Saturday, May 31, 2008

Corey graduates, Anna turns into Devil

By K.J. Cardinal

Earlier tonight Angie, Anna and I made the trek out to UMass for Corey's (Angie's brother) Ludlow High School graduation ceremony.

Corey and his cousin Vanessa (both pictured at right) were the big draws for the Malaquias-Dias clan, which is always quite an entourage. The ceremony was descent. Pretty short and sweet, so I liked it.

Anna is in the process of cutting her top teeth, so she's been uncharacteristically cranky at times lately. Usually only for an hour or so a day, but that's still an hour more than usually.

So naturally I was a little unsure of whether or not it would be a good idea to drive her an hour and a half to sit in the stands at a graduation ceremony, but as always she was awesome.

She handled it like a champion. Between all the clapping, hooting and hollering and even a few air horns here and there, she just inquisitively looked around, but was really unphased by it all.

I was acting as photographer following the ceremony and I managed to capture this photo of Anna with Ang, Vanessa and Lisette where it appears that Anna is turning into the Devil. I usually correct the red eye in all photos that I post on the blog, but I had to leave Anna's eyes red in this shot just to accentuate the devilish details.

Anyway, after the graduation we bolted back home so I could catch the end of the Celtics game. When we walked in the door the C's were down by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter. The minute I turned it on, they went a 19-4 run to put the game away.

The Boston Celtics are going to the NBA Finals!!! I am beyond excited about this and will probably dedicate a few more posts to my team over the next few weeks.

Well, I'm sure I'll have some great posts following this weekend's festivities as tomorrow is Andrew's second birthday! Should be fun.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Cardinal Vault XVI: Lovebirds

By K.J. Cardinal

The 16th entry into the Cardinal Vault commemorates my parent's 27th wedding anniversary, which is today. Happy Anniversary!

Pictured below, the two lovebirds are nuzzling at what I believe is Grand View Camping Area in Rochester, N.H. My Meme and Grandpa (my mom's parents) camped at Grand View during my childhood and since that's their camper, I can only surmise it's there.

In unrelated news, when I was in high school I got banned for life from Grand View...becoming the third family member to get the heave-ho for life. My Uncle Doug and cousin Jeff also got the boot at one time...but I digress.

My absolute favorite thing about this photo has to be my Dad's shorts. I believe the correct term for those, which is also a Kimism, is "nuthuggers." I am also digging the white on white by Kim the elder...what a pimp.

Seriously though, Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad. You guys are the best parents, friends and grandparents that I could ever ask for. Thanks for being you!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Anna eats (uncut)

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna continues her development...most noticeably in the eating department.

With her two bottom teeth growing like weeds, she is now able to eat real cereal. She really loves the Oat O's that we got her. Take a look at the two-minute uncut video below to get a glimpse at her eating habits, her clapping ability and just her general cuteness. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Andrew turns 2

By Tiffany George

The cutest kid in the Universe turned 2 years old today. It's hard for me to think about him being two without getting teary-eyed. It seems like just yesterday he was into eating Little People and afraid of walking on grass. These past two years have been extraordinary for Pete and I, and today was no exception.

While I would have liked to have provided an hour-by-hour, blow-by-blow account of the day much as KJ did with the NCAA tourney, you'll have to settle for the highlights.

As you may know, Andrew absolutely loves stars, an obsession that started one day when Grammy taught him this incredible shape. Since then, he has an eagle-eye for spotting stars, whether it's on the Macy's sign at the mall or on the Tivo Now Playing list. I felt that it was fitting to make today all about our little star, so I made him star-shaped pancakes for breakfast and star-shaped grilled cheese for lunch. I am about to embark on a piece of star-shaped meatloaf for dinner...stay tuned for how that goes! As you can see, the little cutie enjoyed his sandwich!!

Today was all about Andrew, so we spent most of the day hanging out. Daddy gets to work from home today and he put in a bunch of hours yesterday, so he got to spend Andrew's waking hours with us too! Andrew's first present of the day was his bike, which he loves. The cutest story of the day was when I was trying to teach him how to ride the bike. He puts his feet on the pedals just fine, but isn't quite sure how and when to push his feet. I was using my hand to push on his right foot, then his left, saying "push with this foot, now this foot" etc. He surely understood what I was doing, as he bent down to push his feet with his own hand too. It was adorable.

