Just an un”remark”able life…

So, Kelly and Alicia were helpful in the comments of my 7QT post from last Friday. I ended up having to reactivate my facebook account so I could find out the gender reveal from a best friend’s recent anatomy scan. (Her baby boy–yeah!!!–is due in November.) And another friend is having her scan this week.

I’m doing a great job staying off the book of face and not posting there either.

Don’t mistake my silence for ignorance nor lack of caring, I just don’t feel like engaging in general more than I have to and inviting controversy. I have friends who feel like every single venting post or post that shares personal information are an open invitation to offer advice. Even when the person explicitly says they have for example, “made a decision” and aren’t interested in others’ opinions on said subject. Most of these folks fall into the category, “never passed a combox they didn’t engage.” And sometimes it’s just to announce their ignorance on the subject at hand. I brace myself when I see notifications from some of my friends commenting on a picture or status because with the particular status and/or picture etc is something they have little to no experience with and their comment will indicate either random advice that people have heard in passing or will comment, “I have no idea what you’re going through, sorry,” or something similar.

I guess that could be a rant. Well, so be it. It’s not just reading depressing and divisive nonsense, it’s the “I have to comment on every.single.thing” nonsense too. My tolerance for it is at an all-time low, on my own posts, at least.

Which is why I love Snapchat. Very little is permanent there. It’s 10 second bites. And people who comment or “chat” with you, can’t comment or “chat” with each other on your post. And, even in your stories, things are only available for 24 hours.

So,  in the spirit of Snapchat, I’m adopting some policies for how I use the book of face.

  1. Comment and “like” sparingly. Sorry, but I HATE when friends of my friends over-engage me in comments or pick fights. So, the less I comment and like, the less likely this sort of thing is to happen.
  2. No more sharing “memories.” They are for me to enjoy and that’s that.
  3. All post will be available for 24 hours, no more. After that, they become viewable to me only and commentable (yeah, I don’t care if that’s not a word) by no one additional.This applies to all pictures and status updates.
  4. No more memes. The memes stop here.
  5. Much less status updating. Because it makes the rest easier.
  6. DMing primarily for the purpose of in-person connecting. Because the rest is mostly gossip anyway AND the purpose of social media is two-fold and the second fold is encouraging in person connections.
  7. No one is allowed to post on my page. This way no one posts while I am not paying attention and starting drama in my space without my knowledge. (I will probably remove this for birthdays etc)
  8. No longer engaging the majority of autism posts I am tagged in. I know they come from good place (mostly) but no more. I live it. I’m done.
  9. Unliking a ton of pages. That should be understood without further explanation.
  10. Finally, no profile pic nor cover pic. Because they are always public.

Maybe it sounds like I’m being Draconian, but this whole social media thing should work for us the way we want it to. I’m just no longer the biggest fan of remarking so many minute details of my life in that forum that invites so many more to comment and remark on my life in turn.

The Gospel reading for today is Matthew 10:34-11:1 where Jesus instructs that following Him means that our lives should be changed from what they were and that our first new purpose as children of God is to please Him and only Him. Even if it causes distance in personal relationships. Do I think I might lose “friends?” It’s possible. It’s actually probable, but that’s okay, I will live. And so will they. This is what is necessary right now to helping me grow in my faith and love of Him and be a better, more effective member of the Body of Christ. My life may appear unremarkable to most people, but it is precious to Him and His will will determine my eternity, not my “likes” nor my “friends.”

7QT: In which a 4-day week feels like it will never end

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Linking up with Kelly today because this week: was epic.

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Sunday we attended Mass at Infant of Prague which, being the only Catholic church in town (one of only two in our county not counting the Chapel on base),  has a tremendous military presence. Singing America the Beautiful while being surrounded by active duty families and generations of vets was moving in a way I’d never experienced before.

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So Monday, for the Fourth, we did, nothing. Well, we watched movies (The Sandlot) and ate but we stayed home. Jeff took Shelby and Joseph to fireworks but William wanted to stay home so I stayed with him and the dog who is deathly afraid of fireworks.

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Tuesday William started reading camp and Jeff went to do some work with his dad. William’s reading camp is a more fun version of summer school. At the end of the year, he tested just below where he needed to be for second grade so the school system offered us a completely free reading program during July. They even transport and feed him. He was hesitant but the first day three friends from his class were in his class for the program as well as another little boy he knew. He had a rough morning this morning but he has had fun overall.

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Wednesday was a big day. First, it was Shelby’s birthday. She is ten now. Ten. Two whole hands. An entire decade. Is it wrong that I think maybe I’m deserving of an award for keeping another human being alive this long? Anyway, it was another big day for Shelby because Jeff decided that based on some significant maturing we’ve seen this summer thus far, Shelby was ready to potty-train again. Because of her sensory issues, potty-training has never been successful with Shelby. It also doesn’t help that because of her developmental delays, she really did not understand what we expected of her when she sat on the potty no matter how we explained or watched videos (I can receit the Elmo Potty Training DVD…seriously, and I’m available for parties, it’ll be entertainment your friends will never forget, I promise!), or read books or demonstrated, she had no idea. But a lot of things have been clicking for her this summer and so I said, whatever and went with it. Jeff bought panties Tuesday night and I set low expectations based on past experience. The morning was one accident after another. In the afternoon I hid the panties and forced her to go with no bottoms which she hates. We were timing for every 15 minutes and suddenly, she started peeing on the potty. We praised and rewarded her each time. Yesterday was another mixed bag of mostly successes. Well, pee successes, we haven’t quite overcome the sensory issues associated with bowel movements on the toilet. We’ve never made it to day 3 before so we’re still seeing how this goes. (And we won’t be tackling night training for a long time…if we can go everytime during the day on the potty, I’ll be happy!)

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Still on Wednesday, before Shelby and Joseph were up (William gets on the bus at 8),  Jeff called me downstairs while I was folding laundry. He asked me to check a lottery ticked he bought for the Mega-Millions drawing online. I was thinking, “What? Why can’t he check it himself?”Well, it turns out he had checked and wouldn’t you know, we matched four numbers. It wasn’t the jackpot or even $1 million but we got $500. We almost never play the lottery, first of all, we didn’t have one in NC until 10 years ago. I literally have bought one powerball ticket my entire life. Jeff usually buys a few when there are big jackpots but those we usually don’t even match one number, so yeah, there were lots of reasons to celebrate on Wednesday.

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Wait, you want to know what we did to celebrate Shelby’s birthday besides potty training and winning the lottery…Jeff did most of morning potty-training duty because William was at camp and Joseph wanted to go to library reading club. I went with him. Usually there are crafts and games but this week they watched Zootopia. We’ve seen the film before and enjoyed it (plus the free bag of popcorn) but the floor was hard and Joseph wanted to go about 45 mins in so we decided to leave early. After lunch and William getting home from camp, Jeff took the kids to the pool. Then for dinner we had one of Shelby’s favorites, Chinese food followed by cake and ice cream. Shelby also got to pick all our tv viewing. It was very Spongebob and Elmo heavy.

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So maybe it’s two-weeks on, two-weeks off, but I deactivated facebook again last night (personal blog page is still around). Guys, I just can’t right now. My African-American friends are hurting and I ache for them. My law-enforcement friends, who are all wonderful people, are hurting now as well and I cry for their loss. Some of my other friends, I really can’t handle their extremely narrow world view. Between the sadness, the anger, the fear of those hurting and the “I’m-not-a-racist-but” crowd. It was enough to drive me insane. And the Catholic controversies are no less divisive. We had the Maria Goretti controversy (check out Simcha Fisher’s post) and the reaction of Cardinal Sarah’s suggestion and a real lack of mercy and charity. So let me be clear, my life in real life this week rocked, my online life sucked. And it was the Holy Spirit saying to me: take a break. A long break. I was reading about Exodus 90 which is a group for men that helps break addictive habits with 90 days of abstinence/avoidance from them with support. I’m thinking it might take 90 days to heal from this most recent spate of hate spewing and division. I’m not promising that, but my husband is zero social media and we don’t allow our kids on it. Plus we have family vacations coming up which are technology free. Will people really miss me? I don’t think so, I’ll still be blogging and the blog fb page, but I’m so done right now. I don’t think I can make this world a better place through my personal online presence but in my real life in the things I do when not behind a screen. So here goes nothing….

Head on over to Kelly’s for some quick (and probably shorter) takes…

Why I Love Summer Vacation…part 2

Will this be the last part? I have no idea…but here we go:

5. Jeff is home.

Full time. He still occasionally picks up work for his dad or his brother or restaurant work, but it’s not a consistent thing so he’s available for beach trips and pool days and the like. We always work better as a team rather than two individuals running around with separate agendas which sometimes happens during the school year when he’s balancing lesson plans, his regular work day and life in general. Fun days out are more fun when we’re all together and I have a back-up so I can, you know, pee if I need to.

6. The Liberating lack of routine.

Routine is good and I normally love it. But, I really love to shake it off occasionally. The routine of the school year means I have to be available to get kids off the bus and if something took too long (or at least longer than expected during the day) I sometimes don’t get to something I wanted to (ie–a special cleaning project or reading time). The lack of routine is liberating because I do not have as many things depending I be there at.that.exact.moment.in.time. and so more things actually get done. I know, I know, it confuses me too. Don’t think too much about it.

