Still Eating Leftover Cake

See that birthday cake? That thing was HUMONGOUS! Seriously, it weighed more than Ben. I had decided to downsize Ben’s cake from last year, but when the lady asked if I wanted 3 layers instead of 2, I didn’t think that it would end up as huge as it did. Many people commented that it was one of the tallest cakes they’d ever seen.

So anyway, we had Ben’s birthday party last weekend. Rather than having a huge shindig with tons of people, we decided to have a smaller party at the museum with just kids. Which still ended up being a ton of people. It was a lot of fun, even though our time in the room was pretty short…I’ll post up more pictures later…

Christmas Pictures!

Christmas was a little different this year. Since Dave was backup for work, we couldn’t attend our annual family Christmas, so we just stayed longer at his family party (which isn’t as far from the hospital as where my family party was). Ben scored a TON of presents, though his favorite was the Betty Crocker food and pan set that I got him. We’ve got a little chef in the making! He got a lot of puzzles - he loves to figure them out, with our help, of course. He even got a present from his godfather’s dog - Brody. We also took our annual family pictures - it was pretty funny this year since we tried to get Brody in some of the pictures. It was easy to get Brody to sit still, not so easy to get Ben to do the same! My dad, step-mom and sister also came to the party, and it was great to have them there. They left a little later on to go to the other party. I missed the big family shindig - going to midnight mass, coming back to the house with piles and piles of presents waiting, someone playing santa and handing them out, then opening the presents in one big flurry of ribbons and wrapping paper.

I tried starting a new tradition at our house - leaving cookies and milk for Santa. Ben didn’t really care for it much, but he was pretty excited when he woke up on Christmas morning to see that Santa had brought him presents - one of his favorite puzzles that he always plays with at the library and a Little Einsteins musical instrument set. He had asked Santa for “bells” and I think what Santa gave him was pretty close.

We then headed out to what was left of my family party (because you may remember that my family parties are often a 2 day affair). Ben had another load of presents to open there, including a remote controlled robot from his other godfather. He’s a little young to play with it (it’s made for 6 year olds) so us big kids got a kick out of trying to figure out the 30 key remote and chasing the little kids with it. Later on, Fata busted out her new Monopoly game - one that doesn’t use fake money…it uses credit cards and little credit card machine. It was pretty cool - well, VERY cool since for the first time, I actually WON a monopoly game. The game is really fun when you’re the one getting all the money!

So here’s my pictures from the holiday…I’ve got a lot more from our activities after Christmas, which I’ll post later. (hover in the top corners to go to the next picture)

With Mickey Silly Faces With Cousins 122708_ 113 The Puzzle Master
The Estacios The Felicianos Best Friends Look At Those Lips! Brothers
Alone Time with Hippo This is Her Trademark Face Winky The Food, Pt. 1 The Food, Pt. 2
Joking Around He's a Big Kid Sparkly Pooped! Listening to Music

For more pictures, check out my flickr set.

Wedding in Santa Monica

We had a great time in California last weekend. We were there for Dave’s cousin Cathy, who was getting married. We met her husband Marc several years ago when we went on a snowboarding trip to Mammoth. We immediately got along and had an awesome time, snowboarding/skiing and quoting Napoleon Dynamite the whole time.

We started off the weekend at Cathy’s place, with a mini reunion of the relatives. It had been a while since Dave’s mom and all her siblings had been together with all their kids. We all just hung out and watched “Dancing with the Stars” (Benjamin’s idea, of course). I got a really great pictures of Dave’s grandmother and all of her grandkids and her one great grandkid.

We were honored to have Cathy ask Ben to be her ring bearer. We were a little nervous that he wouldn’t be able to do it, so we practiced with him a lot. During the wedding rehearsal, he did a great job walking down the aisle. We practiced a million times, during the rehearsal and before the wedding. The kid had it down! He was walking like a pro!

