I'm not quite sure when our little boy turned into a big kid, but here he is. 5 years old today. I feel compelled to write this in scattered thoughts like the conversations we have. He will ask the most random questions and is thrilled to hear a ten minute explanation, especially during church or a movie. He loves every sport and will gladly play with anyone. He is quiet but full of personality. He likes to help me cook. He is happy to play with kids 3 years older or 3 years younger than himself. He is a night owl and only wakes up in the morning if his breakfast is ready. He is our middle dude. He loves his older brother and wants to do everything he does. He is also protective of his younger sister and endlessly entertains her. He is by far the silliest of the 3 and can make either one laugh in an instant. He is our peacemaker. Always the first to compromise or share. He gets very sensitive when he's overtired. He just learned to ride his bike without training wheels and is so proud of himself. He always "loses his question." He is aloof most of the time and can get lost walking to the car. Sometimes, we think he may actually be living on his own planet. But then he will put something together the we can't even do. The most frequent answer to a question we receive is still "Whaaaaat?" We adore his laugh and mischievous smile, his quiet confidence and willingness to help. Unless that includes picking up all the toys that he pulled out. If there are tools or cleaning supplies involved, he is in! He wants to be a hockey goalie and takes pride in putting on all the pads and practices the moves he has memorized while in goal. He loves being outdoors and swimming. I think he would sleep outside, if we would let him. He is my adventurer who loves to explore and gather treasure. Anything we find is exciting and he is just as happy to toss it as he is to find it. It does not take much to make this guy happy and we are so thankful for him!
Happy 5th Birthday Joey! We love you so much!
7 years ago, this boy made me a mother. All 5 lbs, 7 oz of him. That tiny baby turned our world upside down and changed us forever, in the best way. Because of him, our hearts grew larger, patience stronger, and laughter more abundant. He is strong and loving, kind and fiercely protective. I am so proud of how well he has transitioned from a comfortable life in Buffalo, NY that he knew well, to a brand new one in Orlando, FL. He has adjusted to a new place, new schedule, new way of learning, and has made some great friends along the way.
It always amazes me just how much changes in the course of a year. He has been more shy than I have ever seen him. I suppose at this age, he's also learning that he can be vulnerable. He thinks armpit farts and chickens are hilarious. He is learning by himself that most superheroes are not real, but he still loves them. I feel I have a short amount of time remaining for him to want to watch cartoon movies with me, and snuggle while we watch. We are now reading books together, rather than me reading to him. He still asks for extra hugs at bed time, which I will cherish for as long as he continues to ask.
Most days, he is dressed in a superhero costume. If not a costume, it's mesh shorts and a superhero t-shirt. I had to make him change his two sizes too small Flash shirt for this photo. He immediately ripped it off, Hulk style. He loves adventure and all animals. He can talk for an entire car ride, asking question after question, but has started to read books on long drives. He loves playing hockey, soccer, and swimming. Most of all, he loves his family. He is beast of a boy with an even bigger heart. We are so proud of the person he is becoming.
Happy 7th Birthday, Bubba!
How can you not love this town? The architecture, the history, the food...New Orleans is amazing. So, I got of Orlando for the weekend and tagged along with my husband on one of his work trips and did some exploring while he was in meetings. I found so many aspects of this city intriguing. I love the meshing of cultures, the Spanish and French influences, the eclectic nuances throughout the city. Everything was just so alive. Music in the street, to-go cups for your drinks, the place is surreal. We saw a wedding ceremony decend out to the street with a full band and the whole reception danced down the street, following the lead of the bride and groom. You couldn't help but stop to watch! That is certainly new, grand exit idea, brides!!
We were only there for a few days, but I was happy to get back to kiddos. I feel like they grew so much in such a short time. Well, Tess is no longer sitting in a high chair since we returned, so she really is a big girl now! Being away from the ones you love for some time really makes you embrace the time you share with them. Mike and I had countless conversations about the kids, what they were up to and how we missed them. The wild life of parents! It was a fun trip and I'm happy to be home.
I took way to many photos...so I will apologize in advance for the overshare of buildings and all things random, quirky and NOLA related! Enjoy!
There is something about the last few minutes before bed or a nap. This little one is so snuggly. She will back peddle, scootch right into my lap, and look up at me. She lays her head back for a moment and sniffs her blanket. I know she is beyond tired, but these precious few minutes are so sweet that I allow her to linger. Perhaps, it is her way of procrastinating, but it reminds me of when she was a tiny baby and wanted to be held all the time. I notice her wanting to do everything on her own now and it is these quiet moments that I don't ever want to forget.
Pinky is her comfort when she is tired. All three of our children have a blanket they use when they sleep. Our oldest has a scrap of his, but after 6 years, he still sleeps with it. The many nights, naps, and trips out when they were too tired or sick to leave their beloved blankies at home. I know this sole pink blanket will be ripped and shredded very soon. Replacements will be ordered. Pinky has gotten us through the last days of nursing, fevers and teething, and sleeping on trips away from home. It smells just like her.
It is so hard to believe that 18 months have passed since she was born. Days are not perfect. There are tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. But, she turns it on before bed. She scampers out from the bathtub and lies right on the floor, ready to be dressed in her jammies. I know she is exhausted. It's tough keeping up with two older brothers all day. I pick her up and she leans her little head against mine and pats my shoulder with her tiny hand. It melts my heart. I lay her down in her crib. She snuggles up with Pinky and gives me a very enthusiastic "Bye-Bye".
Maybe it's because I know this is our last baby, I am hanging on to every single memory. I keep trying to etch these moments into my brain or write about it so I don't forget these sweet memories. Maybe I'm just getting older and it's hard to remember anything! As they grow, we also grow as parents. We become more observant, more patient. I am learning to find comfort in the tender moments, amidst the chaos of the day, and know that although it seems they are growing much too quickly, we are all growing together.
Photographed on film.
Meet Mary's newest addition! Baby Kate!
I finally got to meet her when Mary and her family came to Florida for a visit last week. It was worth the wait. But, she is so much bigger now!! Kate is such an adorable little girl and she is so good! She sleeps through the night and most of the day and only cries when she's hungry. This one, is a baby dream. We had six kiddos playing and sleeping under one roof and this sweet newborn was, by far, the best sleeper of the bunch. Her big sister and brother already adore her and Tess was fascinated by this tiny person that was smaller than her. She learned the word "baby" while Kate was visiting and she would point to Kate and excitedly scream, "Baby, baby, baby!" There were probably a few pokes in there too, as she was very enthusiastic about the baby.
Mary took these portraits! I'm so proud of her!! Book your sessions now..hehe! :)
So this is pretty exciting!
The Editors' Choice Awards honor Two Bright Lights submitters whose work was continually recognized by top print magazines, blogs, and websites. Just honored to be a part of this group!
So this is happening. In a few short days. Wow!! It will be all green and sunshine and no snow. What will we do with ourselves?! I think we've packed in as much as we could these last couple of weeks. Lots of visiting with friends and family, eating out at all of our favorite restaurants, and spending time in this little house we bought 4 years ago, never planning to live in it for long, and it has become our greatest sense of the word "home". Even with it's age, never really converting it from a double to a single family residence, and all of the many flaws that have driven me crazy, we will all miss this home of ours. Yes, we will be back for summer but it will still be different, secluded to the upper apartment. I believe that Tommy will remember this place. All of the many "battles" he and Joey have had dressed as super heroes, snuggling up in our bed, playing bubble hockey in the basement, begging to cross the street to play with the "Baloney boys". I really hope Joey remembers, this is the only place he has ever lived. Mini stick hockey is played daily and he sets up all his Starting Lineup hockey guys on "the ice", which varies between our living room floor and the hallway. He uses the Dustbuster as a Zamboni to clean the ice. It is so cute! Tess will have many photographs to remember her first home. I feel change is much harder for me after I've had children. I'm continuously second guessing every decision and wondering if it's right for us as a family, for them. As Tommy keeps telling me he's "already 6 and a half", I can't help but believe that these days we are living - yesterday, today, tomorrow, these will be the good old days. The times when the kids need us, they still think we are cool and they want to hang out with us. These are the times we will look back on and think, "remember when." I find myself reflecting on how big the kids have gotten. When did they grow up? I feel this is magnified as I'm packing up our things and deciding, sometimes gleeful and sometimes with a heavy heart, what we will bring with us and what will be donated or thrown in the trash. As 2017 comes to a close, new beginnings occur for everyone. It's hard to say goodbye to this life we have built in Buffalo, but our new beginning will be to a place where we have family and friends, a place that is familiar and a place that is warm and sunny! 2018 we are (almost) ready!!!
And here are some film scans from the last time we were in Orlando. P was her usual, cooperative self. One day, we will look back on these and laugh! Thanks, Dad, for making me get in a couple photos to calm her down. Don't mind my greasy top knot. Although who am I kidding? That is how I usually roll!
New beginnings are often bittersweet. As I am writing, I'm feeling so many different emotions. My husband recently accepted a new role at his company and we will be moving to Orlando, FL. We are sad to leave Buffalo, but excited about this next chapter. We will be moving in January!
Thank you for all of your support over these last few years. I cherish every friendship, and have loved watching all of your families grow. I plan to travel back to Buffalo for the weddings I have booked in 2018. We are also planning to spend summers in Buffalo. Once I have those dates, I will post them if anyone is interested in a summer photo session! I keep telling myself we will be like snowbirds, basically only missing winter!!
We are lucky to be moving to a place that we are familiar with. We lived in Orlando 5 years ago, before moving to Buffalo. We will be returning to the neighborhood where we used to live and are excited to be closer to my family in Florida and all of our Florida friends. Tommy is worried about missing his friends and meeting new ones which breaks my heart, but he's an outgoing kid so I think he will do just fine. Joey is excited about the move because he wants to go swimming, so there's that. Tess is along for the ride, and it will be a long plane ride with her. We are pretty pumped to be able to come back to Buffalo for summers, because it's definitely one of the coolest places to live, especially during the summer! Most people will never understand that until they live here, but after five years, I've grown very attached to this place and our neighborhood. Even as I look out my window and see 18" of snow on the ground, I love it here. The people in Buffalo are just the best! Hopefully, we will have lots of winter friends trying to escape the cold and snow that will want to come and visit!!
On another note, I got the film back from our last trip to Florida. I shot a roll of the three of them playing, wrestling, laughing...just a day in the life. That little Peanut is not one to be left out, so she's always right there in the thick of it.
Since film is light hungry, it seems sunny Florida will be a good place to continue learning this medium!
This year's group family photo session. 91 degrees, 100% humidity. The hottest day of the year, but the only day we could do it. It was so incredibly hot, we lasted less than 5 minutes. Everyone was completely soaked with sweat and beyond thrilled to be at the beach in their nice clothes. The older kids were mad they couldn't go in the water because it was closed due to harmful bacteria. Ewww! The babies decided to hate sand on this particular day and Tess screamed most of the time. (This is becoming a trend.) We took some really great photos on film, but I realized later that I had never loaded the film in the camera. So, life happens. This is our crazy life right now.
On a side note, doesn't Mary look amazing!!! I can't believe baby #3 is due in January!!
How is our little peanut already one year old?! She is walking, trying to repeat words, clapping and not wanting to sit down. Ever. Not even in the tub or high chair, and especially not while at Wegman's or Target. This is one busy little girl. She was sick, teething and has scabs on the tops of every single toe from Joey taking her for a ride in the red push car, but she performed. Come on, we all knew she'd be fine with a cake in front of her. If there's one thing P like to do, it's eat! She walks around the house screaming MY with her hand out whenever she hears a package opening or someone in the kitchen. She is something!
Things I'd like to remember:
She has 4 teeth. The top 2 teeth are coming in going different directions, like East and West.
She loves playing rough with the boys and is not afraid to pile jump when she sees an opportunity.
She smiles and does a little dance when she hears a song she likes.
Has a few words: Dada, My, Mama, Bubba, Ow.
Her favorite item is "Pinky," her pink blanket that she pulls out of her crib and rubs up to her nose when she's tired.
She sucks her tongue to soothe herself and go to sleep.
Loves to sleep in her crib, definitely the easiest baby to put to bed. She doesn't make a peep.
Loves any type of ball or sword the boys leave behind.
Favorite thing to do is to go up the stairs or roll away while you are changing her diaper.
Happy Birthday baby girl!! We may have to call you the baby forever, even though you have thought you were 4 since birth.
It takes a village. I owe a huge thank you to Mary O'Sullivan and Fran for coming over to help entertain this little stinker and to Kelley Comerford for the beautiful floral arrangement she created for the cake! Thank you so very much!!!