Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the Road with the Twins

In case you're wondering why I didn't blog yesterday, it's because we were on the road--doing the first leg of our trip east with our twin granddaughters and their mommy--and I had no internet access. We got about five hours of driving behind us before we stopped at around dinnertime and stayed overnight with our daughter-in-law's aunt and uncle, who live in a bucolic town in Illinois called Woodstock. Woodstock has the most idyllic and picturesque town square: its brick-paved streets, lined with quaint shops and restaurants, surround a lush, green park that has a large bandstand in the middle of it. It is just so beautiful! But the town's real claim to fame is that the 1992 movie "Groundhog Day"--hands down one of the greatest, funniest movies of all time, in my opinion--was filmed on location there, and the bandstand on the green was used for "Gobbler's Knob," where Punxsutawney Phil made his appearance. Our daughter-in-law's uncle was kind enough to drive my husband and me downtown after dinner and then walk with us around the square (in the dark, in the rain), pointing out all the buildings and sites in town that had been used in the movie. He made a special side trip to show us the bed and breakfast with the white picket fence and arbor out front. We even got to see the very spot on the sidewalk (now commemorated with a metal plaque) where Bill Murray's character Phil kept stepping off into the giant puddle, while Ned Ryerson--"Needlenose Ned," "Ned the Head"--jibed, "Watch out for that first step--it's a doozie!"

After a good night's sleep and giving the babies their first bottles of the morning, we left Woodstock and got back on the old dusty trail. With the twins napping pretty much the whole way, we made it to South Bend right in time for their next feeding. We decided to stop in at the University of Notre Dame and feed the girls their bottles in the lobby of the Eck Center, which is right next to the Hammes Bookstore. While their mommy and I took care of the babies, their Papa ran over to the bookstore to get them some pink Notre Dame-themed bibs. It was a short rest stop, but a good one--and then it was time to hit the road again.We drove for about four-and-a-half more hours, with one bottle stop somewhere in the middle, until we got just outside of Cleveland, and that's where we are now--in a really comfy two-story suite at a Residence Inn. The babies have been real troopers (and their mom, who's been riding squished in between two carseats on the hump in the middle of the back seat, has been one, too); but it won't be long now before the trip will be over, they'll be in their own little house in Upstate NY, and they'll have their daddy back home with them where he belongs. We have only about six more hours of actual driving time before we reach our destination tomorrow. The twins were getting a bit tired of their car seats by the end of today's leg, but hopefully after a nice long break here in the Cleve (I'm putting that in for all you "30 Rock" fans), they'll be ready to get back in the saddle tomorrow morning.

I'll post updates on our trip as soon as I have internet access again, and I'm not sure exactly when that will be. Until then, wish us luck and keep us in your prayers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ready for Their Close-Ups

Sometimes, I just like to zoom in on my granddaughters' faces to get extreme close-ups of their facial features--because I think they have the most perfect little blue eyes, upturned button noses, and rosebud lips.
The above shot is of Cutie Pie, who appears to be deep in thought, contemplating the mysteries of the universe. (Or maybe she's just extremely interested in the hanging toy on her little bouncy seat that is out of range in this picture!)

Now here's one of Bonny Babe, determined to win a staring contest with her Grammy (or with her Grammy's camera, perhaps). Jeepers creepers, where'd she get those peepers?
I wanted to make this quick today, because we need to bundle these two up, pack up the car with a mountain of baby paraphernalia, and get on the road in a few hours. But I just thought I'd share these pictures of my little sweethearts with you.

(Are you smiling more than you were before you saw this post? I thought so.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Keeping Holy the Lord's Day

It's the Lord's day, Sunday, and in the spirit of keeping it holy (and also in the spirit of using this blog whenever possible for the glory of God, not just for telling stories and jokes, and bragging about all the various members of my well-loved family), I wanted to post this beautiful image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Through Saint Margaret Mary, who was chosen to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, Jesus gave this promise: "I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated." I hope that He will bless this blogsite, and help me to make it a place where the power of the internet is used for His greater glory--in a world where so often, it is used to spread evil and sin.

Here's wishing you a blessed and holy Sabbath day, and a healthy and happy week ahead. And if you wouldn't mind keeping my husband, my daughter-in-law, my two baby granddaughters, and me in your prayers over the next few days, we would really appreciate it. Tomorrow, we begin our three-day cross-country car trip, to get the little family settled back into their house in Upstate NY before Daddy returns from deployment. And please pray for my son's safe travels back home from Afghanistan, too. Thank you!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Wee Bit 'o Catholic Humor

Last night, I was reading the September 25 issue of a weekly Catholic newspaper called Our Sunday Visitor at my daughter-in-law's parents' house, and I came across a cute joke that I thought I'd share. It proves two things: 1) Catholics DO have a sense of humor; and 2) jokes don't have to be off-color to be funny.

So here goes:

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: "Take only ONE. God is watching." Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples!"

I love this sweet little joke. And I hope it's true that God is watching the apples, because while I'm rarely tempted to take more than one of those at a time, I can't say the same for chocolate chip cookies!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Perfect Babies

It's 9:30 p.m. out here in the Midwest (10:30 back at home), and I'm just now sitting down to do a quick blog post before I go to bed. I'm a bit off my usual daily routine of getting up in the morning, fixing my little pot of coffee, and going down to my basement "office" to sit at my computer and blog. That's because I'm here with my daughter-in-law and my twin baby granddaughters, and guess what? When there are babies in the house, you go by their schedule, not yours! Even though they're the tiniest humans on the premisis, they are definitely in charge. But when the babies are as plump and cute and edible as these babies are, you don't mind that in the least. And my granddaughters are perfect, just so you know. You don't have to take my word for it, though (if you think I'm just being an overly proud grandma); that's exactly what the pediatrician called them today at their four month check-up: perfect. The above picture of my husband with our five sons was taken in 1993, after the kindergarten graduation of our middle son (he's the one on the left holding the red tassle from his graduation cap). You're probably wondering why I chose this photo today when it seems a picture of my granddaugthers would be more fitting, as long as I'm talking about them. You're probably thinking that I just wanted some excuse to post yet another adorable picture of my boys in their childhood days. Okay, that's true, but that's only part of the reason. I also think my husband looks like quite the heartthrob here, so that has something to do with it, too. But the main reason is that when I look at the babe in arms in this photo--my #5 son at about six months old, in the big, strong arms of his daddy--I am so reminded of the twins. This is how the girls often look these days, when they're being held and they drop off to sleep with their arms flopping out to the side. (When their maternal grandpa sees one of the girls in this position, he'll call her "Flopsy.") They love to be held and snuggled, just like my boys did; and like my boys, too, they love it best when the person who's holding them is standing up. They will sometimes fuss when you try to sit down with them to give the old arms a rest, and then are content again as soon as you stand back up. I guess babies just like to keep us big people on our toes.

