This is where I go out on a limb and ponder a while.

Friday, December 30, 2011


I had a conversation with a friend about New Year's Resolutions. The question was "Can anyone ever keep their New Year's Resolution?  More specifically, can we change anything at our age?  We get so set in our ways, why bother even trying anymore.  I see many people in my age group making that statement.  "I don't make resolutions because I know I won't keep them anyway".  Ok, we do have a hard time changing our ways as we get older.  But I believe it's possible.  But usually one needs a catalyst to bring about a life change.  Most people call it a 'wake-up call'.  And I think I can safely say that it's usually not a pleasant experience.  It can be losing a job, losing a loved one, a near-death experience, chronic illness, financial disaster, a relationship break-up.  I'm sure there are many more scenarios that can be devastating to an individual.  The point is, it causes you to suddenly, shockingly, see your life with a new perspective.  What you previously valued may not be important anymore.  You may now feel a sense of urgency to try new things, cultivate new relationships or nurture more carefully the ones you have.  You also see with a new clarity how much time you may have wasted, and therefore, the need to be a wise steward of your body, life, the world around you, and your commodities become a priority.

Strangely enough, then, a wake-up call, although no fun at the time, can be a blessing if you choose to turn the experience around and make something positive come out of it.

I've always been a fraidy-cat.  Yep, always played it safe.  But I went through a life-changing experience this past summer.  I was seriously ill.  Spent 5 days in the hospital, the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me.  We found out later from the blood tests that I had Powassan virus (a tick-borne virus).  There have only been 6 recorded cases of it in my state (7 now, if you include me), and fewer than 60 cases in the United States.  10-15 percent of people who contract the virus die, and many people who survive end up with long-term problems.  Lucky me.  I am fine, no residual effects.  But let me tell you, I see things so differently now!  I feel as though I have been given a second chance and I'm not going to waste it.  I am trying new things that I used to be afraid of.  For example, I have always been afraid of horses since I got thrown off when I was a teen.  This summer I went on a trail ride on steep mountain trails out in Wyoming.  Our guide was impressed - he said if I could do that ride, I could ride any horse.  Yeehaw!  We're considering plopping a couple of horses down on our ranch some day.  I am laughing more and relaxing more.  I've always been convinced that healthy eating is important, but now it's a passion - I need to live to be 100 to do everything I want to do!  My 50th birthday is coming up in 2 months.  I've always tried to let my birthday slip by un-noticed.  Not this year.  I haven't decided what I will do, but I am going to be celebrating in a BIG WAY!

Here's E.  She's a pretty happy kid right now!

And me at the end of a two-hour trail ride.  Tired, but I did it!

I guess I don't really have a specific New Year's Resolution.  Just to LIVE LIFE in a BIGGER WAY!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Parent's Love

All healthy parents love their children.  I know that I love mine so much it hurts, and I am fiercely protective of them.  My husband jokes that messing with my children is like getting between a mother bear and her cubs.  Even now that most of them are adults, I still ache for them when they have to suffer through hardships.  But when my first child was born, I was sure that I was going to protect him from everything harmful.  This morning I am thinking about Mary.  She must have felt the same way.  How did she feel the first moment she saw her tiny infant?  I imagine she was surprised at the softness of his skin, the perfection of each finger and toe, how tiny the fingernails!  And the first time he looked into her eyes, she must have felt that same ache in her chest that told her that from that point on, she would always be slightly holding her breath.  Because she was not one person anymore, she was two.  That's the way it is with motherhood.

This morning I had the song "Mary Did You Know?" inside my head.  Do you think she knew what her precious little baby was up against?   I asked my husband that question as he wandered out into the kitchen for his first cup of coffee.  "Not a clue", he said.  But I think she must have had a hint.  How could she not?  She knew this child was born of unusual circumstance.  Therefore, even though she may have wished for a normal life, which would be a natural human response, she knew in her deepest heart that God had a plan for her son.  Perhaps she didn't know exactly what it was.  I don't think she could even be a good mother, knowing what was in store for him.  So God, in His infinite wisdom, let that slide for a while.  And so, Mary nursed, snuggled, and more than likely sang to her baby those first few hours of his life.  And she was a good choice for the mother of our Savior.  Because when the time came for Him to step up, He was ready.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cards

Don't you just love Christmas Photo Cards?  I used to turn my nose up at them.  I have to admit I was a Christmas Card Snob.  I thought every year I had an obligation to personally address a Christmas card to every individual on my list.  And people who sent photo cards were just plain lazy.  But I humbly stand corrected.  I am becoming so sappy and sentimental in my old age.  I've saved the cards that I received over the years and I have to admit, the photo cards are my favorites!  It's so fun to see how people have changed over the years. So which do you prefer?  A personalized card or a photo card?

