Weekend Celebration

Such a great Sunday! Parker and I spent the day with friends, laughing and playing at the Liberty Science center before having lunch together in Hoboken. It was a treat to spend the day with just my big guy but it was even more incredible watching him spend time with a couple of his oldest friends.

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Parker was so thankful to be with two kids he’s been hanging out with since he was three but when we left NJ, I said, “We’re back on the island!” and he replied “I’d rather be back on the shore.” We miss these guys so much!

We planned the day to celebrate Skylar’s 9th birthday and as I watched the kids pick up right where they left off, I realized that we’ve been celebrating birthdays together since they were 4! Love these kids.

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I’m so thankful for such great friends! Happy Birthday Skylar!

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2013 in Review

2013 was seriously the fastest year of my life. It wasn’t the best year but it was certainly better than last which is really all you can hope for. I know I’m a few days late but I thought it would be fun to go through my ten gazillion photos from this year and write a recap of all of the exciting things we experienced throughout 2013. We had lots of ups and downs, laughs and cries and some once in a lifetime adventures that I hope we never forget. Like,

Brazos Bend National Park with aunt Lisa and Cindy and lots of wild alligators… 

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We took the ferry to Galveston Island…

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Parker had his first experience in batting cages which led him to fall in love with baseball…

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We surprised the boys with a basketball hoop and then played basketball everyday for the whole month of February…

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I hosted a Valentine’s Day party as the room mom of Parker’s 2nd grade class…

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Theo celebrated Rodeo Day (the first day of the Houston Rodeo) at Preschool and rocked his pants Texas style (always)…

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and then we went to the Houston Rodeo which is definitely one of my favorite times from 2013 (writing this makes me miss Texas!)…

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We went strawberry picking in March…

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The boys and I went to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences…

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I registered for the San Antonio half marathon but found out we’d be moving to NY before the race so I ran the 13.1 miles on my own anyway…

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Ruby turned one…

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and then a few days later we packed up and moved to New York…

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and while we were on the road we stopped at my aunt’s house in South Carolina and celebrated Theo’s 5th Birthday…

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and then celebrated Easter with more family in Ohio…

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The boys played their first season of little league…

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Josh surprised me with a Mother’s Day weekend trip to Cape May…

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We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge with my sister…

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And Josh and I snuck away for a date at Citi Field…

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Josh had a little too much fun at a Coast Guard celebration in Cape May…

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We spent lots of days at the Jersey Shore…

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We went to Coney Island and watched Joey Chestnut win the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest on the 4th of July…

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One of my blog posts was read by thousands of people and cross posted on The Huffington Post…

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We took the boys back to Westhampton Beach to see our first home away from Ohio…

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We all went to the All Star Fan Fest in Manhattan…

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And met up with some friends at Liberty Science Center…

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We painted. and painted. and painted…

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Josh was selected to help carry the flag at the MLB All Star Game…

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Where he got to meet and chat with Bryce Harper, Erin Andrews and Jason Grilli…

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We took a weekend trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains and visited Charlottesville and Monticello…

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Josh turned 30 and we celebrated with friends in NYC…

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We took the kids to our first Yankees game and boo’d ARod (silently)…

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We went to Cape May to celebrate a sweet friend’s 5th birthday…

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My blog was featured in Exit Zero magazine in Cape May…

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Josh made a cameo on the Today Show…

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Parker completed his first food challenge when he ate an entire quarter pound burger and fries…

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We spent Labor Day weekend in Ohio and took the kids to the Canfield Fair…

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We spent a day at Sesame Place…

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Theo started Kindergarten and Parker started 3rd grade…

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Josh and Parker saw the lights to Heaven on September 11th…

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We ended baseball season with one last Mets game…

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We took a day trip to Mystic, CT and Westerly, RI…

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Parker turned 8 and we celebrated very low key with pizza and ice cream cake…

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Theo lost his first tooth…

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And his second…

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We went apple picking in Princeton with some friends…

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The Pirates made it to the playoffs…

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We went trick or treating with old friends on the Washington Street Mall in Cape May…

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We celebrated Halloween at home with fun treats, crafts, movies, school parades and trick or treating around the neighborhood…

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I put up my Christmas tree WAY too early…

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The boys took a dare and streaked in the snow at uncle Craig’s house…

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Ruby’s hair grew long enough for a pony tail…

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We went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then made Thanksgiving dinner together for just the 5 of us…

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We kicked off December with a day in the city with some friends…

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Parker had his first school newspaper contribution published…

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and learned how to schmooze…

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We skipped school and went to Macy’s to visit Santa…

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We spent Christmas in Ohio where Parker and I landed ourselves in the ER on Christmas morning…

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We celebrated my 28th birthday with my little sister…

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I walked passed Ruby’s room and finally really realized that we’re living with a little lady now…

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And we rang in the new year with some sushi, ice cream, games and movies.

