Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Yesterday was the day my son died.

    It's amazing how even after fourteen years, strange things happen, reminding me that my boy who died is still out there, watching.
    I got remarried. January of last year, we bought a house in Idaho (of all places), and our family seemed hopeful as we brought load after load into the house.  But after all of the kids had gone to sleep, my husband and I stood on the deck alone.  "What's wrong?" he asked, standing behind me, then holding me in his strong arms.  I leaned closer to him--he felt so warm in contrast to the wind.
    "We've gone through so many changes in a short amount of time.  And I was just thinking about the day Zeke died--it's coming soon, but his grave is so far away.  I always visit his grave on January 30th, but I don't think I'll get to this year."
    Mike stroked my hair. "We'll figure something out.  Okay, sweetheart?"
    I looked up at him and nodded.
    The next day I opened the book I wrote about Zeke, and read a few chapters of the journal.  I remembered the whole damn thing: his little hand holding mine, the way my world collapsed the day he died, and all of the strange miracles that followed--including how a dear friend gave me a statue, having no idea that it looked just like Zeke. 
   That statue is shown on the book (below).

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    I packed the book away, and called all of my children upstairs.  "Mike will be home in a while.  Do you guys want to go for a walk? Then we can come back and make dinner?"
    They immediately grabbed their coats, and we trekked to a nearby, snowy place where the deer like to go.  My two littlest kids explored and played.  Walking around the perimeter of the area, The Scribe and The Hippie talked about their new schools and friends.  And I, well, I sat on a rock and listened.
    Sometimes, there can be this deep ache in my heart.  Like when all of the kids are in the car, and I turn around because it feels like someone is missing....  And someone is. And, he always will be.
    It's like going sky diving.  When you fall from that plane, there's nothing to support you--like tripping down an endless stairway, down, down.... All that you really have is your faith in God--and that's how it was when Zeke died.
    "God, I'm nervous that we moved to another state. And I feel bad that I won't get to visit Zeke's grave on the day he died. I sure wish you could give me a sign that everything will be okay."
    The kids were ready to go, so I called them over and said we should head back.
    The Hippie came over first.  "Mama, what are you thinking about?"
    "How crazy life is," I said.
    "You're thinking about Zeke!" she said. "I saw you reading the book.  Mama, whatever happened to that statue on the cover?"
    "It broke a few years ago.  I was so sad.  I'd never seen a statue like it--and probably never will again. That statue was one of the miracles that happened after he died."
     The rest of the kids came back and we started walking home.
    "What do you mean?" she asked.  "How was the statue a miracle?"
    "Well, it looked so much like Zeke.  But that wasn't the real miracle."  I smiled at my kids, then continued.  "My neighbor gave the statue to me...said she had this crazy feeling that she had to. I was so sad back then, but her kindness was a life-saver for me."  I took a deep breath. "No matter how hard life can be, there are miracles of kindness all around, if we're willing to see them. And those miracles can help us get through."
    We trudged up the long hill leading to our house, and just when we were about to take a turn around the bend, The Hippie put her hands to her face.  "Oh my gosh, Mama. Look!"  She pointed to a yard just to the side of us.
    "It's Zeke's statue!" The Scribe said, stunned. "We were just talking about that."
    And all of the kids crowded around a tiny statue, identical to the statue that had meant so much to me years before. It rested at the edge of a snowy yard, facing the mountains, and looking quite magestic.
    For some reason tears came to my eyes.  This was my sign.  We'd be just fine in Idaho; I didn't know exactly how, but we would be.  

   Our love will tie us. I'll never lose you. I'll never lose you....

