Christmas 2018

I'm not going to lie, most weekends when the boys nap, this mama naps too. Any chance I have to catch some zzz's these days are so worth it but today is not one of those days. My parents had the boys over for a sleepover last night so Dennis and I both got to sleep in, which means a whole nap time is available to dedicate to this space! So before I forget every little detail, let's recap Christmas 2018.

Every other year, we spend Christmas in Colorado and this year we were able to dedicate a full week, Sunday to Sunday, to visiting family and friends in one of our favorite places.  We loaded up the truck with clothes, gifts, and as many toys/books/and movies as we could to distract the boys on the 9+ hour drive and hit the road around 10 a.m. on Sunday.  Overall, the boys did really well on the drive. We had a very untimely need to stop for gas that cut both naps short but lesson learned! When we got to Dennis' mom's house, we let the boys run around, play with trains, and enjoy time with Nonni and Opa.
The first Christmas we celebrated was Christmas eve with Dennis' dad, step mom, siblings, aunt and uncle, cousins, etc. It was wonderful. We ate way too much and then let the kiddos dig into presents. There are three grandbabies now, all boys, and they were thoroughly spoiled with enough toys and clothes to last them through the year(s).

After the kids finished opening gifts and started playing with all their new toys, we had our adult gift exchange. This year we set a $50 limit and everyone stepped up with awesome gifts, many of which were stolen to the limit. Favorites included the Google home/chrome cast duo we snagged, all the ingredients needed for a margarita/taco night, a corn hole set, and tons of others. It's the first year we've done our adult gifts this way and it was so much fun, it has surely become a tradition! 
Christmas morning the boys woke up and we reminded them that Santa had come and we had to go downstairs and see what he brought!  Duke immediately said "He's here, he's here, Santa downstairs?!" and we quickly realized that he thought Santa would actually be hanging out in the living room when he woke up.  Oops! We quickly explained that Santa couldn't stay but he left him some fun surprises and it only took him a minute to move on from his disappointment. They came downstairs to stockings and unwrapped gifts from the man himself. Duke got dinosaurs he can take apart and put together with a screwdriver and Theo got an animal themed bowling set along with books and candy.

After Santa gifts, we had the boys dig into some of the gifts we had gotten them.  We tried to go easy on gifts because we knew they would be spoiled rotten by family in Denver, but we couldn't resist a new Paw Patrol fire truck! It's been a hit ever since.

After we thoroughly enjoyed all the new goodies, and Theo cleaned up all the wrapping paper (his favorite activity of the week) we got dressed up to head to Dennis' grandpa's for Christmas dinner with the family.  Italian family means the most delicious Italian dinner and we ate our weight in rigatoni, sausage, meatballs, salad, and every dessert under the sun. Dennis' grandpa turns 95 this year so every chance we get to see him is so awesome for us and the boys.  We love Papa Canino!

We had two very full days of endless Christmas celebrations and it was wonderful. The boys loved seeing all of their family and we loved getting to catch up with everybody, snuggle new babies, and visit some of our favorite Denver spots.  I'll recap the rest of our week in Colorado in another post...for now we can officially bid adieu to Christmas 2018!


Pregnancy #3: Truth Talk

This post has been on my mind for a long time but I've struggled to sit down and actually write it. It's not full of funny stories, a birthday recap, or cute pictures of the babies... just my honest feelings and thoughts about this 3rd pregnancy and how damn hard it's been.  I share it only because I've found that it's the things that make us the most uncomfortable that are the most important to share...someone out there might need this post.  So I'll write it.  But please know, that I don't write it for sympathy or pity or worse, for someone to think that I'm not over the moon and grateful for this baby, because I absolutely am. It's just been a really hard pregnancy. And I haven't written about this pregnancy yet because I simply can't gloss it over and ignore the hard stuff.  But here we go...

I found out I was pregnant back in July when it was still really early. We had decided we were ready to start thinking about baby #3 and were both really excited that we got pregnant really quickly.  I typically find out around 3.5-4 weeks in because I'm religious about tracking my monthly cycles. My hormones and subsequent mood swings are like clockwork so it's nice to be able to anticipate the crazy times.  Anyway, I had the flu twice during the first couple months of the pregnancy on top of the worst nausea and morning sickness I've experienced thus far and it all started right around the 4-5 week mark...and I was still getting sick at 16+ weeks.  Each pregnancy has gotten worse in that way and while we have always talked about having 3 kids, part of the reason I feel so comfortable in knowing that our family is complete is that I legitimately don't think I could go through another pregnancy like this one. At least I have no desire to do so.

I would typically hold myself together through the day at work, pick the kids up from daycare, and then be sick immediately upon arriving home as well as most of the evening while taking care of the boys, occasionally making dinner, and counting the minutes until Dennis would get home so I could tap out for a bit.  But I obviously could never fully tap out because I have two little boys that also need their mama. Duke understood that mama wasn't feeling good and he was sweet as can be but he hadn't even turned 3 yet so the ability to remember that mama isn't feeling good just doesn't exist.

On top of the sickness, I have been insanely irritable and just plain angry.  I've had a really really hard time managing my anxiety and when it's at it's worst, it typically manifests through irritability, anger, and impatience. If you don't know me well, you're probably thankful for that at this point in the story ;) A few months after Theo was born, I went back on anxiety medication. I hadn't been on anything for probably 8+ years but I found that as my responsibilities in life grew, most obviously in the form of 2 children, I could not cope with my anxiety in the same way I had been for years. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder about 15 years ago and my ability to manage it on my own has fluctuated throughout those years.  I found that the medication I was on after Theo was so helpful. I finally felt like myself again and could enjoy my little family so much more when I wasn't constantly managing my brain.  Once I became pregnant, I had to stop the medication and can't resume until very late in my pregnancy or after baby #3 is here.  I had hoped that I would be able to manage as well as I had during my previous pregnancies but unfortunately, it's a different beast now.

I have struggled so much with personal guilt and straight-up mom guilt about all of this for months.  I am not nearly as patient with my boys as I wish I was. I yell more. I get so frustrated, I literally burst into tears. I am not a very nice wife. I'm not a great friend. I'm a negligent business owner. There are absolutely elements of depression that have always accompanied my anxiety and if no one else, I definitely open up to my doctor as well as Dennis about those feeling so he can help to gently encourage some normalcy and not let me get too bogged down in my own headspace.  The other thing that I continue to remind myself is that this is temporary.  My anxiety won't miraculously go away when I'm no longer pregnant, but I'll have more options for managing it.  Do I think life will be easier with 3 kids instead of 2? Absolutely not! Ha! But I hope that I can focus more on taking care of myself, when I'm not also dealing with unpredictable hormones and pregnancy discomfort.

Another thing I do to manage expectations? I focus on the things in my life that truly need my time and attention and I either outsource the rest {looking at housecleaning} or simply put things on the back burner.  I love my Rodan + Fields business, but when I don't feel like I can devote time or energy to it, I simply don't. And it's still there for me when I return.  I LOVE my blog, but when I can't muster up the energy to write a post, I simply don't.  The only expectations of me in those areas are the ones I place on myself so I choose not to have any when I know that I mentally can't manage it.  My babies, husband, day job, etc? Those things require my attention, love, time, and focus and I prioritize them accordingly.

When we got to see our sweet baby boy during our ultrasound appointment last week, I was immediately relieved that he is growing as he should be and moving around like crazy because I had hardly been feeling him at all. I think every pregnant mama has fears that something might be wrong, especially in the early months when there aren't clear kicks in the ribs to let you know baby is in there. I teared up on more than one occasion during those 90 minutes just imagining what those sweet first moments will be like when he's in our arms next Spring.  I am truly counting down the weeks!

Does this post make any sense? I'm honestly not sure it does but I hope that by being honest and vulnerable in this space, someone, somewhere finds a little peace that they are not alone. Pregnant or not, if you struggle with anxiety, you get it! Sometimes life is just really hard and battling mental illness just adds to the complexity.  Every person and situation is different... my situation has changed so much over the past 15 years that I don't expect to know what this will all look like 5 years down the road. I thought when I got off of medication 8 years ago, I'd never need it again.  Am I ashamed that I do? Nope. It's a fact of my life right now and quite frankly, I would be robbing myself and my family of who I am at my best if I didn't admit when I needed some help.  So I'll end this all by saying that I am so grateful for this growing baby in this ever-growing bump, but I cannot wait for him to be on the outside...18 weeks and counting little man!

Until next time, friends.


Duke Turns 3!

