Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I've heard that somewhere it is fall. Somewhere the leaves are changing into beautiful yellows and oranges, drifting softly to the ground on a breeze that smells like cinnamon pine cones, annoying the crap out of parents who have to rake them into big piles the kids jump into, and then have to rake again.

Not in Arizona. Here in Arizona the high should be about 88 today. I will be wearing long sleeves with my shorts, because, well, it's November and I've sick of all the short sleeve tops I own after wearing them non-stop for the last 8 months.

So after clearing up Halloween decorations (note to self: NO fake cobwebs next year!), I opened my "Fall" decor box. Which essentially is a bunch of pumpkins that are too pretty to be used for Halloween, a cornucopia, some brown and red ribbon and a handful of fake leaves.

Two years ago I asked my kids (then aged 3 and 5) to come up with things they were thankful for and I wrote them on these fake red and orange leaves. Finding those leaves in the decoration box made me pause and smile at what my kids were thankful for.

Hansa. (The dog we had when the kids were this age. She died four months later.)
The White House. Bald eagles. The Liberty Bell. (Bjorn was studying history of the US in Kindergarten that year.)
Bjorn. (Written by his sister, who has always been his biggest fan.)
God and Food.

That year, we hung the leaves from a decorative tree and called it our "Thankful Tree".  While we no longer had the decorative tree (it was actually an old jewelry tree, designed for hanging earrings and necklaces!), we did have lots of extra fake leaves, a sharpie and an unused wreath.

I asked the kids to fill out more leaves with their thankful prayers. They dove in to help (mostly, i think, because they love Sharpies and I let them use them so few times), filling out leaf after leaf with what they were thankful for.

Bjorn. Peanut. Mommy. Daddy.
Lucy. ("Even though she eats all my Barbies and all your shoes," said Peanut.)
Goldy. (Goldy is my childhood dog. "You still miss her, right, Mom?" asked Peanut. "And you're thankful she was yours when you were little?" Yes. Yes, I am.)

When they were finished, I gathered all the leaves, hot gluing them around the wreath. A wreath - a never ending circle - of thankfulness.

Last week I was thisclose to the siren song of Target clearance and almost bought a harvest wreath for my front door. I am so glad I didn't. Today, I made a wreath out of materials found in my garage that announce to me every time I enter or leave my home:

You are blessed. Look at everything wonderful you have. Be thankful for your family, even when they whine for Happy Meals or because you made them turn off Wild Kratts. Be thankful for the dog that eats your shoes and your doormat and your glasses - she is your faithful companion who demonstrates unconditional love and joy. Be thankful for the Liberty Bell and the White House and the Marines for they are all part of a rich history of the country we live in. Be thankful for food, we know that so many go without it. 

With every word my children wrote, I see it. You are blessed. Be grateful. Be thankful. And then, pass it on.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election: elementary school style

This election season has been crazy. Between the fighting among strangers to those among friends, I have seen enough angst and bickering to last me for the next four years. 

My wish for today? Peace. Respect. Kindness. 

I want to hug, to shake hands and apologize when something wrong is done. I choose to cooperate and work together. I hope for all the things I try and teach my kids to do every day with their friends and siblings. Maybe we should just ask ourselves "What would my kindergartner do?"

In that spirit, last night I asked the kiddos some of the questions from the presidential debate to see what they have to say. I messed up a few times trying to make the questions kid-friendly, or to clarify what they were saying a little bit, but you get the idea. This moderating stuff ain't easy!

I found questions here, and I chose to use three: one concerning american jobs, one concerning cyber security and one about supporting the other candidate. 

Take a few minutes to get a quick laugh, and see how our country would be run by a 5 and 7 year old.

Also, check out what happens AFTER the moderator finishes moderating and they think they are on their own with the debate.