The World Is Breaking Her Heart

Courtesy of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.

                                 Courtesy of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.

Today on this, Women’s Equality Day, the 95th anniversary of when women were given the right to vote in 1920, the following conversation happened.

I took Miss Sophie out for her evening constitutional, and the littles were riding their bikes up and down the street.  Our Princess came over on her bike and stopped where I stood with Miss Sophie, allowing her to do all the sniffs and whatnots.

“Mama, how come some people will say, when someone is screaming, ‘You scream like a girl!’ I mean, why is it an insult to do something like us?  I don’t get it.”

Oh my heart.  The tone in her voice.  She really doesn’t understand.  Just like she didn’t understand when she read about the Ku Klux Klan the other day.  It is breaking her heart, this broken world of ours.  At age almost 11, she is struggling with all that does not fit in her world of happiness, fairies, dolls, and really great books.  After all, I think she’s still sort of waiting on her letter from Hogwart’s.

And it hit me the irony that on this day, 95 years after women were given “equal” rights, I’m having to explain why doing something like a woman–running, hitting, throwing, screaming–is considered a BAD thing.

I told her the truth as I know it.  People don’t understand what is different.  They sometimes feel threatened so they use put-downs and insults and other hurtful things to keep those who are different away.

And I don’t know.  Basically, in the end, I told her we could guess and try to figure it out, but bottom line–I don’t get it.  I don’t understand.  She continued, talking about the line drawn between the boys and the girls on the street and how her brother likes to put her down because she’s a girl.

“Do you think you can talk to him?”

We talked about it, about how her Daddy sees women as his equals, and how her brother was probably just trying to show off in front of his buddies.

“Yeah, that’s why I wanted to get that folder that said ‘Girls Rule, Boys Drool’ today.”

Ummmm, no.  Just no.

Sigh.

I explained to her why THAT wasn’t cool either, really.  If we want to be equal, we need to respect the other gender the way we want to be respected.

We have come a long way in 95 years in many respects.  But the fact that a child 95 years later has heard the same put-downs and insults that have been heard for years–that we haven’t already put a stop to such as this–really hurts my heart.  That my daughter is struggling with this now and still, all these many years later, breaks it.

Tonight I’m hopeful that when we have the centennial celebration of women’s right to vote, we will be standing side by side–men and women, girls and boys–with respect and admiration for each other.  The only way for that to happen is to start now–teaching our boys and girls, daughters and sons, a language and regard filled with respect for the other person.  Comments like “You scream like a little girl” might seem funny at first glance, but really they are hurting the souls of our children–the future of our world.

May we all one day sleep the sleep that comes with peace and respect and harmony. I wish, as I tuck my two in, that it were tonight.

Love to all.

Learning with my Littles

We have begun week 3 of school here at Zoo Crew Academy.  It’s summer in Georgia, so unless we want to go out and play between 4:23 and 4:32 every morning, it’s just about too hot to do anything but keep ourselves inside.

And so we do.

With our math and writing and books and crafts and piano…..

we are staying busy.

This year, I let them choose what they would like to learn about in science.  I was hoping they would choose the same topic, but that would have been too easy I suppose.  Our Princess chose aquatic animals and Cooter chose those of the land.  I’m okay with it, because I’m hoping that if it’s something they are really interested in, they will learn more.

Today Princess was reading from her book and got quite upset.  “Mama, look at this picture!  It’s a beached whale.  Why did it have to die?”

We talked a little bit about it, and she finished her reading, still sad over what she had seen.

This afternoon as we were on our outsandabouts, the littles were watching Gilligan’s Island.  At one point, I think it was Gilligan who said, “He looks just like a beached whale.”

“Well then, I can assure you he must be dead,” quipped our Princess, without missing a beat.

Bless her.  Yes, she can assure us all of that.  Because she knows that’s what happens in many cases.

Homeschooling win.

I love it when I hear them take something they have learned and apply it later on.  That’s what I want most for them–to be able to take what they’ve learned and use it again in some way.  Some way that matters.  That’s my number one goal and wish for them as their teacher and their Mama.

Tonight I’m thankful for this opportunity to learn alongside them, to watch their eyes open in wonder and amazement, and to help them find the answers to their questions.  After all, thanks to today’s lesson my knowledge about beached whales now extends past the Seinfeld episode “Marine Biologist.”  Yes, this is definitely broadening my horizons–and that is a very good thing.

