OXNARD is the new beach!

As our Five Year Wedding anniversary approaches and we are hunting for a fun adventure for the family, I can’t help but to reminisce about last year’s anniversary trip.

I’m not sure what sparked it, but beginning last year, we started an annual family vacation on our wedding anniversary weekend. For our honeymoon, we went to Italy, and it was incredible! (see below, me on a train in Italy)

So, although we weren’t looking for international travel (because I was newly preggers with Carmine), we wanted somewhere beautiful we had never been – insert Oxnard, California!

Freddy, my mom and I were vigorously searching VRBO for beach houses in the California area, when my mom came across this super modern, gorgeous home right on the beach! None of us had ever heard of Oxnard, but from the moment we laid eyes on this home, we were in love!!

>>CHECK IT OUT >> HERE

We obviously had to jump on it immediately! Luckily, it wasn’t booked and we were in luck!

A couple weeks later, we packed the car and headed to the beach! Mama and my Auntie P made their way up to Oxnard earlier on in the day, and Freddy Oliver and I made it to the beach just in time to catch the sun.

Before even entering the house, Oliver, mama and I had to explore the beach, which wasn’t hard because WE WERE ON THE BEACH!!

So, as you can tell from the video, Mr Oliver was not a fan of the water (poor thing)! And this did not change the entire time. I’m pretty sure it was just the shock of the cold, but it didn’t matter- he refused to go near it!

After poor Oliver was too scared to go back near the water, we ventured into the house, which was even better than the photos!

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After we (and by “we” I mean Oliver) were finished laying in all the beds and reading all the books, we caught the most breathtaking sunset! And had a dance party with a mummy!

As you can probably already tell, this beach is so secluded and quiet. Thee perfect place to get away and unplug.

The next morning, we geared up for the beach and, to our surprise, the beach house came with everything we needed! Chairs, umbrellas, sand castle building supplies, kites, bikes, beach towels, beach balls – everything!

Even though our little Oliver wasn’t interested in going IN the water, he wore himself out running around the beach flying kites with his uncle G, digging for sand crabs (which he and his cousin Elliot loved to watch crawl on their hands), and building monster sand castles!

One of the best things about this house is this area right here! When Oliver got tired, we were able to bring him up to the house without really leaving the beach!!

That night, we were determined to get a family photo during the beautiful sunset! It was a little windy, which resulted in a not so perfect picture, but the cutest little faces from Oliver!

“Get me Back IN the beautiful house!!”

Mornings were also the best! Oliver and I snuggled on the lounge chairs in our room and just enjoyed each other and the view. This was, of course, after he explored the telescope and I snapped a zillion photos of him and daddy checking out the dolphins!

Oh – and more dance parties (while mommy got some work done with the incredible view).

The second day, we got dressed and headed to the hotel where my auntie P was staying for some yummy lunch and pool time.

But before we left, we got these adorable photos together on the stairs of the house- adore them!

After the pool, the boys got another sand castle building session in. As you can tell, the weather was beautiful and even required a little sweatshirt at the end of the day, which was a pleasant change from the 110 degree weather in Vegas!

We ended the day with some couch snuggles and Thai take-out.

For anyone out there who cooks, this house would have been your dream! They had all the gear and even a BBQ in the courtyard. For us, however, we got well acquainted with the take-out menus!

My sister did make this yummy pie for my brother-in-laws birthday and at least made use of the baking supplies!

On the final day, Captain Oliver woke up ready to play! Side note, the little bear he’s holding was given to him on the day he was born by his cousin Elliot and it’s still one of his favorites!

We were super sad to have to leave the beautiful house and the beach, but found an adorable breakfast spot that had tables right in the sand!

The entire trip I couldn’t help but imagine our new little one coming along for our next anniversary trip! While Oliver was still trying to understand that his little brother was in mommy’s tummy (see below), he was super excited when I told him that his little baby (we didn’t know the gender yet) would be here next year!

Carmine in the oven!

Can’t wait to see our two boys on this year’s trip!

Thanks VRBO.COM & T.R.E.E Real Estate

– WeAreFremily

xoxo

Sixty Five Roses

We went back and forth about drafting this post and sharing our story dozens of times. One moment it felt too intimate, too personal, and the next moment it was real, it was us, so why hide it? Once we came to the realization that our story and our journey could help others, raise awareness and possibly be the place where someone feels comfort in an otherwise confusing and frightening reality, we knew that it was our purpose and that we had to share.

When we found out we were pregnant with Carmine, we were over the moon excited, like all parents are! We definitely thought we were having a girl because I craved fruit and felt nauseous, which are apparently signs of a girl! So when we learned at the first visit that we could do a blood test to find out the gender at only 10 weeks, we immediately decided that we’d do the test and end the guessing game!

The doctor informed us that the test to learn the gender was “bundled” with some other tests – down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and other disorders. We told the doctor that we didn’t care to learn if the child had Down syndrome (we didn’t know what the other things were), because it wouldn’t change anything for us.

I remember having my blood drawn for the test while Oliver and Freddy played around in the doctors office trying to keep me distracted so I didn’t pass out. It was in September, and we were heading out that same week for our anniversary celebration with our family.

The weekend of celebrating was perfect, and on the drive home, I got a call from the doctor’s office. The nurse said that she had the test results, and I immediately told her not to tell me the gender! I explained that my mother would be in the office this week to pick up the results so she could plan a reveal. The nurse understood, and assured us that the other tests turned out negative- meaning we were in the clear.

Phew! Not that I was really worried, but as an expecting mama, you always have a little voice in your head worrying that something is wrong.

It felt like weeks passed, and I received another phone call from my doctor’s office while I was at work. The nurse said that I needed to come into the office to talk about some test results, and asked whether Freddy and I could come in the next morning, as he would need to have some blood drawn as well. My heart immediately began pounding so loud it drowned out the voice on the phone and my mind starting racing with every horrible thing imaginable.

You never have to come into the office to discuss good news, only bad.

The doctor briefly explained on the phone that I had tested positive for being a carrier of a rare genetic disease and that we needed to rule out the possibility of Freddy being a carrier as well. I was in such shock, that I didn’t even write down the name of the disease. I knew I had never heard the name before, but for some reason I just sat, frozen on the phone. Disbelief.

The next day, as I sat on the exam table and Freddy sat nervously in a chair by my side, we learned how rare this disease is, and how unlikely it was that Freddy also carried this rare gene because of his ethnicity. While 1 in every 29 Caucasians carry this gene, only 1 in every 46 Hispanics carry this gene.

The disease is Cystic Fibrosis. Don’t google it. It will only scare you.

I remember my heart sinking and my world collapsing on me when our doctor very delicately said that people with this disease often don’t live beyond their 30’s, and that they need lung transplants and constant care to stay healthy, and alive.

At that moment, thirty years of my unborn child’s life flashed before my eyes. I saw him in pain. I saw him suffer. And I felt completely helpless. Why? What had we done?

I know my face revealed the horror that I was feeling, because our doctor quickly tried to reassure us that Freddy would not likely be a carrier of the gene and, therefore, our child would not have the disease. You see, in order to be born with cystic fibrosis, both of your parents must be carriers of the gene.

We were also reassured by the fact that Oliver didn’t have the disease – even though there is a 1/4 chance each child born to parents who are carriers will have the disease, we figured that Oliver’s excellent health was a good sign.

Everything else the doctor said was kind of a blur, and I kept having to stop myself from thinking of the horrific tragedy of losing my child I hadn’t even met yet.

After our talk with the doctor, the nurse drew some blood from Freddy and we sent it off with our good vibes.

That’s what we decided. We were not going to think of the negative. We were going to put only good thoughts out into the universe. We were not going to worry ourselves over something that is nothing. We were fine.

Admittedly, we googled. And we cried.

But then we returned to our vow to stay positive and not put negative energy into the world.

So in a positive direction, we planned the “we are pregnant” reveal photo shoot with my sister! We found the most perfect little cactus track suit for Oliver, and decided on a succulent/cactus theme! Truthfully, I had let the worry slip away and barely thought of the “what if.”

That is, until my phone rang again. It was the nurse. Only this time, she didn’t have the doctor there to speak to me. She just wanted us to come in the next morning to discuss results. I died. Literally, part of me died. I recall nervously joking with the nurse that we all know what this means don’t we…. I prayed she’d say I was wrong, but she didn’t. She just agreed by her silence.

Panicking, I asked if I could speak with the doctor and explained how my night would be an eternity without the opportunity to speak with the doctor and learn what she needed to tell us. Although I knew – I knew it wasn’t good – somewhere in my naivety, or positivity, I believed she just wanted to tell us the good news in person.

After making an appointment, and I believe calling back after speaking with Freddy and my mom, the nurse informed me that the doctor would call me after her rounds.

I was relieved that the doctor would be calling, but even more devastated because if it were good news, she would have let the nurse tell us then. No need for the call, right?

On the ride home, Freddy and I discussed the inevitable news we were going to receive. Freddy wanted to cancel our reveal shoot. At first, I agreed. No way could we pose and pretend to be happy with this looming. But then I was angry and disappointed with us. Even if Freddy is a carrier, and our child does have the disease, he is still our child. We are still so blessed. We are still so excited to share our news. I insisted that we do the shoot.

