Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Feast of the Visitation

Today is the day that the church remembers Mary's visit to her kinswomen Elizabeth. I've often pondered what those days were like for Mary. First the annunciation, where she is told impossible news, but accepts it willingly, and then the journey to see Elizabeth - a woman who is full of understanding as to what Mary is going through.

I've pondered them enough, that I've fictionalized the events and written them down and posted them at my other site: Ponderances. Aptly enough, one is called The Annunciation, and the other is The Visitation. And yes - they will be followed by The Nativity. Eventually I hope to cover all the mysteries of the rosary.

So, if you have a minute, please, go read and hopefully enjoy.

A Long Time Ago

The air-conditioning of the movie theater felt sharp and fresh against our tank-top clad selves. Our sandals made that peculiar popping sound shoes make as they fight the sticky residue on the floor of the aisle.

We made our way to two seats - down near the front. And settled in, eating Jujubes as we waited for the movie to start.

The lights went down, the previews came and went, and finally, with that music that we've all come to know, the show started - and there was a scroll of words across the screen: "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." and we were transported to the world of Star Wars. We were entranced by Luke, Princess Lea, Han Solo, Darth Vader, R2D2 and C3PO. It was all new to us. It was thirty years ago. We were eleven.

My friend and I went to see that movie five or six times that summer. Her father was the manager of the theater, so we got in for free - the following summer we saw Grease 5 or 6 times.

Star Wars defined that summer. Not only because I spent so much of my summer in the air-conditioned "twin cinema" watching it, but because it was everywhere in popular culture. When we went to see that movie the first time, we didn't know we were in at the beginning of a cultural phenomenon.

When the second movie came out - I saw it in the theater, but only once. By the time the third one came out I didn't see it until I rented the video. Of the newer films, I've seen bits and pieces of them.

But that summer I was eleven, Star Wars was a very big part of my life. And seeing that movie now, always transports me back to those hot days, when the only air-conditioning I got was in the movie theater, and when I would sit up close with my friend and watch a movie that by the end of the summer we pretty much knew by heart.

May the Force by With You.

I've been Tagged Back - New and Improved

The 8 Things About Me Meme has fallen into some creative hands and taken a twist. So the new and improved Meme is the "4 new x 2" and I've been tagged back by HipWriterMama, whom I tagged - hah the wonderful irony of it all.

The rules: You have to share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. New house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to say four things you want to try new in the next four years.

Okay, I'm game, I'll give it a go.

Four Things That were new to me in the Past Four Years.

1. Blogging. 'Nuff said.

2. The new bathroom.

3. Having both children in school for the whole day. (Which will make me more productive during the day, right? Hah! Double Hah! Where does the time go?)

4. Joining a Writer's Critique Group.

Four Things That I hope to Try in the Next Four Years.

1. Getting paid for writing. Writing for free is fun - getting paid would be very nice too though.

2. Ack - in four years my daughter will have entered the teenage years - I hope to simply survive them.

3. Hmmm - I'm stuck on three - I don't have a lot of dreams and aspirations do I? - I mean, I don't want to sky dive or anything, and I could say I want to lose weight, but that sounds like a New Year's Resolution. I could say I want to bring about world peace, but I'm not a Miss America contestant. -- okay, I know: Read a book in a foreign language.

4. Go to Boston. I've never been, and have wanted to for a long time. That seems like a reasonable goal, since I only live a couple hundred miles from there.

Now, I need to tag people.

I'll tag Liz again, because I can.

AussieAnnie at Under Her Starry Mantle.

Amy Caroline at Knit Together in Love, because tag-backs are just great!

Amy at Between Daydreams.

Jim at Haunts of a Children's Writer.

Sara at I've Got Blister's On My Fingers.

and Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Cultural References

And how do Harry and Pippi know about Hamlet? I thought it was all because of that wonderful song - The Three Minute Hamlet. And that certainly played a part. But how could I have forgotten this little gem. That's right. Remember when Gilligan's Island performed a musical Hamlet? I could never listen to the song Carmen again without hearing the "new" words.

So, now we will read the real thing - but compared to Seamus' song and the Gilligan's Island version I don't know how well it will stand up.

To Read or Not To Read

After our successful reading of Shakespeare's A Midsummers Night's Dream, and eager for more Shakespeare - my kids have requested Hamlet. They know about Hamlet because they've heard the song "The Three Minute Hamlet" and if you haven't heard the song you should. It can be heard at Seamus Kennedy's myspace page. Listen and be enlightened.

They know that Hamlet isn't a comedy (although the song is pretty funny) and they know lots of people die. But that's the one they want.

So, I bought the No Fear Shakespeare edition of Hamlet and I suppose we can get started.

My question to anyone out there who might have an opinion: Am I crazy for reading Hamlet with a 10 year old and a 7 year old? Maybe I am. Sigh. But, when elementary school kids request Shakespeare plays by name, it's kind of hard to turn them down.

