I was deathly afraid of giving birth, but I had a truly good experience with it! I was up and around the next day; the nurses called me feisty. I refused to sit. I held court in the hospital room and downed tons of Au Bon Pain (which was in the hospital), and Chinese food my dad brought in. It felt like Weston had always been there; in a way, he was.
August 8th was National Happiness Happens Day, and Happy Family Organic Superfoods have started an incredibly fun campaign asking us all, "what makes you happy?" Bloggers from all over were asked to share what makes them happy and for the duration of August, Happy Family Brands will be tweeting these stories, as well as sharing them on their Facebook and Pinterest. (PS. Don't forget to enter your happiness happens moment in their giveaway, to win one of three wonderful prizes!)
I'll be sharing my little moments of happiness today, but I would love to know: what has made you happy lately? What little tiny thing has brought a smile to your face? I'd love to know! Tweet at me, and Happy Family Brands with hashtag #happinesshappens and let us know what makes you happy!
For me, recently, happiness happens in the quiet moments. Life with a very active almost one year old boy is busy, busy, busy! We rarely sit down; we're always singing, dancing, walking, crawling, climbing, and jumping. I love those moments. I relish them, I adore them. I soak up every moment with my little boy that I can, because I know someday he'll be taller than his mama, and have his own family. But, when the sun goes down, after dinner, after bath, and after bedtime (whenever that is!), the house starts to quiet down. The musical toys go to bed, my husband and I quietly chat, the kitchen gets cleaned, the clanging of pots and pans simmers down, and the hum of the world starts to ease.
It is at these moments that I take a deep breath, and let all the activities and craziness of the day seep into my soul. It is at these moments I take mental photographs of my son, my husband, my delicious coffee, my grandmother, my sister, my new books...whatever made me smile that day. I file these images away, and they fill my heart with such happiness. It is at these quiet moments which my happiness happens. The happiness of the day seeps down into my bones, filling them with memories I will never forget. From the mundane, of singing Twinkle Twinkle to my son, to the wonderful, like watching my son take his first steps. I let my eyes tear up with life, with joy, and with happiness.
Happiness happens for me, when the sun goes down, when my house is quiet, and when I can really feel it all, let it soak into my heart and soul. Happiness happens as I write my articles, listen to my music, and watch my incredibly adored and wonderful partner and smushy, funny baby boy cuddle up in bed, while they wait for me to finish up my dream job (writing about being a mama to that funny boy!), and come up to our warm and soft bed. Happiness happens in the silent moments, when I can close my eyes and let the scenes of my happy life dance before the darks of my eyes. Happiness happens when I can stand in a quiet room and hear my son's laughter and my husband's voice in my head.
Happiness happens in the still of the night.
I decided to keep things simple and wear a black maxi dress, paired with that green sweater from the Loft (which was $10!), and my Troopa Boots. Yes, it's summer, but I didn't want to wear sandals for the photos, as we may use them for holiday cards. I'm so excited and can't wait to share the photos!
|Photo by Molly Leon Photography|
|My paternal grandfather, David, in 1937-8, and Weston, in 2014|
As the years went on, my grandfather's health grew worse, and he could barely speak, but he held on strong. His shaking never bothered us, as we never knew him any other way. Even as a grumpy teen, I loved walking into his apartment, which always smelled like clean laundry, and yet like fried chicken. The last summer he was alive, my then-boyfriend was living and working in Manhattan, so I spent a lot of time hanging around the city. With nothing else to do on incredibly hot days, I would find myself on the subway uptown. I would walk into the cool apartment building and find myself pressing the button for the 19th floor. His nurse would answer the door, and I would drop my bag, and just go sit by his side. Like a confessional, I would just talk: about my worries, about my college classes, about life. I knew he was listening. After an hour or so, I would kiss his cheek, say goodbye and be on my way. Refreshed, and full of love and life. I always am so thankful for that last summer; I had never spent so much time alone with him, and I will be forever grateful for that.
He passed away right before Thanksgiving, my senior year of college. While I was sad, I knew it was his time to go. He was a Marine, a boxer, and a prosecutor, so he had certainly fought his battles! His funeral was small, and touching; I read an excerpt from Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey. It was respectful, quiet, and a family-oriented gathering, just the way he would have wanted it.
On the other side, I was the first grandchild to very young grandparents; my grandfather wasn't yet 50 when I was born, and while I know (from what I am told!) that he was excited, I am sure it was a shock! My Poppop was my buddy, and in many ways, my best friend. From an early age we were comrades, and jokesters. He knew exactly how to press my buttons and I knew exactly how to press his. We spent hours together. He became like a second father; we went to the grocery, Broadway shows, out to many dinners. When my parents got divorced, my father lived with his father, and therefore, we lived there too. There was never a more secure feeling than hearing my grandfather's footsteps on the basement stairs, coming up to the house, because I knew he was home for the night, and would be there for us. Poppop was the most devoted doctor I have ever met. His patients loved and adored him. Just the other day, my next door neighbor was chatting with us, and it came about that he saw my grandfather as his doctor; he was thrilled and delighted, for he exclaimed how much he loved Dr. D! Poppop was the life of the party, and a family man. Summers were spent at his house, splashing in the pool, hanging out with my aunts and uncles. It was the prime of life. He loved nothing more than having every single person he knew at his house, serving food, and complaining that the dishes weren't clean. He was my safe place, my rock. I adored him to bits.
