Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Library

I spend a lot of time at the library. Always have. Time was when the library was used for reading, studying, researching. There were card catalogs with actual cards, and the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Technology has really changed the way the library works today, as all of that information is now at our fingertips through computerized card catalogs and the internet.

But shouldn't the library still be a place for reading, studying, and researching? It no longer seems to be, and that both amazes and saddens me.

Our public library, for example, has two long tables filled with computers, with internet access. This makes sense to me -- the internet contains a wealth of information, and for people who don't have access at home or at work, the library provides a wonderful opportunity for people to take advantage of the internet to obtain desired information.

What disturbs me is that this doesn't seem to be what those computers are used for at all.

I literally spend several hours at a time, several days a week at the library. I use the library for what I perceive its purpose to be: researching. Interlibrary loan is my friend. I've always got a box of microfilm of some sort being held for me at the desk, and every librarian there runs to get it the moment I walk in.

(What this tells me is... I'm the only one. I'm instantly recognizable because this is different from how other people use the library.)

To my surprise, they've never asked just what I'm doing, though I'm sure it must puzzle them. Since I'm simultaneously working on two completely different projects, the dates, locations, and types of information would seemingly have no correlation with each other. But if they're curious, they've never asked.

The microfilm machine sits right next to all of these computers, so I see exactly what goes on. These computers are not being used to research topics of interest... to locate journal articles... to access online encylopedias. There are three primary uses that I have observed: 1) to play games; 2) to listen to music and watch videos (thank goodness for headphones, though the sound is still audible); and 3) social networking, such as Myspace and Facebook.

Game-playing is by far the most popular use.

What I really find astounding is the number of adults that bring infants and small children to the library and make them sit there for hours while they -- the adults -- play computer games. They scold these children, who have absolutely nothing to do (good grief, could the adult not at least go down to the children's room and get them a book to look at? This IS a library...), because they're talking or wanting to get up and run around. If you HAD to bring your small child to the library because you had work you needed to do and nobody to watch them, okay -- but to play games? For hours? Leaving your child bored to tears with nothing to do? And then you want to blame the child for "misbehaving"? I don't understand these people, and if you are reading this and are one of those people, then perhaps you could explain your end of things, because I am really trying to understand this mindset but it's just out of my realm of comprehension.

It also surprises me that the library doesn't discourage this at all. Folks ask the reference librarian for assistance all the time with these non-learning computer tasks, and he/she never says a word to indicate that perhaps library computers should be used for learning. Maybe they found it was a losing battle. Maybe they've discovered that nobody uses the computers for research anyway, so there's no need to try to keep them freed up for those nonexistent people.

One day as I was leaving, the librarian who had been supervising the computer area told me that I won the prize for the only person who came to the library that day to do serious work. I responded that I think I win that prize every day. He sadly agreed.

One day a few weeks back I went to a talk given at the library -- on a topic that should have been of great interest to local people. However, I had a feeling that there would not be a good turnout. I was surprised to discover there were actually four other people who showed up for it (all elderly, I might add), and I wasn't the only one surprised. The presentation was made possible through a humanities grant, and the speaker began by saying that she has been doing these presentations all over the state and frequently has had only one person show up, so she was actually thrilled with the turnout. How sad is that!?

How can we turn libraries back into a center for learning? Do adults who are no longer in any type of school setting stop learning new things nowadays? I think about all the clubs that Laura Ingalls Wilder was in during her adult life -- before she ever penned a single novel. Those small-town women sat around at their regular club meetings and discussed current events, they learned about the geography and cultures of areas around the globe, they were always interested in learning and self-educating. Just imagine what they could have done with all the information we have available today.

Has this become a thing of the past for most people? I know there are others out there like me who keep learning long past their school days, but are we becoming the minority? How do we teach today's children that learning is something that should be pursued throughout one's lifetime?

