Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Little Bird Bonker

Six months ago or so, our cockatail, Mel, flew off my shoulder and out the door.  We've really missed her landing on our hair, nibbling our earrings or covering our favorite chairs with accidents.  Before Christmas, a gray cockatail flew into our back yard, lured by the large variety of birdy treats on tap.  It stays there, night and day, preening its feathers and ruling the doves that nest in our big tree.

Ladybug is obsessed with the recovery of "Mel".  She cried over the dishes in frustration over her inability to catch her with a net.  Last night was spent on the internet researching bird traps.  By morning, two bird traps were set.  One was an elaborate double cardboard box affair with a trap door the bird would fall through.  The other was a small cage, propped open with a stick and a rigging to knock it shut should a bird come in and eat the food.

I returned home from a presidency meeting today to a bright eyed little girl.  "I caught a bird!"  "No kidding." I replied in complete amazement.  Sadly, it was not "Mel", but a hungry little sparrow which we fed then released with a treat for her short incarceration.

Snow Days

Snow Days.

Sledding, Shoveling, Snow Caves
Marshmallow snow men

Games with mom.  Racing, Memory, Silliness.

Learning about ice through experience, Giggles, Squirms

Cocoa, Read Aloud Time,

Snow Days, Happy Days.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I believe in Faries, I do. I do.

They say kelp grows 2 feet a day, and that you can actually watch it grow.  I've been still, watched the kelp, and wondered at its change and miraculous cell growth.  

More astonishing is the rate of growth in children. Look once.  They are helpless clingers. Look again.  They are fearless discoverers, discerning waste, dirt, or goodies.   Another turn ...  They live in a world of fantasy, and faith is the natural state.  Turn quickly . . . they believe they are invincible, they are ready to conquer.  Turn again... they are gone for daily viewing, leaving only scuffed furniture, scratched DVDs, and cement hard boogars on the wall.

I wanted to record a moment in their growth . . . not their smile at this age or their hair style at that age, but something deeper. I want to capture something only hinted at on the surface, that only the eyes of love could see.  

Photographer Becca Nae had the eyes to see what I do and the skill to preserve it for me.

I see faith as their natural state, dreams as a matter of course, and magic the way of the world.  

Poised between childhood and womanhood, I see my Ladybug's spirit, normally disguised by Asperger's syndrome, looking out in love, joy, and hope.  I am awe struck by the beauty of her soul.

I see my Little Mother,born old into this world, capably carrying burdens too small for her years, looking for approval of her tremendous work.  And dreaming of what her future holds.  

I see my cherub getting ready to bloom and blossom.  

I see her trust that life is meant to be full and joyful.   

When I turn again, my children, like the sea kelp, will have changed almost beyond recognition.  But I will know better.  I will know that behind that sullen look or disheartened sigh is faith and magic if I look hard enough to find it.  How do I know it will survive?  Well, it's still somewhere in me.  

When I am old and bone weary, they will remind me of their superior knowledge that miracles are always present where there is faith, love, and hope. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Which would you choose?

Sundays are for sleeping in... especially when you've been sick for five days. 

But, strange things happen in your house when you sleep in.  Like . . . picnic resteraunts arise in your hall and family room. Two competing establishments no less - with wait staff eager to serve.  Both are hoping to tempt you with their ambiance and their prepared food. 

How is a consumer to choose? 

Do you have microwaved egg made with sugar instead of salt, and carrot, walnut and wilted lettuce salad or under boiled eggs and bananas? 

The choice is clear.  We must have two meals this morning. 

Christmas Day

At 6 a.m. we heard whisperings and the tap tap tap of little feet as they excitedly crept down the stairs.  Look!  Look!  I listened and pretended to be asleep as they sat in the dark under the tree. 
They knew they shouldn't waken us, so they were quiet.  After listening for a while, I rose and greeted them all with a hug then placed the breakfast casserole in the oven while we admired the stockings and other mysteries. 


