Monday, December 31, 2012

Justly Story Ch.4: The Poisoning of Ivy

The Poisoning of Ivy
by Kristen S. Sandoz

By now I am sure you are wondering just what became of the babe that took Pearl’s place. It is easy to find ourselves drifting toward bitterness when speaking of this little one. After all, she had no right to take Pearl’s place, and we will come to love Pearl so very much. However, it is imperative that we remember that Ivy, as she was named by the King and Queen, did not have a choice in the matter. In a way her new station was forced upon her as it was with Pearl and we cannot harbor hate for an innocent person. I warn you now to guard your heart from that bitterness no matter what happens to this wee one.

With that said, I am sorry to pronounce that Ivy was truly the daughter of a Thief and Lying Beggar. As she grew her natural disposition was always slightly nasty, prone to lies, selfish and self-serving, keen on casting blame, and never satisfied. These behaviors continually perplexed the King and Queen. At first when she was still in her 3rd and 4th years of age they hoped it was a stage or phase that all children grew through at this time of life. Then as she moved into the 5th, 6th, and 7th years and it became evident that these behaviors were not passing trends the King and Queen were beside themselves with confusion. What an odd child. Beautiful, but odd. Secretly the Queen wondered how it was possible that this fair skinned and dark haired imp could come from her own body, but this secret she never uttered to anyone. No matter what the King and Queen tried, Ivy’s disposition stubbornly pointed in the wrong direction. The King often referred to her as his compass that refused to point north. Eventually the King and Queen felt utterly defeated in their parenting endeavors and left Ivy to herself. But even this was not comforting to the royal couple.

To the King and Queen’s credit I must add that they loved Ivy. They loved her dearly. She was, as far as they knew, their only child, for the Queen never did give birth to another baby after Pearl. After all, she had nurtured and nursed Ivy all the way through childhood with the adoring, doting, and hopeful eyes of a mother. To the royal couple, Ivy was their greatest blessing, and, despite her uncomplimentary disposition, they chose to love her no matter what. Now that is the sign of a real King and Queen! 

One of Ivy’s worst qualities was her insatiable wants. This spilled over into all areas of her life but the clearest example of this thief-like characteristic was seen on her 9th birthday. One night a month or so before the birthday celebration she exclaimed to her Queen Mother, “I want a pony! For my birthday Daddy must get me a pony. It is what I want.” Despite the fact that this was plain rude (as the Queen had not yet asked her what she wanted for her birthday), she said it as if she was entitled to a pony and that her parents must comply. 

“Well, dear, I will talk with your father about the pony,” was the Queen’s response. 

“Yes, you tell him about my pony.”

The next week when the Queen was reading Ivy her bedtime story the pseudo-princess declared to her mother, “I want two ponies mother! For my birthday I must have two ponies!”

“Don’t you think one pony is enough for any girl, darling?” replied the Queen.  

“Not for me mother. I must have two. Don’t you see? I am a princess. I need two,” answered Ivy.  

“I will talk with your father,” was the Queen’s diverting reply.

For the next week every night before bed Ivy would insist on two ponies for her birthday until her mother said, “Hush dear. You will get your ponies. Now please stop pestering me about them.” 

This was the wrong thing for the Queen Mother to say for it only gave Ivy what she wanted. This was bad because as soon as she got what she wanted her desire changed and the very next night at bedtime she declared to her mother, “I want ten ponies for my birthday mother. Daddy must get me ten ponies! I will not be happy with anything less than ten. Be sure to tell Daddy.”  

Sighing, the Queen replied, “I will tell your father what you wish.” The Queen was quite worn out by Ivy’s persistence and felt she could really say nothing else to her daughter. But for the next week she heard nothing but ten ponies this and ten ponies that, until finally it was the week before Ivy’s birthday.

“Mother, I want to see my ten ponies tonight. I need to see them. Please take me to the stable to see my ponies.”

“No dear, you can not see your ten ponies tonight,” answered the Queen.

“But I must see them. I need to make sure they are all there,” Ivy said with some anxiety.

The anxiousness of her daughter concerned the Queen, and in an effort to placate her she said, “Do not worry yourself so my darling. Your father goes to the stable every night and checks on your ten ponies himself. You can rest assured they are all there.”

This was all Ivy needed to hear to change her heart. No longer were ten ponies enough--she wanted more. The next night she asked for 50 ponies. “Where are we to get 50 ponies from my dear? Your birthday is only five days away. You must be satisfied with the ten ponies your father has procured for you.”

But Ivy was not happy. She sulked and moped about the castle till she worked herself into a fever and had to be put to bed early two days before her party.

That night her father came to her room to inquire after her.  “What is ailing you so my fair Ivy?” was her father’s question.

