Monday, July 30, 2012

Tail Wagging Injury {Charlie the Labrador}

Joseph tends to Charlie's tail injury
Q: What to do when your lab wags his tail so hard that it bleeds?  And the furiously wagging, bleeding tip of the tail sprays everything and everyone with dog blood?

A:  Put him in the cone, wash the tail injury with soap and water and store him in his kennel for a few days while the injury heals.  Wipe blood off the walls, furniture, windows and family members.

Easier said than done, but done none the less..

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Victorious Scouts {Summer Camp Competitors}

Boy Scouts prepared to compete in the famed Camp Parsons Hullabaloo Relay
Operating on a long-standing troop tradition based on the theory that nothing intimidates the competition like body paint, our Boy Scouts (including 3 from our home) brushed up before the culminating relay and camp-wide games at Camp Parsons.  Their super hero themed team, composed of Captain America, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Batman, the Flash, Ironman, Aquaman, iRun men, and the Annoying Orange took center stage and dominated the event on land and on the sea.
Peter brings home the swimming leg of the Hullabaloo Relay, in first place by a body length.
Captain America takes off with the lead and the baton as the troop's speed walker.
Octopus Cup Champions
All-Bowron Canoe Crew takes the lead
The remaining canoes attempt to set a straight course, well behind our champion paddlers.
The Octopus Cup canoe competition wasn't really even fair, given that all four of our troop's paddlers (including two from our home) had powered the Bowron Lake circuit last summer, an 85 mile loop in the wilds of British Columbia.  Before most of the other teams had figured out how to paddle in a straight line, our guys were completing the loop.  The second place canoe came in about five minutes after ours.  The head lifeguard commented that this crew of ours had the fastest Octopus Cup finish in the seven years he's worked at Camp Parsons.

Scoutmaster Golf
On a much lighter note, but with some serious golfing success by our own Mr. M, the troop's adult leaders competed in the Scoutmaster Golf tournament.  Swinging home-made clubs and wearing knickers, the wiffle balls were launched in many different directions, including a full overhead loop by Tim (see video below).  This, too, takes talent!
Scoutmaster Tim competes with his t3-iron, custom made by Zachary

Friday, July 20, 2012

Becoming Irish {Countdown to Notre Dame}

Joseph, Zachary and Peter at Sacred Heart
In one month, Zachary will have a new address, and we will drive back toward home on our first full day without our oldest son, as his life at the University of Notre Dame as a member of the class of 2016 begins.  A resident of Knott Hall, Zachary will form new friendships and join a pseudo family of sorts with whom he will spend his days and nights, meals and Masses during his freshman year.

Zac and Angus as dueling Leprechauns

Irish swag given to Zac by his Irish Godmother at graduation
Prior to Zachary's departure, a few things to keep us busy include:
  • Notre Dame swag, check
  • Contact new roommate, check
  • Jump through mandatory hoops, including, but not limited to:
    • physical exam and proof of vaccinations, check
    • complete online alcohol awareness course, almost check
    • transcript with final grades, check
    • first tuition payment... almost check
  • Set departure date and itinerary for the family road trip to Notre Dame, check
  • Pray without ceasing, check!
Godfather-Uncle Peter and Godmother Aileen with a silly Zachary at graduation
Your prayers welcomed, encouraged and appreciated.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All About the Pier {Camp Parsons}

Camp Parsons' pier leap at low tide falls under the maxim "don't try this at home, kids!"  In fact, it probably falls under the "don't try this at Scout Camp, kids!"  For although our troop had special permission to take the leap during free time one afternoon {coinciding with a lower than normal tide}, the activity was quickly brought to a halt after the camp director arrived on the scene and had a quiet discussion with the aquatics director.

