Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Card Attempts

This was the first year since 2000 that our Christmas Card did not include Murphy. But, it was also the first time that we were able to make the best addition to our Christmas card in 10 years! It was challenging for sure, and much to my surprise, Lucy was so cooperative. I know! Never thought I'd ever be able to say that! Now, Vinny, on the other hand? Whew-he was exhausting! He thought it was the funniest thing ever to try to chase the camera...and then go ring the bell dangling so perfectly at his eye level. You know, I always placed that bell near the bottom of the tree so Murphy's tail would smack it ever so clumsily as she passed by. I believe every angel needs a pair of wings, so I'm just doing my part! So here are a few of my favorites shots from our many took us several days and lots of creative editing:

Vinny, on his way to ring the bell, in his Christmas outfit from Auntie Katie and Uncle Brian.

Vinny's diet: Formula, mushy fruits and veggies, and dog fur. mmmmmmm!
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth. Check!

Angel got her wings!

And the Winner Is:

Good Times with Gramma and Grampa

Not much makes my Dad smile more than his two grandsons. Now that Blaise is talking more, he is making the rules, and it seems that Grampa just doesn't work for him. He's taken to calling my dad what sounds like Bapa or Papa. So sweet...My dad was in his glory.
This picture makes me laugh so hard. Double chins, goofy grins, blinking eyes...we are a motley crew if ever I saw one. But that what makes this picture so special. We were all together, and i know this was a proud moment for my parents.
Two grandparents, two little boys, two cameras, and hundreds of snapshots later...everyne looking in different directions. But the grins still say it all. Well, except for Vinny...he's about had enough here:
Gramma gave this rocking chair another workout. Good thing for all of us that Vinny loves to snuggle and rock.
It's funny. Before Vinny liked Skyping with my mom on the laptop. He'd smile and laugh, but now...oh my goodness....he just wants to crawl right through the screen to get to Gramma.


We took a field trip with Gramma and Grandpa to one of my favorite places, the Yankee Candle Factory in Deerfield, Mass. We completely forgot that Santa's Workshop is there, and with Christmas right around the corner, Santa was busy in his office getting ready to deliver presents to all the good little boys and girls. But of course, Santa took some time to visit with the children touring his toyshop. We weren't sure about Vincent's reaction, but in his usual style, Vincent studies Santa before giving up any smiles. Here are some favorite pictures from the trip:

Santa's sleigh was parked in the woodland village

By the end of his visit with Santa, Mom and I were in tears. I just can't believe how lucky we are to experience Christmas through the eyes of a child. The cliche is so true, and I love it!
Santa's Workshop
Santa must be telling Vincent about his reindeer
Grampa, I told you! Santa was right there!

Four Generations!

Babci, Mom, Vincent, and Me
Vincent with his Great Grandparents, Babci and Dziadzui
My Papa is a fairly serious and sober person. But when he holds his great-grandchildren, well you can see how he lights up.
Having fun with Dzaidzui
Magic Touch
Vincent with my Godfather, Uncle Tommy

Vincent's First Formal Event-Uncle Brian and Auntie Katie's Wedding!

This past November 28th, Vincent's Godfather got married! Uncle Brian and Auntie Katie sure do know how to throw a party. Oh my goodness this wedding was amazing, and Vinny had a ball taking in all the sights and sounds. Katie and Brian though of everything-from the tissues in the pews, to the personalized water bottles, to my favorite-the baskets of flip flops in the ladies' room! Here a few pictures from the big night:

Vinny with Daddy
Gramma and Grampa helped entertain Vinny before dinner started
My Date, sitting in a big boy booster seat
The Handsome Groom, with his two adorable Godchildren.
Emma Rose is such a doll!
Auntie Katie was such a beautiful bride! Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Claffey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This was the night before we left for Connecticut. I've had this planned for a while would, too if you had spent the last ten years celebrating holidays in a classroom. You can pretty much turn a child's handprint into just about anything. So it was my turn to make my own kid look silly. We took it on the plane so Vincent could surprise Gramma and Grampa in the airport with it. Boy, did they get a kick out of this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Good Bye Old Friend

Last night Anthony and I had to do our version of the unthinkable. Murphy had been sick for some time, but yesterday seemed to be the day she told us she had had enough. Thanks to Dr. Zubers, we were able to be with our girl as she peacefully passed into the big dog park in the sky. It was truly one of the worst experiences of our lives, and we've had our fair share of bad experiences. But it was always Murphy that would always lend her big soft head and floppy ears to comfort our sorrows. Her gentle eyes told us she understood. Even last night, I know she was telling us that it was ok.

