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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Honoring Those Who Served 70 Years Ago

Sometimes being a good citizen is listening to other good citizens.  Over the last three days, we have had that very opportunity.

We have heard the stories of Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans from World War II.  What a wonderful example of living history.  Our first day, we were at Pearl Harbor and met with six survivors and we felt so blessed to hear their stories.  The next day we headed out for a small museum that was written up in an old tour guide book.  We thought we were heading to a place to learn how to make leis and other Hawaiian crafts.  When we arrived at the exact address the museum had closed several years ago, but to our surprise we found Pearl Harbor survivors sitting out in a lounge area to a hotel talking with passers-by.  We were so excited to have these men to sit and chat with as if we were in our living room!  Then tonight we watched the same men as they drove by on parade floats!  The boys were so happy to hear these men call out to them as if we were old friends!  This was like no other parade we had ever been to in our lives.  The people were cheering...the parade participants were coming right up to us...everyone felt like they were a part of the event.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the 90yo veteran who danced down the street to begin the parade...he must have been thinking about his heyday back in the 1940's!

Here are a few of the stories, I was able to jot down when I returned to the hotel:

Pat Duncan was only 18yo when he boarded the USS Raleigh as a bugler.  He is convinced that they were the first ship hit as he watched the USS Utah (historically known as the first ship hit) attacked after he was asked to sound the alarm.  Unfortunately, his bugle had been filled with water as his ship was tipped up on its end.  They were first hit by a torpedo and then later hit by a bomb.  After Pearl Harbor, he remained in the military as a quarter master.

John Tate was on the USS St. Louis.  He was originally from California.  He was sitting with Harold Mayo who was at the Marine base, Kanoehe, as an A&E mechanic.  He said the Japanese were hitting the planes before they even realized what was happening.  He was from a little town of Gloveland.  They described it as big city met small town USA...but both of these men were faced with the same tragedy and had to cope with the reality of war.  Neither of them had come back to Pearl Harbor, visiting for the first time in 70 years.

Ray Garland was also in the Marine Corps serving on the USS Tennessee.  He was a quiet man who did not like to tell his story.  He told us that he saw the planes coming into the bay but there was not enough time to act before they were hit.  He could not believe how many planes came into the bay to attack. 

Jim Doyle was an aerial photographer on the USS Lexington at the time of the attack.  He continued to take photographs until one day he went out on a mission and woke up in an Australian hospital with a hot rag on his brain.  The swelling was so bad that the doctors could not operate.  He was relieved of duty at this time.  You could tell by the way he spoke of this that he had not wanted to give up the fight for his country.  He was a very strong man even at 90yo.  He was remembering those days as if they were yesterday. 

Frank Mack was at Hickman field during the attack.

Stan Swartz was at Wheeler Army Airfield.

Andrews was a young man of 18yo from Pennsylvania when he came to the islands as a mule driver.  Less than a year later, he found himself moving about 2000 animals around the island.  Then all of a sudden, he went from mule driver to body recovery detail.  He said the first day the bodies were covered with sheets, however, the second day he was told to recover bodies from the bay.  He is now 89yo and hoped that he would die soon because all of his loved ones had passed on.  We told him that he must still be alive to tell the story.  I think he appreciated that because he walked away a little prouder.

We also spoke to three other men who were in a historical book.  They were autographing books and we have their stories written.  If you would like to hear more, send me a note and I would be glad to share.

We are so pleased that we were a part of this day in history.  They say these men are in the sunset of their lives.  Even a sunset has a story to tell in the colorful beauty that exists in the sky.  These men had their own colorful stories to tell.  Not only the story of Pearl Harbor, but how they continued in the military and then adjusted back to civilian life after the war.  It also helps us to prepare for the next day to come as it soothes us into a calming rest.  The stories they were able to tell, not just of that day 70 years ago but the stories of hope after this attack, help us in our own lives.  It will be a day we will never forget.  May we all remember what war brings to the world and that the answer is peace.  Just as the cranes presented by these Japanese women symbolize. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Moment You Have Been Waiting For

Well...maybe not...but I thought you would like to know our trip has led us to the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  We have been planning this trip for a couple of years.  Once the plans began to form this summer, we realized we were going to be here for the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  There are many veterans here roaming the streets with us.  We feel quite privileged to be a part of this amazing time in history. 
We arrived yesterday and headed straight to the beach.  The boys could have spent hours there.  We also walked through an International Market place full of an assortment of items to buy.  We have little gifts for our favorite 4H members.  Then we went to a hula dancing demonstration.  A great way to spend our first day on the island.

Today, we woke up early so we could catch a bus to a famous scenic lookout.  It was a hike up to the top of Diamondhead Crater.  We started at 200 feet and ended close to 800 feet.  We were exhausted by the time we got to the top but were able to take some great pictures!    This was once a strategic lookout for the military because you can see for miles in all directions.  The pictures we took do not begin to show the beauty of the area. 

Then we were off to the Waikiki Aquarium.  We had to maneuver the bus system and take quite a walk to get there but the animals we saw in the aquarium were worth the trip as well.  The ocean has such a vast array of animals and such colors!  We were amazed by all that was explained in this little aquarium display. 

And, I must tell you that on our journey around the island we will be enjoying great foods influenced from around the world and given a Hawaiian twist. Before we came to Hawaii, I found a great website that showed where the locals eat.  No fast food or chain restaurants for us!  Yesterday, we ate at a Chinese restaurant called "Fatty's Chinese Kitchen." The food was so good!  Today, we walked to a surfer spot (Southside Surf) that served wonderful fish and coleslaw like nothing we have ever had before.  I would love to have this recipe!  We have also found a nice bakery with yummy treats and sandwiches made fresh every day right beside our hotel!  The boys are getting a good education in foods for our food project. 

Tomorrow we hope to take more pictures as we drive around the outskirts of the island and go inward to the Dole Pineapple Plantation.  We will continue to take lots of pictures hoping to find that great shot!  Lots of possibilities along the way.

I had to post this last picture.  Henry took this because the jelly fish reminded us of our 4H friends.  If only the lighting were green!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Along for the Ride

We started out over a week ago on a road trip for the Thanksgiving holiday.  This is actually an add on to our 'real' vacation, but it has become quite a journey.  We are seeing family and friends who we do not get to visit very often.  In fact, I have one friend that I met that I had not seen in 25 years!  It has been a fun and crazy journey.  We stop as we go, without much of a plan, all so we can get to our main destination (yet to be revealed to my readers).

One of my plans for this little road trip was to bring back plant specimens that could be on the State Wildlife contest.  For the most part, I have been asking to pull over on the side of the road to gather grasses and taking pictures of trees along the way.  However, I have also been fortunate to have several stops at national parks where the plants have been nicely labeled so I know the plants I am gathering are correct.  I try to take the specimens already gathered to compare to these labeled plants. 

Here are a few of the plants I have gathered along with a few pictures, along with location:

American Beautyberry
Catclaw Sensative briar
Four-winged Saltbush (Wupatki Nat. Monument, AZ)

Hackberry (Montezuma Castle Nat. Monument, AZ)

Honey Mesquite
Little Bluestem
Live Oak
Plains Bristlegrass
Prickly Pear (outside cave entrance at Carlsbad Caverns, NM)
Rusty Blackhaw
Southern Red Oak

Sumac-little leaf (Carlsbad Caverns, NM)

Western Soapberry (Montezuma Castle Nat. Monument, AZ)

Not a bad start to my specimen list.  I can’t wait to get back to show the group.
Also, our picture taking skills have been used to take great shots of the mountain scenes across three states—Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Still more of this to come as we head off on our ‘real’ vacation in just two days!

train shot by Henry

snow-capped mountains by Michelle

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Could not Resist One More Post

Before we head off for our vacation, I remembered that we had not left anything for the soldier care packages for the December shipment.  We are at my mother's house, so we gathered some supplies.  We created some little packets to mail to a friend so they could get to the center in time for shipment.  We just could not forget our soldiers for Christmas.  It is hard to believe it takes so long to get a package to our soldiers but a lot of mail must be delivered at this time so there are often delays.

All our boys and Gramma got into the act and set up the packets.  We placed Christmas candy and some extra items (e.g. hot sauce, Tabasco sauce, and cider mix) in the packets.  Even little Brendan liked to stuff the bags! 

We made 40 packets and then shipped all the extra for the group to make more.  I also added more candy canes and beef jerky to the box. 

