Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sandbox

We have the best sandbox I've ever seen.  By we, I mean near our house.  It is the Bob Rodale Cycling and Fitness Park that includes the Velodrome.  Across the street from the Velodrome is an adult track - .75 mile peanut shape for jogging, rollerblading and bicycling.  Beside that is a "tot track" and a sandbox - our sandbox. 

Every time before today, there have been at least 5 kids playing at the sandbox.  Today it was completely empty.  Nathan was so cute on the way from the car to the sandbox.  We passed two women pushing strollers.  He looked in the one stroller and said "You have a very cute baby."  The mom thanked him.  Then he asked "are you going to the sandbox?" She said, "No, I'm sorry.  We are leaving to go home and get lunch."  He looked at her and said, "Bummer, that's too bad.  We always have fun.  Bye!"

Here's an idea how big the sandbox is and how empty it was.  Look in the far end - that is Nathan waving at you.


We buried each other's feet, he crawled under the big rocks, we built some castles so he could knock them down, we timed him running from one end to the other (13 counts), looked for buried treasure and he tried out all the toys left by others.  All in all, a successful play date.

Oh, and I forgot, he also posed for a couple of pictures.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

DVD Wednesday

I don't think the DVD player in the family room is / was broken.  It would only play the first few DVDs I bought.  It actually wrote across the display "Can't read disc".  Then the combo player in the living room (plays both DVDs and VHS tapes) stopped working for playing DVDs.  It does still play VHS tapes.  Finally found out that formats changed and some players will not be able to read the new format DVDs. 

Yesterday I bought a Sony Blu-ray player for the family room.  It can connect wirelessly to the internet if I buy a thingy for the USB port.  Easy hook-up, worked right away.  I wonder how long it will be before they change the DVD formats again. 

Now I have quite the collection of DVDs, especially for kids.  And they were spilling out of the containers - so I also bought a shelf unit.  Today Nathan and I put it together and he is very proud.  He put the movies away and found a few he never noticed before.  It was a good day.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Proud of them

Every so often, I have to have a brag page about the grandkids.  {SMILE}

We are usually pretty good at getting to Katie and Micah's games.  However the last 6 weeks or so, between rain outs, tremendous heat and Iron Pigs games we missed a lot.  And this last week I had VBS and missed the whole week.  So, this weekend both Katie and Micah were in tournaments.  Micah's was the Laxapalooza north of Bethlehem and Katie's was USSSA Softball at Alton Park in Allentown. 

They each played multiple games and we got to one game for each. In the games we saw,  Micah (facing off and a middie) scored a goal and really played well.  He plays on the U13 lacrosse team even though he is 11, but unfortunately his team lost.  Katie (catcher) played well and the team won. 

In the games we didn't see, Micah's team struggled all day.  I don't think they won a game. Katie's team had a great weekend and so did Katie.  She was voted MVP of the last game on Saturday.  And in one of the games on Sunday, she hit a GRAND SLAM!!    The team made it to the quarter finals, but lost there. 

Both these athletes play hard and develop strong friendships with their teammates.  It really is fun to watch them because they really enjoy what they are doing.  Also it is my unbiased opinion they are extremely talented, strong and the best players on the field.  Well, they are!  You would say so too if you watched them.





Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Night

Tonight is the last night of Bible School.  It has been fun.  As predicted by my childhood experience, the kids are enjoying / remembering the songs, games and crafts.  But we really are having some interesting discussions.

Last night was the best so far.  The theme for the night was "How can Jesus help me when I mess up?"  The Bible story was the Prodigal son.  In it, the son asked for his inheritance, received it, squandered it and when destitute came home to his father and asked to be one of his slaves.  Instead his father welcomed him with open arms and celebrated his return. 

As we talked about it (read as I talked about it) they just seemed to think the son was stupid.  I tried to get them to tell me if they ever made a mistake and needed forgiveness and of course, they were perfect.  So I told them a story about when I was their age and needed forgiveness. 

