Cutting Words

Editing is an excruciating process, especially when it involves the extraction of beloved words. For writers, words are our progeny. It’s painful to part with them. Yet, we remove favored words all of the time, as an act of sacrificial love for our manuscripts and mercy for readers everywhere.

Fortunately, I just thought of a way to save my words AND make incomplete manuscripts happy. I opened a home for orphaned words, lines, and scenes today. I’m making excess words available for adoption!

This is my first foundling, cut from my children’s chapter book manuscript:

While Gramma helped Papa catch the tumbling toys, I chased a crazy ping pong ball–ping, ping, ping–until it plopped into the kitty litter–plip. I decided to leave it. Maybe Papa and Gramma would think the cat laid an egg.

Disclaimer: I didn’t say all word orphans were appealing. But I’m holding onto the hope that there’s a manuscript out there that’ll think this is the cutest word baby ever.

Hare Raising Inspiration

Do you suffer from manuscript-aging-angst or this-work-is-too-silly-anxiety?  In 1893, a young woman corresponded with the son of her governess, a boy named Noel.  When she ran out of things to say, she made up a silly story with silly pictures of silly rabbits .  Eight years later (one hundred and eleven years ago), her whimsical  imaginings were published to become one of the most beloved picture books of all time.  This success motivated her to write and illustrate at least 23 other animal tales and 10 more books.  The letter-writer is Beatrix Potter.  Her silly rabbits are Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter Rabbit.

It all started with a silly letter with silly pictures about silly rabbits.

Currently, two million Beatrix Potter books are sold every year worldwide.  That’s four books every minute.  People hunger for silly — and no manuscript is too old.  Click the image above. Peter Rabbit fans, writers, and illustrators of all ages will enjoy this charming tribute to Beatrix Potter from CBS Sunday Morning.

Strategic Spontaneity V

When you’re two years old and your grandma says, “George, wanna go on a date?” you have no idea what she’s talking about, but you nod your head “yes” anyway.

This was the case with our fifth grandchild, “George”. For his spontaneous grandparent/grandchild date, he just wanted to play outside in the snow. He didn’t know about more complex options and I wasn’t about to volunteer them.

Easy, huh?

Well — no. Our date involved an hour of preparation:

  1. feeding George
  2. cleaning George, his chair, the table, and the three-foot radius around where George dined
  3. chasing and wrestling George out of his full-to-capacity diaper
  4. selecting George’s clothes
  5. selecting “diff’nt” clothes — George has definite opinions about onesies vs. regular
  6. chasing and wrestling naked George into clothes
  7. finding George’s snow pants
  8. getting snow pants on George
  9. finding snow pants “Gamma” can wear
  10. squeezing Gamma into snow pants
  11. realizing Gamma has to use the bathroom
  12. peeling snow pants off Gamma, then squeezing them on again
  13. putting coat on George
  14. putting coat on Gamma
  15. putting cap and boots on George
  16. hot flash — taking coat off Gamma
  17. putting mittens on George
  18. finding gloves — George doesn’t like mittens
  19. putting gloves on George, most of his fingers in one finger space
  20. putting coat, boots, cap, and gloves on Gamma

George did the snowpant shuffle into the garage and emerged with a shovel and a rake. I shoveled snow.  He raked it back on the sidewalk and driveway.  Somehow, this made perfect sense to George.

I forgot my iPhone in the house and wasn’t about to rearrange my snow gear to retrieve it, so I tracked mud and snow through the entrance and kitchen. Then I crawled out backwards, wiping the floor with wet paper towels.

Whoever says our masculine or feminine nature is molded solely by our environment should explain George. He came into a pink world of three sisters and foo-foo everything. He won’t have any of it.

I snapped three warm-up pictures before the stars aligned for the perfect shot — and my battery went dead.  George was happy.  Gammas are more fun with dead phone/camera batteries.While we played in the snow, George’s four-year old sister “Sadie”  set up a “su-pwise” for us in the warm house. “It’s weady!” Sadie,  adorned in pink and purple flowered jammies and red and green snowman socks, motioned to us from the front door.

“Honey, you’re sick,” she gushed, mothering George out of his snow gear.  She pointed to the couch.  “There’s your bed.  Lay down now and I’ll feed you. Cuz this is a hospital westauwant.”

Sadie had arranged 54 toy dishes, food, and utensils in neat rows on the piano bench and the piano.

