Monday, December 31, 2012

Suddenly I See

Early this evening, Chris and I saw the movie, Les Misérables. It a show that Chris and I have seen on Broadway at least a half-dozen times (whenever people would come to visit NYC, it would be the one show they'd want to see). We own every version of cast recordings, and even sat through Uma Thurman's version of Fantine (in which we were excited to see her die in). Tonight, in the theater, I cried at a moment that I have never cried at before. Well it could be at a moment that was never seen before because it was added for this adaptation. It's the moment that Jean Valjean realizes that he is now a father with an adopted daughter.  

Suddenly I see. Suddenly it starts. When two anxious hearts, beat as one.
Yesterday I was alone. Today you walk beside me. Something still unclear, something not yet here; Has begun.

Suddenly the world seems a different place. Somehow full of Grace and delight.

How was I to know that so much love was held inside me? Something fresh and young, something still unsung fills the night.

How was I to know at last that happiness can come so fast? Trusting me the way you do I’m so afraid of failing you. Just a child who cannot know that danger follows where I go. There are shadows everywhere
and memories I cannot share.

Nevermore alone. Nevermore apart. You have warmed my heart like the sun.You have brought the gift of life and love so long denied me.

Suddenly I see; What I could not see. Something suddenly has begun.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

God rest you merry, Kensington...

let nothing you dismay. Remember you're our angel that was born on Christmas day.

Today, Kensington celebrated Christmas and her “official” fourth birthday. For weeks now, ever since her Disney Spectacular Birthday Celebration, she’s believed she already turned four, and “no longer a baby”.

This morning started of a little rocky for our princess. You see, all she wanted from Santa was her pink bike with a pink baby baskets on the front (and later it turned into a bike that also had a pink baby seat in the back – yes, we loved how specific she got. She also added to her list another pair of her white princess slippers, the same ones she wore in her cousin Jordan’s wedding, but two sizes bigger so they would actually fit. Oh, and a last minute request of, yes, you guessed it – pink earrings for her [pierced] ears. Under the tree was a scooter and a miniature version of the bike that she wanted, but she couldn’t see her big-girl bike. You can tell that this upset her by the crackle in her voice. Once I heard that, I gave in and only allowed her to think she didn’t get it for another thirty seconds. When I was a kid, Mazha and Fazha would have let the game continue for hours.

After the presents were opened, we all headed to church for the Festal Mass of the Nativity. There was a part of The Collect that hit home on this very special day for us; “Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and Grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit.”

Our little angel has definitely has renewed our faith and our spirit.

I blog and tweet many of the great one liners that come out of the mouth of our babe… some of the great ones either get censored, or I get the dismissal nod from Chris that tells me that I can never share it, or if I can, it’s only to a select few individuals. Today, Kensi said one of those gems – the best of the year – that once it came out of her mouth, he looked at me and said, “No. You will not be blogging about this.” Too bad I overruled him on this one! :)

Chris and I went up to the alter to receive the Sacrament; we took Kensington with us so she could receive a blessing. As we were leaving our footsteps echoed through the church, Kensi let out the very loud and disappointing statement, “Hey! Why can’t I eat the body of Christ?” Our echoed footsteps were replaced with laughs and gasps. I tried to quite her down (she’s actually very good in church, either sitting in on of our lap flipping through the hymn book, or playing a game on her iPad with the volume turned completely off). “Papa, why did you get to eat something and I didn’t? I want a body of Christ!”

As this was our first Christmas in New York, we decided that we needed to do something iconic, something that screamed NYC - so we went to Radio City Music Hall to watch the Rockettes in their Christmas Spectacular. Kensi loved watching the ‘dancing princesses’ and the nativity scene that they did at the end was just breathtaking. She informed us that one day she will be dancing with them. That was just the confirmation I needed in order to enroll her in dance class. Until I can find one that does classes in the evening, she will have to enjoy the cooking classes I got her and her daddy for her birthday. While I do enjoy them cooking at home (it really is one of her favorite things to do), I thought it would be easier to have them cook in someone else’s kitchen… one that I don’t have to clean up when they’re done. So those classes were also a gift to me!

Daddy and Kensi sharing chocolate
milk after the show

Kensi happy with what Santa brought her.

Our favorite gift from our little K-Grace

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Darn you Carly Rae Jepsen!

When Kensi gets a song in her head, it can stay in there for days, or in this scenario weeks. Two weeks ago on our walk back from school, we were playing “line leader”, which is just like it sounds – the leader of the line. It gets her to stay ahead of me instead of dragging behind me or riding my shoulders. The only drawback in this game is the 300 yards from her school to our place, there are a couple turns that if she is pretending to be Jackie Joyner-Kersee, she’s out of my eyesight for a brief period of time. This is when the game ‘red light – green light’ comes into play. So on this particular day, she was round the corner and not wanting her to get to far ahead of me, I yelled, “Red Light!”

