Friday, October 30, 2009

1st B-day Par-tay!

We had D's first birthday party the day before his actual birthday - on a Saturday because, you know, the Bears play on Sunday. (Can you visualize the eye-roll that I'm doing right now?)

Our house was too too small for the event (we thought it would have sold already!) so we hosted at a room through the Geneva Park District. We chose Peck Farm Park on the far West end of Geneva. We rented the "Orientation Barn" (it's 3rd in the picture below) which actually is a corn crib for you farm kids out there.
The inside is completely redone and it was the perfect size and location for D's party.

We went with a pumpkin theme...everything was pumpkin. We had a pumpkin shaped cake (made by me!), orange plates/cups/napkins, a pumpkin Happy Birthday D banner (made by me!) and photos of the little man from each month of life mounted on pumpkin-print mats around the room. We had candy corn, green/orange streamers/balloons, pumpkin bars (made by my mom), hot apple cider and the AMAZING view of the forest preserve.

D had a good time. Spent the majority of the time playing on the floor with his cousins Amelia, Adam and Kellan. He was a bit overwhelmed by the gathering of people to sing Happy Birthday to him in his high chair - he stuck his bottom lip out and looked a bit like a deer in the headlights. However, he left the candle burning on his miniature pumpkin cake through the entire song. He ate some of his cake - but not until I cut a piece out of it for him.

He got some great gifts and we had a great time. I still can't believe he's one!

I'm hoping to post the video of the birthday song on here soon - and some more photos that my sister will send me because I didn't have much time to snap many if you're reading Theresa - let's get on that eh?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Biggest Inspiration

Unbelievable. Do you watch The Biggest Loser on NBC? (I won't tell you what Dain's nickname is for the show...)

This show always inspires me - to see these individuals change their physique and their attitudes and their LIVES season after season is just amazing. It's must-see TV for me (or more like must-DVR TV since I no longer watch anything live). There are always such amazing people with extraordinary stories or situations, and they completely make over their bodies and souls.

This season on NBC is no exception. However, it has one person that took inspiring and unbelievable to a whole new level - Abby.

Abby is a teacher in her mid-30's who 2 1/2 years ago lost her husband, 5 year old daughter and 1 month old son to a car accident. In one fell swoop, everything was gone. Watching her featured parts of the show was an exercise for exercise of emotions. They did an extended story on it a few times this season, and bawling was an understatement.

I'm including two videos below. The first is her "introduction" video that aired on the web before the show began. It briefly tells her story, just gives a glimpse - if you're at all emotional, don't watch or grab a tissue.

This next video is the "where are they now" video - as she was voted off the show on this past Monday's episode. Just watch a few minutes. It shows how she looks now and what she's doing...

WHAT? This woman is not only getting out of bed everyday - but she is getting out of bed and being a positive person and putting positivity out into the world. She's touring the US from what I've heard, and speaking to schools about second chances at life. Her story is literally my worst nightmare - MOST people's worst nightmare. When she got voted off, she thanked them so much for bringing the light back into her eyes. She said she felt like herself again, or at least was starting to. A huge group met her when she arrived back to her hometown and her parents & family thanked the show for bringing her back. She was so positive - and as you can see in the "where is she now" video - she's an inspirational speaker now. That's just plain amazing.

She makes me realize how lucky I am. Working full time, having a one year old that wakes up in the night, tight finances, not being able to sell our house and all my other "problems" are really put into perspective. This woman would probably give all her limbs to get up in the night with her little ones. She'd probably live in a cardboard box on the street to have her husband back. She would most likely take a 100 hour a week job just to have her family back. I can endure my problems - I'm lucky to have only my problems. I will forever be motivated and inspired by this woman from reality TV. I'm guessing you will be too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

One Year Ago

One year ago, I had a baby. I went in to the hospital to get checked at 34 1/2 weeks pregnant and came home 7 days later with a baby.
I went through the hardest experiences of my life that day...18+ hours of labor with Pitocin, a forced C section, getting my baby taken away as soon as I delivered with barely a glimpse, not seeing him for multiple hours then meeting him in an isolette with wires everywhere, etc.
I spent the 7 days that my baby was required to stay in the hospital there with him, in my own room Howard Hughes style, only shuffling back and forth to NICU for feedings every 4 hours with barely a nap or shower in between.
I came home with a baby on an apnea monitor which was attached to him and the wall at all times. After two months we bid adieu to the monitor - and I finally felt like I had a baby like everyone else did from day one - and then I was whisked off to full time work one week later.
After all we went through in the beginning, and all the hours of breastfeeding, milestones, viruses, tubbies, songs, cuddles and cries since - we made it a year. I can't believe it.
My life is changed forever. I worry like I never thought I could, smile like I never thought I could, cry like I never thought I could, and love like I never knew was possible. I have the best baby in the world (even if he still is up multiple times a night). D is the sweetest kid in the world. He amazes me daily - with his love of books that allow him to sit and flip pages for hours, his quiet side among a crowd yet his loud songs and words with just a select few, his eyes that have defined a new color of blue, and his peaceful smile that reminds me what is truly important in my life.
Happy Birthday to my little man. I can't believe one year has gone by.

D on day one:

D on year one:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Does it Count?

Does it count as "making" my son's birthday cake if it's a Duncan Hines mix?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Milk it

D's a year old on Sunday...WHAT?!? Yeah, 12 months old. Yipes! Who can believe it?

