Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, To Be Like A Child!


I recognized the sound right off; it was one of those cries that meant pain.

Curly ran to me, sobbing, and grabbed my leg in a hug.

I knelt down to embrace her and, rubbing her back, asked, "What happened, love?"

When she was finally able to control her breathing enough to speak, she simply said, "Hubba hurted me."

"Hurt you where?" I asked, but she didn't answer.

I pointed to the typical hurt places while asking repeatedly, "Does it hurt here?"

Finally, Curly stopped me and said, "Not on my outside. He hurted me in my heart."

The worst, most painful kind of hurt. Hurt feelings, broken hearts, mental anguish. Hurt brought on by words and actions.

Hubba slowly approached from the other room, looking at Curly and I with apprehension. He went to his little sister, and while wrapping his arms around her, said, "I'm sorry, Curly. I didn't mean to hurt your fee-o-lings."

And then she brought a happy ache to my own heart as she wiped her tears away and uttered these words as she hugged him back, "It's okay. I already forgived-ed you, Hubba."

Already. Before he had even told her he was sorry, Curly had forgiven him.

I recognized that I was being taught something.

Earlier this morning Coolister and I were arguing. I felt that he was being disrespectful and I, in frustration, was yelling at him. I finally ordered him to his room as a way to end the disagreement. All morning I fretted and stewed over the exchange, wondering where I had gone wrong in my parenting and why he couldn't just listen and try to see things my way. When the time came for Coolister to leave for church (he helps with the services at a rest home near our house an hour before our own meetings begin) he acted as if nothing had happened. "I'm leaving, Mom!" he called as he walked out the door. And then added, "I love you!"

It was all just water under the bridge for him. Coolister had moved past the mornings' argument. He had already forgiven me.

I am not proud to admit that I am the kind of person who tends to hold a grudge. If I am offended or have my feelings hurt by someone, I am not so quick to forgive. Instead I let the feeling fester and grow inside of me until it fills a part of me with frustration, anger and hatred. This does nothing to anyone but myself - I am the only one who is harmed by the monster inside as I continue to feed it with resentment and loathing.

I want to be more forgiving and loving. I want to be more like my kids.

And so it goes. I, as a mother, think I am teaching my children all about life. Yet, in reality, they are the ones teaching me what life is really all about.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

That's The Spirit!

My oldest boy, Coolister. Don't mess with him.


Sometime between the beginning of the school year and the beginning of this week my oldest boy decided to run for an office in student government next year.

He is running for Spirit Chairman and, to be honest, I think he is perfect for it. No one has more school spirit than Coolister. In fact, because his high school did not have enough Spirit Days to appease him, he has created his own and convinced his friends to do them as well. They have:

Mohawk Monday. (Get out the hair gel!)

Todd Smith Tuesday. (This is one of their favorite teachers so they dress like Mr. Smith. Apparently this was started last year by a group of graduating seniors.)

Weird Shoe Wednesday. (They wear mismatched shoes.)

Trek Thursday. (Use your backpacking pack instead of your regular school bag.)

Tie Day Friday, or TieFri. (They wear neckties over their regular school attire.)

See what I'm saying? Who creates their own Spirit Days at school? Coolister does, that's who.

He came home on Monday, told Allen and I what his ideas were for creating campaign posters and the three of us got to work armed with a camera, photoshop, posterboard and markers.

We had more fun than should probably be allowed.



I love the way his mind works. Do you see why I love this kid?!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just Write


I have so many things I would love to write about... but I can't.

I fret over hurting someone's feelings.

I worry that I'd get hate-comments.

Have you ever gone through this? Wanted to write about something you had passionate opinions on but just kept it to yourself instead?

Come read about my dilemma at 4P today.

Write Or Right?

photo from utexas.edu

I have a confession to make.

I keep all sorts of things to myself because I don't like confrontation. Honestly, if I were the type of person who enjoyed a good "discussion" (a.k.a. argument) I would have plenty of things to write about when it's my turn to post each Wednesday. However, because I live in a world where I want everyone to be happy and nice to each other, I am almost constantly at a loss as to what to say here on 4P.

