Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Scoutmaster Conference {Failed}

    Joseph assists Boaz in setting up a camp stove at a recent camp out.
Joseph failed his Scoutmaster conference for Life rank last night. Although he had fulfilled each requirement as listed in the BSA handbook (shown below), he was denied by the adult leaders at the conference, who probably meant well. During his conference one of the adult leaders (an assistant Scoutmaster) dismissed Joseph's troop leadership position (chaplain aid), saying that if the other leadership positions were like books, chaplain aid is like a pamphlet.  Had we known that his leadership position would not 'count,' we would never have encouraged him to seek out a Scoutmaster conference (and board of review). 
    Joseph has been elected twice and served as chaplain aid for over a year, leading the troop in prayer every day at summer camp; leading grace before community and patrol meals; and offering prayers when called upon by the senior patrol leader.  The actual hours of service as a chaplain aid may fall short when compared to a senior patrol leader or a den chief.  However, the courage, reverence, and discipline required of a young Scout to stand up and lead public prayer in a multi-denominational setting is admirable and worthy of respect and certainly something that develops his leadership skills.  Somehow, though, his elected term as chaplain aid was deemed 'not worthy' to be counted for the leadership requirement for Life Rank.
      Seriously committed to Scouts and to personal development, Joseph is currently serving his second term as patrol leader for the Burning Bullfrog patrol; recently served six months as the assistant patrol leader; and quartermaster.  We are grateful for every adult leader who has worked with Joseph and helped him develop his leadership skills.  Joseph recognizes that he needs to continue to grow and become a better leader.  He admits his weaknesses and willingly practices daily prayer, Mass, and regular confession (reconciliation) to grow in personal holiness (or put another way: to better live the Scout Oath and Law).  
        Set backs will happen in life, and it is our faith in God which allows us to put our hope in Him and not in the ways of the world.  The fact that the chaplain aid position is looked down upon should come as no surprise in a world that does not value prayer or union with God. Ultimately, the rewards of eternal life far outweigh the rewards of earning the rank of Life Scout.  
          Peter and Joseph at 8 Mile Camp outside Leavenworth, WA. 

          Life Rank Requirements

          1. Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 6 months as a Star Scout.
          2. Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life.
          3. Earn 5 more merit badges (so that you have 11 in all), including any 3 more from the required list for Eagle
          4. While a Star Scout, take part in service projects totaling at least 6 hours of work. These projects must be approved by your Scoutmaster.
          5. While a Star Scout, serve actively 6 months in one or more of the positions of responsibility listed (or carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the troop).
            • Patrol leader
            • assistant senior patrol leader
            • senior patrol leader
            • Venture patrol leader
            • troop guide
            • Order of the Arrow troop representative
            • den chief
            • scribe
            • librarian
            • historian
            • quartermaster
            • bugler
            • junior assistant Scoutmaster
            • chaplain aide
            • instructor
            • troop Webmaster
            • Leave No Trace trainer
          6. While a Star Scout, use the EDGE method to teach a younger Scout the skills from ONE of the following seven choices, so that he is prepared to pass those requirements to his unit leader's satisfaction.
            1. Second Class - 7a and 7c (first aid)
            2. Second Class - 1a (outdoor skills)
            3. Second Class - 3c, 3d, 3e, and 3f (cooking/camping)
            4. First Class - 8a, 8b, 8c, and 8d (first aid)
            5. First Class - 1, 7a, and 7b (outdoor skills)
            6. First Class - 4a, 4b, and 4d (cooking/camping)
            7. Three requirements from one of the Eagle-required merit badges, as approved by your unit leader.
          7. Take part in a Scoutmaster conference
          8. Complete your board of review.

        Tuesday, June 28, 2011

        Bathroom Blues {Toilet Mishap}

        Tim releases the trapped water from above, draining directly into the sink below!

