Friday, January 12, 2018

A New Year; How to Plan?

You tell me, now, how does one train an old dog to perform new tricks? I was 45 years old when I stood before a welcoming crowd of friends to take with my husband & children vows of fidelity to the Church. FORTY five, you understand? That is a terribly long time to dig heels deeply into my own old ways. I greet each new day humbly now, ready to hear, and learn, and try, knowing that I will slip, and slide, and struggle. Rising is heroic some days. I have the natural gait of a toddler, who trips, then gets back up, determined to find steady feet somehow.

Before entering the Catholic Church, I only registered into my spiral bound paper planner those events which applied to the children's homeschooling schedules, or family birthdays/anniversaries. I've been less than excellent even tracking those dates. But, Lo! and behold! Now, I am trying to incorporate into my life a liturgical calendar and domestic church events.

It's January 12th, now. We're already nearly two weeks into a new calendar year, and the liturgical calendar switched on January 8th to ordinary time (green). I crave all the meaty theology and practices at once, but am only able to consume controlled portions of what seems second nature to so many cradle Catholics. Every new taste brightens my palate. Every new image lightens my hopes and dreams. I am in awe, even as I drag my heavy body through all the newness.

Catholicism is written in a different language than our pasts: it is ancient and strange sometimes, and we are ex-pats. I have experienced moments where my eyes glaze over, because it's been expected that I might be up-to-speed on 2000+ years of Church development, so I wanted to implore seasoned sisters to be patient with those of us who are fresh to the faith. Our longings are rich and true; but our vocabularies are weak, and we need you to come alongside with mercy. Thank you to the many women who do this well, so many of whom are, yourselves, converts.

I hope to explore in this blog the newness of Catholicism to any non-Catholic. Consider these thoughts as you talk with your unchurched friends, or those like me, who are at the bottom of a long growth curve.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Life; New Associations.

I stood shivering a little, (but not uncomfortable enough to leave the huddled group gathered outside in laughter), wondering at this new life we've been experiencing for almost three years. Every woman around me was an utter stranger to me until quite reccently, and yet, they are now among my favorite people. In our shared homeschooling adventures, and in our paths toward sanctity and holiness, we are raw with each other without shame or masks. We have dug deeply into each other's hearts many times already, and I am warmed by their presence in my life. Last night, I was literally warmed in their presence when one momma opened her shawl like a mother bird's wings, to gather a couple of us closer in December's gentle chill.

What is it about these Catholic women that causes our connections to feel deeper and richer to me than so many friendships I've had through the years? I believe the answer is found in the saving work of confession. We are not compelled to present our imperfect selves as perfectly formed at all, but accept graciously our own frailties, and eachothers', as truthful gifts. Have you been in churches where you thought you had to appear flawless before others? The burden of wearing that mask every week is heavy. Internal shame is given room to grow, when honesty is not welcome.

In the Catholic Church, there is always confession.

My teenager is struggling the most with this sacrament. "What is confession," he asks me, "What is its point? I just tell my troubles to Jesus."

I would never discourage any soul from unburdening before the Lord. Oh, yes! Please do so! But, I told my son, it is very difficult to hear Jesus's voice replying to your weeping. So, many who claim to hear him disagree with one another in what they claim to hear. The Lord "tells" one to form his own church, so he does. The Lord "affirms" for one that a divorce from her spouse is justified, so she does. The Lord supposedly keeps telling people in that silent place of their minds answers that conflict. How does one discern the Lord's voice from ego, or from the voice of the temptress? How does one discern the Lord's voice from a place of self-preservation, or self-loathing?

In the priest's kindly voice, I hear a consistent message. He acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), as Jesus speaks through him to my heart. I hear the audible representation of Jesus spoken through one dedicated to giving me a message consistent with the Scriptures, history, and the teachings of the Church. Man is not infallible. Priests are not infallible! But, in that secret closet, where he hears my wounded soul speak and compassionately addresses me as daughter, I hear the voice of Christ: "You are forgiven." He is sworn to never retell my story, at the cost of his own life, so I am freed to tell all, and breathe again. No secret remains in my heart, though I had been dragging along many for too many of my forty five years. The unleashing of my tongue face-to-face with my first confessor was not unlike a young child coming clean about a hidden discretion to his earthly father. I cannot say I opened up those dark places joyfully, but I knew it was good, and I knew I was safe.

