Friday, November 29, 2013

The Thud Heard Round The World

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At home with her arm wrapped
 the following day in her pink cast

two weeks later in her Christmas cast
(having breakfast in bed.. yes, she's milking this)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Texas T

No, not “Texas Tea”, as in oil, but Texas T as in Thanksgiving. This year’s Lone Star Rally included a special surprise for our family – Thanksgiving. As we experienced the rally and honored Mazha while we were in Galveston, we also took the opportunity to celebrate being together as a family at the beginning of November.

The past three years of the rally have been interesting. Three years ago we got a blizzard in PA that canceled Halloween and almost postponed our trip to Texas, last year we had hurricane Sandy that did postpone Halloween and impeded our travel (shortened our stay to just the weekend), and this year there was, what seemed to have been, a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Okay, maybe not that bad, but enough where we were home-bound for a day with the TV sirens going off. No worries... we ended up playing 6 hours of dominoes and watching the water rise outside of our window. We called it bonding.

With our usual activities taking place on The Strand, Kensington also experienced her first haunted house at the old Mayfield Manor, the former home of Dr. Horace Mayfield, once a respected doctor, upcoming community leader, and son of a prominent physician in Galveston. It’s an 1867 building that served as a morgue after the 1900 Storm – still the deadliest storm in U.S. history having killed an estimated 8,000 Galveston residents. When we entered, Chris told them not to hold back. She insisted that she go through it and loves the thrill of being scared and while we tried to warn her, she’s didn’t want to be babied. So we went through (with a flashlight) and she laughed most of the way through it. When we were done, she wanted to go through it again. It wasn’t worth the admission for the first trip, and we we’re going to even attempt it a second time.
Kensi loved the fact that our beach house was 50 yards away from the ocean. Within a minute, her little feet could be hitting the sand. Besides swimming, burying her feet in the mud and chasing after seagulls, she loved flying her kite with Fazha. Unfortunately, after about 2 minutes of piloting the craft solo, she let go of the string and the kite went soaring up in the air. I tried chasing it and stepping on the spool, even running through the brush and dunes to catch it. I had no luck. There was a huge gust of wind that carried it away. When all hope was lost, I found the spool that went over some power lines and found that the kite had actually landed on the deck of a vacation home. While I shimmied my way up the deck the best that I could, there was no way that I could get it. Cousin Chase also tried working his magic so K-Grace could have her “shark-attack” kite back. Then Daddy came to the rescue when he drove the truck up to the deck and I was able to climb on the rooftop of the cab and un-snag the sails.

We also made our annual trip on the ferry to feed the seagulls. With Chris, Simone and Jordan off at the spa, a group of us (loaves of bread in tow) stepped onto the ship and noticed that K’s throwing skills greatly improved over last year. Mighty impressive. Watch out Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek, this girl may actually beat your record.

Friday, November 15, 2013

This holiday season... let them eat cake

The holiday season is coming up quickly and this poor little blog has been unduly neglected. I thought when I changed jobs it would allow me more time to spend crafting our paternal experiences in my down time (while waiting in the terminal for the next flight, in the evening hours at some random hotel or on an Acela train that has been blessed with free wi-fi).

Needless to say, that hasn’t happened at all.

Quick recaps of K-Grace’s fifth Halloween:

Halloween this year was a whirlwind experience which lead to her treat-or-treating six times (yes, I said five) in four different states. How does one do this? Why, with the magic of Santa, of course. If he can travel all around the world in one night, Kensi can travel to a handful of locations that are separated from each other by a mere 1600 miles. No big deal, right?

Okay, there was a trick (and treat) to the multiple locations. First, it started with the festivities at Seaworld, Lego Land and Disney Land in Florida. The wonder of these two location is that its Halloween for the weeks leading into the actual date. While we brought Kensi’s costume with us, the weather ended up being 80 degrees and we couldn’t have our little sugar cube melt, so we declined the traditional costume and went with festive t-shirts. We do have to say, Halloween at Disney is ten times better than Christmas at Disney.  While K-Graces loves her princesses, she takes after her papa and leans towards the dark-side and enjoys her villain experiences, especially the headless horseman that lead the parade.
This leads us to TOT number three; Sleepy Hollow. I never knew this was a real location, but it is and happens to be only 20 miles north of NYC. So we took a day trip to this tiny village with “Kensi-Marie” in full getup. Tarrytown gravitated to her more than poor Ichabod Crane. Can you blame them?

We took a story time excursion at
The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow (a 17th-century stone church located on that has a five-acre churchyard feature prominently in Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"). The 40 minute story time theme was “Halloween Tales for Tots to Tweens” so we thought it would be a great little break from our packed agenda.
Boy, were we wrong. We ended up leaving about 15 minutes into the event, but not without our own laugh that we will remember for years to come.

