Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Hangover

Too lethargic to do much of anything. Just like the commercial of the boy jumping off the diving board...my pictures sit on the memory card in the camera waiting and begging to be downloaded!! Not sure that the 'artistic quality' even makes the scale but they are of memory quality.

This many years later, the "Not ONE minute BEFORE 7:00am" is still in place. They are now old enough to know the routine and at 7:01 we got the knock on our door followed quickly by the burst through with screams of "It's time!!!" ...and by 8:01 I was back in bed. They were too mesmerized to care where their parents had gone. Our 'deprived' children had 'fiiiiiinally' gotten a Wii and it has consumed many of their post-Christmas morning hours, thankfully.

I had dinner duty and after a too brief nap I was back up getting the turkey stuffed and in the oven. Pushed four of us through showers, dressing, and hot footed it out the door to church...I personally find it too embarrassing to live literally across the street and be late for services!! Back home to find that our guest list for dinner was being decimated by the flu. In the end, the day of cooking for 16 people ended up being dinner for 8...did I ever mention that I'm not a big fan of leftovers? Patrick would eat the same food day in and day out for weeks but not me....and I had 1/2 of a 25lb turkey and A LOT of sides left over. Warned my kids that tonight I'm ordering Chinese take out!!!!!!!!!

Then we headed over to Aunt Arie's [aka Anne Marie] for the much anticipated gift exchange and dessert. Presents were in abundance but bodies were missing....some from the flu and some from selfishness but doesn't every family have that one member who marches to their own drummer? Kids initially were a bit dismayed by the absence of some favorite cousins but the materialistic tendencies quickly erased that mood. This year we did simplify but there is room to improve on that matter for next year.

Speaking of next year, Julia is now one of Santa's official helpers. Just too many inconsistencies in this year's Santa visit coupled with rumors heard at school caused, in her own words "my Santa bubble burst". Handled it rather well...one or two squeezed back tears during the early part of 'the talk' but bubbly and excited by the end as she was given her Official Elf title. Being my funny, upbeat kid she has even done a few schticks since on how "Saaanta" missed a few items on her list...hint, hint, wink, wink, nod, nod!

Luckily they are still mesmerized with the Wii because the ravages of a seasonal cold coupled with flaring Meniere's and the stresses of all the Christmas preparations have left me wiped out!! I should be sewing. I should be running loads of laundry. I should be doing many things.

Here's to a couple more days off of work. Hoping they do the job to restore my spirits so we can ring in 2011 with gusto!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nollaig , Navidad, Nativity

Our local park district does a beautiful poinsettia display in the conservatory in the town's central park. We've made it our family's tradition to take a family picture there every Christmas season. 

Those are just a few I could find in my picture files from Christmas' past! This year the tradition streeeeeetched a bit. Thanks to Auntie Peggy. She pushed and prodded three unmotivated families out of their Bah Humbug funks and into the conservatory. Except that one of the families had scheduling conflicts with Auntie Peggy so I was deemed an adequate back up photographer. Guess which family I did??


 again, yep...

this is the group I got to photograph! 

Happy to say I can hold my own with Auntie Peggy these days! If I would only give myself the time to sit down with the manual and practice I could maybe even inch ahead??....nah, won't happen because everyone who knows me knows I'm not about to sit down and read a manual. But the upside is....Auntie Peggy was right! We are all happy to have made the effort since the final results turned out so nice.

So tonight I am taking a few minutes for myself. The reindeer food was made and distributed on the front snow bank. The notes thanking Santa were dutifully written and tucked alongside the plate of cookies and egg nog. The traditional family snuggle on the couch to watch a Christmas movie is over and two much too big for my liking girls are settled under their blankets awaiting their trip to the Land of Nod. Santa is yet to come but I'm sure he will be here shortly after I hit the 'publish post' button! But someone did come already....

May all our family and friends the world over have
a most blessed and happy Christmas! 
             Nollaig Shona Dhaoibh!         Feliz Navidad!                  

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus!

