Full of Gratitude on Max’s First Birthday

I can hardly believe my little man Max is already a year old.  From the moment he was born, well, even before he was born, everyone told us to cherish the time, how time flies, and he will be a little kid in a mere blink of an eye.  I think we have cherished each and every moment, and despite our crazy work obligations, I think Matt and I have done a good job focusing on Max when we are with him, and absorbing every little coo, smile, giggle, roll, crawl, stumble and hug along the way.

I know that I take (and share) almost too many pictures of my little man, but for every actual photo I take a million more little images in my head.  And in the evening after only an hour of peace and quiet, I already miss that little man when he has gone to bed.

As much as I would never wish a battle with infertility for any couple, I feel like I am an infinitely better mom and appreciate so much more because of our road we took to get to where we are now.  The shots, hormones and physical parts of IVF were certainly a lot at first, and I adjusted to all of that very quickly, but the emotional part is where the real battle begins.  The waiting, the hoping, the certainty it had worked only to find out it had not, finding out that you didn’t even get past the first step and scrapping a cycle only to wait months until you could try again.  And on a few occasions we were lucky enough to have success with IVF, we suffered losses early on.  With all the feelings of grief, failure, anger, and jealously (and anger at yourself because you don’t want to feel jealous, really!) you feel like no one else in the world can understand you, but the truth is that so many women, so many families, have gone through the same types of things.  Finding a support network of women was a crucial for me midway through our journey, and I hope to be there as a ray of light and understanding for anyone else going through this now.

What kept me going is the thought that I was not going to let down my child, that I would show that child that he would be the most special and worth it thing in the entire world, and that we would walk through fire and to the ends of the earth to bring him home.  Whether it ended up with us adopting or having a baby through IVF, in the end I didn’t care, I just knew I would not give up or give in, and we would show that child he was worth fighting for.

When I hear that little boy cry or babble in his crib when he wakes up, I go to his room and scoop him up, and each day is like Christmas morning to me.  To watch him reach our for me and feel him hug me, smile at me, laugh at me and look at me with love has made my life more worthwhile than I ever dreamed.  Having a child is the most worth it thing, and I am so very lucky that we received our miracle.  I cannot thank God, the moon, the stars, or the heavens enough for our little man.

Only because of our journey do I feel like I can begin to truly understand and appreciate what a blessing it is to have a child.   I will cherish this little boy the rest of my life, the big moments and the teeny ones.  He will continue to amaze me with the way he stacks blocks and knock them down, and melt my heart with his sloppy baby kisses.

And I promise that little boy that I will make the most of all these moments, the big ones and the teeny ones, the best as I can.

We just celebrated Max’s 1st birthday with a little Sesame Street themed birthday party.  The party was planned for what ended up being the day after Hurricane Matthew, so we didn’t know until the last minute  if we were having it or not, but luckily the power came back on and I was able to finish all of the cupcakes in time.  At the end of the day, worst case scenario was that I’d have to cancel and we’d have about 3 dozen too many Cookie Monster cupcakes – in the grande scheme of things, no big deal.  That Saturday morning the skies were brilliant blue, the birds were chirping and we could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate our Maxwell.

I love that little man to the moon and back, and have a heart full of love and gratitude.  My grandma always says that he is just growing up too fast, but it doesn’t make me sad.  Every new month I meet this amazing new little person that I fall in love with even more than the month before (even though I didn’t think that was possible).  Heart full of gratitude for these moments.

(And a huge huge thank you to my dear friend Bona for helping to capture the amazing day!)






St. Augustine Beach Trip

Now that my little dude is quietly sleeping in his crib and my husband is out for a guy’s dinner, I finally have some time to catch up on some writing!

For my birthday this year, my husband Matt planned a thoughtful surprise getaway to St. Augustine, Florida, which I’ve always loved because of the combination it’s historical roots and proximity to the beach. He invited our immediate family to fly or drive in from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina to join us as well! In the northeast I was surrounded by historical places all the time, but they are much more rare in Florida, which makes it one of my favorite places to visit.

Legend has it that Ponce de Leon landed in St. Augustine in 1513 looking for the Fountain of Youth. He was followed by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés who officially founded St. Augustine in 1565, which has remained the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the United States. In 1672, the Spanish began construction of the Castillo de San Marcos fort on the shores of Matanzas Bay to protect the city, which can be visited today a United States National Park. Other historic sites include the Oldest House, Oldest School House, Fort Matanzas, and the beautiful campus of Flagler College.

 That being said, my favorite thing to do in St. Augustine is to wander the streets of the old city admiring the mixture of Spanish and old Florida architecture, and stopping in at the cool little shops, bars and restaurants you will find along the way. If you pop over the bridge, you will find yourself at either beautiful Vilano beach to the north, or St. Augustine beach to the south.

This year matt rented a charming sky-blue beach cottage in Vilano beach, which was only a quick 10 minute car ride to old town St. Augustine.

The cozy cottage was able to hold 12 of us, and the path down to the beach wasn’t too long to lug all the chairs and beach supplies down. The distressed white wood furniture and laid back décor gave out the perfect beach vibe.  There was a large second story balcony area and then another lookout on the 3rd floor, which was perfect for watching the sunsets.

