Friday, June 27, 2008

Sweet times

This beautiful picture was taken last week by Sarah's great friend, Holly. I can't wait to see how she photographs all three boys!

A sweet little note: Yesterday afternoon, we took over some gifts and groceries when they all got back from the hospital. Sarah told Tommy we were on our way, and Tommy said, "Mommy, Alex is going to love mimi!" How sweet is that?

We are blessed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Introducing Alex

Alexander Clayton was born to Sarah and Adam (and Tommy and Nate) on Tuesday, June 24 around 9:00PM. He weighed 7 lb. 13 oz. and is perfect, just like his brothers. Just a few pictures:

There was so much picture taking in the room, I failed to get a picture of Sarah -- I would make a terrible paparazzi! But she is great, and looked beautiful -- I'm hoping Clay has one on his phone I can add here.

She had Alex at St. Francis Hospital in Greenwood (the Columbus hospital is still closed because of the flooding); we were hoping that she would have him in Seymour, but St. F is a beautiful new hospital -- bright and shiny with huge rooms. (And as Catholics, it's comforting to see symbols of our faith in each hall, room and around every corner.)

More soon.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Back to normal (?)

Clay's back from China, I'm home from convention. We both had great times, and I am hoping that we can sit down and talk about it soon, but Sarah is scheduled to have her baby tomorrow (they are inducing her -- it's a long and complicated story, having to do with the flood, a closed hospital and about a week's worth of contractions) so the boys are staying with us tonight. They are camping on the family room floor, so I think I will go up and sleep in my own bed.

Tommy with Olympic souvenirs (I don't know why this picture is blurry-- but it is cute anyway!)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

A few more museum pictures . . .

Two monkeys

and some knitting! I don't know why I lost my need to knit, but I think I got it back through prep for knitting class last week. I always give them a pattern and/or a new stitch, and I found an interesting butterfly washcloth online at the Coats and Clarks site. (I re-wrote the pattern a bit to make it a little more understandable for my knit nighters -- you can find it here.) And then, I decided our new grandson (who is due any time now) needed a blanket of his own, so I cast on another pinwheel with Red Heart Kids; I know, I know -- it's nasty acrylic, but if this boy is as hard on his blanket as his brothers are on theirs, he needs a durable knit. Plus, it was inexpensive and came in nice bright colors. (Maggie said, "Ooo, fiesta!)
From the center:

All the colors:
Whatever the reason, I am glad to be knitting once again. It just feels right.

And, more museum pictures. All the kids at the entrance:

The Dale Chihuly sculpture. It is amazing, and can even be viewed from the bottom looking upward through the piece.

Diggin for dinosaur treasure:

Tommy in a submarine

Griffin at the controls


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

This would probably be a good day to talk about Clay's dad. Let's start with one of my favorite pictures (I think this was taken during his Abraham Lincoln phase -- probably around 1987). Almost every picture of dad in our photo albums is either of him holding a baby or on the floor playing with one of the kids.
That says a lot, doesn't it?

Here is an abridged version of his obituary. (As goes with most things in this family, it took 4 people and three weeks to write this.)

Dale E. Coons, 76, died Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at Mercy Hospital in Canton, OH.

Born July 18, 1931 and raised in rural Indiana, he was the 2nd oldest of 10 children born to Earl Clayton and Mildred Violetta (Woodmansee) Coons. He married Shirley Ann Mulaire on November 23, 1958 in Waltham, MA. They are parents of 3 children; Clay, Corinne, and Leslie , 5 grandchildren; Sarah, Maggie, Will, Ian and Sydney and 2 Great-grandchildren; Tommy and Nate.

