February Four Somethings

Welcome to the February edition of Share Four Somethings, hosted by Heather Gerwing. In this monthly series, we discuss things we Loved, Read, Treasured, and something Ahead since our last Four Somethings post.

Something Loved

It is no secret that winter is my fourth favorite season.

Snow and ice impede road running and make trail running more difficult. Sitting on my deck requires bundling up in layer upon layer until it becomes unappealing. It is dark by 6:00 p.m. or earlier. I could go on.

In an attempt at reconciling myself (reluctantly) to the season, I have introduced my two local grandsons to the pleasures of flying down Bomberger’s Hill, the local sledding hot-spot.

It is the perfect sledding hill. Steep, long, but with no stationary objects to avoid, it produces a feeling of exhilaration without significant danger.

Sledding down and then running up the hill also allows me to combine the fun of sledding and the fitness benefits of hill repeats.

Winter activities with my youngest grandson are, alas, purely virtual. He lives 2,000 miles away in a town that receives a lot of snow.

With the help of his father, my son, he has transformed a pile of snow as high as their garage roof into an otter slide-snow fort-tunnel system. Quite the engineering marvel.

It’s almost enough to make my fourth favorite season slightly more enjoyable.

Something Read

I read two excellent books this month. Both were gifts.

The first book, Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle, was given to me for Christmas by my son and his wife. How well they know me.

Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest. He is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, an organization that provides jobs, assistance, and compassion to gang members in Los Angeles.

Father Greg’s book is full of personal stories featuring gang members. Some of them are success stories, some are not. All of them showcase the author’s humor, empathy, generosity, and unconditional love. Boyle, just like Jesus, understands that the way to move people is through stories, parables. These stories help readers relate to young men living a lifestyle probably much different than their own.

I give this book 4.95 stars out of 5. The very slight deductions are for two reasons. Few of the stories featured young women, even though they are also served by Homeboy Industries. Calling gang members “homeboys” smacks of cultural appropriation.

The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stefano Mancuso was given to me for my birthday by a friend. How well she knows me also.

I am a science nerd. Plants, in my opinion, are some of the most fascinating organisms to study. Mancuso is a botanist, but you don’t have to have a science background to appreciate this book.

The author tells the stories of individual plants (The Acacia of Tenere, The Spruce Tree of Campbell Island, and others) to illustrate his points. He describes how plants can send their seeds far and wide, even crossing vast oceans. He explains why it is to some plants’ advantage to produce humongous seeds (think coconuts).

The one aspect of the book I did not appreciate was the illustrations. These beautiful watercolors seem to be placed in the book at random locations, having absolutely no relation to the text. It would have been more meaningful, in my opinion, to show an illustration of the actual plant being described by the author. It’s a minor complaint.

Something Treasured

My youngest son is running for political office! He has put his hat in the ring to run for Lancaster County Controller.

So far, it has been an educational and uplifting experience for him. He has secured his party’s endorsement and is in the process of getting petitions signed right now. He has 13 days to get 250 signatures.

The photo shows him on Fasnacht Day (Shrove Tuesday) collecting signatures in front of Lancaster Central Market. His 89-year-old grandmother, a former member of the League of Women Voters, is excited to sign his petition. She has also volunteered to take him around her neighborhood so the neighbors can sign it too.

The campaign is a family affair.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Something Ahead

This month I do have an upcoming event to share with you. I am looking forward to this “something” very much.

Twenty-some years ago, I organized the first science fair ever held at our high school. As years passed, our science fair evolved. By the time I retired, between 80 and 100 students participated annually.

Students began researching their projects on the second day of school. We typically worked on science fair once a week (usually on Thursdays) from September through the beginning of March. Most students put their heart and soul into their project, working for hours outside of class on lab work, research, and presentation.

One of the best comments I ever got from a student had to do with her science project. One young woman told me, “Mrs. Hess, I always felt that on every other day, we worked on your stuff, but on Thursdays, we worked on my stuff.” The rest of the class nodded their assent.

