Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who Will Buy This Wonderful Morning!

Last night we went with friends to see "Oliver" on stage at the Forest Theater in Carmel. Excellent acting and singing, along with pleasant weather and good company, made for a wonderful evening. I love sitting under the trees, as the sun goes down and the stars begin to twinkle. Can you catch the peak of the moon behind one large clump of branches toward the top of this photo? They have strict no photography rules, so I had to turn my camera off before the moon was in full view against a darker sky.

Several years ago we lived just a few doors down from the open-air theater. In the summer, in between our own visits to the theater, we would open our windows and listen to the music. It has been an annual tradition for our family to go to at least one play each summer ever since. You have to "pack" for the Forest Theater:

- Munchies and Drinks (check) ~ unless you opt for a chocolate chip cookies and hot apple cider at the concession stand instead! Many bring full blown wicker hampers with wine, cheese, fruit - the works.
- Warm coats for after the sun goes down (check)
- Cushions for your back and tush so you don't get too tired on the wooden bench style seating(check)
- Blanket to put over your lap when it is especially chilly or the fog rolls in (check)
- Flashlight so you can see your way back through the dark, winding Carmel streets when the play is over (check)

Of course, the words to the music play through our heads all the way home....

Consider yourself at home
Consider yourself one of the family
We've taken to you so strong
It's clear we're going to get along!

That song has always made me feel upbeat, but I really enjoyed the words to this song which I didn't know until last night....

Who will buy this wonderful morning.
Such a sky you never did see
Who will tie it up with a ribbon
And put it in a box for me.

So I could see it at my leisure
Whenever things go wrong
And I could keep it as a treasure
To last my whole life long.

Lovely thought!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gratitude Journals

Work has been a wee bit more stressful this school year. Lots of changes, more responsibility, unanswered questions prohibiting me from completing tasks....

Yesterday on the drive home from work I reminded myself that I could either focus on the things that were frustrating OR I could focus on the things that are wonderful in my life.

So how serendipitous to come across this YouTube Gratitude Challenge tonight!

Check out if you feel so inclined. There is a calendar full of journal ideas, a pledge to sign to solidify your commitment to taking note of life's blessings, links to other participants' blogs, and more. I've kept gratitude journals off and on for years now, and they do help you keep life in perspective.

Now I'm off to enjoy the comfort of my warm home, eat food that is plentiful in my cupboards, and talk to a loved one on the phone -- things so many people in this country and around the world can not do. God's blessings abound.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

If You Give a Therapist a Book...

Have you heard of the children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Well, the mouse will then want a glass of milk to go with it.... and then he'll need a straw to drink the milk. And on the story goes, exhausting the boy who gave the mouse the cookie to begin with.

Quite by accident, I realized I'm creating my own dangerous version. I decided to revisit some classic children's books ("Good Night, Moon", "Mama, Do You Love Me?", "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", to name just a few) and use them in therapy. So I went to eBay to see if I could pick up some used editions. There I happened upon some "visual aids" to go along with the stories.

Wouldn't my students love it if I had the little Eskimo doll that went with the "Mama, Do You Love Me?" book? Or how about taking turns holding the fuzzy caterpillar stuffed animal while I read the "Hungry Caterpillar" story? Oh, and there was a nice flannel board set of colorful animals for "Brown Bear, Brown Bear".

But wait! Some clever teacher made some picture cards to accompany some stories. So after reading the story, the children can practice their recall and sequencing skills by putting the pictures in the correct order.

Oh, someone else took it a step further! This person made an entire literacy kit. So not only do you have the Caterpillar book, but finger puppets and coloring pages of butterflies to go with it.


If you give a therapist a book, she'll want a visual aid to go along with it.... and then she'll want sequencing cards so the children can retell the story, and then she'll remember that they can practice their artistic skills with coloring pages....

Perhaps I should just stick with the books.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Left My Heart....

I love San Francisco! Fortunately it is only 90 minutes away. Here are some photos I took while there a couple weeks ago....

City Hall is beautiful, proudly carrying its gold trimmed crown. A bridal party was coming down the steps when we walked past it later.

A magnificent building near City Hall:
An interesting statue -- I intend to read more about it.... In the background you can see the advertisement for "Wicked", the play my friend and I saw while there.
My favorite time of day is dusk, and here you can see the San Francisco Bay fog rolling in, shrouding the apex of the Transamerican Pyramid. Typical summer weather -- sunny days, foggy evenings and mornings. This is not a great picture, as I had to hurry with the shot while in the midst of traffic at a stoplight.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ewww, That Smell!

It has been five days since Frosty's curiosity resulted in a dose of skunk spray on his shoulder. The odor still lingers. We had been sitting in the family room, when I first smelled eau de skunk outside. I told Ashley, "We better bring the dogs in -- I smell a skunk." Too late! They came bounding in from the backyard, the odor stronger with Frosty's entrance. It was then that Ashley noticed the lovely yellow spot on his shoulder. In high gear, Ash handed me cans of tomato soup (no tomato juice on hand) which I frantically poured over him. Meanwhile she called my friend Lynn for her special de-skunk recipe. I continued bathing Frosty (lost track of how many times) while Ash drove to the drug store for the ingredients: 1/3 hydrogen peroxide, 1/3 baking soda, and 1/3 Dawn detergent. She mixed the concoction and Frosty received two more baths with that. Fans were set into motion, scented candles lit, windows and doors opened. At least we could stand to be in the house again. The next day she took him to the groomers for their special skunk-be-gone bath and the groomer told me I was the second call in an hour asking for it. Apparently "the skunks are bad this year".

We had our carpets cleaned and deodorized yesterday. They needed it anyway, but this ordeal prompted faster action. I noticed Frosty smelled bad again yesterday and wonder if the skunks are still around the yard and he is sniffing where they have been. Once again I bathed him. Poor little guy is getting a complex.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summertime at Dad's

Life's riches moments can be made up of the simplest joys when you spend them with people you love. Here are a few photos representing how my sisters, daughters, father and I spent our time together at his house this summer.

In high spirits we celebrated Ashley's college graduation,
and a few nights later Linda's and Dad's birthdays.
Determined to conquer despite our time constraints,
this was one of the challenging puzzles we managed to put together....

Enjoying the beauty of the nearby college campus,
we visited the waterfalls and walked the track in the evenings

United in love and remembrance,
we took flowers to the cemetery where my mother and brother are buried....

Bees in Your Meter

We've heard of bees in your bonnet -- but bees in your meter?! While staying with Dad in July the water meter man stopped by to announce he was unable to lift the metal lid of Dad's in-ground water meter because there appeared to be a swarm of bees entering it. The meter man said he would send someone to get rid of them. When I went back two weeks later, the water company still hadn't sent anyone out, so Dad decided to take matters into his own hands.

No, these are not pancakes from my kitchen -- they are honeycombs!
By some miracle, no one was stung.

In the Moment

Oh my.... September already and I haven't posted anything worthwhile in so long, in fact I haven't posted at all in much too long. Confession -- I was caught up in the fast-paced, jot it down abbreviated style of Facebook. Meanwhile my soul was whispering, "Time for some reflection, some soft writing, some from your heart revelations." So here I am. Heart connected to hands, fingertips poised over the keyboard....

It was a hang-on-to-your hats summer. Dad had emergency pacemaker surgery. I flew down to be with him and there were many poignant moments when memories flooded back, and I wondered how did I get where I am, why do things have to change, where am I going now? Washing dishes at his kitchen sink and looking out on his backyard, laying in bed staring at the ceiling fan in the house I grew up in, hearing the same familiar screen door shut when he went out for his morning paper.... Somehow when we get older those "in the moment" recordings don't occur as often. Is it just me, or does everyone feel they have to make more of an effort to record those snapshots of life?

Two weeks after that I was back at Dad's again -- this time for the little reunion my sisters and I have once a year. We take turns having it at each other's house or finding a vacation spot. This year we went to Dad's and cleaned, helped him pick out paint and carpet for his house, made sure he was obeying doctor's orders and not overdoing it. Saw friends we hadn't seen in a long time, put together puzzles, and caught up with the craziness of what "really" goes on in our lives.

The time always goes too fast. We come home and roll out another school year (we all work in education). September is here, and I feel as out of practice writing my blog journal here as a child who has been at summer camp and once again faces a blank page and a freshly sharpened pencil.