Back in the good ol' days, when a tragedy occurred in a community, it was the women who came flocking to each other. They would take care of the children, cook, clean, do laundry, and help their fellow mama-friend grieve; whether it was the loss of a husband at war, a stillborn baby, or losing a child to polio, the mama had a community around her to support her, lift her up, and grieve for her child or spouse in those moments when the grief was just too heavy to bear.

Over the last year, I have been part of a small group of women, in an online community. There are only two hundred of us, so you get to know the names, stories, and children's lives pretty well. We share our house-hunting, weekly menus, parenting ups and downs, and most recently, our tragedy. We live in literally all corners of the world, from New York, to England, to New Zealand, but, when once of us needs help, a hug, or just to vent, someone is always, always on the other end of the computer. Yes, it sounds pretty weird: how can you be so connected to women whom you've never met (though, I have two in-real-life good friends from the group, and one woman I went to college with!)? Well, I guess, for someone who met their husband online, the concept just doesn't sound too odd to me! I care for these women and their families. When they suffer, we all do.

One of these amazing women, Tessa, from New Zealand, has a little girl named Eva. Eva was born with an extremely rare disease called CHARGE Syndrome, and though she could not see or hear, she was as close as any baby to her mama, laughed, giggled, loved the sunshine, and loved hugs and kisses. Eva's life was not easy, and full of doctors and tests, but Tessa charged onward for her daughter and gave her a beautiful life.

Though Eva had CHARGE, she was doing wonderfully, which is why when all of us mamas in America woke up on February 25th to devastating news, we were floored. Tessa let us all know that Eva had passed away, suddenly, from a small respiratory issue. Like any baby with a small cold, she was having trouble breathing, and then, in front of her mother's eyes, she passed away. I can't even write this without crying.

My Mama-Group got to action immediately. We may not be there to attend the funeral, or hold Tessa's hand, or cook her dinner, but we did everything we could to make her know we were there for her, no matter what. Just as she would do for us. There are care packages, flowers, money being raised, and then, we did what any community would do: we sat vigil.

We declared that on 8PM EST (which is when the funeral began in New Zealand), March 1st, for 24 hours, we would each light candles and post our candles on to our community page. For 24 hours, only candles. Only Eva. Only Tessa. We communicated to Tessa our love and strength before and after the funeral. We wanted her to know that for 24 hours (and always, obviously), we, 200 women (and more in other mom groups, too!), would be holding the grief when it got heavy. We were praying for them, thinking about them, and holding them in our hearts.

Tessa has been keeping a blog chronicling Eva's amazing life, and I implore you to read it. I just wanted to make a few shout-outs: first, to Hillary Frank for starting the Longest Shortest Time group on Facebook, for it is through that group, that two smaller groups have formed, which have been a steadfast place for Tessa to fall apart within. Secondly, the mothers in these groups who got to work as fast as they could and have worked non-stop creating videos, cards, sending gifts, and're amazing.

And lastly, to Tessa: thank you for sharing Eva with us. We have loved watching her grow, her smile, and her brilliant life. She has taught us all more in her life than most people can teach in theirs. We are here for you on this long journey.

Our villages may be different now, but a mama is a mama. I have never seen such devotion, love, and strength in a group of women. We may not hang our apron up in her cabin and sit by the fire with her, but we are just an email, message, text, and "like," away.

If you'd like to light a candle for Eva, please do so, and share with #theoneinamillionbaby.

Lovelies, it's been some time since I've posted, and I am sorry! I'm in the midst of planning a major event in Huntington (more to come on that!), and starting my own business (also, more to come!). Meanwhile, I thought I would share the simple pleasures in my life as of late...what little things are making you happy?

1. The Brockhurst File by Lynne Kramer and Jane Mincer Dillof: Alright, so I may be biased here because my Aunt Jane published a book (jealous!), but this is a wonderful, meaty, mysterious look into the world and escapades of wealthy families dealing with divorce. Not only are the characters people you come to love (especially Lucy, the tough as nails main character), but I actually learned some matrimonial law while reading this! It's a perfect rainy day read, or wonderful for a plane ride, since it takes you on a crazy journey and it's hard to put it down.

