Blog

Missing My Big Boy

By Elisa DiStefano

Our family

I’ve been wanting to post about being a mom on here since my baby Christian was born… in August… but gosh, having a baby (and one that doesn’t like to nap or sleep much) has taken up all of my free time.
What I realized, especially in the last day, is that I was a mom way before my baby boy was born. Motherhood began for me when I met my now-husband’s two Golden Retrievers Saint and Chris.

saint 36 saint 37

These two stole my heart. They were my babies. I knew Mo would be an incredible father by the way he loved and cared for those dogs, putting their needs before his own time and time again. We lost Chrissy almost two years ago, and I am heartbroken to say we lost our Saint yesterday.
He was 12 1/2 and I know that is a full life for our 120 + pounder. But it still hurts so much. I needed to write this now- through the tears- so that I always remember just how great he was.

This morning was very difficult for me. Mornings were our special time. Waking up at 2 in the morning was made easier by hearing a tail thump on the floor as soon as I got out of bed. No matter what time of day, Saint was always so happy to see me, waiting for me at the bottom of the steps or at our door.
Saint was strong but so gentle and kind- and always showed us so much love. He took the back seat as we cared for our Chrissy with cancer and got us through the difficult time after we lost Chris and so many other difficult time. He was our rock. He brought us so many laughs and so much joy.

He adapted to our new house after our move this summer and made it home for us. And when I came home from the hospital recovering from a C-section, he didn’t leave my side and kept an eye on our baby. It’s like he knew that I couldn’t get down on the floor with him and give him 100% percent of my attention- and it broke my heart, but once again got us through it- wagging his tail and taking in every bit of love.

Saint lived a life of giving and gratitude. He was grateful for every present- and loved his toys and showed so much appreciation and excitement for every treat, gift and walk given to him. He made everyone around him feel so special and so loved- especially me. My “Big Boy” protected me- always making me feel safe. We shared a couch- and a bed- so many nights. He’d stay up with me while I did my work late at night. He was so so smart. He knew when I was upset, sick, if we were going someplace- knew how to tell time- I swear. I am just beginning to realize how so much of my day and life revolved around him- which is only fair because we were his whole life. And he was selfless. Even at the end- he didn’t let us know he was suffering until the final hours. He didn’t want us to see him that way. He always protected us. He waited until we were both home, and didn’t put us through having to make any decisions. Selfless.

I am so happy he had his last walk with Mo that morning- he so loved going with him to the restaurants and waiting outside as Mo hosed down the patio- (always waiting for a meatball or piece of bacon from the guys in the kitchen on his afternoon walk)! I am happy he got one more snow this year (he’s a Canadian Golden after all), and one more swim when it warmed up last week.

I am grateful that Christian got to meet him. Strangely just this week, they really started noticing each other and really liking each other. Christian started laughing and smiling at him, and Saint gave him a big lick. It made me so happy. Even though my big boy was old, I would dream about Christian growing up with him, them being best friends. But it’s almost like Saint got our family to this point- and was like, you guys are going to be okay now- you’ve got this now. I still can’t believe he is gone and won’t be waiting for me when I get home today. Our house will always feel empty and I will miss him every day just like I miss my Chrissy.

At least now I can find comfort in the fact that they are back together again, playing, chasing and running over that Rainbow Bridge… forever leaving footprints on my heart.

RIP Saint “Big Boy” Cassara 2-1-17

saint 38

 

SAINT 1SAINT 4SAINT 5saint grassSAINT 8SAINT CHRIS PUPS

SAINT 10

saint 12saint 14saint 15

 

saint 16 saint 17saint 35 saint 34 saint 33saint 29 saint 28Saint 30 saint 31 saint 32 saint 33 saint 18 saint 19 saint 20 saint 21saint 23saint 26 saint 27saint bowtie

 

9 Month Mark!

By Elisa DiStefano

I cannot believe I’ve hit the 9 month mark already. Although people keep saying I look like I am ready to pop, burst, explode (oh I’ve heard it all and then some) I technically still have a few weeks to go until this baby comes. Although I feel so lucky to have had a good and healthy pregnancy, I do admit, keeping up my work schedule is getting harder (especially because it’s so tough to sleep but I hear that’s normal!). My feet and legs are so swollen (I am trying to keep them elevated as much as possible and wearing my not so comfortable doctor prescribed compression tights but nothing seems to help) they are unrecognizable! This baby is moving and kicking like crazy- and wants out I think!

