Thomas' Summer

Thomas, you were such a joy to have around this summer.  I love your innocence.  You still are young and yet I'm starting to see a glimpse of you maturing.  We didn't do anything big this summer, just stayed around home and went swimming or to baseball.  I know you would have loved a big summer vacation, and I so badly want to give you that, and yet you were content to just be here. 
This was your first year playing Salt dogs Baseball which was more of a time commitment than the YMCA which you have done in the past.  Your practice was held at a field in our neighborhood so you could just ride your bike there.  Twice a week you played a two hour game.  It was so fun to see you out there on the field looking so grown up!  I will never forget taking you to get your uniform.  I watched your face light up as we looked for pants, socks, a belt, glove and a new bat.  You kept thanking me over and over, I'll never forget your gratitude.
For one of your night games pop and I got a sitter for the kids and we went out to dinner and then sat and watched you play your game.  That was fun!
 Your birthday fell on the last day of school this year.  You got a new tent, sleeping bag and lantern for your present.  But I think the best part of your birthday was getting to have your buddy Joe spend the night with you outside in your new tent.  This was your first time having a sleepover and you were SO EXCITED! 
Getting to spend the night was a highlight of your summer for sure!  I remember on night we had the Vaceks over for dinner.  As we were sitting, talking with them we hear the vacuum cleaner running.  Odd.  Then we notice the kitchen has been cleaned.  Ah ha!  You and Joe figured that if you helped clean, maybe you could spend the night! 
One weekend, you and Joe decided to have a lemonade, coffee, and homemade cookie stand!  Friday evening, you both made cookie dough by yourselves with the plan to get up early Saturday, bake cookies and set up your stand.  When I got home from my run Saturday morning I walked into the fabulous smell of coffee brewing and cookies baking.  I helped you take everything to Joe's house.  You both stood out there from 9 until 2 in the afternoon.  Unbelievably you walked away with sixty dollars from that little stand!! 
You both decided to spend your money on a real dagger you had seen at Scheels.  I can't explain your excitement upon buying that dagger.
 You got to serve Mass for the first time this summer.  For one full week you woke up at 6:00, got dressed in kacki pants and polo shirt and off you went to serve 6:30 am Mass.  I took you the first day and after Mass we went to a little breakfast restaurant for a pancake breakfast.  You LOVED serving, which was no surprise to me since you have been "playing" Mass since you were three!
You really took to baking this summer!  I can't tell you how much I loved seeing you look through my cookbooks and figure out what cookie or bar you wanted to try making.  Usually at rest time you would do your baking.  You and Dominic would trade recipies and talk all about what you both made that week on our way home from boy's choir!  I love to see you in the kitchen. 
Two great things happened to you when we were staying with Laura and Jarod this summer.  First, was that you were able to ride in a helicopter!  When we were at the lake for the firework show, we saw they were offering helicopter rides.  You, Pop and Annie hopped in and off you flew, just like that!  I was so excited for you and couldn't wait to hear all about it from my safe position on the ground! 
Then, after having your eyes checked by uncle Jarod, you learned that you needed glasses.  True excitement for an eleven year old!!  You knew the exact pair you wanted even before going to the store, the same pair as your buddy Dominic. You asked every day if I had received a call from ShopKo saying your glasses were done!  I think you look so grown up wearing them!
You, Dominic and Joe participated in a week long camp.   I'm glad that it was a good 25 minute drive out there just so I could listen to the three of you talking in the back seat.  You all are into the "Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings"  right now.   Your conversations consisted of those characters (none of whom I can name) and looking out the window as we drove into the country deciding what field would make a good hobbit hole.
Camp Gargano is run by Doug Barry who has an incredible passion for forming boys into strong, holy men.  One day after picking you up, you all were covered in mud.  I smiled when I heard you say from the back seat how Mr. Barry kept telling you to "embrace the dirt!" 


Living It

I was blessed to be able to get away for the weekend and go on a silent retreat.  I haven't been on a retreat since our engaged encounter weekend, BEFORE we were married! You can bet I'm planning on making this a yearly event!!  I came away with so much inspiration to know my faith better, especially through reading scripture.  It was such a gift and I'm grateful to TJ for holding down the fort at home! 
The amazing priest who gave the retreat, Father Courtney, spoke a lot about Blessed Theresa of Calcutta and her amazing work with the poor, homeless, dying.  She LIVED the gospel, every word of it.  She truly was Jesus here on earth.  She did things no one else would do.  She touched people no one else would touch.  He said something that struck me, "ask a homeless person their name, because no one ever does.  That will get them to smile."  How often do I walk right past the people holding signs on the corner downtown?
Oddly enough we went downtown tonight for dinner.  Earlier I had told the kids what Father said about asking a homeless person their name.  After ordering I took Pete outside to walk around the block while we waited for the food to arrive.  And sure enough, there was a homeless man sitting at the corner holding his sign requesting money for food.  So I did it.  I walked up to him, stuck out my hand and said "hello sir, what's your name?"  As he shook my hand he said "Duane", and then smiled.
When I got back to the table I quietly told Thomas what I had done.  He said that he saw him there too and thought of what I had said.  So I told him to go.  Go shake his hand and ask him his name.  I was so proud of Thomas for living the gospel, even if only in a small way. 


Tonight's Dinner...

Smoked Grasshopper....

and Piedmont Opossum, caught, skinned and smoked by Craig.