Anne of Green Gables is my Bosom Friend

I recently re-read Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.” I first read it when I was twelve, again at 14, then again at 16. I have watched the PBS movie many times since, but it had been twenty-two years since I had read it last. That is a lifetime ago! I have been struggling to find out who I am again after all my children are now in school full-time and there is no children to stay at home with me.

I thought I needed to get a formal education. You can read more about that here. (http://bit.ly/2BS8eWs) However, I have realized you can learn so much from reading and I love this classic book.

A few facts about the book I did not know before, Maud wrote the book while she was looking after her sick grandmother in 1906. It was first published in 1908 by L,C. Page & Company. Maud had published many poems and short stories before but this was her first novel. Maud’s mother passed when she was young (like Anne’s) and her father moved several provinces away.  Maud was raised by her maternal grandparents who were very strict and did not have time to show any love or affection on a little girl.

Anne has always appealed to me because she is a dreamer. As a child, I also lived in my own dreamworld. I loved to pick up anything from toothbrushes, markers, or silverware and they suddenly had names, friends, family, and stories. I know that in fifth grade when I didn’t have any friends, my imaginative friends became very important to me.  As I read the book in sixth grade through all of my awkwardness as I was trying to figure out who I was, it was comforting to read about a character that was also always making mistakes but learning and growing as I was. I also struggled to find any good friends. I had a few acquaintances at school, but as I entered seventh grade, I became more  confident in myself and my ability to make friends.  Eventually, I found a “bosom” friend like Anne’s Diana in an amazing girl but that is a story for another time.

As a writer, I admired Montgomery’s writing style. Her descriptions are poetic and her characters are certainly memorable. From the first moment in the book we know who Rachel Lynde is. Montomgery writes

“not even a brook could urn past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum. She would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores if anything was odd or out of place.” 

It is descriptive, yet short. The reader knows Rachel Lynde is. I love the word “ferreting” Montgomery uses. I had to look it up. Ferreting is “to drive out of a lurking place as a ferret does the rabbit”  or “searching tenaciously for and find something.”

I love the imagery of Rachel Lynde as a ferret trying to dig up any information about the townspeople of Avonlea.  Montgomery says Lynde was “capable of managing her affairs and those of others.”

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Patricia Hamilton portrays Rachel Lynde in 1985 version of “Anne of Green Gables”

We see shy Matthew Cuthbert leave dressed in his best suit with the sorrel mare and buggy. Rachel says she “won’t get a minute’s peace until she knows” what Matthew is up to.  Already we wonder what is Matthew doing and where is he doing?

Rachel must know what is going on so she goes to see Marilla, Matthew’s sister.  As she walks down the lane to the Cuthbert’s place set back from the road Montgomery writes, “living in a house away from the road was not living at all for Rachel.”

There are so many wonderful descriptions and characters in “Anne of Green Gables.” I could go on and on, but I think tomorrow I will discuss Marilla and her character arch through the story.

So good-bye my kindred spirits until tomorrow when the sun, the moon, and the stars endure.

 

 

Applying a Lesson from ‘Anne of Green Gables’ in My life

As I was reading “Anne of Green Gables,” a part stuck out to me. It is not included in the movies because I think producers chose to take it out afraid that its contents would offend someone.

In Anne’s first few days at Green Gables, Marilla asks her to go upstairs and retrieve her card with a prayer on it so she could memorize it.  Anne has been a long time and Marilla comes to find her standing on the stairs looking at the picture of “Christ Blessing Little Children” hanging on the wall.

Anne imagined she was one of the children.

“I was the little girl in the blue dress standing off by herself.  She looks lonely and sad.  She crept shyly, hoping Christ would notice her. He would look at her and put His hand on her hair and oh, such a thrill of joy as would run over her!” (p. 56)

I love the imagery of this! Dear Anne had felt unwanted since she was a baby. Her parents died of fevers when she was just three months old, then a neighbor took her in until she was eight. Then she went to another home where the woman had three sets of twins all under the age of six.  She looked after them for three years until she was finally to the orphanage in Nova Scotia. Her story tugs on your heart strings. You feel sad for the little girl who had not known love.  I love that she felt drawn to the painting and could imagine herself in the photo.

