Thursday, March 31, 2011

Je m'appelle Sophie Gianna...

...comment allez-vous? Je suis la!

My name is Sophie Gianna... do you do?

I am here!

Our son Erik, daughter-in-law Lori, and granddaughter Mia added to their little family! Sophie Gianna made her debut into our world this morning!

Happy Grandpa ("Paw") and happy big sister!

Sophie Gianna ~ I really love her name!
The name 'Sophie' is so cute! And sort of vintage sounding. And her middle name 'Gianna' is for our daughter-in-law Lori's father ~ Johnny.

Sophie Gianna ~ beautiful name for a beautiful baby! (Yes, I'm a typical braggart Grandma!)
And may her Grandpa Johnny watch over her from above.

(Lori's Mom, Virginia, with our two beautiful granddaughters.)

Please join us in thankful praise to God for Blessing our family with another miracle, a new little life to love ~ "Sophie Gianna"!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy, Thankful Update

Earlier this month I requested prayers for nine-month-old Joey, he was undergoing some tests and his family was told he may need brain surgery.
I found out today that further testing showed no fluid on Joey's brain!

Please join me in thankful praise! And thank you all for keeping this baby and his family in your prayers.

And thank you for keeping all my intentions in your thoughts and in your prayers. And know that you are in mine too.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Love Dare

I've started the book "The Love Dare Day By Day" and it's advertised as a year of devotions for couples. But that advertisement is somewhat misleading as far as I can see, for this book is so much more than that.
It's a 'Love Book' pure and simple. To me 'Day One' sums up perfectly the challenge that is presented to each of us every day of our lives ~ are we going to live a life of love or not? The authors present us with the bare truth: "Loving God and others is really what life is all about. There is a vast difference between the two. One is priceless...and one meaningless."

And my bare truth is, that in my life, I, many times, have chosen meaningless. I now want priceless.

One of this week's dares is to begin praying, "Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"I Know You're Gonna Live Two More Years"

Yesterday my daughter Katie took Jayden into work with her. When they got there she called to tell me they had arrived safely, I was busy and didn't pick up before she hung up. She called again and she said this time it just rang and rang (I was on with my sister at the time and didn't hear that anyone was trying to cut in). She finally got me on the line and said that she had been worried when I didn't answer, and then she put Jayden on the phone and I asked him if he had been worried too and he said, "No. Just Mommy was worried. I knew I didn't have to worry, because I know you're gonna live two more years."
I said, "What?! What did you say? Did you say two more years or twenty more years?"
And Jayden said, "I said two. Oh, nevermind, just forget about it, you're not supposed to know anyway."
Whoa! Where did that come from?

I got to thinking how I would spend the next two years if I knew they'd be my last two on earth. I know I'd want to make a lot of changes. I'm starting now to make those changes, but boy, would I feel rushed to do it all in a New York minute if I thought I only had two years left!

But, mostly, I thought about how much I miss God in my life.

And, oddly enough, or maybe not so oddly at all, yesterday, which happened to be my Mom's Birthday, while thinking about all this I came across Birgit Whelan's blog and her post title was: "I MISS GOD".
And she welcomed to her blog anyone who was feeling that God was missing from their life. And she went on to say that we don't have to do anything or say anything to be welcomed by God, and to have a relationship with Him all we need is to go to Him, to just be in His Presence, in His Love, which cannot be earned, and which will never be taken away. She reminded me that God will never turn us away in our brokenness.
"A broken and sorrowing heart, O God, You will not put from You" ~ Psalm 51:17
"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28

Well, I don't know if it's two years more I have on this earth, or twenty more, or less. I only know that I'm grateful for the reminders I find that tell me to hold fast to all that is of true worth and true value, and hold on to only that.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Earliest Memories Of Mom

Today is my Mom's Birthday and I've been Blessed lately to be flooded with early memories of her.
But other than a few of the memories like Mom singing to me, and the 'tea and toast' when I was sick, and my First Holy Communion Day, most of these memories are not vivid, they are vague and they all blend into one, as if it all could have happened on one day, but I'm sure it did not.

