Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reunion Fun in the Sun!

Our trip to the Outer Banks last month to meet up with 30+ relatives was great fun! If a picture paints 1000 words, then here's a little slide show (about 4 minutes long) that should say it all.

Just click on the photo below and then the slide show. Kudos to my amazing wife Susanne who took most of these pictures. Extra bonus--when the music ends there are a few classic family photos too.

We've got a pretty great family if I do say so myself! Enjoy! -Monica

Shaugnessy Strong -  A good assortment of the Mills, Terry and Houlihan descendants

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In the top row in the center is Mary Shaughnessy (my mom called her Nana Shaky--(rhymes with Rocky). She is surrounded by her 5 daughters. Her oldest was Ella (bottom left), second oldest was Madeline (lupper left). Next was Mary Burnadette (lower right). The two youngest were Sarah (Sally) lower middle, and Jane (Jennie) upper right. So clockwise starting with Nana Shaky (center) are Jennie, Mary B., Sally, Ella and Madeline. 

This weekend the descendants of these lovely women on my mom's side of the family will descend upon the Outer Banks for a reunion. It has been a long time since our family has gotten together and actually the last time an event (in the 1990s) was planned the cousin who was going to host it unexpectedly died a few days before everyone's arrival. So instead of a reunion, they got a funeral.

I fully expect that this year's reunion will be better! More pics to come from the festivities. Have a great day! -Monica

Monday, July 07, 2014

It Really Was a Happy 4th of July!

Hello! We just had a awesome weekend with some fun visitors, a parade, lots of pool time and a visit to watch our Washington Nationals win! And the cherry on top of it all was a chance to see the DC fireworks from the rooftop of my office building downtown.

As beautiful as it was though, it was extremely loud and that really threw Danny for a loop. (The pic below captures his feelings on the whole thing very well.)

He was very brave though, and after we stepped inside for a few minutes after the booming began, he acquiesced to being led outside again to enjoy the amazing view. Benjamin had sympathy pains and cried along with him although I suspect he wasn't much bothered by the noise.

It was like a 3 D movie the way that the fireworks exploded so near to us. You felt like you could almost reach out and touch them! If you click on this picture you can see a fun 30 second long slide show of some of the other highlights of our 4th of July! Bye now.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Sweet 7!!!

We are still a bit in shock that our little Danny is now a 7 year old, but it's true. He had a great week of fun, starting with a visit from his grandfather and family, then a Treasure Hunt Adventure party at our house. The hunt ended at at the splash park across the street, and all in all, it was a very fun birthday!

As a picture (or several) speak a thousand words, without further ado here are some fun pics to help us all remember the day! -Monica

Getting the highly coveted Razor Scooter from Nana was the beginning of a fabulous birthday!
PopPop enjoyed lunch outside with the kids --Birthday boy Danny has a "table for one" off to the side.
Mindy joined in some Stomp Rocket Fun while visiting with her dad.
Time for a little brownie treat.
The weekend birthday party began with an agenda. It actually worked out very well.
The kids got ready for the airplane competition. Nice job!
Even some of the "big kids" joined in the fun!
Then it was time to start following Danny's treasure map to find clues to the buried treasure!
One clue led to a pirate's costume which added to the intrigue.
The treasure was spotted at long last! Gold candies and coins for everyone!
The treasure chest before the pillaging began.
Time to play on the playground and water park!
Our favorite Irish dads assume identical poses to keep an eye on the mayhem.
There was running!
And lots of splashing!
Finally cake time!
And on the morning of his birthday he awoke to gifts and breakfast and fun. That's what we like to see. A happy 7 year old!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New York, New York! (And other fun tidbits)

Greetings from DC. We are all doing well and are thrilled that spring has finally arrived! It was definitely a long and cold winter. Let's see.... What's new? Oh, last weekend we went up to New York to visit friends and had a blast. Seeing Andres, Tony, John, Su's college friends was great, as was catching up with my dear friend Gerri-Ann and her husband Kev and the kids.

