Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 Of '13

How do you sum up an entire year in a post?  More importantly how is it even possible that 2013 is over?  This year flew by and I can't even believe we are already entering into 2014.  In order to keep this short(ish) and sweet I thought I would share with you my top moment from each month and then one final moment that takes the cake for the whole year. . .

JANUARY #1 (This was actually February because I have no pictures from January)
I'm not a big fan of winter but I still smile when I look at these pictures.  I honestly couldn't tell you (prior to this) the last time I had made a snowman.  On this particularly warm winter day I made a snowman with my nieces and it was SO.MUCH.FUN!  They loved it and so did I.

It is a short month and not much was happening so by default Ella's 4th Birthday is my favorite moment.  Celebrating my nieces birthdays each year is a wonderful thing. They bring so much joy to my life and I'm so thankful to have them!

I attended my first blogging conference in March, Blissdom, and it easily "wins" for best moment of the month.  Now only did I get to travel to Dallas, TX and see my friend Rachel, I also got to meet so many blog friends, learn so much about blogging and attend some pretty great parties.

Volunteering at MS Climb To The Top and taking my nieces for their annual "bunny pictures" were also favorites!

Spring finally arrives to Boston by April and although this was a month filled with much sadness in Boston it was also a month filled with much hope.  My favorite moment was Muckfest MS.  My cousin Katelyn captained The Bean Team and I went to cheer them on (since there is no way I could run 5 miles and I don't like mud).  This was such a fun event and I loved cheering on my team.  It also made me so happy to see so many people running in this large event so soon after the Boston Marathon tragedy.  It truly was just was example of showing the true spirit of Boston Strong!

Of course the Boston MS Walk was a great moment as well.  The Bean Team walked for the 5th year in a row!

MAY #5
There is nothing I love more than sharing my favorite place in Boston with my nieces.  I've taken both Peyton and Ella individually to the Public Gardens but it had been two years since I last took Peyton so I thought she was due again.  It was a gorgeous day and we had so much fun riding the swan boats, having a picnic, walking around and taking in the city.  She slept over the night before and the whole weekend was so much fun.  I love making memories with my nieces!

Another favorite moment of May was experience the flags on the Boston Common during Memorial Day weekend.  One flag for each fallen Massachusetts service member from the Civil War to present.  Such a beautiful tribute. 

Rachel came to visit me which forced me to take a staycation.  It was AWESOME!  I not only got to spend time with Rachel but I got to experience my own city and do so many things that I had never done and share some of my favorite things to do with her as well.  Red Sox game, Fenway tour, Newport, Salem, "The Package" Tour, The Freedom Trail, JFK Library and more!

A very close second is my trip to California for my very good friend Stephanie's wedding.  It was so wonderful to celebrate her special day with her!  It was also fun to catch up with old friends in CA!

July is one of my favorite months.  It is finally summer weather in MA and it is still early enough in the summer that you can enjoy yourself and not have that feeling of oh no summer is almost over. . . July was filled with weekends on the Cape and time with family.  4th of July weekend I spent several days on the Cape doing absolutely nothing and it was glorious!  My favorite weekend though was one when my nieces were there, of course!

Another month enjoying summer weather and visiting the Cape but the highlight of this month was my very first visit to Martha's Vineyard!  Not only that but I went to MV in order to meet a blog friend, Meg, who was there for a family vacation (her parent's live there).  It was great connecting with Meg in person and sharing about our lives with MS.  Oh and MV isn't too shabby either.  Beautiful island and I got to see a gorgeous sunset when I got on the ferry to head back to the mainland.

Close second this month was a mini family vacation to North Conway

Choosing one favorite moment for this month was probably the most difficult.  My weekend on Block Island is pretty much tied with the MS Challenge Walk but I picked the walk because Jenn and I kicked ass this year.  We not only walked 50 miles but we did it in "record" time each day and both felt pretty great physically.  See how much training actually helps?!  It was an AMAZING experience again in 2013 and I can't wait to be back there with our "Challenge Walk family."

I LOVE fall and everything to do with apples, pumpkins, cider donuts and foliage!  My favorite moment of this month was celebrating my grandmother's 87th birthday!  This was the first time we were able to celebrate with her in person since her 80th when we all traveled to Florida to surprise her.  This year, for the first time, my grandmother stayed in MA into the fall so we celebrated her birthday a couple of weeks early just a couple of days before she flew back to FL.  Such a blessing to be able to celebrate birthdays with our loved ones especially as they age.  So thankful we got to toast to my grandmother for another year filled with good health and much happiness!

Earlier that same day, I took Ella to a pumpkin farm (Peyton was at a friend's birthday party) and then we carved a pumpkin together.  She was thrilled and proudly walked around the house showing everyone the pumpkin.  Sometimes it the little things!

Oh and of course the Red Sox dominated the month of October and brought our city so much happiness but more on that in November!!

From WORST to FIRST!  The Red Sox won the World Series!!!!  My favorite moment of November was going to the Red Sox Rolling Rally.  It was EPIC!  After everything the city had been through it was so emotional to celebrate the Red Sox being World Champions!  Simply incredible.

Another great moment was modeling in Fashion Plates for the third and final year!   

A magical month filled with the Christmas spirit so how do you choose one moment?!  It was a wonderful month and the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas flew by.  I still tried to make the most of it by doing traditional holidays things.  My favorite moment was taking my nieces to The Enchanted Village for the 2nd year in a row.  Watching their excitement when it "snowed" and then when they saw Santa was so fun.  There really is nothing better than seeing Christmas through a child's eyes!

Now I bet you are wondering what #13 is right?!  What could be my BEST moment in 2013????

Well it was an easy choice. . .

Gilenya!!!!  Making the decision to come off Avonex, the weekly injection I had been on for almost five years was a nerve wracking one and for good reasons!  I switched to a new oral treatment, Tecfidera and unfortunately had very bad side effects.  I was sick.  It was not fun.  Luckily there was another oral treatment option I could try before going back to injections.  Gilenya is a daily pill and it has been outstanding!  I don't have ANY side effects.  Nothing!  I jut pop a pill in the morning and that is it.  Easy.  No more injections!  Living with MS isn't always easy but being able to take an oral treatment sure makes it just a little bit easier.  So thankful for this huge advancement in the treatment of MS!  Gilenya easily is my best moment of 2013!!!

There you have it!  2013 was a pretty good year but I'm excited to see what 2014 has in store. 

P.S.  Only a true procrastinator waits until just hours before the year is going to end to publish her recap post.  Better late than never, right?!  Haha!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Slumber Party

This weekend I experienced a first. . . I had BOTH of my nieces sleep over my house on the SAME night.  Crazy?  Maybe!  We had a lot of fun and it seems they both really enjoy coming to Boston!

Peyton and Ella LOVED riding the T.  I think next time they come to visit we are just going to ride the T with no place specific to go.  Since we were only on it for a couple of stops they were pretty disappointed and kept asking to ride it again!  It was unseasonably warm on Saturday with temps close to 50 degrees in Boston!

We went to Quincy Market so I could show they them the big Christmas tree.  They both liked it but were much more focused on getting to Build-A-Bear!  I gave them gift cards for Christmas and they couldn't wait to use them.

Build-A-Bear was surprisingly crowded.  I guess a lot of kids got gift cards for Christmas.  Peyton and Ella shopped around for which stuff animal they wanted.  They were most excited that they got to pick "whatever we want."  I could have predicted that Peyton would pick a dog and Ella chose a pony which was the closest to a unicorn she could find.  Ella is currently unicorn obsessed and Peyton has been a major dog lover for quite some time!  {Check out the bottom right picture of them "listening" to the sounds you can put in the animals. Haha!}

They were both SO happy with their animals and quickly made their way over to the "spa" for some pampering!  It is completely adorable to watch how serious they take the whole experience.  I loved watching them brush their fur.

We of course had to dress them in the most beautiful dresses available.  Oh and. . . they may have successfully begged for some extras. . . a "baby" pug and a leash for Peyton and a placemat and bowl for Ella.  Who was I kidding thinking a $25 gift certificate each would cover what they wanted needed?  Ha!  Seeing how happy they both were all night and the whole next day made it worth it.  They told everyone we saw "Jodi took us to Build-A-Bear and I got a dog/horse."  It was pretty cute. They were so proud carrying those boxes around Boston!

Oh and in case you were wondering Peyton named her Pug "Fluffy" and Ella named her pony "Sparkle" but may have changed it to "Chico" since we met a white horse (one of the carriage horses in Quincy Market) named that.  Too cute!

After the store Peyton caught a glimpse of these and immediately knew what they were for.  She ran over and asked me to take a picture.  They were at Dick's Last Resort which isn't always "PG" but luckily these were ok!

We went to dinner at P.F. Chang's and were more than accommodating regarding Ella's wheat and dairy allergies.  They already have a gluten free menu right on the regular menu but the manager also printed a dairy free menu from their "food matrix" and brought it over to me.  The cooks put all the dishes on special "logo" dishes as a reminder of the allergies.  Excellent system!  Very impressed!

Of course the girls were more interested in playing with their chop sticks and pretending to be "rhinoceros" which Peyton couldn't even pronounce and I had to inform her that I think she meant walruses!  Lol!i

Oh and that picture of Ella with the lettuce. . . after eating a lettuce wrap she just wanted the "salad" meaning the lettuce and proceeded to eat three pieces.  She is one funny kid!

We made our way back to my apartment and you would think that our busy afternoon would have made two tired girls but they were still pretty awake and excited about staying at my apartment.  We played, watched Care Bears, read books and snuggled in bed until they FINALLY fell asleep.  I slept in my living room on an air mattress and was asleep not long after them!

At 7:15 AM I heard their "Irish whispers" coming from my bedroom.  They played and giggled until about 7:40 when they finally came out to "wake" me.  I really didn't have much for breakfast food so we made an 8:00 AM trip to the grocery store down the street for some fruit.  The girls ate and apple and banana each when we got back to my apartment while watching a show.  I got ready for our breakfast out.

We went to the diner down the street from my place.  It is always empty when I've been there and the staff is SO nice.  The girls love the stools and counter and quickly made themselves at home dancing around the restaurant!

I told them I had a surprise for them and they were so excited. We quickly walked back to my placed and packed up their stuff.  While driving in the car to the secret location they tried to guess where we were going.  I gave the hint of something "soft."  Ella guess a bounce house which I thought was pretty clever for a  4 1/2 year old!  After giving a few more clues including "something you can hold" Peyton guessed we were going to see kitties.  Smart kids! :)
I took them to the MSPCA Adoption Center.  There is one in Boston where you can pet and hold the cats. They really like animals so I thought they would get a kick out of this.  Best part is. . . it is FREE!  We played with the cats for a while and the volunteers were great about holding the kitties for Peyton and Ella to pat.

The girls also loved the bunny room.  Unfortunately you aren't allowed to hold or pat the bunnies unless you are serious about adopting one but the girls still had fun watching these two jump around. The black and white one even jumped through that rainbow tunnel which was pretty cute!

We check out the room with the guinea pigs next but the girls were much more interested in the mice.  Go figure.  Ella thought they were "so cute" and couldn't stop looking for them hiding in their cages.  Ella checked out the birds too.

I asked the girls if they wanted to go in the dog room and of course they did.  I warned them that the dogs usually barked A LOT and LOUD when people walked by.  Of course that is exactly what happened and it startled the girls at first but then then found a puppy that was quiet and fell in love.  It was a pit bull/mix looking dog and recovering from surgery.  Peyton thought he looked sad so I had to explain to her that he had surgery and pointed out where he was shaved.  We later saw him going for a walk outside with a volunteer and he was pretty cute.  He got so excited when we talked to him that he peed and the girls thought that was hilarious!  Kids!

All in all it was a fun visit to the animal shelter.  This is one of the nicest "shelters" and they take really great care of the animals.  They are so nice to visitors too!

After all that fun it was time to return the girls to their parents!  We met up in a parking lot and did a quick trade off.

Of course one little guy got left behind.  It is always hard to keep track of all of their "friends" and this one was hiding under the covers.  So now I had a unicorn flashlight friend to keep me company!  Ella wasn't too happy when she realized she forgot it.  Thankfully she has several other new toys at home to keep her occupied until I can get this little guy back to her!

It was quite the slumber party!  I had a lot of fun with them and I hope it is something they will remember for a long time.  I'm glad that my Christmas gift to them including not only giving them something but doing something together!

And just like that my Christmas vacation is over.  Five days went so very fast.  I'm in denial about having to go back to work. . . I need to plan a Spring Break stat!!!

P.S.  Peyton with no front teeth has got to be one of the cutest things I've seen in a long time.  Every time she smiles she makes me smile.  I love it!

still being [molly]

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another Wonderful Christmas In The Books

Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you had a wonderful day with family and friends.  I know I did!  I'm so glad that I'm still off work to have some time to relax before heading back.

