Monday, January 31, 2011

A Gift To Be Simple

Here is an old Shaker song that talks about being Simple.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Two additional, later non-Shaker verses exist for the song, as follows:
'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,
'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.

To solve all of our problems, it really is just as simple as Love One Another.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


No, this isn't Super's age. Or the number of bones I've broken. Or the number of trips I had to go out to the car to unload the groceries. (As an aside, unloading the groceries from the car is one of my least favorite jobs. EVER.)

My alma mater is this university, and I still live in the same city that the university is located. So today I was driving past one of the intersections by campus and noticed a big banner that said "Seven" and then led you to the university's Wellness home page.

Now, I've mentioned how I've been pretty UNwell this past year, at least physically. I'm really hoping that 2011 is a more healthy year.

But I also hope that I'm more healthy overall and so I decided to check out the Wellness page.

They list seven areas of Wellness and their definition of each area:
  1. Intellectual - Intellectual well-being involves lifelong learning through your formal education and informal life experiences. Well-being in this area increases your openness to new ideas and to maintain a sense of humor, creativity and curiosity.

  2. Emotional - Emotional wellness is a journey toward increased awareness, expression and acceptance of a wide range of thoughts and feelings in yourself and others. Optimal emotional wellness helps you achieve positive self-esteem, satisfying relationships and resilience to meet life's challenges.

  3. Physical - Physical wellness involves respecting your body's own uniqueness and diversity, and engaging in practices that move you towards a higher level of health. Optimal physical well-being includes connecting with your physical self and avoiding harmful habits, while remaining focused on the balance of body-mind-spirit.

  4. Social - Social health means being aware of, participating in, and feeling connected to your community. Social well-being is enhanced by establishing supportive social networks through meaningful relationships with family, friends, colleagues and other significant individuals.

  5. Vocational - Vocational wellness can be nurtured by matching your core values with interests, hobbies, employment and volunteer work. As you uncover your talents and passion, you express yourself to the world.

  6. Environmental - Environmental well-being includes trying to live in harmony with the earth by understanding the impact of your interaction with nature and your personal environment, and taking action to protect the world around you.

  7. Spiritual - Spiritual wellness involves developing an inner connection and harmony between yourself and the wonder, majesty and mystery of the universe.

On the Wellness page, they also encourage people to complete activities in each of the areas for prizes.

Now, I'm all for prizes and all, but a) I'm pretty sure they don't allow alumni to enroll in the program and b) I want to have more control over what prize I'm going to get. I'm all about chocolate for prizes :)

So I'm mulling these areas around in my mind today and trying to decide what my goals are going to be with overall wellness. I may try and complete a goal in each area each month. But that might be too much to take on. I may try and complete a goal in ONE area each month. That would be more doable, but will I lose momentum and motivation that way? And will I feel that I'm not concentrating enough on overall health? Or I may just write all these down in my journal and try and just encourage these ideas in my overall goals and things I do during the year.

I'll let you know what I decide.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tu B'Shevat - The New Year of Trees

In homeschooling this year, Jelly Bean and I are studying the holidays from around the world. I really enjoyed learning about the Jewish holiday Tu B'Shevat (celebrated on January 20th this year) and have been thinking about it for the past few days.

In celebrating the New Year of Trees, one can think about how a person was like a tree in the last year:

* Did I shelter those that live in my shade? Did I give others a good, safe, warm home?

* Did I strive to grow? Did I reach upwards instead of staying in the same place?

* Did I keep my roots firmly planted? Did I make firm resolves? Did I show by my example how to stay planted to the young trees beside me?

* Did I create sweet fruit? Or did I keep my branches bare? Did I share those fruits with others?

And speaking of fruit, some Jewish people partake in a Tu B'Shevat seder. During the seder, the first fruit that is eaten is one that has an inedible shell, like a walnut. The next fruit is one that has an inedible pit, like a peach. The next fruit is one that you eat the entire thing, like a grape. The next fruit is not one that is actually eaten but just inhaled, like almond extract or herbs, etc.

