Friday, May 30, 2014

7 Quick Takes- Decoration Day, Big-O, Mountain Tea, Mommy & Me Dates, and Up-To-Code Septic Systems

I hope y'all had a great Memorial Day weekend.   We had a relatively quiet one around here.   When you are a SAHM and have a husband who works out of the home, it's really easy to forget about everyone else having the day off.   Tom worked on Memorial Day as he would any other week day, and of course, my job is 24/7.  And to prove how totally out-of-the mainstream we were, I made the foolish suggestion of visiting a very popular local state park on that Sunday to "get out and do something fun". Had I remembered it was one of the three busiest weekends of the summer, I would have never ever suggested such a thing!   As soon as I saw the parking lot packed and stacked, I remembered the holiday.   We made a mad dash through the park and the elbow-to-elbow crowd all trying to get a glimpse at a waterfall and then jumped back into the car.   Time for Plan B.   We decided to take the back roads home (well, here, they're all back roads), picked up a pizza, and Tom and the boys piled onto the sofa to watch Wall-E for the 1,369th time while I served pizza and leftover chocolate cake.  Ah....much better.  

Memorial Day, however, was not totally lost on me.   Around here, it is called Decoration Day.   While the holiday nowadays is mostly meant as a day of honor for our veterans (and rightfully so), in these parts, it's always taken on a larger meaning as a day that everyone remembers and honors the dead.  I guess you could call it "All Soul's Day" protestant-style.  It's called Decoration Day because people here visit the cemeteries and decorate all the graves on that day.   There is no shortage of silk flowers on the grave sites now!   The cemeteries have all been trimmed and mowed and every grave is adorned with at least one, and sometimes many, silk floral arrangements.   And while silk flowers on graves have never been my style (I would prefer just a few ox-eye daisies growing wild myself), I think it is really remarkable that the people here take the time to visit the cemeteries on this holiday weekend in order to remember those who have gone before us and make sure that their graves have been tended to.   Just one of the many reasons I love living in the Bible belt!

Joah is going through a really cute phase right now.   Tom and I are calling it the Big-O stage.  You know how kids pick up things they hear their parents say?   Well, apparently Tom and I (mostly me, I think) like to exaggerate the largeness of things by referring to them as "Big Ole".  Is this a southern thing?   I'm not sure, but I say it a lot such as "you boys sure made a big ole mess!"  But of course, being southern, I tend to drop the "le" and it sounds more like "big oh".    So now everything Joah sees is not just big, it's "big-o" as in "wow, look at that big-o waterfall!" or "that's a big-o squirrel I see!" or "I see a big-o cattapillar!" or "I hear a big-o freight train!" or "that's a big-o storm cloud", or "I found a big-o stick!" or "I wanna watch Wall-E on the big-o TV", well, you get the point.   Anyhow, you certainly can't say the kid lacks enthusiasm.
Joah on his big-o trike and wearing a big-o smile.

Most of my mornings from after breakfast until mid-afternoon nap time are spent trying to find activities that inhibit the boys from tormenting each other or the dog while also making me feel semi-productive.   One day this week, I decided we should all go pick teaberry (mountain tea) leaves and make tea out of them.  John really enjoyed picking the leaves and carrying them to the house and he really really enjoyed crushing them with the meat tenderizer (of course). 
John taking a huff of the wonderful wintergreen.  
Getting the essential oils moving.

I had never made teaberry tea before but I love wintergreen and teaberry has a very strong wintergreen smell so I just figured it'd be yummy.   Nope.  It was really not that good.   I could just barely taste the wintergreen flavor and really hoped for something stronger (hmmm...seems to be a theme with my drinks lately).  I probably didn't let it steep enough so looks like the boys and I will be back in the woods again next week harvesting some more.

Letting it steep.
The final product.

