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a new day

Sunrise through cedars 2

On any other morning this would be just another sunrise, but this morning it feels special to me. Because I watched it from the family room with Earlybird by my side, and boy, was it extra glorious.

Yesterday I watched the sun rise over the highway as we drove from one hospital to another. Though my thoughts were not so much on the sunrise - striking as it was - but on my dear little boy who was somewhere further up the road in the back of an ambulance. A reality I could hardy wrap my head around.

And so as you can imagine I am deeply grateful to be here this morning with my Earlybird, watching the sunrise, making our biscuits and eggs, running down the drive to get the paper. Doing all those things that are too easy to take for granted, simple things we do every day ... but in light of yesterday's traumatic events, I'm relishing them all the more.

Thank you all SO much for your prayers and messages of love and concern - they mean the world to me, honestly. Last night I was up with Little Bear around 2 a.m. and when he wouldn't settle easily, my mind started wandering ... my ears were pricking for sounds/silence from EB's room ... and my nerves began fraying just a little. To distract myself, I opened up my blog and read through your comments ... and my friends, your words soothed me, your prayers lifted and calmed me.

Bill and I are blessed to have such a support system around us - beginning with each other and extending to our boys, our family and friends and yes, to my dear readers, too. I don't know how we'd be as able and mindful as we are without all this support - on any given day, but especially at times like this.

 I will definitely be posting updates as we go along and as life gets back to normal. We're waiting to hear from the neurologist (hopefully today) about setting up testing for EB. I'm so eager to get that underway, and see what we can find out.

In the meantime, thank you for keeping our Earlybird in your prayers ... be assured that I remember you all in my own.

Blessings, all ... see you here again very soon.

**


Lullaby Magic

Train candle 1

One of the joys of having a baby again is rediscovering all the lovely little things we've forgotten through the years. So as Little Bear grows, Bill and I find ourselves remembering things like familar facial expressions ("That's Crackerjack's smile!" "That's Bookworm's furrowed brow!") and favorite toys and books ("Oh here's Elmo - or MoMo as Earlybird called him!" "Remember how much they all loved this book?") to long forgotten instincts - what a particular cry means and how to rock a wee one just so ... 

Well the other night, as I rocked a fussy baby all across our bedroom floor, it suddenly came to me - a lullaby I sang to each one of my boys, a beloved song that my own father sang to me when I was a child (often accompanied by his guitar) ... I have not thought of it in years! But with a couple of tries the words all came back to me (click the title to hear it online) ...

Morningtown Ride

Train whistle blowing, makes a sleepy noise,
Underneath their blankets go all the girls and boys. 
Heading from the station, out along the bay, 
All bound for Morningtown, many miles away.

*Sarah's at the engine, Tony rings the bell,
John swings the lantern to show that all is well.
Rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay,
All bound for Morningtown, many miles away.

Maybe it is raining where our train will ride,
But all the little travelers are snug and warm inside.
Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is day,
Somewhere there is Morningtown, many miles away.

*Sarah, Tony and John became Bookworm, Crackerjack and Earlybird. :)

I sang it over and over to Little Bear, who crooned right along with me. (He absolutely LOVES music we've discovered.) And to be honest, I actually found myself tearing up because I was just flooded with memories of my first babies - so vividly aware of how fast time does fly - and so completely filled with love for this new one ...

**

My friends, what were/are your favorite songs to sing with your baby? I do love a lullaby but I'm quite partial to Beatles ballads as well. Actually, my go-to sing-a-song is this and it's another I remember fondly from childhood.

:)

Well, enjoy your Friday evening, my friends and Happy Weekend as well!


For those of us with autistic children ...

Autism is not a parenting fail

I saw this on the internet, and these words are such a balm to my heart right now ... I thought I'd share them with my readers who are also parenting an autistic child. I hope this little blurb makes you smile and brings you some encouragement this morning. Goodness knows we need it, don't we?

"What you'll need to find is the right fuel, the right environment and the right supports. With those your child has great potential."

How I love this "prescription" for success!

Have yourselves a wonderful weekend, my friends ...

**


Children and Chores ...

A very interesting article in this past Sunday's Boston Globe Magazine:

Put Them to Work:

"Children don't belong in factories, but they shouldn't get a pass on toiling at home. Here's why it's so important - to the whole family - that kids grab a sponge and get busy."

By Agnes R. Howard

How do you feel about your own children's chores? Could/should they be doing more?

I'm at a point right now in this pregnancy where I'm looking at what my kids are doing and if/how I can ask them to do more. I tend to think they're doing plenty, but then I read lists of what a "__ year-old" can handle and I'm usually a bit shocked.

Food for thought today, my friends ... just wanted to share!

:)


Good Morning!

This wonderful article brought a smile to my face and had me nodding my head this morning. Had to share!

17 Things 'The Princess Bride' Taught Me about Autism Parenting

I love all 17 points, but these three especially:

4. You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

Be patient. Change and growth takes time, and there are no corners to be cut here. Every kid is working to their own schedule and developing at their own rate.

7. Success means using the right moves for the terrain.

There is no definitive intervention for autism. The choices that other people make may not be the right ones for your family, and vice versa. And that's OK. Don't ever let anyone make you feel otherwise.

9. Inconceivable doesn't mean impossible.

Your kids will achieve things beyond what you ever expected or imagined. Believe this, and they'll believe it, too.

It's good to remember that though our situations may be different, and we all face different challenges, we're not alone. This article made me smile and I hope it does the same for you.

:)

Blessings on your day, my friends!

**


Peace be with You!

September 21st is International Peace Day, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite sayings today. It's actually a magnet on my fridge:

Peace magnet

I know this holiday is about world peace in particular, but I truly believe peace begins in the home, and that a peaceful future rests in the hands of our children. Because if we don't show them how to be peaceful people, who will? Certainly not the media, and probably not their peers ...

I'm actually using a "peace-curriculum" with Earlybird because this is a real issue for my autistic son - handling chaos and keeping in control. My goal is to help EB find and maintain his own peace, even when his mind and body are telling him otherwise. We're also exploring what it means to be part of a peaceful community - whether that be a family, a group of friends or the outside world at large.

These are big concepts - and the steps are small - but every little bit helps.

:)

So each morning when I reach in my fridge for my half-and-half, I take a moment to look at that magnet. Some days this concept is easier live by than others - and some days it feels near impossible! But I honestly feel if I can keep some peace within myself, I can (hopefully) share it with others as I go through my day. Most importantly, my own dear sons.

So on this beautiful Friday in September, I wish all of you peace in your hearts and your homes ...

Have a great weekend, my friends!



Mornings + Teens = ?

Elizabeth KP had a question about sleepy teens ...

Your morning sounds great! But, do you have any hints for getting a homeschool 16 year old boy UP in the morning? Don't suggest a great breakfast -- he doesn't want any breakfast I offer! That doesn't work! Anyone have a suggestion for me? He would sleep til 9:00 or 9:30 if left to his own clock. (In fact, he has quite a few times recently, even though I come to his room several times to "suggest" he get up (at which time he acts all offended!!). Help!! 

Now, I can only answer in regards to my own homeschooled 16 year old boy - who, by the way, just came out to the kitchen at 8 a.m. - because, as with anything, all kids are different. But I'm pretty sure it's a biological fact that teenagers need more sleep than the rest of us - so I try to allow Bookworm a little wiggle room when it comes to the morning routine. That said, I have never allowed my kids to sleep in past school hours, except for when they were sick ... but they've always been early(ish) risers, so that hasn't been much of a problem.

First of all, we insist on a regular bedtime for all the boys. Earlybird konks out pretty early - usually between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Then we allow the older two to watch something on TV - either a recorded television show or part of a movie. By 9 p.m. they're sent off to bed, to read for a while, and then Bill goes down to lead prayers. Crackerjack usually fades fast after that, but Bookworm is allowed to stay up and read by book-light for a bit. (The older two share a bedroom.) We leave it to him to judge when lights-out should be ... and I just asked him to clarify, and he said he usually falls asleep around 10.

In the mornings, I first open the boys' bedroom door around 7 a.m. I quietly enter the room - turn off their fan, open the blinds and crack the window open (wide on nice days, just a bit on cold ones). Then I quietly walk back out. I don't ask them to get up at this point. I try to let them just wake on their own.

If it gets past 7:30 I go back in the room and "remind" the boys it's time to get up. And if it gets close to 8 (as it did today) I go back in again and turn on the (bright) overhead light.

I think what gets Bookworm out of bed in the morning is knowing that if he wants to have time to do the things he wants to do - check his email, play a video game, read the funnies, etc. - he knows the earlier he gets up the bigger this window of time will be. I sometimes remind the boys of that when I'm waking them up. ("If you want to have time on the computer, you have to get up now - otherwise you'll just have time to eat and wash up before starting lessons.")

So I think it's a combination of getting Bookworm to sleep at a reasonable hour (by 10 p.m.) and then waking him ahead of the time he needs to get up. Giving warnings as needed ... and allowing him to manage his morning "free time" by deciding just how quickly he'll get out of bed.

I have no idea if any of this will be of any use to you, Elizabeth, but that's how we do things here. You mention your son doesn't like to hear your "suggestions" and I think at this age it's often a tricky balance between directing/disciplining our kids and letting them take responsibility for their actions. I hope some of my readers chime in with what works for them ... I know this is a common issue with families of teens, both homeschooled and not.

Oh, and speaking of teens, here's a wonderful article about homeschoolers and college: "Homeschooled Students Well-Prepared for College, Study Finds." That's great to hear, isn't it? We knew this of course ... it's just nice to know everyone else is realizing it! :)

Well, my friends, it's a busy morning for us, so I'd best wrap this up. If you have any thoughts and/or strategies on teens and the morning routine, please do share them in the comments below!

I will see you all again very soon ...

(And p.s. It sounds like the "beauty products post" is of interest to some readers, so I'll put that together for tomorrow. See you then ... if not before!)


A Happy Mother's Day Brunch ❤

MD brunch 1

Well, this has been such a lovely day!

We had an early start (natch) ... I savored my first cup of coffee in bed ... then headed into the kitchen to bake something special for brunch. And just before leaving for Mass, I pulled this buttermilk-blueberry breakfast cake from the oven ...

Md brunch 3

Earlybird helped, especially with the lemon zest and the tossing of berries with flour. (He has a special love for lemons, lol.) I highly recommend this recipe ... it's very easy to make and super delicious to eat!

