Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Greatest Guys in the World

I have four of the greatest guys in the world!
They are so sweet!

Apparently, for several months now the boys have been wanting to have a "Greatest Mom in the World" party. I didn't know anything about this. They have been planning and asking Tim when.
This is a pleasant surprise to me because I am not only their mother, I am their teacher, and it's tough to win the popular vote some days.

Well on Saturday night they got their wish.
They all went downstairs and left me blogging unaware. They were down there a long time...
So awhile later, John calls from the bottom of the stairs "Mom, I need you down here." I said I would be down in a minute and was finishing my post, and I hear him call again, "I really need you to come down NOW!" Hmmm.... That sounded serious.

I put down the laptop and went down, around the corner and....SURPRISE!!!
They had the basement all decorated with balloons and streamers, they had gotten me a couple of movies and they had made HUGE banners!

It was just the nicest thing.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Brendan the SKATER!!

Brendan had a GREAT day yesterday.
He had informed me a couple of days ago that if he couldn't have a skateboard, he wanted some skates. He asked me to go online and check prices. We did and he was rather underwhelmed when he saw that it was going to be about eight weeks before he had enough allowance!
He is such a sweetie. He just looked rather downcast and then said that he would try to save.
Well, when the mail came there were TWO items for Brendan and Two for Paul, one thing for John and a lovely card for me. Deena had sent birthday gifts to both of the boys and they were very excited, then Grandpa Dick sent something along and lo and behold, Brendan had enough, with his allowance, to go to Target and get his Schwinn in-line skates.
He got on them at around 3:00 yesterday afternoon, and by this afternoon he was flying around like a pro!
I told him that his Godfather will be very proud! He can't wait to see him and Giordan and talk Hockey.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Favorite Poem

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay

Sunday, April 20, 2008

American Papist

An American Catholic and Loving it!
Now here is an encouraging Blog!!

I have put it in my Google Reader. This young man is a fabulous speaker and writer. This interview is just one post. Go to the blog and read it! Share it with any teens and young people you know.
This is why I am confidant in our American Catholic youth. They will carry the flame of Christ's love forward into the future.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jesus Comes to Brendan!

Today was a very big day in the Merkel household!
Today was Brendan's First Communion!

He looked so nice! He got all dressed up in his suit and tie.
He was just so grown up and such a little gentleman.

The Mass was wonderful and Father Jay did such a nice job with the kids.
He asked that no one take pictures during the Mass, which I thought was very nice for the kids. I took a couple as they were coming in...

And this is the class afterwards. Brendan is very proud of his new Crucifix.

Then Father Jay went inside to take pictures with all the kids.

This little boy was baptized on the same day as Brendan, at St Patrick's! His mom said they were watching the video and there we were! It was so neat to have them receive Communion in the same class. He was also on Brendan's Soccer team.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Baseball Thing

So John is getting into Baseball.
He has been collecting cards for about a year. Now he knows enough about the players that he wants to listen to the games. Most of the stations have blacked out the games and I don't know if we can stream the one that hasn't. So I went ahead and paid the 15.00 to stream the Major League Games for the season.
Now I am listening! It's the coolest site!
It has a great Live Page to watch and it has all the stats, the live play-by-play and a ton of info!
I'm having a great time! The Orioles are not.
They are having a hard time keeping their feet under them this year.
I'm glad I don't have to watch...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

War and Peace

Saturday was a very nice day.
We traveled up to the Harper's Ferry area to participate in a Civil War Reenactment with the Army of Chivalrous Christian Soldiers. The Battle they did was the Battle for Chancellorsville.
The young people that put this on are really amazing folks. Major Bradford is a docent at several Civil War sites and he knows all the battles, history, people, customs and well, just about all there is to know about this time in history. Even better, he and his friends are devout Christians and are devoted to passing on the art of Chivalry to young boys and girls when they come to participate.
The clothing, the food, the language, the manners, were all part of a three day history lesson.

John and Paul were Confederate infantry
and Brendan, once again, wanted to be a Yank.
They were so into it all day! They drilled, marched, and fought

all over this huge farm. They were given lessons in manners and how to treat a lady. My son actually tipped his hat to me! They didn't complain at all, the whole day. They saved all their complaining for the drive home.

