Category Archives: Parenting & Pets

Courage, Creativity and Kickstarter

Have Courage Image from VISION

This is one of my favorite images in Creative Cues From The Cat, a book I coauthored and designed. The image is a composite and manipulation of three stock images. It goes with the quote: “Courage is the capacity to confront what can be imagined” by Leo Rosten.

Working on this book has been an exercise in courage, as well as creativity. Every creative effort, even a small one, causes us to take a step into the unknown because we’re creating something that isn’t there yet. The unknown can be as exciting and as dangerous as a jungle, and there’s no guarantee we won’t come out with a few scratches. The scratches could be small, say a few hurt feelings by someone who doesn’t like our poem, idea, desert, or whatever it is we’ve come up with, but feelings tend to be a bit raw when it comes to creativity.

I decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the printing of Creative Cues From the Cat. Doing this campaign took a lot of courage for me because it requires a video (something I hadn’t done before) and because of numerous unknowns, the main one being the question as to whether or not I’ll meet my “funding goal.” I have ten more days left in the campaign and it’s a tad nervewracking.

But still worth it. I’m grateful for the whole crazy creative experience of putting together the book and Kickstarter campaign. The book is about creativity after all. Yes, it’s also about cats, but cats are utilized to make analogies about the vision and courage needed to take innovative steps. As I worked on this book, page by page, I became even more convinced of its value. We are all creative beings. When we engage our creative selves, we enrich and energize our lives so much. I hope you get a copy of our book and step into the jungle.

Brief Review of Movie Chef

Chef movie reviewChef is about a lot more than cooking. It’s about creativity and what is at stake when a person’s creative spirit is crushed. It’s about social media—its glory and anguish—how it can severely impact an individual and move the masses. It’s also about about a boy. As a parent, I thought the boy story was particularly genius.

The boy, the chef‘s son, is at the age when a kid is smart and incredibly capable, but still on the younger side of puberty. As such, he can tear up easily and be extremely vulnerable. The boy openly craves to be with his dad at work, around the house, with his dad’s friends, etc. The chef doesn’t entirely understand the significance of his son’s requests or know how to deliver for him, but—thanks to upheavals at work and a supportive ex-wife—the dad comes through fantastically.

I’m not a psychologist, but I imagine it’s at this stage in a boy’s life that anger might take root and grow; that is, if a boy is not initiated into manhood with the help of dad or mentor and is not validated as a person that matters, a person who can contribute. If you’ve already seen the movie, that silly cornstarch scene…well, I’m a woman, but I think that was an initiation of sorts. And the hard work the boy did to clean the truck? That lifted his self esteem way up—even though there was a big argument at the end, revealing that good parenting is still messy and far from perfect.

I hope this movie encourages parents to stay in touch with their kids during the transition-into-adulthood years. Not just parents; adults in general, if given the opportunity, can validate kids who are so capable but still so young. It’s really a beautiful phase.

The movie Chef has a lot to it, more than what I’ve touched upon here, as I haven’t even mentioned the cooking. Be sure to stay for the credits. You don’t want to miss the final clip, which is about a grilled cheese sandwich. How generous to end with something we all can do—and aspire to do with more love next time.

Empty nesting is not so bad

Empty-nest-is-not-so-bad by LightQuotesI was pretty weepy after my youngest left for college last month, but it lasted just two or three days. I had been preparing myself for a long time. When your kids leave, there’s the obvious sadness that you won’t see them as often. But there’s more to it. Parenting has been a primary purpose in my life for 20 years! In work and play, my decisions were largely based on how they would impact my kids. For a while, I thought I’d feel purposeless in an empty nest, and I probably would have if I didn’t have a few strategies. Here’s how I readied myself and how I am still nursing myself through this huge transition. If you are nearing the empty nest, you may find it helpful. (If you have more ideas to add, please do so in the comments.)

SOCIALLY: I joined the Commonwealth Club and made new friends who are great conversationalists and remind me that the world is much bigger than my own neighborhood.

SPIRITUALLY: I bought a fancy notebook for a journal and now spend my newly free time in the mornings journaling, praying, and petting my bunny rabbit. (I’m not sure about the spiritual significance of the rabbit, but thought he deserved a mention.)