We had a plan to have Dave be in the back with Ben and me in the front of the room, since it would be more likely that he would want to walk to me than the other way around. Dave would give Ben the cue to start walking and Ben would walk down to me. We prayed that it would go off without a hitch and that he wouldn’t throw the pillow at someone, since the actual rings were on the pillow. When the time came, they had put down the cloth aisle runner and sprinkled flower petals down the aisle. I was starting to get nervous - Ben didn’t practice with all the extra fluff!

So all the bridesmaids and groomsmen came down the aisle, and it was time for Ben’s performance. The door opened, Dave and Ben came through. As soon as he stood on the aisle, he started whining, “I don’t want to! I’m finished!” and as soon as he saw the petals, he said, “I want to play! I want to play!” He put down the pillow next to Dave and tried to pick up the petals. I was loudly whispering, “Benjamin! Come here!” But he paid no attention to me. By this time people were laughing and to me it felt like an hour had passed - I had no idea what to do! Do I go down the aisle, pick him up and drag him down the aisle? Dave eventually picked him up, to which Ben did the “i have no bones” things where he just becomes limp so you can’t pick him up, and he dragged Ben down the aisle. I took Ben from Dave, put the pillow next to the chair in front of me and we sat down, allowing the wedding procession to go on as planned.

It was a great wedding. The priest was a hoot. I was still a little anxious because there was still the moment where Ben had to bring the pillow up to the priest for the blessing of the wedding rings. He was already getting bored and fussy, and a pack of m&m’s was the only thing stopping him from starting chaos. It wasn’t a big room, so all his little comments were easily heard. When the priest mentioned the rings, I knew it was time. Time for redemption.

I stood Ben in the aisle and reached for the pillow. When I tried to give it to him, I realized that the lace on the pillow was stuck in the zipper of Ben’s diaper bag. I started pulling, but nothing happened. Dave was trying to help, too. Finally, the lace was unstuck and we got the pillow loose. I handed it to Ben and gave him a little push to send him down the aisle. Nothing. The kid was as still as a stone. Marc bent down and opened his arms and made a “come here” motion. I gave Ben one last push (some say it was a big shove, I say it was a gentle nudge) and he finally toddled up the aisle into Marc’s waiting arms. People aww’d. Some clapped. Me? A sigh of relief.

The rest of the wedding was pretty uneventful, in terms of Ben drama. Ben had a good time dancing with the flowergirl on the dancefloor as people were coming in for dinner. When we were waiting outside of the reception for the bridal party to be announced, Ben kept on wanting to go to Cathy and give her kisses, saying, "I want to go to the princess!" I was surprised that he was ok walking into the reception hall with the flowergirl without me, but I guess they had bonded throughout the weekend, so he was comfortable with her. Afterwards, he danced and had a good time, by the end of the night exhausted.

Here's some pictures from the weekend (hover near the top corners for navigation):

Cathy and Marc's Wedding-7 Practicing With his Great Grandma Cathy and Marc's Wedding-18 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-17 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-20
Cathy and Marc's Wedding-21 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-24 With the Flower Girl Cathy and Marc's Wedding-28 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-29 Eating Papa
Superman! Cathy and Marc's Wedding-34 With Tito Vinnie Empty Seats Dusty Pink Roses Box of Flowers 2
Introducing the Groom Cathy and Marc's Wedding-49 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-51 First Kiss The Kids Table Cathy and Marc's Wedding-59
Cathy and Marc's Wedding-62 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-65 Warming Up the Dance Floor With the Ready to Walk In Cathy and Marc's Wedding-73
Corrupting the Youth They Start so Young! First Dance Cathy and Marc's Wedding-78 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-81 Pooped!

Two Weddings, Whirlyball, Disney and a Pumpkin

Last weekend was a BUSY weekend - I knew that it was going to be a marathon, but it was seriously exhausting.

