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Something closer to real life.

The quick image we posted last time was too terrible to keep up for long (I blame the lack of time to get something up and the screaming kids that were running around when N was putting it together!).  Although very much still a draft, here’s an image that shows something more along the lines of where we’re hoping to be in the end.

perspective copy

Part of the complication/draft nature of the image is that our house is very much a collection of parts.  Each component of our house reads separate from the next in the elevations and none of them align with one another!  We’ve been designing the addition in 3D to try and understand how all the pieces will fit together but we’ll really need to be here, on site with the contractor and his framing crew the day they are building it to get the roof lines and proportion correct.  This image is going to be our guide but we’re sure there will be some modifications during the build.  Soon to come- the proposed floor plan!


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May 18, 2016 · 8:34 pm

Here we go again…

Just over 3 years ago, we shared this post… and wow. It’s almost hard to believe it’s the same house!

And now, the renovation bug has hit us again! That’s not to say that we’ve been sitting around eating bon-bons on the couch for the last 3 years, lol. Far from it! But, after becoming a family of 4 last year and knowing since day 1 of buying this charming little palace of ours that we wanted to add a master bath and closet, we figured now was as good a time as any to get ‘er done, right? I mean, we just went out back to the money tree growing in the backyard and filled a few buckets up to make it happen! Or as G likes to say, we went to the money store… 😉

Anyway, stay tuned to this space for updates and thanks for joining our wild ride! It’s about to get a lot messier around these parts…

I couldn’t resist applying the ‘ocean ripple’ filter to this “before” image, since it’s pretty true to what the house looked like from our across-the-street-neighbor’s perspective during the last 18 days of consecutive rain we had! PS – the original sunroom is what’s getting completely redone and added onto, for all of you non-architects out there! Don’t worry – the whole house is not getting a facelift as this sketch implies, lol.

sneak peek



May 16, 2016 · 5:12 pm

Sawyer’s Birth Story, Part II.

Phew! Alright, game on. We’re back from our 2 hour walk and it’s go-time. Time to get admitted and have us a bebe!

It’s around 10am when we are led to the labor and delivery room that was ready for us. HOLY BEJEEZUS. Let me just stop here and tell you that don’t worry, my contractions were definitely more advanced, but nothing cray-zay…yet. Instead, my jaw dropped when we walked into the room. The size of the rooms in the new hospital were no joke…they were ginormous.

This is the only photo we snapped that sort of shows the size – this was only 1/4 of the room! You could have a good size party in there.

Most people may not have noticed nor cared as much as we did…but since we were THISCLOSE to getting to deliver G in the new building back in January of 2012 but then learned construction was delayed “a few months”, we were stuck in the old hospital. I held out hope for awhile…but knew we’d need to have a 2nd kid, just so we could enjoy the new digs of their state-of-the-art family childbirth center. HA…kidding. 😉 But honestly, read this description of the rooms – doesn’t it sound like a hotel where you just might happen to have a baby?! Funny stuff – it actually did feel sort of like a vacation at certain moments. More on that later…

Contractions were progressing and the doctor came in around 10:30am to check on me and go over all of the scary things that could happen but probably wouldn’t (and luckily, none did). Before heading out for our vigorous walk at 7am, I was 4 cm. When the doctor checked me at 10:30, I was 5.5 cm…woo hoo! Progress! This was when we took the smiling photos you see above. I think the nurse mentioned to Anthony at one point that she could tell I was still in early labor because I was smiling so much, ha…that’s what you think, lady. Maybe I just have a high threshold for pain?! The doctor said she’d be back in 2 hours, around 12:30pm. Well, my high threshold for pain was reached pretty soon after the fun of laboring took its toll in an hour. I almost gave in and wanted an epidural…but it’s funny, at the point where I debated “can I keep doing this?! I wasn’t exhausted before, but now I feel like I may fall asleep standing up…what if it’s another 8 hrs?”, that’s when it was almost over and I needed to hold out. I was determined to go without an epidural again (even though I remembered the primal screaming from G’s labor and really hoped this time the pain wouldn’t be as piercing and unbearable) and Anthony knew that. He kept reminding me of how much progress I had made and how quickly it would all be over.

