Monday, June 28, 2010

Life On (Near) Post

So, I'm posting from Oklahoma. My sister, Debbi, drove out with Mary and me to pick up Keri. Matthew is done with his regular Army career sometime this summer. Their lease runs out at the end of June. They plan to come back to Illinois, so Keri is moving up wirh us. Matthew will stay here until his enlistment is over. We did a road-warrior drive Saturday night/Sunday morning. We've spent the time since visiting.

Most people never get a look at a military family. We know they're out there, and we imagine the stresses they face. Every time I visit a military post, I am humbled by the strength and resilience of those who serve by waiting. Especially when you consider just how young these (mostly) wives and mothers are, how financially strapped, and how unprivileged in the world's eyes, it is deeply moving. All of us start our adult lives in some sort of struggle; to get on our feet financially, to find our place in this world, to set a course to that place. Now, imagine compounding that struggle with worries about sick children and TriCare, the military's healthcare system. Or the deployment of a husband to a dangerous place. The birth of a child while he's gone. Making friends and connections that dissolve overnight "for the needs of the service." Be amazed. Be very amazed.

Today we'll be cleaning their apartment so they can finish moving out. We'll buy some Ft. Sill memorabilia. And, about 10pm, Debbi, Mary, Keri and I will head back to Illinois. Happy Trails!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

At least I'm off the streets!

So, I found myself a job. Or, rather, one found me.

I was out in early May, shopping for plants. A local independent grocery had a greenhouse tent, and I stopped in to see what I could fund. I talk too much. I start conversations everywhere, and I started chatting with the lady manning the greenhouse. After a bit, she paused and said, "I'm going to be out of town for Memorial Day weekend. Would you want to fill in?". I figured, what the heck. A little time and a little money. So I agreed. When I showed up that first day, the store manager met me and said, "What do you want here? Just a weekend, or would you like a job?". So I'm checking at the local independent grocery, just 15 hours a week, but it's perfect. I punch in, make a little money, and punch out. No sleepless nights worrying about a career!

I'm learning more about people, too. My first couple of lessons have been jarring. Did you know that people don't like food stamps? Yeah, I figured you did. I knew that people resent the money given for food to people who need help with that. I've heard the complaining about how people buy steaks and beer with their food stamps. I haven't been working that long, but I don't see that. I've seen cheese, grapes, milk, tomatoes and Cheerios, but not steaks. One lady tonight bought more junk food than I thought was wise, but I've also seen that--maybe more often, even--from those who don't use food stamps. The toughest are the people who are embarassed to be using them, but have the bad luck to encounter me--the newbie who needs help remembering how to run those transactions. Before long, they're neighbors in line are grumbling and complaining about "those bums with food stamps"

Well, I'm here to tell you, it might not be them. It might be the newbie!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Cuteness of Little Boys

Pioneer Woman had a very sweet story posted at her blog today. It reminds me of how incredibly adorable young sons can be, and, in particular, how wonderfully cute my youngest son was once, many millions of years ago.

At least I think it's been that long. They grow in proportion to the years, right, and he is huge these days. Taller than me, this big, strong Medic did the most amazing thing when he was a littl'un.

He was in first grade at a Lutheran school in the suburb where we lived. The teachers had invented a torture, I mean, an incentive for the kids called The Accelerated Reader Program. Kids would read a book, then take a comprehension test written for that book. If they passed, they would earn points. The points would be saved and collected for Accelerated Reader Store day, when the kids would use them to buy junk, I mean, delightful treasures.

After all, that is what reading is all about, right? Filling your bedroom with trash, I mean, prizes. It has nothing to do with widening your horizons or learning about this amazing world we call home. Nope. It's all about the junk. I mean special collectibles.

This was a time when among the best treasures were Beanie Babies. We still have many of the Babies our kids collected during those years. Well, he had been saving his points for a few weeks for a special one; I think it was the Ladybug. He was so tickled when he realized he had enough points that he could buy it at the next store day.

