November: 30 Days of Thanks

All month long I’ve been reading and enjoying the spattering of social media updates that give thanks. Friends are taking a moment each day to reflect on what they are thankful for, whether it’s something as small as a hot cup of joe, or as momentous as a healthy newborn. It never ceases to amaze me how a single positive (or negative) thought can cause a domino effect of feelings. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Deepak Chopra: You are not the drop in the ocean, but the ocean in the drop.

In every imaginable circumstance more is accomplished when we are working together as opposed to picking apart our differences. As a social media user, it’s been fascinating to observe the voice contrast between October and November. October felt like one giant shouting match that didn’t accomplish anything but spread havoc across our country. Fear and anger are contagious and spread like venom. On the other side, happy thoughts and reflections are contagious too! I’m not sure who started the “Give Thanks” trend this month, but whoever it was I want to thank you.

With that, I’ll share what I’m thankful for this November as Thanksgiving approaches. I’m thankful to be a stay at home mom. The light that spills from my son’s eyes is my own personal miracle. We all came from the same place and it’s up to us to explore our potential and live every day with the curiosity and zestfulness of life that we started with. It’s hard to access that inner spirit sometimes because we all get bogged down by daily routines and negative people.

I feel a positive shift in the air just by reading these simple, happy Facebook updates. Do you feel it too? Please keep sharing your happy thoughts, November and beyond!

Cole meets the Atlantic ocean

We decided to take a mid-week trip up to York Beach Since Greg has been working in Maine quite a bit over the last few weeks. My sister-in-law made the suggestion since she was spending a few nights in a motel on Long Sands Beach with her boyfriend. What a nice little get-away!

The Cutty Sark Motel advertises that every room has a view. They weren’t kidding! The motel is so close to the beach that during high tide you can hear the waves crash against the breaker wall that is right below the windows. There is nothing like the sound of ocean waves to ensure a peaceful sleep. There was plenty of space in the room for Cole’s travel crib and the location was perfect since we could walk to Long Sands Beach.

Arriving at Long Sands Beach

Cole loves the lake, but had never been to the ocean. I was so excited for him to step into the Atlantic for the first time! He had such a blast chasing the waves and walking in and out of the water. Of course he loved the beach as well.

Cole digs the sand.

Greg had to work during the day, but he met us afterwards for dinner with a view. We drove up some winding roads towards the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse. The lighthouse was beautiful and when we return to York I want to go back up there during the day to spend some time enjoying the view from up there. We ate at Fox’s Lobster House, which had a great family atmosphere and served delicious food and drinks.

Family picture at Fox’s.

It was a bit rainy, but the gloomy weather couldn’t spoil the beautiful view from our table.

Dinner with a view.

The next day we visited York’s Animal Kingdom and I was pleasantly surprised! I assumed it would be a hokey, beach town zoo and that turned out to be completely false. It is clean and there are a wide variety of animals to see, including alligators, tigers, a lion, and an assortment of monkeys. There are interactive areas where you can feed ducks and deer. Bambi can walk right up to you!

“Cool, an alligator. Ok…what’s next?”

 

My favorite part of the zoo was the butterfly house, because I loved seeing all of the bright colors fluttering all around us!

Butterfly at York’s Animal Kingdom.

We had such a perfect, short trip to York and definitely plan on returning!

 

15 month milestones and meltdowns

Peaceful baby by the lake

Mama is thankful for peaceful moments like this one…especially lately!

Arriving at swim class this morning Cole was anxious to get into the water as soon as possible. He decided to start walking over himself, and was promptly picked up by mom since she wasn’t quite ready yet.  Meltdown.

Chatting happily to himself as he sits in the carriage at Target, Cole decides he wants to walk around instead. Mom picks him up out of the carriage, puts him down, and holds his hand as they walk down the aisle.  Fixated on something that he wants to play with, he tries to change the direction they are walking in, but mom won’t let him play with lamps. Meltdown.

Sliding the oven drawer. Climbing on the dishwasher door. Opening the DVD player.  Slamming doors shut. Pulling on the cat’s tail. On the eve of Cole’s 15 month birthday, I’m starting to feel like a broken record as I try to teach him what “no” means.  I know he is listening, because when he tests a limit he looks at me as if to say “This is about to happen, Mom. What’s your move…”

The good news (because let’s face it – we have to look on the positive side to keep ourselves sane) is that I believe Cole’s extreme emotional reaction to things is because he is growing and transitioning from a baby to a toddler.  He’s asserting his independence and experiencing the effects of his motivations and movements.  I can see the wheels in his head turning as he thinks “if I do this, then that will happen…”

I get that. Really, I do…But boy is it tough to focus on milestones when your little one is in the middle of a major meltdown. Especially in public!

