To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before

Playing in the dirt from a young age
Playing in the dirt from a young age

We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.

From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”

“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.

There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”

It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.

Actually, it was an insightful question. Continue reading “To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before”

To Grandma and Papa’s She Goes

easter_cMy daughter spent two days with Grandma and Papa this spring break.

On Friday immediately after coming home from school, she marched upstairs and started packing. By bedtime on Friday night, she started hauling down suitcases and bags full of stuff from her bedroom to take on her trip. This continued all weekend. Mariah, our dog, could barely find her food bowl now because of all of the stuff that was going to Grandma’s—which was staged in our kitchen.

My daughter even wanted to go to bed early on Sunday night so that she could wake up extra early on Monday morning to leave.

She even gave her engineer Daddy directions on how best to pack things in the car—for maximum efficiency.

My daughter was just a little excited. Continue reading “To Grandma and Papa’s She Goes”

The State Seal

nunst081Over the years, my daughter and I have engaged in several entertaining conversations about school and homework. However, a conversation took place this week that will be told around the dinner table for years to come. It went something like this:

My daughter: Now, I need to color the state flag.

Me: Wow, the flag will be difficult to draw. It has the state seal on it.

My daughter (coming to my chair with a copy of the state flag): No Mom. That’s a badger, not a seal. Wisconsin doesn’t have any seals.

She was so earnest. She was so polite, but there was just this little edge of “I can’t believe my mom doesn’t know the difference between a seal and a badger” in her voice. Just a touch of patronage.

She was right of course, the animal depicted on the state flag is a badger, and Wisconsin doesn’t have any seals.

She was also wrong, because she was unaware of a larger truth. Continue reading “The State Seal”


IMG_0135I’ve had reason recently to think a lot about extended family and its importance in a child’s life. My parents relocated from their childhood haunts before I was born, so when I grew up, I was growing up away from extended family—far from aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. Although there were trips to see them periodically, and letters back and forth, particularly between my grandmas and me, the closeness in the relationships was limited by the distances between us.

Even with that limitation, the letters and contacts I had with my grandparents, particularly my Grandmas, were always delightful, and when I look at the relationship our daughter has with her Grandma and Papa, who are close by, I am in awe. Even the relationship she has with her Grandpa Arduengo, who is many miles away, is amazing, thanks in part to technology that brings them closer. What is it about Grandparents, particularly Grandmas, that they are the very embodiment of unconditional love? Why, when my daughter was two and just beginning to talk, was the sentence “Let’s go to Grandma’s” greeted by squeals of delight and “Oh good, hugs!” Continue reading “Grandparents”

Unsurpassed Excellence

Team B got trounced by team A in this week’s soccer game. Even though no official score was kept, the kids knew.

My own daughter had already concluded after last week’s trouncing that she loved soccer practice, but was not so fond of soccer games. And, by the end of this second game, she wasn’t all that interested in playing, but far more interested in picking up box elder bugs, searching for ants or digging for worms (I think she may be a closet entomologist).

Additionally, she got fussed at (by me) for pushing at another player. Later, when I asked her what she thought of the game, she said, “They aren’t very nice.”

“Well, they played a very good game.”

“Yeah, but they teased us. They kept holding up how many goals they had compared to us and saying “Na Na Na Boo Boo”.

“Well, you are right. That isn’t very nice. But pushing back isn’t going to make it any better,” I paused. “Do you know they only thing that will make it better?” Continue reading “Unsurpassed Excellence”