Friday, December 29, 2017

Baby J Happenings

We are almost 12 weeks into our new adventure with Baby J.   Or Jackie, as we like to call her. (not her real name)

She's growing big, smiling more everyday, and cooing like crazy! 

I won't lie--the first couple weeks after she came were really hard.  There was so much going on:

-Newborn fussiness/colic.
-My lack of sleep (I'm not as young as I used to be)
-Constantly having to put her in the car to drive my kids to their activities-early mornings, late nights, and everything in between.
-Flying solo in Week 1 due to Bill going on a work trip.
-Phone calls and mailings regarding parental visits and court dates.

It was all very overwhelming at first.  But then we seemed to get into our groove.  J ate more regularly, slept more regularly, and became a lot more predictable in her needs.  I was getting the hang of this!  Just like riding a bike in a lot of ways.

Throughout it all there have been many blessings that are a constant reminder that God is looking after all of us.

-My friend Eileen.  When I got the call about Baby J needing immediate care, I needed to provide a name of a care giver who I could use while I worked my 3 hour a day job.  Otherwise, they either would not give her to me or I'd have to quit my job (not something I want to do for many different reasons).  Eileen happily said she'd look after J until I found someone permanent.  J wouldn't be with us if not for Eileen.

-My friend Beth.  Dear Beth.  My good friend who now watches J everyday while I go to work for my 3 hours.  She has been my right hand gal, confidant, and sounding board for all the ugly that goes on behind the scenes.  She loves J as much as we do and has so much invested.  I love having her by my side through this.

-Family.  Our families loved J from the start and treat her like anyone else in the family.

-Coworkers.  My coworkers coordinated a meal train and restaurant gift cards to make our lives a little easier.  And although it is food, it was the gift of quality family time that they really gave us.

-Church family- Many friends from our parish came and celebrated her presence in our family and loved her from the start.  They came with meals, gifts, and even money!

-Friends- Near and far away friends who check in constantly by text or phone call asking how things are going are a big source of strength to help us keep on keepin'-on.

In addition to these are other people who I've met who have made an impression:

-The stranger in the restroom at my first court appearance.  She asked me if I was okay and gave me a reassuring smile. (the look on my face must have given her the clue it was my first time)  Just that one question meant the world to me.

-The receptionist on the phone at a pediatrician's office.  I had been trying to find a doctor for J and her office didn't take the medical assistance that J had and it seemed this was going to be a difficult task to find one that would. She said, "Give me 10 minutes; I'll see what I can do."
In 10 minutes she called me back.  Not only did she find a pediatrician for me, but also made an appointment for us!  Incredible how she went above and beyond to help me.  I was so touched.

-The nice lady in CVS.  it was just a simple conversation, but she encouraged me in my work and gave me a booster shot of confidence.
 For our family of 7, we are going on with life as usual.  We take things one day at a time. We talk constantly about how she's only on loan to us and that although we're doing this to help her mom, we are ultimately doing it for God.  It's all in His hands.

I just love watching Bill and our kids love her in their own ways.  It's been a real joy.

That's the update for Jackie.  There's more Everyday Happenings with the rest of the kids.  I'm hoping to share them in the next couple of days. We have been enjoying a laid back kind of week with all of us home, including Dad!

I'm hoping you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Just One Year (JOY)

It was just about one year ago that Bill and I began a journey that will probably change us forever.

Before I introduce you to the little person that has invaded our home with sweet baby love, I wanted to share the journal entry I wrote back in October, 2016.

Today was the day we took our official first step in our foster care journey.  Bill and I attended an information session at a local foster care agency.

We met A and S who were very nice.
Afterwards, we went across the street to a diner for some coffee and dessert.  It was then that we decided to move ahead.