Hopefully, the twins will sleep okay tonight. They got their four month shots today--:(--and that was a little rough for them. Their appointment went well, though. These little girls are absolutely thriving. Bonny Babe is now 17 lbs. 10 oz. and Cutie Pie is 15 lbs. 14 oz.--that places them in the 90th percentile and above for both height and weight! The doctor was totally pleased with their growth and development. Like I told you before: they're perfect. And this photo reminds me of another baby (or actually, of five other babies) that I remember being perfect as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Joined Together for Life

This is a picture of me with my daughter-in-law's mother, taken several years ago when our kids were still just engaged. She had come east to visit us for a few days and to be there to watch her daughter run in the Boston Marathon. (She is the most wonderful woman, and she raised a very special daughter, let me tell you.) The first time we met, a couple of months before this photo was taken, the two of us clicked instantly. After seeing us together when she came to our house, my funny second oldest son said, "Mom, you've got a new BFF." It would have been enough just to get along with the mother of my son's future wife; but to feel an instant kinship was a great gift indeed. Now, this woman and I are joined together for life--Nonna and Grammy--as grandmothers to the same identical twin baby girls. She's my son's mother-in-law; but I feel like she's every bit as much a part of my life now as his.

Some years ago, a friend's daughter was getting very serious with a young man whose mother was having trouble accepting that she was no longer the most important woman in her son's life. She and her boyfriend's mother had a bit of a strained relationship at first, and her parents were understandably concerned that when the two of them got married, having this woman as a mother-in-law could make life very difficult for their daughter. The girl told her folks not to worry. She said, "I'm not going to marry his family; I'm going to marry him." Her father chuckled and replied, "Oh, yes you are! Don't kid yourself. When you marry someone, you marry his family too; because like it or not they're going to be a part of your life forever." (As a postscript to this story, I am happy to report that our friend's daughter did indeed marry this young man, and his mother did a complete turnabout and accepted her new daughter-in-law with open arms. She would have been a fool not to; that girl was a peach, and if arranged marriages were still the norm, my husband and I might have tried to set something up between that sweet young thing and our second son!)

It's so true that when two people marry, their families become forever intertwined. So far, we only have one son who is married, and he could not possibly have married into a more wonderful family. He and his wife were wise when they were courting: they both made it a point to visit each other's families and get to know them before they got engaged--and they were anxious to have both sets of parents meet, too, as soon as we possibly could, so that we weren't strangers seeing each other for the first time the weekend of their wedding. Smart kids.

We have not only gained a daughter, but her whole family, too; we are all joined together in our love for these two kids and their kids, our grandkids.  Our lives are, and forever will be, intertwined. We are truly blessed!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Huggin' Cousins

Here is a picture of two of the cutest college freshmen you'll ever see--and I'm not just saying that because they're related to me! These adorable young people are first cousins, but they love each other like brother and sister. And they're hugging, of course, because cousins don't shake hands...cousins gotta HUG! (That's a "Tommy Boy" reference, and if you haven't seen that movie yet, stop reading this, go on Netflix or wherever it is you go to rent your DVD's, and order it, NOW! If it doesn't make you laugh, then you probably wouldn't understand my family's sense of humor.)

This is my baby and his cousin, who herself is the baby of her family of four girls. These two kids were born a mere two days apart, during a six-day stretch in which another boy cousin was also born.

Thank goodness our five sons had plenty of girl cousins to fill in the sister void, and thank goodness the cousins in the Pearl family are so unusually close. Even though the 32 Pearl first cousins were located in different states, literally all over the map (California, North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, and New Hampshire), they were able to form amazingly strong bonds with each other. One huge reason is that every summer, we've gathered en masse for reunions at my husband's parents' home on the lake in Upstate New York, a magical family place that I talked about earlier in a post on this blog (see "Making Family Memories," July 7). Some of the families also make it up there for Christmas each year, or for the days between Christmas and New Year's. There have been some winter break ski vacations, too, involving three or four of the eight Pearl families at a time. And finally, there is the pilgrimmage to Notre Dame for a football game weekend once every fall (at least), when my husband and his seven siblings and their spouses and kids, or as many of them as possible, head out to South Bend to gather and put on epic tailgaters.

Our kids haven't gotten to spend a lot of time together growing up, but the time they spent was quality time, and somehow they became as close as cousins who live down the street from one another. Their bonds have only been strengthened by the fact that all the Pearl cousins have chosen to go to the same college, or to colleges that are very close to one another, where they socialize together, make mutual friends, and just keep getting closer.

Well, tomorrow before the crack of dawn I head out to the Midwest again, to visit my daughter-in-law and the twins (these granddaughters are making a flyer out of me!), and to help them get ready for the long trek eastward to Upstate New York. My husband and I are going to drive them home a few days from now, and then stay to help them settle in and prepare for my son's imminent return from Afghanistan. Looking at this picture of the two huggin' cousins makes me hope that, no matter how many miles separate my son's girls from the future children of his younger brothers, they'll end up being as close as my boys are to their cousins.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Not-Empty Nest

As I promised in yesterday's post, here are some pictures of the robin's nest that was built on the railing of the deck behind our house in the spring of 2004, camouflaged by some overhanging leafy lilac branches. You met the mother robin yesterday; now meet her offspring.

I took pictures of the baby robins at different stages of development, and they went from looking rather bald and blind and helpless, like this...

...to more feathery and alert, like this...

...to almost ready to fly away from the nest, like this...

Aren't these little guys just the cutest little things?

I worried so much about these baby robins' survival, because that nest would have been a piece of cake for a cat to find. We had a picnic table pushed right up against the deck railing, so all kitty would have had to do was to hop up on the table top and saunter right up to it. But miraculously, these babies survived their time in the nest. At least I hope they did: they were getting really close to maturing, and then we had to go out of town for a few days; when we returned, they were gone. The funny thing is, when I saw that the nest was empty, I missed them! I missed checking up on them every day--they were almost like pets to me.

