Author: Summer Bird

The Foreigner

I’m interrupting my regular post schedule for something a little different: a guest post. My oldest children collaborated on a story and I’m pleased to feature it here! “The Foreigner” by Joshua Bird. The illustrations are by Sarah Bird. Please let them know in the comments what you think.

Clang!

Hammer met metal, smashing upon the anvil.

Clang!

Another strike, forcing the metal into shape.

Clang!

The blacksmith took the horseshoe off of the anvil, and put it into a basin of water.

Sizzle…

The horse shoe was finished. The blacksmith took the horseshoe and put it with the rest of his wares.

“Pardon me sir!”

The blacksmith turned to the door to look at the speaker.

The speaker was an unusual looking person with odd clothing, most likely a foreigner.

“What do you want?” said the blacksmith.

“I would like to buy something from you.” said the foreigner.

The blacksmith looked at his wares, and selected one of his more expensive items, an ornate sword with a golden scabbard.

“What about this?” asked the blacksmith.

“Perfect!” replied the foreigner.

The foreigner then took out a bag and took some coins for the purchase, and gave the coins to the blacksmith.

The blacksmith took a look at the coins and saw something amiss.

“I do believe that you have forged these coins foreigner.” said the blacksmith

“How-What makes you say that?” nervously replied the foreigner.

“Because the coins say that they were made this year, but have the face of the king that has been dead for ten years.” said the blacksmith.

The foreigner paled, and fled with the sword.

The blacksmith immediately chased after the foreigner, but lost him on the streets.

“Alright, that is something to mark down as something that history books got incorrect!” said the foreigner as he prepared a strange device, “Next time, find currency to compare with in the time period first, then spend it” there was a green flash, and he was gone.

Charlie’s Room: A Great Plan

The Jansen family down the street had a new baby. The baby was born the day after Christmas. “It’s too bad he missed all the fun,” Charlie said. “He should have come a day earlier. If your birthday is on Christmas, do you get twice as many presents?”

“I’m not sure,” Isaac said. “But that seems fair.”

“We have a present to give him now,” Marianne said. She held up a wrapped box.

“Isn’t that Christmas paper?” Charlie asked. “He missed Christmas. You need to use birthday paper.”

“It’s stripes,” Isaac pointed out. “That can be for birthdays too.”

“But it’s Christmas colors. And we used it for Christmas.”

“Red and gold aren’t just for Christmas. And they won’t know we wrapped our Christmas presents with this paper, as long as we don’t tell them.” Marianne raised an eyebrow.

“Fine.” Charlie huffed and crossed his arm. “But if he cries when he sees the present, it’s because he knows Christmas wrapping paper when he sees it.”

Marianne rolled her eyes. “He’s a baby. He doesn’t care. Let’s go.”

So they put on their coats and hats and mittens and boots. The snow was a mix of crunchy and soft, the way it gets when winter won’t make up its mind and everything thaws a bit, refreezes, new snow falls, and it starts all over. Marianne and Isaac stuck to the shoveled path, but Charlie waded through the deep snow just to the sides of the path.

The Jansens lived just around the corner. It didn’t take long to get there. It did take a while for Charlie to brush and stomp all the snow off when Mr. Jansen answered the door and invited them inside.

Charlie hurried into the living room where Mrs. Jansen was sitting in a comfortable looking chair, rocking a small bundled-up baby. Charlie put his hands behind his back and leaned in close to look. Mrs. Jansen gently positioned the baby so Charlie could see him better.

“Oh,” Charlie said softly. “He’s so little. Even his fingernails are little.”

The baby stirred and opened his eyes, just as Isaac and Marianne entered the room. Charlie turned to them with a wide grin. “Mom! Dad! Did you see the baby? He’s so small!”

The baby scrunched up his little face and began to wail. Charlie turned to look at the baby and then looked at Marianne with a frown. “Was it because he saw the present? I bet he doesn’t like it.”

Mrs. Jensen laughed. “He’s hungry.” She held the baby close as she stood up. “I need to go feed him.”

Charlie held up his hands. “But you didn’t open the present. I want to see what we got the baby.”

“I’ll open the present,” Mr. Jensen said.

Charlie turned to look at him, eyes wide with surprise. “But it’s for the baby.”

“I’ll make sure he gets it. He’s not big enough to open presents yet.” Mr. Jensen smiled at Charlie.

Marianne handed him the present. Charlie frowned, but sat on the couch without saying anything. Marianne and Isaac sat by him as Mr. Jansen sat in the comfortable chair.

He tore open the paper. Charlie leaned forward to look. “We got the baby books? Babies can’t read.”

“We’ll read them to him,” Mr. Jansen said. “Thank you for the gift.”

“Like a bedtime story? That’s good.” Charlie jumped up. “Let’s go.”

“Congratulations,” Marianne said.

“Happy new year,” Isaac added.

“Happy new baby,” Charlie said.

Mr. Jansen laughed and led them to the door. On the way home, Charlie stuck to the sidewalk. “Was I that little?”

“Yes.”

“And you read to me when I was that little?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t remember that.” Charlie held onto Isaac’s hand. “I don’t remember being a baby.” He walked quietly for a few steps. “Next year, will the baby be big enough to open his own presents?”

“Probably.”

“Next year, let’s get birthday wrapping paper. And we can get the baby more books.”

