Dec 24, 2009

A Mailbox Full of Christmas and Holiday Cards

Ohhhhhh…I love getting Christmas and Holiday cards. I’m like a little kid! I love the anticipation. Love opening the mailbox to see what the postman has delivered. It is so much fun to hear from friends and family…see new photos…get the latest updates. Laugh. Smile. Giggle. And sometimes even cry.

It always seems like the year has gone by way too fast…and then I see the photos and WOW have all the kids grown!! Just babies last year…now toddling around. Just young kids…now fresh into the teen years. Out of high school…on to college. More hair (less hair!), new braces, new glasses, no more glasses, reading glasses (oh no!), new fashions, new styles, new places, new adventures…LOVE IT! It is just wonderful to find out what folks have been up to. And the creative, fun, funny, adorable, cute, and beautiful photos/cards give a glimpse into your lives! Love to see the style, colors, words and photos chosen and adventures shared.

And then there are the storytellers! Love the Christmas/Holiday letters! I’m always so impressed at anyone who can summarize their year in one page! And, I have my absolute favorite writers (Luigi…Katie…I’m waiting for this year’s letters!! Hurry up! I need a dose of your holiday humor!)

Of course, I’m always a little melancholy when I get these great cards/photos/letters too! Why? Well, I think…”Can it really have been a year already?” or “Wow…I wish we had connected more this year.” or “Oh my gosh. Where did the time go?” It makes me reflect on the past year…remember the precious moments…and reminds me to savor each day.

Now, I must admit to you that I save (and I mean SAVE) all of my holiday cards. Every year. I have a box from every year. I just can’t throw them away. One year I even made a “holiday card scrapbook”! (I meant to do that every year….but you know how that goes!) I can’t help myself (it’s the packrat in me)…it just doesn’t seem OK to throw away (or even recycle!) these memories.

Now tied with loving to get Christmas and Holiday cards is making Christmas/Holiday cards! LOVE IT! It’s fun to find great photos from the year…or take a new photo. Fun to see if I can get a little boy and a little dog captured in a great photographic moment! And “pre-Ethan” I even liked to seal my cards with wax stamps and handwrite addresses in interesting script with cool gold or silver ink! Yes…really!

So here is the chronology of our Christmas photos/cards since Ethan was born (can’t seem to find the boxes from early years but I know I have them somewhere!)

2009 –Cool Little Dude! (You are growing up way too fast!)

2008 – Rockin’ Around in Vermont

2007 – My Little Golfer (yes, Ethan really golfs and loves it!)

Stay tuned...working on a set of wooden golf clubs to offer on!

2006 – Oh Dear, Mommy Fell for the Happy Feet Display at the Mall!

2005 – A Little Boy and His Best Friend

Wishing you and your families many precious moments and much happiness this holiday season!

Peace, Love, and Rock & Roll!!


Dec 14, 2009

Holiday Lights in NYC

Crisp, cold winter air…bright city lights…festive holiday decorations…taxis honking… there is nothing like New York City during the holiday season! And what a wonderful night Ethan and I had in the Big Apple with Aunt Jen (my brother Buddy’s wife who was visiting from San Francisco). Ethan adores Aunt Jen! And how wonderful for Ethan to have such a loving, doting, cooler than cool “Auntie”!

Disclaimer for this entire blog....apologies...all of my photos are slightly askew...too funny!

So what was the big night? The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center!!! Worried about “gridlock alert” we headed into the city early…expecting to be on time…and we were EARLY! Really? Yup! (Aunt Jen is a goooood influence!)

Had to snap this shot of Aunt Jen and Ethan waiting for me while I parked the car:

Who is that cool little boy? (We think he was imitating Uncle Buddy!) Aunt Jen was holding back the giggles as she asked Ethan “What are you doing there? How do I stand like that?” And I can’t stop chuckling about this photo! “Hey, Ethan…you’re only 4 years old…you’re looking like a teenager already!”

We had dinner at a great Mexican Restaurant just across the street from Lincoln Center, Rosa Mexicana. Ethan loved the guacamole made tableside. And he especially enjoyed doling out the guacamole to Mommy and Aunt Jen from the molcajete lava stone bowl. Rosa Mexicana has a really cool wall of water with lots of little divers (it looks like a work of art) which Ethan loved!!

Ethan in front of the wall of water:

Before heading to Lincoln Center, we walked around a bit admiring the beautiful lights.

Gorgeous Christmas Tree decorated with Plates (yes, dinner plates):

Aunt Jen and Ethan admiring the tree and the brightly lit Gingerbread Man:

Another beautifully lit tree:

We started talking to a woman who had the cutest little dog. And I mean LITTLE dog. No more than 10” long and 3 pounds!

Check out the size comparison to Ethan’s sneaker!

I should mention that this little doggie’s name was Twitter! YES, TWITTER!!! Too funny. Twitter was in twaining, I mean training to be a therapy dog like his older brother, Blackberry. YES, BLACKBERRY!!! Only in New York!! Love it!

Check out Blackberry’s calling card!

A Twitterer-to-be with a little Twitter:

Time went by quickly and we headed to Lincoln Center.