I don’t remember when I started feeling pressure as the baby shifted downward, but when I begged for the doctor to come back in and check despite it only being 11:45am, I was only 6 cm (not as much progress as I had hoped). She told me that I should keep in mind the option of them breaking my water. Since it hadn’t broken naturally yet, if she broke it, things would progress faster. Some people who are on their 2nd babies can deliver within 30 minutes after having their water broken, others take 2 hours…but knowing that most likely within 2 hours this little guy would be here and I’d be D-O-N-E, was very appealing at this point.

A little more pressure, a few more intense contractions later and it was a no-brainer: “I’ll take the breaking of my water, for $200 please, Alex.” So, around 1:20pm, that happened (and no it didn’t hurt; the worstp. The next 30 minutes were definitely a painful blur, but I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to say that, rather than it have been hours or even days (yes, that’s possible) of the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your life. The one part I clearly remember out of the painful blur though, was when I made the call that it was time to push…or so I convinced myself. I remember thinking to myself “that’s not what it felt like with Gabby…but I don’t know how much longer I can last…so maybe this is it?” and when I asked the nurse how I’d know it was time, since I was “sort of feeling pressure…” she replied “oh you’ll know. it’s unmistakeable.”

Awesome. So now not only am I still unsure if I should push or wait, making me anxious that it still isn’t time to be done yet, but I’m feeling like the lower half of my body is going to explode and I’m dreading every contraction, all at the same time. I muscled through a few more contractions and as the nurse came back in to check on me, I mumbled that I thought it was time. Now, here’s the thing – 75% of my rational mind didn’t think I was really ready to push, but I heard the doctor say I was 9.5cm and that technically I could push through it. I was worried of 2 things happening if I wasn’t really ready: 1) I’d use up all of my remaining strength too early and 2) I’d hurt myself and wind up tearing unnecessarily.

Well, I might as well have signaled for the troops to come in because just like that, they descended…but not so fast. It wasn’t the right group that came in. I was facing away from the door with my eyes closed, fists clenched around the bed frame trying to get through a contraction, when I hear a woman say “Hi, I’m so-and-so, the resident who will blah, blah, blah…” All I needed to hear was RESIDENT instead of DOCTOR. I went ballistic. Now, you may not know why this is such a big deal to me since you haven’t had the benefit of knowing G’s birth story but to bring everyone up to speed quickly, for G’s birth my doctor left. Like legit, LEFT the hospital and went home. This was before the hospital required at least one doctor from their practice to be there at all times, as they do now. My doctor was convinced that I wasn’t going to have the baby until the next morning. At 8:53pm, G was born…and after a mad scramble for a doctor, any doctor, to be present as I was told to “stop pushing and hold the baby in!” (#$%!^&?!), the resident OB delivered her. She appeared all of about 25 years old and I was completely unprepared for a stranger to be staring between my legs. So, not to rehash Gabby’s birth, but it was kind of a big deal to me to have just one of the 8 female doctors I had seen throughout this pregnancy, as the one to be there through this delivery. Especially since at almost every appointment as it got closer to the end, we confirmed with them that a situation like that, wouldn’t happen again. And then I hear it’s another resident?! Yeah. Not ok with me. I think the “conversation” (using the term loosely) went something like this:


“Ok, no, no, don’t worry, the doctor is on her way…” says both Anthony and the nurse on the other side of me. Unwanted resident and her sidekick start to retreat out of the room (as I was told by Anthony after the fact).


And probably in 30 seconds but what felt like 10 minutes, the doctor was there and in position. I turned around and the spotlights were on. I closed my eyes, clung to the bed for dear life and just remember being told to push and take deep breaths. About 4 pushes later, Sawyer arrived at 1:50pm. I remember the doctor telling me to look down, that he was out…but I just couldn’t believe it was over that quickly! I finally opened my eyes and will never forget seeing his face looking up with both of his arms outstretched, reaching towards me, as if he was trying to scream “Hi, Mommy, I’m here!” 🙂 And then I just sobbed happy tears in disbelief that this little Anthony-mini-me was inside of me this whole time. I was done, we did it and he was perfect.

Let’s recap: formally admitted at 10am, broke water at 1:20pm, baby born at 1:50pm. Sounds like my body was more ready than I thought.

