Monday, December 31, 2007

God's Protection

Just before Christmas, I heard a blurb on the radio that caused me to really reflect on a concept I've had a lot of questions about over the years. I have no idea the point intended by the speaker, but the comment was made that young Jesus was in a very dangerous position, due to Herod's wanting to kill him and being such a wicked man that he would stoop to any evil to accomplish his purpose, i.e., killing all the baby boys under age 2...

This is of course a very familiar story and I've always known Herod was out to kill Jesus, but I saw it in a different light this time around. I know that God has a plan for my life, and I know that He is able to protect me from harm. Where things get fuzzy for me is to what level does God CHOOSE to protect -- after all, He has chosen to allow us free will. So if I pray for protection, but someone else chooses to harm me, will God intervene? CAN He intervene and still allow that other person free will?

Well, looking at this dangerous situation that Jesus Himself was in shed some light on that for me. Obviously, God's plan for Jesus did not include being killed by Herod in His toddlerhood... so that means that Mary and Joseph had nothing to worry about, right? Jesus wasn't truly in any danger because God would protect Him then in order to keep Him alive until the time had come for Him to die. Hmm... but is that really true?

Reflecting on how God chose to protect Jesus from Herod, I gained new insight into how God protects us from harm. God could have simply prevented Herod from killing Jesus through miraculous means -- but to do so would have denied Herod free will. Herod had the choice whether to kill Jesus or not, and God knew what that choice was going to be. Well, that's okay, God can just do a miracle and make Jesus invisible to Herod to protect Him, right? He could... but that's not what He did either.

God told the wisemen to take a different route home, rather than report back to Herod. They listened and obeyed. God told Joseph to take Jesus to Egypt so Herod would not find Him. Joseph listened and obeyed. I've often heard it said that perhaps the gifts from the wisemen supplied the money Joseph and Mary would need for their journey. If this is the case, God provided both the means and the directions to protect His Son from harm. He did not use His omnipotence to perform some amazing miracle -- He used people who would listen and obey.

Why were the wisemen able to hear God's direction? These men had obviously studied God's Word in depth, and trusted God, or they wouldn't have been looking for the star, understanding its meaning, and following it... What about Joseph? We know he heard God speak before, when told that Jesus was indeed God's Son and he should not divorce Mary. We aren't specifically told, but it certainly appears that Joseph too had developed a relationship with God that caused God to choose him to raise His Son in the first place, and enabled Him to hear God's voice and obey without question.

So that brings me to us... if I pray for protection from harm, should I then expect God to act any differently? Should I expect him to make me magically invisible from someone who might prey upon me, or to prevent others from doing things that would negatively affect me? Sure, He CAN do these things... but looking at the example of how He chose to protect His own Son, shouldn't we expect that He will most likely choose the same way of protecting us? Rather than preventing anyone else from sinning against us, or performing some miracle to hide or protect us, it seems from this example that God is most likely to answer our prayers for protection by giving us instructions which will take us or our loved ones out of harm's way if we will listen and obey, as Joseph and the wisemen did.

But like Joseph and the wisemen, we need to be attuned to God's voice. We can't expect to go along our merry way and ignore God except when we need to ask Him for something, and then shoot up a prayer for protection when we get into a dangerous situation and then expect to be able to hear and recognize God's voice directing us on how to get out of it. Only through developing an intimate relationship, speaking to God throughout the day, poring over His Word to hear what He has to say, can we learn to recognize the voice of God, and have faith enough to obey it even when the instructions may seem unusual.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Lord's Supper

When I was a little girl, legalism was pervasive in many churches, and ours was no different. So as a teenager, and then a young adult, sifting through all the things that "I've always been taught" and comparing them with Scripture to determine what is truly Scriptural and what is just legalism has been quite an undertaking.

On Christmas Eve, we always go to a candlelight service at church, and part of that service includes partaking of Communion, or the Lord's Supper. Now Little Girl has never lasted through an entire Christmas Eve service without having to be taken out for poor behavior. When I was her age, we sat out in church every week from the time we exited the nursery at age 3, but with the advent of Kids' Church, sitting out in "big church" just isn't something Little Girl has much practice doing.

Well, she's 5 now and I hoped that this would be the year she'd actually be able to sit quietly through the service. I commented about this to my sister, who is the one who hasn't gotten to sit through the Christmas Eve service for five years... and she said, "Well I'm going to be up with the choir this year, so she'll be your problem to deal with!" Then she added, "And there's Communion too, so good luck!" Meaning, of course, that to pass around a cracker and a grape juice for everyone and for her not to get to have one was quite likely to bring on a tantrum...

Now this was one of those things that "we were always taught", that children were not permitted to partake of the Lord's Supper until they had been saved and baptized. I remember clearly right after my own salvation when I was nearly 6, the excitement that NOW I would get to take Communion!

Now, the Lord's Supper is pretty serious business, and as an adult, I understand a lot more about just how important it is to be sure your heart is right when participating in this ordinance. However, it occurred to me this year after my sister's comment that as far as children not partaking -- well, that isn't Scriptural. Nowhere does it say children should not be permitted to participate until they have accepted Christ... so I began thinking more on this subject.

Jesus and his disciples were celebrating Passover, and it is one small part of the Seder meal that Jesus then establishes as something we are to do in remembrance of Him. So the Lord's Supper has its roots in the Passover meal, and children always participated in the Passover celebration. In fact, the Passover meal is used to teach children about the wonderful things God did for His people. Should not then the Lord's Supper be used for the same purpose? Shouldn't young children be allowed to participate, and the experience be used to teach them what Jesus has done for them?

The more I thought about it, the more certain I became that Little Girl should indeed participate -- but not merely to avoid her throwing a tantrum and to give her a cracker and grape juice, but to teach her the significance of what we are doing. And after all, this is a little girl who loves Jesus, despite not having made an official "salvation decision" due to her young age. So after discussing my thoughts with her mother, that's exactly what we did.

Christmas Eve afternoon, I sat down with Little Girl and her Beginners Bible, and started to read, from the birth of Baby Jesus right up through his life, and then the story about the Last Supper. As I read, I talked to her about how we were going to do this at church, and how it was a very special thing that she was going to get to do to remember Jesus. We read on about his death and resurrection, and talked about how the broken bread/cracker reminds us of Jesus' body being broken on the cross, and how the grape juice (wine) represents His blood. "But it's not REALLY blood, it's just grape juice," Little Girl said. :)

And so we went to church, and the Christmas Eve service began. I came armed with crayons and paper in the hopes that this would keep Little Girl quiet, and with no suggestion of what to draw, she promptly drew these two pictures.

When it came time to take Communion, I whispered reminders and questions to her as we proceeded through it to make sure she remembered the significance, and she certainly did. After it was over -- well, after declaring, "YUM! I want more!" -- she got another sheet of paper and drew this picture:

She then whispered to me that that was me, her, and Jesus in the picture having Communion together.

I have a feeling she partook of Communion with more understanding and a righter heart than did some of those saved and baptized adults present...

It was a beautiful thing, to teach and to watch and to realize she really gets it.

My mom said afterward that when my cousin was little, she cried in church once because her parents wouldn't let her take Communion, and my grandfather was furious about it. He told them Jesus would rebuke them like He did the disciples, and say to let the little children come to me. What a wise man he was.

Little Girl was his greatest joy in his last years of life. After hearing that story from my mother, I can just imagine him looking down from heaven at Little Girl observing her first communion, and smiling proudly at us all. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

I have had so many things I've wanted to blog about, and just never have the time!! I'll try to get them all out in the next few days, so this blog may actually have some activity for awhile.

For starters, Merry Christmas! It was a nice one here, Little Girl got some really nice gifts (meaning, instead of a bunch of junky toys, she got some nice things she'll really get a lot of use out of) and Baby Boy had so much fun opening gifts and dancing to the Christmas music. Her favorite (and mine!) were her "Little House" Lincoln Logs, as she calls them... now she can build a log cabin and have a wagon and horses and Ma and Pa to go with them -- but she wants a Mary and Laura too, and I've no idea where we'll find figures so small to play the part... but we shall try.

My favorite gift for myself was a copy of These Happy Golden Years. Not just any copy, mind you, but a Sewell-illustrated edition -- meaning pre-1953. Oh, but not just a Sewell, I have several of those after all, nice but not that big of a deal. But an AUTOGRAPHED copy. Yes indeed, my brother who has complained for years about how everything has to be about Laura went out looking for an autographed copy of one of her books. Now how's THAT for a merry Christmas? :)

Merry Christmas, one and all...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wow, what a busy weekend. It was nice to have four days off, but I think I was busier those four days than I am during a regular work week! But it was a great kind of busy.

Thursday I drove down to the town where my family all lives, and we met at my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner. (This means the noon meal. Apparently some people think it means the evening meal.) We ate a ton and enjoyed the splendid entertainment provided by Little Girl and Baby Boy. My grandmother came too, so we had four generations present, something to be thankful for in and of itself.

I stayed the entire day, enjoying Little Girl's company, and then went back to my parents' to spend the night.

Friday, I did what I thought was a crazy thing. However, I underestimated the insanity of the human race.