Monday, January 30, 2017

Common Kindness--Love Dispels Fear

    There's a sweet family who lives near me, and they're quite reserved. The mother of the house stood out on her porch one day as I went to check my mail. And just as I waved to her, "a walker"--you know one of those crazy people who walks even in 2-degree weather--came up to me.
    "How can you wave to her?  I, for one, am very scared of that family."
    I felt so much rage boil inside of me.  How can racism still be so prevalent in our society?  I just stared at the "walker," then turned to the sweet woman from Iraq, the lady who still stood on her porch.  "I've been wanting to ask you something." I began walking to her porch, and still talking very loudly said, "Would you like to come over for lunch?"
    The beautiful woman blinked a couple of times, studied my features as if searching for true sincerity, then accepted.
    As I turned back to my house, the "walker" glared at me, and nearly slipped on some ice as she began trekking away.  Good riddance!
     The thing that gets me about the "walker" is that she's tried being so nice to me--quite welcoming in fact; cooked me muffins, invited me to girls' night. She's talked about being religious and how she's trying her hardest to do the right things and live the right way. But like a miser on a hill who believes they have all the answers, she's missing a lot about life.
    I SUCK at religion, and even I knew the way she treated the family on the corner was ridiculous.
    So, the woman from Iraq came over.  We were quiet at first, but soon we had so much to talk about.  We laughed and joked.  She has a bunch of kids, and I have four.  As the lunch went on, I found myself surprised that we really did have so much in common.  It wasn't until the end of the meal that I almost got teary-eyed.
    "I had to quit my job," she said.
    "Really? Why?"
    "The people at the daycare.  Well, they were treating my kids really badly because we aren't from here. My littlest son was having nightmares about them.  Then the kids told him he wasn't allowed to be around the other children, and he should go back to where he belongs."  Her voice shook.  Her beautiful eyes glanced down.  And I didn't know what to do.  "So, I quit my job. And now I stay home with the kids. It's probably better that way--even though sometimes hard things happen at school too."
    I gave her a piece of pie, because I freakin' didn't know what else to do.  She smiled seeing my gesture, and let out a little, darling laugh.
    "Thank you for having me over."
    "Are you kidding!  This is one of the best conversations I've had since we moved to Idaho. It's so nice just talking with another mom who I can relate to."  I took a deep breath, and thought about everything she was going through. There have been some bullies at school, and my kids have definitely met them.  But I couldn't imagine having to protect my kids from the cruel words they might hear from other people every day.  And it wasn't just the cruel words from children, it was the cruel words AND actions from adults.
     She finished her pie and then before leaving, she said, "This was wonderful."  Then she practically floated out the front door--so graceful it stunned me. Cold wind and snow swept into my front room.  I watched her walking toward her house, her taffeta-like dress switching back and forth in the wind. 
    I don't pray as much as I should, but I did then.  I prayed things would get easier for that family, and I thanked God for the fact that--once more--I gotten to know someone who had changed the way I see things.
    Inviting someone to lunch shouldn't be a big deal, but a small action of kindness isn't always so small to those who need it.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has to do with punishment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

Friday, January 27, 2017

I finally wrote another book! A STRANGER'S KINDNESS

    Love can carry us through all of this. It doesn't age. Its back doesn't go out. It doesn't get arthritis, or need a motor. It doesn't lose its hearing or become forgetful. It is what keeps on when the years get late and our hair is grey. It’s what can heal and buoy us through anything. I want to be old with you, yes, but I want to feel young with you forever.
    I finished reading the words and found myself speechless. I was a single mother, yet this selfless bachelor had come into my life, and he had literally changed everything.... I'd never known a love like this.

Coming February 27th, 2017.

    If you're interested, here's the link to add it to your Goodreads "to read" list:
 photo asktoread_zpswh3stfsz.jpg

I'm so excited about this one.  

    And, I need to have some sort of giveaway for this release--and also because I just discovered I have over 300 ratings on Goodreads! 

329 ratings to be exact!
I'm a bit shocked--but sooo thrilled.
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    This past summer, I really felt down, and told myself it was useless to write anymore.  I have to say, it's so good to be doing what I love again.   
    I'm a writer--that's what I do. It might be on napkins, scraps of paper, and sometimes even my hands, but I have to get it out, ya know? I may not write what some people like to read, but I need it for myself.  Writing is as natural as loving my kids, or needing nature.  And for those who do like my stories, that means the world to me.  
    Thank you to everyone who's shared kind words and support--you really helpd me get through a rocky patch.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Doctor and a Load of Money