Finally giving you a peek into my home.  Like I said before, I don't do much decorating!  It's very simple, but it's home. Yeah, a lot of dead animals on the walls ;)  It's what we do. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011


It's time to take a big breath and exhale.  The whole holiday  hurrah gets to me, as I try to do everything:  find the perfect gifts, keep the house beautifully clean and decorated, bake everyone's favorite treats, all the while maintaining a festive attitude for an eleven-year-old who clings to the lovely idea of Santa Claus.  But the house of cards has fallen.  E. is sick today and my car has been in the shop all last week, so I've been housebound (think no more shopping), and the sudden drop in barometric pressure today has brought on another migraine.  So it's time to let things go.  I may not get my gifts custom-decorated like Martha does - perhaps they will just get plain-wrapped with a stick-on label.  I may not get 6 different kinds of cookies made - maybe just our favorite kind of fudge and sugar cookies will do.  And maybe the man of the house will have to pick up that last gift for me.  And seriously:  Once everyone arrives, (grandchildren especially), and starts ripping open gifts, nobody will notice whether I vacuumed or not :)

Take it easy on yourself this week!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Slip and Fall

My daughter-in-law slipped and fell in the parking lot this morning.  It was an icy morning.  We had rain and temperatures hovering around the freezing mark.  She is not a clumsy person at all, but truth be told, she is 8 months pregnant.  So she ended up in the birthing center for observation.  She texted me to let me know that she was there and to inform me of what had happened.  Why did she tell me about it?  Because she knows I am a worrier and if I had found out after the fact that she had been in the hospital and didn't tell me about it, I would have been upset!  If I don't have the opportunity to worry about someone I love, then surely I have missed out!

All joking aside, I did some praying and then got back to the job at hand, which today happens to be writing out and addressing Christmas cards.  But my mind was on her and my newest grandson.  I am very anxious to meet him.  He already has a name.  He will be the sixth generation namesake.  At least, as far as we know, since it is virtually impossible to trace our family tree any further back than the potato famine in Ireland.  Record-keeping was pretty sketchy during that period in history, unless you're lucky enough to physically dig up church records or gravestones with your family name on them.

It's a strange kind of pressure, having a family name like that.  I wonder if she minds.  I didn't mind it when my first son was born.  But these days it seems as if nothing is forever anymore, especially marriages and families.  I pray that my families all stay together.

Two hours later my daughter-in-law texted me to let me know she was being discharged and everything is fine for now.  The little one is safely protected inside his mother, even during a hard fall on the ice.  She, however, has some bruises and a scratched knee.  I imagine she'll be pretty sore tomorrow.   How wonderfully we are made for creating, really, when you think about it...

Psalm 139:15  "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place"

Friday, December 9, 2011

That Moon

The full mooon.  Well, it's not officially full until tomorrow, but I like to get the party started early.  I'm talking insomnia.  It runs in my family.  My mom gave it to me, I gave it to 3 of my children, and we've all noticed that the full moon (along with a host of other things) keeps us awake.  And it isn't just the day of the full moon, it usually starts a day or so before.  Not sure if that's a psychological thing or a physiological phenomena, but it's there, and we can't deny it, so hey.

Anyway, what's on my mind this morning is bees.  Last night, we saw something on tv about bees and E. and I said we wish we could have beehives on the ranch and my husband said "Why not?".  She and I looked at each other and our jaws dropped.

I said, "But every time I mentioned having bees you told me you couldn't because you're allergic to them".

"I just meant that I can't handle them", he replied.  "Doesn't mean you can't."

E. and I looked at each other with big smiles and high-fived.

So now I have a new subject to research during these long winter months.  I love bees, and have no fear of them.  Does anyone have experience with beekeeping?  I would love to hear about it.  I took hundreds of photos of bees at the ranch this summer, because it's covered with wildflowers, but saw very few honeybees, sadly.  Just lots of bumblebees, and aren't they just the loveliest creatures, so fat, furry, and docile?

This butterfly bush was always full of bees and butterflies and bloomed for weeks.

I'm always happiest when I have a new subject to learn about!

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Little Girl

This is E.

Butterflies land on her all the time.  Babies reach out to her in the grocery store.

She's a snake charmer.

She's a bookworm.

And not just fluff.  Her reading scores are off the charts for her age.  And yet, her reading teacher tells me  that she is immature.  It's true, she forgets her worksheets sometimes, she brings the wrong book to class sometimes.  She also doesn't wear make-up, care about dating, getting her ears pierced, what the latest fashions are, or having a boyfriend, like some of the other 5th grade girls are doing.  Frankly, that's ok with me.