7. The garden.

I married a man with two green thumbs which is really luxurient when there aren’t enough of them to go around, but I really enjoy seeing him work his magic in our postage stamp size back yard (we’ve laid new sod!) and our small front plot. When we moved here we loved having a smaller yard because our huge gorgeous lot was just simply too much to keep up, especially with Jeff doing the bulk of the work, so this size is perfect and manageable. And lovely this time of year.

8. Classical Music and Reading Time

New to this summer! I started using Snapchat recently and I follow Retta on there. She is hilarious and she snapped last weekend about a tradition she used to have of having Sundays where she wouldn’t watch tv or surf the web but listen to classical music and read. Color me inspired. So, now, in the afternoons, we turn on classical music (either online streaming or on the classical Music Choice tv station) and read for about an hour. It’s relaxing and it’s growing our brains. #Winwin

That’s all for now folks!

Father’s Day 2016

I’ve found I get my best response to “what do you want for Father’s Day-your birthday-Christmas-etc?” to be let Jeff pick an activity he wants to do.

This Father’s Day was no exception. Jeff decided he wanted to take the family to Hammock’s Beach State Park near Swansboro. We’d never been before so this would be a “fact-finding mission” or as Jeff called it “surveillance.”

The park is only reachable by boat which means either you take your own boat, kayak or canoe; or you pay a small fee to ride a state-run ferry. There is a large parking area on the mainland (it’s the kind of ferry that transports humans, not cars) and an education center about Bear Island (where the beach is) and picnic tables and a big lawn. We ate lunch at the education/visitors center before taking the ferry over to Bear Island.

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The boys sat right in front of Captain Tom on the ferry ride both to and from the island.

Shelby and Daddy on ferry

Shelby loved the ferry. The picture taking, let’s just say she was not impressed.

A few things to note: no pets on the ferry. I’m sure they probably have an exception for service animals, but I’d call first to find out how that is handled. Also, no strollers unless they are fully collapsed on the ferry (same with beach “carts”). And there are no trash cans on the island. They do provide bags but you have to bag your trash and carry it back to the mainland. There is a bath house and also a concession stand (cash only). And, yeah, it’s a pretty decent walk from the ferry pier to the shore. My kids were fine with the walk, but it could be rough for the three and under crowd (and some four-year-olds). As a state park, it’s a leave only foot prints (and none on the dunes!) and take only pics and memories place, if you find shells, make sure there’s nothing in them and that sea stars and sand dollars washed up on the beach are actually dead before bagging them!

That all being said, you do have life-guards and covered picnic areas there and the island is pristine without all the “development” and they never have to pump sand in.

The water was rather rough yesterday so we were glad for the lifeguards (even if we didn’t so much “need” them, it was reassuring). We had tide pools too which everyone but Shelby enjoyed (she’d rather be thrashed by waves, sensory issues ftw). It was unseasonably cool in the air and water so we didn’t stay as long as we might have but we did have fun. We scoped out the primitive camps sites. They were all sandy which we’re not a huge fan of but we may try at some point.

We really enjoyed it though and we’re even considering at some point the investment of a boat as the ferry is congested and somewhat limiting. And with our budding fisher-people it is definitely an awesome destination.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day from Hammock’s Beach State Park

After we got home, Jeff enjoyed watching the US Open even with all the controversy. And later the NBA Finals.

It was a really great day and we enjoyed the trip and spending time together. Hope that Father’s Day was awesome for all the dad’s out there!

Why I’m not blogging about politics…

because the situation for Catholics in this election cycle can be summed up in one phrase:

no-win.

And anyway, we vote by secret ballot here and I’m not interested in how your conscience has led or mis-led you (whichever the case may be) so I really don’t care what you think of my choice.

The Israelites begged God for a king and they got what they asked for. We’ve done the same thing. We’ve made our bed, time to lie in it, shut-up, and take it like Americans.

The End

The Boys are Home!

Last evening the grandparents returned Joseph and William after having them for five nights and six days.

During the week, the boys attended a day camp put on by the local parks and recreation center called “Spaced Out.” It was run by two local teachers and had about 20 kids participating. The focus was fun and educational, primarily science. The first day the kids went to Wilmington and had a pool day which was mostly getting to know you games etc. Tuesday they traveled to Myrtle Beach to the Wonderworks Science Center at Broadway at the Beach. The boys said they played lots of games and had a blast. Wednesday they went to Ingram Planetarium and the science center in Ocean Isle Beach. Joseph and I went with his first grade class last year when we lived in that county. Thankfully he got a different presentation than last year’s (which included Zula Patrol, blech!). They really enjoyed all the exhibits and shows that day. Thursday they traveled back to Wilmington to Defy Gravity Trampoline park (since gravity is part of space!). Joseph had a blast but William rolled an ankle. Despite that, he mostly enjoyed himself. Friday they had water fun and slip and slides.

