At 34, it was still a summer of firsts

As I reflect back over the summer, I’m so happy that at age 34, I’m still having firsts! I’m exploring new places and trying new things. I never have the time to blog as much as I’d like, so I’m summing up the last three months in pics and stories.

First Airbnb stay. I never thought I was cool enough to try the Airbnb lifestyle, but when my whole family was headed to Connecticut to visit my brother (he works at ESPN), we realized how cost effective it would be to stay together.

The condo we booked was only 10 minutes from my brother’s place and it was seriously perfect. Note: Staying with your entire family is TOUGH. It’s hard not to have your own space and sharing one bathroom was NOT ideal. But, we powered through and there were a lot more laughs than tears.

Our host was fantastic and I felt really welcomed the minute we walked in. It feels so much more like home when you have a house to stay in versus a hotel and it’s killer that you can cook your own meals and even do laundry. It’s also fabulous if you have kids, since there is a lot more space for them to run around.

This trip was a great one. We got to tour ESPN, hang out at the ocean, eat a lot of awesome meals (either cooking them together in the condo or eating at restaurants) and simply spend quality, precious time together. If you ever need to stay in the Southington, CT area or want to see pictures of our place, check out where we stayed here. The kitchen was my favorite part.

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With my man 🙂

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The whole crew minus mom

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ESPN Tour

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ESPN Tour

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ESPN Tour

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Vincenzo

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Santino

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Mom, my sis, my bro and me

First time flying alone. This was a BIG one. My first time on an airplane came just a few short years ago, and I was with my husband, so I felt much more comfortable. This time, it was just little, old me and the anxiety leading up to this trip almost crushed me. But, you do everything for your friends and I was determined to get past this fear and get to Texas to celebrate one of my best friend’s bridal showers and bachelorette party.

The ride to the airport in the morning was terrifying. It was 5 am. It was raining. My mom (she dropped me off) was driving and trying to navigate construction. We finally arrive and I’m pretty much shaking with fear. I go inside to check my bag and I’m 1 lb over the weight limit, so I’m sprawled out on the airport floor, opening my suitcase, underwear flying out, as I pull out a hat and a floral coat to get under the limit. I’m now walking around the airport at 6 am with a Fedora, that flashy coat and a shirt that says, “Coffee saves, bro.”

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In the airport restroom, see the Fedora and the coat in the back!

I’m pretty awesome. I got to security and made it through pretty quickly, got over to the tram, found my gate, and plopped my ass down for an hour wait until it was boarding time. That was the worst. Just sitting and waiting.

I flew Allegiant, so I already secured the seat I wanted. I got on the plane, found my row and my seat and sat down. Aisle seat, of course, I don’t mess with windows. Then I spent the next 10 minutes trying to buckle my seatbelt, in a nervous frenzy, before the sweet flight attendant told me I was doing it backward. Whoops. I put in my EarPlanes, because in my head, without them, my ears would explode upon take-off and settled in for a three-hour flight.

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I pulled out my hardback book from the library (what a dork) and started to read. Three hours was far too long to be on that plane, but I survived!

On the way back, I got stopped at security and they had to search my carry on, all because of a change purse. I was also way over the checked baggage limit and had to pay $50 in fees. Whoops. Then when the pilot said we’d possibly be flying through the solar eclipse and not to look directly at the sun outside the window, I really started to freak out. I just imagined the plane being sucked into some alternate time portal (seriously, I did), as the super brave 8-year-old kid beside me whispered to his mom, “I’m totally looking.” Luckily, we landed just 10 minutes before, so we weren’t in the air.

First time in Texas. It was hot as hell, but it was fantastic. A lot of firsts happened here.

First time at a Drybar. I kid you not, my hair looked good for two full days. After an entire day of prepping and holding the bridal shower, to the bachelorette party, to the entire next day of shopping and then a really late night dinner. Beachy waves for the win!

