Saturday, October 31, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

she stepped in a fire
ant bed and began to
scream as the ants
bit her feet and
ankles thirty times

but she learned
a valuable lesson-
wear tennis shoes
when you go

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Fun

Every year we go to the Pumpkin patch put on by a local church as a fundraiser. The pumpkins might cost a little bit more than at the grocery store, but there is a huge selection and the money goes to a good cause. This year we found lots of cool spots to take pictures. These photos were taken a few weeks ago. Now it is too cold to wear shorts (such is the life in southeast Texas- next week we will probably be in shorts again).

This year there was a bounce house/moonwalk at the pumpkin patch. The kids had fun jumping in that. Below you can see Mr. K is having to correct Nicholas, who was bouncing a little too excitedly and knocking some of the wee ones down.Nicholas proudly shows his pumpkin off. Our youngest is all boy, that's for sure!

The kids are posing in their costumes. Andrew is Harry Potter. He also has a tie and glasses, but did not feel like messing with them for a picture. Katie, as you can tell, is a bumblebee. Nicholas is a GI Joe ninja here, but our neighbor also got him a "vampire pirate" costume. We will have to decide which one Nick will dress up in tomorrow. I will let you know. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do You See What I See?

These pictures were taken Saturday when we picked Ms. Angelle's ashes up from the funeral home and brought them to Anna's house. In the top picture, the children are posing on the stairs. Andrew is Ms. Angelle's godson and in the bottom picture, you can see him in the mirror's reflection, along with our family picture beside the blue bag that contains Anna's ashes. She wanted the ashes placed in the big urn and set beside the smaller one, which contains her husband's remains.
I would LOVE feedback on these photos... especially since I want to know if you see what I see and if we think the same thing. Talk to me!
In Remembrance of You
by Laurie Kolp

I made banana bread today and
my thoughts were consumed with
you and the joy on your face
I saw each time I brought over
the fresh and warm, right-out-of-
the-oven-bread. Tears filled
my eyes as I contemplated our
time together and accepted the
truth that you were gone forever,
(but the memories will live on
forever). So I sat with a cup
of coffee and ate a slice of
your favorite banana bread
for you,
because of you,
in remembrance of you,
and I smiled.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Don't Do Mourning Well

I don't do "mourning" well. I guess I am too much of a sentimental sap. With that being said, you can probably surmise that I am missing Ms. Angelle. I feel like I am walking around with a lump in my throat, a load on my shoulders. You see, I am being selfish. Instead of remembering how miserable Ms. Angelle was and all the pain she was in, I am thinking about how I did not get a chance to say goodbye and how I will be crying in the banana bread the next time I make it (I always took some of the bread to her- she loved it).

I find myself thinking about all the things I will miss doing with Ms. Angelle, like going shopping, or out to eat, or visiting over coffee and laughing about shoes. I think about all the doctor's visits and waiting patiently when she was impatient. I will never forget the stories she told me, like how she poured her coffee in a plant when her neighbor came over one day because she didn't want her friend to think she had started coffee without her. And the time she took the razor out at Walgreen's and started shaving her face to see if the razor worked was priceless.

I will miss all of this and more because I don't do mourning well. At least I saw Mary the day before she died. I hadn't seen Ms. Angelle in a week and a half. Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

by Laurie Kolp

The boy pulls and pulls
watching the circle grow,
wonderment filling his eyes
as he tries to push the limit
until suddenly
there is a loud POP,
and the startled boy
smarts to this surprise.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grandma On the Go

Carol Weishampel is not only a writing colleague of mine, but a good friend too. We met at a writer's group meeting a couple of years ago and then proceeded to take two continuing education writing classes together. We will be conducting a joint book signing at Barnes & Noble in Beaumont on November 7, 2009. I am very lucky to know such a wonderful woman. Please read this informative interview I did with Carol:

Tell us about yourself and the books you have written.
I'm a retired teacher who was a trainer for the New Jersey Writing Project in Texas which got me motivated. By then all but one of my 12 kids were grown and flown. After retiring as a Christian school administrator, I drove the Alaskan Highway to celebrate my 60th birthday, taking notes with a tape recorder and in a journal. On my return I actively turned those notes into my first book, "Grandma's on the Go", published in 2004.
This was followed in 2005 by "Adopting Darrell" about my son who is blind and profoundly retarded due to child abuse. 2006 "Grandma's Ultimate Road Trip, Texas to Alaska" chronicles my first two trips to volunteer in Alaska. My brother and I transcribed our great grandfather's journal that was kept during the Civil War. "Journal; John F. Weishampel" was published in 2007.

