My oldest daughter and I were in the kitchen yesterday and she looked me up and down with concern.
“Umm..I was just wondering why you dress with such a mix of patterns lately?”
I looked down at my flowered skirt and buffalo checked shirt. “What’s wrong with this?” I asked. “They both have blue.”
This daughter has been professionally trained to assess cognitive loss in the elderly population.
So, I second-guessed myself.
Am I losing it?
Is the fact that I seldom leave the house starting to affect me?
Am I just getting old?
But I’m of Scandinavian descent — I like bright colors.
I’m an artistic type — I don’t mind a little mixing of patterns here and there.
Perhaps this is how I see myself:
But maybe this is how she sees me?
Part 2: My Morning Trip to Walmart
One day later, I got to Walmart as the doors opened; as the masked shoppers rolled past the greeters who now double as patron counters.
I was wearing a flowered skirt (again), athletic shirt (matching color), baseball cap (hair needs coloring), barn jacket and black boots.
Halfway through the dairy section, I noticed an elderly, well-dressed woman. She was a petite, classy grandma type, with snowy white hair, wearing a flashy red dress, fitted black wool coat, nylons and dress shoes, gold earrings, and red lipstick.
Remember, this is Walmart. The sight of her really stood out.
We finally crossed paths near the empty toilet paper aisle, eye to eye and cart to cart, though still six feet apart.
“I like your skirt,” she said to me.
“Thanks. I was noticing you, too — all dressed up here at Walmart.”
She leaned in and quipped, “We need to class this place up a bit, don’t we?”
I laughed and rolled away, smiling. (Also rare at Walmart these days.)
Korean stop sign, photo taken by my son because he knows I like stop signs in various foreign languages.
New local bakery where my daughter and I shared a pecan caramel roll and cherry turnover, good coffee and sweet conversation.
Blueberry muffins galore, made by my daughter and gratefully consumed on ski day morning.
Time alone on a chairlift– beautiful and peaceful silent time. Short and sweet and high off the ground, but I’ll take it.
Trying to walk regularly outside because I should, not because I really want to, so I grit my teeth and lean into the wind.
God frosted the trees for us, beautifying our homeschool ski day with His creative handiwork plus cheerful sunshine and no injuries.
My husband drove this cute little Mazda Miata down to Florida for a friend recently. It looks like a toy car, but he sure got lots of applause / envy from strangers along the way. The admiration sat well with my husband 🙂
I am sad to say goodbye to a wonderful audiobook trilogy about Crispin by author Avi.We finished the last of the three books this week.
From beginning to end, these stories about a young orphan growing up in the Middle Ages are adventurous, suspenseful, and touching.
Avi is a talented and prolific author and his first Crispin book is a Newbery Award Winner.
A new puzzle. This is our third Mudpuppy puzzle, and it’s Kaleido-Beetles! I like Mudpuppy puzzles because they have three pictures of the finished puzzle for reference as you go, making it easier for 3 or more people to work on the puzzle.
We are finally in the 1970’s in homeschool history, and this will shine a spotlight on why — for us — homeschooling has been the best way to go:
this may be the first time in my life I will truly understand what was happening in my childhood when I was too young to comprehend or care.
Questions like the following will be answered for all of us:
What is Watergate and why did they call it that?
Where and what was Camp David?
Who was the Shah of Iran?
Why did they put yellow ribbons all over fences and buildings?
As I assigned a few reports to my oldest homeschoolers yesterday, they didn’t get why I danced around the kitchen, singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” and got busy reserving “All the President’s Men” from the library website. They didn’t understand why I told them to: “Write the first paragraph of the report like a newspaper article — like a summary; like “Watergate for Dummies.” Explain the start of the Islamic Republic of Iran like you were explaining it to a child.
Hooray! I might finally understand all this stuff. More soon.
I live in Minnesota, where snowy forecasts threaten and chapped lips are a way of life.
Despite a desire for a little more elbow room, I simply cannot bring myself to banish my children out to the frozen tundra on restless January afternoons.
So, I, with many other hearty Midwest parents, have been forced to plan creative indoor activities, thereby saving our kids’ eyes from electronic combustion.
