Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two years and she has yet to change the locks

By K.J. Cardinal

What an accomplishment. Today marks the 2nd anniversary of our wedding and Angie has yet to change the locks on me.

Don't get me wrong when I say this, but it seems like we've been married for a lot longer than two years and that we've been together a lot longer than five years.

When I say this, I don't mean it in a "my life is horrible" or "what the hell am I doing" way. I just really have a hard time remembering what life was like before Angie.

We have blended our family and friends and personal and professional lives so greatly that it's nearly impossible to fathom our existence without each other.

Like my parents, Angie and I (and the girls too) do everything together. We are good at taking turns and taking time to do stuff with our friends, which helps keep us somehow in the "we're married with kids, but still not complete losers" category. So it's been great and, to be honest, married life isn't much different than how our lives were when we were dating or engaged.

We're not big on celebrating birthdays, holidays or anniversaries as much as we are big on living in the day and appreciating what we have. So, I guess today is rather an arbitrary day for us that just happens to mark the two-year anniversary of the best party we've ever thrown...I mean the two-year anniversary of our wedding.

It's great to recognize that two years ago today Angie was somehow suckered into marrying me, but that probably struggles to make the top-five most significant days of our relationship list.

• On July 11, 2003, we met.
• At about 3 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, July 15, 2003, I saw Angie for the second time overall (and the first time sober) and I knew without my beer goggles on that I loved that chick.
• On Thursday, July 17, 2003, I made that daring trip to Montreal for a surprise visit to Angie while she was on a business trip.
• On (approximately) Friday, January 5, 2007, I knocked Angie up :)
• And, on October 5, 2007 we did the best thing of all and had Anna.

As you can see, our wedding itself was a big event, but probably doesn't mean as much to us as most of those days above. The bottom line though is that we couldn't be happier with how things have progressed in the two years that we've been married and we feel like the luckiest people in the world everyday.

Don't think this is a tongue-in-cheek Happy Anniversary post, but rather a recognition of how great our lives have been together to date if we can say that our wedding day might not make the top-five most significant days of our relationship list.

So, Happy Anniversary Ang. I love you and thanks for not changing the locks...yet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Angie goes to Ireland, Blog goes to hell

By K.J. Cardinal

Last Sunday Intel came calling for Angie to go to Ireland for a week-long business trip and The Cardinal Blog took a nose dive.

Ang left on Sunday morning for Maynooth, Ireland to meet her counterparts from around the world. This meant that Sammy, Anna and I were left back in the States to fend for ourselves.

Everything went well on all accounts...except for the blog, which unfortunately took a backseat to diaper duty, house work, chef duties and more.

Sammy and I kept things afloat in Hudson, but we all missed "Mom" lots and Mom definitely missed us...particularly that little girl that garners so much attention on this blog. So, throughout the week Ang and I would talk on the phone and chat online, but the highlight for Angie was when we would set up a video feed for her to log on to see her baby.

Pack Network put all of its powers that be to work to provide a live streaming video & audio feed of Anna. She would come live to Ireland from our kitchen table. Just a simple set up really, but it was good for Ang to be able to get visual proof that Sammy and I hadn't burnt the house down or anything yet.

Anyway, that's my excuse for the long hiatus between blog posts. Angie returned on Saturday night and it's taken me a few days to get caught up on work to give me some free time to add a new post.

So, we're back and in action. Sorry for the delay!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Cardinal Vault XVII: K.J., Matt & Employee #8

By K.J. Cardinal

It's only fitting for the 17th entry into the Cardinal Vault to be Celtics related. So, this entry takes us back to the Spring of 1997.

Pictured below, Matt and I are with none other than Employee #8 himself Antoine Walker.

As juniors in high school, Matt and I traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the Close Up program, a nonprofit that exists to educate and inspire young people to participate in our democracy.

So we were moseying around the nation's capital going from one meeting to another when we came across a chartered bus that had a small sign on the windshield that said "Inside the NBA."