Without further ado…

The rule is typically that 2 hours after delivery, they move you to a mother/baby room. Similar to Gabby’s birth, the hospital was overcrowded and there were no open and clean rooms for us to move to. Fine by us since in labor/delivery we had 24 hr visiting hours which meant Minke and Pop-Pop could meet their grandson later that night! They started the trip as soon as we told them we were being admitted, but with traffic, they only arrived around 9pm.

Sawyer’s first visitor was his big sister.

Every time I look at these photos, I tear up! Gabriella was SO happy and excited to finally be able to meet “Tiny”. I have to admit, I was nervous about this moment.

I hoped G would be this excited, but I also mentally prepared myself for her to see him and care less. Or, see me holding him and get jealous and throw a tantrum. We made sure to have a gift bag of goodies just for G and even had a new stuffed animal from Sawyer, for Gabby. In the end, none of it mattered. The gift bag came in handy when she left with Aunt Raq, so she could go home and have fun playing with some new toys, but really, all the girl wanted to be around was us…and her new brother. She was (and still is) so incredibly gentle, sweet, concerned and willing to help with all things Sawyer. #myheartmeltsmultipletimesaday #howdidwegetsolucky

Our first photos as a family of four!

Next up was Aunt Raq…the best aunt around for so many reasons. Watch out Raquela, I have a feeling these 2 are going to be trouble when you babysit as they get older! 😉

We got into the mother baby room around 11pm and the next morning, fell in love with all of the natural light and space we had to spread out. As I mentioned earlier, the room we stayed in with Gabby was part of the old hospital and definitely less than half the size, with a window the size of a cereal box.

Look at the hair on this kid! We love it. I really hope it stays strawberry blonde like this…

Saturday was a day of visitors…

The photo on the right (of Daddy holding her babies) was taken by Gabby, my newest photography assistant. Seriously, the girl is good.

Then on Sunday before we left to officially start our life at home with 2 kids (!), we had to have a quick photoshoot, of course!

…in summary, life is now an equal balance (well, most days) of excitement and exhaustion…and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂











April 20, 2015 · 9:28 pm

Sawyer’s Birth Story, Part I…

The unknown…it’s what gave me the most anxiety this time around. I think knowing enough about the labor and delivery process “to be dangerous” as they say, wasn’t helping things. Ignorance truly is bliss when you’re a first time mom…or at least when it’s your first time giving birth. Knowing what I know now, I’m happy it’s not my first rodeo anymore when it comes to the things you struggle with and quickly need to figure out on a daily basis!

But here goes…truth be told, I haven’t yet documented Gabby’s birth story. It’s as different as different can be compared to Sawyer’s – furthering the mantra everyone kept telling me, that each kid is different / their own person / yada, yada, yada. So, if I had taken that advice to heart, I should have known this was how it would all work out! 🙂

At 1:30am on Friday, April 3rd, I woke up to pee. This would happen every night and I’d go right back to sleep. This time though, I was having a contraction when I tried to go back to sleep. Somehow, 2:30am came around and I was still having noticeable contractions. At that point, I decided to time them… they were 5 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute…! And then the thoughts swirled around in my head… “OMG. This is what the doctor told me to watch for and then come to the hospital. This is really happening! Or is it? Are these just more intense Braxton Hicks contractions? I need to wake Anthony up and tell him! I hope its not a false alarm!? Stop thinking and just act on it, Naomi. Its not like you’re going back to sleep anyway…just wake Anthony up, damn it.” I was still for another minute, enjoying the dark, quiet peacefulness of the house at 3am. Then Anthony stirred and I sensed a break in his sleep – if I didn’t want to startle him, it was now or never.

“Anthony, I think I’m having contractions…” I whispered.

He stirred a bit then sat up and said, “wait, like the real kind? not Braxton Hicks?”

“Well, yeah, I think… they’re not super unbearable, but they are more painful than normal…” Since my water broke with Gabby but contractions never started on their own, this was one of the unknowns for me…what do real labor contractions start off feeling like?

“ok… oh crap…” says Anthony and we both sit up in bed, deciding what to do next.

“Don’t worry, we have plenty of time, I’m not in that much pain at all. I’m gonna take a shower.” I jump in the shower as Anthony runs around the house getting last minute things ready for Aunt Raq, who was about to find out it was time to come over and watch Gabby!

I wrote a few last minute notes to Aunt Raq about Gabby’s routine as Anthony showered quickly. Riese was convinced it was not only breakfast time but that a party was ensuing, lol. At this point, it was 3:30am and I called Raq. I remember her answering with “oohhhh boy…!” as I said “I think it’s time for you to come to our house so we can go to the hospital. Don’t speed but don’t dawdle either…” By 4:30am, we were on our way to the hospital with too many belongings (camera/iPad bag, gifts for the big sister, a birthing ball, our clothes, a bag full of stuff for Sawyer, toiletries…).

The biggest concern I had at this point was, what food we were going to pickup on the way to the hospital. PRIORITIES, people! If there’s one thing I had heard loud and clear from not only friends, but even my doctor, it was to make sure you eat before they admit you. Once you’re in the hospital and under their care, nothing but broth/clear fluids and popsicles are on the menu. It turns out, our options were minimal near the hospital but there was a DD’s that opened at 5am…YAHTZEE.

We parked and walked up to DD only to find that it was dark and locked…well, it was only 4:55am. We waited on the corner under the glow of a street lamp and hoped that an employee would arrive since it was absolutely “time to make the donuts” (anyone else remember that slogan and the DD guy from the 80’s/90’s?). Sure enough, at 4:59am a car sped around the corner, parked and a guy ran out. He was our guy! He had keys in hand and asked if we were getting coffee. I responded yes, and breakfast sandwiches. Those were THE reason I was there, let’s be honest. I wasn’t in need of any coffee, but A definitely deserved some. So as we waited for our last meal before the fun began, another employee asked me when I was due. HA…to which I responded, “ummm, we’re headed to the hospital right from here…I’m in labor but wanted some food first.” The look on her face was priceless. She whispered something about me being in labor to the guy preparing our food and not only did he start moving at warp speed, but he didn’t charge us…at all. How sweet was that? Or maybe they both were really scared they’d witness a live birth on the floor if we lingered any longer!

It was 5:15 when we got to Labor and Delivery’s triage reception area (where we were told to go during our hospital tour). No one was there. Both of us were very confused…HUH? It’s a hospital. Aren’t they open 24 hrs a day? Where is everyone? Isn’t shift change only at 7am? Why is it silent and empty?! We wandered down the hallway a bit more and found the actual triage rooms were staffed with a nurse…who looked at us like we were crazy when I very calmly and quietly said “hi, we’re here to check-in because I think I’m in labor”…think of the tone you’d use when asking a waitress for more ketchup for your french fries. That was me. No rush, no worries, not a care in the world. We finally got in a triage room around 6am and were told the resident nurse/midwife from the hospital and my doctor would be in to check me “shortly”. Mind you, as soon as I got comfortable in the bed, my contractions essentially stopped. WTF. I was not going to be happy if they told us to go home because it was a false alarm! At 6:40am, the nurse midwife stopped in. She checked me and said I was maybe 3.5cm and 70% effaced. I was not a fan of this lady because not only did it take her 40 minutes to see me (and we were told we were the only patients there at that time), but I was 3cm and 75% effaced at my last appt. on Monday. There’s no way in 5 days I went backwards. My doctor showed up shortly after and said this:

“No, I’d say you’re closer to 4cm and 90%.” HALLELUJAH!

She sat back and said “here’s what we can do…I can strip your membranes and then I’m gonna have you go for a walk. a brisk 1-2 hour walk…I want you uncomfortable, I want these contractions closer together. Since it’s your second child, we don’t want to send you home. Some people go from 4cm to 10cm in 30 minutes. If you go home, you could have this baby in the car or at your house. So, we’ll admit you once you’re back from the walk.” MUSIC TO MY EARS! Again, another difference between this pregnancy and Gabby’s was, I was so ready this time. Ready to meet our little man. Ready to get my body back. Ready to just be a family of 4! Some people may have walked in circles around the hospital’s lobby…but us Cataldos like to do things in the most complex way possible, so we decided to take the party outside and walk to Penn Station. A little over a mile each way, with hills. No joke! I turned it into a photo tour at prominent and meaningful-to-us landmarks. Hey, who says early labor can’t be fun?