MD brunch 10

In my big red glass decanter, I mixed up a cold, fruity punch - it was just a strawberry juice blend mixed with seltzer - simple, but special. There were supposed to be floating strawberry slices too, but alas - I forgot to buy fresh strawberries! I served this over ice, in our pretty green glasses, and it was a very refreshing drink. The moms got a splash of Malibu rum just to give it a little zing.

MD brunch 5

EB and I scoured the yard for our "floral arrangements." You really can't beat azaleas for bright, punchy color, and as for dandelions ... well, if you're a mom, there's a special place in your heart for dandelions. :)

The rest of the meal consisted of two homemade quiches (one plain, one bacon) made by my mother, and a plate of apple-chicken sausages grilled up by Bill. There was also fresh fruit, a few pastries and freshly brewed coffee. And then of course there was the aforementioned blueberry cake ... I made up some whipped cream, just to put it over the top!

***

And here's a handmade card from my boys ...

MD brunch 4

"Mom, like the parable says, you are the tree and we are the branches. You support us and help us in everything we do."

      (And here is my heart --><-- swelling with love.)

Here I am with my Mum ...

MD brunch 6

I will always count my mum as one of my greatest blessings in life. She not only gave me life - which, hello, you can't beat that as gifts go! - but she showed me how to live in a sincere and honorable way. She taught me how to be a lady, and that family always comes first. Today she supports my life in any way she's able ... she never hesitates to help or encourage, and she's the kindest person I know.

Without a doubt, the mom I am today is thanks to the mom she's been to me ...

I love you, Mum!


And here we have two special gifts ...

MD brunch 7

The pen was a gift from our pastor this morning - there was a basket filled by the door, a pen for every mom - and how I love the bright pink! (The message is lovely, as well.) And we will always know who this belongs to, because anything pink in this house must be mine, lol! ;)

Now, the item sitting behind the pen takes some explaining ...

Crackerjack, as you all know, is taking an art class this year. He enjoys it so very much and we've been pleased to see him take such pleasure (and pride) in his artistic endeavors. Well, a few months ago, the class worked on clay projects ... I'd pick up CJ from class and he'd be covered in bits of clay, and his hands were so dry they'd drive him crazy! But he told me - very sincerely - that he couldn't tell me what he was making ... but that "someday," I'd know.

(Every mother knows what this means, but we never ever give away that we do.)

Well, come to find out - though not in the way CJ meant me to - he made a little teacup for me, knowing how much I truly love tea. He made some swirly rose shapes for the edge, and painted it all in my favorite shades of yellow, orange and red. And once it was dry and "set," he brought it home, just in time for Mother's Day ....

But then he left it in his bag.

The bag that sat in his bedroom.

Under his brother's bag, and, as the days went by, a multitude of other things such as shoes, jackets, toys and a couple of books.

>.<

While I was out shopping yesterday, Bill tried valiantly to glue it back together for CJ ... but as you can see, there was nothing he could do. The cup was crushed - and so was CJ - he rushed to tell me about it the moment I walked in the door.

And oh my gosh, my heart just broke ... because he tried so hard to make this such a big and special surprise. But I assured my 12 year old son - my sensitive one, who truly takes everything to heart - that I loved this unique cup first and foremost, because HE made it himself. It was made by his hands - with me in his mind and his heart. And that no matter its original purpose, I would love it and cherish it all the same.

So now ... I have a really awesome paperweight! Something that will hold down a stack of papers to grade, or receipts to look through or maybe some magazine clippings to peruse ...

Best of all, it's something that will always make me smile, and that's something I can truly use, every day.

:)

Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice Sunday, and if you're a mom (in any capacity) I wish you all a happy and relaxing evening. My night looks to be fairly simple - just as I like it - a little reading, a little supper, a little TV. Can't wait to catch our two favorite shows ... and can't wait to come back in the morning to chat with you all about it!

So thanks as always for stopping by and sharing in my day ... I will see you all again very soon!


A Lovely Little Painting

Sons and heroes painting 1

You might remember a while back I did a Spring Package Giveaway here at my blog. Well, the winner of the contest, EK White, sent me her own little "thank you" package in return! It arrived just the other day, a happy little parcel sticking out of my mailbox - and OH, how it made my day! Inside the package I found (in addition to a lovely note), this beautiful piece of artwork, which EK made herself. It's a mixed-media painting, done in soft blues and greens, and featuring a truly wonderful quote:

 "You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they will turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes."

~ Walter M. Shirra, Sr.

EK, thank you so much for this gift - I will treasure it always!

I'd like to mention, dear readers, that EK has a lovely Etsy shop where you can find paintings like this (and many other pretty things, too). You must take a look!

:)

And speaking of pretty things, may I direct your attention to the brand spankin' new banner at the top of my page? I'm so excited about this new banner! And let me tell you why. I have always admired photo banners, but I have never taken the time to figure out how to do one properly. So up till now, when I do a photo for my banner, the dimensions are such that the image gets tiled. Not quite the look I was going for, but the best I could do! Well, today I explained this issue to Bill and, as he is known to do, he took over and within five minutes had the whole thing figured out! He showed me what to do (with pixels and whatnot) and ... voila! I now have a full photo banner JUST as I've always wanted! I'm tempted to play around with new images, but I really like these pale flowers for now. I bought them at Trader Joe's this morning, where I was picking up some fresh edamame (our new favorite snack). I could not resist these lovely blooms - so delicate and sweet - I love the way their petals catch the sun.

