The Night Before Kindergarten

I can’t stop thinking about the night before you were born.  I had fettucine alfredo for dinner and made Daddy take a shower about 9pm because the contractions were picking up.  I put my favorite Bowdoin sweatshirt on and off we went to Newton and our lives changed forever.

Five and a half years later, you are now sound asleep in our happy home Newton, and I wore that same Bowdoin sweatshirt to the Williams playground on Labor Day when all 5 0f us went to the playground this afternoon. We watched you ride your bike there,  we watched you play with your sister and go on to pontificate that the jungle gym wasn’t challenging enough for you!  We read a book about books tonight because you were so excited to start school tomorrow, you picked out your outfit, wanted to eat your grapes that were packed in your lunch, and practiced your teacher’s name, Mrs. Mulholland.  No one is more ready for school than you sweet girl.  You won’t look back and you will love every minute of learning and playing.  Your love of life, friends, learning and fun is so pure.  You are thoughtful, and kind and a natural leader.  You cried like I did when I was your age when you couldn’t make a perfect Number 2.  You still want to be a dentist and you said that you’d help the kids reach things that you could.  You are not one bit nervous, only excited.  You can even do simple math.  You are so independent, adaptable and well adjusted.  There is no question that you are going to be a star student.  You will study so much and work so hard and you will do so well.  I just know it.  You will do so very well.  xoxo

A Preschool Graduate

It’s hard to believe that the Sheriff is officially a preschool graduate.  She did it, walked the ACNS lawn on Friday June 3 (Great Grandma’s 1st anniversary) and proudly got her diploma wearing her watermelon dress.  She sang songs with her friends and recited a poem, after the parents and grandparents were treated to a video montage capturing their fabulous year as Dinos with Dawn & Colleen, and after Ace and the moms shed a bunch of tears.  Feels like yesterday we brought her home from the hospital to the G Street barracks.  Feels like yesterday she was learning to run around M Street Park and Castle Island.  Now she zips down Maple Street on her two wheel bike, plays in her climbing tree or the dog pen pretty much unsupervised, and would run off to any of Newton’s playgrounds to play if we let her.  She’s a sweet, kind and sensitive soul.  She’s so perceptive and witty and responsible.  She is the self-proclaimed “rule follower” in the house and she always thinks about others.  She is so ready for kindergarten and she is bound to thrive at Williams.  She takes after her mom and does activity workbooks for fun.  She can print her name and spell Mom, Dad, Alli and Jack.  She can even do basic addition.  Go get em Mags! The world is yours…

And ACNS truly is a special place and we are so lucky it’s right down the street from us.  Both Maggie and Ace have made great friends there.

The Deputy also got to partake in the graduation day’s fun, and a popsicle at the Cove, but did NOT want her picture taken with her Pony class.  Her end of year performance was outstanding, just like her first dance recital where The Lion Sleeps Tonight was the biggest hit.  So.darn.cute.  The Deputy loves to watch the “bideo” of herself on stage over, and over, and over again. She also likes Ace’s homemade “basagna.”

And the Captain continues to bang around the house in all of his little boy cuteness.  Getting teeth has not been easy for the little man, but he’s almost there.  He’s working on more words and right now Dada is his favorite, along with “Yeah,” more, my turn, and ball.  He loves to point, play with his sisters in the garage and at the playground, play with bubbles, carry around a snack cup in one hand, drink out of a glass by himself, and is finally sleeping through the night and has taken over the status of best sleeper in the house.

The kids all enjoyed a weekend with Joker while Ace went to Nantucket in April, a weekend with Ace while Joker went to Vegas in May, a weekend up in Maine over Memorial Day for the Indy 500, and a weekend in Webster when Ace & Joker went to Mexico for a wedding.  Up next is Newport for Joker’s bday but then Ace and Joker are staying put for the summer with the kiddos and will enjoy some down time with them.  It’s been a whirlwind spring, filled with lots of travel and fun; it’s always something.  And that, my friends, is better than nothing.

Disney Bonanza 2016

What a great trip we had with the whole famdamily (as Joker would say) at the Grand Floridian, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and MGM Studios.  So grateful for Babs and A-Choo’s generosity for this 40th wedding anniversary celebration trip. Ace and Joker can only hope they will be so lucky to do such a trip with their grown kids and their kids some day!!

