Sunday, December 21, 2008
Last Sunday it started to snow. The roads were covered and we weren't sure whether we could get to church or not. We could, but on Monday school started two hours late. Tuesday it was a regular day. Wednesday was another late arrival. By Thursday more snow had arrived and school was cancelled for Thursday and then again on Friday. So, winter break was supposed to start after Friday. We got two extra days.
The girls have taken advantage of the snow -- some days playing for HOURS at a time.
I look out the window and see a beautiful scene. We even had deer in the yard -- which makes for a great piece of artwork.
Fortunately, we've been able to stay toasty warm inside. However, we've ALL been inside for most of everyday. And, I find myself going a little bit crazy.
Lately, I hear people getting so excited about the snow and the Christmas season. I don't actually feel excited -- about either one. I don't know if Christmas for "the mommy" is just so busy that it's hard to enjoy it. Or, maybe I'm feeling a little bit sad that my parents aren't around to even call on Christmas day. Maybe I'm a little stir-crazy and there's been very little alone time. But the truth is, I just don't feel very Christmasy.
It's bothering me. I want to be cheerful and pleasant and "in the spirit."
I'll just keep plugging along and maybe it'll hit me if I keep trying.
Merry Christmas season to you all.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
My sister, Laura, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. My focus lately has been to keep that blog updated so people can stay up-to-date with what's happening with her.
Please see that blog:
I'll be back!
Monday, November 3, 2008
This past Friday was Halloween. They dressed up like bags of jelly beans and went trick-or-treating. On Saturday, they went to a sleepover. Next Sunday, they're going to another sleepover. Next Tuesday they're going to Canada for the day -- without me. The next Friday they have another sleepover and who knows what else is coming?!
Slowly, without noticing it, almost totally unaware, we're beginning to spend a little less time with each other.
And then one day, they'll be heading off to college...
However, they're not gone yet... They're still my little, baby girls. They still kiss me good-bye when I drop them off at school. They still act excited to see me even when they're with their friends.
I suppose the lesson is to remember to cherish each day I have with my little bags of jelly beans.
The days are speeding past me.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Before I left for my trip, I prepared what I call my "substitute lesson plans" for my husband, my daughters and my in-laws. Sometimes the preparation for a trip makes the trip a little less desirable, but in the end, it was all worth it.
My children and husband got to spend time with the grandparents and I got a fun little trip out of the deal.
I actually came back refreshed and somewhat energized.
I needed that.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
My mother did show great love through the foods she prepared. But for our family, meal times weren’t just utilitarian; they were experiences. Mama spent a lot of time making sure all of those experiences, from breakfast to supper, were enjoyable.
Our table wasn’t a host to packages and containers. Food was served in a dish or on a plate. Floral arrangements (her own) were always a part of the table when company came. And, whether there was company or not, the table needed to look good; which included tablecloth or placemats, napkins and all the silverware for everyone. If a drink with ice was served, there was a coaster. If a hot beverage was served, there was a saucer.
There wasn’t much that was casual about Mama’s table, but it wasn’t stifled.
There was all kinds of love served at that table.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
On the 4th of July, Papa and Mama worked together to make DELICIOUS homemade peach ice cream. Mama would sometimes make her famous Lemon B-B-Q chicken or barbeque ribs. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, we all had our favorite “Mama food.” For years it was sweet potato casserole for me. I remember Robert’s request for mincemeat pie or coconut cake. I’m sure Laura and Mary had their favorites, too. Meanwhile, Papa worked tirelessly to make his annual Christmas ambrosia. On New Year’s Day, there was the unwavering tradition of black-eyed peas, rice, stewed tomatoes and Papa’s coleslaw.
Food just naturally makes me think of Mama. When I’m cooking, I want to call her to either ask for a recipe or tell her how good or bad things turned out. Seems like most occasions in our family revolved around food. For our birthdays, we got to choose what we wanted for the meal. Later, when we moved away, Mama would make sure she prepared something we liked when we came home.
One thing that gave me comfort was the way Mama and Papa worked together. If he didn’t help her cook, he helped with setting the table or with clean-up -- especially at times when there was a crowd.
