Monday, September 26, 2011

Lesson 94 (plus 3 more): Remembering Millie

**NOTE:  Please read the blog before you watch the picture movie so that it makes more sense.  Thanks.******
Check my math for me Readers, as you know I am admittedly bad at 'rithmetic, but Lesson 94 (plus 3 more) equals 97, correct?  Good.  Because that is how many years Eloise's grandma lived to be.  She was called home to be with our Lord this morning, and tonight I am remembering her on this blog.

Had my surprise baby, my third born Sam, been female, his name was going to be Millie, after Grandma.  My last baby was born with plumbing on the outside though, so he was named after his Grandfather Sam instead.  Not to leave Grandma in the dust, God gave Sam a piece of her--this nice inherited trait of stubbornness.

How much is it that we inherit genetically that makes us what we are?  How much of it is environment?  It is what Eloise has been pondering the last few days as I've watched my Grandmother live out her full life cycle.  I got to witness this twice in my life thus far as my paternal Grandmother also lived to be 96.  Each woman took her last breath in the same Assisted Living home in nearly the same bed, leaving the earth much as they came to it; curled in a fetal position and wrapped in a blanket.  Both of my grandmothers lived full lives and died of old age without pain. What a blessing.

Nature versus nurture, the great debate.  Is Eloise more like she is because of a genetic crap shoot, or is it because of the hands who raised me?  It's brainless to say "both" as we know both play a part, but I am leaning more on the side of "environment" when the discussion turns to the shaping of the person you are.

As far as physical stature, you'd never pick my teeny grandmothers out to be my own.  Each just barely over five feet tall, and in their day not much over 100 pounds, I towered over both of them.  I suppose if you picked me apart feature by feature, I do bear some resemblances to them, yet I am not volunteering for that now that I am 40.  However, my interests, no doubt shaped through their influences, are definitely similar to those of my grandmothers.  Tonight I will share with you the ways in which I am most like Grandma Millie.

My Grandmother loved to take pictures.  She had millions of them in boxes that we found and saved when she moved from her home to Assisted Living several years ago.  My mother, who is not a saver by nature, had the daunting task of sifting through all those pictures to find the ones that best marked the dots in the timeline of Grandma's life.  I walked into my mother's kitchen one day to find the table stacked thick with pictures.  There seemed to be somewhat of a sorting pile going on.  "Save and Toss?" I asked.  My mother nodded and then asked, "Why on earth would a person take so many pictures of flowers?"

I looked through that pile, and sure enough, there were pictures of her garden flowers, her dogs, her tomatoes, bowls of raspberries.  Given they were taken on a Kodak Instamatic, you can only imagine the picture quality.  Grainy, off-center pictures of pets and vegetables.  It made me laugh not only at my own mother's annoyance, but that I understood.  As you will see from the picture movie (when you are DONE reading this, don't cheat and skip to it), I do the same thing.

Grandma had a big garden out at her place on Station Road.  The big plot of land was divided into two parts; one for my Grandfather's vegetables and another for Grandma's flowers.  She planted rows upon rows of tulip bulbs that would come up every spring.  The garden was lined with raspberry bushes that my cousins and I would stuff on our thumbs and get poked with the itchy thorns in the process.  Out in front of her house she had a big Mulberry tree.  I found a Mulberry tree several years ago on my Uncle John's property in Cleveland.  I recognized what it was right away and plucked an odd looking fruit from the branch and popped it in my mouth.  It wasn't quite ripe yet, but as the saliva flowed into my mouth I instantly remembered my childhood---not wanting to wait for those mulberries to ripen and eating them too soon with the impatience of a Kindergartner.

My worst day was when that house was sold to Behrend, a branch of Penn State.  I had hoped that the college officials would turn the house into offices for the faculty and made myself believe that is what they would do with it.  One day I drove by to see a big heap of boards.  It was flattened, as was my heart.  It was as if a part of my childhood went away with that wrecking ball. It took me a long time to drive by there again and not be bothered by the empty space that once held so many of my childhood memories.