A kickoff family dinner at Disney Springs started the trip off so nicely.  The Deputy began her love affair with carousels that night and it continued the whole trip.  The GF pool was a big hit with the girls on Sunday — the Sheriff did the water slide solo and the Deputy did about 100 jumps without a life jacket.  So proud of both of them!  And the Captain was a little water bug too — he’d stay in all day if we let him.  A huge thanks to AK for all she did the whole trip for us, and esp for the special girls treat of princess pedicures.  #sospoiled #bestauntever.

The Hoopty Doo review was awesome on Sunday night!  Can’t beat the fried chicken, corn bread and mashed potatoes.  Not to mention all the booze you can drink!  Best deal in town.  And so good, so good!  Babs and A-Choo did a little wedding anniversary dance and the kids loved “A-Choo’s friends.” (aka the people in the show).  The Sheriff even wanted to get on stage but had to find her way back to the table when they told her the cast had been filled.  That girl has so much confidence — love it! #girlpower.  Ace also had an early-in-the season reminder about why moms never should wear white jeans.  But she will continue to do it again, again and again in the coming months.  Thank goodness for bleach.

Monday morning, the princess breakfast in Norway was perfect and all the girls loved having their pictures taken with the leading ladies…and the lack of people at that hour at the park was just divine.  So.many.people.pouring through the gates at Disney.  It’s truly incredible.

Best part of Epcot may have been the amazing playground!  The Captain didn’t want to leave.  Except when he and Cousin O were asleep at the wheel and both took a snooze for Babs in the stroller.  #strollersnoozesarethebest

The Magic Kingdom of course never disappoints and it was great to be back.  The girls had a blast.  A special moment for Babs was the all family ride through Small World.  No wait, no changes, just like Dziadziu would have had it!

A-Choo especially enjoyed his Dole whips and took the Captain to the Polynesian Tuesday night to share one just with him — so lucky! The Captain also enjoyed eating (someone else’s) gold fish that had spilled all over the ground at the MK — will somebody feed this kid?

Highlights for the girls were the carousel, the tea cups, the race track (esp with Onkle Karsten), Dumbo, staying up late 2 nights at the MK and watching the fireworks, Splash Mountain for Ace and the Sheriff (though Ace teared up at the end regretting having put the Sheriff through that last drop!), the mine train roller coaster for all the Ardini ladies, Peter Pan for the Bardinis, the Sheriff playing the Beast with Belle (the Deputy was a salt shaker), and the Pirates of the Caribbean for the Sheriff (the Deputy made sure everyone at the park knew that “no like Jake.”)

The Captain was a good sport about the whole trip really, and tended to get fussy when his diaper was not yet changed at 3pm each day or when we ran out of yogurt tubes.  Or when he lost a cute Polo loafer at Epcot.  Can’t really blame the guy.  He did try to jump out of the boat into Small World, and got stuck in Space Mountain with Joker.  He did go on Dumbo with Ah-Choo and Ariel’s Grotto with Ace and the Sheriff.  He even had his own private Mickey and Minnie meeting while the Deputy was passed out in the stroller at Animal Kingdom – so special.  He slept in the bathroom and bonded with Cousin O. He rolled with it and we owe him one!

Speaking of characters, the Deputy basically managed to avoid all characters except for princesses and Doc McStuffins.  When the Sheriff met Donald at Animal Kingdom, Ace kept the Deputy facing the other way in the stroller.  She refused to meet Mickey and Minnie, Donald, Pluto, the Easter Bunny, or any other character along the way really.  To each her own!  She still had fun!

The Frozen sing- along was worth the price of admission at MGM, and Ace will never ever ever go on that insane Areosmith rocking roller coaster again.  But she and Joker did spend about 15 minutes of alone QT with the German kids, fed them ice creams and even managed to keep them clean (“Stacey get me those wipes STAT” yells Joker. Ace had never seen Joker so fired up over wipes before!).  They were so proud of themselves.  Cousin E reported that her fave part of the trip was seeing the Sheriff and Deputy – #sosweet #cousinlove #deutschland #girlpower.  She wants to know when we will be visiting Hamburg — to which Joker replied “when you get married.”  Always a Joker!

