Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Waiting...

Husband's grandmother is dying.  She is days away from ninety and ready to go.  She has already lost a husband and son and is wanting to be reunited with them.  It is hard.  It is hard to go on with the daily minutiae of your life while you know someone you love is slowly slipping away.  She is in hospice care and is not in any pain, but there is an aura of sadness all around.  We know she wants this, but it doesn't make it any easier.  We have told the kids that the end is near. They are pretty upset.  Daughter has grown close to great-grandma and this is the first time someone so special is this close to death.  I wish I could protect my kids from these realities. Grandma will be greatly missed.

UPDATE: M.P. 1922-2012  Rest In Peace

Sunday, July 29, 2012

St. Louis Culture

I moved to St. Louis seventeen years ago.  I so wish this had been around then.  It totally captures St. Louis culture and identity.  WhatHighschoolShouldWeCallMe. So, if you are planning a visit or move here - I highly recommend you study this, people will think you have been here for years.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Dovekeepers

I just finished reading this book by Alice Hoffman.  I loved it and recommend it to anyone looking for a good book.  It is in my favorite genre of historical/religious fiction.  It has got me thinking a lot about faith.  The books follows four main characters during the years after the fall of Jerusalem - around 72 CE.  It follows their lives through those horrific years and the maturation of their faith in Adonai.  It is a fascinating look into multi-faceted world of Judaism after the fall of the Temple.  While the faith of each of the women highlighted was unique to her, their devotion and personal relationship to God was similar.

What impressed me most about this book was the constant hardship, destruction, and personal sacrifice each of the characters endured, yet their faith remained.  I often wonder if I could ever have that much faith.  My life has been incredible easy.  I have been fortunate that no true hardships have crossed my path.  When you hear of the personal and political struggles people go through, I wonder how they are able to hold on to their faith.  How do you stay a believer when your child is terminally ill, your country is at war, your mother dies far too young?   I have known people who have gone through all these horrors, yet they continue to believe.  I am amazed by it.  It is one thing to believe "God is Good" when your life is going well, it is a whole other story when you are struggling to survive. I guess it boils down the eternal question "why?".  Do you believe their is a reason for every thing or do you think it is all just random?  What is the greater comfort?  Does faith provide the reason?  Does it make life easier or harder?  These are all questions I have been pondering these past few days. I am drawn to the believers, but there is always that small kernel of doubt that questions everything.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Will God Be Mad?

The other day, I was talking to my eight year-old about the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  He was going to see it with his grandparents that night and I was telling him how funny it is.  It is actually one of my favorite musicals. Only Andrew Lloyd Weber could make a story of liberation be so entertaining.  Due to his Lutheran schooling, Son is very aware of this story and takes it pretty seriously.  After I was through telling him about all the silliness in the musical, he looked at me very seriously and asked, "Do you think God will be mad?"  The thought had never occurred to me.  I told Son that I believed God has a wonderful sense of humor and would love that we were learning one of his lessons in such a fun way.  Nowhere is it written that Bible stories have to told in heavy solemn voices.  There is a time for that, but sometimes it is ok to have a little fun while learning about something so important.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Positives of She & Me

Despite what I wrote yesterday, there were some great positives of She & Me Girl Scout Camp.  A huge one was that I did not have to plan, shop, or be responsible for the unit!  No stress on me! If you have ever taken a troop camping, you know how much work it can be for the leader/organizer.  I didn't have to go the grocery store, cook the meals, or get up with crying children in the middle of the night - yay! I also didn't have to worry about having the many necessary certifications to do stuff at camp.  I just followed along and hung out with Daughter.  I could just focus on being with her and not worrying about the troop as a whole.

The counselors were fantastic.  After watching them, I realized camp counseling is definitely a young persons job.  The amount of energy, positivity, and work they did was impressive.  It is one thing to do this once, but most of them had been there all summer, in the heat, and still managed to make it fun for the girls.  Additionally, there were several counselors from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.  Our lead counselor was from Aukland and it was cool for the girls (and moms) to learn a little bit more about another country.   Each international counselor added localized vocabulary that added another demension to camp fun and learning.  Especially funny was when an English counselor said at a certain time we would do a "booty check".  We all looked at each other thinking what does that mean?  Evidently, she actually said "buddy check".  She laughed along with us and it broke the ice.

I enjoyed getting to meet other moms, many of whom are troop leaders/co-leaders.  I came away with a lot of ideas to try with my troop and information about different opportunities for the girls to participate in.  Their daughters varied in age from five to twelve.  It was wonderful to see the older girls help and teach the younger ones.  I love seeing them work together.  It added to the experience.

We also got to spend one night under the stars.  It was a lot of fun to sleep outside as opposed to the tents.  We got to stargaze and wake up with dew covering us.  I slept the best that night.  I need to explore if this is a possibility for troop camp.  I think it would be great for the girls to sleep outside and see what a dark sky really looks like.

