Sunday, May 31, 2009

Watering Cement

Birdie loves the new watering can at Granny's house. She busied herself going back and forth to grandpa (who was using the hose to water my new seed plants) for more, more, more!

Birdie doesn't QUITE make it to the grass or garden.

Birdie is such a lovely little gardener! Do you like her new hairdo?
I am sore today from yesterday's seed planting. I planted nasturshims, hollyhocks, poppies, zinnias, mammoth sunflowers, small, red sunflowers, thumbelina zinnias, peppers, pumpkins, and two kinds of squash. Now, I am so eager for sprouts! I'm especially looking forward to the hollyhocks because we have taken a few years vacation from them due to their abundant production! They were everywhere for years after my intial seed plant over fifteen years ago! Today, the rest of the zinnias - my favorite little cut and come again summer flower- will be gently placed in the waiting dirt, after I till it up and make major messes of myself and the surrounding area. Oh, and the grading goes on. The multi-genre projects are works of art and I appreciate the students' hard work, but no matter how much I intend to speed up, I can't seem to! I talked to my neighbor over the fence yesterday and she is a first grade teacher bogged down with literacy files and portfolios, so I don't feel alone in my grading pit. Tonight, I'm going to buzz downtown and pick up an old summer staffer of ours from when we were coordinators at Young Life's Malibu Club. It'll be nice to see her. She's in town for a conference planning event. And tomorrow, it's back to school for LAST WEEK. I have goodie bags and goodbye notes to prepare for the eighth graders, too. I'll get through the pile . . . eventually.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Beauty Tips

One afternoon, when I was tired of my teaching material, I made up a funny test for the kids. It pertained to the end of the year, characteristics unique to eighth graders, and a few very random questions. Even the kids who manage to sit for fifty minutes and complete nothing took THIS little test. They liked a change of pace, of course. But anyway, one of the questions I asked them was, "If Mrs. M. were to have a makeover, what improvements would you suggest?" I also added, "Don't say lose weight. I like food." Most of them, following their precious little hearts said, "Change nothing. You are perfect." Ha ha! But some really gave it some thought. The suggestions included: Dye your hair burgundy, dye your hair brown and get some highlights, use more accessories, wear skater shoes, wear a little foundation to tone down your color, and simply change your hair. As much as I am counting the days until my summer freedom arrives, I will miss them. I may remain in eighth grade for a very long time yet, but as they gear up for high school, I'm thankful that they have allowed me to share a crucial year of their spunky lives.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tweety Morning

See? The peonies are about to pop! They suffered a slight blow when the spring snow surprised them, so they are taking their time! I anticipate the heady perfume of these bridal-like blooms!

This color usually performs second, but this year she's ahead!

The iris have waited long enough! Stay tuned for the blast of flowers performing here within the next few days! Yahooo!

My camera hand was eager this morning. The blackbirds appear, imitating shadows! Perfect!

The finch food WORKS!

This is where I'd like to sit until the birds don't see me anymore and bless me with close ups!
We wake up to a riot of birdsong! Since I installed the bird feeders, the word is out! We have so many birds visiting for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I can't wait until I don't have to rush off to school in the morning. It's time to break out the bird guides! Thank you, Lord, for the rich composition of birdsong. The melodies are all different, people can't copy them well, and it seems as if the birds are passionate soloists as well as crazy choir members. It makes for soul smiles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grinchy About Grading

The kids' projects are good, but it takes sooooooooooooo long to look through each one and it's time to wrap up the school newspaper, too. I HATE having so much to do! Last night I was SO tired that I decided to take a nap before bed (ha ha . . . I knew I wouldn't get up until morning!) and a whole evening went by and the box of projects is still undone. There are too many meetings today, too much paper, not enough zip in me. I'm praying for a supernatural boost. Would you join me? Thank you.

