Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Size Does Matter" - Quote from my family

Well I haven't blogged in quite some time and that's mainly due to our ridiculous schedule we've been keeping over the holidays. When you last tuned in I had my worst break down I have ever had on Thanksgiving night. It was much worse then when Eli Manning magically escaped the Pats' pass rush and then David Tyree caught the impossible pass to ruin their undefeated season. It was just a tiny bit worse then when I saw Daisy Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard reunion show, some memories need to not be impacted. Joe in my family explained that size does matter in an e-mail response to the last blog and that I shouldn't be upset when I don't understand things because my corpus callosum is smaller then in women's as studies show so us men are slower to catch on. In case you don't know the corpus callosum (ok I had to look it up) its the bundle of nerve pathways that connects the two sides of the brain. Now mine are further delayed by hops, barley, cabernet grapes, and hot sauces so I don't even have a chance to figure things out quickly. Please keep that in mind ladies when I'm not fully understanding (or distracted because you're talking while the game is on, a rerun of Saved by The Bell, or I'm trying to pretened I'm looking at only your eyes) your feelings because of my small cc (as I refer to it while texting). BTW, WTF is up w ur cc? U r slow.

Now a miniature sized version of our lives over the last 5 weeks. After Thanksgiving 6 friends all with kids went without short people to Gainesville to watch Bobby's last ever regular season game and Tebow's last home game (if you haven't seen me lately I'm still wearing the black eye goop under my eyes with hand picked bible passages --- I think Hope had one of those books in the house, at least I think we have a couple of real books in the house as I'm not 100% sure unless it's Star Wars Legos or my personal favorite snakes that will scare the potty out of your dad). We had an absolute blast and if it wasn't for me being quicker on the uptake we would have even stolen a stuffed animal mascot from a liquor store. If you don't believe that story e-mail me and I'll show you the picture. I am going to refrain from naming anyone so Judy does not get in any trouble (ah yes the same lap dance Judy that put me in my place on New Year's Eve by telling me I'd know it when she gives me a real lap dance). I love that only the married woman seem to show the most interest or at least find me as harmless as ever for good reason. We had to scalp tix but ended up with row 7 10-yard line seats at face value so it couldn't have been better. Maria got to go to her first college football game ever and I think she was more interested in the dog dressed in UF clothes then anything else but if you're a regular blog reader that won't surprise you. Thanks Whit and Ed for setting the whole thing up, your dad has an amazing place and I bought myself the same kitchen mat for Christmas because it feels almost like an orgasm in my legs every time I do dishes now. Anyone want me to wash your crystal? Please!!!

After that weekend Monday was Hope's birthday. I kept both kids out of school and we had a wonderful day at Hope's favorite them park Sea World followed by Lego Land and T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney. It was the perfect way to spend her birthday, just the three of us. I also had my parent/teacher conferences for both boys. I want to say so much more about them but I know teachers at the schools at least used to read the blog so let me just say I love Nathan's teacher's name and now know where it came from, and found out that Reese touches his penis too much at school. I know his teacher personally and we've even been out socially before as you may have previously read, so I quickly told her that we actually don't stop doing we just try not to be so obvious. So Reese is working on not touching his penis so much when people are paying attention. Otherwise both boys were given rave reviews and Nathan's teachers were funny in that they thought they'd have to give him so much extra attention and time to get things done but they've been thrilled that hasn't been the case at all. They come first no matter what I told them, it has to be that way.

