Monday, December 29, 2014

You Want What Now?

  Yesterday I had the chance to visit a friend I haven't seen in ten years.  It was really exciting to see her and introduce my family to her, considering the last time we'd seen each other was when we were in our super young twenties and I was working as a camp counselors and she was one of the illustrious and very famous horse wranglers.  Oh the carefree days.      
   Rory was all smiles of course until we sat down and then found a  red-headed temper, which I'm assuming most independent toddlers who haven't started using a lot of words yet experience.  He just kept getting mad about everything and wasn't able to tell us what was wrong.  His cup wasn't good enough.  The binky wasn't working.  The puffs were okay between huge sobs.  My friend Mary and her friend Nikki were gracious through the whole ordeal.  Of course they are both teachers so they understand.  This is kind of what we dedicate our lives too, so dealing with kid drama is just an every day occurrence for us pros.  But even so, all the non-people at our table kept glancing over waiting for us to shut the kid up.  Luckily, this is one thing I really don't have a problem with at restaurants.  I just figure most people have had kids before and they can deal with a little crying to help them reminise and also mostly because Rory is so good usually and never causes a fuss.  But this communication gap has been a very big issue lately and it's hard to figure out what to do with all these temper tantrums caused by lack of communication.
   We are however very lucky for the fact that he knows a lot of visual and hand cues so he can tell us when he's hungry or when he wants more.  He's starting to learn 'please', but the one thing he couldn't tell us yesterday during our lunch at Chilies was that the milk we ordered for him tasted like watered down skim milk that has been processed through a leaky faucet in a run down slum.  I found out this little factor when I tried it and almost gagged, but let me tell you this really made him mad that he just couldn't find a way to tell us why he was so mad.  I'm praying that he will be able to start putting some words together in the next few months.  That would help a lot!  We were slightly saved by grace when the meal came and he was able to drown himself in ketchup.  Yeah.  Don't judge me,  He likes dipping things but even more than that he just likes the ketchup.  Go figure.  Food is the bridge.  Hmm a very unhealthy bridge.  Please God, let him start talking soon!  

Comic by Bitstrips

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mr. Independent

   If you know Rory, you know he's always been very independent.  At 4 months he wanted to use the spoon to feed himself even though he didn't have the motor skills to do that yet.  At 9 months he started walking all around the house.  At 10 months he always needed to hold the toothbrush.  Heaven forbid mommy or daddy doing it.  He would just scream and or bite to get that thing out of his mouth.  But you give him the brush and he will happily tap it inside his mouth and do a little jig at the same time.  Now though that he's a todd-ager, his independence has grown to a whole new level.  You can't change a diaper anymore without him getting mad.  He wants to do it himself and if he could I'd gladly let him.  Cut his food up for him?  Heck no!  He doesn't want that.  Give me the whole banana, he says in a simple and demanding "mmmp." vocalization.  A cute curly headed nod always accompanies that noise.  It's too cute not to smile, but don't smile too long because its not cute when he bursts out in a tantrum because he doesn't get to milk the cow, pour his own milk himself and then screw the lid on himself.  This toddler business is insanity.  Oh no.  I'm not saying its aggravating or obnoxious at all.  You must be misreading the tone.  I'm just saying it's really really insane.
   Today is a prime example of such.  We spent the afternoon shopping to get Christmas things half off.  (and I got a ton of really cool things for next year for my classroom.)  Rory who as I've said is a little impatient couldn't wait until we were done shopping to eat so he got his little cup of cheerios out and proceeded to grab handfuls at a time and shoved them in his mouth.  Of course as you know, half of them either fell out of his hands or stuck to his face.  I swear we are lucky we aren't in the witness protection program because anyone looking for us could have followed the trail of cheerios around Target.

 We were excited to get to Olive Garden because I was starving.  So apparently was a woman who walked out of her way, almost got hit by a car driving by and then tripped up the curb just to cross our path.  "Oh he's darling!" she says, "But I can't look at him!  He's so cute, I might just KIDNAP him!"  It was really hard to smile and nod, but then again it's not the first time someone has said something like that before. To quote my favorite Scarecrow, "Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking."

When we got seated Rory had nothing to munch on since he left all his cheerios at Target.  So of course he screamed a little bit, waved at the baby next to us, screamed a little bit more.  When the bread sticks came it was as if heaven opened up and was giving him glorious Italian seasoned manna!  That is until I started tearing the pieces apart so you know, he doesn't choke on them.

    "Mmmp," Rory complains.  Oh silly daddy.  Why would you try to break the pieces up?  I forgot he would rather just eat the whole bread stick.  And eat his salad and noodles on a plate?  No way!  Let me lick the goodness off of it instead.  It must be tastier that way.

Moral of the Story: Toddlers = Exhausting!
Needless to say, I ordered a Sangria.  #rewardyourself  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Where oh Where Did My Baby Go?

  Where in the world did this toddler come from?  I honestly don't know what's happened.  After our big summer adventure I took a small break from blogging because life literally exploded in September.
   Our very tiny church merged with a much larger one and finding my place in this new family is proving to be quite difficult.  I'm still not sure where I'm being called to serve.  Hopefully I'll get some sign soon.  Then the new school year began and The State of Florida being so wise decided that because of poor test scores (on a test that was being thrown out and a new one was being instituted) that our school needed to teach the kids an extra hour every day. But don't worry.  First graders are really good at handling three and a half hours of Reading.  I know it doesn't sound it but I've actually assimilated to the schedule but I feel so sorry for the tired first graders who don't get home until almost dark and that bit of time I lose with my own son.  As you can tell work politics have severely dragged morale down, even though this year I have one of the best behaved and cohesive groups ever in my whole teaching career.  That coupled with the fact that I've had so much parent support this year has blessed me far beyond what I can even express.  The children and parents literally have saved my sanity.
   I don't know how it happened but somehow I blinked and now it's December.  It's Christmas day in fact and my baby boy has disappeared.  He's all toddler now.  Everyone says it.  No one can believe it.  But let me tell you I have food splattered on the walls, punctured feet from stepping on Legos, ( which let me tell you is the worst pain in this world.)  and a much smaller gut from chasing that monkey all over the house.  I am telling you that it wasn't nearly this much of a workout when he was just a tiny babe.  When Rory's dunking things in the toilet, pulling whole boxes of cheerios or bags of cheese off the counters, or throwing Bella's dog food into her water dish to watch it puff up like a blowfish,  I just want to channel my Fat Amy and say with conviction, "Oh no.  Don't sign me up for Cardio."
  But like all parents before me, we summon that inner strength and go with it, because I know I'm going to blink again and he's going to be 16 and I can only pray to God that I won't be still swaddling him.  (which we are still trying to ween him off of.)
  It's been a semi-quiet Christmas with just the three of us this year.  We're used to the hustle and bustle of flights and family,  blizzards and nonstop running around.  But I can't tell you how thankful I am for this family that I've been blessed with.  I'm thankful that God sent his own son today so that mine can be free.  How can it be any better than that?


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Can I Get A Pink Eye!

How is it possible that your sweet little bright eyed boy can wake up so happy and have a great morning at church, but then after his morning nap have conjunctivitis? 

It's horrible!  I think it's killing me more than it is him.  He is still laughing and smiling but man just watching his eye water and gunk up is killing me.  There's nothing to do but wait until we can take him to the doctor tomorrow.

As if on cue, Kim quotes the scripture about not worrying about tomorrow.  Tomorrow will worry for itself.  Great advice!

I just pray he sleeps tonight and that God heals those eyes up.  I don't even want to see the green slime that may be plastered to his poor eyes in the morning. 

Almost 14 months old and we are still going through some of our firsts!  Grrr.  It's just crazy. 

Daddy loves you, you poor little goopy eyed monkey.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy Birthday Rory!

Dear Rory,

  I can't believe you did it- you turned one!  I keep asking myself how this is even possible because I can still remember this past year so vividly.  You weren't able to do much of anything except pout, make grumpy faces, and be the most amazing blessing Mommy and I have ever known.  I remember that first act of defiance on day 2 when Mama said latch on, eat and be merry.  You looked at her with those big blue eyes and said no thank you, I don't feel like conforming. 

  You can do so much now!  You walk (well you've been walking since 9 months you crazy monkey!)  all over the place!  You literally will boost yourself over me if I'm lying on the floor. You hate shoes but will carry them all around the house (so we are constantly searching for our one missing shoe).  You also have been known to step on Bella's tail and legs, but she doesn't care much because at dinner time you pay her back big time. 

You went from eating almost nothing solid to eating almost anything you can shovel into your face.  You really love bananas, yogurt, chicken, cheese, yogurt melts, puffs, and grapes!  I'd say you're a man after my own heart!  Although Mommy is very proud that you also will eat black bean burgers and eggplant without batting an eyelash. 

Another great thing about you is that you are downright hilarious!  You make the best faces and have to be the most expressive baby I've ever known!  I love the way you look at me and then break into the biggest grin. You will laugh and giggle at almost anything, slap your knees, pull food through your hair, grab a remote control and run away as fast as you can, laughing through all of it!  Your jovial personality makes everyone that meets you fall in love with you instantly!  I hope you never lose that amazing quality.  Your joy has made me a happier person!

