Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I belong to a papercrafting forum where a can of worms was opened. There were lovely things said. There were awful things said. There were some who tried to make peace, and some who refused to listen. All because of one word. Lines were drawn in the sand and accusations flew, all because some clarification was needed about a proposed project which dealt with winter holidays of all religions. The intent was inclusion and celebration, but it degenerated quickly.

Here's my pontification...

My parents were in charge of a church mission in Norway in the '90's. My dad spoke Norwegian pretty well, but my mom did not. They were required to travel around the entire country, speaking to congregations of all sizes. Most people in Norway under the age of 50 speak fluent English, but of course, all of the church services are in Norwegian. My dad would always give his talks in Norwegian without a problem. It would have been perfectly acceptable for my mom to speak English, but she chose a different route. She would write her talk in English, have my dad translate it to Norwegian, and she would proceed to butcher it mercilessly as best she could.

The people adored her.

They appreciated any and all efforts of another person (especially an American) trying to learn and speak a tongue that she really didn't need to use. She endeared herself to them immediately, and they trusted her and counted her as a friend.

Contrast that situation with any number of encounters here in America where someone is less than fluent with English (which is an AWFUL language to learn!). Generally that person does not endear him or herself to any large crowds. That person is most often met with impatience and indifference, and sometimes (shamefully) hostility. It is unfair.

My point is that I hope we can all be more like the Norwegians my mom encountered, who recognize that any effort to bridge the cultural gaps should be seen as a welcoming hand of friendship. My mom lost nothing in attempting to learn something about a different group of people. On the contrary, she gained the respect of hundreds of friends, who understood that her efforts were honest. When our efforts and intentions are honest and good, it shows. Let's be kind.

That is all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Good things

Alright, I am finally coming up for air. This first month of school has had me swamped. Anywho...

I've decided that I need to share some things I love about my kids--especially those stinky boys of mine--lest you think I'm grumpy all the time. I'm really not. I love being a mom to these crazy kids, and I love the marvelous things they do. I want to list some of them out for you, and for me, because some days...well, some days are better than others.

In real life, my husband and I sometimes refer to the children by their birth order numbers ("You are Number Six!"--bonus points if you know the reference). To make it easy for you, I'll give you a cheat sheet:
#1: Overachieving Girl, 15
#2: Broad Strokes Boy, 13
#3: Spicy Boy, 11
#4: Slightly Redheaded Girl, 8
#5: Sunshiny Yellow Boy, 6
#6: Baby Boy (who insists he's not), 3

What I love, in no particular order:
#2 loves to bake. He's not a detail guy, so getting used to recipes has been quite the learning experience. He learned that accidentally adding cinnamon to chocolate cookies is actually quite good. I'm just glad the pages weren't stuck together and he didn't add beef to the dessert (bonus points if you know that reference!).

#6 likes to do things "my byself"

#3 has a great gift for reading and understanding people. He can walk into a room and immediately know who is a good guy and who's a bad guy.

#1 voluntarily apologizes for hurting my feelings when she has been snarky. She also asks me how she can help or if there is anything I need.

#3 is extraordinarily compassionate. Once when we were at the airport after a long flight, we shared an elevator with an elderly man and his daughter, who were from another country. #3, who was 6 or 7, walked right over to this man and out of the blue, gave him a hug. The man was so touched, and the rest of us stood there, speechless. Beautiful, I tell you.

#6 loves to talk to me when we're alone in the car. Chatty, chatty chatty.

#3 can imitate anything he sees. Anything. My neighbor was watching him play out the window one day when he was about 3 and she said, "I wonder if this is what Jim Carrey was like as a kid. He's going to make you a lot of money someday." He fully immerses himself in his characters.

#2 has great company manners, and I often hear how wonderful he was with his friends or with other people's children.

#1 is who I wished I could've been when I was her age.

#2 mispronounces everything (remember, he's a broad strokes kind of kid), and I find it very funny and endearing. Ask him to pronounce Encyclopedia Britannica or Hagen Dazs sometime.

#4 leaves sweet notes and cute pictures all over the house for us.

#4 is sassy enough to hold her own with her brothers. She knows just the right buttons to push with #2, for sure.

#1 actually cares what I think and asks for my opinion.

#5 and #6 are bosom buddies. When #6 was learning to stay on his big boy bed, I asked #5 to help him be quiet and set a good example. I shut the door, but I kept hearing noise, so I opened it and asked them again to be quiet. #5 said, "But Mom, we always play peek-a-boo before bed!"

#4 and #5 get along famously and play together so very well.

#2 is always willing to help me bring in the groceries. Sometimes I even got an audible "I love you". It's usually when I have bought really good cereal.

#1 still likes me. She's not embarrassed by me, and she actually likes doing things with me. Hooray!

#5 orchestrated, created and manned a lemonade stand for over two hours and pulled in $9.35.

#6 likes to be held like a baby when he's all wrapped up in a towel after his bath.

#5 is quite the ladies' man and a shameless flirt.

#1 is simply beautiful. She's drop-dead gorgeous when she puts on makeup (but she has no idea).

#2 volunteered to take care of the kids when I was slammed with strep throat earlier this year. My husband was out of town, and this boy took it upon himself to make sure I went straight to bed. He fed the kids dinner and got them in bed, and he called my husband to let him know how I was doing. He has a very protective side.

#2 was also the child who, as a 4-year-old, on 9/11/01, comforted me when I found out what happened at the Pentagon. My husband was there that day, and this boy gave me a big hug and wanted me to feel better. (BTW, husband was just fine. He didn't feel, see or hear anything while in the building, and although it took many hours to get home, everything was okay.)

#5 has the very best laugh in the entire world.

So on those days when "Good breathing, son!" is the most positive utterance I can muster, I can refer to this list and remember just how wonderful they are.