This Thanksgiving we will celebrate without either of our parents. There will be a definite hole: food-wise and in our hearts. I’m sure, though, that table talk will include memories of wonderful meals gone by and I imagine that Mama and Papa will be joining us from where they are.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
In a few weeks, I'm going to go to a writer's retreat on Hood Canal; it should be great.
In preparation for that retreat, one of the presenters has asked us to try various sentence patterns in our everyday writing. So today I'm going to write a blog using those patterns and variations; thus I will get practice. ;-)
Last night I went to Open House at S & H's school; I didn't make it around to every teacher.
The wind is blowing; the leaves are falling; fall is here.
I'm trying to figure out what to have for dinner; but I don't much want to cook.
The economy is awful; banks are closing; people are losing jobs; I'm looking forward to a new president.
Thank you for your indulgence; this activity has been fun.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Maybe it's the glimmer of hope that a little bit of blue sky provides behind the rain.
Maybe it's the quiet of the house all to myself with the sound of rain in the background.
Maybe it’s because all of this quiet reminds me of my parents.
I'm southern to the core in many areas. One of those is the gift my parents gave to me of sitting still. I have fond memories of just BEING on the porch with my parents. Not doing anything -- just being.
I think it's tough to do that and not feel guilty when other people are rushing around from one activity to another.
However, I just made up my mind... As a tribute to my parents, I'm going to sit around sometimes and try not to feel guilty.
If I had a porch, it'd be even better.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
For the children, I decided to have a night called “Pretend you’re in kindergarten again.”
Take a moment and try to remember the things you had in your kindergarten classroom… That’s what I tried to make my family room look like. Books, toys, art supplies – arranged like “centers” around the room. The first thing they saw when they came in the room was a sign that welcomed them to “Pretend you’re in Kindergarten Night.”
They smiled and walked downstairs.
Each of them immediately gravitated to the things they enjoyed as kindergarteners (and maybe, still do). Some played with Lego, some created things with play-dough, some colored (pretending to be as inexperienced as a 5-year-old -- just scribble, scrabble), some carried baby-dolls. Everybody got into the spirit of the night and even settled down after a while to watch "The Arthur Music Video"…
As a parent it was fun to watch, but it also gave me something to think about...
Seems like it’d be good for us all to pretend we’re in kindergarten again – every-once-in-a-while, anyway.
Monday, September 8, 2008
My goal this morning was to clean my house right after I got the girls to school so I could then run errands (like buy more detergent so I could wash more clothes). But, no... I stopped and checked my e-mail, messed around on the computer and generally wasted time.
In fact, I'm STILL not cleaning my house because I'm writing this blog!
I’ve been walking around the house pretending to accomplish something while trying to imagine what lesson there could be in my procrastination (other than "don't procrastinate.")...
I haven't come up with anything (other than "don't procrastinate.")
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Either way, you have to work through a whole bunch of garbage to get the reward.
So, while I’ve written quite a few things that probably deserve a horrible death, somewhere in there is a piece that is waiting to be refined.
All I have to do is, keep at it.
And, who knows?
Years from now my little story may find its way to your bookshelf.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I’ve never been really good at it anyway. I’m too easily distracted.
However, today as I was walking back from going to school with the girls, it hit me that now, more than ever, they are growing up. In this week of figuring out all the new schedules and guidelines and rules, it’s becoming clear to me that they are entering a new environment – and it’s not just middle school. It’s making me realize that I’m beginning to send them out into a world that is beyond my control.
There are busy roads to cross. There are lockers to manage. There’s bigger homework to tackle. There are bullies out there. There are hidden dangers all over the place.
And, so… it occurred to me that I’m going to need some help. Not just to protect my girls, but to calm my spirit.
If you’re a praying person, would you throw in a prayer for this new era in our lives?
It’s bigger than me.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
So far, we've read Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. Our next book was Chasing Vermeer and our most recent book was Hattie Big Sky.
