Abbiegrey, this one’s for you.

So, three years ago (yes, I’m that bad), I promised to post a recipe for cream puffs to the above person in a Ravelry group.  Oh, I just hope she’s okay with “better late than never”.  Here’s the recipe:

First, you make the dough known as pate de choux (or in English: choux paste).  You will need:

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup butter

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt.

Bring these four to a rolling boil.  Then add, all at one time:

1 cup sifted flour

Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a smooth ball.  Remove from heat.  Quickly beat in (using wooden spoon), one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition:

4 eggs

Continue beating until thick and smooth.  Dough may now be shaped and baked at once, or wrapped in waxed paper and stored overnight in the refrigerator.

To shape:

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.  Dough can also be squeezed through a pastry bag for eclairs, or dropped by rounded teaspoonfuls for mini cream puffs.

Bake at 450 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees Farenheit and bake 5 minutes longer or until golden in color.  Fill as desired when cool.

Makes about 1 dozen large or 4 dozen mini cream puffs.  I’ve never done the eclairs but I would think you’d get about 2 dozen of those.

I originally made cream puffs for the feast of St. Joseph.  You can see the picture here.

This is going to take some getting used to . . .

Windows 10, I mean.

So far, in spite of what they said in the introduction about “all your files are right where you left them”, none of my web favorites were saved.  So I’ve lost all the web addresses from four years of homeschool freebie of the day as well as other websites that I may not have frequented often but that I liked to check here and there (news sites) and ones that I used only once per year (NORAD’s Santa tracker).

I’ve also tried to catch up on reading some of the blogs I follow, only to be told “Hmm, we can’t reach this page”, including reading my own blog.  Well, the site addresses are correct, so I hope they can get this little glitch figured out soon.

As for the web favorites, I hope I’ve got at least some of those addresses on my pc because I doubt I’ll be able to retrieve them on the laptop.  What a bummer.

Bunnies – A Lack of Ears

Don’t worry, no one ran over the furry variety with a lawn mower. What I’m talking about is an admittance or understanding by a rising group of people that pornography hurts women. Pornography adds to the demand for prostitution and that in turn, builds momentum for sex trafficking.

Playboy recently announced that they are removing full nudity from their magazine. Their reason was because they felt it would improve their brand. I applaud the decision even if their reasoning is wonky.

Several hotel chains have recently moved to remove pay-per-view porn channels from their offerings. Hilton, Omni, Marriott and most recently Hyatt Regency have all made the move to cease offering these channels. Thank You!

Porn kills real love. Porn turns women into objects or tools in the minds of men. We become Things to be Used instead of being recognized as real people, unique in all the world. We need to teach our daughters that they are worthy of real love and not to settle for anything less. We need to teach our sons that they too are worthy of real love and not to settle for anything, like pornography, that would make them and the person they claim to love so much less.

The Summer of B’s . . . Bayfield, Boston & Bristol

Or we could just call this: How I spent my summer vacation.

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The toad outside the bath house at our Bayfield campground. Judging by the cabbage moth next to it, I may have interrupted its late night snack.

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The other Madeline Island ferry.

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Docking at Madeline Island. It’s a busy place in the summer.

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The Sunken Ships glass bottom boat tour out of Bayfield. The tour takes you over the top of two of the wrecks. The water clarity that day was amazing.

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Just one of the many lighthouses on Lake Superior. I believe this is the Raspberry Island Lighthouse.

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Bayfield at dusk.

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The Mayflower II; Plymouth, Massachussetts.

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Plymouth Rock.

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DH & BooBoo watching one of the reenactors at Plimoth Plantation split logs into boards.

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4th of July in Bristol, Rhode Island. Bristol is home to the oldest, continuous 4th of July celebration in the nation. 2015 marked the 230th year of the celebration. Our little hometown band marched in their parade.

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All branches of the military were represented, as well as the police, fire fighters, ambulance crews, etc.

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This float had “living sculptures”.

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A bit of noise and smoke from one of the parade groups.

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And here they are! Our hometown marching band. They are marching sans jackets due to the heat. Oh, and that flute in the front row . . . yes, that’s Ditty.

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One of the many plaques in Boston’s North End Garden. There is also a very moving memorial/tribute to the military personnel who lost their lives in the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.

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There were lots of moon jellyfish in Boston Harbor.

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BooBoo & I at JFK Library & Museum. Yes, he’s just about as tall as I am, but my extra half inch of height doesn’t show up well in pictures.

