wocket in my pocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

Writing Assignments

You know those writing assignments in the school language textbooks? The ones where you are supposed to choose one of the topics on the list, develop it into a paragraph or essay or report? I don’t know how else textbooks would teach writing, but there is something about an assignment to write that causes the brain to glaze over.

I remember this distinctly from my own school days. I wrote pages and pages of descriptions to my best friend every week, then came the chapter on composition in the grammar book, “Using only three expressive sentences, describe a place and see if your classmates can guess what you are talking about.” And we would sit there and stare into space for fifteen minutes, just trying to come up with a place that could be described suitably.

Flash forward. I make my children do writing assignments. Books reports? You betcha. Paragraphs? Poems? Yup and yup. I don’t really worry about how long they stare into space in despair. Maybe this is totally the wrong approach, what with delight driven learning and all. I just have a hunch that doing stuff that feels hard is actually kind of good for us.

Last week my third grader was supposed to write about camels at an oasis, just a simple imaginary story. She did not feel like it. I mean, camels are so boring.  She stewed and fretted and looked at her sister’s story about a ladybug with three spots.

“Please, may I write about ladybugs instead of camels? That would be a lot more fun.” Here I perceived a bit of irrationality.

“No, honey, I think you should push through and do the assignment. You can write two stories if you want.” (Note to mean-mom haters: I do not apologize. It’s just the sort of person I am. You can be your sort of parent.) I calmly continued my work at my desk and when I stole a side long glance at my little girl, she was resigned, writing diligently at her desk. It went from the required paragraph to another and another. I was duly impressed.

Here is what she wrote.

Ladybug Adventures

What can I say? My daughter is a diplomat. But so am I. I followed my own delight-driven path, fixed 37 misspellings for her, and typed it up nicely. We both won.

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You Can Make it Yourself

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Turns out a number of you would like to see how I made those paper flowers on the garland in my last post. I was a little surprised at that, considering the underwhelming photo I used to show what I had done. But they do please me every day, so I am glad I “wasted” my Saturday afternoon. Today, however, I got victory over my bathroom cleaning before I sat down to show you how I did the flowers. You start with a book, obviously. Not too brittle in the pages, but oldish looking is best. Even better would be an old songbook. I tore out seven pages at a time, because I am efficient like that.

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This spiral flower is what I started with last week, but it did not pop enough for my garland. The main problem was that my book pages were too small to make an exciting flower. So I set aside the ones I made and used them for the centers of the bigger, better flowers. I just freehanded this circle because templates are boring and too perfect.

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Starting at the end, you simply roll up the spiral between thumb and finger until you get to the center. You will want to have the hot glue ready to go, because those curls spin out on you (They are supposed to. Just not all the way back to the flat spiral.) and it helps to be able to squash them down onto the glue once you have the desired size. I rolled and rerolled my first few flowers until I got the hang of this step.

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I drew my petals onto the page in graduated sizes because templates are boring. Wait. I already said that. But really, your finished product looks better if you have some variation, unless you want to get out a level and ruler when you are gluing the petals. See my stack of seven pages? Just cut them all at once; save yourself a lot of hassle. And be sure to cut inside the pen lines so you don’t see them on the flower edges.

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The petals get a slit about halfway up through. And there sits the pretty little center, waiting. (Have you noticed my kitchen table yet? I keep planning half-heartedly to refinish it, but then I would have to hover when the children do projects, and now it is just so stress free. )

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Those two photos show the way you use school glue to overlap the petals slightly where you cut the slit. I do not recommend hot glue at this step because fingertips are important, and hot glue has no respect. If you want your flowers for hanging on a garland or on the wall, do not curve them much at all or they will hang almost upside down. I started with seven petals on the outside row, then six in the others. There are no rules here. Some of our flowers only had four outside petals and a center.

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The center does require hot glue to hold that much weight. For a garland, bend a paper clip and glue it to the center of the flower on the back. Use gross-grain (important… because the ribbed weave of gross-grain holds the flowers where you put them) ribbon to hang them by hooking the paper clip over it.

