Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holly Jolly Flash Mob

The U of M Carlson School of Management was the site for this flash mob.

You remember Kathryn? I wrote about her about a week ago. Her sister, Kristen, also in the People of Praise, is the young lady in the purple shirt who drops the money in the saxophonist's hat and starts the singing of Deck The Halls.

Well done and worth watching as we continue the Christmas season.

It has over 1,800,000 hits on You Tube.

Enough said.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Squishy Home Made Gift

No, we are not into making green food. 

One tradition in our family at Christmas time involves making gifts.  This year my little baker and I collaborated to make play doh for a few of the little kids in our life.

I've had the recipe around for over a year and just needed the time and opportunity to make it.  I got this one from my friend Ann.  Ann is amazing.  She is the mother of four kids (two of whom are red how did she end up with red heads? I'm a little envious.  It's one of life's mysteries.)  She currently maintains two homes, getting one ready to sell.  She has boundless energy.  She makes the best chocolate cake from scratch ever. And she knows how to make play doh.

It's simple to make and really fun for the little ones in your life that are always begging to play with flour and water.

Ann assured me that the play doh from this recipe is good for two months.  We found that one batch makes enough to fill about 1 1/2 of these kind of containers. 
We made three batches, each one using a different color of jello.  I wish the colors were more vibrant.
But this is more about finger squishy fun than my color preferences.

You need these items plus some water to make the play doh. The only foreign one for me is the Alum.  "It's in the spice aisle", Ann said, after I asked what the heck is Alum?
1/2 cup salt
2 cups water
Kool Aid powder (We used a packet of Jello)
2 T. oil (We used Canola)
2 cups flour (We added an extra 1/2 cup to get the right consistency)
2 T. Alum

Boil salt in water in sauce pan.
Remove from heat and add Jello. Stir.
Add oil, flour and alum. (We found out that the order here matters.)
Knead until smooth.

That's it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


W    O    R    K
Bored and restless, but experienced team desperately seeks employment in the areas of plowing and shoveling. Willing to re-locate if necessary.  Colorado looks promising.  


As I write, Kathryn is heading East on some long stretch of highway journeying towards home. She has just finished college, earned a degree in Journalism and seeks new adventures on the East coast.

I miss her already.

She swept into our life when we needed a "pick me up" and she did it so well. She was really just being herself, Kathryn.  But she brought something unique to us at the perfect time.

My husband and I were in a conversation a couple months ago with someone. She asked us, "What keeps you guys in People of Praise?"  We both gave it some thought and shared our answers.  One thing I said was that I really appreciate the many ways that People of Praise cares for the whole person. From the tiniest, smallest beings to the oldest and most frail adults, we are there - caring for each person. We offer dignity, hope, prayer, practical care, wisdom, financial support, car rides, living spaces, help with education, etc.

I mean, you name it, we try to do care for each life from the earliest stages to the last. We even care for couples as they are trying to conceive and we care for widows and families grieving a lost spouse and father.

When I think about that quality, I look at certain people who actually do it. Kathryn immediately comes to mind.  Next to her engaging conversation ability and work ethic, I will miss her effort to be in relationships with the young, the middle-aged, and the elderly. She has a heart for each person no matter their age. She makes a point of making friends with anyone around. And she goes out of her way bridge the gap of age and bless each person she thinks of and desires to get to know better.  She has blessed my children with gifts, her time, her hugs, her stories, her laughter. She called me one night to ask about her bringing Mary, an elderly woman in community, to our place for dinner. She became a roommate and friend to our neighbor Shellee.  She jumped right into our hub life taking ownership of it and doing her darndest to be there when we were sharing our lives together. And if she couldn't make it, she called ahead with a heads up, always expressing her wish that she could join us.

Did I mention she is 21 years old?

I mean, she kind of defies the usual image of someone that age. She lives as a sister in Christ to anyone.  She has strengthened our branch of the People of Praise with an example of caring for the whole person, a whole life.  And all of this in the midst of holding three jobs as a reporter, managing a normal class load, and being faithful to the regular commitments of our life in People of Praise.

