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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

We celebrated big time this year!  On Friday night, the kid's school had a Trunk or Treat where there is a service at the church (John-Paul sang in the choir) followed by trick or treating in the parking lot (hence the "trunk").  I think it's a healthy way to celebrate the holiday...a little secular and a little holy :)

Today we had a birthday party for the October Birthday babies, then a Halloween Parade, and finally we went Trick or Treating at a couple neighborhood houses.  Tomorrow at school, they get to dress up as saints for All Saints Day.  Pictures of that will come, but for now, enjoy these spooky sights from today's festivities:

 John-Paul is a race car driver

 Eamon is Batman

 Firefighter Andrew

 I love my boys.

 And my Ballerina girl.

 I was supposed to be Jane Fonda circa 1985.  I even had a leotard to wear, but chickened out at the last minute.  I still look 80s-ish, right?
 After I put on all my 80's makeup...John-Paul said: Mom, you should look like that everyday!  You look good!  (I'm scared for what kind of girl he's going to bring home!)

 OK, my husband is awesome.  He put on this wig and hot pink (short!) shorts and a tank top to become Richard Simmons.  He would not let me take a picture of the outfit for fear of students finding it.  But, he definitely rocked it!

 Wilma Flinstone and Bam-Bam

 Two Beautiful Ballerinas, one willing to pose, and the other...not so much.

 My Goddaughter, Bridget was Pebbles.  She is wearing the medal from the 5K she ran earlier today, in which she placed 3rd for her age group (up to 12).  She just turned 8 years old!

 Fred and Wilma

 Snow White

 A baby lion

 The dollhouse is a favorite toy.

 What?!?  Two Batmansmen?
 Poor guy

 October Birthday Babies: Phil, Andrew, Megan, Brogan and Ryan

 Maggie will smile for cake

 My other Goddaughter, Abby as a fairy princess

 Waiting for the Parade to start

 Autumn in New England

 Just gorgeous scenery

Daddy's Little Girl :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hi Lo: October 29th


I'm going to start with the Lows first...it was that kind of week.

LO's:
1) Spent most of our free time this week calling people to see what we could do about the $10,000 the IRS wants.  Talked to lawyers, CPA's, someone from our Congressman's office, and the IRS many many times.  It seems like we're going to have to pay it, because although we didn't know it, we didn't follow the law to get the credit properly. 

2) What makes me really mad is that if Phil and I were not married, just living together and raising our children, then we could have gotten the credit no problemo.  But you try to do things right, and you get no benefit.  Well, at least in this life ;)

3) I got a call from Eamon's preschool teacher on Thursday.  Apparently he was talking about the saints and Heaven and how he wanted to die to be with Jesus all the time.  Then, a minute later, he choked on his lunch.  Weird and scary or beautiful and coincidental?

4) Had a staff meeting at work, and they will be meeting with me soon (as with all my co-workers) to analyze our time spent on billable work vs. non-billable work. I am nervous because there's been quite a few slow days here over the summer and fall, and I have run out of billable work to do.  It's not my fault, but I wonder what they are going to say to me.

HI's:
1) I have a very nice relative who is offering to loan us the money so we can be indebted to her instead of to the IRS.

2) You guys rock!!  Thanks for your support and prayers.  I wish I could give you all hugs :)

3) We had a parent-teacher conference with John-Paul's 2nd grade teacher, and he is doing awesome.  He's at the top of his class, and she says she has seen him mature so much already this year.  She told us to get him some hard books to read because he finishes his work so fast.  He still needs to work on not talking out of turn...Mr. Know-It-All ;)
4) Even though our financial situation is ALWAYS a concern (more than we let others know), I have honestly been able to see how lucky we are in the way more important ways.  If someone told me one of my kids was really sick, I would gladly give all my money to make it better.  So money really doesn't matter.  Family does, and I've got an awesome one!

How were your weeks?

Have I mentioned?