We celebrated Christ's birth over breakfast, and my family thought I had lost it when I sang Happy Birthday to Jesus over and over.  I thought it was appropriate, so I sang even louder.

With the cruise, Santa brought stockings and one gift per child, while we gave three... like the wise men.  Would this feel like too little for our abundantly blessed little ones?  Happily, no.  Our home was full of love and gratitude.  In fact, the hit of Christmas was the "warmies" my mom made of fleece. 

They became super capes, caterpillar larvae, and butterflies.  They stayed on all day.

The afternoon was spent at Grandmas and Grandpas with cousins, aunts, uncles, and a cornocopia of food, food, and more food.  Best birthday celebration I've ever experienced. 

Christmas Eve

The last of our 36 love tokens are delivered.  We deliver in stages.  When I run out of one gift, I try to come up with something else in my budget for everyone else.  By the time we reached our last 6 for neighbors and friends, my bank account is shot.  Due to the economic times, few are reciprocated.  But I don't mind.   I NEED to have some way of showing love, if only a token, at Christmas time.  So, our last six get home made cookie mixes.  Budget friendly, yet still from the heart.

The deck is covered with food for the small friends that line our trees is plump rows.

All in our property must celebrate tonight.

Ladybug sadly taps her collection jar.  "I wanted to have the jar full for the homeless.  Maybe next year if I start earlier."

Anticipation is high, but tonight is full of peace.  Tonight belongs to Jesus Christ.  Tomorrow will be time enough for Santa Claus.  The meal is ready, pre-made in the refrigerator and crock pot.  All the glitzy Christmas decorations are removed till tomorow.  Tonight we transform our living room into Bethlehem.
 We don our headscarves and by the light of candles eat authentic food from biblical times, then quietly share feelings.

"Can we give our gifts?  Is it time yet?"  We move under the tree and sing carols to the simple accompaniment of Briz on the guitar.   First, each tells the recipient why they love them then from youngest to oldest, we present our love gifts. Briz made a bed for Little Mother's American Doll.  I made a cooking kit for my sous chef, Sunshine.  Ladybug painted a picture for Briz.  Little Mother painted a nutcracker for me, and Sunshine painted a  piggy bank for Ladybug.

We help our little ones make the transition from Christ to Santa with a beautiful book, I Believe in Santa.  Filled with love and appreciation, they write letters of love to Santa in their new PJs.

Magic fills the air as they check Santa Tracker to see where Santa is currently at.  We let them all sleep together tonight and we hear whisperings for an hour or two as they swear they've spotted Santa's light on the horizon line.   Santa comes.  Eats the goodies set out, does his stuff then goes home and goes to bed by 11:00.  He's tired but happy from filling children's dreams. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Programing the Christmas Spirit

 Finally, after weeks of straining for peace and joy, I feel the Christmas spirit.  Perhaps it is because it is peaceful... and freeing to be finished with all the Christmas programs.   But I suspect it has more to do with the programs themselves.  Odd.  Because none of them were knock your socks off good.  In fact, the middle schoolers and 4th-6th graders had as many tone deaf participants as those who could barely carry a tune.  No.  We wouldn't win any awards for tone or melodiousness.  In fact, Briz giggled, "You weren't kidding when you said you teach a lot of tone deaf kids".  So, why am I so happy with the two day marathon of Christmas skits/ musicals and programs?

I think it had something to do with the kids excitement after each performance.  They bounced, they danced, they crowed.  "Didn't we rock Miss Midodi?"  "Man, that was a kick butt performance!"  As I hugged each one,looked in their eyes and complimented them, they practically burst with pleasure.  After fighting two of the groups for 2 months to learn the songs and acting, their pride and excitement was doubly fun.

Each of the 1st -3rd graders shared with their parents their Christmas wish.  Many were for the homeless.  One was for his Dad to get well, Another was to see his brother again. Parents teared up in the audience, then held their babies tight after.

