Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ducky Day

This year we decided to have a Ducky Day on the third anniversary of my mother's death. Starting this year, we're choosing to turn the day into an annual celebration of all things rubber duck.

(The books in our seasonal book basket tell the story of the original shipping-container ducks that our duckie-release is inspired by.)

We created a few simple decorations to brighten the house; a simple wreath from an old bath scrubbie and an embroidery hoop, floating miniature ducks in our mason jars, and a tiny paper garland for the fireplace. In the dining room we placed a sailor-duck (in honor of Mummy's time in the Navy) in our lantern along with four baby ducks.































This year's Willow Tree is called My Sister My Friend. The darker figure appears to be an older woman guiding and standing behind a younger woman... something that is quickly becoming a new chapter in my life, but also who my Mummy was to me.


















Our ducky release was kept very close to home. Four little duckies paddled their way down Rice Creek - a tiny stream less than a mile from our home.


Heavy rain, cold weather, and tummy troubles  caused us to re-think our epic water battle plans. However we are enjoying our quieter-than-planned day all the same.  We will be playing a few duck-themed games including one of the kids' favorite games by Bart Bonte - DUCK and having a light lunch with cheese and "quackers."


While today might not be quite as wildly celebratory as we'd planned, I think Mummy would approve. 





I even remembered to buy us new socks!


 






















Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Second Grade Goals

When I was in second grade, my teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be a mom and a philanthropist. She told me that wasn't good enough, I needed to choose a REAL job.

While I don't remember the words, I remember the indignant rage that awarded me a trip to the principal's office that day.  It STILL resurfaces when someone suggests that motherhood isn't a "real" job today!

I was filing paperwork this morning, and realized that while it's not much, we're supporting SIX different nonprofits this year. SIX!!! That's before I consider things like thrift store "donations" since that's simple common sense to me. Sure the donations are small, but doesn't every charity loudly claim that "every penny counts"?

Three years ago, my husband lost his comfortable white-collar job of sixteen years. We were struggling to make ends meet, and our only donations were to our church. Who would have thought that three years later with a blue-collar, MUCH lower family income, we'd be thriving enough to help SIX different places that we hold dear to our hearts?

As a stay-at-home recently graduated from homeschooling mom, I consider motherhood my true career. While I may not have millions to donate, I feel that our small donations count towards a cumulative impact.

In my mind, I have reached my second grade goal. And it feels very real.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My "Stupid Little Blog"

Bloggers and ANYONE who believes in small businesses, I need your help.

I need your help spreading the word about how much an enormous company DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU.

Backstory: after five different modems and a dozen technician visits in fifteen months via Comcast, (the only local option for cable service) when a Century Link (the only local option for DSL service) salesman came to our door we chose to switch our phone and internet service. We were promised better faster service, for a lower price. We voiced our concerns about past issues with Century Link, and were vehemently assured that ALL of those issues had been addressed and that Century Link was now a dependable, honest company that we could trust.

We have now had “service” through Century Link for exactly one month. Here is what has happened during that month.

On the day of installation a technician came to our house, and couldn't get the modem that Century Link mailed us installed properly. He then tried a second and THIRD modem from his truck, and after four hours of standing in my house arguing with his own technical support team, I finally had internet service. Yes he was here for FOUR HOURS, just to get us connected!

After he left when I went to call my husband and tell him we were online, I found the telephone cord dangling free... he had not connected the telephone. When my husband got home he tried to connect the phone himself, only to find that our modem DOESN'T EVEN HAVE A PHONE JACK! He called Century Link, and after 90 minutes of being forwarded to four different people and relaying the same issue each time, he was told to purchase a part from Target and fix the issue himself. Yes, we paid to have our phone and internet connected... and THEY NEVER CONNECTED OUR PHONE!!!

Two weeks later we called in to ask why our phone had not been working properly. Every time the phone rang it was being forwarded to a voicemail-box that we were neither told that we had NOR how to access after 1 ½ rings. We found this out after a second service technician was sent to our house. Yes, THEY SET US UP WITH A PHONE WE COULDN'T POSSIBLY ANSWER IN TIME!!!

