Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Thirteen - Old Age edition (just teasing)

So, Birthday came and went, and I did not spontaneously explode. (although admit it, that would be cool to read about!) So I am still here, and doing the best I can to muddle through another day. This list will be just random thoughts again, since I actually had fun making last week's list. Plus, it doesn't make it so damn hard to make a list! If I find a tangent I like, I might run with it, just to warn you!

1) How is it that most kids' toys today almost always take forever to assemble? No longer are the days of simple snap and go toys. Now they all have bells and whistles, require batteries that you forgot to buy, and you always need a frikkin' screwdriver to finish it. Luckily, I have yet to have the proverbial problems on Christmas Eve/ Christmas morning... key word being YET!

2) In our house, the plethora of toys amazes me way too much. Now we had toys when I was a kid, but nothing like we have stored in the playroom. Hell, just saying that we have a playroom is amazing. When I was Patrick's age, we had a sunroom/porch off of our living room. We had good times out there, but there were windows that could break, and lots of other things we had to be careful of. The room we have here is awesome. One window only, in a spot that won't likely get hit or break. So they can go nuts out there!

3) Speaking of the house we are in, it was the house my grandparents lived in for 30+ years. It was very odd moving in, since it is still "Grandmom and Granpop's" house. Now my uncle owns the house, and has for years. He rebuilt the house, and put in an apartment upstairs. The house used to be a 5 bedroom house, with a store built in too. Now, the store space is cut in half, leading to the playroom, and the Post Office. Yup, our building holds the town's Post Office. Upstairs the area was also cut in half. There used to be a door in the bathroom leading to three other rooms. Now there is a sink and vanity, and it is sealed off. The other side of the wall is a closet in the 2 bedroom apartment with full kitchen and gorgeous living room. The people living in the apartment are usually family friends, and because of that, when my grandmother had her stroke, the friend called 911 and was at her side when the ambulance got here.

4) The room Kate and I sleep in is the room where my grandmother had a massive stroke in. Now, she didn't pass until 3 days later after all the kids and grandkids got to say goodbye. My siblings have all told me they would be creeped out sleeping in the same room, but I learned to deal with it. I look at it as the room where she lived, not died. To honor my grandparents, we have a picture of them in the playroom, which used to be known as "Grandmom's room". This room was always full of pictures of grandkids, family, and fun things for the kids to play with. Making it a playroom was a no-brainer. Grandmom would have wanted it that way. And now, she watches over the boys while they are playing. Grandpop is still alive, but living in a home. He loves seeing the boys, and We bring them to see him ever so often. But the picture of the two of them watching over the boys means so much to me.

5) Sad to think, but just a few years ago, I was blessed enough to have all 4 of my grandparents. Now, unfortunately, I only have one left. My dad's dad. His health is going slowly downhill, and he most likely doesn't have too much longer. I think this is good and bad. Good, because he isn't happy here without my grandmother, and it has been 3 years since she passed. Bad because I will not have him to enjoy my boys.

6) When Patrick was born, My grandmother was so proud. The first person to visit Kate in the hospital that wasn't our parents or siblings was my grandmother. I remember it clearly, I was sitting in the corner of the room resting, and there was a knock on the door followed by a pink and white blur. I have never seen this woman move so fast. She went right to Kate, gave her a kiss, and asked to hold him. My Uncle Tim was right behind her, and he actually saw me, and offered congratulations. Grandmom did after holding him for quite some time. I have never felt so proud, seeing the smile on her face, and the joy she had while holding him.

7) My mom and sisters hadn't expected Patrick to be born so early, and had planned a shower for Kate that wound up being after he was born. One if the neatest pictures I have EVER taken, (and I have taken a TON in my life) is of Patrick holding onto my grandmother's finger. He was only about 3 weeks old, and she was 81. Amazing. This was the last time I saw Grandmom before her stroke. It was a severe and incapacitating stroke that she never recovered from. I got to say goodbye to her, but never got to see her smile anymore. I am amazed at how much I miss it.

