Monday, January 31, 2011

Mommy Confessions

I've run out of ideas.  We've only been married for 2 1/2 years and I've completely run out of ideas for Matt's birthday. 

We're both the sentimental type, so he's not just looking for the newest, coolest gadget (which would actually make things a lot easier).

We never really tell each other what we want for our birthdays; we just try to come up with something meaningful on our own.

But Matt did give me a hint this year, which really helped.  Lately, he keeps saying how nice it would be to sit by a nice, warm crackling fire.  Well, our fireplace has never been used before, so we're always afraid that it's not safe without a professional chimney sweep first.

So, I knew that's exactly what I would do-- get the chimney peeps in here and have a big, warm crackling fire roaring when he came home tonight.

Surprise! Instead, this is what he will get when he comes home tonight...

a blazing fire, brought to you by the sides of Niall's diaper boxes and Kerry's acrylic paints
The chimney sweeper took one look at the masonry inside of our 50 year old, never used chimney and informed me of the bad news: $2,500 to patch up the bricks, re-line the flues, and fix the line to the hot water heater.  So, this is my humble attempt to give Matt his roaring fire.

Cute, but not quite birthday present material.

Did I mention that his birthday is TODAY??

I'm running out of time, I know.  I do have plans to pick up dinner from one of his favorite places: Mama Lucia's.  Amazing Italian food.  Fettucine Bolognese, Pasta Carbonera, Penne Ala Vodka... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

But that's still not really a present.

I wouldn't normally procrastinate like this, but Niall has been blowing chunks all weekend.  Serious chunks.  Tell you all about that tomorrow ;)

I also think we need to take into account here that Matt just got back from a bachelor party in Vegas, so please don't feel one bit sorry for him. 

Ok, off to Target, wish me luck!

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Our First Family Snowman

I typically look forward to power outages; forcing me to enjoy the often forgotten pleasures in life: reading, writing, painting, pretending I am a photographer, etc.

But they can be deceiving, those "fun" power outages; those little escapes from reality. When 6pm rolls around, you are left sitting in your pitch black house with the silence of your own thoughts- no books, no nothin. (Matt is in Vegas- how convenient.)

After 12 hours of freezing our buns off and running out of time to save the day old groceries I had just bought, Niall and I packed up our things and headed to the in-laws. They were one of probably 100 houses in the 5 mile radius with power.

And I knew exactly what we would do when we finally finished unloading all of our salvageable groceries...

I haven't built one of these guys since I was about 10 years old-- and I have to ask, is it normal to profusely sweat and feel like you ran a half marathon when you're finished? I think it's really a 2 or 3 person job, so I had my work cut out for me.

Especially with a baby trying to crawl onto a busy street and a 150 pound dog determined to plow through every delicately rolled snow body part.

It's funny how you'll look at a picture of a couple kids with their dog, standing next to a snowman and think "How fun!". Nobody ever considers how incredibly difficult it was to a) build the snowman, b) get a toddler to stand next to it, c) get the dog not to trample the whole thing, and d) get them all to look at the camera.

It's almost a small miracle. But I was determined to make this thing happen, through all the blood, sweat and tears. So help me, there would be some inkling of a snow person when I was finished with this thing.

As Amber (the dog) was eating the frozen blueberries right off Frosty's face and Niall was crying from snow filling his pants and boots, I couldn't help but be proud of myself; it was our first family snowman!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {In Control}

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let the Creative Juices Flow

It's time.  Play time, that is.

Just as I was wallowing in my post infant blues, thinking about how Niall was no longer my little baby (and feeling a little jealous of my friends with newborn babies), we entered into this new and exciting phase of real, live playing.

I've longed for the day when Niall would know what to do when I hid behind a curtain or threw a ball in his direction, and naturally, it's taken a little while. But I have to admit, I've given Niall much less credit than he deserves.

When friends would accidentally curse in front of him and profusely apologize, I would assure them "No worries, he doesn't speak English anyway." But that is certainly not the case, as you moms with more common sense have probably figured out. Babies are so much smarter than that.

