Ellis is Two...What?

This is how we celebrate birthdays!

The time has flown since having Ellis.  It is like yesterday I was pregnant with him and now poof he is two.  What a great adventure being his Mom truly is.  I am so blessed to have him here with me on my journey.  Here is the letter I wrote to him:

Dear Ellis-

Happy birthday!  I cannot believe how fast the past two years have gone.  It is as if I blinked and you were suddenly two. The past two years have really been the best. You bring so much light,and happiness into our home. You bring life to us, your parents, through your curiosity and energy. Simple things like using a spoon is exciting and new to you. I get to teach you so many things. Even just this past week, I got to show you a snail for the first time, which reminded me how we are surrounded by interesting and amazing creations that I often take for granted. Thanks for reminding me to stop and be in awe of these “little” things.
Fun with Cousin Isaac!

You have grown so much recently.  When we first got to Grandma and Grandpa’s in late June, you fit nicely into the Pack and Play you have been sleeping in while there, but by the time we left at the end of July, your head hit one side and your feet the other.  Daddy says it must be because of all the good cheese you ate in Wisconsin.  I think you have also grown in the past few weeks while being back home here in Utah.  You just keep going!

You are a very fun little boy.  You love people and always say hi to everybody, including perfect strangers.  You also love all animals and making kissing noises to them because we have always tried to teach you that you must be soft.  You are a bit bashful these days with other people, but you warm up quickly and by the time we part ways with anybody.  You will give them hugs or send kissing noises their way!  I love your kind little heart. You help me remember to love everybody and not judge any person by how they may look.  You love to go and play in the nursery in church and don’t ever have problems with the other kids or the leaders.  
Talking to strangers! 

You are still obsessed with slides.  You always call out to them whenever you see them, whether it is at a park or in the back of somebody’s yard.  I always have to promise you that we will stop when I’m done with my walk or run or you go on and on for blocks about the slide.  It is very hard to get you away from the park once it’s time to leave but you usually do okay when we tell you to say goodbye to the slides until tomorrow.

You say goodbye to everything.  “Bye, bye, wa, wa” to the water after the bath.  You even said “Bye, bye, car” as we left the car after church today.  It is so cute.

You are still a video junkie.  You already can run an iPhone or iPad better than most adults I know.  You not only can get to the videos you want but you know also how to get to the next one by bringing up the right video that contains the list for your next in line.  You rarely watch videos from start to finish, but you do have a few favorites that you always visit.  One is Hulyan and his Thomas adventures, and another is about a family with a little boy named Michael. You also love educational videos with “The Wheels on the Bus” and "The Alphabet Song" being your favorites. You also have loved watching a DVD of real trains that your cousin, Rebecca gave you for Christmas. You watch between playing with your wooden train and tracks.
Train Museum in Green Bay

You are starting to count.  You counted to three this week.  You also can do the first part of the alphabet(and LMNOP because Daddy always does it in a loud gruff voice and you follow his example!).  Your vocabulary is growing daily and you love the word UP, lately.  I think that started because of our recent plane travel.  Everyday, you talk about your Aunt Andi(Anni) and how she flew in an airplane(Shoosh) with Grama.  You love them so much.  
Mom and Andi are dedicated to being here for lots of memories. This is at Gardner Village in Salt Lake. Halloween visits are best!

You still love sports, and cheer people on while they play tennis as we pass on our walks.  You also cheer at the UVU sports complexes everytime we pass them to get onto the highway going North toward Salt Lake.  I find it funny how you will often sometimes cheer “GO, GO, GO!” just when you see some tall lights.  This sports loving Mommy is sure you will love going to events with her in the not so far future.  
Baseball game in Phoenix

You still love to dance and get your groove on when you hear music.  I am slowly trying to convince you that Kelly Clarkson is awesome and that you should love her like I do.  You have had a hard time with that.  Maybe it was because it was too loud at her concert when you were still in Mommy’s belly at the Stadium of Fire.
Just before Ellis was born. 

You still love to go and get excited whenever we offer an adventure to you.  Whether it is a walk or run in the stroller, or a ride to the store, you want to go and go NOW.  I am slowly learning that I need to wait to offer it to you until we are completely ready to go or you get really disappointed.  
One of many hiking adventures!

