Feeling Free

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Dress: Free People via Trunk Club (now 40% off!) / Shoes: Kelly + Katie via DSW (now on sale!) / Lip: MAC Impassioned

This dress is another that I scored with my last Trunk Club and my amazing stylist Megan. I wore it to a baby shower while in Maryland a couple weeks ago, but I also think it’s perfect for a date night in the city. These shoes are EVERYTHING and wore them that whole weekend. Surprisingly pretty comfortable for high heels!

I titled this post “Feeling Free” originally because this dress is from Free People, but after thinking more about it, there is a lot more behind the title and how I’m feeling right now. The boys are getting into their routine at school, and I’m getting into my new routine as their mama and as the CEO of my business…both this blog and my health + fitness coaching…which really, it all sort of combines to just really trying to inspire as many people as possible to live happier + healthier whether that’s by exercising, eating clean, taking time for yourself, feeling comfortable in your clothes and in your own skin, etc. With the boys being in school for a bit, I’m getting a little more free time to myself to really dive into this passion during normal day time hours, and I’m LOVING it.

I’ve been practicing the Miracle Morning which is a book by Hal Elrod, and it’s been completely life changing. I have been starting my day with meditation, visualization, reading personal development, journaling, and of course exercise. It’s literally the most perfect way to start the day, and it really sets the tone and my mood going forward. It also allows me to feel less stressed about things I have “to-do” during the day, and I feel that when I’m with my kids, I can really be more present with them and in the moment.

And not to bring down the moment, since I love keeping things positive over here, but I am feeling incredible sad in light of the recent shooting that happened in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the “freedom” of owning guns has allowed so many people to lose their own freedom and even their lives. My own dear friends were supposed to be at the concert, and ended up not going, thank God. I have never been a fan of guns and I feel that by having them, violence is just perpetuated. If you want to help support the end of gun violence, Everytown is a great movement to support.

And whatever else you can do to spread love and positivity in this world, please keep doing that! The world needs you. ❤

Make it a great day everyone!

XO,

Gina

2016 in Review

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So much has happened over the course of this past year…here is a little recap…

 I came upon my 2 year health + fitness coaching journey this January and I have since been able to help over 300 challengers to reach their goals and over 30 coaches to build a business of their own. I am continuing to help those who want to make changes in this brand new year.

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My sweet little Luca was officially Baptized into the Catholic Church with a beautiful Christening celebration.

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I earned my first Beachbody Coach Success Club Trip and was able to take my whole family on a Caribbean Cruise on the Oasis of the Seas!!! Holy amazing!!!

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I had some fun collaborations with Younique presenter Suzy Engler & UncommonGoods. I now love a great lip stain and one of my readers is rockin’ an Elwood mug.

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We traveled to New Jersey, Ithaca, and Baltimore / (x2)  to celebrate some incredibly beautiful weddings of close friends.

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We spent a week at the lake with close friends in the Poconos.

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I returned to Nashville for my 2nd Beachbody Coach’s Summit and got to hang with my amazing team!

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Nico turned 3 and Luca turned 1, and we celebrated with a Lego themed Birthday Party

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We tackled potty training over the summer and got one kid out of diapers lol. This book was super helpful.

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We spent two weeks at the beach with family from the Outer Banks, NC to Cape May, NJ

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Hubby finally started back up on his own health and fitness journey…and he’s got the abs to prove it!

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Got in a ton of good reads this year including You Are a Badass, Girl on the Train, Me Before You, No Excuses, The 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth, The 5 Love Languages, and more.

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We hiked to the top of Bear Mountain with great friends and Nico almost did the entire thing on his own including the hand and foot scaling!!! I was super impressed.

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I completed several new at-home workout programs and challenged myself from P90X3, 21 Day Fix Extreme, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Country Heat, Hammer + Chisel, 3 Week Yoga Retreat, and Core de Force. Feeling happier + healthier than ever before!

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I traveled to Sundance, Utah for my first ever Coach’s Diamond Retreat which was an experience of a lifetime. What an amazingly beautiful place to reflect, learn, and be inspired by so many other leaders.

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Made some amazing fall soups that were so great, they will definitely be made again this winter.

