Friday, July 29, 2011

Amazing Cruisers {Biking Fanatics}

My dad's cousin, Steve, his wife Lynn, and their friends at the conclusion of a 1,600 mile ride.

It's not every day our house is the destination for a multi-state bicycle tour.  In fact, this is a first!
My dad's cousin, Steve, organized and led a 6 person/1,600 mile bike tour (self sustained) from California to the Canadian border (Sumas), and completed the tour on our front lawn.  Four overnight biker-campers on our playroom floor, and many adults with helping hands for all the little ones; our house was transformed into hostel-nursery.  

Inspired by their athleticism and tenacity, we can only hope that we will be as active and inspired to recreate when we are their age (which we almost are, really).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wild Ride {Fostering Twins +1}

Leia whacks her twin brother Luke with a clean spoon which he worked hard to pull out of the dishwasher; only to have it swiped from his hands and smacked against his skull.

Luke pulls up and creeps; Leia only sits and crawls (and howls to be held).

Awakened by tandem screaming at 5:45AM, yesterday launched what would amount to a marathon-2day event in our early foster family experience.  Normally quiet until at least 6AM, the twins were not about to settle down and go back to sleep, so up we all rose to meet their needs; the noise level prevented anyone from sleeping.  Nothing much would console the pair, and the howling and complaining was only slightly subdued by bottles and a bit of breakfast mush.  Something just wasn't right.  By 3PM the diagnosis confirmed the suspicion: dual double ear infections.  We loaded lots of amoxicillin into our refrigerator after an interesting session at our local pharmacy.  Let's hope their pain is eased and their rest is peaceful...

Add to the household discontentment factor: Tony, sick (again) with a fever, runny nose and coughing, needing more than a fair share of attention while in recovery mode (understandably, but never-the-less burdensome).   Another 2 hour session (twins strapped in a double stroller, cajoled with snacks and wrappers and pacing loops through the halls during lengthy waits) at the doctor's office today including a visit to the chest x-ray machine helped diagnose probable pneumonia in one of Tony's lungs.  Added more Amoxicillin to the fridge; hoping his illness will soon be healed...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Campers Return

Bridget, Zachary, Tim, Peter, and Joseph at Camp Pigott during a rare sun-break.

What a joy to have the guys back home from summer camp, with their bags full of soggy gear and stories galore of the (wet) adventures had at Camp Pigott. 

Tim and Mike, fearless Scout leaders; survivors.


Joseph, terrified that the pause for photo will keep the (stern) shooting range master waiting too long.

Range master with Joseph, validating his "dime club" results at the rifle shooting range.
Great marksmanship, Joseph!

Peter reloads.
After their return, a letter from Camp Pigott arrived in the mail box.  My sweet Joseph had taken the initiative to pack a stamped envelope along to camp, and made time to write me a letter.  A simple gesture, which touched my heart and brought me great joy.   In his own words:
Summer camp has been mostly good. I was a waiter on day one on Monday and I didn't like being waiter very much...but enough complaining.  I am doing canoeing 1st period and C.O.P.E. 2nd and 3rd period.   We got to go up on high C.O.P.E.! It was scary, so I wasn't there very long.  I got second in the triathlon (swim, run, canoe).  I beat the third place guy by a foot.  Peter got seventh.  God bless. I love you. ~Joseph

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Wet Can Summer Camp Get?

Wetter than you might bet!
Caleb, Canon and Zac strategize under the tarp on a rainy day at Camp Pigott.

Returning from a five mile hike, Peter warms (and dries) by the fire.

Peter's still smiling through the shivers...

At the sight of a glimpse of blue sky, the Scouts began to chant and cheer.

Tim attempts to dry out his rain pants after a soggy hike at summer camp.

Extreme conditions call for extreme measures...

"Could that be BLUE sky?" Joseph dares to hope.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Home Sick {Summer Camp Blues}

Zac sleeps out on a recent troop camp out in Leavenworth.

