mlk day, including kellogg's nyc & times square overload...

mlk day was one i wanted to be sure we spent having a good time together as a family. we have been talking to elle a lot about martin luther king, jr., and what a critical man he is for the history of our country (and humanity in general!). i saw "hidden figures" last week and was even more touched by the fact that my kids will (hopefully) never truly understand that segregation and hate existed so close to home- and not very long ago- because of physical differences.

“nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” - martin luther king, jr. 

we decided to venture into times square early- a place we usually avoid at all costs:) all our friends have already hit kellogg's nyc, so our visit is super past-due! we've been hearing all these exciting this about breakfast cereal covered in un-breakfast treats, and since we are MASSIVE cereal consumers, it was high time. (also, i'm not kidding. we go through like 6 boxes a week.) 
 basically they have all the cereal and toppings you could imagine. you pick any combination of 5 things- elle & jude chose to share krave cereal with bananas, sprinkles, marshmallows, and pop tarts. mike and i were going to "share" yogurt with raspberries, strawberries, and malted milk powder. i picked the last topping because i knew it was greek yogurt, and mike loathes anything non-sugary (his diet is getting progressively WORSE- it's awful). anyway, let's just say there was some serious sugar overload for everyone except whiney mike, who only wanted a giant bowl of a single kind of cereal. repeated 5 times.
 the best part was the locker your food was waiting in...
jude didn't bat a sugary eyelash at all that sugar. 
elle tapped out after 1/4 of the bowl.
mike... well, we already talked about him.
next, we decided to hit the m&m and hershey's stores because, well, kids...
 not pictured: running WILD in the empty stores, surrounded by, yes, more sugar.
 we played in the middle of times square for a bit...
there was also a stop at the disney store, and finally, we let elle pick any restaurant she wanted in all of nyc, and wouldn't you guess! she picked olive garden. she's been begging for AGES (she loves that place), and when she saw one in times square, she was sold.

it was all worth it for the view! (and their salad- i forgot just how much i love their salad.)


gelato in the snow...

saturday after all of us were awake, while the kids were perched on the radiator warming themselves as they looked out the window, i asked jude, "so what do you want to do today?" his reply: "hmm... do i want to go to the park? no....... do i want to stay inside? yessssssss." 
completely matter-of-fact and without hesitation.
he's mike's child for sure.

mike has been studying for a licensing exam so he's been erring on the side of staying home (much to my chagrin), and since i tried taking the kids to a far-away park last week and they were crying by the time we got there that it was FREEZING and they were going to die, i was hesitant to ruin another saturday morning:) we ended up laying around in pj's, we took a nap, mike simultaneously studied while taking a bath and eating a bowl of cheerios (all in said bathtub), and the kids and i went and got some books at the library. snow wasn't in the forecast, but fluffy white flakes started pouring from the sky late in the afternoon, and we decided to head out for gelato. 

it has snowed three times this winter.  and each snow day fell on a saturday. in a city of black coats, there's nothing quite as pretty as giant white flakes blanketing all the little people marching down the street. ooooh!!
 it's important to note that amorino is incredible!! also, we shouldn't have gone hungry- we started off with a bowl of gelato to share. nice and conservative. (sharing a single medium gelato bowl looks like 4 hungry dogs sharing a dog bowl- it's not pretty.)
then as we walked out we decided to stop again and get a hot chocolate and a caramel crepe. 😬
back at home we watched the snow continue to blow around until bedtime. the kids entertained themselves in their favorite fashion- being in a band. 
mike decided juju needed to learn "juju on that beat," so there was a lot of dancing going on. i also tried to teach elle the beauty of the cup song.  
it was an incredibly culturally diverse and well-rounded day for sure. 😉


(weighty) thoughts to close out 2016...

i tend to over-exaggerate situations, and mike under-exaggerates. frankly, i'm not a fan of either method, buuuuut i have a couple mostly unrelated & heavy thought-filled posts that have been sitting in my inbox for a while now. i never shared them for fear of coming across as negative and/or ungrateful and/or depressing; i do realize this blog is public and i've said this all on many occasions (see here), so i tend to tread lightly when it comes to heavy topics these days.  this is going to be long. and blunt. sprinkled with some photos from an old co-worker who visited our apartment with his camera one afternoon in november to prettify the heavy load:)
chapter 1
baby #3 is headed his/her way the first week of june. this pregnancy was a surprise (very much unlike with elle and jude). i'm grateful for the chance to have another baby, but this pregnancy has been HARD. difficult in every single sense. i was so sick, and emotionally, it wrecked me. i went from playing everyday in a city i adore, to quitting my job in dc, elle starting 1st grade, fall beginning, and immediately being slammed into a brick wall. physically, i could hardly move. i couldn't walk without nearly passing out. i couldn't ride in taxis or on the subway because of the motion. i couldn't get groceries (grocery shopping here is a full-blown workout). i barely got elle to/from school in one piece. i couldn't take care of my kids. the only solace i received was the reassurance that this is it- this would be my last time to carry a baby, and then our family would be complete. there has been much less excitement on my end, and much more overwhelming fear- how we will survive here with a baby both physically and financially is a concept that still brings me to tears. the reality that i wasn't going back to work full-time anytime soon set in, and that was harrrrrrrd for me. i've worked and balanced being a mom for longer than i've been a mom, and i'm fairly sure being a full-time mom isn't an ideal setting for amanda. but it's what needs to happen for now. so, like the rest of what i'm processing, i'm figuring it out as best i can.

i woke up in the middle of the night early in october and i had an instant realization that i was pregnant (insert overwhelming nausea). my mind raced back to a time in 2009 when i felt the same way- FEELING pregnant (then i didn't know), but bleeding. this time i was aware of exactly what was happening. i crawled back in bed and shook mike, "i know this doesn't seem possible, but i'm almost certain i'm pregnant." he jumped out of bed and ran to cvs before the sun came up. instantly it read positive. within an hour of being dead asleep and unaware, i found myself sobbing on the floor of my bathroom with a positive pregnancy test in-hand.

i spent everyday for the next unmentionalble weeks/months crying. they were filled with the aforementioned sickness, feeding my kids nothing but cereal, and my apartment being a complete disaster. there was also the fear that there was a problem with the baby since i was still bleeding. i left the apartment only when necessary, struggled through 2 bouts of pink eye, a few terrible colds, and a slew of doctor bills totaling $8000 for my first routine obgyn appointment alone. a hurricane and horrendous morning sickness left me to cancel a long-awaited girls trip to bermuda. there was also the news that my grandpa was dying. and a funeral. then there were a few weeks of the flu. fall passed, and then winter came.

the hardest symptoms next to the nausea and dizziness and exhaustion and food aversions are smells. the smell of everything- especially fabric- dropped me. (with elle i could smell plastic a mile away. with jude, it was water. it sounds silly, but it's awful.) in addition, the feel of human touch made me cringe. it made my skin crawl.

pregnancy highlights my insecurities, weaknesses, and struggles- physically and mentally. i admire and am viciously jealous of women who glow and embrace and love their bodies. losing control of my body is immensely difficult for me. it's always been a struggle, but never as hard as this time around.

and there you have it! not the vision you usually hear, but the reality of the last few months. and it's getting better as this thankfully healthy baby grows bigger. and the best part is that my kids took the news better than any humans on the planet- they're beyond thrilled. they understand and are so excited it completely humbles me. and we're getting close to the halfway mark!
chapter 2
mike and i are completely different people than we were 2 years ago- in a good way. (but i'll leave him out of this.) i feel like there's still such a sense of purpose that i'm finding as a person- not just as a mom or wife, but as amanda. i feel like the move to this city has been such an easy transition as a family- so easy. it's home. people ask all the time, but it's true. it was home before we lived here. the honeymoon phase has worn off and the reality of finances and lifestyle and being a family of 4.5 in this crazy city is staring us square in the face. absolute terror aside, i've never felt so sure we are right where we need to be. i've been overwhelmed with appreciation for the differences in people here. the awareness of diversity, and the humanity that exists where change is the lifeblood of the community. it brings me to tears to see my kids completely unaware of people who are different than themselves in every way imaginable.

my #1 wish as a mother has always been to raise kids that are good, kind people. this year i've realized i want to add respectful to that short list. i want them to value and understand that diversity and individuality are what make us us. i realize that just being "good" in a stepford wives sense isn't the kind of "good" i imagined. i want them to be individuals who are the best they can be in their own sense- not in comparison to anyone but themselves. i want them to love and be kind and to respect.

there is grey- not just black and white- which has proven to be one of my biggest challenges as i've come to know myself these past couple of years- it's been a huge struggle for me- my mind is a black and white land, but i'm starting to see grey, and i feel like it's making me a stronger person and a better spouse and mother. grey means there is space for awareness and processing. space to change- because we all do. space to adapt and adjust.  

all i felt was missing in my life i feel like i've found here in nyc, but i'm also left acutely aware of what we left behind- things that were chosen, and things that time has taken away from us (as time tends to do). i feel so much older. i also feel so much less wise. sometimes i get queasy when i even think of the person i was when i was in my early 20's. i wonder how i was so unaware. how i was so ignorant and so selfish.

i've never been political- i really detest confrontation and contention, and politics isn't devoid of either, but this past few months i feel like my eyes have been dramatically opened. leaving our old life was pivotal in comforting my tired soul- a lot of that is due to politics- both literal and metaphorical. about a week ago my emotions came to a head when an announcement was made that i whole-heartedly disagree with, and it brought me to tears out of disappointment. i was/am hurt that such a decision could even be made, and that there are SO MANY people defending that decision. i have always been very uncomfortable when religious and political lines blur, but this decision crossed that line in a way i feel in my soul is vehemently wrong. the defense of the decision is shocking to me. the lack of awareness as to why this is concerning flabbergasts me. the reasons the decision is being defended is (in my opinion) both offensive and hypocritical.

in all of this- this decision, the reflection of changes over the past 2 years- i've realized just how much i have changed.

i have no idea where or when the long-sought answers will come, and i desperately want to cling to the principles i believe with my heart are true, but at least i feel surrounded by people and experiences and things that are going to help me through this learning process i'm facing at this very time. i'm not alone. that's also why i'm even sharing this. words and tears of friends who are also struggling with matters of the heart have come as lifesavers, and are comforting to my soul. we talk about struggles and how to become better- not just about how we should be better for others, but how we need to be better for ourselves. 

i'm grateful for a husband who is in this with me entirely. i'm so happy to have him by my side as we've trudged through this adventure- one that bares little resemblance to our twitter-pated college selves in 2004, but one that feels deep and real and ugly and beautiful all at the same time.  

somehow in one of the most challenging places i am finding peace and comfort in the fight. it seems to always be worth the fight.

see you soon, 2017!
photos by cody bell.
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