Archives for category: Times With Brooke

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Finish is worn revealing gentler wood tones, on the arm of the wooden chair, suggesting years of use. The wear clearly from a forearm larger than that of the youthful current inhabitant. More curious than her headwear is the activity of the girl seated at the table with stain and design matching the chair. A delicate finger traces the location where varnish has faded from years of use, as if through touch she can gain understanding of the man who occupies this spot in early morning hours sipping black coffee. Does she gain the knowledge which he received from hours spent in this very location, folding papers containing events of the world. Among them the sports section which always holds his attention slightly longer.

On this day Brooke has chosen the brown bowler, her favorite choice of hat, though she generally seems slightly more partial to the faded black one. The one with felt worn on brims edge, much like the chairs arm, from years of repeated touch. It was a gift from grandfather, he had carried it on the long flight back from England, since it was sizes too small for him but a perfect fit for the little girl whom it strangely reminded him of that rainy day he spotted it through milky glass in the second hand store. This derby would start a collection of many including the brown one donned at the moment. There are the other hats and caps of all styles but by the sure number of days worn, all would agree that bowlers are the definite favorite of young observer.

Taking the seat next to younger sister causes her to look up casting a slight smile with always slightly blushed lips. Returning the smile, I resists the urge to glance away from gentle eyes. Brooke’s eyes hold secrets that have always for me been best observed in small doses. This day I take in all the emotion, love, warmth and passion that exudes from her. A slight tilt of head and scrunching of her noses suggests I should speak, asking me what I’m thinking.

“Brooke what are you doing?”, I ask my sister who I’d watched for some time seated in fathers chair, gently touching the arm worn by his use.

The yellow tablet is pulled close words are placed on it in looping perfect cursive. When thoughts are complete it is slid on the table in my direction. “Talking to Dad, I miss him.”

Six words simple and clear lead me to questions, rather than the answer I believed to be seeking. What do you mean miss him, I think to myself. After all father left for his days work less than two hours ago and as always he will be home before dinner is eaten together. Above the words written for me on the tablet is the evidence of the conversation Brooke and Dad had while he drank morning coffee, so why talking to him?

Brookelyn, now returned to herself and conversation with father, gently rubs the place where his arm hours before rested. Slowly standing in attempt to find my answers in her own fashion rather than mine, I close my eyes. Brooke’s face is soft beneath the gentle touch of my hand as I trace it’s curves, memorizing her form. Slightly damp lips kiss my palm and in my mind I hear the voice of an angel, “I love you too” are the words spoken.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Tender notes fill the room. My mind wonders to distant lands, New Orleans or a bay out west. Places romanticized by novels read, travelers from times long past and of course film. The melody of the record spinning on the turntable which is housed in stereo that speaks of another time, holds me to reality. We could own the finest Bose stereo and the records of our grandparents would still be played on this one that is more furniture than electronics equipment. Brooke insists that music is best when in its intended form, a true record. She of course has an iPod and downloads music of many styles and eras. However, Brookelyn’s favorites are on vinyl.

My eyes open slowly at the gentle touch of sister’s finger to my lips. Looking up from the sofa into Brooke’s pretty face, I offer a smile, to ensure that as always her unusual methods of gaining my attention are appreciated. She quickly signs that she would like my help this morning with the duties in the barn and caring for the horses. Knowing it has little to do with the work that she enjoys but instead is an opportunity she has chosen to spend with me I quickly agree.

Stepping into the cool shadows of the barn behind our home I’m saddened remembering that at Brooke’s age I fought with our parents about doing these tasks, which sister does without so much as a request. To escape self-ridicule I talk to Brooke about traveling, the wonders that foreign places must surely hold. Shovels scrape concrete floors clean with metallic sound, followed by the spray of water that completely clears the stall floors. The whole time I talk of piers, ships sailing far away and adventures neither sister have known. Brookelyn listens acknowledging my words with smiles and at times nods of head. She works slower than normal, allowing me to handle my share of the duties that have long fallen on her precious shoulders.

