Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The view from here

I am sitting on a rock atop the Heavener Runestone State Park. I'm watching the buses wind along the road below me. I am alone save for the hawk catching a thermal above me. I can see the whole town where I spent so much of my life. I just heard the train blow it's horn. That sound is the soundtrack to my childhood. When you grow up in a railroad town with a railroad dad, that sound is bringing your dad home to you or taking him away.

I can see the water tower and the HS gymnasium where I once tripped over the half court line on the basketball court. I see the Kiamichi Mountains in the hazy distance.

The train just sounded its horn again...time to go.

All my childhood friends and my brothers are in my thoughts today. I miss you guys.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Letter to Emma Jane

Dear Emma Jane,

I want to tell you how proud I am of you.  You are growing into an amazing young lady.  You have grown so tall in the last year.  You have always been an old soul but you can really start to see how mature you are around your sister.  You take such good care of her and watch out for her both physically and emotionally.  Your maturity is apparent in your conversations, your art, your interests, your thoughts, your thoughtfulness, your ability to read people, and your social interactions.  You said recently "I don't care what others think or say about me, because I know I am amazing."  I can't express how happy that made me.  You are amazing.  And the way you said it was not conceited.  It was with quiet confidence that you stated what is obvious to me.  I remember being pregnant with you and sitting in a restaurant in Utica Square.  I saw a young girl, maybe 15 or 16 years old, enter the restaurant, glance around the crowded room, and then stride across the restaurant to a group of adults.  When she reached them she stuck out her hand and with confidence, introduced herself and smiled.  I said to the ladies sitting with me, "I want to raise a daughter like that."  And I have.

Your interest in art is consistent in it's presence and varied in it's medium.  I do believe you will have art as your job some day.  It is your calling.  You just need to find which kind of art you will want to focus on.  You have such talent for someone so young.  I hope that you never lose your furtive need to create.  Your focus is singular and intense when you are working on a project.  I love the look in your eyes of concentration and then of pride when you complete a project.

You don't have to like science.  I think that you do, but you don't have to.  It's okay.  I am glad you enjoyed the owl pellets and that you thought finding the skull was cool.  I am glad you aren't scared of earthworms or slimy things.  I loved seeing you get excited about the comet.  But if you don't love science like I do, that is just fine.  There are so many other things we have in common.  It is frightening how the words that are just about to come out of my mouth, come out of yours first.  Or how you can have the same reaction to something that I am having, even when everyone else is opposite us.

I love your quick wit.  Your wittiness is a source of pride for me.  I have always enjoyed being the funniest person in the room but I will gladly turn over the crown to you.  My darling, you are ironic, goofy, funny, quick, sarcastic (a little), and humorous while still being kind.  Your observations make me laugh out loud.  You would rather be thought of as funny than pretty.  And that, my dear, is priceless.  Don't ever lose that.

I love the way you and I share a glance when Lucy is doing something adorable.  I love the way you seem to understand that this time is fleeting.  You seem to grasp that with each milestone that Lucy meets, we won't be going back to Bar B Poo, or Open Stephanie.  How can you be only 10 and have an understanding that these moments are fleeting?  You once said to me "Mom, I wish I had a tiny video camera I could turn on behind my eyes.  One that would record this moment and I could play it back whenever I wanted."

I want you to know that I love you no matter what; no matter what mistakes you make or what grade you make in high school Chemistry, I will love you to infinity.  Stay true to the statement you made about not caring what others think.  You are getting ready to enter a time where it might be difficult to ignore what people say about you.  Stay strong and always know that you are amazing.  You are talented and smart and beautiful and funny.  You can sail a boat, or dissect a brain, or paint a canvas, or write a poem, or sew a lunch bag.  You understand so much about the world and nature and what your place is in it.  You accept people for who they are.  You have such sweet acceptance for people from all walks of life.  Don't ever lose that.  Keep your mind open.  Question the status quo.  Follow the rules until they don't make sense anymore.  Listen to that inner voice that told you to come to me and tell me something wasn't right.  That internal compass has served you well and I believe that it will continue to serve you well if you listen to it.

Above all else, I want you to know how proud I am of you.  You are a bright shining light.  You can be anything you want to be and my hope is that you will love what you do.  You are destined for a life filled with joy and laughter and art.

I am not ready for the next 8 years.  I am not ready for you to like boys, or for boys to like you.  I am not ready for puberty or driving or college.  But I can't stop time.  And it occurs to me that I only have the next 8 years with you under my roof.  I have only 8 years to try and keep you safe and teach you how to make good decisions.  But if the girl you are today, is anything like the young lady you will be in 8 years, I have nothing to worry about.  And I can't wait to meet her!

