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.

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.

The Maker of Opportune Miracles (aka Mom)

Sorry for the silence.  I’ve been battling a cold and pms this past week.  I think the pms plans to hang around until the cold is gone and then really unleash its fury.  Or perhaps the cold has me so knocked down that I am able to ignore the pms.

Either way, I’m miserable.  It would be nice to be able to just lie on the couch with a cold cloth over my watering eyes and rest.  At least to rest as much as one can while clutching a box of kleenex and praying the wastebasket doesn’t overflow before I feel well enough to empty it myself.

But that won’t happen.  Because I’m a mom.  We don’t get the luxury of days off like that.  Instead we keep plugging away at our tasks.  Like driving to school to deliver the guitar, music book & guitar picks to the son who always seems to forget what part of the week Tuesday falls on.  Or explaining patiently, when the husband asks in all seriousness, why I can’t fit 100 pounds of beef roast in my 5 quart crockpot and get it started for the Blue & Gold ceremony that happens to be on the same day the Girl Scout troop needs to run a station for Thinking Day (an all day event in our service unit).

“Well, could I do it if he got me a roaster?”  Yes, seriously he asked.  And no, I could not fit 100 pounds of beef in an 18 quart roaster either.  The man has no concept of quantity and the space needed to store it.  Or for that matter, the time needed to cook it.  In fact, I doubt that we could fit 100 pounds of beef roast in our home refrigerator even if it was completely empty and it is currently full of produce (for my diet) and leftovers (because I can’t always eat what I make for them).  So no, no and N-O.  Sign me up for bars or something I can make the day before.

However, this is why I have come to believe that my family thinks that the word Mom stands for:

Maker of

Opportune

Miracles

Their supporting evidence:

1.  Their clothing is miraculously clean when they need it.  And mended when required.  All with little to no effort on their part.

2.  Good food always appears when they are hungry.  The only effort they make in this area is to occasionally cook if the mood strikes them.  And if they aren’t “too busy”.

3.  They can drop their junk anywhere and never clean it up, yet they can ask one question and be told exactly where to find said item.  And the items in question even occasionally arrive in their rooms waiting to be found and put away.

4.  Needed items always make their way to them without anything worse than a phone call to the Maker of Opportune Miracles (guitar, flute, change of clothes because they can’t be seen in their school uniform after school hours).

5.  The house is always clean (or at least clean enough for them not to care) with little or no effort on their part.

6.  When they are sick, they receive comfort, care and as many of their favorite foods or things as their illness can tolerate without worsening.

Quite the convincing argument for belief in the Maker of Opportune Miracles. 

I think it’s time they start pulling their weight.  This M.O.M. needs a break.

Beauty and the Beast Jr.

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”  George Bernard Shaw

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”  Douglas Adams

The second quote is just in case this post only makes sense to me.  🙂

I realized that with the updates on DH’s cousin and my diet attempt, I haven’t updated this blog with news on Ditty & BooBoo.  They are both in their school’s production of Beauty & the Beast Jr.  Ditty’s part was originally to be a Narrator and fill in dancer during the opening “Belle” scene and also in the “Gaston” tavern scene.  But fate being what it is, she was standing next to the Baker when they first rehearsed the opening scene and the Baker said his line “Marie, the baguettes!  Hurry up!” at which time, the director realized that there was no Marie to rush over with the baguettes.  So Ditty became Marie.  Then I was watching them run the Gaston scene and  realized they had put her behind the bar.  So if the Baker married the Barmaid, did he do it for love or just to have a monopoly on the yeast and wheat?  LOL.  She is having lots of fun with this play and also has to be part of the “Mob’ scene too.

BooBoo was cast as a “Guest” meaning he could have been anything from a plate, knife, fork or spoon, to a cheese souffle, pie, or pudding en flambe.  He was also scheduled to be a fill-in dancer/singer for the “Mob’ scene (where Gaston exhorts the crowd to kill the Beast).  Instead he was placed in all the castle scenes as an enchanted column (yeah, the Roman pillar kind).  He gets to move around: forward, backward, and side to side (enchanted things move), with little shuffling steps.  This takes him out of the Mob scene since he needs to be in his column costume in every castle scene and the changing would need to happen too fast for him to keep up.  But he is also happy with his part and thinks it will be great fun to keep people guessing where the column will be next.

So that’s the news of the household so far.  Rehearsals, swimming lessons, scouts and wrestling are keeping us running.  BooBoo’s new bedroom is practically on hold right now.  I keep thinking that I can get to it if I can just get caught up with the housework and costuming for the play.  Our Costumer put me in charge of the fairies and the villagers (including those who have parts in the Mob scene but might not be villagers in the Belle scene).

