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I feel like today was the first day of school, except for the first time in forever, I didn’t have to schlep off on the bus.  It was a wonderful feeling to listen to the buses putter past our window, and not have that constant feeling that I was going to miss the next one.

I have to admit, I’m having a slow start this morning.  Hold on…Jack’s eating electrical cords.

Ok, I started this post at 10:30 a.m.  If it’s any indication of my first day into this whole work at home/freelance realm, um, yeah, I’m finishing this post 12 hours after the fact.

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So, let me backtrack a bit.  Wednesday, Oct. 15 was my very last day at my former company.  (It feels good to actually type that!)  Most of my colleagues were out of the office, only the underlings were around.  I spent the day cleaning up my computer, filling 3 large boxes of papers, notes and mementos of stories and trips I’ve covered over the past 7.5 years and of course, saying my farewells.  I only got teary once, which is good for me.  And quite honestly, those were tears of relief.

The few coworkers that were around that day were so sweet.  Knowing I love cupcakes and vodka, they gifted me with both.  Nice.  So, yes, I had a Seabreeze and a cupcake to bid adieu to my very first job out of college and the first “real” job in NYC.  No more free work cruises, no more wining and dining by various companies, no more events where I’d run into Rudy from Survivor (haha!)  No more unnecessary drama.  No more.

There’s nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake. (Well, besides a celebratory mango margarita!)
There's nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake

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So now, it’s time to put the plan(s) in motion.  Per usual, I have more ideas than I know what to do with;  aren’t all creative types the same?  I told Jeff that I would give myself a day or so to acclimate myself with this new juggling act.  Jack, apparently, did not get that memo.

To spice things up, my adorable son decided to go on strike today.  What kind?  All kinds, actually.  He’s not eating like a voracious animal like he normally does.  Instead, he dutifully plucks and smooshes everything into his hair.  Considering he came home with sticky, spiky hair almost every afternoon, I imagine this is what he did at daycare, too.  As for naptime when mommy aimed to get in quality Facebook writing time, um yeah—that never happened.  So not only did he not eat anything of substance, he did not sleep at all.  He looked a lot like me by dinner time with the bags under his eyes and total incoherence.  I’m chalking the out of whack behavioral deals to him being sick ONCE AGAIN and the excitement of us being home together.

So, yeah, day one, just like everything else, didn’t happen as smoothly as I envisioned.  I, never for a single moment, thought this would be easy.  oh no.

I’m desperately crossing my fingers that Jack feels better, to have less banana’ed hair and more naps all around tomorrow.

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Over the weekend, we went (extreme) apple picking and had a chance to enjoy the fall foliage and hang out with a bunch of friends. Because everyone in Northern NJ and Manhattan had the same idea, we sat in Country Critters!grueling traffic all afternoon on our way to the orchard. Masker Orchards, tucked away in the Hudson Valley in Warwick, NY is our “usual spot.” As the crowd has grown, so has the penchant for all things extreme.
Because, you know, it’s not enough to just drive up to a serene apple orchard and pick quietly. To fully grasp the whole experience, one should offroad in the orchard, sometimes picking apples through the sunroof. This is one of the 5 times a year that we actually get use out of our 4wd—-money well spent. Apple picking is always a good time, and I’m so glad we were able to go.

Jack had a playmate, which was so awesome. Jack loved Tommy, our good friends’ 2 year old nephew. The two kids didn’t do as much apple picking, but had fun turning baby apples into makeshift balls. Jack felt the need to slobber and bite every single apple that was within reach, leaving his little baby bite marks on one too many apples!
Tommy and JackTommy and Jack

extremeapplepicking 049Surrounded by so many buildings and not enough trees, I always forget what the landscape outside of the city environment looks like. Despite the headache-inducing traffic, it was well worth the drive to take in the fall festivities and spend time with good friends.

Now, it’s time to bake with all those apples with bite marks!

So sorry for being so MIA.  Like Jack, I really haven’t been myself lately—more on that next week.  My last day of work is next Wednesday.  It’s bittersweet.  Onward and upward.  Speaking of which, have you met my 1 year old?

My sweet, sweet little boy.  How did you get so big so damn fast?

These days, I’m completely exhausted.  I’m tired from wiping snot, exhausted from chasing this boy, doing dishes by hand, picking up wooden blocks, chasing this boy and fishing random objects out of his mouth.  I’m sure there’s more, but I’m too tired to think.

Oh dear God.  This child is into everything.  Anything that was of importance, uh, is no longer important.  He continues to destroy everything.  This weekend, we discovered that our DVD player is no longer working, and it has our WI trip slideshow in it!  Yeah.  Guess whose little fingers like to poke at the DVD player? uh huh.