Monday, May 25, 2009


"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles." ~ Doug Larson

"I still don't know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel." ~ Roderick L. Haig Brown

"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." John Buchan

Brad and Jeff went fishing the other morning (I love the idea of the brothers continually enjoying each others' company!) and Jeff the photographer extraordinaire took this prized shot. Both boys have romantic hearts and appreciate all the right things about fishing. They love the movie, A River Runs Through It and they both love the outdoors. Brad caught his first dog fish while cruising in Grandpa's old, wooden, BLUE boat, just off the Olympia shore. He caught another fish at a fish farm in the Northwest. Jeff waded through the tide pools at Malibu Club and fished for crawdads at our neighborhood park. Now, they fish the creeks of Colorado. Again, it's the simple things that sit right with me. The cheap, grocery store bird feeder hanging in front of our living room window and the sight of my seed packets inviting hope for the summer blooms - these are the current joys and I'm greedy for more of them.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just One Carpet Bag

"Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag." ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn
When we went to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Australia last summer, I packed what I needed in my backpack. My hair was longer so I pulled it back in a not so flattering ponytail. I wore my walking shoes, packed my flip flops. We were gone for three weeks and I wanted for nothing. I came home with many new people in my heart, new places in my mind. Bill is purging the garage and I must follow suit and purge the cabinets, drawers, and the basement storage closet. I've made many attempts at simplifying. I hope I'm getting better. It's time to purge the classroom, too. I cannot part with any books, but I've pared down the paper and reduced the yarn stash. I'm pretty attached to "stuff" I'm afraid.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Over in the Meadow

Jenny and Scott's view! Not really a meadow - a beautiful golf course! The green around here is amazing! When I got home from school yesterday, Bill had already filled all the flower beds with our dirt! So, today I could go maternity clothes shopping with Jenny! Because she lives on the golf course AND across from a huge park, she has birdies singing, nesting and driving Beans and George (their sleek, little kitty) CRAZY! I bought petunias and pansies on my way home. I also bought lots of zinnia seeds, morning glory seeds, and squash! Yahoo! Tonight Brad and April are coming over for chili. I may shoot a photo of yet another fairy!


Over in the meadow
In the sand in the sun, lived an
Old mother turtle and her
Little turtle one.
"Dig," said the mother,
"I dig," said the one, and they
Dug all day in the sand in the sun.

Over in the meadow where the
Stream runs blue, lived an
Old mother fish and her
Little fishies two.
"Swim," said the mother,
"We swim," said the two, and they
Swam all day where the stream runs blue.

Over in the meadow in a hole in the tree,
Lived an old mother owl and her
Little owls three.
"Whoo," said the mother,
"We whoo," said the three, and they
Whooed all day in the hole in the tree.

Over in the meadow by the old barn door,
Lived an old mother rat and her
Little ratties four.
"Gnaw," said the mother,
"We gnaw," said the four, and they
Gnawed all day on by the old barn door.

Over in the meadow in a snug beehive,
Lived an old mother bee and her
Little bees five.
"Buzz," said the mother,
"We buzz," said the five, and they
Buzzed all day in the snug beehive.

Over in the meadow in a nest built of sticks,
Lived an old mother crow and her
Little crows six.
"Caw," said the mother,
"We caw," said the six, and they
Cawed all day in the nest built of sticks.

Over in the meadow where the grass grows so even,
Lived an old mother frog and her
Little froggies seven.
"Jump," said the mother,
"We jump," said the seven, and they
Jumped all day where the grass grows so even.

Over in the meadow by the old mossy gate,
Lived an old mother lizard and her
Little lizards eight.
"Bask," said the mother,
"We bask," said the eight, and they
Basked all day by the old mossy gate.

Over in the meadow by the old scotch pine,
Lived an old mother duck and her
Little duckies nine.
"Quack," said the mother,
"We quack," said the nine, and they
Quacked all day by the old scotch pine.

Over in the meadow in a cozy, wee den,
Lived an old mother beaver and her
Little beavers ten.
"Beave," said the mother,
"We beave," said the ten, and they
Beaved all day in their cozy, wee den.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fairy Sighting

I know fairies usually make themselves scarce during the day, but I caught one sniffing my irises just this afternoon. I have heard that there is another fairy about and I hope to catch both of them this weekend while we wheelbarrow our dirt into the waiting flower beds. I have a feeling there will be some ideal fairy playgrounds established just for these two fairies from Pixie Hollow. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kitty of Enormous Size

Here's Wilbur cooling off on the tile floor in the bathroom!
Meet Wilbur. He is an adopted kitty cat, welcomed into Kelli's family as a tiny kitten. Kelli and Bryan are ardent cat lovers and fell for the "super size" deal at the shelter: Adopt a kitten, get a grown cat for free! This meant that along with cute little Wilbur, they also gave Bessie a home. Wilbur has an abnormal appetite. Kelli uses a self feeder and Wilbur self feeds . . . all day long! He is so fat that he cannot boost himself from the seat of a chair, up onto the arm. He is adorable and inviting, making everyone want to pick him up, but picking him up hurts my back! He is the fattest cat I have ever seen! He lumbers along, only venturing downstairs to the chow, but he will also pursue other culinary opportunities and devour melon, Sophie's scraps, and the lingering milk in cereal bowls. He loves to have his tummy scratched and isn't at all afraid of the three big dogs that share his domain.

