Thursday, May 29, 2008
Yesterday, I heard a repeated chirping sound and noticed a small bird on the ground near the windows. I was surprised that it didn't fly away when I approached the window to look at it. So, today, I wasn't as shocked when my hubby said that my MS had caught a bird in his butterfly net.
The first picture is actually the last picture I took. He had caught the bird, with daddy's supervision, and admired it in the net for a time. Then, we told him to let it go near where they had found it. Of course, he couldn't help but head back there twenty minutes later to see if it was still there. He found it again and we followed it over to these low branches of trees, where I managed to get a nice close-up shot.
Both the little boys were thrilled with this adventure. YS wanted to reach in the net and touch it. ES couldn't believe that MS had caught a bird in his net. We explained that it was probably a baby bird that had fallen out of the nest before fully learning to fly. I'm sure the trauma my sons inflicted with their curiosity has encouraged this little bird to get the hang of flying.
Just another reason we consider this home to be a paradise for our boys.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Then, last night, I headed to Testosterhome's site and saw that she is making up a summer reading list for her sons. Every year, I've been able to cajole my ES into joining the library summer reading program. Last year, I was thrilled to learn that summer readers could earn a ticket to Indiana Beach (one of ES's favorite amusement parks in this area, and one of my favorite parks because you can actually pay a small walk-on fee and accompany your family without riding any rides - very helpful the two summers when I was pregnant recently). I'm hoping they will offer that again, because that is REAL INCENTIVE in my son's eyes (especially since Indiana Beach is introducing a new roller coaster this summer).
So far, we have had a great start to our summer. We were blessed with a visit from the paternal grandparents for the Memorial Day weekend and my boys soaked up their love and attention. My hubby and I, actually headed out for dinner alone in celebration of my birthday (we can't even remember the last time we had that option) and found a Mexican restaurant where the food was fantastic. We had been big fans of Eduardo's back in DeKalb, IL, so it was nice to find somewhat of an equivalent here.
Before they returned home, my mother-in-law gave my two older sons money for a Blizzard at Dairy Queen, so I wasn't too surprised when they approached me at breakfast this morning to ask if we could go to Dairy Queen today. I said, "Alas, I have other plans for you. But first we must get this place straightened up, so we can head out." I told my ES the plans (which involved using some Chuck-E-Cheese birthday tokens he had received on-line back in the beginning of May - I was worried they might expire before we got a chance to use them) and he immediately kicked into action.
My MS was putzing all the way. Finally, he only had one task left (putting all the costumes back in the two costume boxes, because he had strewn them all over my room, thank you very much!), but he just wouldn't move. So, I put the lunches, birthday coupon and report card in the van, loaded the other boys and said, "I guess you don't want to go to CEC." It was as if I had lit a stick of dynamite. He will never again be able to tell me that he cannot pick up his room! He did the job in record time!
We had a wonderful time (despite the fact that I struggled a bit trying to keep up with a 3 yr. old and 1 yr. old who both want to wander off in opposite directions) and didn't spend a cent. I should add that we still had a cup of tokens left over from our last visit, but the extra 35 free tokens were a help! My ES saves his tickets for big purchases (I mean the ones which require 10,000 tickets) but my MS loves to get just a little something. He was quite happy leaving with a small spider and a small lizard.
We ate lunch in the van, went grocery shopping and headed home for naps. ES had a friend over for a few hours during nap-time and I enjoyed the quiet. Then, we all headed outside to play and wait for Daddy to return home from work. The boys love to see who can be the first one to spot Daddy's black car approaching.
Finally, a black car loomed. However, our neighbors, who live in a beautiful home across the street and have horses in their pasture, also have a black car. So, the boys groaned when the car turned into their driveway instead of ours. Our neighbor got out of the car and went to get her mail. Then, she began heading our way.
What a delightful visit we had. She apologized profusely for not coming over to introduce herself sooner (especially when she discovered that ES had been through two school years here) but I thought she shouldn't feel badly at all about it. They have grown children and go to and from work. Her husband had come over to help us plow out the driveway at the first horrendous snow-fall and that was a god-send because we didn't have sufficient tools to plow out the snow and ice then.
I have to say, I felt immediately comfortable with her. She was so easy to talk to and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. It was fun to discover she has a son who lives in London (yes, you know how that makes me feel, people!). I introduced her to my boys, who were all on the trampoline at that moment. My ES was polite and my MS was desperate to tell her everything about us, but my YS merely continued to play and allowed Mom a chance to have a little visit with a neighbor (something I will never take lightly again - having lived in the country!). When my hubby came home, he chatted with her as well. I am so glad she came over. It really brightened my day (a good one, already) and made for a spectacular start to our summer!