I can vaguely remember going to the mall one year for Black Friday when I was a kid. We were poor, and spending money for us was almost nil, but we had a couple of dollars saved up to do our own Christmas shopping, and we were pretty good at figuring out ways to make that money go as far as possible. But wow, the mall was like a gold mine that day! Every time you entered Lazarus (a department store), you received a scratch-off ticket and could win a prize. We were no dummies. We entered from each different door in the store so we wouldn't be recognized, and got several tickets. We came home with cups, various trinkets, and we each managed to get a big stuffed white "Lazzie Bear" -- for nothing! Sears had their own scratch-off tickets too... for money off a purchase, rather than for prizes. I read the fine print and figured out the the money off did not require a minimum purchase price... mostly we just got "$2 off any purchase" tickets, but I also found a little bin near the toy department of little stuffed Pooh characters for $1.99 each. By the time we had each entered every single door at Sears, we each had the whole collection -- again, for free. So without spending a cent, we made out like bandits and came home with our arms full of toys! So I have fond memories of my one and only Black Friday experience.

As an adult, I avoid crowds like the plague, and have therefore shunned Black Friday shopping. Actually, I take that back... I did go shopping on one other Black Friday. Nine years ago, I flew to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a friend, and we went to downtown Chicago on Black Friday. Now that's crazy! :o) But I didn't do that with the intent of actually buying anything -- that was just for the experience and to say I'd done it! And therefore, we had a blast despite the crowds... that was all part of the fun.

But generally, as I said, I avoid crowds, and would rather pay a little bit more for things than to join the masses in the stores on Black Friday. But this particular year, I had three big ticket items on my shopping list: a laptop computer, a large television, and a nice digital camera. Knowing that prices are slashed ridiculously low on Black Friday, I decided it just might be worth it to get up in the middle of the night and fight the crowds to save several hundred dollars. So Thursday evening, I carefully studied the ads and chose Circuit City as my destination. I was very excited to see at the top of their ad that their Black Friday specials were available starting on Thanksgiving Day online, with no shipping charges!

"Who on earth would get up at dark o'clock on Friday morning and drive out in this freezing weather to fight thousands of people when they can sit in their nice warm home, hit a few buttons, and have the items delivered to their home?" I wondered aloud to my mother. "People must be crazy!" And with that, and a few clicks of the mouse, I found myself on Circuit City's website, where not a single one of the items I wished to purchase was available for online purchase. Hmmmm, sounds like false advertising to me -- hmph!

So back to Plan A. I got up at 4:30 Friday morning. The mall is approximately 12 minutes away from my parents' home, and Circuit City was scheduled to open at 5. No getting ready for me, I just threw on some clothes and left, as is. At 4:40, I reached the backup on the interstate -- two miles from the mall exit. But I wasn't worried yet -- after all, the mall has hundreds of stores. Why, most of these people aren't even going to Circuit City.

At 4:55 am, I arrived at Circuit City, circled the parking lot, and quickly discovered that not only were there no parking spots, but even every grassy spot and gravelly spot along the roadside was full of cars. I ended up parking across the street, on the opposite side of another parking lot, a good five minute hike away from the store. Did I mention it was snowing?

I wondered how on earth I was even going to get a television set to the car, but figured I'd worry about that later. After all, once I bought it, it was mine... surely the store would wait while I pulled the car around to the front to pick it up, right?

And then I came to the front of the store. The doors had opened and people were entering. Hundreds of people. All in a line twisting and turning all over the parking lot. At least people were all very courteous. Everyone stood patiently in line, there was no pushing and shoving or trying to skip line. I was pleased, for that was my biggest fear -- getting caught in a pushing crowd and getting hurt.

However, there was not a thing left in the store by the time I got there. The man in front of me in line commented that his wife drove by at 6 pm the night before and there were already people camping out in sleeping bags by the door. The two guys behind me said they came last year at 3 am and there were already 200 people in front of them then. I had to wonder, if they knew this, why did they bother to come at 5 am? Had I known that hundreds of people would be sitting out in the snow for hours before the store even opened, I would never have bothered to crawl out of my warm bed at 4:30 am and attempt this madness. Those people could have frozen to death!! And for what!? To save a couple hundred dollars!?!? INSANE.

At least I realized quickly that the entire venture was pointless, and I turned around and headed for home and bed. The others who didn't get anything were digging frantically through DVDs, filling their arms with them. I had read in the ad the night before that there was a limit of 3 per person, so I feel rather sorry for all these people who were going to stand in a 2 hour line to check out, only to be told that they have to put all but 3 of their DVDs back...

So my big question is, WHY? Why do people do this?? Now that I've experienced it one time, I know better than to go back. My solution isn't, "Oh, I'll go spend the night in a sleeping bag in the snow next year!", my solution is, "Oh, okay, that's pointless, I'll just pay regular price on a normal day and avoid the mess..." Why do other people go out and do this year after year? If you are one of those Black Friday shoppers, please tell me -- WHY??

So, I was home by 5:30 and plopped right back in bed and slept till 9. I then went back to my sister's and spent a fun-filled day with Little Girl. We ventured back out in the late afternoon to take her to Billy Bob's, where she showed off her Skeeball skills. She really was quite good for a five-year-old -- or else my sister and I are just REALLY bad. My sister scored 18,000; I scored 17,000; and Little Girl scored 14,000. After she picked out a couple of junky prizes and had some pizza, we went to my grandmother's house with the plans of letting Little Girl decorate her Christmas tree, but alas, my aunt had already come over that morning and done it.

Saturday, my sister had a rummage sale at church she was taking part in, so Little Girl and I headed to an area science museum, where we had a blast. She is so interested in how things work and in exploring things that she just soaks everything up like a sponge. Our local newsstation also has an area there at the museum where kids can practice being a news anchor and it looks like they're really on tv. I didn't think she'd get this at all, my sister doesn't even watch the news. But I told her to sit at the desk and pretend she was on the news, and off the cuff she spouted off this story about how Santa Claus had gotten stuck on Mistletoe Mountain and was now lost, and rescuers were on their way to find him and save Christmas! I don't know where she comes up with this stuff! It was VERY cute, however, and the rest of the family was quite impressed when they watched the video later. :o)

Saturday evening, Little Girl and I babysat Baby Boy while his parents went to a football game. Boy, is he ever a high-maintenance baby. Cute as can be, though! :o) He's a happy baby and a fun baby, don't get me wrong, but between being allergic to everything under the sun and taking 3 medications by mouth and one topical medication on his entire body, it's some work to take care of him!!

Baby Boy is walking everywhere now, and although he doesn't seem to be saying much yet, he's making a lot of sounds. He loves to listen to music and will tap his foot and clap his hands. His other favorite trick is waving. And he is SO cute when you feed him and he signs "more" between every bite. Little Girl loves him to death and is a wonderful babysitter, keeping him entertained and watching him carefully so he doesn't get hurt. She gives him lots of hugs and kisses too. :o)

Sunday the entire family went to church, as usual, and for dinner afterward. Then Baby Boy's parents went to a basketball game (they are entirely too sports-oriented!) and we got to babysit him again for the afternoon! We attempted to take Christmas pictures of the kids together, first in their Christmas finery, and then in their Christmasy pjs, but it was a lost cause. Little Girl would sit so nice and prim with a beautiful smile on her face, waiting ever so patiently while Baby Boy crawled around all over the place and would not sit still. We would finally get Baby Boy to sit in one place for two minutes and it would be at the exact moment that Little Girl had lost all her patience and was jumping around the room or rolling on the floor showing her underwear. NEVER could we get BOTH children to cooperate at the same time. Sigh... I wouldn't be a studio photographer for anything!!

Sunday evening, Little Girl starred as the Peach Pie in a play at church about Thanksgiving leftovers. She was adorably cute, of course.

So that was my Thanksgiving... full of food, fun, family, and KIDS! :o) Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Hillbilly Wedding

My sister is married. Little Girl has a new stepfather.

I still recall the day my sister called me to update me on the status of her wedding. "Did you hear we've changed the date?" she asked.

"Again?" was my response.

Before I tell you the rest of this conversation, I must provide some history. My sister was planning to get married LAST October, in Gatlinburg. Why Gatlinburg? Fiance's sister was working there and couldn't get a single day off work, so they said. And his sister HAD to be there. So our ENTIRE family, as well as the rest of HIS entire family, all had to go to Gatlinburg for this wedding to accommodate ONE person.

Nobody was terribly happy about it, but no amount of complaining would change their minds. If they wanted to get married in Gatlinburg simply because THEY wanted to get married in Gatlinburg, then that would be one thing. But the only reason they were doing this was for his sister. Personally, I think she could have gotten ONE day off if it was that important that she attend. But that's beside the point.

So in the spring, my sister stressed the importance of everyone finding accommodations. "You need to hurry up and reserve something," she kept saying. "October is prime season in the Smoky Mountains... everything's going to be booked."

So we all made reservations. My aunts and uncles were all renting a big cabin and staying together. I booked a room in a bed and breakfast next door to the wedding chapel for us. Did I mention that these reservations had to be paid for immediately and were non-refundable unless they could be rebooked, and then a 15% rebooking fee was applied?

So not two weeks after everyone has made their nonrefundable reservations, my sister announces that they've changed their minds, and they're going to wait a year to get married. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm glad they decided to wait. Fiance wasn't sure he was ready to be a dad to Little Girl yet and wanted more time to adjust to the idea, and to give her time to adjust to the idea. I'm all for that. But couldn't they have decided this a couple of weeks sooner?

Despite the fact that fall is prime season in the Smokies and we had difficulty making reservations, strangely enough, nobody wanted to rebook our rooms/cabins. Hundreds of dollars going down the drain here; we were not pleased. So many members of my family decided, "We were looking forward to this big family outing down in the Smokies, and we've got these rooms anyway, so let's just go!" I gave my B&B room to my parents and did not attend this family reunion, but many aunts, uncles, and cousins did attend.

