Anyone who knows me knows that I have a short list of Hollywood celebs that I think are absolutely adorable. I’m not a big Brad Pitt fan, don’t get all ga-ga over Johnny Depp, and I think I could walk right into McDreamy or McSteamy in the grocery store and not know who they were in person.
But on top of my list of oh my gosh, this guy is SUPER hot, Hollywood celebs would be Pierce Brosnan. He’s handsome, talented, handsome, has the ability to laugh at himself, handsome, aging very well, and handsome. Oh, and he’s Irish, born in Navan, County Meath. Oh, and handsome.
So, as if those things weren’t enough reasons to be in love with Pierce Brosnan, he supports gay marriage, gay adoption, was married to his wife Cassandra Harris for 11 years, supporting her through her illness and surviving her passing, he adopted her two children when their own father died when they were small – I mean seriously, the list goes on and on.
Ten years after the loss of his beloved wife Cassandra, he married Keely Shaye Smith. I know nothing of the woman, but of course, knowing that Pierce was really waiting for an opportunity to meet and marry me, I was terribly jealous when he settled for Keely. I had fooled myself into believing he was still in mourning for his wonderful wife, which is why he hadn’t found time to look me up, so marrying Keely burst that bit of bubble I was living in.
To make matters worse, I was a big fat woman, and Keely was, of course, model perfect. How could she not be – she was marrying Pierce Brosnan?
But have you seen Keely Shaye Smith now? I relate to her and know that she must be a wonderful woman, because Pierce is able to look beyond the shell she lives in and into the person she is – and THAT my dear friends is my new biggest reason to love Pierce Brosnan. He could be shallow, tell her she needs to go on a diet to be seen with him, berate her in public for her weight, but he doesn’t – he loves her. It doesn’t matter to him that she isn’t model perfect anymore (although, honestly, even plus sized, Keely Shaye Smith is a beautiful, beautiful woman), she is the woman he loves, no matter what size her jeans are.
And Keely – one big reason to love her – she is living large and wearing a bikini. You go, girl. Gotta admire her for that.
So after the theatre tonight, Jim decides we should go grab a bite to eat. I like the diner across the street. The people are friendly, there are “safe” foods for me, and it’s close to home so no one has to drive home. Jim is on a kick to eat at different locations as often as possible. So why we ended up tonight at PJ Whelihan’s – where we have eaten many times before – is beyond me.
I have nothing against PJ Whelihan’s, except that for me – from a gastric bypass standpoint – the menu is crap. There isn’t much I can comfortably eat, so everytime we go, I order the Cobb salad, which I can never get close to finishing, and because of the “wet” stuff in it – like the tomatoes – by the time I get around to eating the leftover, it’s soggy and nasty and unedible.
I didn’t want a cold Cobb salad tonight – especially not going to bed. Chicken is not always my friend – it often gets stuck – and I didn’t want to risk it tonight, when I was tired. Jim wanted us to hurry up and order, and without really having time to read the descriptions of everything I wanted to, when the waitress came back and he told me to hurry up and order, I just blurted out “Irish Nachos”.
What is an Irish Nacho you might ask. Don’t even go there. If you ask, and I tell you, you might be tempted to try them. They might sound appealing to you. They’re not. There isn’t one redeeming quality in this dish, despite the presence of potato, bacon, and sour cream.
Oh, alright – you’re gonna ask anyway. Irish Nachos are described as “homemade chips” – which it turns out are potato chips. They are supposed to be topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, green onion and sour cream. When my plate of nachos are brought out to me, I can count on one hand the number of bacon bits, less than one hand the slices of green onion, and I could probably not fill a shot glass with the amount of cheddar cheese on these things. The most prevalent topping is a large dollop of sour cream, which doesn’t spread very well no matter how hard we try.
When the waitress comes back to see how everything is, I ask about the non-existent bacon, and she brings me back a small container of ice cold bacon to dump on top of the chips. Blech. So much for the nice, warm, crumbled bacon.
But, you figure, this is essentially a plate of potato chips – how bad can it be? Bland doesn’t begin to describe how bland these chips were. There is not a hint of seasoning or spice anywhere to be found. Not one grain of salt has made it’s way onto the surface of any of these chips. Having just had dinner out at Harry Caray’s in Chicago – where the chips were so good you wanted to lick the basket they were in – I know it’s possible for a bar to make a good potato chip. Apparently not if your bar is PJ Whelihan’s.