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Drybar in Austin

First time trying a breakfast taco and Texas queso dip. Mine had sausage, egg, cheese and mashed potatoes and coupled with a hot cup off coffee and those chips and dip, wow. I’m salivating right now thinking about it.

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Taco Deli in Austin

First time co-hosting a bridal shower. I don’t mind being the center of attention around friends, but I was in a room full of strangers and I had to host bridal shower games. It was super fun and we all had a blast. The mimosas might have helped? 🙂

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Me + Bride to Be

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Me + Bride to Be + Snapchat filter

First time using Uber. In my area, Uber is around, but it’s not as available as it is in Austin. It was fascinating, just watching the driver on the map and getting the updates as to how far away they were. It’s a great and safe way to travel.

First time experiencing the cocktail culture. My friend is a fan of the cocktail and she took us to some pretty spectacular places for her bachelorette party. I’ve never had drinks this delicious in my life and I’m bumming as I come home to my pathetic Bacardi and coke. It’s always fun getting all dressed up and experiencing the nightlife in a new place. As a mom of two, getting these special girl’s weekends are so sweet and so needed.

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All ready

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Me + Bride to Be

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I had a “Don Suave” at Red Ash in Austin

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I had a “Cafe Blue Mountain”  at The Townsend in Austin

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The Roosevelt Room drink list

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Of course, I had “The Hemingway Daiquiri ” at The Roosevelt Room in Austin

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I had “I Carried A Watermelon” at Eberly in Austin

And lastly, cheating a little on this first, but I have a First Grader! Are you kidding me? He’s more mature and grown up than I’m ready for and I’ve already told my 16-month-old he’s not allowed to grow up that fast.

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Big man

So it truly was a summer of firsts. I also got my first iPad (talk about late to the party), it was the first time I was summoned for jury duty (got out of it) and my first time betting on The Belmont (on my actual birthday) and winning.

34 is already shaping up to be one hell of a year. 🙂

Tell me about your favorite firsts.

 

 

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It took a few hours of quiet to see this…

It’s raining. I’m sitting in my quiet house on a Thursday evening, sipping a glass of rum. I think it’s the first time I’ve taken a deep breath in two weeks.

Life is crazy. My summer has not been easy. Having a 6 year old and a 14 month old home all day, every day while you try to run a business is equal parts disaster and insanity.

My client list and my dreams keeps growing, but so does my stress level. How do I do it all? Why are these kids so loud? When do I get a break? When do things get easier?

Not to mention, the upcoming out-of-town wedding that I’m in which has me planning bridal shower games and organizing travel arrangements. And shelling out a lot of bucks. I love you, Cait, but you’re an expensive friend to have right now. 🙂

And of course, there’s the trip to see my brother in Connecticut, more expenses and more time away from work.

And the student loans and the credit cards and the home repairs and the laundry and the dishes. And the never ending list of STUFF we have to handle.

Then a moment like this comes and I remember to count my blessings. I am sitting here, perfectly healthy and capable. I am able to do what I love every day. I have an amazing support system in my husband, my kids, my family, my friends. I am not alone or scared. I have dreams. I have plans. I can do whatever I want.

Sure, I have anxiety attacks and bad days where I think I might just take the car and keep driving until I get somewhere that nobody knows me.

But all in all, my life is full of purpose and passion and that is what matters.

I had a pretty bad couple of weeks, so today as I wrote this, I thought back to all the fun I’ve had this summer. Playdates with new friends and old friends. Bonfires and birthdays and silly nights with best friends. Sitting on my mom’s porch, enjoying family and stillness on lazy Saturdays. Date days with my husband. Plenty of laughter and memories.

And there is still so much to come…

Our trip to see my brother, more playdates, my first ever solo plane ride to a new state to celebrate with my dear friend for her shower and bachelorette party, our fantasy football draft, the McGregor/Mayweather fight. I mean, how could I leave that out?

I need to stop wasting away summer, trying to get to the next day, the next week, the next month, the next ‘to do’ off the list. I’ll be sad when Vincenzo is in school and Santino won’t have his partner in crime at home all day. I’ll be sad when the weather starts to get chilly and the daylight runs out too quickly. I’ll miss the chaos.

