Sunday, March 19, 2023

A St. Patrick's Day Post (on St. Joseph's Feast Day)

There is almost nothing that makes me happier than having my family gathered at our house, to celebrate a holiday or even for no special reason at all.  But holidays are, of course, especially fun.

St. Patty's Day is a particularly special holiday for the Pearl clan, because there is so much Irish blood flowing through our veins (well, a whole lot more of it on my husband's side than mine, but I've got some of it, too).

Our bishop gave a dispensation, so we had a green light for eating meat on this one Friday during Lent, in honor of the Emerald Isle's patron saint; therefore, I was able to make traditional Irish fare like corned beef and cabbage and beef stew.

Our three VA boys and their families came over for the evening, along with the brother of one of our daughters-in-law and his wife, who were visiting from FL. Food was eaten, drinks were drunk (but not to worry, nobody got drunk!), and a house got very messy. When 13 grandchildren ranging in age from 8 down to almost a year visit your house, there will be sticky spots on the floor afterward, and lots and lots of crumbs to vacuum. (But if you knew how much I love to vacuum, you would realize that this is not a bad problem for me to have.  Ha ha!  No, but really, that wasn't sarcasm: I love to vacuum!)

Cousins make the best friends!

We had an overabundance of food; but too much is definitely better than not enough, right?

Here are the things we had that I would definitely serve again, along with the traditional corned beef and cabbage:

1. Martha Stewart's  Loaded baked potato dip with potato chips.  Delicious.  Practically a meal in itself.

2. Keogh's Sour Cream and Shamrock potato chips, from Ireland.  (Yes, SHAMROCK!  Did you know that shamrocks are edible?! I didn't.)  We discovered them at Aldi's when we were in TN.  My favorite chips ever.

3. Mule Punch--my own invention: dump one can of frozen limeade in a punch bowl, add five bottles of cold ginger beer, stir (and a few drops of green food coloring if it's March 17).  That's it!  Then have a shot glass nearby, with vodka for Moscow Mules, bourbon for Kentucky Mules, and tequila for Mexican Mules.  It's delicious as is for the underage crowd, but spiked it becomes a tasty adult beverage. 

4. These shortbread cookies, from Ina Garten.  (You can dip them in chocolate, but I left them plain.) Mouthwateringly good!

Here's what I would skip next time:

1. The Pinterest-y rainbow of fruit, with clouds (mini marshmallows) at one end and a pot of gold (gold-covered chocolate candies) at the other.  It's cute and all, but not worth the trouble.  Just having a bowl of cut-up fruit makes more sense, in my opinion.  We had both options going and almost no one picked fruit from the rainbow.

2. I asked one of my daughters-in-law to make a veggie tray in Irish flag colors.  She used carrots and peppers for the orange part, cauliflower for the white, and broccoli and cucumbers for the green.  It was AWESOME, but I feel bad about all the effort she put into it.  Because...dare I say this?  Veggies aren't always the first thing people go for at our parties.  What does that say about us Pearls?

Anyway, it's usually not really about the menu anyway, is it?  It's about the people.

Especially these people.  (Of the 13 grandchildren who were there, only one is missing from these two photos.)

So that's the recap of our celebration.  One of our young grandsons is studying violin, so maybe someday in the future he can fiddle us some Irish tunes at our St. Patrick's Day party!  Wouldn't that be grand?

I’m hanging up my St. Patty’s apron until next year, and already planning the menu for 3/17/23: maybe it will be an all-potato feast (rather than a famine)!  Keough’s sour cream and shamrock potato chips with that heavenly loaded baked potato dip.  Twice-baked potatoes stuffed with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon as a main course, methinks.  ☘️  

Enough of that—I’ve got plenty of time to menu plan.