When he’s not breaking electronic equipment, Jack can be found climbing furniture and TOYS.  Note to self:  leave all plastic toys that double as ladders at mom’s house in VIRGINIA.  Together with the climbing, he is walking– yay!  As of early last week, Jack’s been walking about 85-90% of the time.  He showed off a few of his skills for family and friends when we were back home, but now he’s really on the go.  He gets a big kick out of it when we cheer and clap once he’s made his destination.  He totally “gets” the whole walking thing!

Now that Jack is officially everywhere, he’s also become extremely conversational and sociable as well. No real words, just made up ones.   When I call for him, he’ll try to say his name (DDDDaaat!) or just lots of mamamamama right back at me.  When we read, his “words” are much MUCH louder than mine nowadays.  His signing has really flourished.  More, eat, drink, book, dog, hot, sleep and thank you are the main signs that we use for now.  It was so cool when he finally grasped the signing and would tell us what he needed without us even initiating.  Jeff said, the other day while I was out shopping, Jack was in mid-play then crawled over to him, signed sleepy and curled up on his daddy’s shoulder.  Too cute.
12 Months
Jack’s social skills are flourishing so much more now, too.  He flirts and tries to befriend kids of all ages every chance he gets.  Last Sunday, he freaked out the poor little girl behind us because he was trying to touch her hand to make nice. haha.  I definitely attribute his friendliness and outgoing nature, not only to family, but to the great teachers at his daycare.  He loves the other kids and teachers, it’ll be sad to say goodbye for now.

Jack’s size has pretty much stayed the same from last month.  He’s mainly in 24m, but still wears some 18m clothes.   The belly never seems to fit–poor guy.  He’s still in size 4 diapers, and I assume he’ll stay in that size for a few more months.  He’s still heavy, teetering in the high 20s.  We missed his 12m appointment, so we’ll have to update those stats.

The boy likes to eat, but it has to be timely.  If we get home too late from daycare, he pitches a fit and goes on strike.  He eats any and everything, with pizza, pasta, chicken, mango, bananas and peas as his faves.  We just started giving him juice a few weeks ago, but milk and water are still #1.  We have yet to switch over to cow’s milk at our dr’s suggestion.  Jack’s still trying to fight off that upper respiratory infection, so until he does, we were told not to change his diet too drastically.

Separation anxiety is big right now: he’s still a mama’s boy and loses his mind when I leave the room. He started with the toddler tantrums a few weeks ago. It’s so hard and frustrating, but signing has really helped us out. I heart baby signing.

In spite of the meltdowns (from both him and me)  Jack is such a handsome, active, lovey and bubbly little dude.  Those little boy hugs remind me how much I LOVE love LOVE being a mom.  Now that I’m closing one chapter and Jeff and I are both embarking on our own separate and new(ish) professional journeys (new responsibilities for him and freelance for me), it’s only fitting that it coincides with another year of Jack’s growth.

Jack’s slowly but surely shaking this URI, though still hacking and sneezing more often than not. He lost a few pounds, but is definitely working back to that hearty appetite of his.

I finally got around to organizing my photos and thoughts about Jack’s first birthday, so I thought I’d share.

Jack's 1st Birthday Party

The boy’s birthday itself was definitely a momentous occasion for our little family. It not only marked a year into this funny adventure called parenthood, but it was a time to reflect on Jack’s colorful first year.

As we do for big holidays and occasions, we did the 350 mile trek down to VA to celebrate with family and friends. Because our life here in NJ has been so hectic with work and the pending transition, I quite honestly didn’t do too much to prepare for this shindig. While I love entertaining and partying in general, Jeff and I agreed that we are in that school of thought where over-the-top orchestrated parties should be reserved for bigger kids aka the non-shoe-eating crowd. To each his own, but for us, the drive down, alone, was a financial and time investment, not to mention a physical and mental sacrifice for the three of us.

The party was much like family parties that we’ve had in the past, except this one was all about our boy! There wasn’t really a theme per se—well unless you count exuberant chaos as a theme. I invited family members from both sides and a handful of friends in the area. Overall, it was an overwhelming turnout. From high school buddies and their kids to various giggling aunts, so many people came out to celebrate. The food, like most of our family parties, was abundant. We all ate, drank, watched Jack play with cake and cheered for cool little boy toys.