One of my favorite things that you do is dance and sing your little heart out.   Mommy and I can tell you are worshiping the God who crafted you in his perfect image!  You will boogie all over the church and drop it like it's hot during praise and worship.  You lift those little hands to God as if you know exactly what you're supposed to do.   I'm positive you do.  We pray that you always give your praise to Him and keep Him first in your life! 

I could keep going and write about all of the little crazy things you have done and still do and how much I love each and every one of them but you're only one year old and we still have so many more years of chapters to write about.  I will end however saying that we still have to swaddle you in three blankets to get you to fall asleep.  I know!  It's insane.  Everyone thinks so.  Most of them don't say anything but I can see how they judge with a quick roll of the eye.  Honestly, I don't care if you still like being wrapped up tightly.  It's comfortable.  I get it.  It lets you know you're ready to sleep and you can calm down.  But, let's be honest- it's a pain in the butt.  You try wrapping and lifting this 20 pound sack of Rory with three different blankets.  It's kind of ridiculous.  My goal this year is to wean you off of the wraps and hopefully by the time you're 16 you'll be able to just get into your bed normally.  I can't deny though, that one of my favorite times of the day is when you are all wrapped up and we're sitting in your room in the rocking chair.  I'm singing you songs and you'll lay your head on my shoulder and start to fall asleep.  I can't describe the feeling I get when its just you and me but at the risk of sounding like a cheesy Tom Cruise movie, it completes me.   You are everything I've ever wanted and I love you so much!  Happy Birthday little man.

Three Birthdays!

New York New York

Wisconsin was a blast but eventually it was time to move on to Kim's side of the family.  So as we parted, we prayed, we laughed, Rory and Grammy Kay cried, Bella barked at a random walking by, and then we were on the road again. 

The 15 hour trip to New York seemed like a zip compared to the Florida/Wisconsin Leg.  The only real issue that I had was the horrible tolls through Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  It cost us 18 bucks alone just to pass through Ohio.  They must be making some major cash off of the summer travelers. 

Anyway, after 8 hours one day, a stay in a motel, another 7 hours on the road, we arrived in New York.  Kim's 87 year old grandfather was waiting for us on the porch. 

It was amazing to see him and hear all of his tales.  We even had a fantastic experience with pulling the car out of the super steep driveway.  He may have heatedly reminded Kim on how you are supposed to go up a driveway. 

We got to see so many aunts and uncles and cousins that just couldn't wait till August to wish Rory a happy birthday so they threw him a surprise one!

We even got to see the infamous CJ!  We spent some quality time drinking smoothies and watching Melissa McCarthy drive around with her grandma for an entire movie.  Loved it!

We really enjoy our trips to New York.  We can't wait to go again!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cabin Fever 3: The Day After July 4th!

The next morning half of the family packed up and headed back home,(the lucky ones) leaving 15 other poor souls still in the beautiful lake house.  But they weren’t alone!  Something else was in there with them, just waiting for the right time to attack.  And trust me, it did.  It really did.

Aunt Patt, our lovely and gracious host was the unfortunate first victim.

“Oh dearie me!  Oh dearie me!” she cries running from one bathroom to the next.  “This is not a good day, this is not a good day!”

“Seems like a normal day to me,” Sara says lounging on the hammock.  “We have to go swimming!  It’s so nice.”

“Good idea!” everyone says with a cheerful disposition.

It’s only halfway through breakfast when our second victim is taken out for the count.  My lovely wife, Kim half faints and halfway falls up the stairs and lands on the air mattress we had been sharing all week.

 “Are you okay?” I ask.

“I think I’m dying,” Kim says as she rushes on her hands and knees to the bathroom.  I can hear scuffling, grunting, gasping, puking, and then silence. 

“If you need anything, just call for me,” I say. 

From downstairs I heard Grammy Kay whisper/shout “YES!  She’s pregnant!”

“I’m not pregnant!” Kim shouts with a spurt of vomit.

“Oh yes you are!” Aunt Stacy says.  “I’m positive in a few weeks we’ll be getting a call saying she’s expecting!”

“Morning sickness doesn’t usually come with a side of the Runs does it?” I ask.

“Well every pregnancy is different,” Aunt Stacy says.  “I think I had the runs with Angie.”

Grammy Kay was doing a happy dance.  “I’m going to be a Grammy again!”

“THIS IS NOT PREGNANCY!” Kim shouts and locks herself in the bathroom.

Luckily Rory is as content as a cucumber bopping from relative to relative.  That is unless he sees me.  For some reason he’s in total “I NEED DADDY!” phase every time he sees me.   Even if it’s mommy who is holding him.  She hates it.  I secretly love it.  But I do need a little break every once in a while.  So I’m glad there are tons of people to help out.  Sara and Angie were especially cuddly with him.

Grammy told me to go and have fun with my cousins and she’d make sure Rory was okay.