What made yesterday so special was that Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky, joined us for our book group!! She shared stories of how Hattie came to be, methods she used for gathering information about the time period, tricks for naming characters and other fun tid-bits for writers-to-be.... It was definitely a treat!
For those of you who haven't read it already, I suggest you find a copy of Hattie Big Sky and enjoy!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I'm trying to teach my girls that biking can be lots of fun. We've done a couple of trails around town. They enjoyed them -- but one more than the other. I bought them each a flashing light for the back of their bike and a pair of riding gloves to make the ride easier and safer. And, for me, I bought myself a rack, a pannier, riding shorts, gloves and lights so I can carry things and be comfortable and safe. I hope to save gas, build muscle and "save the earth."
It's easy to ride now when the sun is shining. It will probably be more challenging emotionally when the gray skies and rain come in October or November. My goal is to ride no matter what.
There's a lot to learn in the coming days. I'll keep you posted.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Heidi lives with her mother, who is mentally disabled and Bernadette, a neighbor with her own disabilities. That's the only life Heidi has ever known and at the age of 13 her curiosity about her mother takes her on a long bus ride to New York state. The journey is so well-told and it takes hold of the reader. The reader is introduced to various characters along the way...all of whom the reader relates to on some level.
I've really enjoyed reading children's books lately. In fact, I may just concentrate on them.
I recommend that you read So B. It. I'd like to hear what you think.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
That kind of thing doesn't happen very often, but it was so nice to just be with the family without having to do anything.
Moments when everyone is completely content are rare, but that was one of those perfect days...and a very pleasant day it was!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
It's a touching story about a man and his dog, but it goes way beyond a few walks in the park. The dog tells the story of Denny and his family and the dog is very insightful. A fun thing for me, personally, is that the setting is in Seattle. While I don't actually live there, I know a little bit about it and it's fun. I learned some things about Formula One racing, too... and how it applies to real life. Enzo, the dog, sees things that the humans in the story miss and it's interesting to be there with him while he's watching.
Another book that I recommend you read. :-)
I'm not so sure people really understand that I can still be grieving months after my parents died. I think they sort of understand, but I also believe they expect me to return to "normal" fairly soon... when what I really want to do is crawl in a hole.
I'm thankful for all the years I had with my parents and I guess I'm also thankful that I loved them enough to be in lots of pain right now. That's a good thing.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
In the end, the book had me shaking my head in disbelief... on a lot of levels. It also left me with a sense of hope.
Go get it if you haven't read it.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
This time, it's for acceptance into a regional writer's retreat. If I get accepted, I'll get to go to a wonderful resort near Seattle in November and spend time with an accomplished writer/writing teacher and an editor -- not to mention other writers. It'll be a lot of work. The schedule is packed and, from previous experience with retreats and with critique groups, I know I'll be overwhelmed. I'm scared (as usual), but hopeful.
Okay, here goes (in no particular order):
Oral History - Lee Smith
Lamb in His Bosom - Caroline Miller
Cavedweller - Dorothy Allison
Belong to Me - Marisa de los Santos
The Bridges of Madison County - Robert James Waller
Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
Learning to Speak Alzheimer's - Joanne Koenig Coste
Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
When Your Hormones Go Haywire - Pamela Smith, R. D.
Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
Life of the Beloved - Henri Nouwen
A Remarkable Mother - Jimmy Carter
The Toughest Indian in the World - Sherman Alexie
50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth - John, Sophie, & Jessie Javna
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven - Fannie Flagg
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Abraham - Bruce Feiler
Where We Stand - Edited by Anthony Dunbar
Listening is an Act of Love - Edited by Dave Isay
Turn My Mourning into Dancing - Henri Nouwen
Divining Women - Kaye Gibbons
A Soul Survivor - Philip Yancey
Writings from The New Yorker 1927-1976 - E. B. White
Heartbreak Town - Marsha Moyer
Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight - Alexandra Fuller
Party of the Century - Deborah Davis
The 36 Hour Day - Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins
Living the Good Life - Helen and Scott Nearing
The Heart of Chrisitanity - Marcus J. Borg
The Joyful Christian - C. S. Lewis
The Great Divorce - C. S. Lewis
A Grief Observed - C. S. Lewis
Long Time Leaving Dispatches from Up South - Roy Blount, Jr.
