November 20, 2014

Farewell Randy

Just ten short weeks ago my brother in law Randy didn't feel so well.  On November 12th he passed away peacefully.  We may never know what really happened but there have been lots of theories.  I am numb trying to make sense of this.  Just two days before he passed we still had hope.  My heart aches for his family.  He has a new missionary in the field right now.  He was only 60.

I got to see things unfold through the lens of my neurologist husband.  That was good and bad I suppose.  Good to be more informed, but harder because I could see the looks of concern on his face that no one else could.  "This life is fragile" coming out of his mouth quite regularly.

I know it's not fair, I know he was a good man doing good things.  He had many people who loved him.  Why?  I want to know why!  But if he were a bad man doing bad things with many people who hated him that would have been the worse scenario right?  So it's logical to look at the good things he did and the fun memories we have of him.  That certainly makes it easier for a short time.  But then you just start feeling sad and gypped.  I tell my iPhone "my brother in law died" and Siri answers "I don't know how to respond to that"  I completely understand that response.  I'm struggling to find meaning and comfort as well.

Here are some memories I have of Randy.  His family and ours used to take family vacations together.  So I recall trips to Mexico with him as a teenager.  I believe it was either Randy who once heard me swear unknowingly at about the age of 8-10.  I saw him doing something mechanical to the motorhome and asked him casually "hey Randy, what the hell ya doin'?" He laughed out loud and kindly corrected my use of the word 'hell'.  I think I may have picked that up from Randy's Dad Lavar.

Randy loved to laugh and visit with people.  He was a tease but a nice tease, never poking fun at your expense, but laughing with you.  He loved to play games and he was really smart.  He loved his kids and really really loved my Sister Marie.  I learned at his funeral that he used to call her the most beautiful woman you've ever seen to anyone who would listen.  I loved him.

My husband said something profound as we were traveling back to Maryland yesterday.  He said you know it's sad that he's left loved ones behind but for him it's actually not that bad.  He lived a fulfilling good life.  He had a strong testimony and was doing good.  His children just about all raised with his last son on a mission.  You know he really went out on top and avoided the perils of growing old.  We think that when you die somewhat early that it's so tragic, but if you've done all you were meant to do then it's really not so bad except for the separation that death brings.  Someday when we have a different perspective our separation will seem like a short period of time.

I couldn't think of any of that eloquent stuff when I hugged my dear sister.  All I could say to her is "this really sucks!"  And she agreed.  Sometimes life sucks, but looking back on the good stuff makes it better, and after time has done some healing we will most likely agree that life is good.  Randy sure thought so during his lifetime.  He was a good example to us all.

Randy Loveless

August 04, 2014

The BS.... A

artistry by Jarom Vogel (a cousin)

As I said in my last post, we left our appointment with sad hearts thinking all was lost.  There would be no signature from Ms X making it impossible to meet with the board's monthly meeting in two days time.  On the ride home I discussed our options with my 2nd son.  There was the option of trying to find another who would sign.  Time being short that seemed unlikely.  We didn't even know where to start looking.  We could forfeit the court of honor party we were planning and spend the money on a plane ticket home some weekend in the near future with the only purpose of meeting with the elusive board.  That seemed like that was a silly way to spend 500.00 just because someone didn't like the spacing on your application.  Perhaps he would just like to be a Life Scout for Life.  I've known plenty of very nice men who never got their eagle scout award who turned out just fine.

It just seemed so sad to have come this far and not be allowed go the last 2% of the way.  I knew my son deserved this and more importantly he wanted it.  My apathetic son, who hardly found motivation in anything really, wanted to be an eagle scout.  He wanted to jump through the silly hoops to get himself there.  Even though the past month getting him through the hoops was painful, as long as he told me he wanted this, I was willing to keep holding his hand, guiding him through it.

His older brother had gotten his eagle two years earlier (with another frustrating experience with these scout enthusiasts).  I still recall that at my Big Boy's eagle court of honor, my Middle Boy seemed more excited about scouting and getting his eagle than I had seen before.  He wanted that cake and slide show party for himself one day.  I didn't want him to feel like he would be a life long 2nd to his brother in this department.  His older brother may rub his face in it.

