Each month, several magazines come to our house. Strangely, we don’t subscribe to any magazines. The magazines all come addressed to the woman who lived here before us. There are a lot of them. Maybe five or six a month? Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Food, Parents. The craziest part about it is that we’ve lived here for seven years. Who is paying for these subscriptions? It’s certainly not us. Most of the time I scratch out the address and donate the magazines to the local library or hospital.
Sometimes the cover of one of these magazines will catch my eye. This month’s Glamour featured Reese Witherspoon along with the quote― “I don’t do regret.” I like Reese and I was intrigued enough to flip to the article. I sat down and it pulled me right in. She is interviewed by her friend Cheryl Strayed—the writer whose life she portrays in the memoir-turned-movie Wild. She talks about the role and about her own hard-won happiness. It was a great read and I personally related to it very much.
There was one paragraph that struck me particularly:
“I don’t think I realized [in my twenties] that no one else makes you whole. You have to take responsibility for your own happiness. That took me until I was about 31 to know. It wasn’t easy to realize, Oh wait, I am purely responsible [for my life]―no relationship, no children, no nothing is going to make you a happy person. Every day you have to choose to find and cultivate your own happiness.” —Reese Witherspoon
There is so much wisdom in those lines. It’s a lesson that has taken me, too, some thirty years to come around to. And I’m just now getting a tight grasp on it. No one, and no thing, makes a person whole. Yes.
We spend all of our young adulthood chasing—relationships, material things, a career—but one day we realize that none of that will complete us. We are whole just as we are. Sure, there are lovely & wonderful additions to any life, but there is nothing outside of my self that will make me truly happy. Happiness is a choice. Yes.
Every day I must choose to find my own happiness and when I find it, I must cultivate it, like a garden. As I approach my second year as a mother and prepare for the arrival of my second child, I am feeling more like a woman and less like a girl playing house. In this, my thirtieth year, I am experiencing a new evolution. I am settling into who I am, what I want, and what I have to offer. I am learning what happiness really means―what a fragile little butterfly it is, so easily damaged, so easily lost. I alone am responsible for keeping it safe & strong.
Yesterday we had our big day in the city. It was perfect, everything that I’d been hoping for. With M. injured and me being the sole caretaker of him, Roman, the house, etc. most of my days are spent at home — but we’d been planning this outing for a bit and I am so grateful that it happened.
The first thing that I have to point out is how incredibly well-behaved Roman was. I’m not sure if most toddlers are as well-behaved as he is, or if I am just exceptionally lucky, but I’m just so grateful. Traveling about with him was such a pleasure. On top of that, we were doubly-blessed to have nice weather. It was a bit chilly & windy in the morning but it was milder by early afternoon and considering that it’s December in New York — we couldn’t have asked for more.
I described our plan for the day here: A NYC Walking Tour. Things didn’t go exactly as planned — this is real life! But they were just as well, we had the best time and checked off all of the important stuff from our list. If you look at the map of our planned walking tour, in actuality we made it to the midway point which was Bloomingdale’s/Le Train Bleu. By the time we sat down for lunch, my back was really starting to hurt. I’ve just moved into my third, and final, trimester of this pregnancy and I’ve been experiencing lower back & hip pain. It seems to be coming from the added weight/pressure on my sciatic nerve and it worsens with activity.
By the time we finished lunch, I realized that it would be foolish to push things any further so we hailed a cab to take us back to Port Authority to catch our bus. (It was a wise decision as last time I pushed things too far I was unable to walk for an entire night.) We still had an amazing time & saw everything that we really wanted to see the most. Here are a few snaps from our day along with some details of what we did.
It was Roman’s first time in NYC and his first time around skyscrapers and extra-large crowds. He just loves to look at new things & to people watch so he was mesmerized by the hustle & bustle of the city.
We almost decided to forgo Le Train Bleu in favor of Shake Shack, I’ve heard such good things about it & have been dying to try. Ultimately we stuck with our original plan & have no regrets. We’ll get you next time, Shake Shack!
It was virtually impossible to take many tourist-y photographs this trip. The throngs of people everywhere were crazy. This is to be expected on a Sunday, two weeks before Christmas, in NYC. We knew what we were getting ourselves into, but it’s especially important for first-timers to be aware of. If you’re looking for smaller crowds, go in on a weekday.