Reading Like a Writer - Francine Prose
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
Sacajawea - Anna Lee Waldo
The Last Girls - Lee Smith
Writer Mama - Christina Katz
The Art of Eating - M. F. K. Fisher
1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South - John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed
Searching for Home - M. Craig Barnes
Esther - Charles R. Swindoll
David - Charles R. Swindoll
Fit Over Forty - Sherri McMillan
The Right Words at the Right Time Volume 2 Your Turn - Marlo Thomas and Friends
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul
Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul 2
The Artist's Way - Julia Cameron
On Agate Hill - Lee Smith
You: Staying Young - Michael R. Roizen, M.D., Mehmet C. Oz, M. D.
8 Weeks to Optimum Health - Andrew Weil, M.D.
Which one of the above books should I read next?
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
In the meantime, my friend came over and we planted lots of flowers in my window boxes and in various pots I had from previous years. I felt really proud that I didn't buy new dirt or pots. I just used what I had. And, for another planter, I even painted a wicker basket (with paint I already had) that had been severely weathered over the last year. It feels so good when you make do with what you have.
It's also good to know that when your heart aches, that a little sun, some flowers and a friend or two can make you feel a whole lot better.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Three days later, I spoke at his memorial service. Here's what I said:
It's not easy to sum him up in a few words, but I'll try.
Papa was a man of deep and quiet faith.
Though he didn't talk about it much, his honesty, integrity and relationships with people made his faith obvious to those who knew him. He also loved good church music and when he heard something that moved him, a quiet "amen" could be heard, confirming that for him, God was in the music.
He loved his country.
Through the stories that he told of serving in England during World War II, we knew that he was proud to have been there. And he was thankful that because of that service he was able to get a college education -- the first person in his family to do that.
Papa worked hard for our family.
When I was a little girl, he changed our 2-bedroom house into a 4-bedroom. He'd come home every day after work and spend time working on the house.
He was creative.
When my babies were little, Harvey asked him for advice on building a playhouse for our girls. In a few weeks, we received a package containing Papa's handwritten architectural drawings and detailed instructions for building the playhouse.
There are other stories of Papa's creativity, including Tin Man costumes and African houses and groundhog tunnels that he helped with during our school days.
He was generous to those he knew and he was generous to strangers.
I still have in my head, a picture of the time a bedraggled man stopped by our house and asked for help. Papa didn't hesitate as he brought him to the porch, and he and Mama prepared a big bag of food for him.
He was gentle.
I recall his sweet face as he held each of his grandchildren when they were babies, and the gentle way he played with them as they got older.
Papa was firm.
As you can imagine, with four children there were times when we misbehaved. I knew I needed to change my behavior quickly when I heard his footsteps coming down the hall.
My father was kind.
Those of you who knew my father well, will know what I'm talking about when I say that his face lit up when he was happy to see you.
He loved us through our rebellious stages. He loved our spouses and our children.
Most of all, he loved and respected Mama, and he expected us to do the same.
The truth is, Papa was all of those things and more. I believe the reason that he and Mama were so good together -- was that she was all of those things, too.
I'm thankful for all the lessons they taught me, and I pray that I can pass on some of their goodness to my children.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
She was a great mother. She was tender when she needed to be and tough when that was necessary, too. She required us to do our part, but didn't expect more than was reasonable. She worked hard to make our house run smoothly. She was creative. She was frugal. She had a great smile and a great laugh. She always made you feel like she was genuinely thrilled to see you. She welcomed our friends and made them feel love -- sometimes when they felt it nowhere else. She was warm and friendly to neighbors and I particularly admired how she reached out to the elderly.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
And, in honor of mothers everywhere, I thought I'd give you a link to a very funny video.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
As difficult as it is, I'm going to give it a night's sleep before I decide what other changes I'm going to make.
Wishing the world a blanket of peace and a good night's sleep.