Capturing Cuteness & A Cake Smash

IMG_0528Remember the days of film? Your mom snapping a photo of you and having to wait days for it to come back to see the final result? It’s almost laughable now. We live in a world where we can capture perfect photos of our children, and if they are not perfect delete them until we do. That is until we get one of these pesky messages. landscape_nrm_1434543448-iphone-storage-fullUGH! Seriously! The frustration I get when I have the girls perfectly framed for my 15th impromptu shoot of the day and this pops up on my screen!

So why does a mom who has so many photos of her little cuties need to pay for a professional photo shoot? My answer, because sometime you just have to step back and let a true artist take over. Now, you can get a coupon in the mail and head to your local clothing store to get a cute cookie cutter package, an 8×10 for grandma’s house, a wallet for grandpa, etc. But it’s probably going to be more of a frustrating experience then anything. Waiting for your appointment with a fussy baby longer then you should because the family before you ran over their time. Being rushed through your time because the studio wants to get back on track. The pushy sales pitch as they try to sell you your babies face on everything from a phone case to a throw pillow. And no matter how hard you try to stick to the coupon package, nine times out of ten you will walk out of there frazzled and really having no clue how you managed to by golf balls with your little ones likeness on them for Uncle Tom! Not me! At least not for my babies big moments anyway. (stay tuned to the blog to hear the wonderful experience we had at one of those studios for family photos a few weeks ago). I’m so glad that I went a different route from the beginning.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Molly I contacted one of the best local photographers in the area, Brynne Torres. I saw her work for years when my friends posted pictures she took of their adorable babies. I just knew I had to use her! She seriously was one of the first people I contacted when my water broke 5 weeks early because I had to make sure she could switch my date. She did of course and provided me adorable photos of Molly. It was a wonderful experience and I booked her that day for Molly’s 1st Birthday photos.

Then came Miss Madeline. I of course contacted Brynne before it even became Facebook official that we were pregnant again. A few months later I was back in her studio watching in a amazement and she molded my beautiful little newborn into the most perfect position shot after shot!

But as Madeline’s 1st Birthday fast approach I began to panic dropping money on photos. Of course I try to make things as fair as possible between the two girls and I don’t want Madeline to feel slighted in anyway with all that we did for Molly. How could I not use Brynne for my final 1st Birthday photoshoot! I was lucky enough to get a spot in her new in home studio. And as you can see by the seek peeks I snapped below that I am so happy I did.

IMG_0523Brynne is such a pleasure to work with. Here she is recreating Maddy’s Sleeping Beauty themed photo.

Maddy’s family party is this coming Sunday during the Iron Pigs baseball game in a suite. So we are doing a A League of Their Own, There’s No Crying In Baseball themed Birthday. Here is Maddy recreating Dottie’s little sister Kit from the movie.

And of course the new classic… THE CAKE SMASH!

Do you know any other photographer that draws a warm bath in her kitchen sink for her cake covered clients?

So you may pay a little more for a professional photographer but in the long run the experience, quality, and super fun process of it is so worth it. I can not praise Brynne enough for creating memories that will last my family a lifetime. And I know that Molly and Maddy will be so grateful for them.

Here are a few tips that I suggest you do to get ready for your babies big shoot!

  1. Get a theme together. Have multiple outfits and send photos of them to your photographer ahead of time. This will give your photographer an idea on what backdrops they may want to use and he or she can be all set up for you when you get there.
  2. Bring along personal items. Sure getting a photo with your baby and a teddy bear is cute but wouldn’t it be so special to capture them with a teddy bear that was their daddies when he was their age? Maybe surprise him with it when the photos come in. #coolwifepoints
  3. Be patient! Your little model may not be in the best of moods that day so you have to just go with it. Have snacks, a bottle, and comfort items to keep you little one entertained. For us it was music, and when I say music I mean “The Chicken Dance” on repeatAnnoying? YES! But it got the little cutie clapping and smiling in no time.
  4. Bring a assistant if possible. My mom is a God sent! It’s hard keeping the little star happy, changing the outfits, and all the behind the scenes stuff. It’s so great to have an extra pair of hands. ESPECIALLY with a messy cake smash!
  5. BREATHE! You did it! You don’t have the satisfaction of seeing your shots immediately like the ones that you shoot from your phone or digital camera, but rest assured your photographer captured beautiful photos and you will have them to share before you know it!

