….And then there were 5! (August 13, 2017)

What a year! Here we are, another year another Nihill! Little brother will be arriving at the end of October and the tribe is excited!

Road Trip of Life!

Its been an amazing year! Filled with the kids meeting new friends, new adventures including DISNEY! and the beginning of the back yard renovation!! The kids are growing up so fast and life is getting a little crazy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Disney was an interesting chapter in building the memories in the Nihill history book. 2 of us, 4 of them and all of the luggage and everything else  that goes along with a Disney adventure! We chose to surprise the kids the morning we were leaving, which entailed waking up at 4:30am. Let’s just say the reception was less than optimal! Carmella wanted to leave later – because she was just too tired to leave for Disney, Alexa was excited, and Gabs and Jack curled up on the couch together and went to sleep! After piling all of the kids and luggage in the limo with our driver who was not a morning person – or a kid person – we were under way! I’m sure there are youtube videos circling of us getting the two double strollers, 2 large suitcases, all of the carry-ons and the kids through the airport to our gate. After conquering the security area we were in! and the kids were finally waking up! We board the plane and Bill and I divide and conquer the littles. Jack comes with me and Gabs with him. Jack slept for the first 10 minutes and then woke up in time for snacks. He decided to reach in and grab a handful – and then licked them right away. Sorry – can’t really hand those back to the stewardess – almost like he knew and he wanted a stash of chips. We landed and headed to our magical bus ride which would whisk us away to our hotel (after an 1 1/2 hour wait – who knew there would even be a wait! not us ) but after finally getting on the bus we head to our hotel – which was so perfect for us in all aspects! The days in the parks were crazy and busy but so fun! The kids brought back more memories that I even knew they had. I always thought a Disney trip would be a one and done for us – though now I can’t wait to go back :)

Sister love!
Nihill’s Take on Disney December 2016!

It was also Carmella’s first year of cheerleading! She has found a sport that she loves and I am so excited!! This year we are onto a competition team – woohoo!

Go Titans!

We also had our first family pictures taken – which came out incredible thanks to a close family friend – little did we know that we would eventually have one more Nihill in the mix (October 2017 – fast approaching!).I look at this picture and realize how fast the time is going. I see the baby faces captured and look into the faces of the kids now seeing how they have changed. I see the excitement and happiness of the future ahead. I look forward to building all of the memories with all of our friends – both current and future. I see the potential stories in our future that Bill and I will one day share with our grandkids. I think of all of the craziness of today and wouldn’t change a thing. We always wanted a big family and never realized the strong bonds that would form between the kids. On a daily basis we hear the same story lines – you have your hands full, here comes the team, you finally got your boy, etc. And at this point I have learned to block out these comments. I lean on the happy memories, and I am so grateful I have the best husband to travel on this adventure with. I appreciate how lucky I am and how we have built a strong little family. Stay tuned for the next adventures in store for the Nihill tribe!

Family Photo October 2016

The School Bell Rings! (September 19, 2016)

It is with mixed emotions that people across the country send their children back to school. Some are starting school for the first time, others will be starting school for the last time. And some are in the middle ground with years ahead and years behind them!

The Nihill Clan is back to school!

Carmella is starting up first grade in the school that she started preschool in 3 years ago – how has time gone by so fast!!!!

Carmella 1st day of 1st Grade
carmella cheer 4

With school starting new challenges are arising like how to get her to eat lunch – buying lunch, bringing lunch or a combo of the two. There are also the challenges of balancing her schedule of schoolwork with cheerleading, girl scouts and then her sisters activities. The year has started off great so far! She has an amazing teacher and a great group of friends – though she is missing some she left behind last year. Carmella has found her “thing” – cheerleading!

Carmella Cheer! 2016

She loves it! She practices  day and night and even has her sisters and Jack doing the right moves.

Jack cheerleading!
lexa 1st day prek2

Alexa is back to preschool for the second year and so excited to see her old friends and make some new friends. The summer was complete with a boat cruise with her preschool friends and families! She loves school and LOVES seeing her friends every day!

gabby and jack

Gabby and Jack are spending some quality bonding time together and Gabby is teaching Jack all of her tricks :/ Good, bad and otherwise…. Gabby has come into her own and is starting to get herself ready for preschool next year. With two bigger sisters she only has motivation to learn from the best!

The Last Firsts (August 8, 2016)

The time has come and Bill and I are experiencing our last firsts and with it brings a range of emotions. The last first time of hearing your own baby laugh for the first time. Not a gas giggle but a big, belly laugh. The last time of watching your baby learn how to move their hands and fingers – and be amazed by seeing that they control how their fingers work. The last time of watching them work their fingers in a way to bring a tiny crumb of bread from their tray to their mouth. Seeing them recognize you when you come to pick them up – the legs wiggling trying to get free to rush into your arms.

