Monday, April 30, 2012

$100 Giveaway: Stanley Steemer

When I first got notice about an opportunity to review Stanley Steemer, I thought "I only have 2 rooms of carpet left, and they will be ripped out shortly!"  When I looked more carefully, I found that Stanley Steemer also cleans tile floors -- and I definitely have those!

We have another busy summer planned, and I have planned to de-clutter so that the house is easier to keep up with.  Having my kitchen floor deep-cleaned by a professional is something that we have talked about for a few years now, so I'm excited to see the difference once they visit.

Stanley Steemer cleaned more than 200 tons of dirt last year!  One of the reasons we've gotten rid of most of the carpet in our house (with the last 2 rooms planned for the summer) is to combat allergies.  Having your carpets regularly cleaned also helps combat allergies by removing allergens from carpets -- especially in bedrooms.  And, even regular cleaning of tile floors can't always keep the grout looking clean.

Want to see Stanley Steemer in action? Check out the Stanley Steemer van and crew as they visited fellow blogger Corine Ingrassia’s home of Complicated Mama:


I will share before / after photos of my own cleaning in the next couple weeks, but before that, I wanted to share an awesome giveaway, thanks to Stanley Steemer and My Blog Spark.

**The winner has been chosen & notified!  Thanks for reading & watch for future giveaways!**

I have a $100 gift certificate to Stanley Steemer to help you with your spring cleaning this year!  As always, my giveaways are easy to enter.  All I ask is that you follow this link to go to my Giveaway Form, where you leave your information and answer one simple question.

Name of Giveaway: Stanley Steemer
Mandatory Question: What room will you spring clean first?

The giveaway will end on May 10, 2012.  Good Luck!!  And, don't forget to come back to see my Stanley Steemer visit!

You can visit Stanley Steemer's website, on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

And, while it's not a requirement, I would really appreciate it if you would "like" my blog's Facebook page.  I recently created it, and would love to have more readers there!  Thank you!

“Disclosure: The gift certificate, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Stanley Steemer through MyBlogSpark.”

Immortality by Lisel Mueller

Today is the last day of April, and the last day of National Poetry Month. I posted a poem each day this month, and had a wonderful time searching out new poems, new poets, and remembering poems I've loved.  There are so many more fantastic poems than the 30 I've posted this month.  I'm having a hard time deciding if I should post throughout the day today, or wait until next year again.  

If you've been reading along this month, I hope you've enjoyed the poems.  If you would like to see all the poems posted on this blog, click here

In Sleeping Beauty's castle
the clock strikes one hundred years
and the girl in the tower returns to the
So do the servants in the kitchen,
who don't even rub their eyes.
The cook's right hand, lifted
an exact century ago,
completes its downward arc
to the kitchen boy's left ear;
the boy's tensed vocal cords
finally let go
the trapped, enduring whimper,
and the fly, arrested mid-plunge
above the strawberry pie,
fulfills its abiding mission
and dives into the sweet, red glaze.
As a child I had a book
with a picture of that scene.
I was too young to notice
how fear persists, and how
the anger that causes fear persists,
that its trajectory can't be changed
or broken, only interrupted.
My attention was on the fly;
that this slight body
with its transparent wings
and lifespan of one human day
still craved its particular share
of sweetness, a century later.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

She is 5!

Quotes from this morning:

"Mom!  Look!  My feet have grown since when I was 4!"

"You can still call me 'baby.'  I'm pretty comfortable with that.  We know I'm bigger than a baby, but it's okay."

"My brothers really need to wake up so they can give me their presents!"

Lydia turns 5 today!  She has been counting down the days to her birthday for a long time, so she is thrilled that the day has finally arrived.

At 5 years old, she is still independent and spunky.  She has a mind of her own and isn't afraid to tell you what she thinks!  She has a fierce love for her brothers. Her hair is still long, although it seems to have reached that point of not growing much longer.  She is friendly, inquisitive, eager to learn and such a happy child!

This past year, she has played soccer, begun gymnastics lessons, had dance lessons, and is about to start horseback riding lessons.   She learned how to ride a 2 wheeler bike without training wheels.  We still haven't made a decision about where she'll spend kindergarten.

I worry since she doesn't have a built-in playmate, defender, cohort like her brothers (who are only 18 mths apart and still inseparable), but she seems to be just fine.  And, even though there are 5 & 6 years between them, her brothers are playmates, defenders and cohorts!  I just hope they always stay as close as they have been the last 5 years.

