Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anna's first fudgeicle

By K.J. Cardinal

Yesterday Anna enjoyed her first fudgeicle. And, enjoy is probably understating the event by a long shot.

After eating a good dinner, we set Anna up with her very own fudgeicle and sat back to enjoy the scene.

As you will see, she started off very nicely. I was actually surprised and a little disappointed that she didn't make more of a mess than she did.

But when the delicious chocolate treat was all gone, Anna was none too happy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leaves....what fun

By Tiffany George
The two kiddos as 12 Dodge have been in rare form lately. Amidst testing his limits with his sister, Andrew has still found time to be a cute little dude. One of his favorite things to do lately is rake the leaves, or shovel them for that matter! He likes for me or Pete to blow the leaves while he rakes them...and rake he does. He rakes the leaves on the ground, and is actually getting quite good at putting them in a pile now too. But leaf-raking doesn't stop there. It's really not complete unless he rakes up on the platform of his slide, and it's definitely not complete unless he carries his rake with him as he climbs to the top of the slide. You never know how many leaves could have fallen onto his slide while he was climbing up! It is so cute. We have also raked a huge pile of leaves at the bottom of his slide so that he can slide down the silde into the heap. As the photos prove, this is quite a riot. Natalie is also loving the outdoors this Fall. We have gone for quite a few walks outside and she just loves to be out there, admiring the leaves, while relaxing like the super cutie that she is. She gets herself into a coma-like state, but then always snaps out of it to give me huge smiles whenever I come around to the front of the stroller for a peek at her cuteness.
Natalie is also experimenting with food now. She finally realizes that opening her mouth is a good idea so that we can get the food into her mouth, but she doesn't always keep it in her mouth. She also has this new front to back bobbing-head action going on that makes you fear that you'll shove the spoon through the back of her throat on a big bite. She also likes to try to grab for the spoon and put it into her mouth by herself, which makes feeding her more of a challenge than we remembered from the other cutie. So far she has eaten rice cereal, oatmeal, pears, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, and avocado. Pears are definitely her favorite, with the green veggies at the other end of the spectrum, though she does eat them.

Natalie has also started drinking from a sippy cup. It just seems impossible to believe that she is old enough to be doing this, but she does. She hasn't mastered the technique yet of only sipping the quantity that she can manage to swallow, but what fun would it be if she couldn't spit it out all over her clothes and high chair tray?!

Little Miss Cutie Pants is crawling up a storm now too. She thinks she is so tricky when she crawls herself all the way over to the entry way or to the door to the kitchen hallway. She typically stays in one room so far, but she does crawl all over within that one room. She likes to do the side-sit as well, as this photo shows.
Natalie has also started to laugh in the cutest ever cough chuckle. Most often she laughs at her brother, or at some object being shaken and moved toward her face. She also gets excited if you "ignore her" and then return your attention to her!

In other George outings, we went to a Touch-A-Truck program in Portsmouth a few weeks back. I can't think of anything Andrew would like more. They had over 30 different trucks, tractors, and "things that go" for kids to climb up on, drive, honk the horn, you name it. His favorites were probably the school bus and the garbage truck. For those who are unaware, Andrew has had an obsession with garbage trucks for about a year and a half now. Last summer we would get outside bright and early on Monday mornings to catch a glimpse of the garbage truck as it made its way down Dodge Street. This year Andrew is only occasionally up and out of his crib when the g.t. comes, but if he is up we drop everything and run to the door as soon as we hear it coming. Natalie enjoyed the Touch-A-Truck too!
We also went to the Fall Festival at Butternut Farms a few weeks ago. Auntie Sheila went with us to pick some apples and to spend some time with the cuties. It was a good thing that the kids were able to come through with the cuteness, because the apples certainly did not. Even with Pete's go-go gadget arms, there were few apples to even reach. We picked every apple we laid our eyes on and ended up with maybe a dozen apples. Some were so high up that Daddy had to have Andrew fly to get them! Natalie being a little sweetheart on the hay ride.

Probably the best part of the day for Andrew was the opportunity to have his first-ever caramel apple. They had a big crock pot of caramel and you could dip your apple in. Not wanting Andrew to miss out, I foolishly dipped the whole apple in (unlike other more wise parents who only dipped in the top). Well, I wasn't anticipating that the caramel would remain in the oozy form, never to harden, nor was I anticipating Andrew holding onto the darn apple for so long.

By the time he finally finished the apple his gloves were literally dripping with caramel. Thankfully I had put little gloves on his hands to protect him from the 40 degree weather, because he absolutely hates to have gook on his hands!

Notice the dripping caramel gook!

Friday, October 17, 2008


By K.J. Cardinal

I'd be lying if I wasn't VERY concerned about the Sox chances last night as they trailed 7-0 heading into the bottom half of the seventh inning...but I was hopeful.