He graduated from Avon High School then served in the US Navy during the Korean War. He attended Purdue University before graduating from Butler University. He taught at Wood High School in Indianapolis and earned his Master’s Degree and PhD from Indiana University. He taught at Peabody College in Nashville, TN and the University of Akron in Akron, OH where he retired in 1995 as Professor Emeritus of Special Education.
He enjoyed working with handicapped children at Wood High School and served as Troop Leader of the first all special needs Boy Scout troop in Indiana and helped organize Indiana’s first Special Olympics in 1968. Dale taught at Peabody from 1969-1973 in the Special Education department and advised many doctoral students. He and his family spent those summers at the Kentucky Easter Seals Camp KYSOC in Carollton, KY where served as Camp Director. His work in support of special needs children continued at the University of Akron; in addition to teaching, he served as advisor to many more doctoral students who will continue his legacy of compassion and helping the handicapped. He served as director of Kvam’s Kinder Kamp in Wadsworth, OH from 1980 until the camp closed in 1990 and was honored as Ohio’s Special Educator of the Year in 1993.
Dale always enjoyed being active outside and spent many years coaching softball, in addition to hiking and riding his bike in the Cuyahoga Valley Recreational Area. After his retirement he played Silver League Softball and tennis and won a bronze medal in Ohio’s Senior Olympics. He enjoyed gardening, whether it was his tomatoes in the back yard or the flowers in the boulevard. He was involved in local community theater for many years including Coach House, Stow Players, and Weathervane and enjoyed set design and construction as well as acting, much to the chagrin of his family. Should friends desire, and in lieu of flowers, the family gratefully and respectfully requests that memorials be made to the Cuyahoga Valley Recreation Area or the Easter Seals’ Foundation.
The thing his obituary doesn't say is just how much he loved his family. Oh, he drove them crazy, but he would also drive them across the country to a new college or job, haul all their stuff along, then stay to fix up their apartment or house a little (we have nice big shelves in our garage, courtesy of dad). He was a country boy who insisted on doing everything himself, from car repair to plumbing to re-roofing the house. Sometimes his projects ended in disaster, or a trip to the emergency room; mom's favorite line was, "Damn it Dale, you don't have a PhD in the WORLD."
Clay likes to tell the story of how dad embarrassed him when they went to visit Purdue for the first time. After lunch, dad toured the campus with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth.
"Dad, you look like a hick."
Honestly, I think dad liked it that way.
When Clay graduated, mom and dad bought him his class ring; when dad was filling out the paper work, he made a little error, and his name was engraved inside Clay's ring. Clay never had it changed -- I think he liked it that way.
Dad loved mom, he loved his kids, he loved my kids.
He set the bar high, as an example of what a husband and father should be, and I love him for that.
And because I am missing my own daddy today, here's a favorite picture of him, with Sarah:
And because I am missing Clay today, since he is somewhere in China, here are two favorite pictures of him:
In the big orange chair
On the big plastic couch, after Maggie's baptism --they both slept best that way

Peace to fathers everywhere.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Tell your kids you love them, every day"

I'm praying today for the Boy Scouts killed in Iowa last evening by the tornado, and for their parents.

As a mom, one of the hardest things to do is to let your child out from under your watch, whether it's the first day of school, a sleepover, a date or college.

You try to be strong, and hope that all you have taught them will kick in at the right moment. But a full release is so hard, because there are so many things out of your control.

Will is on his mission trip this week. The first time away from us, if you don't count those weeks with grandma and grandpa in Ohio. He is with great leaders, in a safe and well-planned out program. He sounds like he is having a good time, and he has met new people (including Jerry Rice's son -- I'm looking forward to that whole story when he gets back.)

But when I said good-bye to him Saturday, I counted on seeing him again in a week. Just like those scouts' moms did. I can't imagine never seeing my bright young boy again.

About five years ago, our dear friends lost their 18-year-old son, CB, in a tragic car accident. I remember literally falling to my knees when I heard the news, and the memory of the days leading up to the funeral and the service itself will be with me forever. Amid the sadness, there was so much wisdom. Gary, CB's dad, somehow mustered the courage to speak; he read Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar" and said a few words on behalf of the family. The most important thing he said was that every day they told their two children that they loved them, and he asked everyone there to always do the same.

I think we always did that, but after that day, we were much more conscious of it, perhaps in honor of CB's family. When our kids left for school, before we said good-bye on the phone, now when the girls leave for their own homes and even when we're cranky with each other -- we always say "love you." Because we do. And if something were to happen and we never saw each other again, there would be no question that they were loved, and life was better because of that.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy once, happy twice

Happy 80th birthday, Maurice Sendak!

Why do I love him so? Well, Where the Wild Things Are, of course, but also for Rosie and Little Bear and Chicken Soup.

Because In the Night Kitchen has been one of the most frequently banned books in America (along with my all-time favorites To Kill a Mockingbird, Are you There God? It's Me, Margaret, The Giver, The Color Purple and A Light in the Attic. Pretty good company, if you ask me.) If you were going to jump into a vat of cake batter, wouldn't you take your clothes off first?

But mostly because he cares so much for children, and wants good literature, theater and television for them. When Wild Things was criticized for being too intense and frightening for kids, he said, “I thought my career was over, but the kids saved me. They loved the books because they are not afraid of life.” Cool.

Peace, and chicken soup for everybody.

Monday, June 9, 2008

And the rain rain rain came down down down

So, you know how it was a busy weekend? It was all made a little busier, a little tenser (tenser? more tense?) and a lot scarier when 11 --count 'em --11 inches of rain fell south of Indianapolis on Saturday, and then made its way down here, flooding several towns along the way.

Will's youth group was to fly out of Indy at 6:30 Saturday evening, but all roads there (I-65, US 31 and SR 46) were under water. His terrific leader quickly made arrangements for them to fly out of Louisville instead, but they really had to hustle, since the flight was at 5:45. One stalled car and one traffic jam later, they all made it to the airport and finally got to their hotel in San Antonio around midnight.

