Another good book

We just read “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman.

I asked J if she had a favorite character. She said yes, the Grandma because she encouraged her granddaughter.

I love that reason! And, I hope to be that encourager for J and the other children in my life.

May we all help the little ones around us know how amazing they are.

In case you’re wondering about the story… Grace loves stories, she spends her time reading them, listening to them, and acting them out.

Her teacher announced they’ll be doing the play “Peter Pan”and Grace wants to be Peter (along with several other students). Since so many want the same role, they’ll have auditions the next week. Her classmates take turns telling Grace why she can’t be Peter.

When she gets home her mother and grandmother ask why she’s sad, she tells them about what the other kids said. They assure her those kids don’t know what they’re talking about. Grace practices over the weekend and wins the part of Peter. She does a great job in the play, confirming that if she puts her mind to something she can do it.

It’s so cool to see characters overcome adversity and succeed. I love reading these stories with my kiddo. It’s reinforcing for her that others don’t get to tell us what we can it can’t do, and it’s reminding her to build others up instead of tear them down.

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Book recommendation: I am Rosa Parks

book cover "I am Rosa Parks"

We’ve been reading lots of books lately, and many of them have been good. But, this one seemed worth writing about.

It’s a bit lengthy, but totally kept our kindergartner’s attention the whole time.

I felt like it did a great job introducing Rosa Parks and some of the issues of her time in a way that was understandable to a child living over 60 years later.

I don’t think our kiddo caught me tearing up as I read, but I did. I can’t believe that so many years later we’re still dealing with racial injustice. That makes me sad and mad all at the same time. And, while I don’t have a solution for all that, I think that continuing to educate myself and my kiddo is a step in the right direction. Seeing her get mad at the characters that are putting Rosa down is encouraging. Knowing that she’s embracing the idea that we’re all deserving of respect and good treatment is a good feeling. I’m excited to see who else we’ll read about as we continue to learn more about our history.

I’m thankful for our library system that had this book available and I’m looking forward to reading others in this series.

Always listening

We’re watching a movie “Hamilton One Shot to Broadway” through Hoopla this afternoon and Joanna just said:

“I want to put a crush on Hamilton and marry him”

I asked how she knows that word, where did she learn “crush”? She said: Phil.

This morning during his sermon, Phil mentioned a girl he had a crush on as a teenager and that he tried to get paint on her hair to get her attention. Though she was coloring a picture, and seemed very focused on her coloring project, Joanna not only heard what he said, but also learned a new word, and understood what it meant enough to use it later. Amazing!

So, then I asked why does she have a crush on him and she said:

“Because he’s nice and he fought for this land. He fought for where we live. I love it.”

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, she says that painting her hair will not win her affection. When it’s time (years, and years from now), the way to work out the marrying bit is simply to ask, not to try juvenile attention-getting tactics.

Helping clean!

Nana and Papa are on the way here!!

So, J is helping get the house ready for them to visit. She’s loving getting to clean her bathroom.

“This should be my job Mama” she just told me.

That works for me.

Prayers of a 5 year old

Today in Bible class the preschoolers had a lesson about prayer based on a book called Praying in Color.

As you’d imagine, some of the kids were more into the activity than others. The idea was that instead of talking out loud to God they can doodle. As they create a shape and decorate it they’re thinking about the person they write in the middle and those thoughts become the prayers as their pencil does the drawing.

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It was so cool to see Joanna share her prayer with Morgan tonight before bed. She worked on it the whole time she was at the table. First she asked how to spell Kelly, as we went to her funeral last week so Joanna wanted to pray for her and those who are missing her. Then she asked how to spell Uncle Ben, I just gave her the letters for Ben and that was good enough. She prayed that he’ll quit smoking and make good choices. The blue letters going up on the right spell Grandpa -she’s praying that he’s healthy because he had a fever today. Next she moved on to people she’s thankful for and did Mom and Dad all on her own on the bottom. She finished it up with the blue and orange, spelling Uncle Tom. She has lots of aunts and uncles but he was on her mind today.

While the kids worked on their own pages I did one too. It was a surprisingly good experience for me. I’m thinking that today’s lesson may inspire on a new habit for me and Joanna. We could spend some time together working on our own booklet of prayers, taking a bit of time each day to doodle and pray. I love that it’s something that we can do individually and together at the same time.

Snow Fun

Our girl has been hopingng to make snow angels for months. Her wish came true today!

As soon as she knew there was snow outside she wanted to go out. She suggested I get up, get dressed, brush my teeth, read my Bible, and go. After listing all my activities she said “you know, do all your steps so we can go out”.

She was so excited I decided to roll with it. Even though other activities are cancelled or at least on a weather delay we got up and got after it. Morgan even joined us as photographer, I’m sure his pictures are much better than these, but I just don’t want to wait 🙂

Her 1st basketball game

We made it to our first basketball game today. 

Before today we’d been to 2 practices and missed 2 practices and 2 games (both games were on the Saturday we were in Indy), so our girl is a bit behind her teammates. Not only is this her first year to play, she’s only made it to 2 of their 6 gatherings prior to today. 

She was excited to be there, but unsure what to do. It was tough for this Hoosier to watch my girl lost on the court! 

During a break I asked if she knew what to do out there. She said no. That pretty much summed it up.

I’m hopeful that a few more practices will make a big difference at this stage 🙂

Suicide: don’t do it!

Thirty years ago today my mother successfully ended her life.

There are lots of phrases people use when saying that someone died: “she passed away” “she moved on” “she died” “she killed herself” “she committed suicide” “she’s no longer with us” and more.