2. Nutri Ninja: So, I consider myself a pretty healthy eater, but recently it's been a chore to eat veggies. I just don't have time to cook and eat them right now! So, when Jenny and Andrey picked up the Nutri Ninja and made me a smoothie, I was amazed with how easy it was to make and clean up. Sold! My parents bought me one as a very early birthday present, and I've been making spinach and berry smoothies every morning. Love it!

3. Hanna Andersson slippers: This is really only for the short women in the world, but, I bought these no-slip, leather bottom slippers for Weston, and when I was reading reviews, someone claimed to be my height (short), and shoe size (small), and wore these in the biggest size (for teens?). I asked my dad for a pair (the ones pictured) for Christmas, and I have been wearing them non-stop. I'm going to ask for another pair for my birthday! (PS. I'm a shoe size 5.5 and wear their biggest size in this, 3Y-5Y--they have so many colors to pick from!)

4. Raffi in Concert DVD: Three Raffi concerts, one DVD. Gives mama time to drink a little coffee in the morning. God loves Baby Beluga. Enough said. (Though, seriously: Weston's speech has improved ten-fold from watching and playing along to these songs over and over and over and over!).

5. Andy Cohen's book: When I finally climb into bed at night, all I want to do is read something light (right now), and this book fits that category. As a Bravo TV fan, and pop culture fan, I am truly getting a kick out of this book.

6. Poppin Desk Set: For Christmas, my lovely husband surprised me with a gorgeous desk set to match my website colors (desk being the kitchen table). I adore this set, and it makes me smile every time I sit down to work.

Susan guest blogged for Lovely late last year, so when she approached me to write about another tough topic, I said, "yes!" She's an amazing writer and I am thrilled to have her back. Susan asked if she could write about her recent bout with thyroid cancer and how it impacted her life as a mother and woman. I am so happy to have Susan here today sharing her story; it seems as though #thyca is all over the news lately. Long time blogger and writer, and mom to a young son, Christine Coppa is currently on a #thyca journey (check out her piece on how she told her son about her cancer), and is documenting it for everyone, as raw and scary as it is. Thanks for sharing today, Susan! 

As a new mom, the laser-focus I have on the well-being of my son is all-consuming. To the point that I push the health and needs of anyone else – including myself and my husband – to the side. Intellectually, I know this isn’t what’s best for me or my family. But the drive to protect my little guy is powerful and instinctual. It overshadows everything else.

That’s why my diagnosis of thyroid cancer a couple of months back was a sobering, important wake-up call. The news didn’t come out of the blue, but any concern I had about the growing lump in my neck was downgraded while I dealt with my pregnancy and that first hectic year of parenthood. I didn’t ignore the issue, I just wasn’t aggressive about it. Thankfully, the newly discovered cancer wasn’t aggressive either.

My journey from clueless to thyroid-less began more than two years ago, due to the incidental discovery of thyroid nodules during a neck ultrasound for unrelated pain issues. At the time, the nodules – considered extremely common, especially among women -- couldn’t be felt by a physical exam. I had them biopsied and they came back benign. About a year later, while 20 weeks pregnant with my son, I noticed the sudden appearance of the lump in my neck. Ultrasound follow-up indicated one of my nodules had grown, but I was told there wasn’t cause for concern. As the growth continued, I panicked that I’d have to deal with a major health crisis and a newborn at the same time. Thankfully, my endocrinologist told me to relax and follow-up after the baby was born. I hoped the enlargement was due to pregnancy hormones, but it didn’t shrink: it grew bigger and much more obvious last summer. It got to the point where I was eager for colder weather and turtleneck season, but I waited until October to see the doctor again.

