Saturday, April 30, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: X is for uneXpected

Today I attended a meeting at eXcelsior United Methodist Church. It was a great meeting: inspirational and fun! On my way home I stopped at General Store of Minnetonka. It was an uneXpected addition to my day, as I didn't know it was right on the highway along my route. I've heard of the store, but never been to it before.

General Store is kind of a folksy, crafty, artsy store and cafe. It's one of those fun places with cool, clever, cute, and funny items that make you want to buy them, even though you don't NEED one single item from that store, and if you do fall prey to purchasing, you'll spend too much. Well, I fell prey. What the heck. I've never been there before and may never be there again. (It's kind of far from home for just a simple shopping trip.)

I also eXperienced some uneXpected sadness while in this store. I'm still grieving over my son's troubles [marriage problems], and it hits me uneXpectedly, when I think I'm doing OK. Like today... I kept seeing things that I would buy for my son and DIL if they were still a happily married couple. Like little frames or other doo dads with "Love" on them, or napkins with cute sayings about love and marriage.

We don't know the ultimate outcome of their current problems, so I am not spending any money on things for a couple that may not be a couple much longer. It made me sad. A mom feels joy when a grown child has someone to love and has made the commitment to be together... and it's fun to support that with little gifts and such. My fun has been diminished, and I was uneXpectedly reminded of the sadness.

I've been doing OK overall, but it still hits me out of the blue. I guess that's the nature of grief.

I'm thankful for:
1) sleeping in and feeling rested
2) warm quilts on rainy nights
3) inspirational women
4) a surprise opportunity to visit General Store
5) making connections
6) gradually recovering from grief.. most of the time I do feel much better these days. It's nice to feel mostly normal.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Apirl A-Z Challenge: W is for Women

photo is from unicef(dot)org

A couple posts ago I discussed the book, Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn. That book made a big impact on me, and I'm still thinking about how I can help. So many women around the globe are suffering. I can't think about how huge it is, because it feels too overwhelming.

What I can think of is ways I can help that will make a difference to one or two or a few women or girls. We simply can't continue to ignore half the world's population and allow them to be oppressed, beaten and killed without some sort of response! I really hope that more people will read the book and will feel moved to respond. The more we can help, the bigger impact we will make.

Here is what I am doing so far:
1) my UMW circle (kind of a sub-committee of United Methodist Women) is going to help subsidize the families of girls in Cambodia so that they can continue to attend school. Education of girls is absolutely key to helping reduce and combat these problems that women are facing. The group through which we will do this is:

2) provide more loans to people through Kiva dot org (look it up! It costs only $25 per loan and is lots of fun, as you get to pick out who you want to support).

3) as hubby and I work out our retirement finances a little more clearly, I hope to perhaps sponsor a girl or woman through one of the many program listed in the back of Half the Sky.

Check these out if you are curious: [schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan] [do you know about fistulas? If not, ask me and I will explain] [connects women sponsors with needy women in war-torn or post-war countries]

Other well-known organizations such as UNICEF and Heifer International are beginning to focus more and more on women and girls because of the enormous needs. And helping a woman often has a larger ripple effect in a community than helping a man. Sad but true. Women tend to use their education, skills, and income to help families and children and to invest in the community. Men tend to use it for themselves.

Women hold up half the sky! So let's do our best to help our sisters around the world who are enduring pain of unimagine magnitude.

[This was a soap box entry! I hope you didn't mind and that you might even feel moved to help out in some way! If nothing else, please read Half the Sky. It is now available in paperback and should be in most libraries.]

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Vim and Vigor

April A-Z Challenge: V is for Vim and Vigor

Vim and vigor... I don't have any! My new job is draining all my energies. What I'm doing is reading written tests taken by school children. These are the required tests that each state gives under No Child Left Behind. This particular company for which I now work hires a boatload of people to read and score the tests. They contract with different states, so what I'm working on now is tests from ___ oops, I can't tell you.

