Sometimes living life in a big family does feel like a three-ring circus, but that's my life, and, all-in-all, I LOVE IT!

Friday, December 30, 2011

"Greatest Invention Since Sliced Bread"

My Mom used to say lots of phrases, and some made no sense to me when I was little, it wasn't until I got older that I understood the wisdom of some of these sayings, and it wasn't until I was older that I understood the humor in a lot of them:

"Still wet behind the ears."
"Three sheets to the wind."
"Throwing the baby out with the bath water."
"To boot."
"Be careful what you wish for."
"Crying crocodile tears."
"Doubting Thomas."
"Spick and Span."
"Give the house a lick and a promise."

She had a ton of them, but these are some I remember off the top of my head.  And often others will come to mind, like, "This is the greatest invention since sliced bread!" (I looked it up and found that bread was first sliced and packaged for convenience in 1928 [my Mom was five at the time, so maybe she does remember this invention!],  I read that this phrase is commonly used to praise an invention or development.  And I read that a writer for the Kansas City Star wrote that the phrase is the ultimate depiction of innovative achievement and American know-how.)

Anyway, that one phrase of my Mom's came to mind when I acquired these:

Dish Towel Gloves!

They were just an impulse buy when Ray and I were in the Corningware store at a local shopping center.  And it is an impulse buy that I do NOT regret!  They are fantastic!  They dry well.  They give you a good grip on whatever it is you're drying.  And they are so thick and absorbent that you can dry many, many dishes and pots & pans without having to change the gloves out the way you do with conventional dish towels.

Yes! Dish Towel Gloves! Greatest invention since sliced bread!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Things Are Not Always What They Seem

Does my blog make you think my life is a bed of roses?  It is not.
Does it seem that my life is problem-free?  It is not.
Does it seem as if my family is one big happy family?  Unfortunately, it is not.

We have our problems.  Some of them even of our own creation.  Of  course, we contend with the difficulties that life throws at everyone ~ finances, sickness, and the unanticipated complications that crop up now and then.
And, of course, with a big family, and the many different personalities in this family, well, there's a lot of squabbling that goes on.  And sometimes the internal strife is intense, and it's always sad when there is a break in family ties.

You would think from reading my blog that we are a 'picture perfect' family.  I assure you, we are not.  We have our share of troubles just as other families do.  But in my blogging I choose to highlight only the good and only the positive.  I'm not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, and I'm not trying to make us out to be something we are not.  My blog is sort of my scrapbook, and my journal, and I choose to  put only the best and the brightest moments in it.  And that is what I hope to remember all my life, despite the reality of the fact that things are not always what they seem.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Be Careful What You Wish For...and... The Best Laid Plans...and...Making God Laugh"

I've always loved this saying:
"Be careful what you wish for ~ you just may get it."

Well, if you read my post 'Quiet Please' you know I was hoping to spend a very quiet Christmas Eve.  Well, it wasn't really all that quiet but it wasn't spent in the usual manner of the hustle and bustle either, so I guess I got my wish.  Poor Eóghan was saddled with a full-blown cold, eyes watering, nose running, a rasping, wheezing cough that just would not quit!  That poor baby was so exhausted, and poor thing, he could hardly swallow so he wasn't taking in much formula.
I spent most of Christmas Eve with him propped up on my lap to make it easier for him to breathe.  As hard as it was to see the little guy suffering, I have to confess, I loved holding that baby hour after hour, trying this and that to soothe him, and feeling a great sense of relief when something worked to ease his discomfort.  And I loved that in that time I was able to contemplate my Blessings and thank God for them all.  But tending a sick baby certainly was the last thing I had in mind when I planned on spending Christmas Eve different from usual.  

And later in the day Katie asked that we keep Jayden out of the house for awhile so that she could finish wrapping his gifts, so after the evening Mass we took him to dinner, we had the restaurant to ourselves (I don't think many people go out on Christmas Eve), so, I guess I got my 'quiet Christmas Eve' wish!