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Boston Harbor Arch.

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The U.S.S. Constitution in dry dock for repairs and restoration. She’ll be high & dry until sometime in 2017, but they still allow tours of the ship now that she’s secure.

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The U.S.S. Cassin Young, also on display at the Navy shipyard.

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Clock tower. Boston.

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The catamaran we rode for our whale watch tour.

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The fort at Castle Island, from the top deck of the catamaran.

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Boston Harbor Light.

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Whales!

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Whales!

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and more Whales! It was so cool to see these giants up close. We saw Humpbacks, Finbacks and Minke whales.

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DH & BooBoo with the Elizabeth Montgomery statue in Salem, MA. Well, it is the “Witch Capital”.

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Salem also has Stickworks, a sculpture by the same gentleman who created a stick house sculpture garden at St. John’s University.

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And finally, a view of the sunrise over Fearing Pond; Myles Standish State Forest, Carver, MA.

I’m glad the rest of our summer travels will just be short weekend hops to camp with friends. This busy summer is going way too fast! Hope you have time to enjoy your summer.

Fun in the chaos

Oh my,my! Well, it’s definitely past time for an update. I love coming back to this space and being able to think about and remember what has gone on in our lives. And to think about new things as well. So, on to the update.

Ditty got her driver’s license April 2nd. Yeah, I’m sorry you weren’t warned sooner too, but you survived up to this point so I think you’ll be okay.🙂

We have marching band and soccer in our lives again this summer and it has been a blast. I’ve actually been to 2 of the parades this year (as opposed to none of them last summer). BooBoo’s soccer team is actually in first place, so far, in their standings (as opposed to 3rd or dead last in the 4 team age bracket in years past).

Ditty has been nominated for the Ambassadors of Music program in our state. She will have the opportunity to practice with other band students from around the state in the coming year and then will be heading off for a European tour in July 2016. If you’re reading this Shoe, she’ll be playing (with the rest of the band) in or near London early in the tour but location is still “To Be Determined”.

This has been a great honor because students are nominated not just for musicianship but also for character. Gosh, it’s nice that someone else thinks she’s a character too! Oh, not that kind of character? You’re right. It’s because she is a fine, respectable and respectful person. As I have said before, she is becoming a true role model, a wonderful young woman.

The past year at work has been wonderful. I am now enjoying part of our summer break before my co-worker and I delve into a computer program to organize the lunch menus and basically will make all the paperwork (state reporting, etc.) that goes with being a “lunch lady” go much smoother and more quickly. I say more quickly, but really at the present time it doesn’t go quickly at all and my co-worker is the one dealing with all of it. So I will do my best to help her out as much as I am allowed to or can.

Our family trip this summer will be to the Boston area. We’re shadowing the marching band (Ditty calls us “the stalker families”) but we will have our own sights (and sites) to see and our own things to do. DH, BooBoo and I will be going to a Blue Man Group concert. This will be BooBoo’s first actual concert. I think he will enjoy it. We’re also doing the Boston Harbor boat ride over to the USS Constitution, Plimoth Plantation and a whale watching cruise. I’m hoping that since both DH & BooBoo enjoy fish, that we will be able to hit mainly seafood restaurants while we’re there. The “Friday Catholic” in me is SO excited!!! After all, it’s almost a full week of seafood! Laugh if you will, I’ll enjoy it tremendously.

I’ve updated the praises, prayers, calendar & blog links. Enjoy your summer!

Two in One: A small update & more musings on C.S. Lewis

First: Near the end of February, our friend Wade lost his battle with cancer. Wade was, and continues to be, an inspiration for his courageous battle. Wade’s battle lasted eight years. Some people might say that’s a long time, others that it wasn’t enough time. I’m a bit with the latter, but grateful that their children are all eight years older than they were at the beginning of this. They’ve had the opportunity to make some amazing memories together with their father. This won’t make the loss less painful and in all probability, the loss is now felt all the more. But the gratitude for the time they shared is there. Please pray for his wife and their young family.

Second: I’ve recently finished reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Personally, I think his books should be required reading for Roman Catholics. Even though Lewis himself did not convert to Catholicism, his books on faith and religion are very strong and they contain an amazing insight about why we need faith and how our faith must include reason and intellect (that is, if I can state “reason and intellect” and not be accused of an oxymoron. Perhaps discernment and intellect might have been better.).

