Friday, April 27, 2007

Are you ready for some fooootball??!!

This phrase always make me think of my friend Susanne's dad. Susanne and I lived on the same hall our freshman year in college. We didn't know each other very well when I asked her to go with me to my high school boyfriend's fraternity formal. She would be his big brother's date. The only problem was that the formal was at his college in PA. Mike flew both of us up there on what we later determined was "The Road Trip From Hell". What could go wrong on this trip did. We had to fly on 2 prop planes - one of the planes was shaped like a trapezoid! It was a rough trip, and when we got to PA, we found out that our bags were left on the runway back in VA. Those would be the same bags that contained our formal dresses! Needless to say we didn't actually make it to that formal. That was the beginning of a long and deep friendship.

We pledged the same sorority later that year, which only furthered cemented our friendship. She was my rock when my brother was killed. She was one of only 2 people that I could actually unburden my emotions to in those horrible months following Brian's death. I would sit with her and just cry, and she just let me get it all out. We took care of each other in those years.

By our senior year, we lived in the on-campus apartments, next door to each other. I remember when Waco happened - Susanne ran from her back door to mine, jumping between our patios and stubbing the heck out of her toe.

Our senior year we traveled to FL for Spring Break with a few other friends. This was the year that there was the freak blizzard in March of '93. Three of the people we were with decided to head back to school to avoid the storm. I had to give a deposition for the trial against the man who killed my brother and I couldn't leave with them. Susanne stayed behind with me (thereby ensuring that my parents will love her forever!!). That last night we were there, we had a tornado warning, and everyone in my house slept in the hallway. For some reason, I slept long ways in the hall and got a great night sleep - everyone else slept the short way, including Susanne, and were exhausted the next day.

When graduation weekend happened, neither of us were really ready to face "real life", so we both just sort of ignored it -yeah, we'll be back next year. Next year came, and we weren't back in school. We were "grown ups", working for a living. Susanne stayed in Richmond while I was all over the place.

When I was in a really bad car accident while living in NJ, Susanne dropped everything and came up to help me out. She went to the impound lot to get my personal items, and said that she was horrified at the state of the car - she had no idea how I made it out alive. When Susanne's boyfriend dumped her, she was a wreck, and I headed down I-95 to be there for her. That's the kind of friends we have always been.

Susanne moved to Colorado back in the late 90's. Distance didn't even affect our friendship. We were still there for each other through the thick and thin - boyfriends coming and going, depression, we were there for each other.

And now, I need to be there for her despite our distance again. Susanne's dad passed away after a long battle with brain cancer in the early morning hours of April 16th, 2007. She called me on the following Friday to let me know that she and her son would be leaving the next day for NY. Her father's memorial service was today. I wanted to try and get up there for her, but was unable to with the 3 boys. I have been praying for her and her mom and sisters during this dark time. Logically she, and I, know that her dad isn't in pain any more and that he is in a better place. Emotionally, however, sometimes that's hard to remember.

So if you wouldn't mind, say a prayer for Susanne and her family. She would ask the same for me. May your soul be at peace, Dr. Argamaso, and may eternal rest be granted unto you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rock 'n Roll - 4/23/07



Update of Little Colin

Colin is such a joyful baby. We are so blessed to have him as part of our family. He loves smiling, snuggling and "talking". Here's my pictorial update on this little 4.5 month old dumpling.

Practicing my pull-ups.

I LOVE blowing bubbles!

Boy, is this hand tasty!

Virginia Bluebells

There is nothing so splendid as bluebells in spring,
They are so amazing I just long to sing,
Praises to God up in heaven above
For showing me through nature, his everlasting love.

Yesterday was a glorious day. My dad and I took Brian, Sean and Colin to Bull Run Park to experience the bluebells in all of their glory. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had seen Elizabeth's pictures of her children running around the bluebells, but wasn't quite sure what the day would hold for my little guys. Both my dad and I were surprised at the exquisite beauty of all of the bluebells. The banks of the river were literally covered with a sea of blue. And the smell! My dad and I don't have the greatest smellers in the world, but the lovely aroma of all of those flowers permeated even our noses.

The boys had the BEST time! They wore their new boots, and really broke them in.
They tromped through the mud,

looked at geese,
played in the flowers,
and "fished" in the water.
They were thoroughly muddy,
and absolutely happy at the end of the day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hail, hail, the gang's all here...

After a LONG 10 days, Chris is home from his trip around the world. He left on Easter Monday and headed over to England for a couple of days. Then he skipped over to Australia where he was for about a week. He left Australia on Thursday afternoon, and arrived back in San Francisco about 3 hours before he left (with that whole 14 hour time difference)!