Peter and Joseph jump in tandem

Scrubbing the pier as part of the troops' volunteer service to the camp, they endeared themselves to the aquatics director who told them it had been at least seven years since the pier had been scrubbed.  The guys asked for permission to come back during their free troop-time and take the pier leap.  Permission granted, they arrived in full force and those willing to take the leap lined up at the very end of the legendary pier. Tim opted out of the activity and offered to photograph the event from a rowboat, allowing for these great shots looking from water level up to the launch site.

Peter, Zachary and Joseph warm up after a leap or two.

Pier leaps are a big attraction at Camp Parsons, and careful attention to the tides and water levels below the pier ensure that the activity is safe.  All who participate in any aquatics activities at any Scout camp have to pass a thorough swim test and follow strict buddy rules and check-in, check-out procedures. 

The pier alone would provide a great reason to visit Camp Parsons.  It is a one of a kind experience and one worth repeating, which helps to explain why our Scouts vote time and again to go back to Camp Parsons on the salty waters of Puget Sound.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Odd Jobs {Working Boys}

Joseph and Judah suit up for work.
Their lucrative fire starters business has been the bread-winning strategy of our working boys for about a decade.  Together they made, marketed and sold hundreds of these little flammable creations over the past 10 summers, as side-kicks to Grandpa Cliff's booth at the Saturday Market in Edmonds.  Grandpa's high end woodworking creations take center stage, and the boys' fire starters, made with the sawdust from his shop are displayed by our young entrepreneurs off to the side.  Quite a worthy little business plan, and one that has financed such purchases as Zachary's CRT contact lenses, many season passes at Mt. Baker, and a mountain bike to name a few.  The profits have been shared with worthy charities throughout the years, as our boys learn to give back and be generous with their income.

Joseph on the job
Unlike our fire starters summers of old, this summer has become the summer of man-power.  The boys have accepted many offers of employment for neighbors, friends, and our businesses to help keep lawns mowed, weeds whacked and plants watered.  Additionally, they have a regular job helping an elderly neighbor with her recycling and garbage chores, one for which they would gladly volunteer and have many times attempted to refuse payment unsuccessfully.  Their physical strength is put to the test in some of these gigs, and others bring the relative ease and freedom of driving a mowing machine.  Their friends, too, have been included in some wage-earning work parties, which only makes the toil more enjoyable.
Judah earning his way
Joseph drives the mower.
Tim trains Peter in the use of the powerful weed destroyer.
Not to say the fire starters business is going under... 
But for the time being, the boys are otherwise engaged in meaningful forms of employment and are continuing to learn how to manage their earnings, which makes for a great summer school course in our home school.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Calling Down Fire {New Priest}


Opening with fire, Father Altenhofen hit it out of the park Sunday in his first weekend Masses at Sacred Heart.  Father Altenhofen commenced his sermons by sharing his life-long love of Sacred Scripture and admitting that he was always known as a "religious little character."  Father conveyed his particular fascination with the prophets, heroes from his youth. The image of the Prophet Elijah calling down fire upon the soaking wet altars in the 'prove your God' contest against the false prophets of Baal inspired and intrigued Father as a young boy.

"I knew this was the business for me!" Father exclaimed, revealing the first promptings toward his call to the priesthood from the early age of seven flowing from his relationship with the Word.  He reminded us that the roles of priest, prophet and king were conferred upon each one of us at our baptism. He exhorted each of us to courageously take up our role as a prophet in our daily lives, giving hope to the hopeless and rebuking wickedness while always sharing the love of Christ.  As a prophet represents God in the midst of the world, so are we to be the light of Christ as we fulfill the particular mission given to us by God.  Reminding us to be like St. Paul, who lived out his difficult ministry by relying upon God's grace, with which all things are possible, Father Altenhofen gave us quite a powerful pep talk.