Some day, we'll see her name in a prominent newspaper or magazine and she will have written about something amazing going on in the world.

But, I'll always treasure the little ways she chose to love.

Each of us.  Right where we are at.

Here she is surrounded by friends who love her.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On The Hunt

I have received exactly 56 Christmas related catalogs in the mail so far. I started saving them and counting in mid-November.  Just a little game for me to play until the big day. The day which as we all know is about ordering stuff from catalogs and spending, spending, spending.  Wait, am I on a soap box? I don't mean to be. Let me get down.

There is a point here.

I paused when flipping through one of the catalogs at this outfit.
I just absolutely love it.

I can give or take the belt. And the shades aren't my style. 

But the rest is really fun. I think its the colors.

Here's my problem. And its really all about the Math. 

I don't love the price. Jacket + Long Sleeve Tee + Scarf = Way Over My Budget. 

In dollars that's 128 + 58 + 45 = 231


The word problem might read something like this:

"Middle class wife and mother of three is on a mission. She wants to buy this outfit or one very near it for 75% less than what it retails for. If it retails for $231, how much is she willing to spend?  How many stores and websites will she need to scour before she either accomplishes her goal or keels over from sheer exhaustion and disgust at the mess she has gotten herself into."

I realize I just created a two-part problem. These are common in my home during homework time, so I am a pro at them.

Let me start with this.

I found a close look alike of the jacket at a second hand store for $23.

A steal.

I'm on my way.

I will keep you updated on my progress.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Frozen Fun

We came prepared for snow, skiing, wet snow pants, snowball fights and making long tracks across the lake.

We arrived to no snow, not one flake- but we had a frozen lake at our disposal. Endless possibilities. And we used it. A lot. We only have three pairs of skates between the five of us so we were not all able to skate at once. Yes, Ben wore mine. Scary, I know.  For the record, they are too big for me and too small for him.

All the girls improved their skating ability and enjoyed it more and more as the weekend wore on.  I impressed everyone with my Michelle Kwan spins. Not really, but they made cool patterns on the ice. 

We also treasure hunted and peered through the ice to all the water had to offer below. Fish, shells, a cinder block, and a 4 inch beetle (crawling underneath the ice so we saw its belly).

Ben invented a game on the ice. We call it "Rock".  We are not so inventive with names. Just games.  It's a combination of curling, shuffle board, bocce ball, and the like.  It involves etching fours squares inside each other and finding 6 large rocks.  At one point I wondered where he found the rocks. The neighbor's landscaping?  Hmmmm. I chose not to ask and just enjoyed the game. We played in teams and just one on one.  We played by full sunlight and bright full moon light. It was a hit.

 We stayed dry which meant we were able to suit up again and again and again and again.

Rocks, Skates, Ice, Good Friends and Good Food.

Oh, and our favorite canine companion.

A perfect combination.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What I Heard This Week

The kids have been father-less and I have been husband-less these last 7 days. Thought I'd capture a bit of our life with him gone. Here's what I heard around the house.

Eldest Daughter:  "Mom, we are having a sister conference so we can decide how to help you out while dad is gone."  Okay, who is the angel raising my kids while I'm sleeping? I mean really, this is for the record books.

Middle Daughter: "Mom, I actually got the right answer".  She has been working on a week long assignment. It teaches a child how to check their work. We always say it, check your work, but here it is in practice. It's genius. And may I say, this child has executed more perseverance through this assignment than I have ever witnessed in my children to date. More importantly, she is learning to find her own mistakes.

Youngest Daughter:  "I hope St. Nick puts Dad in my shoe."  Sorry, hon. He brought you Truffles and Candy Canes.  Maybe next year he needs a bit more notice. 

My Only Niece:  "How old will you be on your birthday?"  Me: "38. I am 37 now."  Niece: "Whoa." 

Joyce Meyer:  "Set your mind and keep it set."   I have been watching her on the telly occasionally as I exercise in the morning. It's a new thing for me to do. Exercise in the morning. I can actually do it. Why or why have I resisted all these years? Its really not that bad.  It has almost become a habit.  So, besides getting up early to exercise what else did I set my mind to this week?  "I will not eat that entire wheel of brie", I promised. "I just won't. By the time you are back from your trip, there will be brie left."  And there is, a wedge. 

