Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shall We Joust?

The kids want to take up jousting.

I'm not sure where you go to learn such a skill. Personally I think they should stick to the more modern activities already on the schedule, but I'm just the mom, what do I know.

And why do they suddenly think jousting would be a good sport to learn?

Because we had dinner at Medieval Times today.

For those of you not familiar with this restaurant/entertainment venue, it's a unique experience. I believe there are nine of them throughout the country. You see, when you enter the castle it is like stepping back in time to the 11th century (an 11th century that included paper crowns and lots of souvenirs for sale).

The dinner seating surrounds an arena where a whole production involving knights on horseback takes place. There is jousting and sword fighting and all sorts of fun things to watch while you eat your food. Oh - and while the Pepsi may not be truly Medieval, the method of eating is. You see - eating with utensils is a sign of witch craft. So fingers are used. (Harry quite enjoyed having no one tell him to use his fork - "use the fork, Luke" is a common refrain at our dinner table).

So we drank our soup and ate our chicken and spare ribs with our fingers while cheering on the red and yellow knight (we knew he was our knight because that was the color of our paper crown.)

This was a family outing to celebrate my Mom's birthday and she has pictures of the group at her blog.

I still think Jousting lessons are out of the question.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

About that Easter Bunny

So, how'd the bunny become a symbol for Easter? (and if you're looking for a real answer, you better look someplace else, sorry.)

Harry has a theory (of course he does): See - another name for bunny is Rabbit. And if you take away the T from Rabbit - you have Rabbi.

And Jesus was called rabbi.

Easter Rabbi.


40 Years Ago

Forty years ago today I stopped being an only child.

And as you can see, I was pretty happy about it.

A year and a half later one brother was joined by another.

And as you can see, they were both pretty happy about it.

They're all grown up now (same brothers, different positions)

If I were to get started posting stories about my brother Pete, it would fill a blog. But those are his stories to share - not mine (hey, Pete - start a blog!).

I'll share just one. Right now Pete loves the beach. But when he was a toddler that wasn't the case. Our grandparents lived down the shore so we went there a lot. But one time Pete resisted. He didn't want to be at the beach. He didn't want to play in the sand, he didn't want to go in the ocean. So, although being little he had no say in where the family went, he had a say in how he would spend his time. And he spent it with his shoes, socks and pants firmly in place, sitting on the blanket with his back to the water. You could bring him to the beach, but you couldn't make him have fun. As I said, this was not a long phase, and he definitely makes up for it now.

In parting, here's one more picture - of Pete helping to remodel a kitchen. I particularly like the hardhat.
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Happy Birthday, Pete!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry Friday - Spring has Sprung

We finally had a taste of beautiful Spring-like weather around here this week. And then it got rainy and the temperature dropped. But we know Spring is there - lurking around the corner and coming out to play from time to time. So in honor of Spring:

Spring Song
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The air was full of sun and birds,
The fresh air sparkled clearly.
Remembrance wakened in my heart
And I knew I loved her dearly.

The fallows and the leafless trees
And all my spirit tingled.
My earliest thought of love, and Spring's
First puff of perfume mingled.

In my still heart the thoughts awoke,
Came lone by lone together -
Say, birds and Sun and Spring, is Love
A mere affair of weather?

The Round-up is at Cuentecitos this week.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So That's What It's Called

Harry, after doing a backwards somersault: "That was a Winter Pepper."

Well, I guess that would be the opposite of "summer salt" as much as anything would.

Space and Stars and Stories

Today we took the kids to see a special space exhibit at a local museum. Pippi has developed a love for space - and would like to work for NASA someday (as a person who stays on the ground, not an astronaut) so she was particularly interested in this exhibit.

There were two parts. One was the main exhibit, Blast Off: A Space Journey, that is largely geared toward early elementary-school aged children. The other was a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian featuring pictures taken in space. The pictures were fascinating and really grabbed her interest (I tried to keep up with Harry who wasn't quite as interested in reading all the text accompanying the pictures).

Some of the pictures don't even look real - it's like they are drawings or modern art or something. But yet they are pictures taken of the planets and moons and asteroids here in our very own galaxy. It's an amazing world we live in. Pippi's theory is that the beautiful planets were put there by God for our enjoyment. And why not?

There was one added feature - and that was a planetarium show. Now I've been to several different planetariums - but this was the first time I was ever in an inflatable one. Think blow up jumping place - but instead of a bouncy floor - a dome featuring the night sky. The woman who did the presentation was wonderful, explaining how in early societies they needed to watch the skies to know the seasons (the weather doesn't change that much in Greece) and made up stories to help them find the stars, see their placement, and I suppose keep themselves entertained in the days before Play Station.

So it was an afternoon of space, stars and stories - and if it weren't cloudy we could have gone out tonight and seen if we could find any of the constellations we learned about today.