Anyway, I think I got some great shots of that little filled-up nest. They remind me of something out of "Ranger Rick Magazine," if I do say so myself. (I used smaller pictures when I posted this earlier, because you used to be able to enlarge photos by clicking on them--but eBlogger has changed and I'm not sure that works anymore. I decided to redo the post with enlargements, in order to do these pictures justice!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

A TRUE Empty Nest

I've been using the terms "empty nest" and "empty nesters" a lot lately--too much, perhaps; I think it may be getting a little tiresome!--so I thought it was extremely apropos that I found one the other day, a true empty nest, right in my front yard.

I love taking pictures, but my favorite subjects are people (especially members of my family), animals (especially Allie--and now Finny, too!), and athletes playing football and lacrosse (especially my boys, my five all-time favorite athletes). I've never been much of a nature photographer. There is so much beauty in the world God created; however, I don't often think about trying to capture a bee perched on a flower, say, or a caterpillar inching its way across a dewy leaf. I'd much rather get a shot of someone's smile. But a couple of days ago, I was trimming back some ridiculously overgrown bushes in front of our house with electric hedge clippers, and I happened upon this abandoned robin's nest in our wild blueberry bush. It blended in so well with its surroundings that I didn't even see it until I'd come perilously close to destroying it. This empty little nest just struck me as very beautiful, and I was inspired to capture it on film (or on my digital camera's memory card, to be more accurate).

I'm so glad that I didn't decide to do my pruning in the spring, or it could have been disastrous for those robins! I hope they made it. We've had robins building nests near our house every spring since we've lived here, in all different locations, but only once actually got to witness the baby birds leaving the nest, taking their fledgling hops across the grass, and getting their first flying lessons from their mother. Most years, we missed that part--but we did find the blue eggs, hear the hungry peeps of the baby birds, and watch the mother fly endlessly back and forth in her search for worms to feed her young. Robins make such dedicated mothers!

There was only one year that we know of where both mother and babies met with disaster, due to a combination of a nest built too low to the ground and a neighborhood cat on the prowl. But otherwise, I like to believe that when the autumn leaves fell from the trees and we found the empty nests, all of those birdies had managed to make it out okay.

Thinking back, I remembered that in the spring of 2004, there was a robin's nest right on the railing of our deck out back, built underneath the overhanging branches of a big lilac bush that had been planted too close to the deck. I recalled that I'd taken a lot of pictures of those robins that year, so I decided to go back through my digital picture archives and look at them again. I found this wonderful shot of the mother robin standing on our deck railing, getting ready to feed her little peepers.I think this may be the best nature photo I've ever taken. There were a few others from that spring that I believe are worthy of sharing...so stay tuned for more photos tomorrow, this time of filled nests rather than empty ones.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor

Our boys are fond of telling all kinds of outrageous stories about the hardships inflicted upon them by their parents when they were growing up--yes, telling lies about us (or bearing false witness against us, to put it in Biblical terms). These are some of the doozies they've come up with over the years:

1. When they got holes in the knees of their Catholic grade school uniform trousers or gym sweatpants, we made them go around with patches sewn on them for the rest of the year instead of buying them new pants. (Actually, my bad: that one is true.)

2. They had to start mowing the lawn when they were still in diapers. (A bald-faced lie: they didn't start mowing until they were about eight years old--see yesterday's post for more on this subject.)

3. When they were in grade school, the white oxford button-down uniform shirts we made them wear were actually pink, because they were passed down so many times--and had worn so thin from a million washings--that their skin showed through the fabric. (Oops...true again.)

4. Before they started high school, they had to go to bed at 6:30 every night--even in the summer, when it was still light out and they could hear the sounds of the other kids on the street merrily playing outside through their open bedroom windows. (What a lie! they were allowed to stay up until 7:30 or 8:00, at least!)

5. Everyone else's parents--except the parents of my poor, deprived children--let their kids have their own computers and video game systems in their bedrooms. (I'm pretty sure this is a lie; but if it isn't...yay for us! My husband and I made our boys play their games and surf the web in plain sight, in shared family spaces.)

6. We were the only parents--the ONLY ones--who didn't buy our kids their own cars as soon as they turned 16 and got their driver's licences. (Again, I believe this is a lie; but if it's not, that's fine with us! If they thought this complaint would soften our resolve not to cave, they couldn't be wronger; our resolve was only strengthened!)

Remember the 8th Commandment my beloved sons, and never tell lies (especially about your dear old mom and dad--need I remind you of Commandment #4?). I'm sure that my perfect, angelic, innocent little granddaughters will never even think of bearing false witness against their parents!

(Oh, and in case you missed the Notre Dame game yesterday: the Fighting Irish had their first win, after starting out the season a dismal 0-2. They beat Michigan State 31-13. True story. Would I lie to you?)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Missing My Big, Strong Boys

Yesterday, I was missing my boys even more than usual.

I decided to mow the lawn as a favor to my husband, because he's been traveling so much for his job lately and I didn't want him to have to spend too much time today worrying about yard work. It's a Saturday in the fall, and days like this should be dedicated almost entirely to watching college football (my husband's passion). And it goes without saying that any work would definitely have to be done in time for the kick-off of the Notre Dame v. Michigan State game. No two ways about that. The grass can wait. The Notre Dame game cannot.

As I was pushing the mower around our large front yard, I grew nostalgic for the days when we had a bunch of big, strong boys to perform this service for us. They were our mowers, our rakers, and our shovelers--and now, all of those jobs will have to be done by a couple of creaky old fifty-somethings. People like to talk about all the freedom and spare time empty-nesters have; they don't tell them that a lot of that spare time will be spent doing yard work that their kids used to do!

Here is a picture of my husband teaching our youngest son, who was just shy of eight years old, how to use a lawnmower for the very first time. Dad always got the boys out there, in their safety goggles, when they were fairly young, and he spent a great deal of time teaching them how to operate the machine safely. While they were newbies, they would only be responsible for a small, rectangular patch of grass in the center of the yard; but eventually, they grew old enough and strong enough to do the edges and maneuver the lawnmower around trees, gardens, and other obstacles--and that's when the load became a lot lighter for us. When son #1 was learning, my husband left him the rectangle; when son #2 started, the oldest left the rectangle for his younger brother; and so on down the line, with my husband personally overseeing the newest recruit's training. He was a very good and patient teacher, and his efforts paid off: his sons became very efficient mowers.