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These are other petal shapes we tried. I think the oval is my favorite, but it does make the garland more pleasing to have some variety. Below is another way to finish out the flower in the middle. You roll up the frill, and glue it to the middle, then spread out the frill like stamens. The more we worked at it, the more ideas we got. I did a brief foray on pinterest, then decided to wing it. Olivia, however, saw a tutorial for making hyacinths. She took off on that on her own. You can see her contributions in the last photo.

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And that, my friends, is what happens when you use pretty colors and cup the petals so that they sit on a ledge like a… water lily?

Those are our happy chickens, freeranging like anything around the blueberry bushes. You can’t see them, but the children are down on the dock, fishing. Unsuccessfully, I might add. And that is also my garden, just waiting to dry out.

Soon there will be rows of real flowers and butterflies flitting.

(If you try this, let me know. Or I will never do another tutorial. Well, maybe I will. )

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March Potpourri

It’s spring now and the sap of life is rising. It gurgles to the surface: life that has been there all along, just frozen. Even though our winter was a joke to people like my husband who wanted Serious Snow, I rejoice and feel myself full of ideas thawing and ready to go!

Rita and I went on a soggy walk one day when she was feeling blue. She is cut out of the same cloth I am and we both cheered up when we found twigs with leaf babies to bring inside.

We had our First Day of Spring Party today. It being Monday, I thought maybe I could wait until tomorrow, but the children were not having it. “We have to have a tea party today! It is important.” So we decorated with a pastel piece of fabric and paper doilies, then set out the China and prettied up the food. Frilly toothpicks stuck through ham and cheese chunks cut out with flower-shaped cookie cutters, a simple chicken broth with alphabet pasta, crackers and party mints in pretty bowls, and we were set. Dessert was vanilla crepes with raspberry sauce. Oh, and tea, of course. Mint tea.

Last weekend I got to attend a conference for mothers where Sally Clarkson was speaking to us from her years of wisdom. It was one long, refreshing drink, one that I needed to give me courage. Here is what it looked like in NC on my way to the conference. I pulled off the road and put on my flipflops.

Sally mentioned that typically women in their twenties have a few babies and spend a lot of time establishing ideals. In the thirties they start to feel the burn and it sinks in that this is for the long haul, no short cuts or selfishness allowed. By their forties most mothers are tired. The crowd of godly mothers thins out a bit as one by one they quit, saying, “Let these children figure out their own way now. I am done with this mothering thing. It’s too hard, all this eye-rolling and investments that aren’t valued anyway.”

I have felt it: I am in the tired spot and needed some pep talking. Sometimes I don’t know how weary I am until I hold still for a while.

Here are a few more Sallyisms that I am phrasing as I remember them. Listening to her gentle humor in person was much better, but I know that some of you read her books and will enjoy this.

You are called to live your own story. Nobody else’s. That is your place to be faithful. It’s like a puzzle, and all you have to do is fit your own pieces into your own puzzle. Nobody else’s. Your puzzle will look different from every other puzzle when it is finished.

If God gives you a vision when you are young and idealistic, don’t just chuck it when it gets hard. Everybody in the world will give you permission to compromise. If He says something is valuable, it is!

Read stories of hope and faith to give you courage. Read them to your children. Fill them with stories of beautiful, true, honorable things. Give them a solid framework in a twisted world.

ABIDE. This is not formula or fear. It is not control. It is just a state of being.

If you make mistakes, repent and get over it. God is a Redeemer. Your difficulties are where your children see a walk with God modeled. The hard things you go through are the platform where you gain influence.

I had registered for this conference 5 months ago, and it was so strengthening. Sally speaks hard truths in the kindest way possible. Not least of the enjoyment was sharing the experience with two of my sisters-in-law. We talked long and late, ate chocolate and drank coffee, found common ground and encouraged each other.

I can unequivocally recommend a few books that Sally has written for moms. If you need to hear from someone who has walked the long road and been tested, but stayed steadfast, listen to her admonitions in print. She will not give you permission to slack and feel sorry for yourself; you will be blessed.