Monday, May 18, 2009

This Week At School

"And yet, when I look up to the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more." -Anne Frank

The human heart is fascinating in that it functions in what feels like hope and expectation, but is completely dependent on the Creator. So many times, when there is a bump in the road of our lives, we hope for everything to get back to normal and we BELIEVE it will. Little Anne Frank kept hoping for a return to her normal childhood in Amsterdam where she could laugh with friends, walk to the corner ice cream store, have fun birthday parties and get to know boys. She liked her house, her stage of life, her comforts. When evil continued to prevail, the family kept adjusting, listening closely to radio broadcasts, hoping for Allied victory and an end to the craziness of war. Anne's diary, written for herself as a way to explore her own thoughts and vent frustration, lives today and eighth graders like mine read it, so many years later. So many questions remain unanswered when we try to understand injustice, power, and selfishness and at the same time, so much faith and hope in our Creator awaits us. Again, we are sheep - we follow along, undistinguished and dependent on a God who is a shepherd, a leader, completely trustworthy, defined by holy LOVE.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Elpizo: Confidence and Expectation

Yesterday morning, I went out to check on the blooms. May 15th is late for spring, but here on our bit of earth, we have many little springlike happenings. The playhouse is curtained, signed, and ready to be swept out for Cadence and Sophie's fairy parties.

My garden-y neighbor's lilacs bundle their fragrant selves upward!

The February planted SWEET PEAS are struggling up and out in the old whiskey barrel!

The iris are beating the peonies (not yet robust!)

And the gnome is enjoying flowers as well as leaves in his herb garden! Today it's Kelli's garden. Bill and Jeff will lay some thick, green sod for her. Our dirt is coming next weekend. We postponed the big dump and will be moving dirt, spreading it out, seeding, planting, and pretty-ing our flowerbeds then. I must dash to the toy aisle and choose the fairy dresses for the girls. Three more weeks of school and then . . . inspired mornings.
Praying in Color is simple and grounding. I sharpened half of my Mother's Day stash of beautiful and fancy colored pencils, broke out my enlarged supply of inky pens, PRAYED the Praying in Color way and read a bit in The Creative Call. Psalm 5 spoke to my heart with David's words of expectation and confidence (Greek word: elpizo) . . . "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you!" Psalm 5: 11.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Praying in Color
My new book! Today the books I ordered came. This is one of them and I've already devoured it! WHAT a fun concept. This cool author, Sybil MacBeth, is a math professor and Episcopal priest's wife. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee. She leads workshops and you can view her web site at to see how interesting she is! It's very simple and yet so inspiring. Check it out! I am going to try it now that I've read all about it. I like how being it is instead of doing. The other book I bought is The Creative Call and to view this author's web site go to . I'm so pleased with both of them and I will let you know what I discover as I complete the exercises. I needed this today. It was Career Day at school and I hated it. I realized that I don't care about careers and being successful means something totally different to me, thus I don't have passion for career advice especially when the input is aimed at middle school kids who should simply enjoy being KIDS and not feel pressured to define their career path! Just the day before in Writers Workshop, we went outside to play Hook Up. We are getting ready to write personal narratives and I thought it would be good to breathe some fresh air, feel the sun, laugh, and then come back into the classroom and write about it. The kids dashed around the circle chasing and loving it when someone chased them. Some ran VERY fast and some limped along, hitching up their saggy pants! One cute Korean girl, new to America, voiced concern because the instructions I gave for the game confused her. She hestitantly followed the group outside, but jumped right in and ran the circle. Later she wrote that she realized she "is much faster at running than she used to be" and she wrote that she loved the game. I told them that it made sense that a fifty year old fatty like me had a hard time running, but THEY had no excuse and I admonished them to run more, ride their bikes, and act like the healthy, young kids they are. They thought that was funny. Anyway, that's the kind of scenarios I love as a teacher, not blah blah blah-ing about careers and colleges and income graphs. Sheesh! So, now I am going to "pray in color" before I go to bed and let YOU know about it tomorrow! Peace to you, my faithful readers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Love

