Showing posts with label family life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family life. Show all posts

Monday, December 23, 2013

Brotherhood Revisited {Full House for Christmas}

Under obedience to photographer-mom, Zachary holds his little foster sister for the first time, as Peter assists.

"Are you glad to have your son home?" a friend at Church asked before Mass yesterday.
"Sons. Yes, very glad to have them home!" I answered honestly.

Our family reunification project - aka Christmas Vacation - has begun in earnest, with dual arrivals within 24 hours: Peter from Christ the King high school seminary in BC, and Zachary from sophomore year studies at Notre Dame. 

Learning new skills on Christmas Break, Zachary comforts a newborn.
Zachary's homecoming package included an introduction to his foster sister (known on the blog as) Angelina.  After being home for a few days, Zac asked if Angelina does anything other than sleep and eat, but so far only one fussy stretch and a few alert moments have convinced him otherwise.

Back to the joys of brotherhood, our three guys have enjoyed time together doing guy things like working out after dark in the snow and watching the televised Seahawks game with Tim on his birthday.  This time with a full house will surely fly by, but we will certainly do our best to make the most of our every moment together.

Peter shows 'Luke' and 'Leia' the ornaments on our tree.
Hosting our former foster twins for two days, a favor to their mom whose work schedule conflicted with the daycare holiday closure, brings us ever more family fun in these final days before we celebrate the birth of Christ.  So much joy, such great times to cherish...
Peter continues the Christmas decor tour with little friends in tow.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes {Home birth, Poison, Fog, and Fire}

Necessity: mother of invention...
Modern appliances cannot withstand the force of masculine teenage energy around here.  Thus, there are a few appliances under our roof with missing or damaged handles.  We now operate the injured microwave door with a butter knife.  The shower's faucet handle was pulled right off in an attempt to turn it on one day, but this required immediate and proper replacement, no butter knife bandage.  Dad and lad plumbing project ensued.  Note: these are not the result of any angry outbursts or reckless behavior; merely the aftereffects of super-human teenage strength vs. plastic parts.

Rural firefighting action
The three hour crawl transporting Peter back to school after his (Canadian) Thanksgiving break included a dramatic, fiery scene along the two lane highway leading to the US/Canadian border.
A pile of flaming debris blocking all lanes of traffic was beaten back and shoved aside by a farmer with his tractor, while the sounds of the volunteer firefighting crews' sirens were heard nearing the scene.  Oddly, the day we drove Peter to high school seminary for day one, there was also wildfire along the side of the road, but on the BC side.  Explosive commutes.

Seattle, smothered in fog.
We are experiencing a string of extremely foggy days in the great Northwest.  We get the occasional bursts of fog from time to time, but this season seems especially foggy for some reason.  As a result, Joseph's student driving experiences have included a few extra foggy sessions.

Our dear friend and old neighbors' nanny Cathy returned for a quick stop over in Bellingham recently, and blessed us with a morning visit at the house.  She left covered in Rocky fur, and promised to come back again some day.  Who knew we'd be competing with the likes of Philadelphia for Cathy's home town allegiance?  A very talented musician, Cathy can be heard on occasion accompanying the choir on her violin at Masses at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philly.  Not a bad gig, Cathy!  Keep the faith!

Homegrown goodies for Grandma Patty's birthday present
Gifting our homegrown produce completed the cycle of farming joy.  The boys' determination in planting and tending to their gardens this year resulted in a fine harvest of a variety of fruits and vegetables.  An odd 'no squash' yield has us a bit puzzled, as does the low turnout of sugar pumpkins.
But the super-sized (perfect for pie) apples from Joseph's tree, and the phenomenal green bean crop took the sting out of the lesser reapings.
Grandma Patty and Great Grandma O'D
Farmer Joseph with his Grandma Patty on her birthday
Poison in progress
Look out below!
Judah and Joseph compete in the final round of poison.
Joseph's days as Senior Patrol Leader are numbered as his term draws to a close. A final 'hoorah' will happen as the troop gathers for the semi-annual boy led Junior Leader Training (JLT).  Joseph, as the outgoing SPL, plans this JLT to coincide with a day hike in the glorious Chuckanut Range.  No use sitting in a church basement on a Saturday when you could be outside on an adventure laden with leadership lessons along the way.
Nuptial Mass at Sacred Heart
Marriage and childbirth!
I had the great pleasure of assisting behind the scenes at a holy wedding and a home birth this week.  My role was very minor in both events, but opportunities to be up close and personal in these moments of profound grace are blessings beyond description.  The union of Mark and Katy and the birth of Janell and Alain's little Lucia are signs of Christ's light in our local community and throughout our Universal Church.  What a privilege to be a witness to these blessed events!
Samuel (3) meets his little sister, Lucia, on her birth day.