PROFESSIONALLY: A year before the kids left, I decided to pursue a new kind of client to rekindle my passion in my business. For me, as a graphic designer, that meant finding clients in the wine industry. Granted, not everyone can redirect their careers, but looking for ways to ignite your interest in your work is always a good practice, especially if you have huge college bills.

ROMANTICALLY: My husband was given the wise advice to start dating me again. I suppose if either the husband or wife demonstrates eagerness to become a couple again, to return to the fun of just the two of you, the spouse will likely follow. This effort needs to include an ample dose of forgiveness, by the way, as the stress from child rearing probably left its mark. I’m happy to report that my husband and I we are optimistic about spending more time together and we seem to be laughing a lot. (I’ll leave it to single parents to advise each other in this area.)

PHILANTHROPICALLY: For replenishing a new sense of purpose in life, there’s always volunteering. I haven’t added anything new to my schedule since the kids left, but I’m looking forward to writing more regularly to the children I sponsor through Compassion and World Vision, both great organizations I heartily recommend. (If you want to find a service that feeds your soul, try reading The Social Cause Diet.)

PHYSICALLY: What? I haven’t even mentioned exercise yet! How nice it is to spend less time in the kitchen and more time exercising. The older we get, the more we need exercise, right? Empty nesting and exercise go great together.

CREATIVELY: It seems to me that Etsy is the needlepoint of today. People search the online marketplace to find creative things to buy, to make, and/or to sell. I spent 40 hours last week filling out my shop called LightQuotes, and that is when I came up with the egg design for this post and determined that empty nesting is not so bad. Etsy aside, what is it that you always wished you had time to do? Now’s the time. Enjoy!

Forgive Me Baby

Both my kids are leaving for college soon, so I’m reminiscing about my first year as a parent. I was a brilliant multitasker. That is, until I realized that multitasking was not necessarily in my baby’s best interest. I wrote this poem when my son was one to solidify a lesson learned.

Forgive me baby

Forgive me baby.
You want to be held
so I hold you while
typing on the keyboard.

You want to be fed
so I feed you while
speaking on the phone.

You want me to play;
I sit among toys
while reading the paper.

You want to be soothed;
I drive you and let
the motor and motion
do my job.

I am commended
for taking care of you
while taking care of business.

Yet work was before
and surely is ahead.
Your face in the making
demands I live in the moment.

I have paid my dues
for such a time as this.
Baby, it’s you
I don’t want to miss.

By Gail Perry Johnston

Have you ever seen a binky?

Not to be overly dramatic, but you haven’t lived if you haven’t seen a binky. I am not talking about a baby pacifier. I am talking about the embodiment of pure joy, as expressed in an innocent bunny rabbit. My daughter just caught a few on tape yesterday. Watch it below and see.

Note: nothing was sped up during editing. During the second half of the video, the action is slowed down in an effort to look closely at the binky. There’s the vertical jump, the twisting of the head in one way, the body in another, and the rapid-fire shaking of the legs. It’s probably best not to try this yourself. Binkies are for bunnies to do and for us to enjoy watching, if we’re lucky enough.

What is a father?

I am not exactly the best person to answer this question, but in light of the points made in my previous post regarding the main character of Inside Llewyn Davis, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

Being a father is a financial obligation, of course. A father should see that his children are cared for in terms of their basic needs. It’s wonderful when the man can take care of the mother’s financial needs too, but she often works herself and sometimes makes a bigger portion of the money needed to support the family. Does this make a man less a father? No, but it does mean that he can’t rest on his laurels and consider his job done. This may be a good thing, because being a father is an obligation of caring which is demonstrated in a variety of ways.

GrandfatherMy grandfather was a large man with a bigger heart. Every morning he would ask if we had slept well and try to engage us in a little conversation. In the evening, he would ask if we had enough to eat and if we needed anything before going to bed. As he watched us grow (he had 14 grandkids), he tended to our individual strengths and habits. I was studious, often reading at his house, so he would bring me water and remind me that mental activity needed hydration. When I showed interest in the restaurant business, he took an afternoon off work to drive me around town and share his perspective on various eating establishments and what contributed to their success.

These may be little things, but they reveal a man who paid attention to his family and tended to it. Incidentally, I never heard my grandfather raise his voice. His presence was already big; he didn’t need to. He had our respect because we knew he cared and we were frequently surprised by how much he understood about us. He was paying attention.

