Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Something to Blog About

She is adorable. She is small. Her hair is wispy dark brown. She is 5 years old and her name is Isabel.
I love her
I wish I could babysit her. Whenever I have children, I hope I have a daughter as cute as she is. 
At New York Elementary school, they have a program called reading buddies. It's for Kindergarten-2nd grade. Isabel is in Kindergarten. Her birthday is July 5 (she'll be six).
Each Friday, I take a few books and for half an hour, she is mine to love. While she eats her lunch (she always brings her own), we sit in the library and I read to her. I read all my old favorites: Fairy tales, Kevin Henkes, The Olivia Pig books (by Ian somebody), Hairy the Dirty Dog, and I'm going to try to find some fairy books, because she likes fairies.
I was privileged to read her the Twelve Dancing princesses for the first time. She had never heard of it.
But even when I do bring something she has read before (Hairy the Dirty Dog, Katy-no-pocket), she still wants to read it. And if I bring 3 books, we will read all three. 
One week I brought 4 books, intending to let her pick and bring the extras home. We got to the third and I said, "I don't know if we'll have enough time for this one...". She said, "We could read half!" It was fast, so then I said, "I don't know if we'll have time for this one because it's longer–". She said, "We could read half!" And of course I couldn't stop in the middle! So we read 4 books that week. :)
I am so sad that there are only 3 more times before school ends. I sure hope she goes to that school next year so I can be her reading buddy in 1st grade.
And now we get to the sad part. One week Isabel wasn't there. So I read to Sophia instead. I had never read to Sophia, and apparently she had never had a reader, because as I walked her back to her class she said, "Well, I'm glad I got to do this because I've never had a reading buddy before." It broke my heart. 
There are two kindergartens there. There are 20 kids or so in each. So few have reading buddies. When the classes pass me in the hall, at least one kid always wave. They crave that personal attention.
I know they aren't starving or anything, and they're "alright", but they're just 5 or 6 years old. They want love and attention, and in a class of twenty, one teacher simply can't give that to everyone.
So we signed up for Mondays as well. My mom and one of my sisters also read. They have Talulah and Harper. On the week that Isabel wasn't there, Harper wasn't there either. So I read to Sophia and my mom read to Gladys. 
When we signed up for Mondays, my mom and I asked for Gladys and Sophia again. My mom got Gladys, but I guess Sophia's parents said they didn't want her to have a reader. My question is, why did I read to her in the first place, then?
So now I also have Piper. Piper is 6. She has a medium brown bob, brown bangs, brown eyes, and she is missing one of her front teeth. She is taller than Isabel, and I have only read once to her. It was a littler harder to read to her. I don't know if she liked it or not. As I read, she looked around the room a lot, so I thought maybe the book was too long or not funny, or something. Yet when we finished the three books I had brought, she said, "Let's go pick out another!" So we did. When I finished that one, I said, "I think it's time to take you back..." but she said, "Let's go pick out another!" So we searched the shelves and she grabbed one, and I started it. But then her teacher came and said she had to go. We didn't finish it, so I suppose we'll have to read it next week.
The second sad part: When I went to get Piper, I was standing in the hall waiting. Isabel, coming out of the room with her class to go to lunch, saw me, and ran up to me and grabbed my hand. And my heart was broken again. 
"Isabel," I said as gently as possible, "We aren't going to read today. We read on Friday, today is Monday. I'm going to come read to you on Friday."
I didn't like saying that.
So the solution is not to read every day. Because that doesn't work. It's harder on me and it's harder on the kids.
They need more people to come and read. Probably lots of schools have programs like this. Please, please, even if you don't live near this school, look for things like this in your schools. 20 kids in each kindergarten. New York is a small school. What about the schools that have 30 kids in 3 kindergartens?
Somehow, I am more drawn to children's plights. To think of a children languishing for love or attention or starving or being abused seems worse somehow. Children need to be children. And so many don't have that opportunity.
And I wonder if this is my calling: to help in some way so that children can be children. It isn't everyone's calling; but we're all called to love the hurting that are in front of us.

Hot hot weather.

