Archive for category Va

I want more Uncle

At the grocery store last weekend, I found my way to the potato chip aisle—looking for ricecakes of course.

Behind me, I could hear a little voice coming from the shopping cart.

“I want Uncle.”

Trying so hard to ignore ridiculous toddler requests, I didn’t respond.

“Uncle!! Mama, I want UNCLE!”

I turn around to see Jack pointing at the broad spectrum of Lay’s potato chips.

He continued to chant, “UNCLE, uncle, mama, I want UNCLE! PLEEEEEEEEEEAASE!”

I got the hell out of that aisle faster than you could say ricecake.

So, yes.  Our 2 year old adores his crazy uncle so much that anything he associates with my quirky brother, he thinks they’re called “uncle.”  Potato chips, you see, are the frequent sidedish to ALL of my brothers meals next to the vegetables, rice and whatever else might be served.  Every meal.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Potato Chips.

And when we visit, guess what Jack also gets unbeknownst to me?  Yeah, handfuls of “uncles.”

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Pretzels, by the way, are also uncles.  As are Pirate’s Booty and popcorn too.  I guess we can assume that until further notice any snacky kind of food, especially the kind we don’t have in our house, will be referred to as “uncles.”

All that driving and picking up our lives and living out of suitcases for days at a time over the holidays?  Yeah, it’s little nuances like this, that make it so worth it.  If there’s anything–ANYTHING–we want to give Jack in this big, big world, it’s to provide the warmth and closeness of family, no matter how far we are.

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been home, and though I’m STILL trying to get my life back in order and get caught up, Jack still can’t stop talking about “going to the Beach” and “going to Yoyo’s house.”  It might make my heart ache when he pouts about missing Uncle and everyone else, but it makes me realize, that even at 2, just how much he appreciates our sacrifices along the way.

And the uncle/potato chip misnomer? ha.  He’ll never live that down. And if I have it my way, maybe uncle John can switch up his eating “routine” and switch the chips for something less gross.  How about it, John?

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The holidays in rewind

**hello**  (((((((echo)))))

I know, it’s been way too long since I’ve updated over here.  Once again, I’ve been neglectful.  Alas, it’s a new year, which basically means I’m going to reshift my priorities again and TRY AGAIN to do what’s important to me, too.
All this mothering and pleasing other people crap is weighing me down, and quite honestly, has me in a funk.  Then again, so is the whole getting dark at 4pm stuff…

My new favorite ornament

So, yes, since I left you, we were gearing up for the holidays.  Oh, I had so many stories I wanted to share…if there was only more time in the day and less tantrums to extinguish—mine, not the kid’s!

I know all of you have had your decorations and trees put away for weeks, so bear with me on sharing a few of these stories so late. It’s almost Easter and all…and I’m just now getting around to talking about Christmas. haha. Story of my life.

Christmas, my most favorite time of year, flashed before our eyes and was done just like *that.*  But what a magical Christmas it was.

At this stage in the game, actually, within the past 2 months Jack has become so imaginative and verbal.  And when I say verbal, it’s beyond the one word sentences and repitition.  He caught on to all the holiday buzz words, like Sansa (Santa), Chrimmas (Christmas) and anything resembling a Christmas Tree was, of course, a Sansa Tree.  He’d see a wreath and say, “oooh a Sansa Tree!”  And in NYC, every where we went, there was some kind of Sansa Tree or Sansa himself.  It was glorious!

This year’s trip to Macy’s was amazing.  As usual, we went the first thing in the morning in mid-December and braved the crowds.  Thankfully, we were in and out of there in less than an hour!  We enjoyed Santaland and the trains and the beautiful decorations while we waited in line.
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Seriously, the line moved so fast and efficiently this year, we almost didn’t have time to stop and gawk at the billion different things to see in Santaland.  Jack adored the massive train displays as much as Sansa himself.  Seeing Santa at the Macy’s in Herald Square is one of my most favorite family Christmas traditions, and I’m so glad we’re able to “give” Jack such fun experiences.

The rest of the days and short weeks leading up to the holidays were spent working on NKT and attending various events.  By the end, I was so braindead and Jack, poor Jack, he was bored and ready to play as always!

