December 1, 2011 | Leave a Comment

I scooted over to Ireland over the Thanksgiving break. I had intended to go at Christmas, but as it happened almost the entire workforce of Lake Communications, a company that I had worked for about 5 years when living in Ireland, had been made redundant and there was to be a farewell get together on Friday, Nov 25th. So I decided to head over and meet up with some of the lads I used to work with about 20 years ago.

The plane was completely full – obviously, a lot of other folks had decided, like me, that Thanksgiving Day was a good day to travel. The flight was uneventful, although the landing was probably the worst I’ve had as their seemed to be a severe crosswind. I was met at the airport by Ann, who took me to Moloughney’s restaurant in Clontarf. It was great to be back in Dublin and have a real Irish breakfast and enjoy the ambience. Niall and Maria joined us, and we hung out for several hours. After lunch I headed in to the city, and had a quick snooze for an hour or two in the Stephen’s Green Club, where I was staying for the weekend. Located right on St. Stephen’s Green, it’s a fantastic place to stay and was the perfect base for me.

I caught up with Grace for a couple of pints in Neary’s, one of my old watering holes, and we ended up going for dinner as well.Among other things she introduced me to the bicycle rental service in Dublin which is pretty darn handy. Next time I’m coming over I’ll have to make sure I join up…

After that it was off to Dicey Reilly’s to meet the Lake crew. It was a great night, with a lot of faces that I hadn’t seen in years – Lorcan O’Neill, Sean O’Connor, Lorcan Burke, etc. We had a great chinwag, as Paddy Whelan would say, and recounted numerous yarns about the good old days. It was so much fun, in fact, that we didn’t notice the time passing; it was about 3:30AM when the last of us left the place. Fortunately for me it was only a stroll of a few hundred yards back to the Club for the night.

Saturday morning saw me, amazingly, up in time for (a late) breakfast. I pottered around for  a while and then moseyed across the Ha’penny Bridge to the Winding Stair Bookshop where I caught up with Carmel, Anne-Marie and Vonnie. This is a great place to check out, and the food was great – real winter fare, which hit the spot. After a lazy lunch I sauntered back through town to the club, where I met Donal, Leanne and Anthony and, as usual we solved the problems of the world over dinner.

On Sunday morning the weather was glorious again, and so I strolled up to the Hugh Lane Gallery where I got to see the Francis Bacon exhibition,as well as some others that were, to my mind, completely devoid of artistic merit… The rest of the day was spent in Clontarf, where I met up with Ann and Tom and Caitriona, and then to Niall and Maria’s for dinner.

Monday was a busy day – starting with meeting Miriam for coffee in the science center in Trinity, before heading our to the RDS to meet Tom, Paddy, Richard and John. Although we’d met on Friday night, meeting again for lunch was a good way to catch up in a more relaxed fashion and as usual we shared some humorous anecdotes about the Lake days. Then it was off around the corner to meet Fiona for a quick chat over coffee, which ended up being about 3 hours, before rushing back into town. One of the silver lining of the cloud that is the current recession is that traffic in Dublin is back at about late 1990’s levels, so that it was a very quick taxi ride back in to Neary’s to meet Brendan. We had a quick pint before heading around to The Horseshoe Bar to meet Dave and his daughter Nadia. A few aperitifs there and then Dave and I headed back to the club for dinner, where Peter and Cathal tracked us down for a few pints afterwards.

Come Tuesday morning it was out to the airport and back to NY. All in all, a great, packed, weekend.




November 12, 2011 | Leave a Comment

October was an exciting month for the kids, with one of the highlights being a very unusual snow storm, right before Halloween.  We saw about 10 inches of snow in our backyard, just days before we were supposed to take the kids trick or treating.The storm didn’t do too much damage, which was a relief because the most of the trees still had their summer leaves and so were heavily laden by the snow. As it was, we lost a few branches, one big one just missing my truck. We lost power for several hours, although that wasn’t a big deal for us because, fortunately, we have a generator. Some of the surrounding areas, though, were out of power for several days.

