Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bethlehem is in Newtown Connecticut

Yesterdays horror still has me shaky. It has really rocked our whole family and so many of you as well, I know. And I don't even watch the news. I do read it, but am being selective even there. All those little ones. Parents, with Christmas around the corner and empty arms and hearts. I can't stop myself thinking how they will get through it- how possibly can you get through it?

And then I remember that this is the real meaning of Christmas. This is why He came. It isn't about the boxes and presents- its about so much more. Jesus who is love, and desires all men to be saved, saw our desperate human state. And we really are desperate, aren't we?Yesterday proves we have lost our way entirely. And so He came. To save us from ourselves. To save us from each other.To save us from ambushes, and war, and innocent killings, and even the guilty ones. And Jesus doesn't do things in half measure. Historians tell us the three wise men likely didn't arrive in adoration for a few years after he was born and thus he was hunted by Herod as a small child like those little ones yesterday. If this is true then surely He was a comfort to them  as they passed into His arms. 

 2000 years ago we had no room for Him in an Inn. Today we exile from public places and classrooms. But it is not possible to shake Him from humanity as He became one of us. There will always be a Bethlehem and a  dirty stable to welcome his warm body to the cold night air, so long as even one of us have a little faith left in our hearts. Yes, just a mustard's seeds worth. He will show up, because He loves us. And He understands our desperation.

This year He will have to make His Bethlehem in Newtown Connecticut, since he always hears the cries of his children. Amidst the tragedy He will appear, humbly, quietly, and dressed in poor rags. He will show up in the million stories we will hear of heroism, and unselfish love. Stories of teachers shielding children and hiding them in closets. Stories of policemen and women who will stand guard and protect. Stories of neighbors who will reach out to comfort. Stories of a nation that will flood this small town with love and prayers. He will pour himself into every crack and crevice of the bleeding, broken hearts in parents, and family, and friends in that quiet little town, and He will begin to heal them. But it will take time. He will be with them in a million small ways- and they will need Him to be.

Vicki Soto died a hero yesterday protect her class
Anne Marie Murphy special Ed teacher, used her body as a shield to save her students.
 It may not feel like it tonight. It may seem sheer foolishness on my part to think it, but that is what faith is about. Believing. Believing we are not forsaken. Believing things can be better than this. Believing for all these broken parents that this is not the last time they will see their little ones.There is something more.

This is the meaning of Christmas. That hope has not died, despite humanity's penchant for trying to kill it. It rises again in all those who believe in Him, and will make room for Him in their hearts. 

Come Lord Jesus!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Tree

Yesterday we decorated our Christmas tree. Its awful purty.  We usually make a big feast of all sorts of goodies, and spend the afternoon gobbling, listening to music, and applying ornaments. This has been a really good Advent for us so far. It doesn't feel harried to me. We are lighting our advent wreath nightly, and moving our wise men one room at a time through the house, we are putting straw in the manger to prepare for the babe. Mostly we are trying to find places inside each of us that we've left him no room. You know those dusty corners of our hearts.The ones  that claim ownership and refuse to acknowledge God while clinging tenaciously to a perceived good like daffy Duck with that pearl  "Its Mine I tell you, mine, all Mine!!!"

Yeah we all have those nasty places. Places so chock full within ourselves there simply isn't any room at all for God to maneuver  let alone sleep for the night. Goodness, we could make that no-good-Inn in Bethlehem look like a welcome respite with the way we turn Him out at times.That's what we're working on at our house this year. But of course at Christmas its so much easier to do the work since joy is peeking through everything.  Even denying yourself ( since all Advent is actually a penitential season) feels sort of  'happy'.

I have found I am so grateful lately. Grateful for so many small things, health, work, a house,family, good-wholesome- healthy food, loving relationships with my kids ( the big as well as the small!), a husband who is simply wonderful, friends that grow dearer to me daily- God blesses us continually and we know it and feel thankful. So, yes Advent is great and we are happy!
getting the lights on the tree 
Sarah places the star ( she was terrified)
I added tinsel later that would make my Uncle Dave proud
The little ones got more excited as each decoration came out

Saturday, December 8, 2012


My brother Paul got me thinking about German food last night. He was asking trivia about German Christmas traditions, and likely thinking back on his trip to Germany years ago. He told me all about that trip and how much he simply loved Germany. For some reason the story of him visiting a salt mine was the one that stuck with me the most. Strange.

Anyway, we went food shopping today and I spied some spaetzle. I have never eaten it before, but decided it was as good a time as any to try it out.We got our tree today also, but we won't decorate it til tomorrow, once the branches fall open. So while Fred set it up, I got cooking.  I paired it with what 'felt' like  good German combinations- but I could be completely wrong: a cream sauce, and fresh sausage from the butcher, and lastly brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts, they are a totally awesome vegetable. About half of my kids love them too, and the other half do not. More for the good half.