Thursday night pizza party with Babs and A-Choo was awesome — no parents allowed was the moto!  AK, Ace, Joker, Aunt M  and Onkle K had a big kids’ night out for sushi. So good and so nice of B&A to babysit.

Ace is going to take it easy on the pictures until this summer — the kids are a little over saying cheese and smiling.  But she’s happy to have gotten a few gems from the week long stay.  She knows everyone will look back on the trip with great memories and a lot of love. And hopefully Joker will make our kids the same kind of picture booklet with these photos when we return… in 35 years. 🙂





The early part of 2016

It was a great holiday season and start to 2016 at the barracks.  Christmas highlights included the American girl extravaganza with dolls, outfits and accessories abounding, a doll house residing now in the Deputy’s room, fun board games, Elsa hats, Northface jackets, new kicks for the Captain, a fun Christmas Eve at the Lipskis with a quality Yankee Swap, and a great family Christmas at the barracks.  The Captain also has been enjoying his trucks, his balls, and his cookies (3rd kid!), as he hugs his way around the house, pointing, shaking his head when you ask him to say Mama, and generally just stealing heart with that sweet smile.  He may not say much but he’s such a love bug.

January 2016 brought a new babysitter – April on Mondays and Wednesday mornings, more YMCA basketball with the Ducks and Coach Mommy (love it!), another round of swim classes at Boston College, the Deputy’s start to dance class on Thursdays, a trip to Maine while Ace was in St John for a long girls weekend, and sledding at cousin Caroline’s birthday party!

As for the babysitter payroll, April joins the ranks of Tanya and Rachel in our current mix.  Love all of them.  Tanya promises free braces for the kids someday.  We need that in writing.  She’s our local yocal who helps me navigate Williams, Auburndale Station camp and where to sled.  Rachel is like Ace’s little sister on Fridays– she’s such a kind soul and so good with the kids.  And April is still new but seems great.  We are lucky to have such awesome help!  Before that we had Cassie for the summer — she was just OK, kinda hard to talk to.  Then there was Becky.  We loved her and could always tell when she’d gone out boozing the night before.  Sweet girl.  Just not as motivated as Tanya, that’s for sure!

No Like Santa!!!

Well, if there is a theme to the Deputy’s holiday-ing, it has to be that “No like Santa!!”  They say that fear of characters is a sign of intelligence, and I sure do hope so because if “they” are actually right for once, this child is a genius.  And then some.  The level of fear that reaches her body when the old guy is in the same room as she is for real!  Outside Santa’s house this weekend at Santa’s Village with the Sherrys, she was shaking so badly.  And it wasn’t that cold out.  The little lady has a serious issue with the old guy.  She also seriously dislikes cats.  But she adores her grandfathers.  “where the grandfathers?” “I’m gonna draw my grandfathers” She is such a funny kid.  She cracks Ace and Joker up every. single. day with her playful deep voice and crazy lines.  “I love you too too” is Ace’s favorite.  Goppy is her imaginary friend — who happens to be “both a boy and a girl.”  “Who’s An-f-ony?” “I want to look at pictures on your phone.”  “everybody, do the jack”.  Oh that little girl has brought us so much joy, words can’t even explain it.  She’s had a tough year being dethroned by the Captain, so Ace and Joker try to do little things for her when they can.  Stubborn and headstrong, she lights up a room and melts her heart with her sweet smile. The Sheriff takes such great care of her at school – they sit together at lunch, nap together and the Sheriff lets the Deputy play with her friends.  Oh can they fight, but their bond is so strong already.  It’s one of the greatest joys of my life to be able to watch grow.

The Deputy is finally sleeping in her own own room, since the Captain now has the Red Sox room. All three kids sleeping in three separate rooms, none of which belong to Ace and Joker.  Woo hoo.  The gift of sleep may have just returned to the barracks.  Ace and Joker are pretty much giddy given how rested they now feel.  It’s like 2009 all over again!  Well, sort of!



Happy Birthday Captain Jack!!

Hard to believe a year has passed since our happy little man arrived!  What a year it’s been.  We are just about settled into life as a family of five, but admittedly it took a while.  Managing 3 under 4.5 can be quite a comedy routine sometimes.  We can probably think of other words to describe it too…but we survived and everyone is happy and healthy, albeit, a bit sleep deprived!  We couldn’t be happier with the way things are right now.

As for the Captain, he’s taking some steps and will be full blown walking very soon.  He’s also eating toilet paper, pulling hair, playing under the table and in the dishwasher, climbing on anything, playing in the cabinets, eating us out of house and home already, and smiling so much!  He hasn’t quite mastered the Deputy’s favorite adorable phrase right now “I love too too!” but we are not worried. Boys are slow, right?!

The epic Octoberfest birthday party at the barracks we were planning for the little guy (and us, let’s be honest) got foiled by a rainy and cold forecast.  So thankfully at the last minute the Southie bowling alley came through for Ace, and we were able to pull off a throw-back 1st birthday party, just like the Sheriff’s.  It was nice to be back in the old hood, lots of memories there!

Soccer and swim are in full swing, and of course the Sheriff’s dance class – the thing she loves the most right now.  Thankfully the parents there are the chillest around – the soccer parents are the worst!  The Sheriff tried out golf in the early fall too- it was “something to do” as Joker would say.

The Deputy came through like a champ and dominated potty training in the end and was good to go to ACNS full time as of Columbus Day.  We said good bye to CCLC and the Deputy is now in the Pony class at ACNS with the Sheriff, learning more songs than ever before!   The girls favorite thing to do right now is to dress up in Ace’s closet with her high heel shoes on at night and give a performance for Ace and Joker before bed – some versions of “Where Oh Where is Jack O Lantern?” “5 Little Pumpkins” or “The Nut Song.”  It’s super cute.

We had a nice trip to Edaville Railroad over Columbus Day weekend, a nice fall picture session in the Boston Commons and dinner on Beacon Hill, a trip to the local church pumpkin patch, a play date with the Sheriff’s friends, a trip to Bowdoin for Homecoming, Ace and Joker’s 6th wedding anniversary, and lots of Halloween fun.  It’s been nice to be home and just spend time with the family.  Happy fall 2015 — such a great time of year!

Summer Days with the Famdamily

If there is one phrase that describes August 2015, it very well could be chaos abounds at the barracks and beyond.  With the Sheriff’s preschool closed for the whole month of August, Ace and Joker had to patch together day care options for the little lady.  Lots of days in Maine at Babs and Ah-Choo’s where little kids’ camp was priority #1, followed by Big Daddy’s ice creaming, beach timing, pirate shipping, tomatoe picking with Ah-Choo and lipsticking with Babs.  And Drakes Island beach never disappoints, especially at low tide.  August brought warmer water and lots of water time for the girls!

A week at the Cape with Ace, Auntie, Babci, G$, the Deputy and Captain of course, and the Lipski ladies.  The girls loved hanging with their cousins of all ages.  It was like three sets of twins under one roof — Ab and Nat, G$ and the Deputy, and the Captain and CK$.  Thank goodness for Babci and Cioci Julie – holding down the fort and helping so much with all the kiddos.  Highlights were a great beach day at Mayflower and a few at West Dennis, a successful meltdown free dinner out at Chapins (yeah!), playground runs, a rainy afternoon at the Cape Cod kids musuem, a visit from Dziadz, some beautiful photos, and all around QT with the cousins.  Next year, we look forward to the little ones being another year older for this trip 🙂

Then came a few days at the Lake with Captain Dziadz where MPS tennis camp on the to-do list.  Per usual, the fishies and duckies were well fed, the kyak was much enjoyed and the Deputy fell off the dock a couple times.  Good thing for a fast acting Joker …and life jackets!  The $ kids bday party was another nice day with the fam-damily at the lake — did someone bring the tank of gas for the grill?!

Next came some fun adventures with the Sheriff and AK around the big city where the Sheriff made out like a bandit and got brandy new, hot pink, big girl sneakers with real ties at Nike Town!  Thanks AK!  And she also had a blast in Sudbury with the Lipskis skateboarding, making cupcakes, and mini-golfing with ice cream — all in one day!