I'll post about how it goes. - Oh, and really - if you didn't go that link and listen to the Three Minute Hamlet. Please do. Go. Go now. You won't be sorry.

A Parking Lot Observation

Just a thought:
If you are in a parking lot, and having trouble getting into an angled space - perhaps it is because you are driving the wrong way in a one way lane. The angled spaces are supposed to be easy to get into - not hard. Oh, and backing into them pretty much defeats the purpose.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fire Sale or Protest

Via both Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy , and Lissa at The Lilting House, I became aware of a Missouri's man's unusual way of dealing with too many unsold books in his warehouse. Libraries and thrift stores didn't want them, and

So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books protest what he sees as society's diminishing support for the printed word.

"This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today," Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.

As he barbecued his excess inventory, shoppers came and rummaged through the piles, walking away with great deals before the books went up in smoke.

Is this the ultimate sales gimmick? Buy them or I'll burn them?

Because, if he's protesting that people don't support the printed word, why does he have so many copies of these books. My point being that they were printed. A lot of copies of books were printed. So many, that they can be viewed as disposable.

Is this a bad thing?

Once upon a time to own a book was a big deal. My grandfather thought that the one book shelf of books in his one room school house represented all the books in the world - which leads me to believe he didn't have a large collection of books at home. And the further you go back the more unlikely it would be for people to own books.

Once upon a time if a person burned multiple volumes of a book they might be making it nearly impossible for someone to read that book. There were no internet sales. If all the copies of a book in a town were destroyed, it may never have been replaced. - Therefore book burning came to represent the ultimate in censorship and repression.

You go back far enough and any book at all was quite a rarity. Books once had to be copied out by hand (I know I'm going back really far now, but so what), if one of those books went up in smoke it was a disaster.

Many volumes were lost forever in fires in the , Great Library of Alexandria. And when something like that happened there was no going to the files and printing up a new copy. Things were gone forever.

It takes a lot more for something to be gone forever these days. Which is a very good thing. If a towns library collection were to go up in flames, it would be a financial disaster (and a very very sad thing) but chances are most of the collection would be replaceable. Even books that are out of print can sometimes be obtained through used book stores and print on demand sites.

So, what does one achieve by staging a public book burning these days?
  • Publicity
  • People to buy those books (nothing like being told you're going to lose your chance to make a person hand over the money - Disney does that regularly by having it's movies become available for a limited time)
But our Missourian book burner also maintains that he is protesting the fact that people don't read anymore (I'd argue with that assertion, but we'll go with it for now). So - how exactly is burning books going to get people to read them? The library doesn't want them because they have enough books? The thrift stores are full? Scatter the books throughout the city with a note on the cover that the book is free for whoever wants it. Leave books in bus stations, train stations, homeless shelters. I notice that he was more than willing to sell books to people as he was burning the others. If he was really so intent on destroying the books - why not just give them away.

And in the end, if there really are simply too many copies of Tom Clancy's book out there right now - does it do society any harm if some of them are permanently destroyed? Would it stop someone from obtaining the book if they wanted it? Would it stop someone from finding out about the book, or reading the book. Unless you took it out of someone's hands to burn it, is there really harm?

The thought of burning books is offensive to our sensibilities, but fortunately books are not a rare commodity anymore, and burning them is little more than symbolism left over from another time and place. And contrary to what Mr. Wayne thinks, I think this means that we do value reading. After all, there are so many books published that he can't even give extras away!

Tuesday's Proverb

Happy the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding! For her profit is better than profit in silver, and better than gold is her revenue; She is more precious than corals, and none of your choice possessions can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand, in her left are riches and honor; Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace; She is a tree of life to those who grasp her, and he is happy who holds her fast. (Proverbs 3:13-18)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Rose Garden

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8 Things About Me Meme

I've been tagged for a Meme by Amy Caroline at Knit Together in Love, which is actually kind of ironic, because I can't knit (I can crochet and quilt and cross-stitch, just can't knit) - darn I should have saved that for one of the eight things!

Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I feel a little uncomfortable doing this, because, even though I blog, I try not to include too many personal details. (Hah - that's the first thing)

2. I have three younger brothers. No sisters. When I was little I always thought one of my brothers should have been a sister - just to be fair - then I realized that as the only girl I didn't have to share my room. So, that was okay then - though bunk beds would have been cool.

3. From the time I was twelve, I thought I was going to be a lawyer when I grew up. I thought this right up until it was time to sign up for the LSATs and I realized I wasn't so sure. I never did sign up for the LSATs and there ended the dream of being a lawyer.

4. I became an editor instead.

4a. My best friend became a lawyer and now she's a librarian. (okay, that doesn't count, because it's not about me.)

5. I spent a semester at the University of London - Queen Mary College. Living in London as a student was a fantastic experience, and one I would encourage anyone to take on - if they c0uld.

6. When I was 15 and spent a month in Germany, I started dreaming in German. And therefore couldn't understand my dreams, because I couldn't actually speak German.

7. My dream car is a white Corvette (early eighties model).

7a. I drive a black Sable station wagon.

