Friday, August 31, 2012

12 in 12: August Update

During 2012, Sophia, Olivia, and I are doing a special challenge that we've named 12 in 12. We are doing 12 different activities that help people in need, animals, or the environment. 

This is how we did during August: 

- Take 1 bag of food to the food shelf.

Olivia with a donation to the food shelf.

We donated a 12-pack of Ramen Noodle Soup to Community Helping Hand.

The gentleman at Community Helping Hand 
had a huge smile on his face when 
Olivia handed him the soup.
She, in turn, was even more excited about 
donating to the food shelf.

Although this isn't the largest donation we've made this year, we also purchased food for making a healthy snack for 20 people (adults and children) for Project Home that will be at the UU church during September. There are 26 churches who help provide shelter for families who are homeless.

We are happy to be able to provide a snack to the 20 people through Project Home next month, so we opted to put more of our money towards that project. Pictures of what we are going to be doing will be posted with the 12 in 12: September Update.

- Volunteer 1 hour at a community organization that is chosen each month (can be the same one or different one).

We are continuing to help with the African Library Project. This month, the Sharing Shop at Lakes Free Church asked if we wanted to go through books that they had in the shop. Sophia, Olivia, and I sorted through a dozen boxes of books - including reading books, curriculum, and learning tools.

Olivia and Sophia with 5 boxes of books.

Because we are sending books to a primary school, we could only select those items which fell into the age bracket of the children who will be using the books. We were very happy to leave with five boxes of books for the African Library Project - including a dictionary for each grade level!

Donate 1 bag of clothing to a second-hand shop.

We donated one bag of clothing to Family Pathways during August.

Sophia and Olivia with a bag of clothes 
and two bags of other items.

Donate 1 bag of toys and other non-clothing items to a second-hand shop.

We donated two bags of non-clothing items at the beginning of the month. (See photo above.) In addition, we had three bags and a toy mailbox to Family Pathways in the middle of the month after cleaning Olivia's closet.

Three bags of non-clothing items and a toy mailbox.

We also had another two bags on the 29th of the month after cleaning my office closet.

Two more bags of items to the thrift shop.

Donate 12 books that we no longer read to organizations needing books.

We donated 16 books to Family Pathways this month (they were included in one of the bags that is pictured above). These books were ones that were ones that the African Library Project couldn't use (e.g., the reading level is above fourth grade, there was only text and no pictures).

We also donated four bags of curriculum to the homeschool co-op that meets at Lakes Free Church. Hopefully these resources will be of use to families who are looking for curriculum to augment what they are using this year.

Donate $12 to an organization that helps individuals, animals, or the environment.

We donated $12 to Northwoods Humane Society this month. Unfortunately, when we delivered the donation, they were not open yet (they open at 3:00 p.m.).

Eddie is looking for a new home.

So, we left the donation along with the bag of kitten chow at the back door and called to notify them of the donation when we came back home.

Alakazam is looking for a family to care for him.

Write 1 letter to someone who has made a difference in our lives.

I wrote a thank you note to the people from whom we adopted Eenie, Meenie, and Miney from many years ago. Although Miney isn't with us any longer, Eenie and Meenie are, and have been wonderful additions to the family.

Mom Dad and Eenie

My Dad/the girls' Papa petting Eenie.
This was about five weeks before my dad died.
(Taken on November 27, 2011.)

Eenie, especially, is a cat who the girls enjoy (and vice versa). He is very patient; and likes to sit on laps and be pet.

Dad Eenie and Sophia
My Dad, Sophia, and Eenie at the nursing home.
He had been in the nursing home for 17 days at this point.
(Taken on October 20, 2011.)

His special role, by far, was being a therapy cat/visitor to my Dad when he was in the nursing home. Eenie provided comfort to my Dad when his world seemed confusing thanks to Alzheimer's Disease. Eenie also was very good with people when Sophia and Olivia took him to the Alzheimer's Disease/Dementia Unit at the nursing home.

Had the people not offered the kittens for free to anyone who would take them, Eenie and the girls wouldn't have had that opportunity to connect with their Papa and others who have challenges with their memory during the past year.

Donate 1 bag of pop cans to places that collect them to raise funds.

We were surprised to see that the can collector at Northwoods Humane Society was completely full and there were bags of cans that were next to it.

Sophia and Olivia with a bag of cans for Northwoods.