I must say, though, hearing from Danny that his favorite part of the trip was getting to watch Andres and Tony's huge TV made us both cringe just a little bit. But it was indeed a really BIG screen compared to ours, so I can understand his excitement!

We did more than watch television however. This pic of the boys is from our trip to Brooklyn. We went there so I could show the boys where my family lived when I was born, and they were totally unimpressed. Not unimpressed by Brooklyn, they just thought it was a little lame to take a stroll down memory lane. Oh well. I enjoyed it!
It was taken in Broolkyn's DUMBO area (which apparently stands for Down Under the Manhattan and Brooklyn Overpasses). Loved the view of the city from there.

Anyway, I figured today would be a good day to pull out some memorable quips from our facebook posts over the past few months. Hope you enjoy. Here you go... 

May 21 
So, Su and I were eating black olives last night and little Benji was suddenly very interested. Turns out he thought we'd said that they had pigs inside of them. He was duly disappointed when he saw the pits.

May 10
Danny just ran back from our favorite neighbor's house and announced that he couldn't get to their door because their cat was in the way. "Did you tell her to move?" "No, I don't speak cat!"

April 7
My auto correct on this thing keeps turning the word "toddler" to "fiddler". They do like to try and play us I guess, so I'll accept this.

April 3
While affixing a patch to Danny's Cub Scout uniform, the boys chatted about ranks. Four year old Benji wondered if after attaining the highest Eagle Scout rank, the boys get a chance to be Girl Scouts. Something to do with access to cookies. Still smiling

March 20
For fun tonight, Danny's Cub Scout leader showed the kids a rotary phone. Hilarity ensued (for the adults at least) as they all gave it a try!

March 8 
Danny just asked if his name was Danny Focus. Hmmm...maybe we say that a bit too much?

February 15

Our 4 year old had his Ninjas all lined up at lunch and was telling us that his blue Ninja had Chicken Pox. Turned out he meant Nunchucks. In his defense, they are both pretty dangerous.

And that's all folks! Until next time! -Monica

Monday, May 05, 2014

Prides, Joys and Other Stuff...

Once again it's been far too long since I've posted. I really want to do a better job at keeping up with this blog.  I see it as a tool to be able to remember things that will otherwise slip into oblivion in the years to come. Now if I could just remember to post! ;-) Anyhoooo...

It's hard to post about things other than our children. They are such an incredibly huge part of our life. And even though it's probably yawn-inducing to those who do pop over to read this blog from time to time, all I can say is that I can't really help it. For me not to write about them would be akin to a pastor not talking about God or a child not talking about yum yum.

This all being said, I will take a few minutes to chat about all the other things going on in our lives before turning to our prides and joys. ;-)

Susanne has been on a grand jury for the past several weeks--every weekday for a whole month. She's learned a lot about some of the crime that goes on in the District of Columbia (disturbing to say the least), and has also met some really incredible new friends among her fellow jurors. I guess you really bond when you have to come in together ever day for so long and get some down time during which you cannot use your electronic devices.  She's been at her job as a social worker for almost 12 years so I think it was kind of nice for her to get a break from that and engage her brain in a different way for a while. That jury will reconvene two more times in this month and I think they will all enjoy seeing each other again.

This weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to travel to a rented place in the mountains of North Carolina to help a dear Peace Corps friend celebrate her 50th birthday. It was just the birthday girl Alvina and our fellow RPCV Carrie as well as one of Alvina's neighbors. It was just a blast to go down memory lane. The bond I formed with Alvina and Carrie more than 25 years ago when we joined the Peace Corps and served in Guatemala as health workers is an incredible one.

I treasured our time together in North Carolina, and also enjoyed the solitude of my long (8 hour +) drives there and back through the scenic rural areas of Virginia and NC.  Susanne had gotten me XM radio for the car as a gift recently, and I just smiled the whole time listening to "The Bridge" which plays classic folk rock from the '70s. The best part was that all the songs were so familiar and yet when I heard them in my youth I could not have imagined that I'd be married to a woman someday. And not just any woman. This one. Just thinking about Susanne as I listened to those songs that are buried somewhere in my reptilian brain I guess, just made me so happy. I guess I'm just feeling a lot of love lately and that's a really nice thing.