Despite the crowds, we enjoyed checking out the giant Christmas lights & baubles in Rockefeller Center and of course the beautiful, giant Christmas tree. It’s been years since I made the trip to see the tree and I was absolutely shocked by the enormity of it. You just can’t get a feel from pictures, but that thing is massive, really awe-inspiring.
Jacques Torres was next up on our list and we were dying to try the best hot chocolate in NYC. We looked around for a bit and weren’t able to find it. Someone pointed us to the shops in the concourse level which are below Rockefeller Plaza where the ice skating rink is located. We went down below & still didn’t see it. I was ready to give up, but my traveling companion decided to ask a concourse guard and sure enough she pointed us in the right direction. It’s a well-hidden little gem! But, it was totally worth the hunt. The hot chocolate was really out of this world, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. It tasted more like melted chocolate than like a beverage, but it was smooth enough to be refreshing. We had “The Classic.” Even Roman had his own hot chocolate. They make a kids version of “The Classic” that is cooled down with milk. I put it in his sippy cup and he was in heaven, just like us.
After Rockefeller, we took the short walk over to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Like everything else in the area, it was mobbed. We went inside, lit some candles in the front entryway, and headed back out. The interior, as well as parts of the exterior, are currently under renovation and it was interesting to see the giant cathedral filled up with scaffolding.
Our final stop before lunch was FAO Schwarz, perhaps my favourite stop of all. It was an absolute madhouse in there with a line just to get in the door, but it was so worth it to see Roman’s face light up at the magic of it all. He even got to take home his very own stuffed elephant. I didn’t get any pictures at FAO because it was just too hectic.
Our final stop of the day was Bloomingdale’s, though we weren’t there to shop — we were there to eat! We headed straight up to the sixth floor and after winding through the various departments we found ourselves at the little, hidden train car! It really was something spectacular. A real train car modeled after the dining car of the The Calais-Mediterranée Express, a luxury French night express train. We were pleasantly surprised by the fact that there was no wait. The staff was incredibly helpful (the chef even popped out to say hello!) and the food was delicious. The bread was clearly freshly baked & warm. I had the crab cake which was served with a big bed of greens and pommes frites (french fries) and the most delicious remoulade sauce. Kristyn had a Swiss cheeseburger, and Roman had Penne with butter sauce. We were all exceptionally pleased and left happy & full.
It was an absolutely beautiful day & such a lovely way to ring in the Christmas holiday. I hope you enjoyed tagging along on our little Christmas city adventure.
The spectrum of emotions that I went through while breastfeeding was amazing. Early on, I decided that breastfeeding was the most difficult thing that I’d ever done in my life. For me, the difficulty wasn’t physical. (Roman latched immediately and nursed happily round-the-clock.) The difficulty was emotional. Nursing a newborn is a sacrifice, and a gift, unlike anything else in the world. For what seemed like an eternity, I was the only one that could help him; the only one that could soothe him; the only one that could nourish him. He was entirely dependent on me and no one could help me through it.
Often, during those hazy, sleep-deprived first weeks, I thought that I couldn’t go on. I was tired — mind, body & soul — and I just wanted help. I wanted someone else to be able to help him, to help me. But no one could.
I constantly told myself: Just get through this night. Just get through this day. Just get through this week. I was forever bargaining with myself to hold on a little bit longer. It’s hard to explain exactly why it was so hard, but it was. I suppose that it’s a combination of many things, but mostly — exhaustion, isolation, and hormones. In the early months of exclusively breastfeeding an infant, you are alone. There is no such thing as freedom, not even a tiny glimpse of it.
There were so many times that I wanted to give up. Gratefully, my husband is an enormous breastfeeding advocate and he encouraged me every day and deep into those sleepless nights. If it weren’t for him, I’m not sure that I would have made it. There were many people in my life who encouraged me to: Just give that baby a bottle of formula. But M. kept pushing me to stay true to my goal, even when I absolutely hated him for it.
And then one day, it just got easier. There were always highs and lows. Eventually, there were times when breastfeeding seemed like the easier option. But then, there were many others, when it got hard again — mostly because of society’s perception of it. I found myself nursing him in a hot car or a cold car or struggling to keep a blanket over his head and those times were frustration. But generally, we found a rhythm and it worked.
Once he had started solids and had begin sleeping through the night (around 7 months) things went smoothly. I actually enjoyed nursing him. It was our special time together. It was my gift to him — and his to me. I often thought that I would happily nurse him forever. It brought us so close together, and when he started interacting with the world and other people finally could take care of him, it was still our special thing that no one else could replicate or take away.
I never intended to breastfeed much past one year. Yet, when his one-year birthday came and went, he showed no signs of weaning and I wasn’t even close to being ready emotionally. I talked to family & friends who had come through the process and I was puzzled by their simple replies: You just stop. You wean slowly. And so on. But it didn’t make sense to me, sure Roman wasn’t nursing nearly as much as he used to, but I didn’t see how we could ever let go of those few times a day that he did nurse — especially bedtime!
When I got pregnant in July, Roman was about a year-and-a-half-old. Things stayed the same for a little while, but once hyperemesis gravidarum kicked in, nursing became too much for me. Roman, however, wasn’t ready to let go. Still, I slowly started to cut back. First, I cut out his morning session when he woke up. That was easy enough because there is so much excitement at the start of the day to provide distraction. It was just as easy to cut out mid-day sessions. I realized that a lot of what had been holding me back from weaning was my emotional attachment to breastfeeding. The bedtime sessions were more difficult though — Roman needed (wanted?) to nurse to fall asleep.
It was during M.’s hospital stay that Roman finally gave up his bedtime sessions. I can’t be sure what exactly caused it, but I think maybe I dried up. There was a tremendous amount of physical and emotional stress on my body from driving back & forth to the hospital every day, managing the house alone, being pregnant, and so on. And one night, Roman just didn’t want to nurse. We sat down in the rocking chair next to his crib as usual, but when I went to nurse him he pulled away. I was surprised, but I put him in his crib, and just like that, he fell asleep and it was over.
I cried writing that last sentence. I thought I was passed the emotional tear of it. In fact, I waited two months to write this post. But I don’t think that I ever will be passed it completely. It’s a terribly difficult thing to let go of; something so special, pure, and true; a tremendous piece of our lives together & of my journey as a mother. Even in the hardest times, I knew that I would miss it someday — and I already do.
Motherhood is the hardest thing. We raise our babies up, only to let them go — piece by piece, until they’re on their own. What a curse. What a blessing. ♥
The 52 Week Project – A portrait of my son, once a week, for one year.
49/52 — A shot that I grabbed after Roman had his picture taken with Santa. He was so very excited to see that jolly, old, fat man. So excited that when I put him down, he ran full steam ahead right for Santa, only to lose his footing and trip face-first toward the ground. Gratefully his little reflexes were on point and he broke the fall with his hands. He cried for a minute — a mixture of excitement & shock, I’m sure — and then he was ready to get on Santa’s lap.
It was difficult for the photographer (not me) to capture a photograph of him this year because he did not want to look away from Santa & toward the camera for even a moment. Very sweet, indeed. I’m not sure what he was looking at so excitedly in this particular shot. It was after Santa had left the building, so most likely it was one of his cousins who had joined us for pictures that morning.
You can also see his new haircut here which I’m obsessed with. Short on the sides and long on top — it’s very 1950’s and I think he looks so handsome. I just kiss those cheeks all day — nothing new there.
Throughout the year, bloggers (myself included) often share gift guides. I tend to like these guides because they give me ideas; introduce me to new brands & products; and frankly, I’m a voyeur — I love to see what other people are buying. However, gift guides often give me pause for a couple of reasons. First, does the blogger only want me to buy an item because she is going to make a commission off of the sale? And second, in the age of Pinterest & Etsy, just because a blogger “loves” an item doesn’t mean that she has ever actually used it or even seen it in-person.
That said, I’ve started a new series called, Things We Love (and USE). The emphasis being that these are things that we both love and actually use on a regular basis. Today, I’m going to share a few things that I’ve discovered in the past year that have made our lives a little bit more beautiful, easier, and comfier.
1. Revlon Top Speed Nail Polish. I’ve finally started to make my goal of self-care a reality. It only took me about two years, but I’ve arrived. This week, I got my first “real” haircut in years. (And by “real” I mean not a $9.99-cut-with-coupon like I usually get.) I’ve also started giving myself manicures again. It’s a bit of an impossible task with a toddler, but I’ve found a magic formula.
