Camp Colombo

It's all about organized chaos

My heart is full

I try not to get too mushy and sentimental on here.  It’s just not who I am.  I tend to look at life a bit sarcastically and work on finding some humor because it makes the whole thing a bit easier.  But I can’t walk away from saying this.

Last night my church sponsored a musicale, a musical review showcasing the many talents of its congregation.  Instruments were played including an amazing cello and piano piece by a mom and daughter duo, and a concertina, which is a small accordian.  There was an appearance by the Blues Brothers and the mysterious musician Clyde Waterloo who claims to live in the boiler room.  There were silly songs and the return of a young lady with a beautiful voice, who inspired my daughter yet again with her singing.  It was such fun, complemented by and MC who wasn’t afraid to laugh at himself and scrumptious desserts.  If the music began to overwhelm you, a silent auction was going on in the room next door, where you could bid on everything from beautiful knit and embroidered pieces, a handmade quilt, dinners (including a gourmet feast), a sailing excursion, and riding lessons.  It was a pretty incredible spread.

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Why did this fill my heart, cause me to get all gooey inside?  Because I had always wanted the chance to bid for my husband to sponsor a spring clean up in our yard?  No, it was the kids.  The kids I have had the privilege of spending time with for many years.  The kids the church community entrusted to me all those years ago when they asked me to step in on a temporary basis.  Nine years later, that temporary position has become one of the most important pieces of my world.  Last night they were in the spotlight.  The proceeds from the evening were being donated to their summer mission trip.  As always, my co-coordinator Karen put together a brilliant musical performance with them, and Don documented the experience.  They tell me I do things too, but I am not always sure that I give as much as I get.  The songs the kids sang, Short People and You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman prompted discussion about first impressions and stereotypes, then showed how a bit of understand can change everything.  The Honorable Judge played an impressive rendition of the first song on his tiny pipe and the audience loved it.  But this wasn’t where I lost it.

Yutes at Musicale2

There was a moment in the program to share what the mission trip was and why we were doing it.  We hadn’t thought about this piece and we certainly didn’t practice anything.  In fact, we had forgotten about this piece until intermission.  I huddled with groups of kids as they manned the dessert table and came up with a plan.  If they would just follow directions, I would do all the talking.  The moment came and I was alone on the stage.  Bit by bitI brought them to the stage.  Soon it was full and I stepped off.  This wasn’t about me, it was about them.  At one point, I looked over toward the dessert table where one of our newest members was standing and smiled as I watched him bounce with excitement, waiting for his chance to join us.  Did I say much about the mission trip?  Probably not as much as I should have.  Did I say what was in my heart about the kids?  Absolutely.  

Yutes at Musicale

They brighten my day, they gave me a purpose at a time when I felt like I didn’t have one.  They are always up for any crazy scheme we throw their way.  They ad-lib during the Christmas pageant and give sermons after being up all night for a lock-in.  They sing and play instruments while eating package after package of Oreos.  They care deeply about each other and pretend to help clean up.  They play and laugh with each other.  And it makes me smile.  It brings me joy.  It fills my heart.

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You can’t make this stuff up.

You can’t make this stuff up.

I went to the seasonal pancake house yesterday with the Youth Group and various other pancake lovers.  While finishing up our pancakes, one of the waitresses was alerted to the wasp that was buzzing around the room.  (I would guess they live in the wood paneling and wake up when the restaurant opens.)  The waitress disappeared for a brief moment, only to reappear armed with a hand vac.  Wielding it like a gunslinger from the Wild West, she proceeded to suck up the wasp.   Several others were pointed out to her and she quickly met the challenge, climbing over the backs of booths to reach her targets.

I kept waiting for Candid Camera to show up.

Someday I am going to write all this into a sitcom and become a millionaire.  You can’t make this stuff up.

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Crocheting Lobsters

Our school is getting prepared for our spring musical.  One of the props needed are lobster hats.  The director found a photo of a newborn set on Pintrest, but no pattern.  After looking at the photo for a bit, I knew I could create the hat and set to work.

Here is the finished product:

Lobster hatPlease excuse the tea maker it is displayed on.  I needed to show the shape.  :)

I am posting the pattern for the local volunteers who want to help us create these beauties, and for anyone who always wanted to wear a lobster on their head.  Enjoy!

Lobster Hat for Elementary Age Child

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The Best Kind of High School Drama

In the last three weeks I have attended 3 different drama productions.  All were high school musicals or plays and I enjoyed each for different reasons.  I dragged a group along with me each time and it has made me smile thinking about the fun we had, even when I was listening to the other kind of high school drama at my job and combing my hair up into a crazed rooster comb.

