Friday, April 29, 2011

The Long-Awaited Day

Aunt Julie arriving yesterday evening. She drove up I-90 in her tiara.

We got up at 4:00 a.m. Coverage started at 3 here, but we figured we could easily look up the Queen's proclamation on what their titles would be online.

Slightly sleepy but excited:

Appropriate snacks and England's No. 1 tea:

Special wedding cookies sent by Julie's mom:

The sun is now up, and Yo-Yo is worn out from the festivities:

All week long I've endured people's snarky comments and FB status updates on what a silly waste of time this wedding is and how they don't care. I've bitten my tongue, even though most of them are the same people of whom I have to read their constant inane updates about overgrown, overpaid boys, playing incomprehensible sports games. Are there royal weddings every week? I think not. Hey, you--get off of my cloud.

On the radio the other day, they had people call in and say why they cared about the royal wedding and of course there were the women who said, "It's because every girl and woman wants to be a princess!"

Um, no.

It's because this is an historic event--seeing the future King William married in the same abbey where William the Conqueror was coronated.

It's also because, for whatever reason, since I've been a child this family has fascinated me. I got up while it was still nighttime 30 years ago to watch Diana and Charles's wedding. I watched the public announcement of William's birth. And of course I watched the heartbreaking ordeal of two teenage boys, walking down the streets of London behind their mother's coffin--with a little handwritten card, saying "Mummy" on their flowers for her.

I watched for the chance to see them all make that same procession but for a happier occasion today. As Julie said, "We needed to see him come through the streets, but happy now."

Finally, for all the naysayers, isn't it just nice for a change for the world to pause for a moment and watch something joyous rather than some hideous catastrophe?

And, of course, there was also this (breathtaking!):


Congratulations to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

Now back to your regularly-scheduled cynicism.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Fallen Hero

In the midst of tornadoes all over the South and lots of excitement (at our house anyway) about the royal wedding tomorrow, I woke up this morning to hear that one of my heroes, David Wilkerson, died in a car accident yesterday. He is the author of The Cross & the Switchblade, a book that greatly affected me, along with Run Baby Run, written by Nicky Cruz, and Second Chance by Israel Narvaez. Both Cruz and Narvaez were friends of David Wilkerson and some of his early converts.

According to his bio, David Wilkerson was an Assemblies of God preacher in a little country church, who left to minister to gang members on the streets of New York. His work there eventually grew into Teen Challenge, a ministry that is still thriving today. On their website, they say: "The family of Teen Challenge USA is immeasurably saddened today at the loss of our founder, Rev. David Wilkerson. Rev. Wilkerson was killed in a car accident in which his wife, Gwen, was also injured and is in serious condition. “Brother Dave” was used by God in 1958 to reach out to gang members in New York City. Through that singular act of obedience, tens of thousands of those bound by drug, alcohol and other addictions have found freedom through Jesus Christ–there are 233 centers in the US, and 1187 total worldwide, providing help to as many as 25,000 people needing deliverance through the power of God."

Though I never met him or heard him speak, I was greatly influenced by this man's life and ministry--he is a big part of why I went to Moody Bible Institute and hold a degree in Urban Ministries.

I'm thrilled he's in heaven now and pray for his wife and family. Here is David Wilkerson's last blog post, dated yesterday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lifted Up

Last night I slept badly, I woke up early this morning without the aid of my alarm--fortunately, because I discovered also that it's broken--and I looked out the window this mid-April day to see grey skies and snow on the ground.

Add to that that this is the girls' spring break and I had hoped to do all sorts of fun things involving the outside with them, and it's supposed to be cold and rainy the whole time. Plus, I can't help but think of this time last year when everything started its downward spiral, and that fills me with anxiety, and combined with a bunch of other things, I just felt low and discouraged to start this Monday.

I wanted to log in to the Scripture memory site I'm in (memorizing one verse every two weeks) because I was a few days late in entering my verse for April 15. I got out my 3 x 5 card spiral where I write all my verses, and as I flipped them over to get to a fresh card, I found this little surprise:

If you can't read that photo, it says in Lucy's best, newly learned cursive:

"For my mom: I love you're [sic] verses! Keep up the good work! I love you! Do you love me? I know you'll say yes."

