Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life Lesson, Reinforced

Remember when you were a kid, and something crappy happened, and you started feeling sorry for yourself? Then your mom (or whoever) reminded you that someone, somewhere had it much, much worse?
Today I got a reminder that my divorce, however crappy and awful and heartbreaking, could have been one hell of a lot worse. One of my oldest friends (we've known each other since we were in 1st grade) just finalized her divorce. Later that same day, her ex-husband committed suicide. They have a nearly 4-year-old daughter together.
Ugh. As much as I dislike him, at least my children still have their father.
It's really terrible when the "someone, somewhere" is someone you've known since you were kids.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Catching up

Wow, how did it get to be November already? This was a really fast autumn.
Claire is in ECFE this year, and Mom is taking her about half the time, and I'm taking her the rest. We thought Claire needed a bit of time in a more structured learning environment, and she loves it. She can't wait for kindergarten next fall.
She's also taking dance, this year from the Morristown School of Dance. Several other families from Waterville who went to Dance Conservatory last year are going to Morristown. It's cheaper, for one thing, and we won't have to sit through a 3-hour recital to watch 15 minutes' worth of our kids' dancing for another.
Claire was invited to a birthday part from one of her dance classmates a couple of weeks ago. It was really fun, but I thought it was overdoing it for a 4-year-old. Claire was a little overwhelmed at all the people and activity, and even though she enjoyed herself, I think she was glad just to go back to Dama and Bapa's house.
Natalie is now potty trained. It took just about 2 weeks, the same as Claire. She did really well transitioning places, from home to day care to Dama & Bapa's house to Daddy's house and back home. She's had only a couple of accidents so far, too. She's been sleeping in a Pullup for now, but maybe tonight we'll try underwear overnight. She's only been wet one morning so far out of the last 10-ish days.
I've gotten behind blogging about Claire's memory work. Last week's verse was John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." One night Claire was reciting the verse, but couldn't remember the reference. When I asked her if she knew it, Natalie piped up with "John 14:6!" I think Natalie will start learning Bible verses very soon!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bible Verses Catch-up

Claire started learning Psalm 56:4 before they went on vacation:
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I trust, I will not be afraid.
Amazingly, she remembered it (mostly) when she got back home. I was very impressed, and this week we're learning a harder verse:
2 Samuel 22:2-3 The Lord is my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Thank You, Lord, for making me a generally happy and optimistic person.
Thank You for giving me my faith.
Thank You for the family that surrounds me.
Thank You for getting me through this week without my girls.
Thank You for the ambition to get all the projects done that I accomplished.
Thank You especially for these things, because I have done nothing to deserve any of them. You gave them to me because You love me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Long Week

Claire and Natalie are on vacation with their dad and his family this week. I dropped them off on Saturday morning and will pick them up this coming Saturday at suppertime. To say the house is quiet this week is to say that A begins the alphabet. I'm sleeping poorly and having one-sided conversations with my dog Brinkley, who is no doubt wondering where the girls are but enjoying the one-on-one time.
I have been keeping busy, though. Mom gave me a lecture about moping around all week and then being mad at myself for not doing anything during my daughter-free week. So on Saturday, I spent the afternoon with my two blonde, blue-eyed, science major college roommates named Bridget, their husbands, and one of the Bridget's daughter, who is Natalie's age. We had a lot of fun looking at the other Bridget's cows and catching up on each other's lives.
Sunday was church and brunch. I had planned to finish an embroidery project, but instead Andy and Christine were there with my 2-month-old nephew Brandon, and I got to hold him quite a bit. I went home after supper and did dishes, folded laundry, and cut up a couple of pounds of green beans and froze them.
Monday I had a busy day at work, then I went home to start on the child-sized boppy pillows I'm making for Natalie, Evelyn, and Carly. Since I don't have a pattern, I have to draw the shape out free-hand. I got one put together and will take it for a couple of other opinions before I finish the rest. So for the rest of Monday night, I watched 4 episodes of Lost from my current DVD off Netflix while finishing the embroidery project.
Today I framed the embroidery before coming to work. This afternoon I'm going to Mankato to do a bit of shopping, buy the supplies I need for painting my bathroom (the one project I've deliberately been saving for the girls' vacation week), and probably seeing the last Harry Potter movie again.
I have several other projects to accomplish this week, but I mainly want to get the bathroom painted because that will be significantly easier doing it alone than having Claire and Natalie help me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cheap E-reads