Last summer our church’s youth group went on a mission trip.  The difference in how the kids interacted as a result of the trip was evident from this before and after photo:

Before and AfterBecause they are spread across five different schools and a majority of them involved in the arts, we were able to fill the month with drama by attending all the performances.  The first was Grease and one of our kids was the percussionist in the pit band.  He had a solo during Hand Jive and we filled two auditorium rows as we cheered the whole cast on.  The set was incredible, spelling out the word GREASE with each letter turning into another setting for the story.  Inventive and fun, it made me want to recruit their designers.grease

Our school’s straight play was next and close to ten were able to make it to the Saturday night show.  They sat up front and laughed at the jokes and gags (even the impromptu add ins by our kids), loved and understood the Steampunk theme, then chatted with all of them afterwards.  The prodigal daughter introduced the show and worked backstage while JMumbo made 3 costume changes and tried not to grin while being robbed.

group

Thursday we filled two cars with kids and met another family at the last show.  The Wizard of Oz was up and we were ready to follow the yellow brick road with a whole bunch of our favorite people.  The Wicked Witch stole the show (she was a very talented young man who nailed the part), Toto had his own personal wrangler, Dorothy sang like Judy Garland, I wanted to squeeze the Lion, and the Tin Man tapped his way into our hearts, while the special effects lady rocked our worlds incorporating cool video of the great and powerful Oz.  But one of our favorite guys was the Scarecrow and he stumbled and bumbled his way through, a perfect mix of physical wobbles and spectacular singing.  Once again a reunion commenced in the lobby and more kids made connections.  One of my favorite friendships was captured:

Mary and CamiThe prodigal daughter and her friend, two girls who knew very little about each other before last year, but act like they have been together forever.

This is the kind of teenage drama I love.

 

 

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The Teenage Twilight Zone

I have few fond memories of being 15, I think I blocked most of them.  One of the main things I remember is sitting behind the fish tank in Biology class.  The teacher was punishing my father, an administrator, but little did he know, I loved my seat.  In fact it raised my popularity a few points because I had one of the best seats in class.  I remember hanging out with certain kids, but not much else.  I was transitioning from glasses to contacts at the end of my sophomore year (see post titled Don’t Cry For Me Middle School) and trying to figure out how to fit in.  I made it through HS, but would never go back.  I’d redo college in a heartbeat, but all those movies about going back to high school?  NO WAY!

Imagine my joy at getting to relive it in a manner that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud.  It is surreal having a 15 year old daughter.  First, she is much prettier than I ever was in school.  No dorky glasses to push up helps immensely.  She gets along with people like I did, but sometimes just seems to be searching for where she fits.  I get it, the social hierarchy in high school is cut-throat.  And I know it is just a stepping stone for the prodigal daughter.  But getting her off this stone and onto the next one is killing me.  When she shares a story with me I hear the music from Twilight Zone in my head.  The monologue goes through my head with a few changes.  Here is my version:

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to adults. It is a dimension as vast as a school hallway and as timeless as a yearbook. It is the middle ground between sports and academics, between popularity and geekdom, and it lies between the cut of a teen’s hair and the cost of their clothes. This is the dimension of high school. It is an area which we call the Teenage Twilight Zone.

This is where I live.  And I am just waiting for the birds to show up, but that’s story for another day.

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Morning Visitors


A strange sound greeted us this morning, the honking of a goose standing in our yard.  I headed onto the porch with my camera to get a better look, and this is what I found.

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A goose was hanging out, looking around.  Geese usually travel in pairs or groups, so a single goose is unusually.  This particular goose had quite a bit to say, especially when I showed up on the porch to take its photo.  It began to meander across the backyards of the neighborhood, squawking away.  Its squawks echoed back, creating the illusion of a flock getting ready to land.

About this time one of the neighbors called over from his front porch.  Apparently this goose was not alone and the echoes were actually another goose answering the first.

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The second goose was on the peak of a house farther up the road.  My goose was working its way across the lawns toward this house, but not joining its rooftop companion.  Instead my goose continued to call out, while the rooftop goose stopped answering and turned its back.

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What was going on here?  Were the geese a couple who were having a spat?  The one on the ground a mom-to-be who wanted to find a place to nest and lay some eggs, while the roof sitter was surveying the landscape for the perfect piece of grass?  Or maybe it was the other way around and the guy was on the ground apologizing for some affront to his wife, who stood with her back to him, ignoring his feeble efforts at making up?

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Either way, it was an incredible way to start my morning, standing on the porch watching these two, one waddling across the grass and the other keeping watch on the rooftop.

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Boston Bombings should be a call to action

I would like to say I am amazed by the people who rushed to help in Boston yesterday, but I am not.  Humanity rises to the surface when catastrophe occurs, as it did in Boston, and it strengthens my belief that we want to be a society that cares and takes care because it is the best way to live our lives, not for personal gain.

When asked to pray yesterday for Boston one word entered my head, “Peace”.  Peace for the people injured in the explosions, peace for the people who ran to help and take care of them, peace for their families, and peace for the bombers.  Yes, for the bombers, who probably need the prayers most of all.  Think of how far these people have strayed to believe this is the best way to be heard and noticed.

