28 August 2008

Cousin Paul

My Cousin Paul was diagnosed with Leukemia shortly before his wedding in 1998 at the age of 27.  He endured a plethora (one of his favorite words) of medical appointments, tests, procedures, medications, and therapies in hopes of keeping the cancer at bay. Paul, very truly, lived life to the fullest.  After this diagnosis, he married his true love, prospered in his career, and most importantly, became the proud and devoted father of two adorable boys!  Despite his TREMENDOUS courage, strength, and strong will, he passed away at the age of 33.

In two weeks, his wife and children will participate in The Light the Night Walk sponsored by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Wisconsin.  I have attached the link to this very worthwhile organization in hopes that increased funding will allow the necessary research to continue.

(Paul, you are loved and missed).

http://www.active.com/donate/ltnbrookf/janinefucik

27 August 2008

Thank You Hillary

I have been watching some of the Democratic National Convention.  I understand that "Unity" is the prevailing message of the Democratic Party leadership as evidenced by the strategically placed Unity signs on the convention floor.  This is understandably so.  The country must end the backward spiral that is George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  

I will vote for Barack Obama because I disagree with everything John Mc Cain supports.  Yet, I still very strongly believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton was the best choice, a choice we allowed to slip away.  Our loss.

26 August 2008

Malachy

24 August 2008

The Coloring Cousins

Break out the crayons!

A Good Laugh

Shannon and Eamon engage in some silliness.

(Unfortunately, we were not able to include a photo of *just* Shannon and Emma as Emma was not feeling particularly well when the photos were taken).  :(

A Visit From Cousin Shannon

Eamon and Emma enjoyed a very fun weekend visit from the oh so awesome Cousin Shannon! This past week, the kids anticipated her visit with much excitement and much discussion. Needless to say, Shannon did not disappoint.

Shannon and her two young cousins played board games, created robots out of Legos, and read many a book (among other things). Shannon also pulled the kids in the wagon to the park via the walking trail (not once but twice).  She may not have anticipated that her visit would include these workout sessions.  

Shannon's visit was also a treat for Mom and Dad (a.k.a. Shannon's aunt and uncle).  We spent much time chatting with Shannon while catching up on all of the happenings in her life.  We also enjoyed a Saturday evening meal sans kiddos which for us (and most parents) is a rare occasion, indeed. On Sunday, B and I decided to go bowling, something we had not done in well, ages. We both had much fun but determined that we will not be touring with the Pro Bowling Circuit anytime soon.  Our scores were quite low as compared to another bowler a few lanes over who was legally blind.  (This information was provided to us by the bowling alley attendant, who also gave us a few pointers).  I am sure our bowling maneuvers were to his chagrin, however, as he appeared to have a somewhat pained look on his face while watching us bowl.

In any case, the weekend was truly wonderful.  Thank you Cousin Shannon!  We love you.

21 August 2008

Madeline



The Big "38"

When I was 11 years-old, my parents seemed a bit on the "mature" side, as they were 38 years-OLD, after all. My Dad had prematurely greying (more like white) hair.  They drove an oh so sensible station-wagon (aren't sensible and station-wagon redundant?), clipped coupons, and played bridge.

A few years later, I packed up and headed off to the land of the gopher to begin my life in academia. I was 18, ergo, a "bona fide" adult.  In my eyes, my parents were slowly treading into middle age territory (now being 44), not quite there, but only a few blocks away. They spent their days taking care of their three adolescent kids, their own elderly parents, and our family home.  They worked hard in their respective fields, participated in church activities and did charity work.

It seemed like it would be "ages" before I reached my thirties.  The thirties were a long way off...a long, long way off!  And... imagine the responsibilities!  Well, that would be far into the future, I reasoned.  (I was 18 so consequently knew almost everything there was to know).

Well, yesterday, it was my turn to be 38.  Where did all that time go??? Wasn't I just 18? Weren't Auntie B and I just hanging out together in Pioneer Hall, listening to New Order and Morrissey while planning our next party?

It seems that time really does fly, especially after the kiddos become part of life.  Birthdays come and go so fast, summer is now heading into it's 2008 farewell tour, and more grey hair appears every week.  (Ah, the joy of having a good hair colorist/stylist). 

How did I become 38?  When did this happen?  I guess it is now time for a station wagon (maybe, baby blue just like my Mom and Dad's ...do they still make that color?).  Will I learn to play bridge?  (Okay, maybe not).  Will I become more and more like my parents? (Yes, things do seem to be going in that direction).  

I spent my 38th birthday snuggling and kissing my children.  We read many books (I do not use the word "many" lightly...thanks to the very book focused Emma).  We threw and kicked the mini football, and listened to music.  We spent time with Uncle Tim who resumed some of the story reading responsibilities upon his arrival. I hugged and hugged my little ones (maybe more times then they would have liked).  How can being 38 be a bad thing with these two very cool people in my life!    