So we swam, we fished, we drank a little bit.  What a good time.  But the evil was still lurking around and about to take its next victim.    Uncle Randy broke out into a fit of chills and started blowing his breakfast into the air like a really expensive water fountain.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Aunt Stacy screams from inside the lake house!  “This can’t be happening!  I hate germs!  This is terrible.  We should just leave!”

We all watched as Uncle Randy ran to the upstairs bathroom, while Aunt Patt was coming out of a downstairs bathroom.  Meanwhile, Kim was already in a bathroom and yelling for gingerale.

“I can do that, would you also like a depends?” I joke.

“I don’t know about her, but I might need one,” Sara, the new bride says collapsing on the couch.  “I feel disgusting!  My stomach is on fire!”

“OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!” Aunt Stacy screams, “What is happening?  It must be in the water!”

I was praying now that whatever was going on was not going to get me or Rory.  If I went down for the count, there would be no way anyone was going to be left to take care of him.

I moved my bedding to a sleepaway chair, set Rory’s pack and play right beside me, and opened the sliding glass door letting the beautiful fresh air pour over us all night.

My cousin Scott, who is a nurse and his girlfriend Nora swooped around the lake house with homemade remedies and amazing pleasantries tending to the afflicted.  It was a good thing too, because this nightmare wasn’t over yet. 

Aunt Stacy came down with the flu in the middle of the night and so did my other cousin Ryan.  To be honest, with the fresh air, the moans of discomfort, and never ending flush of the toilet, I’m surprised anyone made it through the night.  But by morning out of the 15 of us, only Scott, Nora, Grammy Kay, Angie, Rory, Joe, Matt, and myself had survived.  (Although Matt, and Angie wouldn’t make it through the rest of the day)

Joe was the first to leave.  He had to work, and Sara in no condition to go with him would have to stay and get a ride back from her parents.  It was such a beautiful moment watching the week old newlyweds saying goodbye.   Joe stood above Sara, with the top of his shirt covering his mouth like a surgical mask.

“Get out while you can!” Sara coughs, “I’m so jealous!”   She collapses in a fit of defeat.

A couple hours later we eventually took Sara’s sage advice ourselves.  Kim was the first and only one to make a complete recovery that morning and since all of us were feeling okay, it was better to make the five hour drive while we all felt well. 

“Do you guys want a depends for the road?” someone asked nonchalantly, as if this was the most natural thing in the world to ask.

“No,” I say.

“Maybe,” Grammy Kay says, always the worrier.

Disclaimer:  Due to much debate:  Rory probably was the virus carrier.  We can’t say sorry enough to everyone that came down with the flu.  Rory is giggling but not about this.  He’s just a happy baby.  Again, we are so sorry.  Love you!  Can’t wait for next 4th of July!

Comic By Bitstrips

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fourth of July!

Every July, my mom’s whole side of the family gets together at Uncle Greg and Aunt Patt’s lake house which is so far north it might as well be a pole itself.  It’s something everyone looks forward to because it’s a time to fellowship, swim, enjoy fireworks, and just relax with the family. 

We picked up Grammy Kay early since it’s about a five hour drive, and then I thanked the gas stations for inflating their prices for the holiday weekend and then we were off.  The highways were not very busy at all.  We even stopped to get some last minute items at Wal-Mart and then made our usual, more than midway, stop at Bargain Bills, which is basically a liquidator store that has everything you could ever dream of!  I have bought many a supply for my classroom here in past summers but this time I bought a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal for Rory because it was so super soft and Kim hates Pooh.  I thought it was just perfect!

As we were leaving Uncle Randy, Aunt Stacy and my cousin Ryan pull up.  (I told you, Bargain Bills is just something we do) 

“What’s up?” I say.

“Not much!!” Aunt Stacy says pushing Kim out of the way and starts kissing Rory’s cheeks.

“Psst.  Look at this!” Ryan says luring me to his trunk.  It is filled to the brim with fireworks.  We are totally going to win the war this year.”  (Oh yeah.  The war.  Every year, my cousins compete with the house across the lake to see who can shoot the most and the best fireworks off each year!  It’s silly but everyone just freaking loves it!)

“That’s amazing!” I say.

“Yeah, and I think I’m going to go get some more,” Ryan says as he heads to a firework stand. 

“You don’t need anymore,” Aunt Stacy says.

“Well if they like it, let them have fun!” Kim says.

“That’s true Kim!  You are so smart!” Aunt Stacy agrees heading up to Bargain Bills.

