Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A few things about bees and honey

1. This is a beekeeper. He's wearing a beekeeper's suit. It protects him from bee stings. I'll take his word for it. I do not want to test it myself!

2. A bee colony can contain up to 60,000 bees. The beekeeper is only wearing what looks to me to be nothing more than thin white coveralls. 60,000 bees!

3. I have taken a LOT of photos of bees...sans beekeeper's suit...I have been stung before...maybe I should try the suit!

4.  A single honey bee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

5. Bees can fly 15 miles an hour.

6. Children are fascinated with the process of harvesting honey!

7. Adults are just as fascinated as children!

8. The machine that removes the honey from the frame is called The Honey Extractor. When I say that in my head I use a mad scientist's voice! Prepare The Honey Extractor!

9. Children can hardly contain themselves as they wait to taste the honey that drains from The Honey Extractor! Yep, sounded like a mad scientist's voice in my head again and I added in an evil laugh this time!

10. A Queen Bee lays up to 1,500 eggs per day. I bet she's ready for school to start!

11. Children, who once refused to eat honey saying they did not like it even though they wouldn't try it, decide they really do like honey once they have participated in harvesting it!

12. My girls now say honey is sweet and delicious! I say, I told you so!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gotta love me

Miss Sofi Bug has one more year of middle school. She is an 8th grader this year. I can't believe it!

My baby has grown into a lovely young woman! sniff! It happened too fast!

The middle school years are not easy.

Young people, ages 11 to 14, begin the challenging time of trying to figure out who they are, where they fit in, and who they want to be, all while being bombarded by the world's view of what they should think, how they should act, and how quickly they should grow up. It can be overwhelming for them!

In an effort to manage this daunting time in life, Miss Sofi Bug has taken to asking a lot of questions. It's a very good thing, except when she asks questions I I smart...because when I tell her that she is pretty or smart, she often wonders if I'm just saying so because I'm her mom and I have to say yes.

Another question she has a tendency to ask is, "do you love me?"

Of course I always tell her that I love her very much. But I have begun to understand that she thinks I say I love her because, in this too, she believes I have to.

Several days ago Miss Sofi Bug made some silly mistake. She and I began to laugh at the situation, then she looked at me, smiled and said, " gotta love me!?" It was very cute and silly. However, I told her quite plainly that no, I don't gotta love you. Nothing can make parents love their children. Hopefully parents will love their children, but not all do. I told Miss Sofi Bug that I want to love her! I choose to love her. I will continue to choose each day to love her. It makes my heart happy to love her!

There will be times when she will disobey and there will be a need for consequences...I will choose to love! There will be times when her behavior disappoints me and I will redirect her...I will choose to love! There will be times when she will hurt my heart...I will choose to love! There will be many times she will make me happy and proud...I will choose to love!

At first Miss Sofi Bug was shocked. Without a doubt my response was in contradiction to what she believed about my love for her.

It was a couple of days later that I knew she understood my meaning. Miss Sofi Bug told me she loved me, not because she had to, but because she chose to.

I was so glad she understood. I was so happy she wanted me to know she understood. I was overcome with joy that my girl chose to love me too. I had no idea how much that would mean to me!

That my friends is when a teaching moment for my girl became a teaching moment for her mom.

Have I ever told you that one of my favorite things about being a parent is the many lessons parenting teaches me about my relationship with God? If not I should have! If I have, it's worth repeating!

It was in that moment with Miss Sofia that I had a greater understanding of God's desire for us to choose Him.

Though we sin, God chooses every day to love us. His love does not disregard our sin, but it is constantly extended to us with the offer of forgiveness.

Without question God wants our love. He doesn't need it mind you, He desires it. He desires to love us and be loved in return. Yes, much the same as I love my girls and long to be loved by them in return. Certainly, God could make us love Him. He is Almighty after all, and making us conform to His desires would take little effort. But forced love is not really love at all. 

