you missed the cut off by just 5 days, you had a whole year left of preschool. I will admit at first I really wanted you to go to school, but looking back at how much you have grown and changed over this past year, I am certain that keeping you in preschool that extra year was the right decision. I can’t even list all the ways you have changed in just one year – from learning to ride your bike without training wheels shortly after your 5th birthday, learning to write effortlessly, coloring and drawing full pictures, reading entire books, learning to play a few video games, playing soccer, baseball, and football, learning to tell time, count to hundreds, build amazing lego creations, and overall becoming much more independent. Sometimes it’s hard for me to let you do things – even just letting you take a shower by yourself or set up your movie time alone are things I used to do FOR you and now, you insist on doing them by yourself. You are growing up every single day and it’s sad, exciting, and scary all at the same time. I love the little boy you have grown up to be thus far and I know you will do great things in your next year (and life!)…

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There is so much I’m going to miss about not having you here with me day in and day out… I will miss our lazy mornings of having battles, building legos, coloring, and snuggling. I will miss long talks at breakfast because we had nowhere to go. I will miss playing the mornings away outside whether it meant jumping in the trampoline, playing on your scooter, drawing with chalk, swinging, sliding, racing or riding! I will miss rainy days where it was ok to watch just a little too much TV together. I will miss having you here to help entertain Sadie while I prepared breakfast or lunch. I will miss picking you up from pre school and having you excitedly run into my arms and jabber on and on about your day. I will miss our “Panera Fridays” that we have done from the past two years…we all look forward to that! I will miss the 30 minutes I had with JUST YOU after Sadie would go down for her nap and right before you would go down for yours – that 30 minutes was often the highlight of my day. I will miss you asking me to give you a massage at any random time of the day. I will miss hearing you laugh, giggle, yell, act goofy and sing. I will miss our morning dance parties in the kitchen listening to “FIRST QUEEN!” I will, ultimately, miss you…

So goodnight sweet newborn, goodnight active toddler, goodnight funny preschooler, goodnight adventurous little boy – for tomorrow you will embark on a new, exciting journey — one where I will not be there to wipe your boogies, tie your shoe, or open your cheese stick — one where I hope you use your manners I’ve instilled in your day in and day out– one where I pray you make new friends and continue to be the sweet boy I know you are — one where I know you will thrive academically and am excited to see where your academic career leads you — one where you will no longer be just my little boy, but my big kindergartner! I look forward to walking you to the bus stop tomorrow and watching you wave good -bye to me as you finally get on the school bus you have watched stop below our driveway for the past two years! Now it’s your turn my boy-  it’s your turn to learn, to grow, to spread those wings and fly, but please always know that you will forever be my little boy and the tears you are going to see me shed are not tears of sadness, but tears that come from the overwhelming joy you have brought to me over the past 6 years…

Good night my kindergartner- Mommy and Daddy love you!

One year….

I know it’s been a VERY long time since I wrote a blog- don’t get me wrong, I have thought about it often – I have missed posting about holidays, Sadie’s first dance class, Brody’s pre-school graduation etc… and I plan on writing about them for sure, but I couldn’t bring myself to come on here because every time I did, I was DRAWN to read my cancer/chemo blogs! Reading them made it so real again, and I have been trying so desperately to move on from everything over the past year that even just reading a simple blog post made me feel like I was right back in the middle of “hell”… With that being said, I do feel as though I should write a quick little blog since today is exactly ONE YEAR since I was diagnosed with cancer…

Not all anniversaries are good ones – we all know that! We celebrate our wedding anniversary, the days our children were born – you remember the date you first started dating your husband or maybe even the date of your first kiss! These are all dates that we look upon and remember with a nostalgic smile and reminisce of those amazing memories. However, there are also other dates we remember that we would, in turn, like to forget – perhaps the date of the passing of a loved one, a break up, or for me, a cancer diagnosis! June 2nd will forever be changed for me – with this date will always come a semblance of fear, worry, agony, and pain. Although it’s been a year I remember it like it was yesterday – the pain, the worry, the heartache, the fear…and inevitably, the CANCER. Although it’s only been a year (and what a CRAZY year it’s been) I’m happy to say that things are becoming more “normal” these days….