The training was harder than I expected, and very mentally exhausting. That took two days plus a part of a morning, then I got transferred right into the test scoring. I am sitting in a room of about 60 people all working at computer stations, reading and scoring essays. All. Day. Long. It's kind of fun! It's kind of tedious! Everyone is concentrating and working very hard. You'd never guess there are 60 people in the room. It's quiet as a library.

At the end of the day I come home and can't do much, because my vim and vigor have vamoosed! But it's a temporary assignment, so I think I can survive the hard work. I'll be happy to get my vim and vigor back, whenever that happens! Victory!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: U is for Unimaginable

Unimaginable horrors are perpetrated against women all around the world. This is the main topic of a book I just finished reading: Half the Sky by Kristof and WuDunn. My book club read this one. It was excellent, however, it was very hard to read. This is a book about the horrible, abusive, unimaginable treatment of women and girls around the world. It focuses on things such as sex trafficking and sex slavery, rape, forced marriages, effects of childbirth at a too-young age, abuse and beatings that women put up with as a regular part of life in many places, lack of access to education and jobs. That list is way too long. It was a tough read, and I felt devastated reading about the awful lives so many women are forced to endure.

The good news is that the book also includes good things that are being done to help women and girls, to put an end to some of these awful practices. We all know these problems are enormous and won't disappear overnight, but we can make a difference, and to the women we can help, it is life-altering! I encourage everyone, men and women, to read this book. It is a great way to educate ourselves about what is really happening in the world. It is also an inspiration to get busy and DO something to help.

Just in my book group (4 women) we compared notes about ways we were inspired to help: sponsor a woman in Congo so she can recover from war atrocities, get some education, and learn some job skills (cost $27 per month), provide loans at Kiva dot org - When the loan is paid back, you can get your money back, or re-invest it in another borrower (cost $25 per loan), sponsor a girl so she can get an education (cost approx $150/year?), support a program that pays families $10 per month if the girl has perfect attendance in school that month (cost $120/year). All these options and many more are listed in Half the Sky.

Another book I just read was On Maggie's Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin. It started out a little odd, I thought. I didn't know if I would like it, but it got better as I read. It actually turned into quite a good book and a psychological thriller, kinda sorta... lots about marriage, relationships, fears, insecurities, friendships. I liked it.

As for my A-Z Reading Challenge for 2011, I am reading them by author this year. Here is the list of letters I have done and what I have left.

Alexander, Robert - The Kitchen Boy
Brown, Brene - The Gifts of Imperfection
Busfield, Andrea - Born Under a Million Shadows
Cheney, Terri - The Dark Side of Innocence
Cheney, Terri - Manic
Coelho, Paulo - The Alchemist
Danticat, Edwidge - Breath, Eyes, Memory
Eggers, Dave - Zeitoun
Garvin, Ann Wertz - On Maggie's Watch
Hawkins, Cheryl - Louder Than Thunder
Hoover, Michelle - The Quickening
Kristof and WuDunn - Half the Sky
Leavitt, Caroline - Pictures of You
Ollestad, Norman - Crazy for the Storm
Potter, Wendell - Deadly Spin
Skloot, Rebecca - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Stein, Garth - The Art of Racing in the Rain
Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

I'm exactly halfway through the alphabet, though I've read more than one book in some of the letters. Letters still to read:
F, I, J, M, N, Q, R, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
Between my bookshelf and my Kindle, I will have no problem finding books to complete this list. Now if I could just find a few more hours in the day.

Monday, April 25, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: T is for Tired

I started my new job today, and it was harder than I expected... not physically, but mentally. There is a lot to learn in a short time. I'm exhausted! Going to bed early tonight.


April A-Z Challenge: S is for Sundays

azaleas I bought to decorate church on Easter Sunday, in honor of my mom

Yesterday was Easter. I had a nice day! It was a beautiful, sunny day - finally! We've had our share of cloudy and chilly days. Easter's nice weather was a gift.

