Actually, yes it was. I’ve been waiting to post those all week!
Daddy set a tent up in our back yard on Friday afternoon so he and Evie could sleep out. (Mommy will sleep out in a tent if she has to, but considers the presence of a nice comfy bed a few yards away in the house to be indication that she doesn’t have to).
Then we had a cookout on the back deck, preparatory to s’moring it up on our backyard.
The weather was turning gray, but we grilled the trout as well, along with some stuffed portabella mushrooms.
Not surprisingly, Evie did not like the fish. Also not surprisingly, Ellie loved it. Daddy could not de-bone it and get it between her gums fast enough.
Then the rain came, and it rained cats and dogs all night. No one got any sleep what with the caterwauling and the barking and our yard was a mess of fur and blood the next morning…
Just kidding. Actually, it was a welcome treat for our garden, which is doing beautifully, BTW.
On Saturday we went on a hike on Mount Rainier. We drove up to the Carbon River and hiked up a trail from there. It used to be a vehicle trail, but it is closed to vehicular traffic now, so we didn’t have to watch out for cars, which is an important consideration when hiking with a three-year-old.
After about 1.2 miles we came upon a little side trail that led up to a mine. It said it was only 0.3 miles to the old mine entrance, so we decided to check it out.
Turned out that about 90% of that 0.3 miles was uphill, up the side of a narrow gorge that ran up the hill.
When we got to the cave we found that there was a gate across the mouth, just inside the entrance. We couldn’t go in, so we decided to go on. There was a goat trail leading up the side of the mountain so we took it.
It led us to a wonderful little picnic spot where we had an early lunch.
After lunch we headed back down the hill. Ellie was a little tired.
Ellie going up!
Ellie going down.
She was hiking very hard!
When we got down to the car we went a little bit further so that Evie could throw stones in the river.
The final result of all this adventuring was…
I can’t remember the last time she fell asleep in the car.
We went to bowling with Deedee and Papa on Sunday, but we didn’t take any pictures so you’ll just have to take our word for it. However, here is a picture of our Sunday morning coffee hour/baby swap.
And that’s all for this week. It has been mostly a work week.
We still made time for some healthy dream building, including conversations about possible alternate career paths.
There is only one adventurer in the world, as can be seen very clearly in the modern world, the father of a family. Even the most desperate adventurers are nothing compared with him. Everything in the modern world, even and perhaps most of all contempt, is organized against that fool, that imprudent, daring fool – against the unruly, audacious man who is daring enough to have a wife and family. Everything is against him. Savagely organized against him. Everything turns and combines against him. Men, events, the events of society, the automatic play of economic laws. And, in short, everything else. Everything is against the father of a family, the pater familias; and consequently against the family. He alone is literally “engaged” in the world, in the age. He alone is an adventurer. The rest are at most engaged with their heads, which is nothing. He is engaged with all his limbs. The rest suffer for themselves. In the first degree. He alone suffers through others. — Charles Peguy, Clio 1.
We watched Disney’s new animated movie, “Moana,” this week. Evie really enjoyed the movie for the singing and dancing, and she loved the fact that most of it happens on a boat in the ocean.
During the sad parts of the movie when Moana cries, or the scary parts when they are fighting the Lava monster, she wasn’t exactly upset. But she did have to snuggle with Mommy and offer this piece of advice:
“Her needs her Daddy.”
Which I thought was kind of funny, considering that is kind of the exact opposite of the movie’s message, but in Evie’s world there are still no problems that can’t be solved by snuggling with Mommy and calling for Daddy to fix it.
It won’t be like that forever. Eventually she will find herself on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no Mommy or Daddy, but for now it’s nice that she feels that way.
And incidentally, that movie would have been a flop without Dwayne Johnson.
Woohoo! Daddy is done with Didactic year today, after two weeks of summer class. Of course he still has school the rest of the summer, but it is all online. And of course he has National Guard stuff to do, but hopefully most of that will be low-intensity.
But enough about that. We now have time for family stuff. We all went camping last weekend with Deedee and Papa for Father’s Day. Evie had so much fun she didn’t want to sleep the whole time.
We found all kinds of wild life.
Saul was especially cool because when we found him outside he was all cold and slow-moving so it was not hard at all to catch him. But after a few minutes inside Deedee and Papa’s camper he warmed up and started to dart around so we had to put him back outside. Deedee didn’t want a salamander loose in her camper.