When I got home, we scurried around the house to get prepared for the shoot- both on the verge of tears and wanting to scream with anger. Then the phone rang. We stood in our closet with the phone on speaker while our doctor explained that Freddy is one unique fellow! With his heritage, it is crazy how he is a carrier. A million questions raced through our heads, but we just listened and soaked it all in.

Options. She wanted to discuss the next steps.

We knew the next step – to test the baby to see if he actually had the disease. This can only be done by having an amniocentesis, i.e., sticking a large needle into my stomach and taking out some amniotic fluid for testing. Ever since I can remember, this was the ONE test I vowed never to have done. It can lead to complications, including miscarriages, and my family experienced this first-hand when I was growing up. My immediate response was No!

And this never changed. No matter how many people told us that the statistics were better now, and how common the procedure is, I didn’t budge. And honestly, the result wouldn’t change a thing. This was our baby and in the end, it didn’t matter – we just loved him.

We had two choices: do a procedure that could put our unborn child’s life at risk for the opportunity to have 6 months knowing our baby has a disease that we cannot prevent or help in any way, or do nothing and go 6 months not knowing whether he does have the disease, while staying positive and praying for the best – we chose to pray.

The days and weeks passed, and eventually we barely googled it, barely discussed it, and mostly just prayed. It was easier that way. When I would talk about it I cried, and then I felt guilty like I was putting bad energy into the universe.

I remember one discussion I had with a friend about it, where she said that if our baby did have it, there was no better family to handle it – with all of the love of our family and friends, the child would be so cared for and surrounded by love and we would be so supported in our journey. This could not be more true.

It’s like my mother always said when life was rough: “God never gives you more than you can handle.”

As some of you may know from our post, I had a c-section with Carmine. Not only was the decision based upon the fact that I had already had one with Oliver, but it was also based upon the advice from my doctor that it was best to have the scheduled surgery so that we could ensure that all the necessary doctors and nurses were working in case the baby needed extra attention at birth due to lung complications associated with CF.

The day came to have our little Carmine, and everything was seamless. Our beautiful little boy came out breathing perfectly and there were no signs of anything being abnormal – he was eating great and thriving! And this didn’t change! We took that as a very good sign that he did not have the disease! No NICU for him, no lung problems, nothing.

For any parent reading this, you probably remember that your baby had a PKU test done at the hospital. It’s the test that requires the nurse to scrape the bottom of the baby’s heel and place blood on a piece of paper with little circles on it. This test looks for several abnormalities, including CF.

In addition to the hospital PKU, the pediatrician’s office normally does another test at the one-week check up. Well, lucky Carmine got three of them!

After our one-week check up, where he was gaining weight and looking super healthy, we got a call that the PKU results came back “inconclusive”. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I stayed positive and chalked it up to the nurse possibly not getting the blood in the circle correctly.

Per the doctors request, we were back at his office the next morning for another heel scrub. Needless to say, Carmine did not like me for that one! The doctor said he’d call with the results, but remained positive given Carmine’s growth. You see, CF patients have difficulty gaining weight and maintaining a healthy weight due to their inability to absorb the nutrients from their food.

It was two weeks after Carmine was born, and Freddy had gone back to work. Therefore, Oliver was at school and I was home with Carmine recovering and just loving our time together.

On a Wednesday morning, I got a call from the doctor saying that the PKU results came back, and the CF gene was showing up.

Since we knew we were carriers, this was not a huge surprise. As the doctor put it, this confirmed what we already knew. The question now, however, was whether he actually had the disease, or whether he was simply a carrier like Freddy and I. To make this determination, it was necessary to have a sweat test done. The doctor said to come by his office to pick up a packet that would explain everything, including the test results and how to schedule the test. He still remained positive and hopeful that everything was fine.

Luckily, I had just received the ok from my doctor to drive, so after attending Oliver’s chapel performance at school (where he played the part of the sweetest Jesus ever), I headed straight to his office to get these documents.

Once they were in my hand and I was back in the car, I immediately called the Hospital to schedule the sweat test. Not sure how it happened, but I got the sweetest hospital employee on the phone who walked me through the test and even spoke to me about the “what if!” With her, this entailed telling me how her daughter has severe asthma and sees Dr. Nakamura (the pediatric pulmonologist Carmine would have IF he had CF), and how she absolutely adores the doctor and would follow him anywhere! What are the odds?

Although I obviously still remained positive, there was comfort in knowing that even with the worst outcome, we were in good hands.

Luckily, we were able to get in first thing the next morning. I didn’t see any point in prolonging this (any more than it already had been) and wanted to finally know one way or the other. Freddy was still working (and after reassuring him a million times that he didn’t need to take off work), so my mom and I went to the hospital for the sweat test together.

When we arrived, the sweet hospital employee welcomed us and even chatted with us for a bit. She was really awesome and eased both of our minds – or at least made us laugh for a bit in this not so lighthearted time.

The sweat test was painless, and Carmine just seemed annoyed by us if anything. The nurse prepped his skin and put a small device on his arms that caused him to sweat. She then attached a circular tubing that collected his sweat. The sweat would then be tested for salt.

People with CF sweat out salt, so the test is a very accurate way of determining whether a person has CF or not.

I recall kissing Carmine’s forehead before knowing whether he had CF and tasting salt on my lips, yet ignoring it because I didn’t want to put any negativity out there.

The test was roughly an hour in total, and the nurse told us that they would receive the results that same day and inform our doctor.

It was later that Thursday afternoon and I was nursing Carmine in bed. The phone rang and it was our doctor.

This phone call was supposed to be the one that left us relieved and thankful. However, the moment the doctor spoke, I knew it was not the case. He said the test was positive for CF, and that he had spoken to Dr. Nakamura’s office, who would be contacting us.

My heart sank and I just listened as he spoke and my eyes welled up with tears. When I finally had to respond to his information, my voice cracked and I couldn’t control the tears.

We hung up the phone and I just sat there for what seemed like forever. I held Carmine so tight and tried to gather my emotions before calling Freddy and my mother.

After making those calls, which were the hardest phone calls I’ve had to make, my phone rang again.

This time it was Dr. Nakamura’s office calling to set up our appointment. The woman on the phone was very nice and after scheduling us for 10am the next morning, she informed me that the doctor said “please do not google it! We will discuss everything tomorrow.”

Easier said than done. Being that I had already googled it a million times since we learned of the possibility, I was able to refrain for one night. My mom and Freddy, however, were researching the internet like kids drafting a research paper at 2am the night before the due date!

There was definitely a reason he said not to google – the internet is filled with devastating information.

Thankfully, the next day provided a much more uplifting picture of our future.

From the moment my mom, Freddy, Carmine and I arrived at the doctors office, I had a good feeling. The walls of the waiting area, every hallway, and each of the patient rooms were covered from floor to ceiling in artwork. Whether it was a Mickey Mouse painting or a abstract colorful canvas, it created such an interesting and bright environment.

We saw the nurse first and she was super informative and truthful.

“Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.

In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, sticky buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other organs. In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure. In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients.”

Well, that sure is a mouthful. And is definitely a hard reality to face. We listened as she explained the disease to us and millions of questions raced through our heads – will he live a normal life? do we need to seclude him so he doesn’t get sick? can he attend normal school? can he even be around his brother?

We were mostly quiet and listened, until she explained his treatments that would begin immediately. He would need to take an enzyme pill before every meal. I asked how long this would be necessary, and her answer was short: “his entire life.” I don’t know why this hit me so hard, but the tears just wouldn’t stop after receiving that answer. I think it was the first time it hit me.

I had just been going to the appointments and doing the tests and showing up when I was told to, and that was the first time it was real – my son has a disease that will not go away. A disease without a cure.

Ugh. Even typing it now is difficult to do without tearing up.

After the nurse was finished with us, it was time to meet the doctor. He is incredible! Although he deals with children battling a chronic illness every day, you would never know it! He was positive and bright and exactly what we needed!

He reassured us that Carmine would live a normal life, and said to let him run outside with his brother and play soccer and enjoy his childhood! This was shocking to us as we envisioned having to keep him in a bubble. He also explained why he advised us not to google the disease. The statistics found online stating that CF patients only live to their 30’s are outdated. Those patients diagnosed in the 70’s and 80’s didn’t have the benefit of the advanced research and medicine that those diagnosed now have. He actually said that Carmine was lucky to be born when he was and to be diagnosed so early (2 weeks), because his body will begin benefiting from the medicine and it won’t be playing catch up!

In fact, he even said he’s hopeful that they will find a cure in his lifetime! AMEN!!!!!

I will make sure I do everything in my power to help that happen!

So for now, we do 1 1/2 enzyme pills before every meal, sneak salt packets into his diet, give him a multivitamin every day, and do a breathing treatment with chest pounding 1-3 times a day (depending on how his lungs are doing).

Being the to-do list type of person I am (maybe controlling), when we left the doctor’s office I needed some way to take back control of this. So I organized it all. I bought a vitamin tray which helps us divide the enzymes for his correct dosages. I stocked up on apple sauce, which helps him take down the little capsules, and I got a wipe off board for the pantry walk where I keep track of whether Carmine received his correct treatments each day. For me, it helps to feel in control. The disease is not running our lives, we are running it.

And honestly, I can’t imagine going through this without family and friends. We tried to keep it hush until we knew more information so that we could answer people’s questions, but once we started telling family and friends, the support was so incredible!

