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Archive for January 6th, 2010

Flashback to the last big snow. . . .December 16, 2007

I woke up this morning to a snow covered world – it was beautiful and peaceful and the snow was pristine – having floated from the heavens and landed softly on the yards, trees, houses, cars & fences all over my neighborhood. There were no tracks in it at all – not even dog prints. Herc had begged to come in last night and spent the night in the garage next to the radiant heater. Sorry, pal, it’s the best I can do for the moment.

Two hours later, much of the snowfall was stll intact. Our front yard, however, was obviously the scene of an all out war. Tracks led here and there, hither and yon. Big holes of empty air had replaced much of the smooth blanket of snow, where children (of all ages) had scooped up the snow, pressed it into a snowball and launched it at one of the others doing much the same.

By noon, Jordan and Chaney had been invited to join – and the yard and driveway looked more and more like a war zone. I left to get a soda and made a secret stop at KMart where I bought the last sled they had – 66″ of plastic toboggan. The luge sled, it was labeled. And hats, and gloves so that when the ones we were wearing got soaked, we could throw them in the dryer, put on dry ones and just keep having fun!

Two cars were required to go to Ellis school – I took the sleds – the new toboggan, the little yellow disk sled left over from Brian’s youth (WOW, say the children THIS YELLOW ONE GOES FAST!). And three from Jordan and Chaney’s house.

Mike took all the children – Derrick, Bradley, Makayla, Jordan and Chaney. And the sledding adventure began. It had to happen, you see, because I found out this morning that Mike’s children have NEVER been sledding. Never. Bradley is 10 years old and today was his first time to ride a sled down a hill in the snow. I tried to wrap my brain around it – remembering my children on sleds going down Ellis hill before they were even old enough to attend the school. Brian in a snowsuit, 2 years old, sitting on his mother or father’s lap down the hill.

Derrick was perhaps the most fun to watch – awkwardly – arms and legs flailing here and there down the hill as fast as he could make it go, leaning this way and that trying to turn it. He took over the toboggan – it was big enough to hold his sixteen year old body and fast enough to please his 4 or 5 year old mind.

Bradley took the yellow one. Of course, it goes fast. And Makayla took the little red disk with the built in handles on the side. I got a shot of them running, dragging their sleds behind them, towards Ellis hill. Except for Bradley, he was too close to me to get in the pictures. I did my best to stay at the top of the hill and get pictures of them streaking down the hill. Mike is prone to belly flopping onto the sled and launching it as fast and far as he can. I tried it, with a lifetime of memories flooding through my brain. Trying to imagine my life without sledding. I can’t.

I am thankful for the snow. I am thankful for the people in my world that put me on a sled and launched me down a hill when I could barely walk. I’m thankful for this day in time, when I can pass that on to the Fabulous Five children in my world. Apparently Chaney and Jordan aren’t very experienced sledders either.

And so, if you haven’t done so lately, I highly recommend grabbing a sled, or a snow shovel, or a piece of flat plastic anything and standing at the top of a big hill, throwing yourself onto the sled or whatever and careening down the hill. It is still fun!!

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I used to call my children “Peanut Butter and Jelly”.  It was a great comparison as they are both sweet in their own way, they work well together or apart and, at times, they could be really messy!

This morning I’m thinking about all the things they’ve taught me or forced me to learn in their lives.  My first and favorite lesson was when Brandon was 3 and said “Mommy, I want to learn to read.”  It brought me to a halt and started a chain of events that lasted for years.

I contemplated for a moment before replying “Well, it’s not that easy, there are things you have to know before you get to the reading part.  You have to learn your letters and sounds and. . . . my voice trailed off as he stood there expectantly.

That was when the magnetic letters arrived on my refrigerator.  We played with them, touched them, learned their sounds, spelled words phonetically.  It wasn’t long before he could sound out and spell many words.  By the time he arrived at Kindergarten, he was reading at 4th grade level.  His little brother watched as he learned.

Brian was more subtle about it.  I read to the children every night.  We would sit together and read from the stack of books that arrived from the Cat in the Hat book club.  As I read, I would sometimes stop and let them finish the sentences as I pointed to the words.  Eventually, Brian had appeared to memorize his favorite book.   We thought it was SO cute – he would “read” the book to us, turning the pages in all the right places.

It became a daily activity.  While I was doing my programming homework for a class I was taking, Brian would sit on the bed and “read” the books to me.  I knew them all by heart from reading them to the boys, and could tell when he made a mistake.  He rarely did.

One day, I was working on my homework and he was “reading” to me and I realized that the book he was reading was unfamiliar to me.  It caught me off guard and I stopped what I was doing and looked over.  “Son,” I said with puzzlement, “You can’t have that book memorized.  It just came in the mail yesterday and we haven’t read it yet.”

He looked at me like I was an idiot.  “I know mommy, I’m reading.”  Duh.  In the games we played, he had learned to read.   Throughout his life there were many more “That was unexpected” moments.  That one will always be my favorite.  He was around 4 years old.  He too went to school reading at 4th grade level or beyond.

They are in their twenties now and both avid readers and learners.  It was a great lesson for me.  That few minutes at the end of the day reading to them, the games we played with the letters on the refrigerator, the Video Smarts video game on the television, tuning in to the PBS station.

The lesson?  A small amount of effort every day creates big things.

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