My Sonshine is FIVE!

I Am 5

I Am 5

To my Sonshine:

Did you really turn five yesterday? Yes, it is true. I tell you daily that I get a phone call from Jesus and he tells me that you have to stop growing at four years old and just stay my four-year old forever. You laugh every time, like it’s the first time that you have heard me say that and you always say “I’m turning five and getting big, Mooooommmmm” followed by “Jesus doesn’t know your phone number, does he?” There are lots of fun memories from this year that I will always cherish.

You still rely on macaroni and cheese, fettuccine Alfredo, strawberries, apples, watermelon, yogurt, and honeybuns (Honey Bunnies as you call them) to survive. You have added deli turkey, steak, and root beer (thanks Mimzi) to your diet. You like carrot cake cakepops…so that is one “vegetable” in the mix, right?

You are so smart. You say SO many funny things, I cannot possibly write them all down. Your Cooperisms keep me laughing…actually your words keep anyone who knows you laughing. Here are a few of my favorites from this year:

  • In the wintertime, you put your “hook” on each morning…aka your jacket “hood.”
  • You say funny, endearing things to me like “yes dearest mother” “my sweet love” and “my precious baby girl”…these usually come out of your mouth when you are headed to timeout.
  • You have a combined the word mustache and beard to create the term “mushbeard.”
  • The first joke you told (which I am not sure where you heard it) was “What does a butt crack say when it wakes up? Crack a doodle doo.”
  • You have asked me if there is a Mother’s and Father’s Day, when will it be Kid’s Day. As if every day isn’t about you at our house.
  • You spent most of the month of February talking about “Beaver Day” which was supposed to be Groundhogs Day.
  • Anything taking over 1 second is “forrrrrrever!”
  • During a conversation in an airport bathroom stall, you had the women in the stalls next to us laughing when we had an impromptu discussion about “pirate parts”…aka private parts. Needless to say, I did not want to exit the stall.
  • You have learned to look both ways when crossing a street, so you “don’t get flat.”
  • You tell me “You drive me crazy like a car” when I ask you too many questions about your day.
  • You told me you wanted to be a “Rine” (Marine) like your Dad and fight the bad guys. I told you that you couldn’t because I wouldn’t let you go far away to a war. You replied that you were “big enough” and a few minutes later came back and asked me “how do I get home from being a rine.” I think you are worried about missing your Mommy.
  • You like to talk out loud in public about people making “bad choices” to smoke or have their undergarments showing. These usually take place at Wal-Mart.

You love your family, your cousin “Tole” (Cole), and you love adventure. We have had lots of adventures this year. We have seen Disney on Ice, which you told me was boring; I agree. We have seen Marvel Superheroes Live which you loved. We have ridden on planes, trains, bicycles, ski lifts, escalators, elevators, amusement park rides, and horses. We had a blast on our Disney vacation. You loved the water rides at all the parks and thought it was so funny when I got soaked (like dripping wet) and you and your Daddy didn’t. When we got stuck on “It’s a Small World” we all started to go mad after a few minutes of hearing the famous It’s a Small World song over and over.

We have picked pumpkins, apples, and honeysuckles. We have swam, played soccer, and started our newest adventure “ninja school” (karate). We have camped (uggh), visited museums, watched movies, and went tubing. We have made snowmen and built sand castles. You love bounce houses and laser tag. You love being at Poppa’s farm. You love anything outdoors, especially if it involves water.

You love when Mom occasionally goes out-of-town for work and you and Dad have “boy time”. You love to play with your Dad-he’s your best bud. You like to pretend shave with Dad while he is shaving and spray (soak yourself) in his cologne to “smell good”. You have a cowlick that I spend each morning trying to tame…we usually concede and just turn it into a mohawk. You still love my snuggles and like me to sing you to sleep-occasionally.

You love Star Wars, Curious George, Horton Hears a Who, Happy Feet, and Ninja Warriors. You enjoy hanging out on our Hammock. You can make a stick into just about any kind of weapon. You play on my iPhone. You have more apps than I do on my iPhone. You have your own folder of “Cooper’s Jams” in my iTunes. We have listened to and sang at the tops of our lungs, Uptown Funk You Up, Boys Round Here, Little Red Wagon, Beyond Me, Who Let the Dogs Out, Roar, Stronger, and Gangam Style until I cringe every time it comes on…again. Some night we fall asleep watching YouTube videos of funny cats, Herman the Worm, or Boom Chicka Boom.

We had some tough conversations this year. Our cat of fifteen years passed away. It was our first talk about dying. You had lots of questions. You thought it was “so rude that Jesus would take your cat and not give it back.” When we visited family graves for Memorial Day, you had lots of questions for me about what do dead people do under the ground, is there a city under there where they eat and play, and wondered if they come out at night like zombies. Such a complicated subject for a little mind…heck it is complicated for an adult mind. You have learned that some kids don’t get to live with their mom and dads and other people get to love on them and be their parents.