Here are three indoor activities to offer your children — and if the parents play along, the fun rate exponentially increases…
Puzzles may look like a simple, slow activity, but working jigsaw puzzles is actually a brain-building, skill-building pastime. Jigsaw puzzlesenhance problem-solving skills, improve learning, support social interaction, and generate a feeling of accomplishment.
Puzzles are an absorbing, therapeutic activity that can last days or weeks. If you have a spare table where a puzzle-in-progress can stay available, this is optimum. (We don’t; we just let the puzzle take over the dining room table until it’s completed.)
Jigsaw puzzles are great for many ages (but not all — watch those tiny pieces and keep your babies away.)Puzzles are beneficial for older people, too; they stimulate the brain and may delay the onset of dementia.
Kids can listen to audiobooks while they draw, build, or work puzzles. Audiobooks are also great for car trips — long or short.
Young readers can listen to an audiobook while they read along with the print version and reluctant readers who aren’t enthusiastic about print books can be wooed into a love of reading with audiobooks. (True story.)
Audiobook narrators are usually awesome, and they transport a child right into the pages of the book. Some of our favorite audiobooks for kids include:
Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries
Chronicles of Narnia
Mysterious Benedict Society Series
Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Note: We listened to three (Hardy Boys) audiobooks while we worked the Ocean Life puzzle shown at the beginning of this post.
Okay, this one was dredged up from my childhood math class (thank you, Mr. Kesti) and it’s more educational than it is pure fun. But, approached creatively, Krypto can be a pleasant addition to your indoor arsenal of activities.
There is a commercial version ofKrypto, but this is how we play it at home, without buying the game:
Choose 5 cards from a joker-less deck of cards.
Write those numbers on a white board.
Choose one more number and write it at the bottom.
Everyone looks at the board and tries to find a way to use all top 5 numbers to get the target number at the bottom.
You can add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers until the target number is reached.
This uses all of the numbers, and the result is the target number (2) at the bottom.
When someone arrives at the target number, she yells, “KRYPTO!” and demonstrates how she got the answer.
We keep track of points and play it regularly as part of our homeschooling routine.
If your kids take to it, you can plan a lively Krypto tournament.
With or without competition, you’ll have some fun and keep math skills sharp over the holidays. Krypto is also a great low-key summer activity – a great way to stay math-savvy over school break. For more explanation, here’s a Krypto video.
Whether you live where it’s cold, or just need some rainy day ideas, hopefully you will enjoy some of this indoor fun that keeps Minnesotans snowbound but smiling until March.
My son is traveling overseas for the first time, and I prayed that it would be a glorious, life-changing trip for him.
Surrounded by church friends and armed with a confident, likable personality, I doubt he will be homesick and I hope he will have a grand experience.
This morning’s happy bon voyage caused me to remember my first overseas experience, only 36 years ago….
When I left my Midwest suburb, I thought I looked totally acceptable — even cool — in my preppy boat shoes, wide-striped rainbow polo and Kelly green chinos. My hair was freshly home-permed into a bushy, easy-care halo around my pudgy face.
Our French teacher, Madame Fansler-Wald, headed up the trip to France, starting in Paris with a one week family stay. A series of pre-trip planning sessions told us what to pack and what to leave home: “Don’t pack too much! Leave lots of room for souvenirs.”
At that season of my life, I thought so little of makeup that I decided I would lighten my luggage by leaving makeup at home — all 3 ounces of it.
When it was time to leave, my whole family could stand at the gate and wave goodbye, because this was the innocent, trusting 1980’s.
Au revoir! See you in 3 weeks!
My hollow carry-on and I landed in Paris and each student was shuffled off for one week with their Parisian host family.
Pascale DuClosel was my teen counterpart in the host family — she was short, dark and aloof. She sported a fashionable, cropped hairdo and wore mini skirts and high-heeled pumps. She lived in a stylish flat with her mother and father, who were also aloof but pleasant, and spoke less English than Pascale.