The Sox bats couldn't get any colder, so I was praying that they'd somehow find a way to string a few hits together and that they did. Definitely the best baseball game I've ever been to.

Nothing makes a REAL Red Sox fan happier then to see the self-proclaimed "Fenway Faithful" leave the game early, giving up on their team, only to see the Sox pull off the largest postseason comeback in an elimination game EVER. What a rewarding night.

I'd also be lying if I said I didn't feel like I personally played a key role in the Sox victory.

My buddy Scott scored two HALF PRICE tickets (that shows you the state of Red Sox Nation) in Section 30, so we were amped up to have the opportunity to go to the game...especially for only $50.

After the top half of the seventh, Scott and I ran downstairs to grab our last two beers of the night. While we were down there, the Sox rally began. We were faced with the ultimate we stay under the grandstands so we don't jinx the comeback, or do we risk it and head back out. We opted to keep karma on our side and waited until the end of the 7th to return to the action.

With many "fans" having hit the exits early, we decided to slide into a few box seats down in left field. It was awesome.

When Dan Wheeler came out to pitch for the Rays in the home-half of the sixth, we were on him...BIG TIME. We started the classic "Wheeler, Wheeler, Wheeler" chant. When I say "we started it", I mean that people all around us were looking at us and laughing, but we weren't giving up. We believed!

As the eighth inning played out, it was apparent that we were in Wheeler's head. By the time J.D. Drew launched a two-run homer deep into the right field seats, the entire park had joined us in the Wheeler chant. It was priceless.

I don't really have a voice this morning, but it was all worth it. This Game 5 brings back memories of the Sox epic Game 5 victory back in 2004 when Dave Roberts stole second to change the complexion of the series. Let's hope history repeats itself the rest of the way too. BELIEVE!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The best

By K.J. Cardinal

I don't have time for a long post, but I just had to share this voicemail message I got today with everyone because it's THE BEST. (Click here to listen)

Andrew is the best. And Tiffany is the best. What a way to make my day.

Anyway, we love you too Andrew!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sea legs

By K.J. Cardinal

This video was taken a few weeks ago and is the first visual evidence we have of Anna "walking."

As you will see, she really appears to have sea legs as she struggles to balance herself, but she's learning.

Today, she's a much better walker then that video shows. Unfortunately, it's hard to chase her around and get a good video at the same time, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mmmm, ice

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna has a new favorite treat...crushed ice.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to watch some football while also watching Anna. She wasn't necessarily into letting me enjoy the games as she started to complain as if her teeth were bothering her.

So I sat her on the couch next to me and gave her some small pieces of crushed ice. She LOVED it. The cold feeling of the ice must help soothe her gums and how cute she is while she eats it definitely soothes me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Breakfast with Anna

By K.J. Cardinal

Grab a bowl of Oat O's and sit down for a little breakfast with Anna. You'll want to come back every day...I guarantee it.

A Day of Firsts...

By Tiffany George

October 6th, 2008 was a big day for Andrew. First of all, he didn’t take a nap. I put him up in his crib around 1:15 and he may have actually dozed for 5ish minutes before Natalie woke up crying. From then until around 3:30 he just laid there, without sleeping, playing some, but mostly relaxing. When I went to get him he said “AnYou little nap”, so he knew he had not slept well.

When I went to get Andrew from his nap, I put away some laundry and he saw the stack of new Elmo underpants, nice and clean, that I put on his shelf (we went to Kohl’s on Saturday and he picked them out himself). He seemed pretty excited by the sight of them.

When we got downstairs he went pee on the potty just as he usually does when he gets up from his nap. When he was all done, I asked him if he wanted to put on a diaper or his new underpants, just as I do nearly every time he goes pee. Much to my shock, today he said underpants! I put him in those cute little Elmo underpants and he looked adorable. He thought he was very cool. He had two accidents within the next 45 minutes, so I’m not sure that he understands the concept yet, but we’ll keep working.

He typically hates whenever his clothes get wet, so I had thought that if he peed his pants he would go nuts, but he didn’t seem to mind or barely even notice the first time. The second time he did notice and he wanted to put on new Elmo underpants immediately. I think he wanted to try to get to wear all 7 pair on one day! I explained to Andrew that he didn’t want to pee on Elmo and get him all wet, and from then on he didn’t have an accident for the rest of the night.

After I put on his second pair of underpants, he kept running around the house, saying "AnYou trying fart in underpants". I have no idea if he was really trying to poop, or if this was some silly little joke that he was playing on me, either way, Daddy was proud :o)

Last night was also a tubby night, but Daddy was giving Natalie a tubby in the blow up tubby when I wanted to get Andrew's started, so I decided that tonight was the night to take the leap into the big tub for Mr. Cutie Pants. We had tried this many months back and it was clear that he was terrified, so we had dropped it.

He was equally as terrified last night, but once I made the decision, I knew I needed to follow through. He was screaming and clutching onto me as if I was about to put him in a tub of boiling water. It was probably the most scared and most upset he has ever been. It was so sad. I just kept hugging him and kissing him, saying that I understood that he was kind of scared because it was something new, but that he would like it.

I had bought some color tabs for the tubby, so he dropped one in and saw his tubby water turn blue and he seemed to start to calm down. We got some measuring cups to stir up the water and he liked that too. By this time he was actually smiling, but then the time came to get into the water. It took some serious coaxing, but once he was in and sat down, he loved it! He loved that he could move all around the tubby, and that he could really play with the toys.

He had gotten these duck suction cup “tubby stickers” as I called them, so I took them out instantly to get him into the joy of the big tubby. I told him he could put them where ever he wanted in the tubby. I also took out this big boat that Emma had given him two Christmases ago that was too big to fit in the blow up tubby. He loved it!

My last item in my bag of tricks was this wind up dolphin I had bought over the summer for his big day in the big tub. He ended up loving the tub so much that he did not want to get out. He was practically shivering because he was so chilled, but he still wanted to play. The cutest thing was that he would lay down on his belly in the tubby and sort of “swim” around. I told him to do this to help warm up and boy did he do it a lot! I am so proud of you for doing this buddy. I know that you already had a new change today with the underpants, and you didn’t even take a nap, but you still ended up being my hero! I love you so much!

After the tubby, it was time to get ready for bed. I had already decided that once we made the switch to underpants, we were not going to go back to diapers. I had bought pull ups for him to wear for naps and nighttime, so last night was his first night in a pull up. This change also went contested, but in the end, he went to bed with a smile.

We’ll see how wearing the underpants goes for the rest of the week!

Here are a few pictures from Anna's first birthday party too. It was great for the kids to get to spend some quality time with KJ & Ang and of course Sammy & Anna too. Much like Anna, Natalie was unfazed by the day's festivities, as shown below!

And here are some adorable pictures of Miss Natalie Jane testing out her new "I need to scrunch up my nose when I smile" smile!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Turning one is a piece of cake

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna made turning one-year-old yesterday seem like a piece of cake.

Never mind the nearly 20 people in the house, including a handful of little kids.

Never mind her first taste of several foods full of sugar, including cake, ice cream cake and fried dough.

Never mind turning out the lights while 20 people sing "Happy Birthday", including the "Cha, Cha, Cha" version perfected by the Malaquias clan (video below).

Regardless of all those happenings, Anna as a one-year-old continued the theme of the first 365 days of her life...unphased.

Whether going to a bar in Boston for a birthday party or recycling cans with me, Anna just has this relaxed attitude about in her in busy settings that has been a treat to experience.

Yesterday was no different as Anna was just chillin' throughout the day...her day.

Angie and I decided to go small with the birthday bash, inviting just our parents and siblings, and the intimate gathering was great so everyone could get some good QT with Anna. And perhaps more importantly, so Angie and I could get some QT with Andrew, Natalie, Ryan and JuJu too!

Anna got some pretty cool gifts to commemorate the special day too. Everything from gold hoop earrings to nifty new shoes and an awesome new car (pictured above). She also has an LL Bean snowsuit coming her way from Meme and Papa.

A special thanks to everyone for coming (sorry you couldn't make it Aunt Kate!), it was definitely a 1st birthday that we'll never forget. I'll leave you all with this wonderful "Happy Birthday" rendition, performed by the Cardinal and Malaquias families...

A pumpkin amidst pumpkins

By K.J. Cardinal

These photos are just too much.

On Saturday, Angie, Sammy, Anna and I headed to Berlin Farms, right down the street, for a little pumpkin picking for Anna's party.

Anna didn't quite know what to make of the orange fruit, but it sure made for one of the greatest photo-ops in the history of The Cardinal Blog. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Anna turns one

By K.J. Cardinal

At 5:47 p.m. today, Anna turns one year old.

(Click the play button above to view the movie)

It is completely unfathomable to me to think that 365 days ago Anna was born. She has turned our world upside-down in so many amazing ways and I really can't remember what life was like before her, but one year old already? Geez.

Over the past 12 months there have been so many amazing transitions in the world of Anna.

• Anna has gone from having to suck on my pinky finger as I fed her breast milk through a syringe to drinking out of a sippy a cup and really understanding me when I tell and gesture to her to "Tip it up. Tip it up."

• Anna has gone from having tar-like, odorless and sticky poop to having oh-my-god, how on earth can such a little kid stink so much poop.

• Anna has gone from needing to be swaddled tightly in order to fall asleep to being able to fall asleep at basketball games, restaurants, bars and parties.

• Anna has gone from exciting us by cooing and occasionally smiling to smiling so big that her eyes squint shut.