Well, my friends, I hope you are enjoying your weekend. It's a lovely one here in New England - sunny and unseasonably warm. (Marathon Monday may hit 90 degrees!) Tomorrow I will be catching up on blog comments (I'm sorry I've once again fallen behind ...) and then, look for my "Masterpiece Monday" post to focus on this weekend's Titanic, more so than MC's Edwin Drood. I do plan to watch Edwin Drood at some point next week, but this weekend I'm all about Titanic.

 So have a good night, everyone ... take care and God Bless!

I'll see you again sometime soon ...



Wednesday Teatime

Wedstea2

On this last day of autumn, it's most certainly dark, but there's no sun to speak of - just a cold, heavy rain. Days like these are just made for afternoon tea ...

My Wednesday brew is Lemon Lift, and I've paired it with one of my lemon snowballs. I'm a big fan of lemon - flavor and smell - especially when it's paired with cinnamon or ginger. (Random fact: I craved lemon through all of my pregnancies, but especially with Bookworm. To this day I adore lemon danish.)

So it's a very cozy corner I find myself in right now ...

Wedstea1
I took my tea a little earlier than usual, because Bill and the boys headed out to do their "man shopping." :) All I know is that it concerns me - but it cannot involve me, and for a happy little while the house was really and truly quiet. And I was completely by myself. (Even the cats were asleep!) So I hurriedly switched on the kettle and readied my mug ...

I looked through the Globe food pages - all about "holiday baking" this week - and I thought about how I want these next few days to go. Less busy-ness, more mindfulness. Easier said than done at this time of year, but at least I can try ...

I also stared at this lovely print which is sitting on the opposite side of the room ... something I bought (yes, for myself!) while I was out and about this morning.

Wedstea3

Such beautiful words, aren't they?

Bill hasn't had a chance to hang it yet, but I think it will look nice here in our sitting/learning room. The background is not quite black - more of a sooty dark brown. And the lettering is done in an off-white pinkish hue. I think it ties in with the room colors nicely.

And do you know what? I found it on clearance at T.J. Maxx!

Wedstea5

Money well spent, I think, because I'll enjoy pondering these words every day:

Our family is a circle of LOVE ...

Of course, words like these are certainly beautiful, but it's our example that teaches our children best:

When we show them how to be positive, even when we're unsure.

When we show them how to recognize their blessings.

When we show them how to share joy with others.

In doing these things, we exercise our "family muscle" and the more we exercise the stronger we'll be!

TOGETHER we are unbreakable ...

:)

Well ... dear readers, I didn't mean to get so deep, so enough of my armchair philosophizing! (Lol, I get rambly when I'm tired!)

So, I'll call it a day ... it's well and truly dark now, and the menfolk are still out there somewhere. But they'll be home soon so it's time to rustle up supper ... Now, don't forget: the Solstice arrives just after midnight (est), so be sure to say "Happy Winter" in the morning! Also, if you have a chance, please leave a "cookie comment" at our poll - and many thanks to those who have already "voted!"

Have a good - warm, safe - night, my friends. I will see you here again sometime soon!



Planning Ahead vs Real Life

Before I jump into my "cranberry week" post (that will come next for sure), I wanted to address something that Kristie mentioned in a comment she left yesterday ...

I love the weekly themes, but I can't see that working for me. My weekly themes would go like this: this week is flower week, but the flowers I wanted to observe have not bloomed yet...at the beginning of evergreen week, I would find that trees were going to be half off the week after...during our state week, we would end up out of state on a trip. =) (Just examples, I never thought of theme weeks, but the above would drive me crazy!)

Does that ever happen to you? How do you deal with it if it does and if not, then how do you get that not to happen?!?

Lol, yes Kristie, these things happen to me all the time! And this is a really good point and I actually should have addressed it in my original post ...

The thing is, these seasonal themes are very flexible! Not only do I often shuffle them around, but some weeks nothing - absolutely nothing - gets done according to theme

And that might be disappointing, but well - that's life. I don't mean to sound glib, and sure I get frustrated when things don't fit in like I planned, but I try to remember that keeping things real is my ultimate goal.

"Real" meaning, whatever our family life was that week - the highs and the lows. So maybe other things captured our attention and took over our time (and my energy). Maybe our week was too busy to fit in any "extras" at all. Or maybe we got sick and it all "flu" out the window!

Case in point, this week - which I dubbed "nest and hibernation" week. I had all these ideas - so many great ideas! And then Monday afternoon I got hit hard with the flu. At first I thought I could still pull some things off since we could "nest" on the couch as I recovered. But what actually happened? I slept all day! I just could not stay upright, lol. And I wasn't particularly pleasant to be around. So I didn't have the energy to make up our "winter nests" as I planned (flannel sheets, comfy quilts) and nobody felt like taking a "nest walk" while mom was sick at home ... so what happens to "nest" week? Well, it could just be dismissed, to be revisted next year ... or I could take those ideas and fit them in some other time. "Nesting and hibernation" works as well in December as it does mid-November.