I feel it is a lesson for me and important that I do the same. I need to picture myself standing next to Jesus Christ. I believe he will put his arms around me and hug me and “such a thrill will run over me.”   I do believe in Jesus Christ. I do know that He came to earth and suffered for my sins, but also for my “physical pains and anguish, my weaknesses and shortcomings, my fears and frustrations, my disappointments and discouragement, my regrets and remorse, my despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities I experience, and the emotional distresses that beset me.” (Elder David A. Bednar,  “Bear up Their Burdens with Ease”, Ensign, May, 2014.)

I know this is true.

 

Are you more like Marilla or Anne?

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Colleen Dewhurst stars as Marilla Cuthbert in the 1985 movie version of Anne of Green Gables.

As I talked about in a previous post, I have been going through a bit of a midlife crisis the last six months. If you missed that post, you can read it here.

In October, I noticed that an entrepreneur, author, and counselor, Carol Tuttle made her program “Dressing Your Truth” free for everyone. The course is the idea that a person should dress according to their natural personality or “nature.”  It is very interesting. The program suggests clothing, hair, and accessories for Tuttle’s four personality “types.” They are Type 1-animated, upward, Type 2- soft and subtle, Type 3- edgy and driven, Type 4- bold and analytical. You can find the course here.

I took the course two years ago and decided I was a Type 3, very similar to Marilla Cuthbert’s personality in “Anne of Green Gables.” We are first introduced to Marilla from the point of view of Rachel Lynde. Rachel walks down the lone lane to Green Gables. It is hidden by many trees. Rachel says “living in a house away from the road was not living at all.” However, we see that Marilla likes her privacy.  Rachel notices how the lawn is clear of any debris and notes how Marilla spends hours raking the yard.

When Rachel meets Marilla. Montgomery describes her as “tall, and thin with  angles and not curves.  She wore her hair in a hard knot at the back of her head with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it.”

We know right away that Marilla neat, orderly, and likes to have control. As Marilla watch Rachel approach, she thinks “sunshine is too dancing and irresponsible a thing for a world which is meant to be taken seriously.”

Little does she know that in a few hours her brother will bring home a little redheaded full of sunshine and life.

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Megan Follows as Anne of Green Gables in 1985 PBS movie.

We know Anne is vivacious and quirky from the moment she greets Matthew at the White Sands train station. She says, “I figured if you didn’t come for me tonight that I would crawl up and sleep in the cherry tree. It would be so romantic to sleep in a cherry tree all silvery in the moonlight, don’t you think?”  She talks the whole way to Green Gables and names common place things like an orchard “The White Way of Delight” and a pond “The Lake of Shining Waters.” We know by the time she gets to Green Gables that Matthew is completely won over and there is going to major conflict with Marilla.

I believe that I was more like “Anne” as a child. When I took the “Dressing Your Truth” course again in October, I decided I IMG_4727 was a “Type 1.” Animated and spunky,  constantly singing, pretending I was a heroine from my favorite story with my friends, or drawing pictures. I was happy “as a bird” my mother would say. In fact, she called me “Kare-Bear” because she thought I was sweet like the Care bears on television. (Wasn’t I a cute girl? I mean look at that yellow, fun, animated shirt!)

As I grew, I became more of a “Marilla.”  One night, I saw my mother crying in the kitchen. My brothers and I had scarfed down dinner then scattered, leaving her to clean up the mess. She begged me to stay with her and help dry the dishes. I didn’t want to at first, but I wanted her to be happy so I stayed. After that day, I never wanted to see my mother weeping again on account of me. However, I went above and beyond what was needed and forced myself to grow up too quickly.