It will be a new busy. It’s always going to be some kind of busy. At least while I have young kids and a growing business. And all that busy is worth it.

I’m trying to tell myself not to whine, or complain or dream about what I don’t have – because everything I need, is right in front of me.

Love harder. Listen better. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And remember to breathe.

Every season of life is an important one. Embrace each, before it passes you by.

I miss blogging, so I’m going to try to be here more often and keep you updated on all these fun summer events and share pictures and stories. Because that is what I love to do, tell stories. And when you stop doing what you love, you lose a piece of yourself.

Tell me what you love to do and how you plan to do it more!

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The blog I’ve been terrified to share…

A few months ago, my business coach, Jo-Ná Williams, and really, my life coach, told me to write a ‘balls to the wall’ blog, a blog where I held nothing back. I started a lot of drafts, telling myself they were super vulnerable and honest, but they all sucked.

But today, I felt the urge to write it, finally. Just as my favorite quote from Ernest Hemmingway reminds me, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

So here I am, bleeding all over the page for you.

Before I joined Jo-Ná’s mastermind program, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing. I thought I was running my business really well and I didn’t need anybody’s help. I thought I was balancing the wife/mom/entrepreneur act just fine. I thought I was killing it, honestly.

I was actually a ****ing mess.

I thought it would be a piece of cake to turn my new ideas for the business into realities. I knew Jo-Ná through legal work we’d done together and I needed some new documents drafted, so that’s how this journey began. I never planned on joining a mastermind program. I knew what they were. I heard other people liked them. But again, I didn’t need help. I was doing just fine. Why would I pay money for someone to tell me otherwise?

I don’t know what clicked on this particular day, but I had a conversation with Jo-NĂĄ and during that call, I agreed to join her mastermind. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, or what it would do for me, if anything. But, I was 100% sure in that moment, it was the right move. I wasn’t getting anywhere by myself and something told me I needed to let someone in and get support.

I was working my ass off and not making the money I desired. I was losing time with my family and friends because my workload constantly took over. My weekends became non-existent and taking time off made me feel guilty. My stress levels were through the roof and it was affecting my entire world.

We began in January and after a few weeks, seriously just weeks, of working with Jo-NĂĄ, everything suddenly made sense.

I was the biggest reason I wasn’t succeeding or following through with plans.
I was the reason I was working myself into the ground.
I was stopping my growth out of fear of both failure and success.
I was scared and anxious.
I was alone when I didn’t need to be.

Negativity ruled.

All these thoughts ran through my head:

People won’t like my writing courses.
My personality is too over the top.
People won’t pay me enough.
People won’t care.
It’s too competitive out there.
I’m too busy to get this up and running.
I can’t afford the start-up costs.

I was lost in my own head. I felt I wasn’t worthy of success. I also wasn’t keen on investing much in myself either.

Let me tell you, after throwing that concept out the window and investing over $7K in the first quarter of 2017 alone, there is absolutely NO turning back now.

That money went toward training, coaching, filing a trademark, creation of legal documents to make sure I was protecting my work, software, logo design. You name it and I paid it. It no longer became a fear of spending too much; it became a fear of not moving forward, not growing, not evolving and never trying something new.

Being a part of this mastermind flipped my entire life upside down in the best way imaginable.

I didn’t realize all the internal demons that were growling around in my gut.
I didn’t know how to silence them or kill them.
I didn’t know how to trust my passionate heart over my steady brain.
I didn’t know how much I’d lost of myself when I stopped taking care of myself.
I didn’t know how much people’s words and negativity were affecting my mood.
I didn’t see how guilt, doubt and fear were clouding my vision.
I didn’t see the big picture, only the one I was cautiously drawing in my head.
I didn’t see the things I was doing that were wreaking havoc on my well-being.
I didn’t understand how fake I was being because I was too afraid to be real.
I didn’t know how to set boundaries and be truly honest and open with my feelings.
I didn’t believe I could have it all or deserved to.
I didn’t believe in me.