Sundays are really nice. They have been church days all my life. My dad was a minister, so we always went to church, with no exception. Even on vacation we would usually find a church somewhere nearby. When I was in college I did the typical pull-away-from-church thing, briefly. But I got back to the pattern of church-going after I got married.

In the last few years my current church has been changing and growing, thanks to the wonderful staff we have who have helped us "wake up." It has helped me solidify my beliefs and feel a much stronger foundation for how I want to live my life. Sundays are even more special to me now -- a time to recharge my batteries and re-dedicate myself to trying to live a good life.

It feels good to have come this far along the spiritual journey. And yesterday, on Easter Sunday, I got to sit next to a family with a CUTE little baby, about 6-7 months old, I would guess. She was adorable. That was a nice Easter gift right there.

I'm thankful for:
1) Pastor Penny and Megan
2) book group
3) a beautiful, sunny day
4) family enjoying dinner and a game of Boggle
5) azaleas

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Re-inventing Retirement

April A-Z: R is for Re-inventing Retirement

I call myself retired, but I'm really not. I'm semi-retired and working part time. I substitute in two different school districts. I love doing it. It's a perfect part-time job... well, almost perfect.

For several reasons, some of which are my own fault, I have not had as many sub jobs as I would have liked this school year. As a result, my income has been very sporadic, and not very substantial.

We could afford to have me retire, but not fully. I knew I'd have to work at something. This year has been an experiment, of sorts. The subbing would be perfect if I could guarantee I'd get two or three days per week. But that hasn't happened.

So,I am re-inventing myself as a retired person. I have been job hunting! I have some easy options available to me, but again for several reasons, I don't want to do them. So I've been looking out there in the world for jobs. I applied for three jobs and have not heard from them yet. There's still time, but of the three I really would only want one of them, and another one maybe.

Last week I went to a 4th possibility -- a job open house -- and got hired on the spot! It's temporary and part time, sort of. I'll be working on projects, and while a project is happening, I have to work full time. At the end of the project I can sign up for the next project if I want, but I don't have to. I am now employed full time for the next two weeks. That feels odd! I'm afraid I'll get too tired! Isn't that funny? I worked full time for years and years. Now after ten months being semi-retired, the thought of full time is a little daunting.

I'm still in the process of re-inventing how I can make this retirement thing work. It has been good, bad, boring, fun, and a little stressful. It's the fluctuating income that is harder to deal with than we had predicted.

So off to work I go! I'm back to packing lunches. I hope we have enough peanut butter on hand!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Interrupting for a Pillow

Attention! We interrupt this April A-Z challenge for a message from your sponsor: Giraffe Dreams completed a pillow and entered it in the Bloggers' Pillow Party contest.

I know it won't win, but I just like to add to the fun. Hate to feel left out, you know! The contest inspired me to get off my duff and MAKE this thing. These were leftover HSTs from a few zillion projects. I finally sewed them together and made this pillow just for fun. It's a travel pillow, about 14" x 20", good for reading in bed, taking a nap, or just cuddling with while day dreaming.

the back, with simple overlaps; easy to remove for washing

Check out the FABULOUS pillows on display here: Bloggers Pillow Party
Wear safety glasses, though, because your eyes might pop out of your head from the beauty and creativity.

Friday, April 22, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: Q is for Quiltiness

You all know I love quilts. It was easy to figure out what I would choose for my letter Q topic.

I have been making quilts since August 1999. I wish I had kept an exact count. I have made hundreds. Luckily I've had lots of help finishing them, the slowest part of the process for me. If it were up to me to finish every single quilt top I make, I may even have given up the whole craft obsession. Finishing them is hard and for me, tedious.

I love it when I can give away tops. See my letter P post of yesterday. Here are pictures of a few more I added to the box for Margaret's Hope Chest. In all I am sending her 7 quilt tops!

With this and similiar opportunities to send tops away, and with the quilting help I get from others, I'm able to keep Quiltiness in my life. That makes me happy!

