so, its been a while….

I’m not sure how it happened but it’s almost April. Easter is 5 “sleeps” away according to Nicholas.

These past few months have been a complete whirlwind. To get you caught up:

December happened. Christmas came in strong. We spent it in Florida with GiGi and Grandaddy. Santa was sponsored by Mickey Mouse and Paw Patrol this year. Nicholas got everything he asked for and Andy and I got some sunshine, warm weather, and a good night out to dinner sans Nicholas.

New Years came and went. We stayed home, played with Nicholas, and cooked dinner. Everyone was asleep by 10 PM. We woke up at 1145, watched the ball drop, and went back to sleep. Don’t worry though – everyone was awake at 6 AM because, well, we have a 3 year old.

Since then, everything has just been “normal” – for the most part. Andy and I have both had to travel for work. Thankfully, only 2 times have our trips overlapped and required some creative scheduling to make sure Nicholas was cared for.

It snowed. and snowed. And snowed. And just when you thought it was going to snow (hey, there were flowers on the trees!) it…snowed again.

Nicholas continues to just be the most amazing, awesome, strong, brave kid that I think has ever walked the planet. He enjoys ‘school’, loves to read his books, build with legos, and is quickly picking up on chores around the house without complaint.

While we’re busy, and my house never seems to look like the cover of Martha Stewart living, it is a sweet mess around here. There’s rarely a room without a stray toy laying about, a dog in the way, or a load of laundry thats clean, folded, and put away. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, though. Not for the world.

a trip to Tybee

We went on vacation. All by ourselves. And it was nothing short of heavenly.

This was the 1st trip the 3 of us have taken since Nicholas was born that didn’t include visiting family, friends, or to travel to a wedding, funeral, or even to tag along on Mommy or Daddy’s business trip.

So, in the sweltering humidity that is August in NC, we packed up our car & headed south – to Tybee Island. None of us had ever been (I know that’s hard to believe since I’m self-proclaimed to be on a first name basis with Paula Deen). After a half-day drive which wasn’t bad at all because the DVD gods blessed our car so Nicholas was entertained the whole way down we arrived in Savannah for a quick lunch & brewery stop before heading onto the island.

We stayed in a home a few blocks off the beach. It was cute & had a swimming pool & a large deck so we could sprawl out & just be. The beach was a 5 minute walk – even with Nicholas in tow- and we got very, very skilled at getting everything and everyone there quickly and without too many tears.

Tybee Island was beautiful. The time our family got to spend there was just as, if not, prettier. We turned off our phones. Ignored the world around us. The people we needed to worry about were right in front of us all week and that was all that mattered. The biggest decisions we had to make everyday were “do we stay at the pool or go to the beach?” and “what bottle of wine should we open next?”. Like I said – heavenly. Nicholas loved the beach. Most mornings he would ask if we could go “build sandcastles” and that “Daddy was best” at helping him build them.

Speaking of the beach, we’ve never seen a beach quite like Tybee. The sand is packed tight like brown sugar and there are no shells. The current is strong – so strong that as the ocean pulls itself back into the sea it leaves lines that are reminiscent of veins in the sand. It was a gorgeous reminder that the water is strong & it will sweep you off your feet if you’re not careful.

It wasn’t until day 4 that Nicholas learned to appreciate the ocean. The 1st few days he was scared of the waves & mostly sat in the dry sand building castles & asking for one of us to hold him down by the water. Then, Andy taught him he could go to the water’s edge & wash the sand off his hands. Just a few days later he went to the edge & Andy started to get up to go after him. I said “Andy, he’s just going to wash his hands; that child is not going swimming.” I should’ve known better than to question Nicholas’ abilities. That child ran straight for the water and he.did.not.stop. Off he went laughing & jumping around as the waves tried to knock him over. After that he loved the water. And I remembered to bring his life jacket to the beach everyday after that.

All in all, it was 7 days of pure heaven. From the breakfasts when Nicholas would pray the simple, yet extremely effective prayer, “Thank you GOD for everything. Amen.” to our time by the pool, climbing the lighthouse, and even to the 1.5 million sandcastles we built it was a week that renewed my soul. It renewed our marriage. It brought about a deeper love for our little family.