Cyndi Lauper:

"Talkin' 'bout
Hey now
Hey now
Iko iko an nay
Jockomo feena ah na nay
Jockomo feena nay"

Got this one off i-Tunes after I heard it on my Laurie Berkner Pandora station. Takes me back to 7th grade at St. Mark's when a couple friends performed it for a lip sync contest.  Bongos are awesome in this one.  Remember every word after all these years.  For the record, I was part of a 4 girl, 4 guy ensemble who lip synced "Lollipop".  That's where I learned to slide my pinky finger on the inside of my cheek and make a cool popping sound. This skill comes in handy when entertaining little ones.

So does my crooked fish lip face.

Not sure where I picked that one up.

Youngest Daughter (again): "Will someone shut me up?"  She's in a cardboard box and needs the flaps closed.  Box became a tunnel, a house, a bed and a slide.

And last but not least, I heard from My Husband who sent a picture of him at Canon Beach with the words "Wish you were here." Then told me on the phone, "Sushi is just not the same without you.  You have to come out here with me next time, in July."

Do you think seven months gives me enough time to pack my bags?

I'm in. I am sooooo in.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This is the only item I requested on my Christmas list from my husband.
I really want one.  I think it will make everything I cook taste absolutely fabulous. Here's hoping. I am even willing to give up precious real estate in my cupboard to give it a home.

If I don't happen to get it this year, which really is okay, I can continue to borrow my next door neighbor's when I need it. Another perk of hub life.

Anyway, last night I made the following recipe in this awesome, yet heavy, cast iron pot.  My arms got an additional workout to the one they got during my morning Pilates routine.  Yes, I am now exercising in the morning. More on that later.

I got this recipe from my friend Jen and I wish I could credit the original source. Maybe its her, I am just not sure. Sorry, Jen!

I fully anticipated much groaning and lots left in the bowls from my three kids. Lentils just usually aren't our thing. I have rarely cooked them even though I really like them.  Well, I continue to be surprised by my kids. They ate to the bottom of their bowls without one complaint. I actually think it was a "hit".  Don't tell them, but tonight we get to eat the left overs.

Very unlike it was when my mom served lentil hot dish for dinner when I was about 6 years old. Those of us kids who were old enough to eat it literally had to count down with my dad to put each bite in our little resistant mouths. I am sure now the recipe was just fine. We just hadn't acquired the taste for lentils. I mean literally the whole meal was counting down to eat every single bite.  My poor mother. Nothing like slaving over a hot stove and having your dear little children around you gagging on your food.  She's a saint.

Anyway, here's the recipe and it is good.  I doubled it, but kept the garlic and onion to its original amount and it still tasted too garlicy for me.  I also skipped the cheese garnish and served whole grain and white Ciabatta rolls with it. Another big hit.

Lentil Soup

3 strips of bacon (3 oz.) cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into ¼ inch half-moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 ½ cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
½ tsp. dried thyme
2 cans (14.5oz. each) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
coarse salt and ground pepper

1.  In a Dutch oven (or other 5-quart pot with a tight fitting lid), cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.

2.  Add onion and carrots; cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.

3.  Add lentils, thyme, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer.  Cover; cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.

4.  Stir in vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper.  Serve immediately.  Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A New Wreath

Yesterday I was asked about our Christmas decorating tradition and I said that we choose to put up our tree on December 24. It is really quite a fun tradition and a rich one that includes delicious omelets, listening to Lessons and Carols live from King's College in Cambridge, opening gifts, and wonderful company.

She asked, "So what do you do the other 23 days of December?"  I said, "We do Advent."

This year I did what I should have done years ago and put together a new advent wreath and candles.

We were given a wreath on our wedding day and it is the kind that only holds those tiny tall taper candles, and this one barely held even those in place. They constantly broke in half, never lasted for the season of Advent, and just plain didn't look good.  I didn't care much for the form of the wreath itself.