We drove across the street to get a couple subs for the road and to feed Rory his bottle.  As Kim opened the trunk and began shuffling through it, the present I had bought for Aunt Patt came crashing to the ground with an audible crunch.  I about had a heart attack because this felt like the worst thing that could happen.  Aunt Patt is a rooster fanatic and I had found a patriotic rooster figurine that I thought was completely amazing.  Rooster and 4th of July?  How could you do better.  (we promised to send her a new one)  About this time, Rory had just downed his bottle, then as reverse gravity works, he instantly upped it all over himself and the carseat.  Kim ran him to the bathroom as Grammy did her best to clean up the backseat. 

“What’s that about?” I ask.

“I think it’s just teething!  He sometimes pukes during that,” Kim says.

The rest of the drive was fine, except for some occasional baby grumping from the back seat.  We found a Christian station and sang to him until he stopped.

When we pulled into Aunt Patt’s the house was pretty empty because most people were either out and about or hadn’t arrived yet.  When the full party arrived there were 23 adults, 2 boys, four toddlers under two, and four dogs. 

“Oh my gosh!  It’s like that Real World Show, only we’re family,” Sara says.

“I wonder who is going to break out the alcohol first?” I say.

After a while it was time to feed Rory again.  He was yelling and bouncing and ready for yogurt.  Although after he finished it, he created some real abstract yogurt art all over the floor and then stepped in it. 

“What is going on?” I say, the constant worrier.

“He’s teething!” Grammy Kay says.

And maybe that answer would have satisfied me but when he puked again after eating some puffs I was really freaked out.  The weird thing was though, that every time after he puked he would go back to being happy little monkey man.  None of it really made sense.

While Rory was passed around I took some time to catch up with my cousins and go for a swim.  I even taught Kim how to catch a fish.  I showed her once, guided her on the second fish, let her do it on the third and then she wanted to do it a fourth time as well.  I was so proud of her tiny bluegills.

By the end of the day Rory was starving because he just couldn’t keep anything down and Kim and I were feeling pretty helpless.  I wanted to try feeding him again but all the elders said we should just put him to bed.  After an hour of screaming and semi-sleeping we just went ahead and fed him and FINALLY, he kept his food down and instantaneously fell asleep.  Thank you God! 

 The next day was 4th of July and Rory was completely ready for the fireworks!   All day he’d been letting them fly in his diaper.  I think Kim and I must have changed poopy diapers at least 8 times.  Other than that, the day was filled with more Rory cuddling, hard lemonade, swimming in the lake, and cornhole. (although everyone looked at me like I was an alien when I said the game where you toss beanbags back and forth and try to get them into the hole was actually called cornhole.  Apparently they call it bags in Wisconsin.  It’s so strange.)

Even Bella got some of the lake action.  It was so fun watching her swim in the lake, lap up the parasites in the water, pee on my sandals, and jump off the pier with Sara and Joe’s dog Cooper.  People lazed around in the party barge inflatable. (except for Angie who somehow got stuck pulling everyone else around)

The day ended with the massive collection off fireworks.  Ryan had gone back into town to get a few more, and my other cousin Todd had brought at least 1000 dollars worth of fireworks as well.  It was fantastic watching the huge explosions of color above our heads.  Rory watched for quite a while and then fell asleep against my chest.  It was a fantastic Fourth of July!  A real blowout!
Comic By Bitstrips

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dream Bank with Uncle Jared

 Have you ever gone to a Dream Bank?  Do you even know what one is?  Neither did I until Uncle Jared, and our friend Kevin showed us.  It’s a totally free creative zone that is set up in an old bank.  It’s a place where you can write your dream down on a key and place it in the vault, draw and paint pictures, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  My dream to publish my novel is now safe in the vault and it kind of inspired me to get working on it again.

Afterwards we went to a super library where we got to chill out in the kids' section with Rory and view the amazing artwork.  There were these really cool chairs that resembled bird cages and we might have had a little bit more fun in them than is socially acceptable, but I’m sure it was fine.  No one yelled at us.
Kim being the vegetarian that she is was craving Noodles and Company so we ate some beautiful flavored noodles.  Kim got some kind of spicy tomato noodle, Grammy Kay got some spicy thai noodles, Jared got some mellower sweet noodles, Kevin got a fan favorite noodle, and I got Wisconsin's mac and cheese with pulled pork! 
"These spicy Thai noodles are so good!" Grammy Kay says turning red, and downing her cherry lemonade.  "Do you want to try some Jared?"
"Sure," he says.
"We can just switch if you want?" Grammy Kay says.  "BECAUSE ITS SO GOOD!"
"I don't want to switch but you can have half of mine if you want," Jared says. 
"Sure," Grammy Kay says fanning her tongue.  "Josh do you want some?  I really want to try your macaroni and cheese... maybe half of it?"
"Are you sure you like your meal?" Kevin asks.
"It's so good!  I love spice!  I lived in Mexico for goodness sake!!!!!  I just need something a little cooler."

