Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Handsome

Ok, so I am about 5 or 6 blog posts behind OMG.  It's not that I don't think about blogging.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I DO think about it.  But actually typing something up?  Sooooo overwhelming lately.  I blame it on the season.  We'll go with that.

But today, while my heart is in my throat and my eyes are constantly on the verge of tearing up, I knew I should write well it's fresh.

My first baby, the child who made me a Mom, is growing up right before my eyes.  It's cliche, and corny, yes, but if you haven't yet been through it?  It's SO strange.

When I started this blog, Eldest was but a mere FIVE years old.  He's now THIRTEEN.  And the changes in him are coming fast and furious.  I swear he grows taller everyday.  (Although he's still pretty short compared to his classmates.)   He's quieter.  Deeper.  Sullen at times.  He babysits his brothers.  He gets firewood for the woodstove daily.  He makes his own meals.  He's wearing braces (and headgear at night). He does his own laundry.  He laughs and ugh, understands, adult humor.  He gets zits.  He's quick-witted and can fight back with sarcasm (much to my delight).

And when he kisses me goodnight (which he still does every.single.night), I pretend not to feel those stray scratchy hairs above his lip.

So now he's on his first official school team.  The middle school basketball team.  Where they either have practice or games after school 5 days a week (and hence, we lose our babysitter). 

Today is his team's very first away game.  Which entails him staying after school, riding on a bus to the game, and then calling us to pick him up when he's back.  Wow.

It also entails a dress code for away games.  Pants, shirt, tie.  Ummmm...have you met my sons?  They are Sporty Sport Sport Jocks.  (I just made that up.)  It's all Under Armour/Nike/Adidas/Reebok/etc. etc. up in here.  New jeans go unworn.  Collared shirts hang futilely on hangers, gathering dust.  I fight all.the.time for my boys to wear "handsome" clothes and am met with COMPLETE resistance.

But now the tides are turning.  Suddenly I have one at an age where he's *required* to dress up.  And oh, how that makes this Momma's heart trill with delight.

It required us starting from scratch.  I was soooo excited to think about shopping with Eldest for some *real* clothes.  Yet my bubble was burst pretty quickly by Hubby, when he proclaimed that he would take his son shopping for dress-up clothes.  Dang it.

And so they went.  And so they bought.

Last night was a vision I will keep locked in my Mother Memory Bank forever.  The two of them, father and son, standing in tandem at the bathroom mirror, with Hubby showing Eldest how to tie his tie.

All those years ago, when I complained both out loud to the universe and here on my blog about wanting to rush time?  Wanting to not have life be so hard with babies?   Wishing that they would just.get.bigger?

I take it all back.

One of the very first pictures of Eldest that I posted here on this blog.

Today.








Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Luna

I'm not a dog person, per se.  Never have been.  Growing up, we never had any pets.  My first, I guess, "official" pet was my college boyfriend's yellow labrador that he had at school and then we had him post-college when we moved down south.  But I lost custody in the break-up, and that was that.

And then, a husband and 3 boys later, we inherited Sunshine.  Sunshine met her untimely and oh so sad fate last August 2013.

It took a bit of time for the boys (and Hubby and me) to grieve.  We all missed Sunshine terribly.  But then, soon(er than I would have liked), they were ready.  Ready for a new doggie to love.

We managed to postpone this huDge family decision for quite a while.  You see, we are ALWAYS BUSY with sports!  Baseball season lasted this year from April until August and then football ran from August until November!  So it was easy to procrastinate, yet we ultimately knew that another dog would be in our future.

Hubby and I started looking this fall, right around the time Eldest made his birthday list and the #1 item on it was a dog.  Then, in late fall, the boys started talking about Christmas.  Sure enough, each of them requested a new dog.

We knew we had to (and wanted to) pull the trigger.  Our thought was that if we could find a female Cavachon before Christmas, and before the winter weather hit, then all the better.

And so it came to pass, on November 1st, unbeknownst to the boys, Hubby and I visited a kennel and looked at 2 female Cavachon pups and 2 female Zuchon pups.  Zuchons (also known as Shihchons and also known as the "teddy bear" breed) are a mix of a Shih-tzu and a Bichon Frise.

Little Luna (get it?  We had Sunshine and now we had Luna.) stole our hearts.  She was ours.




Needless to say, the boys were thrilled with our wittle 3 pound (!) bundle of joy.  We took her for her first vet check on November 6 and she was good, except a little underweight (2lb, 8oz).

By Friday night, her little puppy nose started running and she was blowing teeny bubbles out of it.  A puppy cold.

Saturday, I left for my girls' overnight.

By the time I returned on Sunday, Hubby was anxious.  Luna was getting sicker.  She was very lethargic, not eating or drinking, and still had the runny nose, and now, a cough.

Bad timing.  I had to leave for a 3-day work trip early Monday morning, so Hubby was on his own.  He took her to the vet that day.  She was diagnosed with pneumonia and given an antibiotic.

Unfortunately, the antibiotic didn't really kick in.  She wasn't getting any better.

Our vet recommended taking her to an animal hospital for treatment.  Mind you, we had only had her less than 2 weeks.  ($$$$)

The kennel where we got her had a 14-day unconditional health guarantee on their dogs.  We had to make a decision.

So on Wednesday, November 12th, Hubby returned her to the kennel for them to treat her, and we waived our rights to her while awaiting a full refund.  He also had to be home when the boys returned from school, to tell them that their new puppy was gone.  (All this while I was still in South Carolina for work, heartbroken.)

You guys, it SUCKED.  For all of us.  (And especially for Luna.)

It is now December.  We STILL don't have her back.  Every Friday, we call the kennel to check in.  (She was placed on a stronger antibiotic and has been in quarantine from the other dogs.) She still has coughing and congestion, but they assure us she is indeed getting better.  We are receiving our refund this week, but will have first dibs on her when/if she's healthy, if we should want.

This is where we are torn.  And heartbroken over a dog.  (Again.)

1.  Do we stick it out and wait on Luna to come home to us, her family?  But have the antibiotics done any long-term damage to her tiny 3lb body?  Organ damage?  (Our personal vet said she could run some tests on her when/if we get her back to check for kidney problems.)

2.  Or do we cut the ties?  Get our money back and be done.  Move on.  Find a new (healthy) little puppy to love?

All 3 boys are taking this better than Hubby and me.  They're resilient.  They were attached to Luna, yes, but not so much.  It was only 12 days.  They just want A PUPPY.

Any suggestions and advice appreciated.  We are struggling here.












Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blogstipation and Catching Up

Oh hey there.  Pardon me for a sec while I dust off the keyboard here.  With anything, the longer you go without doing something, the harder it is to jump back into it, amirite?  Exercising Blogging especially.  And now I'm totally backed up....

Which leads me to Halloween.  Only a mere 2-1/2 weeks ago.

Applying fake blood on the tough football player.  That he immediately smeared all over his jersey and eventually wiped off before even leaving the house.  Bygones.

It was a fun night.

This was the first year in the history of ever that we left our Trenches dark. 

Youngest and his BFF in their superscary matching outfits.

Pre trick or treating

The loot was fantastic this year.  It's Middle's most favorite holiday.  He canvasses the neighborhood like it's his job, leaving no doorbell unrung.


I will miss these days as they get older and Halloween becomes more about the mischief rather than getting all the Twix bars for Auntie Kate and the Butterfinger bars for Momma.

Monday, October 27, 2014

That Time I Met Donnie and Jenny

Honestly, for the amount of bad blog pitches I get in my inbox in a day -

"Review and give away this set of hair bows!"  (I have boys.)

"Review this baby product!"  (I no longer have baby boys.)

