Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

While most people are full of Happy New Year messages this time of the year, I get the added bonus of celebrating my anniversary today!  Five years ago today, my hubby and I tied the knot in a very impromptu ceremony (we planned it in less than 3 weeks).  We had an army of people behind us, helping to pull it all together and taking on pieces of the festivities.

See, every year for quite a few years running, my (then) fiance and I had been throwing New Year's Eve parties in the basement of our house on Avery Street.  We had a bar built in our basement that we called the "Avery Street Saloon" (or A.S.S. for short) and we had friends and family over to celebrate the new year with a few cocktails and games of Threes or L-R-C.  We had been living together for years, had bought the house together, were engaged, but had no real rush to get married officially.  We had both "been there, done that" before and things were great the way they were so why rush it?  This particular year (2005) we were about to welcome our first child into our family (in March) and it became increasingly important that we do so under "legit" circumstances.  So, with our annual New Year's Eve party just around the corner, we decided to turn the usual gathering into a NYE Part/Wedding.  So, that's what we did.  We sent out invites, made arrangements to "rent" the atrium at the Emergency Communications Department where Dave works, had friends volunteer to decorate the area, chose a friend to marry us who is an ordained minister, asked another friend to take photos for us and continued on with our plan to have friends and family over to celebrate the new year.  2006 was to be a good year and we were celebrating for lots of reasons!

So, today.  I say Happy Anniversary to my husband.  Marrying you and starting our family was the best thing we could have done.  We've had our fair share of challenges but I look at it as the work needed to keep things alive.  I love working with you towards our goals!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 5 Favorite Things about 2010

I'm a big fan of a blog/page called Operation NICE and this week's NICE Assignment (as seen here) is to list 5 of your favorite things from the past year.  I'm always looking for fun and creative ways to memorialize the year gone by, so I jumped at the chance.  But to pick only 5?!?!  Yikes!  That'll be the real challenge.  So here goes:

1.  My Trip to NYC to visit Tiffany in March.  To me, this trip stood for a whole heck of a lot more than just visiting one of my best friends on this planet.  To me, it was a challenge, a goal, and a success!!  I had serious anxiety over making that 6-hour drive, alone, in winter, with two boys under the age of 4.  I still remember seeing the City skyline come over the horizon and crying instantaneously.  A feeling of pride, accomplishment, and power surged over me when I realized I had done it.  And done it well!  We had a fabulous stay with Tiffany and Brielle that (blessed!) weekend!  The weather was horrible but the company was warm and inviting and the memories were priceless!!!

2.  My trip to Arizona with my sister to see my cousin get married in April.
Another trip of a lifetime was the plane ride I took with my sister to Arizona for my cousin, Todd's wedding.  We were both fortunate enough to leave our children home with our husbands to make the cross country trip as solo sisters.  What fun we had!  For 5 days, we shared a room, hung out with our cousin, Billy and his daughter, Clara, went shopping, took the hotel shuttle into town to sight see and bonded with family.  It was good to have that undistracted time away with my sister to reconnect.

3.  Moving to the new house.  While there was much stress and anxiety over making this move, I am so glad we did it!  We found a great house on 5 acres of beautiful land, in an area that has a great school for the boys, family nearby, and great neighbors!  I miss our old house and hold tight to the memories we made in the 6 years we lived there, but love where we are now.  It feels like home and is comfortable to just be here.

4.  My nephew, Ian, joining our family.  For a long time we thought my brother, Noah, would never agree to having children.  He was holding out for all the stars to align and finally, while on my trip to NYC, I got a call from him to announce they were having a baby!!!  I was so excited!  A few months later, we learned that they would be bringing a BOY into the ranks to grow up with my two and I was even more excited!  Then, when we found a house (literally) 42 seconds up the street from my brother and sister-in-law and moved in the month before my nephew was due, I was elated!  Now that Ian is here it feels like he's always been here and I don't know what we'd have done without him.  Wendy is the mother I always wish I had the time and patience to be so I knew she'd have this role down pat.  I can't wait for my boys to grow up with their cousin just up the street.  

