Growing pains

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I spent some time today looking at my baby. I don’t know how, but sometime in the last few weeks, he decided to grow. I see his chubby legs and pot belly. A healthy double chin is developing. And his cheeks! Oh, those cheeks! A little dimple on his right cheek is noticeable with his smile. He is such a smiley, content baby. And he is growing. At nearly six months he is getting better at sitting up. This makes him look even bigger. Combine this with jeans and a pair of moccasins from Happyandthehectic and we’ve got ourselves a bona fide little man!

I can say the same of my other two children. Only their baby cheeks are slowly disappearing. No more dimpled hands. Less and less chub on the cheek. More muscle definition. Bigger shoes. Longer legs. Growing pains.
Little bodies doing their thing. Growing. Learning. Changing.

When my five year old clip-clops down the hall in my strappy high heels and sun dress wadded up under her arm pits, she smiles at me and says, “Will you save these for me for when I’m a teenager?”

All I can think is, “Will you save a little piece of your five year old self for me when you’re a teenager?”

Growing pains. I wonder is it as uncomfortable for them as it is for me? My anecdote today was kissing on luscious baby cheeks and squishy thighs. But soon those will be gone and there will be other new and exciting things to find joy in. And those growing pains? I doubt they’ll ever go away.

Esperanza Pie

Esperanza. Say it: [es-pay-rahn’-zah]. Feel it. Hope.

I am learning to have hope in all things good. Today was a lesson in hope. A lesson in goodness. A lesson in love and friendship. A day about worthy investments and doing things that matter with the people that matter.

Today I stepped into a space where hope blanketed my soul with her sweet aroma of peace and comfort. Baked at 400 degrees for 50 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Sweet Esperanza Peach Pie!

And I know it wasn’t about the pie. But the symbolism of coming together and creating something meaningful and good. Full of hope and friendship. I am filled. Thank you, my dear friend Cathy!  IMG_8232[1] IMG_8233[1]

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In your space

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If there is one thing I love about my iphone, it is the handy little camera that can take a pretty decent picture. I am actually considering selling my Sony NEX-5N! Add that to Instagram and I have been a happy girl. Follow me on Instagram @sycamoregirl.

These three pictures have something in common: Personal space.

Do you Instagram, too? leave your user name in the comments!

Who, me?

A few months ago, a long lost friend and roommate of mine over at Destination Domestication was super kind and passed along the Liester Award to my blog. I enjoy Destination Domestication because first of all, she is very funny. A SAHM of 3 children and one on the way, this Mom says it like it is in her world. If I could be a fly on the wall in her home! Plus, she’s got a lot of great ideas for parties, (which she does amazingly!) decoration, DIY projects and of course, great insight into the craziness of Motherhood. You do it with finesse, Kylie! Thank you!

As for me, it seems my typing hand and my writing hand have been disconnected as of late. That means, I’ve been writing, but nothing that I feel like I want to share just yet. Anyway, I’m honored that a fellow blogger would notice me and give me that shout out, even if I have been somewhat silent around here.

So now on to the rules of this virtual Chain Letter/Pay it Forward Award:

If you receive the award, you should:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you. 

2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. 

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

 4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favorite bloggers and keep it going!

And now, drum roll please, I award the Leibster Award to the following blogs of note (in no particular order):

1) Hilary Flemming:  Adventures in Life, food and fitness. A blog I visit regularly- or as often as she updates, Hillary always posts witty stories, amazing health conscious recipes, which I LOVE, and cute photos of her growing family. And of course, she’s beautiful, so whats not to love?

2) Bryanna I know it probably sounds silly to list a Private Blog here, because you probably wont be able to read what she has to say. But I think she needs this little award. She can still play. :) Bryanna writes obsessively (we’re talking like everyday- or at least it seems like that) about her hilarious boys who have silly habits, her love of running and difficulties harnessing the perfect sleeping habits. Mostly, Bryanna writes about her love of exercise, her love of her family and of course, her undying Faith in God. I just love every word she has to say. Who knows, maybe one day she’ll open her blog to the public so everyone can enjoy…(hint hint!)

3) Run Lucas Run Bright clean photos. Simple words. Poetic messages. Lovely Lindsay nails it.

4) And So… Sarah M. Wells, poet, published author and mother and obsessive Tweeter! (I’m sure much, much more!) Wonderful writing. Thought provoking stories and funny takes. I’ve loved exploring her blog! Go buy her book and read her essays!