Later, Eamon and Emma, their 38 and 44.5 year-old parents, and Uncle Tim hopped into our not so blue family truckster (SUV) to meet Cool Auntie B and Sweet Miss O for dinner in Wayzata. We laughed (a lot), enjoyed the gorgeous lake view, and watched the long trains make their pass through town.  We returned home for a puppy dog themed birthday cake, more play, more smiles, and many more laughs.

I guess 38 is not so bad, after all.  :)  

PS  (To my sweetheart)  Thank you for a wonderful birthday.  I love you.



20 August 2008

Good Buddies


Eamon and his good buddy Miss O enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Minnetonka.  (Yet another cool photo courtesy of Uncle Tim).

The Pensive Boy

Eamon is deep in thought as he stares at Lake Minnetonka. (Photo courtesy of Uncle Tim).

Mother and Daughter


Miss Emma and Mommy.  (Photo courtesy of Uncle Tim)

16 August 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

A few funny quotes of the day (at least I thought so):

This morning, I decided to turn on the retro music channel while we were getting ready for the day.  As Emma was dancing to the music, Eamon walked into the living room and proclaimed, "Is this 'Rock Lobster?"  (Yes, it was).  How did he know that???  

Later...Daddy, Eamon, and Emma decided to watch 'Ratatouille.'  Unfortunately for Emma, it was nap time so Daddy put Emma to bed while Eamon remained to finish the movie.  Moments later, Emma crept out of the bedroom and 'secretly' hid in the hallway.  (Note to Emma:  We can hear you).  I went to retrieve Miss Emma to 'reinitiate the napping process' when she said to me with a frown, "Daddy...Cheech-O...watch...rat."  (Emma just wanted to finish watching Ratatouille with her Dad and brother).  :/

As the evening wore on, it seemed that Eamon and Emma were becoming louder and louder (and louder).  In reality, their parents were most likely were becoming more tired (and more tired)!  I mentioned to Eamon that his Dad and I did not truly realize how loud children would before we had him and his sister.  Eamon responded by suggesting, "maybe you and Daddy should try to have quiet children sometime."  Is there such an entity as "quiet children???"   Just wondering. 

15 August 2008

Movietime with My Brother

On Wednesday afternoon, my brother Tim came over for a visit. We decided to load the kiddos into the family truckster and head to the local Apple retail store for some assistance with my ibook keyboard. The oh-so-cool Uncle Tim patiently played with Eamon and Emma while I consulted with the resident "Mac Genius" who was stationed at the appropriately named "Apple Genius Bar." (Genius, eh?) After we checked out all of the latest, greatest, most coveted (by us) Apple products, Uncle Tim and I took the children for supper. Oh boy. Good times...good times. It seemed that I could not please my young male offspring in terms of my suggestions regarding possible menu selections. When I placed the food in front of the him, he proclaimed that it was not what his father generally serves him at this particular eating establishment. (Pause: Long, long sigh lamenting the life of a mother of a four year-old boy). 

All was not lost though, as the mall play area is generally a happy experience.  Uncle Tim took charge of Emma on a few occassions, when Eamon required a few bathroom breaks. We concluded our Ridgedale experience by taking a long walk around the mall, to walk off our supper. Again, we loaded the kids back into the family truckster and headed home to tell Daddy about our afternoon. It was of tremendous surprise and utter shock (please note the facetious tone) when I learned that the meal items I served Eamon and Emma during our outing were, coincidentally, the same exact items that Daddy selects for the children. Lesson of the day: It is always better when Daddy picks out your meal!


Daddy played with the kiddos in another room before putting them to bed so Uncle Tim and I capitalized on a rare "free time" opportunity! Time to watch the recent Netflix arrival! Wow...a movie? No Nemo? No Cars? No Curious George? Believe it or not, a bonafide film not suitable for the under 5 years of age crowd! So, we popped the popcorn as we popped in the DVD.  It was a nice treat to have the opportunity to spend some "quality brother-sister time."  


By the way, the film of the night was 'Control,' a biopic of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit but my brother...well, not as much as I.

12 August 2008

The Puppy

One day my Mom decided that she wanted another dog.  She came across an ad in the classifieds indicating that an eight week-old litter of Golden Retriever puppies was for sale.  My Mom called the number listed and discovered that there was only one puppy left, the runt of the litter.  Mom drove out to Blair, Wisconsin, located the farm on which the puppy spent his first weeks, and proceeded to meet this very energetic, happy, and adorable puppy that would become her friend.

My brother and I were a bit surprised that my Mom had decided to bring home this very, very lively (I am putting this mildly) canine.  First of all, we had never had a "boy" dog.  And more importantly, this little puppy would require much attention and training. He would need walks and intense ball throwing sessions.  He was going to grow to be a 90 pound dog! (He actually grew to be a big, strapping 100 plus pound lad).  "What was she thinking?" we wondered.

Mom enrolled our new family member in puppy kindergarten and did her best to play with him as much as she could.  She bought him toys of all kinds and provided him special treats.  Her health was poor and so often, she did not have the energy to play with him as she so desperately wanted.  She did her best to provide for the puppy, despite her physical constraints.