Remember those "gratitude leaves" I didn't start on time? Well, I caught up and we kept going with it ... but I can tell you, we fell way behind on leaves this week! I do plan to catch up as best we can - but if we don't have 24 leaves hanging from the window on Thankgiving Day (as originally planned) that's OK. Because it will be US. And remember, I'm going for real. :)

As I've said, this is all very casual ... because these activities are supposed to be subtle. They're supposed to fit into our life, quite naturally. I don't want them to feel forced. (This is so key!) I want them to resonate with the seasons but also with our reality. I don't want to manipulate our family experience - I want to enhance it.

So to address your potential scenarios, Kristie (which made me giggle!) ... I'd suggest you might move things around a little! Wait a week on your flowers, or perhaps make "waiting and watching" part of your week. Visit the yard daily and keep track of any new growth ... look up the language of the flowers you've chosen ... visit a nursery to look at flowers already in bloom. And as for the evergreens - why not get a head start? Learn about them, identify evergreens in your own environment, collect cones and make crafts. Do all this before you head to the farm ... you'll be all the more "geared up" when you get there!

Keep your themes in mind - plan for them, certainly! - but try to remain flexible and work things in around where life takes you.

(Now, I try to take my own advice as best I can - but I well understand the need to keep things neat and tidy - you know how much I love schedules and plans! Themes look so nice all written down in order, especially when matched up with specific events - say, a field trip or feast day. But I try to work with what life hands us because goodness knows - I'm not the one really in charge!)

So I guess, Kristie, my advice would be to do what feels natural and try not to worry if things don't go as you hoped. In my experience things almost never do! I'd also say, if you know you'll go crazy when things don't match up - don't overplan! Just pick a couple of things for a week, or just brainstorm a list of activities to pick from through the month. Then if you don't get to them you won't feel like you put all this energy into planning things that never panned out. 

And if you only fit in only a fraction of all you had "planned" - well, you still did some really nice things for your family. I doubt very much they'll miss what you didn't do ... but I bet they'll appreciate and remember what you did. 

So I hope this post helps a little, Kristie - if only to share with you my own take on "fitting it all in." It's something I work on too, adjusting my own expectations. (Life with a special needs child has taught me that well!) And I don't mean to make it sound like I'm completely laid back on all this - I tend to be too "Type A" for that! But as I say, I do try to go with the flow as best I can - working with the seasons as well as my family.

Sorry to ramble on so long but your comment really got me thinking! And by the way Kristie, please don't stop asking your questions - I love them! They get me thinking and let me know when I'm unclear or missing something or need to address something further. I appreciate that you take the time to read and "review!" :)

To all my readers ~ I hope you have a lovely weekend. I'm feeling so much better and ready to catch up with all my pre-Thanksgiving preparations. Needless to say that farm visit didn't happen last week, but we'll fit a Whole Foods trip in this weekend. And there's lots to do around here before Turkey Day ... my list has lots of little boxes to check off!

So I'll be off for now ... but I'll be back again soon. Have a good one, my friends!

~**❤**~


Thoughtful Thursday ~ Our Vulnerable Hearts

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."  ~ Elizabeth Stone

I've always liked this quote, but it's come to mean more to me as my boys grow and we experience more of life together. Watching our children go about their lives is like watching our own hearts out there, feeling and hoping and worrying and wondering. Life is an adventure, with expectations and surprises and all kinds of ups and downs. Today I was reminded just how vulnerable we are, we parents who dearly love our children ... 

We started our day at the doctor's office, where the older boys underwent their annual physicals. (Earlybird's visit is later this month; he stayed home with my mum this morning.) Everything went well during the exams - our pediatrician is fantastic, and both Bookworm and Crackerjack checked out A-OK. But before we could go, CJ had to get two vaccinations (ouch!) and both boys were sent down to the lab for routine bloodwork. 

So we found ourselves waiting at the - extraordinarily busy - lab, and as we waited, I asked Bookworm if he was ok going in alone or if he wanted me to come in with him. He assured me he was fine to go in alone, and so in he went after being called, and Crackerjack and I continued to wait.

But just a minute or two later, from inside the lab we heard someone shouting, "Help! Help! Help!" and techs came running from all over. For only a very brief second did I worry that the fuss might have anything to do with my son. There were plenty of people in there having blood drawn, and some were elderly and frail. But suddenly a woman came out to the waiting room to find "Bookworm's" mom. She asked me to please come with her, and to leave my younger son behind. I knew immediately something had happened to Bookworm and - oh my goodness, my friends - my heart just froze. I turned to Crackerjack (who was white as a sheet, eyes wide as saucers) and assured him everything was ok, that he should wait for me there and I would be right back.

When I entered the lab I immediately spotted Bookworm on the floor, passed out cold, with people all around him. He was slowly coming to but there was blood everywhere (or so it seemed to his frantic mother's eyes at the time). Apparently Bookworm, upon first seeing his blood being taken just up and fainted, falling out of the chair to the floor (jostling the needle and making the blood go everywhere). Friends, I should tell you right now that Bookworm is absolutely fine, but let me admit - it was an awful experience to see my boy on the floor like that.

Thankfully, he came to right away, though he was obviously disoriented and absolutely ashen. The lab techs (all wonderfully kind, helpful people) moved him to a reclining chair and got him some juice. I stayed with him and comforted him, worried over him - all the while thinking of my other son left behind in the waiting room who was most assuredly a nervous wreck - as much for himself as his brother!