Love to all.

"Southern right whale10" by Michaël CATANZARITI - by Michaël CATANZARITI. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Southern_right_whale10.jpg#/media/File:Southern_right_whale10.jpg

“Southern right whale10” by Michaël CATANZARITI – by Michaël CATANZARITI. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons    This is NOT a photo of a beached whale. because that would have been way too sad.  And there’s enough sadness in our world, don’tcha think?  

A Good Story About One Who Is Growing Up

And speaking of a good story…..

we were, last night.  About big stories and good stories.

Last night at Evening Prayer we discussed a program that our local coffeehouse has–Backpack Buddies.  Each weekend, children who might otherwise go hungry receive non-perishable healthy snacks to help them have enough to eat when they are away from their schools or child care centers.  We discussed sharing this program with others outside our group to increase awareness and donations so we can provide enough food for 35 children during the remainder of the summer.  (The program provides for a lot more children during the school year.)

While the adults discussed the kinds of foods that work best, it turns out the littles were listening.  As we said our goodbyes and prepared to leave, Cooter came up and tugged my shirt.  “Mama, I have some ideas about some things to put in the backpacks.”

“Really?  What’s that?”

“Well, toothbrushes and toothpaste.  They might not have them and this way, they can take care of their teeth.”

Huh.  That’s not a bad idea.  I was impressed, not only that he’d been listening and thinking, but also that he had come up with a really good idea.  I told him to go talk to our friend who is in charge of the packing of the bags right now.

And he did.

He’s growing up right before my very eyes.  Sometimes I get growing pains it is happening so fast.

Today in the car, Cooter and his sister had a long discussion about what would be good to put in the backpacks along with the food.

Princess, our swimmer, thought that swimsuits would be a good idea.  Cooter nayed it, but she defended it by saying, “Well, it’s really hot this summer, and they can at least run in the sprinklers.”

Cooter was thinking coats, hats, and gloves in the winter.

And then he floored me.  “Well what if we get them some presents to put in there during Christmas?  I mean, they might not get as much as we do, so maybe we could share with them.”

Bless him.  Bless them both.

This isn’t a big story.  We haven’t solved world hunger.  Or even hunger in our own community.  We haven’t even been to the store yet to pick up food for the backpacks this week.

But I think it’s a good story.  One that I will hold close to my heart–especially when I am tempted to forget how giving and loving and thoughtful my children can be.  Oh, like all of us, they have their moments when they most definitely are not.  But this, their minds and hearts working in sync to see a need and try to address it?

Priceless.  Good.  Joy-filled.

May we all take a moment to see how we can fill a hungry body, heart, or soul today.  It can be as simple as a smile or picking up an extra can of healthy food or a bag of apples.

Wishing you all good stories.  Love to all.

*********************************************

The closet where the Backpack Buddies magic happens.  Thanks for helping fill it up.

The closet where the Backpack Buddies magic happens. Thanks for helping fill it up.

If you are one of my local friends and you have an extra minute and dollar or two, please consider dropping a non-perishable item in the purple bucket at Bare Bulb Coffee in Kathleen.  (And get yourself a cup of coffee while you’re at it–it is literally the best coffee ever.  And seriously, I know what I’m talking about.)  Some of the things they can use are granola bars, instant mac’n’cheese, crackers, 100% fruit juice, fresh apples, fruit cups, and canned goods like Chef Boyardee or tuna.  (They try to stay away from gummy snacks and sugary drinks and chips.)  They are packing for 35 children every week right now, and your help will make a huge impact.  Thanks y’all.  

And So It Begins

When we came back from running errands, there was a piece of paper tucked in the door.  Our Princess grabbed it and read it out loud incredulously:  “We’ve been invited to a Wine and Cheese Tasting?” She ended it as if asking a question and with a puzzled look on her face.  

About the same time as her brother Cooter jumped up and yelled, “Cheese!  Yes!!!!!” she said, “Well this is just AWKWARD.”  

She’s not my little girl anymore.  

Yesterday I sat next to her for quite some time, waiting.  The wait never bothered her, and she said very little.  Instead she sat there with her headphones stuck in her ears, listening to music on the old iPod her sister had lovingly passed down to her just the other day, already set up with her favorite songs and games.  