8. I'm a chain letter breaker. I do not pass on chain letters whether they are snail mail or e-mail. You send me something that tells me I'm going to die in three days if I don't send this to 10 people - I'll take my chances. If you don't want a chain broken - don't send it to me.

So there you have it - eight things about me. Are you all enlightened now? (No? I didn't think so.)

Now, I need to tag eight people. If I tag you, and you've already done this, then ignore it. If I tag you and you don't want to do it, ignore it. What do I care, I'm a chain letter breaker!

Liz at A Chair a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy

Lissa at Here in the Bonny Glen

Meredith at Sweetness and Light

PJ at House of Cards


Lisa at Unexpected Journey

Alice at Cottage Blessings


Kelly at Big A little a

Good Mood Monday

Okay, I almost forgot it was Monday - what with it being a holiday and all. And the kids are home from school, and my husband doesn't have work today. But it is Monday - and it's time for a bit of good cheer.

Hmmm - well, I can start with the fact that the kids don't have school and my husband doesn't have work. It's always nice to have an extra day to spend together.

And yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day with a parade and picnic at my Mom's house. The parade route goes in front of my parents' house, so it's a perfect place to watch. And all the scouts that marched in the parade threw candy. Lots of candy. And they really hurled it. We had to scour the lawn later to make sure we didn't miss any pieces - don't worry, the candy won't go to waste - my kids both have major sweet tooths. (On a side note, I hardly ever have to buy candy except at the major candy times: Halloween, Christmas and Easter, the rest of the time they get their supply from birthday parties and a few well timed parades!)

And one more feel good note: Harry has learned to cook scrambled eggs (no help, Mom, I can do it all myself) and so after he made himself breakfast - before I was out of bed - he also made breakfast for me. Now, isn't that nice?

Have a great day - and if anyone has any mood boosters to share, let me know in the comments, and I'll link to you.

In Memory of All Who Served and Sacrificed

It's Memorial Day today, and lest we begin to think the day is all about barbecues and sales and the beach, let's take a moment to really remember the soldiers who have sacrificed everything so that we can live the life we do in this country.

When I was younger a found this poem, and copied it out.
I found it now at the American Heritage Library, there are a lot of good poems for Memorial Day there - go and check it out.

The Unknown Soldier
by Billy Rose

There's a graveyard near the White House
Where the Unknown Soldier lies,
And the flowers there are sprinkled
With the tears from mother's eyes.

I stood there not so long ago
With roses for the brave,
And suddenly I heard a voice
Speak from out the grave:

"I am the Unknown Soldier,"
The spirit voice began,
"And I think I have the right
To ask some questions man to man.

Please go here and read the rest of the poem.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pentecost Sunday

The acting-pastor of our church, Father Charlie, wrote a column for our local paper's "Matter of Faith" section (where weekly they have a member of the clergy give a 'sermon' on paper). I thought his insights into Pentecost were very interesting.

I especially liked his thoughts on the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Love means God's life within our lives. We act as Jesus did who looked on people and loved them even when they were sinners.

Joy is the first vital sign of a life lived in God's will, as light is the first sign of day. It is also the first thing to go when we sin. Joy is not pleasure or confused with happiness, and it is not got with drugs. It is an ease of spirit coming from confidence in God's care and power. It is the spirit radiating from firmly lived priorities that start in God. Joy makes giving and forgiving ready and it is not squelched by conflict.

Peace is not freedom from conflict, strife, or hostility. Rather, it is the confidence that disciples will never be abandoned. Jesus will always be present to them through his word; the Father will dwell in them; the Holy Spirit will guide them. The result is a peace this world cannot give!

Patience or "great-spiritedness," that quality of the great when they are hindered or hurt, is what Jesus showed us so clearly — the last days of his life. So the disciple of Christ, hurt by events or stung by other people, rides out frustration's hurricanes battened down and ready to open up and get on with things the instant they have exhausted themselves.

Kindness is usefulness for others that rise spontaneously from what we are. Led by Christ's Spirit, we would hope to be useful even to a terrorist bleeding from his own bomb.

Goodness follows that, because it is a generosity aside from or beyond usefulness. We are taught by the Spirit to "have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself . . ." (Phil 2:5-11)

Trustfulness comes from knowing where our great treasure lies. It is the freedom to be loyal and to keep our word that comes from treasuring what rust and moth cannot wreck, that freedom is a great strength.

Gentleness follows that strength. Human nature as it is tends toward vehemence and violence and it seems to be tending that way more than ever. The Spirit leads us away from the deception that anger has to well up from the deep uncontrollable reaches of our psyche.

Self-control is connected with being led that way. But self-control is not negative. Rather, it is the dynamic governing and guiding of passions and desires for the purposes of serving God and being for others.

You can read the whole article here.

Monkey's Uncle

Harry (climbing on the counter to get something out of the cabinet): I'm a monkey.

Me: My brother wanted to be a monkey. When he was three, someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said a Monkey.

Pippi: Now he's a Monkey's Uncle.

Summer Reading

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Shakespeare and the Fab Four

Thanks to Alice at Cottage Blessings for pointing me in the direction of this. It's perfect, since Harry, Pippi and I just finished reading "A Midsummers Night's Dream" this evening, and Harry loves the Beatles. So what could be better than the Fab Four doing the skit from within the play with John Lennon as Thisbe, Paul McCartney as Pyramus, George Harrison as the Moon, and Ringo Starr as Lion.

Poetry Friday - By a Boy: Oy!

I promised a poetry contribution from Harry, and here it is. In school he had to write a poem using words that ended in 'oy'. This is the result.

Cowboy Roy

Cowboy Roy was a joyful lad
He had three toys
He loved soy sauce
we forgot about Elroy
They hated their dormmate Troy
They loved to destroy Troy's stories.

The round up this week is at a wrung sponge. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Math Crazed

Pippi is not a math person. She is 'math-phobic' if that's a word.

Her brother on the other hand loves math.

At the beginning of this school year (1st grade), when the class was going over the fundamentals of counting, he wanted to be learning fractions.

When they finally got to fractions, he was disappointed that it was just coloring in parts of circles and triangles and such. I guess he wanted to be adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions like his sister was doing (Pippi would probably be quite happy to color in parts of circles). I explained to him that in order to do things with fractions, you first had to understand what fractions were. One thing at a time.

Yesterday he came home from school and told me that the math chapter they were on now was multiplication and division. He didn't sound happy about it.

Me: But that's good. You want to do multiplication and division.

Harry (sounding disgusted): Yeah - but they're doing it like repetitive addition. What's 2 plus 2 plus 2 plus 2. (big sigh)

Me: What do you want to be doing?

Harry: Stuff like 27 x 27.

Me: Do you know how to do that?

Harry: No.

So I showed him. And we tried another double digit problem. He enjoyed it. And I taught him the trick that I learned in 3rd grade about the 9 times tables (take the number you're multiplying 9 by, subtract 1, figure out what other number you need to make it equal nine and place the two digits next to each other: (9 x 3: 3-1=2, 2+7=9 therefore 9x3=27). He loved it. Now in addition to trying to teach his classmates about factorials, maybe he'll teach them the nine times tables.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Easy Answer

Mom, can we wash the car? Can we? Can we? Please?

Um - yes.
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Empty Nest

The last bird flew the coop this morning. When I opened the living room blinds this morning, I saw that the bird was standing on the edge of the nest - just like his siblings had done yesterday afternoon. I called Pippi and Harry to hurry and come downstairs - because I thought the bird was going to fly soon.

They came and watched.

A parent bird came and fed the little one.

He settled down into the nest and I sent Pippi to get dressed.

I even let them eat their breakfast in the living room, so in case the bird decided to fly they wouldn't miss it.

About quarter after eight, I opened the window so that they could hear it and be clued in if something was happening (they were also reading the comics at the time). And I reminded them that in 15 minutes we were going to have to leave for school whether the bird had flown or not.

But as I turned my back to go back into the kitchen they both started shouting: He flew! He's gone! He flew away!

And so they didn't miss it - I did - but I saw the two yesterday, so that's fine with me. I'm so glad they saw it.

"It's not like it's a once in a lifetime experience or anything," Pippi said.

"It might be," I reminded them - you usually don't have the opportunity of a nest right outside your window. After all, how often does a person get a chance to see a bird take his first flight - and know it's the first flight?

And now the nest is empty. And as far as my question as to whether the birds come back to the nest. It doesn't appear they do. They've achieved their freedom. Good for them. I'm just so glad we were able to observe them from the time of their hatching until they flew away.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Flying the Coop

Mere moments after I took this picture, while I watched from the window inside the house, these two birds flew away. I saw their first flight. I knew the one standing taller in this picture was ready to fly. I was surprised that they both took off at the same time. I was even more surprised when the first bird flew right at the window screen (which thankfully I had lowered a moment before - I had opened it in the hopes of a better picture). He grabbed at the screen with his feet and clung there for a second - as I stood on the other side too surprised to do much. His brother had flown away with no obstacles. After a few seconds, the first bird flew away also. They leave a sibling in the nest. The third bird seems quite content to have all that space to himself.

Now - the question is - do these robins return to the nest tonight. I guess I'll find out!
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The Mighty Pencil

Getting ready to do homework yesterday afternoon. Harry finds a pencil. He sharpens it.
Pippi eyeing the pencil: Hey that's my pencil
Harry: But it's got a good eraser.
Pippi: I know - because it's brand new, and I don't want you using it.
Harry hands it over. I find him another pencil and hand it to him.
Pippi: That's mine too.
Me (after finding another pencil): Does this belong to you Pippi?
Pippi: Nope
I go to sharpen it.
Harry in the meantime opens the drawer to find a writing instrument. He comes up with a pen.
Harry: The pen is mightier than the sword.
Me (Taking pen from him and replacing it with pencil): Yes - but you're doing your homework in pencil.

