Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beginnings or endings???

This end of the school year gets to be quite a busy time!! Sorry to be shirking on my promise to be a more diligent blogger. As a quick peek at one of the things that has kept me from blogging I present....

Our newest graduate!!!

Mairead's graduation ceremony was this week. Andrew's is next week!!!

As mentioned in a previous post, Mairead is one of your classic overachievers! She ended up being called back up for several academic and music awards but the biggest surprise was winning the CCW's scholarship award!!!!!! Sure will help towards the tuition at her very costly high school (:

Proud parents with the graduate. Prouder Mom since Mairead was admitted to her Alma mater. Mairead will be traveling into Chicago to attend a historic Jesuit academic power her blue and gold for the classic maroon and gold! Oh, and while she's studying with the best of the best, she will also be putting that beautiful smile and dance training to work on the sidelines as a cheerleader....when she's not playing the flute with the band that is...did I mention over achiever??

OF COURSE this was a family event!!! be repeated next Thursday with Andrew (:

I'll try to keep up these next couple of days as we wrap up Louisa May Alcott projects, multiplication speed timed tests, division speed timed tests, softball games, field days, class picnics on our way to the end of the school year! At which time we will have two new FRESHMEN starting out on their high school career and one more eighth grader about to finish her grade school days.....sniff, sniff....thank goodness for the about to be 6th grader and two soon to be 5th graders to balance the 1997 triplets who are making me feel very old about now!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Location, location, location!

Back when I married Patrick, I moved from my 'hometown' into THE CITY. Now, this was the same big city where I was born and lived my first eight years but it never assumed that spot in my heart reserved for one's 'hometown'. The suburb I was raised in is really more like a small town. I know it seamlessly fits into the megalopolis of Chicago but the social structure is very like a small Midwestern farming town. Patrick was reluctant to move here until we came for a street fair one summer night and I moved from person to person chatting and catching up with high school friends and old reminded him of his Irish hometown and suddenly he couldn't get us moved out of Chicago fast enough!! The problem was our timing....right at the very peak of the housing bubble!!!! This little suburb was extremely desirable and houses were often sold for many thousands of dollars OVER their asking prices and within hours of being listed. We looked and looked and tried and tried but it was beginning to look like our new little family would have to stay in Chicago..............

During our search, assuming we would be moving here soon, I had enrolled Mari in the local private school's pre-school program. One day as I pulled in the parking lot I saw the for sale sign that had popped up in the lawn of a cute little brick ranch across the street from the school. I sighed to myself and thought, " how perfect but I bet there is already a contract pending on that little house".  A week later our realtor called and said she thought she had a possible property for us....yep, turns out a house across the street from a school was 'not desirable' and our little house had not yet been snapped up!! Not only not snapped up but open for negotiation on price!!! We were in!!!!

Many wonderful memories have been made as a result of living across the street from our church and it's attached school. Like last night for example!!!! My sister and her husband were scheduled to celebrate their wedding anniversary at the same time Mairead was to be at her 8th grade final dance. Mairead was dropped off at our house early so they could negotiate the Friday night rush hour into the city!! We had fun curling her hair and pushing her out the door to go Hula the night away. Then I looked out my front window and saw this....

Usually I don't butt in...but Anne Marie was MISSING this final fun picture moment!!!!

I mean there were other Moms there so why not me?

But I must admit to being grateful for my new camera with it's great zoom ability so I could stay a respectable [according to the teen definition] distance to record the happiness and camaraderie for posterity!

Because next Tuesday this group of friends will mark their last day together after eight years ....spreading out into 6 different high schools...making this one priceless picture!!!!!! Who decided that a home across from a school was an undesirable location??????

Friday, May 13, 2011

FFF- A good 13th!!!

Most of the world spent today looking out for possible bad luck or paranormal activity. A Friday the 13th, the most superstitious day on our calendar according to lore. I'm not a superstitious person. Friday the 13th is just another work day. Nothing extraordinary.

Except when it is Friday, May 13, 2011!!! Nope not bad luck...just extraordinary. 65 years ago today a scrawny baby boy was born in a small whitewashed farmhouse in the middle of County Kerry! The 5th baby born in 8 years and the 3rd of three born barely a year apart, he was ailing from the effects of a malnourished and fatigued mother who was about to become pregnant with a 4th baby in four years. There were more than one relative who thought that this new little boy had a bleak and short lived future. So sure that he was one of the babies not destined to make his first birthday, he was baptized with only a first name! The patron saint of Ireland had different plans for his namesake....

In the United States he would have been labeled as a 'failure to thrive'. But waves of rickets, measles, mumps, and chicken pox came and went and little Patrick pulled through. Not exactly thriving but determined to hang on to his little piece of mortality! He finally shook the rickets that delayed his walking for 3 years and had kept him housebound. He loved his little white cottage and was not 'keen' to travel the lanes that led away from his mother's hearth but school was a must. Precious pennies were gathered to buy him the glasses he so desperately needed to see anything beyond his fingertips, like the teacher's slate in the front of the little one room schoolhouse. His little class of nine held only one boy and four of the eight girls were first cousins!