Despite our pointless position I encouraged my son to work on the small details she had pointed out to him, and I contacted his Father who was away at high adventure campout for 3 days.  It was just the place my husband needed to be actually.  He was rubbing elbows with our scout district leader on the beach with boys from our stake at a scout outing.  The heavens where smiling down on us after all.  He talked to the right person who asked that we put down our situation in an email and send it to him.  T is good with words and wrote the most diplomatic reasonable explanation for why his son deserved to advance.  He simply explained our current situation, sited the BSA website where it explained that we only needed to provide references not actual letters in hand and asked for the board to consider meeting with him.

The email circulated all the way up to the district commissioner.  It basically started a firestorm of follow up emails.  One man being so upset that he accused us of feeling dismissed, waiting until the 11th hour, misrepresenting facts and going in the back door over their heads to get what we wanted, etc.  We just stayed silent.  Sometimes silence speaks the loudest.

The following day my son received a phone call asking if he was the scout that was leaving for college soon.  He replied that he was.  "Scan me a copy of your application and I will sign it for you" she stated.  We sent it.  Our date spacing was still off, that couldn't be helped a this point.  We also never changed his personal statement that she felt wasn't on point enough.  The board he met with said it was the best one they had ever read though : )

Ironically when I turned in his book at the official scout offices the secretary noted that there was no date by Ms X's signature.  I had to look hard to find it printed very small above her name.  On purpose?  Perhaps a way to have the last laugh on her part.  One last mini heart attack for the LDS scout slackers.  Well played Ms X, well played.

At the official board of review my son had a moment with one of the most angry of the emailers who decided to have 'a chat' with him.  This was relayed to me by our scout master who was close by. My husband and I were in the other room.  He asked my son "why on earth did you wait so long to be here tonight?  You did your project in 2012 for heaven's sake!  You denied yourself 2 years of serving in scouts as an eagle where you could participate in mentoring programs and so much more... why did you wait?!"  Evan kept his cool and replied "I'm good."  Even though he probably meant it as "I just didn't care about all this"  I really do think his wording was perfect, because he really IS good.  He's a good kid who on the following day helped a single mother for several hours with a move.  Too bad that didn't get recorded in a book somewhere so that he could report it as doing a good turn daily or something right?

Scouting represents a lot of good things.  It's really too bad when some people forget about being helpful and friendly, courteous and kind.  After it was over I did email the list of angrys.  I calmly thanked them for their accommodations, explained our situation, refuted the accusations and asked that kindness and communication prevail.  Never heard a word back.  Honestly I don't think they knew we were reading along all that time.  I also showed my son what you do when someone acts badly.  I walked up to that angry man looked him in the eyes, shook his hand warmly and thanked him sincerely for his time and for helping us out.  I was cheerful and brave.

Note the Fork

Boy Scout Law

A Scout is:
  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.

July 28, 2014

Scout Aggravation

The lady at the scout office was aggravated and insulted.  I was confused and frustrated.  How dare I suggest that on 'E-Trail to Eagle' my son's merit badges were all in there, all his advancements from Tenderfoot to Life Scout... complete!  "E-Trail to Eagle is NOT an official scout website" she screamed into the phone.  Then she managed to compose herself and apologize for her ruddiness.

You know when someone loves something.  I mean really really loves it then it's offensive when they encounter another human who does not study it and give it the proper understanding it deserves.  Welcome to the situation wherein you need to work with a scouting enthusiast.

In the past week I have had to deal with 6 of them.  It's an interesting road trip met with many detours and dangerous curves ahead.

My second son had met (albeit just barely) all the requirements to earn his eagle scout award, and just needed a couple signatures from them.  Now the scouters can smell a 'just barely' scout a mile away, and they don't appreciate the stench.  Where as I was just pleased he still wanted his eagle and was semi-willing to do the work to get there, the enthusiast just saw him as the weakest link in their eagle chain of command.

