Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last Poem

This is the end of National Poetry Month, gentle readers. Hope you enjoyed it. For my final selection, I offer this in hopes that you may all realize your dreams:

My Dream
by Ogden Nash

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nathaniel's Poem

Nathaniel’s Song for Spring (written last April for National Poetry Month)

It’s Spring! It’s Spring! We really like the Spring!
We don’t need coats.
And flowers grow.
It’s Spring! It’s Spring! It’s Spring!

But the bumble bees come out in the Spring
and they make honey
and they go into the bushes ‘cause that’s where they live
They go into tall bushes because that’s where they live
And they make honey
Bzzzzzzzzzz.

It’s spring! It’s spring! It’s spring!!

And I love it!!...(but I also like the winter because I get to play in the snow
and in the summer we’re going to see Grandma and Grandpa Bradshaw in Wyoming!)

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Poem for Benjamin

The Purist
by Ogden Nash


I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles!"
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
"You mean," he said, "a crocodile."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Lanyard

The Lanyard

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room
bouncing from typewriter to piano
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past.
A past where I sat at a workbench
at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard.
A gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard.
Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them.
But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand
again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face cloths on my forehead
then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with a lanyard.
"Here are thousands of meals" she said,
"and here is clothing and a good education."
"And here is your lanyard," I replied,
"which I made with a little help from a counselor."
"Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered.
"And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp."
"And here," I wish to say to her now,
"is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth,
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom
would be enough to make us even."

Billy Collins

the mouths of babes


The conversation in the car yesterday while listening to This American Life on the radio:

Benjamin: Dad, they just said the "B" word.

Todd: Yes, they did. It's not a nice word to say. They are saying that a not nice person called the lady that.

Nathaniel: What's the "b" word?

Benjamin: I can't say it, but I can spell it. b-i-t-c-h

Me: Where did you learn how to spell that?! You can't even spell "word" without sticking an extra "e" on the end!! How do you know how to spell that?!?

Nathaniel: What's the "b" word?

Caleb: I a vampire.

Nathaniel: What's the 'b' word?

Todd: I am trying to listen to the radio!

Nathaniel: What's the "b" word?

Todd: It's b*tch! Okay! The word is b*tch! It means female dog! Don't ever say it to anyone! It's very mean. (Harumph.)

[silence in the car]

Caleb: I a vampire.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Today in the car on the way home from church:

Nathaniel: Did you know that snakes kiss with their tongues?

Me: I don't think snakes actually kiss the way we think of kissing.

Benjamin: French people kiss with their tongues.

Me: Who told you that?!

Benjamin: Drew.

Me: Well, there is a kind of kissing called "french kissing". People stick their tongues in other people's mouths. Does that sound nice?

All three boys: EEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!! GROSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: Good. Just keep thinking it's gross for the next 15 years or so.

Me to Todd: It must be your car. We never have conversations like this in my car.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Anon.

This poem was given to me by the author who wishes to remain unknown. I think it's a wonderful poem.

Skinny-dipping

I saw you see me drop my shorts,
Unloose my shoes and lose my socks--
Both harsh constraints on warm summer days.
You feigned disinterest; turned your head.
I noticed though, you peeked when I
Slipped off my shirt and dropped my boxers.
Your eyes followed as I dove in.

While the water's cold caressed my skin,
Did you (from shore) undress my soul?
Your watchful gaze see past my face,
My arms, two legs, my flesh and bone
To answers and questions I hide away?
Sadly no. You probably said,
"Cute cock. Tanned ass? and What a chest!"

The Broads

http://bookgroupbroads.blogspot.com/

The book club broads have entered the blogosphere. This is day one, so check back for our group and individual picks. (We are just getting started so there's not much there.) Our tastes in books tends to vary wildly, so if you don't like what you see today, you might enjoy tomorrow when somebody else posts what they're reading.

Last night one of the broads mentioned that she was also in a book group at church. She hastened to add that we were still cooler, though, because we have t-shirts.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Poetry

I swear I haven't forgotten. I just haven't posted poems for a few days. Now I'm back. And to make up for the absence of poetry over the last few days, here are some wonderfully silly ones from poet Ogden Nash. Short and um, sweet.


THE CANARY
The song of canaries
Never varies,
And when they're molting
They're pretty revolting.

