Category Archives: family

Introducing Emma Irene

Hey guys! New Mom here. That still feels weird to write but it provides me with a new excuse for my delay in posting to the blog so I’m going to run with it.

Cool?

If you’ve been following along on social media, you’d be crazy not to know that Matt and I were greeted with an early Christmas present last month in the form of 6 pounds 5 ounces of sugar and spice and 20 inches of holy crap now we have a lot of pink clothing.

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Definitely not a boy despite nearly every stranger and friend’s prediction, Emma Irene Zalewski joined us at 1:20 a.m. on Christmas Eve and our world has been brighter ever since.

Emma Irene, newborn, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl

Leave it to me to bring you on a roller coaster of a journey of life and death in just two blog posts, but if you’ve followed our story for any amount of time you’d know that timing isn’t really our thing so it’s no surprise that these two major familial changes happened just a few weeks from one another.

If I told you we were a few weeks away from buying a new house too would you believe me?

It’s tradition in our family to tell your birthday story each year somewhere between when the plates are cleared from dinner and the cake is served. You may think this sounds redundant and in some cases it might be, but in our family, each year provides a new opportunity for relatives to share their perspectives from the day and bicker over ‘alternative facts.’ And if you play your cards right, each year provides you the opportunity to fine tune your birth story for oversharing with friends and family in the future.

I’ve also heard its tradition in the blogosphere to share a child’s birth story as a token post shortly following their birth.

So in an effort to make sure Emma is equipped from the get-go on both fronts, I thought I’d share a few details from the day she decided she’d like to share a birthday weekend with Jesus.

#blessed.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

The Friday before Christmas, Matt and I drove up to Springfield to celebrate the holiday with the Murphy/Bosch side. My mom was hosting her side of the family on Saturday and if all went well, we could stay and celebrate Christmas Eve with my family the next day. If we’re being technical, Springfield was just outside of the recommended distance for a 37 week pregnant lady but I was feeling good and had no indications that she would arrive early. In fact, I was fairly certain that she would be late, likely 8lbs and a boy so that just goes to show how good I am at this kind of thing.

Disclaimer: I’d like to clarify that my gut is typically right on nearly everything except apparently babies.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

I woke up around 4:30 Saturday morning with what I thought was just a reaction to the rich food we had the night before. (Shout out American Harvest for your labor-inducing seasonal handmade short rib ravioli). At this stage in the game the wake up time was not unusual nor was the random discomfort, although I hadn’t had any contractions previously. It wasn’t until the 30 minute mark of consistent every 5 minute cramping that I determined they might be contractions so I did what any wife might do, I let my husband continue to sleep and downloaded a contraction timing app on my phone and laid there and tracked them for the next hour, absolutely sure with each one they would eventually stop and Christmas could go on and we wouldn’t have to drive back to St. Louis and we’d have two more weeks to finish work projects and we’d get the tax break next year and my child would never come early unless it’s just like his or her father so it’s for sure a boy if this is for real and so on.

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After about an hour of consistent every 5 minute contractions I finally woke Matt up and brought him up to speed. I would tell you we rushed out of the house to get back home but once again convinced labor would either 1) stop or 2) take a really long time so instead we had breakfast, called the doctor, helped my mom set up for the party and then finally came to terms with the fact the contractions weren’t stopping and packed up to head back mid morning.

For the sake of time, I’ll fast-forward through the labor portion of the day which consisted of little more than a drive back from Springfield, a car seat installation, some present wrapping and hospital bag packing with a side of 7-minute apart contractions before we decided to head to the hospital around 5:30 pm. once again convinced they would tell us to go back home and come back another time.

Here’s a tip for all you winter Moms-to-be. Go into labor on Christmas Eve Eve and you practically get the entire labor and delivery floor to yourself.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

I don’t know why I was expecting more noise and urgency when we arrived at the hospital, but I was. Not so much for me but for another mom-to-be who I pictured rushing past me in a wheelchair while yelling at her husband just like the movies.