I had the boys take an extra long nap today, and after baths, we got in our jammies - okay, I didn't even though I wanted to ;-) - and got in the car to go get Daddy at around 9:30 tonight. Brian and Sean were SO excited all day long about going to the airport to get their daddy. Brian woke up from his nap and the first thing he said to me was, "Are we going to get Daddy now?" While Sean was getting his jammies on he said, in his oh so excited voice, "We go to get Daddy!!" When we finally picked him up, Brian told Chris, "When we get home, I'm going to give you biggest hugs and kisses!" I think Chris is almost as excited to be home as we are that he is home. We survived this time without him, but I'm much happier having him back here with me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My heart is breaking

Since becoming a mother, news takes on a whole new perspective for me. Almost 8 years ago, 2 children walked into Columbine High School and went on a shooting rampage that killed 12 students and 1 teacher as well as injuring 24 other students before the killers turned the guns on themselves. I remembered being shocked and saddened. When I went out to Denver the following year, I was fascinated by where the high school was and if we could drive by it - it was a kind of obsession with trying to understand what could make these 2 students commit this horrific act.

Yesterday, the Columbine shooting was bumped from the second deadliest school shooting, behind the 1966 University of Texas shooting, to the third deadliest, after Cho Seung-hui went on a shooting spree that killed 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech University and became the worst school shooting in this country's history.

I found out about the shooting from my mom when I called her on my way home from Atrium. I didn't really understand the scope of this tragedy until I got home and turned the television on. All of a sudden, my stomach dropped, and I felt sick, so sick to my stomach. My thoughts immediately turned to the parents of these students who were killed. My next thought went to my brother and sister-in-law who live in Blacksburg, and my littlest sister who goes to college nearby. My mom told me that everyone in my family was safe, so once again, my thoughts turned to the children who were gunned down in the prime of their lives. I tried to imagine their fear as they realized what was happening. As they looked at this monster, were they praying? Were they calling out for their moms and dads? And my mind went to my children. Becoming a mother has changed things for me. Now, I can almost feel these parents keening pain at the loss of their child.

My sister Kellie has a long time friend who lives on the same floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall that the murders first took place. Emily told Kellie that she had gotten up at around 6:30 to go to the bathroom and then went back to bed. She was woken up around 7:30 to banging on the door and people yelling at the students to get out of their rooms and downstairs. I can only imagine the confusion that surrounded Emily, a girl I watched grow up, and all of the other students in that dorm. Kellie found out that everyone that she knows who goes to VA Tech were all accounted for. She and a number of her friends attended the convocation held today on the campus of VA Tech.

Cho Seung-hui then went back to his dorm room and waited 2 hours before going over to Norris Hall, where he chained the doors shut, and began his shooting spree. As I watch the news, I keep getting more information about some of the victims of this tragedy. The shooter went to high school right near where Chris works. 7 of the students were from this area. One of the victims was one of this country's foremost bio-tech engineers and was working on a cure for cerebral palsy. Another professor who died was a survivor of the Holocaust, and died protecting his students - he held the door shut and when the shooter broke through the door, Liviu Mibrescu threw himself in front of the shooter so that his students could continue escaping out the window. I would like to think that I would be that selfless if I were in that situation.

I look at my children and pray for the strength to be able to let them go one day. As my dad say, we can't raise our children in a bubble - but gosh I'd like to be able to protect them, but know that I can't keep them safe forever. There is evil out there. It touched my life as a young woman in college when a drunk driver took the life of my 3 year old brother Brian. I learned about the pain of loss years ago. As a parent, I can't totally understand what my parents have gone through, but I have a glimpse of it when I think about my own children. Lord, please grant the parents and families of those who were killed your peace.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Jesus Christ is Risen Today...

Okay, so this is a bit over a week late, but since we are in the Easter season, I figured it is still appropriate.

Easter at our home was a wonderful experience this year. I started on Good Friday by walking Brian and Sean through the Passion of Our Lord. The night before I printed off, colored and laminated with magnets, pictures starting from the Agony in the Garden, through Christ being placed in the tomb. We put the "rock" over the hole in the tomb and left it there through Sunday morning.

Saturday night our friends David and Daniella came over to watch the boys so that Chris and I could go on a "date" to the Easter Vigil. I had never experienced an Easter Vigil before, and I am SOO blessed to have experienced this Mass with Chris and Father Pollard. We began the Mass outside where Father blessed the fire and lit the new Easter candle. As we processed back inside, the altar boys were going through the crowd lighting everyones candles with flame from the Easter candle. We all got back to our seats and said some prayers. During this time, Father Buckner was fiddling with his drip catcher on his candle. At the exact moment that Father P. told everyone to blow out their flames, Father B's drip catcher went UP in flames!! He was frantically blowing at it, and then just dropped it on the floor and was stamping it out. Chris and I both later commented on how we just had this image of flowing vestments meeting up with flame. (My mother later said that would have made him a "friar" - get it?)