(Here's the Nativity scene that was set up in front of the altar.)

Another saying I love is:

"If you want to make God laugh ~ tell Him your plans."

Well, I had lots of plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that didn't pan out at all!

Here are the grandboys clothes all laid out with plans of using the 'dress-up' clothes for Christmas Eve Mass, and then taking photos of the boys in their Christmas pajamas, and a little Santa Suit to dress Eóghan in Christmas morning...

...but poor little Eóghan was feeling so miserable on Christmas Eve so he never did get into his dress-up clothes, and he ended up vomiting all over his Christmas pajamas, and I didn't have the heart to dress him up as Santa for a photo op on Christmas morning.

A few snaps from Christmas morning:

(A very happy boy just spotted all the gifts under the tree!)

(And here's the sick boy, not enjoying Christmas morning very much at all.)

(Jayden opens a few of Eóghan's gifts and tries to cheer him up.)

(Well, that got a little smile out of him anyway.)

(Everyone was very good to Jayden and he was pleased with all his gifts!)

(And Jayden was just as excited to play 'Santa' and hand out the gifts he chose for everyone from the Christmas sale at his school.)

(Kate ~ the comic relief.)

And some family came over for lunch in spite of EVERYONE not feeling up to par.   My sister Marybeth, my Aunt Florence (I think they were the only ones feeling well that day), my sister Diane, her husband Steve, and our nephew Will made it over here.  And Brian stopped in for awhile (but Flora wasn't feeling well enough to venture out so Brian came solo), and our son Andrew and his girlfriend Lisa were able to make it too.  It was far from the usual crowd, but it was one of the nicest Christmases I've ever had.  Just a very easy, comfortable day.

Both Mia and Sophie were sick over Christmas weekend too, so we didn't get a visit from them at all!

But we're planning on making up for it this coming weekend!  Ham for dinner with pineapple stuffing, and sweet potatoes, and a pasta dish with mixed vegetables for the vegans, gifts piled under the tree for the girls, and family gathered together once again. (I know, I know, I can hear God laughing now at my 'picture perfect' setting!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quiet Please

I want to experience a very quiet Christmas Eve this year.
Don't get me wrong, I love all the 'hoopla' of the Christmas Season, most especially the excited anticipation of the grandkids ~ it's all good, and it's all so exhilarating and stirring.

But I want a day spent that stirs me in a different way. I want quiet.  I'm not talking about having a quiet house, I want more of a sort of 'spiritual quiet' to take the place of the usual hustle and bustle.
I remember my Mom telling me when my kids were little that all too soon the house would become way too quiet, and that I'd miss all the noise and commotion that goes along with a big family.  Well, with two grandboys living under our roof, and two grandgirls that visit often, there is still a lot of wonderful noise and lots of fun commotion that goes on, and I get what my Mom was talking about, and I think Ray and I will feel a big void when we are surrounded by all that "quiet". And I know well that being surrounded by family and all the mayhem that comes along with them is really such a Blessing.

The quiet I am looking for is not the absence of noise, or the absence of people, it's just the absence of the flurry and the busy that usually occupies my mind and my heart at Christmas that I would like to distance myself from for at least this one Christmas Eve.

We usually spend Christmas Eve doing 'last minute' things, preparing food (and running out to the store for a forgotten item needed for a recipe), wrapping stray gifts meant for the grandkids stockings here and there, cleaning for company, then going to evening Mass and either visiting relatives or having extended family over for a late supper.  This year I plan on spending the day before Christmas Eve doing all the 'last minute' things.  I hope to just be spending a quiet Christmas Eve at home, and have an early dinner before evening Mass, and then home to get the grandkids ready for bed.  And then a very quiet evening, and I hope to remember to spend many moments dwelling on all our Blessings and most especially the Blessing of Jesus. (Instead of my usual quick, "Thank You, Lord" amid the pandemonium, I hope to spend some really prayerful and meaningful "Thank You, Lord" moments).

