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Last Will & Testament

Dear Diary,

 

Don’t bury me.

I do enjoy wandering through graveyards,

touching the crumbling stone,

reading the names and trying to imagine their faces and whispers of their lives.

 

But don’t put me here,

where someone is paid to tame the weeds and trim the grass,

ready for loved ones who rarely visit and move on with the cacophony of their lives.

 

I don’t want to be stuck in one spot.

I didn’t do that in life. I don’t want to do that in death.

 

Instead,

Burn me,

then fill my waiting angel figurines with my essence,

distribute them to my children, as an unassuming knickknack

on a shelf or bookcase amidst the breeze of their lives.

 

With the rest of me,

Spritz me on my favorite spots in life…

 

Columbus, Ohio, where I drew my first breath. Known to me only in faded black and white photographs, propped on my grandfather’s knee, face covered in ice cream or gently held by my grandmother in the handmade christening gown of my heritage.

 

Trenton, New Jersey, where I honed mud-pie skills, won a trophy in the town Independence Day parade, and kissed the neighbor’s boy.

 

Brighton, New York, where I taught myself to ride a bike by leaning against the playground’s chain-link fence, and sat on a freshly painted snowplow, ruining my favorite blue coat with the red trim.

 

Redmond, Washington, where I perfected the art of catching grasshoppers and toads, and entered into the realm of neighborhood chase games, skits and big wheel races.

 

Los Gatos, California, where my first action was to lay on the warm grass to soak up the California sun. I salted slugs and played endlessly at handball, 4-square, hopscotch and jump rope games.

 

Aptos, California, where I first realized the call of the sea striking the sand was entwined in my spirit, tasted the driving need to write and draw, had my first boyfriend and broken heart.

 

Fairport, New York, where I waited for the school bus in tremendous snowdrifts without wearing a hat or boots because it was uncool, learned to ski by flinging myself onto diamond trails, a plethora of parties, friends, deep infatuations, theater, dance and song.

 

Houston, Texas, where the sky was so high and the clouds so big. I was a Yankee serving Apple Brown Betty at a Texan steakhouse while chasing an art degree. Everything seemed possible. My dreams were as big as the state.

 

Athens, Ohio, where I raced the train across the tracks to get to class on time, and it lulled me to sleep at night. I capered across the cobblestone streets uptown in my college town, wearing short, flippy skirts, flats, and lacy ankle socks.

 

Northern Virginia, where most of my children were born and my teaching career began.

 

Orlando, Florida, where I chose as my home to answer the calling of the sea and sun, and give voice to my poetry and prose.

 

And finally, Edinburgh, Scotland, hometown of my ancestors, where upon stepping into the land and wandering through the abundances of closes, I too, felt strangely at home.

 

I have no single hometown to be buried.

I have many places I have lived, played, laughed, loved, cried, and prayed.

 

Sprinkle me, thus.

If it can be done.

When I am done.

 

Antinapping Ninja

 

Dear Diary,

“Napping is fun.”

My children would always snicker and scoff when I would say such a thing. But I really wish someone would send me to my room and tell me to go take a nap.

Especially when I am grumpy and whiny and my eyes are doing that droopy thing. If you asked my Kindergarten classes what is Mrs. Kelli’s favorite thing to do they would pipe up quite readily with the answer- take a nap. Once, I actually had a student offer to watch the class for me so I could put my head down on my desk and take a snoozer. I couldn’t accept his gift, but it was a lovely gesture.

Napping is a decadent and luxurious exit from a busy day. It creates extra energy to conquer the rest of those nagging items on your plate with aplomb and vigor. It is an excellent attitude adjuster. Sometimes I even wake up with bright, new ideas to pursue or more efficient angles on tired subjects. It inclines me to have more prevalent breezy spells and winning smiles.

Most of the time my day is too packed to squeeze in a nap. I have to plan my naps carefully because a Thwarted Nap is worse than no nap at all.

A Thwarted Nap can cause me to don Monster Attitude. This development is best to be avoided for all involved. If I think the odds are stacked against a successful napping experience, it is best to just grab an energy drink and trudge napless through the rest of the day.

Aside from my busy schedule, I also have to deal with the Antinapping Ninja, my four-year-old daughter Sabrina. Napping has been off of her list of things to do for over a year now. But her hatred is still fresh. The mere mention of the word brings fire to her eyes and angry hisses from her lips. I have given up battling to get her to take a nap. But I will still battle to get mine.

Occasionally, I can grab a quickie nap while she is in Prekindergarten, but this is a dilemma because this is also the only time in the day that I am alone and able to do things without my four-year-shadow.