It started off on Friday with a trip to Woodfield. We decided to eat at Red Robin and ran into an old friend from college, some we hadn’t seen in more than a decade. It’s weird to run into people from college now - before when it would happen, it would be at clubs or bars and we’re out socializing anyway. Now, we’re at the mall or eating dinner at family joints and we’re introducing our spouses and kids. We then spent the rest of our time there hanging out at the Lego store.

Saturday morning I overslept, which made me off for the rest of the day since I had a plan for what I was going to do. After getting the family fed and Ben ready for his grandparents (where were taking him for the day) I was able to get ready. Dave was on call that day, so he was stuck at home while I made my rounds.

First off was Deo and Laura’s wedding. I actually got to the wedding on time, and it was a quick, beautiful ceremony. There were a lot of people from college there, it was nice to see people and catch up a bit. I got a little nostalgic during the ceremony, remembering how young we all were and now most of us were married, with kids or with kids on the way. Life goes by so fast!

Right after Deo’s wedding, I drove back home, changed into a t-shirt and jeans, put my hair up and ran back out to head out to Tall Steve’s whirlyball birthday celebration. I love whirlyball…I would say it’s my best sport. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically lacrosse played on bumper cars. It takes a bit for beginners to figure out how to maneuver the cars (because it’s not your normal bumper car steering wheel) and learning how to score (it’s easier to score with a gentle flick of the wrist than to whip it at the target), but once you figure that out, and how important teamwork is to win the game, you can be a master! Its a lot of fun and a great way to bring people together. We played a lot in X-Systems. Anyway, it was Tall Steve’s big “really old” birthday party, and it was nice to see old faces lugging around their new babies.

We left whirlyball early (after 1 too many games, but what could I do, we went into overtime!) to go home and change. My sisters came over and we all quickly changed, got into my car, and headed for Chinatown. We ran into some frustrating traffic on the way (why?!? it’s saturday!) but got to the Vince and Kim’s reception before too many people were there (Fata was in charge of bringing the wishing well for cards). Luckily, Claudine and I found some pretty good, legal parking on the main street. Although we’d been to Furama many times before - mostly for parties, this was our first Chinese wedding. Ten courses is a LOT of food! It was pretty much delicious (except for the cauliflower/broccoli in sauce - but veggies aren’t my thing). It was a good time, with some great music. By the end of the night my feet were aching and I was exhausted!

Whew - that was just one day!

On Sunday, we went to church, then headed home and watched the first quarter of the Bears game which ROCKED! Then we headed out with my cousin and her kids to see “Disney Playhouse Live!“. At first, we couldn’t tell if Ben was having a good time - he was so serious and intense as he was watching the show, he didn’t move at all and didn’t want to be touched. But then when intermission came, he yelled, “More!” and after we told him they were coming back, he kept on pointing to the stage and saying, “They’re coming back soon!” He was so happy and active during intermission, but as soon as the lights went down, he was back into serious statue mode. In the end, he loved it. He kept on talking about it and asking if we could go back to the show.


photo by gavin.fulmer

After stopping home for a bit, we went to my cousin Trully’s place for our annual cousin pumpkin carving night. Every year (except for last year, I think) we get together to carve pumpkins. This year was our best turnout every - we had about 16 people (not counting half people) come with 11 pumpkins carved. Carving pumpkins is pretty hard work, and we had joked that we didn’t have to use pumpkins as an excuse to get together - it was too tiring! However, I think it’s something that we all look forward to at this time of the year. We didn’t even bother with the kids - we just let them run around and fend for themselves.

Cleaning out the Insides Working on the Template Ready to Connect the Dots Dave Carves Taking Extra Care Marilyn's Posse
Ghost in the Graveyard Vampire Chick Alien Fata's Bats Little Reaper Bats
Pumpkin Face Grim Reaper Evil Clown Frankenstein Stitch 102008_ 120

So it was a pretty busy weekend for us! I’ve got a lot more pictures from Deo and Kim’s weddings, I’ll post them up eventually. (meaning probably never, but we’ll see!)