So now that he is understanding the concepts of puzzles and balls and little games, I am beside myself with excitement. And let's not lie to ourselves, I'm feeling a little pressure about whether I'm cool enough to keep his busy little mind entertained.

I remember the days of made up languages, stuffed animal dinner parties, and playing house (all of which are a little old for Niall right now, I know)... but I am totally drawing a blank when I imagine initiating toddler games now, at age 27.

My sense of childhood creativity has somehow escaped me. Despite my excitement for this new phase of fun, I am a little nervous about thinking up cool games as opposed to popping open a book. And even more nervous to think that Niall's imagination is surpassing mine by the minute.

So here I am, watching Niall open and close this shoe box, wondering "How can I make this box more than a box?" How can I take his little imagination into another universe? I should know, but I don't.  And then I am reminded how cool it is to be a kid and how lame it is to be an old fart.

I'll work on it and see what I come up with ;)

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Moving On

I guess this is the part when life goes back to "normal." This is the part where everyone gets back on their planes or back in their cars and gets on with their lives.

It just feels too weird to go back to telling cute stories about what Niall did yesterday or things we're looking forward to in the coming weeks. It's very strange the way life keeps going, regardless of how much the world seems to stop.

Meanwhile, this family's life story has ended to a certain extent. They'll always have the memories, but no new stories of Pat to tell. No more happy occasions to look forward to. I can't help but put myself in their position and think about how difficult it would be to face each day without Niall.

And yet I'm completely amazed and inspired by people's strength and compassion. The way his sister, brother and parents smiled at each person who came to pay tribute; how they mustered up the courage to get up and speak in front of all those people; how his best friends were able to push themselves to reflect on their favorite moments with Pat; about how he had so deeply touched their lives.

Almost even more amazed at how human emotions can be so tangible. No verbal communication; no exact understanding of what was going on-- and yet Niall somehow knew that something was different with me. He knew that I needed a hug, so he ran up and gave one to me without any initiation on my part. He saw the way my body language had changed, so he perked up his eyebrows with concern and confusion.

He didn't sleep well, skipping naps and staying up past his bedtime. He went from giddy excitement to sheer horror at the site of a bath. Something he loved so much his whole life has been totally compromised by the shift in emotional atmosphere.

I really believe that there is a special connection between all of us that doesn't involve any particular language or knowledge; just the beauty that we are all human. That we all need love and we all come from love. It's a pretty amazing thing.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Life Cut Short

There are so many questions that have been running through my mind the last few days. Why did this happen? How did this happen? How is everyone supposed to move on?

And deep down, I know that none of those questions will likely ever be answered. Not that it would matter anyway. It simply is what it is. Answers aren't going to change anything.

My friend from high school died Monday morning at age 27. To try to describe him in any way, shape or form would be a complete wash. He can't be explained as "the funniest person you've ever met" because everyone says that about their friend; it wouldn't do him any justice-- and I guarantee you, Pat was funnier.

You can't just say he was "friends with everyone" because-- again, everyone says that. And seriously, this kid was friends with EVERYONE he's ever met. Nobody disliked Pat... except for the random strangers who were sometimes the butt of his dirty tricks.

And did this guy have tricks. Things you couldn't come up with in your wildest dreams. Pat and I were voted the class clowns of our high school. But he deserved it light years more than I did. The guy could make you cry and quiver from laughing so hard.

His laugh itself was too much to handle. It literally sounded like a machine gun of some kind. Completely ridiculous and infectious. I wish I had it on video to look back on.

But I am lucky enough to have the mark of Pat Hurd etched permanently on my face...

The last day of high school, we had to gather all of our belongings from our locker. Well, some of us decided to take a guitar class that year, so I was hauling a huge acoustic 6 string to my car.

As Pat and I were walking out into the parking lot, he decided to have some fun...

He grabbed my guitar from me and acted like he was going to smash our other friend's car with it--- except in the act, he clocked me in the side of the face, right next to my eye.