I will be sure to share Madeline’s photoshoot for you all to enjoy as soon as I get them back. If you are in PA or NJ and want to book Brynne here is her website. (tell her that stayathomemamadrama.com sent you!) Thanks Brynne for letting me sneak a few shots of you in action!

 

 Brynne Torres Photography

5a052c_c9463d8ec1d2e0070074f7d8ce56e044

 

 

Advertisements

A dead battery and a spark of romance

IMG_0337

Today Matt & I went on a “date”. We borrowed my brother-in-laws truck to pick up a playhouse to makeover for the girls. We felt pretty “bad ass” in the old orange beast.
Even though I had to hold the review mirror up for Matt to back out of the driveway.

IMG_0339                After picking up the playhouse, Matt took me to Toby’s for a hot dog,

IMG_0338

dropped the playhouse off at home, then took me to Lowes to look for paint.

IMG_0343

Those Bigelli men sure know how to treat a lady! HAHA! We actually had a really fun time together. And I got a piggyback ride into Lowes. I haven’t had one of those since I was about 5! (Another bonus of loosing almost 100lbs!)

Anyway, there was a small delay in the fun because upon returning to the truck we found out THE BATTERY DIED! UhOh! Mark to the rescue! (He wasn’t really happy about that) but there was no other choice since Matt is clueless when it comes to auto-mechanics and busy looking at free tutus we scored for the girls during our playhouse pick up.

How can two brothers be sooooo different? HAHA!

I guess the moral of this blog is. Although we love our girls dearly, it’s fun to sneak away & make to most of any alone time we can get together. Today it felt like we were dating again & to me it was very romantical!

IMG_0340                                                                               He’s a keeper!

Our Easter Blessing Tree

unnamed-4

It’s officially Easter week! Can you believe it? It really seems as if time is flying. It feels like only yesterday when I was still very pregnant with Madeline and getting everything ready for Molly’s 2nd Easter. How can a year go by so fast?

Of course Molly is very excited about the promise of the Easter Bunny, CANDY, baskets, eggs, toys, & a reason to wear her pretty dress. But I really want to take the time to teach her and remind her what Easter is truly about. Now I don’t know if I subconsciously saw this on Pinterest one night when I should’ve been sleeping but just couldn’t wind down, or if the idea really did come to me all on its own from my scattered and frazzled mommy brain but this is what we did today. We made “Our Easter Blessing Tree” from the tree I painted on our family room wall. I try to do something to this tree every holiday since the wall is plaster and it is hard to truly decorate it with anything that’s not “scotch tape friendly”

I told Molly that we were going to sit down and make a list of all the people that we love and that we pray for every night. Then I would make Easter eggs out of colored paper and she could decorate them with markers and crayons. She got very excited and stated sprouting off names faster then I could write. Of course she said the usual, MaMa, DaDa, Madeline, Molly, etc. But between all of the special loved ones in her life she would say “and Jesus, and God, and Our Angels.” I got teary eyed because she really does listen to me when we say our prayers and that made my heart so happy. She of course listed every dog in our family and every person in her class & dance class but I convinced her that we could group them on to 3 eggs because I honestly was too pooped to cut out so many. Ha Ha!unnamed

I couldn’t believe how long she sat and spent on each and every egg. Like her MaMa she carefully selected every color for each person. And proudly showed me each one as she completed it.

Once she finished her master pieces we rolled up some tape and put them onto the wall. She told me where the ones she couldn’t reach should go. After all she is 2 & 1/2 so she knows best!

unnamed-2It was such a fun and touching project to do with her. I hope to make it a yearly tradition. We now have a holiday focal point to remind us the true reason why we celebrate. And all though she is 2& 1/2 she never told me to make an Egg for the Easter Bunny but Jesus, God, and Our Angels were at the top of her list. And although the rest of the day did not go smoothly and I’m now hiding out in my room blogging and trying to block out the temper tantrums and noise that my lovely little angels are creating for their daddy, I think of her list and tell myself, “Good Job Mama! You must be doing something right!”