I've had these blocks made for many years. Margaret's Hope Chest collection spurred me into putting them together into this top... finally!

a small quilt, about 30 inches square.. hope MHC can use it or enlarge it without too much work

The next two tops were made by others.. I don't remember who, and I don't remember how they ended up in my possession. Time to move them along.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Perfect Timing

April A-Z Challenge: P is for Perfect Timing

Today I found out about a place where I can send quilt tops. Not finished quilts. TOPS!! That is such a gift. For years I've had numerous UFOs on hand, and they weigh me down. This will greatly speed up my goal of completing UFOs. Completing them, in my book, includes sending them to other people for finishing.

The place is Margaret's Hope Chest. I've known about them before and have contributed quilts, but the collection of tops they are doing is a new thing. In fact, they are having a give-away. My name will go into the pot for contributing tops, for mentioning it on my blog, etc. etc. I'm more excited about sending away my tops than about getting my name in the drawing... but if I win, that'll be icing on the cake!

The quilt tops are due to MHC by the end of this month, so I don't have much time. The perfect timing comes in because I have just a bit of free time in the next couple of days, so I plan to use it to finish up some tops.. get borders on them and zip them out in the mail. And, of course, the best part is, they'll be finished and given to some deserving children who are in crisis or lonely or sick. I hope my quilts will help them.

Here are the first three that I have ready.

a row quilt -- I just found some more black, so I think I'll add an outer border before I send it

blue slash yellow

crumbs.. kind of small, but MHC said any size is fine, and they have added borders to others, so I hope this will be OK. Believe it or not, I have nothing in my stash that I can use for another appropriate border!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Overwhelmed, Sad, Recovering

April A-Z Challenge: O is for Overwhelmed

I've been really, really, really sad lately. If you read my blog regularly, you know that. It has to do with my son and dil. They are struggling. The future for their marriage looks dim. Nothing has been decided, but things are not looking good. Time will tell.

I think it is OK to mention this, because they are pretty open at Facebook about their "complicated" relationship, son isn't even wearing his wedding ring these days, and their friends all know, from what I can see.

This has been extremely painful. They are still "newlyweds" in my book (2nd anniversary is in July). Too early to have such deep division and enormous problems. It literally, physically hurts my heart.

Since I was made aware of the problems, I have not seen DIL. I have not talked to her. It's not my business; it's theirs to sort out. It still hurts... a LOT. I feel hurt on behalf of my son and on behalf of my (probable) loss of a DIL. And for the loss of the happiness and dreams. My mommy heart has suffered a big wound.

The good news is, son is well grounded and sensible. He helps me feel better. Lately I've had some really good chats with him, a little about the marriage and a lot about just things in general. That helps me heal, and I am grateful.

Today I looked at some of their wedding pictures, just to test.... I was able to look at them without the tears flowing. I had a little heart ache, but no tears. That's a first. So things are looking up.

I believe that happy days are ahead for us all, no matter what is decided. And that has helped me feel better, too. We always have such high hopes for our children, and it's hard to see them suffer. But... son has taught me about being graceful during and after a crisis.

Things I'm thankful for:
1. a son who has grown into a wonderful man
2. a postcard from my wonderful daughter
3. beautiful snow AND it didn't last long!
4. supportive friends
5. healing
6. starting to recover as Easter approaches
7. a bright future

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: N is for Nomination

Our grandfather clock now lives in a new spot. We moved it from the dining room into the hall. It works much better here with the available space. Isn't it pretty?

Hubby is still pondering how to finish it and get the glass inserted in the door and sides. FIL gave us a little plaque to attach to it. It has our names and his, and the date he made it. Did I mention that FIL is 91 years old?

FIL has been nominated for some sort of Artist Achievement award in his senior housing complex. There are several sites run by one company, and there can be nominees from each site. So I don't know if he'll win, but this clock was the reason he was nominated. Isn't that cool??