She cares about identifying bird feathers, finding deer sheds, photographing birds.  She knows everything there is to know about every animal that's indigenous to our area, and how they affect their habitat.  (She knows what the word indigenous means, too).  To tell the truth, I think she's more mature than her teacher realizes...

I think E's pretty interesting, just the way she is :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011


We have an egg!  E's hens have been molting for what seems like forever.  For those of you who are not familiar with chickens, molting is a period where they lose most of their feathers and grow in new feathers.  During this time, they do not lay eggs (and they look pretty pathetic).  So we have had to buy eggs from the store for the last couple of months.  I'm an organic fanatic, so I pay a premium for those eggs.  But today I finally found the first egg in the nesting box when we let the hens out this morning - yay!  We have 7 hens, so obviously we're not in full production yet, but it's a start!

This is my favorite, Honey.  She's a Buff Orpington, and she's the Boss-Lady, as she's the oldest hen.  Buffs are very mellow, and easy to tame.

We also have two Black Austrolorps, another favorite of mine - also very gentle hens.

And of course, one must always have the traditional red hens.  We have two Red Stars, probably the most popular of the large breeds.

And then there are the two Aracaunas, also known as the Easter egg chickens, because they lay pastel-colored eggs.  These are E's favorites, because she thinks they're the prettiest.  

Of course, all of her hens have names, and she insists they all have individual personalities ;)

We let our hens free roam, which is the best way to have organic eggs.  In all the years I've had chickens I have only lost one to a fox.  I guess that's probably because of the dogs (I hope).  We do shut them up tight every night.  I am surprised that they're still roaming this late in the year, though.  Usually by now the ground is snow-covered and they stay in their little barn and eat chicken feed all day.  I'm not complaining!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Gorgeous Morning

What a gorgeous morning at the bus stop today!  

We received a light dusting of snow overnight.  Temperature is around 20 degrees this morning, but there is no wind and the sun is promising to come up, so the snow should be gone by noon.

Oliver is begging for his breakfast.  Apparently he has forgotten that he gets fed after E. gets on the bus.

Don't worry, E., I'll feed him right away!  He doesn't look like he's missed too many meals to me ;)

I still walk E. to the bus every day.  I know, she's eleven now, and probably could go by herself, but I actually enjoy it.  For one thing, the morning sun provides the best photo ops.  And she wants me there and I like that the very last thing before she gets on the bus is a hug from me.   Before I know it, she won't want me by her side anymore, so I'm not in a rush to push her out the door on her own.

Enjoy this beautiful day, wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day Whatever: Thanksgiving

I skipped a lot of days.  Had to do a birthday party for my little girl - she was born just before Thanksgiving.  Then, of course, lots of preparation for Thanksgiving.  We had, hmmm, let's see....17 people at the table for Thanksgiving dinner, plus a few more visitors later in the day.  It was wonderful to sit down at the table and see all of my family together, happy, sharing a meal.  The next day we took some visiting family to see the ranch. Then Saturday, it was off to Macy's for some window shopping.  That was E's wish for her birthday.

Now things are back to normal, so I can finally post another day of thanks.  Today I am thankful for Thanksgiving, because it is the most wonderful day of the year.  I love Thanksgiving even more than Christmas.  I think it's because the gift-giving is not included in the Thanksgiving holiday.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Scrooge.  I love to give gifts, but the whole gift-giving thing has gotten so blown out of proportion that it has gotten to be a bit stressful for many people.  It has come to the forefront of the Christmas holiday, and I don't think it should be that way.  Thanksgiving is just celebrating family and being thankful for the many blessing we have.  I love that.  It's like Christmas without the added stress of shopping and wrapping.

If we didn't have holidays like Thanksgiving, we may not have the impetus to make the trip across the state to see family members.  Perhaps our children would not get a chance to see their Grandpa fall asleep with his mouth hanging open in the recliner with the football game playing on tv.  And maybe the Aunties would not get the chance to work in the kitchen, cleaning up the dishes together, laughing as they work.  And the Uncles wouldn't get a chance to sit out on the deck, smoking cigars, talking smart.  At least, that's what happens in my family, what about yours?  Whether you approve of it or not, it's all a bonding experience.  And it hardly ever varies much, year to year.  And that's what makes it so wonderful.  This year my mother brought a packet of old photographs and spread them out on the table after dinner and we spent a couple of hours poring over them, laughing and reminiscing.

