"Picnic Balloons"

What a crazy amazing fantastic weekend we here at the house of Young and Gallagher have had.

It was full of THREE different BBQs, the May Fair, Aquarium with Susan and her new beau... and it all started with a wonderful surprise on Friday night.

I had talked about picnicing in Saddler Woods (in Haddon Township) for dinner, but after a day of work on friday, I lost my motivation... so stepped it down to - first - picnicing in the backyard and then... just picnicing on the floor in the front room.

All this time, my indecisiveness and laziness were giving poor PJ agida. But I didn't know it...

So, I make tacos, we start our lil' friday night picnic, sharing - each in turn - our "favorite part of our day"... and then PJ says he has to go get the special "picnic balloons" out of his car. WTF are "picnic balloons?" No idea. I think they are actually a made up construct... however,

Cut back to this recent Mother's Day:

Bax and PJ had brought me breakfast in bed along with a bunch of balloons anchored down with a mini-gift bag with a little weight inside.

Now, as whacky as it may seem given our timeline here, PJ and I have known we're going to get hitched for a few months. We've been together for six months, and I think it's safe to say that for at least 5 of those months, I've known that
this is my guy. Bold? Sure... but true.

So, anyhow, when they came in to my bedroom mother's day morning with this, I held the lil' weighted bag at the bottom of the balloon strings and it felt just about the right size and shape for a ring box. My eyes lit up... and PJ looked at me. Perplexed. Then processing what I was thinking, then downtrodden.

"No, babe. it's just a balloon weight. That's all."

We all had a good lil' chuckle out of that one.

SO... let us return to friday May 23rd here... he and Bax go out to his car to get these so-called "picnic balloons" and it's not until he's inside the door, handing me the lil' weighted gift bag at the bottom that it hits me that he's actually about to propose. Cause THIS lil' gift bag has a ring box in it.

Him: Down on one knee.

Me: lots of tears.

Baxter: giddy with the excited energy of the moment.

He asked if I'd marry him. I said yes. Bax opened the box and put this beautiful tanzanite (pale lavender stone) and platinum ring on my finger.

It's all very simple, really. We're a family - and we're getting hitched. If I think too hard about the contrast of the feeling of loss and how my sense of present and future had turned upside down in early 2006 - with the feeling of gratitude and optimism I have in my current life, it's just a little too overwhelming. Suffice it to say that this feels right. It feels easy and it feels so so freaking nice.

We're probably n
ot going to have the wedding until next Spring or Summer... and we'll likely do something quite small and low-key (but with his Irish Catholic family, "small" is a relative term)... but for now, we've made the promise to each other and will be reveling in the beauty of this engagement period for the next year or so.


Same Daddy

Yesterday, as I was picking Bax up from school, we crossed paths with one of his classmate's dads in the lobby.

"Are you Nora's Daddy?" he asked.

"Why yes I am." the dad smiled.

Friendly words were exchanged and then we parted ways as Bax and I exited the building and got in the car. After we had left the parking lot and started driving down the street, a pensive Baxter inquired,

"Why does Nora have the same daddy?"

"Same as who?" I asked (or "As whom?" I suppose would be the proper phrasing - but that level of grammatical attention wasn't warranted at the time)

"No, mama. Why does Nora have the same daddy?"

"Bax, I don't get what you're asking. Does she have the same daddy as somebody else?"

"NO mama." Clearly I'm frustrating him at this point, "Why does Nora still have the same old Daddy?"

click click click. Ah-ha.

"You mean, why does Nora still have the same Daddy she used to have when she was a baby?" I asked, recalling now that Bax and Nora have been in daycare together since they were in the baby room there at 6 months old.

"Yeah." he stopped gazing out the window and looked at me in the rearview mirror.

"Well," I'm trying to figure out how to spell this out without making him feel like a freak, "Most people continue to have the same daddies or mommies as they get older. For most people, your mommy or daddy stays same from the time you're a baby and as you grow into a big boy or girl."

"But not everyone has that." He pointed out.

Translation: "I don't have the same daddy, mama-dumb-dumb."

"That's true. Not everyone does. But, Baxter, you still have your daddy. He's just not here on earth."

"Yeah. But my PJ Dad is here. And he's new."

The whole "PJ as dad" thing has been taking off in recent weeks - particularly as PJ occasionally drops off or picks up Bax from school and all the kids call "Hey! Baxter's Dad! hey! Look what I made!" (pointing to a drawing or a lego-tower) So, it seems that Bax has begun to realize that PJ's in it for the long haul - is here on a daily basis, and is a stable father figure in his world. All amazing, heart-warming, and wonderful realizations.

But it still always throws me when he puts pieces together like this in such an unexpected way.

"Yes, you have both a PJ dad here on earth and a Daddy in Heaven on the moon."

...and then I panicked. What if Bax doesn't remember Mike? What if I'm not doing enough to keep his memory alive?

"Baxter, you remember your daddy, right?"


"What do you remember about him?" I must be a f*cking masochist. Baxter is 3 and a half. Mike died when he was 18 months old. His dad has been gone for more of his life than he was alive during his life. Oy. There's a thought for ya.

Then Baxter reports the first thing that comes to mind when asked, "what do you remember about him?"

"He had something in his brain. He had to leave. That's what I remember," he said with a matter-of-fact hand gesture and head shake.

"That's all? You remember other stuff! Stuff he enjoyed. Stuff he was good at... come on..."

"Oh yeah! He was good at juggling!" Bax said with a proud smile.


"And he was good at tap dancing!" He continued.

Thank God.

"And he was silly." He stated.

Amen to that.

"What color was his hair?" I asked.

"Orange - like mine!" he said excitedly.

This conversation had gone from bad to ok in a split second. And then it was over.

"Is my PJ going to be home when we get home?"

I smiled and reached back for Bax's hand to rub his little fingers. "Probably not, but he'll be home in a few minutes, and we'll have dinner and play with your Iron Men toys."

...then Bax got that devilish twinkle in his eye, "Yeah. And then, I'll take off in that rocket ship with PJ and we'll go see the planets and Sticky Spidey will come with us and we'll web Doctor Octopus and then Crimson Dynamo will have a party and we'll see Titanium Man there and Venom and we'll shoot beams up in the air..."

... all concepts and gifts recently acquired from one PJ Gallagher.