Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday

I was checking an online newspaper that I try to read on a somewhat consistent basis, when I saw a headline about Ash Wednesday. Already? Spring is right around the corner.

I don't have time right now to check my archives, but I think I've written before about my recent discovery of Lent and what it means to me. I've only observed it twice, but this morning as I noted that today begins the 2014 season of Lent, I knew immediately how I want to fast this year.

To keep myself accountable, I'm telling the world . . . I'm fasting from yelling. I've been so stressed out lately—mostly because of work, and believe you me, that's a huge post for another day, when the school year is over and I'm safe from the Vindictors—that I really want (need) to focus my efforts on remaining calm and composed toward my own children, my husband, and myself. I'm not going to go into excruciating detail, but suffice it to say that I have developed a horrible habit of yelling as my first response to any and every situation.

So, I don't know whether "yelling" is on the official list of items from which a Christian can choose to fast, but it's what I'm choosing.


Dinner last night: shrimp and chicken over pasta

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"We're all quite mad . . ."

My eldest daughter turned sixteen years old. SIXTEEN. I'm struggling to figure out the math, because I'm fairly certain she was born only a couple of months ago. I could swear that just last week I was braiding her hair and helping her to pull on her boots. And now she's sixteen?

Many years ago, when I taught high school, I had a student who was one of four girls in her family. Her mother told me how the only birthday she ever "did big" was the sweet sixteen. She made it her life's work to surprise each daughter on her sixteenth birthday with a unique and fitting celebration. For her youngest daughter (my student), she rented a plane to circle over the school campus at lunch waving a huge banner behind it that read, "Happy 16th Birthday, Name of Girl." While the plane flew above, Mom arrived on the ground with an army of costumed helpers carrying huge bouquets of colorful balloons and enormous trays of freshly baked cookies that were distributed to any and all teenagers who desired a treat. We're talking a LOT of cookies, because over a thousand students attended the school. In the middle of it all, stood the princess for the day, enjoying her birthday attention and the gratitude of cookie-munching friends.

That day was obviously memorable, because I wasn't even a part of it, yet I recall it clearly. I had no children of my own at the time, but I filed a mental note to remember to celebrate my future kid's 16th birthday in a big way. Turns out, I had four children. All girls. No woman from my past, whose name I can't remember and whom I only met once or twice, is going to outdo me when it comes to a birthday celebration.


I've been planning my daughter's sixteenth birthday party for, oh, almost a year and a half. It started when we visited Disneyland back in October of 2012. As we were leaving California Adventure, my older daughters were sucked into the Mad T Party. Like rats following the Pied Piper, they were drawn by thumping music to a neon-lit area dedicated to teens for dancing and cavorting and laughing wildly. My husband and I were overwhelmed by the noise and colors, but the girls loved it.

When we got home, I set up a Pinterest board and started collecting ideas for a surprise birthday party. I now had a theme: Mad Hatter tea party. In the next couple of posts, I'll be sharing pictures of how I set up everything, and although a plane was not circling overhead, I must confess my daughter's sixteenth birthday turned out pretty great.

Dinner last night: tea sandwiches, punch, birthday cake

Exactly two years ago:

Exactly four years ago: