Monday, March 31, 2008

The Melting Pot






So Robby and I made a trip out to Destination Maternity in Natick. Had to check out the store once and it was really convenient. It houses the three most popular maternity stores in one: Pea in a Pod, Mimi Maternity and Motherhood. I picked up a couple cute casual things. I found myself okay for work clothes but felt that I was struggling on the weekends with my casual outfits...I get tired of wearing the same jeans...especially after 12 weeks or so!

Anyway, since we were out in that area, we decided to try The Melting Pot in Framingham. Can you guess what kind of restaurant it is by the name? Why yes! It is a fondue restaurant and it was FAB in one word.

We had such a romantic special night and had a blast cooking our food right at our private table/booth.

Enjoy the pix...I am enjoying the fact that I completed something on my goal list. I also made a "gravy" on Sunday...now if I can say I have done that two more times over the next six months...I can check that off too!

Bambi's Trip to the Vet



We are so proud of our baby girl (bulldog) Bambi! She had her annual check up on Saturday and she dropped 2.2 pounds! Her diet wasn't working at first and when we brought her last year, the two of us ended up arguing with the Vet...we were crushed that she had ended up GAINING weight. This year, though, she made up for it. Just think how much more she could lose, if she would just give into exercise- geesh!

She further proved that she is the best dog ever when she took four shots like a champion. She did not even flinch once...the vet even said "oh what a sweetie she is!" She really is. We took a couple pictures of her being so good on the vet's table.

Look at that face!!!! I could just bite her :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Visit to Dream Dinners of Course!


Yes...yes...I made it back already. The consensus in the Breton household was that the meals were simply delish!

The kids AND Rob really loved the Parm Risotto with Chicken the best and then they also enjoyed the Cider Braised Porkshops and the Honey Lemon Chicken Breasts.

I didn't go to a party tonight but joined Cass and her mom to make some more meals...it really makes life so much easier and it is fun to try new recipes!

So I decided to do three meals again...picked the Risotto again since it was such a big hit! I also added two new meals: Hot Steak Stips with Peanut Dipping Sauce and Herb Encrusted Boneless Pork with Red Pepper Aioli...wow they are already making my mouth water!

The experience was just as positive..what a helpful staff! They just make it so easy and fun...really...I can't wait to take Ally here...and then of course Diana...I know, now though, Ally would have a blast assembling some meals..she would be a natural.

If you remember my last Dream Dinners blog post, you will remember how I raved about the lemon bars too...yep! Brought an order of those puppies home and Rob has already downed two of them..yes of course I had one too and they are just fabulous! I am going to bring some to Book Club tomorrow night at Cass's too!

Speaking of book club tomorrow night, I think we are in for a very detailed and exciting blog posting...Cass is going all out and trying four new appetizer recipes..some from Food Network!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter 2008










"HAPPY EASTAH!" as we say in Boston...and it truly was! It was one of my favorites ever actually....everything was just so relaxing and fun.

We started by coloring our eggs on Friday night...3 dozen to be exact...since it was my mom's actual birthday, her and my dad came up for some pizza AND OF COURSE to help us color eggs.

Then of course we had Papa's celebration on Saturday night.

Then Easter morning...the kids opened their baskets and laughed at what the Bunny gave them this year! This year, instead of all candy, the Bunny decided to give them each some of their favorite foods....so Kayla got a nice bottle of A1 Steak Sauce in her basket...along with a pint of tomatoes..then of course some candy and a very cute polo tee. Ally got a package of cheddar cheese blocks and a box of cheese its along with her candy and a funky Celtics tee and last but not least, Zack got a honkin' box of Bagel Bites and a 2lb. bag of Twizzlers! Of course, he also got other candy and a kickin' Kevin Garnett Celtics tee...so yes they made out like bandits per usual!

We then headed to 7:30 mass as a family and that was my favorite part of the day...just very special.