And my verse for this two weeks is:

Psalm 3:3 "But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head."

For some reason, today that verse sounds a lot like me saying--For God: I love You! Do You love me? I know You'll say yes!"

Then on the way to work, I listened to this song. I listen to the version by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, but here's the original. By the time I got to the stoplight at Spring Brook and Alpine, I was doing my best caucasian interpretation of Calvin Hunt (soloist), no doubt noted by the policeman who pulled up next to me.

So, if you're feeling discouraged today, I hope this lifts your head like it lifts mine:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beverly's Birthday

Today is children's author Beverly Cleary's 95th birthday. Here is a nice article in the NY Times, profiling her.

I began to read Beverly's books as soon as I could read. My first was Ramona the Pest. Ramona's kindergarten room was just like mine; I grew up on Blanchard Street, which could have doubled for Klickitat Street, and my brother was kind of a dead ringer for Henry Huggins, a smaller, beleaguered boy with good ideas that didn't quite come through and a paper route.

I adored Beverly's pre-teen and teen books (so innocent! so funny!): Fifteen, The Luckiest Girl, Jean and Johnny, and my favorite, Sister of the Bride. I can remember standing at the library shelves, looking at the many, many Beverly Cleary titles and deciding which one I was going to read (or rerererereread).

I own many of them now, and my girls can't get enough of them either. Of course, they ARE Beezus and Ramona--Lucy, the smart, serious, long-suffering big sister, and Elaine, the pesky, vocal younger sister who thinks she's a cat in curlers. Recently when Lucy had to pick one of the 50 states to write about, she chose Oregon. When her teacher asked why, Lucy said, "Because that's where Beverly Cleary is from," (and added to me later: "Mrs. Shockey knows I'm all about the books, Mom.")

So far, I think their favorites are Mitch and Amy (loooove it) and one you don't hear of much, Emily's Runaway Imagination. That one is a little departure from the contemporary, middle class American dramas and is set at the beginning of the 20th century, but it is a hoot. The chapter where Emily gets the pigs drunk at the Ladies' Aid Society meeting is worth the price of the book. I also have to give a special shout-out to the 50th Anniversary audio version of Henry Huggins, read by Neil Patrick Harris, who is brilliant. He does all the voices, and no matter how many times I hear the chapter "The Green Christmas," I laugh out loud.

Despite how times have changed and the influx of junk there is out there for kids, I love how in the NY Times article, a librarian says she still can't keep Beverly's books on the shelves. She is an author whom I never have to pre-read before I read to my kids.

Happy 95th birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Which are your favs?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

To Read and To Watch

First off, I have become hopelessly addicted to these books. I have no control. I keep telling myself that I need to pace myself; I'll want some great mysteries to read for summer, but I keep going to the library and checking them out, three at a time, charging through them, then going back for three more. I highly recommend them, and, while I bet it would be nice to read them in order, it doesn't seem necessary.

Then, there is this coming up, beginning on Sunday night.

I was really little when the first Upstairs, Downstairs came on, but I've spent some of this winter trying to catch up via Netflix. It's an interesting exercise. The first episodes were shot in black and white, which was kind of distracting. It's all extremely low budget, and the actors seem to be overacting (and speaking extra loudly) as if they were on stage instead of on film. However, it is one of, if not, the most-loved Masterpiece series of all time. Over one billion people have seen it. That kind of blows my mind. So I am completely excited that they've decided on an updated version, yet still starring Jean Marsh and (the incomparable) Eileen Atkins, the original co-creators of the show. The script is written by Heidi Thomas who wrote my beloved "Cranford."

