Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dancing with the Dust Motes

So facebook has this new application that creates a pretty picture, and randomly selects 10-15 of your status updates over the last year to create a status collage. And the first one in my collage was from the day I wantched my youngest son dancing with the dust motes in the sunlight in the living room (:

As soon as I saw that status update, I was instantly transported to that moment.

There was no music playing. And the front door was open to allow extra light to come in through the screen door windows. The sun was coming in brightly-- lighting up the dust motes from the couch that my boy had just jumped off. It was almost like watching glitter in a snow globe. And at that moment, my son noticed them-- and started to stir them up with his arms, jumping around, and giggling in complete joy. He started turning and spinning with his arms out to watch them swirl. He entertained himself with the dust motes for almost half an hour, completely in the moment of it-- and enraptured in the unexpected entertainment.

It reminded me that my father always used to say that I was a cheap date. 10 cents and photocopier could keep me entertained. A half filled bottle of water was almost an hour's worth of diversion. A quarter and a flat surface. Fallen leaves. Even the wind. I've always been easily entertained and amused. It still makes my husband smile at me to see me delighted over the simple things.

And it makes me happy to know that my children have inherited that gift.

Friday, December 18, 2009

At What Point is it a Murder?

This morning, as I was taking my youngest in to school, and listening to 99.7 Woof FM's "Dumb Crook News", I happened to pass the aerial antics of over 30 crows, and it made me wonder: At what point is it considered 'a murder of crows'? How many does it take?

Turns out to be harder to internet search than you might think, but the -general- consensus is that it's a murder once there are at least 15.

There are several tales relating to the origin of the term. But as this blog isn't actually about that, I'll just post the web addresses, so you can sate your curiosity:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/crowfaq.htm#roost
http://community.livejournal.com/word_ancestry/58301.html
http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2008/01/murder-of-crows.html

No, outside of the brief question wondering the above, what really happened in my mind while I watched the crows this morning was two things.

First, I went through the lyrics of one of my favorite Counting Crows songs, "A Murder of One"

Well, I dreamt I saw you walking up a hillside in the snow
Casting shadows on the winter sky as you stood there counting crows.
One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for girls and four for boys,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.

Which turns out, after -another- internet search to have a long and varied history itself.
...Again, very interesting, but not what I'm after:

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/boardarchives/2003/feb2003/doescountingcrows.html

No, this blog is actually about the second thing that passed through my mind in that moment. It was a montage of the crow and raven related moments in my life.

I have always thought of them as good luck. This could be because they clean up the road kill on the side of the road, so I neither have to look at nor smell it. Or it could be that, when I was young, someone mentioned them being 'bad luck', and being the ornery child I was, I decided that wasn't going to be the case... That's -exactly- how 13 got to be one of my favorite numbers, so there's precedence. But more likely, I suspect that it's because nature, almost as a rule, has always fascinated me and filled me with wonder for the things in the world around us. And, lets face it, large numbers of ANY bird flying across the heavens is awe inspiring.

But I also associate the bird with my husband Mark. He too has always been fascinated with the bird, though on a more personal level than I. So when my family moved away from his, seeing a crow would remind me of him, even though he was too far away to actually see, and it would make me smile.

My mother, on the other hand, feels -very- differently about them. To her, they're an evil omen. When I was a teenager, I had the habit of naming the vehicles. She actually sold a brand new car because I named it Raven.

My children each have four names, just like I did when I was born. And their names spell out a word. My youngest was going to spell out 'crow', but when my mother found out, she begged us to at least change the first letter to a 'K' because she was superstitious that we would be cursing him. We changed the first letter, not because we agreed with her, but because it really distressed her so.

And ever since I was a child, as far back as I can remember, stepping out in the morning to begin my day, and hearing the crow's caw-- I always took it as them saying, "Good morning" to the new day and to me. My children have grown up with my responding, "And good morning to yourself as well!", that my boys will also talk to crows.

There are some mornings, when we're getting out of the car in the morning at my youngest's school, that he'll grab my arm, all excited, and say, "Momma! Momma! Look! There are (fill in the number between one and seven, usually) crows this morning!....Good morning crows!!" And when one caws back, he'll say, "Look Momma! It wished me a good morning too!", and starts his day, and mine, in a good mood.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Children see magic because they look for it."

This morning, my friend Ed shared this quote from Christopher Moore (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal).

