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.

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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.

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.

Plan well

“Luck is the residue of design.”  Branch Rickey

My days have been passing by in a blur lately, mainly due to not having a proper plan for them.

The paying job that I accepted is seasonal and varied.  There is no way to change that, it simply is.  I need to create time to plan the parts of my days that I can control, the early mornings and the evenings.  I need to take time on the weekend to make a thorough inventory of what is in my freezers and cupboards.  I need to then get my meal plans made and create some easy, go-to meals for those evenings when we don’t have time to make a meal from scratch.

I also need to create chore charts for my kids and see to it that they really use them so that they learn to contribute to our family’s efficiency.  Two are still in school and the eldest has accepted more hours at her job.  That doesn’t excuse them from chores.  We will all need to do our parts so that we can all enjoy some down time.

Off to create a plan.  Have a great week.

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It has been an interesting week at our house.  Ditty was gone for a week long educational field trip to a camp up north.  They learned about the environment and team building.  She wasn’t too impressed with the way some kids reacted to the experience.  Ditty loves to camp.  She has no problems with bugs, animals, being dirty, or being outdoors.  Oh, she still can whine with the best of them if she’s uncomfortable, but tell the girl that she’s camping and she can change her attitude when needed.

I asked if they had Mass on Wednesday while they were up at camp.  That’s there usual school Mass day.  She said no, but they did have chapel every day.  Okay, whew!  That works for me.  Since they were at camp with three other Catholic schools, I hoped they would be doing something religious to build their faith at some point.

BooBoo missed having Ditty around.  He tried his little tricks to get attention.  Yes, some of them still work.  I reassured him that even if she says she didn’t miss him, that she actually did miss him.  And I know this is true even if she won’t admit it because of the amount of time spent discussing what “the boys” were doing the weekend that DH & BooBoo went Cub Scout camping.  That helped BooBoo a bit.

Then, on Thursday, my bursitis decided to act up again.  Think tennis elbow in the shoulder.  Very painful.  So, to avoid another midnight trip to the emergency room in agonizing pain, and another $900 medical bill for a painful shoulder, I asked DH to bring me to Urgent Care instead.  He and BooBoo went back home to make pizza for their supper while I sat and waited to be seen by a doctor for the shoulder and prayed that this one would go easier on me than the one in Florida where I had my first diagnosis of bursitis.

The appointment did go much better and so I left with prescriptions for pain management and something to reduce the inflammation of the bursa.  Amazingly, it took longer for these meds to reduce the pain and swelling than the last did.  Sunday was the first day I actually felt good and could move my arm with little to no pain.  I still can’t bring myself to try to raise my arm over my head, but I’ll keep trying slowly because I know that I need to work back into a proper range of motion in that arm.

DH & I also took the family up to our niece & nephew’s Steubenville fundraiser breakfast Sunday morning.  It was a nice breakfast and afterwards we watched our niece play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.  Made me wish I was young and agile again.  It certainly looked like a lot of fun, in spite of the wind and cooler than normal temperature.  If you’re wondering what Ultimate Frisbee looks like, go to www.whatisultimate.com .  For those who don’t want to click the link, think Frisbee played by seven player teams on what looks like a soccer pitch.  No refs and only players, not coaches, can call fouls, etc.  It is a fast scoring game.

So, when did this start again?

“The accepted mode of transportation was the stripped down Model T Ford, preferably inscribed with such witticisms as ‘Chicken, Here’s Your Roost’, ‘Four Wheels, No Brakes’,  and ‘The Mayflower-Many a Little Puritan Has Come Across In It’.”  From Cheaper by the Dozen published in 1948 and referring to the Roaring Twenties.

So when people tell you that the decline of our youth began in the 1960’s, don’t you believe it!  They obviously learned it from someone older.  As did the generation before that and the one before that, ad infinitum and clear back to Adam & Eve no doubt. 

We parents will just have to remember to keep them on a short leash.  Are you in with me on this?  I sure hope so.

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The weekends have been filled with all kinds of good stuff lately.  One niece got confirmed on Divine Mercy Sunday.  Our oldest nephew graduated summa cum laude from college last Sunday.  He’ll be taking his CPA exam this month and should be starting his new job with Ernst & Young in July.  I’m proud of him and his accomplishments.  The kid has always been smart and it’s great to see the result of his applying himself to his studies.

Ditty and I had a nice Girl’s Day Out on Saturday.  We went to lunch, ran a quick errand, saw the movie Soul Surfer and went to Mass.  The boys were at Cub Scout camp and CB was working, so it was just the two of us.

I would definitely recommend Soul Surfer.  It was a good movie and very neat to see how they brought out the way the main character’s faith helped her get through the healing process.  Well worth the money to see it in the theater.  I will say though that if you are squeamish around blood, you might want to close your eyes during the shark scene.  It put Ditty off the popcorn for the rest of the movie.  Although it was nice that she said “I’m glad we went to Mass after seeing that movie.”, but sad that the reason she said it was because her tummy was still upset and she didn’t feel like eating supper yet.

