Thursday, January 30, 2014

Colorful Hearts

Dear Diary,
I sat next to her, a sugary sweet kindergartner.  We were coloring. 
She showed me her picture: two brightly dressed scribble people. I could tell they were girls from the long hair--one blonde, one brown. 
Colorful hearts surrounded them; green, purple, red. 

"Guess who this is," she smiled at me.
"Hmmm, who?" I asked, not wanting to assume.
"That's me and you!" she replied.
"Oh, I love the colorful hearts you made!"
"Yes!" she said, then added, "My daddy got 'trans'-ported to Mexico."

That was an eyebrow raiser. 
And a colorful heart breaker.
Just what does one say to that?

"Ooh, I am so sorry to hear that," I sympathetically replied.
"I am never, ever going to see him again," she continued, frowning.
Oh Lord, what do I say to this girl? I prayed.
"I bet you can write to him or talk to him on the phone," I replied feebly.
"Yes, I could!" she replied with a glimmer in her eyes.  "I could give my letter to mommy to mail."

Heavy stuff for a sweet little girl to bear.
The weight she carries will leave an impression on me for a long time.

But her green, purple, and red hearts will always be part of her story, too.

<3  <3  <3LJ

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Very Big Girl Day

Dear Diary,
My oldest girl is growing up. 
She had a Very Big Girl Day today. 

Filling some big shoes 13 years ago.
She had the day off of school --the second day off to be precise, thanks to another polar bear vortex --and, being the tough Midwesterners we are, we decided it was an opportunity to head out the frosty door and take care of some Big Girl business.

First, she dropped off her first job application.  I sat on a hard bench in the elevator lobby and watched her head up to floor #3 of the office complex with application in hand.
Without me.
I knew if I went with I'd just meddle; I Really Wanted To Go Orchestrate Her Success Myself.

Next, with Certificate of Completion in hand, we went to the DMV for a new DL.  Yup.  Her first driver's license.
Trying hard to suppress flashbacks of my own failed first road test, I sat in a blue plastic chair nervously waiting for her return. 

I had given her permission to Fail.  Does that make me a bad mother? 
I prayed for her.  Any question about bad mothering was now redeemed.

She passed, of course.  The chain of road test failure going back one generation had been broken!
We admired her shiny plastic ticket-to-freedom.  Nice picture, too.

Next we hit the road again, this time to the local drug store for a valid passport photo.  My Big Girl is going to Europe this summer.  Without her mommy.  Who has never been overseas.

Add the 23 letters from colleges and universities that she received within one week of her published PSAT scores, and have I painted a clear picture of my girl getting Soooo Big?

Yet somehow I get the feeling she wasn't the only one who put on her Big Girl Pants today.

Feelin' small and humble,

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are You Mexican?

Dear Diary,

I work in a bilingual school. 
The minorities are the majority here.
These dark haired children with varying degrees of beautiful, not-so-pale skin dominate the hallways and classrooms.  I am hard pressed to find any child of Anglo/European descent in the building.

Family and friends who are readers of this blog know what I look like. But in case a reader comes across this highly entertaining and thoughtful diary who has never heard of LJ, let me provide a sweeping generalization.

I am of Euro descent. Gazing upon my countenance one might guess I am German, which is partly correct; however, thanks to my maternal grandmother, I have more Bohemian in me than any other single nationality. So it is fair to say I am...well...fair!

This week I had the privilege of participating in this conversation in my kindergarten room. Names have been changed.

Niki (to her friend):  Katy, are you Mexican?  I'm Mexican.
Katy:  I'm Mexican-American.
Niki:  I will make you a bracelet that's Mexican! (Turns to other friend) Claire, are you Mexican?
Claire: No, I'm not from Mexico.
Niki (turning to me): Mrs. LJ, are you Mexican?

The absurdity of her question really made me laugh (inwardly of course) as I straight-faced answered her, "No. No I'm not Mexican."

But the really cool thing about that exchange was that it wasn't an absurd question to her.  At five years old, she has little notion about what being Mexican -- or any minority for that matter -- means. 
Thus she did not hesitate to ask her blond haired, blue eyed teacher, "Are you Mexican?".

We are approaching the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
As part of his famous I Have A Dream speech, he said:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Dr. King, I just met your dream, and her name is Niki.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Keep Calm and ?

Dear Diary,
I am baking cookies today and while I wait for them to cool I decided it was a good time to share my new fridge mantra for the year. 

But before I did that, I needed to do some research on the "Keep Calm and Carry On" slogan that became so popular in the last couple of years.  I wondered about its origin.  I had heard it was from Britain, hence the crown, but other than that, as far as I knew it could have been the name of another boy band Simon Cowell had discovered.
Original poster from 1939.
I learned it was not a boy band but a slogan the British government was prepared to use prior to WWII to keep the public from freaking out about predicted air raids.  It never was publicized properly and so never caught on at the time, unlike the American slogan, "Loose lips sink ships" and Uncle Sam's "I want YOU" declaration.

I did my research because I wanted to share with you the napkin I pilfered from the home of my brother and sister-in-law over Christmas.  Many of my readers know how much I love cookies. And though I didn't know what I was going to do with it at the time, I just couldn't see using it and throwing it away! 

So I hang it on my fridge. 
And take pictures of it for my blog. 

I suppose you, too, can fill in the blank for how you could handle what comes your way in the year ahead:  Keep Calm and ____________
Drink coffee/wine/both?
Hide under the covers?

I think my Snickerdoodles have cooled.  Care to join me?


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lies for 2014

Dear Diary,

This Christmas I found out I am pretty good at lying.

I had appointed myself Game Director for a gathering with my family.
The Ding-Dong Bell game we attempted didn't go over very well.
I could tell by the blank look on my brother's face. 
Or was that disdain?


We also played a game called Two Truths and a Lie.  A person tells three things about himself (for instance, three of his favorite movies) except a lie needs to be part of the answer, which others try to root out.

"Movies" was just the warm up. 
The Big Question was: What are your goals/What do you plan to accomplish in 2014? 

I made up the question, for Pete's sake, you'd think I could come up with three answers!

As we all paused a moment to ponder this question, here's how it played out in my head:
Okay, my lie will be that I want to run/walk my first 5K. 
That's actually believable since they know I am a walker anyway. 
Plus it is the trend these days--everywhere you turn there is a 5K fundraiser. 
Yeah that's a good one!  Believable, but sooo not gonna happen.

Now for the two truths. 
Hmmmmm.....goals for 2014.....
I know.
I will say I want to take a French cooking class....start a whole LJ & Julia bloggy kind of thing. 
Wait a minute. That's another lie. And it's been done before. I need to think of a truth.

I will tell them I plan to audition for community theater. 
They know how much I enjoyed acting in my school years.

I should change this game to Two Lies and a Truth.

What is something I do want to accomplish this year? 
Wow.  I'm blank.
This is embarrassing.
Maybe they won't notice if I just slip out of the room.
I'm suddenly very thirsty.
Okay maybe not thirsty exactly, but a drink would be really appropriate on so many levels right about now.
While I did enjoy the participation of others in this game, I ended up sitting this one out.

And, yeah, between sweet sips of wine, I did feel a little like a loser.
How could I not have any personal plans or goals for the year? 

Honestly (honestly!) I just want to have a good year --a blessed year-- being a mom/wife, caregiver and friend.

I guess that makes me a good liar (or just a poor game player).

And maybe walking a 5K this year will turn out to be a truth after all.....naaah.

Happy New Year!