“Oh, father, I have dreams of 50 ponies that I can train to prance in a line and turn in circles with lovely riders on their backs. They will be the most spectacular performers the kingdom has ever seen. But ten ponies just won’t do. I need 50. It will only work with 50,” was Ivy’s very solemn and sickly answer.

The King’s heart melted. He could see her reasoning for he was fond of horses, too, and particularly liked to show them off in flamboyant parades. He leaned down to kiss his child and then whispered, "Do not despair, sweet one, your dreams are lovely ones.” He resolved in his heart to get his princess 50 ponies for her birthday.

By the day of her party Ivy was markedly improved. She sat perched on a platform in a dreamy lavender dress next to the King and Queen. From her place she had a grand view of the field of dreams below where her ponies were due to be presented. She waited with utter expectancy. As the music started and her ponies came prancing onto the field she began to look at each and every pony as they filled row after row. She did this as if she were inspecting each pony, making sure it met her standard of approval. The King watched her with great interest, pleased with his daughter’s eye for equine. After the last pony was presented her father stood and asked her to join him on the field for a closer look at her birthday gift. He was beaming with pride until he saw his daughter's face. It was down trodden and filled with complete disappointment.  

“Fair Ivy!” he exclaimed. “What ever is the matter? Did I not get you the 50 ponies your heart desired?”  

“Oh, Father!” she said with utter dejection. “These ponies are fine, but what I really and truly wanted for my birthday was a purple pony. Why couldn’t you have at least gotten me one purple pony?” To which neither the King nor Queen had any reply. They stared at each other completely dumbfounded, once again, by their unusual daughter. Ivy’s eyes filled with tears and she stormed from the party in a swill of lavender, disappointed to the depths of her being. 

Ivy didn’t get what she wanted for her birthday, but the truth of the matter was she would never get what she wanted because she always wanted more than what she had. Ivy was never satisfied. She was never content, and if there is one thing I know for sure it is that the only truly happy people in this world are those people who are content without. Ivy was, in a sense, poisoned by her own insatiable want of more. As she grew older, this one desire drove her forward and propelled her every step. She became Poisoned Ivy. Unfortunately, this is not the last we will hear of the poisoning of Ivy, for as the Witch Hazel has been known to say, “Only an antidote can stop poison before it has completely consumed its victim.”

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Justly Story Ch. 3 1/2: The Priest

The Priest
By Kristen S. Sandoz

Our last Justly Story told us about the day of Pearl’s birth, where she was stolen from her royal parents by a Thief and a Lying Beggar. They in turn got tired of her after one day and promptly left her on the doorstep of the church. It would be a discredit to the Priest at this fine establishment if I did not mention his part in this whole story so I will give a short account of it now.

People were always leaving babies at the church. This was quite a disturbing problem for the priest in charge there for he was a young bachelor and had no idea what to do with babies. You can imagine his surprise at finding the bundle on the step. He at first was overjoyed when he saw the basket. “Oh, how lovely!” he said. “Someone has left me a gift!” People were often doing that, too. “I do hope it is a basket of apples. I’m dying for a warm, delicious apple pie!” He whisked the basket up, sure it was full of apples because of its weight, and set it in the front pew. He reached in, expecting to grab a cold, firm apple, and instead felt a warm, soft, wet, sticky mess! “Dear heavens!” exclaimed the priest, to which the Princess inside responded with a very loud hungry wail. Not knowing anything else to do he ran out the front of the church, with basket in one hand and pooh in the other and took it all directly to his neighbor, Hazel, who had not yet been outcast as a witch. “She will know what to do with a crying baby,” he thought. And she did.

So there it is, the story of how Pearl came to be poor and to have Hazel as an Auntie. Hazel kept Pearl as if she were her own. She knew from the beginning that there was something special about this baby she had been given and she took it as her own personal mission to see to it that Pearl had a chance to grow properly into her own calling--a calling which will not come easy for her. And in this way, Pearl, despite being a princess, is much like the rest of us. For, as the Witch Hazel reminds us, “Even a princess must choose to answer the one who calls her.”

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

If I Were One of Christopher Robin's Stuffed Animals...

If I were one of Christopher Robin's stuffed animals I'm afraid I'd be Rabbit.  He was never my favorite. I liked Pooh, of course, and then Eeyore.  Tigger was fun but a little overwhelming to me.  I was glad he came in small doses.  But I never liked Rabbit.  He was mean, negative, crabby, had no sense of humor, and he yelled a lot.