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This way too long post with a gajillion photos still only shows parts of our year. We had lots of visits with family, made new friends and got caught up with old, went through phases and tantrums and moody days, hit milestones and entered new stages but the year is over and it’s time to begin a new! Bring on 2014 – Happy New Year!

“I’m just going to act a little differently”

Before my boy started third grade I was a little nervous about this year. Aside from the whole NYC public schools thing, my memories of third grade are basically the equivalent of pre hell pre middle school. For me, third grade was when boys became kinda interesting, girls became mean and being “cool” was something that was lingering closer and closer to the front of my mind. It’s the first year I have memories of feeling insecure and embarrassed. But things for Parker are much different than they were for me and, obviously, he’s a boy so I’m always hoping he’ll skip most of the tween and pre teen drama that I experienced. Honestly, until today, my biggest fear for this year was that some little asshole tells him there’s no Santa. But I knew something bigger was up when he couldn’t wait to talk to me about his day.

Usually, out of habit and routine, I pick the boys up, load everyone and everything into the van and then ask them, “What in your day was good, bad and special.” It’s an easy conversation starter and a way to avoid the “nothing” answer most kids give when their parents ask what they did at school. Today, however, Parker couldn’t even wait to get into the van before he asked me, “You know how bad kids usually have a lot of friends?” Of course I replied that I didn’t know that and asked him why he thought that was true. He went on to say that the kid in his class who misbehaves most is also the most popular kid since he acts crazy and draws a lot of attention to himself. He continued on by saying that even though he doesn’t want to be a bad kid, “I’m just going to act a little differently.” Immediately, my heart broke as I saw a glimpse of insecurity within a person who I believe is perfect. I kept my cool though and asked him what he planned to do differently. I added that I was just curious because I love who he is now so much, that I was a little worried about him changing. Luckily, he quickly reminded me that he’s just a 7 year old trying to figure his way through childhood as he asked if it would be okay that he didn’t zip up his jacket anymore.

It’s funny and adorable what kids think makes a difference in their “cool factor” but it’s also a little scary. I don’t want Parker to worry about being popular or cool and I definitely don’t want him to think he needs to change anything about himself to achieve it, but I know it’s a normal part of growing up and I’d rather he continue to talk to me about whatever he’s feeling. I told him of course he didn’t have to zip up his jacket if it made him uncomfortable but, just to make sure it wasn’t an issue where he was feeling lonely or without friends, I asked him if he was making new friends and if his days were going any better than last year. Happily he said yes and that they were so I continued on to ask him if he meant that he’d like to try to be a little bit “cooler.” He said that was exactly what he meant so I reassured him that I understood but that I think he’s really, really cool already. Theo had my back and cut me off so he could blurt out, “Yeah Parker! I can’t even do half of the cool things you do. You are like, super cool!” I also reminded Parker that good friends don’t care if you’re cool or not so while it’s okay to change up your style a little if it makes you feel better, you shouldn’t befriend someone who only appreciates you if you wear your jacket unzipped.

And with that, all of my worldy parenting wisdom is spent. I don’t know how the hell I’m going to handle the next 10+ years when all I want to do is cry and squeeze my kid when he asks if he can unzip his jacket. Anyone have the secret to parenting yet?

Useful advice, round two.


Pass on some useful advice or information you learned and always remembered.

 

I feel like a couple of these prompts are redundancies from Blog Every Day in May so rather than write an entirely new post, I’m just going to link back to the piece of advice that I gave a few months ago. It also happens to be one of my favorite posts I’ve written and one in particular that I got a lot of great feedback from. So my piece of advice? 

Marry Your Best Friend. 

Weekend Recap.

As usual the weekend flew by way too quickly as we moved from one thing to the next.

A few weeks ago Parker said, “We haven’t done any family things this summer.” (yeah. I laughed too) and when I asked him what “family things” were, since apparently family things don’t include baseball games, the beach, museums, weekend trips, etc., and his response was bowling or swimming at a pool. So Friday we took the kids to the pool at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn but not before driving into DUMBO to grab some food from the Korilla BBQ truck. Josh and I love The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network and Korilla was our favorite a couple seasons ago. As to be expected, it was fantastic. We headed to the pool then and had a blast for a few hours as the kids swam and played in the water. Parker talked me into allowing him to go off of the dive, into 12 ft deep water, completely by himself without anyone waiting for him for the first time. Of course he swam great and as soon as he reached the side where I was standing, he blurted out “I told you I could do it!” before he even took a breath.

