Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blogging Breather

Just wanted you to know I will be taking a little blogging breather. Time to stop and enjoy the flowers, the trees, the birds and the dragonflies. Ahh...the joys of summer!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Mother's Moment

One week ago, John turned 21. My baby. This has hit me harder than I thought it would, and I'm contemplating the years that flew by so quickly. I can see him pedaling down the sidewalk with his hand-me-down bicycle like it was yesterday, and the thrill he had when the training wheels were removed. I can see him with that backpack walking off to school, but stopping to wave good-bye to me while I was looking out the window and doing our secret signs for "I love you." I can see him dressed for his first dance in high school...just about the same height as the shortest girl in the class, Gretchen. I can see him backing out of the driveway with a brand new license in his back pocket. I can see him with his high school cap and gown on posing for the camera, arms flung around the backs of his buddies. I can see him heading off to college with his goods - especially making sure he had plenty of speakers for his music. And now, he has an internship for the summer...his last summer "free" before entering the world of a career he is trying to prepare for now. And he's no longer living at home. I would just like to encourage those of you in the midst of being busy parents to take the time to enjoy the moment you are in now. Right now. Remember what your child's voice sounds like...the smells of your child after a day of playing, swimming and living, the sights of his/her messy room. How well I remember how overwhelming some days were and the best part of the day was when the child was freshly bathed, read to, and now fast asleep. Savor. Treasure. Enjoy. It goes so quickly and before you know it, your child will be 21 and on the cusp of a life you have tried to prepare him/her for and now they are truly ready. And you can breathe a sigh of relief for them coming so far in life, yet you can never truly say the mothering is done. You'll still have your heart strings tugged and if life deals them a tough deal, you will still feel like that Mother Bear who dares anyone to mess with her cub. Thanks, John, for making my life so much more wonderful with your birth 21 years ago. I've learned so much from you and am amazed with the young man you are today! I look forward to the continuing journey!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Midsummer in Minnesota

Last weekend, we had the chance to be in Minnesota visiting Wes' parents. When Elder told us that our visit was timed perfectly to visit the Midsummer celebration there, we jumped at the opportunity! This Midsummer event was held at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. This is really a beautiful place! Sights of the day Young and old were wearing wreaths of flowers around their heads. RIGHT: The dancers performing in costumes were accompanied by a large group of musicians from Sweden. LEFT:Carrying the fresh flower garland to the site of the pole. Finally the Midsummer Pole is raised and the crowd goes least as wild as Minnesotans/Scandinavians get. Three generations celebrating a Scandinavian tradition; life has its sweet moments!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Opening Day!

Our local Farmer's Market opens today and I CAN"T WAIT!!! My mouth waters just thinking about those fresh fruits and veggies grown by nearby farmers. Here are some pics I took last year at the market:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Four Birthdays and an Anniversary!

We are kicking off our busy season here with these 5 occasions in just a three week time span. Let the cake baking commence! #1John's Birthday Can it be that my "baby" is turning 21 this year? He has the best sense of humor and will MILK any experience for all it's worth. John is UDDERLY good-natured - and will not be happy in any way that I am comparing him to a cow. #2Jed's Birthday We are loving having Jed as a part of our family officially this year! He is a true foodie and we look forward to many shared culinary times and he can cook for us ANYTIME! (But I still don't know if we are ready for the black squid paste.) #3 Anne's Birthday Last year she had her celebration at the bridesmaid's luncheon. You could say it was a busy day with this first, then a family bar-b-que on our home deck, then her bachelorette party after that! But, that's Anne...always busy with the mindset that it CAN all fit in somehow! #4 One Year Anniversary!Can it really be that A and J have been married almost a year? #5 Finally, we top off all the celebrating with Wes' birthday. The best for last ?? Well...put it this way: by the time Anne and John had all those themed birthday parties through the years (I admit I went all out with AT HOME Diner parties, Pirate parties, Swim parties, 50's parties etc.), Wes slipped under the radar and was lucky he got a card and cake. Last year was the worst: his birthday was just a few days after the wedding and in my journal I wrote that we had leftovers and walked around the local lake! I've got to do better this year!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What I Miss About Teaching

With schools being out now, it makes me wax nostalgic about my days teaching in a local preschool. I taught students in preschool/kindergarten in a class called StorySparks. The class was based on children's literature. Here I share with you two of my favorite experiences, and further reasons why I love kids this age: #1 The Madeline Story As part of a 4 part series on Story Stars, I wanted to do a day about famous story charaters from France. Crictor is the story of a snake who lives with Madame Louise Bodot in a little French town. We talked about the French flag, the way the French folks greet each other with cheek kisses on each side. We talked about how to count to ten in French and say a few words in French and we sang Frere Jacques. However, the star of the day was Madeline - the character Ludwig Bemelmans made famous. I brought in my Madeline doll and showed her little appendectomy scar. We talked about Miss Clavel and the orphanage there. The day was lots of fun and I hoped the students got an idea of life in another country. At pick-up time, Fiona's mother came to pick her up and asked Fiona, What did you do today in class? Fiona replied excitedly, Well, we pulled down Madeline's pants and Mrs. L. taught us how to French kiss! #2 The Curious George Story With the same unit of Story Stars, we had a day with all Curious George stories. The point was how the little guy always got himself into mischief. I thought it would be fun to have a dictated story/creative writing table about how the student would get into mischief at home if they were like Curious George. Kids told me how they would creep downstairs and change the clocks, eat ice cream in the middle of the night while watching movies, etc. Then, it was Richard's turn. I sat with pencil in hand ready to write down his plan of mischief. Our conversation follows: Mrs. L: So, Richard, what would you do that was mischievious? R.: Well, I'd go under the table and grab my Dad's nuggets! Mrs. L: (Picturing here how Dad would be hitting the ceiling in pain) Richard, I don't think Dad would like that very much! R.: You know, they're the kind of nuggets I get with my Happy Meal! Mrs. L: Oh! (Thinking here what a smutty mind I have to think of THOSE kind of nuggets!) I think that would be pretty mischievious!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Three Weeks Later...