The fact that music will only play through one speaker on this iPod never fazed her for a moment. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the teenage years with this one.  Please buckle up and get ready.  She’ll be 13 in two and half years…..otherwise known as “before we know it.”  

While she said very little, her eyes and smile said it all.  She bobbed her head along to the music, sometimes mouthing words and occasionally showing me the album cover of the song she was listening to–Taylor Swift and Sabrina Carpenter are her two favorites if the number of times I saw their faces on her screen is any indication.  

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy and awe I feel watching her become more vocal about her opinions.  I cannot believe she’s reached that “I can’t hear you because I have my headphones in and I’m listening to this song that says PERFECTLY what I am feeling about life” phase.  At least we’re not to the “The music understands, but you never will” stage. I’m not prepared for that one yet.  If one ever can be. 

There will be no cheese and wine tasting for us, but I am thankful for the glimpse of where my children are that the invitation gave us.  I’ve got one who basically said, “You had me at cheese” and one who is entering the time of life when everything is embarrassing–especially parents.  

As a matter of fact, I do recall her asking me not to sing and dance to my “jam” today.  

Sigh.  

And so it begins.  

Love to all.  

The Healing Power of Batman and Bandaids

It’s been a very busy weekend full of swim meet activities and birthday parties and listening to live music. While we wrapped up our Princess’ swim meet (day 2) activities yesterday, Cooter went to Mess Cat’s house to play with Shaker. He was “Guess What”ing me the whole drive home afterwards. Obviously, he had a great time.

As we were getting ready to leave Evening Prayer last night, he wasn’t feeling good. He started complaining about his stomach and his head. I couldn’t determine whether he was really hungry or nauseated. I moved us post-haste to the car and towards home, handing him a cookie and a trash can for the trip–trying to cover all of my bases. He ate the cookie and continued to moan and cry out and in general make me wonder if we would actually make it home before he threw up. Or worse.

We got home and I ushered him inside and together we sat. We camped out on the couch together until he started lounging so much that I moved him to the recliner. I gave him ginger and ginger ale and still nothing happened. Except the moaning. And the worry.

I can do that like nobody’s business.

As in if it were an Olympic sport…..
gold medalist right here.

He had bumped his head at the swim meet on Saturday. Though he’d done fine that evening and all day Sunday, I started questioning if maybe something wasn’t bad wrong. If I should take him to the Med Stop or something.

And then he asked for crackers.

Okay. Okay. That helped my feelings.

He ate a few and continued to sip on his ginger ale. We turned on the TV in the hopes of distracting him, and it did seem to lift his spirits. At one point in the show he started laughing really hard–pretty sure it was some bathroom humor. He’s eight after all.

That was when I breathed a little bit, and his big sister smiled.

“Awwww Fweetie, are you feeling better?”

When our Princess was little she called everyone Sweetie, only we heard it as “Fweetie.” She would use it especially in those tender moments, “Oh Fweetie, don’t cry, it will be okay.”  *pats back of Fweetie*

Because she would get booboos of various kinds–both real and imagined–she got a lot of bandaids when she was small. They were magical, curing all the pains and hurts and owies almost immediately. So much so that when she got a tummy ache, she thought her tummy needed a bandaid as well.

So last night when Aub asked Cooter that question, he smiled a little. Then he sighed.

“No, my tummy still hurts really bad.”

She hopped up and went into the kitchen. When she came back, she was carrying a bright yellow bandaid. “Here, Fweetie, this will make it all better.” And she put it smack dab in the middle of his little belly.

That got a laugh out of him. A good laugh.
And that was good for my worried heart.

As one by one all the others went to bed, I decided to find something that Cooter would enjoy watching since it didn’t look like either one of us would be settling in for sleep soon. I kept hoping the discomfort would ease up enough that he could go to bed, or at least sleep in the chair, but each time I thought it might happen, he’d start up again about how bad either his head or his stomach hurt.

It was then that I remembered I had recorded the old 1966 Batman movie with Adam West. I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be appropriate–cheesy maybe, but not offensive.

I am so glad I did.