The book talks about heaven and hell and purgatory. It delivers an interesting perspective on our lives that we fail to see for ourselves unless we first read about it somewhere else. Amazing that we should need to read about it elsewhere really. One would think that we would know ourselves better than anyone else possibly could, yet we deceive ourselves easier than we deceive others. The book involves what it takes for each person encountered in the story to move into heaven from purgatory. And Lewis touches on many human behaviors in a relatively short book.

And now that it has taken me a little better than a week to get this post finished, you get a bonus. A third muse absolutely free! Okay fine, I didn’t charge for the others and never do but everybody loves a freebie anyway.

Third: After looking in The Catholic Home by Meredith Gould to see if there was some info I could pass on to the twelve teen boys I teach faith formation to, I decided to reread the acknowledgements. I know, no one ever reads those. But I do and I did. In those expressions of gratitude to the various people who have helped the author with her book, life while writing, etc., I came across a thank you to “the Reverend Martha Blacklock”. The Reverend Martha Blacklock! Now, being a Roman Catholic reading a book by a convert to the Roman Catholic church, I was a bit unnerved to see that title used to address a woman. So I looked her up on the internet. Then I went to the author’s website and then over to the author’s blog. Then I had to make a decision.

When one finds information that makes one question whether or not a person is faithfully following the Catholic church, what is one supposed to do? Most of what this particular author wrote in The Catholic Home is correct and seems faithful to church teachings. The bit about celebrating pagan holidays was over the top and off the mark. How does one reconcile how a person lives their life outside of Mass with what they state about their faith and how the faith they profess expects them to live their life?

I’m not sure about this one. I’ll need to keep thinking on it a bit longer. Why? Because we all fail somewhere, sometime, somehow and I just don’t know if it’s really up to me to judge who is a faithful Catholic and who isn’t.

She lives! The electric edition

Well, I’m no better at getting back to this blog now than I have been at any time in the past year. I’m sorry.

It’s been a year of change and upheaval for me. With the job search in August/September, I had heard about a postion in a nearby town from a friend. That didn’t pan out. Then we went to Mass in another nearby town and the priest mentioned a job opening at their parish school. That lead to a 1st & 2nd interview and a “shadow day”. And while that situation progressed, I learned about an opening with my son’s school. That was the lead that finally lead to the actual job. So as of October 1st, I am the assistant cook at my son’s Catholic school. It has been a hectic, wonderful learning experience for me. I love being there and helping our head cook create the delicious, healthy meals for these children. I have learned so much and when we get back from Christmas break, I’ll be learning even more. We are a good team and have great help from a number of volunteers who come in to help serve the food, assist the kids with condiments and wipe down tables. It has been an incredible blessing to be able to do the work I enjoy with people I enjoy spending time alongside.

Ditty went as far a sections with her swim team this year. She was hoping that she wouldn’t need to go as her shoulder has been bothering her. We have been working with our chiropractor and that brought some relief. Now that swim season is over, that has brought even more relief, so I just need to encourage her to keep doing the exercises so that she doesn’t re-injure it next year. She is also preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation. It’s hard to believe that she’s old enough to do this. And trying to get her behind the wheel time finished so that she can get her driver’s license. My little girl is becoming a very poised and practical young woman. We also purchased a new step-up flute for her. She has needed one for a long time (about the last 2 years), but we didn’t just snap one up. We took our time and had her play several different flutes to see which one she liked best. I’m pleased that she decided on an Azumi. Some people might get down on me for that since the Azumis are a Japanese flute, but seriously if you haven’t heard one-don’t judge me. The American school of flutes are very light and bright sounding. The Japanese school of flutes are darker and deeper in tone. Frankly, they just sound so amazingly full and rich. These aren’t words I can use with the American school of flutes, although they are pretty. While we were flute shopping, the flute specialist who was helping us also let Ditty try out a $13,000 model. If you think there is no difference except for the price tag, you would be very wrong. That flute sounded so amazingly rich and, dare I say it, delicious that if money was not an object, I would have entertained serious thoughts about getting that one. Maybe she’ll consider becoming a concert flautist so we can get that one.