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Little sis and I pulled off the surprise of the year celebrating our amazing Mom + Dad’s 60th Birthday. Aren’t these two adorable?!?!

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Got in another memorable family Christmas Eve photo by my cousin and fav photographer Misa Me.

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Rounded out the year with a fabulous holiday season with my bests in our Christmas jammies.

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What an incredible year, and we cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store!!!

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What was your favorite memory from 2016??? What are you most looking forward to in 2017??? Please share below!!!

Wishing you all a happy + healthy New Year! Happy Monday!!

XO,

Gina

Take Me Home

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Long Sleeved Rugby Polo: Ralph Lauren (old) / Blazer: Piperlime (old) / Denim: Rag & Bone / Boots: Target | on Luca: Overalls & Button Up Onesie from Carters

These photos were taken over Thanksgiving weekend on an unusually nice, warm day outside at my parent’s house where I grew up. There is something comforting in the fact that my parents still live in the house where I was born and raised. That familiar smell when you walk in…the same hand-sewn curtains hanging in my old bedroom window…the fact that I can still maneuver around in the pitch black dark and not run into the walls since I am just so familiar with every nook and cranny of this comforting abode. Staying up way too late past my bedtime, just because I am there and you know Dad will always be up (or asleep) in his chair before you hit the hay. Walking around those 2.5 acres of land and breathing in those fresh country smells of grass and trees…maybe even some horses down the road. It strangely smelled like spring there on this particular day. The familiar old tractor, the old shed, and that same spot to hang the hammock in the backyard. While things have certainly been updated since my childhood, I love that sense of comfort and security I feel when I am there. It’s nice that I am able to bring my children here to have a similar experience, much like I had in my grandparent’s house where my Dad grew up. Nico is always so excited when we arrive. He knows exactly what toys will be there, where his chair is, and the places he loves to roam outside already. It makes me smile to know although we live 4 hours away, he still feels that same sense of comfort that I do at his Mimi and Nano’s house. I am looking forward to when my little Luca will feel the same. If my dear parents are reading this, I hope they know they can never move away 😉

XO,

Gina

Best of Both Worlds

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What kind of life do you desire for yourself?

I find that as I get older and time goes on, my priorities have changed. In my twenties, I may have been fine with working late hours, meeting up with friends for an after work drink, crashing late, and doing it all over again the next day.

But now as a mom of two kids, I want to be here to tuck my kids into bed at night, read them stories, and snuggle them to sleep.

Previously, I was okay with a long subway commute. I used it as an excuse to get lots of reading done and was proud at how many books I could finish underground. Now, I do not want to spend a total of 3 hours per day commuting, because that means 15 hours a week extra that I would be spending away from my kiddos on top of a long work day.

My family has become my priority these days. I love being a mom…the good, the bad, and the ugly. The lack of sleep and toddler tantrums have nothing on those newborn snuggles and those slobbery toddler kisses.

That being said…I never saw myself as a stay at home mom. My mom worked hard outside of the home each and every day, and I figured I would follow in those footsteps. I studied hard in school and had dreams of a future and career that involved television and movies and sports and more. I wanted to be successful in my own right, and never have to rely on someone else to pay my bills. Not that those who are stay at home moms are not successful. It’s the hands down HARDEST job I have ever had to date! And I give props to every single stay at home mom out there, because having and raising kids on a daily basis IS definitely success in my book.

But the difference between then and now is that I didn’t realize then that I could be FINANCIALLY successful AND be a stay at home mom at the same time. I could own a business, work from home, AND spend my days raising my children the way I see fit. The best of both worlds in my mind.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s easy. I work HARD…both as a mom and as an entrepreneur. And some days I still feel like I am not quite measuring up in either category…because let’s face it…as mom you never feel like you are doing everything right…I am only human, and I can only do so much and yes, it’s HARD to work from home when you have a toddler…and now with a newborn, it’s even more crazy. But I am making it work, because it’s what’s best for ME and what’s best for my family. I am getting to fulfill something that I always wanted to do by having my own business and creating my own success…and I am not missing out on those opportunities to see my children grow.