About a year ago, my mom introduced me to Revlon Top Speed. It’s fantastic as far as nail polishes go. It has a smooth, beautiful finish and it really does dry quickly. My favourite shade is Stormy. It’s a beautiful stone-colour and I wear it year-round. The other shade that I picked up recently is Cherry. It’s a deep, sexy red and it’s perfect for the holidays.
I’ve found that many of the “quick dry” nail polishes either don’t actually dry quickly or have a terrible finish. Revlon Top Speed is brilliant in both areas.
2. Nutra Nail Speed Dry. I’ve been finishing my manicures with Nutra Nail Speed Dry Top Coat for years. It’s the second ingredient in my “magic mommy manicure.” It provides a smooth, clear coat finish & it really dries quickly.
Using the two products I’ve mentioned here, I can honestly give myself a beautiful manicure while Roman is in the bath and it’s dry by the time he gets out! If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. You can get both of these products on Amazon and in most pharmacies/groceries.
3. Mrs. Meyers Hand Soap. This was a discovery that I made on my own and I’m not ashamed to admit that it was the packaging that drew me in. I fell in love with the simple, classic design and I was sold after reading the label. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap (Lavender Scent) contains a special recipe of aloe vera gel, olive oil and a blend of natural essential oils.
It’s paraben free, made in the USA, and ingredients are at least 98% naturally derived. Best of all it delivers a serious clean but it doesn’t dry you out at all. I have extremely dry skin and I USE THIS STUFF IN THE SHOWER AS A BODY WASH. I have to emphasis how much it blows my mind that I can use this stuff as a body wash. Almost every body wash I’ve tried over the years has either not left me feeling clean or has dried my skin out completely. This product is the complete opposite and it’s a hand soap. Another benefit is that a little bit goes a long way. I’m finally nearing the end of my first bottle and I’ll be purchasing the refill soon.
Mrs. Meyers products are available in a bunch of scents. I also purchased the lemon verbena multi-surface cleaner, but I am completely partial to all things lavender. I’m planning to buy the entire line of body products & household cleaners as I run out of my existing supplies. I can’t say enough good things about this stuff. You can purchase Mrs. Meyers products on Amazon, on the company website, in Target, and in many groceries.
4. Carhartt Winter Coat. Moving onto toddler loves, let’s talk about this Carhartt coat. I bought it for Roman last winter but it was too big. Now, anybody who works in a blue-collar trade knows all about Carhartt and Carhartt quality. It’s second-to-none. As the daughter of a bricklayer and the wife of a carpenter, I’ve seen the men in my life wearing Carhartt forever. When I realized that they made stuff for babies and toddlers, I was intrigued — but would the outstanding quality be the same?
I took the leap and ordered Roman the Carhartt Little Boys’ Active Jacket. I ordered a size 2T in the chocolate brown colour. I was blown away by the product. It’s exactly like the adult version, both in appearance and in quality. Roman has been wearing his coat all winter so far and it holds up to wear & tear like nothing else. Just like his father’s and grandfather’s Carhartt’s, I believe it will last for years — unfortunately, he will probably outgrow it long before it’s ready to be discarded. I am hoping that I can get one more winter out of it since he’s still got some wiggle room in there.
The only drawback that I’ve found is that the coat is stiff, but that’s signature quality. The outer material is made to hold up to all kinds of elements and it does, but the stiffness is the trade off. It doesn’t seem to bother Roman at all.
Roman has a lot of hats but none come close to this one in terms of quality and warmth. I’ve found a lot of his other hats to be flimsy and to lose their shape in the washer/dryer. This one stays like-new and keeps its shape no matter how much I wash it — once again, true Carhartt quality. It fits him perfectly but I can also see that it will grow with him. I genuinely love this hat, especially for our harsh Northeastern winters.
6. Aveeno Baby Bath. I’ve been a Burt’s Bees girl all my life and I’ve used Burts Bees Baby products on Roman since birth. I love the company and its products, but we’ve got some ongoing skin issues with Roman. He has incredibly sensitive skin to begin with and now with the cold, dry winter air, I’m seeing increased irritation.