I absolutely LOVE this quote! I'd never heard it before today, but it's absolutely true.

As we've been getting ready for Christmas, my four year old and I have been having many discussions about Jesus-- that Christmas is, in part, the celebration of his birth.

About a week ago, my boys wanted to know about him dying on the cross, so we had a conversation that involved several youtube clips for children about his resurrection. I mention this because both of my boys were absolutely fascinated with him rising from the dead and going to heaven.

So my four year old, every time he brings up the baby Jesus, will tell me that Jesus was magic. He had magic hands that could heal the sick. And a magic spirit that went up to heaven and God. And that God is magic because he can go between heaven and earth.

Now, we also have many traditions in my house that center around St. Nicholaus. And my children will talk about the magic of Santa as well. Like God, he knows what you've been doing, and whether or not your being good. But unlike God, he has a list he has to check.

I've tried very hard not to lead my children falsely about St. Nick, so whenever they outright ask me if he's real, my answer has always been, "St. Nicholaus the man was very much real, a long time ago. But I believe the spirit of St. Nicholaus is very much alive today, in the spirit of giving to others." ....If you've been paying attention, you can probably figure out where this is going. . . I didn't. (lol)

But my children made the instant connection between Jesus and Santa-- they were both real men in the past, whose magic spirits are alive today. Both good men, trying to improve the world for the people in it.

My friend Jeanie's daughter, and my oldest son have been really good friends, pretty much since they moved onto our street three years ago. And every now and then, while they've been playing outside, they've had theological discussions of their own. Pretty intense for 6 (my son) and 8 (her daughter) year olds, at the time of this discussion.

One day, they got onto the subject of magic-- it was brought up because my son had just seen the latest Harry Potter movie, and my friend's daughter was talking about how magic is the work of the devil and it's evil. My son adamently denied it and they both rushed into the house to ask me. I listened to her explanation, and then I asked her, "Is the sun breaking through the clouds to shine down on you evil?" To which she answered, "No."

"Is a rainbow shining across the heavens evil?"

"No."

"Well how about the first flowers pushing up through the earth in the spring? Or the leaves changing colors in the fall?"

"Well....No Mrs. Janin. None of that is evil....But...But that's not magic!"

"Isn't it? It's the magic of the world around us. It's in everything that lives and grows. It's the miracle of new life, the wonder of nature, the joy of happy moments. Jesus performed miracles, didn't he?"

"Yes."

"And do you think, perhaps, that might have been a bit of magic?"

"...Yes. I guess maybe it could be."

"So all magic isn't evil?"

"No, I guess not."

To which I smiled and said, "Like everything else in this world, it's all about your intentions and what you do with it, that determines whether something is good or evil."

With as frequently as we discuss God and Jesus at our house, you might think we're Christian... and if you're set hard and fast of what your definition of what a Christian is, then you're probably outrageously offended by these two stories.

My husband is Christian. I suspect that my children will probably be Christian, and I encourage them to believe in God and heaven, and teach them about Jesus because he had some great lessons and the Bible is full of wonderful stories. But we also have conversations about the Hindu gods and beliefs. And the differences between Jewish faith and Christianity. We've had discussions on the Native American shamanism, the Celtic pantheon, and the Greek and Roman beliefs as well. I've taught them that mythology is the religion of past civilizations; Doesn't mean there aren't lessons to be learned from them.

So I'll leave you with one of my favorite lessons from Jesus and the Bible:

Matthew 21: 18-22

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

And when the disciples saw it, they marveled saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Old dogs and new tricks

So the other day, I was taking my youngest to school, and passed by the local movie theatre, where the marquee read: "New Moon" and "Old Dogs".

It made me smile and got me thinking about the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

A quick internet search shows that this sentiment has been around a LONG time:

The dogge must lerne it when he is a whelpe, or els it wyl not be; for it is harde to make an olde dogge to stoupe.
[1530 J. Fitzherbert Husbandry (ed. 2) G1V]

Time travel not withstanding, all I have to say is J. Fitzherbert never met Cesar Millan...

Possum on the Half Shell

So over the last two days, I've been reminded that this is the time of year in the south when both the possum, and their armored cousin, come out at night. Sadly, this is most notable in the number of those that just didn't make it when crossing the road.

But for the ones who do... well, they have all sorts of tales.