BooBoo is still taking guitar. Why, I’m not sure since he hates to practice. Apparently, he just likes playing – but not an electric guitar. He chose a new accoustic guitar, made by Fender and shaped like their Stratocaster model with the cutaway body and the inline head. I seriously wanted to ask ” So, who is this girl that you’re trying to impress?”, but I didn’t. I know you’re probably amazed, so am I. He also wants to try out for track and field this spring. He had a lot of fun at the Track & Field day that the High School boys’ track team held through community ed last spring. Hopefully, he will find his sport. I’m sure there will be something out there for him to enjoy. BooBoo will also be participating in our school musical this year, but not backstage as he usually does. This year, he has chosen to be one of the actors and will be an Apostle in our school production of Godspell Jr. It should be an interesting show. I remember singing some of the music when I was in grade school at my Catholic school. Of course, we also sang some of the music from Jesus Christ Superstar. Very 1970’s indeed!🙂

So, you may be wondering why this is “the electric edition”. Well, early this past Saturday morning, I experienced chest pains and DH brought me in to our local hospital emergency room. While I didn’t need defibrilation, they did hook up quite a few electrodes to me to monitor my heart. And because the enzyme that gets released if there is a problem with the heart takes 4-6 hours to occur in the bloodstream, they had me admitted to a hospital room for observation. In that room, they attached even more electrodes because their heart monitor uses different ones from the monitor in the E.R. I think I seriously had about a dozen of the little stickers on my chest & abdomen. If they had needed to defribrilate, I possibly would have lit up like a Christmas tree. Electro-Woman. Hmm, glad that didn’t happen. I’m 50, I don’t look good in spandex.

Another long update

Life has been very busy in this house. Also, I’m not of the generation who grew up with blogs and social media as an everyday part of life so updating this space seems difficult to me when I’m in the thick of life. So, I’m sorry for the long absence again. Here is all the news that’s fit to print:

April & May were busy with the usual end of the school year stuff. June brought Marching Band Madness to our usually laid back & tranquil summer plans. Ditty participated in the flute section for the first time (she could have participated last summer but I’m glad she didn’t). They had a week long sweat camp and then it was 2-3 parades per week for the rest of June. One parade got rescheduled because of rain, so that week had 4 parades, the rescheduled one on Tues, another on Thurs & Fri & Sat. So glad that’s done, none in July & just one more exhibition parade on Aug 2nd. They did earn some good marks and even received one Grand Champion recognition. I didn’t get to watch them perform at any of the parades, so I’m looking forward to watching on the 2nd. June also brought Driver’s Ed classes back to our schedule. Ditty now has her learner’s permit and needs to get 30 hours of behind the wheel in the next 6 months in order to take her test for a conditional driver’s license. Teens don’t get full driving privileges straight off anymore.

DH learned the importance of teaching your teen driver exactly what your “driving slang” means before you use it on them. Ditty’s first behind the wheel attempt with us was driving his truck over to Clearwater/Pleasant regional park. She was backing out of the driveway and he wanted her to turn more sharply onto the road so he said “crank it”. She applied the gas and we bagan to shoot across the road. I yelled “Stop!” and she applied the brakes, thankfully before we wound up in the neighbor’s ditch. DH asked her why she stepped on the gas and she replied “well, I thought that’s what you wanted me to do.” Teach them the meaning of your slang so you will live longer-just saying. Also, saying Crank It when you don’t give them a direction to turn in isn’t very helpful. Hard right or hard left would help a beginner more. Maybe this was why the eldest always wanted me in the vehicle with her. If that happens again, I really need to get some valium.

We brought BooBoo in to the doctor in June and we have finally received some answers to his issues. We now know that he has ADD, the inattentive type and he has now begun taking medication to help with his attention issues. This has also greatly improved his anxiety & depression. It really feels like we have our old Buddy Sunshine back again. He comes up the stairs with a spring in his step and no longer balks when we interrupt what he wants to do with a request to complete a chore.

July has been, well, interesting-let’s just leave it at interesting. The 4th brought the usual parade & 2 potlucks. A neighbor invited us over for fireworks and that was nice. I am getting a little tired now of picking up the debris from my yard. Apparently fireworks are for the whole month of July. Oh well, they are good neighbors the rest of the year. Speaking of neighbors, I think we finally have some new neighbors kitty corner across the street. There was a trailer there yesterday along with 2 large vehicles so one can hope that house is finally going to be someone’s home.

