family

1 2 3 7

waldameer

We started out our vacation at the Lake. And one of the things we’ve enjoyed lately is heading to a smallish family amusement park in Erie called Waldameer. It’s got a lot of kid rides and it has trees and it’s not too big (or expensive). We take lunch and dinner with us, leave our cooler on a picnic table and go back to it as needed. It’s relaxed and a good time. The week of the 4th of July, they were open on Monday (a day they are normally closed). Still, we were expecting the park to be crowded (as it was a holiday week) and it just never built up. 

coaster

There are several roller coasters at the park. The first, a wooden one called The Comet, is one that Bridget rode last year. I am not one for rides generally speaking, but I decided why not. I’m trying to relax, roll with things and this seemed like a good opportunity. So Bridget, Brendan and I got on and it wasn’t too bad. Not the best experience I have ever had, but not horrible either. Then, bouyed by this, Brendan convinced me to get on the Ravine Flyer II. It’s still a wooden coaster, but definitely more intense. There are signs about how if you have a heart condition or are prone to strokes then DO NOT GET ON THE RIDE. Yeah, I was nervous. In line for the Comet was bad enough (I felt like I was going to throw up), so it was a good thing that the park wasn’t crowded. We were able to just walk up and get on the Ravine Flyer II (in fact this was the case all day, Bren got on at least 6 times) so there was no time for me to get too worked up. So the ride was not something I want to experience again. I am solidly not a fan of roller coasters. But I tried. I will stick to Ferris Wheels and Merry-go-rounds thankyouverymuch. 

truckride

Johnny had a lot of fun on just about everything. This ride in particular — an old school kiddie ride with glittery metalic vehicles and a string to hold him in — was his favorite of the day. But he tried everything with great enthusiasm. Except for the haunted house ride (which was too scary and he declared “I don’t want to get on that again!” at the end), they were all successes. The tea cups couldn’t spin around fast enough (I skipped that one) and The Hopper was perfectly hoppy. When we were riding the Scrambler (my personal favorite), he asked “Daddy make it go fast again?!”.

Bridget tried everything she could, too. Even when she was a little scared (the Octopus and the Pirate ship) she hung tough. I am glad she’s not afraid of trying things. She was almost tall enough for everything. Next year I think is going to be even more fun. 

fakesad

Here Bridget is perfecting her fake pout. I forget exactly why she was pretending to be mad, but it doesn’t matter. I think if I Photoshopped that clown hat  into a Santa hat, it would make a perfect Holiday card. It makes me laugh every time I look at it.

The day even ended on a spectacular note, Brendan won the kids ridiculously large stuffed animals at the Ring Toss (and really, who ever wins that game?!). 

a whole lot of things

joomplu:39357

There’s been a lot that’s happened over the past month:

  • Easter at my grandmother’s house (photo above by my brother, more in the gallery).
  • The kids first camping trip. It was short, but successful. We got a big fancy tent and it was a bit comical setting up, but next time it’ll be easy.
  • A trip to Pennsylvania for Molly’s 2nd birthday.
  • Bridget learned to ride a 2 wheeler sans training wheels (video).
  • And this last weekend was the arts festival. Full run down over on the crafty blog.

new years eve = nostalgia

German pop songs

After we got the basement completed, we were able to rearrange furniture in such a way that our turntable now has a place in the living room. Among Brendan’s 45 collection is a set of 80s singles that includes Nena, Men Without Hats, DEVO and Weird Al. And then there are the Motown singles. It’s awesome. Our LP collection is a bit of a mish-mash including records I saved from my Dad’s purge several years ago, Beatles albums I purchased at thrift stores and other miscellany. Powering the turntable is my old stereo from college. Which also gives us a place to play actual CDs and TAPES! I think I have more nostalgia for tapes these days than I do for my records. 

My dad had this one tape titled – 90 Minutes of Good Music. It was a mix compiled of tracks he had taped from records including Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor, CCNY and others. At one point I had it in my possession but since it was one of his favorites, I had to give it back. I did though, in 1998, make a copy of what were my favorites of his favorites. And today, I found it! I don’t know if Dad still has his copy of the tape (probably not) and I don’t recall exactly what all was on it anyway. But at least part of it survives. 

There’s also a pile of CD mixes that have been just sitting on the shelf. Since our cars both have a hook in for the iPod, we rarely use them anymore. It’s like a little time warp, really. What songs was I obsessed with in 2002, 2003, 2004? 

april 2002 mix

I’m dorkily excited about all of it. Of course, there’s no way that we’ll be getting out the entire CD collection again (it has all been digitized afterall), but I like the idea of curating a little selection. 

this december

We have been pretty darn busy over the past month. 

We took the kids to see The Muppets just after Thanksgiving. Bridget really loved it (and so did Brendan and I), and now we’re watching The Muppet Show! thanks to Netflix. Johnny would have made it through the whole movie quite nicely had the previews not gone on so long. He loved Ms. Piggy and her karate chops. 

We went to a fancy holiday party at the National American History Museum. It was pretty awesome. Saw the Jefferson Bible and Brendan totally geeked out. The next morning we were (some of us more than others) reminded that we are not in our 20s anymore.

