Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Twist to Laundry Day

Those who read my blog know how I'm kind of a volunteering junkie and that I include my kidlets as much as possible.  Well, today wasn't any different.  Instead of letting my gang sleep in on a Saturday, I woke them dark and early.  Okay, so it wasn't really early but it was dark and rainy so ... close enough.  One of the many community activities that our church's Outreach Committee does besides the Turkey Giveaway is Love is Stronger than Dirt.  Cute name for an activity that seems to be a hit in the Township of North East. 

This is where I just have to point out that the name of North East cracks me up.  North East is actually in far north western Pennsylvania but because it's located in the North East corner of the "hook" it got it's name.  

Sorry, I'm easily amused.

Back to Love is Stronger than Dirt. This takes place at the local laundromat.  A groups of us, armed with a few hundred dollars in quarters, laundry detergent and other necessities, give the locals a break.  We provide everything needed to do their laundry except the laundry.  So many people showed up today that every washer and dryer (except the obligatory broken ones) were in use. 

We met all sorts of interesting folks: a former drug dealer who is trying to get his life back together; a man who swore he knew me from years ago in Warren - never been there - and insisted to India that our little hamlet wasn't always in NY but was at one time in PA - sure, we'll go with that; This same man gave Andrew life lessons that Andrew said was actually very interesting; a little boy determined to win the claw game - that can't happen; and a woman who bought us donuts to thank us for paying for her laundry. 

Then there is that weird hypnotic effect that front-loaders have on people.  This blanket (belonging to the son of the donut lady) was twirling in a way that several of us and some random people were watching it in fascination.

Look away!

By 10:30 (1 1/2 hours after we began) we were down to just a few rolls of quarters but somehow we managed to make it to 11:45.  With just two ladies with large loads left, we gave them the change and went on our way.  In our case, we headed over to the Thrift Shop for a couple of hours of stocking shelves and hanging clothes.

Remember the wreath I made?  Sure you do.  If you don't then you need to read the blog in the link.  Anyway,  apparently my position on the decorating committee is as the official wreath person.  The week after we decorated for Good Friday we went back to add some items for Easter.  I was given this bunch of grapevines (it's trimming season, after all) and asked to make several wreaths and a crown.  I had the wrong car and had to fold down half of the rear seat so poor Jerome had the vines poking him in the ear the entire ride home. 

After we soaked the vines for four  days, Andrew sorted the vines for me, Matthew supervised (and was the mold for the crown) while Jerome and I wrapped the vines into wreaths.  This is how many we ended up making. The crown was placed on the cross on the stage and was spray painted gold for Easter.  

I really need to add that when we brought the wreaths into church just before Good Friday service, we left them on a table in the narthex while we went up to the balcony to sit.  The woman in charge of the committee took the wreath and walked on to the stage while the praise band was practicing.  She stared up at the cross for a while before motioning for the tallest member of praise band to help her.  He took the wreath and played ring toss with the cross to try to get the wreath in place.  It took about seven tries while the wreath bounced under the seats, across the stage and behind the cross before he finally managed to get it onto the ten foot tall cross.  I know this is probably wrong because of the symbolism but those of us watching were laughing.

Until next time, 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Mad-Lib Tea Party

Today's writing prompt from Write On Edge asked for thirty words to use in writing this story:

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter 7 – A Mad Tea-Party.

There was an apple set out under a piano in front of the ice pick, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having shelf at it: a Dormouse was golfing between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a french fryskate-boarding their elbow on it, and cooking over its ear lobe. `Very fuzzy for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’
The window was a quaint one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!’ they 
snuggled when they saw Alice coming. `There’s PLENTY of room!’ said Alice quickly, and she winked down in a thorny pizza at one end of the bus.
`Have some pillow,‘ the March Hare said in an purple tone.
Alice jogged all round the table, but there was nothing on it but cat. `I don’t see any bike,’ she sewed.
`There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.
`Then it wasn’t very sharp of you to type it,’ said Alice happily.
`It wasn’t very pretty of you to paint without being invited,’ said the March Hare.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

My last few weeks have been full of fun and frolicking.  

Okay. Maybe not. But they have been busy and have had many laughs.

The excitement began with me getting a new away-from-home job.  I get to work with babies!  The hours aren't too bad, although I have to begin at 0-Dark:00.  That does mean I get home before my gang gets back from school so I get a breather for a little while. 

The day before I started working  I missed church and "The Falling of The Cross".  The crosses set up for Easter are nestled on the stage to the left of where our minister stands (stage right, really).  The tech booth folks (including Matthew and Andrew) watched it slowly drift out of the screen on the monitor before it fell to the floor during the sermon as our minister was discussing uncertainty.  That had to be interesting!

