Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March Madness

Yep. That's me. Holding my winning bracket.

"Wait? Is the NCAA March Madness Tournament over?" you ask.

Nope. But for our family it is. For those who care, three of us picked Florida to win, two of us picked Ohio State. But for ALL of the Leichtys, the tournament is over.

All of our teams are out of the running. Every last one of our brackets is completely busted.

But I have to say, I cannot wait for the VCU-Butler game on Saturday! I wasn't sure if Butler could beat Florida - but WOW. My husband says, "I'm not betting against Butler until someone beats them."

(Funny how he says that now that they're in the Final Four. I'm the only one in my family who picked Butler into the Elite Eight. Almost picked them into the Final Four. Bummer.)

Anyway, we love this time of year. And for those inquiring minds who want to know, here are this year's standings in the Leichty household:

1. ME!
2. 12yo Nathaniel
3. Glen
4. 7yo Isaac
5. 9yo Lydia
6. 11yo Anna

In honor of the last weekend of the tournament and Poetry Wednesday, I found this poem online and thought it fit the occasion perfectly.

march madness
Manonton Dalan

i saw tears; tears on sidelines
towels covering their heads
tapping floor mourning lose
well adorn faces; saddened
bowed in silence in defeat
but there's next year's fate

other side filled with jubilation
hugging; jumping, smiling, scream
shared noises; roars of victorious
changing shirts; wearing new hats
kids who saw it wanted to be part
we, we always wanted to be winner

Monday, March 28, 2011

Siblings & Cousins

I neglected my camera over the weekend, and for that I am sorry.

I did have it in my purse for our Sibling Night Out on Saturday, but left it there. Even though I have no pictures to prove it, I can attest to the fact that Troy, Carrie & I had a wonderful time together. We ate pizza and bowled and laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

January of 2005: Our first siblings only road trip, leaving spouses & kids behind as we traveled north to the UP to visit our grandmother. We reminisced about that trip Saturday night - laughing at Troy's unwavering faith that his little Subaru could do anything. Except drive across the snow-covered bay in Gladstone. After a walk back to Grandma's house for some wood and a face-first fall in the snow by Carrie, we freed Troy's car from the snow and Troy conceded that his Subaru had limits.

April of 2007: My grandmother died a week after my sister was nearly involved in a drive-by shooting. I left my kids with a friend, took the train downtown and met Troy & Carrie for lunch. I remember laughing there too - even though it was a sober occasion.

March of 2011: I won a gift certificate to Slyce - a new pizza place in town. That, plus the fact I needed to attend a Candlelight Bowl hosted by our local chamber and I didn't want to attend alone, led to our third sibling-only gathering. Thanks to Glen for staying home with my kids, and Mom & Dad to staying with Troy's.

Yesterday, we enjoyed an afternoon together at Mom & Dad's, complete with a pop-in visit from our cousin Erik, his wife Meghan, and their friend Jared. Again, my camera stayed in my purse and I have no pictures to record their visit.

After the adults greeted Erik & Meghan, my dad called the kids to come see them. Oh my! All of a sudden a flurry of children ran up the stairs, into the living room and tackled Erik, hugged Meghan, and politely (some of them) shook Jared's hand. (Except Ben. After tackling Erik, turned around and said, "Hey, who are you?" to which Jared said, "I'm Jared." "Oh. I'm Ben." Then Ben shrugged and gave Jared a big hug. Isaac, of course, followed his cousin's lead.)

Today, the boy cousins are hanging at my house, playing with Legos (except when I kicked them outside for awhile after lunch), cleaning their room (with hopes of having a sleepover), and begging to go to the library or Papa & Nana's. The girls are at my Mom's, and there's been talk of sewing skirts for their American Girl dolls. (I promise I'll pull out my camera for that!)

And again I'm reminded of the importance of family. And, as my sister said, "I'm so glad we enjoy spending time together as adults. I can't imagine constantly fighting each other even as adults."