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While it is sad knowing that Jack is our last and we will no longer be experiencing certain baby things, it is exciting to look ahead to the future! A future that is diaper free and baby food free – (that stuff stains everything)! Granted I’m sure we will be dealing with other challenges but diaper free seems huge at this point! Not only the $$$ savings, but just the simple idea of no longer having to worry about changing everyone before leaving. Packing a diaper bag complete with extra outfits and a few sources of entertainment and finally getting the baby into the car seat, only to have an immediate last minute required diaper change arise.

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I am looking ahead to the future – enjoying the experiences now, and planning ahead when the kids are a little older. Adventuring on vacation should be slightly easier and destinations further away will become a reality. California will once again become a popular vacation spot, instead of Storyland and Santa’s Village, and things will continue to change and move ahead. The beach will become an easy feat vs. a complex fieldtrip which needs days of planning and packing. Going out to eat will consist of me just cutting up my own food – and maybe eating while it is still warm :)

After spending an evening with Lexa’s preschool class on an ice cream cruise, I realized how lucky we are as parents. We have a great set of kids and I hope they continue to build the bond between all of them. They all have some great friends and have flourished in the pre-school program  and their outside activities- a BIG thanks to everyone that came out tonight! As we move down this road of life I look forward to seeing each our children develop into their own beings. Our kids definitely have their moments and know what pushes each others buttons, but in the same way they have an unbreakable bond. Running to each other’s aid when one of them gets hurt or needs help, and taking care of their little brother  to make sure he is well fed and entertained :) .

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And while there will be plenty of time for us to enjoy moving past the baby stage, for now I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. The midnight wake ups from Jack (or let’s be honest, midnight visits  – since most of the time we haven’t gone to bed yet) will be seen as a special mommy and Jack snuggle time. Tonight he woke up mid-post and while typically his binky does the trick, tonight he needed a little more. As I picked him up out of his bed and snuggled him close, he instantly relaxed and snuggled back into me. His little fingers grasping my shirt, holding on for dear life. His other hand wrapping itself around one of my fingers, and with a content sigh of relief he closed his eyes and went back to dreamland. I held him for a few minutes. Probably a few minutes more that I usually would, just to enjoy the moment. To much of life is spent rushing around to either get somewhere or to get the house in perfect order or to get the yard looking immaculate. The ability to sit and enjoy the current moment is something that is rare and something I would love to do more often/am working on changing. There will be plenty of time to clean the house and tend to the yard – but the kids are only young once.Think about what they will remember. You taking an hour to read or play with them, or taking an hour to get the dishes put away? After slowly placing him back into his crib and watching him roll over to pull up his blanket, it struck me that he will be 1 in a couple of short months! Time is flying by and we need to enjoy all of the moments we have – as good or crazy as they may be!

Parenting is a lifetime commitment, not something that ends when they are 18. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and I am looking forward to seeing all of the developments and changes that our family will go through as everyone is growing up. I also look forward to being there for them. Not til their just 18 or just 21, but always!! Support through the good time and tough times and making the most of what life has to offer!

Can you carry my hand, mommy? (August 3, 2016)

Well here we are – its been embarrassingly long since I have written and it makes me sad that some of the memories I intended to memorialize here will be a distant thought on the road of life. However onward and upward and here’s to catching the rest of the them (well most of them)!

Life has been so crazy over the past few years. We added a couple more Nihill’s (Gabs and Jack) to bring us to 6! It’s not easy by any means but it is our life and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The girls adore their new brother and wait on him hand and foot, constantly. The little guy is getting spoiled already!

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The other day when walking up the stairs to bed with Gabby (who is 2 1/2 – when did that happen?), she asked me to carry her hand. Not her (which is usually the case) or her water (she is the most hydrated kid I know!) but her hand. Her little fingers held on tight as if she might slip down the stairs, and for those of you who know her in person she is super strong, mentally and physically (she was born with abs of steel), she very independent and she loves her space. But…. She knew she was tired and she knew to ask for help and she wasn’t afraid of asking for help. One of the most important things we want to instill in our kids is the ability to always ask for help without any judgement being passed and knowing that Bill and I will always be there for them. No matter what age you are – everyone needs help. And some people need more encouragement to ask for help than others.

The kids are growing like weeds – I can’t believe time is moving so fast! Carmella is wrapping up Kindergarten. The growth she has shown is amazing – reading and writing, keeping a journal and math problems that she can do in her head!

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Lexa is wrapping up year one of preschool and thanks to Carmella’s teaching she knows how to write her name, read basic words and understands basic concepts of math. Gabs has taken on the role of reading to Jack. She may not know how to read the words but she has become very creative when using the pictures to tell her what is going on .

