Gearing Up for the Storm

Today the littles and I went to their class at the Go Fish Education Center and learned a lot about the weather.  One of the things they made there was a “foldable” with four different categories–they wrote the pertinent information for each one on the inside.

When discussing thunderstorms, the teacher shared about things we can do to be safe in the midst of one.  Things like don’t stay in the pool or in a boat, get inside, and…..

unplug important things around the house.

Then the young woman teaching the class shared that we probably don’t do that as much as we used to, what with having surge protectors and all.

But it was too late.  That image, all those memories, they came flooding back, quick and hard.  The unplugging when we first heard the thunder…..yep.  Praying we’d caught it in time and not lost the TV…..or the phone…..or, in later years, the computer or the VCR.

When we got home, the littles questioned me about this.  “Do we not care if our things get struck by lightning?  Is that why we don’t unplug our things?”

Ummmm.  Well.  We do care.  But…..surge protectors, right?

At least I hope they’ll do the job.

When I was growing up, as soon as we heard the first rumble of thunder, we all scrambled like we were on a top secret mission pertinent to national security.  Some grabbed the laundry basket and clothespin bucket and ran out to get the clothes in off the line–fingers crossed they were dry.  Others ran around unplugging things.  I can remember many a time being in the middle of a TV show and having to turn it off and unplug the TV until the storm passed.  This was in the day way back before we ever dreamed of DVR’s and the like.  So we were…..out of luck.  Until rerun season at least.  No Netflix to catch up on what we’d missed either.  But that’s another story for another night.

As I was remembering all of this, I think the fact that this has become something of the past is indicative of where we are in general.  Growing up, we respected storms.  We gave them the space to do what they had to do while trying our best to protect ourselves. I don’t necessarily mean that we are foolish now when it comes to storms, but we seem to push the limits and push past them.  Used to be if the weather was stormy we didn’t get out much.  Now we keep on keepin’ on, and just drive right through it, with our wipers blazing.  Rarely do we unplug in the face of a storm anymore.  We usually continue on as usual, barely giving the storm much notice.  At least until it wreaks serious havoc.  And then we surely do notice, don’t we?

Sometimes I think we miss a chance to refuel and regroup when a storm is approaching.  We are becoming an intense, “WE GOT THIS” “NEVER SAY DIE” sort of people, and so storm shmorm, no problem, CARRY ON, PEOPLE, DON’T LET IT GET YOU DOWN.

Until it’s too late, and the damage is done.

Maybe when the storms of life are approaching, it would be good to unplug for a little while.  To sit and be still and do all we can to protect ourselves.  Not all storms give a heads up, that’s true.  But for the ones that do, what would it be like if we circled the wagons, held each other close, and held on to something that gives us comfort?  (That was another suggestion of things to do in preparing for a major weather event.)

What would that do for our souls?

Take care of you.  We don’t want to lose you to the storm.

Love to all.

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“Lightning3” by U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Aspera Jr. – United States Air Force, VIRIN 040304-F-0000S-002 or unbroken-link (or VIRIN 060822-F-1111A-001). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – File:Lightning3.jpg

Our Feathered Friends–A Field Trip Story

Today we took a field trip down to Go Fish for a class.  Cooter and our Princess enjoy these classes, as do I.  They do a really good job of combining learning and fun in the classroom there, and the facility itself with the amazing aquarium and fully stocked pond for fishing is one of our area’s best kept secrets.  So many opportunities for education and adventure all in one place.

The class this morning was about Our Feathered Friends.  One of the teachers asked the children about characteristics of birds that most or all have in common.  Wings, hollow bones (except for the common loon, I learned something today), and beaks were a few of the things mentioned.

Then Cooter raised his hand, and she called on him.  I was sitting in the same room but not close enough to have assessed what his response was going to be in advance.  His answer to the question about what characteristics most or all birds have was:  “They’re good cookin’.”

She and the other educator looked at each other, confused.  “They’re good cooks? Birds can cook?”

Not daunted by the misunderstanding, my little guy shook his head no, and restated his answer, “They’re good.  Cooked.  They’re good cooked.  Tasty.”

Welp.  Okay then.

The teachers and other moms in the room laughed.  I shook my head and reminded myself about who my son is.

The class clown of Zoo Crew Academy, ladies and gentlemen.  He’s here for the next eight years.  Thank you.  

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The next activity involved using different things that had been put together to look and act like different types of bird beaks–the hummingbird, the pelican, the wider beaked birds, and the tiny little pointed ones.  It was interesting as the children tried the different “beaks” to pick up “fish” from the water, or the nectar, birdseeds, or “worms” in the sand.  The children discussed which beaks were best for each type of food.

