Friday, March 30, 2012

University Calls {University of Puget Sound Campus Visit}

Visiting the old stomping grounds, the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, as the parent of a potential student seems slightly surreal.  And yet, that's my reality.  Zachary received his acceptance letter from UPS with the added bonus of a 4-year presidential scholarship, making it well worth the day trip to investigate the campus and sit in on a class.  Visiting the brick and evergreen campus where Tim and I attended undergraduate studies in the late 80's brought back fond memories for me and opened up exciting possibilities for Zachary. 

While on campus, I dropped in on my former advisor in the Communication Department, who happened to be at her desk preparing for a class.  She had no idea who I was, but it was nice to see her again and to introduce Joseph and Peter to someone who had such an impact on my life at university. 

Can you spot Zachary?

After joining an hour's talk introducing the university, we parted ways with Zachary, who spent the rest of the day touring campus, attending a class, sitting for interviews with the head of admissions and the head swim coach, as well as visiting the athletic facilities.  Joining students from California, Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon, Zachary was the lone Washingtonian in the group.  Interestingly, only two fellow visitors were admitted students; all the rest were probably juniors getting a head start on university discernment before the drop-dead decision deadlines approaching now. {Note to self: bring Joseph and Peter to visit campuses before spring of their senior year}.

Of note:
  • While touring the athletic facilities, Zachary had to laugh when the mother of a swimmer from So Cal asked in wonder, "But where is the outdoor pool?
  • While visiting the humanities class, Zachary volunteered to answer a question, "What was inside the acropolis?"
  • Next stop: WSU campus visit
  • One year ago today, we visited the Colosseum, Forum and St. Paul's burial site in Rome. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Carport Roof Takes Shape {Zac's Eagle Project}

Scout volunteers & our pastor Rev. Qui Thac Nguyen

An early morning phone call on Sunday awakened Zachary to the news that his construction-savvy-adults were not available for the rescheduled work party after all.  Rather than cancelling, Zachary rounded up other adults with know-how and forged ahead with the plans for an afternoon of sawing and hammering to place roof supports for the carport.   A big pot of chili, chips and home made cookies kept the energy levels and spirits high.

A team of Scouts and adults enjoyed the sunny Sunday outside together, with sure signs of progress to show for it.  At the close of the afternoon session, almost half of the roof supports were in place.  The carport-in-progress has already survived winds in excess of 60mph.  Another work party will soon be scheduled, following a short break for a little traveling to visit local universities.

Joseph on the hammer
Tim covered in sawdust
Peter and Mr. O hold the roof beam in place.
Joseph: not hiding from work, but from the ever present camera.
Another day closer to Eagle = progress to celebrate!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tree Trimming {Carport/Eagle Project}

Zachary vs the trees~

Slated for removal or trimming per the architectural designs, then spared for the sake of not changing the landscape too dramatically, these trees simply had to be topped to make way for the carport roof.  With a good friend and fellow acolyte, Zachary spent a few hours on Saturday doing battle with the branches.

Zachary's core team of skilled, knowledgeable adult workers took a well-earned day off to go sailing and spend time with their families, offering to come back on Sunday for another session of constructing the carport.  In their absence the planned Saturday work party was rescheduled for after Mass on Sunday, and Saturday became a supply gathering, tree trimming, plan studying kind of day.
Zachary carefully studies the plans before placing a large lumber order.

Kevin takes a whack at the hedge while Father Qui Thac admires the amazing view of the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands beyond.
Tim delivers a custom over-sized lumber order, marked creatively for safe and legal travel.
Architect Scott Piper reviews the plans with Zachary and Tim. 
Father Qui Thac, home safely from the house-building mission trip to Mexico, checks out the progress. 
Zachary makes a final materials list before for a Saturday shopping spree.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Carport Going Up {Zac's Eagle Project}

After four years of planning and preparing to build a carport at the rectory at Sacred Heart, Zachary's Eagle Project grew wings this beautiful spring weekend.  Volunteer construction experts on hand with piles of tools and know-how~ Zachary's project finally took flight. 

As the group assembled to raise the carport, one small obstacle remained: Father Qui Thac's car.  Parked in the work zone (its usual reserved spot) the car might have prefered to wait for Father's return from the NCCM mission trip to Mexico.  A spare key  The work party, delayed for an hour or more, began to muse about using the forklift to relocate the vehicle, when fantastically, a spare key was located!

Serious man power was need to rotate the beams into position for raising.

Zachary tightens lag screws on the post.
Tim sets the post in place.
A meatless Lenten lunch served on Friday

Zachary, Peter, Joseph and Tim on the job site; some with steel toes, some with bare toes.
Mr. G expertly lifts the final beam with the forklift and sets it in place following meticulous hand signs from his co-workers to avoid upsetting a live power line overhead.