It was also an exciting month as we went on our first “family vacation” to the Great North. We went to Storyland and Santa’s Village which was perfect for the kids! Storyland had a bunch of fun rides and activities for the kids, and Carmella and Lexa even got to go on a few of the big kid rides. Though we discovered Carmella loves water rides and Lexa not so much. Funny how different they can be. Carmella went on her first real roller coaster, the Roarosauraus but I don’t think she was impressed. She’d rather go for another ride around in the water boats. Lexa and Gabs liked driving the old cars – Gabs took her role so seriously! Santa’s Village was the Nihill fav. Lots of rides and Christmas stuff ( who doesn’t love Christmas?) and even real reindeer! The kids graduated elf school by meeting all of their elf friends along the way between rides. The final day of vacation we decided last minute to conquer Mt. Washington. Thank god Bill was driving – taking the Suburban up there was no easy feat. The kids had a blast looking at the view and we even got a family photo at the sign (sorry Jack! Next time for you). Now onto planning our next vacation – wherever that may lead! Carmella voted for Canada and Lexa wants New York – we shall see!

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Back to the Nest! (June 5, 2015)

What's better than sister hugs?

Well, I’m ashamed to say that this is at least the tenth time I have sat down to write my first post. My first post since my not so new job, the latest addition to the Nihill family, and the loss of a matriarch of our family! Life gets busy and while that is no excuse for the lack of memories documented over the past couple of years and it is my inspiration for coming back! So many things have happened including Gabby’s 1st birthday! The addition to one more in the clan has without a doubt added chaos to the Nihill house – but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Gabby meeting her sisters for the first time!

Gabby meeting her sisters for the first time!

Gabby’s entrance into the world was exactly like her personality. Everything was going great until a few weeks before her due date she decided to flip to breech. And while I appreciated the relief of having her off my sciatic nerve, a new stress arose! I was given some time to try all of the tricks in the book with regards to flipping babies – and I could feel her flip , and then flip right back….. finally came the talk of trying a version and then holding her in place for an induction. My goal was to go natural again so this was the next best thing! The day of the version came and I just had a feeling something was not going to flow the right way. Soon enough I would realize how right I was. 10 minutes into the version I was rushed in for an emergency c-section and knocked out cold as Gabby’s heart rate dropped drastically and everyone yelled “Code White”. Poor Bill barely made it into the operating room to see her born – they really should make scrubs a bit easier to tie up…. A c-section was something like I had never experienced before. Having the other two natural – this was a whole new ball game. I couldn’t just get up and take a shower – I was lucky if I could sit up in bed. The next day was Thanksgiving so Gabby and I celebrated with Bill while the girls got a real dinner at my parent’s followed by dessert with Bill at his aunt’s house (Thank you for thinking of them!). Thanksgiving in the hospital is not really the same but I was so thankful we had Gabby to celebrate. While I don’t have all of the gory details, it is likely that she may not have made it through a natural birth as the cord was wrapped around her neck – based on her personality you would never know her struggle!

The first few weeks home were crazy – trying to care for a newborn after major surgery is hard! Especially when you are accompanied by 2 slightly needy toddlers. SO grateful for all of the help I got from the daddy of the year! Life would have been so much harder without my nap nanny. I am glad that I stocked up on a second one before they went out of business!  Gabby slept in hers the first 10 weeks of life and still rests (because I can’t call them naps since they are only 15-30 minutes long) in it!

Time went on and I finally starting feeling better. We started getting into a routine and then Hand, Foot, Mouth struck the house. This is one of the most disgusting things I have seen – it comes with a vengeance and lasts forever. Alexa got it the worst, along with Bill (poor guy) and then Carmella got it but not as bad. After getting everyone back from that it was time to return to work. I thought it was going to be easier but its just as hard with the third if not harder – because now the older two know what it means when mommy has to go back to work. Luckily we quickly fell into a routine, Gabby is eating great and growing like a weed! Though of course she takes after Carmella with her sleeping so I am lucky when she sleeps 4 hours at a stretch.

gabs

Fast forward and here we are! Carmella is in her second year of preschool, having her first boy crush at school and acting like a 15 year old instead of the 5 year old that she should be. Lexa is thriving, dying to go to school and is pretty much happy all of the time. She’s definitely got a bit of daddy’s sense of humor. Gabby got daddy’s facial expressions and has them down to a T and now that her personality has started to shine through she is definitely his mini me. While she is a snuggle bug when she wants to be she definitely can show her wild side. Anything on the floor is fair game for a snack – including the innocent spider that was walking by one day (yes I HATE spiders and yes it had to be pulled out of her mouth!) She loves her snacks and is definitely the biggest daddy’s girl by far !!

Halloween was a great adventure this year! We had a renaissance queen and her princess along with their owl. Carmella and Lexa really got into it this year – Lexa of course was in love with the candy and Carmella was more in love with the way she looked parading through the neighborhood. Seriously they couldn’t be more opposite but they get along so well (most of the time!).

November was crazy. Carmella and Gabby fell victim to the first ear infections of the season and of course the medicine initially prescribed didn’t work for either one. I think we need to apply for frequent flier points at the doctors.

Christmas 2014!

