Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cute Fingernail...

I know, I know....I said I was finished blogging for 2012 but I have to post this. Haley found the idea for this on Pinterest then painted it herself. It is too cute.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The End of 2012!!

Our Christmas this year was a little different than all the other Christmas' we've had since the kids were born. Our tradition of attending the Christmas Eve candlelight service remained the same. It has been one of my favorite things to do at Christmas since I was young. I love the way the church looks bathed in candlelight while everyone is singing. When I was young and in the choir at church, I used to love when all three choirs sang "Do You Hear What I Hear" together. I loved the way it sounded when everyone sang the last verse together. We go to a different church now and instead of choirs singing, the whole church congregation sings "Joy to the World." The service always puts me in the mood for the holiday. Haley played "O Holy Night" for the service this year. She sounded wonderful...such a lovely song.

Christmas Day was very low-key and relaxing. We got up when we woke up...I love that the kids are a little older and don't wake at dawn, though the dog did wake me at 6:30am. We got dressed, ate breakfast, then opened our presents. Then we spent the day enjoying each other. Some of the favorite gifts under the tree this year....

Newt's biggest gift was not under the tree but outside. He got repairs made to our old Honda which he has inherited. The car has sat for a few years except for the boys driving it around our driveways now and then so it needed a good going over. Plus we paid his car insurance.

Dylan was all clothing this year. Except I did find him a How to Build an Acoustic Guitar book and I think he spent most of the day looking at guitar-making kits on the internet.

Haley got a sewing machine for Christmas. Haley is "little miss crafty" so she cried when she opened it. She spent most of the day with it in the basement on the craft table, going through the kid's sewing book she got, and by the end of the day had sewn herself a little purse.

I brined a turkey and made Martha Stewart's sausage and cornbread stuffing recipe (delicious!!). We watched a movie together and went to bed early.

The day after Christmas is St. Steven's Day for the Irish in our lives. Every December 26th we attend a Wren Party in celebration. The story is that St. Stephen was hiding in a bush from the invaders and a little wren sang giving away his position so he was martyred. So, in Ireland, the local boys would kill a wren, make hats of straw, and go around singing at doorways asking for a bit of money to bury the dead wren. It was their version of trick or treat.

Our wren party does not involve injuring a small bird but people do make silly hats. There is music, story telling, dancing, treats for the kids, and a hat parade. It is a lot of fun!

Thursday, we got a call from John Whelan saying he'd be in NJ leading a session and could Haley come out and play. I don't think John realizes how long NJ actually is or that we live in the very bottom of it because the session was almost two hours away. We went anyway. It was at a cute little pub full of people. We met a few new musicians and saw a few we've met before.

Haley had a blast playing with John and she got his new CD for a Christmas present. She is now busy learning all the tunes on the CD...original compositions. Haley is joining John for a huge accordion festival in Quebec at the end of this coming August.

OK...I am signing out for 2012. We have an exciting 2013 to look forward to...some of it planned already and most of it we're taking as it comes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pre-Christmas Concert...

This blog is becoming a "Who's Who" in traditional Irish music.

Haley meets all the coolest, nicest, best Irish musicians! She met another last night while attending a concert at the Irish Center. Accordion player James Keane was in town to play with his nephew, Haley's good friend Paraic, and guitarist (multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire) Gabriel.

                            Haley and Daddy being silly and waiting for the concert to begin.

                                                          Paraic, James, and Gabriel

                Marian joined them with a beautiful Gaelic Christmas song. She has the prettiest voice.

The guys invited Haley up for a few tunes. She played a set which she started with Dr. Gilbert's then Paraic went into another tune that Haley didn't know so she played quietly the first time through and learned it on the fly so she was going full swing by the second play-through with the guys. They then asked her to play a tune on her own so she played on of her favorite tunes, Mason's Apron.

It was a really nice concert with great tunes. Nothing is better than live music. I enjoyed the slow air James played on his accordion. It was beautiful. It was a wonderful way to begin our Christmas holidays. Now we get a week with no schoolwork but lots of violin/fiddle practice.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bald Eagle...

This bald eagle is our neighbor. We see him in the fields around our neighborhood or along the side of the road eating roadkill for lunch. He usually flies away before we get a chance to take a pic.