Click the break to take a look at her over the years!

Fairy Song by Louisa May Alcott

Another favorite children's author of mine, who also wrote poetry.   National Poetry Month is winding down . . . 
The moonlight fades from flower and rose
And the stars dim one by one;
The tale is told, the song is sung,
And the Fairy feast is done.
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
And sings to them, soft and low.
The early birds erelong will wake:
'T is time for the Elves to go.

O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass,
Unseen by mortal eye,
And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float
Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see,
And the flowers alone may know,
The feasts we hold, the tales we tell;
So't is time for the Elves to go.

From bird, and blossom, and bee,
We learn the lessons they teach;
And seek, by kindly deeds, to win
A loving friend in each.
And though unseen on earth we dwell,
Sweet voices whisper low,
And gentle hearts most joyously greet
The Elves where'er they go.

When next we meet in the Fairy dell,
May the silver moon's soft light
Shine then on faces gay as now,
And Elfin hearts as light.
Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky
With sunlight soon shall glow.
The morning star shall light us home:
Farewell! for the Elves must go.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

A sweet friend asked why I hadn't yet posted any Pablo Neruda poems during National Poetry Month, so I asked her which was her favorite. Here it is.
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Penguin Haiku by Colin Rogers

Colin took a field trip with his ELP class to San Diego and the LA area last weekend.  This week, he is off to Prescott for Science Camp with the rest of the 5th grade.  Last weekend, he was able to bring his phone, and he kept me updated with texts, pictures and phone calls while he was gone.  This week, he wasn't able to bring his phone, so I haven't heard from him at all.  I'm looking forward to picking him up this afternoon!

This haiku is one of the texts he sent after visiting Sea World.
Penguins, black and white
Swimming, waddling around
Moving up and down

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yesterday, I posted a poem by her husband.  Today, I post what is probably Elizabeth Barrett Browning's most known poem -- but that doesn't make it any less wonderful, does it?  

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, -- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Face by Robert Browning

In high school, I studied Robert Browning, as well as Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  Since I attended 4 different high schools (as a result of family moves), I studied these poets more than once.   They remain favorites of mine.
If one could have that little head of hers
Painted upon a background of pure gold,
Such as the Tuscan's early art prefers!
No shade encroaching on the matchless mould
Of those two lips, which should be opening soft
In the pure profile; not as when she laughs,
For that spoils all: but rather as if aloft
Yon hyacinth, she loves so, leaned its staff's
Burden of honey-colored buds to kiss
And capture 'twixt the lips apart for this.
Then her little neck, three fingers might surround,
How it should waver on the pale gold ground
Up to the fruit-shaped, perfect chin it lifts!
I know, Correggio loves to mass, in rifts
Of heaven, his angel faces, orb on orb
Breaking its outline, burning shades absorb:
But these are only massed there, I should think,
Waiting to see some wonder momently
Grow out, stand full, fade slow against the sky
(That's the pale ground you'd see this sweet face by),
All heaven, meanwhile, condensed into one eye
Which fears to lose the wonder, should it wink.

Wordless Wednesday - shoes

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Youth and Age by E.B. White

While everyone knows Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White, our favorite children's novel that he wrote is The Trumpet of the Swan.   Did you know he also wrote poetry?  The most popular one posted online is about a spider, but I thought this one was more interesting.  I'm sharing it for National Poetry Month.
This is what youth must figure out:
Girls, love, and living.
The having, the not having,
The spending and giving,
And the melancholy time of not knowing.
This is what age must learn about:
The ABC of dying.
The going, yet not going,
The loving and leaving,
And the unbearable knowing and knowing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

An Untitled Poem by Rachel McKibbens (aka "last love")

I thought this poem was interesting and touching and a bit intense at times; and wanted to share it.  Be forewarned, this poem has an adult theme (nothing especially risque, but not appropriate for the preteen & under crowd.)   