Evie is too little to help with the fire or roast marshmallows by herself, but we let her help mommy fan the fire with a fan that Daddy made.
Life at home goes on as usual. Our garden is growing like crazy.
Mommy and the New Baby are both doing fine, albeit a little bit warm as the weather heats up.
For this week’s Family thing to do, we decided to go on a trip.
So we all piled in the car and drove to the airport, where we jumped on the first flight out.
This turned out to be a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and then Rome.
Lufthansa flights are cool because they come with little baby beds for Evie. This was a good thing since it turned out to be a 10 hour flight.
So Evie caught a three hour nap.
And then slept again when we arrived. She even slept while riding the metro, which is not usual for Evie.
The next morning we stepped out to explore what was around our hotel.
Steps. Steps were around there. And early morning streets with the sun on them.
And then what do you know, there we were!
Right at St. Peter’s Square!
Mommy and Evie really liked the Nativity scene. It was very Pope Francis-esque, with the images of the tired, poor, hungry and lame coming to visit.
It was a “cold” winter weekday, so there were no lines for the Vatican. We walked right in (after the metal detectors) and Evie tripped on the cobblestones and smacked her forehead pretty hard. She has been sporting a bruise ever since, but she still looks cute. Tough, but cute.
We decided to check out one of the Restaurants listed in our favorite Swiss Guard cookbook, La Vittoria, which is a few hundred yards outside the south side of St. Peter’s square.
Let me just say, if you are ever in Rome, eat there. You will not regret it, and the prices are quite reasonable.
And some pictures from slumming around the city…
Our next major stop (hee hee hee, get it? “Major?”) was the Pope’s parish church,
St. Mary Major.
Undoubtedly this was one of the most beautiful churches we saw on our trip.
We even paid for a tour of the gallery and mosaics, despite the fact that it was getting on towards noon, and Evie was turning into a very tired baby. The tourguide assured us would only be about 25 minutes long. It would have been, except that he had to give the whole thing twice, once in Italian and once in English, since it was a mixed group.
The view from inside the nave.
We learned that the mosaic façade was done in two separate pieces, the first being the upper band in the Byzantine style, and the second being the lower series of panels in a renaissance style. The marble arches and the balcony and gallery that they support were added some centuries later in an effort to protect the mosaic from the elements and extend its life. Unfortunately, the arches had to be attached directly to the wall in several places, so in those areas they had to cover up the mosaic. Still, I think it was done rather carefully and quite tastefully.
Evie was a very good girl through the tour and only started getting cranky when it was past her nap time and we went inside to see the gallery of popes and Bernini’s staircase.
The staircase is a bit of an engineering feat because Bernini built it without any central support pillar. The blocks of marble that form the stair sit one on top of the other so that each transfers its weight down into the one below it, and so on into the foundation. The surrounding walls keep them from sliding outward, and the downward weight holds the structure together.
Pretty cool stairway, Bernini, but we saw one made out of wood, without a central support, and with no surrounding wall. St. Joseph wins!
Through the whole tour, Evie was a very good girl. She is quite a good traveler, except she likes to steal Daddy’s sun glasses.
But traveling is tiring work, so, Baby Girl has to take naps.
At the end of last week, Mommy and Evie flew in to visit Daddy. It was a long flight for them, but it was worth it. We got to spend the Easter Triduum together, or at least most of it. We didn’t get together in time to make Holy Thursday Mass, but Daddy and Evie went to Holy Hour after we got to the hotel. Mommy was too tired and she fell asleep almost at once. She had worked all night the night before, and flown a rambunctious baby girl who refused to sleep all the way across the country, so she definitely had earned an early sleep.
Unfortunately, Evie had eaten something that didn’t agree with her so when we got back to the hotel after Holy Hour she screamed from 10:30 until about midnight, and threw up three times between midnight and 1:00 AM so that interrupted Mommy’s sleep a bit too.
Poor Baby Girl! But she felt better after that and has been just fine ever since. We think it was the yogurt bits that did it.
Who’s that goofball?
On Good Friday we met up with Uncle Matthew and drove to Wilmington, NC, where we checked into the Hotel. Evie and Mommy had a sword fight while Uncle Matthew set up the crib.
Then we went to the Good Friday Service and Veneration of the Cross at St. Mark’s Catholic Church. It was a very beautiful church, with lovely singing and a very devout liturgy. We enjoyed the fact that one of the priests had an intermittent Southern drawl that only came out when he used a typical Baptist word like “Rise up!” and “Baptize!” etc.
