irish i may

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fives Favorites for the First Time: New Jersey

This is my very first link up with Hallie at Moxie Wife.  I am enjoying her writing and also her really fun community of readers.

The boys and I flew in from Dallas just two days ago, on a rainy August evening that reminded me of my first flight into Newark 27 years ago.  I had flown in from my home airport,the green, pristeen, Orlando International.  I landed in the part of New Jersey that makes visitors think that the "Garden State" was nicknamed by a satirist.  I thought to myself, "I am landing in hell.":

But you can't judge New Jersey by its industrial corridor, and even places that are not scenic have much to recommend them, like employment. Newark, too has many of its own virtues.  Here are five reasons (besides family, friends, and two great jobs) that we are happy to be back home in New Jersey:

1. Italian Bakeries:
One of our favorites, by the way, is Calandra's, which has their original location in beautiful Newark.  We really missed our zeppole di San Giuseppe the last couple of years.

2. Sandwiches like this:

This one is eggplant, roasted red pepper, and fresh mozzarella with a balsamic vinaigrette. I got mine today from Anthony and Sons and I nearly wept from joy!

3.  Jersey Pizza: truly, once you are spoiled by New Jersey/ New York pizza, it is very hard to find something comparable in other states. Of course we still ate pizza in Arkansas, we just complained obnoxiously. 

4. Chinese food that is not from a buffet.  One of our local faves is the Hunan Room in Morris Plains. Try the delicious Szechuan crispy beef. 

5. Bagels. Although I grew up in Florida, thanks to my Bronxite father and the Bagel King, which opened in Winter Park when I was just 9 years old, I was in college before I tasted a frozen bagel.  There are more good bagel places in New york, of course, but our little local shop, Time For a Bagel,  is excellent!

There are many other reasons to love New Jersey, but, hey, its a foodie state, so these stand out.  Now that I have made myself hungry, I think I will stop for that  bagel on the way to work!

Chin up,


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

On Facebook and Nosy Ladies...

My daughter and I were surprised week to find out a good friend of my son just broke up with her boyfriend.  A 19 year old breaking up with her boyfriend, of course, is not such a shocking thing.  Where we were all surprised is that this young romance was chronicled over the last year on Facebook with hundreds (literally) of lovey-dovey snapshots and pronouncements of affection.  So what happened?  Well, we don't know and what's more it's not our business. However, having been made party to the relationship, we now want to be party to its end game, which brings me to...

...a fantastic post from the ever-radical Matthew Warner on quitting Facebook.  As someone who is only rarely on Facebook any more, I took it as encouragement to take the last radical step and just disable my account.  I like that Warner's reasons ultimately boiled down to whether FB was a good use of his God-given time in building relationships, or not so much so.  

This was particularly interesting to me because my oldest, showing an amazingly mature attitude, disabled her own account last spring for reasons both practical and philosophical, many of which were echoed in Warner's own thinking.   One of Mia's most important reasons was the one that Warner called "Life through a Lens".  As he put it, the living of your life became less important than the reporting of it.  I recall on that note a couple of occasions in high school when she persuaded either her grandmother or I to buy her an new outfit for a certain event, rather than risking the humiliation of being photographed for Facebook in a re-worn dress!

But, as Mia enters her senior year, she noted that even this far into college, many of her friends were still very concerned with the public nature of their social lives.  You travel, go out to eat, attend parties, go to baseball games,  relax on Rejects Beach; who cares unless its all recorded on Facebook? Its not so much that you are having fun, its that everyone KNOWS you are having fun. Soon you aren't having fun to have fun, but to seem to have fun. Hmmm... 

One of her other big reasons for quitting FB was the question of who she gave access to her private life.  Not just an enormous, increasingly ubiquitous, corporation, but even individuals, most of whom she only knows casually.  Some time ago I was talking to my high school students about our school policy forbidding teachers to "friend" students on their private accounts.  I suggested to them that even they deserved an arena of privacy that I and other school personnel did not have access to.  Most of them had never even considered such a notion.  To my son's young friend, though I won't have the chance, I would say something similar.  She deserves to have a youthful romance without exciting the interest of nosy middle-aged ladies and their teen-aged daughters. Or, as Warner put it:

Intimacy requires some level of privacy and exclusivity of audience. That’s what makes it special. With Facebook, if we have something good to share, we rarely *only* share it with somebody special. The ability to share it with *lots of people* is too easy and the temptation too strong. This has led to fewer special, personal and intimate moments in our friendships.

 Sounds about right, no?  For even more encouragement to quit FB, I found this great post from Mama needs Coffee.  Less Facebook, more Downton Abbey?  I can handle that!

Monday, August 5, 2013

An August Daybook...


Outside my window... welcome rain.

I am thankful...  for our comfortable and homey summer cottage here in the heart of the Arkansas Wine Country, and for our friends's hospitality.

In the kitchen... banana bread, peach pie, brownies; its baking weekend! 

I am creating... scrap books of some of the kids' artwork and school papers.  

I am wondering... what we are going to do with our "summer dog".  "Sir Henry", a local stray attached himself to us almost as soon as we arrived.  He's really an awesome little dog and we are trying everyone we know to find him a new home. I don't want to break his little doggie heart by dropping him off at the shelter.

I am reading... A Conspiracy of Friends ,third book in the Corduroy Mansions series by Alexander McCall Smith and The Divine Pity by Fr. Gerald Vann, OP.  Also reading The Ranger's Apprentice and True Grit (for the fourth time) aloud to my younger sons.  Although I am a little embarrassed to admit it I am also reading City of Bones along with Vince and his girlfriend, Annie in anticipation of the movie.  I have no particular interest in the movie, but it does give me something to share with the kids.  