As a side note, I'm really glad I decided to blog a poem a day for National Poetry Month this year.  I've found some wonderful poets I didn't know about before, and re-discovered old favorites.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

You are tired (I think) by e.e. cummings

You are tired,
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!)
You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.
But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight,
And I knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart—
Open to me!
For I will show you places Nobody knows,
And, if you like,
The perfect places of Sleep.
Ah, come with me!
I’ll blow you that wonderful bubble, the moon,
That floats forever and a day;
I’ll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream,
Until I find the Only Flower,
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Limerick by Colin Rogers

Colin has enjoyed my daily poem posts, and he asked if I had to post only real poems.  I asked him what he meant, and he said -- "You know, could you post a limerick that I wrote?"  I said, "Of course!"  So, here it is:

There once was a boy named Red,
Who never got out of bed,
The sheets were coarse,
He wished he had the Force,
So he could get things while in bed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Magic words

Yesterday, we were with a group of kids and preschool-level teachers and the teacher said "What's the  magic word?" as she was getting ready to hand out marshmallows.

Lydia looked at her and said "Abracadabra??"

(And, yes, she knows how to say "please" and "thank you"  But, in our house, those are polite words, not magic words.  Just a pet peeve of mine.)

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

This is a poem that everybody has read in high school.  And, while I've been trying this month to post some lesser known poems, I couldn't let National Poetry Month go by without posting this classic by Robert Frost.  It's easy to take the well-worn path; the path that plenty of others have traveled before.  It's definitely harder to forge new paths, but I think that's what I've done (or at least tried to do) in my life.  This poem has always been an inspiration -- to reach out, to try, to be willing to experience something different and potentially fail.  I've loved this poem since I first read it as a child.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How To Be Alone by Andrea Dorfman

I think there's something very special in listening to a poet recite their own poem.  I think I posted this a couple years ago, but wanted to post it again for National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - argh

Speak Gently by David Bates

This poem is a lesson I need to learn lately . . .

Speak gently! -- It is better far
To rule by love, than fear --
Speak gently -- let not harsh words mar
The good we might do here!

Speak gently! -- Love doth whisper low
The vows that true hearts bind;
And gently Friendship's accents flow;
Affection's voice is kind.

Speak gently to the little child!
Its love be sure to gain;
Teach it in accents soft and mild: --
It may not long remain.

Speak gently to the young, for they
Will have enough to bear --
Pass through this life as best they may,
'T is full of anxious care!

Speak gently to the aged one,
Grieve not the care-worn heart;
The sands of life are nearly run,
Let such in peace depart!

Speak gently, kindly, to the poor;
Let no harsh tone be heard;
They have enough they must endure,
Without an unkind word!

Speak gently to the erring -- know,
They may have toiled in vain;
Perchance unkindness made them so;
Oh, win them back again!

Speak gently! -- He who gave his life
To bend man's stubborn will,
When elements were in fierce strife,
Said to them, 'Peace, be still.'

Speak gently! -- 't is a little thing
Dropped in the heart's deep well;
The good, the joy, which it may bring,
Eternity shall tell.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson

Colin has loved Robert Louis Stevenson for many years.  This is one of Colin's favorite poems, by one of his favorite authors.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all.
He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an errant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Source: The Golden Book of Poetry (1947)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Please Don't Read This Poem by Ken Nesbitt

This one is a favorite of Nate's!  I'm still posting a poem a day in honor of National Poetry Month! 

Please don't read this poem.
It's only meant for me.
That's it. Just move along now.
There's nothing here to see.

Besides, I'm sure you'd rather
just go outside and play.
So put the poem down now
and slowly back away.

Hey, why are you still reading?
That isn't very nice.
I've asked you once politely.
Don't make me ask you twice.

I'm telling you, it's private.
Do not read one more line.
Hey! That's one more. Now stop it.
This isn't yours; it's mine.

You're not allowed to read this.
You really have to stop.
If you don't quit this instant,
I swear I'll call a cop.

He'll drag you off in handcuffs.
He'll lock you up in jail,
and leave you there forever
until you're old and frail.

Your friends will all forget you.
You won't be even missed.
Your family, too, will likely
forget that you exist.

And all because you read this
instead of having fun.
It's too late now, amigo;
the poem's nearly done.

There's only one solution.
Here's what you'll have to do:
Tell all your friends and family
they shouldn't read it too.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Facebook Page

Are you on Facebook?  Billions of people are, so I'm sure you are as well.  For some reason, I resisted starting a Facebook page for this blog.

I found myself ignoring information from some PR firms, just because it didn't really fit the blog or because I didn't have time to write a full post.  One thing I realized is that if I set up a Facebook page, I could share more of the discounts, specials and information that I received from sources without necessarily writing a full post.

I also realized that Facebook is a great place to update people about my recent posts.  If you were my personal friend on Facebook, you would see the blog post links.  That, however, left out most of my readers!  So, I decided to transition posting links to recent posts to a dedicated Facebook page and off of my personal page.