Monday, April 18, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: M is for Memories

Yesterday I went to a funeral of a former student. She died of a progressive disease and was only 23 years old. She was a wonderful person, so warm and friendly, smart, eager to work hard and be helpful. She and her mom had a very special bond. Even when my student lost her hearing and most of her vision, she could still communicate with her mom in amazing ways.

Seeing her mother brought back a lot of memories. I spent a lot of time with the family at doctor appointments, at the hospital, at meetings everywhere (school, clinics, and in their home). I was usually in my role as an interpreter. But sometimes I got to chat with her mom, and we talked about "mom stuff" ... watching our kids grow, and the hard job it is for moms when the children suffer. She had to really change her dreams and plans when her daughter, my student, started getting sick.

I have never had to deal with anything so difficult. Her mom was always so friendly and happy to see us... she made it even more fun to work with her daughter.

I have accrued some very special memories through my past work. Those memories have helped make me who I am today.

In honor of my student and her mom, I will try to be especially nice to others today and help make some good memories that will ripple through our community, making it a nicer place to be.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: L is for Learning

Yesterday was the 2nd meeting of a new crafters' group at my church. I invited my friend, J, to come teach us how to crochet. Three women were dutiful students and seemed to enjoy the process. I chose not to participate as I am happy with my plate already full with quilting and knitting.

Our goal is to work on projects for the community (local and world), changing our focus as we go, ala Craft Hope. We have made a few dish cloths for the kitchen at our church and plan to expand into prayer shawls.

In the meantime I had fun trying a couple of the projects in the book, Craft Hopeby Jade Sims... a dress made from a pillow case (it came with the ruffle already on!) and some shorts/pants made from a bandana. Both were quick and fun projects!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kisses and Hugs

April A-Z Challenge: K is for Kisses and Hugs

I recently finished this quilt top. I started these X and O blocks several years ago. This is one of my UFOs that I want to finish!! So I am making progress on that goal.

I added the Love and the je t'aime (French for "I love you") on the bottom and that really made the quilt, in my opinion. I was bummed that my "je t'aime" ended up crooked-y, but once it got all assembled, I decided I love it that way! It gives the quilt a jaunty, playful look, I think.

Not sure if I will ever have any grandchildren, but this one just might be worth saving for a grand-baby. (I majored in French, after all.)

Friday, April 15, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: J is for Jump!

Several years ago I saw a book by a professional photographer. He had taken portraits of many famous people. One extra pose he liked to request is for his subjects to jump! He made a book called "Jump" using all these jump portraits. He had photos of famous people jumping: Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, and Marilyn Monroe are three that I remember. All the jumps were so different according to the person's personality. It was so cool that I decided to collect some Jump pictures, too.

Over the years I think of it, sporadically, and take some jump photos if people are willing. I always forget when I have the cool opportunities! (Like when I'm at a famous landmark, for example.) I have a variety of jumps, too: some very crazy and some sedate, straight-legged jumps.

Very few of my jump pictures are available digitally. These are what I could find. I hope I remember to take more jump pictures!!! There is something about them that just makes a person smile.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iraqi Bundles of Love

April A-Z Challenge: I is for Iraqi Bundles of Love

A few years ago a soldier in Iraq (son of a quilter), noticed that the local people have very limited access to regular supplies. He hatched a plan in which he could provide sewing and knitting supplies to the local women, compliments of Americans.

He put the feelers out, asked quilters and knitters to send supplies, and he was amazed beyond belief to receive over 3,000 boxes. Imagine his surprise! He had imagined a few coming in; he would stack them in his tiny bedroom and distribute them to women in the area where he served. But he had to find a warehouse, forklifts, trucks, and lots of helpers!!

Since then he has run the campaign 3 or 4 more times. The numbers he received were a tad more manageable: around 300-500 each time. I participated in that first one, and one more somewhere along the way. This week I'm sending another bundle. (They are now sent to another soldier as the original IBOL Guy is no longer in Iraq.) This time the bundles will be given to widows in Fulujah.