   Dr. Jones, my little girl who's in first grade, was so happy when I picked her up from school last night.  She'd taken her hair out; it dwarfed her body, hanging in these huge, spastic curls all around her face and torso.  She practically bounced into the truck, then smiled kindly at her twelve-year-old sister.  "Hippie, I wanted to see you!"
    The Hippie smiled back, and I thought momentarily how much they'd look alike if The Hippie had staticky brown hair instead of straight blonde. 
    "Would you like to go to the gas station?" Dr. Jones said in her high, sweet voice.  "I have some money, and I'd really like to buy you something."
   "Well, sure."  The Hippie seemed genuinely moved until a strange thought must have come to her. She paused before turning quizzically to her little sister.  As they stared at each other in the back seat, I felt as if watching one of those westerns, where two gunslingers meet at high noon, and have a freakin showdown.  I could almost smell the dust swirling around, feel the adrenaline of life on the edge, taste the scent of horses who were ready to ride into the sunset...
    My kids--who apparently had entered a stare-off in the car, and were completely oblivious to my daydream--those kids remained quiet for an eternity. All I heard was the clunking of my engine, which has surprisingly good rhythm, 250,000 miles, and a mind all its own.  
    "I thought you were broke," The Hippie finally said to her sister. "Where...did you get the money."
   "Oh, this?" Dr. Jones pulled a five-dollar bill from her fluffy pink backpack. She held the money in her chubby hands, like Gollum fondling the ring of doom.  "This is the money I stole from you. So that's why I want to buy you something with it, since it used to be yours and everything."
    "Ummm, what?!"  The Hippie's eyes widened, and her eyebrows ascended so high, I thought she'd gotten an electric shock. "Dr. Jones, rule number one: you should never steal. Rule number two: if you do steal, you should never tell anyone--especially the person you've stolen from."
    "I don't get it," Dr. Jones smiled, super sweetly.
    "You've done it all wrong. That's all I'm saying.  Stealing is all wrong."
    "But rule number two, if I hadn't told you, THAT would be better?" 
    "Yes--I mean..." The Hippie paled. "No." Then she looked at my reflection in the rearview mirror and held up her hands like she didn't know what to do.
    "I might have stolen your money, and I might have watched you look for it for a really long time, but at least I told you about it. That WAS pretty great of me," Dr. Jones said.
    "Ahh! I want my money back!"  
    Dr. Jones tapped me on the shoulder. "Mama?"
    "Yeah. It's her money," I said. "Stealing is wrong. You really need to give it back."
    "Okay." Dr. Jones conceded, and slower than a receding hairline, handed the money to her sister.  "Glad. THAT'S. Over...," Dr. Jones said. "Anyway, Hippie, since you have cash, you wanna take me to the gas station?"
    "No!" The Hippie shook her head, flabbergasted.
    "Why not?  When I had money, I was going to take you."

    Yes...and I wanted to laugh at several points during this whole interlude.  Parenthood: I'd like to say I'm great at it, but today, I'd give myself an F-minus!
Until next time,

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Veteran in a Truck Stop

    I stood in the truck stop, debating over which kind of candy bar to get.  And I'm not sure why it was such a huge decision, but it was. They had Snickers with nuts, without nuts, crunchy, less-crunchy--Butterfingers that look like Reese's--Reese's that don't look like Reese's--suckers with freakin' worms in them! Anyway, have you been to the candy aisle, lately?  It's INSANE. 
    Before long, I lost interest in the candy, and had somehow noticed nearly every around me. Because...I get distracted.
    An older lady with gray hair stood trying on different sunglasses, she gazed at herself in the mirror in smiled in all of these different ways.  A young mother and father bossed their toddlers around, telling them not to touch ANYTHING--good luck.  There were many, many more people around, but the most intriguing was an elderly veteran who stood on one side of the store and a young dark-skinned woman by the check out.  The woman kept glancing at the man, and her attention drew mine to him as well.
    The veteran looked tired, weary in a sort of way that I can only imagine.  Big bags bulged under his eyes.  He limped, using a gnarled cane for support.  Yet as he walked past various people, he smiled at each one.  I knew he was a veteran because of the jean jacket he wore--it had all sorts of details about his past sewn onto it: various badges, pictures of planes, something about years of service.  I continued watching him, and so did the young woman across the store, even as she checked out and purchased a hat.  I thought she'd leave after that, but she didn't.
    She walked gracefully toward the veteran, long arms and legs moving like rippling water. Her black hair descended past her shoulders and I couldn't help staying captivated--there was something so intriguing about this woman, not just how beautiful she was, but WHO she was.
    She glided across the store and stopped right in front of the elderly man.  He tensed for just a moment, almost seeming nervous. "Can I help you?" he asked.
    "You already have," she said, opened the bag and handed him the hat she'd just purchased. "Thank you for your years of service.  People might not tell you all of the time, but you are so very appreciated."  Then she turned, and like a light snuffed out amid a dimly lit room, she was gone.
    The old man shakily straightened out the hat and put it on his head.  It was his turn to go stand where the gray-haired woman had been earlier, pulling all of those strange faces at herself in the mirror.  But the veteran didn't pull odd faces, instead he looked at his reflection, tipped the hat a little to the left, and wiped a few tears from his eyes.
    A lady whom I hadn't even noticed next to me said, "Wow. That was amazing to watch."
    "It really was."  
    Age, race, gender, all of that crap aside, I had witnessed the kindness of one human to another.  So often we get caught up in the facade of life. How much better would our world be, if more people were like that woman, real examples of God on earth. 
    I could've been a giver that day--really, as I watched everyone, but instead I'd stood debating over which candy bar to get myself.  Some people are such freakin' misers!
    As I finally decided on my "Oh, Henry" bar, I walked up to the cashier who had a bazillion piercings and all sorts of tattoos. And I thought about how even though I don't look as cool as that cashier, God's love for us is the same. The woman earlier had shown His love; I sure wish I did that more often.