In the spirit of frugality and beauty I made a change. I shopped for tall glass holders for candle inserts that would last year after year. I found some at St. Pat's Guild for a great price.  To ensure that I could use the candles for more seasons throughout the year, I bought clear holders and white candles.  Michael's supplied the ribbon and the rest just fell into place. I wanted to use real greenery and have that "Christmas tree" aroma at our table. I stopped at a tree sale by the side of the rode expecting to shell out a few bucks for garland. When I told the lady what I intended to use it for, she pointed to some branches on the ground freshly cut from the top of a tree. I could take them at no cost.  I was giddy. They were just what I wanted and free.

The girls and I took a few minutes this morning to construct the wreath and decorate the candles. We choose a simple design.  Tape seemed to be our only option for connecting the ribbon, but we didn't want it to show. Double sided tape would have worked beautifully, but ours has been hiding out in some dark corner of a closet for months now.  So, I thought of using sewing pins instead. My daughter rummaged through the Altoids box of pins I have and found some to match the ribbon.  Good call.

Now we have a more functional, longer lasting, and dare I say, a bit more classy Advent wreath.

Yes, we do Advent these days. And it is fun!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Suffering stinks.

I want to use other words, but am refraining from doing so.

My husband who turns 37 today encouraged me to write this.

Poor guy, on his birthday, we are eating lunch together and the heaviness on my heart is spilling all over the table into the awful tasting Thai food we ordered.  Seriously, I have never tasted such bad food.  And we LOVE Thai food.  It stunk.  Again, more words here that I am leaving out.

Anyway, I heard the news this morning of the unexpected death of a Trinity student (that's the fourth in about three years).  He belongs to a large family and I know his mom, the sweetest person.

I'm in the car just crying and feeling so sad for his family. For us, the Trinity family.

Deeper though, I am mourning the awful reality of another kind of suffering in another situation. Pain brought on by human choice, not by some accident or natural consequence.  It hurts too.

The contrast is...well, I don't know how to describe it yet, but the contrast is there. And, it is hard to be a part of.

Recently, I have been working with our daughter preparing her for the Sacrament of First Reconciliation. One evening, I was helping lead a group of 4th graders in an activity for them to better understand the reality of their bad choices and its effects on their relationships.  The African tale "The Festival Fabric" shows how our decisions to sin really actually affect those around us.  Our lives are interwoven, not just connected.  It's not some nebulous, cosmic or spiritual thing out there we sometimes refer to as the "Body of Christ"...its actual real human relationships that are broken down and in some cases totally destroyed when we choose to sin.  It just happens.  Whether we know it or not, like it or not, acknowledge it or not. It just does.  The tale itself is kinder in its approach to relay that message. I'm just tired of skirting around the issue or the language.  We can handle it.  There is real pain and suffering when one person chooses a horribly wrong behavior.

There is real healing that I trust will be a part of the days, weeks, and years ahead for this grieving family who lost their son last night.  The body of Christ in the form of other family members, students, faculty, friends, co-workers, the members of Nativity parish....all will support and strengthen this family who suffers much.  It is just what we do. 

There is tragedy too though when in such an unnatural way, brokenness and pain come into our lives due to the hurt caused by a person. 

I intuitively know there can be healing there too.  But have yet to see it in real form.  I think its the wait that leads to more hurt and pain.  But that's what real patience is, I'm told.  Walking alongside someone and helping bear their burdens.  Brought on by themselves or not.  Ick.  (Really refraining here.)

Life is hard.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Sweet Turkey

I was sent this photo yesterday - another version of the "sweet turkey".

Lots of high fructose corn syrup holding this baby worries, its cute factor supersedes all that.  Creativity points to the Root and Philbrick families!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Turkey

My mom posted this on our family facebook page since I am the only sibling in town this year.  It is a tradition to make them for our family Thanksgiving dinner. This year will be a smaller table, but all the more sweets for us!