Currently, I am 6 months post chemo and my 6 month cancer scan and blood work has come back CLEAN – so I’m still in remission THANK GOODNESS! My hair is growing back and I recently dyed it blonde. My “cancer” pains from surgeries, stents etc… have dissipated (or I’ve just learned to live with them) for the most past. My daily routine is back to normal – mom, wife, MOM, business owner, MOM!  And yet – with all of these normalcies, I still have so much that is abnormal due to cancer…

I was thrown into a medical menopause and although the effects of that were pretty easy to deal with at first since I was dealing with post surgery issues and chemo, the hormone and menopausal issues have been CRAZY! I finally understand why women literally feel crazy during this time and I empathize with those who go through “the changes” for years!! I’m on hormone replacement therapy since I’m so young and not having estrogen is B.A.D for your cardiovascular and bone health; however, trying to find the correct dose and type has been another issue! One made me feel like I was going to pass out at any given second (and sent me to the hospital because of it) another made me have even worse menopausal hot flashes and night sweats and now, I said SCREW IT and am currently not on them until I can speak to an endocrinologist who can give me EXACTLY what I need.

I am slowly learning to live with my new normal – the new post menopausal-pixie cut sporting-cancer beating-work at home mom! I have hot flashes, mood swings, a zipper scar down my belly, ANOTHER hernia caused by my incision, the shortest blonde hair I never thought I would ever have, a business that has gone from a  little side job to a full-time gig, two kiddos who I am blessed to be able to raise all day long, a husband who is my rock and my best friend, supportive friends I would be lost without, a family who is constantly supporting me and THIS is my normal – No, not everything is where I thought it would be. Heck, most of this was something I never imagined I would say made me who I am, but it is- this is ME now, and I’m slowly learning to live with that… as hard as it may be and as difficult of a journey it has been to get to this ONE YEAR anniversary of my CANCER diagnosis, I know I can confidently say that I KNOW this next year will definitely be better than the last….

Tis the season…

Today was a BUSY, FUN FILLED DAY of winter festivities…

First, Elfie (our Elf on a shelf) arrived in usual fashion – junk food breakfast (donut snowmen, reindeer, elf faces with strawberries and grapes etc…), he brought and decorated Brody and Sadie’s mini Christmas Trees, got us all new matching pajamas (Jeremy was thrilled about this haha), wrote a letter to the kids, and took a marshmallow bath!

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Brody was SOOOOOOO excited for Elfie’s return – I’m pretty sure he’s been anticipating it since the summer! He is way in to him…even more so than last year, which makes it a lot of fun. It’s also excited for us because we get to use the ole “elfie/Santa” threats!

We decorated the entire inside and outside of our house today as well! The kids didn’t help as much, but they had fun playing with all of the musical decorations and toys!

After the kids napped we took them to Seiple Farms where we cut down our own Christmas Tree. To their surprise, Santa was there! OMG – the look on Brody’s face was magical! Sadie was scared, like I knew she would be, but did manage to muster up enough courage to give Santa a high five and she was THRILLED with her candy cane he gave her, so I’m hoping she will at least attempt to sit on his lap at the mall!

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There was really no one there so we were able to get right on the tractor and head up to the tree farm area. The kids loved riding on the back of the tractor more than anything I think.

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Once we got to the tree farm, they were excited to find their tree – although Brody, who is in LOVE with Charlie Brown’s Christmas, kept trying to get us to chop down the smallest, dingiest tree! It took us about 20 minutes to find the right one, and then Brody helped Jeremy cut down the tree! He yelled “TIMBER” like a real lumberjack haha!

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After the tree we headed out to a local restaurant for dinner! Neither kid wanted to eat much because they were excited to decorate the tree, HOWEVER, once we got home, they were both so tired, we decided to hold off on tree decorating until tomorrow…

Driving around the bend to see our house all lit up was pure magic for all of us – I’m not taking these moments for granted anymore; I’m so grateful I get to experience my favorite time of year again…tis the season!

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Sadie turns TWO!

How can it be that my Sadie girl turned two?!?! Wasn’t she just born?? Wow these past two years have flown by, and it’s hard to believe that Sadie is turning into a fun, intelligent, sassy toddler!

We celebrated her birthday party on November 8th and Sadie’s favorite place, The Little Gym! Her “girly” dinosaur gym party was a great time! So many of her friends and family came to her party – and it is safe to say, everyone had a blast running around The Little Gym! Sadie’s favorite part, was, of course, shaking the bells and singing the hello song, which has been her favorite part of Little Gym for the past 18 months! I was also surprised to see just how much she enjoyed everyone singing happy birthday to her. She loves to take anything and pretend it’s a birthday cake and sing to us at home, but I wasn’t sure how she would react to so many other people singing to her, but the big ole smile on her face proved that she loved every second of it!

