Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Ciao Annie Redesign… Again!

| General, Life

Sunday Morning

Welcome to the new Ciao Annie!

I started this blog several years ago with grand ideas of perfecting and documenting all my favorite recipes, complete with well-written stories, precise recipes and gorgeous photos.  Oh how my life has changed over the past four years!  

I started researching successful blogging techniques and even took a fabulous one day Alt Summit webinar to figure out how the hell to stay motivated, consistent, and actually follow through with the whole idea of posting on a regular basis.   I have scraps of paper with scribbled recipes stashed all over the house, and I don’t dare ask Allen about all the unused photos filed on our computer, but completing an actual post… just doesn’t happen.   The ideas are totally there, but apparently I have no motivation to follow through.  

Upon further research and investigation… it turns out…  for many of my favorite blogs… the writers are single, have no kids and/or do not have additional work responsibilities outside of blogging or staying home with kids.   Initially I felt totally discouraged… and insanely jealous… mostly insanely jealous… blogging as a career… amazing (I realize it is hard work, but from the outside… just amazing)!  It seems like it may be pretty unrealistic for me to start a “successful” blog at this stage in my life, at least according to conventional methods!

  1.  My food isn’t always unique, organic, easy, vegetarian, healthy, decadent, 5 ingredients or less, slow cooked, etc.  My cooking style is all across the board, which makes it difficult to define a particular niche.  I get this.  We all love blogs with consistency.  I love that I know just where to go for great light recipes, vegetarian recipes, dessert recipes, one pot recipes, etc.  I just don’t want to commit to one style, because that is not how I cook or how we eat!
  1.  I don’t want to make the time commitment necessary, at this stage in my life, to consistently create beautiful food, amazing photos, and clever posts.  I do work full time, have two fabulous kiddos, and try (not-so-successfully) to maintain about a million hobbies.   Needless to say, I’m just  not ready to give up my family time, friend time, crafting, party planning, books, or favorite TV shows to focus on cooking.  (Okay, the books may be a stretch, I have been reading Go Set a Watchman for literally (ha… pun pseudo intended) the past 7 months).

I do, however, love the idea of blogging, so what the hell, I’m trying again (for like the 15th time)!  I’m hoping this blog will be my motivation to stop talking about all my great party, recipe and project ideas and get down to business!

While I absolutely love and value my favorite blogs, I am determined to find the middle ground between the over-the-top party plans that require a second mortgage and the simplified party plans that stress ease and simplicity.  While I definitely want recipes that will make my friends and family excited to eat at our place, I am not competing for a spread in Bon Appetit or a show on the Food Network.  As we continue unpacking and organizing (two years later), I want to settle into a comfortable style and personalize our home, but I don’t really need to please anyone except those of us actually living here!  And… there have to be some other moms out there who aren’t always basking in the glow of motherhood or constantly bitching about spilled milk and other unfortunate consequences of crazy kids in the house (unless it is breastmilk… then the bitching is totally warranted).  

My party plans, recipes, crafts and thoughts won’t always be perfect, but let’s be honest… neither is my life!  

Confession of a *wannabe* blogger… While I do hope that others will read my blog, relate, try new recipes, and explore new DIY projects, it turns out the new plan for this blog is self motivation.

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Welcome 2014!

| Life

Be Happy!

Be Happy!

I am beyond excited for all the possibilities and potential that await in this fabulous year of 2014!  I love the opportunity to play back the main events of the past year and create all sorts of idealistic plans for the future.  There is just so much potential in a new year!

I can pretty much sum up my 2013 with one word… Intense.  The past 8 months, in particular, have been extremely intense.  We sold our house, bought a new house, moved in with my parents for a month, I received a promotion, we discovered we were pregnant, we moved into our new house, we struggled through death and birth of our baby, Allen started a new job, and my dad had quadruple bypass surgery.  Intense.

While I do hope that 2014 is somewhat less intense, I understand that I do not always have control over outside events.  I do, however, have control over my reactions to those outside events and hope that I, personally, may be slightly less intense in the year ahead.  I think in many ways (definitely not all), happiness is a decision and an attitude and one that I plan to dominate in 2014!

The following are my top 10 2014 resolutions to dominate my own happiness!

1. Play. I will take time to play and spend quality time with friends, with family, with Rufus, and most importantly with little Sammie.