Bill had to take multiple work calls tonight so I was playing around on my phone.  On the USCCB website the readings were:

First Reading: Ephesians 5:21-33 (Our wedding's first reading)
Responsorial Psalm- Ps128:1-2 3-5   Blessed are those who fear the Lord. (I sure was fearful of what the Lord seemed to be asking us to do!)
Gospel: Luke 13 18-21  The kingdom of God.  What is it like?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.  When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.
(There's an analogy to be made there, I think)

It may be the first official step, however, I do believe the seeds have been planted throughout my entire life.


Baby J came to us on October 11th.  She was 3 days old.
We still don't know much of her story, or how long we'll have her.  But for now, we are enjoying her and showering her with love. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Senior Year Happenings

Happy All Saints Day, Everyone!

Yes, it's November and life goes on. 

*The mailbox is full of college ads.  Some addressed for Billy.  Some addressed for Mary.
We've done some college visits.  We even took the long Columbus Day weekend to travel to western PA.

First, we visited Penn State.  Billy's #2 in the line-up.  From there we headed to Pittsburgh.  We did, however, take a "pitt stop" in Shanksville, PA to visit the Flight 93 Memorial. It was beautiful and moving.

This picture above was taken at the memorial site looking up at the visitors center.  Between the two is a beautiful path, about a mile long.  A good walk for quiet reflection.  (or goofing around, if you're Tommy and Matt)
I was touched by this.

I'm so glad we all got to see this.

We arrived in Pittsburgh late that night.  The following day was spent site seeing.  The zoo was having a free admittance day so we took advantage of that.

Then we rode around the city a bit.  We had lunch and took some cool pics of the city.

The last day we spent visiting Pittsburgh University.  It was really nice, but very far from Mom home.

*Senior Year for Cross Country.  Here is Billy with his fellow senior teammates.

A tradition is the other teammates decorate their doors and trees.  I could do without the toilet paper.

That's all for now.  I guess before we know it, we'll all be blogging about the holidays!

Thanks for visiting here 😊

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Everyday Happenings

Happy Fall to all of you.  After a week of high temps....into the 90's for goodness sake.....I think it's finally cooling down today.  I'm looking forward to that.

Now, onto the happenings...

End of Summer + Beginning of the School Year =  Phone photo dump

 * August brought band camp.....Tommy actually likes it; it's my picture-taking he doesn't care for.

*We all went horseback riding.  The kids had never been and they loved it!  It's so hard to find an activity that all 5 enjoy, but this one hit the mark.

Afterward, we drove to Scranton, PA to check out the university and we stopped for dinner.  They were good sports for "posing for the blog."

*We had the first day of school

Billy, Senior!!! and Mary, 11th grade

Tommy, 8th grade and Ann, 7th grade

Matthew, 4th grade

*I already posted about Mary's piccolo solo here

Billy also had a little fun that night in the Riot Squad

*Speaking of Billy and Mary, they are in the middle of their Cross Country season.

Sugar fix after a race
*The middle school band had a car wash fundraiser.

Ann (r) with friend Amanda

* 4th grade at our public school means learning an instrument!!!  Matthew picked Alto Sax and it sure looks good on him.

*Matthew's soccer team went against our neighbor's CYO team.  These besties had fun playing in a real game together.  It was a tough loss for our team, but they remained friends :)

*Ann wanted to see what she'd look like in my car's rear camera.

*And, someone got her driver's permit and is very excited.

That's all she clicked.  Into the crazy fall we go. 

Happy Weekend!

Monday, September 18, 2017

20th Annual S.S. Weekend

Flashback to Summer, 1998.  My lifelong girlfriends and I were planning our first annual overnight get-together.  Most of us were married or on our way to be, but we thought it would be fun for a girls-only get away.

Here we are, 20 years later, still keeping up with that tradition started long ago.  We usually stay at one of our homes, but this time, we went "on location" to a place we borrowed from one of the girls' family members.  It was a sweet home in the Pocono Mountains. 

We did our usual planning of the menu and drinks and stuffed ourselves silly all weekend. 

We visited nearby Jim Thorpe, PA, a cute little town with many adorable shops to see.

