Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pope Benedict

Sometimes, I read something that  strikes me to the core. Late last night was one of those times.I finished posting and was getting ready for bed, when I decided to check one of the blogs that I read now and again. It had a short post and said the following: 

“We who have known God since we were young, must ask forgiveness,” 

The Pope said an apology is due because:

“we bring people so little of the light of His face, because from us comes so little certainty that He exists, that He is there, and that He is the Great One that everyone is waiting for.”

He might as well have called me on the phone, so personally did I take this message. I do not think I have ever read anything more true. If there is anything I could tell you about myself it is that God has always made himself so present to me throughout all of my life. I just cannot remember a time when I didn't know Him and know that He is love. 

Over the years my faith has morphed, and changed, and grown, but God has not. He is always there, real, and  close. His goodness has been what makes me get up every day, make sense out of all the awfulness of the world, and keep going forward despite the constant barrage of obstacles on the path to eternity. 

I have been a poor witness of His goodness. I have not spoken often enough of his love. I have not shared my experiences of his mercy in my life. I have been lukewarm. He deserves better than that. (especially from a friend!). 

So tonight I will tell you that no matter who you are, or where you are, or what you are-  Jesus loves you, and I know this because Jesus loves me. He is as real to me as Fred or my children. He is love. If I have failed to mention it before, or not often enough, I will try to do better. But please don't let that stop you tonight from asking Him to be part of your life.

"The Lord is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in time of need."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wisdom 1, Prudence 0

wis·dom [wiz-duhm]

1.the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what istrue or right coupled with just judgment as to action;sagacity, discernment, or insight.


1: the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason

2: sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs

3: skill and good judgment in the use of resources

Andrew came home full of thought from his classes today. He began by studying the Declaration of Independence and pondering how decidedly good that document is. After dinner he continued down a different track by asking me some questions on Religion and the attributes of God. I really love these conversations. I can see the wheels turning in his head as we speak. He is, by nature, thoughtful. His questions were focusing on Gods ability to be omnipresent and the basics of existence. I cannot answer these questions for him in any detail and I know that. But seeing that he was genuinely thirsty for the information I advised him to speak with someone who could, and suggested he call Paige. 

He looked at me quizzically, and I firmly told him she was most capable of answering his questions in a more satisfactory manner than I could. So Andrew disappeared with the phone. About a half hour later he came back to the kitchen smiling and happy. Not only was he making all the right connections, but he was so excited he had found someone who could actually help explain what he was struggling with! 

After another ten minutes of talking Andrew grew quiet again. "Wow, Mom she is so smart." I could see genuine admiration on his face. "Yes, she is Andy", matching his admiration. After a bit more silence he turned and said with perfect sincerity:

"So...why do you think she would she want to be friends with you?"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Fred went fishing tonight for the first time all year, after dinner. He tried to go last night, but The Lady of the Lake ( the patrol woman) wouldn't allow him to'because of the hurricane." Of course as I already said, there was no hurricane here so I have no idea why she wouldn't let him on the lake- but- them's the facts. 

So tonight he gave it a try again. He packed up Matt, Tom, and Mike and headed out. He didn't catch much, but even a bad night of fishing is a good start. Unfortunately this battery died on his way back in and he wound up rowing. It doesn't appear to have dampened his spirit in the least. I am hoping he has a few really wonderful nights in the upcoming weeks. It is so good for him to be out on the lake with the kids. He loves it, they love it, they all come home so peaceful.It is definitely, good for the soul. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homeward Bound

Hurricane Irene was a bust here in Maryland. I did speak with or hear about the rest of our families in New York. Everyone is safe and sound , but most are without power and will probably be without it for a few days.  That is inconvenient but my siblings , like me- take it in stride.Of course the reason WHY I was hoping for the thrill of the storm (without the damage) is because I grew up in a family as big as my own. I know what happens when the power goes out. Shortly after stumbling for candles and flashlights you find the good stuff...Monopoly, Scrabble, RISK. There is nothing quite like playing board games late at night with no power and no idea when it will return.That is the very best part of lights out. (EXCEPT perhaps, eating goodies and then forgetting about them and not even being able to see there is a mess because there is no light!)

I am pretty sure all my siblings without power are somewhere in NY playing board games- (DANG!) At least I am comforted at the thought I would surely be the winner if present.

This one goes out to them from their littlest sis tonight.