The nesting thing I heard about I guess has kicked in! I just want everything organized and set up. I’ve been cleaning like crazy. A few weeks ago, we moved, so unpacking has been a bit stressful. But slowly, with the help of my amazing parents, I am crossing things off the list. I think I have all the baby stuff I need. (I am so behind on getting thank you cards out and I feel terrible about that!) One of my best friends, Vanessa Alfano, is a Mommy Blogger and made me this list of her favorite baby gear (and my very loving work family surprised me with this segment!).

IMG_4110

We went to hospital orientation on Sunday… it seemed that all of the other parents-to-be (all due way after me btw) had their bags packed and pediatricians picked. I am getting on both this week (and thank Elizabeth for sending me a care package with a lot of what I’ll need)! Would love any of your mommy-must-haves and Long Island friends, any Nassau County south shore pediatricians you love!

So in the middle of this craziness (we are also opening a new restaurant this month) my dear friend Ingrid (again) suggested that I take maternity pics and said she had the perfect photographer friend to do it. At first I said no… not feeling so great about how I look… and I have plenty of pics of me and videos of me… and I don’t have time for a photo session…. so, I said no again…. and then several more people suggested I take some and said I’d regret not taking them. One of my girlfriends said, “you are so blessed to be pregnant- god willing you will have this blessing again- but who knows.”

So, Ingrid was kind enough to set the whole thing up with Jennifer of Two Bees photography at a beach by my house last week, and even picked me a dress to wear. I practically forced my husband to go… I was kind of embarrassed and nervous but Jen (who is a mom) made me feel so comfortable and was so quick (thank goodness because Mo isn’t so patient with those types of things) and now I am so happy that she captured this very special time in our lives. She even delivered me the flash drive today in the cutest package!  Although these are very personal to me, I thought I’d share a few with you because I am very grateful.

IMG_4115

 

2WEB

 

 

IMG_4122

45WEB

I do have to apologize if you received an inappropriate response to a kind comment on a previous post, someone made an email account pretending to be me and was responding to many of you. They also write mean and hurtful things to me as well. I choose not to let hate and negativity impact me during this very precious time.  Instead, I send that person prayers that they somehow find peace and happiness for themselves.

Thank you for all of the well wishes and kind notes… I appreciate all of the love & advice!

052819

 

 

 

Mom-ual wanted!

By Elisa DiStefano

mom-ual?I’m more than half-way there… and I am so excited but so nervous too.

IMG_1424

I sometimes catch a glimpse of myself in my work bathroom mirror and can’t believe it so I have to snap & send to Mo!

The bump is getting bigger and bigger (and everything else is too!) and I think the days of squeezing into my regular clothes are quickly coming to an end. I’ve been following my nutritionist, friend and co-author Stacy Moutafis’ Baby Body diet as best I can and sticking to my workouts with Geri twice a week (and trying to get in that cardio & Stacy’s extra exercises but gosh it’s getting tougher!).

I feel very blessed and grateful to be having a healthy pregnancy, so I hate to complain about anything (although these compression tights my doctor has me wearing for my leg swelling are very unattractive and quite uncomfortable and difficult to get on! Feet up as much as possible is also tough for someone that is always on the go- but I am trying my best and Saint is loving it).

IMG_1206

The baby’s kicks are getting stronger (I love feeling it!) and I feel like my list of to-dos is getting longer. My whole life I’ve over prepared and over studied for everything- and so I am starting to stress that I am behind in baby preparedness!

My sister and friends have been kind enough to compile my long list of must-haves (I can’t believe there are so many things to get) and Mo and I spent today looking at baby stuff trying to educate ourselves (whoah is everything expensive). I received some books as gifts that I started to skim- but I wish that there was one mom-ual that had a list of everything I need and need to do… and the timetable I need to do it in!

IMG_1423

My doctor gave me a stack of paper work… hospital registration, cord blood….  and said I have to start looking into birthing classes… I had no idea there was such a thing!

A girlfriend suggested I book a maternity shoot (what to wear alone stresses me out)… another asked if I thought about getting a hospital gown to wear (does everyone do that?)… and another asked if I started making a push play list (music to play during labor? I never heard of that but now every song on the radio has me thinking…. ) . Moms out there, did you do any of this?

I know none of it really matters, and having a healthy baby is the only thing that matters, but I want to be the best mom possible and have this be the best experience possible. So suggestions are appreciated – and if anyone has that mom-ual… I’ll take it!

Baby Boy or Girl? The envelope please…

By Elisa DiStefano

First, thank you for all of your very kind messages and comments. We are so touched by all of the beautiful notes and well wishes, and grateful for all of the love.

Elisa_DiStefano_pregnantMy bump is growing and the big question has been, do we know if we are having a boy or girl…

well, we could know, but we don’t yet!