THE EEL
I don't mind eels
Except as meals.

THE FLY
God in his wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why.

In Memorium

I blogged earlier in the week about the death of a good friend. I found this article which was a nice commemoration of him. Love you, Jim.


Teacher's death 'tough time' for New Smyrna community


DAYTONA BEACH -- His life never moved any direction but forward.


Disanza

James Disanza, 61, of Port Orange -- a popular New Smyrna Beach Middle School physical education teacher -- died at 12:29 p.m. Saturday, two hours after he was taken off life support. He had been in critical condition with a serious brain injury since his bicycle was hit by a car Monday evening on the Dr. Martin Luther King overpass at Lytle Avenue, said family friend Tom Rosen.

His wife, Carmella, and son Vinnie were by his side, as well as his brother, sister and a niece, Vinnie Disanza said.

"He went straight up and then straight off the cliff," Vinnie Disanza of California said Saturday evening. "He was the perfect example of how to live life, and he's where he's supposed to be right now."

Neighborhood kids knew him as Mr. Jim the bicycle mechanic, his son said.

"He was a very generous person -- generous with his time," Vinnie Disanza said. "He would fix a bike for a kid or help with your plumbing. Anything he could do (for another), he did."

An avid bicycle rider, James Disanza was in perfect health, his son said, and in keeping with his generous nature, an organ donor.

"He did so many things for so many people," Rosen said. "I cannot say enough good things about him. He touched a lot of lives."

Vinnie Disanza said his father was an ideal American citizen: a soldier, a teacher, an Eagle Scout. He also was a power-lifter in college, a black belt in karate, and a certified scuba diver. In short, he did everything he set his mind to do.

"He was a tank commander, a retired lieutenant colonel with the National Guard, and he taught school in New Jersey for 27 years (10 in New Smyrna Beach)," his son said. "In New Jersey, it was not uncommon for him to drive to school in a military Humvee. He was always prepared."

His son remembers cutting his finger badly while on a hiking trip in upstate New York his senior year in high school.

"No one wanted to stop the trip short, so Dad just pulled out some sutures and stitched me up," Vinnie Disanza said. "That's just the way he was."

Hiking is just one of the interests James Disanza shared with the Scouts in Troop 454 in New Smyrna Beach.

"Last summer he took our older boys on a trip to hike the Appalachian Trail," said Steve Henderson of Port Orange. "They hiked 28 miles in the mountains in five days. He decided the boys needed a different type of experience (than what they could get in Florida, which he referred to as "paradise"), and took them."

Henderson said his friend of five years had a knack for "making things happen."

The thing James Disanza made happen most was helping children he knew become successful themselves.

"He wanted these kids to take responsibility for their actions and to act for themselves," Henderson said. "And, he would give them a lot of opportunity to make their own plans."

It was that way at school, too.

"I cannot believe the number of e-mails I've gotten from students at New Smyrna Beach High School, parents, parents of elementary school children whose older brothers or sisters had Jim and who were looking forward to having him, too," New Smyrna Beach Middle School Principal Jim Tager said. "He was a fabulous, caring person who did all sorts of things behind the scenes."

The benefit of a close-knit school like New Smyrna Beach Middle School can also be its hardship, Tager said.

"This is really a tough time for us," the principal said. "Our faculty and staff are like family, and when something like this happens it is very hard."

Tager will tell the students of their beloved teacher's death Monday.

"We've told the kids his condition wasn't very hopeful," Tager said. "It will be very emotional."

According to police, Disanza was riding west on the overpass with co-workers about 6:20 p.m. Monday when he switched lanes for an unknown reason, possibly not seeing the car behind him.

"At the time, he was teaching them drafting (one rider blocking the wind for another) and proper shifting," Vinnie Disanza said. "He was always sharing his knowledge with other people, and Dad was great to draft because he was so huge. The accident was a combination of his poor hearing because of all the tanks and combat, and because of the steep hill. I'm sure he looked and didn't see the car until it crested."

==================================================================

On a side note, I was one of the people who was on that backpacking trip in upstate NY when Jim pulled out the needle and thread to do Vinny's finger. It was a wonderful trip. Many of my favorite memories come from that trip. And apparently, some of Jim's did also.