Part of my problem is that my emotions run much too close to the surface. I cry when I am passionate about something. I laugh when I am frustrated. I write with zealous words when I am feeling defensive or have strong opinions. My emotions tend to over-emphasize my thoughts. I suppose you could say that I have plenty of ideas of what to write but I worry about whether I can express myself well enough to make my thoughts appear on paper the way they do in my head.

Instead, the controversial opinions (a.k.a. confrontational opinions) I have on many topics are kept safely tucked in my brain-arsenal so that I can conduct little debates with myself when I hear anyone else bring up or see anyone write about something that I disagree with.

Politicians.

Healthcare reform.

Olympics.

Gun-control.

Country music.

Clothing and hairstyles.

Religion.

Social Security.

Family roles.

Twilight.

The good part about keeping these things to myself and only having personal mental debates is that I always come out on top...

The bad part is that I have difficulty coming up with anything substantial to write about.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cowgirl Loves Pancakes


It is my sweet Cowgirl's 9th birthday today. NINE years! Where does the time go? I can still remember what an angel she was as a baby. She rarely cried, even as a newborn. She would wake up in the morning and just lay there in her crib, waiting for someone to come get her for breakfast. She has grown into such a beautiful girl and her heart is as tender as they come.

Cowgirl has been reminding me for an entire month that she has never had a birthday party (no SuperMom status here) and that I needed to get some invitations ready pretty soon or it would be too late. Yesterday when I picked her up from school the first thing she asked about were those blasted invitations.

I had none.

But little does she know that today after school I have arranged for she and 4 friends to dine on pizza and ice cream and then to go see a movie that she has been dying to see.

Redemption.

And then, to make it even better, I arranged for IHOP to give away a free short stack of pancakes to every person who comes in from 7 am to 10 pm today. How cool is that?! SuperMom status, achieved!

(Okay, actually, I lied. They were already doing that at IHOP. But let's not tell Cowgirl, okay?)


Happy birthday, Cowgirl. We love you to the moon and back again infinity times.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Youth Dances: Then and Now

(photo from primarytimes.net)

Allen and I were asked to help chaperone a youth dance for our church last Saturday.

Can you say: awesome?

First off, I will admit that it has been nearly 2 decades since I have attended one of these functions as a youth. Since that time, the dances have seen their share of changes. These are my observations...

THEN: Popular radio DJs were hired to play the latest dance music and a small fee of $2-$3 was charged to cover the bill.

NOW: A local church member was hired to play the latest 'jump' music (more on that later) and admission is always free.

THEN: Chairs lined the walls of the gym and girls sat in groups, waiting (hoping) to be asked to dance to every song - slow OR fast. Occasionally there would be a group of brave girls who would dance together during the fast songs or a crazy girl (me) who would tear up the dance floor all alone if 'Dancing With Myself' was played.

NOW: No chairs. The teenagers are all either dancing or standing around in groups on the dance floor. If dancing to fast music, for the most part boys are dancing with boys and girls are dancing with girls. If dancing to slow music, boys are dancing with girls - but sometimes girls are goofily dancing with girls, too. When approached and asked whattheheck? I was told, "Boys are stupid." (Translation: WE LOVE BOYS!! But they didn't ask us to dance so we're doing this to get some attention. Kind of like that crazy girl who danced by herself when I was a kid.)

THEN: Everyone used the same dance moves for fast songs: either Rowing The Boat or the even more popular Step, Touch, Head-Bob. Occasionally we were graced with The Sprinkler or a breakdancing dance-off.

NOW: There is one dance. It is called jumping. If you are a more advanced dancer, it will include a bit of arm-flailing or fist-pumping. At one point, however, a wide circle was formed and there was something similar to the dance-offs from back in my day.



I would like to add that I loved being at a dance where my teenage kids were. It was such a blast to observe them from the sidelines and just fall in love with them all over again. They have some great friends and they all know how to have fun.

I would say that my proudest moment of the night was when Thriller was played and Coolister led the group in the Thriller Dance that he and his friends concocted and practiced until they had it down. My friend ~j. was there chaperoning as well and I think I told her no less than 10 times how much I loved watching my oldest boy do that Thriller dance. (Thanks for letting me gush, ~j.)

Another happy moment was when I finally found ElemenoB (it seems as if I was searching all night!) and wowed her group of friends with my amazing dance moves. She had asked me earlier that night to 'please not come dance near me' but because I am fluent in teenager language I knew this meant 'please come and dance near me so my friends can see what awesome moves you've got' and I did not want to disappoint.