Our doctor gave us a sealed envelope with the answer inside and we’ve had it for about a month. Each time we think about opening it, the timing doesn’t seem right.

Mostly everyone in my family waited for the big delivery room reveal with the belief that there are so few surprises in life…. but, almost all of my friends found out right away! I guess that leaves us somewhere in the middle!

In our waiting defense, we’ve had a lot going on in the last month, with Mo’s crazy travel schedule, buying a house and another business (that’s a whole other blog or 10), publishing The Bridal Body book (and all of the events that have gone along with it) and sadly the devastating loss of a family member, Mo & I have had very little time together.

Part of me wants to know simply so that the “your face changed- you are having a girl”, “you’re widening so it’s definitely a girl”, “you are carrying in front so it’s a boy for sure” comments come to an abrupt end!

The honest truth is, it truly doesn’t matter to me if it’s a boy or a girl (I’d love to have both) – as I now truly understand the concern of just wanting a healthy baby.

A lot of friends are asking if we’ll do a reveal party (I was even given balloons!) … I’ve seen some very cute, fun ones but I’m not sure that’s for us… maybe we’ll just open it on rare quiet day at home… or with immediate family…. I guess both the when and how are still big question marks! Or perhaps I am over thinking this way too much!

IMG_0417

So parents, just wondering, did you find out the sex of your baby? Are you happy that you did or didn’t?

So happy to share “Our Something New”

By Elisa DiStefano

Mo & I have had many adventures … but I have a feeling this is going to be our biggest and best one yet.

Friends, we have another “something new” we’re so happy to share with you.

In the spirit of March Madness (and Mo’s love of basketball) –

mo-elisa-babybump-words

 

we are excited to announce we’ll soon have a new member on our team! 

Feeling grateful and so blessed (and yes, a bit nauseous and exhausted too)!

Much more to come…

 

Something New for the New Year

By Elisa DiStefano

I am so excited to share my “something new” for the New Year…

I know I am a month late, but please accept my wishes for a very Happy & Healthy New Year ahead! I’m not sure where the last month went, as I still have a few Santas and rolls of wrapping paper to put away in my house, but I am so excited to get going with 2016!

2015 was an exciting, emotional, and I’ll be honest, stressful year. I lost my beloved Golden Retriever Chrissy, and I miss him every day. We’ve had illness in our extended family. I adjusted to and settled into married life…  although my wedding video and albums are still yet to be seen… we still have loose ends to tie, a year and a half later!

IMG_8400

My husband bought a restaurant and I’ve learned first hand all that goes into being a business owner. We are coming up on a year of owning The Point Ale House and Grill, and we still have so much we want to do. I’ve learned that everything can’t get done all at once (as deadline driven me would prefer), sometimes your plan isn’t God’s plan, and that teamwork truly does make the dream work. I also learned so much about the restaurant business and so much about my husband. I have such tremendous admiration for his strength, drive, ability to think outside the box and multitasking skills.

I have so much respect for him and all of you who have succeeded in running a business! It’s not easy, but I am excited to help him get some bigger plans going in 2016.

 

Every year at the beginning of the year I make myself a physical list of goals for the upcoming year. I think for the past decade, publishing a book has been on that list.

I love to write and have written a number of books over the years that sit safely on my computer. This year I am so proud to say that my goal is finally being met. In the next several weeks, I will be a published author! The funny thing is, it’s not one of my beloved books that have lived for years in my computer.

As you know if you’ve read this blog, a big part of my wedding journey was getting in shape and getting healthy. It’s still something I work on every day and a huge part of my life. So many of you have reached out asking for more information about how I lost weight for my wedding. I give so much credit to my nutritionist Stacy Moutafis, who is also a trainer, for teaching me so much, changing my life and my overall well-being.

So we decided to put all of the information that helped me (and her other brides-to-be) into a book that we hope will be the every-bride’s guide to wedding weight loss. For me, it wasn’t just about losing weight, but being healthy and feeling good. In our book, Stacy breaks down all of the nutrition information you need to know and designed specific meal plans and workouts. I contributed my stories and strategies.

 

BRIDAL BODY COVER jpegIt’s called The Bridal Body book and it is being published and will be sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in stores and shops in the next few weeks. It’s been a lot of time and hard work, but truly a labor of love. I am so excited to share it with you and I hope it will change a lot of lives, just as it’s changed mine! We’ll be attending Bridal Expos, having events, workshops and signings in the upcoming months… so stay tuned! And Happy New Year!

