Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - May 31, 2017


1. What makes you feel accomplished? Explain.

When I was working at various non-profits, I would feel a sense of accomplishment if the proposal I sent to a foundation or corporation was funded; and the organization would receive a needed grant to do a project.

As a mother, it is seeing both Sophia and Olivia happy, laughing, and bringing joy to others. I love seeing them in awe of nature and the world around them.

Olivia and Sophia watching a monarch butterfly
that they raised fly away.
(Taken on August 23, 2008.)

Sometimes, feeling accomplished is doing simple things that I can see are completed: mowing the lawn, planting more perennials, or cleaning the house.

One of the blueflag irises growing by the pond in the pasture.
(Iris versicolor aka Harlequin Blueflag)

2. If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? Tell us why.

For some reason, I find this question challenging. The people who I truly want to talk with are ones who have died - my parents and grandparents. It's the questions that are left unasked and unanswered; or to hear their perspective and insight on different issues that I'd rather talk about.

My parents with Sophia and Olivia in Pella, Iowa.
(Taken on April 29, 2009.)

That being said, if I did have a talk show, my guests wouldn't be world leaders, celebrities, or athletes. Rather, they would be everyday people who have a story to share - something inspiring that no one would know about just  looking at the person; perhaps a lesson they learned and want to impart to others; or people who are content with their lives and want to talk about how they have created that inner happiness and sense of fulfillment.

3. Do you have a great burger recipe? What's in it? What do you like on a hamburger and where is your favorite spot to order one out?

Burgers aren't anything fancy here: just some salt and pepper. Sometimes I'll add garlic and onion powder; and/or ketchup and mustard. Beyond that - if I start monkeying around with adding too many ingredients - I'll have some family members who won't be interested in eating dinner.

If I'm eating a hamburger, I like to have ketchup, mustard, lots of pepper, pickle slices, and onion slices on it.

I don't have a favorite spot to order one out. I like hamburgers well-done with no pink in the middle. Often times, burgers in restaurants don't get their meat done to that level and I can't stomach eating raw meat.

4. What's the biggest anxiety producing thing you do on a regular basis?

Get involved in doing something that takes a lot of my time and interest; and then not allow enough time to get things done that should get done. It's a time management issue.

Doing something I enjoy - like needlework - is a good way for me
to lose track of time.

5. This is the last Hodgepodge of May. Tell us about your summer plans.

I read an article online about how parents only have 18 summers with their children and to make the most of them....to not let them slip by without creating memories to draw upon when the children no longer are living at home.

Making dinner over a campfire at
Lake Shetek State Park.
(Taken on June 9, 2012.)

Also, when going through my homeschooling files and getting rid of things I no longer needed, I came across an article about doing an A to Z Summer as a family. The magazine (a local one) listed specific places to go for each letter of the alphabet. Essentially, it was 26 different activities to do during the summer: about 9 per month (June, July, and August).

I created a list of ideas for an A to Z Summer that we'll be doing starting tomorrow. There are many things that we have never done as a family, and I'm looking forward to doing them.

In addition to these things, we will be doing some other activities as well: homeschooling, 4-H Camp in June, going to Arizona (Sophia won a trip to a leadership camp and Olivia wants to see the Grand Canyon), competing in two county fairs (one for 4-H and one for open class), and competing in the Minnesota State Fair.

Sophia and Olivia  competing at the Minnesota State Fair in August 2016.
They were representing the 4-H club for the Community Pride project.
They earned a blue ribbon. 

Sophia also will be preparing for starting PSEO classes by attending an information day at the college where she will be taking classes through, doing a two-week online college course, and starting two PSEO courses in mid-August.

She will be playing her harp at the Farmers Market and at a local church during the summer.


She will finish work on her harp CD that will be available in about three weeks. With that comes the development of a website and blog.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Tomorrow is the last 4-H club meeting of the year. I'm not sure what the upcoming year is going to look like for 4-H as both the girls are going to be in high school; and are at a different place in their educational and social needs than many of the youth who are in the club.

Olivia making a presentation about Greece
during our 4-H club's second annual
Festival of Nations in May 2017.