We lived between two old ladies (probably my current age, ha ha) and a new family that had just moved in.  My friend and I were playing catch with a hardball in the old ladies yard when I threw the ball over my friends head and broke their basement window.  Like any scared kids, we ran!  And acted like we had no idea anything had happened.  Eventually we were found out and had to apologize.  Someone went with me to apologize and the ladies forgave me and gave me the ball back.

They laughed, asked me questions about how I felt and then started sharing stories, not just about themselves, but about people they know who made mistakes and had to deal with the fallout from the mistakes.  We talked about prayer, giving and asking for and receiving forgiveness.  These are big ideas and big topics for 4th and 5th graders. 

Then they went outside, chased each other around and the boys chased the girls.  Two steps forward, one step back.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Temporary

Do you ever do something "for now" and you look up years later and it is still there?

So do I. 

We had these really beautiful canvases made of photos Bill took in Seattle and Pittsburgh.  First they were sitting against the wall because we couldn't agree where to hang them.  Then they were on the dining table for the same reason.  Then they were leaning against the wall again.  Finally I wanted to get them off the floor, so I perched one in the family room on a bare nail, and the other in the kitchen on an equally bare nail. 

They are not in a great location and they are not at the right height.  But for some strange reason, every time I look at them, they make me smile.  I remember where we were standing when we took the pictures.  I remember being with Steve for the weekend in Pittsburgh.  I remember taking Frank and Bev back to the Seattle location where we took that picture.  Both were such great vacations and seeing the pictures lets me visit them again.  

So even though the pictures are in the wrong place at the wrong height, I love seeing them.  Now if I could just figure out what to do with the other things that are in places "for now."  Truth is, most of the time I don't even notice.  How about you?



Pittsburgh at Dusk


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chipmunks et al.

Since the deck is a bunch of support beams, the local wildlife is much more evident.  They can't scurry under the deck unseen and they have become quite brazen.  The birds are everywhere, the squirrels are entertaining but the most fun viewing is the chipmunks.
Wonder if this is Chip or Dale......

Look at his cheeks!  Any food I put out for the birds now is put away by the chipmunks.  They are really funny.  They run back and forth across the beams like they are having races.  They chase each other from one side to the other, but I never know what happens at either end because they jump down and disappear. 

I was throwing out old bread for the birds and I'm sure some birds do eat the bread because I caught this blue jay. 


I will stop feeding the birds because at this point I'm really not feeding the birds, I am feeding the squirrels and chipmunks!  Actually this time of year, the birds don't need my help.  Except for the hummingbirds.  I have a pretty feeder that only hummingbirds and - oh yes - ants - are interested in.  I will keep that one because we are on the hummingbird route.  I may also keep the goldfinch bag.  they are so pretty to see every day.
Now that summer is here, we don't see cardinals or blue jays in our yard.  It may have more to do with the construction than anything else.  Both are quite skittish.  I will be so glad when it is done.




Monday, June 20, 2011

Childhood VBS

I've been trying to remember Bible School when I was a kid.  As with many other memories, these are snippets of time.  There is not a full story in the pile of memories.   

 
Here are some things I do remember.  Bible school was two weeks long.  It was in the cool of the evening because we played outside for a while.  The snacks were usually Woodson Dairy vanilla ice cream in paper cups (where you could push the ice cream out) and pretzels.  We always had lemonade with it.  Why anyone would serve lemonade with that, I don't know.  The funny thing is, today our refreshments at church always include lemonade and iced tea.

I remember making things.  Can't you smell (and unfortunately taste) the paste.  I see the stick with paste on it that we used to coat the paper.  We would stick things into the paste; paper, beads, macaroni. sequins.  We had buttons, ice cream sticks, pipe cleaners and tin foil.  Milk cartons and oatmeal boxes worked for dioramas.  So many fun things to make.

I also remember singing.  We sang all the time.  Fun songs with motions like stomping feet, clapping hands and jumping up and down.

The last night was the best.  We got to take everything home. 