Then I had just a crazy time trying to take care of presents, work, the boys, house, bills, etc. before our 9 day trip to New England from 18 Dec to 27 Dec followed by a week of brother Kurt staying with us in FLA. I was on my game with unbelievable help from Jamie, Traci, and Shelby at work. I bought and they wrapped/shipped all my gifts that were small before my trip, and anything big secretly made it's way under the tree while we were gone thanks to Gran. The boys wrote letters to Santa with their wish lists and letting him know they'd be in Maine. He found them big time including a DS game for each and filled up stockings. Our trip included meeting brother Kurt and his two kids (ages 16 and 10) at the airport where we had rented a Lincoln Navigator complete with heated and air conditioned seats that worked like my ass was sitting on a heating pad. We visited the following all before Christmas:
  • Brother Scott and his wife/two kids for my birthday which included tubing on a ski hill with a tow chain followed by 15 inches of snow that night and more sledding on a hill by their house with two jumps thanks to the plows as we went skidding across his road.
  • Then Stow Mass to see an Uncle Cliff/Aunt Lois, 5 cousins, great aunt Kitty (my favorite grammy's sister), and 2 nieces/2 nephews including new baby Trevor that was quite a load and we had a blast with. That included one of the most entertaining and unique Yankee gift swaps where only one person put all the gifts together --- it was really cool!
  • Then Westboro Mass to see the town we grew up in where cousin Keith put us up and put up with us for three nights in a row. It's amazing how much things like our old house, school, the graveyard we grew up playing in (thanks mom), old sledding hill etc. have actually shrank over the years. There must be some scientific explanation that Joe can give me since I'm so upset size matters all of a sudden.
  • Then Holliston Mass to see my sister, her mom and two sisters/one brother, my step mom and her husband in their almost 300 year old house that Paul Revere famously rode past yelling something about the British invasion --- yes the Beatles were arriving.
  • Then Framingham Mass to see my dad, 95 year old grandpa that still works and golfs (too damn bad my dad was adopted so you guessed it, I don't get any of his genes), and sister again. We spent the day catching up, eating, drinking, eating, drinking, and bowling. That night was highlighted by Nathan throwing up in the bathroom of the restaurant we ate dinner in (please keep in mind the previous winter trip up north he caught pneumonia and Reese was on a neutralizer so them getting sick again was my worst nightmare), said he felt better, then ate an ice cream sunday with no signs of wear.
  • Finally we went to Maine to see an enormous amount of family including aunt Renie/uncle Bruce, cousins Jess, Luke, Brad, with all of their spouses, multiple children apiece, and Jess's extended family that we love as much as our own (except Danielle after this trip and I'll explain why) including 4 more cousins with most of their spouses. There we had more snow, more fun, and our family Christmas that was unforgettable.
  • Christmas day Kurt had to leave with his two kids but we stayed a couple of more days.

A few details on the trip, my mom and Dennis joined us at the first two and last stops. On Christmas morning Nathan woke up first, collected all of the stockings, and then numbered them from youngest to oldest explaining that the youngest were the least patient and should open their stockings first. My aunt Renie was wearing a negligae (no idea how to spell that word) that revealed everything but she was wearing it over her jammies. My favorite present was the breathspray that said feel like a canadian, succumb to the dream, and had the goofiest white guy smiling on the box that I've ever seen. It was 6 degrees the first morning we woke up, we had two major snow storms while there, we borrowed a ton of clothes but just couldn't have had more fun. At every stop my boys were amazing, almost no complaints, playing with cousins everywhere they either didn't remember or hadn't met, had many nights of minimal sleep, and could not have made a dad prouder. They both said it was there best Christmas ever. Kurt's kids by the way were equally amazing with mine and everyone else. It's not easy at 16 and 10 to do the family trip thing. We gorged ourselves at every stop and my liver is still floating from that trip and the following week with my brother. I think New Year's Eve was our slowest night of indulging if that tells you anything --- I felt like Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas if that tells you anything, except I didn't get Elizabeth Shue.

Back to why I don't like Danielle anymore, any regular reader of the blog knows my cousin Jess adopted Maeve from China. Well it never dawned on me due to flawed math and family tree growing that somehow I'm now a great uncle. While I've always strived to be great I realized I was starting to get old now despite all my childish behavior and denials. I did turn 37 on this trip, still feel like I'm 20 though. I did have a few extremely difficult times the worst of which was on my birthday when I felt like I was having an anxiety or almost heart attack that night. My two bros talked me down and I was over it relatively quickly. Then came Christmas eve during one of the most wonderful family gatherings possible, I had to run off by myself where my cousin Luke caught up with me and really got me through some tough moments. On multiple evenings but especially Christmas night Uncle Bruce/Aunt Renie had some amazing conversations about Hope, life in general, and they really helped me get through some tough emotional times. Even Sunday morning the first time I got to visit with Jess/Joe alone, we only had a short amount of time but they were also so caring, loving and understanding when I needed it. I had a lot of great talks with so many others, but those in particular really stand out at my toughest times being a lot of firsts without Hope. Of course that was the entire reason behind the trip, to not be here!!!

