Joy


I read an article that really hit home. (I know, I know I am always reading. It’s my thing. I love it). Anyway, the article basically said that the mother was stealing her own joy. How does one steal their own joy? 

She was letting herself get weighed down by anger, pettiness, and pity. She would get frustrated with her children or husband and ruin her own day. 

Guys, I was reading this article and thinking, “it is like she wrote this FOR me.” How many minutes, hours, days have been wasted by holding onto anger or disappointment? I can tell you for sure that it is not pretty.

Yesterday, was one of those days for me. I was disappointed because we had to cancel a trip that we had been planning to take to Florida. The timing just isn’t working out and we will have to go some other time. And, let me tell you I had some BIG emotions about it. I cried and sulked. I was so mad about it. 

The saddest part though is that I spent a Sunday holding onto the negative when I could have been enjoying a day with my family. Why do we steal our own joy? Why is it so hard to let go of the “bad” when all it does is make us sad? I’m not sure.

Today, I have been blessed with a new day. Sophia and I are munching on apples and dancing to The Fresh Beat Band. We read books in bed this morning and snuggled together. This, my friends, is joy. It is joy in the simplest form. We laughed and hugged. I remembered that BIG emotions are okay, but we all have to move on because we could miss the next awesome thing to come along. 

 Xo

Aly

Working From Home


A few days ago I made breakfast, changed diapers, cleaned and re-cleaned the kitchen, folded a load of laundry, put the baby down for a nap, made phone calls, answered emails, wrote out a grocery list, and all before noon. I never realized the amount of work it takes to be a stay-at-home parent especially one that works from home.

I’ve mentioned before that I am a freelancer. Most often I edit resumes for working professionals who are hoping to gain new or better employment. I also do editing for articles, blogs, and academic papers. I also write articles here and there. I follow a ton of creative freelance job boards, but I hesitate to apply to some of the full-time opportunities to work at home because it takes away from my flexibility as the stay-at-home caregiver.

Does anyone else feel that it’s hard to find a work-life-responsibilities-balance?  I want to stay home with my kids, take them to the park, plan fun activities with them while they are young and not in school full-time. I have been blessed to be able to stay at home for three years with Sophia and now Max too. Most often this leaves me wanting to ignore chores, meal planning and preparing, and “adult” stuff. I manage it all okay though. I put on my Responsible Adult with Great Organizing Skills hat and get it done with the help of my husband, Richie. My husband works his ass off to provide a secure, stable home for all of us. He also makes time to spend with our children playing and laughing. I know he struggles with also finding time for his “passions” that are beyond just “work”…

I guess my struggle now is putting more effort into my “work” portion. Writing/Editing/Creating is not just a money making effort to me. I love my freelance opportunities. I am happy to work, to edit, to write, and to share my passion with others. Somehow, it is this portion of my life that I put on the back burner. Working in Marketing taught me that you have to put in effort to gain success. There were promotions to be done, social media accounts to update,  and contacts to network with in order to get your business out there. Why don’t I work hard to promote my services, write my articles/blog, and perfect my craft? I’m not sure. It’s easy to pour your heart into being a parent and a “responsible” adult. Is it enough though?

It’s funny that I came across an article on Romper that was titled “I Work From Home, & Honestly, I Work Harder than Other Working Moms”. Now, first off I know that the title is supposed to be attention-grabbing, but it was slightly off-putting to me. In my personal experience, I don’t have it “harder” than other working moms because I don’t have to leave my house. One thing I can agree with in this article is that it is HARD to work from home with tiny people running around at your feet. But,  maybe that is just my excuse. Anything worth doing is hard, so why put it off? I guess I’m looking for accountability and support from my online community here.

I appreciate all of your comments, your likes, your follows, and your shares. Makes me believe that my writing is important too.

A Month Ago


A month ago I was feeling pretty good. Rocking this homeowner thing, planning for our 6th anniversary. I had lost 10 lbs and was really practicing some good habits. I felt like I had a pretty good handle on adulting.

Then, three weeks ago my great Uncle Sal passed away. It was unexpected although he was 92. He lived a great life, full of love and laughter.

I think we all feared that the news would be too much for my dear great grammy. That was her last living sibling and the baby of the family. She made it through his funeral, but had a stroke a few days later. She passed away at home with her family March 29, 2017.

Another extended family member, Viviene,  mother of our cousin Dan also passed away. It seems unfair to lose so many dear to us in such a short time. Although, the world tells me often that life is not fair.

Since then, I have felt like we have been swirling around in some Wizard of Oz-esqueezes cyclone. Not knowing where we will land and how we will be once we get there. I’m exhausted and have succumbed to a summer cold. Well a spring cold, but it’s still pretty rough. The kids are fighting it the best they can, but I think my body is telling me I have to rest. And then I have to get out of the cyclone. It’s hard to face life’s challenges. They aren’t really “unfair.” Just tough to tackle. There is so much that I want to do, but I am struggling to focus.