Whilst the rest of my friends ran around visiting Santa and doing all the 'traditional' Christmas week preparations...I was in a funk. Besides Grammy, I can feel a bout of Meniere's brewing, I forgot my alphabet and let the letters N & O disappear resulting in my being committed to help in a huge sewing project under a time crunch [more in a future post on this!], the loss of N & O have also meant that I had to make time to go to our local conservatory twice in as many days to be the subject of and photographer of  family Christmas pictures [also to be covered in a future post!], and my children being off of school means drastically less computer time for Mom!! My adoption friends will understand when I say, it felt like that period in the PGN blackhole when you felt like you had given all you could give and were getting no cooperation in return and there were those tiny lapses where you had doubt that a PINK was ever going to be produced...and you get dark and jaded about the motives behind everyone and everything associated with the adoption. In short....I had ZERO Christmas spirit!

Then today, as I'm in a house rocking from the rafters with the sound of SIX little girls playing at full volume and three sewing machines humming, clacking, and generally contributing to my hearing losses...the mailman arrived. Well it was actually so loud today that I didn't really hear him come at all. Patrick coming home from work found his delivery in the box as he came up on the porch. Churlish as I was by that point, I waved Patrick off as he approached with the big manilla envelop in his hand. I thought is was more of his Medicare and insurance literature that has been jamming our box of late [he has a big birthday looming too!].

Did I ever mention what a KEEPER my Patrick is? A true saint. He picked up on my mood rather quickly and just set it down on a table and walked away. He knows me well. He knew I'd give the return address a look-see as soon as I walked in the vicinity of the table. He knew it was all good and he left it and walked away....

Remember when I first posted this picture?

Remember any of the story?

The road blocks I had hit in my genealogy of late have not exactly been helping the mood either! I rather thought I had pushed them far enough back to not be all that big of a deal. I did what I call a "Hail Mary" move...this was taken in 1917 in Butte, Montana by my grandfather. It was simply labeled with the man's name...nickname to be exact. No other identifying information and no way to know how he was related other than he had one of the family's last names. I took this picture and several of the others and I e-mailed them. I Googled Butte, Montana Genealogy and copied a few sites down and I e-mailed the pictures with a request for any information anyone may have on the pictures.

A little brighter in color and a lot more worn but 15 East Center still stands!!!

That manilla envelop contained a rather extensive packet from the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives. The registered owner in 1917 was indeed the gentleman pictured! He ran a saloon and worked as Deputy Sheriff [a very Irish combination!!] and was the treasurer of the local Ancient Order of Hibernians! He had at least 4 children who carry very common family names! The researcher apologized for offering so LITTLE documentation and promised to keep searching but just didn't want me to think my request was being ignored!!!!! I mean REALLY???? The awe in knowing that my grandfather stood in this very same home in 1917....I'm overwhelmed!!!

I'm generally a rather naive and trusting person by nature. The politics of dental school and international adoption have jaded me a bit. I now question everyone's 'motives'. I had that moment as I leafed through pages of phone book listings covering many years and as I looked at his death certificate when I wondered just why the researcher would do this for me. Just as I decided it must be for the money I get to an invoice....$35 dollars....for how many hours of researching the files???.... for driving out and photographing the house???.... for securing a death certificate [which alone costs $15 here in Illinois!!!] and for making sure these were all packaged up and sent off to me to receive just in time to revive my Christmas spirit?? I mean PRICELESS!!!!!!

I am in a much better mood tonight! Tempered just a teeny, tiny bit by the fact that the death certificate had some depressing information...like he died on December 2, 1917?!? Just months after my grandfather took this picture he was gone...dead and buried before the album was even put together! Oh and the other slightly bumming bit of information...according to his son [who provided the information on the certificate] he was not who I was hoping he would be...his parents names do not appear in my tree....just yet! I'm sure he's related. Only a matter of time until I find out how.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Soothing the sadness with....

SUGAR and Santa!!

Traditions are important to me...I guess you've heard that once or twice before? Christmas is still coming. So we pulled ourselves together and accomplished two of our Christmas traditions. On our way to the first one we took a moment to get a family picture or two...courtesy of Auntie Peggy.

No, it does not necessarily get better with age!!!! Out-takes first...

Okay, busted! After years of them goofing off, I'm entitled to one prank...right??

Now for some of the successful shots....

Then we headed off to the city to meet up with the Irish half of the family. Wait, that doesn't read right...because I'm Irish too. Well, anyhow, it was time for the Mahoneys to gather to celebrate Christmas!

