Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Numbers Game

My Dad is an insulin dependent diabetic. When I heard he was coming here and I would be responsible for feeding him diabetes-compatible foods, you can bet I hit the internet hard and heavy.

I found out that good numbers are between 80 and 120. This is optimum for his well-being and mental stability.

If his numbers are whacky, Dad gets a little whacky, too.

Each morning and evening, Dad hollers out his numbers.



64. Oops, too low. Had to give him some orange juice after that one.

143!!! (I blame the potatoes on that one. OR, it could have been the chocolate-covered cherries his wife purchased.)

It has become almost a game for me to see how good I can get his numbers. This morning was probably my best score yet with 84. :-)

On a side note: My dear friend, BA, has a new niece! Molly E.A. F. was so eager to meet everyone, she arrived at 31 weeks instead of 40 weeks. She weighed a whopping 3lbs, 10oz and was breathing without assistance within hours! Please pray for Molly and her Mama - they were all vacationing away from home so they're not even at their own hospital. It's so hard on everyone - pray Molly will continue to thrive and get to go home soon!

Praise - Molly's Grandma got to be at the hospital when she was born because of this vacation. Since they live in different states, this was a true blessing!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Stuff

This is us on Christmas Eve! My Dad and Pam went with us to a Christmas Eve service, then we went back to the M house for dessert. Yum! Thanks for the photo, Jess!

Christmas Day we woke, opened presents, had breakfast, then SLEPT. Best nap ever.

Today we went to Blue Springs to see the manatee. Pam was so excited to actually see them! It was an absolutely gorgeous day.

I won't apologize for having a 74 degree day of sunshine in December. People, we live through Florida summers! We've earned it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Last Night at the W's

It was Cheesy Grin Night!

Jess came over and kicked everyone's booty playing Rummy. Good thing she's so likeable or we wouldn't invite her back.

And miracles of miracles - all four dogs relaxed and lay down.

Good dogs.

Himself kept threatening to knock on the table to make them think someone was at the door. He liked watching them explode into action.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I will try to blog when I can, but there's a whole lot of busyness here!

Hope everyone is well, safe, and enjoying family! May Christ richly bless you with the awareness of His most precious Gift . . . The "reason for the season" isn't just Jesus, it's SALVATION!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Since I'm having trouble downloading anything new from my camera, I was clicking through other pictures on my computer. I thought I would throw out a bunch of random photos that don't really have anything to do with each other.

One night this year Glenna had an impromptu sleep over. This was fine with be because I know the use and value of ear plugs. In other words, I slept.

We were telling them about Himself and his siblings used to leg wrestle. Of course, they had to try it out.

Bekah appears to be the victor here. Part of her strategy was to get Glenna laughing, apparently!

Glenna and Natalie give it a go. Yes, it's blurry, but it is an action shot. We had to lock the dog away before they started . . . we only had Jack at the time and he certainly wasn't going to put up with any Jr. High shenanigans.

Ahh, breakfast in jammies. Syrupy goodness with cool orange juice. I cannot guarantee that this was actually at breakfast time, though.

Isn't this a great picture of Kelly? I just love it. She was telling her Dad about an event of the day. Either that or she was trying to convince him to go to Blockbuster for a movie.

Ty was visiting Paul one night with his friends. As they were preparing to leave, Paul's mom said, "Wait! Let me get a picture!" They all grabbed Paul and she pointed and shot in the dark. She was so thrilled when she got back in the house and saw what a great photo she had captured!

Ty, Zach, Snyder, and Paul.

Paul is the new bass player for Evangelin! He also plays music for our Trek group on Wednesdays, along with Brett (not shown).

Here was my view during Jessie's graduation in May:
Seriously, Tyler B. You had to sit right in front of me. Seriously?

I watched this young man grow, graduate, and marry. One of six boys, he served in the Marines and did a tour in Iraq. He and his wife have a beautiful little girl!
Since they weren't yet locked into a church when they returned to Florida, they asked our pastor to perform the baby dedication. It does my heart good to see our young people growing in the Lord and committed to serving Him!

This is our youth pastor, Josh, and his beautiful wife, Kimberly!

Their firstborn is due in March and we cannot wait to meet him. This is another young man I watched grow through high school, wrestle with God, and now is the only man God could have possibly brought to our church at this time to minister to our youth (my children especially!). I am so, so thankful for Josh and Kimberly and their love for our children!

And there you have it; random photos from the forgotten files.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Operation Grandpa and The Grandma

Talked to Dad last night. Horrible snow and ice in Arkansas has caused many semi trucks to jack knife. He was unable to go faster than 25 mph the entire day.

They only made it as far as Little Rock.

Then they had to go to a Walmart because he forgot his prescription meds.

They should be back on the road by now, though! Hopefully they'll get further south where it's less icy, so they shouldn't have trucks blocking the roads.

I had to tell my children not to listen when he was cussing about the people who don't know how to drive in snow and ice.

I wish HE didn't have to drive in snow and ice! When I told him it was 79 here yesterday, The Grandma didn't believe me!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Official!

My Dad and his wife are on the road! And yes, they are bringing the pony with them. We've heard she's now big enough to wear the saddle blanket they bought. This means she's grown since we've seen her last!

I have a lot of work to do before they get here. Step one was clearing away band equipment. Step two will be pony-proofing the house as much as possible.

Dad says they've had a storm and it's all snow and ice. I told him it's 79 here and a little humid, so the AC is on. Pam didn't believe him when he told her.

Hey! I don't feel badly! This is our reward for lasting through the 6 months of summer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Say it Isn't So

Himself has discovered You Tube.

He's listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

I kid you not.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hand Me Downs

I have received yet another hand-me-down from Himself - his Blackberry! (Now, before you start with your jokes about addictions and "crackberries" etc, know that I have not activated the internet for it. I didn't want to pay an EXTRA $30 per month for that.)

