The Always-Inspiring Mowogo Lodge Annual Banquet

The proud mom with my son at the banquet, January 14, 2023

Last evening, my family and I attended the always-inspiring annual banquet of the Mowogo Lodge in Clayton, Georgia. The Lodge is the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow Honor Society. My son has been a member of Mowogo Lodge and its most southern chapter – Lau-in-nih – in the Council for the past several years, being a leader in his chapter during one year. My son is an eagle scout with several palms, and absolutely loves scouting, as well as the fellowship, community, camaraderie, and service opportunities that scouting provides. Since he has been a member of the Mowogo Lodge, we have not missed an annual banquet, except for the one that was canceled due to COVID in 2020.

Keynote Speaker, Emma

I always enjoy attending the annual banquets held by Mowogo Lodge. It is great to see and catch up with friends, make new friends, partake in a delicious meal, celebrate and recognize the Lodge and outstanding members, and hear inspiring and motivating speeches. My family sat at a table with another family, of whom two members were recognized with awards for outstanding service. While dining at this table, we got to know them a bit, as well as the advisor of their chapter, who also sat with us. We ate delicious breaded baked chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce, crab cakes, and prime rib, along with yummy veggies and desserts.

Current Lodge Leadership for 2023

We also heard words of encouragement and motivation from a young lady named Emma, the Keynote Speaker, who is serving as Section 9 Order of the Arrow Secretary – a huge and impressive job for a high school student. Emma spoke to the Lodge, encouraging everyone to be a catalyst to spark energy for continued positive growth and development in the organization. It was also my pleasure to speak with Emma more personally, and we discovered that we had each been former members of Girl Scouts. I am happy that Emma can shine in Boy Scouts, an organization that appears to more closely fulfill her goals. Lodge Advisor, Rusty, reminded everyone what OA is all about, particularly doing cheerful service for others as well as recognizing “those who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law…” (https://oa-bsa.org/about/mission-purpose).

Current Lodge and/or Chapter Leadership for 2023

I do not generally make many posts about scouting and my son’s involvement in it, in order to respect his own privacy and intentions, however I wanted to take moment and share. My son, overall, has had an excellent experience in scouting. He gives back to scouting by serving as a troop assistant scoutmaster in Loganville. He is also a Camp Rainey Mountain staff alum and a Northeast Georgia Council scholarship recipient. Scouting has helped to develop my son’s character in wonderful ways, and now, he serves as a role model and guide for others in scouting. I appreciate the opportunities that scouting has offered my son throughout his life, and I am thankful that he can remain in scouting and participate in meaningful ways through his council, lodge, chapter, and troop!

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Making Sacrifices

We have all experienced it. We have all had to deal with it. Making sacrifices is a big part of life, of anyone’s life. For some, it may be a bigger part than for others, or it may have more meaning than for others.

While I went for a walk today, I was philosophizing about life, and what came to mind first and foremost was about making sacrifices. I looked back through memories and experiences throughout my life, and recognized a pattern of sacrifice in my life. Sacrifice has been a huge part of my life, and I have actually experienced many patterns of sacrifice, some that have involved many years of sacrifice.

I guess, from as early as I can remember, looking back, some of the first sacrifices I had to make and was forced to make were for and by my mom. I love my mom, and God rest her soul, she passed nearly five years ago already, though all throughout my childhood, I made sacrifices of my “self” for her feelings, wants, and needs. I often felt like I was just “there,” and not allowed to ever truly “be myself.”

Of course, there are many very personal reasons for this that I will not describe here, however my entire childhood was a sacrifice of my own feelings, needs, and wants to my mother. That is how my brother and I lived, growing up in our home. That was “normal” in our household, however dysfunctional it was. I never really realized how dysfunctional it really was to me, personally, until I was well into my adult years. I later recognized it the most since I ultimately married and was divorced from a spouse who has a personality similar to my mom.

