Wednesday -- May 28th

I know I am so behind on updating the website with the descriptions of the Lourdes pictures, our stories, and all. We have just been so busy. In the meantime, I do want to let you know that Ernie was KIDDING about losing $5000! Several people have offered their condolences for his gambling loss! Hopefully, he's NOT kidding about saving up for a kitchen re-do!

A few weeks ago, Maddie and I were invited to go see Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus at a private concert in Manhattan! We received the invitation from our new friend, Kim, and her family. We met Kim in Lourdes and have become good friends. She is a wonderful lady and we had such a great time with her and her family. The concert was great. It was in an opera house type building so it was pretty intimate. We got to go right up to the stage.

I had a great time people watching and as I was looking around, I made eye contact with Martha Stewart! Isn't that funny?! Well, of course, I immediately sat down and pulled Maddie into the seat next to me. She watched the show and I pretended to be watching her, as I tried to snap a picture of Martha! I only got her profile, but I'll get it on the website! I also saw Lorne Michaels, the write for Saturday Night Live. Couldn't get his picture! You know, I wanted to be respectful of their privacy, but I get such a kick out of seeing celebrities!

So, we drove down and back in one day so that Maddie could go to school in the morning. Plus, Stephanie was sitting at the house because Ernie left for "business" in Vegas, until Thursday. We even had a little time to stop in and see my parents in CT. before heading down to NY.

Long day but SO much fun! Thank you Kim and family! We had a nice Memorial Day weekend. We went down to my brother Mike's house in CT. for a cook out and celebration of his son, Daniel's , First Communion. It's always so much fun to watch all the cousins play.

The kids had no school yesterday, so I took them to MOM, the motion odyssey 4D movie, at Jordan's Furniture. The show was fun and we were the only ones there besides one other family. All other towns had school.

I have been re-doing the kids bedrooms. Just finished painting and re-decorating Michael's room and I am now finishing up Maddie's. They look great but the upstairs is torn apart. Lots of work to get everything put back together again!

Norfolk Kids PMC Ride in about 2 weeks (June 8th)!!! We're getting excited and trying to get ready for the big day. If you're planning on riding, please pre-register on line. It will be a good time for a great cause!

Wednesday -- May 22nd

I was finally able to upload some of Kristen's pictures from Lourdes. For those that don't know, I had to leave for a Las Vegas conference earlier this week. Believe me, it has been an extremely difficult trip. The tempature the last few days has been hovering between 105 and 110. I kid you not, check it out if you don't believe me.

Anyway, the other night I decided to take some money I'd been saving for Kristen's surprise 40th birthday gift (a new kitchen makeover) and try to double it by entering a Texas Hold'em contest at the MGM Grand. I've been watching how to play the game on on tv for the past few months and practicing with a computer simulator on my way to work. The $5,000 entry fee was a little stiff, but I went in feeling confident. I did pretty good for the first few hours. I had the kitchen paid for and even a little extra for a Jacuzzi for myself. Unfortunately I was blind-sided by an unemployed Clinton campaigner. Looks like she's going to have to wait for her 50th for that kitchen. So tonight, I had a lot of time on my hands and I decided to upload the pictures from their trip. I hope you enjoy them. They are beautiful.

Thursday -- May 8th

We're home and I'm sorry I haven't put an entry on the site about our trip yet. We were told before we left Lourdes, that it might be very difficult for a while to talk about our experience because it was so overwhelming and it's true. Maddie and I had the most amazing experience. I'm still absorbing and processing it all, and it truly is hard to talk about it just yet. We're also just plain exhausted! Emotionally and physically!

There is so much to say that it will take some time for me to truly put it into words, so it will take a few days to get a full entry in and add all our pictures, but I just wanted to let everyone know that we could not have received a more beautiful gift than our experience of the miracle of Lourdes!

I'm running out the door with Maddie, going into the hospital for the first set of her scans today, along with a blood draw. Then we're back in on Monday for the next full set of scans.

If you could all take a moment and say a prayer for us today, we would be grateful.

On a lighter note, I also wanted to let everyone know that my house is now back to the way I left it. I have reversed all of Ernie's attempts at "remodeling!"

Monday (late) -- May 5th

Not a whole lot to report with Maddie and Kristen. For some reason I could not reach them today. They should be home by this time tomorrow.

We had a good time at the ballpark on Sunday. The seats were splendid. The highlight for me came when I noticed team captain Jason Varitek and I are the same weight and height. Made me feel pretty good about being over 50.

Today was the first real break I've had since the girl's trip started. After almost 6 days with the boys I was delighted to see Stephanie Knowles this morning who was sitting for Thomas while I went to work. I'm embarassed to say I practically knocked her down on the way out the door.

When I got home the house was spotless. I don't know how she did it but she managed to get my bike and the treadmill back in the basement. On top of that all of the laundry was done (she even managed to find mates for all of the unmatched socks that had been piling up) the dishes cleaned (including the microwave...yes I did notice that), the floors vacuumed and washed, and the boys shoes lined up neatly by the back door. She then went out and purchased a bouquet of welcome home flowers for Maddie and Kristen and helped the boys make a card (I did think about replacing that card with one of my own but then thought better of it). The only thing she missed was taking my dry cleaning to the cleaners.

To show you how great she is I thought I would include the fundraising letter she is sending out in support of her PMC ride. Our wonderful friends at the Park Terrace Swim Club are donating a free family membership for the 2008 summer season in a special raffle they are having on June 7th to benefit her PMC ride. If you're interested in getting in on the action the details are in the letter. I know Stephanie would love the support.

