Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leo's first road trip

By K.J. Cardinal

The insanity that is our lives these days yielded Leo's first road trip last week and without a doubt he proved to be an unbelievably portable baby.

Over the course of six days, we traveled over 1400 miles, visited four states and stayed in four different hotels... and the little guy didn't miss a beat the entire time.

We left Hudson on Friday morning for Rochester, N.Y. A friend of mine, Jeremy Friel, was getting married on Saturday and I was the wedding videographer. Having to stop every three hours or so to feed Leo, we ended up being rather pressed for time for me to make the rehearsal. Thankfully we made it with a few minutes to spare.

The rehearsal was straight forward and didn't take too long, and then we were off to find a little local flavor for dinner. We ended up stumbling across this cool spot right on Lake Ontario, The Pelican's Nest. Anna was in such an awesome mood that she really stole the show at the entire restaurant.

At 9 p.m. a local cover band was set to play, so near the end of dinner they started their sound check. Anna was so into it. All she wanted to do was cover her ears with both hands and stand there and stare at the band. It reminded me of how she is with fireworks... you're not sure if she likes it, but then once they'd stop, she'd beg for more. It was hilarious.

Saturday was pretty much all about the wedding for me, while Angie took the kiddos to the pool at our second hotel of the trip. The wedding was great and it was fun to get to spend time with the entire Friel clan... New Hampshire's finest.

On Sunday morning, we woke up and had breakfast in the hotel with the other wedding guests. After a great breakfast, we hit the road without a plan. Those of you who know Angie and I, know that we often have the most fun when we don't have a plan... kind of like on our honeymoon when we ended up staying a night in the guest bedroom at a winemaker's house in the middle of his family vineyard in Sonoma... but I digress. Well, this wasn't quite that good, but it was still a blast.

First up, we were cruising on the highway, about to blow through Buffalo, N.Y., when I said, to Angie, "Google 'the birthplace of buffalo wings' and see what restaurant comes up." Sure enough, the first result was the Anchor Bar... so off we went.

This place was a combination of dive bar and hole in the wall... definitely right up our alley. We obviously ordered wings, which were very good... nothing earth-shattering about the wings, but tasty.

After lunch, it was back on the road again, with our destination this time being Erie, Pa. While we were at lunch, I was searching for things to do in the area and found out that the Erie County (N.Y.) Fair was ending that night.

So, Angie threw Leo in her little baby sling, we woke Anna up from her nap and put her in the stroller and off to the fair we went. Angie was once again a super good girl and was all excited to try out some of the awesome fair rides.

We quickly realized that Anna is probably at the worst age for these fair rides... too short for the rides she wants to go on and too big for the baby rides. Once she laid her eyes on the Super Slide though, that's what she wanted to do. Luckily for us, the attendant of the ride didn't bother checking Anna's height, so we snuck in and up the stairs we went.

Anna was a jabberjaws the whole way up the stairs and was visible ecstatic to go down the slide. We sat next to each other and down we went. We were about half way down, when Anna's momentum got the best of her and she banged her head on the slide pretty hard... Angie got this picture which is actually kind of funny (knowing that Anna is OK) because this is the exact moment when she fell back and smacked her head.

I knew that Anna was more scared than hurt, but she was actually pretty shooken up by the whole incident. So, I diverted her attention by pointing out the huge bouncy house obstacle course ride they had. This seemed like a good idea, but nearly turned into a huge disaster for her.

To make a long story short, she couldn't make it through the obstacle course, so the ride attendant (donning a sick mullet) helped her out of the bouncy house just a minute into going through the five minute course. Anna didn't realize that she missed out on nearly the entire ride and was eager to get in line for another ride, when over her shoulder, I saw the bouncy house attendant hollering for help because the bouncy house lost its air and was collapsing down on kids.

Thank God Anna got off that ride before that happened because she definitely would've been trapped in there. And, while she probably wouldn't have been hurt, she may have been scarred for life by fair rides after her Super Slide incident too.