"Write about this in exchange for a link!  Write about that in exchange for...nothing!  Tell your network to like our FB page!  Tweet out our information!"  (Ummmm, no.)

Every once in a while (the ratio is about 90% bad; 10% decent), something good comes my way.  Sometimes it's trips.  Sometimes it's getting to try good stuff.  And sometimes it's meeting famous people (three times!)

This was one of those times.

Especially because my entire family watches Wahlburgers and we are jonesing to hit up their burger joint in Hingham (but man, it's quite a hike from where we live in MA).

So this was an event for Canon - the PIXMA Pro City Senses interactive gallery.  In Boston.  My Sis (a die-hard NKOTB fan back in the day) and I made the trek into the city.



Touted as a "sensory photo exhibition", we were led through a series of stations that shared the featured photographers' visions of Boston through smell (barley/hops), hearing (a train station), taste (clam chowdah!) and touch (cobblestone).

My Sis and me 

Other fab Boston bloggers in attendance:  Lori, Nicole, Robin and Annmarie

And then we all eagerly awaited the arrival of the guest of honor - none other than Boston's own Donnie Wahlberg:

Dang, he's dapper.  And cute.  And funny.

 That'd be me:  front row, denim jacket, obnoxiously holding up cell phone.  Yup.

But newlywed Donnie wasn't alone.  Seems he brought his lovely new wife Jenny McCarthy as well! 

Jenny was super gracious and funny and gorgeous, not minding for a second the women who were flocking to her husband.  I totally liked that about her.  We had a moment.

Selfie that my new BFF Jenny took with my phone.

Blogging, man.  Some days it's a drag.  Some days/weeks my site languishes and I have to brush off the cobwebs.  Some days my inbox is chock full of annoying e-mails from clueless PR reps wasting my time.  But then there's stuff like this.  And all is right with my world again.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Navigating Napa: Top 5 Winery Recommendations


First of all, let me preface this by saying that if you're going to Napa, you really can't go wrong when it comes to winery tours and tastings.  All of them are unique.  Each place has their own character and flair.  There's really nothing NOT to like.  All you really need to tour is a car, a map, and a listing of wineries that don't require appointments.  And a designated driver, of course.

 The circled wineries are the ones we visited during our 5 days.  
There were, um, a lot.

[Aside:  We only went to the wineries that didn't require appointments.  I'm not sure what the difference is, but if you're not into planning and scheduling every moment, then this option is for you.  There are a TON of wineries that you can just walk right in and do a tasting.]

Oooh, and another tip:  If you are with a group of people, you don't have to each buy a tasting flight!  We figured out pretty quickly that most staff will let you split a tasting, thus saving on your cost...and your tipsiness.  You're welcome.

1.  Sterling Vineyards:   This was one that had been recommended to us, as it's unique because there's an aeriel tram that takes you up a hill to the winery.  The wine wasn't that great (pretty mediocre), but the location and scenery and experience are well worth it.  This one was also a little off the beaten path.



Who knew?

2.  William Hill Estate Winery:  Funnily enough,  I had a glass of this chardonnay with my Mom the night before we left for our trip!  And then I had much more some at the resort the day we arrived.  AND THEN we discovered it was right down the street!  So this was a must-see.  It was worth the visit.  We actually meant to go back there, buy a bottle of wine, and sit outside.  It was gorgeous.  Their chardonnay is my new favorite.

 
 

3.  Darioush:  This was another winery we found randomly and decided to stop.  Of all the (many) wineries we saw, this one was, by far, the most gorgeous and ornate and breathtaking.  It was simply palatial.  My chintzy pictures don't do it justice.



4.  Raymond Vineyards:  This one was the funkiest of the bunch.  Very artsy and modern and COOL.  (Although my husband wasn't a big fan of their reds.)  We had fun taking pictures at this one.




