Thursday, December 22, 2011

Story Challenge: That's Good! That's Bad!

Your Challenge:  
Tell a "That's Good.  That's Bad."  story with your children this week.  Report back by commenting on this post and tell how it went.

Story Tip:  Try this game on Christmas Eve when kids are having trouble sleeping.

Tonight at dinner we played a new story game.  It was brilliant!  We came up with it on the fly.  With two boys and one on the way dinner discussion can often be about bodily functions, body parts, or just plain fighting.  It can drive the Bug with Black Spots and I crazy.  We try to come to the table prepared with a good question or topic for discussion.  Tonight we got talking about books and somehow a story that the boys really enjoy came up.  It’s called “That’s Good, That’s Bad” by Margery Cuyler.  The boys clearly enjoy this story.  We decided to make up our own version of the story at the dinner table. 

Reading the book would be a great idea for your family.  They will get the idea much quicker with the book.  Margery Cuyler, the author, has actually made a series of these books.  Our Favorite is the original story shown below with the yellow cover and the zoo animals.  However, being that it is the Christmas season making a story similar to the "That's Good, That's Bad on Santa's Journey" would be a good tradition to start.  After you read the book make your own story using it’s format sometime when you are desperate for sanity.  I’m thinking a car trip or waiting for an appointment or even dinner in a restaurant.  Everyone can join in.  Even our four year old joined the fun.  We were a little worried about his contribution but he came up with some pretty creative things, which made it even more silly and enjoyable. 
Here’s how it goes.  Have an adult start the first game so the kids get the idea.  That adult starts the story by saying “There once was a …. (boy, girl, mom, dad, monster, bear, etc,...) Who…..(did something with a positive outcome.”  At the end of this short positive one liner everyone exclaims, “Oh! That’s good.”  The next person to go says, “No!  That’s bad.”  He or she then adds a negative line to the story that describes a bad thing that happens to the character.  At the end of this one liner everyone exclaims, “Oh!  That’s bad.”  The next person then says, “No!  That’s good!”  And on and on until the person who began the story ends it with a positive line to which everyone responds “Oh!  That’s good.”  Then the story beginner says, “No!  That’s Great!”  And the story is complete.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Two Birdies Who Couldn't Fly

If there is one thing that pushes me over the edge with my kids it's their incessant "It's not fair!"  I've come to the point where I don't even no what to say to that statement anymore.  Of course it's not fair.  Life never is.  Besides, I don't want it to be fair IF fair means every one gets the exact same thing.  Because to me that doesn't seem fair.  If one child gets a broken leg it's silly to break the other child's leg too. Right?  For me I'm realizing that fair means each child gets uniquely what he or she needs not necessarily what they want.  Which is never enough for them anyway.  Can you relate?

On the other hand, I have one child that is always hungry.  He eats because he's bored and needs stimulation and sometimes lacks a little imagination to supply these things for himself.  Should I just feed him to keep him busy and shut him up?   I have another child who gets so engaged in what he's doing he doesn't want to stop and eat.  It really is a fight to get him to eat when he's in a groove, but if he doesn't eat he has major meltdowns. Sometimes it's easier to ignore both of these different needs just so I can have a little peace and quite, but inevitably that backfires.  So what's a girl to do?

I thought maybe a healing story might be helpful for this issue of fairness.  The following story only begins to address the issue but it's simple and I think gets a clear and easy to follow point across to my kids.  Please feel free to try it out on your kids and tell me what you think.  Oh, and if inspired definitely make up your own healing story around this subject!


Two Little Birdies Who Couldn’t Fly

By Kristen S. Sandoz
Copyright 2011

There once was a momma bird that had a beautiful nest with two lovely eggs in it.  After some time the first egg hatched and an awkward baby bird came out.  From the moment this bird hatched he was a lot of work for the momma bird.  When he wasn’t demanding worms to eat he wanted his momma to cover him with her soft downy feathers and keep him warm.  He was often lonely and wanted her to sing to him in her pretty bird voice.
“Momma, I’m hungry.  Give me some worms!”

“Momma, I’m cold.  Keep me warm!”

“Momma, I’m lonely.  Sing to me!” 

These were the baby birds demands day and night until the momma was wore out.  After all he was a baby and babies need lots of love and care.  Soon the baby bird started to grow feathers in place of his downy fluff.

Then one day the second egg hatched and out came another awkward little baby bird.  He was a timid quiet bird and didn’t ask his momma for a lot of things.  Sometimes he went hungry because he never told his momma he wanted worms to eat.  Often he’d be cold and lonely because he never asked her to keep him warm and to sing to him.  He was after all a baby and didn’t quite know how to tell his momma what he needed.  The momma did give the second baby some of the things he needed but she was frequently overwhelmed and distracted by the loud demands of the first baby bird, who was even bigger now and required much more work than before. 

“Momma, I’m very hungry.  Give me some worms!”

“Momma, I’m very cold.   Keep me warm!”

“Momma, I’m very lonely.   Sing to me!” 

So the first baby bird grew bigger and bigger and the second baby bird grew weaker and weaker.  The momma didn’t notice the difference between her two baby birds.  She was too busy to see what her babies really needed.  She didn’t see that one could hardly move from his fatness while the other could hardly move from his weakness.

Then one day it was time for the two birds to learn to fly.  But can you imagine?  The first bird was too fat to fly.  He would only complain to his momma and say,

“Momma, I’m too hungry.  Give me some worms!”

“Momma, I’m too cold.  Keep me warm!”

“Momma, I’m too lonely.  Sing to me!” 

The second bird was too weak and frail to fly.  He would just lie in the nest limp and quiet, hoping his momma would feed him, keep him warm and sing to him, but she rarely did.

Sadly, neither of the birds ever learned how to fly!  The momma gave one bird too much and one bird too little.  She never gave either bird just what he really and truly needed. 

1…Now my story is done.
2…I love you!
3…Please, kiss me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review: Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviour

In preparation for an upcoming post I wanted to share a bit of my story journey with you.

In my pursuit to teach my first born son, Thing One, through his insatiable desire for stories I stumbled across a book called "Healing Stories for Challenging Behaviors" by Susan Perrow published by Hawthorn Press, Gloucestershire.  This book was so affirming to me.  It encouraged me to make up stories to tell my boys that would address specific problems I was having with them.  Or even to make up stories to address problems we were having in our relationships with each other.  After a while this developed into making up stories to hopefully preempt problems, like the story I'm going to share with you in my next post.

A Healing Story is just that, a story to heal.  In some cases Healing Stories can work where medicine can't.  They aren't for healing broken arms or burns of course.  They are for wounds of the heart, soul and mind.  At the very least Healing Stories have no negative side effects.  In her book, Susan quotes Ben Okri from his own book "Birds of Heaven":
 It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are.  They do their work in silence, invisibly.  They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self.  They become part of you while changing you.
 This is the power a Healing Story is trying to tap into.  There is so much more to say on the topic of Healing Stories, but for now I'll leave you with the above thoughts.  I know for most people this is a new concept and might be a little unnerving.  If you want to learn more on this topic I highly recommend Susan's book.  Below is a review on it from
Susan Perrow has developed the art of pedagogical stories to a luminescent degree. In her beautiful book she offers dozens of stories, some her own, some traditional and retold by her. Each story carries with it the seed of healing for just about any childhood problem, from unruly behavior to deep grieving. Her voice is one of warmth and caring, her stories are richly engaging to young and old alike. Having her book at hand is like having a medicine chest filled with homeopathic remedies for all conditions - and, like homeopathy, Susan's stories are guaranteed to produce no unwanted side effects. Healing Stories includes chapters on creating stories and on the art of storytelling, as well as stories selected for their ability to heal. This is a resource that is so vast in its usefulness that we predict it will become one of the most sought after parent/teacher resources ever printed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Nick and the Sausage Machine

Today I am sharing, for the first time I might add, a story I have written.  I'm a little nervous about this.  It feels super vulnerable. So be kind to me :)  It's a story for St. Nicholas Day, which is tomorrow.  If you do nothing else for this day at least read this story.   Oh!  I've added a "Print Friendly" button to the bottom of my posts so you can print this story out and read it more easily to your Littles and Bigs.