So if you were thinking making a pot of fresh mountain tea, I can't offer much advice at this point. But picking the leaves was a lot of fun and John is definitely learning what is edible in the woods and what is not...something I remember learning from my father and grandmother at a young age.  He can already identify several plants by name.  Sometimes, we forget that young children are really good at seeing subtle characteristics in plants and animals.   Unfortunately, this is a trait that seems to be lost as we become older.  As I told someone once when I got chastised a bit for not sending my boys to pre-school, "well, at least they know when and how to eat a persimmon".   Survival skills first, I say.

I debated whether or not to mention how the potty-training with Joah is going.   I guess I will just say that he is housebroken but not exactly potty-trained, if you get my drift.    Is this a boy thing?   For some reason, the call of the wild is just much more enticing to him right now than any treats I may have to offer for sitting on the toilet.    I'm not too concerned just yet...mostly because we don't have close neighbors.

One of the things I really love about our small town is the library.  First, no fee is required for a library card, unlike where we once lived.   Personally, I think libraries are one thing that should be fee-free, but not every incorporated locale seems to agree.   One day a week, they have story hour for pre-schoolers and I alternate weeks with the boys.  One week, I take John, the next, I take Joah.   Part of this is because they become wild little lab rats running through the maze of bookshelves difficult to control when I take them together, but it also gives me an opportunity to have one-on-one time with each boy.  So these mornings one day a week have become "mommy and me" dates and I am just loving them!   We go to the library story hour where they read books and make a little craft with the other children. Afterwards, the two of us walk across the street to a little vegetarian cafe' on the corner (no, I'm not vegetarian, I just eat like one) and get a bite.   Each time, they will sit in their chair across from me, munching on their fruit and cornbread and telling me all about what they see outside the window, the big-o truck that just passed, the train whistle they hear, etc.   I can't help but think about how someday they will be all grown up and not want to go on "dates" with their dear old mother anymore.   So I am cherishing these small moments while I can.

And, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, I will add that all those prayers I said for our septic system to pass inspection on our Missouri house seem to have worked because we got the inspection results this past week and it passed!   There were a few electrical issues found that we have to remedy, but considering that most houses in that county have septic systems that don't pass the new codes, and it can cost a ton to get them brought up to code, we were very relieved.   So, we are grateful that we don't have to deal with that.   In two weeks, we should hopefully close on our house.   I'm still wrestling with the sorrow that comes from not being able to adopt once the closing occurs, but I am just trusting God on this one.  

That's about it.    Hope everyone has a great weekend!   Thank you Jen for hosting.

Monday, May 26, 2014

5 Things I Love About Living in the Bible Belt (even though I'm Catholic)

I really like living in the south, and when you live in the south, people often refer to the region where you live as "the Bible Belt", usually with comments such as "so how do you like living in the Bible belt?" (I love it!) or "you know, you can't buy liquor in the Bible belt" (oh yeah you can!) or "did you know you're going to be living in the Bible belt?" (oh my!  thanks for enlightening me!).   Mind you, all of these comments are usually made by people who do not and probably never will live in the "Bible Belt" themselves or if they do or have, it most likely was not their idea.

One could argue exactly where the Bible Belt is in America.   Most agree that all southern states are included.  Some would also add the border states such as Missouri and Kentucky.   However, having lived in both Missouri and Kentucky, my experience has been that the term applies well to the southern parts of those states but venture northward and you'll find a much different culture not anything like the true Bible Belt that I am familiar with.  The same could be said for any small town versus large town in the south...that is, small town life in the south is much different than big town life.   So, all in all, if I were to define "Bible Belt", I would limit it to small towns located in rural areas in southern states.   And now that I am once again firmly planted in such, here are a few of the things I love most about living in the Bible Belt of America:

1.  Sundays are really Sundays.   There's a reason why more people in the southern US go to church regularly than anywhere else in the country (not counting Utah).  When you live in the Bible Belt, it's hard to forget what Sundays are meant for.   Here, Sundays are all about church, family, and rest.   In our small town, on Sundays, most people are moving about to go to one of three locations:   their church, to visit their family, or (this time of year) to go fishing.   True, we have a grocery store that is open on Sunday and some of us do make trips there (we need a few things to make Sunday dinner) and yes, there are many who opt to take the family out to a local restaurant in lieu of cooking, but for the most part, people spend time on Sunday the way is was meant to be.   And they really don't have much choice because other than the grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, all other locally-owned businesses are closed on Sundays.