(Do you think I should tell Pippi that she might need Math if she works for NASA? - Naa, why ruin her dream.)

Another Birthday

Yesterday when I checked the calendar - no family birthdays. That's not true today. I don't have any old pictures to share this time, because the birthday girl is my sister-in-law.

I have three brothers. Three younger brothers. And when growing up I could never quite get over the idea of feeling a bit cheated out of having a sister (couldn't one of them have been a girl - you know - 2 and 2 - and then I could have had bunk beds!). But you know, all my brothers are really great, and I wouldn't trade them for anything (if you had asked me that when I was about twelve you would have gotten a different answer, I'm sure), and the thing is - they all married great girls.

So now I have three sisters-in-laws. And all three of them are people that I am really glad I know and people that I am thrilled are part of the family.

Happy Birthday, Patti!

And I don't have a picture of her to share - but here's the two little ones she spends her days running after!
Next family birthday in two days. They just keep coming!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Wednesday

A few random thoughts as dinner cooks (sausage-spinach calzone, in case anyone is interested)

Beautiful weather (finally) allows for a lot of yard work (there are six lawn/leaf bags full of leaves, sticks, weeds, pruned rose bushes and raspberry bushes waiting for tomorrow's garbage pick up) - and the back yard looks much better than it did the other day.

Wisdom from Harry: Music is history - because you can tell by the mood of the music what mood the composer was in when it was written.

Good rejection is still rejection - and means the book won't be published quite yet.

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain.

I checked my calendar and I'm pretty sure that no one in my family has a birthday today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

Say to Wisdom, "You are my sister!" call Understanding, "Friend!" That they may keep you from another's wife, from the adulteress with her smooth words. (Proverbs 7:4-5)

More Candles on the Cake

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There will be more candles on the cake this year. Well, there would be if we put one candle per year on our cakes in our family (it tends to be a bit more random - like how many candles my Mom can find).

This little boy, my Dad, my kids Grampy, is all grown up and celebrating another birthday today. As he said in the comments yesterday, there are a lot of birthdays in our family in March. You can wish him a happy day at his blog (and while you're there learn all about table saws and scotch and kayaks, though you'd probably learn more about kayaks at my brother's blog.)

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Monday, March 24, 2008

100 Years Ago

One hundred years ago today fascinating things may have been happening in the world. In fact if you go to 100 years ago today (a really cool site) you can find some of them. But as far as I am concerned the most important thing that happened 100 years ago today was a little girl named Anna was born to Joseph and Anna, themselves children of German immigrants, living in Newark. She was their fourth daughter, but one of the daughters, also named Anna, had lived only a few months. So the little girl joined her two sisters, Rosemarie and Gertrude, at home.

The family lived a good life, in the shadow of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Bottle. When the 1st World War started the girls were told they were American - the German ancestry denied, in order to not be subjected to hatred from neighbors. Joseph was a jeweler, and so the three daughters never lacked for jewelry. In fact - I have both of the pieces of jewelry in the picture below - the head piece and the pearl necklace. The depression was hard on the family, and they lost a lot. The three sisters were always very careful after that to make sure that all of their money was not in one place - no sense taking chances.

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Anna grew up and married. She had one son (my Dad). And then eventually a granddaughter (that would be me). And then three grandsons. She didn't like people to know how old she was (even her sisters lost track- the sisters kept their ages a secret too - and the lengths to which they went to achieve that would make a good post someday). If she were still alive, she certainly wouldn't want people knowing that she was a hundred years old, but sadly, she died 20 years ago.

She may not be here to celebrate with us - but I still say "Happy Birthday, Grandma! Something wonderful happened 100 years ago that made the world a better place - you were born!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Wet and Dreary Day

Sometimes I like days like today - where it's gray and rainy and you just want to sit inside with a good book. Today I found it exhausting and depressing. The constant rain, the dreary skies. It made me want to sleep all day - which of course I didn't.

But exhausted and depressed is not a good mood in which to write blog posts, so this is all there is for today.

And since the Triduum starts tomorrow, I'll probably not be posting again until after Easter.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

Keep my commands and live, my teaching as the apple of your eye; Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:2-3)

Happy Birthday, Mom

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Today is a very special day. It's my Mom's birthday. Why not make her day and go leave her a comment on her blog, Morning Glory Alley and wish her a happy birthday!

The picture is my Mom and me. It's not a recent picture. I won't disclose exactly how old it is. No giving away secrets!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Too Good?

Both Pippi and Harry enjoy being able to do things above grade level. They like reading things that their class mates might find too difficult; they like it that writing assignments are easy and not a chore (well sometimes a chore). But there is a downside to being advanced - as they both found out recently.

