Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Weekly Report via Josie*

*Photos for this posting were taken by Josie

This past week we had a lot of fun. Last Saturday, our friends Nick and Mary stopped in for an overnight visit. They were on their way to spend a week in the sunshine of Palm Desert with Nick's parents. We had to fore go our visit to their home in Massachusetts last year because of the move. It had been a year since we had all spent time together. We were all so excited to be together!

Nick and Mary came bearing gifts - fresh lemons and grapefruits picked from Nick's grandparents trees! Talk about 'freshly squeezed' lemonade!! Yum! Uncle Fred also came by - he lives the next town over from us - to visit with his grade school pals.

Nick & Mary left for the desert on Sunday morning. James headed off to Washington, DC later that night. The girls and I returned to our school day routines. The week went by quickly.

I spent a great deal of time nursing our 10 year old Jack Russell, Casey. She had been getting progressively worse with infection. Casey was diagnosed with a MRSA infection in her nose earlier this year. She developed a severe ear infection last week and it seemed the infection was taking over her body. We have been fighting the infection with strong antibiotics, nose drops, a sulfa drug and a steroid. Most of my time was consumed with figuring out how to get the medications into her - she turned her nose up at a chunk of ribeye steak, knowing her pill was inside it! I even smashed the tablets, added a bit of water and put the mixture into a syringe. When I went to put the mixture into her mouth (I swear I had the syringe half-way down her throat!) she let the mixture slide out the side of her mouth! Very clever dog. My final solution, and the one that is actually working, is to crush all her pills into powder and mix them into an egg and then scramble the egg. Works like a charm and she cleans her bowl. On Thursday, her vet told me there was nothing more they could do for her - so I tried to prepare the girls for the possibility that Casey could be going to 'doggy heaven'. I cried on the phone to James and then my Mom & Dad - we all love our dogs like members of the family... I was distraught at the thought of losing Casey.

It seems she has turned the corner. She started to perk up a bit on Friday. Yesterday, James and I tended to her for a good part of the day. She's looking better, not sneezing and coughing, and showing a bit of her old enthusiasm. Fingers crossed, we'll whip this infection and she will return to her healthy, active self.

Finally, we received some photos of my nephew Zack's Junior Prom. This occasion was bittersweet. In November, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that they were closing Zack's school. Northeast Catholic is an all-boy high school with a long, proud tradition of excellence. Zack was attending on full scholarship. His is the last class that will wear the school ring. So, this was also the last Junior Prom to be held by the school. So sad. Zack will have to finish high school in a new school - can you imagine having to transfer to a new school as a senior?!? Ugh. Here's Zack and his date, Jen and also the group of his friends that all went to Prom together. They all look stunning!

Hope you have a wonderful week ahead! Can you believe that May is around the corner?!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taylor Swift & The Girls

Back in October, I bought 4 tickets for Maddie to attend the Taylor Swift concert at the Staples Center in L.A. The tickets were to be a Sweet 16 Birthday gift. And they were. Tonight Maddie, Madison, Hailey & Elyssa hit the town in style - complements of Dad.

Originally, James was going to take the girls to the concert. However, when this week rolled around we realized that he was chairing an industry conference in South Carolina. The idea of getting the girls up to LA and back with a 5 year old in tow was, to say the least, discomforting. So, Dad to the rescue! James ordered up a limo for the girls. This was a huge treat and the girls enjoyed having all the neighbors come out and wish them well.

The limo driver was a wonderful gentleman. As soon as the girls were in the car they loaded a CD and started blasting their music. I looked at the gentleman and said, "Oh you poor man, You're going to have headache by the time you get up there!" He responded, " Ma'am, I would much rather deal with noisy girls than drunk adults. Don't you worry about a thing, your girls will be safe." Once the girls reached the arena, he walked them to the door and made sure they were past the ticket takers and then called me at home to let me know they arrived safely. He also gave the girls his cell phone number and told them to call him when they were leaving the show. He met them at the exit and escorted them back to the car. He even stopped and escorted them into a Subway shop so they could grab something to eat on the way home! I can't tell you how thankful I am for that man's kindness and concern.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Break Wrap-Up

It's taken me a bit of time to get back to everything I put off while my sister and nephews were here visiting. Of course, the Earthquake we experienced over the Easter weekend was the big news. It was a first for all of us, except James. Very weird, but something to call home about!