5.  TIE - F-H-M Fire Department visit (and the outpouring of love from the whole FD Community) and Taking a Photoshop with my dear friend, HeidiI couldn't decide which was more profound in 2010 so I picked both for the individual, yet equally important meanings they held.

As for the Photoshop class, I chose it not so much for the class itself, I mean, yeah it was great stuff to learn and rounded out a whole slew of positive steps forward that I took in my photography in 2010, but i was thinking of it as my favorite more for the fantastic chain of events taking that class set off.  During this class, Heidi's husband, Joey, managed to single-handedly save my butt from the potential disaster of computer failure or data loss.  Not only did he volunteer to take all the kids (5 of them total!) while Heidi and I attended class 3 hours a week for 6 weeks, but while these weekly gatherings were taking place, Joey overhauled my entire computer and storage system and set me up with a permanent and secure copy of all my digital files - in one place!  Now it backs up automatically and is safe from all sorts of potential dangers!  The relief that brings me is indescribable!  I can't thank the Ciravola Family enough for all they have done for me, my boys, and my mental well being in 2010!

Regarding the fire department love Nathaniel received this year, you can read about it all here, but in summary, the single actions and grand gestures these firemen and women expressed the last few months has given me a whole new respect for people in their line of service and restored my faith in society as a whole.  It's truly remarkable and Nathaniel nor I will ever forget it!

Of course there were other moments in 2010 I'd like not to forget.  We did some boating, camped with friends, spent a lot of time up North at Mom and Dad's new camp, attended a Stanton family reunion, went to State and County Fairs, spent a lot of time with friends, and I was proud to be asked to take photos for a few separate events through work and for friends.  2010 was very good for us.  As we settle into our new home and new routines, I look forward to ringing in 2011 with some of the best people I know and starting off the new year with a fresh spirit, renewed energy, and recharged motivations!  Stay tuned for some of my goals, aspirations, and plans for the coming year!  Happy new year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

I wanted to stop in and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  I have been busy around here doing the traditions of the season...Breakfast with Santa, Christmas cards to friends and family, cutting down a Christmas tree, shopping, wrapping, making cookies, Christmas crafting, and lots of celebrating.  I had hoped to write about some of our family's Christmas traditions, but actually doing and living these traditions has prevented me from having the time to share actual stories of them so it will have to wait.

Today we are off to pay a visit to my mother-in-law where we have a Christmas tree for her that Nathaniel is very excited to help her decorate.  Then we're heading to my parents' house for a Yousey Family Christmas.  Here we will graze, drink Dad's delicious homemade eggnog, share some presents, let the kids play, talk, play games, and hang out.  It's always a low-key, low pressure, relaxing (albeit loud with the kids!) get together that I look forward to every year.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your families and make lots of fantastic memories with the ones you love!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lord Help the Mister...

30 (!) years ago today, my sister was born.  I'm quite sure I didn't realize the gravity of her arrival at the time.  In my 4-year-old mind, I probably just wondered "what is this little screaming, crying thing that's disrupted my life?". 

But in the 30 years since she came into my world, she has grown into one of my best friends and I truly don't know what I'd do without her.

I am very lucky.  Though, honestly, I haven't always felt this way.  My sister and I haven't always gotten along.  When she was little and "hanging around", she drove me crazy.  I'd complain that she always had to be there, underfoot, getting into my stuff, my circle, my face.  She was always annoying me when my friends were over and I was trying to be cool.  We shared a room and she was always wearing my clothes, playing with my toys, dirtying my space.  We've gone through periods in life where I honestly just didn't GET her.  I couldn't understand where she was coming from, didn't get (or even fully support) the decisions she made.  She just made me batty.  She'd frustrate me to no end and sometimes it was just easier to brush it (her) under the rug than have to deal with the "drama" or try to make sense of it.

Then I graduated and moved out.  I'm certainly not saying that solved everything but it certainly did put things into perspective for me.  Suddenly I appreciated my sister as a person and a friend...not just a roommate and nuisance.  Absence truly did make the heart grow fonder. 

