Sunday, September 20, 2009

My life this summer has been taken up by two major events (yes, besides my bunny-infested garden). The first, obviously, is the impending arrival of our new baby, which has lately precipitated a whole domino chain of furniture moving. Specifically, we're moving our office -- which had been in our room -- into B's room, and B into the girls' room, and all of their bedroom toys into a new playroom where our dining room used to be, which is now in our living room -- you get the idea. I just have to say that I really resent Ikea engineers for creating a loft that requires the use of a teensy tiny hex key that you have to remove every quarter-turn because they placed the bolt too close to two boards.

The other major event in my life this summer has been the new faith-formation program that we're launching at three of our local parishes. I'm on the committee that has been planning this launch, so there have been lots of meetings, memos, and planning documents to go over. I have also helped with publicity by creating the video and the posters you see below. They were well-received, but I can't begin to account for the amount of time they sucked out of my life, especially the problem-plagued video. Buy me a beer or two and I'll tell you my tale of woe. (Which is saying something, since I don't drink beer. I just might need one by the end of my story, though.)

We've been rolling out the various components of GIFT (that's Growing In Faith Together -- cute, huh?) for the past two weeks, starting with the new, parent-centered second grade sacrament preparation (which M is going through for her first Reconciliation), and continuing on with our new catechist formation program -- and then today was the launch of the GIFT Community Gatherings, which is a two and a half hour deal that includes a meal, some table activities, a short "animation talk" on a faith topic, some small group work, and then a half-hour period for families to work on their "home commitments" -- what they're going to do for the rest of the month. Our priest sidled up to me during lunch and said, "This must be kind of like giving birth, after all those years of planning, huh?" Not that either of us would literally know, of course, but I thought it was a gunny confluence.

So here is the video, followed by some of my posters, which we've been rotating on the doors at the three churches since August. (Some of them even went in strategic places in the bathrooms.) Click on them to enlarge.

Monday, September 14, 2009

J on the nature of existence

Sometimes kids say the strangest things from the back seat of the car. This morning J comes up with, "We're in a book and someone is reading us." She said that out of the blue. I'm like, "What??" I had her repeat it, and that's definitely what she said. But when I had her explain it, she just said, "It's just what I think!"

More end of summer pictures

Here are a few more pictures of the party we attended over Labor Day weekend -- including Ben winning second place in the three-legged race.

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Last day of summer

The kids spent the last day of summer -- Labor Day -- playing nicely together. Sometimes they all collaborate to play a game the girls like (see the dollhouse video below). Other times, they play Ben's game -- like a few minutes after this video was shot, they were playing Bakugon superhero by running all over the living room saving each other.

Later in the day we went to McDonald's for an end-of-summer celebration. We also had a special prayer ritual where each of the children picked a sunflower to represent the summer, and then said a prayer of thanksgiving for one thing from the summer. We talked about how the sunflowers would eventually come to an end (die), but at the same time leave behind hundreds of seeds for even more sunflowers.

Not sure the kids really got that much out of it -- they were pretty bored -- but you never know what they're going to remember down the road.

School begins!

Well, the kids had a good start to the school year. B was nervous the first day -- didn't want to go, had stomach cramps, etc., and rated the day a "2" on a 1-5 scale. But by the end of the week he seemed back to his comfortable, easy-going self, and he rated the day a "4."
J, ironically enough, has been pitching a fit every day about not being able to go back to her classroom. She just doesn't understand why her neighborhood friends get to hang out together at school, but she doesn't. Maybe we will be able to afford to send her later in the year.

The kids on the first day. And, below . . . our garden may have had multiple crop failures thanks to the prolific bunnies and an unusually cool summer, but the sunflowers have just been exploding all over the place, which is quite a treat.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

An end of summer party

Well, summer has "officially" come to a close -- although, frankly, it's been consistently warmer the past week than for most of the summer. Blame it on El Nino, apparently.

We brought summer to a close on Labor Day weekend by attending a huge Celebration of Life party that a friend of ours threw to celebrate the end of his chemotherapy for stage 4 colon cancer. It was a grueling six-month ordeal, and he wanted to thank his very wide circle of supporters. The celebration was out on his parents' farm, tucked away in one of the pretty little valleys across the river about half an hour from here. The farm is actually the oldest in that valley, and is featured in First Farm in the Valley, the first of the popular series by Anne Pelowski. It was absolutely gorgeous: green sloping up and away all around us, with a small river (really more like a large creek) flowing through the valley. About 200 people attended this party, including a number of kids. Ben tried fishing in the pond, and all of the kids tried their hand at boating. Maria took out a small inflatable lifeboat and got stuck in the middle of the pond when she couldn't figure out how to row back. (She was completely calm about it.) Ben tried out the paddleboat, which Julia hopped a ride in as well. Being in control of their own watercraft was a new and exciting experience.

They had a number of kids games, too, including a three-legged race and a gunny sack race and a kiddie tractor pull. Ben won second place in the three-legged race, teamed up with a girl from Iowa. Pretty good, considering they were running against teens and adults, too. They received a trophy (an old golf trophy with a new plaque on it) and were told to draw straws for who got to keep it. Boy, they both really wanted that trophy. The girl's mother made her give it to Ben, who didn't object. But then I came in and suggested -- somewhat strongly -- that the grown-up thing to do would be to let the girl have it. It took him about twenty minutes, but he eventually gave it to her. But boy, did he struggle about that -- and later, he really regretted his decision, along the lines of, "I've never won anything before." That made me regret pushing the issue with him. But we printed out a picture of him with the trophy, and framed it, and now it occupies a proud place on his dresser.

Here are Ben and Julia in the tractor pull: