Monday, July 26, 2010

In the Depths of Delight

"When I left Queen's my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don't know what lies around the bend, but I'm going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla."
Lines such as that is just one of the reasons I was counting down the years to read this book to Julia.  I confess. I had never read the book-- only seen the movie in college, but when I found out there was a glorious book, I waited many years until I could read it to her.  Last Christmas, I bought the one with my favorite cover and wrapped it up as her “Something to Read”.  We began it shortly after the New Year and what absolute fun!  As with almost ANY book, I found this one more enjoyable than the movie, although I think the Sullivan Group production is wonderful. I have one secret though.  As we neared the end of the book, early one night, our reading got interrupted and we had to put it down at the most suspenseful “Anne Moment”.  The night carried on as normal......until I went to bed.  I could not sleep for thinking of Anne and what would happen next.  I eased out of bed, not to awaken Jeff, found the book in the dark, took it to the couch and finished it!  Then, I slept just fine.
As we read together, we quickly realized we could not keep up with Anne’s daily vocabulary.  We needed a dictionary at all times!  The seeming limitations of black and white book type did not hinder Lucy Maud Montgomery in the least.  Her words portray Anne’s endearing qualities and quirky personality flawlessly.  You feel you know her and your heart is immediately captivated by this vulnerable, precocious little red-head girl.  There is no end to Anne’s theatrics and mishaps so with every chapter title, the anticipation surged.  Even Julia understood and loved the hilarity of Anne’s high-powered propensity toward the dramatic.  
"There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting."
"You'd find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair," said Anne reproachfully. "People who haven't red hair don't know what trouble is."
(After falling off the roof) "No, Diana, I am not killed, but I think I am rendered unconscious."
"And people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven't you?"
“Can't you even IMAGINE you're in the depths of despair?”
"It's so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn't it? "
The book is as enjoyable as it is profound.  Ms. Montgomery had plenty to say back in 1908.  The unwanted little girl, her longing for a family, her heartaches, her enthusiastic love, her struggles with self, her big dreams, her ambition, her absurdity, her passion, her insights speak to our hearts..... still.  I like knowing that 100 years haven’t changed us all that much. 
My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes. That's a sentence I read once and I say it over to comfort myself in these times that try the soul.”
“I've never belonged to anyone.”  
Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it.
"It's all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it's not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?"
For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement.
"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
"Well now, I'd rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne," said Matthew patting her hand. "Just mind you that-- rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn't a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl--my girl--my girl that I'm proud of.”
I promise I will stop there!  A month or so ago when we finished the book, Julia and I enthusiastically planned our girl’s night to watch the movie I had seen in college.  (We privately celebrated when we found out Jeff and Brighton had been asked to a Rangers game.)  We picked up Pappasitos' fajitas, spread out the blanket in the den, pressed play and found ourselves in the depths of delight.  
A couple of days later, I texted a friend and told her we had watched the movie. She responded, “Are you in love with Gilbert Blythe?”  My response, “After all these years.............”
And I think if Anne had eaten Pappasitos in 1908, she would not have been able to imagine anything more tasty.  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just in Time.....

B's friend, Beckett ("B"at his house, too!), knocked out his other front tooth the day before we left for Remey and Kollin's wedding in Mississippi!  Thanks, Beckett!  Pictures hardly get any better than this!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Small Shoes

A friend needed to borrow your ballet shoes today-- size 10.  Your first pair.  I sat them down beside me as I was reading and, Julia, I was completely distracted........... by their size, by the pink, by the wrinkles your feet made in the soft leather and by the reality that we passed that size only a blink ago.  This friend’s little girl was headed to ballet camp for the first time and I remember that day, too.  I loved buying your first (and second) leotard (I couldn’t just buy one!), your itty tights and these tiny shoes.  Your little 4 year old body filled the outfit only the way you can and I had hardly ever seen anything cuter.  The skirt was your favorite part of the ensemble and your second favorite thing was having a bun on top of your head.  We were both in little girl heaven.  
Sweet shoes.  Sweet memories.  Sweet gal.  Love you.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Year One with Two- A Learning Curve

It is not a stretch of the imagination to understand how very different this school year was than my two previous years.  Even though Julia and I had our days of trying to figure one another out in our new roles which led to uncovering the good, the bad and the ugly, this year, I was not prepared for how PULLED I would feel between two kids.  There was Julia who had received my, mostly, undivided attention for two years and then there was Brighton who could hardly write his name, much less read directions on a math sheet.  I had forgotten how time consuming a non-reader could be!  I have to say, overall, Julia was as patient as a second grader could possibly be.  There were certainly days she needed me more than I was able to give her and that frustrated us both.  I heard my “speak from the heart” (whether you want to hear it or not) children say more than a dozen times, “I am feeling left out.”  Depending on the day, time of day/month, how long since I had eaten, this would evoke sweet compassion and a willingness to stop to give out a little extra TLC OR it would send me stomping to my closet to call or text whomever I thought would induldge me in a pity party.  (Actually, no one-- for long anyway.) 
Discovering all of B’s male buttons surprised me.  Surprises are a challenge to me-- any form-- but especially when the surprise leaves me puzzled.   I had to find out what worked for Brighton and what didn’t.  The difference between the genders in our little learning room was apparent from the very first day.  Navigating his “boyness” required skills that I felt I did not possess.  He has strong physical responses to being wrong, being unable to figure out something quickly, or having to “try again”  whereas Julia’s response is more emotional, more draining, more time consuming............ I truly don’t know which one is worse. 

