Tell Me a Story about … an Accolade!

Everyone loves receiving accolades for things they do. From the sticker star on our homework to the badges earned in Scouts, children learn to enjoy being rewarded. As adults, we earn a raise on our paycheck, get a pat on the back, receive a thank you card … all for a job well done.

In elementary school, I decided to be a writer, not realizing at the time that this also was God’s calling for me. Before that, I’d already had formed a habit of doing my best in school to see those A’s on my papers and report cards. I tried hard to make sure every essay or story I wrote received a 100%.

But better than that were the notes from the teachers. I thrived on those notes: “Well written! Great story!” I loved those accolades.

Then, I became an adult. When I worked fulltime, my work ethics, a gift from my parents and grandparents, helped me get a good reputation and earned the right of positive recommendations when I moved to different job.

But my writing was another story. Some writers adore seeing their name on a published book. (No book published yet.) Some enjoy getting enough income to buy another book on “how to make money with your writing.” (Been there, done that, bought the book.) And most writers like to hear how their writing affected their readers. (With my devotions in Guideposts, I’m beginning to.) Accolades drip in.

But I’ve found another accolade that outshines all the others for me. I often write books for gifts. I write board books (and have our daughter Holly illustrate them) to give as baby shower gifts. I create 30-day devotionals to give at Christmas. When our daughter Faith turned one, I began writing a book every year for her birthday … from picture books to an American Girl type series of chapter books. (Disclaimer: yes, Faith, I know you’re still waiting for the last couple.)

And then, we had grandchildren! I’d planned on doing as I did for Faith, beginning on each one’s first birthday, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. However, I have written some of them books, and those are the ones which have brought me the accolades that no other awards or honors will ever equal.

For our toddler granddaughter, I wrote a series of tiny board books about trees, something she and her grandma both love. Whenever I visited their home, she’d grab one and climb on my lap. “Read!” And I’d read. “Read ‘gain!” And I’d read again … and again … and again. Those little books became as well-worn as my childhood copy of Big Red. There’s no better praise than “Read ‘gain, Grandma!”

And recently … well, let’s just say no writer has ever received a finer accolade than I got when our grandson invited me to join his play acting and gave himself the name “Peter,” me the name “Kelly,” and his brother the name “Jeff.” To you, those are just names out of the imagination of a six-year-old boy. But to this writer-grandma, those names brought a special joy to my heart.

“Why?” you might ask. Well, for the boys’ recent birthdays, I wrote them the first of a chapter book series based on a game we’ve played in their yard in which we jump through a “trap door stone” into various lands. Their favorite? Dinosaur Valley! And the title of the book series? The Trap Door Adventures. The first book, Adventure Awaits, takes place in Dinosaur Valley, where three cousins—Kelly, Jeff, and Peter—landed when they jumped through the trap door they found in their yard.

The day after we finished the book, our grandson came to me and said, “Hey, Kels (the nickname Peter and Jeff used for Kelly), I’m going to look for some food while you tend that gash on Pete’s head,” an EXACT wording of a line in the book. For the next two hours, we play-acted the entire book, as well as their ideas for book two! Not only was I amazed that he’d listened to the whole story, nor that he’d memorized the lines after hearing them only once (he is his mama’s son!), but that he liked it enough to consider it worthy of his play time … usually reserved for Star Wars or his newest infatuation, The Hobbit.

So, you can keep your Caldecott and Newberry Awards. THIS writer’s awards from the mouths of a toddler and a six-year-old cannot be equalled!

******Your turn to tell me a story! What accolade from your life has meant the most to you? Or is there a story about a time you gave an accolade to someone in a unique fashion? My honors in this blog come in the form of your sharing your stories with me and my readers!

Tell Me a Story about … Dinosaurs!

9-5-18 E“Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous! Such difficult words, my gracious! They happened, you know, way back long ago, for these were the dinosaur ages!” 

Ah, how the words of that simple poem ring in the ears of my memories! We chose to homeschool our daughters, and what a delight that experience brought this mama! God used my desire to teach in the best way possible. And having an outlet for my overly-active creativity added my own uniqueness to the fun. 

One year, we did a unit on dinosaurs, complete with two huge, 3-D cardboard dinos displayed for the first day. The poem above came from a cassette tape with an hour’s worth of dinosaur poems and songs, including “Danny, the Dancing Dinosaur” who “loved to dance and he loved to roar”! I recall snippets from others, but the short poem above stood out because our daughters loved saying the “big words.” In fact, they could say parasaurolophus and ichthyosaurus long before I could even identify them! 

That September, we took a trip to Dinosaurland in Virginia. During our drive, I slipped the dino 9-5-18 Fcassette into the car’s tape player to surprise the girls. Singing with different music helped pass the time. This one delighted the girls and their mama and would be played often, with lots of dinosaur stomping and roaring … and little girl giggles. 

Dinosaurland brought thrills as we toured the park-like grounds. What’s behind that tree? Oh my! A stegosaurus! And over there … is that … could that be … yes, it is! It’s a tyrannosaurus rex! And look! There’s blood on its mouth from its recent kill lying on the ground in front of him! (Daddy thought this a realistic display, but mama hurried the girls towards the gift shop!)  

On the homefront, one of the reading activities we did remains a favorite of the girls. Each of them picked a dinosaur—a brontosaurus for Holly and a triceratops for Sarah. (Note: this came before we realized there’s no such thing as a brontosaurus! What we grew up calling a brontosaurus, the paleontologists first called an Apatosaurus and first names stand. ) 

9-5-18 BWe found the length of each dinosaur … without the benefit of internet for all of you hurrying to google it. Holly’s came in at a whopping 75 feet, while “Cera” barely topped 30. Next, we cut one-foot lengths of colored yarn. Each time the girls read a book, they chose a colored strand and tied it to the last one they’d chosen, winding them into a raggedy ball. Of course, since “Cera’s” ball was completed sooner, “our Sarah” started adding to the bronto-ball to finish it. 

To end our unit study, we bought the girls wooden skeleton kits to put together. Did you ever try to glue the backbones of a triceratops down it’s curvy spine, trying to decide if this piece is a tiny bit bigger than that one, making it needed closer to the end of the tail? And how in the 9-5-18 Dworld do you make a parasaurolophus’ long head protrusions stay in place?

I don’t think God had this much trouble when He put those skeletal pieces together to create dinosaurs, but I’m glad He did so. What joy the animal world in all its many varieties, past and present, brings to our family and many others around the world!

*** What dinosaur memories tromp through your mind? Share some with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!