Now yesterday afternoon our internet went out. We called to ask what had happened and when we could expect our service to resume, and after a full hour and being forwarded to four different departments we were told that we would not have service for 12-48 hours and that OUTAGES HAPPEN ALL THE TIME! I can agree with that, but FOR DAYS AT A TIME?!? When my husband, rather frustrated at the sheer number of problems we have had in JUST ONE MONTH, asked what could be done about our lack of service, we were told that if we wanted they would reimburse $1.33 of our next bill. Yeah, all those troubles were worth less than $2. Now VERY frustrated at the apparent lack of concern for a brand new customer, my husband said that this was unacceptable. After dozens of interruptions and insistences that this was the best that could be done for us, my husband said that I am a blogger and would be sharing our story. He was told,


I feel that being called little OR stupid is out of line, and I HIGHLY resent the implication that just because I am not worth billions, my voice does not matter. Rather than call back and yell myself hoarse for nothing, I am begging for your help.

If you find this as unacceptable as I do, would you please share this? Because I AM just one little voice... but with your help I KNOW my voice can carry and that if it's shared enough it CAN matter, EVEN to a 60 Billion dollar company!

Please, would you help this “stupid little blog” spread the word about how little Century Link thinks of you?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Immersed in the Psalms: Colorado dreams

Have you ever had a Bible passage speak to you, directly? I don't mean convict you of something that's been gnawing at you... I mean that reaches out and talks about what's on your heart specifically?

Psalms 37
Colorado

Many years ago, my husband and I began daydreaming about moving to Colorado. Our joints move more freely there. We breathe more easily in the thinner air. Our allergies are better there. Yes there are painkillers available there, that aren't yet legal here.

Several years ago, I started hunting for a house that would work for us in Colorado; a smaller, universal design that we could afford. I have looked at over 10,000 floor plans at this point, and we've fallen in love with a specific design. It's been the house we measure all other options against for two years now. And... it's half the size of our current small-to-modest sized house.

Yes, tiny houses are currently extremely popular, but when we started hunting in 2006 people thought we were crazy. When we finally found THIS house, we were told we're insane. A family of four adults? With 540 square feet of ground-level living? With enough open space to accommodate a WHEELCHAIR?!?

This year, we began saving in earnest towards our house. It is no longer a dream, it's our goal. The floorplan is on our wall, where we can write on it whiteboard-style as we brainstorm how we'll fit everything we want to bring with, into its tinier space. We've marked out a miniature pantry on our living room floor, to visualize where all of our canning paraphernalia will be stashed. And we've prayed, long AND hard, for years.















 


Today I am catching up with my Psalms readings, and I finished the 37th Psalm... and it covered every reservation we've had about our move.

Psalm 37:7a - Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him... One of our biggest issues with our plan, is the several-years of waiting and saving it will take to be able to achieve our goal while downsizing our financial needs. Be still. Again, be still and wait patiently. How many times must we read that patience is a virtue?

Psalm 37:16 - Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. To be able to downsize our house, we have been downsizing our belongings. As we've struggled with how many bookshelves we can fit, we've been slowly learning that the more we let go, the more free we feel.  Now even the Bible is preaching the virtues of owning less! What more do we need, to know that we're on the right path?

Psalm 37:34a - Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land... Land. To own our own land. To see our dreams come true.

Wait for the Lord
and keep His way,
and He will exalt you to inherit the land.
Our dream, written about by David, thousands of years before we were born.

Awesome.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How NOT to Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day








I would like to share a few things, before the Chicago river is dyed green and absolutely everyone claims Irish ancestry. If you choose to celebrate the life of one of Ireland's most famous, please consider the following:

St. Pat - no, no, NO! You are celebrating the life of a man named Padraig. If you must shorten his name, please... it's Paddy, never Patty or Pat. If you prefer, his birth name was Maewyn Succat. He didn't become Patrick until he was a priest. In our house, we celebrate who he was before AND after his priesthood... the entire man.

Green Beer - this is not a thing. The Irish think this is crazy, since they are known for their love of pubs. What would an Irishman drink? Guinness, or whiskey. I've heard that both are divine.

Corned beef - this is not Irish. It is American. Enjoy it in honor of Irish immigrants, but know that it did NOT originate on the Emerald Isle. Ireland has never had many cows, and therefore beef is extraordinarily pricey there. Would you like to try true Irish fare? Colcannon. It's amazing, and served up year-round in our house. You can also try: barmbrack, champ, boxty, or a shepherd's pie, just to name a few personal favourites.