Slainte, dear readers! ☘️

Saint Patrick, pray for us!  St. Joseph, pray for us!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Catching Up: Our Week+ with Our Baby's Baby

We had a family St. Patrick’s Day party at our house last night, and I love posting about Pearl holiday celebrations.  But I’m behind on my blogging (what’s new?!), and I wanted to first archive memories from our recent stay in Nashville, when we had the joy of meeting our 20th grandchild and helping our youngest son and his wife as they transitioned into their brand new roles of mommy and daddy.

On the 14th, we drove back home, after spending almost two weeks with our baby and HIS baby.  My husband and I were privileged to have arrived on the 2nd, just hours after our new little granddaughter's birth, and to meet her very shortly after she'd made her grand entrance into the world.

Papa and Grammy had a wonderful time while we were there, taking turns holding that precious tiny human when her tired parents needed to rest, taking pictures of her, and falling in love with her.  All babies are precious; but this one is particularly beautiful and sweet-tempered (says her besotted but totally unbiased grandmother!). 

Also, I did a good bit of cooking and cleaning, and my husband got a few of the kids’ "honey-do" items off the list--there always seem to be a number of them when you move into a new house!

Mending fences.

Building storage shelves for the garage.
We got to be there at the little one's first Mass, and then went out to brunch with her and her parents afterward.

It was tough to say goodbye, and in a perfect world this little family would live less than an hour from us, as our three middle sons and their families do.  This son and our firstborn (our "bookend boys") may be far away in miles, but they are always very close in our hearts.

As we drove off, our son ”waved at us through the trees” (or more correctly, through the townhouse units).  And if you want to know what that quote means, grab a hanky and read this old post, written back when he  graduated from Notre Dame in 2015.  It's one of my favorites.

Okay...I'm not crying, you're crying!  (LOL)

Next up:  St. Patrick’s Day party recap.  Hopefully coming soon!  

Friday, March 3, 2023

The New Daddy


If this isn’t the sweetest thing ever, I don’t know what is!  (If you don’t know what’s going on here, check out yesterday’s post.)  💗

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Welcome, Little One!

Early yesterday morning, our youngest son’s wife was admitted to the hospital to be induced.  She was a week past her due date with baby #1, and her doctor thought it was time to give her a little help to get the process started.

As of 24 hours later, not much was happening.  So this morning, they started her on pitocin and then things finally got moving in earnest.  Meanwhile, we got on the road at about 6:30 this morning, headed for Nashville to meet grandchild #20 (!!).

At 12:28 CST our daughter-in-law gave birth to an 8 lb.-1oz. baby girl, who cried “right out of the gate” (as her sports-loving dad described it), and both mom and baby are doing well. We are just over an hour away now, so we will have only missed the birth by a few hours by the time we get there. 

I have to say that the Pearl family text stream was lively (and often amusing) last night and this morning.  One of the fun things about having an all-boy family is watching the way the brothers interact with each other—as only guys can. They make me laugh.

For instance, when son #5 and his wife first checked into the hospital and posted the above picture to the stream, one of the sisters-in-law told the mom-to-be that she looked great.  To which the daddy-to-be replied, “she demanded that I take a picture now before she gets un-cute.”

Right away, quick-witted son #4 came back with, “Felt cute.  Might have a baby later.  Idk.” 😂

Just a little while ago, our oldest son pointed out to his youngest brother, “Not only is your kid’s initials a word, her birthday is a palindrome.  Well done.”  Which I hadn’t thought of, and that’s kind of cool!  3/2/23!

It’s so different having a baby in the age of cell phones and texts (complete with hilarious memes!). When I was having babies (back in prehistoric times), extended families were in the dark about how things were going for as long as it took to get through labor and delivery, and pictures didn’t come until you could drop your film off at Walmart and wait for your blurry prints to be mailed back!

Whereas we’ve already seen what our new little granddaughter looks like!  It’s so wonderful!

Our baby, holding his baby’s hand.  😭

Welcome to the world, little one!  Papa and Grammy can’t wait to meet you! 💗

(P.S. Blogging on your iPhone, in the car: not for the faint of heart!)