Plus, when people here go to church, they really go to church.   For many here, going to church on Sunday isn't just the one hour in and out that we Catholics are familiar with. Rather, here, their entire day often revolves around going to church.   In the morning, many will often go to Sunday school for an hour followed by worship services for an hour and then maybe some social time together after that. Then it's home for dinner and relaxing or visiting (you won't hear many lawn mowers here on Sunday afternoons).  Come evening, they frequently head back to church for evening services.   I can't help but admire their devotion considering that for us Catholics, it's one hour of Mass on Sunday and Lord forgive the poor priest who dares go more than 60 minutes and cause us to miss the best parking spaces at the local Cracker Barrel.  And going back in the evenings for more prayer?  We wouldn't think of it!

And then there's Wednesdays.   In most areas, we Catholics are blessed to have weekday Masses offered but how many of us take advantage of them?   If we make it to an extra weekday Mass, say, once a week, we're feeling pretty good about ourselves.   But in the Bible Belt, all Wednesday evenings are treated like a mini-Sunday.   In order to avoid conflict with the local prayer services being held at the myriad of churches in the community, no other community activities are scheduled.  If you belong to Little League, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Senior Citizens, VFW, or any of the other civic groups, you can count on there being no games or meetings or other events on Wednesday evening.   Nothing is planned that may impede people from being where they need to be that night, namely, in church and if something like that was planned, very few if any would show up.  You don't show up at a ballgame when you should be in church, right?  How many times have we, as Catholics had to choose between going to a weekday Mass and other extracurricular activities?  Here, one night of the week, those other activities have been mostly eliminated in order to avoid that conflict.  It doesn't mean everyone takes advantage of it, but it does set  a nice example, if you ask me.

2.   God is given his due.   When you live in the Bible Belt, you find that God is never far from people's minds.   What I mean by that is that you will not see many social gatherings in which there is not at some point, a reference made to God.   For example, during music festivals (of which we have many), you can be assured that there will be a gospel song or two.  And there is to be no dancing during these gospel selections, no matter how lively a tune they may be (and some of them are pretty lively). Not that dancing in itself is considered sinful (well, a few people may still feel that way) but mostly because dancing during a gospel tune is considered disrespectful much like refusing to stand during the national anthem would be. So you pause during the gospel songs, maybe take your hat off, and listen to the words, because those lyrics are about us and the Almighty and who would want to distract anyone from that?

Then there are the many gatherings at which food is involved.  Even if it is not a family gathering or church gathering, you can still count on someone leading a blessing before we all chow down.  Nobody questions if it is the PC thing to do or not.  We just do it.  And it's not the 10-second kind of blessing either.  No, it will be extemporaneous and heartfelt and your biscuits just might get cold.

3.  People are proud to be Christian.  There aren't many folks here who hide their faith.   A few days ago, I was at a ballgame and saw a lady with a t-shirt on that proclaimed in large letters "Saved by Grace".  It brought to mind another t-shirt I saw a woman wearing while I lived in the (not Bible Belt) midwest that said "Too Many Christians-Too Few Lions".   Think about that message for a second and it should make us all shudder.   Obviously, I'd rather live in a community where the former and not the latter is considered acceptable.   And if the "Too Many Christians" lady wore that shirt here, she'd probably be approached in a very friendly manner by more than one person who was genuinely concerned about her salvation.  She'd likely be invited to attend their church and encouraged to seek a different message and a different path.

