Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

You came!  Merry Christmas!
Here is a pictorial review of our year.  All in one place, saving lots of paper....trees....branches!

A trip to New Orleans with good friends Bob and Donna!  Laissez les bonne temps roulez!

We went to New York City (where Kelly will be living as of January 2012) with good friends Rick and Patty and found a
Chinese New Year's parade in Chinatown!

We went to Park City with friends and family...a good time was had by all!
(and no bones were broken)

TJ rode 180 miles in two days in the MS 150...again!
And it did not rain again in Houston until October....

We got to see Christopher and Daniel in Madison for Easter!

Early May
The Dixon sisters went to the Cayman Islands to celebrate one of us getting older.

Kelly graduated from St. Louis University!!!!
Way to go Kelly!

Later in May
We went to Nova Scotia and found our new sun porch...almost finished and tulips in bloom!

We waited for the garden to grow....and did a lot of work around the farmhouse!

We started harvesting the bounty from the garden!

Rachel, Matt, Daniel and Christopher came and spent their vacation with us in Nova Scotia!

And Grampy and Katie taught the boys how to dig up potatoes.

TJ and Lisa went to see London Bridge....still standing.

Michael and Jehnna were married in Boulder, Colorado

We visited the grandsons...and their parents, for Thanksgiving!

The tree is up, the house is decorated and we are waiting for Jesus.

Merry Christmas everyone!
Love, The Mahoneys

P.S. to read more about any month just click on the blue highlighted month name. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bah Humbug

Are you one of those overachievers who already has their Christmas shopping done, their cards sent, cookies baked and the house decorated?  Bah humbug!   Obviously, I am least this year!  I am finding it very difficult to actually get into the spirit. The 80 degree muggy weather might have something to do with my lack of Christmas spirit....just saying.   I don't think I am alone in this either, until yesterday the stores seemed empty.  Guess I'm not the only last minute shopper out there.  At least the traffic online has been manageable, no parking problems or lineups at the cash register! 

Maybe one of the reasons I am not feeling the spirit is because the little shopping I have done has been online.  No hustle and bustle to get into my psyche, just a computer screen.  No endlessly piped in carols playing in the background, no Salvation Army bell ringers, no pushing and shoving to get the perfect item, no over the top decorations to delight the eyes..... just my dirty floors, and dishes in the kitchen with the washer and dryer humming in the background.  Hmmm, maybe that explains the lack of spirit I'm feeling. 

Guess it's time I sharpen my elbows and go shopping.  One can only buy so much online before you have to go to a real store.  Get my earplugs, bah humbug!   Next on the list....Christmas cards?  We will see, I don't want to overdo it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hello and Goodbye

This week I had the profound experience of saying goodbye to one life and hello to a new life.  Within one week, a good friend of mine was taken from this world and a baby was born into our extended family.  Life and death, opposite ends of this journey through life.

My friend had cancer, but in the end it was not the cancer that caused her death, it was complications from a fall... an accident.  We all assumed that eventually the cancer would win but it was not at that point yet, so we were all caught a bit off guard by her passing. We were not ready.   If you have gone to church lately, you know that many of the readings have been about keeping alert, staying awake, because we do not know the time or the place when God will come.  "The day of the Lord will come like a thief."  "Watch therefore---for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning---lest he come suddenly and find you asleep."  These words remind us to do our best and live a life pleasing to God.  Our friend lived her life to the fullest, she never let it get her down...for long. She was a force of nature with a raspy voice, who made you feel cared for and had an exuberance that was infectious.  Even if we were not ready, I think she might have been and I am sure she is looking down on us from a much better place...and eating a little chocolate.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a baby boy was born.  One life taken and another given.  A precious, innocent, beautiful little boy was born.  His life is before him.  There is so much happiness and love surrounding him.  So, while the world is less one wonderful woman, it has a new little boy to make us all smile and give us hope.

Welcome to the world Sam!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Football, Food and Family

So....before November ends....I need to write one last post.  Looks like November has been a boring month on the blog but really I have just been paddling like a dog trying to keep my head above the water!  I have not forgotten you, so here is one last post of a lot of life and living before we enter "the holidays".

