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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aspiring Writer

A few weeks ago I heard about the PBS Kids Go Writer's Contest and encouraged Dear Daughter to enter. She is one creative kid and quite talented in her story telling skills. It was only days before the deadline when I first heard of the contest, so Daughter had to get busy. She bounced story ideas off of me and we talked about the structure and qualities of a good story, and she went to work. She spent two entire home school days working on the prose and artwork of this project. I was thoroughly amused at the puns she included. Her story was about a greedy fish named Gilbert, but his friends called him "Gill" for short. He wanted all the cool new gadgets and stuff that all the other fish in his "school" had. I know I'm her mother, and I know she is only six years old, but I thought she was brilliant! Her story also had a great message about friendship being more important than "stuff."

She finished it up and we drove to the local PBS station to drop it off because I feared it would not reach the destination in time for the deadline. We didn't think much about it again.

A couple weeks later at Daughter's homeschool co-op, she was practically accosted at the door by a peer who questioned if Zoe had won a writer's contest. We had not told anyone except Grandma and Grandpa H about her entering this contest, so I figured maybe she had indeed placed. However, we did not get any direct notification about her placing. I turned to the Internet to see if I could find a winner's list, but despite a couple hours of searching, gave up after finding nothing except that the local contest had been judged and first place winners would be sent to the national contest and all who placed would have their stories on exhibit locally for a week. I never could find names, which makes sense as these are all minor children. Since the little girl who mentioned the writing contest was only 5 or 6 herself, I figured she was just probably confused. Still the coincidence of her asking Daughter if she entered a writing contest was curious. Daughter and I even talked after I discovered the contest had indeed been judged, that it was a real bummer that she had worked so hard and had not been recognized.

A few minutes ago Dear Husband emerged from the basement office and handed me a large manila envelope. Inside was the congratulation letter and certificate for Daugther's honorable mention in the local contest. The letter was dated April 15th. At 15 minutes before midnight tonight, it was as good as being April 30th. Apparently we had this congratulation letter for a couple weeks before finding it.

After thinking about it some more, I remembered getting two large identical manila envelopes in the mail a couple weeks ago. Husband had told me to watch for some building plans he was going to be receiving from the county any day. So when I saw his name on the envelope, I assumed he got two envelopes of building plans. I left them on the kitchen island and told Dear Husband about them when he arrived home that evening because he had been anxiously awaiting them. He opened an envelope and looked at the stuff, and that was that.

In the next week or so the pile of mail on the kitchen island ended up in the basement office to be sorted. The fact that this particular envelope had never been opened was discovered for the first time a few minutes ago. And lo, the mystery was solved. While Dear Daughter didn't place first, second, or even third, I'm still really proud of her receiving honorable mention. She doesn't get to compete in the nationals, but only first place winners in each category do. She won't get a shot at the laptop, digital camera, or MP3 player, but she received a certificate of recognition and her story will have a week long display in the winner's exhibit in a local art gallery along with being recognized at the writer's banquet this fall after the national competition.

...and I learned to look at the mail more closely!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finding Meaning in Cold Cereal, Public Television, and Jesus

After reading time with Dear Daughter tonight, I rolled onto my side in her twin bed so that I was eye to eye with her on the pillows. It had been awhile since I had a discussion with her about the Meaning of Life. It seems we used to have these discussions often in the past, as this has historically been her favorite topic for about as long as she's been talking. I guess I felt curious tonight about how that six year old mind is developing.

The first time I noticed Daughter's ability to have a completely logical and philosophical discussion was when she was barely two years old. It wasn't actually about the meaning of life, but about the commonalities between horses and cows. It wasn't long, however, before she began to take on more challenging issues in her conversations...such as the meaning of life.

Me: "So...what do you think about Life?"

Dear Daughter: "I think it's tasty, and I like to eat it!"

Me: (giggling) "NO! I mean what do you think about LIVING--THAT kind of LIFE!"

Dear Daughter: (with a sigh, as if conceding a point) "Oh alllllright. I think Public Television makes me smart."

Me: (having absolutely NO IDEA where that came from and now laughing hysterically) "Okay, so what do you think the MEANING of life is?"

Dear Daughter: (without missing a beat) "Living and loving Jesus!"

She said it as if it's the most obvious thing anyone could ever ask her...and it was a wonderful reminder that apparently I must be doing something right after all!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Freeze Frame

The kids were huddled around me as I worked at replacing Dear Son's turtle bedding with fresh coconut bark. Actually, he's a TORTOISE my children continue to remind me ever since we studied up on the difference between turtles and tortoises. I was concentrating on the task at hand when Dear Son said to his sister, "Look, Zoe! That is you and me!" He was pointing at the pictures of them displayed in the corner of a glass faced cabinet in the kitchen. Dear Daughter replied, "I know, Zachy. Mommy put them there because she loves us!"

I remained focused on the task at hand, though amused. My eyes didn't move from what I was doing, but I felt the smile tease my lips. Dear Daughter doesn't miss a thing. "Look, Zachy! Mommy thinks we're cute!" and we all busted up in gales of laughter.

I love the days I get so spend with my babies. Especially when the cute outdoes the ornery.