I love the imagination that St. Nick brings to children.  The stories around him are full of fantasy and mystery.  They create an opportunity to ponder the Mystery of Christ and the inner workings of our hearts.  I tell this story, "St. Nick and The Sausage Machine", on St. Nicholas Eve in anticipation of his visit the next morning.  And let me tell you it's a gripping story.  My boys are on the edge of their seats every time!  Then afterwards we sprinkle special magical glitter dust on our doorstep so that Santa Claus knows we want him to visit on December 6th instead of December 19th 25th (other common days for him to visit, he does have a lot of homes to visit after all, we can't expect him to do it ALL in one night can we :).  We put out our shoes filled with veggies for his animals; you know the reindeer and white horse and such.  And we go to bed.

 In the morning, we awake to a splendid table set by St. Nick himself for our St. Nicholas Feast in the late afternoon.  He steels Speculatius cookies from our freezer to decorate our plates.  There are three Cutie Oranges in our shoes in place of the veggies, chocolate coins hidden all over.  It is a special day to bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It brings us hope that Christ’s promise is truly coming. 

Enjoy & Happy St. Nick's Day!

St. Nick and the Sausage Machine
By: Kristen S. Sandoz
Copyright 2010

Tonight is a night of mystery and awe.  For tonight is the night that St. Nick comes to visit in all his wonder and glory.  He was a real man whose love for Christ was so great that he gave away all his worldly possession to those in need.  He was known for his love of children sneaking in the night to leave them gifts of gold and toys.  He was a Bishop who loved his flock and cared for his people like a kind and gentle shepherd.  Legend has it that he was a savior.  He saved three young girls from slavery, sailors from a violent storm and three military officers from an unjust execution.  While performing these deeds of love he was seen riding a beautiful white horse, a humble donkey or perhaps he was seen in a sleigh pulled by nine faithful reindeer.   In these ways he has become a type of Christ performing miracles in Christ’s name and paving the way for His birth on Christmas morning. 

Now, once a year, he brings gifts to boys and girls.  He mysteriously knows the hearts of each child judging if they have been bad or good, naughty or nice.  He is very rarely seen by anyone but he leaves evidence of his presence by eating a plate of cookies, or leaving a gift in a stocking, or coins in a shoe, or he gives a blessing to a child.  Even more his spirit shines in the hearts of children who do secret deeds of kindness as if they were St. Nicholas himself.  Yes, St. Nick is alive and well.  His spirit lives in side those who choose to believe. 

Do you believe?  Then I will tell you my favorite St. Nicholas story.

Nicholas was a loved and respected Bishop who served God’s people in the seaport town of Myra in the country of Turkey.  He served his flock faithfully keeping them on the path of righteousness.  But one day he was called away from Myra to the counsel of Nicaea in Rome to do some very important work.  With sadness he said goodbye to his people and set sail on a very long journey over the Mediterranean Sea.  A journey that took him weeks and weeks.

Nicholas was gone for a very long time.  Days past then weeks and soon whole months had gone by.  The people of Myra missed Nicholas and they began to forget the things he had taught them.  They had no idea when Nicholas would return and they began to get board and discouraged.  Then one day a very elegantly dressed man came to town.  He had a brilliant idea to pass the time until Nick returned. 

“Why don’t you have a fair?  There would be all kinds of diversions to keep you busy and entertained.  Think of all the plays and games, dances and festivities you could enjoy.  It would be a grand event and then you wouldn’t miss this Nicholas of yours so much.”  

He said this with such enthusiasm and bravado that the people of Myra thought this was a wonderful idea.  They began preparations for the fair right away.  Everyone was busy doing something for this special event.  There were stages to be made, lights to be strung, music to practice, and food to be prepared. 

One particular person was very busy making something very special.  It was the town butcher.  He had it in his heart to make the very best sausages the town of Myra had ever seen in honor of Nicholas.  He wanted to make a sausage that Nicholas would be proud of.  So he began to make an incredible machine.