The bay which Brooke most rides tries to be near her, nosing her hair that hangs bellow the bowler covering her head. Like everyone who knows Brookelyn, Shane does his best to be as close to her as possible. She meets his gesture of love with a gentle blow of breath from between soft lips into his face, then pats the horse who persists on. Once Shane’s area is cleaned Brooke hops over the railing, he turns and exits to the open arena outside his stall. Failing to occupy his loves attention, he has retreated to his peers company, to recoup for another attempt in the future. Feed laid out, barn clean and tended we exit into the sunshine, my eyes taking a moment to adjust to the worlds brightness.

“Brooke, where do you most want to go?” I ask drifting back to dreams of ports, bridges and romantic locations.

Bright eyes meet mine as, “into the house to get a drink, then back out to saddle Shane and go for a ride. Want to come?” is signed in response.

Sitting in familiar saddle, I watch Shane give a slight snort in approval as Brooke mounts. My little sister in perfect riding posture leads the way out of the barn across sunny pasture, opening the bays gate into a slight gallop. Oceans, adventures and travels are forgotten, my heels gesture the horse beneath me to do his best to catch that which at the moment Shane has achieved, Brooke’s attention and favor.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Wild grass covers the small field, which is inclosed by a wooden fence, in front of our home. A dirt and gravel drive leads to a blacktop road that can not be seen from the wooden porch. Five chairs, two of them being the type that rock, are perfect places to find yourself for relaxation, conversation, or to view the day. Perched in the other piece of furniture, a wooden swing, the slight breeze sways me gently. Far across the field a shadow moves, the young mare lifts her head for a moment, then upon recognizing the shadows form returns to chewing natures gifts. As often is the case familiarity brings comfort and ease.

Making way through the pasture, from my location the shadow soon gains form. Sun glistens on golden hair, that hangs loosely beneath a worn derby. The bowler hat would be out of place to the scene if not for the individual wearing it. The derby is just one of many unique bits of fashion Brooke uses as headware. A fly-rod rests on her shoulder, catching the sun on eyelets on occasion, sending bright spots of light in my direction. From her walk it is apparent the creel over her left shoulder is not empty, but instead contains the morning catch.

Brooke is well beyond half way across the field when basket of fish and rod are placed on the ground as her arms are wrapped around the neck of the mare. A bit of her morning snack that she has saved for this moment is removed from her small pack. The horse gently eats the apple piece from my sisters palm. Unlike the mare I understand the strength of this gesture, apples are in fact Brooke’s favorite of all foods, a slice saved for an old friend is no small offering. Horse patted once more, gear is gathered from the ground, as fisherman continues home.

The screen gently taps door frame as father joins me on the porch. He has witnessed the scene from inside but can no longer keep glass between himself and that which he so loves. “Sometimes I wish that youth, innocence, wisdom, tenderness and beauty was my own,” Dad almost whispers.

“It is.” I respond in the same tone.

“I may have had a slight hand in creating her but she is not mine. Brooke belongs to no one, barely even to this world. What I meant however was that I wish, I was more like her.”

The words of father could be my own. It’s not that I want to be like Brooke, who my father is now holding the wooden gate for, it’s more a want to know what it’s like to see things as she does for just a moment. Brookelyn tips the bowler and smiles at Dad holding the gate open, they walk together up to the porch before she sees me in the shadows. A huge smile comes across her face as creel is handed to father. For a moment, before she reaches into her pack I believe she is proud of her catch. Of course humility being one of her stronger qualities I quickly realize the smile is for me, as a slightly dusty hand offers me a slice of apple pertected from the dust by white handkerchief.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Standing in cap gown on the green grass that my feet have covered during so many practices and lacrosse games, it doesn’t feel real. High School is over, I’ve been accepted at State and should be excited. Yet a melancholy his filled my body all day. My friends are triumphant, they should be, we made it. The accumulation of four years of last minute studying, homework frantically completed before class and of course so much more, is behind us. The laughs, tears, first loves, heartbreaks, close calls and all that we believe to be the biggest moments of our lives. Some of what we’ve done may impact us forever, most was just inflated by our importance of self. None of this accounts for my mood.