Each of us has a different struggle--some one thing we cannot seem to undo in ourselves (or perhaps more than one thorn stuck in our sides), and we may certainly bear one another's burdens as travelers along the way, but have you ever had a moment when you thought you might be “over-sharing?” Have you wearied your friends from a repeated challenge or an unresolved sin? Can you imagine them parting from you & wondering when you'll clean up your act? This is how that internal shame or secrecy stretches its roots into us, preventing us from being further honest about our truest selves with others, for worries of losing our friends’ interest in our high-maintenance selves.

Thankfully, no priest will see you as a lost cause. No priest will see you as his worst case! No priest will grow weary of hearing from you. He will, instead, listen with mercy, and offer you grace.

When I spoke to Jesus, alone, before I met the sacrament of reconciliation in a closet, I would still beat myself up about those wretched behaviors that held me back. But, when I speak to a Father of the Church, I feel a great burden lift. I am not the worst; I am not alone. I am forgiven.

Of course, I knew myself forgiven in the past, but there is a certain personal coaching we must speak into our own mirrors when our conversation with Jesus is entirely silent. It's almost a personal affirmation, isn't it? And, those can sometimes be loaded with prideful flattery.

"I am OK," is an easy mantra, but we don't often follow it with, "You're OK" towards others, because we can still see faults in others from this place of listening to our own voices, alone. We can still struggle with unforgiveness of those who’ve offended or harmed us. “I am OK,” does not tell you the truth. You are a sinner in need of grace… every day.

Another voice we may hear ourselves repeat is, "I am forgiven." Of course you are! But, the rest of the statement from Christ when he walked among us was, "Now, go and sin no more." Do we remember to recall this to ourselves after we pray in silent earnest? Isn’t it simpler to see ourselves as Contemporary Christian Music sings—flawless? That is a problem, isn’t it--seeing ourselves as flawless? Of COURSE we are still flawed! This is why we need a Savior every single day, “till death do part us” from this earth.

In the confessional booth, we are offered actions we can take immediately to present our souls bare before the Lord, in an affirmation received from Christ's lips via the priest, not our own: "Now, make these changes. Make a new day. Be your best self for Christ's sake, and the sake of your soul's salvation.” When I walk away, and open the door for my sister in Christ, standing behind me to be honest with Jesus in the same booth, I participate in a true act of cleansing.

But, "He has washed me clean." Yes! Yes, he has! But you keep getting dirty! Would you stop brushing your teeth after your next annual check-up, and never think maintaining dental hygiene to be important again? Would you stop washing your hands or your body after one time under the water? No. Of course not. We return to confession as often as our souls are laid heavy again. We return for maintenance of good spiritual hygiene. We come to the Eucharist cleansed before Jesus, freely entering into communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ, unburdened.

Christ did die so you could be free—oh, yes, he did. We ought not treat that death so cheaply as to think that one 10-second prayer unites us with him perfectly forever. His grace is not cheap—it is participatory. So, at the evening’s Christmas celebration, surrounded by fellow sinners who I know have frequent full-disclosure accountability to a priest, I am my most free self ever. And, I thank God for this beautiful, true, and good change in my life!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A cautious return...

It appears I have not written a blog entry in ... FIVE YEARS!? How much has changed in YOUR life in that time? In mine... practically everything. The question now: do I print off this old blog, delete everything, and begin anew? Or, is history so relevant to my present that it ought to remain here, for posterity, and for reflection?

Today, I'll keep all simple. I'll start a new entry on a new day on an old blog. I am still a musing modern mom. I am still a lover of Jesus! I am still married, and I still have three children (God bless them for being raised under my shredded wings). But, in five years... !? Wow. Where do I even begin?

One simple statement: My family now practices our faith as Catholics.

At the tender and innocent (cough, cough, cough) age of 45, I entered the Catholic Church with my husband of 20 years, and our three children, just two springs ago. The journey to that moment was a winding, hilly, and complex one, to say the least. Over these past five years, I have been privileged to see my work published on new and different formats, including and CatholicStand. Now, I'm entering a new season of forming my thoughts afresh around a brand new base. I am a toddler in the Church. I am wobbly, and weak, and highly dependent on my dear sisters in the faith, many who are cradle Catholics, but more who are converts, like me.