Enjoy these photos taken by the extremely talented photographer (& our new friend – you’re welcome anytime in NC!) Shannon Christopher.


dancing in the rain with no shoes.

Today the good LORD reminded me why I am a mama. In the middle of a rainstorm.

All it took was the toddler asking “can we go dance in the rain without shoes, mama?” and so we did. Without hesitation. But with grateful hearts. For at least 30 minutes. (& our wedding song may have played during our time on that wet dance floor.)

And it was the closest we’ve ever been to JESUS as a family (yes, even though we rested in HIS arms during our 70 days in the NICU over 800 miles from our home). HE was there while we danced & i was reminded of HIS grace & patience. Even the toddler recognized it when he loudly shouted as we danced in the pouring rain “thank you GOD for da rain”.


christmas comes but once a year

(I wish Christmas came more often but I know that the gift of Christmas is so special once a year is blessing enough). 

Merry Christmas! We spent Christmas in SW Florida with GiGi & Grandaddy. It was warm. It was sunny. There were boat rides. Beaches. Dolphins swimming by the boat every single time we ventured out. There was also lots of fishing (which now makes 3 generations in my family extremely happy).

And of course, Santa came. He was good to Nicholas. He brought Nicholas a “choo choo” train set (I’m sure Poppy Charlie would be proud!), and Thomas & Percy trains to ride the rails. He also brought a teepee for Nicholas’ room. “Santa” Grandaddy also brought Nicholas a fishing rod.

If you ask Nicholas how his Christmas was he will most likely respond, “Happy Birthday Jesus. Wow.”. Enjoy these photos & a video of Nicholas using his fishing rod with Dada & Grandaddy.



visiting the NICU

Over the Christmas holiday we visited the NICU at Golisano Children’s hospital – where Nicholas was born & spent his 1st days.

When we left the hospital in 2014 they had begun construction on a new NICU. The new NICU wing of the hospital will be ready next Spring. There will be private rooms for families where mamas & dadas can sleep with their babies. There will be privacy. Andy (somewhat) joked that he was glad the wing wasn’t ready when we were there because he knows he wouldn’t have been able to pull me away. He’s (probably) right. Still, I am thrilled that this wing will be ready for families. Tickled. What a beautiful thing to have privacy with your early arrival. The next time we visit it will be ready. And, they are building a library in part to the donations received through our LoveNotes program. I couldn’t be happier that more families will have access to books during their stay.

We spent the majority of our visit with our dear nurses at the NICU. I couldn’t imagine life without them now. They are like long lost sisters & aunts.

As promised we delivered care package goodies for NICU families – over 150 blankets, 30 preemie hats, and over 60 books.

Thank y’all for your love, support, & donations. We couldn’t do this without so many of you – it really does take a village.



low country living 

We just returned from our 1st family vacation in the history of N’s life. Don’t misread this- N has been on airplanes & in several states but it’s always been in tow one of my or Andy’s business trips or to see family here or there. We haven’t taken a trip just the 3 of us simply because we can since N has been born. Until now.

We traveled to celebrate. We celebrated N and all that he is. We celebrated paying off all of N’s medical bills & the associated costs that come with a baby in the NICU for as long as we were (most folks overlook this financial aspect of family in the hospital but as someone who has seen the bills it’s there and it’s ugly….we had 16 flights alone just so Andy could get back & forth to work during our NICU stay- and doctors boarding fees for our 3 dogs for 4 months – let alone countless other “things”). 

We traveled to a place where my wonderful “damn Yankee” of a husband had never been before- Charleston, SC. We spent 4 days eating wonderful food, touring Fort Sumter, taking a carriage ride, and visiting plantations. It was wonderful (I may have at one point told Andy that this is where I belonged. He says our checkbook disagrees.)
Enjoy these photos from our trip! 

“you mine” (& other N-isms)

Now that Nicholas is learning to talk he likes to talk. A lot.  For the life of me I simply have no earthly idea where he gets this trait from!

Here are a few N-isms that run rampant in our life these days:


Bananas are minions’ favorite foods. At least once a day he walks into the kitchen and signs & says “Ba-NAAAAN-a peez.(please).” He will even show you where they are in the kitchen if you have somehow forgotten what a banana looks like or where they are kept (nevermind you are probably the one who bought them at the grocery store). “Ba-NAAAAN-a” is also what we call anything yellow. We have a large print of a lemonade canister hanging on the wall in our kitchen that our friend Jen took at our wedding. It is not yellow. It is “Ba-NAAAAN-a”. He will point to it, sign “yellow” & shout “Ba-NAAAAN-a”.