A tiny tinge of guilt - I could have easily gone over and introduced myself to her one day, as well, but didn't! Perhaps, I will make her a batch of my famous (o.k., it is only famous in DeKalb, IL) banana-chocolate-chip bread, to let her know how much I enjoyed meeting her!
Monday, May 26, 2008
I had been thinking that I would like to find some thing or some way to honor Amelia as we attend this celebration in Janesville. Michelle Kemper Brownlow saved the day! She offered a 24 hour window of time when you could order one of her hand-crafted namesakes. I just happened to visit her blog at the right moment and got my order in. The really neat thing about her offer is that 1/2 of the proceeds go to pediatric cancer. So, not only does this gift for Amelia honor her, but it also gives back to others who are fighting the pediatric cancer battle.
A while back, I received the namesake in the mail. It is perfect. The colors and princess theme fit Amelia to a T! Plus, Michelle added the scripture reference which their family has claimed throughout Amelia's leukemia battle. It might be the most special gift I've ever given. I took a few photos on my digital, but kept putting off posting it on my blog (I'm not that great of a photographer). We have been unable to access AOL for a while (I wish I could blame Comcast like Cardiogirl, but I can't!), so I haven't been logging on as often.
Imagine my surprise, when I logged on last night to find a picture of Amelia's namesake (Michelle decided to tackle it first, since it was needed by a June date as a gift) on Michelle's blog. Plus, she did a video explaining her passion behind this project and talked briefly about Amelia's namesake. Once she completes the first 14 orders, she will do another brief window of ordering.
Michelle also mentions her new site, called 4-the-kids, which is really worth checking out. If you visit this site, you can also see Amelia's namesake in the section about meeting the artists. Be sure to check out the stories of some of the cancer warriors (like Coleman - who is home and doing well after his stem cell transplant, despite some concerns over the spot in the scan still showing). And, if you want to do something to help fight pediatric cancer, without having to purchase a gift or spend a dime, please sign the petition at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/CureChildhoodCancer. If my link doesn't work, there is a link on the 4-the-kids site, too. They are hoping for a million signatures. Last I had heard, they had only secured 4,000. Please take a moment and sign the petition.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
How about we plan to take a cruise on the Queen Victoria in May of 2019? I'm assuming this departs from England (so I guess it will include another trip to England, oh goodie!). The promotional web-site (which I'm too lazy to figure out how to link to at the moment) boasts of quite a few amenities. There is a theatre which I am sure I would want to attend. I wouldn't need the pub or the champagne bar, since I'm a teetotaler (very Victorian of me, don't you think!) Let's see, this will be 11 years hence, so I will definitely need the fitness center and pool (for lap swimming), but we'll see if I still have energy and stamina for that then. Knowing me, I will probably devote all of my time to the 6,000 book, 2-story library (maybe, it will be a 7,000 book library by then) and the Internet centre (will I still be blogging then??).
I'm sure we couldn't afford this trip now (cue wry laugh), but that is OK because the QV (I'm assuming it is called that since the Queen Elizabeth vessel is called the QE or QEII - you can tell I only know that from watching Keeping Up Appearances) offers NO BABYSITTING! Can you believe it? You want a nice luxury cruise, but there is no one to keep an eye on your spry little ones. They do, however, offer supervised youth programs and by 2019, ES will be on his own, MS will be 14 and YS will be 12. No problem, right?
Plus, the site I saw offered teacher's rates (I didn't really check out the discount since I'm not presently teaching and there's really no point in looking)! Perhaps, I will be back to teaching by then! Perhaps I will have published several novels by then and can afford to treat myself. Perhaps instead of taking my family, I will go with my cousin, Karin! That sounds like a treat! Perhaps I will set aside my birthday checks from now until then and see how much money has accrued. Hopefully, nobody will be celebrating the anniversary of my birthday then!
Friday, May 23, 2008
I chose to secure Shopaholic Ties the Knot on audiobooks at the library, even though I purchased a copy of this book last summer at a garage sale (along with three other Sophie Kinsella books). I really enjoy listening to the narrator. I am amazed at how well she reverts back and forth between British and American accents throughout this book. I know that if I ever read one of the Shopaholic books myself, I will probably hear the narrator's voice in my head.
