Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm Off to a Scrapbooking Feis........

Yes....everything has a FESTIVAL.




My two cousins and I are headed for Buffalo, NY today to attend the Creating Keepsakes Annual Convention.

They promise to have fabulous vendors for us to buy even MORE scrapbook supplies a 4-hour cropping session this evening and we're each taking 3 workshops tomorrow. We made this decision to go before the gas prices got crazy-wild, but what the heck, we'll share the expense and let's face it ladies, we'll do anything for our craft, right?


Lude showed me an article in the newspaper yesterday that Joann Fabrics has turned a hefty profit this past year. I have to say in all the years that I've used Joann Fabrics, throughout my various "craft" phases, they have been THE store. They've always been very prompt about jumping right into what I call "the craft of the day". I sewed a lot when my children were young (remember all those matching outfits, girls???) and did home projects like pillows and curtains and stuff. But, then, it was macrame, candlemaking, soap making, knitting, cross-stitch, and framing, and beading and now scrapbooking. And then came Archivers.....ahhhhh. We love the Archivers, don't we Cheryl!?


Shortly after my Mother passed away, my father handed me a big box full of pictures and I decided that it wasn't how I wanted to pass on my own pictures to my own children. My Aunt Katie gave me a box of pictures too, because she knew I'd do something with them where she didn't know what to do. I love to do it, and it gives me a purpose. I scrap forwared and backwards....that's my plan. I work on whatever pictures I take these days and then, I try to keep up with the backwards scrapbooking; I'm back to 2004 now. I've begun to dabble in digital scrapbooking, but the only thing I don't like about it is that it keeps me AT the computer for so long whereas working with the papers and embellishments is so much more physical.


But, we're going to have a great time, it's a great reatreat after the Feis weekend.


We're shuffling off to Buffalo...........

Thursday, May 29, 2008

J on the Jade.....................

I'm not sure how long the article will be featured on this website, but here's the direct link.
Take a look........she's having a good time!




Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I DECLARE IT SUMMER ALREADY................

That's it.....the Feis is over, Memorial Day is behind us and the hummingbirds have returned! So, I officially declare that it is summer despite what meteorologists might say. And yesterday was officially the last day for complaints! About winter, spring, rain and not in the least, the Feis!
Memorial Day weekend has always been a special weekend for my family. For 51 years, it's been about the Feis and nothing else, pretty much.
On Friday, the Ludinator and I actually had a chance to do 9 holes of golf - so we were very happy. I was very reluctant to go with all the work I had to do, but I'm glad that L pushed me to go because it was very unwinding; I got a little anxiety out and he knew that would happen - I hate when he's right. Judy arrived in town from Arkansas and after 18 holes of golf with her brothers, she came to dinner. We chatted for the better part of the evening and then she was off to Akron. She judged all day in Akron on Saturday while L and I helped where we could to set up for the Cleveland Feis in the morning. We were able to meet with Nick and the kids at his hotel before going down to the Feis hotel to pre-register dancers.

Sunday was a great day - there's always a complaint or two, but for the most part, it was a great day. I realize that there are a number of things that can be addressed to make the day better and some of those involve my area, so I will address those and hope that the committee will go along with it. I've worked for MONTHS to make sure everyone's entry is just right so that on the day of the feis, when we do not take changes, I don't encounter any serious problems. It's disheartening when I get a family with an incorrect entry in front of me that morning. It's the hardest part of this job - to say no. But, they have so many opportunities to ensure a correct entry and sometimes I just have to put the responsibility for the mistake back on their shoulders and hope that they take it with enthusiasm and not strike out at us in all the very numerous ways that they can!

Below are pictures taken on Saturday and Sunday.

Pre-Registration for the Cleveland Feis
at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
Downtown Cleveland

The registration area at 7AM on Feis day at the
Wolstein Center of Cleveland State University

This is the tabulating room hard at work.

A small section of the arena bowl where most of the competitions are held.

