Saturday, May 31, 2008

Books for Sale

Collin has just started writing stories and books. Here's one of his Star Wars stories from school. His current project at home is an adventure tale, Captain Tighty Whitey, yes, we've been reading Captain Underpants. Collin loves them, obviously, and is intent on mimicing the humor, drawing and writing in his own book. *yea* He has enjoyed reading this year though I sometimes worry because it is not something he chooses to do during an afternoon at home.

Today he bent to the task of writing after we'd returned from the store. I think he got more thinking and talking about ideas done though than actual writing, but it's a start; he's joining the club.

As I was putting away groceries he asked me about a sentence he was considering. Something about a sign on the character's house or school that would read "But, school is out." Collin wanted to know if he needed an exclamation point. I said sure, he's probably excited that school's out, but Collin didn't mean at the end of the sentence. He meant after the word but. I quickly told him a comma would work there and pantomined the comma shape. Understanding dawned on him as he said "oh yea, the backwards C one." Ah, the comma...

Even better to me was Collin's vision of what he would do with his books once he finished them. He plans to sell them, just so you know, at a stand he wants to build with Rick and position in our driveway. You can imagine how much traffic we get our here in the sticks, but he assured me that the word would get around and that if his buddies thought the books were good then people would come to our house to buy them.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Disney therapy

I need some Disney therapy. There is some kind of magic there honestly. Smiles, laughter, immaculate grounds, heart-pumping rides and rousing parades. Once when my cousin, Mary Catherine, was visiting from out of town we got to volunteer in a Disney parade. We were "extras" in Animal Kingdom's parade. We got to ride on a float, wave, sing and wear costumes: pith helmets and decorated safari vests. It ranks as therapy let me tell you. Kids and adults waved, smiled and cheered for us the entire parade route. It probably helped that Rafiki road on our float, but still the feeling was incredbile. I smiled so much my face hurt when we finished. I'm thinking that after this week at work, a little Disney therapy might just do the trick.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Making Magic

Could a child look happier? Definitely happy, Dylan celebrated his upcoming 7th birthday at Chef Mickey's with us. My friend Kristin and I planned this weekend to be a healing and happy time for her family making memories as a threesome. We spent Saturday afternoon at the Magic Kingdom and rounded out the day with dinner. Rick even arranged to surprise Dylan with a birthday cake! When we got home we played around with Audacity and our pictures. Dylan loved recording silly things and making funny voices. He's given me a lot of ideas about using Audacity with kids at school, but that's another story. Here's what the kids had to say and a few pictures from our Disney day:

Friday, May 23, 2008

In the Weeds

Restaurant people have a saying for when you get behind. When you have a crazy amount of tables to serve or the kitchen is backed up or folks are lining up out the door getting antsy, foodies say you're "in the weeds." When I get too busy with work, my personal life feels like it's in the weeds. Rick and I have different schedules and when we don't see each other often, it's easy to take our relationship for granted. This past weekend, he took Saturday off, so we had a rare weekend together. We went to Collin's last soccer game together; we went swimming at one our favorite pools; we had dinner at O'Hana's with friends. We weeded; got back to what's important; reconnected. Isn't marriage that kind of process? I much prefer that kind of weeding, getting back to the important things in a relationship to the kind of weeding I did in my neglected garden yesterday.

I tackled a few of the literal weeds. More than a year ago, Rick and I put down landscaping fabric in our flower beds. We have a few very large beds in our yard and it made sense at the time to minimize maintenance needs by covering the soil with this weed barrier. I don't think I'll ever do that again. I think the weed fabric gave me a false sense of garden-security. Who needs to weed when you have a weed barrier? After a half an hour of frustrated hoeing, I realized that I could pull the weed barrier up. Literally I could pull the rug out from under the weeds and take them with me. So, that's what I did. I ripped it out--well, most of it anyway. Guess what? The weeds, roots and all, came with it. Talk about an effective way to weed. Rip, yank, pull, shred, tear. It was fast and strangely satisfying. Now, I think the ground is happier. That weed fabric must have felt like wearing polyester in the summer heat. It was smothering the dirt.

As I worked in the garden after school yesterday, I realized that to get rid of weeds, you've just got to start pulling--getting your hands dirty by digging in the dirt. Weed fabric might be a temporary fix, but in the long run it seems to cause more problems than it prevents. Can you see the root systems living in that stuff? Nothing replaces maintenance. Nothing replaces time spent on a task or in a relationship. There are no silver bullets when you're in the weeds.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pink Stone Days

Pink Stone Days sparkle. Like crystalline moments, they are the sparkle of memory and dinner table legend. When I was in graduate school, I researched famous writers' diaries/journals. I have a thing for journaling. I loved how Lewis Carroll marked special days with a white stone: "I mark this day most especially with a white stone." My inner-romantic loved the sentiment. The same romantic that loves to say "I'm taking care of my correspondences" instead of "writing letters" or "answering email." Since then, I've marked my own Pink Stone Days.

I've been searching for a blog title for some time and this morning I thought why not "Pink Stone Days"? Though most days are mere pebbles from the rock pile, I thought I'd keep my Pink Stones in mind by giving my blog the name. Pink Stone Days are rare; exquisite days that make our forever-afters. They resonate beyond good, way beyond ordinary; they are the moments we cherish and wish we made more of when all seems lost.