Our four older sons tell us that we babied our youngest, because son #5 went a good number of years just mowing a small rectangle--until one of them pointed out that they'd all been regular mowers when they were a lot younger than he was. The jig was up: our baby was forced to join our stable of cheap and available (if not always willing) laborers. Ahhh...the good old days.

Mowing's not so bad, though; it's the shoveling I'm dreading. Where we live, we get lots and lots of snow, which is pretty to look at but a pain in the you-know-what to clear off our long driveway. We have a snowblower (my husband finally capitulated and bought one when the ranks began to thin out); but it weighs a ton and I'm too weak to push it. So when my husband is out of town, I'll have to break out the old trusty snow shovels. Look at all those shovels hanging from the rafters in our garage, next to the bikes (tools of pleasure and pain, side by side); it's sad to think that we no longer have a cheap work crew to man them! Like I said, I'm missing my boys. And I think this winter, I'm going to miss them more than ever.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying Away from the Empty Nest

I find I'm having a bit of trouble adjusting to my big, empty house, now that we don't have any kids living under our roof (except for our youngest, who will be coming back home during college breaks and summer vacations). The biggest problem I'm having is that I'm not sleeping as soundly or as long as I used to. As the wife of an airline pilot, I had to adjust long ago to sometimes sleeping alone in my bed; but there were always other people in the house with me, sleeping in the other bedrooms. These days, when I get into bed at night, I've noticed that our house seems to creak a lot more than it used to. I've always been a champion sleeper--it's my greatest talent. My norm is to sleep so deeply that I seldom remember any dreams. I can fall asleep on a dime, with two cups of coffee in my system and a movie that I've been dying to see in the DVD player. Even the splendiferous hi-def action on our big-screen T.V. and the movie surround-sound cranked to high volume can't rouse me when I'm in sleep mode. I can sleep with a book in my hand and wake up hours later to find that I haven't lost my place. I can sleep holding a cup of coffee without spilling a single drop. Sleeping like a proverbial log--that's my wheel house; that's what I'm missing these days. The bags under my eyes are growing like nobody's business. Two days ago, as I was dropping my husband off at the bus station (where he catches the bus that takes him to the aiport for work), I suddenly had an epiphany: instead of staying home alone every time he goes on a trip, I should go with him! Not every time, but sometimes. I was so excited about this novel idea--I only wished I'd thought of it in time to pack and go with him on his three-day trip to Dublin that very day. He was in Dublin yesterday, dontcha know*, and I could have been there, too--sipping a pint in a pub, instead of being here all by my lonesome. (*Imagine this phrase said with a brogue, like the Lucky Charms leprechaun or the Irish Spring actors, for a better effect.) It's sad, but in all the years he's been a pilot (almost a quarter of a century!), I've never ridden in the back of a plane that my husband was flying. Most airline wives accompany their husbands on trips from time to time. After all, the price is right: the flight and hotel are free, so the only expenses are meals and entertainment. And the layovers are only a day or two long, so there isn't time to spend an exorbitant amount of money. As great as that sounds, I've never done it. He's been traveling to all these wonderful cities in Europe for many years, and I've never gone to any of them with him. My fear of flying played a big part in that, of course; but the other stumbling block was that I was incapable of taking a cross-Atlantic trip and leaving my boys behind at home. And they were always so busy with school and sports schedules that, unfortunately, we never made it over to Europe as a family, either. But with my nest all emptied out, what's stopping me now (aside from that pesky fear of flying bugaboo)? My husband just got his schedule for next month, and there is a trip to Brussels that looks promising. It's a four-day trip, so we would have two whole days over there to sightsee and maybe have some nice meals--perhaps with some of those (yucky) sprouts for which that city is famous. Belgium is not a country that I've particularly yearned to see, but I do like their chocolates, and judging by the above picture, it's quite beautiful; so I think this is as good a destination as any for my maiden voyage overseas. I am going to be so proud sitting in the back (I hope in business class, but probably in coach!), knowing that my husband is at the controls. It's going to be hard for me to keep from bragging, saying to any fellow passenger who'll listen, "My husband is flying this plane!" Wish me luck on this one. As the date of the Brussels trip approaches, I may lose all this new-found bravado. But hopefully, I'll go through with it. And if I do, I'll bring my laptop and blog from Belgium!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fortitude, Perseverance, and Faith

This is my oldest son and his wife, taken about a year and a half ago when they'd only been married for several months. These two haven't even celebrated their second anniversary yet, and already they've been through so much.

It seems that nowadays, people expect life to be a piece of cake--sort of an earthly paradise--and sometimes call it quits when things get too hard. Not these two: no, they have gotten through what can only be called an extremely difficult beginning to both their courtship and their marriage, and they've not only accepted their circumstances, but dealt with them with an extraordinary amount of grace. They are both perfect examples of the virtues of fortitude and perseverance in action. And they both have the key ingredient to surviving hardships such as theirs: the deep faith which is needed to get through all of life's trials and tribulations.

The year they were engaged, my son was deployed to Iraq, and they kept in touch via Skype while my son helped to defend our nation against terrorism and my daughter-in-law planned their wedding. Two months after my son's return, they were married. (What a joyous occasion!) They barely had time to settle into their married life together when, ten months after their wedding, my son left for another year-long deployment, this time to Afghanistan. And then, shortly after he arrived at his post, we got a call from him: they were expecting...and not only that, but they were expecting twins.

My daughter-in-law moved back home with her family so that they could support her through her pregnancy and help out when the babies were born, and she carried the twins--identical twin baby girls--until they were just days away from what is considered full-term for twins. Each baby weighed as much as many single-birth babies do, and the three of them were home from the hospital within four days. The babies are over three months old now, and growing like weeds; they've already outgrown their three month-sized outfits. They are happy, chubby little dolls, healthy and thriving under their mother's watchful eye. It's tough enough to care for one new baby when your husband is around; but their mommy has had to take care of two, and she's had to do it solo. My daughter-in-law is a slim, small-boned person, sweet and soft-spoken, but don't let that soft exterior fool you; she's one of the strongest and most courageous people I know.