In addition to the bike, we got him a collapsible orange cone. He is obsessed with touching the cones around the construction sites when we go for walks, so this was a big hit. Though the cone came collapsed, he figured out how to expand it all on his own.

He hasn't yet opened all of his presents from us as we figured we'd save some for post-nap fun. He did get to play with his Craftsman toolbench too, which will provide endless hours of entertainment.

The cutie is waking from his nearly 4 hour nap, so I must run.

Meme & Papa we hope that after your VERY long day of work today that this blog brings a smile to your faces! See you tomorrow.

Memorable Memorial Day weekend

By K.J. Cardinal

Another week, another great weekend.

On Wednesday afternoon, I left to go to Atlantic City for the 2008 NEC Baseball Championship with Adam and Norm. Other than getting a camera stolen, we had a great time down in AC.

We produced PackCasts for seven games and did several things that we had never done before. All in all a good week, but the drive home on Saturday night seemed to take forever as I didn't get home until around 1 a.m.

I got to sleep in a little on Sunday morning and then we were off to Ludlow to celebrate JuJu's third birthday. Lisa & Ray threw the party at their house and it was a lot of fun. Lots of kids, sun and beer, so it's a no-brainer of a good time in my book.

With such a busy winter and spring for Pack Network, I can't even remember the last time I was able to make it out to Ludlow to see everyone. All is well, but the biggest difference was how big Kassie's getting.

As you can see above, Kassie really loves "Baby Anna." She reminds me of Andrew so much with her because she's really gentle and sweet and loves to rub her hands. She's so great.

The Atlantic City trip, coupled with a day of drinking beers in the sun, definitely took its toll on me. The picture to the left is from the second nap of the day that I took with Anna...this one around the fire pit.

Yesterday morning we woke up and headed to the Ludlow Memorial Day Parade. It's somewhat of a Malaquias rite of passage and I can't believe that I have never been to it before. I guess that's because for Memorial Day I'm always at some college baseball tournament and never able to make it back in time.

Anyway, it was a momentus day for Anna as it was her first parade. She loved being outdoors, but didn't offer up much reaction to anything that passed by...dancers, marching band, ATVs, a really loud cannon, etc.

After the parade we made our way back to Angie's parent's house for a BBQ. We blew up Anna's small inflatable pool for Anna to play in with Kassie and JuJu.

The water from the hose must have been too cold for Anna because she wasn't too into it, which is unlikely because she loves the water. So, we just took her out and set her on the grass and she had a good old time just picking at the blades of grass and watching JuJu and Kassie have a blast in the water.

We got home late yesterday afternoon and I still feel tired from last week's trip to AC. Working 18 hour days and only getting three hours of sleep a night for four straight days was rough.

A VERY busy winter and spring should make way for a more enjoyable summer, which in turn should mean more blogging. So, hopefully these once a week posts will turn into three or four a week...gotta keep Meme happy :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fun at 12 Dodge

By Tiffany George

Both of my cuties are taking a nap, so I thought I would take this opportunity to catch up on the blog.

Natalie turned 5 weeks old on Sunday and we really can't understand where the time has gone. She is growing like a weed and is already somewhere over 12 pounds. Her vision has greatly improved, which I think has brought her much more happiness. She had her best day this morning when we went to a play date for Andrew. She was awake, alert, and happily looking around for well over an hour. Previously she would only remain happy for maybe 5-10 minutes without fussing. This new turn of events is quite fun. She enjoys looking at her little lion hanging from her car seat, or at any other brightly colored object dangled near her face.

She is starting to smile more now and likes to smile at Mommy's voice or at Daddy when he comes home from work. She also started to make those sweet little baby coos that melt my heart. Each sound is so short, but oh so adorable.

She seems the most content when she has a sponge bath or when she just hangs out on her changing table without her diaper on. She also enjoys riding in the car which is a pleasant surprise after surviving a tumultuous year and a half with Andrew screaming in the car.

Andrew still absolutely adores his baby sister. He still loves to kiss her constantly. Every time she cries he says "sad, sad" and runs over to give her a kiss to try to make her better. Since he can't reach her in the van, he continually blows kisses in her direction. In addition to kisses, he also loves to give her gentle rubbies on her body, and he just started holding her hand. It is absolutely precious.

On Sunday we went to Elf's Greenhouse to look for some shrubs for the front of the house. We picked this place because we knew we could walk around the gardens, something Andrew would enjoy. We were thrilled to discover that they also have chickens, roosters, ducks, and alpacas to admire. We parked Andrew in the stroller near the chickens while we embarked on the "boring" task of selecting plants. He loved it, as you can see in the photos.

Here is Andrew waving to the chickens.

And here he is just smiling away at his feathered friends.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What a weekend

By K.J. Cardinal

Wow, I need a nap.

Angie, Anna and I had one of the best weekends in recent memory. Pack Network has had such a busy spring championship season that I haven't had much free time on the weekends to hang out with the girls.

Well, this past weekend I only had to work on Sunday morning, so that left Saturday for the three of us to venture into the city. It was a beautiful day and the city was hopping with college graduations, a Sox doubleheader and the Celts on Sunday.

We started off the day by waiting in line to get tickets for Sunday's Game 7 between the Celtics and Cavs. I could write a 4,000-word post on this experience in itself and how poorly the Garden ticket office handled the whole ordeal, which some of you may have seen on the news, but I won't digress there. Bottomline is we only had to wait in line for an hour and a half to score two tickets in Loge 17. Needless to say, I was fired up to score some seats for one of the biggest games in recent memory...I'll have more on this later.

After we avoided a near riot getting the tickets, we headed to Faneuil Hall. Due to an Intel power outage on Saturday morning, Angie had a little work to do, so we got a table outside at the Salty Dog and settled in for a while.

Anna really loved just sitting in the shade and people watching. She was in such a great mood, sitting in her stroller smiling at one point when we walked past a homeless man he called her "Smiley"...I can't make this stuff up.

The Salty Dog was great. Someday when Adam and I sell Pack Network for millions of dollars, I am going to eat oysters everyday...that and wear a brand new pair of socks everyday too. There's nothing quite like putting on a brand new pair of socks, is there?

Anyway, after The Salty Dog we walked around a little more and eventually made our way to Tia's on the Waterfront for a little dessert. Ang and I split a piece of cheesecake and Anna got her first taste of strawberries.

At first she had a bitter-beer-face when she touched her tongue, but she apparently loved them because she cried for a second when she dropped one on the ground. It was pretty funny.

Tia's is a great place and might be a late addition to the TBG Pub Crawl schedule.

After Tia's we just walked around the waterfront area. Anna was donning a new hat, which was super cute and she seemed to love the boats and water.

We stopped for a while and hung out by this new public water fountain right near the aquarium. This is part of the benefits of the "Big Dig"...there is now some room to create nice public areas. I'm not sure if it's worth the $25 gazillion that it cost to "complete" the Big Dig, but it's still a nice touch.

It was probably in the mid-70s and there were a handful of kiddies that were running through it and what not. I can't wait to have Anna run through it next summer, but this summer I've gotta get Andrew there!

The final stop of the day in the city was my favorite part as well. I had to get Anna's picture taken with the Red Auerbach statue and Larry Bird's bronzed sneakers.

It was a fitting follow-up to my recent entry into the Cardinal Vault. Plus, with Game 7 on the horizon, it was the only logical thing to do to cap off a great day...and of course, Anna was wearing her sweet Celtics coat too!

As you can see, Anna was rather mezmerized by Red. And, she can't quite fit into Bird's shoes just yet, but once she's up and running around I'll show her a few moves to get her closer to Larry Legend's caliber.

I obviously think that Anna's trip to visit Red and Larry's sneaks had a direct effect on the outcome of Sunday's Celtics game too. And boy, what a game it was.

