Monday, August 27, 2007

What ARE Those Kids Up To?

Thought I'd update you on what my kids have been doing the past few weeks ...

Oldest son (12) has taken over a small terraced section of our front/backyard (we live on a corner and on a hill) and is creating what he says is a rocket base. Lots of digging, laying in of concrete block and removing grass. He's been asking questions about atomic energy lately.

Middle son (9) is obsessed with Bigfoot. Well, we DO live in the Northwest after all. He knows it's only a legend but he's been busy creating Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) out of various materials. He dressed up in my suede jacket and had me video him running past the camera in the front yard, trying to recreate that famous blurred photo that is supposedly Bigfoot. He cut out big cardboard feet and made prints in the front yard (near the rocket base). And it gets worse ... he's got his little sister pretending to be Little Foot. Oh my.

And youngest kid (6). She's been busy trying to win at the card game solitaire, hard to do when she uses the deck of cards that is missing the 2 of spades. If she loses, she tells everyone that her game is "toast". Her current favorite bath toy is a new, unused rubber fishing lure in the shape of a large anchovy, brown with pretty gold speckles. She spied it at the marine supply not long ago and enjoys watching it wiggle in the bathtub. Ugh!

Lack of summer sun can have an adverse effect on a child's brain. Yep, you heard it here first.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pampered Cows

I found out some interesting news today. We buy our milk at Rite-Aid, a large pharmacy in our area. It is growth hormone-free and we buy it, five gallons at a time, on Tuesdays because on that day, everything in the store is 10% off. I've gotten to know one of the clerks there since he works on Tuesday and he likes to tell me information about the milk that I'm buying. Like how much the price has risen since last month and so on.

Today he told me about the cows. He said that they are bathed twice a day - yes, TWICE a day! Music is piped into the milking area. I meant to ask if they get to hear Mozart (or should that be Moozart?) The lawn on which they graze is not touched by chemicals and, not only that, the grass is manicured. Which brought to mind that scene from Gilligan's Island where the millionaire, Thurston Howell III, is lying on the grass, cutting individual blades with tiny nail scissors while his wive, Lovey, is sitting nearby, babbling. Don't ask me why I remember that scene but whenever I hear of a manicured lawn, that's what I picture. Anyone out there old enough to remember that scene? Or Gilligan's Island, for that matter? I digress ...

After I left the store, I got to thinking - I never get a bath twice a day. Manicured lawn? Yeah, right, it's all we can do to keep the sea of dandelions from growing so tall we lose Carmen amongst them. The piped-in music is possible - I do have speakers in the kitchen. But, really, those cows have it better than me! Then again, I'm not being asked to give up my milk for someone else's children. And I like the fact that the cows are being treated well.

I'll never complain about the rising price of milk again. Not when I'm thinking about those clean cows swaying to the music, being gently milked in a large, air-conditioned barn, painted pink of course. Gazing out the picture windows at the chemical-free lawn. The manicured lawn. Heck, give the cows a manicure, too. Why not.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Writing 101 by Kate

I've been in a "Laura Ingalls Wilder" phase (again) lately, as I've been reading her books to my daughter. I've been analyzing the last two books in this series, "These Happy Golden Years" which was published while she was living and "The First Four Years" which was published posthumously. The stark difference in these two books is that the latter was published exactly as she wrote it, which was on nickel writing pads in rough draft. It was never edited or "spruced up". It merely tells the facts of the first four years of her life long marriage to Almanzo. The contrast in these two books show how Laura truly made pictures when she wrote. Her sister, Mary, became blind as a girl and their Pa told Laura that she had to be eyes for Mary. Mary once told Laura that she "made pictures when she spoke", since she described things in such detail. As I read her work, I definitely see the prairie, the storms, the laughter. "The First Four Years" lacks this element a bit but not completely. I'm sorry she never got the chance to completely finish it. I still love it anyway!

I've been reading these books since I was 9 and I know that her books made an impact on my interest in writing. Lately, I've been looking for ways to spruce up my writing skills. The first thing I thought of was to practice describing something, think of how many ways to describe it and find surprising or interesting ways to describe it. I was walking down our hill at the time and the sky was bright blue and full of big, puffy clouds. I tried to describe the sky and all that was in it. It was hard! Big, puffy clouds is predictable. What else can one say about them? What exact color blue was the sky? And so forth. It was fun and challenging. Try it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

To The Rescue

There was a parade in town. We drive around and around, trying to park. Everyone else is there for the parade, too. Plus who-knows how many tourists. We get out of van, close the doors. Um, where are my keys? Sigh. Oldest son spies keys in van. Dh working in ICU, no use calling him. Get out cell phone to call roadside assistance (AAA). Cell phone is dead. Another sigh. Look for angel - ah, there he is. Scruffy-looking but kind, walking with his young daughter. Pardon me sir, do you have a cell phone I could use ... Yes, he says, I was just getting my phone out of my truck. He kindly dials 800 # for me and AAA is quick and polite. They'll be there within the hour. Sir, may I pay you for this call? Nah!, he says, free minutes on the weekend. Many, many thanks!!! Towing company comes to rescue exactly 1 hour later. Watched parade from 3 blocks up while we waited - kids prefer to play in playground across the street. Thankful for sunscreen and hats. Dh later recommends spare key hidden on vehicle somewhere. I am thankful for angel!

Later that day, I remember ... A few months ago, a lady was lost on our street. I was taking my daughter to swim lessons but I stopped to let this lady use my cell phone, to call the friends she was supposed to meet. She was very gracious. We were late to swim lessons but I explained to my daughter that helping people was an important thing, even if it made us late. While watching my daughter swim, I wondered if the lady ever found her friends. Driving home from the pool, we passed by a group of women and there she was! I stopped and she saw me, ran over telling her friends that this was the nice lady who helped her. I was so happy I could help and glad she found her friends.

This particular circle is complete. Or is it another link in the chain. I've been an angel to the rescue and, now, an angel was sent to help me. I pray that the Lord will send an angel to help that kind man with the phone, should he need an angel someday. You know he will, eventually.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Lessons At 12

My oldest recently turned 12, got glasses and is scheduled for braces. And his voice cracked for the first time (that we've noticed) a few days ago. That's a lot of change in a short time. In addition to all this, he's also had to learn how to deal with various disappointing events, also in the past two weeks. Nothing really major. Some of these lessons he dealt with on his own. The others, well, he needed Mom to hold him tight and let him cry. It's been interesting to watch how he deals with each incident. How badly I want to make things go his way but, of course, I know the great benefit of learning how to handle change, how to react when things don't go as you expected, what to do when things don't go your way. These are important lessons that he needs to learn. He's always been a bit on the sensitive side, which is good most of the time as long as there is balance. Be tough when you need to, soft when necessary. How I wish I knew if I was doing the best job I can to help him learn these lessons. Being a girl and raised with nothing but girls, that's all I know! But boys - I'm still clueless. I'm the one he's with most of the time so I know that sensitive side comes from me. And I'm not that great at being tough. I guess we'll learn together. I certainly can tell when a disappointment is worth crying over or just a shrug and go on with life. This I CAN teach! But then, I also don't want to make him feel stupid for being upset about something that I think isn't worth it. Oh, gosh. I could go on and on, couldn't I? Anyway, life goes on and we do the best we can. And with lots of prayer, I can help my first born navigate the rough and tumble world of adolescence.