They rented a big van and some of them drove down together. Now for some character introduction here -- my grandparents had four children: Phillip (who married Mary), Pattie (mother of my "twin cousin" Amy), my mom, and Jo. On a shopping excursion in the big van were: Jo driving and my mom in the passenger seat; in the middle row were Pattie and Mary; and Amy sat in the back. Reread that and make sure you know who all these people are, because the relationships are important... Jo, Mom, and Pattie are sisters; Mary is married to their brother. All fine Christian people; salt of the earth. Important to know.

Now Jo is the talker of the family, and she had talked SO much during this family reunion weekend that she had lost her voice. She was pulling the van out of a parking garage, and the traffic on the street was very busy. She wanted to go left, and waited and waited and waited for a break in traffic. At last, she decided to put the van in park while she waited. As vehicles will sometimes do when shifting gears, the van jolted forward just slightly.

At this very same moment, a woman pushing a stroller happened to be walking in front of the van. When the van made its little jolt, she looked up angrily and began shouting. "Are you trying to HIT me?" she yelled, and then let forth a stream of profanities. This van full of good Christian women were a bit appalled, but the woman continued on and was soon forgotten.

At last, Jo decided they were never going to be able to turn left, so she decided to turn right. As they drove down the street, they saw the lady pushing her stroller along the sidewalk. Before anyone else in the van even realized what was happening, Jo swerved the van right up by the sidewalk, rolled down my mother's window, leaned across her and starting shaking her finger at the woman and shouting in her hoarse gravelly voice, "I wasn't trying to hit you!" Due to the vocal loss she was experiencing however, not a word she said could have been understood by the woman at the street; all she saw was this crazy woman shaking her finger at her and growling out something unintelligible.

Once more, the woman let loose a string of profanities. Instantly, Pattie leaned forward from behind Jo, also across my mother, and shot that woman the finger. Every woman in the van, herself included, was in absolute shock.

Amy gasped from the back seat and said, "MOM, put that back in its holster!" Pattie said in shock over and over, "I can't believe I just did that. I have never done that before in my life. I swear I have NEVER done anything like that before! I don't know what came over me!"

But the funniest part of the whole story was Mary, who sat stunned, shaking her head back and forth and saying, "Oh my... oh my... they're all JUST LIKE PHILLIP!"

Well, everyone had such a good time at that reunion, and such great laughs over the van incident, that Jo decided we need to do a family trip like that every year. And she planned everything out for us this year, a nice little country ranch a couple hours' drive away, for the weekend AFTER my sister's wedding. A wedding which was now going to be a nice normal wedding, at home, in our church, by our pastor.

Let us now resume the phone conversation with my sister.

"AGAIN?" asked I. "Yes," answered my sister. "We're going to have it at the family reunion."

Lengthy pause while I LAUGH my head off. I seriously did. I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed. But she was serious. They were indeed getting married at the family reunion.

And so they did. A true hillbilly wedding if you ever saw one.

It was an interesting ranch. They had animals there. Exotic animals. I was awakened at 6 am by something growling outside the cabin. I thought it was a bear. No. Nothing so normal as a bear. It was an ostrich.

My uncle went out fishing at the pond. But the fish were all scared away by the lion that kept roaring at him. Now that's a great fish story if I ever heard one.

Goats and sheep roamed all over the place. The little girls had a wonderful time playing with them and naming them all. Nearly the whole family attended. We filled up three large cabins in all.

And this is where my sister got married. Outside the largest cabin. She wore a white "church" dress. Her fiance wore a suit. So did the pastor who drove in from her fiance's church. Little Girl wore a beautiful flower girl dress. And everyone else wore jeans and t-shirts. Because we like to dress up for a wedding, y'know.

His family drove in just for the wedding itself. I had wondered if they were going to attend our family reunion. That would have been just too weird. Some of the men of the family decided to go golfing instead of waiting around for the wedding. Because golfing is more important.

The ceremony lasted all of five minutes. My cousin was supposed to provide the music but he had a panic attack the night before and backed out. So the four little girls in the family did a beautiful job humming "Here Comes the Bride" while the bride walked down the... uh... hill. Nobody thought to bring any rice, so the little girls picked up gravels out of the road and tossed them. Hey, we have to do things up right, after all! We quickly sent the bride and groom away. "Do you all want to come and have lunch with us? We're going to this nice little cafe in town. It will be like a reception."

"Um, no..." we all made excuses. "You see, there's this motorboat ride down the river and if we hurry, we can get there before the last boat leaves..." And off we all rushed to our cars, leaving the bride and groom to dine with HIS family while we went on a boat ride. :)

We're going to have our family reunion there every fall. To celebrate their anniversary. Won't they love that? :) That's what they get for choosing to be married at the family reunion!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me :)

I recently had a birthday, and after seeing Amanda's list for her birthday and thinking it a great idea, I've decided to put together my own.

1. I can't say as I remember my first birthday. :) From the ancient 8mm video we have, however, I know it was a fun time filled with family on both sides. So many of those people are gone now, but what fun my first birthday in heaven will be, having them all back again. :)

2. This was a fun year, and my first memories start to take form. I moved from a house next door to my great-aunt who adored me to a house next door to my grandparents who adored me. Lucky me. :)

3. Starting to remember more. I can remember starting Sunday School, and on my very first day, learning the song "His Banner Over Me is Love."

4. For my fourth birthday, I got an early birthday present -- a baby brother. Now he has his very own Baby Boy! How time flies! I started reading at 4 and have never stopped...

5. I started kindergarten this year. How excited I was to show my teacher, Mrs. Roberts, my new Wonder Woman Underoos. LOL. Took her to the bathroom to show her privately -- at least I had SOME modesty! :) I became a Christian at age 5, so this was a great year. :)

6. Another early birthday present -- this time, the baby sister I had been praying for since before God gave me the brother... I regretted that prayer many times growing up (whenever she did something particularly annoying, and my mother always said, "Remember, you PRAYED for her and now you've got her!") But I can't regret it now, for she is Little Girl's mommy! Again, how time flies!

7. 2nd grade. Busy with school and church and AWANA and play... just having good old-fashioned kid fun!

8. My mother chopped off my knee-length hair. I hated it. How I cried! How many times during my childhood I heard her tell me, "When you're older, you can have it how you want it. But then you'll want it short!" She was wrong. I've NEVER worn it that short again. And probably never will.

9. The last of my growing-up years spent almost entirely with my "twin cousin" (we were five months apart). My grandmother wrote a poem about us that year that defines our childhood together:

Two little girls, they'll win your heart;
Always together, never apart.
Making plans every day,
What to do and what to say.
Writing plays and singing songs,
Growing up, it won't be long.
One is eight, the other nine years,
Going to school, learning cheers.
It seems they're never ever done
Always having so much fun.
They're first cousins and also friends,
I'm sure they will be to the end.
I wish you knew them as I do,
For then I know you'd love them too.

10. My first Cabbage Patch Kid (of many!) Remember the hideous names they came with? Norene Madelle was this poor Kid's name; I promptly renamed her April LeeAnne. I dearly love her to this day! I played with dolls a little longer than many girls do (until about 12), and definitely a lot longer than girls do today, but as my Pappaw always said, "Better dolls than boys!"

11. 6th grade -- I had my favorite teacher of all time, Mr. Reed. His idea of a field trip was taking the class to his house. We girls spent the morning with his wife learning to cook and sew and take care of their little boys, while the boys worked with him in his wood shop and played football. "That's awfully sexist!" remark many... but we LOVED IT!!!

12. A weird year for me. I was homeschooled at school... our jr high closed down (Christian school) so my mother ordered a homeschooling curriculum, Mr. Reed supervised it, she administered the tests, and I was essentially on my own most of the day. It was an awesome year. I substituted for absent teachers, I sorted the teachers' mail, met the pizza and Wendy's guys at the door and passed out the lunches to everyone (our idea of a hot lunch program! :) ), watched the daycare kids during nap to give the teacher a break, and took care of my 3 year old cousin so my aunt could study, as she was taking college classes.

13. A bad year. Jr. high reopened, but instead of the kids I grew up with returning to the school, it was a bunch of "bad kids" who were in trouble or flunking out of public schools, and their parents decided they'd send them to that Christian school to straighten them out. Uh, well when every kid is a "bad kid", they don't get straightened out... and it was a miserable year for me!

14. Continuation of bad bad bad. I'd like to erase these two years from my life.

15. I went to public school and was shocked to learn that there were NICE KIDS in the world!! Really there were!! Who knew?

16. Ahhh, the freedom to drive!! Well, not for me. I got my learner's permit a time or two but never really got to learn to drive. Even took driver's ed, and my partner was always absent when it was our turn to go out in the car and I hardly ever got to drive there!! So no license for me...

17. My senior year! I joined the band -- good move on my part. Made school a lot more fun, and expanded my network of friends quite a bit. Still couldn't drive, but who needs to drive when all your friends can?

18. Freshman year of college... I lived at home, so didn't have the whole college experience people talk about, it was really a lot like a continuation of high school with a bit more freedom.

19. Finally got that driver's license!

20. A shift from all those generalized classes to finally learning about speech therapy. Such a tough program, and the teachers treated us more like animals they were training than human beings they were teaching. Discovered the internet!!! Very important!!!