Time to stop and build up momentum and energy to share the rest of the story with y’all! It’ll go fast from here on out, I promise! 🙂 Go grab a donut and get ready for Part II, coming soon…


April 16, 2015 · 9:55 pm

FENCE! (does that express our excitement?)

After the DAYS of ivy removal and then the joy of bamboo removal, it was finally time for the new fence!  Timing for everything worked out really well.  We felt like we really cleared out as much as possible before the new fence went up and were excited that once it was up, we’d be at the point of really starting to transform the yard.

Two days before the contractors showed up, we also got another big delivery…


PLANTS…lots and lots of new plants!  4 hours in a nursery with a toddler, now that’s a story for another post.  For now, we had a patio full of plants and on that Friday morning, this rolled in:

photo 1

That’s a lot of lumber and I have to move NONE of it! In 30 minutes we went from this:



To this:


I’m not going to lie, it was really nice not having a fence at all.  I considered (for about 1 minute) the idea of not putting one back in and letting our yard feel like it goes on beyond the alley to the back lot of another property.  Reality then set in, of course, and the guys got to work setting the posts.

photo 3





Things went quickly once they got rolling and it was exciting to FINALLY have a real fence in place.  Of course, they also removed and rebuilt the side panels from the house to the neighbor’s properties to match.



photo 2-3

So long nasty, broken, wobbly, rotting, barely operable fences and gates, it’s really been great living the last year with you.  Now that I’ve gotten you to this point, I’ll have to leave you with a little teaser.  Since the new fence went up, we jumped right into getting the landscaping in and haven’t actually taken finished photos.  Crazy, right?  Sorry about that.  In the meantime…

photo-2 copy



May 22, 2014 · 3:24 pm


Along with Ivy, Bamboo was another ‘wonderful’ addition to our backyard landscape.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually really LIKE bamboo and think that it’s structure, height, and leaves are very pleasant and add a nice structure to landscapes… in pots or VERY well crafted planters.  Using bamboo to create planted ‘walls’ and a place is great.  When you create such a place in the middle of the open lawn with NO boundaries to contain the bamboo, then you get a big ‘ole mess of nasty that takes over the yard.  This was the secret garden in our yard:

photo 2-2

Lovely, Huh?  I cut back about 1/2 of the bamboo in the fall to get a better idea of what was really in there and this was what it looked like this spring.  Originally nestled between 2 large trees, I imagine at one time created a very pleasant oasis.  In fact, we uncovered a lot of stones that created a little patio within the bamboo jungle.  It was the intention that after all the ivy removal, I would take on the bamboo removal.  Everyone balked that I would say that.  Neighbors responded with ‘good luck’ or ‘yeah, we tried too’ and even ‘no way in hell will you get that all out’.  But I was determined.  After day three of ivy removal, I was exhausted but very pleased with all the progress!  I grabbed my trusty pick-axe and shovel and walked across the yard to the jungle.  With the new fence installation about to be scheduled, I was on over-drive to clear out as much as possible before it’s arrival.  I found a little batch of young bamboo shoots furthest from the main jungle and thought I’d start there and work inward.  One, two, three thrusts of the pick-axe and… nothing moved.  Not an inch.  What the hell was I thinking?  I’m exhausted!  I threw the pick-axe onto the ground and walked away.  It was decided.  Everyone was right, ha, there was no way I was tackling this myself.  The next day, I called a landscape crew; they came that night for an estimate.  It was half the price of a previous estimate, so they got the job.  Three days later this happened:

photo 3-2

photo 2-3


photo 1-3

Daycare was closed that day and Naomi was selected as a jury and sitting in a trial, so Gabriella was home with me when the ‘truck’ showed up.  She loved EVERY MINUTE of it and could not stop watching.  It couldn’t have been any cuter.  In the end, this is what we were left with:

photo 3-3

A 95% bamboo free side yard that had been seeded and strawed.  And look how HUGE it is.  We truly had no idea how much space was over there and it completely opened up the yard.  We just spotted little grass seedlings popping up today so it’s well on it’s way to becoming a previously-useless-but-now-full-of-grass-and-open-air section of our yard.