I won't even go into the problems he ran into getting signatures from merit badge leaders.  There were hurdles that he put there for himself and I don't like to rag on my own kids on the blog (at least I'm trying to repent of that).  But just know that it had been a bumpy stress-inducing road to get us through the last month to get to the point where we needed to enter the scouting enthusiast lion's den.  So we were already a bit frazzled.

Then came the day that my husband mistakenly decided to pick up the phone to call the book approval lady.  I realize she has an official title but I'm too inexperienced to know it.  And I am not ashamed of that fact either. See the apple doesn't fall far from the tree now does it?  The first book approver could not be reached via email or phone.  We just figured he was out of town.  Middle Boy had been the one trying to reach him.  We sorta did things hand in hand here.  I'd make my son call people (which he hated) and when he'd done his emotional quota for the day, one of his parents would step in and do a step for him on his behalf.  Like a good secretary would do for one's lazy boss.  Sorta.  On that day when T made the call, our son was actually out hunting down an elusive signature for a last minute blue card.  Here's how the call went...

"Hi are you available to look over my son's eagle application and book this week so that he can make the board of review this Friday?"

.... silience.... "May I ask why it is that your son is not making this call for himself?"  ...Sigh

"Well he should be, but he couldn't get through to the first guy and now he's out getting a signature, could you just let us know if you are the right person to call and we'll have him call you when he gets home or he'll get no supper tonight."  (Just kidding).

By the time we got to see the book lady face to face, her radar was on high and she was hip to us slackers. It made no difference whatsoever that we fawned over her dog who looked just like ours and had the same name!  She didn't care to see a photo.

She looked over his book like it smelled bad.  She took out things it didn't need and flung them on the table like they were radioactive.  She wondered why in world he had trouble on the computer with spacing the dates correctly (a problem no one had ever had before us).  We didn't need both the white and blue cards.  No extra photos besides the eagle project related ones.  Our essay was too warm and fuzzy.  Where was our list of accomplishments?!  No letters of recommendation in hand seemed to be the biggest no no.  Although when I pointed out to her that the website clearly stated that all the scout needed to do was provide names and information for people who could recommend you she acted like I was crazy. We looked it up later- guess what?  Not crazy.

So we left her house signatureless,  with our tails between our legs feeling like all was lost.  No board of review for us.  Leaving for college in 3 weeks and another board didn't meet until after our departure.  Christmas break would not work because, she informed us as we were about to leave,  "the board doesn't meet over the holidays."  Too bad for us.  Unless we wanted to foot the bill for a 500.00 plane ticket home just to meet with a board.  That seemed crazy.  Surely there had to be another way.

Well we found that other way...  Oh yes, we found it alright.  When you tell us no, we just figure well... we'll see about that.

To be continued

July 23, 2014

A Confusing Conversation With a Brazilian on FB

Hello Today I found his son in the transfer and talked with him
cool do you know where he is being transferred?
I think it was to not know right ribeirao saucer is much elder to me remember. kkkkkk But I guess he's in Ribeirao Pires. If I'm not mistaken he district leader
He is district leader. Did he meet his companion?
Mate it is a Brazilian I think also had a very Argentine then I'm confused but he was very excited because he would be transferred
thanks for the information
Nothing now will have to go to school. even more
good luck

Seen 6:01pm

Chat Conversation End

July 16, 2014

Summer Luvin'

Big Girl in a Hammock

Summer is well underway and quickly slipping though our fingers.  I believe I am not alone when I confess that Summer is both anticipated and dreaded by the stay at home Mother.  All our solitude goes out the window and we have to fill the fridge constantly.  We're suddenly responsible for multiple social schedules and we dread those three little words "Mom, I'm bored."

