Our Fun-Filled Autumn Weekend

The month of October was a crazy-busy blur. Between Apple-picking, planning for Avery’s birthday party, having Avery’s birthday party, Thanksgiving and hosting family from out-of-town, our weekends were jam-packed. October is my favorite month of the year and autumn is my favorite season. There’s just something about wearing sweaters, seeing all the beautiful fall colors on the trees, feeling a chill in the air while sipping a warm cappuccino and eating a pumpkin muffin from Starbucks 😋. I was not about to let this month escape me again (last October was weeks 39-40+ of my pregnancy and then the adjustment period of bringing home child #3).

We had ourselves a fun-filled autumn weekend with all the activities that we would have done over the month joined by their Nonna for some of them.  We began early Saturday morning with a hike on the mountain to look at all the fall colors.

After a quick lunch we hurried back home to carve our pumpkins. Greyson wanted a spooky face and Cameron wanted a shark, so together we drew, cut, scooped, and admired our hard work. And of course a yummy snack of homemade roasted pumpkin seeds was provided.

IMG_2876

We made a yummy pumpkin tart for dessert and had a Halloween movie night featuring a family favorite: Hocus Pocus.

The next day we went to an outdoor Halloween party where the kids received a passport full of sorcerer’s apprentice activities. They made magic wands, got their faces painted, took a tour of the jack-o’-lantern museum, took a walk in the enchanted forest, and a spin on the spooky carousel. They had so much fun and I’m very happy that we went.

We had a super fun weekend and got to complete all of our autumn family traditions, have a great time, and create new memories!

Avery’s 1st Birthday Party

My baby boy 👶 turned one-year-old on October 18th 2017. We gave him a big birthday bash to celebrate the wonderful joy-filled year he has been in our lives. I fell in love with elephants when he was gifted a big elephant which was included in his 7 month picture update. IMG_1933

The theme was obviously going to be elephants and the colors were blue and grey. These colors made up most of his wardrobe up until now and fills his nursery.

Here are a few pictures of the decorations:

 

 

I made a memory box for Avery to open on his 18th birthday. Inside I included a picture of him on his first day with his mom and dad, an ultrasound picture of him, his first pacifier, his first pair of slippers, his hospital bracelet, his letters that I have written and will continue to write him, and the notes that everyone wrote to future him at the party.

 

I had organized an activity to keep the older children busy and keeping in the spirit of October, we used pumpkins 🎃. They got to decorated their little pumpkins with spooky stickers and this kept them occupied for a magnificent 15 minutes.

 

Then of course came the cake. We had an elephant cake and Avery had his own little cake to tear into and make a mess he could call his own.

 

I had made sugar cookies shaped like an A, 1, & an elephant, which I decided to wrap up and give as party favors.

IMG_2740

It was a very nice party and I was lucky to have help from my mother, mother-in-law, aunt, and grandmother. I tend to obsess and focus only on decorations, so without my family, it would be certain that all our guests would starve in a well decorated house 😜.

December Activity Advent Calendar

Is December not the most exciting month of the year?! The excitement, the magic, the preparation, the beautiful mild snowfalls, the maxing-out of credit cards. Christmas has to be the most anticipated time of the year for kids and as a parent, we get to relive this holiday with childlike joy.

When my boys were 3 years old, I made a December activity advent calendar which is the same idea as the chocolate advent calendar only everyday we get to do a new winter/Christmas related activity. Don’t get me wrong, this in no way replaces the chocolate calendar. They still have to have their daily dose of sugar! It just adds more fun to the month of December and is also a way to keep us organized and make sure all of our Christmas tasks get done.

This will be my second year doing this with the boys since I missed the last 2 years 😅. I think the first time was so much work, it took me the next 2 years to recuperate. It happened to be the year that I returned to work and I was not organized (I was making the calendar and writing out the activities the night of November 30th). I chose to do lots of arts and crafts activities with the boys since they were only 3, but that required me to run out on almost every one of my lunch breaks to pick up our supplies needed for that evening. Pair that with trying to think of awesome scenes for elf on the shelf every night and you got one burned out momma! This is what our first calendar looked like:

This year, I am starting earlier in the hopes that this will go smoothly and be enjoyable for me as well. Here is a list of the 24 activities I have chosen to do this year:

  1.  Write a letter to Santa
  2. Decorate the Christmas tree
  3. Buy a new Christmas book
  4. Visit Santa
  5. Make an awesome hot chocolate bar
  6. Build a snowman
  7. Make Christmas cards
  8. Go skating
  9. Build a gingerbread house
  10. Watch a Christmas movie and make caramel popcorn
  11. Make Christmas tree cones
  12. Candy cane experiment
  13. Make Christmas gifts
  14. Winter hike
  15. Donate toys
  16. Christmas lights viewing in pyjamas
  17. Make Christmas cookies
  18. Go tubing
  19. Make fudge
  20. Christmas scavenger hunt
  21. Make Christmas bark
  22.  Picnic by the Christmas tree
  23. Family slumber party under the Christmas tree
  24. Open our Christmas Eve box

This year I purchased an advent calendar which saved me lots of cutting, painting, sticking, and arranging.