(Jiggsy, jiggsy, xi,xi)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Worst Hurricane Ever

I am sure if you were a historian reading the title of my post, you'd think I meant that the effects of Hurricane Irene were simply devastating. Nope. That is not what I meant at all. This Hurricane stinks, stank,stunk because it wasn't really a hurricane at all. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking for a category five, or even a category 3, but we have barely had a drizzle here and all the news reporters are showing film of bird baths and trying to make it seem like there has been major destruction. It has pretty much been a non-event from all I can tell. (I know there are outages, but that happens in my town regularly anyway, so it is a simple fact of life). 

Anywho...we're safe and sound here in Maryland. Hope you are all too!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene Part II

Conversation about Hurricane Irene taking place last night between Fred, Michael, and Thomas:

(Fred had the bright idea that perhaps the little boys had 'overheard' conversations about Irene throughout the day and wanted to calm any fears before bed just in case they might be afraid...)

Fred: Boys do either of you know what a Hurricane is?

Mike: Yah, yah, I know!

Fred: OK, what is it Mike?

Mike: Its when the WHOLE WORLD shakes really hard up and down!

Fred: No Mike its not.

Tom: Michael NO! That's an earthquake, not a hurricane!

Fred: That's right Tom. Did you boys feel the earthquake?

Tom: No.

Mike: No.

Fred: Do you know what a Hurricane is?

Tom: OH YAH! I DO KNOW!!!It's  it's  when HUGE ROCKS come pouring out of the sky and hit the planet!

Mike: OH NO!!! That's REALLY BAD!!!

Fred: No, its not!

MIke: Yes Dad IT would be really bad if rocks fell out of the sky! That would be BAD!!!

Fred: I know Mike but that's NOT what a hurricane is!

Tom: Yes, I know it is Dad! BIG ROCKS hit the EARTH , they do! I remember I heard it! They fly out of the sky and fall to the EARTH! 

(me thinks he is reminded  of a meteor shower which also took place a few weeks ago)

MIke: OH, NO!!! That's gonna be really bad! When will the rocks come? Will they come at night?

Fred: No its not! A Hurricane is a wind storm mainly.

Tom: Oh . Really???

Fred: Yes, its a lot of wind and rain. But we'll be safe here.

MIke: Ohhhh....Will it be like when we had to sleep in the basement in the middle of the night?

( FYI:during the summer there was a tornado watch and we had to take all the kids to the basement in the middle of the night.)

Fred: That won't happen. Well, I hope not. I don't think it will happen. Maybe.

Mike: Will any ROCKS fall out of the sky?

Fred: No.I'll protect you.

Mike: Like in the basement???


Mike: Cause'Falling Rocks would be really bad...

Fred: (Sigh)- goodnight boys. Sleep tight...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Goodnight Irene

An Earthquake and a Hurricane within the same week. Hmmm. I have had several emails today asking me if I think the Zombie Apocalypse is imminent. I don't think so yet folks. However there are ALWAYS some smart things to do in order to be prepared for any dangerous situation ( and don't forget this can be a whole lot of fun for the kids while teaching them basic survival and life skills).Some of my readers want me to share my game plan and thoughts for the Hurricane so I'll do so now. Don't be one of those folks who are either too busy to prepare,( throwing caution to the wind ladeeda attitude) or too scared (THE SKY IS FALLING!)so you stick your head in the sand! ACT don't REACT  and think calmly, clearly, and rationally for best results. 

A couple of things that are useful to know: A Hurricane watch is different from a Hurricane warning. A Watch constitutes just what it says, being watchful since you are in a MORE LIKELY position to be affected by a hurricane. A Warning means IT IS IMMINENT. Keep an eye on the news so you know if there is an alert in your area. Be aware that Hurricanes spawn Tornadoes, be careful if you hear loud noise sounding like a train get to a lower place, ( think basement)!

OK, so what should you do to prepare? Think basics-

  • bring in lawn furniture, toys, outdoor tables, etc. ( great time to get kids to pick up the yard!).
  •  Have simple supplies on hand. Mainly what you are worried about here is power outages due to falling trees. Since we have had lots of rain already, the ground is more likely to be soft around the roots of big trees and they will give way more readily.
  • If the lights go out you want flashlights, water ( extra in a bucket for flushing toilets), some food and maybe some board games. A radio with batteries is good, as well as camp stoves for cooking, and a wind up alarm clock.  
  • I am planning on turning my freezer to its coldest setting tonight. Why? Because if we lose power I am going to have that food as cold as possible now so it will last longer then. 