On a day to day basis here, it's hard to forget what is most important.  When you go into a store, the storekeeper is just as likely to say "God bless" as "have a nice day". When you drive down main street, you'll see our large billboard with the Ten Commandments posted on it (it was hung there after the Supreme Court made us remove them from the courthouse).   They may not be the exact same Ten Commandments we Catholics are familiar with, but considering most people today aren't familiar with either version, it's nice to see them just the same.

4.  They know how to support each other.  It's unbelievable just how many benefit suppers, bake sales, singings, and other fund-raising events are held here when someone is in need.  I've seen advertisements for community fund-raisers fill up an entire page of our local newspaper, which is saying something considering newsworthy items barely can do that.  For example, last summer, a local volunteer firefighter was seriously injured when he entered a burning home in an attempt to check for inhabitants.   Within hours of his accident, there was a Facebook page created in order to garner prayers and donations for his family.  In a few days, the page had hundreds of followers and in a few weeks, there were thousands of followers. His cause was the most talked about subject in town.  Just about every county organization held a fundraiser for his family including the local McDonald's.   Churches held prayer vigils on his behalf and public events were marked with a moment of silence for him and his family.  In the end, he succumbed to his injuries and his funeral service was so large, it had to be held in the local high school gymnasium.  The funeral procession went for miles and people who never even knew him lined up along the road as it went by, many saluting.  People here know what real support looks like.

5.  They love their church and their faith so much that they work hard at sharing it.  There is no shortage of revivals, church singings, or invites to church.   All are intended to bring people closer to God and share the joy they have found in their faith.   They are not only genuinely concerned for their neighbor's physical well-being, but also their spiritual well-being.  Granted, this makes being a Catholic a bit tricky sometimes, considering many here do not consider us "saved", but I also find it heartening that someone would actually have any concern for my soul.  It is always with sincere appreciation that I refuse invites to other churches and often I think to myself, if I wasn't already a Catholic, I just might take them up on the offer.  It's a good reminder to us that while we Catholics have been recently trying to jump start our own "new evangelization", our friends in the Bible Belt never forgot how to do it in the first place.

Considering all this, it's probably no coincidence that the Bible Belt is also known for its hospitality. "People here will walk up and talk to you about anything," my husband commented one day after a fellow walked up to him in the store and started telling him all about the row of 'taters he'd planted that day and about how he likes to eat his green onions (in a glass of milk and cornbread, in case you're wondering).   It's also probably no coincidence that during political elections, we are almost always the "red states" which might be why some people are looking for a lot more lions. However, it is also why, even though I'm a Catholic and will always be a bit of a local oddball,  I'm pleased to call it home.

Friday, May 16, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Mother's Day, Blackberry Winter, Wee Ball, and Screams in the Night

It was a good Mother's day around here last Sunday aside from the fact that our church really botched it up.   We had a visiting priest (something very common in a mission parish like ours...nobody seems to want to "claim" you) and the homily was all about "love your mothers", "call your mother", "mothers are modern saints", "we need mothers", etc. etc.

As usual, I was sitting in the last row of pews, trying to keep Joah in a semi-calm state, although in this case, having a 3-year old squirming in front of the congregation may have been a much needed distraction for some.  One of the perks to having an unruly pre-schooler and standing in the back is that it gives me a view of the entire parish.  During this homily that dripped with cliche's and sentimentality, I observed one woman fighting back tears, another woman shuffling back and forth through her missalette obviously trying not to listen, and the three ladies in front of me, none of whom were married, staring intently at the floor.   Several of the men didn't look too interested, either.  As if the homily hadn't been enough, at the end of Mass, the priest asked all the ladies who were "not mothers" to sit down while the "mothers" were asked to remain standing.   At this point, I saw the lady who had barely kept it together during the homily start weeping and the three in front of me sat down, again looking at the floor.   I didn't know the lady who was weeping, but I did know that the three ladies in front of me who sat down are here working as volunteers with this wonderful organization and spend their days helping teach and mentor the impoverished children in our community.   To know they voluntarily devoted every day to this cause and yet not be recognized as "mothers" was more than I could take.  So,  I bent over, Joah in my arms, and whispered to the three in front of me "please are mothers too".   They smiled gratefully and hesitantly stood back up.   When the flowers were brought my way, instead of taking my one, I took five.  And I bet you know what I did with them.