• Anna has gone from following me with her eyes when she heard my voice to laughing, smiling and bouncing up and down when I walk in the door.

As much as Anna has changed in so many ways over the past year though, she has also stayed the same. A baby grows and learns new things everyday, but what is equally amazing to me is how much Anna has stayed the same since day one.

For instance:

• Anna sleeps best when she's laying on my chest.

• Anna loves to put anything and everything she can get her hands on into her mouth.

• Anna's purple bump on her nose that she was born with is still visible when she smiles or cries.

• Anna gets pissed when she's really hungry.

• Anna LOVES Sammy.

• And, most importantly, Anna is definitely Daddy's little girl : )

So, over the last 12 months many things have changed and many things have stayed the same, which is probably somewhat predictable to all you parents out there. But, what was unpredictable to me was how much I'd love being a father.

I always knew that I wanted kids and I've always loved being around kids, but never in a million years would I think that having my own offspring would be so satisfying, rewarding and cool.

It still amazes me a little that Anna is really my baby. Not that I'm questioning the milk man or anything, but just the fact that I have a daughter and that Angie and I made her is so remarkable.

And to think that I've been a father for a year is really something special for me. Raising Anna on a daily basis has been such a treat and I feel very fortunate that we are able to have me work from home and take care of Anna.

Witnessing Anna's little idiosyncrasies each day is what I love the most. When I say idiosyncrasies, I mean things like:

• How Anna's eyes squint when she smiles really hard.

• How Anna cracks herself up when she blows bubbles in her drink.

• How Anna splashes in the tub and gets me completely soaked every time she takes a bath.

• How proud Anna is when she pushes the button on her glow worm to make him light up and play music.

• How I can listen to Anna's different cries and know what's wrong.

• How Anna carries on a conversation with you despite neither of you having any idea what the other is saying.

I could go on with these little things all day. Like Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) said in Good Will Hunting, "People call these things imperfections, but there not. Ah, that's the good stuff."

Truer words were never spoken when referring to raising a child and Anna's first year has been all "good stuff." Happy Birthday Anna. We love you to pieces.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Swinging, bubbles and pigskin

By K.J. Cardinal

Anna had a rather eventful Friday, her last Friday before she turns one!

Angie and I had a little yard work to do in preparation for Anna's birthday party on Sunday. So, we took advantage of the nice fall day and spent a good portion of the day outside with Anna.

It had been probably a month or so since Anna had last been in the hammock and when I put her in it she really loved it. She enjoyed it the most when I was swinging it high and as the picture at the right shows, it seemed like the swinging motion got her belly and took her breath away a little bit.

After playing in the hammock for so long that she nearly rocked herself to sleep, Anna was in for a new treat...bubbles.

Anna actually first experienced bubbles last week at Val and Brian's wedding, but that was indoors and with a small wedding-favor sized bottle. So, she was VERY impressed with the big bubbles that I would blow her way.

Naturally, Anna would try to catch the bubbles in the air or pick the ones that didn't pop up off the ground. She didn't quite get the whole concept by any means, but I spent a good 15 or 20 minutes blowing bubbles with her outside and she was in her glory.

Angie then took Anna for a long walk in the afternoon, while I was able to get some work done. When Sammy got home from school she told us about the Spirit Day at school for homecoming and it naturally got me thinking about going to the homecoming football game.

I threw the idea out there to the girls and they were all up for it. I was psyched because I can't remember the last high school football game I'd been to and I'd never been to one at Hudson High.

Anyway, we bundled Anna up and headed down to the high school. Anna was so into it.

Her favorite part was definitely the cheerleaders. She would just stare at them without any sort of facial expression...she was truly mesmerized. Once she actually started clapping on her own as if to join in their cheer. Aunt Tiff and Aunt Kate were both cheerleaders when they were little, so I could see Anna following in their footsteps as a young kid...but she's gotta play a sport or two as well...and NO cheering IS NOT a sport.

Anna once again proved that she can fall asleep anywhere as she fell asleep on my lap despite the noisy surroundings of the game, fans, cheerleaders and a band.

A chilly night coupled with a 28-7 Auburn halftime lead really gave the girls no incentive to stick around. So, we bailed at the half, but it was still great to get Anna out to her first-ever football game and to go to a Hudson High sporting event.

I'm probably more excited about it than Sammy, but I am actually looking forward to her high school career so it gives us an excuse to go to some games. Hudson High is really good in some sports (soccer, hockey, softball...NOT football), so I'm sure they will put up better showings than last night.

As an aside, Newsweek magazine recently ranked Hudson High School number 689 out of more than 25,000 public high schools in the country. That is good enough for 15th in the state and in the top 5% nationally. That's rather mind-boggling for a guy that went to Farmington High School, which was sadly probably in the bottom 5%.