“Let me give you your cough sywup,” Sadie poured pretend medicine into a plastic spoon.

George didn’t play sick patient like Sadie had hoped.  He dove straight for the dishes like a wrecking ball toward a popsicle stick house.

Sadie stopped gushing.  “Lay down or I’ll draw chicken pox on you!”

By the time I confiscated Sadie’s red marker, George had a bad case of marker pox.

“Gwamma! Can you take him outside again?” Sadie begged.

Since George pretty much demolished Sadie’s hospital restaurant,  Sadie had to be admitted (into what was left of her medical facility).  So Gwamma became Sadie’s nurse and the neighborhood reclamation expert.

Later George was banished to quality time with Papa and a wash cloth. The pals watched two and a half  minutes (George’s attention span) of This Old House, then loaded toy food and toy dishes into the Tonka truck with the Tonka loader.  This included plenty of saliva-spewing sound effects. (George’s saliva, not Papa’s.)

When Sadie’s sisters got home from school, the three females moved the hospital restaurant upstairs.

They quarantined George to stay away — and not because of his marker pox.  He didn’t even notice.  He just pulled me to the front door, pointed outside and said, “Date?”

Our Sunny Valentime (Strategic Spontaneity IV)

Four year old “Sadie” looked forward to this grandpa/grandma/grandchild  date ever since we started the tradition with her oldest sibling last August.  Six months is a long time to make a four-year-old wait.  In fact, she cried a puddle of tears when she learned that her other sister and her cousin (grandchildren #2 and #3) would be in line before her.  We hadn’t considered how difficult the concept of seniority would be for a child.

On our car ride to her house, I tapped my husband on the arm and sighed, “This will make a little girl extremely happy.”

My husband patted my hand and winked.  “And, I think it’ll make Sadie happy, too.”

Grandchild #4 forfeited her favorites for this experience.  She didn’t wear her 12 hour/day, seven days/week pink outfit. She didn’t bring her blankets.  And, she even let her mom wash, brush, and put a barrette in her hair.  This made us feel colossally  important.

The best thing about Sadie? She’s an exuberant conversationalist.

She bit her corndog and pointed like a miniature Vanna White to the red and pink decorations around Culvers.  “Hey! Gwamma, do you know why there’s heawts eveywhere?”

I took a wild guess. “Because they love us?”

“No, sillllly! ” she laughed like it was the best joke ever, “It’s because it’s almost Valentime’s Day!”

As my husband buckled her into her car seat, she pointed out the window, “Hey! Gwampa, what does that water tower do?”

“I’m thinking it holds water.”

“Silly!  It has a super dooper drain so it can go to all our sinks!”

On the way to the Mall of America, “Hey! Let’s sing songs!  I’ll start. Boom chicka, boom chicka…”

On the ferris wheel, “Hey! Sometime can we come here with my flamily?”

Eating ice cream, “Hey! Sanks  for bringing me to the Mall of the Merika.”

On the car ride home, in the middle of an I Spy game, “Hey! Gwamma!”

“Yes, Sadie.”

“When will I die?”

Uurch!  It’s lucky I wasn’t driving.  I might have braked or jerked the car into the next lane.  My husband and I looked at each other. Where did THAT question come from?  Either she assumes her Grandpa’s the crazy driver or she thinks we’re really old.

Me, trying to match her tone of enthusiasm: “I don’t know, Honey.”

Grandpa: “None of us knows when we’re going to die.”


Then Sadie broke into a flamboyant and cheerful song about dying and Jesus and Heaven and friends and “Tree”.  (Tree is her favorite blanket.  It has trees on it.)

“Hey! Can I have Tree in Heaven?”

Me: “Absolutely, Sweetheart! Jesus knows the desires of your heart.  I’m sure you can have Tree and everything you love — all your blankets and more.”

“I would like to have Tree in Heaven. Hey! Can we have food in Heaven? Hey! I would like to have corndogs  and ice cream in Heaven  Hey! And, my flamily?  I would like my flamily to be in Heaven.  Hey! Let’s sing a song. I’ll start.

Boom chicka, boom chicka…”

Strategic Spontaneity III

Cowabunga!  We are on an unexpected roll with our grandparent/grandchild dates.

January 25 I received a 2:50 a.m. phone call from our daughter-in-law that her water broke.  We rejoiced when grandchild #6 (“Spidey 2”) arrived without complications around 11:30 a.m. late that morning.

