Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For the least of our brothers.....'>'>

I know most of my readers are adoptive Moms who may be well aware of the current CRISIS in Guatemala but for the rest of you here's the scoop. This past growing season Guatemala suffered a drought. This leaves a country, that was already the poorest in the western hemisphere, on the brink of starvation and malnutrition!! A quick Google of Guatemala will bring up too many heart wrenching links too count on this matter. As you have read in my past posts, I am sewing the little holiday outfits and selling them on eBay to raise funds to supply Mari's first family with a monthly food basket. This has put them on the path to a healthier life BUT there are millions more at risk!!!!

My friends Vanessa and Marlene are going down to Guatemala in December to help in any way possible. They have organized with a local pastor and community group to supply whatever foods and/or medicines they can to the people of these villages. Can you help?

Vanessa has promised to provide anyone sponsoring a $30 food basket for a family with a picture of the delivery that you can use in a gift card should you elect to do this as holiday present. Do you have that loved one who has everything thus making your holiday shopping a challenge? This would be a GREAT way to make everyone a 'winner' this December. You and your family/friends will have the pleasure of knowing that a family in Guatemala will be eating for a month on the amount that we spend on a night out at the movies!

For more information check out the link above or Vanessa's blog----

Just a drop in the ocean of need but to the one family that receives your basket of food it is so much more! I remember reading once, about the sense of being overwhelmed by a crisis, the following sentiment:

Upon seeing a beach full of washed up starfish a little boy started throwing them back in one by one. His father tried to explain that there were just too many to throw back in by one little boy! The little boy answered, "Maybe I can't do everything but it means everything to the ones I can save!"

....and just maybe one of the families being fed would be Julia's......

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Skunk serendipity?

Just a quick update to say that our skunk problem is shared by the residents of another large metropolitan area!! Just after the last post I heard on CNN that the city of New York is experiencing the same explosion in numbers of stinkers on the prowl. According to the reporter, New York animal control personnel cite the lack of any natural predators!! Well in that case relief may be on our way....sort of. Seems that coyote sightings in the suburbs of Chicago are on the rise!!!! Now I'm not so sure that I want coyotes but those darn skunks are such a nuisance... And remember the picture I posted of the large predator bird on my neighbors roof?? According to the practically perfect person, birds of prey do not have developed olfactory glands and are immune to the aroma or skunks. I'm okay with them! Might even help with the insanely bold squirrels which appear to be on the increase too. The squirrels seem to be losing their fear of humans around here. Just today one cheeky fellow was trying to scratch his way through our FRONT door...and didn't even run off when Patrick opened the heavy door and pounded on the screen door to scare him off! So here's hoping the hawks and falcons are finding the asphalt jungle to their liking! Hey, at this rate I won't even have to take my girls to the 'wilderness' and/or the zoo to see wildlife!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stinkin' Day

Summer in this city has been pretty darn dreary, cold, and SMELLY! Everywhere we go from this mornings soccer games... where thanks to Auntie Peggy we got some great action shots at Mari's early game. Another great shot showing her secret weapon...just like Mike (Michael Jordan) with her tongue hanging out!! As we watched Julia stopping shot after shot, the smell still hung in the air! Okay, while 'some' of us watched Julia anyhow! Even as we arrived at the home of Notre Dame's biggest fan (a.k.a. Auntie Peggy) for an impromptu family dinner night, you could still smell it! You'd think that Auntie Peggy would be keeping her window closed with such a smell...but I think we are starting to become numb to the constant assault to our nasal passages! Actually this is a picture showing the audience she had while trying to rid the kitchen of a lone can be pretty boring around here you know so any action draws a crowd! The cousins all pitched in to bake a cake in hopes of covering the smell with the aroma of fresh baked cake....well a couple of active sweet teeth might be more truthful but please play along with my contrived theme here, okay? Funny aside, our little Ethan was really into the whole project and just about lost it with excitement when he got to hold his first power tool!!! His Dad would be less than enthused to know it was a hand mixer!!!!!!!!!!!! Told you that anything around here can draw a crowd of onlookers...especially if they think they can get in on the power tool action! For a brief moment the hot from the oven cake was the only smell we smelled. A stolen fingerful of frosting is Auntie Peggy's way to fool her senses! Chocolate can go a long way to distracting one's attention from something distressing. Some of us needed just a tad bit more frosting than others to achieve the level of distraction needed to block out the smell taking over our town this year! The citizens have been screaming out for relief! The city officials deny there's a problem...and if there was one it's only temporary...and besides they are in a financial crisis so there's no money to address the problem. The 'problem' which is causing so much distress to humans residents as well as the pet population and which is blamed for the constant presence of an unpleasant smell would be.............. SKUNKS!!!!! We are OVER RUN with these darn critters of late! The city officials claim that naturalists attribute the surge in skunk births to our recent cicada infestation followed by winters too mild to kill off the weaker specimens. I really do not CARE why they are here I just want them GONE. Seriously folks, they are EVERYWHERE!!! A particularly robust guy lives under our neighbor's back porch and has caused many a moment of consternation for my little ladies who peer out the window before exiting to make sure he's not out foraging for grubs. Our driveway runs past this porch and several nights now we have had to sit at the end of our driveway, trapped in the car, waiting for him to move along...because he is VERY quick with the scent gland action! Knock wood that it's never been aimed at any of us but the neighborhood cats and dogs have all been doused in his perfume as well as a couple of the humans at the other end of the leash!!!! This is NOT the same skunk as above!!! Driving home tonight I snapped both of these pictures within the SAME block!!!!!! The animal control officers won't trap and move these guys to the 'country' just for spraying. As a matter of fact they are adamantly denying there is even a problem!!! After seeing so many on the trip home tonight I'm beginning a campaign to get my fellow townsfolk out with their cameras to document each of their resident stinkers. Auntie Peggy has a zoom lens of ferocious strength so I'm sure she can get a few of her FAMILY of skunks that like to emerge from under her garage just as she lets the dogs out! We are really tired of the constant scent of skunk that has bathed our town this summer! Wish me luck as I'm off to Google skunk birth control options.....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On the lamb??

