Thursday, January 29, 2009

Girl Birthday #7

"Book Club Birthday Bash". Yep. Was I reaching or what?? I PREFER to have a mind that is on one track at all times. If my train is going to more than one station, I don’t get anywhere on time, much less packed with a creative itinerary in hand. So after New Years when it came time to hop on the birthday car, it was the best I could do. Even though it was my idea, I went through the “that’s so corny” stage, the “that’s so homeschool” stage, the “what in the world will she wear?” stage and finally, about the day before, “this is going to be SO much fun” stage! Each girl was to come as a beloved book character, bring the concealed book (so we could guess who they were) and be ready to tell us about their favorite part.

Rewind 2 weeks: I was talking to one of the Mom’s during ballet. She told me her girls had already picked out their characters and that she had bought fabric at Jo Ann’s for their “costumes”. What? Excuse me? Did she say “fabric” AND “Jo Ann’s”? This all inferred SEWING. First, this meant that Julia needed to confirm her character-and fast- which I was hoping would be SOMEONE who we could bring to life from stuff we already had- story of my life, by the way. Second, if she picked someone we couldn’t create out of "home stuff", I may have to put forth some real effort. As Julia went through our books, I found her looking for the ones with the fanciest, most elaborate outfits. As I locked my jaws, she finally set her sights on Hanna in the Time of Tulips, which is a wonderful book about a young wealthy Dutch girl who happens to don a gorgeous (and complicated) little dress, complete with lace cap. I have not once bought a costume for her--- for anything. Fall Festival costumes, Pilgrim dresses, and princess dresses have all been borrowed or from the dress-up box. So that very night I sent out an email SOS. As usual, my friends came through and directed me to Teresa Scarborough who is now my newest hero. Teresa checked out the book from the library, asked Julia a few questions and a week and a half later emailed to say the dress was ready….. and my favorite part, “The dress is beautiful”. Now, THAT made me excited. We wrapped up the dress for her to open the night before her party and her reaction was worth every reservation I had about having it made. Not only did she want to sleep in it the night before her party, but she wore it the whole next day and part of the following day.

Now, I want you to see the adorable characters that walked off of the pages of some of my favorite books (and yours) and then, right through my front door. (Much to this snap-happy girl's regret, I missed photographing a couple-namely Brighton who dressed as Officer Buckle from the delightful book Officer Buckle and Gloria.) Each girl gave clues about her character and we all had fun guessing! Thanks to all the Moms who put forth the extra effort to get these gals dressed! You made it a wonderful party! Thank you.
Beth from Little Women (Amy came too!)

Anne of Green Gables- Anne with a "e"
American Girl "Kit"
Marie from Degas and the Little Dancer
Amelia Bedelia (although dressed perfectly for the part, really didn't feel like cleaning that day)
Melissa (and Oliver the bird) from Grandma and the Pirates
American Girl "Molly"
A snow fairy from The Nutcracker
The nursery fairy from The Velveteen Rabbit
Mary Ingalls from Little House in the Big Woods
Pre-Fairy god mother Cinderella
Jeff reading from his favorite book

Ever seen this in your whole life?? (Ipod, roller blades, and a Dutch dress?)
Bedding for her "Doodle-made" bed

Notice her last word that we hear SEVERAL times a day at our house--- just like that.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Letter to Julia, 2009

My sweet girl,
There is nothing like a birthday and today is yours. You are seven after a mere 365 days of being six. A January 24th will never pass without our remembering the enormous anticipation of your birth—every circumstance an unknown, an uncertainty, but, through the entire process, the reality of our gracious God coming through on EVERY promise He made to us, throwing in a few “freebies” for which we didn’t even know to ask. Even under the encouraging leadership of your Daddy, I didn’t know how to dream that big. You were the crowning glory of all His gifts and your Daddy and I were blown away.

I have been thinking for a long time how life has changed with you. For goodness sakes, you are SEVEN. I grinned to myself just the other day when you literally folded yourself up like a wiki stick in order to ride in the “bus” grocery cart with your insistent brother. In six months, you won’t be physically able to do that. Some things are gone for good, some things I love are here to stay, some things I don’t even know to anticipate and last but not least, some things this Mommy will always miss. Here they are:
Shopping in the baby and toddler section, your well-presented buffets of plastic food, picking out your clothes, bows in your hair, your “baby smell”, your asking to watch “Miffy”, all your curls, being able to lay your whole body on my lap, miniature spoons and rubber forks, Ocean Waves, your liking “super cereal”, airplane, watching you play in your crib from the door, the last bottle before bed, changing table talk, chunky legs, baths just for fun, going “under the cowboy bridge, over the river and through the woods” to UBC, buffalos being “buckle ups”, indentions being “Indians”. (ex. “My shoes made Indians on my feet!”), the jumping thing, teeny clothes, stroller rides when your feet stuck straight out, the heart bib, not worrying if your skirt was too short, board books, free airplane tickets, being my captive audience, and your NOT knowing which cookie or scoop of ice cream was bigger, that I really can’t sing, or that a mobile is really boring.