My bestie Amanda brought over homemade applesauce and even bought small containers so I could take them on the go! Everyone who knew was constantly checking up on him, making sure we were ok and bringing food to comfort us. My sister came with me to one of his doctor’s appointments so she could learn more and constantly sends me information she finds on people living normally with the disease.

Our village is amazing! We think of this disease as a minor inconvenience and something totally manageable. At first, it was devastating and felt like the end of the world, but now I know that we can handle this. Our precious little one (who is currently napping in my arms) will be healthy and happy! His life may not be just like everyone else’s, but that’s because he is special and meant for greatness.

With only 30,000 people in America with the disease, I’d say they are more than special!

So you may be wondering why this post is called Sixty Five Roses. Well, when doctors explain the disease to children, it’s easier to say 65 Roses, as opposed to Cystic Fibrosis. This is what we’ve taught Oliver, and he is such a big help when his brother does his treatments. That’s him below holding Carmine’s Nemo nebulizer.

If you search #sixtyfiveroses on Instagram, you can explore other strong CF patients’ journeys.

May was CF Awareness month, and it was the goal to get this posted during that month. Life happens, and that post didn’t happen, but I hope that this post helps educate anyone who has never heard of CF (like us) and helps give hope to other parents dealing with a diagnosis. If you’re thinking of having children, I recommend getting tested so that you can determine whether you are a carrier. Knowledge is power.

For more information on CF, visit the website for the CF Foundation whose mission is beautiful: “We will not rest until we find a cure!”

I know that one day Carmine will be featured on that website for making history as the healthiest CF patient ever!

-WeAreFremily

Xoxo

When life gives you lemons, you make it SPRINKLE!

So, it’s probably a little backwards to be writing a post about your baby shower while nursing your baby at 2:20 am, but I figured – better late than never! AND this shower was way too incredible not to post about!

When my mom mentioned throwing a sprinkle for Carmine – what you throw instead of a shower for a woman who has had a baby in the past 2-3 years – I was so excited/guilty feeling because it seems like my friends and family have thrown me a million parties in recent years! Bridal shower, bachelorette party, baby shower, birthday parties! They just spoil me!

Bridal Shower w/ my Bow Bouquet

My Bridal Shower w/ my Bow Bouquet!

Oliver's Baby Shower

Opening presents at Oliver’s Baby Shower

It turns out that the sprinkle was supposed to be a surprise, but when my mom asked for a list of invitees, it kind of gave the surprise away! I adore surprises, but am so happy the cat was out of the bag because the anticipation for the sprinkle was something I totally adored!

Despite the fact that shower was not a surprise, all of the details were kept super secret! I wasn’t even allowed in my parents’ house for days before the shower (which was hard) because the girls were setting up and I couldn’t see a thing! This secrecy really got my excitement in high gear!

I kept trying to get little hints from Freddy about the theme, the decor, the food, etc., but he was sworn to top secret status! In the end, this was perfect because it made the day even more amazing!

Because I failed at every attempt to gain information on the shower, I switched my focus to What in the World am I Going to Wear?!?!?!?

When you’re 8 months pregnant and maybe didn’t stop eating M&M’s and tacos the entire pregnancy, the thought of finding a dress for your shower is quite a dreadful task, especially when all maternity stores frighten you with weird patterns and colors! Yikes!

For my shower with Oliver, I ended up in a simple non-maternity black knee length dress from H&M and an amazing feather headpiece made by my sister (which was actually made for our engagement shoot). The idea was “look at my headpiece instead of my fat booty!” Haha!

So, for this sprinkle, I wanted to step outside of my all black box and switch it up a little. Given the fact that my belly just kept growing, I set out on this mission (dragging Freddy and Oliver along) the week of the sprinkle in hopes that I wouldn’t outgrow the dress before the party.

We started at the Fashion Show Mall here in Vegas, as they have every store you could need, including the Disney Store and LEGO Store for Oliver! Long story short, I ended up with 6 dresses (literally) from H&M and two amazing wrap dresses from Free People. **Attention clothing designers: please make a maternity line that isn’t traditional and so “mom” like!**

Because none of the dresses were PERFECT, my hunt was still on. The night before the shower, I tried again – this time racing into a local mall with Oliver and my nephew Elliot in tow (and in CoCo makeup from my niece’s birthday party – see below).

This time, there was no trying on anything! I just liked, grabbed, and double checked the return policy! The outcome was another 6 dresses from H&M, a black free people dress (which is the same as my “go-to” white Free People dress I wore during our Babymoon), and a dress that was definitely outside my color wheel, but caught my attention nonetheless – none of which were tried on!

When I got home, I finally tried them all on – over and over again! I kept narrowing them down each time, but couldn’t make a decision! Then, I tried on the black H&M Dress from Oliver’s baby shower, and came to the conclusion that I would either wear that dress (to be safe) or the red (out of my color wheel) dress, just to spice things up a bit.

Side note- I REALLY wanted to wear this amazing pantsuit from Zara that I wore for my maternity shoot, but I realized that you can’t sprinkle in your photo shoot outfit! It just ain’t right!

Back on track….

On the morning of the sprinkle, I still hadn’t made up my mind. The only thing I had decided was that I would let Freddy choose, as my pregnancy brain just would NOT settle on one of the dresses! Before I left for my blow-out (which is an experience that deserves its own blog post – but I will spare you the frightening details), I tried them both on one last time, and Freddy immediately chose the RED! This was surprising to me because he and I are all about black, but looking back, I am so glad that I trusted him. It was the perfect vibe! I paired it with my DYLANLEX Falkor II Necklace and the DYLANLEX Earrings I borrowed from my bestie (sorry, couldn’t find a link on the website) and my nude heels from our wedding (a little nostalgia), and I was set!

img_8974

Now, the entire time – literally up until I was writing this blog post – I thought this dress was Free People! It was in the same section at the store as the Free People items and because of the flowy-ness of the dress, I assumed it was Free People. Well, I was wrong! The dress is made by Chelsea and Violet! My apologies to anyone who asked about the dress on my Insta! I definitely steered you wrong!

So, with the dress choice made for me and with my hair redone (by me when I got home), I was ready for the sprinkle!

Well…on the outside I was ready! On the inside I was little bits of excited, nervous, anxious, giddy, and all of the other awesome emotions that come with knowing that all of your favorites are going to be in one place and that your amazing family has fussed over you and your little baby for weeks!

Freddy and Oliver drove me to my moms house where the sprinkle was being held, and on the way, I had to selfie to pass the time so I didn’t babble like an anxious crazy woman!

When we arrived at my parents’ house, my nerves were in high gear! I remember having this same feeling when walking into my bridal shower- like, wait, this is happening! Today is the day! Yay!

Because no outfit is complete without a hat, and hats are like my Linus security blanket, I had to top off the outfit with my favorite Sisters of the Black Moon matador hat before going into the house!

When I entered the house, it became clear very quickly that this was no sprinkle! This was not even a shower! This was a torrential downpour of love- and lemons! My expression when walking in says it all!

As my sister Betsy would say: I was shook! Every inch of this house was a Pinterest DREAM!!! Because our little nugget was to be named Carmine, my family went with a Tuscan Italian theme for the sprinkle and it was just beautiful! I think Italian, New York Mafia would have been a bit much for a baby shower…

My sweet husband sent these flowers to my parents’ house for the Shower 🙂

Beautiful cake and desserts from Freeds Bakery

And that was just in the living room and formal dining area! I hadn’t even gotten to the kitchen yet!

Before I could, I was greeted with loving, beautiful hellos from my family and friends! I just soaked it all in! I was overwhelmed by the amount of love that had gone into the “sprinkle” and the love that I felt from everyone in the room! Bursting with emotions!

My beautiful family -they worked HARD on this Shower!! 

In case you noticed; yes, that is a stain on my dress from me being a fatty and trying pasta with my fingers and dropping it on myself!! Oops!

Could my friends and family be more GORGEOUS????

After saying hello to everyone in the entryway, I ventured into the kitchen and was blown away by the rest of the set-up and decor!

All guests signed a large wooden “C” for Carmine’s nursery!

Having guests write their address on envelopes for a raffle is the best game ever invented!

They know me too well! You better hashtag!

I swear- this was more gorgeous than some weddings I’ve seen! Every little detail was perfection!!!

After more guests arrived, everyone migrated into the living room (aka- reception hall) for lunch. As if the decor and finishing touches weren’t perfect enough, my adorable father had made all of the food! Amazing pasta, bruschetta, chicken, shrimp cocktails, and the list goes on! He’s not really one for the center of attention, so once he was done with his culinary delights, he headed upstairs and got out of dodge!

Ever since I can remember, we’ve had Sunday family dinners! Growing up, they were at my grandmother’s home, and now, we go to my parents’ home. Papa cooks pasta, the kids run around playing like crazy monkeys, and the rest of us talk over each other, drink wine, and laugh- way too loud! It’s perfect.

All of my friends know of this tradition, and after they tasted papa’s food, they all asked when they could join for Sunday dinner! Yep – he is that good!

**Fun Fact** The day after the shower marked Eight Years since the day Freddy and I met in New York at my CD Release Party!

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Once again…back on track!

As we finished lunch and after we played some games (including a game involving guessing how much a basket of baby supplies from Target was, the drawing of the addressed envelopes – which is a life saver when writing thank you cards – and the clothes pin game), it was time for cake!