Come to think of it, if I weren't so frugal I would be addicted to many, many things! We've often teased our children about being Scots-Irish. The Irish part of them will want to head for the pub, but the Scots part won't want to pay for it. We figure they're safe!

Anyway, I have thus far received Himself's hand-me-down car, laptop, and now phone. Have I mentioned how much I love this company he works for? They're constantly giving him new things!

I've never been afraid of hand-me-downs. My friend Jane used to give me her clothing and I loved it. She was a career gal and always had such nice things. In fact, I remember once when we were flat broke (no, no; this was a while back. Not yesterday.) and my clothing was literally falling apart. I was so fretful about what to do when someone led me to Matthew 6 where it tells us not to worry about what we need (food, drink, clothing) because our heavenly Father knows we need those things. Look how He provides for the sparrow, and aren't we more important to Him than a sparrow?

I felt comforted and didn't say anything to anyone.

Two weeks later, Jane brought me six boxes of clothing.

I have never doubted that God will take care of me since, and He has never failed to do so - even through more dire circumstances.

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34

Monday, December 08, 2008

Christmas Carols

I love games like this! I guessed almost every one of them. How many can you get? (Note: this is NOT for those of you who were at the JV Christmas party last night. AHEM Rachel Glenna Acacia!)

Answers will be coming in a few days. If you want, put your answers in the comments section!

1. Not here in an animal's dish.

2. Smack the passageways.

3. Move and speak toward the elevated plains.

4. Yahweh sleep you happy dudes.

5. Hey! The number one angelic beings belted out.

6. It showed up on a cloudless 12 at night.

7. Shaking chimes.

8. Happiness to the planet.

9. 12/25 shrubbery song.

10. Get here if you're reliable.

11. Like a strainer + time when the sun is down.

12. Small city of Christ's birth song.

13. Quiet non-day.

14. The premier not the 12th letter of the alphabet.

15. XII 24 hours of 12/25.

16. Not down on the roof of the home.

17. Us trio that's royalty from China.

18. Us dream not us a happy Dec. 25.

19. Spill the 411 on the baby.

20. Small percussionist lad.

21. Tim Allen's movie character will appear in a 'hood.

22. Song about a hoofed animal with a crimson schnozola.

23. Chilled the crystallized H2O male.

24. Don't stop the winter precipitation.

25. Traversing in a fourth season amazing country.

Have fun!

Friday, December 05, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part X

Of all the siblings, the two youngest sisters have the hardest stories to write. I don't think it possible for a blog to convey the depth of experiences, both tragic and triumphant, that belong to Kathleen and Rita.

I conveyed my struggle to Himself about writing their stories. He inspired me by saying, "It's almost the same story, hon. You could write them both together." I've thought it over and couldn't believe how right he was.

As I posted in January, we just lost Rita this year. This wound is raw and my eyes smart with tears at the typing of that sentence. That said, I know the worst thing we could do is not talk about her anymore. I'm so afraid of dishonoring her memory! Still, I want everyone to know how amazing she was.

[Deep breath]

Kathleen was 2 and Rita maybe 8 months old when Chet died due to the complications of alcoholism. Growing up without a father in the house had its effect. Growing up with alcoholism in the family would have an even stronger effect, even though "the alcoholic" wasn't exactly present.

Alcoholism is weird that way.

Kathleen certainly had the run of the house and did as she pleased until Aunt Sarah showed up. Rita had the privileged title of Baby of the Family. Both were adorable!

Rita and Kathleen with Grandpa CT. To be blonde and blue-eyed in California in the 40's!

The girls attended the same schools, shared rooms and clothing. As they grew into their teens, they also unfortunately shared poor judgment of character. To be honest, though, both were deceived.

What is it about those of us who grew up in alcoholic homes? How is it we feel so wise, and yet are so unwise? While Kathleen and Rita didn't grow up with an alcoholic father in their home, they still had the hereditary effect of alcoholism to deal with. Remember, Uncle Matt and Uncle Bill both used the garage room as a place to crash and get sober. In the 40's and 50's, there wasn't the education on the effects of alcohol that we have today.

The ugly truth is this: Children of alcoholics tend to seek out and marry alcoholics.

Kathleen married Bill W. a year out of high school at age 18. Rita married David R. shortly after at age 19, though I don't know 100% whether David was an alcoholic or not. Both Kathleen and Rita would eventually have five children.

In this photo, David and Rita are in blue on the left. Kathleen and Bill are on the right. Himself is partially hidden by his brother, Dan, with his dad's arm on his shoulder.

Rita has dressed her girls in pink and is holding her son, Chris. Shannon, her youngest, wasn't born yet. All W children are present in their hip and happening 70's clothing!

Kathleen and Bill had one of those marriages that was both rocky and wonderful. Bill loved Kathleen deeply and she him. They both loved their children tremendously. Alcohol destroyed this family, however, and left scars for the children to battle continually. Bill and Kathleen divorced in the 1970s. Bill would eventually get the help he needed and rebuild his relationship with his children - today he is our beloved "Poppa" and I love him madly!

Kathleen would remarry to yet another alcoholic in 1980. The children would scatter to various relatives until they were on their own. Yet love is stronger than alcohol in this family. The children are close to their parents and each other to this day.

Sadly, Kathleen's husband died of cancer in 1992, leaving her widowed. She is currently living in the Palm Springs area where she is close to most of her children and grandchildren (except us east coasters). Kathleen struggled with alcoholism until the 1990's. She's now triumphantly sober and helping so many who are hurting.