At that visit he ordered a new biopsy, finally concerned by the rate of growth. He personally got back to me with the results, so I knew the news couldn’t be good. He was matter-of-fact about it. “If you’re going to have one cancer, this is the one to have,” he said. Excuse me for not feeling like I’d won the lottery. There’s no such thing as a “good” cancer – despite the fact that thyroid cancer has that reputation.

Another type of cancer that has a good rep in terms of treatment is prostate cancer – but the devil is in the details. My dad died from prostate cancer in 2011. Not the slow-growing kind typical of the diagnosis, but a rare, aggressive form.

I get it. The prognosis for thyroid cancer is generally excellent and the most common kind has a five year survival rate close to 100 percent. But there is more than one type of thyroid cancer and rarer forms can be deadly. I am lucky I was diagnosed with the more treatable/curable type, but I still had to undergo surgery to remove my thyroid. I still may need radioactive iodine therapy. And I still have to monitor my thyroid hormone levels and watch for recurrence the rest of my life.

Then there’s the matter of my sweet son and husband. Having any kind of cancer – even a treatable kind – brings my mind to places I don’t’ want it to go. I can’t imagine my life without them and I don’t want to think about their lives without me.

But that is life – and love. It wouldn’t be so precious if there wasn’t the worry that it could get taken away too soon. The trick is to understand that and use it for positive motivation – not an excuse to live in constant fear.

As we move into a New Year, I hope to learn from this latest bump in the road. I’m making those doctor’s appointments I put off, and I’m remembering how important it is for me and my husband to take care of ourselves and each other, not just our little one.

First of all, huge apologies to Susanne, for this was supposed to go up before the holidays, but life got a little insane, so here it is now! I love this Day in the Life Of post because it cracked me up, and also, is so honest and real. Susanne is a mom I met online, but turned out we had "IRL" friends in common! Her daughter, Lucy, is a peanut and so adorable. Thanks for sharing, Susanne! You can follow Susanne on Instagram, too! 

I’m a full time mom to one year old Lucy. Part of the time, I’m consulting for a design agency in NYC and in my free time I’m daydreaming and brainstorming about building my own business – Sunday Wellness Company. Always cooking…. Always holding a baby. Always feeling so grateful I get to do these things that I love.

Being a mom is like running a marathon that never ends.

2am: wake up to Lucy screaming like someone's come to kidnap her. False alarm, she's just lost her pacifier! I search in the dark all over the floor for the pacifier, which perfectly camouflages itself into the wood planks. Found it. But now she's up and screams when I get her anywhere near the crib. I nurse her, which calms her down and then I start rocking her in my arms for a few seconds before placing her in the crib - she promptly spits the pacifier out and I hear it bounce. I'm about to cry at this point from frustration, I yell to my husband - HELP ME please!!! He stands in the doorway like a zombie while I'm crawling around on my knees holding a screaming baby in one arm searching all over the floor for the camouflaged pacifier and he says, "do you need me to do something?" YES! Help me look. Of course he finds it in two seconds. It bounced behind the door!
(Of course.)

Back to bed everyone!

6:30am: I wake to Lucy's lovely yelling. I guess it's the best you can do when you can't actually talk so I don't blame her. I go in. "Good morning kitty cat!!!" I smother her in hugs and kisses, change her diaper and nurse her in our big comfy beanbag chair. We cover ourselves with a blanket and she hops on and off the chair grabbing new books for us to read, handing each one to me and saying "up up up!"

7:30am: Lucy starts yelling and throwing herself on the floor, now grabbing my shoulders and saying, "up, up, up!" I assume this means she wants me to get up and bring her downstairs for breakfast. Who knows! I sit her in her high chair, while I peel an apple for her to eat and she yells and tries to grab it. I FINALLY (25 seconds?) hand it over and she devours it. This used to keep her busy for a good 20 minutes, but she's suddenly a really efficient fruit eater - ten minutes tops... "Up, up, up!" At this point I have so much in my head that I planned to do while she ate that apple. Cue extreme disappointment. Cue the urge to multitask. Ok. I don't even know what I did with that ten minutes.