These two beautiful Jennifers tied for the clothes pin game! Double winners!

Just as the cake was brought into the living room, the party had a special guest arrival….

Oliver came racing into the party, and – as if it were a well choreographed scene from a movie – I just happened to be standing directly in his path and he gave me the sweetest bear hug ever! All of my friends and family were so excited to see him, and he was greeted with applause and shouts! He loved being the center of attention – he is definitely my son!

As the timing was perfect, he helped mommy cut the cake! It was almost a sin to chop into this beautiful cake – marble and real flowers – but Oliver’s face made it all worth it!

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My Heart! 

After cake, I insisted on a group photo! We took one at my bridal shower and Oliver’s baby shower, and I just adore capturing all of the love from my family and friends in one photo!

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My Bridal Shower!

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Oliver’s Baby Shower!

Carmine’s Baby Shower!

I love each and every one of these people so much and they have each impacted my life in amazing ways! I can’t thank them enough for being incredible and for always being there for me and my family!

Once the group photo was done, it was time for some fun shots! Shots as in photos, not drinks! It’s a Baby Shower people! Haha!

As this Shower was over the top Pinterest perfect, it wasn’t complete without a personalized mobile photo booth/prop – and this one was ADORABLE!!

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I mean seriously with this Shower -PERFECTION!!

As my little ham saw the photo-boothing fun, he had to get in on the action! He was so excited – he wanted to jump right through the booth!

Because we were having so much fun, I didn’t realize hours had passed and my friends and family probably had places to be! Sadly, we began to say our goodbyes.

Per one of my sisters’ advice, we waited to open presents until after people left, and thank goodness we did! Between the fact that our friends and family completely SPOILED Carmine, and that I needed to stop and cry and talk about each adorable outfit or toy, opening presents took at least two hours, even with the help from the kids!!

The great thing about the shower being at my parents’ house is that after the party, the party continued with my brother-in-laws and all of the grandkids coming over for Sunday dinner! I continued to be on cloud nine from the shower and wanted to savor every moment!

Another amazing thing is that our family and friends were so thoughtful and included big brother Oliver in their gifts! He even received a big brother medal, big brother matching teddy bears with Carmine, and big brother books! I really feel like these gifts helped – it made Oliver feel that it was important that HE was the big brother, and not just that there was going to be a new baby in town. He loved his gifts and had us read the books to him several times each night before Carmine came!

As I look back on Carmine’s Shower, I cant help but feel so extremely lucky to have such an amazing family and so many incredible friends who surround my little family with so much love!

My smile in this photo is so genuine and pure – I hope that I can make others that blissfully happy – although I don’t know how I’d EVER top this Shower!

-WeAreFremily

Xoxo

13:13

It is incredible how an image can make you feel. As I started to type the story of Carmine’s birth and selected the featured image for the post, I was overwhelmed with emotions – the bond that formed between our little Carmine and my mother in the first moments of his life is so beautiful. I know I am getting ahead of myself, but I promised to be truthful in our posts, so that is the truth of how this post started.

For those of you don’t know, we have a two-year-old son, Oliver Patrick, who was delivered via C-Section because he just did not want to flip around for mommy! Believe me, it was not for lack of trying – I literally did handstands in the pool the night before he was born to try to trick him into flipping! Naturally, he could not be fooled.

Luckily, when we went to the hospital to try to flip him via a “Version” – aka, a really painful sounding procedure – I was having contractions so the doctors ordered a C-Section immediately.  While I had originally cried at the thought of having a C-Section because I wanted to be a “real mother”, after researching how lucky we are in the U.S. to have the option of a C-Section versus trying to deliver a baby upside-down, I came to the realization that I just wanted a healthy little baby, no matter the method.  Long story short, I loved the C-Section and was lucky enough to have a great recovery.

So, when our doctor was discussing the option and risks associated with doing a V-Back (not doing a C-Section for Carmine), I did not hesitate to get our C-Section scheduled! Once again, I just wanted a healthy baby and was over my feeling of not being a “real mother” if I did not go through labor.

March 27, 2018 – that was our day! Kind of strange to get to select your child’s birthday, but for any working mom out there, you can probably appreciate the fact that you could have your delivery on calendar, after you wrap an important conference call or make a necessary Court appearance, as opposed to having the unknown.

After checking off a million little details from our to-do list (p.s. I love to-do lists), Freddy, Oliver and I were finally ready for sleep on the night before the big day! Oliver had just transitioned into his big boy bed after sleeping in OUR bed for 2 1/2 years, and I laid with him one last time to tell him bedtime stories as an only child. When I got back to our bed, with our hospital bags packed on the floor, I was oddly calm and content, with a feeling of Christmas Eve excitement in my tummy. Freddy, on the other hand, didn’t sleep a wink! I think he was worried about the C-Section (he calls it “Major Surgery”), whereas I was only focused on holding our little man!

Morning came, and we all scurried around the house to get ready for the big day. It felt like we were leaving on a trip – a really amazing and important trip that would result in us bringing home a new life – ya know, no big deal.

Before we headed out of the house for the last time as a family of three, I, of course, insisted that we get a family photo. And I am glad I did. I adore the way Oliver is cuddling Freddy and, in looking at this photo, I can feel the excitement all over again.

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Because we were going to be in the hospital for a few days following the delivery, Big Brother Oliver was set to stay with my mother, aka “Mama”, during that time. I am not sure if Oliver wanted to bring toys for Carmine or if he was subconsciously reverting back to his younger years, but he turned the cute WAAAYYY up that morning and went around gathering all of his stuffed toys to bring to Mama’s. He could barely carry them all!

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If that face doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what would! He was so genuinely excited! Side-note: about a week or so before the delivery, he began carrying a small white bunny (in the bottom of his pile in the photo) with him everywhere and insisting that his “Baby” sleep with him. It was just too precious – like he was preparing for Carmine.

After Oliver gathered all of his toys and Freddy packed the car to the brim, we were off.  The C-Section was scheduled for 12:30, which required a 10:30 arrival. To avoid Oliver having to sit at the hospital for hours and so that he could get some special Mama time, we brought Oliver and Ludacris (our Yorkie) to Mama’s house before going to the hospital. On the way, we had to document:

After dropping Oliver and Luda off at Mamas, we were off to the hospital. My Christmas Eve jitters continued, and I was begging with Freddy to drive faster – I just needed to get there! When we arrived, I could tell that Freddy was nervous – he wanted to leave our bags in the car and was convinced we wouldn’t have a room right away. I (luckily) insisted that we bring everything with us, which included our two over-night bags, the diaper bag with Carmine’s goodies, Freddy’s backpack with electronic essentials, and two over-sized gift bags.

These gift bags were probably the most important of the load. My cousin and some other mommies gave me some really amazing advice that I highly recommend anyone reading follows: Get a present for the new baby from the older sibling, and get a present for the older sibling from the new baby. We did this with Oliver – letting him pick out Carmine’s presents and talking about how Carmine would be bringing a present for Oliver! It seemed to help make the addition of this new baby an exciting thing – after all, he was bearing gifts!

When we finally lugged all of our stuff into the hospital, I could tell that Freddy’s nervousness had shifted to me – I was talking to everyone in the hospital as loud as can be and giggling like a little girl. Freddy just shook his head laughing at me (and maybe hushing me).

Needless to say, I was right and we were given our own room to settle into and start the process! After filling out a million documents and changing into the Oh So attractive hospital gown, the waiting game began.

Naturally, to take up time, Freddy and I conducted our own photoshoot with the timer on the iPhone! haha! Luckily my sister is a photographer (Gardenia Lane Photography) and came in shortly thereafter.

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After we confirmed that the 12:30 start time was still the plan, we sent a text to our group family text and family members began to arrive.

Oliver and Mama arrived first, and I am not sure if Oliver thought it was weird that mommy was laying in the bed with all the machines around and that daddy was scrubbed up, but he quickly put on the gear to get into the game! My sister, her husband and son arrived shortly thereafter, and the real photos began!

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Oliver was definitely curious and kept checking on me… so sweet!

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This photo is my heart!

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By the way – we had the most amazing nurses and staff at the hospital – “Have a Birthday Party!!” That’s what I am talkin’ about!

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Oliver was so excited when Papa – my dad- showed up!

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Oliver loved playing with his big cousin Elliot and feeling like a big boy!

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I am not sure who did it, but I LOVE that Oliver ended up in bed with me. It was a beautiful moment for he and I before his brother came into this world. He was so sweet and gentle, and just wanted to see his baby brother – “Come out!” he said!  haha!

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I love that my sister captured this special moment before my brother-in-law took Oliver out of the room to wait for his brother to arrive.

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I am not sure if I am comforting Freddy here, or he is comforting me (or if we are just posing – haha), but I adore this moment with just the two of us!

And with that, it was go time! The nurse directed Freddy and I down the hall (the same hall from Oliver’s delivery) to the operating room. There was definitely some nervous/excited energy flowing between us as we walked holding hands – eeeekk! Our little man was about to be here! Side note: thank goodness that they have improved those hospital gowns in the back, or this shot would have been riskaaaayyyy! haha!

