I Knew You Could – by Craig Dorfman

I was doing some birthday shopping for Jacob yesterday and came across a couple of books, one of which is the title of this post. I thought it was going to be a take on The Little Engine that Could, and it is in part – but so much more. I think this book just may be my favorite. I love it so much that I just have to share: (it’s a bit long, but I thought it was worth it)
“I knew you could! And you knew it, too– 
That you’d come out on top after all you’ve been through. 
And from here you’ll go farther and see brand-new sights. 
You’ll face brand-new hills that rise to new heights.”
“I wish I could show you the stops that you’ll visit, 
But that isn’t my choice to make for you, is it? 
 Instead I can tell you some lessons and tales 
That I’ve learned and relearned in my time on the rails.”
“First of all, you must find your own track,
So you can start right away and not be held back.
But which track is yours? Well that all depends
On which way it’s going and where it might end.”
“Different tracks wind around
Over, under, and through,
So pick out the one
that works best for you.
Though the track you start out on 
will feel like “the one,”
You might take a few more before you are done.
And now, with your eyes on your new destination,
Start up your wheels and roll out of the station.”
 “On your trip you’ll make plenty of stops,
In deep river valleys and on high mountaintops.
Some will surprise you and some will be planned,
And you’ll roll through each one saying, ‘I think I can!'”
“You’ll go through tunnels, surrounded by dark,
And you’ll wish for a light, or even a spark.
You might get scared or a little bit sad,
Wondering maybe if your track has gone bad.”
“So here’s some advice to help ease your doubt:
The track you took in must also go out.
So steady yourself and just keep on going–
Before you know it, some light will be showing.
And then you’ll be out, heading to a new place.
You’ll be ready for the next tunnel you face.”
“Sometimes you’ll look up and see planes in the sky.
And you’ll think to yourself, ‘I wish I could fly.’
The cars on the roads will seem quick and free–
You’ll feel stuck on your track and think, ‘I wish that was me.'”
“But the plane might wish he could get out of the air,
Saying ‘I wish I could travel like that train down there.’
The cars will watch as you speed right along,
And they’ll say to each other,
‘Look how fast and how strong!’
Don’t worry about not being a car or a plane,
Just enjoy the trip you’ll take as a train.”
“Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn,
If you need to be heard or there are people to warn.
Or if being yourself just makes you so proud
That you want to share it and sing it out loud.”
“You’ll follow your track
through twists and through bends,
And stop at new stops and pick up new friends.
They’ll all come aboard with smiles and greetings.
You’ll have such great times
with the people you’re meeting.”
“On the days when you’re sad and feel you can’t go,
Speak up and ask a friend for a tow.
That’s what friends do, so don’t be afraid.
You’d do the same if your friend needed aid.”
“You might stop at some stops that you never have toured,
And look for new friends, but they won’t come aboard.
So you’ll have to head out with a creak and a groan,
Setting out once again on your track, all alone.”
“Try to remember that the world is so wide,
Full of all kinds of people with their own trains to ride.
Just stay true to yourself as you travel your track,
With no second-guessing and no looking back.”
“Once you’re on the right track, you’ll probably say,
‘This one is mine–I’m here to stay,’
Try to enjoy the track that you choose–
Stop now and then to take in the views.”
“If you rush forward, as a general rule,
Before you arrive, you could run out of fuel.
Don’t overwork, but save up some strength.
That way, every day, you can travel great lengths.”
“You’ll need all that strength on the days when you’re stuck,
Or tired, or sad, or just out of luck.”
“When your belief in yourself doesn’t feel quite so pure,
And your ‘I think I can’ doesn’t sound quite so sure.”
“That’s when to push and to strive and to strain,
To show the world you’re not a giving-up train.
And you’re wise if you know that doing your best
Means that sometimes you should just slow down and rest.”
“Speeding through your whole trip will only bring sorrow,
So slow down today and be happy tomorrow.”
 “There’s more about life that you’ll learn as you go,
Because figuring things out on your own helps you grow.
Just trust in yourself, and you’ll climb every hill.
Say, ‘I think I can!’ and you know what?
You will!”
I LOVE this little book. I thought it was going to be a book for the kids – but I’ve taken so much away from this simple little poem – there are so many parallels to all sorts of things like relationships, tough times, running, parenting, deployments, etc. I can’t get enough of it and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Love, Expressed

For about half of our marriage, Eric and I do this thing where I ask him the following question:

“Why do you love me?”

He responds by saying:

“I love Lori because…., by Eric. I love Lori because…….” and then lists for that day and whatever may be going on between us. And then we switch and I do “I love Eric because…., by Lori”. So mine might be something like this:

I love Eric because he loves our kids. I love Eric because he loves chocolate chip cookies (and makes them better than I do!). I love Eric because he did the dishes last night just because….etc.etc..
You get the idea. Some days the lists are long, some days its just one or two things. This is one of our corny little “us” things that we do to say more than just “I love you”. Sometimes those three little words can be said without much thought, more out of habit, much like the way we ask someone “How are you doing?” with not really wanting an answer of any depth. “Oh Good, and you?” And then that’s the extent of it.
By listing specifics, I’ve found that it gives me clues as to what Eric values, such as my time, my doing odd jobs or projects that save him time, making his favorite meal, etc. It’s love, expressed. And done so in a very specific and tangible way. And who doesn’t love to hear why they are loved and delighted in?

I’ve started doing it with the kids, too and they LOVE it. They devour it, and ask for more when I’m done. I decided to do it with both of them at dinner the other night. Not only was it great conversation, (because seriously, they are 2 and 4 – the conversation can be lacking at times!) but it was a great way to get them to sit at the table and eat just a bit longer than they would have otherwise. It was a side benefit I never saw coming! After our “I love Jacob because…by Mommy,” and “I love Hannah because…by Mommy,” they then launched into “We love Mommy because….” And my heart, much like the Grinch, grew three sizes! I love these kinds of mommy moments.

While doing the dishes after our corny love-fest dinner, I was reflecting on their responses of why they love each other, but more importantly, what do I want my kids to know? If they learn nothing else from me, what 1 or 2 things do I hope they take away from me as their Mom? And as it usually happens, that 1 or 2 items eventually grew to become more of a list.

So here it is. If they learn nothing else about life from me, I hope they know this:

How to love, and express it. Know that love is a verb, an action word. It’s a decision everyday to care about someone even when you don’t “feel” the feelings all the time.

To have faith. Through trying times, tragedies, and just life – faith is what gets you through. It’s what gets me through. I honestly don’t know how people get through the rough stuff of life without faith.

How to have a sense of humor and laugh. And be able to laugh at themselves. With faith – a sense of humor can carry you through rough stuff as well! That and it’s just good for your soul. And your face!

How to develop a lifetime love of learning and reading. As Dr. Suess said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” We recently got a library card and I’ve taken the kids a few times now and I hope they love it as much as I do. The library system in our country is one example of how knowledge and education really is within EVERYONE’S grasp, regardless of race, socio-economic status, religion or any other category, so long as there is a willingness to learn.

To choose a spouse wisely. This one decision can be 90% of your misery or happiness for a bulk of your lifetime – choose carefully.

That what you do, matters. Little things like the way you treat people, your occupation, your diet, to exercise or not, all of it. It ALL matters. It all has far reaching consequences even when it seems that you are the only one a choice is affecting.

To not be afraid. To not be afraid to be themselves. So what if not everyone likes you? That’s ok. Be who you are. Be transparent and open. You’ll know better who your real friends are and it is much less exhausting keeping up with a fake version of yourself.

That’s my list….anything you would add?