Which book has been the most challenging for you to write? Why?
The above are all non-fiction. The most challenging was "A Venture in Faith, a Road Trip to Recovery" published in 2009. This Women's Christian fiction is based on personal experiences, but the challenge was to create a believable story line that took my heroine from Texas to Alaska.

What or who is your inspiration for writing?
The New Jersey Writing Project teacher training course gave me the skills and incentive to "get it on paper!"
Presently my writing critique groups and other writers I meet along the way inspire me to keep on.

What is your favorite thing about book signings?
I enjoy meeting people with similar interests. At a recent summer signing I talked with a woman about "Adopting Darrell". She was bi-polar and shared with me the discrimination she experienced from family and society. RVers love to share their adventures. Civil War buffs engage me with historical tidbits.
I often have a "writer wanna-be" ask loaded questions.

Do you have any books you are working on now?
I have a completed Christian fiction manuscript, and am working on a sequel to "A Venture in Faith" tentatively titled "Have Grand-kids Will Travel, Texas to Alaska." I'm also working on an illustrated children's book, "Loon's Necklace".

Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring authors?
Follow your passions, find a support or critique group, and get it on paper!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Please read my article in the I am now the Early Childhood Education Examiner and will be writing articles on early childhood and education. Click here to read. Thanks- I appreciate you.

My New Endeavor

I have great news! I am now officially the "Houston Early Childhood Education Examiner." This means I have a writing job and I get to write about what I love- teaching. I get paid according to how many hits I get, so please put on your favorites. You can read my article by clicking here. Tell all your friends about it, too. I appreciate you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

RIP Ms. Angelle

I am saddened to inform you that Ms. Anna Belle Angelle passed away yesterday, October 20, 2009. Pete tried to reach Ms. Angelle several times yesterday after work and got no answer, so he went to check on her last night and found her sitting in her favorite chair dead. He immediately called 911 and began CPR. Pete rode over to the hospital with her, where they did everything they could, but it was her time to go. Anna is now with her husband and out of pain. I hope she knows how much we loved her and will miss her. I loved going to Golden Corral with her and loading her plate up with eight ears of corn to take home. I loved taking her to Sams and pushing a wheelchair cart and regular cart precariously at the same time. I love how she called her car a "zoom zoom" and her diuretic a "pissing pill." I adored sitting and listening to her tell stories, or going through her shoes and laughing about the feathery, black high-heeled ones from Fredrick's of Hollywood (which she said Pete would enjoy, with a chuckle). I loved how she would just take off her shirt if she got hot. I enjoyed taking her to the doctors and listening to her chew them out for something she did not like. She's ninety-four, so she had a right to do all that.

Pete and the charge nurse called Ms. Angelle's daughter (who lives 90 miles from here, need I remind you) and this is what she said:

"Can you handle this? I won't be able to get there until this weekend."

I don't know about you, but if my mom had just died, I would drop everything I was doing and haul ass, no matter how far away I lived. GRR. I guess this is why Ms. Angelle called her only child a "fat bitch."
I have regrets like not going by her house this past week and our last conversation (which was the day before she died) not going well because Ms. Angelle thought I was a nurse from a doctor's office calling and the conversation was not nice. Hopefully she now knows how much she was loved.
So remember to enjoy your loved ones each day. You never know when God is going to call them home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meet Heather

Heather Buckley is a very talented lady. I met her through a poetry group we both belong to. Not only does Heather write beautiful poetry, but she also creates magnificent art. You can view and order some of Heather's blessing rocks, jewlery and wine glasses on her diverse website, Heather's Art Shop.
I had an opportunity to interview Heather recently. Below you will find that Heather's words radiate with the energy that comes from someone who loves what they do. Heather really never does run out of ideas. I know she will do well in her new business venture. Please support her by checking out her website.
ME: Tell us about yourself.