Profuse bleeding like a fire hose out of the side of my head. Followed by Pat trying to stop the bleeding with a balled up undershirt. Followed by a trip to the hospital. Followed by Pat sneaking out of the hospital room and treating himself to some vending machine hamburgers. Followed by me having a black eye and bright purple stitches for my graduation.  Followed by a permanent scar.

Lots of great memories. What a shame there won't be any more.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Mommy Confessions

So it's January.  So Christmas day came and went almost a month ago, and Thanksgiving almost two.  I get it.  I just don't see why I have to waste all these perfect little outfits just to correspond with Hallmark's greeting card schedule.

And for that very reason, I decided to make Niall continue wearing his festive holiday garb until it doesn't fit him any more.  I simply refuse to throw an outfit into one of those basement tubs until it's been worn at least 5 times.  Yes, it's slightly compulsive, I know...

Exhibit A: "Team Santa" with reindeer on it

Let's be honest- who knows if the next kid will be in that exact size for his or her first Christmas, for goodness sake??  I can't just risk an outfit being worn once and then forever retired.  It's wayyy too upsetting for me.

Exhibit B:  "I'm thankful" Thanksgiving shirt

 Exhibit C: "Elf in Training" shirt

It works great for hanging out around the house.  Who cares if he's wearing a Santa shirt with red velvet pants?  But I guess it doesn't work so great when you leave the house and take the kid's coat off in public.  I kinda forget about things being socially acceptable.

And on a side note, you should also probably know that I make him wear his shirts that are too small for him as pajama tops.   I like to think of it as being creative ;)

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Friday, January 14, 2011

From the Mouths of Babes

I used to get pretty annoyed with people thinking I was a girl.  I mean, come on-- my favorite outfit is a pair of cargo pants with a skull and crossbone t-shirt.  But I've decided to put all that behind me.

Today, my girlish features finally paid off.  I went out to lunch with mommy and Aunt Caitlin, where they tried to stuff my gullet with ucky beans and healthy pumpkin muffins.  But suddenly, out of nowhere, my amazing looks saved me.

This nice old man couldn't help but stop and comment on how cute I was.  So cute, he claimed, that it was hard to believe this beautiful face was the mug of a boy.  And proceeded to send an ice cream sundae with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and 2 cherries my way!

And boy, do I like cherries...  holding them and rubbing them on my pants-- not so much eating them.  

Mommy needs to take a few food pointers from this guy.  If she likes healthy food so much, why couldn't she keep her paws off MY ice cream?  I'm trying to enjoy my cute baby prize and she has to butt in and steal half the thing.

She claims that I wouldn't have been able to eat it all myself.  What a ridiculous assumption.  If she could just step off for a second and get the spoon out of her mouth, I would have happily polished it off.  Oh well, I guess sharing is caring :)

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cougar Chaser

Well, how should I put this?... Niall seems to have a new found {hmmmm}, let's call it "affection for women."

If by affection, we mean gawking and staring-- and by women, we mean 20 year old girls in nothing but their undies.

He has suddenly become interested in a number of activities that I'm just not sure are toddler appropriate.

In fact, I think he may be headed down the dangerous path of "cougar chasing."

I went to make him a snack this morning and came back out to find this message flashing on the TV:

 Let me zoom in for you...

He's always had a knack for electronics.  He knows how to unlock the keypad on my phone better than I do, and he can miraculously turn the channel to Sesame Street with his eyes closed.

And I'm not talking about "channel up", "channel down".  It's one of those complicated remotes where you have to use the guide...

So anyway, we were out of the house most of the day, and when we returned, there was a big pile of mail.  Niall, being my little helper, immediately began sorting through the pile and was stopped dead in his tracks by this:

Not the credit card statement, not the penny saver coupons, not the Lands End Catalog... but good ol' sumptuous Vicki.  And all of her "secrets".

He was flipping through it like a 50 year old stock broker reading the Wall Street Journal.  Just as cool as a cucumber.  Like, "Can I help you with something, mommy?  I'm reading here."

Well, what can I say?  He's a lady killer.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday {Snow Baby!}

These may or may not be little girls' snow pants, but blue is blue, right?

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