My heart bled for those women because I was once one of them and even though I may be an "obvious mother" now, I feel closer to those women than most women who have children.   Before I had a child of my own, I mentored other small children in scouts.  Before I held a baby in my arms for all to see, I buried one that few ever knew about.  But most of all, I would be lost without the elderly woman who has spiritually adopted me and become my spiritual mother..a woman who never carried a child in her womb.  It is to her, not my biological mother, to whom I turn when I need prayers or want to share some joy or sorrow that I've experienced. So if anyone reading this has helped a child, prayed for a child, buried a child, or become another's spiritual mother, thank you.  You and women like you deserve dozens of roses.

On the home front, though, I got everything I wanted for Mother's Day, namely, I didn't have to cook or do dishes, and I had some quality time alone.  Sounds terrible, I know, to want to spend part of Mother's Day alone and away from the kiddos, but I felt no guilt.  After all, they get me the other 364 days of the year.   Tom understood and after feeding me lots of BBQ chicken (my request) he graciously loaded up the boys and said "we'll be back at bedtime" and off they went in search of trains, hardware stores, playgrounds and French fries.   I took advantage of the quality time to listen to some old LPs (something difficult to do when you have pre-schoolers enchanted by the turntable) and unpacked some more boxes since I had been itching to get some books on our still empty bookshelves.  Needless to say, the boys had a delightful time "rearranging" all the books when they got home!  But I'd rather have a bookcase filled with mismatched and leaning books than a room full of diaper boxes filled with books so it was still all good in my book.

In other news, if you read the update on our house that I posted a few weeks ago, you know that the first contract on our house fell through, no fault of ours.   Well, this week, we got another offer and the house is under contract again.   This feels so much like the up, down, up, down rollercoaster of infertility.   Selling the house will be an answered prayer but knowing it means we go back to square one if we want to adopt still gives me a lump in my throat when I think about it.   I don't like accepting God's will when the odds are I won't get the answer I want.   But what else is new...


Bat held correctly.  Now to work on hitting the ball forward.
In an attempt to get more involved in our new community plus keep the boys occupied, I signed them up for "Wee Ball" and they played their first game this week.  I never played sports as a kid and I know nothing about Little League, but I have learned that "Wee Ball" comes before "Tee Ball" and then Little League comes after that.  At least, I think that's how it goes?  Kinda like Daisy's before Brownies in Girl Scouts, maybe?   Anyhow, Wee Ball is for 3 and 4 year olds and watching them was hilarious!   The phrase "herding cats" comes to mind.
The dynamic duo ready for the rebound.

After the first "inning" it became apparent that Tom and I probably should have gone over a few things with the boys which end of the bat to hold, what a "base" is, heck, what a "baseball" is!   But near the end of the last inning, they started to catch on.   John made a run for the ball and got dog-piled and started to cry but shook it off.   Joah finally agreed to hold the skinny end of the bat and made it to second base.   But mostly, they just enjoyed the fact that the ball field was one huge sandbox!

Now that we are mostly settled into our house, we have turned our focus outward and are starting to tackle taming this jungle that is called the Appalachian forest.   Tom has declared war on the poison ivy that is creeping closer and closer to the front door and I have started our new garden spot.   I kept telling myself I wouldn't garden this year because I didn't want the added stress of trying to get a garden in on top of all the other stress that came with moving.  But I wasn't really fooling anybody, including myself.   I have a bit of a gardening obsession, which I come by naturally, since I grew up in the garden helping my father with his.   So, we have a few things out, albeit late, but considering we live in a temperate rainforest now that gets an average of 50 inches of rain per year as opposed to the 40 inches of rain per year we had in Missouri, I don't think getting a late start on setting out our 'maters, peppers, broccoli, and herbs will set us back much.     The hungry deer, however, are another story...

