Bill came home last night!  Of course, his flight was delayed.  Of course, the computer showed that the hop from North Carolina was in the air, but delayed, even though he was still sitting on the runway, waiting for clearance to go.  Of course, I needed to leave my house around the same time that the plane left North Carolina so I could get there on time.  So, of course, this meant I was at the airport about 2 hours before he was.

But that’s OK, because the airport has a bus ride from economy parking to the terminal, and my kids think that is fun.  So, we rode the bus and walked around and looked at the shops and had some ice cream.  We found the chapel, which made all my kids laugh because there was nothing whatsoever religious about it.  If you appeal to all spiritualism, you appeal to no spiritualism.  They should have called it “The Quiet Room with Some Religious Books Contained Therein.”  In another section of the airport, Peter admired a model of the airport, and could have spent more time there but for his impatient sisters.  Not that we had anywhere we needed to rush off to.  And then we found some windows where you could see part of the runway, so we watched for planes to take off.  I was thinking it was time to head back to the car and move it to the more accessible short-term parking, and was happy that the time had passed so pleasantly.

It was too good to be true.

Behind me, I heard a thud, and I turned as George started crying.  He must have slipped or jumped from the couch and took the glass coffee table to the center of the forehead.  Head wounds always bleed a lot.  Deep gashes bleed even more.  I hugged him to my, fortunately, purplish-red shirt and found the nearest restroom.  With Katie’s help, I managed to do wound compression while mopping blood off his face, neck, hands, and arms and my face, neck, hands and arms.  One glance told me that this was not a steri-strip or glue-it-up wound.

According to the posted schedule, we had 40 minutes or more until Bill landed.  I sent him a text for him to get when he landed, and started moving purposefully toward the bus stop, which was just about as far away from where we were as you could get.  And then we waited for the bus.  For a long time.  Just as the bus pulled up, Bill texted that they were on the ground.  By this time, George’s head was only oozing, so I decided to wait for Bill to get through baggage, and then we all went to the ER together.  Family fun.

Just a warning: if the ER docs say that the numbing gel will be enough for a little kid, don’t believe them.  A sedative would have been good.  Even wrapped in a sheet, it took two of us to keep him down.  I know it hurt him.  Thoughts of Civil War surgeries filtered through my head as I tried, ineffectively, to comfort my screaming child.  At least it wasn’t an amputation.

Five stitches and 90 minutes later, we were heading for home.  All’s well that ends well, I suppose.

Bill picked up the boys this morning.  They’ve spent the last week at Scout camp.  Had a fabulous time, as expected.  But we’re all home now.  And it feels so nice to have everybody here.  This coming week will be busy, but then we take July off.  I can’t wait.

The last scar-free picture I'll have of him.

The last scar-free picture I’ll have of him.

No Spring Pup

I knew my running partner was just about runned out.  I just didn’t think things would end so abruptly.

108We got Greta from a rescue nearly 8 years ago when she was about a year old.  We started running together right away.  It was hard work.  She was usually good at staying to my left, and she wasn’t prone to sudden stops or chasing squirrels.  Well, maybe squirrels, but I got good at seeing them first and telling her no.  She obeyed.  But the dog had unlimited energy back then.  She wanted to lead me along, and I had to constantly fight her to keep her somewhat in the “heel” position.

Back then, I was setting my alarm for 4 am.  She quickly learned that the alarm meant it was time for me to get up, get dressed, and take her out.  I had to be back by 5ish so Bill could go to work, and she made sure that I didn’t hit the snooze button.  It didn’t matter how hot or cold, rain or fair, when that alarm went off, she would dance and jump and beg and whine at me until I got out of bed.

111We had her in a dog obedience class recommended/required by the rescue.  It was Saturday morning, which also happened to be the day I had time to do a longer run.  One day we did 6 miles, and then she went in the backyard and chased balls that Bill threw for her.  He took her to class and was reprimanded for her energy.  “You need to take her for a long walk before class,” the stern instructor told him.  We bought a doggy backpack and added weight, which did seem to help.

