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Though we all may have spent weeks and months preparing for this one special holiday by prepping the perfect feast and scouring the mall for the perfect gift, I think I can speak for my entire family and say that we got our best gift in September.  I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful our holiday has been with Jack’s tiny but grand presence.  It’s amazing how one tiny person can completely alter the family dynamics…forever!  The family memories and pictures that we’re coming away with speak volumes.

Even though today is the big day for many families, we did most of our celebrating on Sunday and yesterday.  With the reality of living almost 400 miles away from most of our family and having to work the day after a big holiday, Jeff and I are packing up and starting to say our goodbyes once again.
Christmas07 172We’re so blessed and fortunate to have so many loved ones who have extended their graciousness to our son.  Jack’s first Christmas was filled with so much love, hugs, drool and mountains of  toys! We really couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas.  I wanted to keep this short and sweet, but for those friends and family that we might not have seen this weekend, please know we love you!  For everyone else, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Jack (1)

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After Jack was born, one of our best friends sent him the most perfect gift. Collectively, Jeff and I have practically known her for all of our lives. Jeff and his friends used to chase after her in jr. high. I’ve known Kelly for 22 years and have remained close friends throughout every phase of life. So, leave it to her to find the perfect baby gift for us. In line with all Kind of a big dealthose shirts with catchy sayings, Kelly got Jack a onesie that reads, I’m Kind of a Big Deal. If you’ve seen Anchorman, you must know that Jack is our very own Ron Burgundy. I mean, minus the mustache and dog. I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. I’m very important.

That onesie pretty much summed up our whole weekend.

For his first trip to Va., Jack was Mr. Popularity. I’m not saying this because Jack’s my kid, I say this because that’s what it felt like this weekend! Since Jeff was a groomsman in Joe’s wedding and I had a last minute assignment out in Newport News, time was really tight in between visits with our families. Though we only ate one Thanksgiving dinner this year, it didn’t feel much like years past, especially since it was in the 70s and we had to have the AC on! Sadly, we only had the chance to see a small handful of friends. And only a few friends got to actually meet Jack since we had so much running around.

In between the turkey and snacks, Jack met the rest of the family that he hadn’t met, including Lola Tess, Uncle Jeff, UncleMichael and Jack Mark and his cousins Michael and Ashley. Michael, one of Jack’s biggest fans, was definitely one of the most excited to meet the big guy. Michael has dubbed Jack as his “little brother” and promises to teach him to love books and baseball.

Jack was pretty fussy at the beginning of the trip– I’m sure it was because of over-stimulation and not being familiar with all the attention from family down in Va. At only 2 months, he’s used to the simplicity of our little home and the loudness of his city surroundings. By the end, Jack was “talking” his little head off and causing my dad to speak in tongues. (Jeff’s description of my dad baby talking with Jack.)Lolo speaking in tongues to Jack

For the most part, Jack was a gracious passenger and didn’t have too many tantrums on our 350 mile trek to Va. and back to NJ. He slept a majority of the way and talked to his little birdie toys. Jack, however, is a heavy traveler, or rather, his mommy and daddy packed quite a bit for him! It’s amazing how much stuff an infant requires, not to mention how many outfit changes he goes through!

By the end of the trip, as much as we love our families, Jeff and I aren’t used to the constant time with family anymore. As much as we loved seeing everyone, it started to make our heads spin by the end. When you mix a new baby in with the usual dysfunction on my side, things got quite interesting.

BFFsall the kidsJack and cookie monstergobble gobbleBritney and the boyjack's luggage

We learned quite a few things on our trip home: how much Jack is loved by all of his family, just how much we appreciate our little family here in NJ and even though Va. will always be home for Jeff and me, NJ is where Jack calls home.  But most importantly, what a lucky baby Jacky is to have such a dedicated fan club already.