She still made some pretty questionable decisions (in my opinion) and would say some pretty bonehead things, but we could finally talk and spend time together without wanting to kill each other.  As time wore on, I found myself thinking of her first when I had news to share or gossip to spill.  When I was frustrated about something or needing support, my sister was just a phone call away.  I've really come to rely on her as my go-to person.  I know that no matter what she will not judge me.  She's always 100% honest, completely trustworthy, and I can tell her anything and know that she will love me and support me unconditionally. 

Three years ago we were lucky enough to go through (my second, her first) pregnancy together.  It was wonderful having her to share the morning sickness, the baby growing, the finding out the sex, the names, and all that fun stuff with my sister.  Having my niece born just three weeks before my son is a gift I hope they appreciate some day.  I love that they can grow up together and it allowed my sister and I a rare opportunity to bond through breast feeding struggles, 3AM feedings, spitting up, diaper blow outs, and "first" milestones.

As adults, we've gone on adventures (trip to Arizona, below) and have regular slumber parties and shopping excursions.  I love that I can just call her up and crash in on her at a moment's notice.  I bring the wine, she provides the lodging, and we put the kids to bed so we can play games and "duel Facebook" together.  I can't imagine going through life without her by my side.

My sister is truly a blessing in my life.  
I am proud to have her in my family and beyond lucky to call her "friend".
I love you, "lil'" sis!  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh, INSPIRATION!!! Where ARE you?!?!

I was supposed to do a 10 on 10 post yesterday.  I remembered that it was the 10th of the month (hurdle #1 jumped), I had a "theme" in mind to focus my mission (hurdle #2), I even remembered my camera (hurdle #3), yet here I sit, hours after this (supposed) 10-hour challenge with nothing.

Ok, so I have a few photos.  Nothing worthy of sharing, but I did take a few.

But not ten.

So, I sit and wonder why.  (Because that's what I do!)  Am I over thinking this stuff (*gasp!*), putting too much pressure on myself to "accomplish" said goals which is sapping the fun out of it?  Who knows, but that wouldn't be the first time.  I tend to over analyze most things and ruin them.  So, next month, on January 10th, I will start the new year fresh and embrace 10 on 10 with a renewed perspective.  Until then, I'm looking for my long lost friend, Inspiration.  Have you seen her?!?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

TWO Years!

Exactly 2 years ago I completed the (nearly 5 year long) process of submitting my pistol permit application to the county.  It was something I had been meaning to do forever but after several procrastinations, a few county moves and a paperwork update that forced me to start the process over, I finally completed all the steps required.  I jumped through their hoops, paid my fees, got my fingerprints (twice!) and secured the references needed (thanks to my husband's help, support, and nagging!) to submit my paperwork.

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

It's been TWO years now.  For a process that should (on average) take 6-9 months.  So I called.  My husband called. I called again.  I emailed the County Clerk.  No matter what, we kept getting the same blanket response:  "It's on the Judge's desk for signature".  For months, this is what we were told.  We were given the reminder that we should "expect time frames of up to a year now since the Obama Administration took over and permit applications increased in volume".    

And today.  Two years later (literally as I was writing this post that was meant to complain about the delay) I got a picture message from my husband that my pistol permit finally came in the mail today.  *Sigh*

It's about time!  If you know me, you know I was starting to take it personally!  I'm glad to finally have it in hand.  I'm relieved to not have to bug the County Clerk or the Pistol Permit lady any more.  Mostly, I'm proud.  Proud to be able to carry on a family tradition and to have finally completed something I set out to do.  If you know me, you know that's a rarity, too!  :)

So, while this post started out to be a venting post.  I am pleased that I am able, instead, to report good news.  And to document a milestone reached.  Sure, it's a milestone most probably won't see the importance of.  But for me, it's BIG.   

Wordless Wednesday...Roar!

Seneca Park Zoo - November 2010
Nate, Alex, Brie

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meet Mr. Ugly Face

If you had told me that this sweet face:

Would turn 2 and turn to this:

I never would have believed you.  
I mean, really...look at this adorable pip squeak!