In growing up, I dysfunctionally-learned that I was supposed to and expected to sacrifice my feelings and needs to others. This was expected in my home. My parents’ needs came first, especially mom’s. My brother and I were seen and not heard. We had no voice – ever, for anything, no matter what happened – no voice. I think this is much of the reason that I use my voice today, since I was never allowed to have or use my voice as a child or youth. I had to be perfect, and I could never be perfect enough. I could never do enough for others. I could never be “good” enough. No matter how much or how hard I tried, it was never enough.

By the time I was about 25, I realized that I was so tired, exhausted, and drained that I could not continue “doing” for everyone else except myself. I finally started saying “no” to people for things they wanted. It was liberating! I had always been over-extended before, and never had time or energy left for myself after doing so much for others. On one occasion of saying “no” to a friend for something she wanted, she turned to another friend in my presence and asked her for the same thing. It was at that moment that I realized it was just fine to say “no” to people – because they will find someone else to ask. The world will not end just because I said “no” to someone!

I am skipping some periods of time, post-marriage and post-divorce, to being a single parent for more than the past 15 years. I will say it again as I’ve stated before, it is so important to marry someone that you are truly compatible with and with whom there is true mutual love. At my age, it is not pleasant to have to look back and realize that you have not truly ever experienced that in a long-term relationship. It is extremely painful, disheartening, and discouraging to realize that.

That said, I had to make decisions about particular challenges and sacrifices for the benefit of my son when I became a single parent. One of those decisions when my son became a bit older was for him to be schooled through online, virtual school at home. The home that he and I lived in was with my parents after my divorce. Therefore, I made the choice and the sacrifice that I would do my best to “be there” for my son and be responsible for him while at home. That meant being at home as much as possible for him, and again, there are other highly personal reasons for that due to my mom and her behavior.

And so now, looking back and looking upon the sacrifices I have made, whether I have wanted to or not, and whether I was forced to or it was voluntary, I wonder what and how many other sacrifices I will have to make in my life. I am currently in the midst of making a choice of sacrifice in order to repay my student loan. It is a big sacrifice and one that I do not necessarily want to make, but one that I need to make, while I still can, so my son is not someday saddled with my debt. It is something that needs to be done, and I know of no other “best” way to do so other than the way that I have selected. I am doing my best to put it in God’s hands.

And speaking of God, of course I remember the sacrifices He made for us. I know of the sacrifice of pain, suffering, and death that He took for me so that I may have eternal life. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Thankfully, I do not need to and will not have to sacrifice my life for anything. And, I have processed and “recovered” through prior feelings of Catholic guilt that I had in the past for not necessarily doing what the Church may have “expected” of me; I have learned that it is better to accept, forgive, love, and “be” myself than to feel “guilt” for what and who I am not.

At any rate, I still wonder how much more I will have to sacrifice in my life. I have also shared before that I am not a “lucky” person. I am generally someone who always has to pay for something in some way or another. I generally always have to give more than what is needed or expected. I often have to “give” more than what I receive in return, and even then, things often don’t turn out as planned or expected.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful and grateful for all of the good and wonderful things that I have experienced in my life. However, I wonder when it will be my turn to have a good relationship with a compatible and loving partner; I wonder when I will have some “luck;” I wonder how many more sacrifices I will still have to make in my life. And, I wonder if I will have any hope left after all that if I have sacrificed so much that there is nothing left. Maybe I shouldn’t ask because I may not want to know. Thankfully, there’s still a long way to go and only time will tell.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Winter Holiday Evergreen Tree in Sweden – These are the types of Christmases I remember, growing up in Western New York’s Snow Belt (Retrieved December 22, 2022 from https://sweden.se/culture/celebrations/christmas)

It is already that time of the year – the most wonderful time of the year! While I like summer and all of the sunshine here in Georgia, the holiday season and Christmas are really my favorite time of year. Christmas brings to mind many happy memories, occasions, events, gatherings, reunions, gifts, and experiences. I am a person who enjoys experiences most of all, and those experiences that include memories of beloved family and friends are the best of all for me.

I remember Christmases of old, growing up in Western New York State in the Snow Belt, filled with family, food, shopping, gifts, skiing, snowmobiling, and, of course, attending church services, giving thanks to God for His love and all He has provided. I remember music, songs, laughter, and youth that has flown by so fast that even my own son is now a young man.