There was the traumatic time when the precious glasses, set carefully aside to protect them from the rough housing of boys, were lost in the tall grasses along the path home from school. The long search well into the darkest of night for them leaving a life long scar and creating a very careful nature in the man who was forming. There were the countless tumbles with six brothers that not only created a strong as an ox musculature but a genuine peacemaker who avoids confrontation at all costs. A gentle soul who spent many a day in the company of his female classmates absorbing the skills of a gentleman who would go on to worship the women in his life...treating them as royal princesses every moment of their lives!

As loathe as he was to leave the warmth of his little cottage, the reality was that there was not enough farm to be shared by eight siblings. Like the many aunts and uncles who made their way to America in the generation before because of poverty, these siblings were raised knowing that they would need to emigrate. Every summer brought visits 'home' from the 'Yank' relations who came bearing the second-hand clothes so coveted by the children who wore them proudly...because as you can see in the picture above clothes were worn to threads...LITERALLY!!! I cried the first time one of the American cousins produced this picture she had taken of my Patrick and he remembered the day it was older brother Denis' confirmation day and they were in their 'church' clothes and feeling very dressed up to meet the visiting 'Yanks'! I cried after we were married and I discovered that there were no pictures of my Patrick as a child as his family was far too poor to have a camera! He supposed that there were some in vacation albums of an aunt or two as they had often posed for the visiting 'Yanks'. The result of my written plea to his 'Yank' cousins are these two precious snap shots...that's all! Up until my marriage I had felt I had been 'raised poor'.....

Then around his 15th birthday his uncle came riding up the lane looking for one of the older brothers to come help with the spring planting. Needing as many able bodied workers as he could himself, Patrick's father sent his scrawny 4th son off with the uncle. While anxious to be leaving home, Patrick left with some high spirits as he was heading to a childless home where there would not be two other brothers fighting for space or covers in a bed or fighting over the few spuds served at dinner. Here he would be fussed over by a favorite aunt making the prospect of doing spring planting worthwhile! After a warm welcome and generous hot meal from his beloved aunt he was ushered into a fresh bed which she had carefully placed warmed stones for his shivering skinny body and he fell into the first heavenly sleep of his life...where at midnight he was shaken awake by his uncle informing him that the aunt had died!! He never went home again...he worked alongside the grieving uncle that year and then he headed off to try his fortunes with the Quaker Oats Company in London, England. As brother after brother ventured off to join the "Chicago cousins" he longed for the camaraderie of family. He decided that if his fortune were to be made outside of Ireland it might as well be made in the company of his family. So he went back to the little cottage and with a very heavy heart made his good-byes to his parents and boarded a plane for O'Hare airport.

I sometimes suggest that he take a middle name. For all of his life he has been that steady soul who makes sound decisions and could always be counted on for emotional and financial support in your moment of need. He should be Patrick Peter O'Mahony....the rock of the O'Mahony clan. I am so not a rock. I am so not a peacemaker. I am so not a steady soul. I often ask him just what was he thinking when he asked me for that second date???  [first date the result of matchmaking sister-in-laws(: ] I often ask him what he was thinking when he decided to become a father when retirement had almost been in sight?? I often ask him why he is so very patient with a hot flashing wife and moody adolescent daughters?? 
His quiet simple answer, "I always wanted my own little cottage filled with my own kit and kin."

Well our hearts are yours our Irish saint!
Happy birthday and many, many more!!!!!
[to see more FFF posts visit Nora here]

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz...

Oh what a relief it is to finally reach the end of Julia's State Report year!!!!!!!! In our district, the fourth graders are assigned a state near the beginning of the year which becomes the focus of a lot of their lessons. When it was time to learn the concept of area in Math...they figured the area of their state. When they studied government, they studied the structure of government in their state. When they studied economy, they studied the economy of their state. Slowly, bit by bit throughout the year they compiled note cards with these tidbits of information about their state...and in the last two weeks they had to turn those into a 10 page, double spaced report with bibliography. Ummm and yeah, there was the "Make a food from your State" lunch pot luck, the "Make a T-shirt of your state" assignment, and the ever so impossibly time consuming  "Tri-fold with interactive display" for State Report Night.

Last night was "State Report Night"....FINALLY!!

The night started with a short concert in which they sang...

...and danced to a lovely selection of American songs like the National Anthem, Oh Susannah, The Drinking Gourd, and Route 66. It was held in the gymnasium. The fourth graders on risers in the front quarter of the room followed by HALF of the gym floor blocked off for the dancing portion with a TRILLION parents, siblings, and other extended family members crowded into the remaining quarter. It was another 90 degree day today [because we don't get spring in Chicago...remember?!?!} and as the performance progressed I had an overwhelming urge to stand up and scream, "I'm meeeeelllllltttting" like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. I refrained but there was no hiding the growing sweat rings! Then we headed of into the cafeteria Multi-purpose Room to tour the country...they had attempted to crank the air up in this room but the body count overwhelmed the condenser.