I know what will happen, the debate over violence will escalate and knee-jerk decisions will be made to prevent other incidents.  And then we will move on to the next tragedy or scandal.  We need t0 take a step back, take a deep breath, and look for the root cause of the problem and it is buried deeply in the psyche of American society.  The desperate need to be noticed in a society that perpetuates bigger and more is better.  We have a black, rotten spot in our core and it is growing.  Let’s take the opportunity to look inside ourselves and focus on what is important; family, community, and health among others, not wall-sized televisions, reality shows, SUV’s, and enormous homes.  The material doesn’t last, Boston proved that yesterday, but the people and the compassion do.

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Grad School Overload

I spent the entire day working on papers and lessons for my graduate class. I am shot. Exhausted. Unfocused. Don’t get me wrong, I love my program, am getting great stuff from my classes. But a class every 8 weeks for the last year and a half, with a paper due every week plus discussion and response has drained me. Anyone who says online courses are easy is full of goat puckey. Yep, goat puckey. There’s no skimming through because you have to write everything out. Which may be why I haven’t posted much recently, about the last 9 months, or written in my journal. I’m written out.

One class left. Then what? A job. I am more than qualified to teach your kids. But what I really want? I want to create the lessons to help others teach your kids. I’ve discovered I’m really good at it. One of the biggest things I learned from my grad work.

But for now, I have the rest of a book waiting, a cup of tea, and a cozy bed with flannel sheets to crawl into. I’m beat.

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Learning a Foreign Language

Conversation on the way home one day with JMumbo:

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JMumbo:  Mom, I don’t want to take French or Spanish, I want to learn a different language.

My thoughts: Oh no, we only offer Spanish at our school, what am I going to do?

What I said:  Really?  What language do you want to learn?

JMumbo:  I want to learn English.

Long pause as I process this wondering where the wires crossed.

Me:  Bud, you already speak English.

JMumbo:  No, what they speak in England.  That English.

Gotta love JMumbo.  Do you think he wants to learn to insert “bloody” and “bangers and mash” into his vocabulary?  Or just talk with a cool accent like the prodigal daughter does when she practices for when she marries a British lord?

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Blessings and Beginnings

I spent November giving thanks publicly on Facebook, thinking about all the pieces of my life that I have to be thankful for.  It made me feel good about myself, look at life as filled with positives.  I enjoyed reading other’s posts about what they were thankful for.  It forced us to really think about all the good we had in our lives that sometimes gets buried by the day to day chores and routines.  But then November ended and so did many of the positive posts.  I wasn’t ready to give up on looking for and commenting on the brighter moments, so I challenged myself to find a blessing or beginning for each post I made in December.  If you follow the Christian calendar, we are in the season of Advent, waiting excitedly for the arrival of Jesus, our messiah.  It is a time of anticipation for new beginnings, possibly one of the reasons the celebration was moved to December, to help transition into the new year, begin again, wipe the slate clean.   It is also a time of blessings.  After finding she was to carry God’s child, Mary is not tossed aside by Joseph, something that was within his rights at the time, but instead protected.  A 70 mile trip with a 9 month pregnant wife to be could have ended badly for Joseph, but an innkeeper gave what he had so they were sheltered when the birth occurred.  Shepherds had the news shared and traveled to meet the baby, blessed by the visit of an angel.  Scholars traveled many miles to share the blessing of precious gifts with the family and took the secret of the baby’s location home with them.  All blessings.

I’ve found that sometimes the blessing is as simple as a ray of sunshine after a week of gray clouds and rain.  It was watching the joy of giving to others practiced by an extraordinary group of kids in our Sunday School.  It was hearing my cousin asked a young woman, whose outside beauty was accentuated by what shone from within, to marry him, adding another member to our family.  It was celebrating the everyday moments with my kids.

Blessings and beginnings are difficult in the wake of Friday’s disaster. All I can hope for is that our country will step back, take a look at what we have decided is important, and make some changes. Changes that focus on family, on the world we have created and the one we really want to live in. I don’t discuss religion often, but the guidelines in all religions encourage us to show love and respect for life and each other. I continue to pray for all of us and hope we will find our way again.

I don’t want to suppress people’s rights to speak or express themselves, nor do I want to ban the right to own firearms.  All I ask is that these freedoms are tempered with personal responsibility, with thought and care for others outside ourselves.  Governmental restrictions and pointing fingers won’t fix what is wrong, we need to fix it, bit by bit, by each taking responsibility for our own actions.  Religion isn’t the answer for everyone either.  Forcing ideology and personal beliefs on each other is not the way out of the chaos.  Compassion and understanding, tolerance and acceptance are needed.

We have to ask ourselves what each of us can do, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to make our world a better place to live in.  We need to begin to show each other the kindnesses and courtesies that seem to have been lost in the need to own the biggest, best, and latest everything.  We need to remember that we are all connected, now more than ever, and our actions cause bigger ripples.  Are your ripples nurturing or destructive?

Open a door for someone.  Thank the person checking you out at the grocery store.  Wish someone a good day ahead and mean it.  When asked how you are, respond with a positive.  Listen more and talk less.  Find the wonder in the simple things.  Believe in something.  Show compassion but temper it with honesty.  In this season of giving, move beyond the tangible gifts and share yourself and the love we all have inside.

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