I’ve never made it back to that “care free” person I was and I want to be. I tried to be the “perfect daughter” then I tried to be the “perfect student,” and eventually the “perfect wife and mother.”  Over time, I have shoved unrealistic expectations for myself like Marilla stuffed the long hairpins into her bun. It is time that I loosen my hair and find that animated, happy girl that I knows lives deep inside me.

I recently bought a songbook to a musical I love. I sat down at the piano and sang my heart out, not caring if I bothered anyone. I was singing for me. For that little girl who used to get up at the crack of dawn with a song in her heart and a bounce in her step. I am excited to explore my “Anne” side more. I know it will help me not only be happy in my daily life, but it will help me create better characters in my own books.

I wrote my first novel last year and the editor and beta readers said the story my characters were not developed well enough. I completely agree. I tried to make my characters too perfect. The reason “Anne of Green Gables” is timeless is because of the weaknesses the characters have. Anne loses her temper and has to apologize to Rachel Lynde, she breaks her slate over Gilbet Blythe’s head, she dyes her red hair because she wants it to be a “beautiful raven black” but it turns green instead.   Her troubles and wild ways annoy Marilla and yet she loves Anne all the more for them.

I was trying to make my characters without weaknesses because I thought that would turn readers off, when it is exactly just the opposite. As a reader, I like characters to have weaknesses. It is their weaknesses that make them come alive because everyone has weaknesses and strengths. How we deal with our weaknesses and the circumstances that are thrown at us, is what makes an amazing story.

In conclusion, I believe that I am a great combination of Anne and Marilla.

 

Anne says,

“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” Anne of Green Gables, p. 161

I might be a lot of different Karens, but that is alright. If I was just one Karen, then life wouldn’t be very interesting. I am nurturing my “Anne” side now, but it is alright to be a Marilla too. What do you think? Which character are you more like?

Midlife Crisis Leads Me Back to Classics

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For the last fourteen years I have been a stay-at-home mom. There has always been someone here with me to look after, but in August, my youngest went to school full time. At first I loved the new freedom that came with my days. I went hiking on trails I had never explored, I went places the kids would never want to go with me, and I spent some time doing charity work. However, as the weeks went on, I started down a spiral that lead me to what I could only describe as a midlife crisis (I am not even forty yet)! I started to feel lonely. Things I liked to do didn’t make me happy anymore.

As snow fell on the mountains and the ground became more muddy, I didn’t want to hike anymore. I thought maybe now it was time to look to the future. “What am I going to do now that my kids are in school?” I thought I really needed to find a job. Doesn’t everyone who has kids in school all day have a job? I looked at part time jobs and applied for a few, but when the call came for an interview, I realized that it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.

Then I I thought maybe I needed to go back to school to get some additional training. The problem is I don’t really know what training I want and I don’t want to waste time and money. I thought about it for weeks and thought I really didn’t know who I was anymore.

I reached out a community on Facebook and many helpful people suggested I read a book written for teenagers to help them discover their mission in life. It is funny, but it is really helping me. I am on a new path in my life and it is nice to get back to my roots. One of the suggestions in this book is for teenagers to read classics, then to talk about them with someone, then to write about them. There is a list of 100 classic books to read.

I decided that I didn’t really need to go back to school to get an education. I had only ready about ten books on the list. The first book on the list in the suggestions for twelve-year old girls was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.”  You can read my review and experience reading it again here.

I had read the book when I was twelve and loved it. I remember watching the PBS movie as a child with my mother and grandmother. We would watch eight hours to see the kiss between her and Gilbert Blythe at the end, but it was always worth it. Here is the list of novels I will be reading over the next year. Feel free to read along and discuss them with me. How many have you read?