Each hearing a call to the priesthood in his childhood and showing his profound reverence for the Holy Eucharist, our new priest and our outgoing priest have much in common.  Continuing to keep the confessional open for an hour daily, Fr. Altenhofen takes care of our souls in this sacrament of healing reconciliation as Fr. Qui Thac so lovingly did in his six years as our pastor.  This bears mentioning, as many parishes -even with thousands of registered Catholics- only hold the confessional open for one hour per week on Saturday afternoons.  We are extremely fortunate and grateful for the availability of confession at our little Church and praise God for sending us a priest willing to continue this life saving ministry despite the personal sacrifices involved.

The priestly height difference is worth mentioning, as our altar servers are learning to stretch and extend their reaches to hold the weighty Roman Missal up several inches higher for Father Altenhofen. Our new priest is off to a fine start in his ministry at Sacred Heart, and we look forward to being his students in the school of growing closer to Christ. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Independent Indeed {+6}

Moon over Bellingham Bay, July 4, 2012

This was the most independent Independence Day of my entire life, with all the family away (excepting maybe the July 4th I spent in Brisbane, Australia, in 1990).  Dear friends from Church invited me to spend the holiday evening aboard their vessel, moored on Bellingham Bay, where I was treated to a delicious dinner, delightful company and amazing views.  What a needed and appreciated break from Charlie's incessant 4th of July berzerk barking. {Spoiler Alert} Though I departed for home before the city's grand fire works display, the lunar lights visible at sundown beat any man-made production hands down. True beauty, something to celebrate!
Catholics Come Home

I met the self proclaimed protégé of Martin Luther at a funeral Mass this week.  A friendly gentleman introduced himself, "I'm just like Martin Luther; I used to be Catholic."   I replied with the same greeting I would extend to Mr. Luther himself, should he wander into our Church for Mass, "Welcome home."

Father Joseph Altenhofen preaches at a funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Only one person passed out during our new priest's first funeral Mass at our Church, and she recovered in no time with a little fresh air and a drink of cold water, plus a lot of TLC from one of our dear nurses and home-bound ministers, Sheila.  Not long after her loss of consciousness, another elderly lady in the congregation asked me for some water.  This is what happens when the temperature creeps into the low 70's here in Washington State, we just can't take the heat.

I don't know how to read our new priest's sign language yet, and this led to another pretty embarrassing-sacristan-moment fine opportunity to grow in humility.  I completely missed Father Joseph's cue when he signaled to me that someone had passed out in the pew.  Somehow I interpreted this to mean that he needed the sanctuary (absurd!).  I can't believe I actually raced around to the sacristy and approached the presider's chair during the responsorial psalm.  By that time, the fainting lady had already been aided by several competent, attentive and timely helpers, and escorted to the narthex to recover.  (When I told the guys this story upon their return from camp, it was almost more than my Joseph could bear to hear, "Stop!" he begged.  It's safe to say he's very glad he missed this fine moment in the life of his impetuous mother.)
Luke on wheels

Although my three boys were away at Boy Scout Camp this week, with Tim as Scoutmaster, I had the pleasure of keeping our weekly Luke & Leia visit on Thursday.  I took the twins for a visit to the Baker's Dozen and Apollo XIV headquarters.  Our arrival there wasn't nearly as exciting for the older boys as when my guys (their preferred guests) pile out of the van, but the younger females in the crew joyfully helped Luke & Leia feel right at home.  Someone took the opportunity to compliment me on the fact that Leia's shoes matched, but I couldn't take credit for it, as their mother had brought them all ready to go. 

Someone brought me freshly picked flowers this week!  In a moment of pure sweet-ness, and not-prompted by anyone as far as I know, Luke (almost 2 yrs.) wandered up to me while we were visiting Apollo's place and brought me a little butter cup AND a tiny daisy.  Too cute.  

Paul with the grilled delicacies
Admittedly spoiled by my daily Mass friends while the boys were away this week, I was an invited guest at a dinner party held in a local palace with a view of the world.  A humble hostess, my friend absolutely set the mark for a hostesses' how-to.  Unfortunately, I forgot my notepad, so I'm going to need to go back sometime soon for another training session!