Work is going well. I have a new boss and he's really great so I'm in a very good place there. We are building a new back deck and getting beautiful brick pavers out back of our row house and we are THRILLED that we'll be able to enjoy the extra space with no mosquitoes! We've had some conflict with a neighbor who was convinced that our survey was not right, but it was indeed correct. That could be a whole nother blog post but never mind. Life is good.

Our sweet Danny will turn 7 later this month. Seven! As his birthday falls around Memorial Day when our pool opens we've always had his party there, but this year he's requested a treasure hunt! I'm sure there will be tons of pictures soon of the festivities, but we know that the treasure will be found over at our lovely new park across the street. Hopeful that the sprinklers there will be turned on weather permitting.

Today for the first time ever, I had to loosen the adjustable waist bands on Danny's shorts--he's really growing! Here is a pic of him last week (in the cap) at his cub scout meeting. I love that he loves scouts and soccer. He's also made great strides in learning to read this year as a first grader. He's doing really well in English and math. Struggles with the Spanish, but he's improving. He makes us very proud!


And Benjamin? He will turn 5 in six short months. That boggles my mind. He's our smart, strong-willed, funny face making, rock star! Full disclosure: I am completely biased. ;-)

Here is a picture of him yesterday at a Drum Circle that Susanne took the boys to with some of her new juror friends. 

All in all, we're good. Heading up to NY to see friends in a few weeks. The boys will have a week of baseball camp once school finishes. And then there is always the pool and the new back porch! Hasta la vista. I'll try to blog more frequently, but I'm not making any promises. ;-) -Monica

Sunday, March 16, 2014

One of My Favorite New Traditions...Florida!

In what has become an annual event, we traveled earlier this month to a warm location with Susanne's mom. Florida has become our default favorite place, and with the boys loving baseball as much as we do, it's been amazing to be able to catch Nationals' spring training games when we head south. Last year we saw them play the Astros, and this year it was the Braves. What can I say? We loved it!

We've yet to do the whole Disney thing, but have certainly enjoyed the many other fun things to do in the Orlando area. This year we hit Legoland, which was just as fun as it was last year, and even ventured a bit further southwest to a beach near Tampa. The beach was lovely but it was a bit too cold to really go in the water. We had a bit of rain at the beginning of our 4 day trip but made due with a visit to a lovely children's museum not too far from our hotel. It was also great returning again to our favorite 3 bedroom condo (with kitchen) that didn't break the bank,

With Danny now 6 going on 7, and Benji age 4 going on...well...7, (or so it seems), it is so much easier to travel with them. Their toys and clothes all fit in their little suitcases that they are in charge of. Okay, okay, we helped a few times, but it is much easier to travel now than it was in the toddler days.

With Su's mom driving down to Florida from her home in SC, our car seat situation is pretty simple too. She has one car seat permanently in her car and we just bring one booster. Although I must admit that riding in the back seat between my dear sons in her Rav 4 gets old really fast. More than once, the boys completed the trifecta of LOUD, CRANKY and CLINGY.

At the same time. Sigh.

I guess I could volunteer to drive once in a while, but I don't mind Susanne driving most of the time and she prefers it. It's not that she thinks I'm a bad driver (never had an accident or a moving violation,) she just likes to drive. I will admit that I am curious as to what might happen if she were in the back seat with the "trifecta" going on back there. ;-) On second thought, maybe they'd actually behave better? I have a feeling we may never know!

Anywhooo...I made a two minute slide show (flipagram) of our fun at the museum, ballgame, Legoland and beach. Just click on the picture to enjoy! (By the way, the scenery behind the boys in the pic? That's Washington, DC all made of Legos!)

As I look out the window right now in the real Washington, DC I'm seeing lots of snow falling. Definitely missing Florida... ;-)