Friday, May 27, 2011

Life at High Speed...the Highlights!

We have been without internet for a week. I was gone for a few days before that. While we have been unplugged, life has continued at high speed.

So here are a few highlights...

 We are pleased to announce the graduations of Cody and Brian Bates. Cody has completed high-school. Brian has graduated from UTAustin. Yay for both boys. I think they are happy to be done.

Cody chose to skip any formal graduation. We will have a send off party for both Cody and Elle in August.  Brian had his graduation this past weekend. We went to the one for the school of engineering. Dinner, graduation and tea.

Pictured are Austen, Brian and Angee in the parking garage just before the ceremony.  I chose this pic for two reasons. One...I like the picture. is one of the last pictures I have of Austen with dreads.

The rumor is true. Austen has cut his dreads!  It is just too darn hot. It is May. It feels like August. Austen wanted his hair-cut before he left for his new job this summer. Which leads to our next highlight.

All three boys have been      HIRED!!!!


It's official Austen is now a girl-scout. Okay. Maybe not. He is life-guarding at girl-scout camp for the summer.

Cody started working at the Boys and Girls Club last month. He just came back from a 4 day Club conference at South Padre. He is hanging with the kids outside, helping with a computer class and life-guarding for the summer.

Brian is working for ???? (I don't know the name of the company. Big B took the message and doesn't remember the important things) Brian is essentially doing technical reading/writing for the summer to help cover his tuition in the Fall. Yup..he is staying at UT for grad school. He is also volunteering part-time on a 3-D structure project that he is really excited about. Brian will be staying in Austin this summer for both jobs.

Now for the little guy. Levi Thomas Bug K is now ONE!!! He had three..yes three...birthday parties. We told him to enjoy it..he will never have that many birthday parties again. He celebrated on his actual birthday at my parents house. Again on Saturday at the center where my sister lives ...and finally we celebrated during community dining. We fixed his favorite foods. Asparagus soup and sweet potato casserole. Thank you Rhonda for the casserole. Aunt Sandy made cake. One for Levi...One for everyone else.

The past few weeks have been hectic. My family (dad, sister, nephews, son) has 5 birthdays in May. We had several graduations of family friends, a Kairos weekend and some refugee family support to attend to. All which we wanted to spend time with and enjoy. So having no internet, was kind-of a blessing in disguise.

Now are internet is back. We are plugged back in to high-speed connections..but I am the only one online.

Tonight we fixed pizzas for dinner. Brian and Angee are hanging out in San Antonio for the weekend. Cody and Elle are hanging out here. Austen is working with Big B to start fixing his car. (car-parts for his birthday..previous post) Me? I'm still trying to play the trombone, working on a paint-by-number and watching a Criminal Minds marathon. Levi is with my sister for the weekend. When he returns Bug and I will just hang-out in the sand-box, the kitchen and at the pool.

It is officially summer around here, but we are starting off nice and slow!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Austen

Dear Austen,                                                                   

 Today you turn 17. As I write this you are at the ranch blowing things up. Tonight we will celebrate over Dagwood sandwiches and ice-cream cake . But even with this low-key celebration. Your life has been quite the adventure. 

Your sense of humour and spontaneity keep me young. Listening to you in the kitchen with your Floggin Molly voice as you fry eggs saying  I have the luck of the Irish, the height of the Scottish and I get my good looks from the Italians is a pleasure. You bring a certain energy to our home. An energy I deeply appreciate. Yet all the silliness aside, you are growing and maturing so fast I can barely keep up.

   You have just come back from a month in the wilderness. I recognise that the transition from life as Huck Finn to life as Tom Sawyer, has been a little trickier than you had hoped. Life in the civilised world can be tough, and many decisions about the future loom ahead.

 So on this birthday I would like to share with you a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

What lies behind us


                                                  and what lies before us

are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

So I offer a toast to you, a young man steeped in compassion, love and kindness within.

Love always,

Monday, May 02, 2011

Of Strawberries, Royalty, Rabbits and Monsters

Today is May 2nd..Meaning? Yesterday was Beltane/ May Day. There are numerous traditions that surround May Day.

When my children were involved in Waldorf..this meant finding a pole to dance around. (among other things.) Some years..I jumped over a fire. In college? (this is the REALLY fun one) We had a strawberry smorgasborg. Honest to God.