Finding leotards for the fairies is proving difficult.  It would be easiest just to order what we need brand new, but budget constraints don’t allow for all new costumes.  So the core group of volunteers have been scouring thrift stores in search of what we need.  It hasn’t worked, so I will be speaking with the director to work out an alternative color scheme for the fairies.  I may have to work out something entirely different for our lead fairy, the Enchantress, because I was just informed yesterday that she is allergic to spandex.  Kind of puts a kibosh on the whole leotard thing for her.  We don’t need a red-skinned (and I mean beet red) Enchantress.  Thinking on it just now, maybe we could just attach the skirts to t-shirts and have the girls wear shorts under the skirts if needed.

Well, here’s to success in convincing the director to go for the changes!

Building Bridges

or how I spent the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.”  David Russell

Some bridges lead to new opportunities, new friendships, new experiences.  Others seem to lead to hatred, distrust, or apathy.   Cross those bridges that lead to good things, burn the ones that contain nothing good. 

People continually ask others, on the anniversary of some event, where we you when. . . , or what do you remember about . . . especially if they are having trouble dealing with their own emotions about the event in question.

Personally, I will always remember 9/11/01 simply because my son was born in the wee hours of the day before.  I’m glad he wasn’t one of the babies born on 9/11/01.  It would be a shame for him to constantly be photographed and interviewed simply because his birthdate coinsided with a date that was linked to tragedy.  I’m glad that he will be able to do things without an entourage of paparazzi trying to make normal things seem extraordinary just because they are being done by “a child of 9/11”.

I would hope that people are moving forward from the tragedy of that day.  Our world is still turning, there are people being born, living and dying without much notice being given them.  Yet these people might be the ones who figure out how we can all live better lives.  Lives that show we care about all people and that we refuse to give in to hatred and bitterness.

I spent 9/11 this year camping with my husband, our son, our daughter and some very good friends.  We laughed, joked and had a great time just being people of the here and now.  And now it is time to get back to the reality of Monday and the work to be done.

Just in case

I’m scheduling this post to appear the Monday after we get back from Wyoming.  Just in case the pile of laundry has me in a death grip and I can’t reach my computer to type out a message for help.

“Here I am, safely returned over those peaks from a journey far more beautiful and strange than anything I had hoped for or imagined – – How is it that this safe return brings such regret.”  Peter Matthiessen

Photos will be posted after I beat the laundry in its own mad game.

Rest In Peace

Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of “Dave Three” as we knew him.  Dave was a Cub Scout den leader in our town.  Dave was always ready to make a new friend, tell a clean joke and help anyone who needed helping.  Dave leaves behind a wife, two sons-one in 5th grade and one in 8th grade, family members and many, many friends.  He was “my Lutheran friend with an open mind”.

May Dave’s soul find peace and eternal happiness with God, our Father, in Heaven.

Utterly misogynistic

A comment on one of the session evaluations last night has me baffled.  A participant said that my comment on male suicide completion rates “reeks of misogyny”.  The penmanship (or would they prefer penpersonship?) was shall we say, in a larger font than what I’m using here.

For the record, we were discussing why the statistics for male victims of child sexual abuse are lower than female victims.  One of the reasons is that boys don’t tell.  I also stated that another reason may be that the suicide completion rate for males is higher than that of females.  There are studies out there that back this up.  While I can’t recall the names of the researchers who published the studies, I do remember discussing this in some detail during a Psychology class.  Someone in the group asked why the completion rate is higher.  My comment was “When a male sets out to commit suicide, he gets the job done.”  Apparently that was misogynistic in someone’s eyes.

However, it is true.  Females tend to slit their wrists or try to overdose on pills.  Males tend to use a gun to commit suicide and they generally don’t miss.  Females tend to make comments beforehand like: “I’m so depressed.  Sometimes I’d just like to kill myself.” or “I just wish I was dead.”  Males don’t tend to talk about their feelings.  That’s why so many people are shocked to learn of a male friend or family member’s suicide.

btw, I had to look up what misogyny was before I could understand the participant’s comment.  I definitely remember hearing the word before last night, but couldn’t remember the meaning of the word.  Misogyny as defined by Webster is “a hatred of women”.

Oh!  Well, I have to say that being a woman, I don’t feel particularly misogynistic.  Most of my best friends are women.  Sure I have a couple of male friends that I can talk to about things as easily as my female friends but I don’t confide in them with the same regularity. 

So yes, it shocked me a bit to be told that I hate women.  After all, being a Girl Scout volunteer for 17 years does tend to allow one to assume they are empowering females and helping them to be women of courage, character and confidence.  So wow, misogynistic really?

Hmmm.  Further reading of the participant’s evaluation revealed that they felt “the Catholic Church should also offer proper sex education in its schools”.

Oh, now I get it.  And I wonder if the participant’s definition of “proper sex education” would really jive with the position of the Catholic Church. 

What do you think?

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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