The email from my Mother in law went something like this:
Anyone who wishes to celebrate Dad's birthday is welcome to do so. Dinner is at 4pm on Monday. Please rsvp.
So I deliberated.
1. Invited to one of the happiest places on earth.
2. Celebrate my awesome Father in law.
3. A chance to see siblings and cousins.
4. No cooking for me.
It took me about 1.2 seconds to decide.
Count us IN!
Most of Bill's siblings were there with their families. We are up to 18 grandchildren on this side of the family.
The proud matriarch, Mom-Mom.
And the birthday boy, "Gramps."
We were inside....
....we were outside.
....and some of us were little kids who snuck a seat at the big kids table!
Happy birthday, Dad! I hope you had a nice day as we all invaded your home. I know we sure did.
I was thinking about Bill's family on the drive home and this is what I came up with.
I really like them.
I like each one of them. I like being with them. It's easy to be with them. I know people can't always say that about their families. I am blessed to be married into one of the best, second only to my own side of the family, who are pretty great as well.
Sunday of Memorial Day weekend has become the day of our yearly trip to New York City. We started going this day because it coincides with Fleet Week. Although we didn't go visit any ships this time, we were lucky enough to see some other fantastic sites to commemorate this great country we live in.
This was our 4th year going. To see the first 3 years, click here, here, and here.
Time to wake up!
First stop....Fox News, of course. Dorky little me made a poster of our previous visits to the show. I thought they'd be so impressed by it that they'd invite me to sit on the comfy couch, but alas, they did not.
Rick Reichmuth was kind enough to come over and pose with us again this year. He's super nice and wasn't fazed at all with little Matthew's meltdown.
Dorky poster held by dorky girl in dorky sunglasses
We met Peter Doocy as well. He's a Villanova grad, so Billy's sweatshirt drew him right over.
Tucker wasn't working that day, again!! Darn it!!
After the show, we walked over to mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral....
....and then had lunch. Can you guess where?
We weregiven a golden opportunity to see the New World Trade Center and the 9/11 Museum.
We went to One World Trade Center first.
The trip to the top is quite an experience. An HDTV screen surrounds you in the elevator as you go up. On your way you see New York from years past up to present day. From there you go into a small room where a wall is a makeshift screen and shows video of life on the streets of NYC. After about 1 minute of video the screen moves up and you are looking out the window over the city. Amazing. You are then taken to another room where you can walk around the top and see the city from all angles.
From there we walked around the 9/11 Memorial. We were told that every morning a white rose is placed on the name of any victim whose birthday it is that day.
We were then taken inside the museum. There is so much to see here. Everything is so well done. There is a beautiful reverence inside. It was mostly quiet, but some of the exhibits had voice recordings being played. You hear interviews with survivors, frantic phone messages that were left for loved ones, and dispatchers calling for fire and rescue teams.
One of the most touching exhibits for me was the "In Memoriam" exhibit. This room has pictures of all of the victims on the walls. The magnitude of just how many lives were taken that day really hits home. This is true not only because the walls are covered with their photos, but each photo tells a personal story. You may see a bride in her wedding gown, a runner with his bib number on his chest, or a photo of someone from a backyard barbeque.
There is an interactive table where you can tap on a digital photo of a victim and you see a small biography of their life, including pictures of their families and loved ones.....the unmeasurable amount of victims left behind. To see more about this exhibit click here.
We were so appreciative to have this opportunity to go there.
After these visits we stopped to see Dad's office, had a quick dinner in Weehawken, NJ and headed home. We were wiped out and needed to rest up for Part 3 of our weekend.
Part One of our Memorial Day Weekend begins with Scenes From a Birthday.
On Friday Mary Kate celebrated her 14th birthday. There was no traditional birthday doughnut routine though. Billy leaves for school at 6:30, Mary comes down for breakfast at 7, and the rest wake up at 8. I offered to sing to her by myself, but she turned me down. I don't know why.
The only thing better than having your birthday fall on the Friday before a 3 day weekend is having it also fall on the day of your 8th grade Farewell Dance! Playing real life dress up for the first time is very exciting.
For her birthday present she wanted to get her hair professionally done. I offered to do it myself, but she turned me down. I don't know why.
So after making her put in a full day of school (most of the girls took a half day to get to their salon appointments!!) we went to the hairdresser. It was a fun experience for her.
Getting ready and the anticipation of it all is half the fun.
We picked up her best bud Riley...
and drove to the school. Bill had left work early that day thinking he gave himself plenty of time to see her before she left. However, it took him almost 3 hours to get home. We didn't think he'd make it. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, he pulled in right behind us! It was a wonderful surprise.
