A Walk in the Park

Our daughters joined me for a walk in the park last evening. Oklahoma summers are really warm this time of year so we wait until the hour before sunset and set off on the trail of one of our favorite parks in town.

It’s a simple thing to do and it costs absolutely nothing, but the gains seem at this moment in my life to be immeasurable. There are certainly the health benefits that are important and I know that, but the conversation and lack of distractions and unplugging of technology while we are on the trail together are exceptional.

We don’t always share deep thoughts or even talk, but the point is we can and we do. We have each other’s undivided attention in a way that I cannot find in most every other area of our lives.

Over the years, a walk in the park has helped us mend some fences, share some funny stories, laugh, sing, talk and listen to each other and the world around us. It reconnects us and it gives our little group a shared path to take and a finish line to help each other reach.

It is truly a walk in the park.

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Baby Frederico, Poet!

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*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story (or book review or movie) from our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…Shel Silverstein.  Here is something entirely new:

It happened once many years ago

that there was a little green reptile by the name of Frederico.

His family called him Baby and there was even a lady

who once pulled his big toe.

Instead of a cry, he let out a giggle.

It was the kind of giggle that would make you wiggle,

and smile and laugh and giggle some more.

He often took naps with his grandpa (who would snore)

and he lived in the country with pets galore.

He had two chickens, two kittens, and a horse.

There was even a little black puppy named Charlie, of course.

His Momma was Italian and his Papa from Mexico

And together the three would learn to grow and grow

Into one happy family by the name of Frederico.

 Yes, that’s right.  It did happen once many years ago!

There was indeed a little green reptile.  His name?  Baby Frederico.

‘Cranberry Easter’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

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* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

 

Today’s great book: Cranberry Easter by Wende and Harry Devlin (1990, Aladdin Books)

The Authors’ FUN Website:  http://www.harryandwendedevlin.com/

Time to Read: we read it just before bed

Summary:  from the website…”Mr. Whiskers realizes something must be done, but what? Just when things look their worst, his young friend Maggie comes up with a plan that may save the egg hunt, and convince Seth that Cranberryport is the place for him after all!”

Best Quote from the Book:  “Suffering codfish, Seth, these old folks are all alone.  Somebody’s got to help.  They need you!”

Our View:  I am especially fascinated right now by what I like to call “kind-hearted books.”  If there were ever a book that had kind-hearted characters in it, this would be the one – actually, the entire Cranberry series introduces us to a wonderful group of people.  There is something special and rare about a children’s book that does not speak down to children and does not create only child characters, but instead offers a story that brings generations together and instills a respect and wonder for those around us. The illustrations are colorful and interesting and will easily capture the attention of children of all ages.  From a sense of community to a sense of humor, Cranberry Easter weaves a tale of family and friends that will strike a familiar and hopeful chord with its readers.

Recipe Alert:  This series also includes a great cranberry recipe in the back of each book!

 

Inconsiderate Beasts

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Our 14-year old and her friend Britni were talking in the backseat of our car the other night. We were on our way to eat pizza and the conversation between them was lively and loud and funny, especially after it turned to the subject of “inconsiderate beasts.”

You read that right…inconsiderate beasts. What a phrase! I loved it from the moment Britni told us its meaning. She said that anytime she encounters a particularly rude person she thinks of them as “inconsiderate beasts.”

When she said those words together it immediately struck me as interesting and one of the best phrases I’ve heard that describes, well, inconsiderate beasts…these people with whom we work and play that have no consideration for anyone but themselves.

It reminds me of how important it is to make our home a “No Inconsiderate Beasts Allowed” kind of home. Everything we say and do has consequences among the people who live under our roof.

Where there is grace and patience and kindness and care and help and a humble respect, there are no inconsiderate beasts.

It is a place where home can be a refuge.

It is a place where home can be a home.

It is a place where there are no “inconsiderate beasts.”

Reading for One

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I am so glad we were invited to a family birthday party for Greyson Moore. He’s a little boy who just turned one year old. Full of energy and curiosity and happy with the kind of smile that makes you somehow feel better about life in general, we really enjoyed this party.

As his mom and dad set the many presents around him at the center of the living room floor, we all gathered to watch him enjoy this “toy extravaganza” rite of passage. What happened next though really surprised me.  His mother could barely get him to unwrap the gifts because he was so intrigued with each of the birthday cards!

What surprises me is that I was actually one of the adults who had suggested that buying a birthday card for a one-year old is surely nothing more than a Hallmark scheme.  I was wrong and I was intrigued to see this little boy so entranced with holding these cards in his hands just like he was holding a book, and acting as though he was reading them.