What if things get really bad? Well thankfully we live in the same town as FEMA so they should be ready to help us...about a week too late.  Did I just say that out loud? Ooops! Seriously though, watch for flooding and NEVER drive through water if you cannot see the road! The pavement could be loose below it and you get sucked out into the water, or your engine gets flooded and you get stuck in a lake.NOT GOOD.
If you need to evacuate ( some of my family is in Manhattan) put together a bug out bag.

Other things to do:

  • Check on your neighbors- it always makes sense to keep in touch with the people physically closest to you. 
  • Have an evacuation plan. If you get separated from someone else, where will you meet back up?
  • Don't leave important documents ( birth certificate etc. in an area likely to be damaged. Better yet go now and put those documents in a plastic zip lock bag for safe keeping!) 
  • Have extra food and supplies, including canned goods and a  MANUAL CAN OPENER. 
  • A good medical kit always comes in handy. 
  • Be helpful where you are able to- once you are relatively sure you are OK, see if someone else needs a hand, especially someone who might be vulnerable. 
  • I don't think I need to remind you that we always pray the Ave Maria Stella as a protection from storms do I?After all Our help is in the name of the Lord!
  • Be careful out there!

 (If you have thought of something I haven't please share!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kitchen Paint

Our kitchen is being painted tomorrow. Yahoo! I can't really believe we are at this stage that I have been waiting for for the last 7 years! I had to switch around my schedule this week to help out at the co-op that the older boys are in . One of our tutors, who happens to teach 4 classes splendidly ( 2 Grammar, 1 History,1 Literature) was out for the first week. This meant I had to pinch hit in a few classes that are not exactly my specialty. Thank God she left clear directions and work. It also meant I had to ask Fred to go to work late and stay at work late so I could fill in. 

I was supposed to start schooling the little ones at 8 am sharp but since Fred was on duty we did afternoon start times instead. I left Fred Monday morning with 6 kids all under 10 and a sink full of dishes. When I came home a few hours later, he had not only kept them safe- he also managed to lay our new kitchen floor. (I am telling you I TOTALLY lucked out with my pick for a mate!). Now that the floor is mostly down,we can put paint on the walls. So Fred lined up the painter and he will be here in the AM. Tonight we picked out a color for the walls. It took Fred and me working together a total of 3 minutes. We both dream about grand decorating ideas, but we know we live with ten people who are a whole lot of work. We see things and talk about how much we like an idea, then when we get the opportunity, we walk into the store and say:
 "Is this OK with you?"
 "OK we'll take 2 cans".

 I guess that's pitiful. Oh well. It works for us. 

Here is the color for the walls ( or at least a close enough match). 
To be honest it doesn't really look like this color at all. The color we picked is much paler, but my image selection is sorely lacking when it comes to color choices. And do you REALLY care anyway? I didn't think so. For that matter, I might as well tell you I picked out this color for the walls.

Maybe I'll just take a few pictures when we're done and you can 'ooh and ahh' from your living rooms then. (Or you can grimace, but at least you'll be in your living room doing so and not mine!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An Earthquake for the Teacher

So, today was our second day of school. It went really well...all things considered. There was a lot to consider though. The Summer lulls me into a state of forgetfulness. For some reason, though I spend 24/7 with my ten wonderful children I become convinced they will morph into different creatures if I create the correct environment. So I make plans for classes, and visualize our work space, and Fred dutifully builds rooms with bookcases and shelves and drawers stacked with supplies -and never once has it made them behave any better. 

After hours of creating a brand spanking new classroom, the preschoolers were all over it with  the crayons itching to draw on walls, floors, and any other surface available. Getting back into the swing of things is actually much more challenging than it appears. It takes me a few days to find the right balance to answer questions from so many different ages in a classroom. Do you go to the little ones first cause they have smaller attention spans? Or maybe the older ones since once you get them going they work well on their own? But the middle kids get bored and distracted if you leave them for too long....

