Friday, September 21

Thinking of the Cherry Tree

I am barely holding it together myself.

She has walked into my office, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her nose is crimson and her cheeks flushed with emotion. She flops into the chair beside my desk and waits until I hang up the telephone. I turn to her in query and the emotion breaks loose. Her thin shoulders heaving, the echo of sniffles resounding, I beckon for her to join me in my swivel chair and I pull this lanky 11 1/2 year old onto my lap. We sway from side to side as I gently coax answers from my overwrought pre-teen girl. Her words, choked through belly wracked sobs, lay out the tale from start to finish.

It's not an emergency--just a moment.

A moment with her teacher applying too much pressure and her peers too little understanding.

It is not the first moment like this in her life and it will not be the last.

It is as if suddenly being a middle schooler takes on a fully new meaning for her. Now it's not only about having a hallway locker, a new teacher for each subject, and a steady load of homework; it is about growing up.
And coming to terms.
And learning to cope.
More than anything, it's about learning to roll.

With my arms wrapped around her neck and my lips pressed against her ear, I whisper my encouragement.

I tell her that I believe in her.
I tell her she is strong and capable.
I tell her that I love her.

I wish I could tell her that growing up is going to be a breeze.

But I can't lie.

Wednesday, September 19

Monday, September 17

Hold That Thought

...I'll be back.

I promise.

Thursday, September 13

Sink Your Teeth Into It

You remember my shadow? Here is another simply-must-be-shared moment with Maia. As told to me by her Mom.

"Mum, I want to bite my teachers."

"What darling? You want to bite your teachers? Whatever do you mean?"

"You know, I want to bite them over to my house."

"Oh, you want to invite them to our house! Well, that sounds lovely."

"Yes, I want to bite them over. My class teacher and my Dutch teacher and that one teacher with the perfect nose."

Wednesday, September 12

Tuesday, September 11

Cause for Celebration

This one doesn't need much in the way of introduction, so by all means, press play and enjoy.

Possibly the only translation needed, the sign at the end reads: In case of a shoplifter we ALMOST always will report this to the police.

The Middle Road

When I was young, I longed for a middle name.
My parents didn't award one to the girls in our family at my Mom's insistence that once married we would never use a middle name again (she didn't) so I was middle nameless for the first 23 years of my life. Of course, not having a real middle name didn't stop me from making up one of my own. In bold childhood scrawl you can read it on all my first grade papers:

Jennifer Jane.

My brothers still tease me relentlessly about it, but I thought it had a lovely ring.

Once married, I did indeed move my maiden name to the middle slot and for the first time was the proud owner of a middle name. It appears on my drivers license as well as my passport. I sign legal documents with that name smack in the middle between my first and last. Though certainly it doesn't carry the same ring as my self imposed JENNIFER JANE, it does carry the legacy of who I am and so it will do.

For the past 18 years I have been proudly identified as Jennifer Gwilliam Taylor. No worries, no questions, no problems.

And then I got a job in The Netherlands.

As best as I understand it here, all work documentation for a married woman needs to be done with her maiden name as the identifier. Suddenly at my intake with the HR department I became Jennifer Taylor-Gwilliam.

Fine. No worries, no problem.


That's not how my identification reads and for whatever reason, or set of reasons, it took positively FOREVER for those working on my file and/or writing my contract for the school year to get their minds around the fact that what LOOKS like my middle name is indeed my maiden name.

Yes, hi Jenn. I just have another question about your maiden name.

Sure. okay.

Yes, my question is what is your maiden name? I see we have here written that it is G-W-I-L-L-I-A-M but on your passport that name is your middle name.

Right. In the states, as is custom, when I married, my maiden name became my middle name.

Yes, all right. So your middle name is your maiden name?

Yes. That's exactly right.

So you don't have another middle name?

No, I have no other middle name.

Just your maiden name?

Right. My maiden name is my middle name.

Yes, okay, I think I understand.

Before you think to yourself that a single conversation sorted this controversy I am going to ask you to think again. And then think again. Right after you are finished thinking, please commiserate with me over the fact that I have had this conversation or some version of it no less that 7 times in the last two weeks.

A middle name is proving to be the bane of my existence.

I really should have stuck with Jane.

AND NOW, with that exceptionally long introduction I am going to play a tag given to me by both Gunfighter and Songbird. I don't really know the rules and even if I did I am bound to not follow them. If you really want the details I am sure you can scout it out for yourself. But as I remember, I am supposed to define my middle name by identifying something about myself with each letter.

G--Grateful. The gratitude list in my life is endless. I am exceptionally grateful for my family, immediate and extended, and for my friends.

. As in unbelievably stubborn. But only when it comes to personal expectations and goals. In all other things I am a great team player.

. And occasionally creative.

. Even to spiders and other creepy-crawlers. I will carefully scoop them up and carry them tenderly to a new place to make a better home for themselves than say, spinning a web on my bike handlebars or living inside my shoe.

. Lucky, lucky me.

. By my friendships; my relationships; and the beauties of the earth.

. To people, to sentiment, and to truth.

M--Mixed up
and a little confused. But that's what keeps me interesting, right?

You want to play? Then, tag! You're it!

Thursday, September 6

Wednesday, September 5

Tuesday, September 4

Let Them Roll

It's that time again! Thanks to Momma K and Lindsay who developed and host it each and every month, we have once again arrived at PERFECT POST day.

Perfect Post Award for August 2007

It is my pleasure to present this award to Whiskeymarie at Never what you think it should be... for her post My Inner Esther. When I read this, I laughed until the tears flowed. Go read it and see if the same thing happens to you.

Congratulations WM! There are always good things happening at your place.


The good things happening at my place look a little like this:
Jams O'Donnell of The Poor Mouth shared a little award with Allison and me. He feels our new photos only site--Looking Into--deserves the Creative Blogger award.

Isn't that cool?

Jams is a cool cat out of the U.K. I meet him often on Wordless Wednesdays and enjoy his photography immensely. This award means a lot coming from the likes of him.
Cheers Jams and thank you so much.

(If you haven't been to the new site yet, I'll make it easy for you. Just
click here to visit.)

Now, last things last, there is one more place I want to send you. Scribbit has been talking about me and if you are interested to see what she has to say, you can pop over to her blog and read this. If you don't want to go, you don't have to. However, if you don't click over, you'll miss the picture.

But whatever, do what you want....

It's all good.

Monday, September 3

A Matter of Taste

From a conversation with 5-year-old Maia, my new friend (and shadow) at the ISH.

"Maia, I have to go down to the storage area right now, do you want to walk with me?"

"Oh, yes!"

"C'mon then. Can you carry this?"


*walk, walk, walk, walk...

"You know, Maia, I sure like your red hair. It's beautiful."

"I don't grow red hair! I only grow brown."

"Hmmm. Well, it sure looks strawberry to me."

*Maia pulls a lock of hair forward to look closely at the color then touches the strand to her mouth.

"No, it's mostly chocolate."