With the same curriculums, I realized they have their own way of making it work for them.   Brighton is more visual when it comes to math, grouping objects in his head and counting them that way.  At his age, Julia would need to count every little bumble bee with her finger.  Brighton learns to spell new words by seeing them over and over.  Julia spells more accurately by sounding out the letters.  If Brighton gets bored, there will be trouble.  If Julia gets bored, she grabs a book off the shelf.  If there is reading to do, Brighton runs to get the Legos and Julia curls up by my side and I have made her day. 
Sounds like a fantastic year, huh?  It was a year of one big learning curve.  We had some great days, some fun field trips, special school days at Panera, some sweet moments that would not have happened otherwise and for that, I am so thankful for these years the Lord has given me.  
Things I remember about the first part of the year:
-Having a great plan
-Starting out really well
-The kids energizing each other
-Finishing earlier than I had planned each day
-Wishing B could read--- NOW
-Wishing he enjoyed books as much as his sister
-Being impressed with B’s visual skills in math
-Wondering if I remembered to sign up for any field trips
Things I remember about the second part of the year:
-Wondering WHY it took us SO long to finish school everyday
-Figuring out what to do with our new puppy during school
-The kids draining each other
- Trying to figure out what happened to all the pencils we used to have
-Thinking, “Now, Who told me to do this?”
-Wondering what I was thinking signing up for so many field trips
-Figuring out my phone gadgetry was just as distracting as my laptop
-Having to LOOK for just about anything we needed
-Wishing for more time to cover “electives” and more time for reading
-Coming up with my best idea all year during the LAST month of school
-Loving and hating Saxon Math all at once
-Realizing how excited they were about promoting to the next grade

Favorite Memories:
Watching Johnny Tremaine with the kids after we studied the Revolutionary War and watching B march purposefully out the door with his “war hat” on and his wooden rubberband gun
Hearing them cheer each other on while trying to win stars and hearts by answering “fast math facts” 
Reading Anne of Green Gables with Julia
Finding sweet notes to me on the message board
Hearing B quote Psalm 119: "verses 9 and 10 and 11 and 12"
Planning “Museum Week” (a.k.a. “I need a break week”)  the night before
Picking peas and shelling them during reading time
God Stops
Kindergarten Graduation
Sitting in the audience at piano recitals
Having significant snow days
Listening to Julia recite “Mother’s Jewels”  
Sitting by Brighton when he “got” reading-- a friend calling it the “magic culmination”
Hearing Brighton read ALL of The Adventures of Little Bear
Reading all that was written “to and from” when we returned home from the Valentine’s party
Watching Julia read to Brighton and then Brighton read to Julia

Year one with two gets five stars from this momma.  Every little surprise, all the big frustrations and every Saxon math sheet was worth it.  First and Third grade-- here we come. Pencils or no pencils. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

That Grin

I knew I wouldn’t see THAT grin many more times.  Because Brighton is my second child, I knew his “blow the fuses” smile wouldn’t always look like “that”.  I didn’t know to give it much thought when Julia’s two front teeth became loose at the same time before Easter 2008.  Once those top baby teeth start coming out, an unfamiliar ever-changing landscape begins forming.
Brighton lost one of his bottom teeth the night before we left for the beach. Just like the times before, he quickly snagged a piece of paper from the printer, found a pen in my desk drawer, sat down at the kitchen table and drew his face, wrote down his phone number and address and was sure to point out the all important gaping hole in his mouth.  
When I leave pictures by the sugar jar for Jeff to see, he mistakes them for a spoon rest-- thus the big coffee stain on B's picture.

This past Wednesday night was no different-- except the fact that it was 10:30 and he must have spent the previous two hours in bed wiggling and jiggling one of his front teeth.  He was WIDE awake determined to extract the tooth from its comfortable home.  Minutes later, I had a bonafide snaggle tooth dancing around my kitchen.  When I saw his grin, I laughed and felt a little lump in my throat simultaneously.  The familiar-- gone.  That little boy grin-- changing.  After a quick celebration, he headed straight for the printer-- and he drew again.  

So for a short time, this smile will change from month to month. At some point, hopefully, all of these teeth will stop falling out and the new layout will be revealed.  Until then, his ever changing grin will be the one I will grow accustomed to seeing daily, the one I will capture a bazillion more time with my camera, and the one that will blow just as many of my fuses.  (The dimple kind of seals the deal.)

Excuse the phone quality of this next picture but it was late at night and the closest "camera" thingy to me, but you have to see this hair-- and this is CALM compared to when he wakes up in the morning.  There is hardly any hope of keeping a straight face when he steps in front of you like this with something perfectly serious to talk with you about.  This night it was his very loose tooth.