In between all the hugs and kisses that Jack got, it was pretty humbling to share our baby with family, have him soften their hearts and then pack up and leave once the weekend was over. When it was just Jeff and me, it got harder and harder to say goodbye after every trip. Now that we have Jack, I can’t even explain how heavy our hearts were on Sunday night. When I left Va. almost 8 years ago to pursue my career, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Now that I’m a mother living away from where I grew up, it’s a hard pill to swallow knowing my kid lives far from his parents’ family and friends. And then I look back, knowing that both sets of parents did the same thing and left their homes many years ago to pursue different opportunities and went on to create great homes for our families. It gives me a sense of relief that everything turned out just fine. Just like our parents did for us, Jeff and I know our main focal point is to provide a privileged life for our son… and for us, that just happens to be in NJ.

For friends and family back home, it’s our plan to visit often and for Jack to learn to love our home just as much as we do. Ultimately, we will stay “close,” even if it means sharing our must mundane details online for the whole world to see 🙂

In between the mad dash to finish a stack of work and put away 3 weeks worth of laundry and crossing things off my packing list before we leave at 2am tonight, I remembered how imperative it is for me to prepare a playlist for the roadtrip.  Because you know, some things are just THAT important.

The whole playlist significance stems from our many roadtrips from driving back and forth when Jeff and I did the long distance thing twice and then of course, with the many drives down to Va.  If you’re familiar with longass roadtrips, especially through rural Va., you know how Godawful the radio can be.  So, yes, playlists are important for our sanity.   Back in the day, we did mix tapes <sigh>. About 6-7 years ago when I first moved up here, I began burning cds for our playlists.  But now, in the age of digital convenience and ipods, playlists live in infamy within our itunes library.

So here I am, updating my iPod with a new playlist for our trip home to Va.  I should mention that Jack appreciates music that makes him move.  In fact, Jack gets a big kick out of Soulja Boy’s song and dance 😉

Anyway, randomly, I remembered that we received a couple of baby cds as gifts.  (The “no crying and wellness” tag words sold me.)  I loaded the cd into the computer and imported the songs, but all I could do was laugh at how much this kid has infiltrated our lives, INCLUDING the sacred playlists.  So, in between Jeff’s Johnny Cash tunes and my Justin Timberlake songs, I’ve officially added You are my Sunshine and If You’re Happy and You Know It to our iTunes repertoire.

Yet another indication that there’s no turning back…

It’s pretty funny how our weekends are soooo different now that Jack dictates our social calendar. Jack had his first “playdate” this weekend. And when I say Jack had a playdate, I really mean daddy had a playdate. haha.

We got together with our friends Alycia and Will who live south of us, close to where Jeff used to work. We hung out, talked, drank beers, watchedmommies some foozball and Will tried to teach Jeff how to channel his inner rockstar via Guitar Hero. Alycia had her son Braedan in May, so the boys are about 4 months apart. It was interesting to bring the boys together because they obviously have no clue how to play together yet. Like Jack, Braedan is also a big boy, so Jack looked tiny next to him. We’ve got a pair of linebackers on our hands! Even though the kids aren’t interacting yet, it was nice to hang out with new parent friends and talk to someone about my going back to work woes.

our little linebackerOther than the playdate, I did very little to get ready for our trip home! crap! I have 3 huge bags of newly washed but unfolded laundry. Before I can even think of packing our bags, I need to fold a buttload of laundry! Yikes! But on a good note, Jeff just told me that we’re leaving at 2a.m. on Wednesday morning!!! After figuring traffic and tending to mr. baby, we should be in Va. by 10 a.m. on Wednesday! I’m so excited for that extra day of trying to squeeze in more visits!

Get ready Va., here we come!

Hello, 37 weeks.  I’m full term today and couldn’t feel any more pregnant.  Even though I don’t feel any bigger, I’m steadily outgrowing all of my clothes.   It’s pretty comical when I try to get dressed for work in the mornings.  My friends at work are like, “you’re pregnant, who cares!?”  Um. I do.  And so do the people on the streets, apparently.  I often catch stiletto chicks staring at me and then shift their attention to my illfitted shirts, like I’m wildlife just wandering the streets of new york.  It’s the best when they grab their flat bellies in fear. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but really, the stares are too much!  haha.  Oh well, not much longer and then I can wear my illfitted shirts AND shorts while I nap in my chair while I wait for little dude to make his grand entrance.

