Friday, March 29, 2013

Published 8:41 AM by with 0 comment

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining with Soule Mama on this Good Friday.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Published 7:49 AM by with 1 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Who better to teach us about inspiration than Dr. Who?

Want to be an autodidact? I bet you do. This article was written specifically for men (since it's from the blog "The Art of Manliness") but it applies to everyone, I think! Check out why you should become a life-long learner.

This is the best advice I've ever read on how to eat in the most healthy way possible. If you want to change your diet to eliminate junk food, lose weight, or just enjoy good food, then you will want to read this!

For you knitters out there, here is the most ADORABLE hat ever! What's that, you say? Free downloadable pattern?! Yes please!

As some of you may or may not know who read this blog, I have synesthesia. My synesthesia is associated with words/letters = colors, music = colors, people = colors, time/calendar = colors. As I've aged, the synesthetic responses have faded a little, so some things that used to be completely overwhelming as a child are a little easier to handle now, thankfully. If you're curious to know more about this interesting neurological condition, read this article from NPR. Then hop over to see what Vladimir Nabokov had to say about his experience as a synesthete.

I'm not sure what to think about this article called "The Touch-Screen Generation", which explores how the youngest children are growing up with instant access to immediate gratification games and "educational" apps on the iPad. What do you think?

Tolkien Day happened this week! Woohoo! If you're a die-hard fan of his, then take this quiz to see how well you know Tolkien's writing. It was more difficult than I thought!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Published 8:54 AM by with 0 comment

Daring Greatly, Even When I am Afraid

Compassion. Trust. Connection. Vulnerability.

These things can make us extremely uncomfortable. We all want to be treated with compassion, but giving compassion means being vulnerable on our part, being willing to step forward with open arms to those who are hurting. Having our arms open prevents us from putting up defenses. That's where vulnerability becomes important.


I first watched Brene Brown's TED talk on the power of vulnerability several years ago. It spoke volumes to me then, and it continues to give insight and wisdom to me now. Now I try to watch it every few months. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language-- it's from the Latin word "cor", meaning "heart"-- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart."

Do I live with my whole heart? Sometimes. But not often enough. I let fear, worry, and busyness get in my way. My life so far is riddled with mistakes where I shut down and shut people out.

"... you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff. Here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment. I don't want to feel these... You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable...  And it becomes this dangerous cycle."

At the hardest points in my life, I've tried to pretend that I was not sad, or afraid, or angry. That didn't work. It just covered up the awful feelings with layers of dirt, only to have them emerge later even bigger and uglier than before. You have to take the good and the bad in life and learn how to deal with them all.

"... as it turns out, we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly."

Oh so true. How I view myself will directly translate into how I treat others. But all of this, treating yourself with compassion, treating others with compassion, learning how to be vulnerable... if I didn't see myself as being worthy of any of it, then I wouldn't have any reason to give it to anyone else. 

Jesus said, "As my father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." If I am loved by Christ as much as he was loved by God the father, then that is truly being loved.

Jesus was an example of loving the lowest of the low, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the swindlers, the morally broken, the diseased, the downtrodden. He knew where his worth came from and he could freely give love to those around him because of it.

That's the way I want to be.

I want to freshly dare to be vulnerable, to love others because I am loved, to be compassionate because I have been shown great compassion, to dare to tell my story, to feel the good and the bad and learn from my mistakes and have gratitude for the blessings.

Join me?

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Published 9:04 AM by with 2 comments

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this cold Friday morning that wishes it was spring weather!

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Published 7:48 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Friday Finds will now become Wednesday Wanderings! On Wednesdays from now on, I'll post the various articles and links that I've found interesting throughout the previous week, and on Fridays I will only be posting my "This Moment" pictures. That way there won't be two posts on Friday. Enjoy!

I don't know how I feel about this, but one author believes that you can teach and assess creativity in students.

Remember the test which involves giving a very young child a marshmallow and telling them that if they wait to eat it for ten minutes then they can have another one? Now some scientists are saying that a child's chances of success are not based on willpower alone.

Here are eleven authors who absolutely adored cats. Look at Hemingway feeding his beloved feline at the breakfast table! Awwwwww.

This idea makes me want to run out to thrift stores and buy up tons of cute cups so I can make one right away! Teacup gardens would make great gifts.

