Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We are still without power, so I write to you via the help of our handy, dandy generator. There are three major power mains down on our stretch of road, and it appears the power guys have packed it in for the night. We'll have to figure it out on our own for now. At least tonight there is no battering wind to have me on high alert. My goodness that sounded scary. Having seven sons last night was no fun. Not one of them ( or their father) was able to control the impulse to repeatedly go outside to check the storm. As if it weren't bad enough to listen through the walls, they kept giving me front row seats.
Yesterday Fred and I crammed 48 hours into 6 getting ready for Sandy to hit. This amounted to double time in the classroom including tests ( many tests) just in case we NEEDED to be out of school due to the storm.My kids were exhausted by days end, but just slightly ahead of where they needed to be. In a house with 12 people schedules are everything. Fred prepped the house. If you read my Zombie posts, you will not be surprised that I like to be prepared, so much of the storm supplies were already on hand. Flashlights, battery powered bathroom lights ( as few open flames with little ones as possible ), water, food, first aid, generator- all set. All our laundry was done too. Meals laid out- check. When the wind started to blow though Zoinks! We could hear all around us the crackling and splitting of wood. I was certain when we awoke- if we awoke the house and yard would be torn to shreds. Turns out none of our trees fell.Lots fell around us- all around us. Once we assessed we were all OK, I tried to check in on my family who was battling in NY. Facebook is a godsend during this type of crisis. My sister Angela was able to update me on some family, and my cousin Bob and Margaret had news as well, my sis Jacquie finally checked in tonight and so it appears all are safe. Like us they are still without power, but I am hopeful ours will return tomorrow. I am sad thinking of the damage NY and Jersey will face.
Having seven sons this morning was lots of fun. Each of the boys helped out family, friends, and neighbors with generous hearts. They make me proud on days like today. Sorry this is a bit disjointed. Mostly just wanted to say thanks to you all for your love and prayers! Know we are thinking of you all.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Fun

My girlfriend Sarah had a Halloween party this evening. My kids were revved up all afternoon thinking about it! I only took a few shots ( after Mary, Sarah and Lo-lo ate a black frosted cupcake ) but they had a blast! And with the storm heading our way, it may be the best they do this year as there seems to be a strong possibility of Halloween being canceled ( and our normal Saints parade).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Storm Help

Frankenstorm is heading our way, so I'd like to offer you  my faith solution to storms. I am pretty certain I have shared this prayer with you before, its called the Ave Maris Stella. It is a powerful prayer invoking The Blessed Virgin's protection, particularly during storms. It has never failed us. My children all know it by heart.(As a side note, just before the first presidential debate I asked all my kids to stop and pray for Gods hand to be with the the candidates and bless Mitt Romney in a powerful way and then I  began the Ave Maris Stella. My kids were all confused but prayed anyway until Fred finally whispered to them, "your Mom thinks this is a differnt type of storm, a political one." I'll let the results of the prayer...ahem... speak for themselves.) In earnest I am concerned about the impact this storm will have on so many. We're going to start praying tonight that its impact will be lessened, and God will protect our country. Join us! 

  Ave Maris Stella

Hail Bright star of Ocean
 Gods own Mother Blessed
Ever sinless Virgin
Gate of Heavenly rest!

Taking that sweet Ave
Which from Gabriel came,
Peace confirm within us
Changing Eva's name.

 Break the captive's fetters ;
 Light on blindness pour ;
 All our ills expelling,
 Every bliss implore.

 Show thyself a Mother ;
May thy word Divine
Born for us thine Infant
Hear our prayer through thine!

 Virgin all excelling
mildest of the mild
freed from guilt preserve us
pure and undefiled.

Keep our life all spotless
make our way secure
 Till we find in Jesus
Joy forevermore.

 Through the highest heaven,
 To the Almighty Three,
 Father, Son, and Spirit, One same glory be.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Costume Fun

The boys have dress-up ballroom tonight. They have been talking about it for weeks. Deciding on costumes, planning the evening. It's fun to watch. Yesterday Andrew headed to Wal- Mart to buy fabric. He didn't sweat over it, or doing any preliminary drawings for his ninja costume, he just bought the material and came home. Last night climbing into bed I thought "he'll never get a costume sewn in one day with so little experience" as I drifted off to sleep.

I was totally wrong. I swear this kid has missed his calling in life to be a tailor. Not only can he manage to cut pieces that actually turn into clothing- it really looks good! Apparently last years jester costume wasn't a fluke, cause he did it again this year.