It’s hard to believe summer is unofficially over!  The train was half empty this morning and the people who were commuting had weekend bags perched at their feet.  (sigh)  If we could have traveled, we would’ve been heading to Va for an old friend’s wedding.  But alas, we’re anticipating big things this weekend too.  Though we might not be tanning at the beach or chugging delicious beer with friends, we’re doing much more glamorous things on our own.  We have a weekend full of rearranging furniture, shampooing carpets, vacuuming floorboards and finally finishing baby’s closet nursery.  Don’t be jealous.

Maybe we should’ve planned a quick weekend getaway or something to celebrate our anniversary?  Because you know, if we HAD planned something, maybe I’d be in labor ON Labor day!  Doubtful.

Other than that, I’m still waiting, wishing and wondering.  I’ve been getting less sleep but more aches and pains.  Baby’s movements are so different now.  I feel that he’s so long that when he kicks, it almost feels like he’s kicking between my boobs and reaching for my throat!  Obviously, I know he’s not, but that’s what it feels like.  Baby likes to get up with me in the mornings and toustles and turns when I moan about getting up.  As usual, he responds to Jeff’s voice regularly, and still gets startled when I yell or laugh at Jeff.  He knows mom’s bitching very well.  I still feel his butt right under my ribs and he gets pretty annoyed if I try adjusting him to relieve my discomfort.

We’re ready whenever you are, kid!

To end on a nostalgic note, I have to sing my praises about myspace and the internets.  It’s clear that I’m obsessed with myspace, email and the internet and use it as a way to communicate with almost all of my friends and family, both local and back home. But, I have to say, it’s so much fun when old friends find me or vice versa!  This week, I got back in touch with 2 of my childhood friends.  One of the girls I went to Kindergarten with and the other was one of my BFFs from around the same time.  Even though I lost touch with these two friends after high school, it’s so awesome to know that they’re both doing well.  I even found out that one of them just moved back to Va from out west and is now expecting twins, just 2 months after me!  Coincidentally, she grew up a street over from me, is also named Jenn, graduated with a similar degree, then went off to pursue a similar career on the west coast and had a penchant for happy hour.  We were so close growing up, it’s no surprise that even 10-15 years of losing touch, we learned that we still led such parallel lives.  I love the internets and myspace too.  🙂

Whatever you do this weekend, have fun and be safe!!

With a few giant hugs and the requisite “see you in Septembers,” Jeff and I said bye to our families and bid adieu to Va. for the last time as DINKs. It took all that I had on Sunday night to choke back the tears, hug my parents and aunt and thank them for such an amazing weekend. I can’t even begin to describe how incredibly lucky we are…but here’s a start.

As a kid, I loved the anticipation of returning back to school every September. One of my favorite aspects of that first day back was when we’d write our essays about what we did that summer. Every year, I’d have a new adventure to write about. Whether it was spending 2 weeks in Montreal visiting my aunt, going camping with the whole family, visiting NYC for the first time, seeing Niagara Falls and of course, visiting Disney– no two summer vacation essay was ever the same. It was always the best way to recollect about the highlight of our summer and share the time well spent (or misspent) with my family.

As I reluctantly play catch up at work and attempt to unpack the bags, boxes of stuff from Va. that have littered my living room floor, the first thing on my list is this– writing my summer vacation essay. I mean, after such a memorable week, how could I ever do our trip any justice?

vacation mosaic

continue to read the rest. Since I have 100 or so pictures, but wanted to keep them private out of respect of friends and fam, you’ll have to log in to view all the photos in their entirety 🙂

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Why is it the day before vacation always seems to drag beyond belief? haha.

I got up at 5am today– that’s how excited I am about heading home. Our car’s packed, I’m heading down south via train to meet Jeff after work and we’re anticipating the usual long 350 mile drive home tonight.

