Book Club Babes: Isabelle

Book Club Babe Miss Emma selected Laurence Yep’s Isabelle and the timing of her discussion coincided with the release of the movie.  Kismet!  So, book club commenced with discussion of the book using their trusted journals as guides and then followed with a premier.  Fancy!

 

Play and Pie in Terre Haute

Originally planning to explore the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, due to “no room at any of the inns,” we drove on to Terre Haute where we discovered they had a Children’s Museum of their own.  Yes!

IMG_0885 IMG_0884Located in the heart of downtown Terre Haute, Indiana, we arrived as soon as the doors opened.  Our discoveries far exceeded our expectations:  a two-story tree house to climb, a trick mirror to gaze at, a cow to milk, a bubble to stand in, a live beehive to study, a news hour to host, balance and reach to measure, body temperatures to gauge (yes, my body was bright pink on the monitor . . . periomenopausal, Baby!), dinosaur fossils to unearth, and animals to race to name a few.

After 2+ hours, we had to convince the kiddos it was time to eat (at Grand Traverse Pie Company) and make our way home to Illinois.

Sunday Thanks: August 10, 2014

I am thankful for . . .

my oldest daughter caught reading the next book for her Book Club Babes.

IMG_0924a new use for cucumbers (dessert!!!) from our garden.

the Hub’s grandpa given the green light for chemo.

completing two ups and downs without any cardiac failure.

20140810_095308din din with the in-laws.

some quality time with my family.

the laughter of my girls while playing with the neighbor.

For what are you thankful?

Five Minute Friday: Fill

Fill.  When I think of fill, I think of how many little hearts I would like to fill with love.  Coming from a less than ideal childhood where I felt as if I was on the back burner most of the time, where my parents didn’t seem to consider the consequences of their actions in regards to their children, where two siblings lived in separate households an hour and a half drive from each other during their formative years, where my mother’s immediate exit from my father resulted in a marriage to another man became the new norm for an eight-year-old.

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Now having an eight-year-old of my own, I see this as God giving me the opportunity to fill this little girl’s heart with as much love as possible, and this is what I strive to do day after day.  The Hub and I tried desperately to have this little girl for close to four years. . .  and I mean desperately.  Thus, she is a gift from God we do not take for granted, but cherish.  She is wanted, and we shower her with our love on a daily basis.

Hearing or reading about a child’s heart who is not being filled or has not been filled is difficult.  For, I truly believe, every child is an opportunity for a heart to be filled.

Write for five minutes, and share your idea of FILL  here.

 

Sweat and the Sweat Lodge

FREE.  As the end of summer fast approaches, we like to try and squeeze in summer activities we figured we would have already participated in by now.  Today was our day to explore Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, IL.

20140806_100327We (my six and eight-year-old squirts) began with the concrete stairs which lead to the top of Monks Mound, the largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in American north of Mexico.  With burning calves, I reached the top after my two boundless bundles of energy.   While they continued to explore the platform of the mound, I, with beads of sweat rolling down my back, rested on the bench strategically placed near the top of the stairs.  Although I had visions of multiple ups and downs, we all agreed one round on the stairs was enough for today, so we headed to the Interpretive Center across the street.

Since we visit this historic site at least once a year, the girls’ excitement increased as we walked closer to the heavy, ornate doors.  This time, though, the girls chose to investigate the exhibits before viewing the informative and award-winning fifteen-minute film, Cahokia:  City of the Sun.

Dioramas with plenty of buttons to push in order to light certain areas entertained and educated simultaneously.  In addition, an interactive table covered with Native American toys challenged their hand-eye coordination.  Not to forget, the drawers with pulls (a favorite of the girls) filled with artifacts allowed visitors to further expand their learning.  Finally, I believe we walked through the life-size village a minimum of five times (I sat out the sixth, seventh, and eighth times) which concludes with a replica of a Sweat Lodge.

20140806_102840 20140806_102952 20140806_103326 20140806_104750A further opportunity of a self-guided tour outside amongst the other mounds was available, but we opted out since Momma’s legs had turned to jelly due to our initial climb.  We will add this to the list for next time as well as a future exhibit coming April 2015.

20140806_104952P.S. For the fictional book lover who enjoys the setting of Cahokia Mounds, read the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Ooh la la!

Writing Workshop Wednesdays (4)

This past week I visited the magnificent Cleveland Public Library.  I enjoyed walking the various floors in this historic building and took the time to peruse their stacks.  An underground walkway connects to a technology annex.  Yes, I had goosebumps while exploring.  While walking the length of the connecting hallway, there was a large chalkboard painted on the wall with a writing prompt.  This space was filled with chalk answers in all colors, a truly dynamic presentation.  So, this week’s prompt is borrowed from the Cleveland Public Library.

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Finish the sentence below.

Before I die I want to . . .  _________________________________________________________________________.

Write your response in the comments section or add a link to your site by simply clicking the button below.

Five Minute Friday: Begin

Begin.  This word can have so many connotations.  For my oldest daughter, beginning a new year of school at a different building is the least on her list right now.  The hub and I are offering lots of hugs and squeezes and assurances she will love it again once she begins again.

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The Hub and I at the BEGINning of summah.

It seems like only yesterday was the beginning of our summer together where we had weeks ahead of us with long days and later nights.  It’s hard for me to believe this summer is almost over, and we will all begin again without having accomplished all we had hoped to accomplish during this break from school:  multiple trips to the water park, more found furniture painted, much time spent with loved ones, etc.

The end of this time together with my girls and Hub is tugging at my heart, but this new beginning of the academic year means memories yet to made.  Begin.

Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday:  Begin

Why I Ditched Facebook and “Like” It

So, I took the plunge this summer and finally deleted my Facebook account after a few years of reluctant use.  Originally becoming a member because my BFF refused to e-mail me pictures any longer, I succumbed to the peer pressure.  When Instagram became available as a photo sharing site with brief accompanying descriptions (and after my fourteen-year-old neighbor set up my account for me), I now had my opportunity to exit.   Yes!  I held on as a Facebooker for a while longer because I administered a page for a women’s blog at church.  When this blog went belly up, my obligations ceased, and I severed my association with Facebook.

facebookdon'tlikeFor me personally, this was the right decision.  My e-mail is no longer congested with invites to play such-and-such game or with Facebook reminders telling me I am “missing out on so-and-so’s latest post.”  I enjoy my lean e-mail inbox now which frees me up for more quality time with my family and friends.

In addition, I no longer have to deal with angry people who do not seem to have a sense of control over what they write to other people behind the security of their keyboard.  Has everyone forgotten the saying . . .

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

On Facebook, I have witnessed people typing some of the most vile words to one another.  When did this become okay in our society or rather the norm?  To me it seemed as if there are a lot of people out there who are ticking time bombs just looking for any reason to engage in an argument with another person.

wordsforgivenCase in point . . .  on a religious site no less (am I the only person who expects religious people to be kind?), a person posted a story about a pastor disguising himself as a homeless person before attending church.  He then wrote of how the majority of the congregation lacked empathy for him, but rather turned their backs on him.  When I then replied to said post with something to the effect of, “The Methodist church in San Francisco feeds X  number of homeless people.”  The person who shared the original post replied, “Let’s not make this a theological debate.”  Okay . . .  I posted this information about said church not because I was trying to engage in a debate, but because my family and I had just returned from San Francisco.

Case in point . . . a breast cancer survivor, I dealt with the entire ordeal with lots and lots of humor.  This is how I roll.  It was either this or tears, and there was not much opportunity for the latter with a three and five-year-old in the house.  I needed to reassure them Momma was going to be okay despite the fact she spent a good chunk of 2011 and 2012 in the hospital.  Thus, those who know me know I embrace the light-hearted approach to breast cancer.  So, when a friend posted a Mammo-Graham snack recipe (an ideal means of explaining prevention to little kiddos) to my wall, I shared it with one of my survival groups.  In addition to several “Likes,” one person wrote an essay explaining how insensitive I was and how breast cancer was not a joke.  Of course, this wounded me to the core because as a breast cancer survivor, I KNOW it is no laughing matter, but I do think laughter is conducive to healing, at least for me personally.  In fact, the hub and I took “the girls” (my ta tas) on a final vacation to Chicago immediately prior to my double mastectomy.  We documented their final hurrah by taking their pictures at every location we visited.