Here’s what I’m thinking – Greyson has a family who not only reads to him but reads to themselves.  He is watching and learning how to hold a book, how to look at a book, and eventually he will find that reading a book is as natural as walking and talking.

So here’s to books and birthdays and big families and (I can’t believe I am about to type this) Hallmark cards for toddlers!

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P.S. As I was finishing up this post late last week, my wife’s good friend sent us a photo of her little girl, Alleeah (a little more than a year old) who had been “reading to herself” in her crib that morning.  I love people who read before they can read!!!

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Man Finds Phone

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”                                                                                                          - George Moore

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Books Welcome

I lost my phone yesterday!  I know – doesn’t it make you cringe at the mere thought of it?  I got in my jeep after work and headed home, and when I arrived there it was gone.  Maybe it was somewhere at my office or, horror of horrors, I had somehow dropped it in the parking lot as I was getting in my car. I worried about it on and off throughout the evening and then awoke ready to get to work and that parking lot, just in case.  I arrived early, but there was nothing there, not a smashed phone in the parking lot nor a lonely phone setting on a desk in the office.  I searched the world over and couldn’t imagine where I had left it. Where could it be?

And then it suddenly hit me, what if the phone was IN MY CAR?  What if it had simply slipped off the passenger seat and lodged itself somewhere between the seat and the door or maybe it was under the seat in one of those hard-to-reach spots?  I ran to the car and there it was, lying peacefully under the seat right next to a Sonic peppermint candy and two mechanical pencils.  I had searched everywhere for the thing I needed, the one thing I thought was lost or at least misplaced.  And there it was, in the one place it was supposed to be.

I have done this way too often in my life with things more important than a phone, jumped to the conclusion that surely what I need is further away from me than it is nearer to me.  That’s why I wish I could meet the man who wrote this quote, “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”  Something worse than losing his phone must have happened to compel him to compose such a profound sentence.  His singular sentence speaks to me and reminds me and convicts me.

No wonder the mat outside our front door says, “Welcome.”

9 Brains are Better than 1

Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (as he sees all the brains in Dr. Necessiter’s lab): “I’ve never seen so many brains out of their heads before! I feel like a kid in a candy store.”

- The Man with Two Brains (1983)

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I was never much of an invention-minded boy growing up, but that has completely changed now that I have children.  There is rarely a year that goes by in our daughters’ educational journey that doesn’t require that we put our heads together and come up with something creative and/or innovative – whether it be an erupting volcano, a launching rocket, a creative topic for an essay, or a hundred other school-themed ideas that are all set to expand their developing vision and grow their maturing brain…which brings me to the story of our most recent and very own family brain-academy-around-the-kitchen-table experience in which we were determined to build a slick air-powered water bottle with compact discs for wheels.

At our house, the one middle school constant (beyond the normal crowded hallways, remembering of locker combinations, cafeteria dramas, and excessive homework) has been this anxiety-provoking assignment to create a fully air-powered vehicle that will travel straight ahead and go no less than 15 feet.  Sure, the internet makes this assignment much less problematic, but we agreed to refuse to look up anything about it and forge ahead to see what we might create.

As she worked through this process of invention, our daughter decided that it would be interesting to invite as many family members to join her around our kitchen table (grandfathers and grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers, cousins, parents, sisters, you name it)…for a meeting of the minds to tackle this particular project.

We ended up with a house full of brains and a kitchen table full of ideas and crafty objects of all kinds, but all deciding that in the end it would be entirely up to our daughter to choose from the best ideas among them and build the final grade-worthy car.The final result was super and our daughter passed with flying colors, making it nearly 18 feet with her balloon-powered water bottle and straws and chopsticks and cd-for-wheels car.

But the best part – the best part – was that spontaneous meeting of the minds.  Everyone laughed and talked and debated and offered their wisdom in the project, and that made it worth the whole thing.

Have you ever visited a science lab?  There are no one-room offices with one person working away on a project; there are a dozen people in a big room all working together.  So why let your kids do some assignments (especially those that allow for a large measure of creativity and invention) by themselves when you can offer them an extra set of ears and hands and thoughts and…brains?  Why sit idly by when you can be creating a moment with them and then watching them thrill at the victory that might come?

I’ll never forget sitting among these generations of people around this kitchen table tackling such a problem.  The noise and the thinking and the telling and the wondering – they get an A+ in my book. Once again, I am learning that it is the process of the learning that matters far more than the product of the learning.  Who knows?  This kind of cooperation among us just might come in handy for even bigger things someday.

And the dad exclaimed, “I’ve never seen so many brains…”