You love to be chased and tickled and recently have started saying tickle and also moving your fingers around to tickle us or pictures in the books we read at night.  You think Reno, our dog, is going to tickle you all the time when you get him riled up.  You also make various toys tickle you.  I always am making you Play-Doh! airplanes(because you are fascinated with airplanes recently) and you always tell me the plane is going to tickle you.  You say: “Tickle”  then “shoosh”(which means plane).
Tickling Daddy!

I can’t envision my life without you.  The past two years have solidified the fact in my heart that you are meant to be mine and that you were always mine.  I am so glad that I get to figure this whole mommy thing out with you as my child and cannot wait to see all the adventures this next year will bring.  
You made me a mommy and part of an eternal family, which is the most important thing and greatest blessing!

Know that I love you to the moon and back and will NO MATTER WHAT!  

I often gaze at your face as you sleep and tell myself that I need to rock just a little bit longer after you fall asleep because you are growing much too fast.  These moments won’t last forever and I need to bask in them so I will not forget how special this time with you is.  

Happy birthday, Ellis! I love you so much,


Home is Where You Hang your hat: Top Places that are home.

There is a lot of difference between a house and a home.  Houses are full of rooms, held up by nails, wood and mortar.  Homes are filled with love, concern and care.  Houses without occupants eventually start to wither and fall apart.  Homes are filled with people and have purpose, which make them eternal.  Home is also a state of mind, a place you can go to be reminded of who you are and be shielded from the cares and worries of the outside world.  Home is where you can hang your hat and I'm very glad that I have so many hats.  Here are a few places where I like to hang my hat.  These are places I am at home:

1.  My Own House
This is where I am raising my son.  It is where he is creating fond memories.  It is where he will feel loved and supported.  It is the home of his childhood.  This is also home because it is where my husband and I are a team and where we share all our hopes and dreams for the future, together.  Here we build family.  Here is where we build home.

2.  Anywhere my parents are:
I always thought that the house I grew up in was the only place I would feel at home, but as the years have past, I have realized that it isn't the house, it is the people who live there that make a place home.   Sure, the crabapple tree where my friends and I would climb and "pilot an army helicopter," the basketball court where I spent hours, even in the freezing cold, perfecting my free throws, and the kitchen table where we were required to spend twenty minutes each night "eating" will always have a special place in my heart, but those parts of the house aren't what was important.  The love I felt within and without those walls were what mattered.  I am in my parents house as I type this and this is home because it is where they are.

3.  Linda's House
My aunt is a special lady.  She is one of the kindest and caring people that I know.  She has stood up to people who disagree with my religion and she has made her house a safe place for me.  She invites and cares for you when you are there, you never go hungry or thirsty and are always treated to great company and good conversation.  Kindness and love fill the rooms and halls and it is like a vacation at a resort because of the calm you feel there. 

4.  Friend Marla's House
The people don't have to be family to make a house a home.  In Marla's house, I have spent time getting to know her.  It is a place where we shared, laughed, cried and vented.  It was a safe place to share and be supported.  Our friends are the family we choose and I am so glad I have chosen Marla to be an honorary sister.

5.  The Family Cabin
Nestled in the trees of the mountains above Fairview, Utah, the family cabin is a place of true refuge.  There you can listen to birds sing, see critters scatter, breath fresh air, and always be surrounded by family.  Lasting memories are made each time we gather there for Thanksgiving and stuff our faces on delicious food.  There is lots of love in the production of that food as well as in the words and laughter.  Here we share and feel love.

What are your places that are home?  Comments people, they make the world go round! :)


Things I felt today.

1. Nostalgic
We rode on one of these:
My family ventured to The Waterpark Capitol of the World and did this one activity. Memories of childhood trips to The Wisconsin Dells flooded back. This ride has always been one of my favorites. We once filled up a whole one with our family alone. So many great memories made on a duck. 

2. Happy to be on vacation with my little family: 

We are helping make memories for this little guy. As he sleeps at the foot of my bed, I love that I get to take him on his first adventures and that it wears him out to have such experiences. 

3. Inspired by words:
I would love to post this on my classroom wall. Too bad our politically correct or too sensitive society wouldn't support it. Seriously, sucky people...well suck. 
We need to give our youth more opportunities to be productive and active. Our world is saturated with too much negativity in social media, and media in general. 
And seriously, buckle up. Or not. It's a great population control or as I like to say "survival of the fittest tool!"
Sums it up, no?

4. Surrounded by love. I was not only surrounded by some of my favorite people on the planet today, but also by people who love me for me. 