In my own childhood, I also recall so many Christmas seasons when my dad would string the colorful Christmas lights on the bushes and decorate the front yard with Santa, his sleigh, and reindeer that he handcrafted and handpainted. One year, he won a monetary award for having the best Christmas decorations in our community.

I remember bundling up as if we lived in the Arctic; making snowmen, women, and children; fashioning snow angels; eating icicles; decorating Mom’s yummy Christmas cookies while sneaking spoonfuls of frosting; and getting frostbite on my hand one bitterly cold evening that I went snowmobiling. I remember the hot onion soup with mozzarella that my mom used to make to warm my brother and I after returning home from skiing. Wow, those were the days, and of course, while they were not all great, I choose to hold onto those happy memories of old times.

Times are different now, and while still good, the holidays and Christmas are “smaller” and more compact for me now. My family, consisting of my son and I, already held our Christmas this year so that we could incorporate other plans on the actual day of Christmas. It was our first Christmas with ‘only’ each other, reflecting the changes in both of our lives, while keeping in mind that our love for each other will always be strong, holding us closely and dearly.

I wish you all a happy holiday season, regardless of the faith you may or may not hold, or the holiday that you may or may not celebrate. I would like to remind everyone to cherish the memories and good times with family and friends, and always hold those wonderful, yet fleeting “experiences” in your hearts. I like to believe that God generally places good people in our lives to help us and support us, and I hope and pray the same for you. Merry Christmas!

Cleaning House and Tribute to Mom and Dad

My son and parents in 2004 near Atlanta, Georgia

For the past month, I have been doing a lot of cleaning – particularly in the basement and garage of my home. I was bitten by the “cleaning bug,” and decided it was about time to take action and do something. I cleaned sooo much “stuff” out of my house! No one should really be allowed to accumulate that much stuff! Adding my own and my son’s “stuff” to my parents “stuff” literally caused there to be several tons of stuff that I cleaned out, moved out, recycled, donated, and/or junked. The dumpster company, the movers, Uhaul, and the shredding company all made some money off of me this month. I actually tried to hire an estate company to sell out portions of my house, but it didn’t work out. So, I had to pay to get the stuff moved out rather than make some money off of it. That’s just the way it is for me. It seems like I always have to pay; I’m just not a “lucky” person.

I have lived in this home for the past 15 years since my marriage ended, and I moved my things into this house at that time, with many of those things going into storage in boxes and plastic storage bins in the basement. In the past month, I have gone through everything in this house; many things I have not seen for 15 years since putting them away. Opening up those boxes and bins was like opening up time capsules. I went right back to when my son was a little boy – only 4 years old when we moved to this house. It was wonderful to go through his “little boy” things – clothes, toys, pictures, cards, drawings, and crafts. And then, for some other things that I unearthed by going back in time, it was not nearly wonderful at all. I went through all kinds of documents that I really did not want to ever see again – and I had the shredding company handle those. So, I experienced some smiles and laughter as well as some tears by going through all of that “stuff.”

On looking through photo albums of when my son was a baby and young boy, I found one picture that I took of my son with my parents. My son was one year old at the time, and both of my parents have since passed. The photo is of my son riding one of those mechanical cars at a local mall, flanked by my parents. It is a great picture because my son loved riding those mechanical machines and my parents loved being right there with him.

With my son currently being a college student, I am pretty much an empty-nester, except when he comes home from college. It, therefore, gets pretty quiet around here, and while I know I always have myself and try to keep a positive attitude, sometimes it’s tough to take, especially around the holidays. People who are alone really need more healthy communication and interaction with others.

So, seeing that picture of my one year old son with my parents brought back so many fond memories for me, and caused me to remember and be grateful for all that my parents have done for me and my son. I would not be where I am today if it was not for my parents, and I always remember that and am thankful for all they have done. The holidays are supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, but I can’t help but feel some sadness and nostalgia about missing my parents who did so much for me.

…And, I’ve also learned something in this whole process of cleaning out my house, as well – do not buy, keep, and/or accumulate so much “stuff” ever again!