2. Cook. We now have an awesome kitchen. I anticipated buying a house that would need major renovations, with a dream that I might have a fantastic kitchen in 10 years.   Turns out we have that amazing kitchen now!  It is time to make the most of this amazing kitchen to cook, entertain, and document my favorite recipes to share.

3. Celebrate Every Day. Life is too short not to celebrate the little moments of everyday life.  My family always capitalizes on celebrations… we even include Pi Day, Fat Tuesday, and St. Patrick’s Day in our annual holiday rotation.  I am ready to step it up and celebrate some of our personal favorites as well: from Princess Play Dates to Dragons Love Taco Dinners… 2014 is going to be the year of celebration!

4. Create. It is time to unpack and dust off my craft supplies.  I am ready to unleash some creativity and continue making this house our home.

5. Listen to more music. At work, in the car, and especially at home… crank up the tunes for inspiration, motivation, concentration, energy, and relaxation. Bring on the playlists!

6. Don’t take work too personally. I care about my job.  I think this is what makes me good at my job.  Occasionally (read: all the time) I may (read: do) I take certain aspects of my job too personally.  While I can control my actions, interactions and reactions, I cannot control those of others.  I plan to focus on continuing to do my best, with a positive attitude, and then let the rest go.

7. Respond ASAP. At work, I pride myself on responding to people as quickly as possible, but in my personal life, I am terrible!  I read/listen to text messages, voicemails, emails, and Facebook messages, but I then seem to mentally respond and forget the actual physical response.  Enough is enough… time to start actually responding!

8. Sell something on Etsy. I would love to open an Etsy store that sells personalized paper party decorations, and my goal is to give it a shot this year!  I hope to open a stocked Etsy store and sell at least one item by 2015.

9. Blog. My blog may turn into a hot mess of confessions of a *wannabe* everything…  I have too many competing interests to keep a narrow focus and maintain regular updates.  While I hope others will read my blog and gather ideas and inspiration (as I do, from the blogs I read), my intention is really to keep myself motivated and maintain a personal documentation of what I cook, decorate, create, and celebrate… which isn’t always perfect!

10. Be organized & don’t squander free time. I’m not sure how I can accomplish my top 10 list, if I don’t stay on top of being organized!  I also cannot squander free time!  With a toddler in tow, every minute counts!!

Let’s do this!


… and we stay three…

| General

... and we stay three...

... and we stay three...

It was bad. It definitely could have been worse. But… it was still bad.

A month ago I had a miscarriage and gave birth to a 16 week old baby boy: induction of labor, delivery, hospital stay, raging postpartum hormones… all the typical physical ‘joys’ of childbirth, except a baby to bring home. Sorry for the drama, but it still feels fairly dramatic.

I was 16 weeks pregnant and our pregnancy was going well. We had a great ultrasound at 8 weeks, which looked completely normal, and we heard a healthy heartbeat at our 12 week appointment. By week 14 we were feeling great. I was over the first trimester funk, my belly was growing, and we busted out the maternity clothes. We were scheduled for our routine 16 appointment with our OB. With no abnormal symptoms, we were shocked when the doctor could not find a heartbeat. The ultrasound tech happened to be in the office, so we were able to walk down the hall for an immediate ultrasound with our doctor. It was there the doctor told us she did not have good news. The baby no longer had a heartbeat and measured about a week smaller than anticipated. The doctor talked with us about our options and let us know that because I was 16 ½ weeks pregnant, they would need to induce labor, and I would need to deliver the baby.

We stopped by our house to pack a quick bag, swung by to see little Sammie G, and then headed to Mercy where we checked in for labor and delivery. Around 3:00p.m. on a Monday afternoon they began the process of inducing labor, and I delivered a baby boy around 6:40 Tuesday morning. We were able to see the baby and have him in the room for the majority of the day. He was tiny, but really did look like a little baby with tiny fingers, toes, eyes, and a nose. After I delivered the baby, we had a few normal complications which kept us in the hospital until Wednesday afternoon. I will spare you the details!

We did have as much time as we needed with our little baby (considering the circumstances), and it was truly amazing to see how human a little 16 week old baby can be. The Mercy Heartprints team provided us with a bag of mementos to take home complete with photos and little footprints of our baby. Our baby will be buried next week, with other pre-mature losses.