The best part is that I have the FREEDOM to work when and how I want. I am able to create my own schedule and hours. I am helping others to reach their goals not only in health and fitness, but by teaching others to build their OWN business as well.

This opportunity is not exclusive to me. Have you ever thought about being a fitness coach? What about being home with your kids more? Or having the freedom to work from wherever you want? Or to stop stressing about money on the regular?

If so, I would love to invite you to join me and Team SPARK on Monday September 28th as we host a sneak peek into our business and share what is that we do on a daily basis. We are looking for 5 hard working, creative, and intelligent individuals who are looking to create more freedom for themselves or for their families. If you have any interest at all in learning more, please comment below and fill out this application to save your spot in our 3 Day Coach Open House group!

https://pandpfitness.wufoo.com/forms/team-spark/

Hope you are having a great week!

XO,

Gina

Monday Musings on Motherhood

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As I sit here on Monday afternoon watching both of my boys sleep soundly, I reflect on how grateful I am for this moment. A few years ago, my world came crashing down with the loss of our Little Peanut. I was deeply saddened and I could not picture a life as I know it now. Our Little Monkey, Nico, saved us by coming into the world two years ago with his big bright eyes, stubborn nature, and fiercely sweet charm. He turned our world upside down showing us what it means to have unconditional love. Of course there are plenty of challenges that come with parenthood, but with those challenges there is also accomplishment, happiness, a sense of pride, and complete, utter adoration. I have had the utmost pleasure watching my son grow into a little toddler, and cannot believe he just passed his 2nd birthday on Saturday. The time has flown by. I still remember him lying on my chest for a cuddle, or when he looked like a tiny speck on the big white chair in his nursery. He has always been interested in music and the alphabet since I can remember. Zack would play him songs on the guitar every morning to calm him to sleep. He was able to listen through long books at a young age, and has enjoyed any challenge brought to the table. He was quick to pick up letters, numbers, colors, shapes, animals, and more. His memory is more impeccable than my own, and he will randomly spit things out of his mouth that I didn’t even realize he was paying attention to. I am constantly amazed by his intelligence on a daily basis, and I love his ability to communicate with us. He has always been super sweet with other people and with his stuffed animals…always loving and cuddly. He has a sense of adventure like his father and is always interested in going for a hike, a bike ride, a trip to the beach, or anything else that is new and exciting. He loves to explore the world around him and has full trust in myself and my husband that we aren’t going to steer him wrong. If we are excited, then he is excited. I’m not going to lie and say my child is perfect, and there have been no toddler tantrums and fits. There have been plenty! But I know that is him growing and trying to find his independence. I feel incredibly lucky to have enjoyed Nico’s presence in our lives for these past two years.

On this day, I also think about the fact that today is Luca’s due date…my second baby, who was brought into our lives only one week and one day ago, and again we are flipped upside down with love. I look at him and am reminded how tiny Nico once was and how fast these little guys grow. Luca is so small and so dependent. Since I already know now what unconditional feels like, it was easy to look at Luca and fall in love instantly without knowing another thing about him. I also know that love will grow each and every day as I get to know him better.

I look at my husband, and I feel full. To see this little world and this little family we have created for ourselves makes me feel so blessed. Of course, it doesn’t take away the crazy. There will be days when I will be insane trying to take care of two screaming children, and I will get emotional, and it will be hard. I know this. But right now as I am sitting here watching them peacefully sleep, I can think well and good enough to know that all that crazy is worth it for the amount of love my heart holds.

Some of you may have seen this video over on my Facebook page, but if not, I just had to share this moment of Nico and Luca meeting for the first time. It steals my heart and makes me so proud to be their mama.

Wishing you all a great week!