Here is the conversation that Jim and I had last summer as he told me about that Appalachian back packing trip he took some boys on last year.

Jim: So I'm scout leader down here in FL, and my boys had never gone on a backpacking trip. To get them interested in the idea, I told them all about you.
Me: Why me?
Jim: Well, I used the example of the backpacking trip that you and my son organized for the Adirondacks in the summer of '93.
Me: (hesitantly) What exactly did you tell them?
Jim: I just told them about the girl who backpacked for a few hours and when she came to a beautiful dam in the river, took one look at it and said, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going swimming right now." And proceeded to throw down her backpack and strip down to her underwear and jump in.
Me: Jim!!! You've known me my whole life...and this is the story you tell people about me?
Jim: Well, it did the trick. They were a lot more interested in learning about backpacking after that!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Geeky/Cool

This all stemmed from a conversation early on in the book group I began with some women in my neighborhood. We joked (as I'm sure many book clubs do) that "what happens at book club stays at book club". I should also mention that at some point, we started referring to ourselves as "The Book Group Broads". (How fabulous are we?! We even have a name. Okay, slightly silly might be putting it more accurately. But we have been amused by it all the same.)

Like most clubs, it was also decided that we needed T-shirts. Someone joked that we should get t-shirts like the Fight Club T-shirts. (You know, with the little pink bar of soap and the fight club rules on the back? rule number one: you don't talk about fight club. rule number two: you don't talk about fight club.) It turns out our idea wasn't so original, because check out what I just ordered for me an' the broads:

Cursive Confessions

I will freely admit that penmanship has never been my best subject. My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Ciesla, patiently despaired of my handwriting. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Suchar, nearly wore herself out telling me to "turn the paper a bit more and anchor it with your other hand."

All I can say is: Viva la keyboard!!

Benjamin's teacher asked him on the first day of school to share why he was excited about 2nd grade. "I am most excited about learning to write in cursive," was his reply.

The other day he asked me how to make a capital cursive "I". I picked up my pen and drew an...s. I scribbled it out and tried again. Only to come up with another s. By the sixth time I had it. But I realized that I have forgotten, through lack of use since I started using my cursive/printing hybrid handwriting, how to write capital cursive "I" and "Q".

You don't suppose there's any hidden meaning there, do you?

Monday, April 21, 2008

"I sigh"

A DRINKING SONG
W.B. Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Haze

A good friend of our family was in a horrible accident early last week and passed away on Saturday. It was all so very unexpected. He was strong and healthy and so close to retirement. I realized that I can't remember much of last week. I sort of went through the time in a haze, unable to really process what was going on around me. It was one of those, "But I just talked to him last week. I was about to send him pictures of my race since he asked me to. We were going to visit this fall."

One thing I learned that I don't think I would have agreed with before last week is that I prefer awful news via text message. That seems cold and impersonal, doesn't it? But receiving all news this way made it so I could have my little break down, process my thoughts and emotions, and THEN call to get full details without my crying becoming a major part of the conversation. After all my grief is real, but I am hardly the main character in such a situation.

A strange lesson to glean from such tragedy. It went hand in hand with the reminder we each get from sudden death: Life is precious and fleeting and should not be wasted.

I think I'm still in a bit of a haze. My apologies if I stared blankly at any of you this week. Or was grouchy. I was definitely grouchy with my seminary students....but they're surly and sitting in my living room at 6 a.m., so I tend to be grouchy at them anyway.

Life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Holding wonder like a cup...

Barter
by Sarah Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder like a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mr. Sillypants

"Child Development" by Billy Collins
As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
And sauntered off the beaches into forests
Working up some irregular verbs for their
First conversation, so three-year-old children
Enter the phase of name-calling.
Every day a new one arrives and is added
To the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
In a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
To devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.
They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
Or going after the attention of the giants
Way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
Talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
Waiting to call them names after thanking
Them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.
The mature save their hothead invective
For things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
Or receding trains missed by seconds,
Though they know in their adult hearts,
Even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
For his appalling behavior,
That their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
Their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
And that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A couple of items

I love this!! Read it, folks, and pass it on. http://thegabblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/just-for-record.html

And for today's poem (which is kind of tomorrow's poem since it's after midnight) wander on over to friend Linnea's blog for some fun poetry and then post some of your own inbox poetry. Good times.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Who?

I wanted to introduce you all to my new crushes.

I am presently addicted to the latest Doctor Who series. I blame everyone who ever recommended it to me. But these addictions yield greater amounts of laundry folding, so they're not all bad. (I feel guilty watching TV, when there's so much to do. So, I always fold laundry while watching. Movies are sometimes exempted from this rule.) As a result, I have two new crushes. Christopher Eccleston played the Doctor in the first season. He totally captured the deep and lonely responsibility thing while still being disarmingly silly.



I confess much bitterness when he left the show and was replaced by David Tennant. I don't get searing loneliness from David, but he gets the silly, compassionate, and curious part right. And you have to like a guy with the sense of humor to wear this shirt:


Most Days I Totally Relate to This:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today's poem

Mother to Son

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes

This was sent to me by my dear friend and fellow boy Mom, Anne Marie. Thank you for sharing, my dear!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Something to offend everyone

"My God" - Susan Rolston

Protestants pray for grace,
Scientists look to space.
Jews find truth in the Torah,
New Agers, in each other’s aura.

Catholics are blessed by a Pope,
Yaquis enlightened by dope.
Maoris use ritual chants,
Navahoes get up and dance.

Muslims bow daily to Allah,
Norsemen aspire to Valhalla.
Feminists swear by a She,
Quakers swear not, silently.

Confucians kowtow to ancestors,
Hare Krishnas, to airport investors.
Hindus revere Lord Brahma,
Richard Gere, the Dalai Lama.

Baptists believe in the Ark,
Physicists, in the quark.
Moonies obey Reverend Sun,
Mormons say Brigham’s the one.

Daoists extol yang and yin,
Sufis transcend in a spin.
Shintos seek peace where it’s grassy,
Rastas, in Haile Selassie.

When we meet in the Afterlife,
We can laugh at sectarian strife.
But meanwhile back to the wars,
‘Cause my God’s better than yours.

Monday, April 14, 2008

IRS

Internal Revenue -J. Allyn Rosser

I have distracted rodents from their cheese,
Lured seasoned sirens with my melodies,
And brought some handsome statues to their knees.
I could not beguile you.

Having faced your shoulder, back and heel,
Borne the tread marks of your fortune’s wheel,
Felt your indifference to what I feel,
My heart would not revile you.

Now I’ve shelved abiding passions, thrust
My childish cares aside, arranged my lusts:
Real property, silent partners, trusts.
-I don’t know where to file you.


I love this poem. I post it every year around tax time, but really it's so very relevant. I think it applies to at least one person in our lives. That person or people with whom things are unfinished or unrequited or just couldn't ever end satisfactorily. Where do you put all those leftover feelings that no longer have an obvious place in your life?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

An Extra Poem to make up for Friday's miss

"Faith is a fine invention"
By Emily Dickinson

"Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

Staying positive

My house
Burnt down
I own
A better view
Of the rising moon

-Basho

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"Racing"

"Racing"- by Benjamin Smith for his Mom on race day

Racing is a real cool sport.
Fun and dangerous, too.
You made it through the tough terrain
and that's why I love you.

Check!

So today I earned a check mark for my list of things to do before I die.

"Train for and complete an organized race."

CHECK!!!!

Today was the half marathon. I did it with my friends Beth and Trish who I would just like to say were fabulous buddies to be with. Here we are this morning before the race:

This was before we got all tired and sweaty and gross. Just after posing for this picture, we piled in the car and headed downtown where we parked illegally in the very full parking lot (thank you for the parking chutzpa, Trish!) and headed to the start line.

I have to say that being packed in at the starting line is a lot of fun. There's just so much energy and anticipation there. People were cheering, music was blaring, the guy who yells "Go" was blathering in the background. It was exciting to be there. Although, it's a little anti-climactic when the guy finally does yell "Go" and you are stuck behind so many people that it takes three minutes just to cross the starting line. Speaking of which:


We walked fast enough that miles 8 through 10 completely sucked. And fast enough that even though we started last, we weren't last to finish. Our main goal was to get through it all before they closed down the track exactly 4 hours from the start time.

We made it well before the track closed, so we needn't have worried. At mile 10, after two miles of hating it and slowing down a little, Trish pulled out her iPod that her hubby had gotten for her and totally got in the zone with a little Aerosmith to move her along. She booked those last three miles! Beth and I had to run a few different times just to catch up with her! (You ROCK, Trish!)
The worst part of the half marathon was that stinkin' "point 1 mile". Couldn't we just make it an even 13? The .1 just seemed cruel.

The best part was crossing the finish line to cheers and free stuff. (Hobbling back to the parking lot was hard, though.)

When I came home, I had my own adoring fans to greet and cheer me. Todd had made an AMAZING chocolate cake, and there were flowers on the table with a poem that Benjamin wrote for me called (appropriately) "Racing". I will make that a separate post for NPM.

I'm weary tonight, but I DID IT!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sunshiny Day

The weather has been wonderful this week! The sun has reappeared from it's long winter hiatus. Happy days! As a result, the entire population has been spending as much time outside as we can squeeze in before the rain (which is coming tomorrow). As a result we're all wandering around a little sunburned, because in our pleasure at basking in it we have forgotten that the sun comes with danger, too. We are pink, but wear big, goofy grins of wonderment and happiness at simply being in the light again.

The First Book

"The First Book" by Rita Dove

Open it.

Go ahead, it won't bite.
Well...maybe a little.

More a nip, like. A tingle.
It's pleasurable, really.

You see, it keeps on opening.
You may fall in.

Sure, it's hard to get started;
remember learning to use

knife and fork? Dig in:
You'll never reach the bottom.

It's not like it's the end of the world
just the world as you think

you know it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Warning

Warning - When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Short and Sweet

"Jamesian"
by Thom Gunn

Their relationship consisted
In discussing if it existed.

Tagged

My sister in law, Jen, tagged me. It's getting harder to think of things that people don't already know about me, but here goes:

10 Years Ago:

That would have been 1998. I dated 4 or 5 guys, sometimes at the same time. Kissed a few more. Broke a few hearts. Did my student teaching. Got my first real job in my field of study. Drove from UT to NJ twice. Graduated College. Got engaged. Planned a wedding. Got married. Had a reception, and went on my honeymoon. Ugh. I'm tired just remembering all of that. What a year!

5 Things On my To Do List Today:

1. Book hotel rooms for my upcoming trip.
2. Call Dee to ask if she can watch Benjamin for a few minutes after school while I am the parent helper in Nathaniel's class.
3. Clean off the kitchen island.
4. Finish planting all my seeds.
5. Go to the gym. Today is upper body weight lifting.

If I Had a Billion Dollars:

-"I'd buy some art: a Picasso or a Garfunkel"
-I would pay off my mortgage and the respective mortgages of our parents and siblings.
-I would build a completely self contained house. Geothermal heat, cisterns, solar panels, maybe even composting toilets...if I could find someone to deal with emptying the holding tank.
-I WOULD GET A CLEANING LADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Todd could quit his job and be just as wildly creative or adorably geeky as he wanted to be, but I would make him learn how to do yard work, so he might prefer to keep working.
-Put money away so my kids and their cousins can go to college.
-Travel and eat wherever I want.

Okay, that was a fun little 5 minutes of fantasy.

5 Jobs I've Had:
1. Waitress/Bartender
2. Tumbling Teacher
3. Companion (like a nanny, not a call girl)
4. Music Teacher (Voice, Piano, and Violin)
5. Prep kitchen cook

5 Places I Have Lived:
1. NJ
2. PA
3. WY
4. UT
5. OH

5 Things People May Not Know About Me:
1. I get easily obsessed with things. Once I get interested, I learn EVERYTHING there is to know. And then I stop.
2. I have a secret passion for shoes. It is thwarted by the fact that I have absurdly large feet and am generally too cheap to spend money.
3. I write stories. I've finished two book length stories. (They remain unedited. Todd is my editor because he's insanely good at it, but I won't let him critique me unless he's naked. I figure it makes us more equal: I bare my creative soul, he bares his body. He complained that it was too cold in our house this winter for editing. The weather's warming up, though...)
4. We are trying to adopt a teenager. Because who doesn't want to pay for college ten years before they would otherwise have to? ;)
5. Much to the chagrin of my parents, I am a registered Democrat.

I tag anyone who feels like doing it, but let me know, because it would be fun to see your answers!

Monday, April 7, 2008

When you're feeling a little too lucky...

