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 !



Conall continues to make his presence felt in the house. When he’s not screeching out like a train whistle, as he plays with his trains, he can be found either playing on his computer, sprawled out in an armchair watching a video or listening to an audiobook on his iPod, or dancing up a storm in the kitchen. Unlike the other two, he is more aware of when he’s tired. Whereas Orla and Eoghan will just get wilder and crankier as they get tired, Conall will decide he wants to go to bed. Last night was a typical example. Eoghan came downstairs in tears of frustration since his character had just been killed in a game, Wizard 101, after he had spent an hour trying to solve some challenge. Unimpressed with the noise, Conall came downstairs from his bedroom and admonished us all Quiet. I’m trying to sleep.
Conall is also, as I mentioned before, quite concerned about us all. A few days ago he said to me Dad, you look sick. You need to get some sleep. And if he sees me drinking a glass of wine, he’ll say Dad, don’t drink wine. It will make you sick.
If I pretend to be sad if he won’t give me a kiss, he’ll say Dad, don’t cry. Don’t cry like a bay-bee !
The funniest thing with Conall at the moment, though, is when he tries to tell a joke. Orla and Eoghan sometimes like to tell “Knock, knock” jokes, with a favourite being:

Knock, Knock.
— Who’s there ?
— Banana, who ?
Knock, Knock.
–Who’s there?
— Banana, who ?
Knock, Knock.
— Who’s there?
— Orange, who ?
Orange you glad I didn’t say “Banana” ?

Conall now seems to think that every “Knock, Knock” joke ends with “banana” ! So he’ll tell you a joke like this

Knock, Knock
— Who’s there ?
— Thomas, who ?
Thomas the tank engine, banana !

and start laughing hysterically, as if he’s just told the funniest joke ever !