Friday, February 29, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!!

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins TOMORROW, March 1st, 2008, and we'll be watching!! We've decided to follow Jessie Royer again this year along with an Iditarod rookie, Melissa Owens. Ms. Owens just turned 18 on February 18th, which means she'll be among the youngest mushers in the race this year. She won the Jr. Iditarod in 2005, when she was only 15 years old!

Also, of note are Blake and Jennifer Freking, a married couple from MN. Blake is a veteran of the race & Jennifer is a rookie. Jennifer is from Cambrdige, MN! AND Rohn Buser, another 18yr-old, will be competing with his dad, Martin Buser, this year. Rohn was the 2007 winner of the Jr. Iditarod.

Mane & I have printed out the map and begun collages of Jessie Royer and Melissa Owens. We've printed our tracking sheets, and we've watched some video clips. We're ready to watch & cheer!

If you'd like to join us in watching this amazing race, the link to the official Iditarod website is in my sidebar.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I am so completely overwhelmed and confused about what my role is supposed to be these days. I live in a neighborhood that desperately needs its citizens to be active participants in the day to day politics. A huge corporation wants to put a garbage burner a few blocks from my house. The legislature doesn't want to give us money for a community center, even though we're one of only two neighborhoods in Minneapolis that doesn't have a community center. We've got kids who were on the bus when the 35W bridge collapsed, and their families need care and counseling. There's a single college girl on my block who could use some companionship. The weather is getting warm and the crime is heating up in the park.

And I watch the people around me spend themselves for the cause of the neighborhood. I watch them stay up late writing e-mails and grants. I hear about their days with the legislature lobbying for our needs. What do I do? I attend some community meeting & sign petitions. I show up...usually...for Clean Sweep and a few other neighborhood events. I call and call and call 911 about the crime in the park. I hang out in my yard and visit with my neighbors. But I do NOT go all over the place speaking to our representatives and city council people, writing letters and typing e-mails.

I *do* keep my house clean. I cook good food for my family. I organize our finances, homeschool Mane, stay up late with Vespera, and go out for coffee with Mango. And I feel guilty. I feel like I'm supposed to be a neighborhood activist because the people I love and respect spend themselves on behalf of the neighborhood. I listen to them vent and cry and I feel like I should help. I feel like it's my job to help. On the other hand, I've got kids to raise, a marriage to maintain, and a home to run. But I should be teaching my kids to serve others, using my marriage as a springboard for reaching out, and opening my home to those who need me.

I'm struggling...once again...with the balance between mental health/good personal boundaries and a life of service. I can say that my family is my ministry, but is that really what I'm called to do? I need to do some study. I need to let go of the guilt. I need to find...once again...the peace that says what I'm doing is enough. Or figure out what it is that I'm supposed to do if this isn't enough.

Speak to me, Jesus. Here I am.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happiness is...

Happiness is watching both your 5yr old and your 17yr old walk around with their tongues out in the falling snow trying to catch snowflakes...

And laughing until you can hardly breathe with your family in the car...

And having your 17yr old say, "You guys are such cool parents!" which Mango replied, "Well, we *are* pretty cool for a couple of teenagers our age."

What was your happiness today?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Madonna quote

"We you're your own person and not so concerned with impressing, then the other person is very impressed."

~ Madonna, as quoted in the book The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Case of the Missing Part of Speech!!!!

I got this CD in the mail today!!!!!! I am SO excited. I did this as a play with my class in 4th grade, and I've known the parts of speech ever since. I was so excited to find that it's been reissued on CD recently because I wanted so badly to add it to my collection of homeschooling materials for Mane. She's in love with it and has listened to it twice today. Of course, I don't expect her to really understand parts of speech for a few years yet, but when we get there she'll already know the songs to remember them by.

The Case of the Missing Part of Speech can be found at - both the director's book & the CD.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Half a Dozen

I had about a half a dozen profound things to say before I sat down to type here. Now that I'm here, they've fallen out onto the floor somewhere.

First, I have to give a shout-out to my good friend in Montana who made MY WHOLE DAY by spending a good long time on the phone with me yesterday. I feel so much better after exchanging news and other random and often profound thoughts. Thank you! I love you SO MUCH!

