All Prairie, All Personality

Prairie, in one of her rambling monologues . . .

“I want to be a Mama President when I grow up.  I guess I will be a mama first since I have to wait until I’m 35 years old to be president.  But I am fairly attractive so I will probably get married young.”


. . . . . .


We were all piled in the car driving home, and Sid read “facts” we were taught in school that are no longer true, like Pluto being a planet.

Prairie pipes up, “Hey, y’all, I have a scientific fact that I learned just now.  When you hum with your mouth closed, the sound comes out your nose.”

Sid “Well, you could say that a little bit of sound comes out your ears.”

Prairie, deciding to test this new theory right away, uses her hands to cover up her ears.  Realizing she is short a third hand, she demands, “Rachel, grab my nose!”


. . . . . . . .


Prairie – “you know what”

Sidney – “Prairie, what is ‘you know what’?”

Rachel – “She means sex.”

Sidney – “Prairie you use ‘you know what’ to mean a lot of things”

Prairie – “Well then, I’ll say ‘YOU KNOW you know what”


. . . . . . . . . .


Prairie, “Life would be so much easier if we were all nudists.  I mean like everybody would be all the same, right?”

Me, intrigued, “In what ways do you think life would be easier?”

Prairie, coy and giving me a look of tolerance, “Mama, it is complicated,”


Infinite Christmas

Relaxed around the Christmas table, warm, replete,

all the time in the world to think of bigger things,

we are the privileged ones.

“There are different kinds of Infinity,” my son said.

His brother’s face reflects my own disbelief.

But isn’t Infinity infinity?

Eager, my son jumped up and drew a number line on the dining room chalkboard.

“The Infinite set of all numbers between zero and one

is larger than the Infinite set of all whole numbers,” he insisted.

How can this be?

Surely it is impossible,

a definite boundary,

the boundary beginning with zero and ending in one,

is no boundary at all.

It is both and.



I like to think that Love is Infinite.

At least some Love is, the cynical part of me whispers, but

Other people hoard something they call Love, yet . . .

Are there different kinds of Love?

That boundary I find impossible to scale,

that wall I build between me and the other,

can Love expand, fill it up and move beyond,

a limitlessness existing within imposed limits?

Easier to understand what is finite, within lines, boxed, defined.

We are primed to expect scarcity —

The beginning and ending of a life,

the last brownie in the pan,

a few dollars in the bank account,

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches in a terrarium,

laughing together as we pull mystery gifts from stockings,

this is what we know.


We speak of Infinity and Love

as if they can be defined and explained.

We do the same with Truth

and Paradox.

My tongue cannot speak of these things,

my lips unable to form their shape,

They are beyond the veil

but I divine their presence,

an umbilical cord connecting me to

Whom I came from,


who confined Himself to flesh and blood,

to the margins of zero and one,

yet human life could not restrain


He showed Herself to be

Infinity, Love, Truth, Paradox

with a beating heart, dusty feet, gentle hands,

a tired sigh,

so ordinary to the naked eye

with the vibrations of extraordinary

for the attuned ear.


This is also what I know —

If my Love feels small and limited,

let’s say that on a scale of 0 to 10,

I feel caught between zero and one.

And yet,



my stingy, narrow Love

is also boundless and all-encompassing,

as beyond comprehension

as Infinity between zero and one.


Yet more quotes from the Gaskins household

From Home with Love . . .


“There is a mob at the White House saying that cows should have bathrooms.” Rachel

“It is called the butternarchus butterfly.  It likes to eat honey butter.” Prairie

“Fortunately, the brick houses might possibly be mostly safe.” Rachel

“However, the policemen were no match for the pigs.” Prairie

“Then unthrow-it away.” Lincoln

“Hey guess what?  Let me tell you a legend about earwigs!” Rachel

“This chair may be haunting my spirit.” Rachel

“… and virtue is properly manliness!” Rachel

More Non-Contextual Sentences


From Home with Love…..


“Let’s chipuff up!” Lincoln

“… except without the exposure of the bellybutton.” Rachel

“Hey!  I was going for a Psych fish bump!” Lincoln

“I might hate them.” Rachel

“Well get them un-wet!” Rachel

“I might really want to read that.” Rachel

“So they’re underdeveloped-pea brains.” Lincoln

“How do you eat milk?” Linc and Rachel in perfect (and unplanned) unison.

“Hey, why is the garden on fire?” Rachel

“Christmas comes with spiny cheer.” Lincoln

“It says bug poison, not human poison.” Lincoln

“This is playing weirds with my trung!” Lincoln

“What is the biggest cookie dough?” Rachel

“OK well, the flat seventh means a campy Ionian.”  Lincoln

“… then it will, like, superly glow.” Prairie

A child’s letter to Mr. Trump


Mr. Trump

My name is Prairie G—–.  I am 10 years old and in the 4th grade.

Presidents are fair, and try to make their best choices.  So if I was gonna be president, I would be prepared.

You might think that I am out of my mind.

I wish you good luck in the election.

If you win the election, I hope you will try to be nicer.  Because on TV you seem angry and rude.

Please take care of the people and be careful.

Thanks, Prairie


PS  Don’t bother to send back.  Unless you really need to.

Conversation snatches

Centering myself in the present moment and feeling gratitude does not come naturally to me.  Too often, my mind is replaying past conversations or planning future obligations.  Pen and paper help me fight my way back to the present.  Purposely listening to conversations in this house with the object of writing them down grounds me in the here and now.

I often find these scraps of conversation I have penned  laying around the kitchen counter, my bedside table, the foyer dresser.

Just today, I found some hoarded words, saved and then forgotten from FOUR years ago.

11 yo Sidney —– “Dad, do you remember that night I got sick and threw up on the floor?  And you wiped the floor with your socked foot?”

6 yo Rachel — “Mama, the potty is eating.  It eats  . . . . . . . “

11 yo Sidney  — “Mom, the icons on your computer have been moved around, but it isn’t my fault.  It is Bill Gates’ fault.”

And upon hearing me brag about how I fit all the garden produce in the freezer, 9 yo Lincoln — “Mom, you are ORGANISM woman.”


Four years — a breath, a lifetime.

The 11 yo boy who ratted on his Dad’s cleaning methods and messed with his Mama’s computer icons is today a 15 yo boy who sits at my kitchen table taking apart a nonfunctioning LED light bulb and talking to himself, “MAN, it is nice to have a voltmeter in the house.”

Don’t underestimate the power of cuteness

to charm an unenthused and skeptical student into learning his least favorite subject — vocabulary.

At our big Thanksgiving get-together, Prairie was running outside with her cousins after the big meal.  She paused beside Sid, clutching her side and commented, “Daddy, I wish cramps were not so ubiquitous.

While writing this post, I hear the sounds of industry in the kitchen.  Sid and the kids are cleaning up, making popcorn and hot chocolate in preparation for watching Elf.  I also hear Rachel mock-scolding one of her brothers.  “You are treating me like an insolent bully, and here I am making you popcorn!”

I am especially thrilled because those two vocabulary words — ubiquitous and insolent — were not part of this week’s list.  We studied those words weeks ago, so they are retaining their new words long term.  An added bonus — when one child uses a vocabulary word within hearing of another child, it reinforces the learning for the hearing child as well.

Another added benefit to studying vocabulary as a family, with varying ages —– the older, non-enthusiastic student thinks his little sisters using their big words are so darn cute that vocabulary study seems less onerous, and the memory of their cuteness reinforces HIS learning.

I label our vocabulary studies a success!