Before I forget, I cannot thank so many people for sending us holiday cards. Please understand there was just no way I could do it for the 2nd year in a row but I so appreciate everyone that sent us one. I had one friend hand me there's a week late (no problem I understand a thing or two about being late) and another that arrived today called a new year's card. That's brilliant, I'll have to remember that trick. I have a ton of stories from my travels and FLA visit with my brother, many of which cannot be repeated in mixed company but my fave was our fishing trip with two of his buds from high school...

Against my better judgement I decided to tag along. Well we got out a few miles from where we put in and quickly found the shallowest section of the river with absolutely no fish. Our motor started overheating so we decided to fish for a while. After a couple of hours of killing brain cells (thank Hope it was a gorgeous day because otherwise I may have lost it) and catching nothing his buddy Brian that "borrowed" the boat finally decided we could not run the engine any longer. We tried to talk him into calling his buddy he "borrowed" the boat, trailer, and even truck from before we finally realized he had stolen it. So we saw a couple of vehicles on a dirt road north of KSC so we paddled over there as close as we could get where Kurt and I took our pants off and went ashore. We found a truck with three drunk teens inside (we did get our pants back on before then) and a completely full bed. They begrudgingly let us sit on the tool box in the back as they told us they were racing some friends. They then hauled ass down this dirt road as we held on for our lives over huge holes and hairpin turns while we braced our legs against a cooler and clutched the tool box beneath us. I kept yelling at Kurt, "tuck and roll when we're thrown!" At one point Kurt turned and tried to yell at them, "sorry but we're still here!" Somehow we made it back to the "borrowed" truck and trailer and drove it back.

That was the easy part. The rest consisted of falling into the river, making a makeshift coquina rock boat ramp that I still have cut up hands from, almost running out of gas, not eating the entire day, fearing the rusted bumper was going to be dragging behind us, and then for some reason going back to his bud's house that "borrowed" the boat/truck/trailer and meeting his neighbor that smelled worse then when Hope used to clean Cody's and Mocha's anal sacks. Now that's true love for a dog by the way. My favorite two quotes from the day were when I had my pants off and was getting off the boat before the tool box truck ride I turned back to Kurt's buds and said, "thanks guys always a pleasure catching up with Kurt's friends. So what are you doing tomorrow?" My second favorite was his bud that fell in the water and drove the "borrowed" truck back to his house only to start bitching about the driver's seat being all wet. He was still wearing the soaked shorts he fell into the water with and had burnt enough brain cells over the years that he didn't realize why the seat was wet. Any kids reading the blog don't do drugs and stay in school based on this story alone. That reminds me of another moment on our Mass trip when I saw a roofer in single digit degree weather, a really strong wind, on top of a 1:2 or steeper pitched roof when I turned to the 4 kids in the back of the Aviator and said that's why we tell you to stay in school kids.

Even though it's been a while I'll wrap this up. I think everyone loves favorite quotes from kids so I always try to remember my kids' for the blogs whenever I get to them. The first one was just this morning as we ate eggs, bagels, toast and bacon for breakfast (yes I am enjoying cooking now and have been accused of being a girl by many of which Shondra is the worst because I've also gotten into candles and my plants around the house --- all of which are currently wrapped in towels and sheets because we may have a freeze and I have to protect my other children that I nurture so) when Reese asked me, "if we switched brains would you no longer be colorblind and would you like chocolate?" I told him yes, and what a cool question that was. Then Nathan spoke up, "then you'd have Reese's brain and would have to go to school in pre-K. That would be hilarious Dad to see someone your size in pre-K." All I could think about was the parent/teacher conference when I couldn't even fit in the chair and of course Billy Madison.

