Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall...

I'll preface this post by saying that I do truly adore my next door neighbors. Their kids- Christina and Goren- have become Josh and Sarah Kay's best friends...and the four of them play together extremely well. So at the risk of appearing "un-neighborly", I just finished a little landscaping project this week by planting eight 4' arborvitaes alongside the fence that separates our two yards. To be blunt, my neighbor's yard has become rather "busy" with their smoke house, dog kennel, grape vineyard, enormous woodpile, and 10' trampoline, which my kids so enjoy playing on I might add. It really doesn't bother me too much now, but I guess I'm just lookin' ahead to the the time when I turn into a crotchedy, old man who would relish a secluded, private backyard....I'm guessin' that it'll probably take these trees about 10-15 years to reach full height to award me this little wish of mine...we'll see.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holy Cross Pilgrimage: Hoban High School's Montreal Trip 2009

After driving just about the half the distance and staying over night in Toronto, the Hoban kids, Mandi (Hoban math teacher), and I arrived in Montreal last Monday around 5:00 p.m. After a quick dinner in the College Jean de Brebeauf's cafeteria, we made what would be our first of many trips over to St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount-Royal for evening prayer. Our hosts- Brother Jonathan Beebe, CSC and Brother Mark Knightly, CSC- spent a considerable amount of time explaining to our kids the difference between being a tourist and being a pilgrim. Unlike touring a big city (like Montreal) and window shopping and sight-seeing various attractions and historical buildings and monuments, a pilgrimage is truly a spiritual journey...a journey that leads us to several churches to seek and encounter God. It's a time of change and transformation in an effort to live out the Gospel more deeply in our lives. Truthfully, I think all of us- including Mandi and I- embraced this message whole-heartedly the first time that we arrived to the summit of St. Joseph's Oratory and peered out over the entire city of Montreal...words cannot describe the scene from the Oratory's terrace...

The second day included a detailed tour of the Oratory as well as an education on the man who is credited with the construction of this magnificent building, Brother Andre Bessette. Earning the reputation of a miracle worker, I read in some of the literature that this man vehemently protested such a title and proclaimed that "people are silly to think that I can accomplish miracles! It is God who can heal you, not I. However, we were told on the tour that he is currently at the stage of beatification and is currently awaiting the next step- sainthood- which can only be bestowed on a man by the Papacy.

While at the Oratory, we all were able to see not only the tomb of Brother Andre, but also the oratory museum, which contained a collections of nativities made from various countries all over the world...spectacular! Later in the evening, we all headed back to this same spot to witness a dramatization of the stations of the cross...presented in the Oratory's outside gardens. Again, just an incredibly beautiful- albeit contemporary- reenactment of Christ's final days here on earth.

Wednesday was set aside for the whole gang to make the trek downtown- using the subway system of course- and tour Montreal's other basilicas: Mary Queen of the World (modeled after St. Peter's in Rome), St. Patrick's, and Notre Dame de Montreal. Even though it made for an extremely long day to tour all three of these, it was very cool to see them all in compare the styles and ornamentation found in each one...and believe me, each one was extremely different. Hands down, my favorite was the Notre Dame Basilica. Check these three out on-line sometime to see the magnificence found in their structure and interior artwork...simply least for this mediocre blog writer.

Following some impromptu witness talks by all the adult chaperons on the trip, the afternoon allowed us to re-visit the downtown area of Montreal and do some of the touristy things in the city. Twenty years from now if I come back and re-read this posting...I would be remiss to not document our journey to St. Catherine's St. Let's just say that this is a rather lively and eclectic part of the downtown area that thrives on adult entertainment. Needless to say, we made a rather quick U-turn from this location after we realized that we had kind of made a wrong turn on the tour.

It had been a number of years since I had chaperoned a lengthy trip with students. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but our kids were phenomenal. They played and laughed hard, but they equally prayed hard- with earnest- during all of our prayer services and masses that we attended together as a group. I think the one moment that I'll remember most is watching our kids "pray the steps" at the Oratory. Beginning at the bottom and working their way up the hillside- on their knees on stone pavement- their prayer journey took them over an truly was a moving experience to see a bunch of teenagers- huddled together in prayer- make the ascent to the top of the Oratory. So cool.