Children all over the world play with toys. Some children just have more or less toys than others. Here are photos of children with their most prized possessions. More proof that kids don't need a lot to be happy!

"What would it look like if I pulled back on the proverbial throttle in order make space and create a different family culture? One that values creativity over efficiency. One that values exploration over end product. One that values the imagination of a child more than the opinion of others. The goal is not to create an environment where children have no limits, guidance, or direction. And it's not to perpetuate the modern myth that self-expression is the ultimate form (or goal) of creativity. Our children are children. They need their parents' help in understanding their place in the world." From "Confessions of a Helicopter Parent".

Feel like you're stuck in a brain rut? Are your mental gears getting rusty? Here are nine great ways to get your creative thinking going again! 

This recipe for home-made Cadbury Cream Eggs looks delicious. Just in time for Easter! Yummmmmmm.


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Monday, March 18, 2013

Published 12:08 PM by with 0 comment

Back from the Land of Bleh

It's a good thing that the majority of my blog posts are written in advance, or else nothing would have been published last week. On Monday, Harmony began barfing up a storm (lovely image, eh?) on the bed. The dreaded stomach flu had hit us at last. I've had too many students missing this month from the stomach bug to NOT eventually catch it.

As Harmony began feeling better on Wednesday, I came down with it. Misery ensued. My mom came over to help when it was at its worst. Then when I began taking my first shaky steps around the house  on Friday, Chris came home from work with a headache and an upset stomach. Round three.

Now it's Monday again. Chris is back at work again, Harmony is back to her cheerful self (except for the teething times), and I am SO SO THANKFUL to have this week off from teaching! Spring break could not have arrived at a more welcome time. My house desperately needs to be deep cleaned from the dust that has built up over the winter. I'm still catching up on laundry from last week's grossness. Bills need to be paid, paperwork caught up, meals planned now that we're eating again, make-up lessons for my students set up, and the never-ending pile of dishes should probably be washed at some point.

It feels like I lost a week. The past seven days were a blur of illness. We haven't been that sick in years.

Enough complaining... here are the bright spots of last week.

~ Chris and I caught up on past episodes of the show "Destination Truth" when we were on the couch recuperating. We are silly that way.

~ My neighbor gave us soup and cake and laundry detergent. She's cool that way.

~ Two Carolina wrens are building their home in a nesting basket that I hung up two years ago! It's so exciting to watch them!

~ Harmony is eating solid foods finally! Not just a bite and then refusing more, but she's asking for food when we eat meals, eating lots of bites, and happy about it. This is huge.

~ During the long hours of caring for a sick husband and baby, or lying prone in bed myself, I began outlining and developing in my head the story that I think will be my plot for NaNoWriMo this year! That's all I will say right now about it. I'm super loving the characters, who just kind of came up and introduced themselves to me. They feel real already. It was a good way for me to be creative even if it was all just in my head!

~ I formulated a plan on paper to get us all back on a good sleep schedule, do all the tasks necessary for this week off teaching, and start making better use of our time. It's tempting to sleep in with Harmony, or stay up late after she's asleep, but I really need to be wise with my time.

I hope everyone else has had a better weekend! We're walking slowly but surely now on the road to recovery. It will probably be a little while as I get caught up with life to start writing posts again.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Published 1:24 PM by with 0 comment

Friday Finds

Want to expand your horizons by taking university classes, but don't have the money or time to travel? Here is a list of 700 (that's right, SEVEN HUNDRED) free courses from great universities!

I am working on becoming a more patient person every day. In fact, pretty much every hour there is an opportunity for me to either lose my temper or to grow a bit more patient. Thanks be to God, I am slowly, slowly developing more patience, especially as a mother. This article about staying patient with your young children has really been helping me in this process.

P.G. Wodehouse's famous books about Jeeves and Wooster comprise one of my all-time favorite series. We even own the BBC television adaptation of the stories, which are hilarious! Now a new author is going to attempt to continue the adventures of Jeeves and Wooster by writing a new novel in the style of Wodehouse. We'll see how this goes...

Electricity, when it was first invented, was a pretty cool thing for everyone. But did you know that towers of light that were supposed to be imitation moons were set up in towns? Neither did I.