Message from my MaMa

Honestly since the 2 year anniversary of my miscarriage last week I haven’t felt like blogging. I have just been trying to spend my free time with my girls and Matt. I have been saying that it’s writers block, I’m too busy, I’m to tired, but it reality I’m still mourning. It will always be a date I dread. Don’t get me wrong so many amazing things happened. Madeline took her first steps (more on that to come in a future blog), we went to Disney On Ice (again blog to follow), and I went on a much needed date night with my husband. I haven’t shared how I’m feeling with anyone. I guess people think as I let the balloons go that my pain goes away with it. It doesn’t. I don’t think it ever will.

561426_10153990500714210_1242645835747740227_n

However today my mom surprised me with a much needed hair makeover. Any Mommy out there knows that we tend to get to busy with life to even wash our hair let alone get something done to it to make us look and feel normal! THANKS MOM!!!!

 

But that wasn’t the only thing my mom did for me today. She also took the time to send me a text that truly touched me! Something that I really needed to hear not only as a mom but from MY mom. All I did was send her a picture of Madeline with her 11month chalkboard photo (You guessed it a blog on my chalkboard life is coming your way too!) And she sent me this text…unnamed

It meant so much to my heart and soul to hear this from my mom. Out of the blue. Unexpected. From the heart. I know sometimes she thinks Matt & I are crazy that we are constantly finding things and activities to do with the girls as our housework piles up around us and we seem to never be caught up on “adult things”, so hearing these few simple words just meant so much. My funk was lifted. And here is a new blog. Ahhh I feel better now. Can’t wait to get started on the next. As you can see I have tons to get to work on!

Thanks for reading!

Melissa

PS. I LOVE YOU MOM!

Two years ago my heart stopped with yours…

unnamed
Today I should be stressing over the perfect outfit to dress you in. Today I should be making you breakfast to start your day. But instead I wake up to the 2 year anniversary of what was the darkest day of my life. The only thing worse than losing something that meant the world to you is pretending that you lost nothing. I may not speak of you daily but you are always on my mind. Not a day goes by that I am not filled with sadness, guilt, and love for you.

Sadness because you are not here to be part of our lives.

Guilt because I try to justify your death by telling myself if you were here with me I wouldn’t have your baby sister Madeline.

Love because even though you only grew inside of me for a few short months, you were mine. Your heart did beat & you heard mine beating with love for you from inside of my womb.

I feel you here with me every day. I have comfort that you are with your Aunt Karen & Great Grammy. I know that you are surrounded by their love. I know that you are looking over us.

I’m sorry that your life was not meant for this world. I’m sorry that I didn’t get to hold you, or to know you. But then again my heart did know you because I was your mommy. I am still your Mommy. And I know that one day we will be together again and it will be as if we never had this longing for each other.

Today your daddy, your sisters, & I will go to Grammy’s grave and send off two balloons with messages of love to you. It brings me comfort. I hope it brings you happiness.

You are forever in our hearts MJB

small-bird-image

Drum roll please…

LTYMCast-e1427478857408

I can finally announce that I will be making a return to the stage! A one day only performance that you won’t want to miss! I have the honor of being a part of a nationwide effort to “give motherhood a microphone”as a cast member of the 2016 Lehigh Valley production of Listen To Your Mother. I could not be more excited! Our show will be one of 41 cities across the country and through these shows over 450 stories about motherhood will be shared this year.

What makes me proud about this project is that I wrote my piece; “There’s No Modesty In Motherhood”. Me a writer?!?! Who would have thought? Of course in true Mel fashion its a comical piece and centers around the toilet & my lady parts, but would you expect anything less? This was the scariest audition I ever had because I was so out of my element and when I received word that out of all the talented creative people in the LHV I was selected I cried tears of joy.

This show is not just for women by any means and is the perfect gift for Mother’s Day. If you have a mother, know a mother, love a mother, lost a mother, made someone a mother, long to be a mother, are a mother reading this covered in snot, sitting in a school pick up line, hiding out on the toilet, avoiding housework, then I hope you will join me and my  amazing cast on Sunday, April 24th from 2-4 pm at The Steel Stacks.  Tickets will be going on sale soon. I will be posting more about this amazing creative opportunity and my journey.

Now the big dilemma WHAT WILL I WEAR????

Tick, Tick, Tick, BOOM!