I hope you had a special Thanksgiving this year.  If it was just the same as last year, it was still special if you were with your family.  Try to remember everything that was said and done with your family this year.  Years from now it will really matter to someone, I promise you.

We had a nice snowfall the week before Thanksgiving.  It was all gone in a few days, so I'm glad I got out to take a few photos.

Spider web outside my dining room window.

E and the 'dawgs'.

My li'l girl.

Sugar - waiting for something to happen!

Don't worry, the snow will come back. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day Sixteen: My Town

No time to write yesterday.  I spent the day with the dermatologist - no fun.  Very fair skin + years of living on the lake =  biopsies.  Fortunately, I've been wearing sunscreen year-round since my twenties, so not too much damage.  Ladies, wear sunscreen EVERY DAY!

Today I am thankful for small town living.  How many of you live in a small town?  I live in a town with a population of about 3,550.  It's a river town in East Central MN, about an hour's drive from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro. area.  My husband and I moved here about 16 years ago because we wanted our children to have access to the metro area for cultural events, a large choice of colleges, etc, while still enjoying the safety of living in a small rural community.  It has been a good fit for us.  I love that I know all of the teachers at the school, go to church with some of them, know many of the shop owners, and know the parents of most of the kids my daughter hangs out with.

Here's an example of life in a small town.  We had teacher conferences last night and it was dark when we came out of the school.  My car was parked a fair distance away from the school.  My daughter and I had to walk alone along a block with an overgrown hedge along the sidewalk.  There are no streetlights.  As we walked, I thought about how I would feel if I were in a city - nervous!  But not here.  Granted, there is some petty crime here - it's everywhere.  But I am thankful for our sleepy little town where, for the time being anyway, life is still slow, quiet, and safe.

Maybe we won't always have the luxury of living here.  In today's economy, you never know where life will take you.  But for now, as long as I have a choice, I'll stay here.

Today I thought I would share some pics of my yard.

I love this oak tree, it has such an interesting shape and it really stands out when the colors change.


One of my morning at the bus stop photos.

Isn't this a fabulous swing set?  The boards that support the swing at the top have grown into the oak trees, they've been there so long.  I like to think about how many little ones have been swinging on these swings over the years :)

The country road we live on.  Love country never know what you will see.

This is a typical morning, waiting for the bus!  The 'girls' are always hoping for a handout.


Well, all that's left is the dogs in their kennel, but that's like trying to photograph a whirlwind!  Some day I'll get pics of them to post.  Have a great day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day Fourteen: Coffee

This morning I am thankful for a good strong cup of coffee.  And my sound machine.  Sorry, I know it's not earth-shattering, but that's the best I can do for today.  The mighty hunter is back, and after 10 days in the woods, he snores!  So I didn't get much sleep last night and the strong black java this morning was a blessing.  I missed him while he was gone, but I am a very light sleeper, so one thing I did enjoy during his absence was many nights of peaceful sleep!  So now it's back to using my sound machine.  I purchased this one several years ago and I love it:

Sound Oasis Sound Therapy System
I bought it on Amazon - here's the link:

You can purchase several different cards for different sounds.  Not only does it help with the husband's snoring, but also the neighbor dog barking, traffic, etc.  My daughter also uses one for my grandson to help him sleep.

Now it's time to focus on the up-coming week's festivities:  The youngest is having a birthday party here on Friday (no school here that day).  Then perhaps a shopping trip this weekend?  And preparations for the Thanksgiving holiday next week.  Have a great day!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day Thirteen: Friends

I am thankful for friends.  Where would we be without friends?  I am thankful for the many different kinds of friends I have.  There are my blogger friends that I am just getting to know recently.  You are so interesting and charming and kind with your comments!  I love all of your blogs and getting to know you - your lives are so different and yet in some ways pretty much the same, no matter how far away you are.  Then there are my 'social' friends, the people I've gotten to know through my husband's job, my daughter's school friends, church, etc.  They are fun, casual friendships.  And then there are the dear, close, life-long friendships that are made when we were children and have been maintained for decades.  We have kept secrets for each other, we know everything about each other's past and we can often finish each other's sentences!  All friendships are to be treasured and nurtured, I believe, because you never know where they will take you.  A casual friendship can end up being the lifeline that keeps you afloat during a crisis.  Or perhaps it will be you that will be the savior in someones life at some point.  I don't think it is ever an accident when two people cross paths.

My best friend since the 5th grade, Paula.  This is our last photo taken together before she died from breast cancer.  Nothing can take the place of all those years of memories together.  She taught me how to laugh at myself and not take myself so seriously!