A couple Sundays ago, I was driving home from church and he was really close to the road plus my camera was on the seat beside me so I was able to snap a pic before he flew a few yards further away.

I am really hoping he is a carrion eater and does not decide my chickens will make a nice meal.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Haley and Dylan on Comhaltas...

Haley, Dylan, and their friends, Jayne and Bram were recorded by Comhaltas while busking during the Fleadh in Cavan, Ireland. This video was posted on the Comhaltas website yesterday.... 

Thursday, December 06, 2012


On Tuesday, Newt took his driver's test. He passed the first time through, even parallel parking with ease. He is now an officially licensed NJ driver....everyone else beware! No, seriously. He is a good driver. I just can't believe he is old enough to be driving! Where did all that time go?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

No time to be sick!!! Ugh!

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Newt came down with a fever and sore throat. He stayed home from school Monday then was fine with just a slight residual cough. He shared it with Ritch who had the sore throat and cough, no fever, Tuesday and Wednesday. No one else was sick Thursday so we drove to North Carolina.

That Friday evening, Haley complained of a sore throat and was burning up with a fever around 7pm (she always runs high fevers) so she and I spent the evening in the bedroom, away from all the others at the fish fry. She felt fine by Saturday morning with just a slight cough lasting a few days. Not her usual m.o. with a cold but we'll take it...maybe she's outgrowing her nebulizer needs.

Dylan and I both had the sore throat when we woke Sunday morning which was fine. Dylan slept all the way home and I rested and read while Ritch drove. Dylan stayed home from school Monday with a headache, slight fever, and sore throat.

I, on the other hand, have been sick ever since. I really don't have time to be sick. I felt better on Tuesday but lost my voice... I still don't quite have my real voice back. Wednesday and Thursday, I didn't feel bad...just couldn't talk. Friday, I woke up feeling okay but by evening, was feeling really yucky. I haven't slept a full night since. I cough non-stop from about 7pm until I fall asleep sometime after 11pm, even on medication, then wake again at 3am and go downstairs to keep from waking all those who are able to sleep.

Went to the doctor's on antibiotics and should be better in a few days. Hopefully!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A North Carolina Thanksgiving and Newt's 17th Birthday!

On Monday, as we were all sitting around doing nothing together, I brought up being sad about the holidays this year and we started talking about the wonderful Thanksgiving/Family Reunion Ritch's family has in North Carolina every year.

We figured out that wrestling wasn't due to start until this coming Monday and orchestra/violin lessons had been cancelled on Friday, leaving us a free weekend. So, we decided to drive down to Rocky Point, NC for Thanksgiving. We woke early, drove the eight hours down on Thanksgiving Day, and arrived at Grandmom's house not long after the family had finished dinner...there were plenty of leftovers.

Ritch's father has 12 brothers and sisters and 10 of the 12 were there this weekend...most live in that area with their children and grandchildren and the others had come just for the weekend. We hadn't been to visit in five years which was way too long but we got busy and just never seemed to have enough free days in a row to make it. It was wonderful to see everyone again and meet some we'd never met before!

Friday morning we took a drive to Wrightsville Beach. The weather was just perfect and we walked on the beach, gathered seashells, and watched the surfers and fishermen. We had hotdogs at the Trolley Stop then drove back to Grandmom's house. The boys spent the day playing airsoft with their cousins and just hanging out. In the fields, they searched for sharks' teeth. Millions of years ago, that area was covered with ocean and we've always found sharks' teeth along the road or in the freshly plowed fields. The boys each found a little handful of teeth for Haley.

By late afternoon, relatives started arriving and the men began setting up their cookers for a fish fry. They cooked piles and piles of steamed oysters and shrimp, fried fish fillets, and grilled king mackerel steaks. There were also hush puppies and covered dishes and desserts brought by the ladies. I have never seen a family cook out with so much food! There must have been about 50 people there and they all ate their fill with plenty left over.

Haley and Dylan provided some entertainment for their relatives. They wouldn't let us chip in to help buy the food but we could do that much.

Aunt Betty also brought a birthday cake for Newt! It was his 17th birthday. What a great way to spend his birthday! It is hard to believe my baby boy will have his driver's license next week.