As an added Blessing I was privileged to meet, in person, a very special lady that I have known online for a couple of years. I have been reading her blog "Mommylife" for a long time now and we have occasionally written back and forth. I have been praying for her since I started reading her writing, because I had a feeling that she was searching and sure enough, this Easter she returned to the Catholic Church, and her husband, Tripp came into the Church with her. It has been so wonderful to follow her journey online! So, since we were going to be in Louden County VA, where she lives, I wrote and asked if I could drive over and pick up some books that I had ordered from her, and meet her. She is an excellent author. She said that Saturday would work well, and as it turned out, the farm was only about 15 minutes from her house! God is so good!
I was so neat to finally talk to her in person. I met her family as they came in and out, and they are so special! Her daughters are sweet, both of them were so gracious!
The boys are a neat bunch. All four of them have Down's Syndrome and they are all very nice boys. Johnny is 16 and a cutie. He is quite a character.
We just had such a nice chat. It was such a treat. We ended up talking for a couple of hours!
I love the sense of family that we have within the Church.

After I got back to the farm, we watched the tactical and then had supper. It was so good!

We had to get back home that night, but we stayed until the dance began.

We were so tired, but it was so much fun!

Welcome to our Dear Papa!

What an feeling of Joy we had watching our dear Holy Father arriving and coming down the steps of his plane at Andrews AF Base, not too far from us here in Maryland!
I keep thinking that he is just down the road and it is so comforting.

It was really special to read the Gospels this week. They are the "Good Shepherd" Gospels.
God is so good to give us a succession of Shepherds in our popes, our "Papas".
We have been so Blest in these recent years to have such wonderful Fathers.

We will be keeping "Papa Ben" in our prayers this week. For his safety, as he travels and in the crowds. For his message, as he ministers to a rather willful flock.

God Bless you always Holy Father! WE LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

So Spring!

Ah! Finally!
The Weeping Cherry tells me that we are finally moving into the warm weather and the Tulips have decided that it's safe to show their pretty faces!
I wait every year to see these first real signs that winter is saying Good-bye!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The New Internet

I am so glad that Al Gore has kept working on the internet!
Where would we be without him?! I hope this doesn't mean he's slowing down his efforts to save the Earth from Global Warming...
His alias can be found in the following article.

So no, really, there is big news on the horizon for all you techies out there. I have been waiting for this, and it sounds like it may be a reality for us little guys in a few years...

Read on...

From the "Times Online"

Coming soon: superfast internet

THE internet could soon be made obsolete. The scientists who pioneered it have now built a lightning-fast replacement capable of downloading entire feature films within seconds.

At speeds about 10,000 times faster than a typical broadband connection, “the grid” will be able to send the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue from Britain to Japan in less than two seconds.

The latest spin-off from Cern, the particle physics centre that created the web, the grid could also provide the kind of power needed to transmit holographic images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call.

David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technologies could “revolutionise” society. “With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine,” he said.

The power of the grid will become apparent this summer after what scientists at Cern have termed their “red button” day - the switching-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the new particle accelerator built to probe the origin of the universe. The grid will be activated at the same time to capture the data it generates.

Cern, based near Geneva, started the grid computing project seven years ago when researchers realised the LHC would generate annual data equivalent to 56m CDs - enough to make a stack 40 miles high.

This meant that scientists at Cern - where Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web in 1989 - would no longer be able to use his creation for fear of causing a global collapse.

This is because the internet has evolved by linking together a hotchpotch of cables and routing equipment, much of which was originally designed for telephone calls and therefore lacks the capacity for high-speed data transmission.

By contrast, the grid has been built with dedicated fibre optic cables and modern routing centres, meaning there are no outdated components to slow the deluge of data. The 55,000 servers already installed are expected to rise to 200,000 within the next two years.

Professor Tony Doyle, technical director of the grid project, said: “We need so much processing power, there would even be an issue about getting enough electricity to run the computers if they were all at Cern. The only answer was a new network powerful enough to send the data instantly to research centres in other countries.”