21. Got my undergrad. degree. Began forming close friendships with people I'd met online. Many thought it was weird, but I was SO SHY (from those awful jr high experiences!) that I just couldn't develop close friendships in real life, but once I discovered I could really express my true self in writing, wow! I became a different person, and it eventually carried over into my real life as well. This was the year I became friends with some of YOU reading here today. :)

22. Grad school... what was the big deal about graduation from college? Same types of classes, same nasty professors, same classmates -- the college years just go on... This was the year of the big car accident that I can't believe I survived, let alone came away with nothing but a bruise, but it sure messed up my life financially for awhile, due to those HUGE insurance payments...

23. I began substitute teaching this year as a part time job while finishing up grad school. My first opportunity to stand in front of a classroom since 7th grade! Really, I think I did better as a 12 year old... or maybe it was just that our kids were better behaved!!

24. My first REAL job -- I got a job as a speech therapist in a very rural county an hour from home. I can't believe I commuted every day. But thanks to those aforementioned insurance payments, I really couldn't afford to rent my own place, even if there were a place to rent in this oh so rural area!

25. Bought a house!! An hour away from home, ten minutes from my school. What fun to finally feel "grown up" after all these years. A little later than most, but better late than never. :)

26. Life plugs on. An uneventful year. OH! Except that I became friends with a Katelet. I reckon that's important. ;)

27. Little Girl is born and blesses our lives abundantly!!

28. Switched jobs/schools. I work four blocks from home!! Can WALK to school! LOVE this job, teaching pre-reading skills to K and 1st grade kids. My favorite job ever.

29. Married. Left my job. Left my house. Left my family. Left my friends (except those on the internet -- another perk of having internet friends!!). Left my church. Entire life started over in a new place 3 hours from home... very scary year!!

30. Got out of that wretched apartment and bought our current house. Yay. My own private practice really kicking off now, and boy, do I stay busy!!!

31. Work, work, work, it's all I do, so not a whole lot to say...

32. Ditto. Baby Boy is born -- bringing one good thing into this year.

33. Beginning a new chapter in my life -- can't wait to see what will be written on its pages! Looking good so far!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Little Girl Lies

Little Girl is very honest. She always says exactly what she's done, even when she knows she's going to get in trouble for it. But last week, Little Girl told her first lie.

The book fair was at Little Girl's school last week, and Grandma told Little Girl she would give her money to buy a book every day that she earned a green on her behavior chart. Monday went by... Tuesday... purples for Little Girl. Grandma was getting worried that there would be NO greens, and she really did want Little Girl to be able to buy some books!! But on Wednesday, Little Girl got green! Grandma gave her money, and she picked out two books for herself, and even chose a little book on shapes for Baby Boy. Isn't she sweet. :)

Thursday came and Little Girl got green again and chose another book, but then on Friday, her teacher's note with how her behavior had been all week came. She was on purple (one offense) every day!

"Little Girl!" gasped Grandma. "WHY did you tell me you got green when you didn't!?"

She fully expected Little Girl to say she really wanted a book, but no...

"Because I wanted to make you happy, Grandma."

How about a big awwwww for that? Okay, so we can't excuse her for lying and she still has to be punished, but how sweet that she lied NOT to get a book, but because she was tired of disappointing everybody with all her purples? And I don't think she's being manipulative either, as I said, this was her first lie... :)

And hopefully her last! (Though I know better than that!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meet Me at the Fair... With Lots of Money

Saturday, my sister and I took Little Girl to the fair. It wasn't a REAL fair -- not like what I think of when I think of a fair, anyway. No craft booths. No animals. No races or contests. It really was just a carnival. But Little Girl was in the parade Friday night and saw the carnival and wanted desperately to go, and as she had earned five greens since getting her last reward, my sister decided the fair could be her reward.

Two of my sister's friends were supposed to meet her there -- The Fish Murderer with her two-year-old, and another friend who has a nine-year-old.

We arrived at 3:30. My sister had said that she was going to pay $8 to buy Little Girl an armband so she could ride all day, and that we wouldn't have to buy armbands for ourselves because the 9 year old could ride with her. However, when we arrived, it turned out that the 9 year old was at her grandparents' and had not yet come home so would have to join us later on. My sister and I decided to go ahead and get armbands so we could ride with Little Girl.

So we go to the ticket booth. The Fish Friend met us and said that tickets were a dollar each. She had purchased five tickets for her son, and they did not say a WORD to her. She discovered afterward that EVERY ride cost TWO tickets. Now come on, how deceitful is that? How many families bought tickets thinking each ride was costing a dollar and then when their tickets were depleted so quickly, wished they had bought armbands instead? And to not even tell her when she asked for five tickets, KNOWING she had to buy either four or six, as that one odd ticket was going to be no good. That's just rotten.

Turns out armbands were not $8 as the paper had said, but rather $10. Oh, and they expire at 5 pm. From 5-9 pm, you have to buy another armband, and that one costs $15. OKAY.

So my sister calls her friend with the 9 year old to see if perhaps we wanted to go somewhere else and then meet back at the fair at 5, but she couldn't reach her and this friend apparently frequently stands her up, so she wasn't sure what to do.

I then noticed that every single ride at this fair was indicated for those UNDER 50" only, or for those OVER 50" only. In other words, Little Girl who is under 50" could ONLY ride kiddie rides, and her 9 year old friend could ONLY ride big people rides, so they couldn't ride ANYthing together anyway! Nor could my sister and I ride anything with Little Girl. Now how poorly designed is that? What if you're a single parent with two kids, one under and one over? They can't ride anything together, so one has to wait while the other rides, then vice versa. That's awful! And a family can't ride anything together!

And it's not as if the big rides were that major. They were things like bumper cars and the scrambler -- rides that Little Girl has been riding at amusement park for two years now! She could not understand why they wouldn't let her ride them. I told her she wasn't tall enough, and she insisted that yes she is tall enough because she's ridden them lots of times!! "Yes," I said, "But they're mean here and won't let you ride." Well, they are.

So anyway. Since Little Girl and 9 year old can't ride anything together anyway, we decided to go ahead and get the cheaper armband and just let her ride for an hour and a half and go home. Since all she could ride was kiddie rides anyway, we figured she'd have gotten her fill by then anyway.

And then we pass this big inflatable dinosaur "obstacle course" -- the one thing she had spied from the parade the night before that she had talked about before even leaving the house as the thing she most wanted to do. And guess what? No armbands. $2 a pop. My sister forked out the money and in she went. When she came out, guess what? "I want to do it again!"

And then there was the Sky Walker attraction. It looked REALLY cool. You're on a trampoline and get strapped into this seat-like thing attached to long stretchy cords, and you can jump and bounce SOOOO high, and do flips and all sorts of neat things. No armbands accepted, of course. $5 a shot.

And then there was the duck pond. She had to pick a duck after all. Another two bucks, but at least she got a little stuffed animal out of that one.

And then there was the giant slide. No sign on it. We approached, and Little Girl got in line. They let her up and said nothing about money. "WOW," I said. "This thing is actually FREE? I can't believe there is ANYTHING free in this place!" She rode several times and we then realized that we'd better get her moving on to the rides that the armband is needed for and we can come back to the slide after 5. So that's what we did.

At 5, she was turned away from the rides and we returned to the slide. She rode twice more, and on her second ride down, a woman with a little girl approached the man running the slide and asked, "How much is this?" "Uh, three dollars," the man replies.

My sister and I just LOOKED at each other. Why hadn't he charged us? Did he just not care and only made the woman pay because she asked? Was it because Little Girl was so cute?

Alas, when she lined up for a third slide, he looked over at us and said, "Her armband's expired, she can't ride anymore." Thanks a lot, lady.

Thus ended our day at the fair. Or rather, our very expensive two hours at the fair. But Little Girl had fun, and in the end, isn't that all that really matters? :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Fish Who Lived

My sister went to stay with a friend for a week while some electrical work was being done on her house. While there, one of the funniest incidents that I've heard in a long time occurred.

Her friend has a two-year-old who just loves watching the fish in the aquariums at Wal-Mart. So said friend decided to buy her son a goldfish. Tropical fish in an aquarium -- goldfish in a bowl. Big difference, and the child cared absolutely NOTHING about the goldfish.

The friend was getting very tired of caring for said goldfish that her son didn't even pay any attention to anyway. She had to clean the bowl every couple of days and it was seriously smelling up the place even so. So she decided to commit murder.

Simple task, right? She flushed the fish.

A few seconds later, my sister heard shrieks coming from the bathroom. She ran to see what was going on. Her friend screamed, "I flushed the fish and it swam back against the current! It won't go down!!" Sure enough, Mr. Fish was fighting his way against the whoosh trying to send him to his grave, and he made it.

My sister reached over and flushed the toilet again. The fish frantically tried to swim against the current but was unsuccessful. The toilet bowl refilled, and the fish was gone.

"But what if it comes back!?" her friend shrieked. "What if it comes back and jumps out of the toilet bowl!?"

"It won't," my sister assured her. "Look, it's gone. I'll flush it one more time for good measure." Flush.

A moment later, both girls began shrieking as when the tank refilled, up swam Mr. Fish again! The water settled, and Mr. Fish swam happily around the toilet bowl.

Her friend resigned herself to owning a fish that would not die, scooped him out of the toilet, and dumped him back in his fishbowl.

Now that is one unbelievable fish!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Visiting Kindergarten

So after a full week of greens on her behavior chart, I told Little Girl that since she was being such a good girl, I would come to school and have lunch with her. She told me I can't do that. I said I certainly can. She seemed very speculative, and didn't display the excitement that I thought she would. I'm not sure she really understood what I was talking about, or realized I meant it.