We even stopped for a wine-tasting break.  (Ok, not really a "break" since it was our first stop)

One S.S had a family gathering and missed this fun part
There was a small beach and lake a block away from the house that was beautiful.  Mary Alice and Peggy went kayaking. 

As always, it's hard to say goodbye at the end.  So many good memories each year. 

 What a gift to have these girls in my life all these years.
And you can't put a price tag on that.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Piccolo Solo

As you know, our Mary is part of her high school band.  She plays the piccolo.  It has been a dream of hers to perform the piccolo solo during their rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever.  The piccolo solo is usually played by someone in the senior class.  The piccolo soloist for this year was going to be unavailable for the first home game.  As luck would have it, she asked Mary to fill in for her.

She had been practicing for a month.  Her grandparents drove a long way to cheer her on. The kids were given strict instructions not to disturb me during the performance.   Ann was given the important duty of videotaping.  We were all set.

And here she is:

Isn't that the BEST??  Oh my goodness.

Proud to the MAX!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Avalon Vacation 2017


Just saying that word makes me smile.

There is just something so special about being at the shore.  And Avalon is my favorite.  It is so pretty and peaceful there. The homes, whether they are the big palaces on the beach, mid-size "mansions", or quaint cottages, each have their own unique design and decor.  I never tire of looking at them. Late night walks allow me to sneak a peek at what they look like inside when they're all lit up.  (Wow, that sounds creepy now that I write that out loud.)

We had our usual highlights such as bike rides, shopping, arcades, pizza dinners, morning doughnuts, Carmen's restaurant in Sea Isle City, and an afternoon trip to nearby Ocean City, NJ for the boardwalk and rides.  The night before we left there was a huge storm which caused the beach block to flood!  Kids were actually swimming in the street!  Crazy.
My brother John and nephew Johnny went in on the house with us again and I honestly don't know how the two of them put up with the 7 of us all week.  Bill's brother Mike and family were also in Avalon the same week and having them with us at the beach definitely makes it more fun.  Plus, their kids are the cutest ever, so there's that.

I made my vacation video, like I usually do.  Definitely not my best work, but you'll get a glimpse into our week. The song was longer than the amount of video and pictures I took, so I had to get creative. I took stock photos of some of the places we visit there and added them in.  Lame.  Oh well.

Until we meet again, Avalon.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

July Jewels

July was good to us.

We spent a weekend at my in-law's vacation home in Rock Hall, Maryland.  RH is a cute town on the Chesapeake Bay.  If I remember rightly-- (gosh, I sound like my mother when I say that!)-- it had been about six years since we last visited there.  We enjoyed hanging out with my mother and father in law, Bill's aunt and uncle, and also Bill's brother, Tim.

My mother in law is an incredible host.  In fact, it felt like we were at a Bed and Breakfast.  That woman has a gift, I tell you.

My father in law moved the heavens to get two kayaks into his van so the kids could enjoy 2 days on the water.

Pool-time and dinner out, too. 

Later that week we spent the afternoon with cousins and sisters in law at the community pool.  My sister in law Kate hosted us and treated us to a fun day.

The "big" kids

I'm pretty sure the kids would say this was one of their best summer days so far.  Thanks, Aunt Kate!

The following weekend we celebrated my niece Julia's high school graduation.  Here she is (front, left) with her sister Amanda (back, left) and some friends.

Congratulations, Julia!!  You are one awesome graduate!  Love you!

And lastly, we sent Billy off to his annual Quo Vadis retreat at DeSales University.  This was his third year going.  He loves it.  They have mass and lunch for the families before we say our goodbyes.

This year tugged on my heartstrings a bit because two mom friends from my parish were sending their kids off to the retreat as well.  Watching our kids grow up over the years and now sending them off to discern their vocations was a bit mind blowing.

There was one more special event that happened in July, but that will be in a later post.

But to give you a hint, it starts with an A and ends with an valon and I will have my annual video to accompany that post soon. (I hope)

Hello August!