Visit Jen's Conversion Diary via Clan Donaldson for more Quick Takes!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fruits of the Hunt {Duck Dinner Party with Twins}

Gargoyle-ish duck 'trophies' proudly displayed on our front porch

Not exactly celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving, but extremely grateful for Peter's first home weekend on the occasion of the national holiday up north, we cooked up the ducks for Sunday's dinner.  Our special guests for the feast were our little twin friends, Luke and Leia, whose visits are always joyful and fun.

Stuffed, seasoned and ready for the oven

Not known as much of a carnivore, Luke chomped down a few pieces of the steak-like delicacy before he realized what was going on.  Peter gladly claimed Luke's portion, though, so nothing went to waste. 

Joseph reads to 'Leia' as Rocky stands guard.

In the early morning fog, driving home after collecting the twins, I mentioned that we would be going to Church together and that there would be music, since it was Sunday. "Where's the sun?"  Luke demanded.  As might be expected of a pair of rambunctious threes, Luke and Leia found it impossible to stay quiet and hold still in the pew, so we took advantage of the parish nursery midway through the Bible readings.  As a result, the other Mass-goers could better hear Father Joseph's fine homily, preceded by another cassock controversy update. 

The twins always enjoy attending Mass with us and love the holy water font in the entryway.  Oftentimes and at odd times,  Luke will beg me to please take him to Church.  Many of our friends there have known these two since they were about eleven months old, so there's quite a fan club of admirers and prayer warriors.

'Luke' practices his daredevil stunts on the plasma car.

Peter's time with the twins may have taken second place behind his first-ever hunting experience as the 'high' of his home visit weekend.  But the 'low' must certainly have been the three hour slog back to school on Monday night; especially the two hour crawl to the border at Sumas.  Luckily the gate at Westminster Abbey had not yet been locked, so Peter was able to rejoin life at the high school seminary, already in progress.  Joseph spent a few minutes helping Peter haul his gear to his room and desk, and after a short visit with other parents we headed back toward the US border.  We were the only car and the wait was 0 minutes, so the balance for the night was an hour each way if you average the two crossings. 

{Note to self: Double or triple travel time to Canada on Canadian holidays.}

Peter and 'Luke' ride tandem on the plasma car.
"I like this meat!" exclaimed Leia, after tasting the roasted duck at dinner.

Nearly as tall as Grandma Billie; Peter's recent growth spurt is hereby recorded for posterity.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Opening Day {+ Duck Cleaning 101}

Peter's first hunting expedition

Peter's first home weekend from high school seminary just happened to coincide with opening day of hunting season.  Having recently completed hunter education classes along with Joseph, Peter gladly agreed to spend most of Saturday tromping through marshy fields in pursuit of ducks.  Donning camouflaged gear and packs loaded with ammo, the guys set out at dawn for the nearby duck hunting territory with high hopes. 

Joseph: his first duck down, with high hopes for another shot

For Peter, the 6AM alarm allowed a bit of a sleep-in compared to his usual routine at school.  Up and ready to roll, the guys grabbed a quick bite for breakfast before departing for the big hunting expedition.  Rubber boots and hip waders in tow, Tim and the boys found a spot with likely resident ducks and began their pursuit in earnest.  A few shots and several hours later, the score was Tim: 1, Peter & Joseph: 0. 

Peter displays his dad's first duck of the season.

The plucking and cleaning of duck #1, captured on video by Joseph (see below), should be a fun keepsake from the boys' first hunting expedition.  Turns out Peter's chores at the monastery included helping gut over 50 chickens on slaughter Saturday, so he willingly volunteered to handle the primary duck cleaning duties.  With only a little instruction from Tim, the bird was neatly prepared for cooking and put up.

Charlie jumps to investigate the prize.

One hunting trip (netting one duck) on opening day just couldn't satisfy, so after a rest and reload at home (with a glimpse of the Huskies vs Ducks game on TV), they headed out for a second round in the nearby fields.  This time Joseph's aim was spot-on, and he brought home his first duck.  Tim connected with two more ducks, and the day was deemed an overall victory.  Dusk fell as they loaded up their guns and headed toward home.