Okay, so it's three weeks later and we are hanging up our paintbrushes! Just for comparison, I found some older pictures so you can get the idea of what we had before: blah off-white everywhere. It's so much fun now to see the new colors on the walls: not terribly bold, saturated colors, but colors none-the-less. THE FAMILY ROOM BEFORE (Christmas 2006) THE FAMILY ROOM AFTER THE DINING ROOM BEFORE (with John before the Swedes/Americans SVF party in 2006) THE DINING ROOM AFTER THE LIVING ROOM BEFORE (with Jed's parents post-wedding last summer) THE LIVING ROOM AFTER Pretty simple, really. Like when you get a new outfit for the first day of school, or a fresh composition notebook for a new class, changing the color of a room (or two) can renew your spirit. A chance to start anew, a chance to get rid of dusty, cluttered shelves and give things away that not longer are wanted, needed or desired. A chance to start the morning with sun streaming through freshly painted window panes. And, yet again, to find out that the spouse you married all those years ago was a good, no GREAT, partner in painting once again. (Even if he did think he did the windows and doors better than I did, and that I was odd for wanting to paint the front door black -)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nineteen Minutes

Something new and different! I've recently joined a blog book club and through this blog, we are discussing the book Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It's a mesmerizing book and our "discussions" are pretty impressive; if you want to take a look at them, go to Want to join? Who would've thought about a book club in this new way???? Sometimes modern technology blows me away...

What I Do at Work

For many years now (I started in 1981, took a break for several years to go back to teaching and came back almost 9 years ago), I have been working in the Children's Department of our local library. It's a busy place always, but especially bustling now that the Summer Reading Club is officially underway. Children flock to the library to join the club and participate in the many, many programs we offer. I'm often asked what I do at the library and it is this: Storytimes for 2 years olds and their parents/care-givers, Reference Desk coverage and artwork for the seasons with bulletin boards, flyer covers and such. It's been a busy time for me getting ready for the summer blowout, but it's all done now, so I'll take you on a mini-tour of our department: Welcome to the Children's Department! This is what it looks like now (all decorated) with the space theme, Star Power: To the Library and Beyond. Blowing up all these inflatible astronauts was a kick. They are pretty darn cute for astronauts. Here and there throughout the Children's Department are aliens, astronauts and space dudes. I designed and did the artwork for the large bulletin board. (Close-up of the sun and Mercury.) I designed the commemorative SRC (Summer Reading Club) T shirt for children and adults. (Pictured here with our Department Head, Eileen) I designed the reading folders for the Summer Reading Club as well as the activity flyer cover. How lucky I am to have a job that meshes my passions for children's literature, working with my hands and creativity, telling stories and interacting with 2 year olds and their grown-ups and learning something new every day! And it's especially wonderful because I do it on a part-time basis and can still travel, play and paint on the side!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Painting On

Painting, painting and more painting is going on within (and on) the walls of our modest home. We started almost two weeks ago and have yet to complete the job. Meanwhile, life goes on outside the walls of our home, and has kept us busy as well. Since we first "took" to our brushes, John has left for and returned from a mission trip to Costa Rica, Anne and Jed have left for and returned from Alli and Luke's wedding, we have gone to a funeral for a beloved gentleman, we have celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary, attended a silent auction and church picninc, and I have completed the library decorations for the SRC (more on that later). The good parts about painting? You have time to think and process while holding a brush. You can converse with a fellow painter about nothing and everything. You can see the transformation of color with day and night, and see how the paint in the can does NOT seem the same once on the wall. You can clean cobwebs behind furniture that may or may not have been there for twelve years. You can pretend you are doing step aerobics on the ladder up and down, cancelling the need to go to the fitness center. The bad parts about painting? It's kinda tedius and repetetive. It makes body parts tired. It makes you feel old. One has to be the spouse with the roller (the GOOD job) and one gets stuck with the little paintbrush going around the window frames, the door frames, the top and the bottom of the walls (the BAD job - and somehow mine). Drips and spills. Cleaning gooky paintbrushes. Unfortunately, we are not yet done. Fortunately, we are liking the results and are able-bodied THIS TIME. In twelve more years, we're going to hire out the job, leave town, come back and see it all done, and smile.