FullSizeRender (7)

Here’s to a magical joy-filled December full of new memories! 💗

A Letter to my Son on his First Birthday

Avery’s first birthday has come and gone and I wanted to share his second letter meant for his 1st birthday.

To my sweet little Avery,

I have been thinking about writing this letter for a while now, trying to figure out what I want to write to you. The moment has finally arrived for me to put those thoughts down in writing and it is bitter-sweet for me. I am filled with so much happiness because you truly are such a blessing and I love watching you grow and learn new things everyday. At the same time, I am sad that this year is already over. Each morning you wake up one day older than you were just yesterday and sometimes all I want is to freeze time and stay locked in this moment with you forever.

You have grown so much this year. I have to admit, I had a hard time adjusting in the beginning. You demanded constant nurturing. I remember coming home from the hospital, taking a bath with you, and sitting down on the couch to nurse you. I don’t think we got up from that couch for three months. All you wanted was to nurse and cuddle and I am happy that we obliged, for those are such fond memories for me now. You have changed and learned so much. From getting your first teeth, to crawling and pulling yourself up, playing with your brothers, and making us laugh and love you more and more each day.

You have taught me that I need to slow down. I need to soak up every smile, every hug, and every giggle. It all goes by way too fast but I will never regret lost time with you because while you are young, that is exactly what I will do. I will soak it all up, I will be with you and make everyday about you. You have taught me to laugh everyday. You have the beautiful ability to find joy all around you. You have also taught me to notice the little things. Life is more beautiful when we could see the tiny miracles that surround us daily.

Today we have loved you 1 year, that’s 12 months, or 365 days, or 8 760 hours, or 525 600 minutes, or 3 153 600 seconds. and 3 153 600 seconds of memories of our time together that are both happy and sad. I remember the first time I attempted picking your brothers up from school with you. Half way there, you decided you wanted nothing to do with your stroller and would not stop crying. I had to put you inside my coat and carry you like a football, hoping that no one saw and judged me for how bizarre I looked. I laugh every time I think of this. I remember when you were six weeks old, and had a fever, I was told to bring you to the hospital. It was the worst moment of my life, sitting there watching you getting all these tests done and being unable to go to you and soothe your cries. Or the time I realized that you absolutely love to roll around on my bed and face-plant into the pillows. I could watch you playing like this forever. Every night I check on you before going to bed and when I see you there sleeping on your belly with your little bum in the air, I take a mental picture and hope to always remember you like this.

FullSizeRender (6)

I look forward to the years ahead, to witnessing the many firsts that are yet to come. Your first steps, your first real words, your first temper tantrum, and your first day of school. To watching you complete a puzzle, play at the park, having fun, and making friends.

You are my absolute perfect baby! If I had to describe you with one word, it would be HAPPY. You are constantly smiling and charming your way into the hearts of everyone around you. I get stopped by so many people when we are out in public, telling me how gorgeous and happy you are. You love to play and laugh with your brothers, and boy do they love you! You are also very stubborn. You know what you want, and know exactly how to get it. You give me a hard time feeding you, you’ve never cared much for solid food and keep me on my toes. But I know that this will be put to good use once you’re older. It is known that stubborn, strong-willed children grow up to be successful adults. so carry on baby, mommy will take it.

You are amazing and I hope that you know how much your mommy and daddy love you.

I hope that you spend most of your days happy, just as you do now. That you continue to satisfy your curiosity and seek out new experiences, while always standing up for what you believe in.

I hope that you always remain kindhearted and seek to enrich the lives of those around you.

I hope that you could look back in twenty, forty, sixty, and hopefully eighty years from now and now that we loved you and will always love you.

Our baby boy, Avery

Love forever and always,

Mommy

IMG_6422

A Letter to my Baby Boy

In keeping with the theme of my baby boy’s upcoming 1st birthday 🎉 , I thought I would share something else from his infancy. I had read about the idea of writing your child a letter every year on their birthday and giving them on his/her 18th birthday, and I thought it was really sweet. This letter was meant to be written on the day of his birth:

To my sweet baby boy,

You have been a sweet addition to this family from the day that I found out I was pregnant. Apart from the usual first trimester ickies, I enjoyed being pregnant with you so much. I loved watching my belly grow, knowing that you were growing bigger and getting stronger and preparing for life on the outside. I enjoyed feeling you moving around in there and would get excited with every kick I felt. I must have annoyed your father so much telling him to feel your almost painful jabs every night. Your birth was such a memorable event in my life. On this day, I was in awe of your father. He was the perfect husband/father/coach. I couldn’t have done it without him and if it was even possible, you brought us closer together, strengthening the bond of our family further.