Level One:

  1. ‘Little Women -Louisa May Alcott
  2. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  3. The Wizard of Oz- L. Frank Baum
  4. Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe-C. S. Lewis
  5. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes– Edith Hamilton
  6. Little House in the Big Woods– Laura Ingalls Wilder
  7. The Phantom Tool Booth –Norton Juster
  8. Ender’s Game- Orson Scott Card

Level Two:

  1. Pollyanna-Eleanor H. Porter
  2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream–William Shakespeare
  3. All’s Well that End’s Well- William Shakespeare
  4. The Tempest- William Shakespeare
  5. Prince Caspian– C. S. Lewis
  6. Aesop’s Fables
  7. Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
  8. Flatland- Edwin Abbott
  9. Saint Joan- Mark Twain
  10. Huckleberry Finn-Mark Twain
  11. Little House on the Prairie- Laura Ingalls Wilder
  12. Best Loved Poems of the American People– Hazel Felleman and Frank Allen
  13. Sonnets, William Shakespeare
  14. The Jungle Book- Rudyard Kipling
  15. The Real Thomas Jefferson- Andrew M. Allison
  16. Asimov on Numbers- Issac Asimov
  17. Love Languages- Gary Chapman
  18. The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny -by William Strauss and Neil Howe
  19. The Walking Drum, Louis L’Amour
  20. Say, Go, Be, Do- Tiffany Rhoades Earl
  21. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People- Steven R. Covey
  22. The One Minute Manager-Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D and Spencer Johnson, M.D.
  23. The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
  24. A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink
  25. Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick

There is also a level three, level four, and level five by I think for now thirty seven books on a list is a good start! Happy Reading!

Rejection Stinks but I’ve learned Character is Key

I recently sent my first manuscript ever to three different publishing houses. They each rejected the manuscript, but one was very helpful in their feedback. They said, “although your characters are based on real people, the characters are not as well as developed as they could be.”

I am so grateful for their feedback. My characters were not strong enough and this is where I need to improve on. I want my characters to seem as real as possible. Real means with weaknesses and strengths. As a perfectionist, I have a tendency to make my characters “too perfect.” But because they are “perfect” they are boring and not interesting.

I am so glad I have the opportunity now to go through a book I have already read again to help me understand where my characters fail.  It is called “Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint” by Nancy Kress. I am excited to learn where I went wrong and to make my characters stronger in the rejected manuscript and to create amazing characters on my current work in progress.

Kress says, “. . . without believable and interesting characters, you don’t really have fiction at all.  You may have names walking through a plot, but without the essential animation of the character, a historical novel becomes mostly a history text, a mystery becomes a police report, and science fiction becomes a speculative monograph. Character is key.”

I love those words: character is key. I realize that my characters are two dimensional. They are not Anne of Green Gables, Katniss Everdeen, Eowyn of the Riders of Rohan, or Elizabeth Bennett. It is hard to swallow after a year of work, but it also wonderful to know that I can improve my characters. When I make dynamic characters, then my next manuscript will be so much better.

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Despite my disappointment of publishers not accepting my manuscript, I am excited to learn how to create better characters and I can’t wait to get started.

Adding Family History to Our Vacation

Our family recently went on a trip to Southern California. There were three things on our list: Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, and my favorite The Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego’s Old Town.

Yes, it was fun to go on the new Guardian of the Galaxy ride at California Adventure, to have everyone laugh at me and my terrified face as we went over Splash Mountain, and to see the koalas and pandas at San Diego Zoo, but the part of the trip that meant the most to me was when my children go to learn about their fourth great-grandfather, Zemira Palmer.

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Mormon Battalion Historic Site

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site is located at 2510 Juan St., San Diego, CA 92110. It is free to the public and open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The last tour is at 8:00 p.m. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to go because we had spent the majority of the day at the San Diego Zoo and the children were exhausted from walking, but I really wanted them to go. I knew they shared information about their ancestors and I wanted them to see it.

When we walked in, two beautiful young women (missionaries) asked us if we wanted a tour. We went into the front waiting area.

MBIntro_Detail
Front waiting area at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site

It was a lot of fun because the pictures on the wall talked to us almost as if we were in some kind of Harry Potter movie.  The young man on the bottom right-hand corner represented Zemira Palmer. He was the narrator and took us through the journey.

First, we started in the room that represented Mount Pisgah, Iowa, then we moved on to Fort Kearny, Kansas.