Poppop passed away suddenly, most likely from heart failure, April of my senior year of high school. My world came crashing down. I didn't know what life was without him in it! I'm still in shock to this day. I think I push it out of my head and just pretend it's been a few weeks since I saw him.
When I look at my son, it truly amazes me how much of both my grandfathers I see in him. Sometimes I literally lose my breath thinking about nature, and genetics and how crazy it is that Weston has genetics from these two men whom I not only came from, but adored. Just like my mother's father, Weston puts his hands on his head, and looks perplexed; he can't stand to be wrong, and he's also a little...bossy (where does he get that from? Me?!). And like my father's father, he is the ultimate life of the party and adores being out and meeting people. Oh, and he's a little bit obsessed with the ladies too! He's also a prankster and jokester, which reminds me of my Poppop, who used to carry around his fake thumb so he would always have a magic trick on him. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but it still blows my mind: my grandfathers' legacies live on in my son. It's such a beautiful thought to me. While I mourn and miss my grandfathers every single day, I have a blessing of a son who continues their blood and traits. I'm so eager to see what else Weston gets from them, even without knowing them.
We've been listening to the Okee Dokee Brothers a lot in the car (they are awesome kid's music!), and there's one song which I play over and over again, "Roll On River." There's a line in the song which just resonates with me, "When I come to my final ocean, I know this thought will keep me warm: all the water in this whole world never dies, it just changes form." I couldn't have said it better myself.
I've been reading Chaunie's blog Tiny Blue Lines since before I even had a blog. I loved her honest, raw, and hilarious accounts of being a young mother. Before I ever thought about having kids, I loved her posts, and then when I was pregnant and had a baby, her writing became so important to me, as she covered the real life topics which many other mom writers steer clear from. When she announced she was writing a book I was thrilled for her, and lucky for me, she sent me a preview copy to read! Even though I had an infant at the time, I plowed through the book and loved it to pieces.
First of all, there is no other book on the market like Tiny Blue Lines. Chaunie addresses a group of young women who aren't normally considered when discussing pregnancy: college-age, college-educated young women who aren't "teen moms," but, have a life plan, goals, dreams, and just happen to be young and have gotten pregnant. I really respect that aspect of her writing: she doesn't beat around the bush, she wanted a family, just not at that moment. Tiny Blue Lines is the journey of a scared young woman, in college, as she finds out she is pregnant, and is determined to continue on with her life, albeit, wearing maternity clothes.
When discussing book reviews, you could not have chosen someone further from Chaunie's background to review this book, which is another reason I really enjoyed reading it: it opened my eyes! I'm a Jew-ish, Unitarian-ish, college educated woman from the Northeast who uber-planned my pregnancy. She was a college aged, Catholic woman who had an accidental pregnancy. However, Chaunie is warm, welcoming, and engaging in her writing. It doesn't matter how old or young you are: pregnancy can be scary and isolating, and Chaunie does her best to make all young women feel not-so-alone, normal, and loved.
Tiny Blue Lines is truly an inspiring book, full of life, love, and hilarity. I can honestly see this book as a life-changing tool for many young and scared pregnant women. She takes us through all her stories, from finding out she was pregnant, to deciding to finish school, to telling her parents, and more. These stories, and her tips for figuring it all out are invaluable to all women. Not only does Chaunie make the journey a little less bumpy (ha), but she also reminds us that pregnancy is a wonderful blessing, even if it isn't at the exact moment you thought it would be. It is en empowering book for women who want to both be a great mama and live out their own dreams (and live out her dreams, she did! Chaunie is now an accomplished writer, and preparing for her fourth baby!). Chaunie takes young women by the hand and says, "We can do this, together," as she helps them navigate pregnancy, childbirth, school, family, faith, and life. I highly recommend Tiny Blue Lines for any pregnant women, new mama, or anyone thinking about starting a family and also...continuing on with their own dreams.
Here's a little known fact about me: I am not a baker. When it came to doling out roles in the family, Jenny got baker and I got chef. I make the meals, she makes the deserts. She even used to have a little company (we have a problem starting businesses...you should see our business card drawers...) called "Jenny Cakes Cadieux." But, as I started to get more into paleo, I realized I was going to need some treats that I could make for birthdays and holidays. I mastered my zucchini bread for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I wanted something special I could make for birthdays, especially for a very special first birthday coming up (!!). So, I tried a lot of different recipes out there, but was mostly inspired by one of my favorite paleo cakes: Delighted Momma's vanilla mug cake (I have an addiction to it!).
I set to testing cakes for Jenny's birthday, and stumbled upon, what I think, is an amazing paleo cake! Eric even liked it...and that says a lot. For Jenny's birthday I made three of these, and layered them with Elana's Pantry's chocolate frosting (amazing recipe). Now, I'm not a recipe writer, so I'm just going to tell you what I did, and explain the best I can! All I can say is that the cake is unreal, and no one would know it was dairy/grain/gluten/nut/refined sugar free. I will be making this again for Weston's first birthday, but subbing the honey out for maple syrup, as babies aren't supposed to have much honey. Okay, here goes...
This recipe is for one 8 inch round cake pan; I made three of these for the layer cake.
For one cake, you'll need:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.