Archive for November, 2010

A Single Sentence


“Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?”

-Kim John Payne, M.ED. Simplicity Parenting

I read this a few weeks back. Then I tried living it; I most often get derailed on the necessary component, although I’ve been known to botch all three in a single day.


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Today I’m grateful for a walk on the beach, sand to explore, barking sea lions,  sand crabs somersaulting, sticks, tar, snacks, dirt, the air dampened by salt and little legs exploring each inch of this terrain. I’m thankful for a napping toddler, sweaty curls, a girl who reads, the freedom to close my own eyes midday and the smell of sage and sherry wafting from downstairs. I’m thankful for family, however small, who gather and team and work fluidly together throughout the afternoon and evening. I’m thankful for the farmers who helped feed us, for seven-year old table decor and for dressing that ushers in those who’ve gone before us.  I’m grateful for dishwashers, ant spray, left-overs, more ant spray and a foot rub that brought a rich, full day to a close. I’m grateful for full bellies, sleeping children, a thought-provoking film and that even when we disagree, common ground is found before the last lamp turns off.

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Last week Hannah and I spent some time learning about a handful of children’s authors. We had a great time exploring  picture books about Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I then had her write a letter to one of her favorite authors, Ms. Betty Birney, in order to tell her how much she appreciated her Humphrey book series. We enclosed this picture and sent it on its way.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she hears back from Ms. Birney. Regardless, I think we both walked away from the week knowing a bit more about some beloved writers and appreciating their craft and their lives in new ways.

“Leadsmen on steamboats measured the depth of the river by lowering a rope into the water. They called back their measurements, or ‘marks,’ to the pilot. Twelve feet deep was ‘mark twain.’ Any shallower and the steamboat was in danger of getting stuck. Sam later started signing his stories ‘Mark Twain.’ With his fondness for stirring up trouble and for river life, it seemed like just the right name for him.” 

– William AndersonRiver Boy; The Story of Mark Twain

 “When Beatrix was in her twenties, she painted the mushrooms she had collected in Scotland during her summer vacations. She had learned a great deal about them. She noted in her diary that rotted mushrooms might be used in cancer research. Beatrix wanted to publish a report and sell the 300 paintings of mushrooms she had completed. Sadly, her research was not taken seriously. Because she lived at a time when men considered themselves the experts in the study of science, her work was not accepted.”

-Alexandra Wallner, Beatrix Potter


“In 1932, when Laura was sixty-five, her first book Little House in the Big Woods was published. Readers loved it. They wanted to know what happened next. Laura wrote seven more books about her family. She was pleased that many people enjoyed her stories. Laura was as good at writing stories as Pa had been at telling them.”

– Alexandra Wallner, Laura Ingalls Wilder

“He was born in 1904 and lived in the best of all possible places – 74 Fairfield Street in Springfield, Massachusetts. The gray three-story house was exactly three blocks from the public library. And it was just six blocks from the zoo.”

Kathleen Krull, The Boy on Fairfield Street

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While driving home from the store this morning, I had a worship CD playing in the car. The song was talking about Christ coming back to earth someday. Here’s the conversation that followed…

Hannah: Wouldn’t it be amazing if Jesus came back tomorrow, Mom?

Mom: Yes, that would be amazing.

Hannah: He could even come back today, right?

Mom: Yes, I suppose He could. (This is where I should have stopped). It’s pretty incredible to think that one day God will come back down from heaven…

Hannah: …Wow! Look at that Christmas tree! That’s a really big one.

Mom: Yeah, it is. As I was saying, when you really stop to think about what it means to…

Hannah: …I think that Daddy would really like those Chicken Enchiladas (referring to the El Polo Loco sign we were driving by).

Mom: I think you’re right.

“One aspect of talking less is realizing that what children mainly hear, in your wash of words, is the current of emotion running through them. And what they understand, more than the details, or any words we could possibly use, are our actions. When we speak of others with respect – whether it’s our mother, bus driver, the president, or the man at the checkout stand – no explanations or distinctions are necessary.”

Kim John Payne, M.ED. author of Simplicity Parenting Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

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The Common Cold

Hannah joined the ranks of sick children today – yesterday really – with your run of the mill cold. Meanwhile, the weather is out doing itself with temperatures in the high 80s. All things considered, we drank Elderberry Concentrate mixed with sparkling water (our new cocktail for the winter months), read lots of books and after naps headed to the beach. I rationalized that Hannah swimming in the salt water (despite its cold temperatures) would not be unlike utilizing a neti pot (which she never would). Her next to last wave jump ended in a complete wipe-out which further secured her saline ingestion for the day. I’ll let you know how my theory plays out.    

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October 31st

Halloween will never make my top twenty for favorite holidays celebrated. Still, I’m equally resolved that banning trick-or-treating will not be the hill I’m going to die on since it seems I’ve already reached my quota of hills. Like so many things in life, this day teeters between beauty and depravity – in the most dramatic of terms. It is a bit mind-boggling how the same day can usher in the best of childhood imagination and dress-up right alongside dark and violent behavior.

On one corner you’ll find bright-colored insects, Strawberry Shortcake and astronauts ready for orbit. Meanwhile, the depravity is just steps away – possibly as close as your next door neighbor’s yard decorations! I will never understand the thought process behind adorning your suburban patch of lawn with bloodied bodies and gravestones. I’ve also grown weary of the number of detached eyeballs one encounters in the days surrounding this holiday. I know, I know, I think too much. But seriously, eyeballs have no business showing up as chocolate covered candies or as a girl scout craft if you ask me (which I realise you didn’t).  

Ironically, this holiday that I’d be happy to delete has over the past several years created some significant memories involving both hope and heartache. Three years ago on Halloween, I boarded a plane and wished my then four year-old kitty cat good luck on her inaugural trick-or-treating venture; I was headed to France to put David to rest in my own terms and timing. The next year, Phil and I accompanied Minnie Mouse around the neighborhood; my sole aim was to not throw up. I’d just found out that we were expecting another baby and although I felt incredibly green, my heart held so much joy.  The following year Phil and I found ourselves missing out on our now six year-old bee buzzing around the block in search of candy. This time it was for the best of reasons; my last close college friend was saying I do and we were fortunate to be able to share in this day.

That brings us to the present – and the picture says it best. We had two insects on our hands this year; to watch the bee show the ladybug the ropes was pretty great. They visited their favorite neighbors, marched in a parade and came home with far more candy than they’ll ever consume. Yes, there were houses to avoid for all of the reasons I mentioned above – eyeballs included. But in the end the beauty outweighed the depravity this time around and for that I was grateful.  


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