The day before we left for Va. for the holidays, I insisted on taking Jack to see the tree in Rockefeller Center.  Because it’s easier to go during the day rather than at night, we didn’t get the full effect, but we did enjoy the massive tree and breathtaking sights around us.  The celebration on TV for the treelighting really doesn’t do it enough justice.  Christmas in the City is pretty awesome and Rockefeller Center is the epicenter of it all.

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And then the next day, we packed our bags into the car, amidst the snow piles and headed south…

I’ll have to do a photo essay thing on Christmas with the folks, so more on that crazy fun later.

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I think I tweeted something about having so many emotions about this past trip home for Christmas, which is probably an understatement.  With our families so firmly planted in Va., I realized that if Jack is ever going to have strong relationships with them, then it’s mostly on us.

It’s our choice to live here to expand our horizons, but unfortunately, the visits will be scarce.  What will that mean?  It could mean, not as many trips to Va so we can maybe focus on OUR family for a change?  The same amount of visits so we can continue spending money that we could be saving for a house, so we can move out before we kill each other in this tiny space?  Or how about just wallow in guilt because we can’t make everyone happy, including Jack?

We’ve stopped asking people to visit because well, everyone has work, life and everything else going on.  Besides, I hear it’s expensive to visit NYC and small spaces are undesirable ;)
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I couldn’t get out of Va. fast enough after I finished college, so it’s kind of ironic that our kid constantly asks to go to Yoyo’s house.  and Papa’s house.  and to see Uncle John.  All the live-long day this kid rips my heart out with this cadence of asking to go to Va.

My life’s conflict is like a shapeshifter—like, now it’s in a stranglehold by a toddler who knows just what he wants.

And right now, it’s 350 miles away at Yoyo’s house.

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Rocking out in between the tantrums

It’s kind of crazy how Christmas completely snuck up on me this year.  I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this, but this year, I’m so not ready.

No, really, I just put away our light-up pumpkins yesterday.  Per usual, I’m always on the ball.

You’d think with the lack of blogging and no updates over here, I’d get some of that stuff accomplished!

So, what HAVE I been doing?  Let’s see…besides negotiating my sanity while prying a sometimes-tempermental two-year old off of the ground and catching Evil Kneivel before he leaps off of the couch HEAD FIRST, I haven’t been doing much.

Who has the time or energy to do anything after all of that?

Certainly not me.

So, there you have it.  I’ve been in a slump.  Now that we’re knee-deep with being Two, things have been tricky.

I know I’m not the first or last to endure the “Terrible Twos,” but it’s tough.  (By the way, I freaking hate the term as much as the phase itself.)

Thank goodness the good moments outnumber all the temper tantrums and mischief.  It’s really not ALL that bad, but Mondays are so much more difficult, especially since we’re still reeling from being spoiled after being in Va. for two weeks. (Thank you, Lola!!)  After being together non-stop all weekend and then going back to just the two of us, Jack acts out at times, perhaps because he misses his dad.

In reality, things COULD be worse, but man, I’m exhausted both physically and mentally.  Two is kicking my ass.

Thank goodness for quiet time with ice cream and my computer.

*little rocker wanna be

When he isn’t busy driving me to the crazy house, Jack is so much fun.  As usual, we spend our days singing, dancing and playing music.  Remember how I mentioned he was spoiled while in Va?  Well, Uncle John caved into Jack’s current obsession with guitars and gave him his Christmas present early.  Since John works in the warehouse at Guitar Center, he took advantage of his discount and got Jack a real guitar, the Laguna Little Brat.

So, yes, when we watch our shows now, we’ve added his acoustic guitar accompaniment.  It’s hysterical!

I know he’s only two, but this kid really has a penchant for music.  Yeah, he loves trains and cars, but nothing quite compares to music.  Of all of his toys, his keyboard, bongos and guitar get the most wear and tear.  As we’re learning our alphabets and numbers, I’m compelled to start teaching him music theory, too.  (So I say…)

It was funny, over Thanksgiving, a few relatives came over to mom’s house and noticed Jack rocking out on one of his guitars there. My mom was explaining Jack’s love for music, and how she remembered him dancing crazily to Tchaikovsky‘s Waltz of the Flowers on HBO’s Classical Baby before he could even crawl.  Mom went on to tell our relatives that she thinks Jack’s love for music has grown even more after attending various live shows.