5. So glad I get to spend forever with these two:
Reuben's face is priceless. I married a man who makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day. That is a true gem. And we made a cute pack of endless energy and joy!!! We are blessed. 

We plan on enjoying every last minute of our time in Wisconsin. It will fly by but we have memories to make! 


Friday Fun

Pictures are worth a thousand words. I'm a good shot...


Tips Thursday: Writing Tips.

I am having bitter-sweet emotions as my writing class comes to a close today.  Bitter because it is over and I will miss the connections I've made with the people who are now my friends, and the excuse to be writing each and every day.  Sweet because I have become a better writer and a teacher and I also now have some time to go play with my family in Wisconsin.  Before all these wonderful memories become more fuzzy in my head, I wanted to write down a few tips for writing.

1.  Write.
Make time for it.  Play with words.  Get creative.  It doesn't matter what you write but it does matter that you are writing. Just start with what comes to mind and go with it.  Maybe while writing about something you didn't think was significant will bring many ideas to you.  I know that while I was writing about a specific writing prompt in my class, I would often get ideas for other things to write about.  When you exercise and use your writing brain, it starts to work that creativity muscle.

2.  Figure out how you write best.
I am the sort of person who writes with pen and paper for my first draft.  I just get ideas better to paper than just to my fingertips on the keys of the keyboard.  But that could be different for you.  You may be a solely typer kind of writer.  If you are a paper kind of writer like me, you need to find your preferred writing utensil.  For me it is a gel pen.  I thought it was the G2 by Pilot, but now it is these fabulous Korean fine-tip pens.  They rock.  Sometimes it is pencil though and that pencil better be very sharp.  The paper also matters.  I gather ideas in a tiny notebook that I can carry in my pocket, but I like bigger notebooks to write my drafts.  Fancy journals don't work as well as just plain old composition notebooks.  But again, you need to fine what you like.

3.  Don't be afraid to fail.
Sometimes I really didn't like the subject I was writing about, but I just went with the idea. Sometimes it was horrible and boring writing but sometimes it blossomed into something more.  I do know that it is important to write about something you are interested in.  So if it isn't working, move on.

4.  Be willing to be vulnerable.
It is really hard to share your writing at first, but having the ideas of others really can help your writing and the whole process of writing. I loved my writing group in my class and I really hope the three of us continue to read each other's writing and help each other to write better.  The more you share, the easier it is and the better your writing will get.

I think those are the most important things I have learned about my own writing process.  What kind of things would you write about?  What are your writing preferences?


Writing Wednesday

Here is my polished poem that I published for my class anthology:

Cemetery Contemplation 
by Alice Ficklin

I sit feet away from a baby girl
Who died about three months before I was born.
I wonder what she would have been like today.
            Would we have been friends?

I sit yards away from an open tomb
Expecting its occupant’s arrival today.
Whose partner has waited nearly thirty-three years
To meet his sweetheart again.
I wonder what that reunion would be like today.
            Would seeing their glorious reunion bring comfort to the broken hearts of those who lost Mom, sister, or grandma?

I scan the hundreds of faded, weathered and worn headstones
Each of them representing a person,
Each a person who was important to somebody.
I wonder if the memories of those lost begin to also fade with time.
            Will I one day be forgotten?

I see flowers and trinkets
On or near many of the markers
Only the most recently erected have such tokens
I wonder about those who surrender these momentos.
            Will their giving hearts ever be mended?

I realize that this sanctuary is for us; the living
Here we come to remember and to reflect.
This spot is not for them; the dead are not present.
I wonder if they ever look down on their own graves.
            Would they find our gatherings and rituals strange and unnecessary?

I notice walls surrounding this memorial
A separation allowing us to leave our world behind for a moment
A holy site giving solace from problems, worries and cares
I wonder if everybody feels this peace within the walls.
            Are these bricks enough of a separation for all?

I feel the stillness
As I contemplate my purpose here on this planet,
The fact that I too will one day die
Leaving this world and all my earthly possessions behind
I wonder what I’ll see as most important on that last day.
            Will I be scared?

I reflect on what is truly significant
The flowers and trinkets mean nothing to the dead
But the people who visit matter
I wonder who will visit my future grave.

            Will they know I loved them enough?


