Baby Patrick’s 1st Birthday

I can’t believe a year has rolled around since that long day in the delivery room. There is no escape from “The March of Time”. Baby Pat’s 1st birthday has come.

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#Baby Pat was almost a month premature and weighed a scant 5 lbs. 3 oz. But, like Frankie, he had some decent hair.

 

 

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At three-months old, he had his first Christmas. I could not resist making a “Tiny Tim” reference.

 

 

 

 

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We held off the Baptism. I didn’t want to subject family to holiday rates, and the possibility of a blizzard preventing an airport pick up. So, we waited until March, but then the idea of Baptizing Baby Pat on St. Patrick’s Day took root.

 

 

 

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Just before Springtime, His first tooth sprouted. Giving new meaning to “Spring Hath Sprung” 🙂

 

 

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He had a fun summer of playgrounds, and BBQ outings. His interaction with toys has progressed as it should.

 

 

 

 

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Baby Pat was presented with the traditional “smash cake”, and that’s exactly what he did to it.

Now we’re getting ready for the Holiday Season.  Although he just turned one, this will be his second Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

 

 

Looking Back Upon 2018

2018 has been something of a roller coaster ride.

The disruptions began in January when we renovated the master bathroom. Sawing, sanding, and tiling took its toll on us. Not to mention, the piles of construction materials in the garage, sawhorses, and tools scattered about.mb4

Little Frankie stood and took his first tentative steps.

Then in February, my wife uttered another surprise. “My boobs hurt. I think I’m pregnant.”

gb4By March, we were ready to tackle the guest bath. Back to the aura of pandemonium that comes with construction.

My wife mentioned the problems of renovating the kitchen with two children. Better to get it done before number two arrives. We spent April and May planning yet another project. Kitchens are much more difficult than bathrooms. Cabinets are unforgiving if you’ve measured something…anything incorrectly. Also, these were the months for doctor visits and ultrasounds; which of course, meant many trips to Boise.

Frankie was walking, but only on level surfaces. We took him to the park where he learned about different surfaces.

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Also in May, I feel as if I’ve worked the manuscript for my fantasy novel as far as I can.

Throughout the year, I dedicated as much time as possible talking to mom. I was getting news second-hand and worrying.

On June 1st, the old cabinets were torn out. Of course the contents of those cabinets were in boxes around the house. You’d be amazed about how much foodstuff and gadgets are in your kitchen. There is nothing more disruptive to your home life than kitchen construction. Yes, the project spilled into July. Therefore, for almost two months, we stepped over and around boxes, ate frozen food or take out.k6

For the rest of July we set up the new kitchen, and emptied the contents of all those boxes into the new cabinets. I enjoyed cooking my first meal in a functional kitchen. Naturally, I started off with two of our favorites, chicken cutlet parmigiana with penne alla vodka, and Costeletta di maiale picante (pork medallions with hot cherry peppers).

During the first week of August, the news that I had been dreading came. Mom passed away. I’m not going to dwell upon this subject.momndad copy

Off to New York City with Frankie and a very pregnant Ruth. She was carrying low and large. Most people didn’t believe her due date was two months away, because she looked like she was ready to pop.

In the final weeks of August, I submitted a short story “Road Kill” for a horror anthology.

Pat1Mixed emotions ruled for the rest of the year stating with the birth of Patrick Hunter in September. Joy intermingled with despair and regret. I will never see mom holding him. Little Patrick was born three-and-a-half weeks early and weighed only five pounds three ounces.

By October, I sent my novel out to beta readers. I’m still editing according to their feedback, and the reading out loud process has begun. My short story “Road Kill” was published for the Halloween release of Dark Visions.  The anthology has garnered some enthusiastic reviews.Dark Visions

Little Patrick is gaining weight at a proper pace.

November is for #NaNoWriMo. With a new baby, I knew I couldn’t partake in the festivities. Although I wished my fellow wordsmiths luck on their journey. I did manage some editing and rewriting of Book II.