This morning, reading the book of Ephesians, I came upon this huge concept . . . Paul tells the Ephesians that he hopes they will have the power to understand how wide and long and high and deep is the LOVE of Christ. Wide makes me think of a big river. Most of my mind images of rivers are smaller, so imagining a river so wide that I cannot see the other side is thrilling. Deep makes me think of the Pacific, specifically of British Columbia where I water skied behind a fast boat, fell and bobbed back up to the surface, sensing the depths of such a huge body of water. High reminds me of the million dollar highway (I think that's what it's called) on the way to Durango, Colorado (lots of drop offs!) and the Pacific Coast highway in California. We drove it in a rented convertible and I shivered as I quickly glanced over the edge! Long reminds me of driving to Eastern Washington many times as a child AND as a young adult. We looked ahead to see more road, mirages, and I fought boredom as I viewed the endless route to Pullman or Spokane. But, then to think of the universe . . . our Creator, our Savior, the Holy Spirit encompasses its entirety. THAT kind of love lives in my little pink heart. Wow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

School Girls

Last night we went to dinner at these guys' house. They are the friendliest and sweetest little bugs ever. First grade and third grade are hard work for them just as eighth grade is hard work for Pom Pom. I'm not sure what I think of school. Is it really the "great idea" everyone thinks it is? How much knowledge can we attain and retain in the 17 years we spend in school (counting college in four years AND kindergarten)? What was it like before mankind set education up so formally? I love reading and writing and I'm glad I have a very basic grasp of math. Science is intriguing as well, but now with all the information available to us, do we really need the structure and the stress of the school day? I wish we could think of another way to do it. Families teaching families, adventures filled with new discovery, brainstorming solutions to heart wrenching global problems - all this thinking could be done without school buildings, bullying, mean girls, and teachers that may or may not prize the students. Sometimes, at parent/teacher conferences, I feel ridiculous communicating expectations of productivity. I don't really believe that "getting all your work done" is a key indicator of future success as a contributing human. I enjoy the community of school. I like "thinking together" that way. I like book circles and hearing different and original perspectives. I DON'T like all the competition and the awards for super star student behavior. I guess I like the "being" of school as opposed to the "doing" it has always required. I know, I'm weird. I just don't want the children I love to make unnecessary adjustments to a tired, old system of learning that isn't fueling their eternal hearts and minds. I do wonder what the schools of the future will look like. Meanwhile, I feel compelled to bathe my cherished favorites in prayers for protection and resilience.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Motherhood = Dream Job

Before becoming a mother, I did not think about being one. I knew I eventually would be, but I did not imagine myself all glow-y wearing a soft white nightie, cradling a baby and loving it. I found pregnancy fascinating (but fat) and enjoyed readying the bassinet, crib, changing table and walls for our first baby. And then I gave birth. Our little black haired boy evoked in me a feeling beyond my own petty, twenty-something knowing. Caring for him presented a challenge like no other. I found myself astonished at my "mother bear" attitude and my willingness to give up other activities in order to protect him. Motherhood is indescribable. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to have four intriguing children. Pregnant with our second, I was sure the baby was a boy. No pink for me. When Kelli Ann arrived just before lunch on Feb. 7th, all my pink dreams that had lay dormant, surfaced and exploded with joy. She, a little dream baby, made our days cute and peaceful. To have another, to have another - we couldn't decide. When feisty little Jeff arrived, I felt as though we had won a prize. His bright eyes and active curiosity again brought out my mother bear tendencies and cuddling him served as restful, peaceful calms in the happy storm of preschoolers. Secretly wanting four, we postponed the vasectomy and around Valentine's Day, conceived our Rose. So, we found ourselves full-blown parents with seven years of childbearing and four dynamos seven and under. Those were the most purpose-filled days. Walks to the park, rides on little bikes, wading pools, arts and crafts, peanut butter lunches, piles of books, piles of legos, dolls, cars, super heroes, ninja turtles, too many stuffed animals, wet beds, four loads of laundry a day, tired evenings filled with baths, story times, drinks, and nightlights made for important day added to important day. When Jenny was the last preschooler, I do remember thinking that her preference for cereal in a coffee mug, perched in our bed while she watched morning television shows was something I wouldn't ever forget. It was the beginning of the end of an era. So, I savored the lazy, pajama mornings and the whiney trips to the closest monkey bars. I spoiled both Jeff and Jenny, buying them toys at department stores and taking them on outings to the water park, the go cart track and the zoo. Brad and Kelli were celebrated for singing, good grades, having hearts for their sad friends and being conscientous big siblings. We spent too much money going out for restaurant meals, going to Disneyland and buying them expensive shoes. All of it was magical. Bill was always there and home was generally calm and provisional. Now, our kids are adults and our chosen friends. They are loving, committed, growing, and precious, our favorite humans. And life goes on.

