Monday, August 29, 2011

End of Summer Backyard Campout

Grilled pizza, and dessert on the BBQ:

Our version of a backyard bonfire

goofy giggles 
apple cinnamon pancakes for breakfast

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Favorite Infusions

Have you tried the infused water I wrote about?

My favorites: plunk a couple of strawberries (fresh is best, frozen works, too) in the water with some ice cubes; put in a few slices of cucumber; or the old stand-by, slices of lemon. Sometimes I make a pitcher to keep in the refrigerator, but usually, I just put the fruit (or cucumbers)straight in the water. Yummy, refreshing and healthy.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Some days I feel like one of those whirlygig sprinklers that spins and shoots out sprays of water that circle around-- all over the place but never really goes anywhere. Focus. Like I wrote about yesterday with the Pomodoro Technique, or like a straight stream of water from the end of the hose watering the potted plant, I need focus. Clarity.

A wise friend shared this with me:
Keep Your Attention
On Your Intention

  • When bowls of ice cream are passed out, is my intention to enjoy a yummy bowl of ice cream or to eat  wisely for nutrition and weight loss?

  • When the alarm goes off at 4:35, is my intention to relax and enjoy my pillow or get up, put on workout clothes, and exercise?

  • When the kids are noisy and demanding and irritating, is my intention to spend a quiet afternoon doing what I want to do, or is it to spend oodles of quality and quantity time in the short time we have left together?

  • When I want to lean toward grumpiness, discouragement and gloom, do  I remember my intention is to pay attention to the abundant blessings the Lord pours into my life and home - to be alert and grateful and in awe of the beauty surrounding me? Smile. Be cheerful.

  • When I lose focus and feel drained of any creative energy, my intention is to write. Everyday. Regardless of how I feel. Pick up the pen (or turn on the computer) and write.

My intention is to love the Lord, love my family and the home we are making together (no matter where it is), and to have a creative, encouraging influence on those around me. This is where I want my attention to be focused.

What are your intentions, how can you pay more attention to them?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tomatoes and Time

Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique for time management? Pomodoro is Italian for tomato. What do tomatoes and time have in common?

Nothing, really, except for the tomato shaped kitchen timer a young man had on his desk. As a student in Italy, he observed that his own study habits, and the study habits of those around him, were ineffective. He decided to challenge his abilities to concentrate and focus by using a simple, non-high-tech tool to get things done. His method is easy to learn, with supplies already at hand. Today, he teaches this technique world wide to individuals and groups, helping them to "eliminate the anxiety of time," and "enhance focus and concentration."

What is a Pomodoro?  Five basic steps:

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished
  2. Set the Pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (about 5 minutes)
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros, take a longer break
I don't have the nifty tomato timer, but obviously, any timer will work. The point is to focus on the task for 25 minutes.
                   "I'll run downstairs and get another cup of coffee."
                   "No, you will work until the timer goes off."
                   "Oh, I need to call [someone]."
                   "Jot down a note-to-self, get on with the 25 minute focus."
                   "I'll never get this finished."
                    "25 minutes. That's all. Keep working."

On the website, there are downloadable forms, ideas and techniques, and an e-book to read (all free). He has a method for becoming aware of your internal interruptions (like my cup of coffee) and a way to handle the external interruptions ("Mom, can you help me with this?"). By marking little boxes for each Pomodoro on your list, then checking them off as completed, the paper becomes a visual lesson in the accuracy of estimating how long a task will take, and a record of exactly how much time you have worked.
(image from Amazon)
This method works especially well for me when I am working to establish a new habit or with a tough task I am procrastinating. I can clearly see that [this] task took me three Pomodoros, when I only expected it to take one. Or, it alleviates the impact of an overwhelming job - just 25 minutes, just 25 minutes and focus for that long: not until the whole thing is done, just 25 minutes. The smaller time frame makes for a do-able session. Rather than the weight of organizing the whole kitchen, a bite sized piece is one or two cupboards, whatever will fit in 25 minutes. 

Next time you are facing a task you don't want to do (like that I-don't-even-know-what's-in-it cupboard), or have a new habit to start (like writing in a journal), set the Pomodoro for 25 minutes,
 and Get it Done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Roots Must Be Pruned

If you are a gardener, you are familiar with the term root pruning. Often, the pots you buy at the nursery are root bound. When you tip the plant out of its small container, the roots are visible on the outside of the soil, running around and around the pot, holding the soil firmly in shape.