In the spirit of making a lifegiving home, I have been working at my March decluttering. So far I have taken out a bag of mismatched plastic containers and lids that I do not seem to be able to chuck into the trash when the sour cream is empty. I passed on a box of boys’ clothes and a bag of girl clothes. The boys were bribed with a dollar per trash bag filled in their room. It took them 30 minutes to fill 4! (I was so proud of them, but not especially proud of myself.) There were a few children’s coats and snowpants that were ripped beyond repair, with zippers broken, etc. that I burned when they weren’t looking.

One painful day I cleaned out my fabric stash and was quite severe with what I allowed myself to keep. I went through my closet and took out all the stuff that I never wear (too small/makes me look fat/bad color/what was I thinking? 😦 ). I donated the Clarks shoes that pinched my heels to Goodwill, as well as a pile of books that were taking up more space than they were worth. Most recently I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and threw out the chipped and broken things that I had stashed for a Super glue session. Seriously, do I really like this dish that much? No. I do not.

I cleaned out my fridge and fed the pigs. It is oddly satisfying to toss a rotting cucumber to a grateful hog who then turns it into bacon. It makes me feel less wasteful that I forgot the cuke in the salad drawer for too long. The best project in terms of satisfaction was replacing a set of lace curtains that I have had for 15 years! I bought them at the Dollar General soon after we were married and thought they looked all right, but one day I looked at them and said, “So 2000.” I made simple window toppers with a vintage French print and now I can look at them and say, “So ’70’s.” Haha. I need this sort of  illogical hilarity in my life.

I still have the bathroom to sort through and the entire basement, but there is no point in deep cleaning the school room until we finish the term.

Olivia mastered the straight seams on a dress that she has been longing for ever since my mom gave her fabric for her birthday. She made a matching ensemble for her rag doll and learned the fine art of running a seam ripper. No scrapbooking has happened, but I am hopeful. I just need to get in the zone for one more child, then I plan to go digital. All the older children have a lovingly crafted photo book from birth to five years. I never waited until they were 5 to get started, but that is what Addy will get.

Gardening seems a long way off with everything outdoors squishy. I have my seeds, though, just waiting. On Saturday I spent hours making paper flowers for a garland to replace the pine swag I had above the sink instead of cleaning the bathroom. The children gasped when they saw me tearing pages out of an old book, but they soon got into the spirit of the project and helped shape flowers. It is spring, after all!

What have you been doing with yourself?

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from these links, you will not be charged anything extra, but I receive a small commission from the sale. Feel free to buy all the books. 😀

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The 28th

Just like that, we are done with the short month. I can hardly believe how quickly it whizzed by and Wow! do I have hopeful plans for March. I doubt we can squeeze in all that I aspire to, but I want to clear out the house, make great strides toward the finish of the school year, paint a few things, plant early veggies in the garden, take some jaunts out of state, finish a scrap book that I started three years ago, and help my daughter with a simple pattern she is learning to sew for herself.

And now, a photo that came up when I searched for “waving goodbye” on Pexel. Isn’t it wonderful?

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Goodbye, February.

 

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What Friends Are For

I have been blessed with many wonderful comrades who cheer me on. The cloud of witnesses around me is not all departed people, thank God!

Real live folks can be so incredibly sustaining and we need them. Are you introverts listening?  All you need is a crisis to make you value your connections. If you don’t have any, it would be best for your happiness and life-satisfaction to start cultivating connections. (I think this is especially true for women, although obviously, I have no experience from the male point of view.)

We are designed to be nurturers, taking care of each other, not just our children. Sociologists have long noticed a link between a woman’s reported happiness and the support that is received from other women. This is especially noticeable in what they call primitive cultures, where women often report being quite happy despite obvious poverty, lots of children, and no professional careers.

It is depressing to be all alone, and yes, our husbands can listen and support if we are fortunate enough to have them, but hormones understand hormones. (I feel like I just said something profound there.) Even the Apostle Paul said something about the older women teaching the younger how to live (love their husbands and keep their homes happy). I get the feeling that this is walking along beside them like coaches just as much as it is special meetings where an older woman teaches her wisdom.

