How do I love thee? Let me count the ways

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The cat whiles away many pleasurable minutes staring at the aquatic members of this household. It makes me smile to see this. Such naked unashamed lust is refreshing. Humans spend so much time trying to disguise what they want.

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But not cats.

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You can almost see him thinking, “oh, if only I could just taste one.”

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This makes me smile but it inspired Corrie to write a story. Her teacher this year has taught 22 second graders some really fun writing techniques, and Corrie writes little vignettes at unexpected moments. I think you can read it from my pictures.

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My favorite part? “…so she went to go sit by the fish tank and just look at them or not!” She’s a cunning little writer. (Insert eye-roll at Mom besottedness here.) – Katie

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Walk on the wild side

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One of our destinations in Tyler, TX was the Brookshires Stuffed Animal Museum. It is free, my friends. Free all the time. There are over 400 stuffed and mounted animals, realistically posed and in many cases grouped by habitat.

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You are not allowed to touch with your hands…only with your eyes…but there is something about being close to all those fangs and claws that makes you want to ENACT the danger at hand. Or express your inner Dr. Doolittle and walk and talk with the animals!

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Amos particularly wanted a picture of himself with the horny toad as he was wearing his “Fear the Frog” purple TCU shirt from Grandpa Jarrett. (TCU is all that is greatness to Amos and Rob.)

That adorable artificial-looking pig thing under his arm is an actual baby javelina. They do not age attractively: note his toothy papa above him.

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Corrie and Helen were a little less inspired by their bestial surroundings than some.

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Look! That’s a snake behind him! See the head? The body was thicker than his leg. Rest easy, local friends; this one was from Africa.

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Amos, needing his own wildebeest to pounce on. Or maybe he can share Simba’s there. – Katie

 

Our Spring Break destination and a poem

Last Night as I Was Sleeping by Antonio MachadoIMG_0289

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

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Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,

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I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

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Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

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We visited our friend who lives in the East Texas Piney Woods. If you stand in the pines, with your feet resting on red sandy soil, and look up towards the sky; the pines speak to you. Somewhere between a roar and a whisper.

And you think –marvelous error!– that it might be the voice of God. – Katie

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North Texas Irish Festival 2013

 

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We put on our Irish and headed to the Festival. We always go on opening night because you can get in free if you are through the gates of Fair Park before 7 pm. This particular evening was COLD! Cold and dark – night falls by 6:30 in early March, and we strolled shivering through the gate into an explosion of music.

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Sometimes when we go to an entertaining event we just have empty pockets and make it clear upfront that we won’t be buying anything, which helps a little as you pass booth after tempting booth of food and fun. Lean times are good times, too.

Which can make the fat times all the sweeter… James started the evening announcing that he had gotten plenty of coupons, and probably everyone could enjoy a treat this year. Woo-hoo!

The children started out in the bouncehouse to get their blood moving while their chilly parents watched from without.

 

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One of the best things about the Irish Festival is that everyone brings their dogs. This was Lily’s first time in a place with so many dogs and humans, as evidenced by her paroxysms of excitement as the night wore on. James kept her on a tight leash.

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Several dog societies have booths there, including the Irish Wolfhound and Irish Setter. The Wolfhounds are lovely, enormous dogs with curly wooly fur perfect for burying your hands in. You cannot imagine Lily’s ferocious joy when faced with a dog three times her own size! Her wriggling prevented pictures – Helen was similarly thrilled but less wriggly.

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The first band we sat down to was a tight-knit group of enthusiastic lads playing WILD reels and jigs. They had Uilleann pipes (the small bagpipe-looking thing), and the fiddler and guitarist sounded born to play together.

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Towards the end of a really driving song, they all stood up on their chairs – while playing! – and whaled out the last stanzas of the song, many of them thumping away with their feet even as they played. Such energy! Music like gasps of life.

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There were more generous Daddy treats between songs! (Not pictured are the parents with Guiness in hand.)

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Other bands crooned and piped and fiddled as we walked through the buildings. Inside the twin buildings that house all of the cars during the State Fair are alternating small stages which hold rotating musical groups, and lines of booths and vendors. So you walk, look, listen, and buy.

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Each of the girls was allowed to choose a trinket and they found heart-shaped necklaces in pink crystal and amber. Corrie said she was getting a heart for remembering Lu. (Notice the handsome man in the attractive Irish hat that his wife made him buy behind them.)

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So it was a good festival. (Amos was transformed by his wooden sword into a terrifying Celtic warrior, obviously.)

It was hard to go: all the way up until the end of the day I was despondantly unable to make up my mind about whether or not we should. Sometimes you just feel too sad to listen to happy music. Last year we attended while Lu was at home with  Aunt Jenn, and we didn’t know how close she was to the end of her life with us. The mix of life and death is so intense and hard sometimes you just want to avoid it altogether. If avoiding doing things keeps you closer to numb, then simple, uneventful stretches of time can give you space for grief and healing to mirror life and death.

But I think in the end we were glad we went. It helped to acknowledge to each other that we were sad and we missed her. When you respect your feelings and put them in the open it kind of gives you permission to feel other things, too, and we could take honest pleasure in each other and the music. And the Irish are good at getting tears and laughter out of the same gig.  Go Irish. – Katie

 

Free Choice Learning

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Corrie’s 2nd grade teacher has assigned special homework for Mondays. It’s called Free Choice Learning, and children are given a list from which to choose an educational activity as their homework assignment. The list is lengthy and includes things such as: write your own book with illustrations, create puzzle for your classmates to put together, help your parents cook dinner, or make a special food to share with the classroom.  IMG_0137

Corrie made chocolate chip cookies. Oh, joy. I only helped a little. – Katie

2013 School Talent Show

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For the school talent show this year Abbey was a pirate.

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I was, too. I played the piano for 6th grade girls who sang “9 Pirate Girls”. As pirates should be, they were intrepid. OK, maybe we were all just a LITTLE trepid. Astonishingly, we both grubbed up a costume out of our NORMAL CLOTHES. (Cause for a little brow-furrowing on my part. Do I regularly look like a pirate?)

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And the two girls played their violins as part of a studio group. Corrie was particularly happy about the shades. (It takes young eyes to play at night, in a dimly lit auditorium stage, wearing sunglasses.)

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Abbey was particularly happy about the hats. I think it rather pleased her to be in an event that required TWO costumes as the evening wore on.

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They both took their performances very seriously, and I got to feel ridiculous as a pirate and disgustingly proud as a mother-of-musical-offspring. Lucky me. – Katie

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Mystery

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Have you ever wondered how little girls learn to fix hair? I think it’s sort of how they learn to do lots of stuff: they play with it.

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Trying little experiments is definitely more effective than asking Mom. Corrie asked me a while ago why I make her brush her hair before school when I never brush mine. To which I had no good answer.

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But if you have your own brush and your own hair and possibly a willing sister or two you’re in business. Beauty one strand at a time.

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Abbey: “Here, hold this part.”

Corrie: “Do you think this will make it curly?”

Abbey: “No, but it will make it interesting.” – Katie

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