Sunday, March 1, 2015

Words Seem So Small, When My Heart Feels So Big

  Sitting here, the morning after a benefit concert held for my husband and myself at Kings Park High School I am still overwhelmed. I have the stationary to start writing out my ‘Thank You Notes’ (I was raised right) and I know that I cannot possibly send one out to everyone in attendance because unfortunately I do not know every person who was there. Never, in my wildest dreams did I think that eight years after my graduation I would be back in the auditorium experiencing what will most likely be one of the most heartfelt, touching nights of my life. At nine months pregnant I look back on what my husband and I are going through and almost can’t see the damage anymore. The cracks have been filled, twice over, by the amazing people in our lives and we could not be more thankful. I am compelled to write this, and please bare with me as I am emotional, and so very grateful. 

On January 6th 2015 I arrived home from running a quick errand to see a police car, my Father-In-Law and neighbor standing on the lawn in front of my apartment. Fearing somebody’s injury I paused in my car, while my Father-In-Law walked up to me and slowly said, “The apartment is on fire, where is Annie?”. Annie, our Dog was not in her crate as usual. I left her out since my Brother-In-Law was coming over to start work on the nursery. Seb, (the Brother-In-Law) was first on the scene and ran into the burning apartment to try to find our dog several times. I ran up to my door screaming her name while the Police Officer held me back since in my condition, it was important to stay as calm as possible. I was driven away by my Mother-In-Law while I shakily made the necessary phone calls to my husband at work, and my parents. The smoke was thick, and abundant. Every minute that passed was painful as we waited to see the fate of our pet. About ten minuets after the fire department arrived, Annie was rescued. Blackened, sick, but alive she licked my face and in those moments that is all that mattered. It took Steev two hours to get home, and when he did everything became too real, too quickly. The fire department cleared the apartment and soon family members were running into the place trying to salvage whatever they could. Luckily, we did get to save many sentimental objects - but our home - was gone. 

Truthfully, it was difficult not to take this personally. Who are you fire? Who are you to come in, tear my life apart and just leave? It was violating, and mean, and we really did not appreciate it very much. See, things were going in a really cool direction for us. Finally, we were starting a family - Steev was moving up in his job and things looked really bright. After the fire, things were a little dimmer for a while. Time moved extremely fast yet everyone was moving in slow motion. When my Mother took me shopping for clothes, I broke down in the shoe aisle realizing just how much I lost. When I finally brought myself to see what was left of the apartment, I saw the photos of my family and friends burned, my favorite mug shattered, and every ounce of love and effort we put into building our lives together scorched right in front of me. This brought the anger, this revealed the true pain, this is also what sealed the closure. It was time to move forward. The idea of perseverance was scary since we felt naked. It is sort of like being twelve again and deciding that you want to sit with a new group at lunch. Will it work out? Will they like me? Will we ever feel normal again? Is it worth it? We had no choice but to find out. 

While all of this was going on in our minds, we were taken care of. Our families, who are incredible, pretty much grounded us immediately. They came up with a plan and without hesitation we had shelter and security as my pregnancy rolled on and preparation had to keep going. The process of our recovery was launched by my cousin - who not only dug in my ransacked bedroom for my jewelry - but started an on-line fundraiser for us. As people donated I was reduced to tears on many occasions. Names of old friends, family members and strangers flooded in. Why us? My husband and I were floored, humbled, and truly shocked by the outpouring from our extended community. We are not people who ask for help. No. We are people who help, and accepting all of this was something I needed to be reassured of. It was too much, yet it was everything we needed. This support, this kindness gave us footing again. We could actually own a place of our own this year, we could actually move on in a big way. Our Son’s future was not lost in that fire - it was almost as if it was being born from it. As time pressed on, the check-ins slowed. The donations seemed to reach their top, and we were grateful. 