Before my family entered the Church, I didn't know that many people did such a thing. I knew of one family man who'd entered the Catholic Church a few years into his marriage to a Catholic woman; I shared the singing stage with one woman who'd reverted to Catholicism after a long season as an Evangelical. I thought them anomalies. I wondered what could possibly compel them! Since entering the Church, however, I have been astounded by the population of on-fire Catholic converts. In our homeschool community, they may outnumber the lifetime Catholics.

Fascinating, and stunning, isn't it?

Today, I'll just begin there. Day-by-day I'll unpack what that means to me now--how does it change my prayer life? My parenting? My efforts to be the "best version of myself," as Matthew Kelly would encourage? In truth, over five years, everything has been altered. I am so grateful for that, and I am eager to take you on a brief tour of how I arrived where I am today.



Thursday, February 09, 2012

Toddler's joke...

Four of us gathered over soup & bread at the dining room table. Logan joyfully asked, "So, does anyone have a good joke for me?" Stephen excitedly raised his hand as high as he could & called out, "I oh, I oh!"

He's mostly non verbal, and now 27 months old.

We all gave him our fullest attention as he told us a very animated tale. It went something like this: "uh n' ah n' ah," as he gesticulated appropriately for skilled joke presentation.

His joke got a seriously colorful laugh out of his siblings & mom! Oh my, how my side hurt!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NoVA Endangered Species Club

I am thrilled to present the blog pages of our eldest child. He & his younger sister have a deep concern about animal welfare, and he has particularly taken an interest in the idea that some animal species might be wiped out of existence if not cared for by the earth's caretakers--we humans! The blog features activities of his local, self-originated Endangered Species Club.

For my husband and me this is a foundational proof that homeschooling is working for our son. He has an entrepreneurial spirit, and his leadership skills come forward well in this environment. He does not bully; he manages. This is a smart working space for character development in him.

Next up is a large project which requires many elements of coordination--a fundraising lemonade stand.

The rest of the details are on the blog.

Proud of him!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Charlotte Mason summed it up pretty well!

Charlotte Mason's Student Motto

Charlotte Mason created a motto for her students that is inspiring and thought provoking. We have written the words on our kitchen white board and have decided to make it our new mission statement for our family. We hope you enjoy the student motto as much as we have.

I am a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I am a person of great value because God made me.

I ought to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.

I will resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what's right, even if it's not what I want.

Charlotte Mason taught her students the motto I am, I ought, I can, I will. I am means that we can know ourselves and understand what we're really like. I ought means that we have a moral judge inside us that we feel we're subject to. It lets us know what our duty is and compels us to action. I can means that we have the ability to do what we feel is right. I will means that we resolve to do what our inner moral judge has urged us to do. These four thoughts make a perfect, beautiful chain.

I am sorry, cannot tell you where I got the wording for this. I found it in my digital notebook. No intent to break (c) rules whatsoever. I will credit it if/as soon as I find its source.

I gander he was a Michiganian

I am throwing away copious amounts of paperwork in my attempt to streamline the townhouse where we will most certainly continue to live for at least another year. It's 1000 square feet or so for 5 of us, and the children are growing! So, since leaving isn't yet an option, we have to make some more room for those long leggy kiddos--it means throwing away my piles...organizing the details...changing my ways!

In going through one pile I came across this fantastic little poem from the turn of the century:

There was a man in Michigan
A citizen of Lansing
Who used to pass his time, alas!
In frolicking and dancing.
As one could see, no goose was he
But still it was no slander
When folks would say, in spiteful way
He was a Michigander

Bloom's Baby Ballads Verse by James O'Dea (pictures by Harry Kennedy; hand-lettered by Chas. Costello)
Entertainment for Young & Old Replete with Seven Colors
A 34-page Picture Book of Humorous Jingles
Sol. Bloom, Publisher
54 Dearborn St., Chicago

Var Lachland Christian Academy

Well, we've named our school, and established a slogan, and we're starting lessons on Khan Academy now, so that I can track the kids' progress on the gorgeous Kahn learning tree. Loving it!!

Using parts of our last names we have created the school name Var Lachland. In German the Lachland part means Laughing Land. I'd like to be a laughing land. I invite that JOY to enter our home environment. Can we use the school name & slogan ("Where the correct answer is 'Yes! and Amen!'") to guide our direction? Can we establish some foundational goals for ourselves based on that, plus the idea that "'I can't' never did anything!"--the expression my Grandpa Smith instilled in me? I'd like to try. I think I need some solid guiding principles.