I finished writing the new Nature program for our Girl Scout day camp. 2nd grade learns about mammals, 3rd grade learns about bugs & butterflies, 4th grade learns about birds, 5th learns about trees (and has the coolest craft), 6th learns about reptiles & amphibians & fish, and 7th learns about wildflowers. 2nd & 3rd don’t do a nature craft, they have games instead. 4th & up do a craft that relates to what they are learning about: Bird feeders, Pine cone boxes, Toad homes & Wildflower presses. The girls seemed to enjoy their time in Nature this year, especially their nature hike/exploration day. I think it was the fact that they had permission to look & touch & observe their surroundings that captivated them. The 6th grade girls loved going out to catch frogs & toads. We learned that we have a lot of Leopard frogs in our day camp area. We also found a baby Great Plains toad. Maybe next year we’ll have to catch some insects too and see how the frogs and toads catch their meal. (This thought is due to the Cope’s Gray treefrog that was clinging to our deck door last night. I watched it crawl, looked like an Army crawl, up the side of the door and then leap at a bug that it ate.)

July also brought 2 more visitations/funerals. My last uncle on my dad’s side passed away in June, then the father of a friend’s husband passed away in early July and another friend’s husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle crash this past weekend. It has been a mournful month. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace.

I am looking forward to enjoying our final 5 weeks of summer vacation. BooBoo wants to have the guys over for a fire and hot dogs soon. Ditty has swim team practices starting up again in August. We still need to update her flute and she wants to start learning the saxophone as well.

Time to get BooBoo started on his guitar practice. Hope your summer is going well.

MPO (missing, presumed overwhelmed)

Wow! Have I really not posted a single update since last August? Well, the blog doesn’t lie. I certainly have been missing from this space for a long time. I’ll try to give you a concise update of the past several months.

Since the job loss last August, I was unemployed for a total of 6 weeks. That’s a very short time based on what some of my friends have experienced in their own lives. I took a job with an international provider of fulfillment services in October 2013. I was taking inbound customer service calls for a major sweepstakes company. I say was, because in mid-January, I became ill and then in February I began having dizzy spells again. I was diagnosed with Menier’s way back when I was about 22 years old, so dizzy spells are nothing new to me. In March, I had a dizzy spell at work on a Friday morning. The following Monday, I woke up at 1 a.m. with a dizzy spell and just thinking about going in to work the night before had triggered an episode that ultimately lasted about 9 hours. I knew that I needed to quit my job. My health wasn’t going to rebound until I did. So at 1:30 that Monday morning, I spoke with DH and broke the news. He took it well, saying “You have to do what you have to do.”. I knew he was disappointed, but that he understood the spells were beyond my control.

Understand that I have held several jobs since being diagnosed and the only common ground this job held with the one other job that I had quit due to dizzy spells was that both companies treated their employees like machines. The first company had unachievable standards for productivity. And I really mean that. We were expected to complete our assignments in 1 hour and then get the next hour’s work from our supervisor. No allowance for the time it took to stand in line with the rest of your shift waiting your turn for work was given. No allowance for the needed time to organize the work or pull the correct files was given either. Everyone (yes, we talked on breaks & lunches) was continually being given verbal or written warnings that they had better bring up their productivity or risk being terminated from employment. Ridiculous!

My recent past employer also maintained an atmosphere that made us feel like we were less than human. The 2 days that I was legitimately ill in January dropped my attendance rating from a 5 (highest given) to a 1 (lowest given without termination). The company HR department and my supervisor had both firmly stated that if we were ill, because we are a large call center, do not come in to work because it would just make more people ill and increase workloads for those not ill. And yet, they dock us for not coming in when we are sick. Yes, that rating of 1 on my attendance meant that although I had achieved the 25 cent/hour bonus pay for the 3 months prior, I was not eligible for that bonus for the month of January-due to my “poor” attendance. I was also informed that even if I had gone to the doctor and received a note stating that I was indeed ill, the note would not have taken effect until the day after I received it. I’m sorry, am I supposed to request that my cold/flu should give me 24 hours notice before taking me out? How absurd! Well the stress this brought on (and other issues there) triggered some lasting episodes of dizzy spells through February, culminating in the March episodes. This forced me to rethink my employment there and I went in the following Tuesday morning and told them I needed to quit and that I was sorry but I wouldn’t be able to give them the customary two weeks notice due to the unpredictable nature of the dizzy spells. I was kind. I blamed my illness, not the company, but I had to get out of there. Since leaving, I have had one full-fledged dizzy spell and many close calls, probably due to residual stress. I am praying that the month of April sees my return to good health.