Birdy Update

I think the birds are going to start flying soon. They're spreading their wings. And the three babies barely all fit in the nest anymore. One of them keeps standing up and flapping. Any day now, I think he's going to give flight a try.

I love the fact that this is all right outside my living room window and I can sit on the sofa and watch it all unfold.

Tuesday's Proverb

The discipline of the LORD, my son, disdain not; spurn not his reproof; For whom the LORD loves he reproves, and he chastises the son he favors. (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Good Mood Monday

Our baby birds are growing. There are three of them in the nest. You can see two of them in this picture. I imagine that pretty soon they will learn to fly. They are growing so quickly.

And other than that this is cute picture of some cute birds - how does this make a good mood Monday? Well - the other day I saw how the mother bird disposes of the bodily waste from the baby birds. She plucks it up in her beak and flies away with it.

So - dirty diapers don't seem so bad now - do they? It's all a matter of perspective.

For some more Happy Thoughts - check out House of Cards for some random acts of kindness. And if you have any other happy Monday posts let me know in the comments and I'll link to them.
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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shakespeare's in the Air

I was inspired by Alice, over at Cottage Blessings, to introduce my children to Shakespeare. The pictures that Alice shares of her crew's performance of A Midsummers Night's Dream are simply spectacular.

I don't have a whole passel of kids I could interest in performing Shakespeare, but I do have two children who love a bit of drama.

We have a "Complete Works of Shakespeare" from 1925. It's great in that it has everything - but it's not the easiest to read - the pages are thin, the type small - and there are no explanatory notes. I figured if I was going to introduce a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old to Shakespeare, I better have some explanations available.

I found a great series of books by SparkNotes, No Fear Shakespeare. And I bought a copy of A Midsummers Night's Dream. These books have the original Shakespeare on one page - and on the adjacent page they have a "plain English" translation.

So, we're reading the play, a page at a time - first in plain English - so we'll all know what is going on, and then in Shakespeare's own words.

The kids love it. Harry totally got into playing Egeus. He loved the role of angry father. He projected his voice so well he should have been on-stage, not in the kitchen. And then when he took to playing Lysander - he needed to know, was this person angry too. No - Lysander was more sad - because he couldn't marry the girl he wanted. So Harry moderated his tones to one of sadness and dejection.

Pippi meanwhile, is our resident actress, and she's loving playing as many roles as I'll let her. She especially likes reading Puck.

We sometimes have to shift what roles we are reading - so that we're not having conversations with ourselves. But, so far it's been working out fine.

And there's something pretty neat about hearing your kids ask if you can read more Shakespeare now.

Everybody Sing Now

There is an adorable little girl in our church - probably about two years old, who always wows me as she walks in the communion line, her hands held in a perfect prayerful position before her.

Today she was in a singing mood. As we sang the song during the presentation of the gifts - she sang along loud and lustily - just not anything near what the rest of the congregation was singing. And then, when the organ was playing some soft music in anticipation of the communion song, she announced loudly. "Sing, guys," and proceeded to do just that. (Her Mom did shush her then, until a song was actually being sung.)

I love that she is so enthusiastic about what is going on around her - her mother is doing a great job raising her.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Poetry Friday

My daughter has truly become a poet this year. Her Language Arts teacher told us (at conferences) that at the beginning of the school year when the class was told that they would be writing a lot of poems, Pippi groaned, and announced that she hated writing poems. In fact, I think her first attempt, was something along the lines of "I hate poems". But it didn't take her long to realize that she is in fact quite talented at writing poems. And now she loves it.

So, this week, I share another of Pippi's poems.

When I met Sleep

When I met sleep
It was distinctly female
But she had large hands
Her smile was wide
Her voice was hushed
And her figure looked like a cloud person
Sleep sang lustily
Smoothly, sweetly
We rocked back and forth
Finally, I fell asleep.

Maybe next week I'll share something by Harry.

This week's round-up is at Big A little a.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Baby Birds

I've been watching the baby birds the past couple of days. I'm thrilled that I'm able to do that while sitting in my living room. If I want a closer look I can go up to the window - or even out on the front stoop - but I can happily see them while reclining on the love seat.

And what I observed the other day was the mother (and the father too) bird feeding the babies about every 20 minutes. Even when one of the parents weren't there, the babies often had their beaks open - even while they slept - in the hope that a delectable morsel of worm would drop into their mouth.

When the mother (or father) did appear with some food, the birds all bobbed their heads up and down - trying to be the one who got his beak closest to the food and therefore got fed. I couldn't tell, from my vantage point, if all the babies got fed every time, or only one or two. But I did see that that mother spent her day digging up worms to feed her hungry crew.

I remember when my children were infants - and they wanted to nurse every couple of hours. It was exhausting, and I remember wishing for the day when they would eat at regular meal times. Perhaps Mother Robin is wishing for the day when her babies will be able to dig up their own worms.