Stirrings of the soul were felt by the older children as well.  Savanah wandered around with a peaceful happy look on her face and followed me like a puppy dog.  "I had to keep from crying when I sang those songs.  I just wanted to sing and sing.  I've never felt this way before."  Victoria wondered, "Miss Midodi, I love to sing.  I think I'm good at it but my jaw hurts.  Has this happened to you?  I think I'm smiling too much."  Caden suddenly became extra solicitous.  "You don't have a coat Miss Midodi.  Let me get my moms.  Let me carry all your stuff to your car.  Which door can I open for you?" 

I admit, I love the adoration.  But, I think their adoration was caused because they felt the Christmas spirit, Christ's spirit, and felt so full of love that it spilled out on the nearest target, me.

Being the conduit that helped them feel all these amazing emotions brought me joy as well.  In moments like these, I forget the hours of preparation, rehearsal, pulling teeth, behavior problems and my own insecurities.  Like them, I'm ready to do it again... Almost.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Proud Big Sister

I popped in to see my baby sister Ivy on the way home from California.  She's a mommy now.  To a beautiful little fuzzball who is patient and perfect.  She runs a home now.  She takes joy in keeping it clean and running.  She has a husband now.  He glows.  She must be good for him.  I, the big sister, couldn't be prouder. 

While I enjoyed Vylette, my girls discovered why they call it Thousand Oaks with Uncle Kyle and Briz.  Then we all came back to admire and maybe fight a bit over the little one.   

My little niece left her mark on my chin.  I walked into the gas station restroom to find an enormous blackish blue hickey on my chin.  I had proof of her love for days.  

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Frightening, dizzying winter storm drive. I trust my Briz-bear and sleep in the car for maybe the second time in our nineteen year marriage.

Children are enamoured with a boat THAT big.

Enjoyed the little luxuries a cruise ship offers.

My children and the Bodilys at our table were given medals for being the best behaved children in the dinning room. HILARIOUS!!!!!
Loved the private time I spent with each little one. Whether in Ensenada at a taco bar where the meat was too hot,

over hot cocoa late at night in the Paris Dining area,

or watching fish in Catalina in a submarine.

Impatiently shivered as my sweetie snorkeled in 58 degree water, bringing his treasures occasionally to the shore for my approval.
Giggled with my husband because we paid $15+ a person to go see Ensenada's claim to fame, the Blowhole at its finest. It was pitiful. Nothing to do but laugh.

"Is that IT Mom? Is that all it does?"

I renewed my faith in my animal calling abilities when on the last day at sea, without spotting any sea life, I called out to the sea and begged the dolphins to come see me.

Within ten minutes, the pod after dolphin pod leapt up next to the ship, followed by a gray whale migrating. Briz was glued to the deck to watch their graceful show but was frustrated that his wife still believes she can talk with and summon animals.

Basked in the golden ball of fire that popped out of the sea each morning and the line of fire that sent me to bed.
Kept my husband from punching desperate salespeople,Taught my children the finer arts of price negotiation and vendor avoidance, and taught them when we pay more than an item is worth as a way to give as we ran the gauntlet through a "swap meet."
My favorite thing was the people. Black, yellow, brown... over 50 different nationalities were on the boat at the same time. We smiled, helped, chatted, teased, and annoyed each other. But mostly, I experienced the joy that comes from really seeing someone. Seeing them as a person, not as a race or a preconceived notion. I loved watching all the different people. Most of all, I loved the Bodilys. They were our table mates. I fell in love with the entire family and wanted to bring them home with me. With children in camp on the last night, we curled up on window seats and they shared some of their stories with us. How truly providential that I was placed in their path or vice versa. I am a better person for knowing them for a few days.

Struggled with the REALLY close quarters of housing 5 people in an 8x10 cabin, but felt that the goal of improving family relationships and making memories was accomplished nonetheless.