Painfully the trauma of all of this has been a slow and steady build that hides behind unexpected corners. So, when nearing the two month mark my stomach started to turn and the vulnerability was rattled by a few events that have followed in the wake of our loss. When an old friend reached out to me to check in, it made me smile. Jonathan Wibben and I were fast friends in first grade, and throughout school kept hanging out in the same circles. While adult life put distance between me and my theater friends of Kings Park High School, I’ve always held these people in high regard. They were kind of magical in a way, ridiculously talented with big smiles and warm hearts. We sang show tunes together at my Sweet Sixteen and still can laugh at jokes from our musical days. When Jon called me with Emily Truisi and informed me of ‘Welcome Home’ as a project I stopped dead in my tracks. The tears started and all I could utter was ‘wow’. I think as mortals we all fear oblivion. Being forgotten is heartbreaking and scary yet inevitable in a lot of ways. Yet, there I stood, thinking I was a distant memory to this wonderful group of people and never in my life have I been proven so, so wrong. I really cannot type how this felt. I could barely say the words to my husband. After stammering out what I could to him he quietly responded the same as I did ‘wow’. We took a deep breath while I cried with gratitude. 

Expectedly the anxiety of seeing the community and old friends crept up as we walked (I waddled) through the doors of Kings Park High School on February 28th 2015. The feelings of ‘who are we?’ and ‘we don’t deserve this’ crept up as I saw a ton of high school kids and volunteers who didn’t even know us running the lobby. Walking down the familiar hallway to the band room brought back plenty of emotion and memory, then entering the band room to see all of my peers just like we all were years ago right before a show was priceless. It was hard to address them, feeling as if no time has passed yet it had been a century all at once was difficult to grasp. These beautiful, wonderful people were all there to hug me and laugh while I tearfully said whatever I could to express my excitement and joy over this event. They were all prepared, and dressed and gorgeous and as I took it all in all I could do was smile. People show you who they truly are when you’re in need - and I saw them. I really saw them for what felt like the first time. 

I would not be Stephanie if I did not take a quick sidebar to say something that I thought was really important. While my old friends put their time and talent into this, my teachers helped secure the venue and get current students involved. Current students who have no idea who I am, who my husband is and whether or not we really did deserve this participated because of their teachers. A scantron and a number two pencil didn’t play guitar during one of the performances. A little blue book didn’t help run the lighting and sound. There were no multiple choice questions that led my former educators to donate their unneeded baby clothes or take time out of their retired life to attend. No, my teachers showed up because that is who teachers are. They are not just knowledge robots. They are shapers of dreams, securers of passions, and protectors of youth. They are guiders and doers and they face opposition as legislation gets passed that makes their required curriculum impossible and parents angry at them for no reason. The war on teachers needs to stop, because a test score did not come to my aid. My GPA did not facilitate this concert. My teachers did, and I will forever advocate for them, and for the arts because they not only got me through high school, but they didn’t forget about me either. 

To wrap it up, the benefit was wonderful. If you were taking bets on what act would make me cry, Shaye Miller’s rendition of ‘How to Return Home’ got me pretty good when it came to the tears. Then when the alumni came out to sing ‘In My Life’ I lost it. I told you, these individuals are magic, and I love them more than they’ll ever really know. When it came time for me to address the crowd, I had a ton of things prepared to say and yet I do not even remember saying anything. Returning to a stage that gave me a ‘home’ in high school brought up a ton of emotion and then seeing the outline of a crowd filled me with warmth. Thank you just does not seem like enough. What I wanted to express was much greater than a simple ‘Thank You’ yet that is what the English language has allotted for such an occasion. I stood up there, awestruck, with my son gently rolling to the side as I got emotional with my heart open and flooding the stage. The strangers, and old familiar faces that filled the room were spotlight enough. I was so proud to be someone who grew up in this beautiful town. I was so happy that my jaded disposition of expecting the best out of people was proven to not be so jaded. My outlook of going above and beyond for the little things in life or for the people in need came back and looked me in the face. To the community of Kings Park: We fully and completely intend on using all of your kindness and generosity to build a better, beautiful life for our son in our own home some day. Your thoughtfulness in attending, advertising and participating in this event for us is something I will carry with me forever - we will never forget this. Thank you, so, so much.  