I've linked before about Nook Deals, but now the website has changed. As of this morning, they've merged with Cheap E-reads to become The Cheap.
I haven't done much exploring around the site yet, but since I've found so many deals from Nook Deals, I'm sure I'll find great stuff on The Cheap, too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I am in the middle of uploading a ton of pictures to Shutterfly to order prints. The pictures go back to the early spring and include Easter, Natalie's 2nd birthday, vacation to South Dakota, various trips to the zoo, and playing in the pool at Mom & Dad's house.
In looking at these pictures, it occurred to me just how abundant are God's blessings. I have been given so much. In my pictures, I can see my daughters as they grow, happy and healthy and having fun. There are lots of little moments, such as the picture of Claire and Natalie sitting on the floor with little china dessert plates with cookies and colored marshmallows, and little cups of homemade hot chocolate, watching Mary Poppins. I see the pictures I took of the bookcase Dad made for me. In that picture, I am reminded of my dad's skill in woodworking, my aunt and uncle who helped pay for the supplies, and all the children's and young adult books I've received over the years that fill the shelves. Claire and Natalie love to pull random books down and "read" them. I can't wait until they're old enough to read them for real.
I also have pictures of us playing at the beach, just across the street from our house. Our house is much smaller than the one we left behind over a year and a half ago. It is kind of old and needs a lot of repairs. But it's in a wonderful location, only a few blocks from the local library and state trail, and very near the beach. We haven't been to the beach as often as we'd like this summer, due to the long, cold, wet spring and the heat waves that have come during the summer.
Lots of pictures feature Alair, of course. She and Claire are pretty much inseparable, unless they've been thrown together for a whole week and start getting sick of each other. Otherwise, the two of them giggle constantly (even across the state of Minnesota and the state of South Dakota and back) and love to play pretend. Natalie likes to join in with the "big girls" and isn't usually to excited to play with her cousins Evelyn and Carly, who are much closer in age. One of the pictures is of Alair, Claire, and Natalie standing in front of a cutout of Thing One and Thing Two at the Minnesota Zoo. I was really struck by how much taller Alair is than Claire. I tend to think of them as closer in age and size than they really are.
And food. Of course pictures will feature food. Most of the women in my family love to cook, and the men love to eat. I have a picture of three glass goblets filled with pound cake cubes, sliced strawberries, and a swirl of Reddiwhip on top. My aunt had gotten a lot of glassware and other stuff when her mother-in-law passed away, but she didn't have any real use for it. Well, I don't often entertain, what with the size of my house and all, so I turned the fancy goblets into parfait dishes. Claire and Natalie LOVED it. I think it made them feel grown-up, eating out of those goblets.
These pictures are such wonderful reminders of the abundance of blessings from God. I pray that I will remember that even little moments are happy reminders of God's love for us.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More Memory Work

Last week Claire learned
Proverbs 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
This week's lesson will be
Jeremiah 31:3 I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Christian Chick-lit

Thanks to the fantastic blog, Nook Deals, I've discovered a lot of books that I would not have noticed. It seems that a lot of publishers of Christian fiction like to offer deals on the first of a series, or an author's first book, in order to attract new readers.
A couple of months ago I downloaded Cool Beans by Erynn Magnum. It was the first in a 3-part series about Maya Davis, a girl in her mid-20s and her adventures as a barista at a coffee shop called Cool Beans. Here's the blurb from Barnes & Noble's website:
Everything seems to be going perfectly for Maya Davis: She has a great job at a coffee shop, gets along with her parents, and is happily single. That is until her best friend starts dating Maya’s high school sweetheart.
This funny, heartwarming fiction story by best-selling author Erynn Mangum uses the power of story to challenge teens to discover the relevance of faith in their relationships and their lives.

Even though it says it's for teens, I really think adults could also enjoy the message the author has regarding faith in your daily life. The other two books in the series are Latte Daze and Double Shot.

Erynn Magnum also has her first series, featuring Lauren Holbrook who ends up playing matchmaker to nearly everyone in her life, with great success and great faith in the Lord. Miss Match, Rematch, and Match Point are the books in this light, fun series.