Amen, Carrie. Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


hanging out at Grandma's

The 'Big Boys' - Daniel & Joel, with their mom, Aunt Lyn

Grandkids ('Big Boys') & Great-Grandkids ('Little Boys' & 'The Girls')

My children with Great-Grandma & Great-Grandpa Roy
(yes, Roy did make it up from the floor!)

Twelve of us squeezed into Grandma & Grandpa Roy's apartment yesterday - and they were thrilled.

My cousin Joel is home from Iraq for a short leave. He, and his twin brother Daniel, generously agreed to make the 2.5 hour drive with my Aunt Lyn to visit Grandma & Roy. Fortunately, Lyn told Mom they were coming, and Mom told me - and a road trip was born.

Mom frequently makes the trip to Rockford to spend time with her mother, my grandmother. Generally, she'll take Lydia and Isaac with her - especially when the weather is nice. They throw their scooters in the trunk, and for the next week, my grandmother is the star of the retirement community. "Are these your grandchildren?" she's asked. "My great-grandchildren," she answers. (With pride. But don't tell her that, because we're not supposed to be proud.)

Even yesterday, as we toured around the facility and ate lunch with them, people asked her, "Oh, are these the children who scooter around outside in nice weather? These are your great-grandchildren? Oh, we love seeing them here!"

But, the hero of the day was my cousin, Joel. I could just see my grandmother's smile grow bigger when the 'big boys' came in the door. She wanted Joel to sit by her at lunch and hold her hand. Joel is the first of her descendants to serve in the armed forces since my grandfather Henry was a chaplain in World War II.

It was a very special day - made even more special by a game of Crazy Eights with Daniel in Grandma's apartment, big hugs from super cousins, Great-Aunt Lyn and even Great-Great-Aunt LaVerna, who also joined us for lunch.

Somewhere, there must be a poetry book with poems about aunts and grandparents and cousins - poems about extended family, not just parents. So far, I have not found that book. And, since I'm not a poet, here is my humble, somewhat trite, offering for Poetry Wednesday.

author unknown
Hold fast to your family
Wherever you roam
For life's sweestest words
Are still Welcome Home.

Though the poem is somewhat trite, there is nothing trite about an extended family who drive 2.5 hours one way to spend two hours with you. It's worth driving 1.25 hours just to see them.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Roots of Obama's Rage

I picked up this book from my library's shelf because I thought it read, The Roots of Osama's Rage. As I read the front flap, I became confused, wondering what in the world the Civil Rights Movement had to do with Osama bin Laden.

Then I realized it read The Roots of Obama's Rage, and it was about our president. I debated checking it out, since it was by Dinesh D'Souza. Don't get me wrong, D'Souza's a great author - I've read What's So Great About America and What's So Great About Christianity - both fantastic books. But they read like a dissertation - very meaty, well-documented, and slow reading.

I decided to try it, and I am glad I did.

In The Roots of Obama's Rage, D'Souza explores Obama's motivations. Is he a liberal? A product of the American Civil Rights Movement? Why does he do such contradictory things?

It's interesting to note the similarities between D'Souza and Obama - they are the same age, they both grew up in the Pacific, they both attended Ivy League schools, they are both best-selling authors. Those similarities helped D'Souza evaluate Obama - although he admits it was difficult. He says he made three abortive attempts before hitting on a theory which seems to fit some previously unexplainable actions Obama's taken.

D'Souza argues Obama's worldview is one he has adapted from his Kenyan father - that of an anti-colonial. His arguments come from Obama's own writings and speeches, even off-the-cuff remarks in which we see what makes Obama angry.

Like all his books, D'Souza's arguments are well-reasoned and well-documented. I found this book easier to read than his others, perhaps because it wasn't quite so scientific or theoretical as those. It has more of a psychological-science focus rather than a physical-science focus.