Yep!  That pretty much describes me as a parent.  And that is why I tell my boys stories, because I am a flawed person and I need some concrete way to bond and grow with my boys.  I need some tangible way to heal wounds that are deep and hidden.  I need to connect with my children in a positive way.  So I tell them stories to heal the wounds that I sometimes inflict as well as the wounds they receive from others.  But probably my biggest motivation in telling them stories is that it is one last ditch effort on my part to end the day on a positive note.  I'm hoping that by telling them a story at bedtime they will go to sleep and remember me not as Rabbit, but as Kanga.  A loving, gentle, gracious, mother.  That's my hope.

Tonight after a long week of shootings, a fire, deaths, failures, and a lot of tears I told my boys a story that left me in awe of myself.  I'll be honest with you.  It felt good!  I need to be reminded, just like they do, that I am not all bad.  I can be redeemed.  Tonight's story did that for me.

It was a simple story.  Another addition to The Justly Stories.  The boys ate it up.  We cried, asked questions, feared, learned, and celebrated all in a matter of 30 minutes.  We had open conversation and I saw the side of my boys that I love.  I saw their kindness, their compassion, and their thirst for justice. 

Even more I saw their need for redemption and grace.  "Mom," Thing 2 said through teary eyes, "You have to stop.  It's too sad.  Someone has to love her."  He says of the girl who has poisoned herself with jealousy, selfishness, and greed.  Yes!  That's it.  Someone has to love her despite her flaws.  We need to know she can be saved.  She can change.  She can  be made good.  This is what I want my boys to believe in and to hope for.  I want them to be the ones to love when no one else will.  This is what I want for myself, too.

THEre is
GOOD in this world!

Tonight was a night of redemption.  For myself, my children, and the world.  I will continue to touch my children's hearts by bonding, healing, growing, and building memories through storytelling. I am so grateful I slept so horribly last night and made up a story to occupy my dark night.  I'm even more grateful I willed myself past my Rabbit persona that I have to done in order to survive the bedtime routine and instead chose Kanga for once.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Favorite Quotes

I found this quote on the tag of my Yogi tea bag the other day.  Of course I loved it!

To learn, read.
To know, write.
To master, teach.

Such true words!

Now, go enjoy a well earned cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our Advent Sock Story Garland

We have started Advent in our house.  This is always a time filled with a lot of excitement.  I have to remind myself that the Things are only acting up because they are excited and not because they are purposefully trying to exhaust me.

I have come to love our Advent season.  We have several key things that make it rich for our family.  It has taken a few years to hammer this out.  We've tried somethings that have failed to jive with us so we just threw them out and have only stuck with the things that work.  Here is a glimps of one of those things.

Our Advent Sock Story Garland

I think originally I saw this in a Martha Stewart magezine but since then I have definately seen it on Pintrest.  I love it!  I love how fun and festive it looks and I love that it's easy and that I made it. I think it works well with our decorations and it is so versitle.

We do not put candy in our garland, although you could, instead we use it to tell the Nativity story. Are you surprized?  A story in socks!  We rotate the contents of the sock each year so it's new and fresh.  This year in each sock we put a piece from the Play Mobile Nativity set.  I set up the manger empty and everyday the scene grows.  Of course the animals arrive first then Mary and Joseph followed by the shepherds, the wise men and finally Jesus on Christmas morning.  We also have St. Nick in there who comes on December 1st, St. Nicholas Day. As the scene grows the Things play with it more and more.  I'd love to add to this process one of these years by putting a matching verse inside each sock to read.

Next year I plan to do the same thing with a Jessy Tree instead of the manger scene.  Someday my husband and I would love to build a LEGO Nativity set.  Unless LEGO decides to do that for us first.   I bought the Play Mobile Nativity set with the Wisemen set on Amazon and the socks at the Dollar Tree and Fred Meyers.  I used jute string and mini clothes pins to hang them up. I think that's it.  Simple and sweet.

Happy Advent!

ps. Oh, thank you Instagram for my photos!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Window

The first Advent Sunday is only a week away.  If you haven't done so already now is the time to start preparing for this special time of putting flesh on Christ.  Today, in our Quaker meeting house, I shared a story I wrote about a personal experience I had with the Incarnation of Christ to help transition us into the Advent season.  I'm sharing it with you all below.  


