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Hope everyone is planning to enjoy that extra second that we get today.. I know that I, for one, have BIG plans.

I've made some changes to my blog to add some color. I need to get some more pics of Benji into the mix, but for the moment I'm just working on colors and functionality.. I'll add cuteness in later. It's a little girly for me, but I figure that some bright colors will do my readers good for the new year.. and I'm all about helping others. Totally.

I got a new camera.. I'm totally jazzed about it. Lots of my family gave me cash for Christmas this year and it totally adds up... totally. I got the point and shoot that I've been eyeing for a few months and have been taking photos of carpet fuzz and car keys and stuff. I have tomorrow off of work, so I'll hopefully get some good photos taken of Benjamin to start the new year off right.

Oh well.. my work decided not to spring for the lunch that they have always provided on New Years Eve.. so I'm lunchless and it's snowing and the wife has the minivan.. so I'm out of luck. I'm going to end 2008 with a bang and leave work early.. I know how to party like it's 1999.

Ok.. so that little video just cracks me up.

Another thing that has been cracking me up is how so many of my blogging friends (how "hip" are we?) are apologizing for being blog-slackers over the holidays.. well, duh.. it's the holidays.. if we were up on our blogs.. that would mean that our real lives sucked.

I haven't had time to blog. I haven't had time to breath. I haven't had time to pee. I've had a wonderful holiday season this year and had a great Christmas. Shiela and I were able to spend Christmas morning with BOTH of our moms at our own home at the same time.. something that probably will never happen again given that my mom now lives down in Kentucky and shiela's mom lives out in Texas (and after being snowbound out here this winter, may never visit again). Benji made it through his second birthday and all of Christmas without really getting the concept of wrapped gifts. He did enjoy all of his new toys though.. we need to build onto the house to find a place for them all!

True to form, Ben had a fever on Christmas day evening.. not high.. but warm. It turned out that he was trying out another ear infection, which makes 2 in the last month. We got him some of the good ol' pink stuff and started the motrin drip (just kidding).. and we were good to go.. albeit a bit crankier than normal.

My poor sister's house was straight out of the movie Home Alone before the entire family left for france. Total Chaos. Fun, though.. lots of fun.

I think that i can officially say that it sucks to have my family live so far away now. My mom and stepdad moved to Kentucky last winter and while we've muddled through this past year, it's always very obvious how much we are missing them and how much they are missing out on the kids growing up. Prior to having Ben, I don't think it would have hit me as hard, but now it's just really difficult. Money is tight for all of us, although thankfully we all still have our jobs.. but hopping on a plane isn't exactly cheap. Hopefully we'll manage to balance our time visiting this year a little bit better. It still sucks.

Ben is growing up so fast. Just last night, on our way home from CT.. someone cut shiela off when we were merging onto the Pike. She muttered "idiot.." and continued to merge. In the backseat.. Ben started throwing his arms around and yelling and then.. clear as day.. says "Stupid!".





He didn't learn that one from me..

Ok.. so I have big plans.. I was to freshen up my blog and fix my computers at home and get a new camera and rock out on guitar hero world tour... so much to do.. so little time!

Ben had his 2 year checkup this morning.. he's such a brave and smart little dude. Our pediatrician is friggin hysterical, but that's a different story. He dropped the f-bomb like 4 times.. classic stuff. Anyway.. back to the little dude. He had to have some bloodwork done, which sucked.. more for us than for him.. I got a bit woozy. He was a total trooper. It took two sticks because his vein hid, just like mine do. He wasn't entirely pleased, but he really liked the plastic lighted aquarium and the pink lemonade lollipop and he didn't even cry. Shiela almost punched the nurse, which would have been funny if I wasn't trying not to pass out.

In other news.. the little man is now 27 lbs 13 oz (up from his birth weight of 5 lbs 13 oz) and 36.5" tall (up from 19").. crazy crazy. He's in the 47% for weight and in the 92% for height.. he does NOT get that from me! Thank you, donor dad, for the red hair, and for the tall skinny body..

Ben still fits into this shirt... it's trashed, but it fits.. This photo was taken on Christmas Eve of last year.. what a goofball!

It's amazing how much a child changes over the first two years..

Two Years Ago:

One Year Ago:

This Year:

Now.. about that jingling christmas tree. I had the bright idea of replacing the glass balls that we normally decorate our tree with (non-toddler-friendly) with bright gold and red bells. The red bells are just for show.. no bell ringers. The gold ones are the real deal though.. jing-a-ling. It turns out that the tree makes a grand jingling sound when you throw toys at it. As a result, about 60% of the needles have fallen off of our tree making it look strikingly like Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree.. of course.. ours still jingles.

Ok.. sorry about the lack of blog posts recently.. my home computers have the plague and I've been working through my lunch lately.

So tis the season to be friggin jolly..

One of my faithful readers clued me in that I've officially missed out on the opportunity to snag the "tmaab" domain name for my blog. I've debated getting it for a while, but haven't felt like it for a range of reasons. Well.. turns out that two men and a brush beat me to it..