Proud Michigan 'expert' in front of her impossibly time consuming "interactive tri-fold display" and binder of a bazillion facts on the Wolverine State.

Her 'interactive' portion was a complete the map of Michigan challenge.

They all wore their state t-shirts. [The original notes home advised that they should all wear blue jeans this night. Tuesday's homework agenda had a change of dress code note...due to the sudden appearance of summer!] Then, as mid-westerners can relate, the heat storm decided to visit...just as the night's festivities ended!!

Guess who got the privilege of dashing through the bolts of lightening and pounding rain to bring the car around?? I'm smiling because the rain nicely provided an excuse for the sopping wet blouse... because Mom's who sweat "are gross" I've been told!!

As quick as it came, the storm left and in it's wake we were treated to a rare rainbow!

As we headed into the local ice cream parlor [hello I was meeeelllltttting!?!?!] the rainbow pushed onward across the sky until it was a complete arc. Julia was convinced one end was by our house so we had to rush home to catch the pot of gold!!! Yesssireee.....I will be going to work tomorrow as usual.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Same old complaint!

Every year I get caught up in the depths and lengths of our Chicago winters. Every year I long for spring. Every year I long for spring. Every year I long for spring. Every year I long for spring........but in Chicago there is no spring!!!

Saturday, MAY 7th and Julia needed a thermal long sleeved shirt under her jersey!! See her BFF/Cousin watching her North Face and Uggs!?!?

Aunt Anne Marie and cousins joined us in the stands that day to
cheer for Julia [and her team]...Mari kind of sums up how 
we all felt!! One simply should not be regretting having
left the mittens and scarves home in MAY!!!

Proof of our true love for each other!! 
Frozen to the bone and an ailing back are no excuses for
a Mom when her anxious, about to pitch her first ever inning,
daughter asks for help to warm up her arm.
[..and yes my AP readers- at 13 years old, Mari still
likes to be within arms reach if at all possible!!]

Coach......or team Mom?!?!? 
Wonder what the teams that have men as coaches do 
since during our last game we had two time-outs for
shoe tying and two for visor/pony tail issues?

It is MAY but Andrew is just fine with cold and ice!
[blog break to brag that this is him in his first game as a member 
of his high school's team...even though he has 
3 more weeks of 8th grade!]

Alyssa, on the other hand, would love some warm sunny days! She has dutifully worked as a volunteer at a therapy riding center EVERY Saturday for over a year now and has earned the reward of a FREE hour of riding at the end of the day. I'm pretty sure the horses would rather some warm SPRING weather as well!

Soooooooo Chicago being Chicago means that summer pretty much starts today! We are going to be in the mid-eighties just three days after having what I hope is our last frost warning! I'd move to Florida but they don't seem to get spring either...just summer year round! Then again....when you seem to get winter year 365 summer such a bad thing???

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Opened the door...a bit...

As the parent of an adopted teen daughter who blogs, I walk a very fine line of just what I can post about her life. There are the controversies among parents over who controls the rights to any part of the child's story and then there are the vagaries of discerning the opinions of the child herself. I would not be going too far out on limb if I say here that Mari is smack in the middle of that hormonally driven period of self-identity questioning! Details on particular peculiarities are forbidden as a general rule but broad stroke descriptions may or may not be allowed depending on the day of the week or even the hour of the day...while this post was approved I just may have to take it back down again tomorrow!

Right now it has been deemed 'allowable' to relate that she has reached a level of maturity on the matter of her adoption. As a toddler she waffled between being oblivious to the 'difference' in her family and proud of the 'difference' in her family. Then all of a sudden I was forbidden to mention to ANYONE...even doctors...that she was an adopted child. I stood firm on the doctor for obvious reasons but I did step back as she entered middle school in an effort to lessen some of her anxiety about being 'different' from her peers. She has spent the most part of two school years hiding [as best one can given the particulars] the fact of her adopted status from her peers!! Kills me as I had been doing everything I could glean from writings of adult adoptees to try and make 'our' adoption a relaxed and open 'fact of life'. It is taking this control freak  a long time to accept that every child reacts in their own way no matter how well you try to guide them....

Anyhow, as I write this post I am listening to a crowd of 13 year olds giggling and squealing up in Mari's bedroom after having a rather sleepless sleepover. She had been very guarded anytime any of her peers had suggested they might come over to our house for any reason...they would surely find out her 'secret' the minute they stepped in the door and saw our family portrait hanging on the wall!?!? Then last week I was asked the question I thought would never come, "Mom, do you think I could have some friends over for a sleepover?" When I asked about her 'secret' she said, "I guess I can't hide it forever and besides, if they are my friends they won't care!" When I asked how she would handle it when the friends talked about it at school she said, "It's middle school Mom! They talk about everybody! Might as well let them talk now and get it over with." When I complimented her on her decision to face her fear of being 'different' she said, "I'm a teenager now you know?!?!"...........sigh, oh I know alright!