We started our Thanksgiving tour on the Friday before Thanksgiving week with a trip to Notre Dame.  We met Rachel, Matt and Daniel and Christopher in South Bend for a little Notre Dame football.

Daniel and Christopher, tailgating at the Notre Dame game, they are pros!

 The Irish treated us with a win, just barely...and it did not snow...but it was a bit cool!  We walked all over campus several times and were greeted by collegiate traditions everywhere.  It was like being in a stereotypical college movie, I loved it!  We heard the glee club sing outside one building, then we saw "the team" heading into the Basilica for their pre-game quiet time.  We saw the band, lead by the Irish Guard, march through campus and then heard them perform on campus before the game.

The Irish Guard, "step aside, make way!"

  It was a weekend that we had several brushes with celebrity too!  The band Chicago played with the ND band on campus before the game and then again at half time.  We saw a huge long line outside the bookstore and asked what everyone was waiting for and then saw the sign...the recently retired Regis Philbin was inside signing his book!  That was as close as we go to Reeg though, we had a 31/2 year old and a 2 year old with us, even Regis is not worth waiting for with them!

Our brush with celebrity.....

Then at the game, right on the field in front of our seats they introduced Jon Bon Jovi!!  (sorry, no Bon Jovi photo )

We said goodbye to Notre Dame and spent a day and a half in Chicago on our way to Madison.  TJ was working and I was getting into the Christmas spirit on Michigan Ave. with the bustling crowds and the chilly wind in my face surrounded by festive decorations.  The shopping was a bit unsuccessful but it was a nice walk.

On Monday, I picked up our LG and drove to Madison for the rest of the week.  Our LG had some exciting news on the drive....she has a new job in New York City!  A piece of exciting and terrifying news all at once.  I can't wait to visit her in the the Big Apple!

The rest of the week was spent preparing for the Thanksgiving feast, keeping up with the grandsons and watching football.  Pretty much a perfect week.  See?

Did you say jump?  Christopher at swimming lessons.

Daniel aka Mark Spitz at his swimming lessons.  Yes, he can swim!
Pucker up and give me a kiss!
This is what Thanksgiving dinner looks like when you have a sad....
Feeling better and getting a haircut!
It was haircuts all around, Christopher found it a little hard to sit still for his haircut though so Aunt Kelly helped distract him.
So now we are all back to our lives.  Our visit up north was great fun hanging out with the grandsons and getting to see them in their real lives.  I love just being there in their world.  They are too cute, not that I am biased or anything.  So, I am thankful for grandkids and the time we get to spend together!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blessings and Curses

I found this post in my archives and thought I'd finally share it with you.  It is something I wrote after a sermon I heard.  It obviously made an impression on me.  Since we have Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I might focus on things I am thankful for in my next couple of posts.  Original right?  Then I found this and thought maybe it would be a good way to get into the right frame of mind to be thankful.  I am thankful for all those who have blessed me in my life.

 Have you blessed someone today or have you cursed someone today? 

A blessing can be as simple as seeing someone and noticing them.  By sincerely paying attention to someone we bless them.  Take time to talk to someone... or even better to listen to someone, it is a blessing. You can be a blessing.   Blessings can be simple... notice someone, give them your time and your attention.  Make someone else feel loved and important.  When a parent takes the time to sit down with a child and read a book for the zillionth time instead of doing something else, it is a blessing.  When you are busy doing "important" things and you stop and take the time to really listen to someone without distraction, it is a blessing.  Blessings feed others.

Curses are not necessarily using those know the ones....they look like this sometimes *#@!*.  When a person pulls out in front of you and you yell at them, curses....    When we judge others without knowing them or what is in their heart, curses.  When someone asks you to do something and you ignore them, curses.  When you tell someone to shut up when you are watching the TV, instead of listening to them, might be a curse.  When you think of yourself and your needs above all else .... curses.  Gossip....curse.  Selfish behavior to the detriment of others....curses.  Curses eat away at our soul and at the souls of others, little by little.

Next time you have a chance to be a blessing or a curse, be a blessing.  Make someone's day, and you will be blessed....and they will be thankful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night.....