This particular novel follows Becky Bloomwood on her journey from engagement to her wedding day. Although it only covers about a six or seven month span of time, it is a remarkably rocky journey full of typical Becky Bloomwood blunders. Her mother wishes to play an active role in planning a wedding to be held in her hometown with a reception in her own backyard (or garden, as they would call it). Her fiance's American mother then offers to finance an elaborate wedding at the Plaza Hotel. She initially refuses, knowing it would kill her mother, but she finds herself gazing at the Plaza layout and envisioning the grandiosity and she decides to postpone making a decision about which wedding she will go with.
I actually thought I had the solution figured out because there is a minor character from the previous books who shows up again. But all my suppositions were wrong. Sophie Kinsella's ending was fabulous. Truly brilliant! And I think with this novel, Kinsella's characters move beyond caricatures and develop more depth. I will happily check to see if our library has the next in the series on audiobooks. If not, I'll read it with a British accent in my head (when I returned home after living in London for 7 months, I did notice a touch of an accent, but it faded quite quickly).
I'd love to have a conversation with Sarah, from www.britgalusa.com, since she is a Brit who has moved to a remote area in Oklahoma. I have loved viewing her blog over the past several weeks. If you want to learn fun British expressions, via her "Brit-Word-of-the-Day" or view her incredible collection of handbags (one featured each day, I think) or hear what a Brit might miss while living in the US or what she thinks we do better (believe it or not - drive-through banking was her recent rave), you must pop-round to her little roundabout!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Let's see. After being put to bed at 8:30, MS was still up and coming out and getting in trouble clear until 10:30. So, I wasn't really ready for my morning to begin at 7, but that is when YS has been getting up lately (even though he didn't fall asleep until 9:30 - groan). From the moment my MS came out of his room at 8 this morning, it has been a VERY LONG DAY!
While lying on the floor near the boys, MS kicked me in the bosom. OUCH! If ES had been home, I'm sure he would have offered to kick MS where he might learn how painful such a kick can be. Thankfully, he was at school (but only through tomorrow, then we throw him back into the mix).
Then, while trying to give YS a cuddle, MS grabbed at us in jealousy and managed to produce a gaping scratch on my left cheek, which looks as if I was knifed! Later this morning, I noticed a similar scratch on YS's leg (I'm going to have to cut that boy's fingernails before it looks like we've all wrestled a cougar).
Our microwave finally died on us (my husband has had that dinosaur for twenty-some years - it was a Hotpoint - not even a big name-brand - and his grandma bought it for him in K-mart when was in college) yesterday. So, this morning I had the privilege of trying to find a new one with the two little boys in tow (and one trying to make the transition from two naps to one afternoon nap). There was the usual irritability while shopping, but MS pulled it up a notch by throwing a fit in one store, where he saw something Spiderman-related, and expected me to buy it. It is always fun to listen to his whines, followed by the glare and the hostile expression, "You, MOM YOU!!!"
We came home without success and the boys wanted chicken-and-stars soup for lunch. Mid-way through, MS felt the call of nature and had to leave the table. So, I ended up putting YS down for his nap and waiting for MS to finish, so I could change him and have him finish his lunch and head for his nap. I had cleared everything away but MS's bowl and was bored waiting, so I began to read my Wheaton Alumni magazine.
Alas, I got too absorbed! I looked up to see a chocolate-mustached mouth. He was grinning and trying to wipe his hands and mouth with the dish rag. I asked where the marks on his mouth came from (thinking, "that little scamp probably ate the mini-Snickers bar that hubby had left on the middle of the table yesterday!"). He replied sweetly, "Chocolate. I didn't finish my soup, but I wanted some bessert! (don't ask me why, but this is one of the few words he doesn't say clearly)" I head into the dining room to see the Snickers bar still on the table.
After a confused look, he points to the special box at the end of the table. The special box my husband gave to me on Mother's Day. The special box which originally contained three small truffles and three large (2 in. x 2 x 2) peanut butter cups from the specialty chocolate shop nearby. The special box which cost hubby $14.89. (This, I know, because I gave hubby a coupon for $3 off a $15 purchase, and after he gave me the chocolates, he sheepishly handed the coupon back and said, "it only came to $14.89." I know I was looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I had to say, "surely they had a ten cent candy in the place!").
He ate my last peanut butter cup! I tried to explain to him why that was just WRONG! It would be like me taking his brand new Spiderman toy a few days after his birthday! Just WRONG!
After a nap (at least that was successful), he proceeded to bicker and whine with ES until dinner. At dinner Daddy kept reminding MS that he couldn't go outside until he finished a certain portion of his meal, so he threw his straw, full of strawberry smoothie, across the table at Daddy, scattering pink spots of liquid all over the tablecloth, chairs, Daddy's white shirt, and who-knows-where-else! Daddy handed down the sentence, "no playing outside with Daddy after dinner and he will spend the time in his room." MS proceeded to throw a fit. I tried to calm him down and remind him that his poor choices led to the punishment. He bit my cheek! He didn't get to finish dinner.