From the moment the movie started, I had a different child on my hands. He was still a little puny, but he was watching and paying close attention and calling out from time to time, “What?! Does everything have to be bat something or other?”

Holy repetition, Batman, why yes it does.

As it got later, Cooter still didn’t want me to leave him alone, even just long enough to get a shower, but halfway into the movie he barely nodded when I said I was going to shower. He was entranced.

Yes, I let him stay up and watch the whole movie. Way too late. But doing just that made him ready to get in his own bed when it was over, and while he still wasn’t 100 percent, he definitely felt much better.

And this morning his little face was the first one I saw, staring me in my eyes.

“Breakfast. I need food.”

Color this Mama thankful.

IMG_7887

I am thankful for a beautiful weekend of unexpected twists and turns and grace abounding. I appreciate the whole family working together to make things good for all. Most of all, I am thankful for a well little guy today and for the healing power of Batman and Bandaids.

If only all ailments and woes were so easily fixed…..

Wishing you all a day with no hurts that can’t be covered by a bandaid.

Love to all.

If You Need a Timeturner…..

Last week Cooter hit another milestone.  He has been reading this same book off and on for a couple of months.  A little bit at the time, minus the several days in there when he thought he had lost the book.  (I believe it was found in his abandoned “Indiana Jones” backpack.)

Cooter finished reading “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Cooter's very own copy from our favorite local used bookstore.

Cooter’s very own copy from our favorite local used bookstore.

Y’all.  The excitement in our house when he finished–it was palpable.

His oldest sister grew up with the books and movies.  She was able to watch the movies as they came out because she grew up with the characters.  Her siblings do not have that luxury, because all the movies were made long before they had even heard of Harry Potter.

To slow down the requests of the littles to watch the movies, I’ve invoked the rule as Headmaster of Zoo Crew Academy that one must read the book in full before watching the movie.  (Being Headmaster is cool like that.)

So you can see why he was so excited.  He was ready to watch that movie.

I am excited because he is reading so well.  His handwriting might still look like chicken scratch that only he and I can interpret, but by golly, my boy can read.

I’ll take it.

He had to wait a day for his big sister to come home from college.  They had agreed to watch it together.  I’m glad it was only a day.  As it was the littles were just about camped out at the end of the road, waiting for her arrival.  When she got here, they were thrilled.

It was everything they had imagined and then some.  They loved it.  And it was so rewarding for them to know they’d earned it by reading the books first.  I love hearing their conversations comparing the book and movie.  It was hilarious when our Princess got frustrated with me because I forgot something that had happened.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read the book and seen the movie.

At the first of this week, I was discussing scheduling of a couple of potential summer activities.  Our Princess was standing there, and she heard me trying to figure out if two things would be at the same time.

“Oh that’s no problem, Mama. I can just get a timeturner and use it.”

Bless her.  She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwart’s too.  She will, after all, be eleven this year.

A timeturner is a device used in the third book by one of the main characters who has more than one class scheduled at the same time.  With this necklace she is able to go back in time and take the classes at the same time.  So to speak.

When my girl suggested that she might need one (and was totally okay with that, I might add), it hit me like a cold, wet rag in the face.

Wait.

I turned to her.  “Baby girl, if we need a timeturner to get it all done, we have too much on our schedule.”

I think I was telling this to myself too.

As the excitement of wrapping up the school year grows and my oldest moves back home for the summer, I see all of these wonderful options and projects and things that would be great popping up–on newsfeeds, in emails, on flyers.  And while I don’t intend to hole up all summer in my Roost with a stack of books close by (oh my, give me just a minute–I went to another place for a moment *sigh*), I don’t think we need to sign up for all the things this summer.  So many good things out there, but so many good things can turn into a stress-filled summer of staying in the road and on the go.  While I’m proud our Princess is a problem solver, I am not happy that she thinks running hither and yon is the norm.

Oh me.  I think we all need a stay-cation.

As we all come upon the good things out there, let us remember it’s only good if we still have some empty space in our day to dailies. To breathe.  To visit.  To simply be.  There might just be such as thing as too much good.

And may we, none of us, ever need a timeturner to do the things that fill our hearts and feed our souls.

Love to all.