Instead we arrived on an eerily quiet labor and delivery floor to ‘susan’ who pressed the copy button slower than that frog lady from sing.

In the assessment room we found out 1) my OB just so happened to be the on call for the holiday weekend so he would come in and say hello and then 2) how loudly he could laugh when I asked if we were going back home after he checked me.

Instead he told us we’d likely have a baby somewhere between midnight and 3 am on Christmas Eve because we were already halfway there.

Um. Say what?

I would tell you the next few hours were spent killing time until I progressed enough to push but let’s revisit the fact this child clearly has her father’s sense of punctuality so we had just enough time to say hello and thanks for leaving your Christmas parties to come sit in a hospital waiting room for us to both sides of family before (as predicted) Emma Irene Zalewski arrived at 1:20 a.m. the morning of Christmas Eve.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Key accomplishments in her first few minutes of life:

1. A solid set of locks. Perhaps our first and only indication that she was a she was our OB noting that her hair was at least an inch long just prior to her arrival. #hairgoals

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

2. It’s a…girl! I had a feeling after point number one was established late in the delivery but we were both shocked and delighted at the surprise.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

3. An escape attempt by Emma when the nurses tried to weigh her. All staff and parents quickly learned that this girl could not only roll over to her side from birth but she had the potential of pulling herself out of an incubator if not monitored closely.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

4. Future middle hitter-sized hands and center midfielder-worthy feet, much to the joy of her sports-enthusiast parents.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma ireneEmma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

5. A strong will and a surprisingly cute face. Disclaimer: I never doubted Matt and I would have cute kids but the baby portion of the journey I was a little doubtful on. Fortunately God gave her a deflated version of my cheeks and Matt’s hairline so she’s off to a good start.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

It’s hard to believe we’ve had this sweet girl in our world for 4 weeks now. Provided I haven’t already overwhelmed all of you with Emma photo overload, we’re looking forward to sharing monthly updates with you as we continue on our new journey as a family of three.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

We can’t thank everyone enough for the kind words, meals, flowers, gifts and did I mention pink clothes? It sure is easier bringing a new life into this crazy world knowing she’s immediately surrounded by so much love and support.

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

Emma Irene, birth story, newborn photos, baby girl, christmas eve, newborn, welcome emma irene

With love, Sarah, Matt and Emma Irene.

Mummies, Monsters and Sweet Little Pumpkins

You may be wondering where this post is going based on the dichotomy of a title, huh?

Me too.

Don’t worry we’re all in this together.

I sometimes wonder what it’s like to plan out blog posts. To have them be strategic and organized versus a brain dump of the tiny elements of creativity or life updates I’ve managed to throw together last-minute in an effort to get them out of my head and onto your smart phone.

In reality it would take far more monetization of this blog and likely the hiring of an assistant to ever get to deliver you the content strategy you deserve.

In the meantime (aka always and forever) you are stuck with my random frequency and rogue content. Chances are if you’ve stuck around this long, a small part of you may even appreciate them.

Moving on.

If there’s one thing to get me back on track with blogging it’s a holiday. There’s a voice in my head in the month leading up to said holiday that starts to whisper:

“So, what are you going to make for Halloween this year?”

Soon, the whisper turns to a normal speaking voice that says:

“Only a few weeks left to decide. Better get some supplies just in case.”

It’s not my fault that this voice comes out more frequently whenever I’m near the baking or holiday aisle at Target. It just does.

By the holiday week, the tone gets an attitude and says things like:

“Well you might as well pack away all those new Halloween cookie cutters and sprinkles you bought for this year because there’s no way you have time to make spiders and cauldrons and headstones now. Don’t blame me, I’ve been bugging you for weeks to decide.”

And then, like most things in my life lately, I decide to throw something together last-minute after Matt suggests we just “buy some cookies at the store or something.”