All three of the kids had a great time sledding at Grandma’s house, and even Jenn and I joined in the fun with Sue’s sledding tubes.  While the Sunday trick-or-treating at Marist was cancelled, fortunately most of the snow had melted before the big night on Monday.  Jenn, as usual, helped the kids get their costumes together, with Orla being a peacock, Eoghan a lego skeleton and Conall deciding to stay with his traditional train theme, as Thomas the Tank Engine.  We went to Rhinebeck village for some Halloween fun, and were glad to see that this year, for the first time, Conall decided to go in with us to the firehouse haunted house.  We were surprised at how well he took it, and even more surprised when one of Orla’s friends jumped out to surprise us in the midst of it. She was posing as a scary clown; her dad is a firefighter and she was helping out this year.  Jenn was saying that we know we’re getting older when Orla’s friends are now working in the haunted house.  Seems like yesterday that we were asking for the “no scare” version for a littler Orla.  Conall, being the assertive little guy (or big guy) that he is, was shouting at anybody blocking the sidewalk with strollers, yelling “Get out of the way!”  and “Move it!”  He was on a real mission this year to fill his bag with candy.  Jenn discreetly stole the sticky candy out of the bag (such as tootsie rolls) to save those teeth of his from any cavities.

Meanwhile, Orla is still obsessed with her chickens and, everytime I look, there seems to be a new one stashed in her coop.  Now she’s planning to add turkeys to the mix!  Jenn wants to name them “Christmas” and “Thanksgiving”, but we all know they really are just going to be pets and more beaks for me to feed.  At least, I’m getting some return on the frequent trips to Agway for feed bags, since we now have fresh eggs piling up in the refrigerator.  We enjoy them for meals and Orla is going to donate the extra ones to a local food pantry as part of her 4H community service.  Speaking of 4-H Orla and her friend Erin headed to a cookery demonstration recently, where Orla showed off her skills whipping up a batch of ginger and banana flavoured Pavlova. It was, I must say, rather yummy.

Meanwhile, Eoghan has grown up quite a bit and enjoys – when not on his video games – hanging out with Dad.  As a special treat the two of us go to the local diner after trips to the barber shop.  He is a huge steak eater, and ready to eat it not just for dinner but for breakfast and lunch as well.  Having tried it at all the restaurants in the area, he can tell you that the new restaurant Matchbox has one of the best steaks in town.



Fall Fun

October 24, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Hallowe’en is almost upon us. We’ve been keeping busy, and losing track of time. Jenn and the kids have been busy with home-school activities over the past couple of months. Orla does horse-riding, but alas Eoghan can’t as we’ve discovered that he appears to be allergic to horses! Incidentally, Conall seems to be allergic to chocolate – at least in ice-cream and in milk, poor guy! Meanwhile, all three kids go to art class, where even Conall is content to sit (for most of the period, anyway) painting his turtle and other papier-mâché creations. We make extensive use of the local library, where Orla enjoys book club and Eoghan his lego club.

We’ve been doing some touring recently. Orla was up in Hudson, NY, in August, as a member of the local library’s Battle of the Books team. We’ve also been checking out some of the local farms as part of the build-up to Hallowe’en. We’re lucky that only a few minutes down the road we can find Sinon Family Farm, with its Childrens’ Zoo, and Hahn Farm, which holds a Fall Festival every year. We all had a great time checking out the pumpkins and looking at the different animals, as well as trying out the corn maze and the hay maze – although Jenn discovered she was claustrophobic when she tried to go into the latter. The corn maze at Hahn was fun, because the paths traced out letters and there was a competition to see if you could figure out what word the letters referred to. We entered a drawing to see if we got it right – watch this space!

There are lots of resources that the kids can avail of in our vicinity. They regularly go to classes in the environmental center in the local park, and last week they had a ball taking part in a chemistry demonstration given in Marist College as past of National Chemistry Week. There, they got to make all sorts of goo and glop, and learn about the different properties of materials such as corn starch than can appear to be liquid and solid at the same time.

I was away a few times over the past couple of months. I made it up to Bethel, Maine and to Sunday River, Vermont, for several days of golf, and traveled up to St. Mary’s in Canada to celebrate their Thanksgiving (the weekend of October 10th). Dinner with the McCotters was a great success, and a late night was had by all!

Conall is really coming into his own these days. He will sit and talk to you about trains, and get you to watch train videos with him, and was delighted this weekend when Grandma and Jenn took him to a train show in Kingston. He made sure he had his Engineer’s cap on before he went. He knows exactly what he wants, and is not afraid to let you know. Recently there were some homeschool friends over visiting Orla and Eoghan. One of them had a little brother about Conall’s age who had the temerity to go upstairs and into his room. “Out of my room, you freak”, ordered Conall.