One can think of how this applies to ourselves - Do I live with a hard shell around me? Or do I appear to be open, but really, there is a hard pit inside, and so I won't let anyone in too deeply? Or I am trying to learn more about how to be a good person while still on Earth? Or am I striving to look towards things beyond?

I also love what Emerson said in Nature about the woods/trees:

"In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. . . . I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature."

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Daybook of 2011: January 17, 2011

I am thankful for... the clothes I found in my closet this week. I had lost a bunch of weight back in 2006, and bought three skirts. I haven't been able to fit into them since uh, 2006, and I was growing weary of the one dress and one skirt that I had been wearing to church. Now I've suddenly almost tripled my Sunday wardrobe and I didn't have to spend a dime!

From the learning rooms... The preschoolers are working on Antarctica, snow related activities, the letter O, the number 5 and the color grey. Jelly Bean is working on Charlemagne in history, verbs in Language, New Mexico in Geography, 4 time tables and gallons/quarts in Math, ink in Art, and primates in Science. She also started going to Gym N' Swim at the YMCA last week (through our homeschool group - 45 minutes of swimming and 45 minutes of traditional PE activities.)

From the kitchen... Chicken Noodle Soup. I really love winter foods - soups, root vegetables - especially roasted. YUMMY! Oh, and Hot Chocolate. Have I ever mentioned that I love Hot Chocolate??? :)

I am wearing... blue yoga pants, an adult sized Swim Team t-shirt, and my grey wool socks. Hey, I had an allergist appointment this morning. I wanted to be warm and comfortable.

I am creating... organization to my closet. :)

I am going... to doctors this week. I'm hoping that soon I will be able to go a few months between all these appointments. Today, it was the allergist, tomorrow, the ENT, and Wednesday, I have to travel down to Springfield for a small medical procedure.

I am reading... The Seventeen Traditions and Rocket Boys. The author of Rocket Boys is coming to the local community college for a Q & A in March and so I thought I try and read it before his visit.

I am hoping... that my family knows how much I love them. I attended a funeral this weekend of a wonderful woman. I am sure that her family knew how much she loved them, and vice versa.

I am hearing... Thankfully, not much. The toddlers are sleeping and Jelly Bean (and Super and Flower who are home from school the today and tomorrow) are playing a board game together.

Around the house... Trying to embrace the grey and cold of January by decorating with snowflakes and pictures of the children's snowmen.

One of my favorite things... Watching movies with my kids on the weekends. We all get our blankets and snuggle on the couch together. Makes me smile just thinking about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Solstice Party 2010

Phew! After this post, I think I'm all caught up with December activities. It was a busy month!

Anyway, I originally had the Solstice party scheduled for a few days before Solstice, but two of the invitees were ill that day, so I rescheduled for a couple days after Solstice.

I also meant to take lots of cool, artsy pictures, but I was having so much fun hanging out, talking, and eating that I forgot. My one attempt at a picture during the event didn't turn out, so you'll just have to imagine it. I even forgot to take pictures of the food!!

Anyway, I was in charge of the food, and then some groovy people brought all of the other stuff. There was a beautiful centerpiece with evergreen boughs and red glass berry branches, some nice music, tasty beverages, and even a great presentation about Solstice. (We all laughed during the poem - but we were supposed to, right????) And then we went downstairs and talked about kids and home ownership and life. It was a lovely evening.

All the food came from the book Recipes from the Root Cellar. I mentioned that I wanted it, so I decided to buy it for myself as an early Christmas present. Love presents like that :) We had Couscous Sasad with Kale and Feta, Creamy Potato-Leek Soup, Maple Glazed Baked Winter Vegetables (I used beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips and butternut squash) with Chicken, and Applesauce Cake for dessert. I must admit that most of it was delicious, although somehow, I managed to screw up the Applesauce Cake a bit. The cake itself was overdone a little, and then I didn't do the crumb topping quite right, although all the guests graciously ate it without complaining.