I saw my first possum when I was 5. My sister and I were living with my Aunt and Uncle while my mother was in training or stationed overseas for the ARMY and couldn't take us with her. I really couldn't tell you-- I was too young to remember that. But what I -do- remember is that my Uncle was a game warden, and we used to get to ride around with him when he was doing daylight patrols. One such day, he stopped the vehicle in the middle of the road, got out...and proceeded to climb ON TOP of the roof! We all filed out because THIS was an adventure! Turned out that there was a family of possum sleeping on a branch over the road. Momma, and at least three babies. And my Uncle didn't want any of them slipping and falling to the road, so he gently nudged them with a blunt stick until they moved along. I remember thinking they were absolutely adorable, fluffy brown critters that looked a lot like a really cool plush toy. But I wasn't allowed to have one. And once they moved on, well, so did we.

The next time I saw a possum, I was married with a baby of my own. It was the middle of winter, fast approaching the middle of the night-- and the possum was snow white, and this sucker HISSED! I was taking the house trash out to our street trash container-- which was just outside the door. Complete with the lid on top, all closed. So I took the lid off like I always did and was about to put the trash bag in there...when my trash can hissed at me. It was -huge-! For a brief second, I thought I might be looking at the mutant offspring of a feral cat and an enormous rat. But once my heart slowed down a little, and I actually looked at it, I realized it was just a possum in his winter coat out for a bite to eat. I set the trash bag down on the road, taking a step back as I laughed, then called to Mark to help me dump our unwanted visitor out. The possum didn't like it, but he went about his way pretty peacably.

I didn't see my first live armadillo until I was 16. Up to that point, if you'd asked me the native habitat of an armadillo, I'd have been inclined to tell you, "Upside down, stiff, on the side of the road." Now, the one I saw, I only saw the back end of... but that's really at the tail end of this story, so let me start from the beginning:

So I was 16, and it's the first time we lived in Alabama. And it was my turn to give my little sister a bath. While she and I were in the bathroom taking care of that, my parents were having an adventure of their own.

My mother had gone into the backyard to put something away, but she couldn't see what she was doing, so she called to my Dad to turn the back porch light on. As soon as he did-- my mother realized she was within touching distance of an armadillo! And that sucker CHARGED! So my mother turned around, yelled (Okay, she was -almost- screaming), and fled-- right past my father and into the carport to go around the house. Well, my Dad, figuring he could help, grabbed a shovel and followed right behind that armadillo. Now, that right there might have been the end of that armadillo...except that my father's belt failed and his pants began slipping off him.

This is the part where I finished dressing my sister, and headed to the front door to see what all the commotion was, as my mother was still yelling -- just in time to see my father, his pants around his ankles, a shovel over his head with both hands, yell to my mother, "Kathy, jump to the right and get out of the way!" Then I watched my mother jump to the right as a speeding armadillo fled past as fast as those little legs could go-- and my father threw the shovel after it-- WAY missing it. Then watching, as my parents laughd, as my dad retrieved his pants, my mother retrieved the shovel...and that armadillo just KEPT on running.

To this day, when I think about 'possum on the half shell', THIS is the first image in my mind.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Love is a flower, friendship, a sheltering tree.

So today, my oldest son has been asking me to take him through my memory box. It's a miniature desk that my parents gave me when I graduated high school. And to be honest, I hadn't a clue what was going to be in it. Well, tonight, when he asked me again, I happened to be in the dining room, so I told him yes. And when we opened it, the first thing that catches the eye led my son to say, "Mom.... why do you have a piece of trash in there?"

As I pulled it out, I said, "I bet it's not trash, but let's see." And it was a Dove's milk chocolate wrapper that has been in there for at least 10 years. And on the inside were these words:

Love is a flower, friendship a sheltering tree.

When I read them aloud, my son proclaimed, "Oh. It's about you and Daddy." And we moved on to the rest of the contents of that small mysterious space. Him, content in finding the answer to his curiosity; and I dwelling on the candy wrapper and my son's interpretation.

I've just put my boys to bed for the night, then looked the saying up, fairly sure it was a quote. And it is. But the poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

It's beautiful. It's simple. It's poetic. And, as my son pointed out, it's also fitting.

So tonight, I'm going to tell you a story about a rose, a boy, and a girl.

Now, I've mentioned before that I saw Mark for the first time while waiting for the school bus when I was 14. I really did look up and he caught my eye and stole my breath.