Peter cleans a duck for dinner.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hosting Isabella {Day 4: Puget Sound Ferry Passage}

Isabella with our boys' home schooled cousins Violet, Weston, Sawyer, Aunt Bethany and Uncle Craig
Continued from Day 3: Pike Place to the Narrows Bridge

Navigating our way home to Bellingham with Isabella after Dad's retirement party involved a sleep-over at Tim's brother's house after a spontaneous Friday night dinner at Aileen's place.  With only a short time to visit on Saturday morning before our planned adventure aboard a Washington State Ferry, Isabella became a fast friend of the young cousins over cereal and coloring.

Isabella the artist with Violet and Sawyer
Isabella teaches geography, highlighting Australia
Sawyer takes a closer look.

Arriving at the ferry terminal we were directed to the "maybe" lane, and as it became quite obvious that we wouldn't be aboard the loading vessel, we hatched a quick ejection plan.  Isabella, Joseph and I grabbed our rain coats and boarded the ferry as walk-ons, leaving Tim to wait in the van for the next sailing.  As the Edmonds Saturday Market would be in full swing, we decided to kill time over yonder. 

Isabella, Joseph and I board the Spokane for the Kingston to Edmonds crossing.

White caps on Puget Sound with driving rain and wind made the ferry experience a rather *indoor* experience, at least for Isabella and me.  Joseph preferred to tough it out on the prow, and spent almost the entire trip facing the storm head-on, in shorts.  To each his own!

Isabella aboard the Spokane

By the time we reached Edmonds, our only glimpse of the Saturday Market was of the few remaining vendors hastily loading up their wares and heading out.  The rain and wind claimed the victory, and we opted to pass the lunch hour at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Tim's old home town.

Not much of a view due to the weather, but we caught a glimpse of a passing ferry.

Reunited with Tim after his ferry landed, we made it home to Bellingham in time to collect the twins (Luke and Leia) and bring them along to the 5PM Mass after spending a bit of time watching Luke race through the house on Joseph's plasma car at break-neck speed. 

Joseph on the prow
We wrapped up our Saturday adventures with a take out Teriyaki supper and an evening trip to Walmart in search of a cheap suitcase to help Isabella avoid overweight baggage fees on her flight home to Australia.  We also enjoyed a bit of Facetime with her Aunt Michele, our dear friend, who will be visiting with her family in January, seeking winter adventures in the Great Northwest. 

An early Sunday morning trip to SeaTac concluded our 'hosting Isabella' days, which brought us great joy and helped us reconnect with our wonderful Australian friends.  Maybe someday Isabella's sisters will venture our way, or perhaps even her parents?  Or maybe we will finally cross the big pond again to visit all of them in their native land.  Only time will tell!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Stork's Retirement {OB/GYN Career Wrap Up}

That's my dad!

The Stork is grounded.
No more midnight races to the hospital for my dad, as his (OB/)GYN days have officially drawn to a close.  Locking up his practice, sending off the charts, and closing this chapter of his career wasn't an easy move, but a necessary one, and Dad entered into his retirement with a style all his own.  A bittersweet moment to be sure, and one that we sure didn't want to miss.

Dad's last dictation for the patient charts

Business as usual for the first half of his last work day, Dad juggled hospital rounds, patient visits and office tasks.  Saving the best for last, he invited Aileen to be his final 'patient' since her mom, Kathy (+), had been Dad's very first patient in private practice.  Aileen gladly obliged, and brought two of her sons along for the (non-medical) visit. 

Lots of relics around Dad's office will soon have a new home.
Adorning the waiting area one last day
Dad's last patient, Aileen, arrives with boys in tow.
Aileen (and Ryan behind door) visit with the good doctor at his last office call.
Bridget, Sam, and Tim hang out together in the waiting area.

Back in his active OB days, Dad delivered Ryan, Aileen's son, as well as two of Aileen's sisters.
Proud retiring papa with his grandson, Joseph and daughter, Bridget
Time to lock up the office for good...
When the final hour drew to a close, Dad locked the doors one last time and we all cheered him to a waiting limo for a short ride to his retirement party.  Joseph and Ryan jumped in the limo, too, and their youthful enthusiasm kept the mood light and festive despite the emotional weight of the passing of an era. 

Party shoes on, the old Stork heads off in style for his retirement celebration.
An official retiree, playing the part in full color!
Father and son (Michael) load up the tunes.
My little brothers and me (Michael, Peter John and Bridget) at Dad's retirement celebration.
A happy retiree with his musically gifted sing-along-son, Michael
Many faithful friends turned out to wish Dad a happy retirement, and the genuine expressions of love and admiration for his healing ways were touching.  Wrapping up over 40 years in the practice of Obstetrics and Gynecology, chances are pretty high that even though Dad's retired, he won't stop hearing the frequent call outs: "Hey, Dr. Pete! Remember me? You delivered me!"