Summer Fun

July 4, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Summer is finally here in full swing.  The kids are spending their days at the local swim and tennis club.  The two older ones are like little fishes, while Conall, on the other hand, still isn’t so sure about getting into the water.  He enjoys playing with the boys on the playground though, including his cousin Ace.  Jenn finally gets a chance to sit down and relax while all the kids are busy having fun.

Rest and relaxation are a pleasant relief from the chaotic June we had.  Conall had to go in for oral surgery in a hospital setting.  He was very calm the night before, and upon our arrival at the hospital, but when we moved in to the ward he started to get very scared. We were somewhat nervous with the planned general anesthesia, but everything  went very well, thank God.  He had caps put on some of his molars, which he loves, since he thinks they look like shiny silver steam engines in his mouth.  He is still OBSESSED with trains.

Eoghan has taken an interest in marine biology (especially sharks!) so he was delighted to go to the New England Aquarium with Dad.  A boys-only trip, which included a behind the scenes tour  and a day with the seals!  We are planning to go back to the newly opened shark and stingray touch tank soon.  Speaking of stingrays, that is the name of Orla’s swim team that she joined this summer.  We are hoping she takes after her cousins Siobhan and Asling who have set records in Asia with their swimming!

The chickens the kids got over the spring haven’t started laying yet.  But Jenn and the kids assure me that by August 8th when they are 20 weeks old, I should start getting some farm fresh eggs from our backyard coop.  In the meantime, the chickens have provided lots of entertainment for the kids.  Trying to herd them into the coop at night is funny to watch, as the kids chase them around the yard – those little critters are small but fast!

The kids are taking a break from official “school” work over the summer, but they are book lovers like their Dad and can often be found sneaking reading material into bed well after 11pm.  We are also continuing “family reading night” and right now enjoying the book full of riddles (another favorite of the kids) called the Gollywhopper Games.  Movie night is another popular activity with the kids, although my classics are not always their top choice.  At the moment the older ones are into action flicks, like the Terminator, while Orla also likes “Wild Child” and “Pyaar Impossible”.



Easter is usually associated with bunny rabbits. Not so in our household, where in addition to Easter eggs we also received a batch of Easter chickens. Jenn and the kids have been going crazy researching different chicken breeds, and have ordered examples of several varieties, as well as the required appurtenances such as heaters and feeders. (At least we were able to salvage the coop from an earlier “experiment”!)

In addition to the chicks, we also have several eggs in an incubator. To me, these ones are brown, but that’s just because I’m not a chicken aficianado. To a real chicken lover these are known as “chocolate eggs”. Personally, I don’t care too much about all these new additions. I figure I’ll either get farm-fresh eggs every morning for breakfast, or else I’ll be dining on roast chicken for several weeks.

Speaking of dining, we had a relatively low-key Easter celebration this year. As usual we ate at Sue’s house, but rather than risking her cooking, or – even worse – that of Justin’s in-laws, we brought our own food with us. There was the usual full gang, including Carol’s family, and so there were plenty of kielbasa and pierogies to try. I successfully managed to avoid temptation (and indigestion).

Eoghan and Orla were thrilled to be able to show off their new chicks, while Conall joined in the fun as well. Incidentally, he is continuing to surprise and keep us laughing with his comments. He’s very polite, responding to Sue when she thanked him for carrying something for her “It was my pleasure, Grandma“. He also takes good care of me, and so when he saw me about to take some vitamins that I had previously stored on top of the refrigerator (where we keep some other items such as detergent out of harms way) he exhorted me “Daddy, No! Don’t drink chemicals. Chemicals are yucky, they make you sick“. When I’m heading off to work, he bids me adieu, saying “See you next time. Be careful the big bad wolf doesn’t get you“. When looking at a picture of himself, he tells us “That was me when I was a young boy“. And just yesterday, when he and Jenn were about half way to town, he asked her “Mom, are we going to Rhine-a-beck? At our house we turn left to go to Hyde Park and we turn right to go to Rhine-a-beck“. At four, he has a better sense of direction than his mother.




Conall hits 4!