With all of our love,
The Coiro Family 

Stephanie, Steev, Annie & (soon to be) Baby Holden 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 100 of 2014

Well, it has been forever since I wrote an entry! Probably because I will be starting a new blog in 2015 and 2014 was one insane roller coaster to be on. As per usual, I'd like to share my Top 100 of 2014, something I have been doing since 2007. I was going to retire the tradition, but after sitting with that decision today, I decided to buck up and figure out what I would consider my 'Top 100'. It was a weird wicked year, but I think I am ending it in a really great place. 

So here we go: 

100. Following every experience with gratitude set the tone for a year that was filled with the highest highs, and pretty low, lows. 

99. Probably the prettiest snow followed the first half of this year, and I loved every second of it. 

98. Yogi Tea and my new love of a cup of tea in the evening to settle my stomach and my mind. 

97. Ispy and my monthly new bag of make-up

96. Making more time to walk, get fresh air, and self care

95. Getting better at making more adult responsible decisions (gross). 

94. Cleaning out, purging, and getting rid of A LOT of the clutter 

93. Snapchat and all of the hilarity it continues to bring into our lives 

92. Crazy Crepe and their awesome catering 

91. Hot chocolate 

90. Crisp notebooks, and more effort in my writing ventures 

89. Traveling to Brooklyn more and exploring parts I never had before 

87. Taking myself on 'dates' to spend some time figuring out what I need, what I want and where to go from there

86. Long Island being a beautiful place to live 

85. Getting my hair waved and it lasting for almost 8 months of no blow drying or insane styling

84. Going blonde! 

83. Colored lipstick

82. Pizza. 

81. Anticipation 

80. Lowering expectations and learning when ones were just way too high 

79. My new camera lens for the New Year and just overall taking more and less pictures at the same time 

78. Veronica & Joey visiting 

77. NYC's restaurant week 

76. Learning how to use the subway system better

75. "Your number one better not be $10 on a Starbucks card" - Steev (he has a lot of faith in me) 

74. Seeing Imelda May twice and her being unbelievable 

73. Slippers and morning coffee 

72. Project Hope coming to an emotional and heartfelt close, me leaving knowing I was a good Leader, with an amazing team of beautiful people. I miss them every day. 

71. Setting limits with my cell phone. We needed some space. 

70. A growing belly :) 

69. A full body pillow 

68. Aromatherapy body lotion 

67. My Oswego gear from my awesome cousin Alyssa 

66. Buzzfeed and Bitstrips 

65. Amanda the Florist and her overall loveliness 

64. Feeling so much support from my family and friends when Paisley needed votes for countless things on-line. It was so gratifying knowing people believed in us. 

63. Facetiming with my little cousins, my little cousins in general - it's been a great year for cousins

62. Gilmore Girls and binge watching 

61. Netflix marathons 

60. My Catcher in the Rye print from Nicole 

59. Street Art & Doughnuts 

58. The Meetball Place

57. Unearthing a lot of old family photos and preserving them 

56. Causing a commotion in Victoria's Secret with our 'New Year's Tradition' 

55. The Rangers Making the Stanley Cup Finals 

54. Kaila's Sweet Sixteen 

53. The Mini-Van 

52. Max Brenner's with Nicole, Kjell and Steev to celebrate Paisley and how far we've come

51. Whole-Assing Everything

50. Viva Juans & Project Hope having a love/hate relationship and GREAT karaoke memories. 

49. The 'date jar' and exploring new places on Long Island and cooking new foods we never had before. 

48. The Walt Whitman Museum being charming, simple and just a lovely place to visit. 

47. The Redneck Louie-Q since it was hysterical and I got to wear my good denim 

46. Prospect Park and their free concerts outside in the gorgeous summer weather. 

45. Long visits at Tracey's Table, you really feel 'family' when you go to Tracey's 

44. Annie. because she's still the best dog ever 

43. Little kicks. Little rolls. Little bouts of pure joy. 

42. Voo-Doo Doughnut 

41. Easter Brunch, at City Cellar, not only delicious but a really nice touch to the holiday. 

40. Weekly dinners with my Dad (for the most part)

39. Salem in Halloween, our last actual Halloween there for a while 

38. Crazy Beans being my favorite new Breakfast place

37. Way more trips to Avalon with really awesome people

36. Pumpkin Picking and BBQ in Riverhead on a perfect fall day

35. Another magical Christmas with beautiful decorations, and fun Christmas Eve, a nostalgic Christmas and lots of love 

34. Traveling to CT with Katie to see Lana Del Rey in all of her moody glory - the road trip, weird lunch, and concert is now one of my favorite memories. 

