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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Family | 0 comments

The End Of An Era

The End Of An Era

Today marks a bittersweet day in our life. My family and I are going to my grandmother’s home of over seventy-five years to empty its contents and prepare it for a new owner. It is sweet for bringing that chapter of our lives to a close in a humble and respected manner yet bitter for the sheer fact that it will be the last time I set foot in a home which brought an amazing amount of joy to our lives and solid proof that she, my outstanding little grandmother, is really gone forever.

I suppose a bit of history is necessary in understand the meaning behind this house. My grandfather purchased this quaint home in the 1930’s in a small city in Upstate, New York as a gift for his newlywed, my grandmother, as a place to raise their family. They had three boys, all of whom were brought up here. When my grandfather passed away in the 1960’s, his sons felt the need to allow their mother to continue to reside in the home. In the time that I walked through the oriental rug-adorned floors, there was merriment, laughter, pure joy and celebration that often took place. The stucco walls witnessed many gatherings of beloved ancestry, years and years of history is held among the Venetian artwork that hangs on those walls.

We visited her quite frequently. In my younger years, we would go for every holiday. At Christmastime, she would have shopped for all the right food and have it displayed and ready for her grandchildren to share. She adorned her home in many decorations, and we would often bring the tree and trim it together, as a family. The silver strands of tinsel dripped from its branches and vintage bulbs lit the front nook of her vast living room. She had the most tacky centerpieces for a well-set dining table, always prepared to serve a delicious meal. Over the course of our winter break from school, we would dine on fresh rib roast, ravioli and meatballs with her homemade sauce, and salads with her unforgettable vinaigrette dressing. She cooked it all in a small kitchen in wallpaper printed with a floral repeat and faux-wood cabinetry which my father had redone for her over the years to surround her with beauty as she created. After Christmas came New Year’s Eve, a holiday that holds the most memories in my mind.

New Year’s Eves were celebrated by all of our relatives, near and far. Great Aunts and Uncles would come with their children and later, grandchildren and even some great-grandchildren, and we would eat, drink and be merry with the best company money couldn’t buy. Mary, Jeanette, Helena and Joe, Edith and Joe – my paternal grandfather’s side of the family – would sit in one area of the house but mingle with the other relatives as if they were their own. Tony and Mary, Laura and Art, Peter and Lillian, Julia, Francis – siblings and their spouses from my paternal grandmother’s side – made their way through the house, making quite sure to talk with everyone they passed. We mingled and mixed like a scene from The Great Gatsby, at least that’s what it felt like as a young girl. We had noise makers and horns ready to sound at midnight. Our party hats were on, literally and figuratively, which sometimes displayed the ‘Happy New Year’ message clearly for all to see. The archway between her living and dining rooms was strung in multi-colored balloons that we filled with air from our very own lungs in the hours before. One of my favorite memories was from my Uncle Tony, my grandmother’s brother, who concealed a pin in his hands and would casually walk by the balloon arc and pop one at random. The laughter that followed rings in my head to this day. Oh, the joy! Music sounded faintly from the record player, usually some old Italian songs. Sometimes I would sit and play the baby grand, another gift from my grandfather to my grandmother at one point in their lives. Little curly-haired heads of gray and white, fresh from the beauty salon, would gather around me and sing. Close to midnight, the champagne was poured and we all sipped to toast to a new year. We hugged and kissed, we danced a little, maybe sang along and swayed, arm-in-arm, with Auld Lang Syne. Shortly after midnight, we would gather in the dining room to sing Happy Birthday to my Great Aunt Mary, Tony’s wife, who was born on the first of the year. Of course then, we ate cake and chattered some more, catching up on what the year has brought to our lives.

When I was a teen, I resented going. I did not realize the value these celebrations held, and I wanted to party with friends. My father would tell me, “Come. Enjoy. For one day they will all be gone and you will be glad you did.” He was right. He was so very right. What I realize now, and fortunately before those beautiful people left our world, is that nothing will ever compare to those moments. These were wonderful, lovely souls, gathered together to bring joy to each other and to us.

The home was filled with life. So many smiles, so much happiness in one home, it’s a wonder we didn’t float away.

One by one, however, they disappeared. Most living into their eighties and nineties, they aged and had to move onto bigger and better things.

You see, I’m not one to hold onto things. I am able to let go, to throw away the past and look to the future, to face reality without needing something to remember. Ah, but you see (as the eighties band Naked Eyes sings so clearly), “There’s always something there to remind me…”. Be it a physical reminder or a memory within our minds, we will never forget. Sometimes we simply run out of time from one part of our lives and prepare to move onto another.

Today, the house is empty. The contents will soon be gone. There is no aroma reminiscent of a freshly cooked meal. The music no longer plays.

The time has come.

Cheers to moving upward and onward! Cheers to those beautiful faces who taught me unconditional love from the very beginning! Cheers to their souls which shall never perish and most certainly live within us each and every day! Cheers to laughter and happiness, to fun and celebration, to joy and love! Cheers to the good people, the really good people of the world!

