January has been all about re connecting for me and its sort of become a resolution for the year. I say sort of because I don’t really do resolutions. Until this year I guess because I’m holding myself to it. I don’t normally write on the site, my contributions come in the form of pictures. I may not always get credit but about 98% of the pictures are the product of my day to day trigger happy finger. I’m writing now as another way to reach out to those of you that read along but also so the kids can hear my voice as well, because they were the reason the blog was created in the first place. I’ll do my best to write a post a month, this one is late because I have just stepped out of a Quarantine Zone and I didn’t have my laptop with me. Back to that later.
This whole idea about reconnecting came to be on the 2nd day of our trip home to Iowa. I have only been home a few times since I moved away in 2003. The last time when my grandmother passed away in March of 2009. It’s been a really long time and I was filled with emotions about the weekend. The fist night back we had a casual dinner at my Dad’s house with my Mom and Tom, and Joel and Melanie, it was our last little Christmas celebration for the kids. Grandma Chris couldn’t help herself and went totally over board on toys. One in particular had to be left behind because Ava and Elise could not agree on who he belonged to. The kids had a blast celebrating Christmas again, and Ava is convinced that we have Christmas all the time now because we had several celebrations this year. It was great to have everyone back home even if for only a night.
The next day was filled with a first class tour of Cedar Rapids, and an afternoon back at home with our friends! My girlfriend, Jodi and her two girls came to stay at my Dad’s. They got there early that afternoon giving us lots of time to catch up and for the kids to get to know each other. Its funny how similar our kids are; Jodi’s oldest and Ava are both bold and strong willed, while her youngest and Elise are both sweet and tender. it didn’t take the kids long before they were all running mad around the house as if we meet up here all the time. Meanwhile, Jodi and myself were sitting comfortably drinking wine. It was the perfect night in for me and the kids, while Micheal hit the town hard with my brother and Melanie. He did not enjoy pancakes and bacon the next morning quite and much as the rest of us but he never complained. During and after breakfast the house filled with more friends and family of friends. We laughed at old pictures and had coffee while the kids continued to fight, (but still play nicely) over the same dang toy. The morning came and went fast and before you knew it we were heading over to my Uncle Devin’s house. Devin had put out an open invitation to everyone on my mom’s side of the family to come over for football and food. We have not all been together for nearly 13 years so this was long over due.
Being together with my family as if no time had passed was amazing. I really had no idea what to expect and I think that everyone went into it with a positive attitude and it showed. The kids had a great time because the man cave we were in is more like a funtorium. I had a great time because it helped me, and all of my family move forward. In that respect it changed my life. I will make sure that I make the effort to see my family more. I will keep the past in the past. Leaving the party that afternoon I actually felt sad, not to say good bye, (although there were some people I barely got to see) sad because I let so much time go by without having most of these people in my life. Sad that for the most part they don’t know me and they’ve never been given the chance to know my family. For the first time I really felt the loss. It hurt,a lot, but it also fueled a fire to do things better.
The anniversary party the next day went off perfectly. We took a 1,000 family photos before hand and those of us that were feeling any nerves got a chance to see the room set up and practice a bit. The place was a perfect venue for such an event. For starters the heated parking garage was lovely. It was a blistery 2 degrees out so not having to step foot outside was very much appreciated. The venue, opened up to a grand entry way with a huge christmas tree (it was only Jan 10th) and a lovely chandelier. Our space in the grand ballroom had a 3 piece band set up, a small stage, food and dessert tables, sign in table, bar, kids area and 10 large round tables. We had an estimated 125 guests attend from all different phases of my grandparents life. I truthfully only recognized about 30% of the people there, but my grandparents were buzzing from group to group the whole time and it was obvious to see that they were enjoying every minute.
My Grandfather had the whole room laughing during the ceremony over a joke about a would be girlfriend named Laila. My uncle had us all crying as he opened up with a speech about what it was like to grow up in this family, and how far we have all come. My Grandma read a beautiful poem for her vows and my Grandpa flew from the hip. They were both extremely toughing. Sadly, most of my time and hard work was thrown out the door when my Grandpa got trigger happy with the secret ring. He pulled it out of his pocket early and cut me off. It went as it should though. It was funny, touching, memorable, and a really cool collaborative effort. I loved having this little project of sorts to give me extra reason to think about my family, I’m sad that its over. My Grandparents truly are and have something to admire. In order for Michael and I to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary we will have to live to be 90 years old. Wow.