After mass, we headed over to Grammy and Papa's for breakfast and it was FANTASTIC! Grammy went all out...she made homemade hash with dropped eggs= YUM! She also made this great thing called "Wake-Up Casserole" which you can find on AllRecipes.com. It consists of eggs, hash browns, cheese and bacon- OUTSTANDING! We also enjoyed some fruit and sweet rolls and we pretty much rolled out the door when all was said and done. The girls had fun trying on Grammy's wigs...I am sure you will enjoy those shots!

Later, the kids headed out to see their Mom and Rob and I headed down to Stoneham to meet my parents, aunt, uncle and cousins at Felicia's. Another Italian restaurant, can we stand it? Great place and another great meal. After that, we all went over to my parents for dessert and ended up getting into a VERY spirited game of Scene It. By the end of the day..I was ready to collapse!!!!

It was a wonderful day :)

Papa's 70th Birthday Celebration!












So...Papa knew that we were going to take him out for dinner along with the kiddos but what he didn't know is that we invited his closest brother, sister-in-law and best friend to join us too!

Well..he had a blast...in fact we all did! We enjoyed an awesome dinner at Georgio's in Milford. It is a Mediterranean Restaurant that serves both Italian and Greek Cuisine and it was YUMMO (to coin another Rachel Ray term!) Let's see if I can remember what everyone had....challenging but here it goes: Kayla and I had the Chicken Piccata, Zack had a Meat Lover's Pizza, Rob had the Chicken Marsala, Papa had the Veal Parm, Chris had the Tuna Special, Grammy had some type of Seafood Dish...Ally had another Chicken Pasta dish and I do not remember what Uncle Vic and Aunt Mal had outside of some great bottles of wine!

Boy did we have some laughs..I particularly enjoyed Aunt Mal's tales of her dating days with Uncle Vic...none of us knew he was such a player!!! HYSTERICAL!

We then enjoyed roasting Papa and had some real belly laughs.

For dessert I got an authentic Italian Ricotta Pie from Colarussos in Stoneham. I knew it was good when Papa said "it was the real mccoy..one of the best he has had." And boy, he is fussy so cha ching!

Happy Birthday Pup and Many Happy Returns!

Friday, March 21, 2008

100 Things I Want To Do Before I Leave This Life...

Thank you to Jacinda for this inspiration and YES I will join you in this challenge...how fun!

1. Deliver a healthy happy Baby Diana
2. Get back into a Size 6 after all these years
3. Take a very fun family and friend trip to Mexico
4. Build, design and decorate my dream home
5. Buy a house/cottage on the ocean...endless summer dreams
6. Finance/help to finance my kids' and stepkids' college educations
7. Finacially help my parents and in-laws
8. Get involved with Community Theater again
9. Become an integral part of the drama group at our new high school
10. Run for selectman/school board/state rep some day
11. Run the Boston Marathon
12. Commit to the training program that will enable me to run the Marathon
13. Lift weights 3x/week
14. Reconnect with my college roommates and see them more often
15. Have a dining room and host large family holiday dinners
16. Have a beautiful flower garden
17. Write a book and have it published
18. Teach CCD classes
19. Become a stay at home mom some day
20. Build a very successful photography business
21. Stay close to weddings through my photography AND perhaps some wedding coordinating
22. Create a popular cooking show with my stepdaughter Ally
23. Help plan the weddings of my beautiful stepchildren and children
24. Dance with my husband at all of the above weddings
25. Make sure Diana stays close to Alexis during her entire life, just like her mom and me do
26. Instill a sense of strong catholic religion in Diana and any future children
27. Instill a good sense of responsibility and work ethic in Diana and future children
28. Do the family/friend girls sleepover that my mom and I have been talking about forever
29. Meet Barack Obama
30. Meet Richie Sambora
31. Meet Debbie, I mean Deborah Gibson
32. Meet Rachel Ray
33. Meet Giada DeLaurentis
34. Visit Hawaii
35. Visit Italy
36. Visit Japan
37. Learn how to make sushi
38. Have my next birthday dinner in the private room at Haru
39. Do a Trash the Dress Picture (yes my wedding dress again- I am obsessed- what can I say?)with my sexy hubby
40. Bill $250,000 at work by my 4th year
41. Learn how to sail
42. Ride on a motorcycle
43. Wear a bikini again
44. Feel comfortable in a Victoria's Secret Thong (i am not being gross just honest) ;)
45. Look great in a pair of True Religion Jeans
46. Look great in a True Religion Jean Skirt
47. Run a succesful dance studio
48. See my brother marry Gina AND of course help with the planning of that wedding too!
49. Snorkle
50. Swim with Dolphins
51. Get my lobster license
52. Get my clamming license
53. Host a traditional clambake
54. Do the Wine Country Tour
55. Become a Wine Expert
56. Read 10 New Books a Year
57. Visit the Island of Capri
58. Get Red Sox season tickets and take full advantage of them
59. Take the Mommy and Me Swim Classes with Diana
60. Get matching Lily Pulitzer dresses for the Breton and Binda girls
61. Create a video scrapbook
62. Convert all of my VHS tapes of my shows at UMD onto CD and MP3 formats
63. Forever keep up with my scrapbooking even though I have converted to digital ones via Shutterfly and Blogging
64. Get on top of finances and learn how to invest our money wisely
65. Grow to a ripe old age together with my husband who is my one true love
66. Build my one true love that music studio he has always dreamed about
67. Record an album with my hubby and musician friends
68. Perfect Nani Binda's Risotto Recipe which will take help from her and God- she died with the recipe
69. Make our traditional Italian gravy on a regular basis (and make my family proud)
70. Start golfing on a regular basis
71. Join a country club/boat club/beach club/pool club for the commaraderie
72. Have a UMD Reunion for the Classes of 1994, 1995 and 1996
73. Build the performance stage and put up the lights at Griffin Park
74. Like my Hair
75. Be Able to Vote for My Stepson Zack for Governor, then Senator, then President
76. Be Able to see Kayla as a Regional District Manager for a Leading Retailer
77. Visit Mon Cherie Sharon IN FRANCE
78. Find an aerobics dance class that I love again
79. Visit my Shan in Cali
80. Make it to my cousin Chris'wedding
81. Buy my Dad a Dude Ranch
82. Enjoy a nice raw bar with my dad again
83. Do a "boot camp" with my mom
84. Run a race with my mom
85. Become Fluent in Italian
86. Meet John and Kate (plus their 8!)
87. Be in a Movie
88. Teach my Children True Unconditional Love
89. Make More Friends...You can NEVER have too many
90. Drink From a Chocolate Fountain
91. Go to a Fondue Restaurant
92. Get my belly button pierced (once i have a flat stomach of course)
93. Help Bambi live a long healthy life
94. Add another WONDERFUL English Bulldog to our family
95. Teach Diana how to dance
96. Stay close with my children and stepchildren until I am old and gray
97. Guest star on Saturday Night Live
98. Eliminate my anxieties all together
99. Gain the trust and respect of all
100. Remain close to God for infinity

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mum's 60th Birthday Celebration Weekend!











We were able to enjoy such a nice weekend for my mom. My parents paid for Rob and I and Matt and Gina to join them in Portsmouth for the weekend. Well we had a BALL and really discovered that we are a VERY fun group...not trying to brag...just the truth!

We enjoyed staying in a suite overlooking the ocean in New Castle at Wentworth by the Sea...a spa on the ocean...and what a spa it was!!!

We met up at the Fox Run mall Saturday morning and really enjoyed the "South Beach" store that my mom loves so much. She treated Gina and me to a piece of jewelry each- Gina picked a funky pair of sterling silver earrings and I picked a funky silver watch...we had so much fun and I swear the three of us browsed in there for about an hour!!!

