With gratitude - pinning, pinning and more pinning

I guess we'll just have to continue my exercise in gratitude for awhile. I thought of many things I am grateful for each day in November and have since. Unfortunately, there isn't enough time in a day lately to get it all blogged!

A dear friend called one day and asked me if I'd heard of Pinterest. I hadn't! She said I should really check it out. So I did. I checked it out. I requested an invitation. I received said invitation. I spent hours pouring through pins. I became hooked. I may now be addicted!

Pinterest is an online visual scrapbook of the Internet. You can create boards to organize ideas for the home, DIY crafts/projects, clothes, jewelry, etc. Pictures accompany the ideas which are linked back to the original source, such as a blog. It's like your 'favorites' list in pictures. It's awesome!

If you haven't checked out Pinterest.com you really, really should.


With gratitude - my black piano

Day 11

I've written before about my black piano. That dear piano got a good dusting last evening. It was desperately needed, trust me!

Anyway it has been getting a bit more play time lately. I've been taking time to sit and play more. The holiday season and its wonderful music inspire me a bit more this time of year. Miss A has also been heading to the bench more and more often to plunk/play away. She even asks me occasionally to come and play a duet...ahhhh.

I'm also playing piano for church school again this year. I did this for many years in high school and started again when Miss A began her church school years. It's been a joy to play each morning. First, its a good excuse for me to play on occasion. Second, I feel like I'm contributing something. Third, there are few sounds better than a group of kids ages 3-8 singing, "May God bless you, may God keep you, may God bless and keep you, another year through." They sing that pretty much every week as a second verse to "Happy Birthday to You!" when we recognize all the kiddos who have celebrated their birthday that week.

I'm thankful that I learned to play piano. It has served me very well and provided a means of giving back for which I am very grateful.

With gratitude,

With gratitude - all about the lashes

Day 10

Way behind in blogging but I have been thankful every day! Today its all about mascara. I have tried ALOT of them. Most crumble or flake by noon. Then I happened upon this creation while on vacation awhile ago. I'm sure I kept it longer than it was supposed to be kept, but its finished up and my new tube arrived recently. The simple fact that I reordered means its fantastic! Don't be shocked...its not inexpensive...but actually using it up meant no money wasted trying other formulas.

Thank you Trish McEvoy for creating this wonder in a tube. I'm a bit in love!

Just for fun,


With gratitude - here's to health

Day 9

I find myself lately, more than ever, being thankful for my health and the health of my family. Perhaps it is because I've been following several friends and/or acquaintances who are battling various forms of cancer. Or a recent visit with a friend who shared a bit of what she's been going through. We concluded that if you don't have your health what really do you have?!?!?!! We all take so much for granted each day. Many would be so grateful to have our minor aches and pains. We have little to truly complain about. So I've returned (begrudgingly at first) to an exercise regime. I'm also trying to turn myself into a morning person in an effort to avoid all the excuses I can come up with to NOT get my workout in. This is not an easy task for someone who would much rather stay up til 2 a.m. working on a project or catching up on all things DVR'd!

So today I'm thankful for my health and that of those around me. I'm thankful for friends and/or acquaintances who are responding well to treatments and beginning to heal. Finally, I'm thankful for CaringBridge.org. Thank you for creating a place for families to share their journeys, receive support and prayers and remind us all of how precious life is! 

With gratitude,

With gratitude - ahhh for oolong

Day 8

I should probably be thankful for Diet Coke today but I'm on a mission to kick my habit. Water, water and more water needs to be on the menu. Plus I've been reading about all the health benefits of tea lately. So I have a container of tea in the kitchen which I hope to work my way through. It's a bit of an acquired taste to me so it may take some time (and sugar or honey) but I'll get there.

While at our local Caribou Coffee a couple of weeks ago I decided to try a Pomegranate Vanilla Oolong Latte. It sounds complicated but really its just DELICIOUS!!! My home version is pretty close and involves only steeping the 'sachets' in hot milk and adding a dash of vanilla extract.