Imagine my surprise when Zachary appeared on the front doorstep this afternoon!  Unfortunately ill 3 days into BSA summer camp, he came home to rest and recover.  That makes 3 of us who have fallen to the flu-like illness which is going around these parts.  It's an odd time of year for a stomach flu to sweep through town, but it's making our rainy, stormy summer complete.

"They are just getting over the flu..."  famous last words of the placement-social worker on the day Luke & Leia were placed in our care... but by the (growing) roster of those who have come down with intestinal sickness since their arrival, it would be safe to assume that at least one of them was still contagious upon joining our family.  Not to cast blame, rather to take a note for possible future foster pre-placement Q&A.

Note to self:
Please add "Have they been symptom free for 24 hours?" to standard inquiries regarding future foster placements...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bye Bye Big Boys {BSA Summer Camp}

While packing for summer camp, Peter tries to convince "Tony" to play the silence game.

An annual adventure, today Boy Scout summer camp begins for Zachary, Joseph, Peter and Tim.  All the packing, preparing and planning finally gave way to the actual experience, and what an experience Boy Scout summer camp can be:
  • Zachary anticipates joining the ranks of BSA Lifeguard, requiring a full time commitment at the camp's waterfront.  A text message on his ride to camp read: "oops I forgot my Speedo" but he was wearing a new set of standard swim trunks so he'll probably manage.
  • Joseph, patrol leader for the Burning Bullfrogs, is excited to spend this week at COPE, now that he's finally old enough for the awesome high climbing course.  He is also the troop historian, so he's prepared with a camera, extra batteries and 2G memory card.
  • Peter will work on the canoe and swimming merit badges and on First Class Scout skills. He will lead the new Erupting Eagle patrol as their patrol leader. 
  • Tim and the other adult leaders will be tracking and supervising the Scouts and sitting for several Scoutmaster conferences as the boys attempt to advance in rank.
With a fresh buzz cut for summer camp, Joseph carries his patrol flag pole to the vehicle.

Although I made plans for "Tony" which would have allowed me to follow the caravan to camp and stay for the first 24 hours, I was stricken with a terrible flu-like illness yesterday; plus our new "Luke & Leia" foster twin placements caused my plans to change quite suddenly and dramatically.  So instead of rowdy camp songs and a not-so-bug-proof shelter, I'm doing double high chair, double diaper, double bath, and double child-proofing duty.  "Tony" is off on his one night respite visit with his former foster family, probably enjoying a break from all the chaos of the past few days.

Slightly scruffy, but ready for his seventh BSA summer camp, Zac heads to the car.

Saying goodbye to the boys (and in a special way, Peter, for his first-ever week at Scout Camp) was a tear-jerker.  I lament the fact that I can't go along, yet am at peace knowing that I am needed here in an altogether new and unexpected way. 
1/4 of the troop's summer camp crew, ready for the rendezvous and summer camp departure.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Displaced for Charity {New Foster Placement}

From teen den to twin haven in under two hours: priceless

An urgent placement request yesterday involving 11 month old twins gave our family an opportunity to be of service to the homeless.  Tim and I discussed it, and agreed to meet with our boys to come to a family consensus before committing.  Peter jumped at the idea, thrilled at the thought; Joseph groaned, but consented with a "no changing diapers" clause.  Zachary's answer was wise, "It's not really my choice to make. I am willing, but don't expect a lot of babysitting."  Fair enough.

Zachary's sacrifice involved more than meets the eye: his bedroom was the only suitable place to set up two cribs on the same floor as our master bedroom as the law requires.  In an extreme act of charity, Zac gave up his bedroom.  In a little over two hours he dissembled his bed and moved almost all his belongings downstairs and helped set up the cribs.  This generosity is not in any way out of character, but it is heartwarming to see our nearly 17 year old son so willing to give up his own comfort zone (in more ways than one) for the sake of needy strangers.

Charlie hangs out with Zac in his temporary shelter.