But God makes it so that time takes away the hurt. In time I was able to go back there without a lump in my throat.  In fact, I took my children to the very spot my Grandmother's house was, on a geocache (hobby outlined in blog #78).  There was one hidden along the creek that my sister and cousins and I used to play in. The creek was lined with Tiger Lillies that bloomed every June.

How odd that I built my house along a creek and I lined it with Tiger Lillies.  Odd.  Not so much.  A shaped preference from my childhood environment?  Most likely.  This summer Grandma was really beginning to show signs of age.  She was sleeping more and able to get out of her chair less often.  You had to shout for her to hear you, but she could always respond back.  She kept her wits about her to the very end.  I knew she was going to die soon, and I would talk to God a lot about her on my jogs.  I told Him to make sure she knew how much she's meant to all of us and to make sure she knew she was loved.  On my return from one of those jogs, I sat by the creek and put my hot, sweaty feet in the cool, creek water and thought of my Grandma.  I looked up and noticed that all the tiger lillies had died, all except for one.  You can tell by the pictures the others were long dead--only tan sticks remained, without a single green leaf or wilted flower left on them.  Then there was this one tiger lily in full bloom.  It was beautiful and bright orange and it looked like it had it's mouth wide open with a roar coming from it.  I grabbed my camera and said, "Thanks for the message, God.  I'm naming this one Millie."  Millie hung on for 12 days beyond when I first saw her.  Every day I'd jog by and thank God for the message he was sending me.  That is how God answers my prayers--he sends them through nature.  I see them all of the time.  Begin looking for them yourself after you ask God a question.  You'll see them too.

My Grandma loved to garden.  When she couldn't do so anymore, I'd pick my own vegetables from my tiny little garden, throw them in a bowl, and take them down to the Rest Home to show her.  They always made her smile.  Now don't go thinking that Grandma was a health nut like myself.  How the woman survived 97 years on pickles, Cheeze Nips, and Genesee is beyond me.  Five fruits and veggies a day?  No way.  Well, unless pickles count.

What Grandma really loved to fool with in the earth was flowers.  She knew the names of all of them.  There were all kinds of them in her yard when I was a little girl.  While we sat side by side on her outdoor glider, I asked her once what he favorite flower was.  She told me it was the daisy.  Grandma even named one of her dogs Daisy, and I am sure that is why, and I'll bet I'm the only one who knows that.  Grandma also showed me how to pluck the petals off a daisy one by one reciting, "He loves me.  He loves me not."  We'd have to say a boy's name--usually someone out of our elementary school class, and we'd pluck the petals.  More often than not, the recitation would end on "He loves me not."  We'd look at Grandma and wait for it.  She'd say, "Oh, he was probably a Kook, anyway," and she'd pop the yellow center off the stem like she was popping his head off.

You can see in the picture story that I love daisies, too.  I never really thought much of why until this summer. I am sure it was the time I spent with my Grandma in my early childhood.  A couple of my journals have daisies on the cover, and although I wasn't conscious of this fact upon their purchases, I look back now and know exactly why those books came home with me.

My Grandma was a journal keeper.  She used to have these cool 5 year diaries that she would sit by her telephone in her kitchen.  They had little places where she would write things that happened that day--family member's birthdays, when babies were born, engagements, the weather.  These little diaries, I remember one being turquoise blue, had just enough space for a few short sentences.  She never minded when I would snatch it from its resting spot and turn to the date and look back at what happened the five years prior to that.

So, too have I become a journal keeper.  You can see a few of mine on the movie.  In my younger days I was a diary writer.  In my inexperienced youth, I probably wrote too much juicy information which is why my sister and friends were in constant search of where I hid them.  I'd get to the last page and torch it in my father's incinerator out in his barn.  Now that my sister just saw the pictures of the covers, she's licking her chops to get into my house to find them and see what lies within.  Not to rain on your parade, Karen, but I now display them like Grandma did.  They sit on my kitchen counter next to my phone, too.  You are free to look at them anytime (that just takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it?).  Besides, if I write about you Sis, it is in my diary called THIS BLOG, and that is open for the whole world to see---even in Slovenia, so you better be extra nice to me from now on.