I have a favorite book, Because of Winn-Dixie, that I read to my students almost every year. I warn the kids, "ok this is the part where I'm gonna cry, so just bear with me." At about the point where she thinks her dog, Winn-Dixie, goes missing, Opal recites her top ten things she wants to remember about her best friend. It always reminded me of all the things I loved about my best girl, too. By the end of the chapter, most of the kiddos would be with me in tears or near, because anyone with a dog just gets it.

So I knew one of these days I would be composing my own list for Murphy, and here I am. These are some of my favorite things I will forever hold in my heart.
  1. The way she would lift her paw onto your arm, as if holding your hand, when you would pet her.
  2. The way we used to wake up to Murphy's big head in our face when she could still jump up on our bed. She may not have had the best manners but she at least had enough decency to find a pillow to rest her head.
  3. Her inability to problem solve. When trying to sell our house, we set up an outdoor dog run that Lucy quickly figured her way out of. Even with the fence slight ajar after Lucy escaped into the back yard to romp and play, Murphy remained in the run, patiently waiting to be released through the gate.
  4. Her stealthy crop dusting skills. She was famous for begging, but even more so for sneaking food off the table. One Sunday, during half time of the Pats game, Murph scarfed down an entire meatball grinder as she passed by the coffee table. She didn't even stop. Total drive by sneak attack. Our friends are still laughing about that, and I am so grateful that even our friends could see the humor in every naughty thing Murphy did.
  5. Her eyes. Murphy was 100 times more trouble than Lucy. Murphy was naughty. Marley and Me naughty. She just got away with it more. All she had to do was look at you with those big sad hound dog eyes.
  6. Her bay. When Murphy was a puppy, trying to find her voice, she realized that she had more than just a bark. She could howl, too. Albeit not very good at it, she tried, and it was just the saddest doggie yodel you ever did hear. Barking at air was her favorite though. Almost forgot about that!
  7. Driving with her in the car, anywhere, even across the country. Sitting in the back seat, she would poke her head right up in between us as if to say "Hi guys. Almost there? Love you." Mostly though, she rested her big head over your left shoulder right underneath the seatbelt strap. "Love you." Yes, she spoke to us, we even had a dumb voice for her. I guess that's what you do when your dog is your first child, your best friend.
  8. Murphy at the dog park. Most dogs can't wait to get out and play with all their other dog pals, but not the Murph. People were her favorite friends.
  9. The way she let you snuggle with her. There was no other furry friend that was as soft or comforting as Murphy. No other dog, no stuffed animal, no blanket. You could bury your face in her velvet ears and squishy jowls and she would just lay there with you. Even when she had had enough, she never growled. Rather, she let out this hilarious "hmmmmmmm" that warned you she was annoyed.
  10. She loved Vincent. I wish she had more time with him. I wish he had more time with her. They were just starting to become best buds.

We had 10 wonderful years with Murphy. She came to us through a friend, and we were warned as she wagged her tail at us from the bed of the truck, "oh she's not too smart, you probably don't want her." That's when we knew. She needed us, and we wanted her. But as we soon learned, it was the other way around. We needed her. Murphy was unlike any other dog, and I fear there will never be another that will ever live up to her sweet way. Poor Lucy has always been in her shadow. She's sad, too, waiting for her buddy to come home. Things are going to be different now, and we appreciate everyone's kindness and condolences.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween Vincent!