It's going to be a great week, I just know it!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day Twelve: Food

I am thankful that we have enough food.  Today I spent the day processing venison. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I prefer to handle it myself to make sure it's done right and to cut down on costs.  And I am thankful now to have fresh, organic meat in the freezer.  We aren't in danger of going hungry, but that doesn't mean I want to waste food or throw away money recklessly towards my grocery budget.  My youngest daughter who is just ready to turn 11 years old recently asked me why, if one has money, one doesn't just spend it?  I guess, to someone who has never lived more than 10 years, that is a valid question.  I tried to explain to her the importance of having a cushion, being prepared for the possibility of losing one's job or facing a medical catastrophe.  I know she listened, but in her world those are just not things to worry about. I guess I don't want her to worry about them, either.  Let Mom and Dad do the worrying.

Does anyone else put up venison?  Around here, everyone does.  There are countless venison cookbooks floating around, and you can get venison jerky, hotdogs, sausages, bratwurst, you name it.  What I would really love to try is venison bacon.  Is there such a thing?  Seriously - bacon is so bad for you, and I refuse to eat it, but I bet venison bacon would be a whole lot healthier.  I would eat it!

I'll be glad when the hunting season is over.  Then we can focus on the holidays!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day Eleven: MY Family

I have already written about being thankful for my husband and my children.  But today I'm thinking about MY side of the family.  You know how when you're married there is your side of the family and his side of the family.  I'm talking about my parents, my brothers, my cousins, etc.  I have to say thank you God for the family into which He placed me.  They are the reason I am the person I am today, the good and the bad ;)  I do believe that  babies are all born with a personality type, but the people we grow up with do have a pretty strong influence on how we deal with people and situations.  And I am so thankful for my loving family!

Brrr!  It's 28 degrees outside here this morning and I'm watching Matt Lauer on a sandy beach in Barbados, enjoying a drink called 'Monkey in a Tree'.  What a life, huh?

Update on the stray cat:  We tried letting him outside and he was absolutely terrified!  Poor, thing, I think he must have been a house cat before he ended up homeless.  He wants to stay in the garage, but that won't fly, because every time we open the door to the house, he shoots inside.  As I've mentioned before, we already have one cat in the house, and probably shouldn't, since my husband is allergic to cats.  So last night we moved his food and water dish, bed and litterbox to the shop.  We took him out there and stayed with him to see how he would react and he was one happy cat!  He loves it out there - lots of shelves and equipment to climb on and an attic, which of course, translates to kitty heaven.  We could hear him purring as he jumped from perch to perch.  I could even hear him purring from the attic!  He refuses to come out of the shop now, although he is happy to have visitors.  So, until I find him a forever home, hubby has a shop cat to keep him company :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day Ten: My Home

I missed a day!  So today I wasn't sure, should I call today day 10, since it's day 10, or call it day 9, since it's the 9th day I have posted?  In the interest of sticking with the calendar, I am calling it day 10, since I am just that kinda gal.

Yesterday was just a crazy day.  I had to take a stray cat to the vet for shots.  Fortunately, he seems to be already neutered, so I didn't have to pay for that.  He is a very affectionate, young, gray striped tabby.  Hopefully I will be able to find him a home, otherwise he is going to have to be an outside cat.  With my husband's allergies, it's already pushing it having the Curmudgeon Cat inside the house.  Speaking of which, I had to take him in to the vet, too, and have Dr. Laura give him his dose of worm meds  because he will NOT take his medicine in any way, shape, or form.  We've wasted so many pills, crushing them and mixing them into all sorts of lovely dishes of chicken, cheese, eggs, milk - you name it, and he turns his nose up at it.  At $7.50 per pill, I grew tired of that exercise.  And as for shoving a pill down his throat?  Not happening!  So I let her do the deed, and of course, she just grabbed his head and popped that baby right down his throat before he even knew what hit him!  Then he just looked around in surprise, as if to say "What just happened?"

Once I got home and got all good kitties settled in, I made a batch of applesauce from my last picking of apples.  Mmmm, the smell of warm applesauce in the kitchen is heaven!  And my Kindle came in the mail - yay!  It was my anniversary gift from my sweetheart.  Oh, I have been asking for one for Christmas for two years!  So, of course, I was a teeny bit distracted with that for the rest of the afternoon ;)

Anyway...Today I am thankful for my home, be it ever so humble.  And it is a humble home, nothing fancy.  It's very comfortable, though, with a big kitchen, which is good, because I cook a lot, and my family comes here often for big family get-togethers.  I don't decorate like a lot of people do on these blogs, although I think it would be so much fun to do so.  I love to see how people decorate, but I really don't have room for craft items or to display vignettes anywhere.  The things we have in our house are items we have inherited and most of them are purely functional.  They are lamps, wall hangings, framed photos, quilts, etc. and they all have a story, which is kind of nice.  I love a lot of texture, so I have leather, wood and organic fabrics.  And lots of big windows to see outdoors!  We live out in the country, so I see a lot of wildlife.