33. Another pretty, fun, and full of laughter trip to Lake George 

32. My cousins in general, they are the greatest. 

31. My Brother's Paintings 

30. Alyssa's 20th Birthday in the city - the bad Italian place, finding Alice's Teacup, dealing with weird comedians, and just an overall wonderful day out with my awesome cousins

29. Visiting Cedar Point for a whole Saturday of Family Fun 

28. My pink typewriter. The hunt is over and my husband is the best.

27. Being more conscience of how and where I spent my time and energy. This year was filled with more of events, outings and visits than years past. 

26. Anti-Gravity Yoga coming into my life and proving to me that I am stronger than I think, and can have fun while reaching goals. 

25. My 25th birthday starting at The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Kings Park with my whole family singing to me and Amanda which was just hysterical. 

24. My 25th Birthday Celebration with friends at the shitty Bowlmor - ridiculous circumstances, best company. 

23. Steev's Birthday celebration for me, taking me to 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder' and a lovely dinner in the city on my actual birthday, it was perfect. 

22. This Picture: 

21. Babysitting Rylie & Haylie for a fun day of crafts and projects in the spring. Love those kids. 

20. My Valentine's Day Flowers - Steev worked a wrap and I didn't see him for two days but my flowers were gorgeous. 

19. Gunshow, the best restaurant we have ever experienced.

18. The Atlanta aquarium, I love aquariums and this one was out of this world. 

17. Flip Burger, being the best burger I have ever had. 

16. Visiting SIX new states together this year 

15. Paisley overcoming a lot of challenges and knowing enough to refine and refocus for 2015 - my business partnership with my best friend is one of the best decisions that I have ever made personally and professionally. 

14. Spa day with my Mother-in-Law and Sister-in-Laws for Mother's day. 

13. Paint the Town for Mother's Day with my Mom…I need to 'brush up' on my skills. 

12. My trip to Plattsburgh - a beautiful train ride to see my awesome cousins for a weekend of fun. 

11. The Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium with newbies Big Steve, Seb & Kaitlyn - which was a below zero day and yet so incredibly fun. 

10. Seeing Shovels & Rope (one of the best and coolest bands ever) across the country and in NY 

9. Jack White in Boston - a fun mini fall vacation and a killer concert at Fenway Park where we were SIX rows from the stage. Incredible. 

8. Vacationing in Seattle and Portland. A beautiful, relaxing and overall cool trip to the West Coast together was much needed and much appreciated. I'd go back to Seattle in a second - we really loved it.

7. Georgia for Lenny & Laura's wedding where we connected with old friends and experienced a lovely, wonderful union of two amazing people. This trip turning into friendships reforming with Chris, Lauren & Pat and that just being way cool. 

6. Finally getting to Florida to see Jen, Brandon (meeting Bruno) and my cousins after about a year of planning. The trip was cut short, but it was still really great to see my friends and family in their homes. Cannot wait to make this trip a tradition. 

5. Boston with the siblings for St. Patrick's Day. Liz & Seb invited us along for their annual tradition and it was a blast, plus The Dropkick Murphy's were awesome and we love Boston. 

4. Krystal's Bride Day, which was a labor of love, and just overall everything I wanted it to be for her. From the bonding over decoration making, to the surprised look on Krystal's face when she walked into her brunch, and then had an 18 hour day of Bridal Celebration and held fast like a champ, it was awesome. Any day with my cousins is lovely, but this one was special. 

3. Our Gender Reveal Party - there is something so wonderful about making a huge announcement in front of everyone you love to share such a moment. It was stressful to put together (planning while pregnant is not my forte) but it was a memory I will always cherish. 

2. Starting the year off with Steev's Surprise Graduation Party. I worked so hard to put a day together to show how proud I am of how hard my Husband works for me, and for everyone. The look on his face and the happiness that carried him throughout the year knowing everyone was proud of him was worth every second of suspense keeping this surprise a surprise. So proud of Steev and everything he does for us and everyone - this was the best way to kick off the year. 

