Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things that go bump in the night....

The Birthday Party Sleepover, is it a rite of passage or an insane parental decision? I will let you make the call. Yes it is true I just survived our first birthday party sleepover. Six of my daughters closest friends ascended upon my houses donning all the important sleepover necessities: Sleeping bags, pillows, stuffed animals, nail polish, etc.... 

I had a very flexible set of plans, and I think we can all agree that the road to hell is paved with the best intentions.  My daughter on the other hand had no plans set aside other than the fact that they were going to stay up all night.   So we ushered the noisy bunch in and fed them (pizza of course) and fancy party punch with a floating ice ring, nothing but the best.  After polishing off 2 1/2 pizzas in record time, I served them my works of art...drum roll please... 
penguin cupcakes, no real penguins were used of course. (The cupcake idea was found in Hello, Cupcake! by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson).  It took them some time to devour these cute cupcakes, when they finished they had only been here for one hour, ...thirteen more hours to go.

We moved right on to presents, which was followed by making friendship bracelets, nail painting (mostly shades of blue with neon green racing strips), 2 hours down. Next we played a improv game where you have to pretend you speak a different language and have to act out the sentence that appears on the card.  Everyone loved this, except for my cranky party girl. After this lively game they were all asking for a story, which was immediately shot down by the crankster herself.  Absolutely not she said, you'll ruin my party.  I never thought I would say this but maybe she is wiser than her years, I just which we could loose the attitude

3 hours down, 11 to go.  

Next they played wii,  followed by American Idol using the mic and amp of course. That is when it happened... the girl who was being Randy Jackson suddenly found her self very sad and ready to go home.  Ahhh what to do, after a quick chat with her Mom, Randy Jackson was back on the couch sending people to Hollywood.  Whew disaster averted... how many hours to go?  
Will I make it?  Running out of things to do and energy ... and fading fast. 
...yes it is me we are talking about.  

In my nicest storyteller mommy tone, I said " Girls lets get our P.J.s on and watch a movie."  Ah a simple feat,  ha, ha, ha, not so fast you silly rabbit... have you ever tried to get 7 preteens to agree on something...sigh.  Hey girls I said "I have a movie I think you will love and I bet none of you have seen it, My Neighbor Totoro... the finest in Japanese animation." They loved it.  It is now about 12:30, mind you some of these girls have never been up past 12 and the other half were determined to stay up all night.  In my best big happy voice I said "it's time to settle down and go to bed."  Asking if anyone needed anything before retiring to my own bed, I quickly slunk away.   What was I thinking?

The next 45 minutes went something like this, whispering, giggling followed by screams... my husband would get up and go downstairs and politely ask them to keep it down.   After the third round of whisper, giggle, scream it was my turn, so I asked them... why all the noise?
"Miss Bonnie" they said  "your house is scary", just listen they said.  Phsssttt, paaah, tap, tap, tap, whoooooo is what I heard. After another round of screams I said "O.K., O.K.  our house is over 100 years old, so when the steam comes up you hear Phsssttt Paaah and the tap, tap, tap are the dogs toe nails tapping on the hardwood floors.  The whooooo is the winter wind blowing."  After a few minutes of listening to all the creaks and moans of an old house I had them convinced that there was nothing to fear.  I grabbed a yoga mat and a down comforter and laid down on the floor with the gang and after a few fabricated giant yawns, they all nodded off to sleep.  I fell fast asleep too.  Now I can tell you that it has been a very long time since I slept on the floor and other than being a bit sore and a bit sleep deprived I survived along with the rest of them.  I crept up to my own bed ~5:30 a.m., while the rest of the gang slept until 7:30 a.m.

Can you imagine what would have happened if I had told them a few spooky stories, ...I would have been up all night! Thanks for the sound advice kiddo! Would I do it again... yes I guess I would.  I like the low budget, family style feel the sleepover vs. the commercial birthday bash.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Kids Book

I just finished reading Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb and I loved it.  It is a great story of how the Great Smoky Mountains National Park came to be. It is a work of fiction, I would say for kids 4th grade and up.  The main character is quite a spunky young lady who has many adventures that leave you laughing out loud.  

It just goes to show you how a visit to a national park can plant the seed of story, which may grow into to something beautiful.

P.S. I like to think I do things different too.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New Year With Many New Beginnings

As we turn to the East to watch 
the sun grow brighter in the New Year,
We turn inward to hold our hopes and dreams,
and grow wiser from our failures and losses
We turn to each other in support, community and friendship
May the turning of the year and the coming of the new light 
surround, nourish, liberate and illuminate us in the year to come.
 - Bonnie

Mowed Labyrinth 2008

I led a summer service at our church last summer and as part of that service I mowed a labyrinth into the church yard.  As  Unitarian Universalists we are encouraged to follow our 4th principal: "A free and responsible  search for truth and meaning." 
We all have traveled different paths and have returned from different journeys to find ourselves connected in this time and space. Although the path of the labyrinth  is the same for everyone who steps into it,  it will hold a different meaning; a different experience for each and everyone of us... a different journey on our path for truth and meaning.

A bit about the labyrinth:
I chose this four coil labyrinth which is created like the one that stood in the village of Temple Crowley which is just outside of Oxford England, for its winding path and its ease to mow. 

If you have a chance to walk a labyrinth, do it in the open air and enjoy this form of worship in motion.

Spooky Story Contests!

Since 2002 I have hosted a Spooky Story Writing Contest at the library I work at.  Over the years it has become more and more popular. It is very easy to run and I encourage anyone who may want to run this program in their community to do so.  

This is a great way to get your community's creative juices flowing, not to mention your own.  As a lover of story, I like to practice what I preach and write a spooky story or two of my own to inspire the kids.  Two of my favorites are called Old William, which is about an old man who is haunted by his mother's ghost and Brian's Hike, which is about a hiker who encounters a group of gospel ghosts at the top of a mountain.

Here is the basic recipe for how I run the contest. I send out notices to the local school libraries and ask the librarians to promote the contest, which is usually how we get the bulk of our entries.   I also put it up on our library website and send a press release to the local paper. I try to keep it simple asking the children K-12 to write an original spooky story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.   Everyone gets a certificate of participation because I feel if the kids are willing to write outside of school they should be rewarded.  Everyone who enters also gets a gift certificate to my favorite ice cream stand Sully's.  Prizes are usually books or Halloween trinkets. You can break down the categories however you like. This year I had a Kindergarten group, then grades 1-2, 3-4, and middle school category which is 5, 6, 7,and 8th grade. I usually don't do the judging myself. In the past I have had a Teen Librarian, a Newspaper Editor and a High School Teacher as judges. This year for the Top Prize winner I tried something new, since she was also my top winner in 2006, I took both of her stories and had them published at and for ~$7 per copy.  Please let me know if you run a spooky story contest your own, I'd love to hear how it went .

Scarecrow Festival at Red Wing Farm 2008

Old Dry Fry and The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything are a few of the stories I told to the younger children. When the younger group was replaced by a group of teens I told them the tale of the Black Gum, which is a cautionary tale of listening to your parents when trick or treating.

Ben and I performed at the first annual Scarecrow Festival at the Red Wing Farm in Chelmsford.  We had a nice little crowd who hung on every word as I told them spooky stories.