8) My Grandmom used to host a Christmas party every year, and invited all the grandkids to come and do some crafty things, have some hot chocolate, and just have a great time. Problem was, I would always seem to have something else planned that I couldn't get out of (like work). The last one she had was the one right before Patrick was born, and Kate and I made sure we were there. I had promised Grandmom I would make it that year, and made sure we were there. None of us knew it would be the last one. Part of the tradition was every grandkid would get a Polaroid picture with Grandmom and Grandpop while having the option to wear a Santa Hat. Both of us got a picture with them, and we also brought our digital camera too. There was one moment that I am proud of noticing, and it might not have meant anything if Grandmom was still alive. After all the grandkids were done taking pictures, I was standing in the room with Grandmom and Grandpop, and they were just about to get out of their chairs. But before they did, they leaned over and gave each other a kiss. I happened to have my camera ready, and got a picture of it. At the time, it was a "cute picture". Less than 2 months later, it brought tears to everyone's eyes at Grandmom's funeral.

9) Ok, enough sad thoughts. There is a great story of when my sister was born. She was born at 30 weeks, but was a HUGE baby for that age. 30 weeks, and she was 8 1/2 pounds. Some babies aren't that big at birth! So, she was in the NICU, and my Grandmom was looking in the window. There was another couple looking in the window, and happened to see my sister there. (Now picture this, she is 10 weeks early, and is 8 1/2 pounds. Most of the other babies in the NICU are lucky to be 4 pounds after a few days/weeks in there!) So the man looking in the window says to the woman, "Wow, that big baby must have been born weeks ago! Look how big she is!" To which my Grandmom smiles and says "That is my Granddaughter, and she was born only 3 hours ago!" Flabbergasted, the couple smiled and left, not knowing what to say.

10) I have learned to understand a phrase that my Grandpop used to say to my parents when we were all leaving from their house, and usually when some or most of us kids were screaming crying in the car. My mom's dad, in his amazing charm, would lean in the window, smile, and say to my parents "Ain't love grand?". I used to just write it off as a kid, not really understanding the comment. Now, all these years later, and having two of my own kids, I have had the nights where the kids were screaming in the car as I pulled away from my parents. And immediately, the thought comes to mind before my dad can say it to me, but he makes sure he does. "Ain't love grand?" he says with a huge smile.

11) While I was blessed to have all my grandparents for so long, my wife wasn't as lucky. Her mom's parents died young, well before Kate was born. Her dad's father died about 2 years before we met. I simply adore her Mom-mom, and she loves me too. Shortly after we started dating, Kate's brother got married, and I was invited to the wedding and the rehearsal dinner. My seat happened to be next to Mom-mom. The dinner was a lavish Italian feast, being a 7 course meal. However, sitting next to Mom-mom allowed me the honor of sharing her meal, thus making my meal a 14 course meal. "Oh Patrick, you are a growing young man, you need this more than I do..." Gotta love her!

12) Next year will be 10 years since that wedding, and apparently we are gonna babysit Kate's niece and nephew so their parents can go away. I don't have any good stories about her niece, but her nephew, Harry, I have been spoiling since he was born. EVERY present I have ever bought for him has been related to firefighting. His first present was a bib with a firehouse on it, and came with a Velcro Dalmatian. Yes I am serious! The older he got, the louder the toys got. I would go and find stuff he would like, but made sure it was noisy or silly, just to tease Ken and Lisa, his parents. Ken swore to me that "Revenge will suck brother!". I laughed it off, since Patrick is 3, and never got a loud toy from them... until...

13) His birthday present for his 3rd birthday came early, since they weren't going to be there to give it to him. We brought it home after Thanksgiving, and put it in the closet, almost forgetting about it until his birthday. Lisa laughingly said this was the gift of Revenge, and I should "make sure I enjoy it". Curious, I wondered if this was the year Ken got even with me. When Patrick opened the present up, I laughed out loud. Elmo's first Drum Set. Three drums and one cymbal. Sadly, it wasn't loud enough to get truly even with me, but it is a good step in the right direction. So Ken, If you are reading this, (I doubt he will, but anyway) Bring it on Brother! Elmo didn't work out well enough. Can you find anything to get even with me?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday Thirteen for Tax Day...

Quick list (hopefully), and not about taxes... just happens to be today...

1)How cool is it to be a fan in Philly lately? New team, the Union, play their third game tonight, Phillies are dominating, and the Flyers won the first game in the first round against the Devils.

2) I like using Twitter. My wife thinks it is goofy, but I enjoy it. Actually, most people i know think it is goofy, but I find it fun to get some insight into people's minds.

3) I have decided to exercise my fat ass into shape. It will start slow, but once I get moving, I hope to get into either a half marathon or half triathlon. We'll see how this works, but I am determined.

4) I turn 33 in 5 days. This did scare me before, but now it gives me motivation to get in shape. I want to be here for my boys in 20 years, not wasting away cause I am too fat to do anything.