Meanwhile, the Deputy never disapppoints with her quick wit and silly personality, and awesome vocabulary, particularly when she replaces “my” for “I”  (“no my want to”; “because my want to”)   She also has been on the high speed potty train this month, but it’s not really going anywhere.  Her ACNS start looks like it’s going to be delayed unfortunately due to her refusal to be bribed by cookies, M&Ms, and ice cream.  Ace & Joker will try anything — she just won’t bite!  Stubborn Polack!

And the Deputy continues to be a happy happy Jack!!  The kid is just so good natured, smiling so much, loving his mommy (I hope always!), and boy, can he eat!  Breakfast the other day consisted of two eggs, a bannana, a piece of french toast, blueberries, and some sausage.  He’s 10 months!  Not walking et but close.  Looks like the Deputy is going to take the birth weight champion title of the three kiddos(8.9, 10.1, 8.10lbs), and the first walker title (14 mos., 10 mos., ___ mos.), and possibly best sleeper.  The Captain certainly is not getting the best sleeper title, but has FINALLY started sleeping through the night.  Just took one miserable night. Sorry buddy!!

In other Captain-related news, his christening was a nice hot Sunday at an air condidtioned BC law chapel with cousin CK$, with a family party back at the Lawn on A.  Blue Ribbon catering never disappoints, nor does Fr Fred!  Love that guy.  Such a nice day with all the family, as the Sheriff used to say.

The Sheriff and Joker both got new bikes in the month of August.  So sporty and a great thing for them to do together.  A healthy fall is in store for the gang of 5 with lots of sports, exercise and healthy eating– of course with a few parties thrown in there.  The summer of 2015 is officially in the books and the bags have been unpacked one last time.  What a great one it was.  We’re onto Cinncinnati.

Summer of 2015

So, I generally try to do one of these a month but the reality of our life with three kids and no sleep has set in (the Captain only sleeps for a 2-3 hours at a time…stilll..and he’s 8 months old!).  Although Ace looks like she’s aged 10 years in 10 months, it’s all good.  But June pretty much past us by in a blur as we said goodbye to Grandma and all that was at Normandy Ave.  She was so special and will be my heart forever.

Turn around and today is July and now the Captain has a tooth, loves to eat shoes, crawl, hates bumps in the road, can pull himself up, loves to eat eat eat and talk talk talk.  But he doesn’t sleep.  Did I mention that?  But he is soooo darn happy and smiley, it’s hard to not have a melted heart around him.  He loves snuggles and laughs so much at his silly sisters.  They love to help with him — the Deputy especially loves eating his food, while telling Ace she is helping feed him.  She’s a good little negotiator even at 2.  She also is the funniest 2 year old around and is working on  her “I”s and “my”s – some favorite phraases right now are —  “yes my do” “my do it” “no can r’member.”

The gang is settled into life at the Newton barracks, making some progress in the decorating department, slowly but surely.  Ace and Joker sure do love entertaining and having cookouts and people over, even if the play room gets trashed beyond belief.  We just hosted the Teams Sherry for a nice little Friday evening the other day and lots of cousin play.

The Sheriff and Deputy are loving ice cream at Wally’s and Ace and Joker couldn’t be happier with the location of their home – walkable to everything imaginable, close to Boston and work, a great mailman, a pack of wild turkeys, and nice neighbors so far!

The summer of 2015 is in full swing and the girls are having a blast with Babci and Dziadz on their Thursday adventures — they’ve hit the Roger Williams Zoo, the Boston Children’s Musuem and Davis Farmland already (with Team Sherry).  Not sure who’s more pooped at the end of the day — the girls or B&D??!!

Right now, we are enjoying our annual trip to #5 at Drakes Island.  Such a special and beautiful place, and so fun to watch the Sheriff go to little kids camp this year and enjoy the beach so much.  The Deputy is loving the driveway play and tooling around on her trike.  She walks around like she pretty much owns the island!  We look forward to doing this every year!