Rita struggled with alcoholism herself. In 1970, she firmly decided to get help and became sober. I believe she was the first in her family to do so! She remained sober until the day of her death. She seemed so wise and so strong to me. I don't recall her nagging her other alcoholic relatives about their choices, but I do recall her cheerfully saying things like, "I'll save a seat for you at the AA meeting!" Her experiences also led her to say things to Himself such as, "You poor Ws, you don't stand a chance." A prophetic statement to be sure.

Rita's marriage ended in an unfortunate divorce. In 1982 she met and married Bill S. - they loved each other completely. Rita's children are beautiful, every one of them! At my wedding I passed by this table of beautiful people and they all stopped their conversations and smiled at me. I was shocked, because I wasn't used to beautiful people doing that! (A month later it dawned on me that I was the bride, so of course they would stop and smile!) That table was full of Rita's children.

An aside to Himself: ya know, ya could'a introduced me to your family that day! How embarrassing!

As with Kathleen's children, Rita's children have also had to battle with the effects of alcoholic parents. They are also extremely close and supportive of each other. Rita's husband, Bill, died in 2006. Rita was a quiet, firm picture of strength and endurance.

At Christmas last year, Rita posed with all of her equally beautiful grandchildren:

Oh come on . . . can we just say it? GORGEOUS. The stunning teens in the back were so young when we left California. It blew me away to see this photograph!

No one knew then how wonderful it would be to have all of her grandchildren (except baby Matteo, not yet born) together at Christmas.

Three weeks later, Rita was gone.

Friends, if you're thinking of blowing off any family members this Christmas, don't. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. No one.

Rita was engaged to Bob C. at the time of her death.

The recap on the sisters:
Both married shortly out of high school.
Both had five children.
Both had tumultuous first marriages, ending in divorce.
Both struggled with alcoholism.
Both overcame and attained sobriety.
Both remarried and then were widowed.
Both have at least 10 grandchildren!
Both are amazing women whom I'm privileged to know and have known.

While this does wrap up the children of Chet and Rosie, I still have a few more tidbits to tell on them. I would also definitely like to take the family tree through Himself's own familiar branch, starting with Bill and Kathleen. You can bet I have tons of pictures . . . but the story itself is truly amazing!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Believing God

The ability to believe God develops most often through experience.
Faithful yesterday, He will not be unfaithful today.
--Beth Moore

I am discovering how wonderfully believable God is.

Growing up, I lived with a bunch of jokers who loved to tease, often unmercifully! (Sure, it's all fun and games until someone pokes their eye out . . . ) While I don't feel scarred from this experience, it has certainly left me with a wariness. I don't often believe the first thing people tell me, especially if there's any kind of gleam in their eye. :-D

Have you ever had a thought nagging in the back of your mind, and then suddenly it shines forth with perfect clarity? The truth has been there all along but the mind suppressed it. It doesn't make it less true when it was suppressed, but the unleashing makes it immediately real.

Our youth pastor, Josh H., spoke of Adam and Eve listening to the serpent. He had this to say in this week's devotional:

Stop for a minute and take your garden pulse. Are you listening to the crafty voice of relativism and doubting that God is the final authority on truth? Are you living as though God is merely full of good opinions but not absolute truth? Are you trusting in your own ability to reason and chose what you think is right?

For so long I have gone on my own strength and knowledge. While we're not to be mindless weaklings, so much of my energy has been wasted trying to figure things out on my own when the truth is present all along. When I'm able to release my will to His truth, the peace flooding within is incomparable.

It has made all the difference.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Glenna is dictating her essay to me. I'm confused at the next sentence:

When home, knights ate from a feed bowl.

What does that mean?

No, Mom! It's "When home, knights aide the feeble"!


That's different, then.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Creatures of Habit

I have always known that children crave consistency. I'm not talking about a legalistic routine where the clock is the tyrannical task master, but a logical progression of events throughout their days.

Care for pets.
Eat breakfast.
Brush teeth and dress.
Start school.
Peel Mama a grape.

Many of my friends have heard this story before, but I remember when Tyler was 3 and Himself and I were both on the music team at our church in California. This placed us both on stage when the children trickled in from Sunday school, but Tyler would go to our "spot," see my purse, and sit down.

One Sunday I decided to "get out of a rut" and sit somewhere else. I stood singing on the stage, helpless, as my poor son wandered up and down the aisle, looking for my purse. Some friends of ours finally took pity on him and let him sit with them until I came off the stage! I vowed to never change my seat again. Consistency!

Fast forward to Florida. This time a friend of mine decided she was in a rut and would change her seating. Unfortunately, she chose our row. I had to scramble to find a new spot that would hold all five of us.

Enter my teenage son, who had driven himself to church. He wandered up and down the aisle and couldn't find his sisters or my purse! My friend decided she would behave and leave our row alone the next time she was in a rut. Consistency!

Recently, I have been making lunches for Tyler. Each day I give him a sandwich, some Cheezits, carrots and dip, and four cookies. Last week, there were only three cookies left in the package, so I decided to just give him three instead of opening another package.

He accused Ben of taking one of his cookies.

Look, every day my mom gives me four cookies. Now there are only three. You took it.

Dude, I did not take your cookie!


Last week and this week, my focus has been on consistency in all things, including Bible reading, prayer, laundry, correspondence, school, groceries, and housekeeping. I don't want to be a slave to these things (except Bible reading and prayer. Lord, chain me to You!) but I do want to be able to function without panic if someone comes over, or to be able to easily turn in school reports when due.

Consistency is working very well, but it definitely takes effort. I am so close to becoming a housewife of old who had a baking day, laundry day, shopping day, mopping day, etc. I don't want to fall apart if I miss something, but I certainly tire of giving in to the "tyranny of the urgent."

Have any of you found things that make consistency a habit and lifestyle?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday, AGAIN?

I have nothing to blog about.

Nothing that won't embarrass my family and bite me in the hiney later, that is.