We shouldn’t be embarrassed to own that intuition that tells us someone is in trouble or could use a bit of extra loving. Nor should we be too proud to say, “I need some help with my thinking today. I am sinking here. What would you do (any given situation…)?”

This is what my friends meant to me in the last two weeks. If you recognize yourself, this is my thanks to you.

  • A hug and a sincere “wish you well” in passing. That feeling that she cares about my  world.
  • A real snail mail card.
  • Seeing someone from way back when and catching up a bit in those easy conversations that flow between old school friends.
  • Sharing opinions about dress patterns and is it really “easy” like it says; getting to stroke someone else’s fabric stash.
  • A question, “How are you?” coupled with the time to hear the answer.
  • A thoughtful conversation about whether it really is important to raise children in a village, or is it okay to just go it alone; reflecting on what the village means to your own self.
  • A text and a word of kindness. “Hope your day gets some sunshine.” Just like that, it does, even when the sky stays grey.
  • A latte out of the blue, and a box full of groceries that my children dig through excitedly, immediately asking to break open the bag of chocolate chips.
  • A cup of tea shared over stories about life, mine and hers, even though we are in drastically different seasons.
  • Facebook messages heavily punctuated with animated stickers, something only a few people may enjoy, but when you find that friend, you go on sticker hunts to make their day hilarious.
  • Coordinating schedules so that we can get together and chat while our children play.
  • Talking with and over each other, and getting what is being heard and said at the same time.
  • A smile when your eyes meet across the room in church, because you are genuinely glad to see that her sick child is better and she is glad yours is better.
  • A quick phone call that turns into a visit about so many little things that crowd the day, and it just helps to sort them out.
  • Telling that slightly pungent story that you really just have to pass on to one person so they can enjoy the humor with you, since the children didn’t get it and your husband isn’t home at the moment.
  • The safe place where you can express exactly what it is that is wearying your very soul at the moment, and knowing that you are now held in prayer.
  • Feeling that you are not alone. There’s a whole cloud of witnesses and you are on the way together.

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(pexel free photo)

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Day by Day, a Song of Assurance

Today I had a chance to ride with a friend to an old fashioned Mennonite hymn singing. There was one song especially that clutched me by the heart, and when my friend showed me a short story about its origins, I decided to look it up and pass it on to you.

Carolina (Lina) Sandell wrote this hymn in 1865. This was just a few years after a deeply personal tragedy, where she had witnessed the drowning death of her father. The number is not exact, but it is believed that she wrote around 2000 hymns in her lifetime, among them the equally beloved “Children of the Heavenly Father.”

I have been listening to “Day by Day” again, letting those truths soak into my being.

 

 

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About Trash and Stuff

I almost missed seeing the turkeys in the sloping meadow  because I was so busy feeling outraged at the litter in the ditch. It’s a real problem here in rural areas where people feel like nobody will see them or report them. My husband picked up a fridge in a wooded area just close to here. Now that is some serious trash! In 1 mile of walking I counted 142 bottles and cans. From my exhaustive survey, (errhrmm) I conclude that beer drinkers (102 beer cans) have less class than soda drinkers (approximately 15 soda cans). There were two coffee cups, 3 fountain drink cups with straws still in them at one of the curves, and in another spot the water drinker (10 water bottles) seems to do her littering. I made another sweeping assumption that this is likely about 5 to 7 different frequent flyers along the road with trash flinging habits, since all the fast food cups were in the same vicinity and the water bottles too. The beer bottles tended to be clumped up at the intersections, which happens to be right outside our picket fence. It is highly annoying.