She turned and with a scowling look on her face, pointed her finger at me and shouted for everyone to hear, “Hey, I just met you (something a father doesn’t like to hear. I'm glad no one took this as a possible Amber Alert) and this is crazy… [so] here's my number, call me maybe.”

Then with a flip of her hair, she took off like a bolt of lightning. I stood there stunned. Shocked at what she said, and then trying to name that tune and complete the lyrics, I swung my backpack over my shoulder and went after her. So does anyone want to take a guess at what she decided to scream as I chased her? Yep, you got it, “And all the other boys, Try to chase me, here's my number, So call me, maybe” My first thought was to find out where Katy Perry is performing next so I could strangle her. Then I realized I’m old and out of touch with these teenie bopper songstresses and should really look up who sings the song. Now I despise Miss Carly Rae Jepsen!

For the past two weeks, she walks around the house, and every other phrase out of her mouth is, “Hey, I just met you.” And now, because of her Auntie Cathy and Uncle Kyle giving her a guitar for her birthday, she feels like she needs an audience every 5 minutes in order for her to strum a few strings and sing a few cords.

Yes, it looks like guitar lessons are in the very near future.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas with The Christies

Last week we had the opportunity to share a holiday moment at Drumthwacket; the official residence of the governor of New Jersey. The Drumthwacket Foundation, who is responsible for preserving, restoring, and curating the house and grounds, invited all of the garden clubs in New Jersey to decorate the mansion for the holidays, and then Chris and Mary Pat invited some of their closest friends over for dinner.

Mary Pat Christie and I met a couple years ago at a charity cocktail reception, and quickly bonded over a witty conversation on how we both successfully combined our roles as ‘trophy-wives and parents’ with a business career that is deeply rooted in community service. With conflicting schedules, we rarely get time to see each other, and when CC (what we call Chris and Chris) get in a room together, all they can do is banter back-and-forth about opposing political views. Actually, the views are pretty much the same, determining which party line they belong to is where the jovial conversation comes into play. Anyway, the times we do get together, it normally at their private residence in Mendham, and not Drumthwacket in Princeton. Mary Pat and I both agree that they don’t frequent the Governor’s mansion enough, but they have strong ties in their community and the kiddos are happy at their school. So this trip to Princeton was a treat.

The last time I was in Drumthwacket was when Jim was the governor. While I enjoyed my time there, Dina (Jim’s Ex), didn’t like how close Jim and I were getting as friends so we quickly parted ways. We see Jim every once in a while as Kensi has been taking dance lessons with Jacqueline, his youngest daughter.

Back to the original topic. Kensi enjoyed our Songs of the Season outing in Princeton. Chris (the Gov, not her daddy) kept giving her chocolates and candy canes. We would keep declining on her behalf; he would keep wielding his power by letting us know he ruled the state and there were troopers outside the door and could detain us at the drop of a hat. We asked Chris (Gov) to dress up like Santa for Kensington. He declined, but allowed her to sit behind is desk for a quick pic.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

All I Want For Christmas Is...

I recently sat down with HRH to conduct a holiday interview. The Royal Office of Protocol informed me that some questions where off the table, some for security reasons, others were to protect her privacy, and others because she is under contract with Watch! Magazine and certain questions will be released in her follow-up interview next month (see December’s Issue, page 125, for her first article).

What’s your name? Kensington Irwin-Dudek, Princess Grace

Princess Grace, huh? Who is your favorite Princess? The Pink One. [Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty]

How old are you? 4. Right now? Yes, right now [okay… her birthday celebration that started the week after Thanksgiving kind of threw her off]

What’s your favorite color? Pink. Any particular shade? Light Pink. Next question, please. [I've been trying to get her to say "Blush and Bashful", one of my favorite lines Shelby says in Steel Magnolias. It's not working. One day. I can just feel it. One day she will surprise me with this.]

What’s your favorite food? Honey Smacks cereal. [and we can attest to that. She would eat this three times a day if we would let her. Actually, one day when I was sick and Chris was on a business trip, I did let her eat this all day. By dinner time, I felt so ill, I told her she could make it herself. That was a big mistake.]

What is your favorite toy? Legos.

What is your favorite movie? ParaNorman. Remember, we saw it three times. [Yes, but we saw Brave 4 times in the theater and too many times to count at home. Please let this be a sign she’s starting to grow out of the Princess phase.]