Even when that phase of our life changed to a slower pace in Kansas, with a more reasonable wake up call, and then a new baby, and less regular walks instead of runs, she knew which clothes were for outside-exercise and which were not.  Her ears would perk up if I put on pants with an elastic waist.  She would sit up if I put on a dry-wick shirt.  And (oh my YES!!!) she would jump in circles if she saw me grab my running sneakers.  I taught her to run on a treadmill, so she could burn some energy when I didn’t have any to spare.

It was while we lived in Georgia that I realized she was starting to slow down.  She didn’t jump up when the alarm went off, and once, after I had gotten all dressed and was ready to go, I had to order her to come with me.  She was more interested in sleeping that morning, I guess.

Then George was born, and we moved even further south with an even longer hot season, and she did not seem to mind at all the slower pace and infrequent runs.  About a year ago, I started getting out on a more regular basis.  She still loved to come, but she was no longer pulling me.  One day I did 100 yard dashes, walked back and dashed again.  Ten times.  By the fifth, I was dragging her, and by the 8th, I let go of the leash and beat her handily.  She didn’t mind.

In November, she hurt her foot.  I made her rest for a few weeks, and she whined when I left.  I felt bad, but my running times were actually better without her.  After the new year, I committed to a running program that had low mileage – nothing more than 3 miles.  In part, I didn’t have the time.  In part, I knew she couldn’t handle more than that.

Two and a half weeks ago, we were on a 2 mile run.  There had been storms the night before and the sidewalks were covered with debris.  I easily dodged a few branches and Spanish moss, but Greta did not.  She was behind me, and I heard her yelp.  We limped home, she on just 3 legs.  I wouldn’t have taken her to the vet at that point, but I needed to kennel her for a few days, and the kennel wanted a bordetella vaccine, which she didn’t have.  The vet wanted to do an x-ray, and it showed she had a fracture.  The splint lasted less than a week; she broke it by continuing to use her leg.  Jumping, chasing balls.  We have had to keep her locked in her crate so she won’t play.

I wonder if she hadn’t actually broken it back in November, and it hadn’t properly healed.  Even if this was a completely different injury, I just don’t see that she’ll be able to continue running without significant risk of breaking it again.  I hope in a few weeks to take her out for a slow walk a few times a week, and see how she does.

In the meantime, I have two new running partners: Fritz and Billy.  This is our second week, and Fritz has outpaced me from Day 1.  Billy can beat me if he runs (motivation issues, and sometimes he just walks).  I am so happy we started with low mileage (under 2 miles), because **I** need the extra weeks to get used to the runs.  I had been doing 3 miles, no problem, just slow (32 minutes).  Now, these boys have me running, consistently, a mile in under 9 1/2 minutes.  Yesterday, I did it in 9:11, which is a full minute faster than with the dog.  Even if we don’t all go out at the same time, we log our times when we come home and compare them.  It will be a lot of fun in July when my husband is here to challenge us all.

112But the dog.  It’s easy to go without her now, knowing she needs to rest.  It will be hard to tell her no in a month.  And I will really miss her companionship, especially once it gets dark again in the mornings.

60 Hours Later

Even with skyping most days, plenty of life happens in five weeks that doesn’t get brought up in those brief conversations with a husband eager to collapse into bed six thousand miles and seven hours away.

We picked Bill up from the airport early on Thursday evening.  A set table and dinner was waiting at home.  Everybody had stories to tell, so there were few quiet pauses between landing and bedtime.  At one point, I was telling him two independent, but vaguely related stories at once, swerving haphazardly from one to the other as the details of the second reminded me of things I failed to mention in the first.  Fritz, who knew both stories, was frustrated at my narration and the mental agility required to follow along and kept interrupting me to clarify whom or what I was talking about.  I interrupted myself to say to him, “Look, I have been telling this man stories for over twenty years.  He doesn’t need your help.”  Fritz looked at his dad.

“I’m trackin’ her, man,” he assured our son, “I’m trackin’ her.”

 

This morning, we had our alarm set for 5 am and started getting kids up at 6.  Fritz stayed behind with the still sleeping tot, and shortly after 7 am, we were pulling up to the airport again.  The silver lining to an early flight on a Sunday morning, Father’s Day, was the lack of traffic and construction congestion.  We were home again before most people were likely out of bed.  This one is just 12 days and the same time zone which should make it easier to stay in touch and on top of story-telling.  And then I think he said in August, he’ll start repeating the trips he has been doing for the last year.  Yip.E.