Now I realize it’s easy to romanticize a grandfather. I’m sure he made mistakes in his day, but in an age when men are often excused from certain parenting duties because they don’t “multitask” well or because their wives are becoming so financially competent, I think of him as a fine example of a father who pays attention to the needs of his family, does his best to see that they are met, and doesn’t avoid the unpleasant issues. (I could add to this picture my husband’s spiritual leadership, as well as positive aspects of my own father’s parenting, but that will have to be another post.)

When I think of fathering in today’s world, I get angry at the media that portrays kids being terribly rude to their parents, dads in particular. After my daughter, as a young teen, watched certain sitcoms, there was a noticeable decline in her attitude, making the job of parenting much harder. I mention this to say that there are outside forces that threaten to tear up any family in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, which reminds me of another adjective a father should have to his name: protective. It is right for a father to protect his children from unhealthy influences when it is in his power to do so; he is not the bad guy for enacting rules and restrictions. While we are in a phase of permissive parenting, I am not necessarily advocating going back to the belt strap, but something in between: discipline that is firm (not negative and demeaning), that includes teaching, that matches the offense, and that is even creative. More importantly, I am proposing that disciplining be thought of in terms of protecting: protecting a kid from harming himself or others. Thinking in this way may clarify some of the confusion that perpetually surrounds the topic of discipline (and I offer the concept to anyone who wants to run with it).

In summary, this is my charge: a father is not someone who is distant or aloof; he doesn’t play ignorant and excuse himself from problems that are uncomfortable, but rather, he pays attention and stands at the ready to care for and protect his family as needed.

In preparation for holiday parties and family get-togethers, I’m sharing an excerpt from the book Speak Easy: Mary Lou’s Rules for Engaging Conversation by Matthew Calkins and Mary Lou Walker. Cupola Press published this book in 2010, but it’s a timeless piece and especially applicable this time of year.

Don’t Steal The Subject

“The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it.”
—Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

How often has this happened to you? You are in a party conversation, telling the story of your trip somewhere—say, camping along the Colorado River. Someone jumps in and says that he and his family camped there once too, and then he proceeds to steal the subject and tell the story of his vacation. Sometimes this is even done with a sense of implied superiority: “Oh, yes, I know that campground—but did you get a chance to explore the canyon downstream? If you had been there for another day, as we were, you might have had the opportunity.” Of course, you are internally seething, thinking—I wish your raft had overturned and you had a good soaking on that extra day!

Later we will talk about how to counter this kind of theft and smug one-upmanship with wit and raillery, but for now just think how frequently this happens. And admit that you do it, too! We all do. When we hear a story that triggers an association in our lives—whether people or places—we long to share it. Often we stop listening and politely wait for our turn—which may never come! Sometimes we rudely interrupt the current story and steal the subject. Of course, this is wrong—but so hard to resist. It happens with equal, or perhaps greater frequency, in political or other topical conversations. One idea or opinion or piece of news and gossip triggers thoughts of another, each person elbows in, and off it goes.

What to do? Go back to the previous paragraph. Note the observation that when an association is triggered we often stop paying full attention to the person talking and begin waiting for our turn to speak. There is a huge difference between listening and waiting to speak. Try and stay with listening and set the corollary incident aside for later (if it gets lost, it is not that important). Then, instead of stealing the subject, dig deeper. Ask questions. What was the funniest thing that happened on the trip? Was there a moment of beauty so awesome that you were moved outside of your self? Has this experience changed you? Provocative questions make for good conversation. People will be flattered by the attention but, even better, the conversation may take an interesting turn. It might move beyond recounting incidents and opinions to reflection or laughter (both of which are good).

President Barack Obama once said something that struck me in this regard when he was a student at Columbia University. The young Mr. Obama said, “Everyone appreciates a kind word and a thoughtful response.”

How true. Everyone appreciates being listened to and not interrupted. And no one, it is fair to say, is fond of having their story hijacked. Learn some manners. Wait your turn. Don’t steal the subject.

For more conversation tips, the book is available at most online stores and at Cupola Press.