First Harry's teacher told me that the editors of the school district literary magazine had doubts that Harry had written the story he submitted himself (he totally had - in fact that was the story he told Pippi she could say "wow" at the end of reading) and his teacher knew it and was going to straighten the situation out.

Then today, Pippi came home from school because the librarian accused her of copying her report directly out of the encyclopedia. Now, mind you, the librarian did not produce said encyclopedia and show her where her words were supposedly copied from. She just made the accusation. Pippi roundly defended herself. She had used several sources, taken notes, written her paper from the notes and had organized it chronologically (it was about an explorer) although apparently the librarian wanted it organized in some other manner. She had a list of resources she used. And in fact, Pippi tells me, the encyclopedia entry was only about a paragraph long and she ended up with a three page paper. The librarian finally let her keep her paper as is - but I'm not sure she ever told Pippi she believed her.

So why did she think Pippi had copied her paper? I'm guessing because it was a very well written paper (I've read things my daughter has written, and it's not your typical fifth grade stuff.)

My kids strive to do a little more, a little better. It's frustrating that along the way, instead of being praised, they are being accused. Will this teach them to not do their best the next time around? Hopefully not. But unfortunately it is a lesson they might take away with them.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Poetry Friday - the Bob Dylan Edition

Jama Rattigan is hosting Poetry Friday this week. And she requested that people post their favorite Bob Dylan lyrics.

I panicked. Okay - I know who Bob Dylan is. I recognize his songs, but I don't know his songs the way I might for Billy Joel or Harry Chapin. Could I name any Bob Dylan song off the top of my head. Wait! Didn't he sing "Blowing in the Wind"? I know that song. I checked and sure enough - that was his. And looking through his list of songs I found that there were a lot of other ones I knew as well - and probably even more I would recognize if I heard them, but don't know them by the title.

But I won't pretend to be any more savvy than I am - and since the first song that came to me was "Blowing in the Wind" - that's what I'll share.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

You can read the rest of the song here.
The Round-up is by Jama Rattigan this week. So go and get in a Bob Dylan frame of mind.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Having A Voice in Your Writing

Every writer knows (and readers know this too) how important it is to have a 'voice' in your writing. A unique style that shows who wrote it. A certain feel to a writing that make it comes alive. It's hard to teach and some people have it - and some have more trouble with it.

Eleven-year-old Pippi has no trouble with it.

We were at conferences yesterday with her math and language arts teacher (together.) Her language arts teacher told us that Pippi really has 'voice' in her writing. In fact she has Pippi read her work aloud to the class to demonstrate what 'voice' is in writing.

Her math teacher nodded. "Oh yes. She has voice," she says with meaning "You should see the little comments she leaves in her math homework."

Ah - to have voice and to know how to use it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Family Blogathon

Or the family that blogs together - leaves comments together?


I seem to have started a trend in my family. My kids started their own blogs - which are invitation only to protect their privacy (though I'll share their titles because I think they are cool: Pippi's is Bliss and Harry's is Four Sports and Seven Years Ago), and then I convinced my Dad to start a blog. He got into it and started two. The first is A Dram of Scotch, A Kayak and A Tablesaw. (His title was inspired by Liz's blog A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy - but he put the drink first so there would be no confusion - though to be honest, a tea cozy isn't a drink, is it?) His second is Barrister Bill where he writes profound thoughts on legal matters (not to be confused with legal advice)

My mother decided she wanted in on the act, so she started Morning Glory Alley - inspired by the beautiful flowers (especially morning glories) that she cultivates in her little part of the world.

Then I asked my sister in law (who is a frequent commenter) when she was going to start a blog. She told me she already had one. What! I wasn't informed? So now I know it's called add two to the mix and she is writing more frequently.

And then I got a surprise, her husband, my youngest brother started his own blog: Full Immersion.

And today I have not been the first person commenting on these blogs. And I'm being called a comment slacker. Well, humph. So here's a real big comment. Yay to all of you for starting blogs and joining the wonderful blogosphere! Welcome!

Oh - and my husband doesn't have a blog - and judging by the very proud way he mentioned that when I was saying how many in the family did - I don't think he plans to start one any time soon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Trip to the Library

Lately the kids have been reading a lot of books we own - and judging by our overflowing bookshelves - we own a lot of books. But Pippi had a specific book in mind, and Harry has been having trouble finding a story to stick his teeth into so we headed to the public library.

Here's what they got.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
(notice a trend) and
The Nobodies by N.E. Bode

And for Harry (who apparently plans to do a lot of reading this month)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
(not an abridged version, so we'll see how that goes)
Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
(he loved Millions)
London Calling by Edward Bloor
The Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence
and for something completely different
Under the Sea Origami by Duy Nguyen.