Prior to that, while waiting for my parents, Rob and I made a special trip to the Baby Gap and bought Diana her first outfit!!! It is the most ADORABLE mini jean skirt with flowers on it, a white tee shirt onesie and a fisherman's hat to match the skirt that has the same flowers on it- I really want to BITE THE SKIRT because it is SOOOO FLIPPIN CUTE!!! Everyone was hysterical over it becasue it is sooo small...she will be able to wear it at birth!! :)

After the mall, we headed to the Wentworth and enjoyed a fun lunch in the lounge. Matt and Mum got the lobster roll and honestly they were the biggest sandwiches we have EVER SEEN....never seen so much lobster in one place...they were pleased. Rob got a great burger...Dad got a rueben and Gina and I enjoyed the spicy thai chicken wings...did I mention this baby craves spicy food? Really weird! Anyway...we had some laughs...especially when it came to "napples" (private joke)...we laughed the way you do when you lose your breath...God was that good therapy!

After lunch, we got to check in and we were in AWE...my parents and I agreed that our place at the beach, some day, only needs to be a two bedroom townhouse, just like our Wentworth accommodations...it was just so beautiful and perfect.

So we got settled in and then dove right into a game of Scene It and had some big time laughs. I then surprised mum with her favorite kind of birthday cake- gold with butter cream frosting and we all indulged in cake and champagne.

We wiped ourselves out so much, everyone agreed it was nap time so that is what we did.

A few hours later, we got ready and headed into downtown Portsmouth. We ended up grabbing a cas dinner at the Gaslight Company...I had a tuna wrap with a side salad and the tuna, honestly, was the best tuna I have had in my entire life. My mom also tried it and agreed and said their secret ingredient was dill so NATURALLY we will be adding dill to our tuna moving forward.

After dinner, we decided that we liked the lounge at the Wentworth so much, we would head back there for the entertainment and then call it a night. They had a great jazz singer who also played the piano and we stayed there for a drink. I got really crazy and ordered an herbal tea which was fantastic ;)

The next morning, Rob treated me to a massage in the spa...it was a maternity massage and even though I was still in pain from Friday's procedure, I really enjoyed it. The therapist was so considerate and really focused on my back, neck and legs and it was WONDERFUL...Rob got a massage too and was quite pleased. After our massages, we took a dip in the inside pool and relaxed for a bit more.

Later on, the entire group went to the Wentworth Jazz Brunch and it was FANTASTIC...of course we laughed even harder...my brother ordered chocolate milk...enough said...if you know my hubby, you know my brother, NEVER LIVED IT DOWN!!! ha haa...Happy 60th Mum!! I can't believe I am writing this. You don't even look 40 and I am SO GRATEFUL that you are so youthful and fun and willing to do anything to keep having fun with life!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!!

And It's A.......


I am writing in my blog today because it is the first day, since our scare, that I can finally collect my thoughts and put my feelings into words.

Two weeks ago I opted to do what they call the triple screen blood test. This test is non-invasive and tests the blood for the three major genetic disorders- Downs Syndrome being one of them.

I got a call last Wednesday from my doctor, asking me if I had some time to talk and I knew right away that it couldn't be good. I was driving and had to pull over to the side of the road. She said my blood test came back abnormal and positive for being very high risk for carrying a fetus with Downs Syndrome. I crumbled...I was in shock and didn't know what to do.

She explained the first step would be the Level Two Ultrasound. This is how the doctor can take a look at the organs and check for what they call markers. Specific markers for Downs include a thickness at the base of the neck, weakness/flatness in the nasal bone, spots on the heart, dilated kidneys and shorter limbs to name a few. She said, after that, depending on the results, we could opt to do the amniocentesis. This is a test that Rob and I were trying to avoid since we know and understand how high risk it can be but we looked at the odds.