Why specifically widows? Well, women in Iraq have a hard life. Widows have it even harder. Their "worth" is measured by having a husband, so widows struggle greatly. That struck a chord in my heart, and I decided to participate again.

The women will be able to use the fabrics and yarn to make things for their families and -- who knows? -- maybe even sell an item or two. We were encouraged to slip in a toy or other things for kids as most widows will have children or will know some children who can use what we send.

Here's my bundle for 2011. I had a lot of fun putting it together:

She will open it up and see this... I even had a ribbon that says Love on it!

The bundle is easy to remove from the box.

"Hello!" says the toy leopard! (purchased yesterday at Como Zoo)

Contents: 6 pieces of fabric totalling almost 12 yards, 2 spools of thread, scissors, needles, buttons, tape measure, 3 skeins of yarn, 1 pair knitting needles, a kid-size pair of shorts, flip flops, a hat I got at Como Zoo, a blank book with a pen, a spool containing one length of ribbon and one of rick-rack, and even some extra zip-lock bags for whatever use she can find.

Doing this is loads of fun for me! I hope it's fun and useful stuff for the recipient as well.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: H is for Home-made

A few months ago I posted a Facebook status which promised a gift of something home-made to anyone who left a comment. In return, that person was supposed to post the same status and make something for her comment-ers. I had only one person leave a comment, so it was not difficult to do my gift making.

I already had some hand-made cards left from previous projects, so I gave her two of those. I also gave her a knitted dish cloth and a quilted pot holder. I gave them to her last night at our quilt guild meeting. Turns out no one signed her status offer, so the gift-giving won't be paid forward, at least for now.

I thought I had a picture of what I gave her, but I can't find it, so I'm showing you this re-run of a knitted dish cloth to represent home-made gifties.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: G is for Gardens

Today I went to Como Zoo and Conservatory. My plan was to visit the giraffes, but they weren't outside! I ended up enjoying the gardens in the conservatory. It was lovely. I sat on a bench and watched people, read my book, took photos. And, of course, took photos as I walked around, also.

Hope you enjoy my photos of the lovely Gardens!

Gratitudes List:
1. people-watching
2. cute little kids
3. my practical husband (keeping me grounded in reality)
4. people who make a difference
5. this beautiful, gorgeous spring day!

Monday, April 11, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: F is for Fresh

Fresh smells
cut grass
spring air
laundry dried outside
windows open

Fresh feelings
after a work-out and shower
a refreshing nap
eating fresh fruit
Terry Gross, WHYY

Fresh starts
every day
every hour
after I put my foot in my mouth
a new year
after a catastrophe
with God's help

Saturday, April 09, 2011

E is for Everything

To everything turn turn turn
There is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose
Under Heaven.

As I mature I have learned more about life and about humanity. I am less judgmental than I used to be. Things that I thought were terrible I now see can even be positive. Even death can be a gift and can be something beautiful.

Everything continues to educate me. I am in love with everything.

Friday, April 08, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: D for Doctors

our doctor-nephew

When I was a kid, our family doctor was a guy who went to our church. He was also a family friend, and his kids were friends with my siblings. He made house calls! Can you imagine?? I remember many times when he would come over and give me a shot in my butt while I lay sick on the couch. I guess it was penicillin. I used to get strep throat every year! It was embarrassing to get shots in my butt, but even more so because he was a family friend.

We moved from that town when I was 12, so then I had a new doctor. I thought he was quite handsome. He was the dad of a girl who was my classmate. Once I broke my finger while playing basketball, and I had to sit in the waiting room before I could be seen. I started to feel a little faint from the pain and from waiting so long. That finger is still super crooked, so I guess Dr. Handsome didn't really know how to set a broken finger!

I don't recall ever seeing a woman doctor as I grew up. There were a few, brave, pioneering women who were doctors, of course. But I lived in small towns where the doctors were all white men.