My conclusion? I am totally available to chaperone these dances whenever needed.

Or even if not needed.

Until then, I'll be practicing the Jump-Dance and teaching my kids The Sprinkler. You know, bridging the gap and all of that.





Want to read more about it? Go see what ~j. had to say.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nobody Wins

photo from heroworkshop.com


Haddas.

I didn't remember her name until a few days ago when something triggered the memory of a day in the 6th grade that had long been pushed into the farthest recesses of my mind. I went to my old yearbooks and found her there, frozen in time. As the details simmered about in my mind and certain specifics began to rise to the surface, I could vividly recall how each of my senses played a role. I could feel the fear, the uneasy rhythm of my breathing. I could almost even hear the squeak of my blue Kangaroo sneakers on the wet pavement.

I'm not sure who put her up to it. All I remember was that some of the so-called "popular" girls had decided to instigate a fight after school. Someone told Haddas that I had been making fun of her accent or her clothing or some such lie and convinced her that a sound beating in the ball fields after school was the only way to resolve it.

A small group of girls found me in my quiet corner during lunch, my own hidden place behind the Resource Center where I would sit and read by myself. I will never forget the words I heard which caused me to jerk my head up and wonder why these girls would come to find me.

"You better look out after school, Helicopter Head," they taunted me, using the cruel nickname they had gifted me on the first day of school because of the braided ponytails I had been so proud of. I will never forget the exact words which were spoken just then... "Haddas is going to wail on you for bagging on her." Stupid, silly sixth-grade words that have remained etched in my memory. They snickered as they turned and left me there, paralyzed.

I had never been in a fight before. I had often heard the whispers among kids throughout the day of a fight that would take place or the chanting of "fight, fight, fight..." on the playground as one erupted during recess but I had never imagined myself in such a predicament. I lived to be invisible. I kept to myself whenever possible. How had this happened?

By the time the school bell signaled the end of the day, I had formulated a plan. Rather than walking my usual route home through the baseball fields I was going to take a longer route, one which kept me in neighborhoods with plenty of homes, where traffic was busy. I stayed in my classroom as long as possible and then made my way towards the front of the school.

To my dismay, it had started to rain. People would not be out in their yards today.

Still, avoiding the fields seemed to be the best plan. I held on to the hope that the drizzle from the heavens had deterred the crowd from waiting for me to show up as I made my way through the neighborhoods, silently praying that all would be well.

I was rounding the corner just a half block from the middle school campus when I first heard the footsteps from behind me. They were deliberate, coming faster, and I knew almost immediately that I had been followed in my attempted escape.

My tormentors corralled me back around the block, into the waiting crowd. A wide circle was formed around Haddas and myself and I noticed something in her eyes that was familiar... fear. "I don't want to fight you," I told her. Everyone laughed as if I had just made a joke. For a moment I thought that she might agree with me, call the whole thing off and let me leave. But instead, she stepped forward and pushed me to the wet grass.

I started to silently cry, knowing I could not escape my fate. "Get up!" the crowd yelled at me, but I continued to sit as I tried to gain some composure. I was already an outcast in the eyes of those gathered here, I could not bear the thought of being known as a crybaby as well.

"Get up!" the crowd chanted as I looked to Haddas. Her eyes still reflected fear. I decided then that my best option at this point was to run. I grabbed my backpack and quickly turned just as someone shoved her toward me. We both fell, face forward. The crowd cheered, but I jumped to my feet and ran.

My legs carried me past the fields, through the chain link fence that surrounded the school and almost to a safe haven behind a cinder block wall before they gave out on me. I collapsed to the ground beside a parked car as great, heaving sobs escaped me. Why were they doing this? What pleasure was there in forcing two frightened social outcasts to come to blows with each other? I did not understand and was not sure I wanted to. I only knew that it was terribly wrong for anyone to have to endure the anguish and torment brought on by bullies.

When my sobs had ceased, I wiped the tears from my face and stood to make my way home.

I dreaded going to school the next day. I fretted and worried all night about what would happen when I returned to this place I was quickly learning to loathe. I debated faking sick but knew that would only buy me a day, maybe two. I determined that the best thing to do would be to follow my normal routine and do my best to remain invisible.

