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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Found

The 16 year old boy who went missing 3 weeks ago is now reunited with his family at home. He was found in Houston, TX, the same day of the El Paso shootings, safe and sound.

Out of respect for his future, his family, his dignity and his digital footprint, I have removed the initial post about his disappearance.

However, I would like to take this opportunity to implore parents to never underestimate the power contained in the electronic device you put into your child’s hands.

When it comes to their online presence….

Be where they are

Go where they go

Whether near or afar,

Know who they know

Thank You, God, for his safe return. May his parents have wisdom in what lies ahead, take comfort in Your mercy and deliverance, and may we all be aware of how our online presence influences outcomes.

God, please protect our vulnerable children whose parents may be blind, lackadaisical or naive to the very real dangers of others with power, money or psychological pull, who may lure and ensnare their loved ones.

May we all know how to cultivate and maintain a close relationship based on trust, unconditional love and patience.

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Braving Hurricane Barry, I put in my 9 hours’ morning work yesterday and took off at 3pm to go see Jonathan and Southwind’s last performance in the state before they left at 11pm for the rest of their national tour.

The neighborhood was in the middle of flooding but I took advantage of sneaking out between storm bands (no pun intended) to get on the interstate..

It was at least a 3 hour drive upstate, pounding rain and – thank You God – for a friend recommending audio books, so it was me and Brené Brown and her recent book on “Braving the Wilderness” (how à propos!), white-knuckling it up to Millbrook, AL. I had a mission, to see my kid, his band, the competition with other bands, to make good on a promise to get there and to deliver two corn dogs and a large hot fudge milk shake into the hands of said kid.

He reinforced a couple of times (despite my texts to move things up) that it would have to be AFTER the show (which would be circa 10pm) lest he barf up Sonic on the pristine football field and cost his team points.

Because they had the “home state advantage,” Southwind went last. But preceding them were several truly awesome drum corps, competing for a title.

One was Southern Knights, an all-age drum corps (and I saw young as 10, old as 70s) which rocked the stadium kicking off the competition.

In the middle were bands from Atlanta, the Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana and Michigan.

I would like to point out that I was most impressed with the Louisiana Stars from Lafayette, LA – which happened to be from just a hair north of Barry’s landfall, so these kids were safe and sound inland but probably internally freaking out how their families, pets and homes were faring during the storm which made landfall while they practiced here.

Louisiana Stars – God bless those in the path of Hurricane Barry.

The band from Kalamazoo, MI won, Legends, with their extraordinary drill team posing as Sirens of the Sea en masse, along with a dramatic story line about life in the sea with the gods and goddesses.

The Sirens did a creative wave number to the sound of my beloved sea waves, their long hair sweeping to and fro, emulating the waves of the beckoning sea

This drill team evidently was taught to seduce and interact with the audience with their hair-flips, alluring smiles and seductive beckonings. a perfect opening that wowed and wooed the judges.

With Southwind hosting, their last-on-program/late performance was stellar, nonetheless – and, compared to last week’s dress rehearsal (see previous post), the musicians were phenomenally precise, more artistic, theatrical and in the groove. I am excited for the rest of their tour and am confident they will rock the rest of the country!

Southwind’s precision

They handled the “cages” more expertly tonight…intentional in trapping their prey and skillfully orchestrating the profound exhilaration of freedom

Packing up for the next destination

Drilling the Drill Team – they rocked!!

That semi holds a place for each instrument, supply and uniform

The cages waiting to be loaded. What cage are you captive in?

Each member gets a medallion at the end of their home-state show, depending on how many years they’ve participated. This is Jonathan’s second year.

A competition well-performed

Southwind Mom’s Truck

Thank You, God, for children and their pursuits, for infusing them with talents, skills and interests that contribute to our world’s arts, sciences and teaching them all manner of What Life’s About.

God, please bless Southwind and all the kids this summer who are devoting themselves to greater purposes which ultimately make us better people and make the world a better place. May they go on to serve You in whatever capacity You deem appropriate.

(Here, Jonathan’s brother with Down syndrome pipes up, “Mama, you tired of Southwind?” Mama answers, “No, David, I’m tired FROM Southwind last night, not tired OF Southwind!”) David says, “We’re tired from rains and storms,” to which mama says, “Yes, David, and why we’re going to bed early tonight….”

Night night co-musers!

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Today marks the start of the annual tour for Southwind, an elite drum and bugle corps representing the Southeast region’s best percussion and brass players.