Once a month, I will be writing an article over at CatholicMom.com.  My most recent article can be found here: Celebrating A Special Birthday.  And I have to admit that it was supposed to post on Eamon's actual birthday, but for some reason, Lisa posted it a month late...which made for perfect timing while we are struggling with the IRS.  More on that tomorrow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pity Party, Table for Two

Phil and I are down in the dumps lately.  Since Thursday night to be specific.  That was when I opened the mail to find a letter from the IRS.  Of course, my heart started pounding just seeing a letter from them, and when I opened it, I think my heart stopped for a second.

They say we owe them $10,000.

Back when we purchased our home from my parents, we qualified (or so we thought) for the First Homebuyer's Credit of $8000.  That credit was put in place for people just like us, who needed a little help to buy their first home, which would in turn help stimulate the economy.  We bought our house specifically at the time the credit was offered because we knew that without that money, we wouldn't be able to afford closing costs/taxes/insurance. 

Well, the little hitch at the time was that you couldn't buy a house from your descendants.  So I couldn't buy the house from my parents.  However, we talked to a CPA and friend who advised us to put the house in Phil's name only, and that way, he would not be buying the house from a descendant.  Legally and morally we would be able to get the credit.  And we did get the credit when we filed our taxes earlier this year.

So imagine our surprise when they asked for the $8000 credit back, plus $1600 in penalties and a few hundred dollars in interest...totalling $10,000. 

We looked into the laws, made some calls to the IRS, and discovered that they had changed the law in November 2009 (we bought in Feb. 2010) to say that you couldn't get the credit if you bought from your in-laws.  Ironically, you can buy from your brother or sister, but not your in-laws.  Hmmmm.

Right now, we are sending emails to our Congressman, and still trying to figure out if/how to fight this.  I'm not sure if we have any grounds to stand on, since it was a law, we just didn't know about it. 

It hurts because financially, we don't have that kind of money (that's about 18 weeks of Phil's take home pay), and because we feel unfairly targeted.  Huge corporations can find loopholes to get out of paying millions in taxes, and then they come after the poor guys who used their credit for it's intended purpose.

Please pray for us, I've gone through three stages of grief...Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and now I'm just in Depression.  Next comes Acceptance, and hopefully I'll get there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hi Lo: October 22nd




HI's:
1) Went to the Baptism of Laura's son.  Welcome to the Church, Joshua!  I also got to meet Yvette and Anthony:

Isn't it cool to meet people in real life when you feel like you already know them from their blog?

2) Happy Birthday this week to my oldest niece, Megan:
...and my nephew, Brogan:
...and my friend Marijanna:
 
October is a busy birthday month!

3) The fall weather is still beautiful.  We're getting close to having to turn the heat on in the house, but I'm fighting it for as long as possible.

4) Took the kids to get their flu shots last night.  This was a "Hi" because they got the flu mist instead of the needles. What a relief!

LO's:
1) I had a 24 hour stomach bug this week.  Literally 24 hours.  Now I'm only about 4 stomach bugs away from my ideal weight ;)

2) Still praying for a speedy recovery for a friend and a resolution to an investigation for another.  God Speed!

How were your weeks?  Spill it!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

From the Mouths of Babes

We were discussing Guardian Angels last night at dinner:

Maggie (2): My Guardian Angel is right here (patting seat beside her).

J-P (7): No, your angel can be anywhere close to you, even flying up above you!

Eamon (4): When I reach my hand up high like this...I can feel Jesus.

I bet you can, little buddy :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Journey to Phil, Part 6, The Finale

{Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5}

I was back home for the summer on Cape Cod, working in my parents ice cream shop just like every other summer, but this time was different. I was lonely. I was missing Phil, and my parents, being the witty people they are made sure to rub it in by asking me to fill the spoons, fill the napkins, fill the candy toppings, fill..fill...PHIL! I couldn't get him out of my head all summer.
It's called Katie's now...but it was Maggie's when we owned it.

Meanwhile Phil was at home in Maryland working a crazy job in a factory that required 12 hour shifts, including many overnights, but then also gave him a week off each month. We talked every single day, unless his work schedule didn't allow it. We bought phonecards and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Man, having cellphones back then would have been so much easier and cheaper!