My in-laws had their work cut out for them with entertaining during “off-hours.” We did not allow the boys to bring electronics this week:). Monday and Tuesday nights they played Sorry and Trouble, games we don’t have at home. Wednesday, they got Zootopia on Amazon Prime which my kids and in-laws had not seen before. Thursday, opening night, my in-laws braved the crowds and surprised the kids with Finding Dory. Everyone loved both movies. They also did Taco Tuesday for the boys and convinced William to try a soft taco (which he liked!).

I had to work last night but today we let them enjoy electronics because they never once claimed to be bored all week with their grandparents. We also had rented Zootopia (not realizing the grandparents had watched it) but the kids were excited to watch it again.We really missed them this week and the house was crazy quiet. So thankful God allowed them a great visit with their grandparents and a fun first camp experience.

7 Quick or Slow Takes

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You guys…this week…

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Sunday morning I woke up with the ugly beginnings of a cold. I mean, really? This week of all weeks? It’s the first full week of summer this week AND the boys have been at their grandparents’ going to camp all week. (I get them back tonight, well, Jeff and Shelby do too but mostly ME, I get them back.) We went to early Mass, came home and packed, and then made our way almost 2 hours south to my in-laws. They planned for us to meet them at one of their three community pools. That was all good except they were shocked to find out that the pool would be crowded on a 95 degree weekend day with 100% humidity (we will NOT speak of what my hair looked like). My father-in-law wanted to abandon ship and take us to a different pool (which, no doubt in my mind, would be just as crowded). Jeff’s step-mother, however, had found a couple of chairs and predicted we may have a similar situation. After we finished at the pool, we sent our boys with their grandparents (there was no shortage of tears from William). It turns out the reason we’ve never been to the other pool is that my in-laws felt lie it was too deep with the shallow end being  3 feet and deep end 5 feet. And no wade in. I let them know that that was the exact situation at our community pool (which my kids learned to swim proficiently in–including Shelby–last summer) so in the future, not a deterrent.

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This is the boys’ first summer camp experience of any sort. It’s a day camp run by the parks department with the theme “Spaced Out” which included field trips to Wonderworks Kids Science Museum in Myrtle Beach, Ingram Planetarium in Ocean Isle Beach and Defy Gravity trampoline park in Wilmington. Monday was a pool day and Friday a beach day. Exciting week for them so guess what this is the week I’ve given up…

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…facebook. Well, my personal facebook. You know, the one with all the “friends?”  (As opposeed to the shell account I keep for my blog page to stay active when I need persnoal breaks.) The one that Jeff’s step-mother would post any pictures to. Last Thursday I deactivated because it was a serious near-occasion-for-sin. And that sin would be primarily wrath but then there was also the spiraling depression and lack of faith that accompanies it after the initial waves of wrath roll in. So I’m on summer vacation too. From facebook. I still instagram and snapchat. And this is vacation so when I’m in a better head and heart-space (which may not be til after this stupid election), I’ll be back. (If you want to read a great post about this spiritual need to scale back, check out Domenico Bettinelli’s post on it from this week. Dom and I are facebook friends and share many mutual facebook friends and came to this conclusion miles apart within hours of each other.)

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I gave Dom a shout-out and now I’m going to give my other most-inspiring-blogger of this week one. Jenny Uebbing blogged actually, ahem, a month ago about going grain free and being too connected online and since there’s no personal facebook to chase around (did I mention that I started thinking in status updates? super annoying), I caught up on blog reading. If ever I was convinced the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something this was it: get off facebook and clean out feedly…there’s good stuff there. Grain free, I’m not going to lie, is going to be a struggle but oddly, not as difficult as being gluten free because if you’re eliminating entire foods (bread, rice, tortillas, pasta…) it’s easier than trying to ensure the alternatives are actually gluten free. No, my whole family isn’t doing it, just me. That’s because my kids don’t eat vegetables. And Jeff won’t give up beer. As for the being off social media, I’m going to focus more on family as the transient nature of our community and the fact that no one living around us is anywhere near the same stage in life (nor really cares to be exposed to our current stage) really has me in a fix as to if irl community can be a thing for me or my family in.this.moment.

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It’s taken me over six hours to get to a fifth take..cue unexpected stomach drama that hit hard after brunch. Ugh. A cold was bad enough! I guess I go ahead and get all this over with now vs the week Jeff will be at conference later this summer.

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We thought we’d take lots of day trips this week with Shelby. Unfortunately weather and the fact that sod was ready for us to pic up and  apply to the back lawn de-railed that plan. Hoping weather is good tomorrow and we can take the boys with us to one of the places we had planned for this week.

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We’re about an hour from the boys’ arrival now. I may be sick, but color this mama happy!

Join the people with less whiny much better takes over at Kelly’s.