My son got to spend a few weeks of leave with his wife and daughters when the babies were about a month old. Otherwise, he's had to be satisfied with seeing his family in 2D on a computer screen when he Skypes with his wife. But he's on the home stretch now, just weeks away from returning home--thank God! The weeks can't go by quickly enough! These two exceptional young people will be rewarded soon for their fortitude, perseverence, and faith--and hopefully their days of living apart are over, once and for all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Puppy Love

Isn't this the cutest picture? That's my #3 son's dog Allie on the left. If you've followed this blog at all, you've heard so much about her that you're probably saying, "Enough already about Allie!" Allie is a 10-year-old Plott Hound/Lab mix that my son adopted from his aunt about a year ago, and she is so sweet and affectionate that she has wheedled (and licked and nuzzled and snuggled) her way into all of our hearts. On the right is the scrappy newcomer: that's my #4 son's recently adopted doggie, Finnegan (or "Finny," for short). He's a mere pup, only 8 months old, a handsome hybrid of German Shepherd and Lab.

About two months ago, my #4 son got a job in the same city in VA (make that in the same building in the same city in VA) as son #3, and he not only moved down there, but also moved into his older brother's condo. You'd think that having Allie around would have quelled his urge to get a dog of his own, but it didn't! So now we have another adorable addition to the Pearl family.

From what I hear, Finny appears to be in love with Allie, even though she is a much older woman. I think this picture of these two lovebirds is just priceless. Look at them, dancing--I'm sorry, I mean napping--cheek to cheek. Can I get an "AWWWWW..."?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Priceless Art, on a Shoestring Budget

This is a print that I purchased yesterday. I was feeling a bit glum after a doctor's appointment (nothing serious), so I decided to visit my favorite antiques/gift shop downtown as a little pick-me-up. This unique little establishment on our town's main thoroughfare is a place where they always seem to have, as the name implies, "Just the Thing" you're looking for--even if you don't know it until you walk inside. I wasn't planning to buy anything, I really wasn't. Sometimes I like to pop in there and just have a look around. To me, window shopping through the wonderfully jumbled shelves--which are jam-packed with vintage, as well as reproduction vintage, goodies, all arranged in a seemingly haphazard, but pleasantly eye-catching way--is almost like strolling through a mini museum or taking a trip back in time. I don't need to spend money at Just the Thing to enjoy the experience...but I do tend to bring home more must-have whatnots from there than from any of the other stores I frequent, and that includes T.J. Maxx.

As I said, when I went in, I had no intention of buying a blessed thing. But then, fortunately--or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, which I fear is how my hubby will look at it when he finds out about this unnecessary expenditure--I happened upon this vintage print of the most adorable little boy praying in front of a statue of Our Lady of Grace, and all of my resolve melted away in an instant. It was like falling in love at first sight. Just looking at it filled me with unutterable joy (and isn't that the whole purpose of art, after all?). The above photo really doesn't do it justice. This sweet, humble work of art, titled "His Prayer," has just about all the qualities that I find absolutely irrestible as far as artwork to adorn the walls of our home is concerned: 1) it's got undeniable vintage charm--even the water stain on the upper left-hand corner of the mat and the peeling paint on the old wooden frame don't take away from it; 2) it depicts a cherubic blond-haired, blue-eyed boy, who reminds me so much of my sons when they were little fellers; and 3) it has a religious theme to it--specifically, a Catholic theme. And it has been my experience that just about any artwork depicting the beauty and sanctity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is nearly impossible for me to resist. I love this drawing rendered in soft pastels; it inspires me, and it fills me with warm memories of the years my husband and I spent reciting a daily Rosary with our young sons.

Lest you think I broke the bank to pay for my newest object d'art, however, I must tell you that it was only $14. I carried this old 14 x 18" framed copy of "His Prayer" around the store for awhile--as I went back and forth in my head, telling myself all the reasons I needed to get it and all the reasons I didn't. (For one thing, I am running out of wall space in my house as it is!) But then I finally came to a decision: I wouldn't buy it unless I had enough cash to pay for it that way. I opened up my wallet, and I found two five's and four one's; yes, I had exactly $14. It was a sign! Cha-ching!

I know I probably shouldn't have bought this wonderful old print...but I'm awfully glad I did. I will no doubt look at it at least once a day and drink in the beauty of a piece that, to me anyway, is everything a work of art should be.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Pink

"In the pink" is an idiom we use when we want to say that someone is "in excellent health, physically and emotionally." Ding--ding--ding! That's me, that's how I'm feeling right now: and I'm happy, happy, happy! For the moment (knock on wood), everyone in my family is healthy and doing well, physically and emotionally. I have a husband I adore, five sons who are all gainfully employed and thriving (the youngest as a college student), a daughter-in-law who is unbelievably wonderful, and two gorgeous twin baby granddaughters who are definitely in the pink; they are, in fact, the very embodiment of that phrase. They are warm, chubby bundles of perfection: pink-cheeked and wide-eyed, cooing and smiling. I give their mommy so much credit for the job she's been doing with them while she awaits the return of my oldest son--it won't be long now!--from his year-long deployment.

I have begun my Christmas shopping, and--this may not surprise you--I find that shopping for two little girls, after a lifetime of shopping only for boys, is a real treat! I have had to reign myself in, because there are just so many cute things in the pink aisles of the toy store--the aisles that I used to cruise longingly, when I had no business being there, before heading for the action figure aisles. Don't get me wrong; I actually enjoyed the Matchbox cars, the trains and trucks, the Lego sets, the Dino Riders, the G.I. Joe's, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Transformers, and most of all, the dinosaurs. (The video games? Not so much, but...) Those are the types of playthings I was used to shopping for, and they were fun for me to buy; because the bottom line is, it's a joy to put anything under the tree that you know is going to thrill your children.

That being said...OH. MY. GOSH! I want to buy every girly thing I see! I have begun my Christmas shopping (a tad late, by my usual standards), and just look at what I've picked up for the girls. A tea set! And baby dolls! Just look at all that pink! I'm in hog heaven right now. I plan to enjoy perusing all the shelves filled with feminine items for years to come, and I'm telling you this: Grammy is going to do her darnedest to keep those two sweetie pies in the pink (or the purple)!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Today is the 10th anniversary of the most terrible act of war ever perpetrated against the United States on her own soil, the day that left the Twin Towers in New York City a pile of toxic rubble and snuffed out the lives of almost 3,000 souls. It was a day that heroes and saints were made, among them the NYC firefighters and policemen who rushed into an inferno, many of them sacrificing their own lives in their efforts to rescue others. Those of us who witnessed the scenes of unimaginable horror on that day--live, as it was happening, on our T.V. sets--will never forget it.

I know that recently there has been, and there will continue to be, a vast amount of media coverage about this tragic event, so I'm going to keep this post brief.

