Flowers for Mama – Wordless Wednesday

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When the Explorer, 6, returned from recess, he carried with him a surprise for me.  He presented me with a bouquet of fragrant wildflowers he’d picked from our yard.  😉

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“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Nutrition Nudge


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As the warm spring wind blows away winter’s cold, I’ve decided to make some changes around here.

Throughout our day we usually have two snack sessions: the first at about 10 a.m., and the second around 3 p.m.  As you can imagine, we get our share of processed foods.  For example, we usually have granola bars, pretzels, and any number of crackers plentiful in the cupboard.  Though I have no problem with our eating of snacks, I do think we eat too many processed foods during these times.

My children do like fruit. But too often, in the rush of our busy days, crackers or pretzels are what they go for. And the lonely fruit sits and rots, forgotten in the deep dark fridge.

I’ve come up with a possible solution: I’ve decided to make our 10 a.m. morning snack be a fruit snack.  I’m not talking about fruit juice or items that contain fruit ingredients, I’m talking about eating actual fruit – bananas, oranges, grapes, apples, etc.  Just simple, refreshing real fruit.

How am I going to get my children to go along with it?  Well, not in a extreme, pushy way.

In addition to suggesting a morning fruit snack, my plan is to set out freshly washed fruit around 9:45 a.m. With shiny fruit smiling at them in a bright, colorful bowl, what’s to stop them?

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If that doesn’t work, then I’ll move on to plan B – which will be to tell them they have to eat a piece of fruit sometime before they go to bed.  They may just take the fruit early, and get it over with.

For us, I think this is a change worth making.  Imagine how much of a positive impact it could have on their growth and development if they add in another piece of fruit each day over time.  My goal is to gently and welcomingly develop better eating habits in them.  Morning snack time seems like a great time to make sure fruit is included in their day. If I’m lucky, they may even carry the habit into adulthood.

 And do you know what I’ve noticed?  They often watch me to see what I’m snacking on.  Yes, I’ll be joining them in the morning fruit snack.  No excuses for me, either.  😉

How do you encourage healthier eating habits in your family?

Caught in a Blizzard

When we really want something, we are not easily deterred. We try everything we can think of to go over, under, or around obstacles. And when we want something bad enough, sometimes we’d rather join a caravan of denial than face the painful truth. Perhaps that is why I decided to attend a relative’s wedding this past weekend rather than let the threat of a blizzard blocking our path stop me.

I’d read an online weather report about possible bad weather near the location of the wedding. But hey, it was 70 degrees that day where I live, so whatever they were predicting – it couldn’t be that bad. I mean most big snowstorms don’t happen this early in the year. And how many times has the weather man overblown his predictions?!

I’d been looking forward to this wedding.  I’d pictured in my mind the groom on his big day with his new bride walking down the aisle.  I’d planned on a night of catching up with rarely seen family members.  I’d rewritten our homeschool plans to allow for a lighter schedule for traveling.  I’d booked hotel rooms and plotted our itinerary.  But that’s where it ended … mother nature had her own plans.

We’d made it quite a few miles down the road. There had been a little rain, but nothing serious. The kids had done their lessons, and I was feeling relieved the closer we got to our destination.  Yet I couldn’t help but notice something unusual: there were not many cars on what is normally a lively interstate.  The cows in the fields huddled together.  As we got within our final 60 miles, I began to notice eerie white sheets of freezing rain appear like fog misting around us.  The leaves on the few lonely trees along the increasingly silent road were beginning to rustle.  Over the next hill a giant flashing sign read that no travel was advised ahead.

We got off at the next exit.  While we gassed up, I spoke with some locals who warned me that others had gone ahead on that road only to end up disoriented and in the ditch.

We stopped and got a room.

From our hotel window, we watched as the weather conditions continued to deteriorate.  The snow was now coming down heavier and the wind was picking up.  About an hour later, the road that we’d arrived on was now closed ‘until further notice.’

During the middle of the night I awoke to the sound of harsh winds hitting the walls, and not long after, our electricity abruptly went out.

The next morning when we went to our continental breakfast by candlelight, I realized that some of the men and women who operate the road plows were also stranded with us in one of the worst blizzards I can remember.  I could tell from the stern looks and the serious tones that we would not be leaving the hotel that day.  And worse: the wedding was not going to happen.

For the next several days we hung out in our hotel.  At one point, the kids thought it would be great fun to go out and run around in the snow.  They tried it…and were back within 60 seconds.  The winds were so fierce that it was painful to even walk across the street to a convenience store to buy our daily, picked through junk food. The snow drifts had reached over seven feet high in some places.  Locations west of us were reporting up to 48 inches of snow.  We were caught in a blizzard.

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Card stacks designed by the Architect,8, in our hotel room.

In these types of situations, even though in the back of our minds we knew this could happen, we still feel a sense of loss. Our expectations (realistic or not) haven’t been met.  I felt so bad for the bride and groom, and I also grieved for our not being able to see them marry.

This is the time to focus on and be thankful for what we do have.  At least we did not keep going down the road and end up trapped in our car alone in a ditch.  We were stranded where we had shelter, food, and cell phones.  We had interesting conversations with others who also could not leave the area.

Eventually, the lights came back on.  We dug our cars out of snow caves. The wedding was rescheduled.

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The view from our hotel window: digging out after the blizzard.

We gained perspective in that sometimes things like this happen.  Life does not always go how we want it to; we have to make the best of whatever situation we’re given.

An Unfamiliar Path

When venturing down an unknown trail, there is always risk.  You don’t know what lies beyond.  You may encounter difficulties and dangers or you may find relaxation and enjoyment.  And when you are hiking in the Flatirons with four children, you prefer it be the latter.

Imagine: your morning journey begins by heading up a windy path into the aptly named Rocky Mountains.  You feel slight trepidation; you’ve never been up this way before.

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An Uphill Path

Further along you wade into rocky terrain that twists your ankles a bit.  The road becomes increasingly scattered with boulders as it steeps upward.  Because you have a husband and four children with you who are showing no signs of fatigue, you smile and keep moving.

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The Rocky Road

Eventually you reach the point where you can feel pain in your legs and thirst in your throat.  You pause, drink some water, and wait for a moment.  You wonder how you will get through this.  You speculate that hiking is a sport that should actually be trained for.

Just then you look up and notice something protruding from the side of the mountain.  There in front of you rests an outstretched tree root that resembles an arm.  With this ‘arm’ you pull yourself along this strenuous path.  You feel grateful and are now fascinated by this root that seems meant for you to notice.  Is this a helping arm from above – just when you needed it most?

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The Helping Arm

You trek along a bit further and notice that the path slope is gradually veering downward. You are overcome with delight and your legs are already feeling better.  You feel the warmth of your child’s hand in yours.  Did the sun just come out from behind the clouds?

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The Downhill Path

Finally, as you reach the end of the trail, you understand why you endured as you did.  You gaze out and behold breathtaking views.  You breathe in the crisp, mountain air.  You feel a gentle breeze brush your skin.  You braved the journey and feel fortunate you did not cross paths with a bear or mountain lion and that no other tragedy befell you.  You are glad you took the opportunity to embark upon this unfamiliar path.  Your family will remember this adventure for years to come.

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The Flatirons

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ~ William Shedd

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