You have shown me your kind heart by giving to others, you have brought me flowers, bugs, and all kinds of critters. Thanks to your Mimzi, we have a miniature Gnome garden in the landscaping at our house. I swore I would never have yard art! You love the Gnomes and rearrange them regularly.

You still have your hermit crab and haven’t noticed yet that one kicked the bucket while we were on vacation (he’s asleep in his shell, right?). You have stopped carrying and sleeping with your “blue” blanket and “Brown” the bear. You have become quite the photographer. I love when you grab my cell phone or camera and take pictures-everyone always smiles for you without hesitation. You have lots of questions and you pretty much talk ALL the time. Some days, I have to ask you to just rest your voice for a minute so my brain can catch up with you.

You have shared with me an amazing fourth year. I love seeing the person you are growing into. You bring me joy each day. I love being your “Mom” because you no longer call me “Mommy”. Dad and I love living life with you and making memories each day.

Today my spoon is full of lots of fond memories of year number four and ready for the spoonful of life year five will bring.

Rethinking the Celebration Behind Your Turkey

Thanksgiving has evolved to be a holiday where we celebrate family and blessings. Modern Day Thanksgiving is typically full of parades, processed foods, napping, and football. Personally, our family enjoys the holiday by departing from hectic life and work schedules to enjoy one another’s personality quirks in the name of giving thanks for the many blessings that have come our way throughout the year; serendipitously or through hard work.

As you feast with your family this holiday, consider the following: (1) First, give thanks for ALL your blessings; you know they come in all shaped and sizes.   Better yet, rejoice in the blessings bestowed on others and do not have a jealous heart. (2) Second, acknowledge and give of yourself- your time, talents, resources, and/or money to those who need it. (3) Third, consider looking at life from a different angle. Viewing a forest from a hillside provides a very different understanding than viewing it from the ground amidst the trees. Just when you think you know or understand something, you have to look at it in another way. Even though it may seem silly, unnecessary, or wrong-give it a try. What you uncover might surprise you.

The harvest time that started the tradition of Thanksgiving was a far cry from our modern day Thanksgiving conveniences. I am sure if the pilgrims and Native Americans were zapped into 2012 they could not even fathom a complete Thanksgiving Feast for $49.99 from a local chain restaurant. Likewise, if we transported ourselves back in time to the “first” Thanksgiving, we would probably find a story that played out very differently than what was taught in school. The first feast was probably tense because of the culture differences between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. And was most likely not a feast by today’s American standards, but was rather what the land and “harvest” had produced. There were no hormone injected turkeys, pumpkin pie out of a can, or gel cranberry sauce.  No black Fridays; well, I guess every Friday was black in the sense they did not have electricity. Perhaps, William Loren Katz the author of “Black Indians: a Hidden Heritage” will open your eyes to a different perspective on the Thanksgiving story and will provide you some food for thought as you baste your turkey and peel your sweet potatoes.  His article entitled “Rethinking the Thanksgiving Holiday” written in 2003 is below.

Since 1621 and Governor William Bradford of the Pilgrim colony of Massachusetts, Thanksgiving Day has been a political holiday. Usually wrapped in warm family and patriotic values, our rulers have shaped it to meet their needs. A presidential proclamation announces Thanksgiving each year, and relatives and friends sit down to turkey feeling they are participants in a moment rich in tradition and worthy of celebration.

But is this tradition something to celebrate? In 1620 Pilgrims from England aboard the Mayflower came ashore in Massachusetts. They were able to avoid disaster and starvation when the Wampanoag Nation brought them gifts of food and offered advice on planting, hunting, and fishing. Since half of the world’s crops had been planted by Native Americans and were unknown to Europeans, the Wampanoags brought the Pilgrims something of a miracle.

In 1621 after surviving their first wiffter, Pilgrim Governor William Bradford ordered a celebration. But Pilgrim thanks were not extended to the Wampanoag hosts but to their white God and deep Christian faith. If the Wampanoags were invited by the newcomers, who viewed them as inferiors and servants, it probably was to have them bring the turkey, corn and other delicacies, or serve the food.

If the Pilgrims learned any lessons about interracial cooperation in 1621, they were soon forgotten. In. 1637 Governor Bradford, who saw his colonists locked in mortal combat with dangerous Native Americans, ordered his militia to conduct a night attack on the sleeping men, women and children of a Pequot Indian village. To Bradford, a devout Christian, the massacre was imbued with religious meaning:

“It was a fearful sight to see them frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same and horrible was the stink and stench thereof. But the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice and they [the Massachusetts militiamen] gave praise thereof to God.”

Reverend Increase Mather, Pilgrim spiritual father and still a hero in most U.S. textbooks, asked his congregation to give thanks to God “that on this day we have sent 600 heathen souls to hell.”