A Window
By Kristen S. Sandoz
It was a dry, hot, African day.  I was headed to a birthday party with my African friends in the up-country of Kenya.  I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing my Levis so I put on the only skirt I had and a coordinating blue T-shirt.  I gave it a second thought and decided to don a necklace with a praying hands pendant, hoping I could dress up my humble outfit with one of the few pieces of jewelry I had brought.  There wasn’t much improvement but I had tried.
Once we reached Nairobi we made a transportation exchange in one of the worst parts of town, from a small cramped stinky bus to an even smaller, more cramped and stinky mini-van.  Out of protection for the white person, my friends insisted I enter the van first.  I fumbled to the back and sat next to an open window, thankful that I would have some relief from the smell of African body odor by breathing the smell of exhaust.
The van started moving into traffic.  I watched the craziness of this city’s life from the safety of my window.  A businessman in his pressed, yet uncoordinated, suit walked down the street with an air of importance.  As he walked, absorbed in his own world of comfort, he passed a crippled man crawling on his deformed knees. 
My attention was drawn toward a row of women wearing brightly colored African kongas tied around their waists like skirts.  Sayings of the wise imprinted on these kongas hugged their swaying behinds as they bent over their fruit neatly stacked on the sidewalks.  Children were everywhere.  Some tugged shyly on their mothers’ kongas, others ran around looking for a handout and others, coupled to their mothers’ backs with a konga, contentedly chewed on mango pits.
Among all these claimed children there were the unclaimed ones, the street boys.  At this time in 1996 some 150,000 of them roamed the streets of Nairobi.  They were wild boys ages 4 to 18.  If you’d seen one street boy you’d seen them all.  Their clothing was held together only by the crusty layers of dirt formed by roaming through garbage heaps while looking for food.  Their feet were callused over as if they had one thick piece of rhinoceros hide glued to the bottom.  Then there was that “look.” The eyes of a street boy revealed all, a yellow glazed disassociated look caused by sniffing gasoline and glue.  This was the coping mechanism used by these boys to survive the hard, deprived life they lead.  There was more though, a cruelty, a rebellion, a desperation, a wisdom of sorts.  It was chilling to look in the eyes of a street boy.  It was like a window into their heart and it exposed too much.
My journey through this city continued.  The van entered a jammed intersection.  I saw three of these mongrel street boys playing in the meridian.  I was proud of myself that I had spied them before they spied me.  It did not take long, however, for them to all hone in on my white face sitting in the open window.  Immediately one of the older boys got up and meandered toward my van as if I wouldn’t realize he was coming.  “Yeah right!” I thought. “I know you’re going to ask me for money.  I am glad I don’t have anything to give you!”  I crossed my arms and kept watching him with a new defiant intensity.  It was mutual stand off as he came to my open window and walked along side of it just staring at me.  “What is this boy doing?” I thought. “Why isn’t he saying anything?”
It was one of those moments that as you’re thinking the question it answers itself with a leap of your heart that suddenly makes everything clear.  “My necklace, this boy wants my necklace!”  I was surprised that I knew the answer to my question.  I fought the instinctual urge to put my hand over my pendant and protect it from what could inevitably happen.  I stayed calm.  I wanted to see if this boy would really steal from me while I was looking him straight in the eyes.  Sure he could steal from people who didn’t realize it, but was he lost enough to steal from someone who knew?
From the margin of my vision I saw his grimy teenaged hand slowly come through the window and latch onto my praying hands pendant.  His oddly colored orange eyes never blinked once as he swiftly relieved me of my burden.  He stopped and I continued to watch him, my hand finally losing its control and drifting to the spot that once showcased a meaningless possession.  As my van eased away I wanted to yell something to him.  “Jesus loves you anyway!” or “I’ll pray for you!”  But nothing came. I was too mad, too awe struck by the brazen ability of this boy to steal from me!  Who was he that he could do that and still sleep at night?  I hoped that no one in the van had noticed what had taken place.  Surely they would not understand that I was trying to teach this boy a lesson!
That night I had a dream.  I dream a lot, but this dream was different.  I was standing in heaven and there staring at me with the most familiar pair of oddly colored orange eyes was Jesus Christ.  He was framed in a window and sitting on his throne wearing nothing but an African konga and my praying hands necklace.  I was shocked, “How did Jesus get my pendant?”  Noticing the confused look on my face Christ spoke to me gently, saying, “Kristen, I have given you many things.  But, when I asked you for one small, little thing, you wouldn’t give it to me.  I had to take it.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Justly Story Ch. 3: On the Day of Pearl's Birth

Ch 3: On the Day of Pearl's Birth
By Kristen S. Sandoz

Here we are once again with an adventure before us. You have met in earnest the Witch Hazel. However, I’m sure by this time you have so many questions about our heroine Pearl. How did she come to live with her Aunt Hazel and what happened to her parents? Were they dead? Did they abandon her? Were they really a king and queen? She is a princess, right? How can this be? Well, your questions are very insightful, reader, and you will be shocked at the story I have to tell you regarding Pearl. Be sure you are not reading this up past your bedtime for once you start on this part of the story you will not be able to stop until I have finished. I would not have you get in trouble on account of me for reading when you should be sleeping.  