Sometimes I try to swing a nap on the weekend if I have reinforcements. I will tell her that I am going to ‘lay down’. It is best not to use the ‘N word’. I tell her to talk to Daddy or her older sister Gina if any need arises. Then I attempt to lie down in my bed.

My door will be cautiously opened by the Antinapping Ninja.

“Mommy, I’m hungry.”

“Tell Gina to get you a snack,” I grumble.

“Mommy, Tony stuck his tongue out at me.”

“Tell your dad,” I moan.

“Mommy, the puppy pooped on the floor.”

Silence.

“Mommy, can you put this dress on my Barbie?”

“No!” I roar.

Then Monster Attitude is awake and snarling.

Yesterday was a Sunday. All of the kids were home as well as my husband. I determined that I would wrestle a nap out of the day. I was very firm with my ninja. I told her that she was not allowed to open my door for any reason whatsoever or I would be mad. I reiterated to her that Daddy and her sister were extremely qualified to administer food, control her brother, adorn Barbies and clean poop. All seemed well at first.

I was drifting into la-la land nestled comfortably in my fluffy comforter and plethora of pillows. My mind detached itself from peanut butter sandwiches, laundry, paying bills and wandered into the realm of imagination. I was on the set of a movie that was based on my latest novel. Leonardo DiCaprio was involved. I was exhilarated. From the recesses of backstage I vaguely heard the Antinapping Ninja creep up to my door, but not open it.

Good.

I continued into the blissful spiral of sleep. I succumbed. Then I was rudely awakened by wails of utter despair. My daughter was outside my door, face in the carpet sobbing.

“I want my Mommy!”

My whole body tensed as I waited to see if she would just get over it and go away. She did not. I opened the door and let my little ninja enter the room. I said that she could go play or take a nap with me. To my surprise, she snuggled in with me and fell asleep almost instantly.

I was wide-awake.

So it goes. Another nap thwarted.

eggsmudcoverfb

Dear Diary,

 

Cover Reveal for my children’s book “Eggsplats and Mudpie Rainbows” due out in mid April. A whimsical rhyming parade of stuff that children find unendingly fascinating. Accompanied by amazing illustrations by Mr. Jim Cottage. More sneak peaks to come!

When Girls Grow Fierce

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Dear Diary,

In the midst of these turbulent political times, a pointed poem by a talented author and friend, Vincent F.A. Golphin:

 

WHEN GIRLS GROW FIERCE
for elizabeth warren

 

They grow fierce
girls who speak to power
eye-to-eye, without a blink,
nor stutter or mutter,
girls unmask,

show their woman,
frighten with truth,
strip naked the powerful

Unmasked and disrobed, the skinned sling

slurs and curses and lies, and dismissals,

like Pocahontas.
Those outdone rave,

usually wrinkly, old, white guys,
and the like-minded,

shocked naked by truth,
and shorn raw by the fearless jibes and convictions
of unusual girls that do not know their place.

 

The fearful retreat to thrones in their minds
scared by the fierce sound and sight
of girls armed with inconvenient facts,

possessed with confidence and courage,
bold revelation are girls fiercely grown
into women that scare the powerful.

 

Vincent F. A. Golphin is a widely published author and poet. His latest book, Grandma Found a Gecko, is for children. His last poetry collection, 10 Stories Down, was released in 2012 by Foothills Press. For more information – www.thegolphincollection.com.

 

 

 

Spirit

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Dear Diary,

 

The angel closes her eyes,

Breathes in

Slowly, steadily,

Filling her ordinary frame

With extraordinary spirit.

The kind of spirit

That stands undaunted before fire,

That trembles at the pain of a broken child,

That shields those who cannot shield themselves,

That spreads mercy like a salve,

That imperceptibly breeches walls,

That pierces darkness with a smile.

 

With the breath, the spirit expands and penetrates the fragile casing

Filling and

Chasing away the residue of weariness and despair,

Toppling impatience and the futility

Of being merely one

Battling small parts of the inhumanities of humanity.

 

She opens her eyes

And exhales

A deep whisper of Care

To echo in the vast turbulence .

 

Dear Diary .... by Kellianne Sweeney

baby-jesus

Dear Diary,

My youngest daughter Sabrina’s version of “Jingle Bells” was mostly on-key, but the lyrics were hopelessly butchered. The Kindergartener sang absently as she sat on the floor happily playing with the figures from an Advent calendar:

“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

Jingles on the wave.

Oh what fun, what a long, long song

for a white horse eating hay…

Hay!”

The lilting rendition made me smile. She lovingly caressed each calendar piece, then placed it into a circle that would enclose Baby Jesus.

Sabrina abruptly stopped singing. “Mommy, where’s the baby?” she said with a perplexed look.