Spidey 2 came into the world only three days before his big brother’s (Spidey 1’s) fifth birthday, so we had two occasions to celebrate.  After meeting Spidey 2, birthday festivities,  sledding with Spidey 1, and helping the exhausted parents for three days, I offered to take Spidey 1 to our home for three more. This would give the parents some alone time to rest and bond with Spidey 2.

As we traveled, it occurred to me that Spidey 1 would be disappointed upon arriving at our home, because “Papa”, my husband, wouldn’t be there. He had to attend a meeting. That’s when I remembered Strategic Spontaneity.  Spidey 1 was due for a date.  After all, he was third in the grandchild line of progression, after his seven and six year old cousins.

As the Mall of America sign came into view I asked Spidey, “How’d you like to go to the Mall of America to eat?”

“No, I don’ wanna eat. I wanna see Papa. Look! An airpane!”

“Mmhmm, an airplane. You have to eat. And, you could pick whatever you want.”

“No, I don’ wanna go to the Ma of Amer-ca.  I wanna see Papa. Is that biwding a hopsital? A baby came out of Mommy’s belly at a hopsital.”

“No, that’s not a hospital. But it looks like a hospital, doesn’t it? Papa won’t be home until later.  How would you like to go on a Nanna date?”

“A Nanna date?”

“Yeah, a Nanna date — where you eat at Burger King or McDonald’s or A & W Rootbeer and go on rides.”

“Rides? I like Nanna dates.”

Spidey 1 is less complicated than the girls.  He would have been ecstatic spending the entire excursion on the escalators. But people (security) started to get annoyed.

Once he saw the amusement park, he let out a sigh like he’d seen the Great Pyramid of Giza.  He found Nirvana.  He declined the customary sibling gift shopping.  (After all, he’d already bought a Kit Kat for Spidey 2.)

He only stopped to eat his chicken nuggets after I bribed offered the choice: eating them = more rides or not eating them = going straight home.

He even chose one more spin in lieu of ice cream.

On the way home, Spidey sat in his carseat in the dark back seat, covering his head with his favorite blanket, so he could suck on his index finger in private. I heard the suction popping noise as he pulled his finger out of his mouth. “Nanna, I like Nanna dates.  Can we go again t’morrow?”

We didn’t, but Spidey 1 didn’t notice.  Instead, he enjoyed three more glorious days of dates with me, Papa, and his aunt, uncle, and three cousins.

We returned Spidey 1 to his home and family over the weekend and assured Spidey 2 that we’d be back soon for his turn, which would involve a bottle and a diaper change — kind of like what Papa and I will enjoy in a few years.

Now, as I sit at my desk, I realize that I’ve missed some submission deadlines.  At first this made me sad. But then I consider, there will always will be conferences to attend and agents, editors, and publishers to meet, but Spidey 1 will only be seen in public with his Nanna until — um — well, I’ll keep you posted…

Strategic Spontaneity II

As posted in September, my husband and I committed to individual dates with our grandchildren. We’d intended to do this twice a year with each child.  But, with five grandchildren, and another making his debut any minute, we needed to step it up.  So, we finally enjoyed our first date with our second grandchild.  Coordinating around runny noses, holidays, work, school, and family time becomes more challenging as they grow.

Our date with “Tinkerbell”, granddaughter number two, age five, was even less spontaneous than our date with “Katie“, granddaughter number one.  Tink wanted to do everything we did with her sister — only, with amusement rides.  One thing we hadn’t thought about: 5:30-7:30 p.m. in January is a lot darker than 5:30-7:30 in August.  Also: 5:30-7:30 p.m. in January is a lot colder than 5:30-7:30 in August.  So, our repeat environment seemed a bit dreary in comparison to the first.

To add to this dismal atmosphere, once we found a vacant table in the Mall of America food court, a maintenance man had a seizure. Our five-year old granddaughter sat with her mouth gaping open as my husband rushed to assist the fallen, convulsing man and I dashed to the nearest concession for assistance in calling the mall emergency line.  Once we and Tink were assured he’d be okay, our cold food didn’t seem very appetizing, so we whisked her off to Nickelodeon Universe.  There, we would have to have fun in a hurry.  We only had time for three rides.

