Thursday, June 20, 2013

Birthday Celebration(ssss)

We knew this birthday had to be a BIG one.  I actually started thinking about it in November.  (Yes - as in six months before Quinn's birthday... and six months after her birth.)  We had just had her Blessing and I knew I wanted her to have something different from that, something more little-girl-ish.  Like a for real birthday party.

Then I remembered one of her List items was to ride the carousel at Nunley's. Nunley's is an historic carousel that used to be part of a little kid amusement park that closed down in the mid-nineties.  The carousel has been refurbished and is now housed in its own (adorable) building on Museum Row in Garden City.  I had heard amazing things about their birthday parties and riding a carousel was something that Quinn could actually do.  We booked the party back in December, and I picked out her outfit about 2 weeks later.  Because I'm crazy.  But knowing is half the battle, right?

We were able to actually complete the list item with my mom in February, before the party.  Riding the carousel was my mom's suggestion since it is something she's done with all of her (11!) grandkids and all five of us kids (as well as with her own dad, my grandpa).  And you can't see it in this photo but on Quinn's sweater is a carousel horse - a perfect outfit from my aunt Pam and uncle Terry :)

Just a couple of days after Quinn rode the carousel for the first time, I received an email from the folks at Nunley's saying they'd love to throw Quinn a party there, having seen that it was part of Quinn's List in the article Newsday had written on Quinn and NPA.  We replied thanking them for their generosity, but indicating that as great minds think alike we had long ago scheduled Quinn's party there.  

Andy, Gerri and the rest of the team there would not take no for an answer and insisted on donating the entire party to Quinn as their gift.  Not only the party, but the food and raising their cap from 60/70 to 100 people just so we could squeeze in as many people as possible to love on our beautiful birthday girl.  (Thank goodness... when we restricted the list to only aunts, uncles, first cousins and close friends with small children - including the declines - we hit 99 lol).  

All that I had heard turned out to be soooooo true!!!  The staff who worked the party were all so amazing - kind, courteous and professional... and damn good party throwers!!  Everyone - adults and children alike - had such a fun time riding the carousel, trying to grab the ring, playing the beanbag toss, creating crowns as a fun craft.  

In addition to the amazing generosity displayed by the crew at Nunley's, we were also presented with a super special gift of (amazing) professional photos of the day by Nicole Renee Photography.  Nicole is an incredibly gifted event photographer who so wonderfully captured the day.

the welcome sign by andreap|designs
the cutest, most delicious cookie favors from Laura The Cookie Lady 
just as we hoped, Quinn was not only able to participate, but have fun!
getting some daddy lovin'
ridiculously awesome cake by The Sweet Peace
my personal fave photo of the day
this is what 99 people at a 1st birthday party looks like

So, now, remember that this is Quinn we're talking about.  Obviously her celebrating did not end 5 days prior to her birthday.  No, sir.  

On May 16th, Quinn's actual birthday, Brett and I took her to the Central Park Zoo (a fabulous zoo for anyone who may be in the city, especially with kids).  We had a really fun time, even though Quinn wasn't having her best day.  (We would come to realize by the next morning that Quinn was riddled with yet an other ear infection.)  Her favorite exhibit - and mine - was hands down the penguins. This exhibit is soooooo cool!  Literally the only thing separating you from the penguins is glass - the exhibit is directly in front of you, and that's exactly where they swim and dive and waddle.  So adorable :)

the boys helped me decorate with loads of balloons
before Quinn woke up the morning of her birthday <3
at the (dark) penguin exhibit 

After the zoo (and the looooong ride home), we had our immediate family over for dinner and cake to mark the occasion.

no worries - Reid's glass was filled with organic fruit punch,
which just so happens to look like champagne ;)

Quinn wearing 'The Quinn' -
a dress designed by Giavanna's Closet in her honor,
because "she is a tiny superhero" :)
a Carvel Princess cake -
because every little girl should have a princess cake at least once
Colin's preK teacher made Quinn a school-paper crown!! :)

Aaaand, just to be sure you didn't forget this is Quinn we're talking about, there was just One More celebration to go.

The Dundas Family read our story in the Newsday article back in February, and contacted us to offer their beach house for a weekend of rest, relaxation and most of all Fun!  We waxed and waned not wanting to 'capitalize' on Quinn's illness but the Dundas family was so kind and insistent that we ultimately succumbed and wound up on Fire Island to cap off Quinn's celebratory week :)  

To say that the Dundas' went out of their way would be the understatement of the year. They, along with family friends Deirdre and Eileen AND the staff at Mt. Sinai Elementary School outfitted the house - six houses from the beach - with literally everything we could possibly ever have wanted (we, and an army of 60... for a month lol).  There were kites for the boys, TWO birthday cakes for Quinn, enough food to literally last us for a week, toys and games, gifts and wine... I really mean EVERYthing we could possibly have wanted.

on the ferry, on our way! 
can you even believe this?!
the TWO cakes!
someone's excited :)