Babs and Ah Choo are showing their grandkids a great time, as always, and the kids love playing with Cousins E and O.  The German flag is flying at #2 in our of the German statesman, Onkle K, in attendance this week.  Ah Choo even made a guest appearance this AM at #5 to make the girls pancakes.  So sweet.  Love hanging with Aunt M and AK, and Ace and Joker even had a great date night at the Tides Beach Club last night – such a treat for them!  The Permaguttos show up for the 4th! What a great week!!


Saying Goodbye to Grandma

Family and friends, thank you for gathering here today to celebrate the life, the long, happy, full life, of my dear grandmother, Wanda Katherine Baron. This past week, I thought a lot about my Grandma and what I wanted to say about her, how I wanted to say it.  I remember standing up here a little over a year ago and sharing with many of you memories of my grandfather and how close Stephanie, Michael, Kevin and I were to our grandparents.  As I tried to put this speech together and as we shared our favorite Grandma memories these past few days, I decided, instead of talking about her today, I would talk to her. So here is a letter to Grandma, with love, from your grandchildren:

Dear Grandma,

Let me start by saying that you were the perfect grandmother to us.  You gave us so many memories, traditions, laughs and stories, it’s hard to know where to begin.  I hope you know how much gratitude we have and how lucky we feel for having you in our lives for almost 40 years.

Usually your day started at some insane hour like 4:30 or 5am – you could never sleep in.  Before Grandpa, the sleepy head in the house, awoke, you already would have baked two pies and some rice krispie treats, done the wash, ironed Kaz’s shirts and packed the picnic basket for the afternoon’s cookout at the lake. You were one of the most active and energetic people we ever knew – only sitting still long enough to knit your gorgeous blankets.

The blankets.  Thank you for your beautiful handmade blankets.  We all have them, treasure them and use them all the time.  We will forever think of you when we snuggle up on our couches with grandma’s blanket.  And thank you for having the foresight to make each of your unborn great grandchildren a baby blanket years before they came along.   You tucked them away in the attic and made sure we got them when our children arrived.  That was such a special gift and so amazing that you thought to do that.  Of course, you only accounted for 8 (not 9) great grandchildren, but that’s OK.  Baby Jack has the really big one that used to be on your couch.  I hope that’s OK.

Grandma, you were so beautiful.  Looking at pictures from the olden days, it was no wonder Grandpa was captivated by you.  When you met him dancing at the Polish hall in Uxbridge, he didn’t stand a chance. You pretty much demanded that he propose and the rest is history.  For almost 70 years together, you were an amazing and supportive wife, but behind the scenes, we always knew you were the boss.

And we loved that about you.  A shrinking violet you were not.  Thank you for teaching me and Stephanie how to be strong, opinionated, maybe sometimes unapologetic, women.  You were a lady ahead of your times that’s for sure.  And if you were voting in the next election, it certainly would have been for your girl Hillary.

Not surprisingly, you worked hard your whole life both inside and outside of your home.  You were today’s version of a working mother, first in the Uxbridge mills and then as a hairdresser. Somehow, you managed it all.  You also were an entrepreneur – on Saturday mornings at like 7am, your tiny kitchen turned into a hair salon for little old ladies getting permanents, soon to be overrun by grandchildren wanting to be fed lunch or better yet, candy from the candy dish.

You lived an authentic, full, fun life.

Grandma, you took amazing care of your children Deanie and Kaz.  It was your life’s greatest work.  You always said – two kids was enough, a boy and a girl.  You showed Deanie how to be an outstanding wife to David, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend, all things she excels at today. You loyally stood by Kaz’s side and made his life easier for as long as you could, helping him around the lake house and with me and Steph, and of course always making sure your Golden Boy was well fed.

We miss your meals more than we can ever say.  What we all wouldn’t give for another Saturday lunch at Normandy Ave or Sunday picnic at the lake where Grandma’s steaks, fried potatoes, noodles with farmers cheese, and a cut upcucumber, and rye bread were served up.  Back when we were younger, we never appreciated all of the work that went into all of those meals.  You never thought of yourself as a good cook, but to us, you were the best.

You also were kind of quirky.  You never told us your age and for the longest time I never knew what year you were born.  You read trashy romance novels and had a thing for white porcelain cats.  Your love for shower caps was particularly amusing you and used them for everything – especially as a form of saran wrap to cover pies and food.  You had a peculiar affinity for flamingos and loved the color pink – which ultimately led to the bench in your back yard being painted the brightest color pink imaginable.   It was pretty awesome.  You were a speed demon behind the wheel, and I never really did feel safe while you were driving.