XO,

Gina

{35} Lately

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Lately I’ve been…

reading  Been reading a bunch of books at once these days. Tag teaming a business book and a fun book. Just finished Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It’s a great read for anyone who works in the social media industry or just has a general interest in social media. I am also reading House Rules by Jodi Picoult as something lighter and non-business related for summertime. And lastly, planning on beginning to read Start With Why by Simon Sinek this week about how great leaders inspire people to take action.

writing  Thank you cards for everyone who attended Nico’s 2nd Birthday Party and for those who have showered our 2nd baby boy with goodies as well. We are very lucky to have such great family and friends.

listening  Inspirational Podcasts. Here is a good list for entrepreneurs. Do you have a good one to add to the list?

thinking  I can’t believe it’s almost time to have this baby! And that I am going to be surrounded by BOYS!

smelling  BBQ Chicken my hubby made for dinner. So delish!

watching  The Real Housewives of Orange County and New York. Yes. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Hey, every girl needs a little trashy TV downtime.

wishing  For a smooth labor and delivery. And for my water to break at home or at the hospital and not in some crazy public place.

hoping  That being said…hoping that baby comes before they decide I need to be induced like my last pregnancy! Grow baby, grow!

wearing  Leggings, maternity shorts, stretchy tanks and maternity tops, maxi dresses. Anything that isn’t extremely hot to wear and that I can still walk around in. There is a reason you haven’t seen a fashion post up lately haha…there’s not much to report these days! Comfort is key to maternity survival in this heat!

loving  My new redecorated and cleaned out office space in my sunroom. Looking for more prints to hang and still need to install the knobs on the desk (which came today, yay!), and some curtains, but I am excited!

wanting  To try some recipes in the new cookbook, FIXATE, by Autumn Calabrese! They look so good!

needing  To keep walking! Exercise is getting a little tougher these days as I hit the 38 week mark of my pregnancy yesterday, but trying to keep things moving, and hopefully that will help this baby arrive soon.

feeling  Like I have to pee constantly. TMI? Sorry, just keepin’ it real over here.

craving  Chocolate. Chocolate. More Chocolate. If you know me, you know I generally crave fruitier desserts, but for some reason, I am all about that chocolate in the past couple weeks. Baby has a sweet tooth!

clicking  Through Etsy for office wall art

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HAPPY TUESDAY!

What have you been up to lately?

XO,

Gina

Stay Wild

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On Nico – T-Shirt: Beckett’s Threads / Pants: Just One You Made by Carters / Shoes: Pediped – similar

Things are getting wild over here at the Notes household.  Nico took 16 steps yesterday.  SIXTEEN!  He’s still a bit unsteady, but I’m pretty sure full on walking is probably going to happen before this upcoming weekend is over.  Which means things are going to get crazy.  That being said, I do feel pretty lucky that I have a son who enjoys reading as much as Nico does.  Yes, reading Hop on Pop 20 times in one day can probably drive you a little mad.  But he is starting to take to plopping down on his own and looking through all the books.  He loves to pull them all off the shelf, and then dive into each and every one.  I wonder what he is thinking when he looks at them…if he is remembering the words that go along or he’s making up his own rhymes in his head.  Eventually he will crawl over to me with a book in hand saying “Buh!” his big brown eyes telling me he wants me to read to him.  And I oblige every time, because I never want to discourage a good habit, and because who wouldn’t want to cuddle up with this little nugget while I still can.

On another note, how cool is Nico’s tee?  Beckett’s Threads is offering a 15% discount to all my readers through Sunday night on this tee and other rad baby gear.  There are even a few items for mom as well.  Just use the code PANDA15. Hope you are all enjoying your week!

XO,

Gina

#20 Have Children

You may have been wondering why I suddenly fell off the blogosphere these past two weeks…or maybe you have already guessed.  Much to everyone’s surprise, our Little Monkey decided to grace us with his presence two weeks early!  Now this Great Freakin’ Adventure bucket list item is probably the most significant one I will ever check off.

Please welcome Nico Alfredo Notes to the world!  Born Thursday August 29, 2013 at 10:53pm at 5 lbs. 1.6 oz. and 19 inches.

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Ever since I was a child myself, I dreamed about what it would be like to have a child of my own.  As kids, my sister and I played house, school, doctor, and other role-playing games where we would play the “mom” taking care of our babies.  I guess that is just something that little girls do…or maybe that was just us, I don’t know.  As we grew older, the idea of having kids was something we tried to avoid, especially during our teenage and college years.  Finish school, get a job, get married, then have babies, right?  Of course, that doesn’t always ring true in the real world, but that’s what I was aiming for, and luckily, my life played out according to plan in that way.