Visit Jen for this week's pile of awesome Quick Takes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sharing Views {Independence Day 2012}

The stunning view at BSA Camp Parsons
The view at home

Charlie, Rocky and I are on retreat this week, while Zachary, Joseph, Peter and Tim enjoy BSA summer camp at Camp Parsons on the Olympic Peninsula.  Camp Parsons is known as a true gem in the Scout Camp world, and boasts of having the longest pier of any BSA camp.  My dad camped at Parsons in his Boy Scout years, and will be visiting the guys at camp this week.  Considering how much fun Scout camp with the guys can be, my role as dog sitter almost amounts to a sentence of house arrest.  But I am grateful for the chance to enjoy a bit of quiet time at home (between barks), and may even finish a whole book!

Headlines from summer camp:
  • Troop perilously close to running out of candy (given away as fun awards).
  • Joseph is suffering a very sore throat.
  • Zachary got a good night's sleep.
  • Peter is having the time of his life.
  • Tim's tent is next to some nocturnally boisterous Scouts from Texas.
  • The dining hall is packing campers in like sardines.
Headlines from home:
  • Dogs ecstatic to see Bridget shift in chair, both jump up and start wagging tails hysterically.
  • Charlie barks incessantly and furiously at every exploding firework on Independence Day.
  • Pigeons get food and water daily.
  • All household appliances (except coffee maker and refrigerator) take the week off.
  • A new post up at Discerning Daily (which should probably be renamed Discerning Quarterly).
Looking forward to the boys' return from camp
Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Anne Margaret {Reborn in Baptism}

Anne Margaret seems to know something very important is about to take place.

Anne Margaret is presented to the priest for baptism.

Answering our Lord's call to 'bring the little children to me,' Anne Margaret's parents, Michael and Daphne, brought her to the waters of baptism and to full Christian initiation at their Byzantine Catholic Church Sunday evening.  Anne Margaret's sacramental moments were precious, and I was blessed to be invited to the Divine Liturgy at which she became a fully initiated Catholic Christian.  She handled the whole experience very well, and radiated the light of Christ in full glory.

Anne Margaret is reborn in the waters of baptism!
Godmother Teresa hands newly baptized Anne Margaret to her mother, Daphne.
Anne Margaret is anointed with the sacred chrism oil; confirmed in her new faith by the sacrament of Chrismation (confirmation).  

Anne Margaret receives her First Holy Communion in her mother's arms.

Anne Margaret's mom, Daphne, is one of the amazing moms from whom I gain great inspiration for my ongoing journey as a Catholic home school mom.  We are part of a loosely organized but faithfully meeting moms' group from three counties and a number of parishes representing different Catholic rites.  Learning from each others' experiences in home schooling and growing together in faith, this group of moms and their families have a very special place in my heart.  We pray with each other when we meet, pray for each other when we're apart, and with great joy celebrate the sacraments together in our Churches on such occasions as Anne Margaret's rebirth into the Body of Christ. 

Father Joseph presents Anne Margaret to her Holy Mother Mary.
After the final blessing, the servers take a collection and offer a parting gift.

A mission parish of St. John Chrysostom, the Byzantine Catholic Church's Divine Liturgy is celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church every Sunday in Mt. Vernon, WA, at 5:30PM. 

The Byzantine Church is in full communion with the Universal Catholic Church.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Golden Flute {+6}

Can you spot 'something wrong' with this picture?
It's not often we pray that a stolen golden flute would turn up at our pawn shop... but this week we did.  Our prayers were answered, and the criminal (also in our prayers) will face justice and hopefully find healing and repentance.  In a very exciting twist of fate, the solid gold flute stolen from our dear friends' car, which was smashed-during-daily-Mass, was brought in by a suspicious customer who asked $60 for the extremely rare and highly valued instrument.  The golden flute was immediately recognized by our store manager, who knew of the theft and called the authorities while delaying the transaction to allow the law to arrive and catch the criminal in the act of attempting to pawn (our friends') stolen goods.

