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October 2011

September 2011 entries

Picture Day

This morning, I handed a green polo shirt and a pair if khakis to Aidan. He protested, "Mahhhm! It's picture day!" I said, "I know. I thought this would look nice."

He responded, "Where's my suit and tie? I want to wear that again this year."

Me: "Honey, you shouldn't wear the same thing two years in a row. I want your pictures to look different."

Aidan: "But I really want to wear a tie."

Off to the closet we went, in search of suitable attire. I was able to find a white shirt with a red and black argyle vest that met Aidan's standards, despite its obvious deficiency (ahem...lack of necktie).

As he got dressed, I pointed out that he "could dress up for church every Sunday." (This boy usually wears a t-shirt and gym shorts to Mass...)

He astutely observed: "True. . .but nobody takes my picture there."


Back to School

After six unexpected, chaotic days off from school, we head back to class tomorrow. Communication has been nearly nonexistent because of phone and Internet service interruption, and many students are still affected by the last week's destructive flood waters.

I feel as though the school year is starting anew. Because of opening day meetings, picture day, and the early dismissal, the most we were able to accomplish in B206 was the distribution of textbooks, some preliminary reading, and the juggling of schedule changes. The basic concepts I started with must be re-taught to ensure a proper foundation for the year, and I must re-memorize the names I learned but surely have forgotten by now.

Life goes on, so they say. The community continues to take care of its own, and the bell will ring tomorrow -- and hopefully, we will all be ready for it.


9/11: We Remember

In the midst of our area's flooding and recovery, the important anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America on September 11, 2001 almost seems like a minor event.  Nevertheless, despite the mud and the volunteer efforts, we managed to pause to remember the fallen heroes and innocent victims of that terrible day ten years ago. 

When Osama bin Laden was killed, we had the difficult task of explaining to Aidan and Gabrielle why people were rejoicing over a man's death.  It was the first time they had been exposed to the idea of truly evil people in the real world -- not just the cartoon villians who are easily defeated in less than 90 minutes in a movie.   As NPR began coverage leading up to today's memorial, the children began to hear more and more about bin Laden and we had to explain to them in more detail . . . especially a few days ago when a report on NPR featuring voicemails from 9/11 victims stopped me in my tracks in the kitchen.  One man called his wife from a hijacked plane, telling her that "he didn't think he was going to make it" but that "he loved her so much" and that "he wanted her to have fun in life," wishing that she would make the most of the short time we are given on this earth.   (The first reading from the Catholic liturgy this weekend urges us to "remember your last days, set enmity aside.  Remember death and decay, and cease from sin!"  What a different life many of us would lead if we kept our "last days" in the forefront of our minds.)

Today, as we left swimming lessons at the Y, the kids and I saw the 9/11 Memorial Ride -- the annual motorcycle ride through Lycoming County which honors the victims of 9/11 and the troops killed since 2001.  Each rider is given a "Fallen Warrior" card with four names on it . . . there were over 6000 names carried on bikes today.   Of course, Aidan and Gabrielle were curious -- why were there so many bikes?  Why were people out on their yards to see them?  Why did they have American flags? 

Later, as a storm raged outside our house, we talked about how unfortunate a storm is for our area -- as if the people cleaning their destroyed homes need more rain right now! -- and Michael reminded the kids how lucky we are to have a safe home.  Gabrielle said, "That's right, Dad.  What about those people in the Twin Towers?  Over 3000 people were killed when a plane ran into their building.  They all died."

Aidan added, "Osama bin Laden and his crew did that.  It's very sad.  That's why the people were riding their motorcycles today."

OK, I'm guilty of the sin of pride here, but I am really proud that our children, at ages 4 and 6, have this much awareness of our country's history, our nation's struggles, our people's compassion.   I hope that all of America's parents take the time to explain even the difficult topics to their children.  It's simple, perhaps, to brush their questions aside, telling them that they are too young to worry about it, but children are capable of understanding sophisticated topics when they are explained properly. 

I see in my children, and in the community of Montoursville as a whole, a bright future for America.   The outpouring of love and compassion on those who lost their homes and belongings in the flood waters has been inspirational.  The country whose ideals sometimes get lost in the shrug of indifference, in the dismissive hand wave of apathy, is still alive and kicking in the grass roots movements that rise up when tragedy strikes.   This weekend has not only marked a sad anniversary of loss but also ushered in a joyful moment of grace in the personage of volunteers and bikers. 

God Bless America. 


Happy First Birthday, Liam!

Tonight, Friday, September 9th, is Liam's last night as a baby.  Tomorrow, our little guy turns one.   Time is an abstract, yet its effects are entirely concrete.  Just a mere year ago, we were losing sleep wondering what our new baby would be like, how he would fit into our family routine, how drastically our life would change once he arrived on scene.  Flash forward 365 days, and we truly cannot imagine life without Liam Grayson.  

I mean, who else would prompt us to clear out any bookselves lower than waist high?

Pintsized 

 


Flood 2011

Last night, I pulled an all-nighter in our church hall with some remarkable people. The local senior living complex was evacuated by boat on Wednesday, and several of the residents had no place to go. The Red Cross made our church a rescue shelter and some truly amazing people worked round the clock to help at least 200 people over the past few days.

And by the way, I do not consider myself one of those people--I merely showed up last night at 7 to help with the night watch. The older folks were sleeping on zero-gravity chairs (they couldn't handle lower cots from the RC) and needed some help getting in and out of them.