You know all those lovely images you have floating around in your head of Little House on the Prairie schoolhouse? Scratch them out! It just isn't like that, at least not for me. My classroom is like the rest of my house; noisy, busy, hands-on, nitty-gritty learning. An honest peek into what I did today would look like this:

  • Helped Mary write her name and teach her the letters in her name
  • Tried like heck to help Mike remember the sounds to the letters he knows ( he seems to be struggling with letters and I am praying he is not my 3rd kid with dyslexia)
  • Kept Thomas from leaving the classroom for the yard and coaxed him into reading a few chapters ( which he did so beautifully)
  • Changed Sophie's diaper
  • Taught Joe a few new Math concepts and set him to work
  • Worked through Matthews Math lesson while simultaneously soothing his tears after having 2 more teeth pulled this morning
  • Gave Sarah directions to only color on paper
  • Reviewed JP's assignments check, check, check
  • 'Inquired' if Andrew and Peter needed proofreading ( only 3 classes till graduation!)

The rounds go like this for the better part of the day. Thankfully the older boys are independent, but they still need to know I care. We get through great lessons. We don't leave work unfinished. I am a goal oriented person and we hit our marks. I start every year wondering how I am ever going to get this information into their little minds, and then I find every year it happens. Maybe not perfectly, cause life is certainly messy, but it happens just the same. 

Homeschooling is a catch 22 for me. If they get things right I think to myself "Gee they seem naturally smart." BUT if they get things wrong I decided I am a lousy teacher. I wonder if school teachers ( official ones with all the directions and letters after their name that  I don't have) do the same? Thankfully I think love is the best motivator of all. I am motivated to help them excel if they are talented and also motivated to help them overcome if they are not. That comes from my heart. I hope it counts for something.

While I was finishing up schoolwork today, and preparing to head out to the library 'The Quake' came. Peter felt it in the same kitchen I did not feel it in. Joe walked out of the bathroom and asked why the toilet was shaking. Andrew, JP, Matt and myself all looked at each other as they exclaimed we'd had an earthquake. I would never had known it occurred as I was too busy checking over Joe's diagram of a cell. Fred was leaning against a tree in the yard where he was working only to feel it sway wildly. When he checked for wind he saw -there was none- and figured out it must have been a quake. 

(I will tell you that Paige -dear,dear, tricky little Paige- called within moments of the quake asking if I had experienced it as well and if I thought it had anything to do with the Zombie Apocalypse? Don't worry folks I was shrewd this time giving up NO information whatsoever. She'll steal no more tid-bits from me!) 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dog Tired

I will write something fun tomorrow. Tonight I am dog tired after a wonderfully long first day of school!
 Good night y'all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Tomorrow the kids start back to school. I have finished all my prep work and am actually excited. The kids are too-kinda/sorta. I am certain one of them is. Mary-Joan.

She will begin kindergarten tomorrow. She is squealing with delight at the prospect. Today she was in her newly finished classroom 'pretending' to be in school.

She asked Fred this question tonight as Fred chatted with her about starting kindergarten tomorrow:


"Yes Mary?"

"Is 9+9 hard?"

"No Mary 9+9 is really easy-you'll do fine sweetheart!"

"Oh,( laughing) I knew it!!!"

(Let us hope it all goes so easily!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Birthday Alley

Today is my Mothers Eleventy-First Birthday! I say that because my Mom is one of those women who never, ever, ever would tell her age to a soul-even her own child. I have never been given the answer to "How old are you Mom?" by her. My siblings all have various guesses that give me a round about figure.

My Mom and I are very different women. We look at life differently and go about things from totally opposite directions, yet oddly we both seem to come to the same conclusions time and again. I think in my entire life I have had perhaps 3 arguments  total with my Mom. She is always happy to hear my voice or visit. She has had more brushes with death than anyone I know! Gosh I wept through an entire night thinking I was saying goodbye to her while I was still nursing Peter!  For a tiny woman she is as strong as an ox. She has a good sense of humor and terrific style. Almost every time I speak to her she tells me how much she loves Fred and reminds me how lucky I am to have him, despite the fact that he teases her mercilessly!

Yesterday was my sister Tesa's birthday as well. She is one of the most wonderful women on the planet. She is loving and giving and besides being such a wonderful sister, she is also a wonderful friend. When I see her she makes me laugh and laugh. My kids all think she is so cheery and happy. They call her Aunt Pretty Colors cause she sang a song about pretty colors to them when she babysat years ago. Its a funny nick-name that sort of suits her.

Fred calls this little streak of close together birthdays "Birthday Alley". Its a small one for my Mom and Sis, we have a rather long Birthday Alley around these parts starting mid-September and running through early November. We fit in 5 Birthday at that time. I had hopes of being in New York for the big day(s) but the van has been overheating each time we go for a distance so we thought better of making the trip. Hope there was lots of cake and fun to go around! Love to you both from all of us here! Here is a cake for just for you!