I was reminded of a walk I took early one morning with my Grandpa about 20 years ago, when he was still vigorous in health. I knew he took a daily constitutional, but when he said 6 AM I thought it was a little plenty early. I managed to get up in time, but politely declined a swig of Jogging in a Jug that he offered before we started. Then he stuffed a plastic grocery bag into his jacket pocket and we set out. I was astounded at the swiftness of the pace he set, and more than a little relieved when he would pause to pick up trash beside the road. He told me that he did this every time he walked, and there were always more beer cans. Being of a frugal mind, he thought they might as well be recycled as in the ditch, so he picked them up. We filled the plastic bag and gave the cans to Uncle Tim to crush in his homemade pop can smasher. When he got enough, they would be recycled and Tim got to keep the money.

I guess there is no point in fuming at the thoughtlessness of others. I might as well follow Grandpa’s example and start picking up trash. My children have this protest pretty often when they are asked to clean up a mess someone else made. “But I didn’t do it, Mom!” While I try to be fair, sometimes I purposely set them up with opportunities to serve a sibling. I decided today that taking the crew on a roadside cleanup would probably be one of the best ways to impress on them to never be the careless flingers of garbage that sullies other people’s lives. I had a school teacher that did Adopt-a-highway with the class every year. I never forgot those lessons and to this day cannot toss even a gum wrapper out of the car window.

Maybe the broken windows theory will take hold right here in our beer-drinking, litter-flinging neighborhood. (Look it up. It is a fascinating social phenomenon that when a neighborhood cleans up it’s surfaces, less crime happens.)  Surely if there are no cans in the ditch already, a slightly inebriated driver would think twice before chucking stuff out the window. Or maybe I should just be pragmatic, like Grandpa, and make money off the trash.

 

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We’re Not Talking 5K Here

This post is about believing that the things we do today matter. Really. Nobody wants to come to the end of their lives and look back only to see that they invested in vanity and what is left will burn up like a pile of dry leaves.

(I received some advice recently, to choose an audience and not try to be politically correct for everybody who might read my stuff,  which is something I tend to do. I take a stand on my housewifely platform with pride and hope you all are kind enough to understand… teeters off… continues writing…)

We need courage when life crowds in with so much ordinary that feels pointless.  Ever have a sick day or two where you couldn’t stir to keep house?  I mean, “keep” does not mean “to hold” in this context, although we often act like it should mean that. “I can’t believe how dirty this floor is again,” we mutter to ourselves. “Why does nobody else seem to notice that the trash can is overflowing? and didn’t I just clean that window yesterday?? and while I am talking anyway, who left their crayons on the floor???”

If we look at “keep” as “to keep the children happy,” or “to maintain with care and labor” or even simply “to keep in usable condition” if helps relieve that feeling that the floor is doomed, no matter how often we mop it. We tend to resent the life-on-a-loop responsibilities that are inevitable when we choose homemaking as a career. It doesn’t seem like a big deal and it would be nice to feel important for a change. Well. Just for a minute imagine that every person in the world who does anything mundane in their life goes on strike for a day. Just for 24 hours they refuse to do anything except glittery stuff. Do you suppose there might be glory missing from the world? That’s right. Glory. 

I did a bit of paraphrasing from Hebrews 12 to infuse some courage into our housewifely hearts. This is a big deal and we should lift our heads and tackle it life the challenge of a lifetime. Because it is. This is what the passage in Hebrews 12 speaks to me, and maybe to you too.

Whether you know it or not, there is a huge cloud of people surrounding you, watching your life of faith. They are your cheering section, and they have already lived through the same stuff you are slogging through. Listen to them. They are saying, “You can make it! Look up! Chuck off the weights and RUN! It takes a lot of endurance in this marathon, a lot of dishes, a lot of drinks of water, and a whole ton of kindnesses that nobody really seems to notice unless you quit doing them. You will make it to the end, but you can’t pity yourself and quit.”

When you lift your eyes up from stray toys and dirty boots littered on your path, and do what they say, look to Jesus, you notice something incredible. He endured this race on earth too! He got tired too! There is no shame in weariness. Jesus himself had to dig deep to keep running. The joy at the finish line will be yours because that little spark of faith He gave you?.. He will keep it glowing and strengthen you.

