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.”

rachel lynde
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.

 

 

Midlife Crisis Leads Me Back to Classics

element-of-confusion-tee

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!

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

 

 

Trapper Keepers and American Girl Dolls

Back in the early nineties, my family moved from our log home to run a bed and breakfast across town.  I am the youngest of six children. I have an older sister, then four brothers. We moved while my third brother was on a two-year proselytizing mission for our church in Bolivia. The only two children left at home were myself and my brother who was two years older.

When we unpacked our belongings into our new rooms, my brother found a Beauty and the Beast Trapper Keeper in a box of his. It was not his and so he put it on my bed thinking it was mine. I saw it and knew it was not mine so I put it on his bed. This went on for days until finally I got upset and said,”Quick putting this thing in my room. It isn’t mine.”

“Well, it certainly isn’t mine!” he said.

We figured out it must have belonged to our brother who was on a mission. My brother put in a box in his closet and I thought it was the end of it until the next day when I got home from high school. My brother sat in the living room, not watching television, reading, or doing anything. He never just sat. I knew he was up to something. He nodded at me when I came in. Then he smiled. It was an eerie, mischievous sort of smile. “Aren’t you going to take your stuff up to your room?” he asked.

“No!” I yelled and ran to my room. “Where is it?” I searched my room for the offending Trapper Keeper. I looked in my pillowcases, in my dresser drawers, in my closet. He followed me and casually leaned against my door watching my erratic behavior. He had an amused look on his face.

“Where did you put it?” I asked ready to tear my hair out.

He laughed and looked at the ceiling.I looked and he had taped the Trapper Keeper to the ceiling above my bed.

“I wanted you to have a good dreams,” he said.

I immediately stood on my bed and tore the offending item from my ceiling.

The next day, I put it in the cupboard under his television where he kept his video games so his friends would see it as they got the games out.

The next day, he taped it to my shower.

The Trapper Keeper would never disappear. The game went on for the rest of the year until my brother graduated and moved away. I put in my closet and laughed when I saw it.

It felt weird to be the only kid at home with my parents that fall. When the spring came around my brother decided to go out and serve a mission for our church as well and was sent to England. The following Christmas, I got the Trapper Keeper out, wrote him a bunch of letters, filled it with candy and mailed it to him. It was the best!

Our family talked to him on Christmas and he had not received my package yet. Then a few weeks later, I got a letter saying he had received my package, but he wasn’t very happy about it. I believe he threw it away in a bin in Manchester, England. trapper-keeper

It is a funny thing to remember. Then similarly, a few years after my husband and I had our first son, we were expecting another baby and we bought some curtains from Pottery Barn Kids.  My husband got on a mailing list somehow and they sent him an American Girl doll catalog. We laughed about it and I would call him at work to tell him it had come in the mail so it would have something to look forward to when he returned home.

As our boys have grown, we still get the American Girl Catalog. My husband started putting it in our oldest’s sons room and then I would help him come up with a place to hide it in my husband’s things. Then our two younger boys have got involved and they hide in each other’s bedrooms. We moved three years ago and made sure that we changed our address so they would continue to come, however, we put the catalog in our oldest’s sons’ name.  We wanted him to feel special. With so much technology these days, who doesn’t like getting special items in the mail?

We continue to get them to this day and find funny places to hide them.  The best hiding spot was when I put it in a part of my son’s backpack he doesn’t use very often and he carried it back and forth to junior high for a week. Good times! It is the little, silly things we do that our kids remember. Just as I always think of my brother whe I see Beauty and the Beast, I know in the future, I will never see an American Girl catalog without thinking of the funny times we had with our boys when they were young.

american-girl

 

 

Carpooling

My boys go to two different charter schools in our valley. I carpool with two other families to the schools. The two other amazing moms take turns taking the kids to school and I rotate with one of them on picking up the kids. We take another teenage boy and two sisters, one is twelve and the other is ten. Throwing the girls in has been really fun this year.

We have had some fun and interesting conversations. It is funny that the kids can remember things from a year or so ago. One time we saw a black fluffy dog and a white fluffy dog running down the middle of the road.

I pretended I was the voices for the dogs. “Run, Kiki! We are finally free!” said the white one.

“Yes, Fifi, we are! Run! Run like the wind!”

Then I sang the words to “Born Free.”

Then their owner came chasing after them. It was pretty funny to see him try to catch up.

One the same street, someone posted a weird cardboard stand-up by the telephone pole with the words “Slow down” next to it. The cardboard stand up was of a cartoon woman wearing a white robe. My son named it Veronica and we called it his girlfriend.

I am sad to report she isn’t there anymore. The other teenagers started  a conspiracy saying my son might be responsible for her disappearance. No comment.

img_7271-2

Finally, the kids have come up with this game whenever we see a certain color of car, they do something different to each other. It can get violent. Luckily, they leave me as the drive alone!

  • Orange car-hit your neighbor
  • Green car-tickle your  neighbor
  • Purple car- hug neighbor (contributed by the ten year old girl of course)
  • Yellow bus- hit your neighbor
  • Hot pink car=death for everyone

I am glad we haven’t seen any hot pink cars!

2015-04-20-slug-bug