HEATHER: I was born in Houston , Texas . I’ve always been “artsy” and never totally focused in one direction. I try to stay fluid and go with the flow of creativity. I work in many different mediums, tile mosaic, glass-on-glass, canvas, blessing rocks, home design, and more . . . I haven’t reached my “medium-limit” yet so perhaps that tells you what you need to know about me. I’m learning, living, loving, creating, and exploring with the intent to create works that make this world a better place through positive energy.

ME: What inspires you?

HEATHER: I am inspired by so many things . . . trees, birds, music, lights, sound, people, texture, food . . . I never know what will send me into my next phase of creativity. The one thing I try to do is stay “open” to ideas and possibilities and let it go from there. The inspirations are endless.

ME: How long have you been writing poetry and designing art?

HEATHER: I created my first cartoon strip at the age of three and have never looked back.

ME: What is the biggest challenge you face creating art?

HEATHER: My biggest challenge isn’t with creating . . . I’d have to say that my challenge is with marketing. I LIVE to create. My mind is constantly coming up with new ideas and I’m inspired by so many things, elements, and people. I create because my soul tells me that I must. Putting a price on creativity is my “challenge.”

ME: What are you working on now?

HEATHER: I’m working on establishing myself as an E-Commerce business on the Web. Creating my own website has been challenging but rewarding in the same respect. I’d much rather focus on the “art” of the matter than the business side of things.
I wish Heather the best of luck in everything she does. She is a true inspiration. Let her work inspire you, too!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Body Ain’t Twenty No More
by Laurie Kolp

Left…left…left, right, left
My feet hurt
Shoes too tight
Can barely walk
From the left to the right

A “pump bump”
Can’t beat the fight
Of Achilles’ wrath
From the left to the right

Ice pack
One, two
Heating pad
Three, four
Arthritis rub
One, two, three, four- OH, NO

(Back to the chair)

Introducing Chef Katie

Ever since she was a little girl, Katie has loved to cook. I remember how at the young age of three, sweet Katie would watch me cook with a deep look of wonderment and fascination in her eyes. I would let her help me make various things by allowing her to pour the sugar into the bowl, help stir or shower sprinkles on a cake. By the time Katie was four, she was helping me bake pumpkin pie and doing more and more. That Christmas she got an Easy-Bake oven. We experimented with that thing and tried out all the not-so-yummy treats. But Katie learned a lot about measuring and hot ovens. As the years have flown, Katie has begun cooking more and more; even attempting dinner a few times successfully.
The other day, Nicholas brought home this cute book from school, "Cook-A-Doodle-Do. We read it one night before bed and he begged for me to make the strawberry shortcake, using the recipe in the back. Guess who helped him make it? You guessed it- Katie! Together, they made this wonderful dessert. Katie patiently showed him how to measure and stir; all the things she had learned at a young age. I really enjoyed watching Katie and Nicholas in the kitchen...and we all enjoyed eating this scrumptious delight.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Wonderful Review

I just wanted to share this wonderful review of "Christmas Miracles" on Amazon. If you are interested in buying one, please make sure you get the book with Cecile Murphy and Marley Gibson as there is another book titled Christmas Miracles out there.

