Memories Captured: Valentine’s Day

We had big plans for Valentine’s Day. We dressed up in our best Valentine’s gear:



We decorated cookies with one of our cousins and best buds, Vinnie:



And then stayed home while Mom and Dad went out for sushi:


And to top it off, all the complaining in the earlier post must have helped because I lost 4lbs.  I’ll shut up about it now. :)

The other three enjoyed a few new books and they each got an iTunes card. I would have included pictures but couldn’t pin any of them down. Nico and Tommy both had practice and Belle had dance. Hats off to Chrissy for making Valentine’s Day special for Gia. All I had planned was a day in our pajamas eating sweets. :)



Linking up with Galit at These Little Waves and Alison at Writing, Wishing:

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Part 2: Exploring New York

This week’s writing prompt from Mama’s Losin’ It is to pick a word that someone else used for their New Year word and let it inspire you. It couldn’t be more perfect for this second part of my trip. I chose Explore from Farewell Stranger.


I am not a city girl. I watch shows like Sex and the City and Friends and not even a small part of me wants to live in the city. I spend every New Year’s at my sister and brother-in-law’s condo in downtown Chicago and still, there is no desire to walk around and explore the city. When I am there, I feel like a bumbling idiot that is one wrong turn away from ending up in a rough neighborhood. Maybe it is that I have lived here my whole life so it doesn’t have the same exciting feel to it. I think it has something to do with finding out that Nico had CF while we were down there. It’s forever tainted in my mind. I went to Texas a few times and if money were no object and I could take my friends and family with me, my dream would be to live in a big house with acres and acres of sprawling land (and afford someone to take care of it since we can’t even seem to get a patio built-in our dinky yard). I fell in love with Texas many, many years ago over the course of a few trips. I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love in just two days but I am completely in love with New York City!

We landed in New York with the weather at a wonderful 57 degrees. Not a windy, blustery 57. Just 57…which honestly felt like 70 here. We checked in at our hotel, The Omni Berkshire and the first thing I noticed was across the street, there were a few office buildings that looked like fashion design studios (me being the Project Runway fan that I am was instantly giddy to see some in real life). We didn’t want to waste one minute of exploring so we headed out to Central Park.

Taking pictures like this makes me realize how small I am.


I just know this was the site of one of the Law & Order SVU scenes. I just know it because I have seen all 200 episodes.










I was just in awe of how cool it would be to live near Central Park. On a warm day, I could sit on a bench or on top of a hill and write or read all day. It was inspiring all sorts of scenes for books that are swirling around in my head. We walked around until we came to the ice rink. It made me think of the movie Serendipity and we were this close to ice skating ourselves but I didn’t want to explore the ER in New York so we passed.

Central Park was the first thing I wanted to do. Going to FAO Schwartz was the second. When I was little, since my birthday was in June, my family would go to Kiddie Kingdom. The best part was that there was a castle that was a toy store and my parents would let me pick out my birthday present. I am a lover of toy stores. Let’s face it, I am a lover of most stores but book and toy are my favorites. I wanted to be able to say, I was where they filmed Big. It was hard but I walked out of there feeling satisfied that I had seen it and without spending one dime. That even impressed me.

Then next thing I really wanted to do was have a slice of New York style pizza. It had been a while since we had eaten and without the kids, we were planning on having a late dinner so with Leo’s trusty GPS, we headed to Ray’s Pizza. Now, pizza is my favorite meal. I could eat it all day everyday so I was really skeptical since Lou Malnati’s is my favorite here. I was expecting it to be different and it was and it was amazing! I think I loved it so much because it wasn’t my dinner. It was the perfect thing to eat at that time. It was sooo good.

After that, we headed over to Magnolia’s Bakery. It was the bakery featured in one of the Sex and the City episodes and has been in a few movies as well. Leo is not a sweet-eater (yeah, I don’t get that either) but was such a good sport to humor me while I ordered flourless chocolate cake (would have been sooo good if I had been able to heat it), a lemon bar (I am still dreaming of it right now it was that good) and a s’mores cupcake that was worth every bit of the walk to get there. I swear it tasted like a real s’more.

