My Little Girl

Shooting for the Moon

It was almost two years ago, 2010, when I was working on my Happiness Project. I wrote a love letter to all my children that February. My daughter’s is here  Today, she is one year away from being a teenager. In reality, she already is…My mother warned me, they grow up so very fast.

I sit here this morning, listening to you and your little brother playing. My heart is so full, my children are my whole world, yet there will be a time when I’ll have to let you go. A time not too far away and my heart aches with the thought. Your big brother is almost 21 and talks now of going away to school. I’ve been hoping for him to be inspired, yet at the same time, I don’t want to let him go…And all too soon, sooner than him, I’m sure, you will be flying around the world on some sort of adventure…and I will worry and I will cry, but my heart will sing too because you have so much to offer the world and the world is waiting for you.

We laughed the other day when we were talking about how you were born already grown up! There was no fitting into newborn clothes for you! And hair! You were born needing a haircut! Thick, dark hair made all those nurses fall in love with you instantly. Your father cried; sobbed, really. The first time I’d ever see him do that. I had warned him that he would…that he would fall in love and be completely mush from that day on…and I was right!

I remember sleeping with you, long and stretched out on my chest. There was no curling up for you either – those long legs wanted to be stretched out and dancing even then. You didn’t cry much, but gurgled and coo’ed often. Singing those girl songs like you were yesterday in the shower. I love waking up to your voice.

You have a special place in the hearts of everyone that loves you. As Great Grandma wrote to you last year, “Dear Becca, I admire you as you are a very nice well mannered girl. You are pretty and smart….” and she was certainly right. You miss your Great Grandma and sleep every night with the quilt she made for you when you were a baby. I’ve folded it and put it away and it keeps ending up on your bed. You love spending time with your Grandma, my mom, and she can’t get enough of you. The three of you were the ladies that I always wanted to be like. I’ve never been much of a feminine person, but the three of you always made me feel part of the “club”. I cherish the times that the four generations of us got to be together. I’m sure you’ll cherish them too.

You have those brothers and daddy wrapped around your little finger. They will do anything for you, especially when you pour on your “pouty face”. They can’t stand to see you upset…and promptly give you anything to make you smile again. I just shake my head and laugh. It hasn’t spoiled you though. You would give your last meal to someone else if they needed it. For one so young, you are so very generous. You have given your brothers money, your last piece of chocolate (even when it is your one vice) and all your love and affection.

Our walls are covered with your works of art and I have boxes of treasures that you’ve created. Your multiple projects makes me smile because I can so relate. You and I love to create and make things! It drives your father crazy because we’ve always got things on the go! It’s because we are butterflies, we want to spread beauty everywhere for everyone to see! 😉 That’s what I always say anyway!

Last night, we were helping out at a fashion show and you couldn’t get enough of it. You would rather do things like that with adults than hang out with your friends. It wasn’t so much being around fashion (though you love that!) it was more about you getting to be in the thick of it. It’s funny how grown up you are already. One thing I noticed, other people that were there didn’t really treat you like a kid; you fit right in alongside everyone there helping out. Stuff needed to get done, and you just got in there and did it.

As you sit with your brother and have chocolate cake for breakfast, I smile because you’re still a little girl sometimes. I take a snapshot in my mind to remember. And I send a quiet prayer to heaven asking for you to always remain that way…



Swiss Family Robinson

These cold winter nights, my thoughts turn to summer days at the farm. There was a time when the four of us were able to “play” together. There was no sitting around in the house during those days. Mom wouldn’t have it! Besides, we were industrious kids and couldn’t wait to head outside…

We’d made many tree houses before, but this one was going to be the best yet. We’d seen part of the movie “Swiss Family Robinson” on the soundless home movie reel (you know, the kind that had actual reels!) and we’d seen the amazing treehouse Mr. Robinson had built. That’s what we wanted!

Dad had given us access to the scrap lumber and scrap nails from his various projects. My brother and I had a “plan” of how we were going to build it – trap door and all to keep the tiger out! This one wasn’t going to be close to the house. We were big kids now – we were going bigger and further away!

There was a path through the trees out behind the house; tractor width that Dad cleared out at some point. The forest was cool and dark, mostly leafy poplar trees with a sprinkle of spruce in between. The cows used that path as well, so we had to watch our step as we hauled stuff out to our spot. It wasn’t unusual to step in a “pie” or two and if you had flip flops on….

We selected four sturdy trees, poplar, that formed an almost square. Another first for our tree house building days: four walls instead of three! For days, my brother and I carried and hammered. Our little sisters helped where they could, but they lost interest in the process at regular intervals!

We used the blue handled bow saw to cut up those rough boards. We “measured” with the tape sometimes, sometimes we just guessed. Dad’s heavy fiberglass hammer was occasionally out there with us, whenever we thought we could sneak it out there! Normally, we used the lighter hammer that was “ours”.