Since Minnesota time moves according to the thickness of molasses — teenage amusement ride attendees move much slower in January.  By the time we got on and off the Merry-Go-Round, we only had time for one more ride.  Tink’s selection: the Hot Air Balloons.  We thought we remembered the entrance location.  We didn’t.  Grandparent’s minds work slower in January, too.  We walked the perimeter of the indoor park one and a half times before we found it — at the hour we should have taken her home.

While we stood in line, I asked if she’d like both of us to ride with her or just Papa, since I joined her on the Merry Go Round.  “Just Papa,” she said.  “Otherwise, who’s going to take pictures?”

The attendant had a broken foot. Oh no!  The good news: the ride held approximately 20 big and little people.  The bad news: Tink and Grandpa were  customers 21 and 22.  After 12 and a half excruciatingly slow rotations, they boarded.

Tink had a funny incident descending the American Girl Doll escalator before, so I was happy for her uneventful ride with Grandpa.

After 12 and a half more flights around the pole and 25 blurry pictures, we swept Tink off to the nearest escalator to the ice cream concession.  No time to ask what dessert she preferred.

As we enjoyed our sweets, a little girl, about seven, sat beside Tink.   Obviously, a serious dance competitor or child beauty contestant  in her short sequined dress and giant bow, the girl polished a small trophy, hoping to win Tink’s adulation.  Unsuccessful, she batted her false eyelashes — the ones below her blue eyeshadow, and above cheeks of rouge.

“Oh, brother,” I thought, “Tink’s parents are going to kill us if Tink decides she needs make-up or false anything.”

Luckily, Tink’s half of a mint ice cream chocolate cookie sandwich won her adulation instead.

Even though we knew it was late, we couldn’t forego the dollar store sibling gifts.  Tink selected a bottle top necklace kit for sibling number one, a paint set for her younger sister, miniature dinosaurs for her toddler brother, and Tinkerbell coloring pages for herself.  She even found Valentine candy for her parents.  (Coincidentally — Tink’s favorites.)

As we drove her home, I thought about how Tink had rarely been anywhere without a sibling.  I’m sure it seemed weird, riding alone in the dark back seat with Grandpa and Grandma up front, so I turned and mouthed “I love you” with each passing mile — amidst insincere, giggly protests.

We thought Grandpa and I would be grounded for missing Tink’s curfew by an hour, but her parents were surprisingly calm.  The whole family swarmed us as Tink proudly distributed her gifts.

Tink and Katie hugged — an atypical occurrence. “Do you like your present?” Tink asked.

“I LOVE it,” Katie gushed.

Tink beamed. Grandpa beamed. Grandma beamed.

Hmmm…Strategic spontaneity still works — even when it’s a repeat performance in the dark.

My Favoritist Charity

Our 1983 family Christmas photo.  We celebrated Advent anticipating the birth of Jesus and our third child.

As much of the world prepares to celebrate the birth of THE  Most Special  Baby,  we’re reminded  that  God saw fit to have His only begotten Son  raised on earth by an adoptive father (St. Joseph) so that the rest of us could become His (God’s) adopted sons and daughters.  Maybe this is why I’m so  psyched about a  charitable institution called Holy Family Catholic Adoption Agency (HFCAA). HFCAA  gives hope to women in  crisis pregnancy situations by offering loving homes for their babies.

Last year HFCAA hosted a ten-year anniversary celebration where I met and fell in love with some of the delightful children and their adoptive parents.  One little girl with bouncy curls hugged me as I stood in line for lunch.  Her affectionate nature seemed unusually bold — especially since I’d never met her before. Then she twirled, curtsied, and asked if I liked her dress. Once convinced of my — and everyone else’s — adulation, she pulled over her shy older sister (also adopted) and asked if I liked her dress, too.   “Our mom made them,” she said, pointing from the dresses to her adoptive mother, who waved, embarrassed but charmed by her precious, precocious child.

Teenage volunteers took the adoptive children to another area to make art projects as fathers and mothers shared stories of the priceless gifts they had received in their adoptive children. They wept with thankfulness — I wept — we all wept. It was a profitable day for Kleenex on Wall Street.

In this year’s HFCAA Christmas update, Mary L. Ball, Executive Director, shares, “One of our adoptive couples who opened their loving arms to a special needs baby is so happy to be blessed with this precious child.  This baby was a twin in the womb.  Now that the baby is with this adoptive couple the baby is a “twin again” so to speak because last year the couple adopted another baby born in the same month.”