When they finished with that, the instructors, who are vibrant and fun and have great senses of humor (thankfully) and who seem to really enjoy the children, brought around two live chickens who were hatched during the Fair about a month ago.  They were of good size, though not full-grown.  As Cooter and Princess were petting one of the chicks, my girl commented that she’d love to have that chicken at our house and how its feathers were so soft like a kitten.  The teacher agreed.  “Yes, I’d love to take it home with me.”

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Our Princess kept loving on the chick, “Can you imagine?  Eggs whenever you wanted.  You’d never have to go to the store to get them.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast everyday!”

The teacher smiled and nodded.  “That would be good.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast–I’d love that.  But I’d need the chicken to cook them for me too.”

My girl didn’t miss a beat.  She looked at her teacher and said, “But that’s what your husband is for.”

For. The. Love.

The teacher laughed, “I love that.”

And so do I.

That our Princess lives a life where, if the wife isn’t able to scramble the eggs, it is just assumed that the husband would jump in and do it.

I mean, why not, right?   So thankful for the world she lives in, what she believes, and the story that is hers.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunities to share in the learning with my children.  I am so appreciative of the time and energy these fantastic folks put into planning a great and interesting program for the children, and I’m glad we have such an amazing place to learn just a little bit down the road.  I love that I get to learn alongside my children.  Most of all, I’m grateful for their precious spirits–wonky sense of humor and all–and how they see the world.  Their laughter is more than infectious, it’s light pouring out from their souls and changing the world for the better.

May we all share a laugh and pour a little light into the world today.

Love to all.

 

 

My Christmas Wish…..

Oh such a lovely day.

Absolutely shimmering with love and light, much like the fire I’m sitting by right now.  In much the same way as the sunlight danced on the water at the fishing pond this afternoon.  And just like the candles that lit the lovely old room where we shared stories and celebrated the life of St. Lucia this evening.

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Our folks out fishing, waiting on Santa to arrive.

The littles welcoming Santa and Mrs. Claus

The littles welcoming Santa and Mrs. Claus

Light in the darkness honoring St. Lucia--sharing stories and cookies to remember

Light in the darkness honoring St. Lucia–sharing stories and cookies to remember

Our girl as Santa Lucia

Our girl as Santa Lucia

 

A day filled with good things–visiting Santa at the Go Fish Education Center and fishing off the bridge while we waited for his arrival.  Listening to a precious conversation that Santa and Mrs. Claus had with our Princess and Cooter.  Reading the kind words my oldest’s godfather had to say about her.  Hugs and a visit with Mess Cat–those don’t come often enough.  The sun shining, the breeze just right.  Baking cookies from Maemae’s recipe for Swedish Ginger Cookies to share with people tonight at the St. Lucia Day service.  Putting together a wreath last minute from things around the house for our Princess to dress up as Santa Lucia.  Laughter and sharing stories over good food with great friends.

All of it–really, really good.

My heart is full to bustin’.

And yet I feel like weeping.

I feel…..sad.

Stories are overwhelming me–stories of families in need who can’t give their children the magic they would like to on Christmas morning, let alone put food on the table.  Stories of children in homes that aren’t theirs, being asked for the very first time to dream and wish and the list is oh so heartbreakingly long.  Imagine no one ever asking what you want under the tree–ever.  And then one day someone finally does ask.  Children.  They’re only little for just a little bit–we only have one chance to get it right, to make this world a safe place for them.  And I say we, because it’s up to all of us to care for the little ones of the world, whether we have little ones sleeping under our own roofs or not.

So much hope lost, so much brokenness, so many children without someone gazing on them with love and joy.

I was at the grocery store this morning (yes on a Saturday–but it was a quick in, quick out–it was SATURDAY after all), and I saw a Mama and daughter shopping together throughout the store.  The daughter wasn’t much older than our Princess.  At one point I saw the Mama throw her head back and laugh and then hug her daughter with a side embrace. As she looked down at her girl, love shining in her eyes, the Mama told her precious girl, “Oh you are so funny!”

It was enough to bring tears to my eyes.  The love in that Mama’s gaze.  I’ve seen that.  Every time my Mama looked at me.  Right up to the last time, when she wrinkled her nose in her “I love you” language, unable to say those three words out loud.

My Mama firmly believed that every child should be wanted and loved.  She loved each of hers so very much, and I don’t see how any of us could have ever doubted it.  Oh she fussed and she gave us one more chewing out on more than one occasion, but I never doubted my Mama loved me.  Ever.

And the fact that there are children who do have doubts–who cannot be sure that they are loved–and the fact that there are parents who love their children so very much but cannot provide the basic necessities…..

My heart and mind aches.