I love you,

A Letter to Lucy

(Inspired by a friend's post to her daughter on her first birthday, I want to write a letter to each of my girls.  But I can't wait until July 3 or December 2.  I have thoughts right now that have to be written down.)

Dear Lucy,

I love 4 years old.  You are such an adorable girl at 4.  You stomp everywhere you walk because you like the sound your feet make.  You love to put your hair in pig tails and they bounce when you stomp around.  You love your blankies.  You often give them human traits and then when I join in you remind me that they don't have feelings.  I feel silly when you do this.  You are still so very young.  You suck your thumb and weave your blankie in between your fingers just so.  You are very interested in numbers right now and addition is something you like to quiz us on.  Your artistic abilities are like your sister's.  You spend a lot of time crafting and coloring.  You love your barbies and playing dress up.  You talk non-stop with your family but can be shy and almost mute with others.  You will hide behind my legs, clutching your blankie to your face.  You feel safe when you are with your daddy or me or your sister.  Sometimes when I am late to pick you up from gymnastics you have planted yourself outside the big girl dressing room waiting for your sister to take care of you.  You are smart, too.  So incredibly smart.  You love to swim, read, watch Caillou, eat hot dogs, and talk.  And when you can't remember what you were going to say, you say "I love you" instead.

I love how you smell in the morning when you are asleep.  You smell like warm blankets and moist breath and soft skin.  I love how your eyelashes look when they lay on your cheek  The sound of you sucking your thumb, lets me know you are content.  I love that you don't need personal space yet.  I can get as close as I want to your face and kiss every inch of it and you don't think I'm odd.  I want to capture forever the way you look stomping down the hallway to your room, with your pigtails bouncing.  These days you are filled with joy.

I want you to know that without you our world would not have been complete.  You are so very different from your sister.  You are strong willed but loving.  You always give me hugs when I don't feel good, and yes, they do help.  I LOVE the sound of your laugh.  You throw your head back when you laugh and it makes the whole room light up.  I like to listen to you and your sister giggling from the next room.  Your confidence in yourself is something I hope you keep forever.  Don't ever lose the sureness with which you enter a room.  Don't ever lose the quiet fortitude that you have when working on a difficult task.  Perseverance is a quality that will serve you well in the future, even if I wish you did not have so much of it when I am trying to get you to stop and go to bed.

My darling baby girl, you are loved.  The love we three have for you is overwhelming.  I wish you could feel the emotions that course through my brain, heart and blood...pride for how smart you are, tenderness for how small you are, protective for all that life can throw at you, happiness that you find joy in so much, sadness that you are growing up so fast, surprise that you're so independent at such a young age, frustration that you don't trust me sometimes, anxious knowing that you will face disappointment someday, fear that I won't get to see you grown and with your own babies, but the most dominant emotion which encapsulates all the others is love.  My love for you is endless.  I will always love you, no matter what you do, or how far apart we are.

"Oh, and Lucy?  I love you."

Your mommy

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lucy Talks (A Lot)

Last night Lucy came into our bedroom about 3:30 a.m.  She was crying.  She had a fever.  I took her temperature and asked her if she had any other symptoms.  She said no.  I gave her some ibuprofen and we snuggled up on the sofa.  We made our way to the guest bed because there was a big storm and the thunder combined with her fever made her needy. 

As she was falling asleep I was watching her and I asked if she could please take her thumb out of her mouth.  She did.  Then she started telling me about how you wouldn't want to be in a volcano and that we don't get very many earthquakes here but there is a state that gets a lot of earthquakes and that she doesn't like tornadoes and that she knows what to do when there is a tornado at school and that she wants to go to Grandma's house tomorrow and she hopes she isn't still sick and that she knows how to wash a dog; first you get the dog wet and then you get the shampoo and then you put the shampoo on the dog and scrub and then you rinse the dog and that our dog sure could use a bath and that doesn't know why she has a fever and that she has had a lot of firsts lately.  She told me that she had the first time sleeping with me a few weeks ago when she got home from the hospital and that tonight was the first night she had slept in the guest bedroom but the second time she had slept with me and that she liked sleeping with me because the thunder was too loud and that kids are sometimes afraid of loud noises like thunder and the trash truck at school that empties out the dumpster and that it sure is loud and that she just covered her ears when they were walking outside and the truck was dumping the dumpster and that the librarian, Mrs. Smith, read her a story about a trash man but that was after Mrs. Eakes had read it, so she knew all about it already and that the book wasn't loud but the truck sure was.  She also told me that her sister said she could take her head off and she didn't like that and that she wanted to craft in the morning if she felt better and that flamingos stand on one leg when they sleep but that she couldn't do that when she was asleep and that the roof of her mouth sure was dry.