Remember my ex-boyfriend, "Zach"? Well, he was also home from college during the summer, living at his parent's house about an hour away. He would call me and make excuses why we needed to hang out...he wanted to talk, he had some old things to give me, he was in the area, etc. The first night we met up (I have a really guilty complex, and breaking up with him made me feel awful) we met at a location in between our houses, and I got in his car so we could drive and talk. We drove around looking for a place to eat, and he started crying and became a little hysterical, and started driving really really fast. I got scared watching him lose it while driving and began begging him to pull over. But he kept going faster and started talking about how his life was worthless. I burst out crying out of pure panic for my own life and he finally snapped out of it and pulled over. I ran out of the car away from him, and he followed me and apologized profusely. I eventually got back in the car (what else could I do?) and he drove me back to my car and I went home. That night was a great insight into his insanely jealous personality, and I was so glad to be away from it.

Another day, I was home getting ready to go to work, and he just showed up at my house. He had things to drop off to me (like gifts I had given him in the past) and was just "in the area". Stalker, much? And still there was another night that he walked into the ice cream shop at closing time just because he wanted some ice cream. He lived an hour away! He was beginning to creep me out, and yet kept me feeling guilty by telling me he was never going to find anybody else, and then he started drinking once back at college. I tried to play nice and told him we could be friends, but he said I wouldn't want to be friends with the person he had become. That was the last time I heard from him. But before he was out of my life completely, he managed to make me feel so bad that I even began questioning my relationship with Phil. Zach had almost suicidal tendencies and I felt compelled to help him by staying with him. It was psychological abuse, and I couldn't tell anyone about it. Least of all poor Phil who didn't want to (or deserve to) hear about my ex boyfriend. It was a hard summer, but I never did break up with Phil (thanks be to God!) and things got better with each passing day.

On Phil's three weeks off that summer (one each month) he flew up to visit me. He worked in my parent's store just so we could be together, and we were able to do some "touristy" things on the Cape.  We went over to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, swam at the beach, and went on little dates.  We were falling more in love, absence does make the heart grow fonder, and started talking about marriage in a more personal tone this time...as in our future marriage :)

{As an aside, when I was a little girl, my brother Brian (9 years my senior), used to come into my bedroom at night and read a story of a Saint to me and my little sister. One night, he read the story of St. Therese and I was so touched by her story. I heard tales of people who would pray to her and in response get a rose, or be able to smell a rose when there weren't any around. I decided that I would tell God that the man I was supposed to marry would bring me one white rose. How I wish my prayers could continue to be so confident. All my life, I prayed for that one white rose, and never told a soul about it. I wanted to make sure it would truly be Heaven sent through my future spouse.}

OK, back to the story at hand...


Getting back on campus in the fall of 2000 was so wonderful. I was a senior and moved into off-campus housing (literally in the projects) with my little sister, and Phil (a junior) returned to dorm life on campus. Phil was in a household, and had a lot of weekly household commitments (Rosary, Mass, Lord's Day, etc) but the rest of his free time was spent studying, working, or with me. By God's Providence, his household actually had an off-campus house directly across the street from mine, so he would hang out there a lot. We even got a dog together, named Cupid, that I was able to rescue through a co-worker. We were very disciplined, getting up early to meet at morning Mass (around 6am) then work out at the gym, then begin our school/work day, and each evening we tried to eat dinner together and take Cupid on a walk while praying the Rosary. I long for those peaceful walks together now, but we're in a different season of life at the moment :)

One night, after a particularly long day of work and school, I went home to my bed and found a teddy bear and a white rose laying on my pillow. I called Phil right away, and asked him what it was for, and he said it was just because he loved me. There it was, my sign! Good thing too, because I was pretty determined to marry Phil without it!

That year flew by, and with spring approaching, I decided to stay an extra year to get my MBA while Phil finished his undergraduate degree. He decided to stay on Campus that summer to work and take a couple courses so that he would be able to work more once his senior year started. Oh, and the fact that we could be together all summer probably influenced our decisions a little bit!