"The Internet and her friends have offered my daughter a lifeline to explore new interests that are not just about the resume and getting ahead of everyone else. In today's high-pressure climate for teens, the Internet is feeling more and more like one of the few havens they can find for the lessons that matter most." Do you agree with this author that teens know best about the internet?

The terrible tsunami in Japan had devastating effects on everyone living there. But here's how one group of elderly ladies rallied together and used knitting to keep going in the aftermath. I love stories that feature amazing women like these!

Disney and Pixar have lots of feisty heroines in their movies lately. Maybe it's time for an introverted heroine! What do you think?

Four children with voices already speaking in the world give their opinions about the future of education. I am intrigued with what they have to say.

Last but not least, I'm hosting a give-away on my blog! Do you know anyone who would like a pair of home-knit dolls? They would be happy to join a loving home!

Oh, and happy Ides of March ; ) 


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Published 10:49 AM by with 4 comments

Dudoza Give-Away!

Today I bring you my first give-away, in honor of the first day of spring!

These little ones have been sitting in my knitting basket for almost two years, ALMOST finished, needing just the final finishing touches to be complete. I was sad seeing them lying there, not being played with like they should be. So... this week I took a bit of time to finish the dolls, and here they are!

The pattern is called "Comfort Doll", or "Dudoza". I was given the pattern and taught how to knit it by my ninety year old friend, Teddy. She and other ladies knitted many of these dolls for charity organizations in the past. One year she, our friend Charlotte, and I created over sixty dolls to give away for Christmas! They are very easy to make, but take a little time if you want them to look nice and have individual touches, like the sewn mouth and eyes, braids, separate feet, different colors, etc.

Each doll is approximately seven inches tall. I love trying to knit each one in yarn combinations that are completely unique. They are both sturdy and ready for play!

Do you have a daughter? Or a niece, or nephew, or neighbor, or granddaughter, or friend's child? Perhaps they'd like to play with these "Dudoza"! If you'd like to win these dolls in the give-away, please enter by leaving a comment below and tell me what your favorite thing about springtime is! 

The winner will be chosen at random on the first day of spring, March 20th. Comments will be closed the night before, March 19th, at 8:00 p.m.  Only one entry per person, please.

P.S.  - I'm not worried if only a few people respond : )  And I can only send these dolls to people within the United States. However, if you'd like to share this give-away on your blog, then more people could have the opportunity to win these dolls, and that would be awesome! I don't want these little dolls to lie around my house unused any longer.
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Published 10:47 AM by with 2 comments

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

Come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining with Soule Mama today as I remember last weekend.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Published 6:26 AM by with 0 comment

When I Want to Quit Being a Teacher

Being a teacher is hard.

Some days I wonder whether being a teacher is worth it.

Other teachers have told me in the past, "Students come and go. Don't get used to having any one student around, because they could be there one week, and quit the next week. You're there to teach them how to play the guitar. That's all."

But no matter how hard I try to stay detached from my students, my heart doesn't cooperate, and it aches because I DO care about them, not just as students, but as people.

Today I'm writing from the heart at my other blog, Life is the Teacher. Want to join me there?
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Published 8:25 AM by with 1 comment

Do Children Have Too Much Access to Technology?

While my guitar students attend their lessons, the parents sit in the room most of the time, and often a sibling or two will also join us. The family watches the lesson while sitting in chairs against the wall as the students learn in front of them. Within the past few years, I've seen a new trend emerge: the majority of my students' siblings who come to their lessons, when they are not doing homework, are on their parents' (or their own) smart phones or a hand-held gaming device.

At first it was few and far between. But then EVERYONE started using them. The older ones use their personal smartphone to browse the web or check Facebook constantly or text their friends, even if their friends are sitting right next to them. I have even had problems with my teenage students attempting to check their phones surreptitiously behind their guitars during class!

The younger children play games on phones, sometimes for half an hour straight without looking up, or watch videos with headphones. Children as young as three or four demand their parent's phone as soon as they sit down at the guitar lesson. The phone is passed over and the child quickly clicks away to Angry Birds. I see this happen almost every day that I teach.