Happy Mother’s Day

From a greeting card, but so appropriate:

     Here’s to the mothers awake in the night with a colicky baby in tow.  And here’s to the ones who are knee-deep in laundry with five or six loads left to go.

     Here’s to the mothers who mouth every word when their child is performing on stage, who understand wisely there’s something to love about each child at every age.

     Here’s to the mothers who try but still fumble, who hope that love makes it okay.  These are the ones we remember and honor in all of our hearts every day.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms, whether biological, adoptive, step, foster, in-law or just like.  Your strength and love are gifts that money can’t measure.

Since temps were unseasonably cool this year, even for the great white frozen north, these pics are actually my 2009 garden.  I felt moms should have flowers on Mother’s Day.

St Nicholas

BooBoo was up to some tricks on St. Nicholas eve this year.  He somehow thought that he should put up signs over his slippers (yes, plural.  He put out both!).

One for

and one for

I’m not sure that he believes me when I tell him that St. Nicholas is the real Santa Claus.  Our St. Nicholas brings candy, nuts and oranges or apples not toys.

BooBoo wasn’t too disappointed though.  He told me, “Well, the good news is: I got more candy than I expected!”

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Overheard at supper

We were having supper at Pizza Ranch last Sunday.  DH asked the kids if they wanted to watch a movie when we got home.  Ditty said, “Yes, the one called Watch Ditty Sleep”.  To which BooBoo replied, “And it’s sequel, BooBoo Wakes Up His Sister”. 

Oh, they are going to have a hard time being good this year I think.

It’s going to be a very short week

The week of Thanksgiving is always a very short week, schoolwise that is.  Ditty & BooBoo have school on just Monday & Tuesday this week.  And of course, both nights are jam packed with stuff.

Monday night is the Knowledge Bowl meet hosted by our school.  I’ll be working the concession stand that night.  Tuesday night is the Family Fun Night, hosted by the Third Grade Parents and the Home & School Association.  Yes, BooBoo is in 3rd grade so that means . . . I’ll be working the concession stand that night. 

Sounds like deja vu doesn’t it?  That’s actually fine with me.  For one, I’ll be old hat at the tasks we need to get done and two, it means that I don’t have to do any of the math games that night.  Yes, it’s a Math games fun night.  I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do after a long and busy day is math!  So even though we have to charge money for the concessions and make change, and yes I know that’s math too, I would still rather work the concession stand than be responsible for entertaining kids with math games.

Weird but true.  I am also aware of how important math is to our kid’s future.  I just personally don’t care to do more of it than I absolutely have to.  But I’ve got my kids in the right place.  After all, they consider math games to be a family fun night.  My kids fit in really well on this, I’m not so sure about how well I fit in.

Draw Two

One of the things my kids enjoy is playing games as a family.  So last Friday night, DH & I sat down with the kids to play Uno.  Immediately, the competition began.

“Oh No!  I’m not sitting in between Dad & Mom!”, Ditty stated emphatically. “I always end up getting all their skips and draw fours.”

So the seating arrangement was changed.  DH & I sat next to each other.  I was across the table from BooBoo and Ditty was feeling pretty safe sitting across the table from her father.  DH dealt the first round.  After BooBoo needed to draw a card, several times in a row on his turns, DH said, “How did we manage to put the kid with the shortest arms at the long end of the table?”.  “Just let it go for now”, I replied, “He’ll manage.”

I dealt the second round and Ditty was getting pretty confident that no one was going to play nasty cards against her.  Then it was her turn to deal.  Oh boy, the hand she dealt me was almost all word cards.  We have an old Uno deck that actually has the words “Skip” “Reverse” and “Draw Two” written on the cards instead of those unintelligible symbols.  I guess the game company has decided that people can’t read anymore so they need weird symbols on their cards instead.  Or else symbols mean they don’t have to produce decks in English, Spanish, Japanese, etc.

But anyway, back to the game.  Since I was sitting on Ditty’s right, she got bombarded with those word cards.  I think I heard “MOM!” more times on Friday night than I have in the past ten years or so.

But the best line of the night came near the end of that round.  Ditty: “Green two”, BooBoo: “Blue two”, DH: “Yellow two”, me: “Draw two”.  Back to Ditty, “Mom!  You were supposed to say Red two!”  I snigger at Ditty, “Nope, that was too good a pattern to resist.”

Hope all your game nights are lots of laughs.

But it’s only the second day!

“Children bring something home every day. . . sometimes in their hand, sometimes in their head, sometimes in their heart, and once in awhile, in their hair.”   Valerie Welks Workshop

Yes, that’s right.  Today the note came home in BooBoo’s class that someone in the class has head lice.  It’s only the second day of school!

This is honestly the note I detest more than the strep throat note.  And even more than the flu or whooping cough notes.  Those things all have very noticeable symptoms.  And they are sure to go away with proper treatment.  Head lice are a different story.  They aren’t always immediately noticeable and they seem to rarely go away with just one treatment.

I’m now wishing that I had just shaved BooBoo’s head for his haircut last weekend!  It would have saved me this headache.  Or is it head itch?

Oh, and still no coffee or yarn.  Everytime I plan, something else comes up.  So que sera sera on tomorrow’s chances.

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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