Elisa_DiStefano_Bridal_Body_Book

 

It’s Been A Year

By Elisa DiStefano

It’s been a year. Well, technically one year and one month.

weddingmagI am very grateful we had one night to celebrate our anniversary and first year of marriage at Oheka Castle (where we got married, and they were kind enough to hang up our wedding spread in Newsday on their wall).

Please know that I do not mean to sound ungrateful by any means. Just honest. The truth is, even after the honeymoon is over and the bills are paid and the thank yous are mailed… there’s still a lot to be done. And, as I’ve learned, it could all take a good year.

So, it’s been a year (well, over a year)… and that comes with new pressure because, well, it’s been a year.

1. Our Cake.

cake
I waited all year for a taste of our delicious cake that my mother so generously stored for us in her freezer (and prayed not to have a power outage!). She gave it back just before our anniversary, and here it remains. In my “storage” fridge.

cakefridgeBecause it is so special to me (I know it was made with so much love), I had a grand vision of inviting my whole family over, watching our wedding video and eating the cake together to celebrate our anniversary. Yet, we haven’t had time to do that. And, furthermore, the wedding video is still not done…. And, yes, it’s been a year.

{ UPDATE: WE FINALLY ATE THE CAKE —just the two of us after a long day, and it was so delicious and beautiful… I hated cutting into it and wish I could save it forever!}

caketop

2. The Wedding Album.

I am so happy that (I thought) I completed our wedding album two days before the one year deadline. Whew! However, I just realized that there are photos I need to add that were not included in my proof pics. And what about all of those other pictures that didn’t make the album? Do they just sit in a box?

3. The Gifts.

I look at the boxes piled in our bedroom every night before I go to sleep and think of all of the wonderful items inside. The truth is, we absolutely love all of our beautiful gifts and can’t wait to have wonderful dinner parties and big family gatherings… someday….

gifts

4. The Dress.

dressIs still hanging in my old room at my mother’s house. I go upstairs and visit it every time I am home and think about the fabulous day I had in that dress. I think that if I took it out of the plastic, it might be able to dance on its own! But I know (although my mom has been kind enough not to complain) that it can’t hang there forever. And I have no idea what to do with it. I wanted to put it on again (in hopes that it zips!)- a la that famous Friends episode- and pop open a bottle of champagne (I think we have a few from our engagement that we still haven’t opened) and eat our wedding cake… in my dress. See item #1.

friends

5. The Questions.

First, here’s my question… what makes “the year” the deadline to have all of your you-know-what together? I am the first to admit, I certainly don’t. But people expect you to and ask questions that make me feel like there’s something wrong with me, with us. For example, “It’s been a year, have you thought about starting a family?” Nope, the thought hasn’t crossed my mind, so thank you so much for bringing it to my attention!

All I can say is that we are a work in progress, and although “it’s been a year” (okay, over a year), I pray that we will have many, many years together… and it’s all about the journey, isn’t it?

anniversary

Our 1 Year Anniversary

By Elisa DiStefano

Elisa_DiStefano_Mo_Cassara_Wedding One year ago right now I was beginning what would be the best day of my life so far. I can’t believe today is our 1 year anniversary.

It was a beautiful day, just like today. I had the people I love the most there to celebrate my marriage to the love of my life. I will be forever grateful for all of the love and kindness I was given from so many, even from so many of you that I haven’t had the opportunity to meet in person. So, thank you. Thank you to everyone, especially my husband and our families, who went out of your way to make it so very special. I will never take that day, or this time in my life for granted.

We celebrated our first anniversary a few days early at Oheka Castle, the place we got engaged and had our wedding celebration. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked across the great lawn and imagined it full of our friends and family. I can remember a year ago stopping in the garden as we took pictures to look over and take it all in- fully aware that we would never have all of these people we love so much in the same place again. As I walked through the hallways of the castle, I can’t believe it was a year ago that all of our friends from all over the world filled those rooms and we had the biggest party- and after party- of our lives.

When I think about our wedding day, I am filled with the emotion of love and joy.

wedding collage

It has been such an exciting and emotional year for Mo and I. Time is a funny thing. I feel like so much has happened and changed since our wedding day, yet it feels like it was yesterday and I still just can’t believe a year has gone by.

(I am proud to say, two days before the one year deadline, I finally made our wedding album!)

Marriage is wonderful. I am so blessed to have the best partner and to come home to so much love every day… and I truly am excited for every day. But, I’ve also learned that marriage isn’t easy and takes work. I’ve learned that I need to change some priorities, say no to some people and “obligations” so I can put “us” first. And I’ve learned that I still have so much to learn!