Another time Nathan was flipping through a GQ magazine I had in the house (it was a gift from my sister just for the record --- although this one had Tom Brady on the cover and I've been further accused of being a girl or having a man crush on Tom but in my defense who wouldn't when you've got 3 rings and it should have been 4 along with being so damn attractive, ANYWHO) when he asked, "why do magazines have so many naked people in them because it seems inappropriate." I loved the words as I remember him saying them and then I explained that nakedness sells. I then asked him, "it got your attention didn't it?" Another night we were watching Where the Wild Things Are at the movies and Nathan and Reese kept saying Dad no handfuls because you take too much. Then Reese turned to me like he'd discovered Lego's for the first time and said, "only I can take handfuls because look at my small hands." I loved it, rationalization at its best at only 5 years old.

The one I remember the most was also from Reese just at a casual moment during the day, "I love you daddy more then anyone except Mommy but that's because she's dead and I miss her." I just cried and hugged him and said I hope you always love mommy more then me. He may not have any real memories of her but dammit he'll remember his mommy no matter what. As for me, I've had some tough times from Thanksgiving through even today. I was kind of bummed out today putting Christmas decs away because most of them have memories with Hope, pictures of Hope, or actually say Hope on them. Thursday this week is the one year anniversary of Hope's death. Nathan's basketball team that I'm coaching has practice, not sure if I'll be up for that. It's our last practice before our first game on Saturday so hopefully I'll be there. I gave myself one year before I made any changes of substance so stay tuned to see what I do or don't try. Nothing planned right now but I also have put many things off worrying I wasn't in the right state of mind yet.

This Thursday please take a moment to think about Hope. Think about how great it was that her soul left her broken down body that had no quality of life left in it, how amazing that moment was per my previous blogs as I was able to experience it with her, how she affected your life in the smallest ways or much bigger just appreciating life, her eyes filled with more life then any other person I've ever met except maybe Reese who has the same eyes, and then just for me as a special favor either call or go hug and kiss a little bit harder your closest loved ones. Think just for a moment what it would be like without them and appreciate so much what you have and what they give to you every day. We are doing great, we are loving life, but we miss Hope everyday and will especially on Thursday of this week. Hope you made me a better man and I'm doing my best to pass on all of your lessons to our boys. One year, it's been foggy and eye opening across the board. I feel like the luckiest man in the world and that's because of everything Hope gave me, mainly a lifetime of memories in only 20 years of being together but more importantly two amazing new souls that will always be with me. Those boys are my everything!!!

-Just Jake and sorry this was so long.


Alyson A said...

We will especially think about you on Thursday and be thankful for the beautiful legacy Hope has left for this world. Glad your Christmas travels were (mostly) good!

J said...

I think Hope is sending snow on Thursday.
She is always in our thoughts.

rach said...

Who wouldn't have a crush on Tom Brady??

We had a blast with you all on Christmas and can't wait to see you again...the kids keep asking about coming down and visiting...and going to see Harry Potter at Universal!

We will be thinking of you, the boys and Hope this thursday.

Daddy-O said...

Amazing how after all these years, the trouble makers are still Kurt's friends (any never an old friend of yours)!

Glad you and the boys had a great time on the trip to NE. If it had been any place else I'd think you were just trying to avoid Anna. Still, we missed seeing you and the boys over the holidays.

Keep up the great (and looonnggg) blog posts.

Judy said...

Thanks for sharing so much (really!) and reminding us of what's really important! Just remember,Even real men like Teebow cry. We love you all!

Daddy-O said...

It's Tebow! :)

Kate (Joe's daughter. your step-first-cousin-once-removed) said...

on behalf of Jess's extended family, we loved seeing y'all on Christmas and we all love you guys like family, too :)

And not sure if this will help you like Danielle again - was she talking about Maeve or Connor? I wasn't there for that conversation - but to clarify, Maeve is your first cousin once removed and, I think, Connor is your step-first-cousin twice removed. Maeve is second cousins with Nathan and Reese and step second cousins once removed with Connor. You're not a great uncle til one of your siblings' kids has kids.

P.S. I have insider info on Elin's whereabouts if you want it. If it works out w/ you two maybe Sanden and I will move down to FLA and nanny for you guys for a little while, since her kids are pretty young :)