During this time, last August, I also returned to being a catechist for a group of twelve 9th grade boys. You see, I can handle stress just fine🙂 ! I’ve always enjoyed teaching and I do enjoy teaching this group of guys as well. I was informed (frequently!) that this group was difficult to work with and would try my patience. Good grief, they’re just boys! And unfortunately, the methodology used to teach them (lessons on video) does not work well with the learning style of boys. Nor does it impress upon them the need for a deep faith relationship with God. I understand why this method is being used. it is used because, unfortunately, we can not count on getting volunteers to step forward and teach who are faithfully Catholic. How sad that there were so many years in the formation of today’s adults where the beauty of our Catholic faith was not taught to us and so very few of us realized that we had an unfulfilled yearning for God and looked for that beauty later on in our lives. The early mistakes made in the implementation of Vatican II cost our churches dearly. I am grateful for the nudges that made me look deeper and deeper into my Catholic faith and it’s customs & rituals. Those nudges helped me to realize the beauty that lies within those sacred ceremonies. Thanks be to God!

Teaching the boys has been very rewarding. They have been open to trying new forms of prayer. They seem to have enjoyed some of our non-scripted discussions. I even brought in dessert as a treat for our last class before spring break and, true to their teenage years, they were quite enthusiastic about that as well. I’m thinking about trying the sung version of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with them for two reasons: 1: I’ll bet no one has ever taught them the beauty of the chaplet and 2: Not one of them is in band (Ditty is and I never saw any of them at the concerts which are required attendance for band students) so they must have taken choir (9th grade is required to take one year of music class for high school graduation). Since I therefore have singers in my class, I say “Let’s get them singing!”. For their own comfort however, we will go down to the chapel for this part of the lesson so that they don’t have to sing (and risk being heard) by the other 9th grade boys class which meets across the hall from our room. Yes, I do take their feelings into account and I realize that they might not be ready yet to stand strong and proud in front of their peers as followers of Christ.

We had a nice Thanksgiving and a lovely Christmas. The kids enjoyed the break from school and I wished that I would have had more time off with them. (Wish granted, I guess.)

DH & I had a nice time at the ice fishing tournament in late January with our friends. Although that was when I suspected the dizzy spells were coming on. Kavanaugh’s was a nice time away for us.

We went to Florida this year for the kid’s spring break and all 5 of us were able to go making this the first real, total family vacation we have taken in about 6 or so years. It was a nice time even if it was a bit cold down there. And here’s a tip, if you’re looking for a really good seafood dinner: Go to George & Wendy’s Seafood Grille on Sanibel Island. They have the best fresh seafood items I have ever tasted!

Well, that brings you up to date, more or less on where my life is. I hope & pray your life is going well and that you enjoy a long life and happiness as well.

Cha. . . Cha. . . Changes

As of Tuesday, my life will be headed in a different direction. I was informed, after almost 4 years, that my flexible work schedule that was begun at my previous boss’ request “no longer works” for my current boss and I was being let go. Interestingly, this happened 2-3 weeks after I mentioned to him that it will be great when school starts because my kids will both be riding an early bus and I will be able to arrive at the earlier start time from there on out.

Okay, enough of the sour grapes. Time to “turn and face the strange changes”.

Since the last time I posted, here’s what has been going on:

Ditty’s Math & Science Field Day did not happen. She didn’t receive any rsvp’s from the troop leaders of the younger Girl Scouts, so we cancelled the event. Two of the leaders of two Junior Girl Scout troops were shocked and appalled by this and agreed to get their troops together for an evening Math & Science event so that Ditty could still earn her Silver Award. Bless their loyal hearts! Ditty will meet with their girls in early September.

The baseball tournament was interesting, not my cup of tea, but interesting none the less. We didn’t make it back to Cindy’s (I’m bummed), but we did have a very nice time at the Living History Farms in Urbandale (a suburb of Des Moines).

When we got back, we participated in our town’s festival parade the following Saturday. The week after that was the local rodeo. Yes, it’s the Bulls & Broncs kind even though we’re not out west. BooBoo’s Boy Scout troop sold popcorn & other items there and we had our turn in concessions that Saturday. At least our night was dry, the other two nights there was rain. At some point late Friday night, we also had strong winds that damaged the rodeo grounds and mangled the old bleachers. The committee got the grounds cleaned up and temporary bleachers were rented so the show could go on Saturday night. The following weekend BooBoo & I went camping with friends up north. This was another of those double scheduled weekends so DH & Ditty went to their blacksmithing class at Fort Snelling instead. BooBoo and I got help setting up the tent. Not because I can’t set one up but because the wind was so strong that day that it took 3-4 people holding down the tent in order to get it staked & tied down properly. No damage occurred and the wind did die down that evening, but what a pain. Rain would have been worse though so we counted our blessings and made do. And so endeth June.