Store day came, and he came home Beanie Baby. I asked him why, and he told me that, at Chapel that day, he had heard about the kids at the inner city church we sponsored. He heard that they had very few toys, and the kids were challenged to bring in a toy for those other kids. Christmas was coming, and so, well, I think you can guess what he did.

He got his Ladybug, turned to the teacher, and told her what he wanted to do. She (with a tear in her eye, she later told me) walked him down to the Principal's office, where the collection bin was. When he heard what Ethan was doing, the Principal was touched enough to use the story when he talked to the congregation about the project that Sunday during the announcements at church.

I asked our littlest boy why he gave up the Ladybug, and he told me that some kid needed it more than he did. I could tell, though, that he was missing that special Beanie Baby he'd waited so long for. So I talked to his dad, and the next day, I went and bought another Beanie Baby. I went to the school and talked to the Principal. He told me that, yes, of course, I could trade them out, and I think he even took the Ladybug down to the first grade. Our son was confused until he was told that that little boy in the city would still be getting a Beanie Baby.

I think we still have the Ladybug packed away in a box somewhere. I hope someday I'll be able to tell another little boy about the sweet thing his daddy did back in the first grade.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

What a valuable reminder that while teens may not be known for their ability to verbalize their feelings, they have the same needs as when they were tiny. There is no replacement for Dad's attention, love, acceptance, and healthy affection. In its absence, a substitute will be sought. May Fathers' Day be every parent's reminder that their child really needs them!

This "Life Quote" is from Lutherans For Life

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

The process of science is important. But the lives of individual participants in scientific experiments are just as important. A single human being cannot be sacrificed to advance the interests of science.

This "Life Quote" is from Lutherans For Life

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Rain. Humidity. Cloying, sticky humidity. 92-100% worth! Temps not high enough to kick on the air conditioner. Earwigs.

Gotta love June in NE IL!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh, Where is my Camera?

I have been seeing so many things I could share with you...but my camera, dinky little point-and-shoot thing that it is, is AWOL.

Reminds me of this.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

Today on the farm started very early; about 3am. I was awakened by a cat's cry, and then a dog's bark. I searched the house for an injured cat, but found nothing. Then I noticed Henry wanting to get outside. I woke John up, we looked around, and found a small kitten hiding on our front porch. Maybe 6 weeks old, she has incredibly soft, fluffy fur, beautiful dark and light grey stripes, and an injured leg. We've been keeping her inside, in a crate, to see how she pulls through. That's how it is out here; cats don't always go to the vet. There are so many wild cats out here, you could spend your entire salary at the vet's office and still not help them all.

But she's eating and drinking and walking, albeit with a limp. I bet she pulls through. I'll name her Diana, after the goddess of the hunt and the moon. We found her in the middle of the night, after all!

It's a thunderstorm weekend, so not much got done outside. I managed to plant more beets, lettuce and radishes, and hope to get the peppers in the ground tomorrow. But for now, there's a movie rental with my name on it, right next to a bowl of rocky road! Nice night, all!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Not a Wordless Wednesday

Blue Star Mothers exists as an organization to provide support and friendship for mothers of those who serve. It is not an organization you choose to join; your children choose it for you. When a person joins the military, his or her mother becomes a Blue Star Mother. You've seen the flags. Mine has three stars.

Another organization also exists, to which no mother ever wants admission; the Gold Star Mothers. This organization is for those who have given a child to military service, and have lived through the experience of that child's death in that service.

When I was a kid, I noticed a poem in my mom's room. She had glass on her dresser, and, under that glass, was a poem titled Gold Star Mother. I wish I could find it now. It spoke of washing his chubby little legs, and being proud to see them in uniform, etc. I remember being touched by the thoughts of the poem.

So when I saw this photograph on Pioneer Woman's blog, I just had to share. She's been running a series called "Coming Home," and I dare you to go to her page, look at those photos and remain dry-eyed. What moving images!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One More Memorial

A friend of mine has this as her e-mail signature line.

Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays....The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms. - Thomas Bailey Aldrich