To Nag or Not to Nag

I am very familiar with how unmotivated one can be early in the morning to get up and go for a run.  First comes coffee.  Then email.  Then…anything…is the baby up yet?

Yesterday, in the optimistic evening, when everyone was feeling great, my two oldest sons agreed that beginning a running program was a good idea.  They are considering the cross country team, maybe.  They both claim an interest in future military service.  They need PE hours.  Yes, Mom, they said, get us up to run.

Hal Higdon, 5k Novice, Week 1, Day 1: 1.5 miles.  No.big.deal.

12 hours later, same boys are moaning and looking at me like I’m a witch.  “My neck hurts,” says one.  The other is only capable of opening one eye.  They shuffle out of bed and divvy up the comics.  I give them a few minutes, but then I remind them about how hot it gets quickly.  Besides, I’m ready to go, the sun is well past the horizon, and I don’t have time to waste waiting for them to warm up to the idea.

Just do it, right?

More moaning and excuses.  I’m in no mood.

“I am not going to spend my summer nagging you for no good reason.  Yesterday you said you wanted to run.  Today you’re making excuses.  I’ll happily nag you if you need motivation, but not if you’re going to be mad at me.  I’m done.  I’m going for a run.  Come along or not.”

They came.

1.5 miles.  No.big.deal.

I was in the lead, briefly.  At the halfway point, I had been in the middle, but I got cut off, and ended up in 3rd place, where I remained.  I watched my boys quicken their paces in the last 100 yards and finish side by side.  Competitive, just like their parents.

My 1 mile pace of 9:34 wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever run, but it was faster than most mornings recently.  I’ll have to run with them every day.

There and Back (Again and Again and Again)

Today, I can finally relax and (almost) begin summer break.

(Almost, because one child has to finish a paper and one child has to take a test, and I have to do grades, and mail everything in.)

But we started summer break several weeks ago.  My niece and nephew finished school on May 20th, and my sister drove them from Tennessee to my parents’ house in the panhandle of Florida.  The next day, my mom and I met in Perry, FL, which is approximately halfway between our homes.  She got my 3 girls, and I got my brother and my nephew.

We repeated the drive the following week, only I got the girls and she got the boys.  I kept my brother.

And then last Tuesday, I drove out to them and spent a few nights in a cabin on the Choctawhatchee Bay.  Lovely.  Will have to do that again.  I went down to the beach with the little kids, and, after taking some pictures, actually sat down and sat still and just listened to the waves.  It was the most blissful 5 minutes of my week.

George

George

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Such concentration

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Mary

Mary

The view from my cabin

The view from my cabin

We returned home on Thursday.  It took me 7 hours from my parents’ house, which isn’t bad, just exhausting.

Friday was busy: Mass and a party for our homeschool group, pick up the dog from the kennel, girls went to a birthday party, kids came here to swim, boys had a meeting that evening.

And then yesterday.  Blue and Gold Banquet for the Cub Scouts, confession and the 4 pm Vigil Mass, then out for ice cream.  I used to hate going to the Vigil Mass.  I felt it just wasn’t right to not go to Mass on Sunday morning.  Now, forgive me, Lord, I am just so happy to have one day where I don’t have to get up and get out and be somewhere.

New Month’s Resolution for June

If you read the title of this post and know what I’m talking about, you are an old friend indeed.

It was my old posts on this topic through which I was searching recently.  I could not believe it, but I did that series for two and a half years.  My first one was July 2006.  That was nearly eight years ago.  My oldest son recently turned 16.  He was still a baby back then.  I did them faithfully every month (except for January 2007 and 2008 when I did New Year’s resolutions), and then I gave up in early 2009.

Not too long ago, I saw, perhaps in a combox, somebody (Jennie C? Sarah R?) reminiscing about this series.  For those of you who weren’t with me back then, the concept is very simple.  Instead of trying to become a new person overnight, pick one small, simple thing you’d like to work on for just one month.  In December 2006, I resolved to sit down for 15 minutes every day and relax.  In May 2008, I resolved to pray the rosary daily.   My favorite was June 2008 when I resolved to not kill my husband.  Six years later, and I’m still keeping that one!