7:45am: I put her on the floor and let her crawl around while I attempt to tackle my list of little things I imagined getting done - my quick morning routine (oil pulling, apple cider vinegar with hot water and lemon), making almond milk, cleaning the kitchen, cooking breakfast, getting dinner in the slow cooker and checking email with some unfortunate Facebook distractions.
I look down for about 30 seconds to read an article on why moms are so tired ("hyperawareness" ? Seriously.) I look up and Lucy has climbed on the tv cabinet and is basically sitting on the cable box. Oops. I grab her down and discover she really needs a diaper change. Ugh. No, diapers never got less gross to me. How about you?

8am: Thank god that's over. I take this opportunity (just since I thought of it) to wash my face and brush my teeth while Lucy sits on the bathroom counter and turns the light on and off. I count this as learning. Side note: I just started using a Clarisonic on my face every day and oh my god can we talk about amazing results? Have you tried this?!)

8:15am: back downstairs to have our breakfast (oatmeal with almond butter/blueberries and chia seeds - it's our new favorite).

8:45: After breakfast we play on the floor with some blocks and I straighten up the living room and get my computer ready for a 9am call with work.

9am: Lucy hangs with dad upstairs in her room (sounds like they're reading books) and I take my work call. Nap time (for Lucy) is 9:30 so dad puts her down then and I finish up my work call shortly after so I have some free time (!) meaning I have some time with out baby at my feet. I finish prepping dinner (a loose rendition of this recipe) and begin to clean the kitchen - by this point in her life, Lucy has got to think my favorite hobby is doing dishes. It's not.

10am: She's up! We nurse. It’s funny, breastfeeding has been the hardest thing I’ve done in life so far and once it started to get easy, everyone started asking me when I plan to stop like I’m a crazy weirdo. She’s only a few weeks past one… we’ll see what happens.

10:15: More playtime for Lucy. I open up "her cabinet" where I keep lots of baby safe kitchen stuff and she sits and plays for a while while I get chicken stock cooking. I roasted a chicken last night; I always make a stock with the bones to get the most out of the chicken - it's also so nutritious and delicious! Then finish up making almond milk.

11am: We hop in the car and run to Value Drugs to grab hand soap and some other essentials we ran out of before vacation. Lucy reaches for every stuffed animal in the store and I stop the cart, introduce her "hi da!" And she hugs each one like its her long lost, best friend. These moments make me wonder "how is she this cool?!??"

12pm: We're home... I get some laundry done while carrying Lucy on my hip. Then she hangs out in my bedroom with me - crawling up and down on the bed while I straighten up. She goes to my night table drawer, takes out my Chapstick, and then puts it back over and over. I guess this counts as learning too. We relax. Somehow we're ahead of schedule and for a little bit we just hang out on the bed; she gets lots of tickles and kisses. She makes me laugh hysterically doing her new routine of standing up on the bed, putting her hands over her head and diving on to me. She. Is. The. Best.

12:45: We nurse. She gets a new diaper and turns off the light (while on my hip) and I put her in her crib for a nap. (1pm is nap time, but she always spends some time babbling and getting comfy in her crib. We started using the 90 minute sleep solution around two months and it has helped more than anything else I've tried. I highly recommend it!) I take advantage of nap time to take the fastest shower ever, get dressed and get her lunch ready (roast chicken from last night, a banana and a kale/cashew/mango smoothie - made six of these - one for Lucy, me, my husband, the babysitter, and a few for tomorrow.) I chug a smoothie and throw my laptop and wallet into my bag.

1:55: She's up! And in a great mood. Hallelujah. The babysitter will be here at 2pm so I get Lucy out of her pajamas (finally!) and into some semi normal clothes - we're still waiting for clean laundry because we just got back from vacation two days ago...