Typically, when it comes to adoption, the most extraordinary act of sacrificial love comes from the birth mothers. Through HFCAA birth mothers receive the non-judgmental care and guidance they need. You can hear about two birth mothers’ journeys on the HFCAA website. One, Cesili, shared, “When I placed my baby for adoption I never considered myself any less a mother than raising my own child.  I feel like being a mother you need to set aside your own feelings and your actions and what you want to do in life, put those aside and put your child’s needs and feelings first.  I knew I could be a good mom and give my son all the love in the world, but I knew that I couldn’t give him everything I wanted him to have.  I was not going to settle for anything less.  The best option for my child was adoption.  I realized that there are good, loving families out there who would welcome my child in and love him as their own.  I found Holy Family Adoption Agency…I feel he is loved twice as much.”

Holy Family Adoption Agency is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Gifts can be sent to:
525 Thomas Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55103
(651) 298-0133

Hello Dolly Date

The sweetness of our first official grandparent/grandchild “date” prompted me to plan another happily-ever-after family event just for the girls:  me, my doll (my daughter), her dolls (her three daughters), and their dolls (really — their dolls: McKenna, Ashley, and Katie). Our foo-foo destination — brunch at the American Girl Doll Bistro.

The younger girls’ dolls are Americans, girls, and dolls – just, unbeknownst to them, with a less expensive “g”.  To avoid melt-downs, I called ahead to inquire if all dolls would be welcome. Thankfully, the AG representative assured me that they do NOT discriminate against dolls of any origin, even from the less affluent side of the tracks.

When I picked up my dates, I expected the front door welcoming committee with the usual accolades – hugs, kisses, and “You’re the best grandma in the world”.  Instead, one granddaughter argued with her mom about the relevance of brushing hair, another love-wrestled her little brother to tears, and the littlest stomped, crossed her arms and protruded her bottom lip.  “I didn’t get bweakfast.”

“We’re going for brunch, Sweet Pea.”

“I don’t want bwunch. I want pancakes.”

Their dolls looked perky and groomed — but them — not so much. Apparently, they’d stayed up past their bedtime the night before. I threatened that we couldn’t go until they brushed their hair.  No bristles made contact.  I stood my ground — for about 45 seconds — until the one who once cut her sister’s hair said, “Why can’t we just be bald and wear wigs?”

Everyone gets great service at the American Girl Doll Bistro.

At the bistro, while I envisioned bald granddaughters, two girls at the table next to us gushed over official AG photographs.  I whispered to the server, “How much?”

“Twelve dollars each.”

I flinched.  It seemed a silly extravagance on top of barely touched $14 pancakes, especially since I brought my camera.  Unfortunately, the granddaughter with perfect hearing determined that life would not be worth living without official pictures.  So, she whined. I stood my ground — for about 55 seconds — until the “cheapskate” sign flashed on my forehead.

Apparently, the AG photographer saw my neon sign.  She humored me by asking if I wanted to take some pictures, too.  I happily  complied.
To escape the paparazzi  frenzy, the girls fled to nearest amusement park ride — the AG store escalator.  As my daughter and the oldest descended, I climbed on the top step with the youngest.  The middle granddaughter let go of my hand and stopped, causing a jam of escalator-goers behind her.  I heard “I’m too scared” as her sister and I disappeared below.”You wait there!” The Superman theme played in my head as we hastily got in line to ascend.

“Wook!” The youngest pointed.  The bottom half of the descending escalator was empty.  In the middle, an embarrassed, but chivalrous teenage male AG security guard held my granddaughter’s hand.  Granddaughter #2 beamed like a little debutant as an amused entourage packed behind them.

Better than an escalator.

Nickelodean Stare Down









We grown-ups suggested real amusement park rides to avoid making the AG Doll’s worst customers list.  After zooming, swooping, spinning, and saying “no” to 375 pleas for SpongeBob SquarePants novelty items, my daughter and I suggested a dessert diversion. The girls chose cotton candy and then determined they liked my daughter’s and my ice cream better.  I stood my ground for about 15 seconds — until they found extra spoons.

The flawed fairy tale might have seemed a disappointment — if not for little boxes of table topics that grace the tables at the AG Doll Bistro.  One question: “What was your favorite childhood memory?”

