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.

Life Update

Well, I haven’t posted in awhile so we’ve got some ground to cover.

Last week Ditty, BooBoo & I were at Girl Scout Daycamp.  BooBoo gets to come along because the daycamp director doesn’t believe her volunteers should have to pay for babysitting when they are giving their time to her for free.  So BooBoo plays with the other Tag-A-Longs (their unit name and a great GS cookie flavor) and roams around camp finding all sorts of adventures, weird looking bugs, etc.  One year, he decided he was Harry Potter and he had various versions of the Nimbus 2000 (large sticks) hewould ride on.  That’s a year I wish I could freeze and replay the way little kids watch the same movie over & over.  He was nicknamed the “Camp Wizard”.

We had a great time and are sad that our little “Brigadoon” is once again done for another year.

During that week, that Monday evening to be precise, Ditty & I came home to discover that DH & BooBoo had gone shopping.  Or perhaps a better phrase would be “gone buying”.  We are now the proud (?) owners of a used pop-up tent camper.  DH & I had been watching craigslist and were looking to get a nice used pop-up camper, but I had assumed that I would be able to at least look at photos online before we bought one.  I also assumed that “we” had stopped looking for awhile since I was going to be busy that week.  Silly me. 

This one came stocked with all the dishes and appliances the seller had used in the camper and the indoor/outdoor carpet they had used as a ground cover in front of the camper.  If you’re a non-camper, you’re probably thinking “That’s great!”.  Personally, I’d like to know why they parted with everything.  In other words, where did that mouse they might have found get in?  I’ll be thoroughly shampooing all of the upholstery later today and cleaning every knook & cranny of the camper.  I will also be disposing of much of the dishes, etc. that they so graciously gave us.  The “Free” box will be at the end of the driveway by tomorrow morning.  I just don’t want to deal with their stuff and we’ve already replaced the stained indoor/outdoor carpet with one of those woven plastic camp mats from Walmart.

Soccer tournaments start up this coming week for Ditty & BooBoo.  Ditty has possibly 3 nights of tournaments; Monday, Thursday & Friday.  BooBoo has two nights; Tuesday & Saturday.  Guess I can always go out for coffee Wednesday night, since I’ll have nothing to do (insert laughter here).  BooBoo’s team won their first game ever last Tuesday night.  They had tied one game previously.  That puts them in last place in their four team league this season.  Ditty’s team has done much better, they’ve lost 2, tied 2 and won 5.  The tenth game was cancelled due to extreme heat.  Not a bad record for the year.  We’ll see how they do in tournament play.

We camped again at St Croix State Park mid month with DH’s sister, brother-in-law & their family.  It was great fun and very laid back.  We spent about two and a half hours on the river in canoes & kayaks, some of which was spent on the sand bars just wading & swimming.

Prior to leaving for that trip, we found these guys (three of them) sleeping in the big tree in our front yard.

Sorry about the bad shot.  It’s hard to get a good picture when they were in the middle of all those leaves.  Of course, they had to go, one way or another, since raccoons can carry rabies.  Happily for DH, the kids and the raccoons; they were no longer in our tree when we got home the following Sunday.

We’ve got some more camping planned for this summer, but first it’s time to tackle that camper.  Wish me luck.

How to tell . . .

That your children are growing up . . .

 

It’s now the bottom part of your tree that is sparsely decorated.

Maybe I shouldn’t let them decorate unsupervised.  Oh well, at least Ditty remembered to sing the O Antiphon on Saturday night.  I forgot (and they didn’t remind me) on Sunday.  Yes, that probably is their commentary on my singing voice, but since the psalm says make a joyful noise I still say God is okay with my singing and anyone else can just smile and don their earplugs.

How to tell that someone didn’t spend enough time praying the rosary . . .

Women “priests”.  The Star Tribune ran a column in their B section on Dec 11th front page titled, Female priests push Catholic boundaries.  If these women who claim to be ordained priests had spent more time on their knees praying the rosary, I think they would have realized that they were not being “called” to the priesthood but instead being led astray by both Satan and our society’s views about women.  One of the promises Mary makes to those who devoutly and regularly pray the rosary is to protect them from heresy.

And now for today’s muse or  How to tell when you and someone else are kindred spirits . . .

“I love being a writer.  What I can’t stand is the paperwork.”  Peter De Vries

I feel the same way about housework.

Have a great week.

Hello again

Yes, I promise, I am still alive.  Busy but alive.  I promised pictures of BooBoo’s Halloween costume.  Here they are:

I used the hood pattern from the original Matthias’ Oversized Monk’s Robe (aka the poncho).  If I had realized that the hood wouldn’t quite cover his neck, I would have adjusted that as well.  Yes, I do have friends who think I’m a perfectionist.  It’s okay, you’re in good company.