Pam Cabrera (Plymouth, MA USA) - I LOVE this book. The author, Marley Gibson is a friend, which is how I first became aware of the book. When she told me of the concept I got excited and have been eagerly waiting for it to come out. When I received it, I dove right in and it was even more moving than I expected it to be. What makes this book so special? This is a collection of true stories, of 'miracles' that happened to ordinary people around the holidays, which brought them closer to God, and made them truly appreciate the meaning of Christmas. I laughed and cried more than once as I made my way through the stories here. This book offers hope during a time that is darker than usual for many people. The stories are inspirational and each one offers a unique perspective and affirms that there is something else out there, something wonderful and beautiful and good. This book offers comfort and warmth and good cheer and I plan to purchase multiple copies to give as Christmas gifts to people I care about and who can benefit from the uplifting stories in this book.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Christmas Has Come

Well, The Big Day was yesterday and I must admit I felt like a child waiting for Christmas, I was so excited. Mr. K and I rushed to Barnes and Noble after dropping the kids off at school, but the store wasn't even opened yet. I was disappointed and my adorable husband must have noticed because although I told him he could go on to work (we had taken two cars), he showed up at Wal-Mart to share in my elation. I was so surprised to see him. We walked right to the book section and guess what? The book wasn't there! Again, disappointment. Pete went on to work and I did some shopping at Wal-Mart to kill some time before Barnes and Noble opened. Shopping always cheers me up. I finally got to B and N and found the nice display of books by the religion and spirituality section. I bought a book and went home to read. There are so many heartwarming, gut-wrenching, feel good stories in this awesome book! I feel so privileged to be a part of it.

Last night, I had a writer's guild meeting at B and N and told my writing buddies about the book. Many went to buy Christmas Miracles after the meeting and it had sold out. I went to the public relations lady to notify her that I was in the story and that they had sold out. When she checked her computer, I was so saddened to find out that store had only ordered four copies...and they weren't going to get any more! I was able to convince her to order some so I could have a book signing, but I was also disappointed that the store had treated this precious, adorable book so poorly. If anyone is interested in a book (a great Christmas present), you can notify me or order it on-line at Amazon. Simply click on the icon located the top right side of this blog. Hopefully bigger cities received more copies. Until the next time, happy reading!

by Laurie Kolp

the spider works diligently
on his intricate web
in our front yard
no wind or rain
can destroy his
beautiful, perfect design
a funny looking spider
like no other I have
ever seen so
I take my rake
and separate, unravel
the scary spider’s abode
I justify to myself
that I am protecting
my home as I destroy another
acting like a tornado
jumping around and screaming
not wanting
my dear, precious children
to get tangled in his web
or get bitten
although they are quite
intrigued by the whole affair
there is nothing
stopping this
determined arachnid
who wove a bigger, better
design for living
unwilling to let go
of his perfect Eden
in our yard, by our home
I can’t really
blame him for that

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dirty Laundry
by Laurie Kolp

family secrets
swept under the bed
categorical denial
change the subject
forget about the problem
everything looks fine
on the surface,
but inside the doors
hearts cry out in
wishing to talk
to anyone
but too afraid
to air the
dirty laundry

Monday, October 12, 2009

Andrew Is So True

Andrew is my sweet son. He is always so caring and thoughtful. Quiet and pensive, Drew seems to take in everything going on around him without much of a reaction. Yet he always lets me know he is aware of what is going on. For instance, I have Achilles tendonitis in both of my ankles due to an injury from running too much and too hard. My sweet son is the one who will ask me how they are doing. He will sit and rub my feet, being careful not to touch the wrong spots or squeeze too hard.
Tonight before bed this is a conversation we had:
“Andrew, honey, I am so proud of you for being YOU,” I said. We had parent conferences today and he is doing so well. We had been talking about his straight A's.
“Thank you, Mom. I am proud of you, too.”
“Really? Why?”
“For being such a great mom and taking such good care of us and the house, for cooking us meals and washing our clothes. Just everything!” Andrew said.
Those words nearly brought me to tears. Andrew is like that. I guess because he is the middle child, he tries not to make waves. But he is so perceptive and wise for his age. He understands why people do certain things in this big world around him. I am so grateful that God gave Andrew to us. My prayer is that we do God's will raising him. We are trying!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

One Day
by Laurie Kolp

One day
there will be
no one barging in
while I am trying
to take a shower,
or waking up
at seven on a
Saturday morning
to a pair of eyes
hovering over
me in the dark;
no sounds of joy
from children
on Christmas morn,
or millions of
excuses why not
to go to church;
no more tried
and failed recipes
for vegetables,
or dishing out
money left and right
for numerous school
gone will be the
days I feel like
a taxi cab running
back and forth
between activities,
and playing nurse,
maid, cook and tutor.