Well, she is a dear girl! Truly the daughter of a king. She does not know this, of course, but the fact of the matter is “princessness” comes from within and cannot be dimmed or taken away regardless of a girl’s circumstances. One either acts like a princess and therefore is a princess or one does not act like a princess and therefore is not a princess. It is that simple. Pearl was a princess. I hope you aspire to be one too! It is a grand and glorious life, unless, of course, you are a boy, and then to be a prince suits you much better.

Pearl acted like a princess because she was the daughter of a king. So there is the answer to one of your questions. You are so inquisitive! No, her parents were not dead and neither did they abandon her. In fact they had no idea they had ever lost Pearl to begin with. They were the King and Queen of the very kingdom in which Pearl lived. She was kicked out of her very own Royal City and lived as an outcast in her own kingdom. Can you imagine? All the while the King and Queen were unaware of her existence. They lived their lives in ignorant bliss. Well, almost bliss.

It had taken the Queen quite some time to experience that miraculous and mysterious thing of having a baby grow in her belly. When it finally happened the royal couple was naturally ecstatic. When the time came for the baby to be born the whole kingdom was on pins and needles. Everyone knew the Queen was due any day and everyone waited with great anticipation for this first born royal child. But there was at this time another couple who were also waiting for a baby to be born to them only this couple was not so royal. In fact, they were very much the opposite. They were a Thief and a Lying Beggar. The most rotten sort of people, the kind that would sell their own flesh and blood for a pint of beer and a red petticoat and that is practically what they did. Two nights before the queen gave birth to her baby the Thief and Beggar’s baby was born. It was a girl, and when this dastardly couple heard the news that the King and Queen had also had a baby girl they got it in their smarmy heads that their lovely baby, for she was lovely, had as much rights to the royal throne as the Queen’s own child. Plus, they were already tired of their own baby's incessant crying and constant want of food. So they formed a plan. 

It was late at night only hours after the Queen had given birth. There was much excitement as the whole City had waited up to hear the royal trumpets announce the birth of the princess. Hazel was not the Queen’s midwife that evening because of her mother’s history with the royal family. I should point out that if it had been Hazel attending to the Queen and her precious baby girl none of this would have ever happened. Hazel is most conscientious, and consequently our story would never have been written. So in a strange way we should be thankful for Hazel’s absence that night, because it proves that good can come from evil. Never the less, she was not there, and the midwife who was attending to the birth was run ragged with stress and weariness, for it was a very long and strenuous birth. 

This midwife, who will remain nameless, was so overcome with the gravity of her responsibilities--she had never been the midwife to royalty before--that she was simply too busy to pay much attention to the newborn princess. Minutes after the baby’s birth the midwife wrapped her in swaddling clothes and handed her off to an assistant. This assistant comforted the baby by giving her a pinky finger to suck and soon laid the sleeping baby girl down in order to help attend to the Queen who had proceeded to faint dead away. This all worked out marvelously for the plans of our Thief and Lying Beggar. The evil couple had disguised themselves as wash maids and were in charge of bringing clean linens to the Queen’s chamber during the birth and removing the soiled ones. While the Lying Beggar bustled in out of the chamber her husband, the Thief, sat waiting under a pile of sheets just outside the chamber door with his own baby, whom he was pacifying with a cloth soaked in elderberry wine. As soon as the assistant laid the princess down to rush to the Queen in her time of need the Lying Beggar swept the baby up in a pile of sheets, traded her with her own baby from her husband and whisked the princess off with the wash. No one ever noticed the difference. 

Unbelievable, you say? Not in the least! The Queen had not seen her own child yet and the Midwife was less than observant that night. The assistant was just plain ignorant and the babies were both fast asleep, not that they could have given witness in the first place. The most unbelievable part to me is that a day or two after the Thief and Lying beggar made this switch they decided that babies weren’t quite their thing and they discarded the newborn Princess in a basket on the doorstep of the church. 

I will stop my tale here tonight. So many things to think about, I know. Mainly, why do thieves and beggars get away with such awful things? It is so awful! But as the Witch Hazel often quotes, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.”

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Justly Story Ch. 2: The Witch Hazel

Ch. 2: The Witch Hazel 
By Kristen S. Sandoz
            Let us start our story today by returning to Hazel and Pearl.  They were both highly regarded among the Outcasters for not only their wisdom and understanding but also for the healing power of their voices.  You can only imagine the intense and melodic sound that comes from one young and radiant voice and one old and, shall I say, well-worn voice.  It is as if the two juxtaposed sounds stirred themselves together into a rich and nourishing formula.  All who came and drank of this formula knew they found a fountain in which to renew their tired souls, weary hearts, and worn bodies.  Of course, the content of the songs Hazel and Pearl sang were of only good, faithful and uplifting things and this helped the hearer in unexpected ways.  One would come to listen to the two ladies sing because of the sound of their voices, but while they were smelling the pie they were being fed spinach, so to speak.