And, I have made it through 12 months of breastfeeding. WHAT?!? Who can believe THAT? Especially coming from the girl that spent a day on my first week home with D in the lactation consultant's office bawling my eyes out...and the girl that had to pump and give an ounce after every feeding for my preemie for his first few months at home...and the girl that pounded Fenugreek...and the girl that lived and breathed by how things went with the breastfeeding group.
More significantly, it's the same girl who went back to work when her baby was 9 weeks old and had to pump at least twice a day at work during her full time job over an hour from home everyday in order to keep up with her baby's needs. That girl, ME, made it to 12 months.

I can't believe I made it to my ultimate goal. I figured I would have had to abandon it a long while ago. And now it turns out I'm not even done yet! I am slowing down though. I'm beginning the slow process of abandoning my pump. I will continue to breastfeed as I can from home at night, and in the night (because my child never sleeps). I will see how long it lasts.

D can now try cow's milk products, and he did just that yesterday. We introduced YoBaby organic baby yogurt...and he loved it.
YoBaby yogurt is made by Stonyfield Farm, the leading organic yogurt manufacturer, committed to healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet.

The next thing coming up is milk - Organic whole milk. I'm adding a LITTLE to each of D's bottles (need it anyways, as I can't keep up anymore). We'll see how it goes. I'm hoping that his eczema doesn't get worse and it turns out to have been a dairy intolerance. Maybe he'll love it.
He probably will.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Walked for Hope

The Walk for Hope that I was doing fundraising and posted earlier about was this past Saturday. It was amazing. The turn-out was truly inspiring, not just for our 'team' but in general.

According to the website - the total raised was more than $57,000! About $2,000 of that total was Team Andrea! Go team!
Thanks to my generous family, friends and co-workers - I raised $315.00, and we contributed for registration - so all in all I feel great about the efforts. Dain, D and I completed the 5K walk on a beautiful, yet chilly, day - and loved being a part of it.

Here are a few great photos from the event:

D, of course, asleep at registration and the opening ceremony:

Some members of our team walking the walk:

Team Andrea - post-walk:

My family:

D and his cousins Kellan & Dylan:

Thanks again to all who supported our efforts!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Make Lemonade

Not too long ago I posted about a charity that used bake sales to raise money for childhood cancers. Turns out you can have a bake sale OR a lemonade stand to raise money for childhood cancer.

After buying a box of Mike & Ike's (one of my FAV candies) the other day, I discovered another unique charity that is most definitely blog-worthy.

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation first began in 2000, when a then 4-year-old cancer patient named Alex voiced a simple wish - she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help "her doctors" find a cure for all kids with cancer. The idea was put into action when Alex held her very first lemonade stand on her family’s front lawn in July of that same year. For the next four years, despite her deteriorating health, Alex held an annual lemonade stand to raise money for childhood cancer research. Alex raised a great deal of money through her annual stands, but in the early months of 2004, she set what to some seemed like an unreachable goal – Alex wanted to raised $1 million. Though her health was failing, Alex was determined to reach her goal, and when her parents asked how she would do it, she just said – “if people all around the country hold lemonade stands and send in their money, I think I can do it.” Alex was right, and during the weekend of her last lemonade stand in her neighborhood, thousands of volunteers of all ages from all corners of the country held lemonade stands, propelling Alex and her cause to reach $1 million. Shortly following, on August 1, 2004 Alex ultimately lost her life to childhood cancer, but her legacy of hope continues to live on through volunteers young and old.

This foundation is another inspiring organization - and it's easy to get involved by hosting a lemonade stand of your own - visiting one of their events - joining one of the walk/run benefits - visiting their online gift shop (guess where I'm getting my holiday cards this year?) - or even just donating online.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And the winner is....

Get ready for the cutest freakin crustacean in the US!

Monday, October 12, 2009


We took D to the pumpkin patch - Sunny Acres - yesterday with Uncle Evan & Aunt Marcy. I love love love everything to do with Autumn and Halloween and pumpkins - so it was a great time!
Here's some highlights:

D on a massive hayrack full of pumpkins:

Uncle Evan loving the llama:

D's first fun slide & pony ride (against my better animal-rights judgement):

Growth chart "How Tall This Fall?" at Sunny Acres - yes I'm holding him steady:

The coveted pumpkin:

Dain's highlight? D discovered how to pick his nose - now it's happening daily:

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Who needs this?

When I have this?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walk for Hope

A few weeks ago I sent out an e-mail to family/friends about sponsoring my little family and I in the "Walk for Hope" - - here's what I sent...see the link on the side for more info or for a direct link to my fundraising site:

On October 17th Dain, D and I will be participating in the Walk for Hope to benefit Mutual Ground - a shelter that provides free services to victims of domestic and sexual abuse.

Both Dain's family and my family have been affected by domestic abuse.
I am walking with "Team Andrea" a group formed in memory and honor of Dain's cousin who lost her life as a victim of domestic abuse.

Please see the site below where I'm starting my fundraising efforts which also includes further information on Mutual Ground. Any donations are tax deductible, and can be made on the website - or I can accept cash/check donations as well.

Please do not feel obligated to donate - I also just wanted to spread the word about this great place that could possibly be a safe haven to someone you may know that may also be affected.