The Mahoney siblings who....

along with their spouses [note deaths in the ranks account for the uneven number!!!]...

and their children [all but two came!!! and yes ours are quite the junior members]...

and all of the grandchildren we could corral into a picture...

gathered for an evening to celebrate! Celebrate the newest members....


and we celebrated two birthdays, and the news of two more imminent arrivals, and of course the jolly man in red made an appearance!!

One of those nights we really need in times like these. 

Then, today, we decided that a little bit of sugar was in order! Bring on the first of the Christmas baking...

Want to see how our kitchen table looks tonight?

Yep, looks like it's going to be a good day tomorrow!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Season of Tears

The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept

without her.”unknown


Tonight we did what families do in moments like this. There is no need to think out a plan. You just act. So when my sister called with that catch in her voice asking if the children could come on a moment's notice and stay indefinitely the answer is known before there are words spoken! The cousins came...and their parents rushed to the hospital. There was no Hollywood script in play here and the doctors did not even have a chance at a miraculous outcome. Just one year after losing their dearest Poppa, Mairead, Daniel, and Deirdre must now mourn the loss of their beloved Grammy.

Frances, you will be sorely missed by all of us. Rest now in God's peace...all your cares and troubles ceased. The chorus of angels, along with Arthur I'm sure, have thrown open the Gates of Heaven at your arrival and your welcome is well deserved.


This week will be painfully hard for all the children. Grammy doted on her only three grandchildren but all of the cousins were the recipients of her kindness and love! Mairead and Mari were almost 5 before they finally figured out that she was 'really' Mairead's grandmother only. Grammy was like that. But this past year, without her beloved Arthur, has been excruciating for Grammy. Her heart just finally broke forever....


We'll be busy the next couple of days. Please keep us in your prayers as we take this Christmas week to say good bye to Grammy. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby Steps

One of those pictures that speaks volumes about the stress levels 
around here lately!!

A usual complaint around the holiday season. Magnified when three birthdays are thrown into the mix. Exponentially magnified when hormones and psychological pain are involved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For the adoptive Moms waiting on Mari's posts...all I can say is for every three steps forward you should expect to see them take two right back again!! We get brief moments [emphasis on brief!!!] when she is exceptionally philosophical and thinks that doing up a blog post would not only help her in her aspirations to be a writer [remember the constant book in her hand???] but would also help her to "name and claim" her emotions. Then the philosopher gives way to the windmill jouster who quickly morphs into a Mayan Thundercloud. One minute she wants to sit and talk it out...and just as you settle on the couch that mood is GONE! 

Right now it is a peculiar mix of adoption induced pain coupled with hormonal Middle School induced peer relation conflicts and body image....um trying to think of a polite word....um.......um...loathing?? We've done some of the Dove workshops....she would still like to look like Taylor Swift. She categorically denies having any positive Latina influences....she categorically denies a lot of things! It's the full on age of emoting passionately...and you'd think I'd be ready given that I was the Queen of emoting passionately when I was a teen...sigh....and she has never been one to end an emotional outburst before exploring and savoring every last drop of drama...even as a toddler!

Now, ladies, do not take this to mean we are in a 24/7 psychological hurricane from which there is no relief. Most of each day is spent in the mundane acts of school and homework...and texting. The Mayan Thundercloud child does have some warning signs and we are beginning to learn how to act on those clues. It's just a veeeery complex storm system and I'm thinking I have a couple more years until I get my degree in Mayan Meteorology 101...then I get the joy of sitting through Mayan Meteorology 201...no sarcasm there! They are joys. It's just that some days are a lot more joyful than others! 

Meanwhile, we race through our busy season of Christmas concerts...

Family nights with RE and homework...

The 'family' parties for the last of the birthday girls...
[Happy almost to the 'big' birthday Auntie Peggy!!!]

Throw in an occasional sporting event here or there....

Mix it with a bit of make-over magic.....
Add a nearly full work calendar, holiday preparations, family Christmas parties [more on these later...maybe], multiple attempts at Christmas card photo shoots, and a list the length of my arm yet to accomplish!! I'm taking little tiny baby steps forward these days. Happy to say just that...moving forward again after a lot of stuck in place feels good even if it's by tiny amounts!!