This lovely doe has been hanging out in my yard for a couple of weeks.

                In this photo, I am talking to her from the open kitchen window.  She is very curious about me!

Sometimes I wish for everything new, like this morning when my dishwasher decided to leak all over the kitchen floor :(  But who doesn't have days like that?  There is no perfect situation, so I just try to keep looking for the positive!

A few flakes of snow this morning at the bus stop!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day Eight: Educators

I am thankful for the people who teach.  The majority of the teachers I have come in contact with really care about their students and want to see them succeed.  They go beyond the boundaries of their job description and most people have no idea how much work they do.  It is not just showing up in the classroom from 8 to 3 every day.  They have to lesson plan, shop for classroom supplies, correct papers, and if they are in lower grades, they often spend hours doing cut-outs and such for art projects that little ones will need help with.  They are often the ones in our community who also teach Sunday School and Cub Scouts.  I don't know how they find the time to do all they do and have a family too.

I am one of the parents who have had to made a few extra demands on a teacher, and they have been more than accommodating.  I have had to ask for meetings outside of the regular conferences when there was a concern and I have requested permission to observe in a classroom.  With only one exception, the teachers were eager to do whatever was needed to help my children.  I know a few of my blogger friends are teachers and I just want to say - thank you!

Talking about teachers made me think about apples...

                    We picked our last apples from the trees last weekend.

It kind of made me sad to see the end of the apple season.

I hope next year we have as many apples as we did this year!  They were delicious!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day Seven: My Children

I am so thankful for my children.  I have 3 sons and 2 daughters.  They are all grown up now, except for our little 'caboose'.  She keeps us young!

When I got married I wanted to have children right away!  I always knew wanted to be a mom.  I guess that's a testament to my own mother, isn't it?  My husband, being the more level-headed person in this equation, insisted we wait at least 2 years before starting our family.  I'm grateful now that he did, because of course, once we started having children we never again had a moment to ourselves!  That is the way it goes, isn't it?

But I am not complaining.  I have loved motherhood every step of the way. I never understood the term "Terrible Twos" or "Fearsome Fours", or whatever.  I remember saying at each age that 'this is my favorite age'.  Wait, maybe there was a brief time with a teen-age daughter, about 14 years of age - that was a bit rocky...I seem to recall a lot of 'discussions' and a lot of tears.  But on the whole, they are a great group of kids, and I adore each and every one of them.

This is my family, with a couple of grands sprinkled in.  It is a couple of years old already, but in the interest of getting this post out today, I'm using this one anyway ;)

It's a gorgeous day here, I hope it is wherever you are, too!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day Six: Freedom

I am thankful for freedom.  This is a big one.

 Many  have questioned the "Occupy Wallstreet" movement.  We're not sure what it's all about and what they're trying to accomplish.  I'm not sure even THEY know what they're all about.  Regardless, the freedom to protest is something to be thankful for.

Today I visited a new church.  I really liked it.  It had the feel of my old church, the one I used to be a member of and is no longer in existence.  I miss that old church and have felt like I don't really belong anywhere ever since.  I think I'll go back to this church again next Sunday.  Yet another freedom I appreciate.

Have a great week! I'll be noticing how many times I have the freedom to make choices that are not available in some other parts of the world.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day Five: Solitude

Oh, I am so thankful for solitude!  I need it - no, I crave it!  I am one of those people who gets a little nuts (translate: cranky)  if I don't have some time alone to re-group on a regular basis.  And I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to spend a part of each day alone.  I stay at home, my daughter goes off to school and my husband goes off to work each day.  I am not anti-social.  I love my family and my friends.  But being around someone 24/7 makes me exhausted, physically and mentally.  Solitude rejuvenates me.  Even if I am doing housework, yard work, grocery shopping, writing, or whatever, I am working things out in my head, and that's what I need to do without someone else talking to me.

I know I am not the only person like this.  I read a book once called "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  She talked about how different personalities replenish their energy stores in different ways.  Some people feed off the energy of others and are therefore replenished by social interaction, such as a party.  Others, like me, are replenished by 'time out'.  So if your child comes home from school and heads straight for his/her bedroom and shuts the door for a while or zones out with the headphones on and doesn't want to talk to you, maybe it's nothing personal but rather a way of coping after being around people all day.

