Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Photos: 2007

Angie's Blog Favorites of 2007

By Angela Rose Cardinal

I have to thank my awesome husband for creating and maintaining this blog. I know Andrew and Anna will appreciate how cool it is to have their early years chronicled for them like this. I know my family used to get so excited to set up the old 8mm reels and projector and watch my brother ride the spring horse until its tail bumped the floor. That gear was so difficult to set up that we only did it once in a blue moon. Now, these two peanuts will be able to pull up these memories easier than we adults can pay a bill online.

Also, our families really appreciate being able to see Anna grow like a weed these first few months. Whether it's reducing the shock value to my sister and parents of how fast she grows in 2 weeks or keeping my Uncle Ze and his family in N.C. close or sending my best friend,"Auntie" Missy, off to Australia & New Zealand for 3 months knowing she won't miss a milestone of Anna's while she's gone...this blog is the saving grace for all of us.

Without futher delay, here are my Blog Favorites of 2007:
Favorite Post: Forgettable Friday
Favorite Video: Sunshine
Favorite Photo: A sleeping beauty
Favorite Comment: Darlene's comment on "Faces of Anna"

"Forgettable Friday" is easily the funniest post on the blog this year. This one especially impresses me with K.J.'s writing skills. I'm jealous of that. Not to copy K.J. but "Sunshine" is a fantastic piece of work. I must have watched it 50 times and still get a dorky, giddy smile on my face the whole time. An honorable mention goes to "Lassie" for the obvious reason that Andrew is super cute in it, but I enjoy the fanstic video editing by K.J. and it really captures how much Kim, Darlene, Katie and Sammy soak up Andrew's joy.

"A sleeping beauty" is such a peaceful photo of Anna. I'm partial to pictures of babies sleeping, too. When she's dreaming I can't help but wonder what in the world she could be dreaming about. Finally, Darlene's comment to "Faces of Anna" is my favorite because it taught me how to spell the word patootie. You never know when you're going to need to put that word in text in a crunch :)

As you may have guessed, I think I have the best husband in the world and I love him very much.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Best of The Cardinal Blog: 2007

By K.J. Cardinal

With the New Year on the horizon I figured it would be a good time to recap the good and the bad of The Cardinal Blog for the 2007 year. Based on the response that I have received and the amount of fun that I had, the 2007 blog year was a great success all around.

Here are some numbers I put together to show the "Best of the Cardinal Blog: 2007".

The Top-5 Most Viewed Videos of 2007
1. Counting Crows - Insignificant (9,506 views)
2. Counting Crows - Washington Square (5,628)
3. Sounds of Anna (197)
4. Anna Begins (186)
5. Lassie (179)

The Counting Crows videos that I took at the concert were a HUGE hit on, as combined they've been viewed over 15,000 times. While "Sounds of Anna" and "Anna Begins" are the top two videos featuring a Cardinal, I wouldn't be surprised if "Lassie" soon surpasses those two as Andrew can't get enough of the video of Papa playing his favorite song.

The Cardinal Blog's Most Commented Posts of 2007
1. Forgettable Friday (4 comments)
2. Anna goes to New Hampshire (4)
3. Welcome home Anna (4)
4. Our neighbors, the Griswolds (3)
5. Andrews reaction to Anna (3)

It's good to know that Forgettable Friday was the most commented post of 2007...people obviously get a kick out of my misfortunes as a father. Thanks a lot :) If there has to be a "bad" in this "Best of" post, I would think it has to be the number of comments. If it wasn't for my mom and Gail George, then most of these posts wouldn't have any comments. Come on comments! That's the best part about a blog. It's an easy way for you to read what I have to say, view photos and videos and give me some feedback and get some talk going with me and others.

The Cardinal Blog's Most Frequently Used Labels
1. K.J. (33)
2. Anna (27)
3. Angie (16)
4. Hudson (9)
5. Sammy (7)

Since I put my name, "K.J.", as a label on all of the blog posts I write, it's obviously the most frequent label. Anna's the source of most of my material, so she's naturally #2. I'm hoping that for 2008 Tiffany, Angie and Katie will do more posting (please).

Looking back on 2007
I never really thought that I'd enjoy blogging as much as I do. It's a great way for me to keep everyone more-than-informed on what's going on in my life or, more importantly, Anna's life. And, it's a great way to chronicle Anna's childhood. It's going to be so cool to look back at this blog in a few years not only to see old photos and videos, but also to see exactly how I was feeling and what we were doing at different points along the way.