Thursday, August 18, 2011


Andrew and Matthew had two teeth pulled this morning each. It was not a fun experience for either of them. It was not fun for me either. As a Mom it is always difficult to watch your kids feel any suffering but a part of you learns to accept that sometimes pain is for our own good ( think baby shots). Today was different because I wasn't prepared for it. I knew they would feel the pinch a bit, but that was not the source of the difficulties. I hadn't realized how badly they both detest needles and how much anguish that in itself would cause them. To their credit, both behaved with grace, but I knew they were suffering inside, and my heart almost broke a few times. After dealing so well with hours in the orthodontic chair the last week or two, I thought the dentist would be a snap by comparison. The whole ordeal lasted 45 minutes total for both. The extractions were not complicated or terribly difficult.  Andrew told me later every minute seemed an hour. They haven't had any pain to speak of afterwards but are both dreading ( along with their mother) going back next week.  They have to return next Tuesday for 2 more a piece. I have never wished more to be able to take another's place.  Remember them kindly in your prayers! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

All Em-Bracing

Another week, another set of braces! This time Andrew. Yes, we know, it is about a year behind schedule but that's OK. Better late than never. Andrew really wanted braces. He came home today so happy that he finally had them on. I hope he is not terribly sore tonight,as Matty had a rough first night last week. I do know it will pass. Tomorrow both Andrew and Matthew will have the first of 4 teeth each pulled as well. The dentist will do one side at a time in order to assure they have a 'good side' to eat on. OUCH! You can barely tell Andy has braces on to look at him. His smile is always so shy, you can't notice much. I had to make him smile big to actually be able  to show you all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I know I am not supposed to even whisper that school is starting for us next week. My children are all living in denial for the next few days as their freedom melts away before their very eyes. Of course if you have been reading my posts you have probably noticed I have already been in preparation mode for the last few weeks in order to get a jump start on the work load. 

I actually love the Fall. It is my favorite time of year with comfy sweaters, and vibrant colors, and cool crisp air. Once I am past the dreaded work of starting ( which I did a few weeks ago) I actually get excited and begin anticipating the good parts of it. 

This Summer was a success in my opinion. We had a whole lot of fun family time and plenty of break. Fred and I often try to gauge if we are meeting the different needs of our kids. Its always difficult to do that. It is much easier to see where we fail. A short check list we have come up with to measure parental performance consists of making a list of all things we did ( or wanted to ) as kids, and whether or not we are making time for our own kids to do the same. These are the things we got right this summer:

  • Camping
  • Beach
  • Visit family on both sides
  • Museums
  • Pool
  • Creeks
  • State park
  • picnic
  • barbecue
  • fireworks
  • Amusement Park

I am sure Fred would have liked more fishing but we still could make that happen come Fall. Bike rides would have been a good addition too but the roads around here are so dangerous that we tend to be too cautious. I know the kids are ready for school again as the little ones have taken to a high pitched screaming lately. Its born out of boredom and frustration for having too much free time. It will be good to be back to our routine and watch them grow for a while indoors. 

(Hope all your summer plans went well too!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Reading

Fred, (and often the older boys) have taken over our summer reading program for the younger ones. Fred has been picking out mostly classics and chugging through a couple of chapters each night after brushing teeth and saying prayers. Andrew, Peter, and John-Paul have all helped out when they hear its a story they remember liking as a kid. Joe and Matt have also 'wandered' into the room to make sure the stories are being properly represented. We managed to get through a bunch of good ones so far. Here's the list:

Alice in Wonderland

Treasure Island

Doctor Doolittle

Arabian Nights

The Prince and the Pauper

Gooseberry Park ( not a classic)

I think Dr. Doolittle was the biggest hit so far, but we're still in the midst of The Prince and the Pauper. My personal favorite is Alice in Wonderland, since I tend to see the world in much the same way that book presents it. Curiouser and Curiouser?

If you haven't read anything good lately, pick up a book. Its not too late you know. Summer has a few weeks left and a book can take you anywhere you want to go. Make it a vacation, compliments of me!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

That Time Again

Yup, you guessed's time for another ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE post!!! But this one has a twist. My dear friend Paige always makes snide comments about Zombie posts and laughs them off as she shrugs her head in nonchalance, as if to say Zombie-Schmombie. I have tried to warn her countless times of the dangers posed by The Zombie Apocalypse but she refuses  to listen. Or at least , so I thought.