1. Our Three Year Anniversary - it started with us talking about how lame this celebration was. We were so used to going away, and this one was just being spent in the city for dinner. After a delicious meal at David Burke's Kitchen, we arrived home. While at home, we found out that we were expecting our son. After two months of being tested for Lyme, it turns out I was pregnant all along - the news was an exuberant surprise, and seems to overshadow everything of 2014, and is something that we are so looking forward to in 2015!

All I know is that this year I surrounded myself with people and places that I love - and it turns out that I feel like I am missing SO MUCH from 2014. Thank you all for participating in this silly tradition again and I hope 2015 brings you everything you wish for!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Support Small Business: Events by Paisley Needs Your Votes!

I know I do not have a large blog following, but it cannot hurt. 

Last year, my best friend and I dove in and started our own business. 

The first year has been educational, fun, and awesome. We have had 3+ experience working together, now we are on our own. 

Obviously starting a business is tireless, and expensive, which is why we would benefit a great deal from the Small Business, Big Grant from FedEx. 

You can check out Events by Paisley's website here 

You can vote for Events by Paisley here 

Your efforts are greatly appreciated, your time is not spent without gratitude. We are truly humbled by the support of our community and by total strangers. Every day from now, until Feb. 23rd you can vote once a day. We would love to be finalists - and if you can find a few moments to help support local business we truly appreciate it!

Thanks so much,
The Paisley ladies 
Stephanie & Nicole 

Monday, February 3, 2014

January Date Jar

Thanks to Pinterest, my post: Nice to Meet You 2013 gained a ton of popularity. I figured I owed some sort of progress of this project/idea since the tons of re-pins. 

To tell the truth, last year was a bust. My husband had back surgery the second week of Jan. and we had one date, and one recipe and one on deck. The days passed by, the jars stayed full, and I was pretty disappointed. So, in 2014, we started up again. January was awesome because of it. We got to three dates and three recipes, we skipped week one because we got one date and meal in last year so now our  jar is even. 

Week 1
Date: Go see a movie Meal: Presto Pesto Chicken from Rachel Ray 

This was great because we really needed a low key night out, the theaters had a lot of great choices and we decided to go see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 

This movie, was really incredible. The write ups did not do it justice, Stiller did a superb directing and acting job. The cinematography was beyond beautiful and the story was touching a realistic. Not to mention the soundtrack was perfect. I loved this film so much and it put me in the best mood ever afterwords. 

We got home and opened our cookbook. The best part of the recipes we put in the jars was that we put what we were cooking, what cookbook it can be found in and on what page. We have a cookbook holder and we decided to keep the recipe we will be enjoying should be displayed through the week after out first experience. After coming home from a great movie we got to cooking. 

We cook together, as a team. For this, I was in charge of the 'pesto' and pasta and my husband was in charge of the chicken (butterflying and tenderizing). 

This was yummy and perfect to op off our night with. We score recipes as 'remake' or 'rematch'. The 'rematches' get made again with mixed up ingredients to hopefully make it better. The 'remakes' get stored to be learned as a regular meal option. This meal became an immediate 'remake'. 

Week 2
Date: Go to Babylon village and find a new place to grab a bite Recipe: Stuffed Eggplant from Rachel Ray 

Because of the nature of this week's date, we did the date and recipe on different days. 

We went to Babylon and stopped into the Argyle Grill and Tavern and had a delicious meal in a beautiful casual setting. Before we ate, we actually stopped by a little bakery for a cupcake and indulged in some dessert first. My crab cakes were perfect, and my husband's steak sandwich made him exceptionally happy. The best part of this date is it brought us to a village that we do not frequent yet we love. 

Then, the recipe came on a different night. 

Two Rachel Rays in a row! This one became a 'remake'. The stuffing was flavorful and delicious, but the eggplant was a little odd. As we ate, we decided the stuffing would taste better with a little spice and possibly in a pepper instead of an eggplant. So, this month we plan on 'remaking' this recipe (I will write about it in next month's summary). 