The day of the fair finally arrived and the butcher was excited to start making his sausages for the town.  With a great crowd around him he started his machine.  The crowd was in awe of the marvelous invention before them.  With lights flashing and gears turning the butcher fed the first pig through the sausage machine.  The machine sputtered and made all kinds of grinding noises until finally out popped a string of perfect sausages.  The crowed cheered with delight and started buying the butcher’s sausage faster than the butcher could make them.

Soon the butcher had run out of pigs to send through the sausage machine.  What was he to do?  The people loved his sausages.  The fair wasn’t over yet and his sausages were bringing him lots of money.  He knew that he and his wife would be rich if they could just keep making sausages. 

“Wife!” The butcher called out.  “We must find more pigs.  Our public demands it!”

“But we have bought every pig in the town dear husband.” The wife replied, “There are not more pigs to be found anywhere!”

“We’ll double the price of the sausages.  We must have pigs!”  The butcher replied.

“Dear husband do not be dismayed.  We’ve made enough money to have a comfortable life.  And don’t forget that we’ve made sausages that Nicholas would be proud of.  Isn’t that enough?”  The wife replied.

“Oh, wife.” The butcher argued. “You can’t possibly understand.  We are on the edge of something wonderful here.  We can’t give up now.”

Suddenly the elegantly dressed man appeared beside the arguing couple.

 “Perhaps I can be of assistance to you.”  He suggested.  “I see you have a problem here.  You have run out of nice fat juicy pigs and your fans are eager to have more of your beloved sausages, that have indeed honored Nicholas.  This is a sad day.” He mused remorsefully.

 “If we just think creatively enough I am sure we can come up with a solution that will please everyone.” He said with sudden hope.

“You really think so!” The butcher and his wife exclaimed.

“Why certainly!  All we need to do is find a substitution for pigs.  It’s as easy as pie!” The elegant man exclaimed with confidence.

“Yes, a substitute.  I never thought of that.” The butcher was feeling great relief now.

“I suppose there really is no harm in using something else besides pigs.” The wife declared with satisfaction.

“You see?” the elegant man affirmed, “Our problem is all but solved.”

“Let’s think.” Declared the wife.  “A nice beefy cow just might do the trick!”

“Oh, no my wife.” Retorted the butcher. “We need something tastier than that.  We need something plump and juice.  Something tender and ripe.”

Right at that moment three very plump and tender young boys passed by the sausage machine.  They had been enjoying themselves very much at the fair and had heard rumor of the extra ordinary sausage machine with lights and buzzers and gears whirling inside it.  They had never seen such a gizmo before and were very curious, not to mention hungry.

“Please sir,” the fattest of them said, “May we see your sausage machine?”

The butcher being really a kind man and of course very proud of his invention showed the boys his invention with pleasure.  But as they were looking into the mouth of the sausage machine a strange desire came over the butcher and before anyone could see him he shoved the three pudgy boys into the machine.  With a wink at the butcher the elegantly dressed man pulled the lever to start the machine.  Seeing the sausage machine in operation once more the crowed cheered, not realizing what had really taken place.

It was at this very moment that Nicholas arrived home from his very long journey.  As soon as his feet touched the ground in Myra he knew something was wrong.  He hastened as fast as he could to the town square where the fair was taking place.  Nicholas followed his heart and was soon led directly to the butcher and his sausage-making machine. With one swift sweep of his arm Nicholas throw the lever in reverse just as the boys, who were now three very tasty and plump sausages, were emerging from the machine!  Back the sausage boys went into the machine as the lights flashed and gears whirled.  Until out they popped as three stupefied chubby little boys again, thinking only that they had had a bad dream.

Quickly Nicholas banished the elegantly dressed man, who was really the devil come to stir up trouble in the hearts of the people of Myra.  As for the butcher he realized his evil deed as soon as he saw Nicholas and was very grateful to the shepherd for saving him from his own horrible sin.
“Forgive me my dear savior.” The butcher cried. “I am indebted to you for the rest of my life and I will worship you until I die.”

“It is not I who has saved you.” Replied the wise Bishop, “But your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is he you should worship forever with your whole heart.”