My name is Stephanie Knowles and I am a resident of Norfolk, Massachusetts. This coming August I will be participating in the largest athletic fundraiser in the United States, the Pan Mass Challenge. This fundraiser consists of a 192 mile bike ride across Massachusetts. Last year 100 percent of every dollar raised was donated to the Jimmy Fund totaling 33 million dollars. Two hundred million dollars has been raised by the PMC since it began in 1980. As a rider I am required to raise $4,000 and I am held personally responsible for the money that I do not raise.

As a Massachusetts resident I have always wanted to ride in the PMC, but I have been apprehensive about signing up due to the training involved and the effort required to raise such a large sum of money. However, it is because of an amazing ten year old girl that I am riding this year. I met Maddie Savoie and her wonderful family years ago when I began babysitting for them. Over the course of the past couple of years I have grown even closer to Maddie and her family and knowing them has forever changed my life.

Maddie was diagnosed with bone cancer in August, 2006. Maddie has faced more in ten years than most people have to deal with in a lifetime and has done so with incredible strength and the most contagious positive attitude...her smile lights up a room! Maddie has had to endure chemotherapy, radiation and a variety of other medical procedures in an attempt to curb the growth of the cancer. Maddie is such a fighter that if it was not for her hair loss you would not have known the battle her body has been through. Through Maddie I have heard firsthand accounts of other children that are afflicted with such an unfair, indiscriminate and painful disease. Maddie has had to watch close friends she made pass away and has had to grow up too fast in too many ways. No one young or old anywhere in this world should have to hear the word "cancer" as a diagnosis, and this year I am intent to do my part to help find a cure. I will be riding under the Pedals for Pediatrics team and the money we raise will aid children who are battling cancer.

In an effort to raise the required money, the Park Terrace Swim Club has generously offered to support this incredible cause. They are raffling off a free family membership for the summer of 2008, but we need your help! Enclosed you will find raffle tickets that we are selling for $5.00 a ticket in the hopes of reaching (if not surpassing) my $4,000.00 goal. Please sell as many of these tickets as possible to anyone you know who may be interested in winning such a fantastic prize. The drawing will be held on opening day, June 7, 2008. Please mail back into Park Terrace Swim Club (or drop them off at their location) the tickets that you have sold and the money you received for them before the drawing on June 7th. Checks can be made payable to the PMC, and checks are preferred over cash if at all possible. I will then send in the checks with a form I complete so that the money goes directly to sponsoring my ride and the Pedals for Pediatrics team. If you sell all of the enclosed tickets, additional tickets can be obtained by contacting Park Terrace Swim Club. In addition, if you know of anyone (or any business) that may be interested in supporting me further please have them visit my PMC rider profile page at http://www.pmc.org/mypmc/profiles.asp?Section=story&eGiftID=SK0136.

Every little bit helps and I will be forever grateful to those who are able to sell these tickets and help sponsor my ride. The PMC is truly an amazing event and every time I reach a hill that I think is too steep I will not only be thinking of Maddie, and the millions of other people who have been affected by this disease, but of everyone who has helped me reach my goal and made my ride in the PMC possible.

Thank you all for just taking the time to read this letter, I hope it finds you healthy and happy!

Sunday -- May 4th

I spoke with Kristen briefly today. She and Maddie went to mass early this morning and have spent the rest of the day investigating the fort in Lourdes. Maddie told me the masses are two hours long and all in french. Afterwards they went to McDonalds. Who would have thought, McDonalds in Lourdes!

Michael and I had a great time at the computer Jamboree at MIT. It was a little awkward at first (I didn't know a Jamboree was completely unstructured event) but Michael met lots of kids who had similar interests and we were there for over 5 hours.

Today, the boys I hope to make to over see the Red Sox play. Someone thoughtfully donated us tickets so the boys could have a little fun as well. It's been raining on and off all weekend so we'll have to see if the weather holds. The Red Sox beat the Rays 12-4 last night and they are looking for a sweep of the 3-game series. Should be lots of fun.

There really isn't much else to report, although after cooking for 5-days straight, I've decided to rearrange the kitchen a bit. There's just too much walking between the stove and the pantry and the sink and things would be much more efficient if they were organized differently. I've cleared out a number of cupboards and left only the essentials. I think it works much better now and I'm sure Kristen will stop clamoring to remodel the kitchen once she sees how effective the new setup is.

Saturday -- May 3rd

I wasn't able to get a hold of Kristen this morning but Maddie did send me a batch of pictures which gives me an idea of what they are up to. Today Michael and I are going to a computer conference at MIT. We registered but did not hear back if we got in. We'll head over anyway, laptops in tow, and see what's up. Worst comes to worst we'll grab lunch and a beer/soda on the waterfront.... :)

Friday -- May 2nd

I spoke with Kristen today and she and Maddie are quite busy. This morning they toured the house where Bernadette lived, visited the church where she was baptized, and were blessed at the Holy Baths. Kristen said it was one of the most moving and beautiful moments of her trip so far. Afterwards they went to the Mass for the Healing and anointing of the sick and tonight they are heading up to the candlelight procession after dinner. For those that are interested you can leave a pettition at the Grotto of Lourdes by clicking on the link. The prayer petitions received through internet are passed on to a Chaplain of the Sanctuary who places them in the church during the evening Mass at the Grotto.

Thursday -- May 1st

They are offically in Lourdes now. Maddie has sent a few snapshots which I've included on the pictures page. After they took off Maddie sent one last text message letting us know they were up. A short while later the boys and I went out on the back porch and waited until we saw a plane heading northeast towards Airport highway, which is the route most planes fly to Europe. When we finally spotted a plane William got so excited he almost fell off the porch yelling goodby.

On the home front, I've decided my bicycle looks pretty good in the tv room. The boys certainly think it's cool and we're thinking of moving the treadmill up from the basement as well. I plan on being in great shape by the time Kristen gets home.

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