Sadie was so blessed to receive to many wonderful presents! Her favorite so far has been her baby cradle and “Sadie” doll from Aunt Kerri, her Barbie purse from Aunt Nara, her baby Elsa from Grandma and Grandpa, and her Melissa and Doug birthday cake from Mommy and Daddy. Of course she received way more than she could possibly need/play with, but these are just a few of her faves!

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Sadie’s actual birthday fell on Friday, November 14th – and we were surprised to see SNOW on the ground the morning of her birthday. This might have been the best present for SAdie! It was magical watching her run around in the snow, making a pretend birthday cake for herself, and just exploring! After our snow exploration, I took SAdie to Dunkin Donuts where she was able to pick out her very own donut and juice – a real treat for the birthday girl.

After her nap, our close family came over to celebrate her day! We had pizza for dinner (of course since this is her FAVORITE food!) and a beautiful dinosaur chocolate cake for the birthday girl! Again, she loved having everyone sing happy birthday to her and really just enjoyed the entire party/day! She opened up MORE presents, but the best part was when she opened up a card with money in it and she was OVERJOYED even though she had no idea what it was!

We were blessed to have two very fun/special days for my girl…

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Sadie’s Two Year stats:

Weight: 26 pounds

Height: 34 inches

Sleep pattern- Sadie goes to sleep around 8pm and wakes up around 7 am. She takes a nap from 1-3:30 and is all in all an AWESOME sleeper. It’s a glorious feeling to know we have two children who finally sleep through the night! 🙂

Favorite foods: Sadie LOVES pizza (pee pee she calls it haha), but she also enjoys, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, broccoli, salad, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks, pretzels, pasta, super food bars (don’t ask!), and so much more! She’s a great eater and will try anything, but lately, she is getting to that toddler phase where she doesn’t want to sit and eat meals, but rather graze on food throughout the day. She also has a newfound love for M&M’s since they are her potty training reward!

Potty Training- I see the end to our diapers in site and it’s a wonderful feeling!! Sadie has dry diapers all day long and pees throughout the day on the potty. She has even woke up from her naps and bedtime several times with a dry diaper. We invested in her first pair of big girl undies (Minnie Mouse – she picked them out!). She doesn’t poop on the potty, but we are working on it! YAY!!

Favorite Things: Sadie loves to take my wristlet, my keys, my cell phone, the house phone, and my chapstick and pretend like she’s going to work! She also likes to line up her baby dolls on the couch, take kitchen towels, pretend their blankets and then cover all of the babies. Weird… I know! She likes her letter books and her peek a boo books and can sit and read them with me for about 30 minutes! She really has no interest in anything on TV, but homegirl can work an iPhone or iPad like it’s her job! She also likes to take my real camera and pretend like she ‘s taking pictures. Another one of her favorite things to do is play with stamp sets. She loves stamping paper, books, envelopes, and herself daily! She is extremely attached to her bink, but we are finally bottle free woohoo! She is only allowed to have her bink at nap time and bedtime, but she definitely asks for it a lot throughout the day. She and Brody have an interesting relationship. There are times when they play SOOOO well together and times when I’m pretty sure they don’t like each other, but I suppose this is normal. Brody is pretty good and tolerant with her – she, on the other hand, is SOOOOO dang sassy and stubborn and sometimes, downright mean to him, but again, I think this is normal for her age! It’s a learning process for everyone haha! Sadie also LOVES music and her favorite songs to listen to are Eleanor Rigby (Beatles), We Will Rock You (Queen), Small town showdown (Brantley Gilbert), and Sadie’s Eyes (Written and performed by her Pappy Gordon!) She can sing along with all of the songs and it’s just so cute to hear! Speaking of singing, she can talk so well. It’s so weird to hear how much she can talk because Brody didn’t really talk until he was 2, but Sadie can speak in full sentences. She never stops talking ALL.DAY.LONG! Some of the best things she says are “I’m Hungry,” “I love you Mommy/Daddy/Bro bro”, “I love (fill in anything!)”, “Happy Birthday – blow out the candles”, “Sing me a song!” Her vocabulary is pretty extensive and impressive…I just love her little voice!