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Once we got to the operating room, I was led inside to get prepped up, while Freddy stood outside the window – probably a nervous wreck! He was so sweet! I could see him peeking through the blinds and when we’d catch each other’s eyes, he’d give me the sweetest smile and wave.

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The rest of my family had to wait outside the hallway, and, from the look of this picture, my mother was anxious as well. It is so amazing to have such love and support around us during these special times. I am constantly reminded of how lucky we are.

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Back in the operating room, the nurses finished getting me ready for the procedure, and Freddy was permitted into the room. He immediately came to my side and began to chat with me about what was happening. He wanted the anesthesiologist to give us a play by play of what was going on (there is a sheet up so mom and dad can’t see anything), but I quickly reminded them both that ignorance is bliss, and that I DID NOT want to know – my imagination was already running wild!

After some tugs and laughs, he was here! Yes, laughs – when the doctor pushed on my stomach to help C come out, I could not help but to bust out laughing! It didn’t hurt, it was just a strange feeling and all I could do was laugh! This sent the room into laughter. I guess that was the first time a mother laughed out her child! I think this means that Carmine will have a good sense of humor, maybe even be a comedian!

Either way, he will definitely be a ham like his brother – While we didn’t get a cry right away, he came out with both hands raised in the air as if to say “Hello World! I am here!!”

I remember the overwhelming feeling of joy and completeness when they announced he had arrived: 13:13 – the time of his birth (My lucky little nugget!). The room seemed to stop at that moment and all of my fears fell away – all that was left was a feeling of being so blessed.

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After they cleaned him up and Freddy did the honor of cutting the chord, the amazing nurse orchestrated our first photo together. My smile says it all – this was a moment of pure bliss. I felt my body shaking with excitement (well, the parts I could feel anyhow – haha) and the tears rolling down my face. I couldn’t wait for Oliver to meet his brother.

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At some point after our family photo, I assume that Freddy went out to tell everyone that all was good and that Carmine was just the most adorable thing ever! Then, it was time for proud daddy to introduce his baby to the world! Freddy kissed my head to say goodbye and led Carmine out of the hallway and back to our hospital room where everyone awaited his arrival! The entire family was at the hospital by then! They definitely filled up the room!

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From what I was told, the most beautiful thing happened next. Little C was crying, as newborn babies do, and my mother – “Mama” – reached into the cradle and held his little hand to let him know she was there and that everything was ok. At that moment, the bond that only a grandmother and grandson could have was formed and he was silent. No more tears. No more fear. He was completely content and calm knowing his Mama was there. His little grip did not let go, and he even held tight as the nurse turned him upside down and around to complete her check-up.  When Mama would move her hand even the slightest, he would cry for it back.

When my sister sent us the images from Carmine’s birth, my heart overflowed with emotions as I clicked on these images. It is so strong – Carmine will always have someone there to hold him when he is scared, to calm him when he is nervous, and to love him no matter what. YU9A2883YU9A2884YU9A2886YU9A2887YU9A2897YU9A2899YU9A2902

As I stayed in the operating room while the doctors completed the procedure, we passed the time by talking about my perfect little Oliver and how he was going to be the best big brother. We also chatted about his perfect long curly hair, and how Freddy wants to cut it. Each of the doctors and nurses had a story wherein their husband took the baby for the first haircut and FAILED!! Well, looks like haircuts are off limits to daddy! Mommy wins! haha

Once the procedure was done, I was quickly taken back into the hospital room where my family waited with Carmine. Now, because I knew that I would be in the operating room for a while after Carmine and Freddy met up with our family, I had one request that I made very known – Please do not let Oliver meet Carmine without me! I wanted to be there for that special moment!

Lucky for me, my sister is a photographer who has tremendous experience in newborn photography, and she assured me that she had a plan to ensure that the brothers did not meet without me there! As I was brought into the room, I told myself that I was not going to be upset if the meeting already happened – after all, a healthy baby is truly the only concern.

When we rounded the corner to enter the room, I was immediately reassured that no meeting had taken place! Phew! Real life – I would have been so sad if I missed it.

The plan for the brothers to meet worked perfectly! Freddy brought Carmine over towards my bed and at that moment, my brother-in-law walked in the room with Oliver. Oliver’s face was absolutely priceless! He literally had to blink several times as if to make sure that this was real.  His brother was finally here! Adorably, he wanted to touch Carmine’s toes and has continued to love to touch his toes since that time. It is his connection with him.

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I will treasure these photos and videos forever, and love that Oliver and Carmine will have them as reminders of when their bond as brothers began. I know that they will be the best of friends, with Oliver taking care of his brother and Carmine always looking up to Oliver and wanting to be just like him.

Following the meeting, we made sure that Oliver opened his present from Carmine – Ghostbusters backpack, books and a toy – and that Oliver brought Carmine his presents – a plush bunny and an adorable Camel stuffed animal with a small blanket. Oliver was so excited for his gift and LOVED being able to give his brother his special present. This idea was truly genius and I would highly recommend it!

After the nurse gave Carmine and I some skin-to-skin time (which is so magical), our family came back in and Oliver insisted, again, on touching his baby’s feet. Just too adorably sweet! As it had been an eventful day for little Oliver, he said his goodbyes and Mama took him home for a much needed nap (he fell asleep before they even left the parking lot – it was a lot for a little guy to take).

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Once we were all cleared by the doctor, it was time to move to our permanent room for the next three days. Freddy and my bestie gathered all of our bags and we caravanned down the hallways and into our new room. Once we were there, we had more family and friends come by to see little C. It was so amazing to be surrounded by such love!

With that, we were all pooped and needed a good night’s sleep. As I am sure most parents can relate, all I wanted to do was stare at Carmine all night! I was definitely a stalker mommy!

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The next morning, our family and friends couldn’t wait to see little C again, and our day was filled with visitors – which we loved! Special appearances by Freddy’s brother and dad from New York! They face-timed the rest of the family so that they could see Carmine first-hand!

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My mom also came back to visit, and, like clockwork, Carmine grabbed a hold of her finger and would not let go!

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Big brother also had a very special day – he got to hold his baby for the first time! He was so sweet and gentle and loving! He wanted to kiss him everywhere – forehead, tummy, hands, toes…he just wouldn’t stop. It was so tender and real. No one told him to be that way, he just naturally had the loving and caring nature in him. He made mommy so proud. IMG_3403 2

Day two also involved walking for the first time – me, not Carmine. haha! As Freddy and I made laps around the hallways we couldn’t help but to recreate a photo we had of Freddy and Oliver from his birth – same polka dot swaddle and all!

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Daddy and Carmine!

Daddy and Oliver!

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By the third day, we were ready to be out and to get home to Luda and Oliver!

After completing all of the paperwork, making more laps around the halls, and watching the required videos on how to be a parent (which I dreaded watching but were actually very informative), we were ready for discharge!

Like any responsible parent would do, we had Carmine’s going home outfit planned for weeks. It was the most perfect little black and white outfit from Nununu Our check-out time was quickly extended, however, when we went to put him in the carseat and realized that he had his first accident in the adorable going home outfit (palm to face)! Luckily, we packed extra clothes and he looked just as adorable in his little onesie and pants – keeping the Nununu beanie on of course!

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Our drive home was quick (after stopping at the pharmacy and Jamba Juice) and we were met by big brother Oliver and MAMA! Oliver wanted to hold his brother right away and would not take no for an answer.

Once again, he cradled Carmine in his arms and snuggled his nose down for a shower of kisses. This is another one of those moments I will never forget and one of those memories I will treasure forever.

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I know that my boys will have their moments of fighting over toys and who gets to drive the car, but I am confident that they will always have love for each other and will always have a strong bond as brothers and best friends.

They say that it takes a village to raise I child, and I feel so blessed that our village is filled with loving, caring and supportive friends and family who would go to the ends of the earth for our boys.  Reliving these memories through this post has reiterated that truth for me, and I am grateful that I didn’t just let the memories pass by without taking a moment to recognize that.

I am excited to see where this new adventure will take our family and I will do my best to not let months go by (again) without sharing our stories.

-WeAreFremily

xoxox

Ollie’s Monster Mash 👻

As one could assume from the last post, our Halloween celebrations were far from over! In fact, the real fun was just beginning!

While getting ready for our Trick or Treating Party, we made sure to carve time out to attend an event my siblings, cousins and I attended for years as children. From the time I can remember, my grandparents have always lived in an incredible neighborhood, outlined by a horse trail and surrounding a barn, packed with horses and all the fun that goes with it!

Every Halloween, all of the families in the neighborhood (and grandkids) would go to the barn for a Halloween Bash! There was a full costume parade, bobbing for apples contest, carnival games in empty horse stalls, and more candy than you could imagine!

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Two of my siblings and I at the Barn Party! Always knew I was a little witchy!

When my grandma sent a text to our group family text that the Barn Party was on for this year, we all immediately made sure we were on the list!! After soccer in the morning and running some necessary party errands – more spiders, ice cube eyeballs, and new batteries for strobes – we started to get in our Halloween Party gear! As you can imagine, by this time, we had the bug consume DOWN!

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Once we were all bugged out, we were on our way to the Barn – but not without doing a little live video on the drive!

The moment we arrived, and this little bug stepped out of the car, the DJ was obsessed with Oliver’s costume- over the mic he went on for at least 2 minutes about how cool the outfit was! Naturally, the lightning bug was the winner of the costume contest and won an entire $1 Dollar Bill!!!  W I N N E R !! 

