Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Okay, a little more


Last year, we averaged about 25 kids for VBS, the majority of them not of our congregation.  As the best predictor of the future is the past, we planned for that many children this year as well. 
We were wrong.

Tonight we topped out at 41 children, most of them under six years old and one mom told us she was bringing two more tomorrow night.  We are now scurrying to try to find additional craft kits because we only ordered enough for 30 kids.  Undoubtedly, we will come up with something...but wow.  It's been amazing.

The rest of my life

I have come to the conclusion that in my house, instead of asking for what you want, you should just ask for what you will get, as that way one is not disappointed.  The thing is that I don't want a lot.  I simply asked the menfolk last week to help me out a little this week and pick up after themselves.  What I should have said was "Just leave it lay where you will and I'll get to it." 

Today, I worked with child in tow.  Left work, came home and did the following:

Ran upstairs to gather up laundry.
Got laundry to basement and started a load.
Came upstairs and gathered stuff to clean out my car for the mission trip
Remembered I needed to download VBS pictures from last night while cleaning out car, so I hooked up the camera to the computer and set it to downloading.
Went outside and wiped down interior of my car and windows.  Vacuumed car.
Vacuumed porch
Vacuumed downstairs
Vacuumed upstairs
switched over laundry loads
Decided which pictures from last night to save
Did dishes
Picked up general clutter
Laid out suitcase in spare room and threw travel items into it
Dealt with puke in the pool from neighbor child
Argued with oldest son about commitment
Dealt with neighbor looking for tools
Started dinner for kids
Went to VBS, complete with 41 children
Dealt with not enough craft for tomorrow night issues
Came home
Warmed up youngest son's remaining dinner
Made sandwich for husband
Finally became a bit temperamental and went off ALONE for the first time in 24 hours.

And people wonder why I get testy.  So it's now 10:30 at night and I've just now eaten a little bit of something for dinner as I was not hungry at 5:30.  Often, lack of help doesn't really bother me, but this week has been hard and having a seven year old with me all day long, as much as I love him, gets hard.  There simply is no quiet time...not even ten minutes.  I get cranky.

And now, some more adorableness.


Sorry about the lack of posting, but it has been VBS week, which means insanely busy, plus I am trying to make sure all my ducks are in a row to leave on Sunday for the mission trip.  I'm getting there...

Car cleaned...check
Trial size essentials purchased...check
House in order....still in progress but around here it is always in progress
Sleep...not so much
Packed...not even close
Extra snacks for teenaged boys purchased....check
Children on summer vacation still alive and kicking....check

So, I'm getting there and once next week is over and finished, I promise regular updates again. 

In the meantime, look what Shelley got last weekend:

Seven weeks old and positively precious.  Her name is Grace and she smells like a kitten surprisingly enough. (I love to sniff two things: yarn and baby kittens).

Monday, June 18, 2007

So, guess what we did last weekend?

After three years of wanting one, we are finally at a place to afford one.  It was either a boat or a new kitchen and I looked at the Brit on Saturday and said, "Ya know, I hate to cook."

We plan to take it out on the water this Saturday before I leave on the mission trip on Sunday.  Cannot wait.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

If you're gonna dream...

Today in the car, coming back from getting the car serviced:

JJ: I wish I was eighteen

Me: Ya know, kid, you really need to stop wishing your life away because once you're an adult, you don't get summers off.  You have to work!

JJ: I'm not going to work.  My wife is going to make all the money and I'm not going to let her touch it.

Me: I'm thinking you may not be able to get a girl to marry you that shares that philosophy on life.  Her doing all the work while you watch tv all day.

JJ: I won't watch tv all day; I'm going to watch our kids.

Me: You wouldn't last a day.

JJ: Yes, I would...unless my kid talked a lot.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bed and Breakfast?

I suppose that we are going through normal growing pains, but for a girl who doesn't trust easily anymore (not that I ever did) I have to wonder what is real and what comes with a catch.