However, the plan itself does not always go the way you would imagine.  Life is just not that way, and ours was no different.  It was not without struggle and some hard times.  We were fortunate to get pregnant pretty quickly, but then our world crashed down when we lost our little Peanut.  It was tough to move on, but the news of our Little Monkey on the way helped with the process.  Although we were scared of something terrible happening again, there was still that glimmer of hope which increased with every week of my pregnancy.

There were both ups and downs with the pregnancy, but all in all I would say I had a very healthy, wonderful pregnancy experience.  Toward the end, I loved feeling him jump around in my belly and we imagined every day what he would look like.  It still feels weird to not have him in my belly anymore, and I half expect to feel a kick every now and again.  I am glad to have this blog which documents most of this experience, and I look forward to showing it to Nico one day.

Now let’s look back to right before Labor Day Weekend.  What I thought would be a routine 38 week check up on that Wednesday morning at 9am turned into me being admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit that morning and staying there for quite some time.  My husband and I got called back for my routine ultrasound, and baby was not exactly cooperating that morning.  He passed all of the tests with flying colors, except he wasn’t making any sharp movements.  Now, I have my theories on this…we typically had 1pm appointments…maybe baby was just sleeping at 9am?  However, he also fell down quite significantly in the growth percentile.  He had been measuring small the entire time, but the docs said he was growing every time, so they were not really too concerned.  They kept a close eye, and at this 38 week appointment, the percentile dropped to where they started to be concerned.  My regular doc was on vacation that week, so they had someone filling in.  Because of the lack of movement and drop in growth percentile, and the fact that I was full term at 38 weeks, the fill-in doc recommended that I be induced that very day.  I’m sorry, WHAT DID YOU SAY???  Induced…today??? As in, RIGHT NOW???  Where is my normal doctor?  Who is this lady??  Does she even know what she is talking about?  She doesn’t even know our story!  Would Dr. Stein say the same thing?  These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head.  My husband and I were clearly in utter shock.  We had nothing with us.  Our hospital bag was all packed, but it was all the way at home.  I told myself beforehand that my “birthing plan” was more of a go-with-the-flow mentality, because it’s impossible to predict what will happen…but this is NOT what I was thinking, and I was not feeling like going-with-the-flow right now.  We went down to the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital and I spoke with the midwife on call.  We did a series of extra tests, which the baby passed with flying colors, and I really second guessed this decision to be induced two weeks early.  It was ultimately our decision, but we had a strong rec from the doctors, and really, what was our alternative?  Go home, be stressed 24/7 about whether or not we made the right decision, or wondering if my placenta was somehow failing and baby was not getting nutrition the whole time?  Or get the baby out now safely while he’s still healthy, no matter what it took.  The choice for us was obvious.

Luckily, the hospital staff was wonderful, and because baby was still doing really well, they told me they would not rush the process, and make sure to take as much time as needed for as long as we could to make this induction happen and to try to avoid a C-section.  They let me have my “last meal” before being admitted, and Zack went home to pick up all of our stuff for the hospital, including our car.  The next time we would be going home, we would be going home with a baby.  This reality was finally creeping in on us, and it brought a whole new meaning to Labor Day Weekend.

Once the induction process started, it was a long road.  It finally got started around 6:30pm (after being in the hospital since 9 am).  12 hours and another day later things finally seemed like maybe they were moving along.  Unfortunately, after the midwife examined me…it turned out that things were not really moving along all too well.  Rather, than drug me up with more and more pitocin (which they did not think would work for a natural delivery), she suggested that we start the process over.  WHAT?  Again?  12 more hours of this?  And what if it doesn’t work again?  I am doomed for a C-section.  I wasn’t feeling too optimistic at this point, but I trusted that the midwife was recommending the best thing for me and what what we wanted for this delivery.  So, they let me take a shower, have another “last meal”, and we tried again.

Somehow, someway, the process worked this time and I started progressing.  That was a ridiculously happy moment for us, and I started to feel hopeful.  The rest of that afternoon, I felt contractions, but I wasn’t in a terrible amount of pain.  My mom, sister, and mother-in-law were able to make it up to NY in time to be there before the delivery.  I had very lucid conversations with them through my contractions, and I was generally pleasant for a lot of the time.

