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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OAM cooking and the occasional pity party

Or maybe it’s Once A Month posting, I’m not sure.

This year seems to be really strange in that I can’t seem to get my schedule together. I’ve double booked us for two weekends this summer and by virtue of a wedding in August, we may be double booked for a third time. I can’t remember ever being this disorganized, not for a very long time-like since before kids! It bugs me. I don’t have our calendar straight. I don’t have a list of what’s in my freezer. And the de-crapification of the extra room has ground to a complete halt. Add in that I can’t seem to get a blog post done but once a month, and this is really excessive disorganization. For me. What you do or do not organize is strictly up to you. It really doesn’t bother me at all if others post sporadically on their blogs because that is their space and their life.

Okay, I’ll quit moaning and get on with the news.

Ditty has been enjoying competetive swimming. We signed her up for a local swim club last season and near the middle of that season she said, “I’ve finally found my sport!”. This from the girl who said “Soccer is my life!”. Okay, yes she is a middle schooler and they do change emotions like most people change underwear, but she is generally very consistent. This is my child who would get visibly upset when the preschool teacher rearranged the classroom. So consistent is probably an understatement. I’m glad she enjoys swimming and I enjoy watching her at meets.

This week, we had Court of Awards/Honor for both Ditty & BooBoo. On the same night! DH went with BooBoo to his Boy Scout Court of Honor and (after taking her to her soccer game) I went with Ditty to the tail end of her Court of Awards for Girl Scouts.

This Monday, both Ditty & BooBoo will be participating in the annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony to honor our fallen veterans. This is something we do each year because, as a fb friend posted, it’s Memorial Day not National Barbeque Day! We are trying to raise our kids to have respect for those people who gave their lives for their country and also for those who served their country whether they are still living or have died. It’s important to us to recognize that others have sacrificed so that we can enjoy our freedoms. This is especially important now that we have a government seeking to abolish those freedoms.

On Wednesday, we will have a bridging ceremony for our Girl Scout Service Unit. So far, about 8 or 9 of the troops have rsvp’d but it will still be a beautiful ceremony. Next Thursday, we will enjoy a supper and awards ceremony honoring our graduating 8th grade class of which Ditty is a student. Then on Friday, BooBoo will participate in his final Track & Field day at school. This is a day of outdoor fun for the K-5th grade students at our school. They are placed in teams and compete in fun events in the morning session, then after a picnic lunch, they have organized games by grade level in the afternoon. On Saturday, Ditty will welcome K-3rd grade Girl Scouts for a Math & Science day in the park. This is her Silver Award project and I pray for good weather because she really needs to complete this project before September. After the field day, she has her 8th grade Graduation Mass at church followed by a reception in the Parish Hall and a party at the home of one of her classmates. Saturday is also DH & my 17th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, because it is one of the weekends we are double booked, he will be camping with BooBoo and a group of our friends. I guess when I told my MIL that it didn’t matter what weekend they celebrated our anniversary all those years ago, I never really expected that he and I would be apart on the actual anniversary. Well, guess I’d better buck up and make the best of it.

Ditty is done with school this coming Friday, May 31st (a bonus for making it through the middle school years, I think). BooBoo will be done the following Wednesday and the next day, we head to DesMoines to watch our nephew & godson play in a baseball tournament. I really feel for him & his parents. Apparently the tournament organizers don’t look too carefully into what hotel(s) they book the teams and chaperones. I checked out the one my SIL said they would be in and it didn’t rate too highly with travelers on TripAdivsor. I realize those reviews are subjective and reviewers could just have a chip on their shoulder, but even allowing for this, that hotel wasn’t up to moderate standards. We’ll be camping about 10-15 minutes away from the playing fields. And one of the days that weekend, we will be heading back to Cindy’s. It’s a local mom & pop restaurant that we stumbled across on our way back from Atchison KS last spring. I am so looking forward to stopping for lunch, or even breakfast there! And since I’m not a morning person, this is high praise indeed.

I’ll try to get some more pictures posted soon. Our hummingbirds are back and I purchase a forsythia bush this spring that DH put in the ground yesterday before the school choir concert. I’ve wanted one of these for years and finally purchased it. He also planted the shrub rose I received as a thank you gift this spring for being one of the first 60 Virtus facilitators trained in our Archdiocese eight years ago and staying with the program all that time. I do believe that many of us in that group are still going strong and I feel that we have made a positive impact in the ongoing fight to protect children.

We have also begun a straw bale garden. Yeah, I know, who would want to grow bales of straw? But that’s not what it is, it is gardening using a bale of straw as your raised bed. Oh, so now you’re curious 🙂 Here’s a link to the author’s website so you can check it out and see if you’d like to garden practically weed-free too: Straw Bale Gardens.

It’s time to get back to what I need to get done today. Have a safe and blessed Memorial Day weekend.

Dear Mother Nature

Just because white is a crayon color in the box, it does not make white a real color.

White is the absence of color.

So stop it with the snow already!