The organization that has sponsored the STATE OF OHIO CHAMPIONSHIP
event held annually at the Cleveland Feis has withdrawn their sponsorship and
it is now sponsored by our Dad


This year, there was a tie and here is Dad with the two winners.

After the Feis, it is our tradition to all gather together for dinner and to spend time with those that have come from out of town to attend the Feis. We had dinner at the new LoneTree Restaurant and then, we talked and sang late into the night on the patio. We don't often get such good weather on the day of the Cleveland Feis, but this year was an exception.


The Ludinator and Dad got up at 5:30 AM to get down to the college for the Feis. This was probably taken around 12:30 AM the next day! L's never felt the middle-of-the night Irish blood transfusions that I've been secretly giving him because, surely, no Ukrainian could tolerate two days of Feisanna and then the late night reveling quite like him. Truly, he's got the Irish blood in him somewhere!


And here's our very own "Judge Judy" or as seen in this picture "Queen Judy" with her royal wave.


My nephew is seen here giving us a bit of the Brit in him....his mother is quite entertained


And, our niece Kaetlyn relaxes.


Laraine and Sean....we got to see the other side of Sean that night!


Below are pictures of my Kemock family who just don't understand the whole "FEIS WEEKEND" thing and continue to schedule picnics and reunions galore! Imagine.....it's Feis weekend and people have the nerve to graduate, make their first communion or get married on THAT weekend. What's up with that? It's okay - we still have fun; I go when I can and send representatives when I can't. I have a number of dedicated entry helpers that are willing to do some of the Saturday afternoon chores for me so that I can go and spend a little time with the Kemocks. Scott and Nicole came from Virginia and I haven't seen them and the boys for a couple years, so I'm glad that I got a chance to go.....thanks to Michelle who went to Akron for me in the afternoon. Nick and Kara came from Florida and it was good to see them also.

Nicholas, Cameron, McKeely and Andrew

Kara and her new dog

On Monday, Judy had a late flight, so we visited with Dad in his apartment and then we went to the driving range where L and I got a great private golf lesson from our own accomplished golf pro, Judy. We had dinner and shopped a little and then off she went back to Arkansas


And it was a glorious, successful Feis weekend.......we missed having PJ here - but, you can't have everything. We're happy that he is able to recover from his eye surgery with such flying colors and we're more than happy to trade that for having him here.


Till next year, keep this in mind..........Relax......Don't make a big Feis out of it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So.....Whasssssssss Uppppppppppppppp?

kClare has her airline ticket for her cruise with J in July. She flies a red-eye, non-stop flight to England and then she'll meet up with the Second City cast and spend a night in England taking in the sights. I know she's looking forward to it......it's going to be a great way to wind down before beginning school. We've decided not to take our "July 4th" trip to Chicago to visit with her, but I am going to go on the MegaBus.....WOOOHOOOO. We'll be heading to Chicago to help her move down to ISU around the end of July - so we'll get to spend additional time with her then.

Talked with J this morning and she's doing great. Second City is still trying to work out to have several from the cast repeat their contract and sign on through November....how great is that? She'll see a lot of the same ports, but some new ones as well.

The cast has mixed things up and it's J's turn to have her own room and apparently, she'll have it through the end of July now. She's very happy. She hasn't had to share a room with anyone since college and it's been an adjustment. It must be an inside room, because she says it's very dark and it's great sleeping. When kClare arrives, they'll have the room to themselves and J is looking forward to kClare coming.

I got a chance to "grill" J about the ship accident that took place. The internet had this to say about it: "A small technical steering mishap on the NORWEGIAN JADE (formally PRIDE OF HAWAII), while the ship was proceeding at a 22 knot speed between Venice and Naples at 9:00 PM local time on May 12, 2008. An issue with the gyro-compasses caused the ship to turn sharply to port, resulting in an eight degree list that spilled water from pools and the spa and toppled a buffet. There were no injuries and the captain provided a quick, thorough update to the passengers assuring them that the ship was never in danger. The JADE continued her twelve night cruise (which began at Istanbul, Turkey on May 5 and will conclude at Barcelona, Spain, on May 17) without any further incident." I asked her what she was doing when it happened and she said that she and Cody (another cast member) were waiting in line to enter the dining room when the ship began to tilt, but never stopped. Next thing she knew, when she looked out the window she could see the water coming toward them and Cody saying "this isn't supposed to be happening". Then she could hear the sounds of the dishes and people from the dining room. The pools did spill out and down into the stairwells damaging the carpets which they replaced immediately and flooding one of the elevators. If she weren't with Cody, I can imagine that she might be much more frightened then she probably was.....so, thanks to Cody for being with her. But, can you imagine being in one of those stairwells and having water come at you? YIKES.......like something straight out of a movie! She said the evening was riddled with announcements but everything else seemed to be okay.