Anyway, we capped our day at the fair by checking out the Stunt Dogs show. This was BY FAR Anna's favorite thing of the day... I know, shocking it was better than the near concussion or entrapment of the fair rides. But, this was actually really cool.

These dogs were  up on this small stage... probably 30' x 30'... and doing all sorts of tricks. The final trick of the show was a contest between two of the dogs to see who could jump higher. Amazingly, one of the dogs cleared 62"... I was floored to see this and as you can see, Anna was too...

We left the fair around 10 p.m. and headed to Erie. The second half of the trip wasn't nearly as good as the first half.

In a word, Erie, Pennsylvania is depressing. We checked out Presque Isle State Park, which had potential, but it was rainy and windy, so we couldn't take advantage of the dozen or so beaches and ponds. We drove around for two hours trying to find a good spot to eat and ended up settling on a chain restaurant across the street from our hotel. Pretty sad.

On Tuesday, we got up and headed to Moon Township, Pa. for a training session I had scheduled at Robert Morris University. We were able to squeeze in a lunch at this cool cafe in Sewickley and hit up an old-school candy store for Anna.

We capped off the trip by driving til about midnight and crashing at a hotel just outside of Scranton.

As you can see, there was a lot going on and the trip was a blast. Angie proved once again why I married her as she was such a trooper with the kids while I had to work and agreeing to the crazy road trip in the first place. I wasn't looking forward to being away from my family for six days straight, so we turned that potential negative into a huge positive and had a blast.

I can't believe that the new athletic season is here already. The summer went by like a blur, but at least we got to cap it off with a solid road trip.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Best Friends Are We, My Sister and Me

By Katie Lou Cardinal

I know this blog was set up to talk about the adorable little kiddos of the Cardinal family, but I just had to post because I'm SO EXCITED for Sunday. No folks, I'm not spending the day with Keith Urban, but with the amazing, beautiful, intelligent.....TIFFANY GEORGE! On Sunday I got a call from Tiffany asking if I was doing anything this coming Sunday. Fortunately, Sunday is my day off from ALL jobs, so Tiffany and I are spending a day together...AT FOXWOODS! You may ask yourself, could this get any better?!?! YES...We are going to CIRQUE DREAMS JUNGLE FANTASY!!! The plan is to leave New Hampshire at some point on Sunday morning, travel down to the Foxwoods area where we will check into our hotel and take the shuttle to Foxwoods to *hopefully* win some mula and drink our faces off (...well, I will at least). At 7pm we will attend the awesome new Cirque show (that I've been wanting to see for years) and have a wonderful night with just the two of us. I know to a lot of people this seems like just a fun little trip for two sisters, but really it's so much more. Obviously I love my nieces and nephews SO much, but it's always so much fun to just spend time with your sibling. I'm so excited and so grateful that Tiffany asked me to join her on this awesome adventure. I can't wait! LOVE YOU SISTER!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Cardinal Blog turns three

By K.J. Cardinal

It's hard to believe, but three years ago today, The Cardinal Blog was born.

What started off as a way of keeping my mother up-to-date on all things related to her soon-to-be granddaughter has really evolved into one of the greatest creations of my life... second only to my children, of course... which without whom would make this blog rather boring.

Over the course of three years, I've blogged about pretty much everything from being a work-at-home dad to watching my favorite team capture an NBA title. And, it continually amazes me how many people are paying attention.

Not a week goes by when I don't run into someone that is mentioning the blog. When I decided to do a running diary of Angie's induction day for the birth of Leo, the blog had nearly 1,000 hits for the big event. I'm not sure if I should be flattered or frightened.

Either way, the blog is clearly here to stay. And, even though my posts are more sporadic these days with an increased work-load, I'm proud that I've managed to get up nearly 400 posts over three years.

The two motivating factors that drive me to do the blog are my mom and my children. My mother is so appreciative of the time I put in, that it makes it all worth it. And, my kids someday will look back at the blog and think one of two things... "I'm so lucky my dad stuck with this blog to chronicle my life" or, "Wow, my dad's a total nerd." A combination of the two is probably most likely.

