Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Highlight Reel

2014 has been full of change for our little family of four (yes, four. We have had one more child since the last time I updated this blog. I am just a little behind.). And during the Christmas season we received several holiday letters from friends and family and really enjoyed reading them. I thought I would do a digital version here so that in a few weeks when we are off our holiday break and back to running around like crazy people, I can remember what happened.

Family photo during a fun little summer trip to Durango, CO.

A New Old House
The biggest change this year was we sold our beloved brick bungalow downtown and moved to the 'burbs. I can't believe it either. We adored our 100+ year old Craftsman bungalow and our dear neighbors more than words but realized that we had officially outgrown the house and were looking for our next house adventure. We purchased that house when we were newlyweds, just out of college. We had absolutely no idea what we were in for when we decided to buy the completely run-down house and "fix it up," which is probably the only way to do that sort of thing. In my mind, "fixing it up" included dusting off the drapes, putting on a fresh coat of paint and opening the windows so Cinderella's darling bird friends could fly in, sashes and ribbons in-beak. That wasn't exactly how it works, though, no matter how many remodeling shows you watch on HGTV. Twelve years and countless trips to Home Depot later, the formerly sad little house was our happy home we bittersweetly passed along to a new family.

Our last photo on our beloved front porch, taken while we were moving out. :'(

We (again) bought a new-to-us, sad house but this time with killer views. We gave up our walkable, diverse downtown 'hood for a quiet suburban neighborhood. We bought the worst house on the street and have been working hard to make it less of an embarrassment to our very nice neighbors. This neighborhood is the exact opposite of where we lived before but we are learning to love it.

The view from our new back yard. Not too shabby.

We bought a 1960s home, with vaulted ceilings and a giant beam that runs through the living room. It came with acres of old, dingy carpet, dirty cottage cheese ceilings and an entire civilization of dead rodents under the roof (their corpses have since been removed, thankfully). We have been in the house almost six months (what?!) and in that time have done some pretty serious work, including removing three huge dumpsters of yard waste (nobody had even mowed the lawn here for years), took out the ceiling on the main floor and replaced it, removed all of the old floor and most of the subfloor, installed hard woods throughout, removed a wall on the main floor, removed all of the former kitchen and put in a new one, installed a new furnace and A/C unit and much, much more! I will hopefully be posting more about the house renovation process. Z has been a busy, busy man. We have a lot more to do and are looking forward to making lots more memories in our new place, the house is already so much happier to have a family who is taking care of it, I can tell.

Houston, we have a Kindergartener!
Anthony started Kindergarten this year at the elementary school that is just a five-minute walk from our new house's front door to his classroom. It is very convenient for those days we're running late (which is every day, just for the record). He loves his class and thinks his school has an awesome playground, which is very important, you know. Anthony is the tallest kid in his class by more than one head and firmly believes it's because he loves to eat vegetables. He may have a point. We're all glad that he has made some great new friends in our neighborhood.

The daily walks to and from school are full of excitement: including the spotting of this giant slug. 

I Started Business School
In August, I decided life wasn't busy enough with two little boys, a busy job and everything else and decided to go to grad school to get my MBA in an executive program. Although it is so hard, (I had a moment the night before my corporate financial reporting class final where I thought seriously that if I had the choice to take my final or go through childbirth I would have chosen childbirth. Not a good sign.), I really am enjoying it. My classmates are awesome--all very smart and accomplished. I am learning so much from them. I am one of six women in the program of 70 people and am lucky enough to have one of my close friends in the program with me. I am also very lucky to have the best husband in this universe who has picked up my slack at home so I can get through school.

Z is Coaching
In addition to taking care of the boys all day and renovating our house, Z is the head coach of a local Catholic high school's baseball team. He is doing a great job and loves working with the players and their families. It's been a nice way for him to share his love and knowledge of the game that has meant a lot to him. The kids and I love going to the games, cheering on the team and eating lots of baseball snacks.

My Job Continues to be Amazing
I have the best job of all time. I am on my third year of working for an incredible nonprofit that helps children's hospitals and I get to meet dozens of kids and their families each year who are so beyond inspiring it blows my mind. Because of some of our awareness initiatives I was able to do some pretty memorable things this year, one highlight included another successful White House event where I got to present a gift to the First Lady. My job has taught me the importance of team work, solid planning and perspective.

Much to be Thankful For
This year we are very thankful for all of the things I mentioned above and especially to have celebrated the first birthday of our little Robby, he has a huge personality and is such a joy. A noisy, always-dirty, loves-to-climb-on and jump-off-everything joy. He has started 'talking' a lot recently and makes us laugh so hard every single day. He adores his big brother, who adores him right back. He is obsessed and so gentle with our dog, Sydney, calling her "Ishi." He has big brown eyes and the smooshiest cheeks that are perfect for kissing hundreds of times of a day.

As the second child, Robby enjoys only the finest toys, including dog chew bones.


We had a traumatic incident in April and are very thankful for the way it turned out. It was a weekday morning, Anthony had a fever and was resting on the couch, watching TV. He acted totally fine other than the fever. I left for work (which was then just a five-minute drive) and Z was home with the boys. Soon after I arrived at work, I had a panicked call from Z asking me to come home right away. Anthony was unconscious and not breathing. It was terrifying, but Z (Father of the Year. Seriously!) had fortunately stopped to check on Anthony, who was then sleeping on the couch, before getting in the shower.

Unknown to Z, Anthony had experienced a febrile seizure (it was the first time he had ever had one, we have since learned these are brought on by fever and are not uncommon in kids under age seven, these seizures are often 'silent'--not necessarily the kind of violent movements you might expect) and his head had turned so his face was somewhat pushed into our leather couch. He couldn't breathe and was unconscious when Z checked on him. Z immediately started CPR, doing chest compressions for some time before he was able to reach his phone and call 911. Anthony started breathing after a couple of minutes and was semi-alert when the paramedics arrived. I got home just after the paramedics and Anthony and I rode to the hospital together in the ambulance. It was an unusual moment, as I spend all day every day working on behalf of children's hospitals--it was surreal to be on the patient side. Thankfully Anthony had no complications from the ordeal, although for years we will have to constantly monitor him when he has a fever.

I am telling you this story as a reminder to take a CPR class if you haven't recently. It is so easy for us to think nothing would ever happen to us or our family/friends. I can tell you I worry about my kids nonstop but I had never felt like they were more safe than that day leaving for work, knowing my child was safely resting on our sofa. And that's when we had our emergency, when we least expected it.

It is also easy to think you would just call 911 if you ever needed help. It is so important to immediately know what to do, time is not on your side in an emergency and many of us don't always know where we last put our cell phone--you don't want to be running around searching for your phone (and praying for good cell reception) because you're not sure what you need to do.

I am so grateful my amazing husband was paying such close attention and was able to think quickly to save our son's life. Did I mention you should take a CPR class?

That was one of many lessons we learned in 2014. What an incredible year for our family.

I hope 2015 is absolutely wonderful to you.