I guess this came to mind today because it's a 3 day weekend here (Monday is Teachers' Workshop at our school).  So no quiet time around here for me for the next 3 days.  That's ok, I just remind myself how quickly she grows, right before my eyes!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day Four: Good Health

Sunrise at the bus stop this morning.  The days are getting shorter...

I know everyone says it, but it bears repeating here.  Be thankful for good health.  I am so thankful that I and all of my family members are relatively healthy for the time being.  Like all families we have had our scares.  But we have pulled through and we are all still here, Thank you, God.

But I have to interject something here:  I thank God for getting us through it, not just for the healing.  Because sometimes people don't get better.  And some people have chronic illnesses.  And I feel uncomfortable saying that people who are healed are "blessed".  Does that then mean that those of us who are not healed are not blessed?  No way!   We are still blessed with grace and patience and strength to deal with the things we have to deal with every day when we have chronic pain and/or are handicapped.  Having faith is the only way I can be thankful for everything this life has to offer, in spite of the trials it presents.

This is one of my favorite pictures of a full moon.  I love taking pictures of the full moon, although my favorite subject is trees.  I am obsessed with trees.  But that's worthy of another post...

It is a fabulous, wonderful, scary, beautiful, funny, exciting world, isn't it?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day Three: My Computer

Yep, my computer.  It ranks right up there at the top of my list, because it allows me to keep in touch with so many people I love.  My mother lives far away and is not good at talking on the phone, but loves to communicate by email.  I print out all of her emails to me.  They are chatty letters telling me everything she does in her daily life.  It might not always be exciting things, but I like hearing about what she is doing.  It's the ebb and flow of the seasons showing up in her writing - digging up the geraniums and planting the bulbs in the fall, planting the seeds in the spring, washing the windows, etc.

My brothers are also far away, and I know we wouldn't hear from each other much if it weren't for email or facebook.  We all have busy lives and the chances of making a connection by phone are not good.  But an email can wait until the recipient is available, and that makes so much more sense to me.  Not only that, but we share photos - definitely a bonus.

My own children are all grown except for one.  Most of the time we keep in touch by texting since they are fairly close by, but we still email a lot and exchange photos and information that way.

When my brother David passed away a year and a half ago, the huge amount of connections I made on facebook was wonderful.  It was amazing how quickly people 'circled around' and offered comfort!  People I hadn't heard from in years were able to find me and get in touch - for many of them it was the only way they would have found information about the funeral arrangements as they were from far away.

My husband teases me for being addicted to my computer, but, yes, that's what I'm giving thanks for today :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day Two: Water

I am thankful for fresh water.  I know this isn't mind-blowing, but I have been dealing with a faulty kitchen faucet for several months.  It's been dying a slow death, gradually slowing to a trickle.  It had gotten to the point where I turned it on to fill the coffee pot in the morning and walked away to get the breakfast dishes and cereal out because it was too frustrating to stand there and watch!  I finally threatened to go on strike.  By that I meant paper plates, frozen dinners, and forget about processing any venison this fall if I didn't get a new faucet!  So last night I got my new faucet.  And it's a super nice one, a tall one that you can fit a big pot underneath and with the pull-down spray nozzle and the built-in soap dispenser.  So he really listened to me.  And this morning, I was so delighted with it, I almost wanted to just indulge in water play, just because I can!

But seriously, it made me think about how we take water for granted.  I remember when I was a child, my parents used to have access to a friend's hunting cabin once a year.  It was way out in the woods, very remote.  There was no running water and no electricity.  We used to get a kick out of hauling water from an underground spring to wash dishes.  And, of course, we had to use an outhouse.  It was fun for one weekend out of the year.  But as an adult with children, I wouldn't see the fun in it, day after day, year-round.  

When a disaster hits, such as earthquakes, severe weather, etc., fresh water can mean the difference between life and death. Here in Minnesota we rarely have a need to worry about it.  I do have a little water stashed in case of a power outage, but I guess I never seriously worried about it.  But let's give it a thought today:  there are still people in this world who have to draw their drinking water from a river.  The same river that is used for bathing and laundering.  It's unimaginable to us, but it is the only option for many people.  It is the only life they know.  And we don't even think twice about turning on the faucet and letting the water run for a while to let it get to the right temperature.

               I am so thankful for fresh, clean water.  I won't take it for granted.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thankfulness: Day One

A friend gave me the idea to come up with one thing each day this month to be thankful for.  If you are a reader of my blog, you know I already practice an attitude of gratitude, but making it a public announcement each day is a great idea.  It's also a powerful motivator to write something each day.  Today is an easy one.  Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary.  So I am thankful for my husband.  He is one in a million.  He is totally devoted to me and as loyal as they come.  He tells me on a daily basis that I am beautiful and makes me feel cherished.  He works hard to make it possible for me to stay at home to take care of my home and child (and him!).  What more could a woman ask for?