A favorite funny memory involves Daughter.  We were at the shelter and she had walked to the covered garbage bins to throw some trash away.  It was dusk and the bins are several yards away from the shelter.  I look up, and Daughter is walking back with the garbage.  I asked her if everything is ok.  She very calmly states that there is a raccoon in the bin.  The counselor pops up to go check.  She later admitted she thought Daughter was joking (if only she knew my daughter and how rare that is ;-).  The counselor lifts the lid, and suddenly screams and runs away.  We all break out laughing.  I wish I had a video of it.  Evidently, there really was a raccoon and it jumped out at her and then scurried off.  The look of terror on her face was priceless.  Thankfully, she has a wonderful sense of humor and was able to laugh about it later.

Things things all made camp more enjoyable!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

She & Me

These past few days, daughter and I were at She & Me camp.  It is a mother/daughter program of the Girl Scouts and held at the camp that our troop usually goes to.  Daughter has been wanting to go to GS residential camp for a few years, but couldn't get any of her friends interested in going with her.  It just isn't as fun to go by yourself (especially when you are already a huge introvert).  So, this seemed like a great chance to spend some time together and an opportunity for her to experience it.  I LOVED residential camp when I was a kid. I still have fond memories of Camp Tahigwa

I thought a lot about how to write about the experience.  It was such a mixed bag.  Did Daughter have fun? Yes!  Did she get a full camp experience? Yes!  Did we get to bond? Yes!  Were the counselors as fun as I remember? Definitely Yes!  Would we do it again? I am not so sure.  Honestly, for the price it cost, I am seriously thinking of planning my own mother/daughter trip to Trout Lodge instead.  Why?  Glad you asked ;-)

First, the INCREDIBLE amount of rules.  I have never experienced anything like this before. I want to say, I do understand why they have rules.  If I was a counselor in charge of a bunch of 7 year-old, rules are helpful and for safety.  But, the extent they went to got to be a little crazy (especially since a parent was there with their child).  For instance we were not allowed to leave the dining table until we had drunk three glasses of water.  Additionally, the glasses were only allowed to be used for water - not milk as one mother learned very quickly.  I get that it is hot outside, but I felt like a child.  You also could not leave any station without a full water bottle that you had to carry at all times.  I would like to note, we were not in a dessert.  The distance between camp sites was not extreme.  There was water everywhere, staff everywhere, and a nurse on site.  Another example is the pool.  Both groups of She & Me participants had to wear red wrist bands.  This was to show that we could not swim in the deep end (which is another frustrating story).  Well, we all get to the pool and one little girl doesn't have hers on.  Mind you EVERY one at the pool is with She & Me - therefore, there is a guardian for every girl.  They would not let her get into the pool until she got another wristband.  Seriously?! To quote the lifeguard "it is a rule."  I can not tell you how many times I heard that phrase.

Second, all the cleaning.  I did not PAY to go to camp to clean up after other people.  I know that doesn't sound very nice, but the very first night we were there - we had dining hall clean-up.  We haven't been there even three hours and I am sweeping and mopping the huge floor.  We also had to wipe down the bathrooms and take out the trash.  Our counselors generously scrapped all the plates for us.  We got stuck doing this three times.   We were not the only group there, there were a couple of other kid only programs going on.  It was so frustrating to be looking forward to spending some time with my daughter, only to have it spent cleaning.   I have no problem cleaning our own camp site - I would expect that (which we did have to do), but in addition to the daily dining hall clean-up, there was also an end-of-camp clean-up assignment (we got the craft area & trash hike).  I felt like a significant portion of our camp experience was spent cleaning.  Not fun.

Finally, there was a strict schedule.  If Daughter and I hadn't been lucky enough to get there early - we would not have had any opportunity to go hiking.  (which we could only do with another pair b/c you have to hike in groups of four!!)   The days were very scheduled.  This was plus and minus.  We got to do fun things like canoeing and tie-dying, but left no time for exploring and relaxing.  Several of the parents were upset with this.  I think we all had this image of doing some scheduled activities, but having plenty of time to do what interested us. This was not the case.  I don't know if it was miscommunication in the program description or we just all didn't read the fine print very well. 

I am glad Daughter got to experience what camp is like, but I am disappointed we were so restricted in what we could do.  I am looking for an experience that Daughter and I can have that lets us choose what we want to do and explore that day.   It was hard to live within such confines.  Now that I have had some space, the negatives are starting to fade, and the fun things are floating to the top.  I am going to just focus on them, because, overall, it did accomplish my goals.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Eleven

This awesome kid is eleven today!  He is spending it doing his favorite activity: Harry Potter Legos.  Lucky him got Diagon Alley: 2000 pieces of joy.  His mind is constantly figuring, building, and problem solving.  He has a big heart and an incredible soft spot for animals.  He will go far in this world, but I know he will always stay close to home.  I love you JD!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!


Have a safe and cool one!