There's been a bit of competition between this and Downton Abbey, which has sort of a similar theme--the lives of the wealthy family upstairs and the servants downstairs. Jean Marsh got a bit squiffy about it in an interview, saying Downton is a poor imitation of Upstairs, Downstairs, so Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham from Downton) tweeted: "I thought Jean Marsh was bigger than that - running down Downton while bigging up Upstairs? Downton never downed Up when upping Down." Then Eileen Atkins volleyed back, "In the music hall, you have a warm-up act and then you have a star turn. I feel that Downton has been a fantastic warm-up." Whatever, I'm thrilled about them both and can't wait to watch the new Upstairs, Downstairs, which will be airing April 10, 17, and 24. You can read more about it here.

Lastly, we're going out on a limb this week and watching some network TV. (I basically have sworn off network TV for most of this past year, with the exception of one season of Dancing with the Stars solely because of this and this, which I am embarrassed of, but there you go.) But this Tuesday starts the second season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. We didn't watch the first season where he went to Huntington, VA, which is the unhealthiest city in America, and helped revamp their school lunch program. In this second season, he's heading to Los Angeles. In the new issue of Better Homes and Gardens, they feature Jamie, some of his healthy, kid-friendly recipes, and an easy guide to planting your own small vegetable garden. Darren agreed to dig us the garden, and I ordered the seeds that Jamie said to (Darren said, "You know you can buy seeds at Farm-n-Fleet, Alice.") Jamie claims that anyone can grow vegetables, that if you just put a seed in the ground and give it water and sunlight, 8 1/2 times out of 10 it will grow. Those of you who know my plant-growing odds, I could certainly be in the 1 1/2 failure group, but the girls and I are going to give it a whirl. In fact, that's my blog plan for the summer--showing you a step-by-step of our garden plan and planting, any harvesting (I'm thinking positive!), and then our healthy cooking we'll be doing.

I told Lucy, "Food Revolution starts this Tuesday, and I'll let you stay up an extra hour to watch it. I will tell you that it's reality TV and Jamie Oliver is known to say inappropriate words, so we may end up not watching it and just seeing small clips and reading his articles."

Lucy said, "Inappropriate words like the s-word and the d-word?"

Me: "Um, I think sooooo" (frantically thinking, "how does she know the s-word and d-word already?") until she said softly, "You know, Mom: S-T-U-P-I-D and D-U-M-B."

Here's a clip of Food Revolution (I am all about the clips today!)

There you go--plenty to read and watch for this spring!

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Results Are In!

I must say, I could do without another week like this one ever again. Sometime in the night on Sunday, I got sick. I taught my class on Monday morning, then came home and crawled back in bed, not to get out again until Wednesday night when I had promised to sub for a friend (both Wednesday AND Thursday nights).

I took my big jug of lemonade with me and took cautious sips the whole time. That and three Archway windmill cookies are what I've had to eat this week. "Mama threw up in the shower," Elaine helpfully reported to the rest of the family, so it's better this way. Right now I'm at the point where food seems like a nice concept that I'm sure I'll embrace again at some point in life, but...not today.

And in the midst of it all, Darren has been Mr. Mom (and doing a great job), and Lucy has been reading, reading, reading. This morning before school I tallied everything she'd done (and I know I've probably missed some things) over the last eight days, and here is the total:

2,009 pages!!

We are so proud of her. She did not win (humph!) individually in the second grade, but her class beat the other second grades out for the most pages read, so they do get either a pizza or ice cream party (see? That sounds kind of good...but not good enough to try it)--their choice.

Today was the big Read-a-thon assembly day where all the students and teachers dress up as book characters, and the prizes were awarded.

Here is our girl aka Nancy Drew. Now you know she did have absolutely the cutest costume:

Besides the magnifying glass (borrowed from my dad), she also had a small notebook marked "Clues," in which she wrote down what everyone else's costumes were so she could come home and tell me about it. She said that when the winning second grade was announced, her class screamed louder than any of the others in the school, their teacher included.

Lucy does get some other prizes, including a gift certificate to a mini-golf place and a free meal at Sonic, which...nope. Doesn't sound good yet.

So, that was Read-a-thon 2011, and she is already planning for reading domination next year, plus what costume she will wear.

Normally I'd have a celebration dinner for her, but...