I’ve been wanting to try something new and recently stumbled on Aveeno Baby Calming Comfort Bath, Lavender & Vanilla. We’ve only used it a few times so far but I’ve already found several reasons to love it. First, the formula really bubbles. We’ve tried some other baby bath products that don’t foam up nicely and what’s a baby bath without bubbles? Second, I love the scent! (Give me all the lavender.) Finally, and most importantly, I’ve already seen an improvement in Roman’s skin since we’ve started using it. This could be coincidence since it’s only been a few times so far, but I’m optimistic and I’ll update again about this product when we’ve been using it for awhile longer.
That’s it for this first round of Things We Love and USE. Feel free to leave a comment if you enjoyed this post or to share your own favorite products of the moment.
New York City at Christmastime is one of the most magical places in the world. When I was younger, my family used to make an annual trip in to see the tree at Rockefeller Center & visit the beautiful stops along Fifth Avenue — like FAO Schwartz, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and the holiday window displays. It’s been a few years since I’ve made the trip, but I’m really excited to be taking Roman in this coming weekend. It might not be practical to do it next year with two littles, but this year should be perfect as Roman still loves the stroller. Here’s a sneak peek at our plans for the day.
When I go into the city, I take the bus from New Jersey into Port Authority. I’m not a city driver and the bus ride from my local shopping mall is quick & non-stop. Arriving to or parking in Port Authority is convenient for this walking tour because it’s in the heart of midtown.
(Click on the map to make it larger.)
The first stop on our tour will be Jacques Torres for a steaming cup of the best hot chocolate in NYC.
We’ll make a quick stop to check out the window display at Saks Fifth Avenue. The holiday window displays in NYC’s classic department-stores are a must-see. (All of the window displays on our walking tour are marked with a reindeer. For a walking map that features only the window displays, check out this NYC Holiday Windows Walking Tour Map.)
After Saks, we’ll walk up to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s such a gorgeous place & it’s a family tradition to go in & light a candle for our loved ones passed.
Next, we’ll stroll past the window display at Bergdorf Goodman and then we’ll head to one of my favourite places in the world — the FAO Schwartz toy store. Eventually I’ll have to be dragged out kicking & screaming along with the other kiddos.
We’ll swing over to Barney’s & then Bloomingdale’s to check out their window displays. Once at Bloomingdale’s we’ll head in for lunch. Wait, what? Bloomie’s for lunch? Why, yes! Bloomingdale’s is home to a secret restaurant tucked away inside of an old train car — Le Train Bleu! Roman loves trains so it should be a real treat.
After lunch, we’ll walk along Madison Avenue and back toward Fifth Avenue where we’ll check out the displays at Saks and Lord & Taylor. Then we’ll make our way to Le Carrousel inside of Bryant Park. Depending on whether or not Roman is still awake by this point, we may hop on for a spin, otherwise a quick picture will do.
Finally, we’ll take a quick walk through the hustle & bustle of Times Square and then we’ll head back to Port Authority to catch our bus home.
I’m not quite sure how long this walking tour will take. There’s a lot of factors to consider, but I’ll update this post later with the actual time. The Google map says that our actual walking time will be an hour and a half which sounds about right to me. With all of the stops, I estimate we’ll be touring around for three to four hours. However, we may cut off the last few stops depending on how Roman is feeling and how my tired, pregnant body is holding up.
Talk about a shock! Since M. is still unable to leave the house, I went to my twenty-week scan appointment solo. The thing is that we didn’t even think the scan was going to be such a big deal because we were convinced I was having a boy. I’d secretly hoped for a girl, and I even had this little “feeling” that it was a girl — but both of those things were true the first time around, too. And just like the first time around, M. was certain that it was a boy. So I guess I just gave in to his certainty and prepared myself for a little brother for Roman. I was excited about a boy, too. I mean, I would duplicate Roman ten times over if I could — they just don’t come sweeter than him! Plus, there was the whole element of convenience. We have everything that we could possibly need for another little boy & I know how to take care of a boy. I’d even spent most of my time thinking about boy names & had settled on a strong contender.
So when the tech told me that it was a girl — I didn’t believe her. No, really. I didn’t believe her and questioned her over & over while picking my jaw up off of my chest. In fact, I had to go back for a second scan a week later because baby girl wouldn’t flip over and let the tech get all of the necessary shots — and I made the second tech re-confirm the gender for me because I still couldn’t believe it. Sure enough the second tech said she’s still a girl and took some detailed shots of her girly parts to make me a believer!