Caps fly hi to cheers and youthful whoops. The one that had been pinned to my hair by my mother is of course among them. I have the diploma in leather binder tucked beneath my arm, hugs and congratulations for the scholarship that was announced naming me as recipient are given. My father is taking pictures of me and my friends. My smile is huge, a mask of the true somber tones of this occasion.

One figure in a white dress covered in yellow daisies, symbolic of the purity of the girl wearing it, sits in the now vacated bleachers alone. A setting sun casts a glow around her, fitting her angelic beauty. I quickly try to imagine her in a year sitting there with friends cheering on the football team. Or in five standing on the field in a gown much like the one I am covered in. As I get closer I see she has a sketch book in her hands. I ask if I can see what she is drawing to which I simply get a gesture of no. The sketches are too preliminary to share, they are just for reference, the painting will be given to me on her only visit to see me during my freshman year.

Embracing Brooke my tears that fall down onto her back are matched by her own dampening my shoulder. This is not only a day of recognized accomplishment but a day marking childhood being left behind. She is happy for me in regards to that which I’ve completed but we know in a few short months the room we have always shared will only house one.

As my first summer home from college draws shorter, I’m reminded of graduating and again slightly feeling a familiar meloncholy. I asked Brooke today if she was excited for her freshman year of High School. Dreamy eyes looked at me as she signed, “not really, it means your going away again.”

-Brooke’s Sister

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Paintings and photographs hang from the walls, that enclose what becomes home when full of the love our family shares. There is the one of the ship in a turmoil tossed sea. The endless photographs of family, many of our parents clear favorite, Brooke and me. The painting of our grandparents farm house. It is a work done by an uncle or distant cousin, which I am no longer sure but once could have said. In the kitchen a scene depicts chickens in a dusty yard. My favorite, a portrait, painted by an artist of some renown hangs in the family room against the wall farthest from the fireplace.

Brooke spends hours recreating the paintings with her own hands. Then she moves on to creations of her own, some from mind, others from items in sight. As we grow up, slowly first works of art, then photographs are replaced by pieces in frames father has built in the barn with his wood working tools. The tools with different edges of metal and handles worn shiny and smooth from first grandfathers and now his hands. Mother selects which works of my sisters art replace which others in our home. Until finally the house resembles a museum of dedication to the youngest child. Walls in every room finally full, paintings are swapped when Brooke believes the newest creation is of finer quality. A few of my parents favorites are never touched or moved, others find there way into hands of guests and are taken to new homes. Some are taken from the wall by their creator and placed back on easel and reworked or completely covered with something new. The kitchen has works of windmills in Dutch fields that none of our eyes have seen in person. Or is it now the market of some Mediterranean dream, they change in a pace that makes it difficult to be completely sure.

Where once my favorite portrait hung, a reproduction has taken its place. The reproduction is far superior, or perhaps I am biased in my viewing. The scent of linseed, gum and poppy oil rise from its fresh surface. On the sofa the artist, my sister sits, hands full of magic finding familiar place on a fret board create music only overshadowed by the paintings surrounding us. Inside me I shout, ‘put down that guitar and paint sister, always and forever you must paint!’ Out of respect for all that makes Brooke complete I stay silent.

For the first time in our lives the studying of that which covers our walls is done by the older sister. I memorize each pattern, color, the ridges left by brushes, smoothness created in other places. The magnificant tones that combine to make shadows.

In the attic neatly wrapped is photographs and paintings that once had places on our families walls but no longer have use or bearing. They are missed by no one, least of all myself, only barely remembered. I can’t say when the last one was removed to make space for something of Brooke’s. All I’m sure of is the current wealth of our walls is beyond any I will ever know.

-Brooke’s Sister

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These blog posts have not directly mentioned faith or our families belief system. When I wrote about young Brooke’s quest for forgiveness, purposefully I did not mention it was God she asked for it. There is no shame in our belief, nor do I deny the faith we have, it is more that this blog is not about debatable topics, or creating gaps between us and the world. The blog is simply to find and share Brooke’s voice.