Signing Off,
A non-religious person who loves God and candy

Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Boy and a Backhanded School Report

    Last week, my son (The Zombie) came home and said he was writing a report all by himself.
    "Okay, if you need any help, you'll let me know?"
    He nodded, went to his room, and shut the door.
    This must have been one heck of a report--since when is he excited about homework?  
    After a half hour, I placed some cheese and crackers on a plate and knocked on his door.  "Zombie?" I went inside. All sorts of "inventions" are in his room--these consist of beautiful trinkets I've left around the house, rubberbands, toothpicks, washcloths, gum, Q-tips, plastic cups, and even parts of his little sisters' "old" toys.  I recently read FRANKENSTEIN, and I really GOT that story, because I live with an inventor--they're freakin' awesome.
    Anyway, I set the cheese and crackers on the bed next to where The Zombie rested on his stomach with his feet high up in the air.  "What's your report on?" I asked.
    "I'm supposed to write about the person who's impacted my life the most."  He smiled up at me so darling, and I just knew this would be about me.  "I'll be reading it to my class!  Maybe I can read it to you tomorrow after you're home from work?"
    "Sure, buddy. I'd love that."
    And for a whole freakin' day I didn't walk places, I floated to them.  I sang, while I did the dishes. I hummed in the car.  I kept my songs to myself at work--because I like my job--but I did sing in the parking lot--haha!
    And when I got home the next night, I could hardly wait to hear his report.  But our dog Abby barred my way, and I kept telling her, "I need to talk with The Zombie!  My gosh, you're going to trip me."  That big oaf is a Doberman.  She's adorable, BUT she's an attention hog.  I'm not a doctor, and I don't want to sound like I've looked into this too much, but THAT DOG may have...a histrionic personality disorder that affects her personal-butt-licking and social life.
    Anyway...more about her, later.
    My son decided to bring the report out for everyone to hear.  My three other children and I crowded around the kitchen table.  I felt momentarily sad that Mike, my husband, had to work, because I'd love for him to hear a report from our son, about how I'm his favorite.
    "Quiet down, children," I crooned.  "The Zombie has something he'd like to say."
     "The person who's impacted my life the most." He cleared his throat.  "She's always there for me. She always loves me.  Even if I'm mean, she's still nice. When I have a hard time, she makes sure I'm better.  She won't even leave, until she knows I'm okay."
    I puffed up at this point.  You know, being a parent is hard, but in that moment I felt so appreciated.  Had someone finally noticed that I'm a gem?  "Go on." I motioned so kindly to him.  "You can keep reading."
   "She's beautiful, and hairy. She's reminds me of a bear."
   What the hell!  At this point, my train of thought fell off a cliff.  I was drawing a blank.  Hairy?  My lord, I shave nearly every day. And I'm not ninety--to the point where I have random hairs sticking from every hole in my face.
    And my son didn't even seem concerned.  Then he finished his report with, "She's changed my life in every way. I love her so very much. She's Abby our dog."  And he set down his paper, completely bypassed me--AND HUGGED that hairy narcissist.
    My three girls giggled so hard, and The Scribe said, "Oh my gosh, guys.  Mom, thought it was about her!  Oh, she's so sad."
    I donned my best I-didn't-just-get-punched-in-the-six-pack face, and smiled broadly.  "Did not."
    "Did too," The Scribe said.
    I was pretty sad--but I wouldn't let them see me cry.  So I made dinner, put the kids to bed--even made sure Abby was set up on her dog bed in The Zombie's room--and was just about to go to bed myself, when I saw four little notes on my pillow.  They each had a single sentence on them, but they meant the world to me.