Although, often times his curious spirit leads to laughter rather than tears.  Yesterday in the supermarket I gave Cole a container of Cheerios to snack on to keep him busy. This type of container ensures that (most of) the snack will stay inside because it has a snap on cover that he has to reach into.

baby snack containerCole’s been throwing and dumping food all over the place lately so I thought I was mom of the year for finding these containers!  One moment Cole is smiling and munching on Cheerios, and the next moment I hear a loud “POP!” followed by the sound of cereal raindrops on the floor. I look over at Cole; his eyes are as wide open as the top of the container, and he has cereal all over him.  A fit of laughter bubbles out of me, which triggers the giggles from Cole as well.  I did feel bad for maintenance though… 🙂

At the end of the day, regardless of how tough or peaceful it might have been, all I feel is love for this little human that we made. It might take me glass of wine sometimes, but I’m always able to let go of those cringe-worthy moments and just be thankful for my family. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be a 15 month old to have meltdowns. We all have them! I just want to be sure I teach Cole how to get through them safely and quickly.

World Immunization Week: Giving children a Shot@Life through access to vaccines

Vaccines. It’s become such a controversial topic in America that we might as well add it alongside religion and politics as subjects to avoid during polite dinner conversation.  As a new mom I scouered bookshelves to educate myself on both sides of the discussion on vaccine safety and effectiveness to ensure I make the best choices for my son, Cole.

Then it hits me. Choice. There are other moms all over the world, who want to protect their children from preventable diseases, but they don’t have access to vaccines. These moms don’t have a choice.  As a result, many of them will have to hold their beloved babies in their arms as they take their last breath on earth.  Every child deserves a shot at a healthy life, which is why I’m supporting the Shot@Life campaign. Cole inspires me to want to help other children that are less fortunate than he is.

For our love of children we need to learn about, advocate for, and donate vaccines.  With our help the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign will decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give children a shot at a healthy life.  There are other organizations that are working towards the common goal of providing vaccines where they are most needed.  For example, I volunteer with a non-profit organization called Sustainable Healthcare for Haiti.

Sustainable Healthcare for Haiti (SHH) is in the process of planning and developing a medical clinic and children’s hospital in Jerusalem, Haiti, a city just north of Port-au-Prince. As you might have read or seen in the news recently, the cholera vaccine needs to be dispensed immediately to everyone in Haiti.  Doses are being prepared and distributed, but there are not enough clinics to vaccinate the population.  The medical clinic that SHH is building in Jerusalem could help to meet this dire need.

Join me in support of the Shot@Life campaign and Sustainable Healthcare for Haiti.  Support comes in many forms: a tweet on Twitter, a “like” on Facebook, a dollar donation. And just to be clear there is no affiliation between Shot@Life and Sustainable Healthcare for Haiti.  I’m just sharing what they both mean and represent to me!  For more information and to follow updates online, please stay connected.

Websites
sustainablehealthcareforhaiti.org
shot@life.org

Facebook
facebook.com/sustainablehealthcareforhaiti
facebook.com/shotatlifecampaign

Twitter
@shhbuilds
@shotatlife

Together, we can make a difference and save lives.

Shot@Life Join the Movement

Light it up blue for World Autism Awareness Day!

We try to teach our children all about life, but really our children teach us what life is all about.

Have you heard of Light It Up Blue? Light It Up Blue, in its third year, is a global initiative to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will Light It Up Blue to show their support.Check out the Autism Speaks website for Light It Up Blue and check out the pictures – they are so amazing! My personal favorite is Niagra Falls.My son Cole and I will be wearing blue today and our hearts will be with all of the children and families that have been affected by autism.

Being a parent is a challenge, but when your child is diagnosed with autism that challenge becomes even greater. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism to be prevalent in 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls) in the U.S. Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. There is no proven medical detection or cure for autism. I have a personal hunch that it has to do with both environmental toxins and genetic vulnerabilities.