(Oh, and coincidentally, today marks this blog’s 8th anniversary – thank you to all my readers and friends for 8 incredible years!!! xxxooo). Back to Southwind:

They will travel nearly 6,000 miles in six weeks, performing and competing in cities throughout the Eastern seaboard and the Midwest, culminating with a world class competition at the Colt’s football stadium in Indianapolis.

Southwind began 40 years ago and carefully selects its members from rigorous auditions and recommendations. This year, its members hail from 15 states. Lucky for us (and our son who plays the euphonium), they chose our county as Ground Zero for their many weeks of rehearsal camps leading up to today, so we didn’t have to go far to visit him.

Last night they held their dress rehearsal, before they leave tonight for Valdosta, GA, their first stop on the tour circuit. We will catch up with Southwind again next Saturday in upstate Alabama for one of their competitions, before they head north for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan and points beyond.

Some highlights from yesterday:

The schedule is dizzyingly intense, with few breaks

Local high schools house the Corps; boys in the gym, girls in the cafeteria, members over 18 in another room (members are from both high schools and universities)

Shoe blow-out is common – these students engage in marathon-training conditions in blistering heat and are fed special high-energy diets and go through gallons of water a day

Did I say “blistering heat?” This was what the sign said yesterday as I was leaving camp at 4:30pm

The supplies and resources necessary to pull off a tour of this magnitude are phenomenal. How every detail comes together is a miracle of the many staff and volunteers who expertly think of everything!

You just never know who’ll show up on tour with Southwind!

(wonder if this guy ever wishes he’d taken up the trumpet instead?) Everyone helps haul the instruments, props and supplies

Meals are served outdoors and consist of lots of high protein, high carb foods. I’m told that spicy and sugary foods are off the list for the most part.

It takes a crew to wash the uniforms, a crew to cook and clean up, a crew to keep track of the students, a crew to organize and pull off the tour, etc. Check out the Southwind website to see their talented Visual Staff and Percussion Staff.

Warming up on the field while the rest of the Corps unloads

Full percussion warming up with brass getting ready behind (note everyone’s gallon jugs precisely at their sides)

Just like a pro ball team, each position/section has its coaches. For the Corps, this includes experts in fine-tuning (literally, as in ensuring drums are properly tuned). The coach listens to each drum carefully, getting down to drum-level with his ear and instructs each player accordingly to ensure perfection.

Each instrument has to be inspected, each day

For each performance, they have a very short amount of time to assemble all instruments, props and supplies, so they learn, among other skills, how to, um, for lack of a better term, haul ass

The drum majors take the field. Yes, that is a roller coaster in the far background but it was so hot we didn’t see anybody on the rides!

The dress rehearsal turned into an un-dress rehearsal, as the searing heat even after the sun went down, prompted them to spare the uniforms for the tour and they did the rest of rehearsal in their bibbers (and white gloves – never ditch the white gloves, so sayeth the Lady, no matter what the conditions!)

The choreography, precision and talent are mind-blowing!

The performers put their heart and soul into each note

This year’s show is called, “The Cage,” in four movements. The first movement portrays what it is like to feel caged – the constraint, the sacrifice of self, the pain of stuck-ness. The second movement illustrates the frenzied attempts to break out of the cage, unsuccessfully.

Movement three is about what we might call learned helplessness, or accepting our circumstances, perhaps complacency and/or ditching the dream to be free and happy. Choosing to settle. Learning to be “happy” and giving up on potential.

In the last movement, the cage finally opens and we experience the joy of true freedom, being able to live life to its fullest capacity and the relief of being out in the open at last.

The show is copyrighted so we are forbidden to upload videos of the performance (plus we don’t want to give our secrets away to our competition before the tour!), else I would have loved to share the power of the sound and theatrics this talented group of students and staff produce.

Am I outside the cage, or in? What about you?

And, just like a ball team, they have their own mini-ambulance

Away from the action, empty hangers, backpacks and instrument cases line the fence

Ready to roll up the road to the next venue!

I caught up with him after last year’s show in Hiram, GA

Thanks, God, for opportunities You give us and our children to exercise talents, discover new skills and to experience great adventures. Thank You for freeing us of the many cages of our own making in which we ensnare ourselves….and may we always fully trust and be free in Christ.

(This hot summer – and now 16 and driving! – he values a shorter haircut than last year lol) – Godspeed, Jonathan William and all of Southwind!

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Much of our recent trip west was spent enjoying The Great Outdoors …what splendor and awe we found, most often in the most secluded and rugged places.

Boy meets Pacific Ocean

Redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park

Yup, I drove through one!

Majestic Mt. Shasta

Beach boy meets snow for the first time!