Loving friends delivered a crib, car seat, and high chair which they (quite suddenly) did not need anymore when their foster child was relocated with a family member.  A Craigslist seller willingly delivered and assembled a second crib within an hour.  Phone and email offers of clothes, toys, equipment and even a dinner for our family poured in within minutes of a request for help on the local CatholicMoms e-group.

A rough night, with several wakings and one lasting over an hour (with screaming) has left us a bit fuzzy today.  Peter hopped out of bed at 6:30AM to offer assistance with bottles and diaper changes.
We still have plans to worship at our usual daily Mass, expecting that we could spend most of the time in the way back.  Already several moms have offered to assist us so we can be there as always.  Time will tell!  This morning nap is precious...

Sleeper boy

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Industrious {Working Boys}

Joseph and Peter manufacture fire starters, an annual summer-time tradition.

The history of our boys' family business, chartered by Zachary many years ago is here.
Peter's on duty today, working the crowds at the Edmonds Saturday Market.  His set goal is $50, but he will likely double that.  This entrepreneurship will help Peter fulfill a new requirement for Boy Scouts 2nd Class Rank:

  • Earn an amount of money agreed upon by you and your parent, then save at least 50 percent of that money.

Ready for packaging, freshly made fire starters

Peter's profits will be divided with Joseph, his co-producer, with the remaining earnings put into his bank account.  Of their own accord, the boys have always been very generous in making donations at Church and to other non-profit organizations.  Over the years, their earnings have helped them purchase new bikes, season's passes for skiing, and gifts for their friends.  

In his years of selling fire starters, Zachary was able to save enough money to go halves with us on very expensive contacts (CRT lenses).  Zac's goal was simple: to get the glasses off his face.  Our goal was to help make sure the real expense of the contacts meant something to him, in the hopes that he would take good care of the lenses and not take them for granted.  Zac still has that same pair of contacts to this day!  Our home school lessons in earning, saving, tithing and spending are well worth all the effort.  Even if the driveway is covered in waxy droppings.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Revealed to the Childlike

Celebrating in style: Elijah and his find (abandoned dessert container)
Samuel at the spigot, ready to fill a water balloon.

P with her ice cream cone
Evidence of dessert, written all over his face!
At that time Jesus exclaimed: "I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will."  Mt 11:25-26
One of the most amazing, holy places we visited while on our family pilgrimage in Italy recently, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme introduced us to Antonietta Meo (+1937), buried there.  Affectionately known as Nennolina, this little child of God died at the tender age of six.  Her letters to Jesus speak the simple, profound faith of the pure soul of a little child, openly in love with her creator and Lord:
"Dear Jesus Eucharist, I am so very, very happy that you have come into my heart.  Never leave my heart, stay for ever and ever with me.  Jesus I love you so, I want to let myself go in your arms and do what you will with me... O loving Jesus, give me souls, give me a great many!...."  Venerable Antonietta Meo, in a letter to Jesus
Would that we could all live with the awe and wonder God placed in our hearts for loving Him at the moment of our creation.  If only the clamors, distractions and chaos of our noisy world didn't so easily change our focus and redirect our attention and truest affection.  If only we could love like the little ones! 

Did you know that today's Gospel reading (Matthew 11:25-30) was THE Gospel reading in every single Catholic Church across the globe today?  Our universal Church celebrates the same Mass, everywhere all over the world each and every day.  How awesome is that?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Berry Competition {Strawberry Pickin'}

Finding bizarre shaped berries always brings a smile (or a smirk).
Side by side, Joseph and Peter fill their buckets at the strawberry u-pick farm.

The spirit of competition follows this pair in berry picking, too.

Someone's very first time picking strawberries!
Happy with his catch

Peter the super-processor, helps put up 78 pounds of strawberries.

An annual delight, our berry picking season has begun.  First come strawberries (a bit late this year), then raspberries, then blueberries and blackberries.   Our favorite u-pick farms are all within about a 20 minute drive.  On picking day #1, within only an hour of picking, Peter, Joseph and I amassed our first haul: 78 pounds of strawberries.   Four batches of jam and many bags of whole frozen berries later, we're ready to bring the next batch home.