Two Men and a Brush

I have to give them props for coming up with a business name that sounds like something that should be illegal. It's a shame that their acronym is the same as mine though...

Some things just crack me up. Lindsay Lohan's blog is one of them. This is why she makes the big bucks man.. she's a hoot!

LL's Blog

The internet is a beautiful thing..

Urgh.. is it flippin possible that I'm getting a cold? I have that weird tight/tickle feeling in my throat. I'm going to go gnaw on a lemon tree to get my vitamin C intake up to see if that helps.. urgh..

In other news.. two years ago at this time I was one sick puppy. I had been on bedrest for about 3 days and wasn't able to sit up for more than 2 to 3 minutes without feeling dizzy and generally like crap. My blood pressure was so high that I was also unable to sleep or even concentrate on a book or the TV. I was one grumpy camper. Little did I know that in just two days I would be meeting my little boy.

I remember a photo on the wall at my grandmother and grandfather's home when I was a kid. The photo stuck out to me because it was in a cool curved glass frame. It was a picture of my great grandmother and great grandfather with their children.. my grandfather (father's father) was one of them.

When my grandfather needed to move to a nursing home some 12+ years ago, the one item that my dad wanted from the house was this family photograph. Since then, it has hung in his dining room. I always make a point to check it out. My grandfather used to say that I reminded him of his mother.. and she was in the picture as well.

On Thanksgiving this year, I pointed the photo out to Shiela and said "now we know where Ben gets his cheeks".. a few of my great aunts and uncles had the same pudgy cheeks that gave ben his early nicknames of "Benny Cheeks". My sister, the oblivious one, happened to be walking by.. and said "huh? that's who's family?"

My dad heard this exchange and came in to tell us the story behind the photo. I was hooked. It turned out that my great grandmother had sent the family photo in to the Mellin's Food Company back in 1923. They framed it for them (the cool curved glass print) and also requested to use it in their ad campaign. Here are some letters that my dad still has of this exchange:

So... now I'm on a quest. I must find this add in print. Ebay hasn't turned up much, aside from one of the magazines in poor condition. I've emailed the seller to see if he could check for the Mellin's ad in that magazine and the condition. If it's reasonable, I may try to pick it up. In the meantime.. I now have something to fill the copious (not) amounts of free time that have been plaguing my days lately (not)...

Btw.. this is the same side of the family that is related to Obama (and George Bush and Lizzie Borden.. *chuckle*)

Click on the picture below to read the note...

gorden freeman break in

View more Half-Life 2 screenshots on WeGame.

The little dude and I have a pretty established morning routine. On typical days, we run like clockwork.. I get up, showered and dressed just in time for the baby to start talking in his crib. I go in his room and turn on the light, raise the curtains and turn his fan off. We discuss current events. The little dude gets a new diaper and a change of clothes and then gathers as many hotwheels cars and binks as he can carry while I pick him up and bring him into the living room.

Until the past week, Ben would sit and watch Sprout (cable channel for PBS kids shows.. odd concept, but good toddler channel) with a tippy of milk while I got his lunch together.

On challenging days (like the one I blogged about a few weeks ago), this doesn't flow so smoothly.. most days, it is a very rewarding experience.. but it always feels rushed. We have to get ourselves ready to get him to school to get me to work.. rush rush rush.

Ben has just recently gotten hooked to Finding Nemo.

This morning, instead of turning on Sprout.. I started the movie. I took my time making his lunch (i.e. putting the pasta and broccoli dinner that Shiela woke up at 6am to cook into his backpack along with some fruit and snacks) and then went and grabbed out jackets. Ben saw me with his jacket and squirmed and told me "no... nemo".

I didn't blame him.

I said.. "do you want to sit with me for a few minutes before we go to school?"

Ben grins and says "yeah..."

I sat down in the rocker and Ben climbed into my lap. I already had my jacket on, so he snuggled right on in. We watched about 5 minutes of Nemo together. I couldn't believe how wonderful it felt. Yeah.. we still had a bazillion things to get done.. but for 5 minutes we sat together and snuggled (while watching Bruce the shark chase Nemo and Dorie).

Ben turns 2 a week from tomorrow.. time is flying. I'm glad I still remember to put the brakes on now and again to enjoy 5 priceless minutes.

Btw.. fish are friends.. not food.

just a little heads up for those of my readers who also run ads from the BlogHer network. i typically race through emails and chunk 99.9% of the bulk messages from whoever.. even places that I have memberships to.. sort of like not opening all of your paper mail that comes in.. oh, the drudgery..

anywho.. I happened to see the "Action Required" on the email from the BlogHer folks from yesterday or today and clicked on the email. If you haven't seen it, they have made some minor changes to our contracts and you need to log into your profile to accept the changes by December 19th to stay on their blog roll.