    You're the best mom ever. Love, The Scribe
    I like you and Abby. The Zombie

    You're amazing. Love, The Hippie

   And the last one, in huge print said: 
Mama + Me = Love
  I hugged each note so hard and smiled.  Maybe the report hadn't been about me, but I still knew my kids loved me--and they also know how very much I love them. In the ends, that's what matters anyway. Oh and that our dog IS amazing.  

Time to stop being so jealous of our dog,

Monday, January 23, 2017

How to Cheat at Cards--The Right Way

    The Zombie Elf (my eight-year-old boy) and Doctor Jones (my six-year-old girl) spend absolutely all of their free time together.  
    Not much has changed from when they were babies. You can read about that HERE: http://ecwrites.blogspot.com/2011/07/doctor-jones-and-sucker-raid.htm
    But lately they've been playing cards.  The Zombie is honorable and abides by the rules, but he always loses, because when he isn't looking, Dr. Jones switches up the cards and stacks the deck.  That's why I was so nervous when I heard that her 1st grade class would be having a card day with students and parents.  I just knew everyone would find out my baby is a hustler!
    I visited her classroom last Thursday. All of the kids there looked like angels, they'd be easy for her to hustle!
    I sat in front of her desk and she began dealing the cards like a vetran straight from Vegas. A couple of parents looked at her and blinked hard.  "Wow," a woman who resembled Cindy Lou Who said, "isn't she good!"
    "I've been practicing," Dr. Jones said.  Wasn't that the truth!  And we were just about to start playing, when Dr. Jones glanced over and saw a kid sitting forelornly at his desk.  "Hang on, Mama," she said. Then she walked over to his desk.  "Jeff, your mom didn't come again?" 
    He nodded. 
    "That's it, you're playing with us!"  She pulled another chair over to her desk and made him sit down. 
    I prayed then, "Please don't let her cheat, God. This boy is already having a tough enough day as it is!
    Dr. Jones dealt the cards with disturbing accuracy, and we played.  The point was to get as many tens and pairs of tens as you could--in an effort to teach the kids addition.  We played and played, and Jeff was really falling behind.
    "Don't worry," I said. "This just might be your lucky day."
    "It's not my lucky day. I'm not the one who's mom showed up...."
    Dr. Jones frowned with resolve. "Time to up the stakes," she said, because she freakin' remembers AND COPIES everything I say. 
    She let Jeff deal the cards this time.  "Your turn, Mama!"
    I played. Then it was the doc's turn, but when she saw her cards, her eyes went big.
    "It's your turn," Jeff said.
    "Sorry, I'm planning my next move.  Give me a sec."
    We waited and waited.  Dr. Jones kinda kept on eye on Jeff the whole time.  I wondered what in the heck would happen, until Jeff set his cards face down on the table, and turned to look boredly around room.
   As he faced the other direction, Dr, Jones, flipped three of her cards over so I could see them--three 10s, she'd win for sure--then she slid them into his cards on the table, trading him.
    "Your turn," she said.
    He turned back around lazily, and yawned. "What's the point.  I never win at anything."  Then he looked at his cards.  The kid was golden, glowing with pure joy.  He even got some attitude, dancing as he placed all the 10s faceup on the table. "You're right! My luck is changing."
    He won that game and two more after.  And just before I left, he gave Dr, Jones, a birthday invitation. 
    "We weren't friend before," he said. "But I figure we should be friends now."
    That night at the house, Dr. Jones was so happy.  "I did a nice thing. I didn't want to get anything out of it, but instead, I got a new friend."
    I hugged her so tight. "YOU are a sweetheart,"I said.
    "I told you," she said, "cheating isn't ALWAYS bad."
    I rested my face in my hand and shook my head. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sibling Rivalry and The One True Test