Before finishing the supper dishes, hubby came running in with YS. They had a great time outside together, but YS fell and busted open his upper lip. So, with the excitement of bloody boy, belligerent boy came out of his room.
So, I say, "What a day this has been!" And, again, put the two little guys to bed at 8:50, but MS didn't fall asleep until 10:30. Still, before I go to bed, I should say, at least he amused me with two funny expressions today!
We often tease him and say, "Now who do you think did this? I think it starts with a T and rhymes with --------, it's T---------." So, he looked at me today and said, "Who did this? It starts with an M and rhymes with bomb-a, iiiittt'sss Momma!"
Then, I was complaining about how long the dishes were taking to wash up. He suggested, "Why don't you sing the Spiderman song? It will make your work go faster!" Now, I know he got this from the t.v., because I remember hearing it on something he was watching yesterday or the day before. There is clearly a reason God makes 'em so cute when they are this age or they might not make it to another age!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I'm always on the lookout for books to tempt my ES. Since the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books were such a hit for his birthday, I thought I should keep my eye out for other books with graphic appeal. So, I snatched up this new comic anthology, called Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an UNPLEASANT Age, edited by Ariel Schrag. I was hoping it would be something I could leave lying around and find ES peeking in the cover and cracking up. He hasn't noticed it and now that I have read it, I'll put it in the bag and take it back to the library.
It is definitely an accurate portrayal of the angst of the middle-school years. I appreciated that the comics were from a variety of cartoonists. However, I didn't think it was something I would want my middle-schooler to be reading. It was full of swearing and vulgarities. I'm sure there are those who would say that the cursing is realistic for the lives of middle-schoolers today. It may be true that my son encounters cursing, but I wouldn't want to pass a book onto him that was full of it (unless the value of the story really outweighed the cursing - an example would be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and I'm not ready to encourage him to read that yet, either).
I think the cartoons didn't have enough value or take-away to make me want to encourage my son to read them. There was no lesson to be learned. It was merely a faithful account of the many difficulties pre-teens face when navigating the waters of middle school. For adults who wish to look back on those years and remember, it might be a fun diversion, just not something I'm going to recommend to any middle-schoolers I know.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I stumbled upon Gloria Whelan's writings in the same way I stumble upon other great writers - accidentally. I was working as an individual assistant in a 5th grade classroom with Mrs. Brown. She, as I have mentioned before, graciously allowed me to do almost all of the read-alouds for the entire school year. I have to say, if I could get a job just doing that, I'd do it, no matter how low the pay. I get such a charge out of leading kids into a good book and then building up a rapport with them based upon the story. To see their enthusiasm mount as we get deeper into a book thrills my heart.
Mrs. Brown had been on a safari in Africa the summer prior to this particular school year and she planned to share a power-point on her experience with her students. The students were busy creating their own power-points (my student and her partner presented a fun one on cheetahs) and we wanted a read-aloud which would mesh with these plans. I began searching for appropriate books to share. Around the same time, a new book showed up at our library, Gloria Whelan's Listening for Lions.
I absolutely loved the book, but didn't end up using it as a read-aloud, only because the school year schedule required a shorter length of time. We chose a book of short stories about Africa and they worked out well, but I did feel bad that I hadn't been able to share Listening for Lions with my beloved 5th graders. However, one of the other perks to my assistant position was that I often sat at the front of the classroom monitoring and reading during tests and silent work. Students would see me reading and enjoying what I read and, often, they would ask about whatever it was I was reading at the moment. I'm hoping some of them went on to read Listening for Lions.
A few weeks ago, I was at the library looking for another E.B. White book to begin with my MS (he is on an E.B. White kick at the moment - we are listening to Trumpet of the Swan). While in the W's, I noticed a few small books by Gloria Whelan. They were published by William B. Eerdman's, so I wondered if they had a religious slant.
I decided to try one entitled, A Time to Keep Silent, which was originally published in 1979. It was very similar to Whelan's other book. It featured a young, female protagonist (daughter of a pastor, instead of a missionary, this time), struggling with a familial loss and facing a move and difficult decisions. In this book, Clair Lothrop has just lost her mother and has stopped talking (again, elective mutism has always intrigued me). Her father decides to leave their affluent suburban church and begin a mission in the woods of northern Michigan. Despite her silence, she manages to make a friend in Dorrie, a local girl trying to survive life with and without her alcoholic father.