My youngest son has made friends with a little girl across the alley, which is fine.  She is a total cutie and very precocious for five.  Her parents are also really, really nice.  Too nice maybe?  We live in a world where finding the good in people is sometimes difficult.  Let's face it, you can no longer get angry at someone on the highway in the event that the other driver could pull a gun.  "Nice people" in this day and age can turn out to be rapists or murderers or child abductors.  We live in an age where you can't necessarily take people at face value.  I wish I could, but there is always that little niggle at the back of my mind wondering what the bigger picture is.

So, the neighbor guy  has fixed a plumbing issue in our basement that would have cost us about $800.  He would only charge us for materials and the Brit managed to give the guy's wife money to go out and buy really good steaks for their dinner.  Now he is going to help put up the shed  out back.  His wife has hired my oldest son to help her out this summer and they have had both the boys up to stay the night.   My older son has hit it off with another boy that helps out the wife and I can barely keep track of the comings and goings through my house.  Not that I mind, except when I am put on the spot to have someone stay the night, who I have never met before and who is now standing in front of me while I am being asked this question.  It's a little awkward and though I have given the speech about the chain of spend the night or stay for dinner command, they don't quite get it yet. 

So I'm very torn between really liking these new neighbors and feeling a tad bit wary of them and it makes me a little bit sad.  I mean, I, on occasion, do nice things for my neighbors; homemade goodies for Christmas, loan out a tool, watch their kids for an hour while they can run to the store and I don't expect anything in return.  It's who I am and it's who I know other people can be too.  But it is sadly just so rare these days to find folks who don't want anything for their good deeds, but yet I don't want to be that person waiting for the other shoe to drop and land on my head.  So, I'm trying to be laid back about the whole thing and at the same time, keeping a watchful eye on it.

Did some work tonight on VBS sets at the church, and there is still more work to be done.  Truth be told, I'll be glad when it's over and the mission trip is underway.  Though I enjoy VBS, I live at the church that week, what with being employed there and then having to return a few hours later.  I am actually, really, really looking forward to a week of hard work with no monetary pay.  There is just something to be said about doing something just to be doing the right thing and the payoff is very personal.  Relay was like that.  Though it was miserably hot, there was a reason to be there and I feel like a better person for having been a small part of something that meant something.  I look for the mission trip to be more of the same and that I will be touched not only on a personal level but on a spiritual level as well.  When you are led into situations like that, you just know that you are about to be a part of something great.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

So another weekend has flown by.  Friday, I attended a graduation and a graduation party for one of my favorite teenagers.  Can't believe he is now a high school graduate and will be heading off to college in August.  Where does the time go?

Saturday morning was the monthly gathering of Fiber Fanatics, which brought us three new knitters, while we said good-bye to Sheri, who is moving to Salt Lake City.  I came to the realization today that I am not only going to miss July's meeting, but also August.

The rest of this month is crazy with getting ready for VBS, doing VBS and then leaving for Delbarton, WV for our mission trip.  Then it is home for a week before Women of Faith in DC and then things will slow down until vacation in August.

In August we are heading back to Canada to Massapequa with the kids for a week.  I'm so looking forward to it because I didn't get a real vacation last year due to it being the first year in my job, ergo, no vacation time.  But this year, I not only got a week, but opted to forego a raise to increase my vacation time to two weeks, which rocks.

Today was pretty quiet, which was a good thing and I'm planning on the same for next weekend.  The weekdays will be spent running errands, painting sets, making sure my house is in order to be away a week, and praying the Brit remembers to feed my cats in my absence. Usually, everyone is pretty good about making sure the fur children get fed, but then there is that occasional night when I get in late, like from Relay for Life, where I ask if the cats have been fed and the men all look at me as if to say, "What?  We have cats?" while the six cats are sitting between us, both expectant and hopeful that now that mom is home someone will be cracking open that cat food tin.  Often, when someone has forgotten to feed the, Grace will perch herself on top of the food can as a subtle reminder while Jonah proceeds to knock everything he can off the counter to try to get someone's attention.  With me, this works, but not always with the male of the species.