Enough of the negative! Gabby is growing like crazy and developing physically faster than the other two in her hopes to be able to keep up with them.  She loves table food and is slowly turning away from her baby food to crackers (which she loudly yells for in the kitchen when she’s hungry), pizza, pasta, bread, bagels, steamed carrots, soup, mac and cheese and the occasional spider (Yes, and not one the ones with skinny little legs, a bit thick spider that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – something about him looked tasty and she picked him up and scooped him into her mouth before Bill or I could stop her. Bill got the joyous task of removing the dead spider from her mouth while she was crying because we wouldn’t let her eat it. That will turn into one of “those” stories that we will look back on….). She also likes grazing on any stray crumb or dirt clump that she happens upon in her travels and sometimes the occasional shoe.  She mastered the art of climbing up the stairs – a big full set of stairs – at 11 months and then easily defeated (aka climbed over ) the baby gate that was put up top keep her contained from any more explorations on the stairs. The kitchen cabinets/lazy susan’s are also a fun adventure – I think we may actually have to start baby proofing the house for Gabby!

She has also reached some amazing milestones with her sisters’ help! She can play catch (and throws the ball back to them), she has learned all sorts of words like cracker, dad, mom, Lexa , Lella, she sings let it go with her sisters – and while she may not sing the words she tries hard to get the tune :)

Time is flying by way too fast. Life just gets faster and faster and I am looking forward to this crazy ride!

It is also a very exciting time in Nihill house – I have gone back into the World of all things Green! I have missed my Chartreuse Products, and while I definitely have been busy, I missed the products and educating people about leading a greener life. After a long hard search I have finally settled on the company that I want to represent to all of my old customers and new customers!  Green tip of the day will be back! Facebook tips and contests will be back! Since I am now chasing 3 around the house I will have to make some adjustments in my time but I will be sure to share all of my information with you! www.myceladonroad.com/thegreenerme .

A family of.....6!

March and April were a period of mixed emotions in the Nihill house. At the end of March we announced that we were expecting Baby Nihill #4! So exciting as Gabby will now have her partner in crime and Carmella and Lexa can play mother hen to one more sibling.

Shortly after we announced that we were expecting Bill’s uncle passed away who was a huge influence in his life. He was his mentor with regards to painting and really stepped in when Bill’s dad passed away right after we graduated high school. These events in life are never easy, especially when they are unexpected.

Noni with the girls on Mother's Day 2014

A few weeks later I received the news that my Noni (a true Italian grandmother in every sense of the word) had passed away. Again it was a day with mixed emotions as I received a phone call within the hour of learning about Noni with the test results for the baby. Everything came back great and with the shocking news that we were having a boy! I almost fell out of my chair – we have all girls so we were thinking it was girl #4, we even had girl names! The next few days were a blur and then we had the service for Noni. To make sure everything was the way she wanted it she had gone a few years prior to plan everything out – part of it was to make it easier on everyone but I think she really wanted to be sure that everything was exactly the way she wanted it. Out of all my grandparents I was the closest to Noni and am so grateful for the time that we did spend together.  Beach days were always fun – getting there before the parking ticket people got it so we always got free parking & listening to Noni’s commentary on everyone (yes pretty much everyone that walked by) and having a conversation that most people never imagine having with their grandmother. Her house was always a welcoming place – instantly on walking in you could smell the treat of the day – whether it be sauce (and gnocchi’s my personal favorite), cheesecake, half-moon cookies or any other recipe she would be trying out. Bill was often her guinea pig for her new creations and often times they were winners. Her house was always open whether stopping by for a quick visit, staying for lunch or staying overnight. As a young kid I remember staying over numerous times. Having English muffin pizzas for breakfast followed by a huge Italian feast for lunch and a “snack” of the super huge sized Friendly’s sundae with any topping we wanted.  A few hours later it was back for dinner – which would be another elaborate Italian meal. I look back on these memories fondly and realize that I want to create my own similar memories with my grandchildren one day. She was never one to hold back on her opinions, and maybe that was why we got along so well. She was always honest with her opinions but had a certain way of saying it to you that the words didn’t sound as harsh as what she was actually saying. One of my strongest memories of her would be the day she took me shopping around Easter time. We happened upon an open chocolate Easter bunny in the aisle which she promptly helped herself to. When I asked what she was doing she responded that the store couldn’t sell it and it was just going to be thrown away so why not eat it.  I am so glad that my oldest 3 kids got to meet her and that Carmella and Lexa had the opportunity to form a bond with her. She was an amazing woman. As sad as it is knowing that she will never meet our baby boy, it is a blessing that she is no longer suffering and she has now joined my grandfather who I’m sure was waiting for her.

It's a boy!

And to end on a happy note – we have started working on baby stuff! First step is to find a boy name that we LOVE as we never had to think about a boy name before :) and second step is to try to clean out some of the pink and animal print for the incoming blue! Lexa is excited for the blue as it’s her favorite color too, and Carmella is just excited to have another baby in the house (though she can’t understand why he is the last!) and Gabby will be interesting to watch….

That is the update for now – hard to catch up on a couple of years in a few paragraphs but on to documenting new experiences and memories and I’m sure we’ll catch up on some that we have missed in the past too :) Stay tuned…..