As I try to think of things to highlight about your six year old year, MANY things come to mind. You have now lost eight teeth and have taken much pride in each new gaping window in your pretty mouth. You have taken off in your reading, staying up to flip pages. We know you have fallen asleep in a bed of books when we begin to hear the thumps as they, one by one, fall off of your bed. When teaching you about reading aloud and paying attention to punctuation, there were times your breathing and pauses sounded more like the beginning of an asthma attack. You tried your feet at soccer and looked adorable in your knee socks as you ran/skipped around with a big grin. You have experienced your first “I love Jesus. Why don’t you?” moments, coming home with a furrowed brow, a puzzled face, but not in the least discouraged. You had Daddy take off your training wheels this year. After a little apprehension, you glided off wondering why you hadn’t asked him sooner. As did a couple of generations before you, you entered the world of American Girl dolls. Now I get to roll my eyes at the catalog prices just like other Mom’s have in the past. This year definitely marks your delightful interest in friends—especially "school friends" and the ones in our cul de sac. If one kid is out front, there are six of you—on bikes, on scooters, hiding in the round, or playing who knows what in our back yard. You remind me of a dear friend who lights up like a cheery lamp- no, make that a roaming spotlight- when surrounded by friends. This is when your energy oozes and your face expresses pure joy.

Maybe the most entertaining thing about you is your creative play. You still love to play pilgrims/wilderness/log cabin. You have been known to hang a clothes line and fill it, sweep the yard with the fireplace broom, and bake bread in the outside fireplace. Your story lines are as good as your accents depending on the country from which you have traveled. Your south Georgia accent is my favorite. (Go figure.) Once when we had picked up a friend for a play date, I put a twang or a drawl on some word and I heard you proudly inform our friend, “She’s from Georgia, by the way.” Over Christmas, I listened in on an "art lesson" you were giving to Brighton in the basement at Meema and Doodle's. You were using one of Meema's pictures as your "subject" and having Brighton copy it. "Isn't this work exquisite and exciting? See the two different colors of pink in this Japanese rose? These fancy brushstrokes make the art even more ecstatic!" As you can see from the pictures, Brighton is a GREAT playmate and he adores you.

You keep a mountain by your bed. Two of them, actually-one on your nightstand and one between your bed and the wall. It seems to grow during the night—books, magazines, slippers, markers, papers, papers and more papers, crayons, socks, pajamas that were “just too hot”, purses bursting at the zippers, and an assortment of animals and dolls. One morning, after complaining of a tummy ache, you started helping me disassemble the precipice. I found a layer of small pieces of foil. Very small and very red with remnants of brown on the inside. These wrappings looked VERY familiar to me because I handle something like that at least twice a day. Dove’s dark chocolate wrappers- lots of them. And so goes the tummy ache.
(First Day of 1st grade and a "sewing" creation from your room.)
I enjoy sharing a laugh with you when your brother blurts out a funny just like last night when he called down that his toothbrush wasn’t working only to yell down a couple moments later, “Never mind cause when I banged it on the counter, like this (on the wall), it works fine!” or when after I got on to him the other day, he came back in the room to show us “exactly what you look like, Momma, when you are getting serious with me”. His imitation was priceless and you knew it too. Laughing with you is hard to beat.
You are a gem, my Julia- one that sparkles and shines even on the hardest of days. When told to have patience with your little brother, you said, “I’ve got patience, but can I ask for how long?” You try. You really do and I am so grateful. I love that you still express stress and anxiety in the purest form possible- tears and wails. Those hard days might include hurt feelings, a scary experience (the big swing), or shots at the doctor’s office.

So the next pictures tell a story that I do not understand. You've been striking poses since you could stand up. From where does this come? I have never seen these poses in the j.jill catalog. Pre-programmed, I guess and, incidentally, a lot of fun.
As verbal as you are and have always been, you still have a lot going on under that pretty brunette hair that you are tentative to share. I have come to realize that you are content with taking small peeks through a closed curtain when it comes to your story. At random times, a wonderful question will pop out of your mouth that I knew would eventually come. I may be brushing my teeth or unloading the dishwasher, but once it is answered, you move on seamlessly to something else. The curtain is yours to open and one day when you pull it back, you will see God’s marvelous work in its entirety. I gaze at it often and hope you find it as breath-taking as I do. I am so grateful for each little stitch God made as He knitted you together in a young girl’s womb. Even though it wasn’t my womb, my heart felt every stitch. Still does.
Happy Birthday, Julia Karis. I celebrate everything about you today.
Goodbye Six. Hello Seven.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Town and Country

