I grew up a “city girl” with strong country roots. My maternal grandparents lived far away from the city lights. My grandfather chose farming as his vocation. His acres and acres were home to pigs, chickens, horses, cattle and a garden filled with any fresh vegetable to tickle your palette, as well as many orchard fruits. There were ponds for fishing and deep woods by the river for hunting. Every autumn, the decades old Pecan Tree peppered down delicious nuts (more than your back could stand to gather).
I have such rich memories of time spent on the farm. Life was much simpler then. I miss the aroma of freshly tilled soil, the night sky dotted with twinkling stars closer/brighter and seemingly endless. The solitude, magnificent beauty – well, let’s just say it fills you with a wonder you never forget.
Well, “spring has sprung” here in the Deep South. The birds provide a symphony for the ears and all blooming things a feast for the eyes. We sprang forward with Daylight Saving Time and right into Spring Break in Mississippi. I heard laughter, balls bouncing, shouts of glee as the kids were at play and activities of all kinds on campus. The week seemed to be enjoyed by everyone and the weather could not have been more beautiful. With such amazing blue skies, I imagine the children even had time for some day- dreaming.
Well, for all you football fans out there – I don’t even have to remind you that we are quickly marching toward the Super Bowl. As you know, this is a “professional bowl game” celebrated in many ways by people all across America (and in other parts of the world.) But over the holidays, whether I watched a snippet of one of the MANY bowl games or not (in college football,) I heard about them. Upon hearing the name of one of those bowls, I replied, “I have never heard of that bowl!” Out of curiosity, I did a quick count of the 2012-13 bowl games I could find. They totaled 35 (with at least one proposed new bowl for 2013-14 season.) And, since football bowl games seem to multiply by 10 each year, it set me to thinking. Why not consider a “Sunnybrook Children’s Home Football Bowl Game?” What do you think? I suspect some of you have already thought about a bowl game you would like to name for the 2013-14 season. We might as well, huh? Oh, My! - I digress.
Have you seen twinkling lights shining through windows all about town? Maybe you are like me and have already seen reruns of your favorite Christmas movies along with new releases. Do you have a wrapping station complete with scraps of special paper you hope somehow to use? Possibly, you too, decided to have a “destressorized (I don’t think this is even a word but you know what I mean) zone” with an adage hanging or something to give comic relief to others when the hustle-bustle gets to be too much. Allow me to share what hangs on the door knob in my office, “Don’t get your TINSEL in a TANGLE.”
When asked how to cook a turkey, our children happily shared their recipes. Enjoy!
Get a 5-pound turkey and put flour all over it. Stick something in there to make chicken. Then, add some butter, sea salt, sugar and pepper. Pour Olive Oil on the top and milk over the oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 100 seconds. Take out of oven and put in refrigerator to cool. After it cools, take it out and eat. -------Girl, Age 9
Buy a 9-pound turkey. Feed the turkey some turkey food. -------Girl, Age 5
Catch the turkey. Bring the turkey home. Stick it. Cook at 800 degrees for 8 minutes and eat. ------- Boy, Age 6
You need an 8-pound turkey. Put it in the oven at 600 degrees for 7 minutes. It’s ready to eat. -------Boy Age 6
Get a 10-pound turkey and cook it for 6 minutes at 300 degrees. -------Boy, Age 7
Get a 98-pound turkey. Take the thing out of it. Put in the oven. Leave it there 1 hour. Take it out and let it cool off. -------Boy, Age 8
Have a 188-pound turkey. Take paper off. Put on some barbecue. Put in the oven. Bake at 199 degrees for 470 minutes. Take it out and cook the rest of the food. When it’s all ready put the turkey on the table and eat it. -------Boy, Age 7
From our Sunnybrook Family to each of you and your families, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving filled with many memory-making moments.
Remember – whether it shines brightly or spills rain; luminous or liquid – it is still sunshine, IF you choose to live life on the sunny side. Until later, same site – different day, sow seeds of sunshine!
As Art Linkletter said, “Kids say the darndest things.” Mr. Linkletter was well acquainted with loss, change, challenge and tragedy. But he chose to view life through the filter of optimism. His choice gave the world the gift of laughter and wisdom as he asked children questions and listened carefully to their answers.
Mr. Linkletter was the son of an unwed mother who put him up for adoption. Some of our kids go down the adoption path but only after they have endured lives of abuse and/or neglect. Sunnybrook seeks to be a haven through which they can be cared for with love and learn a “new normal” that will prayerfully be life-changing for them.
Children, like adults, are greatly influenced by their experiences. The special lenses through which they view the world make them keen observers on a wide range of topics. Like the kids Mr. Linkletter introduced to the world, our kids express definitive points of view. Whether it is profound, comical, enlightening or informative depends on the child, the question, the day, the past, etc.