"You need caramels, hershey kisses, candy corn and chocolate striped cookie. Assembly: microwave the caramels until somewhat soft (this is the trickiest part). Push the caramel on to the top of the hershey kiss. (this forms the feet of the turkey) Attach the cookie to the back of the caramel. Push the candy corn into the front of the caramel to form the turkey's nose. As you can see, the caramel has a lot to do. Happy Thanksgiving to you."

I'm thankful for a creative mom!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Reading List

Several weeks ago my mother in law, "Nana" as she is affectionately called, asked me for recommendations of books to fill her shelves so that when her grand kids come over, they have a good supply of books to read.  I mentioned a couple titles then and suggested looking at Half Price Books where we find great deals on classic chapter books.

Well, I thought about it some more and finally compiled a more complete list.  These are the books and series my kids enjoyed the first time through and ones they keep going back to for fun.  These titles have inspired their imaginative play, furthered their interest in history and contributed to their pure enjoyment of reading.  As a family, we have also borrowed some of these titles on CD from the library and listened together in the car.

I would recommend these titles for kids, some more suited for girls, ages five and older. And, our general rule of thumb is to read the book before watching the movie based on the book. The books are always more satisfying anyway.

Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.  We also have enjoyed listening to an adaptation of the entire series presented by Focus on the Family's Radio Theater.  It's a rare chance to hear narrator Paul Scofield and other talented actors.  Find it here.

Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace (currently being devoured by my six year old, lots to teach about friendship and family life). Find out more about the author and series here.

Little House On the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My girls and I spent a Fall weekend away this year taking a break from city life. We had a wonderful time touring the gorgeous hills and valleys of Southern Minnesota. We were blessed with the adventure to climb a steep bluff (in about 20 minutes flat) and overlook Lake Pepin, one of Laura's homes.  Our favorite chapter to read aloud from the entire series is the Christmas one from Farmer Boy.

Sarah Plain and Tall and Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan. These are two of my all time favorite read alouds - it can be done in one sitting and I think is just so beautifully written.  There are three more books in the series.

Charlotte's Web and Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. We visited Boston years ago and saw two swans at Boston gardens and about wept with joy - the book coming to life before our eyes.

All Of A Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. This is one I stumbled upon as a kid. I introduced it to my girls who just love it. It chronicles the daily life of a large Jewish family in New York who learn how to work, get along, become more independent, bless each other, share good values, etc. - all good things.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Enter his website here if you dare.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Mysteries and adventures abound.

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson and The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. My eldest loves to discover more about this amazing woman and she loves any book that expounds upon her life. She has been inspired to act out with her good friend Bella one of the most touching scenes in the book at the well, when Helen shows Annie her teacher that she "knows" what language is. 

Adapted Illustrated Classics such as Little Women and Heidi  ( I always tell my kids, "Some day you should read the original."). These though have a picture on each page and help to keep the interest of my youngest.  I purchased a few of these at $2/each several years ago.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (currently being devoured by my 10 and 11 year olds).

American Girl books. These have inspired a love of history, especially the 1940's and creative writing, at least in my house. Molly and Kit are the favorites.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson- Another favorite read aloud and can be read cover to cover in one long sitting. We laugh out loud every time we read about the six dysfunctional Herdman children and their takeover of the annual church pageant.  It is truly one of the highlights of our season to read this one and it actually does bring to light the real meaning of Christmas - the little babe born that day can bring about the most amazing transformations in one's life.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Other titles on our "To Read Someday" list, or ones that have been recently recommended by friends.

Ranger's Apprentice - Find out more about the series here.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - A feisty redhead and Prince Edward Island, Canada, a good combination!
Paddington Bear series by Michael Bond
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. His site is here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I remember as a kid picking a tulip, wrapping wet kleenex and plastic around the stem and walking to school to give it to my teacher.  I usually was not the only one presenting her with a flower. The wise and hopeful teacher had a vase on her desk just waiting to be filled. And it often was.

I just love the hope that these little bulbs bring.
When the lawns are dry, the leaves mostly fallen, and the gardens wilting, these guys represent a new season.

I've always envied those gardens near mine that are lined with gorgeous tulips in April and May. It just never worked or fit into my life to plant my own. But this Fall, I have 60 little promises planted in my front and back yard.  Man, I hope they all come up.  The pictures on the package make big claims.