In order to hold true to purpose, self and Brooke what I’m about to tell must be included. Be warned if you venture to read more of this post it is possible you may be offended, though I’m not asking you to believe or think anything. This is just an offer of how Brooke and now I see things. While Brookelyn and I are quite open minded and respect others beliefs this post is about Brooke’s. If you decide to read on I welcome any views and opinions.

The sound of the shower awakens anyone in the bed that is on the wall in Brooke and mines room that keeps our sleeping space separate from the bathroom. That is exactly why my bed is located where it is, an alarm clock that is minus the bells or chimes that tend to frustrate me. Opening my eyes, the first glimpse of sunlight is peering beneath the window coverings. Brooke’s bed is already empty, sheets neatly tucked, blanket smoothed and single pillow placed on top. Why she makes her bed the moment she steps out of it is as mysterious to me as the manner in which it’s done, pillow always uncovered. Brookelyn’s love for new days beginning is another source of pondering. This response to mornings much like a birds flight of migration, is just natural for the younger sister.

Before I have exited my bed Brooke is in the doorway brushing out hair that still drips, leaving spots on the floor. A white dress covers her delicate frame, showing areas of dampness that she felt no compulsion to completely dry. No matter how many times I talk to her about drying off, like getting up early, Brooke has her way. In this case it is to somewhat drip dry. This is a curious choice, almost at odds with her tidy neatness in most other matters.

In the backseat, with our bellies full of oatmeal, my voice tells Brooke about the cute boy that just joined my class in school. She listens watching the fields of our neighbors pass by as we make our way towards church. Brooke always seems to be at her happiest but a little dreamy on church mornings. It’s the only time she does not carry a tablet and pen. Rarely does she sign anything but mostly she simply smiles in her silence, owning it in a way that is almost honoring the quiet.

Exiting church, the day has warmed and promises afternoon adventures, maybe a horse back ride or something just as exciting. On the way home we stop off, Mom needs an item to complete Sunday dinner, the meal of the week we almost always share with guests. Brooke and I wonder the isles of the market, containing sweets. The new boy from class to my surprise stands at the end of the isle. Blue jeans and a t-shirt cover his athletic frame, the sort that promises he is adept at putting a ball in a hoop or running down a fly in the field. Unlike my nature I offer only a shy wave. My gesture is met with a greeting as he approaches us.

He acts surprised that I have a younger sister and blunders with words when I explain she isn’t being shy or rude but instead that Brooke is mute. I can tell that he is full of questions but then he awkwardly suggests a phrase like, “that’s cool”. Leading to an even greater awkward silence, after all it isn’t really cool. Brokkelyn, use to these encounters changes the subject with a smile and by signing to me that it is in fact cool. I vocally translate the signed words and as kids do in certain moments we genuinely laugh with no need for humor. Our new friend steps back, he is surprised that her laugh is silent as well. In his defense at times even I am startled by this. Quickly I explain she is inaudible, unable to make vocal sounds, adding that it’s not a hearing, mental or social issue.

As comfort enters the encounter he inquires why we are in dresses, the type one may wear to a wedding. My explanation of church leads to a response that I had never imagined.

“Oh, you are those kind of people,” the young man says rolling his eyes.

“What does that mean? Calling us ‘those kind of people’,” I respond with slight contempt in my voice. I’m irritated and in that period of life when I’d fight just as quickly as explain myself.

“Just you believe in the whole God thing, it’s dumb,” he replies.

I’m about to tell him he is dumb and to punch him in the eye when out of nowhere Brooke hugs him and takes my hand leading me towards the exit of the store. She waives over her shoulder with a smile as we exit. Shock has kept me as silent as my sister as we climb in the backseat and wait with Dad for Mom to return.

In the comfort of our home, shock faded and irritation at a max, I tell our parents of the event and rant about the stupid boy, that I’d once crushed on. Mom offers the advice mothers often do, Dad praises Brooke but admits he can’t understand the hug. Brookelyn sits at the small table writing on her yellow tablet. When completed she passes her words to my father who reads them allowed, putting answers to questions that my young mind had yet to even ask.