Sarah and Maggie were both stranded at work in Columbus Saturday evening, but both made it home Sunday morning, through strategic driving maneuvers around the water. Lots and lots of damage in Columbus -- the hospital is closed, bridges collapsed and many people lost their homes. The damage wasn't as widespread here in Seymour, but the flood waters were the highest I have seen in my life -- the White River crested just inches below the record, set in 1913. I've talked to most of my friends who live on that side of town, and all seem to have made it out of the flood without much damage to their homes. This evening, Clay and I took a little drive out by the high school, and things looked pretty normal until we turned a corner and saw several TV trucks parked along the side of the road at the entrance to one of the flooded subdivisions. Many of the beautiful houses there have water in their basements, and the streets were still flooded.

So that was the big excitement. The other excitement was Emanuel's baptism. His parents, Ernesto and Sophia, had asked my sister, Sharon, and I to be his godmothers. I am very honored. My camera was in the car, on the way back from Louisville airport, so I don't have any pictures of the baptism, but here is the precious boy in his white satin suit:

This is cute, but really, he is much cuter in real life.

With Clay, at the dinner after:

Covered up with the Pinwheel blanket:

His big brothers, Emiliano and Ernesto:We also had an excellent weekend visiting with Father Phechner, pastor of our sister parish in Gaspard, Haiti, St. Therese of the Child Jesus. He brought a beautiful carved map of the Haiti, and presented it to Father Todd:
There are so many needs in Haiti -- medical, educational, spiritual, along with the basic needs of food, clean water and adequate housing. But Father wasn't downcast or negative; he seemed so happy to be with us and spent most of his time repeating, "merci, merci, merci."
As we made our way back to Seymour after the noon Mass in Brownstown, we could see the flood waters creeping toward town. Father Todd and I were surprised by all the water, but Father Phechner didn't seem too shocked; he has lived through hurricanes, mudslides and huge floods, and I'm sure to him it just looked like a big mud puddle.

Peace. Stay dry.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Busy times

So much going on. No knitting, though. (What's wrong with me?)

Anyway, tomorrow I have a funeral at 10, a wedding at 2:30, Mass at 5:00 with Emmanuel's baptism and party following. Play at the Methodist church Sunday at 9:30, then Mass at OLP at noon.

The priest from our sister parish in Haiti is here visiting this weekend -- we had dinner with him tonight, then we have a parish pitch-in tomorrow night and coffee and donuts after the Sunday Masses.

Tomorrow, Clay is driving Will and some of the other kids up to the airport to leave for their mission trip. He's got a lot to get together tomorrow.
Our Lady of Perpetually Uneasy Mothers, pray for us.

Then, on Wednesday, Clay leaves for China.

It made me tired just typing that. Off to bed.


Random thought of the day: I have never lived in a house without a basement.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's June

and I've got nothing.

But the Pope does. Here's his general intention for June:

That all Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ, in order to be able to communicate the strength of His love to every person they meet.

Nice. I'm going to go work on that. And, I'm hoping that in July, his intention will have something to do with knitting.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Still not knitting

But we did a lot of work outside last weekend, putting our economic incentive check to good use. We planted two holly bushes and a spirea, dug a new flower bed and mulched, mulched, mulched. We lost our willow tree, partially to heavy ice this winter (the same ice we had trouble with at the refuge) and partially to high winds a few weeks ago:
I really love willow trees; we had 2 giant willows on the farm when I grew up. They were great for climbing. Of course, what made them great for climbing -- the low, heavy branches -- also made them susceptible to breaking apart in harsh weather.

So we went to the nursery and decided to put in 6 or 7 new trees: a willow in place of the fallen one, a tulip tree, 2 Cleveland pears and 2 cherry trees in the back and maybe a cypress. I'd like a sycamore for the back yard; the woman at the nursery turned up her nose at that idea. "They're just a mess," she said. I think we'll do it anyway. Sycamores, too, have a special place in my memory, as my dad's parents had two huge sycamores in their yard.

I ordered grape, black and red raspberry, gooseberry and blueberry plants from a nursery in Oregon; I think we are going to try to build some sort of arbor with the fallen willow tree branches.
I also ordered several peony plants and iris roots, which will be sent in the fall. It will be much easier to work up the flower beds now that I have this:
Isn't that beautiful? It made short work of making the new bed; it's fairly lightweight and easy to start, so I'll be tearing up the whole yard soon.
My little pot garden on the back porch is looking good, although we drowned one of the pepper plants using a pot with no drainage. (My agriculture degree does me no good whatsoever.) I put in 4 more lavender plants and two rosemary, and an astilbe and a coral bells in the perennial bed I am redigging. Our timing has been poor for a vegetable patch this year -- whenever we have time to work it up, it's far too wet down in that corner of the yard. But I'm not giving up yet.
Happy gardening.