When our “master storyteller” started, she had asked the group for a name that she could weave into the story. A little girl in the first row stood up and belted out her name, Chloe.

The storyteller echoed in response, “Great, Chloe it is.” Then another little girl on the opposite side of the church stated her name, Nicole. The storyteller then said, “Great. We will use ‘Chloe-Nicole’ as our character.” That’s when it got comical. You see, Kensi was standing in a pew behind the other attendees (because she was the only one in costume and was wearing a wig taller than most of the kids in the room). Kensi raised her hand and cleared her throat so everyone would notice that she demanded their attention. The sound echoed through the (sleepy) hollow church. “Yes, Marie?”

 And then it began…

“My name is Kensington Irwin-Dudek, Princess Grace”

There was a small chuckle from the adults in the room. One of the dads at the front said, “They call her ‘Bob’ for short.”

“Okay, love. That’s quite a mouthful, so why don’t we call the little girl in the story ‘Chloe-Nicole Kensington,’ okay? So once upon a time in a little village like this one, there lived a young girl by the name Chloe-Nicole Kensington. Chloe-Nicole Kensington lived in a little house with her mommy and daddy.”

Interrupting the story, Kensi said just loud enough for the small group to hear her, “I don’t have a mommy.” There was another round of stifled laughter from the adults and our narrator rolled with the punches.

 “Oh, honey. This story isn’t about you; it’s about another little girl named ‘Chloe-Nicole Kensington’. So let’s continue. Once upon a time in a little village just like this one, there lived a young girl by the name Chloe-Nicole Kensington. Chloe-Nicole Kensington lived in a cottage with her mommy and daddy.”

Kensi, this time a little upset that she wasn’t taken seriously enough the first time decided she needed to command the presence of everyone in the room. Speaking in a royal tone and at a volume loud enough to make the windows vibrate, our little queen belted out, “Hey Lady. I just told you, I don’t have a mommy and a daddy. I have a daddy and a papa!”

At this point, Chris is nowhere to be found. He dropped on the floor and rolled his body under the ten pews behind us to the exit and left the building. I only the other hand tried covering Kensi’s mouth with one hand while lifting a finger of my other and putting it up to my lips indicating that Kensi needed to be quite. “Kensi, hush. You’re being rude by interrupting the story” I tried to whisper.
“Well, Papa. I don’t. So stop trying to shush me.”
I try to cover her mouth again and she pushed back throwing up her hands in the air and giving me this look like, “For the love of God, stick up for me on this one. The woman clearly is getting the story wrong and I need to you defend me. I’m not the crazy one here, she is. Oh, and by the way, where did daddy go, he was JUST sitting here next to you.”

Tears are now being wiped away from my eyes from holding in the laughter and I grabbed her and kissed the top of her forehead. She pushed me away… I now know not to cross this little diva and to stick-up for her no matter what.

The story continues, “Okay. Lets try to bring this back together here people,” now speeding through the part, “Once upon a time in a little village just like this one, there lived a young girl by the name Chloe-Nicole Kensington who lived in a little house with her parents.”

All is well until two minutes later Chloe-Nicole Kensington’s mother gets sick in the story. Kensi looks at me, rolls her eyes and shakes her head. My finger goes up to my mouth and Kensi whispers, “she just doesn’t get it, papa.”

Ten minutes in, and the story is now boring me, Kensi and the entire audience of 25 so I pretend like I’m trying to find the bathroom for Kensington and we exit. Unfortunately, as I run around the church, I forget that the front of the church is surrounded with glass windows and everyone can see Kensi’s wig running across the cemetery.

That’s the end of this story, but the wig did make an appearance in Texas during Halloween at The Lone Star Rally and this time no one was referencing Chloe-Nicole Kensington or where she lived (or with whom).

Our little darling was the hit of the parade with hundreds of onlookers wanting their picture with her or of her. Perched upon her daddy's shoulders (come on, there were 400,000 people in attendance and with there being a group of us, her wig being so high we could see her and Chris from three blocks away) people would stop us for her picture. She would extend her hand as if she wanted them to kiss the ring, and tell them to “please hold”. Then she would flap open her feathered fan and cover Chris’s face. She wanted to be the only one in the picture. Then she would give the okay to have her picture taken. After a few snaps, she would hold her hand up as if she needed them to stop, fold up her fan, and then indicated to daddy that she was ready to move forward. Each vendor had their Jack-O-Lanterns out filled with candy and when they would look up and she who was in front of them, would literally empty out their container of candy into her bag.

Long live the queen of the Lone Star Rally.

Then, once we were home, Kensi wanted to visit her NJ friends and trick-or-treat at their homes so she “Boo’d” them. She made Halloween cupcakes and knocked on their doors and surprised them. Not only by providing them with their own little treat, but asking for, in return, some of their leftover candies. It worked.