Later on we walked State Street for a bit, Grammy Kay used the bathroom about 15 times, (which was tricky because there weren't a lot of places to choose from.  Jared offered her a plastic bag but she just glared at him.) I won twice in cutthroat pool, and ate the butteriest cheese curds I’ve ever had!  They were A-MAZING!  It was so great to see Uncle Jared because our visits are so far and few between!  We love you Jared!  Come visit us in Florida soon!  Rory and Bella are waiting patiently.  (If they knew what patience meant.)         
Comic By Bitstrips

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sara and Joe's Wedding!

One of the coolest things we got to do while in Wisconsin was watch my beautiful cousin Sara walk down the aisle and marry Joe, the man of her dreams!  The wedding was in a pristine and beautiful catholic church.  If anyone forgot, Rory was sure to remind them every few minutes as he shouted at the stained glass windows.  And while Sara and Joe said their heartfelt vows, Rory let out the loudest burp known to man.  The photographer that was filming beside us, turned and chuckled.  Meanwhile, I looked on mortified as the bridesmaids all turned around in their pew to stare.  I was hoping they’d know it was the baby.  Lucky for Sara, she grew up in a very gassy home, with my other two cousins Angie and Ryan who took turns burping the loudest.  I guess Rory fits in just fine in the family.  I can’t imagine how well that would go over in a different family.  I hope Joe’s family doesn’t mind baby burps the size of New Jersey.

At the reception Rory was in all his glory.  He danced the night away!  I didn’t think we’d ever get him off the dance floor.  He danced with other little kids, his cousins, but Grammy Kay captured his attention the most.  Eventually he got tired and we wrapped him up in his three blankets right there in the reception hall with the dj blasting upbeat classics.  Uncle Jared held him for a while, passed him to Sara, then to Aunt Stacy, Aunt Patt, our new friend Kevin and so on.  I’ve known Rory to fall asleep in lots of places but I never expected him to sleep through Aunt Patt’s crazy zombie dance, the blaring music, Jake, a friend from college, throwing Aunt Stacy around on the dance floor, and the bride and groom doing a very risqué dance montage.   Was it fantastic?  HECK YES!  It was so amazing to get together with family and friends and officially celebrate adding Joe to the clan.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Senior Outing at Devil's Lake State Park!

My wife grew up with mountains and I grew up amongst bluffs.  So, on our visit to Wisconsin I wanted to show her what a bluff was and let’s be honest, there really is no better way to do that then hiking the world famous bluffs of Devil’s Lake.  I have many fond memories of hiking and swimming at Devil’s Lake when I was younger and I wanted to share it with my own family.  I’d informed my dad of these plans weeks before heading to Wisconsin, and every time we talked on the phone afterwards he’d throw in “You know, one thing I’d really like to do when you’re here is go to Devil’s Lake.”  After a while I started to think it was his idea.  Either way, we were off and ready for a great day.We had parked the car at the entrance to the East Bluff and were preparing the last minute things before we started the hike.  I was strapping Rory onto my back in his Ergo carrier, when Kim began fretting about not wanting to carry the whole diaper bag.

“It’s too much to carry that whole bag.  Do you think I need to bring wipes and a diaper?” 
“You’ll probably want to,” I say.  “There’s not a lot of places to change him, but it’s almost two miles just going one way. 
“I just don’t want to have to carry the bag,” Kim says.

“Here!  Put it in my pants!” Grammy Kay shouts, lifting her shirt to her waist and pulling the waistband of her extra stretchy pants open. 

“What?” Kim and I say dumbfounded. 

“These pants are super comfortable and they have lots of extra room.  I already have a roll of toilet paper in here in case nature calls!  You know nature and I have a special relationship.”

“That’s just weird,” I say, “But totally you.”
“Sure!” Kim says dropping the items into Grammy’s pants. 

“I bet you’re so glad you married into this family, aren’t you?” I say.

Meanwhile, at  Grandpa’s car:

“Do you think I need a sweater?” Grandma Jo asks.  “Do you think I need these chips?  Should I bring five or six bottles of water?  Are you going to wear that?  Do you feel okay?  What color socks does Rory have on? ”
Grandpa nods and heads towards the trail.

“I think I’ll just bring all of it!” Grandma Jo says and stuffs everything into her plastic attaché case.

As we head into the woods, Rory zens out.  He has always loved nature and the sounds and sights lull him into a trance.  His big blue eyes seem to be watching everything.  All the grandparents are smiling and full of excitement because we get to spend this time together!

Five minutes into the hike:

“Wow!  We’re really climbing,” Grammy Kay says. 
“It is pretty steep,” Kim says.  “In Florida we don’t have steps of any kind and I don’t think elevation exists there.”