We started the club in Fall 2014 with the hopes that there would be more older youth than what we have. Currently, Sophia and Olivia are the oldest ones in the club. About half of the club is children who are 7 years old and younger. The other half are between the ages of 8-13 years old (the bulk of whom are 8-11 years old).

Sophia (in purple jacket on the right) leading a parachute game
in April 2017 at a 4-H meeting.

We are putting together the digital scrapbook for the club and - although there are a lot of activities that we did during the past year that were fun and educational - they also aren't all consistent with the girls' curriculum. They both enjoy getting together with other homeschooled youth to learn and play - it's just a major time commitment for our family.

I'm not sure, at this point, what to do.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - May 24, 2017



1. What color is prominent in your home? Are you glad about that or wishing you could cover it up or remove it?

White is the prominent wall color. Some rooms have colors (like yellow for the family room and my office; blue for two bedrooms; and green and turquoise for another bedroom). Other than that: all white.

Dark green is the other prominent color in our home. I found out it is a dated color after we had water damage a few years ago and needed to replace carpet in the family room and my office. That particular color is very difficult to find now.

I like the color and wouldn't change it in several of the rooms.

The green  carpet is representative of the color of the blinds and
some accent paint in various rooms of the home.
(Taken on April 2, 2013.)

That being said, the majority of our windows are covered with dark green blinds. This definitely has limited what colors we could paint walls.

If I could do anything over, I would keep the blinds a neutral color so that we could paint the walls a different color. (Although, as I type this, perhaps moving to neutral-color blinds would be good so that we could change things up a bit.)

2. What's something you'll NEVER do again?

Have an extensive amount of livestock. We used to have sheep, chickens, turkeys, and a horse. I enjoyed that time in my life; and loved seeing the animals roaming in the pastures; and the chickens walking around the yard and pastures.

Olivia looking at chicks at another farm.
(Taken on September 30, 2007.)

Given the season of life I'm in now and the length of life some livestock have, it isn't practical. I'm grateful I had that time in my life where we could have animals; and that I have the memories of them to draw upon.

3. Tell us a couple of ways you fit the stereotypes associated with your gender, and a couple of ways you don't.

I'm a stay-at-home mom who takes her daughters to a variety of lessons and activities, enjoys crafting, sewing, and cooking. Adopting both the girls has been such a blessing. I truly cannot imagine my life without them. They have brought such joy to it; and enriched it in so many ways.

Taking the girls to various activities:
Above: Sophia recording a CD that has
music she plays on the harp (May 2017) and
Below: Olivia painting outdoors at an art event (September 2016).

When I think of my dad and his role in the family (as well as other males), there are some things that I do around the home and farm that would stereotypically fall into the male role (or at least what my dad would have done):
=> Mow the lawn on the lawn tractor as well as fill it with gas and can fix it if the mower deck comes unattached (it's an older mower);
=> Repair the fencing as needed;
=> Deal with all the service men/repair guys - both with ordering the services, overseeing their work, and paying them.

4. May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. Have you ever owned a motorcycle? Ever ridden a motorcycle? If the opportunity presented itself would you hop on a motorcycle and go for a ride?

I have never owned a motorcycle, but have ridden on one. My first ride was during Vacation Bible School. If any child memorized a Bible verse by the end of the week, they could go on a short motorcycle ride on the back of the Pastor's motorcycle.

I memorized John 3:16 and earned a motorcycle ride.


The short ride - without a helmet and not very fast around the parking lot - was exhilarating and exciting...and so worth the effort of memorization at that young age.

As a side note, this was in the 1970s, so way before organizations began thinking of potential lawsuits and liability issues. No one blinked an eye at the fact that none of the children wore helmets while on a motorcycle because no one was wearing helmets when riding a bike.

A motorcycle from 1974.

In the past 15 years, I've only gone on two motorcycle rides. If presented with an opportunity to go again, I definitely would!

5. If someone wanted to understand you, what should they read, watch, and listen to?

The best way to understand me would be to read about the personality type INFJ, the astrological sign of Cancer, and a book about introverts.


In terms of watching something, maybe a t.v. show that I enjoy: Modern Family, The Goldbergs, Speechless, or Black-ish.

In terms of listening, the sounds of nature - birds singing and calling to one another, frogs singing, owls hooting, crickets chirping - all of these sounds are ones I love to listen to throughout the year.