I know Pippi will read the books she got out. Harry - I definitely see him reading Framed and The Thieves of Ostia. We'll see what happens with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Slice of Life - Blues Brothers Watch Out

I wish I had a picture to show – but we’ll have to do with 1000 words (or less) instead.

He’d eaten breakfast and played on the computer. He was dressed and ready for school, except for his shoes and socks, and his sister was finally emerging from her room. He went upstairs and closed the door, Club Penguin forgotten for now.

Soon I heard strains of “Bad Moon Rising” coming from his amp as he practiced the new song his guitar teacher introduced to him.

The song was very recognizable (always a plus when played by an eight year old.) He wasn’t singing his new lyrics “I see a baboon rising”, but he had belted them out in the shower last night.

After making sure his sister was eating her breakfast I went into his room. I wanted to tell him how wonderful it sounded and to get his glasses so I could put them in his backpack for school. I walked into his room, and rounded the dresser, which in its new spot blocks immediate view of what’s going on.

And there he stood, electric guitar in hand, amp plugged in, one bare foot resting on the amp as he played. On his head was the plastic top hat that came with his magic set. On his face dark ‘blues brothers’ sun glasses.

He’s just absolutely too cool to be only eight years old.

Tuesday's Proverb

My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands. (Proverbs 7:1)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Just a Thought

Considering my last two posts has led me to wonder - who was the person that decided that the ever-crucial standardized testing for 3rd and 4th graders was going to take place immediately after we moved the clocks ahead?

Test Time

This week the 3rd and 4th graders in our school district are taking the dreaded standardized test. My children, being in 2nd and 5th are not taking a test this week. The 2nd graders aren't tested yet - and for some reason they decided to test the 5th graders in May.

But regardless of when school children take the tests, this song by Tom Chapin really rings true (though in defense of our school, we do have a great music teacher, and they get art once a week as well.)

Slice of Life - Daylight Savings Time

Just whose brilliant idea was this to mess with our internal clocks twice a year?

I rolled over and looked at my clock. 6:45. Past time to get up and out of bed. But my mind kept telling me – it’s really only 5:45, you shouldn’t have to get up yet. But I did. I got up, and showered and dressed and made the kids lunches. Then it was time to wake them.

My son is usually wide awake before I ever have to wake him up, but that was not the case today. He was sleeping so peacefully that I hated to disturb him – he so seldom sleeps. I shook his arm gently and said “it’s time to get up.” He opened one eye and looked at me sleepily. I’d leave him to adjust to the idea of getting out of bed. Time to wake his sister.

My daughter is not a teenager yet – but she’s practicing teen sleep patterns by protesting vociferously whenever we tell her she must leave her bed. I was not looking forward to waking her today. I went up the half flight of steps to her room and before I even got to her bed my son was behind me – how did he bound out of bed so quickly? “Can I play on the computer?” he wanted to know.

“Just get dressed first.” At least he was up and would be ready for school.

Now on to the girl. A gentle nudge “time to get up.” Nothing. No movement. No response. Another gentle nudge. “You have to get up.” A few more nudges and I left her to adjust to the idea.

Five minutes later I was back; she hadn’t moved. I removed her covers and nudged her a few more times.

A few minutes later I went back again. I removed her covers again and repeated that she had to get up. This time I got a response. “No! I don’t want to go to school!”

I sent her father up for the next attempt.

Finally she got up. I heard her crying and moaning in the bathroom. How unfair it is. She’s too tired. She shouldn’t have to go to school. Time changes stink. Etc. etc.

She came downstairs for breakfast. “Do I have to go to school?” she asked again, “I’m going to be in a mood all day.”

I handed her a toasted bagel. “Yes. And if you’re going to be in a bad mood – I’d prefer you be in one at school rather than here!”

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Slice of Life

Accepting the challenge over at Two Writing Teachers, here's a Slice of Life Story for today:

The wind whipped my hair and my coat as I locked the door and headed out to the car. My husband already had the car running, and both children were buckled in.

“I think there’s going to be a thunderstorm,” my daughter said, “the way the wind is blowing like that.”

And as if to prove her right the sky lit up with a streak of lightening.

“I don’t like it,” my son said. He doesn’t like storms of any kind and would much prefer that he were inside, keeping his favorite things together and safe, than in the car heading to grandma’s house.

Another bolt of lightening flashed through the sky. And the street signs swayed in the breeze. We drove, avoiding blowing garbage cans and other debris in the road. I would have preferred to be safe inside too, but after we dropped our son off, we had a wake to attend. There are things you do, even when the weather is bad.

We got closer to grandma’s house and realized that the street lights, which had been flickering, were out. And there was a police car in the middle of the upcoming intersection. The power was out.

“Do you think the light’s will be off at grandma’s?” a nervous little boy asked.

“They might be,” we had to concede.