I will miss these
good ole days.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Three More Days...

I am so excited that "Christmas Miracles" will be released in three days! Below is part of an interview between Cecil Murphy and Marley Gibson, the authors who spearheaded this miraculous endeaver, sent to me by the agent behind this wonderful book:

I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.

Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.

Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.

Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.

Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.

Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)

Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?

Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.

Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, I want to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it.

Marley: Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?

Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.

Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?

Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.

Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) All of the stories in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.

Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Conversation With My Youngest

This morning, Nicholas and I had a very interesting (to say the least) conversation I'd like to share with you.

"Mom, I forgot to tell you something when I was inside your tummy," said Nicholas.

"REALLY? What's that?" I asked.

"Weeellll, I'm, uh... from a different planet."

"Your kidding! Where?"

"I'm from Mars," Nicholas answered.

I smile. "Wow- tell me about it."

"'s red...and there's no water and no food."

"What did you eat then?"

"Sometimes we had to eat," he whispers, "people in our tribe."

"OOH, that's gross!" I gasped.

"But, the alien tigers tasted better," he decided.

At this point of the conversation, Andrew walked in.

"So, what did you drink when you were on Mars?" I asked.

Andrew gets this look of curiosity mixed with disdain on his big brother face. Nicholas looks at him.

"Oh, I was only kidding," he says as he walks away.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hurry, Hurry~ Please Don't Wait!

You know what rattles my chain? When schools refuse to test children for dyslexia until they are in the third grade. That is so wrong, and unfortunately it all boils down to money. The schools don't have the money to train the teachers, so the kids have to wait, while in the meantime the poor children start failing and losing their self-esteem. When I was the dyslexia specialist for a local school district, I did everything in my power to assure that each dyslexic child got the proper education they deserved. I also learned through my education as a reading specialist that children need early intervention so the problem can get better. If you wait until they are in second, third or fourth grade, the students have that much more to catch up on, putting them further behind. The child gets frustrated and shuts down. Discipline problems rise and they begin to hate school. So, parents out there, if you think your child may be dyslexic or is having trouble reading, please get him/her some outside testing and help before it is too late.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Ring
by Laurie Kolp

She is ninety-four-years-old
And her memory is fading
Gone is the beautiful ring
Her husband gave her
All those years ago
She had the ring on
The other day and
Now has no clue where
The one last thing
She has from her
Fifty-year marriage
Since cancer took
Her husband long ago
Could have gone
But she can remember
Her wedding day-
Cake, flowers, dancing
Friends and family
By her side
A joy she holds onto
When she looks at
The ring
She searches for hours
Retracing her steps
Checking all her pockets
And going through the garbage
Her weary, tired body
Eventually tells her
To call it a day
As she goes to
Brush her teeth
She finds the ring
In the box of
Baking soda
Over the sink
She smiles
As she brushes
Her teeth and
Then looks up
And says
“I love you”
I thank God for my handicaps, for through them I have found myself, my work, and my God.
~Helen Keller

If Helen Keller can be thankful for her difficulties, I surely must find gratitude for mine, for God guides me through the darkness of life and helps me find the light of my gifts IF I LET HIM.
by Laurie Kolp

Pardon me if I seem
A little irritable
I am justifiably so
The other day I hurt
Myself while running
And continued to go
I damaged my Achilles tendons
Both ankles hurt like hell
Making it hard to walk
So now I sit at home
All day on heat or ice
Only able to read, write or talk

Pardon me if I seem
A little irritable
This is not my usual way
To sit at home
And do nothing
Must be a small price to pay
For my old belief
Of “no pain, no gain”
I kept on jogging
While my ankles hurt
Ignoring the horrendous pain
Now instead of being
high from running
I am low because of
Being so stupid