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Call Me a Sentimental Old Fool

My husband and I are in a holding pattern right now, ready to hop in the car and head to Nashville as soon as we get the call that says our youngest son is about to become a daddy.

I was organizing a drawer in my kitchen this morning, one that has a bunch of random utensils and miscellaneous cooking gadgetry in it (everything from toothpicks to measuring cups and spoons to those little holders you put on the ends of ears of hot corn on the cob).  I think I was inspired by our middle son's wife, who is in the process of settling into their new house and has been fitting all of her pristine new kitchen drawers with organizational containers and dividers and such.  A place for everything, and everything in its place, if you will.  I was making a quiche and opened the drawer to get out some measuring spoons for the spices, and it was a bit of a mess in there.  So I sorted through everything until it made sense, and in the process what did I find but this stainless steel baby spoon that I'd totally forgotten I had.

It's not just ANY spoon, you see.  It's engraved with the name of the hospital where our youngest son was born, along with the year: 1993.  (1993 or yesterday?  Potato, po-tah-to.)

For 30 years--30 years!--I've held onto this spoon, a parting gift from the hospital where our last baby was born.  And I'm sure the reason I've done so is that I thought eventually, he would have babies of his own and they could use the spoon he used.  I haven't looked at it once in the six years we've lived in this VA house, and I'm just thrilled that I found it quite by accident today.

So that's going into my suitcase for this upcoming trip, obviously!

Another item I'm going to pack is a stuffed baby Simba that this same son of ours got for Christmas when he was two and a Lion King fanatic to the nth degree.  He wasn't a big stuffed animal guy, though (none of our boys were), so it looks like new after 28 years of languishing in a closet. I didn't ever pass it on to any of our little nieces and nephews, or even to our grandchildren, because I was saving it for him.  The day when he might need it for his own children always seemed so, so far into the future, but I was patient...and incredibly, that future is now!  

Maybe our new little granddaughter will love on this stuffed Simba fiercely enough that he will finally look his age!

Am I a sentimental old fool for holding onto so many mementos from our boys' childhood days?   Maybe.  You can call me that, I don't mind.  If the shoe fits and all that good stuff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A Christening Ensemble for a Living Doll

Just a warning: this is going to be a photo-rich post. I'm writing it mostly for myself, to have scrapbook-style memories that I can keep forever.  Because I'm about to give away a beloved item that I've been hanging onto for three decades; and although it is going to the very recipient for whom I was saving it all these years, I will miss seeing it hanging in one of the guest room closets of our house.

This guest room of which I speak is one that I always thought of as our youngest son's room, because when we moved into this house in VA almost seven years ago, he was the only one of our five boys who wasn't married yet.  So I wanted him to have a room that was "his" whenever he came to visit us here.  He was in the Army, stationed in Germany, when we sold his childhood home and moved south, and I always felt a little guilty about that.  He loved our NH house; it was the only one he'd ever known.  Our other boys had all started families and had homes of their own, so they didn't need to have bedrooms here; but our baby did.

A dresser-top tribute to my baby boy.
 (BTW: who is that old lady in the mirror?!)

Well, that baby of ours is 30 now.  And he's about to have a baby of his very own.  His wife is due with child #1, a girl, in about a week.  And we are ready to head to Nashville as soon as we get the word that she's in labor.

When we pack up the car to get on the road, we will be bringing with us the christening gown I made for my youngest son 30 years ago.  Our four older boys had worn a Pearl family heirloom made by my mother-in-law; but our nephew, who was born four days before son #5, was being baptized on the same day as he was, and that nephew was going to be wearing the family gown.  (The cousins were baptized together at the church in upstate NY where Pearls had been attending Mass for generations--and where my husband and I were married in 1980.)

So in 1993, I made this christening gown.