Matt wanted to go as a box man from Minecraft  and he spent most of the day paint those boxes, but it just didn't look right and he had to fall back onto a zombie costume kind of last minute, thankfully he was in good spirits about it.Peter was a zombie rock-star, while JP was a zombie slayer. Joseph was a camoflaged army man. It's fun for me to see them get so excited.

Good stuff.

Friday, October 12, 2012


We've been pulling back further and further on video games around here in the last few months. Some of my wonderful friends are much better about this than I, and I thank you for your continued good example, it has impacted me. Anyhow, this week the kids were on fall break from classes. It was getting a bit chilly around here, and while they did play outside, it wasn't as welcoming. Being cooped up inside was also proving difficult, since the video games were on hold. And then they discovered the closet that holds all the board games! HOURS OF ENTERTAINMENT! 

For some reason they honed in on The Game of Life. Its not my first pick - give me world domination in RISK any day- But they were all enjoying it. One afternoon Thomas came in to me slightly downcast. He had been playing with Joe, Matt, and Mike.  I put down my book and said:

Come here buddy, whats wrong?

I don't like that game.

No? Why not?

(Big sigh) Well, every time I go to college I wind up in so much debt! I have nothing but loans and wind up losing everything. Its no fair.

Supressing a laugh,I stopped for a minute to think - then asked:

Well, what could you do differently next time you play?

Oh that's easy, I'm gonna go down a different path.

OK, that might work Tommy! What will you be if you don't go to college?

I'll be an entertainer. They make lots of money and barely have to work!

He then skipped off quietly, contented on his new path. I think I may need to take a second look at that game after-all. Maybe it really does teach you about the game of life. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Libya and More

I had a slightly different perspective on the attack on Libya last month. It felt really personal to me I had a real face to connect to the atrocity and drive the terrorism home. Our friend and neighbor Mark works for the State Department and has spent the last 23 years of his life on diplomatic missions including his most recent in Iraq. When I have read articles about Chris Stevens since the attack, they all describe traits that are also clearly present in Mark and I am so saddened by this awful turn of events- knowing the goodness that has been lost.

 Mark is an amazing person. His warmth is so felt, and each conversation with him is incredibly eye opening and insightful. Nia his wife, is from the Republic of Georgia,where a new parliament was just elected last month. This marks the first time in the history of that nation where power is being transferred peaceably by election.Democracy is beginning to take hold. She is equally as fascinating to talk to, as her world perspective is so broad and different from what I am accustomed to. We had dinner with them this past weekend, and I was able to ask Mark questions that were infinitely more helpful than what the newspapers or internet can give me.

 As if the night wasn't shaping up well enough for this little homeschooling-housewife-mother-of-ten they invited another couple along- one who currently works for the Fed, the other who works for the IMF. I am pretty certain the only way to make this night any better would be to invite Paul Ryan himself!

 Fred and I got a chance to ask Tom, (the Fed guy) about QE1, QE2, and the soon to be QE3. (Turns out he thinks Dodd Frank wasn't the best idea either and he is a Democrat- for the record). He also spoke about soft landings versus hard landings when it comes to Economic policies that affect all of us.So from his perspective QE1 was necessary, but as you get down the road and continue it has less impact.

And it turns out the best thing going for someone who works at the IMF is an ability to write and communicate well, according to Catherine. Its not simply about numbers, but about being able to translate ideas about monetary policy into many different languages. I won't bore you all too much more about politics and Economics, but I did ask Mark to  answer for my readers this question.I asked if he would think of five points that he would like average Americans to understand about these diplomatic missions we run around the globe. What in his years of experience has he taken away from all of it? I'll list his points below, which he graciously allowed me to share with all of you.

 1- The people of Middle Eastern nations are genuinely good and have suffered so much under extreme regimes run by fanatics. We should be careful not to lump them all together with the loudest voices among them.

 2- There is tremendous gratitude for what the American presence is trying to accomplish in most nations among the people, despite the fact that their leaders will not speak it. The people know Americans are good and are trying to help them and are very appreciative of it. 

 3- Just as Americans are complicated, so too are the people of other nations. It takes time and patience to cultivate an understanding that will lead to friendship. We have to be willing to invest in long term goals that help other nations because its the right thing to do. 

 4-America is the indispensable nation. It’s not about the oil. That is a cynical and overly simplistic attitude. American ideals of freedom and democracy are what is encouraged at grassroots levels in a million ways that makes a difference in many lives and ultimately in world peace.

 5- Ignorance is the greatest enemy of peace.The Arab spring happened mainly because of the internet. The ability to get information and understanding quickly and easily is changing the world rapidly.