*** Booklist for Baby Sis: 
This is Ireland, by Miroslav Sasek
Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland, by Tomie dePaola
Patrick Son of Ireland, by Stephen Lawhead
The Confession of Saint Patrick, and Letters to Coroticus 
101 Things you Didn't Know about Irish History, by Ryan & Amy Hackney
Irish Cook Book, by... YOU!
Celtic Myths & Legends, by Publications International
Spring, by Gerda Muller
Spring Story, and Poppy's Babies, by Jill Barklem ***

Being a redhead - believe it or not, only half of Ireland's people have red hair. The other half have DARK BLACK hair! I was born a ginger, meaning my heritage is visible. I cry when my dark-haired Irish friends are told they can't be Irish because their hair is the wrong color. It's the dark-haired Irish who inhabited the island FIRST!!!

Irish for a day - please, seriously? If I were to claim I was Somali for a day, how would my melanin-blessed friends react? That would be wrong. Why then, is it socially acceptable for people to claim they are Irish for a day? Why isn't this JUST as wrong? Some of us are very proud of our under-recognized heritage. Please. Let us have JUST ONE DAY when we can be proud of who we are.













When you're a Cornish Welsh Scot-Irish (aka: Celtic!) woman, there aren't many days to celebrate your ancestors. Saint Patrick's day is a Catholic day of remembrance, that has been adopted as a day when those with Celtic roots can claim pride in their heritage. Please, use the day to learn about Ireland. Wear green. Visit a pub. Go to a parade. Swap limericks. Learn about Mr. Succat - the Roman nobleman, turned slave, turned priest. Try something genuinely Irish. Invite yourself to my house for colcannon and apple cake while listening to Celtic Thunder, and The Chieftains. (No, really, feel free to come over! I'll make plenty!) But please remember... this is a nationality being celebrated, not a joke.

Ireland is a tiny little island. To this day, only HALF of Ireland is independent... and yes, there are resistance groups who STILL fight for the freedom of Northern Ireland. For a tiny country that can't even claim their own land, having a holiday taken over by those who aren't Irish... stings, at best.

How do the Irish celebrate Saint Patrick's Day? By going to church.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Immersed in the Psalms: headspace

Most of the past week has been spent in the 18th Psalm... a long passage that shows the many ways God saves David from his many enemies. It's a difficult passage to connect to, when your worst enemy is your own body. I don't really want to be rescued by an avenging God, and I don't need the strength to utterly crush my enemies. So I found myself picking at the passage, pulling praises from amongst the foe-vanquishing, and not really "feeling" most of what I studied.

At the same time, I have been fighting downright evil migraines all week; eventually visiting the doctor for a diabolical head-scrambling shot, and a short list of bad options for dealing with my migraines in the future. This might have had some effect on my ability to connect and concentrate.

What do YOU do when you can't get info a proper headspace? How do you connect, when everything around you feels disconnected?

For me, I've spent more time in prayer and listening to songs, and less time reading and looking at screens. It doesn't help much, but it does allow me a different perspective.




Friday, January 27, 2017

Immersed in the Psalms: my daily routine

I've been asked by several people what I actually DO in my Psalms studies. Now that I've been studying long enough to have formed habits, I can share my routine.

Each morning, I begin with prayer... and tea. The tea is purely medicinal, I'm sure.

From there, I'll read the daily devotional in The One Year Book of Psalms, and on days when I finish a chapter I read the coordinating chapter  In The Secret Place: a Pilgrimage Through the Psalms. Then, I write out the passage I've been studying, by hand. Writing it out seems to bring different phrases to mind than simply reading it, and quite often changes my entire perspective.

After this, I turn on music inspired by the Psalms, (fit right now I have The Psalms Project, which goes through the 30th Psalm... After that, I've found Youtube playlists for all 150!) while reading through, commenting on, and coloring in Bless the Lord, O My Soul. This is a quieter, more contemplative time for me to simply and quietly process what I've read so far.

Some days a single Psalm is split up over a few days, while other days I finish an entire Psalm in a day. On "partial days" I finish up by embroidering one of my favorite verses or coloring in The Psalms in  until lunchtime. On full-chapter days, I will write out my favorite verse from that chapter in illustrated calligraphy. I'm still practicing so my work looks somewhat elementary, but I'm loving being able to hone my skills after years of neglect.

These studies take 1-2 hours each morning, and have been an amazing time of quiet and reflection so far. I'm only a month in, but I am loving every minute of my time so far.