Tea + skim milk = a healthier drink alternative for me
Never mind its getting cold in North Dakota so something warm is a little better tasting these days than the old stand-by Diet Coke. So today I'm thankful for a new drink that I love and is much healthier for me than DC. Sorry Coca-Cola!

With gratitude,

With gratitude - a friend's journey

Day 7

Pretend its Monday morning....

The girls are up and eating breakfast. I'm quickly checking my email...for really no good reason, just something I tend to glance at quickly. What I saw was a quick email from a special person who has been patiently waiting on news from Africa. The girls' first dance teacher has been/is Miss Jenny. She has done a fantastic job and is a wonderful teacher. She also happens to be a mom of two lovely ladies herself. Their family of 4 has been patiently awaiting word from Africa letting them know its time to come and get a sweet boy who will soon call their home his. Jenny has blogged about their journey here. As my girls say, "oh, he's so cute!" He is and I can only imagine the homecoming he will receive shortly.

So today (and on Monday..remember we're pretending here!) I'm thankful for all the hoops that were jumped through and all the paperwork completed so these friends can bring another family member home.

With gratitude,


With gratitude - time

Day 6

Today I'm thankful for time. It was the end of daylight savings time today which meant we got to set all the clocks back (I think I've gotten all of them!). Of course most of our household was up bright and early anyway but it meant we could lounge around a little longer before getting ready for church. It was so nice.

The time change had me looking and thinking about clocks today so here are a few visuals. All from Pottery Barn. I love most everything Pottery Barn!

Rustic Wood & Iron Clock
Side-Mounted Station Clock

Grand Hotel Clock
With gratitude,


With gratitude - a tree for fall

Day 5

I follow many blogs. They have become a good thing to scan through as I'm waiting at dance class, speech or after school pick-up. One of my favorites is petitelefant.com. Allison Czarnecki writes in a style I find fun to read. She also likes many of the same things I do, so its interesting. She posted a picture of her gratitude tree and I wanted to share a picture of ours.

This is our first year. I originally saw this idea a few weeks ago on Pinterest (its a really fun virtual bulletin board site that is ADDICTIVE!!!!!).

The girls are both contributing and its been interesting to see what they add to it. I was pleasantly surprised to see Miss A sitting at the island writing a couple of tags this afternoon. She added at least two because as she said, "I forgot to yesterday." We have so much to be thankful for. I'll share our list after Thanksgiving...it should be interesting.

With gratitude,

With gratitude - waves of grain

Day 4

Almost caught up!

Today I'm thankful for 'amber waves of grain'. I took this picture in August as the girls and I were making a quick trip out to visit Mr. M. He was busy combining the wheat. School was almost back in session which meant time together was limited for several reasons. I spent many hours riding with him before the girls came along and there was more time. Now our visits are shorter and the cab more cramped. However, the time is still precious.

The barn is in the yard of Mr. M's aunt and uncle's home which is also where his grandma lived for a time. It's old. The paint is chipped. I think it's beautiful.

The whole scene reminds me of how lucky I am to live where there are beautiful fields, spaces to roam, kind people and generations of families who have made it a special place to raise the next generation.

With gratitude,

With gratitude - my monkeys

Day 3

I'm behind...sorry. I vow to catch up though!

Today I'm thankful for my monkeys. I have two of them and they are beautiful, kind, funny and full of life. I can safely say I've smiled and laughed every one of the last 7 years plus about 5 weeks because of one or both of them.

Thank you girls for making life much more fun and interesting and challenging and occasionally frustrating. Even in the most difficult moments, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!

With gratitude,


With gratitude - holiday memories

Day 2

It was just Halloween. Our Can-Can Dancer and Jessie (from Toy Story 2 & 3) had a great time. They traveled the neighborhood with Mr. M and came back with two baskets full of candy and a little excess in a Target bag that also made the trip as "overflow" storage.