Sadie is a blessing to say the least! She captivates people, brings a smile to their face with her infectious laugh, expresses her love constantly, gives the best bear hugs, and is just to sweetest little girl there is. I’m so in love with her – there really are no words to describe it! I always tell her she’s my best friend and she laughs, but it’s true… she is my little girlfriend and I just love watching her grow. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for my girl…

Chemo Round 6…AND MOVING ON!

My 6th and final chemo occurred on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 – what a glorious day! This was the day I had been waiting for the past 4 months…the end – the beginning…..

The end of 4 months of pure HELL! The end of feeling like a zombie (not looking like a zombie, that will end soon I hope once the ole hair grows back in!) The end of depending on everyone for their help. The end of getting better only to get knocked down! The end of my active treatment…

I must admit I was nervous going into this last round – just as nervous as any other round, but this time, there was a new fear that arose. I wasn’t afraid of my symptoms to chemo, heck, I felt like a veteran by this point. I wasn’t afraid of how I would recover because I knew this last round meant that in three weeks I would be able to finally see what it would be like to get beyond the three week mark and see how much better I could feel. The “fear” was, like many time, the fear of the unknown. It’s a fear I still deal with and battle on a daily basis. That day, I remember being afraid of NOT getting chemo. Weird, I know! But as long as I was getting chemo, I knew the cancer was being  crushed by some strong medicine. What would happen once I stopped getting that medicine? Would it come back? How would I know? Would I be able to go through this again?

Thankfully Jeremy came with me to my final round – he was just the support and “distraction” I needed from so many of the unknowns. My sister also stopped up to hang out, which was so great! We rarely get to talk without 4 little voices screaming mommy, so a few hours of uninterrupted chat was a nice change…

Aside from the fear of “after” chemo, I was SOOOOOOO STINKIN EXCITED to be done. There really are no words to describe how very happy I was that day. When I first arrived, my white blood count was very low from my testing a few days previously and they were worried I wasn’t going to be able to get the chemo. WHAT A BLOW that would have been… but thankfully, after testing me that morning, my numbers went up a bit and I was able to get it even, but had to get that God awful shot the following day. A fight to the end for sure…

After I sat through my 6.5 hours of chemo there was one thing I was looking forward to doing… RINGING THE END OF CHEMO BELL!!! After I was unhooked, said my thank you’s and good-byes, I ran over to that sucker and rang it so hard I broke the chord off!! It was a great moment 🙂

So here I am, now 4 weeks out from my last chemo and feeling a “bit” normal. I’m still tired, in pain, my joints hurt, my head hurts often, I don’t sleep right etc… but I’m learning to find a new normal – a new way to live day to day with the “issues” that have arose from cancer/chemo! I am taking supplements galore to combat these “issues”. My father-in-law also purchased an ion cleanse diffuser machine, which is very helpful for removing toxins from your body, so I do that once a week. I started working out again, slowly, but it’s something – something my body needs so badly, yet despises to much after not working out for 5 months! I still have my stent in, and I get to have another one put in (whoopee!) in a few weeks because my blood clot still isn’t small enough to have it removed, but whatever – that’s baby talk compared to the other things I’ve been through. I love the fact that I am able to solely take care of my kids every day! I wake up with them, make them breakfast, take Brody to school, play, play and more play – I cook them all of their meals; I get them dressed; I am there for them…all.day.long! Sometimes, Brody will say things like, “mommy, you’re all better now YAY!” or if I have a doctor appointment he will get very upset and say, “no mommy, I don’t want the doctors to make you sick and tired again!” He doesn’t quite get it, but he definitely understands enough of what happened to me… Sadie doesn’t have a clue, thank goodness, so I know that none of this will affect her. Sure there are days where I’m brushing her hair and she tries to brush mine like we used to, but there’s nothing there and she says ” Mommy hair go bye bye”. It’s sad, but it’s temporary. In fact, I’ve noticed the hair is slowly starting to come in each and every day. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!