I tentatively walked towards my middle school that morning, alone as usual, and frightened. I remember how I had dressed myself in neutral colors that day, hoping to blend in with the walls and be unnoticed. At first, I thought it was working. But eventually I realized that the fact of the matter was that no one cared. The excitement was over, the whole thing was forgotten; it was almost as if it had never happened.

But I didn't forget. I will never forget.

I remember how those same girls mocked me years earlier when I had been so excited to wear my brand new, homemade clothes to school and again when I wore my shiny black church shoes because my tennis shoes no longer fit.

I remember every time they threw my lunch onto the roof of the school and laughed as they dared me to tattletale to a teacher about it.

I remember being reluctantly chosen last for every kickball game played during P.E., being banished from four-square and jump rope and a turn on the swings at recess.

I remember being followed and mocked as I walked home from school and every pebble thrown at my backpack.

I remember changing the way I dressed, the route I walked to school, even my posture - all in an attempt to make myself less noticeable to these kids who sought out targets for their cruel words.

I remember how excruciating it was to endure such intimidation and loneliness.

I may have forced the memories of this part of my childhood into places which are far-reaching, but I haven't forgotten.

I remember every name of every bully, every malicious word spoken and cruel action targeted towards me.

I like to think that I am a more kind-hearted, sensitive and loving person because of all I was made to endure. I am doing my best to raise kids who have the self-confidence to avoid being prey for bullies but also the courage to look out for and befriend those who are not so fortunate.

As I come to the part where I attempt to draw a conclusion with this post, I'm not sure what to say or what point I'm trying to make. However, it has been good to work through the memories and release them from the place I've kept them locked up for so long.

In my adult life I am saddened to see that bullying continues. Sometimes it is in the form of power over another, sometimes it is evident in the cliques which, despite my advancing age, still exist and exclude others, but most often I see bullying in the words people choose to use as weapons against another. Words are not as innocent as people may think. They are powerful.

In one final attempt at closure, I would like to add something for all of my childhood bullies who will never read this and never care...

I don't know what you may have endured or why you gained such pleasure from the anguish you put me through. I hope you look back on your childhood with regret towards your actions - but regardless of any of that... I can honestly say that I forgive you.

But I will never, ever forget.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

photo from volunteerspot.com


Who were your best friends as a child? The ones who went everywhere with you?

Are you still friends with them today?

I'm writing about mine at 4 Perspectives and I'd love to have you join me.



Thanks, friends.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Vote For Me!

I love getting new family pictures every year. Our family is constantly growing and changing and it's wonderful to have that documented in photographs. Look at the difference that one year can make...

I also love photography - the way a certain print can capture a memory or invoke an emotion.

Like some of these. (click each word to take a peek!)

Our good friend, Jason, has a talent for both family portraits and photography. Not only does he capture the essence of our family in pictures every year, he also takes some photographs (more pictures at that link! Click away!) that are absolutely breathtaking.

Wouldn't you like to own one of his photograpic masterpieces? I know I would! Here's what we have to do...

Jason is having a contest on his blog and the winner will get a free photo. I won't lie to you - I was one of the winners the last time he did this. But hey, I'm competitive. And I want to win again! I really, really want to win. REALLY.

Will you help me? All you have to do is click on this link and leave a comment saying, 'Gerb sent me'. If you could do that, you would make me eversohappy. Pretty, pretty please? In fact, go ahead and do it now. I'll wait right here for you.

(*waiting*)

Are you back? Awesome.

Thanks for helping a girl out.

Now, if you want a shot at it, you can go solicit your own votes!

There are 2 winners, after all.

I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be one of them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yoda One For Me

Yesterday I realized that today was the day for passing out valentines at school... and I had forgotten to buy any.

I rushed to the dollar store in hopes of finding a stray box of cool valentines somewhere but, as expected, all that remained was Power Rangers and Hannah Montana. (*sigh*)

I couldn't bring those home.

Instead I stopped by the craft store and purchased a pack of cardstock so that we could create our own valentines.

First I made All-a-Boy's. He likes Legos and Star Wars so here is what I came up with:


Next was Princess. She wanted Princesses for the girls and Star Wars for the boys. We found some generic printable valentines online to fit both of these criteria and printed them off for her.