Shopping for One- Neal Bowers

Waving at everyone who honked,
thinking how uncommonly friendly
complete strangers had become,
she found her sack of groceries
atop the car when she got home,
potato chips and cookies blessed
with a balance she couldn’t explain
except to say the ice cream
and cans of frosting on the bottom
held fast at each turning
to counteract her absent-mindedness.

Not wanting this token of luck
after all the times luck had failed her,
she smashed a jar of olives in the street,
splattering the air with sourness
and freeing the random green wobble
that made the world seem right again.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Best Post-Break-Up Poem Ever!

"Heart, we will forget him"
a poem by Emily Dickinson


Heart, we will forget him,
You and I, tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done pray tell me,
Then I, my thoughts, will dim.
Haste! ‘lest while you’re lagging
I may remember him!

Crazy Hair Day

Benjamin announced that for crazy hair day he wanted to cut off his hair and dye what was left of it blue. My response was, "Um, okay." So we went from this:



To this:

And while we tried the blue dye twice, it just wouldn't take. (Don't you hate it when your hair is too healthy to dye?) So we settled for red gel. And got this:

Friday, April 4, 2008

This Is Just To Say....

About 6 years ago, Todd was riding the subway to work and saw this poem on the wall. He wrote it down, and brought it home to me. I loved it and this led to checking out other poems by William Carlos Williams through trips to the North Plainfield library. It was just a few weeks after our "discovery" of this poem and its author that we listened to A Prairie Home Companion on WNYC one Saturday evening. (Check out our nightlife!) It turned out to be my most favorite show ever because my favorite poet Billy Collins was the guest star! He read quite a few poems in his wonderful understated way and then he performed that night's episode of Guy Noir, Private Eye. The entire episode took this poem by William Carlos Williams and turned it on it's ear. If you have a few minutes, you should listen. It's very funny.


This Is Just To Say


I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

-- William Carlos Williams

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Poem du jour

"flock"

It has been calculated that
each copy of the Gutenburg Bible
required the skins of 300 sheep.

I can see them
squeezed into the holding pen
behind the stone building
where the printing press is housed.

All of them squirming around
to find a little room
and looking so much alike
it would be nearly impossible to count them.

And there is no telling which one of them
will carry the news
that the Lord is a Shepherd,
one of the few things
they already know.

- billy collins

Billy Collins was U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 through 2003.
He's been the New York State Poet Laureate since January 2004.

(And one of my very favorites!! You will see lots of Billy Collins this month because his poems make me smile.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jelly Donuts

WHY? James Stevenson

Why is it...
While other people
Are thinking about all kinds of
Important things...
I am thinking about
What it would be like
To jump barefoot
Into an open box
Of jelly doughnuts?

We actually decided to put this to the test last year after reading the poem. I bought a big box of day old Jelly donuts for us to jump into. Good times at Family Home Evening. I look awful in the video (remember that post about being un-photogenic?) but other than that it's fun!


video

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm Pregnant! (otherwise known as the Smith family April Fool's Day letter)

April 2008

It has been an eventful year in the Smith household. Todd discovered the perfect balance among work/home/personal/church life. Emilia realized that she doesn't have to volunteer on every committee she's invited to join. Benjamin realized that he LOVES doing homework. Nathaniel and Caleb sadly discovered that they just hate preschool. They can't stand it and refuse to go!

April Fools Day!!!!!

That's right, boys and girls, it's April 1st and you may have noticed that there is no Smith Family April Fool's Day letter in your mailbox this year. Thanks to ever increasing postage, we have gone mostly digital. (Yes, we are cheap!)

Okay, so nothing in that first bit is true. Well, except maybe Todd getting the balance almost right. He's discovered a passion for arranging shape note music and early American hymns for our church choir (which he conducts), small ensembles and solos. Emilia stares in wonder and pride and amazement at his long-hidden abilities. Todd is also serving as secretary in the Stake Young Men Presidency, so he's back at Stake youth dances once again. Apparently, there are some things that you can't get away from.