It is only 3:30 in the afternoon but it feels like it is 8:00 at night!  Why is that you ask?  Because it was a dark and stormy night that included vomit, poop, howling wind, things that go bump in the night, nightmares and one sick, lost dog.  I can't make stuff like this up!

The first "real" cool front blew into town last night around midnight.  The wind was blowing, the chimes outside were clanging and the temperatures were dropping.  Around 2:30 in the morning I woke up to the sound of furniture being banged or moved.  Of course, TJ is out of town... perfect.  I bravely got out of bed and see my faithful dog is not in the room to protect me.  She is under the dining room table,  surrounded by poop and vomit!  What is it about dogs that makes them get sick on the nicest rug in the house?  Our entire house is tile or wood floors, could she just get sick on the tile or the wood?  NO!  I cleaned up the mess, sent the dog outside to finish her business, let her back in and we went back to bed, this time with the dog door open for any future "episodes". 

I tossed and turned and tossed and turned while Sadie smacked and licked and smacked and licked , the wind chimes clanged and clanged and the wind howled and howled.  Nobody was sleeping in our house between 3 and 4:30 which was the last time I saw on the clock before I woke up at 6:15. 

When I woke up I looked for Sadie and any other "accidents" in the house.  No accidents and.... no Sadie!  I looked upstairs, downstairs, in every room, even under the dining room table.  I went outside and looked and called and then I saw it... the open gate on the side of the house.  The yard man came yesterday and must have left it open, argh!  So, at 6:30 in the morning, in the dark and the cold (well cool) I walked the neighborhood calling Sadie, then I drove one of our favorite walk routes looking for her but had no luck. 

So....I went and played golf in the tournament I was scheduled to play.  I know....I am a horrible person, but what could I do?  I did leave the gate open and the dog door open just in case she found her way home in the light of day.  We froze on the golf course, 48 degrees, howling wind, everyone's ideal golf weather.  On the 7th hole the vet called and some nice person found Sadie stuck under their fence by her collar and brought her to the vet listed on her dog tags. 

this is the image that came into my head when they told me how they found her.....

The last 2 holes were my best of the round.  Sadie is a bit worse for wear and still hacking and spazzing out so she definitely got into something.  Tonight she will be sleeping behind a gate....on a tile floor....far away from any nice rugs...with the dog door open and the gates securely locked and I will sleep!  I figure bedtime might come early for both of us tonight.  I took those damn chimes down too, I am serious about my sleep tonight!

this is what we are doing now....if only I had some camomile tea

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Run Down Memory Lane

I took a run this past weekend on a well worn path from my past.  It brought back lots of memories and was just as nice as I remember it being.  If you are a walker or a runner you probably have your favorite routes.  I am a creature of habit when it comes to my exercise routines.  I map out a path of about 3 or 4 miles and have shortcuts for those "easy" days and long cuts for the "challenge" days.  I usually have two or three different routes from my house, wherever that house happens to be.  I have them here in Sugar Land, I had other paths when we lived here last time, I had my routes in Toronto and I had them in Columbus, Ga when we lived there.  They all  hold a special place in my heart because I do a lot of thinking when I run or walk, so it isn't just about the exercise.

This past weekend we were back in Columbus, Georgia.  I found myself drawn to take a run almost as soon as we got into town.  The beautiful fall weather and travelling for 7 or 8 hours might have had something to do with my need to get some exercise!  I got my iPod and drove to one of my all time favorite places to run, Cooper Creek Park.  We used to live a block from this park and I spent many hours walking and running the paths around that park.  I had happy runs, sad runs, cold runs, hot runs, easy runs, challenging runs, wet runs, runs I wish would never end and ones I could not get through fast enough (or slow enough in my case).  I watched my kids run cross country races on those paths.  Wow, it was a very nostalgic trip around the park for me, I must be getting old!  I also had a personal challenge to see if I could make it all the way around the park without stopping, like I used to when I was younger and thinner.....I made it!  Won't say it was easy, but it was not as hard as it could have been.  I cued up one of my old running mixes on the iPod and had an excellent run down memory lane! 

Did I mention the beautiful fall weather?

We visited with old friends and picked up like it was last week instead of a year or two ago when we last saw them.  When you live in one place for 11 or 12 years and raise four children in a small close knit community, you make a lot of friends... close friends.  Thank goodness we still get to visit them every now and then.  And thank goodness they keep welcoming us back!