So, a big thank you to all our soldier friends.  Know that you are loved and prayed for daily.  God bless you on Thanksgiving and into the New Year!  Safe return for all!

Testing sensitive briar
Also, we went to the Lady Bird Native Plant Center yesterday.  I was hoping to see a few of the Wildlife plants labelled so I would be sure I knew what they were by sight.  We will be travelling west starting Tuesday, so I will look for these same specimens that I can bring home for the group.

While we were there, Henry could not resist taking a few snap shots of the couple who were getting married soon after the center closed.  It was good practice for photography.

Sean also had an Entomology experience!  He was able to observe a moth cocoon at an observation point along one of the nature paths.  A great experience all around!  I am glad we had the opportunity to go on this adventure as a side trip before the real trip begins.  I can't wait to share what I learned with the group when I return next month.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Goes Around Comes Around

In 4H, these months seem to go around again and again!  LOL

No, not really but monthly meetings do seem to come around often.  Yet, there is always something a little differnt to make it intersting.

Before the meeting began we took a visit back to Grace Care Center.  I had the pictures developed so we could meet today and pass out the photographs taken Monday.  I have never seen so many happy faces!  So many sweet residents who were so thankful to see us.  They were almost as pleased to see their photos.  This is a project I hope comes around often!

We then raced over to the CEO to make it to our meeting.  We had our drawing for our raffle so we collected the stubs at the door.  I helped to verify all the raffle tickets were accounted for before having the drawing.  Along with our drawn raffle winners, we gave a prize to the seller of the winning raffle tickets (Jaron, Caleb and Treyton).  Then a final youth prize was awarded to Caleb for selling the most tickets (187).  Caleb was so kind, he knew Sean had worked hard selling tickets (157) so he gave Sean one of his prizes.  Sean could not have been more pleased with his multi-purpose cutter!  You think he had one the grand prize from the raffle!

We had a special guest speaker tonight!  None other than our favorite soldier, my husband!  He spoke to the group about Afghanistan as well as the Army after a nice introduction from Katy.  He would later show his pictures to those interested after the meeting.

Now we are home preparing for a little trip we have been planning when Michael returned from Afghanistan.  I won't give any details now but be ready when I return.  Even though it is really not 4H related, we are hoping to take lots of pictures so we will fudge and connect it with photography some how.  You never know where a prize winning photograph will appear!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Little Celebration

We got together for Wildlife project today.  However, I decided to surprise the group with ice cream sundaes.  We needed a little celebration instead of studying today.  We can study for the State contest we take a little break through the holidays. So I thought we should enjoy a little down time.

We also invited our favorite museum directors to celebrate with us.  We really appreciate all of the help they have given us over the years.  We could not do it with out their support.

We spent the last few minutes talking about the upcoming events.  Along with the Wildlife team continuing their study efforts for the April contest, we will  begin learning about our new WHEP project that we will compete in for March.  We are looking forward to learning about this similar project.  You will read more about this endeavor in January.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Portraits of the Elderly

Last summer I was given an idea for a photography service opportunity.  Go to a nursing home and take pictures of the residents.  I was so excited about the idea that I wanted to go out to nursing home immediately!  What a blessing for our 4H members to be introduced to the elder members in our community and bless them with a nice picture in return.

Well, this afternoon the opportunity finally came about at the Grace Care Center.  We (a group of 10 members) were able to meet and photograph 52 of the nicest people.  We had one couple who had been married for 13 years (second marriages after first spouse passed away) who were so happy to hold hands and have their picture taken.  We also had a couple who had been married for 60 years.  The husband was so sweet and cared so dearly for his wife, wheeling her into the area and helping her straighten up in her chair before positioning himself.  Then we had an elderly woman who was so pleased when we agreed to take a picture of her with her son who had just come to visit. 

We hope to have the pictures developed so they can be returned in time to give out in Christmas cards.  I will spend the next two days choosing the best shots and cropping out undesirable backgrounds. 

I am so glad for the opportunity our 4H members had to "make the best better" and give their "hands to larger service."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

4h "Fun"draiser

Our club decided back in September to have a raffle to raise funds for the club.  We gave out at least 10 tickets per family and hoped we would have families take more.  We also sold tickets at the Forest Festival and at various other events members had gone to over the last few weeks.  We will be drawing for the winners next week at our monthly meeting. 

