Total Pageviews

Monday, May 26, 2014

Six Months

Today is an additional kind of “Memorial” day for me.  Today marks six months to the day since dad passed away.  Half a year.  It’s still a weird time phenomenon.  Half a year; six months.  It’s a while but also not. 

Yesterday, just Zachary and I went to church.  Matthew threw up in the morning (happy 3 day weekend to us!  Poor guy) and Kayliana – well, if she’s not sick then she’s mentally ill as she’s been acting all sortsa padded room crazy.  So, Zach and I went to Mass (wishing Mike luck as I happily walked out the door). 

Father Todd’s homily was awesome – as always.  The music was extra beautiful.  The sun broke through the clouds and lit up the altar under the skylight.  Zach received his 2nd Communion!  Without the distraction of a 3 year old, I was able to pay closer attention to the words – especially during the Eucharistic Prayer as Father Todd asked for the prayers of the Saints gone before us.  When you really listen to the words, it’s not just a bunch of religious theology fanciness.  He offers Thanksgiving and asks for prayers for our health and well-being.  Isn’t that something we’re always wanting?  We pray for it at the most important part of the Mass every week!  We join in communion with all the members of the church – living and dead.  We pray that all the deceased be welcomed into God’s kingdom.  There are all sorts of awesome that we say and pray for and offer gratitude for, and it just felt like it was all about dad yesterday.  He was there.  It was just all happening there.  I fell apart.  After Communion, during the beautiful hymn, I kind of lost it.  I think I managed to not draw TOO much attention to myself.  I kept it quiet, but this was definitely not a socially acceptable, pretty little tear slipping down my cheek.  I must say I’m impressed with my 8 year old son that he’s so unfazed by my tears and emotional blubbering (even in public), that he didn’t look at all surprised or embarrassed and just immediately started rubbing and patting my arm.

Six months ago today. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bob the Builder

When Matthew was little, he got into the show (and toys from) Bob the Builder.  Pretty quickly, he realized the connection between Bob the Builder and ‘D-dad.’  The boys and my mom would occasionally even refer to my dad with this nickname.  The name fit.

My dad was such a project man.  He was the ultimate do-er.  He was a DIY-er before the “Do It Yourself” revolution.  He would’ve laughed in the face of Pinterest and some of the silly ‘DIY’ projects and ideas that are now all the rage.  He never hired a professional unless he absolutely had to.  He built a second story on one of their first homes.  He was a landscape architect, a plumber, a painter, an electrician, a carpenter, a roofer, a tile mosaic artist.  He taught himself how to do everything.  And he was very successful at it. 

As my brother Timothy said, “Dad flipped houses before flipping houses was a thing.”

Our home from 1985-2000, was a beautiful lakefront cape cod, two storey on half an acre.  My parents bought it for a song as it was the epitome of a “fixer upper” – vines growing in through the windows, nasty dirty ceilings, floors and walls, a rotting boat dock and overgrown yard and flower beds.

Much of my weekends and summers as a kid were spent in the ‘torture’ of helping with projects.  One summer, my brother Chris and I moved wheelbarrow loads and loads of dirt down the steep hill next to the house.  The plan was to terrace the steep backyard.  I helped mix cement and tile the patio at the age of 9 or 10.  (I think about having my own kids do something like this now and can already hear the whining about the injustice of it all.  Spoiled children). I once pretended to pray the Rosary to get out of doing yard work.  I think it worked once and the next time I attempted this same trick, Dad said something about, “You can say a Hail Mary for each dandelion you pull.”

I don’t remember a Saturday that wasn’t spent – at least some of it – helping with some chores while dad worked on a home improvement project.

Condo living wasn’t for dad.  Sure, he still did things – remodeling kitchens and bathrooms on his own – but the lack of yard work was frustrating to him.

When mom and dad first visited the retirement community where she will be moving next month, she was smitten.  She’s wanted to move there for a few years now.  Dad apparently told her, “If you’re moving there, you’re moving alone.”  Touché.  Dad would’ve been bored out of his mind.  We even joked that if dad moved into a place like that, he would’ve snuck around the beautiful, manicured grounds digging holes just to have something to do.

Mom shouldn’t have been that surprised when dad went for a walk in their vacation, beach, weekend spot and upon returning announced that he’d found a new “project.”  The 1 acre, waterfront fixer upper had “Bob the Builder” written all over it.  And it was his project and his pride and joy for two years.  We’re just a little ticked – but not that surprised – that he ‘checked out’ before completing all the projects he’d started there.

Mike and I have been toying with the idea of taking out our mud-pit, drainage-challenged side yard and putting in a gravel and/or tile patio for a little grilling area.  I’ve been eying the pieces and scraps of tile and leftover kitchen granite that dad had stacked in their garage. I’ll be bringing it home in the next couple of weeks.  He even had a couple of old cabinets that I might be able to “DIY” – up for the outdoor kitchen project.  Perhaps we’ll get a plaque and call it the “Bob the Builder Memorial Outdoor Kitchen.”