Top Ten Things I Have Learned from My Writing Class

Not sure all of you know, but I have been in a writing class the past few weeks.  It is called The Central Utah Writing Project Summer Institute.  It is aimed at teachers to become better writers themselves and to also help those teachers use writing more effectively in their classrooms.  I will be honest, I came to this class for very selfish reasons.  I am a writer(it is one of my big passions) and I wanted to get myself to be a better writer and in turn get closer to being a published writer.  Well, that is definitely happening, but I think that this class is making me more passionate about teaching and about getting my students to write better.  I think it is making me a better teacher.  Crazy!

I thought I would use today's Top Ten Tuesday to tell you all about what I have learned in this class.

Top Ten Things I have Learned in My Writing Class:

1.  I am a WRITER.  
I knew this before, but I really am becoming more confident in my writing and the passion for doing it has been ignited within me.  I used to be very afraid of sharing my writing, but now I am actually wanting to share it.

2.  I learn more about teaching from other teachers.
Teaching is an amazing profession.  It is a very hard profession, but it has the potential to change the world because we, as teachers, touch the future everyday though our students and what they can become. In class, we have had the opportunity to present a problem we have faced with writing in our classroom.  In each of those presentations, I have learned something about my own teaching and my classroom.  I thought I would leave with the answer to my big question about one of my writing assignments that I had presented in my demo less, but I have come away with so many more answers and ideas to use in my classroom.

3.  You can make friends at any time of your life.
Two weeks ago, these eighteen people were strangers, but now I consider all of them my friend. Lately, I have felt like I don't have a whole lot of friends that I hang out with and that may be true, but friendship is morphing as I get older and as I have different things going on in my life.  I need to realize that I need to reach out more and find ways to have more friends and have opportunities to interact with people.  People are awesome!

4.  We are writers.
If you speak, you are a writer.  Writing really is just talking to paper or to a computer screen.

5.  I am doing a good job at teaching.
We are all guilty of second guessing ourselves and I do this all the time as a teacher.  I feel like I am not good and that I am not teaching my students anything.  The truth is that I am doing a good job and need to get over my thoughts about my inadequacy.  I think one of the most important things about anything we do is that we are trying to get better and I am getting better year after year!

6.  Mr. Brewer was wrong.  Dead wrong(no pun intended)!
Mr. Brewer was my poetry teacher in college.  He ripped apart my poetry.  Those little red lines were like the blood of my heart flowing as he broke it.  I told myself that I sucked at writing and that I didn't have a knack for poetry.  That was wrong and I am rising above.  In fact, one of the pieces I am working on for this class is a poem.  Take that Mr. Brewer! (And seriously, I never was really mad at the man, he was only trying to help me be better.  He has my complete respect.  May he rest in peace!)

7. I need to write everyday.
In order to be a writer, you have to do it everyday.  That means I need to make time for it.  Just like I exercise my body(or need to more) I also need to exercise my writing muscles in order to become better at it!

8.  Writing is a BIG part of who I am.
Writing is passion to me.  It is a big part of who I am.  I am so glad this class ignited the fire inside me to be creative and working on getting better at writing.  I am so thankful for this!

9.  Revision is important and doesn't have to be punishment.
I think I have been afraid of revision in the past.  It really has felt like punishment to go back and re-read what I have written.  The best part about this is that when I do go back, I see that I have talent and there are always things to add and change to make my writing better.  GO!!! REVISION!!! GO!!!

10. I need to be a part of a writing community.  Networking is key.
I need to find ways to be around other writers on occasion.  It has been so helpful to have my little writing group in this class to help me with my writing.  They see things in my writing that I don't see.  They have suggestions that I would have never thought of.  I am definitely going to keep many of these people around to help me be motivated to write and to become a better writer.  I LOVE THIS!!!

So there you have it.  The past few weeks have been so big in my life.  Maybe you should think about what your passions are today.  What things makes you happy when you do them?  Think about it and then do it.  And do it everyday!  Do it multiple times a day!  This life is much too short to miss out on the things that make you truly happy.  I expect some comments about what you plan on doing today and what you love to do!  If you write it, it becomes reality!


Three Whole Years...

Three years ago today, I married my best fishing buddy.  It is crazy how fast three years goes.  We talked about that last night and how it just flew by like that.  I really did luck out in the husband category.  Reuben is kind, generous, cooks, cleans, is an amazing dad, makes my life easier(just like he promised) and loves me no matter how grumpy, emotional or hard to get along with I can be!
Aren't we just so cute.  We stopped at Rushmore on our way to Wisconsin in July 2012.