The babies are getting bigger now. They are losing their fuzz and have feathers. They have the red breast markings of a grown-up robin. I imagine that soon they will be learning to fly.

My children are getting bigger too - they're testing their own wings - as they skip rocks down at the creek for half an hour before we have to leave for Mass tonight.

I'm glad that it takes human children a lot longer to reach 'flight' than it does for birds. The years I have with my children are precious to me - they've progressed past baby, toddler and even 'little' kid stages. They're big kids now. Pippi is even a tween, I suppose.

Watching the baby birds grow from hatchlings to fledglings is reminding me to appreciate all the stages my own kids go through.

And it's just plain fun to watch the birds in their nest every day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tuesday's Proverb

Honor the LORD with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce; Then will your barns be filled with grain, with new wine your vats will overflow. (Proverbs 3:9-10)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Company in the Teen Years

It turns out that I'm not the only one celebrating a 13th wedding anniversary today (I never thought I was or anything.) Lissa at The Bonny Glen and Amy of Between Daydreams are also celebrating this momentous occasion. Congrats to them. And to anyone else who is celebrating a 13th - or other anniversary - or birthday - or whatever. Happy Day to Everyone.

Good Mood Monday

Sometimes it's all about going slow enough to notice things. When I was a child I had a picture book in which the main character stopped to notice a butterfly, and the story went on to say that grown-ups just don't notice things like that.

I decided there and then that I wanted to be the kind of grown-up who would notice a butterfly. And lots of times I do. Sure, sometimes we're in a rush, and have lots of things on our minds, and naturally, the little things may slip by unnoticed, but how much more special life is when we do notice those things.

Having a robins nest outside our living room window and next to the front door is making us all slow down and notice things. If we go in or out, we always stop to see what the birds are up to - and often we just stop by the front window for a peak.

Yesterday I saw the mother bird holding a worm above two open little beaks waiting for food. It's such a beautiful thing to witness.

Walking home from bringing the kids to school this morning I saw our goose family - the goslings are growing fast. The parents were walking behind, guiding them, as we do with our own children. I saw two rambunctious squirrels race straight up adjoining trees.

There's a lot out there in this beautiful world, and a gorgeous spring day is a perfect time to pay attention to it.

And so despite the children being in bad moods this morning, I'm in a good mood - but maybe that has something to do with the fact that today is my 13th wedding anniversary and I'm lucky enough to be married to my best friend.

If anyone else wants to post a Good Mood Monday message I'll link to you, if you leave me a comment.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Letter from A Mother

Once upon a time men (and women) embarked upon adventures to a new world. In a day without regular mail service, no telephones, e-mail, instant messaging or anything of the sort, when a child left for the "new world" that was often the last he would see of his mother. A great and exciting adventure for the son to be sure, but for the mother left at home, wondering how he fares, not so great. And what did those mother's think.

I'm lucky to have had access to The Howard Genealogy by Heman Howard, and in there is a copy of a letter sent from Mary Hayward (alternate spelling of Howard) to her son John. I am a direct descendant of them both.

So, in honor of Mother's Day, here's the letter Mary wrote to her son living in Massachusetts in 1652.

London, Aug 16, 1652

Loving Son:--

Having a fitt opportunity by a friend to send to you, I could not, out of my motherly care to you and your brother, do less than write a few lines to you to certify you that both I and your sister are in good health, praysed be God, and that I earnestly desire to hear from you both, how you do and how and in what condition you are both. Your sister desires to be remembered to you both, and she and I have sent you some small tokens of our love for you. I have sent George 3 bands and a handkerchief, and an handkerchief to yourself, and I have sent you a shilling to you to pay for writing of a letter, if by long silence you have forgott. I wonder, son, you should so forgott your mother, whose welfare she tended more than anything in the world. Your sister hath sent you a book of your f ather's to you and a bible to George. Did we conceive you were alive, we would have sent you better tokens. Child, with my blessing to you both, desiring to hear from you and whether you ever intend for England, and how your cousing Sarah doth, with my daily prayer to the Lord for you, I rest.

Your Loving Mother,

Mary Hayward

For her loving son, John Hayward,

this: --

In case he be dead, to George Hayward in New England.

I especially like how she includes money for him to send a letter. No excuses for him. But, it's also touching that she has to wonder if perhaps he isn't alive, because it would be a real possibility. As it turns out, he was alive, but I don't know if he answered her letter.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I Hope I Don't Need This Phrase

Pippi has been teaching herself some German with an old German phrase book I have. It's a nice little pocket-sized book with some very handy phrases organized by category: Greetings, Weather, Emergencies, Eating and Drinking.

Handy phrases include:
Es gibt viel Nebel (there's a lot of fog)
Ich habe Hunger (I'm hungry)
Der Mann hat mir mein Geld gestolhen! (That man stole my money!)

And then there's this one.:
Es ist zu viel Wasser im Boot (There's too much water in the boat.)