It’s like having the flu, but it’s in my soul.

And there doesn’t seem to be a cure for it.

I like to peruse the titles of books.  Sometimes I go to Doubleday’s website and just look at book covers and titles and wonder how the writers chose the design, the fonts, but mostly the words in their titles.  What about those words encompassed the meaning they were trying to convey?

Tonight I saw a title of a book that gave me pause.

Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good by Jan Karon.

I have no idea about the story, though I have read some of her books.

This is about what those words said to me.

Somewhere safe with somebody good

somewhere where there is enough food,

where love is plentiful, and there is enough so that just enough dreams

that float around through those little ones’ heads and hearts

can come true–

just enough so that hope is not lost forever.

Somewhere safe with somebody good,

someone who will fight tooth and nail and lion, tiger, or bear

to provide for and keep the little ones safe.

Somewhere safe with someone good

who will always gaze upon them with love,

so that even when the one who loved is gone,

the ones left behind will still feel the warmth

of that love.  Always.

Somewhere safe with somebody good–

that’s my Christmas wish.

For my little ones and for all little ones, young and old,

who share this earth with me–

somewhere safe with somebody good.

So that the doubts and fears and hunger pains

and sorrow over dreams that never came to be

will dissipate and never be a part of this life for the

precious little ones again.

That’s it.

It is all so overwhelming that I don’t even know where to start.

And so I pick up the one starfish I see, and I throw it back in the ocean.

And I pray that on Christmas morning the little one will look around

and know that he is loved,

that she is treasured,

and the seed of hope will once again be planted

in their little hearts and souls.

I pray that there will

always be a caring someone there to tend that seed and

help it to continue blooming and growing.

May we all get a chance to plant a seed of hope for someone today.

Love to all.

 

 

Habitats and Hope, Happy Birthdays and Hanging On

This past Friday the littles and I went to Go Fish Education Center down in Perry.  This is a beautiful facility that is run by DNR.  The exhibits are interactive, and they have different areas set up like the waters of the different parts of Georgia, from the mountain streams up north to the swamps down south.  You can even borrow a fishing pole and sit out by the pond and try your luck at fishing.  It’s mostly a catch and release program, but in certain months (like October) you can take home what you catch.

They have started holding classes for homeschool students once a month.  We decided to try it last month and we were hooked (ha, no pun intended–seriously, just caught it in editing).  So this past Friday was our second class with Miss Clare, the Center Educator.  She taught about Habitats.  To begin with each child took a card with an animal on it.  Miss Clare asked each one to stick them on the map of Georgia in the habitat they thought best suited their animal.

Cooter drew a shark in the Habitat game.  He grinned really big and gave me a thumbs up.  He knew where to put this one.

Cooter drew a shark in the Habitat game. He grinned really big and gave me a thumbs up. He knew where to put this one.

The thing that we learned was some animals are adaptable and can live in different type habitats–like foxes, raccoons, and even some snakes.

Our state with the animals in their habitats.

Our state with the animals in their habitats.

After that the children played a game which demonstrated how limited resources (food, water, shelter) can affect the population and length of life of the animals.  In the game, after the first couple of “years” the population dwindled–too many deer and not enough of what they needed to live.  The children were running back and forth finding what they needed (or not as the case may be), laughing and enjoying the cool morning.  In the midst of the fun, the sobering reality hit me head on.

They played another game of hide and seek, with each person attempting to be a rabbit camouflaged so the fox couldn’t find him or her.  They really enjoyed that one.  Then we moved inside the facility to discuss the fish and other aquatic life in their habitats.

This is a school of goldfish.  They are in the gator habitat.  Only the gators won't eat them, so trout were put in to get the goldfish population under control.  Only they travel in "schools" so they look like one big fish, thus confusing the trout and saving their lives.  What do the gators eat?  Mice.  Apparently they get their calcium (bones), fiber (hair), and protein and vitamins (meat) all in one delicacy.  Oh if only it were that easy around here!

This is a school of goldfish. They are in the gator habitat. Only the gators won’t eat them, so trout were put in to get the goldfish population under control. Only they travel in “schools” so they look like one big fish, thus confusing the trout and saving their lives. What do the gators eat? Mice. Apparently they get their calcium (bones), fiber (hair), and protein and vitamins (meat) all in one delicacy. Oh if only it were that easy around here!

I learned the most in the gator exhibit.  That whole traveling as a school saving the lives of the goldfish.  Isn’t that amazing?  They feed the gators mice, which is an all dietary needs met kind of meal for that crew.  I wish I could find something comparable to serve here.

It was a wonderful morning of learning, laughter, and play.  As we left I saw these beautiful flowers.  It struck me how with all around them drying up and withering away, they were full of life and beauty–sort of blooming where they were planted kind of thing going on there.