“Blasphemy. Doesn’t he know we have a reputation to uphold?” 

So in the spirit of upholding reputations as we enter into another holiday season, I present a simple way to make a “homemade” Halloween treat fit for kids and adults alike.

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Mummy & Monster White Chocolate Oreos

  • 1 package oreos
  • 1 package vanilla almond bark
  • green gel food coloring (I used wilton leaf green)
  • candy eyes (wilton-baking aisle)
  • Edible food marker (black)

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In a large ceramic bowl, melt half of almond bark brick in microwave at 50 percent power for 2 minutes. Stir.

Using a wax paper covered cookie sheet as your landing spot, dip Oreos into white chocolate until covered and set on paper. Once all are dipped, place candy eyes and then put cookie sheet in refrigerator to set chocolate.

In a separate bowl, melt the other half of almond bark until creamy. Add a few drops of gel food coloring (water-based food coloring will stiffen your chocolate) and mix until you get your desired monster green.

Repeat chocolate dipping process on another wax paper covered cookie sheet. Add eye and sprinkles or any other monster features you see fit. Or add another eye and now that I look at them you have a pretty close resemblance to a Ninja Turtle.

Cowabunga.

While green monsters are cooling in fridge, pull white mummies back out and use remaining white chocolate to make mummy wraps. This works best if the chocolate has slightly stiffened but feel free to re-melt in microwave for thinner gauzing.

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So now that we got the spooky stuff out of the way, let’s randomly transition to the sweeter side of the season where pumpkins are growing and so is the size of my belly.

Last weekend we were fortunate to get together with our Chicago/Zalewski side of the family for a shower celebrating the upcoming arrival of Baby Z.

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All fall-themed decor credit goes to my sister-in-law and mother-in-law who created an adorable shower for Matt and I. Would you just look at those cookies?

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little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

little pumpkin baby shower, baby, party, little pumpkin, gender neutral baby shower

It was so nice to get together with everyone ahead of the holiday season. We can’t wait to celebrate with the rest of the family in just a few weeks.

 

For this child, we have prayed

It seems fitting that I begin any of my less-than-frequent blog posts lately with an apology. The intro is typically where I tell you how busy we’ve been or how sidetracked I’ve gotten with work or Finn or my success in developing a white chocolate chip cookie recipe with a texture hard enough to break records for Matt’s birthday this year.

The flavor was good, though!

So I suppose I should start this post by apologizing for my absence on the blog lately.

My bad.

The truth is I thought this would be one of the easiest posts I would ever write. After all, I’ve written this post in my head more times than I can count over the past two years. Drafting the words and willing the opportunity to actually be able to put them into print (or in this case digital format) to finally share them with our friends and family.

If you’re starting to worry, stick with me as this story has a happy ending, but given the road that brought us here, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the challenges we faced along the way.

Because as many times as I prayed for this outcome, I faced the reality of another month where the only draft I had was an alternate version that involved all kinds of tests and ‘it will happens’ and doubt.

I wanted to share the struggles we experienced because I know how many other couples face them too. I wanted to share them because I knew there were so many more that would continue to struggle even after our prayers were answered.

But I couldn’t find the words.

How ironic that when the time finally came where we felt comfortable enough to share our good news, I still struggle to find the words to actually share it with you.

For those of you keeping track, you can go ahead and mark this down as one of the few times I was ever at a loss for words in my life.

Ok, let’s move on.

And don’t think I was the only one. A lot of folks get prayer credit for this blessing. Bonus points to my mom for including it in her Lenten journey this year.

So without further ado as I just totally buried the lead by making you read this far, Finn has some news he’d like to formally share with all of you.

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Sure he may look excited in this photo, but that was only after we told him that he and the baby would share a love for frequent naps and meals.

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Reality soon set in once he realized all the attention would no longer be focused on him on a daily basis.