As I was there, I had a chance to connect with some of the residents who found it hard to sleep. One poor woman had a stomach bug and was sick all night. I asked her at one point if I could do anything for her, and her classic, quirky style, she said, "You could get a gun and shoot me. I am not drinking more of that Gatorade." She called her Gatorade "cocktail hour" and kept other residents in place: "What are you doing, Gloria? You are going to fall on your ass trying to put your shoes on while you are standing up! Sit down now!"

Around 3 am, a man who I noticed was very intelligent and observant meandered over for a cup of coffee and some blueberry buckle. He sat with the four of us women. After telling us an inspiring story about his battle with kidney disease and 6 grueling years of dialysis before receiving a transplant, he proceeded to entertain us with priceless stories: the time he set the drapes on fire as a kid, the way he still honors the nurses who took care of him during dialysis by cutting out coupons and taking them candy once a month, the tears that came to his eyes when his neice publicly thanked him at her for raising her at her wedding.

When asked what his profession was, he responded, "You'll never guess." I said, "CIA." He stared at me in disbelief: "How did you guess that?"

It was his observant nature (he heard every sound in the room with acute detail) and his watchful lack of sleep coupled with his intelligence that made me sense he was a spy. He told us he had top secret clearance and still to this day can't talk about his work. At the time, he could tell his wife what country he'd be in, but never exactly where or why.

I could tell you hours worth of stories about these beautiful people. My time at the church last night made me ever so grateful to not be the mother of four whose rental's walls are bowing and whose belongings are inaccessible and likely ruined.

I also sigh, thinking it will be a blink of the eye and I will be one of those little old ladies drooling over the young firemen: "It's been years since I had a man's arms around me!" one little pistol said. And I hope that Aidan, Gabrielle, and Liam will take care of their poor aging parents no matter how bad we get.

Where to go from here? The seniors should be going back to their apartments this afternoon. The water didn't damage the housing, so their transition should be smooth. The folks down on Broad Street and out Rte. 87, though, have a lot of clean up ahead of them. Donations of clothing, cleaning supplies, Weis and WalMart gift cards are being accepted at several locations, including Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 100 Walnut Street, Montoursville, PA 17754.


Time to Build an Ark

On Wednesday morning, we took attendance and sent the kids home because of flooding in the Montoursville area. The locally famous "Green Bridge" -- over which our football team fights with our rivals, the Loyalsock Lancers-- is in very bad condition today, and another bridge on the outskirts of town is completely gone.

For right now, there is a brief break in the rain, Aidan and Gabrielle are playing outside and I hear some birds singing. It may rain again tomorrow, and because of the deplorable conditions of the roads, school is already cancelled for tomorrow.

My play cast, selected Tuesday night, is bummed about Mother Nature editing our rehearsal schedule, but all the rain in the world couldn't damper the enthusiasm of these kids. I've encouraged them on Facebook to start their script study and character analysis assignments. One student quipped, "We should all be off book by Tuesday" because of the time off school.

Michael had school today, but his principal sent him home early. He's been down at our church ever since, helping the displaced people camping out in the fellowship hall.

As another friend remarked to me, times like these remind us that we are mere human beings, and not the least bit in control of our lives. Even little Liam must learn this lesson: we're postponing his first birthday party. Of course, he won't know the difference when we celebrate with family and friends in a few weeks instead.

For now, we'll keep one eye on the sky, one on the cresting creek, and be ready to march two by two if need be. Stay dry!

Time to Build an Ark

Time to Build an Ark


Early Logic

After flooding caused an early dismissal from school for me and Aidan, and after three detours finally brought Mike home to us safely, Aidan employed some sound logic:

"Hey, Mom and Dad, since today is sort of like a Friday since we probably won't have school tomorrow . . . Can we watch a movie?"

Our usual rule is no TV on school nights, but hey! It was hard to counter that sound argument! Ice Age it is!


The First Week of School

Well, the Connors made it through the first week of school. The school part was easy. Of course, we always have the drop/add period of shifting schedules and migrating students, but overall, school went just fine. For our family, though, life was a bit rocky.

As I posted last week, Liam has pinkeye. After four days on eye drops with no significant improvement, I scheduled a doctor's appointment for him: ear infection; amoxicillin. While I was there, I mentioned that Aidan and I had sore throats. "We haven't seen strep; it's probably just allergies. If he spikes a fever, bring him in."

Next day: "This is the school nurse...Aidan has a temperature of 102." Another doctor's visit and a throat culture later: strep throat; amoxicillin. They tested my throat and it came back negative, but the doctor wanted to treat me anyway because she a positive result from the sample sent out to the lab: I'm allergic to penicillin, so it was a "Z-pack" for me.

The next morning, I woke up with pinkeye. Seriously. I wouldn't make this up.

This morning, Mike woke up with pink eye and a sore throat. A trip to the ER, and it's eye drops and amoxicillin for him, too. This, by the way, is the first time either one of us has contracted pink eye from our children. This must be a serious strain!

Gabrielle seems to be the blessed one in this family this time around (she is quick to remind me, though, that she was the one who threw up last time we were sick!) and I hope to heaven it stays that way!

Long weekends are meant to give us time for antibiotics to take effect, right??

Here's wishing for a healthier week!