Monday, January 21, 2013

I Dream a World

Inauguration 2013:  Another incredibly historic day today, although I didn't cry quite as much as I did four years ago.  Then again, I'm not newly pregnant like I was then, and crying at the drop of a hat.....

What I was struck by today, perhaps more than during any other Inauguration I've watched or witnessed, is exactly what all the commentators were reiterating:  that our nation, so divided, so bitter, so embattled, is able to completely put aside our anger and division and instead, bear witness to this transfer of power with utter calm, peace, ritual, and respect.  Simply put - it was so beautiful.  It was so good.

The icing on the cake was that, as it was in Historic 2009, we simultaneously witnessed our first black President take the oath of office on the very holiday we honor arguably the most influential civil rights leader of all time.  As I prepared for my tutoring session tonight, I selected my favorite poetry frame most fitting for the day, titled "I Dream a World."  The frame provides just the barest of words to prompt ideas; the rest is up to the poet himself.  On second thought, I reached into my file cabinet and pulled one out for Aidan, curious to see what he might create.  On my way out the door, I provided only some brief direction in how to work the format and left the rest to him.  When I returned, I helped with only two revisions; the work is utterly his and truly authentic.  (I've noted in bold the framework that was provided.)

"I Dream a World"

I dream a world where the world has no pollution and is full of beauty,
where flowers are everywhere
and cars, planes, and trains run on electricity.
I dream a world where the world is in peace forever and forevermore,
where no one fights,
nor is there any war.
A world I dream where everyone loves and cares about each other,
and people adore each other and are respectful.
where everything is just exquisite
and nothing, absolutely nothing is bad or awful.
Of such I dream, my world!

-Aidan Carter, age 8 1/2, grade 3

Monday, January 14, 2013

S'more Birthday Fun

Leo's camping-themed party was a roaring success!  I had so much fun preparing the crafts, decorations, and goodies, and the games we played were great fun.  Best of all, I love the sweet friends Leo has made this year in kindergarten, which happens to include several old pals from preschool as well.  I loved chatting with the moms and making some new connections with them, too.  A few photos of the event:
Welcome, Campers!

Leo's new clubhouse/tent
The "Campground" awaits, complete with a (smoky!) campfire

Want S'more Cupcakes?
A rousing chorus of Kumbaya, anyone?
Resplendent in Campfire Caps
Make Your Own Trail Mix...
...with the Camp Host to guide you!

Guests' Self Portraits:  Totem Pole
Making medallions
Adding beads to the medallions
Happy Campers! 

*This party was among my most favorites.  It was surprisingly easy to plan, and the theme came together so well.  Although I like Pinterest for some things, my best resource seems to be Family Fun.  Here are the links I used for my party ideas; the two games, Pass the Parcel and the hula hoop game were AWESOME.  (I do not love birthday party games in general, but I LOVED these two!)
Click below for....
Pass the Parcel (I included one that said "Sing Happy Birthday to Leo"; I also made some of them "All Play" versions for total participation).
Hula Hoop Game
Campfire Caps (I used pinking shears and brown felt, plus I constructed everything with hot glue)
Totem Pole Portraits
Campfire Cupcakes (another option is to do this Cake)

....and the medallions, well, those were my own genius idea, borrowed from my own childhood days attending Family Camp with our church.

Happy Party and Happy Camping!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Leo turned SIX on January 5, and boy, does 6 look good on him.  By and large, Leo has embraced his older, wiser year, with all the maturity that goes with it. As it has been for some time, Leo is the "perfect" middle child in that he transitions to being older brother/younger brother with seamless grace and skill.  Recently, we had one particularly rough morning where Aidan was being especially smart-mouthed, loud, and generally unpleasing to be around.  Pax was grumpy, angry, kicking and hitting, hurling Legos and insults at all of us in a one-two punch.  ("I hate this Lego head!  I hate you to help me!") Leo sat at the table, drinking his coffee, wide-eyed, taking in the scene with a look I'll never forget: what in the heck is wrong with you two?  I am going to stay out of it and enjoy my coffee... catching sight of him sitting so quietly, I was filled with gratitude for this gentle and sweet little soul, a counterweight serving to rein in my anger and frustration at the other two.

Driving home from church, Pax was hungry and cranky and tired.  He yelled and screamed and fussed, and any attempts at comforting him only made him angrier.  Leo is usually able to charm Pax out of his worst moods, but even his attempts were failing.  (The tactic I will never understand but which cracks me up every time is when Leo leans over toward Pax and says, "You want to pull my nose?  Here. Pull my nose.  You'll feel better.  Go on, pull my nose!")

 "Hobbit Hole!" Aidan said glee as we passed this funny little gated room on the side of a big hill, affectionately dubbed "Hobbit Hole," each of us delighting in calling it by name when we pass.  "I HATE THE HOBBIT HOLE!!!" Pax screamed at us in response.  In the stunned silence that followed,Leo quietly responded with sage perspective,"Pax, you will not hate the hobbit hole when you are not feeling so angry."  Love, perspective, and understanding: a counterweight to Pax's frustration and fury.

It seems, perhaps, that Leo is destined to be a counterweight.  His tiny, newborn self in 2007 was was a counterweight to so much sadness and grief: the baby we lost before Leo; the death of Jeff's paternal grandmother; the sudden and tragic death of a teenager from church; a family friends' devastating loss of their newborn daughter.

On Leo's 6th birthday, half of my heart celebrated and rejoiced Leo Gabe.  The other half of my heart was with those lost in grief:  the neighbor and friend in our community whose daughter and sister lost her battle against cancer; the parents in Sandy Hook who cling desperately to the memory of their very own six year old.  Counterweight.

Leo Gabriel, named after the "Fear Not" angel who brought Good News.  May he continue to grow, to be Good News, to Counter Weight.