A month ago, I was feeling pretty good. Now, I just feel tired. I’ve written a poem in honor of my Gram. My Aunt Cindy had hoped we could write one for the funeral, but I didn’t have words until now. Love you, Cinny.

A Rose Amongst Thorns

Sweet Grammy would light up when I brought the babies around to see her.

She would hug and kiss them with unadulterated joy, playing patticake and tea party and letting Sophia brush and brush her soft white hair.

Grammy always offer candy even if you said no the first three times because everyone could use a bit of chocolate. She always had one with you so you didn’t have to feel bad for eating a candy by yourself.

Grammy fed our souls with joy. With her devotion to her faith and her family she warmed our hearts. She fed our bellies with food even putting her own plate in front of us to make sure we ate.

She laughed and had a great sense of humor. She could tease you with a straight face and you couldn’t belive your ears until she cracked a little smile. She could beat you at cards, but sometimes she would let you win.

Grammy always asked how you were and really meant it. She cared so deeply about those around her. She was kind.

She was truly the best of us.

Eulogy 


What can I say about a woman who was pure light and joy? A woman who always had a smile and a kind word to give to others. How can I put into words how significant and how special my Great-Grandmother, Rose Marie Cecilia Matassa, was to all of her family? She was a blessing to her brothers and sisters-in-law, her children, her cousins, her nieces and nephews, her god children, her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even her GREAT great grandchildren. And to everyone who called her a friend.

 

SHE WAS LOVING: Rose Marie Matassa was the embodiment of love. She was generous and thoughtful. She always put others before herself. A true Italian nonna the first words out of her mouth were, “Did you eat?” She would put her own plate in front of you before you could protest. When you finished your first plate, there would be a second helping filling up your plate. Like her mother, Angelina, before her, she would tell us to “mangia” or else you wouldn’t be able to get away from the table.

 

SHE WAS KIND: Grammy never, ever missed a birthday. She mailed birthday cards like it was her job. She even gave a birthday card for the lady at Safeway who cut her bread. You could count on Gram to be there for you.

 

SHE HAD STRONG FAITH: She never missed a Sunday at Church until the last few years. Even then she kept her rosary on her bedside table. Her little statues of Mary and baby Jesus adorned her bedroom. She always kept her faith close.

 

SHE WAS ALL ABOUT FAMILY: We stuck together as a family. A large part of that was our time spent at the “Shore” house. We were happy to spend weekends playing in the creek, running around outside, and eating pasta on Sundays. It always gave Gram great joy to take our yearly vacation to the Shore where we would all move in together for a week playing games and cards all night long.

 

SHE WAS VERY FUNNY AND WITTY: She was a sweet little old lady, but don’t let that fool you. She had 5 brothers and she could hang with the best of them. At parties and family events, she would be right in the middle taking a shot with all of the boys. Every Christmas, she would give bottles of Southern Comfort to her son and her sons-in-law. Even at 98 years old, she would still play cards and use her quick wit to tease those she loved.

 

SHE WAS THE BEST GRANDMOM EVER: Grammy was made to be a grandmother. She was a permanent fixture in my life. She was the perfect Grammy. She always knew how to have fun. I remember driving around town in her old blue Chevy Lumina to and from school. To get ice cream. Gram always gave hugs, kisses, and money to her grandkids when we would come around. If you needed a tissue, she had one up her sleeve or hard candy, mints or Mentos, she would pull one out of her purse. She never hesitated to play tea party or soldiers or color in a coloring book for hours with all of her grandchildren. Just two weeks ago, she would sit and have breakfast with Sophia in her room and marvel over Max, her “big boy” every time we would come to visit. She looked forward each June to visiting her grandchildren in Georgia. Everyone would pile in the vans and head down there. Another family trip that she really loved was the annual vacation to Ocean City. Where all of us would gather together, play cards, and enjoy the sun.

 

I could go on forever. It would be easy to describe her smile, her sense of humor, her teasing, and the way she loved a good joke. I could tell you how her heart ached for people who were sad and how she swelled with joy when she heard good news. She was so proud of her family and she loved without reservation. I could tell you how loved she made everyone feel and just how very much I am going to miss her. Just these few words won’t do justice to the beautiful person that Grandma was, but I hope that it gives everyone a little bit of joy to remember her sweet, kind heart. We love you Grammy.

 

Today, we said goodbye to Grammy. She graced this earth for almost 99 beautiful years. I wrote the eulogy above and read it with my cousins at her funeral. That was so much harder than I imagined. My life will feel a little emptier from now on, but I am blessed to have known her. 



 

RoseMarie Matassa


I come from a long line of strong Italian women. Women who run the show. These women know how to whip up a feast for a hundred people, not only to feed their bellies, but warm their hearts, pray a direct line to Heaven when we need prayers, give the clothes off their back and the food off their plate, and always, always how to keep their family together. Italian women know the secret to family success is throwing a great party where everyone can laugh together. My Great-Grammy always loved a good party. She would thrive in a crowd. It was just her way. That sweet little grin would light up a room when someone new walked in to say hello to her. 

    I told myself that I would take these next two days and celebrate like Gram. Hug and kiss my family, tell all the old stories, wax poetic about the fact that she had almost 99 years on this earth. But, to tell you the truth, I am not doing so well at it. 

    Another great party it is just what we need after the past few weeks. The loss of our Uncle Sal, Grammy’s brother, and now saying goodbye to her too. To bring us all back together again to laugh (and cry). So we can reminisce.

    But I couldn’t sleep last night, or really at all this week. I woke up today with a heavy heart because throughout all of our celebrating one thing is true. I really do have to say goodbye to my Grammy. A woman so loved that even my friends called her Gram. 

    As practical as I can be, I know she was 99, and lived a beautiful life, but I know it will hurt to not have the chance to hug her, to sit with her, and to see love radiate from her. I will miss her so much. So very, very much.

    I’m going to give myself a minute. Then, in true strong woman fashion, I will brush my tears off, put on a dress, and a fresh coat of lipstick (Thanks, Nana). And celebrate with the best of them. 

    My Gram raised a loving, special, crazy stuck like glue family, one of the best damn families I have ever seen. And I thank you for it, Gammy. We wouldn’t be here without you. 

    Love always,

    Aly

    I Promise To Sing To You When All the Music Dies 


    This time of the year (I know everyone has been waiting patiently) I like to take a moment to recall the crazy journey that led us here….

    6 years and 4 days ago… I had recently moved to North Carolina to be closer to my boyfriend of 5 months. We had an apartment, I had a job. Things were going well. 

    And then, he called me at work to tell me that he was going to be stationed in JAPAN. Yes, the other side of the world for 2 + years. As you can imagine I was distraught (read: freaking out). 

    Well, that day we took a leap of faith. Richie asked me to go with him to Japan. We were 21 and 22 years old and had met 5 months prior. As crazy at it sounds I said yes.

    Four days later we were married. 3 months after that we arrived in Japan to live for three years. I can’t believe 6 years has flown by.


    We have already had adventures that people only dream of and it’s only been 6 years. Thank you for our 2 beautiful children, thank you for taking that leap of faith with me. Thank you for loving me through it all. There is no one I would rather travel through my life with. I love you bug. Happy Anniversary.

    Always Yours.

    Aly

    The Post


    This is about the hundredth (maybe, fourth) post I have tries to write recently. I’ve started draft after draft and somehow i have managed to lose them all. They were all very insightful and genuine. Maybe one day the ideas will circle back around.

    Having two tiny people around (who actually love it when I play, run, act silly) makes it a challenge to write when I want too. The problem with this sentiment is that I, then, do not write even when I have a free moment because it was not on my schedule. Kids don’t understand scheduling. They are full of fun and excitement and delight. They want what they want NOW and who can blame them. So instead of battling it out i stay awake a little bit later. I know, i know, past my bedtime which is usually early.

    So, i Haven’t forgotten. I’m still here, happy to write. Hopefully, next time I will hit publish.

    Aly

    Taking a Step


    img_20170215_085814-1Pictured Above: December 2016 (left) and February 2017 (right) post-Whole30

    Hey All,

    I mentioned the other day in my Mom of 2 post that I was doing a round of Whole30. Basically, the premise of a whole30 is to eliminate foods that are triggers for inflammation, digestive issues, pain issues,unhealthy eating habits, and so on. You can read more about it here. I first heard about Whole30 two years ago when my mom mentioned that she would like to try a round. So I agreed.

    At that time I was 9 months postpartum from the birth of my daughter. Completing a round was tough, but rewarding. I did another round 3 months later  because I felt so good. Many of you know or have read on here that I suffered from severe postpartum anxiety after my first pregnancy. The Whole30 really helped calm my anxiety, get my gut health back on track, and lose some extra weight (20 lbs total). Over the last two plus years I have done a few rounds of whole30 or shorter “mini rounds” whenever I felt the need to kick start my healthy habits.

    Fast forward to pregnancy with my son I didn’t suffer from anxiety as much, but I really didn’t practice my healthy eating habits either. (I consumed a milkshake a day which for me was triggering digestive issues and pain). Over the past 9 months since Max was born I have been learning how to be a mom to 2 beautiful kids, getting back into my freelance writing and editing, bought a new house and moved in! With all of those wonderful events, I let my eating habits slide out of control. I went from never drinking soda to choosing that first. I usually avoid bread and cakes, but I would find myself overeating or snacking ALL day instead of just making a decent meal.

