So Aidan goes to pre-school on Tuesday and Thursday. And, in the interest of logistics, Erin goes to my mother-in-law’s when Renee goes to work, so it’s just us two men hanging out on Tuesday and Thursday morning.
The oil man came to make a (very expensive) delivery this morning, so our attention was focused on watching that entire process.
When the truck left, I realized we only had a few minutes to get dressed and out of the house at our normal time to keep things on schedule.
That’s when the following occured:
“Come on, bud, we don’t want to be late. Let’s hustle.”
“But, Dad,” he started, “I don’t want to hustle or bustle or muscle or wustle.”
I just cracked up and said, “Well, OK, but let’s hurry up.” And we did.
Oh, and yeah, wustle isn’t really a word. We know this, right? But it was funny to hear him make up another rhyme.
What else? I got nothin’ (except a pile of work to do).
Ok, so how does that old saying go? A picture is worth a thousand words? Well, let’s give it a shot and find out. The beauty of wordpress is that it counts as I type. Don’t worry. I will do the math. The words that are counted will be below the picture. The question is, can a simple picture like this, really be worth that many words? Let’s try and figure this out together. Shall we?
Believe it or not, that’s the best ‘family’ portrait we have. And it was taken today (Sunday). Do you know how hard it is to have a photo taken, particularly when two of the four are kids? Yeah, well, it’s hard. So hard, in fact, that this photo is the best of four taken today.
The photographer is my sister-in-law, Stephanie, who, along with her friend, Amber, was visiting us this weekend from Florida. We don’t see Steph enough. It’s hard when siblings are separated by that much distance. Stephanie and her brother live in Florida. Renee and her parents are up north. We always try to convince Steph to move back. Until it happens, which is probably doubtful, then my wife and her sister are doing pretty well dealing with emails and phone calls to go along with the two or three times a year they get to visit in person. She’s fun to have around. Who knows. Perhaps some day, she and her husband will end up ‘coming home.’
From left to right, that’s one-third of Erin, yours truly, Aidan and my wife, Renee. The picture was taken at a place called Napatree Point in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. It is, perhaps, my favorite beach. In. The. World. It’s in the middle of a summer tourist haven, yet it still has an incredible amount of remote charm to it.
As you can see behind us, the beach is curving to the left, almost in a crescent shape. Well, if you walk all the way out to the point, you’ll come across some forts that were built to protect the area during, I think, World War II. I’ve been out there a few times, but not in a long, long time. It’s pretty cool, however.
Lots of memories on that beach, including the night the woman in the picture agreed to be my wife. I will never forget that night. It was perfect.
Today was also perfect, just in a different way. It was Erin’s first trip to the beach. She liked it. Even if you can’t tell because she, apparently, wasn’t interested in the camera. The girl likes everything though. She, apparently, only does two things — rolling around and smiling. She is getting closer and closer to making that crawl thing go. It’s amazing to watch the progress in just about seven months. The smiling is so incredible. Everyone gets a smile. Give one to her, she gives one to you.
She is just a happy kid. And that makes us happy. From what you can see of her, you might notice a red spot on her upper lip. It’s a hemangioma, which, they tell us, is completely normal. It looks like a birthmark on the outside of her lip, and the inside is puffier. We hardly notice it. It doesn’t seem to be bothering her at all. The doctors say that it could continue growing until her first birthday, then it should recede natually — and slowly, to the point that it should be all but invisible by the time she’s in first or second grade.
I look at myself and go, wow…getting a little gray on the sides and, obviously, a little thin on the top. Hate that my hair is blowing around, but it was windy, what can you do? I do think I look a bit thinner in general, a result of my Forty by Forty goal. What you can’t see in the picture are my jeans. How do I know I might be losing a little weight? Well, in this picture, I’m wearing ‘natural fit’ jeans and no longer ‘relaxed fit.’ Every little step helps. So if it’s my jeans, that’s fine with me. Really.
Aidan loves to chew his coat, which, of course, he’s doing here. It drives Renee and I nuts, but, short of putting a dab of tabasco sauce on there, we can’t seem to get him to stop. Oh well. He was having a ball at the beach. He loves to explore. So, after finding a smooth rock to bring back for my mother-in-law, he was then ready to push sand around with the bulldozer he brought.
He also had a ton of fun tossing rocks into the bay, which is on the opposite side of the ocean. The dunes and beach separate ocean side from bay side. We were surprised to see parts of the bay frozen, but it did provide a perfect rock throwing opportunity. He tried to skim some rocks and keep them on the ice, but that changed when he heard the ‘plop’ of a big rock going through the ice. So that’s how we spent the next 10 minutes or so, picking out bigger rocks that he could ‘plop’ into the water.
He had a ball down there today. Just like he always does. Pretty much any time he’s outside is a good time. He doesn’t consider it a good time when having his picture taken. It’s just not, as you can tell, one of his favorite things in the world to do.
Renee looks fabulous in this picture. Or, for that matter, any picture. She started out carrying Erin on her back, but I took over shortly before this picture was taken. I was impressed. I wish Renee and Stephanie were closer — in a geographical sense. They, I think, have now spent more of their lives living away from each other than being together. They have always been committed to making the distance thing work for them, but on these types of visits, it clearly isn’t the best option.
As you can see, Renee gets pure joy from our wonderful kids. (And, well, ok, maybe just a little bit from me, too!) She’s a fabulous mom, a fabulous teacher, a fabulous wife. She’s just, well, awesome. We make a great team — and make no mistake — she’s the captain. I couldn’t do it without her. She does soooo much. And I know I don’t tell her enough, but I do appreciate all she does for us — and, well, for me. I couldn’t do it without her. No question about that. She’s the best there is, and I couldn’t be happier that she said yes on that beach a long time ago.
And that concludes my little test. Can a simple picture really be worth a thousand words. Now you know.
What else? I got nothin’.
2007. I’m done with you.
Don’t get me wrong, the year had it’s moments — the most incredible being the birth of our daughter, Erin Margaret, who was born June 10th and truly proved to be an angel in a time of need.
Daddy’s little girl. My ‘little bit.’ Aidan’s little sister. Renee’s daughter. Whatever she is, she is. And what she is is beyond special. You’ll know it to the first time she smiles at you.
And she brought smiles with her during an incredible time. The day after she was born, my brother Tim collapsed. He died five days later.
Birth. Death. Within a week. That’s more emotion than, quite frankly, I can handle. And, I’m honestly not quite sure how I handled it this year. That’s why I’m done with you, 2007. That and then a few months later, the death of my grandmother, just a few weeks shy of her 101st birthday. Quite a run she had. Quite a woman she was. But with her goes a link — for she was my last living grandparent.
Goodbye, 2007. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Without Erin, I would have completely hated you.
Hello, 2008. What are you going to bring us this year? *fingers crossed*
Well, here are five things I’m bringing to you, 2008.
1. I will continue to work on Forty by Forty. A long way to go, but I am making progress. It might not sound like a big deal, but since November 1st, I’ve only had doughnuts on two occasions and McDonald’s on one.
2. I will continue to work at learning how to eat better and, most importantly, I will excercise more.
3. I will keep working to be the best parent I can be. It’s not always easy. There can be amazingly frustrating experiences. But when Erin smiles or Aidan says, “Dad, can you play with me?” Then you know it’s going to be a good day.
4. I will start the college plans for the kids. They each have money. They each have an account. We are saving, but it’s time to start the actual 529 plans.
5. I will be the best blogger I can be. I know, it sounds like a cop out just to get to number five, but it’s true. I will work to be here more because, well, apparently you like it that way.
Ready or not, 2008, here I come.
What else? I got nothin’.
So one of the last things that happened to me in 2007, as you may already know, is that I met Clink.
If you don’t know my blogging history, the short version is this:
Molly worked for me. She started blogging. A lot. She got attention. A lot. She convinced me to blog. Here I am. One of her regular readers (and vice/versa) was Clink.
Clink and Molly became more than just blogging buddies. They are like sisters. Even though they haven’t ‘met’ — yet. (Oh, and, by the way, when they do meet, they will discover how much more they are going to dig each other.) Molly and I would regularly talk about blogging stuff and other bloggers. And then two things happened.
I forget the order, but one day Clink wrote about an old Patriots garbage can that her fiance wanted to keep when they moved in together. She was ready to toss it, but I was able to give her some feedback on why its is more than a garbage can. So much more.
Then, another day, Clink sent a package of homemade oreos (and other assorted goodies) to Molly (and, well, by default, me). OK, I admit, I might have been in on the whole thing. 😉
So I have Molly to thank for getting me into this blogging thing. And I also have her to thank for ‘introducing’ me to Clink.
As time went on, I learned a few things, one of them being that Clink got her man tickets to the Patriots/Giants game for his birthday.
As the game drew closer, my cousin asked if I wanted to go. Hell yeah, I said. I may have passed up Game Two of the World Series, but I wasn’t going to screw up again.
I emailed Clink and told her I was going. There were going to be more than 70,000 people at the game. The chances of meeting were slim — until we found out we were only a few sections apart, on the same level.
Part of me felt guilty that I would actually meet her before Molly. But, what can you do? So, there we were, in the Meadowlands, awaiting history when we agreed to meet before the game. Two blogging buddies, ready to put down the keyboard and mouse and actually meet.
We left our seats and went to our designated meeting point. And for about 15-20 minutes, I had the pleasure of connecting with a fellow blogger. Sure, we hadn’t ‘met’, but that didn’t even matter. We had formed some type of bond. And, talking with Clink and her fiance was like connecting with people I had known for years. It was so normal — in the nicest possible way! She’s fabulous. He’s fabulous. They are fabulous.
It’s not easy for someone who doesn’t blog to understand the connections that can be formed here. But I know some of you have met other bloggers and lived to tell about it. Behind the keyboard, monitor and mouse are real people. And as I discovered behind the upper deck of the Meadowlands Saturday night — real friends.