        Of all the unfortunate things to discover on a Sunday afternoon, a leaking toilet might be one of the worst.   Our discovery began by following a bubble and a bulge in the downstairs bathroom ceiling, which when punctured, streamed stinky (but clear) water right into the sink.  Further demolition of the injured ceiling revealed the source of the water damage, a slow, steady drip from the toilet upstairs.

        Tim coaches Joseph on toilet removal.
        Installed by our loving friend as a gift while we were in Italy, the brand new floor in the upstairs bathroom was unfortunately ruined as well.   It's now been torn to shreds and discarded, along with the spongy sub-floor which had soaked up all the... discharge that seeped from the countless flushings of the toilet since the leak was sprung who-knows-how-long ago.

        With a crow bar, Joseph helps remove the soggy sub-floor.

        With several willing helpers to share the disgusting jobs, Tim orchestrated a quick and efficient demolition effort.  Grandpa Cliff came over to offer his support and advice on a plan for moving forward, as well as bringing a few needed supplies for the project.  Zachary fetched dinner (hot & ready) and made the daily milk run.  With all the help, phase one (removal of faulty and filthy) is complete.  Phase two (drying the soggy parts) has begun.

        Oh the joys of home ownership!

        Sunday, June 26, 2011

        Spectacular Saturday {Titlow Park & Pool}

        Zac and his brothers and cousins, poolside at Titlow Park

        Zac stretches out in the 200M butterfly

        Decidely a day to enjoy outdoors, our first summer Saturday spent at Titlow Park with family and friends kicked off summer with style. Zachary's swim meet at Titlow's outdoor pool brought us close to our family and friends in Tacoma who joined us for picnic and playtime at the park. At our home away from home, we gathered to share a meal and visit in a shady gazebo; a few steps from the swim meet, surrounded by grassy fields, with views of the Puget Sound beyond the train tracks, right next to a playground.
        Grandpa Pete with grandkids MacKenzie, Peter, Brendan, Jacob and Joseph

        Days like this are to be cherished, even with the awkward moments like my enthusiastic greeting to Jacob with, "Hi Brandan!" How Jacob has grown! Now nearly as big as his big brother, Brendan, he caught me off guard. Nevermind the fact that I had already greeted Brendan. Jacob looked at me with a surprised, curious grin and vehemently declared, "I'm not Brendan!"
        Cousin time at Titlow Park, Tacoma, WA

         Under the shade of a gazebo at Titlow Park, Grandma Patty, Niko and Mike enjoy memories of Christmas Eve.
        • Trooper of the day award goes to Aunt Michelle, who came to join  us at the park despite the fact that she's on crutches following knee surgery.  With very limited parking, Titlow is not exactly crutch friendly, but Aunt Michelle trekked down to be with us for the day.  
        • Biggest loss of the day goes to Uncle Peter's iphone, which splashed into his coffee mug as he pulled up to park at Titlow.  Not the first time this phone's taken a swim, we do hope it will make a full i-recovery.
        • Best swimmer of the day goes to Zachary, who was also the only swimmer.
        • Best dressed for the day goes to brothers Niko (17) and Mike (almost 16), who have a real sense of style (even if long sleeves seemed odd on such a warm, sunny day).
        Climbing trees, throwing the football, chasing the soccer ball, wrestling on the grass, relaxing in the sun,watching trains and cheering for Zachary made for a wonderful Saturday at the park.  Our day at Titlow Park will long be remembered as a highlight of our 2011 summer.  And we have the pictures to prove it!

        Saturday, June 25, 2011

        Just Add Dog

        Take one large and complicated creation...

        With one proud builder...

        Add one lively dog, with a wagging tail!

        Watch the fireworks!

        Friday, June 24, 2011

        Almost All Grown Up {Boaz and Ezra}

        Boaz and Ezra together for a 'farewell' before heading off to new horizons.

        Taking flight as young adults, Boaz and Ezra parted ways yesterday.  Born cousins, but brothers by their adoption into the Baker's Dozen, Boaz and Ezra are also best friends.  Surviving a civil war and subsequent placement in an orphanage for about three years in Liberia, followed by a dramatic transition to life in the rural NW United States, their bond is truly cemented onto their hearts.