Indulge me one more paragraph....

We went to mass at our old church this weekend too.  As I knelt and sat, listened, sang and prayed, I found myself thinking of all the masses we attended in that church.  Twelve years of Sunday masses, countless school masses, the occasional daily mass, 3 graduations and baccalaureates, four 8th grade graduations, 4 Confirmations, two First Communions and First Reconciliations, plus weddings and funerals for friends, it boggles the mind!  That is a lot of praying and thinking in one place!  I know there are a lot of people who have gone to the same church for almost their entire lives, do they appreciate what they have?  What a special place that church has in our lives, it saw us through good times and bad.  It was very cool to just sit and think about all of the praises and problems we handed over to God at that church during our time in Columbus.  Amen!

We were more than happy to visit!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Everybody Is Doing The Houston Swat

Today in my LEM class most of my students looked like they were doing some sort of weird pantomime.  They were swatting the air around them, they were swatting themselves and even slapping the people sitting next to them.  Yesterday, when TJ and I took Sadie for a walk TJ was doing the same pantomime and eventually ended up running home, leaving me to fend for myself.  Today on the front page of the newspaper it was confirmed.  We are in the midst of a mosquito epidemic!  Just when it got nice enough to sit outside and enjoy the fall temperatures and maybe have dinner and drinks on the patio....we have been accosted by swarms of mosquitoes who are also enjoying the weather and eating out.   

As you know or may have read here,  we are in a drought.  The good thing about that drought was there was no water for mosquitoes to breed and we have had a relatively bite free summer.    Well....that 4 inches of rain we had (2 weeks ago!) was a good news/bad news situation.  The good news was we needed the rain desperately and every growing thing is doing the happy drinking dance, finally!  The bad news was it was just enough water to breed a wicked batch of swamp mosquitoes, who have been just waiting for that water to come to life and torture everyone in Houston! 

So, to all my northern readers....send cold air!  It is the only thing that will make this epidemic end!  We want to play outside! Smack!  Ouch! How do you like my new cologne?  Deep Woods Off.... don't leave home without it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Food For Thought

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you already know that we are not home very often.  Put it on the calendar, we (yes, that even means TJ) have been home for  two weeks in a row!  Whoo hoo!  I realized this in the grocery store, of all places.  Do you know how nice it was to be able to buy food and know that we would be home long enough to cook and eat it?

When I am "away" in Nova Scotia, I am actually in one place for about 3 months.  We don't really go anywhere else when we are there.  There is no kenneling the dog, no stopping the mail or the paper and no booking flights and rental cars and a lot of cooking and eating at home.  I get to buy food at Costco plus we have a giant garden and ample opportunities to cook and serve all that food.  When we are home in Houston, we really aren't "at home" that much.  My refrigerator is proof.  It becomes one giant science project.  I go to the grocery store with  good intentions of buying fresh produce and baked goods with plans to cook healthy meals at home.  I end up cooking about one out of four of those well intended meals every week. Something always comes up!  There is the occasional business dinner or TJ goes away on a business trip (and I eat popcorn for dinner) or  I go out with friends or we end up playing golf and staying at the golf club for dinner (after all, who has the energy to cook after playing golf? ....that's my story and I'm sticking to it, don't say a word!) .  Such is the life of an"empty nester".   Whatever the situation, those well intended meals go uncooked, uneaten and fermenting.....

I am not a matter of fact for the first 30 years of our 33 year marriage I would have gladly not cooked a meal every night.  I would have been happy if we could afford to eat out once every month much less every week.  Ah, those were the days....we had four children to feed every night so I have done more than my share of meal preparation over the years.  I still find myself unable to cook for only two people, I learned to cook for six, it's hard to scale back.  This often results in a lot of leftovers....and a few science projects in the fridge.  This week it resulted in some delicious leftovers, that we actually finished!  Looks like I need to go to the grocery store....again!  Sometimes it is just fun to cook and sometimes it is fun to make reservations... no matter what is sitting in the fridge!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Wedding, the Third and Final Chapter

Say "hello" to Michael and Jehnna Mahoney
This might come as a surprise, but our family loves a good party.  After the wedding everyone headed to the reception in great anticipation of eating, drinking and dancing! We were not disappointed.  The wedding party arrived in more style than the rest of us. 