It matters. What you do for your husband, your children, your friends, even for your enemies, matters. Believe it. Feel the relief that it may be a slogging run sometimes, but it is His work and He knows exactly the way that the race is on. The stump around the bend that you are supposed to leap over? It is not a surprise to Him. In fact, if you must know, He put it there.

Don’t be unmanned by hurdles or by His discipline. This just means you are a beloved child and He is training you for the stamina that is required for the long haul. Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your feeble knees by daily exercise. Don’t quit because it is hard! You are nearer than you know and His grace is making you stronger than you have any idea.

See? You are within sight of Mt Zion, the city of God and all those angels in festal gathering, just waiting to welcome you. You are one of the righteous made perfect through a rigorous regimen of daily ordinary training in faithfulness.

You represent a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Keep moving forward!

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Thursday in the Life…

…of a gardener/wife/teacher/mom. At our tax appointment the accountant asked for my occupation. I really would have enjoyed blowing him away with all my hats, but didn’t think that would be modest. Haaha.

I didn’t set an alarm because we were up late last night and it was my husband’s day off. At seven I heard a knock on the door and knew instantly that it was one of the teachers from the local school, come to pick up the book order that I had just sorted through yesterday. Thankfully she knows me well and didn’t object to me being quite sleepy and a bit underdressed.

Breakfast was corn meal mush, served as porridge, with sausage patties. Half of the crew went “Ewww,” and half went “Yumm,” so I knew I hit it just about right.

It was so warm that I opened kitchen windows to let the frying smells out. All day while we were doing school and laundry, we kept looking out and determining to get into the fresh air as soon as possible. The clouds were sailing along and all would be blue sky for a while, then it would get darker again as they clumped together, obscuring the sun. But it was so soothingly warm that the cloudiness didn’t dampen our spirits at all.

My mom brought cookies over just before lunch and we had a chat about some sewing she is doing. I washed the eggs while we talked and sent her home with 2 dozen which was good, because my fridge can’t hold them all.  All the children had cookies, so there was no complaining about hunger. I helped Rita finish her math sheets, then realized that it was 1 PM and I didn’t have any plan to feed people.

A scrounge around the fridge yielded hotdogs and grapes. I cooked a kettle full of mac and cheese the favorite way around here (milk, Velveeta, salt, pepper) and called it lunch. They all said “Yumm,” so I knew I hit it right.

Gabe was drooping from a very late night, so he went for a nap before resuming his current graduate studies assignment. I thought about a nap, then I thought about the laundry I wanted to hang out, just because it was so gorgeous outside, and I did that (yeah, I know that’s a little late in the day). I made big plans for the boys when they got done with their assignments.

Addy came to me with a very pronounced wilt in her usually chipper parade. “I hurt all over and I need to go to bed,” she said. Uh-oh. I dosed her with Tylenol for her fever and elderberry syrup for an immune booster. She fell asleep in minutes.

As soon as Alex finished his algebra, we went to pick up some old produce for the pigs, generously provided by our favorite local store. We have discovered that they do not like potatoes raw, but they hogged down grapes with astounding swiftness. The goats first ate all the cabbage leaves, then delicately took bites out of the potatoes, and the chickens pecked at it all. It’s so entertaining, this animal business.

We coordinated our outdoor jobs so that they could do their chores while I watched out of the corner of my eye, even though I was raking leaves out of the flower beds. Long ago I figured out that boys will be much more willing if their work can somehow involve a power tool or a blazing fire. That is why they cut off the dead ornamental grasses with a small chain saw today. 🙂 Instead of wheelbarrows, they used a lawn tractor and trailer to haul composted manure and mulch to the asparagus bed. The grasses made an impressive blaze that was much better than putting them on a compost pile.

Under the dead leaves I uncovered some ambitious daffodils shoots with fat buds. Whenever I clear dead stuff out of flowerbeds, I think of sour little Mary Lennox in her Secret Garden, and the therapeutic thrill she got when she found fresh sprouts coming up. This is very early for our region, but I suppose we might as well embrace the warming trend, with its attendant mud and bugs. I shall hover a little over the plants that are likely to get the shock of the year in March, but who knows? Maybe this will last.