In March I am going to participate in the science fair again. This time as a judge. Students will present their projects virtually.

I am looking forward to hearing about new and exciting discoveries. Most of all, I am looking forward to having the opportunity to interact with students once again.

And this time, I have no research papers to grade.

You can find the places I link up here.

107 comments

  1. So much excitement.

    I agree winter is my least favorite.

    Congrats to your son.

    I organized a technology fair for 40 schools. Unfortunately it ended when I left that job. But it was so rewarding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your grandchildren look like they are having so much fun in the snow!
    It’s fab news about your son running for political office. Wishing him the best of luck!
    Also, great that the science fair is still running twenty years later, it must be exciting for you to be a part of it once again.
    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jayne. So far the political adventure has been a positive one. I am looking forward to the science fair a lot. Have a wonderful week!

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  3. Exciting news about your son running for office, Laurie! We do need more young men and women to get involved in their communities in a positive way. And the science fair sounds amazing, too. Lots of hard work for the kids, but so rewarding in the end.
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Winter is definitely #4 for me as well. My favorite thing about winter is seeing how excited my stepsons get when school is cancelled. Yes Virginia, we still have snow days here. We’ve had a few decent weather days recently and it feels like getting out of jail.

    Congratulations to your son and best wishes for him on the campaign trail. When is the election?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My grandsons had some snow days early this winter. By the last few snowstorms, they were having virtual school days. Spring-loke weather IS like getting out of jail.

      My son’s primary is in June (he is unopposed in the primary) and the general election is in November.

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  5. What a great list of four February Somethings. I admire your son for attempting to get elected to office and look forward to reading about how it goes. As for the science fair, that sounds fun and worthwhile. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time spent perusing and interacting with the exhibits and kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hopefully your fourth favourite season will soon be coming to an end and all that snow will melt! It sounds like you will have a very interesting and busy March with your adjudicators hat on – enjoy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Laurie, love the fourth favorite season – hahah –
    also, congrats and best wishes to your son -and it is a calling to go into politics
    and I can share some of the flashing back with you as I coordinated five science spring fairs in our community – the first year we had four families and by the fifth year we had more than fifty families (some of them had two and three children) – and it was a labor of love – some fruits were having my children help and then also having a handful of our entries go on to make it into state-wide fairs and qualify to then place for awards.
    Happy judging at the one coming up

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far the political campaign has been such a positive experience for him. I feel like win or lose, he will be glad he gave it a try. That is so cool that you coordinated a science fair. By the time I retired, we had 100 students participating. Good for your children with their wonderful projects!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hi laurie – we homeschooled for a few years there (not by choice but we moved coast to coast a couple times and it became our lot in life) anyhow – the final year my son’s helped to judge and had leadership roles and that was a perk for me – but they also always helped set up and all that.
        there was some stress because we had middle school and high school and always had a few students with a few years when placement or prizes didn’t come their way!
        and we had formal judges – a scientist (like you) and an exec from our local power company – different judges over the years – and i always wrestled with the comparative analysis but it had to be done for a few reasons –
        and i think we did it fine (esp in hindsight)
        and so best wishes with your judging and how nice of you to serve and give

        and glad your son is having the positive experience with running

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know how much work you must have put into the science fair. Getting judges, organizing awards, setting up the physical space, and other organizational chores all take a lot of time and effort. I am sure the kids who participated benefitted from all of your hard work. They got to experience real science.