I suggested that she put her thumb back in her mouth.  She did.

For the next hour she thrashed about beside me in bed.  She tossed, turned, kicked, flipped, twisted, flailed, pushed, pulled, flung, whipped, jerked, curled, straightened, sighed, kneed, flexed, stretched, and struggled.

I think it was the words trying to get out.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Wedding, Three Lucys and a Leprechaun

What have we been doing this week?

We had something going on every single night this week.  We had student led conferences on Tuesday and that was wonderful.   I am so lucky my girls love school and have such outstanding teachers.  We also had swimming lessons twice this week.  Lucy moved from level 1 to level 2 class this week.  They decided she was too advanced to be in beginning swimming.  I wish you could hear the 4 year old version of her advancing in her swim class.  It goes something like this.  "Last week I did number 1 but this week I will do number 2 in the pool!" 

We also had gymnastics and then went to watch the sun set so we could catch a glimpse of the comet, PanSTARRS.  Emma was so thrilled.  She jumped up and down and forgot all about being cold.  Lucy was sort of interested, but the need for warmth won out over the curiosity of seeing a tiny dot in the sky through binoculars. 

We went sailing on Friday with our sweet babysitter/sister/friend/mentor/role model, Madeline.  It was 80 degrees and beautiful on the lake.  It got pretty windy but Mike reefed the main and we kept things pretty steady on the boat.  I forgot my camera so I am relying on Madeline to send me some pictures from that day (hint, hint).

On Friday night we went to a wedding for one of Emma Jane's teachers.  She got married in the school! 

Her name is LeeAnne Power.  And she has a daughter named Lucy Power.  In the car on Friday, Lucy was saying that her mom had mommy power and her dad had daddy power and her sister had sissy power and that she had LUCY POWER.  I explained that she was, in fact, going to meet a girl named Lucy Power.  She was not very excited.

I did manage to get a photo of the 3 Lucy P's at the wedding that night.  Pictured are Lucy Piper, Lucy Power and Lucy Plunkett.  Tri Lucy.  Lucy cubed. 

I was pretty excited, but I think I was the only one.  You see, both their first and last names can be spelled using elements.  Sadly, Plunkett cannot.  I know when I tell people this, the blank stare on their face should make me realize that they just don't really find it interesting.  You would think that I would stop.  But I don't.  I went ahead and made some files in case they want t-shirts made...

Just smile and nod.  I know I am weird.

On Saturday we went to the lake for the spring racing series.  We were to be crewing for Daniel who has a Corsair 31 trimaran.  The winds were too strong for little Lucy.  At the beginning of the first race, while I was at the helm of a 31 foot boat sailing 17 knots, getting sprayed by water, and having the time of my life, Lucy burst into tears.  She was scared and didn't like all the banging above board.  So I went down and held her through race one.  Then they delivered us back to the dock before races 2 and 3.  We sat on our boat in a very calm marina with no loud noises or choppy seas.  We had snacks and watched a movie.  All was calm, all was well.

We waited for Mike and Daniel (the skipper of the 31 foot boat) to return and then we ate and visited with all the friends we haven't seen all winter.  I love the first day back in the spring.  It is so good to see everyone and catch up.

On Sunday we had lake friends over for dinner.  It was St. Patrick's day and Emma Jane got crafty.  She made a leprechaun trap.  (I do not know where this idea came from.)  She had a gold coin to attract him and then a trap door triggered so that as he pulled the coin the lid slams shut.  We are still waiting to hear the lid slamming shut in the night.

And because it was Sue's birthday (the day after St. Patrick's day) and because Sue is Irish, and because Emma did not catch a leprechaun, she made a leprechaun for Sue.

What a crafty and creative girl she is.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fourth Grade Writing Homework

This title is a bit misleading.  Emma Jane is indeed in the 4th grade.  However, I am blown away by her writing teacher.  The assignments are not like anything I did in elementary school.  I learn something every week from this amazing teacher.  And the progression of Emma Jane since August is like nothing I have ever witnessed.  She keeps a composition book to turn in each week.  It is amazing to look through her writing assignments from September and see how she has progressed in her creativity and construction.

A couple of examples of assignments and what Emma Jane turned in.

From the teacher:  Since we are continuing to refine our sentence writing skills, we are moving on to parallel construction.  With that construction in mind, with our pens in hand, and with dedication of purpose, we will write ten sentences - each with a series of phrases or clauses created with parallel construction.  (Notice here that the teacher uses parallel construction in her directions?  I love that woman!)  Each phrase or clause must consist of at least four words.  They may be subordinate clauses, prepositional phrases, gerund phrases, participial phrases, or anything else.  