And sure enough, when I went to get Crackerjack he was rather emotional, and he became even more so when I brought him in to where Bookworm was resting. I explained what had happened but stressed that his brother was all right - he just needed to rest. There was an awfully nice lady helping us out - she stayed with us and kept us entertained (distracted) with funny anecdotes and random questions for the kids. Soon enough, Bookworm was able to stand and was assisted out to the waiting room. I stayed with Crackerjack who was being prepped for his bloodwork. The poor kid was understandably a bit panicked, but thankfully - after insisting he NOT look at the needle in his arm - the tech was able to take his blood smoothly. 

Our drive home was quick - Bookworm sipped on his o.j., leaning his head against the open window along the way. Once home, he ended up getting sick a couple of times (fraying my maternal nerves a bit more) but after some rest and a few cool facecloths, he soon perked up and by lunchtime was feeling 100% fine.

So yes, this was quite a morning ... once things settled, I declared it a "sick day" - more a "mental health" day for me! - and we took the rest of the day off to recoup. And here we are now, in the late afternoon ... Bookworm's in the next room humming and snapping his fingers and talking to Crackerjack about some Lego creation they've built. The household energy is back - life feels balanced again.

But oh, my heart felt so fragile today - I felt it right there on the floor beside Bookworm, and it was beating so fast and with such fright. Like the quote at the top of my post says, it's not mine anymore - my heart now resides in my children - wherever they go and whatever they do. Whatever happens to them, it happens to me. Sure it might be safer kept tucked inside - but how much would it miss if it were? Well the answer is everything - it would miss everything. Every up and down, every bit of this great big adventure. It would miss it all.

I'm sorry I'm getting a little sappy here, it's just ... to know that what happened was an anomaly - not something harmful or life altering - is a great, big, blessed relief. But as I savor that relief, I am mindful of those parents whose children are injured, missing or seriously ill. And my heart breaks for those who have suffered the unimaginable loss of a child. I cannot possibly know their worry and grief, but I can offer them and their loved ones my heartfelt prayers.

I'll wrap up now but thank you, as always, for stopping by. My friends, hug your children extra tight tonight, and let them know your heart is always with them - everywhere and anywhere. In this life and the next. 

*Goodnight and God Bless*


Rainbow Connection

A little while ago, as the sun shone through a sudden downpour, I set down the laundry I was folding and Bill put down the spatula he was wielding and we took the boys outside to look for rainbows. 
We were not disappointed!

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"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work." ~ anonymous

Hope your weekend's been happy!

Mitten Strings for God: Chapter Six (TV)

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"In our house, eliminating television cleared a space for the things we really care about. In fact, I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that turning off the TV was the greatest single thing my husband and I have done to foster creativity, imaginative play and independent thinking in our children."

I must say, this chapter lined up rather neatly, because as it turns out, next week is National Turn off Your TV Week. Susan has a great post about it here, and she links to an interesting blog here.

This No-TV Week thing always gives me pause to consider ~ Could we live without TV? Would we want to? (It first came to my attention, ironically enough, on Arthur years ago.) We've never actually done it, though - turned the TV off entirely, as Ms. Kenison's family has done. I love that quote at the top of my post because I can only imagine how rich and lively their home life must be without the interference of the Tube. And that's how I kind of see TV in our life at this point. Mostly benign, mostly in the background. We are very selective/protective about what we turn on (for ourselves and or kids), and in the scope of family life, as long as TV remains a condiment and not the main meal, we'll be OK.

But, let me be frank. I LOVE the idea of no TV. Or I should say, I LOVE the idea of less TV. I have nothing but respect and admiration for people who have no interaction with media at all. But, call me a child of the 70s ~ I simply can't imagine having no access to TV at all. How would we watch our Patriots games in the fall? How would we watch the presidential debates? How would I watch Jane Austen on Masterpiece or John Adams on HBO?

And more to the point ~

How would I get supper on the table at night?

Here are my general feelings on this topic: I think we (meaning, my family) watch a fair amount of tv, but not too much. Bill and I watch one primetime series, Lost, and an occasional miniseries such as the aforementioned John Adams. We also watch a local newsmagazine, Chronicle, and the Martha show when we find time. (Yes, you read that right ladies, he watches Martha with me.) And then of course there are those Sox games and Pats games. :) At night, after the boys have gone to bed, mostly I like to read (and now knit), and ahem, blog. Bill likes to relax on the couch next to me, and he is in charge of the clicker ~ he pauses very kindly when I find I have something to say. ;)

The boys watch PBS shows (Fetch is a favorite) and a select few other kid shows like VeggieTales and Pokemon. Earlybird loves videos, especially the There Goes a ... series and he also enjoys How it's Made. Oh, yes, and Tiger Woods. He loves Tiger Woods. :)

(And while we're talking kids's shows, I must mention my personal favorite, which I would watch on my own if necessary ~ Little Bear. Is there a sweeter show? I think not.)

With the PBS shows an exception, we watch things we've Tivo'd so there is very little commercial viewing (if any).

I don't think we would ever go NO TV, but I do think we can stand to survey our viewing habits now and again. I have always said to the boys re their video game playing and television viewing that as long as we detect no difference in the amount of time they read or in the way they play and imagine, they may continue to watch and play (in the electronic sense) as they do. (To this I've also added, as long as they can still "be" (happily), outside - as long as they can connect easily with nature - then I'll know our viewing habits are still under control.)