We spent our first full day playing on the beach with Max. This was his first time seeing the ocean so he was a little bit timid at first, but once he got the hang of things he couldn’t get enough of it. Max would walk straight out into the water and I would have to pick him up and back him out of the water over and over again.

Morning snuggles with Grandma.

For the most part he was able to keep his footing really well as the waves would break, and we took his kiddie pool down to the beach so that he could have a calmer alternative as well. When he wasn’t in the water, Max’s cousins were awesome, showing him all their tricks to build sand castles (although Max mostly just knocked them down).

That night we went into down and had a great dinner at the Columbia House Restaurant, where Max celebrated with a happy birthday song and flan (yes, he ate flan), and danced to the Spanish music playing the background. After dinner we walked around the streets and grabbed amazing popsicles at The Hyppo for desert.

Pregame before dinner in at Columbia House in Old Town St. Augustine.

Hanging out in Old Town St. Augustine with my little sis!

The next morning we drove back down to to Old Town St. Augustine in the morning and toured Castillo de San Marcos, where Max earned his first Junior Ranger Badge from the National Park Service, and then returned back to the cottage for lunch and more beach time.

These adorable trunks, swim shirt and chambray hat were available this summer from Baby Gap.


My extended family from Jacksonville came to visit that afternoon while we all played in the sand some more, and then that night Matt cooked a fantastic dinner of chicken, shrimp, steak and lots of other things for 19 people!  We also had a family birthday cake for Max since his birthday was only a few days away.

Sitting on Pap Pap’s lap.

Watching the sunrise with MeMaw…

I know that there was a lot of damage to the area after Hurricane Matthew the very next weekend, so I am hoping that our little blue cottage didn’t fare too badly. It was really the cutest little place, and I fell in love with the beach in that area. If felt like I was a million miles away from everything during our walks, and we were only 2 hours from home.

In all, it was a great birthday weekend and Mr. Max really loved his first trip to the beach. I can’t wait to take him back!  Click HERE more information about the St. Augustine area.

Birthday Dress

I left work an hour early the day before my 40th birthday.  On my way between work and picking up my little dude at daycare I ran through my favorite stores at the mall in attempts to find the perfect birthday outfit. I was searching for fabulous, yet work appropriate.

With little time to play with, I couldn’t find anything that fit the bill, so I drove off to daycare feeling a bit defeated and lamenting fact that I had “nothing to wear” for my milestone birthday.

After putting Max to bed that night I started going through my closet and quickly came across my pink Ted Baker dress. It hugs curves without being inappropriate, and I think the extra length makes it just the right amount of sexy without giving too much away. I’ve had several turns of this dress already and think it’s perfect for the workplace, weddings, date night or even a gala event.

The next morning I plucked that beauty out of my closet, paired it with my favorite neutral bag and shoes and drove to work rocking the best birthday vibe possible!

Ted Baker Dress | Heels | Similar Bag | Hair by Arnie

Hurricane Matthew

We’ve had a busy few weeks here, starting with my birthday, my little dude’s birthday and a trip to the beach. I had the best intensions of getting some more blog entries done, but as soon as we got back from my birthday trip I had no time, faced with a crazy work schedule and Hurricane Matthew swirling straight toward Orlando. 

After learning on Wednesday that the storm track was heading closer to Orlando and the hurricane was now a Category 4, I stopped before 8 am to get gas and found stations were out of gas, and I had to drive around to find a place where I could fill up.

At lunch that day I found a store that still had plenty of water and stocked up on food and other supplies. On the way home I saw that gas was out almost everywhere I looked.  That night I learned that our offices were closing by noon on Thursday and Max’s daycare also closed early. Knowing I would have to work from home the next day, after putting Max to bed I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning reviewing a contract that needed to be completed as soon as possible. The next day I had terrible mommy guilt putting Max in his playpen with the TV on for several hours so that I could try to finish my must do items for work.  Not proud of that, but sometimes that’s the best you can do as a working mom. I also changed a poopy diaper while on an important work call – you’d be surprised how a working mommy can multitask on a conference call!

By Thursday night, heavy rainbands started coming through and the winds began to grow stronger, along with my increasing anxiety about the storm. The forecasters were predicting winds in excess of 80 mph where we live, about 70 miles inland.  Luckily we had closed up the shutters, brought all patio furniture inside, and charged up every computer, battery charger and cell phone to the max. To help keep my mind busy I decided to bake and decorate the cupcakes for Max’s birthday party on Saturday. We didn’t know if it was still happening, but dang it, my boy would have his Cookie Monster cupcakes!

We set up the pack n play in our room that night so our boy could sleep with us. Before bed, I saw on the news that the track veered slightly to the east and our predicted winds went down to sustained winds of 40 mph, a huge relief…

In the middle of the night we heard the bands of wind and rain pass through, along with the sound of about 10 shingles getting ripped from our roof. At 3:30 we woke up and found we had no power, made the report of the outage to the power company, and went back to bed. The next morning we woke to find no other damage than the handful of shingles and a warm house with no AC, which is still very necessary here in Florida in October.

We were without power for about 12 hours, so I tried my best to stay off my phone to conserve the battery. I let Max in just his diaper all day and opened the window to let some breeze in.  When the power came back on late that afternoon we were able to get back online to see the massive flooding in St. Augustine, where we had only just been less than a week before. We consider ourselves super lucky to have dodged a bullet this time.