I came home once, probably about a year ago, and the Brit was in a tirade about what a pain Jonah had been.  It was about eight 'o clock in the evening and he ranted on about how the cat had knocked stuff off the counter, then knocked over a cup of water on the table, etc.  When the ranting was finished, I innocently asked, "Did you feed them?"  The Brit blinked, and I could clearly see understanding coming over him as he said, "I didn't think of that."

Thursday, June 7, 2007

525,600 Minutes

How is it that when it feels like just last month I took Aaron to his middle school orientation, that today begins their summer vacation?  Where on earth do the days go?  Seems that the older I get, the less I measure the years by January 1.  Now, I measure them in school years (where did it go?) and birthdays (Didn't I just have one?) and Vacation Bible School (didn't we just do this?).  It's amazing where time goes and sadly we don't realize just how fast it goes by until we are like thirty.

I remember being a kid and "Wishing my life away" as my mother used to say.  I wish I was sixteen so I can drive.  I wish I was eighteen so I could be legal.  I wish I was twenty-one so I could buy beer.  Then suddenly we are thirty and from there it all becomes a blur.  Now I have role reversal with my kids wishing their lives away and of course, when I tell them not to do that, because they are only kids for a short time and adults for the rest of the time, they just don't get it, but then again, I suppose they can't.

I still get amazed when thinking about times in high school and how things seem like they happened only yesterday.  Like the time our pseudo-drama instructor (the real one gave it up for a year) took four of us students to Georgetown to see "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".  We had a great time but as it turns out, pseudo-drama instructor had an alcohol problem and apparently while we were in the theater, someone slipped something into her drink.  For those of you who don't know, Rocky Horror is a bit of a wild show where some fanatics will dress as their favorite character and mine the part along side the screen. Different props and responses are also a norm.  It is also not unlikely that people will have alcohol and drugs there, though me, being an innocent sophomore, I had no idea.  I was there for the movie and to throw toast through the air.  Three of us were sophomores and the other student with us was a senior...who we found out that night also had a drinking problem.  As it turned out, by the time the movie was over, the senior was staggering around and the pseudo-drama instructor (known as PDI from now on) could not even walk...and she was not a little woman.

So, the sophomore boy took the senior boy to find the car while myself and the other girl attempted to carry this woman toward the car, all the while she is kicking and biting us to try to get away.  I am thinking my parents way did not read about this when they signed the permission slip.  We finally get her into the car and sophomore boy without a license is driving because, hey, he is sober.  The whole time, PDI is in the back seat screaming, senior boy is asleep and the other girl is trying to keep PDI quiet so sophomore boy can concentrate on license-less driving. 

Suddenly, PDI has had enough and starts reaching up to pull sophomore boy's hair, thus jerking his head back and forcing him to not be able to see where he is driving...on the interstate....near DC.  Of course, he is startled and swerves until we can get PDI's hand off his hair so he can see again (Ah, good times).  The girl is trying to stop it, but she is a little thing and PDI is not, plus she is in a drug induced, belligerent state, so the hair pulling continues.  Finally, sophomore boy pulls the car over onto the shoulder of the road, throws it into park, whirls around and punches PDI in the jaw, thus knocking her out (I'm telling you, this is the absolute truth.  Ya can't make this stuff up).

The rest of the ride is peaceful and by the time we get to our town, PDI is coming around and is much calmer.  We drop her and senior boy off at her house, then sophomore boy takes me home.  After dropping me off (it is now like 1:00 in the morning) he is taking sophomore girl home and is pulled over by a police officer.  Remember the no license thing?  Anyway, because he was pulled over, all our parents had to find out what had happened, my parents went to court on sophomore boy's behalf and under the circumstances, the judge let him off completely, and PDI lost her job as the school librarian/PDI.

Feels like it happened a couple of weeks ago, which is probably a good thing, because this mama isn't gonna be no dummy when it comes to her kids.  Not that my parents were, but they were different times back then and what happened that night was not a normal thing to happen.  Nowadays, I have to wonder if the likelihood of it happening or something similar is now greater.

