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Tradition of Giving

5 years ago I started a tradition. I was student teaching at the time and loved giving my students ways to give to others, and to see the way their faces lit up when they created something. I was also engaged to Anthony, and his job was never far from my mind. Combining my two great passions, helping kids and helping soldiers, turned out to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.

Each student created at least one card for a solider. They drew pictures, wrote a little note, and had a blast doing it. Now that I have kids of my own, I’m continuing the tradition with them and I want you to know how you can do the same thing. It’s nothing complicated, and it won’t cost you much at all, but it will mean the world to someone else.

The American Red Cross leads the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program. This program distributes cards to Service Members, Veterans, and their families at Christmas time. It’s the perfect way to give back to a group of men and women who have made, and continue to make, sacrifices for us every day.

Card Guidelines:

Every card received will be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working around the country.
Please observe the following guidelines to ensure a quick reviewing process:

  • All cards being sent in for 2011 Holiday Mail For Heroes program should be postmarked no later than Friday, December 9, 2011.
  • Ensure that all cards are signed.
  • Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
  • Only cards are being accepted. Do not send letters.
  • Do not include email or home addresses on the cards, as the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
  • Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos, as these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
  • We encourage participants to mail as many cards as they are comfortable sending. If you are mailing a large quantity, please bundle the cards and place them in large mailing envelopes or use a flat rate box from the post office. Each card does not need its own envelope, as cards will be removed from all envelopes before distribution.
  • Please refrain from sending holiday cards with glitter. Many of these cards will be delivered to military and veterans medical facilities and the glitter could interfere with a patient’s recovery

Cards should be mailed to:

Holiday Mail For Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

**Cards can also be purchased here for a $1.

**Click here for a list of Simon Malls that will be collecting cards as well.

You can make your cards, or buy one from the store, either way you’ll be spreading Christmas cheer to someone who will appreciate it more than you know.

This year, the boys and I will be making our cards and when we finish I will post pictures of what we make. We’d love to see what you come up with too!

If you have any questions feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Love and Laughter,

If you need another reason to participate, this video speaks for itself.

New Baby Food Page!

Hi! I just added the first round of my Baby Food info to the yummies page on the blog!

All you have to do is click on the yummies link up in the menu and it will take you there!

Let me know what you think!


It’s definetly fall in the PNW. We’ve had a few days of sun, but mostly rain. After the beautiful summer, I’d almost forgotten what it was like! The boys continue to grow like crazy, and we are all keeping ourselves busy.

Here’s the photo version of what’s been going on with us:

My Monsters!

Our Halloween Photo Shoot

Buzz Lightyear and his Alien friend all ready for Trick-or-Treating!

Mattie turns 7 months!

We had family pictures taken last weekend and should be getting them back soon! It was a chilly and wet day, but I can’t wait to share them with all of you!

This weekend Anth had a 4-day for Veteran’s Day. We spent the entire weekend relaxing and spending time together. After poker-night on Friday (he won!), Anth spent the rest of the weekend enjoying his new video game, Skyrim. I think he really enjoyed his time off! So did we!

Love & Laughter,

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best!

Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North “Poll!” You’ll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

Love & Laughter,

Where does the time go!

Oh my goodness! I’m not sure how so much time got away from me since the last update! It seems like we’ve been go-go-go around here, and finally I’m getting a breather.

After a very long couple of months, and some amazing work on some big projects, Anth took leave for a couple of weeks. It was fantastic! We didn’t do much, a few short day trips, but spent a lot of time just being together. The boys and I loved having him home!

We made our first trip to IKEA (I’m so in love!), and we also checked out some new Farmer’s Markets in the Area. I’m making all of Matteo’s food so the markets really come in handy with the fresh yummy produce!

We got a new car and are loving it! Great gas mileage (not better than the Camry, but still good!) and 7 seats makes for a very happy Caristi Crew. Luca likes to call it ‘his car’ which is very cute.

This week the salmon are running in Olympia and we spent an hour watching them swim up the ladder from Pugent Sound into Deschutes River. The seals were hanging out and catching a few as well! It was such an amazing thing to watch and something I don’t think we’d have the opportunity to see anywhere else.

Matteo is growing like crazy! At his 4 month check-up he was 15lbs 8oz and 25.5 inches long! He is such a happy, smiley baby. Teething has definitely started and so has the drooling that goes along with it. Besides us, his favorite things are Sophie the Giraffe and his Winnie the Pooh burpie. I decide to start solid foods, because he was always so hungry and let me tell you, this little guy loves food. Peaches are his favorite for now. He rolls from tummy to back and has done back to tummy once or twice. He can sit unassisted for a few seconds and has started shimmying around on the floor to get where he wants. I can’t believe my little squishy will be 5 months in just a couple of days!