Other English colonists had landed in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, and almost immediately had trouble with their Indian neighbors. In 1619 a Dutch ship sold 19 African laborers at Jamestown, and the rulers of Jamestown treated both Africans and Native Americans as untrustworthy inferiors. In 1622, the year after the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, patience ran out for Virginia’s Native Americans. They staged a massive attack on Jamestown that took 350 lives, and reports historian James H. Johnstone, “The Indians murdered every white but saved the Negroes.” Even at this early date two peoples of color showed a willingness to unite.

In 1789 Thanksgiving was revived when George Washington as first president asked the U.S. Congress to make it a national holiday. By using the holiday’s mythology of generosity and cooperation, he sought to unify diverse ethnic and racial groups behind the new political experiment called the United States.

Thanksgiving then was forgotten until the Civil War again sorely tested the nation. President Abraham Lincoln had to deal with many Northern citizens who refused to support the war effort and his new emancipation policy. Pioneer feminist Sarah J. Hale, editor of a famous woman’s magazine, had little trouble convincing the embattled commander-in-chief that a unifying, humanitarian holiday could serve his political goals.

Thanksgiving again disappeared, until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeking to unify Americans threatened by a Great Depression at home and fascist aggression abroad, called on the country to honor the holiday. In 1941, the year the U.S. entered World War II, Congress decreed the fourth Thursday in November a Thanksgiving holiday.

Born and reborn as a unifying political symbol, Thanksgiving has glorified the European invaders, and accepted their oppression of people of color. But instead Thanksgiving could honor those Native Americans and African Americans who became our first freedom fighters, and the unity these two peoples often forged during 500 years of resistance. Their rich history of heroism and unity deserves a Thanksgiving holiday.

This story is far from what I was taught in school. It does not reflect cornucopias, plump pilgrim figurines, and colorful Native American figures that decorate our homes. Instead, the tale shows the struggles, biases, and illusions that we too often preserve today. I’m not asking you to throw you turkey out or forgo the holiday; I will be enjoying the day with family and over indulging in yummy food. However, I do ask you to consider and appreciate the fact, that sometimes history and events in our lives may not be what they seems or what we have been told. Thankfully, our country continues to change and become more diverse. I’m thankful for those brave souls that started the sometimes painful experiment of blending cultures and extending a hand of friendship.  Sharing our vulnerabilities, resources, and differences is what makes the world go round and gives us a great reason to celebrate with Tom the Turkey.

Today, my spoon is full of thanks for being blessed beyond measure. And I am humbled by the fact there are two sides (at least) to every story.

To access this document visit  Rethinking the Thanksgiving Holiday

Friend Measuring Stick-Reason, Season, Lifetime

Recently, I had a short visit with a dear old friend who I have seen maybe twice in the last 16 years. Unfortunately, the death of her father was the occasion that caused me to pay her a visit. Although years have passed since we shared fun and laughter in our teen years, I couldn’t help but want to hug her while she was struggling with the reality of losing her daddy. My encounter with her got me thinking about all of the fun (which for the sake of reputations I won’t go into details) we had and how there have been different friends for different reasons and seasons of my life. I know there have been tons of emails and Facebook poems about friends-so my epiphany is nothing really profound. However, sometimes we expect our friendships to all stay the same throughout our life-but the fact is we change every day and so do the friendships. Change doesn’t discount their value. Change doesn’t discount the importance of that person or the great fun and emotion experienced. There are friends that get us through childhood. There are friends that endure the awkward stages of puberty with us (zits and braces included). There are friends that help us make memories and survive the teen years (I really hated being a teenager). There are friends for the college years. Friends who join you to travel abroad and experience the world. Friends with whom you throwback your first (and maybe many after that) adult beverage, friends that offer you support and laughter in a Ph.D. program. Friends who are work friends. Friends that engage your inner most philosophicalness (I’m a communication major-I make words up) with deep conversations about life, love, and happiness. Friends who are family. Friends that you really don’t know why your friends. Friends that challenge you. Friends you want to choke because you know they aren’t living their full potential. Friends that help you survive your husband being deployed in a war.  A friend that lends a much needed smile or conversation in the grocery store line. Friends that share you anxiety on an airplane full of turbulence. All encounters, no matter how brief or long, shape us and provide us something needed in that very moment.  Friends are placed in our life for a greater purpose. The lessons we learn from each person are meant to help us grow. I propose we quit using the same measuring stick to measure all of our friends and enjoy the reason and season they were meant to fulfill.

The poem below captures exactly what I want to convey. I searched for the true author of this poem and surprisingly there is quite a bit of debate about that on the Internet. So when all else fails- “author unknown” and thank you for your wisdom whoever you are!

Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Today, my spoon is full of a lot of reason and season friends.

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