Tuesday, November 27, 2007

School Picture

Just look at my beautiful girl! This is her last 'school picture' of elementary/middle school. The next time one of these is taken, she'll be in High School ! High School !!!

Speaking of which, Maddie's new high school and it's teachers (The Dominican Sisters of Nashville) made the front page of Sunday's Washington Post. The school will be the first high school opened by the Diocese of Arlington in 20 years! It is unique in the fact that it will be the only high school in the nation having a 4 year requirement in a newly created 'Bioethics' curriculum. Here's the article if you would like to read more.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

As mentioned in my previous post, between me, my Mom, Maddie and Josie, we were able to get a lot of the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner done in advance. I also must confess that I had very little to do with actually making dinner...My Mom did everything but steam the cauliflower. Gotta love having Mom around !!!

While Grandmom took charge in the kitchen, Maddie and Josie used their time constructing a gingerbread house from a kit I had purchased earlier in the week. (WARNING: Two year olds don't have the patience to wait while the icing turns into the cement that holds said house together ! )

At 5:30 we sat down to a wonderful dinner with my Mom & Dad; my sister Claudine; our friends Ed & Marty and their son, Matthew. My Mom had prepared mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, cauliflower in cheese sauce, turkey, stuffing, and cole slaw. We also were lucky enough to have some of Marty's famous broccoli salad. For dessert, we had pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie and Mom's homemade apple crisp! YUM!

And finally, no holiday would be complete without a treat for our loving Jack Russell Terriers, Casey and Carson. As you can see in the photo below, they waited patiently for their turkey dinner...!!

Hope your Thanksgiving was as wonderful as ours!!

James Is 46 !!

We have had a very busy Thanksgiving weekend. Actually, it's been longer than a weekend - beginning this past Tuesday with the arrival of Grandmom & PopPop. The weather was just beautiful - in the low 70's. Maddie didn't have school on Wednesday, so we were able to accomplish a lot of the preparations in advance. This includes the preparations for James' birthday celebration.

James went into the office early that day, but left by 8AM to get in line at Balduccis in Alexandria, VA. It's the only place where we can get a 'fresh kill' turkey. Quite different than when we lived in Reading - we would just go to the farm the night before Thanksgiving to pick up our pre-ordered bird. True to form, Balduccis had a line around the store within 15 minutes of opening. We were glad that James was able to get in and out with our 23 lb. turkey!

After James' birthday celebration, Grandmom got Josie to help out with making the stuffing. The whole time she was helping, she was singing the songs from the Wonder Pets... "What's gonna work? Teeeeam Work!" She is, after all, the BEST helper EVER!

While all the excitement was going on at home during the day, James had an opportunity to detail the cars. PopPop played 18 holes on our golf course and returned home happy (he kept the ball in the fairway for the whole day!) and exhausted.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Another Josie Milestone (First Haircut!)

Maddie had the day off from school today. (Teacher conferences - which, by the way, we had ours with Maddie's teacher yesterday - she had an AWESOME report card - Horray for Maddie!!) I took advantage of having an extra set of hands and scheduled a haircut for me and Josie. It was Josie's first trip to the salon. She did great.

Our stylist, Joey, was just great with her. I kept telling Josie that "Mommy's friend, Joey" would be cutting her hair. She was very excited until we hit the highway (95). She kept saying, "This not the way to Aunt Marty's house!" Seems that Josie had gotten it into her pretty little head that Aunt Marty's grandson, Joey, was going to be cutting her hair.... Ahhh, I don't think so! Although, I'm sure young Joey would have had a great time obliging her wish!!




Josie looks beautiful and we are so proud of her for being such a good girl !!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Yesterday, Maddie's Confirmation Group had a retreat at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Neither of us had ever been to the Basilica, which is surprising because we spend so much time in Washington.

The Basilica is extraordinary. It is so incredibly beautiful that it takes your breath away. It is the depository for the largest collection of modern religious art works in the world. Obviously, the largest collection of antique religious art resides at the Vatican. We've seen both, and both Maddie and I were equally impressed and awed by the mosaics and artworks at the Basilica.

We were surprised to find a mosaic depicting 'Our Lady of China'. I was eager to learn more about this vision of Mary. It is extremely difficult to find a link between China and Catholicism. It's important for us to link Josie to her homeland in any way we can, so this was a great find for us. The Basilica did not have any details on OLO China and this was all I was able to find so far:

Our Lady of China appeared near Peiping. It stands in a village named Tong Lu. A Poor Mission was started there by the Vincentian Fathers. It was a poor place, perhaps the poorest in the whole region, formerly called "the place of beggars." In 1900, there were some seven hundred Christians gathered about the little hamlet. Suddenly, the famous Boxer rebellion swept China and grew to such proportions, that even small places like Tong Lu could not escape its fury. In April 1900, a force of ten thousand rioters attacked Tong Lu. The soldiers, in senseless rage, started to shoot into the sky. Then suddenly they fled, frightened, and never came back again. According to the legend, a woman in white appeared above the settlement, and the rioters' bullets were aimed at her. When the apparition did not fade, attackers had not even time to reorganize because a strange horseman put them to flight. Soon after they had disappeared beyond the horizon. Father Wu, a Chinese priest, confessed to his flock that he invoked the help of Mary. A new church was built on the site and Father Wu placed a picture of Our Lady on the main altar. He asked the painter to dress Our Lady in the royal robes of the dowager Empress Tzi-Hsi. The image of the Blessed Virgin in the royal robes of the pagan Empress, with the Christ Child on her knees, is vivid expression of Chinese tradition. It is a shrine of the Mother and her Son. Though her robes be pagan, she belongs to every age, to all people and to every race. As was told and promised in the Old Testament: "I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge and of holy hope."

The Tong Lu church was completely destroyed recently by the Chinese Communists, but the picture of Our Lady of China remains intact because only a copy of the picture was used in the church. The original was hidden in the wall behind the copy, and this was recovered and found intact. It is now in possession of Chinese priests who carry out their activities in disguise.

We all really enjoyed our visit to the Basilica and it was great to be with the kids when they were in such a reflective (and quiet!) place. We hope to visit again during the Christmas season.

Here is a slide show of the beautiful interior of the Basilica: (Click on the Slideshow to see larger view with captions.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween

We had a wonderful Halloween this year! Josie caught on to the whole "I knock on the door and get candy"routine. And boy, was she unstoppable once that happened! She led the charge up the hill to all our neighbors houses with me, Maddie, Marty, Joey, Glenn and Justin trailing behind.

It could have gone the other way... At 10PM on Monday night Maddie handed me a list of things she needed for her costume. I had been telling her for 6 weeks that I was not buying her a costume. Guess she thought I was joking. Monday was when she finally 'got' it... hence the short list of accessories she needed for her 'homemade' costume. I told her there were 100's of costumes you could make with an old sheet. I then repeated the story of how, as kids, we all came up with our own costumes. I also told her the story of one of the kids from my old neighborhood named Eddie Pudlow:

Every year, Eddie Pudlow was the same thing. Every year Eddie Pudlow poked two holes in a sheet and put a necktie around his neck. Every year, Eddie Pudlow was a businessman ghost. And, every year, Eddie Pudlow got just as much candy as the rest of the kids in the neighborhood!!! Maddie has grown tired of my stories...!

So, anyway...I spent an hour with a hot glue gun yesterday afternoon fashioning Maddie's laurel wreath headpiece. She loved it! (Thank God!) The only remaining hurdle for Maddie to have a completely happy Halloween was to somehow figure out how wearing a bedsheet could be slenderizing! There's a lot of bulk in a queen sized sheet... Ah, the teenaged years...what fun!!!

Josie provided all the cuteness and laughs for our Halloween. She had been talking about her Minnie Mouse costume for a month and when the time finally came to put it on she told us, "I don't wear those ears, Mom. I don't like the ears, Dad". We pleaded, we cajoled, we begged...all to no avail. I did get her to at least hold the ears near her head so I could get some photos...the slide show of that is below.

Hope your Halloween was just as fun as ours!