The ball of leftover yarn against one of my smaller casserole dishes.  This particular one made a great candy dish when we hosted the August, September & October birthdays of DH’s family at our house.  Mind you, it was a candy dish for 20 people.  And btw, isn’t it a beautiful casserole dish.  I bought it at the local Renaissance Festival from a mom & pop company called Schroeder Pottery.  They came to the festival from Iowa.

BooBoo seated in his costume.  That grin was worth all that stockinette stitch.  I had to pull up the bottom about 6 inches to even see his feet.  It’s oversized enough to last him at least a couple of years.  He grew 3/4 of an inch in the past month so my time estimate may be wishful thinking.

And I am soooo not knitting next year’s costume!  I forget what he said he wanted to be, but I will sew it and leave my knitting time for better things.

The Hairy Hot Pink leg warmers were also a success.  A friend had asked me to knit them as a Christmas gag gift for her brother.  Seems he had made a comment about how if leg warmers were coming back in style, that maybe she could hold out hope that fuschia (the color) would come back in style too.  Her bridesmaids dresses were fuschia.  So I found a nice deep hot pink yarn and a similar shade in Fun Fur and knit two striped leg warmers for her.  I’ll have to check my camera to see if I took pictures of the leg warmers.

Edited to add:  My quote disappeared so I’ll have to try it again.  So sorry for the flub.  Also, no pics of the leg warmers.  That is both bad & good-kind of glad no one else will see them.

“Ours is the age that is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to.”  H. Mumford Jones

I agree.  What do you think?

Just about time

I updated the header because in just 2 weeks we will be in Advent again.  It seems to have come so quickly this year.

The header photo is the wreath in 2009.  And the bit of table that can be seen is our old table which now resides in my eldest daughter’s apartment.  I really need to update photos.

Just wanted to let you know about a great resource for teaching the new Mass responses to your kids.  Holy Heroes website had a CD of Best-Loved Catholic Prayers including Daily Prayers and Prayers of the Mass with the new Mass responses.  It’s a wonderful way to learn the new reponses together.  Their website is www.holyheroes.com .  They also have an Advent Jesse Tree family activity video, Way of the Cross CD, CD’s of each set of Rosary Mysteries, Coloring books for the Rosary & Way of the Cross, and several CD’s with stories of certain saints and blesseds.  Holy Heroes also offers a free one week summer VBS you can do at home with your kids as well as free Advent and Lenten adventures.  Their website is well worth a look.

More than the usual busyness

“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.”  Aldous Huxley

Wish someone would have bothered to tell me sooner.  But seriously, sorry for the two week absence.  Life did get overly busy and there simply wasn’t enought time for writing.  I did get quite a bit done, however.

1.  Moved the oldest (age 25) out of our house and into an apartment in another city (another college town but not her college town-thank God).  She seems to be adjusting well.  I’m glad.  I’m also glad to have my homelife back on an even keel.  Okay, we’re actually just trying to get the keel even again, but we’ll get there.

2.  Completed two more Virtus sessions.

3.  Finished BooBoo’s knit Matthias’ Oversized Monk’s Robe so BooBoo can be Matthias from the original Redwall book for Halloween.  Ditty has now decided that she does want to dress up and go trick or treating for Halloween.  She announced it at supper last night and even my husband said “What!  You’ve decided that now and there’s only a week to go!”.  Bless his heart.  She knows that I will not be making a new costume for her this year.  Not on that short notice.

4.  Shampooed the carpet in the bedroom formerly used by the oldest.  Almost wish I had taken a before picture along with the after picture, but you would have been seriously grossed out.  Suffice to say that I changed the water in the machine about 16 times.  It only has a small water tank, but that number even makes me gag.  The rest of the carpets will soon be seeing their opportunity with my still relatively new carpet cleaning machine.  I’m looking forward to really clean carpets this winter.  And keeping them that way!

5.  Began our rounds of knowledge bowl meets last Monday with a meet at St. John’s Prep.  The other 7th & 8th grade team from our school placed 3rd.  That was a nice start to the season.

6.  Certainly not the least important, just the most recent event.  We celebrated my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend.  About 6 or 7 years ago, we could barely hope to make it this far.  My mother-in-law had been diagnosed with leukemia and had come out of remission twice, each time in half the time of the time before.  We hoped and prayed that we would be able to celebrate this milestone anniversary with them.  We are very grateful to still have both of them with us for however long God will allow.  A hotel stay on Friday night and the kids enjoying the waterpark along with Mass on Saturday night and dinner with their closest relatives and friends made for a beautiful weekend.