Luckily, Oliver’s cousin hadn’t arrived yet, because these two would have been neck and neck! Do you die over this adorable Skunk!?!?

Because we were at a Barn, we absolutely had to feed the horses!! Oliver was loving them, and so was mommy! I definitely wasn’t the horse whisperer, but I tried to be tough – until the horse decided to slobber all over my bag! HAHA!

Since mommy wasn’t the winner of the costume contest, I stole my nephew’s Championship Belt from his Connor McGregor costume – it was a great accessory for the belly! HaHa!

In addition to the costume contest, there was a Simon Says contest (which Oliver did not understand), a donut eating contest (which I clearly should have participated in) and, of course, a dance contest! When the DANCE PARTY started, Oliver needed to shed some skin and wings – he literally looked like the singer from The Darkness!! Shiny Pants and all!!

We were pooped after the dance contest and needed to get back to our Halloween Party planning – a quick stop for Thai food and then our one hundredth Target trip!

The next days were spent decorating the house, making treats for the kiddos, and stopping at our favorite bakery, Freed’s Bakery, to pick up some yummy spooks!

Oh, and the night before Halloween, Oliver’s teacher sent out an email informing us that the kids could wear their Halloween costumes to school on Halloween. Well, given the amount of times he had already worn the bug costume and the fact that he would likely begin to hate the headpiece about 10 minutes into class, we were on the hunt for a last minute new costume! Which, might I add, is not something I would recommend!

Nevertheless, we went to a Spirit Halloween store on Halloween eve to find a costume, and, in addition to wanting to make all of the scary animatronics come to life, Oliver fell in love with a Woody costume! It had the boots, hat and all!

Halloween morning, mommy and Oliver had the most fun getting ready for work and school!

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Moms? Are you in there??
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I forgot to mention – My Wonder Woman costume was a super amazing find!

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We always go into Star Costume here in Vegas a couple of days before Halloween, and meet with the AMAZING designer there, BOB, and literally say “Dress us!” He never lets down!

Last year we were Circus Freaks – yes, that is me in the beard, Oliver in the muscles, and daddy in the turban!

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And one year he even convinced me to wear this Effie costume even though I had never seen the Hunger Games movie!

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Anyhow, back to this year. Oliver loved his Woody costume and was so proud to show it off to all of his friends at school!

Mommy also had too much fun at work!  I found Batman and learned how a modern day super hero carries her sword and shield! haha!

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While I was at work, poor Freddy was running around town getting all of our last minute goodies, including a new car (check his Insta for all the details).

By the time mommy got home, Oliver was ready to party and Trick or Treat!! And Daddy, or should I say “Salt Bae”, was ready to cook some meat for the party – we opted for pizza instead!

After ordering the pizza, we scurried about to get all the last minute details ready to go, while Oliver danced around to Halloween songs! Lucky for me, my sister – the adorable gnome – was able to fix the Sangria when she arrived! Here’s the thing, when you are preggers, you can’t do any taste testing, and boy was I not a good estimator!

Either way, with the help of family, everything was ready to go when the guests arrived – Meat Head Skeleton and all!

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Oliver is still using these pumpkin straws!!

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A party would not be complete without lollipop ghosts (childhood favorite)!

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And obvi – Elle and Barb!

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The Candy Corn nails are the best part of these spooky hands!

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My favorite “Meat Head” appetizer tray!

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Capri Sun Mummies are my Mommy go-to!

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Freed’s Cupcakes! Yum!

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Oliver may have redesigned the “Oct” – he felt it looked better upside down! ha!

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A little dry ice goes a long way!

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Oliver was fascinated by these Spooky Strawbabays! Thanks Freed’s!

As the guests started to arrive, Oliver was more excited than I had seen him all month – “Cousins, Friends, Halloween!!!”

It wasn’t long after our party started, that the doorbell began to ring non-stop! This, surprisingly, was Oliver’s most favorite part! He ADORED running to the door and shoveling handfuls of candy to the neighbors, and he and daddy even invited some neighbors in for the fun! The more the merrier!

After everyone arrived, and we did our Monster Potato Sack Race, a Dance Party (Oliver shaking his tushie to Fireball), and took the obligatory Group Photo, we were ready for Trick or Treating Time!

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LOVE these monsters!

With that, we were off! Now, because we were a big group, we got split up into two or three smaller groups – the bigger kids who could run from house to house, the littles who had parents dragging them down, and the stroller crew!

No worries though, we were never too far behind each other!

Oliver simply loved Trick or Treating, and was quick to whisper “Trick or Treat” the moment the doors opened, all while Freddy introduced himself to the different neighbors, explained where we lived, and invited them over- he’s a real Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood kind of dad! haha! Oliver got so excited with each house (and all the candy), that he started chanting “Next House! Next House!” – too stinking cute!!

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Pulling Mommy while singing “Next House! Next House!” #BlurCity

When our (OR MY) feet got tired from walking the neighborhood and Oliver’s bag was almost too heavy for him to carry, we headed back to the house to check out all of the goodies he had received!

Just like I remember doing as a kid, Oliver immediately sat on the floor and poured out his little pumpkin sack to count (and eat) all of his treats! Luckily, he has enough aunts and a mommy to help with any candy that is “poison” – so we had to save him and eat it ourselves!

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Had to get some pizza in as well!

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Two for me, One for you!

So – I can’t believe I went all this way without mentioning my favorite decoration! Our Stranger Things backdrop!

This was a last minute find at Spirit Halloween and we HAD TO HAVE IT!!! It provided the perfect photo opp and was super easy to put together! I secretly want it as our headboard – Freddy would never agree!

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In case you haven’t seen the movie- this is us!

After taking all of the required Chief and Wonder Woman photos, I realized that I wasn’t taking enough Instagram videos! I love to capture our memories, and I was worried I had failed! haha! So, I asked Freddy to use my phone to take some videos of the party, and BOY WAS THAT A MISTAKE!!

He came up with this idea to do Boomerangs of everyone – the only catch is that he wasn’t actually taking Boomerangs, so it just ended up with all of us looking ridiculous! It actually was hilarious – and you can tell that he was really getting a kick out of himself!

Once I caught on that my Instagram was being used for ill purposes, I quickly retrieved it and saved our guests! We continued the night and had many more dance parties and ate way too much pizza! The night ended with a little Stranger Things send off….

It goes without saying that Oliver was not happy when his friends started to leave for the night – he just didn’t understand why????

It is probably also obvious that he did not understand that Halloween was, in fact, over the next morning! He insisted on wearing a skeleton shirt (which has a belly filled with candy – very fitting) and holding his Skeleton bird – which he wanted to bring to school soooo bad!

Oliver’s tummy wasn’t the only thing filled the next morning! Clearly, Mommy’s little pumpkin wanted to make an appearance, and the morning after Halloween, there was certainly a little POP!!! It made me so happy to see our little one saying hello to the world and “hello – you are getting tight” to my wardrobe! haha! Real life, maternity clothes are going to be my best friend soon!

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Another fun baby-related event happened this week – Oliver felt the baby kicking for the first time and was soooooooo excited! He pulled his hand away immediately and told daddy that it was his turn and that he HAD to feel the baby kicking – it was too adorable! Now, every morning and night he puts his hand on my belly just in case his baby is awake (my heart melts every time).

Now, I’d like to be able to end there, but once Oliver got wind that Halloween was truly over, it was not a good day!

While in Target getting some wrapping paper for his cousin’s second birthday in California – which will be featured in the next blog – Oliver begged to go to the Halloween section. Much to his dismay, it was all G O N E!!

As you can tell from his expression, he was devastated that Halloween was donezo.

I am happy to report, however, that he has since somewhat embraced Christmas – Thanksgiving doesn’t have enough spooks and doesn’t have Nightmare Before Christmas, which is a beautiful mixture of both holidays (thank the Lord)!

Hopefully, I will be able to report in the next blog that Oliver has fully given into the Thanksgiving holiday – Hey, it has pumpkins right?!?! Fingers crossed!

Thank you for reading and joining us on this journey!

-We Are Fremily!

xoxo

Halloween-icts Anonymous 🎃

Hi! WeAreFremily, and we are addicts- of Halloween!

It’s true- ever since Freddy and I met, Halloween was always our favorite holiday! I somehow got him to dress as a beautiful Snow White on our first Halloween together in San Francisco! And then we were Hamilton before Hamilton was cool (super hipsters)! The next year he convinced me to wear the heaviest headdress on earth (and space) for our Star Wars year- which was totally worth it, until I tried to walk through doorways! Ha!

Not only did we go BIG on our costumes, but we threw Halloween parties every year, filled with animatronic little girls eating brains, a bloody massacre kitchen with headless bloody mannequin bodies and a full size casket in the backyard. Real life! It was demented!

Obviously, when Oliver came along, we realized that we needed to scale things down a bit. So, with much kicking and screaming on my part, we had to leave all gory decorations in our storage- talk about separation anxiety!

Despite the fact that we left all of the frightening decor hidden, Oliver started to take a liking to Halloween! It may have been me whispering Halloween stories in his ear as he slept, but who knows?!

Last year, he didn’t have much choice. We just dressed him up and stuck him in between some pumpkins- he looked too adorable not to!