April 13, 2011 | Leave a Comment

Conall just saw the passing of his 4th birthday!  Now, it seems, even the “baby” of the family is growing up.  He headed off to see his first movie, “Hop“, with Jenn and the older kids on Saturday.  He is a huge fan of “Despicable Me“, made by the same team, so we hoped that maybe it would hold his attention in the theater. As it happens, he got bored after about half an hour, so Jenn took him out. I guess that’s a sign that the movie wasn’t so good; after all, he will (on occasion) sit through an entire movie when we watch one on our big screen at home.
He is really developing his sense of self nowadays.  He has decided that he is the clown of the family, and loves to share his original jokes with us.  Usually, they include a “Knock, Knock” intro, leading up to a banana finale.  He loves an audience ,so if the joke doesn’t get us, then he’ll share some funny dance moves that Orla taught him.  He also is getting old enough to share some of his dreams with us when he wakes up.  We laughed when he told us one morning that he had dreamt that he was a squirrel, ate too much candy and got a stomach ache.  He has quite an imagination on him!  He also has a temper, and is not afraid to yell at you if you annoy him. Unfortunately he has picked up some less appropriate words from his big sister, and will let fly with them when he gets mad…
In general he’s not shy about sharing his opinions or concerns. If we’re driving with the GPS on, he’ll repeat it’s instructions. “Dad, don’t forget to turn left“, he’ll remind us. If he sees Grandma doing something that he thinks is dangerous he’ll admonish her. “What are you doing with those pruning shears?“, he quizzed her the other day. And even though he’s not being formally homeschooled yet, he’s still picking things up. If you ask him to explain a picture of the water cycle, for example, he’ll let you know that the rain falls, and the water flows into the ocean, and that the sun turns it into clouds, etc.
It’s also hard to get him to bed at night, now, especially if we knows we’re planning on watching a movie on our big screen. Last night, for example, he came in to the red room to tell us that he wanted to “watch the boring movie with Dad“. He likes to crawl up into my armchair and sit beside me, and has me hold his bottle of milk. If he forgot something, he’ll say “I’ll leave my milk here on the table for a minute. Don’t drink it. I’m going to get my goldfish. Don’t start the movie without me“…
Thankfully, though, he doesn’t share the same interest in animals that his older siblings do.  Just when I thought the pet craze had finally come to a sane halt, Jen and the kids surprised me with 4 chickens!  If that wasn’t enough, they felt 4 weren’t sufficient and so now we have 6 baby chicks living in our bathroom.  The two older kids were in heaven the day they arrived and continue to play with them.  I’m just hoping I get some eggs out of the deal.



New York’s Bravest

February 13, 2011 | 4 Comments

Memorial Plaque for Fireman Bernard O'Kane and Lt. Seeman

Memorial Plaque for Fireman Bernard O'Kane and Lt. Seeman

The month of January has been cold here, and filled with snow. We’ve been busy, as usual, and had a couple of special events to celebrate. The first one was the unveiling of a memorial plaque for a NYC firefighter who died in the line of duty. Fireman 1st Grade Bernard O’Kane was on duty in Engine 227 in Brooklyn early on the morning of Christmas Day, 1927, when the company responded to the alarm of a fire. Barely two hours later, the company returned to the fire house and the watch officer noted in the official log that Fireman O’Kane died in the line of duty, having fallen down an air shaft. The story in the New York Times describes the tragedy:

Fireman Bernard O’Kane of MacDonough Street, Brooklyn, was killed early yesterday morning while fighting a fire on the roof of a four-story tenement at 1,015 Putnam Avenue, Brooklyn, opposite the Bushwick Hospital. He lost his footing and fell sixty feet to instant death in the courtyard.

O’Kane left his home Saturday night after fixing up the tree for Billy, 4 years old, and Bernard Jr., 2, his sons, and kissing his wife, Catherine, good-bye. He was due back at 3 o’clock yesterday morning.

O’Kane finished his tour of duty in the Halsey Theatre, on Broadway, Brooklyn, at 11:30 and reported back to the firehouse of Engine Company 227 at Herkimer Street and Ralph Avenue. A few minutes later the alarm hit in for the tenement house fire.

There had been a fire in the basement of the Bushwick Hospital Monday night and when the alarm sounded the firemen thought there was another blaze in the institution. They made a quick run through the cold streets and discovered that the fire had started in the cellar of the tenement house and had spread through the dumbwaiter shaft to the roof. The hospital was not threatened.

The eight families in the tenement house ran down the stairs, through the smoke, shivering in their night attire. The firemen had to work quietly, not to disturb and alarm the patients in the hospital. The blaze was stubborn and the water froze as soon as it fell on the building.

O’Kane was one of the men ordered to the roof. He worked there for more than an hour. The fire was under control and all the men were about to descend when O’Kane slipped and fell. He was dead when his companions reached him.