I'm not sure why I went off on that story, but I've been thinking lately that I do have some stories to tell.  Life is interesting, even if it is short.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Still Relay

So, I'm still kind of reveling in the impact Relay made on my life.  I've done charity walks before, primarily March of Dimes back in high school and college, but it just wasn't the same.  It could be that I'm older now and in past years my life has been touched by cancer, or it could be that Relay really was different.  There was just this sense of unity among those on the field on Saturday that is so hard to explain.

I forgot to mention yesterday about the rain.  Apparently, the last couple of years, Relay in WV has been rained upon and Saturday evening as everyone was putting out the luminaries, the rain seemed imminent.  The winds, though a welcome change from the heat and humidity of the morning and afternoon, were blowing strong and dark clouds were moving in.  We were scrambling to attach the sides to our tent and to snatch up our luminary bags so they were not soaked by the storm.  They came over the PA to say that it was raining in a town only twenty minutes away and that if there was lightening and thunder, we all had to abandon the field and congregate in the high school.

Lisa was staring up at the clouds repeating again and again, "Not this year.  Not this year."  I closed my eyes briefly and offered up a prayer, probably along with hundreds of others.  "Please God, let it pass us.  Let us be able to honor people with the luminaries."

The storm passed us without so much as a drop.  It was just one of dozens of amazing moments that day.

I'm an idea person and I always like to start thinking about things way in advance, especially since we all know that the older we get, the faster time flies by us.  The most prevalent item for sale at Relay was handmade jewelry and though most of it was quite lovely, I'm now thinking of what else would be symbolic but different from the norm.  Of course, knitting comes to mind and in surfing the net a bit, it seems that there are many knitting projects for breast cancer, but that isn't good enough.  Relay was about cancer; not one particular kind of cancer, which is part of the reason I loved the event so much.  Yes, as a female, breast cancer is very personal, but my life has been touched by other kinds of cancers.

So, I'm thinking, because once I come up with an idea, I need to get on it as I am the slowest knitter in the world. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to jump right in.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Relay 2007

So much to say about Relay for Life and I'm not even sure I can find the right words to adequately state how I feel about the whole experience. 

First, I had no idea it was such a huge event.  I have never been involved with it before but now I just want to be involved more so in the future.  There were 90 teams represented on Saturday, with 1354 participants.  We raised over $252,533 for the American Cancer Association.   What I learned on Saturday is that Relay is the largest cancer fundraiser in the world, represented in 22 countries.  I had no idea just how big this thing was that I was about to be a part of.

Though the opening ceremony did not begin until noon, I arrived around 10:45 and located our tent.  Immediately, I could see the hard work and organization that my friend, Lisa, who was also our team leader had put into this.

There were tents everywhere, and every school in Berkley County was represented for the first time.  The only negative thing I can say is that it was HOT!  And HUMID!  All you needed to do was to sit still for the sweat to begin.  But it was all still amazing.

The opening ceremonies began and nearly 200 cancer survivors were represented, including Robyn (in the purple shirt with her friend, Kara, who walked for our team as well).

At the end of the opening ceremony, all the survivors were given folded up paper, each containing a butterfly, which was set free into the air.  If I'd had the good camera, I may have been able to capture it, but this was the best I could do:

The survivors then walked the first lap, setting the pace for the rest of the day.  One person from each team was to be on the track at all times, not that anyone kept track of it.  But they didn't need to.  Everyone knew what they were there to accomplish.

The team members who were not currently walking had different items for sale, with the majority if not all of the proceeds going directly to the American Cancer Society.  There was everything from jewelry to scarves, to light up jewelry for when night fell, to raffles for quilts, spa weekends, etc. 

Cancer is something that is so close to me.  My mother had it, my father died from it as did my uncle.  Robyn is surviving it.  The feeling of just being around so many people who were there for the same reason; to raise money not only for research, but to help those who have been diagnosed or who need care...there are no words to really describe.  It's such a horrible, unprejudiced disease that inspires deep terror in those who hear the word, so to be with a committed group of people in a positive light in the name of cancer was just inspiring.