And then I looked down and away because I didn't want him to catch me staring at him. I couldn't figure out what to do. Those who know me probably won't believe it, but back in the day, I was -shy-. And -talking- to a boy I liked was just NOT going to happen! So I didn't say anthing while we stood there waiting. And I didn't say anything while we were on the bus. And I didn't say anything as we got off of it either. And then I was at school...and for the life of me, I couldn't tell you -what- I learned that day, because all I could think about was trying to come up with SOME way to talk to that boy! By the end of the day, I still hadn't come up with any ideas. But when I got on the bus, he was already there-- and no one was sitting beside him, and on the spot, I decided it was now or never! So I walked over and delivered the best pick up line in recorded history: "Hi! My name is Janin."

Then I asked if I could sit with him, and we had very little conversation, but I was sitting there and I had TALKED to the beautiful red headed boy! Now, I didn't know at the time, but he was even more painfully shy than I-- and the thought that a girl would approach him was as awkward for him as it was for me. When we reached our stop, I said, "Good-bye, and I'll see you tomorrow." And we didn't walk home together.

The next school day, he stopped me in the stairwell, handed me a note...and fled. I did mention he was even more shy than I was, right?

Well, the note was an introduction, and I learned that the name of the beautiful red headed boy was Mark. Now, I can't tell you when it happened, but it seemed like, from that moment on, we were best friends.

So you're probably wondering when we became boyfriend and girlfriend. (LOL) The closest to that comes MUCH later in this tale (;

We had our ups and downs, as any friendship will, and not a full year later, my family was restationed to Alabama. And when it came time for Christmas, I learned that his Grandmother lived down here. So when his family came down to visit her, he came over to visit me.

My mother always tells me that I was such an easy, innocent child to take care of.

Quick survey: For those of you with 15-16 year old daughters, how long would you leave them completely alone in the house with the boy they obviously like?

Mark came over to visit, and my parents and sisters left to go sight seeing... for over 4 hours.

Mark and I were talking and playing chess when they left... and we were talking and playing chess when they returned. And we'd been doing the same the entire time they were gone as well.

No. Seriously. Since we've been married, we've periodically joked about missed opportunities because of it (lol).

So were we dating? Nope. Still just best friends.

Then my family moved to Louisiana. And he drove down especially to visit me during Christmas. And his family was still living in Virginia.

Still just best friends. Both of us dating other people.

Why? Why hadn't we dated? Why weren't we boyfriend and girlfriend?

Well, to be quite frank, when we first met, I was a complete prude. Boys were still, 'icky.' Even beautiful boys. So I wasn't interested.

And once boys stopped being icky, well, we were dating other people.

So at 17, I started college at Scholar's College, at NSU, in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Mark's family moved to Texas, but he stayed in Virginia, living with his girlfriend and another housemate. A year later, I was living in my own apartment. And Mark stopped by to visit me as he was moving in with his parents to start going to school in Texas.

The day he was leaving, my friend Richard walked over to visit me and saw us hugging, "Good-bye." Then Mark drove away. Richard walked up to me and said, "Boyfriend?"

"No. Just my best friend."

He paused a moment, waited until I looked at him, then said, "Janin... Friends don't hug like that. People who love each other do."

I sort of shrugged it off, pointed out that he had a girlfriend and moved on with the days activities.

So it's October of 1998. And my Grandpa Ervin died. I went home to my parent's house and we made the drive up to Michigan for the memorial service. On the way up, I was devastated that my Grandpa was gone. There were so many great memories of him-- and now there would never be any new ones. I loved my Grandpa, and there are still some times that I miss him. But this story is about something else. So why mention Grandpa Ervin at all?

Because on the long return drive, I was still thinking about my Grandpa Ervin. And I realized that he was truly a GOOD man. He cared about his family. He was hard working and honest. He could make you smile after you'd skinned your knee, and admonish you for bad behavior with a look. He never raised his voice, he was a quiet man. And quick with a hug. I always remember the sparkle in his eyes when he was up to good natured mischief. And I started thinking about the other men I would consider good men. And the list was astonishingly short. I could list the good men in my life on a single hand: My Grandpa Ervin, my cousin Kevin, my cousin Scott.... and Mark.