Just to clarify, the girls did NOT go trick-or-treating by themselves. They headed across the street just to visit one neighbor, came right back with treats in hand and I watched them the entire time from the front door. I happen to LOVE that they held hands as they headed off. **sigh**

I stayed at our house handing out candy to the ghosts and goblins that visited us. We also enjoyed another tradition which I'm thankful for. All the grandparents and a favorite uncle have been coming in for dinner on Halloween evening the last couple of years. Now that we have a child in school making the trip to visit everyone to trick-or-treat has become challenging. Thankfully they are willing to come to our house on Halloween evening, enjoy dinner together and get a peek at our trick-or-treaters. I hope we can continue this newly formed tradition for years and years to come.

With gratitude,


With gratitude - an annual tradition

Day 1

Well, its been a year since I last blogged about gratitude. Thanksgiving is just around the corner (where exactly has the time gone?!?!?!!!) and I'm ready to be more aware of the Wonderful Between once again. There is much of it if you are just looking and aware of your surroundings. You can look back to read posts from last year if you wish.

Today I'm thankful to be here again this year to do it again. I have even seen a few facebook status updates from friends noting what they are thankful for today. It is so fun to see and inspiring. They all put a smile on my face.

I'm busy thinking of ideas for posts and need to get some pictures downloaded. Stay tuned!!!

In the meantime...join my challenge...what are you thankful for today??? Comment here, change your facebook status, blog about it or just THINK about it. You don't have to make it public knowledge to be affected by the power this challenge will bring to you. Trust me, doing this for a month will change your perspective on the world and you'll notice the challenge following you until next November.

With gratitude,


Back to a routine

I loved every single, solitary minute of our mostly unscheduled summer. However, all good things must come to an end. For me, new good things will come soon. I'm determined to make it happen.
I'm going to recommit myself to exercise on a regular basis. While my clothes still fit I'm not feeling so 'in shape'. So back to that Physique 57 I've blogged about before. Let see how this goes.

My closet (and pretty much my entire house) has gotten away from me this summer. I've accumulated far too many things and its time to purge, give away and declutter my house. Once all that decluttering is done hopefully cleaning won't be quite such an epic undertaking. This one may prove me wrong but I'm hopeful.

Finally, I'm already thinking about what I'm grateful for. November is just around the corner and I'll be posting every day. Join me - you can cheat and start thinking about what your grateful for now. Trust me, its far easier than you think.

What are you most looking forward to as the fall begins?


Giveaway time!

The lovely Lisa Leonard is doing another giveaway. I had to share. Click here to check it out and comment for your chance to win. Good luck!

Thanks Lisa Leonard Designs!


This article recently caught my eye. It's definitely worth your time to read it. You will be inspired by a daughter's love. You will be inspired by an artist's giving spirit. Inspiring!

Image from Minneapolis Star Tribune

Click here to read the article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I hope you enjoy.


Minnesota Nice

Mr. M, the girls and I have had the pleasure of spending time at our lake place this summer. I bought a little plaque that now sits on a bookshelf there that reads, "Heaven is a little closer in a home on the water." I've come to believe that over this summer. There is something so peaceful about looking out over that water each morning and watching the moonlight dance across the gently rocking waves in the dark evenings of northern Minnesota.

A couple of weeks ago we finally had everything ready to put the boat in the water. So we loaded up and headed over to the nearest entry point. We pulled in and immediately saw 3 kayaks sitting on the landing. Mr. M got out of the pick-up and headed over to ask them to kindly move so we could get the boat put in. Conversation ensued and when the girls and I arrived on the scene he introduced us to Bowman, Max and Rob (David is also pictured at this link but I didn't see him).

Here they are!

Turns out these three were on Day 4 of their journey down the entire Mississippi River. I've heard of people doing this but never had I met any of them. These guys were from the South (Ole Miss and yes, ma'am) and very excited to hear that they may see some wolves on the next stretch of their journey. They gave us their card and the girls and I have been following their journey ever since.

