Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

Nicholas and Julia had their Christmas shows today. Julia and her class sang songs about Jesus while Nicholas' class, you know with public school and all, went the generic route with santa songs and the twelve days of Christmas.

Isn't Jesus the reason for the season?

Julia and her sweet friend, Kim.

Our three little ones.


The kids sang happy birthday to Jesus.


Mmmmm...those cupcakes were good!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Nutcracker

Julia and I went to the Nutcracker today. We got all dressed up. I did her nails and hair before we left. We looked so pretty...and guess what...no camera! Danny had the diaper bag with him and I had put the camera in there the night before. Darn it! Julia was so cute. She literally counted the minutes away waiting for the show to start. She did great considering it was a little long for her. After the show I took her out to dinner to Applebees which is her favorite restaurant. She ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, french fries and applesauce. We got ice cream sundaes for dessert. We played endless games of tick tack toe, I Spy and hang man throughout dinner. It was so nice spending time with just one child. I really must do this more often. I know it's good for them to have my undivided attention but really it is good for me too as it is much more relaxing.

Funny story of the day: When we were parking the car, a woman attendant came to collect our money. She commented on how cold she was standing outside all day. After I gave her the money Julia said, "Mom, why did you give her money? Is she collecting money to buy herself a coat?"

La Salette Festival of Lights

We went to visit the La Salette Shrine again this year. They celebrate Christmas with the Festival of Lights and have over 300,000 lights on the trees and around the grounds. It is so amazingly beautiful. My pictures do not do it justice. It looked especially pretty this year because it had snowed this week.



We lit candles for Danny's Mom and Dad.


There were hundreds of sparkling candles that had been lit by visitors of the shrine.


The kids had the most fun climbing on the huge snow banks!



Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Game of Perfection

Our house was always full of kids when we were growing up. Kids loved my mom and our house was the house to hang out at. One Christmas when I was about eleven years old and my older sister Kim was about fifteen, she had a Christmas party with a bunch of her friends. They played Christmas music, strung popcorn, ate junk food and so on. I was in a grumpy mood that night. I have no idea why. But one of my favorite people was there that night. My sister's friend Joe. He lived a few houses down from us and was at our house almost every day. He became part of our family. Even if my sister wasn't home he would come over to visit and play cards with my Mom or spend time talking to my Dad listening to his advice.

I really liked Joe because Joe really liked me. He never treated me like some pesky little sister. I remember the night of that Christmas party, Joe invited me to sit on the couch next to him and sing Christmas carols even though I was in a no good bad mood and didn't want to sing. Just that gesture of him including me made me feel good. That was Joe. He was kind. He was the "good" one in his very large family of ten kids. He never got into trouble. Joe was also the only one at the party to show up in a suit but that was him. He loved the holidays, especially Christmas.

That Christmas one of my gifts was the game Perfection. For weeks after Christmas, Joe would play that game with me and we would have competitions as to who would get the better time before the pieces popped out all over the place. Even today when I play that game with my kids, I think of Joe and our competitions.

After Joe and my sister graduated high school, we didn't see much of Joe anymore. He went into the service and eventually became a state trooper in New Hampshire, got married and had a son.

I remember the last time I saw Joe. He was in his twenties by then and just stopped by my Mom's house with another friend to visit. We sat at our kitchen table and played cards with my mom, just like the old days. I had not seen him in years but he was as handsome and happy as ever. He had this great infectious smile and such a wonderful joy for life.

Fast forward to November of 1989. Joe was 28 years old with an 8-month old son. He was killed in the line of duty in a car accident as he and another officer were transporting a prisoner. Crazy how I've outlived him by so many years now. I visit his grave each spring as he is buried near my foster brother, Glenn.

My family loved Joe. We were all there for him at the end praying for him to pull through. And when he didn't, we were all there to pay respect to him and his family at his funeral along with hundreds of police officers.

I know you are in heaven shining down on all of us. This was truly your favorite time of the year and I just want you to know that our family will always think of you with great affection, and never forget you, your kindness or your passion for life.

You were good...like perfection. Merry Christmas Joe. :)

Joseph Gearty 1961-1989

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ornaments

We put up our Christmas tree today. I love going through our box of ornaments each year. There are a few that I hold near and dear to my heart. Like these...

This is Nicholas' first ornament from 2001. After waiting years and years for his arrival, I couldn't wait to hang this on our tree. He was four months old his first Christmas.


We had no idea that the very next Christmas we would be hanging another baby ornament on the tree. Julia was also four months old for her first Christmas.


This ornament was given to me by an old boyfriend's sister-in-law. I thought it was such a sweet gesture.


My friend Sandy gave me this ornament after living in Vienna for a time.




This Santa ornament belonged to Danny's mom.



My sister Kim and I have a tradition of going shopping some place fun just days before Christmas each year. My sister bought this one for me on one of those trips.


Nicholas made this ornament in school last year at Little Blessings...my favorite school of all time.


I bought this dancer ornament for Julia last year for her first year in dancing school.


And this is my favorite ornament. The cradle. It was given to me by my dear friend Joann who helped me through those dark days of infertility. She gave it to me as a symbol of hope. She said her grandmother used to give a cradle ornament to her grandchildren when they were just married with hopes of having children someday. It guess it really works...


Saturday, December 01, 2007

My sixth sense

Sometimes I wonder about this strange sixth sense I have. Out of the blue random people just pop into my mind. Usually it is people I don't really know well or haven't seen in years. I think about them just briefly and then the thoughts are gone. Poof. And then I get a phone call telling me something about the person I was thinking about. Here are some examples.

One day out of the blue the name of this girl, Denise, popped into my head. I used to teach her dance at my sister's studio when she was a young girl. I'm sure she must be in her late twenties by now. I have not thought about this girl in years and years. I thought about how beautiful she was and how much I enjoyed teaching her. That's it. Then the thoughts were gone. A few days later, my sister called to tell me that she heard from friends that Denise was engaged to be married and her fiance had died suddenly.

On another day I randomly thought about this girl, Diane, that I was friends with in grade school. I didn't hang around with her much after that although we did graduate high school together. I haven't seen her or spoken to her since high school. My thoughts were about how we used to play together as kids and that was it. The thoughts were gone. The next day my dad called to tell me that he had gone to physical therapy the day before. And guess who his physical therapist was...this girl Diane.

Yesterday, out of the blue I was thinking about Danny's friend Mark and his wife. She is pregnant with their third child. Although I know Mark very well, I really don't know his wife very well. I was thinking about how with each pregnancy they have the ultrasound technician write down the sex of the baby and put it into an envelope. When they go home they give the envelope to her father to open. I was thinking how it was a little strange to me but who am I to be critical of her relationship with her dad? I was thinking about how close they must be and how important it is for her to have her dad know first. Then a few hours later the phone rang. It was Danny calling to tell me that Mark had just called him to say his father-in-law has terminal cancer. He has less than a year to live.

How does this happen?