So when I showed up at her school Monday just in time for lunch, I finally got the excitement I had expected earlier. A look of sheer joy crossed her face when she looked up and saw me and gasped my name, and she literally bounced her way through the cafeteria line. The cooks filled our trays and we sat down and ate. She introduced me to her classmates seated near her, and they were full of questions and interesting comments, as five-year-olds tend to be.

I also met Mrs. Glory, who immediately asked about our "Little House" trip, stating it as "very cool". I hope she thinks trips to Disney World are very cool too, seeing as how we haven't yet asked for permission to take Little Girl out of school for a week over the winter to go. :)

After lunch, I hugged Little Girl and told her goodbye. "Oh, no," she says, oh so seriously. "When your FAMILY is here, they are allowed to play on the playground with you." I'm still not sure whether that is true or not, but out I went, and we had a fabulous time going on an acorn hunt and talking about how little acorns grow up to be big oak trees.

Now I had asked Little Girl if she was still on green today, and she assured me that she was, but that afternoon when she went to Grandma's classroom, Grandma asked, "Did you have a green day today?"

"I don't want to talk about it," was the reply.

"Did you have a purple day?" she asked.

"I don't want to talk about it," Little Girl reiterated.

"You didn't have a RED day, did you?" asked Grandma in shock.

"No," was Little Girl's informative response.

"Well, if you dont' want to talk about it, I guess I'll have to go down to your classroom and see what you got," Grandma told her.

At once Little Girl blurted out, "I got purple, but PLEASE don't tell my Mommy!"

She went on to say that she got in trouble for talking. "Who were you talking to?" Grandma wanted to know.

"Nobody," she says. "I was just talking to myself."

Only Little Girl. Oh, well, nobody's perfect. :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!!!!

Yesterday we celebrated Baby Boy's first birthday!! I can't believe it was just a year ago when I got the call that his mommy had gone in for her doctor's appointment, and they were keeping her and inducing her that night! It was Labor Day weekend then too, so I took advantage of the holiday weekend, hopped in the car, and started driving. I hadn't planned to be there for the birth, since I live almost three hours away, but when I got the word on a Friday night, and knew it was going to be hours yet before he was born, I just couldn't stay away!

So I drove in that night, and my sister and I ended up going to the hospital around 11 pm to wait. I don't even remember what time the little guy was born, I think around 2:30 or so. We got to stay in the room right up until the time of delivery. We waited for about twenty minutes, and then they came to get us, so we got to see him when he was just about five minutes old. His little head was covered in black hair -- the doctor looked at his blonde mommy and said, "Where did all this black hair come from?" Then he glanced up at dark-haired Daddy and said, "Oh... I see!"

The entire family was up all night, of course. We went home about 5 am, I think, and got a little bit of sleep before rushing eagerly back to the hospital to see him again. So a whole year has passed, and Baby Boy has gotten so big! He's not walking yet, but almost! He's been crawling around everywhere for months now, and he does a crab walk using just his feet and hands to crawl on rough surfaces. He pulls to stand easily, and just needs a tiny bit of support from a hand to walk. So it won't be long before little footsteps will be heard everywhere. :)

Baby Boy's birthday started off with his dedication at church. He was a very good boy until the pastor wanted to hold him, and then he scrambled away and clung to his mommy and daddy. However, after the dedication, while seated in the pew next to the pastor, he crawled over and tried to get on his lap. Guess he just needed some time to get used to him. :)

After church, we all went to Baby Boy's house where Daddy grilled out, his favorite thing to do, and Baby Boy got lots of presents. He got his own special cupcake. The poor little thing is allergic to practically everything on the planet, so he couldn't have regular cupcakes, but Mommy managed to make one special one with no dairy, no soy, no anything that he's allergic to that we know of so far, and he loved it. Curious George was the party theme, because Baby Boy is so curious and always into everything.

It was a fun day, and we are all excited that Baby Boy is one year old, although a little sad to see his babyhood going away so quickly. Before we know it, he'll be the one in kindergarten, and Little Girl will be entering the preteen years -- YIKES!! Guess we'd better savor the moment! They pass all too quickly.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Kindergarten vs. Preschool

Well, we have some answers as to why a child who was so well-behaved in preschool is apparently so awful in kindergarten.

A letter was sent home about her misbehaviors. She hums frequently. (Little Girl said, "But a song was stuck in my head and it wanted to get out!") She talks frequently. And she "squeezes" other children. (Um, we call it hugging...) She chews on her shirt (probably in an effort to keep from talking!) She told Miss Brenda, who whispered to her to stop, "If I had some food to eat, I wouldn't have to chew my shirt!"

The director at Little Girl's preschool heard about her behavior issues in kindergarten (small town... everyone knows everyone... won't even go into the circuitous route that this information took to get to her...) and is aghast. She said, "We always encouraged hugging!! We wanted the children to love each other and be affectionate! We never expected children to sit quietly, they're too little!! We encouraged them to express their ideas and feelings, and we love to sing in preschool! If she hummed a song, we'd all join in and sing together! Why stifle their creativity and interest in learning by making them sit and be quiet all the time? Little Girl was NEVER a problem at all in preschool, we LOVED having her and she was always very cooperative and did whatever she was told."

Wow, I like that approach so much better than this kindergarten stuff. I've also learned they get NO nap. They get ONE recess period, for twenty minutes. They are FIVE YEARS OLD, for pity's sake!! I haven't taught for three years, and I can't believe the vast changes that have been made. I keep hearing, "Kindergarten is the new first grade, and preschool is the new kindergarten", but I didn't realize it was really as true as it apparently is. Just three years ago, I taught in a primary school, and our kindergarteners got an hour naptime, a morning recess for 20 minutes, an after lunch recess of 30 minutes, and if the weather was nice, they often went outside to play for another half hour before school let out! And they still managed to be reading by the end of the year. Why must kindergarten be SO academic now? They're stressing these little children out and turning them against school from the beginning. Don't they realize small children NEED rest and play to be ABLE to learn effectively?

Apparently not.

Oh, and the "hitting another child" she got in trouble for? Little Girl's explanation of that: "I LIKE that boy, I want him to be my boyfriend. I didn't hit him, I just patted him gently on the head." I absolutely believe that, because she is always patting Baby Boy on the head like that.

So Little Girl is not the horribly misbehaved child we were led to believe she was. Her teacher also has taught second grade for years, and Grandma suspects she may be expecting second grade behavior from kindergarteners...

Poor Little Girl stated on several occasions this weekend that she misses preschool and wants to go back. When asked if she likes kindergarten, she always says yes, but then when asked WHAT she likes, she answers, "Lunch and swings."

Sigh... I hope she survives the year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

School Days

Monday: Kindergarten Orientation

The time has come -- Little Girl is going to school. It isn't as momentous an occasion as it is for some children. After all, she has been in daycare full-time since she was about 9 months old, and she went to preschool last year, as well. But this is REAL school. How can Little Girl possibly be old enough for REAL school already? But she is.

It was decided that Little Girl would be transferred to Grandma's school, and Grandma hand-picked her kindergarten teacher last year. Unfortunately, the chosen teacher retired at the end of the year, leaving a big unknown as to who would end up teaching Little Girl's class.

When the teacher, hereafter known as Mrs. Glory, was selected, Grandma was thrilled to discover it was a kind and experienced teacher she had taught with in the past -- an excellent choice for our Little Girl. The kindergarten aide had already promised Grandma that she would take good care of Little Girl. So everything was set for a great kindergarten year!

At orientation, Mrs. Glory was very impressed to hear about Little Girl's educational Little House trip. Little Girl was happy to discuss any number of things with Mrs. Glory, and was very excited to finally get to go to Grandma's school after hearing about it for so long.

Tuesday: The First Day of Kindergarten

Little Girl had a great first day of kindergarten. She informed Grandma at the end of the day that she was really good because she didn't even have to go to the principal's office! And guess what! The principal is one kid's grandma! :)

Mrs. Glory reported to Grandma that Little Girl did fine her first day, and the aide, hereafter known as Miss Brenda, said she was just the sweetest little thing, and she sat on her lap part of the day.

So it was reassuring to know that Little Girl is loved, and off to a great year!

Little Girl reported that her favorite part of kindergarten is the pizza she had for lunch. :)

Wednesday: The Second Day of Kindergarten

Oops. We got excited too soon. Grandma saw Little Girl at lunch today, and asked her if she's been good. The other kids were quick to notify her that Little Girl had NOT been good, and in fact, she was on purple!!

The children start out with their cards on green. For each offense, their card gets turned to a new color. First offense, yellow. Second, purple. Third, red.

Little Girl informed Grandma that only one more time and her card would be on red. Grandma knew the punishment, but asked anyway what would happen if her card got turned to red. Little Girl's eyes got very big as she solemnly confided, "You got to go to the principal's office!!!"

Fortunately, the scare of the office must have kept Little Girl good the rest of the day, as she was still on purple at day's end. We, however, are shocked that on her second day of school, she has already misbehaved. Her preschool and daycare teachers have always reported that she is well-behaved, is never any trouble, and they barely even notice she's there. My sister wonders if perhaps Little Girl is simply testing out her boundaries, being in a new school and all.