        For Boaz, this is the beginning of a brand new adventure in education and vocational training at Job Corps.  His older sister, Keziah, has been at Job Corps for a few weeks now, and will probably be very excited to see her little brother arrive in a two days.  Their goals include earning their GED's and becoming skilled at a chosen trade.  The Job Corps experience is designed to give them a big advantage when it comes time to find their first job.

        Year two on the kitchen staff at Fire Mountain Scout Camp, Ezra knows well what he's gotten himself into.  He preferred a job in the raspberry fields, but the transportation plan didn't materialize.  So, back to Fire Mountain for another summer in the service of hungry Boy Scouts.  Last summer he was known as the salad bar pirate, and admittedly suffered with the 5:30AM wake up each day to prepare breakfast.
        Ezra's all packed up and almost ready for departure.

        Farewell Ezra! See you in August.

        Here's what Ezra is looking forward to at Fire Mountain Scout Camp:
        • seeing the new guys working in the kitchen grumping in the morning 
        • seeing who is going to be my roommate, sharing a cabin at camp
        • meeting new people
        • getting a new staff T-shirt
        • getting some XC practice in (for the fall varsity cross country season)
        • grilled bbq chicken on Fridays
        Here's what Ezra is NOT looking forward to at Fire Mountain Scout Camp:

        • working until 10PM in the kitchen
        • getting up at 5:30AM

        Goodbye Ezra, have fun at Fire Mountain...we'll miss you!
        Goodbye hard at Job Corps!  Say "Hi" to Keziah...

        Wednesday, June 22, 2011

        Prognosis {Juvenile Sleep Study}

        Peter (11) well connected for his sleep study at Providence Hospital, Everett, WA

        The results are in: Peter has sleep apnea like his Grandpa Pete and his Uncle Pete and his Uncle Clark.
        We learned that at one point during his sleep study Peter stopped breathing for 42 seconds, which is nothing compared to his grandpa who stopped breathing for over a minute and whose heart actually stopped beating during his sleep study.  Peter's average breathing stoppage was 4 per hour, with 18 per hour during REM sleep.  

        Treatment phase 1 involves having his tonsils and adenoids removed.  Peter is not very happy about having surgery, even with the promise of ice cream and Popsicles.  The hope of helping him get better quality sleep and improve his overall health make the set-back of surgery seem worthwhile. 

        Friday, June 17, 2011

        6 Years Ago This Week

        Flashback Friday: June 2006
        The very first meeting of Joseph's Tiger Den, in our back yard, 2006.

        Peter learns to ride with 2 wheels, with assistance from Zachary.

        Peter celebrating his 2 wheel accomplishment.

        Peter singing screaming in the rain.

        Joseph and Collin in the strawberry field.

        Zachary, Joseph, Bridget and Peter at a friend's civil wedding ceremony.

        Two cars are loaded with gear and we're off on a big adventure in the Cascade Foothills with Boy Scouts and families.  Hiking, camping, cooking, river rafting, and a 5PM Mass Saturday night are on the schedule.  The weather forecast looks promising, and the boys are very excited to head out.

        Peter's preparations for 1st Class Cooking have consumed many hours and much brain power this week.  He's planned a menu for his 5-man cooking patrol for breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday.  He organized his camp kitchen, shopped for the groceries, figured the cost of each person's food portions, and packed everything for travel.  He insisted on homemade rhubarb jam for the lunches Saturday, and made it himself with rhubarb picked from our garden.

        Bragging about how haphazardly he packed, Joseph is like a puppy waiting for his walk!  He's sleeping in a one man cot-tent Tim brought home from the shop.  He's wearing hand-me-down hiking boots (found at the last minute in the garage, saving us a last minute trip to REI).