The reception was held on a rooftop patio at an Italian Trattoria.  We enjoyed the outdoors while we were somewhat sheltered and able to enjoy the indoors.  It was a lovely evening.  There were a few times when the lovely breeze became a swirling wind and started taking out centerpieces one by one but that was only a minor inconvenience.  The crowd quickly rearranged the centerpieces at the bar and made a lovely display, safe from the wind.

The bride and groom made their grand entrance and went right into their first dance to Ray LaMontagne's You Are The Best Thing.

They dance well together!

Then Michael and Jehnna danced with their parents, there might have been a few tears involved but I'm not talking.  After the initial dancing, there were a few toasts and dinner was served.  Then the dancing started!  Men, women and children hit the dance floor and we did not stop until they made the DJ shut it down and they started picking up the tables and chairs.  A good time was had by all.

Two little ones who had a particularly good time were the flower girl and our grandson (the reluctant ring bearer).  There were instant cameras set out on the tables for people to snap candid pictures and Daniel found one and he and Camille had their own private photo shoot!  It was priceless to watch. 

Crank up some music and enjoy the rest of the pictures, I suggest some Motown and then throw in The Mull River Shuffle just to get things really going!  You will feel just like you were there!

The old man and the bride getting down...

Michael and his sisters

the kids getting into the action!
Thanks everyone for sending your pictures.....I must admit I did not take all the pictures for the wedding blog posts....I stole some of them from my family, isn't that what family is for? 

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Wedding- Part 2

The wedding day started at 5:30 for some of us.... namely Daniel, Christopher and their parents.  Luckily their parents took them out for a ride to the mountains so the rest of the house could get a little sleep.  Thanks Mom and Dad!  The plan for the day was to meet the some of the family at Chatauqua Park and go for a hike.  It was a beautiful day!  We all sort of met at the mountain and hiked...some to the top, some half way and some just looked at the mountain and saved their feet for dancing later at the reception.  Some people are smarter than others.  Michael and his best man, Justin, came and hiked with TJ, it was a male bonding experience that lasted until lunch time and well into the afternoon.  A perfect way to spend the time before your wedding.

Let's go up there!
Grampy and Mark and Daniel (on Super Mark's back) hiking up the mountain
"No thank you Grampy, I don't want to walk, I like it up here!"

Then we headed home and ate lunch, the wedding is not until 4:30! 

While we tried to get Daniel and Christopher down for a nap, TJ spent some time with Michael and Justin, doing man stuff like watching football, eating and drinking beer.  The bride and her bridesmaids spent their day getting beautiful and making bouquets and bouteniers and centerpieces. 

Beautiful Kelly, making a bouquet.....or a centerpiece!
The groom and his parents, pre-wedding

Before we went to the park for the wedding we stopped by to pick up TJ and see Michael.  Those 2 little boys, "who were supposed to take a nap before the wedding so they would be in a good mood and ready to party", waited until the car ride to Michael's to fall asleep.  Perfect timing!  There were two hostages in the far back seat of the van....and rather than wake the boys up at our stop the hostages found other ways to entertain themselves while we took pictures.

"Super Mark" and Matt find refreshments to drink while they listen to the game and the boys sleep...
Finally, we got to the park for the wedding.  When you get married in a park, you get to set the stage.    The chairs were delivered and the trees were there, we all chipped in and set up the chairs and decorated.  It really looked great, I think it turned out just the way they wanted.  It was such a relaxed and laid back atmosphere, we all got to visit and enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather while we waited for the big moment.  There are so many things to share and so many pictures but I fear I will lose the crowd if I share too much. 

It was a beautiful wedding!  It was true to the couple.  Michael and Jehnna love the outdoors, they love their family and most of all they love each other.  It was perfect for them and  it was well done.

Mom and son

I think he sees the bride....and it takes his breath away.
Here comes the bride!

The vows.....

The rings and the prayers

You may kiss the bride!

Michael and Jehnna Mahoney!
The wedding party

And then there was the reception.....Part 3!  Another day!
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