Cowgirl came last. However, she insisted upon making her own valentines without any help from the computer... or from me. She disappeared into her room for awhile and then proudly brought out her creations for me to enjoy. It was hard to pick, but here are my favorites...

Pixie stix, pixie dust... pretty clever!


I told her she was not allowed to give this one to anyone until she's at least 25. It's in the back of her pajama drawer until then.


Again... this one was banned from her classroom. Besides, until this person learns to lay off of those tanning lotions, no proposals of marriage are gonna happen.


The high-maintenance stuff comes through at an early age.


This one is obviously for a boy.


Then, seeing how we've obviously got a Star Wars obsession going on at our house, here are the cards for the Jedi in her life...

SO clever!


Again, well thought out and very appropriate.


(translation: 'Leia' on me while we kiss!)
Um... WOW.

She was trying to think of something valentine-y that went with "Leia" and this is what she came up with. She was adequately embarrassed when I explained to her how it could be misconstrued, so she changed the words to: 'Princess Leia wants to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day.'

MUCH better.



I just hope that her classmates will appreciate them as much as I did.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Don't Forget Your Parasol


Everyone loves an umbrella.



Wasn't that sentence just filled with intrigue and mystery? Don't you want to read more?

Awesome. Just click >> here. <<

(Please).

Happy Umbrella Day!


I know, I know, you've all been waiting months for today's holiday. What do you mean, what holiday? It's Umbrella Day of course!

Okay, in all honesty, I had no idea about this holiday until I noticed it on my calendar which lists all sorts of obscure, little-known celebrations. But Umbrella Day? Now that's a holiday I can get excited about.

First of all, you can send Umbrella Day ecards to all of your friends. (see? It's for REAL!)

Today would also be the perfect day to watch Mary Poppins or Indiana Jones.

I know that I'm going to be pulling my umbrella out of my closet (the one I bought just a few months ago because it was going for a price I couldn't refuse and because I fell in love with the pure cheeriness of it!) and carrying it with me wherever I go.

If you don't have an umbrella then I think that today is the perfect day to buy one. I'm thinking that this one is at the top of my wish list because, unbeknownst to most people, I am secretly a ninja (Let's keep that just between you and me, shall we?) and I'm all about multi-tasking.

Imagine the look on the faces of your family if you were to serve drinks at dinner festooned with little paper umbrellas!

And it's always a good idea to take one of your kids (or any random child from your neighborhood would do) and have a photo shoot with an umbrella.

Is she really flying?

You decide.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate (YOU WILL BE CELEBRATING) (that was me using The Force... did it work?) I hope that you have a wonderful Umbrella Day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pure Hubba


I love this picture on so many levels.

It shows so much of what Hubba is all about.

First of all, this blanket tied between the posts of 2 beds doubles as a boat and a hanging-sleeping-thing depending on what sort of adventure he has in mind. Here it is obviously a hanging-sleeping-thing. I love this kid's imagination and creativity.

Second, check out the book he has his vice grip on. I am the sort of mom who can't help but giggle over potty humor and love that his current favorite book is all about the adventures of a farting dog. I tried to pry it out of his hands and he sort of moaned in his sleep and held on to it even tighter.

Last of all, he's wearing his favorite pajamas, the "Dark Vader" ones. The Star Wars pajamas that he'll wear for a month straight if I don't hide them long enough to wash them. I love hearing him creep into a room and start with his Darth Vader breathing which sounds like he is saying, "Who? Her. Who? Her."

Little boys are awesome.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Favorites

always #1 on my favorites list... my crazy family

My friend Natalie issued a challenge last week to write a post listing 100 of my favorite things. I have not been able to get past the writing of this list to post anything else for some reason. Maybe it's because I don't like to leave things unfinished & my list was something I took some time at, thinking through each item before I would add it. Maybe it's because I have a bit of OCD in me and I was bothered by the fact that I could not come up with a logical way to put my list in order.

As I read over my list I realized that it is not only comprised of things that I am thankful for, but also things that I love.

So, in all its randomness, (no specific order was decided upon so I just left it as is) here are the first 100 favorite things that came to mind. These are the things which never fail to bring me happiness.