Jeff made 15 trips up and down the stairs to the car last night and this morning and meticulously packed the car. Lugging all of my junk combined with the crazy heat almost made for an excuse to rip my head off this morning. Speaking of which, my husband is such a trooper. I mean, he always is… but as I constantly mention, he’s taken on so many extra duties around the house. He insists that my job is to relax when I get home from work. It’s definitely hard to sit around and watch him do most of the chores, but in this heat and the way it takes me almost an hour to cool all the way down, I can’t thank him enough for being so helpful.

With all of this excitement about going home, I can’t help but be nostalgic about my attitude about the 757. It’s so funny, in high school I used to moan about how much I hated VB, and how life would be so much better elsewhere! I just couldn’t wait to leave! It’s 13 years later, and having lived away from there for so long now, I can’t help but laugh at the irony of it all.

Yesterday, I was flipping through a magazine supplement called Girlfriend Getaways. (cute little publication btw!) Anyway, in the middle of the mag, this full page ad of a woman sitting in her convertible with a surfboard hanging out caught my attention. She’s looking out at the sunset, dreaming about something– perhaps, checking out a cute boy?

I couldn’t help but smile and remember how much I loved going to the beach whenever I wanted. I’d go when I was sad, I’d go when we were celebrating something, I’d go to relax, I’d go when I wanted to be alone, I’d go to meet boys– whatever. VB was such a cool place to grow up, and I love love going home. When I looked closer at the ad, I realized that the ad is for Virginia Beach. Appropriately enough, our hometown is urging you to Live the Life.

Picture perfect magazine ad aside, our love for Virginia Beach is hinged upon so many things: our family, our best friends, great memories, wonderful childhoods and of course, the basis of our relationship–all of which are the most wonderful aspects of our lives.

The beach is home

It’s hard to believe this will be the last trip for a long while. It’ll be another bittersweet visit, knowing that this will be the last time we’re going home sans baby. The next time we visit, we’ll have the kid in tow. I hope one day, he learns to love and embrace the Beach, just like mom and dad. Not just any beach, Virginia Beach 🙂

Like the computer junkie I am, I’m going to try and ween myself off of the computer while on vacation. I may check in over the weekend. Until then, be well. And for the VB contingent, we’ll see you this week!!


25w

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

Just a quick post since I should be finishing up work and heading off to a business dinner. *snooze*

By the way, said business dinner dictated wearing a suit– um, yeah, considering I wear flip flops and jeans to work every day, I refused to buy maternity business attire. However, I think I made it work with my bella band, maternity blouse and one of my regular suits. Seriously, I don’t think my “old white hair” colleagues will even notice. ha.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my 25week belly shot. I’m feeling really great and truly loving every aspect of my pregnancy right now. (besides the heat, my feet growing and the psychotic mood swings!) As always, Jeff’s been wonderful. He recently went grocery shopping on his own so I wouldn’t have to lug too many bags home on foot. haha. He did a great job, but let’s just say, he opted not to buy a few things because “that’s not how Jenny usually buys it.”

On a side note, I’m really missing home right now, mainly because I know I won’t be home for another month. I talk to mom regularly and I hear dad and my aunties have been quite busy prepping the house for baby’s arrival. One would think baby would be living there, with all the preparations they’re doing…just another wonderful reminder of how much we’re loved.

More updates later– I’m off to snoozefest 🙂

Many of my favorite memories of my youth involve a myriad of smells: the fragrant and busy kitchen, my grandmother’s musky Estee Lauder perfumes, rainstorms at the beach in the summertime, honeysuckles in our backyard…but probably my most favorite smell of all is the scent of blossoming gardenias.

I remember one year, my mom bought my grandma a gardenia plant for Mother’s Day. My grandma’s green thumb and nurturing ability was showcased in our yard with flowers, roses and plants of every kind. Grandma planted the gardenia outside of her window, in between a pair of bushes. Since Grandma’s room was next to mine, our windows shared the same views. Over time, I watched dad’s trees in the front yard grow from twigs to huge shadow casting arbors, as well as grandmas various flowers.