I came across this photo taken at Ground Zero, and it got me thinking about the vital part that faith plays in finding peace and healing after a tragedy such as this. When events like 9/11 happen, many lose their faith in God. Many even stop believing that He exists at all. They ask, "If there is a God, how could He do this? How could He let all those innocent people die like that? Where was He that day?" We have to remember that God doesn't perform acts of evil against those He created and loves; only men, of their own free will, can choose to kill their fellow men, viciously and indiscriminately, through cowardly and heinous acts of terrorism. God was not absent that day, He was anything but; He was there, crying along with the rest of us. And He was there to comfort the injured and the dying who reached out to Him in their agony.

Look at this perfect cross rising up out of the wreckage in the aftermath of the destruction of the Towers. You could say that it was a totally random occurrence--that those metal beams just happened to break apart from the building and land that way. That's true. But when I look at this cross, I get goosebumps. I think of it as a sign from a loving God, that even in our darkest hours--or especially in our darkest hours--He is there.

Today, we pray for all those souls whose lives were lost that fateful day, and for all the grieving loved ones they left behind. We Americans will never forget them. How could we?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My Son, the Writer (Chapter 2)

Yesterday, I posted a sample of my youngest son's creative writing--a "chapter" from a "book" he'd created as a 9th grade Honors English project at his Catholic high school. I have one more "chapter" that I would like to share, not only because it showcases my boy's remarkable (at least I think it's remarkable) writing talent, but because it will give you an idea of the unique teaching opportunities that homeschooling offers to both parents and their children. In this very autobiographical piece, my son calls himself Patrick; but the other details of this little story come largely--if not completely--from real life.

I hope I won't get slapped with copyright infringement charges or something, because I neglected to ask my son for his permission to reprint his work! I may have to delete this post, and yesterday's, too, at some time in the future. So in the meantime, enjoy!


For the past five years, I have been homeschooled by my two loving and caring parents. My mother taught me most of the subjects: English, science, history, spelling, and many others. My father also taught me, but he was gone a lot of the time, flying airplanes across the Atlantic. So because of these long and frequent trips, he wasn't in charge of many subjects; just two: math...and religion. He was my math teacher. And my theology professor.

Most of our religion classes went the same way: we would look at our edition of the Baltimore Catechism and not only glance at the questions, but memorize them word for word, until they were imprinted on my mind like a brand on the hindquarters of a cow, and then we would read from our Church History book and learn about the early Church and how it continued to thrive. However, every now and then, we would break this sometimes monotonous routine and have discussions, long discussions.

There were some days when I hadn't necessarily lost faith in God, but just had questions, questions that needed answering, whether they were things that I didn't have enough knowledge about, or things that greatly troubled my mind and soul. No matter what they were, my father always had an answer for them, solving each query reasonably and in a way that I could understand, while still staying true to the doctrines of the Church. His words were like a mother's face calming down her child with a single smile. I always enjoyed these discussions, possibly because after each one when I looked at the time, twenty minutes had suddenly disappeared from the clock and it was lunchtime. But I believe there's another reason.

One day, we were having another one of our discussions when at one point, I forget how we came to it, we began to talk about peer pressure. He said to me, "Patrick, next year you are moving up to high school, and while it will be an exciting time for you," pausing here, followed by a series of uhs and ums, "there are going to be times when you'll be tempted to do things that just aren't who you are. There'll be times when your friends will be doing things that your conscience will tell you not to do. And when these temptations are at their strongest, and your friends are all making fun of you for not joining them, just remember: we are not living for this world, but for the next." Ever since that day, those words have stayed with me. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but those words are worth a thousand eternities.

Wow, huh? Okay, here's my chance to give homeschooling a little plug (and also to give a little shout-out to the Seton Home Study School curriculum, which we used for five years and loved); because moments like the one in the last paragraph of my sons's story are the kind of priceless one-on-one teaching moments that you'd be hard pressed to find in any other school environment.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Son, the Writer

My husband and I homeschooled our youngest son for five years, from 4th through 8th grade--and this was an experience that was a complete joy and privilege for us. So during those years, I was my son's English teacher, and I became aware almost from the get-go that he was quite a gifted writer, especially for one so young.

We didn't homeschool our baby for high school--he attended the same Catholic high school to which his brothers had gone. One of the early assignments that his 9th grade Honors English teacher gave his class was an interesting creative writing project. The students were to create a "book" of sorts, by writing essays or very short fiction stories (unified in theme) that would form the "chapters." They had to make a front cover, compose a concise "about the author" blurb for the last page of the book (complete with a photo), and write up an attention-grabbing synopsis to put on the back cover. They also had to include some readers' comments along with the synopsis, so my baby asked his older brother and me to critique his work. Here's what my son's mommy, in her totally unbiased opinion, had to say about her boy's magnus opus: "A deeply moving and powerful narrative...this talented first time author gives the reader a glimpse into the heart and soul of a boy on the verge on manhood. Terrific!" I know that sounds over-the-top; but seriously, this seemingly mundane English project produced a rather impressive collection of eloquent prose--especially when you consider that it came from the pen (make that the computer keyboard) of a 14-year-old boy. His brother commented," A remarkable debut effort. Very insightful. I couldn't put it down." (Can you tell my #2 son and I were trying to make our comments sound like the kind you find on real book jackets?)

For proof that I'm not just an overly proud but delusional mother, I give you the first "chapter" of my son's "book," with minor details omitted for privacy's sake:

A Hidden Gem
If you are in the downtown area of [our town], go past the highway, turn right at the first intersection--you know the one, where if you go straight, people will mistake you for an employee at Liberty Mutual--and keep going down that road. Keep going, keep going. Eventually you come to a heavily-wooded area. It comes suddenly, as if you were flying a plane over Africa and crashed into the rainforest without warning. Then, after going through a roller coaster made of concrete, on your right you will see a street, my street.

It's a comfortable little neighborhood, not too grand, not poor. It is like a Hershey's chocolate bar: sweet enough to satisfy the wealthiest person's craving, but not too rich to upset the poor person's stomach or checkbook. To an outsider looking in, it is just another street among many others. But as with most great things in this world, sometimes you just need to scratch away the surface and see what's inside.

Driving down the street, there are pleasant houses on either side, all of them tucked behind trees and surrounded by forest, as if the woods were fighting violently to regain their lost territory. Though they look nice, keep going past these imposters. Keep going. Just a little further...There it is! [our address] My home.

