Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picture in My Mind

I have been trying to capture an elusive picture recently - a picture of my 6-year-old heartily laughing at a joke or antic. I can picture him, sitting on our couch, his short legs stretched out before him, his face still, hands folded in his lap, listening intently to a story I'm reading.

Then comes the funny part, and his blue eyes light up with pleasure, a hearty laugh rolling out of his wide open mouth, his head thrown back and shoulders shaking.

It is, my friends, a beautiful picture. A delightful picture. One that makes me want to laugh, cry and hug him all at the same time.

The camera is never nearby when the laugh comes - on one hand I think that's good. How can film capture the essence of his innocent, 6-year-old mirth? On the other hand, I wonder, "Will I remember? Will I be able to picture him this way when he is older?"

I always thought I'd never forget what my children were like when they were tiny. But life is full of so many memories, I cannot contain them all. I look at my albums and think, 'Who are these little people? Who is this cute little toddler, dressed in a sundress, with 20 necklaces around her neck, white dress gloves on her hands and a purse on her elbow - all with the paci in her mouth?'

I am thankful for my pictures, real & imaginary. So, today, I have a picture in my mind of 6-year-old Isaac, laughing with pleasure as he read to me this section from Dr. Suess's classic One fish two fish red fish blue fish:

Who is this pet?
He is wet.

You never yet
met a pet,
I bet,
as wet as they let
this wet pet get.

(how could you not laugh?)

poetry wednesday

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Here are some of the books in my family's library. But if I had a car, I would have gone to our wonderful library and taken a picture for you.

What? You've never been to the Wauconda Area Public Library? What a shame. I do think, and I am not kidding, it's the best library in the area. Even the state. Perhaps even the whole of the USA.

I am not exaggerating.

I love our library. When we lived in Florida, I would walk into the library there, and long for the Wauconda Area Public Library. The DVD collection is awesome, the book collection even better. Plus staff who have been there so long I remember them from my childhood - and they remember me too. Interlibrary loans come so quickly, the childrens' library not only houses books, but puppets you can check out, toys for the childrens' amusement, and of course computers.

What makes it even better now than when I was a child - the summer reading program is for all ages. Imagine that! I, as an adult, can participate in a summer reading program. That was my most favorite thing as a child. I do believe I literally cried the summer they told me I was too old for the summer reading program at the library.

In honor of my library, public and personal, I offer my poem for Poetry Wednesday (which, fittingly, comes from my personal library of school books: all the small poems and fourteen more by Valerie Worth)


No need even
To take out
A book: only
Go inside
And savor
The heady
Dry breath of
Ink and paper,
Or stand and
Listen to the
Silent twitter
Of a billion
Tiny busy
Black words.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Death by Meeting

Patrick Lencioni writes for business owners, and he's a good writer. I read his book The 3 Big Questions for the Frantic Family and wrote about it here. So when I came across his book Death by Meeting at the library recently, I knew that even if I couldn't use the ideas in his book, it would still be a good read.

And it is. Like Five Questions, Lencioni wrote it in story form, following a successful business owner who isn't quite as successful as he could be. The catalyst for change is a temporary employee, a friend of the family with an interesting education background. He uses his background to help the business rethink their meetings, meeting structure and meeting purpose, using film and television analogies.

Lencioni also includes an Executive Summary in the back of the book for those who want to skip the story and get down to the nitty-gritty.

If you are in a medium- to large-sized business, I would recommend reading this book. You might just avoid an early death brought on by too many meetings... or non-functioning meetings.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Raven's Gate

Once I find an author I enjoy, I try to read everything that person has written. It stands to reason that if I enjoyed one book by him, then I would enjoy the rest. I have found that logic to be pretty sound, but there are a few exceptions.

Anthony Horowitz is one of those exceptions. Horowitz is the author of the Alex Rider series I'v written about before - James Bond for junior high and high school students.

I was in the young adult section of our library, looking for the next book in the Alex Rider series, when I found Raven's Gate, book one of The Gatekeeper series. I picked it up, thinking I'd be proactive, reading it before my 11-year-old asked.

And I am so glad I did.

Horowitz is a great writer, and Raven's Gate is no exception. It's the subject I dislike.

Raven's Gate is about a teenage boy, Matt Freeman, who finds himself in a very sticky situation - a robbery where his friend kills a guard. He's offered a chance at a new program for first-time juvenile offenders - go to live with Mrs. Deverill in Lesser Malling instead of going to jail. He doesn't really care, so they send him to Lesser Malling.

Strange things start to happen, and Matt discovers he has some strange abilities.

Raven's Gate is a very creepy book - very creepy. There are references to human sacrifice, clairvoyance, ESP and worship of ancient beings, among other things.