Change, Change, Change (January 4, 2013)

Well here we are again and this time it has been seven months. “Two kids” excuse definitely is not flying anymore. By this time we should have a routine!

I have to admit that I am writing this post with a heavy heart tonight. Bill and I went to the wake of a dear friend’s brother – which is always hard, but when it is someone so young around the holidays and from an accident – it makes it so much worse. While our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family, I can’t help but appreciate the little things in life, and the people that matter most. The kids are getting extra hugs and things that normally would be an everyday occurrence are appreciated more. As a mother I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child and as a sister I can’t imagine the pain of losing a brother. Our thoughts are with the Bryan family during this difficult time – in memory of William Bryan III.

Realizing that I have seven months to cover we may need to take more than one post. SO many things have changed! Alexa is now my big girl! Eating pizza and bread and just about walking at 10 months. She is chatting up a storm which I am sure her sister will love when they can have a conversation. Crawling at 6 months meant going as fast as possible with an outstretched finger towards the light sockets. Thanks to our electrician, the entire bottom floor and the kid’s rooms have been outfitted with child proof sockets! Carmella is the doting big sister. Always watching Alexa and making sure she doesn’t get into trouble. Although she did try to lure her up the stairs by saying “Come here little girl, you can do it”. hmmmmmm

The other big news is our new house. So much more space. Bill has his own office, and by that I mean he is no longer working in the middle of the living room – a win for everyone! And Bill and I have turned into soon to be landlords. Thanks to the wonderful economy we are stuck, I mean we are lucky to have, a beautiful 2 bedroom townhouse with an attached garage. Renting during the holiday season has been an adventure – one I hope is coming to an end soon….

Also we have our first girl’s vacation this summer! Nonna, mommy, Carmella and Alexa headed off to Plymouth to give daddy some time to paint the old house. Everyone behaved themselves and no sleeping issues, always a plus! Right after that vacation is when the house hunt/purchase went full swing. For those of you who have packed and moved with two kids – I give you so much credit; it is one of the hardest things to do. I’m not talking about just physically moving from one house to another, but the actual task of packing as fast as you can before a little hand reaches into that box and starts to explore the contents of each one. Never mind the unpacking once you get to the new house. My new outlook on this is if you have two kids or more – moving is likely not worth it! Of course now that we are settled I will admit I am loving my new house!

Christmas also came and went so quickly this year. Santa spoiled the girls with a train set and a baby doll crib which has turned the supposed to be living room into Play Room #2. And we adopted two Elf on the Shelf – Vanilla and George, silly boys they were. Hiding in stockings, hanging on the ceiling and swinging on the lights.

Unfortunately the week between Christmas and New Year’s both girls were sick with the cough that everyone else seems to have. New Year’s Eve we celebrated with the cousins for dinner. It was the first time they actually played together and the adults could sit and have a conversation! Progress! And it was the first year that Carmella fell asleep BEFORE the ball dropped on TV. It’s also the year for the one resolution that I am sticking to. My resolution is to not make excuses. Seems simple enough though it is harder then it seems. Realizing that the reason I don’t have time to do something is because I made time to do something else instead. No one’s fault but my own! What it has shown me is that I need to use my time wisely and make time for the important things that matter. Sometimes play time on the train table or in the princess tent is a bit more important then unpacking……

My New Perfect (June 3, 2012)

With Two Kids, Perfection is Gone, but Life is Better. (June 3, 2012)

Wow! Another two months have flown by and I still haven’t posted. I could tell you that I have been busy – busy with the kids, the house work, going back to work etc., but let’s just use the phrase we all love so much and move on, “I have two kids!” Alexa is doing amazing and big sister Carmella has been a “big help” to us. Carmella, binky fiend that she is, is determined to make Alexa one too. Every time Alexa cries Carmella’s solution is binky, binky, binky!

My Dad's 60th birthday owl cake
Carmella with baby owl at her 2nd birthday party.

On May 6th, also my dad’s 60th birthday and he graciously let us borrow his day, we had Alexa’s christening and Carmella’s 2nd birthday party. Alexa wore the same dress as Carmella and was joined by her godparents Jenna and Brian. Back at the birthday/christening celebration, Grandpa scored some points with the kids by bringing along one of his friends, a foster baby great horned owl that was in his care. The kids had a blast, and it is probably something the owl will never forget either as he makes his way back into the wild ;).

Alexa at 3 months old.

During these first few months of Alexa’s life, Bill and I have also been reminded of the joys of newborns. Changing them 15+ times a day, getting up all hours of the night – though when you are nursing daddy gets a free pass, and not being able to go out for an extended period of time because without fail they will need to eat and be changed.

The nights (and days) of when they cry and no matter how many things you try they just aren’t happy are forgotten as soon as you get an unintentional hug from them or see them sleeping peacefully in your arms with the occasional smile brushing across their face followed sometimes by a laugh. At that point you forget the hard times, the stress in your life and bask in the feeling of gratefulness for your bundle of joy.