Lately he looks more like this. 
Thank goodness this is just a phase!


Hi.  My name is Shana.  I *gulp* am a silly band-aholic.

As with everything else, I am a day late and a dollar short as it seems this trend is already in most people's rear view mirror.  But lately, I (no, not the kids...ME) have been obsessed with silly bandz.

I'm not sure what it is about these clever little plastic bracelets.  Perhaps it's the fond nostalgia of my own jelly bracelet fad growing up. 
It could be the pretty colors, or the brilliant simplicity.  Maybe it's the surprise of finding out "what it is" when you take it off and untwist it.

Who knows, but I dig them.  It's a childish obsession I have lately.

I buy them for the boys yet they have no interest whatsoever.  Alex likes to put them on and take them off a hundred times and Nate thinks they're rubber bands for shooting at the dog or his baby brother.  So I find myself wearing them and collecting them and hoarding them.  I've even considered staging my own silly band swap (think chain letter)!  It's a sickness.  I think I need help.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Straight from the heart ♥

Generally speaking, I use a lot of big, strong words - words that carry a lot of drama, create a big impact, contain rich emotion, tell an elaborate story, or evoke an exaggerated response.

I tend to overemphasis and magnify many things to get my point across as a general rule of thumb.

I (quite literally) embellish things for a living.

But there's something I want to make perfectly clear.

There are certain words, certain emotions, certain expressions that are 110% GENUINE when I use them.

Words like:  love, inspire, admire, adore, cherish, treasure, respect.

I worry that I'm not taken seriously.  It would be easy to poo poo me as if to say, "Oh, there goes Shana, telling stories again!".

Yes, I am guilty of (over)sharing my emotions with many and am blessed to have more than a few absolutely amazing people in my immediate circle, but it is these feelings that I hope are understood.  I assure you - my friends, my family, my loved ones - these words are completely sincere, and honest, truthful, unaffected feelings.  I mean them each and every time I use them!  So if I tell you that you inspire me, or that I admire you, adore you, love you...I DO.  Of that, you can be 110% POSITIVE.

For friend is a word I hold in very high regard and I use it only when it absolutely applies!  Thank you for being my friends.  You know who you are!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

It was a good day...

Today was a good day.

Sure, it had it's fill of flaws...I got notification that a grant I submitted for one of my heartsongs (Family Resource Center) wasn't approved.  To a professional grant writer, that probably means funding was tight or timing and/or fit were off.  But to me, that means Pre-k kids at FRC won't be able to go on a field trip to the Strong Museum.  Something that most of us in Rochester can do every other Saturday without thinking, but for them is an experience of a lifetime.

Just as that threatens to bring me down:

--->I get a sweet email from a friend reminding me to appreciate my worth that perks my spirits.

--->My kids snuggle up with me on the couch to watch Rudolph and munch popcorn.

--->I'm able to video chat with the Ciravola family, which proves to be loud and chaotic, and absolutely warms my heart

--->I solidify plans with my person to continue our "family" tradition tomorrow and am beyond excited to see her.

--->the boys and I do a simple craft that goes smoothly and we all enjoy!

--->I read an email from my boss, thanking me for a job well done this week, despite hectic deadlines, frantic schedules, and a migraine that threatened to do me in.

--->A Christmas present I ordered for a friend arrives in the mail and seeing it in person is even better than my vision!

--->My hubby makes dinner for the boys and I before he heads off to work, and the boys actually eat a good dinner without argument.

--->A video is posted on Facebook that makes me happy, puts me in the holiday spirit, and reminds me of my Daddy.

--->The boys and I go out in the first snowfall of the season and I get to take pictures of them just being kids.

These are the things I will choose to hang on to today.  Not the bad news.  Or the failed attempt at helping those that deserve it and need it most.  I will focus, instead, on the silver linings in my gray cloud.  The glimpses of love, support, encouragement, and hope that have sustained me throughout the day.  I hope you, too, can find your silver lining.  Goodnight.