At at this point in our relationship, I was on the brink of losing him. And I realized, with growing apprehension and fear that that was the last thing in the world I wanted to happen. I finally -realized- what my friend Richard had plainly seen and told me: I LOVED Mark. The way a woman loves a man.

But Dear God! How on -earth- could I tell him?!? We'd been friends for -7- years. And I was -terrified- that he would walk out of my life... and terrified of telling him that I never wanted him to. I couldn't imagine my life without him. He had always been the first person I called with the important news in my life. Be it good or bad. He had been my pen pal for 6 years.

He was coming to my Halloween party. And I did something I don't advice anyone do. Now, I'm not much of a drinker. To be honest, I've only been drunk a handful of times-- the first because I didn't know any better; but even then I knew that people used being drunk as an excuse to say what they wanted to say. So this night, I drank for courage. Had way too much vodka (which, on a side note, should NEVER be combined with eating nothing other than brownies and chips), asked him into my room, and confessed... then threw up in the trashcan like I've never been so sick before in my life.... I did mention that nerves, and a stomach full of brownies, chips and vodka were a bad combination, right?

After cleaning up and brushing my teeth, Mark and I talked, and we shared my bed for the first time as a man and a woman.

Six months later, we were making preparations for our wedding and as my mother and I were sewing my wedding dress, she turned to me and asked, "Janin, how did Mark propose to you."

I looked up at her, my mind returning to that night, blinked, and in slow motion turned to Mark, who was looking at me with the same semi-blank, semi-astonished look on his face that I knew was mirrored on mine. And I answered my mother, "....He didn't.... We both... kind of... (shrug) presumed." To which Mark nodded.

So it's September of 1999, and the pastor of the church we're going to be married in has told us that we need to set aside an hour and half to come in for the pre-marriage questioning. He sits us down at his desk, pulls out this huge book of questions, opens it, and asks, "So how long have you known each other?"

I look at Mark, Mark looks at me, and I say, "7 years? 8?" And Mark says, "Yeah. About there."

And the pastor proceeds to close the big book of questions and says, "Okay. Well. We're done with that. You're obviously -NOT- rushing into anything. And at this point, you know each other pretty well." And we set the date for Halloween 1999, shook hands, and left.

So it's time for me to choose my flowers for my bouquet. And I know -exactly- what I'm looking for...I just don't know if they make it.

I've always been a nerd. And random tidbits of information are a favorite of mine. So I knew the symbolism of roses:

White is the purity of innocence.
Yellow, friendship.
Pink, happiness.
Orange, romance.
and Red, love.

And I wanted a flower that would speak of Mark and my relationship: You see, I had taken comfort in our friendship for almost a decade, before my love blossomed; and I found the flower I was looking for in the gyspy carnival rose. It's a yellow rose, whose tips progress from orange to red; as our friendship blossomed into romance and love.

So my son, in his moment of clarity, was absolutely correct when he said it was about us:

Love is a flower, friendship, a sheltering tree.

Though I suspect Mr. Coleridge meant that love is beautiful and spectacular and short lived, while friendship takes a long time to grow, isn't as amazing to see, but provides us the comfort of being ourselves.

Personally, I think that well tended trees will bear a lifetime of spectacular flowers and sheltering shade-- and that love that blossoms from friendship will continue to grow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry Christmas, Spot

When I was pulling out the Christmas stockings today, and getting ready to put them up, I was thinking about the fact that we're going to need to purchase a new stocking for Ruby, the pitbull terrier that we adopted in June.


So I was completely unprepared for coming across Spot's Christmas stocking. But this is the end of the tale, and I want to start at the beginning:

In 1997, my mother lent me our Siamese cats, Thai and Vishnu, to keep my company while I was living in my first apartment and going to college at NSU, in Natchitoches, LA. While in my care, Vishnu had to be put to sleep for renal failure. And that Christmas, when I brought Thai up with me to visit my parents, my mother told me that she missed her cat, kindly took her back, and gave me $200, with the friendly instructions to get my own.

As soon as I got back to Louisiana, I called the local ASPCA and asked if they had two female cats. I wanted any cat I got to have company during the day while I was away at classes, and knew from a lifetime of growing up with cats that females just don't develop the spraying issues that males have. The woman on the other end of the line told me that they had three cats, and I was welcome to come down and look at them.