That would be fine in the emergency section - only this phrase is under "Sightseeing." What kind of sightseeing tours do they run over there?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Poetry Friday - Kind of

It's almost Mother's day, so people are posting poems about Mothers. That makes perfect sense.
However I've been watching the mother bird outside our window today, with her (at least) three little hatchlings. And decided to compose a ditty (I'm afraid to really call it a poem) about her.

Baby Birds and Mama

Little beaks open wide
Hoping for some food
Mama feeds them
Bits of worms
Then settles down
Snug inside her nest
Her babies safe beneath her.
Is this what we call babysitting?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An Easter Story

I know that Easter was last month. But we are still in the Easter season - so this isn't really that terribly out of date.

Yesterday, my son's public school teacher gave me a copy of something he wrote in his journal in school on April 3, 2007. It was probably suggested that they write about the upcoming Spring Break.

This is what Harry (age 7, grade 1) wrote:

Spring Break as a Catholic

Easter is a very happy day for Catholics because it is the day that our only lord Jesus rises from the dead. The day after that was the day that there were 12 people who partied with our lord Jesus and he turned water into wine. The day after that Mary his mother welcomed him back to Planet Earth and a bad guy asked Jesus if he was the king of the Jews. The day after that Jesus rose back to heaven with Mary and turned to King and Queen. (This is all about remembering Jesus rising from the dead.)

His chronology is a little off - but he hits most of the main points.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One Egg Hatched

I was sitting, in the living room, working on my lap top, and gazing out the window (you can see how much working was going on) and I noticed that the robin was standing on the edge of her nest looking in, as opposed to sitting nestled snuggly on top of her four eggs.

Naturally, I had to sacrifice work time to go to the window and see what was up. And I was glad I did.

What I saw was a little newly hatched bird. So new that it was like a little wiggly pink ... something ... (I'm kind of at a loss as to how to describe it) it didn't have feathers - but a little bit of fuzz here and there. It was moving very awkwardly, as if it couldn't figure out what moving was all about. And while I watched, it managed to get itself into position to put its head up, and open its beak. That was when the mother bird put the little bit of food she was holding in her beak, in the babies mouth. The baby immediately opened its mouth for more (the mother ignored it.)

Later I saw both mother and father robin looking at their newly hatched baby. Then the mother settled herself back in the nest again (I guess it's okay to sit on your babies if you're a bird) and I suppose will wait for the other eggs to hatch.

I'm so glad the robins built their nest where we can see the baby birds from the living room window. It's quite a treat.

Tuesday's Proverb

Be not wise in your own eyes, fear the LORD and turn away from evil; This will mean health for your flesh and vigor for your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Time for A Little Something Different

This isn't simple or ordinary. But it's pretty cool just the same.

What I'm Reading

Lissa tagged me for a book meme. The question is: What books are you reading right now?

Let's see. I just finished one yesterday and started a new one last night, but I've barely gotten past the first few pages in the new one, so I'll include them both.

The one I finished is Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keyes. I was hoping for a light read, and it wasn't as light as I hoped, but it was a good story about three friends and the turmoils in their lives, and how one friend's bout with cancer helps the others to sort out their lives.

The book I just started is The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. I'm only on page 4, so honestly can't tell much about it yet, but I've read other books by Philippa Gregory and have enjoyed them, and enjoy stories from that time period.

I'm also reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Latin. I didn't take Latin in school. I had 5 years of Spanish, 2 of German and a semester of French (in college) (just as a side note, if you learn Spanish and German first it's very hard to get your mouth around French pronunciations - or maybe that's just me). Now I'm interested in learning a little Latin. This seemed like a good place to start.

And then there are the books that are sitting by my bed because I've started them, and just didn't finish yet. Two are re-reads of books by Madeleine L'Engle: The Irrational Season, which is the third book in her Crosswicks Journals - and which I like to re-read every now and then, and The Love Letters - a story combining a modern day romance and a 17th century romance, as well as a Portuguese convent and a French soldier.

I also have A Friar's Joy - a book I picked up at a mission this Spring given by a Franciscan Friar. It's a lot of small stories from the lives of several Friars.

And for a little "light" reading (ha) we have A New Song For the Lord by Pope Benedict XVI, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, by Scott Hahn, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

One thing becomes clear here and that is that I need to finish some of the books by my bed.

Now I get to tag people.
I tag Nancy at Journey Women, Meredith at Sweetness and Light, and Milehimama at Mama Says... and Liz at A Chair, A Fire Place and a Tea Cozy.

Good Mood Monday

I wanted to get this post done earlier in the hopes of attracting more people to the idea of "Good Mood Monday" - put, what can I say - it's Monday.

Inspired by a post on joy at Sweetness and Light and by the Carnivals of Joy at Three Plus Two, I thought it would be neat to have a day when we post about good things. And Mondays are a day we could all use a little mood-lightening, whether it's because you have to go to work again after a relaxing weekend, or are trying to convince the children that they really do want to go to school this morning, Mondays can be tough.