Fifteen minutes into the hike:

Grandpa is huffing but leading us through the menagerie of rock.
“I need a little break,” Grandma Jo says.  She sets her attaché down.

“My knees hurt!” Grammy Kay says, sitting down beside her.  “I can’t believe how old I’m getting.  We used to hike this all the time, but it’s been at least 20 years now.  I guess I forgot how steep this was.”

“Hmmm, don’t you have knee braces?” Grandma Jo asks.
“Yeah,” Grammy Kay says, “I use them when I’m going to be walking for a while…oh… yeah that would have been smart huh?”

20 minutes into the hike:

“It’s so beautiful!” Kim says.  “I can’t believe how much you can see.  With mountains you hike and hike and you only get to see the beauty when you reach the very top, but with this bluff you can see how gorgeous this place is with each step we take.”
“Yep!” Grammy Kay says, “I think we should be turning around now.  It’s about time to head back.”

“No way!  We just started.  We’re not even halfway down the trail.  I would hate for you all to miss the most beautiful part of the trail because you turned around now.  We have to get to Devil’s Doorway,” Grandpa says.

“Okay,” I say.  “We’ll keep going.”

Personally it didn’t matter to me if we turned around or not, we had seen a lot of beautiful things and Rory was getting a little bit heavy.  It’s not every day I hike a treacherous 500 feet straight up with a baby strapped on my back.  Little tiring.  But Grandpa promised beauty and so onward we went.

45 minutes into the hike:

“Where is this Devil’s Doorway?” I ask. 
“It’s around here somewhere,” Grandpa says.

“I guess it’s just ironic that everyone that has passed us in either direction has no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Yep,” Grandpa says chugging on.

“You okay?” Kim asks.

“I’m dying,” Grammy Kay says, “My legs are going to be locked up for days at this rate.  I think we should turn around.”
“NO!!!” Grandpa shouts, “Devil’s Doorway is just up ahead.  I’m almost positive.”

A group of young girls that are giggling come up behind us.

“Sorry we’re so slow!” Grammy Kay inhales, “This is the senior outing.”
The girls laugh.  “It’s okay.  We can use a little break.  Are you having fun?”

Grammy Kay grunts in a high squeaky dramatic yawp, “THIS IS THE HIKE OF MY LIFE!”
“Wow!” one of the girls says, then spots Rory.  “Aww.  Cute baby.  I should get a sling like that so my friends can carry me.”

Little Rory puts on the charm and coos, but I don’t know if it’s the cooing or  just me but I feel like he’s getting heavier.  I’m inclined to agree with my mother.  It may just be time to turn around.  Grandpa keeps walking and spouts off something about Devil’s Doorway.  Grandma Jo has streams of sweat pouring down her brow, but lugs her attaché case and follows Grandpa.

 1 hour and 45 minutes into the hike:

“Okay, I’m tired now,” I say.  “The baby is done with this hike, my back is covered in sweat, I don’t care anymore about Devil’s Doorway, and I haven’t seen anything more pretty than what we’ve already seen so far.  This is just getting ridiculous.” 
Hey there’s a map!” Grandpa says. 

Everyone gathers around it.  Grammy Kay is praying for a rescue helicopter, Grandma Jo is praying for a shortcut home, Rory is praying he can stretch his legs out, Grandpa is praying we will all keep walking.  Kim is just going for the ride.  Me.  I know how to read maps.
“Look!” I say.  “There’s a forest trail that will take us right back to the car.  It’s a cross country skiing trail so it’s going to be a gradual decline.  That’s perfect for your knees mom.  We’re going that way.  Dad you can decide if you want to keep going to see Devil’s Doorway.”

In the end, Grandpa took a few steps further and got right to the door but didn’t want to trek down another hill so he didn’t get to see it, my sweaty back did dry, Grammy Kay didn’t need to use her toilet paper, Grandma Jo drank 5 of the bottles of water, and Kim, Rory and I had a fantastic and crazy day with our family.  But in this family, I don’t expect anything less. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wisconsin Dells Duck Tours!

This wasn't our first Duck tour!  We've ridden down the bustling streets of Pittsburg on what the Pittsburgers call Duckie Tours, (I still can't get myself to call the manly WWII vehicles duckies, but I digress.)   sailed through the Boston Harbor where the infamous tea party once took place, and now we were about to take in the magnificent view of the splendid dells which are only found in four places around the world.  Kim had never been on the Wisconsin Ducks and Rory had no clue what was about to happen. 

Needless to say Rory loved speeding through town, the wind blowing his hair all over the place.  Our first amphibious landing was in Lake Delton where our tour guide led us through the fold with lame duck jokes and spectacular splashes.  We heard all kinds of fun history, although I've heard it many times before. 

Our second splash into the water took us into the Wisconsin River where we got a close up encounter with the spectacular dells. 