So looking back and reflecting on this “journey” I’ve come to appreciate life so much more from these experiences. I cherish every single moment of every single day no matter how crappy or great it may be. I have come to realize that I am way stronger than I ever thought I was – I tell myself this those mornings when I am so tired I can’t even think of getting out of bed to get the kids, but I remind myself that I am way stronger than a little fatigue and get myself up – they need me. I look back and have a list of people to thank for supporting us, bringing us food, sending cards, sending presents, reaching out, giving their prayers, etc… this experience has shown me that there are so many wonderful people still left in the world, and I am so blessed to be surrounded by a supportive and loving group of family, friends and acquaintances. I can’t ever repay people for all they have done, but what I can do is pay it forward. Today I brought donuts to the postal workers who see me once a week with my Santa sack of packages to ship out, and although it was just donuts, they were so grateful – one woman even said it made her entire week! I have become more compassionate, more patient, more understanding, more nurturing and more accepting through this experience. I had cancer – I beat cancer – Cancer didn’t make me fight for my life; it didn’t make me want to win. My family, my friends, my desire to be there for them all – my love of life, of chocolate, of the beach, of smelling my freshly bathed babies, of my favorite sweatshirt, my desire to grow old and look back on a long life of memories…that’s what kept me going! I have so much more life to live and cancer has only helped me realize how much I want to live it!

And with that… I am moving on….

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Chemo Round Five… and the light at the end of the tunnel!

Chemo round five occurred on September 30th – it was, like every other round, an anxiety ridden couple of days leading up to that round. Just when I’m starting to feel a bit “better”, just as my body feels like it’s starting to slowly repair itself, just when I’m able to eat “normal” again, just as I can start really playing with the kids, just as I start to sort of feel like “me” – I get the ONE/TWO take down chemo PUNCH and I’m out again! However, knowing that after this round I could say “I HAVE ONE MORE ROUND OF CHEMO LEFT” was really empowering. I longed to say those words to the mom who asked me at Brody’s soccer practice how many more rounds I have to go, or to Sadie’s Little Gym teacher who wanted to know how much longer I had… finally, I could say, I HAVE ONE MORE ROUND TO GO!!

My mommy was my chemo buddy for the day and we had a great time chatting away. The Bendryl, which kicked my booty the first few times I received it via IV, wasn’t even that bad this time. I wasn’t knocked out and was able to maintain a full conversation the entire time. I’m sad I didn’t get to take a pic of the two of us together because we were really too engrossed with looking up recipes, Christmas ideas etc… it was a good day despite the occasion!

For some reason, chemo round five didn’t knock me out quite as badly as chemo round four. I think round 4 was by far the worst round for me because of the shot I had to get afterwards to boost my white blood cell count. This time, my white blood count was much better (at least the shot worked) and I didn’t have to get it, which I believe helped this round go a little more smoothly. Sure I was tired, nauseous, pained, fatigued, pukey etc… but I was able to get out of bed every day, even the dreaded “DAY 3” after chemo, which has, over the past 4 rounds, been my worst day in the cycle. I was up, heck I even did some work and took the kids outside to play for a little – it was a small victory. It was like I was saying, “Take THAT Chemo day 3″ I WIN – YOU LOSE!! Even if just for 30 minutes, I felt pretty darn good that day. It was almost like I was back to normal…or whatever ” normal” may be. I survived round 5…I wasn’t even “down and out” that long. Is my body just getting used to this terrible chemo cycle? Am I just learning to live like this – tired, fatigued, sick etc..? Am I just one bad ass mama who won’t let anything get in the way of her recovery for her kids? Maybe…or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I “see the light at the end of the tunnel”…

The next time I get chemo (Tuesday) will be my LAST ROUND…EVER! Yep, I said it- It’s a bold statement I know, but I see the light… I’m getting closer to being done! I WIN!! HALLELUJAH I WIN!! I made it…one more round – happy dance happy dance happy dance and a big “FU CANCER!” Sing it with me…na na na na – na na na na – HEY HEY HEY GOOD BYE!! And HELLO to getting my hair back… because right now, I’m so tired of looking like James and Giant Peach!!

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Why am I not bald?!?! It’s so odd – I have this semi-fuzzy peach fuzz all over my head…so awkward!!

Chemo Round 4… and living in “Cancerland”

Chemo round 4 happened on September 9th, and I feel so blessed that I was able to have my “good” week during Brody’s 5th birthday and birthday party – wow, I’m so grateful my chemo came right after it, otherwise, I’m not sure what I would have done.

I must say, as the rounds go on I become more and more anxious prior to an infusion. I KNOW what to expect now – I HATE what will happen to me – I FEAR that pain, nausea, fatigue – I AM CONFIDENT I will make it through – I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO DO THIS ANYMORE….

