Thursday, June 30, 2011

More Snapshots of Summertime Fun!

Here are some snippets from another fun week of summer. Enjoy! (Regarding the picture above.... Yes, that's me on the raft. Weight Watchers is really going great! Actually.... it's my friend Sara and I don't care if she's mad at me for putting her backside here. Someday she'll look back at this picture and "remember when!" )

On Monday at the grocery store Adam declared that he "simply had to have one of those beautiful lemons." As I was unloading groceries, he was very busy in the kitchen. He made homemade lemonade! (I had to emphatically insist on being the one to cut up the lemon, but I followed his directions exactly.)

He took a long, discerning sip of the finished product and exclaimed, "Now I just feel so grown up." He drank a few more sips and then gave the rest to Jon. It was very cute.

(Note the slice of lemon on the edge of the glass. That was a "must have.")

 On Tuesday we went to the downtown library to attend a magic presentation by "Fireman Dave" (our local superhero that we know from Safety Town). My sister Reenie was off work and she went along, as did Jon who had just returned from North Carolina. We really enjoyed the magic tricks, which were all based on the "Super Hero" theme of our summer reading program.

 Jon even got drafted to be part of one trick!

 (I doubt he'll ever go with us to any of these things again!)

Check out these crazy reading superheroes! One definitely looks more enthusiastic than the other!

On Wednesday we met up with some of our homeschool friends for a creeking adventure. It was a fantastic day and we enjoyed splashing around and looking for critters. One of the dads found this ----

 and this ----

Ray loved catching little minnows and tadpoles.

 It was great to see my friend Sylvia and her ADORABLE new baby boy!

 As we were getting ready to leave the park, Adam lost his second tooth!

 The fun afternoon was capped off with a yummy treat!

2 ice cream cones from McDonald's: $1.18
Being declared the best mom in the world AND being able to duck into the farm market tent alone: PRICELESS!

This afternoon we had the privilege of babysitting for my four year old God-daughter Cassandra. We decided to begin to get into the 4th of July spirit with some crafts and snacks (all inspired by Family Fun Magazine).

We made hats....

and glittery fireworks art...

 and yummy ice cream bar treats!

This evening was the perfect summer evening! The weather was great and we were invited to visit some dear family friends for a dip in their pool and a cookout! We had SO MUCH FUN!!! (Thank you Wells family!) The boys swam and swam and swam and swam. And I didn't have to cook dinner. And I got to visit with some of my favorite people. My only regret is that I didn't get good pictures of these friends! I guess we need to go back. Their yard is a summer paradise!

 And finally.... would you be offended if a friend gave your children a gift of soap? Does she think your children are dirty? What if it's "holey" soap? My awesome friend Mary Lou ALWAYS has interesting, wonderful gifts for the boys. Tonight it was "holey, environmentally friendly soap." They loved it! And I'm sure we'll use it! :)

I hope you enjoy a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Safe and Holy... and Busy and Happy

Last week was special and busy for us. We were reminded of what a perk it is that we (as homeschoolers) don't have to be certain places at certain times every day. For five days in a row Adam attended Safety Town from 8:00am until 11:00am and both boys attended Vacation Bible School from 5:45pm until 8:30pm. So we did lots of dropping off and picking up, but we also had some kid-free time that we really enjoyed.

Safety Town is a WONDERFUL program that our city offers for children entering Kindergarten. Ray participated last year and Adam couldn't wait to get his chance at it. Basically, all of our city safety folks (police, firemen, lifegaurds, etc.) come together to teach the children all about safety rules and precautions. They learned about fire safety, bike safety, calling 911, poisons, water safety, safety around animals, gun safety, the jobs of police officers,....! Again this year I was so impressed by the organization of the program, by the professional teachers and helpful resources, and by how fun it is for the children.

Adam especially loved the fire safety trailer with simulated smoke, the "cars" in which he got to drive around "safety town," and the school bus ride. (It cracks me up that most homeschool kids would just LOVE the opportunity to ride a school bus. I think I'll charter one for a field trip this year! They won't care where we go just as long as they get to ride a bus!)