I took some time to throw potatoes into the oven to bake, then went back out and wandered around the pond with Gabe. There was a pair of mallards on the water, and you can feel the gurgles of new life pushing up all around. There were even bursts of real birdsong, not just the chirping of the winter but the warbles of spring.

The children were playing at roping heifers (each other) in the back yard. Addy felt well enough to romp around for a while until her drugs wore off. I never have to guess with her. Either she has her bounce or she doesn’t.

Once more it was time to eat, and I cannot even imagine how life would be if we wouldn’t be required to do that. It is the aspect of nurturing that I feel most guilty about not really loving. What I am shooting for is faithfulness here, and maybe one day it will come and hit me between the eyes that I actually love to cook. 🙂  I heated up canned beef and made gravy for the potatoes. There were green beans and applesauce, and everybody seemed happy with it, so I knew it was not stellar, but OK.

We girls cleaned up the dishes, Gregory folded laundry, and Alex did the barn chores. The movie for tonight was on PBS, titled Spy in the Wild: Animal Intelligence. Addy chortled with glee when the monkeys kept trying to crack their nuts with rocks, so I know she was feeling better. Nevertheless, it is the couch for her tonight. It’s a secondary gain that makes feeling peaky almost worth it.

And that’s that. The end of another Thursday.

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10 Activities That Won’t Rot Your Brain

  1. Read a book just for fun, like Ribsy or Farmer Boy. Laugh out loud at the funny bits so that your family is curious and you can tell them about how Lucy got the taffy stuck in her mouth.
  2. Take a walk in the park and learn to identify wildlife tracks. Make plaster of paris molds, even if it is just lame stuff like birds or deer for starters. Someday you might get lucky with a bear or a mountain lion.
  3. Ride a bike for miles on old railroad beds. Just be sure to carry a water bottle so you don’t perish before you get home again. Some granola bars in your pockets would not be a bad idea either.
  4. Figure out how to fit a survival kit into a backpack or bugout bag. Do the research and collect items as you save enough money for them. Pack and repack obsessively and keep it ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Or even just when your family goes to the lake.
  5. Take music lessons and keep practicing until you master that instrument. Or you could watch John Ross painting videos and try your hand at landscapes. If you like poetry, try writing some.
  6. Collect things. Rocks or bottle caps or stickers or fabric scraps or bird feathers. Be savvy about storage or your parents will likely make you pare your collections down to tragical proportions. Just for your information, nut collections in your underwear drawer will probably hatch out disgusting worms, so that’s not the best idea.
  7. Learn to crochet or embroider or knit or knot paracord bracelets. This latter could turn into a small industry for you, so make sure your parents buy about 1000 feet of cord at a time. Mess with your projects while you listen to audiobooks.
  8. Ask your mom to teach you how to prepare your favorite meal. She will never turn down an offer to cook dinner and you can have spaghetti and meatballs really often.
  9. Think of something you are interested in and wipe out that subject on the library shelves. Research it and talk to everybody about it until they are tired of you. Then pick another subject and do it all over.
  10. Play Settlers of Catan or Qwirkle. Learn to watch for subtle cues on other people’s faces so you know what move to make for the win. Figure out your strategy and have fun with it.
  11. Go fishing, then clean your fish and fry them over a campfire. Or alternately you could gig bullfrogs since they are easier to skin and roast. Just don’t forget the salt.
  12. Just do something. Don’t be boring and bowed low over a screen. Swim, paddle your own canoe, build a clubhouse, sleep in the backyard, clean out the fridge for your mom, sew slippers out of upholstery fabric, rollerskate, ski, write to a friend, teach your dog new tricks, solve the mystery of the missing socks, bake cookies with a secret recipe, be happy.

Oops, sorry, that turned out to be more than ten, but it’s my blog and I am allowed to do that.

What did I miss? When my children say they are bored, I give them jobs to do. It helps a lot, but it still happens at times and we would all be glad for fresh ideas.

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