The money they earn from recycling the cans will directly help the animals they care for until they are adopted.

Flash looks like he would be a great companion!

Donate 1 bag of Purina Kitten Chow to Northwoods Humane Society.

We donated one bag of Kitten Chow to help the kittens who are living at Northwoods and who are waiting for a family to adopt them.

Olivia with $12 and Sophia with a bag of Kitten Chow.

There seems to be kittens at Northwoods each month, so we know that the food is needed and will be used.

Wylie is a kitten who is available for adoption.

There are many cats and kittens that need homes at Northwoods

Spend 1 hour outdoors doing projects that help wildlife.

We continue to fill up the feeders with a variety of bird seed and "nectar" for the hummingbirds and butterflies. There is constant bird traffic at the feeders throughout the day which is interesting to watch.

Two beautiful, colorful birds at the feeders.

One morning, on August 29th, there were easily a dozen birds at the feeders, the bird bath, in the (overgrown) garden, and in the trees. There was even a rabbit eating the weeds and tall grass near the feeder.

The bird bath has been busy as well with birds drinking water as well as taking baths in it. The water needs to be changed and filled about every couple of days. 

Make and randomly drop off 1 toy for a child to find as part of The Toy Society.

I hand-embroidered a toy elephant using wool felt, cotton embroidery floss, and stuffing from sheep that I raised.

Elephant toy that I hand-embroidered.

Olivia picked Gammelgarden Museum as the drop-off point for the toy. We picked the gazebo this month (another month we chose the slide).

The drop-off spot for the elephant.
We always wonder who finds the toys and 
what their reaction is when they see it is free.

We are hoping a child finds the toy soon and enjoys playing with it.

Share 1 time the gift of music (piano and/or harp) or singing with others.

Sophia performed on August 1st at the county fair at the preteen talent show. She auditioned with another harpist in July and was selected to perform at the show.

Sophia introducing herself and Elizabeth as well as
telling a bit about the song they were going to play.

So, Sophia and Elizabeth played "Edelweiss" on their harps in front of over 200 people.

Video of the girls playing "Edelweiss."

Olivia played the piano for her grandma after we came back from a trip to southeastern Minnesota.

Olivia playing the piano for Nana.

Olivia played a piece she had memorized, and promised to bring some music the next time she visited so she could play more songs.

The only ones among you who will be really happy 
are those who have sought and found how to serve.
~ Albert Schweitzer ~

August Foodie Penpal - Reveal Day

Last month I heard about Foodie Penpals - a fun food exchange that is run by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean.

Participants sign up the month prior to participating on The Lean Green Bean website. By the 5th of the month (in this case, August), all the participants are assigned a penpal for whom they create a box of food products.

The boxes are to be filled with fun food-related items, local food items, or even homemade treats. The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box to a fun recipe.

By the 15th of the month, all the participants mail their boxes of goodies to their penpals. On the last day of the month, each participant posts about the goodies s/he received from her/his penpal!

This month I'm so excited to share with you what I received from Caitlin from Washington D.C.

Here's what I received this month:

Now a close-up of the items. Delicious homemade cookies - one version has dairy and the other does not have dairy (for Sophia). These were very tasty...and thankfully Caitlin included the recipe so we can make more batches of these cookies.

There's an Asiago and Roasted Garlic Mix which can be mixed with sour cream or cream cheese. I chose to use a fat-free sour cream. This all-natural mix created a wonderful dip for vegetables.

My favorite beverage in the morning is hot chocolate...and what should be in the box but a delightful canister of Chocolate Mousse Hot Chocolate. This is a very rich mix that is blended with a cup of hot milk.

When the hot chocolate is done, the reusable container is a ready-to-use bank with a slit in the top of the can. Very clever!

There are two Iced Oatmeal Cookie bars - one each for Sophia and Olivia - that I'm saving for when we go to Lake Itasca next month. When we are on one of the hikes we plan to take, they can snack on the bars. I'm sure they'll enjoy them.

There are two bags from Bob's Red Mill - one is 13 bean soup mix and the other is an eight-grain hot cereal. I haven't had the chance yet to try the soup mix. That will be good on a chilly, fall day.

We tried the other bag (with the hot cereal), and thoroughly enjoyed it! With the variety of different grains, it's a delightful change from oatmeal (which we have about once a week during the colder months). Sophia, Olivia, and I each added different items our bowls of the hot cereal. 