They are challenging themselves in their "yaks" and raising funds for ICM in Oxford, Mississippi and The Gardere Community Christian School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The video on their homepage tells all about it.

Take a minute to check out their website here. You can also "like" their page on Facebook and get updates and GPS locations as they stop each day. They were planning on spending 60 days on this journey.

They are nearing the end of the "Minnesota" leg of their journey. Last week, while at the lake, I read this list on their blog and had to chuckle. It's always fun to read an outsiders view of my home state.

Top 10: Facts about Minnesota
10. “Minnesota Nice” is just as amazing, if not better than southern hospitality. On the reals.

9. Every, repeat EVERY Minnesotan who has a lawn facing the river keeps it manicured to perfection. Yes, everyone. It’s almost creepy.

8. Minnesota is the only state with portages. Thank the Lord.

7. If ever you are in a shortage of Christians, they all happen to reside in abundance in northern and central Minnesota. Take your pick.

6. Violent thunderstorms will appear out of a clear sky.

5. Ice fishing tournaments and snowmobile races do exist.

4. More marriages are ended here over fishing-related disputes than alcoholism.

3. It’s ‘you guys’ not ‘y’all’ and ‘soda’ not ‘coke’.

2. They actually care about the environment and really enjoy being outside thus their public parks are off the chain.

1. Indians, pow-wows, gatherings, totems, and talismans are all real and still exist today.

Perhaps you can even donate to help their causes. Or if you have friends in the areas they will be journeying through let them know. Spread the word!!!



Lisa Leonard has the most adorable creations! I just ordered a teacher's gift from her and always drool over her latest additions. Head to her website and comment to win a piece from her new summer line. So fun!

Who wouldn't want this???


Back seat conversation of the day

Today the girls and I were heading to a lunch playdate with good friends. On the way, while stopped at a red light, a dog was quietly leaning out a slightly open window to enjoy the sights and, I suppose, smells of summertime. I told the girls to look out Miss K's window and check him out. Here is the conversation that followed.

Miss A: Mom, when I grow up I'm going to have a little dog.

Me: Sure, Miss A. You sure can.

Miss K: I want to have a chicken.

Miss A and Me: What?!?!?!!??? (There were quickly a few chuckles too).

Miss K: A chicken. A little chick to cuddle.

In between chuckles, I did try to explain that while little chicks are cute and cuddly you would have a tough time trying to cuddle or even wrangle a grown-up chicken. Oh well, let her think what she wants. As with many three year-olds I'm sure her dreams will be completely different by tomorrow.


New project

I've had this great camera for a few years now. There have been a few opportunities and classes that have helped me figure out settings and what to do. They help me for a few days and/or weeks and then the camera gets put away for awhile. When I pull it out again I'm lost. VERY frustrating and all my fault!

So I recently came across Big Picture Classes online (I'm sure it was through a blog somewhere but I can't remember, sorry). I started with a couple of the free classes which were kind of fun and at least got me to use my camera on a regular basis. Now I'm taking one on photo editing. I have ALOT to learn and may always need a little catch-up session when I try to get a great picture. It's still fun to play and try to figure it out.

Here are a few of my pictures to inspire you to try something new.

Happy Learning!


The greatest show on earth

So perhaps it wasn't the greatest show on earth but what spring is complete without a circus. The entire family headed out in a mid-April snow shower a few weeks ago to see the Shrine Circus. Miss A had been talking about it all week. You see, local businesses donate money which allows local school children to see the circus free of charge. I remember the same happening when I was younger. After the circus we'd write a thank you note to the business. So, more than once, Miss K heard, "We're going to the circus because I got a free ticket. I'm sure you can get one too. So that means we only have to buy two tickets for Mom and Dad." How sweet!

Before you can find a seat at the circus you must first try on your clown nose...

...and get at least one big, fresh, pink vanilla-flavored cotton candy on a stick.