Total deliciousness!












After that, we headed back to the hotel. Leo had to do something for work and I wanted to change before heading back out for dinner. To be honest, I needed a break from eating. I said I was going to eat my way through New York and that was pretty much what I was doing. I took a very small nap and then we headed out again. We had several suggestions from friends, Ashley from The Dose of Reality and Kimberly from Reflections of Now as well as from our friend Jerry. We planned on hitting them all and then deciding but when we stepped outside, it was raining. I was bummed that there was not a drugstore anywhere on the way to Times Square from our hotel? I felt like that Seinfeld episode where Jerry tried to buy and umbrella from someone on the street.

I should interject here that we had to do some business with the FedEx/Kinkos across the street before we could go to dinner. Kimberly from above sent me a design for business cards (on a side note, if you have any design needs, click on that link, she is awesome!) but with all the craziness leading up to leaving, I didn’t get them done nor did I think I’d need them. Leo thought differently so we had a wonderful guy there help us and I left with 20. It’s just the best feeling to have someone believe in you.

After the business cards were picked up, we started walking. Now, I will tell you, I wanted very much to be a “wind in my hair” kind of woman. I wanted to say, “Screw it! I don’t care if my hair gets wet. Let’s be that romantic couple that runs through New York City in the rain laughing and giggling the whole time.” I  wanted to but you see, I only had my flat-iron with me. Straightening my hair would have eaten up a lot of time in NY so I opted to wash it that morning and only bring my flat-iron to fix it before the luncheon the next day. Getting caught in the rain would not make for a good look for me the next day. However, I was a good sport until Leo wanted to get a picture of us in Times Square and there was a huge crowd waiting and doing it so he took one of me freezing. It came out dark and it’s on his phone so that is why it isn’t here. Me looking like a drowned rat has nothing to do with it.

We went to one restaurant, Joe Allen and we were warned and sure enough, we needed a reservation. We were heading to Carmine’s when it started raining really hard. There was an Italian restaurant called Sofia’s and that is where we ended up eating. Again, we were not disappointed. I think Leo licked his bowl clean.

Just give me shrimp and artichokes and I am happy!

Did I explore New York? Absolutely. Was it mostly the food? Why, yes, yes it was. Was it also the surroundings of where we were? Definitely! I fell completely in love with the city. It might have been where we were (Midtown Manhattan where Carrie Bradshaw did all of her shopping), why I was there (someone read my blog, liked it and invited me there…that is a high in and of itself) or who I was with (a husband that went above and beyond humoring me making sure I loved every minute of our exploring the city).

This is me being excited at being in New York.

It doesn’t matter. I can’t wait to go back! Hopefully next time, it will be to meet with a literary agent! A girl can dream…

What about you? What is your favorite city?

Linking up with Mama Kat:


Mama’s Losin’ It
And with Alison from Writing Wishing and Galit from These Little Waves:

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Memories Captured: So Close to Perfection

Yesterday was one of those rare days. Just so perfect. I wanted to go to church but for some reason, my family is just awful about getting up and getting moving. I thought that would be the only bad feeling of the day. We met my sister and her family at Target to do our Operation Christmas Child service project. Thanks so much Ashley and Lisa at The Dose of Reality for giving us the idea. Apparently I have been living under a rock because that was the first I heard of it. To read more about it or get involved, click here.

Before building the boxes.


So happy that the husbands got in on the fun.

Filled boxes!

With hearts filled, we headed to Portillo’s for lunch. I love that Sundays are for family and I love that doing something for someone else resulted in a memory that we’ll never forget. I love that Nico in all of his “teen behavior” could have complained and made it all about what he would rather have been doing but instead, he really got into it painstakingly picking out what he thought the other person would want. I love that it was his idea to go to my mom and dad’s. It’s been a long time but I remembered this weekend how much I really love his company. I love seeing my husband’s generous heart. And I love that we did it all with my sister’s family. I hope we make it a tradition and as my other sisters’ kids get bigger that they join us.