I would appreciate it if you would hit "LIKE" over on Facebook for My Little Patch of Sunshine.   I promise not to fill your feed with tons of junk -- just links to posts as they go live and the things that I think would be useful or informative that don't make it to a full blog post.

Thanks for reading!!

Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats

Today is another suggestion by a dear friend. I can't believe I didn't have any by Yeats in the queue, so I was happy to add this one!

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Technique Restaurant Review

On Friday, Bo and I went out for lunch. I made the reservations almost 3 months ago -- so even though we were busy and had things going on, I wasn't going to cancel! It's important to make time one-on-one, so at the very least you can enjoy a conversation not interrupted by small children.

We have visited Technique before, so we knew what to expect. It's a restaurant staffed entirely by culinary students--both front of the house and back.  It's a course required for their degree, so they aren't paid for their work.  They are, however, graded on their performance.

Because of that, they limit the number of reservations pretty dramatically, especially at the beginning of rotations.

For lunch, you choose 3 courses (all ordered at the same time.)  For our first course, we ordered a caprese salad and a watermelon/arugula salad.  For our second course, Bo ordered short ribs, while I ordered salmon.  For the final course, Bo had cheesecake, while I savored pot de creme.

The food is delicious.  You are warned that the service may be slow, but that hasn't been our experience in our visits.

We haven't been for dinner yet, but dinner is 4 courses.  Not including drinks, lunch is $10 (yep!  All that gourmet cuisine for only $10) and dinner is $15.  They add a 15% gratuity to each bill, which goes directly to students' scholarship fund.  You are also asked to complete a short survey at the end of your meal, rating service and food.

It's a wonderful experience in downtown Scottsdale, and a wonderful deal as well. If you don't mind waiting for your visit, I would make a reservation right away!

Here are some pictures of our lunch:

*Disclosure: I wrote this review just because we really enjoyed lunch. No PR firm approached me, and we paid for it from our own pockets.*

The Viola Poem by Ralph Aldrich

My oldest plays the viola, and he has come to love the instrument.  In addition to school orchestra, he plays in 2 different groups through ASU, has private lessons and also plans to audition for the Phoenix Youth Symphony.

So, when I came across this poem, I knew it had to be included in my month-long celebration of the National Poetry Month.

This was originally printed in the CVS Newsletter Opus 1/1982.

A number of years ago a poet named Laurence McKinney wrote a little book called People of Note. (New York 1941). In it, McKinney wrote several poems giving his impressions in verse of the various orchestral instruments. McKinney's impression was not particularly flattering to the viola and Ralph Aldrich, poet laureate of the Canadian Viola Fraternity has wittily written the following reply:

Forgotten Man he might well be,
A jibe applied eternally.
But hark, the liberation call,
From C to A, once, and for all,
'Arise, O Resonance, Vibration,
Catalyst of orchestration.'
Fiddles' friend, Cellos' pal,
Saviour of Quartets' morale.
Who needs to envy First Violin,
When any Altist, with a grin,
Can change the course of history,
By altering the Harmony?
O, heed the call, Arise, and Shine,
And lay it on the ledger line,
That never was such rev'rence owed
Violists by all instruments bowed.
VIOLA, there's a mighty sound!
Behold Prometheus unbound!
Reject that 'head-cold' simile...
A Primrose brings no allergy.
Eat out thy heart, O Cello proud,
And Violin, go don thy shroud.
Pray Saint Cecilia's mercy mild
Forgive thy up and downbows wild,
For she in sacred restitution,
Bless'd VIOLA'S contribution,
Paying IT the compliment
Of genius' favoured instrument.
Mozart, Schubert, Dvorak, Britten,
All for orchestras have written.
Hear, O Man, and earth rejoice...
VIOLA played they all - BY CHOICE!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Disney on Ice 100 Years of Magic

Last night, we headed to the USAirways Center in Phoenix to watch Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic.

We love Disney, and we love these ice shows!  The skaters are amazing and we are entertained non-stop throughout the show.

The show started with Mickey & Minnie (of course!)  I love how sweet they always appear on stage.  I know it's a show - but they really are sweet to each other, and it makes me grin when they hold hands.  They do an awesome job of making you feel the gentle romance between them.