All of these memories (except for my wedding day) are early memories and they are all from the 'old house':

My most favorite memory is of me climbing up onto Mom's lap in the big yellow rocker in the living room and asking her to "Sing me Irish, Mommy." I felt so safe, so secure, so protected, and so loved.

Mom combing the tangles out of my hair in the mornings.

Mom giving Diane and myself kitchen spoons and water so we could make mud pies in the backyard. Me running into the house to tell her Diane was eating the mud pies.

Mom carrying me out back in a wash basket and me sitting in that wash basket watching her hang the laundry on the line. The sun, and lots of white laundry (I guess it must have been sheets or diapers), and Mom.

Mom filling the little pool out back for us to play in.

Mom exercising to the Jack LaLanne show.

Mom letting me sprinkle the clothes with water as she ironed them.

Mom bringing us 'funny guys' home from a shopping trip to Flushing.

Mom teaching me how to polish shoes.

Mom helping me to dress up for Halloween trick-or-treating.

Mom making me tea and toast and letting me eat it on the couch in the living room when I was sick.

Mom telling me stories about the Blessed Mother.

Mom teaching me about my Guardian Angel.

Mom teaching me to pray the Rosary.

Mom asking me to teach her my First Holy Communion song.
And on my First Communion day, Mom wrapping me in a white shawl that was Aunt Margie's and telling me how happy it would have made Aunt Margie to know I was using it (and years and years later, Mom sewing lace from one of Aunt Margie's nightgowns onto the bottom of the slip I wore on my wedding day. My Aunt Margie was one of my Mom's older sisters, she died from heart failure when I was about six or seven years old). And Mom telling me that I would look back on my First Holy Communion day as the most special day of my life.

Kissing Dad good-bye as he leaves for work, waving good-bye at the door to Tommy, John, and Marybeth as they walked down the block heading for school. Helping Mom close up the Castro Convertible in the living room that she and Dad slept on. Sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast. Then Mom turns on the TV, I can remember watching Captain Kangaroo, Topper, and My Little Margie while she cleans, and then later she would come and sit with a cup of coffee and watch a cooking show. I wonder if that was the routine?

All the family gatherings at our house, all the parties, and all the barbecues, so many family 'get-togethers' in the house and in the back yard. We were so Blessed.

Mom helping me down the old wooden steps in the back. Mom helping me climb into some sort of stroller or walker. I asked Aunt Florence about it and she said she remembers it, it was my cousin Jimmy's, and it had a bottom that could be moved aside and used as a walker.

Mom told me that I had the Chicken Pox at eight months old, and they were all down my throat, and I refused to take the bottle, so she would help me drink from a cup. She said I never drank from a bottle again after that.
She also said I was covered in pox, and she had to cover my hands with little socks because I kept scratching at my face (I still have a few pox marks on my face from scratching at them), and she said she would take me into bed at night with her and Dad, and I would cry and wriggle around, trying to scratch my own back. And she said she felt so bad for me, and that even though she knew she shouldn't do it, she would turn me over onto my stomach and scratch my back for me to give me some relief. And she said I would quiet down then, and lay so still, and smile, and then I was able to fall asleep.
I wish I could remember that.

I have so many 'special' memories of my Mom, so many 'vivid' memories of her, lots of special days, special occasions, and special celebrations. And lots of sad events too that stand out in my mind (the day my little brother Frankie had to be operated on, the day my oldest brother Tom left home for the Marines, the day my brother John left home for the Army, the Christmas John spent at war in Viet Nam, the day my grandmother died, the day my cousin Jimmy died, so many of her friends and family passing, just so many sad family/friend times, and of course her own descent into the depths of Alzheimer's Disease).
But what I want most, and what I have been Blessed with lately, is to remember the little 'nothing' moments. The regular, normal routine of an early childhood day spent with Mom just always being there for us.
Mom, always there, washing, ironing, and folding clothes, sweeping the kitchen floor, doing the dishes, setting the table, cooking, cleaning, running a bath for someone, feeding a baby, changing a diaper, packing kids off to school, and singing a lot, just her normal routine of being 'Mom'.