        Liked by 1 person

      • THanks for saying that – in some strange way it still fills me with a bit of joy because it was a labor of love – and I almost did not mention my doing them as wanted to reply about your judging after doing so many with students – but Laurie, how could I not mention it? hahaha –
        the only regret I have was not making videos with the footage we collected – I think I still could (i likely have most of it) but only so much time and energy
        – anyhow, cannot wait to hear how your science fair went as a judge

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love that you pioneered the science fair, and it grew to become a great success! Many years ago, I organized an All-Elementary Art Fair, where we had at least one piece from every elementary-aged student in town. It was a lot of work, but so fulfilling to see the crowds of students (and their families) flock to the central school to search for their featured piece of art. This went on for five (or six?) years, then my kids moved on the middle school, the art teacher relocated, the central school’s principal retired…and it ended. The new art teacher wasn’t receptive, nor was the new principal. Oh well, it was a fun run!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That Art Fair sounds awesome! Good for you for organizing. Anything that makes kids feel good about themselves is wonderful in my book. Too bad it didn’t continue.

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  9. Oh wow, being a judge in a science fair that you founded – that’s a momentous moment! I can understand that you are looking forward to that!

    It must be an additional challenge for the students to present their projects virtually.

    How many judges will you be in total and how many projects are you expecting to assess?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie,
    The otter slide/snow fort/tunnel system is way cool! Even I could get excited about winter with that! I lived in Lancaster for eight years and remember well the Lancaster Central Market. I’d happily sign your son’s petition. All the best to him in his political pursuits. Enjoy your experience in judging – you’ll have to post the winning project.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! I had no idea you were a Lancaster Countian for a time, Bev. Thanks for your good wishes for my son. His campaign has been such a positive experience so far!

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  11. One day maybe I’ll have a grandkid or two to have adventures with . . . but until then, I enjoy my friends’ grandma experiences vicariously. Big fan of Homeboys Industries but you do bring up a question — what about the homegirls? And the science fair! Those are, like, the best thing about school and I wasn’t even very science-y in school.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Laurie – well done to your son for putting up his hand to make a difference – I hope his campaign goes well and he can be a positive light in an area that is often very dark. Also good on you for the Science Fair stuff – great that you can re-visit it all again as a judge – such an affirmation of your contribution in the area.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Tattoos on the Heart sounds like a great book. I love to read stories about people with vastly different experiences than my own. It helps me consider “the other” in regards to policies, beliefs, and common practices. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great news about the science fair, congratulations on being a judge and I’ve got my fingers crossed for your son and his political aspirations. I had to laugh about winter being your fourth favourite season. It took me a moment to realise what you meant!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ha. Winter is my fourth favorite season too. 🙂 My granddaughter and I showed each other our snow via FaceTime last month; she concluded that her snow was better than mine. lol. We’re lucky to get it once a year so that was likely it for the year.

    I’m glad you enjoyed Tattoos on the Heart too. I read it a few years ago and was deeply moved by his devotion to these kids.

    Good luck to your son on winning his political campaign!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a sledding adventure like that with my grandsons. Right now, they are only 2 and 4 months, so maybe a bit too young! But also too far–a 15-hour drive! My husband and I are trying our best to find ways to relocate closer, Laurie! And thanks for these reviews of the books you got to read. I appreciate you being honest about what you really thought–not just focusing on all the good in the books. And you must be so proud of your son! What a great ambition! I hope he gets elected! Thanks for sharing so many encouraging thoughts with us today, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! I think sledding with your grandchildren is something you will have to look forward to. 2 of my grandsons live close by, but 1 lives 2,000 miles away! That is hard! I can understand you wanting to live closer. I am proud of my son. So far, the experience has been postive.

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  17. Oh wow! You have had a lot of snow! How wonderful. We had it for about a week but not very deep. It was fun while it lasted. The sledding sounds like fun. We have no hills nearby to give it a go. Hmmf.
    Good lick to your son for running for political office. I hope it does well for him.
    The Science Fair sounds wonderful. Enjoy the judging x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm…”wonderful” isn’t the word I would use for a lot of snow, but OK! 🙂 I am soooo ready for spring. Thanks for the good wishes for my son. It has been a great experience so far!