As we sat down in the dimly lit church, we began the reading of the Old Testament. 7 readings in all for those of you who have not attended a Vigil Mass before. I always thought that I would just be bored silly during all of those reading, but the opposite held true - I was fascinated by the whole thing. Then, we stood to sing "Glory to God in the Highest", and as the music rang out, the lights burst on and one of the altar boys began ringing the bells continuously throughout the whole joyful song. It was an amazing experience - I was so moved by the presence of God at that moment.

Father P's homily was outstanding (as usual). He spoke about how we have to remember the past in order to live fully in the present. He used the example of the people who come to confession who don't have a prayer life and how when they did in the past, life wasn't so hard, and they didn't sin so much. My favorite part of the homily however, was when he "took us back" to the dark days after Jesus died and the apostles were in the upper room with Mary. He said Peter believed in Our Lord, but never wanted him to have to go through the Passion to get to His Glory. He was probably "freaking out" that Jesus had died. James, who had wanted to be on Jesus' right hand, was trying to figure out what to do now. Andrew, the pragmatist, was kicking himself because they should have fought back. And through it all, Mary was right there, reminding these men to remember. "Remember when Our Lord said ____", "Remember when my son said___", "Remember when Jesus did___" She probably took these men back through everything that Jesus did and said in his ministry on earth to remind them of what needed to happen in order for Christ to fulfill his mission. It was an image I had never thought of - Mary leading these confused men and being their source of comfort during this horrific time.

After this amazing homily, it was beautiful to watch the men and women join our church - their faces so full of hope. It truly made me appreciate my faith. After Mass, Chris and I went up to Father P. and thanked him for this amazing experience.

Sunday morning dawned, and Brian, Sean and Colin came downstairs with their daddy to see the rock rolled back from the tomb and "Jesus missing". It was really neat to see their little minds wrap around it.

My dad was in Ireland with my sister Lori and her husband Lou over Easter weekend. I think he was able to find a Catholic church somewhere on the island! My mom was going to be by herself, but my sister Kellie came home for the weekend. Mom came over for brunch on Sunday morning. We had a really nice time together. We didn't get a chance to see Kellie - she was spending time with Chris - a friend from college - and his family. We had David and Daniella back over for Easter dinner that night.

I must toot my own horn on my dinner. This was the first time I had hosted Easter dinner, and decided not to go with the traditional ham or turkey. Here's the menu -
Filet Mignon with Mustard Sauce
Spinach, Strawberry and Hearts of Palm Salad
Garlic Roasted Asparagus
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Daniella made dessert - a yummy chocolate mousse with toffee. Delish!

Easter is a wonderful day of celebrating the mystery of Our Lord, and this year it was everything I could have hoped for.

Friday, April 06, 2007


Since I am breastfeeding Colin, I won't be fasting in the usual way. However, since it is Good Friday, I will be fasting from the Internet. Ash Wednesday showed me what a sacrifice this is, but I think I can handle it given what Christ went through for me. Please say an extra prayer for my Gramma McDonald - she is being interred today. She is in the same urn that my grandfather's ashes were in before they were sprinkled over "Grandpa's Ocean".

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Has it really been 2 years already?

2 years ago we were on death watch. Waiting for the inevitable - Pope John Paul II to go home to the Lord.

This is the only pope that I remember in my lifetime. I know there were other popes, but from the time I can remember, John Paul II was the man in charge here on earth.

I don't know why, but I distinctly remember having a conversation with my dad about the election of a new pope. I remember when the white smoke showed up. It's one of those memories from my youth that is emblazoned in my mind.

2 years ago, I was also mourning the death of my great aunt Jane - my dad's aunt. She was such a wonderful woman, and she ended up dying about a month before our beloved Papa. I know she was there in heaven waiting for his arrival.

And now, 2 years after Jane and John Paul II's deaths, my beloved Gramma McDonald has joined them in heaven. She was a good and faithful servant here in this life, and I know that she is reunited with my Grampa, and my little brother Brian. And I know that Papa welcomed her home as well.

Brian was so good at the wake - he wanted to come up with me to the casket and say a Hail Mary for "Gigi". He told me that Gigi is in heaven with Mary and Jesus. Yes, Brian, Gigi has gone home and Jesus and Mary welcomed her with open arms.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Who wants a Dyson? I do, I do!!!

Found this contest where they are giving away a new Dyson Slim. Here's hoping the #667 brings good luck :-) Remember to enter before April 4th.