Anyway, thanks for reading and continue to enjoy the show.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Child labor

By K.J. Cardinal

Just over six weeks old and Leo's primed to be the next Pack Network employee... thanks to this awesome onesie that Norm got the little guy.

One thing I can promise, he's going to be an awfully cute nerd... Leo... not Norm.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Leo meets the Lords

By K.J. Cardinal

Yesterday Leo got to meet one of my all-time favorite families... the Lords. Bill, Kathy, Ethan and Kaeleigh were in the area for a hockey equipment sale and we parlayed that into a day of hanging out at our house.

We had a blast as it was really a love-fest all around.

Ethan took to Leo, kind of like how I took to Ethan when he was a little kid. The age difference is about the same, so it's a good comparison. On several occasions Ethan tried to talk Bill and Kathy into having another little one, but I don't think he'll have much luck there :)

It was so great to hang out with Bill and to get to see him with Leo. The males in our family all have a great way with kids where they gravitate to kids and vice versa... so we were all in our glory.

Not only did Leo and Bill get some good time together, but by the end of the night, Anna was sitting on Bill's lap and gave him a big kiss when they left. No disrespect to Bill though, but he wasn't Anna's favorite on the day... that title, without question, goes to Kaeleigh.

Anna shadowed Kaeleigh all day and the two became fast friends. Most girls Kaeleigh's age would probably be annoyed by having such a relentless shadow, but not Kaeleigh...  she seemed to love it.

Anyway, Angie and I had such a great time too. Those of you who know them can attest that Bill and Kathy are two of the easiest going, fun people to hang out with. With a collective six kids between our families, life is so busy, but we are hopeful that we can make a conscious effort to hang out more often... with the love-fest that goes on, it just seems like the right thing to do.

Thanks so much for coming down, guys. Hopefully we'll see you all (and Sam) soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Leo's first ballgame

By K.J. Cardinal

Despite being only 40 days old, we took Leo to his first ever baseball game tonight as the Worcester Tornadoes hosted the New Jersey Jackals.

Our swaddled little bundle of joy was as perfect as could be. For most of the night, Angie had him cocooned to her body in this Moby contraption and he was as snug as a bug in a rug.

Seriously, he loves that thing. But then again, what man wouldn't love one of those things... being pressed against a woman's chest with nowhere to go... but I digress.

He will obviously have no recollection of the game, but it's just already evident that with our second child we are letting our guard down a little. I mean, we didn't take Anna to her first baseball game until last year, when she was just over a year-and-a-half.

Speaking of which, Anna absolutely LOVED the entire night. She actually paid attention to the game for the first few innings, which was rather shocking. After that, it was all about the Tornadoes' mascot, Twister.

We bought her this little Twister doll right when we got to the park and her infatuation began. Once she saw the real mascot on the field prior to the game, she had to know where he was at all times.

What was comical though, was when I took her to go up to him to say "hi". She wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with him. She was clinging to my leg (which NEVER happens) and said, "Daddy, hold me." Even with me holding her, she didn't want to say "hi", give him a high five or nothing. I guess she prefers to stalk mascots, not have a real relationship with them.

Well, after the game, they had their Friday fireworks and it was once again a great showing. Like always, Anna plugged her ears and huddled against my chest as if she didn't like them. Then, once they were over, she couldn't stop talking about them.

Right before the fireworks started, I took this picture of Anna where she seriously looks about 20 years old. Such a cutie.

Probably my favorite part of the night though came after the fireworks, when Anna lifted her head off my chest, sat up straight and said, "Thanks for taking me to the ballgame, Daddy." As if the kid doesn't have me wrapped around her little finger already.

Anyway, I swear minor league baseball is one of the greatest family-friendly events that you can do... and it's rather affordable. Anna has already asked to go to another game, so we might make this a more regular occurrence. Who knows.