Cooter's motto most days, I'm pretty sure.  :)

Cooter’s motto most days, I’m pretty sure, that little mischief maker. 🙂

A Little Writing Assignment

Yesterday after our Princess finished her math and spelling exercises, I asked her to work on her creative writing.  Rather than giving her a prompt as I usually do, I told her she could write about anything she would like.

A few minutes later, I heard piano music.  The littles have been taking lessons since January.  Our Princess has really taken to it.  Cooter will practice when I remind him, but she will sit down and play a tune several, SEVERAL times a day.  And the tune is usually Alouette or Yankee Doodle.  She knows them by heart.

So when I heard the music flowing, I knew it was her playing.  I left what I was working on, and went into the room where she was playing.

“Ummm, hello ma’am, what are you doing?  I believe you are supposed to be writing something?”

She looked up from her music and seemed shocked.  “But Mama, I AM writing.  See?”

And there on her plain robin’s egg blue paper, she had drawn lines and was writing notes on the lines.

Musical notes.

Composing.  My baby girl was composing.  Writing a song.

After I leaned over and picked my jaw up off the floor, I nodded.

She grinned.  “I’m writing though, right, Mama?”

I nodded again.  Satisfied, she turned back to the piano and continued to plunk out a tune and make a note of it on her paper.

Bless it.

IMG_7704

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy of homeschooling.  There are days (like today) when Cooter seems to misplace his math every five minutes, and we are still working on it at nightfall.  But then there are days like yesterday when I see the passion for a subject or activity, and I can help them grow wings and fly.  Or, you know, compose.  I’m also thankful for the way music seems to soothe our Princess’ soul.  When she was frustrated with an assignment earlier today, she asked if she could get up and practice one of her songs for a few minutes.  After she played through it a couple of times, she came back to her work with a clearer mind and a can do attitude.

I love that.

May we all find something that we love so fiercely that it soothes our soul and gives us peace.

Love to all.

Dancing With Myself

Cooter recently got a new CD.  He is convinced that listening to it helps him get his Math done quicker and easier.  Me, not so much, but at least he doesn’t WHINE while he’s doing his math, so hey, I’m all for it.  Studying to music is a technique his oldest sister uses, and it seems to work well for her, so I’m waiting to see how it goes.

This morning he started playing it while I was in the kitchen.  Some of the new stuff has such a great beat, you know?  So there I was, cutting up an apple and moving around the kitchen, minding my own business, when suddenly I was all “My hands are in the air like I just do not care”*–I was dancing.

Now I’m no professional and I’m not sure how much moving I would be doing outside of my own home, but y’all, the beat was good and I was in my own home.  So I put that knife down and I danced.

Our Princess still wrapped up in her favorite golden blanket, off to practice the piano, looked over at me as she passed. That look and then, “Thank goodness none of my friends can see you, or I’d be VERY embarrassed.”

Y’all.  She’s TEN.

I’m not sure, but isn’t that a little early to start this kind of attitude?

I looked at her, and then decided to forgive ignore her.  My feet had a mind of their own.

I remember my Mama dancing around her kitchen.  She loved to dance.  She could do the Twist like nobody’s business.  Seriously impressive.  I don’t remember being embarrassed, but I could be wrong.  I probably didn’t dance with her, which I regret, but I didn’t shudder at the thought.  Seeing her dance was actually a glimpse into who she was, other than Mama.  It was intriguing, like seeing her Prom picture with someone who wasn’t my Daddy.  Mama was a real life person before she became my Mama.  And even harder to process, WHILE she was my Mama.

I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that.

But here’s the deal, my precious young’uns, I didn’t check my “Tara” card at the door of the hospital when I first became Mama.  I can be me and still be your Mama.  I can dance and still wipe your nose.  I can sing at the top of my lungs riding down the road and still get the spaghetti stain out of your clothes.  I can laugh so hard while telling a story until you can’t understand a word I’m saying and still help you with your Math.  I can cry over a movie and still cook your supper.

Just like my Mama did.

Tonight I’m thankful for the joy that music stirs up inside me and for the ability to move my feet [somewhat] in rhythm.  I love that I can still surprise my children, just as Mama did us.  She was always our rock and yet she could still surprise us in wonderful ways. I give thanks for moments with my children like we had this morning.  The one where I glimpse myself through their eyes, and it makes me giggle.  I even give thanks for the almost eye roll I got from our Princess.  I’ve been on this teenage roller coaster already, so I know to buckle up good, because for the second time, I’m in for a bumpy ride.  The reason I’m giving thanks is I know how it turns out–eventually they come around and become really awesome people.