Great architecture from the 1960’s:

Ethan loved the fountain:

And although I can’t show you any photos “(turn off your cell phones and no photography please”), Ethan loved the Nutcracker! Biggest hits:

-the giant Christmas tree
-the Rats (they are really mice, but once I called them rats there was no turning back)
-the Dancing Candy Canes
-the Sugarplum Fairies
-the sleigh that flies into the air at the end

The colorful costumes and sets were gorgeous! The dancing was wonderful and the music was beautiful too! When we had to duck out of the hall to head to the bathroom, Ethan said “I like this Mommy. How about we come here again next year but next time we don’t miss anything to go to the bathroom?” Love the advance planning!

Our excursion ended all too soon. And although it was a long day, Ethan loved the New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker and didn’t want to leave! Once we were back in the car and headed back out to New Jersey, it didn’t take more than a few minutes for Ethan to fall asleep…with that adorable innocent face…. Thanks Aunt Jen for a memorable evening!

Crisp, cold winter air…bright city lights…festive holiday decorations…taxis honking… There is nothing like New York City during the holiday season!!

Dec 5, 2009

The Happiest Mom in the World

Ethan just 2 days old!

I am a happy Mom. A really happy Mom. I think I may be the happiest Mom in the world. And I’ll tell you why…

I was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago. My world came to a stop. I was shocked and devastated. My life was great ---- wonderful husband, great career, very dear friends, and caring family. I was active, fit, and enjoying life. I was only in my 30s. My husband and I were hoping to have a family and were undergoing infertility treatment. After our first IVF cycle, we had gotten pregnant but the pregnancy didn’t hold. We were optimistic that we would be parents sometime soon. It was supposed to be a “routine biopsy”. I can still hear my surgeon telling me the news. My first thought was “will I live?” and then “will I ever have a baby?”

From that day on, I learned to live for each day. I reached out to friends and family to put me in contact with anyone who could help me find the best treatment, understand the disease, and deal with all the emotions --- anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, depression. I was lucky that although the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, it had not spread to other areas of my body. I chose the most aggressive treatment possible and tried to move on with my life. I learned about some great organizations dedicated to helping women deal with breast cancer and fighting for advancements in treatment. I met so many wonderful, dynamic, strong women survivors who helped me through every stage of dealing with my diagnosis ---- choosing physicians, going through surgery/chemotherapy/ radiation, and learning to live my life again. Women who laughed and cried with me, offered me advice and talked to me for hours. The tremendous love and support from these women and my family and friends was incredible. Words cannot express my love and gratitude to all of these special people in my life.

After my diagnosis, in many ways the world became more vivid to me. I noticed more things and took more time to listen, look, and explore. Every moment became precious. I left behind the quest for a high-powered corporate career to focus on having a family, quality of life, and giving back. Every week throughout my treatment and beyond, I bought one children’s book and put it on a shelf to save for my “baby-to-be”. That focus on the future…on having a child someday, helped me through the toughest days of treatment.

After my treatment was completed, my oncologist recommended against trying to become pregnant as my tumor had been estrogen receptor positive (and during pregnancy estrogen levels increase significantly). Our precious embryo was carried to term by an amazing woman (a gestational surrogate). Ethan was born in September of 2005. I became a Mom. I am so grateful to this amazing woman who has become a dear friend, part of our family, an “Auntie” to Ethan. To this day, when I hold Ethan in my arms, it brings tears to my eyes since I never thought I would be a Mom. And my little boy is the absolute joy of my life.

When Ethan was born, I think I was the only new Mom on the planet who was not just happy…but thrilled to wake up during the night for feedings…fine with sleepless nights…happy to deal with anything! The happiest Mom in the world! If I’m ever telling you a story about Ethan and something he’s said or something we’ve done together…don’t be surprised to see tears in my eyes. In fact, I can get very weepy when I talk about him! I love to see him explore the world and learn new things…love to hear his little voice tell a story or break out into song…love the “why?” “why?” “why” questions…and love his every developing sense of humor (right now he thinks the funniest thing is to say “Mommy?” I answer “Yes, Ethan?” He says “Nothing!” And breaks into giggles. Ahhhh, the simple pleasures in life.

I am truly grateful for every precious moment in this world. For many reasons, I’m driven to try to make some small difference in this world. I was happy (and lucky) to stay at home full-time with Ethan for his first 2.5 years. It was a wonderful time. Since he was born, I have spent lots of time showing him the outdoors, introducing him to art and music, reading books and have seen how exposing a child to nature/art/music at a young age can inspire such a curiosity about and an awareness of the world. I began playing music for Ethan when he was just a few hours old...started reading books to him when he was just a few days old…and took him outside to feel the rain when he was just a week old. I love every minute of time that I spend with Ethan…love watching him grow and learn…love his curiosity and interest in the world.

When I thought about working again, I had no interest in the corporate world. So, Rosie Hippo was perfect –a combination of my love for children, my interest in child development, my creative side, and my marketing/business background. And I love what I do! I love bringing toys and books and music to children that will help inspire them, teach them about the world --- issues like diversity, giving, greening -- and help instill good values and a foundation from which to grow. And I’m dedicated to trying to give back…to trying to make some small difference in the world. I want Rosie Hippo to be a toy company with a what we stand for, in what we sell, and in what we support. I’ve sought opportunities to partner with like-minded organizations dedicated to trying to make a difference...for children...for parents...and for our planet.

Every time that I hug my little boy, snuggle with him and read a book, hear him say “Mommy I love you” and experience so many other beautiful moments reminds me of how precious life is…how precious children are…and I am truly grateful. I am indeed the “happiest Mom in the world”!