The good news? A new study finds that 10% of autistic children can “bloom” and outgrow most of their disabilities by the time they reach adolescence. What can you and I do to help increase that percentage, as well as reduce the number of autistic children?

This Fall I am participating in the 2012 Greater Boston Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Team Mikey is named after my cousin’s son. He is a handsome, bright, fun little boy and was recently diagnosed with autism. Please help me raise funds to support this important cause. Although I’m not walking for several more months there is no better time to act than now, because April marks the beginning of Autism Awareness month. And today (April 2nd) is Autism Awareness Day! So help get my fundraising efforts off to an amazing start.

Every dollar counts! Here is the link to my Donation Page.

My Very Hungry Caterpillar First Birthday Party

I woke up from my morning nap to the sound of the apartment door opening and closing, opening and closing. “What are mom and dad doing out their?” I wondered, rubbing my eyes. Since I can’t really talk yet I made a few noises and threw Piglet out of my crib. That did the trick. Dad came in, swooped me up, and gave me a squeeze. Out in the kitchen I was sitting in my high-chair enjoying my favorite breakfast of waffles and blueberries when mom walked through the front door. “How’s my birthday boy?” She smiles and blows me a kiss. I smile back and bounce a little in my seat.

After I’m finished eating mom changes me into a caterpillar onesie. I recognize the caterpillar from the book that I always pull down from the bookcase in the room. It’s my favorite because of all the food. I think the caterpillar likes to eat as much as I do! Accept I don’t get stomach aches and have to eat leaves, usually.

The phone rings and after a moment my mom and I are skipping down the hallway and as we turn the corner I see two familiar faces at the door. GG and Mima pass me back and forth, giving my a lot of hugs and kisses. And then it’s time to get down to business, that’s what mom says. In the club room, I see the Very Hungry Caterpillar all over the place! On the walls, on the table and even in the cake. I thought that cake was going to come alive and inch right off the table.

Pretty soon my friends and family arrive at the party. There is so much food to eat and so many toys to play with. We had meatballs, macaroni and cheese, fruit, veggies, and sandwiches. My favorite was the cucumber and strawberry cream cheese sandwiches. Once I had a full belly it was time to play with my friends. I shared all of my toys and we crawled all around the play-mat and through the caterpillar tunnel. Mom even came down with us and read us The Very Hungry Caterpillar book.

The biggest surprise of the day was when mom brought over a cupcake with a candle in it and everyone sang to me. That cupcake was so good! I ate the whole thing and even licked the frosting off of my fingers. I’m not sure why everyone was laughing, but it didn’t bother me. I just kept on digging in. After all, that’s what a hungry caterpillar would do, right?

Mom opened my gifts and I got some really cool things. I have the nicest and coolest friends and family. It was a perfect party and by the end of it…I was ready for another nap! Here are some pictures from my party!

Cole’s 1st birthday

Wow! I am how many fingers old today?!

You woke up this morning with a smile on your face, as usual. Dad brought you into our bedroom singing the Beatles Birthday Song… “they say it’s your birthday!” which we followed up with two verses of the traditional “Happy Birthday to you” song. What a year, Cole! I wish I could freeze you just as you are for a little bit longer. In the past couple of weeks you have really started becoming a little boy, breaking free from your infant cocoon into my handsome little butterfly! You’ve become a chatter box (like your mom) and you make me and your dad laugh all the time when you mimic words we say by repeating the first or second syllable. Duck is “da” and car is “cah” and kitty is “gee” and you love to talk with a mouth full of food. You eat everything that I put in front of you, except for chicken and avocados.  Your favorite meals are waffles with blueberries and vegetable tortellini soup. Your favorite snacks are Annie’s cheddar bunnies, kiwi, and any cracker that you can hold onto and bite your way through.

We’ve had a busy year together. You’ve banged on drums in music class, learned to sign “dog” in sign language class, made lots of friends on baby playdates, used the swing at the playground, swam and took boat rides at the lake, had lunch in Boston, wore a space helmet at the children’s museum, hiked Blue Hills and had plenty of cuddle time with your mom, dad, and the whole family! There is so much love surrounding you each and every day. Our lives are much richer with you in it.

A note from your Dad:

As each day passes I realize how lucky your mom and I are. You are such a special little boy and I can’t wait to share many fun things with you. Thank you for making me smile and putting it all in to perspective.

Love, Dad

Happy First Birthday, Cole!!