5.  Artesa:  This was one that had been recommended to me more than once.  It was another one off the beaten path, but oh so worth the trip.  With gorgeous 360 degree panoramic views and a pretty cool gift shop, I would definitely recommend seeing this place.  (Disclaimer:  I didn't have any of their wine because by that day, I was all wined-out.  True story.)



All in all, it was definitely a fabulous trip and I'm happy to help others out (as they helped me) with vacation planning to Napa!  Now when can I go back?!



Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Navigating Napa: Restaurant Recommendations


It honestly seems like all we did in Napa was eat and drink.  Needless to say, I have LOTS of restaurant recommendations for you!  I'll narrow the food choices down to the ones that stood out for me.

1. Auberge du Soleil:  Based on a recommendation at one of the wineries, we stopped at this restaurant for lunch (without a reservation, but it was around 2pm) and had food and drinks on the terrace.  It was AH-MAY-ZING.  Especially the view.  We ate in the bar & bistro part of the restaurant, which was less pricier and less fancy than the restaurant part.  *imagine gorgeous food picture here since I didn't take one I'm not a food blogger*


2.  Market:  This was another lunchtime stop.  We dined there on a Saturday with a party of 10 and had made a reservation, so we got right in.  This restaurant is in downtown St. Helena, which is a super cute area with shops and restaurants and a laid-back California vibe.  I had their "famous" mac&cheese (diet?  what diet?) and it was spectacular. *imagine gorgeous food picture here since I didn't take one I'm not a food blogger*

3.  Cole's Chop House:  This was one of those late night dinners with clients that was good, but regretful.  Good because the meal was superb, but regretful because an 8pm reservation on West Coast time means my body thinks its 11pm and I'm eating a huDge meal.  Ack.  This was a typical fancy steakhouse sort of place, equivalent to a Fleming's or a Morton's or a Ruth's Chris.  You can't go wrong.  And their strawberry lemondrop martini with a sugar rim was delish (but heartburn-y later).  *imagine gorgeous food picture here since I didn't take one I'm not a food blogger*

4.  Pacific Blues:  Located in downtown Yountville in the V Marketplace area, this restaurant was one we actually visited twice - once for lunch and once for drinks.  The menu was California basic fare, but the atmosphere and outdoor patio was great for people-watching and that whole area is bustling. *imagine gorgeous food picture here since I didn't take one I'm not a food blogger*



5.  Jefferson Cafe:  Based on a tip from the hotel staff, we went to this local diner (in a strip mall) (behind a car wash) for breakfast almost every.single.day.  It was THAT good.  Their mammoth breakfast burrito was a sight to see, and everything else we tried was also very very good.  Highly recommend this place off the beaten path. *And, you guessed it, imagine gorgeous food picture here since I didn't take one I'm not a food blogger*

Sunday, October 05, 2014

THIRTEEN

I can't believe we officially have a TEENAGER in the Trenches.

Son, it seems like just yesterday you made us parents for the very first time.


But you made it easy for us, with your mellow nature and laid-back attitude.   (Those big blue eyes!  That white-blonde hair!)


You became an awesome big brother.  A leader.  An example. 


Your Dad and I love your quick wit and your smooth sarcasm.  We love how you memorize funny movie lines.  We admire your dedication to sports.  We respect your quirks (you get that from Dad).



We are here to guide you as you continue on this path towards adulthood.  Being a teenager can be scary.  You will have to make tough choices--about friendships, about girls, about doing the right thing, about being kind to others.  We have faith in you.




Every once in a while, I glance over at you and see a flash of the man you will someday be.  Older, wiser, hairier, manlier.  Sometimes that essence of who you will become gets captured in a picture and I find myself breathless, knowing that someday (sooner than I would like), you will be that Grown Up Man.  Son, I see the Grown Up you in these pictures:



Just know, buddy, as you hit this milestone of officially being a teenager today, that Dad and I couldn't be prouder of the person you are.  Keep on leaping.

We love you.

(*sob*)




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