Reporting from at Camp Mommy

It is past noon and I have gotten enough grading done that I can justify turning my attention back to Camp Mommy  - which I am happy to say has past the 50% mark.

Everyone gets dressed and we slide into the car, dancing to nothing I'd admit to in writing.

As I pull down the hill and onto the curb the children gasp and point.

I'm sure I killed a kitten at least, or a fat rabbit or baby deer at the very worst.

But nothing went thump. Still, I stop and exhale, and look where the kids are pointing.

I didn't hit anyone. Our neighbor is standing on his corner, saluting me.

I roll down the window.

He says, "I bet no one has saluted you in a while."

I am speechless.

I'm hungry and I'm happy I won't be washing roadkill off my tires so I laugh, "No. You're right, especially not.. outside in the daylight

The Big Bang (Birth of a Bra Salesman)

I am writing and writing and also packing and then writing (can't you tell?) when a loud BANG explosion from the living room stops me cold.

There are 4 kids out there (two tween girls and two redheads) so I wait a second for the laugh, the cry, the crash that comes after the BANG.

Strangely enough, nothing.

I think to ignore it, but then, I'm the adult.

 I can't wait 30 days to check on my kids.

People hold me to higher standards than that.

So I get off the yoga folded yoga mat and pull myself away from my writing and my Mac and go into the living room unannounced.

There was a Fort in my living room and no apparent casualties.

Zack's friend -- standing over a bicycle airpump that I'd uncovered in my unpacking, repacking and throwing things away --  holds up pieces of limp orange rubber (formerly Zack's favorite basketball)  and calmly explains. "It exploded."

I nod my head and point at the Fort then say nothing and return my room, to the yoga mat, to the floor half- waiting to hear Zack scream out in protest that his favorite ball had been murdered.

I wait.

Nothing.

I wait.

He knocks on the door then enters holding the two halves of  his basketball in his hands, offering it up to me with a big smile. "Here Mami, we made you a bra...."

Emily Remembers

 (From Charming Emily -- the first book a book in a series called "Blowing Sunshine")

Sister Georgina walked around inside the circle of folding chairs in the St. Joan House looking at the ceiling, at the floor, everywhere but in their eyes.

The tale of Snow White – and her sister Rose Red – is a tale of redemption, of faith, of the kind of love we should expect in life. 

The sapphire rosary wrapped around in Sister Georgina’s left hand tinkled joyfully as the gray haired, dimpled woman marched to the cadence of her own lecture

And the love, the ultimate love Snow White found was given to her freely, in her sleep. She had not sinned, yet she was punished. She was exiled, yet she found a home. She was cursed, and then redeemed.  A story not from the Bible, yes? But a story of love, divine.  Snow White did not need the Bible, she did not need to wear a cross. She was loved, always and unconditionally because God’s grace does not discriminate.

Last week, Sister had told them the story of Cinderella, again with a happy ending about love and God.

The week before that, it had been Sleeping Beauty, love and God.

And before that, back in December, before final exams, Sister Georgina told the story of Aladdin, only she ended it by telling them that everyone had magic lamps that could bring them great abundance.

Which, Emily particularly knew, was crazy.

And wrong.

And undermined the whole purpose of being Catholic.

Sister Georgina halted her march, exhaled with her palms up, arms open, and asked, “Now my children, what questions do you have for me about God? Or Love? How can I help you find your way a little bit better this week?”

The group clapped politely and dismissively. Without ever discussing it, the core group – all female, all Catholic, all scholarship residents of St. Joan’s House  -- agreed that the mandatory Tuesday prayer circle ended when the questions began.

They each stood slowly, reaching to their neighbors, shaking hands.

Peace. Peace be with you.

And with you.

Peace.

Peace.
Peace.

Mike stood up first, then offered his hand to Emily.

 The gesture felt corny and pressured to her, like he’d mentally rehearsed it then waited for his cue.

She took his hand, stood up, allowed him to kiss her on the cheek.

Peace be with you, he said.

And also with you, she replied, eyes on the door.

A Chapter from *Blowing Sunshine*

 Sister Georgina walked around inside the circle of folding chairs in the St. Joan House looking at the ceiling, at the floor, everywhere but in their eyes.

The tale of Snow White – and her sister Rose Red – is a tale of redemption, of faith, of the kind of love we should expect in life. 

The sapphire rosary wrapped around in Sister Georgina’s left hand tinkled joyfully as the gray haired, dimpled woman marched to the cadence of her own lecture. 

And the love, the ultimate love Snow White found was given to her freely, in her sleep. She had not sinned, yet she was punished. She was exiled, yet she found a home. She was cursed, and then redeemed.  A story not from the Bible, yes? But a story of love, divine.  Snow White did not need the Bible, she did not need to wear a cross. She was loved, always and unconditionally because God’s grace does not discriminate.

Last week, Sister had told them the story of Cinderella, again with a happy ending about love and God.

The week before that, it had been Sleeping Beauty, love and God.

And before that, back in December, before final exams, Sister Georgina told the story of Aladdin, only she ended it by telling them that everyone had magic lamps that could bring them great abundance.

Which, Emily particularly knew, was crazy.

And wrong.

And undermined the whole purpose of being Catholic.

Sister Georgina halted her march, exhaled with her palms up, arms open, and asked, “Now my children, what questions do you have for me about God? Or Love? How can I help you find your way a little bit better this week?”

The group clapped politely and dismissively. Without ever discussing it, the core group – all female, all Catholic, all scholarship residents of St. Joan’s House  -- agreed that the mandatory Tuesday prayer circle ended when the questions began.

They each stood slowly, reaching to their neighbors, shaking hands.

Peace. Peace be with you.

And with you.

Peace.

Peace.
Peace.

Mike stood up first, then offered his hand to Emily.

 The gesture felt corny and pressured to her, like he’d mentally rehearsed it then waited for his cue.

She took his hand, stood up, allowed him to kiss her on the cheek.

Peace be with you, he said.

And also with you, she replied, eyes on the door.

Veteran's Village: Good News and Bad News

I have great, heartwarming news. 

My students came together to assemble and deliver about 50 bags of groceries and $200 in gift certificates for the food closet at Tallahassee Veteran's Village. 

We want them to know they are part of our holiday, that they are remembered and included and that we are thankful for their service. 

I took pictures of the food in my office (below) but my hands were full once we arrived at Veteran's Village. 

A gentleman there offered to show us the Food Closet. 

Kori, Anthony, Zoe, Zack, Margie and I climbed the stairs behind him and peeked into the room, 

That's where the bad news comes in.

The food closet is the size of a large walk-in closet, lined with wire shelves.

The food closet was, for all practical purposes, bare.

There are rows and rows of  creamed  corn. And there are rows of canned regular corn.  The only food in the dark refrigerator was husks of corn, which I was told were expired and would be thrown out. 

Other than a few cans of green beans and about ten boxes of off-brand rice-a-roni, the shelves were bare. 

We brought a lot - PopTarts and cereal and sauces and boxed dinners and  brownies and cookies --  but the Veteran's Village food closet needs more. A lot more. 

They need milk. They need bread. They need eggs. They need a little bit of help from a lot more of us.


Please consider donating to the Veteran's Village, and choose to serve those who have chosen to serve their nation.