My personal blog favorites of 2007
Favorite Post: Anna Begins
Favorite Video: Sunshine
Favorite Photo: Faces of Anna
Favorite Comment: Mom's comment on "Anna turns two months, lives the life"

"Anna Begins" isn't the best piece of writing on the blog, but it's my favorite for 2007 because of what it represents. I know it's too early to tell, but "Sunshine" could be end up being my favorite video of all time of Anna...she's just so cute. The "Faces of Anna" graphic isn't one photo, but I just love all of her different faces in that, so I had to put that as my favorite photo. My mom's comment is just evidence again why I am doing this blog in the first family is THE BEST!

Looking ahead at 2008
In 2007, I like to think that I inspired Angie's friend Aunt Missy to start a blog of her own. For 2008, my goal is to spread the blogging bug to more and more people. So, if anyone's interested in getting their own blog up and running, let me know. I'd be more than happy to help you get your feet wet.

Also, I'm really psyched about the upcoming feature, "The Cardinal Vault," that will debut on January 1, 2008. The Cardinal Vault will feature a vintage photo, document or (eventually) video of a Cardinal family member. I have a few in the queue, so stay tuned for those once the new year rolls around.

Lastly, I'd like to thank my family for everything. Not only do they inspire me to do this blog, but they really inspire me to do everything that I do. You guys are all so amazing and I don't know what I'd do without each and everyone of you. Happy New Year!

Please feel free to comment on your favorite Cardinal Blog moments from 2007 by clicking on the comments link below.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Meme's new best friend

By K.J. Cardinal

The last night of our Christmas visit to Farmington yielded one of the best Anna moments to date. Angie, Sammy, Anna, Meme, Papa, Aunt Kate and I were all hanging out in the living room, getting ready for bed. I just blew up the air mattress for us to sleep on and put Anna on it.

Right away I could tell that Anna was in a really good mood and that she liked lying on the air mattress, but she was even more talkative and laughable with Meme than we've ever seen her before, which made all of our days.

It may be too early to tell, but Anna could quickly become Meme's new best friend, just like how Andrew and Papa are best buds. Regardless of how that turns out, one thing's for sure...Andrew and Anna have the best grandparents around.

For a larger look at the video, check out the video on The Cardinal Channel.

Christmas 2007

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna's first Christmas didn't disappoint, that's for sure. Her "holiday" really spanned from the 22nd to the 27th and she got to enjoy several parties, lots of family and tons of cool presents along the way.

On Saturday, we had the Cardinal side of my family down to our house in Hudson for a holiday get together. It was the first time nearly all of them had made their way down to visit us at our "new" house and the first time some of them met Anna so it was a momentous occasion on several fronts. Anyway, the party was a blast. We had TONS of food, lots of kids and countless laughs.

Getting together with the Cardinal side of my family is definitely one of my favorite things to do each and every year and I was glad that Anna got to experience her first one in the comfort of her own home. I'd really like to thank Ethan (and Billy & Kathy) for missing his hockey game on Saturday night so they could come down for the party. I was so psyched they came and got to stay late because it's not that often that we get together and it's always great when we do.

For that shindig, Meme, Papa, Auntie Tiff, Uncle Pete, Andrew, Aunt Kate, Auntie Sheila, Auntie Carol, Uncle Bill, Billy, Kathy, Samantha, Ethan, Kaeleigh (pictured w/ Anna above), Missy, Pat, Marissa, Jackson, Vicky and Emma were all here. When you throw in Angie, Anna and I, that made for 23 people...what a party!

On Sunday, Angie, Anna and I headed out to Ludlow to spend a few days with the Malaquias clan. We stayed at Angie's sister's house that night and it was great to hang out with Lisa, Ray, Ryan and JuJu. For those of you who haven't met JuJu, she has to be the cutest little girl I've ever seen. And, I'm so lucky that she likes me. After sleeping over on Sunday night, she woke up on Monday morning and the first thing she said was "Where's K.J.?" She's the best.

Anyway, on Monday (Christmas Eve) I went and took Angie's nephew Jaden sledding. We attempted to go to one hill, which was all ice, so we eventually ended up at the Ludlow Country Club. It was a lot of fun. Jaden's really turning into a great kid. He's super polite, funny and fearless on a sled. We had a blast.

Angie's family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve, so their big gathering was on Monday night. We usually wait until midnight to open presents, but her family was kind enough to agree to break from tradition slightly so Angie, Anna and I could get back home to Hudson at a reasonable hour.

Like usual, Vo Nezzie made tons of food for everyone to eat and we had lots of fun. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one unfortunate event of the evening. Everyone was getting ready to open presents and all the kids were sitting in the living room when all of the sudden, Jaden proceeds to projectile vomit all over the living room. He cleaned out the couch and the area rug. It wasn't necessarily funny, but once he was OK we all shared a good laugh.

We headed back to our house around midnight and got to take our time waking up on Christmas morning. Anna had a good night's sleep and we got up in the morning when Sammy's Dad dropped her off at our house. We all opened our gifts and then we got the best Christmas gift of all.