Here's the thing - I believe in a spiritual world and spiritual beings. And I believe that messing with these beings is dangerous, as depicted in this book. I also believe that Jesus Christ defeated Satan and his followers at his Resurrection, and I believe followers of Jesus are able to defeat spiritual forces by His power, and not their own.

In Raven's Gate, Matt is able to escape and defeat his enemies with the help of other people, and his own special powers.

Horowitz himself, in the interview in the back of the book, describes the Alex Rider series and James Bond for teenagers. He then compares The Gatekeeper series with Steven King for teenagers.

I do not want my children tempted to start down that dark path, so these books will not be on our reading list.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Looking Out My Front Door

The results are in! I finally had a chance to calculate the winner of the Leichty Family March Madness Pool. Isaac, as I predicted, came out on top. The clear winner. I took this picture of him with his picks paper, and then he asked me what his prize was.

"Bragging rights," I told him.

"What's that?" he asked. "I'd rather go to Dairy Queen."

A boy after his Papa's heart. That's where we always went as kids to celebrate a victory, end of school or just because I was his 'favorite eldest daughter.'

So, the final results:
1. 6yo Isaac: 41 wins -22 losses
2. 8yo Lydia: 38-25
3. 10yo Anna: 37-26
4. ?yo Mom: 35-28
5. 42yo (on Sunday!) Dad: 35-28
6. 12yo Nathaniel: 23-40

Anna gets the prize for picking the most upsets. (For those who care, Anna was 16-6 in the first round - unbelievable! If she had only picked Duke out of the South, she would have beat her younger siblings handily.)

Nathaniel gets the prize for most loyal. He picked Florida to win it all. Again. Every. single. year. he picks Florida. The first year we each did picks, Florida actually won. He was elated. Now, no matter what, he picks Florida, and could care less if they lose in the first round. What loyalty! What devotion! What... well... craziness?

Glen and I are in a draw this year. He owes me some ice cream. Just because I love ice cream and I look for any excuse to get some. So since he didn't beat me, he owes me. :)

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Looking out my front door, I'm reveling in the daffodils and tiny hyacinths (I think) blooming down my sidewalk. The daffodils are starting to show their age, so I tried to get some pictures before they fade away....

Happy, happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Life has been oh! so busy these days. I was in a fury of detail-arranging a week and a half ago, as I prepared to be gone a week from my family.

A week - a whole, long week! Me, myself & I, staying with my dear friend, Sarah, while I went to a conference on communicating effectively - public-speaking more precisely.

It was fantastic - I learned so much! It was a crazy, crazy schedule. I barely had time to think - let alone blog - while I was there.

So, here I am, almost back into routine at home, catching up on stuff I missed last week, and ready for Poetry Wednesday.

To submit to a life of idleness
Is no intent of mine.
I shall keep the home fires burning,
Though I live on borrowed time.
-Rube Rustic

Rube Rustic is the pen name for Rene Jay, a pig farmer in Kendall County, Illinois. His descendants have donated the family farm to the Kendall County Forest Preserve, and one of my clients is illustrating/writing/creating the panels for the welcome center at the farm. I was lucky enough to be hired to help copy edit and write the story of the Jay family.

Rene himself was quite the Renaissance man. He wrote poetry, farmed, played violin and rode Harleys. Plus, he was well-versed in botany - plants and birds especially - and the history of his family and his county. Interestingly enough, he died on his tractor in the middle of the field. He was in the middle of working, because by the time he was found, the engine was silent because the tractor had run out of gas.

I'm sorry I don't have a picture of Rene - but if you're ever in Illinois, especially Little Rock, Illinois, stop in at Jay Woods, and read more about him, his family & his farm.

I see a field trip in my family's future!

Friday, April 02, 2010

One More Year

One more year - until I am officially a mother of a teenager. Nathaniel celebrated his 12th birthday yesterday - where on earth has the time gone?

We celebrated by going to Old Country Buffet - Nathaniel was so excited. And, in typical 12-year-old style, he tried to not eat much before we went. Then he ate so quickly, he got a stomachache. Fortunately, the restaurant was pretty empty, so he was able to lay down in a booth nearby for a few minutes to let his stomach settle before going back for more.

Ah, boys.

And of course, this mother brought her camera, enjoyed her dinner and managed to get through the entire celebration without taking one, single solitary picture! Big. Ol'. Sigh.

The good news is that the daffodils are blooming! The first one bloomed this morning - just in time for a picture.

The bad news is that I'm leaving on Monday for a week. I'm afraid they'll all bloom without me! My friends have promised to take pictures - it won't be the same - but it's something.

Enjoy these days my friends. I cannot believe how quickly they fly by...