The puppy would prove to be a challenge at times, chewing her treasured Philosophy books, the living room sofa, assorted plants, my new shoes, various squeak toys, and just about everything upon which he laid eyes.  He was a puppy, so by definition, very excitable, destructive and at times, seemingly, hyperactive. My brother and I wondered again, "How would Mom raise this puppy?  What was she thinking?"

As time went on, the puppy settled down a bit (not for a long, long while, though) and became a wonderful companion to my Mom.  He snuggled and cuddled with her as she rested on the sofa. He provided company to her on those days when she felt so sick and so weak, struggling just to walk from her bed to the kitchen.  The puppy's constant antics made her laugh.  He caused her to smile.  She adored him.  We all did.  

On the morning my Mom died, the puppy lied next to her.  She did not pass into this next life alone for she was with this special puppy who was always by her side.  My brother and I have expressed much gratitude for this.

I realized this morning that today is this very special dog's birthday.  
Happy Birthday, Macintosh!  Thank you for being such a wonderful "puppy!"  
(We miss you)


The Journey

The Journey 
by Mary Oliver


One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice-

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

it was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do-

determined to save

the only life you could save.


From: Ten Poems to Change Your Life (author: Roger Housden, copyright 2001)

(This book was a wonderful gift given to me a few years ago by the very cool Aunt Diane)

08 August 2008

So Much To Say

Now that she is a bona fide two year-old, Emma's speech and language skills are burgeoning at at ever increasing rate.  I have tried to keep track of all of her new words but I am sure this list is incomplete.  

Shoe, Shoes, or "Shoe-y" 
Daddy
Mommy
No
Hi
Bye or Bye Bye
"Cook-O" (Cookie Monster or an actual cookie) or Cookie
Apple
Puppy (Emma's favorite word)
See
Help 
Go
Juice
Poop
Baby
Where'd it go? (Where did it go?)
Hello
"S'ok" (It's okay)
"Chi Chi" (Brother's nickname)
"Cheech-O" (yet another of brother's nicknames given by Daddy)
Share
Eamon
Emma
Water
Ball
Car or Cars
"Cheers!" (As she toasts with her sippy cup)
Truck
Kitty Cat or Cat
Horse
"Yee ha!"
Mine!
Uncle Tim/Monkey  ;)
"Di Di" (Nickname of Great Aunt Diane also used when Emma's Mom was age two!)
Cows or "Cowies"
Tree
Ouch
Sorry
Bear
Shortround (Nickname of our golden retriever, Malachy)
"Milkie" or Milk
George or Georgio (In reference to Curious George)
Train
"Choo Choo"
Ear
Eye
Nose
Monkey
"los" (Nickname of Uncle Tim)
Wake Up!!!
Pig
People
Climb
Hat
Picture
Duck or "Duckie"
Sleep 
Stop
Lapin (French word for "Rabbit")
Supper
Pizza
Shark
Fox
Penguin
Sheep
"What?"  (In response to a question)
Star Wars
"Bot" or Robot
Corn 
"Owie"
Batman
What's the matter?
I love you
Mine
"Liv-ya" (Olivia) 
Monster
Broken 
Gone
Happy Day (Happy Birthday)
Open
"Madline" (Madeline)
Box

I notice we have a lot of nicknames in this house.




The Return of Cousin Andrew

My cousin Andrew has served in the military for several years, having served in Afghanistan and Iraq, among his many dangerous and precarious assignments. Soon, he will return to the (relieved and happy) embrace of his family and friends.  May he experience all of the very best as he begins this new chapter in his life!  Welcome home, Andrew!

07 August 2008

It Was Only a Matter of Time

As I was securing the kids in their car seats after pre-school this morning, my son informed me that he wanted to watch a movie on the drive home.  The distance between school and home is a short fifteen minute commute so it seemed unnecessary to pop in a DVD. More importantly, I feel the DVD player should be reserved for long car trips or unavoidable traffic delays.  I reasoned that my children should not rely on a movie to keep them entertained but instead should interact with each other, with their mother (God forbid), or check out the scenery on the way home.  My son disagreed with my views on the matter (big surprise), and repeated his request that he be allowed to watch a movie.  I again informed the young lad that we would not be watching a movie.  My son, being a typical four year-old, was resolve in his determination to have his mother acquiesce to his wishes.  He repeated his demand until I responded, "Eamon, what part of NO are you not understanding here?"  

Let's face it...it was only a matter of time before I heard my parents' words coming out of my mouth.  I had suspected that I would "become" my parents eventually.  My response to my son was immediate, almost rote.   There was no conscious forethought before I uttered that phrase I had heard so many times, so long ago.

It was only a matter of time.

06 August 2008

A New Beginning...


I have been thinking of creating a blog for some time.  I have wanted a place to explore ideas and ask questions.  I want to celebrate life events (large or small) and post a few pictures here and there.  

Thank you to my brother, Tim, for helping me set up this blog.  (His computer expertise knows no bounds).