I owe library fines. AGAIN.

I'm missing a library book. AGAIN.

I have resolved so many times NOT to use the library anymore. I can't afford it! It would be cheaper to simply buy the books I need. Which, coincidentally, is what I'm doing for most of Glenna's school next year. I love Beautiful Feet Books!

We had a wonderful holiday weekend and got so many things done! The girls have decorated the house (minus the tree) for Christmas. Thanks to my friend BA, I have re-evaluated my grumpiness over this season and have decided to embrace it as a true celebration. I can do this!

However, I will not, WILL NOT, give into materialism, commercialism, and greed. Where's that "Merry Tossmas" video?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Paper, or Stone?

Today, I was going through the Lonely Sock Basket (because that's what one does on a holiday weekend, right?) when I came across a yellow slip of paper. Yellow, not yellowed.

Written three times in a pattern to form a skull and crossbones, though I don't think that was intentional, were the words, "I hate my room."

I am thankful that my first thought was not "Oh yeah? Be thankful you have a room at all!"

You know how we parents can be.

My first thought was instant compassion for my child.

I know how it feels to be controlled by clutter. I know how it feels to be unable to throw things away "just in case." I know how it feels to scan a room and not see one clear surface.

We have been working together, this child and I, to gain tools for controlling clutter. I don't know when this note was written, but I have slowly noticed a change, an ability to let go.

I am so proud of ___________.

Hopefully, this will be learned now and not carried on into adulthood as it did with me. We struggle together, but we also mark each other's triumphs.

This week we were given a piano by some friends (thanks, G's!). So far, we've put nothing on its surface but three pretty candles.

I long for a Shaker-style home. This would be a home with few belongings since everything has a purpose. However, the Shakers believed that if it's worth making, it's worth making beautifully.

I am so ready to let go of so many things! I don't even want a garage sale. I just want it OUT.

Sometimes, I want to strangle the person who invented paper. Paper is my nemesis! It seems I gain at least a ream each day.

Then again, how awful would it be to have a bunch of stone tablets laying around?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not Ranting

This is the time of year when I usually go on a rant about the commercialism and demotion of this holiday.

I'm not talking Turkey.

Thanksgiving is a truly American Holiday and I love it!

I'm of course talking about Christmas.

I've decided that the only way to stay calm and cheerful is to:

1. Stay out of the shopping malls.

2. Don't read the sales flyers.

3. Hold on to thankfulness from Thanksgiving. Thankfulness = Joy.

Please, can we just skip all the gift giving involving money? It has gone from cheerful to obsessive to obligatory.

What matters most?

Can we get back to celebrating the birth of Christ without commercialism?

I guess I went on a rant after all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, an Aside

Way back in this post, I had hinted about the little girl standing in the front row, far left, in pigtails. First, I need to explain her relationship to the family. You'll recall that the squirming toddler standing next to her is none other than Uncle Johnny. Chet is standing directly behind her, and Rosie is next to him. Aunt Sarah is on the far right.

To explain our relationship to the pigtailed girl, we have to go back to Grandpa U. He's the blacksmith (standing, with arms crossed) who came from Ireland. He was also a boxer who fought under the name Gallagher.

Back in Ireland, Grandpa U had a sister named Mary. This sister would come to America, meet a man, marry, and have a daughter named Marie. Mary is Rosie's aunt, and Marie is Rosie's first cousin.

Are you still with me?

Marie eventually married and gave birth to the little pigtailed girl in the photo. Her name is Marilyn. She also has a sister named Colleen.

Mary, Marie, and Marilyn. Mmmmm. :-)

I met Marilyn many years ago. The occasion was a sad one; Rosie's funeral. I was pregnant with either Kelly or Glenna (I suspect Kelly). She and her husband were so nice. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Marie moved to Hollywood, hoping to get her cute daughters into movies. They lived above the Thrifty Drug Store at Hollywood and Vine in the 1930's.

Marilyn grew up and married a man named Norman. They had five children together; four boys and one girl. Norman was a high school teacher.

Of their five children, the oldest son would become an American icon. Their only daughter would have bit parts as a baby and toddler. Another son would become a cinematographer.

You see, Marilyn married the high school teacher, Norman.

Norman Mathers.

Here is their oldest son:

Here is a picture of the Mathers family and various cousins. Can you spot Uncle Terry in the front row, blue shirt? They were all gathered to meet Betty, front row and red sweater, visiting from Ireland. Seated with a little girl standing before her is Marilyn. Standing behind Uncle Terry is Jerry. His siblings are in this photo as well.

As Paul Harvey would say, "And now you know the rest of the story."

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Taylor Day

My niece turned 10 this week! Saturday was her birthday party.

We are so thankful to God that she's still here. We're even more thankful to God that her prognosis is so great and she'll probably be here for a long, long time!

We love you, Taylor! Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rocky Raccoon

We have a neighborhood pest.

Each morning, we find our garbage cans tipped over and the contents everywhere. Yes, I know we could get cans with locking lids. Yes, I know we could somehow bungee the cans to the wall like our neighbor, the Harley-Democrat, does.

Would that be fair to the raccoon?

Himself: I saw him the other day and I started to feel sorry for him.

Me, thinking the scraps have been fewer since using Dinner A'Fare: Why? Is he terribly gaunt?

Himself: No. In fact, he's so fat he was barely making it across the street.

I bought two cooked chickens from Costco yesterday so I could have chicken for my lunches (and when there's a meal for dinner with ingredients I can't have). I looked at the bones with plenty of meat on them and knew our cans would be knocked over by morning.

I'm contemplating; should we just put it out there on a plate and save him the trouble? Or, as Himself has stated, is this the only exercise he gets?

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Complicated

My Dad and his wife are coming for Christmas from Arkansas.