Zachary attempts a few pull ups on the new beam; punishable by splinters.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

365 Days {Time Flies}

One year ago today, I wondered what to pack as we prepared to depart on our three week family pilgrimage to Italy.  Today I'm wondering if Zachary's Eagle Project construction really will begin tomorrow as per the (ever-so-often-revised) master plan.  With a few changes in the materials list at the last minute, Zachary made notes on the building plans and drove to three different building supply retailers to pick up 9 brackets, taking a break from his last final (take-home) exam from community college. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Chapter {Ezra @ Job Corps}

Working overtime, Ezra's guidance counselor convinced Ezra not to let his opportunity at Job Corps pass him by.  With her help, and a free bus ride sponsored by Job Corps, Ezra departed for a new beginning yesterday.  She stayed with him at the depot until his bus arrived, and personally asked the driver to assist Ezra with the transfer in Mt. Vernon.  He got on the bus holding his soccer ball like a teddy bear.

I met with Ezra briefly in the counselor's office at school before his departure encouraging him to put his best foot forward, and reminding him that he would be welcome to come visit us any time.  I told him that we have missed him these past few weeks and gave him a hug and a blessing. 

Ezra is now in the company of Keziah and Boaz, his Liberian cousin/siblings, who were anxiously awaiting his arrival and looking forward to helping him learn the ropes of the Job Corps way of life.

Your prayers for Ezra are greatly appreciated... keep storming heaven for him, will you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

the Hearse and the Cement Truck {Zac's Eagle Project}

One of our family's ongoing ministries at our parish includes serving at funerals.  The boys as altar boys, and I as sacristan, have served at many, many funerals over the years.  Almost every funerals comes complete with a hearse, but the most recent funeral also came with a cement truck... Well, the funeral itself didn't come with a cement truck, but Zachary's Eagle Project was cemented right in the middle of a funeral.  So half of the family was within, and the other half was without, and I floated in between capturing a few shots for the official record of this amazing and ongoing Eagle Project.

Ferndale Ready Mix to the rescue!

A hero of this stage of the Eagle Project is our dear and fellow Scouter Tom G., who has spent countless hours of his free time away from his family volunteering to complete some of the very technical aspects of the pre-construction form assembly and site prep.  With the help of a few co-workers and a very mellow dog, Tom anchored the cementing operation while allowing Zachary to play an active part in the 'mud' pour. 

Tim slipped away from work to be on site for the big moments, but stood back as a supportive spectator to let Zachary take the lead.
The beautiful sight of completed forms at Zac's Eagle Project almost overshadows the beauty of (nearly) spring blossoms... soon and very soon the carport will be truly built. 
After the cement pour and funeral Mass, Zachary updates our beloved pastor, Father Qui Thac Nguyen, over lunch.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

17 March {St. Patrick's Day feast}

Many Irish (and Scottish) ancestors on my mac-side of the family means St. Patrick's Day has always been celebrated in fine style.  Adding to the cause for festivities, Zachary chose St. Patrick for his patron at confirmation.  Although I don't dye the milk green as my mom always did, we're whipping up a great feast for supper tonight.  Tim and Joseph spent the day in 9 feet of fresh powder on Mt. Baker, and will most likely return very hungry and worn out.

On our St. Patrick's Day menu: Potato Leek Soup (thanks, Kim!); Corned Beef and Cabbage; deviled eggs (a la Peter); Irish soda bread and green (mint) ice cream for dessert.  If only my Grandad Michael O'D were still alive to teach our boys how to dance a jig! 

More university correspondence arrived in the mail for Zachary this week, sent by a state school {a fall-back choice} requiring a few forgotten items.  Somehow the sending of Zac's official SAT scores to this school was overlooked in the last minute dash to complete the application before the deadline.  Oh, and they also want his home schooling teacher to submit an academic resume "detailing how your home-based instructions fulfill the College Academic Distribution Requirements (CADR's)."

The list of CADR's included the standard English, math, lab science, etc.  But one of the CADR's caught my attention, as I didn't know exactly what was meant by "2 credits-single world language."  I Googled it, and was shocked to read this freaky article on single world language.  Zac interpreted 'single world language' to mean one language, not two years of Esperanto.  However, this all leaves me to wonder if Zachary's 2+ years of Latin will be acceptable for the state institution.  More will be revealed...

With the Job Corps start date quickly approaching (March 20) we still do not know if Ezra will go or not.  He has not called to make arrangements to collect his belongings or to ask for a ride to the JC center, which is about one hour south.  We are still holding out hope, but his sister Keziah (already at Job Corps) worries that he'll back out, and she admitted Ezra's famous for changing his mind and bailing at the last minute. Perhaps God's plan for Ezra doesn't include Job Corps?  The high school student who's hosted him these past few weeks agreed to let him stay until March 20th, so if Ezra does decline the JC offer, he may need to find another place to stay.

In a random drawing to reward great tooth brushing efforts, the orthodontist pulled Joseph's name out of the hat.  The good doctor himself called to congratulate Joseph and ask him to please come collect the movie-themed prize basket and pose for a photo holding the   With great cheer (not always easy to spot on a 14-year-old face) Joseph carried away the loot: a variety of salty and sweet snack foods; a DVD; movie theater passes; gift card to rent movies; all packaged in a plastic popcorn bucket.  Fun!