She punished Little Girl by telling her no tv this evening. She wants to nip any problem behaviors in the bud very quickly lest they turn into an ongoing issue. We discussed it, and came up with the plan that Little Girl will be rewarded for greens, will receive neither reward nor punishment for yellows, will have no tv for purple, and we are hoping she will never get a red so we won't have to worry about how to handle that one. Grandma says that the principal is very good at scaring naughty children into good behavior, though, so perhaps one visit to the office is all that will be needed to curb any naughtiness for the rest of the year.

Sigh. In trouble on the second day of school. We never would have thunk it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Tale of Three Katelets

Once upon a time, there was a Katelet. Katelets are fascinating creatures, and if you don't know one, some explanation will be required so that my story can be fully appreciated. Three primary descriptors come to mind when I think of what makes a Katelet:

1. Katelets are fastidious. They are overly particular about a great number of things. Anything even slightly negative in a Katelet's world must be dealt with -- anything plain or unseemly is decorated, any flaw is repaired if possible and concealed if not, any minor irritation is removed, and Katelets are extremely innovative in the ways in which they accomplish such things. No germ of any kind is permitted within a thousand foot radius of a Katelet or it will be immediately annihilated. No insects of any kind are permitted on any surface of anything that might possibly touch a Katelet, including outdoor furniture, play equipment, or sandboxes, or they will be whisked away if fortunate, or sentenced to death, if not. Any living creature that is not human is highly suspect to a Katelet, and a good many humans are highly suspect as well. One must be particularly cautious when approaching any environment housing a Katelet lest one commit a Kately offense.

2. Katelets are scatterbrained. Never ask a Katelet anything involving geography. Katelets are unaware of obscure facts, like that England is an island, for instance. Don't ask a Katelet anything about math, either, lest you overtax her Kately brain. And even general knowledge is fair game at being beyond the scope of a Katelet's awareness, such as realizing that Xerox makes copiers. Despite these seeming deficits, however, the intelligence of a Katelet is actually far superior to most other people who are not fortunate enough to be a Katelet.

3. Katelets are endearing. This quality is actually all-encompassing, as a Katelet's fastidious and scatterbrained ways are part of what makes a Katelet so endearing.

So keep those traits in mind as you read about my most recent encounter with a Katelet as these characteristics will certainly come into play.

A fourth trait, actually, is that Katelets are cold. Always. But that fact is irrelevant to our story. Which can now begin.

It just so happens that my best friend is a Katelet who lives much further away than any friend should, and the time had come for my annual trek to Katelet Land. It should be mentioned that despite the fact that it is August, this particular Katelet was seen on more than one occasion wearing a sweater. This is better, however, than last year's April visit, in which this Katelet wore a winter coat, despite the 70s temperatures. But as I said, the fact that Katelets are cold is not part of our story.

A week before the big event, our Katelet had a vision. Excuse me, a Vision. It deserves a capital letter. For many years, a bulletin board has hung on the wall behind Katelet's computer, on which were thumbtacked various papers of importance and pictures of her two little Katelets. Well, this Katelet's vision was to have a more sophisticated bulletin board. One covered in fabric and dressed in ribbon. And scrapbooked. Aha... it began to become clear to me just where I fit into this Vision of Katelet's. You see, Katelets do not scrapbook. Prairie Roses do. And so when I made my excursion into Katelet Land, I came armed with scrapbooking supplies, specifically those in the color families of sage green and lavender, the colors which Katelet had decided the Vision must consist of.

Now, the average person could make such a vision become reality without too much difficulty. But Katelets are not average people (nor would we want them to be). Katelets are, lest you have forgotten, fastidious and scatterbrained, yet endearing. And cold. But that's irrelevant.

And so work on the Vision began. And so did a series of unfortunate events that made the Vision much more complex than any Vision ought to be.

Step One: Order pictures. This should have involved a few simple clicks of the mouse, but no... we're dealing with a Katelet here, remember? The pictures were selected, uploaded, and then when ready to order, Katelet discovered that she had no idea what her password was. She attempted to enter everything she could think of, but alas, nothing worked, and there was no option available to have the password sent. A discouraged Katelet left, thinking it impossible to now order her pictures. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to have the password emailed, and later that night, the photos were ordered.

Step Two: Pick out fabric and background papers and pick up pictures. After much deliberation, Katelet decided to select her fabric at the far-away JoAnn's as opposed to the close-to-home JoAnn's, since the far-away JoAnn's was a larger store and was not far from the Walmart where the pictures were to be picked up anyway. So off to JoAnn's we went. Of course, anyone so particular as a Katelet was unable to find exactly the fabric that she saw in her Vision, but she settled for the best she could find, a sage green silk shantung. She had carefully measured her bulletin board, of course, and ordered a couple inches extra just to be safe. The background papers were another matter altogether. It took a great deal of time, involving spreading the fabric out on a table and laying dozens of different papers out across it before our Katelet finally settled on a few that met her high standards, or at least those which came the closest, as nothing truly meets a Katelet's standards except a Katelet itself. And then there was the ribbon! Nothing was good enough there, either, of course, but Katelet finally settled for sage and lavender spools of ribbon.

And then it was off to Walmart to pick up the pictures. Now this Katelet had mentioned that the Walmart was far far away, so I didn't think anything of it when we drove for quite some time. Katelet pointed out roads that relatives lived on, and even drove me through the parking lot of the school where the two little Katelets attend. I began to become a little confused when I started recognizing streets, however, and when at last our Katelet pulled into her very own neighborhood, I could keep silent no longer. "Weren't we going to Walmart?" I questioned. Yes, you guessed it -- our Katelet had left JoAnn's, gone specifically to the area where Walmart was located, driven right past the street and straight on home without stopping. I did warn you that Katelets are scatterbrained, right?

Step 3: Cover the bulletin board with fabric. Our Katelet set right to work on this task. Until this point, she had not decided what to do with the bulletin board frame. She now discovered that she approved of the look of the fabric tucked in beneath the frame, yet still wrapped all the way around it. A border of ribbon could then separate frame from board. The only problem was, she needed about another inch of fabric to be able to accomplish this. Technically, there was enough fabric to just reach. But of course, Katelets are fastidious creatures, and this wasn't good enough, despite my assurances that it looked perfectly fine. So more material must be purchased.

Step 4: Buy more fabric and pick up pictures. Hmm, aren't we right back at Step 2 again? This time, our Katelet decided to go to the near JoAnn's and hope they had the same fabric. They did, and our Katelet had a larger piece cut this time. However, when she attempted to use a Michael's coupon to purchase the fabric, she was informed that those coupons were not good on cut fabric. She said she had printed another JoAnn's coupon (specifically for the purpose of using it on this fabric, and placed carefully by the door so it wouldn't be forgotten) but in typical Kately fashion had left it at home. Those people wouldn't budge. They would hold the fabric for her until she returned with the coupon. A third trip to JoAnn's and the second trip to WalMart finally resulted in the completion of the preliminary steps. Now work on the Vision could begin at last!!

Now keep in mind that the fastidious nature of Katelets has been mentioned. Assisting a Katelet in such a project requires much patience and a sense of humor. I pulled out numerous stamps and stamp pads. "I don't think I want stamps," she commented. I started to crop photos. "NOOOOO, you need more head room!" she gasped with each picture. We rounded the corners of the photos. "I have decided I don't like rounded corners," she said when the task was complete. I demonstrated various artistic positionings of colors and frames and papers and accents. "It's not part of the Vision," she would say each time. "You need to SEE the VISION." Well, it's mighty hard to see a Vision that exists only within a Katelet's head. And yet, after two days of such working conditions, the Vision was complete. It turned out beautifully -- so beautifully, in fact, that the oldest little Katelet decided she wanted the bulletin board in HER room to become a Vision, as well.

I kid you not. Back to JoAnn's for more fabric, more ribbon, more accents, more scrapbooking papers in some wild colors, to match the preteen interests of said little Katelet, who is actually quite opposed to any insinuation that she is a Katelet at all and who worked very hard to hide her Katelet ways during the creation of her very own Vision. Back to Walmart online to order more pictures. And would you believe that our grown Katelet had forgotten her password AGAIN? "No problem," says I, "you should still have the email where they sent it to you." "But they made me change it when I logged in!" she said. "And I don't know what I changed it to!" I did warn you in advance that Katelets are very scatterbrained. Fortunately, one of her guesses worked this time and the photos were ordered.

And so work on the second Vision began, with things going much smoother, as the oldest little Katelet puts forth great pride in NOT being like her mother. "Do you like this?" I asked, showing a possible arrangement, or making a suggestion. "That's fine," she would say agreeably, and then add with a proud smile, "Aren't I easier to work with than Mom?"

But of course, two Visions in one week would simply not be enough. The littlest Katelet of all declared that if the other two Katelets had Visions, she must have one as well. But hers was NOT to be a Vision. Oh no -- this little Katelet would have a bully board! Fortunately, our grown Katelet had not yet made the Walmart run for the pictures, so it was decided that another small bulletin board would be purchased, and the littlest Katelet would indeed have her bully board. And so our Katelet went off to Walmart, leaving me and the two little Katelets to begin work on Vision #2 and the Bully Board. She was gone a very long time. We began to wonder what might have become of her. "She's trying to decide between two bulletin boards that are a half inch different in size," I speculated. Do I know my Katelets or what? I was certainly close! Sure enough, when she returned home, she had a bulletin board that was one inch smaller than the other one, after having searched numerous stores for one that was exactly the same size.