My absolute favorite thing they left, though, was a stamp.  A few months back, our hope was that we would take Quinn abroad somewhere - Paris, London, Stockholm - and get her a stamp on her passport.  Once April happened and she was hit with a bout of the flu, followed by pneumonia and a double ear infection just 2 weeks later, we realized that simply wasn't in her best interests.  I must have mentioned this to Stacy Dundas during our communication, because what was awaiting us was one of the sweetest gestures anyone has ever made.  The family had a passport-style stamp made with Ocean Bay Park, Fire Island, NY so that we may stamp Quinn's passport with it - and get her stamp that weekend, even travelling a mere 30 miles.

swoon <3

The weekend offered us the opportunity for some awesome family time.  We spent hours on the beach flying kites and building sandcastles on Saturday and did puzzles and coloring and moving watching Saturday night.  Some rain had us on the earlier ferry, but that in itself was a nice break - not feeling the need to eek out every last moment in the name of Fun but to take our time, head home and spend a quiet rainy Sunday playing board games (ad nauseam lol) at home.

all that fun tires a girl (and her daddy) out!

Thank you Dundas Family and Friends for such a perfect way to complete Quinn's birthday week :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who's Your Daddy

Brett and I met on September 16, 2001 - a mere five days after September 11th.  I had just moved into the city four days before September 11th, so it was a bit of a surreal week, to say the least.

At 22, almost-23, I may have been starting to look for a 'mate', but I was definitely not looking for a 'daddy' to my as yet unborn children.  Of more immediate concern was whether he wanted to live in the city or stay in Queens (city for me, Queens for him).  Was he more of an Upper or Lower East Side bar goer? (Upper for me, Lower for him) Did he root for the Jets or the Giants? (Jets for me, "I like both" - a ludicrous claim - for him)

All the discord aside, we did agree on the most important things - Mets or Yankees (Mets), best Taco Bell menu item (MexiMelt), best show to make you laugh so hard you cry (MXC - a ridiculous Japanese stunt game show dubbed into English).  So obviously these more important facets would lead me to (correctly) assume that this man was going to make a wonderful father.

our honeymoon - the oldest digital files I could locate
it was a great honeymoon :)

When we told our families and friends that I was pregnant with Colin, Brett played with the sonogram picture and inserted a teeny tiny picture of his own face so he could show it around and say "doesn't it look just like me!".

(He would come to find out that apparently it is very difficult to tell which end is UP on an 8-week sono, having placed the photo onto Colin's hiney).

with Colin, just a few days old, and our former dog Larry David
(great dad, terrible dog-name-picker)

When all hell broke loose about 3 weeks before Reid was born, he stepped up not just for me but all the members of his family who needed him so desperately at that moment.  And he was back in place in time to answer in the affirmative to my shout out, while watching The Bachelorette, of "Hey - like the name Reid?" a mere 2 weeks before he was born.

(Let's just get this out of the way.  I SWEAR I am not the television junkie I seem to be here.  I just get my inspiration from there, sometimes.  Like when it comes to the names of my kids.  

I will neither confirm, nor deny, whether the inspiration from Colin came from Mr. Darcy Colin Firth.)

Brett holding a 4-day-old Reid,
ready to leave the hospital
Father's Day 2010

Then all Hell actually enveloped us on August 16, 2012 - the day of Quinn's diagnosis.  The oft nonplussed Brett was sufficiently plussed.  Never had I doubted his love for her or the boys, but if ever I had from that day forward any bit of doubt would have been altogether erased.  His tenderness toward Quinn, his appreciation for the boys - it all grew tenfold.  He held out hope against hope, unwilling to completely shut the door until all of the information - every single last bit - was in front of us when we went to Duke.  He unabashedly loves Quinn, loves Reid, loves Colin for exactly who they are and not for who he thinks they should be.  Brett is the poster child for a father's unconditional love.

My absolute most favorite example of this is when we were sitting with the wonderful Pamela Bloom, our interfaith minister, discussing the Blessing ceremony we held for Quinn back in November.  Pamela was offering a suggestion of bringing Quinn or her photo to a gazer (a person who is said to offer hope and healing with his gaze).  Brett did not dwell on the difference in his personal opinion on such a matter.  Instead, he offered the most beautiful musing I have ever heard.

"I wouldn't even know what to ask for from him.  I wouldn't want to change anything about her - she's perfect.  And this is part of her, part of who she is."

Quinn was just three weeks old here <3
on their way to meet me at Duke,
stuck on the tarmac for 2.5 hours.  still smiling :)
photo credit: Nicole Renee Photography
photo credit: Lightful Photography
escorting Quinny on her first ride in Popsie Peter's convertible
photo credit: Angela Marshall Photography

See?  Unconditional Paternal Love.  It's incredible to watch and I can tell from my children's happiness that it is incredible to experience.

As I tucked Colin and Reid in tonight I reminded them that Father's Day is tomorrow.  Then I said "Is Daddy a good daddy, an ok daddy or the best daddy in the world?"

"The Best Daddy In The World."

Smart boys.

photo credit: Lightful Photography
Photo Credit: Lightful Photography
Father's Day 2011

Refereeing is part of the job description
Father's Day 2012