The butcher vowed he would do this by spending the rest of his life serving the children of Myra and making free sausages for the orphans and the widows.  As long as Nicholas lived in Myra the people were safe from the deceitful ways of the elegantly dressed man.

1...My story is done.
2...I love you.
3...Please, kiss me! 

May you be blessed on St. Nicholas Day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Santa's Special Day!

Okay friends, I have a confession to make.  Santa doesn’t come to my family’s house.  Well, at least not on Christmas day.  No, we think Santa is special enough to have his very own day!  December 6th.  It’s the first thing my family changed when we started to revive our Advent season.  After reading Gertrud Mueller Nelson’s book “To Dance with God” I fell in love with St. Nicholas, AKA, Santa Clause. 

St. Nick is a type of Christ.  If you use him properly he can point wonderfully to Christ on Christmas.  Much like John the Baptist did for Christ on Easter.  If you want to know more about Santa Clause here is a site called, St. Nicholas Center: discovering the truth about Santa Claus, that Gertrud Mueller Nelson herself directed me to.  Ms. Nelson said she has a play about the very same story I'm going to share in my next post on this site.  Of course you should read Gertrud Mueller Nelson’s book.  It is very inspiring.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: To Dance With God

So it begins!  The most anticipated time of the year, the Advent season.  I love this time of year!  But I just hate that last stressful crunch between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It leaves me distracted, tired and completely unprepared for the Promise of Christ.  It leaves me no room for the contemplation that should happen during that time, during Advent.

Four years ago my good friend, Kim, introduced me to a book that revolutionized my families Advent season.  It’s called “To Dance with God” by Gertrud Mueller Nelson and published by the Paulist Press.   If you want to truly have more meaning in your Advent and Christmas season this book is a must read. 

Admittedly, you should start on Advent preparation way before the first day of Advent, which happens to be November 27th this year.  However, don’t be daunted.  Use reading this book as your own personal Advent this year.  Don’t be tempted to add anything to your Advent or Christmas season this year.  Okay, maybe one or two things but that’s it!  You will be overwhelmed and throw the whole thing out if you try anything more.  Also, realize that Ms. Nelson has had years and years of practice.  She’s like the Martha Steward of family ritual and community celebration.  She’s incredible!

Also, don’t be daunted by your family’s protestations to new traditions.  No matter how old they are you can make your Advent and Christmas seasons richer and deeper.  I promise they will warm up to it! 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Classic Thanksgiving Story

Torture your guests with a story when their mouths are full of pie on Thanksgiving Day. My extended family always roll their eyes when I bust out my holiday stories.  I'm teased mercilessly by my sisters.  It's funny how if I don't bring one to share they complain.  So don't be daunted by a few skeptical comments.  They'll get over it.

O. Henry is one of the best loved classic writers.  Here he writes a story for the adults and your Biggers.  The Littles may have trouble following it but there's nothing in it to harm them.  

Two Old Thanksgiving Gentlemen
by O. Henry

There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat saleratus biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Bless the day. President Roosevelt gives it to us. We hear some talk of the Puritans, but don't just remember who they were. Bet we can lick 'em, anyhow, if they try to land again. Plymouth Rocks? Well, that sounds more familiar. Lots of us have had to come down to hens since the Turkey Trust got its work in. But somebody in Washington is leaking out advance information to 'em about these Thanksgiving proclamations.

The big city east of the cranberry bogs has made Thanksgiving Day an institution. The last Thursday in November is the only day in the year on which it recognizes the part of America lying across the ferries. It is the one day that is purely American. Yes, a day of celebration, exclusively American.

And now for the story which is to prove to you that we have traditions on this side of the ocean that are becoming older at a much rapider rate than those of England are--thanks to our git-up and enterprise.

Stuffy Pete took his seat on the third bench to the right as you enter Union Square from the east, at the walk opposite the fountain. Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years he had taken his seat there promptly at 1 o'clock. For every time he had done so things had happened to him--Charles Dickensy things that swelled his waistcoat above his heart, and equally on the other side.

But to-day Stuffy Pete's appearance at the annual trysting place seemed to have been rather the result of habit than of the yearly hunger which, as the philanthropists seem to think, afflicts the poor at such extended intervals.

Certainly Pete was not hungry. He had just come from a feast that had left him of his powers barely those of respiration and locomotion. His eyes were like two pale gooseberries firmly imbedded in a swollen and gravy-smeared mask of putty. His breath came in short wheezes; a senatorial roll of adipose tissue denied a fashionable set to his upturned coat collar. Buttons that had been sewed upon his clothes by kind Salvation fingers a week before flew like popcorn, strewing the earth around him. Ragged he was, with a split shirt front open to the wishbone; but the November breeze, carrying fine snowflakes, brought him only a grateful coolness. For Stuffy Pete was overcharged with the caloric produced by a super-bountiful dinner, beginning with oysters and ending with plum pudding, and including (it seemed to him) all the roast turkey and baked potatoes and chicken salad and squash pie and ice cream in the world. Wherefore he sat, gorged, and gazed upon the world with after-dinner contempt.

The meal had been an unexpected one. He was passing a red brick mansion near the beginning of Fifth avenue, in which lived two old ladies of ancient family and a reverence for traditions. They even denied the existence of New York, and believed that Thanksgiving Day was declared solely for Washington Square. One of their traditional habits was to station a servant at the postern gate with orders to admit the first hungry wayfarer that came along after the hour of noon had struck, and banquet him to a finish. Stuffy Pete happened to pass by on his way to the park, and the seneschals gathered him in and upheld the custom of the castle.

After Stuffy Pete had gazed straight before him for ten minutes he was conscious of a desire for a more varied field of vision. With a tremendous effort he moved his head slowly to the left. And then his eyes bulged out fearfully, and his breath ceased, and the rough-shod ends of his short legs wriggled and rustled on the gravel.

For the Old Gentleman was coming across Fourth avenue toward his bench.

Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years the Old Gentleman had come there and found Stuffy Pete on his bench. That was a thing that the Old Gentleman was trying to make a tradition of. Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years he had found Stuffy there, and had led him to a restaurant and watched him eat a big dinner. They do those things in England unconsciously. But this is a young country, and nine years is not so bad. The Old Gentleman was a staunch American patriot, and considered himself a pioneer in American tradition. In order to become picturesque we must keep on doing one thing for a long time without ever letting it get away from us. Something like collecting the weekly dimes in industrial insurance. Or cleaning the streets.

The Old Gentleman moved, straight and stately, toward the Institution that he was rearing. Truly, the annual feeding of Stuffy Pete was nothing national in its character, such as the Magna Charta or jam for breakfast was in England. But it was a step. It was almost feudal. It showed, at least, that a Custom was not impossible to New Y--ahem!--America.

The Old Gentleman was thin and tall and sixty. He was dressed all in black, and wore the old-fashioned kind of glasses that won't stay on your nose. His hair was whiter and thinner than it had been last year, and he seemed to make more use of his big, knobby cane with the crooked handle.

As his established benefactor came up Stuffy wheezed and shuddered like some woman's over-fat pug when a street dog bristles up at him. He would have flown, but all the skill of Santos-Dumont could not have separated him from his bench. Well had the myrmidons of the two old ladies done their work.

"Good morning," said the Old Gentleman. "I am glad to perceive that the vicissitudes of another year have spared you to move in health about the beautiful world. For that blessing alone this day of thanksgiving is well proclaimed to each of us. If you will come with me, my man, I will provide you with a dinner that should make your physical being accord with the mental."

That is what the Old Gentleman said every time. Every Thanksgiving Day for nine years. The words themselves almost formed an Institution. Nothing could be compared with them except the Declaration of Independence. Always before they had been music in Stuffy's ears. But now he looked up at the Old Gentleman's face with tearful agony in his own. The fine snow almost sizzled when it fell upon his perspiring brow. But the Old Gentleman shivered a little and turned his back to the wind.

Stuffy had always wondered why the Old Gentleman spoke his speech rather sadly. He did not know that it was because he was wishing every time that he had a son to succeed him. A son who would come there after he was gone--a son who would stand proud and strong before some subsequent Stuffy, and say: "In memory of my father." Then it would be an Institution.