Then came great consternation from all three Katelets over which little Katelet would receive which board, because you know of course that a one-inch strip on a bulletin board allows its owner to include so many more pictures! Long story short, the oldest little Katelet -- the agreeable one -- very nicely took the smaller board, leaving the more finicky little Katelet to have the big one for her Bully Board. This littlest Katelet of all has already formed many Kately habits, and reminded me very much of her mother as we worked. "I don't want the corners rounded," she said determinedly. "I don't like that color. I don't want my picture cut like that. I don't like this idea or that idea." She was able to be encouraged along at a faster pace than her mother was, however, not to mention the fact that her board was half the size, so before too long, both little Katelets had a finished product they were satisfied with, and none too soon, for my visit came to an end that very day.

And what on earth we would have done with ourselves all week without all of these projects and complications, we will never know...! I won't even go into all the trouble caused when this Katelet wanted to post pictures of the Vision to a message board. Nor will I mention the fact that when the Katelet had difficulty finding the sage and lavender bedding she had planned to get for the bed in the room which houses the Vision, she actually considered tearing the Vision apart to do it in PINK and sage instead. Now THAT would be positively criminal!

P.S. I mustn't end this post without mentioning that God certainly has a sense of humor. We went to church Sunday morning, before the major work on any of the Visions had begun, when the Vision was still just an idea in the head of a Katelet and had not yet become reality. One of the songs in the worship service? "Be Thou My Vision."

P.P.S. "What would you like for lunch?" asked the Katelet one day. "We have ham, scalloped potatoes, peanut butter, fluffernutter..." "WHAT?" I asked. "Fluffernutter," she says, and after some discussion, I was able to determine that the item she was actually referring to was marshmallow fluff. Now I must admit that I didn't believe fluffernutter could truly be a real word at all -- surely this was some bizarre Kately concoction. I informed the Katelet that in my world, marshmallow fluff is an ingredient used in a dessert, not an item one would offer when giving lunch choices! (This comment of course caused us to instantly recall a very unusual conversation from the previous year about Katelet ideas on redesigning grocery stores so that the aisles are organized by category: desserts, snacks, sandwich sides, lunch foods, lunch sides, dinner foods, dinner sides, etc. This Katelet was quite perturbed when informed that her concept of what constituted each type of food didn't exactly fit the rest of the world's -- I mean, honestly, doesn't everyone expect cookies and brownies to be in the breakfast aisle!?) Anyhow, back to fluffernutter -- The oldest of the two little Katelets googled the word and we discovered that it is indeed real, although the term is actually used to refer to the sandwich consisting of the fluff and peanut butter combined. I have to say it truly sounds like a dreadful mixture to me. So I am dying to know -- has anyone else actually heard of FLUFFERNUTTER??? And have you EATEN it?? And survived? Do share!!

P.P.P.S. DISCLAIMER: Any negativity about Katelets presented in this blog is intended to be tongue-in-cheek only for the entertainment value of my readers -- all four of you. :o) In reality, all three Katelets are dearly loved just the way they are, and if you have no Katelets in your life, let me be the first to offer my condolences.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Can't Take the Heat!

Okay. So a week of blistering heat and humidity so thick it nearly chokes you when you merely open the door has me wondering, as I've wondered often in the past, just how did the pioneers survive without air-conditioning?

I like air-conditioning. I mean, I REALLY like it. But unfortunately, my line of work means working in other people's homes, and it is absolutely appalling to me how many people there are in this world who do not have air-conditioning!

I've been working 12-14 hour days lately, and approximately 80% of the homes I've visited have been devoid of a/c. Fans are nice in some weather, but they didn't do a thing in this heat and this humidity except blow more stifling heavy air around.

Now, I am well educated about hydration and such, and yet, I spent so much time out in this heat this week that no matter how much I drank (and it probably didn't help that the water was boiling hot after about 11 am anyway, so while it would still hydrate my body, it certainly wouldn't help in lowering body temperature at all), it wasn't enough. I don't typically sweat... well, I sure did this week. I was sticky and wet all day long, as I went from a hot stuffy house to a hot stuffy car to another hot stuffy house hour after hour.

The final straw was when I had to stand outside in the blistering sun for thirty minutes attempting to confine an extremely hyperactive wet sandy toddler to a small unfenced area in the hopes of preventing him from being charged by an angry horse, while his mother and older brother argued back and forth about who was going to be the one to get that horse back in the barn where it belonged. It was the longest thirty minutes of my life, and it certainly pushed me over the edge from hot and miserable into true heat exhaustion.

And that's what got me wondering -- how on earth did the pioneers survive, truly? I'm not talking, how were they not hot and miserable, because I'm sure they were, but how did they prevent themselves from suffering from heat stroke! I guess I could have used some ginger water. ;)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Okay, I've been waiting a bit to post on this book, so as not to accidentally spoil anything for anyone who might not have had time to finish reading it yet. I think by now most of the avid Potter fans will have finished, so will go ahead and post now -- but with fair warning. If you've not yet read/finished Deathly Hallows, there WILL be spoilers in this post, and I strongly advise you NOT to read it yet!!!

Okay, moving on...

I don't really have a whole lot to discuss about this book. Upon finishing each of the other books, my mind was astir with questions and theories and speculations, and there was just so much to discuss with others, so many thoughts to share, so many ideas to put out there and see what others thought. Because at the end of each of the other books, there was still part of the whole story that was unknown, and still so much to try and figure out and understand. This book differs in that no longer am I trying to figure out what happened, and what is going to happen. The answers are very neatly summed up in this book, and I find myself with nothing to ask, nothing to speculate upon. I know from reading others' posts that others still have questions, but I really don't. I don't need to know what each character did for a living or if they had kids, or what their kids were like. That's not essential to the story, to the plot.

I'm very satisfied with the ending. I was a bit afraid that after being so tied up in this story for so many years, that I would be disappointed with the ending. I am thrilled to say that I am not. :)

For so many years, part of the Christian community has been very outspoken against these books. The majority of those people, I am sure, haven't read them, and don't understand what they are truly about. Do I think Rowling was intentionally writing a spiritual allegory? No, probably not, or she likely would have spoken up and said so by now. But did she write a spiritual allegory? In SO many ways!! This last book, and Harry's sacrifice, is a very fitting conclusion to a story that has been the basic good vs. evil story that has endured through the ages, and goes right back to Satan's fall, which started the good vs. evil story of the universe. That said, I see huge differences between Harry's and Jesus' deaths and resurrections, and am in no way saying that it is an exact allegory, the primary difference being that while both gave up their own lives willingly, and out of love, to save the rest of the world and to destroy evil, Harry was thinking of his love for his friends and saving them, Jesus was thinking of His love for His friends, but also His enemies, and even died to save the very ones who killed Him. That would be equivalent to Harry giving up his life to save Bellatrix LeStrange, Lucius Malfoy, Fenrir Greyback, etc. -- no way! Other than that difference, however, (which is crucial!) the sacrifices bear a lot of resemblance, and I think gives those Christians who have read the series a great entry point into spiritual discussion with others. I mean, the popularity of Harry Potter is HUGE -- and everybody wants to talk about them. What an awesome opportunity that has just been handed to us. :)

The quest for the Deathly Hallows... I have seen so many people say they thought this just took away from the book, didn't see the point of it, etc. I LOVED this part of the book. I think it MADE the book. Rowling apparently did too since she titled the book thus. :) After all, Harry and Voldemort share so many similarities. Both grew up without their parents. Both had horrible childhoods, where they were unloved and somewhat mistreated. Both had no idea they were magical until told at age 11, but had discovered their 'special abilities' previously by accident. Both considered Hogwarts their true home, the first place where anyone actually cared about them, the first place they really felt they belonged.

Now we have Voldemort and his quest to be immortal. He discovers a way to achieve this, although through the very darkest magic, which damages his soul. Now Harry is presented with another way to supposedly achieve this. Will he take it? Will he be like Voldemort and decide that if he is the most powerful wizard, he can use his power to rule over the others, and make it a better world (in his opinion)? He learns that Dumbledore once yearned for such power... but unlike Voldemort, Grindelwald, and Dumbledore, Harry makes a wise decision, and as Dumbledore himself says, is the "better man" in the end, which ultimately leads to Voldemort's demise. What about that is unnecessary? :)

Just my two cents.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Little House Journey

So... my mother and I took Little Girl on her very first Little House trip. First of many, I am quite confident. She had a wonderful time!! Now I've been on numerous visits myself, the first ones with family where everything was so new and exciting and I was simply breathless taking it all in, and later ones with various friends where we were always investigating and exploring new things to do, but this time surpassed them all. The standard things, the things that were so exciting those first couple of visits, have become so familiar that I don't know that it would even be worth a trip back just for myself at this point. But seeing everything through Little Girl's eyes, and acquainting her with the stories, brought back the joys, the beauty, the simplicity of the stories themselves.

Who cares if this object belonged to the family? Who cares if that building was originally some building in the books? Who cares that so and so lived there, and so and so homesteaded here? I've certainly been very interested in those things in the past, but this trip was about Little Girl experiencing the books and pioneer life for the first time, and I must say, that enjoyment far surpassed that of any other trip. Well, let me stop rambling, and get on with the events of the trip!!

We flew to Sioux Falls, and after a visit to the zoo, headed up to our Bed and Breakfast in De Smet, South Dakota. It is a restored home that had belonged to Banker Ruth, from the Little House series, and is just two doors down from the Ingalls home the family lived in after Laura's marriage. So that was fun!! Little Girl was very excited about the Murphy Bed in the closet that we pulled down for her. That first night in the B&B, we let Little Girl watch the premiere movie of Little House on the Prairie.