Friday, May 8, 2009

M is for MY MOM

I love my mom so much that I often wished I did not have to share her. I was fifteen months old when my sister arrived. I have never recovered. I am thankful that my sister was such a fun playmate, but I resented sharing my mother's attention. I have four siblings and I think they all prize my mom's attention. I never understood my friends when they rolled their eyes at their mothers. I have always admired my mom, considered her extremely smart (she is!) and desired her company. She deserves admiration. She's long on principal, industrious, thick skinned and curious. I love her face and her voice, her taste in clothes, the food she cooks, her "take" on history, her coffee, her pie, and the way she loves my dad so much. Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

She has a candy heart . . .

"Who knows but that Fairyland is filled with old lovable rag dolls - soft, loppy rag dolls who ride through all the wonders of Fairyland in the crook of dimpled arms, snuggled close to childish breasts within which beat hearts filled with eternal sunshine." Johnny Gruelle
For a short period of time about twenty years ago now (yikes!) I searched for old Raggedy Anns. I have many and most are homemade. I even have my niece Amy's childhood Raggedy and I still mean to repair her worn feet and make her a new pair of bloomers. The Raggedy Ann stories found in The Original Adventures of Raggedy Ann by Johnny Gruelle, radiate love and kindness and send a message of good cheer in a simple childlike manner. Legend has it that she has a real candy heart inside and of course it says, "I love you". She's the perfect doll, so humble and pliable. Read her story. You'll fall in love with her, too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ordinary Men and Women

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13
The voices around us tell us that we DON'T want to be ordinary, don't they? Jesus chose ordinary men and women. They didn't have snazzy resumes or positions of power. They weren't the "smarty pants" of society, scholars who had all the thinking done and therefore had the ability to impress others with their original thoughts. No, they were ordinary. I know I don't usually respond well to being overlooked. It hurts my feelings. I feel diminished. I think I'm really missing it in my many moments of obscurity. The path is narrow and FEW will find it. Lord, again - have mercy on me a sinner. Help me embrace ordinary. Help me see the ordinary instead of the flash. Open my eyes and draw me to those who have been with YOU.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
I'd like to find more novels that are set in the woods. The woods stimulate my imagination. When I was a child, we played in the woods. The developers were clearing space for houses around the golf course we lived next to and when they would fell trees and burn roots, often a delightful climbing ground would remain for a while before the framers came. I remember hunting for surfaces to designate as a counter or a table. Grassy, mossy earth made magical floors. Over hanging branches gave shade. We had an A-frame cabin for a short while and it sat high above a river. We had to take a short walk to the restroom (outhouse) and we climbed down a steep (to me) rock strewn path to get to the river. I remember one visit to Skagit Wild (that's what we called it) when I became enchanted with a little mossy cubby hole under the trees. I was lost in my imaginings as I pulled up moss, arranged leaves and pebbles, playing "house" in the woods. One time as I approached the tiny, A-framed "bathroom" that faced away from the cabin but had no door, I spied a lizard sitting near the "toilet" and shivered in horror - they are scary. We slept in a loft. There were beds with mattresses, cushioned by our flannel-lined sleeping bags. We cozied under the covers and talked. Again, my mom cooked in the sparse kitchen and exhausted, walked us up and down the steep, rocky path to and from the river below, where periwinkles swam and the water gurgled over the round stones. My parents say that the time we traveled up to Skagit Wild was short-lived, but it imprinted my heart. It was one of my quiet platforms for imagining, not the only one, but an important one. It joins the delightful memories of sack lunches a short walk from the house, hikes around the golf course, and bike rides up and down the black-topped roads in our rural neighborhood. That does it, I'm going out for a walk.