Monday, November 28, 2011

A Week In Pictures

Last Wednesday night the seven of us worked on our First Annual Thanksgiving Tree. It was a great way to start off the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The finished product. I think we need  a bigger poster board for all of our blessings!
Thursday morning was the first of many lazy mornings.... can you tell we weren't hosting?

We traveled to my brother's house later in the day. My sister in law has been hosting Thanksgiving for my side of the family for 17 years straight!! Incredible. It's always a great time.

Kathy, the chef

Moira, my niece, home from college!

My Dad and brother Bob

Friday was such a beautiful day we took a drive to the Delaware Water Gap and did some "hiking." We're not sure what the difference is between a hike and a walk. Bill said if you wore a backpack it was a hike.

Bill did carry a backpack of snacks. After 3 minutes of walking the kids wanted to stop and eat. So typical! They're still trying to figure out if Dad's watch really does have a "Bear-meter" on it to let him know bears are close.

Saturday we went to a memorial mass for Bill's side of the family. It's done every year the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it's purpose is to remember the members of the family who have died. Such a wonderful event to gather and remember with the extended family. Bill's uncle is an Augustinian and he celebrated the mass in the parish in which he is now the pastor. Private family masses are so special.

Later that day, we visited my Dad and then my sister invited us to gather at her house to see my niece who was home from college. She  probably just caught her breath from hosting Thankgiving and had to entertain us! But it sure was fun!Always a ton of laughs with my family. So much so that I forgot to get out my camera! The best part was reliving some memories of Hillside and seeing my nieces get a kick out of the craziness. They must think we're nuts!

Next we headed to Bill's parent's house. They had just returned from Maryland for the weekend and brought with them a load of crabs to eat. The kids had a ball banging away at these critters with their Gran and Gramps, Aunts and Uncles, and cousins.

Ann's not so sure this is fun.

Talk about lasting memories all weekend long. I think I've mentioned this before, but I have the best family EVER! And I am very thankful for each and every member!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holidays At Hillside

I can't help but think of my Mom when the holidays are here. So many years, so many memories of her making each and every one special. We didn't have a big extended family and the job of host landed on her every holiday, year in and year out. And she did all this with a smile. She was just that kind of person.

I now own the untensils from her kitchen. They are heavy duty-will last forever-utensils. But more importantly, I can't grab one from the drawer without thinking of her.

Here is the breakdown of some memories when I look at these.

The Spatula: Used for Apple Fritters. What are these? Frozen apple pancake-type things that she often used as a side dish. Family memory: My uncle saying, "Please pass the Apple Critters."

The 2 Prong Fork: Never used. Why? Because  instead of using this, she used an electric knife to carve the turkey. Family memory: When this turned on no doubt my Dad would shout out, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!!"

The Potato Masher: Once the potatoes were done cooking, she always called my brother Bob out to the kitchen to mash them. Family memory: No lumps in the potatoes, but there sure were a few times when we found a bit of metal from the pot in them. He didn't know his own strength!

The Ladle: I can't recall this being used for holidays, but it helped scoop out endless bowls of her famous chicken stew. I make this now for my family. Family memory: "It always tastes better the next day."

Now we continue these holidays without her. She lives on in all of us though and the one thing we can bring to the table is the gift of her love.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Ps. Anyone up for a game of Trivial Pursuit?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Out Of The Mouth Of.....

THOMAS ( age 7 )

While driving home from church:

Thomas: I think life is kind of annoying.

Me: Really, why?

Thomas: Because you live on earth until you die, then you go to heaven and you keep on living and it just goes on and on and on.

Billy: So, don't you mean it's boring?

Thomas: No, it's a-NOY-ing.  And boring because there's no video games in heaven.

Friday, November 18, 2011

First Dance

I thought: 

~he'd forget about it.

~his friends said they were lame.

~he'd rather stay home and play Xbox.

No such luck. Billy went to his first school dance. A sixth, seventh, and eighth grade dance. UGH!

I knew it was tonight. I wasn't going to bring it up. Bill and I never thought this day would come, so we didn't have a firm answer. When Billy came home from school he had the permission slip in hand ready for me to sign. What to do? What to do?  Wasn't it just yesterday I let him cross the street by himself?

We let him go, making sure he knew that it wouldn't be a regular occurrence. I mean, I went to grade school dances, but I'm pretty sure I was in eighth grade before I was allowed to go. And I went to Catholic School, so you know we had to leave room for the Holy Spirit if we danced with a boy! 

This is Billy trying to get out of the minivan to get into the dance. I wasn't going to unlock that door until I was done spewing all of my warnings and instructions on behavior, respect, etc. He looks thrilled, doesn't he?

I'm pretty sure he didn't hear a word I said.

Here is a picture I took on my surveillance of the gym after he went inside.

I couldn't stay there for long. That girl inside the door saw me snap that picture. I had visions of the police coming up behind me saying, "Move along, Ma'am."

 I had him rate the dance on a scale from one to ten. He gave it an EIGHT!!  He claims the only reason he went, and the only reason it was fun was because of the contest they had--- to shoot a basketball from the 3 point line. He really wanted to win it. Let's hope that's the real reason and he got it out of his system.