I’m so excited to see his love for music flourish.  I have a lot of friends that are all into putting their kids into sports as soon as they can, but me, I’ll take the kid to as many kiddie rock shows as I possibly can.

I guess this is when I start brushing up on my piano playing and You Tube a few guitar tutorials for myself?

Of course, as soon as we grow out of the uncontrollable tantrums, provided I don’t go crazy before then :)

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And just like that, he’s 2!

It’s still so hard to believe that it’s already been 2 years since we brought home our bubbly, mischievous little boy. And to think, back then, I could actually carry him still and I didn’t have to run so damn much and had way less gray hair.

But, it’s all good. Contrary to all of my complaints, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’re all still recovering from a quick weekend in Va. to celebrate Jack’s birthday with the family. At this point, it feels like we’ll never catch up on things. At the very least though, I’ve uploaded some birthday photos on Flickr and Facebook. The actual blog posts, as usual, will come…eventually.

For now, enjoy a quick glimpse of my cute and innocent little guy.

My buddy is 2

Yeah right. Cute, sure. Innocent? Not so much :)

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Blissful craziness and growing pains

On the way back to NJ from a week-long trip to Virginia, I had 6.5 hours to think—to think about the reasons why I chose to move to NYC, the reasons that kept us from moving back to Va. and ultimately, how parenthood has changed everything about all of the above.  My feelings that are lingering from our trip parallel a memorable dialogue between Bob and Charlotte from Lost in Translation.

Bob: It gets a whole lot more complicated when you have kids.

Charlotte: It’s scary.

Bob: The most terrifying day of your life is the day the first one is born.

Charlotte: Nobody ever tells you that.

Bob: Your life, as you know it… is gone, never to return. But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.

I’ll be honest, I could’ve done 2 or 3 days in Va. and would’ve been done.  I say it all the time, but packing our lives up and putting things on hold isn’t always favorable, especially when it involves leaving Jeff behind.  But, as always, I thought “doing the right thing” was the right thing for us too, when in fact, I know better for next time.

It’s complicated, you know?

Jack enjoyed his time with my parents, my younger brother, his cousins, Jeff’s family and a few friends.  (a much lighter picture post to follow) But truly, the every month trips back and forth has worn on us—on our family.  The time, effort and expense it takes for every trip has become such a hurdle, especially when we come back feeling so emotionally and physically drained.

When are you supposed to put your own family’s needs first when you’ve always been expected to appease others?

Like our parents did before they started their own families, they set off to find their way.  In search of a “better” life, more opportunities and a place to settle: we’re doing, in essence, what they’ve done. But along the way, somehow gestures and words create complication; things that we cannot change, but instead, learn how to accept.  Language barriers, cultural barriers, generational gaps and difference in opinion all come to mind right about now.  Some call them growing pains, others simply write off as negativity.

It goes without saying that I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough in anticipation of returning back to our “normal” life.

Greeted by the flickering NYC skyline, the clammor of trash trucks and the coziness of our tiny apartment, I was so glad to leave one kind of chaos behind to replace with our own blissful craziness.  Just Jeff, Jack, me and our teeny tiny apartment filled with lots of love.

A few years ago, we’d visit back home and we never wanted to leave.  Life is predictable, safe and comfortable there.  Of course we’d like to be closer to family, but we’ll continue to pave our path with our little family in mind—it’s a brand new ballgame now.

Without risk, there will never be progress, and we’re going places, baby.

And just like that, a kid changed everything.

Again.

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Thoughts of coming home

The walls of our apartment have been closing in.  Every square inch of our carpet is worn from all the foot traffic.  And now, it seems, we play Jenga with clothes/toys/misc. stuff that we need, yet have no where to store.

It’s not breaking news, but it’s official: we’ve outgrown our 1 bedroom railroad apartment.

We’ve toyed with moving back to Va. Beach to be closer to family, we’ve shopped for condos in the NYC area and yes, we’ve perused the real estate sites for YEARS for houses in suburban New Jersey.  Circumstances have created unexpected roadblocks to our path to homeownership.  And quite honestly, it’s expensive to buy a home in the tri-state area, not to mention havoc that the whole real estate and mortgage meltdown created. Oh, and let’s not forget, if it were up to me, we’d never leave the Hoboken.