Just before my undergraduate graduation, we had Spring Formal dance that we wanted to attend. On the day of the dance, we went to lunch and then he asked me to take Cupid on a walk with him. I didn't want to go because it was drizzling outside and Cupid hated the rain. But he pushed for it, and we decided to go and just leave the dog inside. We walked all over campus and ended up at the Portiuncula, or “Port”, a replica of one of the first churches near Assisi that St. Francis repaired after Jesus commissioned him to “Go, rebuild my Church.”


Phil took me behind it to the Marian Grotto.


He bent over to pick up a pink rose, which were all over the place in Mary's honor, and gave it to me saying: This is because my love for you is true. Then he picked up a white rose, saying: This is because my love for you is pure. And finally he handed me a red rose saying: And this is because I'll love you forever. At that point, he got down on one knee and proposed to me! I said "Oh my gosh" about 1,423 times before finally saying YES!! Then I went home and called my mom, who already knew it was coming because Phil had called home and asked their permission for my hand. Ahhh, my Prince Charming! We went to the dance that night, and I truly felt like the Belle of the Ball with my handsome date at my side and a gorgeous ring on my hand.

That summer, we rarely saw each other during the week, despite the fact that Phil now lived across the street from me. We both worked a lot to save for our future together, while maintaining our course loads. Phil was able to work 30 hours a week doing landscaping at the college, and I worked full-time during the day as a bookkeeper for a medical office while taking all of my classes at night. We would try to squeeze dinner and a walk in after class, if we were lucky. It was a rewarding, hard-working period of our lives and I'm so glad we did it because we were able to save up money for our wedding, which was being planned for May 17, 2002 on beautiful Cape Cod.

We got through that final year at Steubenville together, Phil was finishing up his undergraduate degree in Theology, while I completed my MBA in April 2002.  I moved back home for the month before our wedding to get everything ready.  My brother Brian was also getting married (8 days before me) and Phil and my sister drove home for that wedding, before we all returned to Steubenville to watch Phil graduate.  Then we both drove back to the Cape for the last time before our wedding which was only a couple days away!!

Our wedding day was just beautiful, and Phil and I were joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony at the tender ages of 23 (me) and 21 (him).  When I see the pictures now, I can't believe how young we were, but how old we felt!







We went to Punta Cana, in the Caribbean, for our Honeymoon and stayed at an all-inclusive resort that was amazing.  It was a wonderful way to complete my journey to Phil, and begin our journey together.
 

And we're still enjoying the ride!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Morning Offering in Song

Taken this morning on the way out the door to school....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hi Lo: October 15th

HI's:
1) My littlest three went on a fieldtrip to a pumpkin patch yesterday, and came home with these lovely pumpkins.  If you're very observant, you'll notice there's only 2 pumpkins because somehow between the pumpkin patch, school , and home, Maggie lost hers.  She's not very observant ;)

A pumpkin is a pumpkin, no matter how small.  A pumpkin is a pumpkin, brown spots and all. :)

2) We've been having some wonderful New England Fall weather this week, crisp cool air and beautiful colors on the trees.

3) Phil's birthday was great, and because it fell on Columbus Day this year, he even got the day off from work!  We took the family out to breakfast, then to daily Mass, and then to the zoo and playground.  In the afternoon, a babysitter came over and Phil and I went and saw The Social Network.  I loved it (except for the party/sex scenes) because I love documentaries, and even though this probably isn't exactly how it happened, I think it was pretty close to reality.  Phil couldn't help but focus on how awful college life is portrayed in "normal" colleges...so unlike our experience at FUS!

LO's:
1) My children's principal had surgery on Thursday, and we are praying hard for her that all goes well in her recovery.

2) One of our friends (who teaches with my husband) has been accused of sexual misconduct by a student from 16 years ago.  There is no way this is true, and yet, our friend must suffer through the public embarrasment of an investigation before her name gets cleared.  Please keep her in your prayers!