Lastly, I would just like to add a THANK YOU to Mark for his willingness and dedication to serve our nation in its diplomatic efforts.I am grateful. May God Bless and keep you all!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fred Turns 48

We had a busy day getting ready for Fred's Birthday! We took him out to dinner at Hickory Bridge Farm. Taking the whole gang of us out is no small task, so I am grateful it went really well and we had great fun.
The kids also got him so funny gag gifts, though something tells me Sophie really thought he might like my little pony as much as she did!
Happy Birthday Freddy. You mean the world to me...and ten other people as well!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's up Doc?

And he will reply, 'I tell you, I don't know you or where you come from.Luke 13:27 

 They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? Matthew 25:44

It's not too easy being Catholic. Or at least I have never found it so. Certainly, there is much to get used to in regards to the 'shall and shall not's' and hopefully over time that becomes more second nature, at least its the aim. But of course the real goal of the Catholic life is to be able to encounter Christ, not simply in the breaking of the bread- but in every person we meet. Imagine the person you like least in the world right now and you'll get an idea of how far off you actually are from genuine charity.

 There is a man in our town known affectionately by the name of Doc ( he used to be a dentist). He is suffering from some type of memory loss. He lives on the outskirts of the center of town, and walks everywhere, every day- no matter the weather. He is a friendly sort of man, and very active and busy. But I have noticed that for the most part he is invisible to the town that surrounds him. He moves from place to place and tries to start up conversations, but mostly get passed by, or politely ignored.

 But Doc has been zeroing in on me now for quite some time.If I am some place, so is he. I seem to see him everywhere I go.And here's the thing, he seems to see me all those times too. Its strange. If we are travelling in the car, and stop at the light in town, there he will be. And not only will he turn, but his eyes will lock-on to me and he'll smile or just stare back, and so will I.

 For a time, I thought it was simply my imagination. Then of course my kids started to notice it as well, and then Fred came right out and mentioned it too as it became more pronounced. A few weeks ago, he came into a full church during mass and tapped Fred on the arm and asked if he could move all the way over past the kids to sit in the row next... to me.

 I know that might actually sound a little creepy, but its not. Doc is sweet and very harmless. And every conversation we have pretty much goes the same way since he cannot remember anything I tell him from one meeting to the next. In fact he does not even know my name.

 I feel certain Jesus is trying to reach out to me in Doc. He would like me to be able to see past the mostly empty stare and find His love. He is trying to speak to me through this man and I know it, which makes each new encounter with Doc new and wonderful and scary all at once. Try to put yourself in my shoes for a minute in the supermarket tonight.I'll give you the lead in first: It had been a long rainy day cooped up in the house with the kids. Fred was a little on the late side getting home from work. We had supper and then I asked if he would accompany to the supermarket so I could get the supplies for the hot dog lunch I am running at the Co-op tomorrow. So we headed back out into a dark drizzle and chatted on the way, then shopped, and finally made our way to the check out line.

 About this time Doc appeared in the store. I noticed him out of the corner of my eye, but laid low. Within a few seconds Fred quietly mentioned "Doc's over there". I kept at my business of unloading the groceries and then heard Fred say "Up-there it is- he's spotted you!" and he gives a small chuckle. Sure enough when I looked up Doc is bee-lining it across the store for me. I smiled as he got closer wondering what he would ask me this time.(If it makes it easier replace the name Doc with Jesus in the conversation.)

 Hi Doc!

 Do you know me?

 Sure, I do.

 You do?

 Yes Doc I do.

 Where do you know me from?

 I know you from Church mostly, and also from around town.

 What church?

 St Josephs

 And do I know you?

 Yes Doc, you know me.

 I do- really?

 Yes you do.

 Hmmm? Whats your name?


 Ellie, and I know you from church?

 Yes you do.

 Will you be at church this weekend?

 Yes I'm planning on it

 And will I see you there?

 I hope so Doc.

 And you're my friend?


And we know each other?


 And will you remind me who you are, so that I remember you?

 Sure I will.

 (By this point I am heading for the door, but he calls out after me)

 Please don't forget to remind me who you are!

 I won't forget, Doc- promise.

 But it is not Doc I am thinking of as I wave goodbye and make my way to the car. It is Jesus. It is Jesus- in -Doc chatting with me, asking me questions, and trying to figure out who I am. And this always make me go home and wonder whether or not I really do know Jesus. And whether or not I really am his friend. And if I I do know Him from church and from around town. And I wonder if I really let Him know me too- or if I just smile politely and purposely fail to meet his gaze when he comes he comes looking for a friendly face? Does he melt into the crowd and disappear- or do we lock eyes? I think the answer is there of course too, that I don't really know him, - but maybe in time if I keep reminding him that we are friends- he might one day remember my name.