Not only are all of the skaters amazingly athletic and talented, but the costumes blow me away!   One of the popular numbers of the evening was the Aladdin / Genie number.  At one point, Aladdin and the Genie did simultaneous backflips!  That was Nate's favorite part of the show.

The costume designers successfully take animated characters and create costumes that capture that animated character into something that a skater can wear on the ice.  For instance, check out the sharks from the Finding Nemo number!

Aren't they amazing? I thought it was extremely clever to have the smaller shark's fin be the skater's head.

The Toy Story number was another favorite.  The toy soldiers routine  was high energy, funny, and flawlessly executed.  The soldiers are one of my favorites, and Lydia loved the song "You've Got A Friend in Me" for Woody & Buzz's number.

I didn't get any good shots of the princesses, but they were beautiful and amazing as well. Lydia liked that so many princesses appeared during the show (although she did miss Aurora and Rapunzel.)

It's so hard to choose a favorite number, so I encourage you to see the show yourself and be blown away!

The show is in Phoenix through this weekend (Apr 12-15, 2012) and discounted tickets are still available.  (Email me for the flyer to use at the box office, or use the code NALA on

Colin & Lydia were happy to give a video review of the show!  Check it out right here:

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.*

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

I asked friends on Facebook to share their favorite poets/poems, and a dear friend suggested this one by Mary Oliver.  I don't know if I have ever read any of her work before, but I am so glad to have found it now!  

Continuing on for National Poetry Month -- enjoy!

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tell Me Thursday -- Sunflowers

If all goes well (meaning I remember to water), this round area will be full of sunflowers in a month.

I love sunflowers. Colin chose two different varieties so we should have huge yellow ones and smaller orange ones.  Lydia and I planted the large flowers in the center, surrounded by the smaller, orange ones around the perimeter.

When I mentioned the seeds were planted on Facebook, my brother (who was in the Army National Guard) shared this neat story --
Sgt M would always carry around a packet of sunflower seeds, and whenever we'd stop for something... refuel, location we were setting up camp, etc, he'd walk over a few feet and plant a few. So, people in WI, from Milwaukee to Ft. McCoy, the random sunflowers that may pop up on the side of the road... it's his fault. LOL
Isn't that a great story?  

Have you planted anything yet this spring?  

LIfe Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou

Another poem read by the author for National Poetry Month -- "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" by Maya Angelou

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday -- Sunflowers

April Rain Song by Langston Hughes

In honor of National Poetry Month, here's a short one by Langston Hughes.
Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Field trip

Tomorrow this boy and I are going on a field trip. A charter bus is taking us a couple hours away for the day, along with a bunch of other kids.

I miss homeschooling and taking field trips with my kids on a regular basis, so I'm really glad I was able to go along.

I asked him tonight if he would sit next to me on the bus, and he turned to look at me and said "yes". Like "duh, mom, of course I'll sit with you!"

I truly love spending time with my kids, and apparently they still like it, too.

Space is My Mistress by Don Pettit

In honor of National Poetry Month, today's poem is by Don Pettit.  He is an astronaut, a scientist, and a poet.  He's living on the Space Station right now. Check the link at the end to read more about him!

Space is My Mistress

Space is my Mistress,
and she beckons my return.
Since our departure I think of you
and yearn to fly across the heavens arm in arm.
I marvel at your figure,
defined by the edges of continents.
You gaze at me with turquoise eyes,
perhaps mistaken for ocean atolls.
You tease me to fall into your bosom,
sculptured by tectonic rifts,
only to move away as if playing some tantalizing game.
Time and time we turn together,
through day, and night, and day,
repeating encounters every 90 minutes with a freshness,
as if we have never seen our faces before.
We stroll outside together,
enveloped by naked cosmos,
filled with desire to be one.
So close,
you sense my every breath,
which masks your stare through visor haze.
We dance on the swirls of cloud tops,
while skirting the islands of blue.
You know my heart beats fast for you.
Oh, Space is my mistress,
and when our orbits coincide,
we will once again make streaks of aurora across the sky.


Monday, April 09, 2012

The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy

My dad had a book of Thomas Hardy's poems, and I remember reading it (and not really understanding it) when I was a child.  Just because of that, I have a special fondness for him now as an adult.  

Continuing this month of poetry with another poem today!
The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy

"O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?
O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.

"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"
"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.

"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,'
And 'thik oon,' and 'theäs oon,' and 't'other'; but now
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"
"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.

"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"
"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.

"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"
"True. One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.