Can't wait for all that color to return.  Makes me ache for Spring already.

I'm in trouble.

Somebody remind me I live in Minnesota.  Just to get me by, I am pushing for a back yard ice rink.  It's a tough sell in this house. The vote is currently 4-1, but we don't function as a democracy. Which is a good thing because if we did, I'd have to endure "The Show" being repeated on the iPod about 30 times in a row. Love the song, just not in my head for 24 hours straight.

Lots to look forward to - life is full of promise and potential.

For now I will just sit back and "enjoy the show."  Oh dear.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Moneyball Song

Ben and I saw the movie "Moneyball" starring Brad Pitt on Friday.  I would recommend this baseball-themed movie even if you are not a baseball fan.  I enjoyed the dialogue that some great actors pulled off very well.  They made some awkward conversations and sarcasm very believable. I didn't know anything about the story, so the movie was engaging for me just learning about the General Manager of the Oakland A's and his attempt to field a team with a non-traditional approach.  He has run ins with the team scouts (funniest dialogue I think includes these guys sitting around a table discussing whom to add to the team), the team manager, and players.  "He's got an ugly girlfriend", one scouts says of a prospect. "That means he has no confidence. She's a 6 at best."  Also, it was fun to see the interweaving of actual baseball footage from the Oakland A's historic 2002 season (they won a record setting 20 games in a row) with the rest of the movie.  And, our friend Steve joined us for the movie and he went to high school with the hero of the 20th winning game in a row, Scott Hatteberg - a fun connection.

My favorite scene, though was the one where Beane, the A's General Manager, takes his 12 year old daughter Casey to buy a guitar. He encourages her to sing a song right there in the store and she sings "The Show", originally performed by Lenka. The words are poignant and moving as Casey sings- she has divorced parents, is just a pre-teen, and she has a dad whom she loves and wants to support and encourage in his own problems. Her singing is easily the most tender moment of the movie and her dad's admiration for her is so precious.  Maybe its because I have an almost 12 year old who herself loves to sing;  I was touched by this girl's courage to bless her dad with a little song. I think too, though, that her role in singing the song is meant to be something more significant. At the end of the movie Beane is driving in his car having just had a meeting with the owner of the Boston Red Sox who offered him more money than any general manager of any sport has ever before been offered.  He has a decision to make - go where the money is and have a good chance at a championship ring, or stay with the A's where he has been for many years.  Casey makes a recording of "The Show" for him and as he drives, he listens to her give her two cents about his big decision then mesmerize him again with the song.  That's how the movie ends - this precious voice singing "Just enjoy the show."

I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don't know where to go, can't do it alone
I've tried and I don't know why

I'm just a little girl lost in the moment
I'm so scared but I don't show it
I can't figure it out, it's bringing me down
I know I've got to let it go and just enjoy the show

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Beloved Kite

Today I saw a tumbleweed (like this one.) An actual real rolling tumbleweed. I had to do a double take because I was driving in the heart of the city, over a 6 lane highway on a bridge. And there it was - just blowing down the road like it was on a wide open road somewhere in rural Oklahoma.

Today, was a gusty day. Winds near 50 mph. We have a gazillion leaves all over the yard and excited girls who want to rake them, so I am not complaining.

Anyway, today reminds me of a day in early September which I started to write about but didn't finish.

Here's what I wrote then with my ending tacked on.

This was me yesterday. Relaxing. Out with the family flying our arsenal of kites and enjoying the best cool breeze of the summer. The last one, I imagine.
It was all my idea.  "Let's go fly kites," I suggested.

And it was a great idea if I do say so myself.

We had just come off of three and a half days of hard labor playing musical  bedrooms. Each one of us got a new room. The dust pile ups, the junk pileups, the clothing we just don't wear pileups were all large and looming. But, we stayed focused and had some unexpected and wonderful help from Nana and Pops and we went to work cleaning, organizing, pitching, and polishing.

I must say, the rooms look great.  Everyone is happy. We each have more room. We all gained a couple square feet at most, but that is improvement.