The very best thing about my Grandma is that she was sentimental.  She loved her family.  You knew it by all the pictures she saved of all of us.  Grandma knew every one's birthday even up until this past summer.  She could even get the birthdays of her great grandchildren down to the month, which was pretty impressive.  "Is Sam's birthday March 31st or March 27th?" Grandma asked me this summer.  "The 27th," I replied.  She nodded and said, "Oh yeah, that's right.  Your parents' anniversary is the 31st."  Pretty impressive for a 97 year old, wouldn't you say?

The very coolest thing that illustrates how sentimental the woman was, was something I just found hours ago and never knew about.  I can't believe my mother never mentioned this to me before.  My grandmother saved some letters my Grandfather wrote to her.  My Grandfather died New Year's Day of 1984.  They were in a simple white envelope marked "Roger's letters."

The letter I've shown on this blog is the first one written from my thirteen year old Grandfather to my thirteen year old Grandmother in April of 1930.  The letter is addressed to "Dear Friend."  My Grandfather had taken an obvious interest in my Grandmother, yet he was too shy to tell her in person.  If you look closely at the zoom of page two, my Grandfather states, "There are a few reasons why I did not have the courage to write to you."  He goes on in the letter to state that he was too shy to tell her so, and that she seemed disinterested in him.  I guess that wasn't the case.

I loved the penmanship of that letter written on plain, Depression era paper in pencil.  The formal tone to it also illustrates how very serious he was about her.  My favorite part was the closing:  "Goodbye.  From Your True Friend, Roger Heasley."  Isn't that what we all want, folks?  To marry your True Friend---even the one who lacks courage to talk to you, but eventually sends you a note, even when he was only thirteen.  Beautiful.

 My Grandmother's belongings were down to the size of a shoe box.  She didn't often get out of her nightie anymore, and gave away most of her trinkets and jewelry.  But what did she save?  Pictures of her family and the first letter from my Grandfather.  The things she kept with her until the very end were the things she loved the most.

So, like Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton sing in the photo story, "when I get where I'm going, on the far side of the sky, the first thing that I'm gonna do is spread my wings and fly," that is how I will picture my Grandmother.  She'll be on the far side of the sky.  I won't have to look hard to find her and I won't need a compass.  She's right here with me; in my tiger lillies, in my daisies, in my diaries, and in my garden.  But most of all, she is here with me in my heart.  And that is the place I will always look for her.

Brad and Dolly sing it better than any of my above words could ever say, however.  
But when I get where I'm going,
and I see my Maker's face.I'll stand forever in the light, 
of his amazing grace
Grandma gets to meet her Maker, and for this I am truly excited.  Enjoy the light, Grandma.
Love, Eloise

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lesson 93: She's My Brown Eyed Girl

Eloise is happy today.  I am happiest four days of every year:  the birthdays of my three children and the birthday of my Lord.  A quadrant of days that make my heart sing.  Each represents a day that love was born.  Love was made real eleven years ago today, September 22, 2000, the birth of Ellen Louise---and what a day that was.

That day eleven years ago started out stressful. Me, a full 9 months pregnant to my very due date--was also due into the pediatric neurologist's office for our then two year old Natalie's evaluation.  After a full year of therapy and waiting and hoping and charting and praying, the inevitable was finally upon us.  Our precious little girl, our first born, was not moving along the developmental spectrum as she should have been.  It was time to face the facts.  Something was wrong, dreadfully wrong, and it was time to put it on paper.  The final decision to determine the probable autism we suspected that she had, needed to come from the neurologist.  We needed the diagnosis written on a prescription pad in order to get the wheels in motion to receive much needed services to get Natalie some help.

The day of the scheduled appointment made months in advance, happened to land on my due date for our second child.  We didn't know if the baby was a boy or a girl, and hadn't really chosen names.  About a week before that I started praying (hard) to God that I really needed to be at this appointment.  I wanted to be there to hear it.  I asked God to give me the strength and grace to handle whatever the doctor determined.  Yes, knowing me as you do through my writing, I am sure you can guess I was holding on to the hope that Dr. Neurologist would say that my baby girl was just delayed and she needed some more time.  But in my heart I knew the truth.  I knew it because God gave it to me and that is a knowing that you can only explain to those who have ever received something like that.  You know and understand and are at a state of peace all at the same time.  That is how I knew.

God heard my prayers because I waddled into that appointment wearing flip flops and the only dress I had left to fit me, a very large black and yellow monstrosity that could have been used as a shower curtain.  I sat down at 8:00 am with hubby by my side and a screaming Natalie on the last four inches of space left on my lap.  Within 30 minutes we had what we needed, our diagnosis on a prescription pad--the golden ticket so to speak.  I was expecting a little more that what we received.  The cold words written in scratchy black pen read:  This child has autism.  Period.  That's it.  What?  No X-Ray attached?  No EEG results?  No blood tests?  Just a four word sentence based on observable behavior and data from the Early Intervention team.
The four words that changed my life forever.

I was disappointed, but I was filled with the power of God that morning because I handled it with dignity and grace just as I had asked Him for.  I felt relief that our nightmare had a name.  I felt gratitude that I lived in a city where so many services to special needs children were readily available.  But most of all I felt at peace because I knew God had my back.  I felt his hand there that day and still do.

As we were walking out of the doctor's office, I was trying to determine how I was going to deliver the news to my family that we just received the one-two punch.  Less than a year earlier, my sister's son Erik was also diagnosed with autism.  My nephew Jack was only a year old, and now I was about to have another child.  We were scared because we did not know what was in store for the two other babies.  As I am literally dragging Natalie out of the office and my mind is considering all these things, I felt a wetness running down my legs.  Could it be?   No.  Not that.  Must have peed myself again from the shock (for those of you who know me well.........).

On the ride home, the trickle turned to a steady stream and I assumed that my water was breaking along with my heart.  My hubby is known for having a tricky ticker, and I thought sending him into atrial fib that day would be a little too much to bear, so I did only what Eloise does--I told him a little fib.  "Honey--I got to go see about these cramps I'm having.  I could be leaking water and I better go have it checked."  I dropped off my hubby and screaming child and drove myself back into the doctor.  No purse.  No identification.  No overnight bag.  Just me in a mu mu.

I lumbered to the front desk without and appointment and said to the receptionist, "I'm having a baby."  She looked at me with her thin smile and said, "I can see that.  Do you have an appointment?"  "Yeah," I replied.  "It's called right now."  I left the window, walked around through the side door they usually usher you through, found an empty room, and plopped down in it.  I get ballsy when I am in shock.  The Nurses were none too happy with me and I could hear excited, hushed whispers of them outside of the room in the hallway.  I was sensing I was just about to get yelled at when I felt the gush--the whole dam let go.  No time to argue with Florence Nightingale now.  I had a baby to bring into the world.

Luckily my doctor's office was directly across the street from the hospital, so I walked myself over.  Well, actually, I was escorted by Nursie, who suddenly was very caring and compassionate.  All I could think of was Mary riding that damn donkey and how much that must have sucked.  The walk across the asphalt was no picnic.  I can't imagine contracting through the desert wobbling on the back of a donkey.

I was taken to a room, given a gown, and had a few minutes to think while they left me to change.  The lights were off, it was very quiet, and I began to cry.  "Today, God?  Really?  Today?  This is not good timing.  I'm not ready to do this today, so if you could make it stop, I would appreciate it."  The contractions came on stronger.

I was alone in the room, had nothing with me, and I had been crying.  I removed all of my rings the week before, including my wedding ring, because my fingers were so swollen.  The nurse that was assigned to me was soft spoken and sweet.  She seemed to sense something was wrong and asked me as much.  I'm not much of a talker when it comes to emotional stuff like that, so I said, "I'm having a really crappy day and I don't want to talk about it."  She looked me in the eyes, held my hand, and assured me things would be OK.  I felt her energy run from her hand to mine and I believed her, and slowly over the next couple of hours, I told her my story.  Nursie sat on the edge of my bed, brushed a tear from my cheek and said, "I know what it feels like.  My 13 year old daughter has autism, too."  God is good.

Hours later hubby made it to the hospital with sister in tow.  We rode out the labor together, the three of us flipping topics from autism to the new baby to the Olympics.  The Summer Games were in Sydney that year and we put those on the TV to pass the time.  If there was ever a pain free labor, that is what I would call mine with Ellen.  I tossed and turned in the bed a few times out of discomfort, and after a quick peek, doc said it was time to push.  Three pushes later out she came.  A little ray of sunshine, a beam sent directly from heaven, a punctuation mark on a long, dark day.   She was a beautiful little girl with a shock of brown hair.  I named her Ellen Louise.  The pain free birth and I mean that.  They say God only gives you what you can bear, and I do believe he took that labor pain from me that day because other parts of me were hurting so much.  God knew exactly what I needed and He sent me Ellen.  God is great.

Ellen was born at 11:00 at night and I don't believe I let her out of my sight for the next two years.  When it was time for the nurses to take her from me to clean her up, I walked down to where they were and watched through the window at 2:30 in the morning.  No nursery for Ellen and no rest for Mommy.  She stayed in that high, see through crib right next to me all night.  And there began our attachment.  Ellen rode on me like a barnacle on a boat for two straight years.  Not out of clingyness as much as a need for one another.  It was like I grew another appendage and it seemed quite natural.

In the eleven years since, Ellen has become not only another appendage, but my right arm.  The two of us click around my house like the gears on a well oiled machine.  Our house is busy and there is always a lot to be done.  I can just look at Ellen, without saying a single word, and she will know what I need and get up and do it.  Ellen has an intuition of a ninety year old.

My brown eyed girl the the sweetest, kindest, most tolerant and selfless kid I have ever known.  You can see it in her smile.  When making this slide show I had hundreds of pictures to choose from because she always takes a good picture.  Someone said to me once, "Ellen is so photogenic."  I agreed, but knew that her true beauty comes from within, and it shines through just like a ray of sunshine.  If I was a Californian, Slovenians, I could have named her Sunshine.

Ellen would give the shirt off her own back to anyone, and has done so for Natalie on several occasions when Natalie wanted to wear it.  She handles the quirkiness of her sister's autism with humor and love.  Ellen tolerates the antics of her little brother with the patience and grace.

 I never had known a kid who wanted a little brother or sister more than Ellen.  I had suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage when Ellen was five.  She asked me afterwards, "Does this mean I'll never have a little brother or sister?"  At 36 years old, I didn't quite know how to answer her.  I said, "We'll just have to ask God and see what he says."  For a straight week, we could hear Ellen's prayers through the baby monitor we still kept in her room.  This is what she would pray in the softest little whisper:  "God, please send us another baby.  I don't care if it's a boy or a girl.  I don't even care if it's autistic, because then Natalie and Erik would have another person who understands them.  I'd love it with my whole heart.  Please send us another baby."
If your heart hasn't broken with this story yet and you just felt that twinge, that's what it was.  Don't worry though.  God made it so that broken hearts always heal.  This story should prove that.  God sent us another miracle less than a year later, and if you haven't met him in person or through my words, his name is Sam.  God is a wonder.

Speaking of Sam, he's going through this crazy phase of weird fears.  Right now he is afraid to sleep in his room and has set up camp with Ellen.  He refuses to sleep without her and has been parked on her floor on a futon sleeper for almost three weeks now.  Ellen doesn't mind...yet anyway.  I keep telling her (weakly) "It's just a phase......"  Ellen loves to read before she goes to bed (just like her mama).  When I went in to check on her (them) the other night, I saw she was reading in bed with a flashlight.  I said, "Oh, Honey.  You may strain your eyes.  You should turn on your lamp."  Ellen shushed me and pointed to Sam, mouthing to me that she didn't want to wake him.  Selfless for girl who has only lived a decade, huh?