Then the lovely 'Christmas mess' can start early next morning again, with Jayden unwrapping his gifts under the tree, and hunting through his stocking, and helping his new baby brother unwrap gifts, and then family and friends will be joining us for a very casual lunch of sandwiches and salads.  I'm really looking forward to it! (And I'm hoping little Eóghan is feeling better by then, he's got a bad cough, and he's not eating well.  But there's no fever so I'm breathing a sigh of relief.)

I often think of that Amy Grant song at this time of year (I Need A Silent Night), especially this verse:

I need  a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise 
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here 
To end this crazy day with a silent night

I hope you all will enjoy some quiet Christmas moments along with some not-so-quiet moments (too much quiet is not good either), and I hope you all have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.
Love and Prayers,

Monday, December 19, 2011


This past Sunday we went to a very special 'Family Mass' at our Church.  At this Mass there was a Blessing for expectant mothers and the fathers too.  Each couple came up to the altar (and in some cases whole families as some couples already had children), and Monsignor did the Blessing and prayed over them, and the congregation prayed also.  He also thanked each couple for choosing life even though he knew it was a hardship for many couples.  And each couple was then given a hand-made baby shawl.  It was really a beautiful ceremony and our oldest son Brian and Flora were able to participate (Baby Ray is due in a few weeks).

This Mass was special in another way too.  After the Gospel was read the sermon entailed the Christmas story with a live Nativity depicted.  The 'players' in this scene were parish family members:

After Monsignor was done with his sermon he stepped forward to introduce "Mary and Joseph", and he told us that "Baby Jesus" did not actually have the name 'Jesus' but that his name was 'Creed', and he asked Creed's Mom to tell us the story of how he came to be Creed.
She told us that when she was six months pregnant she and her husband were advised to terminate the pregnancy as tests showed their baby had only half of his brain developed.  The doctors said there was no hope of the baby developing normally or of having any kind of productive or meaningful life.  She said at that moment she decided to place herself and her baby in God's Hands. She said that she and her husband met with one of the priest at Church and he prayed with them. She and her husband decided to have faith that what they and modern medicine could not do for their child God Could Do.  And they decided to trust that He would do it.

Their baby boy was born three months later, happy, healthy, and perfectly normal.  They wanted to honor God in some small way, so they decided to name their baby boy Creed after The Apostle's Creed, which is a statement of our faith and belief, and it is a prayer we say every Sunday at Mass:

I believe in God, The Father Almighty
Creator of Heaven and of earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord and Savior,
He was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried,
He descended into hell,
on the third day He rose again from the dead,
He ascended into Heaven,
He is seated at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty,
from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead,
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the Giver of Life,
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,
I believe in the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.  Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Super Saturday (And Sunday)

Last weekend we had so much fun with the grandkids.

We took them to two shopping malls, one mall to see Santa (and ride the Merry-Go-Round & the little train, and to view the big Christmas decoration shop), and the other mall has a Build-A-Bear store and since we didn't do that on our trip to Manhattan as usual, we decided to take them to the local Bear store last Saturday:

(I can't watch them in this, they spin so fast it makes me dizzy!)

Mia picked Smurfette at Build-A-Bear

And she took making a wish on Smurfette's heart very seriously!

And she scrubbed her clean before we left the store!

Jayden has been asking for a puppy for Christmas (that's ALL I need right now!), so I'm hoping this one he picked from the store will suffice for awhile!  He even came home with a leash, a little dog bed, and a food bowl for "Ruff".

I was so happy to see that Jayden can still be caught up in the 'magic' of stuffed animal friends, I was afraid he was getting to that age where this was all 'too babyish' for him.  So this was a delightful surprise!

And this little angel slept the whole while!

Then we stopped for a bite to eat at California Pizza before heading home:

Eóghan The Happy Elf!