I think it is a good raffle....not one of those where you end up winning something you may or may not desire.  We decided to have three winners to be awarded $150, $75, and $50 gift certificates to the store of their choice.  Not a bad prize considering you get to choose where the money is spent.  We also decided to give the 4H members a little motivation to sell tickets this year.  One of our project leaders donated a $25 gift certificate to the 4H member who sells the most tickets (or was it whose names was on the back of the winning ticket?)

So, today was our day to sell as many tickets as possible.  We were heading to a big event at the local ariport and we knew we would have a lot of people to buy tickets.  We grabbed up as many tickets as we could and headed out the door before 8am.  I am so glad we started out early because most of the people came in the first 3 hours.  We were able to sell almost 150 tickets!  Along with all the exhibits at the airport, we had a great day.

The boys were so motivated to sell tickets that they walked around our neighborhood and sold a few more.  What I love about ticket sells at events like this and around the neighborhood is the fact that we are promoting 4H as well.  Almost everyone we sold tickets wanted to hear more about 4H and our club. 

However, our day did not end with raffle tickets.  We came home to find a package!  It was Sean's costume for our Share the Fun skit.  He is playing the part of George Washington.  He looked great as he tried on his suit and wig.  I can't wait to have the entire skit set up to perform.  It should be a lot of fun!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day

One of our favorite parts of 4H is the fact that the organization promotes good citizenship.  What better way to be a good citizen then to honor those who protect our country on Veteran's Day (and every day!).

Each year we try to honor the Veterans in a special way.  We usually go to a celebration of some kind.  In the last few years it has been at the Huntington high school.  They have a nice performance with local talent come out to sing along with slide shows of local veterans, especially those who attend the school.  They also honor each of the veterans with a special welcome as well as a tribute to all the armed forces.  Then they provide a nice lunch.

We heard so many great stories during the program.  We were also impressed with the singing quartet, Driftwood (3 of which are veterans).  Then the guest speaker was Milt Price who was an Air Force tanker pilot during Vietnam and flew airplanes for American Airlines (specifically on that fateful day of 9-11).  He encouraged the young people to look at the military and Civil Air Patrol as an honor to participate in order to protect the country.  He quoted the Strategic Air Command motto, "Peace through Strength."  This was also the motto for our former President Ronald Reagan.  May we never forget that even during peace time we need a strong military to ensure others do not see us as week and decide to attack.

Then we watched a tearjerker of a film about the Marines on Makin Island.  Of course, we also had the Pledge of Allegiance, Star Spangled Banner.  When the 11th hour came, we stopped to have a moment of silence followed by the playing of Taps.  I always get so choked up when I go to these events.  I am so proud of our military!

In the past we have taken the children to the event and had them sign a Veteran's book.  We then remember these veterans each time we look at the book, usually by offering up a prayer in their behalf.  This year we decided to do something different.  The boys went around to talk to the veterans ans asked to take their picture. 

We then created a collage of these pictures to show to you.  I hope you will look at these brave men and women who fought for our country from World War II to present day, and then feel some form of gratitude for what they do for our country.  

Happy Veteran's Day!

May God bless our military and their families!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Lesson in Parliamentary Procdure

Our County Council met today for their monthly meeting.  They were in for a surprise crash course in parliamentary procedure.  The county extension agent did  a good job of incorporating the actual meeting into this educational program.  I was not able to sit in and listen but I did have Henry sneak in and take a few pictures.  Sean looked a little confused in this picture, or at least he looked like he was concentrating on the matter seriously.  The group learned how to run a meeting with correct procedure as well as how to carry a motion from beginning to end. 

An unknown 4Her stands to make a motion.

I had wanted to stay after and talk to the 4Hers in general about the experience.  However, we were in a little bit of a hurry today.  We had to rush to the airport to pick up our favorite soldier at the airport.  After being away three months we were happy to have him home. 

We decided to wear our 4H shirts to promote our club and 4H in general.  We even grabbed Michael's shirt so he could switch into it on arrival.  Then we took our large group out to eat to advertise a little.  We might not ever know who saw the shirts and wondered about 4H from the experience but we had fun in our matching shirts nonetheless.  I just had to post some coming home pictures for everyone to see! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Boy Quilters?