Salud! A la famiglia!!

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Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Children, Education, Family, Homeschool, Kindergarten, Memories, Motherhood, Parenting, Preschool, Stay At Home Mom, This Is Homeschool, Toddlers | 2 comments

This Is Homeschool: 01.16.14

This Is Homeschool: 01.16.14


We’ve been spending lots of days in our jammies (you’ve got that right – full days in pajamas – simply because we can). Between multiple illnesses among us and the freezing cold temps outside, why bother getting dressed?! Today, being a ‘recovery’ day, we decided to stay in our pj’s & do things like play cards, dye noodle necklaces (post coming soon), read, & do workbooks and a few other projects.

We love playing cards for so many reasons. As homeschoolers, it teaches us various concepts such as numbers, taking turns, strategy, planning ahead…and as a family, it brings us together for some time, usually a long time, and teaches patience as well as how to win and how to lose.

Crazy 8’s (pictured) is a great game for little ones. Also, Go Fish, Old Maid, & Speed are fun, age-appropriate games to play with preschoolers & kindergartners. The kids love playing card games & learn in the process: a win-win! Who knew a little play could lead to such enrichment?!

What are some of your favorite family-friendly card games? Do share, please!

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Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Baby, Birthdays, Children, Christmas, Creative, Family, Holidays, infant, Jessica LK Photography, Lifestyle, Memories, newborn, Photography, Pregnancy, Product Review, Reviews, Stay At Home Mom | 0 comments

Jessica LK Photography

Jessica LK Photography

Our Christmas card this year still has me in awe. (Forgive the poor quality of this first photo; it is a snapshot of our card taken by myself. The quality of the actual card was lovely.)

xmas card

One brisk day in November, we rounded up the Sweet kids and met with Jessica Kemp, the master behind the lens of Jessica LK Photography.

Jessica had the stellar idea to join us at the Strong National Museum of Play, our local children’s museum, which would have never crossed my mind. It is a perfect location for a photo shoot, especially with children! The carousel, the brick wall, the old fashioned diner…all fun and whimsical backdrops for our holiday photos (or any photos, for that matter).

Thank you to By Cee Cee for outfitting our girls with beautiful dresses.


All images copyright Jessica LK Photography 2013. Girls dresses: By Cee Cee.

We aren’t very good about taking family photos. We have done it formally only once before, and that was when we only had two children. Jessica made us feel right at home, in the vast museum, which must not be easy to do. However, it came naturally to her. She is clearly meant to be with camera in hand. She whisked the kids in a few settings, added us here and there, and we had a lot of fun in the process. We could see the moments taking place, yet we had no idea her eye would turn them into something magical.



Just look at these captures.



Image: copyright Jessica LK Photography 2013. Bowtie: Tiny Chaos


The fact that the children didn’t know Jessica upon shooting made for some very intruiging photos. We were melted by the expressions she captured in our childrens’ faces. There aren’t even words to describe these looks, these expressions.

I love the attention Jessica Kemp pays to detail. At one point she moved some poinsettias into the shot, which added a little festive flair. From the actual shoot to the editing afterward, Jessica LK Photography is a true professional. Browse her website and you will see, she clearly loves what she does, and it shines through in every photograph she makes. The photos you will see can draw you in. It’s as if you want to get to know these people pictured, but you’ve never met them in your life.


From newborn sessions to weddings, she can and does do it all. She even has boudoir sessions available – mighty tempting for the upcoming Hallmark holiday. Her sessions are very affordable and her work, simply gorgeous. One photo is more stunning than the next. It will be difficult for you to choose a favorite, as it was for us. Plan on ooh-ing and aah-ing over your photos when your session is complete. We know we sure did!

We are grateful for Jessica’s time with us and hope to have her create beautiful work for us in the future.

Jessica LK Photography is graciously offering The Whimsical Sweet’s readers a custom timeline cover for those sessions booked in January, February, or March. Perfect timing for Valentine’s Day and Easter photo sessions! Thank you, Jessica!


Full disclosure: Jessica LK Photography provided us with a mini photo session and images. Girls dresses provided by By Cee Cee. All opinions are my own. All images are copyright Jessica LK Photography 2013.

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Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Baby, Breastfeeding, Childbirth, Children, Choices, Education, Family, Fatherhood, Homeschool, infant, Life, Lifestyle, Motherhood, Motivational Posts, Natural Childbirth, Natural Parenting, newborn, Parenting, Philosophy, Potty Training, Pregnancy, Stay At Home Mom, Terrible Twos, Toddler Challenges, Toddler Naps, Toddlers | 1 comment

Patience Is Key

Patience Is Key


Several times throughout my time as a mother, conversations have come up regarding different parenting styles. Should you co-sleep or cry it out? Should you breast-feed or bottle feed? Should you go natural or have a medicated birth? When it’s time for potty training, do we try boot camp or let them learn on their own? The list goes on…

It has been my experience that I always choose the long road. I’ve had three natural births (including two decently long labors lasting over 24 hours and a shoulder dystocia baby), we co-sleep, I’ve breastfed each of our three babies until they were at least one year old, and we homeschool. We let our kids potty ‘train’ in their own time (which we have really lucked out at so far!) & our discipline methods are few. It seems as though we have created work for ourselves, but I truly believe it will make a difference in the long run.