We had ice cream before bed.

I've got to at least try to make the comforts of home a lasting memory in his brain ( and hopefully be a TEN on the 10 point scale.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Well, it's official. I'm 40-something. I had a wonderful birthday on Monday. I woke up to the family tradition of doughnuts, placed on the counter by Bill who had left for work long before the rest of us woke up. Like the candles? I do.

A little birdie must have told Bill exactly what I wanted for my birthday. I want to build my collection of Byer's Choice Carolers. Wouldn't you know they have Wegman's themed ones?? I just had to have it.

My brother Jim called me with the best comment ever. He said, "Happy Birthday. I'm glad you were born."

Isn't that the best??  I think that must be the nicest thing you can say to someone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Family Time

The weekend started with a Friday night dinner out with my siblings. It was going to be me and my sister to celebrate our birthdays this month, but we decided to let our brothers in on the fun. Two out of three could make it. ( We missed you Bobby!) It's always a great time with them and you can definitely count on a lot of laughs.

Even though we have a strict no gift policy for birthdays, my sister broke the rules and gave me this delicious stack of chocolate covered pretzels. They're my favorite.

 There were exactly 15 pretzels in the package, which made it easy to divide evenly between me, myself, and I.

Sunday we spent the afternoon with two of Bill's brothers and their families. I always appreciate the way they drive the extra distance to see us and hang out with us for an easy, laid back visit.

Hooray for cousins and our family!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Every year our elementary school does a Veteran's Day program. All veterans and their families are invited to celebrate the day, listen to the children pay tribute to their service, and honor them in a special way. They do a wonderful job honoring these heroes.

Mary Kate had a few special parts. She handed out programs.
She held up the letter "N" in the word VETERAN and spoke about the Navy. ( Go NAVY )

There was a short White Table Ceremony. For those who aren't familiar with this ( like me ) here is a description of why they set a table the way they do.

The table is round — to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.
The tablecloth is white — symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.
The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.
The vase is tied with a ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.
A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.
A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.
The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.
The glass is inverted — to symbolize their inability to share this evening’s [morning''s/day''s] toast.
The chairs are empty — they are missing.
A Candle– Lit to remember that the light of America will always be the light in a world of darkness.

The 5th graders at our school were able to write about something they would like to add to the table. Mary Kate wrote that she'd like to add a calendar to show all the time the men are away from their families and to count the days until they return.

The local high school's fife and drum band played.
Here is picture of all the veterans that were there today. You could almost hear the unspoken bond they have with each other.

Afterward, the school had a nice reception in the library with cookies, bagels, fruit, cake, and juice. I have no pictures of this because I was too busy eating.

Here is my favorite veteran:

Have you ever seen a man or woman wearing a uniform, a hat, or something else that lets you know they have served or are currently serving? Have you ever wanted to say something but were too embarrassed to? Just do it. Thank a veteran. It's easy. It's important. And it's appreciated.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankful for....

A beautiful autumn day with a toddler. How cool is he?
A roof over my head.
We are getting a new roof tomorrow. I took a picture of the house today. I'm so worried it will lose some of it's charm because the shingles are going to be a different kind. Let's hope it stays this pretty.

I haven't blogged much about this child. He really is The Bomb. Happy, smiley, huggy, and pretty fierce with a lightsaber or Nerf gun. Now he even bakes....what more could I ask?

Yesterday the kids and I spent the day with 2 of my sisters in law and their kids. Every time I visit I feel so loved and lucky. They are so sweet and kind. They are wonderful moms who are raising the most awesome kids. What a great day it was being with them.

Yes, I said dust. I cannot even believe I'm showing this picture, but it was too cute not to.

courtesy of Mary Kate
Sometimes there are things to be thankful for that are obvious, other times it's hidden.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Gesture

"We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."
                                                             ~ Blessed Mother Teresa

The other morning I was in a drive thru line buying a dozen doughnuts (no, they weren't all for me).  The man who took my order was quite friendly as I listened to him through the speaker.  When I got to the window, he handed me the box and with a smile said, "Thank you young lady, here are your 11 and 3/4 doughnuts. (Get it? He was insinuating he took a bite of one).  I cannot tell you how much this made my day.  Of course the comment about my youth may have helped, but regardless his comment put a smile on my face every time I thought of him and his simple joke.  Hopefully I was able to pass that joy on to someone else.  Who knows, maybe he unknowingly created a ripple effect of smiles this week.  Blessed Mother Teresa would be pleased, and my guess is that she cetainly knows now all the good a simple smile can do.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

St. Matthew?

 Moms N Tots was celebrating All Saints Day this week. In the past the moms have dressed their kids up as his or her patron saint. I had never done this before. If a costume can't be bought at the store, I lack the creativity to come up with an idea on my own. (Let alone the skill to make it. What can I say... I know my limits.)
This year I decided to try. This is what I came up with:
This unhappy saint had already tried to take it off before I got the camera out. See his briefcase? And inside was an Ipod with the Beatles song "Tax Man" ready to be played. St. Matthew never got out of the living room, which means he didn't make an appearance at Moms N Tots. Oh well. My other kids thought he looked more like Obi Wan Kenobi anyway.