        Over-the-top menu items like grilled steak and chocolate-raspberry cast iron cake are on Zac's packing list.  No tent, just a bag and pad to sleep out under the stars with the older Scouts.  We've missed having him on this annual camp out for the past few years due to it's usual conflict with our diocesan priestly ordination Mass.  Since ordination was last weekend (which we all attended together), Zac's back in action on the camping roster.

        Camping time!

        Wednesday, June 15, 2011

        On Being Prepared {Zac Report}

        Here's our Life Scout for you... ready with his pocket knife (at Church).

        Zac's first year of school ended today, doesn't he look happy?  Or does he look like a young man in need of a hair cut?  A Zac quote summing up this academic year at community college in the Running Start program:
        "It was."  (With a 'shout out' to his music teacher, who was awesome; and a warning to avoid his philosophy teacher.)

        On Zac's to-do list now:
        • clean his room
        • pack for camping & river rafting trip
        • prepare for hosting gaming tomorrow night
        • final planning for his Eagle project; order supplies, set up work parties, organize details
        • ongoing daily training with local swim team to prepare for his senior year of varsity swimming
        • camp, canoe, cook, hike, hammock and enjoy the outdoors
        • work part time at the shop on eBay sales
        As for me, I'm delighted to have him around a bit more like the old days.  Today he joined us for daily Mass; such a joy to have him.  At almost 17 years old, he's still cherish-able!

        Monday, June 13, 2011

        The Study of Sleep {Juvenile Sleep Study}

        Peter gives a thumb's up before attempting to fall asleep connected to dozens of probes and wires at his sleep study.

        Before hopping into the deluxe queen bed, Peter adjusts to the confines of the implements of sleep study.

        Peter- moments before the glowing red pulse monitor was placed on the tip of his pointer finger.  "ET phone home..."

        The most confusing thing about Peter's sleep study, is why it was called a sleep study and not a "try to sleep connected to a thousand wires, flat on your back, while we come in and out of the room to check on you" study.  Actual sleep was in short supply, be assured.

        Not only was Peter terribly uncomfortable with the contraptions for the scientific study of his sleep patterns, but he's probably never slept on his back... ever.  So attempting to sleep flat on his back while attached to so many probes was simply asking too much.  At 1:30AM the technician came in, turned on the lights and started talking to Peter.  I figured it must be 7AM and time for the study to end.  But I stumbled over only to find out that Peter had been awake for some time by that point and the tech was coming in to check on him.  My comfy cot (not), hidden behind a partition near Peter's luxury queen bed, was so uncomfortable that I really didn't mind the actual 5:15AM wake up: "Study's over."

        What may be revealed has yet to be revealed, but we will know in a few weeks whether or not Peter's restless sleep and seeming fatigue related issues are in fact symptoms of a sleep issue.  If so, we look forward to finding some way to help him get better rest at night.  If not, we can just count this as a great home school science lesson.  Peter has been asking to do more science!

        Friday, June 10, 2011

        Honoring Our Parents

        {Flashback Friday}
        My dad (Pete) with his parents Art and Peg (Margaret Mary) 

        My mom (Patty) with her parents Florence and Michael

        I am blessed with incredible parents, who received a legacy of devotion, virtue, and high standards in parenting from their own parents.  My maternal and paternal grandparents baptized and raised my mom and dad in the faith as Catholic Christians; making many sacrifices to provide Catholic educations for each of them and their siblings from first grade through college.  My parents also gave me and my siblings the gift of life and the gift of new life in baptism; with the hope of eternal life.  My parents made many sacrifices for my Catholic education, and always~every single Sunday~no-matter-what~ took our family to Church to celebrate Mass.

        Our family camping trips, skiing get-a-ways, and sailing expeditions were charted out according to landing at a location on Sunday (or Saturday night) where we could worship with our Universal Catholic Church.  What a tremendous gift to be given a living, breathing, visible, tangible faith life.  Not only did our parents prepare us for confession and First Holy Communion; but also for second, third, fourth...Holy Communions.  Celebrating the Eucharist together every Sunday (and often on weekdays) anchored our family in Christ's love.