I was holding my breath waiting for a life that was never going to happen, when I had the power to breathe and live it, the entire time.

I didn’t know a person’s words, support and love would completely transform my life in such a short amount of time, or that a stranger would become a person to which I’d easily bare my soul. I didn’t know because I didn’t believe it was possible.

I’ll tell you from the bottom of my heart, it is.

I needed this experience or I’d never be where I am right now. If you can open your heart and your mind to working with a coach or a mentor, please do it.

I’m so close to putting Let’s Meet For Copy out into the world.

If I can do this, you can do anything.

All my love.

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To my second baby, a letter from Mommy

Dear Santino,

A year ago today, I sat down and wrote a letter to your big brother and right now, I do the same for you. In his letter, I talked about YOU. And how he was going to have a brother and our lives were going to change. And here we are, a year later, and you are coming up on your 1st birthday already! Time flies.

My second baby. My final baby. Oh, my sweet boy, how you have changed our lives.

Currently, you are bouncing away in your bouncer, as I type, wondering why I’m not holding you. I’m sorry! You are so patient as your mommy works at home and you share your time with her computer. You tug on my headphones as I do conference calls and my clients know you by name. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. You are already so smart. You are almost walking. You are eating a lot of new foods. You are smiling and dancing and talking. You are a ball of energy, just like your big brother. You look up to him with eyes that I’ll never stop trying to capture in a photo, because they are priceless.

Mommy had a much easier pregnancy with you, than with your brother. You arrived exactly one day before your due date, at 7 lb., 6 oz, 21 inches long and with a full head of beautiful hair.

IMG_5404You have changed our lives with your arrival and now mommy and daddy say things like “our kids” and “our boys” which makes us feel really old, but also really loved.

We couldn’t have asked for a more precious family. We fiercely love each other every day and we love you more than words (even if you never sleep and are kinda grouchy when you’re hungry, as your brother would say).

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Your brother loved you from the very first second he saw you. He is so proud of you. He always makes time to feed you a bottle or play with you or dance with you. He shares his toys with you and the two of you laugh and enjoy being brothers and best friends. You have helped your brother grow, mature and learn about love and friendship.

I never want you to lose that love. Even with your brother gets older and might not want to play with his little brother quite so much, know that he loves you a ton and it’s just a silly phase he’s going through. He is your best friend for life. And he will always look out for you. I want you look out for him, too.

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You are not even a year old yet, but you’ve grown and changed so much. We had to cut your hair before your first birthday (sorry, Pap!) because it was getting into your eyes and ears and driving you crazy. But it’s part of your personality and we will cherish these photos forever. Whether your hair is long or short, you’re adorable and wonderful and perfect just the way you are. Never forget that.

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I want you to know that just because you were born second, doesn’t mean a thing. Your brother had a lot of time with mommy and daddy before you were born, but now you are getting a lot of attention and your brother is giving up some of his. Since you are so far apart in age, you need a lot of extra care right now and sometimes you make your brother a little jealous.

I want you know a few things and I promise to write you more letters as you get older. But this being just a month shy of your first birthday, here is what I want to say:

You are amazing and loving and caring at such a young age. Never lose that.

Even when you wake me in the middle of the night, or throw food all over me, I still love you more than life and I know I’ll miss those moments when they are gone. 

Thank you for being there for me as your brother went off to kindergarten. If I didn’t have you by my side every morning as I drop him off, my heart might just explode with sadness. My first baby is growing up and my second baby, you are there to help me understand that and give me extra baby hugs and kisses when I need them most. 

I miss you anytime I’m not around you. I love our time together, just me and you. When we talk about our plans and the awesome life you have ahead of you. 

I can’t wait until you can talk and we can really understand each other, although, I feel like we already understand each other right now, using no words at all. 