Luca continues to make sure that there is never a dull moment. He loves to read and sing, and dances or runs everywhere he goes! We got him into preschool, but his slot isn’t available until January. He’s so excited to start school, and I’m excited for him. He learns something new everyday, and has a thirst for knowledge that sometimes just boggles my mind. I feel like he gets taller every day and he’s finally made it over the 30lb mark! Yay! His eating habits have really made a turn around, and we’ve been able to introduce some new foods we never thought we’d get him to eat. I’m hoping with a little eating machine for a brother that this will only continue to get better!

Anth is back at work now, and I think he’s happy to be back in a routine, but of course missing us. Right? Right. Football season has started and that means Fantasy Football time, his favorite time of year! And because I’m typing this when he’s not home to look it over before I post, I’m going to brag on him just a little. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better hubby. He is amazing with our boys and is so good to me as well. Honestly, without him I’d be lost half the time.

I’ve started getting more involved and starting to finally feel like my old self. The FRG for the unit has started to form and I’ve taken on a position with that. I’ve also joined a Mom’s group that meets several times a month and does various activities, on post and off. The boys keep me busy and on my toes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are some pictures from the last few weeks!

Checking out the water
4 months!


The Splash Park, Luca’s new favorite place!

Baby Food!

New Car

My Boys!
Beautiful view!

Love to you all!

Whirlwind Summer

Oh my goodness! I know it’s been awhile since my last update, but things have been go, go, go around here and they’ve just settled down long enough for me to post.

The weather has been so beautiful lately and we have been enjoying every last second of the beautiful PNW. We’ve been visiting the Farmer’s Market in Olympia a lot and are so in love. It is has a gorgeous view and is full of beautiful flowers and yummy fruits, veggies, and bakery items. It’s one of our new favorite places.

Here are the boys enjoying the view at the Farmers Market.

We also took a trip to Portland, OR. We spent the afternoon at the zoo and then had dinner and picked up some yummy treats at Voodoo Donuts. They were amazing and the zoo is one of our new favorites. (That’s saying a lot in this family! We are zoo experts!)

Here are pics of us with the boys at The Oregon Zoo.

And one of those yummy donuts.

My friends Christy and Marni (from Fort Irwin) made the trip to stay with us for a week. Christy has a 10 month old and Marni has an almost 2 year old. Our house was full of four little guys 3 and under and three mommies who were so so happy to see each other. I’ve seen them both individually a couple times each, but this was the first time we’ve been all together in almost 3 years! Most husbands would have been overwhelmed, but Anth rolled with it as usual and had a blast, and so did we!

Here’s a picture of us with our boys.

After our house full of kiddos and pretty ladies left, my mom and dad came for a visit! It was so nice to see them and for them to finally meet Matteo. We packed a whole lot into a few days and enjoyed every second with them. We even made a trip to Seattle and spent the day at Pike’s Place Market! That place is a zoo! So many people and so much to see and do! We made it home with all kinds of goodies for us and the kiddos.

Here are my beautiful parents and my handsome boys.

It’s been a crazy month and now that it’s winding down the house seems so quiet. We hope you’re all having wonderful summers!!

I’ll leave you with a picture of each of the boys!

Here’s Matteo, such a big boy! I can’t believe he’ll be 3 months in a little over a week!

And Luca with his tent and costume that Grammy and Gramps got him! He’s always so funny!

Until next time!

Anniversary and Pics

Helloooooo! There’s not a lot new here, but I wanted to post some pictures, because while we don’t have much going on, the pictures are bountiful.

Last week was another beautiful week and the boys and I spent as much time at the park as possible. This week was a different story, we went when we could, but the rain made its comeback.

Anth was catching up with work both last week and this week, he’s working his butt off everyday and comes home to us every night. I’m not sure how he keeps the smile on his face, but he does.

Yesterday, Thursday the 26th, was our 4 year Anniversary. I cannot believe it’s been four years. We have such an amazing little family, and I’m so lucky to be married to my very best friend.

Thanks to our wonderful friends, The Johnson’s, we were able to have a night out. We grabbed a quick dinner at Panera and then watched Bridesmaids. For those of you who haven’t seen it, you need to go. One of the best, and most hilarious, movies I’ve seen in awhile.

