Vacation Update

We’ve been to Myrtle Beach twice now. Greg’s parents live there, and we stay at their home a few minutes from the beach, shopping, food, a pool. Everything really.

Each time we’ve gone, we done both the touristy thing and the local thing and try to keep everyone happy.

I, for one, think that outlet shopping is the bees knees. There is a Coach outlet near my in laws house that I will dream of for years to come. I’m sorry, but when you walk into a store where everything is 50% off, and then upon entering you are handed an additional 20% off coupon, well, you die. I died.

Both times I went.

Dana: boosting Myrtle Beach’s economy, one handbag at a time. (And a wallet. Maybe a couple of wristlets.)

We also went to a place called Broadway at the Beach, which, if you ask me, can best be described as A Boardwalk. Greg and I can’t figure out why it’s called what it’s called…it’s neither Broadway-themed nor at the Beach, but, there you have it. No worries, though, there is shopping (yay for me) and drinking (yay for Greg.) Win, win.

I guess the best part of this trip is that Leah was old enough to enjoy it. She loved the sand, the ocean, the pool, the restaurants. When we were getting ready to go somewhere, I would say to her, “Leah we are going to go to lunch now.” And she would say, “I come?” And when I would tell her yes, her excitement went through the roof! As if we normally go out and just leave her home. She was just so excited to be included.

So, we are slowly getting back into the swing of things. The weekend before we left was a whirlwind of weddings, friends, and some big life decisions. And now we are just trying to get back to normal, let things calm down, and see where the dust settles.

And do laundry, of course. There’s always laundry.



And Scene

We are back!  From eight days in Myrtle Beach!  And you can imagine my house.  There are suitcases and clothes and souvenirs and sand and flip flops and World Market gummi snacks all over the place.

There are kisses for cats and rubs for dogs and screams from the joy of finding out that ALL OF MY TOYS ARE STILL HERE I FORGOT ABOUT THEM AND I LOVE THEM AND I AM GOING TO SHOW YOU HOW MUCH BY THROWING THEM ALL OVER THE PLACE!

There are groans of having to clean all of the laundry and go to bed early and set the alarm and making lunches and once again joining the other ants as they march.

Tomorrow is a big day, so, I leave you with a picture of how we, as a family, collectively feel.

See ya soon with many updates and many pictures and many pounds to prove just how much fun we had.



Ruby Rubinowski

I feel like I never talk about Ruby these days. 

Well, she's doing fine.  Still a huge pain in the butt, and she still sneaks under the covers and lays super flat so that when Greg comes to bed he won't see her and make her get out of the bed.

Her breath is wretched, but she's so lovable, it almost makes up for the horrible breath.

She loves to eat, and when you are holding something edible she looks up at you like, "I am so hungry.  I haven't eaten in days.  May I have a small crumb from your tasty treat?"  and I don't fall for it anymore (much), but man, she totally has my sister wrapped around her finger.

Leah LOVES Ruby, and I catch her kissing her and putting blankets on her and pretending to feed her something from her play-kitchen.  She's got this huge eyesore tent that she keeps in the living room, and she loves getting in there with Ruby.  It's so sweet that they are such good friends.

I love my little Ruby Rubinowitz! 


I'll Let The Kid Live This Time

You'll remember when my sofa looked like this?

After several hours when I couldn't even look at Leah, much kvetching, 4 grueling, fruitless, life sucking calls to Ashley Furniture, a couple of phone calls, some elbow grease, a dust rag of indeterminable fabric, and the Costco-size bottle of Shout, all is well in the Gulino Household once again. 

Save for the faint smell of Desitin in the living room.

But she's on thin ice.  NO ONE messes with the couches in this house.  I have issues when it comes to the couches.

Oh, and yes, I did buy the warranty on the couch.  However, I didn't realize that I'd have to provide every single piece of paperwork I ever received in 2008 along with Jesus' urine sample to get someone to even come and look at the stains.  And to undoubtedly tell me that it wasn't covered.



To Get You Over The Hump


See?  I'm really asleep!

You can't see me.

AAAAHHH!!  I'm awake!  I was totally joshing with you!

Man, I love this kid.



White Wedding

Speaking of Big Fat Italian Affairs, on Saturday my cousin Raymond married Erica. 

Actually, if I'm keeping it real, his name is really Little Ray.

Not to be confused with Little Bobby or Little Tommy, two other cousins of mine.