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We are overjoyed to be able to share our good news with all of you and we are looking forward to an exciting New Year. Thank you for your continued prayers. We can’t tell you how much it means to us to be surrounded by so much love.

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The year of cotton

Can you still count yourselves as newlyweds if you sit down to dinner the week of your second wedding anniversary and agree that neither of you have anything important on the schedule this week?

Oops.

The truth is year two was just about as full as year one, minus a few international soccer trips.

Let’s take a look back:

After learning of a great job opportunity back in the Midwest, we soaked in as many sunsets as we could during our last summer on the Gulf Coast.

 

Another week in the books

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2 of 2.

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We finally got around to checking a few items off our Sarasota bucket list:

Because #mangroves #sarasotabucketlist

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We celebrated a new set of newlyweds back on our old stomping grounds.

We visited NYC. Separately but it still counts.

We said goodbye to great friends in Florida.

We survived Hurricane Hermine and multiple broken down Penske trucks in our attempt to leave the State of Florida. You can read more about that adventure here.

We moved into another new house and we (ok mostly I) obsessed over our first fall season back in the Midwest:

Dear fall, You're my favorite. Sincerely, Sarah

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We loved being so close to friends and family for the holidays again:

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We attended our first Blues game and tried our best not to let on that we were Blackhawks fans.

St. Louis Blues Hockey, Blues,

We formalized our lunch dates and moved them outside the training room.

We finally got back on the slopes for a fun trip to Vail for some spring skiing.

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And we kicked off summer concert season by reminding everyone that even thirty-somethings can dress down up and have a good time every once in a while.

Eric Church, St. Louis

 

To my sleeveless pearl-snap buttoned husband on our second wedding anniversary,

In the past year, we’ve gone from celebrating in separate countries and working weekends to Saturday date nights and Sunday Costco runs. We’ve traded flat sandy beaches for a hilly Midwest river town. But no matter the circumstances or the terrain, sharing this journey of life with you gets better every day.

That being said, I believe the second anniversary is cotton so I bought us some new sheets.

Sincerely,

Your lucky wife.

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Christmas Cookies: New Additions to the Family

If you follow me on social media and/or are a co-worker or family member (which let’s face it is about 99.9% of my readers), then you know I recently finished up a batch of sugar cookies.

I know what you’re thinking.

We get it Sarah. You bake. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

If that’s what you’re saying in your head right now, you’ll be happy to know I was ‘over them’ about a week ago. Truth is, if I don’t post about them today, we’ll be into the New Year and my sugar cookie-filled jolliness will be overwhelmed by resolutions and complaining about all the new people at the gym.

So in an effort to not repeat myself from year’s past posts about similarly shaped cookies, I’ll simply focus today’s post on the new additions to the Murphy Zalewski Christmas Cookie Family.

Fun fact: Did you know that Matt doesn’t even like these sugar cookies? Each year I end up making alternative batches of cookies and treats each year for him because he prefers a soft cookie to a hard one.

#peoplepleaser

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This year’s bunch featured some old favorites (see presents and trees) and a few newbies.

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It’s amazing what opportunities open up when you decide to add two new colors to the mix. The trees got trunks, Frosty got a hat and nose and Frosty’s faceless friend Gingerbread George made an appearance.

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In other news I finally discovered that the squiggly portion of the ornament was actually the metal part so they joined the fam again after a few years of being shunned for their awkwardness around the holiday.

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And let’s not forget everyone’s favorite Santa, who got a spray tan and his brows done for the 2016 holiday season.

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In an effort to always improve, I thought this year might be a good time to share how far we’ve come with this particular Christmas cookie family.

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And just like the holiday season, some years your tree is pretty and some years Santa threw back one too many before the annual family photo. The important thing is that you all spent time together.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to make a long and unrealistic list of fitness and organizational goals for the coming year. Here’s to giving it the old college try!

Happy New Year!