This month, I am going to write almost every day.  I may not blog every day, but I will try to write most days.  There are a number of non-blogging writing projects I have in mind, and I’d like to see how far I can get on them this summer.  I have a growing file of outlines of things I hope to write “one day.”  Outlining counts as writing.

Are you game?  Have a resolution for the month?  Let’s hear it!

A Tale of a Blogger

Once upon a time there was a woman who blogged.  She blogged for years and years and made many virtual friends, some of whom turned into IRL friends.  She also had a loyal core readership, some of whom would introduce themselves shyly at homeschool conferences.

She would also meet many women who, upon hearing the name of her blog, would say, “Oh, I’ve heard of you, but I don’t read you.”  This convinced her that she was the most widely unread blog out there, which she found very funny and not at all insulting.  She was happy regardless.  She didn’t blog for the world; she blogged for herself.  She loved to write, and she loved to record her family memories so they wouldn’t be forgotten.  She loved to post pictures of her kids and things they had done, because she knew she would never ever make lovely scrapbooks or even lousy photo albums.  She also blogged for her family and for the many friends she left behind every time the army moved her family to another state.  Making new friends through blogging was a bonus.  Entertaining an audience was a pleasure.  Mentoring or inspiring other women was both frightening and humbling.  But, she reminded herself often, this is a hobby, not a career.

One day, this blogger had a baby, which was nothing particularly remarkable, since she had done so six times before.  She had even blogged through two pregnancies and births and infancies.  But back then, the other children were also fairly young, and life was much simpler.  This time, only a few weeks after that baby was born, the oldest brother started high school in their homeschool.  Two other older siblings were in middle school.  And they all lived in a new town where they didn’t know anybody yet, and frequently got lost on the way home from the grocery store.  Although eventually they made many new friends and learned lots of shortcuts around traffic without getting too lost, school and keeping up with life in general forced blogging far down on the priority list.

Nearly two years went by, and then, like the first warm day of spring after a bitter winter, the school year started to wind down.  The younger children finished, and the older children had only a few assignments left.  Music lessons and sport activities ceased for the summer.  The family actually had several days in a row with nothing on the calendar.  And the woman took a deep breath and asked herself, “Do you think you’d like to get back into blogging?”  Not wanting to be too hasty, she decided to enjoy this new-found leisure time instead.  And in that break, her creative thoughts started flowing once again.  She went back through her own blog archives, looking up a few memories, and re-reading posts from three, four, eight years ago.  And they made her laugh.  Really laugh.  And then she knew the answer.  Not for the world, not for friends or family, but for her own joy:

“Yes, I do want to blog again.”

820 Acts of Charity

For the first time ever, I have actually gotten my Lenten supplies out of storage before Lent started.  I don’t have much, but one thing I do have is images of the stations of the cross, which we try to pray every Friday during Lent.  Usually, it hits that first Friday, and I remember that I forgot, but it’s too late to go digging, so I put it off until the next Friday…and sometimes then it’s too late to go digging…

But I am all ready to go.  Great thing about a late start to the season, I suppose.

One thing I’m doing this year is encouraging the kids to turn their sacrifices or acts of charity into quarters with a family goal of raising enough money to buy a water pump for a village in a poor country.  A water pump costs $205, so at a rate of $0.25 per deed, we will need to do 820 things in 40 days to “earn” the pump.  I think the kids will like having a tangible goal…sometimes reward in Heaven is just too out there.  I am assembling a list of things to do to merit a quarter.  Here’s what I have so far.  Anything else you can think of?

 

·         Pray a rosary for the poor.

·         Give up dessert or some other favorite food for a day.

·         Walk away from or ignore an annoying person.

·         Stop doing an obnoxious behavior.

·         Give up electronics for the day.

·         Do someone else’s chore.

·         Change a stinky diaper.

·         Pay someone a compliment.

·         Say you’re sorry for hurting someone.

·         Do all your schoolwork.

·         Hold your temper.

·         Let somebody else pick the game.

·         Be cheerful when you don’t feel like it.

·         Listen when you’d rather talk.

·         Do an extra chore.

·         Come the first time you are called or obey immediately.

·         Forgive someone…

·         …especially if they don’t seem sorry.

