Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

P.O.P. Nature Study: Out in the Fields with God

{we're a month behind on this book/nature study---but a beautiful time of year for a picnic in the fields with God}

The family goes on a birthday picnic to the swimming hole.
On the way they view the "...snug valley---its white farm houses, white church steeple, red barns, meadows dotted with cows, blueberry fields, the brook, and the shimmering blue Mirror Lake."

It's a bit like heaven. Reminds me of Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright.
While eating the sandwiches and birthday cake, they spot dragonflies, red-winged blackbird on a weeping willow, water bugs, tadpoles and minnows. Don asks for a jar to catch some.
Back home, Emily gets stung by a bee. Emma has Carol puts a weed on the sting...plantain which was known by the Indian's as 'white man's footsteps'.

Karen's description is: "its leaves lie flat in the grass, and wherever the white man settled, these plants sprang up."


******

Common waterbug---Cerris remigis

Dragonfly ("Northern bluet")---Enallagma cyathigerum

Fathead minnow---Pimephales promelas

Freshwater leech---Macrobdella decora

Green frog---Rana clamitans

Plantain---plantago rugelii

Red-winged blackbird---Agelius phoeniceus

*******

QUESTIONS:
Is there a brook or other body of water nearby?

What kinds of wildlife live there?

Has anyone else gone for a picnic in late July/early August?


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pretend It's Your Storage Room

There is a pantry to the left and laundry room to the right.
Storage room is in the middle.
It used to be a bathroom, once upon a time.
It has since gorged on our excess.
Last week its gluttonous belly ejected its contents onto my sitting room floor.
My vision was to turn it into a spare bathroom decorated with Victorian wallpaper and fixtures.
Plumbing problems have canceled any promise of  a Victorian spare bathroom.

What would you do?

Enlarge your pantry?
Enlarge your laundry?
Make it into one big utility room---which doesn't sound as attractive as the other options but this is all about function, purpose, and usage.

I need your help. Ears and comments are open.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Can You Picture It?

Children at St. Jude's Hospital receiving a box marked "Merry Christmas" and filled with some beauty, some color, and some brightness to dispel the darkness of chemo, hospital smells, and needles?

If only for 15 minutes.

Can you picture it? Parent with arm draped around child. Picture book in lap. Faint smiles. Bright eyes.

If only for 15 minutes.

Christmas is 3 months away. It's time to ask again for your generous spirit. This year I'd like you all to suggest your favorite picture books to wrap and deliver to St. Jude's Hospital. We do this every year with proceeds from Picture Perfect Childhood book sales.

Proceeds from Picture Perfect Childhood are used to buy new picture books. The books must be brand-new and untainted due to the high level of germ exposure used books would bring into the hospital. If you have already purchased Picture Perfect Childhood, perhaps order one for your library, your child's teacher, a new parent, or suggest it to a friend.

For a limited time only, you can order and save money while still giving a percentage to the children at St. Jude's Hospital.

Go to Lulu.com and enter coupon code OKTOBERFEST305 at checkout to receive 15% off your order. This offer is valid in US Dollars only and cannot be applied to previous orders. This offer expires on September 23, 2011 at 11:59 PM, so don't miss out!

Proceeds are collected at end of year and some light and life in art is delivered to St. Jude's on behalf of everyone who purchased a copy of A Picture Perfect Childhood.

Kindly share and help spread a painted splatter on the beds and walls of St. Jude's for the children who live where sun does not often shine and there are more gray clouds than light.

Thank you and God Bless you all!

And please leave picture book suggestions in the comments or on Facebook so your suggestions can be boxed and delivered in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Lesson in Mathematical Patience

{Written in 2009 when Corey was 22 yrs and Chelsea was 11}

Some who read my blog have commented how happy my children seem, they can tell it's so from the smiles. I do put pictures of my children smiling mainly because I'm a proud Mother and I think my children are pretty great...fantastic, in fact. And, yes, they do smile...often.
But blogs are like a magazine cover. They don't show the whole picture.

The picture above speaks volumes and there are no smiles.
I have never claimed to be the perfect mother. That would be totally irresponsible of me and, since some of my children and certain relatives read this blog, they would take me up to task on that declaration.

I have also never claimed to be able to teach math. God forbid! Math drives me bananas. I've always suffered math annoyance and I'm afraid my children think I'm annoyed with them when I'm trying to explain it. I'm not. I'm annoyed with all those little numbers and figures who scatter in numerous directions, won't follow my orderly train of thought, and never do what I want them to do. That's what annoys me.

My children even say I yell!

But I don't.

I may raise my voice, yes...sometimes...but I don't yell. Anyway, I'm not raising my voice at them. I'm raising it at all those squirrely little numbers. Geesh, why do some people have to take things so personally?
I admire the mothers who are patience-made-over (I know a few), who speak in gentle tones, whose voices reinforce, recharge, and revere their young students. I wish to God! that He had blessed me with that gift. He didn't. But something happened last night that reinforced, recharge, and revered ME and reminded me that God is always in control and, in the mist of our weakness and lack of grace, His presence manifolds.
Last night, I tried explaining a math problem to my eleven-year-old daughter, but I didn't want to. I was doing the laundry.

Math versus Laundry? Hands-down. Laundry wins.
My daughter wasn't getting it and I was annoyed again with myself for lack of explaining-skills. All those rambling numbers scurried around the paper like undisciplined delinquents. It was past nine o'clock at night, thus giving merit to the school's theory of teaching math in the early morning. Nine o'clock! Why in the world were we still doing schoolwork? I wanted to go put my feet up and read a book. I wanted to relax.
I took my load of soft, bleach-tinted towels and, with the grace of Scarlett O'Hara, I flounced out of the room. At least I'd like to think I flounced out of the room, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't that graceful. And Scarlett had no grace anyway.

Like Scarlett, I wanted to dissolve in a pitiful heap at the bottom of my stairs and cry into the bounty of freshly washed towels. Only, I don't have stairs in my house. Easier still was claiming this heroine's stance, casting my eyes heavenward and proclaiming that "Tomorrow is other day!" Shake the dust off your feet and get on with what you were doing.

Folding laundry. Yeah, that works for me.

But my poor child still didn't have a clue how to solve the problem and she was pitiful. I knew if I tried explaining it, I would be accused of "yelling" at her even though I was only "raising my voice" at all those unruly little numbers.

My college advisor warned me over twenty years ago that I had a mental block against math. Twenty-years later I'd say she's right. Give me a book to read aloud, a picnic basket with paints and brushes, a field trip to the crawfish farm, a bunch of girls and a kitchen (I do love the kitchen), a ticket to the museum, or a classroom of thirty high schoolers for Louisiana History. I do just fine. I do the dance beautifully. That's my fancy. That's my style. That's my forte.

Ask me to explain a math problem is equal to putting a fly on vinager paper. It's not pretty. In fact, I stink.

But let's get back to last night. It might be that "birds of a feather flock together" or that Corey, the older brother, remembered the stress and anxiety of Mom trying to explain math. He remembered the flouncing and the lifting of my voice. He remembered the inhaling of my breath when the math book was laid open.

It's not something I want my children to remember but God takes my weakness and turns it into someone else's strength.

As I returned from my laundry duty, Corey never said a word but went to the table where his bereaved little sister sat, pencil poised in hand. He gently, patiently explained those math problems to her. He gently and patiently worked through every last problem with her until she understood it.

Did I fail?

I could say what a terrible mother I am. What a loser I am. But I won't. Afterall, I'm Scarlett O'Hara.

The fact is God has blessed me with some really great children. And, as you can see, it isn't anything I've done. It was through my weakness that my son stepped up to the plate.

I prefer to look at the moment and evaluate what was learned. It seems my son learned something more than just math. Afterall, math is math. I didn't learn to make change with money until I was in my thirties. So much for public school teaching me math. When I had to, I've claimed it.

Corey learned something mightier than math. He learned that some things, like gentleness and patience, have more substance than figures. They get us where we need to go while making the trip a whole lot nicer.

God used my human weakness and sinful nature to teach my son in twenty years what took me forty years to learn:

  • to instruct the ignorant
  • to counsel the doubtful
  • to bear wrong problems patiently
  • to comfort the afflicted
Those works of mercy are of infinite worth and immeasureable beauty in the Kingdom of Heaven and both my children will reap the benefits and claim the rewards.

And so will I.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Did We Live Today?

I've heard people say we should not celebrate 9-11.
My whole heart agrees with them, my mind goes beyond it.

The people who died that day 10 years ago would want us to remember that one day does not define an eternity of living.

If anyone passed our house today they might have suspected there was a celebration of sorts happening between our house and our son's new house next door. They would have been correct.

Tomorrow (Sept. 12th) marks the day, 80 years ago, that my father came into a nation weak with depression. The year was 1931.

Life went on and Dad lived his life.

Today was not only 9-11; it was also Grandparent's Day. Grandparents who witnessed not only the terrorist attacks on 9-11-01 but many wars and changes across our nation as well.

Life went on and our grandparents lived their lives.

Today is 9-11 and it is a day worthy of having three veteran's together in the same house:
my father: veteran of the Korean War
my uncle: Green Beret veteran of the Vietnam War
my cousin's husband: veteran of the Gulf War

They fought. They served. The came home.
Life went on and they lived their lives.

They continue to live their lives in a world post-9-11.

Today is a special day.
It is a day to remember our fathers still alive...and our fathers now deceased.
It is a day to visit with our veterans...and pray for those now gone.
It is a day to hug our grandparents...and cherish our days with them...those remaining and those now gone.
It is a day to honor families and those we love.
9-11-01 happened when I was 6 months pregnant with Annie.
I didn't realize the significance of that day. I could barely discern where the Twin Towers were that day as I watched the towers fall and my living room filled with family.
My geographical knowledge has improved somewhat since 9-11.

Today my living room, like those of 9-11 families, differs. Some family members are no longer with us.
New family members have entered the room.

Life goes on...for all those children born in 2001 and after.

I've heard people say we should not celebrate Sept. 11th.
It isn't that we celebrate Sept. 11th.
Rather, it is a day that demands our attention to stop and remember, respect, and celebrate LIFE.

9-11 was a tragically sad day. I do not mean to be insensitive to those who lost their loved ones but I suspect these people would say that, even while their families are not the same as they were 10 years ago, life has gone on and the families who exist today have a new-found appreciation of Life and the people present in their lives today.

9-11 taught us all how to appreciate Life a little better.
We celebrate Life around us and Life beyond us.
We celebrate the people from our past and the people present to us today.

I honestly think those who lost their life on 9-11-01 would  ask us: "How did you live today?"

My father has seen much in 80 years of living.
We pray he has many more years of living and seeing future generations join us in the living room.
We are thankful and blessed to have been able to celebrate his birthday this weekend.
Blessed to have blessed him.

Today he toasted his oldest grandson and fiancee' with styrofoam cups of champagne.
His 80th birthday marked the first party in the couple's new home which he hopes will see many years of happy memories, fun times, sweet tears, and life! Life in abundance!
He passed a torch to the couple who will get married in April 2012.
He handed them the keys to a life which he hopes and prays will be a good life because he knows that life goes on and it's worth celebrating.
 
Do we live it? Life, I mean?
Do we live it in abundance?
Do we love abundantly?
Do we live life fully?
Thankfully?
Joyfully?

Do we?

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