I heard some disturbing news yesterday. It came to me second hand but that made it no less troubling. Leave it to an all men hunting trip to find out all the stuff you never knew and maybe didn’t want to know. Once a year for the last four (five?) years, my Dad and brother have driven from Soperton, Georgia to Noodle, Texas (18 hours- with 5 dogs AND a Kawasaki "mule") in order to hunt quail. On their way, they spend the night at our house and Jeff joins the last leg of the trip the next morning. It is one of those things Jeff looks forward to every year.
Hardly anything brings my Dad or my brother larger laughs than to tease Jeff, and I mean, tease him good. Blake probably enjoys it a tad more and only he can get away with the things he comes up with for Jeff! Thankfully, my husband is no novice at dishing out a little smack either, so they make a pretty entertaining pair, or annoying, however you want to look at it.

Of course, Dad and Blake’s favorite thing to rib Jeff about is being a “city boy” having grown up in Atlanta, “ITP” --inside the perimeter. If it is bass fishing in one of our ponds, putting him in a deer stand, deep sea fishing 25 miles out from St. George, or quail hunting in Noodle, they will figure out how to highlight his “urban-ness”. It may be regarding his choice of shoes, his pants, what he needs to plug in, his lack of camouflage or his lack of accessories that are headache orange. As my Dad MIGHT say, "to Jeff's parent’s credit", his family spent a lot of time in the country because both of Jeff’s parents grew up in a small town in south Georgia and moved to the city after marrying more than fifty years ago. So for a city boy, Jeff has some country boy “know-how” and joined my family with some good ol’ boy experience tucked under his fancy leather belt.
I called my Dad after their first day in Noodle to find out how the hunting was going. The only thing I can come up with that might communicate his excitement to you is if you were out shopping at each one of your favorite stores and every door you walked through, the manager met you at the entrance and informed you that you were chosen for a thousand dollar shopping spree. At EVERY store. No strings attached. Start shopping. No kidding. Daddy was that excited. The best thing he said was, “Even your husband (he probably couldn’t remember his name for the moment) was a good shot today!” So he was really saying, “Even with his city-fied handicap, he did pretty well.”
Okay, I need to get to the real disturbing news. Last night, as Jeff was bagging quail for the freezer, he was reminded that I really didn’t like the taste of quail. This always surprises him. I just think I watched Daddy clean too many of them at our kitchen sink. I can recall the smell in an instant before each naked bird was dropped into a Pringles can headed for the deep freeze. Sadly, I remember always being fascinated by seeing what the birds had been eating that day before being shot out of the sky, picked up in a slobbery bird dog mouth, stuffed into the “bird bag”, then dissected in our kitchen. It makes complete sense to me that I don’t really enjoy eating them. All of this reminded Jeff that Daddy, once again, had called him a "city slicker"—for some reason not too hard to figure out, I am sure. In his own defense, Jeff said to my Dad, “Don’t you think it’s funny that I grew up in the city and spent lots of time in the country and Krista grew up in the country, but spent a ton of time in the city?” Daddy’s heart piercing response???? “Oh, she’s a city slicker too.” Ouch.

There is probably a country song somewhere about taking (or not) the country out of a girl. In fact, I am almost sure there is and I have no idea to what conclusion they came. Well, for me, you can’t. A girl may love her laptop, be frustrated that her cell phone has no signal “in the country”, have a long, long order at Starbucks, prefer to shop at a grocery store that sells artisan breads, like semi-trendy clothes, have a postage stamp for a yard, and love being 2 minutes away from a retail fix but it doesn’t mean she’s a “city girl”. There are some things a true city girl just can’t understand-- like a Soperton accent, how NOT to hold a catfish, why you must wave and smile at everyone you pass, why to never grab hold of a metal fence before checking it for “heat”, the difference between a lima bean and a butter bean-- or a field pea and a zipper pea for that matter, what it's like to have every grown up watch you like a parent, how once tasted fresh from the garden, grocery store veggies will just NEVER do, why being called "Little Miss Pine Seedling" or the "Forestry Queen" is a good thing, why when walking through the woods you HOLD the branches you pass so the next person doesn’t get whacked, how pine straw could save a city dweller money, how discussing cooking is as controversial as religion and politics, why you never lack for food when sick, have a baby, lose a loved one or if your wife is out of town, what a fishin' rodeo is, why you don’t send “local” wedding invitations, why some things are just better fried, what sweet tea really is, why knowing how to climb a fence can come in very handy (even in the big city), why a girl would want her wedding reception at home, what frog gigging is, how anyone could possibly make a 14 layer chocolate cake and how growing up in a county of maybe 5000 people could be one of the best things that ever happened to you.

So Daddy, I beg to differ with you. You did it. You and Mom raised a country girl- a country girl who happens to like a few city girl things and who happens to love coming to the country every chance she gets.

And how many city girls would ever look at a mess of fish like that??