Sunday morning Ritch woke early to help Uncle Shep start the pig for a pig pickin'. He tried to wake the boys but after three tries, gave up. Once the rest of us woke, we headed into Wilmington to watch the Krispy Kreme donuts be made and have some fresh off the conveyor donuts for breakfast. We brought some back for Uncle Shep and cousin Hugh which Haley enjoyed delivering with her new hat.

Here's the pig getting a final coating of Grandmom's famous barbeque sauce...which I nicknames "liquid gold" because it is so delicious! The boys spent the afternoon hanging out with cousins, playing football in the yard and shooting airsoft guns. Clay brought a model cannon and shot it into the field for the kids to watch.

There were over 80 people at the pig picking. As we all stood around the tables of food and said the blessing, I thought the amazing part was we were related to all but a handful...a few neighbors and friends who were also invited. Grandmom passed away about five years ago but her home is still the gathering place for all those people. They all get along and everyone mingles talking to everyone else. The kids and the adults all talk and play and get along...truly enjoying each others' company.

                             Newt was worn out after a weekend of eating and playing hard.

After most of the relatives left, the kids still hanging out decided to play Ninja and Charades.

Ritch and I were worried about the drive home today but we made it home in ten hours even after stopping at the grocery store so my husband could pick up some Southern delicacies he cannot get this side of the Mason Dixon line and stopping for a sit down lunch at Cracker really only a little less than 9 hours to get home. I am so glad we went!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Report...

This weekend we had a lot of Irish music fun! Saturday, Haley and I headed into Philly for a fiddle workshop with Winnie Horan, the fiddler for the group Solas, and a concert by three Solas band members. Haley enjoyed the workshop. She learned two new tunes and Winnie played 5-6 other tunes for Haley to record and learn later. Winnie did a great job making the experience personal for all the participants.

Between workshop and concert, we went into Chestnut Hill for a slice of pizza with Haley's friend, Alex and his parents.  The concert was very enjoyable. I like the combination of fiddle, accordion, and guitar and Mick McAuley, the accordion player, has a great voice.

Sunday, Haley, Daddy, and I drove down to the lovely Cow Palace at the Maryland State Fair Grounds for the Maryland Irish Festival. The festival has a small competition and we go down to support those trying to make it into something bigger and Haley's teacher, Brian, who judges the event. It is a fun day with a workshop by Brian and another about competition preparation. Haley gets to spend time hanging out with her friends who also make the trip.

Haley and Alex deeply engrossed in something on his iPhone.

Haley and her fiddle teacher, Brian Conway.

Last week Haley asked Brian what she should play for the competition and he suggested Spellan's Inspiration, a tune that isn't originally Irish so she wouldn't get to play at the Fleadh but one of her favorites, and her new tune last week, an Ed Reavy tune, Fisherman's Island, which she heard and loved immediately. She spent last week practicing a lot because she had to add variations to both tunes for the competition. She did a great job learning and playing both and took 1st at the competition. Here's a couple videos of Haley playing the tunes.... thanks to Alanna's dad, Dennis, who recorded and posted them to youtube for us! Sorry, I guess you'll have to click the links because I can't get them on as videos, maybe because they are unlisted?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Birthday Boy!

Dylan turned 15 years old on Wednesday. Time sure flies!

Dylan has been lifting and exercising plus has grown a number of inches this past year so has gone from that awkward phase to handsome young man. He started high school back in September and is playing football for the JV team and plans to go out for wrestling this year as well.

This is his 2nd year playing football so he's still learning but he's loving it and working hard.  He is playing on both the offense, as center, and defense. He understands the game much better and is getting faster. He has made some great plays this year. He suits up for varsity but the team has not had any run-away wins so he hasn't gone in to play yet. Below, notice the bright neon green shoes...I love those because I can always find him on the field.

Dylan is doing well in school and studying hard. He and Haley have been playing together a lot this fall. He loves playing guitar and has been composing a few tunes lately. People always comment on what a great brother he is because he lets Haley have the limelight and plays the supporting role for her.   I love when people, usually other guitar players, recognize how talented he is in his own right.
Here's a little clip of them entertaining at the Comhaltas AGM last weekend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Funny Kid!