Another preteen in the house?

Yeah, been there, done that.  Bring it.

In the meantime, I’m gonna keep on dancing.

Life’s too short not to.

Love to all.

I kept hearing this song in my head while I was writing tonight.  You’re welcome.

 

*Yes, this is a line from the movie “Home.”  It was really, really good by the way.  I highly recommend it.  Lines from it are already becoming standard around here.  Like this one.  Now y’all go dance.  

 

 

There Are Better Things To Talk About

Genetics being what they are, I have three children all different shapes and sizes.  Just as my Mama had four children who, while similarities could be seen, have grown to be four very different looking people.

It happens.

The one thing that all of mine have in common, according to my sweet Cousin, is their eyes.  She says they all have my eyes.

I love that she thinks so.

However, my oldest is average in height and has an attractive build.  My middle one, our Princess, is tall for her age.  She wears a shoe size bigger than mine and she’s ten.  She is of a thin athletic build.  My little guy, bless him, inherited my height–so he’s shorter than his cousin who is younger than he is.  I try to soothe his frustrations by imagining with him all the wonderful things he can do–like spying–if he stays on the shorter side.

It’s a hard road to walk, and it requires a sensitive heart and carefully thought out words to parent each one of them.  To help them to feel good about themselves.  Because I want that so much for each one of them–for him or her to be able to look in a mirror and say, “Hey, all right!  Looking good!”  No matter what.

Because I can tell you–each one of them is beautiful, inside and out, in his or her own way.

And it’s not just because I’m their Mama.  Or maybe it is.  But that shouldn’t matter.

I grew up worrying over weight.  I remember counting calories as a young teen.  WHY DID I DO THAT?  I am sad for myself thinking back on that.  I wish I had loved ME more.  It’s not something I let go of easily either.  I’ve tried to put the scales away, but sometimes they call my name.  Usually frustration follows, so because those scales do not bring out the best in me, I need to choose my company wisely and kick those scales to the curb.

Because our Princess is built differently–tall and slender, I guess we’ve always assumed she wouldn’t have body issues.  People look at her and see a tall, thin girl, something that is lauded in our society.  No problem, right?

Wrong.

We got to swim practice early, so she had been playing on the playground with her brother for a few minutes.  When she came up to get ready, she climbed up on the bleachers where I was sitting, and slipped off her playclothes that she was wearing over her swimsuit.  An acquaintance sitting close by called her name and said, “You are getting so tall.  And too thin.”  And she laughed amiably.

I teach my children to speak when spoken to.  To reply when asked a question.  To say thank you in response to praise or a compliment.

Y’all, I got no idea how I should have prompted my girl to respond to that.

Apparently she didn’t either because she gave the woman a long look with question in her eyes, and then went on about her business of putting on her swim cap and goggles.  She hopped down and flitted (she’s a butterfly in a people body I’m convinced) to the pool.

She loves to swim.  I doubt that the comment stayed in her mind or heart for any time after it was released into being.

But for me, I was in the shower when it hit me.  That’s where I do my best thinking sometimes, and as the water poured so did the tears.  I don’t want her to suffer body issues.  Bless her, she will wind up with body issues because of folks telling her they’re jealous because she has no reason to have body issues.

I can’t even.

I don’t want her to be self-conscious about her body just like I don’t want that for her brother or her older sister.  If I could prevent it, I would, but I’m afraid I have our culture, our values, and folks sitting on the bleachers working against me.

Can we all just sit down right now and agree that we need to stop talking about bodies–our bodies, other people’s bodies, all the bodies?  Can we agree that there are much better things to talk about–good food, old stories, the best bargain we’ve ever come across, or how to join yarn when creating an afghan?  Seriously, there are so many better things to spent our time with others talking about, don’t you think?

Tonight I’m thankful for all the variety there is in Creation–color, shapes, sizes…..and I’m thankful for each one of my beautiful, healthy children.  I’ll be dog if I want any one of them counting calories as a teenager.  It’s not okay.  I want them to look at the world and shine like the stars that they are, not stare in a mirror woefully wishing things were different–that they were different.