2pm: Charlotte (our amazing babysitter) arrives. Lucy and I answer the door and I tell her, "Charlotte's going to play with you for a while while I go do some work!" I sit her in her high chair and take lunch out and say bye! Thank god she loves Charlotte. My husband and I leave (he's been working in his home office all day) and we go to Starbucks to work for a very short two hours. Somehow, I get a ton of work done. I'm looking for a lighting designer and figuring out the best place to order 2,000 balloons from for an event I'm planning. I'm feeling very grateful to have this new project because work has been kind of slow for the past few weeks and also, this project is super fun.

4pm: We're home. Lucy hears me say hi and crawls over to me with the biggest smile I've ever seen anyone smile. We say bye to amazing Charlotte and nurse on the couch till Lucy flips off my lap, says, "up up up" and hops down off the couch (she's still figuring out up and down). She's entertaining herself on the floor doing lunges saying, "up, da" so I take this time to finish up a few emails for work and peak at Facbook/Instagram. She crawls into the kitchen and I hear her say, "up, up, up" to my husband who is standing at the counter working at his laptop. He is pleasantly surprised because she rarely asks him to pick her up. So that's cute! It lasts for about five minutes and somehow she has landed back in my arms haha.

4:45: I crawl onto the floor and sit in Lucy's elephant chair and tell her to pick some books for us to read. She gets "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and sits in my lap and we read... Well, I read. Spoiler alert: The caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. She climbs down, grabs her baby (a birthday present I gave her last week) and hugs her and says, "baaabaae!"

She comes back over to me and it's "up, up, up!" So I grab her and head back to the kitchen (because that's where I live!) I have to get her dinner ready and finish making dinner for my husband and I, but I quickly realize this is not going to happen with my hip baby. I sit her in her high chair with an appetizer (a spoonful of coconut oil - yum! I don't know, she loves it.) Throw a bunch of cubed sweet potatoes into the oven and grab some Lima beans out of the slow cooker. I should have done those last two things earlier, but I didn't. She's done with her "appetizer" and climbing out of her high chair so I grab her and sit her on the counter and let her examine the spinach (learning!) while I'm tearing radicchio and slicing tomatoes. Lima beans have cooled! Sit her back down and hand her a bunch. She eats some, but feeds half to the dog. Grr. I throw him into the backyard so I have a better chance of her eating. Sweet potatoes are served! She loves them. But I'm still worried she hasn't eaten enough so I grab the blender and make her a quick dessert smoothie (almond milk/coconut cream/blueberries/cardamom/turmeric) she downs it. Yay! This is delicious. I instagram it. (I've been working on getting some kids recipes together and planning a "real food workshop" to put my health coach license to use, but just haven't gotten there yet. Small steps.)

6pm: Bath time has arrived! I grab a glass of wine. We climb the stairs - Lucy in front of me, climbing on all fours, start the tub and go into her room to clean up. I ask her to help me clean up all her books and she hands me them one by one - then hands me a sock, which makes me wonder if she knows what books are. Well, one day she will figure it out. Into the bath. We talk about the day. Well, I talk about the day. She says, didididididididaaaaa! Speaking of daaa! Dad come upstairs to say goodnight and hangs out for a few in the bathroom with us. Lucy says, "up up up" which means bath time is over and it's time for bed. We nurse. I put her pajamas on, we say goodnight to every stuffed animal in her room, goodnight to the sun (which has already set), I let her switch off the light and put her in her crib. Aaaaaah.

6:40: By now, dinner is ready to go so I make some plates up for my husband and myself. Now we get to relax. I love Lucy's early bed time because I get to spend all day with her and then have time with my husband at night, which for me is totally necessary to stay sane. Also, going to bed early gives her the best chance to get a full 12 hours... Babies wake up with the sun no matter what time they go to bed. They're like senior citizens. (From my experience.)

8pm: We sit on the couch, have some more wine and watch American Horror Story (that show is getting to be really disturbing), SVU and I work a little more on my phone researching caterers and lighting artists - I'd love to stop this habit and turn my phone off at night... Maybe one day!

