Monday, January 18, 2016

En Garde!

Ethan has long had a fascination with swords and sword-like implements.  From wrapping paper rolls to plastic light sabres to daggers and samurai swords, if he can swing it he loves it.  So 3 years ago, when we were set to arrive in Boise at the beginning of summer, I was happy to find a fencing class to help fill the long days.

Sometime last year the man who taught that summer class started the first fencing club in Boise.  Ethan was one of the first students which was nice because for a time he basically received one-on-one lessons.

Ethan is now at the point of attending competitions and this past weekend the entire family travelled to a competition in another state.  The competition did not go well for Ethan. I believe he decided early on that he could not win therefore he didn't.

The experience woke me up.  My parenting style seems to be opposite of most these days.  I would say I take a hands-off, sink-or-swim approach to everything including fencing.  I am the driver and the check writer.   Beyond that I thought I could be Ethan's head cheerleader, but this weekend showed me that I need to be more.  I know nothing of the rules of fencing therefore I am incapable of offering any advice.

Eric and I struggled with the fact that Ethan's coach was not present.  It meant Ethan was on his own out on the fencing strip while his opponents had coaches encouraging and instructing. Ethan is smart and strong and I believe fencing is the perfect sport for him, but he is also driven which results in him not being okay with anything less than 100%, first place, the best.  I could not convince him that there was great value in the experience,  that it's not about winning. At the end of the competition we were all frustrated and crabby.  I badly wished his coach was there to help, but I realized that I am going to have to step up and learn some things because I don't know how often a coach will be around.  So today I begin the process of educating myself in the sport of fencing.

En garde!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Attitude of Gratitude

Because I believe every blog post should include a photo, I'm including this picture of one of my poinsettias.  My kids' school sells them every year as a fundraiser.   This was my first year remembering to order them and I must say they are the most beautiful poinsettias I've ever seen.  I will definitely be ordering again next Christmas!

As I write it is a little past 3 a.m.  This blog was born a number of years ago when I frequently found myself unable to sleep.  I seem to be in another of those sleepless patterns so perhaps I will use the time to write again.   On this particular night night I have little choice of activities as I am away from home in a hotel with my family.  

As I sit in the quiet my thoughts go to a recent Facebook post from a faraway friend.   She is going to be speaking to a group on the topic of gratitude.   The phrase "attitude of gratitude" is circling in my brain; my friend mentioned it as a practice.   I am wondering how my life (and the lives of those around me) would change if I would adopt such an attitude.   It seems quite obvious that we would all be changed for the better.

Immediately I am able to think of so much to be grateful for.   So what if I cannot sleep! I'm sitting in a warm hotel room; I enjoyed an abundant dinner last night; my family is healthy.  These simple thoughts easily and immediately spiral to so many things I have to be grateful for!

Also on Facebook, a friend shared a writing from another friend who had recently left her youngest child at college.  It was a very moving piece about the sadness of no more children at home.  That day is still future for me but I do know that it will arrive all too quickly.  Thinking of this allowed me to be grateful for my children even when they were needing a referee earlier.

My first taste of practicing gratitude is shockingly easy and oh-so-pleasant.   This could and should be a wonderful new beginning!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A bit of Christmas DIY

In March of 2014 we picked up some lovely, large pine cones while traveling through California.   Heading into Christmas, I saw some glittery pinecones for sale and told Anna we could make our own.  

 And so we did.  The entire family got in on the fun.  We simply applied a spray adhesive then sprinkled glitter on the cones.

 I included the cones with other decorations around the house, including on the fireplace mantle.  I was quite pleased with the result!
 Another view of the mantle,  not including the pine cones.
 And a couple of peeks at another room:

This weekend I'll have to put the decorations away.  I will reuse the pine cones next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


A belated Merry Christmas!  As you can see, we had a white Christmas.   Despite the fact that I don't like snow, I think it is incredibly beautiful against a clear blue sky.

We had a fairly quiet Christmas.  My kids aren't little anymore, so the excitement is waning.  My Dad spent the night, as he has each year since we moved back.  In addition to Dad we had one friend with us for Christmas Eve, which is "the big event" for us.  We went to a 4:00 church service then came home to a traditional dinner of meatballs and lefse. After dinner we open gifts.  We also get a few gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.  That's how things were done when I was growing up and we continue that tradition.