I worked on Christmas Eve but was able to sneak out a little early to head to my brother Allan's house.  We ate our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Chinese take-out and enjoyed several desserts.  Tim, Jenn and my nieces weren't there but the rest of us exchanged and opened our gifts. 

My parents gave me part of the Willow Tree Nativity to add to my set, the 2 Alex and Ani bracelets I wanted and a few other things.  Allan and Scott each got a chair and of course I made them pose for a photo.  Tim got a Red Sox one (and opened it on Christmas).  Too bad he wasn't there b/c a photo w/ all 3 of them would have been classic!

We watched my favorite Christmas movie. . . Elf!  I actually watched it twice.  It is such a great Christmas movie. I love it.  It was  a nice laid back evening and we had a nice time!

Every Christmas we take a family photo and this year our family grew by one with the addition of Callen.  It is so fun to look back at the photos and to see how the family has grown.  Surprisingly this year the photo came out great w/ one a couple of attempts!

Of course I made sangria!  I love my mom's punch bowl and I think the sangria looked so pretty in it.  It was really good and I think I've finally found my "go-to" sangria recipe!

These kids are just too cute!  We weren't able to get one of all 4 kids together but these are so cute it doesn't matter! 

I love this photo of Laney b/c her facial expression looks like a fast forward to the teenage years!  She is already giving attitude about smiling for the camera.  Ha!

My aunt gave Katelyn and I tickets to see the musical Once when it is in Boston in January.  It has pretty much become tradition for her to take us to a musical after Christmas and I love it.  We've seen so many great shows and I can't wait to see Once.  She also gave us a few other things and the bag in front of me is sure to be a new favorite. I love the paisley fabric!

The girls opened their presents from Grammy and Grampy and were quite excited about all of the musical instruments.  They had to show Uncle Allan their "spoons" just like the ones in Ireland!

The harmonicas were a big hit too.  Ella played hers all afternoon!

Uncle Scott gives the coolest gits. Last year it was the pooping dog game and this year it is snow-cone makers and sand art.  Big hits for sure!

I gave the girls gift cards to Build-A-Bear and I going to take them soon. They love that store and were pretty excited.  I also gave them pink slinkys which we had fun playing w/ on the stairs!

Uncle Allan gave the girls a "joint gift" which was a game called "Pop the Pig." I've never heard of it but they had and they played over and over w/ Laney.   You basically feed him hamburgers and his belts "pops."  Who comes up w/ these things!? 

We of course did our annual Yankee Swap Red Sox Swap (as Allan likes to call it).  We always have tons of fun seeing what the hot item will be.  The stealing is the most fun and the girls love to "help" since only the adults participate.  I ended up w/ that Red Sox sign which I am pretty excited about.  I look forward to making a new "collage" on my living room wall.

 During the swap Ella entertained us as a harmonica playing puppeteer.  I think she has a future!

Any for the 2nd year in a row Laney ended up in a box during the swap.  She is too cute!

Lots of other fun was had.  Lots of food and desserts were eaten.  Lots of laughs happened!  All in all a wonderful Christmas w/ wonderful people!!!  I can't believe it is over!

I slept on my parent's house on Christmas night since I was way too tired to drive home.  Ella came to hang out w/ us the next morning so that my brother could take Peyton to the doctor (she has a cough).  Ella and I had fun snuggling on the couch, doing puzzles and playing.  Then when Peyton came back we had a "tater tot picnic" on the rug.  A good morning hanging out and being lazy.  I then went home and took a nap (instead of taking my car for an oil change like I had planned - oops)!

A few more days off which will be busy but hopefully some chance for relaxing too!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas To You From Me!

Unfortunately I don't have access to a scanner right now so iPhone pictures of my Christmas card will have to do.  I LOVE receiving Christmas cards (well honestly I mostly like getting the ones that include photos)!  So I figure I need to send them to receive them.  Even though I don't have cute kids or a dog to show off in a photo I still like to do something with photos.  Being single makes it challenge so I always have to be a little creative.  When I saw this care I knew it was the one.  I love that it is bright and cheery.  I also love that I could include several pictures to show highlights of my year.

I wish I could mail you all a Christmas card but I'd go broke so please take this virtual version and know that I appreciate all of you, near and far, who read my blog!

Merry Christmas!!!

P.S. I love Shutterfly!  The cards are great quality and I love the colors in this one. I got them during a great Black Friday sale which was great too! (They look much better in real life. Sorry for the iPhone pics w/ the glare).