Friday, January 31, 2014

Published 7:04 AM by with 12 comments

This Moment: A Month of Love Notes

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

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


A Month of Love Notes

Everyone gets bills and junk in their mailbox. How about a fun, free postcard? I'm going to send out one postcard every day during the month of February! So far, there are quite a few people on my list to send these postcards to around the United States (and a few overseas), but there are several extra that have not yet been assigned. If you'd like to receive one, send me your address through the contact box that you can find on the sidebar by scrolling down this page! I hope you do! 

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Published 1:10 PM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday: The Two Institutions That Control Your Child's Life

"...Out of the 168 hours in each week my children sleep 56. That leaves them 112 hours a week out of which to fashion a self."

Come join me at one of my other blogs, Life is the Teacher, for a very interesting quote about education!

A thoughtful quote can be the bridge that leads us farther
along the path of understanding ourselves and the world.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Published 2:20 PM by with 1 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Here is a varied selection of articles that I've found on my excursions around the web! I hope you enjoy them, or at least find them thought-provoking. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section, whether you agree or disagree. Today's links are all about cooking and what I've been making lately in my kitchen!

I have been experimenting for a few months with water kefir. It's non-dairy, which is great for dairy-sensitive folks like me, and tastes like sweet fizzy juice or soda when made just right! SUPER good. Of course, there are plenty of ways to mess it up, as I've found, so I've been frequenting this FAQ page as well.

Each of the cold-weather soups that I've made so far from this local magazine, Sauce, have been delicious. Try all six!

This is the best oatmeal I've ever had in my life. It's rich, creamy, and deliciously filling. We're going crazy with it here, and Harmony clears her bowl every morning.

Someday I'll make this, but two experiments in fermented food in one tiny apartment kitchen is too much for now.

This is the greatest quick, perfectly-sized cup-of-delight dessert EVER. Make it now. Right now.

Next on my list of things to make in my cast-iron skillet: whole-wheat biscuits!

This custard was last weekend's dessert. I will say that nobody except me liked it, unfortunately, but I thought it was tasty ; )

While mine is bought from a local herb store and not home-made, this great flu-preventative and immune system booster has been a big help with our health this winter. Definitely recommended!

Some people have been telling me I should try the paleo diet. While I try to make sure that my family eats a lot of unprocessed food, fresh food, and organic dairy and meat (not much else organic, I'm afraid, although with our nearby Aldi finally carrying organic products that will hopefully change), I'm not interested in going paleo, and here's why, by one of my favorite food authors, Michael Pollan.

Last but not least, here are tips about cooking with kids! It's been so fun having Harmony able to cook with me more and more as she gets older.

One of my successful kefir batches : ) 
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Published 8:23 AM by with 0 comment

Harmony's First Music CDs

When we ride in the car, the classical station is usually turned on, us being classical musicians and all since we were eight years old. Side note: YIKES I AM OLD. Moving on. Harmony can take about ten or fifteen minutes of this. The classical music, I mean. Soon she starts to whine. There's something about being strapped into a car seat, I guess, that makes her uninterested in listening to non-vocal music for long periods of time (a captive audience?). At home we generally keep the local classical station (or a similar Pandora channel) playing quite a bit, and she seems fine with it then. So I end up either singing to her or trying to find a station playing a (not inappropriate) song I can sing along to. If I sing, she's happy.

Or I'll put on a CD. But she doesn't like super loud music, hard rock, super fast music, or anything opera-like for more than about forty minutes. Yes, forty. I timed it on our last road trip. Chris and I like to sing along to the first half of Handel's Messiah or other things like that, in English or Latin, and Harmony will only stand it for a set amount of time. Heh.

Soooooo our CD choices are limited, considering that 90% of them are of classical music.

We have a few kid's CDs with nursery rhymes, but I tried those and almost went bonkers. I also vetoed any kid's stations on Pandora after trying that out. The only musical groups specifically for children that I have enjoyed so far are G.T. and the Halo Express and Rain for Roots, which we currently do not own (they are going on the wish list for Harmony's birthday!), so yeah. Oh, and the Wee Sing albums are great, but they're also going on the wish list.