You could never, ever find the ice cream scooper in the silverware drawer, and boy did we ever get some good laughs over the racket you created every time you looked for it.  I can still hear you mumbling “Where is that darn thing?” over the clatter of the silverware.

You loved all of your grandkids but you cannot deny that you always were fiercely protective of Kevin.  Did you ever yell at us for allegedly excluding him from our games, or for letting the door repeatedly slam in his face!  Remember the time when we dressed him up in the Santa suit and sent him upstairs at Christmas?  Or all the times he got upset when we played Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer because he thought you were the Grandma in the song; or the time you wrapped up a huge box of toilet paper holders and tissue boxes because you thought he liked playing with those things; turns out he has more expensive taste and wasn’t a fan of the cardboard gift that kept on giving.  And of course, Stephanie was the one whom you yelled at when she got caught buying Kevin beer in high school –not Kevin for his underage party-boy shenanigans!

You and I loved to pick blueberries and did it every summer together, we shared a love of politics and being blonde, and it warmed my heart to see how well you and Drew got along.  “Call me Wanda” is what you said to him when you two first and that he did.

You and Stephanie loved sharing a good cup of hot tea, though Steph’s alwayswas more sugar, less tea; but you let her get away with it. And did you look dazzling at her wedding.  You stole the show with that silver dress we’ll never forget.

And Michael and Audry gave you your life’s greatest joys –Baron and Caroline — at a time when you could still enjoy being a great grandmother.  That was special.  And it was Michael who helped you so much at the end.  Thank you Michael — and Uncle David — for being our eyes and ears.

More recently, my Allison would visit you on Thursday mornings with Kaz at the nursing home.  Alli talked about Great Grandma sitting in her chair and folding the napkins.  And Caroline always made you drink your water.  I’m so glad these kids, all of your 9 great grandchildren, could make you smile these last few years. Two of them, Hannah and Charlotte, bear your beautiful middle name, Katherine.  Sorry we never listened to you and named one of the girls Wanda.

Beyond us, you so loved your Kosciak family.  You always considered yourself an Uxbridge girl and I don’t think you ever forgave Grandpa for moving you to Webster like 60 years ago, which was otherwise known as Siberia in your book.

We remember trips with you to visit Babci and Dziadzy when we were little, and now we have memories of our great grandparents, as well as stopping for pink ice cream on the way home.

The Kosciak Family Picnic and Christmas Party were, hands down, your favorite days of the year.  You always were so excited to see your extended family and loved bringing treats for all of the great nieces and nephews – earning you the title of “Candy Lady” to those who would confuse you with your look alike sisters Celia and Jenny.

And you loved your siblings so much, and in your later years, looked forward to lunches with Cioci Jenny, Cioci Celia, Uncle Eddie and Uncle Louis every Thursday.  Thank you for keeping your family close and giving us the gift of knowing our second and third cousins.  To steal Peggy’s line, enjoy that Kosciak polka party up in the sky!

The greatest family tradition of all that you gave us was learning to make pierogi.  You taught each of us in your kitchen, and our spouses even love it now too.  We will do our best to always make them together as a family, and if we can’t all be together, will fry them up ourselves with lots of butter from Atlanta to Virginia to Massachusetts.

Grandma, we could go on and on, but I will close now with one of my first Stephanie screaming in my dad’s arms because she didn’t want to leave your house.  She wanted to stay with you.  She didn’t want to go.  She knew that Grandma’s meant the candy dish (stocked with your signature smarties and twizzlers), wiffle ball in the backyard, sleep overs in slumber bags with pounds of bacon in the morning, the hole in the back yard to China, the swing set, the kiddie pool, the chairs with our names on them, countless readings of the Golden book Tommy Visits the Doctor on the kitchen floor, the dog house, and the ultimate playland that was your basement.  All of these things – orchestrated by you —  to make us happy.

