In Dog Years

At just 8 weeks old, Sean brought you home for the first time. You cried, and cried, until he let you curl up in his lap for the 45-minute car ride. You had him wrapped around your finger. Just 1 … in dog-years.

Guinness and Sean on Day 1
The beginning of a beautiful friendship

Later that summer, you were the life of the party at the bonfire before my sister’s wedding. Just 2 … in dog-years.

On New Years Eve, you ate a Christmas ornament, and we called the Vet in a panic, Just 5 … in dog years.

You rested your head on my pregnant belly, and kept me warm. Just 7 … in dog-years.

Then, you peed on our bed because we brought THAT baby home. Still 7 … in dog- years.

You gently played with that baby, and shared your squeaky-toys with no complaints. Just 10 … in dog-years.

You rested your head on my pregnant belly and kept me warm. Again. Now 17 … in dog-years.

That time, 3-yr old Michael let you outside for the very first time. He was so proud. A lively 28 … in dog-years.

You let the kids dress you in Mickey Mouse ears. A stately 59 … in dog-years.


You chased me in circles around the house, and the kids laughed ‘til their bellies hurt. Feeling pretty good for 66 … in dog-years.

When we moved, and you weren’t pleased. You left several “presents” to remind us. Still the boss at 73 … in dog-years.

You managed to climb onto the dining room table, and couldn’t get down. A spry 77 … in dog-years.

12 human-years; 84 dog-years … You chased whiffle balls in the yard, over and over and over. You rested your head at Sean’s feet while he worked. You ate every scrap that fell from the kids’ plates. You playfully jumped on every new person who walked through the door. When Sean was away, you slept on his side of the bed, and made me feel safe.


Today, we laid next to you, and rubbed your belly until you fell asleep. And we said good-bye. Thank you for sharing your years with us, dear Guinness.

Thank You, Grandpa

This is my grandfather, circa 1944.  A 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.


He was a pilot. He flew B-24 Bombers over Europe. He was part of the Battle of the Bulge, and was even shot down once or twice. In fact, he went MIA for a few days after one mission with an unplanned landing. As I remember the story, he managed to make his way back to the base just in time to prevent a dreaded “Missing-In-Action” telegram from being sent to my grandmother.

He served our country…and, like so many other men and women of his generation, and so many other veterans, his service defined him.

He was a wonderful father and grandfather. He was a salesman – selling corrugated paper and packaging materials to support his family. He loved to fish and travel, and tinker with gadgets around the house. But when he spoke of his time as an Army Air Corps pilot, his missions at night, the rations, and especially of his crew, his eyes would glimmer. Sometimes a tear would form in the corner of his eye, as he reminded us that as a pilot, he never lost a man. We knew the experiences he shared with his crew were sacred. We knew we could never really understand their bond, borne out of the fear they shared that one, or all of them, might not come home. They lived through moments of terror, I’m sure. Yet my grandfather reflected on his time in the service as one of the best times of his life.

I’m so grateful for his service, and for the sense of patriotism he passed on to his children and grandchildren.

To my Grandpa, and all those who serve:  THANK YOU.

8 is Great!

My little boy turns 8 today, and has blossomed into a Big Kid!

A couple of years ago, when you turned 6, I wrote a post to reminisce about all you learned as a 5-year old.  It seems fitting do this again, Here’s your 8 year-old “Year-In-Review.”

    • You moved from 1st Grade to 2nd. You can add and subtract, and even multiply. You read “chapter books”, especially the books with wizards and magic and trips back in time.
    • You went on your first fishing trip, and handled a rod and reel like a pro.


    • You went to your first Drive-In Movie – You saw “Brave” and were upset that we didn’t stay for the double-feature.
    • You ask more and more questions that I cannot answer  – like “Where does the Easter Bunny live?” or “Why did the Dinosaurs become extinct?
    • You still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I love that, and a secretly dread the day those fantasies fade.
    • You think that Big Foot is real, and I cannot convince you otherwise.  I hate that.
    • We had the Best Vacation Ever at Disney! I could watch you fight Darth Maul, again and again!
  • You outgrew your case of stage fright, and have turned into the official Cub Scout spokesperson for your Den.


  • You made your First Penance and First Communion, and treasured an old set of rosary beads that belonged to Grandpa Wayne.
  • You are genuine, honest, loyal and sensitive, and you still sleep with your stuffed animal, “Horsey”. I promise that I will never throw him away.

You are rocking it as a Big Kid. Mom and Dad are so proud of you, and we love you to the moon and back!

Happy Birthday!

Making the Most of Leftovers – Sweet Potato and Black Pepper Biscuits

I love, love, love Thanksgiving leftovers! The turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce all smushed together, melts in my mouth as I ascend into a warm, dreamy haze before the tryptophan has a chance to kick in.

But, after your fourth turkey-hash induced coma in 48 hours, even the most devoted Thanksgiving Dinner disciple needs to find a way to spice it up. This year, in my quest to use all of our leftovers in new and exciting ways, I stumbled on this recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Pepper Biscuits. I’m not known for any sort of baking prowess, but these were pretty simple. I had just enough leftover sweet potatoes for a healthy-sized batch, and they were a perfect complement to my savory turkey pot pie.

My First Try at Sweet Potato and Black Pepper Biscuits
My First Try at Sweet Potato and Black Pepper Biscuits

If you want to try these for yourself, check out the recipe from the Green Crane at Allrecipes.com.

100 Years Young

Earlier this week, my great-aunt, Marie turned 100 years old.

She is an amazing woman. She came from a rather small family. She never married, nor had children of her own. She had one nephew (my father), and one niece. They in turn provided her with 15 great-nieces and nephews, and even more great-great nieces and nephews.

It’s hard to fathom living for 100 years. Just think, she was 5-years old on Armistice Day, and she remembers it. She also remembers that when she was very young, they spoke German in her home, but her father forbade it once the U.S. entered World War I.

She worked for decades for Metropolitan Life in New York City. During the era of TV’s “Mad Men”, she was one of the “girls” in the office pool. (Though I doubt she was ever up to any of the antics portrayed by Don Draper’s girls.)

She traveled quite a bit. While she traveled to Germany and Ireland, she treasured her trips across the U.S. – to Pike’s Peak, and the Grand Canyon.

When we were young, she drove a 1974 Green Dodge Dart. I loved that car. It took us on countless trips back and forth from our home in Vermont to my grandparent’s home on Long Island, New York. She would always take me, my siblings and cousins on little jaunts to Manhattan during our summer visits. She took me to the Museum of Natural History for the first time – where I was in awe of the big blue whale hanging from the ceiling. She and one of her friends took me to visit Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with a side trip to Gettysburg, PA when I was twelve. I will always remember that trip (in part because I came down with a nasty case of the Chicken Pox on the way home).

Last weekend, those of us who still live in the Northeast came together to celebrate her 100th birthday. We had a lively lunch (everything in our family is lively), and somehow managed to get Aunt Marie to wear a 100th birthday crown while we sang Happy Birthday. She laughed, and was a bit embarrassed, but she blew out those candles with no effort at all.

I’ve attached a little video photo album we put together for her.

100 Years of Aunt Marie from Mary McVeigh on Vimeo.


Aunt Marie – Happy Birthday, and we love you!!

To My Daughter- For Her First Day of Kindergarten

I am NOT a Poet – but what the heck …

You’re off to Kindergarten, and you’re quite well prepared.
Your Tinkerbell backpack is fully packed
With classroom donations of paper and paste,
And a shiny new lunchbox to hold every snack.
The princess’ new clothes are laid out with lace socks,
New shoes and a polka-dot frock
A headband with a bow is the final touch.
Kiss your dolly goodbye; you’re out the door with no muss.

Off to Kindergarten
She’s off and running!

Kindergarten is a doorway, beyond its threshold your classroom awaits
With chunky pencils, glue sticks, safety scissors, and crayons of every shade.
You will write, your will draw, you will cut and you will paste.
There will be learning centers to explore how things work,
From lego-built forts to clock hands to shoelaces and boots.

Just a few words of advice before you bolt through that door,

Stand neatly in line; don’t push and don’t shove.
Try something new, each day
Don’t give up, ‘til you’ve mastered the task.
Share your pencils and snacks
Ask questions – your friends might just be glad that you asked.
Be daring and bold, and unafraid to fail.
Stand up for yourself, and for your friends too.
You know right from wrong, remember that too.
Solve problems; don’t start them.
Be patient. Don’t whine, some things just take time.

Don’t forget – your teacher will teach, but the learning is up to you.

The School Bus
Kindergarten – Watch Out!

Why Parents Must Speak of Unspeakable Things

My 7-year old started summer day camp this week. With the recent verdict in Pennsylvania as an unfriendly reminder of the small number of real-life monsters out there, ready to prey on children, I made sure I revisited an uncomfortable discussion with my little boy. When it was done, I felt only a little relief, and a lot of sadness at having to peel away at yet another layer of his innocence.
This blogger captured my feelings exactly. Read her post about uncomfortable but necessary discussions with our kids.

A Big-Family FAQ

So, like most people (at least I think like most people), who I am today is largely the result of a precise blend of nature v. nurture. I definitely inherited plenty of traits from my parents and grandparents, but my perspective on life was certainly shaped by my childhood, and the boisterous, hectic, big-a$$ family of mine.

Mind you, we’re not as big as the famous “Duggars”, but we give them a run for their money. I have the honor of being the oldest of 13 (yes 10 + 3) children. It was a wonderful way to grow up, and though this surprises some, we were downright normal. We played Little League, went to public school, had family vacations, and though we might have been on a tighter budget, we didn’t suffer.


Often I am asked “what was it like?” (All 13 of us get this question, and many others.) so, my witty and eloquent brother Dan posted the following: “Since You Asked: 20 Things You’re Dying to Know About My Huge Family.” Head on over to his blog “Speak of the Daniel” and check it out!