Category Archives: scouts

Veteran’s Day (I know, I’m way late here)

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So I’m a little late with this, but I have to tell you about my experience at our local Veteran’s Day ceremonies. I say ceremonies because our town is made of several small communities and five of them have memorials, so every year on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, a group of folks, including veterans from the American Legion, VFW, Biker Vets (I don’t know what they’re called but that’s what they are), Rifle Squad (or whatever they’re called – I suck at this), ladies Auxiliary groups, and boy and girl scouts make rounds to each of the memorials for a ceremony. Since the boy is a scout, we always go.

Four of the memorials are smaller, and the ceremonies go pretty quickly, but the “main” one in town is generally a little larger. Usually I enjoy the ceremonies – the laying of the flags, reading of the names, and the 21-gun salute are touching. Taps makes me cry every time. But it can be a little boring after you hear the same prayers, the same speech, the same poem at each and every ceremony. But you suck it up and pay your respects. This year, however, it was a little irritating.

The lady who read the poem started off by giving a little speech about honoring veterans. It was mostly nice until she started bitching – I mean raised voice bitching – about the low turnout. She went on and on about how years ago more people turned out and now it’s sickening that people don’t. I have a couple of problems with this. First off – years ago, it was a big deal – I mean – there were bigger ceremonies – they were publicized. Now, unless you’re in the groups that are a part of it, you don’t even know about them. And if you don’t know, you can’t come. Two – with Veteran’s Day especially – people work. I am lucky enough to be off that day, but I know plenty of people who couldn’t come if they wanted to because they are working. And finally – hello? Preaching to the choir! We’re here. Don’t bitch and yell at us about apathy because each and every one of us dragged our asses (and often our kids’ asses) out of bed at the buttcrack of dawn, got dressed and ready, and stood outside in the cold listening to the same speeches over and over again. Don’t bitch at us! Write a letter to the editor or something, but please – shut up.

But the thing that really pissed me off this year was the main speaker at the “big” ceremony. We got done with the 3rd one and it was early, so I figured we had plenty of time to attend the 4th one (the “big” one) and still make our plans for the day. It was only about 10:00 when we headed out on the less than 5 minute drive to the next memorial. It got started about 10:30, and went through the same speeches, prayers and poem, and then they had a speaker. And I wanted to punch him in the face.

He started off talking about honoring veterans. It was nice. And then…oh, and then he got political and religious. He started going on and on about what a terrible country we have become and how all the veterans who gave their lives were rolling over in their graves over what was going on in this country. That they would be so disappointed in our leaders, and so on and so on and holy fucking shit, he is still going on. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t have done a better job at being an asshole.

I was absolutely offended. And not because his politics clearly differed greatly from mine – I would have been pissed if he agreed with everything I believe, too. I was pissed because this was supposed to be about honoring veterans. This was not mean to be a political rally. And it’s offensive that you should assume that everyone in the audience agrees with your views. It’s a slap in the face to the men and women who have served and/or given their lives for this country to use their day to do this. I have known a lot of veterans in my lifetime, and at least half of them would have vehemently disagreed with his political views. And it is incredibly ignorant to claim that they are or would be disappointed in this country currently. I’m getting awfully sick of the assumption that Conservative=Patriotic and Liberal=Country-hating, veteran-mocker.

His speech went on and one and on. At this point, it was at least 30 minutes – 25 of which had nothing to do with Veteran’s Day and everything to do with watching Fox news too fucking much. And just as we thought it was going to end ( he kept saying, “in conclusion” and then going on and on some more), he decided to shift from what a commie pinko country we have become and focus on what godless heathens we are. He talked and yelled and railed on about the loss of God in public schools, the lack of mandatory prayer, the abandonment of Jesus.

Again, this was a huge slap in the face to the many, many men and women who have fought sacrificed for our freedom – for his freedom who are and were Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and atheists. Does their sacrifice mean less because they didn’t die praying to the same god? Or any god?

I walked way at this point. I know it wasn’t the most respectful thing to do, but I couldn’t take any more. I was so offended I was actually in tears. I was just waiting for the god hates fags chorus to kick in and I didn’t want to be there to hear it. By the time he was done, he had spent 45 or 50 minutes raining his fire and brimstone down on us and maybe five to ten minutes had anything to do with the actual purpose of the day.

When he finally did finish spewing his nonsense, both he and the man who took the podium after him offered information on his youth group, inviting people to join. Yeah, I’ll get right on that, hater.

So, a little late – I want to say that I have a huge amount of respect and awe for the people who have served this country. I am not nearly as brave. I am not nearly as noble. They may not all be perfect, but they are willing to defend me and this country and for that, I honor them. They make little money. They don’t get nearly enough respect. They spend time away from their families and homes. They lose hope and limbs and precious, precious time. And for those who gave their lives – there is nothing I could do that could equal that sacrifice. Even when I don’t support the war, I always, ALWAYS, support the soldiers. I don’t care who they pray to, or if they pray at all. I don’t care who they voted for. And I hope that next time, the town finds a speaker who doesn’t care either.

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Helping Others is Not All About You, Assholes

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This Saturday was a busy, volunteer-y day. First, our scout troop helped out in the morning with our town’s cleanup day – picking up trash, planting, mulching, etc. Then, when that was over, it was pick up day for Scouting for Food.

Every year, we spend one Saturday distributing bags all over town and then the next Saturday we spend the day picking up donations, sorting, boxing and delivering them to the local food bank. It is these kinds of scouting activities that keep me involved despite my absolute hatred for some of the policies of the organization. There isn’t a whole lot of organized giving-a-shit around these parts lately, so any time we can do good, it’s worth it.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get a little jaded when it comes to this kind of think, though. The folks that run the food bank out of a local church basement are kind of assholes. You’ve met the type – older folks who get their jollies by being big, obnoxious control freaks. Late year, we spent hours in the heat, collecting and sorting and packing thousands of pound of food. When we were all set, it turned out that the food bank decided to be an asshole. They were under the impression that they were doing us a favor. And so even though we have been doing this for approximately 20 years they decided that they could not possibly accommodate us for dropping off (and carrying in and stacking) the food. We had to do it while the food bank was open. But the food bank was only open from about 9-4 on weekdays. Exactly when all the boys were in school and t\all the leaders and parents were at work. We tried to explain this, but they wouldn’t budge. Not one single one of those old harpies would come in for less than an hour on a Saturday to receive huge donations of food to help the needy and fill their almost empty shelves. Not. One.

We kept trying to work something out, but they were adamant. OK, then. We still had a ton of food and we still wanted to help the needy, so we called the local salvation army food bank, which serves the entire surrounding area, in addition to our town. They were thrilled and immediately agreed to be available for the drop-off. All was well.

Until, that is, the food bank called a few days later demanding, “Where is our food?!” the leader explained to them that since they refused to accept the donation on anything but their strict hours, we were forced to donate the food elsewhere. Then the shit hit the fan. Someone from the food bank wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper accusing the scouts of stealing food out of the mouths of the local hungry. This couldn’t have been further from the truth and a rebuttal was sent by the leader, but it still got out there. It sucked.

This year, the leader spoke with the food bank and they gave him a little bit of a hard time about being available, but he reminded them about whet happened last year and they got a little more flexible. They still managed to keep us waiting in the alley in the heat just to make sure we know who’s boss, of course.

But sadly, this year, the donations were low. We passed many houses where people had left their bags still hanging from mailboxes, fencepost, etc. The donation we did get were smaller. It was sad, because it’s a vicious cycle – worse economy = more need, but it also means that more people are less able to give and fill that need. We definitely had less when we got back to the sorting location. And then, we had to weed out a lot of expired stuff, which shrunk the donation a little more.

I think the thing that pissed me off the most was that the large majority of the donations came from the poorest parts of town. There were people who saw us and ran in and filled up a bag, because hey missed theirs, etc, and clearly, they could ill afford it. But next, we headed to the most affluent part of town, expecting a haul. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Only a coupe of houses in a large neighborhood had donations out. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but in an entire development filled with in-ground pools and huge houses with Mercedes and BMW in the 3 car garages, you would expect more than just a few bags.

