Saturday, January 08, 2022

Popcorn, Pink, and Poetry

I used to say that I was terrible at picking favorites. And I suppose that's true for some things. Choose just one favorite book? Impossible. Favorite movie? Same. Favorite thing to have for dinner? I don't know!

But for some things, I think I just needed to experience life long enough to figure out which one made me the happiest. And I finally have to admit that there are some clear winners.

Take snacks, for example. There are lots of snacks I enjoy. Chips and salsa. Twizzlers. Peanut-butter filled pretzel bites. But there's only one snack that draws me in every time. One snack that would be an absolutely necessity in a doomsday bunker. Popcorn.

I love popcorn. I've never met a popcorn I didn't like. Give me a bowl of popcorn and you probably should also have one for yourself because I am unlikely to share. Not because I don't like you, but because when I have a bowl of popcorn in front of me I just keep on snacking! Popcorn makes me happy. It's simple and crunchy and addictive. Popcorn is my favorite. Preferably freshly popped at home on the stove, with olive oil and a little salt. Perfect!

Let's talk colors. I love colors. There isn't a color that I don't like, at least in its proper context (poopy diaper brown doesn't belong on a house, for example). But there's only one color that I consistently return to. One color that I'm almost certain to wear on a day when I feel like I need a little colorful pick-me-up. And that's pink! Especially hot pink. Pink is the happiest color, if you ask me. And it's not because it's "girly," though I guess that could be part of it. I like girly things, after all. But pink just makes me feel good. Not that I'd paint my house the color of Pepto or anything. Probably.

And if you know me at all, you know I love to read. But what is my favorite? If I listed all my favorite books, you might not ever get to the end of it. But there is one kind of thing I love to read more than anything else. Even more than epic fantasy by Brandon Sanderson. And that's poetry! My favorite kinds of novels? Verse novels. My favorite kinds of picture books? Rhyming or free verse! And poetry collections, of course. My bookshelves don't lie. 

Poetry, by the way, is also my favorite thing to write. It's even better than blog posts! Except for poetic blog posts, maybe.

A few other favorites:

Weather? Thunder snow! 

Room in the house? My office.

Flower? Purple coneflower.

Place to be out in nature? The woods, especially when it's snowy.

Favorite fictional world? Narnia.

Maybe choosing favorites isn't so hard after all. 

How about you? What are some of your favorites? 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

A Poem for Mom

I lost my mom in the beginning of December, and my mind is still trying to come to terms with the fact that she's not going to be around any more. I miss her random texts, her hugs, her little nuggets of wisdom that she was always quick to share. One of those nuggets of wisdom was when I was fifteen and heartbroken over a breakup. "Write about it," Mom said. Thirty years later, heartbroken over losing my mama, I tried to write about it, and I began with the first few lines of the poem below. But there was just so much--too much--to condense into a poem. Then my brother asked me to speak at Mom's funeral. I thought, what better way to honor my mom than to finish the poem and read it aloud to those who knew and loved her? So I did, with a little help from my daughters when it got too hard. This is A Poem for Mom, written primarily to my six siblings.

A Poem for Mom

What can we say

about losing our mother?

We are not unique in our


in our loss.

And yet

we are.

Countless before us have lost their mothers.

But no one has ever lost

OUR mother.

Our mother,

this big-hearted, song-filled woman

whose voice was the sound of poetry

and praise,

of soft-spoken words of encouragement.

Of scoldings,

of sobs.

And laughter too.

The kind that sometimes disguised itself 

as crying.

There was no denying

for her

how she felt

at any given moment.
It was always as clear

as her bright blue eyes,

as evident

as the laugh lines

on her cheeks.

Mother was not one

for subtlety. 

And yet,

she left quietly

with all of us wondering

how she felt

what she was thinking


our own hearts


as she left us behind

to enter her heavenly home,

arms raised,

blue eyes shining with happy tears

and on her lips

a joyful



Thursday, September 30, 2021

My Sister, the Giver

Not long ago I received a package in the mail. It contained a pair of earrings that had been shipped all the way from the U.K. to my little house in Nebraska.

Fun, aren't they? I can't wait to wear them out in public!

What's the significance of the chili peppers? 

Recently my sister Elizabeth and I were shopping together. As I looked through a rack full of quirky earrings, I mentioned that I had been searching for a pair of chili pepper earrings ever since FEDERICO AND THE WOLF came out. I explained to my sister that a new pair of earrings was one way I liked to celebrate the publication of each of my books. I have moose earrings for WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?, fox earrings for HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS, and cactus earrings for TWO TOUGH TRUCKS. But so far, I hadn't had any luck finding a good pair of chili pepper earrings to celebrate my latest book. 

Later that same day, Elizabeth texted me to say, "I ordered you chili pepper earrings."

Well, of course she did! My sister has always been a thoughtful giver. 

But here's the thing. When we were shopping that day, it was to fill some time between two of her many recent doctor appointments. Here Elizabeth was, worried and stressed about her recent diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, listening to me grumble that no one sold chili pepper earrings. But she didn't mind. In fact, I can imagine her making a mental note to look for chili pepper earrings online as soon as she got home. 

In case that doesn't impress you, there's more.

The VERY SAME DAY that Elizabeth had learned that her cancer had spread, she came by my house to visit with me and our parents, who were in town for my daughter's wedding. She had stopped by the store, and while she was there she bought me candy! White Chocolate Lindor Truffles. One of my favorites.

This is the kind of person my sister is. Even through the hardest times, she finds reasons to laugh. To give. To enjoy every little blessing life has to offer, and to be a blessing herself. She even got me to try sushi for the first time recently. And, wonder of wonders, I didn't hate it! 

I'm blessed to have Elizabeth in my life. And proud that I can call her sister.

Elizabeth and I out for sushi after one of her many
doctor appointments.