Wouldn't that be a great gift? Just one Pink Stone Day to tuck away and remember for always? What would yours be?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Car Reads

The Scholastic Warehouse Sale started yesterday. Twice a year (December and May) they mark books down by 50%, sometimes more. I stopped by after school looking for good books for Collin and summer time. I came home with 2 bags of books--quite light bags too. I went under the amount I'd earmarked, so I can always go back. The sale's on all next week. I got a few good ones for Collin, among them Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski: a cute story about 4 fearful hens who end up conquering a wolf. Just had to scan a few pictures here. I love picture book art and this one is no exception. The colors are bright, the hens round and alarmist--it's all too cute.

Collin climbed in the car when I picked him at Mom's house and immediately started reading *love it*. He laughed out loud at Big Chickens and kept saying "Mom, Mom, look at this Chicken--she's like (mouth open wide Ahhhh-screamish sound effect from the back seat)..." I of course could not (and did not) look as I was driving, but Collin has learned to hold things up so that I can see them in the rear view mirror. As long as I make the appropriate sound effects, he's satisfied with my glance. He read books to me all the way home.

After Big Chickens he wanted to know what else I'd gotten, so I passed him If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen. This one is the story of a boy who dreams up the perfect car while riding around in his father's back seat. Wouldn't that be a neat writing activity? Collin loved it. Who wouldn't love a car with a swimming pool and snack bar inside of it? I just loved hearing him read to me, just loved it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I thought I'd make a little art this afternoon. I played with bookmarks/large tags the other day and made this piece. Maybe it's a bookmark. Maybe it's just me art-making myself feel better.

I'd like to make some more library card art--I hit the mother lode of abandoned library check out cards at school and thought I'd start playing with them. Instead I checked email. I organized my art paper supplies, fed the animals, cleaned out the fridge. Played around with music and page layouts. I walked into the kitchen then back to the office, then back to the kitchen, then back to the office. I spied on Collin playing, then went over and smelled his hair. Maybe I'll just go read and have a Popsicle.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In a Moment

It is hard for me to write about the inconsequential moments of our lives when I know that Sara, Katie, Kelly and family are facing the inconceivable. Kelly is bravely documenting their loss and posting them to flickr and her blog. I can understand the safety of the lens or computer or pen--often my own refuge. Janet was right to tell me not to check my email until I put Collin to bed. When I sat crying with the pictures last night, my teacher mind thought: her kids will see her through... as if anyone can really do that in times like these. To see those students circling the house with their banners of love...Students do amazing things in times of crisis as do mothers and sisters. Strong work, Kelly. Thank you for documenting --thank you for teaching us and sharing with us, Sara's friends, and for sharing your strength with so many mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. It is strong, brave work that you are doing.

At some point I will write about Collin's birthday party or post a few pictures. The juxtaposition of these events, Katie planning her daughter's funeral and me planning my son's birthday party. Well, my feelings are nothing compared to Sara's. My feelings are the "what ifs" and the "oh my Gods" and the "unimaginable" that friends or coworkers or even outsiders feel. I keep thinking about what would help.

What would help? Other than donations to the memorial fund, what would help. Cards, comments, notes, thoughts, prayer. Prayer helps. I wish I could do more. I wish I could swoop in and fix things. Take the children to the park and play away their fear. Cook macaroni and cheese from scratch, or warm buttered biscuits or hot strong coffee. I wish I could speed clean, organize closets, clean litter boxes and scrub the grief from the floors, wipe lost wishes from the windows. Anything. I wish I could do more.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Such a Little Boat

’T WAS such a little, little boat
That toddled down the bay!
’T was such a gallant, gallant sea
That beckoned it away!
’T was such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the coast;
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost!

- Emily Dickinson

My thoughts and prayers are with Sara, Katie, Doug, Kelly and family. Kelly's right there are no words to describe losing a child, no words except nightmare. Hard to decorate Collin's birthday cake. Hard to tie curly ribbon on the party favors. Hard to stop my tears as I snuggled him to sleep knowing life could change in an instant.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Once in a Lifetime

Collin is 7 on May 7th-- a once in a lifetime event! We had birthday bagels this morning. As all of the cupcakes, our usual birthday breakfast fare, we're going to feed the first grade. We read Dr. Seuss' Happy Birthday to You. How can it not make you smile? It's become a birthday tradition at our house, like birthday fezzes.

Collin even opened his presents first thing! By first thing, I mean before 6 a.m. as I leave for work pretty early. Collin wanted to open early, so he agreed to get up and wake Rick up too. Fun, fun birthday days.

Sometime, when I see you, remind me to tell you the story of the day he was born. It started after a field trip to Islands of Adventure on April 27th, but don't worry, the story's not too long!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thankful for To Dos

It's that time of year again: the end of the school year. Teachers know what I'm talking about and perhaps parents get a sense of "end-of-the-year" mania too, but boy, nothing compares to the mad rush of the end of the year. The past few weeks have been intense. It's like I'm either competing in the public school triathlon of student achievement or mid-challenge on the island on Survivor. Do you ever get overwhelmed by your to-do list?

I do and then I take a moment (or I try to) and I thank God that I have things to do and the means to do them. I'm thankful for both of my legs and my not-so-strong arms. I'm thankful that I have clothes to wash and a place to put them after they've been dried and folded. I'm thankful that I have good, meaningful work to do with teenagers and teachers everyday. If I end my list with gratitude, the to-dos suddenly don't seem so bad.

* PS: I've been working on some library card art -- thank you notes. I wasn't going to post pictures until I sent them but, here's one. I used transparency over the library card, then some sticky vellum underneath and neat script tape at the top. Definitely fun art making!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Making Thank You Art

I'm thinking of thank you cards and fishing for ideas and what did I find, but a library catalog card generator. How cool is that? Now if each would only print so neatly so that I could use it in a collage. This one I created thinking Donna Maria.