One lady saw us and apparently when her bag was labeled with the date, someone made a mistake and had Sunday’s date on it. She said to folks collecting, “This bag says Sunday.” They apologized for the mistake and told her that it should have had that day’s date on it. The she looked them right in the eye and snapped, “Well TOO BAD! It says tomorrow so I will put out my donation TOMORROW!!”

It disgusts me that so many people are too busy being superior, or controlling, or downright crazy that something important gets passed over. They don’t seem to realize that it’s not the Boy Scouts that they are punishing with their attitude, it’s the hungry and needy. And it pisses me off.

Helping others mean nothing if you completely miss the “others” part.

Please Unblock Me!

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I have had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad blogger’s block lately. I used to have so much to say and lately, nothing. Sometimes I think of things and then as I write them, I decide they suck and I give up. Or I feel too tired to bother. Or there are things I want to say, but can’t, since I am afraid of being too public. I’m dying here. Someone, anyone, please tell me what to write about. Give me a topic, make a request, ask me a question – I don’t care how silly, or deep, or personal it is. I need some inspiration!!

So – on to the boring, I can’t think of anything to write about stuff. We visited the boy at camp on Wednesday night. Remember his neat, organized tent on Sunday? Yeah:

But despite the craptacular tent, he was having a great time. He is definitely in his element at camp. When we first started him with the camping, we weren’t sure. Because this is a boy who loves TV and video games and laying around like a lazy ass. But it turns out he loves camping, too. Mr b and I used to camp a lot before we had kids and we keep saying that we want to start again, but something always seems to get in the way. We’re going to have to finally do it. Of course, I would never camp in those scout tents – oh hell no. I like the sealed-up zip tents with floors and netting. The kind that you zip open as little as possible, jump out and zip up again, in order to keep the spiders from getting in. Those open things with no floors? Forget it. Spiders. Of course, my dad bought a small camper, so that may be the way to go for us.

Anyway – the boy. He kayaked and loved it (yay, because I love to and we can go together), and hiked and worked on merit badges and fished a lot:

The camp is HUGE and quite nice.

We picked him up on Saturday and he was dirty and tired and happy and lugging a ton of dirty, muddy clothes which I now have to wash. But it was a beautiful day.


The rest of the weekend involved me working like a dog to get things organized in order to get some of the renovations finished. I moved furniture and moved the bed to the back bedroom (they are connected and we are using them both as our bedroom – one for sleeping and one for clothes and dressing. And moving the very heavy dressers and bed that have been in the same spots for many year? Was gross. But I found a lot of stuff that I thought I had lost, so there’s that.

I lose everything. That’s right – I’m a loser. In fact, right now, I can’t find my camera battery charger. I used it before vacation and I thought I took it with me, but it’s now missing. I searched the hotel before we left and don’t think anything was left in the room, so it must be here somewhere. I go through this with every charger I have, extension cords, my extra contacts, medicine, sunglasses, the phone, books, clothes, shoes, and things I just bought the day before. But this charger thing is really pissing me off, because I need to take photos at all times.

So I’m going to look for the charger and in the meantime, help a girl out, will ya? Help me find something to write about.

The good and the bad

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I was out of the office from Wednesday until yesterday and it was great. Except for the yesterday part. Man, the first day back after a long break is killer. I relaxed for exactly. . . oh. . . 13 minutes the entire time, but it was still a nice break. Of course, there’s good and bad in everything:

Wednesday:

The good – I took the boy for his nephrology checkup and sonogram (for those who don’t know, he has a multicystic kidney, which was diagnosed in utero). Everything looks good – The “good” kidney is larger and working well (strangely, it is a duplex kidney), and the cystic one is a bit smaller (it had gotten bigger last time, so I was a little nervous).

The bad – OMG, the CHP parking situation!!

The good – Having time enough in between to hit the gift shop fore some caffeine.

The bad – Seeing what I think may have been an old friend in the gift shop and not being sure. And not speaking to her (though in my defense, she looked right at me and didn’t speak either, so it may not have been her) (and in her defense – if it was her, I have gained 6000 pounds since I last saw her and she may have been thinking, “that looks like Gina, only big and fat”) (and if that’s the case, well, then she wasn’t looking too hot herself so fuck it)

The good: The boy realizing that I have been right for all these years about the blood test not being painful, and only seeming that way because he was bitching and stressing out and whining about it.