I was upstairs changing Anna when she proceeded to go into a giggling fit. It was so hilarious. I was able to call for Angie and Sammy and they came in to witness it too. Definitely the highlight of the day for us.

Once Anna stopped laughing, we headed up to Farmington to visit my family. It was great to have Sammy along for the trip up to N.H. She only comes up to Farmington every other year for the holiday, so it's always great when it's "our turn" to have her for Christmas.

I was really excited to give my parents their gifts. Pack Network got my parents a video iPod for all their help, Angie and I got them a sweet remote controlled dock for it and I also got my dad a membership at Farmington Country Club. Needless to say they loved everything.

As we've come to expect, Andrew was ridiculously cute when he showed up with Tiffany and Pete. He loved the Red Sox Mr. Potato head and the toy tractor (just like Papa's) that we got him, but his favorite toy was definitely the tent that my parents got him and the toy guitar that my dad got him. We had so much fun.

I got a bunch of great gifts too, but I really want to thank Katie for her gifts, they were definitely my favorite. Both gifts really came from a Counting Crows and Live concert we went to over the summer. The first was a guitar pick from David Immergluck (the Counting Crows lead guitarist) that Katie caught at the concert. She put it in a cool shadow box and fixed up an apparatus so it looks like it's floating in there. Her other gift was this picture frame that has pictures of me and Anna and it says "I don't need no one to tell me about heaven, I look at my daughter and I believe." It's the lyrics from Live's song Heaven. Both gifts Kater made and she definitely put a lot of time and thought into both. Thanks so much!

We stayed over three nights and last night Anna had another one of her giggle fits...this time for Meme. It was so cute. I have some great footage of it that I'll post soon, but this is by far the longest post that I've made, so I'll check out for now.

Be sure to check back soon for that video along with a new feature that I'll be launching on the blog soon called "The Cardinal Vault."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Tooth brushing" highlights nightly routine

By K.J. Cardinal

Like clockwork, every night around 9 p.m. Angie and I have a personal hygiene routine that we put Anna through.

It begins by Dad changing Anna's diaper and getting her undressed for her "tubby", while Mom draws the water for the bath and lays out all the necessary equipment (wash cloths, towel, pajamas, etc.).

We then give Anna a bath, which she definitely enjoys as long as she doesn't kick and splash around so much that she gets water in her eyes or up her nose. Water up the nose is we experienced last night.

After the bathing ritual, we then dry her off, get her changed into her PJ's and brush her hair...which seems rather meaningless since it just stands straight up on her head no matter what we do. But, her absolute favorite part of the whole routine has to be when we "brush" her teeth.

I know what you're thinking and no, Anna doesn't have any teeth yet [insert toothless Farmington joke here], but there is this so-called tooth brush (see below) that I guess you're supposed to use on babies to get them accustomed to the odd feeling that a tooth brush introduces.

Anyway, Anna absolutely loves this thing. She chews and sucks on the blue end of the toothbrush while I slowly twist it in her mouth. During this whole process she's smiling from ear to ear and making some rather interesting noises. It's apparent that it's her favorite part of her nightly ritual and ours too.

Note: I'll try to get some video footage of this in the near future so you can see for yourselves. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Suds, Snow, and the Soiree

By K.J. Cardinal

Despite the second snow storm of the week, the 2nd Annual Hudson Holiday Soiree was still held on Saturday and boy was it a joyous event. The number of guests in attendance was reduced greatly by the storm, but that meant more food and booze for the rest of us, which was great.

I won't give you all a complete recap of the whole evening because as the night progressed I progressively made more and more of an ass out of myself (see photos below). Seriously. I'm not sure if it was bad in a good way or good in a bad way. Either way though it was a memorable night by all and we were psyched that a good number of our closest friends still bared the elements for us.

It was Anna's first real party at home and obviously her first Soiree too and she appeared to love it, which is great because Ang and I love to entertain. Angie does the cooking and I do the drinking...really a great situation for all.

Thanks so much for all of you that made it out, you made the Soiree a huge success again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Anna's first Christmas tree

By K.J. Cardinal

Keeping with the Cardinal family tradition that my parents started, Angie, Sammy, Anna and I went and got our Christmas tree on Papa's birthday.

We purchased our tree at a place in town that has them pre-cut, so it's not quite the same as cutting down a tree in the backyard that Papa had actually planted himself, but regardless it's a family tradition that I will continue for the rest of my life.

The tree we got is pretty good-sized (as you can see in the photo behind the girls). If you've been to our house, then you're probably wondering "where on earth are you going to put that in your house?" Well, we're not actually putting it in our house. We've put it on our back deck, right outside the sliding-glass doors.