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The “girls” taking in their final cup of hot tea.

More importantly, what I find disturbing is how much Facebook seems to prevent quality, focused time.

Case in point . . .  I teach writing to college freshmen.  When a bright student turned in a handwritten rough draft, I asked why he did not utilize the computer as a revision tool which heavily expedites the writing process (believe me, I went to school using an electric typewriter for papers, and I had to write a lot of them).  He told me if he used the computer he was constantly distracted by Facebook.  I still did not understand being that I had to intentionally log in to Facebook if I ever made use of it.  He said his Facebook automatically popped up on his screen.  I then replied, “Log out of it while you compose your papers.”  His response was something to the effect of how trying to remember that many passwords would be too difficult.

Case in point . . . with two young children, we visit a lot of child-friendly locales where I witness a plethora of parents looking down at their cellphones instead of savoring these moments with their children.  My girls have recently undergone a growth spurt which has had a bittersweet effect on me.  Sweet in that they are healthy, happy young girls, but bittersweet in that I have come to understand especially in this past year how quickly this time with our children passes, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Early this past summer, I was in the McDonald’s restroom waiting for my girls when a middle-aged woman came in to mop the floors at the same time a young mother studying her cellphone exited while her young children were trying to gain her attention.  The employee and I exchanged pleasantries and then she commented, “I don’t know how to use a cellphone, but it doesn’t matter because I can’t afford one.  I see people on them all the time in the play area when their kids are trying to get their attention.”

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To me, this was a profound statement on so many levels which instigated my deletion of Facebook.  I was never one to scroll through posts while with others, but I was usually the one tinkering with my phone trying to figure out how to post and tag a picture until I eventually would give up out of frustration or due to a locked-up phone.

Not only when considering quality time with children, I have observed how it interferes with physical face time with other adults.  A friend told me the only time she hears from another person is through a mass invite via Facebook.  Another friend said an RSVP was never answered to her child’s birthday party, but the person in question found the time to constantly post pictures of herself on her Facebook wall.  I have been with friends on planned get-togethers, and they will be engrossed in their phones rather than involved in the here and now which makes me wonder, “What is so important that it can’t wait until you are home?” or “Am I really that boring?”  I then break into an inner monologue much like John Candy’s in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, “I like me.  My hub likes me.  My squirts like me.”

Perhaps it’s a generational issue . . .  I feel as if I’m an old soul at heart and now chronologically.  I like the written word, and ooh and aah over cards found in my mailbox.  Several of my friends are not on Facebook and have never even expressed an interest, “I don’t do that sh%t!” as my author friend once eloquently told me.

Whatever the case may be, I think I hear my kiddos stirring, so I am off for now in order to spend some quality time with my girls.

A Pretzel before Playing at City Garden

FREE.  If you are like me, I am always on the hunt for activities free of charge for me and my squirts.  City Garden located in downtown St. Louis is just the ticket.  We had not been in about two years, so we were long overdue.  This park comprises art sculptures on which to climb, a large splash pad on which to skip, two wading ponds in which to swim (swimsuits optional), and the head of justice in which to hide.

First stop . . . buying lunch consisting of Gus’ Pretzel hot dogs at The Fire and Ice Cream Truck.  Sitting in the shade we chowed while creating our plan of attack for the garden. 

Time to release the inner good time kracken, and let the fun begin.

 

Sunday Thanks: August 3, 2014

Sunday Thanks.  I am thankful for . . .

a week away with my family spent exploring.

the hub working extra hard to make this trip possible for us.

a loving text from a friend right when I was thinking of her.

the birthday of an amazing woman blessing whom I have known for 20+ years.

the laughter from not being able to find a hotel with a vacancy.

my youngest daughter’s growth of an inch.

homemade coconut milk ice cream with chopped pecans and maple syrup.  Yummo!

 

Click below to add your link to the link party or simply share what you are thankful for in the comments section.