This past week she was visiting England. Yes, England- for the whole tumultuous week. She said she was 'giving a paper' at Oxford. Initially I believed her, but as the week went on and the news got increasingly worse of rioting and feral children I began to suspect  my 'dear friend' of purposefully gathering information on rioting for her own study of The Zombie Apocalypse. Honestly when you look at the images from the riots, they could basically be super-imposed over the images generated for Zombie Apocalypse. There is a striking similarity, at least to my mind.

  Seriously, were you able to pick out the zombie picture above quickly or easily? I didn't think so. I do think the rioters were faster moving, and certainly more organized with their technology than any Zombies would be capable of.  England -it turns out,would be the best place to prepare ( or test hypothesis' if you're that type). If  you can outrun rioters, you'd likely fair better with Zombies. Obviously  Paige has been studying this much more seriously than I ever suspected. I have so many questions now.Did she take refuge in ASDA, which is the UK version of Wal-Mart? Did she utilize Hummers? How quickly does she think it is likely to spread? ( Alas- I hope she is not infected and bringing that back to the states!)  I hope she is not planning on stealing any of my scholarly work on the topic. I cannot believe she wouldn't have trusted me with this information. How could I have been so terribly mistaken about this friendship all along? What is the world coming to???

The big tip-off came for me midweek when I got a post from her saying "No worries- no rioting here!" yeah- sure. Then she tried to distract me by asking when we could go to the orchard to pick. I should have asked her if she was planning on picking BLACKBERRY'S! I may have to encrypt future posts so as not to jeopardize international safety. 


Saturday, August 13, 2011


Our friends Angela and John gave us some tickets to the Keys baseball game tonight in Frederick ( which of course I almost blew completely by mixing up the dates- phew!) Fred headed down (crossing fingers against the rain) to watch with John-Paul, Matt, Joe, Tom, Mike, Mary and Sarah. They had the best seats in the house right above the dugout! The rain held off, and the kids held up. As if all of that wasn't good enough, one of the players threw Mary a ball. Then Joe nabbed one, and finally Mike. Matthew on the other hand got a bat from the team, because- well-because he is Matt! At the end they got to run the bases and meet Keyote ( the team mascot) before finishing up with fireworks. What a perfectly fun night! (Check out the pictures which tell the whole story.)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quiet Day

It was a quiet day around here. The older boys went off to work. The next 3 went to Hershey Park on a last minute invitation (Thank you Josh!). So it was me and the five little ones. That was actually quiet. I think I only realize how many children I have when a few are missing. The lighter load feels significantly lighter.  It was a good day. It kind of felt like this:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Doctors and Dentists

It was a big day at our house. Last week Matthew had an expander put in, today came his braces. I am sure they will take some getting used to. No real pain so far. Andrew follows next week as well. I think he looks adorable!

We are also very grateful to God that Fred's mom had successful surgery today. She had a bit of skin cancer on her face that needed removing and after a very long day in surgery she is home and resting.(True story, My mother-in-law having grown up in Jamaica still seems to struggle with words at times. When she found out she had what could be a cancerous growth she approached her parish priest and asked for prayers telling him she was going in for an autopsy). I am so glad it is behind her now. Wish I could give her a big hug from all of us, but for now it will have to be a cyber one!!!

((((((Love you Angela- and Phil too!))))))

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Fred took some of the boys to a baseball game tonight. The Orioles play the White Sox. I hope they have fun!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Saying Goodbye, and Hello...

Just back from Mass in town at St Joseph's. I am remembering 3 of my friends tonight who died one year ago today in a tragic car accident. It still seems surreal to me. John and Pat died on the scene and Nana a few days later. I miss John and his awesome laughter. I miss Pat and her gentle soul. Nana was sweet and adored Pat. Gosh I really loved John. He was a really colorful man. We spent many hours together talking about life.

Moments before he died, he waved a big long wave to me. It will stay with me, always. I can still see his hand in the air. At his funeral I met his brother Steve for the first time (a fellow New Yorker). He told me his email address in passing that night. A few weeks later when Fred and I were missing John late one evening, on impulse- I wrote to his brother. A friendship was born. Over the year we have managed to keep in touch with one another fairly regularly and get to know each other as well. John and Steve are so different in personality and yet there is still so much 'feel'of John when I read what Steve writes. Isn't that strange?