Just for this day let’s let go of the old standards of beauty, and let’s focus on the things we can control about ourselves–kindness, wisdom, compassion, honesty, fidelity, persistence.  Let’s be our best selves, and my hope is that the next time we look in the mirror, that’s who we see–our best selves.  It’s time to put a stop to holding ourselves up to a glossy page in a magazine and hold ourselves up to a higher standard.  One of the heart.  To be beautiful from the inside out.

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Now go be your beautiful best self, and sparkle on.

Love to all.

The Words Worth More Than a Thousand Pictures

At the beginning of this school year, I was a bit concerned about where my two elementary aged children were, regarding their comprehension of basic math skills.  I did what has turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done as a homeschooling parent–I asked for help.

Our tutor turned friend turned family was a huge gift.  She gave our Princess what she needed to be able to approach math with a different attitude–a “can do” attitude.  And I am thankful.

So while I am still very focused on math and practice practice practice, I have shifted my concern over to writing.  Both in content and in handwriting.  *sigh*  We have a lot of issues around here.

While they both love to tell stories, and they both are avid readers, when it comes to writing those stories down, well–the motivation factor seems to be *ahem* missing.

So I’ve been encouraging more creative writing, especially with our Princess.  She has a workbook that we get writing prompts and activities from.  We choose one together and she works on it on her own.

On Wednesday, she had a list of twelve words–nothing spectacular–and she was to write a sentence or two about each one.  Mailbox was one word.  I think flower was another.  Pretty basic words.  She did this task without too much gnashing of teeth, and I was pleased.  The next day the assignment was to pick one of those words and write about 200 words–anything having to do with the subject.

And then it was meltdown mode.

“Mama I can’t think of another thing to say about any one of those words!” she said, adding in a bit of whine for good luck.

Oh me.  I decided to take a different tactic than the one that came to mind first.  Raising my voice and telling her to sit down and think probably wouldn’t be good for getting the creative juices flowing.

“Okay, fine.  I will give you a subject, and you can write whatever you want to about it, okay?  At least half a page or longer, okay?”

She nodded through her frustrated tears.

I thought for a minute.  “Okay, Aunt’s.  You can write anything about being there or anything having to do with her place.  Got it?”   I wondered if she’d write about picking vegetables from the garden or playing with her cousins or our yearly family get together there.

She smiled.  “Can I write about the Easter Egg Hunt?”  It was on her mind since it was coming up soon.

“Sure,” I said, relieved.  Now we were getting somewhere.  There would be a lot she could write about.

A few minutes later, she came back.  “Mama, how ’bout I draw a picture instead of writing about it?  I will go get the paper now, and it will look great…..” She started to go after her art supplies.

“Wait.  What?  No.  Nonono.  You are not going to draw a picture.  You have to write about it.”

She turned back around.  And smiled.  While she can be the sweetest and most tender-hearted child most of the time, she has these moments of pre-teendom that make me worry about the future.  This was one of those moments.  I saw the glint in her eye, and I wondered what was coming.

“Well, Mama, they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And since you only asked me to write 200 or so, I’d really be doing more than you asked.”  And then she smiled.  Knowingly.

Y’all, I may wind up with more than one of my offspring becoming a lawyer.  I mean, really?  #Loophole.

She began to giggle, and I couldn’t help but laugh too.  Unfortunately, contrary to what she thought, my laughter did not equate to letting her off the hook.

She wrote her story.  She decided to interview everyone in our family and ask them what their favorite thing was about the Easter Egg Hunt/Wienie Roast/Family Hootenanny.

It turned out pretty good too.  She used complete sentences and proper capitalization and her reporting was spot on.  While more than one said the hot dogs were their favorite part, it was usually paired with being with family.  Her big sister threw in that her favorite part was sneaking our Princess’ Nerds from her Easter basket.  (Princess correctly used parentheses to note “I’m going to get her!”)

But what really got me, and what told me that no matter what her calling in life is our Princess will always have that same tender heart, were her closing words:

“For me it’s seeing everybody happy.”

Oh baby girl. Me too.

Me too.

(And just for the record, she was wrong.  There’s no picture that could have been worth more than those six words right there.)

May you all have a ray of sunshine around to remind you of the important things in life.

Love to all.