Earth Day

My students have been working hard to spread the word about taking care of our beautiful planet.  They researched, wrote, and recorded.  I showed them some sample Earth Day videos and let them talk about what they liked about each one and how it inspired them.  I gave them a few suggestions and let them get to work.  

There are so many ways we can take a moment to thank our planet for sustaining our life.  What will you do tomorrow?  Will you take a walk in nature, pick up roadside trash, plant something and help it grow, or something uniquely you?  Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be fantastic.

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Small Bites

ImageEver since I learned I have gallbladder disease, boy was that a fun lesson, I have been trying to avoid fat like the flu.  I’ve been visiting fantastic websites like http://www.fatfreevegan.com and learning to live without oils, margarins, etc. etc.   It’s every where.  I even learned fat-free often means loaded with sugar.  When my best friend warned me of this, I laughed it off by saying, “I can have sugar.  It’s the fat I’m worried about.”  Guess what.  Sugar converts to fat in the body. Yeah.  I learned that one the hard way.

Birthday party weekend for my ten year old.  While I did fight the urge to gobble up a chocolate cupcake and fat-free (loaded with sugar) icing I made on Saturday, and waited for the fat-free (loaded with sugar) slice of cake her sister made on Sunday, little nibbles here, dipped fingers to “taste test” there, almost landed me in the ER before June.  I have talked my doctor into waiting until school is out for the surgery in hopes my nutrient treatment can help me avoid it altogether.

Then I realized that life is full of small bites.  We set goals and work hard to change whatever self-destruction we are swimming in.  We start to feel pretty good and then small bite by small bite, we end ourselves up in a world of pain.  Why can’t we remember a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips?  I’m speaking literally to myself here, but figuratively to you.  Put the fork down.  It isn’t worth it.  And FYI, my poor kid’s cupcakes didn’t look quite so lovely as the cake in the picture.  Fortunately, big sister’s cake turned out almost as pretty as this one.  

Firsts

Twelve years ago, my husband I had our first Easter together.  Of course, it was also my first Easter as a mom to my new six children.  No.  I didn’t have sextuplets.  My husband was the single father of six from two previous marriages.  We decided we wanted to teach the kids about the life of Jesus Christ, so we prepared, to the best of our ability, a Passover meal.  It was a wonderful holiday time together.

Our oldest daughter, now married and expecting, called to tell us that this Easter she was going to honor our tradition with her husband on their first Easter together.  All these years, I had no idea that the time their dad and I had put into that meal would have such an impact.  

This year,  I decided to do more research on Passover traditions, symbols and meaning.  I pored over recipes planning the very best Passover meal I could.  I hope my Jewish friends are honored by my efforts rather than offended by my product.  However, I can’t explain the love I felt for Jesus Christ, the Jewish people and their long years of suffering, my family, and all the families who were so carefully preparing their gifts of love for the holidays.

I wish I could have been there for my daughter’s first Easter as a wife and mother.  But I’m sure those she shared it with will have memories etched deep in their minds and hearts, even if she isn’t aware of it.

Where has Spring Gone?

In Virginia, the calendar says it is spring.  Five  days in to be exact.  And yet, Old Man Winter, unlike Custard, won his last stand.  At least I hope it is his last this season.  School was cancelled today.  As as school teacher, I think I do the happy dance as often as my children under such conditions.

However, I’m rather done with winter and would really like to start on the garden. I suggested to my youngest girls that their Dad and I take the carton of eggs out of the fridge and hide them in the snow.  I told them they did so well last year finding all the eggs, we were going to level up the difficulty a bit.  My nine year old smashed my plans by pointing out, “Then we will step on them and break all our eggs.”

So here I was with a snow day in spring and no hopes of an Easter egg hunt.  I peaked out the window at my garden spot that looks exactly like it did in December and decided there was nothing left to do.  Snow ball fall fight and sledding it was.  Sledding didn’t work out so well, so we even made mini snow people.