We saw that the bus had people aboard, so we decided to wait to see who was about to come off the bus. The first person to step off the bus was none other than "Coach" Willie Maye. At the time he was a courtside reporter for Fox Sports Net and the Celtics, so I was immediately fired up.

Then a handful of kids came off the bus followed by none other than Toine. My insane, psychotic, staulkerish love affair with Antoine had already begun as he was wrapping up his rookie season for the C's...so needless to say I was giddy as a school girl.

We approached Toine (Matt recalls that I was throwing kids out of the way to get up-close with him) and chatted it up for a few minutes. He was pretty cool and was rather skeptical of my fanaticism until I pulled a Celtics ticket out of my wallet to prove that my family had season tickets.

Anyway, we had Willie Maye snap this picture and it's definitely one of my all-time favorites. I look like a tool with those sunglasses on, but I was 17 and thought I was cool. Also, yes, my polo shirt has a zipper instead of buttons...WTF was I doing?

I appreciate that Toine is showing that he isn't any bigger than us as he was wearing a name tag too. Something tells me that after his rookie season he wouldn't be caught dead with a name tag on, regardless of the scenario.

Apparently "Coach" and Toine were taking Boston inner-city kids with perfect attendance on a trip to D.C. So that's why he was there...not sure why he had to have the name tag, but he did.

The next entry into The Cardinal Vault will feature another encounter with a member of the original Big Three that is definitely vintage and priceless.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Anna's new tricks

By K.J. Cardinal

I know, I know. Anna isn't a dog, but everyday now she's learning new things to do with her voice, mouth and tongue, so I am going to refer to those acts as "tricks."

For instance, on Wednesday, without encouragement from anyone, she just up and started doing this trick...

Then, yesterday while I was trying to get her repeat the trick from Wednesday she pulled off a different trick...

And now this morning she was playing with Sammy, she did yet a new trick again...

So as you can see, Anna really is learning new tricks and it's so much fun everyday seeing what she'll do next.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Nine months, never cuter

By K.J. Cardinal

The Banana turned nine months on Saturday and I swear she's just gotta be the cutest little girl I've ever seen.

I'm obviously biased, but one look at the photo above, an all-time favorite that was taken yesterday, and you'll probably agree with my assessment. You might look at the photo and originally think that I snapped the pic when she was blinking, but you'd be wrong. Actually, when Anna smiles as hard as she can, her chubby cheeks force her eyes to close. It's so priceless.

Also, as you can see, Anna has cut four teeth...two big ones on the bottom and two on the top. The cool part about her teeth coming in is that as more teeth come in the more foods she can eat. So, as early as this past weekend she was devouring peas, steak, noodles, chicken, carrots and different breads.

Anna's doctor was very pleased with her development at her nine-month check-up yesterday morning. Anna weighed in at 20 pounds, 3 ounces and is 28 1/4 inches tall. Both of those numbers put her in the 75th percentile for height and weight. She was also 80th percentile in head circumference (45 cm). I'm not exactly sure why they measure head circumference, but apparently it's significant on some level.

Anyway, it's amazing that Anna's already three quarters of a year old. It's definitely more of a task to watch her on a daily basis as she is now VERY mobile, but it's also VERY rewarding because I can really see her develop on a daily basis.

Whether it's writing HTML code to make a website or painting the walls in my house, my entire life I've enjoyed doing things where I can actually see progress being made. So, raising a child on a daily basis is really the ultimate progression.

I remember how excited I would get when Anna did little things like smile or roll over, but now she's actually doing things that are pretty significant (crawling, sitting up on her own, feeding herself), so it's really been taken to the next level.

Seeing Andrew develop over the past two weeks has me psyched for Anna to be two-years-old too because the milestones are even more significant...and soooo much fun. But, I'm definitely not in a rush for Anna to turn two, because I'm just enjoying witnessing all of the little things on a daily basis that are turning Anna into a big girl.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Milestones aplenty over the long holiday weekend

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna accomplished many new and exciting things while celebrating America's independence for the first time over the long holiday weekend.