The potential here was great – all of my favorite food groups combined in one fabulous dish. Potatoes, cheese, bacon – it would have to be good, right? Unfortunately, no. Blah is the word of the day when it comes to describing the dish.
I’m ranting again. If you aren’t ready to listen to a total and complete rant, brought on by middle of the night television, tune out now. It’s going to get ugly, people.
So I am up at the crack of dawn, flipping through the infomercials, when I tune in to the ever reliable with a real show Discovery Health Channel. About to start is the television program “Adoption Stories”. If you have not seen this show, they go through the story of a family who is adopting a child – or children in some cases. And almost always, the story is devastating. There has been a struggle with infertility; they are overcoming the loss of a child; or even worse, the child has come from such a terrible background, you are crying minutes into this show.
The story today was on a couple, Noreen and Jill, who had gone the route of artificial insemination, only to discover that both women had issues with infertility. They applied to adopt a child, but because they are lesbians, they knew the private adoption route was probably an uphill battle. They felt that a birth mom would look at them and would no way want a baby to be put in a home like theirs.
They ended up going the foster route, and within hours of being approved and licensed, a newborn baby girl was placed with them. As is the expectation of fostering, the child was returned to her mother just a few short months later, leaving both women in terrible grief.
Of course the story for them has a happy ending. They ended up fostering a baby girl, and 10 months later, her baby brother. When the parental rights were terminated, they went through the adoption process – complicated by the fact that the babies were from an aboriginal home, and they needed to get approval from the Cree Indian nation in order to adopt them. They received the blessing from the Cree elders, and the adoption proceeded.
But here’s the point of my rant. Why is it okay in any state in this country to deny gay or lesbian couples the opportunity to provide good, loving, stable homes for children in need? Why is it better for a kid to stay in foster care or live in a home where there may be abuse or neglect? Who is it that decided a couple has to have one set of boobs and one penis in order to make good parents?
It irks me that couples who have been together for years, have wonderful homes, would give a child everything under the sun a child could want or need, still have to jump through hoops to prove themselves worthy of being parents – and in some places, even that’s not good enough. Where is the rationale in that?
To borrow a line from my favorite Doctor – Seuss – Oh the places you’ll go as a member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel!
Having felt pretty well bonded after our training experience, the idea is bandied about a few times about the opportunity for a bit of a reunion. Well, we are scattered like fall leaves across continents, so reuniting hardly seems feasible. But we’re talking Disney Moms. And we all know that all things are possible with a sprinkling of pixie dust and some Mommy determination.
What better time to choose for a reunion than Mother’s Day weekend? We are, afterall, Moms!
I won’t bore you with the planning details, because, quite frankly, unless you get into the planning aspect of things, you’ll want to put a noose around your neck by the time I finish the ins and outs of how we get half of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel to the Midwest. In the end, Kay and her wonderful husband Ron offered to host a few of us, so Diane and her daughter Jen and I head to Casa Kay; Margaret lives in the area and joins us for most of the festivities; and Cathy and Joanne bunk at Casa Cathy’s Brother. Diane and I arrive on Thursday; Cathy and Joanne on Friday; and Margaret and Kay – well, obviously, they are there already!
Kay’s home is filled with a lot of things. Her warm and wonderful home shows an enormous love for her children and grandchildren; her Green Bay Packers; and Disney. But the one thing you notice her home is filled with right away are dogs! Thor, Xena, and the international doggy phenomenon, Packer, are a lovable bunch who didn’t seem the least bit annoyed that their normal routine was dramatically interrupted by a houseful of company. I know Packer is the celebrity in the family, but you can’t help but fall in love with Kay’s gentle giants, Thor and Xena. They are absolutely wonderful dogs! I miss them almost as much as I miss my Disney Moms!
Thor and Packer
We had lunch at a creperie somewhere near Kay’s home (What? You thought I’d go to Chicago for a few days and suddenly get good at directions?). You would not believe what they will put inside a crepe! JD’s Crepe Company featured crepes that had everything from what you might suspect you would find in a crepe (gooey, delicious cheese; fruit; chocolate) to things you would expect to find anywhere BUT a creperie. I’ll review later, but I will tell you that you have not had a crepe until you’ve had one stuffed with pulled pork!
Dinner that evening was expertly prepared by Ron, who showed true culinary capabilities as he grilled some delicious steaks and chicken for Jen. As good as the dinner was, however, the best part of the dinner hour was getting the chance to meet Amy and Carson, Kay’s daughter and her beautiful little boy! Amy is smart, warm, friendly, beautiful, AND, for my single male readers – available!! And Carson – you just go look adorable up in the dictionary, and you’ll see that happy little face staring back at ya!
We all turned in pretty early, given the fact that we were all up at oh-dark-thirty to get to the airport. Diane, Jen, and I were on East coast time, so our schedule was a little off anyway. I vow to stay sleeping until at least noon on Friday to catch myself up.
So at 5 AM on Friday, I finish my book (Water for Elephants – PHENOMENAL read!), but stay quietly in my room so I don’t wake anyone up who has the committment necessary to really sleep until noon. After a while, I hear feet padding about, so I venture out to the kitchen to find Jen and Diane. They decided if Kay was asleep, they were going to wake her up for sure by playing air hockey! Not sure who won, but they are both fierce competitors.
Ron, bless him, runs out and gets a wonderful selection of doughnuts and pastries, and we hop on the computer to do our Walt Disney World Moms Panel due dilligence. We tackle a few questions together, which was fun – even if I did have to make sure my censor button was working! It’s one thing to say something to get ME in trouble, but something else entirely to get a good percentage of the panel in trouble!
After time to chill and chat, we get a tour of Kay and Ron’s hometown en route to the Round the Clock Restaurant! What a way to make a Jersey girl feel at home! This place is a diner, just like we have at home, complete with an awesome soup (lemon chicken and rice), delicious salads, and breakfast “round the clock”. Definitely Good Eats!
By the time we finish lunch and eat up our allotted 12 minutes of parking time in the downtown area with a quick stop in a 12 minute parking zone, we have to hop right into the shower and get ready for our big evening out! We are meeting Margaret, Joanne, and Cathy in Chicago to have dinner and see Jersey Boys (yes, I, a Jersey Girl, went all the way to Illinois to see Jersey Boys). The celebration started in the car on the way to Chicago. Kay thought of everything! Packed in the limo was ice cold champagne, the Jersey Boys soundtrack, the Walt Disney soundtrack that she had Amy (her gorgeous, intelligent and available daughter) make for us, and snacks. That Kay is a one woman celebration!
We arrive in Chicago at the famous Harry Caray’s Restaurant. Margaret is waiting outside for us, and it is so great to see her – even though I did see her just a couple of days before! We decide to head in and have a drink before dinner while we wait for Cathy and Joanne. Okay, the potato chips here – let’s just say, who needs dinner? The chips are so good, you could just sit at the bar all night and never go into the dining room.
Cathy and Joanne arrive, and after some hugging and a quick catching up, we move into the dining room.
People, there is something we did not previously know. Margaret is some kind of Chicago celebrity. Once they noticed this was Margaret’s table, freebies started pouring out of the kitchen! They all recognized Margaret from her frequent visits to the restaurant, and we were given a selection of appetizers thanks to Margaret’s famous face! I browsed the walls for a photo of Margaret among the many other celebrity photos they have here, but she must dine in cognito, because I didn’t see her.
After dinner, we enjoyed a nice walk to the theatre. I’m usually pretty cold, but the air certainly got a little warmer when Kay stopped in the middle of the block and did the infamous We Must, We Must, We Must Increase Our Bust cheer. It was a beautiful thing, and people were so awed by the performance, they stopped dead in their tracks to witness the spectacle.
In a word, Jersey Boys was incredible. In multiple words, it was feckin’ incredible! Loved the music, loved the behind the scenes story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and thoroughly loved the company! Kay’s daughter Amy and her friend Rose joined us for dinner and a show, and I hope they were comfortable with us. We laughed a little too loud and acted a little bit outrageous, but we were so glad they were able to join us. Rose is a Jersey girl – we bonded over the fact that the rest of this great country has crummy deli sandwiches, mediocre Italian pastries, and too soft rolls. Diane’s daughter Jen won’t be recommending the show anytime soon, but apparently, she doesn’t have a grandmother that plays the cursing game with her. All three of my girls have been using language like they used in the show since they could hold a phone to their ears for my mother to teach them the world of foul language. By the time they are 6, they even knew some curses in Gaelic. If ever one of my children tells you to kindly Póg mo thóin, don’t thank them.