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Saturday we woke up and left the island before 8 am for Cape May. Our dear friend was having a birthday party to celebrate her daughter’s 5th birthday and we were thrilled to be able to be there this year. The party was a “Teen Beach Movie” theme so there were water games, leis, and gorgeous hibiscus cupcakes made by our amazing baker friend, Becky. It felt so nice (and weird – it still feels weird to be there but not be home) to be back in our old neighborhood hanging out with all of the old people. Constantly having to leave your friends is so hard but getting back together and watching the kids pick up exactly where they left off like they just played together yesterday is so awesome. Even though our babies don’t always get to live by each other they have made lifelong friends and so have we.

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Sunday was the beginning of the end of summer – school shopping. We headed upstate to some outlets and spent the day picking out boring school uniform pieces and making up for it with lots of cute baby girl clothes. On our way home my sweet husband, who plays along with all of my shenanigans, took a detour into Franklin Lakes so I could check out the neighborhood of my very favorite Jersey Housewives :). The town is just completely beautiful and I have to assume that Teresa Guidice is an outcast with in the community. We headed home after picking up some groceries and with that the weekend was over faster than it began. Next weekend we have a little surprise planned for the kids so we’re already looking forward to it!

Birthday Weekend!

What a great weekend! Friday started off with the arrival of our friends Gerard and Chelsea from back home. They came to spend the weekend and celebrate with us the big day – Josh’s 30th birthday! We took the kids and headed into Manhattan for a late lunch and then came back to the house to get ready for a night out sans children! We put the kids to bed, gave the sitter the rundown and were on our way to the Brooklyn Brewery.
Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 8.18.48 AMThe beer was excellent and the atmosphere was cool but we were definitely out of place amongst all of the hipsters. A friend of mine had joked that we needed to wear our flannel and skinny jeans to fit in and she was right – so after a couple of beers we decided to leave and grab a late dinner back in Manhattan. Earlier at lunch, we had eaten outside at a pizza bar on Stone Street and were all drooling over these fries we saw from another restaurant. Seven hours later and we were still thinking about those fries so we headed back to Stone Street and made our way to The Growler. photo IMG_5892_zps209d0add.jpgThis place was fantastic! We got a table, ordered a few more beers and had a great meal. The atmosphere was much more our style and though it was a low key restaurant/bar, there was a dj for the night which made it a little more upbeat. After dinner and some laughs over our inability to take a good picture we bought Josh a birthday cupcake from the ferry terminal and called it a night.

Saturday was a beach day. We headed to our usual spot on the Jersey Shore and spent hours playing in the water, sand and surf. photo IMG_5935_zpscff80e83.jpg photo IMG_5951_zps35a1228b.jpg photo IMG_6023_zps581316a5.jpg photo IMG_5961_zps4bcb9c9b.jpg photo IMG_6014_zpscd017225.jpg photo IMG_5974_zps8b287a06.jpg photo IMG_6008_zps0398e5a9.jpg photo IMG_6018_zps10d3c7e3.jpg photo IMG_6020_zps359c49b2.jpg photo IMG_6022_zps9d90d435.jpg photo IMG_5995_zps79005abb.jpgWe asked a man to take our picture and this is as good as we got. Not a good picture but a great day!  photo IMG_6033_zps1f3718ad.jpgOur friends were leaving Sunday but before they headed back to Ohio we wanted to squeeze in one more day of fun so we left the house before noon and made our way to the famous Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. Josh, the kids and I have been to the original before (now called Juliana’s) but never to the one that’s rated the best pizza in NYC (and one of the top five in the US!) so we waited in the 30 minute line outside until it was our turn for lunch. The pizza was delicious but I have to say, definitely not the best in NYC. photo IMG_6075_zpsf0ed7b62.jpg photo IMG_6087_zpsd31a12e0.jpgAfter lunch we walked the Brooklyn bridge, took the the train to Times Square and made our routine visit to the M&M store. photo IMG_6098_zpsb14f1d12.jpg photo IMG_6110_zps3aeaeebe.jpgWe didn’t have much time to spend since Gerard and Chelsea had to get on the road so we called it a day and said our goodbyes. Though it’s really no fun when we have to say goodbye to our friends and family, I’m so glad we had this weekend together and I can’t wait to do it again. And one last happy birthday wish for my studly husband. I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as the kids and I did. After all, “you only turn 30 once!”

 

 

 

That time The Huffington Post featured my blog

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An Instagram post from an awesomely crazy friend.

Whew. I am seriously blown away by the response that I got after I wrote the post 4 misconceptions about being a military family. When I wrote the post, my goal was to explain a side of our lifestyle that most people don’t understand, or at least don’t think about. After I published it on Facebook, friends (mostly other military friends) immediately started liking it and commenting on how it hit home for them. I was thrilled with the positive reviews I was getting from them. Several friends went on to share the post on their page and eventually it was shared on the Coast Guard Wives Facebook page too. I continued to get great feedback from other spouses all across the country who related to what I had written. It felt really, really nice to reach so many people and to receive such a positive response.