The children rode in school buses from the elementary school to the high school, where they participated in "Safety Town Graduation." Adam was very proud and happy! Here are some pictures from the graduation:

Adam and Ray both really enjoyed Vacation Bible School in the evenings. Jon and I enjoyed it too.... a few dinners out and some time spent with friends! The only difficult part was that the program didn't end until 8:30 each evening. Ray was WIPED OUT and Adam was HYPED UP. The bedtime ritual was out the window, but we're getting back on track this week.

The Bible School theme was "Son Surf Beach Bash." The children had fun with beach-themed stories, crafts, snacks, and songs... all related to Jesus of course. Here are some pictures from Friday evening's grand finale:

Who is that goofy kid with the green hat sticking up on top of his head? I'm so glad you asked. That would be my beloved son, Ray. :)

I am very thankful that my boys got to participate in these great programs. It was a bit strange (but nice) for me to be dropping them off for someone else to teach them. Hopefully they experienced and learned things that will help them be safe and holy! This week we are definitely slowing down the pace around here though.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Please Pray With Me

We received very sad news this week. Jon's cousin Mary Jane's 16 year old son Eric passed away. He fought a valiant 18 month battle with leukemia. We had the privilege of meeting Eric several times, including spending a day with him and his family at their home in North Carolina two years ago. I was so impressed by this young man. He was very, very smart.... a talented artist.... an avid racing fan... and a faith-filled follower of Jesus. He impressed and inspired so many people as he dealt with his illness and embraced death confident in God's love and plans for him.

Please pray for the repose of Eric's soul and most especially for his parents Mary Jane and Ross and his brother Mark. These will be very difficult days of grieving and they really need prayers and support. They are a beautiful family and they have been through so much.

Jon and one of his sisters will be traveling to North Carolina to attend the funeral. We all will visit the family in September as part of our trip to Myrtle Beach.

It's sometimes to hard to understand why God allows such suffering and pain and tragedy to happen. Eric spent some of his last moments praying Jeremiah 29.11 which says "For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". He trusted in God and entered into His loving embrace. I choose to be inspired by Eric's example. Please join me in embracing the gifts and challenges of today... the happiness and the pain... confident in our Loving Father's faithfulness and providence. It is only through His grace that we can live the life He wants for us, however long or short that may be.

Ross, Eric, Mary Jane, and Mark
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord,

And let perpetual Light shine upon him.

May his soul

And the souls of all the faithful departed

Through the mercy of God

Rest in peace.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I received the following tips in an email fowarded from my dad. I don't know if they really work, but I plan to try a bunch of them.

The U.S. Postal service sent out a message to all letter carriers to put a sheet of Bounce in their uniform pockets to keep yellow-jackets away. As it turns out, these dryer sheets can perform lots of tasks outside of the dryer!

1. It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. It also repels mice.

2. Spread sheets around foundation areas, or in trailers, or cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from entering your vehicle.

3. It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't get opened too often.

4. It repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.

5. Eliminate static electricity from your television (or computer) screen.

6. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling..

7. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of Bounce.

8. To freshen the air in your home - Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet.

9. Put Bounce sheet in vacuum cleaner.

10. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.

11. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.

12. To freshen the air in your car - Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.

13. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan..

14. Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.

15. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.

16. Eliminate static electricity from Venetian blinds.. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.

17. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.

18. Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.

19. Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight.

20. Golfers put a Bounce sheet in their back pocket to keep the bees away.

21. Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them. It will keep them smelling fresh.

22. Wet a Bounce sheet, hose down your car, and wipe love bugs off easily with the wet Bounce.

Let me know if you can attest to the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of these tips.... or if you have others to share.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day! (One Day Late)

As Jon and I talked about parenthood today, we agreed that it's all we thought it would be and more. It's the "more" that brings us to our knees! And it's there that we turn to our Father in heaven. Without Him there is no way we could do this "parenting thing."