We're so excited and hope everything works out for this visit! There's only one problem.

This problem.

My Dad was born and raised in New Mexico. The thing about New Mexico is, no one goes anywhere without their dogs. In fact, if you don't have a dog in your truck, it's a little strange.

This, of course, creates quite a sleeping problem.

Normally, Himself and I would just give them our bed and sleep elsewhere. In New Mexico, not only does the dog drive around with you everywhere but it sleeps with you as well.

Did you click on the link? Did you see what would be coming in and sleeping in our bed? (Minus the Lab. Cody has gone on to doggy heaven.)

Dinner conversation last night.

Me: Ok, since you're all here, we have to talk about sleeping arrangements for when Grandpa and Grandma Pam are here.

Himself: That's what I'm talkin' about. We've got to figure something out.

Glenna: Are you guys really going to sleep on my bunk beds and make me sleep on the twin guest bed?

Kelly and Tyler: Wait, you guys will be sleeping upstairs? That's too weird. We've got to figure something out.

Me: That's what I'm trying to tell you. In order to avoid having their dogs on our bed and us sleeping upstairs in the children's domain, here's my thought. We temporarily move Daddy's desk into our bedroom. We take back the other twin platform bed from Tyler and put it together with the guest twin to make a king-sized bed, and then we'll move the futon up to Tyler's room for him to sleep on!

Himself: That's so crazy, it just might work!

Tyler: Futon? That bony thing? Dogs will be on my bed instead? Dogs? I am so not coming home the whole week they're here.

Kelly: I love this plan! I love it because it has nothing to do with me whatsoever!

How many of you have had to rip your home apart to make way for company? Of course, since anything can happen between now and the time they head to Florida, we're waiting until they actually leave their home before we move anything.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday Means We're Almost There

I love Thursday. I can take an extra 30 minutes in the morning and veg. In these hectic days, stillness has become more precious.

I wanted to upload these horrible photos of my last visit to Dinner A'Fare. I brought the girls with me and warned them severely about being careful, then I promptly knocked over an entire bucket of something white and crumbly (I didn't make that dish, so I don't know what it was) and it spewed, spewed I tell you, all over the floor.

JoAnne was great and cleaned it all up. In fact, she's amazing. As soon as I finish at a station and step over to wrap it, I turn around and it's as if I were never at that station. Super clean! I go again tomorrow!

Anyway, my computer is being whiney and won't let me upload photos. "Caution: Disk space low." Blah Blah dangerously low blah blah . . . Whatever. I know, I know, I need an external hard drive for all the photos. I know!

Amusing moments with Glenna:

Me: Ok, let's go over the math here. If you have 6Q plus Q plus 3Q, what does that give you?

Glenna: 9Q.

Me: Are you sure? What about that leftover Q?

Glenna: Oh! Oh yeah! 10Q.

Me: You're welcome!

Queen of Pun. I'm here all week, folks!

Glenna hates rice. When she was a baby and I tried to feed her rice, she would hold it in her mouth until it desintigrated into liquid. Then, she would let the liquid dribble out of her mouth. Tyler never understood this when it came to his sister and trying new foods.

"She doesn't get it, Mom. She fusses and fusses, where if she would just swallow, it would go away!" (In our home you have to try new foods, but you don't have to eat it if you don't like it. Glenna could never get to the try it part without major drama.)

I remember once at my Uncle L's house in New Mexico, he had cooked us some delicious enchiladas. Unfortunately, the main ingredient was raw onion, a texture I could never get used to. Because I love my Uncle dearly and because the rest of the enchilada was so delicious, I tried making the onions "go away" by simply swallowing them.

In New Mexico, nothing is ever mild.

Eventually, I felt like my insides were going to burn right out of my chest. I knew I couldn't swallow any more without chewing them first, so I tried to discreetly push the onions aside on my second enchilada. Uncle soon noticed and said, "Drat! I forgot about the onions!" Evidently, my distaste for raw onion is as famous as Glenna's distaste for rice!

Another time, my beloved Grandpa VW made a pecan pie that he was quite proud of. He offered me a piece and because my grandpa walked on water, I didn't even feel like refusing, even though I hated pecans.

I tried.

I really, really tried.

I tried with three glasses of water.

Eventually, Grandpa rescued me from the pie because he loved me like that and knew I was only eating it because I loved him.

The holidays are approaching. Are there dishes you can't wait to dig into? Are there dishes you'll have to swallow to make go away, like onions, rice, and pecans? What about that one relative that brings the same thing that no one really likes, but you eat it anyway to save feelings?

We're all looking forward to Thanksgiving, the Day of Gluttony! Himself is especially hoping there will be football on since we don't get to watch it here. (Hint, hint, M family! LOL)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If You Write It, They Will Come

Last night during dinner, the phone rang.

Hello, this is Uncle Terry.

[Gulp] I'm not in trouble, am I?

Oh, come on. You guys wouldn't think you were in trouble if the monsignor called you?

He was actually delighted with the Irish-Catholic Tale. He'll be in Florida for a conference and is going to do an overnighter with us!

Yes, you've read that correctly . . . We made it to his calendar!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Today is Tuesday, you know what that means?
We're gonna have a special guest!
So, get out the broom, sweep the place clean,
And dust off the mat so the WELCOME can be seen!
Roll out the carpet! Strike up the band!
And give out with a hip-hooray . . . HIP-HOORAY!!!
Wiggle your ears, like good Mousekateers,
We're gonna have a special guest today!
'Cause Tuesday is Guest Star Day!