I think The Roots of Obama's Rage is an important book for all Americans to read, no matter your political leanings. I think this book will shock even those who strongly support Obama, especially if they read it with an open mind.

If what D'Souza writes is true, then we, as a nation, need to decide if we agree with Obama's worldview and goals. The future of our country depends upon our decision.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Stately Verse

This puzzle has been a long project. I groaned when I saw the box make an appearance in the living room during school. Anna can't stand to just sit and listen to books, she has to be busy - coloring, drawing, or making a puzzle. But did it have to be so big? And 1,000 pieces?

Yes, it did. And for the past four or five days of school, maybe longer, she has been working on this 3D puzzle of our nation's capitol building. At first, Isaac helped quite a bit, but as the side walls began to take shape, Nathaniel started feeling quite protective of this project, and requested that Isaac keep his distance.

"You're making me nervous, Isaac, being so close."

You can imagine their excitement as they put the roof and dome on this morning - we had to take a break from school to watch the finishing touches. And take pictures, of course.

Then Anna said, "Let's take it all apart and do it all over again!"

To which Nathaniel said, "Let's call Papa and show him first!" (They did inherit the puzzle from Papa's middle-school classroom when he retired.)

In honor of their accomplishment, and in honor of the very rainy day we're experiencing here, I give you this delightful little verse - which has no attribution.


If Mary goes far out to sea,
By wayward breezes fanned,
I'd like to know - can you tell me? -
Just where would Maryland?

If Tenny went high up in air
And looked o'er land and lea,
Looked here and there and everywhere,
Pray what would Tennessee?

I looked out of the window and
Saw Orry on the lawn;
He's not there now, and who can tell
Just where has Oregon?

Two girls were quarrelling one day
With garden tools, and so
I said, "My dears, let Mary rake
And just let Idaho."

An English lady had a steed.
She called him 'Ighland Bay.
She rode for exercise, and thus
Rhode Island every day.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Greet March with a Smile

Happy & Mad
I asked them to pretend to be angry.
Isaac said, "I don't like being angry." Neither do I, buddy, neither do I.

Winter has caught up with us. I have never seen, or heard, my children so utterly, completely and entirely grumpy and discontent as they were yesterday. It was awful. Even a trip to the library was only a temporary fix. As soon as they were back in the van, tempers flared again.

The only good thing about yesterday is that my dear husband went grocery shopping - which saved me from taking the temporary monsters out in public again.

Today we all need a smile. A laugh. The sun. Fresh air. We NEED SPRING! Thankfully, we have the sun today, and we will all be getting fresh air this afternoon (especially after I lay down the law: No TV unless you've been outside for at least one hour!).

So, here are some poems which will invoke a smile, and perhaps even a laugh. Thank you Ogden Nash for having such a delightful sense of humor.

The Lama
The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.

The Fly
The Lord in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why.

The Eel
I don't mind eels
Except as meals.
And the way they feels.

And this limerick, with no attribution:

There was a young lady named Bright,
Who traveled much faster than light.
She started one day
In the relative way,
And returned on the previous night.

I feel better already. Don't you?

Read more poetry here for Poetry Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Little Princes

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan captured my attention as few other books have.

As the title implies, this is a very personal story. Personal stories can feel very self-serving, but Grennan manages to avoid that pitfall by providing just enough honest introspection to pull in the reader, then shifting the focus to the culture and children of Nepal.

He tells us of his first introduction to Nepal, the Little Princes orphanage, and the boys in the home. Readers follow his journey from being overwhelmed by all the look-alike boys, to his developing relationships with many of them and recognizing each boy in the crowd.

Throughout the book, we witness his developing friendships with Farid and other foreign nationals working with children in Nepal - as well as his long-distance relationship with Liz. But the overwhelming focus is the children - the boys, and girls, who were trafficked away from their homes and then abandoned in the capitol.

Little Princes is a wonderful introduction to the recent history of Nepal and its continuing problems. Plus, it's a good read.