An oriole and cardinal in the backyard on August 23, 2012.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Four years ago today, this was the sunset as I stood in the pasture looking to the west.



When I was growing up, our home faced west over Bass Lake. We saw so many amazingly beautiful sunsets. I am so grateful that our home has open views to the west so that - since 1995 - we can enjoy seeing the gorgeous colors of the sky and clouds as the sun sets.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday - May 22, 2017


The weather.....has been raining with some thunderstorms for the most part. Looks like more of the same for the majority of this week.
Right now I am....hoping that it is dries out a bit so I can mow the lawn and plant the gardens before this Friday.

Thinking....how much fun I had this past this past Thursday and Friday with Sophia and Olivia as well as two other families from our 4-H club.

We went camping in a yurt at Afton State Park.


It was different from the camper cabins that we've stayed at in the past. In concept, it's like a tent, except with more structure. There's a wood floor, wood stove, windows, and a door. The lattice work on the sides and wood poles on the ceiling hold the yurt's water-proof fabric in place.


We went on three hikes: one to the St. Croix River.


One through a forest behind the yurts...


and the third through a restored prairie that once was farmland.


We enjoyed making dinner and breakfast around the campfire. Thanks to the other families there, we learned how to use the grill to cook food in a pot and on a griddle. This opens up a lot of new possibilities for us now.


Reading....
just started reading The Bishop's Daughter by Wanda Brunstetter yesterday.

Favorite blog post last week....Closet Cooking had a recipe for Corn and Cotija Guacamole that we made while camping.


It was so good. The entire batch was gone by the end of dinner - all the families liked it. We already made another recipe once we got back home it was that good. We made the version that had the tomatoes and bacon in it.

Something fun to share....I'm not sure it's "fun" as it is more of an adventure/story we can tell. Around 3:30 a.m. on Friday morning while we were camping, I learned that adult deer do, in fact, make noise. It's a rather unnerving sound when you don't know what it's coming from.

The deer was very close to the yurt so there were lots of twigs snapping and crunching under each loud footstep. It stayed for quite a while near the yurt, went off for a while, and then came back.

Here's what deer sound like when they are alarmed and notifying others that something is amiss in their world:

As you listen to these videos, might I suggest that you close your eyes, imagine it's pitch black outside, and there's only yurt fabric and lattice work between you and the animal making this sound:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EWzg4eiJnM
Listen to: 0:28 – 0:40.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjqDaEYTIgc
Listen to 0:46 to the end

Surprised by the sound that deer can make? I sure was. In fact, the sound was so unusual that I ended up calling the police since I had Sophia and Olivia with me; and essentially nothing to protect us from whatever was lurking outside the yurt.

After more than 20 years of camping and living in the country, I have never been more terrified...well, except when I had a close encounter with a bear in the middle of the night while camping. But, that's a different story.

Now that I know what an alarmed buck or doe sounds like, I'll be more prepared next time and not scared.

On the menu for this week....haven't thought about meals for the week yet. Will be doing that later today since I'll be going to town this afternoon.

On my to do list....

This week, in addition to homeschooling, there are these activities:

Monday - chiropractic appointments (Sophia and Olivia), volunteer at the humane society (Sophia and Ann), graduation rehearsal (Sophia is playing the piano and harp), take Olivia to gymnastics, grocery shopping while Olivia is at gymnastics, and take Sophia to a three-hour recording session for her CD.

Tuesday - podiatrist appointment (me) to determine what type of soft tissue injury I have with the my foot as a result of falling down some stairs in March; and take Sophia to the graduation ceremony where she provides the prelude and postlude music as well as plays Pomp and Circumstance; and a song while the graduates exit the ceremony.

Wednesday -  Mary B. here in the afternoon. Take Cooper and Aspen into the vet. Go to Fare for All.

Thursday - Doctor appointment (me).

Friday - Olivia's last speech therapy session for the school year; and then gymnastics lesson.  Evening is the Twins game with a relative visiting from out of town.

Saturday - Visit with relative from out of town and out to dinner.

Sunday - Maybe a visit to two state parks that we haven't been to yet. There are spring wildflowers blooming at both of them that I'd like to see.