This entire experience has been surreal, and I still don’t really understand what is in store as we continue to move forward. We are heartbroken and disappointed, but continue to be amazed by the outpouring of love and support from our amazing family, friends and co-workers. I am overwhelmed by how our loved ones seemed to instantly mobilize and surround us with genuine warmth and kindness… and both emotional and practical support. I will never be able to adequately thank everyone, but we will carry this experience with us and pay it forward.

As we continue to mourn the loss of our baby and the loss of all the expectations, excitement and emotion of our pregnancy, we will remember how much we are loved. We will also continue to cherish our time with little Samantha… temper tantrums and all (okay, the temper tantrums may be a slight overstatement).

While our experience was awful, I know that it could have been worse.  My heart truly aches for those who have experienced miscarriage, early loss, loss, complications or really anything sad… The emotions are pretty much out of control…damn hormones!

Confession of a *wannabe* blogger… I realize that this may seem like a serious over-share for social media (trust me, I am judgy too), but it is important for me to share my story. It seems so taboo to talk about experiences like this publicly, which is a bummer, because at least for me, it is the talking, sharing and support that helps the most. An old friend from high school shared her story through a blog and even though I hadn’t spoken to her in years, I found it strangely comforting as we moved through this process. You just never know what the day will bring, where you will find comfort, and how you will heal.


Moving Out & Letting Go

| Life

Moving Out & Letting Go

Moving Out & Letting Go

I cannot believe that 4 months ago we roamed through our first home for the last time to say goodbye. It seems like a lifetime ago and it turns out, I may be irrationally emotionally attached to our fabulous first home. These past 4 months have been filled with a number of life’s extreme ups and downs, which I am sure are fueling my current state of nostalgia!

Despite our attempts at organization, selling our house quickly devolved into a hectic whirlwind of home improvements, decluttering, and cleaning. Oh, the cleaning. We were fortunate that our house was under contract within about a week, but then the packing and paperwork started. Boxes, boxes, paper, tape, boxes, and more boxes. We frantically packed away all of our belongings, struggling not to drift down memory lane with every anniversary note, wedding gift, or baby toy we rediscovered.

We were so focused on the practical preparation, selling, and packing of our house, I am afraid we missed our opportunity to properly reminisce. Other than my childhood home, this was by far the longest I have lived in one place and it holds so many memories of major life milestones. Allen proposed on the kitchen floor of that house, we taught Rufus to “sit, stay, shake and speak,” we addressed our wedding invitations, we decorated our first Christmas tree as “Cavedines,” we purchased our first cars and subsequently watched them destroyed by hail, we transitioned in and out of jobs, we wrote papers, crammed for tests and graduated with our Masters degrees, we lovingly listened to the soothing sound of our new sump pump during spring storms, we endured a 9 month pregnancy and welcomed beautiful Samantha to our family, we celebrated 30th birthdays and a 1st birthday, watched Samantha take her first steps and learn to say ‘dog,’ and we travelled the world from the London and Rome to Taipei, Tokyo and more, with 7860 as our home. We experienced our family grow with the birth of nephews and a niece, we celebrated countless weddings, births, and birthdays with old friends, and developed incredible new friendships that continue to enrich our lives.

We are absolutely in love with our new house… I mean, it has more than one toilet! We have zero buyers remorse and frequently find ourselves sitting around saying, “can you believe this is our house?!? We actually live here!” This house holds more potential than we ever imagine, but it is, however, difficult to let go of what our first home represents.

We put our heart and soul (and sweat and paychecks) into making that house our home. We proudly invited family and friends into our home and into our lives. While our new house is amazing, it does not yet have the history to call our own. We still have the painting, hanging, crafting, hosting, celebrating, mourning, and inevitable cluttering to break this house in and make it our home.

As I find myself hanging out down memory lane, it is time to take a step back and remind myself that I am not attached our first home, but I am attached to the adventures we had and the life that we created in our home. It will take time to make memories in our new place, and I look forward to making the most of this amazing new house (with more than one toilet!) this fall and holiday season!

As we settle into our new home, that life that we create at 7860 moves with us eager to tackle the next amazing unknown adventure that awaits as we move on…

Confession of a *wannabe* blogger… Apparently my Loretto and Jesuit roots are telling me it is time for some serious self reflection, introspection, motivation and action!