Promised Pictures

Too late for a Wordless Wednesday and let’s face facts, I could never be wordless anyway. I’ll just call this A Pictorially Perfect Thursday instead.

The raindrop was held so perfectly by this plant, it looked like a diamond.

Promised Pictures

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The chili I made this winter, cooling on the deck in back of our house.

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The cream puffs & minestrone I made for the feast of St. Joseph.

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Three of our NutterButter rabbits are trying to make an escape 🙂

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The remains of the cross shaped carrot cake.

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The two dozen eggs we dyed for Easter. I’m thinking there’s lots of egg & potato salad in our future.

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Poverty-What it truly is & isn’t

What is poverty?

Most people would say that poverty is when you don’t have enough money to buy the things you want, or buy the things you need.  But I’ve known many families who can not buy all the things we think we need in today’s world.  Those families had great love and a wealth of creativity.  They were close and helped each other get through life’s little troubles.  They were together and there for each other and that was what mattered.  I never really thought of them as being poor.

Fast forward now to the past few months.

I’ve been thinking a lot about family, especially with the deaths of two uncles and an aunt in the past 8 months.  I’ve never really paid much attention to my cousins.  I mean they’ve always been there and we talk from time to time and get together for life’s milestones.  Yet I’ve never really appreciated the vast family connections that have graced my life.

You see, I have 36 first cousins.  Three dozen, not counting their spouses and their children.  In today’s world, that is an incredibly large family connection.  My own children, on the other hand, have only 12 first cousins and two of those, they have never even met.

That, dear readers, is true poverty!

My cousins have helped me and been there for me through so many of life’s bad times.  We’re family and we help each other.  Even when we can’t be together physically, we are there for each other in spirit, praying for each other. 

My children won’t have that vast built-in support system, and my nieces & nephews have even fewer.  All because today’s culture believes in travelling light.  Our culture today believes in cutting ties with the family early and not getting tied down with family obligations.  So we have fewer children, or none at all.  We say things about overpopulation and saving enough space for future generations.  We rob our children of the support network they will need in the future so that we can give them all the things money can buy.  We don’t calculate the cost because family is one of those intangible items.  You don’t realize the treasure you’ve lost, given away or abandoned to be more precise, until it’s too late.

That is true poverty and we are a very poor nation.

Sometimes I wonder

Why some people are loyal beyond measure while others show no loyalty to anyone outside their family and sometimes not even then.

Why some people wouldn’t think about lying, or would dismiss the idea, and will admit their mistakes while others can’t be trusted to tell the truth even when they would suffer no consequences from it.

Why some people have a moral code that will not allow them to dismiss their responsibilities while others walk away from their responsiblities without a backward glance.

How did they lose their sense of right and wrong?  And why don’t they care enough to change?

I guess all this came up from an issue with one of the costumes in the play my kids’ are involved with.  Someone cut the neckline of a costume.  I don’t know who.  I’ve been told that “they’ve got that figured out”.  The thing is, at one point I was the one accused of either cutting it or helping to hide that it had been cut.  I did neither of those things and yet no apology for accusing me has been given.

Anyone who truly knows me, and I thought there were several involved with this production, would never believe I would do anything of the sort.  I would never take a scissors to a costume with the intent of destroying it.  I would never help someone hide their deed either.

I’m really disappointed in the way that this incident has been handled.  I won’t be volunteering again next year.  My daughter who enjoys acting in these productions will have graduated from the school and my son will be encouraged to try chess club or something.  I simply don’t want to be there anymore.  I’ll finish out my commitment this year, but no more.  There really is no joy left in this for me.

Please pray for . . .

Carol and Teri and Evelyn.

Carol has been diagnosed with cancer.  The doctors believe they got all of it, but she may not be returning to work the rest of this school year.  Carol is a much loved science teacher for the middle school grades at the catholic school my children attend.  The middle schoolers enjoy all the “fun” stuff they get to do in her class.  She enjoys teaching them to explore using the scientific method.

Teri has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She is in the midst of round 2 of her chemotherapy.  The doctors also believe they removed all of the cancer.  Teri is a family friend and a very outgoing person.  If there is a family in our school who does not know her, it’s only because she hasn’t seen them at a school event.

Evelyn was born last Friday with Down’s Syndrome.  Her parents fought bravely against a doctor who kept pushing her mother to abort her.  24 hours after Evelyn’s birth, she was diagnosed with a condition that mimics leukemia and requires much of the same treatment.  Evelyn has received 3 sessions of chemotherapy in her first week of life.  This condition is only present in some Down’s babies.  I’ve been keeping up with Evelyn’s CaringBridge site and can honestly say that she is a beautiful baby.  Her parents have their other children in our school and are active members of our parish.

Please keep these people in your prayers.

Thank you.

Life is crazy

So, I have been absent again from this space.  Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever slow down enough to continue this blog as it should be.

Our life has been busy here with the play and my efforts to help with costuming the 114 little people in the cast.  This year, I think we (Sara & I) have about 6 people, including ourselves, working on costumes.  It seems like it should be more and maybe there are more that I don’t know about.  This year just seems harder.  Harder to get the information we need to make the right costume choices in the first place and harder to get into the right mind set to get the job done at all.  Part of the problem seems to be a lack of people who still know how to sew and are willing to do that on a volunteer basis.