Do you have any suggestions for other non-annoying, non-nasally-sounding, non-pull-your-hair-out-this-is-so-boring music for kids? I know there has to be more out there!

It was time to make mixed CDs of adult AND child acceptable songs where we can ALL sing along : )


Happy Harmony Mixed CD

The Wall ~ Kansas {Because epicness.}

Tom Sawyer ~ Rush {Because double epicness.}

The Fox ~ Nickel Creek {All kids love this fun folk song!}

Go Home, Girl! ~ Gaelic Storm {Chris likes singing this and playing his bodhran.}

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) ~ The Proclaimers {An old favorite of ours.}

Brave ~ Sarah Bareilles {I appreciate the message in the lyrics.}

This Good Day ~ Fernando Ortega {One of my favorite singers, and he's a great person! I knew him when I was a kid. This song never fails to put me in a better mood.}

Green and Blue Lady's Song* ~ ? {See below... help! It came on a mixed soundtrack from one of Chris's friends years ago, and we have no idea who it is.}

Wild Child ~ Enya {Who doesn't love Enya? Harmony is our wild child!}

Creation Song ~ Fernando Ortega {Another favorite.}

When You Come Back Down ~ Nickel Creek {I always melt when I hear this sweet song. I will be singing it to all my children as they grow up!}

The Neglected Garden ~ Cecile Corbel {The gorgeous theme song from the Miyazaki movie "The Secret World of Arrietty". Someday I'd love to have the entire soundtrack from this movie.}



Chillin' Harmony Mixed CD

Kisses from the Sky ~ The Green Children {My current favorite band.}

Sailor ~ The Green Children {Harmony's current favorite song; we sing it every day.}

Mourning Into Dancing ~ The Crossing (Celtic band)  {Beautiful Celtic melody and lyrics.}

Dream a Little Dream of Me ~ ? (not sure who the artist is here) {An old favorite first sung to me by a friend and musician at a concert years ago.}

Friendly Jas ~ Cool Hand Luke (band, not movie)  {A favorite since I was sixteen years old!}

Lord of Eternity ~ Fernando Ortega {One of my favorites that he performed in concert.}

Kite ~ Copeland {A special favorite that I used to sing to my sister when she was little.}

Staring Down the Stars ~ Nickel Creek {Beautiful melody, sweet words.}

Pilgrim ~ Enya {Love this one! Just have to finish memorizing all the words.}

Hide and Seek ~ Imogen Heap {Weird lyrics, but one of my favorite pop pieces of all time.}

Throwback to almost a year ago! Craziness!

*Please help me find out what song this is! Haven't had any success looking up lyrics on Google. Here are the lyrics of the first few verses and the chorus:

My cousin and his young bride left home a year ago
they sailed to Regal, England, for the little town of Norfolk
and found a thatched-roof home
now I get a post-card every month or so

They tell me it's endearing though it rains most every day
they're attending a cathedral built in 1528
and afternoons at three
they take a cup of tea or two

They write, "dear cousin, how are you,
is life exciting? what is new?"
"Well, last night I baked a cake."
What more can I say?

We're doin' fine here in lovely scenic Springfield, USA
Having quite a time here, in lovely scenic Springfield, USA


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Published 9:52 PM by with 10 comments

This Moment: The Idea Box

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

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





The Idea Box

My lovely friend Heather gave me the suggestion of having an Idea Box, a place to keep all the story, poem, novel, project, art, future, creative, musical, interactive, family, game, dream, and crazy ideas that my mind comes up with all the time. Rather than feeling pressured or worried that I'll forget an awesome idea that maybe I just don't have time for right now, I can jot it down on a notecard, date it, and keep it safe until I need it again! So I am re-purposing this cigar box that my husband brought home after it was going to be thrown away at his workplace (we do NOT condone smoking, but I admitted that the box was pretty cool) and keeping it in a corner of my desk for all those little lightbulb ideas that occasionally flash into my head : )  The first card went in today. Here's to many more in the moments and years to come!
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Published 8:41 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday: The #1 Reason Knitters Knit

"It is my considered belief that the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble. I think you could probably get a surprising number of the mothers of knitters to admit that they are grateful their child knits now (even if their child is forty-five, not four) because they know that their child's brains cause trouble without constant occupation and that knitting probably prevents arson, prison, theft, and certainly mischief. 