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Excellent Read

Have you ever read a book that moves you so much that you want to jump on the rooftops and yell to the world to read that book? I consider myself an avid reader, but it has been awhile since I have felt that way about a book. Until I read the notable The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. Wow. This piece of fiction is phenomenal. It is the tale of three sisters’ lives and how one tragic childhood event controls their destiny, which includes darkness and death at times. I have read some of Hoffman’s books before and she has a unique voice that sets her apart from most authors. Her style has paved her way to fame as a selection for one of Oprah’s Book Club novels in Here On Earth. Another of her books has been made into a well-known movie, Practical Magic. The first book I ever read of Hoffman’s was The Ice Queen, a deep, provocative tale of the after-effects of someone who has been struck by lightning. The Story Sisters is my favorite (at least until I read the next one. If you want to read an epic that includes some mysterious elements, inner turmoil and conflict and is all about forgiveness and loyalty, then you really should read this excellent novel.

How Many Kids Do I Really Have?

Sometimes I think I have six children instead of three because of our two dogs and Ms. Angelle. Don't get me wrong. I love my friendship with Ms. Angelle. It's just that she has gotten very needy lately, as any almost ninety-five-year-old would. Poor thing can barely walk, yet she is too stubborn to get a walker to help her around her two-story, ten bedroom and three car garage house. Since her daughter, who lives only ninety miles away, can never find the time to visit her mother, Mr. K and I feel we need to check on her almost everyday. I take her shopping (wheel her around Sams and try to manuever the big items as well) and to doctor's appointments, although we haven't been in a while and need to go. Yesterday I took Ms. Angelle some banana bread and she was feeling very poorly. I think I might have cheered her up, though, because we ended up going through all her shoes and she gave me a lot of them. Some have never been worn and some are worn out, but how could I say no? She delighted in the joy of watching me try on each pair and parade around for her. I had felt a little weary about going over to her house but was so glad I did.

The dogs are like kids, too. Yesterday when I got home from visiting Ms. Angelle, two huge pieces of wood had been ripped off the back of our house and drug to the back door. When Mr. K got home, I told him I was sure Snowy did it (of course, since Jake is basically my dog, and Snowy is his). He defensively replied that he thought Jake did it. How dare he? My dog is a perfect angel. At least he was until mischievous Snowy showed up! The other day, Mr. K made a sandwich and then left it on the counter for a few minutes. When he got back to eat it, nothing was there. The napkin was on the floor and BOTH the dogs were looking at him with their big sweet eyes and innocently wagging their tails. Yet, Pete had to blame it on Jake. Just like kids, the dogs get in trouble together. Only Katie, Andrew and Nicholas don't seem to cause as much trouble as Snowy and Jake (thank you dear Jesus). Actually, I think that the dogs are more like children and our kids are more like...responsible Kolps. Hopefully it will stay that way.
What Does Love Mean?
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:
"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca- age 8
"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4
"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5
"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6
"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4
"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7
"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8
"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)
"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)
"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle - age 7
"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6
"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore." Cindy - age 8
"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6
"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine-age 5
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7
"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day" Mary Ann -age 4
"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4
"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." (what an image) Karen - age 7
"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross." Mark - age 6
"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget." Jessica - age 8
The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

Love the Lord your God. Love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your your neighbor as you love yourself. ~Luke 10:27

Sunday, October 4, 2009

To Be Capable

Those children who have learned to conquer their problems are more secure than those who have never faced them. Our task as parents, therefore, is not to eliminate every challenge for our children; it is to serve as a confident ally to help them through.
~Dr. James Dobson, "Hide or Seek," p. 79

I read the above this morning and it reminded me of a lengthy class I took while teaching in The Woodlands. The class was called "Developing Capable People" and those of us taking the training met several Fridays for three hours at our school while a substitute taught our class. That is how strongly our principal felt about this concept. We all received a book, which I still own today and had Mr. K read, too (although he already felt that way), entitled, "Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World." We were also given a cute t-shirt that says "I AM Capable" with stick-figure kids on it. I was single at the time and had no children, so it was very easy for me to grasp the concept that was being taught and apply it in the classroom and to silently criticize the parents who did everything for their children. The whole pretext of the program was to allow children to do things on their own, such as making lunches or completing lengthy school projects and let them learn from their mistakes. For example, a child who accidentally leaves his/her coat at home will be sure to remember it the next time if mom or dad doesn't run it up to the school and the child has to suffer through recess without the jacket. The same goes with homework, lunches, etc. The authors of this book and program(Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelson) show how parents and educators can "teach children to be responsible and self-reliant, not through fear and intimidation, but through the maturity of feeling accountable to one's own commitments (inner-directed behavior)."