It was so nice to share a meal and lovely conversation with friends as we welcomed in the new season. It was so much fun, I'll probably be hosting one every season! I'll try and take pictures next time too!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Music Concerts 2010

During the same week that we were doing other Christmas things, we also had music concerts for Flower and Super.

Super is in Kindergarten this year, and the school holds a K-2 Music concert during December where they sing all kinds of holiday songs. Super really enjoys singing. And his cute Music teacher :) Sorry about the video quality on this one. He is the one with blondish brown hair, wearing a grey suit, 2nd row up from the bottom, sort of in the middle.

Flower is in 5th grade this year, and was part of the elementary school choir. They sang a few "regular" songs and a few holiday songs. She LOVES singing. She plans on trying out for the school musical and is hoping to get a part. Flower is on the bottom row, 2nd person in on the right.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Top Posts of 2010

I was checking my stats the other day, and I was shocked to see which post of mine had the most views. (It also always surprises me which posts generate the most comments. It is rarely the ones that I think will generate comments. Oh, and PLEASE, feel free to leave comments. Or become a follower if you haven't already.)

So here are the top posts of 2010:

5. Less of Me These Days

4. Cookbooks . . .

3. Whose Life Will You Touch??

2. Holiday Gifts:Progress Post

and in the #1 spot -

1. Totally Frivilous Post . . .

It makes me laugh that a truly frivilous post has generated the most views. Maybe if I want to become popular in the blogworld, I should talk more about colors. And shapes. LOL

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Snow of late 2010

After the courthouse, we came back home. The kids were SO excited to go out and play in the snow. They acted like they had never seen snow before! They were so excited that they didn't even complain when I asked them to shovel the walks before they built a snowman! They bundled up and then they went outside - and they were outside for at least two hours! And nobody came in during that time! My children are finally growing up, I think! I went out a couple times to check on the progress of the shoveling and of the snowman making, but most of the time, I sat inside the warm house and read. Oh, and drank hot chocolate. A good day was had by all!

The snowman

Jelly Bean


And Super - right after he
got hit with a snowball!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas At The Courthouse

The next morning, we were back downtown. It had snowed quite a bit the night before, and it continued to snow while we were in the museum.
Outside of the County Museum.
(The County Museum is in the
Old Courthouse.)

A picture with St. Nicholas and his wife

The tree

Music and refreshments in a courtroom

A view out the windows in the courtroom

Some of the architecture in the courthouse

A view up to the inside of the dome.
We had a great day at the courthouse - we did crafts, explored some of the museum rooms, listened to some beautiful music, and ate some yummy snacks.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Live Window Vignettes

I have a bunch of catch up posts from December to do. We do many things every year - Live Vignettes in Downtown, Christmas At the Courthouse, Holiday Music Concerts, play in the First Snow. This year, I also hosted a Winter Solstice Party. I'm going to be spending the next few days posting some of the things that we did in December.

We've gone to the Live Window Vignettes in Downtown for a few years now. The first year, there were lots of live models in the windows in several of the downtown shops. This year, there were less than 10 windows that actually had people in the windows. It was a little disappointing. We still managed to have fun, but I hope that next year that there is more emphasis on the LIVE part.

Middle getting her cast signed by Mrs. Claus

Picture with Mrs. and Santa Claus

Face Painting - Santa Cat, Rudolph,
and Snow Princess

It had been unseasonably warm for weeks now, but it started snowing on this night. And it snowed and snowed and snowed. In the morning, we would be heading back downtown for Christmas At The Courthouse.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 in Pictures

Just a picture from each month - some of my favorites from 2010.

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010 - At St. Louis Zoo

April 2010 - When our window
wells broke and mud poured
in the basement

May 2010 - At the Mother/Daughter
Girl Scout campout

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010 - At the Corn Festival

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010