Last week MONTH (I wrote this weeks ago but never got pictures up!) on the 24th, my sweet first baby turned 3 years old! Duke has been so excited about his birthday coming up and loves to hold down his thumb and pinky to show people he's 3. He can say "three" as well, but showing them with the use of both hands is certainly the preference. It's adorable!

Side note: My sweet husband sent me flowers on Duke's birthday to celebrate the day I became a mom.  How thoughtful is that?!  Made me want to dig into the archives and read Duke's birth story again which you can find here and here. Enjoy!

We have created a fun little tradition of filling up the boys cribs with balloons on their birthdays so we were a little worried on what to do this year since Duke is no longer in a crib. He gets up sometimes in the middle of the night so I was hesitant to put them in his room after he was asleep and then have him trip over them in a middle of the night stumble. Dennis saved the day by getting all the balloons ready on Tuesday night and while Duke was slowing waking up, we had him hide under the covers and dumped all the balloons on top of his bed. He was THRILLED. As I had been explaining to him that it was his birthday a few minutes earlier, he kept asking "but where is it??" so being covered in balloons seemed to do the trick.

He came downstairs to a new Mickey Mouse table covered in art supplies and DONUTS...the highlight of any birthday.  He, Theo, and daddy sat at his table and had breakfast and I headed off to work.  At daycare, Duke got to eat cheeseburgers and French fries with all of his friends and he told anyone that would listen about the balloons in his bed.  My mom scooped him up from daycare a little early to go on a pre-dinner tractor ride with my dad.  Later, most of the family met up for dinner at our favorite dive-y fried chicken joint and topped the evening off with cupcakes and singing.

When we got home, Dennis headed to pool league, Theo went to bed and Duke got to stay up late with me and watch a movie.  He may or may not have ended up falling asleep in my bed and I didn't dare move him. He's getting so big, and special one on one snuggles with him were just what we needed to cap off the day!

On Sunday we had his big family party.  We haven't gotten into the world of friend parties yet and I'm hoping that's still a few years I wrong?!  While Duke and Theo napped, my decorating committee came over and covered the house in streamers and super heroes. We had decorations dangling from every can light and balloons everywhere.  The birthday boy woke up just as we finished and by then just about all of his guests had arrived.  He was so shy when I brought him downstairs but got more and more excited as he saw all of his favorite characters around the house.

Dennis made AMAZING homemade pasta sauce with rigatoni, salad, and garlic bread and we all ate until we were seriously stuffed. It's the best sauce he's ever made and it will certainly need to be made more this winter.  The whole house smelled divine.  After dinner, the birthday boy got to play before opening presents. His excitement was on point this year! He was so thrilled for each and every gift and made my parents day when he immediately recognized the tractor/trailer they bought him as being EXACTLY like Bampas. "Bampa! This where you put the corn in!" My sister Michelle got him all things Paw Patrol with the main event happening in February when we take him to Paw Patrol live! He wouldn't have a clue what that means right now but I am already counting down the days for it because he's going to freak out.  My sister Jen made him a super hero cape that he hasn't wanted to take off and it's the sweetest.  Superheroes are everything to our boy so getting to be one is basically the meaning of life to him. He got all sorts of other toys and gadgets and I've started hiding older toys in the basement so he can focus on the new stuff and I can gain a little sanity.

We ended the day with birthday cake, candles, ice cream, and singing.  The smile on his face in this picture means everything to me. He had the best day and just asked me last night if we can do it "just one more time"  which melts my heart. 3 is big time. 3 means preschool next fall.  3 means we actually have to finish potty training ;) (he's doing pretty well so far!). 3 is so much bigger than the nugget he was just yesterday.  

Happy Birthday Duke man!


Theodore Paul: 18 months!

My sweet and wild Theo bear is 18 months old! This boy has changed so much since he turned 1 and it's so fun to watch him grow. The first year of Theo's life he was quiet and observant. He would smile and laugh constantly, never really fussed unless he was hungry #hegetsitfromhismama, and he was just plain chill. I have to say that this made the transition from 1 to 2 so much easier than I imagined. He was a dream. 

All of the sudden when Theo turned 1, his personality exploded. He found his voice in screeches and yells {he still doesn't say much other than 'mama' but he'll get there}, and started to make himself known. He doesn't let his brother run the show without a bit of a fight, he is funny and absolutely LOVES being tickled.  Theo has always been a mama's boy, and his separation anxiety kicked in strong at 12 months.  It's definitely gotten better but now that he understands when I'm leaving, like for work every day as an example, he chases me down and squeezes my legs, pressing his little face against my thigh. I'd take him with me every day if I could!