We offered to walk her up to the front door, but she turned us down. I don't know why.
After the dance, she and her friends came back to change their clothes, sing a quick happy birthday song, and then they went to the movies.
We didn't' get to spend much time with her this day, but seeing that smile and how happy she was was worth the sacrifice.
(Mary is away at her annual band and orchestra trip)
After breakfast Big Bill and "Little" Bill went to the driving range and hit some golf balls. In the afternoon, Billy had a baseball game. This makes him happy, especially when he plays well and his team wins!
We went out to dinner because he wanted Ruby Tuesday ribs. (and I wanted to start Mother's Day early :) )
We went home for dessert. Billy had asked for an Xbox One, but since a $400 birthday present isn't possible, I made him an XBox.
I thought my clever joke was going to be met with roars of laughter, but instead there was complete silence around the table. Then one of the kids said, "Wow, that was mean."
Sorry Billy. My bad.
Nothing that a little cake can't fix.
I think my favorite part of the day was when we realized at 11:03a.m. that it was your birth "moment". We gathered in the family room for a group hug and celebrated the minute you were born.....laughing together as Dad did his best "Hear Ye, Hear Ye" voice.
I am very proud of you, from being a teenager that gets up out of bed without complaint to letting your six year old brother play soccer with you and your friends. And although we have to light a fire under you for many other things, we know you are a good-hearted kid who will make it far in this world.
Happy Birthday, Billy. We love you.
The next day was Mother's Day. I really wanted to go on a little hike and have a picnic lunch. And that's what we did. We took a car ride up to the Delaware Water Gap.
Beautiful weather, scenery, and family. (and no cooking!) Life is good, I tell you.
I met up with a friend of mine this morning to go for a walk. We picked a place neither one of us was too familiar with. It was a park that had lots of different walking paths. There was a beautiful expanse of grassy areas with blooming trees all around. There were couples walking, joggers jogging, and a landscaper mowing. It was a beautiful spot to enjoy our chat with a side of exercise.
We made a lot of twists and turns but after a while we realized we couldn't seem to find our way out of the inner path and access the outer loop. My friend said, "This path seems like my brain does sometimes." I laughed and said, "Me too." And to myself I thought, "Only from above would we be able to see how this path is laid out." Only from above.
You could say this year has been a year of discernment for me. When school started in September I was in a bit of a tizzy. Our youngest child started full day school. After being a stay at home mom for 14 years, this was a tough adjustment for me. I felt I was in a constant "What now?" frame of mind. I was being inundated with questions like "What do you do all day?" and that put me into panic mode. I felt that saying "housework and errands" wasn't a grand enough answer. I worried about what others thought of me. I felt that if I didn't reply "Busy" to the "How are you?" question, I must be doing something wrong.
The problem with this was that I was spending too much time worrying and feeling guilty about my life and what to do with it, that I was sucking out all of the joy I had in the here and now.
I was living the exact life I had dreamed for myself and my family, yet I was too stubborn to appreciate it to the fullest. I started asking God for help. I kept asking him to show me where he wanted me to be. I thought this prayer would be answered in a classified ad that read:
"Help wanted. No experience required. Hours from 8:50am-2:30pm. Time off for snow days and school holidays. Summers off."
But that never came. (believe me, I looked)
Slowly, over the last few months I have begun to see that as long as I keep moving forward and keep His plan for me at the top of my to-do list, I am okay. This takes a conscious effort each and every day.
In other words, Only from Above will my answer come.
This year I started doing some volunteer work in the "education" realm. Teaching Matthew's religious education class, along with some light tutoring at the elementary school has opened a door I thought was locked for someone like me. Coming from a medical background, teaching is not my forte. I can't speak for my students, but for me it has been the biggest blessing, I cannot even tell you.
That's the thing with God....as long as you look to Him, he will lead you in ways you never thought you'd go. But more importantly than solid black and white answers, is the feeling of peace that happens within when you turn your heart, your thoughts, your actions to God. This, I believe, is the true meaning of peace. After all, we were taught at a young age that the reason we were created was to Know Him, Love Him, and Serve Him.
He wants us all to have that peace, but it comes - Only From Above.
This video is a bunch of random pictures of life lately that didn't "make the cut" for a post of their own. IF you enjoy pictures of concerts, ball games, track meets, award ceremonies, sick children, cats that jump on the hood of your car, silliness, visiting my old workplace, friends, OR if you are related to me, you may enjoy the following.