Water: After not having water for four days due to a frozen pipe and then the pump burning out trying to push water from the well to the house, it was exciting to see water coming out of the faucets again.
Below is a truck from the well company that replaced the pipes that were corroding and the pump. An electrical company, thankfully, was able to come out at the same time and do all the electrical work to make the pump work.
Window Stars: I've been making a couple of new window stars. The stars below have components from two different window star patterns. The white part has 16 points (8 points and then another 8 points attached to them to make the star larger) and the pink and purple points have 8 points. It's a lot of folding.
What makes me happy is that the completed stars look bright and detailed; and I enjoy seeing the sun illuminate the pattern of the points and stars as a whole.
Receiving a pPckage from Japan: My friend, Yoshiko, sent a wonderful Christmas present that we've been enjoying. In addition to the lovely purse, she sent a variety of food items to try. There were soups, candies, pastries, and other items that we don't get in the United States.
The wrapping paper was so cute. The designs for cards and wrapping paper from Japan are always so delightful to see.
Service Projects: I coordinated service projects for the local Lions Club that I've belonged to since July. Sophia helped me with it. She put the flowers into vases and the new members and sponsors could take a little bouquet home with them.
We made four fleece-tied blankets that will be given to two local Fire & Rescue departments for people who experience a house fire; put bookplates in ten books that were donated to two local elementary schools; collected food for the food shelf; and glasses for the Lions' vision program.
Tour of Split Rock Studios: Sophia, Olivia, and I went to Split Rock Studios and saw the variety of things they make for museums, national parks, state parks, and visitor centers. One of the machines has a computer that is hooked up to saws that can cut foam (high- and low-density). Low-density foam would be used for things like sculptures - like the gorilla (below). High-density foam or wood would be used for things like topographical maps.
We also saw how trees are made for exhibits. There are these molds (see below) that were made by taking resin and pressing them into real trees. The molds are labeled on the back with the type of tree it is for authenticity purposes. When a tree needs to be made, the form is created and then the appropriate mold is pressed onto it in random ways to make it look like it is a real tree.
The leaves are made by spray-painting and then hand-painting the leaves and braches. It's a lot of work, but results in a realistic-looking product.
College Visits: We are starting to go on college visits. The first one was to Century College (a community college) to learn more about taking some general courses that could be taken before transferring to a four-year college. It was informative. We had hoped, though, to get a campus tour and see the classes in action. However, it was a few days before the semester began so the campus was rather empty.
Next, we went to Bethel University where we felt like honored guests. They went all out creating a memorable day with appointments, a delicious lunch, and campus tour. We heard about the opportunities for pre-music therapy (a combination of psychology, music, and pre-med courses that prepare one for a graduate degree in music therapy).
Our third visit was to Northwestern University - not far from Bethel. We attended a Hoops Hysteria event which included a campus tour, college/major fair where we learned a lot about the Interdisciplinary Major (which would be a great fit for Sophia), watched a basketball game, and enjoyed a tasty meal.
The fourth visit was to Augsburg College on their Music Day. We sat in on a group piano lesson course; visited with faculty and students in the music program; went to chapel; had lunch; and talked with the head of the music therapy major/department.
Each of the colleges/universities has its positives and negatives. It will be a difficult choice when that time comes next year to make a decision about which ones to apply to and attend.
Whole30: I'm doing the Whole30 a second time. The first time was in October and I lost 8 pounds. The second time I started on January 8th. As of today, I lost an additional 7 pounds. The loss of 15 pounds definitely makes me happy!!
It's also been nice eating food that is healthy and free from sugar, dairy, grains, corn, and beans.
Wild Turkeys: In one of the fields along the main road leading from home to town someone has been putting grain down for the wild turkeys. Many times when I pass the field, there are anywhere from 25 to probably close to 100 turkeys eating. It always makes me happy to see so many of them gathered together...and the thoughtfulness of someone who wants to make sure they can find enough to eat.
Celebrating Winter: During the last week in January, there were a couple of winter events we attended. First, there was a pancake breakfast that the Lions held. We enjoyed having a hearty breakfast and seeing a lot of people from the community who we had good conversations with before volunteering to do dishes for 1 1/2 hours.
Afterwards, we went to White Bear Center for the Arts for the open house. We spent some time playing with clay on the pottery wheels, saw artists working, enjoyed seeing the artwork displayed in the galleries and on the walls, and then went outside to see the Samoyeds leading sleds...or, in the case below, sitting on a sled.
Olivia went on a short sled ride. It reminded her of when we went dogsledding at Wintergreen in Ely and with Positive Energy Outdoors. Both were very different dogsledding experiences; and equally as memorable.
Warm Fires: We've enjoyed fires in the woodstove almost every night during January. This one was an outdoor fire at the art center during the open house.
I am so incredibly grateful to have been able to spend so much time with the girls as they grew up. Homeschooling has given us such a wide variety of good memories to look back upon. For that, I am extraordinarily happy.