This past week was hot and humid here, a harbinger of the next few months, but this weekend, we are enjoying unseasonably cool and wet weather, which is not surprising considering the blackberries are blooming now.   Hence, it's Blackberry Winter in these parts.  
After this, it gets warm and stays warm. And speaking of blackberries, it looks like we'll have a bumper crop this year.   Blackberry pickin' is a big deal in the mountains, especially considering folk here can sell them for $10 a gallon or more, which in turn, generates some much needed revenue to be used in the purchase of firecrackers for the 4th of July.  Who knew the ripening of blackberries could be so timely!

And sticking with the nature theme, I'll close with a story about visitor we had last week (no, not a bear yet).  Tom and I have been enjoying sleeping with the windows open and one night, just as we drifted into dreamland, we awoke to hysterical screeching and agonizing screaming that can only be described as a young woman under violent attack.   The urge to call 9-1-1 was hard to resist.   We listened to it get louder and louder and move from one end of our property to the other.   But rather than jumping out of bed and dashing for the floodlights, Tom and I just smiled and said "how cool".   We had just been visited by a red fox and if you've never heard one, go here now because I promise you, doing so just may save you from having a near heart attack some time if you ever go camping in the eastern woods of North America.  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend and thanks to Jen for hosting.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Many Kinds of Mothers

I found this many years ago and thought it was worth sharing today.    Thank you to all of you wonderful women who are letting the love in your hearts bear fruit either physically or spiritually, or both.   We all crave the mothering love you have to offer.   Happy Mother's Day.


A mother can come in many forms:

~A mother is obviously a woman who conceives, births, and raises a child given to her by God. She is what we as a society see as a mother.

But there are many other mothers that we should also remember….

~A mother is the young woman who finds herself pregnant, unable to parent, who chooses the best life for her child by placing him for adoption. She will not be that baby's parent but she will always be his birth mother.

~A mother is the woman who prays for a child she does not carry in her womb. She becomes the mother and parent to a child given in adoption. She is there in the night, in sickness, in health, in joy, and in sadness. She is an adoptive mother.

~A mother is the woman who never bears a child of her own, or who never is able to physically provide for a child.  Yet, she prays for the protection of all unborn children, and for the many children she encounters daily and mentors through life.   She is a spiritual mother.

~A mother is the woman who takes on the care of another's children through foster care or guardianship. She gives her life to loving them. They see her as mother.

What makes a mother?   More than anything, it’s the love for others found in a woman’s heart.

God bless ALL mothers!

(Source unknown)

Friday, May 2, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Mercy Sunday, Two Fave Saints, Moving On, and Flowers with Humblebees

This is a bit late, but it's still Friday so here goes...

Since last Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday, I thought I'd share a little Divine Mercy story of my own.
When I married Tom, who at the time was not Catholic, a dear Catholic friend took me aside on our wedding day and whispered in my ear "Make sure you take Tom to Mass on Mercy Sunday." At the time, I didn't even know when Mercy Sunday was.   But I made it a point to find out and took her advice.  Tom did go to Mass with me that Sunday (he actually went to Mass with me every Sunday even before he converted) and I made it a point to pray especially for his conversion. Two years later, on the Easter vigil, he joined the Church. Divine Mercy Sunday has always been extra special to us ever since.   So, is there someone you know who has left the Church, or who you hope joins the Church?  Take them to Mass on Mercy Sunday!

This year, on Divine Mercy Sunday, I found this little red azalea bush tucked away under the sea of white azaleas blooming in our yard.  