Edited to add: Based on an emailed comment that I received regarding the post, I wanted to clarify something. I was not in any way implying that everyone should be using microfilm readers and spending hours doing research. I was simply explaining that this is the reason I have spent so much time at the library to observe what other people are doing on the computers. To explain that this was not a one-time pass-by but a consistent phenomenon that I have observed. Libraries are most certainly for getting books. Reading books is a good way to learn new things. It is a perfectly good use of a library. My rant was not in any way belittling people who only use the library to get books, because that is indeed its purpose. My rant was about people who use the library to, essentially, waste time. There are so many good useful productive ways to use the library's computers: job searches, researching or making travel plans, getting maps and directions, locating local businesses or finding products that you can't find at local businesses, reading or learning more about topics of personal interest. I am simply saying that these are things that I assumed the library computers were intended for, and my surprise was that the primary use seems instead to be playing games. Not even puzzle games, logic games, something that at least exercises your brain, but those role-playing games, adventure games, etc. seems to be the order of the day. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Knock Knock

My phone just rang. I glanced at it and saw that it was my sister. I picked up the phone. "Hello?"

It wasn't my sister. It was Little Girl. "Hi, do you wanna hear a knock knock joke?"

Me: "Okay..."

Little Girl: "Knock Knock."

Me: "Who's there?"

Little Girl: "Little House."

Me: "Little House who?"

Little Girl: (launches into the theme song from Little House on the Prairie.)

She made the "joke" up herself. Obviously.

I think I need never worry that "Little House" won't saturate her every thought as it does mine.


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Day I Nearly Lost My Innocence...

So, a blog post by a friend about taking back words that used to have perfectly harmless meanings but have been twisted into having negative connotations in more recent years to the extent that nobody ever uses the words to mean what they originally did caused me to remember a funny little story from my childhood.

Once upon a time, I had a great-aunt who was very dear to me, more like a grandmother really, for she raised my father after his mother died when he was very young.

She was your stereotypical sweet little Christian old lady. She lived in a terrible neighborhood, where drugs and murders were rampant, but she wasn't at all afraid. No, she was a soul-winner and never missed an opportunity to ask these people that the rest of the world had given up for lost the age-old question, "If you die tonight, do you know where you'll go?" and then proceed to share the gospel story with them.

That background is necessary to appreciate the full humor of this story -- to help you picture the Bible-quoting Sunday School teacher that she was.

So I must have been about 9 or 10 years old, and mind you, I lived a very innocent and protected life, and on this particular day I was visiting with my great-aunt. Just me, it was a special treat that I was permitted to do from time to time and I loved nothing better.

So on this day so long ago, we were playing a game of Bible Trivia. We loved to play games together, but they were always Christian games -- Glory, Pilgrim's Progress, etc. This lady's entire life revolved around Jesus, I'm telling you.

I selected a card and read her the question: "Which part of the body was named after a character in the Bible?"

She thought for a moment, then answered, "Peter."

"Huh??" I said cluelessly. "It says what part of the body..."

She nods. "Yes, I know."

"But what part of the body is called Peter?" I asked in bewilderment.

She suddenly becomes quite nervous, and says she doesn't know what she was thinking, and what was the answer?

"Adam's apple..." I read off the back of the card. "But why did you say Peter?"

She dismissed the entire conversation and moved quickly along to the next question. I likely would have forgotten all about it, except that she called me that night.

"I wanted to apologize for what I said this afternoon," she says to me. "I never should have said that. I don't know what I was thinking."

"What did you say?" I questioned, straining to remember what on earth she might have said to me that she would feel the need to apologize for.

"When I answered that question and said Peter," she reminded me. "I'm really sorry, I never should have said that."

I was completely lost as to the reason for her apology, of course, and curiosity over just what this was really all about caused me to remember it years later, when I finally discovered what she meant, and just why she was so upset about this.

And looking back, I find it hysterically funny that she of all people was the first person to expose me to language bordering on vulgar.

It's always those sweet innocent old lady types that have everybody fooled, you know...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sharing Anne

One of my favorite things to do, ever, is to share books that I cherish with others who will appreciate them the way I do.

Back in the spring, I mentioned that I was reading Anne of Green Gables with a teenage girl I tutor. We're nearly finished with it now (yes, I realize that's some slow reading, but we only do a chapter or two a week, so...) and it's been a wonderful experience for both of us, I think. I love sharing the book, and showing this girl who has never read a REAL book before just why reading is such a delight. It's also been a good book to help her open up and express some of her own thoughts and feelings about her past -- she was a foster child (recently adopted) and life's been pretty tough for her, and I think Anne has been very good for her emotionally.

So today we were reading, and many times throughout this book I have been reminded of just why I love it so much -- what makes it so exceptional -- but today we read one of my favorite bits:

Anne sat down on Marilla's gingham lap, took Marilla's lined face between her hands, and looked gravely and tenderly into Marilla's eyes. "I'm not a bit changed-- not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real me--back here--is just the same. It won't make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life."

Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla's faded one, and reached out a hand to pat Matthew's shoulder. Marilla would have given much just then to have possessed Anne's power of putting her feelings into words; but nature and habit had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her arms close about her girl and hold her tenderly to her heart, wishing that she need never let her go.

As I read, I felt tears stinging my eyes, and thought to myself how silly I am, I mustn't cry. Then I looked up at my little friend and saw tears streaming down her cheeks. Okay, it's not just me who was moved. :) When we finished, she looked up, eyes shining, and said, "That was an awesome chapter!"

And I realized that this is something that distinguishes a good book from a great book: the ability to make the reader feel. To make the characters so real that their feelings become ours. I wish that I had the ability to do that with words, to form characters that come to life and have an emotional impact on the reader. Is such a skill innate, or can it be learned, and if it can be learned, how?

Anyhow... we've nearly reached the end. I promised her months ago that if she could get through the entire book (because you should have seen the look on her face when I presented a book of that length, and then when she opened it and saw all the words!! the big words! huge words!), she could come over to my house and we'd watch the movie together. So it won't be long now until we do that, and that should be a fun night, watching such a great movie with someone else who really gets it. Because she does. There are certainly no complaints about it being too long or too hard now!

We're totally starting on Little House next. After getting through Anne of Green Gables, Little House should be a breeze for her! I just hope she loves them as much as I do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

33 Miles

On the eve of 33 Miles' new release, I thought I'd reflect a bit... on their music, and their name.

33 miles... it represents the 33 years Jesus walked on this earth. The significance of what He accomplished in those 33 years and its continued effect on us a couple thousand years later is nothing short of miraculous.

That number has special meaning to me right now. Why?

I'm 33 years old.

Obviously there's no comparison -- He's God, of course He made a huge impact. But if I'm to be Christ-like, shouldn't my life be having some great impact, as well? I think it should. And now I've had the same amount of time on earth as He has.

That's a little frightening.

I mean, I can look back on my life and see some good things. The good decisions I made. The good effects I've had on some people.

Unfortunately, though, looking back also drudges up so not-so-great things that I'd rather not remember. But I must remember them, so the next time I'm faced with similar choices, I don't make the same mistakes.

I love the chorus of 33 Miles' new song "One Life to Love". I like the whole song, but the verses don't really apply to me... but the chorus applies to us all.

"We only get just one time around... one life to love."

You can listen to it below -- you can hear it on their website linked above too but the traffic seems to be a little high tonight and it's not always loading well.

The way I see it, I can't change what I've done with the 33 years of my life that I've lived so far -- but I can do something about however much time I have left.

I've been wrestling with some decisions lately over how best to handle some situations with some different people, and I think this just answered my question. I'm simply going to choose to love... and I think the rest will take care of itself.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seasons of Travel

When the warm whispers of spring arrive, and everything is green and new again, I am so happy to be right where I am that traveling somewhere else never even crosses my mind.

But I must admit that when the sun begins to beat down a summer heat, my heart wanders to the prairies. I'm not sure why the change in weather creates that urge, but it does. Perhaps because I always have that desire to return hidden deep within me, and because I've only ever been during the hot summer months, that type of weather pulls the desire to the surface. Nonetheless, my desire was satiated this summer with the glorious prairie sunset and sunrise on the Homestead.

Until next summer, of course.

The days are starting to get cooler. I've changed my daily shorts for jeans, though it's not cool enough for long-sleeved shirts yet. The leaves are still green. Still, with just a hint of autumn's crispness in the air, my heart has already gone wandering again.

In the fall, the Ozarks call out to me, beckoning. Again, I'm not sure why. I've been to Mansfield in the summer also, but perhaps because of all the no-longer-existent Rocky Ridge Days I used to attend in Octobers of not so long ago, I've come to associate it with that season. For whatever reason, although I love fall here too and it's every bit as beautiful as it is in the Ozarks, I'm unsettled unless I have a couple days in Mansfield. So I look forward to October when I can satisfy that longing.

Winter? No Ingalls urgings here. I hate winter. I hate snow and ice and cold. In the winter my heart yearns not for the haunts of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but for Mickey Mouse. :) I make my annual escape to Florida and soak up enough sun to survive the rest of winter.

So there are my seasonal travels. How about you? Does your mind turn to another place at certain times of the year? Where and why?