Grandma, just like Stephanie so many years ago as she left Normandy Ave, we are all screaming a little bit inside right now.  We don’t want to say good bye.  You made all of our lives better and taught us so much.  We promise to keep your and Grandpa’s memory alive, to talk about you often, to take good care of Kaz and Deanie, to share your traditions and your family with our children, and of course, to always have fun.  Because if there is one thing we always had together, it was a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.  Love always, Stephanie, Stacey, Michael and Kevin.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

So, it’s been a while since I last wrote, mostly because I can’t stay up for the life of me at night.  The Captain doesn’t sleep much, eats lots, but isn’t a huge fan of more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a time.  Needless to say, Ace falls asleep 2-3 nights a week with one or two of the kiddos at about 8pm, wakes at 10-11pm, sleep walks her way through cleaning up the kitchen, just in time for the Captain to eat…again.  He’s definitely going to be a big boy with a love of food — the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  A few days ago at his 6 month mark, he started to eat avacados and squash and, if he’s good, maybe this weekend, he’ll get some spinach with apples or pears.  For someone who doesn’t love love cooking, Ace does enjoy making baby food.  She leaves the bigger cooking tasks to Joker most days, who is much more talented in the kitchen than Ace and frankly enjoys it more.  Joker’s latest amazing dish is spaghetti squash  with spinnach and goat cheese.  It’s so so good and the girls like it b/c they think they are getting pasta – a rarity in the generally low carb household.

So glad spring has arrived!!  Ace and Joker were about to check themselves into a looney bin March thanks to the Sheriff and Deputy’s crazy ways, but thankfully it seems like things have mellowed out some.  Maybe it’s b/c the snow is now gone and the winter from hell is over, and we are able to run around outside and enjoy the newly uncovered yard and outside toys.  Whatever it is, Ace and Joker are happy to have their patience back and glad things seem to be normalizing (somewhat) as a family of five.

The brightest spot in March was a wonderful visit by Aunt Mary, and Cousins E + O from Germany.  They stayed with the gang during he nanny transitions (you live and you learn!) and everyone just had a great time hanging out, playing, and catching up.  A highlight was a trip to the “Boston’s Children Museum” with dinner at Pastoral, a birthday party at a trampoline park with the Sheriff and Cousin E, and Easter in Maine.  Ace and Joker stayed at “#5”, the kiddos had a great egg hunt (times 5) at #2 compliments of Ah-choo, and the Sheriff, Deputy and Captain all looked adorbs in their blue seersucker.  Joker couldn’t stop Ace from dressing the Captain in knee socks and white boots with his shorts suit — he looked so handsome and Ace loved it.  Joker can dress the Captain for every Easter hereafter!

As spring abounds, the kids keep us laughing with the things they say and do.  The Sheriff likes to tell knock knock jokes about chickens and turkeys crossing the road (we saw a turkey in our yard the other night!).  The Sheriff also can be so so sweet when she gives you a random “Daddy I love you. ” or “Mommy, I love you.”  Usually, she’s not up to something and she’s just being the sweet Sheriff that she is, but sometimes she’s definitely buttering you up.  She knows how to play people even at such a young age.

The Deputy also has a silly knock knock joke too that she came up with all by herself “Knock knock.  Who’s there?  Cookie.  Cookie who? Cookie dog.  Big giggle.”  So cute.  The Deputy also loves to call her diapers “#5s” just like the beach house on Drakes Island, and tells Ace to “go faster” in the car.  She’s liking the potty and has made good progress on that front — minus her desire to pee in Ace’s closet after her tub which she’s done twice recently! Crazy lady!  She and the Sheriff also have a new favorite rock song they learned from Joker — Living After Midnight — but the girls call it the “Bowdoin Song” even though they don’t let Ace sing it b/c it’s “Daddy’s song.”

The Deputy now likes to sleep in the “toddler bed” as she calls it and has given up on her crib, even though Ace and Joker were not pushing her out of it.  She’s fallen out  a couple times but she has a hard head.  She has three favorite books right now — “Moon, Tree, and Numbers.”  aka, Goodnight Moon, the Giving Tree, and the Numbers Book.  She also loves singing…really loudly lately.  Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle, she’ll sing anything.  Look out The Voice.  We have one spunky toddler that’s ready for ya!!!