Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mama's camera gets b*t#h slapped

Watch this all the way through. The real action happens in the last few seconds.

(This is the defiant and aggressive mood we've been dealing with lately.)

Or view the video here.

truck fixin'

Last weekend we had some serious truck fixin' going on around here.

Rich's new radiator for his '61 Chevy truck finally came in so it was time to get it into the truck.

Rich and Garet donned their bandanas.

truck fixin'

So naturally, Charlie wanted to wear one, too.

truck fixin'

He was helpful, handing the guys tools and working a bit on his own "truck" (his battery powered Escalade).

truck fixin'

truck fixin'

Is it just me, or does he look like the Karate Kid?

truck fixin'

Friday, July 22, 2011

baby girl

Today was our full anatomy ultrasound.

We are so lucky that she is healthy.

And we know now, without any doubt, that the newest member of our family is going to be a sweet baby girl.

Check out the belly blog here.

baby girl phee @ 18 weeks

July Michigan trip

I always look forward to our Michigan trips like a child looks forward to Christmas. I plan it out, day dream at work about the idyllic vacation to be had in the prettiest state in the Midwest.

But much like Christmas, there are highlights (like presents) and low points (like being stuffed from too much dinner). You don't day dream about the low points and you forget about them soon after the holiday has passed. Our Michigan vacation felt much the same . . . like a good and overstuffed Christmas.

The trip started with the Phee visit. This was the weekend of the 4th spent in the home of Tom & Elaine. Rich's sister and her husband (and their son, Aidan) all camped out at the house together. While the guys were building fires or out on the town or just "plain visiting", the gals were chasing toddlers, prepping food for a BBQ and catching up on some gossip.

Phee Family Visit Collage, July 2011

Robin and I are both pregnant, 8 weeks apart. Our sons are nearly the same age, 9 months apart. So there is a kinship and comfort in being in her space. We are dealing with the same things. Which, right now, is extreme fatigue with the aforementioned toddler chasing and excitement in anticipation of our growing families.

Phee Family, July 2011 Michigan collage

Monday afternoon rolled around, Rich flew back to L.A., Charlie and I headed up out to start the Cunningham side of the visit.

My Dad blows me away with his sobriety. He'll be 1 year sober (and cigarette free) on July 31st. He put a lot of thought into getting ready for our visit. His house, my childhood home, is mostly back in order. Last year it was not a home. Not somewhere I wanted to be. Just a structure that used to have life and a family. This time, it felt like a home. He had everything cleaned, top to bottom. He had the front "blue room" prepared for Charlie and I. It was soothing, decorated exactly as my Mom had instructed just before she passed away, pretty.

Cunningham collage, July 2011

I cried. I don't know what's harder. Being in a house that feels like a shell of something that once was. Or being in a home that felt like my Mom had just passed through the rooms, putting everything in its exact place.

My brothers are wonderful and helpful and good Unkies to Charlie. We took a day trip to the John Ball Park Zoo in Grand Rapids. Charlie liked the monkeys and the camel ride with Kayle. I didn't like the chasing him down - literally chasing - every moment he wasn't in the stroller. By this point in the trip, Charlie started his steep decline into defiance and aggression.

After a day visit to Janet's home and plenty of big tractor riding with Uncle Dave, we spent the rest of the trip at the lake. This was the part of the trip that was similar to how you feel after too much Christmas dinner. Don't misunderstand, I love the lake. I love seeing Grandma Cunningham, Margaret & Greg, the cousins. I love it that Charlie can float in the lake, ride around on four wheelers, get dirty like a little boy should.

Cunningham Family, July 2011 Michigan collage

But this time, this trip, this experience felt broken. I won't go into details as I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate them posted here, but part of my family is moving in a different direction, taking a different road. And they are handling it with grace and civility and friendship (for which I am so grateful). But it doesn't change how it physically felt to be there without the entire clan. It felt less, it felt broken. I know, like everything else, it will get easier with time. I'll get used to the new normal.

By Sunday night, I was physically exhausted. And Charlie was testing me beyond any test he's ever put forth. I was craving home and rest and Rich and routine.

Clearly, we made it home. We quickly fell back into our daily life, and Charlie came off his high of defiance and aggression. It still rears its ugly head from time to time but its manageable.

And just like dreaming of a white Christmas, I'm already thinking about our next trip back to Michigan to introduce our little baby girl to the family. The fun and touching and comfortable moments with my family (both blood and married) far outweigh the exhaustion and the broken ones.

Gamma and Papa Tractor

This post is a looooong time coming. Better late than never.

While Rich and I were in Hawaii last month, Rich's folks took care of Charlie.