I think it may boil down to me needing to say no to some of the extra stuff that I do.  I think it’s time to slow down the busy-ness of my life and just enjoy being in the moment.

It’s time to say no to being the service unit treasurer for our Girl Scout service unit.  I haven’t had time to do this job properly for some time now and I’m sure that there is someone in our service unit who can do this job.  i’m not sure what other volunteer stuff I can cut right now, but this one has to go.

It’s time to say no to busy work.  Those projects that I come up with to fill time that doesn’t need filling.  Like cutting out an apron pattern to sew for the play when we don’t need one.  The pieces are staring me in the face, but I’m not sewing this up until other things get done.  And maybe I’ll just sew it up for myself  then instead.

It’s time to declutter our living space.  We have too much stuff.  Our house is the right size for us and I don’t see us moving into anything else, either bigger or smaller, any time soon so it’s time to rid ourselves of what we no longer need, want or use.  I’m sure that there are charities who can use these things to make money for themselves via resale and that is where they need to go.

It’s time to get serious about getting rid of my excess weight.  It isn’t helping me by keeping it on and it is hurting other aspects of my life and my life expectancy.  It has got to go.  Today I have made a start-again.  Kind of like when I quit smoking almost 21 years ago, I just had to keep quitting until the quitting stuck; I will have to keep beginning the 17 Day diet until the formula sticks.  Today I had 6 oz of Greek yogurt with 1 Truvia packet and a cup of coffee with creamer for breakfast.  Not exactly the perfect 17 Day Diet breakfast, but closer than I was yesterday.

It’s time to put our house first on the to do list.  That means making sure that I have finished what needs to be finished here before going to another project outside of the home.  Pretty soon I will get called back to work for the spring and I need to have this space clean and in proper order before that happens or things might continue to slip.

It’s time to stop putting my family second to other people’s wants, or what they think are their needs, because I’ve accomodated their wants in the past and they just seem to want more and more.  Enough!  My family deserves my best effort and that is where my efforts will go.

It’s time to enjoy life without the craziness of busy-ness.

Enjoy life.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 950 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The above was provided by those Stats monkeys.  My comments:  950 hits from 62 countries around the world?  Wow, a Big thank you to my loyal followers (all 6 of you).   And thank you to all the spammers who helped my little blog reach that very large number.  I promise to do my best and post more frequently in 2013.  There are so many things going on that I haven’t had time to put them in the blog yet.  And I have pictures that I need to get off my camera and into a post too.

Happy New Year to one & all.

C.S. Lewis & Me

I see that I’ve been silent on here for a month.  And what a month it has been.

I took quite a beating on FB with my status update stating my reason for my vote in support of the marriage amendment.  I expected to get some heat.  I was not prepared for a relative’s desire to pick a fight with me, publicly on FB or that person’s desire to thoroughly demean & degrade anyone who held a view different from their own.  That hurt.  What hurt even more though was the total silence from people that I knew who agreed with my view.  I was attempting to help the relative understand my reason for my view while not engaging in the argument this person so desperately seemed to want and no one responded in support.  No supportive comment, not even a “like” on my original post or my follow-up defensive comments.  Nothing.

Complete and utter silence.

And pain.

The pain of being abandoned by everyone I knew.

I don’t “friend” people lightly on FB.  I only send and accept requests from people I actually know and interact with in the real world.  I assume, or did in the past, that these people actually wanted to know me better.  Now I question that assumption.  I’m not sure how I want to proceed from here.  I suppose I’ll figure that out in time.  Just not now.

After that post and election night, I went to our little, local bookstore.  As I was browsing the shelves, I came across The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  Chapter 8 near the end paints a very vivid picture of exactly how I felt about my FB experience.

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood.  Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

I’ve been curled up in pain, brought to tears over and over by this earthly abandonment.  I still believe in God.  I still believe in Jesus Christ, His Son.  I still believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I still believe. 

And I will still obey.

Thank you Mr. Lewis.  For having the words I would need, even before I was born and would need them.  May your soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

I’ve reset the marker in my Sunday missal as well.  This coming Sunday marks the First Sunday of Advent, Year C.  The caption under the picture in my missal reads; “Pray that you have the strength to escape . . . and to stand before the Son of Man.”  The theme for this Sunday is stated as: “By your perseverance (patient endurance) you will secure your lives. Luke 21:19”.  It’s like balm on my soul.

Heading to Mass today and adoration.

May your day be one of blessed peace.

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Perfectly Preserved In Perpetuity

Friends, Romans, Countrymen

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Quotes:

"If you are what you should be you will set the whole world on fire."
St. Catherine of Sienna

I finally understand

"Among those around you, apostolic soul, you are the stone fallen into the lake. With your word and your example, you produce a first circle, and it another, and another, and another, wider each time. Now do you understand the greatness of your mission?" St. Josemarie Escriva: The Way