During the day, they held different theme laps such as races and a frozen tee-shirt lap.  Poor Kelly did this one for our team and the shirts were made wet, tied into a knot and then placed in a freezer at the hospital.  Each participant had to get their shirt untied and on before their lap was completed.  Poor Kelly never did get the original shirt opened!  They finally gave her another one which she was finally able to peel apart!

There was also a huge memory board on the far side of the track with paper butterflies that you could fill out in memory of a loved one. 

For my dad

As evening fell, the luminaria ceremony began.  The entire track was outlined in luminary bags that had a loved one's name on it.  The bags are purchased with all proceeds going to the ACS.  There were moments of silence as the bags were lit one category at a time: for lost siblings, friends, survivors, lost family member etc.  It was incredibly moving.


After the luminaries were all lit, they showed a movie which contained the names and/or pictures of all those who were represented by the luminaries.  I walked my last mile during the movie and at the end of the mile, the alphabetical listing was only up to the Ps. 

I left to go home around 10:00 due to Graduate Sunday being the next morning.  The walk is supposed to continue through the night until the sunrise and end with a small sunrise ceremony.  The sad part about the event is that this did not happen this year:

"Now I need to address the 500 lb gorilla in the room.  The way Relay ended last night was not how any of us could have possibly wanted it to end.  We missed the sunrise ceremony, the awarding of the Spirit Stick, Aerobics with Lisa and many other activities that the Onsite Activities Committee had worked very hard to organize and plan for everyone to participate in last night.  I am sorry you did not get a chance to play, and I am sorry the committee could not have a chance for you to see the fruits of their labor.


I want you all to understand what went into that decision because as Chair, the responsibility of the decision lies with one person... me.  Around 1:15am, I was informed by multiple Relayers that a belligerent neighbor was at the fence line screaming at the Relayers.  It was enough of a potential security threat that I had to ask security to move to that side of the field.  Roughly 10 minutes later, Stacy made the announcement on the PA.  A formal complaint had been logged with the police and they arrived onsite to say we had stop all PA activity and all music.  We were not given an option to lower the volume, we had to stop.  We also had a few hundred participants left at the track, so a noise level would have continued.  In addition to that, I saw that we were still operating under full field lights... we had not switched to track lighting which was going to make the event much darker.  Although still bright enough to walk, it would have been a little difficult for field activities to take place, especially with no music or PA to address the participants.  Not wanting to develop a bad relationship with local law enforcement, keeping in mind that we plan on being back at Martinsburg High School in the future and thinking about just how successful Relay had already been, after consulting with some participants, committee members and ACS staff, I made the decision to announce that you could stay if you like, but Relay 2007 had come to an end. 


I wanted you all to see my thought process as to why Relay was "called".  I am sorry if you do not agree with me.  To be honest, I am very disappointed that the neighbor in question could not have come to us first to ask us to turn it down.  I realize now that we were broadcasting at the same levels at 1am that we had been at 1pm and a simple request could have avoided all of this mess.  I am sorry that Diana and the rest of the Heroes who were running the concession stand had all that food left over.  I am also sorry for those participants that left but came back for the  morning service and were disappointed to find it cancelled.

Although I am sorry that Relay ended the way it did, I am not going to let the ending dictate to me how I am going to remember Relay 2007.  I am going to remember the survivor lap with all those wonderful people proudly marching along the track.  I am going to remember that team lap  where from where i was standing it looked like everyone would not fit on the track.  I am going to remember the beauty of the luminaria ceremony and the emotion that it envokes in Relay.  I am going to remember the lives that will be positively affected within and outside our community by the money we raised.  I hope you do the same."

The above was from the Co-chair of the event and summed up what happened.  It made me incredibly angry to hear it and I intend to be far more involved for Relay 2008 to help make sure that nothing like this happens again. 

But putting that aside, Relay was a wonderful experience for me and I plan to put much effort into it for next year.  Oh and from my best guesses, I walked between five and six miles on Saturday,