I was shocked the next day when I saw that within the course of 24 hours, my blog had been viewed over 4,000 times and the number was still growing. Normally, I get 60-70 views a day. Thousands of people that I don’t even know were reading my post and praising it. It felt awesome.

Midway through the day my phone jingled, letting me know I had a new email. I opened the email, which was sent from Jimmy Soni, and read what I thought must be a joke. Either that or I was confused with what he was saying. It said that he really enjoyed my post on military families and was wondering if I would be open to them cross-posting it. To be honest, I had no idea who Jimmy Soni was, so after reading the email two more times, I finally noticed the signature at the bottom of  my phone.

Jimmy Soni

Managing Editor

The Huffington Post Media Group

And at that point I said, “Holy shit”, which is not something I typically say and probably the cause for Josh’s worried look. Of course he wanted to know what was going on but I made him Google Jimmy Soni first. I wanted to make sure this wasn’t just someone screwing around. After discovering that he was, in fact, an editor at The Huffington Post I told Josh what the email said but I continued to doubt that The Huffington Post really wanted to feature my blog. To begin with, I couldn’t even imagine how they would have seen it. Yes, 4,000 views is a lot for me but most blogs that I read have that many followers so I know it’s not big league. I also still really felt like this was probably a joke. I asked Josh if someone could make up an email address from @huffingtonpost.com to which he replied no, and then checked The Huffington Post contact website just to reassure me. It wasn’t a joke. They had really read, and liked, my blog post. I emailed Jimmy back and told him that I was shocked that they’d be interested and I’d love to share it further but I had a few questions about what “cross-posting” meant. Basically, I just wanted to know if they were going to edit my post before publishing it. He quickly responded, assured me that they wouldn’t and explained what cross-posting was. He also said that I had no reason to be shocked as my post was well written and thoughtful and would speak to many people. At this point I was just completely beside myself. Between the reaction my friends had after reading the post, the number of times the post had been shared and now praise from an editor at The Huffington Post, I was elated. I sent a text to my aunt and to one of my closest friends (the person whom had shared the post on the CG wives page) and told them what was going on. They were both very excited for me and made jokes about getting paid. But what I ended up getting from writing this post was better than money.

After I agreed to allow The Huffington Post to publish my post, I was then contacted by Jimmy’s assistant to work out all of the details. I needed to send her a headshot along with a short bio. I shared on Facebook the news about HuffPo and once again got an awesome response.

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Then it was time to write this bio. It sounds so silly but I was really intimidated by this. I went through some of the other featured bloggers and read their biographies to try and get an idea of what they were looking for but this just intimidated me even more. These other people were professional writers, lawyers, and experts on their subject with a nice little resume accompanying their photo. What was I going to write? College drop out, stay at home mom who takes pretty pictures of her kids and posts them on her blog (to which she doesn’t even own the domain). It took me a good hour, lots of writing and deleting and a little fluffing to finally come up with this.

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It was good enough so I sent the email and went to bed. I woke up to a returned email from the assistant letting me know that they would be putting it together and posting it immediately and she’d send me the link once it was done. It was so fast! Three hours later, my phone jingled that same jingle letting me know that I had a new email. It was Alison with the link.

I quickly jumped on my laptop and opened my email. I clicked the link and died when I saw my name and face at the top of the page. Once again it felt awesome. Immediately, I texted Josh to let him know it was up and then hopped on Facebook to share with everyone else.

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After I shared the link on my wall, I decided to share it on the Coast Guard Wives page as well since, most definitely, these women were the ones who helped me get my post this far in the first place. I thanked them all for the support and posted the link. I am so glad that I did because what I got back from these women – women who understand why I needed to write this post in the first place – was moving.

A few of these fellow Coastie Wives requested me as a Facebook friend or started following my blog, several commented congratulations and awesome and you deserve it, and a couple even thanked me for writing something that was what they needed to read during their PCS but one comment that I received on that page really got to me. A fellow wife said that my post “struck a chord with her” because she and her family had just moved and “she never expected it to be so hard” to leave somewhere she had absolutely hated just a few years ago. She went on to say that that place is now where she calls home so she’s in the process of trying to “readjust” and make her new place home “all while feeling extremely alone without my friends.”  This comment brought me to tears because it took me back to what my life was like during our last transfer. Quite frankly, I could have written the same words just 5 months ago. The feeling of knowing that something that I wrote touched someone who is going through what I went through a year ago, beat out all of the likes, and shares and even my excitement over The Huffington Post.

I just want to take one last opportunity to thank all of my friends who thought enough of my post to share it. Especially my Coastie bestie, Leigh, who passed it along to the other women she knew could relate and said so many kind words via Facebook and text. Even though we’re forced to live hours apart, it’s so nice to know that I have the same support from you that I did when you lived in my front yard 🙂

In case you don’t follow me on Facebook and you missed all of my screams about the post you can check it out here.