Passion Project

(Post contains video. Watch at website for best experience.)

The awesome school that two of our nieces attend has the students in our elder niece’s grade create and implement a “Passion Project.” Our niece is an animal-adorer, and she’s done many fantastic things to support and learn about animal adoption and welfare of the years, so it was understandable that her Passion Project would center on animal welfare.

The local animal adoption agency that we’ve worked with: Proverbs 12:10, has been the grateful recipient of her work. Once a week for the last several months she’s been fostering a puppy. This gives foster families a break, or if they need a puppy sitter while they go on vacation, or if there’s a week before the new furever family can take the puppy, the puppy still has a loving, warm place to learn how to live with a family.

We’ve been thrilled to have her bring over the various puppies so we can meet them too, and this week we got to puppy sit all morning.

Brawley has the paws of a St. Bernard, and the funny puppy run to go with it. It was such a treat to have a dog in the house. And a puppy, much like a baby, needs lots of play, then sleeps for hours.

Not all of us were thrilled with our visitor.

Pondering…

It was a gorgeous, sunny day; perfect for a walk and bounce.

So exhausted.

Noses taste delicious!

With these silky soft ears to stroke, and some hearty laughter at those paws, our need to adopt a dog of our own was assuaged for a few more months.

Dreaming of squirrels…

Nine Hundred Ten Posts

It’s a little lame to post my 910th post as a post about posting my 910th post.

I’m doing it anyway.

I love this family journal of a blog. I’m grateful for the memories stored here and the joy it brings us when we read back over these memories.

Thanks to those of you who read it and write to me to tell me when something has surprised, inspired, or given you a surge of love. I’m grateful for that.

As your bonus for reading this non-post of a post, I asked google to search my photos to find photos that showed “love,” and here’s a partial display of the fascinating assortment it selected.

An art project Buds and Monkey made for me over a decade ago.

Thanks for reading.

Listening And Learning As A White Family

Since the current administration was elected, I’ve tried to learn to be quiet. To listen and learn from those who are suffering at the hands of the homophobic, anti-any-religion-but Christianity, white supremacists who are currently (mis)leading this country.

Every single day something new and horrifying happens. Just when you think #45 cannot do something uglier, more insipid, or illegal, he does.

To counteract the disgusting sickness of racism that has always been lingering in our country, but was more hidden when we had someone with grace and a modicum of human decency in the White House, our family is exposing ourselves to different resources than we had been previously. We’ve subscribed to new magazines, I’m reaching out to people in new and different ways, and we’re watching for our own blindspots when we can.

I considered making this post about the ugliness that is so easy to see once you begin to look for it. When I’m seeing it as a privileged white woman, it’s disheartening to think about the folks who are having to live in terror everyday because of the Bigot in Chief. I see it because I’m actively looking for it from the safety of my skin. Other folks don’t have that veneer of protection.

Instead I am choosing to share some of the intriguing, outstanding resources we’re learning from.

We now subscribe to Essence magazine, for example, and here’s an article that wouldn’t be found in many publications:

An article I wouldn’t have seen if we didn’t subscribe to Essence.

I read this article in the NYT: N.A.A.C.P. to Missouri: You’re No Safe Space (Still) and my eye was caught by this:

“The advisory evokes an era when African-Americans relied on sources like The Negro Motorist Green Book to guide their travel choices.”

Here was obviously a part of history of which I was unaware. So we purchased The 1963-64 International Green Book to learn more.

Yes, this was a necessary thing.

Consider this for a minute…if you had to have a book that told you where you could eat and sleep without fear of being abused because of the color of your skin. If you are white, in this country, or in most places, this was never, ever a thing you had to plan for.

A good friend did tell me there was a similar publication for GLBT Folks.

A feeling of shock and sickness at how few options there were in Iowa, but then tears of relief and joy and pride fell when I read The Green Book:

So few options in Iowa.

Listed in Newton, Iowa; The Hillcrest Motel.

That was my aunt’s motel.

My cousin could only find these two pictures of pictures to share with me. They show the office/house part of the motel. The motel of approximately 16 units would have been on the right side of these pictures. There was also a small cottage behind the office that she rented out and a mobile home at the opposite end of the parking lot for longer-term renters.

