Your life, your signature…

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“Despite overall similarities, each nest identifies it’s maker as surely as an artist’s signature”
Maryjo Koch

 Mommy… Did you know that your nest bears your signature?
When you stand back, what do you see?
I remember the days when my children were small.
My girlfriend would come over with her little battalion of boys
and I would make a pile of french toast.

The children would dress up and run barefoot in the grass.
They would make mud balls in the puddles.
There was laughter.
It wasn’t always neat, but it was always pretty.
It wasn’t expensive, but it was enough.
My nest was full of life.

What does your nest say about your life?
Is there music?
Does a candle flicker, adding a glow to your kitchen?
Have you taken your little one out to plant a seed?
Is there laughter?
Do you have time to drink it in?
Do you find yourself crying tears that flow from a pool of gratitude and love?

Who cares if it gets a little messy, just make sure it’s pretty.
Blanket forts are pretty.
Children in footy pajamas, surrounded by piles of books —
That’s pretty.
The mess of life —
That’s neat.

Or is the place in front of the television,
or the iPad in the lap,
or the phone in the hand — is that stuff of your day?
They will remember
and may become too dull to care.
Don’t allow entertainment to smother the life and creativity out of your children.

Take your little one out to watch the hopping robins tug worms out of the soft ground.
Take them out to pick daffodils and teach them to rub the soft petals on their cheeks.
Help them find the tiny buds that line the branches of spring.
Light a candle and use the fancy tea cups.
Write your signature with flare.
Today won’t come again.

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Maryjo Koch, Bird Egg Feather Nest,
via Meditations for Mothers, Elisa Morgan
Photo credit: Julie Falk 

Doesn’t matter how tall they get…

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A mother’s love – doesn’t matter how tall they get …

 

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Photo credit: Weheartit.com

The nose pickers

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By the time fourth period rolls around, it’s going on 2:00 and the 4-6 year old children are tired. When I come in, I know I have about 15 minutes to teach the most important parts of my lesson before I start losing them to the play things that surround us in the room. Fortunately, my theatrics are good and the children are enthusiastic. We learn about birds, their homes and their habits. The children sit up on their feet, in tiny blue chairs, and prop their elbows up on the octagonal table that they surround. They are fabulous. At this point in the day, all the hair is marvelously messy — bows are askew and many shoes are untied. They stare at me, wide eyed, as I talk about the size of a hummingbird egg or where an eagle makes it’s nest. The children gasp audibly as they imagine that the woodpecker can actually eat a frog and the red tailed hawk can swoop down and pick up a field mouse with it’s strong talons.

It’s a sweet time… well… except for one thing — and can I just be up front here?
They pick their noses.
They pick. their. noses.
And when I ask them if they need a tissue, they sweetly look up at me and say no.
When I suggestively hand them a tissue- they daintily hold it in one hand, while they pick with the other.
When I whisper to them discreetly, “Please use your tissue — don’t pick your nose,” then, one little darling in particular, will turn her head and bend down a bit in order that she may pick in private.

This drives me to distraction and it’s terribly hard to continue with my lesson whilst suffering through the inner squirm. Since I only have a very short time, for the sake of whatever children are not picking, I have to continue teaching, in spite of whoever is picking.

We always listen to the sound of the bird and then we scroll through bird pictures on my iPad.

Then comes the question — and it always comes.

“Can I swipe it?” And a little finger comes for my iPad.

Only the wisest…

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There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.

— Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865-1946

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Quote taken from Jan Karon’s, Patches of Godlight
Photo Credit: Little Pink Monster

Birds Of A Feather

Because it’s the little things that carry the weight of meaning…

Storyshucker

My bus arrived on time in spite of the foul weather. I shook my umbrella, climbed the steps, and headed straight for the empty seat beside Marble Lady. I call her that now because last week she cleaned her purse during our morning commute and we discussed the small green marble she discovered in its zippered pocket. She’d found the marble in her yard, dropped it into her purse thinking it may have once belonged to her now adult son, and thought no more about it until she came across it that day on the bus. After we talked, she realized her sentimental feelings attached to it and instead of getting rid of the marble, she kept it.

This morning she faced the window when I boarded the bus. As I sat down she turned to give a “good morning” nod to whoever it was beside her. Seeing me, she…

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Just Fishin’…

I don’t have many memories from childhood- but some of the good ones include fishing adventures. My Dad loved to fish- and funny- I don’t know if he ever actually got to do it, he was so busy fixing, untangling, un-snagging, and re-rigging our lines. I remember the air and the grass and the sound of the water. I remember how my Dad could expertly tie knots in the fishing line and how he would fearlessly grab a worm and split it in two with his bare hands.

As I got older, it was fun to sit and watch the men enviously change their rigs over and over as they watched us girls haul in the fish using only our water-logged “worm sundae’s” and a little patience. One day, Sally and I counted “Thirteen!” from the bank, while Dad was helping Grandpa, who was risking life and limb to rescue his lure from way up in a tree. Even then, in the midst of the worst of aggravations, my Dad would put down his pole to tie on my hooks whenever it needed doing.

I’m so thankful to both of my parents for helping me to develop a love for the outdoors. It was in moments like these- and many others- from camping to more simple backyard experiences, that I learned to talk to God and believe in the unseen. Things were very tough at home- but there was a place I could go- even if I didn’t understand the respite I would find there.

So this week, I have been fishing with the Wil-de-beast. Historically, he hasn’t cared all that much about fishing- but it now seems he has caught the bug. He wakes up in the morning thinking about the pole. He even missed a workout- which for him, is unheard of.

