For Good

June 26, 2014 at 3:28 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Photo Tuesday | 12 Comments
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“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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F is “for everything Thy goodness sends.” See more F’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Truth #2

October 3, 2013 at 7:16 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 16 Comments
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Time.

Training wheels (or lack thereof).

Tricycle.

Tenderness.

Tabletop.

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” — Alexander Woollcott

Are the leaves and acorns falling off the trees where you are? What’s your learning-to-ride-a-bike story? And have you patted a fluffy bunny lately?

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T is for truth and training wheels and tenderness. See more T’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Marking Time

April 4, 2013 at 12:09 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 16 Comments
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“Why not just live in the moment, especially if it has a good beat?” — Goldie Hawn

How do you stop, or at least slow, the march of time? What symbolizes time for you? And don’t you wish you could pull off pink ruffles? (I know I do!)

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“T” is for time … See more Ts at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Between the Lines

March 23, 2013 at 12:38 am | Posted in Haiku Friday, Lollipop, Me | 10 Comments
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Haiku Friday: Between the Lines

26 voices
I’ve never heard echo through
tunnels in my brain. 

James loved hamburgers.
Josephine loved purple, and
Dawn mothered five girls. 

26 voices
I’ve never heard sing me to
sleep on the dark nights. 

Daniel played the drums;
Jessica was a cowgirl;
Jack loved his Giants.

26 voices
you’ll never hear whisper their
names in these pages. 

Any one of those boys and girls could have been my daughter, given slightly different geography. Perhaps that’s why the Sandy Hook massacre has weighed so heavy on me these last months. Every day since, I have sent a prayer of thanks to the stars, the gods, fate, that my daughter still comes home from kindergarten with tales of who brought chocolate pudding for lunch and what she worked on in art class. With ketchup on her sweater. With glitter in her eyebrows.

Every day, she comes home. And every day, 26 others don’t.

It’s impossible to comprehend. It wakes me up at night, and it pierces me in the heart when I’m shopping for juice boxes or fresh markers. I had to do something.

So I joined Ann Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness movement. I pledged to donate one book for every Sandy Hook victim to my daughter’s school library. I read obituaries. I cried. I re-read and cried and re-read and cried. I researched children’s books and matched titles with hobbies — Vicki loved flamingos; Grace, the beach.  I e-mailed authors, publishers, anyone, who might help with my project.

And I did it. We did it. 26 voices, 26 books. Lost, found, remembered.

How has Sandy Hook impacted you? And what acts of kindness will you pay forward?

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Thank you so very much to these authors, illustrators, artists, and publishers, who donated their work to my 26 Acts of Kindness project:

Carin Bramsen
Denise Brennan-Nelson
Rob Buyea
Michele Craemer
Kelly Cunnane
Cori Doerrfeld
Brad Epstein
David Gifaldi
Jamie Harper
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Kate Kiesler
John McCutcheon
Erica Silverman
Janet Stevens
Audrey Vernick
Don Winn
Wong Herbert Yee

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Places You’ve Never Been

March 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Bun, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 17 Comments
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Prepared.

Poised.

Prickly pear.

Precipice.

And just for fun …

Potty training!

“Each moment is a place you’ve never been.” — Mark Strand

What moments filled the first of your March days? Do you hike in magenta butterfly wings and a pink Panama hat? And don’t you wish you had some aqua choo-choo undies?

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“P” is for prickly pear and potty training and places you’ve never been … See more Ps at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

On Duty

February 28, 2013 at 9:07 am | Posted in Bun, Photo Tuesday | 17 Comments
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Off duty.

Orange.

Organized …

… Occasionally.

An obsession, shared.

Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: “I am with you, kid.  Let’s go.” — Maya Angelou

Some says, most days, I feel as though my life is, well, monotonous. I take kids places. I pour Cheerios and peel bananas. I wipe noses and bottoms. I put toys away. Half an hour later, I put them away again. Some days, if I’m honest, I just get tired of it all.

And then I see Bun carrying around an armful of prized rocks. Or racing his truck to an imaginary fire. Or staring at the prism that the cat’s tag and the afternoon sun are making on the kitchen floor. And I realize what a gift this is — to be able, day in and day out, to watch my children observe their world, learn from it, make it their own. And I want to tell them, “I am with you, kid. Let’s go.”

How do you handle monotony in your own life? How do you remind yourself to see it as a blessing? And do you (or someone you know) have a prize rock?

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“O” is for on duty (and off duty) and orange and obsession … See more Os at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

The L Word

February 7, 2013 at 1:07 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 21 Comments
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“Who, being loved, is poor?” — Oscar Wilde

Who makes you feel rich? Are you raising a tree-climber? And do you have the peel-off backs to those foam heart stickers littering your kitchen floor, too??

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“L” is for love … See more Ls at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

A Love Letter: 26 Years Later

February 5, 2013 at 1:29 am | Posted in Me | 18 Comments
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Valentine’s Day — it’s a glittering light on the horizon during those dull, murky post-Christmas days of January when snowman wrapping paper that’s 70 80 90! percent off is finally replaced with boxes and boxes of chalky candy hearts.

And doilies. Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a hand-written “Be mine” and a few Snoopy stickers on a pink paper doily. Am I right?

When I was 8, I sat at my kitchen table with a stack of those doilies and a 64-pack of crayons. I wrote a different message for each kid in my third-grade class: UR 2 sweet, Love ya!, Friends 4-ever. It took me 7 episodes of Kids Incorporated to finish.

 

I brought them to school and carefully placed them in 16 decorated shoeboxes with holes cut in the top. I remember because this was also the year I found a love letter in my own foil-covered shoebox. From a secret admirer. Scrawled in freshly sharpened pencil on wide-ruled notebook paper was a poem I can’t remember and this: “With Love, K.S.”

