Wonderful Birthday Surprise!

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I sat with my mouth open totally taken back. Before me lay two beautiful “tokens” which my mind told me did not exist. Finally my brain kicked in that my daughter had created them specially for me. You see my kids had decided to push me into starting my retirement right! (Technically I’ve been retired a while but was taking my grandson back and forth to school which drastically hindered my making trips etc.) Knowing how I’ve developed a tendency to procrastinate on things in my later years they plotted to help me along by clubbing together (and I suspect using air miles) to make possible the “vouchers” for a flight anywhere in Europe for two plus some spending money. I didn’t know whether to cry, whoop for joy, or insist it was too much, instead I sat speechless.

I’ve already invited a friend (her 60th birthday is close to my 65th) who was likewise flabbergasted and touched that my kids (most of who know her) were very enthusiastic about my choice. (She’s very practical, reliable, but still great company and lots of fun, a real sweetheart). Now it just remains to chose time and place. I’m thinking soon and Sicily where the sun lingers longer, the countryside is breathtaking, sea deep Med. blue and the pace chilled, but nothing is settled yet – exciting!

with the eyes of a child.

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“Inside a train there was an old man sitting near the window together with his 24 year old son.
The son looking out towards the window shouted: ” DAD, look! the trees are going behind!”
His dad smiled and a young couple looked at the 24 year old guy behaving childishly with pity.
Suddenly he again claimed : “DAD look! the clouds are running with us!”
The couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man, “Why don’t you take your son to a doctor?”
The old man smiled and said, “We’ve been there already. My son was blind from birth; he just got his eyes today.””

(Such a lovely story gleaned from a friends FB post (sorry didn’t give the source). It reminded me of my first call to teach, the discovery of sharing the wonder and excitement of a child on discovering the world – may we never lose that vision!)

Snow!!!

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I know it doesn’t mean much to you Canadian or US folks but snow is rarely seen more than one or two days each winter here in London (at least not in recent years).

Anddddd my grandson has never seen snow having been born and brought up in Mexico! Imaging my delight on peeking out (just in case) hardly daring to believe, and there it was in all its glowing purity – SNOW!. Not a lot, but enough for us snow deprived folks to transfer to party mode.

My previously Sunday sleepy head daughter stopped pleading with my grandson to “go back to sleep”and jumped out of bed at the news. In half an hour we were off to the lakes!

After spotting dog, swan, bird, and possible rabbit footprints (in addition to his own) building a (miniature) snowman and a brief, fun, but rather ineffectual snowball fight (he is only three.) He asked, “Can we go home to our nice warm house now – he’d discovered the downside of making snowballs lol!)

 

Bear (Flash fiction)

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It was so long since Sam had let someone touch his heart it was all but frozen over. Yet, somewhere beneath the ice, warm currents of life still flowed, hidden, protected, waiting still for the thaw of spring.

It was a day as other days, riding the train home behind the newspaper, suit neatly fitting, briefcase at his side. He noticed the pretty woman as she came to sit opposite him, noted the ringless finger, but stopped at that. He hid behind the financial section, catching glimpses of her smile beaming at the toddler beside her.
Strangely it was “Bear” that made the introductions. Opportunity being literally dropped at his feet, he seized upon it without thinking. Their eyes met as he thrust the furry body into groping hands. Something passed in that instant. He glimpsed beneath the sunny exterior and saw pain. It was quickly covered, disguised by smiles. Yelling stopped, the youngster clutched the ruffled animal to his chest, eyes tumultuous.
“His daddy gave it to him,” she rushed to explain. “He’s very attached to it.” He noted a slight quiver in the lip. “He was killed in Afghanistan,” she whispered.
He couldn’t help but double check the finger. She noticed.
“We were to be married at Christmas,” she added defiantly. “He was an American officer. We met in transit. Things happened. He loved little Alex.” The eyes were tinged with sadness, underlying water showing clearly.
“I’m sorry, I wasn’t meaning to pry.”
“I know. But we’re OK now, aren’t we Alex?” She hugged the petulant youngster to her. “At least I have Alex.”
“He’s a cute little guy.” Sam’s smile was repulsed. The child had eyes only for Bear. Sam had never been good with kids. He retreated behind his newspaper, but it was no good, the ice had cracked.
He glanced over the rim, noting the tears she brushed aside. He couldn’t help himself. Moving to sit next to her he put a tentative arm around her shoulder. She didn’t push him away; rather she lowered her head to his shoulder seeking to hide the tears. Possessively Alex scrambled onto her lap.
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, “I thought I was over it.”
“Some things in life we never quite get over,” he responded, a far off look in his eyes. “You’re coping remarkably well.”
“You think so? Even when I got your suit soggy?” a glimmer of a smile appeared, as sunshine through the rain.
“I think you’re a remarkably resilient woman, and a pretty one at that.” He kicked himself. Stupid idiot! Why had he added that? She merely laughed.
“Guess I need to be – baggage!” She nodded at Alex, but there was no hint of bitterness. “Love me love my Bear,” she joked.
“I don’t think that would be so hard to do.” Sam replied. They’d each found a way to protect themselves, but the sun of her shield was melting his ice at an alarming rate. He didn’t mind.
Reflected in the train window the young sergeant winked, misty eyed, at Bear. He no longer needed the link. With a sigh he let go. They’d be OK now.

Two Babes in a Manger (an oldie goldie Christmas story)

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manger
In 1994, two American volunteers answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach Bible-based morals and ethics classes in several schools and institutions, including a home for about 100 orphaned, abandoned, or abused children.

Shortly before Christmas, the volunteers told the children at the home the story of the first Christmas—a story that most of them had never heard before. The children listened in rapt amazement as Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, found no room in the inn, and ended up taking refuge in a stable, where Mary gave birth to baby Jesus and laid Him to sleep in a manger.

Afterwards the volunteers organized an art project. They gave each of the children a small piece of cardboard to make a manger, part of a yellow napkin to cut up for straw, a piece of beige felt from which to cut baby Jesus, and a scrap of fabric to wrap Him in. As the children assembled their mangers, the volunteers moved around the room, interacting with the children and offering a little help where needed.

When one of the volunteers came to six-year-old Misha, she found that he had already finished his project. But as she looked closer, she was surprised to see two babies in his manger. When she asked him about this, Misha crossed his arms, knit his brow, and began explaining very seriously. For such a young boy who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related it all quite accurately, until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then he started to ad lib.

“Baby Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told Him I have no mama and no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with Him. But I told Him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give Him like everybody else. But I wanted to stay with Jesus very much, so I thought about what I could maybe use for a gift. I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep You warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep Me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave Me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and said I could stay with Him for always.”

As little Misha finished his story, tears filled his eyes and splashed down his cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, he dropped his head to the table and sobbed. Misha had found Someone who would never abandon or abuse him, Someone who would stay with him “for always.”1—Author unknown

 

heartbreaking truth.

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I was secretly glad to have a cold yesterday so it didn’t notice when my eyes would tear up.

You see my daughter has been talking with her husband, who is working as a translator for the Syrian refugees pouring into Germany. He told her how there are so very many orphans. Some parents have died on overcrowded boats and some, there not being space for them all to get on the trains,  had, in sacrificial desperation, thrust them in the available spaces (some only 2-3 years old)

I cannot imagine being so desperate for my children’s safety that i could make such a sacrifice, having to trust somehow the German people would take care of them.

The German government is pleading for people to adopts these little ones.

(Don’t believe all you read in the media about Syrian refugees by the way. The vast majority arriving, he said, are Syrian women and children, not single men or not economic opportunists with fake Syrian passports.)

Where did the fun go?

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child meds

Hot, controversial topic!

Having once more seen my mercurial grandson finally manage to fix his boisterous (note the “boy” part!)  personality into his official school slot, (as happens every new school year), this caught my eye.

Perhaps I shouldn’t talk about it lest I rant. lol! Being an ex private tutor, homeschooler and even helping start a successful school, I tend to have a lot to say.

Like doctors and vaccines, I made sure my own kids never darkened the halls of a conventional school room. I believe in helping each child find and reach their true potential, that education is for the child not vice verse.

Anyone who feels it’s normal for an active 6-7 year old boy to sit still at a desk for hours evidently never had a 6-7 year old boy! Yet small children love to learn. A fussing baby will frequently stop crying to pay attention when you point and say the name of things. Toddlers will annoyingly ask to watch the same show again and again till they’ve assimilated every word and we all know all about the “why” syndrome. Learning is natural, and kids love it, but school is not (at least not the way it is generally organised).

Perhaps the basic problem stems from the fact that most schools are large institutions run by governments having an agenda to produce a large number of suitably qualified fodder that will fit nicely into the established status quo either as elite (private school fodder) or unknowing servant of the elite (the rest of us).

Of course some unique souls manage to survive the “one size fits all” school factory packaging, becoming artists, inventors, movie stars etc. but they are few and far between. In most, sadly, the flame dies and learning loses its joy.

I speak of course in generalities. My time today is limited by the need to pick up the aforementioned grandson, from the aforementioned institution, and hopefully inspire him to complete his homework so he can successfully jump his SAT hurdles lol! This is a huge subject though. Perhaps you’d like to add your “ten cents”.

The best legacy.

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“You do your best to prepare your children for life, but as they become old enough to make their own choices, they must learn to meet life’s challenges and to take responsibility for themselves. They may sometimes stray from some of the things you taught them, but …

The love you plant in their hearts will stay there forever.

This is the greatest gift that you can give them, and it’s yours and theirs for eternity.”

(adapted – source unknown.)