In the craft basket....started working on making a pair of socks using a knitting loom. The pins on the loom are so close together so it's kind of challenging. It will be a sense of accomplishment if I can complete one pair of socks.

Looking forward to this week....getting the gardens planted and having the yard mowed. I want to see things looking more orderly, tended, and colorful. It also will be nice to have the vegetables, fruit, and herbs growing. This year we have to put fencing around the vegetable and fruit gardens since there are a lot of rabbits.

Looking around the house....I'm so pleased with how the windows look. Had a company come in to do the outside and inside of all the windows. The second level we can't reach, so they've never been cleaned since they've been installed. What a difference! Even though rain and snow "wash" them, it's not the same thing. I can understand now why my Mom was so excited when the windows were cleaned for her.

From the camera...we made fruit pizza while we were camping. Each slice of watermelon has strawberry slices, kiwi slices, blueberries, and peach slices on it.

Other topping ideas could have been feta cheese and mint - for an even more authentic pizza-looking treat. The kids, teens, and adults who like fruit enjoyed this dessert. It was healthy and refreshing after hiking.

Also linked to:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty (Book Review/Notes)

This past week I checked out from the library The Charles Schwab Guide to Finances After Fifty by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz.


This book has a lot of helpful ideas for people approaching retirement, who are retired, and planning for their estate. I wish I would have read the first section of this book well before turning 50. There are practical ideas in it for people as young as in their 20s.

The book is divided into six main sections:

- When Retirement is at least Ten Years Out
- Getting closer: Transitioning into Retirement
- Life in Retirement
- Maximizing Social Security and Medicare
- Estate Planning
- The People in My Life

Within each section, there are questions that act as chapters (e.g., I'm saving for retirement - but how much is enough? Should I be debt-free before I retire? Now that I'm retired, how should I manage my money to make it last?)

I focused on the first section (When Retirement is at Least Ten Years Out) since it had the most relevant information to where I am in my life. Below are some things I found useful:

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

How much should you be saving?

Age you start saving                                  % of salary you need to save
20s                                                              10-15%
30s                                                              15-25%
40s                                                              25-40%
50s                                                              40% or more

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Where should your money go first

1. Contribute enough to your company retirement plan to take full advantage of your employer match.
2. Pay down high-interest consumer debt.
3. Build an emergency fund.
4. Maximize retirement savings.
5. Save for a child's education.
6. Save for a home.
7. Pay down other debt.
8. Keep investing.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Change your thinking. Make savings a part of your non-discretionary expenses. In fact, when you create your budget, put this at the top of the must-haves list.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Catch-up contributions do work. If you consistently put in the maximum amount to both a 401(k) and IRA and have about a 6% annual return, you could have over $500,000 by the time that you retire.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Comparison shop for long-term health care insurance. Check the quality of the insurer - financial strength, rating, and length of time in business. Then review the terms of the policy. Make sure you understand:

- What's covered: skilled nursing, custodial care, assisted living?
- Specifically whether Alzheimer's Disease is covered.
- Limitations on preexisting conditions.
- Maximum payouts and whether payments are adjusted for inflation.
- Lag time until benefits kick in.
- How long benefits will last.
- If there's a non-forfeiture benefit offering coverage even if you cancel the policy.
- Whether the current premiums are guaranteed in future years, or there are any constraints on future increases.
- How many times rates have increased in the past ten years - this is especially important.

Generally, between ages 50-65 is a the most cost-effective time to buy LTCI if you're in good health.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - May 17, 2017



1. May 17th is National Pack Rat Day. Sidebar-should we be celebrating this? Hmmm...

Are you a pack rat? Even if you're not a full fledged pack rat, most people have one thing or another they struggle to part with. Tell us what's yours.

Up until today, I never heard of National Pack Rat Day or anyone celebrating it. When I was growing up, my parents (who were born during the Great Depression) kept a lot of things on hand "just in case we need them someday."

There were plastic frosting containers - neatly washed and de-labeled - that they kept for freezing applesauce; drawers filled with fabric (for making clothes for us kids as well as doll clothes); and a box of rags (ragged clothes that were torn into smaller pieces that were used for dusting and cleaning the house).