On Christmas Eve, Patrick gave me a smile.pat16

Now December is almost gone, along with 2018. We celebrated Christmas as a family. Frankie understands the concept of opening a gift. As usual, I purchased three presents for my wife; something practical, something goofy, and one romantic gift.

I can’t help but reflect upon past holidays. The clamor of twenty to thirty people at mom’s for two days of festivities. Like ghosts, the voices of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends refuse to grow dim over time. With so many others gone, I cling tight to my wife and children.

Christmas is not about the food, or presents; stay focused on the company you keep.

Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry 🙂

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My 7 Favorite Christmas Movies

That special time of the year has rolled around again. During the final weeks into the Christmas Season, I really do not want to hear anything about politics, Colin Kaepernick, or Kim Kardashian. My wife and I prefer to relax (after little Frankie is asleep) with some appropriate ‘feel good’ movies.

Honorable Mentions: These features did not make this list of the best movies because they were specials made for Television and they don’t run the length of a film.

A Charlie Brown Christmas – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I can hardly wait to watch these with little Frankie.christmas

(7) Come to the Stable: (D. Henry Koster 1949: Starring Loretta Young & Celeste Holm)

Two Naïve French Nuns come to America to establish a children’s hospital. Of course they wreak havoc upon a sleepy New England town, but miraculously succeed in the end. I ranked this at #40 on my favorite films of the 1940’s

Best Scene: Celeste Holm in full Nun garb playing a competitive game of tennis.

(6) It’s a Wonderful Life (D. Frank Capra 1946: Starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed & Lionel Barrymore) The simple but heroic George Bailey plods through a perceived mediocre life. Later, his guardian angel shows him how his life has affected others for the better. There’s a dark side and something of a sci-fi quality to parts of this incredible holiday favorite. This film ranked as #28 on my list of the best movies of the 1940’s

(5) Miracle on 34th Street (D. George Seaton 1947: Starring Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn & John Payne)

What happens when you hire a Santa Claus who thinks he really is Santa Claus? Some mischief and mayhem ensues for Maureen O’Hara. Edmund Gwenn received a supporting Oscar for his portrayal of Kris Kringle and there’s a very young Natalie Wood. A delightful ‘feel good’ movie if there ever was one. I ranked this film at #18 on my list of best movies of the 1940’s

Best Scene: When the mail bags are brought into the courtroom.

(4) Babes In Toyland (D. Gus Meins & Charley Rogers 1934: Starring Laurel & Hardy)

Stannie Dee and Ollie Dum have a hard time surviving in Toyland. They even botch Santa’s order for wooden soldiers at the toy factory. Throughout the story they help young lovers get together and foil the plans of Silas Barnaby. The tall wooden soldiers save Toyland from the Bogeymen. I ranked this film at #15 on my list of the best movies of the 1930’s.

Best Scene: The invasion of Toyland by the Bogeymen.

(3) A Christmas Carol: (UK) (D. Brian Desmond Hurst 1951: Starring Alastair Sim)

A truly literate adaptation the Dickens classic. At first this film was panned for its dark content but nobody and I mean nobody has ever given a better dramatic portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. This film also sits at #9 on my favorite film of the 1950’s list.

Best Scene: Scrooge on Christmas morning.

(2) The Bishop’s Wife (D. Henry Koster 1947: Starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester & Monty Woolley)

What an incredible cast! Will the angel help the Bishop? Loads of fun laced profound moments. The Bishop and the Angel begin an unhealthy competition for the affections of Loretta Young, Ooops, she’s already married to the Bishop. Of course, nobody (except The Bishop) knows that Dudley is an Angel. Some of his off-hand remarks bear a deep meaning but go over everyone else’s heads. This film ranked as #7 on my list of the best movies of the 1940’s

Best Scene: The Angel and the Bishop’s wife go to an ice-skating rink.

(1) Scrooge: (UK) (D. Ronald Neame 1970: Starring Albert Finney & Alec Guinness) None of the beauty of Dickens literature is lost in this musical version. Catchy lyrics, melodies, and an incredible performance by Albert Finney make for one of the finest films ever made. This film ranked at #11 on my best movies of the 1970’s list.