Fortunately there were only two spots where there were rocks in the road with no place to swerve but off the cliff. Woo-sah, I can still drive high elevations after all these years!

Smith River…my favorite place to see a shade of blue you never see except deep in glaciers or geyser pools

Oregon coast

Now we know what a “sneaker wave” is!

Multnomah Falls

Thank You, God, for an incredible trip, for the privilege of being able to share Your inspired creation with my son, for spectacular shows of nature and for happy memories. God, may all people experience the natural revelation of You. May we serve You through caring for this world and its people, preserving these special and awe-some sights for generations to come.

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Being fashionably late to everything, I’m just now stepping up to the challenge due to the hardships of cross-country travel.

But here is what’s NEW through my lens…coming home to Oregon for the first time in 17 years AND getting to share it with my 10 year old son, who was born and bred on the subtropical beach of his parents’ adopted second home.

He had as much fun beholding majestic wonders from above as I did, answering his gazillion questions about the earth, aviation, nature, God, geology, geography and all manner of why-cuz.

His very first flight ever…he remained fixated on the skies both to drink in the experience and to conceal his cheek-busting nonstop grin

Why are we at this angle? What if those rivets weren’t tight?

Mommy!! “What IS that down there? What’s happening to that side of the land?” That is where snow fell. “Why did it just stop at that line?”

The clouds seem to mirror the mountains below. We managed to fly over 12 states total!

Is that frost on the window? What’s it doing way up here?

Rocky Mountain High!

At PDX, a to-scale version of Multnomah Falls, all in Legos!

Later, when he got up close and personal to the live, giant Christmas trees, more questions arose which challenged my memories of college biology and botanical reproduction: How do they get so tall? Why are they so sheddy? Why are there so many pine cones and what do they do?

More adventures to come….

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Glimpses into our day…

Local farmers’ take on Santa, a combo of hay bales and spray paint on the side of the road.

One of the stores we purchased presents from, had this sign. Although this sign may well have been posted also at our local Victoria’s Secret, where they locked us out after opening time and otherwise shunned shoppers, quelle horreur!

Thank you, aunts and uncles, for sending us all manner of healthy Stuff! The cheeses are going into my unnoticed 14 cheese mac&cheese on Christmas.

This is what it looks like lining up Stuff for each of 4 kids’ stockings on Christmas Eve, lay it all out! Are your stockings too heavy to be hung by the fireplace with care?

Present-wrapping

One elder son will tickle the ivories on Christmas and regale us with his talent, another son who envied his older brother’s talent, will receive piano lessons for a Christmas present and will enhance his current musical talents.

Christmas Eve

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Evidently the children were busy doing other things besides bike riding this summer…

…and their parents were evidently too busy to tend to the garden and weeding!

Thanks, God, for new opportunities this summer, for the children being able to explore other places and things, and for Your protection and oversight as they do. Thank You for an enriched life, that we may serve You through and in all the paths You guide us.

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In the last installment, Subtropical storm Alberto was about to impose on my world. Perhaps the main twisted part had to do with the media coverage elsewhere (for ratings’ sake) than what actually was the case here.

The good news was it provided some great surf for the local surfer fanatics who don’t have the luxury of living in Australia or Hawaii. And that my kid’s skull wasn’t impacted. The bad news came home this morning:

No worries, we were able to save the ankle tether and this was just a backup surf board.

Now we’re just waiting for a “real” storm.

I don’t think I’ve introduced you to Donut the therapy dog yet….Santa brought him at Christmas to our house from a very special place across the country, for our special needs kids:

(when in my lap, he doubles as Toonces the Driving Dog)

He is decked out for Memorial Day.

God bless all who sacrificed their lives for ouR freedom….

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Who can resist a well-earned Special Olympics smile from a kid who wasn’t supposed to live past age 4?

David turns 18 in 22 days!

Thank You, God, for defying all odds, for playing the ultimate April Fool’s joke on death – showing the universe for once and for all that where death seems inevitable, life rocks on!

That there is no such thing as finality, that You are the only Omega…and Your gift is eternal life. May we always recognize that those things seeming to a close = opportunity for new beginnings in ways we haven’t yet fathomed.

And therein lies faith…and trust. Faith and trust that there is always more in store than we can possibly know or deserve in our finite wisdom. Thanks, God, for perpetual resurrection and preciousness in all things. SMILE!!

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An anonymous crowd of two for this week’s WPC – can you guess the story?

Thanks, God, for anonymity, facelessness and for being able to be lost in a crowd…for it is the pursuit of being found that leads us time and again right back to You, eternal life and Your amazing grace.

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