I remember Mom telling us that one of the neighbors at the old house had told her that she was so taken by how well my mother took care of seven children. She told Mom that we were quiet, well-behaved, and well-mannered, but also that we always looked so 'polished', she said that my mother was the mother of seven 'only children'! I remember asking her what the neighbor meant and Mom said it was like she cared for each one of us as if we were an only child. I remember how happy she was recounting that story. How happy and proud.
We were her life and it showed.

Happy Birthday, Mom. Missing you lots, but feeling so Blessed to have had you.

Mom, near the very end of your life you said to me, "God's Been Very Good to me". And, now with this gift of these beautiful memories of you, Mom, I too say God's Been Very Good to me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New York Was Irish (At Least For A Day)

So sorry I haven't been visiting or posting, but I've been really busy (eliminating some non-essentials in the house, and also busy having a grand time when not busy cleaning out the house) , and then I wasn't feeling well at all for a few days. I'm a little better now, and I'll post about some of the fun I'd been having before I got sick:

On St. Patrick's Day my youngest daughter Ellie took off from work so that she could pick Jayden up from school while my friend Barbara and I went downtown to enjoy a day in the city:

Barbara and I were Blessed with great weather again (last year on St. Patrick's Day we went into the city to see Riverdance at Radio City Music Hall), and we have now decided that we are going to make 'spending St. Patrick's Day in New York City' a tradition (even if we both move to different states in the future!). Manhattan is a fun place to be on St. Patrick's Day!

We saw lots of green:

And lots of shamrocks:

And lots of people out and about in Times Square enjoying the beautiful weather:

Here's where the ball drops in Times Square on New Year's Eve and at one point Barbara turned to me and asked, "What year is it? Isn't this 2011?" And then she pointed to this:

At first I didn't see what she was talking about, but then I took a closer look:

They've been practicing already for the ball dropping on 2012!

Barbara and I got a kick out of this woman's green wig, but that's not the only thing in this picture we got a kick out of, if you take a closer look at the side of the building behind her... will see the Mini Cooper!

B and I also got a kick out of this!

And I love looking up at the buildings (with Barbara as my guide crossing streets and making sure I don't knock into an unsuspecting pedestrian). I love the mix of the old and new architecture in the city, but of course my favorite is the old. Such character! Just look at the dentil crown molding on the exterior of that old building! And the old church next to it with the turret that looks like a castle!

Our first stop was the Regal Theater to see "Lord of the Dance", the 3-D movie starring Michael Flatly. The theater was great, with wonderfully plush, comfortable seating! And afterwards we stopped for a nice leisurely lunch here:

We were thinking about stopping at an Irish Pub for fish and chips, or eating the traditional corned beef and cabbage, or stopping at one of the Pig & Whistle's but they were packed! So we opted for this pretty little French restaurant.

We were seated at a table by these big windows:

We shared a delicious appetizer of grilled octopus and grilled squid, and we should have shared our entree of grilled salmon because we were way too full to try any of their desserts! The food was scrumptious!

And I loved the restaurant and the decor:

And I love that they kept the old tile floors!

Then we walked uptown and made a quick pass by the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center...

...on our way to St. Patrick's Cathedral (still undergoing renovations, so there is still lots of scaffolding over the doorways):

Once inside we made our way to the front where there was an altar set up in honor of St. Patrick's Day:

I like how they used the green candles here:

Then B and I made our way over to Radio City Music Hall where we saw Celtic Woman. Absolutely beautiful voices! The show was fantastic, and everyone was on their feet, cheering and clapping, and we had great seats:

From the picture I took of our seats, it looks like they played to an empty theater doesn't it? ( It astonishes me how late people come to shows!)
But you can see from the crowd in the lobby after the show that it was a packed house!

Barbara and I were catching the eleven o'clock bus home, and it amazes me how at that hour there is still lots of people and lots of traffic, you would think it was the middle of the afternoon:

We also celebrated Ray's birthday over the weekend. He wanted a cranberry/apple cake/pie thing that we saw on the show "The Barefoot Contessa", but we couldn't get cranberries so I tried it with cherry and apple instead:

He loved it (and so did my sister Diane). I liked it a lot, but the cake topping was a little too sweet for me.