That network, in effect a parallel internet, is now built, using fibre optic cables that run from Cern to 11 centres in the United States, Canada, the Far East, Europe and around the world.

One terminates at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire.

From each centre, further connections radiate out to a host of other research institutions using existing high-speed academic networks.

It means Britain alone has 8,000 servers on the grid system – so that any student or academic will theoretically be able to hook up to the grid rather than the internet from this autumn.

Ian Bird, project leader for Cern’s high-speed computing project, said grid technology could make the internet so fast that people would stop using desktop computers to store information and entrust it all to the internet.

“It will lead to what’s known as cloud computing, where people keep all their information online and access it from anywhere,” he said.

Computers on the grid can also transmit data at lightning speed. This will allow researchers facing heavy processing tasks to call on the assistance of thousands of other computers around the world. The aim is to eliminate the dreaded “frozen screen” experienced by internet users who ask their machine to handle too much information.

The real goal of the grid is, however, to work with the LHC in tracking down nature’s most elusive particle, the Higgs boson. Predicted in theory but never yet found, the Higgs is supposed to be what gives matter mass.

The LHC has been designed to hunt out this particle - but even at optimum performance it will generate only a few thousand of the particles a year. Analysing the mountain of data will be such a large task that it will keep even the grid’s huge capacity busy for years to come.

Although the grid itself is unlikely to be directly available to domestic internet users, many telecoms providers and businesses are already introducing its pioneering technologies. One of the most potent is so-called dynamic switching, which creates a dedicated channel for internet users trying to download large volumes of data such as films. In theory this would give a standard desktop computer the ability to download a movie in five seconds rather than the current three hours or so.

Additionally, the grid is being made available to dozens of other academic researchers including astronomers and molecular biologists.

It has already been used to help design new drugs against malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that kills 1m people worldwide each year. Researchers used the grid to analyse 140m compounds - a task that would have taken a standard internet-linked PC 420 years.

“Projects like the grid will bring huge changes in business and society as well as science,” Doyle said.

“Holographic video conferencing is not that far away. Online gaming could evolve to include many thousands of people, and social networking could become the main way we communicate.

“The history of the internet shows you cannot predict its real impacts but we know they will be huge.”


A very busy Saturday!
Today started out with Brendan and I going up to Good Shepherd for his First Communion retreat.
He was less than enthusiastic about getting out the door, but I think he ended up enjoying it and got a lot out of it.
I was hoping to be able to spend the day with him, but my job was in one of the stations reading to the kids and talking to them about Miracles and the Eucharist. I watched Brendan as he went from place to place and he seemed to be glad to be there. After I was done I was able to go over to the Church with Brendan's group so that they could have a little rehearsal for 1st Communion, we are going to practice here at home too.
After we were done we came home and gave the boys lunch.
I got a call from a friend, who is helping us get ready for the re-enactment next Saturday. I wanted to look at the haversacks and the coats that she has modified for her son.
I then headed over to Bel Air to look for a coat. I found a great one at the Goodwill over there. I also found one for Paul. It's suede and it has fringe and it looks just like the coat the "rebel spy" wore in Gettysburg. He is gonna be a great little scout!
I have the material for the haversacks and Tim is making canteens. I have a little work to do on Brendan's coat to make it look like a Union uniform coat, but not much.
We are going to stay over on Friday night at a Comfort Inn in Harper's Ferry. Nope, no Civil War tents for me! It's still too cold out there.
I'll get some pictures of everything as we get done.

The event takes place on Brendan's birthday, so that should be interesting!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Paul!

Yes! Our little Paul is not so little!
Today he is six!!
He has had a really good day. He got up the morning and opened his gifts from the family. He got a Nintendo DS and a game. He also had the added gift of being able to be off school AND play his game all day! We only allow the games to be played in the car or at appointments. The boys live for long car rides! Up until now Brendan was the only one with a handheld game but I thought that with all the travel we will be doing in the near future, the games might prove to be a good thing.
Another Birthday tradition is that the birthday person gets to pick dinner. So we are going to the "Grand Buffet". That's where he wants to go!
Then we are off to find something that he can spend his gift card on!

He is such a great kid. We are very proud of him.

God Bless You Paul!