"I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"
"My dear -- a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain't ruined," said she.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Communion by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast:
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips,
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu's; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,

God shall o'er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Late Wisconsin Spring by John Koethe

Snow melts into the earth and a gentle breeze
Loosens the damp gum wrappers, the stale leaves
Left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass.
The sky shakes itself out. And the invisible birds
Winter put away somewhere return, the air relaxes,
People start to circulate again in twos and threes.
The dominant feelings are the blue sky, and the year.
—Memories of other seasons and the billowing wind;
The light gradually altering from difficult to clear
As a page melts and a photograph develops in the backyard.
When some men came to tear down the garage across the way
The light was still clear, but the salt intoxication
Was already dissipating into the atmosphere of constant day
April brings, between the isolation and the flowers.
Now the clouds are lighter, the branches are frosted green,
And suddenly the season that had seemed so tentative before
Becomes immediate, so clear the heart breaks and the vibrant
Air is laced with crystal wires leading back from hell.
Only the distraction, and the exaggerated sense of care
Here at the heart of spring—all year long these feelings
Alternately wither and bloom, while a dense abstraction
Hides them. But now the mental dance of solitude resumes,
And life seems smaller, placed against the background
Of this story with the empty, moral quality of an expansive
Gesture made up out of trees and clouds and air.

The loneliness comes and goes, but the blue holds,
Permeating the early leaves that flutter in the sunlight
As the air dances up and down the street. Some kids yell.
A white dog rolls over on the grass and barks once. And
Although the incidents vary and the principal figures change,
Once established, the essential tone and character of a season
Stays inwardly the same day after day, like a person’s.
The clouds are frantic. Shadows sweep across the lawn
And up the side of the house. A dappled sky, a mild blue
Watercolor light that floats the tense particulars away
As the distraction starts. Spring here is at first so wary,
And then so spare that even the birds act like strangers,
Trying out the strange air with a hesitant chirp or two,
And then subsiding. But the season intensifies by degrees,
Imperceptibly, while the colors deepen out of memory,
The flowers bloom and the thick leaves gleam in the sunlight
Of another city, in a past which has almost faded into heaven.
And even though memory always gives back so much more of
What was there than the mind initially thought it could hold,
Where will the separation and the ache between the isolated
Moments go when summer comes and turns this all into a garden?
Spring here is too subdued: the air is clear with anticipation,
But its real strength lies in the quiet tension of isolation
And living patiently, without atonement or regret,
In the eternity of the plain moments, the nest of care
—Until suddenly, all alone, the mind is lifted upward into
Light and air and the nothingness of the sky,
Held there in that vacant, circumstantial blue until,
In the vehemence of a landscape where all the colors disappear,
The quiet absolution of the spirit quickens into fact,
And then, into death. But the wind is cool.
The buds are starting to open on the trees.
Somewhere up in the sky an airplane drones.

John Koethe, “The Late Wisconsin Spring” from North Point North: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002

Friday, April 06, 2012

That's Not My Backyard . . .

Have you ever read those Usborne books titled "That's Not My . . . "? All my kids loved those books, and today looking at my backyard felt like one of those books.

10 years ago, Bo built a play structure that all the kids have played on ever since. It was an awesome place in our backyard, but over time, it began to get overly worn and much of the wood needed replacing. Bo had talked about re-building parts of it, but when we found a fantastic deal on a brand new set, we knew that was the right choice.

 The new set arrived in 5 boxes last week, and someone we knew was interested in taking our old one and fixing it up for their young son. So, today . . . our backyard began to look different.

 For 10 years, we looked out onto the large play structure. Today, there is nothing left but the sand pit. In the next month or so, we'll have an even larger play structure to take its place.

 It was a little bittersweet, but we know the kids will love the new structure and are confident they'll get plenty of play out of it.

Moshi Monsters Bobble Bots Review

It's neat to be known as the neighborhood mom who gets all the cool toys to check out.  This time, we received a box of Moshi Monsters Bobble Bots and Bobble Bots play sets  to try out and share with our friends.  Many thanks to MomSelect and Moshi Monsters for letting us get an early look at these fun toys!

Colin compared them to Hexbugs -- because they move around randomly -- but they aren't as creepy as bugs. They're small, cute pegs with various colors and faces that wiggle around.