            There is so much to be said on these two individuals that I will most likely be filling in the blanks as I go.  As I have mentioned the Witch Hazel was a great healer not only through song but also through herbs and tinctures and your everyday practical wisdom, which many of us forget to employ.  She learned the art of healing through her mother who was at one time the Official Healer to the King’s family.  Her mother, Hyacinth, was often called upon by King Richmond, who is the grandfather to the present day king, to travel with his family to distant lands.  King Richmond loved to travel and visit the far places of the world.  Unfortunately, he married a woman who was of a weak disposition and was often struck with strange illnesses while traveling.  You would think Richmond would leave his family home while he traveled but he never did.  He loved his wife and children and preferred to have her and his youngest babes close to him even at the expense of the Queen’s own health.  This situation therefore required a healer to travel with the family and Hyacinth was the Queen’s most favored healer.  Hyacinth had children of her own and her husband was dead so she often brought Hazel and her brother, Sage (although he doesn’t come into our story much), with her to serve the King.  It was in this way that Hazel learned so much about healing and herbs and the delivery of babies and other such necessary things.

One day during Hyacinth’s service to the royal family the Queen fell seriously ill in one of those far away lands and Hyacinth was not able to help her.  Despite all that the healer tried the Queen languished.  This shouldn’t have surprised King Richmond for he had been often warned of the folly in taking his fragile wife along with him in his frivolous pursuits.  But he suffered, as many of us do, from the idea that he was King, and somehow this exempted him from having to mind the laws of nature.  The Queen died and Hyacinth was blamed and chased away to live in Outcast Forest.  Everyone knew that it was not Hyacinth’s fault but a that of the King and his insatiable appetite for strange lands and selfishness for the company of the one he loved who was really too sickly to travel in the first place.

There was still much work for Hyacinth in Outcast Forest.  Many from the city would visit her there and of course there were all the Outcasters themselves, who were far more than we would care to count.  All this time Hazel grew in her healing abilities and when there was one in the Royal City that needed immediate assistance and could not be moved, Hazel was sent to do her mother’s work.  When Hyacinth died one night in her sleep, from good old age, Hazel was more than capable of filling her mother’s shoes.  Hazel lived in the Royal City after her mother’s death for quite some time.  She made a reputation for herself and it wasn’t until she was a very old lady of 50 (at least some think 50 is very old), that the vicious rumor started which eventually caused her expulsion from the Royal City.

This part of the tale may seem very sad with so much death and loss but do not fear; it all turns out happy in the end. As the wise old Witch Hazel often says, "The earth smells sweetest after the rain".

One…Now my story is done.
Two…I love you.
Three…Please, kiss me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Story Game: I'm Good

Sometimes I get it right.  Not often but sometimes.  It feels so good!  Lately Thing Two has been feeling bad about himself.  He tries to punish himself for being "bad" and gets into these funks where he can't seem to find anything good about himself.  This is so heartbreaking.  Especially as he is my birthday boy (born on my birthday) and can be as sweet as pie!  (I actually called him Baby Pie as an infant).  Like many of us he has believed a lie and follows its trail.

So what did I do right?  Instead of lecturing Thing Two on how good I thought he was I played a game with him.  I made it up on the fly.  It's called "I'm Good".  It worked too!  I have to brag because probably 90% of the time I'm beating myself up for getting it wrong.  It just seems so rare to actually feel like I'm doing something good for my boys.  Hmm...guess I need this game too!

Here it is.

I'm Good Game

To Play:
Each player takes turns saying one thing that is good about themselves until all players have said three things.  An adult starts as an example for the first game.  There are a few special rules though.

1) This is not a competition game.
2) All responses have to be positive.  No one can comment negatively on someones own opinion of themselves and no negative answers are allowed.
3) All three things have to be shared before game ends.
4)  A player's turn is not over until they come up with a positive thing about him or herself.
5) The player has to come up with his own good thing about him or herself.
6) No response can be said twice even in a new game.  Unless, so much time has gone by between games that responses have been forgotten.  (We played this game at every meal for three days and it got very challenging and more rewarding each time.)

Tips: Try to encourage players to come up with something unique and to not copy what someone else has said. Sometimes is might be necessary to have player expand on his or her answer with a specific example.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Review: A Kid's Herb Book
It's cold and flu season and I am excited to tell you about a book that I love this time of year.