The fabric wasn't the best--just a very pedestrian cotton blend.  When I made christening gowns for our four oldest boys' babies starting in 2011, I used lovely linen-and-lace fabrics that I found in my late mother-in-law's attic.  A talented seamstress, she had quite a vast collection of fabrics and sewing notions stored up there. But back in 1993 when I set out to sew my first christening gown, she was still alive and I didn't dare ask her if I could have something from the attic.  I knew she had lots of plans for the things she was going to make with all those bolts of material and piles of white linen pillow shams.  So the fabric I used for my creation wasn't top-notch; but I put pin-tucks in the bodice and hand-embroidered shamrocks on both the bodice and skirt.  I poured lots of love into that gown, and my boy looked like an angel in it.  (I would include a picture, but I have somehow misplaced the photo album that has the photos from his Baptism!)

For this new granddaughter we can’t wait to meet, I added that pearl cluster button embellishment. (Originally, if memory serves me, there was a long white satin ribbon there, tied in a bow, fastened in place with a safety pin.) To tell you the truth, I can't believe I never thought to sew any seed pearls onto that gown back when I made it!  (Opportunity missed!)

Our boy didn't have any sort of hat for his Baptism, but I thought I'd use a piece of fabric from my mother-in-law's attic to make a bonnet for his baby girl.  

This was a pillow sham that I took apart.  I love how there are shamrock shapes in the embroidery.
I thought that would make the bonnet match the gown!

I can think of few things that give me more joy than taking a flat piece of fabric and turning it into some garment that can be worn by my grandchildren.  This bonnet was so much fun to make!

Sorry for the photo dump, but as I said: this is a memory-keeping post for me.  Bear with me now...Here are some pictures of one of my porcelain dolls, who is not quite as big as a real newborn baby, modeling the gown and bonnet ensemble.

Well, these precious items are all packed up in a pretty storage box now, ready to load in the car as soon as we get the call that says it's go time.  Please keep our daughter-in-law and her baby in your prayers, for a safe (and relatively easy!) labor and delivery.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Laughter and Tears

If you come here often, you know that our middle son, his wife, and their five adorable young children were living with us temporarily while waiting to move into their new house.  It had been in the process of being built over the past year or so, and was supposed to be finished in time for them to enjoy their first Christmas in it...which it wasn't.  So they spent Christmas at our house.   (And we all got a nasty stomach bug for the holidays, but let's not get into that right now!)

What was supposed to be about a week or two with us stretched into six weeks, and those poor kids were commuting about an hour every day to work and school.  But as of about a week ago, they are all moved into what they hope will be their "forever home," a big, beautiful house on a quiet cul de sac street.  It's just perfect for them, and they are beyond thrilled to be in their own place.

Living at our house was not perfect for them (the sleeping arrangements were a tad dicey); and yet, it was a pretty sweet time for all of us.  We miss seeing them every day.  We miss scenes like these.

Well, that was the "tears" part to which I was referring in the title of this post; but I was being a little dramatic. Because although my husband and I miss seeing this cute little family on a daily basis, they are so much better off where they are.  And it only takes us about 35-40 minutes to make the drive over to visit them at their new house.  So we shall survive the separation!  It's all happy tears, dear readers.

Now for the "laughter" part of this post!

Our middle son and his wife Preciosa decided to give us "an experience" as a Christmas gift, rather then something wrapped up in a package: they got tickets for the four of us to go out on a double date to see Brian Regan, who was performing nearby in mid-January.  (Their wonderful sitter, a mother of grown children, drove all the way to our house to watch their kiddos for them.) They could not have picked a better entertainment experience for us!  Brian Regan has always been one of our very favorite comedians, because he's goofy and hilarious and never resorts to profanity or raunchy jokes.  His comedy is clean enough to be enjoyed even by young children.  We just love him!

We had the best seats, way up in the fourth row.  

Regan hasn't lost a step since we first started following him many years ago.  He was fantastic--doing all new material that we hadn't heard before--and this night out with the kids was a special one that we will always remember.

We all need a lot more laughter in our lives, especially in this anxiety-inducing day and age in which we live.  Thanks so much to these two, who gifted us with a night filled with laughter.  Love, too.  Let's not forget the love!