We opened up 3 of the stores and the kids thought it was neat that they could be all hooked together.  A border around the edges ensured that the Bobble Bots stayed on the street, and they wiggled in and out of the Ice-Scream! Store Playset, Gross-ery Store Playset and the Bizarre Bazaar Store Playset. I liked that each of the playsets included a Bobble Bot.

The kids just thought they were funny, and had a good time watching them and rearranging the accessories that came in the playsets.   I think they'd make cute Easter Basket toys.  I know the moms that were over liked them better than the Hexbugs, but the older boys preferred Hexbugs (mainly because of the gross-out feature).  The  younger kids definitely had fun and did a lot of free play with the small bots.

There is also an online component that is included with each toy.  My kids don't spend that much time online, so they haven't checked that out yet.  The sets all have codes that unlock content at

As you'll hear in the video made by Colin and Lydia - the only downside is that they are a bit noisy.  Overall, all the kids that played gave these toys a "thumbs-up!"

You can find these toys at major retailers, as well as

*Disclosure:  I received a variety of toys from MomSelect and Innovations First Labs to share with other families through a toy party and provide a review.  No additional compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are my own and my kids'. *

My Favorite Foreign Language by David Kirby

My Favorite Foreign Language

"What's your favorite foreign language?" asks the cabbie,
and when I ask why, he says he knows "butterfly"
in 241 of them, so I say, "Okay, French!" and he says,

"Papillon!" and I say, "German!" and he says, "Schmetterling!"
and I'm running out of languages I know, so I say,
"Uh, Wolof!" because I'm reading a short story

where a woman speaks Wolof, and he says something in Wolof,
and the professor-y part of me wants
to say, You shouldn't call them foreign languages, you know,

because that means there's only one real language, but
I'd be saying that to him in our common
tongue, so it really wouldn't make sense unless I were chiding

him in, say, Wolof, a language in which he knows only
one word and I none. What's the best country?
Heaven, probably: as everyone knows, the cooks are French,

the mechanics German, the police English, lovers Italian,
and it's all organized by the Swiss, whereas
in Hell, the cooks are English, mechanics French, police

Germans, lovers Swiss, and everything is organized by the Italians,
which leaves out the Spanish,
though perhaps not, for the ancients say a man should speak

French to his friends because of its vivacity,
Italian to his mistress for its sweetness,
German to his enemies because it is forceful, and Spanish

to his God, for it is the most majestic of languages.
Hola, Señor! Okay if I put my suitcase
over here? Thank you for having me! Yes, I would

like to hear what they're saying in the other place, like "Dictators
over here" and "Corporate polluters
in this area" and "Aw, come on—another boring poet?"

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Tell Me Thursday - 7 years ago

Yesterday's picture was of my 2 boys -- 7 years ago.  Only 18 months apart, they have been buddies since Nate's birth.

When they were this small, I really couldn't imagine them at 9 & 11.  And, now that they're 9 & 11, I'm having a hard time remembering them this small.

Toddlers were easy.  I know we're in for a ride the next 10 years. Things have been rocky the last few days here, so I thought a picture of my sweet, lovable boys was just what I needed to see yesterday.  Today, I'm back to the disciplinarian.

The Unfortunate Traveler by Billy Collins

Continuing on the theme of a poem a day for National Poetry Month!

Sometimes, the most amazing part of poetry is hearing it aloud.  This is a recording of Billy Collins (former US Poet Laureate) reading his poem, "The Unfortunate Traveler."

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Disney on Ice Discount for Phoenix in April

A couple weeks ago, I shared the great discount code for the Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic show playing next week at the Phoenix US Airways Center.  (4 tickets for $44 with the code NALA at

The code is good for Friday, April 13th at the 10:30am and 7:30pm shows, Saturday, April 14th  at the 7:30pm show, and Sunday, April 15th at the 1:30pm and 5:30pm shows. (excluding Front Row and VIP seating). A minimum of 4 tickets is required; additional tickets can be purchased at $11 each. No double discounts. Service charges, handling and facility fees may apply.

If you can't get the code to work at Ticketmaster, or if you would like to purchase your tickets directly from the box office, I have a flyer I can send you with the discount information.  Please email me at and I'll email the flyer back to you ASAP.

We are really looking forward to enjoying the show next week, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.*

Wordless Wednesday - 7 years ago

Faults by Sara Teasdale

They came to tell your faults to me,
They named them over one by one;
I laughed aloud when they were done,
I knew them all so well before,—
Oh, they were blind, too blind to see
Your faults had made me love you more.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Messy Room by Shel Silverstein

This poem is especially for my children . . . and, well, okay even me some days!