We had the usual crowd but because I wasn't feeling too well, and our daughter-in-law Lori is due to deliver Sophie in a few weeks, they didn't want to chance getting sick, and I don't blame them. We were disappointed not to have them there, and Jayden was especially disappointed not to have Mia. But he had lots of fun outside playing sword fights and wrestling (I don't know what happened with those pictures, they are just a white blur) with Christian. And Brian's girlfriend Flora was very good about occupying him too.

Here's Jayden enjoying a game of 'Tic Tac Toe' with Flora:

Flora is a first grade teacher in a very poor school in the Bronx. She was happy to take some of Jayden and Mia's books for her students, and since Ray and I are trying to purge our house, we were happy to send her off with three boxes full of books!

And here's Ducky Jayden:

And here Flora encouraged him to camouflage himself just in case there were any duck hunters about!

It was a fun few days, and then a not-so-fun few days for me being sick. But I think I'm on the road to recovery now, and we are looking forward to our new little granddaughter making her entrance on March 31!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Spirit of Ireland, Annie Moore, and the "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears"

While visiting Myrtle Beach my Aunt Florence treated us to the show "The Spirit of Ireland" at the Palace Theater:

It was a great show and I enjoyed it a lot but I was afraid that Jayden wouldn't enjoy the show much at all. When we were traveling back to New York I asked him what his favorite part of the trip was and of course he said, "The Knights show" (we had taken him to see Medieval Times). And when I asked him what his second favorite thing was, I thought he'd say either playing at the beach, or maybe the alligators he saw, or golfing with Ray, but to my surprise he said, "The Irish show"!
And just this week I was listening to the song "Isle of Hope" and he said to me, "Oh this song was in the Irish show that Aunt Florence took us too. It's really nice, right?"

The Celtic dancers and singers were wonderful. And, of course I got tears in my eyes when I heard "O Danny Boy" and "Isle of Hope" sung.

The Celtic singers from the show:

I always feel so emotional whenever I think of Ellis Island, and I think of all the immigrants that left their homes to come to our shores, and to make new homes and new lives here in a new land. And I feel so grateful that Ray and I both had a few brave relatives who decided to come to America!

I imagine that so many of them were happy and hopeful with dreams of starting new lives here.

And I imagine that many more of them were sad to leave their lives, and their homelands, and much of their family and many friends behind.

I wonder how many of them were wistful and longing for the home of their birth?

When I hear the song "Isle of Hope" I think not only of Annie Moore, and not only of the Irish immigrants, but about all immigrants who braved leaving the country of their birth, and who braved leaving their old lives behind to come to America.

Annie's story is just one of many immigrant stories.
From 1820 to 1920 more than four million people from Ireland came to America, and one of those Irish immigrants was Annie Moore. When Ellis Island officially opened on January 1, 1892, the first person registered was Annie.
She traveled from County Cork with her two younger brothers aboard the SS Nevada as a steerage class passenger. They spent over a week at sea including Christmas Day. They arrived in New York on December 31, and they were processed through Ellis Island the following morning, New Year's Day. Annie was presented with a $10 coin.

Annie and her brothers at Ellis Island:

The children were then reunited with their parents who had left Ireland to prepare their new life in America. Annie lived with her family at 32 Monroe Street in Manhattan for a few years before marrying Joseph Augustus Schayer in 1895.
The couple had eleven children, only five survived to adulthood. Annie went on to spend the rest of her days as one of the poor Irish immigrants on the lower East Side until she died in 1924 at the age of forty-seven.

Her body was in an unmarked grave in Queens Calvary Cemetery until donations were made in 2006 to purchase a tombstone for her:

There are two statues in honor of Annie, one in Ireland at her port of departure, and one at Ellis Island.

~ Isle of Hope ~

God Bless our immigrant ancestors and God Bless this wonderful melting pot we are privileged to call "Home"!