Week 3 (Last week of January) 
Date: Go to Walt Whitman's Birthplace Recipe: Spicy Chicken Tacos (Rachel Ray again) 

This week actually came with a bonus date:

We attended the Rangers Islanders game at Yankee Stadium. Froze, but had a BLAST. 

The next day, we traveled to Walt Whitman's Birthplace in Huntington 

I'd like to say this: This small, simple attraction is right in our backyard. They do poetry readings, and events for children and adults. We were the only two there to tour the home and walk around the displays. The volunteers there are so sweet and we got to see something new and refreshing. Me, being the nerd I am was overly excited to see American Poetry displayed so proudly. I think for any parents out there, making this a 'family date' is a definite. 

Then we came home and got to cooking 

We love tacos. We normally just buy a kit, use the seasoning and boom tacos. So this, was an awesome twist to a normal favorite. Making our own seasoning and cause was more delicious than we thought - this is a for sure 'remake'. 

Forcing us to make time for these dates has gotten us out of the house, exploring the place we live, and has also improved the contents of our refrigerator. Cooking together has been a blast. 

For those who missed the original post I linked it up top. These dates we hand picked by the two of us - not knowing what the other ones wrote (26 each, adding up to 52 so we can pick one a week for the whole year). Every week it is so exciting to see what is in store for the next. 

If you have any questions about the places or recipes above feel free to comment. I will update about this month next month as well! 

Without Wax,

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 is over, 100 things that made it great

Well, I have not posted since August - but that does not mean I will miss my annual Top 100 list. This year, my NYE message is much different than it has been. The past few years I have been eager to see the year end, but this year, I feel different. This year was not less challenging than the others. Jan. 2013 started with myAunt Fran gaining wings and Steev getting cut - but I honestly and truly had a great year. I am going to miss it - and instead of expecting more of 2014, I am just excited to see what is next - so before I get too sappy here is the list of a bunch of personal things that may not make sense to many people (but I am seven years in and can't stop now) of the 100 things that made this year great. 

100. While Steev's surgery didn't provide great results, hearing his voice after hours of waiting during his surgery was one of the best moments - ever. 

99. Music this year was awesome. I got into so many different bands, and listened to music more frequently. 

98. My nails. 

97. I cut all of my hair off and while I am not always feeling it, it also felt good to get rid of it. 

96. I worked on doing away with masks, the ones that I wear, the ones that I am afraid of, and it has been so brutally freeing. 

95. Origami Owl - love my new jewelry 

94. My new Third Man Records headphones 

93. and the many hours I spent downloading and designing. I love words. I love font. Deal with it. 

92. How many hours did I spend on Buzzfeed? I regret nothing. 

91. Ipsy - discovering ways to feed my product addiction - again - I regret nothing 

90. My new Bare Essentials regimen and pretending I am a little more low maintenance 

89. My Christmas Decorations this year made me happy 

88. Texas Roadhouse 

87. Discovering new food and new restaurants 

86. Instagram. Yup I finally got an iPhone, downloaded Instagram in 9 months I have added almost 500 photos. You ain't about this life. 

86. You ain't about this life coming into my constantly used phrases 

85. My photo wall being new and improved with art and constantly updated photos.

84. My lipsticks. 

83. Caring less about money and more about living life 

82. Getting to Theater Three to see The Spelling Bee - Jackie Hughes you are one amazing person and I am looking forward to becoming a regular audience member. 

81. Taking myself on dates, and spending more time with myself. It was peaceful keeping myself company and bringing myself to the city, to the theater and to just places. It was fun getting to know myself better. 

80. Learning more about astrology and teaching myself something new. 

79. Steev & I both filled each other's stockings with toys and childlike things which was so fun on Christmas Day 

78. The blizzard, bitch all you want but the snow was gorgeous, fun, and brought me nothing but joy. 

77. Ceil brought me a note I wrote her when I was about 6 when she used to poke me, I wrote a note saying I was poking her. Mark Z stole from me too. 