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I kept progressing, they eventually broke my water, and it was then that everything kicked into high gear.  My contractions started getting more difficult to handle, and thank God for those birthing classes my husband and I took as he was so helpful in getting me through a lot of them.  Eventually it got to a point where I said, “I don’t have to be supermom right?  I need an epidural.”  It didn’t kick in right away, but let me tell you…I was so happy when it did.  Before we knew it, the midwife was telling me it was time to push.  Already?  For such a slow start, this birth certainly was moving quickly now!  We didn’t even have time to tell our family that it was go time.  We just had to go.  A small army of medical professionals surrounded us and my nether region, but at this point, I was so over feeling awkward…I mean I had to pee in a bedpan for the past 24 hours, because they couldn’t unhook me from the machines…my humility had already gone out the window.  I pushed like a rock star for only 20 minutes, and our baby boy finally arrived!  Right before he came out, his heart rate started to drop, and there were talks of possibly using a vacuum to get him out.  I guess that was all I needed to hear to get him out as soon as possible.  Turns out, the culprit was the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice that had tightened up as he was coming down the birth canal.  Thank God for those last quick pushes.  They placed him on my chest, and I was so overwhelmed with emotion and shock, and I don’t even know what else.  It was so surreal that this little “alien” jumping around in my belly for nine months was finally here and a teeny tiny human in the real world.  My Little Monkey.  My Nico.

It was a magical experience, that I don’t think you can even accurately describe or understand the feeling unless you have gone through it yourself.  We stayed at the hospital for about a day and a half after Nico’s birth, trying to recover and pick up all the tricks of the trade from the nurses.  My husband even videotaped a nurse doing a swaddle.  Trust me, it has definitely helped out at home!  It was pretty unreal taking our baby home and realizing that we were now officially parents who had a new job of raising this child.

My mother-in-law stayed with us for a few days to help out with cooking, cleaning, giving us time to catch up on sleep, etc.  We are extremely grateful to have such a wonderful support system.  Once she left, we missed her and the help, but it was nice to try and figure out this parenting thing on our own, and get into as much of a routine as we possibly could.

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since our little Nico arrived.  I already feel like we have been through so much emotionally, mentally, physically, and more.  As soon as we think we have things figured out, something changes.  Everyone says this, and I thought I would be different, but breastfeeding is not easy.  Sleep is so important for your sanity and well-being.  And it’s integral to get out of the house every now and then.

Nico is doing well and gaining back his birth weight.  He has been a pretty awesome baby so far, and he sleeps a lot for which we are very appreciative.  As crazy and exhausting and hard as motherhood can be, I am loving every minute of it so far.  Just seeing that little face every day, the little smiles he gives, and knowing that my husband and I created such an innocent, wonderful little being makes everything worth it.  I already feel like time is moving by so fast, and before I know it, he will be going off to prom or getting married.  I am so excited for the journey that is to come and ready to take on all of the challenges that come with being a mommy.

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Heading home from the hospital

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Like father like son

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Nico with his Nana (my Grandma)

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He smiles!

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Silly Monkey

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First trip to Prospect Park

Since this major life change, I can’t promise to keep up with my blog as often as I once did, and I can’t promise I will take a shower every day.  But I can promise to give this baby the world, my best, and everything I’ve got.

XO,

Gina

A Storybook Shower

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Last Saturday I was down in Maryland to celebrate a baby shower for my sister-in-law and future baby nephew!  It was adorably themed as a storybook shower, with many of the food options based on some of our favorite childhood books.  We each also brought a book in place of a card to shower the momma-to-be and start a library collection for her little guy.  I am so excited to meet my nephew, and looking forward to introducing our boys so soon!  Of course, I had to get our last bump-to-bump shot as well.  It’s crazy to think that the next time I see my sister-in-law, we will both be moms!

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Happy Bump Day 😉

It’s been a busy week here with long work hours, doctor’s appointments, a dinner date with a friend in town from Detroit, and more.  Hope you are all having a good one as well!