I am happy to report that this Summer somehow has turned out to be different from Summers of the past.  I can't quite figure out why.  Perhaps I have wised up a bit about how quickly my chicks leave the nest.  With one son out of the home and another just 4 weeks away from his own solo flight I am anxious to make the most of our time left.  This has turned into a Summer of good memories. We took off our training wheels. We have joined swim team. We have hiked 50 miles along the Appalachian trail (not all of us).  We've gone to the movies. We've enrolled in art camp. We've done girl scout day camp. We've been to a baseball game. We have enjoyed an outdoor movie night in our back yard with friends.  We've made excellent food together.  We've gown flowers and tomatoes. We've cleaned out closets and rediscovered forgotten loved toys.  We have made mini crossbows that shoot matchsticks out of hair clips and popsicle sticks.  We've eaten popsicles. We've taken music lessons (piano and violin). We have set goals like learn sign language, and fill the entire driveway with sidewalk chalk.  We're getting there.  A beach trip awaits with more good memories (one hopes).  Then finally...  a farewell trip to Utah where we will leave Middle Boy there to start college, fend for himself, and make his own dang quesa dillas.  I hope he gets his Summer reading finished.  I'm trying real hard not to remind him to do it. I'm trying not to be such a Momma to him anymore.  But how will he ever finish his eagle if I do that completely?
Pondering the Nat's chances

Aaaannd they're off

our mico crossbows
There have been a few thorny days with all this rosiness however.  I managed to rip my toenail up from the bed (again!! argh! @#&^"). There has been fighting. The kids have stayed out past curfew. Or had kids over to the house until way late.  The boys have been hard to get up off the couch in order to do....anything.  We've been bit by mosquito's, we've thrown up in the middle of the night.  Teeth have been extracted and braces are about to be put on for the second time.  I've had concerns about my children this Summer.  Will they stay strong?  Will they be safe?  Will they make good choices?  But that is something I do year round.

Today we actually bought school supplies for my soon to be 2nd grader.  Don't laugh, in my area the supplies go fast!  You gotta shop while the shopping's still good or it's total frustration.  I suppose that is a sure sign that Summer is on the downhill slope.  There's still enough muggy hot air around to justify Slurpees though.  So I'll take all the warm lazy days I can get until the cool solitude of Fall comes around.  And then I will welcome that too.  I hope you are smart enough to catch a few fireflies, get some pedicures, lay in your hammock, grill outdoors, do slip and slides in the back yard, and make home-made ice cream for the next few weeks.  That is my plan at least : )
2nd place in the kick board popsicle meet!

May 13, 2014

Busy Life!

Each year at this time I am reminded of how much I like Spring.  Everything is blooming and beautiful and the weather is lovely.  It is also the time of year that activities at school seem to be all happening at once!  It gets so crazy that you are longing for lazy days of Summer to kick in.  I compare it in my head to the last stages of pregnancy, where you will do anything to have that baby out and screaming at night to be fed, just to not have to be pregnant any longer.  

We had the school science fair where we tested our hamster's speed in a large cardboard maze.  That took some doing and at times had me wishing we had opted out since it was, after all, optional.  Then there came the school's variety show performance where both of my girls participated.  There was costume making, and drama, and lots of clear packing tape, and all that goes along with a big performance.  The end pay off was big though. So although I'm glad it's over, it was worth it.

My Happy Girl back stage before her "Glow Bots" routine

My performers after the show was over- whew!

My red head on the far left... workin' it
We had violin concerts and track meets and soccer games this Spring.  Put a visitor in there while all of this is going on and it gets even crazier.  It was fun to have my sister here helping me do all the stuff I do daily.  She made dinners and watched kids overnight and we had fun seeing the DC sights.  
My sister Dawn in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall at the Newseum

My life is just nuts.  No wonder I never blog anymore.  Too busy!  Oh I just remembered we also went on a fun trip to Palmyra NY and Niagra falls this spring.  Maybe I will tackle that in another post.  It was super fun!  We rented an RV.

Wandering through the Sacred Grove in Palmyra NY, not looking busy at all!