Such a spoiled little boy by his "Gamma" and "Papa" (the one with the tractor). Their babysitting visit included a trip to the Long Beach Aquarium, Downtown Disney, the Rainforest Cafe, bowls of ice cream shared with Papa, and lots of helping work on Daddy's truck.

On an extra thoughtful note, I had let Tom (Papa) know that the little plastic stool we had for Charlie to reach the sink wasn't working out. Not quite tall enough. So in Tom's suitcase were all the pieces of a beautiful, handmade wooden foot stool for Chazzy. Complete with his name.

foot stool from Papa Tractor

Thank you, Tom & Elaine, for all of your help and for taking such great care of Charlie!

Rich and Marci

Saturday, July 16, 2011

powder, pickles and a BBQ

We are in "that" phase with Charlie. He's 2 years, 7 months old and acts like a maniac most of the time.

We have to chase him from the tub to his room, trying to get him dressed.

bath time_July weekend_07142011_2011 (16)

bath time_July weekend_07142011_2011 (17)

Today, after nap time, Rich walked in to something that looked like the cocaine scene from Scarface. Baby powder EVERYWHERE. At first, Rich didn't see Charlie. Then, from around the corner, came Casper the ghost proudly declaring "I powder!" as he's coughing from all that he inhaled.

powder_July weekend_07162011_2011 (7)

powder_July weekend_07162011_2011

powder_July weekend_07162011_2011 (2)

During that pre-powder nap, Rich made his annual batch of pickles. This required a special trip to the farmers' market this a.m.

pickles_July weekend_07162011_2011

pickles_July weekend_07162011_2011 (20)

pickles_July weekend_07162011_2011 (2)

And I benefited from that farmers' market trip. Fresh berries.

berries_July weekend_07162011_2011 (4)

After a BBQ & dip in the pool with our friends, the Morads, we cleaned up, took showers, and retired to the patio to enjoy those fresh berries on some sorbet.

sorbet_July weekend_07162011_2011

sorbet_July weekend_07162011_2011 (10)

A typical summer weekend for us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

what a difference a year makes

Do you think these boys will pose on this swing every year until they're old men? That would make me happy. Very happy.

what a difference a year makes

where I'm from

I am from a small(ish) town on Lake Michigan, left side of the Mitten; from conservative Midwestern values.

I am from a large but modest house, so spotless you could eat off the floors, with beautiful wallpaper, holiday decorations and coffee brewing in the evening.

I am from Cunningham and O’brien, white collar and blue collar. Teledyne typists, brick layers, Bavarian pig farmers.

I am from Dick and Linda – resilient and practical, patient and supportive, always there.

I'm from Muskegon, Irish and Scottish and some other unknowns, from unseasoned food and never any onions.

I am from Maple trees, Weeping Willows and pine.

I am from a world whose climate my son always believes to be snow, from a wooded flat land along a pristine lakeshore.

I am from you’ll ruin your eyes if you sit so close to the TV and you’ll drive me insane if you keep opening & closing that door.

From summer cottages, deer shining, sneaking Schnapps and boys into the tent.

I am pot roast on Sundays, Faygo Red Pop at the lake, Little Debbie snacks in every lunch.

I am not raised with a God but with a moral compass of wrong and right. With friends bathed in The Holy Spirit and others running from it hard and fast.

I am from detailed photo albums stored in a hall closet, framed pictures of beautiful milestones on the wall. From a mostly happy childhood documented in photos, baby books, videos. Told in stories, carried through siblings, remembered in laughter.

* I saw this format here first, then directed here for instructions. Try it out, it's an interesting writing and recollection exercise.

where I am from
where I am from

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

hey, anonymous

I know you'll see this because you seem to be a frequent follower of mine.
More nasty comments left on the blog.

If you feel so strongly, why don't you stop hiding behind "anonymous" and just publish who you really are?


Michigan visit with the Cunningham Family - a preview

I have a lot to do now that I'm back to work so the lengthy blog posts & photo editing will have to wait.

But in the mean time, here is a photo of how Charlie spent much of his time the last half of the week. In Campbell Lake, swimming around.

Michigan trip, Cunningham family

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

miss you, Daddy

I'm sure we'll return home to a pile of pizza boxes and big hugs.

Michigan Trip, Phee Family 2011

Michigan Trip, Phee Family 2011

Michigan visit with the Phee Family - a preview

The Phee portion of our Michigan trip has ended, and Rich has returned to L.A.

Charlie and I are staying busy with the Cunninghams (and O'briens) but miss Rich. A lot.

We spent the past weekend with Rich's folks, his sister, her husband and their son Aidan. Aidan is 9 months older than Charlie and they are buds when we get together.

Here's a sneak peek at some of the Cousin Fest photos that will be posted later.

Michigan Trip, Phee Family 2011

Michigan Trip, Phee Family 2011

Michigan Trip, Phee Family 2011