Yesterday, my Mills friends were having a field-day on face-book. Reminiscing about the strawberries. You know..strawberries with chocolate. Strawberries with whipped cream. Plain old strawberries ..or for some..(ahem Cheryl) strawberries with sour cream dipped in brown sugar. All served with champagne or tea.So I choose to join them cyberly. I decide to have a strawberry smorgasborg of our home.

Normally, we do not have many strawberries around. Austen is allergic. Very allergic. But he was gone and we were all full from a very nice, late lunch.

Sunday morning our church was recognising graduates. Kim and I were presented with a small prayer book (really the way) for completing the parish ministry training program. The high-school graduates (of which Cody was one) were presented with small scholarships and a prayer book for college students.

My parents and sister had come up to help us celebrate. They treated us to a late lunch at Brick's (my favourite restaurant here in the Tx. Hills). So it seemed feasible to have an impromptu strawberry dinner. (with a little cannelloni on the side)

What can I say? We (Cody and I) thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Bug and Big B humored us.

Why did I feel the need to have some sort-of tradition? Not a clue..I think it was my consolation prize for NOT Watching the Royal Wedding. You see, I am one of those that really wanted to watch it. And  while I have heard lots of commentary like  we won the revolution or why celebrate a monarchy, my response is simply.

Come on people,it's just plain fun.

No one is trying to undo history..but rather recognise it. Acknowledge it. I mean really, how many families do you know that can even trace their lineage back that far? It is so fairy-taleish (in both a romantic and nightmarish sort-of way).

Besides..being of Scotch-Irish decent..I have attended more than one Burns Night celebration where we start the evening off with a Hail to the President , Hail to the Queen and Hail to the Haggis (think Scottish menudo).Okay..maybe that's not the order of the Hails..but you get the drift. So why wouldn't I watch?

Because it was at 3 in the morning that's why.

I had all the best intentions. My alarm was set, I had a tea-pot ready. I was going to simply enjoy this rare occasion. But the reality was..Bug was not going to sleep that night. So at 2:30 when he snuggled up against me in a deep sleep? I knew I would not be watching the wedding.

My mother, however did see parts of it. Mostly watched many interviews. So as we baked 27 dozen cookies (yes it's Kairos cookie baking time) on Friday , she caught me up on what she had seen.

I kept thinking I would watch a recap or something. But alas, it was not meant to be. Because we were having guests to watch the Spurs play..and  it was time to bring the dreaded boy home.

 Yes Austen is finally home. It takes a while to pack all his stuff and haul it to our car. You car that was full  of weapons! (think bow and arrows, knife, gun, etc.) Lovely, no?

Austen says his goodbyes to our friends at the ranch and informs me of all his rabbit sagas. A cow had stepped on his fishing pole that last week..and he was sick of fish. He did, however see a bull snake. (he did not eat it) and caught several more rabbits. He goes into details of how he has improved his rabbit skinning abilities..and then says...Oh..did you see the wedding?  ..and proceeds to tell me about it.

Wait.. I say. How did YOU see the wedding? He looks at me like I'm crazy. And slowly..very slowly. very clearly.(to make sure I understand him) he says on B.B.C.

That is NOT what I mean .

He knows..this. Austen laughs. It was my last day..I figured at this point, it didn't matter what I did. I watched it with Miss Brenda at the house..and (he whispers) I also ate carne guisada tacos. Lots of them. I figured if I was cheating..I might as well enjoy it.

  So after a month of survival and solitude..Austen treated himself to carne-guisada and the Royal Wedding.

I would say that was the end of our tale..but I still want to talk a bit about monsters.

My son (Brian-Scott) is being bullied. It is a very long story..and he is dealing with it in his own way..but it has been very hard to watch him try to finish his senior design project in such a hostile environment. I want to just jump in and fix it for him. But I realize I cannot. Brian is graduating in a few weeks. He is interviewing for jobs, preparing for graduate school..and instead of enjoying any of it..he is simply trying to get through the next 2 weeks. Telling himself over and over..if I can just get through the next x days I will never have to see y again.

I keep him in prayer and try to give him a listening ear. I help him as he tries to hit that fine balance of standing up for himself, but not letting himself turn into someone he does not want to be.

 Last night as I watched the news, I think of Brian's struggle to maintain boundaries while not selling out his character.  I think our nation is in a similar quandary.

Osama bin Laden is dead.

As my friend Ann said

Love, hope and peace to the victims of 9/11. May today help with the closure we as a nation are desperately seeking.....

 and in the words of Nietzsche 

He who fights monsters should take care that in the process he does not become one.