But the Old Gentleman had no relatives. He lived in rented rooms in one of the decayed old family brownstone mansions in one of the quiet streets east of the park. In the winter he raised fuchsias in a little conservatory the size of a steamer trunk. In the spring he walked in the Easter parade. In the summer he lived at a farmhouse in the New Jersey hills, and sat in a wicker armchair, speaking of a butterfly, the ornithoptera amphrisius, that he hoped to find some day. In the autumn he fed Stuffy a dinner. These were the Old Gentleman's occupations.

Stuffy Pete looked up at him for a half minute, stewing and helpless in his own self-pity. The Old Gentleman's eyes were bright with the giving-pleasure. His face was getting more lined each year, but his little black necktie was in as jaunty a bow as ever, and the linen was beautiful and white, and his gray mustache was curled carefully at the ends. And then Stuffy made a noise that sounded like peas bubbling in a pot. Speech was intended; and as the Old Gentleman had heard the sounds nine times before, he rightly construed them into Stuffy's old formula of acceptance.

"Thankee, sir. I'll go with ye, and much obliged. I'm very hungry, sir."

The coma of repletion had not prevented from entering Stuffy's mind the conviction that he was the basis of an Institution. His Thanksgiving appetite was not his own; it belonged by all the sacred rights of established custom, if not, by the actual Statute of Limitations, to this kind old gentleman who had preempted it. True, America is free; but in order to establish tradition some one must be a repetend--a repeating decimal. The heroes are not all heroes of steel and gold. See one here that wielded only weapons of iron, badly silvered, and tin.

The Old Gentleman led his annual protege southward to the restaurant, and to the table where the feast had always occurred. They were recognized.

"Here comes de old guy," said a waiter, "dat blows dat same bum to a meal every Thanksgiving."

The Old Gentleman sat across the table glowing like a smoked pearl at his corner-stone of future ancient Tradition. The waiters heaped the table with holiday food--and Stuffy, with a sigh that was mistaken for hunger's expression, raised knife and fork and carved for himself a crown of imperishable bay.

No more valiant hero ever fought his way through the ranks of an enemy. Turkey, chops, soups, vegetables, pies, disappeared before him as fast as they could be served. Gorged nearly to the uttermost when he entered the restaurant, the smell of food had almost caused him to lose his honor as a gentleman, but he rallied like a true knight. He saw the look of beneficent happiness on the Old Gentleman's face--a happier look than even the fuchsias and the ornithoptera amphrisius had ever brought to it--and he had not the heart to see it wane.

In an hour Stuffy leaned back with a battle won.

"Thankee kindly, sir," he puffed like a leaky steam pipe; "thankee kindly for a hearty meal."

Then he arose heavily with glazed eyes and started toward the kitchen. A waiter turned him about like a top, and pointed him toward the door. The Old Gentleman carefully counted out $1.30 in silver change, leaving three nickels for the waiter.

They parted as they did each year at the door, the Old Gentleman going south, Stuffy north.

Around the first corner Stuffy turned, and stood for one minute. Then he seemed to puff out his rags as an owl puffs out his feathers, and fell to the sidewalk like a sunstricken horse.

When the ambulance came the young surgeon and the driver cursed softly at his weight. There was no smell of whiskey to justify a transfer to the patrol wagon, so Stuffy and his two dinners went to the hospital. There they stretched him on a bed and began to test him for strange diseases, with the hope of getting a chance at some problem with the bare steel.

And lo! an hour later another ambulance brought the Old Gentleman. And they laid him on another bed and spoke of appendicitis, for he looked good for the bill.

But pretty soon one of the young doctors met one of the young nurses whose eyes he liked, and stopped to chat with her about the cases.

"That nice old gentleman over there, now," he said, "you wouldn't think that was a case of almost starvation. Proud old family, I guess. He told me he hadn't eaten a thing for three days."

1...My story is done
2...I love you!
3...Please kiss me.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Native American Thanksgiving Story

 Thanksgiving is upon us.  You need a story or maybe even two.  Start with this Native American story. Ooo...some popcorn would be perfect with this story!