76. My cousin Meghan got married, and the wedding was gorgeous. 

75. Photos like this:

74. And this:

73. And this:

72. And this: 

71. And this: 

70. And this: 

 69. And this:

68. And this: 

67. Still not knowing my camera too well but capturing moments nonetheless. 

66. Not apologizing for sentimentality - there is nothing wrong with being touched by things. 

65. Also, not apologizing for being a paparazzi - those photos are only a few highlights of moments captured. 

64. Photo booths - those are so much fun, always, what is with that? 

63. Having people over more often

62. Cooking more 

61. Going out more 

60. No longer fearing my ambitions 

59. Those really cute gift boxes from Walmart for Christmas 

58. All of the adorable, loving pets in our lives 

57. My cousin Haylie's funny, precious one-liners

56. Snapchat and how it hilariously keeps us all connected 

55. Bacon Bash - yes - I attended something called Bacon Bash this year 

54. Jessie's graduation party & Jessie letting me do her make-up for Prom which was so fun for me and she looked so pretty! 

53. BREAKING BAD - Uncle Matt & Aunt Vicki fed our addiction and now without it I don't know if we can be revived of this crash 

52. More time with family and the people I love overall. 

51. My Christmas Cards - my arm may still be numb but I care about sending them. 

50. Hey, my nose ring is back!

49. My tattoos. I went from two to seven this year adding 5 pieces that make me so happy. I love what each one means to me and how beautiful they all are. Looking forward to more ;) 

48. Liberty Tattoo in general - love supporting honest, hard working business people and love this shop. 

47. My time at Little Lotus may have ended this year but I loved the time I spent there with Susan and the kids 

46. Fashion shows with my cousins and being able to give a lot of what I don't use to people who can use it and appreciate it. 

45. Being able to identify with travel stories and share some travel advice. 

44. Going Down Port more than twice 

43. Us getting my Mother-in-Law her first Tiffany for her 50th birthday and celebrating with her 

42. My Mom's gorgeous Christmas table 

41. Syracuse, and cousin trips becoming a real, regular thing. 

40. Zoo and aquarium trips in general. 

39. Citi field is pretty nice, so are free Met Games - but I still dislike baseball  

38. Baby Kirsten, she is so beautiful. 

37. Seeing friends more, even if it was just for a little bit (Coffee with Jen, free concerts with Anthony) it is nice to keep connections there 

36. Speaking of concerts…

35. The Sound City Players for Valentine's Day (um, Stevie Nicks - STEVIE NICKS)

34. Pokey Lafarge (and Luke Winslow King)

33. The Devil Makes Three 

32. Trampled by Turtles (free concert in Brooklyn, the whole group may have bailed but I waited all day to be first so Steev and Anthony could enjoy with me) 

31. BNL & BF5 

30. The Counting Crows 

29. P!nk 

28. Seriously, great year for concerts for me 

27. Amanda's Halloween Party

26. Our third Halloween in Salem - our costumes were creepy and cool and the vacation was so fun. 

25. We bought a car. I am pretty proud that we bought a car, and it is ours, and I absolutely love it. 

24. My 24th Birthday was one of the best days ever. Steev planned such a beautifully sweet and simple day that made me relax and feel special. It will always be a perfect memory. 

23. Seeing my Addictions Girls grow and flourish. Alexa is a flight attendant, Tori is traveling all over, Sam & Patti keep in touch and Riley you continue to make me smile - you ladies are amazing and I look forward to seeing what else you do! 

22. The anticipation for Tracey's NYE party tonight. 

21. The Rise with Liz, Seb, Katie, Steve and Steev - the pumpkin walk may have been an overhyped fraud but spending more time together this year was really, really nice. 

20. Finally getting some of Tracey's famous Irish Soda Bread!! 

19. Showing some people my writing and pushing myself to keep going. Also making more time to write this year really paid off (and which is why I may have blogged less) 

18. Amanda the Florist's wedding to Pete - seriously - best wedding. Cocktail hour (wow), flowers (expected wow - but impressive wow - and totally HOLY WOW), and the most beautiful dress, bride, and couple. So happy to have new friends and be a part of their journey! 

17. Spending a lot of time at Hallockville and being a part of their wedding showcase this year. What incredible opportunities it has brought. 

16. My Uncle Matty O turned 90, had a day declared for him, and just proved that Nice Guys only finish last at living a long happy life. 