Scott and I went to the game together and had a blast. I know it's hard to believe, since I'm such a diehard Celtics fan, but Sunday marked the first C's game of the season that I attended. I have been to a Celts game every year since 1985, so I HAD to keep that streak alive...especially considering the C's are making a serious run at the title.

The game was one for the ages. Pierce and Lebron did their best Bird and 'Nique impressions and thankfully Paul got the best of the 23-year-old phenom. I don't recall the last game that I went to when I was deathly afraid of what a player could do to the C's more than how frightened I was by Lebron.

If before the game you told me Lebron would score 45 points, then I would've figured the Cavs would've won easily. Thank God for The Truth...and of course P.J. Brown.

Postgame, Scott and I met up with Glenn, Cassani, Chad, Frank and Fusta. Needless to say, we celebrated with way to many adult beverages at The Harp. What a weekend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Anna recycles

By K.J. Cardinal

Today Anna took her first step...toward being an environmentally conscious person.

With a 30-gallon garbage bag full of empty beer cans and bottles, Anna and I ventured to the "recycle center" (read: liquor store) today to do our civic duty and recycle.

I was a little concerned how Anna would handle the weird smell and loud noises that come from the machines that crush the cans and smash the bottles, but as always she seemed to be rather unphased. Actually, I would go as far to say that she rather enjoyed it.

She appeared to be amazed by the fact that the cans would just disappear. When I'd put one in the machine she'd stare at it for a second and then look at me, to ask "What happened to the can?"

I'm pretty sure that Anna had this reaction for all 132 cans and bottles that I recycled. It was pretty funny.

As I left the store, I couldn't help but think how much my Papa would get a kick out of seeing Anna's reaction to the recycling. Afterall, Papa was the king of recycling.

He really used his Yankee ingenuity to come up with quite a few innovative ways to recycle cans. Throughout my childhood I can recall him crushing cans with sledge hammers, presses and even a contraption he made to go with his wood splitter. He was really a pioneer.

Anna has a long way to go to reach Papa's level. And, in order for her to do that, I better keep on drinking. So, I'm up for the challenge...consider it my way of giving back to the environment.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Life with Natalie Jane

By Tiffany George

At last, I have a few free moments to elaborate on our lives with two kiddos. Where to begin? Let's see...labor! I went into labor on Saturday night around 7pm. We called Grammy around 10ish to come stay at the house with Andrew when I went to the hospital. We ended up leaving the house at 2am and got to the hospital at approximately 2:04am :o) My contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and the discomfort seemed comparable to when I went to the hospital for Andrew, though my water had not yet broken as it had for him. When I got to the hospital I was surprised and a bit disappointed to learn that upon initial "inspection" I was only 3-4cm, not the 8 that I had been with Andrew. Despite the seemingly slow start, everything progressed quickly from there, as Natalie graced us with her presence just after 6am. After my initial inspections, no one came to check me out again until I was already 8-9cm. I didn't expect to progress so quickly and was thrilled when they told me to let them know when I was ready to push. After a few warm-up pushes I probably only pushed through about 6-10 contractions and then Natalie was born.
Everyone, including the nurses, were shocked that she was 9lbs. The 22 inches didn't surprise me, as I knew that something large had been kicking me all of those months!!!

The doctor held her up right when she came out so I got to see that we were blessed with a girl. While we would have certainly been happy with another boy, we must admit that we feel quite lucky to get one of each. Natalie's sweet little face, her big eyes, her cute mouth were all overwhelming when we first met her. Everything with Natalie seems so much easier than it did with Andrew...the benefits of being a mom again. The cries don't seem to worry me as much, the nursing came so much easier, and we had a lot less questions!

After Natalie was born and Andrew finally finished eating his breakfast, he came over to visit. I had taken him to the hospital on two occasions for a "tour" to show him where Mommy and the baby would be, and it seemed to have worked. He was happy coming and going despite his previous fear of the elevator. He wanted to kiss his sister right off the bat, and loves to give her gentle rubbies on her legs, arms, hands, etc (as you can see in the photos below). He also loves to play with her feet and he thinks she is playing along when she pulls her feet up away from him, though in reality she is trying to escape! He loves to play with her toes and say this rhyme "icky pee, penny roo..." to name each toe. This is a little song that Pete's Nana did with him and we have done with Andrew. Andrew is just as happy to see Natalie every day as the first day that he saw her. We are so blessed that he has welcomed her into our home with open arms (and open mouth kisses) without even the slightest amount of jealousy.