Sunday was just as much fun!
And I think I love Eóghan's morning bath as much as Eóghan does!

Mia was back in the city with her Mommy and her other grandmother (Grandmum) so we didn't see her but we did get to spend the day with Sophie which made Eóghan very happy!

Uh-oh ~ here comes trouble!

Eóghan looks like he's actually enjoying the game on TV:

And he definitely loves his big brother already!
Here he's trying to give Jayden a kiss good-night and Jayden is trying hard to avoid the slobbering!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Encouraging And Enticing ~ And Whoa!

Jayden was anxious to help his baby cousin crawl across our living room floor... he thought he'd give Sophie a little encouragement in the form of a toy:

It worked!  She found this toy to be quite enticing and she was off and running! (er, crawling):

She made it all the way to the sofa, and pulled herself up with a little help from a friend:

Jayden was a very happy and proud little boy, and he was happy to sit nice and play with Sophie...

...but he soon learned that "no good deed goes unpunished"!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

St. Lucia

This is the legend of  Saint Lucia:
St. Lucia was a young Italian girl martyred for her faith.   She lived in Sicily during the 4th century which was a time of paganism.  Lucia committed her life to Christ and ministered to persecuted Christians and the poor.  She brought food and hope in the darkness of night, using candles to light her way.  It is this mission that established Saint Lucia as a symbol of light and hope.
Her story was most likely carried to Scandinavian countries by missionaries.  In Sweden, legend has it that Saint Lucia appeared by candlelight bringing food to the hungry during a time of famine.  December 13th is the celebration of "Lucia Day" and it ushers in the Christmas season.  Early in the morning on Lucia Day, the oldest daughter, wearing a long white gown tied with a red sash and an evergreen wreath with lighted candles crowning her head, carries a tray of coffee and lussekatter (old-fashioned saffron buns) to her parent's room.  She is followed by her younger sisters or "maidens" dressed in white gowns with tinsel halos in their hair, and brothers, or "star boys" dressed in cone-shaped hats decorated with stars.  This custom is also observed in hospitals and throughout the community with a Lucia accompanied by maidens, star boys and tomtan (elves) singing Christmas songs as a reminder of the nearness of Christmas during the darkness of winter.
The story of Saint Lucia seems to reflect the real message of Christmas.  Jesus said, "I am the Light of the World, whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life." 

It's become a Christmas tradition for us to attend the Lucia Festival at Ray's cousin Wendy's church.  Her daughter Heather Marie has been doing Swedish Folk Dancing at Barnklubben Elsa Rix (the oldest Swedish American Children's Club) for years, and each year at this time they put on the St. Lucia pageant.  Last year Heather played the part of Lucia.  This year she participated with many of the other past Lucias and she opened the program by reading the Lucia Legend.
Mia seems very interested in taking the Swedish dance lessons, so we're hoping that soon she will be participating in this sweet tradition too (and we're hoping to talk Jayden into it too, so he can be one of the little 'star boys'):

Heather Marie teaching Mia "The Shoemaker" dance:

Heather's costume is the traditional dress that belonged to Ray's grandmother, and it was handed down to his mother, and now Heather uses it, and hopefully, one day Mia will use it too.  The original blouse was threadbare, so Ray's cousin Wendy and her sister Heidi made the pattern for a new one.  I think they did a wonderful job, paying attention to every detail such as the smocking on the sleeves.

Here are all the children that belong to the Swedish club dressed in their own traditional costumes:
I think it would be so cute to see both Mia and Jayden standing up there with them one day. (Although I'm not going to count on Jayden because this year he wanted to take Irish Step Dancing lessons at his school until all the boys made fun of him!  So I don't think he wants to go through that again.)

In addition to traditional folk dancing, songs, sandwiches, cakes, cookies, coffee and Swedish wares for sale, the club also had a few raffles.  We all chipped in to buy lots and lots of raffle tickets for the "Lucia Doll".  And guess who won?!