But this year, this little boy wanted to put out decorations before it was even October! We started with the “safe” decor – cartoon skeletons and pumpkins – and he adored it!! And so did Luda!

Don’t ask about the colorful shirt- Freddy made me wear it and I could only resist for so long. After Oliver was introduced to the kid friendly decor, every trip to Target resulted in him wanting more decorations and begging to go to the Halloween section. Of course, this included needing any Halloween outfit, shirt, pajamas, or accessory in sight! These mummy pajamas were no exception and immediately turned him into a scary Mummy!! .

In addition to the Target trips, every morning on the drive to school, we have to listen to toddler Halloween songs and sing every single line about witches flying all about, spiders crawling up the haunted house and zombies – his favorite character to imitate!

Another morning drive routine was watching the pumpkin patch down the street come to life. He would point it out each morning and waive hello to all the pumpkins: “Hi Punkins!”

Finally, one day the patch was complete and we promised to take him after school.

He, of course, needed to wear his favorite bat outfit, complete with a hoodie and bat ears (H&M), his bat mask (Pottery Barn Kids) and his favorite toy (Quack) ! Instead of placing him in the middle of pumpkins like last year, we literally had to chase him around the patch as he was overly excited to see all of the Halloween fun!

Luckily, we were able to get him to sit still long enough to get some family photos and the most adorable photos of him, some pumpkins and Quack! Don’t let his face fool you- he loved the animals in the petting zoo and wanted to pet them all.

When it came to deciding what Oliver would be for Halloween, it was a no-brainer! He absolutely LOVES anything Bug and so it was just a matter of which bug to be. One Saturday, we were looking through the haunted Pottery Barn Kids catalogue and he spotted the most perfect light up Lightning Bug! He immediately said “mine mine!” And with that, it was done!

We went into our local Pottery Barn Kids and they helped us order it in time to make sure we had it in time for our Halloween carnival. Once it arrived, he was in love and wanted to check out himself in the mirror and watch the eyes and tooshie light up!

We went to his big cousins’ Halloween carnival and he was definitely in his element! Halloween, dancing, spooky decorations and candy! As you can tell, he was one happy lightning bug!

Our Halloween fun couldn’t end there, so one Saturday after soccer we decided to decorate pumpkins. Daddy was in Puerto Rico working at the time, so I had to make sure we didn’t make too much of a mess- Freddy is a clean freak! We tried to keep it clean, but mummy’s are messy!!

Of course, Oliver made a spider pumpkin and mommy made a Mummy pumpkin- both of which needed to become part of the home decor! He was so proud!

Now, he is at the age where he is starting to have an opinion on everything, including his clothing. Monday morning (and every day that followed), he insisted on a spooky outfit! Thankfully, we were fully stocked up! This also correlated with the first time he didn’t cry at school- coincidence? I think not! He just needed his spooky vibe and he was fine!

Because of Oliver’s love of Halloween, his new little baby also needed some Halloween gear- of course! That’s where my sweet and Dracula-esque friend Chelsey came in and saved the day! Not even a week after she found out about our new little one, she sent the sweetest Halloween outfits for the new one and for Ollie! It was also the day daddy came home from Puerto Rico, so Oliver was sporting his shirt from daddy’s trip as well!

Now I know some of you are doing the math and thinking that a new born Halloween onesie will not be able to be worn in March…. well- lesson learned! Our little one will be rocking this thing all Spring long! It’s too cute not to!

In addition to Halloween being my favorite, I adore winter in general, primarily for the hats and beanies!! I have what some would call a seven-head (as opposed to a four-head), and so the moment I feel a breeze I’m in beanies all season long!

We were heading out of the house for another Halloween adventure, and Ollie wanted to match! Luckily, he has a matching black beanie that he ran to find and had to wear! #Twinning

So, this was our second pumpkin patch of the season, and the excitement and running tripled this time! I could not keep up with this crazy boy!!

The only thing that stopped him in his tracks this time were the animals. We decided to buy food to feed the animals this time, which I thought was a great idea. Well, I was wrong! He wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. Mommy ended up being a shield and he couldn’t wait to get out of that pen!

This pumpkin patch trip was not as long as the first- he literally ran himself to the ground, and we ended up leaving without any more pumpkins. Since we already had a million at home, we were okay with it!

Being a Vegas native, I like to pride myself in knowing all of the hot spots- which have significantly changed since being a mommy. More like splash pads and Gymboree as opposed to Bottle service and Marquee VIP, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Anyhow, I was introduced to the Opportunity Village Halloveen at the Magical Forest last year, and, after being shocked I didn’t know about it, I fell in love! So naturally, we had to take Oliver again this year! We met his cousins at the Magical Forest, which Oliver calls the Haunted Forest, and had way too much fun with light up swords, pumpkin patches, running from Jack Skeleton, running to Jack Sparrow, and sitting in a real police car (“Good guy” car).

With Oliver’s love of Halloween, when the teacher sent an email around saying that Pajama Day was coming up, we knew immediately that we were going to call the Mummy outfit “pajamas” no matter what- hey, he wore slippers with it! Totally night time gear if you ask me.

Once he put it on and I needed a photo, he turned into a zombie right away, with his tongue out and arms raised, while making moaning sounds. He’s a natural.

Now, no blog post would be complete without more of our little pumpkin in the mix! This week was week 17, and our little one was sure on the move! We visited the doctor on Wednesday and the baby was, in Oliver’s words, “super super big!” Maybe he was speaking of my tummy – who knows?!? Speaking of tummy, I felt our first real movement this week!! The night of our doctors appointment, we were getting ready for bed, and our little pumpkin clearly wanted more attention.

He or she began kicking or swimming or something- it was incredible! I remember the feeling with Oliver, but it was like this was brand new. For anyone out there with children, I’m sure you’d agree that it’s such a magical time when you can finally feel or see the first movements. Your connection with the baby is even more intense and, for me at least, I could sit and feel those flutters for hours!

With our little pumpkin growing, who knows what I’ll be able to fit this belly into for Halloween, but I’m sure to figure out something!

Trick or Treating is at our house this year, so keep an eye out for our Instastory capturing all of the fright!

Oh, and of course, check back for more posts about our Halloween and baby adventures!

Xoxoox

WeAreFremily

Our little succulent

As I lay in bed next to Oliver napping (yes – he is still in our bed, which warrants a blog all on its own), I can’t help but smile thinking about how he is going to be the most amazing big brother! Now, I know I am getting ahead of myself, but he surprises me every day! I can’t wait to see him teach our new little one all about the world! He already reads stories to my tummy, but I think his first lesson will be how to dunk Oreos! Haha!

So, Freddy and I have always discussed having more children. If you asked the 20 year old me, I would have said “six children please all before the age of 30,” (oops!) and if you asked the 20 year old Freddy, he would have ran the other direction. Needless to say, we have both grown in the right direction. I am now at three kids, and Freddy is more at two – so three it will be – haha!

Something we always agreed on was that we really wanted to give Oliver the chance to be an only child, to be the center of attention, and to have our undivided attention before bringing in another baby. And, obviously, he is the center of our WORLD!!

Photo by Kristen Kay Photography

We decided somewhere along the way that two years would be perfect! So, as you can imagine, after Oliver’s second birthday party (which also warrants its own blog post – pictures below), I began dropping the not-so-subtle hints about wanting another baby. Anyone who knows me is thinking right about now that me and subtle don’t really mix!

Well – I tried to be subtle anyway.

A couple of months later, we were laying in bed while Ollie napped on a Sunday afternoon, and I began to connect several dots in my life, including feeling a little queasy at a work lunch recently and having sudden desires for certain food (i.e., cravings). I didn’t want to jinx it, so I told Freddy I wasn’t going to take a test – I hate when they are negative but you both got excited about the possibility.

So, needless to say, I took a test in secret and it came back with a very clear

“P R E G N A N T” 

and my heart skipped a million beats!! So many thoughts raced through my head all in one millisecond! Once I was able to see straight, I quickly had to think of a good way to tell Freddy – because I tried not to get my hopes up, I hadn’t even thought about how to tell him – OOPS!

Then it came to me! I always draw bugs and hearts on the shower fog for Oliver, so I wrote “I AM PREGGERS” in the fog and told Freddy that he had to come in and see the new drawing I did for Ollie. He came in to see – not questioning why I drew something for Oliver even though he was sleeping – and I think his mouth literally hit the floor!

It was perfect timing, because he and I got to spend the next couple of minutes, just the two of us, basking in this joy! We just kept saying how lucky we were and how excited Oliver was going to be! Since we didn’t know how far along yet, we vowed to keep it a secret. Believe me, it was super hard, because that night we went to a family birthday party (photos below) and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!! Plus, I had to drink Mocktails all night hoping no one would notice.

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With my beautiful sis!

Obviously, first thing Monday morning, I called my doctor and asked to be squeezed into an appointment. We absolutely LOVE our doctor and all the staff, and it was so wonderful when the receptionist was overly excited to hear from us and that we were expecting another little one! They booked us for the first appointment she had open, and we waited anxiously for the day to arrive.

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Cuddling with my babies the day after we found out!

We have a tradition that we started with Oliver, where we record little video clips before or after each doctor appointment talking to the baby and telling the baby what we learned during the appointment or what we saw on the ultrasound. So, naturally, we had to continue the tradition with this baby.