It rain.

Nicholas is learning all about weather. And his favorite “weather” is rain. Anytime it starts to rain he will go to the door and shout excitedly “it rain! it rain! mama, it rain!”. After the rain stops he will point outside & say “it wet.” When you ask him why its wet he will excitedly tell you & sign for you that “it rain!”. Now that we are in full summer heat & humidity here in NC some mornings we wake up & there is a bit of dew on our windows. He will point & say “it rain!”. Right now we aren’t explaining the difference because, hey we could use the rain these days & because you never know, it might rain soon.


This is what we call the minions. Nicholas knows who the minions are & where they live (in the TV, the DVD player in the car, and on the Kindle). When he sees any of these items he asks “Min-min now?” (Can I see the minions now?). He doesn’t argue when we say no; he shrugs & moves on. Somedays he’ll ask a few more times as if you might not have heard him. It’s very “are we there yet? how about now? now? when?” of him.


Help. As in “Can you help me open these fruit snacks I went & got out of the pantry all by myself because I know where my snacks are & I dont need your help raiding the pantry; just opening my loot.” This is also found in conversation when we need “hup”opening the play-do we will ultimately try to feed to the dogs.

“I not (k)no(w).”

This was his 1st sentence & is still a favorite. “I not know” who pulled all of the blankets out of the drawer. “I not know” who colored the wall with red chalk. “I not know” who fed my sippy cup to the dog.

You mine.

This one is my absolute favorite. When you ask him what/who things are he will usually respond correctly.

“Who is that?” “Dada.”

“Who is that?” “Dog.”

“What is that?” “Ball.”

“Who is that?” (when pointing to me) “Mine.” Even when I say “Who am I?” “You mine”. “Am I mama?” “M-hm. Mine mama.” Here’s hoping he always know I am his. And he is mine.


a king, a sheriff, & a hawaiian shirt.

At school this month, Nicholas has had several “spirit” days. Andy tells me we are practically the only child in our class that participates but, by golly, you tell me there is a day with a theme & we will be there. In costume. Ready to play the part.

The 1st day was “King” day. We went as KING of the NICU. This was a HUGE hit throughout the school.

The next day was “western” day. So, naturally we went as the “king” of the west: a sheriff.

And, just the other day this week was “hawaiian shirt” day. Yes, we are a 21 month old. Yes, we do actually own a hawaiian shirt that fits. So, we wore it. And, as you can tell by the photo below we were in a rush to get to the luau school.


we lost a shoe.

We lost a shoe. Just 1. I cannot find it anywhere. And, I am about to lose “it”.

We had it 3 hours ago in the church parking lot. It was sitting nice & quietly beside its other half. Andy asked me what shoes to put N in for church when we arrived (I’ll explain this exercise in a moment) & I said the church shoes. Not the school shoes. As I type this perhaps I’m realizing I might have hurt the school shoe’s feelings so 1 just got up and stomped off in full temper tantrum (I’ll show her!) mode.

Socks are a whole other ballgame. Socks & I have fought epic battles since the beginning of baby time in the Szapacs household. 1st, I couldn’t find socks small enough to fit N’s feet. (Hey, you try finding socks for a 2 pound kiddo – trust me, there’s a market there.). The smallest socks I could find came up over his knees. He was 6 months old before newborn socks actually looked like socks on him. Then, socks started to walk off. First, it was sneak attacks: leaving during laundry time. Or in the dead of night. Then, they started disappearing during the day. One time Nicholas was sleeping in his boppy. He went down for a nap with 2 socks. He woke up with 1. I still haven’t found that blue & white striped sock.

Nicholas takes after me in that he doesn’t like wearing shoes. Or socks. We’ve learned the hard way do not put shoes & socks on before leaving the house. Its futile – they will not last. Not even 5 minutes. As soon as Nicholas gets in the car he is pulling them off himself (& throwing them I do not know where) or he sticks his foot out & says “mama.mama.mama.mama….” until you take the socks & shoes off his feet. So, we’ve learned to carry the footwear to the car & put it on once you get to where you’re going.