The birthday boy, much like his mom, was not the greatest at being the center of attention. Ok, so he hated all the attention. He whined and cried more times than I care to admit, but he absolutely adored being around all those kids. I know it’s so cliche to say, but Jack really wasn’t himself on his birthday. As I tried to grasp his crankiness, I told friends that he “realized” how much he missed my mom, which could’ve been the reason he lost his mind every time she left the room. Or, it could’ve been the big crowd or it could’ve been he was exhausted from the drive down. Who knows? There were times when I couldn’t even console him! He didn’t cry the whole day, he was just obviously having an “off” day.

Cranky pants aside, it was a fun day, thanks to our many friends and family. (Thanks again to all of you that came out! As I’ve learned over this past year: always expect the unexpected, even if it includes a sometimes uncooperative birthday boy. I’ll say it again, but I definitely look forward to celebrating holidays and birthdays in the state that we reside—wherever we end up! Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?

A year ago today, I started out the day looking a LOT like this and ended looking more like that.  Despite my obtuse exterior, I truly had no idea how much my heart–OUR hearts–would grow that very next day.

As summer fades to fall and we start putting away the shorts and pulling out the long sleeves, our family is inevitably going through a transition of our own.   As much as I possibly can, I’m savoring the last few days as the baby phase officially winds down.

But alas, with a kid whose nose is like a running faucet and the overwhelming temperament to match, the past few days have been hard to enjoy.  Like most families with kids in daycare/childcare outside the home know, if your kid appears contagious, he or she is banned!  Since Jeff’s been working crazy hours and I’m faced with monthly deadlines (my last for this publication!) the daycare logistics have been less than desirable.  Jack has been with me at work 1.5 days this week, home with me another and home with Jeff for half a day.    In those movies where they glamorize magazine editors, they don’t show the part where their baby completely MELTS DOWN on Park Avenue during lunch hour for every Suit on the east side to see.  To get even more graphic, since I wear black almost every day, I’ve started to look like a walking chalkboard– you know, with the runny nosed, clingy kid and all.

And to think, I once considered black a forgiving color!

But, it is what it is, right?

In a few hours, we’ll be on our way to Va. to celebrate Jack’s first birthday with family!  Yippeee and ughhhh!  And quite honestly, it’ll be, what we hope, the last major celebratory event outside of the state in which we live—aside from major holidays, of course.  Interpret it how you will, but times are a changin’.

We’re throwing a smallish family party on Saturday at Lola and Lolo’s house.  And from the looks of it, we may have the tailend of a storm for even more excitement!  Cross your fingers that it won’t rain!  Of all the things that haven’t been working out in my favor, I hope my kid’s party will be spared!  We are not driving 700 miles just to have waterlogged Lumpia and soggy cake!!

Either way, it’ll be a happy day!!  I can’t believe our boy is going to be 1!


Baby Frankenstein

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

Wheee! It’s Friday! Even though I’m working from home and pretty delirious from taking care of a stuffy baby all morning while trying to work, I am excited about this week (finally) being over. After all the emotions from the beginning of the week, I can finally focus on Jack’s first birthday next week! We’re all excited to go home for the weekend. I can’t even remember the last time we were there? July?

Better late than never, but I’m definitely in party planning mode. While my other friends started planning their kids’ parties before they were even born, I’ve surprisingly been pretty slack with this. Normally, I’m all about DIY party events. I guess with oh, quitting my job, I’ve been way too distracted to focus on what sort of icing Jack should devour.

Anyway, more about the party stuff later. Even bigger news: Jack has a new trick! It’s the baby Frankenstein kind of trick! He still doesn’t want to be bothered with walking, but he’s trying. I tried to catch him in motion the other night, so please excuse the mess and dark video. Oh, and the ball? Yeah. The baseball is a permanent fixture for him right now. We’re hoping this foreshadows a future hall of famer and retirement plan.

I haven’t done Wordless Wednesday in awhile, so I thought this week would be a great opportunity to share an image that my friend passed along to me.

on track

on track

Read the rest of this entry »

As I shove a handful of Golden Oreos into my mouth for dessert, it’s so fitting that I stumbled across this insightful article from the yesterday’s Times: 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make.

The Times highlights the mistakes as:

  1. Sending children out of the kitchen
  2. Pressuring them to take a bite
  3. Keeping ‘good stuff’ out of reach
  4. Dieting in front of your children
  5. Serving boring vegetables
  6. Giving up too soon

As I quietly tell myself, stay away from the cookies, for all moms and dads of good and picky eaters alike, I highly recommend reading the article in its entirety.

It’s so coincidental that this article should come out just days after a recent discussion with girlfriends about kids and picky eaters.
Spaghetti face
Is my kid picky? Not sure yet–too early to tell. What I do know is, not too long ago, I read that I was already feeding Jack one of the “kid foods to avoid.” Despite the due diligence in trying to feed healthy alternatives and steer clear from over-processed crap, it feels like my learning curve is waning a bit. What else am I doing ‘wrong?’ Sheesh.

