Sunday, October 30, 2011

Monastery Retreat {Westminster Abbey, BC}

Joseph, Peter and Zachary at Westminster Abbey, Mission, BC, Canada

Recently our nuclear family of 5 escaped to a foreign country for a much needed two-day retreat at Westminster Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery in Mission, BC.  We coordinated respite care for the three little ones, leaving Ezra to care for house and pets and encouraging him again to get a passport for freedom to travel. 

Tim and the boys on a campus stroll with Father Peter, heading toward the seminarians' street hockey zone. 

Father Peter plays the harp for us in his office at Christ the King Seminary, Mission, BC, Canada.

Last year our family retreat at the monastery occurred just before the start of school, but this year we visited while the seminaries were in session.  Our boys accepted invitations to attend seminary classes for a day.  Peter and Joseph sat in with the eighth grade boys for religion, math, history, language arts, science, voice, and PE.  Peter greatly enjoyed the classroom experience (his first ever).   Zachary attended college seminary metaphysics, ethics, and sociology; with metaphysics being his top pick.

Joseph, Zachary and Peter dish up supper in the guesthouse dining hall at Westminster Abbey, BC.

The monks' hospitality surpassed any four star hotel, and we scored the bishops' room; a corner suite  with a sitting parlour.  We were fed like kings (plus queen), eating family style in the guesthouse dining room.  At every meal, one monk would join us as the host and server.  We greatly enjoyed their company and learned all sorts of interesting things during meals.  Over supper we discovered that one of Father Basil's nieces had attended Catholic grade school with Tim.  Small world!

Joseph, Peter, Tim and Zachary with the church steeple/bell tower looming

A gorgeous environment of prayerful peace, the monastery settles the soul.  Chanted Psalms at prayer times in the church, early morning Mass, melodious bells summoning us to praise God and worship with the monks... What a breath of fresh air for our family!

Saint Benedict,
Pray for us!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Patrol Leader {Peter}

Peter helps Cameron light the candles at the opening of the Court of Honor

Peter and the Erupting Eagle patrol receive their merit badges and other awards from the SPL and (sub) ASPL
Peter shows Joseph the hovercraft he built with Tim and Grandpa Cliff for a patrol outing Friday night.

The first patrol leader for the newly formed Erupting Eagle Patrol, Peter's term is winding down.  Peter led the patrol for the past six months, including at summer camp.  His leadership skills have improved, as have his communication skills and phone manners. 

The highlights of his term will include earning National Honor Patrol, and building a hovercraft for a patrol outing.  The hovercraft idea has been brewing in his mind for many months, and due to Tim's genius, and willingness, the dream became a reality in Grandpa's shop.  

Like so many wild (boy) ideas, I just shake my head and think, "What in the world?"  But Tim loves a good challenge and bringing visions into actuality is one of his strong-suits.  Exhibit A: the hovercraft.

This thing MOVES!  They built two hovercrafts so that the patrol members could race and chase (and crash) on the large, smooth floor in the meeting hall.  Apparently it was a huge hit and a great time was had by all.

Go figure!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Room for Improvement {Room Switch}

Tim and Peter with 'Tony,' 'Luke' & 'Leia' at bedtime

Joseph's request (greatest wish) to move Tony's toddler bed into the twins' bedroom was granted recently.  Tony hasn't been an easy roommate for Joseph and Peter these past four months: awakening many times in the night, sleep talking, sleep walking, very early rising, wet nights, wet pj's left on the carpet, curious hands grabbing special (off limits) objects, and so on.  Let's just say Joseph had come to the end of his rope and needed to reclaim his special space. 

Many years ago Joseph agreed to share his bedroom with Peter, and the beautiful handcrafted bunk bed given by Grandpa Cliff sealed the deal.  Their willingness to make room for a four year old foster brother, Tony, when he was placed with us in June truly was an act of charity and sacrifice.  Yes, ultimately we could have just forced them to accept a new roommate, but the fact that they willingly and excitedly made a space for him (Joseph even emptied a dresser drawer to share) is heartwarming.

Relocating Tony to the five and under room (formerly known as Zac's room) cleared the air and allowed a little return to normal for Joseph and Peter.  For the most part it is working out very well, and the little ones enjoy have a bigger boy in their zone.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Swimmer of the Month {Zac}

Zachary = September Swimmer of the Month

Zachary re-joined the club swim team last spring to train and prepare for his senior varsity swim season this winter.   Passionate and determined to improve his times and techniques, Zac's taken up residence at the local pool, working out twice a day on many days.  Praise came his way this week in the form of 'swimmer of the month' award.  Sweet job, Zachary!

Photo above and award write-up below from the BBST webpage.

Zac stepped up and filled a leadership role that was missing at the beginning of the season. His attendance was the highest of any BBST athlete during September. Zac is one of the first swimmers in the water each day. He leads by example, working hard, being respectful of the staff and the facility, and exemplifying what it means to be a ‘Blackfish’.

Zac has shown how attendance directly correlates to results, as he is swimming close to his best times in practice each week. His confidence is growing, his technique is improving, and he has been doing an amazing job.

Zac is on track for a very successful year. It is easy to predict his success, as he is working hard every day, attending practice, and actively working to improve.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Through Grief Into Action {3 Tremendous Catholic Mothers}

Anna's family~Sam, Rob, Alice, and Melissa, with Tim 
Presentation of the Family of the Month Award
(News release below)

Turning tragedy into inspiration and positive change, Anna's family is coordinating an effort to improve awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, the cause of little Anna's sudden death while crossing a sidewalk last year.  A new foundation established in Anna's honor will benefit from a Lake Padden walk and a half marathon on October 22, 2011.  Come out and join the walk or run if you're in the neighborhood and need a little exercise for a great cause!   Super-great news from Anna's family: they are expecting a new baby in the spring!!!  Please pray for a healthy pregnancy and safe birthing.

My dear friend Aileen, whose daughter Lucy died of SIDS almost ten years ago, turned her energy toward teaching how to protect infants during sleep and providing comfort and support to families affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  She now serves as the President on the Northwest Infant Survival & SIDS Alliance Board of Trustees. AWESOME.  But she might miss the annual auction... because SHE'S EXPECTING and will likely be giving birth around that very date in November!!
More prayer requests here...

Another dear friend and heroic mother of manyAnn Marie, continues to inspire me with her courage and unbelievable ministry to many despite the loss of her daughter Gianna; born on Tim's birthday almost one year ago, and died on my birthday two weeks later.  Ann Marie's experience with being a foster mom has proved to be an invaluable resource for me in these past few months.  Is she ever quick to reply to my various e-cries for help!  Add more prayers...

The following news release was sent to the Knights of Columbus State Bulletin and to Columbia:


Bellingham Council 829 presented the Family of the Month Award and a $1,000 scholarship check to Brother Robert Brulotte, his wife Melissa, and their children Alice and Sam at a ceremony October 11.

The presentation was made just a year after the tragic death of the Brulottes' two-year-old daughter Anna.  Little Anna was killed when she was crossing a street next to Assumption Catholic School September 30, 2010.  A speeding car slammed into the rear of a stopped car which was waiting for Melissa and her three children to cross.  The stopped auto then hit Anna, who was killed instantly, and her mother, who was seriously injured.  Alice and Sam were unharmed.

In the past year, the Brulottes have established a memorial fund and a program to increase driver awareness.  A fund-raising marathon and walk, to be held October 22, has as its goal to increase drivers' attention, especially when pedestrians are present.   The family also is very active in the school and parish. 

The annual scholarship will help pay tuition for the two Brulotte children until they graduate from Assumption School, then will be given to other deserving students.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mission Accomplished {Ezra Cooks}

Prep cooking team:
Ezra on garlic; Joseph on ginger
Ezra and the wok~ stir frying chicken

Dinner is served!

Ezra's chicken yakisoba stir-fry

It took two days to complete the project, but Ezra accomplished the required class make-up activity.  Dicing and slicing consumed all of day 1; and probably all 2.5 hours of required make-up time.  However, the teacher's instructions were to prepare a family meal, record all the ingredients and processes and provide comment cards for each person at the table.  And today, Ezra brought home the bacon, so to speak.
A delightful chicken yakisoba dinner was enjoyed by all.  Most comment cards came back with 5 stars, so clearly Ezra's meal was a crowd-pleaser.  To top it off, Ezra completely cleaned the kitchen and put away (almost) all the food.  His write-up may not win any awards for legibility, but it's evidence of a job well done.

As an aside: Tim's pretty sure Ezra won't be willingly missing any more school days at the culinary arts vocational training.