It is the last house on the right; a big, white house with black shutters. It is a two story building with a large front yard, big enough to fit five rowdy boys who decided never to grow up. To common passers-by, it is just an ordinary house at the end of some street. And yes, like any home, it is where I sleep, it is where I eat, and it is where I live. But to me, it is so much more than just an inn or a breakfast nook.

It is a familiar face that says, "Hello there! How was your trip?" after I've traveled long distances; a life-long friend that is always there when I don't know where else to go. It is my playground, my home field advantage for all my backyard football games; where our family-famous Wiffle Ball homerun derbies are held. It is my place of study; where I have been schooled for the past five years and still get schooled. It is where I learned about life, about the One who made me, and the One who sacrificed Himself for us.

This is where the seven O'Callaghans* live. And although there are nicer houses on our street, our house is a hidden gem, stowed away from the rest of the world. It is everything I want out of a house. Everything I need out of a home.

(*This is the fictional family name my son used for his stories--but his fiction is otherwise very autobiographical, and he's really talking about the Pearls!)

It is good for this mother to know that, although he's far away now and becoming happily immersed in college life, this is how my youngest son--the writer!-- feels about his family home.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Airplanes ARE Amazing!

You're probably thinking, "For someone who hates to fly so much, she sure posts a lot of pictures taken in airplanes." I know, it's a little weird. But here's the thing: I've been spending a lot of time in airplanes lately, and I'm trying to work through all my issues about flying. And I think perhaps blogging about it is somewhat therapeutic for me.

Anyway, this is a picture that I snapped from my window seat on my most recent plane ride--a return trip form the Midwest, where my husband and I were visiting with our daughter-in-law and her two adorable offspring. It was taken when we were in descent mode (which I like way, way better than take-off mode), not long before we landed safely at Logan Airport in Boston. As much as I dislike the whole flying process, I must admit that it is kind of amazing that on a flight that covered over 1100 miles in just 3-and-a-half hours, I'd sipped hot coffee and munched on Biscoff cookies, and even watched a Woody Allen movie called "Midnight in Paris" (which was much better than I thought it would be)--all while sitting in a comfy adjustable chair 30,000 feet above the ground. People all around me surfed the internet on their iPads while sitting in chairs 30,000 feet above the ground. Most people take such things for granted these days; but imagine how amazed our ancestors would have been by such a cushy ride just 100--or even 50--years ago.

Thinking about my flight, I am reminded of a Louis C.K. comedy bit that I saw on YouTube awhile back (and you can still catch it if you haven't yet). Louis C.K. is a comedian about whom I know very little, and I suspect that he's probably much too inappropriate in his stand-up act to suit my taste. But he did a very funny segment on Conan O'Brien's show a couple of years ago called "Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy." In this bit, he contends (and rightly so) that we live in an amazing world; but he says that it's wasted on a "generation of just spoiled idiots." He reminds us that not that long ago, we had to dial heavy rotary phones (remember those?)--and hated it when friends had too many zero's in their phone numbers!--whereas today, we have cell phones that make phone calls unbelievably effortless, convenient, and quick. We have a plethora of modern conveniences, he says, yet people complain whenever they encounter the least bit of inconvenience.

It's when he talks about flying, though, that I think this guy is funniest. Louis C.K. says he can't believe it when people tell their "horror stories" about being inconvenienced on a flight. As far as delays and such, he has no sympathy. When you can make it from NY to CA in 5 hours, he says, that's amazing. "It used to take 30 YEARS," he quips, "and people died along the way!" He's completely unsympathetic when a person who's had to sit on the runway for 40 whole minutes before his flight was cleared for take-off whines, "It was the worst day of my life!" He says he wants to shout at them, "DID YOU FLY INCREDIBLY THROUGH THE AIR, LIKE A BIRD?! DID YOU PARTAKE IN THE MIRACLE OF HUMAN FLIGHT?!...IT'S AMAZING!" How true that is! He goes on, "Everybody on every plane should be screaming 'WOW!' You're sitting in a chair--IN THE SKY!"

I guess I'm one of those "just spoiled idiots," since I've stubbornly refused to grab onto the idea that flying is the greatest thing since sliced bread. (If you've read this blog before, you know how much I dread flying.) But I really should get on the bandwagon, because the bottom line is this: without air travel, there is no way I would have been able to visit my twin granddaughters, who currently live halfway across the country, 4 times already since their birth on June 2. This is what I must focus on when I feel nervous during take-offs: that without the miracle of human flight, I probably would have seen my granddaughters only in photos thus far. Yes, I suppose airplanes are amazing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Circle of Life, Illustrated

Here is a picture of my husband in 1985, giving it his all to get a smile from our second-born son. I love the way he put his whole face into it--how could a baby resist such a face? (And for the record, he does have clothes on in this photo. We lived in Florida at the time and it was HOT, so he often went shirtless; and men wore shorty-shorts back then--think Larry Bird in his heyday.)
Now, 26 years later, here's a recent picture of my husband working to get a smile from one of our first-born son's 3-month-old twin daughters. His hair isn't as dark as it used to be, he's retired his Naval Aviator's requisite 'stache, and when he wears shorts, they go to his knees, thank goodness; but otherwise, this picture gives me a distinct feeling of deja-vu.
My husband was once just a father; now, he's the father of a father. Life is indeed a circle...someone please hand me a Kleenex--and cue the "Lion King" soundtrack.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Easy Riders

Do you feel like you're seeing double? I know, isn't it crazy? It's pretty obvious when you look at pictures like this one that my twin granddaughters are identical. My husband and I flew out to the Midwest over the weekend to help out with them so that my daughter-in-law, who was a bridesmaid in her younger brother's wedding, could relax a little bit and enjoy his wedding and reception. We hadn't seen the girls, who are three months old now, since their Baptism, when they were just over a month old--and boy, have they changed! They are identical in their adorableness (is that a word? If it isn't, it should be): both of them are pink and chubby and round-cheeked, with big blue eyes that take in everything going on around them and perfect little rosebud mouths that periodically produce the most incredible smiles. Needless to say, we had a wonderful weekend because we got to spend so much time feeding and holding and cuddling these little darlings.

