Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fall Bucket List 2017

This year, I made a Spring Bucket List and an ABC of Summer Fun list. I was able to do quite a few things I wanted to do on the Spring Bucket List and all but two on the ABC of Summer Fun. It's good to set goals so we can make the most out of each day and season.

Below are some things that I would like to do this Fall (both fun and practical things):

- Go to an apple farm and get apples. (Done - September 18, 2017.)

- Seek help from Senator Amy Klobuchar to see why there is a delay with getting Sophia's Certificate of Citizenship (even though she is legal, U.S. citizen) (In progress - letter granting permission for Senator Klobuchar/her staff to work on this issue sent on September 19, 2017. Sent second permission form from Sophia on October 3, 2017.)

- Go to Olivia's oath ceremony so she can get her Certificate of Citizenship.  (Done - September 21, 2017.)

- Make apple pie. (Done - September 25th.)

- Help Sophia with getting the frames off the beehives. Harvest the honey and put it in jars. (Done - September 30th.)

- Take two jewelry classes. (Done - October 19th Sophia, Olivia, and I took a metal-stamping jewelry class; and on October 21st, Sophia and I took a mandala necklace class.)

Olivia's bracelet.

Sophia's necklace.

Sophia making the mandala necklace with beads.

Sophia wearing her mandala necklace on the day of her oath ceremony.

- Participate in the Well Together program and track progress (and hopefully see positive results at the end of the 12-week program). (In progress - Started on September 16th. Have been doing Pilates two times per week, walking the dogs more, doing the Whole30 program, met with a doctor, did blood tests, and met with a nutritionist.)

- Go to Sophia's oath ceremony so she can get her Certificate of Citizenship. (Done - October 26th.)

Sophia taking the oath.

Olivia and Sophia with their certificates of citizenship.
Olivia's ceremony was in September and Sophia's was in October.

- Take photos of the girls in raked-up leaves.

- Go on a fall picnic.

- Go to at least one Fall festival.

- Do a bonfire in the backyard. Get the big pile of wood burned before winter. (Done - on Thanksgiving.)

- Open all the windows, sit under a blanket, and read a book.

- Take a drive to look at fall foliage. (Done - did this weekly from September through October when the bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin was closed for repairs.)

- Enter an item in the art show at the local center for the arts. (Done - Olivia entered a photo of beach plants that she took. I wanted to enter a photo from Arizona, but couldn't find the disk to print the image. Olivia's photograph is in the "Black & White Art Show" during October and November.)

Olivia's photo that's in the art show. 

The photo I took that I wanted to entered.
It's the roof and bells at a mission church
on a reservation in Arizona.

- Make hot apple cider. (Done - did this many times throughout October while on the Whole30 program. It was my alternative to hot chocolate in the morning.)

- Take a walk with the dogs and enjoy the changing leaves. (Done - did this many times throughout September and October.)

- Go to a pumpkin patch.

- Carve pumpkins.

- Toast pumpkin seeds.

- Bake pumpkin bread.

- Make pumpkin pie.

- Make and can applesauce.

- Try a new soup or stew.

- Make chili using the tomatoes I canned.

- Bake cookies. (Done - made two different types of cookies for Thanksgiving. One was a chocolate cookie with a mint cream filling and the other was a molasses cookie recipe from my Grandma Oliva.)

- Roast marshmallows around the fire. (The fire that we had on Thanksgiving was too large and hot to roast marshmallows.)

- Try rosemaling. (Done - Sophia, Olivia, and I took a class in October. None of us enjoyed doing rosemaling, so we didn't go back for the second class.)

- Do Christmas Prep Days in November and December.

- Celebrate Olivia's Adoption Day. (Done - celebrated it on November 17th.)

- Celebrate Sophia's Adoption Day. (Done - celebrated it on November 26th.)

- Try two new healthy recipes around Thanksgiving.

- Host Thanksgiving dinner. (Done. Enjoyed having here at the farm for Thanksgiving.)

- Make Christmas gifts. (In progress - working on six quilts that my mom started, but never finished.)

- Celebrate St. Nicholas Day. (Done - St. Nick visited during the night of December 5th. We saw what he brought us on December 6th.)