Jack and I are enjoying a week with family here in Va. Beach now, and I can’t get my mind off of what’s waiting for us in Jerz.  Of course, it’s nice seeing family here, but it’s clear that this is just a place we like to visit.

We had the chance to see a few friends already since we arrived early yesterday morning.  As usual, people ask when we’re moving back “home” and insinuate that we should’ve had enough of the NYC area by now…  For those not used to our lifestyle, the apartment rental, public transportation and small space sound so primitive, when really, it’s just a byproduct of urban living.  (I see those looks you throw us.)  But like the Jeffersons, we’re movin’ on up…

So you can imagine how good it feels to say, “Well, actually, we are in the process of finding/buying a home in North Jersey.  So, yeah, we’ll be settling there.

It’s no secret, but we love where we come from; but it feels so great to know where we’re going.

We’ll enjoy all this for now—the fun visits, the weeklong vacation with grandparents—knowing that things will undoubtedly change once we move.  For once, instead of trying to make everyone else happy with these frequent trips back “home” we can finally look forward to concentrating on us, and hopefully, the place we’ll happily call home.

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Hula Hooping, hanging out and hives

Dear Babyrific, so sorry for neglecting you, but life, as usual, has been crazy.  I know, I know, it’s no excuse.  But when we aren’t busy packing, driving to and from Va. and (ignoring) unpacking, I’ve been busy in the evenings with wedding invitations and plotting my trip to Chicago, oh yeah and mothering.  It’s not that I’ve forgotten you, but my to-do list is still on the backburner because y’know a demanding little person needs me to wipe their butt and nose, take them to the park and nap with them :)

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July 4th weekend in Va. was nice.  For the most part, we visited with the grandparents, which is our main objective for driving the insane mileage so often.  I missed out on the spectacular view of the fireworks here in Hoboken, but you really can’t compare that with the fun Jack had hugging Lola, laughing with Lolo and chasing his uncles.

Per usual, there’s always a downside.  Over the weekend, Jeff got sick, possibly because of his exhaustive hours and the stress he’s been carrying around.  So he spent a much-needed day to sleep in and rest.  As if that wasn’t enough, somehow, Jack had another allergic reaction and broke out into full-body hives.  Head to toe.  Pure misery.  He was so uncomfortable, whiny and clingy.  It certainly wasn’t fun to look at and watch him itch his little body all weekend.  We did the Benadryl route and slathered him with Sarna (awesome stuff) and tried to diagnose according to the similarities from the last outbreak.

We think this attack might have been caused by fabric softener or possibly from eating bbq sauce (?) but a visit to the allergist has been schedule, just to be sure.  When allergies are concerned, you can never play it too safe.

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This time almost seem less panicky because we had family around—the same family that goes through similar allergy attacks.   Less panicky, yes, but still a pain in the ass.  I don’t know how many trips I took to Walgreens this past weekend, but I think I got to know all the cashiers by first name. haha.

In the end, I didn’t get my front row seats to the fireworks, but instead, had our own dose of action.  I didn’t get any beach time either, but like most VB locals who don’t live AT the beach, we wouldn’t dare step foot near the oceanfront and deal with that craziness anyway.IMG_2322

We might not have had the chance to see everyone we wanted or do everything I’d hoped, but what we DID do was relax, laugh and catch up with family.  Jack hung out with his grandparents, just like a day hasn’t passed in between visits.  We all laughed and smiled—together.  I even found time to make a cake for America!  (And not-so-secretly for myself since we don’t really get to celebrate birthdays together anymore)

But watching Jack Hula Hoop with Lola, and discovering that my mom and dad could rock out on the Wii (and put my sorry bowling self to shame and all the laughs at my expense)?  Yeah, those candid moments make all the traveling worth the effort. And great material for the blog. hahaha.

But coming back and sleeping in our own bed? Yeah, I’m super grateful for that too.

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Taking one for the team

It’s hard to believe that this week is already over!  Well, just about…

Thank God.

Inundated with website stuff and other projects, I’ve been an overwhelmingly busy week.  It’s a good thing, but most of the work and late nights I’ve been pulling are favors.  Such is life.

