"Very Slumping:" Things I've Learned from "Junie B. Jones"

Junie B. Jones is adorable. I discovered this during the summer when I read Junie B. Jones books to my kids. For those of you who may not have read them before or know what they’re about, Junie B. is a young girl (Kindergarten /First Grade) who gets into a lot of trouble.

But it’s the way she speaks to her audience while she’s getting into mischief that makes her adorable. This is because her voice is so close to an actual Kindergartener, though an adult, Barbara Park, created her. For example, she says that she “quick runned…” instead of ran, she can’t remember her teacher’s name so she calls her “Mrs. and that’s all,” and her heart gets all “pumpy” when she does something wrong and she’s about to get caught. Not to mention that she eats candy she found on the playground because she “…loves those guys, that’s why.”

One afternoon, I scanned through the titles of the chapters before reading to my kids, and noticed the chapter title, “Very Slumping.” I giggled when I read this, because I knew that something was going to go wrong and she would then feel very sad. But it was the description I loved because I could just picture her with her shoulders slumped and a sad, pouty face. Maybe it’s the mother in me, but sometimes I wish I could just reach through the pages of the book and wipe away her little tears.

From an author’s perspective, it’s easy to see how Barbara Park uses well the techniques of character, voice, dialogue, description, and show vs. tell. All of these are used and balanced well to engage and entertain the audience, which I might add includes everyone in my household from the ages of 8 to 40.

From an adult perspective, I’m thrown into the world of being a little girl again. I remember the promise I made to myself when I was little that I would remember what it was like being young so that when I was a mom, I could understand my children. I’m sad to admit that I very often forget what it’s like to be a kid, or even to be childlike.

But I’ve learned that I’m never too old to:

· Laugh,

· Play everyday (I like to read, write, talk with my kids, spend time with family, and ride on the back of my hubby’s motorcycle.)

· Identify with emotions quickly, especially negative ones, get them out, then get back to happiness or joy (sometimes I have happy feet that like to dance, others times I feel “very slumping” sometimes it’s in-between.)

· Forgive easily

· Be humble, submissive, and obedient to authority (God)

· Have a routine or schedule

· Learn everyday

· Do chores/work/service

· Be grateful

When I do these things, I have my happiest days. When I don’t, I have not-so-happy days. And who knows. Maybe on those days when I’m feeling “very slumping”, God is giggling at my pouty face and wishes to reach through the clouds and wipe away my tears.

An Attitude of Gratitude

A while ago, right when I was getting home from taking my kids to school, the sun was just coming out from behind Mt. Nebo. So I ran into the house, grabbed my camera and dashed out to take this shot. It was so fun to capture this moment on film that I didn't even care that I was standing in the gutter wearing my pajamas that make me look a bit like Elvis Presley. (Thankfully, there's a law in my town that says it's okay to take your children to school while wearing your pajamas--even Elvis resembling ones, and you can still be a good, ambitious mother, and that afterward it's okay to take pictures of the sunrise, still wearing said pajamas.)

Of course, taking a picture of the sunrise reminded me of the song "Sunrise" by Duran Duran. "Reach up for the sunrise, put your hands into the big sky. You can touch the sunrise, feel the new day, enter your life."

This song, and sunrises in general, remind me of being thankful, and when I'm feeling thankful and in an attitude of gratitude, I'm happy, and I like to be happy because it's really cool and way better than feeling sad or grouchy.

With that being said, I would like to share thirty of the many things I'm thankful for, in no particular order.

1. My family (husband, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, grandparents, ancestors etc.)
2. The Savior
3. My house
4. My pajamas
5. Hugs and kisses (not the chocolate kind, the calorie free kind)
6. Food that tastes really good
7. Learning
8. My house
9. The gospel
10. Good books
11. Computers
12. Shoes
13. My car (legal and everything)
14. My talents
15. Socks to keep my feet warm
16. Walking outside barefoot in the summer (except when I keep stepping on a hornets in the grass)
17. My garden
18. Fruit trees
19. Clothes
20. Creativity
21. Chairs to sit on or I'd be standing all day
22. Fireplace to keep me warm
23. Spring
24. Autumn colors and harvest
25. Music
26. Nature
27. Friends
28. Good people
29. Freedom
30. Makeup (sorry, what can I say?)
31. Exercise (I tried to keep an even 30, but this one popped into mind.)
32. Oh, and when my kids obey
33. Just one more. Sorry. Forgiveness
34. Okay, this is the last one. I promise. Love
35. The stars in the sky (Might as well make it 35, it ends better than 34.)

I hope you can take a moment and write down those things you are thankful for and feel your gratitude for them in your life. :)


Several years ago, I wrote my fist novel. It is still sitting on my desk in manuscript form, collecting dust, because it was rejected by publishers. There are many reasons it was rejected, and one of them was because the main character had a huge flaw. She was perfect.

She was perfectly beautiful, perfectly behaved, perfectly everything and it was rather boring and maybe even a little annoying.

So when I wrote my second novel, I gave my main character, Lexi, some imperfections, something to make her relatable and approachable. She came alive and seemed very real, experiencing embarrassment, fear, insecurity, bravery, anger, and other emotions that we all experience in our life journey. This, in my opinion--because I created her so of course I would feel this, made her seem loveable, relatable, and unique. And if there is one thing I have learned as an author, it's that you want your reader to relate with your main character on some level, because when they care about the character, they care about what happens to them throughout the rest of the story. (You can read all about Lexi in Deadly Treasure. A novel based on the real life mystery surrounding the Lost Rhoades Gold Mines.)

So why is it hard to look at our own imperfections and flaws and feel loveable, relatable, and unique? The song "Freckles", by Natasha Bedingfield, was awakening for me. Some of the lyrics are: "A face without freckles is like a sky without the stars, why waste a second not lovin' who you are." Now, "freckles" could easily be changed to "wrinkles" for the aging, or even "pimples" for the youth. In any case, "those little imperfections make you beautiful, loveable, valuable, they show your personality inside your heart, reflecting who you are."

Not only are we still loveable despite our little imperfections, but maybe we're more loveable and valuable because of them. (Unless, of course, it's stealing or something like that. But then that would be a major character flaw, not a little imperfection.)

So take a step back and picture yourself as the main character in your life novel. What quirky little imperfections do you posses? I bet most of them make you unique, relatable, and loveable.

Listen to "Freckles" on YouTube.

The Mind, Body, and Soul Connection

The mind and emotions play a critical part on the health of the physical body. Just think about it. Thoughts can release different chemicals in the brain, which can either make us feel good or bad.

Things that help us feel good: love, gratitude, happiness, service, repentance, forgiveness, sharing, learning, growing, hugging, and the list goes on.

Things that help us feel bad: selfishness, greed, ingratitude, guilt, hate, shame, holding a grudge against yourself or others, holding things inside, and the list goes on.

I don't know about you, but I certainly feel better and am happier, when I focus on those things that help me feel good. It isn't always easy, but when I truly focus on things that bring a sense of happiness and well-being, I feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually.