Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Baby Shower Fit for a Princess

One of my best friends is having her first baby, and I am beyond excited and happy for her. I found out on accident; she hadn't been ready to tell anyone, but for some reason I just had a gut feeling and went with it. When I asked her, she admitted it, though she was quite reluctant. I was so happy for her at that moment I thought I was going to cry. It was surreal. We had met at ShopRite, where she met and fell in love with her husband and the father of their baby. I was there during their first hello, their wedding, and now I'll be there for their new addition. It's crazy how time just flies by.

She later found out that she would be having a little princess, and it got even more real. Her baby shower was approaching, and when it arrived I had a bag full of baby items that I was all too excited to buy. No really, I spent hours at babies r us going through all of the items on her registry, and trying to get the best gift for her little one. Sal lucked out that night and was working so he didn't have to come with me. Instead of cards, we all were able to purchase a children's book and write a message, so she could read it to the baby when she arrived. 

Her baby shower was beautifully set up. Right when you walked in she had a table where you could write the new mom and dad to be a short piece of parenting advice to help them in this new chapter of their life. When we walked in, tables were set up, and everyone had already dug into the delicious appetizers. The gifts were lined up on the table on the side, and there was a table just for headband making. Each guest was asked to make a headband, or two, for the baby to wear when she arrived. It was decorated adorably, and I might have made more than two, or three. 

Dinner came and went, and conversations slowed. Just as dessert was arriving, my friend and her husband began opening the gifts together. I thought it was so sweet that her husband came to help open the gifts, because this is a time they should be sharing - the gifts are for their baby. She received many, many gifts, and that baby is so loved already - it was so clear to see.

Before leaving we were asked to grab a bag of sweets from the candy table, and a bag of tea and nail polish.

The shower went off without a hitch, and as I helped her organize some of the clothes in the baby's nursery, I kept thinking that this was one lucky baby. I cannot wait to meet her, I might be just as excited as her mommy, but probably not! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rock & Roll Yoga

I used to shy away from new things, afraid of change, afraid that I wouldn't like it or wouldn't be good at it, but as I've grown older, I've realized that you won't know if you don't like something unless you try it. What is the use of this fear? It does nothing but hold you back from new experiences and keep you afraid. It has you in a chokehold and ir has no plans to let go. I have chosen to actively notice my thoughts, thanks to Gabrielle Bernstein and her book May Cause Miracles.

So when I noticed there was going to be a rock & roll yoga class, I was curious, and went along with my curiosity. I went into work early and met my friend at the yoga studio. I've wanted to get back into yoga lately, so any chance I get I try and go. It was buy one get one free, so my friend and I were able to split the price, which is just an added benefit. 

We laid out our yoga mats, and at first I was nervous, the lights were off, insense was lit, and there were intruments set up. Turns out there was someone who would play those instruments, which only made me more conscious of the situation, especially when he started to play them. It was, to my surprise, actually comforting to hear the music while doing yoga. I'm still not 100% sold on the chanting an oming, but I try a little bit more and a little bit louder every time. 

When I do yoga I always become warm, and immediately when it's over my body feels cold. I'd be lying if I said yoga isn't a workout, because some of those moves are tough, and not everyone can do them, at least not right away. It's always great to challenge yourself and test your limits, because with time, you get better. Practice makes perfect right? 

So regardless of any fear, you should always try new things. I loved the rock and roll yoga, it was new and yet oddly comforting. It brought me to a higher level of awareness, and I felt as if it came at just the right time. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Fajita Night

Whenever Sal asks to cook for me, I let him. Since we don't live together, he doesn't cook for me as often as I would like, but it's just enough, for now at least. After our usual CKO session, I decided that I was going to spoil myself by getting a mani and a pedi. I never get my nails done, but need to get a pedicure almost every month in the summer. Sal was all for me taking the morning for myself, but suggested that he make dinner for the two of us, which is fine by me. I love watching him cook, and helping annoying him, in any way I can. He went out and bought the ingredients, as my feet were soaking in the tub. I think the best part of those pedicures are the foot massages, but they always seem to go so fast.

My little morning seemed to fly by, and pretty soon, I was back at home, smelling fajitas cooking on the stove. I was able to get in some studying, while Sal marinated the meat, and began to simmer it. Studying has proved to be a lot harder to do now that I'm out of school for almost two years. It's easy to be motivated when your boyfriend makes you do it though, and you're sitting there telling yourself you can't eat that delicious smelling food unless you finish a chapter.

Sal made sangria too, cutting the fresh fruit, adding tequila, white and red wine to the pitcher. We put together a small salad to go with our fajitas. Once we laid out our spread, I began salivating. We poured our sangria in mason jars, and clinked them together. The meat looking incredible, and the peppers and onions were so colorful. I could not wait to try everything, and once I did there was no turning back. I felt like I could eat all of it, but of course I didn't. Instead, I took the fajitas to work for the next few days. I didn't even mind it, that's how good they were. I couldn't take the sangria to work, which was a shame, because even that was tasty.

Needless to say, I had to work out extra hard at CKO the next morning. It SO was worth it. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

1st Mets Game of the Season

You know your team isn't doing so well when Dunkin Donuts has Buy One ticket Get One Free coupons. Regardless, Sal grabbed a few coupons, and we set a day we would head to Citi Field to watch our Mets. We headed in nice and early so we wouldn't hit any traffic, and we'd be able to see batting practice. It wasn't great weather, but Sal convinced me that we'd be fine. We arrived too early so after buying our tickets, we sat in the car. He listened to the radio, as I got some studying in. Once the gates were open, we started our walk to the field. The clouds came in slowly, and I was worried it was going to rain. 

When you're at Citi Field, if you don't go to the Shake Shack, you're making a terrible decision. They have THE BEST burgers. They added the calories to the menus, so pay no attention to those when you're ordering. They're that good that I am telling you to ignore the calories. We ordered our burgers and fries, and ate standing at the high tables. 

Thankfully, the rain was still holding up. We found our seats afterwards, and we got lucky! Our seats ended up being underneath the other level. We were protected from the bitter rain! I was happy, even though the temperature dropped, and I was bundled up as much as you can be in the spring. 

The game started, and I realized it had been awhile since I had watched a Mets game, because I did not know many, many players on the team. Still, I sat back and enjoyed the game. It ended up raining a few times during the game, and I smiled knowing that we were covered, watching the other fans take cover. The Mets powered through, but it wasn't enough to stop the opposing team, because we lost.

It wasn't the best game I'd ever gone to, but it was a game nonetheless.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Flashback to Easter

I have much to catch up on in the blog world, and I'm okay with that. Don't mind me as I play catch up. I still want to document all of life's adventures and celebrations, so I will, regardless of how long it takes me... regardless that I'm blogging about Easter, when I probably should be blogging about Memorial Day, but I'll catch up... maybe one day.

The Saturday before Easter, I had to work, but I didn't mind. We ordered hard boiled eggs, and a wonderful group donated easter egg dying kits for the kids. I set up everything in the playroom, and invited the kids, their parents, and even the nurses to get involved in egg dying. Regardless of whether these children are in the hospital or not, traditions must still happen! If I was younger, and I wasn't able to participate in these traditions with my family, like easter egg dying or opening presents on Christmas, I would have been extremely upset. Of course, I would have gotten over it, but for children, it's like the end of the world. The following day, on Easter, a fellow Child Life Specialist came in and did an Easter egg hunt with the children, and even passed out Easter baskets!

While the children were waking up and opening their Easter baskets, I was preparing myself for a free yoga class with a friend. We had heard about it from another friend, and thought it would be the perfect time to try a different workout; it being free was just an added bonus. We headed to the studio, and had an incredible class - I even ended up doing a headstand, with help of course. I want to try to continue to do yoga - it is on my 25 before 25 list after all. We decided to stop for a fresh smoothie from a local place, and while mine was a little watery, it ended up being refreshing. 

I headed home after to get ready for our early Easter dinner. Before I got ready though, I made sure to open my Easter basket, which was filled with healthy treats! The Easter bunny sure understands my healthy lifestyle!

My family always eats Easter dinner early, which is different than any other night, and any other holiday. Usually we eat dinner late, so I look forward to Easter. In the past we've spent Easter with family, or at home by ourselves, but for the past two years, we've eaten out, and it's worked out really well. Good food, great company, without all the added stress and mess. I know what you're thinking - "What about the people working?! Don't you feel bad that they have to work, and you're enjoying time with your family, when they can't?" Yes, I do feel bad, and those thoughts have crossed my mind, but I hope that they volunteered to work, and that they were planning on spending time with their family that night, or celebrate the day before/the day after. 

We headed off to dinner - just the four of us. We went to the same restaurant we went to last year, and enjoyed the light laughter of the kids at the other tables, the families talking and enjoying one another's company, and the food that seemed to just keep coming, along with the sangria. We ended up getting dessert, and of course, I tried to get something on the healthier side, and that's when my eyes came to find the coconut sorbet, served in a coconut shell (I may or may not have had this last year as well). 

Sal and I don't usually spend the holiday together, unless we meet up later that night. Well my family decided at dinner that we would be heading to my cousin's house afterwards, and I just could not wait. I love spending time with family - especially my cousins, if you couldn't tell from my posts. No drama, just conversation over more food, and laughter. There was plenty of laughter when we arrived, especially when the chocolate icing just somehow ended up all over my cousin's face. The night seemed to fly by, and when Sal had finished celebrating Easter with his family, he joined mine. It was a long day, but a memorable one to say the least. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

If nothing else...

When Sal & I go on mini getaways, we, or should I say he, usually plans them extremely well. He asks around for good towns to go to in other states, he checks hotel websites and reviews, and always looks for things for us to do around the town. I have to admit, I'm a very lucky girl. It's not that I don't like looking for new places to go, but I must admit usually everything I plan turns out pretty bad - like buying amazing seats to see the Jets (well really Brett Favre at the time) and it DOWNPOURING, and I mean  down pouring like I've never seen. Now after spending all that money, we weren't about to leave the game, so we battled through. So since then, I'm not the planner of any getaways.

A few weeks ago, I had a longer weekend off from work, so Sal and I figured we'd go away for a few days. He suggested a few places we had already been to, but I like going to new places. So after talking we decided to go someplace close (2-3 hours away), and eventually ended up choosing Connecticut. He found a town near a wine trail and we thought we were set. We had planned to spend some time outside hiking at state parks, and enjoying wine at the different wineries. We are suckers for wine trails. Well it turned out that wineries are not open this time of year, apparently it's not the right 'season.' I get that it was early spring, but come on. We couldn't understand it, and after I groveled for a few minutes, sal was able to cheer me up. We were together, away, and that's what I needed to focus on. 

He looked online and found a state park nearby, with a waterfall, of course, so we decided to go on a hike. We wandered through the woods, forgetting our water bottles in the car, trying to figure out the trail map (we didn't, we just kept walking). We chatted and explored as if we were the only two on the earth. If nothing else, we found several water falls, and Sal got to use his GoPro to document it.

Once we found our way back to the car, making a complete circle, not forcing ourselves to go back through the same set of woods, we were starving and probably dehydrated. We decided to head back to the inn, and grab lunch at a local deli, which ended up having the best wraps, served with a piece of their homemade cake on the side! I had never seen a cuter lunch, and it was delicious - I don't know if it was because we were starving, or because they really were so delicious. We went back to the room to relax until dinner at a local Mediterranean spot, deciding to try it because we had never had that type of food before. It was interesting to say the least. We made sure to bring a bottle of wine with us.

We headed home and ended the night like every night should end - in each other's arms. 

The next morning we grabbed breakfast, and I headed to the hotel gym, while Sal hung out in the room and read. I love working out in hotels, especially when you're the only person. They have everything you need and I could look up ((Tone It Up)) workouts on my phone. We quickly got ready afterwards, and headed out to the store. We picked up salads for lunch, and found a scattergories card game, which made the afternoon fly by.

At the store we thought, "If we couldn't go to a winery, we were going to make our own, in our room." I can't take the credit for this - it was all Sal. We bought three different wines to 'taste' and picked up prosciutto, cheese, crackers, and fresh bread. We got all dressed up - i wasn't  about to let a nice outfit sit in my suitcase! Sal set up our table - made a reserved sign, put together out plate settings, and even found a tablecloth (okay, it was a towel, but you couldn't even tell)! We ordered room service, and put music on. That awkward moment came when the room service came and the guy walked in and basically told us that we were in a town that no one comes to visit... ever. If nothing else, we had our own wine tasting.

The night slipped away, and before we knew it the morning came, as did the snow. It was beautiful to the point of wearing short sleeves the day we arrived, and now on the day we were leaving, less than 48 hours later, it was snowing! It had snowed while we were sleeping, but we were still determined to get one more hike in before we left. We drove a bit, but found an incredible place to hike, well really climb the stairs right against the waterfall that seemed to be never ending. It was so icy near the waterfall, and the snow covered the ground, but we kept at it until we made it to the top. If nothing else, we built a snowman (we may have referenced Frozen).

I always get upset after vacations and mini getaways. Sal and I spend such little time together when we're home since we don't live together, and so during vacations I treasure the time so much, that I don't want it to end, but I guess that's with anything you love - you never want it to end.

If nothing else, we visited a new state. 

If nothing else, we were together. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

DVACLP Conference Spring 2014

When I was hired as a child life specialist back in May of 2013, I never thought that I would be presenting at a Child Life Conference, especially not in my first year! That all changed one fall day when my boss told my coworkers and I that we would be hosting the Spring 2014 Delaware Valley Association of Child Life Professionals Conference. I was excited of course, and knew it would be my time to shine, so I had to volunteer to present. It only made sense for the hosts to present during the conference, but I wasn't doing it alone. I wasn't a great public speaker prior to landing this job, and to have to speak for an hour kind of scared me. My boss chose to present with me, and I breathed a sigh of relief! I had written a paper in college about Mindful Meditation, specifically for child life specialists, and decided to add in more about compassion fatigue, burnout, and other self-care tips. My boss and I put in many, many hours researching and preparing our presentation, adding in fun activities to get the audience involved.

In the end, we were happy with what we came up with. To think that putting together a conference is easy, is a joke. It took a ton of work on all of our parts - ordering thank you bags, setting up food orders, putting together folders, itinerary, and a poster board, typing up name tags, and creating a tour to hold. Our to-do list was endless. Thankfully we had the whole team working together {CCLSs, nurses, and other healthcare professionals} because I don't think everything would have gotten done. 

The day arrived faster than we all expected it, and I was on the road to the hospital while it was still dark out. I was too nervous to eat anything, but figured I could grab something when we were situated at the hospital. When I arrived we began setting up; thankfully aside from the registration table, nothing else needed to be done! We quickly set up and I grabbed a bite to eat to try and settle my stomach, that was still doing somersaults! Thoughts like, "why did I volunteer to present in front of all these people?" "Maybe I could leave and no one would notice!" To make matters worse, we were the last presentation of the day, so not only did we have to wait all day and sit through the other presentations, while the nerves were rising about ours, but we were presenting when everyone pretty much had enough information for the day, and they were all waiting for their cerificates to go home. 

We had a few minutes before our presentation started so I practiced breathing slowly, and controlled. I put my microphone on and felt professional. It was really happening and I wasn't going to run. My boss started with my introduction, and then I introduced her, and soon we were rolling through our presentation, and the audience was intrigued! I was still nervous, but it was over before I knew it! I could not have been more excited or proud at that moment. It was honestly an extremely important day in my life, and I'm so glad I did it!

Afterwards, myself, some coworkers, and a tone it up sister (who is an aspiring child life specialist) went and enjoyed dinner together! It was quite an early dinner considering it was only 4:30, but after my nerves ate at my stomach all day, I was glad to chow down on some chips and salsa, and the best steak quesadillas I've ever tasted! I loved being able to talk about my experience and help someone achieve their dreams! 

If I was asked to present again, I'd definitely say yes, nerves and all. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cousin Love

These days, in-person connections are lost, instead days are filled with social media, talking via text, and seeing family only at family functions. I vowed that I would not let that happen to my cousins and I. My mom and her cousins would always tell us stories about their days growing up, and they basically lived at each other's houses that's how often they saw each other. I have to admit, I was jealous.. I wanted that kind of relationship with my cousins. While I'm close with my cousins, I wasn't THAT close. 

That's when cousin dinner was born - a night we would gather together at a restaurant of our choice and talk over good food. Our family is big on food, so we did not think twice when we were deciding on where to meet up, and since none of us have our own houses yet, a restaurant seemed like the best choice. We were able to fill silences with bites of food, though there is barely any silence. 

Year after year we have added cousins to our dinner dates. As the years went by, each cousin got older, and when they reached a certain age, only then were they invited. This year, we had ALL of the cousins come together! Everyone was finally of age (even though I don't want to believe it)! We decided to meet at the diner, and it was there where we went around the table and discussed our lives, the next steps, and eventually movies and news. No topic is off the table, but we vow in the beginning of the night not to mention anything that was discussed at cousin dinner with anyone. Even though it was rainy outside, we did not tire. 

We knew the night would have to end at some point, so when we saw the tables dwindling down, we decided it was time, but not before a huge cousin dinner picture. After hunting someone down to take it, we quickly said goodbye in the rain. 

Weeks before cousin dinner, I found myself at one of their fashion shows, and weeks after cousin dinner, I sat in the school gym watching him perform in Grease. Honestly, the bond that cousins share is unlike any other, and I'm not about to let that bond break. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014


As most of you read, Sal recently graduated from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, but before her graduated he interned on the set of a small movie - The Jersey Devil ((click the link for more information)). It hasn't come out yet, but once filming finished, a party was planned to celebrate filming the final scene and getting it into editing mode. From what Sal told me, it's supposed to be a pretty funny movie, and you might even see him in one of the scenes, causing quite the laugh! But again, it's Sal so I'm always expecting him to be himself, making people laugh. Even though I may not find him funny, other people do ((I kid, I kid)).

While it probably won't be out on the big screen, you may be able to see it at smaller theaters; I will let you all know as soon as I hear! 

The wrap party took place at a club in NY, and everyone that was a part of the team working on the film or in it was invited. Sal chose me as his guest, even though I wasn't exactly thrilled to go - I don't enjoy going to parties knowing no one. However, I will say I was glad I went to support Sal and his budding career. He introduced me to everyone, and while I probably couldn't even name one person I met there, I loved how they all knew Sal and enjoyed his company. 

We enjoyed a few drinks, and headed out the door earlier than we thought we'd leave, having had enough of the 'glamorous life.' Of course, I'd go with him again to one of these events, even though I'd much rather be hiking outside or in sweats on the couch! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friends Always Come Back

Isn't it amazing how months can go by without seeing a certain person, and when you do finally see them, it's as if those months were only minutes. This happens to me often, and I never place blame, because life simply gets in the way sometimes, and that's not anyone's fault. Getting together isn't as easy as it once was... you can't just make plans at school for that night anymore. The toughest question isn't, "Mom can you bring me to the bowling alley tonight?" Instead, it's "Will I be able to sleep enough hours tonight, to be awake and alert at work tomorrow?

Sal and I have a close friend in the air force, so we don't see him often, except when he comes home, usually surprising all of us. He came home recently, and it was as if he had been here the whole time. It honestly made me wonder if he had ever really left. Of course, I knew he had been gone for months on end, but as soon as we all were together, we were back to cracking jokes with drinks in our hands.

Year after year our friend leaves and comes back, and while it doesn't get easier to say goodbye, it leaves us looking forward to the days he comes back, the days when we're all together again. And we get to take pretty awesome pictures together to look back on... 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Doin' Dishes, Wine Included

A few months back my friend, Amanda, and I had found ourselves at a ceramic painting studio on wine night. It could not have been anymore perfect, who doesn't like painting things for your home, while enjoying some gossip over wine and crackers. I don't know about you, but anything that has to do with wine, is good in my book. So we decided to go back! This time we knew what to expect so we brought our own bottle of wine, but that didn't make choosing what we were going to paint any easier. Eventually we chose, me a vase & her a summer plate.

We ate our cheese and crackers and drank a whole bottle of wine, just talking and painting. Laughing when the wine was empty, and growing hungrier by the minute. We soon cleaned up our mess, and headed to grab something to eat, because what's a date without food?!

 It is nice to do something different once in awhile though. And even if it's a pain to have to come back to pick up your painted ceramic, it gives you an excuse to see your best friend again. So when we met back up to pick up our things a few days later, we waited with excitement while they duh thorough their inventory. When we saw our creations, we couldn't help but smile! It's nice seeing something you made come to life, colors popping, letters perfectly shaped into sentences that will never fade... 

Don't just exist, live.