One Holy Saturday we got up early(ish) and went on a field trip to the Battleship North Carolina museum.
Evie wants to walk, but sometimes there are lots of breakable things around. but she doesn’t mind riding on Daddy’s shoulders, so that’s okay too!
It’s a really big boat.
It has really big guns.
We got to climb into some of them, and sit at the controls of others. The AA cannons on the deck are actually hand crank powered, and let me tell you, spinning those guns around by hand can get really tiring. Even Ryan got tired after two or three full speed traverses.
Inside the main gun was like a small engine room. There were white cardboard cutouts to show where the loaders would have worked. It was hot and cramped to the big people, but to Evie it was just a huge playground.
We roamed all over that ship, above decks, below decks, up on the bridge. It was pretty amazing to see how the Sailors lived and worked in cramped, close conditions. Still, it was nothing like as cramped and miserable as submariners!
Uncle Matthew had to fool around, trying to handstand on the post out front.
But that’s as far as he got. (Ryan can’t do any better, in case you were wondering).
We had to leave the ship before we got all the way down to the bottom deck because Evie got too tired and cranky. So we drove back to the hotel and she had a nice long nap while Daddy and Uncle Matthew worked out. Very hard. Afterwards we had Thai food for lunch at an excellent little hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. Then we went to introduce Evie to the Atlantic Ocean!
And Mommy too. She’s seen the Atlantic Ocean before, but only from the other side, so it was a first for her too!
Evie really liked the water, so Daddy took her out a little deeper.
If we had let go of her she would have been in over her head in a second. That child has no fear… yet. Judging by how she reacts in the bathtub to getting water in her eyes, actually getting doused by the waves might dampen (hee hee 😉 her enthusiasm a bit.
We visited a Civil War battlefield that was right next door, but only had a few minutes before it closed.
But there is always time for climbing trees!
That evening we went to the vigil Mass for Easter to complete the Triduum. It was aboslutely gorgeous. Long, of course, almost 3 hours. We had originally planned on going out for Pizza afterwards, but it was 11:00 before we got back to the hotel, and Evie and Mommy were exhausted.
So Daddy and Uncle Matthew ordered Dominos and ate it in the Lobby. Happy Easter!
On Easter Sunday we drove up to VA beach and visited with one of Kathleen’s old vascular ultrasound friends.
We went out to a seafood restaurant on the beach, and Evie ate everything in sight. She ate her own food, she ate Mommy’s food, and she ate Daddy’s food. Finally, in desperation, Daddy gave her a lemon slice to chew on.
She ate that too!
Not like just a little nibble here and there. She bit chunks out of it, chewed them up and swallowed them, and asked for more! Crazy Child!
On Monday we drove back, but we stopped on the way at a plantation farm called the “Hope House.” It is a restored Antebellum plantation home, with several period outbuildings on the grounds, and a restored colonial hall style building that was moved there from a couple miles away. We tried to do the tour, which was supposed to take an hour for the whole property.
We went into the Colonial house, and got to see that, but our tour guide was so interesting and knowledgeable, and we were the only customers so we got to talking and asking questions and just chatting back and forth.
It ended up taking a full hour just to see that house alone. By that time Evie was tired of being cooped up, first in a car seat for two hours, then in a house full of antiques that she wasn’t allowed to play with. Oh, and did I mention that no one had invented air-conditioning in the 1700’s? Plus she was starving.
That teapot is made out of a coconut with brass fittings! Cool, huh!?
So we had to leave the tour, and this was as close as we got to seeing the actual plantation house.
Evie was so amped up at the end of that long car ride that we had to find a park to let her get her wiggles out. (This car is parked in the picture below. We don’t let her climb around in the back seat while the car is moving. Hence the antsies in her pantsies).
Fortunately there is one right next to one of the Chapels on post, and Evie wore herself out there quite happily!
No ladder or slide too high for this little monkey!
Kathleen and Evie got to try to visit another plantation on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, they got to the office on time, but the tour had started a few minutes early, so they missed it.
Bummer! Mommy really wanted to see a plantation house. Maybe next trip.
They did get to see some of the stuff in the visitor’s center, so that was good.
Let’s see, what else?