We’d learned to create cross braces for our floor so the boards had something to hold onto, plus, it allowed us to create a square trap door in the middle of the floor. We built the floor and left that part open. The tricky part was keeping the boards at the door even. We got smart and lined up the edge to the hole and then cut off the overhang out there at the wall edge.

The walls were easy – just kept adding boards on top of each other. For windows, we’d either line up shorter one to leave a space or we’d skip a board to leave a full wall length “firing” space (for keeping watch for potential pirate attacks).

The trap door – well, that took a few attempts. Originally, we wanted the door to be on hinges and lift up, but that didn’t work without hinges! Then we had to build a frame that FIT in our not-exactly-exact hole. Plus, it needed to be safe enough to be part of the floor so that no one (a.k.a. little sister that would tell on us) would fall through!

Finally, we came up with a solution that worked, complete with a ring that we could attach a rope to and be able to lift it up. But, we realized that we couldn’t open it from the outside with the rope and just ended up pushing it up and over from below. It was pretty cool from the inside as long as no one dropped it on you as you descended down through the hole…

The roof…hmmm…tricky. The top of the walls were at least 15 feet above the ground. Also, we wanted it weather proof because this was the Swiss Family Robinson tree house you know! No access to shingles, but, we did have a couple old cut up tin barrels that Dad had used at on time on a pig shed or something. We built the slanted frame so the rain would run off (pretty smart, eh!?) and give us something to nail the tin too. We hauled those barrels out there, avoiding most cuts from the rusty metal – tetanus be damned.

They were a lot heavier than we thought! We only managed to get one up there. Pulled and pushed with ropes and hands. That was enough for us! There was no way we were going to haul another one up there! We nailed it down and added boards in the open spaces. There, it was kinda waterproof!

My sisters enjoys the next part: decorating our new house! There were bits of scrap carpet and we built “furniture” with scraps of lumber – stools and little tables. There was even a shelf that we built!

We made a ladder that we could lift up when the trap door was closed. It had good days and bad days, nails were added when we needed them; even a new step or two when they broke. Each day as we worked, we’d take all the tools and nails back to the house and put them away at the end of the day. We’d be in big trouble if Dad found that we’d neglected taking care of our tools.

All summer and the summers that followed we’d go out there and pretend we were the Swiss Family Robinson. Occasionally, we’d be under attack from pirates. We had weddings and I would sing all the songs I knew for the reception. Some summers, we’d build fences around the place (that the cows always knocked down) and pretend that we were the Wilderness Family. Indians would attack those days. We’d create tools and kitchen “utensils” with bark, grasses and twigs. Other stuff would get carried out there and then taken back to the house.

Days and hours were spent in the coolness of our Swiss Family Robinson tree house. Inventing and imagining. Building and fixing.

Then, one day, we didn’t go out there anymore. I don’t know when it happened. I just realized that we hadn’t been out to the fort anymore. Sometimes we’d walk past it and reminisce about those days. For many years, it stood empty and echoing; grasses growing tall, branches and boards falling down. Dad never tore it down.

Then, another day, there were other kids out there. One, by himself for awhile until the others came along. Ones with brown eyes, some with blue; all that look a little like those 4 kids from those summers long ago.

We saw the Swiss Family Robinson tree house at the Magic Kingdom and it took me back to those days. I write this story for my children and my nieces and nephews. May their imaginations soar!

The New House – Swiss Family Robinson – 1960

Growing Up

As usual, the Universe is working (you must get tired of me saying that!) After a long day yesterday and a grumpy post, I read the FB stream this morning and saw a note about joining a 30 Days of Creativity Challenge! Exactly what I needed! A boost to my creativity that always brings me happiness! What a great way to get going again!

So, here is my first day, September 1, a poem about my two youngest:

Growing Up

Tomorrow, another year of school
I steal a glance at the two
Heads bent together, concentrating
So close, they are, sometimes

I have a picture of those same faces
Side by side, deep in thought
Long before these school days
What became of those chubby cheeks?

Gnawing away on those “suckies”
One playing with his hair, so sleepy
His sister right by his side, best friends
Fresh from a bath, winding down the day

Now though, 4 long legs stretch out
Fresh and clean for the new school year
She brushes and combs her hair herself these days
And he doesn’t need me to turn on the shower

I blinked, you see, my eyes were shut tight
And suddenly, they grew, it seems, overnight
From soft, cherub cheeks to pre-teen angst
Wait my angels! Don’t leave me behind!

Smiles, a wave, and if I’m lucky, even a hug
And off they will go, somewhere that I can’t follow
But, despite my tears, my heart will swell with pride
I will remember, I will pray; that they are growing up.