The occasional child will be working on a math sheet or writing out spelling words while their older brother or sister plucks away at "When the Saints Go Marching In". There are a few younger siblings who do stay attentive in the lesson; those are the children who usually end up starting guitar lessons as well, after their elder sibling has played for a few years. We also keep a shelf of books and magazines, a chalkboard and whiteboard to draw on, and a box of toys in the waiting room, which children are welcome to play with as they wait for the teacher to bring them back for their lesson.

Before you think that I am condemning anyone, let me say this: sometimes nothing will keep a child's attention except the instant gratification of a video screen. As the parent of a child who loves the colorful, fast-moving images of television at eight months old already, I do understand that there will be times when you just need your kid to PLEAAAASE be quiet and still for a little while! Perhaps the child may play on their parent's phone for twenty minutes at their sibling's lesson, then go home and play outside for two hours. I only see one tiny slice of a family's life during their busy week. So I'm not saying that parents are awful for allowing their child to use technology. Just in case anyone thought I was judging : )

I'm not about to forbid all electronics from my home either. If you deny a child something completely, then they often become entranced with it as the forbidden fruit, so instead we want to teach moderation and wisdom. We have a television, a computer, an iPad, an iPod, a radio, and cell phones in our home (no smart phones, just the basic call and text phone without internet). We all enjoy time to veg out in front of a good movie or listen to a TED talk online or browse the news on Google. I can chat with friends all over the world via Skype. Email and this blog connect me with lovely readers and writers and dreamers. Technology does great and wonderful things in our world today.

But Chris and I are making new efforts to use technology sparingly, so that our children will learn that while electronic devices are useful and fun, they don't need to be the focal point of our existence. We can go outside in nature. We can have conversations. We can go to a concert. We can play board games. We can meet a friend at the park. We can cook or play music on our instruments or dance or draw or read a book or play hide and seek or juggle... there are many fun things to do!

We all want balance in our lives. That is what we hope, and aspire, to achieve. We're not perfect, and technology is not evil, but perhaps if we look up more from the screen, then we will see more of real life.

What do you think? Do children have too much access to technology? 

Let me know what you think! I'd love to hear other responses!

Here is part two of "do children have too much access to technology".

Always be willing to rethink!

This post is part of the "Questions for You!" series.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

Published 7:25 AM by with 0 comment

Friday Finds

If you are one of those people who likes to munch on junk food (or sugary breakfast cereal) blissfully unaware of the politics in the food industry, bad ingredients, and grossness behind what you're enjoying, then don't read these nine surprising facts. When I was nine, I quit drinking all sodas for at least a year after reading about its negative affects on health. Not that I drink it a ton nowadays, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to cut it completely out of my diet again, right?

You know you want to look at this picture of Helen Keller meeting Charlie Chaplin. BOOM, awesomeness.

The more I read Madeline L'Engle's writings, the more I love her. Someday when I have way more time to sit down and read I want to find her Crosswick Journals and wallow around in her words. Here's a sample excerpt of L'Engle's thoughts: "I have to try, but I do not have to succeed. Following Christ has nothing to do with success. It has to do with love."

Ever gone back to read some of those high school classics, like "To Kill a Mockingbird", "The Great Gatsby", or "The Scarlet Letter"? Here are this guy's reasons to go back and re-read them.

Speaking of high school classics, did anyone have to suffer through read "Moby Dick"? I think I made it through the first chapter at most and then decided to read "Billy Budd" instead. Maybe it would have been more fascinating to me if I'd first read about Melville's meeting with the real life captain who helped inspire his story about the white whale.

Also speaking of high school classics, take a look at this interesting article describing how Jane Austen's novels stimulate your brain.

There's a new book that just came out called "Hacking Your Education" by Dale Stephens. He's the founder of, which helps those who wish to take charge of their education but not necessarily go to college. Dale believes that everyone should have the ability to create their own unique educational experience. Here are more details about the book, if you're interested!
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Published 7:24 AM by with 2 comments

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

Joining with Soule Mama on this beautifully warm Friday!

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Published 10:18 AM by with 2 comments

Homeschooling 101

Ever thought about home-schooling? Do you have questions about it? Or are you just curious about the perspective of a former home-schooler who is planning on home-schooling her kids?

Today I'm over at my other blog, Life Is the Teacher, talking about the basics of home-schooling, as seen in an article with hilarious pictures. Join me here!

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Published 6:00 AM by with 0 comment


What is NaNoWriMo? Anyone have a clue? Unless you're a contemplative writer, an aspiring author, or a nerdy person like me, you probably haven't heard of it before. It stands for "National Novel Writing Month". Last year, over 250,000 aspiring authors banned together to work on writing an entire novel during the month of November. 843 people succeeded in penning a book at least 50,000 words long!

Everyone who participated joined up on this website, which explains NaNoWriMo more thoroughly. What's the reward? Well... not much, usually. A few brilliants will have their edited works published later on. For most, though, the knowledge that they have accomplished writing an entire book is reward enough. Perhaps the book will be shared with a few friends and family. Or maybe personal development is the key goal. It certainly takes a lot of patience, endurance, creativity, and determination!

I've known about NaNoWriMo for several years. Each time the month of November rolled around, I was always too busy with life and other hobbies to think about writing a long novel. But this year... hmmm. Maybe it's time. I'd love to push myself to actually finish a story for once! I've started out writing down various stories quite often, only to get side-tracked or bored or lazy, and none of them have ever been completed. In order to finish the minimum requirement of 50,000 words, I'd have to write approximately 1,667 words per day, which is about three essays worth of material! That is an intimidating number already. My reasons to write would be simply to follow the journey, complete a life-time goal, and see where the story goes.

Creativity itself doesn't care at all about results - the only thing it craves is the process.  Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it.  Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence.  Love the work. - Elizabeth Gilbert

There are a few options as to what I could write. There are old story ideas, but they feel slow. Something new and exciting needs to happen. My dream about the people with two hearts has been rolling around my head for weeks, developing more characters and beginning to turn into a world of its own. This would probably be a youth or young adult novel.

The other idea is to write a story based on Chris's ancestors. He has been doing genealogical research lately, and has discovered some intriguing history about his long-ago relatives, too. There are stories of a rich accountant's daughter, who always wanted to be a teacher but was forbidden to because she was female, marrying a coal miner, despite her family's disapproval and her father's attempt to bribe her away with a diamond ring. Doesn't that sound interesting? Even though I couldn't find out all the details, of course, I'd love to take the true parts of the history and let a new story blossom from its roots.

So... am I crazy? Are these ideas lame? Is my writing lame? Could I make enough time in my daily life for a month to write a whole freaking novel? Am I dreaming out of my league? AM I CRAZY?

Those are the questions I have.

Anyone else crazy enough to try NaNoWriMo?
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Friday, March 01, 2013

Published 8:00 AM by with 0 comment

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

Linking up with Soule Mama on this once again snowy morning!
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Published 4:30 AM by with 0 comment

Friday Finds

I've thought about writing a novel for years now. As a teen, I thought that maybe I'd publish poetry someday, but really... my poetry isn't anything special. I would rather work on some of the stories that have been spinning in my head for so long. Stay tuned for more news about this next week! In the meantime, here are seven tips from Ernest Hemingway on how to write fiction.

It's easy to get caught up in the little annoyances of motherhood, like when Harmony refuses to eat solid foods even though she's nine months old, or wakes up every ten minutes at night, or flops around like a fish when I'm trying to change her diaper (I swear, this child is going to be a gymnast). But as this lovely woman reminded me, these moments are fleeting. "Because soon it will be time. Time to open my arms and let you go as you find your wings and soar."

Did you know that you can write yourself an email that will arrive in the future? This is so awesome. Try writing yourself a few encouraging, funny, or random emails that will arrive at a future date far away. Maybe you'll get it on a day when you really need cheering up!

There's been a lot of controversy in the news lately about the pope resigning. I generally try to stay away from political or incendiary religious topics, but a post about Benedict being history's greatest quitter made me think about this subject in a different, more positive light.

If you grew up with a skin color other than white, did you have any dolls who shared your ethnicity? Here's one woman's reasons for making sure that girls have dolls that reflect their heritage and appearance. She makes some interesting points. What do you think?

Ever hear of the term "spite house"? No? Probably a good thing. Here are examples of the crazy people who built spite houses.

Flashback Friday!

The date almost passed me by, but I just realized that it was this week three years ago when Chris proposed! We were at the botanical gardens on a chilly day, in the mediterranean greenhouse, and he surprised the life out of me. We have fond memories of the botanical gardens and go there as often as we can on the free days.

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