Two summers ago, Dad and I worked together staining our deck here.  Last Spring, Dad announced that we would be having a ‘work party’ to clean up some of the ravine in the back.  Oh really?  I thought (not pumped about tackling the project).  But sure enough, he showed up and always with his ‘bag.’  Sometimes, when he’d be helping us with a project (like when he and Mike ‘finished’ the unfinished laundry room at our old house or when he was helping us get through the ‘inspection’ list for selling the house), he would bring his bag and just store it in the garage or bathroom closet.  He left his work shoes and clothes and some of his tools here because he knew he’d be back to work.

Well, a few days ago, I couldn’t help but smile as I brought my ‘bag’ to their Bellevue condo.  With mom selling it, I knew there were a few projects to do that I’d be able to help with.  I brought some of my painting supplies, a couple of my preferred tools and my crappy paint-stained work clothes. I stuck my bag on the floor of dad’s bathroom closet.

Dad would be proud.
First BIG house project.  Top floor addition.

D-dad teaching the boys how to change the oil.  (We have yet to put their skills to the test).

Front door column at the beach house.

King of his castle (or pile of yard overgrowth).  They cleared out 25 truck loads.

Painting in the beach house.

Working with Bob the Builder at the childrens' museum.

Happy place.

More work time with D-dad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

This just in...birthday cancelled

I'm cancelling my birthday this year.  It was probably going to be extra sucky-hard anyway like all ‘special days’ are right now, so I think I just won't bother.  Even Mike -- who is usually awesome at spoiling me 'cuz he knows I'm a high maintenance, stuck up, self-involved birthday diva, has several times made comments to mentally prepare me for potential lack of over-the-top birthdayness.  (And to be clear, all his statements are completely true, I don’t argue with any of them, and I hope he knows that I totally agree and am on board.  He does now!  It’s in writing.  You’ve all seen it.  He better not get me anything for my birthday.  If he does you all have my permission to berate him).  He’s said the following:  "We're really over-budget already this month.” [True and totes my fault.]  “I'm not sure what I'm going to get you.” [Again, he shouldn’t be getting me anything.].  “I don't know when I'll have time to go shopping."  [First of all.  shopping for what and with what money?  Secondly, yeah, this week, we’ve got baseball Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  Wednesday – our one, baseball-free weeknight, we’re mentoring an engaged couple from church.  How is he supposed to fit in shopping (even if we had extra wads of cash lying around) with that kind of schedule?!  It’s crazy talk.]  I’m not good at math but I’m pretty sure, No Time + No $ + No Shopping = No Birthday Presents which = JUST FINE!!
(As a quick reminder, I’m such a birthday diva that: once, I was convinced an awesome teacher in high school – who knew it was my birthday as I made sure anyone interacting within 50 miles of me knew it – was joking when she said our end of the year physics final would be on May 24th.  It had to be a joke, that jokester!  I failed that test.  Many years later, I was home alone with a toddler Matthew and baby Zachary having a pity party about the lack of birthday festivities, I heard the garage door open and was convinced we were being broken into my birthday.  I was prepared to scare said-robber away with my ‘it’s my birthday get the stank outta my house’ tantrum….it was Mike coming home to surprise me with the news that I got to go have a massage…and then return to a surprise party at the house.  Again, he knows how I roll come birthday time.)
Also, a major change in my birthday for this year is already underway.  For the past, hmmm, many, many years, we’ve celebrated my birthday/Memorial Day weekend with my parents and brother at the beach condo/house.  Up until yesterday, in discussions with my mom, we were still thinking that we could do this.  And then, we had our wake up call.  See, Mom’s decided to sell their local condo.  She will be moving to a swanky, gorgeous ‘cruise ship on land’ retirement home and WE COULDN’T BE HAPPY FOR HER.  It’s perfect.  She’s SO happy about it and we really, REALLY encouraged her to follow her gut and make this move.  My brother Chris will, therefore, also be making a HUGE move.  For the first time ever he’ll be living on his own – but the beauty is, we found him an awesome little studio apartment ACROSS THE STREET from Mom’s place.  He’ll be able to walk to work, spend every evening with Mom if he wants and also get into a new routine of having some independence.  This is a huge change.  But Chris, being one who loves routine and the comfort of what he knows, has already had his life turned upside down.  With Dad’s sudden death, Chris’ entire world (and ours, but especially his) was shaken up.  We really feel that while Mom is healthy and able to help him make this transition it makes sense to do it now, rather than wait until another big something happens and maybe Mom isn’t as able to help.  It’s perfect.  It’s awesome.  We’re all excited and happy about it…but until the moves are all done, there’s a wee-bit-o work to do.

So, back to me-me-me and my-my-my, and why I’m cancelling my birthday.  Mom is listing the condo with a real estate agent and that lady came in like a tornado yesterday giving her ginormous list of to-do’s.  (Nothing TOO crazy, but still A LOT for a widow to handle: removing pictures, patching nail holes, repainting a room, downsizing/rearranging furniture, etc.)  We’re already looking at the looming deadline of June 2nd – when Chris gets to move into his new ‘bachelor pad’ (woot woot)!  And now, we have just a few days to get their place ‘show-ready.’  Not to mention, that eventually before SHE moves (by July 3rd) we’ll need to downsize from 3000 to 1000 square feet. 