 

Bad karma and good chocolate

Have you ever had one of those days where you knew the whole day was going to be off before you even left the house?

You know the kind. You’re just leisurely walking the dog (emphasis on the leisurely because your dog suddenly walks like a 90-year old who needs a hip replacement) when your phone jumps out of your pocket and shatters on the wet cement.

This weather has us all like…

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There’s something off in the universe, you think.

And how could you not wonder. Just a few hours prior the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. No seriously. They did. And they deserved it. Life will never be the same.

Do you ever think door frames and counter corners are out to get you?

Me neither.

Pop quiz.

Which of these items are essential for a successful post-work gym session?

A. Hair tie

B. Workout underwear

C. TWO socks

D. All of the above

Any guess what all these situations have in common? They require you to adapt. To shift. To consider wearing your glasses more often and to put out as much good karma as you can by texting your Cubs fan friends and family and telling them how happy you are for them.

Chocolate helps too. So here is a chocolate recipe I planned to post separately, but will now be forever linked to a really random few paragraphs about a string of bad luck and the team that finally broke the curse.

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Spooky Spiderweb Trifle 

  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 C Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • Oreos (I used Halloween Oreos)
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Cool Whip

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In a large bowl, mix cold water (or milk) into chocolate pudding mix. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Chop brownies and Oreo cookies.

Fold half of Cool Whip into pudding mix.

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Beginning with brownies, layer brownies, pudding mix, chopped Oreos in a trifle dish. Repeat until you run out of ingredients or reach the top.

img_5657

Add remaining Cool Whip to top. Drizzle chocolate syrup in a spiral. Using a toothpick, pull toothpick from center out to edge as if you are slicing a pie or a pizza.

Bonus points if you have a fake spider to add in the center. I didn’t so my spider is hiding under the whip cream and all you can see are her creepy eyes.

img_5658

 

 

Seasonal Changes

Pop quiz.

Where’s home to the one of the most successful franchises in baseball and soon two Zalewskis and a Finnegan Murphy?

Hint for Cubs fans: they have 11 World Championships so Chicago is out.

Site of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The first American city to host the Olympics.

Hometown to Jackie Joyner Kersey, Maya Angelou and perhaps most importantly, hip-hop artist and new country breakout, Nelly.

Batter up. The Zalewskis are taking our talents to St. Louis this fall.

IMG_9700

But why on earth would you leave Sarasota, home to the best beaches in the country, year-long sunshine, arts, culture and the most laid-back dress code you’ll ever encounter?

Decent Wednesday evening.

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A. Because we really miss gray winters and snow

B. Because alligators, fire ants and Trump supporters

C. Because we just love everything that goes into packing boxes and moving across the country

D. Because we were offered an earlier-than-expected opportunity to finally put down roots in a community we love, closer to friends and family and just in time to enjoy the best season the midwest puts on each year (insert all the I love fall hashtags here).

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If you answered “D” (with a sprinkle of “B”) you’re correct.

And while we are sad to leave Sarasota and everything never having to wear coats and closed-toes shoes has to offer, we know this is the right move for our family in the long run.

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Besides, since the Rams left town we won’t have to worry about standing in our driveway doing the SuperBowl Shuffle every Sunday.

You may be asking what our only sits under the AC vent, lover of the beach but not the water, greater swiss MOUNTAIN dog may be thinking about heading back to the midwest?

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Well, he loves car rides and cooler temps so we can only imagine he’ll love it as much as we think he will.  
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There’s at least one family member who will be pumped for a snow again after 3 years of 80-degree Decembers.

So that’s that. A little life update for you. My apologies for only using the blog for the occasional recipe and huge life change announcement.

You can rest assured that as soon as I come to grips with the fact that we just moved into a new house 4 months ago and have to do it again in less than 5 weeks, I’ll be back with more of the good stuff.

Until then we’ll be soaking up all of the sunsets and August humidity we can before heading back “home” this fall.

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