If you've ever bought a Traditional Medicinal Tea like "Throat Coat" or  "Gypsy Cold Care" you are using a version of something you can make right at home.  Traditional Medicianals was started by Rosemary Gladstar a prominant herbalist.  She wrote a book called Herbal Recipes which has been published for many many years now.  That, however, is not the book I am reviewing today. 

Today I want to introduce you to A Kid's Herb Book; for children of all ages by Lesley Tierra.  If you are a beginner herbalist this is a great book for you, especially if there are children in your life.  Tierra covers 16 basic herbs used for treating illnesses and injuries. Herbs like Mullein; the ear and lung herb, Comfrey; the bone knit herb, Dandelinon; the weed that strengthens, and Licorice; the peace making herb. this adventure you are accompanied by a Gnome called Greenleaf.  He walks with you as Tierra teaches how to make salves, cough drops, paultices, lip balm, real marshmallows, toothpaste, syrups, and lots lots more.  There is so much about this book that I love but what brings it to mind for this blog is Tierra's use of stories.  Each herb has a story and a song to help children see how magical these wonderful plants truly are.

My personal favorite herb in this book is Slippery Elm.  It heals wounds, soothes coughs, and my favorite feature, helps stop vomiting.  Yes!  One recipe my family uses the most is something we call Alien Gruel.  It's nasty looking stuff and takes a bit of getting use to.  But man oh, man, does it make a sick tummy feel better.  In order to get my boys to eat it I read them the story for Slippery Elm and then have them eat a spoonful fo Alien Gruel after every paragraph. They thank me afterwards.

Just in case treating your child with herbs makes you a little nervous.  Tierra also includes dosing information for children and a chart of symptoms as well as which herbs to treat them with.  She also gives the balanced advice of when to seek medical help.  To further enhance this book she has a website with a link to her book for interactive features.  So much fun to be had with herbs!

Did I mention coloring pages?


Friday, October 19, 2012

A Justly Story Ch. 1: A Mother's Bedtime Tale

I am about to begin a great adventure with you.  An adventure that is about courage, faith, love, perseverance, and all good things that heroes and heroines must have.  It will not be easy but the journey will be worth it.  I am about to share with you some very personal stories I made up for my boys.  When Thing One was just a wee babe I kept myself busy thinking up stories about a blind boy name Justly while I nursed him late at night.  I gave Justly all the things I hoped for my newborn son.  As he got older I began to tell him these stories in hopes of shepherding his character. I don't know if it will work but I know he, as well as his younger brother, and hopefully his still younger brother to come, beg me to tell them more Justly Stories, as they have come to be known in our home.  I hope you love them too!

Happy Tales!
Ch. 1
The Justly Stories: a mother's bedtime tale
By Kristen S. Sandoz
Once upon a time in a little poor cottage lived a little poor princess who was prettier on the inside than she was on the outside.  Please don’t misunderstand me: this princess was certainly not ugly. In fact, she was a regular little girl and looked as a regular little girl ought, but she did not let that minor point stand in the way of her greater inner virtues.  And yes, she was a princess, even though she was poor.  For I subscribe to the same theory that the wise Mr. McDonald does when he says what he means about a princess.
“…Every little girl is a princess, and there would be no need to say anything more about it except that she is always in danger of forgetting her rank, and behaving as if she had grown out of the mud.  I’ve seen little princesses behave like the children of thieves and lying beggars, and that is why they need to be told they are princesses.  And that is why when I tell a story or this kind, I like to tell it about a princess.  I can then give her every beautiful thing I want her to have….”

 And, as Mr. McDonald’s little audience so keenly observed, a princess, after all, is the daughter of a King.  So what more is there to explain?  He stole the words from my mouth and so that is why even though my heroine is poor she is still a princess.

It’s not such a bad thing, being a poor princess.  Sometimes being poor is the only way for some girls to realize what it truly means to be a princess.  Riches, and the fame that comes with them, often keep princesses focused on outward appearances--so much so that their inner virtues can be taken on and off with their beautiful garments and hung up in the closet when no one is watching them.  And there they sit in the same skin and bones that a poor princess has looking at themselves in an ornate mirror only to not see that without their fine garments they are really only the daughters of thieves and lying beggars.  So you see, being poor and a princess can be a great comfort and benefit to a girl, as was the case with this princess, who was called Pearl.

Pearl lived with her poor great aunt Hazel who was very ugly as far as appearances go but wise and radiant on the inside.  She was outcast from the nearby kingdom because the people there could not understand how two totally opposite virtues could walk hand in hand.  Ugliness and wisdom could not live together in their minds so they called her a witch and sent her away.  But this was really because they were jealous of her great wisdom and not because they really thought she was a witch.  Of course Hazel had to take Pearl with her because she was the only person Pearl had and she was not even a real blood relation, at that!  But Hazel loved Pearl unconditionally and that is what truly makes a mother, father, sister, brother, or--in this case--aunt.