“I hope they are,” said our daughter, the brave big sister.

“Why? You’re not staying there,” I pointed out. She was coming to the wake with us.

“I know,” and she knows little brother is afraid of the dark. So sweet.

As we continued down the road to their house we noted that the power was still off. And then up ahead we saw street lights lit. It looked like the power was going to be on at grandma’s house after all.

“Whew,” said a very relieved little boy.

Now as we drove down the streets, although the wind still raged, the houses were lit from within, porch lights were on, all was right with the world.

Then we got to grandma’s street. There was an emergency vehicle blocking the end of the road. Looking down the street we saw a smoke and flashes of light. We stopped and told the emergency workers that we were only going a couple of houses in and they let us by.

Grandma and Grandpa were in their driveway, in front of a dark house, looking at the live wire that had fallen in the street a few houses up the road. Sparks were flying, it looked like a fireball attached to a string in the middle of the street.

Our son hurried into the house. He didn’t care if the house was dark, he’d rather be there, than out here looking at a wire on fire. Our daughter wasn’t feeling so brave anymore, she hurried back into the car. “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” she said as we continued on our way to the wake.

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

What an amazing story this is. The man is dead. Really and truly dead. He's been in the tomb four days. He's going to smell. This is no 'oh he just seemed dead, but now he's better' kind of dead. When Jesus raised the little girl from the dead - he didn't even let the family really know what he had done. He just told them she'd been sleeping. They probably doubted their earlier judgment - maybe she wasn't really dead after all - but it sure seemed like it. But no one could doubt that Lazarus was dead.

This is of course why Jesus waited several days to show up in Bethany. If He'd gone while Lazarus was still on his sick bed and cured him (which, of course was what Martha and Mary were hoping for) there would be people who could have doubted. "I knew he was going to get better all along."

If He'd gotten there as soon as Lazarus had died and raised him from the dead people still would have doubted. "He wasn't really dead. People don't come back from the dead. He was just really sick and now he's been made well again."

But Jesus waited until there could be no doubt that Lazarus was really and truly dead. He'd been in the tomb four days. This was beyond the point of 'oh, maybe we made a mistake and he wasn't dead after all.' He was dead.

And then he wasn't dead any more. And there could be no doubt about why. People had come to be with Mary and Martha - and now they believed. A lot more people believed than would have believed otherwise.

However. Poor Mary and Martha. They don't know about Jesus' larger plan. They don't know that he needs to reveal himself to more people in a way that will get those people to believe, before he himself is killed.

They only know that their brother is sick. Very sick. And they call for their friend Jesus. And He was their friend. He stayed at their house often. He loved them. They had seen Him cure people and perform miracles. They believed in Him. Probably as much as anyone in those days; they believed in Him.

But where was He? They knew He could cure Lazarus. They had faith in Him. But He didn't come. He didn't cure Lazarus. He had let them down.

Like us they turned to Jesus in their time of trouble - but they didn't get the answer they were looking for. How often do we pray and not get the answer we hoped for? Do we then say that God did not hear our prayer? Or that he doesn't care? Or that he has abandoned us?

Perhaps that is what Mary and Martha thought. It would be natural if they did. But they did not know God's greater plan. Jesus did something even more amazing than curing their brother. He brought him back from the dead. It was his greatest miracle up to that point.

Jesus did not let them down. Jesus did not abandon them. And neither does Jesus abandon us; even when our prayers are not answered in a way we like. Mary and Martha understood the fullness of Jesus' plan for their brother within days of feeling let down. In some circumstances we may not understand God's greater plan for many years.

But God does not abandon us.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Paying Respects

We went to a wake tonight.

The mother of a very dear friend passed away this week. She'd been very sick for a long time, so her death was not unexpected, and the family is greatly relieved that she is no longer suffering.

Pippi went with us to the wake. Harry opted against the whole idea and stayed with his grandparents.

The woman who died was the grandmother of one of Pippi's classmates. She's known the boy since they were toddlers and are pretty good friends (as these things go in fifth grade, where the girls and boys don't associate too much with each other.)

I was very proud of her as she said hello to him and told him how sorry she was about his grandmother. The exchange didn't last much longer than that - but that's okay. It's a hard thing to know what to say to someone at a wake. A lot of people a lot older than Pippi have problems with it, and I was very proud of how well she handled the whole thing.

We didn't stay long at the wake. The room was crowded and we didn't know most of the people there. We paid our respects and chatted for awhile and then left. But I felt good that we had been there for my friend, and Pippi felt good that she was there for her friend, too.

Rest in peace Lauretta Cipolla.

Baboon Rising

Harry's guitar teacher introduced him to a little Creedence Clearwater Revival today. He started teaching him to play Bad Moon Rising. Harry came up with his own title. Baboon Rising. There are lyrics too. I haven't pinned them all down yet - something about Winkies needing Twinkies. I think he has a future as a song writer (or maybe not).