It is hot. It is the last day of April, 82 degrees, and sleet is predicted for May 2nd! So this is the midwest. We have a saying: If you don't like the weather here, wait 5 minutes and it will change!
I've been contemplating moving to South Dakota or Canada – somewhere that never has temperatures that exceed 80º (or 85º, in heat waves) and has a 100% chance of snow every winter.
Like 6 inches of snow. For two months straight. :)
Or maybe England... I might like England – or Scotland – or Ireland – or France – or the Mediterranean! Pretty much Europe entirely. But especially Britain.
I do not like the heat. I like it cold. And so I sit inside and blog. I would rather be outside enjoying the beautiful spring afternoon/evening. But this is not spring weather, it is summer weather. But anyways.
I'm having trouble with Maurelle. I'm supposed to write this story for school, and I want to finish/chip a way at my Arthurian Chronicles this summer, so I'm trying to finish it. But I'm at the hardest part: the very middle.
Mostly I've been reading Ben-Hur and knitting. I like knitted washcloths, so I knitted one. But I think I should have used different yarn because it doesn't work the greatest. Now I'm trying to knit a shawl but I don't think I have enough yarn.
And we've been really busy in the last week, so I easily found excuses for not writing (I'm using one right now: I need to blog!). I was in Arsenic and Old Lace (I was Officer O'Hara – we had a lot of girls playing boys because there are 10 boy parts and 4 boys). We had practice Monday-Wednesday, show on Thursday, rest on Friday, Show Saturday afternoon, then we stayed to watch the other show (the homeschool group I did it with did two plays this semester), and then struck the set. Hmm... One says "I'm going to strike the set" but it doesn't look right to say "we struck the set"...
I really want to work on my laundress story... And my gladiator story. AHHGH!
Maybe someone can help me with Maurelle.
See, the problem is this: I'm more likely to write a "man who learned better" story than "heroic quest" story. I'm supposed to write a heroic quest. But I have a hard time with writing a quest type story unless it's an ACTUAL quest.
So Maurelle's object is her freedom. The thing she learns is to be more selfless. So I had a chapter on her learning to be more selfless. But the thing is, I don't believe we can learn to be selfless by ourself. And she isn't a Christian. So I thought about having her become a Christian and she learns (a) to be more selfless and (b) outer freedom isn't important because she's free in Christ.
But that would have two problems:
1) It takes the story in a totally different direction. I didn't want this to be a salvation type story because I'm bad at writing those. This is because I myself didn't have a conversion moment, an actual time I can point to and say, "Here I became a Christian." I've been raised Christian, so I don't know how to realistically write about a conversion moment.
2) If I write this, it's no longer a heroic quest because she doesn't strive for her object and win it.
My sister Nan suggested she learns to trust. I like this idea, and it comes naturally from the story:

Gabrielle shook her head again, sadly.
“There is not one who is free, Maurelle. Not you, not me.”
“You can have anything you want!” I gasped, realizing I had said the words aloud. I turned, and fled back the way I had come. I passed the campsite and stumbled along until I came to a thicket so dense I could not pass through it. I flung myself down and cried, then, sobbing. Was nothing trustworthy or sacred?
No; no, it wasn’t. I had always known that. It was the creed I lived by; the standard by which I justified all my actions. I had come up against a cold, hard wall, but it was one I had always known (with my mind, if not my heart) to be there.
This thought was no comfort me.
It was Gabrielle’s parents who had betrayed me; I would have no guilt in carrying out Raoul’s orders, even if I knew, in my heart of hearts, that they were not as innocent as he made them out to be. By luck, by fate, by some good fortune, I had been offered a way out, not three days ago.
But could I trust him?
I felt cold, and not just because of the icy wind. I couldn’t trust him anymore than I could trust Gabrielle. I  couldn’t trust anyone. Had I not just realized that?
You don’t need to trust him.
The answer came so naturally that I wondered at not seeing it before. I didn’t need him, and I didn’t need Gabrielle and her pampered parents. I could tell Gabrielle what she wanted to hear and give Raoul what he needed – just so long as it fit my purpose. I could play on both their needs, and still get my freedom.
I stopped crying; things would go on as before. I had no need to feel sorry. I would be free, and no one would stand in the way of that.

The only problem with this idea is that it takes the story in a different turn. But, still would the freedom thing.
So maybe I will pursue this direction. Meeps. I guess I should. But if I do I have to rethink the whole rest of the book. AGAIN.
I need to work on Maurelle I guess...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Something Terrible

Something terrible has happened. I've got a new story idea. That's usually good - but not when I'm trying to focus on ONE story at a time, and not this story!
We took a trip last week. While there, we visited a lighthouse. So blame the story on the lighthouse.
I'm going to write a story about a lighthouse keeper. A girl, of course. I scarcely write about boys. My Arthurian Chronicles is one of my two stories with a male hero. I intend to finish it this summer.
So much to write!