Our favorite (former) foster twins have spent four nights here in the past few weeks, and their growth and development at this age (19+mos) comes in rapid bursts.  We now have a little boy who will throw his head to the floor in anger (a little head-banger!) and a little girl who will throw her whole body down for a good tantrum should the need arise.  "Leia" brought her high chair to me as I cooked in the kitchen, and climbed in (hint hint), saying "eat! eat!"  Bath terrors are back, although today with maximum bubble action and Peter in a bathing suit to show them how much fun it could be, they decided to give it a try.  "Luke" wanted out immediately, but held it together until hair washing time.  We love having them come visit, and truly enjoy being able to help their mom as needed. 

Zachary's Eagle Project... look for another post coming soon...
Good news to report!
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
~ from St. Patrick's prayer

For a whole bunch of Quick Takes,visit Jen @ Conversion Diary!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chili Cooking {Contestants}

Placing first in 2010 and second in 2009, Peter and Joseph set their sights on reclaiming the Knights of Columbus Chili Cook-off trophy for Sacred Heart.  Their best efforts and buffalo-themed entry earned them second place and the trophy headed away with long-time Assumption chili cook-competitor, Kathy St. H.  One of sixteen entries in this year's contest, the boys' chili earned many compliments. Quite a few expressed surprise to learn that the buffalo chili entry was entirely their doing (save the earning of the dollars to purchase the ingredients). 

From the shopping and chopping to the serving and promoting, this cooking competition thoroughly engaged their imaginations and super competitive genes.  Peter made an extra effort to work the crowd prior to the close of voting, and confidently chanted out "number five" to encourage votes.  Of course, they counted on five family votes, plus two from Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff.  Winning over a few extra votes could have made the difference between second and first, but somehow the competition gained the lead.  Somewhat satisfied with second place, the boys considered it a hard-fought challenge against worthy opponents, all for a good cause.  Let the (buffalo) chips fall where they may!
 Peter takes a brief break from his chili station to visit at the table.
 Grand Knight, Tim introduces a visitor from Idaho.
Tim and Harvey count the votes at the annual chili cook-off. 
Happy with second place, though not thrilled, Peter and Joseph celebrate.
Joseph and Peter are congratulated by our pastor, Father Qui Thac Nguyen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Waiting and Preparing {7 Quick Takes}

Another letter of acceptance (plus another presidential scholarship offer) arrived in the mail for Zachary from our alma mater, the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, WA.  With a few more letters of acceptance (or denial) still 'in the mail' Zachary will wait for the dust to settle before entering into final decision making mode.  The suspense is thick!

After more than a week out on his own, Ezra stopped by the shop to collect a few belongings, and let us know he's staying with a 'friend' from school.  Automated school attendance alert phone calls come more frequently now, announcing Ezra's sporadic absences.  His Job Corps departure date (March 20) still stands, but only time will tell if the opportunity will be actualized by the now independent Ezra.  We continue to pray, and ask your prayers, too.

Nesting boxes inhabited, Joseph and Peter continue to apply the final touches on their new pigeon loft.   Enoch helped apply a coat of paint on the exposed parts before this weekend predicted to be filled with rain.  Joseph and Peter also painted each others' exposed parts.  Go figure. 

Zachary with SHS varsity swim coach Don at the end-of-season awards ceremony
His final varsity swim season behind him, Zachary continues to train almost daily with the local club team, a great way to stay fit and connected with the guys.  The hot tubbing time after practice nearly doubles the time spent at the pool, and includes extraordinary challenges like, "I wonder if your reflexes are fast enough to stop this ball if I throw it at your face (from 3 feet away)."  Not so much; ouch.

With Ezra's departure comes the opportunity to re-vamp the downstairs disaster family room, and the dreams and possible re-designs are flowing.  From projector-assisted multi-computer gaming stations, to an indoor racquet sports facility, the ideas are... extremely creative.  Tim started with a systematic purge of the out-dated and rarely visited lower bookshelves, and in only moments filled several boxes for taking to a donation station.

Celebration dinner for Apollo's successful heart surgery

We hosted dinners for ten under seventeen (first seating) plus two over forty (second seating) in celebration of Apollo's successful heart surgery.  What a great joy to have been able to offer some tiny bit of support for his family during his hospitalization and recovery.

Our traditional lenten observances coupled with awesome liturgical events has made this solemn time of preparation for celebrating Christ's Resurrection at Easter especially meaningful.  Extraordinary Form High Mass in Seattle at North American Martyrs with Archbishop Sartain, an evangelically charged mission given by Brendan Case at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Everett, weekly Stations of the Cross, daily Mass, adoration and frequent confession make for a powerfully re-charging spiritual renewal. 

Visit Jen @ Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes Friday.