Nope, that’s about it. Mommy and Evie flew back home on Wednesday. Evie was a very worn out little girl child!
Traveling is hard when you’re just little. Sometimes you just need to take a nap with your favorite pet otter, Oswald.
But it won’t be long now until Daddy is home with Mommy and Evie!
Until then, God bless, and stay awesome, my friends!
I sometimes think that fighting is really one of those things that either you get it, or you don’t. Most people don’t. Some people just love fighting. They are mostly people with a high inborn level of badassitude, for whom a physical struggle is actually fun. It is more than fun, it is deeply fulfilling. They feel alive and energized and on fire.
Most people aren’t like that. Most people hate fighting.
I will let you in an a secret. So do I.
Fighting is hard. Physically it is exhausting to an unbelievable extent. In fact, the only thing I have done more physically draining is rock climbing, for the simple reason that I am more afraid of heights than I am of fighting, and therefore I clench harder.
But yeah, I am afraid of fighting. I always have been. The last scene from the Korean movie “Fighter in the Wind” has always resonated with me. I am afraid of losing. I am afraid of not knowing what to do. I am afraid of freezing under the stress and looking like an idiot. I am even a little afraid of getting my head pounded in, (although that actually doesn’t really hurt while it’s happening).
Looking back at all the martial arts training I have done I realize that it is kind of a microcosm of my entire adult life. It is a bit… neurotic, almost?… How much of my life I have spent doing things that I hated doing and was terrified of. I humped out of airplanes, literally forcing myself one step at a time towards the door, visualizing a swimming pool outside the aircraft door (which doesn’t actually work, by the way, I still see the ground). I force myself out knowing that even after that sickening drop, and the catch of the opening shock, and that initial, “Whoosh” moment, I still have the even worse fear of landing.
I climb rocks, even though I could almost puke from fear the entire way up. That fear actually goes away after a while, leaving behind a pleasant exhilaration. I was terrified of the sleep deprivation and starvation and physical hardship of the Q course, and yet I forced myself through that. I was afraid of the competition, the endless peer and cadre evaluations, the constant judgment from everyone asking “Do you measure up? We assume that you don’t. Prove us wrong.”
The urban assault course was miserable. An entire month of high stress shooting from flat range to room clearing, firing live rounds inside closed rooms with my buddies. Constantly being watched, being judged every second of every day. Worrying that I won’t pick up the skills fast enough, that I will make a mistake and be out of position and get the air horn called (no one wants to be that guy), or worse that I will turn the wrong way or make the wrong split-second decision and shoot a non-threat target. Or another guy on the team. That was a miserable month.
Heck, I am afraid every time I go to the gym and I know that I have a gut-wrenching workout ahead of me (Wednesdays are the worst). When I set myself a goal for that workout, simultaneously I feel that sinking feeling of, “Oh hell, this is going to suck.” That never changes. I feel it every. single. time.
And yet I go to the gym. I went through the Q course. I passed the mountain course. I passed Airborne school, I passed the company’s Urban Assault course. I trained at Martial Arts and I fought in tournaments.
Why did I do that?
I don’t know. Just to see if I could? Maybe because I was more afraid of being afraid than of any of the particular things I am afraid of? I have always had this feeling that to be afraid of something is to be weak. That fear is a weakness which must be faced and beaten. Because otherwise the commies win, if that makes sense?
To live in fear is to live a diminished life, and that seems to me worse than dying, or falling from a cliff, or getting beaten up, or even making a mistake and shooting the wrong person. I cannot agree with those who think that it is better to be safe than sorry, the more because that is my natural inclination. I naturally want to stay at home, eat pizza, play video games and never take the risk of failing. But, thanks be to God, I was taught early on to recognize that that is actually a fate worse than death, because it is a sort of living death. So I said, “Screw it, I guess we’re doing it live,” and I went.
Not only that, but I actually miss it. Life is too easy when I am not forcing myself through the suck on a regular basis. Life without fear is boring. Preferring entertainment and rest to action and growth is boring. Kathleen will tell you, if life gets too easy for more than a day, I become a very cranky person.
Hopefully that and the ongoing spiritual warfare will tide me over until I have my PA license and can start looking for an interesting job.
“Chivalry is only a word for that general spirit or state of mind which inspires a man to heroic and generous actions and keeps him conversant with all that is pure and beautiful in the intellectual worlds.
— Kenelm Henry Digby, “Maxims of Christian Chivalry”