From Emma Jane:
1. Because my sister is sick, because she is contagious, because I don't want to get sick, I stay in my room.
2. Inside Lucy's doll house, on top of her wardrobe, and around her bed, tissues are everywhere.
3. With a canvas in front of me, with paintbrushes in hand, with a sky full of pink and orange clouds, I paint a masterpiece.
4. On a lake full of ducks, on a cold day in March, on a shoreline that was once flooded, my grandpa bought a boat.
5. Swimming through the freezing water, quacking their beaks off, and eating bread from my breakfast, the ducks I named Nelly and Gertrude are fun to watch.
6. I woke up to the sun rising over the water, the birds singing their morning song, and the moon setting on the horizon.

How is that for using the material before you?

This week the assignment was to write 3 poems.

From the teacher:

Writing homework is to write three poems:  One haiku, one cinquain, and one diamante. Choose one topic and write all three poems on that topic.
Remember a haiku is three lines: the first has five syllables; the second has seven; and the third, five. 

Because Emma Jane had just finished reading the book Hatchet this weekend, because she had Hatchet on the brain, and because she needed to write three poems, she used the novel as the topic for her three poems.

Here is her haiku.

Starving, stranded boy
Surviving in the forest
For fifty-nine days

The cinquain has five lines. The first line is a noun that is the topic or the title. The second line is two adjectives. The third line is three words describing the noun.  The fourth line is four words describing feelings related to that noun.  The fifth line is a single noun that is either a synonym for or is some reference to the first noun. 

Here is her cinquain.

Scared, strong
Trying to survive
Desperate to be rescued

A diamant√© is a seven-line poem.  The first line is a noun. The second line is two adjectives. The third line is three gerunds (ing verbs).   The fourth line is four nouns. The fifth line is three verbs (again gerunds). The sixth line is two adjectives. The seventh line is a noun that is either a synonym or an antonym of the first noun. The poem often changes tone (or if it’s an antonym at the end—changes topic) halfway through the line of four nouns.

Here is her diamanté.

Desperate, hungry
Crashing, starving, hurting
Hatchet, tornado, radio, airplane
Landing, surprising, rescuing 
Brave, resourceful

Shaped like a diamond
Just like it was meant to be
Creative, smart girl

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Glass Blowing

Emma Jane and I had the opportunity to go to a glass blowing studio in the Brady Arts District in Tulsa and pull glass into flowers.  I bought the deal on living social and it was for two people to have a glass blowing experience.  We could choose from a paper weight, an ornament or a flower.  We both chose the flower.

Our instructor's name was Ethan.  He did a great job of explaining things to us.

Here Emma Jane is rolling hot glass through the first color which will be the stem; she chose green.

Then she rolls the glass on this table to help shape it and cool it.

 Then it goes back in the oven to heat up a little more.  You have to constantly turn it in the oven because it is so fluid on the end of the pipe.  Emma Jane was better at rotating the bar smoothly than I was.
Then you dip the glass into the glass chips you are going to use for the flower itself.  Emma Jane chose a mixture of orange and red glass chips.  Here she is picking up the colored chips for the flower on the end of the rod.

Then into the oven to heat it up again.  Then to the bench to start shaping and pulling.  The process was to pull some and then reheat, then pull some more then reheat.  The glass was emanating heat so your hands got really hot while pulling the glass into shape.

After shaping it, the flower was placed into an oven that cools slowly over time.  So we were not able to leave with our flowers that day.  But finally we were able to pick up our finished product.

Here is Emma Jane's glass flower.

Isn't it spectacular?

I chose multicolored glass chips for my flower and a yellow stem.

If you get the chance to go to Tulsa Glass Blowing Studio, you will love it!  I might not go in the summer but it was a great winter activity!  Emma Jane is hooked and wants to take a class.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What Is Mass?

When Emma was just 4 years old and had just started at Mayo Demonstration School for Science and Technology, she was having her after school snack and asked me, "Mom, what's mass?"

I freaked out.  I was so ecstatic.  My 4 year old daughter who had just started school was learning about mass and asking me to explain it to her????  I said as calmly as I could "Well Emma Jane, I am so glad you asked.  Mass is the amount of matter in a substance irregardless of gravity.  Your mass here is the same as your mass on the moon, but your weight would be different. For example, my weight here on earth is 135 but my weight on the moon would be 23 pounds.  Weight is related to gravity but mass is independent of gravity."

Then I went to get a pan balance that I just happen to have in the craft room and set up a quick experiment in the kitchen in which we were going to determine the mass of the Oreos she was eating.  I was explaining that we were going to compare the mass of the Oreos to something with a known mass.  She hesitated for a moment, knowing that she was derailing the science train barreling down the track and said, "Mom, I think it's church.  Sophie invited me to go on Saturday."

"Oh,"  I said.