5) I think the 3-D tv thing is foolish.

6) I really need a job. Anyone near me hiring? Send me an email address to send my resume to!

7) I would love to have season tickets to one of the Philly Teams. I'd love to take my boys to multiple games from the same seats. Never was able to do that when I was younger, but I think it would be neat to do for them!

8) I really enjoy meeting new people online. I like finding out where they are from and if we have anything in common to talk about. Especially if it is on XBOXLive. Then we have the game in common LOL

9) Sometimes I wish I was able to actually have some decent luck. Lately, it seems we have been catching the raw end of the stick. We have been playing the lotteries lately, hoping for a nibble. Powerball is 177 Million, Mega Millions is 122 Million. I'd love both!

10) I want to buy a house sometime soon. We need to stop pissing away money on rent. It is amazing how much we have wasted in the past almost 9 years just on rent.

11) It amazes me how much I can't stand the NBA. I love college basketball, especially this year's March Madness. But I hate how the players are just whiny spoiled brats in the NBA.

12) Wow, this is incredibly random today, huh? Sorry I don't have more organization today while making this.

13) I need to find something that I really like to do, and make a career out of it. I am big into working in a job you like. If you hate your job, you need to leave before you infect everyone else there. Don't like it? Don't work there. It's that simple.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

I haven't done one of these in a while, so I decided to make one today. I give you the 13 reasons Family can be both fun and torturous.

1) There is no love in the world like a mother's love for a child. Paternal love is a strong thing too, but nothing on earth can compare to the bond of a mother and her child(ren). I have seen a video of a 16 year old mother lift a car with one hand (a Cadillac no less) to retrieve her injured baby that got run over. She lifted the car, pulled the baby out, then slammed the car back down. She did sustain injuries in this incident, namely tearing her shoulder, her bicep and herniated some discs in her back. But she LIFTED A CADILLAC WITH ONE HAND!!! ever notice the guys in "The World's Strongest Man" competition lift some tiny Citroen car, not a Cadillac? Nuff said...

2) Sibling rivalry is on both sides of the equation today. It can be friendly pressure to inspire both siblings to achieve more, or it can be the pushing down on a sibling to make one achieve more than that one. It doesn't matter if they are boys are girls, there is always a rivalry. How the parents let it go on or attempt to control it to a docile level determines how it will play out in the long run.

3) Bonding between siblings is also a very strong thing to witness. No matter how many times I wanted to "ring my sister's neck", if anyone ever hurt her, I was there right away to dole out any retribution. My brothers and I always backed up our sisters, to a fault. No questions asked. That is very tough to mimic, and is amazing to see it in force.

4) There is an amazing tie between parents and children that lasts a lifetime. How often have you seen it in a movie where one parent gets sick. What happens next? The phone call is made to all the children, and they all return home. Movies may try to imitate this bond, but it is a mere portrayal of the true bond. I saw it first hand when my grandfather was dying of cancer. His final day, the call went out. Everyone came to his house. Everyone of his children was there at his side when he passed. On the other side of my family, when my Grandmother had a massive stroke, the call went out to all of the children and grandchildren. We all got to see her before they took her off life support. When she passed, she went with the goodbyes and prayers from all of us.

5) Many people feel that pets are true family too. How long are dogs and cats in our lives? I think it would be a stretch to include fish, but I think some birds are in that group too. How many times have you heard of a person trying to go back into a burning house to go get the dog or cat? Would you do that for a fish? I wouldn't. I wouldn't do it for a dog or cat either, and I adore my pets. I think human life is more important than a pet's life. Some people may disagree, but that is what I think.

6) How neat is the feeling Christmas morning when you are a kid... One of your parents goes down to see if Santa has stopped in, turned on all the lights on the tree, and then either took pictures of you coming down the steps or video of you coming down. How great a feeling was it those days? Or Easter morning? Try to duplicate that elation... I bet you can't!

7) Family portraits: the bane of all families! Who really likes posing in some uncomfortable position just to look pretty for a brief moment? One year, in my younger days, I was experimenting with trying to grow a goatee. (It wasn't pretty, but that is another story.) This happened to be the year we got a family picture done. I was tanned, and being the only one in my family that really does, I stood out some already. Add in the bad facial hair, and to this day the result of the picture is my family teasing me that they got a picture taken with Jose' the gardener. I got ribbed about it just a few months ago, and this picture was taken over 10 years ago!!