Can you spot 'something wrong' with this picture?
After almost six months without our former foster twins living under our roof, I have completely forgotten how to pack a diaper bag (again).  On their recent stay we loaded them up after naps and headed for daily Mass with a hastily packed collection of mismatched shoes and various other items intended to keep them warm, dry, fed, and entertained (and slightly quiet).  They love our Church, and Luke, vocalist that he is, still joins in the Alleluia verse sung before the proclamation of the Gospel... and keeps singing Alleluia throughout the Gospel, and the homily...  It could be worse, he could be screaming like he ALWAYS does when we put him down for a nap.  Some habits die hard!  Another favorite passtime at Church for these extremely mobile toddlers is the 'climbing to the loft and stomping above the congregation' feat.
The usual crowd there doesn't seem to mind the added noise, and enjoys the opportunity to catch a glimpse of these two, clearly growing, developing and thriving in their mother's care.

Learning to love books, Luke and Leia sit still for Peter's dramatic reads.
When our old van almost exploded in a ball of flames en route to a family vacation in 2004, Tim's parents insisted that we were never allowed to transport their grandchildren in that vehicle e-v-e-r again.  They literally put their money where their intentions were and purchased an amazing vehicle for us to safely transport such precious cargo.  Eight years later, our Toyota Sienna is still healthy and strong, and although showing the love of so many teenage passengers, is cruising right along.  A big thanks to Grandpa Cliff and Grandma Billie for the upgrade.
Somewhat of a milestone, don't you think?

Can you spot 'something wrong' with this picture?
Zachary's crowd joined the celebration of his graduation at our house recently on one of the rainiest days in recent memory.  The guys didn't mind hanging around indoors, and have clearly grasped the concept of multi-tasking, wouldn't you say?
Let's just say, we decided it was time to sort out the enormous boot and shoe bin hidden in the garage.
I am not a big fan of shoes, but they do serve a purpose.  We let a shoe pile grow in our garage, without really paying attention to the vast quantity of outgrown and unused pairs being deposited as if to their final rest there.  The time arrived to tackle the bulging bin and our subsequent donation of many, many pairs of useful shoes and boots will soon bless the children of migrant workers being ministered to by our local NCCM 'Agape' team.

Instead of asking our kids, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" the Holy Catholic Church encourages parents to train our children to listen to the call God has placed upon their hearts and to courageously follow His lead in whatever path they take for furthering their education and entering into their particular vocations.   Most are called to married life, some to single life, some to the consecrated life and a few are called to the ordained life.  The annual "Quo Vadis"  retreat offers our boys an opportunity to grow in faith and learn about the specific nature and gift of a call to the priesthood while living/camping in community with boys from all over the Seattle Archdiocese.  This year Joseph and Zachary attended Quo Vadis together, though they were placed on opposing 'teams' for the camp-wide games and competitions ranging from Biblical dramatics to big field games like capture the flag.  Joseph's first QV Days ended in victory, as his team took top honors when the final points were tallied.  Zachary's team took second place (of 4 teams total), and the boys shared many fun memories from the 4-day experience.  Our thanks to Fr. Lappe, Fr. Olson and all the priests, seminarians (esp. Louis and Patrick) and Archbishop Sartain for their leadership and example.
Another tremendous Quo Vadis experience thanks to our amazing archdiocese (bishops, priests, seminarians) plus generous donors.

This was no easy feat.
Sometimes a clean shelf means more than meets the eye, which is certainly the case in this instance.  The never slowing stream of assorted-papers-without-a-home seem to find their way to this shelf in our living room, and unless properly tended, begin to multiply and attract papers from all over the neighborhood!  But a good sorting and filing binge served us well, and now we have a shelf worth showing off.  So there you have it, one small victory over clutter worth celebrating, or at least worth remembering.