Now, for a scripture verse to support the rest.

Why is any of this necessary? It it just a matter of giving myself a frame around our school life--something that helps guide me, personally, on the days when I feel aimless.

Back soon with our Scripture. I'll pray that one makes itself clear--not just the standard "Train up a child in the way he should go..." I don't think. Something inspired & specific to Who We Are, and What We're Doing...

LEGO Club!

The kids have been featured on their LEGO club's blog page. So fun!!

Teagan! Featured @ Reston CC

Teagan is now front-and-center on the Reston CC homepage. Cute girls!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hands make Christmas

It's the eve of Christmas Eve and I cannot sleep. I'm evaluating & reflecting--have we done it right? Have we brought Advent to the heart of our children enough this year? Do they clearly understand who Jesus is, and why there is a celebration in December?

Should there be a celebration in December? The presents . . . given as a representation of love . . . of Jesus? I think it's a smidge confusing, as I try to package it. The magi brought gifts to the Savior baby, so we give gifts in memory of that? How does a Nerf gun, for example, or a Rubik's cube have anything to do with Emmanuel!? God with us!?

One Christmas the last package that arrived at our home was from Tom's grandparents--in it were four antique ornaments. Grandma and Grandpa had gone through their collection from 60 years of marriage and chosen to share the ornaments with all their children and grandchildren. Colorful & fragile, they touched my husband deeply. From those same grandparents, small, handmade crosses on stands for each great grandchild. Tom held the ones for our children and turned them over & over in his hands, saying this was what he was looking for at Christmastime.

So, we always handmake a part of our Christmas, with child-crafted gifts, hand stamped wrapping paper, or some other personalized touch to add humanity to the chaos of ribbons and boxes. As beautiful as it all is lain festively beneath the tree, I ask myself, what is this all about!?

And yet, we cannot seem to help ourselves as we try to share things we love with our children--things that we know will excite them. We anticipate that giddy enjoyment of uncovering the surprises personally chosen for them. They crawl on their hands & knees to read every tag, and make wild guesses at boxes' contents by shaking them, sizing them up, or thinking of the originating giver. What is this about, this massive swapping of gifts!?

It's a tidal wave, and no matter how much we try to erect a barricade, forward it tumbles onto the shores of our living rooms. Every year we sit back and stare at the presents after they are unwrapped and share a sigh of overindulgence not unlike the one released after an overfilling of Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. But, we are Americans, and this is what an American Christmas is.

It's too late for any of us to change Saturday morning's plans or slow the rushing water from every source, and I'm not trying to sound the Bah-Humbug bell, but I want to take a moment to applaud my dear friends who have seriously and intentionally taken on the Advent Conspiracy. I pledge to explore that more again next year . . . in September or October!

Trying to raise grateful children is not an easy task--Christmas morning can prove to work against those efforts if we are not careful. This year I am most excited to give my children their subscriptions to magazines that matter to them. My son wants to launch an Endangered Species Club of his peers, so I subscribed him to the Sierra Club. Teagan loves animals and wants to either be a farmer, a zookeeper or a veterinarian, so I subscribed her to the National Audubon Society.

Yes, I know, those mags are aimed at adults. We will read them together and they will be stored, not allowed to roam each room where they'll end up under throw rugs or on the back of the toilet for "necessary" reading. What I'm talking about is feeding their passions and helping them find their ways in this life. It's elemental to their education, and to their growth, I think. Hopefully, this feeds the meaning of Christmas a bit--the Jeremiah 29:11 part.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The other thing I do consistently is purchase ornaments, symbolic of the nativity in some way, from fair trade organizations like Ten Thousand Villages. As they unwrap images of Jesus, Mary, or the nativity, I expect that these things, delicate in their hands, will reinforce the biblical lessons we try to lead all year.

But, I'll always ask myself on the days immediately preceding and following The Big Day: have we laid this out right? Are we bringing them the lessons they need to be honorable citizens of the world, community and family? Are they learning to love & serve our Savior this way?

I will keep questioning, keep reshaping, and keep hoping that all our best efforts with our children will not spoil them like a bad fish that's been left too long on the counter. Please, Lord, may my children only ever live with a pleasing fragrance--may their lives serve as an incense of praise! May Christmas teach them about you!!