As an adult and parent, I found myself having some of the same "collections" (e.g., plastic containers to store leftover food that we didn't eat and would use for another meal; fabric in bins; craft supplies). When Sophia and Olivia were younger, there were many toys and clothes...more so than they needed.


In 2012, I got rid of a lot of items that we no longer needed. A lot we donated or recycled; and there was - sadly - a lot of trash. Many of the items had served their purpose and we no longer needed them.

The things that I am struggling to part with now are items from my parents' home. I've been able to nicely integrate many of the items they had into our home after they died (in 2012 and 2015). However, I still am working on one room in the house (my office) that has a lot of items in the closet from them.

2. What are two things you know you should know how to do, but you don't?

How to fix the lawn tractor if it breaks down and how to knit.


3. Do you crave sugar?

Crave? No. Enjoy? Yes.

Do you add sugar to your coffee and/or tea?

I don't drink coffee or tea. I drink hot chocolate so I get some calcium each day. That, I'm sure, has more than enough sugar in it.

Do you use artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes?

No. I go for the real (unhealthy) thing.


When dining out is dessert a given?

It depends on where we go. We don't go out to eat very often. When we do, it is generally to grab a quick bite to eat at Subway or to celebrate a milestone in Sophia's and Olivia's lives.

Typically, the girls enjoy going to the Chinese buffet for a special occasion. There's a soft-serve ice cream machine there with chocolate sauce and these covered peanuts that are sweet. That's about the only time I eat dessert after a meal in a restaurant.

Are you someone who has slain the sugar dragon, and if so tell us how you did it.

Not even close on this one.

4. What's a trend it took a while for you to come round to, but now you can't imagine living without?

I think I'm out of the loop on this one. When I think of trends, I think of fashion. That's just not something that I follow too closely.

5. What's a song that reminds you of a specific incident in your life? Please elaborate.

Under Pressure by Queen is a song that I would listen to often on my way to take care of my Dad and Mom when they were in the end stage of their lives.

As much as I was honored to be able to provide the care they needed at home; and then visit my Dad when he was hospitalized and at the nursing home during the final three months of his life - it was a highly-stressful time and I constantly felt under extreme pressure.

My favorite part of the song is the instrumental introduction.

Here are the lyrics:

Pressure pushing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming, "Let me out!"
Tomorrow gets me higher
Pressure on people - people on streets

Chippin' around, kick my brains 'round the floor
These are the days - it never rains but it pours
People on streets - people on streets

It's the terror of knowing
What this world is about
Watching some good friends
Screaming, "Let me out!"
Tomorrow gets me higher, higher, higher...
Pressure on people - people on streets

Turned away from it all like a blind man
Sat on a fence but it don't work
Keep coming up with love but it's so slashed and torn
Why, why, why?

Love

Insanity laughs under pressure we're cracking
Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..

'Cause love's such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure
Pressure

My Dad and Mom with Sophia and Olivia by Minnehaha Falls.
This is where they had their first date.
On June 11, 2011, I took them around Minneapolis to see places
that would remind them of their wedding day.
It was their last wedding anniversary together
before my Dad died in January 2012.
We enjoyed a special lunch together, went on a walk, and
stopped at Dairy Queen.
It was a bittersweet day filled with a lot of love and memories.

As I read the lyrics through, though today, I realized that the ending, too, is particularly relevant and meaningful to what I was going through. I never realized it at the time...but that whole last stanza just stopped me in my tracks as I read it. It brought a flood of memories back about my Dad who was struggling with Alzheimer's Disease, and my Mom who was deadline with diabetes, blindness, and a host of other health issues.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

About two years ago this week, we were working on the first barn quilt that Olivia designed and involved over 100 volunteers in during the two-year Barn Quilt Trail project. On this particular day, it was about 35 degrees...just so frigid! In contrast, this past weekend was in the upper 70s.


At any rate, we weren't able to do any painting, but we were able to do some woodworking and filling the holes where the screws attached the framing boards to the main barn quilt.

This past December, we were finally able to finish the building, painting, and installation of 18 barn quilts. There's still some work that we need to do on the website and with printed brochures. Otherwise, all the barn quilts are in place and can be seen now.