We learned at that first appointment that I was super early still, so we decided to keep the secret for just a little longer.

Secret belly photo at the Philharmonic!

This plan lasted pretty good for a while. It was all going according to plan, until we were at my parent’s house for my nephew’s birthday party (the most amazing ROCK party ever – cake by my amazing cousin Melissa).

All of the party guests had left, and there was some garlic bread left on the counter. I, in my preggers way, started to eat the bread. This was apparently out of character for me, because my Grandmother gave me the strangest look, and said

“Emily, you’re eating bread? Are you pregnant?” Eeeeeeeek!!!!!

I brushed this off with a little laugh and quickly moved on. My adorably sweet Grandma felt like she had hurt my feelings, so she asked Freddy if I was upset. I could not bare the thought of my Grandma thinking she had hurt my feelings, and it did seem like the perfect timing…..So, after chatting it over with Freddy via looks across the room, and making sure all the fam was in the kitchen, I hugged my Grandma and announced to the family that Grandma had guessed something – leaving a pause for Grandma to fill in the blank.

Immediately, my family started to scream and hug and cry and scream! It was perfect!

Although there wasn’t a big announcement plan, it was more perfect than we could have asked for. We were so relieved that everyone finally knew, and I was so happy to stop making up excuses as to why I didn’t feel like drinking a glass of wine and why I didn’t feel like sushi! Haha!

After we hit the 12 week mark (look at that kicker), we felt like it was time to share the news with everyone!

Of course, we had to come up with a way to tell our announcement story through photos. After searching Pinterest for hours, and realizing that nothing was truly us, my sister – the owner of Gardenia Lane Photography – suggested that we just make it super simple, without overthinking it.

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From our Christmas shoot last year ❤

After discussing it for 2 seconds, that seemed perfect. No baby shoes or Big Brother shirt (which are adorable and Oliver definitely has a dozen of them – haha), we would just be us. This evolved into me holding a small succulent and doing a couple of fun shots with a Number 2 balloon – mostly for the cute Boomerang that would give us!

Freddy and I knew we would wear black, but started to talk about Oliver’s outfit. I was thinking a dressy outfit for him, and then out of the blue, Freddy sent a photo to our group family text (a group text with my entire fam) of Oliver in a tracksuit from Adidas and jokingly (I thought) said that Ollie would wear that for the shoot. Little did I know that he was serious (I didn’t even fight it because he looked so darn cute in it!)

Because Freddy was heading off to Puerto Rico for work and my sister’s calendar gets pretty full during the holiday season (and always), we scheduled the shoot for 5:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. I rushed home from work, threw on a black dress that was stretchy (given the belly), brushed Oliver’s hair – who was already in his super cute and perfect cactus tracksuit – and rushed out the door with my handsome husband, Oliver and sister.

We knew we wanted to shoot in the desert, but weren’t sure exactly where we would go. Since I am late for everything, we may or may not have been racing against the sun. Luckily, we live in Las Vegas and are surrounded by desert. My sister quickly spotted the perfect location, and we hurried to beat the sunset.

Shooting with Mary is always such a breeze, and I swear it felt like we shot for 2 minutes! She knew exactly what we wanted and how to capture it perfectly! I nearly killed myself several times wearing 6” heels in the rocky desert – check my heel in some of the photos, I am definitely about to timbbbeerrrr!! – but I survived! Click the photos to enlarge them 🙂

Before we left, we, of course, had to throw in a Boomerang with the Number 2. Oliver loved this one the most because he got to hang upside down and he literally will watch it a million times over and over and laugh!

As you can see, he was also the biggest ham during the shoot! Those faces he is making KILL ME!! I can’t take his sweet smile. I know that he will be the best big brother to his little sister or brother.

Which reminds me…

We did a blood test to find out the gender and my mama knows but is keeping it a secret!!! Gender reveal blog to come soon!!! Xoxoooxoox

Hope you enjoyed this little (long winded) post!

we.are.fremily 

Never settle for less than butterflies… 


That was something my mother always told me growing up (and still reminds me of today).

And boy, did I have butterflies when I met Freddy! I’ll make a LONG story short- I was a singer in a band and we had a album release party in New York, where freddy lived. I knew of him through my sister (and always thought he was her “hot friend in NY”), so I invited him to the show. In the middle of some “industry talk” with a guest, I saw my mom bringing freddy over out of the corner of my eye and

✨b u t t e r f l i e s ✨

(Photo taken moments before we met

So, I did what anyone would do – bust out an eight count of my best robot dance as a greeting!

Needless to say, the robot dance worked and we began the journey of our long distance relationship- Freddy in New York and me in Los Angeles.


(Our first mirror selfie during Freddy’s first visit to LA) 

It was a whirlwind romance and the butterflies continued as we traveled back and forth to spend time together. Finally, after six months or so, the distance was too much, and Freddy moved to Vegas! By that time, I had graduated law school, stopped singing in the band and was living back in Vegas.


(Law school graduation – Freddy bought me my first pair of loubutins) 


(Photo taken when I should have been studying for the Bar, but instead explored LA with Freddy)

We spent the next year and a half falling deeper in love and exploring all Vegas downtown life had to offer- a growing arts district, eclectic bars and lounges along the old Vegas “Fremont” strip, and incredible new friendships.

(Ludacris came everywhere with us- and yes, he owns a leather – remind me to never do bangs again!)

(I may have bleached Freddy’s hair myself- oops!)


(Taken at our amazing home in downtown Vegas- owned by my sis) 

Then, on one unexpecting trip to New York, Freddy took me to “our spot” in Central Park (where he had drawn our names into a heart on a tree stump) and asked me to be his wife! The butterflies were running wild that moment like never before, and I literally had to question whether he was serious!


(Yes, I’m wearing skeleton pants in February) 

Once I floated back down to earth, I (of course) said YES!

And with that, we began planning the wedding of my dreams. I say “my”, because I don’t think guys sit up at night as teens and plan their weddings, but me? I had it all envisioned in my head, down to the smallest little detail!

We, of course, had to document this incredible time in our lives, and had an enchanting engagement photo shoot and Engagement Video done near our family cabin in the Pacific Northwest.

Speaking of, after trying on every dress in the Western Hemisphere (literally- probably over 100 dresses, including being on Say Yes To The Dress on TLC), I found THEE most PERFECT wedding gown at a small vintage bridal gown shop in Portland, Oregon called Xtabay.

The moment I put on this gown

✨B U T T E R F L I E S✨

I knew it was the one- just like you always hear! I grabbed a vintage garden party hat off the stand and I was in Love!

With the perfect dress, everything else fell into place (or I was a crazy bridezilla and my mom, sisters and bridesmaids wanted to kill me – I can’t remember- I blacked out)!

Either way, our wedding was nothing short of magical and I can still close my eyes and remember the flutter of butterflies in my stomach as I held my father’s arm, with the sound of Sigur Ros playing in the background as the doors to the chapel opened to reveal my perfect being, Freddy, standing (and then taking a knee) down the aisle, waiting to become my husband.


I could dedicate an entire blog to that moment right there, but since this is just supposed to be an introduction to our lives, I must get moving.


Our Wedding Day Video is something I could (and do) watch over and over, and it’s amazing to me that our lives got even more filled with bliss….


Fast forward by us honeymooning in Italy (and never wanting to leave), starting a new job at a law firm, and building a home in the most Truman Show neighborhood in existence (in a good way)…..


(Our one year engagement shoot)

we longed for a child to share this experience with and to show all the beautiful things this world has to offer.

Nine months later, we were blessed with the most amazingly perfect soul in the world

✨Oliver Patrick Ellis-Santana ✨

I feel like I was in a constant state of

✨✨butterflies ✨✨

from the moment we found out I was pregnant until the moment I saw his gorgeous eyes for the first time.

It’s amazing how true love can hit you like a ton of bricks in just an instant! Even thinking about Oliver makes my heart flutter.


As you will see, Freddy and I both work, but, luckily, because Freddy is in film production, he gets to spend time with Oliver during the day between shoots! When that happens, my otherwise work filled days are beautifully interrupted by Freddy sending photos and videos and face timing with Oliver – and literally from the moment my phone indicates that a photo of Oliver was sent, the butterflies begin.

Any parent reading this will agree- there is nothing in the galaxy like looking into your child’s eyes and seeing happiness. I pause with every photo he sends of Oliver, and take a moment to fully experience the flutter. It’s incredible.

With each day that passes, our little baby is growing, learning, speaking, creating, and exploring everything around him. While it is an unexplainable thing to watch, it started to make me think about how quickly time has flown by and how I want to capture every moment I can and savour the small details forever.

This feeling is what sparked our blog. I sat on the idea for months, thinking that it would be boring or impossible to do. Then, we were blessed again to learn that we were having another beautiful baby!!

I will dedicate an entire post to our little miracle, but for now it’s safe to say that the butterflies have not stopped since we found out!! We are beyond over the moon!

Needless to say, this incredible addition to our family made me rethink the blog, and confirmed that I want to document our lives and our thoughts so that we never forget how amazing it truly is and so that Oliver and the new baby (boy or girl) can read about how they grew up and the experiences we shared.

So, while I can’t promise the posts will be whitty, I vow to be honest, real and not as long winded as this post!

We hope you enjoy following our growing family! Xoxoxo

-We.Are.Fremily