Alexa does her best Angus Young impersonation.
Carmella shows off her new umbrella in the rain (May 2012).

I am lucky to be able to have taken advantage of maternity leave, but 12 weeks never feels like enough. During leave Carmella got to spend some quality mommy time and seems to have picked up some habits including wanting to go clothes shopping, shoe shopping, and of course to Starbucks to get mommy’s decaf mocha and Carmella’s chocolate donut. Not to mention that she can’t leave the house without her purse. She is truly a mini me – sorry daddy!

I also got to meet and learn the personality of my sweet baby girl Alexa. While she may be better about going to sleep at bedtime, I don’t think she will have any trouble standing up to her big sister. She is getting big so fast – on her way to 9 month clothes already based on her height – and for those of you that know us we don’t have height on either side. This is also her first night in the crib!! While she looks so tiny in the big, huge crib, it is also the most peaceful she has slept. She is so long that the bassinette just isn’t practical and she seems to love her new bed. We also mastered our first out to eat experience with both of the girls with no issues! Carmella was in heaven as she loves going out to eat and Alexa decided to sleep through the entire meal.

Carmella’s big trip into the city.

Carmella’s big trip into the city.

Now that the twelve weeks is over I am back at work again. For a nursing mom this is never easy but we take our pumps to work with us and do what needs to be done. As is the reality for most families, we have two working parents. The bills for college are easily going to be hundreds of thousands potentially by the time they go and we want to give them every advantage possible. Carmella has started learning the value of money by feeding her piggy bank and learning about what things cost. While she may want to constantly go shopping for clothes, shoes and toys, she also told me that she has to get a job to make some money so I think she is starting to understand that in order to get what you want you have to work for it. Step two is teaching her that life isn’t all about money, working or possessions and that the most important thing is family and being happy.

One lesson I am working on for myself is learning that nothing is perfect and you need to live in today instead of living for the future all of the time. I am also learning on how to let go of perfection. Ok, so not let go of perfection but how to change my perception of perfection.

The reality of having to budget my time at home by maximizing the time with my hubby and the girls means that sometimes the house is not always as neat as it should be, the laundry isn’t always folded right away and the dishes – well nothing bad is going to happen if the dishes sit in the sink overnight either. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating chaos or a messy house, but I am learning that perfect is sometimes just having dinner with the girls, getting them through tubby time and then snuggling down for the night in our PJ’s watching Carmella put on a show or introducing Alexa to a new toy. And with this new perfect comes a sense of extreme happiness and the realization of how lucky I am to have the life that I do.

On those tough days at work, I will look at the pictures decorating my office and remind myself of why I am here and what I have waiting for me at home.

Carmella gives Alexa a smooch. This is what makes it all worth it!

A book that has been very interesting and eye opening is Good Enough is the New Perfect by Becky Gillespie and Hollee Temple. It explains well the concept of perfect and shows that perfection varies by person and situation, because you may not think you have things perfect, you need to step back and see what it is you do have, and you will be surprised at just how perfect that is.

A Time for Celebration and Remembrance… (April 8, 2012)

Ah yes, the life of a busy mom. In my downtime of waiting for the Easter bunny to arrive I thought it was time to finally post. I now join the rank of moms that use the “I have two kids” line not as an excuse but as a reality as to why I will likely be late to wherever it is that we have to go. I don’t want it to be that way and pre-kids I was always the early one. But someone always needs to eat or be changed literally as we go to the car.

We welcome Alexa Torrey Nihill, born March 1st!

Let’s go back for a minute since it’s been so long.  Alexa Torrey was born March 1st, at 11:43pm weighing 9 pounds and measuring 20.25 inches. She was a good two weeks late and the eviction notice had to be posted by my midwife breaking my water! Perhaps too much information but that’s how labor started (along with a little Pitocin). My labor/delivery was much faster this time (thank you Alexa!) and after heavy labor of 5 hours and pushing for 25 minutes Alexa was born. In some ways she is much easier – as in she likes to sleep! Though she also likes to eat…. She will think nothing of nursing until she has had everything possible and then drinking another 4 oz or so on top of that! Gone are my worries of having to pump in front of Carmella and now I have the worries of when can I pump when Alexa isn’t going to need to eat! At our two week visit she had put on 2 pounds and grew an inch – will she be the tall one in the family?

Carmella, who had been staying with my parents for the days I was in the hospital, was the first one I wanted to see as a visitor. I couldn’t wait to see her reaction and also to see if we needed to build a positive relationship between the girls. The first meeting went great and has been awesome since! Carmella knew right away that the baby was Alexa and wanted to see her and touch her and even help hold her. She has been the biggest help with Alexa – sometimes more help than mommy needs :) She always greets Lexa (Carmella decided to drop the A for her nickname) with a huge smile and kiss and hug in the morning. You can just tell she can’t wait until Lexa is a bit more mobile and able to play. Until then Carmella is content with bringing Lexa all of her toys – sometimes all at once, helping her when her binky falls out, helping to feed her, and most importantly telling Bill or I when she I crying and making sure one of us comes immediately.