Anyway, after all of this I thought it would be a good idea to finally enjoy the decent weather as a family. Just the five of us.

We headed to a huge open area near our home and let the kites do their thing. No effort needed on our part. They were on their own.   Literally, unfortunately.

So, here I am resting in the sun and attempting to keep my eye on the tiny dot of a kite almost 500 feet off in the distance.

Let me just say, I love my kite. It is the easiest thing to fly, packs into a tiny bag, and can reach the heavens.

Yesterday was no exception.

Here it is on that fateful day perhaps a little too close to another.
As you can see the sky was beautiful, the clouds crisp and white and the wind was suuuuuuuuuper gusty.

I was peacefully holding the end of the string when the youngest kite flyer in the family asked me to help wind hers back up.  We switched lines and I started to roll hers around the small cardboard tube it came with.

As I did this, it somehow escaped from my hands. I honestly can't remember how it did, but it did.  I yelled and immediately chased after the tube which was now rolling across the field and gaining speed.  I had my camera around my neck too, so my speed was more jogging like than full out running.

If only I cn step on it, I thought. I reached, I yelled, I laughed. It was all too funny.

About a nanosecond later, my little one is behind me yelling and I turn to see that she lost the grip on my kite and it is now making for free-er places.  I've caught up to her kite, stomped on it, but now have another mission.  Run faster, yell louder (because kites listen to their owners) and laugh and reach like a maniac before I totally lose this thing to the heavens.

Ben races ahead of me, across the street, and into a yard and nearly catches the end of the string.


We both watch, out of breath, as it raises higher into the air and the end of the string catches onto the top of a 30+ foot enormous tree.  It's in the back yard of someone's home.

What to do now?

Ben knocks. No one home.  What were they going to do anyway?  Bring out their 20 foot tall ladder and climbing gear?

We ponder our options - which are minimal. Wait for the wind to just take it and watch it leave our little neighborhood.  Wait for the wind to die down, estimate where the kite would land and try to retrieve it.  Or, and this was my thought, watch in horror as a plane flies into it, blows up and dives to earth and I am now a news item. Thirty-Seven Year Old Responsible for the Deaths of 180 Passengers Returning From a Pilgrimage to Rome.  Or, Rare Eagle Collides With Kite and Lands in Pre-school Yard - Mom Takes the Heat.

Options one and two were most appealing to me even though it meant probably losing my kite. "It will land in the river", Ben says. How does he know?  Now I worry about a fish or bird tangling with it. I was in a bit of a quandary. The kite was over 530 feet in the air, darting back and forth, and it looked really cool. I have never seen a kite fly so high. It was truly awesome.  But, I couldn't shake the thought of a tragedy unfolding, maybe a horrific one, at my doing.

We watched for awhile longer, got into the car and headed home. Ben then rolled the tandem out of the garage and with one of our kids, he went searching.  

He came back with a story. Not the happy ending that would have made for a good children's book, but a story. The kite had fallen and landed across several yards. He even saw the string across the yard of a certain local radio talk show host. The kite was caught in an electric wire and he phoned it in to the electric company.

That's it.

I lost my kite and my voice that day.

The End.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


 On any given day, but especially on Mondays (my chop, slice and dice day), I end up with a bowl of peelings, grounds, rinds, cores....slops basically.
 I take the bowl outside to the back yard we share with our neighbors.
 I add the contents of my bowl to this.
 In a few short months, give or take some time, it turns into this - rich, healthy, black dirt.
See the side-by-side difference? It's one of those amazing phenomenons of nature. The breakdown of our garbage into dirt so we can enrich our garden to give us more food to create more garbage - the cycle of life.
If you want a quick and easy guide to composting, check this out  Composting 101

We do it with our hub as a way to be resourceful and to nourish the garden we so lovingly plant and cultivate each year together.  I say "lovingly" to remind myself that even when the result is less than desired (this year, very few beans or peas), it is still important to love the process and try again.

Try it! It's easy to do, low maintenance, and a concrete way to play farmer-gardener right here in the heart of the city.