Atypically, the kids made small gingerbread houses this year.  That was never a tradition for me, but my daughter especially wanted to do it this year, so I bought a pre-made kit and let the kids do whatever they wanted.

I am quite happy that we have passed the shortest day of the year.  Currently we have sunlight only from approximately 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  In the summer we stay light until nearly 10 p.m., which I much prefer.

I bought a fondue pot on an after-Christmas sale.  I'm hoping to start a New Years tradition of fondue for dinner.  I think I'll need to make creme brulee for dessert,  as we've done that 2 of the past 3 years and my daughter wants that to be an annual event.

What traditions do you observe?

Monday, December 14, 2015

A living Christmas Tree

It's been 20 years since I left cold, snowy Minnesota for the warmer, drier high mountain desert of Idaho.  I was the last member of my family to leave.  Just over a year ago my youngest brother moved back to Minnesota.   I thought he was crazy.

This year I've been waiting for the frigid winter of my childhood memories to force my brother to admit I was right about being crazy to live in Minnesota.  Sadly, things aren't going as I expected in the weather department.   While my brother posts pictures on Facebook of his green lawn, I am forced to post pictures like the one above.  I took it tonight when we, once again,  got blanketed in snow.

I don't mind it TOO terribly much since Christmas is coming.  And it is pretty, especially with the lights. Apparently a little humility is in order for me.  Frozen humility.

Monday, December 7, 2015

I'm a pessimist.  Recently I was wondering if this might be our last abundant Christmas, and I remembered that I have wondered the same thing on many previous Christmases.

I'm attending Bible Study Fellowship this year and we are studying the book of Revelation.   It is beyond anything I expected and nothing like I expected. I've always thought of Revelation as the book that tells all of the terrible things that will happen at the end of time, and I suppose it does.  But so far (we've gotten through chapter 5) it has been focusing on the praiseworthiness of Jesus and the wonder that awaits us when we get to heaven.

Last week we were looking at a verse which talks of how all creatures on earth and in heaven and under the earth and in the sea are going to praise Jesus. One of the ladies wrote a beautiful,  poetic description of various created beings praising God.  I was stunned by her writing and, besides appreciating what she wrote, I realized my pessimism is getting in the way of fully enjoying and appreciating Jesus.  So I determined that this week I would make a conscious effort to shelve my pessimism and get EXCITED about eternity.   This week, however, we are detouring from Revelation to the book of Joel. What I've read so far was total gloom and doom, sackcloth and ashes, weeping and mourning stuff.  I couldn't help but laugh - so much for my attempted optimism!   But then again, it did make me laugh, so maybe all is not lost!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rome and My Dad

It's been more than 2 months since I was in Italy so I thought I would share some pictures.  Just a few, I lack patience for narrating right now.

We had just 1 day in Rome so we made the best vacation decision we have ever made: we hired a private tour guide.  That is the way to go!  Our guide was a 60-something gentleman who was knowledgeable and very personable.  In addition to giving us an amazing overview of the city, he took us to JUST the place to find a very particular souvenir for our son.  We would never, EVER have found what we wanted.

In one day we managed to see the Forum, Colosseum,  Pantheon, Roman Baths, Circus Maximus and assorted churches and fountains.  I do not recommend trying to see Rome in 1 day, but that was all we had and our guide made the most of it.

I quick update on my Dad, since I posted about him:

Last week he was supposed to have his first chemotherapy treatment.  It was begun, but he had an allergic reaction to the medicine which prevented him from breathing.  It was traumatic for him, but I must say the nurses knew exactly what to do and they handled everything quickly and professionally.

Today was supposed to be the "restart" date with a different drug.  Before the scheduled treatment we met with the oncologist.  Dad and the doctor decided he is not going to proceed with chemotherapy.  He is getting radiation which is supposed to have a 60% chance of curing  him.  Given that Dad is already 84 those are acceptable odds.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster because of everything with my Dad, but hopefully now radiation will continue without any big issues and we will go on with normal life.