·         Thank someone for helping you.

·         Do a good deed.

·         Say a kind word.

Confirmation Weekend

We enjoyed having family in town this weekend for Billy’s and Katie’s confirmation (there was a BOGO special at church).

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I’m just kidding about the BOGO.

Katie did the second reading.  She had practiced it so often that she had it nearly memorized.  Between that and the nervousness of standing in front of 500 or so people meant that she raced through the reading.  Or maybe she just wanted to get on with the sacrament.

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Billy’s time with the bishop was twice as long as everyone else’s.  I leaned over and told my husband that this did not surprise me at all.  Billy’s confirmation saint was a Robert (Bellarmine), and the bishop’s name is also Robert.  Billy went through about 5 saints before finalizing his decision.  I told him he could have many many friends in heaven, but he had to pick just one for confirmation.

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The bishop had suggested that we just photoshop his photo into our own instead of waiting for him (there were 90+ confirmandi, I think).  Had we been toward the back of the group, we just might have.  But we were in the first few rows and didn’t have to wait long at all.

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Grandparents…

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I could never get everybody to look at the same camera.

Billy with his Godfather (Uncle Tom) and confirmation sponsor (my Uncle Steve).  My SIL, Margaret, who is Billy’s Godmother, did not get there until later that night.  My in-laws and BIL flew from the snowy Northeast with no trouble.  My SIL’s flight from California via Phoenix was canceled.  Go figure.

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Katie with her Godparents, Uncle Glenn and Nana.  Katie’s sponsor was celebrating her own daughter’s confirmation.

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As an afterthought, we got a shot with the parents.

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As soon as the group came home, Peter threw off his church clothes.  Then we decided to do pictures, so Bill made him get dressed again.  Then we took no family pictures (immediate family), so he really hadn’t needed to do that.  I took a few pictures just to justify his efforts.

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Bill took this picture of Mary because she looks like a hockey player.

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It was a lovely weekend.  Missed a few of my siblings, but such is life when we are all so far away.

George at 18 months

We have extended family coming to visit in a few weeks so I thought I’d post a few pictures of the “baby.”  He’s not so much a baby any more.  Oh, they grow so fast.

Here is George in January of 2013.

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And now…

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With the big brothers….

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He loves to watch shows on the Kindle.  He’ll make a hand gesture for “Signing Time” while I’m skimming FB or playing Candy Crush.  I have a hard time saying no to “educational” programming just so I can read a few more puns or like a few more memes.  The thing is, though, that he knows how to change the shows once he’s in Netflix.  So, while he starts with Signing Time or Daniel Lion or Curious George…he really wants to watch Dr. Who.

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Netflix always plays the next episode, so George walked into a room the other day watching a Dr. Who the big kids hadn’t seen yet.  They all started screaming “turn it off! turn it off!”  They tried to convince him to watch something else, but he was persistent.  Finally, they managed to get it on an older episode, and everybody was happy.

He likes to jump on the bed, and is adept and getting down.

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He likes to pretend to be a dog.  He likes to roll around with the dog.  He likes to feed the dog.

The dog does not like him to pretend to be a dog.  We all say, “Good dog!” and pat his head, and she gets a little upset that we use those special words and gestures with him.  The dog does not like him to roll around with her, especially not when he climbs in her crate, especially not when she’s in the crate.  Sometimes the lock on the crate gets used just to keep him out.

The dog does like him to feed her.  Then they are the best of pals.

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George likes to play the piano.

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George loves to wear other people’s shoes, especially daddy’s boots.

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George is very adept at maneuvering the kitchen step stool around, and a favorite pastime is opening the drawers and scattering the contents all over the counter top.  Such neat things to be found in the drawers.  I especially love it when he finds the steak knives.

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George does not have an extensive spoken English vocabulary, but like most boys, his capacity to make noises, especially of motor vehicles, knows no bounds.  He loves things with wheels.

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Right now, I am working on a dress for Katie for confirmation (why we have family coming into town).  My sewing machine has been out quite a bit, which means my rolling suitcase that holds my sewing machine has been empty.  At least it’s been empty of the sewing machine.  It is George’s favorite hiding place.

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And that’s George at 18 months.  Words can not convey how much joy this child brings us all.