That first night — and every night — I sat alone in the sparse European guest bedroom and drew out my Bible. Trying to ward off homesickness, I read big chunks of the comforting Psalms; they have been my best friend ever since.
For breakfast we bought fresh, long loaves of French bread and ate them slathered with real butter and exquisitely lumpy marmalade.
Pascale showed me her neighborhood and some days we sat at the sidewalk cafe with her friends. It didn’t take long to soak in the fashionable, French atmosphere, and I recall the moment I saw my frumpy reflection in a shop window and looked down at my sensible shoes.
Suddenly, I felt like a farm hand that had parachuted into an elegant, sophisticated party.
And, I must have missed the unit where Madame talked about French greeting customs. Pascale’s friend Stephen said goodbye to me one afternoon with a typical double side-cheek air kiss; I cringe when I remember how I innocently turned my face at the wrong time, getting an unintended smack on the lips from Stephen and a scornful look from Pascale.
I was relieved when the host week was over, and we gathered as a group again. The rest of the trip was like a magical dream, visiting giant castles along the Loire River, touring Monet’s charming pink cottage and day-tripping into Switzerland to eat ice cream at sunset.
Before leaving France, I bought those souvenirs that were supposed to fill up my empty luggage. They included: makeup, a light blue denim mini skirt, and one pair of pink and white leather pumps.
The girls and I got up early and snuck out to Ruby’s Roost, a sweet little bakery with all the charm of a European sidewalk cafe. It’s run by an energetic family; I wonder how the mom / baker can be so model-skinny, even though she gets up before dawn and makes the most decadent pecan sweet rolls ever.
We captured a quick photo; it was drizzling before the downpour:
In the life of an aging year, August is the cheerful-going-gray-stage. Decay is in the air and birds are empty-nesters. August’s garden is full of hearty thorns that cannot be rooted out easily — and she is too tired to try.
June works hard to stay attractive, but August knows better. She’s seen the storms and wind and hail and hungry insects. She shrugs and makes do. She’s got beauty: the below-skin-deep and low-maintenance kind. It’s easy-care and comfortably hospitable; visitors pop on by for a nibble, then fly to new homes.
August weeds are reckless vines, unruly thistledown and flyaway milkweed. Her ready-to-drop flowers are barely holding on to dried, patchy blooms.
August grooms herself casually — if at all — and without a mirror.
She lays back, tanned and wrinkled, as she watches summer’s finale with a satisfied, tired smile.
I told him, “We’re going somewhere special. I’m treating.”
So, I brought him where he could eat his kind of food (keto)
at my kind of price (Chik Fil A).
Next, we drove to a high school production of The Wizard of Oz.
Tickets were free (also within my budget)…
…but the performance was priceless.
Theater For All was started at a local high school by a theater arts teacher and a special education teacher.
They teamed up to offer theater classes and performance experience to
students with special needs.
Each actor or actress in The Wizard of Oz was paired up with a non-disabled counterpart. They did their parts together, with the assistant dressed in black “shadowing” the actor who was disabled.
Dorothy, carrying Toto in a basket, was dressed in a blue gingham dress.
The counterpart Dorothy was dressed in black, shadowing the other Dorothy with a face full of encouragement and a posture that gave her partner center stage.
What made me cry?
Hearing Dorothy belt out “Over the Rainbow” from her heart, gripping her partner’s hand, and glowing when the audience whooped and cheered. (The audience clapped and cheered throughout the play — for each song, group number and solo.)
Watching the earnest Tin Man in his wheelchair beg for a heart. He was clear, sincere and charming.
Seeing Glinda (the good witch) ad-lib with her counterpart. While Glinda only mouthed her lines, she watched her partner speak them loudly. Suddenly Glinda, with her braids and pink chiffon dress spilling over the wheelchair, leaned over and gently touched her partner with her star wand, insisting:
I love you!
I love you!
I love you!
The standing ovation was well deserved. We applauded the courage and enthusiasm of each actor with special needs.
We were deeply moved by the servant-like support of each non-disabled actor. It was clear they were up on stage simply to make the other actor successful.
The event was an visual of loving others without seeking personal glory.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…Philippians 2:3