I suspect that is why God does not reveal Himself to us the way we think He should. Who could resist Him if He did? Instead He has revealed Himself in all of creation, in our relationships with others...though our relationships are imperfect...and through His Holy Word. He then allows us to Him, or not. It is our choice.

A love that one freely chooses to give, that is awesome! That love is precious!

God has given us our own free will. He will not make us love Him, but make no mistake, He desires your love. It is precious to Him!


Friday, August 26, 2011

12 more days

I find that the last couple of weeks at the end of summer, right before school begins, are the most difficult weeks of the year.

Summer has been grand!

But as we near it's finish line,

the girls, without meaning to, begin to snap at each other more often. They begin to grumble a little more. They find things to worry about a bit more easily. It's just symptoms of the excitement and  the anxiety of the impending start to a new school year, but it does begin to wear on me!

Days spent in the sun, watching the flowers grow, will be replaced with days spent in stuffy classrooms.

No more chasing frogs and praying mantises. Instead the girls will be running to the next class and searching for the right text book.

No more monkeying around! Time to straighten up and follow the teacher's directions!


That's right! Time to get back to business! And don't look at me like that! A good education is important!

However, we still have to make it through these last few days of summer that leave everyone udderly tense and crabby.

Clearly I am trying to use humor to cope! 

So, for 12 more days, we will all put happy faces!

When the girls leave for their first day of school, I will collapse on the couch and sleep all day...or cry because the house is too quiet!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glass beach, I think I love you

The other day I told the Husband that I wished I was hunting for sea glass.

It is one of the families favorite ways to pass the time when we visit the shores of Lake Superior.

We will spend hours searching the shores for small handfuls of the glass gems.

In case you're thinking, what in the world is sea glass, sea glass is pieces of broken glass that have been tumbled and smoothed by waves of water, sand and rocks, then deposited on the beach. 

It's like finding bits of treasure in the sand!

We've gathered quite the collection over the years!

I'm convinced that sipping a Starbucks Mocha increases my chances of finding the rare colors of sea glass like blue and orange!

That and I get to do two of my favorite things at once! YES!

Anyway, as I said, the other day I was telling the Husband that I wished I was hunting sea glass and he discovered photos of this beach and shared them with me. 

Just look at all of that sea glass! It's an amazing sight! No need to hunt for hours here! I could step out onto the beach and scoop up handfuls of sea glass! Oh joy!!

"Where is that?" I asked him.

"California." he said.

Pffft! So, needless to say I won't be scooping up handfuls of sea glass anytime soon. sigh! 

Oh how I want to see this beach that is appropriately named Glass Beach and scoop up handfuls of sea glass!

I want to oooo and ahhhh over each piece and every color!


Maybe one day I will get to visit Glass Beach. Until then I will enjoy my trips to the shores of Lake Superior, buy my mocha, which I am sure helps me find those rare colors of sea glass...maybe it would be even more helpful if I got extra large mocha...and I will try not to waste my time pining over Glass Beach, where I wouldn't even need the help of a Starbucks mocha to find the rare colors of sea glass!

Ho hum.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I become a very lazy cook in the summertime. Hence the lack of blog posts from the recipe files! 

When cooler temperatures set in and the Farmer's Market once again offers up a bountiful harvest of produce, that changes.

It is zucchini and yellow squash season and I couldn't wait any longer to make Ratatouille!

So what if, as the girls pointed out to me, Ratatouille is a fall kinda meal!

They wouldn't say the movie is only a fall kinda movie!

And I don't see why I have to wait for fall to make the meal! The produce is ready, I'm ready!

My Ratatouille, though I was inspired by the movie to make it, does not look a fancy as Remi's.

Isn't that lovely? 

Yeah, mine doesn't look like that. 

But it tastes as good as that looks!

In a dutch oven heat 1/3 cup olive oil over med-hi heat. Toss in 2 medium sized onions that have been chopped. Cook stirring occasionally until soft. About 5 minutes.

Add in 4 cloves of chopped garlic. Stirring, cook 1 minute. It will smell so good!!