What do you want to be when you grow up? ParaNorman.
Kensi, pay attention. What do you want to be when you grow up? What did you say?
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to work.
What kind of work? I take it back. I don’t want to work. You and Daddy can work for me. Can I watch ParaNorman now?

Have you been Naughty or Nice this year? {evil smile} Nice… but I have been a little naughty at school. Don’t tell the Elf! [Elfie is our Elf on the Shelf. We need him to stay around throughout the year. He puts the fear of God into her.He's better than the "Time Out" chair]

What did you tell Santa you wanted for Christmas? A pink bicycle with a pink basket for my baby doll and a pink baby seat in the back. Oh, and white Princess slippers.

Telling Santa that she has been good,
and then holding a 3 minute
conversation with him where
he just listened to her.
Side Story**** When we were at Disney one day, I was walking her through the park on my shoulders. She leaned down and whispered in my ear, “I want pissed."  I quickly took her off my shoulders, shocked at her choice of words and worried that she was going to go to the bathroom on herslef, I found the closest bathroom. She sat on the toilet and told me she didn’t have to go. I made her try her darnest because she just told me she needed to go. To no avail, we left and started walking again. She looked up at me and said, “Papa, I want to piss.” Asking her if she’s serious or playing she said she was serious. I took her the bathroom again. She told me she didn’t need to go, and I started to get frustrated. “Kensi, you just told me you needed to Pee. I need you to go, now!”

“Papa, I didn’t say I needed to go pee.”

“Yes, Kensi. You did. You actually said it in a way that Papa would prefer you not to say it.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Kensi, you said you needed to go piss. Now go, please.”

“Papa. I want my ears pissed. So I can have pretty pink earrings like the princess."

Needless to say, we covered ourselves by letting her know she never told Santa that when they talked. We took additional measures to let the Elfie know one time when she was acting up that he needed to let Santa know. She, of course, cried. We told her she needed to be good all year next year and then maybe, just maybe, Santa will bring her a pair. Now we just need to hope she forgets this conversation. That, or she learned how to say 'pierced'.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

She oughta be in pictures…

and she is.

Here is the latest school photo of our majestic monkey. Her “Princes” were very worried about how she’d compose herself in front of a photographer that hasn’t had a gallery showing in years. Having lived with the paparazzi constantly by her side since birth, she tends to now avoid the camera. Unless, of course, there is proper lighting, hair and make-up on stand by and her rider is completely adhered to. We can understand her approach. She not only has to live up to expectations of those who follow her, but she must always present herself in a manner that will instruct and inspire her fans to live with a “touch of grace.” God forbid she be caught in an unflattering pose or in a situation that could compromise her reputation.

If you only knew the pains we went through to get her to sign off on public use of a photo that wasn’t the most flattering. Now, many of you have seen this photo in the past, and we had previously received a verbal reprimand for using it as a Christmas card two years ago. So when an advertising agency contacted us to use it for Sears / Kenmore’s national holiday campaign, we had to promise her another pony. It’s sad to know that her normal fee will barely cover the boarding & handler fees for only two years – the things she does for her equestrian friends.

Here is a copy of the finished ad - these will be in the December issues of the following:
Please know that the agency will be setting up a magazine signing in Times Square mid-December once we return from her birthday extravaganza.

We will be sending out special invitations to many of you that will allow you into her VIP reception. Please note, flowers and chocolates are greatly appreciated.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I have a dream...

 "Who is that, papa?"
"He was a King, baby, he was a true King. One that did so much for his people."
"And I'm a princess."
"Yes, honey, you are. And you too will change the world."

This was the conversation that took place this past October when we visited the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, two days after it opened. As we entered from Independence Avenue, his Vision of America is captured in his carved messages of hope and possibility for a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity, and mutual respect; a message that challenges each of us to recognize that America's true strength lies in its diversity of talents. These two inscription walls, lay in between the Mountain of Despair, and lead you in a trance to the Stone of Hope. As we made our way towards the towering symbolic stone, Kensington skipped in between each quote, stomping on the covered lights that reflect upward. Just past 10pm, the monument was rather quite… the perfect time for seeing some of the most iconic images of our Nation. As we came around the marbled landscaped “kidney” (which host Yoshino cherry trees and crape myrtles) which Kensington was using as a balance beam, I pulled her down and walked toward the statue, tears streaming in absolute awe. With her little pointer finger in the air, she asked the question, "Who is that, papa?”