 The dinner made me happy as it reminded me of my wonderful brother and how many times he has made me smile over a lifetime. The kids thought it was fine. Just fine- nothing awesome, but neither was it bad. Then we moved our wise men as we do all through Advent, to show the journey of them to find the King of Kings. Tonight the poor things made it into the stinky,smelly, older boys room where they will stay for this leg of the journey. Sophia is so honored to carry one! She calls them the Three Mise Wen. We're all looking forward to tomorrow when we decorate and have a family party as we go. Hope you all had a beautiful Saturday too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Matthew has had a great science course so far this year over at Sacred Heart Tutorials. The first half of the year was devoted to Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. Matt had to pick out  a chapter and present to his class. He built a diorama on Cephalopods ( i.e. octopus, cuttlefish,squid) and made some cupcakes complete with goldfish swimming along to hand out. He had a blast making it. It nice when learning goes this way.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Tree Lighting

Tonight was our towns Christmas Tree Lighting. It was a perfect night weather wise, warm enough to wear a simple sweater and feel comfortable. We really enjoy going every year, I have to admit. It always surprises me what a strange mix our town is between locals, and the college crowd from the  Mount with their families, along  with an undercurrent of Catholicism streaming in from the seminary and  local shrines. I think the diversity is most pronounced to me at this particular event, though I'm not sure why. It may have something to do with the overheard conversations while waiting on long lines for hayrides, or to see Santa, or grab a hot dog. For instance I heard two colleagues chatting about a book one has just written, while directly behind me a woman was putting the kibosh on the idea of needing to know how to use the different sized utensils in the The Carriage House restaurant   that is hosting the event by handing out free hot dogs, cocoa, and Christmas cookies to one and all. "Who needs all them forks anyway, shoot I just need one and a spoon . No one really uses all that etiquette!" (I swear to you I heard this tonight.) Its a strange and wonderful little place I live, filled with lively characters of all sorts. It has a special kind of charm, all its own. Here are some photos of the night.

Carriage House for hot dogs and caroling
On the Hayride
riding around town to look at lights
finally we met Santa!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Laundry is a four letter word in my house. But my wonderful husband changed all that this past week. He managed to pull together a few days to spend working on our house. Fred had been wanting to re-do the little girls room for ages. The room had belonged to the little boys before our addition went up, and we never quite finished the work. Then we moved Mike and Tom downstairs and soon after wound up moving the three girls into that room. We hadn't planned it, it just sort of happened and we still hadn't finished the ugly room. It had a combination of blue paint, pink paint, and drywall in some spots. So this week Fred moved the girls into a presentable room and transformed the eye sore into a laundry room. I'll let the before and after pictures speak for themselves. I am super happy!

a mix of old and new house that never got finished
old closet
new floor, plumbing, lighting, and a bit of paint!
folding table and shelving to organize
 new built in look- in that old yucky closet
storage space above- laundry separators below

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Oven Blew Up and Other Thanksgiving Tales

Last year on Thanksgiving morning in Grandmaland, the water main for the house, fell to pieces. Fred spent the better part of Thanksgiving morning using chewing gum and spit to piece it back together. Thank goodness he is actually more handy than MacGyver his special skill set comes quite in handy in those type of situation. This year started off much better. We arrived on Wednesday night, settled in nicely and were having a lovely ole time. Thursday morning the kids played with Nikki's new pup Sperry while I scorned the newspaper headlines announcing the stores which would be opening on Thanksgiving evening for early shopping. How greedy and gross of those nasty retailers. What sort of person would head out on Thanksgiving day to shop?Disgust filling my bones as I shook off a chill. By mid day we were heading to the park for some fresh air and family time.
When we arrived back at the house, the smell of turkey was already wafting through the house.The sun shining through the windows while children's voices rang merrily about. My mother in law was unusually calm and peaceful.It was turning into quite a perfect day!

Until the oven blew up.

We were all chatting in the kitchen when suddenly POP! FLASH! FLAMES! and then...nothing. Uh-oh, thought I. Oh-no, thought Fred. He hit the stove several times in an attempt to fix it ( which interestingly works better than you might think) but had no luck. The thing was D-E-A-D.Once Fred realized he couldn't fix it,he stopped worrying all together, and I took over. Pulling him into the next room I whispered:
  "This is a BIG problem Fred!" 
 "It is not, Dave will not care if my parents use his oven- the problem is FIXED!" (Dave is Fred's brother who happens to live next door, but was in CT with his in-laws for the day)
 "It is NOT fixed. I know we can finish the dinner, but how long do you think its going to take your Mother to realize she can't make scrambled eggs for breakfast tomorrow and come unglued? This is about to turn into a full blown crisis for goodness sake help me out!"
Fred shrugged and then did the only thing any respectable man in his position could do. He took a nap.
I spent the next several hours next door with my mother-in-law cooking the rest of the dinner. We chatted and bickered all afternoon. My father in law brought over the 200+ year old Jamaican family heirloom platter and then disappeared again. Angela insisted Diane's oven made her gravy taste different. 
 "Do you think this heat is different than the heat in your oven?"

