The Proper Thank You

There are many virtues that I strive to nurture in my children.   I want them to demonstrate compassion and believe in themselves.  I want them to have a solid moral compass and I want them to never underestimate the power of a handwritten thank you note.

We recently celebrated someone’s big fourth birthday (more sappy words to come).  My little man was big enough to comprise a list of friends to celebrate with – and big enough to contribute to the simple yet gracious way to thank others for their kindness.

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He took pride in his work and insisted that the card insert have “NO LINES!” to guide him.  The end result was authentically Adrian – sweet pictures accompanied by delicious beginner handwriting.

Here’s to making it stick.

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Mama’s Bed

For quite some time, my fragmented nights were filled with at least one baby in my bed.  And then we went through several periods of comforting and adjusting and reassuring.  And cold water and extra kisses and other night waking things.  I still peek into their room to watch their chests rise and fall – and relish in how I continue to see the baby in them while they are sleeping.

My beautiful illustrations of grace and peace.

For the most part, we’ve been coasting through smooth nights for well over a year.  I suppose I wish I could time travel to inform the frazzled me that true rest was just around the corner.  Every now and then, someone needs cold water or an extra snuggle and sometimes we wake up extra early to a sweet surprise.  A reminder of what once was.

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It is positively glorious.

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Born a Mother || #Every2

When I first became pregnant, seven years ago, I was immersed in public health work – examining the intersection of poverty, HIV and gender identity as a street based researcher.  My evenings were spent in the classroom finishing up my Masters Degree.  As I dreamed of motherhood and my baby to be, I felt a natural pull towards global maternal health.  And now, as a mother of two, approaching Mother’s Day, I share my birth stories because every woman should have the fundamental right to life and health.

When I went into labor, my baby was in a posterior position resulting in an arduously long back labor.  Along with my doula, my birthing preferences were met with resistance as I was under the care of the Obstetrician that my provider hoped wouldn’t be on call that day.  Whatever discord I felt between the Dr. and his team dissipated from my mind as soon as I heard my doula say, “It’s a girl” – and I experienced that glorious moment when time seemed to stand still.  The minute that I became a mother for the first time. The moment that I met my darling Lucia Paloma.

born a mother every mother counts #Every2

Twenty Seven months later, I had a chance to experience that sacred moment again.  My Dr. had since left her former practice to form a minimally invasive partnership and aligned herself with a hospital known as a proponent of minimally invasive obstetrics.  St. Vincent’s hospital closed its doors the week that my son was due – and when I slid into a fast and furious labor, I waited for that call to tell me where to go.  My experiences at that lower Manhattan hospital were extremely positive.  It was my husband’s solid hip-squeezing technique and ability to coheres the nurses into letting me remain upright that severed as my saving grace.  And sharing in the birth of our son brought us even closer.  As the hospital walls echoed “DON”T PUSH”  I screamed “I’M PUSHING!!!!”, and my Dr. finally arrived to catch my sweet baby boy. Adrian Alessandro arrived ten days after his due date and birthing him was the hardest and by far the most empowering moment of my life.

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When I think back on the births of my babies, years later, my greatest concern at the time was unnecessary medical intervention.  I also think about the care and support that carried me through my pregnancies and postpartum; An endocrinologist to closely monitor my thyroid disease, a doula to support my first birth, a skilled and supportive Obstetrician, and a long term lactation consultant to support my breastfeeding goals despite being told it wasn’t possible due to breast reduction surgery nearly 10 years prior.

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I share these stories on the cusp of Mother’s Day because around the world, a mother dies every two minutes from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.  The majority of these deaths are preventable and that is unacceptable.  As we celebrate Mother’s this Sunday there are actions that we can do to help make pregnancy and childbirth safe for everyone by getting involved with Every Mother Counts, #every2 campaign:

  • UPLOAD 2 photos of the day you were “born” a mother on Facebook,  or  share your photos with the hashtag #Every2 on social media.
  • RUN 2 miles for Every Mother Counts and log them in the Charity Miles App. Every mile will generate $.25 for EMC.
  • SHARE 2 facts about maternal health on 2 of your social media networks with the hashtag #every2
  • INVITE 2 friends to Take 2 actions of their own.

Please join me in taking 2 minutes this Mother’s Day for mothers everywhere.

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Cultivating Creativity with LEGO® Friends


The sorts of things that Lucia creates and collect illustrate details of her heart and six-year-old imagination.  The coveted acorn collection that lives in a carefully decorated shoe box under her bed, the tin-foil people brought to life, and the structures thoughtfully constructed for her beloved props, continue to show me glimpses of her inner world.

I’d like to believe that our time spent alone in unstructured play provides a sense of security in having her mama completely present and receptive.

And it is in these moments of togetherness that I find her most open.

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We’re big fans of toys that promote open-ended play and have been longtime hoarders of  LEGO® sets of all kinds.  Lucia was excited to welcome a LEGO® Friends Heartlake Juice Bar set into her LEGO® collection and I knew it would provide a fun mother/daughter activity.  She still seeks a bit of help with these sorts of sets and I always glean parenting lessons when playing alongside her.  When I serve as her sounding board and watch her work out her challenges on her own – her confidence and sense of accomplishment soars.

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She was rightfully proud of her creation and we were both proud of her persistence.  

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One of the things that I love most about LEGO® play is that it employs a creative means of combining logic and reasoning with innate playfulness and imagination.  This specific type of play helps to build mathematical, spatial, and fine motor skills as creations are limitless.  And I don’t think that I’ll ever get enough of construction building, destructing, rebuilding and storytelling.

Lucia was determined to make Heartlake Juice Bar fully functional:

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She even rolled out the bar to serve her special carrot/apple juice with the assistance of her LEGO® Friends.

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I’m excited to share that with a shared vision of unleashing confidence through accomplishment, LEGO® Friends has teamed up with Girls on the Run® (GOTR), a physical activity-based positive youth development program to inspire girls everywhere to achieve their limitless potential.  Girls are using LEGO® Friends bricks and elements to tell stories, embrace their differences and find strength in their connectedness.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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The Other Side of The Lens || Mom Is Here

I watched my children paint a box in the early morning light – a favorite activity repeated several times over the years.  The effects of paint on cardboard guided by little hands are one of the many treasured everyday visions that stitch together early childhood in my home.

As I snapped a few photos of the kids entrenched in art before the box morphed into a massive drum, I thought about how I always have something to document these fleeting moments in time.  A phone in my purse – a DSLR within arms reach.   A photo snapped nearly every single day of my children’s lives. Images that speak to how quickly things change.

Sometimes a photo has a powerful ability to take me back to the rhythm of my grandmother’s rocking chair with a sweet baby nestled in my neck, or remind me that, in horrible sickness, there is so much love.  I want to remember it all.  I want evidence of this blessed life.  And I take comfort in believing that a photo with tangible ties to my past can take me back when memories waver.

I love being behind the lens.  But if I stacked up our family photos into a silent time lapse movie – there is one thing missing from many glimpses in time:

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I know that these special memories that inhabit my heart will light up their’s too. And we all need evidence of that. Because it’s really not the spruced up family portraits that encapsulate our truths – it’s the daily images of togetherness that tell our family love story.

And I am so there, in my everyday messy hair and workout clothes, wrapping my little family in all of my heart’s love.

Yet often missing in pictures.

The Sprout Network is determined to change that:

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Mamas – get in those photos! And if you join the Sprout Channel’s Mom Is Here photo sharing contest, you’ll be entered to win a $2,000 Spa Prize Pack (and one of ten $100 Spa Gift Cards).  To enter simply share your Instagram photos with the hashtag #MomIsHere and #Sprout Channel (or enter at the MomIsHere website) by April 27th.  Also follow the fun on Facebook and Twitter.

I hope that you’ll join me in being present on the other side of the lens.

This post is sponsored by Sprout via One2One Network, but as always, all opinions are my own.

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Motherhood and Migraines {Target Giveaway}

This post is sponsored by Target.

The birth of my first child, six-years ago, opened up a new-found sense of immense overwhelming love – a love that mere words will forever fail to accurately describe.  A love for little ones who continually prove to be passion and purpose personified.

Motherhood also brought something unexpected: severely debilitating and life disrupting migraines.  Migraines that force me to retreat into a dark bedroom for days, with severe nausea and extreme sensitivity to the slightest noise, scent, light or movement.  It’s not something that I’m thrilled to broadcast – but is a condition that has colored my world and affected my family for the past six years.  It is also something that has given me profound appreciation and gratitude for my numerous healthy days.

I was reluctant to take prescription drugs for the first few years.  I nursed both babies well into toddler-hood, and I suppose I believed that my migraines would begin to disappear or would resolve with natural remedies.  I’ll never forget the first time I tried prescription migraine medication.  It was the morning of my daughter’s Pre-K Christmas performance – an event that I would be devastated to miss.  Upon taking the medication, I actually felt the migraine melt away.  Although I wasn’t myself, I was able to be present at that incredibly important preschool milestone.

I’m happy to share that my migraine frequency has decreased considerably during the colder months for the past two years.  A victory that I’m incredibly grateful for! When needed, and if taken at the correct time, specific medicine (albeit not so great side effects) has proven to be my saving grace.

When I was invited to work with Target Pharmacy, I realized that filling a prescription outside a local drug store never even occurred to me.  My kiddos strongly dislike waiting in line at our small, congested drug store pharmacy.

However they LOVE going to Target.

target 1Target geeky glasses obtained at this fun Target event!

We make our way to Target about once a month, to stock up on household essentials and other supplies.  It’s an outing that the whole family enjoys.

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Stopping at the pharmacy isn’t so bad when the promise of scoping out the latest toys awaits.  And it’s incredibly convenient to receive a pharmacy text-message notifying me that my prescription has filled.

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Switching to Target pharmacy has actually streamlined our routine and made our monthly trip an efficient one-stop stock up.  I can’t wait to enjoy 5% of an entire day of Target shopping after my fifth prescription fills.

I’m continuing to celebrate the numerous healthy days with these two love-sponges!

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Win It:  I’ve teamed up with Target to giveaway a $50 Target Giftcard to one lucky winner.  To enter visit the rafflecopter below. US only and all entries are verified.  Best of luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Target.  As always, all opinions are my own.

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