It’s different now…remembering the conversations that started it all

I started talking to you when you are in my belly.
At first, our talks were the normal mommy/baby conversations.

I can’t wait to see you.
I can’t wait to hold you.
I can’t wait to play and laugh with you.

Those conversations changed at 29 weeks when we went into the hospital. My water was broken, you had barely enough amniotic fluid available and it was leaking every minute.

My stomach was just a tiny bump. I could see the horror in our visitor’s faces as they saw how small I was and that made me even more scared for you. I didn’t know what to do or what would happen. Having a premature baby wasn’t something I understood or had any knowledge on.

We talked all the time, me and you. After the daily monitoring of our heartbeats and my blood pressure and my temperature every few hours. But our conversations were different.

I need you to fight hard, little one.
I need you to wait a little longer until you arrive.
I need you to give me strength.

I needed you just as much as you needed me over the 5 weeks we spent on bedrest. I needed you to help me cope with this situation that I never saw coming. Even though the doctors and the nurses and daddy and all of our family and friends were there for us, it was really just me and you.

Some days, no one could visit. And it was just us. And we would talk. As the weeks went on, and you got a little bigger, and I got a little bigger, our conversations got more joyful.

I need you to keep growing.
I need you to keep getting stronger.
We are going to be okay.
I can’t wait to see what you do with your life. 

I was in awe of how you were fighting.

You weren’t in an ideal womb.
You’d had shots to make your lungs strong and just enough fluid to grow.

We talked about how I would figure out a way to stay at home with you. That work wasn’t important anymore and that I’d do anything I could to take care of you. It was in those conversations that my life changed.

I knew that I would fight, just as hard as you’d been fighting, to be the best mom I could for you. You gave me the strength and the power to make my dreams come true and start my own business AND be a mommy to you and eventually, your brother.

We know this story has a happy ending.

We know that our last conversation before you were born was…

They are inducing me tomorrow.
We made it to 34 weeks!
I will hold you tomorrow. 

And, I did. And you fought for another 3 weeks in the NICU and our conversations went from you inside to my belly, to you behind the glass.

But then you came home.

And we’ve had so many conversations since those days.

You are 6 years old now. And last night, you and I were laying down, getting ready to go to sleep and we started talking. And even though we talk all the time, this was different.

You were so funny and so grown up. You told me about school and we talked about Christmas. I wasn’t talking to a baby anymore. I was talking to a little man. And it made me think about your entry into this world.

And this morning, as you sat on the couch eating your Poptart in your little jammies you said, “I loved talking to you last night, Mommy.”

I should make more time for just you and I to talk.

I should also remember those early conversations a lot more.

I should remember them when you are talking and talking and I am too busy to listen.
I should remember them when you call out for me at 3 am and I’m so tired.
I should remember how lucky I am to have these conversations with you now and watch you grow and thrive and overcome all of your challenges.

You and I are best friends.

Even though I love your daddy and your brother exactly the same as I love you, we have a special little bond that can never be broken.

Thank you for all the conversations we’ve had.
I can’t wait for all the exciting ones to come!!

I love you, my big boy.

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Want to hang out? Finding ‘couple friends’ in our 30’s

I’m 34 years old and my husband is 35. Most of our “couple friends” are people we met at least 10, if not 15 years ago. They’ve known us through all the phases and life changes. They were there in the party days, the wedding days, the current kiddo days. We’ve all grown up together. There’s a really special bond and a whole lot of history.

But, how do you make couple friends when you’re in your mid-30s? When there’s no background, no context. You just meet someone at THIS particular chapter in their lives, without really knowing much about what they used to do or how they used to be.
Can the connection be as strong?

Just like finding love, when it happens, you’ll know.

You will meet a couple you connect with immediately and I have a little story to share to prove it.

My husband and I recently went to Austin, TX  for a wedding. I was in the wedding and this was one of my friends from college that hadn’t lived in the area for a very long time, so this was going to be a completely new circle of people.