Friday, October 7, 2011


--- 1 ---

To the untrained eye, this might seem like an insignificant pile of dirt... but to anyone who's been following Zachary's Eagle Project for the past few years, you'll understand this is HUGE NEWS:  Zachary broke ground this week on the rectory carport project!  He and Tim hope to meet with the architect and a volunteer builder this weekend to discuss launching the project and make a plan for moving forward.  In other Zac news, he's recruited several of his swim team buddies to give role playing a go.  Their first session (rolling for characters) took place in the bathroom at the pool, and apparently got lots of thumbs' up on someone's Facebook page.  Clever.
--- 2 ---

Tim opened a new music shop this month, and the publicity launch is now in full swing.  Sunday night's Locals Only show on KISM will be sponsored by Checkmate Music, and new store manager's local band will headline the show, giving an extra plug for our new business.  The foot traffic has been slow so far, but the place is packed with instruments and accouterments for musicians of all types.  This new venture brings Tim's total to three businesses: two pawn shops and one music store.  Tim's entrepreneurial genius never ceases to amaze me!
--- 3 ---
With a flair for decorating, a great sense of anticipation for All Hallows' Eve, and a genuine love for holidays, Joseph found the "Halloween" box in the garage and took it upon himself to deck out the house.   His room received special treatment, with blackened windows, a green light bulb, and hanging spiders.  Unfortunately, the dark room made it impossible for him to locate his black dress shoes in time to be an altar server at First Friday Mass today.  The early car, driven my Zac, left before Joseph could make a match, so he wore casual shoes and opted to help me with the twins during Mass instead of serving at the altar (his loss was my gain).
--- 4 ---
Ezra's super fast run at Wednesday's meet landed him in the top 7 on  his varsity cross country team, and put him in a scoring position.  He had a mix-up with his two schools' overlapping schedules this week, causing him to miss classes at the technical school on a day when he didn't actually have any classes at the high school (half day).  His culinary arts teacher called to let us know that to make up the day's absence Ezra needs to do one of two things:
  • cook for the family, recording all the recipes & ingredients and providing each member with customer comment cards to review the meal; or
  • watch 2.5 hours of cooking shows on TV and write a full report of every ingredient used and all the names of the chefs and their recipes
For the average high school student this would seem to be a reasonable exercise to make up for a missed class (2.5 hrs), but for Ezra the effort required to complete this requirement will  likely equal a missed week of school. 

--- 5 ---
Peter's favorite 6th grade home school course: taking care of the twins.  His assistance with the babies is invaluable; his love for them so tender.  From the early morning diaper changes and breakfast feeds, to walking practice and climbing games, Peter is my best helper ever with the twins.   In other subjects: his math skills are steadily improving, as are his spelling and writing skills; his new schedule has proven to be nearly impossible, but still a great inspiration for accomplishing a full day's academics.  Peter's soccer team hasn't celebrated many victories this season, but they are growing both as athletes and as sportsmen.  Peter's playing goalie on rotation, and has scored and assisted several goals as an offensive player as well.

--- 6 ---
On a whim, Peter and I made a 300+ mile round trip journey to University Place for a weeknight birthday dinner honoring my mom, and Godson/nephew, Niko.  My sister Molly cooked an incredible meal with stuffed pork chops and the yummy dessert featured frosted pumpkin bars.  My grandma was there, with my aunt and uncle; also Peter's cousins, including Lilly, whom we haven't seen for over two years.  Such a great opportunity to be together, if briefly, to celebrate Mom's and Niko's birthdays.  Mom's fabulous holiday decorations never cease to amaze me.  Apparently mom's decorating gene skipped a generation, and Joseph inherited it.
--- 7 ---
I accepted an invitation to launch a new blog at and named it Discerning Daily.  Now I have somewhere special to share the daily joys, trials and amazing gifts of our faith journey.  What a blessing!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

St. Francis of Assisi

Fresco from Assisi, Italy: St. Clare and St. Francis honor our Blessed Mother Mary

I've accepted an invitation to launch another blog @Catholicdaily, and today my first post "Through the Fog" made headlines!  Titled Discerning Daily, my other blog will focus on ways we can grow closer to God and learn to follow his plan for our lives.   If you're interested, come check it out!

Saint Francis of Assisi,

Pray for us!