Stir in 2 eggplants, 4-5 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash that have been cut into 1 inch cubes. (I skip the eggplant. My family doesn't like it.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add 3/4 cup water to dutch oven, cover, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring once.

Stir in 3 yellow and/or red peppers, chopped. Cover and simmer 5 more minutes.

It's so pretty! 

I really like that this recipe works in 5 minute increments, allowing the perfect amount of time to chop up the next ingredient. 

Stir in a 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low. Simmer, partially covered and stir often for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to simmer gently or your vegetables will get too mushy. Mushy veggies are not good!

Finally, remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup fresh basil.

I use a teaspoon of dried basil when I don't have any fresh on hand...still good!

There you have it...Ratatouille. Yum!

However, the family likes me to add roasted chicken to the Ratatouille, 

and serve it over fettucini!


Good stuff!!

And the girls thought I should wait for fall! bah!!


P.S. This recipe came from  Martha Stewart's Everyday Foods.

Thank you Martha Stewart!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pears, pears, pears

We revel in swimming in my parents pool on hot summer days!

While we swim, we watch their pear tree, which if you look in the left hand corner of this photo you can see hangs over the pool, bring forth an abundance of delicious fruit.

I begin to feel like a kid riding in a car on a long road trip this time of year because I begin to ask my parents incessantly, "are they ready yet? Are they ready now?" It is very difficult to wait for that first bite of crisp, perfectly tree ripened pear! YUM!

Finally this weekend, it was time! YAY!

The Husband and I pitched in to help pick some pears.

We were just trying to be helpful. It's not like we just wanted to get our hands on some of those wonderful pears! We did want some, but we would have helped whether we got some or not! But I am really, really glad my parents share!! 

We got a basket full!

The best pears...hello beautiful... 

will be eaten as one of our favorite afternoon snacks!

The pears that are bruised or blemished we will make into Country pear cake or tarts! I can't wait!

Pear harvesting time is very good! And now my parents won't have to hear, "Are they ready yet?" for at least 7 more months!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not how that was supposed to go

I began listening to talk radio when I became a stay-at-home mom. It kept me sane to hear adult conversations through long days full of baby noises and toddler talk!

I have continued to enjoy talk radio now that my girls are more grownup. Occasionally, they like to listen too.

Recently, I was listening while driving around accomplishing some errands. Because I was in and out of the car several times, I didn't catch the name of the person sharing his story on the radio, nor did I pay attention to what the radio program was. I would definitely give credit to the person if I had. I think he was very wise.

The speaker shared how he had begun to ask his sons, at bedtime, "how is your heart today? Are you happy, sad, did anything hurt your feelings today or bring you joy?"

I have always had little conversations with the girls before bedtime about their days, but I had never thought to ask, how is your heart. It sounded to me like a very wise and caring question and I decided that I was going to ask my girls how their hearts were that night.

Excited, and armed with this new question, that I was sure would allow me learn more about how the day affected my girls and what lessons, positive or negative, they took from it, I tucked Miss Emma Bean in bed, we prayed together, and I asked...

"How is your heart today honey?"

Miss Bean gave me an odd look, which I was okay with, this was an unexpected and slightly unusual question. I was still hopeful it would open the door to meaningful conversation about her life and how she was coping with what she thought was the good and bad of it.

Miss Bean stumbled a little with her response, saying, "my heart is happy...well, it was a little sad when Dad got mad at me tonight, but then it got happy again...why did you ask me that question?"

I explained to Miss Emma Bean how I had heard about a Dad who asked his kids the same question, and that I thought it was a good question to ask and that I care about her and wanted to ask her too.

I thought I gave a very good explanation and grinned broadly because I was sure she would feel sooo loved and before I could delve further into discussion about what made her happy and how she got in trouble and felt sad, she promptly said, "if you care so much, why haven't you ever asked me about my heart before!?"