These were the different items I put out on the "hot cereal bar" - hot raisins that were plumped in boiling water; sucanat sugar (dried cane juice that has a high level of vitamins and minerals in it, unlike white refined sugar); dried bananas; and a cinnamon-maple-apple topping from Vermont.

This was such a fun experience, and I'm looking forward to participating again next month!

So, if you enjoy sampling a variety of food, like sending gifts to people you haven't met, and receiving packages in the mail from someone you get to learn more about through a letter, recipes(s), and food...then check out Foodie Penpals!


If you're interested in seeing what I sent, below is a picture of what I sent to Meredith at What's Cooking. Check out her blog to see what each of the items are and what she thought about what I sent to her.


The Lean Green Bean

3 in 30 September Goals

By the end of last week, I completed all my goals for the 3 in 30 challenge for August. This week, I have set the goals for September.  

1. Organize fabric. Most of the fabric I use for projects are in bins grouped by color. However, there are some pieces of fabric that are in bags that I want to put in the bins. Also, I'd like to go through all the fabric and donate the pieces I don't care for any longer and/or plan to use.

2. Begin to organize taxes. Last month when I cleaned my office, I came across an expandable file. I had set it up one year to put receipts and other documentation in for each category for taxes (e.g., health care, mortgage payments, homeschooling expenses). I'd like to take what I have saved thus far and put them in the appropriate categories to make tax-time easier in 2013.

3. Plan meals for the month. Sophia will be making food as part of her Eastern Hemisphere curriculum; Olivia will be making food as part of Five in a Row; and both the girls will be making food as part of the Cantering the Country curriculum (U.S. geography).  So, each week there are more lunches and dinners being prepared through homeschooling than there are from what I have on hand. 

I need to schedule these homeschooling meals and balance them out with food that I make so that the girls aren't cooking for each of the meals. This also will use items that we have on hand so we aren't wasting food.

Looking Back on the Summer Blog Challenge

The summer - and now the Summer Blog Challenge - are officially over. To me, September 1st marks the beginning of a switch to fall, a return to homeschooling, and the start of a new year.

I consider September 1st more of a "New Year" than January 1st in some ways. It's a time of re-focus and new beginnings. Of excitement and anticipation.

As I look back on the summer and doing the Summer Blog Challenge, I am very happy I found out about it by seeing information about it on another blog. Although I found out about the challenge in the middle of June, I went back to the beginning of the challenge (which started on June 1st) and answered all of the questions.

By the end of the summer and the SBC, I answered 92 questions. Some were easy to answer. Others made me think and/or research an answer. All were ones I would not have typically have written about on my blog.

I knew going into the SBC that I wanted to create a book with the 92 questions/prompts and answers that I could give to Sophia and Olivia for Christmas 2012.

Sophia and Olivia on December 23rd
Sophia and Olivia by the Christmas tree.
(Taken on December 23, 2009.)

It was something that I thought would be a meaningful gift because they are always looking in my Take a Stitch Tuesday journal to see what I've written - the personal reflection and the weekly gratitude list.

Embroidery Journal for TAST 2012
Take a Stitch Embroidery Journal
(Taken on March 5, 2012.)

In a way, it reminded me of one of the most insightful and treasured gifts I received from my dad. For a long time, he worked on a book that included one question or prompt for each day of the year. He answered all of them - in his own handwriting.

After his death, I came across an autobiography and many reflection papers he wrote while he was becoming a deacon. These items collectively provide such an interesting view about his life. I feel like these are such a gift that I've been given...and that I can continue to learn from him and about him even though he is not physically here.

I hope that the effort I spent answering the questions for the SBC will be something that both the girls enjoy reading. It is a gift that reflects a lot of thought, time, and mental energy that truly was a pleasure to do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Embroidery Journal Project - August

This is the eighth month of the Embroidery Journal Project. Each month I am creating a 12"x12" quilt square each month (for a total of 12 squares) that will ultimately be combined with other 12"x12" pieces of fabric; and be sewn into a memory quilt that reflects what happened in 2012.

The focus is not so much on the embroidery and showing a diversity of stitching, but rather the emphasis is on the meaning behind each of the symbols on the quilt square. For this reason, I have chosen to use the backstitch since it is an easy stitch to do and the final image looks like a colored pencil drawing.