And definitely not to be confused with Uncle Ray, Uncle Bob, or Uncle Tom, all uncles of mine. 

Do other families do that?  Call the Jr. "Little"?  I think it might just be us.  Well, in Little Ray's case, he's really Ray the Third.  Because my grandfather was Ray...but we didn't call my Uncle Ray, Little Ray--oh no.  You know, this is one of those conversations that I'm going to go ahead and save for when I'm with my cousins because something tells me that this might only be interesting to them.  In fact, this may not even be interesting to them.  This may only be interesting to me.  So, I'm stopping.  Back to the wedding!

Raymond's father, my Uncle Ray, died a few years ago.  Although they lost their dad when they were much younger than I was when I lost my mom, I feel like I have a special bond with Raymond and his siblings because of what we have in common and have been through.

Here is a picture of my Aunt Abbe and my cousins Stacey and Evan, Raymond's siblings.

I am the oldest of 11 grand kids on my mom's side.  Here are three of the four female cousins.  My cousin Ronelle is missing from this picture, probably because she was busy taking 298 pictures that night. 

TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT.  And she wasn't the hired photographer for the event or anything.  I have horrible forgot-to-suck-it-in-dancing pictures to look forward to being tagged in on Facebook thanks to Ronnie's 298 pictures of the blessed event.

We are not this bronze. 
It's just that "Auto Correct" is a horrible feature on Microsoft Picture Manager.

Also, I think my hairdresser went a little too short with the bangs, no?

I had an awesome time at this wedding, and loved seeing my aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I wish we could get together more often, and I treasure the times that we do. 

Thanks for a great night, Ray and Erica.  Have an awesome time in Bermuda!

OK, I DEFINITELY think she went too short with the bangs.


Whirlwind Weekend

I had quite a weekend.  It could take a few days to cover it all.  Let's start with Friday, shall we?

My brother Marco and his fiancé Nelly marched on down to City Hall and got themselves married.

It was a joyous occasion, and I wish Marco and Nelly all the best.

Adriana and I were the witnesses, and of course we took our jobs very seriously.

Yes, that's gum in my mouth.

A wedding is not gonna keep this fist from pumping.

Now, this was my first City Hall wedding, and it was a lot like the ones I've seen in movies and on TV.

My wedding was more of a Big Fat Italian Affair, and this one was more of an intimate one.  Both so very different but both are just as meaningful to the ones involved.

Congrats, guys.  Keep control of the triggers. 


Life Lessons

Every once in a while, when Leah isn't redecorating, making bedtime a nightmare, or killing me with her entertainment selections, she is a pretty cool kid.

She is turning into a person who gets it, really understands life, and we've been working on the concept of cause and effect a lot lately.

At first I was really against giving her gifts or prizes during our potty training period, but, since we've started, it's been really rewarding to both her and us to give her a treat if she has a good day with it.  And I'm not talking about a pony or anything; sometimes the gift is a package of underpants.  But, it's a treat nonetheless.

There are days in which she'll go in the potty several times, and at the end of the day, she gets a pat on the back and "good job, kid."  And there are days where she goes once, and I'll come home with a little gift for her.  We are not consistent with it, and I'm beginning to think that this concept is the right concept to teach.

You can compare it to your job: there will be times that you spend a lot of time and energy on a particular project and you'll get nary an acknowledgement upon its completion, and there are times that you might get more recognition than you expected, for doing something that you didn't think was making much of a difference. 

Thus is life.  You aren't always going to get what you think you deserve and sometimes you get something that you weren't expecting. 

So, when Greg informed me earlier in the week that Leah was having some setbacks on the potty and there had been much effort but not a lot of achievement, I thought, maybe we could give her a little something to let her know we are recognizing her effort, and, although it's not reaching the ultimate goal, it's not going  unnoticed.  Maybe boost her esteem a bit.  I can only imagine that peeing oneself four times in a day can really wreak havoc on your self esteem.  Especially since she was making trips to the bathroom...they were just usually not at the right times. 

So, I brought home some nail polish.  She's never had nail polish on so it was kind of a big deal. 

I'll keep you posted!


The Couch Has a Boo Boo

Good Morning Mommy and Daddy!  The couch had a diaper rash.

No worries, though, I've taken care of it.

It's one of those days.