On the horizon I have an end of the year track banquet, a slide show to put together for the 5th grade recognition ceremony.  Then there is graduation for Middle Boy and hopefully an eagle court of honor just after that.  Fingers crossed!  At least the yard looks fantastic after the hired crew came and mulched yesterday.  My goal is to have the court of honor/graduation party back there before the weeds come back.  Wish me luck. I also need a new area rug for the porch.  It looks horrible right now.  Throw in soccer season for Audrey (we are just entering the finals), music lessons x3 and ortho visits x2.  Middle Boy gets his braces off just as Little Boy gets his second set on.  Good times!

Then there is my missionary in Brazil who sometimes gives me panic attacks.  I heard through my resources that he was in the middle of a big mob of police arresting bad guys the other day.  Then there were whisperings about a robbery that he was directly involved in.  He tells me nothing.  We did get to see his face on Mother's Day through Skype.  That was nice and he looked great.  I'm proud of him.
Elder F and Elder Tagg *a unique pair*
Skyping on the big screen with Elder Tagg
So even though life gets busy and kids get sassy I know I'll look back on this time with fondness.  Because doing something is better than nothing right?  I better get going if I want to stay on top of my life today, or perhaps I should just take a nice nap : )

April 06, 2014

Taking Care

When I was a young mother with smaller and less children I once had an encounter with a stranger in a hospital waiting room.  This older woman admired my small boys and began a conversion with me as we waited for our appointments.  "I can tell they are well taken care of" she commented.  I thought this over.  Yes I did take pretty good care of them.  But if I was a horrible mother in private and just spit-combed their hair down in public, would anyone really know?  So this thought prompted my next question to her.  "How can you tell?"  She said that she'd been watching me for some time and that she instinctively knew these were well-loved children.  She assured me that she had ways of telling.  She said it wasn't just that they were clean, but the interactions between parent and child that gave it away.

I remember I used to attend regular presidency meetings in a young mother's home where she would be frequently interrupted by her small children while we were trying to hammer out relevant things to our relief society callings.  I was always impressed by her consistent reactions to her kids.  Even after multiple interruptions, she would put on her "I'm so happy to see you face!" each time they'd enter the room.  Her body would lower and she'd look them directly in the eyes.  I was almost jealous of this great relationship she seemed to be having with her preschooler.  Was I that happy when my kid interrupted me?  The answer was no I'm afraid.

I've been sick this week.  I am not complaining (much) but when a common cold goes through our house it always ends up being uncommonly bad for me.  Everyone else in this house has recovered within 1-2 days.  I'm on day 7 here with a postnasal gunk-filled/ sinusitis/ sore-throat trifecta of misery.  I try to avoid antibiotics with a regimen of nasal rinsing, Afrin, Sudaphed, Mucinex, hot tea with honey, humidifier, and prayer.  When the mucus turns yellow and the headaches are never ending I head for a Rx.  It's a process.  I'm almost there.

My teenager saw how sick I was yesterday and did something amazing.  Up until this point he's complained that my fridge stocking has been below par lately.  However yesterday, without being asked (and that is really it isn't it?)  he washed a sink full of pans for me.  As I was trying to nap I thought, who could that be? T was at the store (shopping for groceries).  My son was not hesitant to tell me, and anyone else who walked through the kitchen in the next 30 min.  "Who do you think washed all these pans?  Me!"  If I could have hung that dishes job on the fridge for all to see I would have.  Earlier in the week he'd pulled a fast one, sleeping in, telling us he was 'sick' and just to take a senior half day off.  I guess he figured if everyone else was gonna be getting this cold he may as well ride the train for a stop.  It's hard to fake a cold though.  Either he was faking or he had the shortest lived sniffles of all of us.  Perhaps doing the dishes was his way of evening things up.  Or maybe he just wanted the insure his chances of going out with his friends later.  I am going to choose to believe that he just wanted to take care of someone he loved.

The joy in serving I saw on his face that afternoon was priceless.  So today I will give him that look like I am so happy to see his face, I'll try to stretch up to his level and look him in the eyes and tell him how much I appreciate him.