In early spring, we usually had our windows propped open since we didn’t crank the AC well into June. On cool spring mornings, the smell of grandma’s garden would literally wake me up. It’s such an unforgettable scent: sweet, timeless and feminine.
After all of these years, that sweet smell of newly blossomed gardenias remains synonymous with the fondest memories of my grandma.

0407lilly500×300.jpg

As we were packing to come to our NJ home on Sunday night, I brushed up against the Easter Lily my dad bought for my mom. All day, in between the entertaining and cooking, I never smelled that lily. But as we were leaving, I got a good whiff of it– and it didn’t smell like the delicate flower that I was used to. It distinctively smelled like a gardenia and not like a lily. I was so weirded out by it, that I told mom and she agreed. Jeff thought I was crazy and had no idea of the significance, but there was no mistaking that smell. It was a beautiful smell the sparked so many memories, especially after such a great trip home.

While we had an awesome trip home to Va. for Easter, we celebrated family, friends and good times. As one of my aunts suggested during the lunch blessing, Easter is a celebration of life and she gave props to the anticipation of Baby B. and a family friend’s little one on the way.
On Easter, we laughed for hours at the dining room table recollecting the many grandma-isms between my aunties, cousins and brothers and parents. We celebrated a lot of good things this past weekend, but one that we didn’t really speak of was grandma’s passing.

It was 5 years ago that we said goodbye to one incredible lady.

I’m reminded by this because in the midst of all the family visits, many people were asking about baby names. Since many of us are thinking baby B. is a girl, I dream about telling her about the wonderful woman she will be named after.

As we celebrate many memories and the anticipation of baby in a few months, I’m very anxious to find out more about this kid.  The big ultrasound is right around the corner.  We’ll find out sometime at the end of April or first week of May!

Stay tuned for a whole new celebration.

Just the other night, I was laying sideways on the bed reading a magazine before I went to sleep.  I was curled up, with my leg propped up on a pillow.  And out of nowhere, I felt the most distinctive feeling below my belly button.  It was a flutter, bordering on a soft thumping.  Since I’m not quite 16 weeks, I attributed it to gas.  All of the first trimester was gas anyway.  But for some reason, I just couldn’t get that feeling out of my head.

The next day, I IM’ed my friend who happens to be pregnant with #2 and is due a week before me.  I told her about the feeling that I had the night before.  And in all caps, my friend declared, “THAT’s BABY!  THAT’s IT!”

Interesting and soooo cool! I felt baby B and never even realized it!  Since then, I’ve been feeling random flutters in the same area, but mostly at night.  I must say, it’s pretty surreal!

Jeff’s been talking to the baby regularly now.  He leans over to my belly, cups his hand like he’s telling a secret and has conversations.  He tells the baby good night, hello and pleads for the baby to stop making me so sick.  haha.  Poor guy must be done with my moaning.

The sickness is getting better, but it’s still there.  At about 8pm every night, I get really nauseous and the gagging begins.  It’s cyclical and annoying.  As it tapers though, I’ve acquired even more pregnancy ailments.  I haven’t been eating my bowls of Kashi Go Lean Crunch for breakfast, and I’ve been too busy to cut up fruit for lunch.  Needless to say, I’ve had the pleasure of spending half hour intervals in the bathroom.  As I finish eating my personal watermelon for lunch, here’s a kind reminder, eat your fiber!

With Easter around the bend and another long weekend ahead of us, Jeff and I are off to Va. again are in Va. again.  I wrote this yesterday during lunch and we left right after work. 
We’re imagining that this might be one of our last trips back home before I get too big.  We might be home later in the summer, but that 6-7 hour drive gets cumbersome.  *hint, hint* We love visitors and that turnpike goes both north and south!
We’re looking forward to seeing our families and friends this weekend, even announcing the pregnancy to a few more friends.

Happy Easter everyone!

 eggs.jpg

Ma'am put down the camera

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