I'd say that the most mood-boosting thing this morning was the walk to school with the kids. The sky was blue, the breeze was fresh, and the goslings were out. While Canada Geese can be a pain, with the mess they leave in parks and on sidewalks, their offspring are adorable. Right now we have four little fluffy yellow goslings trailing their parents around the park. So cute.

And if that isn't mood-brightening enough for you, check out this video. I originally saw this when Melissa Wiley linked to it from one of her many blogs but couldn't find the original link today. I did find it on YouTube, but when I tried to embed it in my blog, it didn't work. So hopefully the link will. I particularly like the line "You can sleep when you are dead."

If you want to participate in Good Mood Monday, just put a note in the comments with a link, and I'll round it all up later today.

Edited to add: Meredith, over at Sweetness and Light, joins Good Mood Monday today with a lovely post on Mondays with Mary. And what better way is there, really, to put yourself in a good mood, then to spend some time in the company of the mother of our Lord.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Put A Little Love In It

Our priest told a story today about a nun who came to talk to his seminary class. Without going into all the details, it boiled down to this: She had told someone who was having a difficult time to "Put a Little Love in it". The woman to whom the advice was directed thought it seemed simplistic - but tried it ... and it worked.

So the nun now passed the advice on to the seminarians, and today, Father Jim passed it onto us.

Put A Little Love In It.

It would make a nice inspirational poster.

And it's also very good advice.

Today's Gospel reminds us once again of Jesus' new commandment to us. "To love one another." But it's not really new. It's more of a summary of the original ten.

A couple of weeks ago as I wrapped up teaching the ten commandments to my fourth grade CCD class I told them that all ten could be summed up in one word. Did they know what that word was?





It's Love I told them. It's as simple as that: Love.

Because if you love someone you don't want to do bad things to them. You don't want to lie about them or steal from them, or hurt them in anyway. If something good happens to them you are happy - not jealous. Basically, if you are acting in love you don't need someone to remind you of what the ten commandments are because you will automatically do the right thing.

But what about all those other people. The ones who cut you off in traffic, the teachers who give homework over vacation breaks, the friend who stops being a friend. Well, Jesus didn't make exceptions. We have to love them too. But since that is a bit harder, we do have those rules: even if we don't feel love we still need to not kill, not lie, not steal. We have to act in love even if we don't feel love.

And that brings us back to the advice Father Jim shared with us today. Put a little love in it and you can't go wrong.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

It's a Bird, It's a Plane ... It's...

Super Librarian

I was reading the paper this morning and came upon this article. I know it doesn't mention Liz by name, but who else could they mean? After all the heroine is a "pretty librarian from a South Jersey shore town" and she's armed with "book smarts, street smarts and technical savvy."

Sounds like the super hero the world has been waiting for.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Poetry Friday

For Poetry Friday today - I bring you an original poem by Pippi.

The Old Door

The door was gray
It was rusted
It was old
No one opened it anymore
It was cold.
I was daring
It squeaked
It creaked
I pushed it open.
I was surprised to see
A knight without half his armor running after a chicken!
I looked again.
A dragon!
I blinked my eyes.
Then I found, it was just
A Tapestry.
I moved it back.
Another scene I saw
Of pirates
I stepped forth and found it was real!
But how would I get back?
No one had told me.

The Poetry Friday round-up is over at Big A little a this week.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Slice of Spring and Peace of Mind

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed this evening. Our problems may be small compared to other peoples, but tonight they seemed to all be piling on. I felt the need to wallow in misery.

What I did was take my cup of tea outside and sit on the front steps.

I felt agitated and upset.

The flowers on the trees are beautiful - pink and white - and light green leaf buds.

There leaves on the red maple glowed in the late afternoon sun.

The grass, newly cut was a brilliant shade of green.

A father was pushing his daughter on a swing in the park across the way.

It's a beautiful evening.

My spirit felt soothed.

God really is good to us - even when life seems too much - he has ways of reminding us that we really are blessed.

A Candle and a Prayer

Heather, a mother of three, is undergoing surgery today, to remove a brain tumor. Please pray for her.

The prayer chain is courtesy of Alice.

To get the link for the button, go here.

I can't imagine how difficult this must be for Heather and her family, but she is approaching this with a beautiful faith-filled attitude.

Please pray that God is with her and her family during this difficult time.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sandlot Math

While waiting to get up to bat at his baseball game the other day, Harry and some of his teammates were writing in the sand with a stick. They'd write, they'd rub out - serious conversations were going on.

Later Harry came over to us.

Harry: "I'm trying to teach my teammates something but they keep rubbing it out when I write it down."

Me: "What are you trying to teach them?"

Harry: "Four Factorial."

And surprisingly the other 6 and 7 year olds weren't interested. Maybe he should try them again once they have adding and subtracting down.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Pippi sang "When The Saints Go Marching In" in music class at school. She said she was glad to learn the real words because she used to think it was:

Oh when the saints go marching in
When the saints go marching in
Oh, how we'll be outnumbered,
When the saints go marching in
You know, there's a certain truth to her version.

Tuesday's Proverb

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)