Grand production musicals were not in vogue in 1970 and I feel that is the reason why “Scrooge” never received the recognition it so truly deserves. This absolute gem of British Cinema has regretfully fallen through the cracks of history.

Best Scene: “Thank You Very Much” Probably one of the most side-splitting examples of dark humor ever!

How About You?

What are your favorite Christmas movies?

The One Thing I Hate About Christmas

I can hear some of the initial reactions to the title of this post.

Most likely you’re thinking, “Bah Humbug to you too, pal,” or… “Is your real name Ebenezer San Giacomo? After all, your initials wouldn’t change.”

To save myself from the holiday madness:

I can avoid crowded stores and traffic by shopping online.

I can avoid spending lots of money by hunting for bargains or doing the shopping earlier.

I can avoid cooking for hours on end by enjoying a simple dinner with my wife and no guests.

I can avoid the anti-religion ad campaigns by Atheist groups by simply ignoring them.

I can avoid (place any other pet peeves about the holidays here).

However, the one thing that I wish I could avoid, but can’t, is going to church.

That’s one incredible thing for a devout follower of Catholicism to say, but it’s true. In fact, you can toss in Palm Sunday and Easter as well.

***If only I had the ability to photograph your wide eyes and gaping jaws at this moment.*** 🙂

But that’s the truth. Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas are the three days of the year that I’d like to avoid going to Mass.

Why? Because of all the PECs. “What’s a PEC?” you ask. It’s what regular parishioners call those people who attend Mass three times a year. PECs only go to church on Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas. Although I think crediting them with three church attendances per year is being nice. I’m sure the majority of PECs actually score only one or two out of three.

I agree with most clergy on this matter when they say things like “Well…they (PECs) are better off in church than not.” Who knows? Maybe they’ll come back for more and become a regular parishioner. It’s possible, and I’m hopeful for such things.

So it’s not their presence that bothers me. Nobody’s presence bothers me in church; those doors are always open to all. Which naturally begs the question, what bothers me about PECs?

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It’s their attitude.

I’m sure at some point, you’ve seen video footage from stores where people get trampled or fight over that toy in short supply. How depressing it is to witness something like that. Well, that’s the same attitude that the PECs bring into church, treating communion like a first-come, first-served “free for all.” The clergy have wised up over the years, and now give out instructions that communion is dispensed row by row. Imagine the PECs’ disappointment over the fact that they got to the church early in order to be the first in line for the communion and “beat the crowd”, only to find out that it’s done in an orderly fashion. It’s as if they are on line at Best Buy for the latest iPhone gadget.

Oops, I almost forgot something important about Catholicism. If you’ve ever missed a Mass, then you can’t receive communion until the sacrament of reconciliation (confession and absolution) has been dispensed to you by a priest. But don’t try to tell that to a PEC.

I don’t mind standing in church; sometimes I actually think it’s a good thing that the pews are full. However, on the three days in question, I know that it is not a good thing. PECs cram into the front pews as if they’re lucky to get a better seat for a concert. Like I said, I really don’t mind standing, but what about the little old lady with the walker and the oxygen tank that shows up faithfully every week? Why  should she have to stand?

I would get up and offer her my seat. PECs don’t.

Next comes the unruly PEC children. Sometimes they play with toys and games. I remember one kid crawling up to the podium with a toy truck imitating engine sounds, while the priest was giving his homily. The PEC parents were smiling and laughing at their adorable child, and made no effort to stop him.

How I just wanted to tell them that not everybody thinks their child is a bundle of joy, especially when said child is interrupting a solemn ceremony.

And then there are the dreaded cell phones. There’s nothing like having a bright light jiggling around in your peripheral vision, or hearing that ring tone during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, or their chattering.

In all fairness, I do have to say that not all PECs are created equal. The San Antonio PECs are much better than the New York City PECs. I have not yet experienced or witnessed the behavioral pattern of the typical Idaho PEC, but I’ll find that out tomorrow at Midnight Mass. Yes, I now only attend Midnight Mass for Christmas and Easter, because they are fewer PECs.

O Lord, please give me patience…right now!