Monday, May 15, 2017

WInsome Womanhood (Book Review/Notes)

Somehow Winsome Womanhood by Margaret E. Sangster got on my reading list. Written in 1900, it provides helpful advice and guidance to women of all ages. In a way, it reminds me of a grandmother or mother sitting down with her daughter and imparting wisdom that will help shape the life of the next generation in a positive way.


Although some of the concepts are outdated and reflect life in the early 20th century, there still are plenty of ideas that are relevant to life today.

Below are passages that resonated with me.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

...Especially to your mother, for a few years, during which she meets and passes through perilous experiences incidental to middle age, you may be as a guardian angel. Stay with her, dear child, if you can, you will not be sorry bye and bye.

It isn't the thing you do, Dear
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of a heartache
At the setting of the sun
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent, Dear
Are you haunting ghosts at night.

I read that poem above and so many thoughts came back about my Mom and what more I could have done. Even though I felt like I did a lot, there was always more I should have done.

I put way too much time into other things that weren't as important or that were important but weren't balanced in terms of time. In hindsight, I'd re-prioritize my time and spend it doing the things that matter the most with family.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Letters to one's family...should be punctually sent at due intervals....It goes to my heart to see the disappointed faces of father and mother when day follows day and Jenny does not write. They conjure up every possible reason for her failure except the right one which is that she is thoughtless and preoccupied, and her time slips by before she is aware that it is gone.

Love letters...should not be sentimental. One should never to any one write in a silly babyish style, or say a word of which she might in the future be ashamed.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A well furnished mind is like a beautifully appointed home: it has rooms for many things, and must be kept with constant vigilance....Simple neglect is more destructive than continual use. We often meet women who have ceased to grow because they have ceased to study, and ceased to be receptive and responsive.

A girl's greatest charm is not in a graceful figure, nor a beautiful face; it is in her power to interest those whom she meets.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Self-pity is a badge of weakness, and work done for money alone, is never noble work. The amount earned may indeed measure the worker's talent and it is a legitimate object to toil well and worthily for honorable hire, but one must not be sordid; one must dignify the work for its own sake; one must care for the enterprise and the business home, and the work she is doing.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Happiness is naturally the uppermost thought in the minds of both, when two young people meet and love. But there is a nobler thing than happiness of which they should make sure. Can they help each other?

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The wife who would be in every sense a helpmeet will not waste money: she will study frugality, and, to the end of achieving the best results, will keep very thorough and careful accounts.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Do not let rust gather on the mind. Even if tired and a little depressed, seek the tonic and cordial of the finest literature.

Into the home admit no degrading book...choose rather for your reading and your living, the book, as the friend, on whose reputation rests no stain.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

More trouble, strain, and discouragement in home life are due to mismanagement of money than to any other cause.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The whole education of a girl from her infancy onward should be a preparation for motherhood,, and this, not because she may marry and become a mother, but rather for the reason that the upbringing and nurture of the race in its earliest and more impressionable years is in the molding hands of woman.

Every girl in her relation to those younger than herself, and to some extent in her friendships with others, of her own sex not only, but of the opposite, is the better for having in her nature something of the tender and brooding love and compassion which are the mother's finest endowments.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

No mother does well to put herself too far in the background. She is the planet, her children the satellites, and she cannot step down from her proper place without disturbance to the solar system.

She must make much of herself for their sakes: she must not fall below a high standard; she must be bright, helpful, sympathetic, eager-hearted, and young with them.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

So swiftly fleet the years, so whirl the hours and days and weeks away, as the waves rush over onward to the sea that "What thou doest, thou must do quickly" is the word spoken to us as we stand in the midst of our years."

We should make much of the home anniversaries, as the children are about us. Birthdays come and go. Let every birthday be a festival, a time when the gladness of the house finds expression in flowers, in gifts, in a little fete.

(The author goes on to describe how every special day should be celebrated: anniversaries, graduation, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and any day in which anything "sweet and beautiful thing happened.")

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Every child's birthright is a happy home. No human foresight  can provide for the child a happy life. The future may be full of shoals and quicksands. But there is gladness enough to go round the whole world while the children are little and in the home nest.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

(The last chapter of the book focused on women who are at the end of their lives and eventually nearing death.)

Perhaps this waiting time may be one of physical weakness, and there may be a loosening grasp on the engagements which once seemed all important. The hardest lesson some of us ever learn is that life can go on without us.