Yesterday we celebrated Vincent's first happy Halloween. Halloween has always been pretty fun on Banff Lane, but this year was exceptional, and I suspect it will only get better. We began the afternoon by carving a pumpkin. I really had no idea what Vince would think of the pumpkin guts, but in typical Vinny fashion, he cautiously stuck his hand into the goop and contemplated the sensations (another nod to Uncle John). Just when I thought we were done, back in he went all on his own.
I just had to stick him in the pumpkin, too. When else will I ever have this opportunity again? Vince was incredibly cooperative, and with only a few silly antics, we were able to garner some smiles. Really no complaints on his part, and we were sure not to push it. We still had a lobster costume to don!
Vince O'Lantern, 2 front teeth and all!
Mommo and Boppo joined the Banff Lane Halloween fun this year. Vinny "with a Y" is always happy with his Boppo. Here he is dressed up as a little lobster.
Bryce and Evan are two of Vincent's first friends. Bryce's "Scooby Dooby Doo" sure does put my own childhood version of the costume to shame. They sure have come a long way since those ugly, uncomfortable, plastic costumes. Both Evan and Vince were adorable checking each other out. Nothing's more entertaining to a baby than another baby face!

It was only minutes after this that Vincent fell fast asleep in his costume. Good thing it was easy to slip right off, and he was wearing his jammies right underneath! But just for fun we dressed up today and really hammed it up.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A New Perspective

This week we conducted Parent Teacher Conferences at school. While the days are longer, and there is sometimes disappointing news to share, I always come away reminded of how great our students really are, even the stinkers! Conferences can be intimidating. You never know how a parent will react to what you have to say. Thankfully that's not the norm.

You're always told to treat your students like you'd treat your own kids, and put yourself in the parents' shoes. Well for 11 years, I didn't know what that was like, nor did I ever want to think that I could conduct myself any differently. Those comments always annoyed me. So when I say I hate to admit this, I really hate to admit this. I am a completely different teacher ever since Vinny came along. Oh, I'm not any more nice or any less sarcastic (well maybe a little), but I see things differently now. I see things like a mom now. Sure, he's only 7 months old, but someday I'll be sitting on the other side of the table sitting in the little chair. This all occurred to me right there in the middle of one of our conferences.

While one of our students read his personal reflection about his progress, I could feel my eyes well up. I couldn't help but see Vincent sitting there, and then I caught sight of his mom's huge smile. What a surreal moment. Before it was all over, this little boy was laughing at how silly it looked to see his teachers and mom crying about how wonderful he was. But we all understood one another. Of course I've felt pride for my students achievements in the past, but I couldn't help but think of how hard he's worked to "get" things. This boy was so easily frustrated early on, but persisted. He's truly one of our sweeties, too. I found myself in a flash forward to Vinny's first parent teacher conference. I don't want him to struggle necessarily, but I want for him the same things this student felt because of his character. Perseverance. Accomplishment. Pride. Confidence. Integrity. You can't feel those things without knowing how hard you worked to achieve success.

Vincent has already accomplished so much is little lifetime so far. He's already made us so proud.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eventful Week, Full of Milestones

Even I have noticed my posts become fewer and farther between. These days, Vincent keeps us busier than ever before..and we know that soon our lives will be forever changed. Vince is crawling! Well, just about anyway. He's been up on all fours rocking like crazy, and he has begun to move backwards. Here he is trying to crawl right through the laptop to grab Gramma's nose...or cheek...or glasses...or hair....yes, he's grabbing everything in reach, too.

Hi Gramma!
Another big milestone this week has been sitting up all by himself without any support. This one sort of surprised me, it sort of happened without me realizing it. Here he is chewing on a new favorite frozen teether. Vincent cut two little itty bitty bottom teeth this week! Ooh they are sharp! If I were nursing, this would have been the week I quit!

Big Boy!
Eating these last two weeks has been a new challenge, too. Vincent has little use for rice cereal, but we are trying. By now it's more applesauce than cereal, but he's liking it a little more. I then introduced peas to him, and he loved them! Right now we are working on sweet potatoes, which he loves as well. Trouble is, as you can see form the picture below, Vince is hardly a neat eater. He sort of face plants into the spoon. It's comical for sure. Thankfully, he hasn't given me raspberries yet during mealtime, though he's been practicing. I'm waiting!

Love This Face!
Daddy Feeds Me, Too
So far we've been feeding Vincent right on the counter, but today I ordered a highchair. He squirms around so much, we need something to contain him! I just had to include the picture below for fun. Vincent was just happy as could be in his jumpy while I did a few things around the house. I think I sat down to work on the laptop, and found that it had become oddly quiet. Well, this is why...

Play Hard, Sleep Hard

He's Got the Cutest Little Baby Face: First 2 Months

Vincent's First Few Days at Home

Vincent Joseph is Born

Murphy and Lucy