As for the other cutie, she is adjusting quite well now. The days of quiet nursing and actually napping whenever she wants were luxuries that only Andrew will be afforded. Natalie doesn't mind when Andrew kisses her ears and plays with her feet, even if she'd rather be nursing! Despite my concerns about giving each child the individual attention that they deserve, I see that things will turn out just fine. Andrew's life seems happier with a little sister to admire, and clearly Natalie will be amused by Andrew...we all are!

For the first 24 hours when my milk came in, Natalie projectile vomited each time she fed. This was a lot of liquid gold coming up the wrong way! The vomiting has seemed to have subsided now, coming only once every few days, so have no worries! The doctors have no fear at all because our little turkey is putting on weight just fine. At her two week check-up they wanted her to be back to her 9lb birth weight and she was already over 10lbs. Like I said, my milk is liquid gold!

Natalie has clearly inherited some traits from me. As Auntie Donna can attest, I was quite the projectile vomiter myself! And Natalie was also tongue-tied. I had my cord cut when I was around 5 and my memories of the experience are not fond. For this reason, we had her cord cut when she was just over a week old. She didn't even react to the cut, and it only bled a single tiny drop, with no pain. Mommy certainly cried more than she did! So far I can tell that she will have a dimple in her left cheek just like Daddy, and she certainly inherited gas from him too!

Natalie seemed to have quite a bit of gas at the beginning which caused her to fuss, but that seems to be improving now that she is learning to burp better. Andrew rarely cried at all, so this has taken some getting used too, though I must admit the feeling of satisfaction when I am able to calm her down is phenomenal. Watching her sweet little mouth as her cry weakens and she drifts off into a peaceful sleep is priceless.

Basically Pete and I are just relishing this time with Natalie, as we expect this to be our last baby. Every cute little sound she makes, every gassy smile that crosses her lips, and every loud poop that escapes her body are all cherished. Babies grow up so fast and we just want to live in the moment and enjoy each day.

Enjoy these photos!

The Cardinal Vault XV: Red & a Hulkamaniac

By K.J. Cardinal

The Cardinal Vault returns for its 15th installment with these two photos that take us back to the Spring of 1988.

Below, I am pictured at the Red Auerbach statue located near Faneuil Hall in Boston.

Being the godfather of the Boston Celtics, getting my picture taken with Red was really something special for me. I also think that it actually helped spark my love affair with the city of Boston.

My favorite part of this photo actually has nothing to do with the Celtics, but rather the headband around my neck. That is nothing other than a "Hulkamania" headband.

I remember vividly that we were in the city for the weekend for a big WWF event, so I had to don the colors of one of my childhood heroes, Hulk Hogan. Seriously when I was eight years old my heroes were Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, Roger Clemens and Hulk Hogan...not necessarily in that order, but probably par for the course of most eight-year-olds living in New England.

As a special gift to all that read my blog, below is a free ticket to the gun show.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Anna reaches seven-month mark

By K.J. Cardinal

Seven months. Wow, how time is flying in the life of Anna.

The little one continues to amaze us every day. Her personality keeps on developing and developing and she keeps on growing and growing.

Anna has developed quite a laugh that is very contagious and we actually caught its debut on camera.

When we were up at Steele Hill, I wanted to do a "photo shoot" of Anna. So, I stripped her down to her diaper, put up a white bed sheet behind her and propped her up on white pillows.

Sammy then came in to help me get Anna's attention. Boy oh boy did Sammy do a great job. As you can see, Anna was cracking up! It was hands down one of the top five moments in my life. Seriously. Anna was laughing so hard and being so cute it was just so awesome.

Anyway, seven months into Anna's life and we're still having a blast with her. She has been THE BEST baby in all areas and we are so lucky to have her. Happy 7/12ths of a birthday Anna!