- Read a Christmas book. 

- Watch Christmas movies.

- Listen to Christmas music. (Done - we listen to Christmas music each time we are in the car driving somewhere.)

- Do two sessions per week on the Pilates Reformer machine from September until December. (In progress. Did two sessions per week from the beginning of September through the end of October so far.)

- Attend at least 90% of the Living Well classes that run from October through December. (In progress. Attended 2 out of 3 classes so far.)

- Go to at least one Winter/Christmas festival.

- Write a Winter Bucket List for 2017-2018 by December 21st when Winter begins.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Outdoor Mom's Journal - September

During our outdoor time this week we went....to Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul for Wildness Inquiry's Great River Race.

The girls were selected to be part of a alumnae team of grant receivers from the Ann Bancroft Foundation.

It was an early morning start with an 8:15 a.m. check-in. They both received shirts from the foundation to wear during the race.

There was a videographer there who was created a short movie about the experience.

The girls were able to spend some time with Ann Bancroft. Although she knows the girls and what they did, she had all the girls share how they used their grant money.

It was interesting that all did some sort of physical activity or sport. In Olivia's case, it was dogsledding and ice climbing. For Sophia, it was horseback riding on long trail rides, ziplining, and sea kayaking on Lake Superior.

The girls received a lesson about how to paddle in a canoe. It was going to be a long race - over 6 miles - so they needed some basic tips about how to paddle efficiently and quickly.

There were 28 teams - each in a large voyageur canoes that held 12 people.

While I waited for the girls to return from their 1 hour and 18 minute trip, I enjoyed the scenery.

It had rained earlier that day, but cleared up. There was a nice breeze and I enjoyed being outdoors.

After the race, the girls had their picture taken with Ann Bancroft.

The girls won second place in the spirit awards. The foundation created crowns and wristbands like Superwoman. Combined with their "Girl Empowered" shirts - they looked sharp together as a team.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...seeing a family of turkeys in the pollinator habitat park that our 4-H club (along with the Friends of Scandia Parks and Trails and Prairie Restorations) created last Fall.

We began working on the project in August 2015 when I heard about a grant program from Pheasants Forever for youth organizations in Minnesota. Applied for the grant and received it. Prairie Restorations prepped the land for throughout the Spring and early Fall of 2016. By October 2016, it was seeded. 

This year was the first year that the prairie bloomed. There is a lot of clover and black-eyed Susan flowers throughout the park. It's just beautiful now with all the flowers. 

Next year new wildflowers will blooms and then year after even more flowers. By the end of the third summer, all the perennial wildflowers will be established and blooming. It will be so colorful!

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...what other benefits black-eyed Susans have in nature. Found out that they provide food for small animals (I guess turkeys would fall in this category), pollinators, and birds. They provide nectar for butterflies. In nature, these flowers attract songbirds and butterflies.

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting....this is getting towards the end of the season now. So, mostly I'm getting a few tomatoes and marigolds. The garden didn't do as well as in past years.

I added nature journal pages about....nothing. I need to catch up with doing adding to my nature journal. I was doing well at the beginning of the year, and then stopped doing them.

I am reading...a variety of books now. However, nothing is focused on nature or wildlife. 

I am dreaming about…
cooler weather and leaves changing next month.

A photo I would like to share...
this is a butterfly that we raised last year. This year, despite having a ton of milkweed and seeing lots of monarchs, we didn't find one caterpillar to raise.

This is the first year in a long time that we haven't been able to watch this magical process up close. Maybe next year we'll find some caterpillars to raise.

Thank you to Barb the Outdoor Hour Challenge for the idea of doing an Outdoor Mom's Journal.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - September 6, 2017

1. When you think about your future what do you fear most? Hope for the most?

When I think about my future, I reflect on my parents and the struggles they had towards the end of their lives with Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, strokes, diabetes, and a heart attack. I think about the financial challenges that healthcare poses.

My parents on a trip to Pella, Iowa, during the tulip festival.
(Taken April 30, 2009.)