One of the firemen broke the news of her husband’s death to Mrs. O’Kane. She had been waiting for her husband to come home to play Santa Claus. When reporters called later, Billy was circling the parlor in his new tricycle, overjoyed in the possession of his shiny toys. Bernie was carrying his new things around the room.

Mrs. O’Kane lay on a couch crying as the Christmas tree was dismantled and taken out of the room over the protests of the uncomprehending Billy and Bernie. The O’Kanes were married five years ago. Another boy, Joseph, died about a year ago when he was four years old. O’Kane was 30 years old and had been in the Fire Department three years. His wife is 23.

Arrangements were made last night for funeral services in the Church of Our Counsel, where O’Kane and his wife were to have gone yesterday to attend the holiday mass.

Nowadays the Fire Department honors officers who die in the line of duty, but in the past this was not the case, and so recently many Engine Companies have been commemorating their fallen colleagues. Engine Company 227 has lost two Firemen in the line of duty over the years, and before 9/11 had been planning a commemorative ceremony. After the tragedy of 9/11, the effort was suspended, and only recently was it revived, and a ceremony planned for Thursday, January 6th, to commemorate the memory of Bernard and a colleague, Lt. John Seeman, who died in 1935, only a week after being promoted to Lieutenant.

The officers in Engine 227 had sought to find relatives of both officers; alas, Bernard’s immediate family had passed away and there was no trace of relatives for Lt. Seeman. Coincidentally, I had been seeking information about Bernard, a brother of my great-grandmother, and when he spotted a posting I made on a genealogy board, Fire Fighter Robert Sypko of Company 227 got in touch to invite me and other family representatives. So it was that I, my cousin Brian O’Hagan (whose grandmother was Bernard’s niece), and our cousin Anne Kutka (whose father was Bernard’s nephew, and who had emigrated with Bernard from Ireland, arriving in New York on April 15th, the day the Titanic sank, made our way to the Fire Station for the unveiling of a memorial to the two officers.

The Fire Department did both men proud, with a wonderful service, complete with pipe band, and unveiled a plaque honoring the two fallen comrades. At a reception afterwards we got a chance to explore the fire station – not the original home of Company 227, but the home of another company to where Company 227 moved several years after the death of Lt. Seeman – and to examine the log books for 1927 and 1935, reading the stark entries describing the tragedies. One interesting point to note was that the log book for 1935 showed that Bernard’s widow Catherine was employed as a Matron in the Fire Station. In the days before pensions, the Fire Department looked after the widows of the fallen by ensuring that they had a source of income, looking after the stations where their husbands used to serve.

It was wonderful to be present at such an event to honor the memory of a fallen hero, and even though we never knew him, we were proud to represent Bernard’s family.



A Cup Of Joe

December 29, 2010 | Leave a Comment

We did something simple this Christmas – we sponsored some coffee for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, to let them know that they are not forgotten. An unexpected surprise this afternoon was to get some responses from some of those troops:

Your message and gift of a CUP OF JOE was delivered to a Soldier serving at Iraq – FOB Shield in . They wanted to say thanks and make sure you knew your gift was received. Please see below for their note to you:

Brian – Thank you very much for the coffee. My father is a dual Irish-American citizen, and we still have some of our family in Dublin and in Cork. If you are ever in the Irish Parliament House, look for the US Civil War regimental battle flag from the “Irish Brigade.” The Irish Brigade was one of the most decorated and respected regiments of the Union. Kennedy presented the flag as a gift to your parliament in 1963. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you and your family from Baghdad. -Tyler-

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Tallil in Iraq:

Brian, Thank you so much for the coffee. I will Enjoy it. Thanks for your support!!

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Slayer in Iraq:

Brian- Thank you for the cup of coffee. It helps getting through the long days. It’s humbling in the full realization that others support us other than just our friends and family-even others from a different country. Thank you for your support. Have a great day.

