Sunday, September 16, 2018

Up, Up and Away!

Friday afternoon I took Liam to the Hot Air Balloon Glow (which was to take place at dusk) in Forest Park. We arrived at 3:30 p.m. to beat the crowds, but parking close was impossible.  It was a very long, hot (90 degrees) walk along winding, gravel paths, that all looked the same. I couldn't imagine how I would find my way back to my car in the dark.

By evening there were thousands of people on Art Hill and throughout the park relaxing on lawn chairs, blankets, and having picnics. But Liam never relaxes!

 He also has never met a stranger. He thinks everyone is his friend, and he asked the kids next to us to play tag and hide and seek with him. I am old and experienced. I brought food, beverages, bug spray, and I packed a wet wash cloth in a zip loc bag. We sure put that to good use.
 About 5:00 p.m. the balloon owners started pulling in and unloading their balloons onto sloping Art Hill, in front of the St. Louis Art Museum, where generations of kids have sledded in winter.

 We went right up to the fence so he could watch the balloons slowly inflate bigger than a house. Liam was so excited and exhausted from running all around. At 6:30 he asked to leave. So we headed back down the gravel paths and across foot bridges. I told him he would miss seeing the balloons glow when they illuminated them all at one time. He said he was too tired.

As we crossed the last bridge, one of the balloons lit up. He was as thrilled as I was. It took us an hour to get out of the park, because at 7:00 people were still arriving enmasse. When we pulled out into traffic we caught a glimpse through the trees of all the balloons glowing. Even though we did not stay until 9:30 for the fireworks display, we still had a thrill!

I told him the balloons would lay flat on the ground overnight, and on Saturday afternoon at 4:15 they would have the fox and hound race. All balloons would inflate again. One balloon would lift off, then fifteen minutes later, all the others would fill the sky as they chased it. He so wanted to watch them, but unfortunately I told him we would not be able to go, because his parents were picking him up at 5:00 p.m.

Liam woke me up at 6:30 talking to himself about the Balloon Glow. When his mom and dad came to pick him up, he was excited to tell them all about it. As they put him into the car seat, I yelled for them to let him out of the car. Off in the distance, the hot air balloons were drifting directly toward us. Liam was one happy little boy. Wind changed their predicted route and they came East instead of West... just for Liam.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Compelled to do SOMEthing

The Feelings Flag by Linda O'Connell

published in Chicken Soup for the Soul The Spirit of America, 2016

I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the first of the Twin Towers. I thought, what an horrific accident. I felt terrible for the people on that plane, and for those in the World Trade Center building. I did not realize that the horror had only just begun.
I turned on my car radio on my way to work and listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had made impact.

I arrived at school a few minutes later. No one was quite sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you hear about the plane crashes in NY?"
The gravity of the situation -America was under attack- was like a punch in the gut. We all felt winded, worried, and wounded.

My preschool classroom was in the lower level of an inner city middle school. What I remember most is the panicked young man in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at war!"

"Calm down," I said. "Don't jump to conclusions. Nobody knows for sure what's going on. This does not mean WAR."

They insisted they saw it on TV and that military jets were intercepting other planes.

I walked into my classroom, and watched as my students went about their school day, unaware of the attacks, I knew they were okay. My aide, Amy, was capable, so I left her in charge.

I felt compelled to do something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension and confusion the middle school students were feeling, although I was not in charge of any of them. I cut twelve-inch by two-inch strips of red, white and blue construction paper into strips, the kinds  kids use to create paper chains. I did not consult the principal or counselor. I acted on impulse. I visited each classroom and intruded on each classroom teacher. I asked each if might have a moment, then I said, "Nobody knows exactly what is going on. We've all heard rumors and news reports. It's a frightening time for all of us."

 I passed out strips of paper to the students and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment. Any fears, any words— anything would be acceptable. Some asked about spelling, and some asked if they should sign it.

"If you want to," I said.

I collected more than 200 strips and rolled them into  loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I read an outpouring of emotional comments. "I am afraid." "I want to kick their behinds." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

I posted one after another, row after row, until an American flag took shape. Some of the comments were laced with misspelled words and profanity; some were smeared with tears. I did not censor. I stapled every single one. I stood back and admired that "feelings flag".

At lunch I stood against the wall and observed teens and preteens, who were usually destructive with bulletin board displays, as they searched for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, owning their emotions, giving voice to their fears and frustrations, initiating conversations.

On that horrible day, when America came under attack, I didn't know if my actions would do any good. It just felt good to do something. 

My friend Tammy said, "With that spontaneous action, you gave children a voice when no one knew what to say."

The bulletin board flag stayed up for more than  a week. Then the strips began disappearing as individuals claimed their sections... and their feelings.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Nature at its best and worst

Did your curiosity ever get the better of you? And were you able to conquer a fear?
We've seen cicadas flying about lately. Liam and I found a live cicada on the ground. 

 I picked it up and asked if he wanted to hold it. At first he said, "NO!" Then he saw it crawling in my hand and asked, "Will it bite?" I assured him it would not, so he asked to hold it. He was thrilled.
"Wow, Nana, his legs are spikey." He meant, sticky. I explained they are sticky so the cicada can cling to trees and other things. I told him he might find cicada shells on trees, as they shed them and emerge anew. Sort of like when a caterpillar leaves its "old clothes" in the cocoon and comes out a butterfly with wings.

At the park he told everyone the cicadas were going to leave their old clothes on trees. He and his little buddies searched the trees for cicada "clothes," but he found a painted rock, instead. Science and nature in your own backyard. Sometimes folks are in a big hurry and don't slow down long enough to discover the little things.

Are you trying new things? If you are a writer, are you considering a new genre or submitting to new venues? I have been stretching my wings, and waiting for a response from five publications. Waiting is the hard part. Writing is easy. Read about a hurricane at the link below. Click on this safe link to read my latest story in Sasee Magazine. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Seek and you shall find?

Does it ever feel like you're searching in the dark? The scope of your vision is limited? No matter where you shine your light you cannot locate the elusive?

Well that's how it's been all day here. I have a self-imposed rule of 5-7. If I do not send off that many submissions per month, I am upset with myself and have no one else to blame. Well, as you know, the end of the month is imminent and I have been writing, revising, seeking markets, searching high and low for paying markets.

Just when I spotlight a market perfect for my submission, I find in small print there is a service fee of at least $3.00. Or the deadline was last night at midnight. Worse case I had all the blanks filled in on Submittable when a header popped up stating they were NOW closed for submissions, had received enough material. ARGH!

On a good note, I have submitted six pieces, and one more day to seek and find. By the way, those Seek and Find word books give me a headache. LOL

Chicken Soup for the Soul has extended their deadline for Grandparent Stories and I think also Mom Knows Best.

Friday, August 24, 2018

But-but-but butt...

Charlie is three weeks old.
At first, all he did was snooze and eat, but now Charlie is awake and alert more, and he is interested in people and his surroundings.

Liam started preschool/daycare two days a week and is making an adjustment, but he is so tired.

Alex is changing in appearance as he is getting his top teeth. He is quite miserable but oh so cute.

Bill has been going to physical therapy for sciatica pain in his lower back and leg. He completed his morning floor exercises and walked down the hall rubbing his rear end.

I asked, "What's wrong? Are you in pain?"

"No," he said,  "I'm just feeling to see if I'm developing a Kardashian butt."

Friday, August 17, 2018

I'm not in diapers, YET!

Instead of posting more photos of my "great" boys, I am going to talk about how life is a great big circle. You start out in life like baby Charlie, toothless, completely helpless, totally dependent, and in the end, you're right back to square one. In the beginning and at the end you have difficulty walking just like Alex. Hubby is at therapy right now.

Alex is learning to walk, giving it his best effort like Paw-paw... both holding onto things for support.  He's cutting top teeth, one is his incisor. Hubby just got rid of a tooth he's had for 7 decades!

I'm thinking specifically about myself, though. When I was a baby I wore cloth diapers which my dad dunked in the toilet, and my mom washed out and hung on the clothes line with wooden clothes pins because there weren't dryers back then. I imagine those diapers were a bit scratchy, but can't say I remember. I wore rubber pants over my diapers. Not leak proof by any means, but better than nothing.

When my kids came along in the '70s, I vowed to cut something out of the grocery list if necessary, in order to afford Pampers. Disposal diapers were the newest baby product along with the Playtex Nurser, with "a nipple just like mother herself."

Now with environmental awareness, many moms are back to using cloth diapers. And most moms these days provide breast milk, an elixir for newborns.

Everything seems to complete a circle. I am not in diapers (yet) but I am back to wearing rubber-like pants. I just finished hand washing and hanging my stretchy black Capris and jeans made of Lycra and spandex, almost feel like rubber when I wash them.

You knew I couldn't resist. Here are the Three Musketeers.

 Liam discovered a small waterfall in the park and was launching rocks down the "rapids." His vocabulary is superior to most four-year-olds, and he talks ALL the time.

Alex couldn't decide on a carrot for teething or his bottle. He babbles ALL the time.

 Charlie, at two and half weeks smiles and responds to voices. We have three talkers. Pity their mom and dad. They all have blue eyes, but different hues of blue.

I've been babysitting Liam and Alex  a few days each week since their mama came home, thus my absence. Thank you for reading my posts. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

What 's your load?

Here's to motherhood!

Liam has a cold; Alex is teething, getting his top teeth all at once; Charlie eats every hour or two, and mama has had little sleep. Thank goodness for grandmas! I will be spending my days this week with Ashley and the boys. My daughter was her support system this weekend. Women need women as friends, confidants, and helping hands. Embrace the chaos. It will pass.

I call them Sneezy, Teethy, Pee-pee, and Weepy, but shhh! don't tell my granddaughter, Nana's girl. Life can pile up on you, take you on a ride you didn't expect. Life is unpredictable. One thing at a time! 

You may feel overwhelmed, too. If you are a writer, you may feel like you are being pulled in all directions. You have an idea or a thought, and you just don't have the time to jot it down, much less develop it. By the time you do have the time and try to recapture it, poof! Vanished.

There are times when you will feel like giving up or giving in, but believe in yourself, and KNOW THIS TOO SHALL PASS! Take one thing at a time. "Chunk it" we teachers used to say when there was so much to do and so little time to do it. A little at a time, or you will burn out. 

Whether it's your work load or your wash load, you can get through it if you do a little at a time. Don't be afraid to reach out.