I Love You, Dad: Bruce Babcock, 1943-2021

Bruce Babcock in August 2020 in Lilburn, Georgia

Bruce Everett Babcock, of Snellville, Georgia, and formerly of Gowanda and Collins, New York, died at his home in Snellville on February 19, 2021 due to natural causes. Babcock was born in Collins, New York on August 13, 1943 to Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock (Sprague) and Charles Albert Babcock. Babcock graduated from Gowanda High School and was married to Anna Krakowiak Babcock for nearly 55 years until her death in 2018. As an employee of the State of New York for 37 years, Babcock worked in different roles. He began as a mental health aide, and later worked as a fireman and stationary engineer at the Power House of the Gowanda Psychiatric Center. After the Center transitioned to a prison, he was employed as maintenance supervisor for the Gowanda and Collins Correctional Facilities until his retirement.

Chuck and Bruce Babcock, July 4, 1987 Parade, Gowanda, New York

Babcock enjoyed hobbies such as owning, restoring, and showing classic Ford Thunderbirds for many years. He was a member of the Buffalo Thunderbird Club for several decades, taking his black T-Bird to an international car show and being awarded third place. In Snellville, Babcock was a member of the Georgia Cool Cruisers car club, showing his restored Ford Ranger. Babcock was also skilled in carpentry, electricity, painting, welding, plumbing, and stained glass. He apprenticed and worked with Robert Peglowski and Sons of Collins, New York in carpentry for many years as a young man.

Babcock was a wonderful and generous family man who lived for his family, always doing more than what was necessary to help and support them in whatever ways possible. He was the rock of the family. He and Anna moved to Georgia in 2006 to live near their only grandchild, John Robert “Bobby” Nice, III. Babcock loved the outdoors, warm weather, Gaelic music, and NASCAR racing. He additionally enjoyed swimming, boating, landscaping, and Boy Scouts. Babcock loved animals, raising and showing guinea pigs and rabbits in his childhood, and spoiling his Yorkie poodle in later life. He was a merit badge counselor and supporter of Snellville Boy Scout Troop 548. He further enjoyed supporting Bobby in Boy Scouts for conservation and eagle scout projects, as well as Roman Catholic religious accomplishments. Babcock was the godfather and confirmation sponsor for Bobby’s Catholic sacraments.

Babcock is a former parishioner of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Gowanda, and most recently, of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Lilburn, Georgia. Raised a Quaker, he converted to Catholicism at marriage. Babcock was predeceased by his parents and had no siblings. He is survived by his daughter, Michele Babcock-Nice, of Snellville, Georgia and son, Charles “Chuck” Babcock of Gowanda, New York, as well as his grandson, Bobby, of Snellville, all of whom love him deeply and miss him dearly.

A memorial service was held for Babcock at St. John Neumann Church, and a burial service was held at Holy Cross Cemetery in Gowanda, New York, with arrangements by Wentland Funeral Home of North Collins, New York.

Florida in July!

I’ve been very busy with life 🙂 for the past couple of years, and haven’t made very many posts lately. However, I’d like to make this post about a trip my son and I took to Florida this summer.

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My son at Florida Sea Base, Islamorada, July 1, 2020

It was great to get away to Florida for a few days! Of course, it was very nerve-wracking to go in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, but we did it.

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View of Miami from Biscayne National Park, July 8, 2020

My son spent many days at Sea Base in the Florida Keys with his Order of the Arrow honor society through Boy Scouts of America.

It was an experience that we planned on prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and we were still deciding whether or not to go even in the days prior to the trip.

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Key West lighthouse, July 2, 2020

Ultimately, we decided to go and be as safe as possible while wearing our masks, neck gaiters, and cotton gloves as much as possible.

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Royal Poinciana tree with beautiful orange flowers, Key Largo, Florida, July 6, 2020

In my hotels in South Florida and Key West, I also used Lysol to wipe down all of the high-touch areas, including on each occasion after housekeeping came through to clean and tidy up.