We welcome Alexa Torrey Nihill, born March 1st!

For our first big adventure out the double stroller needed to be put together. We put it off due to lack of time and before we knew it there I was, needing it. After putting it together (3 hours later!) and hauling it to the car we were finally on our way. Little did I know, driving a double stroller feels a bit like driving a school bus on the sidewalk. And to my surprise people do not get out of the way. In the beginning I was going around people. Then, and for those of you that know me this isn’t a surprise, I got tired of it. Here I was the one with the double stroller and two kids! These people could move aside and did not have to walk side by side on the sidewalk as we passed.

In Memory of Leanna Belocas: Please support Leanna’s Legacy!

And while March was filled with celebration of Alexa, the beginning of April always starts off as a time of remembrance for the Nihill family. We lost our niece to SIDS 13 years ago this year and it has always been a time of reflection for me – aching with sadness for my sister in law and her family, as well as all of my friends and family that have angels lost to miscarriage, as I can’t imagine the pain of having to go through that and I am so thankful for my girls and two nieces. It’s times like these where you really take a step back and realize that while life isn’t perfect, you need to live each day as fully as possible as no one knows what tomorrow holds.

And while there is a lot of speculation as to why SIDS occurs, there is also a lack of information out there for people. Each year my sister in law has planned an event in memory of her daughter and donated the funds to the Mass Center for SIDS http://www.bmc.org/pediatrics-MA-SIDS.htm . Leanna’s Legacy auction fundraiser this year will take place in Kingston, MA at the Hilltop Club May 4, 2012 from 7-midnight with tickets $20 in advance and $25 at the door.  Donations are also graciously accepted. The funds raised from this night of remembrance will be donated to the center which funds research regarding SIDS along with providing resources for bereavement in deaths related to SIDS. These services were indispensable to my sister in law and her family and critical for any family dealing with this type of loss. To get more information on the event please visit: http://leannatbelocas.com/

Alexa enjoys mat time.

After taking the time for this remembrance we will be celebrating Carmella’s second birthday! Seriously, where does the time go??? I feel like I was just on maternity leave with her, and now her personality is shining through strongly. I think Bill and I are going to have our hands full with this little girl – and with her accents and phrases (“Oh my GOD!”; “WHAT??”) she belongs on Real Housewives of New Jersey (and no, she has never seen the show)! Little Einsteins is the theme, though she will be sharing the day with celebrating her sister’s christening too. I see a lot of cute pictures coming out of that day with the two of them dressed up!

Well it’s off to bed to make sure we leave time for the Easter Bunny to visit and to planning a bit more of this party (hopefully a vacation, too)!

Happy Easter!

My Valentine’s Day Tribute (February 16, 2012)

So in something that is totally unlike me I am going to dedicate this post. I have never been a Valentine’s day girl and I’m not one to be mushy or really expose the soul. But I do believe that we all should be treated special every day of the year and not just on one day. With all the commercialization of the holiday it really takes away from the true message. Instead of saying “I love you” with overpriced flowers, an expensive card and dinner (which most likely was premade to some degree due to the high volumes of people in the restaurants), and the always popular box of chocolates, take some time to think what your significant other would value the most.

Carmella’s first haircut – February 2012.

As I sit here writing, I think in our 13 years together we may have celebrated Valentine’s day a few times in the beginning. More out of obligation to the “holiday” then anything else. I finally broke the ice how I truly felt about Valentine’s day and he admittedly felt the same way! Why spend so much money on one day when there are other things we wanted to put our money towards.

During the past 13 years we have shared so many experiences! Numerous concerts (and memorable events at each one!), vacations all over the country – again each with their special story, including that time in Vegas that someone never checked out of our room and we walked in on them, well, no need for details but you get the idea-we got a free upgrade for that one!, and just enjoying the time with each other. Vacations were a huge part of who we were and what we wanted to do. We knew we wanted to do something big, and started saving, because as you know a college students salary is not exactly 6 figures. After graduating college we set off on our first cross country trip which was more eye opening than anything I could have imagined! Sure there are pleny of pictures of National Parks and special places we wanted to visit but until you are there in person you can never truly understand the full amazement of standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon or being captivated by the Grand Tetons. We met and fell in love with California, which we continued to visit twice a year for two weeks at a time until 2009. Funny how kids change things and yet you wouldn’t want anything else.

The next big trip was our cross country honeymoon trip. Over two months of just us, the car and the open road. We saw the places that we missed the first time around, and of course visited the places that we fell in love with the first time. Some family and friends thought we were crazy for choosing this kind of trip instead of visiting a tropical island and lazing on the beach for two weeks. But in fairness to us we did make it to Key West which is tropical enough for me!