That’s what our well-laid plan was today. Get to church, put socks & church shoes on & head on in. As we were putting shoes & socks on I saw the school shoes. So did Andy. They were (I’d like to think) relaxing comfortably on the seat. Resting for their next big adventure. And now, 1 shoe is gone. Vanished. Poof! Disappeared.

I’ve taken the car apart. Pulled everything out of the diaper bag. Made Andy go look (thinking it would be like when you lose your car keys – laying right where they should be you just can’t see them sitting there in plain sight because you’re convinced they aren’t where they are supposed to be). Nothing. Nada. Only 1 lonely shoe. Missing its mate.

The mere mention of shoe shopping made Andy launch into one of his “how much with that cost?!” episdoes. It will cost what it costs, dear. Do you expect our child to toddle into school with no shoes? Thats the only option I see at this point if we don’t go buy school shoes. Let me remind you that I am from the South – you don’t wear your church shoes to school for goodness sake! (MEN.)

So, off to the shoe store Nicholas & I went. (side note: it takes a special person to work in a toddler’s shoe store. I am not nor will I ever pretend to be one of those people. God bless them.) We bought a new pair of school shoes. The blue & bright green. They’re so bright I can see them in the dark (which is important when I’m fairly certain they, like their sock friends, will try & escape in the dead of night).

We may have also bought 6 more pairs of socks – I am betting the 6 pairs will disappear by Friday.

so, you can hear me. 

Just a quick update on Nicholas’ hearing….

Back in May we discovered Nicholas hemorrhaged his right eardrum. This required surgery to correct the hemorrhage & tubes “installed” to help keep this (& all those nasty ear infections) from happening again. Surgery went fine & our doctor was happy with the results.

Today we had our post-op checkup complete with hearing test to see if there had been any change in his hearing post-surgery.

Nicholas woke up this morning with his new favorite phrase on repeat: “oh, no”. But his interpretation of the phrase is much more dramatic than I can ever begin to describe here. Worse than Scarlett O’Hara on her most dramatic day. His “oh, no”s are long, drawn out, and often accompanied by a melodramatic head to the hand in despair.

So, when he woke up with these words on repeat I was a mixture of hilarious laughter & ‘what does this kid now about this day (a Monday) that I don’t know?’.

But, since we can’t hide behind what-ifs & what-about’s off we went about our day.

Once we arrived at the doctor’s office & made it through the parking garage, across the lot, up the elevator, & into the waiting room (why aren’t medical parks less complicated to maneuver?) Nicholas was greeted by a nurse. His reply? “OOOOOOOHHHHH, NO!”. The whole office laughed. He stared at them confused – how could such a dramatic phrase elicit such laughter?!

Back in the hearing booth, we listened as sounds & voices came from all angles. (Those hearing booths can be a bit creepy with the dark walls, random voices, & the occasional flashing light).

After the test we headed back into the waiting room. Again. Then, after a 20 minute wait we were taken back to a room to wait for the doctor. And there we waited. And waited. And waited. We’d been there for over an hour with no sign of the doctor. And let’s just say it wasn’t enjoyable. I was running low on goldfish. We only had water, not “wa-wa” (which depending on the day is a toss up between either milk or apple juice – not water). We had read all our books. There was no music. In short: “misery” is being put in a quiet room with a toddler only to be surrounded by medical instruments & sharp objects said toddler is not supposed to touch. I performed my own interpretation of “oh,no!” About 8,457,362,199 times. Nicholas needed “wa-wa” & mama needed wine.

The doctor finally did come to see us  (I was beginning to think we’d been forgotten). Nicholas checked out great. His ear is healing well & his hearing is well within “normal” range. We were discharged with no medicines and a note to come back in 6 more months for a check up.

Now, Nicholas doesn’t get the excuse of hearing troubles anymore. He can hear me. Just fine. Now I know when he doesn’t “hear” me it just means he doesn’t WANT to hear me. Selective hearing was my specialty growing up so I can see him coming from a mile away. His father still performs daily selective hearing exercises around me (“oh, you meant do that now now. Sorry I didn’t hear you.”) so at least from “hear” on out Nicholas will come by it honestly.