The show came to a close, and so did our fun as a group. Margaret the Celebrity was joining us back at Kay’s house for the night, so we drew straws to see who would take the first shift to stay awake with our own Moms Panel Energizer Bunny. I apparently missed the straw drawing thing, and as a result, I got the first shift. It wasn’t too bad though. I gave her an Ambien laced pizzelle, and she wandered up to her room not too long after we arrived back at Kay’s!
We got up super early Saturday morning, packed our bags to get them to the hotel in Chicago, and enjoyed a delicious breakfast casserole, prepared by both Kay and her husband Ron, who stayed up late the night before cooking sausage. Ron took us all to the train station, and we ogled the train conductor for the hour long trip into Chicago. We so wanted to keep him as a souvenir for Joanne, but we didn’t get a chance to ask him how old he was, and we weren’t sure if there was an age limit to transport men into Canada or not 🙁
Okay, my Chicago pictures mostly depict my fascination with tall buildings and fountains, so we’ll take a few minutes to indulge my fascination….
So we arrive in the city, meet Cathy and Joanne, and decide to do the $40 bus tour of Chicago, which allows us to get on and off as we please to see and do things that we want to see and do. This works great for all of us – for $40, you get coupons for a free bag of popcorn, a free Hershey bar, and a free t-shirt. You can almost earn your money back with all of those freebies!
We tour a short bit of the city, then find ourselves drawn to the free Garrett’s popcorn. But the catch to the free popcorn is that once you are in the store, smelling the delicious caramel, licking the cheesey taste off of your lips from the cheddar cheese corn, “free” means you get in line, spend $30 on other popcorn, and walk away happy with your generous free sample, plus the bags of popcorn you have to bring to friends and family. And let me tell you – 6 women, walking the streets of Chicago wearing bright pink jackets with mouse ears on them get stopped a lot – and asked where we got our bags of popcorn.
After whetting our appetites with delicious Garrett’s popcorn, we decide it must be time for lunch. We also only have Margaret for a short while, and we don’t want to lose her without eating! We head to Petterino’s – sort of by default, as it’s the closest restaurant to us. It really turns out that the most important thing about any of the meals that we’ve eaten together is the fact that we’re together. And here are our happy faces at Petterino’s…
After enjoying a really lovely lunch, we head back out to the frozen tundra – I mean Chicago spring time – to get back on the bus.
Margaret has to get going, so she is only on the bus a short distance before she has to head back to the train to get home to her boys. We really missed having Margaret with us for the rest of the afternoon, but we looked forward to seeing her at the hotel.
Our next stop took us to the one place we had hoped we would score a man for Joanne! It was our mission this weekend to find the most handsome and eligible men from which she could make a selection. Where better to seek out men then Navy Pier – where we might find some Navy dudes. And as luck would have it…..
Okay, the big flaw here is obvious – he’s barely out of diapers, let alone boot camp; but he was such a sweetie, allowing us to not only take our photo with him, but obliged when his mother insisted he take his coat off so we could see him in his full uniformed glory. Next time, we’ll have to aim higher when seeking out potential suitors for our Joanne.
The Navy Pier was awesome if for no other reason, they had a Starbucks! So when I got back on the bus, instead of freezing my arse off, I only froze one cheek off! Woohoo! Thank you Starbucks latte!
April 25, 2009 was Eilis’ First Holy Communion. There was great thought and planning put into making her day incredible – but with a decidedly Eilis spin on things. There would be no fancy party at a lovely restaurant on the waterfront somewhere. There would be no thoughts of dozens of pictures with her in her beautiful dress in different poses. But it all came together, just as she wanted.
With one exception. The taste testing of the Eucharist itself. The sample bag came home two days before the big day. Two tiny wafers, innocently packed in a Ziploc snack bag. Practice with your children, we were told. Offer them the host as the priest would do, and let them know what it tasted like and felt like in your mouth.
Our taste test went something like this:
Me: “Body of Christ”
Eilis: “This is dumb.”
Me: “Eat it anyway!”
Eilis (with what can only be described as a nasty ass face): “Ewwww! This is what Jesus tastes like? He’s Jesus! If I was Jesus, I’d taste like a chocolate chip muffin!”
So you can imagine the look on her face when she actually got to Mass, received the Holy Eucharist, then went to sip the wine.