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Last Time

Little Girl is growing up, and that fact has really become clear to me this summer. For some reason, starting first grade seems like such a bigger deal than starting kindergarten was. She just seems so old, so grown up these days. It's like she turned six, and aged ten years in the process. She's not a baby anymore, that's for certain.

She's only six, and yet I'm already thinking of all the things she's outgrown and outgrowing. Things she's done for the last time.

A few years ago, a friend lost her little boy to brain cancer. Just a couple of weeks before his diagnosis, when nobody had any idea that anything was wrong with him, she and I were watching Little Girl and her son play together, and we teased that maybe someday they'd marry each other and we would be related. :)

And then came his devastating diagnosis, the months of treatment and hope, and then those final weeks when we knew there was no more hope. One concept his parents reiterated again and again during those months was summed up in three words: Hug your kids. Essentially they were reminding everyone else through their own experience that every moment with the ones you love is precious and shouldn't be wasted, because you never know how many more you have.

I remember when the end was nearing, and they talked about his last good day. They didn't know when it was until it was over. We can celebrate our child's firsts, but often we don't have a chance to celebrate the lasts because we don't usually know when the last time is occurring until after the fact.

I think part of why I treasure every moment spent with Little Girl is because of this little boy. Every time I see her, I think of him. I wonder what he would be like at this age. What would he be doing? What kind of person would he have turned out to be? And I recognize what a treasure every day we are given with Little Girl truly is.

Little Girl has a habit... an annoying habit, really, but one I cling to nonetheless. Ever since she was a baby, maybe 18 months or so, she has cried out, "Uppy, uppy!", wanting to be carried.

I'm telling you, the child is L-A-Z-Y. :) She wants to be carried everywhere. It can be particularly bothersome when you're tired yourself, or when the distance she wants to be carried is quite far, because it was one thing to carry her everywhere at 18 months -- at age 6, she is getting HEAVY!

My sister has become particularly impatient with this. "Uppy, uppy!" Little Girl will cry, retaining the word of her babyhood, and my sister has stopped paying her any heed. When she tells her no, she turns to me. "Uppy, uppy", and if there's any way possible to do it, I pick her up and carry her.

My sister says I shouldn't, that she's plenty old enough to walk, and to just make her walk and she will.

But she's six years old. She's not going to want to be carried forever. And every time she reaches for me and says, "Uppy, uppy," I am reminded that this time just might be the last.

And I'm not willing to risk forfeiting my last opportunity ever to carry her in my arms.

Because I won't know it's the last time until it's too late.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My "Itching Foot"

I have a vision of what I want my life to look like. It involves foster-adopting two or three little ones and being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, while living out in the country, close enough to family that my children build strong family relationships. Several acres of land, with poison ivy free woods. A few fruit trees and a nice big vegetable garden so that we could survive if the economy crashes. We'd have to be vegan, as animals do NOT fit the vision, but I've done that before, and I could handle it again.

I know, I know, it's a vision that is very unlikely to come to pass, and if it did come to pass, it probably wouldn't be as sweet and idyllic as it is in my mind. The kids would fight, I would despair of ever teaching them anything and would be desperate for some time to myself, and the deer would eat the garden. But it's fun to dream, isn't it?

The funny thing is, although I've been faced with challenge after challenge in trying to make my dream come to pass, I'm actually quite content with my life just the way it is. I'm still trying to fulfill some, if not all, of those dreams, but I'm not at all unhappy in the meantime.

But lately, as I search for the perfect house (or even the acceptable house!) to buy if this one ever sells, I'm beginning to understand a bit how Pa Ingalls felt when he experienced his "itching foot."

He was thin and tired from all the hard work he had done, in town and in the fields, and he was restless because people were settling the country so thickly.

"I would like to go West," he told Ma one day. "A fellow doesn't have room to breathe here any more." ....

Laura knew how he felt for she saw the look in his blue eyes as he gazed over the rolling prairie westward from the open door where he stood.

~Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years

Laura expands on this in The First Four Years with a beautifully poetic analogy:

The incurable optimism of the farmer who throws his seed on the ground every spring, betting it and his time against the elements, seemed inextricably to blend with the creed of her pioneer forefathers that "it is better farther on" -- only instead of farther on in space, it was farther on in time, over the horizon of the years ahead instead of the far horizon of the west.