The Amnio is when the doctor takes a long needle and puts it into your stomach and through your uterus. He then draws about an ounce of fluid out of the amniotic sac. The diagnostic tests can then be conducted and this test is the only one that provides you with 100% accurate information/confirmation on genetic disorders.
Well because of the invasive nature of this procedure, there is a 1 in 600 chance of miscarrying. Normally, I would say no way however, because of my blood test results (being at a risk of 1 in 48 for carrying a baby with Downs), we opted to do the amnio immediately after my level 2 ultrasound.

What made me more nervous and upset was that my doctor's office called again first thing on Thursday morning and told me they could squeeze me in on Friday morning AND they were bringing in one of their doctors from Beth Israel. I told their office that we wanted the amnio, no question so they were able to get Dr. Lim from BI to do that as well after the ultrasound.

So, Rob and I headed to mass first thing on Friday, grabbed a bagel (barely choked it down) and then headed over to Winchester Hospital. I was crying when I walked in because I was so scared and so sad...I kept thinking..what did I do wrong? Was their some history in my family I didn't know about?

Well I have to tell you that the staff at Winchester Hospital was just wonderful. I already feel so comfortable going there because my mom works in the lab BUT the specialists were just so calming and could really relate to the fear I was feeling.

The wonderful nurse who greeted us is actually kind of a neighbor, which made me feel a bit better and she assured me that I would probably feel much better after the ultrasound because so many of these blood test results come back as false positives. I was thinking...God I hope she is right! As wonderful as my husband always is...I felt alone...alone, because I didn't want to worry anyone so we didn't tell anyone..not even my parents..which was very tough. So with my husband helping me walk...we went in.

The ultrasound went VERY WELL...it took about 45 minutes...VERY thorough to say the least. As the tech looked at every organ, she was pleased with what she saw. There was NO thickness at the base of the neck...there was a VERY Strong nasal bone...from our view...looks like our sweetie is going to have Daddy's nose (thank GOD!) She also measured the limbs and they were even longer than the target...the baby also weights about 8 oz which means ahead of schedule as well! The kidneys looked great..heart looked great, etc etc....we felt soooo much better.

We then had to go grab a drink and come back a half hour later when Dr. Lim would be arriving from Boston. I was still very scared...felt better about the prognosis but still very apprehensive about the procedure itself and the risk and the unknown.

It was time to go back up and I was shaking but not crying this time. Dr. Lim? Fantastic in one word- he is one of the best doctors in the country..he has four sons and he is one of the most patient people I have ever met. The techs and nurses told me he does amnios so often it is like brushing his teeth- second nature. Their calming words came true. The procedure went very smoothly. It was painful but nothing I couldn't fight and to make matters better, Dr. Lim was very pleased with what he saw on the screen. The baby cooperated too which meant that he was able to quickly get the needle in, withdraw the fluid and then take the catheter out. I was instructed to lie down for the rest of the day and rest. That is something I usually fight but for the first time in my life that is all I wanted to do..whatever I could do to help this baby!

Dr. Lim agreed to process our test and requested the "rush results" where we could get the preliminary information by this coming Wednesday. It is not the full report but it can tell you either way about the Downs concern.

Well, we enjoyed our weekend (that will be my next post) and were able to share some information with our parents, without causing much alarm.

Then yesterday, when I thought I couldn't make it through one more day, my Dr called me. I could not believe I was getting a call already and pretty much panicked immediately (per usual). Dr. Bose had great news for me. The prelim tests came back negative. All of the chromosomes that are tested for Downs came back normal! We still have to wait for our final results however we know the baby doesn't have this disease and we are so happy that she is okay!!!

Yes I said SHE....we are having a girl!!!!!! So Baby Diana Mary is 18 weeks today!!! I think I felt her kick for the first time in church on Sunday night too...on Palm Sunday...I think it was the music of the passion that was getting her going!! :) The picture attached is an ultrasound shot when the tech caught Diana yawning!!! Soooo cute!

We are thrilled and so grateful....prayers work.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ally Makes It to the Cheering State Championship!