Now that I am a mother of three elementary school-aged children, I sometimes find myself wanting to be like those parents I used to criticize for doing everything for their children. I often have to bight my tongue to refrain myself from doing that. As a result, Andrew's phone number and address will not be in this year's student directory because HE did not turn the form in on time. And Katie might not get school pictures because SHE left her order form in her desk too long. They are disappointed, but guess what? I can almost guarantee that won't happen next time for either one of them. I'm proud of the teachers they have, too. They expect the kids to be responsible and if they aren't, there are consequences. For example, one of the kids had their homework in their backpack, not in their binder, and when it was time to turn it in the teacher didn't allow kids to get it from their backpacks- the work should be in their binder. So the kids who didn't have their homework where it belonged missed half of recess. And my poor child had spent hours on the homework that wasn't accepted. Part of me wanted to march up to the school and demand a conference with the teacher, but I let it go. Hopefully, next time they'll remember to put the homework where it belongs. This is how it works!

I believe this "conditioning" works as children hit the teen-age years, also (at least I'm hoping). Parents should not enable their children or bail them out of trouble all the time. How would they ever learn and grow? Hopefully when I get to that stage, I'll have the tenacity to step back and let my kids learn from their mistakes. This definitely doesn't come easy for this mother, but with Mr. K's help, I hope to stand strong.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Channel to God
by Laurie Kolp

laughing, crying can cause tears
water purifies, cleanses the soul
so why must I fret over hogwash
when the cistern is my bowl

a conduit between God and me
cleanses my every thought
if I keep my channel pure
desperation, I have naught

Slow Down

I can be such an extreme person. For example, the last time I blogged I shared my gratitude with you, but within the hour, I found myself feeling less than grateful. You see, Mr. K was out of town for the day and so I had to get Katie, Drew and Nicholas up, fed, and ready for school by myself. Then I had to get them to school in time so I could get back and go for my daily run and have a shower before a 9:30 meeting I wanted to attend. Whew~ that tires my out just thinking about the tight schedule I always seem to put myself on. Anyway, as we were on our way to school (having left later than usual), a car nearly ran into us as it was backing out of its driveway, so I had to honk. Then we got behind a tractor going ten miles per hour on a two-lane residential street. I had to pass it when I got the chance. But the final straw that broke my serenity was when we got to the carpool line and I was waiting to drop the kids off. I let a tiny, wee little gap get in between the car in front of me and our car and an obnoxious DAD cut right in front of us! Boy, was I hot. As the kids got out, I told them I would really like to go and say something to him, but I wouldn't because that is not what God would want me to do. Then I kissed them goodbye and wished them a wonderful day with a smile on my face. But when I got out of the school parking lot, I zoomed behind that rude dad and tailed him, while flashing my brights at him. Shame on me. I pulled my baseball cap down so he wouldn't see me and then we went separate ways. When I finally was able to run, I started to feel guilty about my behavior, so I prayed the Serenity Prayer and asked God to forgive me. I also asked God if I could just start the day over from then. And guess what? My day went better, except that I strained both of my ankles running too much. That is another extreme of mine~ either I don't exercise at all, or I exercise excessively. I always think that because I used to run five miles a day (ten years ago) that running three miles a day is moderate. But I forget that I need to WORK up to that and I don't have to run EVERYDAY. So now, I am hobbling around, alternating ice packs between my ankles and wishing I knew how to be a little less extreme. Maybe God is trying to tell me something, like SLOW DOWN! Today, I can...but who knows what tomorrow will bring. Weekends with three busy kids can get hectic. Wish me luck!