I am now anxious to go back and read more Whelan books. This one, published earlier, wasn't as finely tuned as the other, but it was an equally enjoyable read. It made me wonder about Gloria Whelan's life, now that I have read two books featuring young girls (PK's, no less), who after a move, grow through their relationship with another individual. I tried to search for a biography on-line, but only came up with information that she has worked as a social worker (among other jobs) and moved from Detroit to a cabin in the northern woods of Michigan. Thankfully, she has written many books, so I will have lots of opportunities to explore her writings.
I would heartily recommend both of these books to any young girl in grades 4-8. I would especially recommend both of them to my niece, Paige, who is a PK and has moved a time or two in her life! (Of course, I'd recommend them to my nieces who haven't moved as much, as well!) Neither of the books are overtly religious or preachy, but both of them are effective at teaching lessons about moral and ethical dilemmas, our choices and their consequences, and the value of relationships for personal and emotional growth.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
In the past six months, I've been worried that two of my favorite card games had been lost in that flood. I tried finding replacements on e-bay. The first game, called "Authors" was easily found, but I didn't buy another set because the old one held such nostalgic value (it was the deck I grew up playing with my siblings and mother) and I still hoped to find it. The second game, was impossible. I had purchased it at the Tate Gallery in London over twenty years ago. I didn't remember the name, but even searching the Tate's site didn't bring any results.
This past Sunday, my MS brought me a book called Out for the Count and asked me to read it to him. My ES had always loved this book (it was one we purchased from the discard shelf at the library in DeKalb) and we used to play the game on the inside cover and we called it "The Game at the End of the Book." I had a small baggie with extra game pieces and dice, which I kept near the games. When we moved, my husband packed up all the games and toys from my ES's room and then unpacked them when he arrived at our IN house (the boys and I remained in DeKalb and then went to CBLI - how's that for getting out of the work of unpacking!).
On Sunday, in searching for the baggie with extra game pieces, I discovered a box labeled "card games." Makes sense, right? Well, there were my two beloved card games. I had always kept them separate. Thanks to my hubby's organizational skills and my searching, these two lost games are now FOUND!
The authors game has always been one of my favorites. The deck contains four books from 11 authors and the goal is to collect complete sets of authors by asking other players if they hold the cards you require. The Tate Gallery card game is similar and is called "Quartet." This deck contains four paintings from 13 artists. My ES had loved playing "Quartet" with me because some of the paintings had names and images he felt were risque. He enjoyed asking "Do you have David Hockney's Man in Shower in Beverly Hills?" or "Do you have Pablo Picasso's Reclining Nude with Necklace? "
When my ES discovered my MS and I playing the game at the end of the book, he wanted to play too! So, he joined us mid-way and when I won, he asked if we could play again without MS. I think we played three or four games that night and I won every one. OWNED! ES tried to say it was merely "Mother's Day Luck." So, he appealed for a re-match the following night. Again, I won each game played. Finally, on Wednesday night, after several games, he won. I'm glad I can beat him in some games anyway.
I have left the three games on the kitchen table (yes, clutter, I know) this whole week. We have continued to play them. I grew up playing games with my siblings, so I am looking forward to more opportunities to play games with these boys!
Before I close, ES begged me to share his recent stats from Guitar Hero (O.K., he is very good at that game, and he does love to boast about it!). So here are some photos of his 100% endeavors. He wanted me to post video, but I'll spare you that (it takes too long to upload).
I may not be well-known in our rural enclave, but my MS certainly is! Last week, when we headed off to the library, he was dressed in his Power Ranger costume. He was saving the Spiderman costume for the next day because he wanted to wear it to school (parent's day out). We had just entered and were dropping off our returns in the return slot, when a librarian poked her head around the corner and whispered to me, "Is that Spiderman??"
Apparently, the librarians had a special gift for him. They presented him with a large stuffed Spiderman 2 doll. I was so thankful that he didn't pipe up with, "I already have one like that, only the blue is lighter." Instead, he thanked them profusely and told them that he wouldn't let go of it until he got home. He explained that he would have to put it down to eat lunch, but promised to take it to nap-time.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Jordan Sonnenblick, author of Notes from the Midnight Driver, came up with the idea for this book after his eighth-grade honors English students tormented a substitute with a paper-ball fight. When he returned to the classroom, he required the students to write apology letters to their parents. What he received instead, was a fistful of excuse letters.
In Notes from the Midnight Driver, Alex Gregory, a normally decent kid gets drunk, steals his mother's car and ends up decapitating a lawn gnome. As punishment, a judge assigns community service at a local nursing home. Alex is paired with a lively, crotchety old man named Solomen Lewis. As the hours are served, an unlikely friendship develops. Alex struggles with his parents' troubled relationship and a changing relationship with his long-time best friend, Laurie.