 

I already have a pretty good idea of the kind of mom that I will be for you since this is my second time around the block. I’m sure adding a third child in the family will shake things up a bit, but I do have a few promises that I vow to keep.

I promise to never let you forget how much you are loved, not even for a day. I will begin and end each day reminding you. Every night I will rub your back, cuddle you, and sing you lullabies until you think you are too old for this and ask me to stop. But I will always send you off to sleep telling you, “I Love You”. I will start your day just as my mom started mine, with a loving smile and a soft voice and hopefully have time for some morning cuddles.

I promise to listen wholeheartedly. Whenever you need to talk, I will make the time to show you that you are my priority. I unfortunately cannot take away all your pains and upsets, but I will help you to get through them and let you know that you can always lean on me.

I promise not to let “third child syndrome” take over your life. You will have plenty of hand-me-downs from your older brothers but I promise to give you some toys and clothes to call your own. I will not worry as much with you as I did the first time around. I know that if your paci drops or you eat some food off the floor, or we skip your bedtime routine one night, you will not die. This might actually help to make life more simple and  less stressful. But I promise to take lots of pictures and document all of your milestones and achievements so that you will have the gift of a memories from your childhood.

I promise to make your birthday a big freakin’ deal. Even if you or others think it’s silly, as long as I’m here, you will get the whole shebang. You will get a special day entirely devoted to you. When you look back years from now, you will know that you were celebrated by the people who loved and cared about you the most.

I promise to accept you just the way you are because you are absolutely perfect that way. If you want to wear sweatpants everyday because you hate dressing up, that’s okay. If you want long bushy hair that gets the old women talking, because you hate getting haircuts, that’s okay. If you have trouble with school subjects because your passion lies in other areas, that’s okay. I will never push you to follow the mainstream, I will instead celebrate your differences and encourage you to be your unique self.

I promise to try my hardest to give you the happiest life possible. I will make special family traditions that will be kept year after year. I will raise you with loving guidance instead of control. I will try to remain patient during tough times and to keep the yelling to a minimum. I will encourage healthy eating and an active lifestyle because the healthier you are, the happier you will be.

And the biggest promise of all, is to love you unconditionally everyday until the end. ❤️

Avery’s Birth Story

We are quickly approaching my baby’s 1st birthday and this has me overly emotional 😢and reminiscent about the day he was born. I could remember as if it was yesterday,  the day I got to hold my baby boy in my arms for the first time. I thought it would be nice to record all the little details of that unforgettable day.

It was Monday, October 17, 2016. After returning home from walking my boys to school, I did not have time to shower like I usually do on this morning because I had to go to the hospital for a NST (nonstress test), to monitor baby’s heart rate since I was passed my due date and measuring at 45 weeks pregnant (my doctor was sure I would deliver an over 10 pound baby).

The test recorded my contractions that I had been getting on and off for a few weeks and the resident decided to check if I was dilated. He found out that I was dilated 3 cm and asked me to come back in 2 hours to see if there was any change. I raced home to shower and eat lunch, thinking that the day had finally arrived when I would get to meet the next love of my life.

After getting checked once again, hearing that there was no change and this was not the day I had been waiting for in anticipation for four weeks now, I left disappointed and went to the park to meet my boys and husband who had picked them up at school for me. We had an ordinary afternoon at home which included supper, baths, books, cuddles, and once the boys were asleep I did my nightly yoga routine, cuddled with dear hubby and watched some TV. Like I said, ordinary.

It was 10:00 PM and time for bed. We turned off the light, cuddled, gave each other a goodnight kiss, and rolled over to enter la-la-land. At 10:15 PM I was startled after hearing a loud pop. I ran to the bathroom to open the light and check if my water had broken but to my dismay, nothing had happened. While standing in the bathroom, I got a huge unbearable pain in my lower back and abdomen and I quickly started panicking!

Due to my previous c-section, this would be a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and my doctor told me to rush to the hospital if I felt any pain around my scar because this could be a possible uterine rupture (a separation of the uterine wall at the site of a prior cesarean incision). She also wanted me to go to the hospital when my contractions were 10 minutes apart and labor mostly there under expert supervision. This pain that I had was so intense that I thought I had ruptured. But then, out of nowhere, it went away. I ran back to my room, woke my husband up to tell him what had happened. Then it came back! We started timing them.