I recently read Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson. This is a great book for those who enjoy stories involving lots of food, quirky characters, and a healthy helping of God's plans for us. Bella is a wedding planner in a huge Italian family that moved from New Jersey to Galveston Island, Texas. In between planning huge wedding extravaganzas (country-western, Renaissance, etc), she's got a new boyfriend, DJ, and discovering all the ways God works little wonders in life every day. There are two more books in the series, Swinging on a Star and It Had to Be You.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This Week

Claire's memory work for this week is:
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Single Parenting

The pastor of the church where Cannon Valley is located commented yesterday something about my being a single parent. That got me thinking, because I don't really think all that much about being a "single parent."
For one thing, the girls' father had been in the Army Reserve for the duration of our marriage, and had his training weekends and two weeks in the summer. So I often had to care for Claire and Natalie on my own for that reason.
Also, he is a police officer who works shift work. I rarely had any help at bedtime, but between the three of us, we had our routine and it worked.
The girls' father had been diagnosed with PTSD the week before Natalie was born. Looking back now, I see he had really checked out long before he asked for the divorce. I had been doing everything I could to make sure the girls and I weren't a burden on him (not that I succeeded, obviously) and so I took them with me everywhere, not liking to ask him to watch them. When he was at home and awake, most of his time was spent playing video games, so it was just easier to have Claire and Natalie with me.
The point of all this is that I was almost a single parent for a very long time before the divorce.
Then there is the stereotypical image of what a "single mom" looks like, which is a woman with several kids and just as many "baby daddies" that are not helping out who is receiving public assistance but spends it on cigarettes and McDonalds (unChristian of me, I know). If not that, then there are a lot of single moms out there who get no child support, who don't have flexible jobs, who don't have the help of family and friends.
Fortunately, Claire and Natalie's father is very reliable about paying child support. They see him a couple of times a month and will be on vacation with him this summer for a few days. I also have most of my family nearby, willing to help out if I need it, and my job pretty much lets me be "mom" if there are days that I need to be that more than the school secretary.
Single parenting isn't really seen as something to aspire to, and I certainly don't recommend it. I think children should live in a 2-parent household and be raised by both mom and dad. However, since my children don't have that, I've decided to try to find the positives in our situation. For one thing, our house is (usually) low-stress and happy. I am a happy, optimistic person, and that helps keep our home happy. For another, Claire and Natalie are getting to spend a lot of time around extended family. Claire and Alair are giggly little BFFs, and Natalie just adores "Ba-pa"and "Da-ma." I get help on most Sundays with them in church. We go to my parents' every weekend for Sunday dinner. Things truly aren't that bad, and could really be a whole lot worse. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Verse #10

Claire's learning verse #10 this week:
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011, So Far

The year is about half done, and here's what I've done with 2011 so far:
I finished my jean quilt.
I decided I don't like quilting.
I've read 52 books so far this year, 25 new and 27 re-reads.
I've got far too many books in my TBR (To Be Read) pile, both physically on on my Nook.
I'm caught up on my daily Bible reading. I have a Bible-reading plan to read the entire Bible in one year. Each day of the week is from a different section: Epistles, History, Law, Psalms, Gospels, Prophecy, and Poetry. That way you don't get bogged down reading just one thing.
Claire's memory work is going very well.
I'm baking lots of bread.
Since I almost burned out the motor on my stand mixer, I now knead my bread by hand instead of machine.
I signed a contract at Cannon Valley for the next school year (yay)!

Here's what I still want to accomplish this year:
Potty-train Natalie
Read 100 books total
Be in the habit of exercising each day
Read the entire Bible
Make boppy pillows for Natalie, Evelyn, and Carly
Work on Claire's reading ability
Paint the bathroom
Put shelving up in the laundry room
Have $5,000 in my savings account at the end of the year

I'm working on most of these. Of course, the ones involving my daughters are entirely outside of my control, but they're goals nonetheless.
We'll see where I'm at come December!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thoughts for Friday

1. I could really get used to this 4-day work week, 3-day weekend schedule. I'm working shorter hours this summer, and Claire and Natalie are totally enjoying having me around more :). We've done a lot more activities just around the house since summer started. It gets really hot up in their room in the summer time, so sleepouts on the sunporch are very common. I spread out an old sleeping bag, cover it with an old sheet, and voila! A comfy, cool bed for them.
2. I am enjoying Claire's memory work probably just as much as she is. It's good for my brain to have to remember her verses as well as she can! I'm also hoping Natalie is absorbing some of the memory work, too. Not necessarily each verse, but the idea of learning from the Bible. I've always wished I knew more Bible verses, so I guess we're all learning together!
3. Last weekend most of my high school friends got together for our 2nd annual girls' weekend. I wonder if we'll still call it a "girls' weekend" when we're all grandmothers? It speaks well of our friendship that we can go a year without being together and still pick up our friendship as though no time has passed. I think I'll try to get in touch with my girlfriends more often this year.
4. Can we please be done with Anthony Weiner jokes? The whole thing is icky.
5. I have learned so much in my first year as a school secretary. Cannon Valley is starting some online classes this year, and among them are religion classes. I've asked if I can test-drive those and see what they're like. I've never had any religion classes, except Sunday School and confirmation class, and I've learned this year that I've got an awful lot to learn. So I'll be able to learn some more this fall.
6. My dog's tail drives me nuts. It's like a fur-covered bullwhip. I'm surprised it hasn't drawn blood yet. Although, the day after my family and I got back from our vacation to the Black Hills, Brinkley (who had stayed at Mom & Dad's house) got some sort of injury at the tip of her tail and it was bleeding. Brinkley's tail rarely stops moving when she's awake, plus she was happy to see us after 4 days. So we have to hope that no one shines a blacklight around Mom & Dad's house, because Brinkley wagged blood until we noticed and I shoved her back in the kennel.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week

Claire is learning her 9th Bible verse this week. It is:

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Learning some more Bible

We didn't have a new verse last week. It was kind of crazy with vacation and Claire's dance recital.
We're back on track this week. Claire's new verse is:
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice!
Alair learned this one for school, too, and when Claire and I were going over the verse at Mom & Dad's, Alair was helping Claire learn it, too.
Claire is so enthusiastic about her memory work. She's eager each week when I pick out her new verse. I'm working with her to not get overly frustrated when it takes her awhile to learn the whole verse. Even Natalie listens to Claire say her verses and says to me, "Bible?" So I don't think it will be a problem when Natalie gets a little older for her to start learning the verses, too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Psalm 46:1

Here's Claire's lesson for this week, learned with great enthusiasm :)

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Week's Memory Work

This week we're going to learn two verses. Claire is getting bored with just one. So we'll do one for a couple of days and then add a second.

Here's the first:
Psalm 43:3 Send forth your light and your truth; let them guide me.

I'm not quite sure what the second one this week will be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Memory Work

Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, "I am with you always to the end of the age."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Week's Memory Work

I've started having Claire memorize Bible verses each week. Her Sunday School teachers sent home a sheet a couple of months ago with verses, but each one is learned for about a month, and Claire's able to memorize hers much more easily. So I'm adding others, including the ones Alair learns at school. So far, we've learned:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."

Matthew 28:6 "The angel said, "He is not here, for He has risen, as He said."

Job 19:25 "I know that my Redeemer lives."

Romans 10:13 "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thoughts of the Day

1. Note to me: Getting moving and using energy actually seems to generate energy. I need to get out on the trail with the girls and Brinkley more often.
2. In the next election, I'm going to vote for the guy who learned his lessons in kindergarten about compromise and sharing. Obviously no one in Washington these days remember those lessons.
3. No matter how many years I live to see it, the spring thaw and the rapid return of grass and green will never fail to amaze and thrill me.
4. This is the reason we in Minnesota endure record levels of snow, ice, cold, and heating bills. Because God always sends us spring.
5. I hope to continue raising my daughters in such a way that they continue to ASK IF they CAN repeat their Bible verses, as Claire does every night.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Changed My Mind

So I decided not to have two blogs, because, really? So I imported all of the other posts into this one.
That's that.

In other news, I've got my jean patchwork quilt done. And quilting, for me, is a "one and done" type of activity. I'm really glad I made it, but I don't think I'll make many, or any, more.

And lately, I've been really getting my "Castle" on. That's such a great show! My dad told me to get something frivolous with my tax refund and not put all of it into savings or daily expenses, so I bought the first two seasons on DVD. I'm partway into the second season, around the time I actually started watching the show. I didn't watch the first season at all, so now I'm all caught up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

I've always said the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer with Claire and Natalie. Recently, I also started teaching them the other two prayers my dad said with me and my sisters at bedtime: "Dear Father in heaven" and The Lord's Prayer. Claire's doing really well at saying them all, with a few mispronunciations...

"Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be my name.
By kingdom come,
I will be done..."

I haven't corrected her. Her mispronunciations are charming and cute, and I'm more pleased that she is learning the prayers, rather than pronouncing everything perfectly.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reason #759 Why I'm Sick of Winter

  I have to keep my van in the garage, so it doesn't get blocked in by snow and so it starts in the frigid cold temperatures
  Claire and Natalie's car seats are kept in the van, obviously. They're large and awkward, and I'm not in the habit of carrying them around, especially in snow and frigid cold.
   And now, the automatic garage door is stuck shut. I can't get at my van. I can't get at the girls' car seats. I can't go anywhere. My dad will come and help, but he's making sales calls out west, and won't be here for a few hours.
   We had a snow day on Monday and a late start on Tuesday. We had another late start this morning, which has now turned into another day off for me. Another day that I'm not going to get paid, yet have to pay for day care.
   The February edition of the school newsletter is needing to be published YESTERDAY. So, assuming I can get in to school sometime this afternoon, I'm going to gather up all the info I need for that and work on it tonight.

Can winter please, please, PLEASE be done soon? I don't think Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, but I don't have any real expectation that winter WON'T last another six weeks.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Family

We ate supper at the Pizza Ranch last night and got a few groceries at Wal-Mart. On our way home I was telling the girls all the stuff we had to do before bedtime. We needed to let Brinkley out and feed her, make the beds since I washed all the sheets that morning, have a bath, and read stories. I told Claire and Natalie that I would really need their help in order to get everything done.
"Because it will get things done faster," I told them.
Claire then said, "And it will make us more friends and happy."
I said, "Yes, that's right. Did you learn that at day care?" (All of the kids at the day care are expected to help out with cleanup and things like that.)
"No, I just...God let me know that. God put that in my mind."
I told her, "Well, let's thank God for letting you know such smart things."
We said a little prayer.
Then Claire said, "And it will make us a family."
"Well," I said, "we're already a family. That's not going to change. All of us helping will make us a happier family."
We got home and Claire fed Brinkley (one of her favorite special jobs) and then we all made the beds. Claire and Natalie were more of a hindrance than a help with making my bed, but we had baths, a snack, and stories, and we were a happy family last night.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Last night Claire commented that "one day, everybody will be in heaven." She has been fascinated by heaven for a long time, and especially since our dog Freya died in July. I've told her that no one is ever sick or sad in heaven, and that we will always be happy there.
I told her, yes, one day we all will be.
"When do you think it will be?" she asked.
"Well, no one really knows. Probably not for awhile."
"Maybe it will be in 100 days." This is Claire-speak for "a really, really long time."
"That could be."
Then she suddenly gets tearful, and I asked her what was wrong.
"Who will be with me in heaven?" she asked with tears running down her face.
"Oh, Claire," I said, "everyone will be with you. And remember, Jesus will be with you too."
"And you'll be with me?"
"Yes. And no one's ever sad in heaven. You don't ever have to worry about being in heaven."
Claire nodded and needed a hug, and we continued eating our supper.

This Old Man

Claire this morning: "Knick-knack, paddy whack, give the dog an old man bone."

Oh, how I love this kid! Always singing, trying to get the words right, and ever so adorable when she gets them wrong!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Blog about My Daughters

Because Claire does, and soon Natalie will, say the most fascinating, funny, and really insightful things, I've started a blog to keep track of them, and you can find it here:

Enjoy it!


This morning on the way to day care, I was surprised to see five deer standing on the road as we came over a hill. They saw us and ran off. I pointed them out to Claire and Natalie, and told them how unusual it was to see deer at that time of day, especially at this time of year.
Claire responded with, "yeah, usually they're stuck to Santa's sleigh."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My New Year's Toast

As I raised a glass of peach champagne to myself, I said to myself, "To 2011, and to myself, and thank you God for all you've given me." It's my 3rd glass of champagne, so it was said with much euphoria.

I hope everyone has a great year, and that God's blessings shine down on you all. Remember, all you have to do is ask, and it will be given to you. Probably not on your timetable, but God is the master of timing, and He'll give you what you need, at the precise time you need it.