Lately, I've been feeling crowded in. Everywhere you go, there are houses, stores, people. Everything seems smaller and closer together than it used to.

Take my childhood home, for example. When I was a little girl, we had a big yard surrounded by woods. My grandparents lived just up the hill. There was only one other neighboring house visible from anywhere in either of our yards, and nothing but woods and empty land all around.

I considered buying the two acres of woods adjoining their property and building a home there. A log cabin, I visualized, dreaming of how lovely it would be to have my own little house in the big woods -- well, big house in the little woods, anyway. :) And with my parents' and grandparents' couple of acres adjoining it, it works out to be a pretty nice-sized lot all together, and my kids could definitely build those family ties that way!

But when I went to look over the land and actually think about living there, I realized something. The big yard with wide open spaces all around is gone. The yard is still the same size, of course, but it seems smaller to me now. The open spaces are all gone. Other than that two acres of woods I was considering buying, everything else is all built up. There are three houses now in front of my grandparents' home. Two more just across the road. Five houses where before there were none. And it feels crowded. And I don't want to live there.

I want to live in the country. I want room to breathe, without neighbors crowding in around me. And yet, I still need to live close enough to civilization that I don't spend a fortune in gas just getting to work each day. That used to be possible, but I'm beginning to wonder if such a thing exists anymore.

There exists in my mind an idyllic spot -- the farm where my grandmother grew up. We visited there earlier this summer, and while it would be a bit more of a drive than I'd like, it's manageable. The entire region is still very rural, with just a farmhouse scattered here and there along the creek and lots of empty land in between. And my roots are in that land. My ancestors lived there and farmed that land for generations. When I walked that land, I felt as if I belonged there.

And then the other day I made the innocent comment that I was going to drive out there and take a look around, and was faced with great consternation on the part of the older relatives at the very idea. "We'd never see you again!" they warned. "There are murders out there all the time! Drugs are rampant!"

What? In that sweet little farming community? I pictured nice salt-of-the-earth farm families, a place where everybody knew everyone else and looked out for them, the perfect place to raise a family. And to be told that instead, it's such a dangerous place that to even drive out there for a look around on my own would get me killed??

Pa thought it would be better farther west. Laura thought it would be better farther on in time.

I began to think to go back in time is the only way to make it better. To a time when the land was less crowded. When the people were friendlier. When it was safe to let your kids run around and play.

But I've decided that wouldn't work either, even if it were possible. Just like my vision of the future is idealistic, so are our visions of the past. The "good ole days" that weren't so good when people were living in them, but are treasured now that they're gone.

So maybe it IS better farther on, and maybe it's not. But despite its faults and occasional disappointments, I'm discovering that life is really pretty good right now.

So I'm going to enjoy each moment to the fullest, and if or when any part of the vision comes to pass, I'll enjoy those moments to their fullest too, instead of wasting them yearning for something better farther on that may never come to pass.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

All About Little Girl

So far, first grade is wonderful! Such an improvement over the very sad kindergarten year Little Girl had.

Her first grade teacher had heard stories of Little Girl's supposed behavior problems in kindergarten. I'm not sure what she was expecting from the reports, but it's not what she got. She reports that she has no idea what the problem was last year, but Little Girl is very well-behaved and she hardly even knows she's in the room. She occasionally doesn't pay attention, but all the teacher has to do is say her name and she's right back on task again. She loves to do her work, and as soon as it's given to her, she reads the directions herself and gets started. And she says she's very smart, which even the kindergarten teacher had always admitted to, but apparently hadn't bothered to share that information with the first grade teacher, only the bad behavior comments...

How wonderful to hear such a positive report after all the negative ones from the kindergarten teacher. We had long suspected the problem was with the teacher rather than with Little Girl, but it's nice to see that our suspicions were confirmed, and we weren't just in denial. :)

And I discovered we can no longer discuss things in front of Little Girl by spelling that we don't want her to overhear. My sister was reporting all the good things the first grade teacher was saying about her, and I said, "I'm so glad she doesn't have a bad t-e-a-c-h-e-r this year." Little Girl looks up from her play and immediately says, "Teacher?"

Oops. :) I really had NO idea she could decode that, and in conversation when spelled so quickly too! There will be no more spelling in front of her!