They had a show later that night and were able to use the mishap to their advantage - making people feel a little more comfortable about it.



I don't know....it would take a little more than a bunch of comedians to make me feel good about being tossed out of my dining room chair and into my soup!


I've included some pictures of her trip.......to Cairo and a few of the cast performing although they're dark.



















It'll be a few days before I can post again........it's Feis weekend coming up and everything's pretty crazy...........

Friday, May 16, 2008

Is it Possible........

That our baby is 26 today!?

On the day that she was born, we had a visitor staying with us from England. Maureen is my father's niece, my cousin, and I remember her being very anxious in the early morning when I had to wake her to tell her we were leaving her alone with J (who was 3) so that we could go and have kClare.
At the time that we brought her home, I was quite prepared for what was to come. I knew from when J was an infant that you were probably going to get up several times during the night. We'd just gotten cable in the community and I was ready. Had the bottles ready to go, the cable guide and the channel changer.................and what? She never got up.

She was a good sleeper at night....but during the day, she never slept. She didn't fuss - in fact, I'd lay her in the little cradle and pull the cradle underneath the window and I would sit in the yard with J and the neighbors and come over to check on her and there she would be.....laying awake, never fussing, just awake. I guess better to be awake during the day.

She showed her artistic side very early in life. Everyday she had to spend quiet time coloring and creating. And, whenever I would sew, she'd be right there at my heels, taking the scraps (even out of the trash) and making them into something. She has a zest for life like you don't often see and she's all giving while always being true to herself.

kClare, you were my "dress-up" girl, my "cuddler", my "helper" girl, my "dancer" girl....my everything, girl. You've always made us so proud to be your parents.

I consider myself very lucky to have such a wonderful daughter.

Happy Birthday kClare - wish we could be there with you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It seems in the middle of May.
Comes National Limerick Day.
And being that I'm Irish
I have but just one wish
That I had something more interesting to say!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's Mother's Day..............


And, I'm working. Boo-Hoo.

But, my girls are not here.....everyone else in the department is spending time with their kids. And, that's the way it's supposed to be. Better that I'm working - giving them the free time to do something very fun and Motherish with their kids.

kClare is busy trying to keep things together. She's working for the theatre and now at Einstein Bagel up the block to help with the bills. She's having "roommate issues" (I'm working up a witches brew for that!) and then there's the lease renewal (and the fact that jJoy doesn't know for sure if she's going to be there) and trying to figure out how she'll get from downtown Chicago to Normal in August for school. That's a lot.

jJoy is sailing somewhere near Venice. The cast of Second City has expanded their circle of friends to now include the dancers and singers from the NCL crew. They're traveling and sightseeing together and having fun.

That's my kids.....always moving.

They've made me a very proud Mother........on Mother's Day and everyday.

Today at church, the priest recited this poem and I thought it was fun enough to pass along......


Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby....
Somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother, 'normal' is history.
Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct...
Somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.
Somebody said being a mother is boring...
Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.
Somebody said if you're a 'good' mother, your child will 'turn out good'....
Somebody thinks a child comes with directions and a guarantee.
Somebody said you don't need an education to be a mother....
Somebody never helped a fourth grader with his math.
Somebody said you can't love the second child as much as you love the first....
Somebody doesn't have two children.
Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery....
Somebody never watched her 'baby' get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten.....or on a plane headed for military 'boot camp.'
Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married....
Somebody doesn't know that marriage adds a new son or daughter-in-law to a mother's heartstrings.
Somebody said a mother's job is done when her last child leaves home....
Somebody never had grandchildren.
Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don't need to tell her....
Somebody isn't a mother.

Happy Mother's Day to all my family and friends........

And, to my own Mother who I miss everyday......Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Celebrating......

Last night, we attended an event to honor a lady that has been a part of my life and the lives of my family since we were small children. Tessie was our Irish Dancing teacher for more years than I can even remember. She taught all six of us kids to dance....she gave all six of us a part of our life that changed us forever; shaped our future in a way that very few other things have.

We grew up around her children......spending precious time together even when we weren't dancing. And, last night I had a chance to talk with one of her girls for awhile about just what an impact Tessie has had on our lives. I told her that I remember when I was in my late teens and ready to move on from Irish Dancing (by that time one of the boys had started a school of his own and the younger boys had stopped dancing) that it was confusing to me that our families no longer spent time together as we had when we were younger. I told her that I remembered wondering what happened and that it took me a long time to figure out that for Tessie, if she stayed as connected to every family as she did to us, she wouldn't have any time left to teach dancing; to do her business. We have a lot of memories of times spent together and I remember missing it very much and being very sad that she'd moved on. During the summer months, she would take a few of us out to her house from the class and we'd either help her with a dance class, or help her with the kids (the littler ones) or just plain help her around the house. She let us be the kids we couldn't be while we were at home - running wild - running amok!

Our two families traveled to Feisanna together all stuffed into a station wagon driven either by Frank or my Dad. Their two boys (whoever was dancing at the time - because, you know, if you AREN'T going to dance you AREN'T going to the feis) and our 3 younger boys and us girls. It's amazing how many kids we could cram into the back of that thing. We'd have families meet us at "EVA'S" out on Pearl Road where parents would drop off kids and then pick them back up after a trip to Buffalo or Detroit. And the side trips we'd make as families traveling together - to Niagara Falls for example, were such fun.....a much simpler time than now. And, after dance classes, we'd stop at McDonald's so that Patsy could get her "plain grilled cheese" and then we'd go to "Manners" (or Big Boy) for their luscious burgers and fries.

And, who could forget the long trip to NYC, again, all crammed into the back of a station wagon (or two), when Laura G. gave Frank several "bars" of Ex-Lax telling him it was yummy chocolate. He swore at her all day the next day......from the bathroom, of course! Frank was a good guy....God Rest His Soul. They were good friends to my parents. Mom and Tessie used to get into some serious trouble together!

During my conversation last night with Tessie's daughter, she described it (as we all do) to be "the best time of her life" and that she is glad that she had that experience because she didn't think it was true of today. I disagreed with her when I told her that I think every kid has "the best time of their life" in Irish Dancing and that maybe she was just looking at it from the 1960's perspective. It's just a different "time", that's all. Sure, every family starts out trying to provide their darling with a little bit of the Irish heritage, the knowledge of the dance and music. But, then it ultimately and quickly leads to the competitive lifestyle that only appears to be different than it was in the 60's. The hair is bigger, the dresses are flashier and the lighting doesn't come from a car's headlight. It's just a natural progression of the art.

But either way......Tessie gave us a lot more than she thinks she has. She's touched our hearts in a way that leaves us saddened that we no longer have the connection we once had. She said a few words last night about how we're all one big happy dancing family; people with the Irish dancing disease. But it's so much more than just that.

Do you think she has ANY idea, really?

Here's a picture of our two families together.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TODAY......


Is national no-diet day!

I wanted to do my part to keep this very special national holiday going! I baked cookies....AND I ate them!

Then.....I ate a bag of my favorites - peanut m&m's.

Yummmm-O

Monday, May 5, 2008

It's TWO-4-ONE Day on the Blog..........


jJoy and I made plans to "rendezvous" on the Norwegian Jade webcam this morning at 9AM our time.....which is 4PM Turkey time!
So, typical of me, I didn't stop to think that the thing might be on a &@)$ time delay.
I have today off of work and although there's plenty to do, I'm here in the kitchen on the laptop glued to the webcam waiting to see a picture.
It's been an interesting "journey"......I've visited the webcam daily and I capture the pictures along the way, so I think it will make a cute little book of it's own when she returns.
We always said that somewhere along her journey, we'd try to "meet up" on that deck and save off those pictures. So, that's where we are now. I've gotten emails from her this morning saying "OK-I'm there! Do you see me!!??" But, nothing.
And, finally, we have a picture!
The first picture is of the deck without jJoy in the picture and the second is a picture of the deck with a TINY LITTLE FIGURE poised by the pool! Yep, that's her! It got a little cloudier from the first picture to the next.
It's funny because in all the pictures that I've saved off from the webcam I figured that pool of water was a hot tub or just a "tub" of water. But clearly, it's bigger than her. It gives me a better perspective of the boat.
Okay, I've seen her......I feel good......now if I could find some relief from my kClare withdrawal I'd feel even better......in the meantime.......it's time to wash windows!

The Last of the Little People.......








The Mangan family is indoctrinating one of the last of it's generation into the flock. Sara made her First Holy Communion yesterday and what a lovely day it was. Here's a picture of Sara and her Mom and Sara and her "when-am-I-going-to-be-the bride" sister, Mary. (You can click on the pictures to see a larger image.) And, also a picture of some of the braver party goers that stood outside in the brisk air. As usual, Erin did a bang-up hostess job; it's always fun to be at Erin's. Here's also, a picture of Erin and her brother Marty and sister Liz.......recently engaged!
SO, you know what that means????.............SERIOUS WEDDING HOOLIE.........stay tuned!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

COOOOOOOOKIES........................

I'm always a sucker for a really good cookie recipe. This one is from a book titled TOUGH COOKIE by Diane Mott Davidson

It was my co-worker Eileen, that turned me onto the cookies and of course the book. They're fabulous when warm.....but you have to follow the instructions.
Don't skimp on the ingredients - use "good" chocolate and don't cook them for more than about 12 minutes or so. They have a tendancy to crisp up after a day, I guess because of the butter. So, I've taken to mixing up the recipe and cooking a dozen at a time. OH, and the "mixing"....well, hopefully you have a KitchenAid stand-up mixer......or someone with a very strong arm! And, if you're one of my Weight Watcher friends, I'll deny that I eat these, so don't bother telling on me at a meeting!

Chocolate Coma Cookies
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 cup dried tart cherries
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two cookie sheets. In a nonstick pan, toast the almonds over medium low heat stirring constantly, for about 5-10 minutes, until they have just begun to turn brown and emit a nutty aroma. Turn out on a plate to cool. Chop the chocolate bars into small chunks, no larger than large chocolate chips, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cherries, chocolate chips, and oats, and set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat the mixture until well combined, about a minute. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and beat at low speed until well combined, less than a minute. Add chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, cherries, and nuts. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, mix well by hand, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Using a one-tablespoon scoop, measure out cookies onto sheets, leaving two inches between cookies. (About a dozen per sheet.) Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies have set and are slightly flattened and light brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes, then transfer on racks to cool completely.

ENJOY !

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 1st is a National Day of Prayer...............

So today, I pray to Saint Clare of Assisi who is among other things, a patron saint of eyes and eye diseases. Today, my brother had surgery to correct a detached retina.....the prospect of loosing your eyesight has to be a very scary thing. St Clare of Assisi went on to establish the Order of the Poor Clares and is also (among other things) a patron saint of TV......apparently when she became too sick to attend daily Mass, the image of the mass appeared on the wall of her room. (I wonder if they had widescreen back then.)
But really, I pray that my brother's eyes recover fully and that he enjoys a lifetime of good vision.
He was scheduled to make a visit up north here at the end of the month, but that's not going to happen now since he is unable to fly for six weeks. He's also flat on his back for a week....that has to be a funny sight!
So, maybe I should find a patron saint of boredom!