On a regular basis, Jack’s diet consists of waffles or oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, steamed peas, spinach, brocolli or carrots and a protein for lunch; grapes, bananas or melon for snacks; and whatever we’re having for dinner, which ranges from pasta to chicken breast to stir fry.

Lately, when I try to introduce something new, the guy has this new thing. If he’s unsure about the new food he’s eating, particularly if it has a new texture, he’ll give a blank look, open his mouth and simultaneously reject the food with a very discriminatory “Eeehhhhhhhhhh.” In slow mo: feed boy, open mouth, looks at mom and releases.

It takes some convincing—often at the his dad’s taste buds expense—to assure him the new food is just as delicious as the peas or pasta.
For the most part however, he’s generally a good eater–sometimes too good. When I take him out of his high chair, before I can grab those pieces of dinner he’s purposefully thrown on the floor…he’ll vacuum them up with his own fingers.

Like Jack, I’m still learning here. I’m so sure I’m not the only one still trying to figure it all out. There are many mistakes to be made, in terms of fostering healthy eating habits. Along with my older brother (who I like to compare to Drew Barrymore’s brother from 50 First Dates minus the lisp and steroids) as someone who habitually hid boxes of Twix in my mom’s grocery cart when she wasn’t looking, um, I’m aiming to fine tune my eating AND feeding habits, in hopes that my kid’s trapdoor release reverses itself or stays shut when the good stuff goes in!


Jack loves to read

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

Speaking of sharing, I thought this was too cute not to share. Jack adores books and reading. And like the bibliophile I am, I love watching him “read” so intently.

I heart that he hearts books 🙂

Many apologies on the lack of posts lately.  Things have been crazy.

Actually, crazy is an understatement.

With things being rattled at work for my beloved–in a good way–Jeff’s on a rocket ship, as my friend describes, which means I’m a single working mom during the week.   So, besides taking the bus to another town to pick up my sometimes uncooperative boy who can only nap once at daycare and waiting for a cab to get us home before bedtime, while simultaneously calling Jeff and whining that “this waiting for cabs and buses is BS,” I’ve had my plate full.

But such is the beauty of life, right?

I’ve been busy lately…busy thinking, busy plotting, busy reading, busy cuddling, busy coping
Basically, all kinds of busy.  Well, besides busy blogging or busy party planning that first birthday extravaganza that everyone else thinks is necessary (for our kid.)

(Have I mentioned that my kid eats shoes?  Obviously, he doesn’t know any better which is why in my book, my shoe-eater doesn’t “need” a party with coordinating centerpieces.  Free flowing parties with family and a few friends?  Now that’s my idea of fun.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess)

But I digress…

It’s been awhile since I’ve stepped outside of my own glass-accented corridor to see what’s going on around in the blogosphere, nevermind my IRL friends and family.  (like I’ve told a few friends why I’ve been MIA–my head’s so far up my ass, I have no idea which way is up anymore.)  Throngs of men, women, from moms to dads to students, in a spectrum of occupations and interests are now blogging.  I recently wrote an article on how blogs, or rather, web 2.0 technology has changed the informational landscape.  And, it truly has:  everyone is sharing.

When people ask why I “put things out there,”  I kind of shrug my shoulders in that “Why not?” kind of way.  Jeff and I have discussed how in the past, generations before us kept everything private and disclosed.  While yes, privacy is certainly important for everyone, don’t we learn early on in life that everyone gets something out of sharing?

I started blogging for a million reasons, pretty much the same reasons why I chose this career path in the first place.  But above all, writing, like it’s always been, is a platform for me to share, express and release.

Speaking of sharing, I stumbled upon this story via Maegan’s blog via one of her commenters.  Sadly, a blogger named Stephanie and her husband were in a private plane crash and were severely injured.  Unlike many other bloggers, Stephanie, a young mother of four,  besides her day-to-day musings, wrote about how she was blessed every day.   She celebrated the beauty of life, above all.  It’s said that while she’s facing a long road to recovery, her children are being cared for by her family,.  She and her husband are doing well considering the circumstances.  Since I first read about it a few weeks ago, the story has been on the Today Show, as well as spread throughout the blogosphere.  Many people have started fundraisers, auctions and benefits.  Though difficult circumstances, it’s a beautiful story and one that’s truly touched me and put things into perspective.

Again, such is the beauty of life.

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I’ve got plenty more to share, so stay tuned!