That is how Hazel and Pearl came to live together in their poor little cottage on the edge of Outcast Forest.  They were never lonely and never in want of company.  There were many others who had been outcast for far more silly reasons than they.

For instance, there was Farmer Dooble, who was outcast because his vegetables were the best in all the land and his prices the fairest.  None of the other farmers could compete with Dooble’s vegetables, mostly because they were lazy or greedy, so they kicked Dooble and his family out of the Royal City. 

Then there was Sasha who loved dancing so much and made such a graceful dance partner that the young men of the kingdom would stand in line for hours just to dance one dance with Sasha.  This, of course, left the other girls without partners so the mothers of these girls had her outcast because they were afraid their daughters would never wed. 

But perhaps my most favorite outcast of all was Copper, the dog.  He was tall and sleek with dark, short, copper-colored fur.  He was born with one flame orange eye and one ice blue eye and for this he was almost killed at birth.  If it hadn’t been for Justly, a blind stable boy in the King's house, who begged the King’s Head Whelper to let him care for the pup, he would have surely been killed.  The Head Whelper, who liked Justly and didn’t much care for the culling of pups, let Justly take Copper on one condition: that he and the pup live in Outcast Forest.  So now it is that wherever Justly goes, Copper is, and the two are often seen walking hand to head with Copper leading the way.  For, as it turned out, Copper grew into the swiftest and keenest sight hound in all the land.

This is where I will leave you for now, with a handful of exceptionally fine characters just waiting for you to hear their stories.  I know.  I know.  It’s not fair.  I’ve hardly told you a thing; but then, these things take time, don’t they?  And as the Witch Hazel always says, "Curing only makes the ham more tasty!"

One...Now my story is done.
Two...I love you.
Three...Please kiss me!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Story Tip: For Posterity

Sometimes we get to laughing an awful lot during our story telling.  Other times a great story is created that we hope to remember for the future.  I have found myself wishing I could immediately capture these moments for posterity.  But alas!  The dishes or laundry or poopy mess in the bathroom calls and I don’t have time to write it all down.  Then the moment is gone.  It’s so sad!

Enter my smart phone.  I discovered it has a voice-recording app.  How cool is that!  So now all I have to do is turn it on while we play story games at dinner or when I tell my boys a bedtime tale.  So simple!  Of course if you don’t have a smart phone I don’t know what you could do.  Perhaps a good ol' fashioned tape player?


Friday, September 14, 2012

Story Game: Not A Box

Tonight during dinner try playing a game I invented called Not a Box.  (We do games during dinner because if we don’t somehow things go wrong and poop is always the topic of conversation. Blah!)

To Play: For demonstration purposes an adult starts by picking a simple object like a box, stick, blanket, bowl, toilet paper, (Maybe not that.  I see poop in the future.) or a pillow.  Then go around the table and have everyone tell what they could imagine the object being and what they would do with it.  When everyone has gone the youngest playing family member picks an object and play continues till all have had a turn picking the object.

I love this game because even the youngest players have great ideas.  In fact sometimes they are the best players!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Not A Box

It always amazes me how my boys can turn anything into a gun from a stick to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For the first 6 years of Thing One’s life we didn’t even have guns around the house.  I don’t even know when he first saw a gun but it apparently left an impression because one day guns entered his world of imagination.  This past Sunday we had a nice change up though.  The boys turned their marshmallow shooters into musical instruments during church.  I was so stoked!  (What were they doing with marshmallow shooters during church? Please don’t expect me to answer that.  When you have three Things to deal with sometimes you find yourself saying yes to some crazy stuff.)

My point in all of this is that a child’s imagination is very impressive.  Some how we loose all of that power as adults.  Thankfully having kids brings it back just a bit.

Not a Box  

The book Not A Box by Antoinette Portis is a brilliant demonstration of the simplicity of imagination.  It’s a beautiful book.  Or at least I think so. It’s simple drawings and colors invite and allow readers of all ages to imagine.  It’s not a box, it’s a rocket ship, a house, a stage.  It’s anything but a box!  I love it because I see my children in this book and I see the child I use to be. 

Check out Antoinette Portis’s  website



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Daily Dose of Peace and Grammar

Okay all you storytellers grab your iPod, iPad, smart phone, or whatever you use to read your blogs and head to the toilet.  Why the toilet? Because for me that is the only place I can find two minutes of peace and quiet, and sometimes not even then.  During that couple of minutes of peace I have found the perfect blog to fill my time.  I thought I'd pass it on to you just in case you need a little toilet time reading.