This month, the design is the most simple of any that have been done to date. The four key symbols are:

=> Blue ribbon - represents participating in the County Fair. Although Sophia, Olivia, and I didn't have the number of projects we have had in past years at the County Fair (because of the large number of 4-H projects the girls did for another County Fair in July), we nonetheless were happy because each of the projects we entered received a ribbon.

Of the ribbons received, the majority were blue, with a few red ribbons. The girls even earned grand champion and reserve champion ribbons on some of their projects which was exciting.

=> Trio of books - represents taking three days to put together the 2012-13 homeschool year this month. Last month, I spent quite a bit of time determining which curricula, books, and other resources we would be using. These three days were focused on the "detailed" plans (e.g., what we do each day/week for each subject).

The books also represent a relaxed introduction to grades 4th and 6th grades for the girls. Rather than fully immerse them with all the subjects in one week, for the last two weeks of August they have been gradually easing back into school. This seems to be working quite well.

I chose red, orange, and yellow for the books to represent the return of the heat of summer - both in terms of temperature and humidity. What has been missing is rain...we are in the middle of a drought.

=> Hummingbird - purple is one of my favorite colors (green is the other) and hummingbirds are one of my favorite birds. There have been several hummingbirds who have been visiting the feeder throughout the day. It seems like each time I am in the kitchen and look out the window, a hummingbird will appear at some point.

My favorite one is a tiny green one - the ruby-throated hummingbird. She (or he) is much smaller than some of the other hummingbirds that visit the feeder - maybe a juvenile bird? She will stay at the feeder a long time drinking the sugar-water mixture so I've had a chance to watch her for more than a few seconds.

There also is a hummingbird that visits by the bedroom window where I have a trio of window stars that I made. The hummingbird likes the pink window star the best.

=>  Amish buggy - this represents the trip that Sophia, Olivia, my mom, and I took to Harmony (Minnesota) and Winona (Minnesota). My favorite part of the trip was going on a tour of different Amish farms one afternoon, and then going to an Amish farmers market the next morning.

We also were able to visit two towns where Laura Ingalls Wilder had a presence - Spring Grove (Minnesota) where she and Almanzo attended church for a couple of years; and Burr Oak (Iowa) where Pa managed the Masters Hotel. The hotel is still standing in the same location today - right by Silver Creek.


There are only four more months left of the challenge. I enjoy looking at the embroidered squares, and each one brings back good memories of things that happened during the month. I am looking forward to being able to sew the quilt together and see what it looks like when it is finished.

Adventuresome Eating as a Child

Today's prompt for the Summer Blog Challenge is "Write about the strangest food you've eaten."

Wood Frog from the Top
Wood frog that was in the backyard.
(Taken on May 29, 2011.)

When I was in China in 2000 and 2003, there were plenty of opportunities to try food that I normally would not have eaten on a daily basis in Minnesota. At one restaurant, for example, you could pick what you wanted from the blue bins - turtles, snakes, insects, and other items I normally don't eat.

Despite these unusual foods and opportunities to eat them (which I didn't, by the way...I stuck with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as rice), one memory sticks out from childhood about eating an unusual dinner. I think I was more adventuresome then because I ordered frog legs and shrimp.

This item was on the menu at a restaurant that my dad and mom took my sister, brother, and I for dinner one night. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but I remember that I picked the most unusual thing on the menu.

My mom asked me, "Are you sure you're going to eat that."

"Yes," I answered.

"If you order that, you're going to eat it. You're not going to be able to order something else if you don't like it. Are you sure you don't want something like a hamburger?"

"Nope...I want to try frog legs and shrimp."

And so I did. I remember the frog legs tasting like chicken. Would I order them again? Probably not. But, I managed to eat the entire dinner (much to my parents' surprise), and didn't complain once. I guess I didn't want to lose any opportunities in the future to go out to eat with them.

Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog that was in the pasture.
(Taken on April 30, 2011.)

Now, I much prefer to see frogs in the wild. There have been so many interesting varieties here at the farm over the years. This, to me, is a much better way to enjoy frogs.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Take a Stitch Tuesday - Sheaf Stitch - Week 35

This week for Take a Stitch Tuesday, the featured stitch is the Sheaf Stitch. This was an easy one compared to last week's stitch (the Linked Double Chain Stitch), and one that was enjoyable to do.

I think this would be a beautiful stitch with the addition of beads or other embellishments. It also would be interesting to experiment with different lengths and widths of the trio of lines.