This is going to be a fun project and I am looking forward to checking in here every day.  I don't think it will be difficult at all to find something to be thankful for!

This is me and the love of my life!  This photo is 3 years old, but we haven't changed too much since then.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Be Present

Life is not fun most of the time.  I, for one, find myself rushing through the ordinary day to day stuff, all the while dreaming about my 'someday', which is a long way off, of course.  But every once in a while I have a lucid moment in which I am fortunate enough to hear the little voice inside that says "Be present".  And then I force myself to be aware of the exquisite simplistic beauty of everyday life.  It is all I have for now and it may be all I will ever have.  None of us knows how many tomorrows we will have.  How ridiculous it is to not take in whatever pleasure we can from everyday life.  It is possible to find pleasure, even physical comfort, in something as mundane as washing dishes.  This morning I removed two of my favorite coffee mugs from the dishwasher and noticed some coffee rings on the inside of them.  So I filled the sink with warm soapy water and left them to soak for a few minutes.  When I came back to wash them by hand, the sun had moved around to that window over the kitchen sink.  It was a chilly morning and as I sank my hands into the warm, sudsy water, I sighed and closed my eyes for a moment. The feeling of the warm water on my hands, the smell of the scented detergent, and the sun on my face felt truly indulgent.  I took my time washing the mugs in a leisurely fashion.  Then I went through my cupboard and found a few more cups that looked like they could use a good washing also.

I've been spending a lot of time lately just appreciating the simple things.  As I'm writing this, I remember something I wrote one day in September as I was sitting out on the deck:

Warm, sunny September afternoon, like juicy plum juice running down your chin.  Makes you feel like lying down in a sunny patch for a nap.  Even the sound of the wasps buzzing around the window is a friendly, lazy sound.  I want to close my eyes and hold onto the sound and the warmth, keeping it for a little longer.  I feel a sense of urgency to drink in every moment like this, knowing these days are numbered.  A small shower overnight has brought forth the perfume of the fall leaves and it is intoxicating.  The cat lies in the sun, eyes closed, yet I know he is not sleeping – the soft rumble coming from deep inside his chest is a dead giveaway.  This is how I feel about my life right now.  Every moment feels exquisite and I want to savor it and examine it, memorizing every aspect of it.  So many people and things that are dear to me are at a turning point.   For me, a sudden life-threatening illness this summer that could have been fatal really threw me off-balance for a while.  I feel as though I've been granted a bonus and I need to use every moment wisely, the same way one would savor every bite in a box of gourmet chocolates.

Use your days wisely, be present, find ways to see the beauty in everything you do.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's About Time

Ok, I'm back.  It's time to get back in the fray.  I've been off the grid for a long time and it's been kind of nice and kind of awkward at the same time.  We spent the summer at the ranch and there is no internet access there. I can use my android phone to see what everyone else is up to on facebook, but it is extremely laborious to try to post something on facebook and virtually impossible to post on a blog, although there is an app for it, just as there seems to be an app for everything under the sun.  So I had to give up my electronic addiction for a while, and believe me, I did go through withdrawal!  But one day, my husband said  "We're going out west for a week!"  And he really meant it.  We went through South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, wandering through the mountains.  We were gone for 8 days and never had a signal on the cell phone unless we were in a hotel room.  It cured me from my addiction.  We did lots of hiking, trout fishing, sight-seeing, horseback riding, took hundreds of photos, and came back with a new attitude, which is what a vacation is for, I guess.

                                         So now we are back at the house,

dreaming of lazy summer days,

wishing we were at the ranch full time...

                                     But school has started. :(

 When we bought the ranch we didn't even know that it had an apple orchard - that was a bonus.  It has 15 apple trees and they are now in various stages of ripeness.    So I've been busy making pies and applesauce.  I guess I'll also try freezing apples for making pies this winter.  I've been giving away as many apples as I can because I don't want them to go to waste.  The deer are also enjoying them, as far as we can tell.                            

Organic apples - not a blemish or a worm on any one of them.

I LOVE making pies - for me it's a very relaxing and creative activity.

 I also have one plum tree, which yielded a most delicious batch of jam.

I know many of you are also in that harvesting/processing mode as I have seen photos of the beautiful results on your blogs.  I wish I could be a gardener - I just don't have a green thumb.  So I feel fortunate that someone already planted the orchard before I got there, because one thing I CAN do is make something good to eat!