On a much lighter note, we shared so many laughs together as we played Euchre each night through the wee hours of the morning...not to mention the car rides there and back from Montreal. The kids transformed my music tendencies a bit by getting me hooked on their Hip-Hop music...some catchy tunes were sung loud and strong while rollin' down the Canadian highways. Again, thanks to Mandi, Josh, Chris, Emily, Katie, Anna, Sammi, Paul, and Nettie for a wonderful trip...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Allegany '09

Cindy, the kids, and I just got back from a week "camping" in the mountains. I'll admit that our accommodations probably would not classify as true camping...2 bedroom cabin w/ full kitchen, living room, bathroom and shower. I did, though, have to start a campfire each night! Anyway, here's a quick overview of how we spent the week...

Day #1...

Cindy wasn't able to meet up with us till Wed., so the kids and I spent the first couple of days in the "wildnerness" by ourselves...and I managed not to lose either one of them! The park has a beatuiful lake- Red House Lake- which we were able to swim, play at the beach, and rent a paddle boat for the Josh found out, it's a bit harder to row the boat with three passengers!

Day 2...
The three of us took a three mile trek (the Black Snake Mountain trail) up the mountain this morning...a very, very long three miles I might add...and then after a trip to the camp store to get a much needed bow and arrow (mom still hadn't arrived so Josh and I figured it would be an opportune time for this particular purchase) and a quick dinner cooked on the campfire...we made yet another trek to the local ice cream stand.

Day 3...
With mom having arrived the night before, we made a day trip to Niagara Falls on Thursday. I can't begin to describe the look on Sarah Kay and Josh's faces as we boarded the Maid of the Mist and headed toward the Horseshoe much fun. Afterwards, we headed over to Goat Island to take in the sights of both the American and Canadian Falls. Absolutely breath-taking...did I mention that we did an awful lot of walking that day?
Day 3- later that evening...

And what would be a camping trip without an authentic Hootenanny? Josh and Sarah weren't shy at all at running up on the stage to lead the crowd in some singin' and dancin'. Each evening ended with a relaxing campfire...with Josh's newest friend and Sarah Kay's newest "boyfriend"...boy, am I in trouble...

Day 4...

Well, the game plan was to rent a canoe or a kayak this morning, but when Josh and I got to the marina, we were told that they no longer provided this, we had to settle for little fishing boat instead. Josh absolutely loved driving this little craft around the Allegany Reservoir...later that day, we headed off towards Thunder Rocks where the kids were able to climb around and give their mother a near heart attack as they scampered around the rocks and cliffs.


Friday, July 10, 2009

" Mean Joe" Eubank

Not that I'm ready to rush my son's grade school life by him, but I would love to see the lil' guy don the Hoban gridiron colors at Dowed Field someday...having just finished up his very first football camp, Josh appears to be pretty excited about the notion of playing organized football, possibly as soon as next year for the CYO team through St. Matthews. Of course, if his interest turns to another sport...say the exciting, fast paced game of soccer...well, then, I guess I could live with that. But I REALLY wouldn't mind at all if the lil' guy chooses to play offensive tackle or defensive end someday...much to the chagrin of his mom, I would imagine.

The Hoban coaches introduced the kids to many of the practice drills that the high school players endure during training camp. I think one of the coolest things for Josh was simply being able to play on Hoban's field w/ its artificial turf and "larger than life" size goal posts. Sarah Kay and I watched a good portion of the camps from the bleachers, and Josh seemed to be able to hold his own against the other kids...if fact, I'm thinkin' that I may need to get him an agent within the next couple of years or so....just to be safe.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sarah Kay and her pup

We've had Maggie now for about six years...we bought her at the Humane Society back in 2003, and at that time they told us that she was probably around 7-8 years old. I know that I've told a number of people this over the years, but this dog really is about the best pet that anyone could ask for. From day one, she has been wonderful around kids, and she has become quite attached just recently to Sarah Kay...most likely because she tends to play with her more than Josh and Marie do.

I've recently started thinking about how much longer our family pet will be with addition to her much smaller appetite and poor hearing, just yesterday, as we were taking our evening walk, I really noticed how bad Maggie's arthritis is beginning to bother her. She still LOVES to go on walks, but it's become a real labor of love for her to make the familiar trek around the neighborhood that we so often have made over the years.