I had truly never imagined contractions to feel like this. I had practiced hypnobirthing with both of my pregnancies and really wanted to attempt a natural birth, free of pain medication. But after being bent over on all fours on the floor of my room, not being able to talk only minutes after my labor had started, I quickly realized this was not going to go as I had planned and that I should just keep an open mind and take it one contraction at a time. We realized that my contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes, which was sooner together than my doctor wanted for my state arriving at the hospital. We called my mother-in-law to come and stay with the boys and we were off to have a baby 👶!

I remember arriving at the hospital and being hooked up to the monitor to make sure my contractions were regular and finally at 12:30 AM being checked by the resident. I was happy to hear that I was now dilated at 6 cm. Yes my contractions were intense, but they got the job done.

The nurses kept asking me if I wanted the epidural but I was adamant that this time I’d go “au natural”. “Au natural”, it turns out is french for “hurts like a motherlover”. While I was having a contraction, I could not speak, I could not move, I could hardly breath, I kept asking myself, “how am I going to push during one of these?” But then, the contraction would dissipate and there would be so much relief that I instantly forgot how bad it felt just a minute earlier, I could carry on this way. And I did, for a while. And then it happened! A nurse asked me for the umpteenth time if I wanted the epidural, only this time, it was right smack in the middle of a contraction and I heard the word escape my mouth, YES. That was it, it was ordered, they were on their way, and I was so disappointed. Why did they need to ask me so many times? Why couldn’t they just wait for me to ask for it myself?

By the time I got my epidural it was 3:30 AM. “I LOVE the epidural!”, “Why would anybody not want to get the epidural?”, “I’m so happy that I got the epidural!”, is all I kept saying to my husband after the effects kicked in 😊.

At 5:00 AM I had reached 8 cm and started to get really excited, “we would be looking at our baby in our arms shortly!” Cut to 3 hrs. later and I was still at 8 cm. I don’t know if it was the epidural that slowed my progress but my doctor decided to start me on a slow pitocin drip, which she had been trying to avoid because it is dangerous with VBACs, since it strengthens the force of the contractions.

At 9:30 AM I was fully dilated and ready to push. After setting up and getting all the appropriate people in the room (couldn’t believe I had 3 people staring at me down there), I began at 10:00 AM. I have never been so happy in my life to have remained so incredibly active during my entire pregnancy (thanks to my high-energy boys). You don’t think that pushing while laying down could be so demanding, but it required a great deal of stamina. The pushing phase lasted for a whopping 1.5 hours and all I could remember was the muffled counting from 1-10 by my husband, the encouraging words after each push by my nurse, doctor, resident, and medical student, and the severe shivering that came over my entire body after each push, lasting 2-3 minutes until my next contraction.

Finally, my baby boy entered the world at 8 pounds and 4 ounces. He was placed directly on my chest, which was an amazing experience for me. The boys had been taken right away after birth to make sure they were healthy, being born at 36 weeks. He was born alert, adorably plump, and stole my heart in seconds 💓.

 

 

Why I Chose to be a Stay-at-Home-Mom

As a child and a teenager, I always knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mommy while my kids were young. I was the kind of teenager who instead of going out partying and staying out til the early morning, would rather stay in with my high school sweetheart and watch a movie or at most, go out to see a movie. Everywhere I went, if there was a pregnant woman there, I would stare in amazement at her adorable belly and dream of the day that I too would be knocked up. High school girl looking forward to the day she’ll be knocked up…. every parent’s nightmare right?

I loved working as a daycare educator. It didn’t really feel like a job where you can’t wait for the weekend and dread Monday mornings. I got to play Mommy all day! However, when I did indeed get knocked up with not one but two babies, I could not bear the thought of returning to work. I know some women look forward to returning to their jobs and getting back some grown-up time after a long 12 months of baby talk and wearing food-stained clothes, but not this lady.

When I did return to work for almost a year while the boys were 3-years-old and my husband was in graduate school, I hated every minute of it. The boys were enrolled in the same daycare I worked at but in a different class and I just could not get used to the fact that I would be spending all day pouring all my love and energy into taking care of other people’s kids while watching them grow up from afar . With every sickness my kids would contract, which was A LOT considering it was their first time in daycare, my husband would have to leave work and stay with them because I couldn’t afford to miss any work hours. It broke my heart to not be able to nurse my children back to health and give them cuddles in their time of need. My husband and I made the decision together, that it was better for our family if I stayed home.

Yes, our budget is smaller. No, we don’t get to go on yearly vacations. No, we don’t own our own house. Yes, we are living off a student line of credit. There are sacrifices we have to make in order to live like this, but I think it’s all worth it. I can always go back to work when all my kids are in school. We will get to go on more vacations later on in life. We will eventually be able to buy a house. But my kids will only be kids for a short time and I want to soak it all up before it’s over. I will not regret missed time with my children later on in life. I will make it my goal, to give my kids a happy and memorable childhood because later when their lives are filled with adult responsibilities or when their mommy and daddy are gone, that is what they will remember about us.