Next, I have to say that I realized suddenly yesterday that I was living something I'd always hoped I would. There were 3 teenagers sitting in the bedroom doing homework and listening to music. Vespera's friend came home from school with her, and Novio showed up later in the evening. I've always wanted to be one of those parents whose children bring their friends home, and their friends like to be here. Now I *am* officially one of those parents! I, strangely, don't feel like I've done anything profound.

Ok, I've got to work on this half dozen thing...

Um...third, my 'nother good friend is hosting a women's spa day at her house on Sunday, and I FINALLY get to go. I believe they've done this two or three times without me now. Life keeps getting in the way. This year I'm going. (I hope that typing this here doesn't jinx me somehow. ;) )

Hmmmm...fourth, we've done very little homeschooling this week, as Mane was sick with a stuffy head, and much crabbiness ensued.

Fifth, I need to take notes on the speech I heard about voting in America. We had a bit of an exciting Super Tuesday. I tried to teach Mane about political parties and voting (amid the tissues & crabbiness...brave of me, don't you think?).

Finally, have I mentioned how much I'm tired of MN winter? I feel ready to pull my hair out. My skin is itchy. Everything feels old and brittle. I want warmth and humidity. I want to sleep with the windows open. I want to walk outside without a coat. I want anything but another weekend of double-digits-below-zero. I wish I could hibernate.

Ok, I said my half dozen things. I don't know what happened to the "profound" part.

Monday, February 04, 2008

My Creative Companions...

Another journaling exercise I found recently was to list my Creative Companions...the things that inspire creativity in me...

FAMILY...I know it's so generic to say that my family inspires my creativity, but it's just plain true. The people I live with every day inspire me to write and be creative. Of course, it helps that my family and my life are a little unusual. It's never dull or slow around here. I live in a house of perpetual motion, constant E-motion, events, studies, conversation, music...

COFFEE...I resisted coffee for a long time. All through college the only time I drank coffee was when Mango & I went out together. I don't think I actually used a coffee pot at home until after Mane was born. Then coffee became my creative companion. I love a good cup of coffee and a blank sheet of paper.

CRISIS...Yup, it's true. Crisis inspires creativity. Maybe crisis force us to think outside the box. Or maybe everything is suddenly sharper and clearer in a crisis. In any case, there's always something to say when I'm in crisis.

THE DARK...I can hear myself think better in the dark. If you read my comments on early mornings, you know I have a sort of romantic attachment to late nights.

WATER...Water is so healing, so powerful, so necessary, so ordinary. I used to get through homework by sitting myself down with a big glass of ice water. I got through childbirth in a big tub of hot water. Maybe it's something primal. Water is my creative friend.

FRIENDS...I have so many beautiful friends who challenge me to think, by their lives, by our conversation, by questions, by comments and criticism. They inspire me by their own creativity. ...friends from high school, from college, from Bible study, from GCM, from my neighborhood, and from my own family. ...But I already mentioned family.

MUSIC...OF course, who isn't inspired by music?

Languages, culture, photographs, camping, road trips, rocks, my garden...All of these have been creative companions at one time or another.

And my own writing...because as I sit here I am reminding myself of all the things to be mindful of...

OK, blog readers, it's your turn to leave your own list!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Lent is not something I've traditionally known a lot about, nor is it something I'll probably ever practice as a Catholic person might. I find myself, nonetheless, drawn to Lent as a season of meditation and quiet in anticipation of Easter and the coming of Spring. This time of year is somehow suited to Lent, as it gives purpose to the winter hush and darkness. It's a time to reflect, a time to let go, a time when my own wounded-ness feels so exposed. Last year I gave up my favorite message board for Lent. This year I'll do the same. The time away from the computer last year was a time to refocus, to listen to God and my own parent voice, rather than the cacophany of other voices so readily available to me on the internet. And, to be honest, even the small amount of time I spend on the computer these days is enough to mess with my mental health this time of year. I find that the screen isn't too good for me. I'll still be writing here, and, perhaps, my writing with even improve with a little more time for reflection. Wednesday, February 6th marks the beginning of Lent. And Lent ends with the celebration of Easter. May we be greeted at the end with snow-melt and sunshine!