My best friend, Mark (who was not my husband, nor even my boyfriend at this point), came with me to the Natchitoches Animal Shelter. Upon arrival, the lady working the counter told me that they had three cats-- an older female, that someone young like me probably wouldn't want. And that they had two kittens-- siblings, male and female, that had been brought in just the day before. They were three months old, litter box trained-- and the person who brought them in had rescued them from the dumpster behind their building. Someone had put these two little kittens inside a closed box...and thrown them away! Then she took me back to see them.

As soon as I saw those adorable little gray tabbies, I knew that I had found my cat. And as I sat there petting them, the woman asked me, "So you want the little girl?" To which I responded, "Give me my cats! I'm not breaking up siblings!" She smiled, and I headed home with my best friend and two kittens who were practically identical.

I knew the moment I had seen her, that I had found the cat I'd wanted since I was 12 years old. When I was 12, I promised myself that when I grew up, I was going to have a striped cat named Spot. And this was her. Her brother, I named Peeve, because I hadn't actually wanted a boy cat, and therefore he was my pet peeve (;

And I enjoyed their company and affection for two years before I married Mark and he too was allowed into our family. Over the years, between them, Spot and Peeve trained 6 dogs on proper cat etiquette. And they took well to the arrival of my furless kittens (read: my two sons).

They were pretty traveled for US bound cats-- Louisiana, Missouri, 4 different towns in Virginia, before we moved down here to Ozark 3 1/2 years ago. They had always been indoor cats. But we live on a quiet street. And one day, as Spot sat me-etting at the window and the birds, I decided to let them out. From that day on, they no longer needed a litter box-- they would sit at the door and ask to go out, or would simply follow the dogs out the door when it was time. And we developed routines-- If the cats were outside when I needed to drive anywhere, I always checked to see them with my eyes, and honked my horn to make them move if they walked into driveway, or hopped out and chased them off.

Except for June 4th of this year. All day long, Spot had layed on the table in the carport. Every time I stepped outside, that was where she was. Didn't want to come inside when the rest of the animals were called. Just lounged there in the carport enjoying the table. So when it came time to take my oldest to Karate, I did an eye check for Peeve-- and assumed Spot was in the same location she'd been all day. And I ran over my Spot cat.

She ran from under the car towards the house. I leapt out and towards her as she fell to her side, telling my boys to stay in the car. It's a blessing that at that exact moment, my father in law pulled up-- and offered to take my boys to karate for me. As they left, I gently picked Spot up and we headed to the vet. As we arrived, I opened the door, picked her up-- and she died in my arms before we ever made it in.

I drove her home, called my mother because I didn't know what to do-- and then buried my first pet ever.

Spot would have been 12 in September.

And this is my first Christmas, in 12 years, without her.

She always liked Christmas. Not only was it a stocking full of cat toys and goodies-- but she loved the tree. Batting ornaments across the floor in the middle of the night. Climbing up into the tree and staring out at us. Eating the gingerbread ornaments (lol).

Spot, you are sorely missed.




Feeling sentimental

Facebook is an interesting and addictive site. One of the most beneficial aspects is that it allows me to keep in touch with my sisters. My youngest sister, Amanda, is 17-- and madly in love with her boyfriend. They're going to get to see each other in three days and have had 'I miss you baby' and the like, status and comments for the last couple of days. Today's led me to comment on the ooey, gooey sweetness of their comments (; Well, my sister said she was sure it had been the same with Mark and I, and it got me thinking.

I've turned how Mark and I met into a bedtime story that my little boys absolutely love, and recently created an altered book to go along with it. I call it:

How I Met Your Father
--by Janin Wise


Once upon a time, in a village not that far away,


Janin, her sister Erin, her friend Abby, and their friend Roy used to ride a bus with bullies on it. The bullies were mean, they said mean things, threw gum in people's hair and made people cry. One day, Roy asked if they would like to ride a different bus--one without any bullies on it. And Janin said, "Yes." So the next school day, Janin, Erin, Abby and Roy walked a couple of blocks further than they normally did,




to ride the bus without any bullies on it.



And as we were standing there, I looked up, and saw the most beautiful red headed boy, standing next to this tall Asian boy.


And do you know who the beautiful red headed boy was? (To which my boys chime in, "Daddy!")
That's right! And do you know who the tall Asian boy is? (To which they reply, "Uncle Roger!" (who is my husband's best friend.))
That's right!


And -that- my loves, is the story of how Mommy and Daddy met.