After we left Portillo’s, the plan was to go home and put Gia down for a nap. The kids begged to go to my mom’s for the day instead of 5:00 so since it was the first time in a long time that none of the kids had anything (well, Belle had to cheer at 5:30, which meant I was going to do a lot of driving back and forth) so off we went.

God love my parents for NEVER caring about us dropping in and eating (I did bring left over tacos). Their house is always open to us and it truly feels like home when we are there.


It was just the best day. Almost perfect. The reason it was “almost” and not completely perfect? Tommy ended up in the ER with severe stomach pain. It came on quickly and he was doubled over in pain. I got scared because he said the pains were sharp on his right side. So I left my mom’s, dropped off Nico and Gia at home and went to CDH. Very long story short: too early to tell if it is appendicitis so a diagnosis of abdominal pain and constipation. If he starts running a fever or the pain gets worse, he has to go back. Hoping the Miralax works and the pain goes away.

We were so close and instead of dwelling on how it ended, I am going to choose to dwell on the rest of the day which was just perfect.

When was your last perfect day?


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Memories Captured: Someone is Getting Big

Gia adores Isabella. Just adores her. Everything Belle does, Gia wants to do. She really believed in her head that she was a cheerleader, too and kept saying, “I gotta go cheer.”


Photo by Julie Poulos

Gia started “Mom’s Day Out.” It is from 9-1:30 and I worried that she was going to have trouble with that amount of time and eating lunch there but she did great. She went right in and started coloring and ran up to me when I picked her up. I love that I have that now. The feeling that I was missed and that I missed her. They told me not to be surprised if she started to ask to use the potty because they work on that there (How awesome is that?) and sure enough, I won’t gross you out with the details but yep…they were right. She’s getting so big. Where has time gone? What will I do with that much time to myself?

Update: Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts. Follow-up appointment went well! Love being on this side of medical tests. :)

Linking up with Galit at These Little Waves and Alison at Writing, Wishing for Memories Captured:





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Memories Captured: A Perfect Day

You already know how important Sunday dinners are to my family. I have mentioned it a few times. Yesterday we celebrated my parents’ 43rd wedding anniversary. We had dinner at our house and I wanted to do it here for a few reasons. One, my mom does so much every Sunday that I wanted her to not have to do anything. Two, I wanted to prove to myself that I could cook for our whole family. Normally, when I have anything at my house, I order pizza because it is the easiest way to feed so many people. I like to cook. I don’t get a chance to with our schedule but I do enjoy making a meal that my family enjoys. The fact that we had very little leftovers tells me that it was a success. I can honestly say that I had the perfect day. The only negative part of the day was that my sister, Gina and nieces, Natalie and Caroline weren’t here. The girls had a play. They were missed greatly. Other than that, it was absolutely perfect.

Belle helped me cook the Hot Dog Casserole


Nico helped me make the Pepper Steak










EVERYONE pitched in which was so nice.


A trip to Target, a hot chocolate, kids that are all helping and dinner on the stove and in the oven. I am a happy camper!

Tommy took Gia outside so we could cook and clean inside.


Playing Nico’s favorite game: Left, Right, Center.



Favorite picture capturing Nico’s excitement at winning the game.











When was your last perfect day? What made it perfect?

Linking up with Alison at Writing, Wishing and Galit at These Little Waves:



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Memories Captured: The End of an Era

Nico was 4 when he started playing baseball. He rounded the bases, got to second base and yelled, “I’m hot, sweaty and tired! I want to go home!” It was a proud “mommy moment” for me. Little did I know what I was in for when a ball first hit his bat. Ten years of baseball. Ten years of sweaty summers spent sitting on bleachers or in a fold up chair. Ten years of triumphs and tears. Ten years of camps and hitting lessons and pitching lessons. Ten years or bonding with teammates and growing up not just as players but now as teens. High School. The uncertainty of whether he wants to go out for it. Two other sports hold his heart and three sports is tough to do. Did I really just watch his last baseball game ever? I won’t lie. There is relief in that (I feel like I’ve watched a lifetime of baseball) but also sadness. The end of an era.


Linking up with Galit at These Little Waves and Alison at Mama Wants This:



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