15. Annie's 4th Birthday and her continuing to be the best damn dog on earth. 

14. Even though DC sucked, we celebrated 2 happy years of marriage. 

13. Nashville. We went to Nashville and it was awesome. Going to Third Man, hanging out down town, and seeing the most gorgeous fireworks I have EVER seen in my life on the Fourth of July - it was a great vacation. 

12. My parent's lent us their car for the first few months of this year and it saved our asses and allowed us time to research and buy our car. My in-laws continue to be there for us whenever we need an egg, or someone to watch Annie. I cannot thank them enough for being there for us this year - it means so much having people who we know will support us through anything. 

11. The annual cousin city trip - the group keeps growing, but the fun stays the same. 

10. Going back to Middlebury Vermont for Steev's Birthday. 

9. My Brother Tom's paintings. They are beautiful and interesting and I am so happy he has been doing them, and so proud to have one hanging in my home. 

8. Alicia coming into our little friendship family and becoming the most wonderful girlfriend for Big Steve who has been a true and important friend and part of our lives. 

7. Lake George in April with Manda, Alyssa, & Katie. This girl's trip was incredibly awesome and I love you ladies more than I could tell you and cannot wait to make this a tradition! 

6. Krystal got engaged. Calvin proposed. My older cousin, the beautiful, smart, funny, driven woman that I have looked to my whole life for advice and comfort is getting married to a man who loves her and values her for everything she is. What is better than that? Nothing. 

5. My cousins - sure the stuff we have done is all over this countdown but they deserve their own space. This year has been fuller because we have spent more time together and talked more overall. They are more than just blood relatives, they are true friends and the reason why the years are worth living. 

4. Steev's graduation. My heart grew seven sizes watching the man I love shake hands with his mentors as he accepted his certificate as a Car Repairman. Sure, to most people this looks like a promotion - but he worked so hard for nine months to achieve this position and I could not be prouder to have him as my husband.

3. 2013 meant that it has been ten years since 4-15-03, and while we are working on forever, Steev and I paused to reflect on 10 years together. We started our relationship as kids, group dates and disposable cameras were a regular thing. We were on the phone for hours at a time and relied on nightly AIM conversations. We knew we were more than just a silly childhood love story, and here we are together and stronger than ever. My husband, my love, my best friend chose me when I was fourteen years old and we have never looked back. 

2. Paisley becoming an LLC. I got a text on Good Friday that we were official and from that moment I have become a business owner. My best friend, Nicole Mastromonica is hands down the best business partner there is. I am sure we drive each other nuts and disagree about dumb things but it has never, ever, effected our friendship or the business. I am eager, and excited to see what 2014 brings for us. It can only go up from here - we're sure to make Events by Paisley a known and respected name in the industry, just you wait. 

1. Project Hope. This job that I dared to last longer than 2 months is now facing it's end. I started as an unsure Crisis Counselor and am concluding this journey as a Team Leader. Last year I had just started Project Hope, and ending a chapter of my life that left me a little lost. The people I have met, the friends that I have made have reassured my outlook of people and of life. I was sure I would never meet friends and make deep connections that would be returned. For the first time people brought me out for my birthday - and meant it. For the first time I could tell someone something personal and revealing and not feel judged or afraid. For the first time I met people who could make me laugh louder, cry harder, and never prove me wrong. Through the work in the community my spark came back, and through these people, I came back. I love, love, love my team - and even though it is all ending this part of my life will hold such value. So Maureen, Melissa, Josh, Donna, Theresa, Pete, Nicole, Kristin, Maria, Maria, Donna, Mike, Erick, Patti, Danielle, Hector, Frank, Janet, Elissa, Franci, Jonathan, Joe, Jon, Lou, Bob, Theresa, Ruth, Ronni, Khadija, Whichimine, Linda, Beth and anyone I may be forgetting you have been a part of my personal journey this year. Your friendship and dedication to what you do has shown me so, so much - you will all never know how much you truly mean to me. 

Always <3 

Bring it on 2014 - 2013 made me know that I am ready for ya ;) 

Have a wonderful New Year everyone, hope to see you all soon!