How was your week?  What were your ups and downs?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Languages of Love

Have you all heard of the 5 Love Languages?  They were "discovered" by a marriage counselor, Dr. Gary Chapman 

(The following is quoted from his website)

After many years of counseling, Dr. Chapman noticed a pattern: everyone he had ever counseled had a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own.
Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five love languages proved to be universal and comprehensive: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
Quality Time
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Receiving Gifts
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
Physical Touch
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

You can take the quiz here to find out what language you speak.

Personally, I show my love through Gift Giving, and I prefer to receive my love through Acts of Service.  This is great because Phil definitely shows his love through Acts of Service, but I'm not sure how he prefers to receive love.  I don't think it is through Gift Receiving...I think it might be Physical Touch.  I better work on that, because I think it's so important to be able to love people in the way they feel most loved.

What Love Language do you "speak" and which language to you want to "hear"?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Journey to Phil, Part 5

(Parts 1-4 can be found on the last four Tuesday posts)
Here we were, on our trip to Assisi and Rome, dating only officially for the past 3 weeks, but already feeling like He was The One. One thing that is true about traveling together, is that the relationship does blossom very quickly when you are together all.the.time in vacation-type spots. We had even seen each other multiple times with crazy bed head and morning breath upon waking in the overnight trains. Don't get the wrong idea, we were always surrounded by plenty of friends :)


We arrived in Assisi, and had lunch with the whole school (about 100 students) in a big restaurant. In Italy, the wine flows like water, and that's what is offered to drink. It was a hot day, and we all were thirsty, and didn't realize how much wine we had consumed before we stood up to leave. Whew, you live, you learn! I guess the wine provided the courage Phil needed to (finally!) kiss me in the streets of Assisi. I could have died a happy death right there. I was the first girl Phil had ever kissed (or dated) and I knew I wanted to be the last :)

On the second night in Assisi, Phil got up the nerve to kiss me again, and then we had a lovely talk where he let me know that since kissing was all we could do until we were married, we should take it slow.  Swoon, is there anything more attractive than a holy and chaste man?  I think not.  I was so happy to finally be dating someone like him.

We travelled on to Rome, where we got to be in the Wednesday Audience of Pope John Paul II on Ash Wednesday.  It was Phil's first time seeing the Pope, and honestly no matter how many times you see him, it's just as exciting!

After that big school-wide trip, we went back to Austria to study and continued to travel on the weekends.  Phil and I (with many other students) were able to visit Poland, France, Belgium, Ireland, other cities in Austria, Germany, and Italy again.  When we did go back to Italy, we were able to go to the Easter Vigil in the Vatican and met up with my parents and sister who had come over to see us and travel around Europe.  My mom and dad loved Phil and could see how serious we were.  Phil himself confirmed it by saying "I love you" when we were in Ireland.  Of course, I had fallen in love with him way before that, but was eagerly anticipating his proclamation of love for me :)

Our semester in Austria was over way too fast, and soon it was time to pack up for our trip home.  We hatched a plan that I would fly into Boston (since I already had my round-trip ticket) and then the next day, hop a flight down to Maryland to meet his family.  When I arrived at the airport, Phil gave me a huge hug, and then his dad gave me an even bigger one.  I was in like Flynn!  After visiting with his family, we drove to Franciscan University's campus in Ohio so that I could drive home with my little sister to Massachusetts (a thirteen hour car ride). We got the chance to hang out with some friends on campus before it was time to part ways.  I was so sad the day that he went home to Maryland for the summer, and I headed back to Massachusetts. 

Would our love stand the test of time and distance?......

Monday, October 11, 2010

Phil's 30th Birthday Bash, Which We Think Was Kind of a Smash!

Birthday Presents:

Priestly Presence:

Games for Thinkin':

Booze for Drinkin':

Partying with the Peeps:

Catching up on Sleep:

Newlyweds:

Funnies Said:

Dad is So Needed:

Baby is So Feeded:

A Moment on the Lips:

Is Forever on the Hips:

Baby Gang Sign:

Cheese and Whine:

The Birthday Boys:

With Birthday Toys:

Happy 30th Birthday to the BEST person I know :)