Thursday, February 11, 2016

These are my friends

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you're probably sick of my Bunnygate posts this week. I can't really blame you for that, but my friends John and Angela, who've been heroic in their vigilance to these matters,  posted about our community tonight and reminded me again why we are all actually fired up. They shared some memories from their past with us, and offered context as to why some of us are fighting so hard. It occurred to me that it would be good  for me to do the same. I haven't written a blog post in eons, but this seems like a worthy post.

The people in my community are a strange mix of home-schoolers, professors, and Washington DC guys who can't- tell-me-what-they-do-for-a-living-or-they'd-have-to-kill-me. We are in the same clubs, troops, and home-school classes. We belong to local parishes that share our youth group. Monthly, we get together at our place for a pot-luck dinner and rosary night where we all wrestle with squirming kids. We eat together, talk about our life, break up our fighting kids, and try to teach them to pray. We all want the kids to see that they grow up in a community where our faith matters and should be the litmus test for our actions. We fail at that example an awful lot, but we keep trying.

 Some of us did better than usual this week, no doubt by Gods grace. When given the opportunity to do what was right and what was easy, they chose to do what was right. Even when that meant their whole world would come crashing down around them. So, the flurry of posts from the rest of us, are really an effort to stand alongside the people we have come to know and trust, to support the friends we pray with and play with. At times we may seem to flail a bit in our efforts, but I can assure you that our intentions are all good.

I don't generally do much picture taking at our gatherings cause I'm usually too busy talking to do so.  This year though, my friend Chris asked me to take pictures of all of us at Christmas time for one single purpose. He said, "Ellie, you should take pictures tonight because it would be good to look back at them some day and remember how happy we all were,  for some day when we might need them." So despite my usual aversion to pictures, I actually walked around that night and took shots of my friends. These pictures aren't of some newsworthy professors. No major social justice advocates came into focus in my lens. No one in the room appeared gutsy enough to sacrifice themselves for the good of others that night as we joked and chatted and made merry like we always do.

Tonight, I offer you some glimpses of the people who have been making national and international news all week. Fred found some more from Easter, and a few days in between. Maybe these glimpses can help you put a human face on some of the really wonderful people that I call my friends. Maybe you will understand why some of us are fighting so hard to keep them standing.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

First comes love

So Andy and Rachel are engaged! So let me answer a few questions that I have been answering all weekend long already.

Yes, we TOTALLY love her!
Yes, we already knew ( and it was really difficult to keep to ourselves!).
No, we aren't sure when yet- I'm sure Andrew and Rachel will figure that out all in good time.

But let's get to the really good part -cause this is going down as one of my favorite stories of all time!

Andrew came to us about 6 months ago and told us he was ready to take this next step and wanted our advice. Naturally we told him he had to go speak to Rob, Rachel's father. Andrew turned the appropriate shade of grey. We both said if he wasn't man enough to speak to Rob, he wasn't man enough to get married. The Rob gauntlet would have to be run. 

A month went by. He was ready to go speak to her father, but he also wanted to keep it a secret, how to do both-hmmph? Sneak that I am, I told him to text Rob. But, he didn't have his number. Ok so, go steal it from Rachel's phone next time she goes to the restroom- problem solved. If you know Andy, you know that wayyyy too much thought went into each of these steps.

Another month went by, he told us he had the number and was ready to text Rob and ask for a meeting. He put the number in his cell as R. Willman (tuck this little important piece of information into your head for later down the page). Poor Peter had to listen to him day after day at work as he ironed out the details of what he wanted to text. 

One bright morning he awakened with a sufficient amount of courage and a solid plan, and decided to  text Rob that he'd like to meet and could they please keep it private. 'Sure Andrew, when and where?' they go back and forth working out the details of Robs work schedule versus Andrew's work schedule versus Rachel's schedule to keep all things private. Andy had arrived at work by this point and Peter was rooting him on from the sidelines. All was going well until....

Rachel began texting him simultaneously. "Hey Andy, I miss you! When am I going to see you again?"

Single minded Andrew starts to get flustered. He doesn't want to give anything away to Rachel and is simultaneously in the middle of texting her dad. He answers her curtly and goes back to getting the details from Rob. 

R. Willman; "Ok then Andy, I'll meet you at Panera's at 5pm this monday."

Rachel texts again- you are coming over tonight right?

Andrew  to R. Willman: "OK. sounds good! I love and miss you and I can't wait to see you and hug you again!"


He got a one word response from her father: "AWKWARD"

And like all loving brothers world-wide Peter got absolutely hysterical laughing. He then came home and told Fred and I and John-Paul and Matt, and we all laughed and cried and rolled around on the floor until  our stomachs hurt. (I also saved the screen shot of the text to make myself laugh at some later date, and as evidence.)

He went on to survive the meeting. And to be honest if he survived that text, he could survive the rest of the gauntlet. He also  managed to keep the secret from Rachel, and pull off a very romantic proposal from all accounts. 

What more can I say to you two tonight Andrew and Rachel? I suppose only this: may you be as incredibly happy and blessed in your marriage as we have been in ours. Keep God at the center of your life and you're sure to do well. We love you so much and look forward to seeing each day unfold!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


I know I haven't been posting as much. My days are busy, of course, which prevents me from doing as I always please.  Also,  the pace in summer just encourages a relaxed take on life. The is always so much I could,  or want to say. The kids teach me new things every day.  I love them.  I love watching them.  I love seeing them grow and discover the world right in their own back yard. These are some recent peeks at what they've been up to.
(Discovering how a  magnifying glass works, our new rope swing, parade, pool party, grotto, picnic,orchard, blueberry picking, water balloon toss, heritage day medal)

Friday, July 10, 2015

R.I.P. Hot-Dog the Chicken

We lost a chicken today. The one the kids named Hot-Dog.  We aren't sure what got it, but there wasn't much left when we found her. Our new ( awesome) neighbor Isaac, saw her and discreetly knocked and gave us the news. Michael came over with me and I sent him back to make sure the girls didn't see the carnage. I quickly disposed of the rest and came in to talk to the girls.

They were hysterical crying.

Tom and Mike were being brave but fighting off tears and sadness themselves. I cuddled them all together in the family room and told them it was sad, yes, but that part of having chickens is knowing something could get at them.We've been awful lucky so far losing only a few in three years time.  My words didn't console them at all and my hugs seemed to help only a little. Suddenly Michael asked if it was okay for us to pray the rosary. The girls all enthusiastically agreed we should pray the rosary for Hot-Dog too, and how could I argue with that logic?

So, we sat and prayed a decade for Hot-Dog.

Afterwards, I set them all to work so they wouldn't keep up being sad all day. I keep thinking of how good it was that they had that place to bring their grief when my words couldn't help and the hurt was so fresh. It is good to have a place to turn when the reality of life is harsh. For me too. A place found inside themselves that oddly takes them outside themselves,  to trust and gain strength and consolation- it is as close to them as their own breath. God is even closer than that, and while children are first taught faith, they also seem to know it so much better and deeper than we all do most days. They live closer to God in their littleness, I see it every day.

Thanks for all the eggs Hot-Dog, and for helping teach my kids ( and me) about God and heaven. Who would've thought you would be so very useful?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Arcade loot

Freddy and I are total S-U-C-K-E-R-S for arcades and carnivals. I don't think I ever passed up a game of skee ball in my life. This morning was over cast, making it the perfect day for the boardwalk. ALL of us went downtown and grabbed pizza for lunch then amused ourselves with sand sculptures and colorful kites flying up and down the beach. The real fun was the arcade loot though. For just 20 dollars worth of quarters, we managed to win about 4500 tickets which were then redeemed into various toys. We're  pretty excited about our selection as are the kids.
Prizes included (but we're not limited to) the following:
1 rubber band gun (thomas)

1 tongue tatoo

1 52 in kite (matt)
1 mermaid doll (lolo)
1green irridescent fiber optic nightlight(fred)
1 oikin pig (Mary and Sarah pooled their tickets- but Mary insists 'it's still a little more' hers)
1 blue stuffed elephant (Pete)
1 duck dynasty beard (Ellie)
Way too many tootsie rolls and gum balls