Two weeks before Valentine ’s Day my daughter’s teacher sent home a box with instructions to decorate it and bring it back for the class party. We’ve made Valentine boxes for the past few years, so I was no stranger to the tradition and was at least grateful that this time we were given a box and did not have to scrounge for one ourselves. We kept running out of time to work on the box and it eventually got lost under the pile of debris that perpetually accumulates in the one corner of my kitchen that I’ve started referring to as the Black Hole. I tried to forget about the fact that we needed to decorate a Valentine box because I had much more pressing things on my mind in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Then, on the Friday before Valentine’s, my daughter announced that she wanted to decorate her box to look like a tea set and that she would need some stiff paper in red and pink. Inside I began to panic a little, because I’m not that crafty and I certainly do not have the skills to turn her vision into reality. But I still went to Hobby Lobby the next day and loaded up on pink and red cardstock and Valentine stickers. Continue reading
Popham Beach State Park, Maine
In a recent Worldwide Leadership Training Conference, attendees heard someone’s thoughts on “that thing that is of most worth to a woman in this life.” If someone asked you what that “thing of most worth” is, how would you answer?
Some years ago I went through a very tough time. Metaphorically speaking I felt like my ribs had been extracted. My pulses and rhythms still functioned, but my supports and protection were gone. My mother had just died. My kids were asserting themselves in creative and dumbfounding ways, following their natural call to become “agents unto themselves.” My husband was reorganizing his heart and soul, doing important internal work, but I had no idea where I’d end up when his “remodeling” was over. My soul felt like it was, to quote Yeats, “turning and turning in a widening gyre.” Continue reading
Like most of you, I’m guessing, I haven’t always understood or relished the law of the fast. On Fast Sundays as a young girl I hated that hollow, gnawing feeling in my stomach and I passed the time in Sunday school fantasizing about my favorite treats—custard tarts, vanilla slices, lamingtons—always resolving to buy two of each at school the next day. After church, while waiting in the car for my parents to finish talking and drive us home, I’d lie on the backseat, moaning, my fingers pressed against my protruding ribs, absolutely certain that once we got home I’d be too weak to walk into the house and I would be left to starve to death in the car. One Fast Sunday I found my brother, Todd, outside in the backyard, standing underneath our mulberry tree, his lips stained with berry juice. Mulberries aren’t particularly tasty, but they are a food source for starving children, as Todd—who was normally a fruit hater—discovered, and soon we were all asking to go outside and play on Fast Sundays. Continue reading
On Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:45 a.m. the eyes and ears of many in the world of children’s literature will be on Dallas. That’s where and when the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) will announce the winner of the 2012 Randolph Caldecott Award. The award, named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, is awarded annually “to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” Continue reading
This morning my children will don their new school clothes and, toting new backpacks stuffed with sharpened pencils and blank notebooks, they’ll head out the door for the first day of school. And, just like that, summer vacation will be over. Like me, you may be wondering where the summer went. I always start summer vacation with lots of plans: this summer I had a tall stack of books I intended to read during lazy afternoons by the pool while my daughter swam with friends, and I planned on catching up on some scrapbooking—an easy project to work on while kids hang out at home, right?—and I wanted to have relaxed evenings at home, playing card games and watching movies and roasting marshmallows and star gazing and reading books in bed while listening to crickets chirp outside. I read exactly one book (although it was a good one—if you haven’t read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, I highly recommend it); I made it as far as printing and cropping some of my photos (one of these days I really will switch to digital scrapbooking); and my husband and I spent most evenings chauffeuring our twelve-year-old and fifteen-year-old to various friends’ houses or hosting numerous teen gatherings. We also spent a lot of time this summer organizing/attending/supervising various youth activities in our ward, since my husband and I both serve in the YM/YW organizations. Somehow June drifted into July and July blurred into August and now summer’s over. Continue reading