So, right this very minute (5:52 p.m.) supper is underway, and where are my boys? Well, Bookworm is swinging, Earlybird is playing in the dirt and Crackerjack has strapped on a swashbuckling sword and announced fair warning to all ~ "I'm a pirate," says he.

So we're good. :)

Now, let me open the floor. I welcome any and all thoughts on this chapter, but I'd also like to to know if you plan to participate in the Turnoff next week. (And why or why not?)

And, just for fun, please tell me what SHOW you could not live without? :)

Thanks for joining me here. I hope you all have a good weekend!

"When it comes to TV, less is more."


Book Study ~ Mittenstrings for God

As I mentioned a while back (gosh, was it weeks ago?) I would love to host an online Mfg2_2book study, focusing on my favorite parenting book of all time, Mittenstrings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry. When I first mentioned this idea, I had several people express interest in joining me; I hope I've given everyone time enough to track down a copy and to read into it a bit. On my end, I've started my "real life" book study group (our first meeting was wonderful) and I finally got around to working up a little blog button, as you can see there above. Actually I finally had to admit technological defeat and ask Bill to make it for me. It came out rather nice, don't you think? :)

Anyway, about the book study ~ I'd like to look at one chapter a week, for as long as folks are interested in the topics. (Here's my original post in which I outline the chapter topics.) And really, even if you don't have the book, the issues are all familiar to anyone who is mothering her children in today's hectic world. I hope the study is helpful to everyone who reads here.

So, I will start with the first chapter, this Friday, March 7th (topic: Dailiness). I will probably post a brief quote and then make a few remarks. I will then invite readers to leave their own thoughts in the comments box ~ or to leave a link to a post at their blog. You are all more than welcome to use my button at your site.

You know, I've read this book many times, but each time I come away refreshed and reminded of how I wish things to be for my family. I do hope you'll consider joining me this Friday, but for now, I'll leave you with this quote from the introduction:

"No doubt some of the notions in these pages will seem simple. But I find it is most often the simple gesture or the small goal well met that reaps the greatest reward. And, in our busy lives, it is often the simple gesture that is overlooked, the simple need that is never satisfied ...

We all know this to be true. But sometimes we forget."

Have a great night, everyone. Keep warm and be well!


For Story Hour: The Princess Bride

Last night the boys watched Bill's favorite movie of all time, The Princess Bride. I'd like to sayPbride_2 I enjoyed it along with them, but I'm afraid I fell asleep just before Buttercup and Westley encountered the dreadful R.O.U.S. (I know ~ what a spot to fall asleep, lol!) Maybe we'll watch it again later today - after all, there's no more football to follow. (Not till August anyway.) ;)

But what has me all excited this morning is I just discovered - or I should say remembered, because I know I knew this - the movie is based on a a book written by William Goldman in 1973.

As the mother of three boys, I am always on the look-out for lively and engrossing tales - tales that will capture their attention and spark their imaginations. And like the 1987 movie with which I'm quite familiar, the book seems to offer all a young lad could hope for in a story:

"Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

The reviews were excellent at Amazon. Have you read it before? Have your children?

I've decided to order it request it from the library (and preview it), and it is my hope that we might institute a family read-alound time before bed. A nice way to spend a dark winter evening, don't you think? (Can you tell I've been reading Mrs. Sharp again?)

"Now it is story time, a half hour until lights are out. Story time is sacred in Mrs. Sharp's home. As with dinner, no phone calls are accepted while we're putting the children to bed. This uninterrupted attention gives children a wonderful sense of security and, by focusing so completely on them, Mrs. Sharp eliminates much of the tension that inevitably comes when they prolong bedtime. Very often, pleas for one more cup of water are really requests for much-needed attention after a long day apart.

As for the evening's oral entertainment, when the children were smaller, we read a variety of short picture books, but children adore continuing sagas, and even tots as young as four will settle down to hear a chapter a night. This sharing of a longer story together, as it unfolds over many nights, can become a conversation topic and a wonderul bond between parent and child."

It's a tricky time when our children move from picture books (eagerly requesting one after the next) to reading on their own (perhaps just as voraciously). It is all too easy to become separate readers at this time. I am thrilled my boys are avid readers - they are frequently found curled up with their book of the moment. But we mustn't forget the magic of reading aloud all together. The joy of a good tale is only enhanced when it is a shared experience.

So that's my plan of action. I think I will begin a list of books that fit this purpose - excellent, boy-friendly, rousing read-aloud tales. I'll post this list before too long, and if you have any favorites to suggest, I'm all ears!

Happy Sunday, everyone. Keep warm and well! :)


A Special Book ~ Lost and Found Again!

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My mum and I were shopping in Barnes & Noble this weekend, and naturally I spent most of my time in the children's section. With Christmas just around the corner, it's a perfect excuse time to lavish myself my children (and other children I love) with new books. ;)

Well, as I walked about making mental notes for future holiday shopping (this was mainly a reconnaissance mission) I spied the above book sitting front and center on the bargain book shelf. I froze in my tracks and almost - no I think I did - squeal audibly: Oh my goodness, I remember that book!