I sing this every Tuesday, because I remember it from the Mickey Mouse Club. Glenna sings it with me! She even does the "wah-wah" trombone part. :-)

Today, I want you to check out a guest star. Mark Driscoll is a pastor at Mars Hill (not the one associated with Rob Bell) and he did an EXCELLENT sermon on women and femininity. The audio sermon is 90 minutes long, so turn up your speakers or put your lap top in your room and clean out your closet, drawers, under your bed, etc while you listen. This is highly recommended for women ages 16 and up (or, Moms can listen first and decide for themselves).

This sermon was recommended by Jess at Making Home, one of the blogs I love. Thanks, Jess!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to Monday

I need to ponder a bit more before telling the stories of the two younger sisters. So much to tell, and so much that probably shouldn't be told! Discernment, discernment.

Anyone have, oh, five tickets to California they're not using? Would love to hang out with family, say at Easter? ;-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part IX

As we continue through the list of Chet and Rosie's children, we now come to the first daughter, Mary Ann. Aunt Mary Ann has been feeding me all of this great information on her siblings, parents, and grandparents. Since the historian is rarely noted nor the photographer rarely photographed, now is my chance to let Aunt Mary Ann shine in the spotlight!

I was so young (read, self-centered) when I first began dating and then married Himself, that I cannot recall the first time I met Aunt Mary Ann. Perhaps it was at our wedding? Regardless, I remember thinking she seemed so worldly (in a good way) and sophisticated. One of her nieces gave her a gift of "Yuppie Chow" one Christmas and she not only threw her head back and laughed, but she promptly opened it and started snacking, smiling all the while.

If there's one thing I've noticed about these three sisters, it's that they go through life exactly like this - smiling all the while.

Still, I had envisioned Aunt Mary Ann to be rather serious, though definitely a yuppie! She loved any new gadget or item geared toward the yuppie crowd. Himself would go on and on about her CD collection and stereo equipment, loaded with James Taylor, Neil Diamond, and much more. At the time of our first meeting she was a biology teacher, so she already had that "teacher aura" about her that commanded respect.

That is, until I learned about this side of her:

Like her sisters, Aunt Mary Ann loves to laugh. In fact, Himself loves to make her laugh!

Kathleen, my Mother-in-love, with Aunt Mary Ann.

As we recall, Mary Agnes moved in with her daughter, Helen, to live out her days. While Helen and her husband, Joe, never had children of their own, she certainly took special interest in her brother's children, especially after his death in 1944.

Mary Ann would spend a week with Helen at a time. Instead of trips to the beach or parks, there were many trips to churches and charities. Instead of books about little girls on the prairie or cute kittens, Helen gave her books of Catholic saints and martyrs. These soon became Mary Ann's heroes, and the effect Helen desired for her young niece took place.

Following in the footsteps of her Aunt Nora, Mary Ann became a nun. I believe the time line of events is that she was a nun before Uncle Terry was ordained as a priest.

With celibate vows, it must have been easy to dote on her nieces and nephews, knowing she would not have children of her own. In this photo from Rosie's back yard, they're all gathered around her like chicks to the hen! Some of them are even looking at her with expressions of, "How are we supposed to act, here?"
At this gathering of cousins, the toddler boy sitting in white, very front, is none other than Himself. His sister is behind him with the large white collar and curly hair, and his brother is shoving ice cream into his mouth while looking up at the stellar Aunt Nun.

Often we step forward in faith and do the things we believe God is calling us to do. While God certainly uses events in our lives to mold us and shape us, sometimes what He's calling us to do is completely different than we originally thought.

In 1967, Mary Ann headed to Europe, specifically Rome. In her own words:

I was assigned to our international "generalate" in 1967 to create a communications office and send out bulletins to the sisters in the the 12 different countries where we had communities. They were in English, French, and Portuguese (for Portugal, Brazil, and Angola).

Between 1967 and 1969, there were two month-long meetings of delegates from all our provinces to study and revise our rules and customs with a view to bringing them up to date. It was during those meetings that we decided to stop wearing the medieval habits we'd worn up until then, among lots of other things. I attended the meetings, and with the help of my staff, put out bulletins about the proceedings.

It was a very exciting time because of all the change. There were nuns from all over the world living in the house where I was for those two years, and the official language was French (the language of our French founder) so we had mass and all religious services in French, and we spoke French at the table. When I went out, it was Italian. I only got to speak English if I was with an American or English person.

There were other Americans in Europe at the same time, of course. One of them was given Mary Ann's name by a mutual friend.

Bob (a Jesuit priest at the time) was studying theology at the Gregorian Institute in Rome for a doctorate. He had been on the faculty at Loyola here in Westchester before going there in '67, and a mutual friend of ours, a biology professor at Loyola who happened to be a nun in my order, told him to look me up if he wanted some American company. He did. We became very good friends.

One of the few nuns with a driver's license, Mary Ann would take an available car and with another nun from Bogota and Bob, would sight-see points of interest around Rome on Sundays. States Mary Ann about Bob, "He was the nicest man I had ever met."

Normally, I'd be smart enough not to get too chummy with a priest or any man because we were both dedicated to living lives of celibacy, but I let my guard down with Bob because he was 21 years older than I, and I figured that made him "harmless" as a friend. I was right about that up to a point. He always behaved completely appropriately, never forgot our situations as celibates with vows of chastity, but the fact is, we became best friends.

When Mary Ann contracted a virus and was hospitalized in Rome, it was Bob who would visit her each day. He would bring her a ukulele and try to teach her to play in order to pass the time.

Eventually, Mary Ann was sent back to Los Angeles. In 1969 she became the principal at the very school she graduated from eleven years earlier. Bob returned to Los Angeles about 4 months later and their freindship continued. While visiting, it was discovered that a chaplain was needed for the community so Bob took the position.

She made up her mind in 1970 to leave the convent, but held off her decision until the end of the school year in 1971, so as not to leave the school without a principal. Bob also decided to leave the Jesuits, but it took a little longer for him to get his release papers.

