Holy moly what a year! When I look back on 2018 I’m honestly a little blown away by all the amazing things that happened in my life. It’s funny, I mentioned in my blog earlier this week that I got a little bit down at the end of the year and part of that was because I was comparing myself to others on social media. Well, it’s so strange to me that I felt that way given the incredible year I had. I guess that’s the thing about feeling sad. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life or how good you may have it, feelings of depression can affect anyone at any time. But with that said, feelings of depression are very different than feelings of ungratefulness. I for one, even though I’ve felt down at times, have never lost sight of how fortunate I am for my life. I am so incredibly grateful for my beautiful family, my health and the health of those I love, and for all of you! Truly, I love you guys! Without you this blog wouldn’t exist and my blog is such a huge part of who I am. It doesn’t define me, but it absolutely has shaped me over the past five years. I’m not even exactly sure how long I’ve been writing it. But I believe it’s been around five years and when I think of the girl I was five years ago, I’ve completely changed and all of you have changed along with me. So thank you for that! Thank you for being here to listen and for sharing your lives with me too!
So here is what went down in 2018…
A New Home!
My family and I started off the year moving into our brand new house! It’s crazy to me that we haven’t even lived here a full year yet. Well, technically next week will be a full year. But January 2018 is when we packed up our old house and moved in to our current one. From the first day we moved in I knew this house was going to be special. Not only was I pregnant at that time, so I know knew we were going to bring Riley home to this house, but I also knew it was going to be the first house Molly remembers. She was too little when we moved out of our old one so she doesn’t remember it. But I know she’ll have so many memories form this one – even if we were to move out tomorrow. And it goes without saying that I’m just extremely grateful to be able to put a roof over my children’s heads. It’s not lost on me how fortunate we are to be able to live here.
It’s a Boy!
Soon after moving into our new home, we shared with all of you that we were expecting a baby boy! I know I said this then and I mean it, but we would’ve been happy no matter what gender we got! But deep down, we were both really hoping for a boy. Just because we knew that we only wanted two kids and we’re just grateful to be able to have a boy and a girl. I knew back when we announced that we were having a little boy that it was going to be special. I’ve heard from so many mothers that the mother/son bond is different than the mother/daughter bond. Not better, just different. I didn’t know what they meant then, but now that Riley is here I completely understand! My bond with him is like no other! Just like how my bond with Molly is like no other!
In March we jetted off to Hawaii for a babymoon. I was so excited because I thought it was going to be super relaxing and a magical time before the baby came. Boy was I wrong. Ha! Don’t get me wrong, anybody who is lucky enough to be able to go to Hawaii knows how absolutely gorgeous it is! But unfortunately, it rained four out of the five days we were there. And the resort we stayed at was rather large, which is wonderful, but I was so uncomfortably pregnant at the time that it was hard for me to walk around and try to do things around the hotel and enjoy it despite the rain. All I wanted to do was go park my big booty down on a lounge chair by the pool and not move all day. Oh well, there was one nice day were we got some beautiful photos. And we were fortunate enough to bring both of our mothers with us so they got to spend lots of Grammy time with Molly before Riley came.
Showering Baby Boy Manno
In mid-April we celebrated Riley, who at the time was known as baby boy Manno. My baby shower was small and intimate but absolutely perfect. Celebrations like this are always a little bit tough on me because I live so far away from my family and I really would’ve loved to have had my mom and sister there. But it made me super grateful for the friends with me to celebrate the soon to be arrival of my sweet boy.
Welcome to the World Riley Doran Manno!
On May 24th at 12:53 AM, we welcomed sweet Riley to the world. It’s so funny because I remember wondering how I could ever love another baby as much as I loved Molly and with Riley, the moment I saw him I knew he had given me a love like no other! Riley is truly the happiest person I know. I’m so grateful every single day that I get to be his mother. That someone as high stress and anxious as me gets to be a mom to such a sweet leave that little boy. I swear he chills me out sometimes. When babies are supposed to do the opposite to parents. Ha! He makes everything in life better.
