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It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us with the traveling, catching up and resuming our daily craziness.  Jack isn’t quite back to his normal routine yet.  Just when I thought he was settling back in, the poor kid woke up with a stuffy nose.  No fever, just a clogged up nose.  With that stuffy nose, he almost sounds like his father when he snores!

Since I finally got around to doing 4 loads of laundry tonight, memories of our trip came flooding back.  We went to Wisconsin for Jeff’s (extended) family reunion, and what a time it was!  So, here’s my synopsis of our Midwest travels.
On the road again
Traveling with Jack this time around was much more seamless. The shorter flight, extra set of hands and morning departure worked out in our favor. The 2hr. car ride from Chicago to WI, however, not so seamless. I ended up having to hop in the backseat because Jack was in hysterics for half of the ride probably because he was so restrained all day long!  Lesson learned:  with small children in tow, direct flights are the way to go.
Once we finally made it to WI, we saw all the east coast family at the hotel and had fun hanging out and catching up.
Friday Night Fish Fry
The first night, we went out to dinner– Friday Night Fish Fry. From what I understand, this is a big thing in the Midwest. Not sure what other areas do it, but it’s pretty prevalent in this part of Wisconsin. This was my 2nd experience at Friday Night Fish Fry.  It’s exactly what it sounds like– the family gathering and enjoying a smorgasbord of fried fish and other goodness.
Later that night after we got the babies to sleep, all of the adult cousins got together at the “Uptown Bar.” We enjoyed the the $5.75 PITCHERS of beer. Jeff and I couldn’t get over the price difference. In Hoboken and moreso in NYC, often times, you can’t get a single drink under $6. Jeff was like a “pig in shit”  (As he likes to say.)  Beer for EVERYONE!

Saturday was the best day of the whole weekend. We all made it out to the family farm, where 2 of Jeff’s uncles still live. The farm was turned into acres and acres of wildlife refuge.The trails
Jeff’s uncle maintains the property and it is gorgeous! I can’t even begin to verbalize the beauty of the wide open spaces. We had a catered pig roast, lots of beer, wine and booze and plenty of ATV riding and exploring the property. All the kids–young and old–took turns riding the ATVs and getting a taste of life on the farm.  Because of location, we don’t get to see these relatives all that often, so it was such a wonderful day to spend with family. It was a great opportunity to introduce Jack to WI and a few new PA relatives. But to see Jeff channel his country boy side was quite the sight. He had so much fun riding those ATVs and doing what boys do.

Country boys...It was a well planned party and a much needed reunion. It’s so interesting to see how each sibling has lived their life and followed different paths, and then of course, seeing their children and grandchildren who are the products of those paths they’ve chosen. From the photos, you can tell that we’re from all different walks of life, but certainly bound by common denominators. Such is the beauty of family.

As they always say, family seems to get together for weddings and more weddings. I’m so glad this gathering had a much different motive –family togetherness– and one that I hope we all get to do again!

Chicago recap is next up!

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Ahhh. We’re back from yet another trip to Va., and here I am at home (in the same pjs as I wore all day yesterday, no less) fighting off another family hangover and head cold. Exhaustion has finally caught up with me.

mom and the boyJack enjoyed his first Easter, as much as an almost 6-month old would enjoy any other day. As usual, he was very well behaved in church. Thanks to all-day church tv with my mom, Jack knows how to “sing” in church. Instead of crying, my kid “sings,” often at the most inappropriate and quietest times. It’s hysterical. He is also beginning to understand that he’s not the only baby in the world. So, when he hears other babies, like he did in church, he perks up and gets so concerned.eggs

I did a minimal basket for the boy, considering he has no concept of who or what the hell is an Easter Bunny. I got him a few books, new pacis and a few weeks ago, we stocked up on Melissa and Doug toys for the future.

For my family, and now my own tiny brood, Easter is a spiritual time. I’ll be the the first to admit that I often go overboard on pastel colored plastic eggs and chocolate treats. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is still a time of reflection and renewal.

We barely had time to do anything but shuttle the boy around. It was so fun seeing all the bigger kids smother Jack, not to mention watch Jack kissy both of my brothers. It was great to share his kissies and roly polying all over the place. It makes me smile to see him make others smile. But truly, while I’m feeling the effects exhaustion and irritability of a head cold, possibly a result of all of thKissy uncle Johne above, I have to reiterate, I’m looking forward to our own family traditions. You know, the ones where the unsolicited comments are at a minimum and judgment casting is at a dull roar.

And sadly, something I always look forward to– there wasn’t even enough time to see many friends this trip, which also means I didn’t get any much needed beer time. While I love visiting family and friends back home, I appreciate things the way they are… in N.J.

It’s a good thing the Turnpike goes both north and south. It’s also good to be back home.

On Saturday morning, our apartment looked like a nursery exploded atop an infirmary. Instead of cleaning and serving fruit juice like I should have, I put my mom/wife hat aside and had a chance to revisit my retired weekend warrior ways for a few hours.
Like the previous 5 years on the first Saturday of March, I donned my best green t-shirt, most obnoxious green beads and joined the buoyant throngs of people to celebrate Hoboken’s St. Patty’s day.

It’s hard to completely verbalize the ridiculousness that surrounds the day’s festivities because A) it’s not St. Patty’s Day yet B) it’s such a raucous event that stems from a parade that we’ve yet to witness [it exists but we’ve never been.] C) it just doesn’t seem right.

St. Patty's Day 2007, the gangDepending on who you ask, it’s good natured fun/insanity that revolves around early morning drinking, marathon citywide partying and more often than not, adults behaving inappropriately as a result of all of the above. If you calculate back to last year’s events, I was about 3 months pregnant and didn’t participate in the imbibing that brought out of town relatives and friends. With Jeff still under the weather, it was my turn for a social outing. So while the boys hung out at home, I went over to our neighbors’ condo down the block and had mimosas, bloody marys and chocolate chip pancakes– a much more subdued version of years past. As usual, I made Corned Beef and Cabbage for lunch for everyone. In contrast to my usual recipe, I braised the beef in Guinness. Anything braised in beer is pretty damn delicious if I say so myself.

Instead of checking in on Jeff and Jack via cellphone, I marched the block back over to our place to physically check in over the course of the day. That’s one good thing about being urban, well at least in our predicament: friends are just a block away. As a side note, because we’re so far from family, we decided that close proximity to friends will be a prerequisite for when we finally do move to the suburst.pattys early morning linesbs. It rocks not having to drive anywhere, especially on days like that.

I’m very forgetful when it comes to charging my cellphone, so as luck would have it, when I separated from our group for a few hours to visit Jeff’s friend in his absence, you guessed it…I lost my friends for the rest of the day. I ended up hanging out with Jeff’s friends and played Beer Pong for a few hours until I remembered that whether I like it or not, I will have a 5 month old wailing at 5am. I stumbled home by cab and reconvened with my boys, who were sitting there waiting for me.
It sounds so wrong to admit that I was out gallivanting thst.pattyscarbombse streets while my baby and husband were at home, but you know what? I haven’t let down my hair like that since early 2006. Whether it’s all day socializing or a day of pampering, everyone deserves a day to let loose. This was my day of freedom.

Jeff remained on diaper/bottle duty for several hours until I slept off the effects of Beer Pong. And just like I predicted, I was up and at ’em at 5am on Sunday morning. Regardless of what I chose to do the day before, when the boy calls, I answer. Looking back, I’m sad that I missed out on hanging out with Jack all day on Saturday. But in the same token, it felt good to have time to unwind with friends, to recharge in a way. Since I bowed out earlier rather than later on Saturday, I can’t say I was one of those adults behaving inappropriately. Having fun is one thing, going overboard is something I’ve outgrown.

We’ll leave that kind of fun to the amateurs!

As you may or may not know, we’ve been known to frequent the local watering holes pre-Jack. Since Jack has become our social life, every now and then we’ll go separately to make guest appearances and meet up with our neighbors.

This weekend was Jeff’s turn to have a social life while I remained on diaper duty.

As he was adjusting his ballcap atop his weekend hair, he turns to me and says,

I’m going to the bar around the corner to meet the neighbors for a few hours. Hat or no hat?

Me: mmmm. Not that hat. Dress it up with the WRV hat.

Jeff: Um, it’s not like I’m going to pick up any chicks or anything.

Me: Even if you were, WHERE would you put them.

Jeff: You and baby can hang back in the West Wing and we chill up here.