Fortunately, for them, my dad had a pension and both had enough savings to draw upon to cover their healthcare expenses. Had my mom lived even six months to a year longer, things could have been very different for her since at-home healthcare was quickly depleting her savings. I don't have nearly the resources or the pension that they had.

My hope lies in what I can do to make a positive impact on others - my family as well as those who I will never meet. Seeing Sophia and Olivia having hearts filled with a desire to help and serve others - that gives me an incredible sense of hope that they will continue our family's legacy of wanting to make a difference in this world.

2. September is National Chicken Month. How often is chicken on the menu at your house?

We eat chicken about once a week for dinners. Often times, there are leftovers so we'll have chicken for lunches too.

What's a favorite dish made with chicken?

When I was growing up, my mom made oven-fried chicken by putting some butter in a 9"x13" pan and melting it. She would dredge chicken pieces in liquid (milk or egg - I can't remember off-hand) and then roll them in crushed up potato chips. A healthier version is using corn flakes rather than chips.

Mom, Dad, Olivia, and Sophia having lunch together
at my parents' home.We weren't having chicken, 
but this was one of many meals we shared together.
(November 4, 2009.)

There are certainly fancier and better recipes that I've tried. This one brings back good memories of sitting together as a family having dinner, so that's why it's also a favorite recipe.

What's something you're a 'chicken' about doing or trying?

After adopting Sophia and Olivia I decided that aiming to get my private pilot's license wasn't worth it - even though I was very close to getting it.

When I was doing touch-and-go's one day (the last day that I ever flew in the pilot's seat), I had a bad landing that my flight instructor and I couldn't explain. The entire plane was shaking on impact and it was difficult to regain control of it.

This isn't the plane I was flying,
but it is similar in size to the one I flew.
Sophia and Olivia are next to this plane
at an airport show on September 8, 2007.

I asked how I could have handled it differently and why it would have occurred, he had no explanation or suggestions. I never flew after that, despite his encouragement to do so. I never wanted to go through a similar - or scarier - situation like that. 

3. What are three things you don't own but wish you did?

I'd like to own these things if money were no object:

- a fully-furnished art studio that would have multiple rooms for different types of creative arts. This would be something that we could all use plus - potentially - could be a source of income if we offered classes or studio rental time.

- a sauna to help relieve muscle and body pains.

- sensory equipment for both the girls to help them with sensory processing disorder including teen/adult-size items that provide what they need, but are multi-functional (e.g., hammock, hammock swing)

4. Would you rather be a jack of all trades or a master of one? Elaborate.  If you answered one, which one?

Being a jack of all trades would be more rewarding for me because I would be able to do a variety of things. My life would always be exciting because there's something different to do. Having the knowledge to do many things - even house repairs - would be satisfying for me. 

5. Ketchup or mustard? On what?

I use both ketchup and mustard on hamburgers, hotdogs, and brats when I occasionally eat them.

Olivia and I roasting hotdogs at Itasca State Park.
(Taken on September 5, 2012.)

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

We spent three days at the Minnesota State Fair last week so the girls could compete with their 4-H projects. Olivia earned a trip to the fair for her video "A Better World for Animals" and Sophia earned a trip for the website she created. Both won blue ribbons; and Sophia won a purple ribbon (grand champion).

The girls also did a joint judging for the 4-H club's One Stop Donation Drop - the big community pride project that was done in November 2016 that enefited 23 non-profit organizations.

We were able to spend one day at the fair on our own. No competing or having to oversee anyone else's schedule. It was great! One of the highlights was seeing beautiful kaleidoscopes of flowers and plants in the Ag-Hort building.

Sophia had the idea to use her iPhone to take photos of the images that were created as the flower pots were spun.  My images from my camera pale in comparison to what she was able to capture. 

Another fun thing we did that was also very relaxing was an aquamassage. You lay on a massage/chiropractic table and the top of the machine goes over you. There's a layer of thick plastic between you and the water. A powerful jet spray that is the width of your body goes from your neck to toes.

Needless to say, when we were done with the 15-minute massage, we were very relaxed and felt rejuvenated. It helped our feet and legs make it through the rest of the fair. We definitely will be doing this again next year at the fair!