The bad: Listening to the boy bitch and stress and whine and about the blood test for hours days weeks beforehand.

The good: Finally telling hi to suck it up and reminding him of the thousands of shots his diabetic cousin and friend get. It shut him up.

The bad: Waiting forever for the nephrologist (why does spell check reject “nephrologist”, but think that “nephrologists” and “nephrologists’” is OK? Are they only allowed to exist in groups?)

The good: He’s the best so he’s worth it. Also – he backed me up on the no excessive caffeine rule. HAHAHA Take, that Mountain Dew!

The good: Meeting a bunch of in-laws for a nice dinner and drinks

The bad: Blowing my diet

Thursday:

The good: The office closing at 1:00, and only having to use 1 hr of PTO to get off in time to meet the in-laws for some fun.
The bad: Being scheduled to work from home, which meant I had twice as long of a drive to meet them

The good: Getting the whole gang – minus one – into the Science Center for free on my membership

The bad: Missing the Titanic exhibit because they are charging eleventy-five hundred dollars extra to get in

The good: Having a great day with the kids and some of the in-laws, including my favorite sister-in-law. Plus – not having the whole damned tribe there meant we could actually move at a reasonable pace

The bad: The place was so fucking crowded

The good: My new boyfriend, Art – the elderly scientist

The good: Having a few more meet us for a nice dinner

The bad: Blowing my diet. . .again

And I almost forgot –
The bad: The kids forcing us to go through the submarine of claustrophobia and smells

The good: Hanging with my nephew-in-law-in-law and actually learning shit

The bad: Getting separated from the group since the kids only wanted to go through it and not actually seeing anything. Plus they can jump through those little hatches more easily

The good: Not actually getting my fat ass stuck in the hatches, despite my Winnie the Pooh predictions

The bad: Getting stuck behind a big fat guy who got stuck in a hatch

The good: Big fat guy stuck in a hatch

Friday:

The good: Not having any picnics, parties or obligations (the past two days of in-law extravaganza made up for missing the party today).

The bad: Still having a million things to do, like cleaning, shopping for groceries, stuff for the scouting trip and grandma’s birthday gift, and preparing food for the next day.

The good: Hello – shopping!

The bad: Hello – shopping with a four-year old!

Saturday:

The good: Sleeping in until. . .oh wait

The bad: Getting up early and going to the grocery store since stupid fucking wal-mart didn’t have what I needed to make my food yesterday. The bastards.

The good: Spending the day with family and celebrating grandma’s 89th birthday

The bad: The asshole republicans (note: not all the republicans – just the asshole ones) and racists in attendance.

The good: They left early and I got to make fun of them all day long. Plus I replaced everyone’s cell phone wallpaper with a photo of myself

The bad: I had to drive, so no drinking

The good: My cousin offering to take the boy home, so the girl and I could spend the night. Having drinks and staying up late laughing with my aunts and cousin.

The bad: Having to get up early and drive home to get the boy off to scout camp

Sunday:

The good: The boy having his first Boy Scout camp on his own

The bad: Getting ready for camp

The good: Remembering everything, being on time and taking a nice drive through the mountains to drop him off.

The bad: Having to bite my lip and chew off my own hands to avoid killing that asshole kid that I hate.

The good: Getting the boy settled into his tent and him being lucky enough to get a brand new cot and a “porch.” AND having his tent far away from the asshole kid that I hate.

The bad: Spiders!

The good: Meeting so many nice kids and knowing that my boy has plenty of good role models to counteract the asshole kid that I hate. Seeing him thrive in this element of camaraderie and the outdoors and respect and footballs and one big fat lab. Knowing that even though he drives me crazy sometimes, he’s turning out alright.

Some pics:

Bike riding at the school:

She loves tearing down these covered hallways. I guess it must a little like riding inside – off limits, and therefore fun:

Making a wish:

She wished that I would Stop. Taking. Photos!!!!

The Earthquake Diner at the Science Center:

Art – my new scientist boyfriend:

Incoming!!