Everything requires patience. It takes longer to learn how to breastfeed your baby than it does to mix a bottle. It takes more time to sleep with your baby or rock your baby to sleep each night than it does to cry it out. Natural birth takes more work and waiting patiently for that baby to come may take longer than you would like, but it’s worth it! It’s always worth it. Your children are worth it.

Patience doesn’t come easily around our home these days. Juggling all life has to offer while raising children is hard work.

Hopefully our children will, in turn, learn that patience. Patience is a very important quality to hold throughout life. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have much. However, what I do have is most often spent on our children, and I have to remind myself of this on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

I realize this post will fire up some defensive parents, but relax. I’m not judging those who don’t do what I do. We are all unique and to each his own. The only difference between you & I is a little patience.

I would like to show my experiences, that what you think may be harder at first glance may actually be easier in the long run.

You see, natural birth often leads to healthy babies, which often lead to healthy bonding, which also often means successful breastfeeding which often leads to a sleepy baby. Don’t you think this is a good start to life, if you can help it? Wouldn’t you imagine children are much more likely to have happy childhoods if this is the way they begin? It seems like so much less frustration and annoyance if the anxiety is lessened by living this way.

It doesn’t stop there (And here is where I need to be reminded most these days). Remaining patient while raising our children hopefully teaches them to be kind and gentle, patient and understanding.

Once again, obviously we will all live how we need to live. And we all will love the way we need to love. A little patience certainly has never hurt anyone. In fact, patience is key.

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Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Children, Crazy Mom-isms, Creative, Decor, DIY, Economical Activities, Education, Family, Home Decor, Homeschool, Kids Activities, Kindergarten, Library, Lifestyle, Minimal Living, Motherhood, Organize, Save money, Stay At Home Mom | 3 comments

Space Invaders

Space Invaders

20140103-120818.jpgHere’s a little something you may not know about us: We live in a 1200 square foot town home.

Five people. Two bedrooms. One general living room. One kitchen. One dining room. One and a half bathrooms. One garage. One basement.

One work-from-home Mama. Three homeschoolers. One hundred percent childhood energy.

You do the math.

This photo depicts an organized, believe it or not, version of our current set-up for a “play area”. (It may appear a tad hazardous, but not to worry, those shelves are anchored several times to insure safety.) All of our new Christmas presents & overflow of toys have been sorted and arranged. This is pretty much everything the children have, nestled into this puzzle of shelving.

The homeschool area was just relocated yesterday & has to be organized, art & projects hung up, shelving installed. This is depicting the bare minimum.

There is always something more needed in this space. We always need something more to keep us from going bonkers while living in close quarters.

Sure, we have outgrown our space. You’re not the first person to think that, not would you be the first to call me crazy for choosing to homeschool three little ones in such a tight space.

The time will come when we have our own home, but now, life is just too busy and hectic to have to worry about a new roof, a leaky hot water tank, broken windows or a new refrigerator.

We are making due with what we have because that is the way to happy.

We are choosing happiness together. Really close together.

For tips on how to stay organized with lots of toys, books, games, puzzles, and supplies, please don’t ask me.20140103-121935.jpg

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Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Education, Family, Homeschool, New Years' Resolution | 0 comments

A New Year! Welcome 2014

A New Year! Welcome 2014

ducksHere it comes…the obligatory New Year post giving gratitude for the happenings of last year’s past, resolutions for this year’s coming, and thanking each and every one of you for your support and kindness throughout it all.

It’s true. All of it.

I am undeniably grateful for what 2013 gave me, for what it gave us. It may not have been full of sunshine and rainbows, but it seems there were more happy days than sad, and for that, I am content.

I am thankful for an incredibly supportive network of family, friends, and acquaintances, customers and fellow artisans, oh, the list goes on and on…

I look forward to 2014 with much excitement. Our family continues to embark on our homeschooling journey and quite a journey it is!

We are thrilled to expand sweet whimsy designs in 2014 with so many new and refreshing ideas ready to be put in motion.

The blog will be getting a much-needed makeover in 2014. I’m finally mustering up the courage to expand The Whimsical Sweet, eventually offering advertising & hoping to feature many more wonderful handmade shops and artisans, pushing you super readers to support handmade more in 2014. I hope to share many ideas and thoughts with you throughout the year, and hope that you share yours in return.

2014 has much in store for all of us.

If I haven’t said it enough already, thank you. Thank you for your encouragement, thank you for your support. Thank you for your patronage and your ideas. Thank you for your kindness, for your guidance.

Here’s to a fabulous 2014, to each and every one of you. Thank you.

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