It’s been a tough year in that we lost our dog Chrissy who was so sick for so long- and we miss him terribly. It’s been a challenging year in that my husband bought The Point, a restaurant in our town- and it’s been more work and emotional and financial stress than I ever imagined it would be. Perhaps we are not exactly where we thought we would be one year in,  but I keep reminding myself that it is about the journey, and there is noone else I’d want to be on this journey with.

We are going to take a few hours out today to spend together on our one year anniversary, because as you know, time flies and we have to savor the good times.

Thanks for following along the last two years. This is very special and personal to us, but we’d like to share with you four minutes of the best day of our life.

 

 

 

 

My Birthday Wish & Our Something New

By Elisa DiStefano

bday baby

 

Wow, another year flies by, and what a year it was. I think the most change ever for me in a year…  so many great “somethings new” (I’ll get to our latest in a moment) … it makes me a little sad to leave this year behind.

Every Birthday-Eve I look at my list of all the positive things that have happened to me in the past year (yes, I keep a list in my phone just in case I need a pick me up on a down day), and I look at my list of goals that I set for that year. (I am so grateful to have had such a great year.) Then I make a list of my goals for the coming year. This year that goal list is much more challenging because I am not quite sure where I want life to take me. And perhaps for the first time, I am okay with that. As the lovely Susan Lucci says, “let life surprise you”. And of course, keep working hard.

It’s funny to think about age…how fast time goes the older you get, or at least the older I get. All of these expectations that come along with hitting a certain number. I think about how much pressure I’ve put on myself the last decade. My 20-something year old self thought I’d be way further along in all aspects of life by now. And she’d be shocked I am living in the suburbs.

But somehow still, I truly believe in the old saying, “You are where you’re supposed to be”.

I came across this awesome article in the Huffington Post this week, and I feel like I wrote it! It pretty much states my exact feelings about what I’ve learned (it’s a quick read):

13 Things All Women In Their Thirties Want All Women In Their Twenties To Know

And yes, Sheryl Sandberg was right: The person you choose to spend your life with is the most important career decision you will make. (so, so sad for the loss of Sheryl’s husband) This is especially true when you have crazy hours like mine, and are constantly on the go. Having Mo support me and be my teammate is something I’ve never experienced before. And now he needs my support…

ELISA MO POINT BAR 2So that brings me back to our something new.

My husband has a new business. Mo is now an entrepreneur, a few weeks ago he bought a restaurant in our neighborhood. To be honest, I never ever thought he’d/ we’d have our own business let alone a restaurant. But somehow, life surprised us when this opportunity was presented to him.

His dad has had several restaurants, so Mo grew up in the business. I worked as a waitress for a total of about two days (both days did not end well)! In Mo’s busy basketball months (working as a TV College Basketball commentator), business in our community slows down so id dloe do

{I left that in because that is the point in which I fell asleep writing this last night sitting up in bed and Mo came home hours later and removed this computer from my chest and tucked me in}.

Clearly, I am exhausted (we both are).

But, feeling energized and optimistic this morning as I start this new year. Mo waited for me to wake up to wish me a Happy Birthday, and then had to be off running restaurant errands (I can’t believe how much work and how hard it is taking over this business). I have to get ready to work myself today. I’ll be backstage at a huge summer concert, then I will meet him at the restaurant later for a little Birthday celebration. For years I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday (I didn’t like making anything about me), but now I see it differently. While my friends and family — and we– are all happy and healthy and lucky enough to have so much to celebrate, we should celebrate and make the most of every day. Elisa_DiStefano_Mo_Cassara_Restaurant I know it’s going to be a grind for us with this new business (please pass along any advice or words of wisdom), but my birthday wish is that we take time out and enjoy all the good things happening right now. Time flies, and birthdays come fast. So, if you come down to The Point, please stop me and say hello, and remind me of that! bday invite

The Lovely Ladies of General Hospital Unscripted

By Elisa DiStefano

Recently I’ve been having so many discussions about women supporting women, and how to balance work, kids, and relationships.

General_Hospital_Laura_Wright_Maura_West_Finola_HughesSo, when I was sitting at a bar with Maura West, Finola Hughes,and Laura Wright, three of my favorite soap stars on General Hospital who happen to all be working moms (Maura’s a mother of 5!) up for Daytime Emmy Awards tonight, I decided to whip out my iphone and ask them some questions.

Their answers were refreshing, encouraging, honest and surprisingly super down to earth.
I’ve always been a huge GH fan. This made me love and admire them even more.

On working with the other women of GH on set & women supporting women:

On being a working mom & the work-life balance:

1 2 3 7