If you don't prune the roots by cutting them with a knife or a sharp shovel, or by disentangling the roots with your fingers if they're not too tightly interwoven, the plant will never grow beyond its current size and strength. The roots of a  root bound plant will continue to grow in the known direction--in a tight circle.

I have seen this in pre-planted pots sold in the spring. They are a beautiful mix of flowers and colors that bloom prettily for awhile, but last only a short time. When the blooms die out, I pull out the plants to move them to a new location and find the exact shape of the nursery pot, the roots still conformed to the form of their first tiny container.

To encourage new growth, the roots must be sliced at intervals around the root ball in order to provide room for growth of new root hairs, the critical, fragile part of the root that soaks up the water and nutrients from the soil, transporting it to the plant to provide strength and health and growth and beauty.

When you divide perennials, the roots are also severely pruned. Depending on the plant and the type of root system it has (runners, tap root, bulbs, etc.) the division is done differently; but for each, the roots are cut back, returned to the soil and given room to spread and encourage new growth in the plant.

Some trees respond well to root pruning, a process involving a large tool dug into the ground to sever the roots at points around the tree - again, in order to encourage new, stronger growth.

My roots are being pruned. Being moved to a new location, a new home in September. The good news:

  • I have roots, and will continue to have roots, which will grow stronger through this pruning
  • The result of root pruning is increased productivity and fruitfulness
  • Newly cut, freshly replanted roots will provide abundant growth.  I do want rich, full growth rather than a limited, narrow, confined perspective
Although the sharp edge cutting through the roots seems painful and severe, the intended result is increased beauty and blessings. I am ready for the pruning.

Many opportunities for Traveling Lighter on the horizon.
Snug in their new home, ready for growth

Monday, August 22, 2011

Running Into Fear

Posted a new short story on today.
Click here to jump to the other post and read it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just Passing Through

"This world is not my home,
I'm just a-passin' through."
These words from an old gospel song ring true with me. No matter how attached I get to the four walls of a house, we end up moving. A home is not about location (no matter what the realtors say). What is a home? The people, the time spent as a family, the memories built within those walls.

 I spend too much time involved with the stuff that fills our walls, distracted from the far more important individuals who make up our home. What is all that stuff?

  • the couches, the chairs we sit on
  • the tables where we eat, learn, play games, sit and talk
  • the plates, silverware, bowls and cooking tools we use to prepare and share food together
  • the clothes we wear
  • the beds where we rest and relax
  • the paintings and photos that decorate our walls
  • the books we read and talk about
  • the computers we work at daily
  • and the many miscellaneous memory-making tools, home-making tools

Have you heard Carrie Underwood's song, Temporary Home?
click here to hear it.

Temporary Home Lyrics

Little boy, 6 years old
A little too used to bein' alone.
Another new mom and dad,another school,
Another house that'll never be home.
When people ask him how he likes this place...
He looks up and says, with a smile upon his face,

"This is my temporary home
It's not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where I'm going.
I'm not afraid because I know this is my
Temporary Home."

Young mom on her own.
She needs a little help, got nowhere to go.
She's lookin' for a job, lookin' for a way out,
Because a half-way house will never be a home.
At night she whispers to her baby girl,
"Someday we'll find our place here in this world."

"This is our temporary home.
It's not where we belong.
Windows and rooms that we're passin' through.
This is just a stop, on the way to where we're going.
I'm not afraid because I know this is our
Temporary Home."

Old man, hospital bed,
The room is filled with people he loves.
And he whispers don't cry for me,
I'll see you all someday.
He looks up and says, "I can see God's face."

"This is my temporary Home
It's not where I belong.
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through.
This was just a stop,on the way to where I'm going.
I'm not afraid because I know... this was
My temporary home."

This is our temporary home. 

...Just windows and rooms, that I'm passing through.
...Just a stop, on the way to where I'm going.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Week that Was(n't)

On our trip to Colorado, the family there was sick with colds/flu. Of course, those of us visiting caught it. This week back at home has been about Kleenex, coughing, cold medicine, Vitamin C, cough drops; trying to rest and recover. Very little energy for creativity this week.

I have been using some of the quiet time this week to plan for the soon-coming school year; re-reading my favorite dogeared copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion, Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning, by Karen Andreola. Love this book! If  I could have one homeschool book, this would be it. I bought it from a small bookstore years ago as we were shifting from an intense planned homeschool curriculum to an informal, relaxed, read a lot and enjoy life together type of agenda. The key word, the key reminder for me, is "gentle." Learning is not about pressure and performance, but about pleasant memories and relaxed time together, creating an atmosphere of learning: reading aloud, sharing nature discoveries, discussing historical and literary characters, developing skills in all of life. Even after twenty-nine years of home teaching (!), I have much to learn along with the kids, much to ponder along with them as we explore together.