In the 1970s women started entering those traditionally male fields. It's so much nicer now with all genders and races as doctors. We need the input and perspective of everyone to make it a healthier world!

By the time I started having children, there were more women in the field. I'm glad my kids got to see a wide variety of people in the doctor role!

My nephew recently graduated from medical school and is in his first year as a "real doctor." I'm sure his patients love him! He's a smart, cool, funny young man! We are so proud of him!

Thursday, April 07, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: C for Cars

Smart Cars - I love these cute, little cars. I want one! (I've always been a small car girl.)

I have a lot of memories of cars. I was born in the 50s, so the first cars I can remember had those big fins on the back. And they always seemed very big. Of course, I was small and had to stretch to see out the windows.

We used to drive to our vacation spots. Once it was from Minnesota to the state of Washington. I was 9 years old. There were no seat belts and no freeways back then. So there was a lot of going through small towns, speeding up, slowing down, and we always had to pass another car if we wanted to move ahead. And we kids would wiggle and crawl all over the place.

We also had no air conditioning, so I can remember hot, hot days on family vacations, with all the windows wide open, and panting in that hot air blowing in on us, not cooling us down one bit.

I used to get car sick in the back seat. I never threw up, but I sure felt like it. My mom would let me get into the front (forcing a sibling to move into the back) and sit between her and my dad. I'd lie down with my head on mom's lap and gradually feel better. My sibs thought I was faking it, but Mom knew! I've had motion queasiness my whole life, though it's not severe.

The first time I ever saw Cruise Control was when I was about 12. I'm sure it was the hottest new thing. It was not very common yet. My friend's dad told me he could drive without having his foot on the gas pedal. I didn't believe him, so he set the Cruise, and lifted his foot in the air to show me. I was flabbergasted. It was still another ten years before cruise control was very widespread.

On family vacations while driving in the car we used to play the alphabet game (find all the letters of the alphabet, in order, on billboards, and be the first to get to Z.) We also had a lot of silly songs we would sing. Camp songs and other goofy kid songs with motions.

After I got married we carried on the tradition of road trips. Hubby and I and our kids would usually go camping here and there. Once Hubby and I and our first kid drove to Michigan, camping along the way. Our car was small, and child was four years old, still in a car seat. Hubby removed the back seat of our car, anchored the car seat in the emptiness and packed in our our camping stuff around her. She was a pretty good traveler, and that was a fun trip. Second child wasn't born yet at that time.

My dad used to like to trade in his cars fairly often. He liked cars. Mom got a little exasperated with him back then. I'd come home from school and there would be a new car in the driveway. I thought it was pretty cool. Now hubby and I keep cars until they are barely able to limp down the street, and then we break down and get a new one. Cars are not fun to pay for!

And overall, cars bore me. So I'm surprised I decided to write about cars! My current car is a Toyota Yaris, and I love it. I call it my little jelly bean.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


April A-Z Challenge: B for Babies

a baby and mommy from Canada

I love babies! When I had children, I LOVED taking care of them as babies. I'm a good baby mama. Maybe not so great at the older ages, but I definitely gave my babies a good, healthy start in life. I kept them safe and warm and fed and loved and cherished, and they gifted me by being great sleepers (BOTH of them! How lucky is that?!)

Have you seen the movie "Babies?" I think it's a National Geographic production. You can get it from Netflix or the library. It's about 1 hr 20 min. long and worth watching. There is no dialogue!! So you don't even have to know English or have intact hearing to enjoy this movie.

The movie focuses on 4 babies from the day of birth until they start walking (around age 1). One baby is in Namibia, one in Mongolia, one in Japan, and one in the USA. It is fascinating to see how DIFFERENT their lives are, yet how they are all the same. One grows up crawling around in dirt, naked all the time, playing with rocks and sand. Another lives in a high-rise apartment, wears diapers, has toys and lots of city life and shopping and lights and action all around. All 4 of the babies are cute, clever, inquisitive, responsive to the moms or dads, interested in other children, learn to babble, crawl, walk. It's just cute! (And I developed a favorite among the 4 babies. If you have seen the movie, did you have a fave, too?)