A Slice of Life Challenge

Over at Two Writing Teachers there is a challenge going on. It started March 1st, so I'm a little late jumping in over here.

The challenge is that for at least 21 days in March (so there is still time - there are at least 21 days left to March - even a few more) you write a slice of life story and link in to Two Writing Teachers and share it with everyone else. Everyone who participates for 21+ days will be eligible for a prize drawing.

Sounds fun. Don't know if I'll make it for 21 days, but I'll try to jump in on the challenge at some point.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Poetry Friday - The Round Up

It's Poetry Friday again. Okay - it's still Thursday as I write this - but lately it seems people have been linking in earlier and earlier so I figured I'd be ready.

The round-up is here today. And we shall gather and enjoy fine poetry together.

In order to get us all in the Poetry Friday mood, I've selected this poem as my entry this week:

Still I Love to Rhyme
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Still I love to rhyme, and still more, rhyming, to wander
Far from the commoner way;
Old-time trills and falls by the brook-side still do I ponder,
Dreaming to-morrow to-day.

Come here, come, revive me, Sun-God, teach me, Apollo,
Measures descanted before;
Since I ancient verses, I emulous follow,
Prints in the marbles of yore.

Still strange, strange, they sound in old-young raiment invested,
Songs for the brain to forget -
Young song-birds elate to grave old temples benested
Piping and chirruping yet.

Thoughts? No thought has yet unskilled attempted to flutter
Trammelled so vilely in verse;
He who writes but aims at fame and his bread and his butter,
Won with a groan and a curse.

People love their poetry. And Poetry Friday seems to start on Thursday these days. This is all good!

And the round-up begins:

Andrea at Just One More Book was in first with an original poem inspired by summer. Because, surely, now that it’s March, winter will end soon.

Anne (my Mom) at Morning Glory Alley is participating in her very first Poetry Friday – with her brand new blog. She brings us another breath of spring with a poem about Honeysuckles.

Little Willow brings us a grammar lesson in the form of poetry, in honor of National Grammar Day (March 4th).

Sara Lewis Holmes is on a rant about rainy Spring weather with her podcast poem about Spring.

And over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast there is a fairy-tale inspired poem about Hansel.

Over at The Miss Rumphius Effect Tricia has two poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in honor of that poets birthday (which was yesterday)

Suzanne brings us more adventures in Spring at Adventures in Daily Living – with a double header of Spring inspired poems.

Elaine Magliaro has been busy on the poetry front this week: at Blue Rose Girls she shares a poem about a forgotten planet and at Wild Rose Reader she shares some poetry for Woman’s History Month from the book All by Herself by Ann Whitford Paul and she has a collection of mask poems that she’s sharing too. Go read all of her wonderful poems – and then come back for more of the round-up.

Michele at Scholar’s Blog is honoring another birthday poet: Edward Thomas, who was killed in the First World War. She is also celebrating the anniversary of the publication of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The two men were friends in life, and their poetry lives side by side at a Scholar’s Blog today

Gregory K felt it was time for another of his wonderful Oddaptations. Today he brings us Horton Hears a Who over at GottaBook.

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has Phillip Pullman on her mind and found a lovely poem in honor Will and Lyra.

Stacey from Two Writing Teachers also does Poetry Friday in her classroom, and today she’s sharing with us what she’s going to share with her class: a funny list poem.

While we all look to Spring, TadMack reminds us that every morning is a renewal, go read the inspiring poem over at Finding Wonderland.

Over at Destined to Become A Classic Mme T shares a thought provoking poem: Prayer before Birth.

It’s another birthday poem – this time not the poet – but writer2b’s daughter – over at Findings.

Laura Salas shares three poems from Naomi Shahib Nye’s new book Honeybee, and also has a bundle of original 15 Word or Less Poems.

Jama shares memories of her grandmother and a Room in the Past by Ted Kooser over at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.

Shelf Elf wants a yellow dog after reading Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog. She shares a bit of that with us today.

The luck of the Irish is with Cloudscome today as she posts a poem by Irish poet John O’Donohue over at a wrung sponge.

Marianne H. Nielsen is sharing two poems from The Kingdom for a Horse, An Anthology of Poems About Horses, edited by Betty Ann Schwartz at Doing the Write Thing.

A little Spanish, a little poetry, that’s what Annie at Crazy For Kids Books shares with us in reviewing The Moon is La Luna: Silly Rhymes in English and Spanish by Jay M. Harris.

Over at Picture Book of the Day, Anastasia Suen takes us into the land of Jazz with This Jazz Man.

Edited to fix incorrect link: Cheryl Rainfield has an original poem on books and the joy found within.