Below are the same things I wrote to your brother and they are 100% true for you, too:

I cry when I think about you getting older and not needing me as much anymore, because I’ll always need you. 

You will always be one of my best friends.

You will always be the person I wish I could be more like.

I will always hold you, hug you, love you and help you in any stage of your life.

I promise to plan special days for just you and I for the rest of your life.

Santino, your name means ‘the savior’ in Italian and you surely are one. You are our dream come true. You are our second baby, our final baby, the last piece to our family puzzle.

I’m proud to be your Mommy. My son, I love you.

 

 

 

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Dear Santa…it’s been awhile

Dear Santa,

It’s been awhile since I’ve written you a letter. I guess I got too caught up in this whole adult thing and I thought it was about time I checked in.

This year, I haven’t had much Christmas spirit. I know…I’m sorry. I’ve been so busy with work and now I’m a mom of two, which makes things even busier. And we’ve all been pretty sick this whole month, with various colds and coughs. I feel like everything has felt rushed. Shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, wrapping – who has the time??

Then last night, my family and I went to see lights at a local Christmas village. And every year (for the past 10 years my husband and I have been going) we pick out something from the gift shop to add to our Christmas collection. We write the year on the bottom so we remember when we got it and it’s a tradition that I love. This year we picked this:

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And it inspired me to write to you today. I believe in the magic that surrounds Christmas. And even though this year has been a little more rushed and busy, I am beyond blessed and I need to stop and remember that. Right. Now.

I took a minute and scrolled through my recent photos and found that I was absolutely enjoying the season. I just didn’t realize how much I’ve done this month. And I want to say thank you, Santa. I know you were behind this…the greatest gifts.

I got to spend time with my sister, mom and aunt making crafts and watching a Christmas program at a local church for our annual ‘Sister Christmas.’ We always plan a Saturday in December to spend the entire day together and it was full of hot tea, glitter and conversation.

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I got to sit by the glow of my Christmas tree with my amazing husband, watching our favorite Christmas movies and enjoying our Starbucks.

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I got to watch my five year old grow into the little man he is and really begin to understand what Christmas is all about. And tell me he learned about Mary and Joseph and Jesus in Sunday school and how “God is in our hearts.” And he knew what that meant. When did he get so grown up?

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I got to spend time with my brother, who lives in Connecticut and I haven’t seen since June, for two full days. And watch him with my boys. He is such a sweet uncle and godfather and I miss him terribly, but I’m proud of him working his dream job at ESPN and making a name for himself. He used to be my baby brother, but now he is a big, strong man. When did HE get so grown up?

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I got to share an early Christmas dinner and drink a few cocktails with my sister and laugh like we always do. She is one of the best people I know. She loves unconditionally and she’s always there with a smile and a helping hand. She is a perfect aunt and I love her dearly. Being with both my siblings, and all of our family, during this time of year is everything.

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I got to spend time with friends – new and old. And in 2017, I look forward to making more time to spend with everyone I love and that loves me. You all know who you are.

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And I got to sit on my couch in the morning, holding my sweet baby boy, with a cup of coffee and enjoy the beautiful snow outside. Winter really is magical.

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Christmas hasn’t happened yet. We still have a few days to stop and slow down. I still have lots of family and friends to see and visit. I will enjoy every single moment the next few days bring.

I know this year may be hard for you. If you are lonely, if you have lost someone, if you are hurting. Please know that I love you and I am thinking of you.

We lost my Papa Jack on Christmas Eve 10 years ago and it was the hardest Christmas I’ve ever had. There was joy and happiness in the loveliness of the day, but such sadness and pain at our great loss.

Santa, you’ve given me great gifts this year. I only ask for a few more: more patience, more time with family and friends, health, happiness and love.

Thank you,

Tara

From my home to yours, Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
No matter what you celebrate, may your season be full of love and hope. 

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10 Years And Counting…

My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary and I had to blog and reflect on this milestone.

As a kid, 10 years seemed like forever. Think about it. That’s all of middle school, high school and college. WHAT???