Life, in list form

1) We are moving right along w/r/t potty training. Over the weekend we had a couple of very good days, so underpants were purchased. And then Tuesday was not a good day, and so now three pairs of Tinkerbell underpants are sadly sitting on top of the laundry pile. We are firmly in that “must have diapers, pull ups, underpants, wipes, and toilet paper ready at every given moment stage.” This is not really a fun stage, huh?

2) We are gearing up for a trip to Myrtle Beach. Greg’s parents live there so we're going for a visit. Traveling makes me nervous to begin with, and traveling with a toddler makes me psychopathic. Even though we are not vacationing in the Congo, I have this feeling that if I forget to pack something very important there is no way we will be able to get it once we are at our destination. Which is bananas, I know, but I can’t help it. As a result I have made 14 lists of things that I need to bring. My lists of necessary items take up more room than said items.

3) Someone needs to tell my face that it’s not perched upon the neck of a 14 year old. Adult acne, like potty training, is not a fun stage.

4) I have two weddings to attend this weekend. Which means that I will be spending more time in Spanx than I really prefer to. This also means that at some point I must get thee to a pedicurist.

5) I don't know what happened to the layout on the blog.  Apparently, it's disappeared.  Seeing as it took me approximately 3 months to get the former layout on the blog, I don't think that you should hold your breath that I'll be able to get a new one on here post haste.  Hope you like green.


Letters Never Sent

Dear Greg,

You are doing a good job at helping around the house. I almost fell off the chair last night when you said you had to go and finish vacuuming and mopping. Apparently, housework is more enjoyable than my nagging. Who knew?

Love, Dana

Dear Leah,

Daddy and I were very happy when you took that enormous poop in the toilet on Sunday. We were also very surprised that something that large was inside of you. Thank you for disposing of that in the toilet, rather than in your diaper where there was sure to be a logistical issue.

Love, Mommy and Daddy

Dear Ruby,

Your sweet little pit bull mouth smells worse than a rogue dirty diaper left in the car for five days. I know that this is really something that I have to deal with, and not something that you can just go and take care of, but if you are wondering why we all leave the room when you enter, it’s because of this.

Love, Mom

Dear Penny,

Your continued bitchyness astounds me. I must admit that I first thought this was all a front, and once you let your cat-hair down, you’d warm up to us all and turn out to actually be a lover. But, you continue to hate on everyone, shed uncontrollably, cost us more money than I’d care to admit when you decided the living room was your litter box, and actually got pissed at me when I suggested you leave the window sill last night so that I may close the window. I’m SORRY that I wanted to put on the air conditioner. Sue me. Oh wait, you probably will.

Love, That Idiot who feeds you, scoops your box, attempts to pet you and generally just annoys the crap out of you

Dear Collared Greens,

I will admit that I did not know what you were, but, I didn’t want to sound stupid. So when Greg asked me if I liked you, I answered with a wholehearted, “YES, DUH.” Well, it turns out that I do, in fact, like you, however, my digestive track feels the need to get you through at speeds that I am not used to dealing with. Uh, like, halfway through the meal. So, while I thought we could be friends, it is looking like we might not be able to make that work, as I have never spent as much time in the bathroom as I do when I eat you. Oh, wait, there was that time that I tried Activia for the hell of it…

Love, Hold on, I’ll be right baccckkkk…..

Dear Chocolate,

Hello lover. It’s that time of the month when we are due to have our affair. Don’t tell Greg, but I kind of look forward to these times.  Everyone leaves us alone, and we get to smooch all night long while watching DVR-ed NJ Housewives episodes. I think I will have you with some nuts tonight, to mix it up a bit. I know that next week I will regret our time together but, Chocolate, I wish I knew how to quit you! (Not really.)

Love, DeeDee



Friday Night Highlights

On Friday, my brother, his fiance, and her son Matthew came to visit and have dinner with us.  Matthew is a great kid, and at dinner he asked Greg and I if he could call us Aunt Dana and Uncle Greg.  Greg told him the cost was $50, and they are going to work out the details.  My moniker change was free of charge, so Aunt Dana I became.

I may as well get used to it, since I would have become Aunt Dana in November anyway, with the birth of Marco's baby.

We then decided that Leah should call Matt's mom Aunt Nelly, and, when we asked her to say it, she proudly said, Aunt Smelly, and that's kind of funny, and, well, sorry Nelly, but that's one of those things that's going to stick.  In 20 years when Leah introduces you to her boyfriend, she'll introduce you as Aunt Smelly.  You don't mind, right?