Ivy removal- check

Bamboo removal – check!

Up next, NEW FENCE!  The crew was here last Friday to remove the old fence and build the new one.  It’s unbelievable what the yard is looking like now!



May 16, 2014 · 2:27 pm

April showers, brings May landscape overhaul?

We’ve lived in this house for just under one year now!  It’s hard to believe because sometimes it feels like we just moved in with lots of unfinished little projects; other times it feels like we’ve been here for much longer.  But the truth is that moving day was May 18th so we’re officially coming up on our one year in this house anniversary.  Crazy what we’ve been able to do in that time and yet, there was one large area of our home that had seen very little improvement.  Sure, we ‘maintained’ what we inherited and made some very modest improvements in order to get through the summer, but let’s face it, we were busy unpacking and trying to get our new LIFE in order to really worry about too much more.  The YARD.  One of the things we LOVED about this house was the flat, open, manageable sized yard.  Well, we loved what the yard could be.  We knew that buried under years of neglect and layers upon layers of leaves, ivy, dirt, ivy, ivy, bamboo, and some more ivy, there was a great outdoor space for us!

We thought this year, we’d tackle a new fence and a phase one round of improvements, but once we decided to hold a large outdoor event at our house in mid-august, we decided to bite the bullet and do a more complete overhaul of the yard.

Here’s what we started with when we saw the house:






Ok- from a distance, it doesn’t look THAT bad.  Trust me, it was.  First step was finally taking care of the fence.  It clearly had seen better days and was in need of a complete removal.  There really was no saving it because some years back, a tree along the back property line had fallen (onto the garage, no less) and when the roots up-rooted, it took the fence up with it.  Hence the current condition with our fence lifted at one point and leaning into the alley in that spot while leaning into the yard at the other end.  The side fence pieces from the house to our neighbor’s  were also barely holding on.  The left side literally blew down one day and the right side with the gate was hardly operable.  No saving them either, they all had to go.


We got 3 estimates for the fence.  Two large companies that have done a lot of work in the neighborhood and a smaller, local landscape company.  In the end, price and product led us to contract with one of the large fence companies.  We’re basically installing the new fence in the same location as the existing, except we’re adding a larger gate by the garage and moving the short fence line into the yard by 4 feet in order to create a larger parking pad off the alley in front of our garage.  Not that parking is ever a problem in our neighborhood, but we figured we might as well plan the new fence to allow for it now because we wouldn’t want to have to modify the new fence in the future.  Also, fences are expensive!  We’re hoping to do this now and NEVER AGAIN!  Fence install day is Friday (TODAY!) so we’ll show you how that turns out in a future post!

Our to do list included more ivy removal.  We knew we’d have a few weeks before the fence was installed so we figured we’d take the opportunity to clear out the ivy along the fence line so that once the new fence is in, the area would be cleared and done.  Ivy. UGH. I’d like to meet the person who thought, ‘Oh, what a lovely green plant that has no fragrance, no flowers, and no real purpose in life.  Yes, let’s plant it everywhere and let it cover the ground, climb the walls of the house, climb the trunks of all the trees and, my favorite, spread through the lawn creating a desert condition on the ground that no longer supports the growth of anything more than a collection of weeds.’  Oh, what I’d say to that person… anyway.  We know that ridding the property 100% of ivy is not realistic, but we wanted to give ourselves the best chance to maintain its removal which meant that we had to dig out as much of the plant and roots as possible.

And so we set out on the ivy clearing, pulling one root strand at a time.  A pick-axe, shovel, and three 12 hour days of physical labor, and the yard went from this:

photo 1


to this:

photo 1-2

photo 3


photo-2 copy

The yard was already looking better and BIGGER!  We packed 14 contractor bags full on ivy vines.  JUST THE VINES…14 bags!  It was ridiculous and we’re so glad to get it out of here!  In the process, we uncovered a stone retaining wall which was a nice surprise.  It wasn’t huge but we dug out all the stones and stock piled them for use elsewhere in the yard makeover.  It may not look like a lot in these photos, but trust me, the yard was taking shape.

Up next in the yard overhaul…Taking care of the bamboo jungle once and for all!

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May 9, 2014 · 10:15 am