Theo started walking at 16 months and absolutely took off once he got the hang of it. He still loves to be carried but running around at the park is most definitely his favorite activity. This boy can EAT more than any kid I've ever seen. He will literally eat all day long if you let him. And he doesn't care what it is. He is growing like a weed so clearly he needs the fuel but it's comical most days just how much he can put down.

I can't help but picture how much our lives will change again in 6 short months. When Theo was born, Duke was too little to really understand what was going on but now he's really interested. Theo on the other hand has no idea what's going on and is REAL jealous of the 2 other babies at daycare.  I'm more than a little anxious about how my sweet boy will handle being a big brother but I pray that he adjusts as well as Duke did! He is so sweet and loving that I just know he will do great, as long as I can figure out how to fit 3 nuggets on my lap at the same time ;)

I am so excited to see what sports Theo ends up liking as he gets bigger. He has a serious arm and loves to throw a ball, chase after it, and throw it again. OR get about 18 inches away from people and chuck it at them. Ha!  He has no idea how strong he is.  We're leaning towards a Thor costume this year because his grip is so intense, I think he could actually pick up the mythical hammer.  Duke is obsessed with the 'Hult' right now so he'll be a mean green fighting machine come Oct. 31.

The brother bond between these nuggets has gotten strong the past few months and they love to play together, make each other laugh, and inevitably turn innocent hugs into a full blown wrestling match.  I love seeing them together, watching just how excited they get when the other walks into the room, and I can't wait to watch them bring their newest brother or sister into their circle.  Siblings are the best!

That's it for now...I'm feeling extra emotional about the fact that I'll be posting Duke's 3 YEAR update next month so props to Theo for staying little ;)


Catching Up

Earlier this week I returned from 5 days of motivation, inspiration, exhaustion, and emotion.  AKA the Rodan + Fields convention.  This was my first convention and while I had heard nothing but great things about it, I was a little anxious about what to expect. To start, I've been so sick during this pregnancy that my biggest fear was that I would just be miserable the whole trip and sleeping in a room with 3 other people that would be subject to my illness.  THANKFULLY I started feeling better at the beginning of last week and have been on the up and up every since.

The next part that surprised me the most was how damn emotional I was the whole time.  The speakers and focus of the convention wasn't just about being business owners, but about US. It was about being the best people we can be, about being powerful and successful women, and chasing away our demons and insecurities. I kept coming to realizations that I haven't really let myself think about for fear of feeling like a big failure or worse, a fraud.  Every session hit home for me in a different way.  YES I'm passionate about my business and the heart behind this company. YES I want to provide a future of flexibility and freedom for my family. But what else? I want to blog more, I want to prioritize things in life that bring me JOY. I want to stop skipping out on time with girlfriends or feeling guilty about doing things for myself. I want to be a more present mother and wife. I want to do more by doing less of what doesn't matter.

We announced our 3rd pregnancy last week and the love we felt was absolutely amazing.  We are so excited about this third addition to our little family, and yes, it was very much planned.  I think people assume this was a surprise pregnancy since we have a not quite 3 year old and an 18 month old now but we always knew we wanted 3 kiddos and the timing was exactly right.  I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful that even though I've been insanely sick growing this human that he/she looks perfect and I am already picturing the day I get to snuggle him/her up and introduce them to the boys. 

Duke has been very interested in everything this go around- especially why mommy is so sick. He gets tummy aches too and tells me the baby in his belly is a sister named Piper. I never knew how fun it would be to have a kiddo that is so involved in the pregnancy since he was so young when I was pregnant with Theo. I love it! He forgets that he's not supposed to body slam me like he does his daddy but we're working on that.

Theo will be 18 months old next week and is starting to mark his place in the world instead of just passively observing from the sidelines. He is strong willed and funny and I can't wait for him to start talking.  He runs all over the place, still has the best laugh, and melts my heart on a daily basis when he just needs snuggles.  He put his milk cup in my bag this morning and gave me the sweetest smile like "I'm coming too, right mom?!".

Dennis did an excellent job holding down the fort while I was gone and I always find that we appreciate each other even more when one of us has to do everything solo.  Love you hubs!

I want to check in this space more often, even just for quick updates, and keep my creative juices flowing. Here's hoping my September resolution holds strong! ;)

Happy Friday!

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