“A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent” OK, I’ll give him Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Kind and Brave. And a big old sometimes on the Courteous, Obedient and Cheerful. The Clean can be iffy. And Thrifty? HAHAHAHAHA! Now, Reverent – I don’t know about. Does the worshipping of all things Playstation count?

Grandma (“Baba”) and her great-grandchildren. There’s another on the way (banish that thought – it’s not me):

Rain + Camping = Mess

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Dear Mother Nature,
I’m all set with the rain, thanks.
Love, Gina

So very sick of rain. The boy had a campout this weekend and I am studiously avoiding the pile of dirty, muddy, wet clothes he brought home with him. The campout was in conjunction with a civil war reenactment & encampment. The kids spent weeks building replica guns, since they were getting a chance to be a part of the reenactment battle. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, as the Confederate Army did not show up. Damned dirty rebs.


Note in the photo above the very authentic Kool-Aid mustache, circa 1863

Dork

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I had thought this weekend was going to be nice and relaxing, but I was so very wrong. The boy’s chorus was singing the national anthem at the baseball game and the school, in their usual fashion of last minute bullshittery, sent home a paper on Thursday saying that the kids must wear khaki pants or shorts and red shirts (the school provided the shorts). This apparently, was the ballpark’s rule and not the school’s. And I understand wanting them to match. But what I don’t understand is why they decided to send the damned thing home on such short notice. They sent home the info on the concert and the order form for the tickets over a month ago, so I’m not sure why they didn’t include this information then.

Oh – and also? In the snippily worded memo, it stated that “students WILL wear khaki pants or shorts – NO DEMIN!!”

Yes folks, I am entrusting my son’s education to people who a) can’t spell a five-letter word, and b) clearly have never heard of spell-check. Ladies and Gentlemen – your tax dollars at work.

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I got up Saturday and was preparing to go out shopping and then go clean the car. But at the last minute, I remembered that it was collection/packing day for Scouting for Food. I jumped in the car with the boy’s uniform, picked him up from Rapunzel’s house and rushed to the church where we were doing the packing. There, I spent the next 3 and a half hours picking up, sorting, packing, boxing, carrying and loading approximately 352 billion cans of food. Which: Yay for fighting hunger! And also: Boo for my back!

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After the packing, I ran home to get the girl and we went out to run our errands. We ended up getting the boy’s shorts (and getting some for Hedge’s son – Hedge – being another victim of the bullshittery – was busy and couldn’t get out shopping), plus some odds and ends. We went to a sports outlet store and got some Pirates shirts for a couple bucks each. A lot of the stuff is from previous years, but for the prices, who cares. And since the Pirates suck balls, it’s hard to spend a ton of money. Mine shirt was actually an All-Star game shirt and not a Pirates shirt, but it did the trick for a buck.

The reason I didn’t get a regular Pirates shirt was that the only ones they had for women were those pansy-ass pink ones, which I HATE. I don’t mind pink in general – I have pink shirts and pink shoes and pink candles. But I hate the pink sports jerseys. I hate them and all the other stupid “girl-centric” pink bullshit sports merchandise that they keep trying to get me to like. Because NO. I will not like it. I will continue to hate it. The day the Pirates/Steelers/Penguins start wearing pink is the day I will buy a pink jersey – not a moment before. I hate the idea that in order to appeal to women, you need to make everything all pink and girly. I don’t know about the other cities, but here in the ‘Burgh, we women love our sports – we love the black and gold. We paint our faces and wear our jerseys and drink our beer and get just as rowdy as the men. We will buy the same shirts as the men. Please don’t insult us by thinking that you need to make it pink. I mean, just pass me a wine cooler, hang some tampons from my ears and shoot me, why don’t you?

So, uh…down with the pink sports gear!

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Also on Saturday:
Cleaning out the car – SUCKED
Washing the car – SUCKED
Eating a chocolate covered frozen banana for lunch and having it fit into my weight watchers plan – AWESOME! And a little porn-y.