My daughter and I reminisced about holidays past. Two of the granddaughters cited their birthdays.  But, soon-to-be-Escalator-Girl put her head on my shoulder and wistfully sighed, “THIS is MY favorite childhood memory.”

Seems the best memories don’t require perfect hair or even perfect harmony.


Strategic Spontaneity

We’re not sure how our oldest grandchild morphed into a social seven-year-old, but it caught us off-guard.  Her maturation snuck by us so quickly. To our hearts’ discontent — gasp — she now prefers playing with her friends over hanging with her grandparents.

We have two choices: 1.) wallow in self-pity, mourning the passing of the once-glorious moments she clung to our legs in worship or 2.) thank God for those memories and revel in her marvelous, normal development.

We chose Door #2.

Really, she hasn’t outgrown us.  She’s simply distracted.  Staying present amongst the diversions in our grandchildren’s  lives will simply require more creativity.  So, my husband and I formulated a strategic plan, incorporating  a tradition of semi-annual Grandpa and Grandma “dates” when each of our grandchildren will be the center of our universe.

We’ve only completed one Grandpa and Grandma Date and we’ve already determined that these modest events will soar among the highlights of our lives. 

During our first official date, our granddaughter (Ms. Social) selected dinner at A&W Root Beer and shopping as her excursion. She held our hands and skipped, often lifting her feet, so that we could swing her through the air. To encourage selflessness — and because children are starving in Bangladesh (we are cheapskates) — we took her to the dollar store to shop for her siblings. We worried she would consider us miserly.  Instead, she glowed, as if she had inherited a treasure. She carefully searched out the perfect stuffed animal for her toddler brother, an art apron for her pre-school sister, and window decals for her kindergartner sister.

She brought her own money to purchase eye glasses for her nearsighted doll.  We helped her do inventory of her pennies and nickels and Grandpa slipped in some extra change to cover her selection.

She declined amusement park rides, getting sidetracked by an ice cream/cookie sandwich.

When we dropped her off at her home she proudly distributed her gifts — a consolation for the formerly sad siblings who wanted to go on the first first date.

While we admired her admiring her bespectacled doll, Ms. Social whispered, “I love you, Grandma.  I love you, Grandpa.” This led me to skip–even though Grandpa couldn’t swing me when I lifted my feet.

Since then, we’ve decided to be proactive with our grown children and our friends as well — diligent in designing more quality interaction rather than hoping the moments will spontaneously occur.

911: The Universal Call to Action

Tragedy is not a typical topic for a blog about writing for children.  But, since today is the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, it seems only right to reflect and grow.  There’s no escaping history and our children may need to talk about it.

During a recent tour of Washington, DC, on the way from the U.S. Air Force Memorial to Arlington Cemetery, our tour guide pointed out the bus window, “And, there is the Pentagon.  Note the section of limestone, lighter than the rest.  That is where American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the structure.  The benches on the grounds by the Pentagon are part of a memorial — each one signifying the loss of a life that day.”

Everyone in the bus grew pensive.

I’m sure you remember where you were that September morning.  I sat, oblivious, in a clinic waiting room. Then someone turned on the TV.  A year later, I spoke on behalf of our Chamber of Commerce at a city-wide memorial service.  I still have my decade-old notes:

Everything  changed on September 11. This horrendous event, meant to demoralize America and steal our faith, has indeed brought us to our knees.  But, little did our adversaries know that in our humblest moments, we are  strongest — when we can admit our need for God’s help and each other.

Isn’t it ironic that the numbers nine-eleven would hold significance to our adversaries as a number which would inspire them to do harm? In America, nine-one-one is the universal call to positive action, when we are called to help and care for each other.

Misguided men meant to change our country in a negative way — to tear us apart. Yes, we were changed, but not in the way they had hoped.  They’ve taken our pride and we’ve traded pride for wisdom.  They’ve taken our indifference and we’ve traded indifference for compassion.  They’ve taken our ingratitude and we’ve traded ingratitude for appreciation — a deep appreciation for the great country in which we live. They’ve taken a part of our hearts, but hearts regenerate.  The more we give of our hearts, the more our hearts grow.  Our adversaries have enlarged America’s heart to strengthen our love for one another. Yes, we have been changed — for the better.  Because, we are not the Solo States of America, we are the United States of America, one nation, under God, indivisible… May God bless America. (End of notes.)

Let’s talk with our kids today.  If we don’t have the words, Martin Luther King Jr. does: