Friday, September 26, 2014

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Cancer is one of the scariest words out there. It can be so mysterious, and so deadly. But you know what is so crazy? That there are still preventable cancers out there! Some people take risks that they know can lead to cancer, like smoking or too much sun exposure. I'm a bit guilty of that one... with my olive skin I love being out in the sun. But now that I've given birth to a lovely baby who's as pale as her daddy, I bet that will change!

Another preventable cancer is Mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. I didn't know anything about mesothelioma until recently, when survivor Heather Von St James asked me to share some information about it on this here blog. Now I know approximately four people read this (hi mom!), but after reading a little about this disease and its cause, I felt like it couldn't hurt to throw my own two cents out into the interwebs.

Heather's experience hit close to home, because she was a brand new mom when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005. Being a new mom is the most overwhelming and challenging thing I've ever done, and I can't imagine adding a serious cancer diagnosis to the mix. It is an incredibly aggressive cancer, and most patients are given about ten months to live. Heather braved the risks of major surgery, and is cancer free nine years later. She's become an ambassador for Mesothelioma research and fundraising, spreading awareness in order to find advancement in treatment and someday a cure.

What blew me away when I read about this form of cancer is that is is caused by asbestos. I through this mineral, a naturally occurring carcinogen, was a thing of the past! I've watched enough HGTV to know it can be present in older houses, but I really didn't think it was something to worry about in our present day. Yet asbestos is still found in schools, homes, and commercial buildings, both in our country and around the world. As one point the EPA had successfully banned most asbestos-containing products, but that regulations was overturned in the early 90's. You can find more facts about asbestos and mesothelioma in these fact sheets.

The goal of this post is to raise awareness. Not fundraising or a cure (though those are obviously the big picture). For real progress to be made, people need to hear about Mesothelioma, and the harmful effects of asbestos that are still a risk today. So please feel free to pass this along; share the information with someone who might want or need to know about this. And for more information or ways to get involved, you can head on over to

You can also read more about Heather's story here:

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

California Dreaming~~ Family Vacation 2014

Oh, hey, vacation recap! I'm going to keep this to less words & more pictures, since we've already been back a month. If I don't do this quickly, it'll never happen. California in August was wonderful... and the hardest vacation we've ever experienced. We didn't realize quite how much the changes would affect Elise. She didn't sleep well, which threw us for a loop. Luckily, she's still a very easygoing baby, and we tried our best to just chill out and roll with it. The ocean was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and we loved catching up with friends and family. 

Baby's first airplane ride!

She was so good. She slept a lot,
and just hung out the rest of the time.

Hotel family selfie
(Jamaica Bay Inn in Marina Del Rey. It was fabulous!)
We didn't risk "real" restaurants with Elise...
but Gjelina Take Away in Venice was perfect to bring to the hotel!

Baby sleeps, parents feast.

Venice Beach

Not a bad view for nap time, huh?
Feeling faaaaar from Chicago!

We had dinner at my Godmother Maria's house.
She's a great host, and it was a really fun dinner!

Hanging out with (great) Aunt Anne

Meeting Great Grandpa for the first time! 

Another day, another beach trip.
Elise isn't a huge fan of the sun at this point, and the California ocean is
way too cold for her. But we'll teach her someday!

Elise was popular with relatives of all ages!
And what is the relationship between cousins' kids?
Second cousins?

I'm not sure when we'll next take her on such a big vacation, but Joe and I do still really look forward to traveling more with Elise as she gets older. We love getting out and seeing the world, and hope to pass that love of travel and adventure down to her!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A few of our Favorite Things~~ for Newborns

Exciting times around here... my friends are having about a million babies between now and December! A couple brave souls are on to their second littles. Most are on their way to begin first time parents, just a few months after us. I'm beyond excited about this! When Joe and I announced our pregnancy, we only knew a couple friends in the city who already had kids. Yet by the end of my nine months of pregnancy, there were at least six little babes on the way. Elise is going to have a ton of little friends to play with before we know it!

Try as I might to avoid, I'm sure I'm giving far too much unsolicited advice. Which is funny, because I still feel like I know NOTHING about how to parent a child! Ha! But some of my friends have asked questions on things we've already experienced, and I really love talking anything baby-related. So I figured instead of yammering on and on to them, I'd use this as an excuse to blog. And not just blog... I made a freaking collage! It only took me about two hours when I should have been doing dishes/laundry/my nails. But I was far too entertained once I started, so you should just tell me your impressed, ok?

So here ya go... a few of our favorite things. Every baby is SO different, and your baby might hate all of these. But as long as you appreciate the picture below, and take my insight with a (huge) grain of salt, then we should be good...

1. The Soothie pacifier- I was pretty skeptical of pacifiers before Elise was born. I just assumed if I used one, she'd automatically be cursed to be the three year old sucking on the stupid thing at the playground. We did hold off at first, because of breast feeding. And then we tried to introduce a number of different pacifiers, because babies can cry a lot, and you'll do anything to sooth them. It still took a couple months before she's do anything other than chew on it, but at this point the soothie is our favorite. There are times that it is truly a lifesaver!

2. Harry the Dirty Dog- I've mentioned before, but Elise loves being read to. This is her absolute favorite. As long as she's in the right mood, she'll just stare at the pictures while we read. And I appreciate that it's an actual story, instead of just a word-per-page type of book.

3. Angelcare Motion and Sound Monitor- We didn't get a monitor before Elise was born, because we live in a small condo, and people said we wouldn't need it. But people didn't predict that Elise would hate her bassinet, and that we'd all sleep like crap with her in our room. We tried out the crib, and she slept better. But we couldn't handle leaving our brand new baby (seriously, about a week old) in her giant crib all alone. Is there a parent out there who isn't obsessed with the terrifying concept of SIDS? This monitor doesn't just let you listen to baby, but it checks that they're moving, and is sensitive enough to alert you if they're not breathing. It was a godsend to us, and allowed us to enjoy our precious little bits of sleep in our own bed.

4. Boppy- Everyone has heard of the Boppy. This is nothing new. But we have loved it, and used it a ton. Whenever we go on a trip without it, I totally miss it! At 5.5 months, Elise is still exclusively breastfeeding, so we use it all the time. We use it for tummy time, too. Things I've learned along the way-- get two covers, so you can wash one at a time. And you can actually wash the entire Boppy pillow, too. I should probably do that at some point. Ewww.

5. miYim Musical Owl- This has some extra sentimental value for me, because it was a gift from my grandmother (with some help from my aunts, since grandma was stuck in the hospital). My grandmother has since passed away, but she at least got to do some FaceTime with Elise before she went to join my grandpa. I think Elise knows it is special. We love to pull it for the music (Twinkle, Twinkle), which really soothes Elise when she's fussy. It's almost always a part of her bedtime routine, after her baths. We've even packed it for our trips to St Louis and Los Angeles!

6. Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Activity Gym- Every baby loves some kind of activity mat. Elise's Skip Hop mat has gotten a TON of use, since she's still not able to sit on her own. I do try to not just lay her on her back all day, but when we are letting her "play" on her own, it's usually on this mat. This is far and away one of our most used baby gifts!

7. Carter's Sheets- I bought some cute sheets at Target, but they were really small. It was a serious workout trying to get them on to the mattress! These Carter's sheets from Babies R Us fit the crib mattress perfectly, and have held up well. We love them, and I'd recommend them to anyone.

If I was a clever girl, I'd figure out how to do affiliate links, and maybe make a buck off this silly blog. But after spending too long on the silly collage, I'm just calling this charity. Even if it doesn't help anyone, it entertained me for a night, so that's worth something, right?

Now hurry up babies! Elise and I can't wait to hang out with you tiny snuggly little creatures!

Hungry Baby

We're waiting until Elise is at least six months to introduce 'real' foods, for a variety of reasons. I'm so excited for that time to come! Joe and I love food, and I am excited to introduce her to so many different flavors. We're going to start with purees, and I plan to make them myself. It'll be a lot more work than just breastfeeding, but she's going to love it! She's starting to show interest in our food, watching as we eat. It's adorable! I've given her 'tastes' of a few things, which really means letting her lick or suck on the food, without actually eating it. She gets really excited when we do it. Over the weekend, I let her taste my red pepper, and it was caught on camera by my brother in law, Dan. He made a gif, and I had to share. Enjoy!

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