God did hear my prayers eleven years ago.  I didn't need to know nor care if my baby was a boy or a girl.  I just needed to know that God sent me the right child, the perfect one to hold a place in my heart for all eternity.  Boy, howdy, did he ever!  He sent me my brown eyed girl.  Thank you, God for your perfect choice.

Happy birthday, Ellen Louise!
Mother Eloise

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lesson 92: A Trip Down (Recent) Memory Lane

Fall is fast approaching.  We officially welcome it on September 23rd this year.  So technically I am correct in posting the last of my summertime blogs.  This one is set to Faith Hill's song Sunshine & Summertime.  For the record, I am now more jealous of her than any human being because she's got my man, Tim McGraw.  I have to commend her for this song though.  It worked perfectly with my summer picture movie.  So thanks (for nothin'), Faith.

Summer is extra fun in our house.  It is one big jumble of softballandfishingandpicnicsandbeachesandgokartsandskyrides.  Never ending fun.  But alas, that is not true.  All good things must come to an end, even summers.

So if you would like to see how Eloise spent her summer, play the movie.  If you want to listen to the voice of my Public Enemy Number One, play the movie.  And if you want to smile and remember a beautiful summer, play the movie.

I hope the skies are blue where you are.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lesson 91: September Song

Eloise likes her music to match the season.  I'm a nerd that way--or maybe it's just the autism in me (I believe there is some in all of us).  Here is a good September song for you from one of my favorite short lived bands, Plain White T's.  They sing that song Delilah that topped the charts several years ago.  I haven't followed them closely much since, but relative Kayla P turned me on to this song.  Thanks for your timeliness, Kayla.  I was in the mood for a midweek blog post.

One year ago I learned how to post my first youtube video onto this blog.  It was an exciting day---oh the possibilities I was thinking of at that time!  Cool!  I can share my words AND music. How awesome!  If you want to look back through the archives, you'll find it--a September 14, 2010 post of Daughtry's song September.  I was writing about the nostalgia of my high school days.  The smell of grapes was in the air again, the marching band was practicing, and the same coaches were blowing their whistles on the football practice field as I left work today (happy coaches this year--my Huskies are 2-0!).  A year has gone by.  Some things have changed, yet others still stay the same.

Enjoy the September song.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lesson 90: What We Learned

I'll keep it short today because it is a quiet day of remembrance here in the United States.  We all remember because we will never forget.  So today, when you reflect on September 11th, watch this video clip Pastor showed our church this morning.  The words in the black boxes are all meaningful, but it is the last three on the video that mean the most to me.  Watch for them.  When you ask me what I learned from the greatest tragedy of my lifetime, this is how I will respond:

  • Faith is our refuge
  • Hope sustains us
  • Love endures all

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lesson 89: A Star is Born

Yesterday, which was Labor Day here in the US, is the unofficial end of summer. The real fall comes in on September 23rd this year.  Ellen is thrilled that she will be celebrating her birthday on the last day of summer this year.  I am working on a nice collection of my summer pictures from 2011 for you, coming on the next blog post, so stay tuned.

But alas, the end of summer as we know it is Labor Day.  Theme parks close down.  Kids head back to school.  There is a sadness for many when we say goodbye to summer, but for Eloise I am sad for but a minute because I always look forward to something else---my boys of fall---my football players.  And man, do I love them all!  From my NFL quarterbacks, the speedy college running backs, right down to the beefy lineman on the local high school football team.   Going to a football game and feeling that energy is about the only time I ever wish I had been a boy.

My true love is high school football and I've been a fan of my orange and black since my first game I attended in 1971 when I was six months old.  My hubby loves the Big Ten and looks like a smurf until December because all he wears is navy blue and white clothing.  My parents are life long Steelers fans, so I am kept up to date on the NFL as well.  Weekends are about game day soup and chili and hard rolls and beer.  It is a fun time of year and the perfect remedy to the Summers End Blues.