I have so many thoughts, fears, emotions leading up to a chemo round (Having it right now actually as I’m about to go into Chemo round #5 in a few short days). I can honestly say the anxiety is worse than before I had my first round because I now know exactly what’s going to happen to me, and quite frankly, it sucks…yep it really really sucks.

I was, however, VERY excited that my chemo partner for the day would be my BFF JESS! Holy cow, I’m pretty sure we haven’t spent a full 6 hours of uninterrupted talk time without kids around in a few years. I was really looking forward to catching up with her and just being with my other half…she’s my soul sister til the end and the fact that she took off work, drove 2 hours at 6:30 in the morning to be here with me means more to me than I can ever express.

Once I arrived and was hooked up – Jess and I were able to chat chat and chat…. before the Benadryl started to kick in and make me TIRED, Jess surprised me with an awesome “gift” – She had brought along the memory book I made for her at the end of our Freshman year of college! It was a birthday present I made for her that was LOADED with stories from the first year of our friendship..over 13 years ago! I can honestly say that I haven’t felt more alive inside recently than I did while I was reading those stories, reliving those amazing memories, laughing, crying, remembering… looking back at a much “Simpler” time in my life – a time when “chemo” was something that I thought only happened to the elderly or unhealthy – a time when “pain, nausea, and fatigue” occurred only from having too much fun the night before  – a time when life felt balanced and normal. I can’t thank Jess enough for bringing that memory book because it did more for my spirits than anything I could think of! She’s the best…

After chemo was over Jess came back to the house, hung out with us, and cooked us a yummy meal! I didn’t want her visit to end because it really was so much fun, but I knew it must and I also knew I needed her to leave so she didn’t have to see what was about to happen to me…

Unfortunately, my white blood count was so low before that round, like borderline not being able to even get chemo, that I had to return the day after my chemo to receive a shot that would boost it. They said there would be some side affects, possibly a fever, more bone pain, nausea etc… but to be honest, I only felt more bone pain and nothing else. Perhaps it’s because the chemo completed poisoned me this round and knocked me so far down that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back up. On Friday, post chemo day 3 – I was pretty sure I had died. I couldn’t open my eyes without feeling pain – my hearing felt like I was underwater – my vision appeared to be foggy – my stomach couldn’t fathom the thought of even drinking water- my bones wouldn’t allow me to even roll over – and yet, I got up! I got out of bed; I showered; I forced down bottles of Fiji water (the only water that takes that stupid chemo metal taste out of my mouth!); I played with my kids; I ate a pretzel or two – I did it! Although I may only be up for about an hour, I feel victorious and rejuvenated in that hour. I know that I could just lay in bed, rest, wallow in my pain etc.. but then, I see those 2 little faces in my head – my kids NEED me to get up. They need to know that mommy is ok, that she’s stronger than this and that she will always fight for them despite how much she wants to just hide under her covers and sleep the days away. They are my purpose and have, and will continue to be my strength through it all! I hate living in “cancerland”, yes I’ve dubbed my current condition as “cancerland”, which is a scary, dark place that only cancer patients and possibly their caretakers understand…

Cancerland is lonely… it’s filled with anxiety, fear, pain, depression, and stares. When you have cancer and are going through chemo, you become more aware of the people looking at you. Are they looking at my awesome hat? Do they think I’m wearing this BLACK hat in 90 degree weather to be fashionable? No, they must be thinking that something is wrong with me. I mean look at me – I have no eyebrows or eyelashes for Pete’s sake! I can’t use mascara anymore because it just clumps onto my eyelid – I have run out of shampoo, so I just don’t bother using any. I’m pretty sure there are days I don’t shower because I don’t get that “greasy-hair-haven’t-showered look” – My intuition razor has since shriveled up and will need to be replaced. My belly button, which I can’t really seem to find these days through the zipper like scars I have on my stomach, hurts from the skin being stretched and torn. When I go to the grocery store and obsessively sanitize my hands, are people looking at me wondering why I’m doing so. Are they empathizing with me? Do they know someone who has lived in Cancerland? Or are they pitying me as a I try to scamper a 5 year old and an almost 2 year old from aisle to aisle trying desperately to keep them both happy (why didn’t I bring two more lollipops – oh because my chemo fog made me forget?!). Do they want to offer me some help as I drop the box of cereal on the floor that Brody has placed in the cart for the 3rd straight time because I have tingling hands (a side affect from chemo). Do they understand how HARD this is for me – as if being a mom to two small kids isn’t hard enough – as if owning/running my own successful business isn’t hard enough – as if just living with cancer and going through chemo isn’t hard enough – I have to continue to LIVE. I have to be mom; I have to kiss boo boos; I have to make pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes; I have to lay in bed at 2am because someone had a bad dream; I have to go grocery shopping because we NEED more damn organic lollipops; I have to throw on my hat because I’m not quite bald, but instead have this awkward peach fuzz on my head – I call myself “Jess and the giant peach”; I have to change poopy diapers and potty train all at the same time; I have to be a crazy fun mom and music class; I have to give baths; I have to make dinner; I have to make a healthy snack for Brody’s soccer team; I have to fold the laundry, again and again and again; I have to reorganize the kids fall clothing; I have to remember my endless doctor appointments and blood work regimen; I have to schedule doctor appointments for the kids; I have to make sure both kids have awesome birthday parties; I have to pay the bills – so many bills; I have to be a good wife, daughter, friend, business owner… I have to do all of this and MUCH MUCH MORE  all while living in Cancerland. It’s an awful place to live, and I can’t wait to move out – just one more month and I’ll be on my way to leaving Cancerland, and every negative aspect of that terrible place behind…