We did a little bit of decorating, but not too much until…

The basement got finished! Brendan and I put in a lot of time putting up walls (him) and painting and painting (mostly me, but also him) and getting trim up (him). And still more painting. Carpet was ordered and installed just in time…

.. for the MuskoX-mas celebration at our house. And though I mis-read the directions on how long the ham would take to heat up, it was still very successful. 

 

Now we just have some final preparations for Christmas. I think our artificial tree looks pretty darn good. 

gobble

This year, we decided to skip the driving and stay home for Thanksgiving. Brendan’s mother and a couple of our friends made the trip down to have dinner with us. 

It’s only the second Thanksgiving dinner that I’ve cooked. The first turned out well, but sacrificed my right shoulder. I have gotten better at cooking meals for a group of people over the past six years, so it wasn’t nearly as stressful as my first Thanksgiving. We had turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied carrots and parsnips, corn, jello salad, and green salad. It was just enough food to have some leftover for today, but not too much. 

We took it easy on the table settings, and while we used our wedding china and crystal, we kept all the food buffet style in the kitchen. It was a good move. We sold our really big table in the big yard sale this summer but we made it work with our little table and an extra card table. 

Today we hadn’t planned on doing any crazy shopping. I like to stay out of the way of the crazy shoppers. However, as we were browsing the ads (we get the Sunday paper now like good little suburbanites) I noticed that the tree that we just bought on Monday was on sale for $100 less than we spent on it. So Brendan woke up at 5:00 and went over to the store only to find them all gone (barely, people were in line with them). Thankfully, the managers at the store were very nice at 8am when I called and asked if we could just return the one we bought and re-buy it at the sale price. Even though their policy is to only allow that sort of thing within three days of purchase, they were kind and let us do it today four days after purchase. 

We promptly turned around and spent that money on primer and ceiling paint for the basement. Now it’s up to me to start painting. I haven’t quite worked up the momentum just yet.

hummingbird

My almost 21 year old brother recently posted this photo on Facebook: he’s now in possession of our father’s blond Gibson Hummingbird guitar.

And I’m a bit jealous.

Though I don’t remotely play guitar (too frustrating to learn and I like having nails), and he does play very well. So it makes sense that he’d eventually obtain it. 

It’s just…

When I was little, Dad was so careful with this guitar. It was the only one he had, and he was proud of it and protected it. We weren’t allowed to touch it.  Dad has newer ones now that he uses more regularly.  

There are just a lot of memories wrapped up in this one thing. I know Kevin has memories of his own, and I know he’s responsible. I just can’t believe Dad let it go outside the house. 

 

 

 

cottage 2011 part two

cousins

After a month apart, Johnny and I flew back to Ohio and were reunited with Brendan and Bridget and were soon joined by cousins (and their parents too, of course). 
rides
We spent time at the beach, and went to an amusement/water park in Erie.
skyline
And then, Brendan and I left for Toronto for a few days (more on that a little later).
 It’s been a really great summer. Soaking up the last few weeks before Bridget starts Kindergarten.

mixed

We’re all experiencing some mixed feelings around here. Firstly, in exciting news, Bridget turns five on Saturday and lots of family and friends are coming to celebrate with us. It’s hard to believe she’s starting to write really well, read, add and subtract and will be hopping on the bus to school in the fall. Wasn’t she just born yesterday? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten really sentimental about any birthdays, but this one has me feeling a bit sniffly (but I’ll blame it on the pollen).
In less happy news, our current daycare provider is moving. Our last day is tomorrow, and that’s got us all a little bit bummed out. We’ve got a new place all lined up, and I’m sure it will be wonderful, but we’ve been with Mrs. Diana for three years now. Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
So, I’m going to concentrate on the awesome things this weekend – seeing family and friends, lots of kids running around and general merriment. (Or at least, that’s the plan.)

starting point

In my quest for knowledge about my family history, I have been hoping to find a way to figure out where exactly in Poland and Lithuania my relatives were from. The Polish part is proving to be very difficult. 

My Lithuanian relatives were a little bit easier thanks to my great-grand uncle Mike. He was born in Lithuania and came over with his parents. While his parents did not become citizens, Mike did. Because he served in the Navy for the U.S. in WWI, he had an easier path to citizenship. Still, it wasn’t until 1951 that he became naturalized. It was not the easiest process to figure out, but once I determined who to write (NARA of the mid-Atlantic), I was able to get a copy of his naturalization records. They came today. I was a bit pessimistic because of the length of time that had passed between his birth in 1896, and his naturalization, and because his Social Security application lists Maryland as his birthplace; however, there was a town listed as his last foreign address.

Takniskiai, Lithuania. It’s certainly rural. But it’s a place. 

visits

We had a really nice visit with Brendan’s brother’s family last weekend. There was a winter carnival at the kids’ school, a birthday party, cousins galore…

messes, home-brewed beer, a lesson in chocolate melting…

and brrrr, it was super-cold. Bunches of fun for all of us. 

1 2 3 7

Disclaimer.

Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

And just so everyone is clear, what we say here is not endorsed by either of our employers.