I think that’s about it for now, here’s the fun stuff…

Here’s the book I’m reading this week, so far I’m impressed.

This was one of my best deals of the week, 840 wipes for $19.95. That’s $0.02 a wipe!!

Another amazing deal, 168 diapers for 22.93! YAY!!

A beautiful view of Mt. Rainier that Anth took. So pretty when it’s clear.

The boys at the Park, Mattie is using his new blankie from Christy. So comfy!

I can’t believe he’s 7 weeks already!!

Here’s my little monkey showing off his climbing skills.

I can’t get enough of this picture, or those faces.

Anth is on a four-day this weekend so we are enjoying family time. I think we’re going to make a trip to the Olympia Farmer’s Market one day and other than that, we’re just going to relax!

Talk to you soon!

A week sunshine!

It’s been a beautiful week in the PNW, lots of sunshine! Luca, Matteo, and I spent a lot of time at the park and even made some new friends who just moved to our neighborhood.

On Friday we had our friends, The Johnson’s (Tiffany, Chris, and their boys CJ and Liam) over for a cookout. The boys always have a blast together and so do the adults! We took a walk to see Puget Sound and hung out all evening.

Saturday, we had a welcome dinner at our new Church (St. Michael’s Parish). Luca got to spend some time in the preschool with other kids his age and didn’t want to leave when the dinner was open. Anth and I sat with some other couples from the church and had a great time comparing kid stories, especially those lovely three year old tantrums.

Matteo continues to grow every day. At his latest appointment he was already up to 9.1 lbs. We can’t believe it!

Here are the boys this week. So cuddly and cute.

Anth, Luca, CJ, Liam, and Chris walking to Puget Sound.

Luca at the park, can you tell he’s a happy boy?

A desert baby for sure. He thought he needed a hat and jacket for 70 degree weather.

Mr. Wide Awake. He’s been VERY alert lately. So observant.

Life is exhausting.

Not sure what we have going on this week, but I’m sure whatever comes will be an adventure! Let’s just hope it’s a sunny adventure. 🙂

Talk to you all soon!

Here we go again…

I know it’s shocking! It’s been way too long and I’ve actually really missed keeping this up to date. I figured with our new addition, now is the perfect time to get back into it.

I have to give a huge HUGE thank you hug and kiss to my friend Kassiah for making our beautiful blog. She’s amazing and if you ever have any blog needs, get her information from me. She does amazing work!

There is so much new with us that I’m not even sure where to start. Let’s see…

– We are living in Washington now. It’s really different from Fort Irwin and even Fort Jackson. We are starting to see sun now, something that was rare the first five months we were here. Everything is so lush and green here, it’s still an adjustment and even Luca has to squint from the brightness every once in a while. We are just minutes from Puget Sound and have a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier from our kitchen window. As far as setting, it doesn’t get much better.

– We are now a family of four! Matteo Kellen Caristi was born on April 7th, 2011. He was 7lbs 8.4 ounces and 19.75 inches long. He is such a good baby and already sleeps in 3+ hour stretches at night, something both mommy and daddy are very happy about. He is amazingly strong, and shocked all of us by starting to hold his head up the day he was born. He loves to eat and is growing like a weed. I can’t believe he’s already a month old.

– Luca is an amazing big brother. He is always concerned about Mattie and loves to hold his hand and read to him. It’s amazing to watch them together.

– Luca continues to grow every day. I can’t get over what an intelligent, caring, and hilarious little guy he is. He loves to read, use ANY kind of technology he can get his hands on, and play outside (especially soccer!) Not a day goes by that he doesn’t have us laughing.

– Anthony’s new job is going well. The unit that he’s with is in the process of being created from the ground up. He is standing up Helicopter Brigade and has the added challenge of working a level above his training. Needless to say he is very busy.

– I am loving being home with both boys. I’m looking forward to the summer and nicer weather so that we can get out and do more around our little town of Dupont. There are so many activities offered around here as well as a library within walking distance.

And now for the best part. The pictures.

Here’s our new house.

Here’s Luca on his third Birthday! I can’t believe he’s three!!

Here’s Matteo just a couple hours old. Grumpy-man face.

Here’s Luca holding Mattie right after we got home from the hospital.

Over on the left hand side of the blog there is a slide show of pictures. I will do my best to keep that up to date so that any pictures I don’t share on the blog will be there.

There is also a playlist on the right hand side that will only play if you want it too. Feel free to enjoy the music while you read. 🙂

I’ll be posting again soon! Love to you all!