So this year, I have to remember the actions are the fun things.  It is what the kids will remember.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

I got to thinking about Father's Day a few days ago on Flag Day.  I reminded myself of the first time I played golf.  It was Flag Day and Vic Stahl took his daughter and my friend Mary, Clark Hamman and me golfing.  I think he was a State store employee at the time, and it was one of the many holidays they used to have.  Also, it was in the middle of the week, so it didn't take away from his usual Saturday games with his friends. 

So why did that remind me of Father's Day?  Well, Daddy and my brothers used to practice chipping and hitting in the back yard.  I, of course, wanted to play too.  So they would hand me a nine iron and send me to the corner of the yard to practice.  Daddy often sent me with "When you are old enough, I'll take you golfing."

He died before he could do this, but Mr. Stahl heard the story from me and decided he would fulfill Daddy's promise to me.  We had a really great day.  We were rained out after 17 holes, but I had a 97 with one hole to go.  I was pretty happy.  We played at the course Vic and Daddy played, Rich Maiden. 

I have not thought about this in years.  I imagine I am thinking about it this year because Vic Stahl died last December.  He was 99.   Daddy would have been 102 this year.  I like to imagine Daddy was very happy to see his old friend.  I can see them walking the golf course of heaven together.  

 Happy Father's Day Daddy.                              Happy Father's Day Vic. 

Howard Slotter
Vic Stahl

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vacation Bible School

It starts Monday night.  I'm not ready.  I am doing everything possible to not do my lesson plan. I don't know why.  I just don't feel like it.  Okay, I got that out of my system.  I hope. 

What I really dread is the Sunday "what did you do in VBS?" show.  Every class prepares something, a skit, song, reading that shows what we have been studying.  Last year, my helper mom was brilliant.  The theme was Super Heroes and she created a song using Spiderman, Batman and Superman tunes.  Kids loved it, I loved it and so did the congregation.

This year the theme is Beach Bash VBS.  Beach boys music maybe?  Elvis ?  AARGH! 

Anyway, wish me luck.  I could use your prayers too.  So could my kids!

The Deck

Want to find a fun way to spend 6-8 weeks?  Rebuild your deck!  Yes, I said rebuild your deck.

Our deck is gigantic, probably 20' x 40' and if you set foot on it, you'll probably get a splinter.  It was built about 25 years ago, and wasn't maintained by the first two owners.  So, when we bought the house, we always figured that a little TLC would make it nice, pleasant or at least decent.  NOT!  After 17 years, we decided to rebuild the deck ourselves.  Do you sense sarcasm?  No, more like..... concern.  This is a big job.

So Bill enlisted the help of his son Eric to work with him.  They began by removing all the deck boards and stacking them in a 20 cubic foot dumpster.  Then it started raining - and raining - and raining.  In three weeks, they were probably able to work three days.

The fun part for me is that I get to watch Nathan while Eric works with Bill.  It is more like I get to play with Nathan.   Today we went on a hunt for a new playground.  And found one about 2 miles from our neighborhood.  Great slides, climbing stairs, all the things you'd want a nice playset to be.

We really had hoped to have the deck completed by July fourth and have a big picnic.  And it may (operative word is May) be completed by then.  But we decided to scrap the plans committing for the fourth picnic.  As George 41 would say, "Not gonna do it."  Or was that Dana Carvey acting as GHWB?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Days Gone By

Often I come across an email that reminds me of my childhood.  Below is one.  It reminds me of the small corner grocers, nosy neighbors, wash hanging on the lines, laying in the grass at night watching the stars and in daylight watching the clouds.  It was a more innocent time.  The "I" in the story is not me and I don't know who it is. 

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

'Hello Barry, how are you today?'
'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good.'
'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'
'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'
'Good. Anything I can help you with?'
'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas..'
'Would you like to take some home?' Asked Mr. Miller.
'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'
'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'
'All I got's my prize marble here.'
'Is that right? Let me see it' said Miller.
'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'
'I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked.
'Not zackley but almost.'
'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'. Mr. Miller told the boy.
'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado, but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts... All very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
 
Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

‘Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size... They came to pay their debt.'