July brought the usual pilgrimage to St. Joe for parade & potlucks on the 4th. The following week brought Emma’s bridal shower on Tuesday night and their wedding (& accompanying parties) that weekend. It was a beautiful wedding and they are such a happy couple. The following week was spent at Girl Scout day camp. This was my final year in Outdoor Specialty Skills, next year I will be doing the Nature program. I’m currently in the process of writing an entirely new Nature program that will include progression in activities and allow the girls to learn about different areas within Nature each year. No more boring lectures about the reproductive system of mussels! Our day camp begins with 2nd grade girls and each grade up through 7th gets the Nature program, so 2nd grade will be all about Mammals, 3rd grade will learn about Minibeasts (aka bugs, spiders & butterflies), 4th grade will learn about Trees (& how to identify them), 5th grade will learn about Birds (both songbirds & raptors), 6th grade will learn about Amphibians, Fish & Reptiles (but not snakes-I just can’t do snakes), 7th grade will learn about Wildflowers and make flower presses. 7th grade will have a very full program time since I only get them once and the other grades three times, but it will be so fun to help them learn about all the different areas as they grow up. And good, hands-on learning complete with nature “hikes” (really more of a walk since camp isn’t that big). I’m so excited (!) but I’ve gushed on long enough.

The end of July brought us back to Duluth for the Tall Ships Festival. Very nice in spite of the rain, although the rain did find us in the entryway of a place called The Rustic Olive. It’s a specialty store that carries many types of imported olive oils and also balsamic vinegars. I’d recommend against tasting the olive oils. This store doesn’t have you dip bread in them, you actually drink about a tablespoon of each oil you agree to taste. That wasn’t my cup of tea either, but I was trying to be polite. I did taste the balsamic vinegars as well. Partly to counteract the oil I just drank and partly because they actually tasted good. I ended up buying a blueberry, a tangerine, a cinnamon & a dark chocolate in the vinegars section. Those four, 200 ml bottles cost $32.00. Not an expense you’d want to incur on a regular basis. We’ve had the blueberry as a vinaigrette with salad and cooked green beans. It was lovely. Haven’t opened the others but I’m looking forward to having the dark chocolate one with fruit.

The beginning of August brought the soccer season to a close for Ditty & BooBoo. Both of their teams took 3rd place out of 4 teams in each section. Enrollment in the program is down across the older age groups due to a “new” sport being offered, lacrosse. Lacrosse as a sport has been around for a long time, but in our area it has only been offered in the past two years. The following week brought the unofficial beginning of the high school swim season. Ditty met the captains and her teammates at “Captains Practices” that week and real practice began the following week. She will be swimming JV (junior varsity) at the meets, but is looking forward to improving her times and eventually getting to swim varsity at the meets. We all attended the annual pig roast at my friend’s house the third weekend of August. The following week brought our Girl Scout troop to the State Fair as volunteers at the Little Farm Hands booth. We worked the first 2 days of the fair and I’m glad we didn’t work any farther into the week because the weather here has been more like Florida than the great white north. We’ve had an extremely hot & humid week this past week. The National Weather Service has actually issued heat advisories due to the incredibly high (and dangerous) heat indexes. We’ve never enjoyed our air conditioner so thoroughly. Both kids had open house at their respective schools last night and we will be staying home this weekend and relaxing.

I need to get a working printer so that I can update my resume. Until then, I’m cleaning our house and trying to keep up with the produce coming out of our straw bale garden. In case you’re wondering, I’ve used or given away quite a bit of zucchini and summer squash. I only planted one of each, so if anyone knows how to plant just a half of a plant, let me know. I’m sure you could make $millions$ on that idea. I’m also losing the battle of the cucumbers. I should have brought my extras (they fill a crisper drawer by themselves) to BooBoo’s open house since I’m the volunteer coordinator for his school. “Volunteer and for each area you help in you get a free cucumber”. Somehow, I think they’d be laughing at that one. I certainly would.

Well, I’ll get the schedule updated and then it’s off to clean the grout on my bathrooms’ tiled floors. Hey, it dull work but I’m making great progress in knocking things off the list.

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