I was in better shape, having gone to her shower over the summer, so I had met a lot of family and friends when I was there. But my husband wouldn’t know a SOUL.
Scary, right?

Some of the bride’s friends from high school live about 2.5 hours from us and we were all going to be on the same plane.

Only ONE of the girls was bringing her husband. In my head I thought, what are the odds that my husband and this guy actually like each other? Or that the girl and I have a lot in common? 50/50 right? You just never know.

We and this couple were already getting ‘set up’ and the pressure was on.

I remember sitting at the airport gate, scouring the crowd for the mystery couple. It was literally the same feeling when thinking about a blind date. What do they look like? What do they act like? Do they swear as much as me? Should I be myself right away or tame it down?

My husband and I aren’t exactly quiet.
We both have really big personalities and will do anything for a laugh.

We saw a big group of girls with one guy and knew it must be them, but we didn’t make a move for fear of looking like giant weirdos.

When we landed, we’d meet.
And that we did.

My friend came over to greet all of us and we were all awkwardly standing in a circle. I looked at the couple, the mystery couple, and they actually looked oddly familiar.

I figured it was a good icebreaker to tell them this, and the conversation started to happen.

Oh, where did you go to college and when did you graduate?

It then turned into how many kids do you have and how old are they?

This is where the connection either happens or it doesn’t.

When small talk has to become real talk.

We laughed over the fact that we both picked each other out at the gate, but didn’t want to seem strange and introduce ourselves. The girl and I talked about needing a weekend away and I could hear the guys start to chat behind us. Talking turned to laughter pretty quickly and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The boys were über comfortable with one another and were cracking jokes like old frat buddies almost instantly.

I got along with the girl so well, too, both of us busy moms that run small businesses.

 

I knew we had met our spirit animals for the weekend. 

We all went to lunch and bonded even further. It’s super rare for all four people in a group of couples to get along and genuinely like each other. But for us, we got really lucky.

 

The conversation felt so authentic. The similarities started to pile up and we almost forgot that we had just met them wee hours before. Numbers were exchanged and we knew the next day would be the wedding, so we’d reconvene.

And we sure did.
We had a BLAST!!
Dancing, eating, drinking, talking, laughing.

But then came the time to make the decision.

Does this ‘friendship’ continue or was it just a fling?
Are these new couple friends, long-term?

Sunday we were all staying in Austin, so it was that weird, “do I text them to hang out”  or “have they had enough of us” or “do they really like us or are they just being nice?”

As we ventured into the city, we sent a text to see if they were downtown, but they had already left. But we got an invite text to dinner with a hilarious, “If we are overbearing or annoying, just tell us.”

They were feeling the same feels as us.

We didn’t want to look like stalkers, but we really wanted to get together again.
And so did they.

Couples dating is a lot like real dating. In the beginning, you never want to be the person that goes too far, too fast. But guess what, if you don’t jump in, if you don’t make new connections and have new experiences, your life will be a lot more boring.

We got together for dinner and spent three hours talking and laughing and planning to get together back home.

It took Texas to bring us together, but the girl and I have already worked on some business together and we’ve made our first official double date for January which we’re really excited about it.

Meeting new people is always an adventure. And sometimes at our ages, we feel like we don’t need to make new friends or we’ve lived too much life to mesh into someone else’s without drama. So not true.

And guess what, as if by some serendipitous act, as I was writing this blog, I got a text from another couple that we met (you guessed it) at a wedding, about 3 years ago. They are coming to town from Florida over the summer and we are going to get together!

If you’re in a new city…
If your best couple friends moved away…
If you are foodies and need to find a foodie match…
If you go away on vacation and don’t want to be alone…

Find your couple connection!

Most likely, they are in the exact same boat, just waiting for someone to make the first move. 🙂

 

 

 

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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-Ná 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-Ná, 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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