Poor Jack has been bored since I’ve been way too busy to play/read in the mornings.  But hopefully, this weekend will make up for it.

This afternoon, after a planned trip to the Liberty Science Center, the three of us are yet again trekking down to Va. Beach.  The boys are very excited.  Me, not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing our family, but all the timesharing of our visits usually becomes a major debacle.  Between everyone’s work schedules, family plans, weekend obligations, it never fails, there’s always someone we don’t get to see.

Oh, and seeing friends? haha.  Social hour with friends, it seems, is a distant memory.  The emails and phone calls don’t even come anymore…sadly, they know what we’ll be doing all weekend.

While we sit in traffic and dodge craziness, we’ll also be missing out on the amazing fireworks here in the NYC area.  This year, the fireworks return to the Hudson—just footsteps away from our doorstep.  And we’ll be missing out.  Not so surprisingly, Jeff is glad.

I don’t have a say anymore.

And so, I’ll pack our bags again, try to locate all the pieces to my projects that I’m working on, pray that we miss traffic, hope our little passenger doesn’t get carsick and make our way down the turnpike.  Again.

Even as I begrudgingly pack that car with a rowdy toddler ignoring my pleads to SIT STILL, in the end, hearing him laugh with his Lolo and watching him water the plants with Lola makes it worth all the effort and eye rolls.

Because, you see, it’s not about me anymore.

Maybe one long weekend, I’ll stay here by myself to relax.  Nah, that would involve me having fun.

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Five Favorite Friday–Memorial Day Weekend

Ok, so I know Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone, but quite honestly, I’ve been avoiding talking about it.  We came away with more miles on the car, a smiley kid and time well spent with the grandparents.  And for that, we’re grateful.

So for this five favorite friday, I thought I’d share my five favorite moments of the weekend.  There were so many classic moments, so this will be a fun way to recap another long weekend in Va. Beach.

1.  Jack and Lola watering the plants, which later led to Jack and Jeff trying to water Lola.

Jack and Lola watering the plantsGet her!

2. Jack “helping” to wash the cars.

The little guy isn’t so little anymore and insists on “helping” as often as he can. In this case, he proved to be a stellar sponge-wetter. And by the way, this particular car wash soap can double as a kid wash if you’re in a pinch. Ok, not really, but Jack certainly thought so.
Helping daddy and grandpa wash the carsspray me!

3.  The frog sprinkler.

Ah, the infamous frog sprinkler that I was reminded not to forget.  Nope, can’t forget the frog sprinkler!  It’s a good thing I didn’t, that thing was a hit!  Not bad for a $3 steal from CVS’ after-summer sale last year!

The frog sprinkler

4.  Playing in the rain.

I ran to Walgreens to pick up some bug spray, and I came back to this:

playing in the rain

5. Celebrating with the birthday boy.

Lately, trips home (for us) have become more stressful and exhausting than they’ve been enjoyable.  This time around, we were able to get schedules aligned with my restaurant/bar working brothers and for once, we actually celebrated a family member’s birthday together, albeit a week early!  yummm…Trader Joe’s Ice Cream Cake!

Celebrating with the birthday boy

Oh and if you make a face like this when I’m behind the camera you bet your ass I’m posting it on my blog and on Facebook.  Y’know, because that’s what big sisters do!  Happy Birthday, crazy Uncle John!

crazy uncle john

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WW: Beach boys

Beach Boys

Literally growing up at the beach, I envision the kid sharing the same love both Jeff and I have for the surf and sand. Like some parents drop off their kids at the mall, our parents dropped us off at the beach—all summer long. Oh, the memories.

Even though it isn’t quite the same as back home, LBI is still breathtaking and relaxing, especially without all the tourists. I love the beach in the offseason–the uncrowded beaches, barren boardwalk, undisturbed sand and landscape, gentle waves, cool breezes and the gorgeous weather. Everything always seems so untouched and completely brand new, especially in the early morning daylight, just like in this picture.

Living so far away from family, it’s always nice of Jeff’s uncle and family to include us in special weekends like this. (a big, huge thank you as always, guys!) And though they may not agree right now, the good times our kids have together are absolutely priceless.

For a quick second, I’m rethinking this whole city living thing.  But then again, the beach is always nice to visit.

Ok, second’s over :)

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