“I hugged him because I felt sad for him. Not believing in something doesn’t not make it real. Not knowing God would make me sad, so I was worried he was sad and hugs help when you are sad. I didn’t want Sissy to argue with him cause God doesn’t like arguing. Also if you know something to be true you don’t need others to agree with you. You only need others to agree if you aren’t sure and I didn’t want Sissy to not be sure. God loves him and I thought Sissy was going to hit him. I don’t really care about him but God doesn’t like mean things and I didn’t want Sissy to need forgiveness.”

Brooke’s words read, we shared a family moment in her silence before my Dad said, “Well I suppose that sums it all up. If Mom can spare some time from the kitchen I can saddle the horses and we can all enjoy the beautiful day.”

Watching Brooke climb onto the English saddle she insists upon using, it was clear to me that my sisters faith is as unwavering as all her other quirks, like not completely drying off after showers, formal riding saddles for casual rides, beds made crisply with pillows uncovered, interesting somewhat inappropriate headware, and silent Sunday mornings.

-Brooke’s Sister

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I didn’t write a Fathers Day post, because I feel that in sharing Brooke with the world and finding her voice, it will be clearly seen how special our father is to us. We did have a special day for Dad, a day just for him. Brookelyn and I made him breakfast and spent the day with him. This in itself is not rare. What set the day apart from many was us initiating the activities and planning them with the hope he would feel our love. We love him everyday and spend time with him as well, though he often plans and initiates what we do together.

Dads impact on us can be seen in our interests, actions and hopefully our character. There is the fly-fishing Brooke enjoys and of course me playing lacrosse and soccer. What stands out the most as a direct impact from father is hockey.

Brooke smiles at me pulling the familure white and brown jersey over her head. She prefers the one that ties at the neck, the Brown Bears no longer don this style it has been replaced with the model I’m wearing. On toes, my sister bounces down the stair case receiving a glance from Mom, informing her she is in direct violation of indoor speed limits. Brooke’s hair pulled back and tied with a ribbon, matching in color to the rich chocolate of the trim on her jersey. Her pace, perfect coordination of color, disregard for rules of movement in our home and Moms allowance of the misconduct, are telling signs of the importance of AHL hockey in Hershey.

The chill of the air can be seen on Brooke’s flushed cheeks. A beanie now covers most of her hair that had been so neatly tied with the ribbon. A remnant of a snack eaten between second and third period breaks up the white of her jersey. Her eyes are glued to the action on the ice, though tonight the Bears lead by more than a couple goals as the closing seconds tick away. She hasn’t signed or written a word since the first puck drop, like our father she is focused on the game.

Later Brooke will write to me, telling me about the new forward dropping his hands on a break away, telling the goalie where the puck was headed. She will also ask if I noticed the young defender from Ontario, his strength, agility and aggression. All signs according to Brooke that we should enjoy him while we can because he is shortly NHL bound. I read her words smiling, mostly because in my mind they sound as if spoken by our father.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Brooke’s eyes reflect sparkling water, while holding secrets of great things done or about to be done. It’s strange how regardless of what they are set on that Brookelyn’s eyes always seem to show the reflection of a stream. Maybe it’s an abundance of expression, compensation of her silence or her simple uniqueness. Regardless of why they shimmer like a mountain spring, the fact remains they do, giving her the ability to smile with them alone.

My father once told me that he was fascinated by my little sisters artwork, that ability to manipulate paper and ink or graphite. This was some time before she turned to pastels, watercolors, oils, chalk and charcoal. Now we all are captured by the creations of her hands. Possibly our amazement comes in part because she is the only one in the family with talent for such things. I don’t believe that’s entirely it, nor is it that she is talented. The admiration and astonishment of Brooke’s art is mostly do to her casualness about the work. She will give them away, paint over fine works and when praised, simply smile.

She truly believes her talent is just practice, comparing it to the likes of learning a song on guitar, casting a fly-line, ice skating, tying flies or riding a horse. Each of these too can be an art form. So of course I can see the resemblance. It’s not that she is not grateful for her talents. Brooke is completely aware of her gifts, humbly giving credit to almost anyone besides herself. The one exception is she will acknowledge the hours spent perfecting everything she does. Though again she sees it not as anything other than doing what comes natural.