We had a very nice Father's Day. Jon got to sleep in and then we went to Mass. He received some gifts from the boys and then we all took a nap! It was so nice to have such a relaxing day. We took advantage of some gift cards we've been saving and we all went to the Cheesecake Factory for a yummy dinner.

I am so thankful for Jon... so glad that he is the father of my children. He works hard to provide for them. He loves them. He really enjoys playing with them, whether it's running around at the park, playing board games or video games, or reading to them. He's always willing to help with caring for them in any way. It's so awesome to have such a dedicated, trustworthy, practical, fun partner in the parenting adventure. It's amazing what we've been through together already. I can't wait for all that's to come.

The vocation to fatherhood really is a challenging one. Dads are expected to be tough, yet tender. They are expected to balance the responsibilities of providing for their families AND helping around the house AND spending quality time with their families. They have the responsibility of modeling and teaching what it means to be a man.... in a society that has such discordant and  even offensive views of manhood. And most men just don't have the same kind of support and encouragement from other dads that moms get from other moms. We really need to pray for dads.

This prayer by Pope John XXIII holds all fathers up to the guidance and protection of the patron saint of fathers, Saint Joseph:

"St. Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over him faithfully as you have done."

Let's pray today for:
new dads and old dads,
dads who don't want the responsibility of being dads,
men who long to be dads,
dads who have shirked their duties or failed in some way,
dads who are mourning the loss of their children,
abusive dads,
children who don't have loving fathers in their lives,
dads who have passed away,
dads who are struggling to adequately provide for their families,
dads who have forgotten how to enjoy being with their children,
single dads,
foster and adoptive dads,
men who have been "father figures" and role models and mentors,
families with fathers deployed in the military,
people estranged from their fathers,
those mourning the loss of their fathers or grandfathers,
and all of our forefathers who have gone before us.

God our Loving Father, we ask your blessing on all men whom you've called to the holy vocation of fatherhood. Remind them of the great privilege it is. Empower them to serve you by loving and serving their children. Open their eyes to the needs, desires, and vulnerabilities of their children and give them the love and grace to be the dads you long for them to be. Assist them in their daily challenges so they may cheerfully fulfill their duties of loving, providing, and caring for their families. Encourage them in their struggles. Strengthen them in times of doubt, failure, or difficulty. Help them to know your steadfast, merciful love and guide their children to walk in your ways. We ask this in the name of Jesus Chris Our Lord. Amen.

I pray especially for Jon. May he continue to learn and grow and become the best dad he can be for our boys. May he confidently share with them his faith, his talents, and the virtues and values he holds dear. May he let go of the little things and really enjoy each day with his sons.

I pray for my dad. I'm thankful for his love, for all of the ways he's been there for/with me, and for the love and fun he shares with my husband and sons. I pray that he will continue his growth in you, Lord... that he will find continue to learn and embrace your call for him to be his authentic self.

I pray for my father-in-law, Jon's beloved dad. We miss him so much. May he see you face to face, Lord, and enjoy the rewards of eternal life. Thank you for the legacy of love, honor, and respect that he left for our family. Help us to continue that legacy and keep his memory alive for our boys.

I pray for my grandfathers, both of whom were important, loved men in my life. I'm so thankful for the fun memories I have of them and for the lessons of faith, fidelity, and family that they taught me. May they too enjoy the rewards of eternal life. May they continue to shape our family through their intercession.

And, finally, I pray earnestly for all priests. They are our fathers in faith. Their "job descriptions" are nearly impossible for any one man to fulfill. They need your grace, Lord. They need our love and support. May they be renewed in their commitments to holiness and service. May they teach boldly through their ministry and example, especially when so many don't want to hear their message. I thank God for Father Leo, who has been such a wondeful mentor and friend to me. I pray for more men to boldly accept the call to priesthood.

On this Father's Day, Lord, I lift all fathers up for your love and grace. Amen.