With love! From K.S.! I glanced at the boys in my class with a nonchalance that belied my mere 8 years.

And then I saw him. A cutie named Kyle Scott. He had light brown hair and dimples. All of his permanent teeth had come in. His skin was bronze from soccer season. And? He. Liked. Me. I knew it.

But it wasn’t Kyle Smith. My teacher Mrs. Laughlin confirmed it. Something oozed out of my heart like the saccharin filling of a chocolate-covered cherry.

And then I really knew: Kniles. Kniles Smith.

He looked like you’d imagine a kid named Kniles to look. Short and mousey. Big beaver teeth. A brown bowl cut. He wore thick black glasses and made jokes about meteorology and BASIC. My heart oozed more goopy stuff.

When Mrs. Laughlin nodded her Barbie-blonde mane, I slid into my orange plastic chair. Stunned. Disappointed. Kniles.

I had enough manners to know I shouldn’t show how upset I was. But I just couldn’t help it. I felt like one of those overfilled heart-shaped balloons, the ones that never really look like hearts at all. Pop!

Even the Sixlets taped to the Care Bear and She-Ra valentines I dug from my shoebox didn’t cheer me up.

K.S. Kniles Smith. Pop!

But somewhere between the red-velvet cupcakes and the donning of my safety-patrol badge, I had an epiphany that third-grade Valentine’s Day — perhaps the first of my young Smurf-and-sticker-book-filled life. What a risk Kniles had taken writing me that poem. He had given me his heart, disguised as crooked mixed-case graphite couplets. He didn’t know how I would react. He hadn’t asked for anything in return. He just felt so strongly that the words had to come out, had to be shared, had to be folded into a pull-flap rectangle and dropped in a shoebox, my shoebox.

I saw Kniles Smith that day. Really saw him. Beyond the scrawny, awkward boy who knew more about fractions and food webs than anyone else in third grade, I saw someone with a brawny heart just as big as his brain. A Casanova, a Lord Byron, a Lloyd Dobler — on the inside, where it matters most.

For K.S, wherever you are.

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This post is part of Momalom’s 2013 Love Fest. See more love letters at Jen and Sarah’s.

My Half-Life

January 22, 2013 at 4:50 am | Posted in Family, Me | 14 Comments
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In exactly two months, I’ll be 35.

If I’m lucky, I still have half of my life to live. And if I’m not so lucky … well, I have less.

Contemplating that has led to a few heart palpitations in the shower, a few nightmares involving wildcats and curvy roads and getting lost in the grocery store.

What have I done with the time that’s gone? What haven’t I done? What do I want from the time that remains?

I have no idea. And no time to contemplate it between the loads of laundry, the sticky breakfast dishes, the cat puke, the potty training, the freelance work, the sleep I’m not getting, the calories I’m not burning, the endless piles of toys, and the downloaded movie queue I’ll never, ever make it through.

Or maybe I should put it this way. We have clothes to wear, meals to eat, and dishes to eat them on. We have healthy pets and healthy kids. We have work that pays the bills. We have more fun ways to spend our free time than we have actual free time. We have each other, and we are lucky. I am lucky.

But I still can’t ignore this emotional tug to take stock and re-prioritize, to dig around in my mental sandbox and see what’s buried in there. Won’t that ultimately make me better? A better woman, a better mother, a better partner, a better person?

Too many days, I feel myself bracing for the chaos and noise and dirty socks I know are coming. I wish for something to be different, but I’m not sure what. Or how. Or even why I want something to change.

Because I am lucky. I am. I know this.

Like the plastic gold coins my boys just unearthed in the playroom, my own treasures are already within reach.

How do you make time for a little honest-to-goodness soul-searching? What helps remind you that you’re lucky? And what’s been recently rediscovered in your family’s playroom?

Double-Edged Words

January 16, 2013 at 5:20 am | Posted in Giggles | 11 Comments
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“Isn’t that kid weird, Mom?”

Giggles said it casually, as if commenting on the purple carpet or the way the air smelled like freshly pumped basketballs.

My heart stopped, but we kept walking. Past the dad with the green T-shirt and retro specs. Past the blond-haired little boy with his eye permanently shut and his cheek puffed out. Past the “Pediatric Craniofacial Specialists” sign where they waited, talking quietly, probably about something altogether ordinary like video games or burritos for lunch.

Giggles, Bun, and I walked inside our own pediatric specialist office and checked in. We updated paperwork, fought over the train in the basket of toys, waited, fought, and waited. We talked with the nurse, got new X-rays, talked with the doctor, got lollipops, and checked out. We bundled up. We unbundled for a potty break. We re-bundled, and walked to the elevator.

The boy and his dad weren’t in the hallway anymore, but I could still see them clearly. And us.

The dad, patient and strong; the boy, stooped and a little sad; me, holding coats, hats, crayons, and a grande Starbucks mocha; my boys, galloping like Adidas-clad rhinoceroses down an otherwise quiet hallway.

Quiet except for this, except for us: “Isn’t that kid weird, Mom?”

How many times had they heard that? How many times had it chinked right through the defenses of that sweet little boy? How many times had his dad held him close and wished he could be the one hurting, the one being examined by strangers and doctors alike?

And how many mothers had sat down with their own children and said the things I said a few hours later? About the difference between thinking things and saying them out loud.

About how our words make other people feel.

About imagining ourselves in someone else’s place.

About being kind next time.

About being kind above all.

What would you have done? How do you teach kids the power of their words in this complicated world? The power of empathy?

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