These flowers seemed to crop up out of nothing.  Beautiful, aren't they?

These flowers seemed to crop up out of nothing. Beautiful, aren’t they?

Today Aub was following behind me across town on our way to our Sister Circle.  While we were parking my phone rang and it was Aub.  I looked in my rearview mirror.  Yep, she was back there.  Car looked okay.

“What?” I answered.  Yeah, I’m that kind of loving Mama.

“I think….I mean, I’m pretty sure…..is that a frog on my door?”

I was grabbing my supply bag and getting ready to close my car door. “I don’t know, get out and see.”

“I can’t.  Unh uh.”

I looked back.  She was still sitting in her car.  Cooter ran over and started jumping up and down, pretty much a confirmation that an amphibian had taken up residence.  I walked over.  Yep, a frog.

Note the college girl in the driver's seat holding her phone for dear life.  I have no idea how long he'd been riding like that, but you are correct, he does look a bit pale.  Probably terrified out of his mind.  What must he have thought when he found himself hanging on for dear life ONA CAR zippadeedoodahing down the road?

Note the college girl in the driver’s seat holding her phone for dear life. I have no idea how long he’d been riding like that, but you are correct, he does look a bit pale. Probably terrified out of his mind. What must he have thought when he found himself hanging on for dear life ON A CAR zippadeedoodahing down the road?

We regrouped and left him to his own devices to recover and went in for our Sister Circle.  My sweet sisters were already there and waiting.  We had great conversation and a lot of fun creating with a different way of painting, but that’s a story for another night.  One of our sisters, T, decided to use her favorite thing, the markers, to make her picture.  She drew this:

Home sweet home.  If only.

Home sweet home. If only.

When I walked over and admired her picture, I realized that this was a theme for her.  She draws houses and homes with birds or rainbows or sunshine.  My heart broke in that moment.  My dear sister friend is like the deer running out of resources.  I am not sure of her living situation, but I know it is not ideal.  She has been mistreated and abused by people she called friends and whom she trusted.  She has had moments, too many of them, feeling like those rabbits hiding from the fox.  She might have shelter but she doesn’t have sanctuary.  She might have food but her soul is starving.  She is trying to bloom in the midst of all around her.  I know she is, she has dreams and she’s shared some of them.  But like that frog today, I am afraid she is looking around, thinking where am I?  How did I get HERE?  And how on earth do I get off of this ride?  Please?!

There are many T’s in this world, in our own little community.  Living in habitats that are not fit for any living thing or person.  I have watched a dear friend stumble out from behind a dumpster sitting next to local restaurant.  Where he had been “LIVING.”  If he had been a dog, I know full well someone would have picked him up and cared for him before then.  How did we, our world, our people, our sisters and brothers, get to this point?  Adaptability in habitats is one thing, but no one should live like that.  Or like T is either.

Today is T’s birthday.  I didn’t know, but two of our sister friends did and they brought her some gifts they’d gotten especially for her.  I saw her hang her head and be overcome with shyness.  But I also saw something else.  Something that shone light through my broken heart and filled me with hope.  I saw this school of fish that protects each other from harm gather T in and hold her close.  I saw them care and I saw them love.  It wasn’t about the gifts, though that was so precious of them.  It was about them noticing her and taking her into their fold.  That right there people.  I am humbled.  And inspired.

Today is T’s birthday and my friend Baddest Mother Ever‘s birthday too.  When I was in the midst of my most vulnerable times, she gathered me into her “school” and made me feel safe and cared for.  Both of these women are important to me.  Both of them, so different, yet so much alike–they both inspire me with their stories and with their resiliency and with their unending capacity to love.

Today T gave me her picture.  On her birthday, she gave ME her picture of her “home.”

I was honored and touched by her heart.  I will keep it to remind me of our dreams and that until we all have a safe place to lay our heads, none of us can truly sleep well.

Before she left, I gave T this.  I had nothing else to give her but my love, which she already has.

20131022-222721.jpgIt’s nothing much.  I gave it to her with a hug and a whisper about dreaming and birthday wishes and walking with her to see them come true.  This is my birthday wish for T and for Baddest Mother Ever too.  I love you both, and this is what I want for you.  For your heart’s desire, for your very special wish from your heart, for that to be granted.  For there always to be a school of folks ready to gather you in and stay right by your side. For you to continue to be strong and share your stories with the world so they will know about beauty in brokenness and hope in the dark.  And for you to find strength in your weakness and find a way to hang on during those bumpy rides.  Most of all, I want you both to know how much you are loved.  And treasured.  Because you are.  ❤