At Fort Kearny, my ten-year-old son got to dress up like a member of the Mormon Battalion and carry a gun that they would have carried.

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After Fort Kearny, we followed the Battalion on their journey of over 2000 miles to San Diego. One thing I learned is that the Battalion stayed in San Diego for over a year later and helped the people learn to make bricks, irrigate, and so many other things.

Outside, my boys got to pan for gold, make bricks, and wash clothes like the members of the Battalion did. It was a great, interactive way for my children to learn about their great fourth grandfather Zemira Palmer. As the missionaries told the story, I also supplemented with additional information that I knew about him. It was the highlight of my trip.

 

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Zemira Palmer was born 9 August 1831 at West Borough, Frontier County, Canada to George Palmer, Jr. and Phebe Draper. Zemira was the six child in a family of 7 children. His father passed away when he was two, and his mother Phebe met Brigham Young and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many years later, Phebe remarried a man named Ebenezer Brown. Ebenezer enlisted and Phebe followed to become a laundress. She mended and washed the clothes for the Battalion. She also cooked for the officers.

Zemira was fifteen years old when he volunteered and was assigned as a personal aide to Col. Allen, which included caring for his horse and shining his boots. The Mormon Battalion march was very difficult. They dealt with cold, heat, lack of water, sickness, and even problems with wild bulls. There were also soldiers from Missouri; some who had helped drive the Saints from their state.They made it to the Pacific Ocean at the new settlement of San Diego in January 1847. The war ended and they never had to fire a shot. Zemira, his mother, and his step-father all re-enlisted and stayed one more year in San Diego. Phebe taught school to the children of the area and Zemira and Ebenezer made adobe bricks and helped build new buildings.

The Mormon Battalion made a good impression on all the people with whom they had associated. After their enlistment was up, they traveled north to find work before coming to the Salt Lake Valley, They were employed at Sutter’s Mill during this tune and were there when gold was discovered. It is said that they paid the first tithing in gold. They rode mules all the way to the Valley. When they finally arrived there was a great family reunion. It had been three years and they were glad to be with the family and the Saints again. Zemira was now 18 years old.

Later Zemira married Sally Knight and they had 12 children together. He was a strong man who did amazing things because he exercised his faith in his Heavenly Father.

Running My First 5K

Two months ago I decided I wanted to run my first 5k. I ran one twenty-four years ago in junior high and didn’ t really like it. Ever since then, I have shied away from running. However, I’ve been reading The Ultimate Weight Solution by good old Doctor Phil McGraw and I’ve been working on the “keys to weight loss freedom.” He is very blunt, but it is part of the book’s appeal for me who needs to be hit over the head with something.

He says, “Nothing will stop you from being anything other than healthy, vibrant, in shape, this will happen because YOU make it happen.”

I have always known that I am the one who is in control of my lifestyle and my weight, but it really “clicked” this time.

He says, “The most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. You’ve got to be your own best friend first, accepting and loving yourself from the inside out, before you can be truly happy and before you can live with purpose and passion.”

I have decided I want to live a life of ‘purpose and passion.’ Dr. Phil encourages his readers to set ‘realistic’ goals. I set a long-term goal and a short-term goal.

My long-term goal is to lose forty pounds by December 31, 2017.  On April 22, 2017, I set the goal to train three days a week to run a 5k on June 3, 2017.

In order to achieve this first goal, I downloaded a couch to 5k app on my phone and used it three– sometimes four– days a week to train. I hoped by doing this I would lose one pound a week.

At first, it was hard to train because the weather in April was crazy here in Utah. It was warm one week, snowed another, and rained a lot. However, I got up at 6:00 in the morning, checked the weather and decided I would run rain or shine.  I had my faithful chocolate lab, Koda, as my running partner and we would go.

This last week before my race, I started getting shin splints in both my legs and they really ached. However, today I ran anyway. I was not able to run the entire 5k, but I ran until my body said, “Hey you! I hurt! Stop! Stop!”  I would walk for a minute then pick up the pace.

I was inspired by Wonder Woman. I know it sounds corny, but as I looked for races to run I found that Smith’s grocery store was sponsoring a “Super Hero” run to raise money for Primary Children’s Hospital. My husband and I and our boys love superhero movies. I find them fun and inspiring at the same time. I knew “Wonder Woman” starring Gil Gadot was coming out the day before I would run the race. I found this photo.

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I told myself I could have courage. I could be confident in myself to finish the race. I dressed up today with my Wonder Woman t-shirt and my awesome Wonder Woman socks and I ran. I ran with courage. I did it! I really did it!

Here are some fun pics:

 

The app even printed out a certificate of achievement for me.

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Now, my teenage son plans to join me and we are going to run a 5k on Independence Day. I also plan to run a fun night run with glow sticks and a Harry Potter themed 5k in July. The same company that made the app has another app to encourage me to run faster.

Guess what? After all of my training, I am down seven pounds and I am on my way to my end goal in December. So, the next steps for me to continue on to my forty pound journey are:

  1. Run three more 5ks this summer, maybe more!
  2. Learn all I can about nutrition and plan my meals and snacks.
  3. Reduce my sugar intake for 75 days until our 17th anniversary in August. Then I will indulge in a delicious piece of chocolate cake. I am hoping it will be “too rich” and I won’t be able to finish it all!

Here we go! I will have courage because I love myself and I am in charge of creating my life. I want to live with ‘purpose and passion’! We are off for my reward of seeing the movie. I am glad my husband agreed so easily. He says, “Wonder Woman is the most important movie of our time.” I can’t imagine why. 🙂

Lawnmowers Declare War Against Karen

I love spring. The bright colors of the yellow daffodils, the red and purple of tulips, and the sweet blossoms on the tree bring joy to my soul. At first, I love the warmer, longer days and how the grass all around is turning lush and green, but then it grows. The grass reaches up toward the sun each blade stretching taller and taller until I am struck with horror that now I must mow it. (Cue horror music, dum, dum, dum).

Ever since we became homeowners, mowing the lawn has become my task as my husband is extremely allergic to cut grass. He tried to put on a gas mask and mow a few times, but it is embarrassing being the only alien yard worker on the block. I do not mind the task of mowing the grass, but I swear they met in a secret meeting to declare war on me even before the first time I mowed.

Our father-in-law gave us his old lawnmower when we moved in our first home as he now had a riding lawn mower. We were very grateful as it was a part of homeownership we had not considered until that point.  As we tried to prepare the new lawnmower to cut, we discovered it had a huge wasp nest in it. So we ended up borrowing our neighbor’s lawnmower for a few times until we could get it working.

Well, eventually my husband fixed the carburetor on the lawnmower and we were in business until I somehow broke the handle on the starter cord. We tied a wrench on the end of the cord and luckily there was a cease fire for a few years.

Eventually, the old tame lawnmower gave up the ghost and we got a young recruit from Saratoga Springs. We had moved over the winter and were excited to welcome him to our new home. He was fresh and young and worked hard. I was happy. I thought all my problems with lawnmowers was in the past until the day he fulfilled his secret suicide mission and ran into the railroad ties in our garden bending his sharp sword.

My husband purchased a shining new lawnmower. He was fancy and had an automatic start. I could not have been happier. He worked wonderfully until the day he needed new oil.  While I had never added oil, I figured I could do it and everything would be fi. Poor lawnmower! He was never the same after that. He smoked and puffed and refused to work again when I stopped to empty the cut grass from his stomach.  I found that if I bagged the grass while he was running that I could finish mowing the lawn, but he got back at me when he lunged at me with his blade.

Luckily, the lawnmower missed but the impact broke the bone in my middle finger. He laughed as I went around all summer giving people “the bird” as my finger was in a splint. I sighed with relief when the growing season ended.