The third big trip was our 1/2 cross country trip which came about by mistake. Who ends up mistakenly driving home cross country you may ask? People that buy too much wine in Napa and realize that to pack and ship the wine back will cost four times more that renting a car and driving back. We had already done it 2 times, what’s another :). Although it wasn’t a trip for sightseeing, we made it home in 3 1/2 days and lost only one bottle of wine!

Sure I miss those times and the fact that vacation is now considered either a 3 day weekend at home or a few days in Vermont is very different than what we were used to. But while we are both anxiously awaiting the day our girls are old enough to fly (or even go for a road trip) to California, we are enjoying the memories we are creating now. Of course most of our memorable events now are based on Carmella’s reaction or what she says instead of things happening to us, like when someone stole the air conditioner from the B & B we were staying at the night before. And concerts have taken a back seat for me now, just due to being pregnant and needing to be home to babysit. But soon enough both of them will be old enough to be left and off we will go!

This past year has been challenging based on my new job and the hours of a CPA along with being married to someone that has co-founded a website and has been working on it for over 6 months now. There are days we are ships passing in the night – me getting up at 4:15am and not getting home until 6:30pm and him shifting gears to work during the day on his business and starting to work on the website at 6:30pm and not getting to bed until 4am. It’s not ideal but its what works for us for now considering we have two college funds to save up for. But we also know that it won’t be forever and we would rather make these sacrifices now while they are young so we can enjoy more carefree time when they are older.

Carmella in a blanket when she was first born at a few weeks old.

None of these are things that I would change if I could. And having someone who understands that these are the things that truly matter – not one day, but every day events is hard to come by. It’s also why in my mind Valentine’s day is a fake “holiday” if you would like to call it that. Sure you can buy flowers and chocolates and go out to dinner, but is that what truly matters? To some people, sure. For me it just doesn’t cut it – you need to have something truly personal and not have it limited to one day during the year. I would rather have a year of happiness than a single day of commercialized happiness.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, however you may celebrate it. And to Bill, thanks for another amazing year. You are truly and incredible dad and husband and we love you! And yes, I know you are waiting for me to gift you a post for www.zujava.com . Stay tuned – its in the works, my Valentine’s gift to you!

10 Months Pregnant and Counting… (February 12, 2012)

Well here it is. A week and a 1/2 after my due date and no Baby Girl #2 yet. I’m sure there will be days that I will long for the ease (well maybe not so much at 8/9 months) of just carrying her around inside, protecting from all of the outside world. But right now I am just dying to meet her, have her meet her Daddy and big sister and move on with all of the fun plans we have!

Since I am almost 42 weeks now – yes pure craziness, but I was born almost 3 1/2 weeks late and my brother was 2 1/2 weeks late, so maybe I can blame genetics? It’s so hard too because Carmella doesn’t understand why mommy can’t do certain things, and also because Daddy has had to pick up my slack. Like laundry for example. And while I love (and need) the help I will be glad when things can go back to normal and walking up a flight of stairs won’t be a challenge of the day.

Carmella on her way out of Toys R Us after buying some new toys.

In getting ready for Baby Nihill, Carmella has seen me drag out all of the toys and clothes. And nothing has caught her interest more than the Nap Nanny. A lifesaver with Carmella, its really a must have for any parent. First of all I should start by saying that almost any adult that saw it, including myself has wondered where you can buy an adult version. Unfortunately they don’t have one yet, but maybe soon……. So out came the Nap Nanny, and while the first day it may have sat in the corner alone and waiting for Baby Nihill #2, on day 2 Carmella must have started having flashbacks. I came into her room and not only had she dragged it in front of her TV to watch her movie, but she was laying down and asked me to put her “seat belt” (aka safety harness) on. She then proceeded to tell me how “comfy” it was and couldn’t wait to show daddy her new toy. Now I’m wondering if we will have to buy a second one!

The Nap Nanny was a life saver for so many reasons. The largest being that after eating Carmella would have to stay in an upright position after eating for a good 20 minutes so she wouldn’t get sick. While that sounds simple enough, in the early days when sleep is a much wanted/needed commodity every minute helps. Especially when you are nursing because there really is no way that Daddy can get up and help with that. To be able to put her down in the Nap Nanny at an angle and strap her in was reassuring to me as I know that she would be ok until the next feeding 2 hours later.

It was also easy to take with us when visiting other people as there is no set up! Throw it in the car and you are good to go. It was also a nice alternative to her bouncer seat when we were at home. We could leave one upstairs and one downstairs and it helped me get so much done! Now they even make travel bags, which I will definitely be investing for that future trip to California, whenever the girls are ready for a big trip and Daddy can be convinced it will be more fun than work :) It also has a zip off cover which makes it super easy to clean – because lets face it, all babies have accidents and if its not washable then it likely will end up in the trash.

I should note that proper precautions (common sense) should be used when using a Nap Nanny. For example it is a stand alone item when using  – it SHOULD NOT be placed in a crib.

As other “old” toys start to make appearances I am sure that I will have plenty of stories.  Until then I am keeping my fingers crossed that we get to meet this girl by the end of the week!