Managing stress with axioms

ElephantMy mother used to say: “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” I like the Russian proverb better: “Don’t make an elephant out of a fly,” although I didn’t know there were elephants in Russia. They drink Vodka, according to a BBC News story. Another popular saying is “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Richard Carlson used the line for his bestselling book, adding five brilliant words to the title: “And it’s all small stuff.”

Is this true; is it all small stuff? Not really. What the Philippines are presently going through is not small stuff, but it’s generally true in our day-to-day lives.

My bigger question for this post is: Does it help to keep these sayings in mind? If you were to hang this plaque I designed with the cute elephant in your home, for example, would it help you calm down if you were overreacting to something? I hope so because the piece is for sale in my new Etsy store and I’m hoping it will help people “roll with the punches,” another great expression.

For me, what mostly scales down my anxieties is the combination of two things: being outside and praying, which reminds me of two more quotes. The first is: “It’s impossible to walk in the woods and be in a bad mood at the same time” I totally agree with this statement found on forestfreak.com. The other is “Why worry when you can pray?”—a phrase adapted from Philippians 4:6 and turned into a peppy song. If I could find a good quote that communicates the stabilizing effect of nature and prayer together, I’d display it everywhere around my home and office, because—even with my good strategies—I tend to panic and overact as much as the next guy.

There’s something else to mention. When I need to calm down, I ask myself an important question about the stressful situation at hand. I ask: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Sometimes the answer is not too bad and I realize I can deal with it. Other times, the answer is nasty. For example, what’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t start making money? I could end up sleeping between sheets of plastic and newspaper under a bridge somewhere! But then, I reason, even then, if the worst thing happened, with God’s help, I can still deal with it.

Once I engage my faith in such a way, it (my faith) gets stronger, and I relax. Asking yourself the worst-case-scenario question and employing your faith for the answer, is like coming out of a strenuous workout at the gym: you feel stronger; you are stronger. What’s more, you feel calm, you are breathing deeply, and you’re in much better shape for facing that elephant—or fly, whatever the case may be.

Missing my big eater

BfastMy daughter is a high school senior and is taking the SATs at this very moment. Last night, she asked me to get up early and make her breakfast before she left for the test. So I did. But sadly, the eggs weren’t fresh, the cheddar cheese was moldy, the milk was all gone, the yogurt was past its expiration date, the bananas were brown and mushy, the bread was stale, and even the jelly was yucky. I made a terrible smoothie with the expired yogurt, it was just awful. My daughter did not complain, but she didn’t eat much.

The problem lies with the absence of my son who is now in college. He helped us eat things up quickly and required that I shop every few days, if not every few hours. He was the one who was eager for my meals and kept me energized to stock and restock the kitchen. He even bought me a cool yogurt maker so we always had fresh yogurt. When his teenage appetite began to wane a little, he got a manual labor job that brought it back up to snuff. We miss him!

But there is hope. My daughter just got her license last week, so it’s time I send her to the grocery store. She’ll buy items of questionable nutritional value, I’m sure, but at least it will all be fresh. I’ll stay here, in my cozy home office, writing, designing, and enjoying my sweet freedom from all that tedious shopping. Besides, I never was good at it. I usually lost my grocery list by the time I reached the produce. Where do all those lost grocery lists go? For all the ones I’ve lost, I never found a list by someone else, stuck in between the cucumbers or among the soup cans. Often, I would arrive home without the very item that prompted the shopping trip in the first place. I suppose that’s why I had to go so often.

But now that is all behind me…well, not really. My daughter will be home any minute and will need a lunch and dinner packed for her day-long choral event and we don’t even have paper lunch bags. She will tell me she is too busy to shop, and frankly, she is. If I have time to blog, it means I have time to shop. Sigh. Maybe I’ll go to Trader Joe’s. At least they will serve me an itty bitty cup of coffee to enhance the experience.

How to pick a church

Five things to consider when picking a church

Church in Fairfield, CTEveryone, at least in the United States, is free to walk into a church to observe its service, which usually, but not always, takes place on Sunday. The purpose of this article is to help you feel comfortable visiting a church for the first time and to give you tips for assessing whether or not it’s a place you want to visit again.

I am primarily addressing those who have little experience in this area. Maybe all you know about church is what you’ve seen on TV and the movies, and you wonder if church is really that bad (it’s not). Maybe you attended a wedding in a beautiful chapel and would like to check it out. Maybe you just started a family and, with a newborn in your arms, you realize there’s more to life than you ever imagined. Maybe you recently moved to a new town and want to meet people. I will not judge your motivations here; I just want to help you assess what you find.