XO,

Gina

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Women Should Talk About It

Now, my blog is usually a place of happiness, fun, fashion, & adventure…and I don’t intend on changing that.  But my blog is also about life.  And life is not always rainbows and butterflies.  As much as I would like it to be sometimes, that is just not the case.  So if I sat here and only talked about happy things all the time, then this blog would just not be real.  And I think sometimes we need a dose of reality.  It may be tough for some of you to read this.  It has been a struggle for me to sit down and write this and go back to this place.  But this is a topic that most women don’t openly talk about, and I honestly think that they should.  There is no reason to hide it.  It happens more often than we think.  We just don’t realize it, because no one talks about it.  You’re probably now thinking “just go ahead and say what you are talking about!”  So here we go…

At this point, most of you now know that we have a Little Monkey on the way.  And we are SOOOOO incredibly excited!  What you may not know is that before there was a Little Monkey…there was a Peanut.  My sweet, sweet little Peanut.  My husband and I found out in September that we were expecting a child.  I had a feeling that maybe I should take a pregnancy test.  And let me tell you, I am not one of those people that freaks out and takes pregnancy tests often.  I actually had NEVER taken one in my entire life until that day…when we got those two lines.  It was actually quite surprising, because it pretty much happened “right away.”  We were shocked and ecstatic at the same time.  We said we wouldn’t tell anyone for awhile since it was so early…but then the next day, we just got too excited and told everyone.  Well, not everyone.  But all of our family, close friends, etc.  Let’s just say it was quite a few people.

The day after we found out, we were on Cloud 9.  We went to lay out in Prospect Park, pretty much skipping the whole way there.  We hung out on a blanket under the sunshine and just daydreamed of what our life would be like when our little Peanut arrived in May.  Right in time for our 2 year wedding anniversary.  We daydreamed about Peanut coming to his/her first Outer Banks vacation with the family, the 1st Christmas, taking the stroller around the city in the summertime.  It was pretty much the best day ever.  To think that we would be bringing this beautiful little life into the world.  We named the baby Peanut, because “it” just sounded awful, and we didn’t know the sex of the baby yet to say “he” or “she.”  My husband and I are both kind of small, so we figured Peanut was a perfect name for our little one.

I immediately went into “Mom” mode.  The smell of cigarette smoke at a party made me flee the scene immediately.  Alcohol was not even missed on a Saturday night.  I started reading up on all the websites and blogs for the right things to eat/not eat, pregnancy tips, etc.  I was completely protective of my little Peanut, and felt like I was already a Mom.  Although it had only been a short time, it felt like I had been carrying Peanut for much longer.

A week and a half or so after we got the good news of being pregnant, I started to have some complications.  I wasn’t sure if anything was really wrong at first, because sometimes these symptoms can happen, and everything can be just fine.  I called my mother-in-law (a midwife herself) constantly asking questions.  But as the week progressed, my complications started to get worse, and I started to get worried.  I didn’t have a doctor in NY yet, since prior to getting pregnant, I only needed to go to my OB/GYN once a year.  I had just scheduled my appointments to go when I was in Maryland during the holidays or family vacation.  Luckily, I had done some research in the NY area, and found two options that I was going to try out.  When the complications started happening, I called them both immediately.  Because, I was not already a patient, the first office I called pretty much told me there was “nothing they could do.”  If I was going to miscarry, I was going to miscarry.  That if things started to get “really bad,” then I should go to the ER.  I was kind of shocked, but I didn’t accept that for answer.  I called the other office, and luckily they brought me in for a sonogram the following day.

That day was very promising.  We saw our little Peanut on the monitor.  And there was a heartbeat!  It was the most amazing feeling, and it was extremely encouraging.  We left that day feeling very optimistic into the weekend, and overall happy that someone cared enough to help us and make us feel comfortable during this scary and terrifying time.

Unfortunately, my complications didn’t get any better, and they started to get worse throughout the weekend.  I had severe pains that weekend, and I started to get extremely worried.  I cried.  And cried.  I thought the worst.  My husband consoled me.  He was still optimistic.  We scheduled an appointment for another sonogram that Monday.