Last Sunday in church I watched a super cute baby and her funny expressions, and her goofy hair going every which way. So adorable. I wasn't close enough to grab and hold her, though. I have been known to do that.

Babies love everyone and have the open hearts that our Higher Powers wish we would all have toward each other. You can see that in the movie "Babies." Let's learn from babies.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


I am participating in an April challenge, blogging A-Z in the month of April. I'm getting a bit of a late start. I'm so late, that the list is closed, and I can't even be an official participant. But I'm going to do it just for fun. Here goes:

For my A post I will discuss alligators. I am glad I do not own an alligator. Alligators are scary.

My nephew and his wife live in Florida. On a lake. Alligators live in their lake. They water ski. There are probably alligators in the lakes on which they water ski. Whoa! That might be great incentive to stay UP on the skis! (Something I never mastered.)

Once an alligator catcher came to their lake and captured a big alligator. My nephew can tell a very funny story about it, how the alligator guy spoke in one-syllable sentences. "Yep." "Nope." Maybe alligator catchers don't talk much, because they need to pay attention to the water and the alligators.

I am VERY glad I am not an alligator catcher. And that I live in Minnesota where alligators are not.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Life is a Gift to Cherish

As you know if you have been reading my blog, I've been sad for a while. All I can say is that something very sad is happening to one of my adult children. And if you're a mom, you know the mother pain that we feel when our children are hurting. It STABS us in the heart!

I have been struggling to figure out how to handle my grief. It's not easy. Intellectually I know that the problem is totally out of my hands. Emotionally, it is hard to step back and leave it alone.

I am putting my trust in God. Not that I am hoping God will help resolve the problem in any one particular direction. But I hope that the people to whom the sadness is occurring can feel loved and nurtured and comforted through the tough decisions ahead. That is my prayer.

I also realize that moping around being sad all the time is not good for anyone, including me. Gradually I am toughening up. I trust my adult child to make wise decisions. Me crying about it does nothing but make my eyes red and sore. I am trying to live in the moment and love life.

I have definitely found that the support of friends is crucial. My friends have come through for me at key times when I needed them. Thank you, my dear friends!! I am thankful that my adult child also has good friends to lean on.

As for my Life Stress #2: this week my mother is undergoing spinal surgery. She is 90 years old. The doctor seems confident that it is fairly straight forward and low risk. The only risk is my mother's age. But... she's pretty tough and resilient, so I'm praying that she will be fine. I will take care of her for a couple of days, and I hope I'll be an acceptable nurse! Send your good vibes our way, please.

Keeping my chin up and my hopes up. Life is fabulous, life is tough. Life is a gift to cherish. Friends and God and love will see us through. That's what I believe.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Tick Tock

We got a Grandfather clock!!! Our friendly neighborhood Grandfather made it for us! My hubby's dad (my FIL) has made one for each of his five children, and one for himself. We are the last to get one, and I'd sort of thought we never would. This was because of Hubby, who had certain demands about the design, not because of FIL.

All the others were made YEARS ago. Decades ago! Then when they moved back to Minnesota, FIL wanted something to do. So at age 90 he went back to woodworking and using electric tools, which scared MIL. But, as you can see, he was quite successful, and only hurt himself a tiny bit.(An occasional nick causing tiny loss of blood.)

Hubby will now have the task of staining and finishing it and getting it fully assembled. You can see the glass doors and decorative thingies to the side. That's the technical term: decorative thingies. I know! I didn't think I had the woodworking vocabulary down, either! But apparently I do!

Isn't it beautiful? Already I love having the tick tock sounds and the chimes on the quarter-hours. So soothing and homey! Tonight will be our first test: will the chimes be enjoyable overnight, or should we switch it to silent during sleeping hours?