11pm: I pour us both a "Calm" magnesium drink and it's time for bed.

Sometimes I think I have the time management skills of a teenager at a Grateful Dead concert, but this day went pretty well! Success! Now I pray that she sleeps through the night.

Today's activity is one you can do in your spare time over the weekend; this could be as simple as when you're getting dressed, you complete this activity! I've been reading this amazing book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it's totally revamped my thought process for keeping "stuff" and clothing in my house. The author's whole premise is that you shouldn't have anything in your house which doesn't bring you joy. She has a whole chapter on organizing clothing, and breaks it way down into minute categories. It was extremely helpful and I learned a ton! I love how she talks about clothing having energy and giving you energy. That being said, last week I was ruthless with my clothing and got rid of 3/4 of what I own. Seriously. I only kept clothing which makes me feel good about myself!

So, this weekend, go through your clothes and pick out 10 pieces of clothing you either don't wear anymore, or don't make you feel good about yourself! Be realistic: what DO you wear? What makes you feel good? Don't overwhelm yourself, just pick out 10 pieces, put them in a bag, stick that bag in the car, and drop it at the thrift shop this week!

Here's the thing, the trick to these activities I'm posting is that they shouldn't take longer than your kid can play in the bath tub...which brings me to today's activity: Clean Out That Medicine Cabinet! Often while Weston plays in the tub, I wipe down the bathroom and put away the hair brush, toothpaste, etc. However, I hate to admit that I haven't cleaned OUT the medicine forever? I think there's still some gestational diabetes gear in there (ugh, horrible, bye forever)!

So, while you bathe the little ones today or tonight, zip open the medicine cabinet doors and throw away old medicine, organize hairbands, replace toothbrushes...get it cleaned out for the New Year! I guarantee if you clean it out, next time you open it to find the thermometer in the middle of the night, even though you have baby puke all over you, knowing your cabinet is clean will bring some sense of calm...or something.

PS. Did you accomplish Activity #1 and #2?

Today's January Cure activity can take as little or as much time as you want! In theory, I'll be doing this activity while I'm making dinner, or doing dishes, as it shouldn't take too much time...attack that huge and cluttered utensil drawer!

This is one of those activities where you need to be realistic with yourself: what do you really use and what don't you ever touch? I never use my giant spaghetti spoon-thing, so I'll be taking it out of my drawer because all it does is take up space! So, open that drawer up and get organizing!

PS. Did you accomplish January Cure Activity #1?!

It's that time of year again; I don't know if it because Eric and I habitually do a house-move in the winter, or that it is the New Year, but every January I feel the desire to throw everything we have away, donate it, or sell it. This year is no different; I've been donating clothing like it's my business (wish it were), cleaning closets, and making bigger messes around the house all in the name of organization. I signed up for Apartment Therapy's January Cure to Get Organized, and received their first assignment today: buy yourself flowers, and mop/clean your floors this weekend. Uh, that's great, except for that I'm horrible with taking care of flowers, and there are a million toys on the floor that I have to go through first before I mop the, I decided to come up with my own January Cure: this one is for busy parents who want to organize/clean their house, but have little time, and their priorities may be different than people without kids.

So, first up on my January Cure is to Attack the Toy Box! I went through Weston's toy's today and came up with a few categories: toys to donate, toys to put away for later in the year (which will go in his closet), baby/infant toys which he doesn't play with anymore, and toys which only belong in his room (stuffed animals and dolls). We have a cloth bin in the living room, and when that bin is full, it's full! We're not going to let the toys take over the house, so I'm constantly culling the toy-bin. I really like to watch what he plays with, and I can tell you, it's not that many toys after-all! We keep his go-to favorites where he can get them, anything that was a gift or special goes in his room or closet, and the rest get donated to other kids who need them. Once you get the toy clutter figured out, the house seems much cleaner instantly!

Stay tuned next week for more assignments!