7.  And lastly, along with all of the miscellaneous busyness (knowledge bowl, scouts, etc.), I got to spend all day yesterday in my pajamas.  Doesn’t sound like much, but there are just days where you need to unwind, relax and not worry about how you’re dressed.  Generally DH complains when I do this.  He doesn’t understand why anyone would want to do this instead of getting up and seizing the day.  But he didn’t complain, the kids got dressed and I had a lovely day just reading and knitting.  I did make brunch and supper for them and didn’t skimp on the cooking.  Maybe that helped, or maybe it was the 15 years we’ve been married that has made him finally able to shrug his shoulders and let it go.  What ever it is, I’m happy.

Photos will be forthcoming on the costume and my next little knitting project as soon as I can carve out some more time and download them from the camera.

Enjoy the beautiful autumn weather.  I need apples . . . and pumpkins.  Time to get to the local orchard.

Yellowstone, Part 3 (with bears)

I know, this is beginning to bring back memories of the sequels that never end.  But I promise, it’s worth it. 

Gibbon Falls.

Part of the view along the Norris Geyser Basin.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

And the osprey nest we saw while there.  One of the parents had just brought food back to the chicks in this photo.

Yellowstone Lake on the east side of the park.  The water was colder than Lake Superior when we were there.  How do I know?  Because DH dared Ditty and BooBoo to wade out to a rock about 2 feet from shore.  Ditty then dared him to join them or be called a chicken.  Yes, he went out there too, then told me how cold it was.  I wasn’t about to go wading in any lake backed by a snow covered mountain.

More elk.  These beauties were the reason trails were closed to tourists in West Thumb while we were there.

Gee Frenchy, you keep complaining about the snow & the cold.  How deep was it?  Well, the top of this snowbank is taller than BooBoo & almost as tall as Ditty.  She’s 5’2″ at this time.  What a kick in the summer vacation.

Your sneak peak at this year’s Christmas card.  Yes, we do have a shot where BooBoo isn’t being goofy, but he prefers this one so that’s what we’ll be sending out.

And, the Kepler Cascades.  Now on to our day trip into Grand Teton National Park.  Shortly after crossing into the Tetons, we came across a mother grizzly & her cubs.  Those pictures require a zoom & crop session so I’ll share the ones we got in Yellowstone in this post instead.  We decided to hike the trail to Hidden Falls while in the Tetons and here’s what we saw.

The view on the Jenny Lake trail.

Yellow Bellied Marmots.  I know there’s only one in the photo, but they were numerous on our hike.  And they seem to love getting their picture taken.  This one posed for us.

Hidden Falls.  The perfect ending to a two and a half mile hike.

BooBoo clowning around with a marmot.  “Get my good side.”

DH, Ditty & BooBoo took an extra hike to a moose viewing area one mile from the Jenny Lake trailhead and saw this guy walk out near the end of their watch.

What a view!  And this was just a photo of the landscape from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center.

Exiting the Tetons after a lovely supper at Jackson Lake Lodge.  The fifth day of our stay in Yellowstone saw us:

Checking out Sheepeater Cliff.

Stopping to view a heard of elk on our way to Mammoth Hot Springs.

Seeing this lovely terraced formation on the trail at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Bison trotting down the street in Mammoth.  We crossed the street for this group.  The mama has a russet (the baby) and a two or three year old with her so we weren’t about to put our backs to the wall, just in case she got further agitated.

Elk on the side lawn of a house in Mammoth (zoom lens optional).  These elk were so close to the sidewalk that I really didn’t need the zoom lens for this shot.  I would never try to get close to large animals like this but we walked up the sidewalk and had to turn around to get the shot when we realized they were there.

Mountain goats on the ridge north of Mammoth.  We saw three or four of them.  This was the best picture though.

Yellowstone Arch at the north entrance of the park.  On the way back to our campground, we saw

One bear, no

two bears.

And the bison nearby.

Yellowstone Part 2

The first two of our six days in the park.

Mule deer.  I never understood why they were called mule deer until these three crossed the road in front of our van.  Of course, I’ve never seen their ears that upright before either.

A Uintas ground squirrel.  Didn’t need a zoom lens to get a picture of this little beggar at our picnic lunch stop.  Cute little rodent.

The view from our picnic spot.  We found that picnicking in the mountains in June can be a bit chilly.

What we saw on the drive up to our reserved campground.  More Snow.  We ended up having to transfer to a campground at a lower elevation to escape the snow.

Old Faithful geyser and the boardwalk full of tourists.

Old Faithful geyser from the backside.  We walked along the boardwalk trail at Old Faithful to get this shot of another eruption.  Without the tourists, it probably looks more like what the early trappers saw.

Castle geyser, also on the Old Faithful boardwalk.