"Those rocks are cool!" Kim says.  "I've never seen them before."
"I know!" I say.  "They are awesome sauce!"
"You can only see them in four places in the world!" the duck driver says, "One of which is Upstate New York."
"Yeah, I think I've seen them before!" Kim says.
"Huh?  You just said you haven't ever seen them before."
"I don't even know," Kim says waving her hand in front of her face.

Rory was mesmerized as we sailed at a subtle 6 miles an hour through the water.  He had no idea what to think about anything.  He just loved watching the water lap up at the side of the duck.  He also loved grabbing the peoples hair in front of us and screaming like a madman.  Grandpa and Grandma were also very excited to experience the joy in Rory's eyes during this new crazy adventure!  It was so much fun, that Grandpa almost forgot he had to pay to get on the Ducks.  Almost.

"Hey!!!" Grandma shouts.  "That was so fun!  Do you guys wanna go ziplining next?"
"No!!!" Grandpa shouts back.  "It's probably like 700 bucks."
"Oh Grandpa," everyone chuckles.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Grandparents Say the Darndest Things!

I don't know if it's just me but when I'm here in Wisconsin I just want to eat.  The grandparents were very happy to oblige.  They were also very eager to say just about anything that came to their mind.   Step aside Bill Cosby!  These Grandparents say the darndest things!
Photo: The first place we are eating in Wisconsin! 
Our very first stop was at Culvers; home of the butter burger and the land of cheese curds and frozen custard.  It's practically a rite of passage if you come to Wisconsin.  This wasn't the only time we'd be frequenting Culvers.

"Okay Grammy Kay," I say, "Can you stop kissing him?  He isn't going to have any skin on his cheeks if you keep at it!"
 "He's my GRANDBABY!  I can do anything I want because I only see him twice a year!"
 "Oh sorry, I didn...."
"OHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Grammy Kay stands up and shakes her golden mane.  "Look at him move the whole high chair!  I thought he was about to fall, but he is DO DRONG!"
"Drong?"I ask.  "Are you dropping the s's in words again?"
"I can do what I want!  He is so strong and independent!  He will be a leader! A fantastic leader!"
"I thought he was going to do something with his hands?" Kim asks.
"Oh, HE WILL!"

Then there was the pizza place.

"HEY HEY HEY!" Grandpa sings into the phone.  "Is this still the best pizza place in Sauk County?"

Aunt Stacy met us for breakfast one morning at the little diner downtown on her way to my cousin Sara's house to help prepare for the wedding. 

"Oh there's Stacy right there," Grammy Kay says, pointing to the parking lot. 
Aunt Stacy catches us sitting at the big table by the window from the parking lot.  She waves.
"Oh wow, I can't believe she saw us," I say.
"Oh yeah!  Stacy has excellent eyesight!" Grammy Kay glows with excitement.
"Really?"  I say.
"Yeah, well I have 20/20," Grammy Kay says, "And Stacy's is even better!"
"You really can't  get better than 20/20," Kim  says.
"And no you don't! You wear glasses!"
"Only cheaters!  I can see 20/20, this way!" Grammy Kay points outward with her fingers.

Stacy walks in and attacks all of us with massive bearhugs and jolly laughter before she sits down and we question her about her eyesight.

  "I don't have good eyesight!" she laughs, "I wear contacts!"
"Your hair is so gorgeous!" Grammy Kay quickly changes the subject, " I love you as a blonde!"
"Thank you!" Aunt Stacy says.
"Yeah!  Now we're real sisters!" Grammy Kay pounds the table and erupts into wild hyena laughs.
Stacy chuckles too, "And your hair is cute too!"
Stacy then turns to me, "Last time I saw her; her. hair. was. not. cute!
Kim gasps. 
Grammy Kay shrugs.
"Well it wasn't, and she knows it!"

The Mexican Joint.

"These margaritas are good!" Kim slurps hers down.
"Yes," Grandpa says kicking his feet back on the table. 
"Would you like to order?" the waiter asks.
"No," Grandpa says, "I like to relax and really let this margarita ruminate first."

Grammy Kay "decided" to make us Taquito's when we told her to.

"So can you make us Taquitos?" Kim asks.  "We're at the store.  Do you need anything?
"OH!" Grammy Kay shouts.  "I have almost all the stuff for it already!  Great idea!"
"What do you need?" I ask.
"Well, I have green onions, potatoes, and I have Mexican Crema.  Can you pick up; the corn tortillas, the chicken to chop up, mole, oh I ran out of oil, lettuce, salsa, sour cream if you don't like the crema, and I think that's it.  I have almost everything except for the things I told you to get!  See ya soon.

Food and Grandparents!  You just have to love them!  Separately of course.

Comic By Bitstrips