It’s interesting to note that years ago one of my brothers and I discovered that we both have responded the same when people push us about what happened. We were talking with a stranger and we mentioned she passed away and the other person said “what happened?” and we respond “she killed herself.” In those moments we aren’t trying to be gentle with the truth, we’re no longer protecting the nosy conversationalist or ourself, you asked and we answered. Chances are you have now learned a lesson and in the future let the one telling the story decide how much to tell. It may be we were protecting you from the harshness of the reality, or maybe we were protecting ourself from saying again what happened. In any case, when talking with someone, especially a stranger – let them tell their story their way! If they want to share details they will. If they’re leaving details out chances are they have a reason.

So, I have no idea what she was thinking. I can imagine some of what could make a woman who is 3 days shy of her 34th birthday decide being all done is more appealing than carrying on. But, as in any situation like this, she is only one that truly knows what motivated her decision. I do think that if she had any idea of the scope of difficult things that could follow her choice she may have reevaluated and decided to hang in there.

One of those hard things happened this week. My sweet 5 year-old (who never knew this grandma) and I were making sugar cookies. As she was excitedly mixing the dough with the electric mixed she looked up and said “did you make cookies with your mama?” I didn’t have a good answer. The truth is I have no idea. Chances are we did make cookies together in those 11 years she was present. But, I can’t picture it happening, I can’t recall a memory of standing together creating something yummy to share with others. I just can’t. So I answered as best as I could with an “I think so”. In the joy of the moment I’m hopeful my kiddo didn’t see the tear forming and sliding down my cheek. I believe it’s ok for her to know there are sad things. And she knows my mommy died when I was young, but I don’t want our fun moments to be tainted by this sadness that can pop up from time to time.

As tends to happen on anniversaries I am thinking of her today. Actually I began thinking about it when I reserved a car to be picked up on 12/7. That’s when it hit me that the 30 year anniversary was upon us. We made that reservation to be able to take a quick trip to Indy this weekend. One of my mom’s sisters has been battling cancer this year. Her daughter planned a “Holiday Bash (And F Cancer Party)” for Saturday night (which would have been mom’s 64th birthday). Figuring out how to go celebrate with them was tough. We’re in a period of searching for full-time employment for Morgan and our car just can’t make the trip, and we usually turn that 11 hour drive into at least 16 hours. So, there were lots of reasons that it may just not work to be there. But I kept thinking about it and wanting to make it work. In the end we decided traveling to celebrate with family while my aunt is still living would be better than making the trip once she’s passed. So we hit the reserve button on the car and began making arrangements to be gone for the long weekend.

I just told my kiddo that I’m writing about my mom since she died 30 years ago today. “Are you sad?” “A little bit”. “Ahh, I wish she could have stayed and meet me”. “Yep, me too”.

So, while I don’t have many memories of fun holiday stuff with my own mom and for years this time of year has been difficult due to her death and birthday, I’ve decided that enjoying today is important. I get to decide whether to let the past cast a shadow and take over today or whether I want to have a day of good times. And, I’m intentionally choosing joy. I’ve decided to celebrate this season with my husband and kiddo. I get to make up our own traditions that let us have fun together. With some time and energy we’re having a blast watching movies, decorating the house, drinking hot chocolate, baking cookies to share, decorating ornaments to give, and just relishing the time we have to be together having fun.

It was easy to spend a lot of years just wishing December would finish up so the sadness would pass. But, many years ago I decided that over a decade of that was enough. I took some time processing, thinking, praying, and deciding to move forward with a new perspective. I’m so glad I did! Doing that work on myself made it a whole lot easier/more possible to have a good December. I’m able to embrace the fun of the season like I couldn’t before. And, I didn’t have to figure all that out with a kiddo by my side.

So, if you’re still reading my rambling thoughts and having a tough day: hang in there! We can all choose joy. Don’t give in to depression -deciding to end your life can make life a whole lot harder for others, for some you may not even know yet.

 

Working with Daddy

Our girl is pretty excited to be learning our holiday traditions, and this is one of the best. Making chocolate fudge with Daddy. 

We have a divide and conquer strategy with holiday treats. I do the baking and Morgan does the fudge. It works out quite well. 

The temperature finally dropped here today so we’re celebrating with gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and fudge. Yum!

I love that Morgan finds ways for J to be involved. She’s totally enjoying getting to help him. 

“It breaked my heart”

Here’s a snippet of our after-school conversation today.

Me: How was lunch?

J: It was good, thanks for the delicious lunch!

Me: Did you eat it all?

J: Yes, I ate my cheese, my meat, my crackers. I stacked them up and made a sandwich! When I did that Kid 1* and Kid 2* said “yuck”. When they said that it breaked my heart inside. So I said yum and it healed back up. And I ate my grapes and dessert.

Me: Did you just say it hurt your heart when they said yuck about your lunch?

J: Yes.

Yep, my almost five year old said that it broke her heart when 2 other kids made fun of her lunch. What a reminder that words have power. And, yes, when she was telling me about it my heart hurt a bit too.

Come on parents, teachers, grandparents, other adults: let’s keep trying to teach them all to be kind to one another. Let’s remind them that words matter, that they can build each other up or tear each other down. Yes, this means we need to watch what we say too 🙂

It’s possible you’re reading this and thinking that we just need to toughen up -that it’s not a big deal. And, while you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m frustrated to see that already in Pre-K my kiddo’s feelings are being hurt by the ones that are supposed to be her friends. Whether anyone else thinks it should matter or not, the fact remains that these kids saying “yuck” about her lunch hurt her feelings. How we treat one another does matter, our words have power, and if we can help the young ones know how to encourage each other, how to say kind, helpful things instead of mean ones, then I believe our world will be a better place for us all.

* Kid 1 and Kid 2 are also 4 years old, so I thought leaving their names out seemed best.