Someday We’ll Go All the Way

…and we’re getting a little closer today!

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Today the Cubs clinched the NL Central Division at Wrigley, and from what it looks like on the news, Wrigley field has become the biggest block party in the country! Although we won it last year, we didn’t clinch it by winning a game - we clinched it because another team lost. But this year, we won a pretty nervewracking game against our biggest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. Afterwards the team came back out on the field and sprayed champagne on the crowd and rejoiced with each other. Life is good in Wrigleyville!

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It’s hard not to get my hopes up - this year would be the perfect year to finally win the World Series - 100 years after the last win. I’m sure the rest of the fans feel this way…we just want it so bad!!!

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Supposedly, Cubs legend Ernie Banks asked Evanston, IL native Eddie Vedder (heard of him?) to write a song about the Cubs, and here’s what resulted. A song, though not as joyous as “Go Cubs Go” (a song that was heard pretty often this year), still conveys, on a deeper, sweeter level, how Cub nation feels. Comcast aired a nice video montage at the end of their broadcast today with the song:
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Someday We’ll Go All The Way
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Yeah, don’t let them say that it’s just a game.
Well, I’ve seen other teams and it is never the same.
When you go to Chicago, you’re blessed and you’re healed, The first time you walk into Wrigley Field.
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Heroes with pinstripes and heroes in blue, Give us the chance to feel like heroes do.
Whether we’ll win and if we should lose, we know Someday we’ll go all the way.
Yeah, someday we’ll go all the way.
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We are one with the Cubs, with the Cubs we’re in love.
Hold our heads tall as the underdogs.
We are not fairweather, but farweather fans.
Like brothers in arms, in the suites and the stands.
There’s magic in the Ivy and the old score board.
The same one I stared at as a kid keeping score.
In a world full of greed, we could never want more.
Someday we’ll go all the way.
Yeah, someday we’ll go all the way.
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Here’s to the men and the legends we’ve known.
Giving us faith and giving us hope.
United we stand and united we’ll fall
Down to our knees the day we win it all.
Yeah Ernie Banks said, “oh, let’s play two”.
I think he meant two hundred years.
Playing at Wrigley, our diamond, our jewel.
The home of our joy and our fears.
Keeping traditions, and wishes anew,
The place where our grandfathers’ fathers they grew.
The spiritual feeling if I ever knew.
And when the day comes for that last winning run, and I’m crying and covered with beer.
I look to the sky and know I was right today.
Someday we’ll go all the way.
Yeah, someday we’ll go all the way.
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Girls Night Out

My best friend is in town this week, so Dave took over the Ben-watching duties for the night and I went out with the ladies. We met up at a club in the suburbs - I thought I hadn’t been there before, but it turns out I had. There were three of us out, two of us had kids, and my friend from out of town is still living the single life. We had an awesome time just catching up on gossip, talking about our lives, and best of all, reminiscing about the lives we used to have.

It’s funny - back in the day, I wondered how I’d ever NOT want to go clubbing all the time. I loved to dance! It was so natural, so fun back then. Now, a night out takes a lot of planning beforehand - schedules need to be coordinated, kids need to be babysat. Once you get there, the music just isn’t as good as it was when you clubbed all the time. When something good comes on, you dance and have a great time, only to be disappointed when the DJ puts something crappy on afterwards.

But I had a good time hanging with my ladies. We had a lot of good laughs on the dance floor and sitting at the bar, making fun of each other and laughing at uncomfortable situations.

I also find it incredible that I came home at 3am - I was thinking my body wouldn’t last after 1am. But I’m up and could go for another half hour - I guess I’m not as tired as I thought I was! I’ll go to sleep now - we’ve got carnival/birthday fun going on tomorrow!