They are also moving to paperless revenue sharing.. that will come in handy for me.. a blogger who has yet to receive a single payment for the beautiful ads on my site. Giovanna.. no fair making the $25 mark before me.. I think it's because snick has a permanent link to you on her site.. either that or you're just more interesting than me. Maybe it's the twins thing.. people check your blog twice.. one for each kid.. I wonder if I should start blogging about my two cats.. they are almost like twins.. now THAT would bump my reader base up..

I'm catching total hell for skipping a few days here in the blogosphere. Oops! It's really a long and boring story that includes me being tired/stressed/irritable and toss in some wacky weather and some PMS and I don't really think any of you would have wanted to read what I would have written over the past few days.. I've been cranky!

The good news.. just 9 more days until Benji's birthday and 15 more days until Christmas! YAY!

I have a few topics that I want to write about.. but alas.. I don't have time at the moment. Never fear.. I'll return to blogging 3 times a day!

Well.. who would have thunk.. the kid still likes veggies. I just stumbled across this old pic from August of 2007. He was about 9 months old.

Here he is last week at 23 months old..

I apologize for the lack of interesting blog postings this week. I warned you all.. I was totally wiped from posting at least once a day for NaBloPoMo and I didn't even win a santa suit for my computer..

yeah.. see.. i'm tapped. Nothing creative left up in the noggin... So without further ado.. I've got more photos to share...

Checking out the window holiday displays at Macy's in Boston

Reading a toy catalog while waiting for dinner at the Olive Garden

Don't worry.. he's just sleeping with his eyes open. This is what you get for buying a backpack carrier for $250.. no headrest!

Helping friends trim their Christmas tree

Dipping binky in hot chocolate from Starbucks on a cold Boston afternoon...

Some seemingly smart mother must have once thought "wow.. if I could just make Broccoli taste like a chicken nugget..." Well.. in my opinion.. it doesn't get any worse than tricking your two year old into eating veggies...

Actually.. I'm just kidding. I re-arranged the order of the photos from dinner a few nights ago. The little dude actually LOVES his veggie bites (I stuck to the mashed potatoes, thank you VERY much...).. he snarfed down a whole box of the things by himself.. dipped in ketchup, of course.

Btw.. the "time out" photo at the very end was actually taken once he had finished his meal and decided to throw his tippy of milk and his plate across the table and then grab my glasses and wishbone them after hitting me.. doesn't he look all pitiful? Three minutes later he was giggling and climbing onto the piano..

No.. this isn't a "SURPRISE" post.. and no, I haven't packed on any new weight.. *laff* I just stumbled over to my old blog and was surprised to see the goofball cartooned up version of my last belly-pic over two years ago. Well.. the last one that didn't have me strapped to monitors.


(I thought this was better that posting about how I measured the sound levels generated by about a hundred dead mice yesterday or how today I had a panic attack about the earth's gravitational pull changing.. those are boring.. must show old pregnancy pics!)

where NOT to leave master building keys (inside building when you are NOT)... how embarassing!

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Die Hard in 30 seconds (with bunnies).

Don't think.. just click.. it's seriously Die Hard in a 30 second re-enactment by bunnies.

Ok.. I'm not really giving away much in the way of spoilers here.. but if you haven't read all four of Stephanie Meyers Twilight books, then you might want to think about whether to keep reading or not.

I started the series about a month ago. I raced through the first book in just days, but then have taken my time (and have refused to stay up past 11pm) while chugging through the second and third book. I started the 4th book on Sunday and it seems to have grabbed me more like the first book.

The problem.

The storyline. (this is where you should stop reading if you don't want to know too much)

A recurring theme in the 4th book has been the appearance of a child. Or children, I should say... some vampire, some not. There's lots of teenage angst about protecting these children from the vampires.. stuff that's pretty fluffy and not scary, but somewhat creapy just by the nature of throwing kids into the story. Well.. I just got to the part where Bella has realized that she's pregnant (yes.. with a vampire's child). All sorts of chaos is ensuing and while the story has me flipping pages quicker than I can read them, part of me has this sinking feeling that I really don't need to put myself through this. True.. they are just characters.. blah blah. But what good can come out of any of this when the story is about vampires. The child is growing inhumanly fast (in utero) and the cleaning lady said that it was morte.. not good things.

I should be able to take the storyline changes as any teenager would.. as this is indeed, a story written for the teenage audience. I haven't seen sex scenes skimmed over like this since the last time I read a Harlequin Romance when I was like 14.

So my question to you guys (at least those of you who have read the fourth book).. should i brace myself for some unpleasantries or am i worrying about nothing? Things where pregnancy goes bad and/or children die don't sit well for this wuss who dealt with infertility, a challenging premature delivery and some post partum depression to boot. I know that I'm going to finish the book.. I'm too vested in the characters.. but I really need to know if I should start drinking heavily or smoking at the same time.. or maybe both...

red head hit"ok" button before mommy was done blogging from cell. i meant to say.. now i love 54 degree sunny days in dec