Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Cat with Eight Lives

This cat, since it was a Halloween decoration, was probably an odd Christmas gift to being with.  Probably, that is why Glimmer decided to steal into my craft room one evening and paint his lower half red.  After Glimmer's ministrations, this cat looked like he had been stabbed in the neck and was in immediate need of an ambulance.  When the adults in the house first saw Glimmer's alterations, we stood with our mouths open and a stunned look in our eyes.  Then we were hit by the humor of the situation.

My only regret is that we did not take a picture of him before Flash and I fixed him.  If you need any rewards for Glimmer, I recommend buying her paints and offering to let her paint at the end of the day.  I have never met such an enthusiastic painter.

Hermione promised to take good care of this cat since he has used up one of his lives and has only eight remaining.

Love to all,

Prairie Smoke

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Four Things Children Really Want for Christmas

1)  Relaxed time with the family

2) Realistic expectations about gifts

3)  An evely paced holiday season

4)  Strong family traditions

From Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock, William Morrow and Co. 1982

Wilbur's Christmas List

1)  More bullets for his nerf gun

2)  Ferrari

3)  Warm weather

4)  World Peace

NOW do you see why he is so hard to shop for???

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Orville Senior picture

When Orville was born, I got tired of hearing about how spoiled he was going to be as the only boy out of four girls. Few relatives or acquaintances could resist favoring us with this very unoriginal opinion.  After hearing this for the fortieth time, I remember turning to one of my aunts and saying, “We have every hope of turning him out creditably.”   I don’t know that our efforts produced Orville’s sterling character and personality.  I’m just glad he is the person he is, no matter how it came about.
About 18 months old

Front porch of Jefferson Hills house

Orville was anxious to get underway.  At 8 1/2 – months he took off walking.  Boys tend to talk a little later than girls, but I could see that Orville understood everything that was said and what was going on. 

During the summer after he was born, he became used to having an entertainment committee, comprised of his sisters, around.  For a couple of weeks after his sisters returned to school in the fall, he was very cranky about the lack of provision for his amusement.
Easter Sunday age 3

April 5, 1996 

Monopoly Man costume - Orville's idea

A guy has to be tough when he is the youngest of five by four years.  Orville figured out how to express his disapproval and gain the upper hand:  biting.  He was the child least likely to be intimidated.  When my other children would not come with me, I would tell them they could just stay there but I was leaving.  They would hurry and catch up with me. Not so Orville.  Around age three, he adamantly refused to come at the conclusion of Petunia’s basketball game.  I got in the car and drove away while he calmly watched me from inside the school fence.  I think he was glad I was taking his siblings away so he could play with his friends in peace.   Yes, I did go back for him.

Orville never cared a snap about playing with action figures, Legos, or cars.  He liked sports equipment.  If he couldn’t throw it, skate on it, run with it, ride it, catch it, or bat it, he wasn’t interested in it.  Once we had a man who had played baseball with the Chicago White Socks at our house chatting.  The man told us how so many parents think their children will be great athletes when actually the children don’t have the talent.  He started throwing a ball to six year old Orville to show us some of the ways he tested kids to show their ability.  After a few minutes of this, he turned to me and said, “Congratulations!  You have an athlete here.”  I already knew it.

Orville never found a sport he didn't like (well, maybe wrestling), but he specialized in soccer.  Since he didn't play in the “pay for play” league, he should not have been good enough to play first string in High School.  But he did.  Since he did not play on Sundays, the “pay for play” league shouldn't have wanted him to play on its premier team.  But it did. He should never have been eligible to compete for a berth at state tennis tournament because he only practiced during season.  But it happened.

More important than talent is character. Evidence of his quality character is that he accepted his father’s stipulation that he not play on Sunday, and he never acted like a jerk about it.

Besides sports, Orville discovered he loved music. He became first chair trumpet and played the piano.  Between his Junior and Senior year, he talked to me about music camps.  He thought it would be terrific to go Interlaken.  I told him that he should try out for that camp if that’s the one he wanted.  I had no idea the camp was eight weeks and cost several thousand dollars.  Being a seventeen year old guy, Orville never thought this information was worth mentioning.  I remember being dumbfounded when he was accepted to the camp and I discovered the details.  The camp was worth it, though.  Here Orville learned succeeding was less about talent and more about work. 
It was a good lesson to learn, and he has put it to use in many areas of his life: learning Korean, serving a mission, becoming an engineer.   

When a parent is pleased with his/her children, the parent never really knows this:   Did they develop into such great people because of me or in spite of me?  I don't know.  I do know my children were who they were before they were born.  I am just grateful for Orville and my four other great blessings.