She was my favorite aunt, and I stayed the most often with her and Uncle Bob. (I probably stayed equally as often with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Charles who had my best friend cousins.)

When you stayed with Aunt Lela, you were going to be helping clean the motel, eating incredibly well, and watching as she cared for the many animals she loved over the years.

The one picture I have of the two of us.

I learned a lot from Aunt Lela, including how to crochet, and oh, how I wish I could ask her questions about The Green Book and her place in history. I remember reading a description of the motel in a AAA Guidebook, and it mentioned how spotlessly clean it was.

Consider that, too. The Green Book didn’t even mention specifics about the places because to be a Traveler of Color meant your options were limited, at best.

Another great resource has been the Black History Flash Cards. Surely by now we all recognize that history is written by the victorious, and I’m attempting to address the great gaps in my understanding of the world and history. These have been a fun way to learn things.

I’m reading different websites, learning from different people, listening, listening, listening. And we’re watching for the bias in whatever we read and hear from social media and the media in general. We’re considering the source, always.

This last year + has been an interesting social experiment for me. I’ve realized it takes effort and thought to SEE and learn outside of our zone of the typical. It takes effort to meet and create new friends outside the zone of the easy connection. And always in the back of my mind is the realization that I’m learning from the safety and comfort of my white skin in my safe, comfortable home. I can’t change that, but at the very least I am learning to recognize the privilege of it.

And when the karmic enormity of it gets to me; when it feels like the world is too ugly and evil and I cannot understand how humans can be so unkind to each other, I try to remember:

Trying to remember this.

Celebration

We hosted a game night/birthday celebration with our best friend families down here, and it was the perfect storm of delightful, safe, insightful conversation, and laughter, games, and stories that we all love.

Let the games begin.

The cake was chocolate on chocolate with chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup available in case you didn’t get enough chocolate.

Everlasting candles provide great entertainment.

Introducing friends to “You Suck At Cooking”

Laughter together

Bonding time

How long does it take a group of UU’s to get a decent picture?

I love these people.

So grateful to be on this journey with these other families.

Teenage Humans

I picked up this book from the library a couple weeks ago, and the teens discovered it last night.

A hilarious conversation ensued where Buster would read parts of it, and he and Monkey would guffaw loudly at this author’s perception of teenagers.

It reminded me, once again, of how outside the box it sometimes feels our lives are. The delight we are finding in these people as they age…I’m continually grateful.

Buds and Eddie had a Virtue Ethics class with just Buster and Monkey at church on Sunday and Buds was so proud and humbled by the ability of Monkey to philosophize with these two adults she feels safe with.

The sheer amount of time we all get together means the luxury of intense connection and discussion. I don’t remember anyone telling me about that as a benefit of homeschooling, but it is the one I am often most thankful for.

Waffles also enjoyed the discussion.

And the takeaway from the book discussion from Monkey, “Treat teens like humans, with the same respect we all give each other. It’s not hard.”

Seems pretty clear.

The End of An Era

First the births ended.

Then the nursing.

The diapers disappeared next.

Car seats and brushing teeth and wiping bums.

Co-sleeping, carrying them on a hip or in a backpack.

All these milestones have come and gone, and yesterday another one passed us by.

Yessa, the youngest, lost her final baby tooth.

I have loved every single stage of this journey, and the older they get, the more I love the people they are. Much like with Buds, I don’t know how I can love them more, then the next day they do something else loving and amazing that awes me.

I’m not sure there are many physical milestones like these left. One of the three has grown taller than me. That may or may not be the only one to do that. All the females in the house can share clothes. I consider that a blessing for the fashion-challenged individual that I am.

Monkey reminds me that someday they will all be drivers. Someday they will all (probably) move out. Someday I won’t be with them everyday.

Onward to the next adventures.

Neurons Firing

Just a typical afternoon in our casa.

Blog posting and snuggles

Buster settled in by Buds.

Then this happened:

Listening…

Buster sat up and said, “I can’t hear any neurons firing.”

He stood up, walked over to look at the clock on the stove and said to me, “Time of death 1:28 p.m.”

And then he and I dissolved into laughter while Buds looked up from his writing, confused.