Fun with Sparklers

It’s 3am and I’ll probably be taking a turn driving tomorrow (er, today) to go back to Chicago, but I wanted to post a couple pics from this weekend. After Claudine and Dan’s big 4th of July bash, we decided to finish off the rest of the fireworks. After blowing most of them we realized that some delayed shutter pictures would look pretty cool. So here’s a sampling of our night’s shanigans…more tomorrow when I get back home.


Fata makes some circles with her sparkler


I had Fata, Claudine, Tall Steve and Dan run around the backyard with sparkers…it turned out pretty cool. The shutter is open for more than a second, so you only see the light, not the people.

Ben’s Birthday Pictures

As I said earlier this week, Ben’s party went well. My aunt from Cincinnati came to stay with us and she was a great help in getting the treat bags together.

The day of the party was definitely hectic. I made some last minute wings and cupcakes just in case there wasn’t enough food. We got to the party place (a multipurpose room at the local park district) about half an hour early, and immediate everyone got to work. If I didn’t have everyone there to help out - Dave’s family and my own - I would never have been able to get everything ready on time. My in-laws and my dad took care of getting the catered food all set up, Fatima and Melanie were on balloon duty, Dave’s cousin helped with the tablecloths, and I had my mini-helpers on table-confetti duty.

To my surprise, people came early - which means they came on time. Whatever happened to Filipino time*? Even the entertainment - the balloon artists came early. Not to worry, everything was more or less set up in time.

The rest of the day is pretty much just a blur. I think the reason why I freak out so much over these things is because I feel like I have to make sure that everything is ok, but I never have time to talk to people, though I have no idea what keeps me so busy. There were so many kids running around - luckily the balloon artists were so patient and made multiple balloons for kids (and the few adults that were brave enough to go in line). The kids had a blast with their balloon animals and having mini sword fights with their balloon swords. The adults had their fill of Italian beef, mostacolli and herbed chicken.

Ben’s birthday cake was humongous - I decided to go a little bigger in size, because people could always take leftovers home, but the cake looked much bigger than the sample that they showed me at the bakery. Ben did a great job blowing out his candles - we even did the whole “Happy Birthday” song twice. The cake was delicious - which I didn’t find out until after the party because I was “too busy” to eat some. We’ve still got a couple plates of it in our fridge.

All in all, it was a great party. Ben went crazy opening all his gifts - we’re trying to pace him in playing with them so he doesn’t get overloaded, but that’s not going to last!

Here’s some pictures:

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The Cars Cake 042008_ 184 The Champ! Unwanted Balloon Art Balloon Hula Girl
042008_ 155 042008_ 217      

* Filipino time means that you add an extra half hour to any timed event - 45 minutes if it’s a wedding

Post Birthday Catch Up

Ben’s party went off without a hitch. Kids had fun, people ate, candles were blown and leftovers were handed out. More to come!

Three More Days…

…until Benjamin’s birthday extravaganza!

As I said before, I hate planning parties. Even more so when I have to work a lot and work on the party on the side. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Tyson, we’re going with your balloon lady. Rachel, Ben’s cake is going to be from the bakery you had emailed me. I’m always paranoid if something is going to be good or not, so having referrals from friends is always comforting.

It’s a lot of stress, making the invitations, figuring out who is going to be invited - how many people are going to fit into the room we rented. There’s a lot of politics in terms of the ratio of how many friends vs. how much family vs. how many of our parents friends to invite. Since Dave and I both come from big families, it’s hard to limit the invite list. Next year - it’s Chuck E. Cheese, man!

So the invites have been sent, the food has been ordered, the cake will be ready, the balloon artists have been contacted. The next big thing I have to do is work on the goodie bags for all the little rugrats that are coming, which I’ve calculated to be about THIRTY.

If you haven’t been invited, sorry, you can pretend you’ve been invited and make your own balloon animals as if you were there.

I know I said I was going to send out crappy invites, but come on, would I ever turn away an opportunity to play around with photoshop? No way!