Also this week, I am finishing another short story for "Running Into Fear" is about Shawna, a teen who loves to run, but has some fears to face head-on. I debated whether it should be "Running Into Fear," or "Running In To Fear" - is it she ran into the wall, or she ran in to the house? Mind games, word games, my head dizzy with fever and stuffiness. Is Shawna confronting her fears as if they were an object, some thing to fight, or are they something she has to assimilate and dissolve? Any grammarians out there with logical language advice?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

...Like No One is Listening

Some of you read Michael Hyatt's blog, Intentional Leadership; to you this quote will be familiar, but consider it a reminder rather than repetition. It is well worth repeating.

"Pray like no one's listening;
serve like no one's watching;
and give like no one's counting. 
Be God's best kept secret."

-Bob Goff

I love to think of a scene in heaven where those receiving the highest honors will be the unknown little old ladies from trailer parks who couldn't get out to go to church, but who prayed faithfully, loved deeply and served willingly within their limited circumstances. The heart is the key: the question, "Why do we do what we do?"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Colorado Photo Log

We drifted down this river in tubes...

until we came to sections like this. Then, the ride changed from floating to tumbling.
Russian Sage loves Colorado

Monday, August 8, 2011


A conversation between husband and wife (no specific names mentioned):

"I'm worried."

"What are you worried about?"

"Nothing, really, just worried, kind of overwhelmed."

"Must be something that's bothering you."

"No, when you worry, sometimes you just worry about having nothing to worry about."

"That doesn't make sense."

"Why does worry have to be logical? Worry is just worry."

"Then, I can't help you."

"That's OK. When I worry, I guess I feel like I'm doing something."

"That's crazy. You just get yourself more upset."

"There are always lots of 'what if' possibilities to think about."

"Possibilities which could be good things, too."

"But that wouldn't be worry."

"Hopeless," shaking his head.

Do you ever feel like you need to "do something" by worrying about [whatever]?
My blog friend Brooke used the term, "awful-izing." I can relate to that. And, as the wise husband said, why can't we focus on the good things that could happen, the fantastic possibilities?
Keep looking up! (I'm preaching to myself here...)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saying Grace Beyond 1,000

When I began writing out my list of one thousand gifts, one thousand things, small and large to be grateful for, I imagined reaching the thousand mark with a sense of accomplishment and completion. This week, I reached that mark, and found instead that it was one more signpost on the journey, a viewpoint, a vista overlook to stop and admire the scenery before continuing on.

This list is not completed, rather just beginning as I learn to take a moment, pause, and savor the cup of life brimming over with blessings and gifts – tiny things like the steam rising from my coffee, or huge things like job and relocation decisions.  I am still retyping the list, lost in cyberspace a few weeks ago, copying from the notebook where I have kept a duplicate hard copy list. (Click above on A Counting of One Thousand Gifts to see my list)

Even on days when my emotions are running rampant and the tears flow; when the day’s complications leave a storm of confusion and chaos; when the bustle hasn’t left many moments for contemplation, writing this list opens a door to the opportunity to pause, to recall the joys (interesting word: re-call, to call them up again, review them happily), and to face the challenging moments.

In Ann Voskamps’s book, One Thousand Gifts, she uses a word, eucharisteo.  Jesus, as He breaks the bread and says grace (eucharisteo), expresses gratefulness and gratitude for the sustenance of life. He also gives us a vivid illustration of Himself, broken and given as a blessing to us for the sustenance of our lives now and eternally. Writing this list, one thousand and beyond, causes me to pay attention, to be aware, to understand how many, many opportunities there are to “say grace” throughout the day.  Each time I jot down something I see or hear or appreciate, or, each item on the list that marks a difficult challenge, a tough lesson, a signpost has been placed. The view changes from  overwhelming dark clouds, to a cup brimful of blessings.  The grace, the light glows through the dark clouds and I find the peace in the pause of “saying grace.”

Monday, August 1, 2011


We're headed off to Colorado today, some of the eastern family gathering in the middle with some of the western family. All three grandkids (and one on the way) will be together - hooray!
Probably won't be posting much over the next week or so - according to our grandson, our days are fully scheduled with trips to the park, reading books, playing outside, showing us his new house, riding his times together.