A few nights ago, I spent the last few hours before bed in my room stitching. Lizzy and Johnny played, wrestled and giggled late into the evening before Dad told them to go to bed. Lizzy asked if she could tell Johnny a story and Dad gave them 10 minutes. It must have taken Lizzy 5 minutes just to settle Johnny down in her bed after how riled up he was. Her story went something like this:
"Once, there was a fancy family— (*grin* from behind my stitching) —and they had two children. There was a girl and she was very pretty, actually she was—" (Johnny: "She was ugly?!") "—No, well, yes, she was. And there was a boy, and his name and age was, well, his age was 16, and his name was, um, Jordan, but they called him George. You know, Johnny, 'Jordan and George.'" "Uh huh." "Well, Jordan was very handsome, but his sister— (Johnny: "Was ugly?") —Well, she wasn't ugly, but she was kind of.. plain. Her name was, um, her name was Donna. Donna Corinne. No, actually it was Katrina. And they called her Katrina Serena. And she was 12. No, actually she was 9. Yea, she was 9, like me. And, they lived in a mansion, actually it was a castle. A huge castle, with--they had maids. Maids, but no guards. Then, one day, Jordan and Katrina Serena were out walking, and they were laughing and holding hands and talking. Then, suddenly they, heard a noise in the woods: KABOOSH! It was really loud. Jordan drew his sword: SWOOSH! Suddenly, they were surrounded by a hundred, no, it was like a thousand men. Katrina Serena got knocked down, and Jordan was calling his sister, "Katrina Serena!" He was fighting and fighting, and he ran up a tree. And then, finally, they left. And then he went over to his sister and saw she was knocked out, so he picked her up and carried her to--um.. there was a man in the woods, getting firewood, named--" (sorry I didn't catch his name, at this point there was a distraction downstairs). "He was 20, um 1... 21, and his wife--" (another distraction, sorry, I don't know her name either .
Just about now, the other girls came in with some boys who were looking for Johnny to go to bed so the story broke off here, with promises to finish tomorrow. It was interesting to me, how it reminded me A LOT of Annie's books that the kids love so much.
I'll let you see for yourself. Here's an excerpt from one of Annie's books, where the prissy princess, Priscilla, and the hero's right hand man, Leo, are trying to escape in the woods. The main characters are currently passing the time away in a dingy dungeon where they have been captured, while Leo is trying to get the princess as far as he can from the enemy, who longs to destroy the only other living heir to the Kingdom that they have taken over. In their haste, Leo and the princess are stopped by a strange pursuer who demands to do battle with Leo:
Leo blocked the man’s onslaught quickly, all the hours spent in his training quickly coming back to him. He was on defense now, backing up to avoid the man’s crazy swings. Leo soon realized that the man had had no official or proper training, but was relying only on his broadness and strength, which could prove to be deadly if Leo wasn’t careful. After a few more expert blocks, Leo decided he wanted to be the attacker.
He began swinging in fluent and swift strokes, obviously taking the man by surprise with his hard earned skill. The man flailed his sword heedlessly to defend himself.
“Give it up,” Leo advised. “I don’t want to have to kill you.”
“Do you think I am a coward?” the man hissed. “I do not intend to be the one who ends up dead!”
“Have it your way.” Leo moved forward steadily, forcing the man to retreat. Their blades clashed continuously, moving with blinding flashes whenever they stepped into an area where the sun shone through. Knowing he was better than this man, Leo felt confident that he would not be the loser. He discerned that he’d better get this over with as quickly as possible, however, and not leave Priscilla alone any longer than he had to. But he had to admit that the swordplay was a little thrilling for him, after not having used his beloved sword for nearly two months.
His sword flew at the man countless times, keeping him too busy defending to bother attacking. Glancing past him, Leo noted that a round ring of sunlight lay just beyond the man. An idea came to him suddenly. He moved the man backward a couple more paces until the light surrounded them—perfect. Now to execute the more difficult part.
With a few fast and delicate movements, his sword lifted slightly and turned so the flat side faced the sun, catching a ray of light. Leo wasted no time in flashing that light into the man’s eyes, causing him to curse and turn away. Leo took the opportunity to knock the loose blade from his wrist.
Helpless, the man’s eyes widened as he gazed at his fallen sword. Leo knew he was considering reaching for it, but also knew he might not survive if he did. He slowly lifted his eyes to Leo, glaring.
Leo hesitated, not knowing what to do. Should he strike the man down? That hardly seemed fair, killing a helpless man. But he had won the sword fight—meaning the right to take his life was his. Wasn’t it? He frowned at the man. “You should never have come back,” he said.
The man never answered. A sickening, muffled thud was suddenly heard, and for some reason it caused the man’s eyes to grow round with terror. He gasped in pain, his eyes glazing over. He dropped first to his knees, his face white, and then fell, facedown, at Leo’s feet. Dead. Leo sucked in his breath as he saw an arrow placed firmly in the man’s back. He turned to the princess, his eyes meeting hers.
“I didn’t kill him,” he said quickly, answering the horrified question that was clear in her face. He moved towards her. “But I’d say it’d be a good idea to move out—and fast.”
He sheathed his blade as he walked, grabbing her hand once they were side by side. “We need to run—I’ve no idea who’s back there. And I don’t really want to find out.”
“Could it be Adrian?” Priscilla asked, running by his side.
An arrow suddenly flew overhead, followed by another, and another.
“Nope,” Leo replied, running like he’d never run before, the princess’s hand still securely locked in his.
They fled as far as they could, but it wasn’t long before hoof beats—lots of them—were heard. Leo glanced at the princess, coming to a halt.
“It’s no use,” he explained, out of breath. “I can’t outrun a horse.”
In moments the riders were upon them. They moved around them, locking the two in a tight circle. There were more men than Leo felt up to counting, knowing full well he was useless against so many.
“Surrender!” the captain demanded. “The girl is to be taken directly to Kingdom Hill for questioning.”
Exasperated, Leo frowned, and was about to answer when he suddenly felt Priscilla slump against him. Grabbing her elbow to keep her from falling, he noticed she was in an all-out faint.
“Oh, this is just great.” Leo lifted his eyes to the treetops, knowing the situation was truly at its worst.
Annie has done a lot of writing. This is near the ending of book #2 in the Land of Cascadia Chronicles (4 books in all). She is now writing a new book (nearly done) and this one takes place on a sea voyage. (I may post an excerpt of that one sometime.)
Likewise, Lizzy is receiving lots of writing assignments in her school right now. Her little stories are so cute. They usually include animals, work and siblings.
We've read that you can tell if a child is happy and at peace, verses disturbed and unsettled, by the pictures they draw. A happy, content child will most likely draw happy peaceful things, such as a cheery home, with smoke curling out of the chimney and curtains in the windows, with maybe a sun and/or flowers, etc. Whereas a child that's maybe dealing with something tragic in his/her life like the death of a parent or divorce will draw frightening dark images. They usually use a lot of red and black and if they draw a house, you will notice things like: no smoke (a sign that nobody is home), no door handle, no sun, etc. Anyway, I always thought that was interesting that you can read a young child through their drawing when (maybe) they can't express what they're feeling any other way.
I was thinking about this when I was doing dishes. Turning around, I saw our fridge where the kids had hung their recent artwork:
Lizzy's 'Life is Good!':
Johnny's version of Lizzy's 'Life is Good!':
Johnny's idea of Jesus:
Lizzy's 'note of love':
They draw these completely by themselves (all the time!) and I swear, we don't pay them anything!
Anyway, I think they're happy enough...