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Sunday was the game and mr b and the girl stayed home, since she was sick. Mr b didn’t mind, though, since the Pens game was on. It was nice for me, too, because Hedge came with me and we had a nice day together, which we rarely ever get. We drank beer and ate and laughed and acted like jackasses. I used up my entire days; points, plus all my weekly points, too. And I didn’t even care, because I wanted beer and wings and pizza and ice cream. Well, actually I got frozen yogurt, because I always make wise food choices. Hahahahahahaha! I’m just hoping that since I did stay within my weekly points that I haven’t screwed myself this week. Because that would suck. But those wings were good.

I was truly more interested in the Pens game than the Pirates, but I drew the line at being the jagoff who wears a different sport’s jersey to the game. I was, however, the douchebag who sits through the baseball game with one earbud in, listening to the Pens game and shouting, “Yay!” when Jordan Staal’s goal came at an inappropriate time in PNC Park. But I don’t care, because Pens rocked!! (and rocked it again last night – woooo!)

Oh and also – Jagr? Shut the fuck up.

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Lastly, because I am a huge dork – the biggest dork that ever dork – a dork to the nth power (Who uses the phrase “nth power”? I’ll tell you who – a dork), and also to get maximum Embarrass Your Kid points, I took the Pirates up on their “get your text on the scoreboard” invitation (I was going to make it something about us being dirty whores, but I figured they’d censor it. Bastards):

Also – Dorks:

The chorus:

How NOT to Get the Job

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Hedge sent me an email yesterday telling me that she was sitting at her desk, looking at a man who was waiting for an interview with her company. Sitting beside him was his wife. On her lap was their dog. Who does that?? What on earth would have made this guy think that bringing his wife and dog on an interview would be a good thing.

You know, I can almost forgive the dog. Because although bringing your dog on the interview is clearly a sign of batshittery, there’s always the possibility of you actually being able to function in the job. But bringing your wife? This says to me that you may or may not be batshit crazy, but your wife is most definitely batshit crazy and the only thing worse than a batshit crazy employee is an employee with a batshit crazy wife. And a wife who feels it’s appropriate to accompany her husband right into the office on a job interview, dog in tow, is the poster child for the Batshit Crazy Wives Association of America.

I can tell you from experience (not that I have or have been a batshit crazy wife, but I have witnessed it), that a batshit crazy wife will result in the employee getting 238 calls a day, 197 of which will be dire emergencies like “I can’t find the coffee filters” or “How do you work the DVD player?” The other 41 will just be plain old batshit crazy conversation. Also – batshit crazy wives will result in the employee being late or absent often, because of emergencies such as the one I mentioned, as well as rampant hypochondria, paranoia, and the inability to function as an adult.

Needless to say, this man will not be getting the job. So, just in case you were on your way out the door for an interview and your wife or husband or dog thinks it’s a good idea to come along – it’s not.

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In other news, the boy has his crossover ceremony from cub scouts to boy scouts on Saturday and I know that I am going to cry and look like a blubbering fool in all the photos. I had a hard time deciding to let him join scouts because their policy on gays makes me want to vomit. But he really wanted to join, plus the fact that he’s not a huge athlete and the fact that there’s not a whole lot of options in a small town made me rethink it. The biggest deciding factor was a conversation I had with an openly gay woman who was a scout leader, who encouraged me to let him join.

I decided that the benefits of joining scouts were many, in that he would be learning outdoor skills, leadership and citizenship. I figured that I could teach him about acceptance and you never know – maybe someday he would be involved in helping to make a change in an offensive and ridiculous policy. In the meantime, he’s participated on activities that have honored and helped veterans, the mentally challenged, the hungry, the elderly and the environment. And that is always a good thing. In a few years, he’ll have to do his Eagle Scout project and since his won personal “cause” has always seemed to be homelessness and hunger, maybe he’ll have a chance to make a real impact. So while I still feel a little like a hypocrite for participating in an organization that has some views that I can’t get behind, I am also very proud of my son for sticking with it for five years and achieving what he has.

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And in super good happy news, Weenie came down this weekend and we worked like working dogs who work for 34,926 hours (OK, we actually drank lots of rum for some of thse hours, but still), and I am happy to announce that my kids finally have rooms. There are still a few odds and ends to be tied up, but thank Jeebus, we finally, finally, can all get a little space. It feel as good as you would expect it to feel when three people, a dog and a cat and crawl out of each your ass.
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