"Don't be foolish Ellen of course it is"

 Angela,is a creature of habit and this was starting to throw her off more than was good for her. I knew I had to appeal to a higher authority. Catholic guilt. 

"Angela, we should be grateful this happened- God must have wanted it to for a different purpose! have you thanked him for breaking your oven yet?" 

"No I Haven't Ellen!" 

"You better thank him right now."

 in a whisper she muttered'Thank you for breaking my oven"

 "There now, don't you feel better?"


and then she began to add while looking up to heaven

"But couldn't you have waited-" 

and I hushed her up and said "Don't tempt God" 

 To which she quickly pursed her lips and said 

"Ok, but even if I don't say it, He still knows what I am thinking." and we both burst out laughing.

 Once the turkey was done the both of us transferred it to the platter. Angela began to call Phil back over to carry the turkey. I told her I could carry it. She said I could not. I told her I was stronger than she was. Highly insulted, she said it wasn't so.

 "Yes Angela, it is. I am stronger than you. I didn't used to be, but then I had ten kids and now I am."

 "You are not; I'm carrying it!" 

 "Am too"

 I said as I quickly grabbed the side of the platter. She grabbed the other side and said defiantly "We'll do it together!" You can imagine the scene of the two of us wrestling *gingerly* across the yard with an enormous turkey as we tried to prove to one another who was stronger, while simultaneously doing our best not to damage an almost 300 year old platter. As a testament to our mutual strength, the turkey and platter are still intact along with our pride. We woke Fred and all of us sat down to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. And so by Thanksgiving night, with full bellies, and grateful hearts I found myself in the last place on earth I could imagine myself on such a holiday. 

Which happened to be one of those evil businesses that opened on the holiday that I had complained and cursed earlier that morning. Suddenly I was thanking the heavens that I could pick out a new oven with my husband and my wonderful high strung in-laws. And we laughed about the day, as we shopped. And I realized once again, that even bad and evil things work out in His plan if only we have the eyes to see it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

And so it begins...

We arrived in Grandmaland,and the girls are in heaven. They have been stuffed solid with food and sweets and its not even Thanksgiving yet. After baths and cream puffs the girls begged for Gram to read stories. No sooner did she enter the room than she was attacked by blankets,pillows, laughter and hugs. She laughed harder than they did. Angela and Phil are amazing grandparents. Tomorrow I'll post pics of Nikki letting the kids meet her new puppy Sperry!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I know the picture below is not easy to look at. But its a reality for so many.I am trying not ti insulate myself from it currently. I want to look at it to remind myself of all the things I REALLY did worry about today. Superficial things Silly things Petty things Things that can take on such epic proportions in our daily lives, can suddenly return to their rightful place in the universe when we look at real and genuine tragedy. There is so much to be grateful for. Don't forget that. And of course there are always things we can do to help- little things that don't change the whole world, but may make one person's load lighter for a while. Go and do that thing, with a smile.God will be there waiting for you.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Guest Post:John Paul Work Camp

         Hey everyone! It's John-Paul. I'm doing a guest post on Mom's blog tonight in hopes of raising  some money for a charitable cause. This summer (June 22-28), I will be going to a work camp in Virginia that will be helping people in need. I will be joining over 700 other teenagers in  work  ranging from repairing unsafe decks/floors, to adding wheelchair ramps or replacing roofs in an area of particular need. All of this will be at no cost to the beneficiaries. However, to provide this free service, each work camper has to raise a few hundred dollars for materials and tools. To do this, the parish that I am going with is doing several fundraisers. The first involves Sheetz. Anybody who goes to Sheetz can tell you that they have great ready to order food and drinks and refreshing fountain drinks and slurpees that you can grab on the go (as well as coffee and my personal favorite, hot chocolate); and it also doubles as a gas station. To help raise money, I am selling small books of coupons to Sheetz. Inside these coupon books are coupons for free fountain drinks and slurpees, ready to order food and drinks and even for free donuts. There are lots of buy one get one free deals included too. They cost $10 but have free products worth over $25 inside. If you are interested, you can e-mail me at this address,

         The next fundraiser is being done in coordination with Lynch Creek Farms. If you haven't heard about them, they hand make beautiful Christmas wreaths and other decorations including garlands, centerpieces, and door swags. They also ship anywhere in the U.S., making their wreaths a great gift idea for friends or family who don't live close by. To support workcamp, you just have to go onto their site, conveniently located right here. All you have to do then is look up in the top right corner to where it says "support a fundraiser," and click on that. You will then be prompted to enter a code or the name of the group. You can then input the code, "A70163," under where it says, "enter fundraising ID," and It will say that you are supporting workcamp 2013, legare. Then any purchase you make will give 25% of the cost to the fundraiser.   This can also be done by phone. The number is 1-888-426-0781. Then all you have to do is say that you want to support a fundraiser, Workcamp 2013 or give them our fundraising code, 43224, and make whatever order you want. Also, please mention my last name, legare, so that I can get credit for the sale. 