Baby Jesus had gone missing again. I understood, because the only Christmas decoration in our home that ever seemed to disappear was a Baby Jesus. Everything else stayed safely packed from year to year, but Baby Jesus was always on the road.

My first runaway was the Baby Jesus from a Nativity…

View original post 722 more words

baby-jesus

Dear Diary,

My youngest daughter Sabrina’s version of “Jingle Bells” was mostly on-key, but the lyrics were hopelessly butchered. The Kindergartener sang absently as she sat on the floor happily playing with the figures from an Advent calendar:

“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

Jingles on the wave.

Oh what fun, what a long, long song

for a white horse eating hay…

Hay!”

The lilting rendition made me smile. She lovingly caressed each calendar piece, then placed it into a circle that would enclose Baby Jesus.

Sabrina abruptly stopped singing. “Mommy, where’s the baby?” she said with a perplexed look.

Baby Jesus had gone missing again. I understood, because the only Christmas decoration in our home that ever seemed to disappear was a Baby Jesus. Everything else stayed safely packed from year to year, but Baby Jesus was always on the road.

My first runaway was the Baby Jesus from a Nativity scene. He was a no-show back when my sons, Andy and Patrick, now in their 20s, were Preschoolers. After a desperate search of the house that did not yield results, I set out on a shopping excursion to find a suitable replacement. This was not easy.

First, most Nativity figures can only be purchased as a set, not by the piece. Second, they are not found in many stores. Third, being so close to Christmas, many of the stores that carried them were sold out by the time I conducted my frantic quest. I was, however, driven with determination to procure a Baby Jesus to complete our Nativity scene. My children were home waiting expectantly for Mommy to fill the empty cradle. I was not about to disappoint. Ultimately, I was not able to find the exact brand, but I did obtain a Baby Jesus that could reasonably pass for my Mary and Joseph’s baby.

The next year, as I set up the Nativity scene, the replacement Baby Jesus slipped from my fingers and took a devastating tumble. His fragile head had split in two and one of the arms cracked off. My sons’ eyes were wide with horror as they scrambled to collect the pieces, even those that bounced away into an unseen corner. After an intense search, they located the missing parts except for two fingers. Super Glue did not do the trick. My children were not satisfied with a Baby Jesus laced with cracks across his features and a couple of missing fingers. Once again, I raced to the store to purchase a replacement Baby Jesus.

For about five years we didn’t have any Baby Jesus issues. But when my middle kids Gina and Jay were preschoolers, it was the Advent calendar Baby Jesus’ turn to get wanderlust.

I have owned the Advent calendar since Andy and Patrick were toddlers. It is made of colorful cloth and has a large Christmas tree at the top and below are numbered pockets that house friendly, puffy characters before they are placed on the Christmas tree. The Advent calendar ritual had always been one of the highlights of the parade of days that lead up to Christmas for all six of my children.

Fortunately, the year that Advent calendar Baby Jesus went on a Sabbatical, my mother was on hand. She sewed us the most adorable replacement. My mom’s Baby Jesus was sleeping and swaddled, with peacefully closed eyes and a rosebud mouth. The original Baby Jesus was wide awake, grinning immensely with arms flailed open. He looked liked trouble. I was not terribly surprised when he took off. Five months later I was startled to find out that the absence was not his fault.

As I searched my refrigerator to ascertain whether I had any unexpired raspberry sauce to drizzle on French toast, my son Jay and I discovered a stowaway; Grinning Baby Jesus. The Advent calendar icon had been chilling behind the maraschino cherries nestled between the capers and horseradish sauce.

I stared in shock and puzzlement at four-year-old Jay. AWOL Baby Jesus was frozen into a mask of red syrup. I extracted the frosted figure from in between the condiments and peeled at the gelatinous cherry juice on its head. Jay stoically looked at Baby Jesus, and then at me.

“I put him there,” he said.

“What, why?” I stammered in confusion.

“I don’t know,” was the reply.

And so, for a few more years after that, our home had two Advent calendar Baby Jesuses. The original one had returned from the arctic chill to join my mother’s hand-sewn version.

Last year, my mother’s handmade Baby Jesus took a hiatus. I noticed, but did not draw attention to the fact. The children did not notice. One was certainly enough.

Now, Sabrina has discovered that both Advent calendar Baby Jesuses are missing. I can only assume they are on some grand adventure together. Perhaps we shall eventually find them hanging out in the pantry, or the garage toolbox or maybe in one of my hopelessly disorganized closets. Until then, we will hold open Baby Jesus’ spot in the Advent calendar’s gold-thread-edged pocket. Sabrina will have to make due until the conclusion of the Traveling Baby Jesus’ field trip. There’s still room for two, if he decides to bring a friend.

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