        One of the ways I honor my father and mother (and Tim's parents likewise) is by passing on the legacy of Catholic Christian parenting they so selflessly gave us.  Our focus on a family faith life and a Catholic (home school) education for our children blesses our parents as they watch their grandchildren grow and mature in their love of Christ and His Church.   Although we can never repay our parents for the countless sacrifices they made for our benefit; nurturing our physical, spiritual, educational, and emotional needs; we can follow their example and give them the gift of honoring their legacy in how we raise our own children.

        The bar's been set pretty high, and it's only by God's grace that we hope and strive to raise up our kids for heaven.  It takes supernatural strength to stay faithful in a world begging us to take the easier, softer way toward comfort, ease, and "whatever makes us happy."  We continually ask the angels and saints to pray for us that we might keep ourselves and our children in God's name and help them daily on their path toward holiness.

        Tuesday, June 7, 2011

        Eagle Scouts {Life to Eagle}

        Now & Then
        Ryan, Zac and T; Boy Scouts, Patrol Mates, goofy teens

        T, Ryan and Zachary planting trees at BSA Camp Easton, Idaho; summer 2006

        Two of Zachary's long-time home school Scouting friends and Eagle Scouts Ryan and T, are now adults; officially 'aged-out' of Boy Scouts.  As a result, Zachary's Kentucky Fried Dragon Patrol lives on with three active members.  Of the few Scouts remaining in his patrol, Zachary is the eldest, the senior member.  Strange. How time does fly!

        Many months have passed since Zachary's Eagle project was approved by the local Eagle review board.
        The site survey seems like ages ago, as does the publicity blitz for his successful movie night fundraiser.
        GREAT NEWS: the building permit for the rectory carport has been issued!  After months of persevering with the permitting and required design modifications, and patience both on his part and on the part of the adults mentoring him, Zachary can move forward and set a date for his Eagle project!


        Saturday, June 4, 2011

        Pet Peeves {Lovable Labs}

        Rocky and Charlie sunbathing on the back deck

        You never know what might set these two off. Today a deer walking along the sidewalk across the street sent them into orbit. But it could have just as likely been a neighbor's cat or a squirrel in a nearby tree. When the tandem barking begins, so does our: "NO BARK!" while someone runs for the vinegar spray bottle, known as the "bad dog" remedy. Usually the barking stops long before we actually find the bottle, let alone use it.

        Double barking is OBNOXIOUS, and having an extremely noise sensitive backyard neighbor with the local animal control authority on his quick dial means we stay on high alert for the least bit of barking. This particular neighbor is so sound sensitive, he once called to complain about our dogs barking when we were over 300 miles away, with the dogs!  (Needless to say, he was caught slightly off guard when we informed him that we were in another state; yet he insisted that perhaps someone had come onto our property with dogs that look and sound JUST LIKE ours.)

        Loyal, playful, energetic, and slightly unpredictable, these pets make great companions and dependents for our boys.  Feeding, exercising, scooping and cleaning up after messes is part of the boys' daily routine.  Mostly Peter for Rocky and Joseph for Charlie, but with plenty of help from Ezra and Zachary, these dogs need constant attention and upkeep.  This time of year, the dog owning duties include daily grooming in a feeble attempt to keep the shedding volume down to a dull roar.  Near daily vacuuming to collect dog hair goes without saying.  

        Having two veterinarians in the family helps with the upkeep and diagnosis of unpredictable ailments and life threatening situations:
        • whole corn on the cob ingesting (suspected due to circumstantial evidence; discovered surgically & removed; can cause life threatening blockage if undetected)
        • dental decay (and necessary removal of rotten teeth)
        • irritable bowel syndrome (surgically diagnosed; requires prescription diet and special meds)
        • happy tail (recurring blood blister on the tip of the tail, aggravated each time the wild tail wagging begins, and casting blood speckles everywhere)
        All in all, these lovable labs are worth all the trouble, messes, and even the noise (and noise complaints).