Miss K and I heard on the radio Friday morning that there would be dancing pigs. She was very excited by this. So as soon as we got there she was wondering where those dancing pigs were. Thankfully they showed up in the first act. All was well with the world. We also watched a hula-hooper, tightrope walkers, elephants, tigers, funny clowns, dogs and a woman shot out of a cannon across the room (which I later heard was the favorite act according to many kindergartners).

Intermission included a trip to the concession stand for snacks (in the interest of full discloser much...ok...most...of the first cotton candy was enjoyed by mom and dad.). Miss K choose a drumstick (no surprise to anyone who knows of her love of ice cream or her drumstick-habit at hockey games). Miss A wanted Nibs (which she recently called 'Niblets'...That made me chuckle).

The final stop before the 2nd intermission of the show had to be the 'toy stand'. This features several blow-up toys (an alien, a crayon, etc.), swords, wands and other light-up toys and a Dora themed paddle with attached ball for ping-pong practice I guess. We ended up with a wonderful light-up sword, the aforementioned Dora paddle toy and then another stop yielded 2 bubble guns which I think were more a choice of Mr. M than the kids.

A fun night all for a good cause. May you all find the circus when it comes to town. Enjoy!


Missed opportunity

I should have a picture to make this more interesting but I'm just going to write before the memory leaves me.

To set the scene...you are looking at a bedroom wall. On the wall is a wedding portrait of a handsome young man and his beautiful younger bride. (this is all tongue-in-cheek readers!)

Last week I spent some time cleaning and organizing our master bedroom. Miss K (3 1/2 years) was hanging out with me. She stopped to look at a wedding picture of Mr. M and me hanging on the wall. She asked if she was at the wedding (both of our girls love a good wedding!). I tried to explain to her that she was not, in fact, at our wedding because she hadn't been born yet. I think the concept was lost on her.

After hearing my explanation she turned away from me, slumped her shoulders and slowly lumbered a few steps forward. Then a little voiced, saddened by a lost opportunity to party, said, "Ahhhhh, I missed it." I think she probably muttered a few things under her breath too. Her little sometimes gruff, authoritative voice was sad, and perhaps more mad (or frustrated or bewildered or...) that she hadn't been taken to this obviously wonderful event.

I had to keep myself from chuckling.  


Charleston...more information

I was just catching up on a few blogs and came across this post on Charleston at domestic ease. Check it out here.

Makes me want to head back there sooner rather than later. ***sigh*** I may not have mentioned this before on the blog but after a day of walking around that fair city I let Mr. M know that some time in our distant future I wanted to rent one of the quaint row houses for a month or so and spend time getting to know every nook and cranny, museum, restaurant and cafe of this wonderful place. I kid you not I felt like I was walking around in some period movie for a week. Charming! Sweet! Beautiful! Click the link above...look at the pictures...I think you'll agree.


Fave Read

A few weeks ago the Book Fair came to Miss A's school. I had volunteered to help set-up so on that afternoon Miss K (my constant sidekick) and I went in to do our part. We set up books, moved tables, and put boxes away. Miss K charmed the librarians and was shown a great corner complete with stuffed animals and toys.

The Fair opened for business the following week so the girls and I had to stop and shop (what's not to love??? Beautiful, well-written books being sold to benefit the school. It's a win-win). It wasn't hard for either of them to find several books that were perfect for our collection. I'll admit I picked up a few myself, mostly for them but one for me.

On the top of a side bookshelf this caught my eye.

I guess the word, ordinary, and the subtitle, "A Mother's Memoir" were enough to make me think I may like it. I started to carry it around with me to dance class, speech sessions and the short wait at the end of the school day.

Katrina is a usual mom who decided things were getting too complicated. The process of self-discovery led her and her family to leave suburban life and find a quaint hilltop on which to rebuild a new life of simplicity. She also reminded me of how quickly kids grow up. Her two sons were entering and then finishing high school. Mine are just starting school but I know it will quickly be time for graduation...yikes!