Eloise is a fan, and I never got my chance to play, but God did give me one thing---he gave me a son.  And it just so happens that I have a Little Gridders field in my backyard with a nice goal post I can see out of my kitchen window.  I like to take Sam down there and see if he can kick the ball through the uprights.  He's almost there.  He's a strong lefty and always wants to kick the ball with his bare foot.  I never told him to do that and I often think how bad that must hurt his little foot, but he never complains.

One of the last nice weekends of the summer a few weeks back, I took my family down to the high school stadium for a little exercise.  The girls were running the track and I hoofed it up and down the 677 steps of Paul J Weitz Stadium---twice!  I made Hubby bring a football and toss Sam some passes.  By luck we had the stadium completely to ourselves.  Shhhhh.  The girls think that I got it as a reward for an outstanding work record, since I work for the school district.  Children learn best from modeling, so what they don't know won't hurt them.

This is Sam out on the field.  I laugh at how tiny he looks out there.  The funny part is that Hubby would do that one-two-three-hike thing and want Sam to go out for a pass.  Every time my husband dropped back to throw a pass (he was once the Glory Boy for the neighboring Fighting Grape Pickers-----and yes, Slovenians, that is really their school mascot), instead of going deep into the end zone, Sam ran up and tackled my husband.  YES!!  I got me a workhorse Lineman!  A nice feisty one who likes to hit just for the fun of it.  The gritty ones are always my favorite.

So I posted the above video for all my boys of fall, from my little one all the way up to you big ones who love the game.  Watch this one the whole way through if you can.  You'll see some greats, from Joe Paterno to Peyton Manning (love that guy).  Tim McGraw is my man, but I have to give to Kenny for this song and this video.  Enjoy.

Hopefully, I'll have a football star someday, even if he only plays for the orange and black and nothing beyond.  Sam will forever be my hero.  But another star was born today.  I gave birth to my labor of love on Labor Day weekend---my book, my novel, my heart and soul project I've thrown myself into for the last six months.  I made the last adjustments after midnight, so her official birth is today, September 6th, and for a special reason, of course.

I have honestly and openly admitted I am terrible at math and don't understand numbers.  Some of you readers struggle to write a sentence, with the pencil hovering over the blank page for an eternity before you can get a word down.  I'm like that with math.  I can't see it and it doesn't make sense.  I'm a good student, so I memorized it and practiced it and I'd be fine if all the problems were exactly the same, but throw a negative number in the equation and all hell breaks loose in my brain.  Despite of my lack of ability in the mathematical realm, I do enjoy numbers and they fascinate me.  Sometimes they even haunt me and in those instances I call myself Hurley--you LOST fans will understand.

Unlike my children, I got to pick my book's birthday, and I couldn't think of a better day than 9-6.  No matter how you work it, the numbers match with my own birthday of 3-3.  You can multiply them, add them, or put all four of them together and get all kinds of cool combinations.  My book's birthday is important to me, so I couldn't have it on just some random day.  September 6th it is, and I'm making a cake tonight.  A pink one with sprinkles and I am even having some.

So what's it about, Eloise, you ask?  The book is titled The Key, has some nice numbers worked into the story line.  It is an easy to read novel about my daughter Ellen and some discoveries she makes during the fall of the year.  There is good learning, humor, and Christian themes, all of which are important to me.  Ellen has been my first proof reader and she's hung with me chapter by chapter.  I judge how the writing process is going by watching her reaction.  So far, it's been a hit.

I wrote the end this weekend and she has not heard it yet.  Ellen asks me every day if it is done.  I just can't give it to her to read on some random day, of course.  She has to wait, because waiting and patience bring about good things.  Last weekend I was in a teasing mood and I left her with a cliff hanger chapter for her bedtime story.  Ellen, my usual late sleeper was up at the crack of dawn the next morning, asking me if I wrote further through the night (she knows me well, of course I did).  "Read it to me!" she demanded, "I can't stand it any more!  I have to know what happens!"  I told her at that point that I quit the book.  I got tired of writing it and I was going to stop.  Ellen paused, and squinted her eyes up at me and said, "Mom, you never quit anything.  I'll wait forever for it if I have to."  She's a chip off the old block.  I had my fun for another minute or two and then read her some more.