The white ones had been in bloom for a few days but the red one just showed up in bloom on Sunday and before it bloomed, I never even knew it was hidden under the others.    It will forever now be known in my eyes as our "Divine Mercy" azalea.

Of course, this past Sunday was also a special day for all us Generation Xers who knew Pope John Paul II as "Our Pope" because he's the one we grew up with, and in a way, for many of us, he was our "Catholic Grandpa".    Like so many, I feel blessed that I got to see him (albeit from a distance) before he died.
Photo I took it when I got to see him in the Jubilee year 2000.
A great moment!
Of the many things we have to be thankful for that came from this great pope, I personally am most thankful for the Catechism.   When it finally came out in print again, I was a young college graduate on the verge of leaving the Church.  I wanted to learn about the Church but everywhere I turned, I saw only poor examples and got few answers. I didn't know which books about the Church could be trusted, or which Catholics I could trust.  But for some reason, I trusted this Pope, and I poured through the Catechism during the days after it was published.  I still remember making a special trip to the book store to purchase my copy.  And gradually, all the "rules" I'd grown up with began to make sense and I saw the beauty in my faith. Thank you, St. John Paul the Great, for saving me and so many others by catechizing a mostly uncatechized generation.  

This past week marked the feast of another great saint, too.  St. Gianna Beretta Molla.   I can't count all the prayers and novenas I've said to St. Gianna.   She got me through some difficult days, especially when I thought we may lose our baby John.   Where would I be without these saints to turn to?   Thank you, St. Gianna and please pray for all of us who struggle to become mothers and to be mothers.

There were two momentous events that happened around here this past week.  I already posted about the first here.   We signed the offer and hopefully things will go well and our septic system will pass inspection (yes, I am really praying for that particular intention!).   I am gradually accepting the fact that this really narrows our time frame now for adopting to a mere three weeks.   A baby suddenly becoming available in the next three weeks? Now that would be a miracle.  I've already had two miracles, so I probably shouldn't expect a third.   I know every mother has to accept that her family is as big as it's going to get at some point in time.  That, and I know that if we adopted a third, in a few months I'd want a fourth.  So I need to work on being happy with what I've been given, which I know is a lot!

The other momentous event is that I've started potty training with Joah...again.   I had this theory that he'd be a piece of cake because he tries to do everything his brother does and his brother has been potty trained since he was a little over two.  But Joah is his own little person and believe me, does things in his own little way and in his own time.   We started down this road last fall, had some success, but then there was major regression so I pulled the diapers out and decided to wait until spring.   Now that he has mostly recovered from the trauma of surgery and re-locating to a new home, we are trying it again.   I am pleased to say that he is doing very well so far.   I am taking the approach of just letting him take the lead and I say almost nothing about it.  Hopefully I didn't just jinx us now by blogging about it!

I also found out that there is a name for what I described in my last Quick Takes when I somewhat desperately requested advice for dealing with three-year old siblings who feed off each other's (bad) behavior.  It's called "Twin Escalation Syndrome" and apparently it has driven many a mother nuts, including me.  Part of the remedy seems to be to do as much one-on-one time with them as we can and to separate them more often.  They really crave having a parent to themselves, it seems.   Anyhow, I'm still (always) open to advice if anyone has any.

 I'll end with a photo I took of this little gem we have blooming in the woods behind our home.
It's a pink lady's slipper orchid and I am thrilled to have them!  Joah loves to watch the "humblebees" as he calls them fly in and out of the slipper part.   We're also still enjoying the return of the spring migrant birds and this week, were treated to a Cape May warbler and a Chesnut-Sided warbler in the front yard.   Both are relatively uncommon here so we feel privileged to have them stop by for a visit.   I can't wait to see what other critters this spring brings to our new home!   I expect a bear any day now.

Have a great weekend.  Check out Jen's blog (and check out her new book, too) for more Quick Takes.