I didn't know what to say! I could feel my brow pinching together in frustration as I thought about how to respond. This was not how the conversation was supposed to go! And a pinched brow is bad because the more often my brow pinches together the more likely it is that the creases it creates will be permanent!

And that is bad!!

Do you remember when you were a child and your Mother would tell you that if you kept making a goofy face, that one day your face would stay that way, and it never did stay that way? Well she meant after you turned 40!

With great effort I relaxed my brow and told Miss Emma Bean that it had never occurred to me to ask her about her heart until I heard the man on the radio talk about it and that I did care and always had and...

Here my friends is the point where I may have made a brilliant parental move, or I may have made a huge parental mistake! I suspect only time will tell.

...I said, "when was the last time you, Miss Bean, have ever asked how my heart is!?" I really couldn't believe I said it. I wondered immediately if it was a mistake! Yikes!!

My girl was thoughtful for a moment...

I love it when she's thoughtful! I think she looks lovely when she's thoughtful!

Her response was, "um...never I guess."

Yeeeaaaah! Okay so I didn't say that out loud, but I thought it!

That was the point when Miss Bean and I decided we would make a point of asking each other how our hearts were.

So, maybe the conversation did not go as I hoped it would. Parenting seldom goes the way we think it will! But maybe, it was exactly the conversation we needed to have. Now we both recognize the need to consider those we love and care about their hearts wellbeing. 

Mostly, I think it was good we had our little talk. I think. I hope!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lazy days of summer

Finally they have arrived! 

They are what I look forward to each summer, yet every year they are more illusive than I expect them to be.

The calendar becomes filled with camps and activities, all fun and good, yet obstacles to what I crave. Hence my excitement that they are finally here...the lazy days of summer!! YAY!!

The weather is wonderful, low humidity, gorgeous sunshine and refreshing breezes. The calendar is cleared of most activities! Excellent!

Now, to my frustration, I am struggling to settle into the blissfully slow pace! snort!

I feel the need to keep going and doing even though this is exactly what I longed for during those final count down to summer, school days.

So, though it's a struggle, I am going to try to follow the example of this little guy.

He calmly sits and soaks up the sunshine most of the day! I am going to soak up the sunshine! 

I am going to take time to watch the Praying Mantises that have been doing a great job of devouring the unwanted bugs in the garden!

Can you believe how much they have grown?

Hello Mantis!

My goal is to not hurry for anything, just like the tomatoes in the garden, that seem to be in no hurry to ripen! Okay, patience in this instance is going to be very difficult, but I am going to try!

I am going to stop and smell the Sweet Peas...that took forever to grow and bloom this year. Not that I am complaining, because until now I didn't have the time to enjoy them!

And the girls and I are finally going to sit at the kitchen table and make friendship bracelets from the embroidery floss I hurried to prepare for them earlier this summer, because I was sure they would have time to make bracelets.

We will throw open the kitchen window and allow the lovely breeze to carry in the wonderfully sweet fragrance of the Hosta, whose blooms are ready to burst open any moment, into the room! 

I will enjoy the slowness of these lazy days of summer and I will pretend that school will not begin again, in three short weeks!! sniff!!


Monday, August 15, 2011

One more

I decided I had to post one more blog about our trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The city has put a lot of work into revitalizing and beautifying the Down Town area and I couldn't resist sharing it with you!

There are a variety of fun shops to visit. Even the girls enjoy the Down Town shops! Although they didn't find any fun trinkets they wanted to purchase this visit, which was too bad because Papa had given them a little shopping money and they were eager to spend it.

The Down Town area also has a delightful array of sculptures to enjoy while you stroll along the streets.

There are plenty of wonderful restaurants as well, but we didn't stop in for a bite so I got nothin' to show as far as that goes. But if you're okay with taking my word for it, "they've got good eats!"

Anyway, there you have it, lots of good reasons to visit Sioux Falls. Of course for us the best reason to visit is the time we get to spend with the family and friends we miss, because they live there and we live here, in Minnesota.