This is an excellent book to recommend for pre-teens and teens because the characters were believable and achieved realistic growth. Both the adult and teen characters learn lessons. It is a splendid tale of friendship and forgiveness, with a bit of yiddish, music and romance thrown into the mix.
I do wish the author had been more furtive with some of the details. I felt like I figured out an aspect of the plot too early. And, I think there could have been stronger character development in the relationship between Alex and Laurie. Still, I look forward to reading Sonnenblick's first book, entitled Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie, and other future books he may write.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Here are the authors of books for adults:
- Mitch Albom
- Jeffrey Archer (I've only read his short stories)
- Maeve Binchy
- Dr. Paul Brand
- Emily Bronte
- Bill Bryson
- Pearl S. Buck
- Frederick Buechner
- G.K. Chesterton
- Ted Dekker
- Christopher de Vinck
- Charles Dickens
- Annie Dillard
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Theodore Dreiser
- Daphne DuMaurier
- Kim Edwards (The Memory Keeper's Daughter)
- T.S. Eliot
- Elisabeth Elliot
- Leif Enger (Peace Like a River)
- Joseph F. Girzone
- John Grisham
- Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime)
- Tim Hansel
- Thomas Hardy
- Torey Hayden
- Nick Hornby
- Khaled Housseni
- Victor Hugo
- Karen Kingsbury
- Sophie Kinsella
- Anne Lamott
- C.S. Lewis
- Brendan Manning
- Catherine Marshall
- James Michener
- Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind)
- Frank Peretti
- Jodi Picoult
- Edgar Allen Poe
- Francine Rivers
- Anita Shreve
- Nicholas Sparks
- Alexander McCall Smith
- John Steinbeck
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- A.W. Tozer
- William Trevor (The Story of Lucy Gault)
- Mark Twain
- Edith Wharton
- Philip Yancy
Here are the authors of books for children:
- Nicholas Allen (A Pig's Book of Manners)
- Tedd Arnold
- Natalie Babbitt (Tuck Everlasting)
- Blue Balliett
- Philip Beard (Dear Zoe)
- Judy Blume
- John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)
- Betsy Byars
- Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Gus Clarke
- Beverly Cleary
- Andrew Clements
- Roald Dahl
- Kate DiCamillo
- John R. Erickson
- Eleanor Estes (The Hundred Dresses)
- John D. Fitzgerald
- Louise Fitzhugh
- Jean Craighead George (My Side of the Mountain)
- Deborah Guarino (Is Your Mama a Llama?)
- Carl Hiaasen
- Jeff Kinney
- Kate Klise
- Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)
- Madeleine L'Engle
- Astrid Lindgren
- Lois Lowery
- Mercer Mayer
- Katherine Paterson
- Richard Peck
- H.A. Rey
- Cynthia Rylant
- J.K. Rowling
- Louis Sachar
- Graham Salisbury
- Dr. Seuss
- David Shannon
- Shel Silverstein
- Donald Sobol
- Eileen Spinelli
- Chris Van Allsburg
- Wendelin Van Draanen
- Bernard Waber
- Michael P. Waite (The Building Christian Character Series)
- Gloria Whelan (Listening for Lions)
- E.B. White
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Debbie Wiles
- Gene Zion
I do still have hope for him. He received two books by Jeff Kinney for his birthday from his younger siblings. At first, he felt that they were books and began to grumble. But, when he opened them, he was actually thrilled! Yah for good books and double yah for good authors!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The key lesson I came away with, all those years ago, was that God has a purpose for every life and in particular, God had a purpose in allowing my life to continue instead of ending on that fateful day when it, by all means, could have. In the beginning, it was incredibly inspiring. God wanted me to continue living. God had something important He wanted me to do, so He left me here to do it.
But, I have to admit, as the years have passed, this story hasn't always felt inspirational. Sometimes that purpose has felt like an expectation unfulfilled. I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy. I have wondered, "Am I accomplishing all that God desired when He chose to give me a second shot at my life?" I have been prone to line my life up against others and ask whether my life bears enough meaning.
Yet, in the back of my mind, I do fully believe that God has a purpose for my life and for every life that He brings into being. As I have said before, if one of my children had been born with some physical or mental disability, I would have still considered their life to be precious and valuable. I would have cherished their existence and would have, doubtless, grown and learned much through their very being and my role as a mother to that child.
Tonight, while visiting Dace's blog I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a man born with no arms or legs. He has inspired many people with his story. He is further evidence that God has a purpose for every life and that purpose isn't really dependent upon circumstances changing or improving. The YouTube video of Nick Vujicic is six minutes long. If you would rather view a shorter piece, I found an ABC news video which is only two minutes long (I'm sorry I didn't get to see the 20/20 piece back in March). Take your pick, but take a look, and never doubt that God has a plan and a purpose for your life. The tricky part is, sometimes, finding it.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I highly recommend the book, even though it did make me feel like a horrible loser of a parent because I noticed all the myriad of things I have done and am still doing wrong when it comes to training my children in their sleep habits. I sincerely hope that we can get this ship back on course and "leap into dreamland" more effectively, as Bear-in-the-Big-Blue-House says (yes, I have even resorted to searching for sleep-encouraging videos at the library) I'll keep you posted. Until then, good night, and sleep tight!
Monday, May 5, 2008
My husband tells me that the last time I headed out for the evening, they all went out and rode the go-kart. He even let my ES take the YS out. Boy, is that brave! I was pregnant when ES saw the go-kart at a garage sale and convinced my husband to pay 2/3 of the price. I have to admit, there were times when I really wanted to drive it, but I waited until the spring after YS was born. It is terribly bumpy, so I would have been foolish to attempt it during the pregnancy.
Here are two recent photos of the little guys, too. I am so thrilled that the weather has allowed us to get out more now. I find the winters so long, trapped inside with two little stir-crazy boys. Of course, being outside is a bit stressful because the baby is at that curious age where you have to watch him every moment to make sure he is not eating bugs, rocks, dirt or sand. He also noticed MS walking on the stone wall which surrounds our driveway on one side. So, last week, when I wasn't paying close enough attention, he managed to toddle to the middle of the wall and then fell over the side. I was horrified, but he seemed to be o.k. after the tears subsided.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
I imagined myself driving to the school Friday morning to address each of the 6th grade homerooms and explain that the party was not going to happen. I imagined 100 kids storming our house and lawn and me, calling 9-1-1 in the background, hoping the police could contain the crowds of middle-school students expecting a romping good time. I imagined my husband losing it and going ballistic on my son for assuming he could pass out an undetermined number of invitations. I imagined injuries.
Your comments really made me step back and see this for the opportunity that it was. I knew that I would have responded differently if the same scenario had played out back in IL. For one thing, I worked in my son's school, so I knew almost every kid in his grade level. It wouldn't have been quite so daunting to contemplate. But, then, I began to think about what people were saying about looking at it as a chance to meet his friends.
My husband had the day off work on Friday, so he was able to help us get things prepared. We looked at each other and laughed when it began to rain around noon. While the little boys napped, my husband moved the cars out of our garage and cleaned it. He brought out chairs and a table and a foosball table. He laid down plastic to cover the carpeting in the room off the garage. I frosted the cake and brought up the cooler.
The bag of ice, purchased at Walmart, made me laugh. The bag read, "Healthier than Home-made!" O.K., how in the world is store-bought ice healthier than home-made ice?? Both are made with H2O!
I was thankful that my ES was gracious enough to allow my MS to wear his Spiderman suit (something I had warned MS would not be allowed if ES was uncomfortable with that). The guests began arriving at 5:20, and the total count only reached 13. They were having a great time, despite the wet ground. They jumped on the trampoline, rode skateboards and rollerblades, and talked on their cell phones. My two little ones were thrilled to have all those bigger kids around. MS talked to everyone, and settled on one girl, whom he dubbed "B----'s girlfriend," but ended up calling his own girlfriend.
I don't think my ES appreciated my desire to meet and get to know all of his friends. He kept asking, "Are you going to hang out here the whole time?" I merely said I was keeping an eye on the little guys while they played and they would go in to eat dinner soon. But, I did stay out when they went in for dinner. Finally, my ES decided to lead everyone on a walk in the woods.
I managed to get a bite and put candles on the cake, before two girls returned with an injury. Apparently, one girl was up on someone's shoulders and fell off, losing her shoe and landing on a stick. The cut wasn't too bad. We washed it and bandaged it and by then, two boys had returned to check on the girls. They hashed this plan to trick the others and say that the injured girl had to head to the hospital. The girls hid under the quarter-pipe and the boys broke the story.
By the time the larger group returned, it had started to pour. The other kids bought the story (unbelievably) and while a bunch were jumping on the trampoline, in the rain, the two girls snuck into the house. When I took out the cake, the girls headed out the front door and back into the garage, telling everyone that the mom had dropped them off.
Here is a photo of my ES blowing out his candles (MS actually blew them out the minute I had them lit, so I had to explain the process and relight them).