I guess I’ve finally accepted it and I’m just thrilled. My lifelong dreams of little flower crowns & pink dresses & jelly sandals will come to fruition after all. I have to pinch myself a few times a day as a reminder that, yes, I am going to have a little girl of my very own. I just feel so blessed, it’s beyond words. My cup runneth over. ♥
The 52 Week Project – A portrait of my son, once a week, for one year.
48/52 — Playing with “Joey the Elf” before breakfast. See that scratch beside his right eye? He fell at his cousin’s birthday party over the weekend and got scratched on a raised tile. Luckily he closed his eye just in time & the scratch only extends up onto his eyelid and didn’t affect his actual eye. He was a trooper and cried for just a minute — more out of shock than pain — but I was shaken up for the rest of the party. I know that these things are inevitable, but they don’t get any easier.
In happier news, it’s December and we started our advent calendar this morning! This weekend Roman will have his picture taken with Santa and we can’t wait to see how that goes! He’s absolutely enamored with jolly, old Saint Nick and looks for him everywhere. He calls him “Ho Ho” and it’s the sweetest thing.
I hope that you and yours have had a beautiful Thanksgiving celebration today. We got a foot of snow overnight and woke to a winter wonderland outside. Since my husband is still unable to leave the house, my mother cooked us a big dinner with all of the fixings. My father came up this morning to shovel us out & deliver our meal. As I unloaded all of the food that was so lovingly prepared for us, I was overwhelmed with gratitude & began to cry. Today I am reminded just how deeply blessed I truly am.
I’ve spent the past few days keeping our wood burning stove loaded with wood and putting out some Christmas decorations. We may also be singing Jingle Bells & Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer about once an hour, too. What can I say? I just love the holidays. Things have been and will be a little unconventional this year (see our tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree?) but as long as there is family & love, nothing else really matters.
Thank you for being here with me, dear friends. Today & always.
“I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” –Jeffrey McDaniel
The trees are bare. The warm autumn blaze has passed. The landscape is cold and barren. Now it is up to us to make it warm with sparkling Christmas lights, red ribbons, Santa Claus & reindeer. Watching Christmas decorations go up is one of my favourite things. When I pass through the little towns and see the holiday lights going up my heart fills with joy.
Like the trees outside, I — too — am working on letting things go. I’ve had a heavy heart for so long, and now, as I look back on the last few years, I accept that it’s been more than just a passing phase. There’s been a consistent sadness, a continual loss of myself. If I’m very honest, it began shortly after I got married. I lost pieces of myself in becoming a wife. It waxed and waned. Then I became a mother. I lost pieces of myself in becoming a mother.
It hurts to say these things. It hurts to think these things, even. But what I realize is that I have a lot of soul work to do. It’s funny (depressing?) because I came to this conclusion a year ago, yet so little has changed. My New Year resolution was to focus on me. But, you know how these things go. Life got in the way.
Even still, I know that things are exactly as they are meant to be. If I am here now, I am meant to be here now. There are seasons of life — and this season (this three-year season) has been one of selflessness. Yes, I lost (lose) pieces of myself in being a wife and a mother — but for me — that’s what being a wife and a mother means. In the spring, when our new baby joins our little family, I will lose more of myself. This sacrifice is beyond worth it as I’ve already learned. Love is the hardest kind of work; but it is also life’s sweetest gift.
I am working on coming to a place of acceptance of what is, while remembering also what could be. It’s my habit to become deeply engrossed in whatever is in front of me — so much so that I often cannot “see the forest through the trees.”
Like the trees outside, I — too — am working on letting things go. Recently I saw a beautiful photograph of a mother practicing yoga. Below the image she wrote, “Take care of yourself so that you may take care of others.” It touched me deeply. This post is my long and winding way of getting to that sentiment, I suppose.
The photographs in this post were taken on Sunday afternoon. We had a couple of unseasonably warm days and it was a joy to be outside without having to bundle up in our big winter coats. That handsome boy on the swing set is my nephew, Brian Lee. It’s mind-blowing how big & handsome he has already grown to be. My goodness, how the years fly by.