The last time I was in, Little Girl was very concerned about Baby Boy's spiritual status. "Is he saved?" she asked. We answered that he wasn't yet because he's so little but we're pretty sure he will decide to do that when he's big like her. "Does he even know about God?" she asked. "Oh, yes," we answered. "He has his own little Bible that his mommy and daddy read to him, and he goes to church every week too, you know." "But does he love God?" she says, the horror of the thought of someone not loving God evident in the tone of her voice. "I'm sure he does," we answered. "But how do you know if he loves God?" she asked worriedly. We told her to ask him and see what he said.

So she turned to him very seriously and questioned, "Do you love God?" "Yeah!" he responded happily, thus quelling her fears and putting an end to the worried questioning.

The other day in the car, she picked up the roll of wrapping paper I had back there to wrap Baby Boy's presents, and held it up to her eye. "Arrrr!" she says in her best pirate voice. "I spy the treasure!" She used it to look around at things for a minute, and then pointed it at me and said, "I see your heart! Do you know why your heart is a treasure?"

"No, why?" I said absentmindedly, too busy driving to really be paying much attention to what she was doing.

"Because Jesus lives in your heart," she answered. Awwwwwww. Isn't she the sweetest little thing ever? :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!!!!

Baby Boy is two years old!! Happy birthday!!

He got a huge birthday present -- a new house! Yes, Mommy and Daddy just closed on their new house Friday and were brave enough to have a party there today. No furniture. No remodeling done. Just, as is. I wouldn't have done it myself. But I guess they figured everyone was going to want to see the new house anyway, might as well kill two birds with one stone.

We didn't care what the house looked like, we were just rejoicing that the new house is here, and not in Florida. :)

It was a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party, and Baby Boy was very excited at everything he saw with Mickey on it -- especially the cake!! Daddy grilled in the back yard and all the family came, and a few friends. It's been a pretty comfortable summer, very few days even getting in the 90s this year, very unusual. Today, of course, for this outdoor party, it was 96. So after suffering in the heat for awhile, we all finally headed in and did the gift opening and cake inside.

Baby Boy got a ton of loot, of course. At Little Girl's birthday party in July, there was a little rollercoaster ride that he just loved. Well, Grandpa bought him his very own. Yes, you heard me, Baby Boy got a rollercoaster for his birthday! The child lacks for nothing. :)

Little Girl got a little present too. She had seen the presents in my car, and I had wrapped hers in pink princess paper so it wouldn't get lost among Baby Boy's gifts. Upon spying the gifts, she said, "Oooooh, Baby Boy's presents!" Then she spied the little one, and her face really lit up then, as she says, "Is this one MINE?"

I asked why on earth she thought it would be hers -- it was Baby Boy's birthday! "It's in PRINCESS paper," she accuses.

"Well, Baby Boy is a prince..." My argument fell flat. She was certain it was hers. I finally had to say that I ran out of the blue wrapping paper and that was all I had left. She was skeptical, but she bought it.

I wouldn't have minded telling her it was hers, except that while she has no difficulty whatsoever understanding that a gift belongs to someone else (i.e., it was Baby Boy's birthday, so he was getting presents and she wasn't), if she knows something is for her, she wants it NOW. And will throw a FIT if she is told no. It was a battle I wasn't willing to fight. I'd rather lie. Sorry, but my rule is avoid tantrum-causing situations whenever possible!

So at the party, she was very excited when I gave it to her and told her it was hers, after all. She was even more excited when she opened it and found a little black kitty from the Loftus Store in De Smet, South Dakota. When we were there last year, she begged for one of these black cats -- they aren't plush, they are hard, with fur on them. We didn't think she'd play with it at all, because it wasn't cuddly, and tried to get her to choose something we thought she'd enjoy more, but she insisted it was one of those cats that she wanted, so we got her one, and boy, was it ever a good choice. She LOVES this cat. She named it Black Susan, of course. She has played with it more than probably any other toy she owns for the past year. So this year, I bought a "baby" for her cat. Only she says it isn't Black Susan's baby -- it's Black Susan herself, when she was a baby. So now she has a Baby Black Susan and a Big Black Susan. :)

Whether or not she will feel the need to put two cat-holes in her bedroom door -- a big cat-hole for the big cat, and a little cat-hole for the little cat -- remains to be seen. :)

More Little Girl stories from the weekend still to come later, but I wanted to post Baby Boy's Happy Birthday on the right day! :)

Happy 2nd Birthday! (I might have to change his name to Little Boy if he doesn't stop growing up so fast!)