Heavenly Father, most of all we are grateful for this season when we can pause and contemplate what you did for us! Having this period on the calendar forces the issue and we are blessed with the reminder that not only did you die on the cross and rise again, but that you started as a flailing and naked baby, born from a woman, wrapped in swaddling clothes. How this is possible is beyond me, but I'll forever thank you!! Merry Christmas, Jesus!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Spirit

"Little Drummer Boy" played overhead as I stretched to reach the top shelf of the refrigerated section for a jug of apple cider. Suddenly I found myself keenly aware of the lyrics, and the irony of their play in this place.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum

Others bustled about me in layers of warmth, also reaching high and low for this or that, all in the same vein--with lists in hand; all with one same purpose--to accommodate guests. Most seemed fully unaware of the songstress' background voice.

A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum

I couldn't help myself--humming wasn't enough, I had to sing out!

Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum

I confess, I was overcome with this sense that Christ brings more to us than Himself at this time of year. I would venture to guess that many--if not most--of the shoes shuffling past others today don't belong to Believers in Jesus as Savior of their souls, but for a few days every year, despite religious affiliation (or none at all) the world shuffles to prepare a place.

To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum

The very Christmas after the September 11th attacks on our nation I drove solo from Virginia to Kentucky to spend Christmas with my father. We hadn't been together over ham or hymns for years, if ever, and the divide between us was vast. But the state of the nation and the spirit of Christmas blended in such a way that I felt compelled to bridge the abyss. It is still one of the most memorable Christmases of my life.

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

I was the Unforgiving Servant when it came to righteous indignation about my dad, and all I judged him to be or not to be. In 2001, however, I stretched to reach the top shelf of the meaning of God's grace and forgiveness, and there I found joy and peace. I recall how Dad and I both found ourselves weeping in the candlelight service at a welcoming Methodist church as "Silent Night" filled the air. We sang until our voices cracked and we couldn't sing any more.

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum, When we come.

And that, I think, is the "more" that Christmas brings--as a holiday/a season/a day, even. First there was a virgin and a promise. There was an unexpected pregnancy and an unexpected adventure. There was a manger, there were shepherds, there was the star. First there were the astronomers--wise men--magi, and there was a jealous king. There was threat of death, and departure for safety. There was that baby--that confounding and miraculous birth.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum

In that flesh, and in those hands and feet, God made Himself more known to the world than He ever had before. He was no longer distant. He was no longer quite so mysterious--and yet, more so! He was warm, and He loved. He was both firstborn and a second Adam. He was the Promise.

It has been a long year for our family--longer than a year. We have struggled, but we have been buoyed by community, by others' thoughtfulness, and by the creative gifts of our loving God. When we wondered how we might pay a bill, someone stepped in with an unexpected means. When we had desires and hopes, there were those who anticipated our needs. In all of our married life, my husband and I have never seen the Lord in flesh as we have this year. He has been personal, and warm. He has held our hands through the hands of His people, and He has loved.

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum

Standing there in Trader Joe's today, listening to "Little Drummer Boy," I sang out--and I got misty. Jesus came for each of the people scurrying around the store--even as they scurried. None knelt before him then but shepherds--and the angels who were all present. Here, in the back aisle by the coffee samples, I may have been the only shepherd; but the angels were present, and I felt them. Mothers in America have invited their lost children to the supper table for Christmas Eve and daughters have packed their cars to drive cross-country to heal broken relationships with their fathers for Christmas Day. Sisters, friends, brothers, enemies--everyone tends to be moved in some emotional way by the lights and the chorus. There is expectation (and often disappointment because of that expectation)--there is power in Christmas that somehow moves with or without an acknowledgment of Jesus' part.

I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum

After all, scientists have studied the ancient writings, star maps and legends to pinpoint his birth more likely in April than December, anyway; the Christmas tree was nothing the Apostles ever dreamed of; there were not shopping malls and carols, no sleighs of horses, or Christian saints to discuss in the early church--in fact, there were barely buildings to meet in at all. Christ is, with or without Christmas. And, it seems, Christmas is, with or without Christ. There is a spirit of Christ's joy that permeates the air regardless of a belief in Him. To me, this seems like a very good thing. Decorations glow and shine and dress up otherwise tacky lawns (or make them tackier), and somehow, whether people praise Him or not, He is praised!