Her team took 2nd place- not bad!!! They actually ROCKED- what an energetic and fun routine...Ally, of course, made the BEST faces :) Enjoy the pix below from the competition and pay special attention to the one of "Ally Jemima"

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Daddy Daughter Dance



So we were so excited to get the photo gig to cover the Daddy Daughter Dance!!! Cheryl Haas, Windham Rec Director, hired us for this popular event! It used to be held at Center School but it became so popular that Cheryl had to move it to Promises to Keep in Derry.

The night was a success although we agreed that 2 photographers will be needed next year- there was a line all night!!!

Very fun...included a sample picture and one my hubby took of me as he was testing the lighting...here I am at 16 weeks prego- God Help Us!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tuesday March 11th is Voting Day in Windham!!

So...allow me to get on my soap box....I think it is really important that everyone get out and vote on Tuesday. We have several warrant articles hanging out there that could be make or break for the high school athletic program. I am supporting article #s 2,5 and 6 on the school ballot AND article #22 on the town ballot. These articles will ensure that we get the much needed land swap taken care of and that the necessary fields are built to support not only Varsity programs but JV programs AND especially be able to bring football to the town of Windham!!! (That is a priority in our house). #5 supports building a 2nd access road and that one, I believe, is a no brainer- for safety reasons, we need an emergency route and more than one way to get in and out of that big building on the hill!

As far as school board candidates- I am supporting Mike Hatem and Chris Lane. I think they both, above all, have their act together, facts straight and proven experience to handle these tough roles over the next few years- yes,the most thankless job there is (2nd to being a step parent of course!) but one that we need desperately. We need more progressive folks on the board like these two individuals. They will ensure that we continue moving in the right direction as we continue to approve the articles that will provide our kids with the best academic, athletic and fine arts programs.

If you are a Windham resident, please join me at the polls. Let your voice be heard. We have about 10,000 residents and only 2,500 or so show up to vote- pitiful!!! We need YOU!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dream Dinners!






So, I know what you all are thinking...yes I do! After everyone's negative experiences at Super Suppers in Windham, why would you try this concept again? Can't you just cook your meals from scratch in an oh-so-creative way...when you start cooking on weeknights at 7 pm? Ha ha...ummm....no!

I believe in the meal prep concept and due to all of the positive feedback I was hearing about Dream Dinners in North Andover, I had to give it a shot. That is where the best friend comes to the rescue. Cass said, "I will have a Dream Dinners party....you will not believe the difference....Cathy is so nice and so flexible and I think everyone will have a good time."

Well..she did not disappoint! My mom and I could not believe the difference! Cathy was just so wonderful..friendly and hysterical and she has four kids!!!! I already look up to her :) She was so helpful and the entire experience was one that made us say....."we will be back very soon!" In fact, my mom is most likely going to do a party there.

So if you are new to this "meal prep concept", it is terrific for all of us working moms. Dream Dinners offers different meal choices each month, however, in addition to the new meals, Cathy also offers some "classic choices" which are some favorite meals. She also offered a great introductory package of 3 meals for $49.99 and most of the attendees last night took advantage of this option just to try it out. The meals I chose were honey lemon grilled chicken breasts, creamy chicken risotto and cider braised pork chops. There are different stations and instructions on how to prepare your main dishes. There is also a fridge with different sides and dessert choices you can take home.

To top off the evening, Cathy and her staff served us one of their specialty meals...a creamy shrimp risotto that was outstanding!!! As good as the risotto was, however, the lemon squares she served us for dessert were even better! I think I even dreamed about them last night...this means I need to go back and buy some-they were that good!

We had an absolute blast! Thank you Cathy! It was a fun night out for the ladies and my family will truly reap the benefits. We will be back soon. In fact, I am super excited to return!

I highly recommend Dream Dinners at 1211 Osgood Street in North Andover! Don't worry- you don't have to have a party there to enjoy this great concept! Set up an appointment to go in and fix your meals or you can even just walk in! Either way..give it a shot! You will not regret it...I guarantee love at first bite :)
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