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Balad PAX Terminal in Iraq:

Thank you very much for your support!Happy Holidays to you and your family. -SPC Amber F, U.S. Army

a Soldier serving at Kuwait – Camp Arifjan in Iraq:

Thank you for your support and for the coffee! I am from Rhode Island and this gift is very much appreciated! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Union III in Iraq:

Thanks so much for the coffee. Surprisingly, it does get cold here in Iraq so a hot cup of coffee is greatly appreciated. It is nice to know that there are people like you thinking about us over here. Thank you. Marianne in Iraq

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Sather AB in Iraq:


a Soldier serving at Afghanistan – Bagram South in Afghanistan:

Freedom isnt Free a very true statement and this cup of coffe means alot. Thank you very much

a Soldier serving at Afghanistan – Bagram South in Afghanistan:

Thank you so much for your support. It really helps to know that people back home have us in their thoughts and prayers. I’ll pass along your message to my unit. Thanks again for the cup of joe! SSG Bailey

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Ramadi in Iraq:

Thanks for thinking of us. Those of us who wear the uniform are often called upon to sacrifice the very freedoms we are striving to protect for others. I know that your donation for the coffee might seem a little thing but it really means a lot to know that folks back home are thinking of us. Thanks again for taking a moment to remember us. MSG Brian K Ramadi, Iraq

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Tallil in Iraq:

thank you. I had a very good Christmas. i was able to see my kids open there gifts over web cam. I’m very happy to hear people support the troops out here. thank you again.

a Soldier serving at Iraq – Slayer in Iraq:

Thank you for your wonderful gift. This is my first deployment to Iraq, but I have previously deployed to other locations throughout the years and it is always the support from home that helps make it all worthwhile. Thank you for your continued generous support to the troops.



‘S No Big Deal

December 27, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Brian with the snow blower

Making a snow maze

Click on the picture for more photos…
If the total lunar eclipse on Dec 21st was a bit of a damp squib, due to the fog covering up the main event, the winter storm forecast for St. Stephen’s Day certainly turned out to be a heck of a blizzard. We ended up getting about 16 inches of snow, but the wind was very strong and ended up blowing the snow into large drifts in places.
Our heating system has the house divided into three zones, and in the middle of the night one of the zones kicked out. Unfortunately that zone was for the bedrooms, but fortunately they’re over the kitchen and so the AGA kept the temperature reasonable. We were lucky that it happened on the Christmas night rather than Christmas Eve and so managed to get a technician without any difficulty first thing in the morning to come fix the system.
We were well stocked up, with lots of turkey and ham left over from Christmas Day, although I did head out to grab some more supplies and to make sure we had gas for the snow blower. The snow started around lunchtime, coming in like the proverbial lamb, being fairly calm for the first few hours. After dinner, Orla and Eoghan and I were oblivious to it all, and had our feet up watching a movie on our big screen, munching on candy, with (for me) a bottle of wine within easy reach. The wind started to pick up, though, and at one stage the doors to our barn blew open. The snow was piling up in there until crazy Jennifer, dressed in a bathrobe, ventured out to close up. The things she does for us!
We woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. As usual, the first order of business was to make a maze in the snow for the kids, and to make sure we had a path to the rabbits and birds. I was in the middle of making the maze when Jenn’s Mom called frantically – she was stuck in a snowdrift! She had decided not to wait for the snow plough guy to clear around her house, and was out the back trying to shovel show away from her conservatory when she slipped. She was lucky that she had a cellphone in her pocket, because she couldn’t get up, and the weather was cold. Fortunately she lives just down the road so I was able to be her Sir Galahad. One might think that the trauma would be enough for her, but no – a short while later she was back out shoveling…



Happy Christmas

December 25, 2010 | Leave a Comment

The kids are delighted. Christmas is here, and Santa was good to them. They’ve been looking forward to today for the past few weeks, and even went to bed (relatively) early last night in order not to be awake when Santa and the reindeer stopped by. Poor Santa only got some milk and cookies which, considering the cool snap we’ve been having recently, probably didn’t warm him up as much as a shot of Middleton Rare Irish Whiskey would have done….
Our preparations have been in full swing for the past week or so. This year, the kids prevailed upon me to get a tree earlier than last year. We went out last year the day before Christmas Eve to pick up tree, only to find that the Christmas Tree Farm was closed for the season ! Even though we eventually managed to find one, this year we were taking no chances and went out a week early, and picked up a nice one.
As usual I delegated the Christmas shopping to Jenn, and she did a good job. Orla, however, hacked in to our Amazon account to see what was coming. I think she learnt her lesson, because she realized it took some of the fun and anticipation out of the occasion. Maybe now she’ll use her powers for good, rather than evil ! But I can’t be too hard on her, because we know where she got those hacking genes…
Dinner is almost ready, the kids are playing with their toys (trains for Conall and Eoghan, among other stuff, and Breyer horses and books for Orla), and we have some family movies lined up for this evening. Life is good. Merry Christmas !

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