Now here it is spring again, the birds are chirping and last week the dreaded day came when it was time to mow the long grass again. I filled the engine with gasoline and clicked the starter and the lawnmower burst into flames. The outside water had not been turned on yet and so I had to run into the house with a bucket and fill it will water. Then I ran back to the garage and put the fire out. I guess a bit of gasoline had leaked onto the top of the lawnmower and the spark made it start on fire.

I swear the lawnmowers have declared war and will continue until I no longer choose to mow the lawn. I have a teenage son who could mow, but now the blasted mower won’t work. I guess this is the year we hire a lawn mowing service.

 

 

Week Three: Writing Your Baby’s Story

We’ve been busy the last few weeks with family in town and celebrating birthdays. I had fun adding more information to each of my “baby’s” stories. They certainly aren’t babies anymore! Our youngest just turned six years old. If you are starting when your baby is only a few weeks old, congratulations! My details are getting foggier the older I get. Here are the questions to add to your child’s story this week.

  1. Who drove the mother and the baby home?When did the mother and baby arrive home
  2. Where did the mother and baby live? Who did they live with?
  3. Describe the baby’s home and room.
  4. Did the baby sleep in their own room or share a room with the mother or someone else?
  5. What were the siblings’ and/or other family members’ reactions the baby’s arrival home?
  6. What visitors did the baby and mother have in the first few days home?
  7. Did anyone come or help the mother and the new baby? Who? How long did that person stay? What other help did the family receive?
  8. Did the mother and/or baby receive any special gifts?
  9. Describe the feelings the mother and father had during the first few days home.  Did they have any special impressions or thoughts?

A few of the highlights from my answers to these questions comes from that the last one. Describe the feelings the mother and father had during the first few days home. When we had our first beautiful baby boy, I was twenty-four.  We were students in college and working hard to make ends meet.  I remember when we first brought our baby home to our little apartment, I was so excited, but also very nervous. We had a lot of support. My mother came every day to help us out a little and my mother in law came for a few days as well. Our church family helped us with dinners and always checked on me.

It was hard the first time I was left alone with our son. I had taken care of children, even little babies, but not for hours at a time. I was trying to nurse him because all my birthing classes had stressed that “breast is best.” However, our sweet little guy would not latch on in a comfortable way and it hurt terribly every time I tried to feed him. I was frustrated and exhausted. However, I would not, could not supplement with formula. I was certain in my foggy postpartum mind that if I fed him from a bottle, he would die and I would forever hold the title of “worst mother in the world.”

I remember praying,”Please Heavenly Father, please help me, please bless him to be able to eat.” Well, I tried to do everything the lactation specialist had shown me and it wasn’t working. The baby was hungry and tired. My delivery was rough and I was still recovering. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I cried and cried, the baby cried. It was so overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do anymore when exactly at the moment by my sweet husband walked in the door. He had come home from work earlier than I expected. He looked at me and the baby and he took the sweet infant in his arms and snuggled him and sent me to bed. I remember saying the baby was upset because he was hungry, but I couldn’t get him to eat. My level-headed husband said, “We still have samples of formula from the hospital, right?”

He said, ‘formula’ but I am sure I heard  ‘arsenic.’  I glared at him. “We are not feeding our baby formula!”

He looked at me kindly and put his arm on my shoulder. “Karen, scientists created infant formula for this reason: so that their dads could help feed their babies. Our baby won’t die if he drinks formula. I promise you. He is going to be fine.”

I tried to protest, but I was so exhausted and somehow he got me to go lay down. I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke an hour or two later and came out to my husband watching television in the living room. Our baby’s belly was full and he was happily dosing in the crook of his father’s arms.

I realize then my prayer was answered. It wasn’t in the way I thought it would be, but it was an answer. My husband coming home when he did was a tender mercy.  I never thought I would go to feeding our baby formula, but after seeing how my husband could help me. Later I realized how much easier it was for me and the baby and we never went back.

If you are wondering if feeding our baby formula hurt him,  well he is in the eighth grade, 6’1″, sings, plays piano, and has great grades.

michael