The Spirit of the Corn

An Iroquois Legend
by Harriet Maxwell Converse (Adapted)

There was a time, says the Iroquois grandmother, when it was not needful to plant the corn- seed nor to hoe the fields, for the corn sprang up of itself, and filled the broad meadows. Its stalks grew strong and tall, and were covered with leaves like waving banners, and filled with ears of pearly grain wrapped in silken green husks.
In those days Onatah, the Spirit of the Corn, walked upon the earth. The sun lovingly touched her dusky face with the blush of the morning, and her eyes grew soft as the gleam of the stars on dark streams. Her night-black hair was spread before the breeze like a wind-driven cloud.
As she walked through the fields, the corn, the Indian maize, sprang up of itself from the earth and filled the air with its fringed tassels and whispering leaves. With Onatah walked her two sisters, the Spirits of the Squash and the Bean. As they passed by, squash-vines and bean-plants grew from the corn-hills.
One day Onatah wandered away alone in search of early dew. Then the Evil One of the earth, Hahgwehdaetgah, followed swiftly after. He grasped her by the hair and dragged her beneath the ground down to his gloomy cave. Then, sending out his fire-breathing monsters, he blighted Onatah's grain. And when her sisters, the Spirits of the Squash and the Bean, saw the flame- monsters raging through the fields, they flew far away in terror.
As for poor Onatah, she lay a trembling captive in the dark prison-cave of the Evil One. She mourned the blight of her cornfields, and sorrowed over her runaway sisters.
``O warm, bright sun!'' she cried, ``if I may walk once more upon the earth, never again will I leave my corn!''
And the little birds of the air heard her cry, and winging their way upward they carried her vow and gave it to the sun as he wandered through the blue heavens.
The sun, who loved Onatah, sent out many searching beams of light. They pierced through the damp earth, and entering the prison-cave, guided her back again to her fields.
And ever after that she watched her fields alone, for no more did her sisters, the Spirits of the Squash and Bean, watch with her. If her fields thirsted, no longer could she seek the early dew. If the flame-monsters burned her corn, she could not search the skies for cooling winds. And when the great rains fell and injured her harvest, her voice grew so faint that the friendly sun could not hear it.
But ever Onatah tenderly watched her fields and the little birds of the air flocked to her service. They followed her through the rows of corn, and made war on the tiny enemies that gnawed at the roots of the grain.
And at harvest-time the grateful Onatah scattered the first gathered corn over her broad lands, and the little birds, fluttering and singing, joyfully partook of the feast spread for them on the meadow-ground.

1...My story is done.
2...I love you!
3...Please kiss me.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Easy Advent Stories

The Advent season is my very favorite.  After all it is preparing us for Christ's birth on Christmas day.  Instead of the typical countdown advent calendar why don't you try something different this year?  How about a count down using stories?

Two years ago my sister-in-law gave us Jotham's Journey: an advent story book.  It has become one of our families most favorite Advent activity.  It has all that a child could want.  Adventure, love, mystery, suspense, and a happy ending.  Here is the Amazon description of the book.

"In this widely popular, exciting story for the advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem."

 The best part is there are at least two other Advent story books to follow this one.  By the time the first story book comes around three years later your littles will be in a much different place mentally and spiritually so the story will have new life and revelation.  And don't worry the stories are challenging enough to move even an adult to tears.

I recommend you order this book soon, because the Advent season actually start before December 1st.


For the Love of Stories

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love stories.  Especially stories for kids.  Even more particularly I love making up stories for my own kids.  It gives me a way to connect to them a way to reach their heart a way to tell them I love them.  No matter what happens during the day if I end the day with a story and a back rub then at least the last thing I've done with my children was positive.

I have stories that want telling.  So I've decided to tell them and share them with you.  I am not a professional storyteller.  I can't spell nor do I claim to be a writer.  Thankfully my kids don't care. They just want to be told a story.  My hope is that you will pass these stories from my heart on to your children.  And that eventually they will become your stories.  I will here and there post a story for you to read or practice telling to your kids.  Sometimes it will be a story game, a story challenge, or a book review. 

Perhaps you have stories to tell, too, but feel you lack ability.  I hope to inspire you.  Trust me.  Children are a very forgiving audience.