I am exercise pants with a blue sleeveless polo and house slippers.

I am hoping... to find a job this week.  I have a strong possibility with a school where I substituted before we moved, but I am still waiting, and hoping, and praying...

I am looking forward to... seeing my husband again in about three weeks. This summer is by far the longest we will have been apart. I now stand in rapt admiration of Navy wives.

Around the house... sorting and re-packing the boys' things for college and pulling together what they still need.  

I am pondering...what its going to be like to have our twins so far away in college this fall. Sigh...

A favorite quote for today..."Live each day as it comes, like a bird in the trees, without worrying about tomorrow." -St. Louis De Montfort

One of my favorite things...the $3.00 theater in Forth Smith:

A few plans for the rest of the week: sleepover parties, movie nights, watching the kids swim in our friends' pool.  Dang... sounds like we are on vacation!

A peek into my day:

Peter and Sir Henry
Thanks as always to The Simple Woman's Daybook for all the fun. Check out other Daybook entries there!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes on mostly Prom...

1. Nearly a year ago I totally abandoned writing this blog. I didn't have much spare time and I was sharing an old, slow desktop with five kids. I started to keep another one, but it just wasn't "speaking to me", if you know what I mean, so, one day I just deleted the whole doggone thing.  I have been looking for the right time to start blogging again and perhaps it has arrived.  

2. OK, WHY has the time arrive, you might be asking yourself (depending on whether or not anyone is actually reading this). The time seems right because we just made the decision to move back to New Jersey.  We have had a crazy-busy couple of years in Arkansas, and now that our lives are about to change again, I want to write. 

3. Last Saturday was our big boys' Senior Prom.  I'm really not at all sentimental about Prom, and since Rob and I chaperoned the big wing-ding until nearly midnight, I am even less warm and fuzzy than I might have been if I could have just gushed  about how handsome they looked, cooed over their dates' dresses, snapped a few photos, and sent them on their way.   Having issued my disclaimer, however, a good time was had by all and I am very pleased that the guys got to attend Prom with these two very fun and very good girls:

John and Meranda
Vince and Annie

4. Speaking of Prom, if you have a high school student and you are not homeschooling, living in the tundra or Amish, you have certainly heard about the issue of  grinding at school dances and how many schools, both public and private, are attempting to address it.   My genius husband implemented an excellent solution at last Friday's assembly: "Gentlemen, when the grinding starts, so does the country music."  Message received.  

5. Last Friday our little St. Joseph's took home two 1st place medals and a two-man team 2nd place from the regional NASA Destination Space Science Fair! From  field of 1700 kids, our little crew of 12 showed them how its done! 

Bernie didn't win anything, but she was pleased with the performance of the marble roller coaster that she and her Dad enjoyed many hours of father-daughter time building:

6. The weather has been mighty strange for Arkansas in May.  It was about 45 degrees and rainy all day;  three days ago it was 92.  When Fr.Wolfgang Schlumpf first arrived here in the River Valley to found the priory that became Subiaco Abbey, he wrote home to St. Meinrad's in Indiana complaining  that they had "no climate here, only weather".  Now I can see just what he meant!

7. One last thought about Proms... It is 2AM and we just returned from toting our son up to NWA so that he could escort a friend to her Senior Prom.  One more tux rental, one more corsage, 60 bucks for dinner out, 50 bucks in gas and an entire evening driving back and forth.  Yes, all my warm fuzziness is completely gone now. 

For more Quick Takes from even better bloggers than me, visit Jen at ConversionDiary.Com

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Last Day of April Daybook


Outside my window... a pair of bluebirds at the feeder. 

I am thinking... about 
what to do this week in art classes.  I have to come up with something the kids can take home for Mother's Day.  Aaarrgh! Craft stress!

I am thankful... for Pinterest. What did teachers do before Pinterest?  We must have been terribly dull! 

In the kitchen... Pappardelle di San Giuseppe.  I missed celebrating St. Joseph's feast day in March because we were in Orlando on Spring Break. I'm planning  on doing a traditional breadcrumb based recipe for Wednesday like you can find here at Catholic Cuisine or here at The Food Network

I am wearing... a red peasant top and army green shorts. We have Arkansas Instant Summer today.

I am creating... sacrifice beads with the 3rd and 4th graders.  

I am going... to see Rock of Ages in Fort Smith tomorrow night with my friends Kimberlee and Kerri! Woo hoo!

I am hoping... to get my nails done this week.  Yeah, I know, really deep, but hey, its the little things in life.

I am looking forward to... Adoration this week. I really, really am. 

I am learning... to pray for my enemies.  I am a reluctant student. 

Around the house... kind of a mess, actually.

A favorite quote for today... 
The Irish do not want anyone to wish them well; they want everyone to wish their enemies ill.  --Harold Nicolson 

One of my favorite things... this pencil sharpener:

This has become St. Joseph School favorite pencil sharpener. If you are a teacher, artist, homeschool mom or mother of a number of pencil-using kids, put your noisy, electric monstrosity in the trash and get yourself one of these beauties: silent, sharp, portable, fast, durable.  I'm really not shilling for Carl Office Products , but if they want to lay some swag on me for the free advertising, that would be just fine!

A few plans for the rest of the week:     softball scrimmage, first baseball games of the season, Arkansas Naturals game on Sunday.  Sounds like spring!

A peek into my day... probably won't get much of this  back in New Jersey!

Thanks, as always to The Simple Woman's Daybook.  I am happy to be back!