There was a lot of giggling coming out of the music room where Haley was making crafts. These pictures show the reason why.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Report....

Comhaltas (pronounced more like "colt-us"...yeah, it's Gaelic) is a group that promotes traditional Irish music and culture. There are branches all over the World. The All Ireland competition is run by Comhaltas.

We belong to the Delaware Valley Branch and many of the members have become like family to us. They provided help with our trip to Ireland this year (as they have every year) and as a "thank you," Haley and Dylan performed for their annual meeting.

After their performance, Haley got to do her other favorite Irish activity... dancing! Haley loves to do set and ceili dances. She usually has a full dance card and doesn't even mind that her dance partners are often more than six times her age and they don't seem to mind having to bend themselves in half the whole time they dance with her. No, really, it is fun for everyone! Dylan and I even join in on some of the easier dances.

Dylan helping with the 50/50 drawing.

Haley enjoying some cool refreshment.
This weekend, Haley and Dylan had their first wedding gig. It was a very small wedding at a little local bistro. The kids played while the guests arrived. It was lovely.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Good Old Fashioned Fun!

The Notre Dame Division of the AOH were amazing in the support of Haley going to Ireland this year. In return, Haley and Dylan had agreed to give a performance. The format was an old fashioned "house party."

Haley and Dylan took turns with their friends Emily and Livia providing the music and in between their sets people in the audience told stories and jokes or sang a song.  One grandmother had kept a journal of all the funny things her grandchildren had said over the years. When they turn 18, she goes through her journal and takes out the funny things each child has said to give to them on their birthday. Isn't that a wonderful idea! (I hope to steal it when I am a grandmother!) She shared some of the funnier stories with us.

There was a huge spread of food with everything from sandwiches, veggies, and fruit to amazingly delicious desserts. The people were like family so friendly and welcoming. We got to see some people we've met before at different functions and also made some new friends. I wish there were more opportunities for these types of get-togethers. It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Haley's Mexican Omelets...

We have a lot of eggs lately. Ha!

Haley came up with this recipe for a Mexican Omelet and it is delicious! We were a little skeptical at first but once we tried it, it is a new family favorite.

Haley's Mexican Omelet Recipe

2 large eggs (or 3 small)
salt and pepper
Mexican blend cheese
Chopped jalapeƱos
Picante sauce
Sour cream
Fresh squeezed lime juice

Directions: Whip together eggs, add a little milk if desired,  pour into a hot, lightly greased omelet pan. Cook one side pulling up the sides to get all liquid egg cooked. Salt and pepper as desired. Flip omelet then add chopped jalapeƱo and cheese to taste. Let cook a minute then fold in half. Remove from heat to a plate. Top with picante sauce and sour cream. Then squeeze 1/4 lime's juice over top. Enjoy!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Weekend Fun!

Even on a weekend when we have nothing planned, we still manage to find a lot of musical fun. Saturday, Haley contacted her buddy Paraic to see what kind of fun he knew about and he asked if she was "coming out to play." He let us know the session at Fergies was going to begin at 1pm rather than the usual 4pm. So, we headed over early only to find out it wasn't a normal session but an Oktoberfest street festival and some musicians from the session were performing for the pub. It was difficult to get a good group photo since the lighting was low under the tent but bright on the outside. I did get some good individual pics though...

Notice how everyone is dressed on Saturday. Sunday was a complete weather change....cold and rainy. We spent the morning cleaning house and practicing violin or fiddle/guitar then Haley, Dylan, and I headed over Plough and the Stars for the session there. It was a nice evening with a lot of friends even some we've never met up with there before. The kids played and talked for hours. Unfortunately, the lighting was not great for photos in there either.

....And where was Newt this weekend...ah, wrestling. Newt had a team tournament and a great wrestling weekend winning five out of five matches. His team took 5th out of 16 teams. Way to go, boys!

Today was a football game for Dylan. Boy, was it cold! We dressed in sweatshirts, coats, mittens, hats, and took a wooly blanket to cover up with. Dylan is the one playing center with the bright lime green shoes. I love those shoes because I can always find him that way.