Aunt Mary Ann claims there were other reasons, other than their relationship, for them to leave the convent and Jesuits. That's what she says, but this romantic heart has always thought this a beautiul love story! Because of my limited knowledge of all things Catholic, Himself had to explain it to me this way, "They divorced the church and married each other." Awwww! Sigh.

Bob lined up a one-year teaching job in Germany. Mary Ann flew out to meet him there. On the flight over, she struck up a conversation with her fellow passengers. When asked why she was going to Germany, Mary Ann figured she would never see those people again and impishly replied, "I'm a mail-order bride."

Bob and Mary Ann were married in Basel Switzerland on Oct. 3, 1972. Traveling to Munich, Berlin, Holland, Belgium, Paris, the French countryside, etc. on school breaks in an old VW, it was a year-long honeymoon!

Bob on the Rhine in Germany. Aunt Mary Ann pointed out his velour shirt. Love the 70's! Mary Ann also writes:

In 1973, we returned to Los Angeles. Bob went back to teaching theology at Loyola. They changed the name on his office door from Fr. Braus to Dr. Braus, and everyone adjusted. We lived in an apartment the first year back here and saved every penny so we could buy a house. I was teaching biology at a boys' school in East L.A. We bought the house we're in now in June '74. Bob stayed at Loyola (now Loyola Marymount) until he retired in 1987. I got a good job teaching biology at an independent K-12 school in Palos Verdes and stayed at it until I retired in 2005.

That may have been their business careers, but the roles they had in the lives of their nieces and nephews went far beyond academia. Their home in West Los Angeles became a haven for the troubled and discouraged, with "visits" lasting anywhere from a few days, to weeks, or a year to five years.

Bob with Rita's youngest, Shannon (in pigtails), and a childhood friend. Aunt Mary Ann was present at the birth of Shannon's baby boy earlier this year. Shannon also has three girls and another boy!

Bob teaching my SIL, Julie, how to play a guitar.

Bob and my nephew, Brian, building a bird house.

Whenever any of us have to fly out of Los Angeles, we stay with Bob and Mary Ann. How I would love to have to fly out of Los Angeles! We miss them terribly.

Christmas, 1979, at Kathleen's house in Hawthorne.

On a Greek cruise in 1984. This was around the time that I met them.

A beautiful portrait in 1986.

Dancing the night away in 1987.

Bob's 89th birthday in 2008 - and still looking great!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part VIII

Oh no, not yet. It's too soon!

Young Kathleen felt the now familiar pangs of labor and looked again at the calendar. This, her third child, was not due for another two weeks! There was too much for her to do before the baby arrived. She tried to lie down to see if these were false contractions. With relief, she noticed the contractions had stopped. As soon as she got up to hang the laundry, however, they started again.

Not now! Tomorrow's a big day! I don't want to miss it!

Once again she tried to stop the contractions by lying down. Once again, they would stop as long as she was still, but they would continue the minute she resumed activity. She did everything she could to keep her mother-in-law from knowing. It had been a horrible year; her father-in-law, Louis, had been killed by a deranged neighbor who stabbed him in the neck. The family was still trying to recover from the shock.

Reluctantly, she informed her mother-in-law about the impending labor and requested a ride to the hospital.

What? Can't you make it stop? Bill will have to miss supper.

Supper wasn't all that would have to be missed. Tomorrow morning was to be the first mass of her older brother, Terry! He had just been ordained as a priest and now this child, eager to be born, would make her miss this momentous occasion with his own. With a sigh, she packed her hospital bag, tended to the other children, and waited for transportation.

The year was 1964, and Terry, the second of Chet and Rosie's children, had indeed become a priest. His grandmother, Mary Agnes, would have rejoiced had she lived to see it! Helen, Chet's sister, was able to rejoice for both of them.

Uncle Terry calls this his "porcelain portrait." He recalls, "I had terrible skin but they doctor the photo to make it flawless."

I love this picture for so many reasons. First, the looks on their faces as Uncle Terry gives a blessing to Aunt Mary Ann. What to do when your brother becomes your Father? A photographer with foresight captured a special moment for both of them! Second, just peeping behind Uncle Terry's robe is my BIL, Bob. Yes, it was Himself who kept his mother from attending that day, something Uncle Terry has never let him forget!

Himself recalls this about his uncle: He's the first person I ever saw crack an egg with one hand. He also whipped off his jacket and put out a carburator fire once when we were headed to the beach. I thought that was so cool.

Along with the rigors and rituals leading up to ordination, God had some special training in store for Uncle Terry. While the details aren't important, the trials were many and led him into a lifetime of compassion for hurting people.

Uncle Terry served in West Los Angeles. My first experience at a Catholic Mass was for his Jubilee, which celebrated his 25th year as a priest. Ironically, we almost had to miss it; three weeks earlier I had given birth to his grand-nephew! Himself's son was following in his father's footsteps, marking the milestones of this dear man in a special way.

Working from the Los Angeles diocese, Uncle Terry ministers specifically to women in prisons and spends each Thanksgiving with them. He's also a nationally-known speaker at conferences and gatherings for alcoholics and addicts. His calendar is usually quite full, but obviously not too full for his family, which is most important to him. Since I joined the family in 1986, Uncle Terry has been at every significant occasion and also some not-so significant ones! The key is to get on his calendar, and he'll be there.

Speaking of his calendar, he once lost is all-important day-planner. Desperate for its vital information, he had left a message on his answering machine stating where it could be mailed if the planner was found. This same weekend, a woman was trying to reach him for counsel, but he was out of town. She would call repeatedly and listen to this same message about his lost planner, and each time she called she was a little more intoxicated. Finally, in frustration, she slurred, "You know what? **** you, **** your planner, and **** this machine!" :-D A day in the life of a West Los Angeles priest. He was also an avid runner until his knees couldn't take the beatings any longer.