As with each week in the past, I included a personal reflection, a list of items for which I'm grateful, and images of things that represent the week.

On the left page, there is
=> a sun to represent the high temperatures once again.
=> a hummingbird to remind me of the ones that are visiting the feeder each day along with the butterflies who drink from the same feeder.
=> a purple flower to represent the little flower bed by the back door that is in full bloom with violet, magenta, orange, and gold flowers.

On the right page, there is an image of an angel. I chose this handmade paper cast because a couple of times this past week my mom has shared how she feels like my dad is around us, and how he makes his presence known.

When Sophia, Olivia, my mom, and I took a trip to southeastern Minnesota this past weekend, she shared many memories of trips she and dad took; how they delivered quilts to Rushford after the town was flooded; and experiences they shared all the way back to the 1960s. It was an emotionally-healing and comforting time for her. For all of us, it was a memorable and enjoyable trip.

Changing How Puppy & Kitten Mills Operate

Minnesota is one of the top ten states with no laws to license, inspect, and regulate large-scale puppy and kitten commercial breeding facilities to ensure high standards or quality conditions. New legislation, H.F. 388/S.F. 384 has the potential to change that.

According to Animal Folks MN, "The problem is inhumane dog and cat breeding practices in Minnesota by unscrupulous or negligent breeders, and a lack of oversight of this industry.

"Minnesota is among the top producers of puppies in the United States, with some of the largest breeding kennels in the nation — housing 200, 500, or over 1,000 more dogs and puppies. Kittens are also mass-produced in Minnesota. Dog and cat breeders are located in all areas of the State."

Animal Folks MN describes the substandard and deplorable conditions that the adult dogs and cats live in. Conditions, such as the ones described on their website, can get that way because of increased use of the Internet. The Internet enables breeders to easily hide the conditions of the animals and cages.

Under the new law, breeders will be required to:

- Obtain an annual license after inspection.

- Document and report the number of animals living at the facility, number of animals sold, given away, and deceased each year.

- Report prior prosecution for animal cruelty.

- Provide a safe exercise, housing, and breeding environment for animals.

- Must adhere to all animal welfare laws or face penalties.

I'm surprised this law hasn't been enacted yet. To me, it just makes common sense to want to ensure that all living creatures are cared for and not subjected to unhealthy, inhabitable, and cruel living conditions and treatment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting Children to Eat Healthier

Recently I read the article School food workers grapple with new USDA guidelines and how to get children to eat healthier that was in the Star Tribune. It focused on schools who are "implementing the biggest update to federal school-food guidelines in 15 years."

Although I homeschool Sophia and Olivia, this article was interesting because it provided insight into the type of food that children need to stay healthy. School lunch menus now will be including "a wider selection of fruits and vegetables and other healthy options."

Broccoli Tomato Salad
Broccoli tomato salad that I made.
(Taken on March 4, 2011.)

The new Department of Agriculture guidelines, which take effect this fall, are good ones to follow at home as well:
- set calorie and sodium limits
- offer dark green, orange, or red vegetables and legumes at least once a week
- offer one vegetable or fruit per meal
- ensure flavored milk is nonfat
- eliminate artificial, artery-clogging trans fats.

Thai Peanut Chicken
Thai peanut chicken that I made.
(Taken on May 19, 2010.)

Although this sounds good on paper, the challenge is getting children to eat healthier food after they are use to eating more processed and/or unhealthy food. The concern is that children will not try the new healthier food, and end up throwing it away.

Making Rainbow Parfaits on St. Patrick's Day
Making rainbow parfaits with fruit on St. Patrick's Day.
(Taken on May 17, 2008.)

What surprised me was a school district in the Twin Cities has parent volunteers come into the elementary schools to be "food coaches." The volunteers distribute vegetables and fruits to the children as well as "demonstrate eating them. Food coaching may seem silly, but kids who have had chicken only as nuggets or patties may not know how to eat bone-in chicken and need to see how a grown-up eats it before trying it themselves."

Sophia Making Applesauce
Sophia making homemade applesauce.
(Taken on October 1, 2010.)

It did make me laugh to think about "food coaches," however, in reality it is no different than what I - as a homeschool parent - do each time Sophia, Olivia, and I make and try new food as part of the curriculum.