I guess I should have taken the time to have a pre-post blog yesterday.  I will try to catch up my readers on a little project my boys (along with 3 other boys) began last March.  We had heard about a quilt challenge that would take place at our Ste Round Up in June.  We were told to send off for a block of the theme material and then proceed to make a quilt in a pattern of our choice.  Since the boys had been in Clothing & Textile, we decided to participate.  Little did we know that the quilt would end up being an all-boy quilt from start to finish.  Also, none of the mothers had made a quilt before so it truly was a first time quilt for all involved.  Here is the finished product after its completion last May.

Now the boys sent the quilt in to the Round Up Quilt Challenge and found out a nice surprise.  All quilts entered in the contest would be displayed at the International Quilt Show in Houston!  Skip ahead 6 months and here we are today!  If we could incorporate what it means to be in 4H in one was the day!  And what an amazing 4H day it was!

After the two hour road trip this morning at 6am, we arrived at the quilt show.  We were allowed to enter early so we could be ready for the show attendees.  We would spend the next 3 hours promoting 4H.  The boys were a little shy at first but after being asked to have their picture taken with their quilt many times throughout the morning they got into the spirit of 4H.  They each spoke to those who ventured into the 4H displays; they spoke about the quilts and the challenge, and the desire to donate the quilt (as all the quilts would be) to a local women's shelter.  However, they also talked about 4H in general...promoting other projects along with Clothing & Textiles.  All who spoke to the boys were impressed that they had made a quilt.  These are a few of our favorites, especially our own and the one made by our friend, Brianna.

After noon we were able to go explore the quilt show.  We saw so many quilts but not even close to seeing them all.  I will have some pictures of our favorites at the end of the post.  However, as we rambled around the show, we came to our service opportunities of the day.  The first was the Quilts of Valor booth.  Quilters from all over the United States get together and make quilts to give to wounded soldiers.  This booth was set up at the show to ask attendees to donate to the funds to provide material for quilts, as well as sign a quilt square to be pieced together for a quilt.  We were happy to participate and find out more information to see if we can participate locally. 

Then we went around the corner to learn about the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge.  This group is trying to provide beds and bedding for 1 million children in the area.  They also promote the idea for other communities.  They had a pillowcase assembly at the show, so the boys each made a pillow case.  They even learned how to use a serger for the first time.  This is another service opportunity we hope to bring back to our community!

But, our 4H adventure was not over yet!  We turned the next corner to find a very large quilted hamburger, and a quilting workshop set up for children.  Now, I have to admit that even though the boys had made a wonderful quilt, we had much to learn about quilting.  So, the boys and I decided to learn from the pros.  Henry chose to work on his machine quilting techniques.  Sean and Edward chose to make a hand quilted square.  I was able to sit back and gather information, while Brendan took a rest from the backpack.  Henry was able to complete his machine stitched square, however, the other boys will need to finish theirs over the weekend.  I learned a lot as well and hope to work on my own quilt at home.

As the boys worked on their quilt squares, our eyes kept drifting off to the side where a car was placed in the building.  So we knew the next place we were headed was to the quilted car.  Who would have thought to quilt a car cover!?!  However, it was nicely covered with care by several quilts pieced together.  I guess this might keep your car warm and keep you from frost on those cold winter mornings!

This was followed by more quilt viewing.  Just when we were about to leave we happened upon a section of the show for historic quilts.  Unfortunately, we were unable to take pictures of these quilts.  We especially enjoyed seeing the 150 year old quilt that survived a shipwreck in Galveston Bay.  We also liked the quilt shaped like Texas with all the counties pieced individually.  We did not take a picture of it but there were several Texas quilts like it on display. Then there was the diary quilt.  It was a great way to 'weave' family history into a quilt.  We were unable to take a picture of it but the woman who made it spoke to us about the research that went into making the quilt.  It looked like it came right out of the page of a diary and represented many passages from across the generations.  What a great way to represent family history!

As you can see it was an awesome 4H day.  We truly lived out the pledge of 4H: 

I give my head to clearer thinking (learning how to quilt),
my heart to greater loyalty (promoting 4H ),
my hands to larger service (service opportunities),
and my health to better living (learning about historical quilts),
for my club, my community, my country, and my world (International Quilt Show).

Here are a few of our favorites from the day.  I have placed all of our pictures of quilts on my Facebook page if you would like to see more.