I think knitters just can't watch TV without doing something else. Knitters just can't wait in line, knitters just can't sit waiting at the doctor's office. Knitters need knitting to add a layer of interest to the world so that they can cope without adding a layer of interest in other, less constructive ways. I can tell you that if anyone in the world thinks of me as charming, calm, or productive, they should try me without my knitting."

~ Excerpt from Free-Range Knitter, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee


~ A weekly post sharing a selection from a book I am currently reading ~
 ~ Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section ~

A thoughtful quote can be the bridge that leads us farther
along the path of understanding ourselves and the world.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Published 8:12 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Here is a varied selection of articles that I've found on my excursions around the web! I hope you enjoy them, or at least find them thought-provoking. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section, whether you agree or disagree. Today's links are all about children and parenting!

"Dear mom who can't afford organic food, I hear you. I really do. And I do not judge you. You just keep on giving your babies the best food you can. Even if you don't eat organic, you can still eat real food - fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, meat that hasn't been processed. Cook from scratch. Use up all of your leftovers. Check those bargain bins for any reduced price organic foods. But, most of all, let go of that guilt that real food elitists may conjure up. Go in grace, mama. Go in grace."

Here are ten steps to encourage your child to become a creative artist!

As a knitter, I'm very excited for the day when my daughter (and any other sons and daughters I may eventually be blessed with) will be interested in learning how to knit. This article was very interesting, as it provides a different perspective on teaching a child the basic steps of handling yarn and knitting.

"I'm so thankful you took your daughter's phone away today!" the mother gushed, her children horrified. "Do you realize we never would have gotten to hang out or have dinner like this if that sleek little rectangle had remained affixed to her palm?" A story about the very real dangers of teen texting, and no, it doesn't involve texting while driving.

How to Stay Calm and Not Yell at Your Kids is definitely a post that I found very helpful!

Teachers get to see first-hand how stressed children are. Some of my music students come into their lessons barely able to focus on what they're playing because their minds are over-worked, under-rested, and stressed out about the million things they have to accomplish with school and life. It's sad. So here are ten ways to help raise your child as un-stressed as possible.

Check out this handy infographic to see what kind of access, time, and type of interactions children under eight have with media. I was definitely surprised.

One of the best articles listing ten true things about the first year of parenting that I've ever read!

Here are ten current psychology studies that every parent should know about. My favorites are "exercise boosts kids' school performance" (see, school board?! children DO need recess!!) and "siblings have no more in common in their personalities than two completely unrelated strangers".

Several friends have shared this article with me which outlines 7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep children from growing up.

Maybe I'm a bad person, but I laughed pretty hard at these parody Pinterest pictures of children dressed in designer clothes.

(source)

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Published 7:58 AM by with 15 comments

This Moment: A Little Edible Paint


{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. ~ Amanda

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



A Little Paint
{picture taken by grandma!}


*The paints were made with yogurt and Koolaide powder so that they were completely non-toxic, even though Harmony (nineteen months) never put any in her mouth. The colors were so bright and pretty : )

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Published 8:14 AM by with 2 comments

Thoughtful Thursday: It Frightened Me Because It Was So Beautiful

"When I first saw Sunday," said Syme slowly, "I only saw his back; and when I saw his back, I knew he was the worst man in the world. His neck and shoulders were brutal, like those of some apish god. His head had a stoop that was hardly human, like the stoop of an ox. In fact, I had at once the revolting fancy that this was not a man at all, but a beast dressed up in men's clothes....

... And then the queer thing happened. I had seen his back from the street, as he sat in the balcony. Then I entered the hotel, and coming round the other side of him, saw his face in the sunlight. His face frightened me, as it did everyone; but not because it was brutal, not because it was evil. On the contrary, it frightened me because it was so beautiful, because it was so good...

... It was like the face of some ancient archangel, judging justly after heroic wars. There was laughter in the eyes, and in the mouth honor and great sorrow. There was the same white hair, the same great, grey-clad shoulders that I had seen from behind. But when I saw him from behind I was certain he was an animal, and when I saw him in front I knew he was a god."

~ Excerpt from The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton



~ A weekly post sharing a selection from a book I am currently reading ~
 ~ Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section ~

A thoughtful quote can be the bridge that leads us farther
along the path of understanding ourselves and the world.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Published 8:49 AM by with 1 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Here is a varied selection of articles that I've found on my excursions around the web! I hope you enjoy them, or at least find them thought-provoking. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section, whether you agree or disagree. 

Here are one music student's eight lessons learned after the first few months of studying for his performance degree. Must read for any musician of any age or ability!

Some lessons are better unlearned; life will be better without them dragging you down. Here are ten of them!

I don't agree with everything in this article, but it has a lot of good points about why I'm not going to go see the new Disney movie, Frozen.

If you think that "those people" who visit a food pantry are somehow lesser because of their need, well, think again. Please read this article about giving compassion.

This guy found a box of otherworldly notes and drawings in the trash. WHOA.

So sad to see what is happening with the American Girl dolls. I never liked them when I was little (not one for playing with dolls much except for one special Cabbage Patch baby that I had since I was born) but my sister had one, and she loved it to death. I did like reading the books. However, with the turn that American Dolls are taking now, we'll probably not support their industry.

Teachers can be some of the most influential people in the world. Here's how one man honored his former teacher with an honest, beautifully-written letter.

After seventy-five years, Harvard has come out with the results of a study on what men need to live a happy life.

"Abstinence is unrealistic and old-fashioned." Do you believe that?

We'll end today's links with an incredible slide show of one artist's development over the course of twenty-five years! Awesome pictures.

(source)

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Published 9:45 AM by with 1 comment

A Home-School Manifesto

I'm over at one of my other blogs today, writing about a very personally dear subject: how to start a home-school group from scratch, and what our goals as a home-schooling family just beginning on this journey will be. Super excited to share this!

"As Christian, gentle parenting families with toddlers, what we really want is a group of like-minded folks who are in it for a place where people can build relationships, get to know each other and build community, celebrate holidays, offer support to each other, and let our kids play together like kids should at this young age. Simply, our desire is for a group that is more relationally-based instead of academically-based. As our children mature, we will begin considering various academic curricula and supplementary resources for them, yet still want to have the community of the home-school group, for many reasons."

Want to check out more? I also wrote a post about how we suddenly realized that we were ALREADY home-schooling, even though I had been saying that we were planning to home-school in the future.


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Friday, January 10, 2014

Published 7:25 AM by with 9 comments

This Moment: My Sister, The Alchemist

{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. ~ Amanda

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


Linking up with Soule Mama!

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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Published 8:14 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday: a Musical Tradition Grounded in Concealed Meanings

"Brunelleschi received approval to begin [work on the Florence Cathedral] in 1420. Workers labored fifteen years before the dome rose majestically 'above the skies, ample to cover with its shadow all the Tuscan people', in the words of Alberti. It was a magnificent achievement, matched by Guillaume Dufay's musical tribute, the motet Nuper rosarum flores... 

Dufay's music was equal to the occasion, though celebrants, swept away by what their eyes and ears perceived, might not have noticed the subtle connection between the church building and the sounds used to commemorate it. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the composer of Nuper rosarum flores had not merely written a beautiful piece, but had carefully calibrated the structure of his work to correspond to certain ancient proportions, used for centuries specifically for the construction of sacred spaces.

For Dufay, as for many composers before him, music was, in Leonardo da Vinci's phrase, 'the shaping of the invisible'. His approach to the motet sprang from from a medieval musical tradition grounded in concealed meanings. Composers often disguised liturgical melodies by stretching them beyond recognition, or shaped their musical forms through secret rhythmic patterns. Art thus hatched bespoke their view of the world as a place filled with puzzlement. Where does fire go when it's put out? How can the earth, with its tremendous heft, remain suspended in thin air? Though faith left no doubt of a divine purpose behind it all, life's fabric was nevertheless embedded with riddles, and medieval musicians used their art to imitate this state of affairs. They crafted works on a foundation of veiled principles, or seeded them with cryptic signs, so that beneath the surface of sound an imperceptible force of reason was always at work."

~ Excerpt from Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization, by Stuart Isacoff

~ A weekly post sharing a selection from a book I am currently reading ~
 ~ Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section ~

A thoughtful quote can be the bridge that leads us farther
along the path of understanding ourselves and the world.
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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Published 8:34 AM by with 2 comments

Wednesday Wanderings

Here is a varied selection of articles that I've found on my excursions around the web! I hope you enjoy them, or at least find them thought-provoking. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment section, whether you agree or disagree. 

"You can't teach creativity; all you can do is let it blossom, and it blossoms in play." I whole-heartedly agree with this author's statement that children are suffering a severe deficit of play, and that needs to change in our schools, our homes, and our culture.

Ever since reading this, I've finished off the rest of my tea collection and only purchased organic varieties (World Market just had a huge sale, so I stocked up). My sister and I drink tea every day, mostly herbal, so it was horrifying to read that our daily beverage might have more gross stuff in it than we knew!

During 2014 I plan to keep track of all the books I read. Check out seven reasons why everyone should be reading books! I mean, as if you needed more reasons to read ; )

There has been a noticeable positive change in my productivity and energy ever since I began following these ten unconventional habits to live distraction-less. Highly recommended!

Everyone falls into the comparison trap. Don't let comparison take away the joy of your own blessings and blessed life!

Many can recognize the famous first lines of classic books. But can you identify a novel by its FINAL line? Take the challenge here.

Pretty sure that musicians win the contest of "best insults for each other's work and appearance".

While "Jane Eyre" was a book that I did not enjoy reading, the lessons a 21st century woman can take away from its pages about living well are awesome.

Shopping local and patronizing mom-and-pop shops is more important than ever since Etsy announced that its future plans will be taking it away from the original goal of single, private distributors. So sad.

"What is it that you really want? Do you know anymore? Have you given up or have you just fallen asleep into a life that has carried you away to someplace you don't want to be? Perhaps it is time to have a good look in the mirror and see who is looking back." Wise words from a fellow artist and letter-writing correspondent, Rick Beerhorst.

For more of Rick's beautiful, thought-provoking artwork, check out his website here.
I love both his words and his work!

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Friday, January 03, 2014

Published 6:58 AM by with 12 comments

This Moment: The Tradition of the New Year's Day Coat

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

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




Modifying an idea I saw over at Rachel's blog, I will be taking a picture of Harmony in this coat every year on January 1st so we can see the progression of her growth and change. Someday she will fit into it, and when she turns eighteen, we will gift her the coat! It's a beautiful leather jacket which I found (for free) in one of the abandoned houses my stepfather was rehabilitating. 

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Published 5:04 PM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday: "I rather pride myself on my packing."

"I said I'd pack.

I rather pride myself on my packing. Packing is one of the many things that I feel I know more about than any other person living. (It surprises me myself, sometimes, how many of these subjects there are.) I impressed the fact upon George and Harris, and told them that they had better leave the whole matter entirely to me. They fell into the suggestion with a readiness that had something uncanny about it. George put on a pipe and spread himself over the easy-chair, and Harris cocked his legs upon the table and lit a cigar. 

This was hardly what I intended. What I had meant, of course, was, that I should boss the job, and that Harris and George should potter about under my directions, I pushing them aside every now and then with, 'Oh, you...!' 'Here, let me do it.' 'There you are, simple enough!' - really teaching them, as you might say. Their taking it in the way they did irritated me. There is nothing does irritate me more than seeing other people sitting about doing nothing when I'm working."

~ Excerpt from "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome

 ~ Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section ~

A thoughtful quote can be the bridge that leads us farther
along the path of understanding ourselves and the world.

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