I suppose we all have our “druthers” from time to time.  We’d rather be planting seeds than reaping snow.  But aren’t the memories so much better when we just  slip on our mittens and let the snowballs fly?

flowers in the snow

flowers in the snow (Photo credit: elpostito)

Adaptation

I recently learned that I have gall bladder disease and am scheduled to have it removed in June.  I tend to be the kind of person that likes to keep her body intact, so my husband and I milked the doctor for all the information we could, and began researching.  As soon as they arrive, I will begin taking several supplements that hopefully will help me live in greater comfort until June and prayerfully avoid surgery altogether.

Of course, I’ve also had to change my diet.  A lot.  We make almost all our food, and value nutrition.  Part of being a parent, I guess.  I thought I had healthy eating habits until I went shopping for food I can eat.  You know.  No fat, no dairy.  As I read the back of packages and gazed hopeless at the cheese section, I realized we humans aren’t as adaptive as we would like to think.

We get in our groove, and sometimes it takes a tow truck (or scalpel) to pull us out.  Omitting the fresh fruits and vegetables my husband had already brought home, I stared at my puny selection of low-fat saltines, 0 fat yogurt, and “mozzarella like” cheese made with skim milk.  I almost felt like crying.  There were no cool animals in shades promoting these products.  The packages were as boring as the contents.  Maybe it was clever marketing to keep the kids out of Mom’s “special food”, I tried to convince myself.

Then I thought of some of the foods my students (immigrants and refugees from around the world) had to adapt to in their past lives.  Asha had written of eating wheat gruel and little else for three long years.  I they were able to earn enough money to buy an apple, they might killed for it on the way home to camp.  And how many of my Haitians had had their bellies filled with mud cakes because mom and dad had nothing else to give them to ease the hunger pangs?

And here I was lamenting my date nights with my husband for ice cream or salad dressing that doesn’t taste like the package.  I carefully laid my mango sorbet on the conveyor belt and smiled as I realized even the isolated woodpecker’s beak didn’t change shape overnight to help him better get the local variety of bugs.

Writing is like parenting

I had one of those weird realizations today.  As the mother or eight children ages 4 to 24 with only the 19 year old daughter across the country, married, expecting, I realized that writing is like parenting.  When I first finished my novel, the first draft anyway, I was so proud of my little bundle of words.  I wanted to show it to everyone with acclamations of “Look.  Isn’t it wonderful?  It’s mine you know.  I made it all by myself.”

But then the gentle but ever so unkind comments came, “You need an editor”, “I didn’t understand what you were saying when…”, “I think you need to…”, or (my personal favorite), “Bonnie, I want you to join my writing group.  You need to develop your writing more.”  Gadzooks!  What wasn’t there to love?  It was like hearing those snide comments of “She has big ears”, or “Does his head look a little pointy?”  How could they not love my little bundle of words?

And so, the days of revising, and editing, every word being torn apart by scrutinizing eyes, came.  It was like those many days when one of my daughter would come home in tears because her best-best friend was now best friends with the girl who is so mean to my daughter, or when my son would come home with a C on the paper we spent hours writing (heavy on that I in we).  And yet, somehow, the children came out stronger, wiser, more confident, and so did the chapters.

Fast forward to post high school graduation when there was a failure to launch or two, when young adults hung out on my couch all day doing little household chores like they did when they were thirteen–no college, no jobs.  And there my husband and I were trying to figure out what had happened?  Why had they been rejected?  What more could we have done?

And there was my little novel.  Sitting on the couch after getting our hopes up with a first round win in a contest and down after a second round failure.  Rejected.  How many times had I told my young adult sons, “I don’t care what job you get.  Just get one,” ?  And here I was looking at my novel saying, “I don’t care if I have to self-publish you.  I just need to put my effort into the next little bundle of words.  I’m tired of revising you just to please the world.”

And then I realized, what does it matter if a single word I ever write pleases another person? Do I breath for another?  Do I eat for another?  Well, only when I was pregnant.  I write for me, because it pleases me, because I love it.  Yes, I want my children to enjoy the pleasure of carving out their own little spot in this grand universe.  I want them to feel the triumph of failing and simply dragging themselves off the floor, even it is only to take the next blow.  I want them to be able to go to work and feel the same excitement they did as when we went to the big park.  But they are mine.  And even if the world rejects them.  I get to enjoy them.  And so, writing is like parenting.