Does anyone else hear that loud ticking? Well it’s official, my hysterectomy surgery date is now set for June 14th. I was suppose to under go the surgery in February but between all the sickness in the house and having to take a few different kind of medications it got put on hold. After some debating and prayer Matt & I decided that it’s best to put it off till June. The Doctor was a bit taken aback when we told him of our decision last week. He was ready to have me go in the beginning of March. But since he feels there was no major risk of the cervical cancer spreading and I will be under observation and medication he agreed that it will be easier on the family waiting till school is out. Thankfully I will be able to keep my ovaries so I won’t have to go through menopause. Sorry if this is TMI but I have also been getting my “monthly visitor” every TWO WEEKS since having Madeline & it is not pleasant! So seeing the light at the end of the vaginal tunnel is a welcoming sight!

BUT although Matt & I decided that we don’t want to have any more children my biological clock is TICKING! It makes me kind of sad that I definitely won’t have the opportunity of having another bundle of joy. And although I really did not enjoy being pregnant since they were all so stressful, it kind of makes me tear up. In reality I think it’s the fact that I won’t have anymore pregnancy announcements, gender reveals, & name reveals, to do. Not to mention the fact that a little boy would be so fun to dress up in little bowties & suspenders. On the other hand, good-bye periods, cramps from hell, bloating, mood swings, cravings, and pap smears ! Plus good-bye cervical cancer once and for all! It didn’t ruin my wedding, my blessing of motherhood, and it won’t ruin my time with my beautiful baby girls!

I am sure that I will touch more on this subject as June approaches. But wanted to give an update on my lady parts Mamma Drama.

*BTW this is not the big exciting news announcement I will be blogging about. I am still waiting on the official word to post it but it is coming soon!*

 

“You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile!”

As the song says, “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile!” and Molly was smiling from ear to ear when she got to go see the national tour of Annie in our hometown on Friday night. Refer back to my previous blog post  “The Sun Did Come Out Tomorrow” to read all about how my husband won us the tickets.

The day started out with Molly excitedly springing out of bed knowing the day had finally come that she would be able to put on her Annie dress and go see her “idol” live on the State Theatre stage. I had a pretty hard time keeping her occupied all day but was happy when she told me she wanted to take a nap so she wouldn’t be tired for the show.

12800125_10153937759059210_50731509410175484_n

Daddy came home from work and we started getting ready for our big Mommy Daughter date night. I curled her hair, to the best of my ability since she is only 2. And we put on her dress and “fancy shoes”. When she came down to show off how beautiful she looked, Daddy was waiting with her very own Annie locket. 12745584_691034320857_3485367003706740872_n

We finally were ready and on our way. She told me I looked like Ms. Hannigan but I know she meant that out of love. Ha Ha!

10367178_10153939320159210_1961993269267420587_n

From the moment she walked into the theatre she was in awe. Her eyes focused on the Annie merchandise and I knew I was in trouble. She had a hard time deciding between a t-shirt and a doll. But then said “Doll Mommy! I love her!” So I payed for the overpriced Annie doll but it was so worth the smile and kiss I got in return. Besides maybe one day she will pass it down to her daughter. Priceless!12524280_10153939319694210_3087660203260199890_nShe ate up all the attention that she was getting in her mommy’s Annie dress. She was already singing and dancing as we got ushered to our amazing box seats.

As soon as the orchestra started she clapped, smiled, and started singing during the overture. My eyes welled up with tears that I got to experience such a special time in her life. She was completely fixated on Annie & the orphans. And for a toddler at a musical she did a great job. There was one moment that was comical. During the first black out she yelled out “Hi Miss Meghan!” to her teacher that was seated in the orchestra below us. As the lights came back up Miss Meghan was laughing and gave Molly a wave.Thank God that was the only thing that happened out of the ordinary. I kept candy on hand for her during the slower parts and she sat happily munching on M&M’s and Twizzlers between her dance brakes. The women next to us said she was enjoying Molly more then the show and all the week long worry I had on how she would behave went completely out the window.

943963_10153939320079210_4477727321493007770_n

As the show came to a close she was on her feet cheering and clapping for Annie & Sandy. “I love you Annie!” She yelled out to them. And then as the curtain closed and the audience filed out into the night she had the biggest meltdown EVER! Why?!?! Because she couldn’t go on stage and see Annie. She cried all the way to the car about that but as soon as she saw Dada she said “I loved the show Dada! Thank You!” And with that a very tired little girl was carried up to bed after the night of her life, by her very own Daddy Warbucks.