1. my family (Allen & our awesome kids)
2. my amazing in-laws
3. friends who are like family
4. extended family
5. the promise of rain
6. rain
7. the smell of the earth after rain
8. clouds
9. birds
10. the ability to create
11. cooking for fun
12. sewing for fun
13. Giving someone a gift that I know is exactly what they wanted - especially when they didn't realize it was exactly what they wanted until they opened it.
14. MUSIC
15. everything about the mountains
16. The ocean, specifically Redondo & Hermosa beaches in Southern California.
17. accomplishing something I didn't think I could do
18. brownie bites
19. newborn babies
20. my Primary class
21. my religion
22. camping, except for the part where I have to pack beforehand
23. prime rib
24. Fuddruckers burgers
25. knee-high, non-white socks
26. bakery-fresh donuts
27. my Kitchenaid
28. naturally curly hair
29. photographs that capture memories
30. poetry
31. my accordion
32. the power in words
33. Converse All-Stars
34. Levis
35. the beauty of sign
36. having a marketable skill which would allow me to work immediately if needed
37. parents & siblings
38. rollerskates
39. mini muffin pans
40. sharpies
41. the smell of a new book
42. my years with fireflies (or, as we used to call them, lightning bugs)
43. happy memories of my childhood in Iowa
44. happy times in California
45. calling Utah home now
46. pretending to dance
47. singing!
48. the internet
49. modern medicine
50. my washer and dryer
51. forgiveness
52. Saturdays
53. a star-filled sky
54. kindness
55. love
56. my iPod
57. can't-put-it-down novels
58. writing
59. eating from a vegetable garden in the summer
60. notebooks
61. old, weathered buildings which hold a lifetime of stories
62. learning something new
63. seeing the best parts of Allen and I reflected in our children
64. Coolister's self-confidence
65. Elemeno B's desire to try new things
66. Thumbelina's creativity
67. All-a-Boy's vocabulary
68. Cowgirl's opera voice
69. Princess' unexplainable, precious way of speaking
70. Hubba's precocious ways
71. Curly's crayons & made-up songs
72. Little O's curly locks & happy nature
73. Allen's ability to do everything he sets his mind to
74. the public library
75. good surprises
76. the little pancakes that form when a drop of batter drips onto the pan
77. unexpected packages
78. autumn's colors, holidays and weather
79. the first day of a winter snow
80. the way the world reawakens in spring
81. summer vacations
82. letters in the mail
83. living the teenage dream
84. freshly made, non-spicy guacamole
85. picture books
86. water
87. our new fence
88. good health
89. compliments
90. laughter
91. eating food I didn't have to make
92. those cream puffs you can buy in the frozen dessert section
93. finding the exact thing I need for a steal of a deal
94. finding something I don't need, but want, for a steal of a deal
95. good news
96. spending time with my friends of the older generation & basking in their knowledge and experience
97. spending time with the younger generation & remembering those days
98. eyes as a window to the soul
99. happy expressions
100. homemade granola

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Legacy

I will never forget my first good friend, Robin Irene. I met up with her at recess every day so that we could share stories. I never tired of the tales she would tell. I was especially mesmerized by the stories of her life as a princess and her friend, Morgan... who was a unicorn.

As I grew older Laura Ingalls became my closest friend and we endured all sorts of trials together; braids, buck teeth, bullies and moving to a place that was new and unfamiliar. It was wonderful to have someone who understood.

The list of book-friends I have made over the years is endless, but this is where my love for books and the friends I have made within their pages began.

However, this also presented a problem throughout my life. The books themselves had become precious possessions and I could not part with them. When we would move from place to place, my collection of books always came with me and it continued to grow throughout my teenage years.

By the time I was ready to set off on my own, I had nearly 7 good sized cardboard boxes filled with these old friends and I had to leave them behind for lack of room. I placed them in a corner of my parent's storage room along with a few other things and promised to come back for them soon.

When I returned home that summer, my friends were gone. Some sold at a yard sale, the rest donated to a thrift store along with the other items I had left behind. And so I began again, making new friends as I had the time and keeping them in a small bookshelf fashioned from crates.

When I married and started having children I could not wait to share these friends with my family. I slowly began to acquire the books I had loved as a child and loved seeing my kids enjoy them as I had. Again, this presented a problem. After nine kids and eighteen years of collecting, where could we keep so many books?