Pictured: Aunt Helen, age 90, with Uncle Terry at my MIL's house. One of the siblings would always go get Aunt Helen so she didn't miss any family events. I have a picture of her holding a squirming Kelly on her lap, probably from this same event.

As I stated in yesterday's post, these siblings have remained close. When Uncle Terry became a monsignor, we all attended the mass and celebration. A typical glimpse of his humor came when he invited all of his friends to still call him Terry, while, "As for my brother and sisters, you may call me. . . Monsignor."

Uncle Terry with Betty, cousin to Rosie, visiting from Ireland.

In Ireland himself. We definitely hope to go ourselves some day!

One of the most endearing things about him is his spirit of adventure. So far, he has talked his sister into going to Ireland, white-water rafting, and sky-diving! We have a video of their sky dive and it's hysterical. I should say, my MIL was hysterical! She did not want to jump out of that plane. All of these took place after the age of 50.

Terry with kid sister, Kathleen, his adventure buddy. 2008

We haven't seen him since our last trip to California. Hopefully, he'll put us on his calendar soon and come to Florida! I'm sure we have a few roller coasters that would appeal to his daredevil spirit.
Can I say "daredevil" when describing a priest?

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Irish-Catholic Tale, Part VII

Feel free to search the archives for the full story. Sorry I don't know how to put them all under one like as some advanced bloggers are able to do! You may look under August '07.

Chet and Rosie married, then began to have children. Despite criticism from Scary Nana with Black Cats, they were mostly happy.

Tragically, Chet suffered from alcoholism and died on his 42nd birthday, leaving Rosie with 5 children and little income. Rosie's sister, Sarah, soon moved in and helped care for home and children. Everyone benefited from this arrangement. Sarah and Rosie would remain roommates until Sara's death in the 1980's.

What became of Chet and Rosie's children?

I would like to focus on the children individually. Naturally, I would like to start with Johnny. Here he's pictured standing next to his mother for a family portrait. In this photo, he's 26 years old and has been married for 6 years!

When Chet died, 12 year old Johnny would have to step up as the man of the house. He immediately went to work at an egg farm and often had to hitchhike to school. He worked several odd jobs to help support the family financially.

As his sisters grew and married, he also stepped into the father's role of giving away the bride!
Here he is with my own MIL, Kathleen, on her wedding day.

One of the things I admire most about this family is their closeness. They are the first to arrive for celebrations, sorrows, tragedies, and joys. Their closeness is something I pray my own children will imitate for the rest of their lives! Siblings are certainly forever, and I have seen this lived out in all of them.
From L to R: Kathleen, Terry, Rita, Johnny, and Mary Ann, 2006

Terry and Johnny, 2007.

Five days after his 20th birthday, Johnny married Martie. In true Irish-Catholic fashion, they began to have lots of children! Johnny wins the prize for having the most children among his siblings with seven.

Aunt Mary Ann already corrected me once when I called Monica by the wrong name! Let's see if I get it right this time: The two boys are Tom and Mike. The girls are Carol, Anne, Donna, Monica, and Lisa.

Johnny raised his family in Los Angeles county. He worked as a firefighter until he retired after a distinguished career, ending as Chief of Los Angeles County. When I met him, he was already retired. I didn't know about his career and had to ask Himself why all of his cousins adressed their father as "Chief." I quickly learned this was a respectful endearment.

Johnny loved to take vacations with his children. Aunt Martie, however, referred to them as "trips." In other words, it was fun for the family but a lot of work for her! Camping, hiking, waterskiing, snowskiing, it all involved a camper, lots of food, and lots of miles. Fortunately, California is blessed with all of those, so they rarely had to travel out of state (maybe to nearby Nevada or Utah).

More clearly identified in this photo: Back row - Monica, Anne, Carol, Donna. Front row- Tom, Martie, Johnny, Mike.

It was either in 1992 or 1996 that we all had to say goodbye to Lisa. I know I had just had a baby, but I can't remember if it was Kelly or Glenna.
Lisa was so excited to be engaged! Here she is at Aunt Mary Ann's, showing off her engagement ring.

Lisa had a beautiful little girl. While she was still nursing her infant, she complained to the doctor about pain. The doctor tried to say it was because of nursing, but the nurses in the practice urged Lisa to get a second opinion. Sure enough, she had breast cancer.

Her prognosis was actually good. Unfortunately, it was while her immunity was at its lowest due to chemotherapy that Lisa contracted Valley Fever. This is what took her life. The loss of Lisa was devistating to all of us.

Lisa posing with (L to R) Anne, Aunt Helen, and Martie.

I remember how excited we were when Lisa had her baby. At a family gathering, I walked up to whom I THOUGHT was Anne and said, "Oh! You're holding Lisa's baby!" Lisa smiled politely and said, "I AM Lisa." [blush] It was honestly hard for me to tell Anne and Lisa apart, especially when they had the same haircut, or when Lisa would grow her hair out and Anne would cut her hair to what Lisa's used to be! I mean, look at them in the above photo!

Johnny and Martie have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. In the following photos, they are celebrating their anniversary and Johnny's 75th birthday!

I'm so thankful I was able to spend a short amount of time with them at my BIL's wedding a few years ago. Since we moved to Florida in 1998, I haven't realized until now how much I miss the closeness of these siblings and cousins, or how great it was to see them once or twice per year. I miss catching up and watching their children grow. I hate that the only grandkids of Johnny and Martie, whose names I can remember, are Monica's twins (Zach and Dominic?).

Friends, if your famiy is nearby, celebrate them! Seek them out! Make sure your children know who their cousins are! Life is precious, and your family is precious, too.

Coming up next in the story: The Other Brother.


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