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Lizard at Florida Sea Base, July 2, 2020

I’m so thankful and relieved that we could go, have a good time, AND stay safe and healthy, avoiding COVID-19!

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Butterfly at the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, July 2, 2020

I must say that I’ve never been to Florida in the incredible heat of July, so this was a first!

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Rhinoceros lizard at The Alligator Farm, Homestead, Florida, June 2020

It was so incredibly hot in South Florida, especially with the Saharan dust blanketing the atmosphere, warming it up like an oven. I knew it would be hot, and it was definitely sizzling!

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Parrot at Theater of the Sea wildlife facility in Islamorada, July 6, 2020

Unfortunately, the beaches were closed from Thursday through Monday for Independence Day weekend due to the Florida governor trying to limit the coronavirus spread, so that put a damper on beach plans.

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Palm tree with coconuts growing, Bayfront Park, Homestead, Florida, July 8, 2020

However, it was necessary. Coronavirus infections continue to rise and break records in Florida. I eventually got to the beach and got my fill of the sun – within one hour! That was plenty for me. 🙂

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Crab at Biscayne National Park, Homestead, Florida, July 8, 2020

In all, it surely was so nice to get away for awhile!

Visiting Ruby Falls in Chattanooga

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Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN, November 26, 2019

I can’t believe that almost one year has passed since I’ve made my last post on WordPress!

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A ceiling view inside Ruby Falls Cave, November 26, 2019

My family and I have been extremely busy this year, and the time has really flown by at an incredible speed – much faster than usual, I’d say.

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Formations that resemble tobacco leaves. Ruby Falls Cave, November 26, 2019

It has been a great year, however, and my son and I took a couple of days to enjoy the sites in Chattanooga during Thanksgiving vacation.

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Another ceiling view inside Ruby Falls Cave. Notice that some of the formations have been broken off in the past. Tourists were told that people did that in the 1930s during the Great Depression to sell them for money. November 26, 2019

Posted here are some pictures I took while inside the Ruby Falls Cave on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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A formation resembling a leaning tower. Ruby Falls Cave. November 26, 2019

I had never been there before, so I was pleasantly surprised and awed by its beauty.

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Formation that looks like an elephant’s foot inside Ruby Falls Cave. November 26, 2019

I’ve toured a few caves in the past, but this is one of the best I’ve seen!

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A famous formation in Ruby Falls Cave that people are allowed to touch. November 26, 2019

Please enjoy the pictures, although they don’t do it justice.

Making Frosted Christmas Sugar Cookies

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Some of my Frosted Christmas Sugar Cookies, December 27, 2018

I’m at it again – baking for most of the day today! It’s the holiday season, and I really would like my family and friends to enjoy some of my goodies.

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Some more Christmas Cookies, December 27, 2018

Today, I baked two batches of sugar cookies – from my great grandmother’s recipe. They are absolutely delicious, and even better when they’re frosted!

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Cookies cooling after taking them out of the oven, December 27, 2018

Only two of the larger gingerbread man-style cut-outs broke in half, so I did really well keeping everything whole. And, I definitely worked up a sweat more than once today, but the end product is all worth it!

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A tray of cookies after being baked, December 27, 2018

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Baking for Christmas!

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Christmas chocolate cake, December 2018

In the past week, I’ve done some baking for Christmas! Usually, my mom does the baking around the holidays, but with her death in March, I’ve done a bit. We all miss Mom and her lovely peanut brittle, fruit cake, and other goodies. She really should’ve opened her own bakery because she was so talented at baking.

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Chocolate-nut fudge, December 2018

This year, I tried my hand at the chocolate-nut fudge, and it turned out great! It was the first time I ever made fudge. I followed the recipe to the ‘t,’ and was very pleased with the results. My son really loves the chocolate fudge, and I’m happy he can enjoy some at these Christmas holidays.

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Merry Christmas cake, December 2018

I also baked two chocolate cakes, and decorated them with a Christmas theme. I baked one cake for my family and another for our elderly neighbors. Both cakes have a Christmas tree on them.  One cake even has a shooting star at the top – see if you can spot it! Hopefully, I can bake some cookies next…Merry Christmas!