On Thursday evening, Angie, Anna and I headed north to Farmington. The trip alone was the first milestone for Anna as we switched her car seat to forward facing.

Prior to having Anna, I didn't have the slightest idea of what the difference was between the direction a car seat faced (forward facing vs. rear facing). But in a nutshell, when a child is less than 20 pounds they're rear facing and greater than 20 pounds is forward facing (*Please note: This isn't a steadfast rule, so don't take my word here as gospel. It's just a pretty accurate rule of thumb for my idiot kidless friends that read this blog.)

Anyway, having Anna forward facing is really such a treat because as we're driving it's a riot to just watch her. She loves to look out the window and watch the cars go by.

Once we got to Farmington, we spent the night up at Meme & Papa's house before taking off on Friday morning for Anna's first camping trip. We headed about 25 minutes southwest to Crown Point Campground in Strafford.

We were a little unsure how Anna would react to sleeping in a tent, but we figured we'd give it a shot since she rarely seems phased by any of the situations that we throw at her. And, much to our delight she loved to camp.

We clamped her little high-chair right to the picnic table and she was happy as could be. Actually, she slept so well in the tent that she woke up over an hour later than she normally does at home. The fact that Meme and Papa visited us at the campground on Friday night probably helped tucker her out a little bit, but she still slept like an angel.

On Saturday morning, we broke down camp in Strafford and headed to York, Maine for a party. My buddy Mike was throwing a party with his fiancee Sarah at her parents house and we were going to tent there too. But first, we had to stop by Short Sands in York so Anna could dip her toes in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

She didn't seem to care too much for the chilly water, but she was definitely intrigued by the mud that collected on her feet. She also got quite the kick out of walking around and people watching as the beach was mobbed.

After the beach we headed to the party at the McAbee's. It was a rather small party, but we had such a blast. The McAbee's house was decked out with an inground pool, volleyball, bocce, croquet and a make-shift three-hole golf course that Cassani mowed out himself. Probably the best time I've had at a Fourth of July party in quite sometime.

Saturday also marked Anna's nine-month birthday. She actually had her nine-month doctor's check-up this morning and I'll post about that tomorrow.

Anyway, on Sunday we headed back to Farmington for another night at my parent's house. Papa actually held Anna's hands as she took six steps. She is crawling for real now, but I feel like she could just up and walk any minute.

Tiff and Pete had us all over on Sunday for dinner, so we got to see Andrew and Natalie too. "Nat Nat" continues to get cuter by the day and Andrew is so freakin' awesome. It's amazing how much he is learning and growing as he seems to be even bigger and smarter than he was while we were at Perkins Pond.

Above are his new favorite jammies. They're too big for him, so as you can see, Pete has to hike his pants up (Steve Urkel-style) for them to fit. The best is how Andrew struts around in them like he's so proud to show them off.

So, it was quite a holiday weekend for us as we got to see family and friends and celebrate many milestones with Anna, which seems to be a daily occurrence these days.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Loving Life

By Tiffany George

Pete and I have been having an absolute blast with our cute little kiddos lately. Natalie is the smiliest baby ever and Andrew couldn't adore her more.

Natalie has gotten through her fussy stage and is now loving life. She is growing like a weed and is already in 6-9 month clothes. She will pretty much always give Mommy nice big smiles whenever she is spoken to. Andrew was always a happy, content baby, but getting smiles from him was more of a challenge. Natalie gives the sweetest big open-mouthed smiles that just melt your heart. She is also discovering her voice and Grammy swears that she is trying to say "hi Grammy".

Nowadays Natalie loves to hang out on the floor with her diaper off, airing out on these hot days, much as Andrew used to. She also likes to look at books, toys, and of course Andrew. She always wants to face out so that she can see the world when she is being carried. She loves to put her fingers in her mouth and suck on them too! She also spends a lot of time admiring her fists...who knows, maybe she'll be a boxer.