Now, I liked the show as a kid, but I always knew it was very very different from the books. I have no problem with Little Girl watching the show later on, but I really want her to know the BOOKS first. I had bought her the series for Christmas, and wanted my sister to read her at least Big Woods, Prairie, and Plum Creek before we left on this trip, but that didn't happen. When I'm in town, I've read to her, and we finished up Big Woods but that's it. So I decided that since the premiere movie stays relatively close to the book, that would be a good way to get her to experience the stories of Little House on the Prairie a lot faster.

The next morning, Little Girl had a pancake man, like Ma made the children for breakfast on Christmas morning in the Big Woods, only with chocolate chips for the face :o), and after breakfast, we headed on over to the official LIW museum in town. I had made us shirts for the occasion -- Little Girl's had the front cover of Little House on the Prairie where the two girls are looking out the back of the wagon, and it said My First Little House Trip. :o) Mine and Mom's had a pic of the Ingalls family from the De Smet time period (Silver Lake really), dancing to Pa's fiddle, and read: "It is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones after all." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder.

So we looked around in the bookstore while we waited for our Surveyors House tour to begin. When we went in, Little Girl was interested in seeing and touching EVERYTHING, and not so interested in listening to the tour guide, who just went ON and ON and ON, telling the ENTIRE HISTORY of the Ingalls family and all of their moves -- you know, "Then they left the Big woods and went to Kansas and bla bla bla, and then they went back to the Big Woods and bla bla bla, then they went to Walnut grove and bla bla bla, then they went to Burr Oak, and then back to Walnut Grove, and then to De Smet... Since Little Girl was so busy exploring, and I was so busy trying to keep her from touching anything she shouldn't, I didn't figure she was paying the least bit of attention, and there was a man there with a baby who wasn't being OVERLY fussy but who was making some little whimpers and cries here and there, and the woman asked him to leave!! So I was terrified she was going to send us out with Little Girl!!

But she didn't, and at long last the talking was over and LG was free to look around. She got to grind wheat in an old coffee grinder like they did in The Long Winter and she enjoyed that.

Our next stop was the Discover Laura center across the road -- an old schoolhouse that the association has put there since the last time we went, for hands-on activities for kids. Little Girl LOVED it there. She did every single activity: she sewed with an old sewing machine, she used a writing guide to write her name with her eyes closed pretending to be blind like Mary, she spelled out her name in Braille by glueing peas in the appropriate circles, she made a covered wagon out of paper, she built cabins with Lincoln Logs, she cooked with the play food on the old-fashioned stove, she gathered toy eggs from beneath stuffed chickens , she tried on several bonnets and aprons and dresses from the dress-up trunk, and she made butter from cream and served it to us on crackers. We were in there for over two hours. Every other family came in, their kid would do one or two things, and in 10-15 minutes they'd be bored and leave. Not LG!!

And apparently she had been listening more than I thought during that Surveyors House tour, as in the school, she sat at the teacher's desk, picked up a book and said, "Now children, I'm going to tell you a story about a girl named Laura, and her Pa, and Ma, and Mary, and Baby Carrie, and Jack, and Black Susan. And they lived in the forest for a bery bery long time, and then they moved to....?" She looked questioningly at me, and I said, "Kansas." She says, "They moved to Kansas. And then they moved to somewhere else, and then they moved to somewhere else, and then they moved to somewhere else, and then they moved to somewhere else. And then Laura got bery old and she went to heaven to live with God and Jesus. The End."

I laughed SO hard, especially because her biography is so accurate!!!! :o)

At long last, she had completed every single activity and was ready to go. A playground was outside the building so she played there for awhile, and then we went to the Ingalls house in town, and toured it. We then went and had a late lunch, and then I took her swimming. There were real frogs in the pool!!

After swimming, we headed back to the B&B and got cleaned up and then it was time to head out to the pageant grounds. We got there right after they opened the grounds so we could get front row seats. There were wagon rides around the prairie while we waited. Little Girl provided a running commentary of the entire pageant. She NEVER stops talking... but at least she was paying attention as she talked, and her comments were hilarious.

Saturday morning, Little Girl wore her prairie dress that Mammaw made her, and she was absolutely gorgeous. After breakfast (LG got a Mickey Mouse pancake today! The B&B owner had made one for her grandson the day before, so LG put in a special request...), we headed out to the Ingalls homestead, visiting first the society's corner of the homestead claim, where Pa's cottonwoods still stand. Then we headed up the hill to the "Ingalls Homestead", which is a huge hands-on experience basically, spread out all over the original Ingalls homestead claim. There are several buildings -- a dugout, a claim shanty, etc. and the entire thing is hands-on, nothing is off-limits or only for viewing. So if you want to lay down on a straw tick, play an old pump organ, play at cooking on the stove, etc., that's all totally fine. And that is Little Girl's idea of a museum!! :o)

She did so many things that day it would be impossible to relate them all. Again, though, she did EVERY SINGLE activity offered, never growing bored or wanting to skip ANYthing, so we were there ALL DAY LONG. She did some laundry, using an old wringer washer. She sewed, she quilted, she braided a rug, she made a button toy and a jumprope and a corncob doll, she ground wheat again, she pumped water, she checked out the outhouse but was NOT impressed (people actually use it...YUCK), she went on a pony cart ride, she drove a team of horses across the prairie to take us all to "school", where she performed beautifully. There were about ten kids present for our school session, most older, about 8-12. The teacher had them line up and had a spelling bee. Those kids could not spell, I think only one or two spelled their words correctly (and they weren't hard words, apron, bonnet, cowboy, etc.) and even those were slow and unsure. Two 3 yr olds were only asked to count to 3, so we were hoping Little Girl, the only other really young child there, would be given a word to spell instead of asked to count to 5 or something dumb like that, because she CAN spell any short vowel word you give her. The teacher asked her name, and then asked her to spell it, which she was able to do at 2 or 3, but at least it was spelling a word instead of counting to 5. Then they had a music lesson. The teacher sang, "My name is Mrs. Nelson" and the children were to try to match her tune and use their own names. A couple of the older girls did a decent job, but most of the kids were totally off-key. We wondered what Little Girl would do. When it came to her turn, the teacher sang, "My name is Mrs. Nelson," and in perfect pitch in her ever so sweet voice, she sang back loudly and clearly, "My name is Little Girl." The entire schoolroom of people awwwwed. :)

Oh, and then there was the barn. I mustn't forget the barn, for upstairs was a box of kittens. How Little Girl loved those kittens. We were there a LOOOONG time.

That evening, the society was holding a free "covered wagon supper". No more details were ever given, and I had been quite eager to see what this would be, thinking it would be a legitimate pioneer style meal. Um, try hot dogs, potato chips, and baked beans. Can't beat free though, so we ate, and then let Little Girl try out every playground in the entire town. :)

Saturday night at the B&B, we let Little Girl watch more Little House: the first part of a Harvest of Friends where the family lives in the dugout and Pa builds the house, then turned it off before they went into the crazy story about Pa stacking those bags and getting hurt, and put in Country Girls, where the girls start school and meet Nellie Oleson. Those two pieces stay fairly close to the books and we figured it would help her get familiar faster with the main events of Plum Creek, in preparation for our visit to Walnut Grove the next day.

Sunday morning, Little Girl got another pancake man, and clothed once more in her prairie dress since she begged to wear it again, we headed off for Walnut Grove. The two hour drive seemed ENDLESS, and we really felt for the Ingalls family riding in a wagon across the empty prairie from early in the morning until late at night -- and that was only from Tracy to Brookings, about HALF the trip we made in two hours...

Walnut Grove has added quite a bit since our last trip too. Most of its stuff was roped off and you just look at it, and LG whizzed right by that stuff, but there was one hands-on room and once again, we spent a LONG time in it. She carried firewood like Laura and Mary, put it in the stove and "cooked" us a meal, tried on numerous hats, played with some old wooden toys including a Noah's Ark like Willie Oleson had in Plum Creek, looked through a stereoscope (very cool, as I always wondered just how they worked!), played us a tune on another pump organ, etc.

After touring all the museum had to offer, we went out to Plum Creek. I couldn't believe it, but Little Girl seriously wanted to wade in the creek. We tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted. She did an excellent job of holding up her dress so it didn't get wet at all, but when she came out, her feet were quite muddy. We had wipes in the car and I tried to clean them off but they just weren't terribly effective. Oh well, our next stop was our hotel, and it was only a few minutes away, so we headed there, and I carried her with her muddy feet straight from the car to the tub. I used soap and a washcloth and scrubbed those feet and still she had some brown spots on her feet when we were finished. I don't know how on earth Ma ever got Laura's and Mary's feet clean!! Perhaps she didn't. :o)

There was a park across the street from the hotel conveniently enough, so after we ate, and stopped by the Wheels Across the Prairie exhibit in Tracy, where Ma and the girls had ridden the train to, from Walnut Grove, I took her to the park. Then we headed off to the pageant. I've always preferred the Walnut Grove pageant to the De Smet one just because the sets are so awesome, it's more professionally done, etc., but I'm changing my mind now. It has a few events from the book, but so much is centered on town life, and church life, and it takes away from the charm of the books, in my opinion. Just act out the book, that's the only play I need to see!!

And so the next morning we traveled home, with a visit to the Creation Museum during our SEVEN HOUR layover. My sister told me that the whole way home from the airport, Little Girl chattered away about leeches and the big crab and Nellie Oleson. :)

Yes, the Little House obsession has effectively spread to the next generation... :)