It is fine when a woman can abdicate gracefully and graciously, not clinging to duties too burdensome for her strength, or stubbornly asserting herself when the day for her successor's domination has arrived.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

To the serenity of our waiting for the final Angel of Deliverance, all things contribute - memory, slow to receive the affairs of the moment, immaterial now, is back in the years when we were young.

Hope weaves around us her rainbow arc.

Love is unspeakably calm, free from gusts of passion, and pure as the snows of Lebanon.

Contentment surrounds us as an atmosphere.

We are drifting, drifting onward and we fear no "moaning at the bar," for we shall soon "see our Pilot face to face."

Happy Homemaker Monday - May 15, 2017


The weather.....was hot this weekend - in the upper 70s. This week, however, there is rain or thunderstorms forecasted for almost every day.
Right now I am....listening to the wren sing in the pine tree by the bedroom. I love hearing its song each morning and throughout the day.

Thinking....how much fun I had this past weekend at the Shepherd's Harvest with Sophia and Olivia. On Saturday, I brought another family from our 4-H club to the event; and on Sunday we met my sister there for a while.

My sister likes llamas.
This one was a friendly one she enjoyed seeing.

Reading...
finally finished Winsome Womanhood. Haven't started reading anything new yet.

Favorite blog post last week....it's not so much a single blog post as it is a Pinterest board with links to various resources on the internet (including blogs) that tie into the Further Up and Further In curriculum that Olivia will be using next year for part of her English homeschool class.

She wants to read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series and this unit study curriculum has a lot of hands-on ideas for bringing the stories to life. The Pinterest board I found has a lot of great links that will be helpful in the coming school year.

Something fun to share....last week the blossoms on the crab apple tree were brilliant. May 9th was the day they first came out and were so vivid.


By the end of the week, the petals already were falling from the tree and the blossoms had turned more of a very pale pastel color.

How quickly the colors change in nature; and each day a new palette of colors is revealed. 

On the menu for this week....still need to figure out some details on the menu plan.

Monday - something quick since we will only have about 20 minutes to eat between Olivia's gymnastics and the recording session for Sophia's CD. Maybe a chicken patty sandwich.

Tuesday - Blue Apron meal.

Wednesday - pork roast in the slow cooker.

Thursday - camping. Not sure what to do since it looks like it may rain. We need to bring a dinner if it isn't raining and we can cook over an open fire as well as one that we could make inside (maybe a slow cooker recipe that we start at home and finish in the camper cabin).

Friday - Blue Apron meal.

Saturday - leftovers.

Sunday - leftovers.

On my to do list....

This week, in addition to homeschooling, there are these activities:

Monday - pick up roses for the Ladies Tea at the nursing home, errands (Dollar Tree and Office Max), volunteer at the nursing home with the Ladies Tea, take Olivia to gymnastics, grocery shopping while Olivia is at gymnastics, and take Sophia to a three-hour recording session for her CD.

Tuesday - Homeschool co-op for both the girls; and a harp lesson for Sophia. Go to the doctor after I drop off the girls at home.

Wednesday -  Curriculum sale in the morning and Mary B. here in the afternoon. Window washers also in the afternoon.

Thursday - Camping at a state park.

Friday - Camping at a state park and then pick up transplants, seeds, and gardening supplies.

Saturday - Harp practice. Plant flowers, vegetables, herbs, and more strawberry plants. Transplant perennials and work on some of the flower gardens.

Sunday - Sophia plays the harp at both services. Continue working on gardens and cleaning the house. If the weather is better, have a picnic in the backyard.

In the craft basket....had a fun time at the Shepherd's Harvest learning two new skills: Saori weaving and bracelet making using tin wire, a colored cord, and leather.

The Saori weaving I had a lot of fun with. It was great using a variety of different colors and textures of yarn, roving, colored fleece, and bits of fabric.


I've been looking for a way to create memory gifts of my parents for my sister, brother, and I as well as my parents' grandchildren (9 of them). I could see Saori weaving as being a good way to use fabric that belonged to my parents - combine some of their clothing with complementary yarn and roving - to create something functional.