Before I continue, please know that churches today respect your privacy. While other organizations are getting increasingly intrusive, following you around with their targeted advertising, most churches will not contact you unless you ask them to. Even then, you may not be contacted—lots of churches are understaffed! So don’t worry about anyone expecting anything out of you at first; just relax and enjoy yourself.

One more point. The following tips are made with Christian denominations in mind, because these are the churches I know personally and can attest to their open doors. In my relatively long life, I have attended Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Quaker, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Lutheran, Methodist and Covenant Churches. My background for writing this article is simply as a regular person who has taken the time to find a great church wherever I live. I hope to encourage others to do the same.

Five things to consider when picking a church:

1)     MUSIC. This is not the most important aspect of a church, but it is usually the first thing noticed. Lots of singing, maybe a choir, a band, or some incredible guitar picking. Don’t expect to love all the music, but it’s a definite plus if you like most of it. Churches tend to lean toward traditional music (hymns) or contemporary (think drums and synthesizer), but many do a good job of presenting a variety, which is important if you’re looking for a church with a spouse or friend who has different tastes than you.

2)     MISSION STATEMENT. Listen for the church’s core beliefs. If they do not become obvious during the church service, ask for a brochure or snoop around the church’s website. While the church’s beliefs are very important, it is possible for you to be a part of a church and have a different view. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite. You just want to make sure you can respect the church’s beliefs and are open to learning more about them.

3)     OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE. Would involvement in the church provide you with opportunities to serve your neighborhood and beyond? Find out by listening to the announcements or by asking someone after the service. A healthy church gives to others in addition to nourishing its own.

4)     THE SERMON. The sermon or message should provide something meaningful to contemplate. But for this to happen, you need to be mentally present. No daydreaming. Do your best to pay attention and ask yourself, “What part of this message is intended for my ears and what am I going to do about it?” When you ask yourself this question, most sermons will be worth your while.

Still, you may have a preference for a certain style of speaking. Some pastors, for example, are more intellectually challenging, while others are entertaining, using analogies, real-life stories, and media to support their teaching. Within one church, there could be a variety of styles, depending on the number of pastors or the nature of the content to be communicated. You may need to visit a church more than once to determine what suits you. As you do, be easy on the pastor—his/her role encompasses much more than public speaking—and don’t forget the part that you play in the process.

5)     COMMUNITY AND CREATIVITY. When you show up for the first time at a church—no matter how welcoming the place is—you may feel like a stranger by the simple fact that you are one, so leave yourself out of it for now. Instead, watch how others interact. Do you see people connecting? Do you feel a sense of authenticity and camaraderie? In addition, do you see evidence of creativity? A church, after all, is made up of unique individuals and should thereby contain elements of unpredictability. Maybe a little kid reads the scripture; maybe the music director makes a curious joke that gets everyone laughing; maybe an odd-looking woman with an enormous red hat wanders down the aisle and sits right in front of you…who knows? Welcome the surprises; they are usually positive signs of a vibrant church.

Five things NOT to consider when picking a church:

1)     SIZE. Don’t let the size of a church draw or deter you. You may go to a big church and feel lost, but keep in mind that most big churches offer smaller gatherings to foster relationships. Or, you may go to a small church and wonder why the place isn’t filled up, but keep in mind that everyone who is there may be involved and loving it. If the church appeals to you based on the points previously mentioned, don’t worry about numbers.

2)     DIVERSITY. Churches would like to be diverse, but the truth is, people tend to go to a church where they find similar types of people. Also, it’s kind of hard for a church to be diverse if it’s in a neighborhood that isn’t diverse. So please don’t base your opinion of a church on this matter alone. That said, if you can add to a church’s diversity, great! You will contribute more than you know.

3)     INSTANT FRIENDS. I’ve heard people say that they stopped going to a church because they went for months without meeting anyone. Well, to be honest, Sunday services are not that conducive to making friends. You’ve got to do a little more to get to know the people. The best way to make friends and really experience a church community is to get involved in a service project, class, or other event where relationships have a chance to gel.