That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

Finally, I listened to the crux of the song--this poor boy played his best, and that was his gift for the King. Gold, frankincense or myrrh were not required. His music wasn't wrapped, but it was presented with an attitude of gratitude, and this is how we ought to live every day. In every very action I ought to be giving my best for Christ. In every movement of my body I ought to be praising him! I grumble about my jobs. I resent some of the things he asks me to do. Don't you? But poor or not, play your best! Bring what you do have before the King of Kings. Your gift is seen for all that it is and none of what it is not. On Christmas, as they give their best to others, Christ is served even by those who do not know Him, who deny Him, or worse, work against Him! The Holy Spirit was present at the grocery store today. THAT is Christmas.

Make it a joyful one! Merry Christmas.

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Last Time I Saw You...

Teagan was asleep beside me, where she'd fallen, quite exhausted, last night. Daddy chose the couch so she & I could cuddle in the queen size bed. Her hair was all over her face as she began to wake, and I stroked her face. She popped up and said, "Hey! Last time I saw you were..." (something I have now forgotten). It was the way she started her sentence, "Hey!" that caused me to respond.

"Hey! Last time I saw you you had hair in your face!"

Then she said, "Last time I saw you, your eyes were closed."

And I retorted, "Well, the last time I saw you, you were zonked!"

We went on for about 15 minutes coming up with one funnier thing after another. It was a blast! I highly recommend this new game we just made up--it's likely to become part of our morning routine & family culture now. Just start thinking of things you might actually say to someone you haven't seen in a long time.

"Last time I saw you was at our high school reunion!"

"Last time I saw you, you just barely made your plane!"

"Last time I saw you, you were covered in clown makeup." were pregnant! were in labor!

...there was a torrential downpour. were being chased by that bear!!

HA HA! The possibilities are endless! It's great for catching someone off-guard when they appear to need something fun to do--like waiting in line; driving on a long trip somewhere; just waking up . . . The application is also universal.

Well, it's a new one for us. I'm looking forward to being surprised around the corner by my sweet girl's funny answers.

"Hey! Last time I saw you, you were fully naked!"

"Last time I saw you, you had just been born!"

"Last time I saw you, you were bald!"

"Last time I saw you was at your wedding!"

These are some that we exchanged this morning. You could add the element we started to add at the end--the answers have to come quickly, and cannot be repeats. The game ends after you lose three points (points can be lost when the player takes too long to respond, repeats something the other player said, or uses something crass that seems inappropriate).

"Wow! Last time I saw you, you were only 6 years old!"

"Last time I saw you, we were on safari in Africa!"

"The last time I saw you, you were dressed like an orangutan!"

"Oh! The last time I saw you was at the hospital, getting stiches!"

Oh, and one last rule, it's even better if you choose something you're not actually doing at the time. The funnier & more imaginative, the longer the game will last.

"The last time I saw you, you were lifting off in that hot air balloon!"

"The last time I saw you, your boat was sinking!"

"The last time I saw you, you were blogging after midnight..."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tic Tac Toe...with emphasis

This afternoon I demonstrated for Teagan some of the string games I learned as a child --"witches broom" (AKA bananas, fishing spear or janitor's keys), cat's cradle, a couple of slip string tricks (like hand catch), and more. She was enthralled, took the old, green, yarn loop from me while I loaded another pile of laundry into the wash, & immediately transferred what she'd learned to string play with her feet! Instead of trying to create the web of Jacob's ladder, she laced the string around her big toes & began pulling it this way & that, creating new shapes & calling out to me, "Look, Mamma! It's a party hat!"

The yarn loop broke under the pressure of one yank after another twist & pull. Teagan asked me, "Can you knot this for me, Mamma?" To which I of course answered, "I can knot!" We giggled because she got the "cannot/can knot" homonym joke.

Then, as she played with her feet & string a bit more, lying on her back on my bed, she again called out to me, "Mamma! Look, I made Tic Tac Toe."

When I looked, sure enough, she'd created a perfect little crisscross between fingers & toes that precisely resembled the board of the famous boredom-busting pen & paper game. Better, yet, Teagan made another joke:

"Yeah. Let's call this Tic Tac TOE!"


That girl! She kills me with her quick wit! Yes, Teagan. That is authentically a Tic Tac TOE board.

(This picture, below, was a reenactment; the crisscross was difficult for her to reproduce.)