Olivia took the class with me and did a completely different type of weaving that turned out beautifully:


She used one color for the weft (black). The warp was already set up for her in a variety of blues. Because we came early to the class, we had the pick of the looms which was nice.

For those living in or near Minnesota, Saori Studio Fun is the company that did the classes. They go around and do Saori weaving classes throughout the metro area as well as host weaving days/retreats at their home. Going to a class is a great way to be introduced to this type of weaving without investing in the equipment. (Though it is quite tempting after how much fun we had at the class!)

The other class I took this weekend was a Sami-inspired bracelet. I learned how to do a four-ply braid using tin thread and a colored cord. Once the braid was completed, it needed to be sewn onto leather, a button attached, and then a leather-braided button clasp attached.


It was interesting to see how varying the cord and tin thread could result in completely different looks for the bracelet. Below is Sophia's bracelet that used the same braiding technique, but she ordered the tin thread and cord differently.


It was a more complicated way to braid even though the process is the same.

Sophia really enjoyed this class and wants to make more bracelets in different patterns. Olivia enjoyed the weaving class a lot more than the bracelet-making class. So, it was interesting to see how each one is different in terms of what they like to work with and create.

Looking forward to this week....going camping - even though it might rain. We have both a yurt and camper cabin reserved. The yurt doesn't have electricity, so I wanted to have a back-up plan in case it was too hot and we needed a fan and/or the girls preferred sleeping in a camper cabin.

I'm excited to see what the yurt is like - and to be able to spend time at the state park hiking, relaxing, and spending time with a couple of other families.

Looking around the house....my goal is to have the house Spring-cleaned by Memorial Day. I have a lot of work left to go if I'm going to reach that goal. It looks like much of the cleaning will be happening next week since this week has quite a few activities already planned.

From the camera...at the Shepherd's Harvest there were a variety of sheep. This one had four horns. I've never seen a sheep with that many horns.

We also saw yaks - including a baby one - at the event which was interesting. They have a very unusual sound they make when "talking" with one another.

Also linked to:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kitchen Table Wisdom - Stories that Heal (Book Review/Notes)

Kitchen Table Wisdom - Stories that Heal by Rachel Remen, M.D. is a book that I've had on my "Want to Read" list for some time now.


She believes that despite technology and its power to help those with medical issues, many people still do not live well. One of the things she recommends is to listen to other people's stories. This book is a collection of true stories that remind "us that the things we cannot measure may be the things that ultimately sustain and enrich our lives."

One of the stories, Meeting Mr. Right, talked about one of her former clients who was a psychologist and athlete who ran daily before going to her office. She often met a colleague there who was a psychiatrist. They ran together for many years.

After she was diagnosed with cancer, she noticed that the psychiatrist began avoiding her on the runs and didn't return her calls. About a year after going through chemotherapy and healing; she took a different running route and saw him. She caught up to him and asked him why he had avoided her.

"I'm sorry. I simply did not know the right thing to say," she said.

Dr. Remen asked the woman what she had hoped to hear, "Oh, something like, 'I heard it's been a hard year. How are you doing?' Some simple human thing like that."

This gave me pause for thought at how I have handled or mishandled situations in the past; and how when my parents were struggling with Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, and other health issues - and how I had to take on a lot of caregiving responsibilities - that many people "disappeared" - both in terms of my parents' family and friends, and mine.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Another interesting passage was this one:
Many of the people who come to talk about their cancer have ended up telling me that they have in some fundamental way felt alone all their lives. They have felt loved and valued by others for what they can do but not for who they are, and they have loved and valued themselves in this same way.
They have had relationships, lived among families, had neighbors, and worked with others, yet they have felt they have never really known the people around them or been known by them. Their cancer has made them aware of this for the first time.

*~*~*~*~*~*

This is one about listening that I know I have experienced as well as done. It was eye-opening reading it:
The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it's given from the heart.
One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely. We connect through listening.
*~*~*~*~*~*

This was another passage that I found interesting:

Death has been referred to as the great teacher. It may be the great healer as well. Educare, the root word of "education," means to lead forth the innate wholeness in a person. So, in the deepest sense, that which truly educates us also heals us.
*~*~*~*~*~*

Kitchen Table Wisdom has many moving and thought-provoking stories worth reflecting upon - whether or not a person has cancer or is touched by it in some way.