We looked up at the screen for our little Peanut…and there was nothing there.  Blank.  Just an empty uterus.  My husband was in denial.  He thought maybe we needed to do the internal sonogram again, because the baby was just too small and we couldn’t see Peanut.  But they tried that too.  And still blank.  Gone.  Just completely gone.  We both broke down at that point.  It was the first time I ever saw my husband cry in my life.  And we have been together for over 8 years.  It was my turn to console him, yet it was almost impossible as I was pretty inconsolable myself.

It felt like Peanut had just been ripped away from us.  Stolen.  The day before I had been a Mom.  And now I wasn’t.  I had been planning a baby nursery and summer plans…and now I was sitting here empty-wombed and broken.  Like I had never even been pregnant.  Like everything should just go back to normal life.  It was horrible.  I do not wish miscarriage on anyone.  We tried to be optimistic.  We said we would try again.  But we also acknowledged that the next baby would still not be our little Peanut.  We would always feel that we should have had Peanut as our first child.

Fast forward to becoming pregnant with Little Monkey.  Because we had lost Peanut, we really, really, really wanted Little Monkey.  We were lucky it did not take long.  Not that Little Monkey will ever replace Peanut.  There is no way that would ever be possible.  But maybe…just maybe there was a reason for all of this.  If we hadn’t lost Peanut, there would also be no Little Monkey on the way.  Now, I could never choose one child over another.  But maybe something was wrong with Peanut in the womb.  Maybe he/she wasn’t healthy or wasn’t developing properly.  And maybe Peanut took the sacrifice by allowing Little Monkey a shot at this big, bad world instead.  We’ll never really know, but I do hope that one day we can see our little Peanut in Heaven.

I have to say it was difficult to get excited about Little Monkey at first.  I wanted to be.  I felt like a bad Mom because I felt like I was forcing my excitement, and it wasn’t as real as my excitement with Peanut.  “I should be more excited,” I thought.  “Why can’t I be?”  Well, the reason was because I was so damn nervous.  I was terrified actually.  I couldn’t get excited, because I couldn’t deal with the loss if another child was torn away from me.  If I got excited, then it got real.  I might jinx it.  I couldn’t bear being in that dark place of unhappiness and sadness again, and so I just tried to get through day by day as if things were normal.  If I didn’t think about it too much, then the time would pass by, and before I knew it, BOOM I would be in the “safe zone.”

Well, it didn’t exactly zoom past, but it did get easier and easier with time to get excited and be less nervous.  We passed our 7 1/2 week point where we lost Peanut and that was helpful.  Then, every week after that, we got more and more excited and confident that this time things were going to work out for us.  When we went to hear Little Monkey’s heartbeat for the first time, I was extremely nervous.  After it was confirmed that there was a little one inside me, I said “OH THANK GOD,” in the office.  The midwife said, “What, were you nervous?”  And I explained what had happened the first time.  She then told me, “Well, just get ready, because this is the beginning of being nervous for the rest of your life.”

She makes a good point.  I’m sure I won’t stop worrying just a little bit throughout my entire pregnancy.  And I’m sure I will worry the first time Little Monkey gets sick, or something goes wrong, get his/her first injury, grows up and gets his/her drivers license, goes off to college, etc. etc.  That’s just what motherhood is.  Constant worrying and nervousness.

But it’s important to also ENJOY it.  I don’t want to live life saying that I was a nervous wreck and didn’t enjoy my pregnancy at all.  I want to enjoy as much of life as humanly possible.  I accept that we are presented with challenges and complications in life.  Nothing turns out perfectly.  And things don’t always turn out the way you would expect them to.  But I think it’s important to enjoy what you can.

So far my pregnancy with Little Monkey is going really well, and I am determined to relish in these moments while I have them.  So farewell to any negative thoughts.  I am staying positive from here on out.  I am back to my typical self of planning and daydreaming about what lies ahead for our little family.  Zack and I are really excited for the arrival of our Little Monkey, and we are ready to take on whatever challenges we were meant to face.  We are strong and we can overcome, and we hope to teach our Little Monkey these same life lessons come September. 🙂

XO,

Gina

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