Messy Room by Shel Silverstein
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!

Monday, April 02, 2012

International Children's Book Day

Today is International Children's Book Day.  The only way to celebrate is to share some favorite children's books!

I can remember lining up my collection of Little Golden Books when I was a kid, and playing library. I especially loved anything illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

I loved reading Mr. Pudgins to my younger sister & brother.  Unfortunately, it is out of print.

I read aloud to the kids quite a bit.  (Ok, I used to read more when the boys were younger - but I still try to make it a regular part of our week.)  Over the years, some of our favorites have been:

Little House series
The Borrowers series
The The Indian in the Cupboard series

hmmm, and I wonder why Colin likes reading series so much?

We're currently reading the The Chronicles of Narnia -- just started Prince Caspian.

Nate just told me his favorite kids' book is Caps for Sale.

Colin named a few more series, but then came up with the Curious George books. He loved listening to those books over and over again!

And Lydia is currently loving anything with Kipper the Dog.

I'm sure as soon as I hit post, I will remember more and so will the kids.  OH!  Can't forget 17 Kings And 42 Elephants.  And Hug!  And Hush! A Thai Lullaby.  And . . . well . . . I could probably be here all night if I don't stop and just post.

What are some of your favorites?

Myself and Mine. by Walt Whitman

In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm trying to post a poem a day. Enjoy!

Myself and Mine. by Walt Whitman
MYSELF and mine gymnastic ever,
To stand the cold or heat—to take good aim with a gun—to sail a boat—to
horses—to beget superb children,
To speak readily and clearly—to feel at home among common people,
And to hold our own in terrible positions, on land and sea.

Not for an embroiderer;
(There will always be plenty of embroiderers—I welcome them also;)
But for the fibre of things, and for inherent men and women.

Not to chisel ornaments,
But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of plenteous Supreme Gods, that The
may realize them, walking and talking.

Let me have my own way;
Let others promulge the laws—I will make no account of the laws;
Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace—I hold up agitation and conflict;
I praise no eminent man—I rebuke to his face the one that was thought most worthy.

(Who are you? you mean devil! And what are you secretly guilty of, all your life?
Will you turn aside all your life? Will you grub and chatter all your life?)

(And who are you—blabbing by rote, years, pages, languages, reminiscences,
Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak a single word?)

Let others finish specimens—I never finish specimens;
I shower them by exhaustless laws, as Nature does, fresh and modern continually.

I give nothing as duties;
What others give as duties, I give as living impulses;
(Shall I give the heart’s action as a duty?)

Let others dispose of questions—I dispose of nothing—I arouse unanswerable

Who are they I see and touch, and what about them?
What about these likes of myself, that draw me so close by tender directions and

I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my friends, but listen to my
enemies—as I
myself do;
I charge you, too, forever, reject those who would expound me—for I cannot expound

I charge that there be no theory or school founded out of me;
I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.

After me, vista!
O, I see life is not short, but immeasurably long;
I henceforth tread the world, chaste, temperate, an early riser, a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries—and still of centuries.

I will follow up these continual lessons of the air, water, earth;
I perceive I have no time to lose.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Planetarium by Adrienne Rich

April is National Poetry Month.  I think poetry is too often ignored, so this month I want to do my part.  I plan to post a poem a day.  No special theme -- just poems that speak to me somehow.

For the first day of April, I chose Planetarium by Adrienne Rich.  She is an amazing poet who recently died of complications of rheumatoid arthritis.

Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750—1848)
astronomer, sister of William; and others.
A woman in the shape of a monster   
a monster in the shape of a woman   
the skies are full of them

a woman      ‘in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments   
or measuring the ground with poles’

in her 98 years to discover   
8 comets

she whom the moon ruled   
like us
levitating into the night sky   
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness   
ribs chilled   
in those spaces    of the mind

An eye,

          ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
          from the mad webs of Uranusborg

                                                            encountering the NOVA   

every impulse of light exploding

from the core
as life flies out of us

             Tycho whispering at last
             ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’

What we see, we see   
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain   
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse   
pouring in from Taurus

         I am bombarded yet         I stand

I have been standing all my life in the   
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most   
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15   
years to travel through me       And has   
taken      I am an instrument in the shape   
of a woman trying to translate pulsations   
into images    for the relief of the body   
and the reconstruction of the mind.
Source: The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2002)
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