I thought you might enjoy hearing from our kids as they gave advice on love and marriage. I have many quotes and will only share a few. But from time to time, I’ll give you a window into our Sunnybrook Kids On (topic of the day). Enjoy!
I have discovered that “school colors” can indeed mean different things depending on the grade of the young person. When I hear the words “school colors,” I instantly think of a well-known duo for my school and college (which happen to be the same) – blue and gold! I never entertained any other colors in the classroom.
But, elementary students today have a rainbow of colors to remember and the meanings associated with each of those colors. Of course, I am relaying to you what I learned from our precious kids here at Sunnybrook. I was wide-eyed with wonder as I listened to them explain their “school colors.” While this may not be true in other areas of the state or around the country, the kids here are on top of the situation and prayerfully, will always be color-coordinated (in a good way).
Did you happen to see the pictures taken in Chile of Amanda, a German Shepherd mix, rescuing her 10-day old puppies from a raging house fire? Amanda battled the flames five times carrying her babies one by one to safety. Her place of choice, to deposit her beloved babies, was none other than one of the fire trucks sent to fight the fire. She carefully placed each one and tucked them snugly inside a stainless steel side pocket on the fire truck. Amanda then jumped into the bin and surrounded the little ones with her love, comfort and care. The furry family was taken to a veterinarian who reported that Amanda stayed with Amparo who was severely burned and sadly, succumbed to the injuries. Amanda and her other puppies received attention, as well as her owner who was hospitalized.
I don’t know about you, but I am always captivated seeing images of animals protecting their young. Recently, I was talking with a few of our children and the subject of dogs and their puppies were mentioned by one of our boys. At some point in his young life, he had experienced a mama dog snap at him as he walked near her puppies. The cottage mom quickly explained to all the kids how animals fiercely protect their young. The lad dropped his head and barely audible said, “Humans don’t do too good at it.”
I hope you have been enjoying the Olympic Games as much as I have. While the competition in the different sport disciplines is exciting to watch, the courage of the human spirit is what touches my heart. There are many memorable moments captured in time, but certainly in my view, Tanzanian runner, John Stephen Akhwari, from the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, would be among a top 25 listing of “Incredible Olympic Moments.”
This marathon runner experienced cramps because of the altitude and endured 2 painful injuries in the middle of the race from an unfortunate spill, as runners jockeyed for position. But Akhwari continued to run. Even though all the other competitors had crossed the finish line, Akhwari pressed on putting one foot in front of the other over and over again. The race began in the light of day with 75 Olympians. Eighteen never finished. The race officially ended after nightfall, with a lone, battered runner who was staying the course against impossible odds. Almost dragging the wounded leg, he continued to walk toward the stadium. Upon entering the stadium, with only pockets of spectators still in the stands, he quickened his pace. The finish line was now in sight. He slowly and gingerly ran past sprinkles of people to his right who watched in utter amazement. There would be no thunderous roar of shouts and applause, but it did not matter. He was about to complete his Olympic race. After crossing the “victory” line with a body that did not fail him and a determination possessed by so few, he was asked why he never quit. He replied, “My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race.”
My childhood was blessed with “carefree” summer days and lots of fun. Imagination provided hours and hours of wonderful entertainment. Milk cartons offered the perfect material for boats to float and race in the creek. The small front porch of our home could magically be turned into a house and my dolls took on the role of children. I swept my floors, received guests and went to my best friend’s “house” (her porch) to visit. I can remember sitting often in a bed of bright green clover looking carefully for a four-leafed clover. There was exploration, discovery and games to punctuate each day. Merging life’s many possibilities with your imagination took you wherever you wanted to go in your young life. As you have surmised, I did not have all the fingertip technology that kids have today. But all those rich memories from yesteryear are etched in my mind’s eye.
Faithfulness is a word you don’t hear very often anymore. I know you, like me, are always thankful when you see it in action. It is refreshing, isn’t it?
Each month our kids have a character trait they are given to learn about and put into action in their own lives. The month of June was “faithfulness.” As you know, explaining the meaning can be done by reading the definition which might be a great way to start. Of course, the children, just like us, learn by consistent examples of character lived out each day. This is by far the most effective and powerful way to teach them.
Two adult daughters, Brittany and Charle, sat around the Sunday family dinner table and remarked in agreement, “We need to get in shape!” From this, the question became, “How do we do this with purpose where others can benefit from our endeavor?”
The sisters were from a mission-minded family. Their mother, Angie, had recently returned from Africa where she spent time in an orphanage ministering to the children and their leaders. She not only shared her missionary experience with family members, but immediately plugged in locally as a volunteer with Sunnybrook Children’s Home upon her return to the States. Angie told her daughters there were many organizations that could benefit from whatever activity they selected.