These past 10 went by so fast, I feel like we just met. There are still things we are learning about each other and stories we haven’t shared. He still makes me laugh more than anyone on the planet and we have so much fun together, just the two of us.

We got married young, 23 and 24, and the world was such a different place.

Guys, we had disposable cameras at the tables at our wedding. That was still a thing. There were no Facebook pictures, no wedding hashtags and certainly no Pinterest.

In those 10 years, we’ve grown up together.

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We’ve lived in two different houses and an apartment; we’ve made lasting friendships, as well as lost friends; we’ve went clubbing, thrown great parties and made memories that could fill pages upon pages; we’ve been there for friends and family as they got married, divorced, had babies, moved away; we’ve gone on super memorable vacations to places like New York City and Disney World; we’ve watched every season of Survivor and a million other shows together; we’ve changed jobs and started businesses; we’ve worked through times when money was tight and times when money was right; we’ve done house renovations and projects; we’ve spent time crying together and countless hours laughing together and so much more.

For the first five years it was just us and we lived it up. But now, we have two boys that are the light of our lives and our greatest loves.

They have helped us grow up, become more caring and understanding, more patient and loving. Being parents is one of our favorite jobs and even though it’s not easy, it’s the best decision we ever made.

We’ve grown both personally and in our relationship. Our personalities and values are the same, but we are more mature and better spouses to one another because we know what makes the other happy. He’s never going to fill out school paperwork and I’m not going to clean the shower. We do what works best for our marriage. It always comes first.

Faith, family, friends, football, fun. That pretty much sums us up. We believe in God and the power of this union, we have strong and fantastic families and friends that always support and love us, we love football and even though we root for different teams, we respect the other, and we seriously have a blast together.

Man, we just have so much fun. Whether it’s a dance party with the kids or trading witty comments at the right moment. We just came back from a trip to Atlantic City to celebrate this 10 year anniversary and we went out clubbing Thursday night. We sent our friends a Snap and one responded, “I love that you guys still club it up.”

Hell yeah. Why not? Being serious is boring. We will continue to go out and dance and drink and meet people and love life as long as they keep letting us in. LOL.

We are both always up for anything and will embarrass or make fun of ourselves to make others laugh. We love to see smiles on the faces around us. There is nothing better. We just fit. We’re similar in the right ways and balance each other out in the differences.

I’ve introduced him to coffee and books. He’s introduced me to fantasy football and thrifting.

There’s never been a day that an ‘I love you’ hasn’t passed our lips. We say it multiple times a day and mean it more and more every single time.

We still leave notes for one another. A Post-It on his work clothes, a typewritten note in my work folder. We text each other when our wedding song comes on the radio or Snapchat a hilarious filter while sitting right beside each other.

I can say, I am so lucky to have found my husband. He is my soulmate and best friend and yes, of course, drives me crazy. But, we love with a passion. No argument is ever that bad and nothing is too tough to get through. Love conquers all.

I knew him for 6 weeks when we got engaged. If I’m being honest, I knew after 2 hours that he was THE ONE. The first night, the first conversation. That is all it took.

For all my readers, single – engaged – married: believe in LOVE. If it hasn’t happened for you yet, I pray it will find you. It is never, ever too late. Don’t let age or circumstance fool you.

If you’ve found love, never let it go. And always work to keep it strong.

I can’t wait to celebrate the next 10 and the next 10 and the next 10 with this man.
Our story is my favorite story.

J, thank you for being the love of my life and the one to walk with me on this journey of life. I LOVE YOU.

Comparison pics below. Two from our honeymoon in AC in 2006 and two from our recent trip in 2016. We still do the model shot pic, because hey, it’s a tradition. Can’t stop now.

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Honeymoon 2006

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Honeymoon 2006, “Model shot”

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10 year vacation, 2016

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10 year vacation, 2016, “Model Shot”

 

 

 

I think we look a little different, but still super in love. 🙂

Tell me your advice to a lasting marriage or relationship. I want to hear your stories!

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