'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho.' With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of coffee you didn't make yourself. An unexpected phone call from an old friend. Green stoplights on your way to work. The fastest line at the grocery store. A good sing-along song on the radio. Your keys found right where you left them. All are everyday delights if we just stop to notice.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Convention Article

Thought I might share an article I wrote as a description of the annual conference for the Northeast PA Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  At the conference, officers are elected and there is much mingling and visiting.  Somewhere along the way, our faith is strengthened and shared, too.
Twenty-Second Annual NEPA Women of the ELCA Conference
I was driving on unfamiliar roads.  It wasn't bad enough that I was nervous about attending my first convention where I knew almost nobody, but now I had to deal with a detour.  Thankfully I had the foresight to be in my husband's car.  It is new and equipped with a GPS navigation system.  Still I was working hard to remain calm.
Thinking about the convention reminded me of the convention theme "For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under Heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1.  Boy isn't that true.  Sometimes you don't know the season has changed until you are in the middle of it!  There is a line in a song from the musical Wicked that always hits home with me.  The song is "Thank Goodness" As the good witch thinks about her life she muses, “There are bridges you cross, you didn't know you crossed until you've crossed.”  Sometimes decisions you make change the course of your life - if only for a short while.  These thoughts kept me busy until before I knew it, I was at Friedens Lutheran Church.

A whirlwind of registration, refreshments and introductions ensued.  Our first order of the day was a worship service with Holy Communion.  How blessed I felt to be among these women standing and worshipping together.  Kathleen Schaeffer AiM  delighted us with a thoughtful and humerous look at the five Ecclesiastical times chosen to represent the theme: a time to embrace, to sow, to heal, for peace and of love.

As a delegate and voting member, the business segment required my attention.  And we went about the business of rules, committees, Synod WELCA nominations and voting.  Charlene Walker-Horton representing the National WELCA President Beth Wrenn spoke about the eighth Triennial Convention and Gathering taking place in Spokane, WA in July.  She also challenged us to all "Act Boldly" - and find your bold.  I like thinking about that - “Find your Bold”  Where can I be of service that also fulfills me - makes me empowered to be bold? 

We heard the wonderful story of Camp Noah.  It is a day camp that is for kids affected by disaster.  This year there will be a camp in Allentown for children affected by the explosions where it provides an opportunity for them to share their own story, and offers a safe place for them to face their fears and grieve their losses.

Then it was time for group sessions.  It was really hard choosing only  two of the three excellent offerings.  What would you choose if faced with these options :  Justice for Human Trafficking,  Global Mission Support, Bible Study “Living Between the Trees”?  We had the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns at every session.  Throughout the day, my thoughts keep coming back to “A time for every matter under Heaven” These are serious issues we discussed.  I wonder what the time is for acting boldly.

Our ritual transition and installation of officers was emotional as outgoing president Pat Reitnauer received accolades for her accomplishments and many years as president.  Incoming President Dawn Talley has two years to make her vision of  more participation and interaction among units a reality.  She is ready to act boldly.

The convention was formally closed and NEPA Synod Bishop Samuel Zeiser delighted us all with stories of the crosier.  The crosier, given to the NEPA Synod by the Women of the ELCA, travels with the Bishop as he visit’s the many churches in the synod.  As a way of connecting us all together, he encourages grasping the crosier like so many of our brothers and sisters have done.  As he travels around, the crosier  carries with it the love, support and hopes of the congregants that touch it. 

Music by “The Dogs” ended the day.  And as we all went our separate ways, I looked back fondly at the women I met, the focused opportunities for learning and the charge we were all given to Act Boldly.  My day that started worry ended with a gladness that I share the love of Christ with this community of women.  And as the times for every purpose under heaven change our lives, we find Christ right there waiting to take us through.