The rest of our trip was filled with either nights out or nights in, both with large groups of loved ones. Some related, some not technically so. I didn’t realize how much I needed this trip until I was living it. I know we won’t be able to fit another trip in for a few years, maybe 2 or 3, but it won’t be too long and I already look forward to it.
The weekend following our trip to Iowa, my friend Laurel and her boyfriend, Mark, flew in for a week long trip. We hosted a family taco night the first weekend and I think everyone had a good time, kids included. We all hung out till much later than I think anyone expected, but time just slipped by and no one seemed to notice (maybe the men noticed a bit). The following weekend I went out for my first downtown overnight, first without Michael that is. I met up with Laurel and Solana and we hit the town for a late dinner at one of Laurel and I’s favorite spots, Matt’s at the Market. We stopped at a few places along the way, my favorite being Radiator Whiskey. An old friend of mine works there and its directly across from our dinner spot so it was a given that we go. Its a really cool, small, prohibition style saloon. I’d love to go check out dinner there at some point but there never seems to be enough time. After dinner we stopped into Gaucho for a drink then wandered around Belltown for a bit before ending the night with a few dances and beers at Kells in Post Alley. The ladies and I had a very memorable night and I think it’s safe to say that recovery was harder than we’d like to admit.
We only had one normal week in between visits before my Mom arrived for Enzo’s birthday. Rita followed a few days later. We hosted his party at a bowling alley strangely enough. It wasn’t your typical first birthday but I think we all had fun. Everyone but Elise got out and bowled at least once. Michael even took Enzo out so he could push a ball down the ramp for a frame. The rest of the time the birthday boy was happy to wander around the arcade or spy on other partiers. Elise found a spot right next to the cheese fires and chicken tenders and exclaimed to more than one person “I’m having fun at the Bowling Alley”. She just enjoys seeing all of our family and friends, and eating of course. No surprise at all that Ava was a total champ. She got right in there and bowled a whole 10 frames with everyone. She seemed to love being a part of everything but I don’t think she understood the object of the game. I didn’t get a chance to bowl a whole game but the few attempts that I made were solid. Surprisingly so. Hands down though, the best part of the party was the cake. First birthdays are always fun when its cake time but its not so often that you put the kid and their cake right in the middle of the bowling alley. I laid out a disposable table cloth on top of the bar top separating the lanes from the food area. This meant he was sitting up on a pedestal of sorts in the midst of all the bowling chaos, he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. He sat nice and still eating a mini green monster cake. He took his time and made sure to smear it all over himself. Just like his dad, he ate slowly and got a little messy. A lot messy. We had to rinse him off in the bathroom sink afterward and send the poor kid back out to say good bye to everyone with no pants on.
It was our first time having a birthday party outside of the house and I’m sure that more and more of them will be at new venues as well. It was nice to have minimal set up and no clean up. It was nice to have an activity that everyone, young and old, could enjoy. It lacked the personal touches of homemade ravioli and cake around the table. Enzo doesn’t know the difference and will likely be the kind of kid that doesn’t care one way or another. I’m just a little sad that the last of our first birthdays is over and my baby boy is already running and talking. We survived a year as a family of five and dang, it went by fast. Without these blogs to look back on I can barely remember it all. He’s turning into an adventurous, outspoken, fun loving little boy and he definitely completes our family.
I had planned to publish this post the last day of the month but the night after Enzo’s party the house became a Quarantine Zone and we all suffered from the Black Plague, Grandma and Nana included. It was a miserable several days as we passed the bug around the house and no one quite recovered before they felt sick with chills and nausea all over again. I can honestly say that for a whole day while I lie in bed I thought to myself “This is worse than recovery from natural child birth, much worse”. We are only just now barely coming out to see the light. Both Grandma and Nanna got home safely and probably fell into a deep sleep. Now we’re just trying to get back to a normal routine.