Isaac squeezed his hand. “That sounds like a great plan.”

Marianne smiled back over her shoulder. “We can do that.”

Rest

Christmas is over, and I am tired.

I love Christmas, but there is always so much going on at once and so much pressure—probably mostly self-inflicted.

I’d like to take a little break. Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out how to freeze time. That makes this a little more difficult.

How do you rest without coming back to even more work to do?

Some ways to find rest on a busy schedule:

  • Ask for help or just some company along the way. Prayer counts too. Feeling less alone makes things seem less crazy.
  • Sing a hymn or a song that makes you smile. You may feel silly, but it does help.
  • Do less. Even just a little less. Give yourself that permission.
  • Breathe. Listen to your breath. Let your worries wait for a minute or two. Breathe them away.
  • Take a short nap (set an alarm). *This does not work for me, but it does for others.
  • Sketch something. I like to sketch how I’m feeling as monsters—it gives a silly face to my problems.
  • Look for what’s funny. Think of one funny thing that happened today. Imagine telling someone about it—exaggerate it a little. Use silly voices. Write it down.
  • Look for hope. How will tomorrow be better? Next week? What awesome things are you looking forward to this evening? This weekend?

→ Things will get better. Somehow, they always do. Wait for it. ❤️

Do you have any ideas to add to my list? Please let me know!

Little Lost Goldibot

Once, or maybe someday, there was a little factory sitting nearly abandoned at the edge of the woods. It was nearly abandoned by people, because the Gold Standard Cleaning Supplies factory was nearly fully automated. The robots did most of the work themselves, and only really needed people to pick up their neatly boxed supplies to deliver them elsewhere.

Unfortunately for the Gold Standard Cleaning Supplies company, one day one of the delivery people was in a hurry. He stacked the boxes higher than normal so that he could take fewer trips. This meant that he propped the door open so that he didn’t need to try to open and close it while his arms were over-full.

He did not notice the cleaning robot making its way around the perimeter of the factory. He did not see it follow the trail of his muddy footprints out the door. And when he locked up and left, he did not count to see if any robots were missing.

The little lost gold standard cleaning supplies industrial janitorial robot, goldibot, would not be missed for months and months and months. That’s how long it would take for the deliveryman to notice that the factory floor was unusually dusty. It would take many more months for him to remember to report it to his supervisor. By that time, goldibot was long gone, and they never knew what happened to it.

They never knew that goldibot followed the dirty footprints out to a dirty parking lot, where the footprints became lost in the general grime. Following the perimeter of the lot, the little robot began sweeping up dirt and fallen leaves and pine needles and leaving them in tiny compact cubes. Normally, goldibot would pick these up in its next pass around the perimeter and drop them in the incinerator.

However, the perimeter wasn’t clearly defined, and goldibot didn’t come around again. Instead, the robot soon wandered into the woods, clearing a path as it went. Occasionally there was a tree in its path, and goldibot paused to clean off all the moss and scrub the bark. Boulders received similar treatment. The robot cleaned with pressurized air and sonic waves, so it was in no danger of running out of cleaning supplies.

The next morning, goldibot wandered into a dark, messy cave. This was not just any cave. This was the home of three bears, who were out for a walk to patrol the edge of their territory.

Goldibot quickly swept up the nuts, seeds, and berries left in the hollows of the rock and left them behind, squished into tiny cubes. It rolled further into the cave, clearing boulders of moss and stacking them neatly out of the way.

The next room was full of mounds of pine needles and soft grass that kept goldibot very busy sweeping and compacting. In fact, goldibot was still cleaning up when the bears returned home. Goldibot didn’t know that the bears were there, of course.

But the bears knew that goldibot was there. When they stepped into the cave, ready to sit down to breakfast, they noticed right away that something was different. “Something has happened to my breakfast,” Papa Bear roared.

“Something happened to my breakfast, too,” Mama Bear replied.

Baby bear inspected the tiny cubes and tasted one. “I think this is breakfast,” he said.

After some grumbling, the bears quickly gobbled up the tiny cubes and went to sit in their living room. But their comfy moss-covered boulders were gone. “Someone has stolen my chair,” Papa Bear roared.

“Someone stole my chair, too,” Mama Bear replied.

Baby bear sniffed at the tiny green cubes and followed them to the neat stack of clean boulders along the far wall. “Here they are,” he said.

“We can’t use them like that,” Papa Bear said. “They don’t look at all comfortable. Someone has broken our living room.”

“This is all so distressing,” Mama Bear said. “I need a nap.”

“Me too,” Papa Bear said.

Baby Bear followed them to the bedroom. The bedroom looked strange, too. Something was missing.

“Somebody stole my bed,” Papa Bear roared.

“Someone stole mine too,” Mama Bear said.

“Someone is still stealing my bed,” Baby Bear said. “And there he is.” They all looked at the silver something as it scooped up the last bit of Baby Bear’s bed. It spat out a tiny cube, made a scary hissing noise, and zoomed away.

The bears cleaned up the mess and remade their furniture. They never saw the scary silver thing again. But they heard from the foxes and wolves that it was still out there, causing trouble. The animals still tell their children about it on dark nights when the moon is full and no one can sleep.

And the little lost goldibot continued to clean everything in its path for years and years and years.

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