    I am not blaming myself or saying “woe is me” because I was busy keeping my babies happy and healthy. The truth is that is not enough. My husband always encourages me to get out of the house, write, and just do things that make me happy. I am happy taking care of my little ones, but I want to show them that Mommy is strong. That I treat my body well by eating right and exercising (okayyy, I’m still working on that part) and treating my mind right by reading, studying, and pursuing my passion to write. I want my children to be happy in mind, body, and spirit. To me, this starts with FEELING good. So, I came back around to another round whole30.

    My mom did the January 2017 whole30 with me and it helped to have a team mate. Together, we learned to cook some wonderful new recipes (Looking at you Chicken Chowder, pg 336 from The Whole30 book by Melissa Hartwig). This is an amazing non-scale victory (NSV) because before Whole30 I would have never, ever tried something like chowder and I LOVED it.

    I struggled with this round emotionally. I didn’t realize how much of a hold that my eating habits had over me. There were times over the 30 day period that I cried and wanted to quit because I felt sad. I did realize though that it wasn’t healthy to be ruled my cravings and sugar like that. I wanted to use food to comfort myself and that is exactly what the Whole30 program wants to help you move away from. So I stuck it out. The sense of accomplishment, the NSV’s including less headaches, shinier hair, more confidence, and losing 10 lbs* was worth it.

    The  successful completion of whole30 led me to signing our family up for the Y (shout out to my husband who has been going to the gym almost every day for 7 weeks), starting a planner, meal planning, continuing with a family budget, and making a promise to myself to write more often. I would use the excuse that the kids “need” me, but right now as I type Max is playing with toys at my feet and Sophia is watching an episode of Daniel Tiger. I have to make the time where I can spare it.

    So here it is, last night I was scrolling Facebook and I saw a picture (Me in the white shirt) from a Christmas party. I laughed because I was wearing the same PJ pants. I had to do a side by side because I knew just looking at that first picture there was a huge change from December. The second picture says so much more to me than weight lost. I am standing up taller, I feel prouder, and I know I am healthier than I was before.

    It is not that every day is easy now. There are some days where I will decide that pretzels are an essential food group and I am not going to get out of my pajama, but I’m going to keep trying to better myself. I’m not saying that the Whole30 is for everybody or that everyone needs to change their lifestyle, but as a self-proclaimed “lazy” girl  I want to show my family that you can still enjoy Gilmore Girl marathons and dessert without giving up a strong, healthy lifestyle.

    xo AT

    *The Whole30 program is NOT  a weight loss program, but for someone with  diplegic cerebral palsy  (read: mostly affects my legs) maintaining a healthy weight is essential. This helps me avoid joint pain, problems with walking, and even breathing. I’ve written more about my life with CP here.

    The Quiet Sounds


    It is currently 3:47 a.m. I woke up at 1:15 to nurse Max and just haven’t captured the elusive sleep we all crave. For the better part of the last two hours I have been reading and balancing our budget. Now, I am lying here listening to the quiet sounds as my family sleeps peacefully.

    Sophia is on my left between her Daddy and I. She asks every night to sleep with us and tonight was that night. She told Richie, “Daddy, you and Momma sleep together and I am all alone in my room!” Who can deny that logic? So here we are all tucked into one room. I can hear little tiny snores, bigger snores, and the rustling of my hungry nursling who is about to wake up again to eat (who needs sleep?)

    So, even though I can’t sleep and I’m squished under a toddler while nursing the baby I couldn’t be happier. When the sun comes up life gets crazy.

    I promise myself that I will get to my to-do list AND spend more time playing with the kids instead of worrying about that list. I try to focus on being patient instead of getting frustrated after tripping over every single toy we own, flying through the air like a figure skater, and definitely not sticking the landing. I promise myself I will submit that article and update my blog. Instead, I will probably end up dancing to Kidz Bop (I know all the words to every song now), eating way too many pretzels, and  tossing every toy inside the ottoman and calling it clean.

    After a successful round of Whole30, changing my eating habits, and losing 10 lbs I have gotten back into opening the fridge, sighing, and eating a bagel because I don’t want to cook.  So when I get up I swear I will cook a full breakfast and wash dishes and create a Pinterest worthy art project to do with Sophia. But for now, I will just enjoy the quiet and the cuddles. I will enjoy the sense of peace I have knowing my little family is all together, all in one place.

    And I won’t complain when I am overly tired running on hopes, dreams and pretzels because I am lucky enough to hear quiet sounds (and snores) next to me.