Around this timeframe, the media was still covering the life – and heartrending passing – of Steve Jobs. For many, there was a fascination with the well-known in the world of adoption and foster care: actors, entertainers, athletes, politicians, and others. Well, I guess there always has been, dating back to when Joseph the carpenter adopted Jesus. Since then, the picture of the typical or "normal" family - with a father, mother, 2.5 kids, a camel… all living in a manger surrounded by a white-picket fence, has become less and less familiar over time. These days, families are "blended" (or I would like to say, “Modern”), and more than a little creative in terms of structure.

What bothered me the most about the stories of Steve Jobs and his bio- and adoptive-parents were the editorial comments that stated that even though he was adopted, it “he clearly didn't let that set him back.” Being adopted isn’t a set-back, but a step forward. A step in a direction along a journey that must be looked at as a gift, for everyone involved.

When I told K-Grace that she too will change the world, just like Martin Luther King, Jr. has, I know deep down inside me that she will. Will she find a cure for cancer, AIDS or autism? Well, hopefully we don’t have to wait twenty more years before we can find the answers we need for these diseases, viruses and development disorders. Will she be the first female president? Well, we’re optimistic that there will be a 2016 ticket for Hillary and we don’t have to wait until Kensington finishes up her second senatorial term before she makes up her mind if she wants to run for the Oval Office or not. Let’s face it, no one is predestined for greatness (well, except those adoptive individuals like Jesus… oh, and Prince William and our future daughter/son-in-law that he and Kate will soon have).

But as I type this, I remember that the next day after we went to the monument, we went to the National Souvenir Store to buy a piece of the Stone of Hope… an actual piece of granite from the stone that they chisled MLK Jr. out of, that they mounted to a beautiful walnut finished plaque. With only 5000 in existence, we were able to purchase #931. While we were in the store, Kensington asked us if she could pick out something for herself. Thinking she was going to select one of the chotchkies that they had displayed at the register, she told her to pick something out. She turned around and went over to the bookshelf. Without the slightest hesitation on what she wanted, she reached out her little hand, selected the book that she wanted and brought it over to the counter. Without even looking at the book, we paid for it and into a bag it went. On the way home, Kensi asked if she could have her book. We gave it to her, knowing that she would probably be easily bored with it as it didn’t have pictures.

For an hour, she pretended to read it. It wasn’t until we were unpacking the car did we see what the book actually was: Mary America. First girl President of the United States… who happened to be an orphan. I take it back, Hillary shouldn’t run for office again. My girl’s gonna make history.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

All I want for Christmas...

Right before Thanksgiving, Kensington came home from school and informed us that ‘Christmas’ would be bringing her a pink kitchen. Chris and I chuckled, and thought nothing of it. Santa had already been informed that Kensington should be on his Nice list and was slated for tons of toys, including a green and white kitchen set that came with its own pop-up cottage. Santa had been storing this cottage kitchen set for two years now in his attic, waiting for Kensington to be the right age to use it. Then, on a daily, if not hourly basis we were told that ‘Santa’ would be bringing her a pink kitchen. Sometimes it would be a whisper, sometimes in a normal tone, and once in Texas from a car window came a “I want a pink kitchen, please!!!!” shout when there was a drive-by Santa sighting.

Needless to say, Santa’s elves started working double-time to find the picture-perfect kitchen. Since there wasn’t enough time to make one, they had to search (NY, NJ, PA, TX, MD, VA and D.C.) and found one along the Mid-Atlantic coast.

When Kensington finally had the chance to share this single desire with Old Saint Nicholas, she didn’t waste the opportunity to captivate him with her charm. She leaned into his chest, looked up with her big blue eyes, and told him her wish. With a, “I’ll see what I can do”, and a pat on the back, she knew deep down that she had him where she wanted him. Then, came a quick costume change. You see… this Halloween Chris and I rifled the internet for a flawless costume for our K-Grace . We found one at our favorite boutique, We had such a build up for the holiday, with our little lavender fairy ready to go trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, we had snow on Halloween. It was way too cold to go outside and even attempt to collect sugary treats, so we hunkered down at the house and hid candy around the house like it was Easter, sans the cheap plastic eggs.

So, since Santa brought us snow in October, we brought him a fairy in December. With everything we went through to get the costume and all of the accessories, we were going to get full use of it. You should have seen the looks we got while walking around the mall.

Christmas morning came [for us, it happened to be on Dec 26th because we were out of the state on the 25th], Kensington walked down the stairs and entered her play room. With a gasp that seemed to last forever, she reached for her pink apron, opened up her refrigerator, took out her play food and went to work. It was the best Christmas breakfast we’ve ever had. Chris and I were able to get second helpings… regrettably; Fazha was told that he had enough after one serving.