Then, we got a nice group shot.
My husband put the little boys to bed and I hung out talking with the kids. It was nice to get to know some of them whom I have corresponded with through instant messaging when they were trying to connect with my son before. They did break a few things (a squirt gun, the little boys' sand table and a skateboard) - the boys were definitely being hard on things - but I was pleased that they didn't break the trampoline (despite a repeated trend of crowding everyone on it after I had asked them to keep it to 5 at a time).
By 10 p.m., all the other kids had been picked-up and the sleepover began. It was a good thing that I was on party patrol and my husband took parenting patrol. He was quite exasperated by the time we were all in for the night. The little boys don't go down easily and had given him a hard time.
Then, he noticed that his wedding ring was missing. You know how I feel about him removing his wedding ring when he takes out his wallet and cell phone. He had placed them on a table in the room off the garage. I headed to the little boys' room to find MS still awake. Thankfully, our hunch was correct. MS had taken the ring off the table and put it in his Batman slipper. Praise God, it was still there! Perhaps now, my hubby will take better care of it? I'm not really counting on it, though.
Even with the frantic ring search, I would say that we ALL had a good time. The cake was delicious and the kids only consumed half of it. I didn't mind staying up a while with the sleepover, since I'm usually up late. It poured all through the night, but by today the ground was dry and ES was able to invite another friend over. They rode the go-kart and had a bon-fire. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday weekend for my son!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
At first, he wanted the party to be on Saturday night. Then, one particular girl couldn't come on Saturday, so he switched it to Friday. Then, my husband logged on and saw that the forecast was for rain. Monday, he still wasn't ready to think about invitations. Finally, he decided he would just call the individuals (that makes it sound like a small number, doesn't it???)
Last night, we convinced him that, due to the weather forecast and lack of firm invitations, we should switch the party to next Friday. This morning, he calls from school to beg to put it back to this Friday. Apparently, there is a big walk-a-thon going on next Friday night and everyone will be attending that. He doesn't want to have nobody show up for his party. On the spot, I said, "I don't know. I guess so. We'll have to confirm it with dad, though."
I love it how pre-teens leave out certain bits of information when dealing with parents (I have a feeling this is typical). When he arrived home from school, I informed him that his dad wasn't thrilled with the quick switch and fully expected his room to be immaculate when he came home from work. He accused us of not wanting him to have a party or have a good time to celebrate his birthday. Then, he pulled the "everybody else gets to have a big party." I reminded him that we weren't ever planning on a big party - just a few guys and girls. He finally drops the full scenario of the phone call.
He and his friend, Matt, were in the school office together to make the plea. When I tentatively agreed, they decided to make up invitations there in the office. They wrote down details on a piece of paper and made TWENTY copies! What were the details? Party at B------'s house, address, Friday 5-9:30. Oh joy!
There is an 80% chance of rain. ES keeps saying, "Yes, but weathermen are always wrong." We shall see. I can imagine 20 kids passing the invitations on to 20 more kids. I have visions of 30 kids showing up, traipsing through our house with muddy shoes, running in and out of the house to jump on the trampoline in the rain, spilling pop on the carpet, etc. I'm sure this idea took root a few months ago, when he attended that classmate's boy-girl party (didn't I remember how communication was a problem with the details on that party as well???).
So, tonight I purchased a few more bags of chips, cans of pop, and a cake mix. I tried to search for a clearanced cake. Our Wal-mart in IL, used to have a rack at the back of the store with a sign which read "OOPS, we over-baked," holding baked goods marked down 40%. I couldn't find the rack, so I asked a worker, "Do you have a rack where you have marked down bakery items? The "oops, we over-baked" section?"
The worker looked at me as if I'd gone off my rocker! "If we over-baked it, I'm sure we'd have to just throw it out."
I tried to explain the sign above the rack at my old Wal-mart. Again, appalled, "We wouldn't sell over-baked items."
Finally, I said, "I mean they've baked too many items and now are trying to sell the extra bits at a reduced price!"
At last, recognition. "Oh, the 40%-off-cart! That is only out in the mornings until 4 p.m."
"Thanks, anyway." Groan.
Well, the cake is made. I will frost it tomorrow. I will bake up a huge batch of pizza rolls. I will pour chips into bowls. I will try to keep little boys out of the way and still manage to get them to bed by 8:30. ES had better do his part and re-inform his friends that this shindig is only from 6-9. And if not, well, I'm sure we're all going to learn a valuable lesson in communication through this whole fiasco. Let's hope that at least someone has a good time in the mix. Though, I'm doubting it will be me!