I think of all the different recipes we have tried throughout the past few years as we have explored different countries by doing an A to Z study of the world; and are now making recipes that represent each of the states in the U.S. as we are doing a multi-year geography study.

French Green Bean Recipe
Sophia holding French green beans that she made
when she was learning about France.
(Taken on October 13, 2007.)

In essence, I am a "food coach" who guides the girls to not only sample healthy food...but I teach them how to make the food. If they just eat the food, but never learn how to make it, then I'm doing a disservice to them as both their teacher and parent.

Blending the Strawberry Smoothie
Olivia and Sophia learning how to make a strawberry smoothie.
(Taken on April 20, 2009.)

What I also found interesting in the article was that the Department of Agriculture encourages cafeteria workers to "stop thinking of lunchtime as a break from academics, but a crucial part of a child's school day."  This is equally relevant, in my opinion, for families who homeschool.

Olivia Harvesting Rhubarb
Olivia harvesting some rhubarb.
(Taken on June 8, 2009.)

An idea that was mentioned in the article was that "just like supermarkets place impulse buys like candy and chewing gum by the checkout, lunch lines should place easy-to-grab fruits and veggies by their own cash registers. Her study saw cafeterias double their sales of fresh fruit when they placed it colorful bowls in a convenient place."

Placing fruit and and other healthy food in colorful containers could be done as well at home - either on the counter and/or in the refrigerator.

This article was an interesting and timely one...especially as we start the new homeschool year.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How I Was Named

Alphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter AAlphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter NAlphabet ATC or ACEO Available - Needlefelted Letter N
(The letters of my name that I needlefelted using sheep wool.
(Taken on June 8, 2008.)

I asked my mom the other day why she and my dad chose "Ann Marie" for my name. She said that "Ann" was a name that was one that belonged to several of her relatives - including herself.

My mom as a young girl with one of her dolls.

My mom's name is Dorothy Ann Rinkenberger. 

My grandma (Clara who I found out had no middle name or initial), 
me, my mom, and my dad. 
I was in 9th grade when this picture was taken.

 My mom was born on April 24, 1930, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Nana and the Girls
My mom (Dorothy Ann) - with Sophia and Olivia.
(Taken on October 14, 2009.)

My dad's mother's mom (one of my great grandmothers) was named Anna Josephine Carolina Hartz. She was born on October 29, 1870 in Hamburg, Germany.

In addition, Anna J.C. Hartz's mother (one of my great great grandmothers) also shared a variation of my name. She was Anna Carolina Foote and she was born about 1850 in Germany.

Even further back on my dad's side are two more women named Anna. One is my great-great-great grandmother; and the other is my great-great-great-great grandmother. Anna Oyer was born in 1790; and Anna Garber was born on March 15, 1817.

Anna Koehner.

On my mother's side, my mom's father's mother (one of my great grandmothers) was named Anna Josephine Koehner. She was born in 1855 in Ohio.

Anna Kuehn

Also, my mom's mother's mother (one of my great grandmothers) was named Anna Kuehn. She was born on August 10, 1872, in Alsace- Lorraine.

Chain Stitched "A"

In addition to a written family history that I compiled when I was in high school, I used a more current version of finding relatives: It has filled in substantially more names on my family tree than I could ever have imagined.

In addition, I've seen pictures of my relatives, grave markers, phone directory listings, and hand-written census forms listing family members. It is a part of my history that has truly come alive via this resource. It is, for me, fascinating to look at how far back some of the lines of ancestors goes.

Blue Chain Stitched "A"

Another reason for such a short first name was that my last name is a long one - 12 letters. That, in itself, is a lot for a person to write, so my parents wanted me to have as short of a first name as possible.

The other part of my name is "Marie." When asked why they chose that name, my mom said, "It just sounded good with Ann."

When I was growing up, my parents (especially my dad) frequently called me "Ann Marie." My relatives and my dad's business associates also knew me as "Ann Marie" and not "Ann;" and would call me by that name.

When I attended elementary-senior high school and the teachers would read the children's names on the first day of class, mine was always said as "Ann Marie." At school, I didn't want other kids calling me by two names because no one else used two names. So, I just told the teachers to call me "Ann."

Yet, at home I was fine with being called "Ann Marie"...just not by other children at school.

Today, even years after being on my own and not living with my parents, I am called both "Ann" and "Ann Marie." Either one I will respond to and am comfortable with now.