Crested Pool.  Looks inviting, until you realize that the deposits along the outside are dissolved rock.  Explaining that to the kids made staying on the trails and boardwalks much easier.

Another deep blue pool. 

Sapphire Pool.  Certainly lives up to it’s name.

The mud pots around Yellowstone are always interesting.  The kids thought the dried mud at this one looked like a bird’s face.  What do you think?

But walking around to the opposite side, revealed that the poor bird has a monkey on his back. 🙂

The Hot Cascades.  Waterfalls of all sizes abound in Yellowstone.  This is definitely one of the smaller ones.

Not all of the bison had given birth yet with the spring thaw being delayed.  This one is dozing in the sun.  Ditty said she would have liked to keep sleeping too.

A pretty blue spouter.

The view from the top of the trail with the pretty blue spouter.

On another note, peace reigns in our house following the soccer tournaments this past weekend.  Both Ditty’s and BooBoo’s teams placed third, so there was none of the “my team’s better than yours” business.  And I’m glad that we no longer need to head to the soccer fields three times a week.

Have a great week.

Yellowstone, Part 1

Getting there is half the fun.  I don’t remember who first said this, but it’s so true. . . see for yourself.

A stop at the Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls SD yielded this shot.  One of the butterflies decided to hitch a ride on my hip rather than fly across the room.

Eventually I wanted to sit down, so I put the lazy butterfly on BooBoo’s arm instead.  Much to the delight of the boy.

This is just one of the many good pictures we got of the different moths & butterflies.  This is an Atlas moth.  It’s one of the biggest moths in the world.  To do the size justice, the photo would need to be quite a bit larger as the moth is the size of a man’s hand with fingers spread wide open.  And check out the tips of it’s wings. . . almost looks like snake faces, don’t they?

After spending the night in Spearfish, we headed into Wyoming and stopped at Devil’s Tower.  The kids didn’t remember seeing the Tower back in ’06.  Maybe they will remember this time.

Don’t you just love it when you’re entering mountain country and you can see the layers of mountains in the distance?  I know I do.

Entering the Beartooth Mountains.  Did I mention that crazy Lolita, our GPS, decided to take us on Hwy 14 instead of Hwy 16 to arrive at our second overnight spot?  Yeah, unless you’re an experienced mountain driver (or certifiably insane), I’d suggest overriding the GPS and taking Hwy 16.  DH was white knuckled due to lack of guard rails on this portion of the trip.

We stopped at Shell Falls in Bighorn National Forest for a supper break.  This was the view as we were getting back on the road.

Entering the Absaroka mountain range.

The first time you see elk on a trip is always exciting.

We stayed overnight at the KBarZ Guest Ranch our second night on the road and did a trail ride after breakfast the next morning.   The cabin suited our needs, the other guests were quite friendly and the folks who run the ranch were absolutely wonderful.  It was a very pleasant stay for us and I wished we could have stayed a bit longer.  They were having an archery shoot that weekend and I haven’t shot since college.  It would have been fun.  Hopefully we will get back there again someday.

 

With spending Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at the the soccer fields this week, Ditty’s & BooBoo’s teams are both playing for 3rd place in their respective divisions tomorrow.  I’ll try to post the next installment of Yellowstone pics on Monday.

Enjoy your weekend!

Daycamp 2011

I finished another week of volunteering at a Girl Scout daycamp last Friday.  At daycamp, my camp name is Sparky and I teach OSS which stands for outdoor specialty skills.  Things like jackknives, compasses, trail signs, knots, tarp shelters and weather.  This year I had a young adult helping me.  Her camp name was Smurf.  No, she didn’t have blue skin.  And she may be coming back again next year.  That would be great.

I always feel bad dumping someone in the deep end if they’ve never taught before, so I basically had Smurf doing simple tasks with me.  On Friday, I asked if she was coming back next year and she didn’t say no, so I suggested taking her OSS binder home and looking over what we do and letting me know what stuff she’d like to teach the girls next year and I would teach the other stuff.  I hope she comes back.  She was fun to work with.

Last week was incredibly hot here in the great white north.  We definitely were not frozen anymore.  Monday’s heat index was 112, Tuesday’s & Wednesday’s heat index was 118.  At that point, I stopped paying attention to heat indexes because it just made me feel warmer than not knowing.  The campers were hot & tired, but who can blame them.  We’re used to temps in the 90’s in July, but with the extremely high humidity we were getting, the mugginess was just about unbearable.

In spite of the weather, we still had loads of fun at camp.  Thursday night was the sleep over for 4th grade & up.  We cooked hot dogs over a fire, made s’mores and enjoyed a second campfire later with songs and skits. 

Today is a rest day.  Tomorrow, it’s laundry & getting on DH’s computer to post some of the Yellowstone pics.

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Quotes:

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"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