Laurel at Kidliterary posts a lovely poem by James Wright.

Adrienne is thinking about politics (though she’d rather not) over at What Adrienne Thinks About That and so shares a little Allen Ginsburg with us.

MotherReader takes Poetry Friday a step further and shares an article on how to and how not to write poetry.

John Mutford has compiled a list of Simpson’s Poetry References over at The Book Mine Set.

Kelly Fineman is bringing us some more Wordsworth this week, inspired by daffodils (Spring is definitely in the air), over at Writing and Ruminating.

Tiel Aisha Ansari has an original pantoum poem at Knocking From Inside.

Sylvia Vardell, reflecting on the anniversary of becoming a citizen has mashed two poems together to try to express her feelings. Head to Poetry For Children for a little Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman.

Karen Edmisten brings us a little more Ted Kooser today, in his poem Nebraska, which happens to be where Karen is.

Sheila at the Greenridge Chronicles is celebrating Spring with a welcome to March by Emily Dickenson and an ode to the wind by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Over at Becky’s Book Review we celebrate another birthday, this time of Dr. Seuss, with an original poem The ABCs of Dr. Seuss.

Becky at Farm School is missing a dear friend who passed away this week, and shares a bit of Donald Hall’s Without.

We have some more Naomi Shihab Nye, this time in audio form, shared by Mary over at Audiobooker.

Rebecca at IPSA DIXIT shares a double dactyl titled "History Lesson”, a fun romp by Allan Wolf.

This week Liz Scanlon gives us a Prayer of Spring by Robert Frost at Liz in Ink.

Lisa at Passionately Curious asked her second graders where poetry hides. They found it in some pretty great spots, and she shares their insight today.

There’s a little Forgetfulness (by Billy Collins) going on over at The Reading Zone.

Amanda, at A Patchwork of Books reviews A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in Poetry by Marjorie Maddox.

Mitali Perkins ruminated on Lifetime Achievement Awards after watching the Oscars and shares her insights at Mitali’s Fire Escape.

Over at Chicken Spaghetti, Susan T gives us a link to Mary Ann Hoberman’s poem “Snow.”

Jenny at Little Acorns Treehouse has made her latest stop in her “Poetry through the States” in New Hampshire and she shares Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

A Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket is the poem that The Well-Read Child brings to the mix this week.

And for now we wrap it all up with Miss Erin and Longfellow and The Day is Done.

And there is still more: Book Buds has a Poetry Friday book review of My Dog May be a Genius by Jack Prelutsky.

Anne Shirley over at ProTeachers talks today about learning and enjoying poetry with her students. She shares a poem by Valerie Worth, and original still in draft form.

Felicity at Look Books invites us to join her “In the Library” with a poem by William Stafford.

Robert Frost talks about a Road Less Traveled. Melissa Wiley travels that road and blogs all about it!

Mr. Linky is set up, so leave your link and leave me a comment and I'll post updates throughout the day. (You people are contributing poems faster than I can round them up, but I promise I'll get to them all!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What I'm Listening To Right Now

No, I don't have an iPod with some awesome play list on it. I'm not listening to soothing jazz or anything like that. What I'm listening to is a heavy metal version of "My Favorite Things" as Harry messes around on his guitar. It's pretty good - just a little unexpected.

My Peculiar Family

My peculiar aristocratic title amused me so much that I had to go ahead and provide titles for the whole family. So my children, my husband (who I notice is also discombobulated - that makes us perfect for each other), my brothers, sisters-in-laws, niece, nephews and parents are all properly outfitted with a peculiar handle. And that's as it should be.

The Very Reverend Harry the Undefeated of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndro-

Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Her Excellency Pippi the Surreptitious of Great Leering
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

His Most Serene Highness Lord Adrian the Discombobulated of Leighton Buzzard
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

His Noble Excellency Peter the Indefensible of Witchampton Under Buzzard
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Milady the Right Reverend Roxanna the Undamaged of Yockenthwait Walden
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Imperial Majesty Leo the Capricious of Dicken St Charles
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Milady the Most Honourable Kristen the Ambidexterous of Pigotts Sty
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

His Grace Lord Edward the Edible of Giggleswick on the Naze
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Grand Duchess Patricia the Educated of Westley Waterless
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Earl Timothy the Winsome of Walk upon Water
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Empress Bridget the Winsome of Bumswick by the Hole
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

The Very Reverend Anthony the Larger of Dramble Buzzcock
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Milord Earl Alex the Excited of Durdle Door
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Milord Sir Lord William the Imaginary of Chortling Chesterton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Milady the Right Reverend Anne the Ceaseless of Mellow under Trollness
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

That About Sums it Up

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Her Noble Excellency Christine the Discombobulated of Giggleswick on the Naze
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

I saw this over at Barb's site and had to give it a go. Usually I don't post the results of these things - I just do them and keep the info to myself. This I had to share. I mean "Christine the Discombobulated of Giggleswick" - do they know me? Have they been spying on me?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Cleaning the Garage

Yesterday it was nice out (today it is rainy, but still warm), so I tackled a project that gets neglected too often - the garage. We have a one-car garage. Okay, I'll be perfectly honest - we have a no-car garage - though there was a time, before we had kids, that my husband's old Mustang actually fit in the garage, but the Mustang is gone and so are those days.