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  18. That snow tunnel seems impressive – land like amazing fun – just from that one picture! It might even lure someone like myself outside. Someone who also makes no attempt to hide winter as “her fourth favorite” season. So much nicer said:) All the best to your son!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Seems like the boys are having a ball. Having never experienced snow myself, I often wonder how I will like it.
    I’ve read so much about Fr Boyle and I’ve been meaning to get the book. With your recommendation, I will. Sad that the girl were tagged with the ‘homeboy’ label. Wonder how they felt about it.
    Congratulations on your son’s launching a political career – the world needs a lot more sincere and upright people in politics!
    It’s the first time I’ve come across Heather’s prompt today and I’m seriously thinking of doing it myself. Have a good week ahead, Laurie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you would like the book, Corinne. It’s really a book about compassion and love. I enjoy doing 4 Somethings once a month. Maybe I will see you there in March!

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  20. Best of luck to your son and his run for office. Winter is my 4th favorite season too but I keep trying to convince myself to enjoy it more and more.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The sledding looks like fun! (We call it sledging here – I didn’t realise we used slightly different words!)
    And I’m glad you’re getting to take part in the science fair too – I hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. That will be fun judging the science fair competition after you were instrumental in beginning it. Very exciting Laurie. Also exciting is having a possible future politician in the family. The pictures of your grandsons enjoying the snow makes me remember enjoying Winter and building snowmen and snow forts – who knew the enchantment of frozen crystals would eventually wear off and like you I would be hating Winter more each year? I like your description “winter is my fourth favorite season.” Ha ha – guess we know where Winter rates with you.

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  23. All the seasons are my favorite (I love the one I’m with) – and Snow Days are a season unto themselves where we live in TN – but they really were unfriendly this year (ran out of propane, water and electricity were out for a couple of days)- BBBrrrrrrr! Best of luck to your son’s campaign – how delightful to have your mom involved! Tattoos on the Heart sounds like it needs to go on my book list – and I just love this line you wrote about sledding: “a feeling of exhilaration without significant danger.” The perfect recipe for a happy mom and happy sons/grandsons! What an exciting month February was for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, man! That must have been tough, running out of propane, water, and electricity. I am never going to complain about winter again! February was a wonderful month for me.

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  24. Your grandson looks like he is having a lot of fun in the snow. My children would love to have that amount of snow fall! Good luck to your son with running for Lancaster County Controller and I love that his grandmother is joining in with helping him. How lovely to be involved in the science fair and what a lovely comment from one of your students. #MMBC

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  25. LOVED THIS –> ‘ an otter slide-snow fort-tunnel’

    And that your son’s run for office is a family affair. I can’t wait to hear how this impacts your family for the good!

    I do love 4 Somethings!

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  26. It’s summer all year round over here on our side of the pond but if we were to have the other 3 seasons, I think winter would be my least favourite too!

    Congrats to your son!

    Enjoy your experience in judging, Laurie!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Please pass on my best wishes to your son. He has my vote already and I am so glad that “throw his hat in the ring” is a term in your country too. We use it here! Good on you for teaching your grandsons …via distance. Love that you are going back to school..with no papers to grade!!

    Thanks for being a consistent, caring and contributing blogger to this community I call #lifethisweek. Next week we are sharing our snaps (photos) and that’s an optional prompt. See you next Monday, I hope, as always.
    Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Denyse. I will pass those best wishes along. The science fair is something I am really looking forward to. Especially since I have very few responsibilities this time around.

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  28. Oh, what fun to see all the fruits of your labor pay off in kids enthralled in science! I love how you call winter your fourth favorite season ;). My favorite season is always the one that’s coming up in the last month of the one we’re in ;).

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    • I am looking forward to experiencing the science fair without all the responsibility. I think that is the thing I like most about retirement, Anita – just relinquishing the awesome responsibility that came with being a teacher.

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  29. How fun to be able to judge the science fair that you started so long ago, Laurie! Good luck to your son’s campaign–I’m glad it’s been a good experience thus far. I’m also glad your fourth-favorite season is almost over. (My fourth-favorite is summer, by the way. 🙂 The other three tie for first!)

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