I love the photo below because it’s so raw and perfectly sums up how I felt the moment I held him. I was terrified, I was relieved (mostly that the labor was over), I was filled with joy, but mostly I was overwhelmed with love. Like I just mentioned, you wonder how your heart will grow big enough for there to be love for another human when you have another baby. But the moment I saw him my heart burst with love, and I thought for sure it couldn’t get any bigger. But every day since then it has grown and grown and grown, and I can’t possibly love that sweet boy anymore than I do. But then of course, tomorrow I love him even a little more.
In July we celebrated the two years we’ve had with Molly on this planet! Because we were so consumed with having a newborn, we really didn’t do much planning for her party. It’s honestly something I whipped up a few days before the actual day. I’m so lucky that we were able to give her the birthday party of her Pinkalicious dreams! With an Elmo thrown in there as well! Ha! I’ll never forget the look on her face when Elmo walked into her party. She still talks about how he came to her party and keeps asking when she’s going to get to see him again. Luckily we’re going to Sesame Street Live when we visit Kevin‘s parents in Chicago in a few weeks. She’s gonna lose her mind when she gets to see him again!
The rest of the year up until about Halloween is kind of a fog to be honest with you. Any parent who has taken care of a newborn can relate. It’s called the newborn fog for a reason. Honestly, I find myself going back to videos and photos of Riley to try to remember those months because I know what a magical time they were. But it’s almost impossible to remember them without the photos and videos because you’re just so dang tired all the time! Riley is only 7 1/2 months old and I can’t even remember him as a newborn. Unless I look at a photo. And I’ll leave some of those adorable photos here. I mean, I just want to eat his little face!
After experiencing Halloween with Molly last year, I’m starting to realize that every holiday is going to be absolutely magical! I knew Christmas was going to be special and as I sit here writing this I could not be more excited for Valentine’s Day! Every holiday has a whole different meaning and is so magical when I get to see it through her eyes. Why don’t people talk about this more? That’s one of the best things about becoming a parent is that holidays become so much more special?! And not just the big holidays. Obviously things like Halloween and Christmas are big, but even things like Valentine’s Day are so exciting when you have kiddos. I didn’t quite realize this until Halloween. You should totally watch this video of her doing her best to “sell” our candy to all the trick-or-treaters. It’s the cutest EVER! It honestly might be my favorite video of her of all time!
Riley’s First Christmas
Christmas with Molly was too good to put into words! You should also check out my Instagram TV video of Christmas morning at our house if you have a minute. It’s really special and in my opinion, gives a very raw and real look at what Christmas is really like in most peoples homes with small children. One minute Molly is running towards the tree with a huge smile on her face and the next minute she’s bawling her eyes out. Ha! It’s too good not to watch. And I hate to say it, but with the excitement of this being the first Christmas that Molly really understood, I feel like we kind of swept it under the rug but it was Riley’s very first Christmas! Oh well, as parents we do the best we can and I’m sure he’ll forgive us. Ha! Plus we did get some super cute photos of just him under the tree to commemorate his first Christmas. And we did an ornament with his footprint on it just like I did for Molly when she had her first Christmas. Those two ornaments are items I know will cherish forever.
What A Year
Looking back over everything I just wrote, it’s hard for me to look back on 2018 and feel anything but gratitude. I honestly think one day if I’m lucky enough to grow into a little old lady, I think I’ll look back on this time in my life and remember it as the absolute best years of my life. And as I move into 2019 instead of goal-setting, I want to strive towards one word and that word is – authenticity. In this day and age we are so consumed by cellphones and social media that it’s hard to have any authentic experiences anymore. Not only is it hard to be authentic by showing your true self on social media (I mean who can really show who they truly are when you only see snippets of someone’s life) but I also think it’s hard to have authentic relationships – with friends and sometimes family. There have been times when I’ll look over at Kevin while we’re sitting in our living room with our kids and realize that we both had our heads down staring at our phones for who knows how long. And then I look over at Molly and Riley who are just giggling and smiling and playing – not even aware that social media exists. I want to be more like Molly and Riley! We ALL should be! So I offer that word – authenticity – to all of you as you move into 2019 as well. Strive to be authentic. Be who you are and be proud of that person. You may see some changes from me in terms of the content I share opn social media and here on Ali Luvs. But I hope you guys welcome it and love it. Because this year I’m tearing down all my walls and putting it all out there. And I encourage you all to do the same. I love you guys so much! I hope this year brings you nothing but health, love and happiness.