Today my heart weeps…

Today my heart weeps. Two families have to make the gut wrenching decision to say good bye to two women at very different pathways in life. They never got to know each other yet lay just a room apart in the same ICU. Two souls who have been there for beautiful moments in my life. One for the celebration of my marriage. One for the joyous birth of my second daughter.
A beautiful 24 year old with so much more life to live. We can only hope that she knew how much love we had for her.
A caring wife, mother, grandmother, & great grandmother who at the age of 68, never let the sickness of her body hold her back.
Their journey that brought them here was drastically different but the outcome is the same. Two beautiful souls traveling to their eternal resting place together. I take comfort in the fact they are crossing over together. I regret that I did not know that as I said goodbye to one of them, watching a machine do the work of keeping her young body there with us to do so, the noise from the machine in the room next door was keeping the other one alive.  I do take comfort  as I walked through the hall I prayed for all the patients there at the hospital. The ones there for the happy times and the ones who were there for the sad. I prayed for the nurses who were there doing tasks I can never imagine. And I prayed for the families who shouldn’t have to deal with such heartache no matter what the age of their loved one is.
As a daughter I could not imagine watching my mother slip away from me. As a mother I can not fathom the heartbreak & pain.
So I ask you to pray. Pray for the doctors, the nurses, friends, families, and most of all the souls of these two beautiful ladies who are earning their wings.
I love you Alayna & Ruthie! I hope you both know that.

The Sun DID Come Out Tomorrow

Last week was TOUGH! I failed at everything! Being a wife, a mother, an artist, a writer… EVERYTHING! I just know that something had to give or I was on the next bus to the looney bin for sure!

Our local state theater was running a contest call “Nuts About Annie”. The contest required you to write a short essay about why you loved the musical Annie. The winner would receive two box seats tickets to see the national tour of Annie the musical. This was a contest I had to win, not only because of my life long Annie obsession but because of the addiction that I passed on to my oldest daughter Molly. Who was named after one of the orphans in the show might I add. I HAD TO WIN! We just didn’t have the money to go otherwise. So I said my prayers and let the words flow.

I was blown away by the outpouring of people writing on my behalf. The fact that they took the time out of their busy lives to put into words why I should be a recipient of this awesome prize, brought me to tears. I too wrote on our behalf and although I really wanted to win anyway possible, I secretly prayed that my piece would be chosen! I needed that validation that I could win! That last week was just a fluke! That could be a good mom & write a “award winning piece”.  Well as fate would have it WE WON! But it was my husbands letter that sealed the deal for us. Now don’t get me wrong I was SO EXCITED for Molly and I! I cried tears of joy because we were going to be able to have this amazing experience together. BUT COME ON! Matt’s letter won? Dang it! He was in the doghouse and now I had to let him back in. HA HA! My ego as the creative writer was a bit shot, the fact that he got the glory kinda sucked, but the excitement of our Annie obsessed toddler made those feelings seem so ridiculous as she exclaimed: “I’M SO EXCITED!” And leap’n lizards is she! She is on a full Annie countdown!

unnamed

Below you will find Matt’s moving submission that he wrote for the contest. I am happy that my girls have a daddy who takes the time to write nice things. It will be a memory that will last a life time.

To Whom It May Concern,

When someone say that they are a truly nuts about something, it’s hard believe them unless you see it first hand. There are people out there who are crazy about The Beatles, or The Muppets, and even McDonald’s (like my grandfather). I can tell you, however, that there are people who are truly ‘Nuts About Annie’ and the biggest one of them all is none other than my wife, Melissa. 

At a very young age, Melissa sang and danced her little heart out many times a day to the beloved movie of Annie.  Since Melissa was an only child, she had to use her vivid imagination daily and with the help of the Annie record, that her father couldn’t stand, she was able to do so.

She would constantly believe that she was the little red-haired girl who longed for her parents to come and pick her up at the orphanage and dreamed that her own home was Daddy Warbuck’s billion dollar mansion. 

As Melissa grew up, she continued to express her creativity through sports and theatre, but it wasn’t until a near death car accident in her 20’s that made her focus her efforts on other avenues.  She decided to go back to her roots and continue on her love of theatre.  She did this by joining the cast of Annie at a local theatre company.  I find it truly fitting that the show that would soon help her theatre career grow was none other than Annie.  Although I didn’t know her at the time, I am still told to this day that she was phenomenal as Lily St. Regis.  

Her love for theatre, performing, and making the audience laugh continued on and eventually I entered the picture.  That’s when I found out how much of an Annie fanatic Melissa truly was.  She would share stories with me of how she would parade around her the house in her Annie dress singing, “It’s A Hard-Knock Life,” along with many of the other iconic songs from the show. She also exclaimed that not only did she have the red dress, she also had the commemorative plates, the action figures, and Warbuck’s Duesenberg car. Crazy! I know, but that’s how nuts she is about Annie.

Once we got engaged and started planning our wedding, it was a bumpy road for Melissa. About three months before we were to be wed, Melissa was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had three major surgeries that left her disheartened because we were informed that we were most likely not going to be able to have children.  This was very hard on the two of us, but it was extremely crushing for Melissa because she always dreamed of having a family and being able to share experiences she had when she was younger with our children.  One of those experiences was the love of Annie.

We finally got married in November 2012 and at our reception, we paraded down the hall’s staircase to “I Don’t Need Anything But You.”   I didn’t have any say in this one and I certainly wasn’t going to start a fight because I knew that it played a significant role in her life.  After trying for months to conceive, we finally got pregnant and had a baby girl named Molly.  There are many reasons we named her this, but the main reason is because of the lovable character in the show.  It was only fitting that we did this because we also have a dog named Oliver (Warbucks).

Even though Molly is young, she, as well, has become a huge Annie fanatic like her mother.  This past summer all she wanted to watch or listen to was Annie.  There were days where we would watch it two or three times and believe it or not, it never got old to her.  Every time Molly watches the show, she has to be wearing Melissa’s Annie dress.

Now, I mentioned before that my wife is involved in theatre and I am, too.  Besides performing at the local theatre company, I also run the theatre program at the school I work at and we just finished our amazing production of Annie last month.  I chose to do the show because not only is it a classic in the world of musical theatre, I wanted to have my students do it in honor of Melissa, Molly, and my other daughter Madeline.  Melissa worked countless hours finding costumes for the show because she wanted to make sure that the cast looked their best and was ready to shine on stage.  Opening night was the first time that any of them saw the hard-work and energy the students put into the show.  The cast also knew how much Melissa and Molly loved Annie, so they didn’t want to disappoint them.

As the show commenced, Molly was up in the front row with Melissa singing and dancing her little heart out as the cast stomped, scampered, and pranced across the stage.  Molly kept begging to go up on stage because she wanted to be part of the action.  It was one of the greatest things I could have ever witnessed.

I am truly blessed to have someone like Melissa in my life.  She endures so much on a daily basis by being a stay at home mom to Molly and Madeline, who only are 18 months apart.  To her, every day must feel like the life that Miss Hannigan led, but I know for a fact that she loves every minute of it.

In my eyes, Melissa is truly Annie.  She keeps going through life dodging the obstacles that are hurled at her every day.  She is optimistic about life and wants to make sure that everyone is happy and always laughing.  I know it may sound corny, but she is the Annie to my Oliver Warbucks.  She came into my life at the right time and helped groom me into the man I am today.  She has to deal with my grumpiness and hard personality, some times, but she makes the best of any situation, just like Annie did.

In closing, if you really have to pick a fanatic who is ‘Nuts About Annie’, then you should pick Melissa Bigelli.  She is very deserving of this honor and I know she would love to share a special night with Molly as they bond over a show that they both love with all their heart.  I wish that I could send the two of them to the show myself, but we only live off my low teacher’s salary.  Times have been very tough for us and nothing would make me happier than to see the two of them walk out our front door the night of the show and see the smiles on their faces as they head down to the theatre.  I know that as that night progresses and comes to an end, they will have a memory to share that will both last them a life time.

Thank you for taking the time out of your crazy day reading submissions for this contest, to read my entry.  It was an honor being able to share my thoughts and feelings about an amazing human being.  

Sincerely,

Matthew Bigelli