After dinner, because Sparta can't get their head out of their bum, we were informed that the outdoor concert was cancelled for that night, so we decided to head to the Sparta Dairy for some ice cream.

Our favorite ice cream server (barista? coner?) Erin was there, and we all got our faves and had a little rest on the bench out front.

It doesn't surprise me that Leah's mouth is wide open. 
Apparently she couldn't stop eating for the picture.
The apple and the tree.  They are not far from each other.

Our friends Rob and Renee and their two daughters, Faith (l.) and Shannon (r.), or, as Leah calls them--Face and Shanny--met us at the Dairy.  These two are Leah's besties, and Renee and I usually refer to them all as sisters.  I have a feeling that this motley crew is going to get themselves into trouble.  And I know Rob doesn't want to hear it, but I tend to think that some of that trouble is going to involve b-o-y-s. 

Matthew is a fave amongst these girls because he's 1) a good protector, and 2) a huge softie.  Faith was wondering if Matt had brought his Nintendo DS because he's always nice enough to let her borrow it. 

When the kids were done, they screamed "beep that horn" at passers-by while doing the universal horn-beep request with their arm, Marco and fam headed home, and Rob and fam came over to our house for a back yard fire.

Leah! Seriously. Put down the spoon for 5 seconds.

All in all, a pretty nice Friday night, as far as Friday nights go. 

Ok, I'll be honest with you: any occasion that includes me eating ice cream is going to get high marks in my book.



For the past two years Leah's had a dirty little secret.  At first we thought it was just something that she liked to do and didn't really treat it as a big deal.  Until she started sneaking it all of the time and asking for it when it wasn't appropriate, and soon enough, we had a full blown obsession on our hands.

You see, our daughter Leah was addicted to her pacifier.

We started to get anxious about it.  People were telling us that it could affect her teeth.  Others were saying that her habit could go on for years...well into kindergarten.  We were told that getting rid of the pacifier was a days-long endeavor--the first night being a non-sleeping night for anyone in the house neighborhood.

I discussed the matter with our pediatrician who suggested collecting all of the pacifiers in the house and trading them in at Toys R Us for a neat-o toy.  I received offers to borrow children's books on the subject.  Our friend Renee offered up the idea of cutting the tips off of the passies, thereby making them "not work" as well.

So, last Saturday, I finally spoke with my friend Vanessa, who has a son Leah's age, and who successfully removed pacifiers from their life several months ago. She gave me the hard truth:  cold turkey was the way to go. 

And so it began.

Nap time started with an hour long scream fest, sans pacifier, before she settled and eventually went to sleep.  Same with bedtime.

And for pretty much the rest of the week and still going strong today, at designated sleeping times, it's been like we now are the proud owners of one of those gremlins that's eaten after midnight.  There is screaming, jumping, yelling, ripping of things off the wall, snakes wildly protruding from her head.  And it goes on for about an hour before she finally shuts her trap, lies down, and goes to sleep.

I'm not sure who's reading this, but for those who have never lived through a full-blown, hour-long tantrum, let me just say that ripping ones toe nails out with pliers might be a more enjoyable experience.

And, although the pacifiers still reside in the drain board next to the kitchen sink, where little eyes are sure to not see them, I can honestly tell you that Leah will never be sucking on one again.  I'm over those things, and I'm a happier person knowing that I'll never have to get on my hands and knees in the car, ass up to god, and do an under-the-seat swipe with my arm to try to find that little sucker, which is SURE to be 1) just out of reach, 2) covered in something sticky and hairy, and 3) cleaned by using a combination of my spit, my fingers, and my shirt.  

Pacifiers, you're not welcome here anymore. 

Totally still wants the pacifiers. 


Advice for my Daughter

Leah's Advice
in song titles

1) It's a Hard Knock Life (Annie)-If you understand right from the beginning that life is tough and not a cake walk, then you will be ahead of loads of other kids your age.  Seriously, Leah. You are not entitled to anything in this world, and everything you have is because you are either lucky, loved, or well deserving.  But if your luck runs out, and it gets tough to live on love, then make sure you've worked hard to deserve some good things in life.  See also: get a job. 

2) Don't Drink the Water (Dave Matthews Band)-Just make it a point to never drink water that is not filtered.  The water in Sparta tastes funky, and the water in Mexico will leave you sitting on the toilet for days, so if you just remember that Unfiltered Water = Bad Water, you will never go wrong.