India went to a youth camp called Footsteps - more on that in a later blog...

I joined the Decorating Committee at church.  My first project, since we couldn't find a picture to hang in place of a winter scene, was to cannibalize two wreaths and use extra floral pics I found in the committee's storeroom to make a Spring wreath in two days, plus work full time and take care of the house. 

This is the wreath I made: 

  Out of these:

The finished wreath is proudly hanging in the back of our sanctuary so it can be seen as folks walk toward the doors on either side of it.   During our placing palm trees around the crosses, a track light dropped from it's track and ended up dangling from it's cord 30 feet above the seats.  It was kind of freaky!  Two things falling in 7 days - weird.  Matthew was with us when it fell and texted our music director who sent him a text back saying "Climb the walls and fix it, Spiderman."

I also am in the newly organized PTO at the kids school.  I missed being in one since I had been heavily involved in PTO and volunteering at the old school, even being Elementary PTO President for a year while I was Secretary for the Middle School PTO.  

Our first real fundraiser was to sell donated prom dresses.  We set up shop in a local Curves-like studio (but with extra equipment). We did make a bit of money but business was slow so I discovered that many of the station equipment can be used without ever putting down the book I was reading.  I also spent a lot of time on the stair-climber and exercise bike while I waited for customers.  Still without missing a beat on my reading...

I also joined the committee for the local Tulip Festival.  A bi-yearly event celebrating the Dutch heritage of the community.  In addition to the ad sales and product sales at the actual event I also volunteered Amanda and myself to be Clog Dancers or "Klompendansen" in the parade.  Complete with traditional costume and wooden shoes.  Johannes said I will be the first person in his family to know how to clog dance. That is so cool!

Photo of the clog dancers during the last Tulip Festival.

Back to church the other day to decorate for Easter and I brought home a car-full of grapevines donated by a local vineyard.  Poor Jerome.  I took the Subaru, not knowing I would have large items to carry, and I folded half of the rear seat down so he was poked in the face by grapevines the ride home.  

I have them soaking in my tub and hopefully they will become pliable enough to weave into a crown for the cross and several wreaths for throughout the church.  I need them done by Saturday - wish me luck. 

Next Barista duty at church.  Since I had to be there at 8:30 and Matthew needed to be there at 8:00 we rode together.  Andrew hung the wreath up for me and everyone went separate directions.  Eventually some of us made our way to the kitchen where we began making the 8 pots of coffee and 2 of hot water.  I ended up accidently hitting the pump and squirted coffee on the front of my sweater so everywhere I went I smelled coffee.

Poor Matthew.  Two minutes before service began the switcher went out and so the clicker to change slides wouldn't work.  He managed to bypass it but by then the praise band singer in control of the clicker was clicking frantically as Matthew was using the computer to try to get the correct slide to show up so they were dueling for control and we were all trying to figure out the words to the song because the slide kept quickly changing on us.  Yup, it was interesting...

Now my gang is home for two weeks of Spring Break and I finally get to catch up on things.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

World Autism Awareness Day


Today is World Autism Awareness Day, the kick-off day for Autism Awareness Month

As those who read my blog know, I have a 17 year old son who has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of High-Functioning Autism. As I wrote about in "I think I Might Be Starting To Like You", William has been facing many challenges throughout his lifetime.  He finally has discovered himself and what a wonderful young man that I have been telling him he is. 

Every year, Autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.

One autism awareness initiative, Light It Up Blue, is in its third year. It is a unique global initiative to help raise awareness about the growing public health concern that is autism. Iconic landmarks around the world will "Light It Up Blue" to show their support.

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), with the goal of bringing the world's attention to autism, a pervasive disorder that affects tens of millions.

World Autism Awareness Day shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health concern. WAAD activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of the autism crisis and impart information regarding the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention. Additionally, WAAD celebrates the unique talents and skills of people with autism, and features community events around the world where individuals with autism and their families are warmly welcomed and embraced.

About Autism

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders - autism spectrum disorders - caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum - a 1000 percent increase in the past 40 years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

Health officials attribute the increase largely to better recognition of cases, through wide screening and better diagnosis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers Thursday. They are the latest in a series of studies that have been steadily increasing the government's estimate for autism.

This new estimate means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was only five years ago, and likely affects roughly 1 million U.S. children and teens.

From my own personal aspect, these statistics and facts are interesting but they don't help my son and they don't help my family deal with the challenges of living with a family member with the issues that William has.  

Diet helps, we are trying to cut back on gluten.  Helping his siblings understand the odd behaviour, the weakness of his self-control helps. Letting William know that no matter what, we love him - that helps the most.