No, I'm not in hiding. You have been neglected simply because I've been penned the daily grind of work/housework/chauffeuring. This old piece of mutton is finding it hard to summon up the energy needed to conquer the daily "to do" list let alone finding the creative muse needed to blog! Since I'm on a tacky, sheepish theme I'd like to let you see what a horde of hungry Irishmen did to tonight's roast.... Thursday is our Family Night when cousins Andrew and Alyssa and Auntie Peggy join us for dinner. In an effort to 'eat down' our ailing freezer we served leg of lamb tonight. Between Auntie Peggy and myself the roast with it's accompanying oven browned potatoes, rutabaga, and broccoli sides took about 3 hours of prep time....and ONLY 15 MINUTES to devour!!!!! I consider it a HUGE accomplishment that we have children who loooooove foods like lamb and rutabaga. Guess they should be known as Guatamerish, Celtinas, or I don't know maybe Spudsnsalsa? Work...the kind where I actually have to leave the house and for which I receive reimbursement...has kept me out of the salt mine of late too. Just have one observation about the cycles of my life... the week after our annual orchard outing ALWAYS seems to be the start of my costume season!! Whipped this up in an HOUR from SCRAPS for Mairead who needed it for a Social Studies presentation. It's very good for the self esteem when I can pull something like this off...and from scraps which means even more in these tight financial times. Now if I can somehow convince her that she wants to be an Indian instead of whichever Disney fairy she says she wants to be........

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Apple Picking Time!!!

As promised by the weatherman, Friday arrived warm and dry. Since the girls only had a half day of school we just couldn't resist the lure of the orchards! Along with Auntie Peggy, we piled in the family bus and headed out into the country. This is a 'traditional' fall destination for us and there was great psychological healing to be had out in Mother Nature recreating comforting routines. Like the annual picture to check how much you've grown..... Catching the surprised look when you realize you've reached a new foot marker! Or the one that leaves Mom wondering just who painted this sign since Julia is 53 inches tall according to her pediatrician? Then there are the traditional shots of Julia scoping out the horses at work... and another shot since we can't leave until she's seen all the teams of draft horses that they have pulling the wagons! Then there is the reason for the trip! Then Peggy and Julia scoped out the progress on the pumpkin harvest! Peeking to see if they could find the one we would want to pick on our return trip in October. Yes, we are going back!! The Red Delicious picking season does not start until October 7th and those are our all time favorite apples from this orchard. Truly comforting is the SMELL wafting out into the orchard emanating from this room in the barn... The cider donuts that these ladies make are TO DIE FOR!!! While their less than healthy fried fat content may actually lead to your premature death from heart disease it is a heavenly moment while consuming one hot from the fryer. In the coolness of the barn's cellar you can take a break with fresh pressed cider and donuts...and we do EVERY time we go :)! But a big part of going to the orchard involves a certain camera crazed Auntie.... who loves taking her nieces around the place and posing them for pictures. We don't complain because these are the kind of memories she records... They would never have done this for me!! Aren't we lucky to have our Auntie Peggy?!?!? Now there were some parts of the day that would best be called "Behind the scenes". You see, Mari, who can read in moving cars, had gotten involved in a book that she just couldn't drag herself away from for very long. So while we walked up and down rows of trees Mari hopped out, pulled one or two apples off the first tree, posed for the obligatory picture and.....went right back to reading! Since there were several varieties of apples to choose from we ended up driving all up and down the orchard to sample and pick different apples but Mari still kept reading! She was so close to the end that she just didn't want to stop reading!!!!! Another 'behind the scenes' shot is of my car after an afternoon in the orchard.. I told you that the day was warm and DRY!!! 'Behind the scenes' shots were not always taken by the adults in our group... this one is courtesy of Mari! She was getting so annoyed at our hi jinks that she snapped a few shots to "prove" how bad we were as subjects. Don't worry, I'm not going to post all 120 pictures we took at the orchard but I'd like to close with just one last picture. As we were packing into the car for the trip home I spied this couple walking hand in hand. I took too long in getting my camera out so they were just at the limit of my zoom causing you lose some of the impact of their age but..... gosh I hope I can still be holding Patrick's hand, enjoying the Indian Summer at an orchard when we are this old!