I know this isn't the traditional thing to do with a Christmas tree, but with all the new baby-gear downstairs and two upcoming holiday gatherings at our house, it was really the only thing we could do. And, now having seen the tree on the back deck, I think that we could be doing this for many years to come.

You get the effect of the lights and the Christmas spirit without having to:
- pick needles out of your socks for two weeks
- find tinsel all over the house
- worry about watering the tree every day
- reconfigure the layout of a room in your house to accommodate the tree

Really, it's quite brilliant. Hopefully someday we'll have a house big enough to put a big tree in the livingroom to put all the presents under, but for now we'll stick with what's important and that's remembering Papa on this day and officially beginning the Christmas season. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Anna learns to laugh, avoids camera

By K.J. Cardinal

Well, I wanted to have a video of Anna's little laugh to post along with this entry, but she's been avoiding the camera lately. She will be super cute, talkative and smiley...and then I put the camera in front of her and she puts her best poker face on. What's wrong with that kid...doesn't she know she has a cyber life to lead. Geez.

Anyway, I guess I spoiled the surprise, but Anna is beginning to learn how to laugh. She only does it a handful of times a day, usually when Dad's acting like a jackass to get a rise out of her, but nonetheless she has started to laugh. And, as you would expect, it's adorable.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Angie's friends Aunt Missy and Jamie should be credited for Anna's first laugh. They were over that day and they were tag-team tickling Anna while she sat in her high chair. Anna was all smiles and then let out a little giggle that stopped everyone in their tracks and prompted all of us to laugh hysterically. Anna then frowned a little by sticking out her bottom lip as I think our uproariousness (is that even a word) startled her, which made us laugh even harder. Anyway, it was a great moment.

Anna is also further discovering her voice, which is usually the loudest while she's eating her hands. In the last week or so I really feel like she's developed more than any other seven-day stretch. She is getting a lot stronger all around, sucking down her bottles like they're filled with Bud Light, sleeping nearly seven hours a night and is very responsive...especially to me, which I love.

With the holiday season right around the corner we're all really excited for Anna to meet the few members of our families that she has yet to meet. Hopefully she'll laugh for you, just don't show her your camera.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Anna turns two months, lives the life

By K.J. Cardinal

I'm sure that for every month for the rest of Anna's life I could start off these "birthday" posts with "wow, I can't believe Anna turned [fill in the blank]" and that would always describe how I'm feeling at the time. The time really flies when you're watching a child grow up in front of your very eyes.

Through the first 62 days of her life, Anna has changed a lot in many ways and has stayed the same in many ways. She is getting bigger, eating more, sleeping more and getting more active. But, she still loves her "tubby time", doesn't like wearing hats and gets mesmerized by the television. She's predictable at times and unpredictable at times...which is probably expected since she's a Portuguese woman in the making :)

Anna's really living it up though lately as she's been quite a "world" traveler. In the past month she's seen her first snow, been to her first sporting event, experienced her first Thanksgiving and been out to lunch/dinner at Legal Seafood, Ruby Tuesdays, Fugakyu, Texas Roadhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, the mall food court and Conrad's...regardless of where we eat, her Enfamil always tastes the same though?!

So as you can see, we've done our best to work ourselves into Anna's life and her into our lives...and we don't want it any other way. In the next month she'll experience her first Christmas and all the craziness that accompanies it...stay tuned, it should be great.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Husky is born

By K.J. Cardinal

She doesn't know it yet, but today was a big day for Anna.
She attended her first of MANY Northeastern sporting events, a men's basketball game versus James Madison at Matthews Arena.

The Huskies came up just short, losing 68-65, but I still began planting the seed of (hopefully) raising a future Husky. I know the thought of sending my eight-week old daughter off to college is a little premature, but I just really hope she ends up being a fan of Northeastern athletics.

For those of you who don't know, Northeastern athletics is an underfunded, underdog program that always has to over achieve greatly in order to be successful. I think those traits are really part of the reason why I love NU athletics so much...and part of the reason why I hope Anna does as well. I also think that the "tale" of Husky athletics can help teach a kid great lessons...hard work and perseverance can pay off.

Since I was accepted into Northeastern's journalism program nearly 10 years ago (god, I'm getting old), the academics at NU have kicked it up a notch. If I was a senior in high school right now, I'd have a hard time getting into Northeastern...seriously, it's that much tougher. I'm not saying it's Ivy-League caliber, but NU's now in the top 100 academically and getting better every year.

So, if Anna happened to want to go to NU and was fortunate enough to get accepted in 17 years then she would be a second generation Husky, which would be awesome. Either way, hopefully today a future Husky (fan or alum) was born. Now I just have to figure out how on earth I'm going to let my baby live in Boston...YIKES!