ChurchWindow4)     THE BUILDING. As an art student, I’ve seen and studied beautiful churches all over the world. The windows move me most. I’ve gone to churches with expansive windows that open to the sky and churches with tall, arched windows of brilliant stained glass. Presently, I attend a church with no windows. We meet in an old movie theater. But that’s okay, because the people are more important. A building can set the stage for a spiritual experience, but along the same lines of not judging a book by its cover, try not to judge a church by its building.

5)     PERFECTION. A church is made up of people, and since no person is perfect, no group of persons will be perfect. Far from it. Perfection does not exist on this side of heaven, so if a church has ample strengths, don’t worry about the little things you don’t like.

Despite imperfections, churches have much to offer, including, of course, support for growing closer to God. The tips above are suggestions only: you may walk into a church and know immediately that you belong, or your spouse may have a strong pick and you follow along. Since God is omniscient, in all seriousness, you can actually get to know Him anywhere. As the book of James says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” But I do hope you find a church where you want to get involved. It’s worth the effort.

Bad mother buys daughter a laptop

Butterfly imageNot everyone wants the latest and the greatest. I dare say many of us would like to put a hold on technology; would be happy to think that our computers and phones have arrived to their fullest magnificence and won’t ever need to be replaced.

My daughter loves her old laptop. It used to be mine, then my son’s, and finally hers. It gets incredibly hot within minutes, but she claims it warms up her bed and she likes it that way. A few keys don’t work—including the critical Command key—but she gets around it somehow. When sparks started flying out of her charger, threatening to burn the house down, I warned her that the days were numbered on that thing. She bought a cheap replacement charger online, but then came another problem: the screen went wiggy—there are red lines through everything—and there are no cheap fixes for a wiggy screen. No matter, she says; she is using it for homework, not watching videos.

But her birthday was around the corner. Surely, I thought, a new laptop should be the big ticket item. This is a no-brainer and a necessity, given all her college-level classes. I strategically wrapped up an artsy little chatska for her to open first. It read, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” After unwrapping it, she asked if “Anon” meant “Anonymous,” and seemed somewhat happy. Then she opened her big present.

“I didn’t want a laptop,” she reminded me. “Yes,” I responded, “I know what you really wanted is a bunny rabbit, but you don’t need a bunny, you need a laptop.”

I’m not the kind of parent that strives to get everything on my kids’ wish lists for their birthdays. I’d rather prepare them for real life. But I’ve never been this far off. Fortunately, her brother bought her a Snuggie, which is almost as cozy as a bunny rabbit. She quickly took it out of its box, put it on, and wore it for hours even though the weather is still warm.

But the laptop remains in its box. I’m hoping today will be the day that she starts it up. I’m hoping she is so impressed with its speed and clarity, that she considers realigning her loyalties—and letting loose the butterflies.

All in a ham sandwich

Family sandwichWhen my daughter was a tiny tot, she had trouble pronouncing consonants. If she wanted to say, “family,” she would say, “hamly.” This would make my husband think of a ham sandwich, and he would announce: “We’re all in a ham sandwich!” The connection was a stretch, but it became a familiar line around the house.

This summer, with our kids now teenagers, we went on a family hike through the woods and analyzed the silly saying. If our family is a ham sandwich, than I would be the bread, holding us together—as in making dinner every night and insisting everyone come to the table to eat it. I’m also a pretty good breadwinner, advancing the analogy. Daughter would be the ham since she shines on stage and the camera loves her. Her brother would be the condiments because he is truly the salt of the earth and makes everything better with his presence. Dad would be the big cheese, which needs no further explanation.

What’s most interesting here is that the ham sandwich is still intact. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this month. We are happy about this milestone, but not proud. The sandwich has gotten pretty messy sometimes. We’ve been juveniles for much of the marriage and feel like we’re just beginning to grow up.

Today is my daughter’s 17th birthday. Over a Dutch Baby Pancake, my husband said another silly thing he has repeated since she was two: “You’re big and you’re little!” It’s true. She is taller than I am and has a firm grasp on who she is. With Calculus under her belt and four AP classes this year, her knowledge is impressive. But she is still young at heart and playful (may it always be so). And, sadly, she has countless challenges and trials yet to come. But this can be said of all of us. We’re big…we’re little…and we’re doing our best to hold our ham sandwiches together.