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Happy “Whole Hand” Brody!

Happy “Whole Hand” to my BIG BOY BRODY! Yep, according to Brody, he’s “a whole hand old” now, so in “normal” terms, he’s FIVE! I really am not sure how I feel about this. I love and adore watching him grow up and learn new things, and he is FOR SURE growing into such a fun, smart, and handsome little boy, but it saddens me to think that he is growing up so fast. Yesterday I delivered him and here we are and he’s five! Where have the past 5 years gone?!?! People say it all the time, but it’s so true once you live it, TIME FLIES!!! I’m trying to slow down and enjoy every day more lately (cancer does that to you!), but even slowing things down seems to have sped things up – I just want him to stay my little man forever!

Brody’s turned 5 on September 6 and in typical Brody fashion, he wanted nothing more than to have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday party! On the actual day of his bday we had our close family over for a little party, cake and presents! Brody woke up so “PUMPED UP” (his words!) for his big day and was excited to see the entire house was decorated in TMNT decorations! He loved his giant sized Leonardo balloon and especially loved all of his new toys! His favorite toys so far have been his TMNT weapons (POOR SADIE!) and his new Fliker scooter!!

The following day we had a fun Bounce U party for Brody and all of his friends attended! He was thrilled to see and bounce with all of his buddies and girlfriends (yes, according to him he has 100 girlfriend, so many, in fact, that he can’t remember their names haha!) He loved his fun TMNT cupcakes and the TMNT masks he gave out for his party favor was a huge hit! 🙂

Brody’s Stats:

Height- 45 inches

Weight- 49 pounds

Clothing- Brody is wearing a size 7 shirt, a size 6 pants, and a size 13 shoe! I’m not sure where I will go shopping for him soon since Carters only goes up to a size 7 by us!

Sleeping- This guy is an EARLY riser and always has been. He’s up before 7 o’clock each and every day, but, by the grace of God he still naps from 1:30-3:30 every day, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. He goes to bed around 8:30!

Eating- Brody’s FAVORITE foods are raspberries, oranges, carrots, salad, cheese, pumpkin pancakes, spaghettis and meatballs and turkey tacos 🙂 He also LOVESSSSSS anything that is a popsicle – his favorite treat for sure!

Playtime- Brody’s favorite things to play these days are of course, TMNT – but he also loves playing army, playing with Legos, reading books, riding his scooter, bouncing in his trampoline, and NOW – RIDING HIS BIKE WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS! Yep, he is officially a big boy now that he is minus his training wheels! So proud of him!

Favorites- Daddy, The Beatles (Eleanor Rigby and Paperback Writer are his fave songs) Pappy, His “bro” Uncle Chris, Country Music, Toy guns/knives, Grandma/Grandpa, His best buddy Ethan, Orange popsicles, Halloween anything, playing the guitar, swinging on the tree swing, Pete the Cat books, Pizza, Peppa Pig, Bike riding, Playing hide and seek, going in the hot tub, Dinosaurs, Monster’s University, The tickle monster game, emptying the dishwasher, and his scout doll! 🙂

Happy Birthday BIG BOY!! I love you more than you will ever know….DSCN4635

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