I've been itching to clean out, organize and simplify our home in preparation for a fun summer. I've also started to think it would sure be easier to clean, keep things neat and organized if I just didn't have sooooo much stuff!

I also try to remind myself all the time that its really the everyday moments that I (and the girls) will probably remember instead of the big productions that we sometimes put all our effort into. I love the morning cuddles when our kindergartner wakes earlier than we do and we get a few minutes of quiet time. The toys, crayons, hand-drawn artwork and school papers that clutter my home now will someday be gone and I'll wonder why its so neat around here. Walking through every water puddle and pile of dirt is really not that big of a deal. Eating sometimes requires spilling on the floor and very sticky fingers. Learning to read is a process and a certain mother needs to remain patient even at the end of the day when all I would like is a few minutes of peace...a few minutes one way or the other won't really matter.

I'm grateful for whatever it was that drew me to this book. I've finished it now. I've already sorted through the office and taken a load of stuff to the church's rummage sale. There's more to be done but not so much that I can't enjoy a quiet, simple moment here and there. 


Maybe I'm doing alright

So today I spent a couple of hours organizing a very untidy office. We just finished tax preparation (yuck, ick, strong dislike!) so it was time to box up last year's paperwork and prep the file cabinet for this year's bills, invoices and other merriment.

Miss K likes spending some time in the basement in a closet that has become a storage place for toys that are 'rotated' through the second floor bedrooms and the main floor play-zone. At some point I can't take the chaos anymore and bring toys to this nice basement 'toy closet'.

Today my organizing buddy found a doll pack-and-play bed and immediately headed back up the stairs to retrieve her Bitty Baby and a little blanket. Soon it was nap time and baby was rocked back and forth until she quietly nodded off. The mobile even turned and played a little lullaby.

I was struck as Miss K played by how she cared for her doll and sweetly talked with her. Saying, "good night", "love you" and gently tucking her into bed or picking her up. Made me think for a fleeting moment that perhaps I'm doing alright at this mothering thing. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of moments to doubt my abilities, but for my little 3 1/2 year old sweetheart to be kind to her dolly means she learned that somewhere. It may not all have been learned from watching me but today I'm going to take a little bit of credit and plod on.


Something fun to do

For several years now I've had the opportunity to travel to an occasional conference with Mr. M. Since he's working I usually have a day or two on my own. There is always a wonderful group of wives looking for things to do. However, when I get away on these rare trips I'm happy to spend a few hours on my own as well. I think I've mentioned it before but its bliss to have only yourself to get ready, sit peacefully and watch the Today show in bed, order room service or shop.

We found ourselves in Washington DC a couple of years ago. I had just received a new camera for Christmas and really didn't know how to use it. I found a few books but I need hands-on training to figure things out. So while getting ready for our trip I looked at the Washington, D.C Convention & Visitor's Bureau's website. I found a link to Washington Photo Safari and checked it out. It sounded perfect...a walking tour of our country's capitol, a lesson on how to take great pictures and a guide with much more experience than me who could help me figure things out. So I signed up!

Dave was great and the time flew by. There were only 2 others in our group so we were able to ask any questions we had. We also got lots of first-hand knowledge and trivia about the city that I may not have gotten otherwise. There is something about the perspective of a local resident.

Fast forward to this past winter. We were heading to Charleston, South Carolina. I always search for "City X photo tour" when we're heading to a new place. Sure enough, a lovely woman in Charleston was doing the same thing. So I signed up!

This time I recruited a friend and fellow farmer's wife to tag along. We ended up being the only two members of the tour that morning and had a BLAST learning about the history of Charleston.

The beautiful ironwork that has become a signature of Charleston.

The beautiful gardens.

And this beautiful, mossy tree that was so charming to me.

The moral of this story is simply to check out what is offered locally. I highly recommend these photo tours. You get great pictures that YOU took. A local resident shows you the city and tells you the 'insider' information.
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