5) Adriana Paramo This woman blows my mind. Could this be me in 20 years? It is highly possible. We connected so well in real life, and even through the virtual vastness, it is writing that keeps us connected.  An accomplished writer and exquisite woman and mother, Adriana paints pictures in your mind that are unthinkable. I am SO looking forward the release of her new book, Looking for Esperanza.

And one more for good measure-

6) Notice Your World Charles Pulsipher, also a published author shares his true and hilarious stories, complete with homemade pictures. Everything is better when its homemade, right? Read Notice Your World for tips on writing, self publishing and tactics for breaking through tough writers block. For an excellent laugh, check out this story. And then keep reading.

 

So there you have it folks. Read on!

The Invisible Woman

I have got to get something through my head. My hard, thick skull. It seems some times it is impenetrable. Listen carefully, Holly:

It is not about you.

Why is that so hard to internalize and practice?

I read this article just now called The Invisible Woman. I am blown away when I think of the many women and mothers I know who truly are “invisible women” and take honor in that. Wow. I see you. And I thank you for your example.

 

ABC’s

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A good friend of mine recently asked me what I have done to teach my four year old the alphabet.  And really, I cannot think of one thing I have done that worked over the others. Honestly, we used to watch a lot of Super Why and I think that did teach her more than I realized, but I didn’t want a TV show to do the ALL of the teaching… ;) We sang the alphabet song a lot. I have an old alphabet banner hanging in her closet door. (Compliments of Grandma who is a 1st grade teacher.) But the one website I frequent the most for helps in my preschool endeavors is No Time for Flashcards dot com. Another good friend directed me there last summer. It is hands down the most complete and well rounded resource for me to draw from. You can search by topic. By age. By whatever- and if you have the gumption and time, you can make a lot of these activities turn out fabulous. All last winter for our preschool time I would let my daughter choose which letter she wanted to learn about and then do an activity based around that letter as found on that website. It was easy. It didn’t take too much time. (Because we all know how long is a toddler’s attention span is!) And it was effective! I found that the activities were more effective when I let her take the lead. I was just there to facilitate and pour the glue. (When she lets me!)

Anyway, this week a post showed up on No Time for Flashcards that was a perfect answer to my friend’s question: How do you teach the letters? Well? I’d say one at a time, and through simple activities that involve play and independent thinking. And lastly, I’d tell anyone asking the same question that it is okay to take it slow. Nobody has set a solid deadline for a kid to learn their ABC’s. It’ll come, so patience is key and providing opportunity for learning is also key.

Check out the website and I hope you love it like I do!

If you cannot find something on this post about teaching the alphabet, then you’re just crazy! :) 

Have fun!

PS: who else is singing the alphabet song now?!

Reading Too Much. Writing Not Enough.

On WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page, I read this blog post (featured by WordPress. How nice of them, no?) There are some great books listed there that I am interested in reading. But not until I finish the books that are currently on my nightstand and other convenient places throughout my apartment.

In no particular order or preference, here are the books I’m reading:

  • Eats, Shoot & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss
  • A Double Life, Discovering Motherhood by Lisa Catherine Harper (Winner of River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize)
  • Old Friend from Far Away, The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
  • Writing Down the bones, Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (although I have not opened it in a few months…)
  • Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (I only have a few more chapters of this one…I got distracted by Natalie Goldberg!)
  • The Memoir Project, A thoroughly Non-standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith
  • River Teeth, Stories and Writings by David James Duncan
  • The Second Comforter, Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil by Denver C. Snuffer, Jr.
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I’m reading the Little House on the Prairie series aloud to my daughter.)

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There are so many good books and just not enough time to get through them fast enough! But remember a previous post of mine about doing one thing at a time? Reading books should definitely fall under that – and it does. But I just cannot help myself! Sometimes I feel like something light, and other times I am crave instruction and mentoring. I create a menu that includes everything from gourmet to fast food material and as each mood calls, that need can be met. Its brilliant really, although my husband would beg to differ. The library fines add up and the books clutter the house.

Does anyone know of a good book that will teach me how to speed read? That is the answer!

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In case you didn’t click on the link above taking you to River Teeth Literary Journal, (there it is again) I’ll share a little bit about that here. This Literary Journal publishes the best of the best nonfiction work in the country. Authors and novice writers like myself will be gathering for a conference in May. A writing conference. Did you hear that? I am so lucky to be attending this prestigious writing conference! I hope to rub shoulders with a few published authors and learn how to better apply myself to the craft of writing. I will be able to go over a manuscript with a professional and get some feedback on my projects. I am both excited and nervous about that…

I attended a writing workshop in Park City when I was 16 called Writers @ Work. It is in its 27th year. Dear old Mr. Daugherty, my Jr. English teacher, submitted my application and with the help of a scholarship (and my dad) I went for a weekend and received writing coaching from poets like David Lee and other fiction and nonfiction authors whom I cannot remember. It was a while ago and I am certainly in need of a mini writing boot camp. I will be going to OH for this conference with my mother. It should be a fun time, and a trying time as I am forced to dive headlong into a project that has been eating at me for years.

I’ll keep you posted on that. Wish me luck on all the pages I’ve got to read and more so for all the the thousand’s of words I will be writing.

When Old is old

I’m not sure exactly what I mean when I say “Old is old.” But it seems fitting when I think about my dear grandmother who recently passed away. She had just celebrated her 97th birthday a few months earlier and in February of this year, her body was just done.

I wonder how tired she must have been. Not just physically, but in her whole being, knowing that her last day was imminent. Did she wake each morning with astonishment? Did she appreciate her time up until the very last second?  During those last few months, though living with her daughter, Grandma was mobile and quick of mind. Her hearing was pretty much shot, so the visits we had were her just taking in her surroundings and doing her best to be pleasant, even though she had no idea what we were all talking about. I’m sure it must have been very frustrating for her.

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Grandma with her son Steve. Notice the busy-ness of the room around her. I imagine this image captures what she lived in for quite some time.

I had a nagging feeling for months before her passing that I should write her a letter- an authentic letter that was just me really talking to her with no expectation of reply. I wanted her to know me on a deeper level than just what I was up to in my life or how the weather was in my part of town. When I wrote that letter, I felt connected to her. Her life experience, though I am only aware of bits and pieces of it, (like the time she and her sister Clea kept messing up the pastry recipe and ended up making 10 pies instead of just two), speaks volumes when she herself does not. Grandma was the most quiet woman I knew. I have only ever heard her speak up in a group setting at my little brother’s baptism. And even then, she did not get up in front of everyone, she sat directly in front of him and spoke just to him. The picture below reminded me of that. Very touching.

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Grandma with her son, Gary.

I sent that letter with peace, knowing that I had truly opened my heart to her. I shared deep feelings, fears and secret stories that only she and I know. I wanted her to know I still believed in her. I appreciated her and our special relationship. I told her that I still counted steps like her. (Four on her front porch. Seven on mine.)  I reminded her that “a sigh is from the heart” as she always said.

Her quiet presence actually helped me notice her. I have fond memories of sitting with her at her pink kitchen table painting her nails. I would buy her outrageously loud red nail polish, which she’d refuse to accept. She did let me paint her nails a bright neon pink on one occasion, but when I returned a few days later, she had taken it off. How nice it was for her to humor me and share fun time with me! She let me paint her nails one last time on her last birthday.

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Aunt Vera also joined in the fun!

When I was in high school, her home was a safe place. Staying at grandmas house was a delight for me to escape my own home for a while. Her big beautiful Victorian home sits on a large plot on the corner a few blocks from the high school. Lilacs and peonies dot her yard. It is one of a few original homes of the Kamas Valley that are still standing. (The house she grew up in is just a few blocks west!)

Like most people who have lived a long time, Grandma resisted change. Each day, her breakfast consisted of a fried egg and toast. Day in and day out- an egg fried up in her little black cast iron pan on that ancient electric GE stove. When you do something so frequently, it just becomes second nature. A fried egg will always remind me of Grandma. And I find myself frying one up just in honor of her.  Of course they always tasted so much better when she fried it. Add to the egg a slice of her famous white bread (whose recipe has unfortunately has died with her) with a dollop of strawberry freezer jam and a piping hot cup of *Postum (brewed with milk, not water) and my life could not get any better! (By the way, how tragic that Postum has been discontinued!)

There are many little things that will always remind me of Grandma. Her small frame lives on in me. My hands move as hers did. My feet are her feet. My children and I will continue sit around her pink table.  What an honor it was to be able to share space with her for as long as I did.  But truth be told, that old is old and she must move on. I pray there are happy friends and family to greet her on the other side and plenty of lilacs to brighten her spirit.

Lorna Carpenter Butler, 1915-2012

Peace to you Grandma. Until we meet again. Maybe you’ll have a reply to my letter then.