On the first day- the Wil-de-beast and I decided we wanted to try worms, so we dug up the field grass, right where we stood, with whatever implements we could find in the tackle box. Our most useful tool was the fillet knife- we were able to carve away chunks of ground and quickly grab exposed worms before they got away. Using a knife ensured that we had nice worm pieces anyway. This was sort of a trap-setting, living-off-the-land kind of thing and I’m sure the worms were juicier and the catch was sweeter since we extracted these babies from the earth ourselves.

This fishing fun led us to the Walmart store, where the Wil-de-beast spent an inordinate amount of time in the fishing aisle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so eager to plunk down ten bucks on his necessities; now I know why Grandpa was willing to risk his life up in that tree.

The beast has spent hours alone out in the not-so-easy-to-fish-in paddle boat exploring little coves and experimenting with different bait. He caught some big bass and some nice crappie- but he also caught the ability to enjoy the journey- fish or no fish. As I look out the window, and spot the boat tucked into a little cove, my eyes fill with tears as I realize these are hours spent with God. As he watches the water ripple and listens to the birds sing- there’s likely a voice speaking to his heart and it’s likely that the Wil-de-beast is talking back… and he thinks he’s just fishin’.

It’s these kind of little things that really blow me away.

The Little Things…
 I don’t know about you- but I find that details, business, entertainment, and connectivity can creep in and smother my creative impulses. If I’m not careful, I find that somehow I stop breathing- fail to hear the birds sing- and find myself dry and out of the stream. In these shorter posts, entitled, “The Little Things,” I hope to make a public effort to tend my private heart by recording a few of the little things that bring me life. Please join me in this adventure by taking a moment to record for yourself how you stepped into the stream today. What little thing did you intentionally do for yourself that makes you laugh, cry, or sing? What are you doing that makes you feel alive? Record them for yourself and share with the rest of us when you feel you can. I would love to interact.
Happy little things!
~Catherine 

Butter and Thunderstorms

I was standing in the kitchen, buttering a rice cake, when the Wil-de-beast magically appeared and chanted over my shoulder, “Do you really think THAT’S a good food choice- a rice cake slathered in BUTTER?”

I told him that women need a little extra fat in order to menstruate. That shut him up.  I turned to hide my mischievous grin and continued to butter the rest of my recycled packing material for consumption. Truth is- I would eat butter on a rock if it meant I could have it.

Besides- I need to butter-up in order to continue to support the Wil-de-beast in his exercise program.

I’d like you all to know- I doubled my miserable minutes in that Insanity program. I haven’t gotten past the warm-up and I already want to punch that guy that keeps saying “How we doin’ y’all? Keep pushin’, keep pushin’!” All that breathless sweatiness- just to be buff.

Don’t tell anyone- I’m actually sore.

But this really isn’t about exercise. It’s about adding up the little things. It’s about capturing moments to be alive and being thankful for them.

I did three favorite things that day:

1. I took a walk back into the woods:

My favorite part of the walk was the path…. I like places that have been worn away by routine- places that tell a story; places that echo with history. I like the patches that get worn away below the swings on a swing set. I like doors that creak, porch swings that creak, and stairs that creak. I hope George Bailey never fixes the finial that comes off in his hand on It’s a Wonderful Life. I like the feel of the old pages of a book. I like a well-worn path.

Photography by Nick Woodrow©2010. Used with permission.

2.  I worked on my garden patch:

I was thinking- as I worked on digging a new edge around the garden where the grass creeps in- that never in my life have I had to pull away so fiercely to get outside to work and breathe. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with details and with tasks- that my day can go from morning to night- and feel as if there’s nothing in it; or is it that I’m not taking account of and being grateful for the little things that are there? Maybe a combination of both. Maybe the pace is too fast and my focus maladjusted. As an artist and a writer- my soil needs to be amended regularly- I need to put good stuff in, in order to get good stuff out. I need to do away with creeping weeds and open myself for the the battering of the till. I must have deep furrows in order for seed to stand a chance of sprouting. Both rain and sun must beat upon my breast so that with time and continual surrender good fruit will come.

Photography by ©KatVitulanoPhotos. Used with permission.

3. I put laundry away in my bedroom during a thunderstorm:

The sky was many shades of gray- tumultuous and filled with electricity. I opened the windows wide and watched the rain come in phases- at times pounding furiously on the rooftop outside my window. When the rain fell soft, I played some favorite love songs and found myself deep in hidden places. I dreamed of days past and lost myself in the sweet sadness that’s just inches beneath the surface of every waking moment. I had a little Pride and Prejudice moment- and a thought came to me.

I’ve noticed- that since my Taylor-bean isn’t around much- I live in a world of mostly men. That’s been a big change for me. This realm has it’s own particular sweetness- but some of the creative, girly things that happened naturally from day to day- now have to be intentionally sought after in order to bring balance. I have to break away from the muscles, sweat, and ball-bouncing to enjoy more feminine sorts of little things. Not that my men don’t enjoy thunderstorms and love songs… it’s just that those things don’t come in to the flow as easily.

With the rain and the song, I felt ideas, dreams, and memories begin to weave in and out of the melodies and I ran to get my book of thoughts and ideas so I could jot them down.

Oh, sweet and happy little things…

Photo by: Barbara Miers ©2011. Used with permission.

How about you? Any little thing you would like to share? Thanks for taking this journey with me…