It has been a gift this past year to be able to call Steve my friend. Somehow friendships we make in sorrow have a deeper quality to them. I think I could tell Steve just about anything. He has a heart not unlike his brother. I am grateful to God for him.

A few times this past year I have reflected on how in saying goodbye to John and Pat, I said hello to Steve. I think one day when ( and God willing if) we get to heaven, we will realize how many times in our life we  felt like we were saying goodbye when God was trying to help us say hello.

John and Pat would have wanted ( heck John would have demanded) me to ask each of you to remember to pray for their souls, so I am asking that now. Please continue to pray for them and for those who they left behind who still miss them so much! John and I spent hours in his basement editing film together. He told me once I had an uncanny knack for putting the right music to the feeling I wanted to convey. I have  felt sad on and off today thinking of my friends but also happy for the gift of their life and the new friendship God shared with me in the process in his brother. So I'll leave you all with the following song, a little happy but just a tinge  sad, in hopes John was right and I haven't lost my touch.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


"Mary is being very destructible!"

Mike came yelling at me this evening.So I asked him what she was 'destructivating' and he clarified his position immensely. "She climbed into Sophies crib and is putting pants on her head and shirts on her feet!"
I sighed and told him:

"Gosh Mike- That really is destructible!"

(I wonder what he really meant? )

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pilgrim George

Tonight I got the call. A familiar voice on the other end of the line asking for Ellen. It was Pilgrim George. I don't know how to begin telling you about Pilgrim George except to say he is about the holiest man I have ever met in my life. He is in fact - a holy man. Pilgrim George has been walking the earth, quite literally, since the year I was born. He began his journey in 1970 while discerning a vocation. Over time it became clear to him that the walk was his vocation. He has put more then 40,000 miles on his feet, simply for the love of God.

Each year he maps out a destination to some holy place ( this year in honor of St. Anne) and spends all year getting there on foot. He has been all around the world. Russia, the Holy Land, Asia, Turkey, Middle East- you name it hes walked there.He takes the gospel pretty literally. He is kind and gentle. He is Christ-like.

I remember when I first met him in Vermont. He needed a place to stay while travelling and was pointed in my direction, as I have always had a soft spot for someone in need. From the moment he walked through the door I knew something was different. My kids didn't phase him at all, in fact he seemed to like them. We were in the process of moving from VT to Maryland at the time and when he saw Fred go out to paint our house, he went out after him and painted too. He helped me around the house and laughed gently and peacefully. I must have asked him about a million questions, doing my best to figure out what his real gig was- I mean come on- there had to be a catch here somewhere, right?

Finally, after 2 full days, I realized I had more issues then he did. I also realized God probably pushed him my way so I could learn something. So I asked him what did he really think was important after travelling all over the world, by foot, sleeping in tents or strangers houses, eating what was given him, enduring heat and cold, being welcomed and shunned, what was it that He felt I should know about the meaning of life?

I can still hear the words as they penetrated my soul:

"You have a father in heaven who loves you."

Could it really be that simple? Well, quite frankly- yes. It could. Pilgrim George thinks it is important enough to walk around the world for 41 years simply telling people that same message.

Once I was able to hear those words, it was amazing how clear everything else became. He is so good to be around. One really understands why a life dedicated to God can be beautiful when speaking to him. His words are never complicated or lofty but they pierce me to the core, because they are true. He has stayed with my family on 4 different occasions over the years. Each one has been a particular blessing. During a particularly difficult time a few years ago, when I felt I hadn't a friend in the world, he wrote me a beautiful letter that reminded me I had a father in heaven who loves me.( And Pilgrim George loves me too!)  It has been 4 years and 2 babies since I last saw him, so you can imagine my surprise when I got the call saying he'd like to stop by tonight.

This evening I asked him as we sat around with children climbing in and out about us, what he thought was important for me to know now, today-to get to heaven. He said I need to let God love me and make room for him in my heart. After I thought about that for a moment I asked him what kept us from letting God into our heart- he said probably fear.

I think hes' right.

All of life seems to make sense to me when he is around.Those silly things that normally trouble me like the economy, or schoolbooks, illness, and misunderstandings- they all disappear and I can see it so clearly before me what life should be.

What a spectacular man.

If you'd like to read more about him you can do so here and here.