Dutiful Sons

Fritz and Billy are away at camp through tomorrow. I had asked them to please send me a letter and provided stamped and addressed envelopes. I even showed them where the outgoing mail was collected and told them to get it there by Tuesday or I wouldn’t receive it before their return. Sure enough, I got two letters in the mail today.

The letters are typical of their personalities. Billy’s has zero details, but is very neat and everything is spelled correctly. Fritz’s letter is messy, and perhaps half the words are correctly spelled. Punctuation seems to be optional. But, I learned they went to mini-golf, batting cages, a “dolfin cruse,” and the beach, that the food is OK, and that they would be going to a local fort that day (he named the wrong one, but I know what he meant).

I am thrilled that they did as I requested!

More toiletry kits

I made three more of those BEST toiletry kits EVER. The one on the left is for our friend, Connor. It is almost identical to the one I made for Fritz. The one in the middle is for Billy. I used the tan fabric for the trim and handles so the boys could know at a glance which bag belonged to whom. The bag on the right is for our friend, Emma (Connor’s sister).

I used a different closure for Connor’s bag than I did for Fritz’s. I like this closure better, but there wasn’t enough room on Billy’s kit to fit it. The uniforms I’m using are different styles and different sizes, so the pieces aren’t going to cut out consistently. It’s what makes each bag so unique.

Emma picked out a hot pink flannel fabric. I did not buy this fabric; it was pulled from leftovers from other projects (I made bags for the girls’ to carry their ballet shoes using this flannel). Again, this entire project was zero cost, which suits me very well right now. I think the hot pink looks fabulous with the green woodland camo pattern.

Hot as an oven – inside and out

Sleeping on the couch in the pre-dawn hours with a feverish toddler on your chest is like snuggling up to a furnace. That’s OK in January, but pretty uncomfortable in July when the forecast is calling for triple digit temps and a heat index of up to 109 degrees.

I’m not complaining, though. I’m just remembering romantic scenes that played out in my head before I actually had children: the tender mother pulling an all-nighter, rocking her sick child, wiping a sweaty brow, kissing a damp hairline. Fortunately, Mary wasn’t as crabby as my sick kids tend to be, and I do not also have a needy infant draining my reserves day and night. Last night was the closest I’ve ever gotten to that “perfect” infirmary scene.

Still, I couldn’t help but wish that the ibuprofen would work a little faster to help her settle down a little sooner so we could both get some sleep.

St. Damien of Molokai – Apostle of the Exiled

I don’t even remember when I received this book from The Catholic Company. Before the move…and that was January. I am not a diligent book reviewer. I do the best I can.

I read St. Damien of Molokai – Apostle of the Exiled by Margaret & Matthew Bunson. Right up front, I want to say that I did like the book. I learned quite a bit about the history of Hawaii, the personal background of St. Damien as well as many people who knew him, the conditions at the leprosy camp on Molokai, and St. Damien’s work there with the lepers.

There were a few things, however, that were…different…from other biographies I have enjoyed. First of all, the book is not strictly chronological. The chapters are set up to cover specific topics. The chapter itself will be mainly chronological, but then the next chapter will deal with different people or issues. That chapter will also be fairly chronological, but the time period may overlap the previous chapter, so the authors may take you back in time to cover these new topics. It took me a few chapters to catch on to this, so I was a bit confused at first and the book felt very jumpy.

Besides being a bit disjointed in time, the biggest problem with this method of presenting a biography is that I felt like I was looking at a series of snapshots rather than a movie. It was very difficult for me to see the big picture and all the various issues that were happening at once. St. Damien was dealing with many many issues all at the same time: politics, personality conflicts with his superiors and other people on the island, the stress of being isolated, the stress of working with ostracized people who were dying, the challenges of living with leprosy, the strain of being the subject of unflattering gossip. When these topics are brought up one at a time, it makes it easier to discuss that particular topic in detail, but harder for the reader to grasp the overall significance of having that stress along with everything else that was happening to the man.

The only other disappointment I had was that there was no dramatization of his life. No dialogues, no painted scenes. The authors stuck with the facts as they were known. They quoted letters, notes, diaries, but they did not re-invent a scene. I admire them for sticking with the facts and not wanting to “quote” a man when there is no proof that he said those exact words. But, personally, it was hard for me to get a good idea of his personality without him being fleshed out through dialogue, thoughts, or actions.

I hate to write bad things about a book, which is probably why I procrastinated on this post.

So, to conclude I want to repeat that I did think this is a well-researched, well-written book. I learned many things I did not know about Hawaii and the leper colony as well as about the most famous non-native Hawaiian. The drawbacks are my own personal preferences, and had I known about them in advance, I might not have been as bothered by them.

I received this book for free from The Catholic Company in exchange for my honest review. If you blog and would like to be a Catholic Company reviewer and receive free books (they don’t pressure you to do your reviews quickly, I assure you), then check out this link.

Tomatoes

My cherry tomato plants have been popping out plenty of yummy morsels of heaven. Very few have made it indoors and none have actually made it to a salad. I’ll put a small handful in a bowl on the counter, and they’ll be gone in very short order. Everybody should have a cherry tomato plant growing in their yard.

My plant with the big red tomatoes has been producing a good number of fruit as well. I’ve had probably 30% of the crop lost to bugs of some kind: worms, and this nasty black beetle thingy. Bill suggested a pesticide, but I just couldn’t do it. I eat that stuff. Yes, I buy regular veggies at the store and I know they’ve been sprayed…but I don’t see that happening. I just can’t knowingly spray my own food. If you think I’m crazy, you and my husband can shake your heads at me together. The big tomatoes are quite good and we’ve been enjoying BLTs, burgers and grilled cheese with thick slabs of deliciousness.

I was really frustrated by my 4th plant which had a plethora of tomatoes, but before they had a chance to turn red, they would rot away, victimized by an unseen menace. I finally figured out this weekend that the culprit was TIME. They weren’t red tomatoes, they were yellow tomatoes, so they had gotten overripe and then rotted on the vine. Lesson: know your tomatoes.

Finally, here’s the dessert we had last night: berry dessert pizza. The dough is sugar cookie dough. The sauce is cream cheese frosting, and I used strawberries and blueberries for topping. If you really love your family, you will make it from scratch, of course. But just in case you feel pinched for time or there is a great sale at the local supermarket, one package of store-bought dough and one container of frosting are the perfect amounts for the pie. I thought I was doing a great service by neatly arranging the berries instead of just tossing them on. One caveat: this pizza does not keep. The cookie will be soggy by morning, so be generous in dishing it out.

Enjoy your holiday Monday.

Five years old

My littlest boy turned 5 years old yesterday.
He wanted a high speed chase/crash cake.
I put the cars in the dishwasher the night before and it destroyed the paint finish (these cars are several years old anyway). Of course, the peeling paint just added a certain realism to the whole crash scenario.

Then he picked these champagne bottle candles (which we used for an adult cake many years ago). Nice touch. Notice the dripping gel used to write “Happy Birthday Peter.” I’ve been trying to get rid of that stuff for a long time.

Happy birthday, my little man.