There's this refreshing thing called...THE TRUTH. And I'm gonna give it to ya.  If someone tells you their kids are perfect or they don't really have problems, they're lying.  They either have a shock waiting down the road, or their kids aren't honest with them.  That's what I told myself anyway after my two oldest kids had just said they hated each other.
    We sat on my bed and they each held three sheets of paper and a pencil.
    "Okay, did you finish the first question?" I asked.  They were supposed to write down if they'd ever done something nice for each other, and if so, what it had been.  "Question number two, this is for your second piece of paper, if you could do anything fun with your sister, what would that be?"
    They wrote so quickly, immediately knowing the answer, and I found myself surprised.
    The thing about The Scribe and The Hippie is that they are complete opposites.  The Scribe is punctual and goal-driven.  She leaves for high school extremely early, just to account for weather, and bad drivers.  Meanwhile, The Hippie is the most carefree person on earth.  "Late, what do you mean, we're late?" she'll say.  Then she'll saunter around, slowly gathering her backpack, her coat.  Then she'll gently, ever so gracefully pull on one sock, then the other.  Meanwhile The Scribe has balled fists and a red face--she's about to stomp on the ground, explode with pure nerves....  Yes, these are my oldest children.  And I, think it's sort of hilarious--I know I'm not supposed to say that. 
    They're the perfect balance for each other. The Hippie teaches The Scribe how to let loose; The Scribe teaches her sister how to be responsible.
    "One more questions, for your third paper," I said. "What's something you would say nice about your sister?"  This question took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. for them to answer. In fact, I became so freakin' bored, that I rested on my back and just started humming the Death March--because if they couldn't think of something nice to say, I might just die.
    "Done!" The Scribe said after almost all of my hair had turned gray. She placed her pencil perfectly on her stack of papers and sat straight.
    "Done!" The Hippie said, and threw her pencil onto her disheveled pile.  She sat--as straight as a politician.
    "Trade," I told them.  And write your thoughts underneath what you sister has said.  As soon as you're done, we'll read everything."
     Half the time--as a mother, and probably in life too--I feel like I'm flying blind.  There are all of these crazy choices, like, do I let them wear booty shorts, and how many chores SHOULD they be doing?  My grandma always told me people are either good at raising babies or teenagers.  What happens if I'm not perfect at either?!  Freakin' woe is me.
    I went and checked on my two youngest kids at this point.  And they were both, leaning into the bedroom door with their ears to it.  "You two!" I said, as they fell into the room. 
    "Mama," The Zombie Elf said, "I've decided something.  I never want to be a teenager. They are crazy."
    "Yeah," Dr. Jones, my six-year-old girl agreed, "they're super-weird."
    I set them up in the front room with pieces of moon (which please don't tell them, but it's cheddar cheese with cumin sprinkled on top--I think they already know it's not moon dust, but those givers pretend for my sake).  
    "So, let's do this." I went back into the bedroom and read the papers aloud.  "Number one: Have you ever done something nice for your sister?  Hippie, you wrote, she thinks she's being nice, but I'm not girly like she is, painting my nails, doing my hair, and giving me a facial, wasn't something I even wanted. That's what SHE likes!"    
    "And asking me to play basketball with you," The Scribe jumped in, "that was something nice?  You know I'm not into that."
    "So, how can we solve this?" I asked.
    "I guess I can try to play basketball," The Scribe mumbled.
    "Well, you could, but actually what you should both do is think of what the other person would like, before just doing something you want done for you. An ideas?"
    The Hippie had totally lit up, almost mischievously. "I could give The Scribe a facial! She'll never forget it. I'll--"
    "Hey, now.... That's a great idea, actually." I forced a smile. God help me. "You both get the point.  Think of the other person.  Okay, what was the next page?" I asked.  This whole flying blind stuff, really shows sometimes! 
    "If you could do anything fun with your sister, what would that be," The Scribe said.  "I put get a fancy drink and go shopping. She put play basketball and videogames."  She'd said this in such a freakin' monotone. I could tell...I was really...getting...through.
    "Are you two seeing a trend here? You're different.  You keep fighting so much because you expect...?"
    "I expect her to be just like me," The Hippie said.
    "And I want her to be like me," The Scibe admitted.
    "Well, here's what we're going to do.  You'll set up a day when both of you get to plan a date with each other.  But it has to be something your sister would want NOT what you want.  Got it?"
    They nodded.
    "Last page.  You know what, I'll let you read these out loud."  I swapped the papers and handed them back.
    The Scribe read, "The Scribe is one of the funniest people I know. Everyone likes being around her. She makes life really happy for everyone."  Then her eyes scanned down to what she'd written at the bottom. "I never knew The Hippie felt this way about me. I'm kinda surprised, but in a good way." She smiled at her sister.
   The Hippie held out her paper and read, "The Hippie is really smart and so good at everything. I miss when we got along when we were little." The Hippie took a deep breath. "I didn't expect that. I miss when we were little too, Scribe."