We managed to see quite a bit while Suzanne and the boys were here. We visited the San Diego Zoo, which was fun. We managed to get lost a number of times within the zoo, which would have been funny if there wasn't a little girl who needed to use the restrooms! On our way to the zoo, we did a quick tour through the campus of UC San Diego. It is the top school in the country for psychology majors - which is something Maddie has expressed an interest in studying. It is a beautiful campus and I really think it inspired Maddie to continue visiting colleges in California.

James and Zachary took the long road trip up to Stanford for a campus tour. They left at 4AM on Saturday and returned home about 8 that evening. Quite a hike! Apparently, they made the trip in record time with the Viper... I was told not to do the math on that! Zack really enjoyed visiting the campus. We all are certain he will be accepted to his number one choice - University of Pennsylvania - but it's good to look at what else is out there. Zack has visited Princeton with his Dad and next he will visit Georgetown and George Washington University with his Aunt Claudine. As you can tell, Zack's going off to college is something our whole family is very excited about!

Maddie flew out to Pensacola, FL on Monday the 5th to spend the remainder of her Spring break with her friend Hailey's family. it was her first time flying on her own. She has travelled between DC and Detroit many times as an 'unescorted minor' to visit her dear friend, Leah. This was the first time, however that she did it by herself and had a terminal change in Dallas. She did great. We were on the phone with her as she made her way through the DFW airport to her ever-changing departure gate!

Hailey's family had rented a villa in a resort on the Florida panhandle. There were aunts, uncles and cousins spread over 3 homes. Maddie had a really great time. They returned home late on Friday night.

Suzanne and the boys left early Tuesday morning, which left just me and Josie to fill our days off. We had a great time - the weather was very warm on Thursday and Friday. We spent quality time at our community pool where Josie met up with some of her ballet class friends and made some new friends! Josie is having a ball wearing all her new swim suits - Target really hooked me up this year!! The pink 'ballerina' one-piece suit is her favorite so far...

Any spare time I have had has been spent in a dark room at the LDS Family History Center in Mission Viejo. I am a year and a half into my research on our family tree. There are so many mysteries to solve! I have spent hour upon hour in front of a microfilm machine looking at entries in the Catholic parish records of County Sligo, Ireland. This task is complicated by the fact that all the entries before 1865 are written in Latin. My cousin, Frank has been my sounding board - as he was the first to attempt the task for the McDonagh branch of our family. (That's my paternal grandmother's branch). Our efforts compliment each other quite well. Frank feeds me the bits and pieces of family lore and I try to find the documentation to substantiate it. Frank is an historian - he seems to be very good at putting the family events in historical perspective. With the assistance of our cousin, Liz, who lives in Sheffield, England, we have been making progress.

I was thrilled to receive a package from Liz on Good Friday. It was a book detailing the history of the town in England where my Grandmom was raised and where a large number of our family members lived and worked. I'm into my second reading of it now, and it's really interesting to see historic photos of my great-grandfather at work (below) and the cottage where Liz lives. I have been able to confirm the identity of our great-great-grandfather, which until this past week was unknown. I have also been able to locate the family farm, which I understand is still being run by McDonaghs.

On Wednesday I will return to the Family History Center to view one more spool of film. I'm hoping to find a few more records that can take me even further back in the family history...

Great Grandfather, John Patrick (standing with big moustache)

My Grandmom, Kathleen

The small, red cross indicates location of the family farm in Ireland

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My sister, Suzanne and her boys arrived yesterday afternoon from Philadelphia. It's their first trip out here so - the first stop was Disneyland for sure!

Liam, 13 years old, is all about the rollercoasters. Zack, 18 years old, is more laid back. So, Maddie and Liam took off to catch the 'Gs' while Suzanne, me, Josie and Zack enjoyed a slower pace. Zack was really a good sport about taking Josie on a few of the rides. Josie just adores her cousins and you could see Zack looking down and laughing while they were waiting in the lines. She talked his ear off!! Of course, we waited in line to see Pooh, Tigger, Mickey and all the gang. Here are a few photos from the day:

The big surprise of the day was when we returned home to find this in the driveway:

Uncle James is doing an evaluation on this Viper. It's SOOOO unfortunate that this is the car that he and Zack are driving up to Stanford on Saturday! Zack will be applying to colleges in the Fall and we're hoping Stanford is one of his choices. I personally would love to have my nephew nearby while he's going to college! Although, the whole family is aware that Zack's Number one choice is University of Pennsylvania!

The boys (and Josie!) had a bit of fun with the Viper before dinner:

The Viper has a V-10 engine

Liam is ready for a spin!

Zack is looking forward to driving the Viper for real on Saturday!

We're all having a great time! Tonight, In-n-Out Burgers for dinner!