Emilia is in her second and final year of teaching early morning seminary. She is less tired than last year and has thoroughly enjoyed the chance to really dig in to the study of the Old Testament. And while next year she will miss seeing her students daily, she will NOT miss waking up before the sun. When not too groggy to function, Emilia spends her time reading or training for a half marathon coming up in two weeks. She is also very excited to attend her 10 year college reunion in May. She has enjoyed the relative freedom of having older boys, and managed to sneak in a trip by herself to NJ to play with college friends, a trip to San Francisco to play with some high school friends (where Todd also joined her), as well as numerous road trips with the boys in tow. The boys enjoyed their first experience at Yellowstone this past summer and have requested that this year we go to Mt. Rushmore and Devil's Tower.

Our three boys decided to grow their hair long this year. They had a haircut last June right before their Aunt Jenny's wedding. Nathaniel made it until March and then couldn't take it anymore. Caleb's hair was long enough at that time to donate it to Locks for Love and he wouldn't let his parents brush it anymore, so his was chopped off then, too. His hair was thick and blond, so he got lots of "What a cute little girl!" comments. The most heard phrase out of his mouth for awhile was "I NOT a grurl!!" Benjamin's hair is still going strong. He hates to brush it, but loves having it long.

Benjamin turned 8 a few weeks ago and was baptized. Both sets of Grandparents joined us for the event. Benjamin still takes tap dancing lessons and has discovered a love of both art and writing. At a recent conference with his teacher, Emilia learned that Benjamin soaks up every writing lesson they have and can't wait to try out a new technique in his next story. Speaking of stories, Benjamin is an avid reader and many nights his parents must hide whatever book he's currently reading or they will find him at 11pm still with his nose in a book. He also has enjoyed participating in Cub Scouts this year. Benjamin's current favorite hobbies are reading Calvin and Hobbes comics, his Webkinz snake, and playing with Legos.

Nathaniel will begin kindergarten in August and is very excited. He will sorely miss SYC (a.k.a., "the hippie-commie preschool"). Nathaniel and his fellow preschoolers spend a lot of time running around in superhero costumes saving the world. Who wouldn't miss that? Nathaniel is our resident philosopher/comedian. He has the ability to communicate huge ideas with very simple words. Whatever comes out of his mouth is sure to have us either pondering or laughing. Sometimes both.

Caleb LOVES preschool, and in fact on the first day while all the other children were clinging to their parents, Caleb stood in the middle of circle time to play monster, which scared all the other children and let his teachers know what they were up against. After the monster incident, he let Emilia know that she could leave. And he hasn't needed her since. The most exciting news: Caleb is potty trained!!!! He let Todd and Emilia know that they could do all they wanted but no amount of bribery was going to convince him to go potty until he was good and ready. (After 9 solid years of changing diapers, Todd and Emilia were offering him plenty of bribes.) But as of a few weeks ago, it became official! No more diapers!! Caleb continues to act in the role of "Mother's curse" upon Emilia. He is like her in nearly every way.

We had some additional members of our household this year. Elysa (Emilia's sister) came to live with us for a few months and when she left, Andrew (Todd's brother) came to live with us. We really enjoyed having them in our home and were sad when they returned back to their own respective lives. The boys especially loved having an Aunt and Uncle around to spoil and tease them. The room is now open for anyone who is looking for a place to live... or just a place to stay when you visit. For those of you in NJ who never leave, Ohio is just on the other side of Pennsylvania. For everyone else, we're right off I-70 and would love to have you visit when passing by.

We hope this email finds you all happy and healthy and doing well. We always love to hear from you and are really grateful for all of the wonderful ways to stay in touch. Todd and Emilia even broke down last year and got cell phones. The general population was horrified that Emilia would consider driving with 3 kids across the country and not have a cell phone. So, she chatted her way across middle America and now would not trade her cell phone for all the Jell-o in Utah county.

We love and miss you!

The Smith Family
Todd, Emilia, Benjamin, Nathaniel, Caleb

Edible dogs

The weather was warm and almost sunny yesterday, so last night while Todd and Benjamin attended a cub scout meeting, the younger boys and I played on the playground.

While Caleb and I were on the see-saw type thing, a man walked by with a dog. I told Caleb that the dog was called a chocolate lab because of its brown coat. We talked a little more about the dog and then went back to playing.

A few minutes later a woman walked by with a little white dog. "Look, Mom!" he said. "There's a lady with a Cream Cheese dog!"

Cuteness.

Dust if You Must

Dust If You Must

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

-Anon.