I organized the shovels and tools in one corner and the pogo sticks and stilts, I put the baseball stuf in the baseball bag, the tennis stuff in the tennis bag, the hockey stuff in the hockey bag, piled small play equipment in the wagon and swept some of the accumulated debris out. Already it was starting to look better.

Then I looked at the shelves. I don't think those shelves have ever been organized. They become a catch-all spot for all sorts of bizarre things. And most of those things have something to do with my husband - so I can't just go throw stuff away; he needs to do it.

Now, let me just say, my husband does not like to throw things away. I'm not saying he's a pack rat or anything, but, he kind of is (hence the several old computers in our basement).

Whenever I've worked on the garage before my husband has not been home, and the shelves have not gotten their appropriate going over. Yesterday however he was home.

I directed him to the shelves. He agreed there were shelves. And they had things on them. I explained I wanted some of the things off! Some progress was definitely made. We got rid of several empty packages for things; and old door knob, bolts to hold a toilet in place, and he even let me throw away the electric drill that has been sitting on the shelf for ten years in two pieces, with all it's insides exposed. (Yay! That was quite a coup!)

And then there were the bicycle parts. "What are these," I asked.

"Bicycle parts, they connect the handle bars to the body," was the answer.

I thought that over and looked at the six bicycles in our garage. "All our bicycles have their handlebars connected. Why do we have these?"

"They're for a different bicycle."

"Are we ever likely to buy a bicycle that does not have it's handlebar connected?"

I was able to convince him to throw them out. But he kept a bunch of other bicycle parts (I think we could assemble almost a whole bicycle from the parts on the shelves).

And that was as far as we got yesterday. Next I have to work on him to throw out the two Pioneer car radios that don't fit in either of our cars, that are unlikely to fit in any car we will buy in the future, and have tape players which are becoming less essential to music listening with every passing year. But that's a job for another day.

Tuesday's Proverb

But he who commits adultery is a fool; he who would destroy himself does it. A degrading beating will he get, and his disgrace will not be wiped away; For vindictive is the husband's wrath, he will have no pity on the day of vengeance; He will not consider any restitution, nor be satisfied with the greatest gifts. (Proverbs 6:32-35)

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Favorite Parable Meme

Barb at SFO Mom tagged me for this meme. The rules are simple and straightforward:

1. You name your five favorite parables
2. You tag one blogger per parable.
3. It would be nice if you linked back to this post.

I'm sure that as soon as I come up with five and hit publish I'll think of another that I really like, but I'll give it a go:

1. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) -- I particularly like that the father notices him coming from a long way off - meaning that the father has been looking out for him.

2. The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) -- I think part of why I like this has to do with an old Arch book (the title of which escape me right now, but which does not appear to be currently available) which has the vineyard owner having an assistant who is constantly barging in on the vineyard owner while he tries to relax, with the line "it's Hector your helper" - something about that book, and Hector, made it a fun read aloud. -- And I like the story too, of course.

3. The Mustard Seed. (Matthew 13:31-32) - there's just something very reassuring to know that it doesn't take a lot of faith to accomplish things. So, even if we feel that our faith is small, a little goes a long way.

4. The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:4-7) - another reassuring one. God will come looking for us when we're lost. We're never on our own.

5. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) - the quintessential story to demonstrate our duty to our fellow man.

And now to tag: Karen, Ellen, Alice, Patjrsmom, and Anne(my Mom, who just started her own blog this weekend - this will give her a jump start).

A Beautiful Day

Ah - sometimes the weather is just plain old nice. And when it is I like to take advantage of it. This meant that this afternoon I went for a bike ride and then tackled cleaning up the garage some. When the kids got home from school they had a snack and then I kicked them out of the house to go play in the park across the street - homework could wait - it was a nice afternoon!

We're supposed to get a bit of rain over the next several days, so I'm glad I took advantage of the nice weather while I could.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

February Edition of The Edge of the Forest is Up

And you thought February was over! Ha! We still have the February Edition of the Edge of the Forest to enjoy. And Kelly got it finished and posted while it was still February (in her time zone at least).

And directly from her post here is what to expect this month:
So - what are you waiting for - before you know it the the March edition will be up (third week of March) so go read the February edition while you can.