I decided to write an acrostic poem to celebrate us:

Team Ficklin

Three years go by so quickly together,
Eternally connected to
An amazing, amusing, affectionate
Funny fishing buddies united
Interesting, entertaining, hardly serious
Conversations while
Kindly ignoring some politics
Living, loving, laughing, learning, polishing
Now and forever, teammates!

Being married to Reuben is truly an adventure and I am loving the journey.  He is my rock, my biggest supporter, my silly man, made me a mother and made this cute family with me! I am so glad I got him.  He was definitely worth the wait.


To my baby that wasn't meant to be here.

I wrote this letter a few days after i miscarried. I write letters to Ellis every month and I found it therapeutic to write this letter. I'm going to publish it on the day I would have been due with the baby I lost. It just seemed fitting that he/she should have a letter from me too.

Dearest Baby Angel-
We were expecting your arrival in June 2015. It was pretty early on in my pregnancy but we had decided to tell a few people. I was so scared when I started spotting last week and it was worse because I just kept thinking that something was wrong and that I would lose you. I am so glad I had told people because each and every one has reached out to me with kind words to comfort me. 

I lost you on Saturday the 8th. Exactly 4 months before my 38th birthday. It was horrible. I said, "oh baby" many times during the night as I bled and bled. 

I guess you are just too good for this harsh world and that God needs you for some more important work elsewhere. Your dad and I talked about it and we know without a doubt that one day we will get to meet you, and I am promising that I will take you in my arms and make up for the lost cuddles we missed out on here. The past few days as I have rocked your older brother, I have thought about you and often wept. 

We didn't get to know you but do know that you were already loved by parents who wanted you so very much. We prayed for you often in the past six weeks and were excited for you to join  our family. 

Things always happen for a reason but that doesn't make hard things any more easy. I'm sure with time the pain I'm feeling will subside but know you will never be forgotten. 

Love you much. 


Fun Friday

We don't get a whole lot of time to fish lately because of the wee one(we worry he will jump in!), so we decided that we would go on an adventure to celebrate our upcoming anniversary.  This happened Saturday, but I figured it went with the Fun Friday theme.
Lake Selfie
I'm so glad I married my best fishing buddy and a great cook.  Here he is harvesting crawfish for a dip we ate on Father's Day.  Delicious.  


Two Tips for Readers

1. It is okay to be reading more than one book at a time. I'm reading four currently. 

2. If you do not like a book, you do not have to finish it. In the words of my favorite librarian: "There are too many good books in the world to waste your time on a bad one!"

I met an author today at my class. He opened my world to the graphic novel. Give Nathan Hale a read if you get a chance. His historical graphic novels are funny, cleaver and make history fun! This YouTube video is a lot like his presentation today. It rocked: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsagIbxDfpU&sns=em


Writing Wednesday: Poem

For my class, we have to polish two pieces of writing.  I am thinking that this will be one of mine.  I am looking for some feedback on this piece.  Do you like it? Does it makes sense? Are there parts that are confusing or need revising?  What are you favorite parts?  Thanks for your input, and enjoy.

Cemetery Contemplation
I sit feet away from a baby girl
Who died about three months before I was born.
I wonder what she would have been like today.
            Would we have been friends?

I sit yards away from an open tomb
That waits for its occupant to arrive today.
Whose partner has waited for nearly thirty three years
To meet his sweetheart again.
I wonder what that reunion would be like today.
            Would seeing it comfort the broken hearts of those who lost
                        Mom, sister, or grandma today?

I scan the hundreds of worn and weathered headstones
Each of them representing a person
Each a person who was important to somebody
I wonder if those memories begin to also fade with time.
            Will we all one day be forgotten?

I see flowers and trinkets
on or near many of the headstones
Only the most recent have such tokens
I wonder about those who leave such tokens.
            Will their hearts ever be mended?

I realize that this place is for us; the living
Here we come to remember and to reflect
It’s not for them; the dead are not here
I wonder if they ever look down on their own graves.
            Would they find our rituals strange and out of place?

I notice the walls that surround this place
Separating this place from the outside world
Allowing us to leave that world for a moment
To feel the peace and the quiet of this place
To reflect about what we are doing here
About the fact that we will one day die
I wonder about that day for me
            Will I be scared?

I reflect on what is truly important
Those flowers and trinkets mean nothing to the dead
But the people who visit and those who now rest matter
I wonder who will one day visit my future grave.

            Will they know I loved them enough?