So what day will Eloise choose to give the first copy of an unrevised, unedited draft?  Why the last day of summer, of course, September 22nd, Ellen's 11th birthday.  I think that would be a nice way to officially to bid farewell to our favorite season, don't you.

And if you LOST fans want to see an even cooler way my numbers work together, consider this:  Oceanic flight 815 crashed on the island on September 22nd, 2004, birthing my favorite TV show of all time.  I remember watching the pilot episode while cleaning up the clutter of birthday wrappings and ice cream cake from Ellen's fourth birthday.  How about this one, too---look at the time length of the Kenny Chesney video posted above--8:15 in length.  You just can't make stuff up this good.  I think it is written in the stars that this novel is going to be a big hit.   Eloise knows, a star was born today.

Happy birthday to The Key,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lesson 88: God is With Us

This is a post that needs not many of my words, just an urging to please pass this one along.  A news agency reported that this clip on youtube was receiving 10,000 views per hour.  I loved it so much that I posted it on my facebook page.  Given that Eloise keeps her identity mum, I have a whopping total of 94 facebook friends.  This blog, however has far greater readership--over 11,000 hits to date.  Therefore I am using both avenues of social media to spread this very important message.  I am hoping that my Slovenian friends will pass this along in their country as well.

After the third time I watched it and set down the Kleenex, I looked up the meaning of Emmanuel's name.  I knew it was something Biblical as I am a Christian and have recited it in prayers and sung it in songs (well tried to, anyway).  When I went to my name search site, I typed in "Emmanuel" in the search box.  A millisecond later, "God is with us" popped up.  My response was two little words: No doubt.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lesson 87: Wake Me Up When September Ends

Ahhh, September.  That joyous month for teachers.  That wonderful month when the kids return to school rested and ready to learn.................OK,  wake me up.  I'm dreaming.  I just put in four days and they are all not ready to return.  Trust me.  At Open House tonight I head the word "boring" thirty times in the first half hour.  Hang tight, kids.  We have books to pass out and rules to go over.  Stick with us for a few days and things will pick up.  Shortly you'll be whining because we are giving you too much work to do.  School is fun.  If you disagree, then you are not trying hard enough to make it fun.  It's all about attitude (read my last blog post).  Change your thinking and you can do anything--even memorizing your dreaded math facts.  There's no two ways around it--you need to know them, so stop making excuses and just get on with it.

I was looking for a September song.  I like it when my songs match the time of year.  I remembered this one from years ago from one of my favorite bands, Green Day.  Time of My Life is my #4 favorite song of all time and I wrote about it a month back.   I never watched the video before, and I have to admit, it sucked me in like a cheap reality TV show.  Originally I was thinking about my tiredness during the month of September and how the song would match my fatigue.  However when I watched the above video, it is a little movie about young love and a choice the boy makes.  I thought it was a predictable song, but it surprised me.  If you watch it the whole way through, it may surprise you, too.

It is a song about the innocence of young love.  It reminded me of the teenagers I've been working with at the high school for the last week.  I observe them in the hallways and they are a funny bunch.  May God bestow extra blessings upon you tonight if you are a parent of one.  Was I ever like that?  Did I ever sit alone in the bleachers wondering about someone?  Was I that naive?

It also got me thinking about how I don't like guys who wear eyeliner and I just had to wonder why the lead singer didn't fix his chipped front tooth.  He has to earn a good income from his record deals, doesn't he?  Surely the guy could afford dental work.  Nevertheless, the song I stumbled on by accident ended up making me think.  And that dear readers is what schools are trying to teach kids to do, to think.  Thinking is good, otherwise you are just existing and just existing is bad.

Here's to the stimulation of the mind.  Think.
Professor Eloise