My husband, who has an amazing talent for woodworking, determined that we needed a library. (You see why I love this man?) He set about turning our front room into a thing of beauty for lounging in and reading to our hearts' content. The room is finished, except for one thing... the bookshelves.



The shelves will be built and line the walls of our library room before too long, but for the time being we have our books, boxed and waiting, in here:


A few years back Allen made the older kids some nice cabinets in which to store the things they wanted to keep out of the reach of their littler brothers and sisters. What do they keep in them?


Books.

Books also adorn their dressers, our kitchen counters, a few shelves in the hall closet and even our tables.


Some may call us crazy, but I agree with these words from Henry Ward Beecher:

"Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Silly Old Bear

photo from msu.edu

Yesterday my kids were watching a movie as I made lunch. This is typical. What is NOT typical, however, is that one of the songs in the movie made me cry.

Did I mention that it was a cartoon?

Did I mention that it was Winnie the Pooh?

I know. SO embarrassing.

As luck would have it, Hubba came into the kitchen just then to see if his sandwich was ready.

"Are you so sad, Mom?" he asked me, concerned.

"Oh, no. I am fine. There is just... something in my eye."

"What is the somefing in your eye?"

"Um.... my eyeball."

"And your eyeball is making you be sad?"

"Uh... yes."

"Okay," he said, proud to have discovered the cause of my tears. "Can I have my sam-wich?"



Want to know what was really causing the problem? Come see how I do my best to explain it at Four Perspectives.

The Power Of Music

My littlest kids were watching Pooh's Grand Adventure yesterday.

I have actually never had the pleasure of sitting down and watching this particular movie with them or of hearing any of the soundtrack for that matter. I'm not sure how I've gotten away with this for so long, but yesterday it finally caught up with me and as I stood in the kitchen fixing lunch, I heard the lyrics to this song.

(Link to "Forever and Ever" from Pooh's Grand Adventure)

I'm not going to lie to you. It totally made me cry. Not a sobbing, audible sort of cry, but tears were present nonetheless.

I tried to reason with myself.

Gerb, seriously, Winnie the Pooh?

I know! You're preaching to the choir here. It's humiliating.


What exactly is it about a cartoony song that could possibly make you cry?

So I thought about it. And here's the thing... music gets to me. Sometimes it's the lyrics, sometimes it's the melody or the way someone knows how to make a guitar sing to my soul. It can be the beautiful combination of certain notes which strikes a chord somewhere inside of me when I hear them. It is almost as if music opens up a sixth sense somewhere - an untapped reservoir of memories and emotions which only responds to a beautiful blending of words or specific cadence of sound.

I suppose you could say that if feelings were audible, they would sound like music. Music is a sort of foreign language with varying dialects which are only understood by those who have been immersed in them and lived among them.

I don't know... my words seem convoluted and insufficient.

I guess that what I'm trying to express here is that music has an unexplainable power over the part of my mind which determines how I will react to things.

Including songs sung by a silly old bear.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guest Post: Maleficent


A young boy would not stop badgering me with his requests that I make an appearance at his place of primary learning. He had read the book The Kingdom Keepers which reveals my role in the dark side of the Magic Kingdom once the park closes at night. His request was that I bring some of my darkest magic and present it to the underlings in his classroom.

I finally consented to appear. However, I do not have the time to trifle with the admiration of peasants so I brought some novice magic in all confidence that it would impress them sufficiently.

I was not mistaken... and they were not disappointed.

First I used my magical powers to slice an unpeeled yellow fruit before their eyes.


They were awestruck by my abilities.

Next I had one of the little minions think up any name he could muster and the lot of them could not believe their shifty little eyes when they realized that I had already written that name on a piece of parchment in a sealed envelope.

I had initially planned to depart at this point, but the young boy who had invited me begged for more. I do love to see children groveling at my feet, so I consented to perform a bit of black magic. I exited the room as the boy and his classmates chose an object and when I returned the child would point to various items, asking if they were the chosen entity.


As anyone would expect, I chose correctly every time.

I had planned to make my departure with a flourish, disappearing in a cloud of amethyst smoke, but I instead opted for exiting through their learning portal as I had seen others do.

I had obviously already astounded them sufficiently and did not want to over-stimulate their tiny brains.

I am confident in the fact that they were all exceedingly impressed by my mere presence.

As well they should be.