I’m Pa-RAYING that this place sells quickly (which we’ve been told it will – it’s a large, waterfront condo in a very desirable area with a private elevator inside.  C’mon St. Joseph!).  So, in order to help this all go as smoothly as possible, I’m cancelling my birthday and I’m 100% OK with it.  For reals.  Mom is overwhelmed and has such a heavy load to carry.  I want – and need – to help as much as possible.  I’m checking my ego at the door, friends.  Hmm!  Maybe that’s a sign of maturity! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Zachary's First Communion

Yesterday was one of those special days for our family.  We had a beautiful day celebrating Zachary’s First Holy Communion.  He did an amazing job – he was perfect (and SO stinkin’ nervous beforehand).  Our amazing friends helped make the day so fun and spoiled Zach with awesome gifts.  Of course, my mom and Chris joined us in our reserved pew and then for the celebration afterwards.  Like she’s done for their Baptism parties and Matthew’s First Communion two years ago, Mom provided the cake.  I managed – unlike at Matthew’s First Communion – to hold it together and not get too emotional at Mass.  I knew this year was different.  If I opened the flood gates, we’d be in trouble; so I managed to keep the tears (mostly) reserved for last night after everyone had left.  It’s just so frustrating how these days are great and special but are also so hard because my dad isn’t here.  He’s supposed to be here for these events.  It just doesn’t make sense that he’s not.  I know he had the ‘best seat in the house’ and all, but I just miss him, and I’m sad the kids don’t have him here to help celebrate their achievements.  He’d be so proud of Zach. 
I'm not sure what both boys are looking at, but it's not the camera.

We had to have a 'wardrobe change' seconds before we walked out the door.  Kayli got an adorable new sundress from Uncle Timothy and Rebecca and was ready to go...until I noticed a big old spot 'o peanut butter smack dab in the middle the skirt (thanks to her pre-church departure snack).  The dress is now peanut butter free and will be ready for Memorial Day, the 4th of July and other fun events!
This is the most 'holding still' we can ever get Kayli to do...something's still gotta be moving apparently.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Matthew pitched for the first time ever at one of our games last week.  I was so excited/nervous, I was pretty sure Mama Coach could’ve used a Xanax.
He. Looked. Amazing.  Yes, I’m biased, but still.  The fact that my emotional, sensitive and sometimes anxiety boy could handle the pressure was so impressive (and, yeah, a little surprising).  He did a good job of stepping off the mound and ‘shaking it off’ if he’d walked a batter or they got a hit on him. 
Proud parenting moment.  Sure wish my dad was here to share it with.  He’d be (is) so proud of his grandson.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Ninja Madness

The weekend – especially Saturday – was busy.  Jam-slam-packed busy but also super fun times.  I dropped Kayli and Zach off to play at our neighbors’ house at 9am and continued on my way to join Matthew’s/our little league team.  We were playing our first out-of-league team and had no idea how we’d stack up (plus it was only our 2nd game this season as we’ve already had five rain-outs.  Good thing they over-scheduled us like crazy, I suppose). 
The games now are SO much fun.  I love watching our pitchers – these dinky little 8-10 year old boys who get so intense and so focused.  You can sometimes see their mouths moving as they mumble to themselves trying to shake off another batter just walked.  And because it is kid-pitch, there are plenty of bad pitches which result in stolen bases.  The games are way more entertaining than coach pitch.
Matthew’s first at-bat today was a doozy.  He stunk it up big time at practice yesterday making no contact.  I told him then, he got it out of his system so he’d be ready for today’s game.  Mmm, I know wassup. 2 outs, bases loaded and a full count on him.  He hit a solid double, scoring three for our team.  Rock star.  His 2nd at bat, he ‘wore’ the pitch nicely catching the ball with his booty.  Third at bat, the pitcher hit him in the belt.  (A lot of kids get hit with a kid pitcher too).  The sun even came out during our game and best of all, we won!  20-11!!
I left our baseball field and met up with our neighbor Melissa at a different baseball field (where their team was getting ready to play), I picked up our younger two and their youngest one, brought everybody home – lunched ‘em, put theirs down for a nap and spent a couple of hours getting ready for Zachary’s birthday party.
We had 12 boys (and a handful of little girls) join us for Zachary’s ninja-themed party.  Stringing ribbon across the walls and doorways, Mike and I made a ninja training course in the hallway upstairs.   The kids enjoyed climbing under and over and through that.  We made a pin-the-mask on the Zachary-ninja (Mike actually photo-shopped Zach’s face on).  The first kid who was blind-folded placed the mask perfectly on the poster Zach’s…crotch-region.  Let me tell you this was the funniest possible thing EVER to twelve 7-10 year old boys.  It was pretty hilarious.  Our last organized activity was Ninja Bingo (including the picture of Ninja Zachary).  I just googled images of different ninja-y things (including Lego Ninjago, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.) 
After the party, I brought our neighbors’ daughter home to put her to bed while they went out for a date night (we swap months – watching each others’ kids and getting to go out).  I must admit, I didn’t mind leaving the crazy birthday party mess behind to sit in their blissfully quiet, clean and ninja-free home.