Across the room Dad stands behind Brooke watching her apply oil to canvas. She is currently working on one of two paintings in progress on the twin easels in the corner of our family room, that sit next to the oak table where flies are tied. Two paintings are almost always in progress, allowing for work to be done on one if the linseed oils of the other require time to dry. Plus there are the sketches, pastel works and charcoal drawings that lay scattered across what once was our bedroom but now feels more like Brooke’s alone. I assure you this doesn’t bother me, it’s part of growing up and the art is so beautiful I wouldn’t care even if all my time was spent here.

Brooke looking over her shoulder at Dad smiles pausing for a moment before returning to her piece. During this moment it occurs to me that what I’ve thought was a reflection of running water in her eyes is in fact love. Love so strong and powerful that it can be seen. Love so amazing that it pours out into everything she attempts. Love beyond words spoken by poets or told by play writes from long ago. There is so much love within her that Brookelyn’s small frame and stature can not contain it, resulting in this love overflowing from every aspect of her. This love fills the room, the sights and hearts of everyone she encounters. Leaving me today with a thought. Somewhere out there, a boy who doesn’t yet know it, will someday look into the rivers of my sisters eyes and without saying or hearing a word become the luckiest man to have ever lived.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Brooke once asked me if it was “disheartening to need to ask forgiveness for the same thing over and over again”. Reading her words I was initially confused, I didn’t see my sister as needing forgiveness for anything. Brooke turned back to the work she was completing with oil pastels.

“What do you need forgiveness for?” I asked still completely clueless to her wrong doings.

Nose scrunched Brookelyn shakes her head, picking up yellow tablet and pen. As she writes, her eyes continually look up at me, either checking to make sure I’m waiting for her words, or more as if she wants to ensure I was serious about the question.

Looking down on ink with smudges from the pastels that passed from Brooke’s fingers to paper. For the first time it occurs to me, that being a perfectionist is not easy. All her talents that I’ve felt made her almost perfect, have been bought with hours of practice and more than a little angst. Truth be told, Brookelyn sees the world and life differently than I do. Those actions, thoughts and moments we all write off as being human, my baby sister holds to her heart. On a yellow sheet of paper, similar to the ones I’ve read her words on so many times before, I read, gaining insight to Brooke’s view of perfection.

“Forgiveness for things like, being sad about not having the ability to sing. About not thanking God for everything, even my silence. Also, for not giving more. I am not always sad about not being able to sing and I’m not always ungrateful. But when I am I have to ask forgiveness and it seems like too often.”

One thing for certain, Brooke is grateful for her gifts. She just holds herself to a higher standard than anyone else I know. What I learned was that it isn’t as easy as it appears, chasing perfection that is. She is a sweetie!

20130615-135146.jpgSpeaking of sweet! The wonderful author of Mummy Flying Solo awarded this blog “Super Sweet Blogging Award”.

The Award like many in the world of blogging comes with some rules. I’ll do my best to follow them, though Brooke is much better at the whole rules thing than myself. But here they are and my attempt to comply:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you. That’s Mummy Flying Solo

2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions. That’s below…

3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post. It’s the cupcake pic

4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers. This was difficult with so many great bloggers but I listed them below…

5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog. did this of course…

5 SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS

1. Cookies or Cake? Both? Cake for me, COOKIES for Brooke!

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate without a doubt for both Brooke and me.

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? Choclate for me and Key Lime Pie for Brooke.

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? After exercising! Brookie always loves and wants them.

5. Sweet Nick Name? we all often call Brookelyn, ‘Brookie Cookie’..

13 NOMINEES FOR THIS SUPER SWEET AWARD
In no particular order…

1. Megan at her wonderful blog of creativity! Creative Magic Her writing is brilliant on every subject she chooses.

2. Tony Williams is “Honest Puck” the author of, Tony’s Text. I have to say “Puck”, who’s name he adopted is one of my favorite characters of all time.

3. Jnana Hodson is the man from New England behind the wonderful Jnana’s Red Barn

4. Coach E. not to be confused with coachie pens words about his girls and life on his blog Coach Daddy Blog. As a daughter of a coach, I get it and love it. His girls seem precious by the way.

5. Dennis McHale shares his amazing poetry on his blog The Winter Bites My Bones. His poetry is absolutely amazing in every way.

6. Along with tips on parenting some laughs can be had at Taking My Monkeys Back To The Zoo.

7. Check out The Chatter Blog, for touching, witty posts on a ton of subjects. It’s part of my daily reading.

8. Doodlemum sketches her family and the events of their day. If you don’t follow this, you are missing out on one of WordPress’s treasures.

9. The Lovely T, writes about her life on Mess Of The Day Wreck Of The Year. Honest and open, strong writing can be found here.

10. Arlee, is raising six children and running a day care! How she finds times to write the amazingly insightful posts on Small Potatoes , I have no clue. I’m glad she does though.

11. Tyler McKenzie on his blog Cross Shaped Stuff shares his faith and tales about his love and so much more. It’s upbeat, and even if you don’t share his faith worth reading.

12. Growing up in a rural area and then moving to New York city would be culture shock to say the least. On her blog Girl of The Corn, the reader gets to go along for the ride. This blog inspires me to be a better me.

13. Beth teaches little ones and anyone willing to read her blog, I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. She writes about all sorts of adventures with kiddos at school. The rest of the blog is made up of other things she loves and cares about. It’s a great blog around written by a wonderful person.

Thanks again to Mummy Flying Solo
That’s my thirteen! I understand Brooke a little better now, selecting thirteen of the hundreds of blogs I follow and read leaves me feeling like I let people down.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Individual blades of grass sway in the breeze, turning the pasture behind our home into a sea. Brookelyn leads us away from the house, her pink kite trailing behind her. Since I can remember she has had an attraction to flight, or to things with a line. Of course, I too enjoy the brightly colored flying machines that Dad helped us build and Mom assisted us in decorating but Brooke loves them. She thinks they are magical, whereas I tend to take them for granted.

At the time I had no idea how special the home of my youth was. The small two story house much the same as all of our neighbors, with two bedrooms, a kitchen with attached dining space, a family room and not much more in structure. Where the rarity lies is in the hearts of the people who raised us girls in a way that time has left long ago. The more people I in counter in life, the clearer it is that things were unusual to say the least. From the origami toys we made, marbles we pitched, balls bounced in effort to capture jacks, strings pulled to send tops that were hand carved by father spinning across hard wood floors, and of course the homemade kites, our childhood toys were from generations passed.

Our parents could have purchased the newest toys, video games and items we played with when visiting friends if they had wished. Maybe it was influence from our Amish neighbors, or perhaps they wanted us to know an innocence many of our generation has not been granted. Regardless why, there we were making our way through grass kites floating behind us, waiting to be hoisted high into the sky by moving currents of air.

Brooke is the first to get her kite to take full flight and carry up into the heights of sky. Watching the bright pink creation rustle in the breeze, she keeps the line taunt to ensure flight. I watch a while, mostly my sisters smile and eyes before I begin lofting my own. Of course we encounter failures, tangled strings and at times even sorrows as our hours of hard work crash and crumble in the high grass, not on this day however.

We fly our kites without incident until interest fades, leaving us side by side on our backs staring up at moving clouds. Brooke listens as I tell the story the clouds paint, today it’s the typical princess in palace tale. As the story concludes with nights brave rescue, turning to younger sister I ask if she wished we had a video game consoul like our cousins do. Brooke turns to me, nose wrinkled and shakes her head no. Now smiling she signs, “I like building and flying kites and stories of princesses living in the clouds more.”

Now, after a year in a dorm room. Experiences that I never imagined, like traveling with teammates across the country, I understand what our parents gave us in our unusual, by today’s standards, home. In a way it was each other, time dreaming, imagining and playing together. Finishing this post I ask Brooke if she has a kite, and if we are too old to still fly them. Words are quickly scribbled on yellow pad, that is tossed my direction as she bounces up stairs.

“Yes., I made one not that long ago and that’s silly, you can’t get too old to fly kites! We are the perfect age!”

-Brooke’s Sister