3) Love is a Battlefield (Pat Benatar)-You are going to break hearts and get your heart broken and, if you don't go through both of those things, then you are not living, my love.  You need to have a little experience and a couple of skeletons in the closet by the time you are ready to settle down with someone forever.  When you meet the man (or woman-whatever floats your boat) that you want to marry and have children with, I hope it's because you've already met and gotten over the man (or womanyou don't want to marry and have children with. 

4) Please Forgive Me (David Gray)-Say those words.  Learn what they mean.  And use them when they are necessary.  Never be too proud to admit when you are wrong.  Don't let people leave your life because you couldn't ask for forgiveness.  If they refuse to grant forgiveness, then you can let them leave your life.

5) And the Beat Goes On (Sonny and Cher)-Life goes on.  Don't let it happen without you.  Don't let a tragic situation derail your life.  Learn from mistakes, bad decisions, tragedy, death, and sad times and use that knowledge to move on and move up.  I can't stress enough how wallowing will keep you from sparkling.  Don't dwell on the bad.  Seek help if you can't shake it.  Start a website if need be.

6) Forever My Friend (Ray Lamontagne)-Always have girlfriends. A group who doesn't judge you and will drop everything and be there for you.  When you find them, hold on to them because they are hard to come by. This is not up for discussion.

7) I and Love and You (The Avett Brothers)-I will never let you down.  Ever.  I will never leave you.  Even when I am no longer here, you need to be able to take the things I've taught you and keep them close to you.  I will love you forever and ever.  If When you do naughty things, and if when you annoy me and your father to no end, we will never stop loving you and will never abandon you.  You must understand this.  I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU.  On the flip side, I'm not perfect. (Gah! I said that?) So, if when I do naughty things, and if when I annoy you, please never leave me.  Give me another chance. 

Have I forgotten anything?  Add your suggestions in the comments.


Hello, Mile 3

Well. That sucked.

I was concerned that my jog was only taking me about 2.25-2.5 miles.

I am impatient.

I am slightly OCD.

Of course, I think I know more than Todd, the creator of my running program.

Therefore, I decided to take things into my own hands.

Last night, I jogged my normal “walk 2, jog 2” interval until I completed 3 miles. I had to prove to myself that I could do it.

It took 44 minutes. Which means that, at this rate, at the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K that I plan on running, elderly, handicapped and infants will have completed the race and will mostly likely have showered and will be napping by the time I get to the finish line. People will be sweeping the streets and Christmas decorations will be going up on street lights.

So, I guess I need to work on my time a bit.

Today my legs are jello. And the ball of my left foot hurts. I’m exhausted. And starving. (The starving thing is really nothing new, though.)

Slow but steady, right?


Going Places

Leah is awesome.

I know that as her mom I have to feel that way, but she really is. She is so dang smart. Some of the things that come out of her mouth just amaze me, and I often wonder what else is going on in her head that she can’t yet vocalize.

One of my favorites is when I walk in from work and she looks at me, puts her arms up, hands palm up at ear level, and asks me, “All done work, Mommy?”

Or when I get back from a run and she says, “All done run, Mommy?” and then asks if I want some water. Only she calls water “Lo” and so she asks me if I want some Lo.

Ooh, ooh, or when she wants a water bottle and will point to the cabinet and ask for a lo lo ba ba.


Could you not just die?!

Now, I knew this kid would be adorbs, I mean, hello, with our genes how could she not? But, I am most impressed with her intelligence.

Looking good might get you in the door, but thinking good is gonna get her to the top floor. Where the coffee cups are lined in gold and the staples are made of platinum.



Vermont 2010: Part Three

We had so much fun in Vermont.  I've been friends with Catherine since college, and we are lucky enough to have husbands and children that get along.  One of the highlights of our year is when we finally make our way up to visit them.  This trip was no exception. 

Andy's parents were in town visiting, and one night we headed to their campground for dinner.  Leah took a liking to Matthew and Brendan's Grandma, Joyce.

Leah helped baby Brendan eat his dinner.

Leah learned a new trick from her pals. 

And our friends Catherine and Andy are such gracious hosts.  They always make us feel welcome.

There was a lot of downtime on this trip.  (I actually napped on Sunday.  NAPPED!  I can't remember the last time I did that.)  With such busy and hectic lives, that's exactly what we needed.  A little rest. 

All in all, a great trip.  I wish we could go back there more often, but our schedules don't allow it.  And also, Vermont is FAR! 

My lord, it's so far.

But so pretty, too.