8) I personally love being an Uncle. I only have one niece so far, and no nephews yet. Now my sister-in-law is very pregnant right now, so I will have another kid to be an Uncle to. I think it is so neat to hear "Uncle Pat" from my little niece. She will be 2 in June, so it is even more cute now. Now my siblings have 2 kids from us. The littlest one Jackson is only 9 1/2 months old, and just starting to talk. But Patrick is 3, and talks out of control! I love seeing the smile on my brothers and sisters faces when he calls them by name. It makes me so proud to be a father.

9) The instant love you feel when you hold your newborn child in your arms for the first time. Knowing that this little thing in your arms is your flesh and blood, and so dependent on you, is almost overwhelming. I got to carry my son Patrick after he was born into the nursery. I was blessed with the fact that he even smiled at me. I loved it. I have never felt so proud, and so big in my life. I had recently seen the movie "Rocky Balboa" literally the night before he was born. There was a moment in the movie that has Rocky talking to his son, and talking about holding him in the palm of his hand. Before he was born, it was just a moment in a movie. Now after he was born, I saw the movie again, but this time it meant more! I knew then what the emotional feeling he was talking about.

10) The feeling of love I had for my son Patrick is amazing. It seems impossible to duplicate that. Then Jackson was born, and the love was recreated again. It is hard to imagine ever loving something as much, but it is possible. It is real, and unconditional.

11) The love of my wife is an amazing gift to me. I am trying to figure out what lottery I won to deserve it, but it is there and mine. We obviously have our ups and downs, but the love never wavers. I give her all the love that I have to give her, and pray that we'll make it another day, stronger than the day before.

12) We are blessed with amazing examples of love enduring. Both of our parents have been married for over 35 years. Both sets of my grandparents were married over 50 years. Her mother's parents died young unfortunately, but her father's parents were married over 50 years also. We have great examples to live by, and to be proud of.

13) The best and worst thing about families is they are yours for life. They will always be there for you, and then again, they will always be there. They may be embarrassing, they may be overbearing, they may be dressed in a way you might want to avoid being seen with them, but they are family. They can also be amazing, supportive- putting things in order to accommodate a busy schedule for sports or band or anything like that, and they will smile brightest on your wedding day. Or smile the biggest when they hold their grandchild or niece or nephew. The most awesome moment of my life so far, besides witnessing the birth of both my boys, was making the phone calls after, to tell the family of the births. Even now, I am tearing up remembering how proud I was, how amazing a feeling it was. I will never be able to have that feeling again... unless we have more kids!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting older...

So, this month I turn 33. Scary number, but no big issue really. Then I start thinking about the past 10 years. 10 years ago, I was single, goofing off, living carefree, and wasting money like it was going out of style. I would rent 10 movies a night from Blockbuster, then return them the next day after watching them. I had no real life, and was unsure where I was heading in life. In September of 2000, I drove cross country with my best friend. We did 19,000 miles in 3 months. Got to see some amazing things, and had some great experiences along the way. I have family and friends all over the country, and during this trip we only stayed in 7 motels. The rest of the time we stayed with my family or friends. We did stay with his family in Detroit and North Carolina though. But the experience was something I can never replicate. We had nothing tying us down, nothing we couldn't walk away from, and nothing we couldn't put off until we got back. We left in September, and got home in December. Best time of my life... until my wife had our first child. December of 2006. We weren't married then, but we were engaged, and my life changed instantly. Now my life is even better, with the addition of our second child, who was born in June last year. My wife and I have had our ups and downs, same as every couple. But our instant cure for things is seeing our boys play together. Patrick starts laughing, over nothing in particular, and Jackson start right on in with him. They do it at home, sitting in the car seats, anywhere they want to. It is absolutely adorable. They play together all the time, Jackson sitting in his activity center, and Patrick bringing him toys - lots of toys! They share things all the time, and Patrick just adores him. We have been lucky so far with them getting along so well. We can only hope they always stay this close.

So now, looking at my life, I am married, have two wonderful boys, and still really have no idea where my life is heading. I have decided that I am too fat for my own good, and am trying to eat much less. I am planning on either riding a bike (if I am allowed to buy one!), or walking leading up to running to get in shape. I need to be here for quite some time to raise the boys. I need to live a good life, and show the boys how a good father should be. Being 33 is a seemingly scary number, but now thinking about my life, it is just a number. One that the boys can learn to say while counting!