It was indeed a larger version of a little, and much beloved, lift-the-flap book we bought for Bookworm when he was just a wee babe - about 12 years ago! (It might not surprise you that I had baskets of books for my first child long before he was born.)

Well that tiny tome has long since been lost and, if I recall, most of the flaps had been ... well, there's just no other way to say it ... ripped off. But oh how I loved it. We loved it together; it was such a special part of our winter reading. (You have to see the pages - exquisitely illustrated - to know what I mean). Even though our son was barely six months old, I remember that year I set up a small winter reading nook, and this book was right there, surrounded by lighted evergreens, peppermint candles and tiny woodland toys. Caught up in new parenthood I didn't realize how special that book was (nor how quickly time would fly), but years later I long to cherish that story (and those memories) again.

So finding this book yesterday - and in a larger, ahem, sturdier size - was such a happy surprise. And it cost all of $7.98! Bookworm will remember it and Crackerjack too - but Earlybird is just the right age for it to be his special book now. (Did I mention the little bunny finger puppet in the back?) This will be one of EB's birthday surprises next month. :)

Peekaboo's author, Mary Melcher, is one of my favorite illustrators. (Just fyi, since we're talking children's books here, the others would be Tasha Tudor, Susan Branch, Jan Brett, Marjolein Bastein, Sharon Lovejoy, Kay Chorao, Mary Engelbreit, Barbara Cooney and Elisa Kleven. I know there are more, but that's all I can think of right now.)

Ms. Melcher only made a few books that I'm aware of: The Best Thing about Valentines and the original Peekaboo Bunny (a garden themed story) as well as a book with which I'm unfamiliar, Mommy Who Does God Love? But you might recognize her artwork from her lovely greeting cards, which were my first foray into her adorable world of tiny animals and pretty landscapes.

Yes, her characters are cute (mostly bunnies and bears), but what I love most about those cards are the landscapes and how real they look - soft, shaded and natural. Februrary's sky is cloudy and gray with a touch of pink at the horizon. The trees are bare and a bit of snow is in the air. Her Halloween cards are all golden sunshine and peachy sunsets. These touches make such a difference - they capture the season.

When I was in high school, my best friend Sabina and I would collect MM cards and exchange them for every possible occasion you could imagine. At the time (late 80s) her cards were very easy to find, but then sadly, they went missing for a while. Well, I'm happy to say a few years ago I found them at of all places, Target! Do look for them if you have a chance. They are just so sweet and seasonal. Usually I buy one of each card first (for collecting) and then pick various cards to send out. ;)

And while I'm on the subject of children's books, and Barnes & Noble, if you happen to be there, you might spy a set of three large hardcover books of poetry, recently reissued by B&N:

We own all three, each one illustrated by the late Gyo Fujikawa. Oh the post I could write about her books! They are wonderful. Sweet, simple, innocent and adorable. I believe they were originally published in the 70s (a time I am most nostalgic for, as it was my childhood era). Do you remember these books? I'm not sure I actually owned them, but her illustrations were so familiar to me when I first found these books years ago. I treasure them, and am so happy they have decided to keep publishing them and at an afforable price ($8.95 apiece).

(For the record, I like the middle book listed the best. Lots of great poems to choose from, all of them spread out over Oh_what_a_busy_daypages brought to life with charming sketches. Perfect for perusing with your little ones - or medium ones or big ones, too!)

And if you can ever find Ms. Fujikawa's long out-of-print, Oh, What a Busy Day - ooh, grab it! This mght be my most favorite children's book ever. It captures the joys of an everyday homey kind of day when you're little.

OK, I've kept you here long enough! Now I must be off to get started on what promises to be a very busy week! There will be much cleaning and cooking (20 guests coming on Thursday!) and I hope many grateful moments - for so many things - but today for special books and the memories they plant in our hearts.


Coffee, chocolate and quiet ...

Well this just never happens.

It's 9:00 p.m. and my entire household is quiet. Pin-drop quiet! Each and every family member is asleep (even the cats). But not me. No, here I am still awake - wide awake! - watching the programs I Tivo'd today.

It was an odd kind of day for me - a fast-forward kind of day. I'm such a slow-lane, homebody kind of gal, but today I hardly sat down, dashed in and out, got lots done and ended up at an evening meeting with our VBS (vacation bible school) group at which I chatted, danced, crafted and drank a very large coffee (splash of cream, one sugar) ... and that, my friends, in a nutshell (or styrofoam cup as it were), would explain why I am still awake and jazzed enough to blog and catch up with Regis and Kelly.

Anyhoo, the whole point to my post was not to startle you with my coffee jitters, but to show you this:

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My incredibly excited, happy-go-lucky, VBS crew leader kid, who won a little contest tonight at our meeting, by remembering more Bible points than anyone else, and landed himself a ginormous bar of chocolate (real word; see here) for which he has big plans (involving graham crackers and a can of vanilla frosting).

Mainly I just wanted to remember this night - hazy, humid and smelling like summer - and the glee of my 12 year old boy, who still gets excited about winning contests, giant chocolate bars and making smores with his mum.

And now I'm off to bed, too. I could stay up and watch The Fantastic Four, but really, would I be better for it?

I won't be posting this till tomorrow after such time as I can read back over it all and see if it makes any sense - or if the caffeine got in the way of coherence, lol! In the meantime, have a great night day!