In a few weeks' time, the girls are going to get to know those car seats of theirs very well, because they are going to have to make a 20-some-odd hour trip east to go back to their house in Upstate NY, in order to be there to greet their daddy when he comes home from Afghanistan. Luckily, though, aside from being very easy on the eyes, these babies are a couple of easy riders, that's for sure. Once you strap them into their car seats and put them either in the car or the double stroller, they usually cork right off and sleep like lambs the minute you get in motion. Their mommy has had to endure a lot over the past year--including an entire pregnancy, months of bedrest, the birth of twins, and caring for two infants for four months, all without her husband by her side--so if anyone deserves an easy ride east, it's her. Let's pray for that!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Shaking Down the Thunder from the Sky

My husband, the "iMan" as I like to call him ("The iMan and His Apps" from July 26 has more on this), just loaded a new, exciting app onto his iPhone. It enables him to watch Notre Dame football games, in real time, on his phone. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!! (A light splits through the clouds, shining down from Heaven, and the angels rejoice). It's like a miracle!

Yesterday, we attended the wedding of our daughter-in-law's younger brother, and during the reception the iMan was able to watch the Irish play on a teeny tiny screen while he held one or the other of our not-so-teeny-tiny-anymore twin granddaughters in his arms. Until he found this miraculous app, he didn't know what he was going to do. It was a real conundrum: he was going to be away from a television set for the duration of an entire Notre Dame football game--and it was the opening game of the season, a home game, a game that Notre Dame was favored to win by 11 points. The Irish had gone into the season ranked 16th in the nation and the legions of loyal fans who live and breathe Notre Dame football felt they had reason to hope, after so many dry years, that Brian Kelly was the guy to turn things around, and THIS might be the year that the Irish would make a run for the national championship. Yes, this was a game that couldn't be missed...so thank goodness the iMan found a way not to miss it. Right?

I'm thinking wrong, actually, because if you're a die-hard Notre Dame fan, yesterday's game was a train wreck. And if you didn't get a chance to watch it, that might be a good thing. Notre Dame lost to South Florida--a team that they were predicted to beat handily--23-20. In spite of racking up 508 yards to South Florida's 254 (that's right, they gained twice as much yardage), our boys in blue and gold just made a gazillion mistakes and couldn't seem to put enough points up on the board to get the job done. Thunderstorms caused two lengthy delays during the game. Unfortunately, though, we're not talking about metaphorical thunder here. It wasn't because the football team was inspired by the lyrics of the Notre Dame Victory March to "shake down the thunder from the sky." (And they didn't wake up any echoes, either.) The stadium had to be evacuated twice because of lightning strikes--something that had never happened before in Notre Dame's history. It's almost as if God was as angry at the Irish yesterday as my hubby was! Actually, my husband wasn't really angry--just very disappointed and bummed out.

Anyway, it's early yet. You can't give up hope after the season opener. So let's be eternal optimists like my middle son and believe that anything is possible: for instance, it's still possible that the Irish will be 11-1 at the end of the season. Hey, it could happen! GO IRISH!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Witnessing the Sacrament of Matrimony

Is there any greater honor than being included on a wedding guest list and acting as a witness to the joining of two lives in the Sacrament of Matrimony? My husband and I are thrilled that today we will be guests at the wedding of our daughter-in-law's younger brother and his lovely fiance; we will be there to share in their joy as they become man and wife and begin their married life together. We are looking forward to their Catholic wedding Mass, a holy and sacred event like none other. But at the same time, we are looking forward to spending time with our wee granddaughters, not only in the cry room at the church, but at the reception afterwards. (Lucky us--we are seated at the same table as Bonny Babe and Cutie Pie! Ours will be the best table!)

Here's wishing these two wonderful young people a long and happy life together! In celebration of their marriage, here's a toast to the happy couple:

A Gaelic Wedding Prayer:

May the blessings of the Lord

who brings love and joy and health

follow you all the days of your life.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Oh, You Beautiful (Paper) Doll!

My daughter-in-law and her sister like to periodically go on what they call "shonding" expeditions (a decidedly "girls only" type of activity that uses shopping as a vehicle for female bonding). Having raised only boys, I can tell you that this was not an activity that was ever popular in our household. If there's one activity that boys hate--and one that's sure to accomplish the exact opposite of bonding--it's shopping (unless it's at the video game store, but if there's one thing I hate, it's the video game store!).

Anyway, this morning after a feeding we bundled the twins into their carseats and took them for a little ride, and their mommy hit some garage/thrift/estate sales. It was a great opportunity for my daughter-in-law and me to do a little female bonding of our own. And I can only imagine how much fun it will be for her when the babies get older and the three of them can sift through all the thrift sale goodies together. There will probably be a lot of "shonding" in their future!

My daughter-in-law found some great deals on clothes, children's books, and fabric in our travels today; but I think the neatest thing she brought home with her was a large collection of paper dolls, most of them quite old. Paper dolls were extremely popular playthings for little girls of my generation, but you just don't see them that much these days. Looking through this collection was like taking a trip back in time: there were "Brady Bunch" paper dolls; there was a "Mrs. Beasley" paper doll set (remember Buffy's doll, Mrs. Beasley, from that old T.V. show "Family Affair"?); there were bridal party paper dolls, and Barbies, too; but best of all, there were some vintage babies and children which were just too cute for words.

My very favorite is this vintage little boy (surprise, surprise; the mother of five boys fell in love with the little boy paper doll!). I think it's so funny that "I am a good boy" is emblazoned on the front of one of his little paper outfits. There is a vintage little girl paper doll, apparently the sister to this one, and I noticed that none of her little paper dresses has "I am a good girl" written on them. Hmmm...I suppose this is because it's little boys who have the rep for naughtiness, while everyone knows that little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. I guess this little boy just wanted to make it clear that, his Y chromosome notwithstanding, he's a perfect angel. But you know, my father-in-law always used to tell his kids that they shouldn't brag; he'd say, "If you're good, you don't have to tell anyone; they'll tell you." So...methinks this little paper guy doth protest too much, perhaps. But isn't he just beautiful? What a doll!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Smile, and the World Smiles with You!

I don't want to waste too much of the precious time I have here visiting with my daughter-in-law and my little granddaughters worrying about keeping up with my blog. But the babies are sleeping right now (although due to wake up again soon), so I thought I'd sneak away and quickly post this adorable picture. Because, newsflash...the twins are smiling now!
(I bet you're smiling now, too, after looking at Bonny Babe's happy little face.)

I didn't catch one of Cutie Pie's smiles on film yet, but she looks pretty much exactly like this; so just multiply this face times two, and you'll have an idea of the cuteness by which I am currently surrounded!