       Lastly, you could just give a straight cash donation. If you are interested in this last option, just email me Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Well That Wasn't What I was Hoping For

Holy Smokes another four years is going to be difficult on this lady. Gee I don't like our current president. Being a true sanguine by nature I knew early enough in the evening we lost, and put myself to bed almost needing to suck my thumb. This morning I woke up feeling like I had washed up on the Jersey shoreline after Hurricane Sandy, so upsetting was the reality as it sunk in.

For those of you who don't quite understand this dramatic feeling, there were faith issues involved for a whole lot of us, not simply an awful economy. This President has attacked my church, and its pretty much the only thing I can't and wont tolerate. I didn't like Clinton, but I could tolerate him because he wasn't so extreme, not so this time. I try really hard  to be respectful to the office of presidency  and for the first time in my life I want to throw up and that thought of being polite and respectful. So, even if you don't share my sentiments, I hope you can respect how deeply this hit  me, and some of us.

Truly, I have never prayed as hard over any political event as this one. I was committed. And we lost. Badly. So what does this tell me?

Well, I would not be much of a christian if I counted my prayers efficacy based on how many times they were answered according to my will. The real test of any Catholic/Christian is accepting His will when it isn't what we ask for. Those small deaths to self happened all over our country today. So many faithful people watched as their hopes were dashed. It's intensely painful. It is also a necessary part of what we believe. I am old enough to know that God hears every prayer I utter, and cares about each hair on my head ( even the white ones colored over). But sometimes he has a plan that requires us to stop and wait. He is teaching us and loving us in those moments too.

The temptation is to think he has abandoned us, but he hasn't. He wouldn't be God if he did that. God is love. He must have a different plan than mine and today I must accept that and do my best to move forward in faith.  I haven't the foggiest idea of what comes next, but I can trust in a father who watches over us all and  desires that we abide in his love- together.

So, may God continue to bless our nation and our President even if some of us are finding it hard to do the same.

"Lord I believe, help my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

Friday, November 2, 2012


Well, we have been without power here now since Monday. The good news is, we are a small minority. There are rumors circulating that we could have it back tomorrow night, but we'll see. Fred and I are pretty adaptable human beings.When problems hit, we roll them over pretty quickly and come up with solutions. We also value 'preparedness' cause, we think its cool. So I'll tell you about the last few days now, with ten kids and no electricity.Our own little personal zombie apocalypse.

 Day one was spent readying the house.Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, you name it- it got done. We also made brownies, because man- we knew we'd miss them without a working oven! No candles, or as few as possible ( too many little ones for me to ever feel safe enough to sleep). We went with glow sticks, mini battery powered candles, flashlights and a generator.
The generator can run most of the outlets in the kitchen, and keep the fridge and freezer running. We ran extension cords for far away items like lap-top or TV. Within the kitchen my super cool kitchen gadgets became my best friends. I was able to plug in my bread machine, the 'set it and forget it' for roast chicken,rice cooker, crock pots, you name it, I can cook it ( except for brownies- ugh). The biggest problem? WATER. ( Well, honestly the biggest problem really is not being able to make brownies, but I am trying to be helpful here for your future reference, so let's just go with the water dilemma- since I have no solution for the void of brownies.)

 It took us 2 days to hook up the water pump to the generator. It still cannot run freely or it would kill the generator, but we can drink and wash dishes. We have a wood-stove and plenty of fire wood, so heat was not an issue at all. On day two I realized the next big problem after getting water, was heating it. Enter, and their super cool listing for a Triton camp shower. This nifty gadget heats water ( yes, very scalding hot) on demand when hooked up to a water source ( and we luckily have two wells) and a propane tank. Yesterday we set up a shower in the pool area and I don't think my kids have ever been so grateful for a hot bath. It is also pretty novel and that never hurts with little ones.

 So,all in all, we are managing OK. I have been reading the headlines about the folks in Staten Island, and my own family on Long Island who are in far worse shape than we are, and I am at least happy to be in solidarity with them. There are plenty of things to offer these small discomforts for, and we are making that happen. And so many of our friends have been kind and brought carafes of hot water, or breakfast, or coffee, or dinner. We are blessed. And while the lights have been off in our house, we have seen brighter lights in many of your eyes.So thanks!