As far as milestones go, Natalie rolled from her back to her belly for the first time when we first got to Perkin's Pond. She was only 2 months 9 days old!!! What a strong little girl. She prefers to roll up on her side and hang out, but she is getting better with being content on her belly too. Her neck muscles have gotten much stronger and she can lift her head up quite well now.

Once the little Nat Nat started rolling we had to move her into her crib to sleep. This was sad, as the days of sleeping in our bedroom in the bassinet are now a thing of the past. She seems to like her crib just fine, and she slept the whole night through for the first time on July 3rd. She nursed and went to bed around 9:30pm and didn't even wake up until 8:30am. Geesh!

Andrew is doing wonderful too. He has learned to speak in 2 to 3 and sometimes 4-word phrases which is too adorable. His absolute favorite phrase is "snack please". This kid honestly must have a hollow leg because he is always hungry. He understands that he must say please to get something, but he doesn't quite get the concept that just because he says please it doesn't mean he'll always get it. His favorite snack right now is rice cakes, mini mint chocolate rice cakes...what could be better?

Andrew's favorite number has always been two. If you asked him how many of something he wanted, he'd always answer "2". Now, he understands that sometimes he wants more than two of something. If he is going to have some cookies, for instance, I'll ask him "how many do you want?" His first response is always "two moree", but as he thinks better of it he'll start cheering "yot more yot more" meaning a LOT more. It is pricelessly cute.

He is quite the smarty pants too. He loves to come up in the driver's seat of the van to drive the car, which we let him do if we need to pull over so that I can nurse Natalie. On a long trip to Nashua the other day Andrew kept saying "drive car, An drive car". I explained to him that he gets to drive when I feed Natalie, not every time we are in the car. Sure enough, on the way home, and again the next day, when we were driving down the road, he started to say "feed Nat feed Nat". Upon initial consideration, you may think that he was being a kind brother (which is ALWAYS IS). However, at this point Natalie was SLEEPING, not hungry in the least. He just knew that I needed to feed Nat in order him to get to drive. What a complex thought process for a two-year old. Too cute!

You may notice the lack of Andrew pictures in this post. It certainly is not that he isn't just as adorable as ever, it's that he doesn't want his picture taken lately. Whenever he sees the lens pointed in his direction he says "no nat no nat" because he wants us to take her picture instead...so we do!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Starting a tradition

By K.J. Cardinal

I'm not necessarily trying to pat myself on the back for finding the place on Perkins Pond that we vacationed at last week, but it was definitely a great idea. In fact, we all loved the place so much that after about four hours there we were all declaring that we wanted to make that vacation an annual event.

And who could really blame us?

I mean, the place had tons of amenities and when you come away from the week with photos like the one to the left, it's gotta be a no-brainer.

So, it looks like we've started a family tradition that we'll hopefully be able to continue every year.

Before I come down completely from the Perkins Pond cloud that I'm on, I would be upset if I didn't mention the final full day (Friday) that we enjoyed on the pond...which is probably my favorite day of the week.

I really loved the day we had when Matt and Bauer came to visit us, but Katie came on Friday and it definitely capped off the week with a big bang.

Katie and her friend Mike showed up in the early afternoon and the mood in the house just seem to change a little bit. For those of you who know Katie, know that her bubbly, fun personality is so contagious.

We enjoyed just hanging out for a while, playing ping pong, pool and a number of other games. While we were doing that, Andrew jumped in the canoe with Tiff and Pete for a canoe ride. He got a little scared at one point, but overall did pretty good.

We capped the night off by a few hard core sessions of Beirut. Katie and Mike kicked everyone's butts, but it was awesome that my parents even got in on the action.

My dad and I closed the night out around 2:30 a.m. I'm not sure it was a great idea to be up so late when we had to be out of the house by 10 a.m. the next morning, but it was definitely well worth it.

Thanks so much Mom and Dad for the best Christmas gift I've ever got. The week that we all spent together was such a blast and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. What a great tradition.