First Family Book Club

We love Family Movie Nights, and we love when friends come over for game nights, so we decided we needed another tradition. Monkey and I used to belong to a Mother-Daughter Book Club; good food, good friends, great books, a recipe for a perfect event.

Monkey knew immediately what book she wanted to share with us, so her book was our first.

by Intisar Khanani.

Buds had the idea of everyone snuggling on the two beds together in our room so we could be sure of connecting without distractions…besides the cats.

This first book club was great. Great discussion, wonderful insights, and the first book in a trilogy, so more to read.

Starting the talk.

One family picture attempt.

We’re going to need longer arms.

Peter Mayer and Singing

Editor’s Note: Lots of videos in this one.

Monkey just informed me I needed to write a post about Peter Mayer and how much we all love to sing along to his songs. She says not enough people know about him and more should.

Our family has known of him for nearly a decade now from back in our UUCF days. He sang in the service on Sunday morning then Monkey and I attended a concert of his that night in the sanctuary. We loved, loved, loved him. Then, after we moved to Nash, he presented a concert down here at the other UU church and our whole family went.

Blue Boat Home is the one song our entire family knows all the words to and we will sing it with abandon. One of my favorite Italy memories; we were walking into the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro singing our little hearts out.

(We aren’t professionals, but we are certainly sincere.)

In addition to his heartfelt UU-hymn type songs, Peter has many hilarious songs. Among the favorites for us:

Buds gave that one to all his co-workers at Juice.

One of our favorite days: Jama Day:

The ear worm song:

And finally, a haunting reminder that Everything Is Holy Now:

Happy Singing.

What a Sunday!

What a whirlwind Sunday turned into.

We all had a lovely morning hanging out together. Buds and I got in a workout before church. It’s one of the reasons we love that our church service doesn’t begin until 11 a.m. It makes for a relaxed way to ease into your Sunday.

Because once we got to church, the day didn’t stop.

It was one of the infrequent Sundays where Buds and I got to be in the sanctuary to hear the homily together. Normally one or both of us are teaching Religious Exploration, so this was a delight.

On top of that, one of our favorite guest speakers was presenting:

January 28, 2018 – Guest Speaker, Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D. – A reflection on “The Parable of the Dishonest Steward” (Luke 16.1-9): The right thing for the wrong reasons? The wrong thing for the Right Reasons? How do we find a moral center?

A.J. presented her message as a talk-back session so there was lots of lively interaction, which our congregation loves. The nugget of the message was talking about how knotty a parable this one is, and what the heck was Jesus meaning?! There were also questions about how our morality is tied up with our perception of how much a person has. (Is it worse to steal from a rich person or a poor person? Should one truly be “better” than the other?)

That led to great discussion for Buds and me, but the discussion had to wait until later.

After church I had a Board Meeting and Monkey had agreed to provide childcare. I only got a picture of her with one of the children, but at one point she was entertaining six kids on the playground outside. She had brilliantly convinced them all to sit on a big swing together so she could keep them corralled.

After she was done she told me, “I’ll gladly babysit again, but I’m exhausted.”

Playing with a 40 year old game that still works!

While Monkey and I were taking care of business at church, Buds and the littles went to cousins’ house for crepes. It sounded like they had a delicious time there.

THEN, we met up at Aldi’s to get our family grocery shopping done. We love that little store, and the family was excited to tell me when we walked in that there was a queen-sized mattress for sale. Buds and I love our Aldi’s mattress, so Monkey got a new mattress, too. Luckily we had driven two cars to church so we had room for all the people, all the food, and the new mattress.

After we got home, Buds had a brilliant idea.

“Guys, remember how in the big yellow house and the Reston house we used to have the two mattresses side-by-side? Let’s do that for Family Book Club!”

Yes, we still had Family Book Club left for Sunday afternoon.

So while I grabbed some lunch, the rest of the crew got the new mattress all unpacked in our bedroom.

I’ll write about Family Book Club in a separate post, but to wrap things up here I searched up a picture of our old double mattress set up from the Reston house:

Buster is zonked.

And seeing Buster sleeping like a zombie led me to another favorite sleeping picture:

What the heck had we been up to on this day? They are wiped!

I love old family photos.