Monday, October 13, 2014

Follow This Link!


Art plans and assemblage project

Our unschooling friend Theresa has some pretty cool art history plans and projects for this homeschool year for her daughter.  They have been fun to follow and are hugely inspiring.  Do follow this link to see how the first project turned is pretty cool.

Here is the list of artists that they are planning to study this year:
  • Louise Nevelson
  • Marc Chagall
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Alexander Calder
  • August Rodin
  • F. Hundertwasser
  • Rene Magritte
  • Alberto Giacometti
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Leonardo DaVinci
Folk Art
  • Jean Debuffet*
  • Jerome Couelle*
  • Alexandro Farto*
  • Lisa Kokin*
  • Slinkachu*
  • Huichol Nierikas* (not an artist, a style of Mexican folk art)

Her second assemblage project is pretty cool....check it out!

See her Marc Chagall bulletin board here.  Clever idea, that board.

See her Rene Mangritte study ideas here.......I wonder how they turned out? Theresa?

Year End Pictures and Interviews

Wow!  What a great idea!  I wish I had seen this about 15 years ago. 

I am not sure how I ended up at Amber's blog.......but I really like it.  In this post, she shares how she takes photos, makes a list of what her kids accomplished in the past year, and "interviews" them, placing their responses on the pictures themselves.  Looks fabulous!  Do go see this.....and plan to be inspired.  :)

Apparently she gives credit to Sarah, who is often linked from TUAR, for this idea. See Sarah's End of Year blog post and prepare to be even more inspired........

Health & Fitness

Chocolate craving comes from total sensory pleasure

Yeah. We already know that chocolate is a necessary food group.  Right?

An excerpt from the article:

"It's difficult to tease apart which chemicals may be contributing to which psychological functions. There are over 500 chemicals in consumer chocolate products, so there's a lifetime of chemical analysis still to be done," says Prof Wilson.

His hunch is that the "almost seductive" texture of chocolate is as important as its ingredients.

Dr Barry Smith, director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at Birkbeck University of London, agrees.

He says the combination of the smoothness and creaminess of chocolate in the mouth, the sweetness of the taste - boosted by vanilla flavouring - and the smell of it before it even hits the taste buds make chocolate-eating a hugely pleasurable experience."

My Catholic Faith

Our Easter Mantel

Something to think about for next Easter.  I really like the idea of using chalkboard paint on that silver tray........and those cute little eggs.

Doctor keeps medical practice in line with Catholic teaching

This is so uplifting.  I am so glad to know about a Catholic doctor out there in the world, doing the right things.

You Were Not Made for Comfort…

This is a wonderful little nugget of a post reminding us:

“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” 

These are words of wisdom from Pope Benedict XVI. 

Take them to heart. 

Share them with your children and friends. 

Remember them during the big and especially, the little  sufferings.

And offer those sufferings up to God as a gift!

14 Ways for Dads to be Engaged with their Breastfed Babes

As a childbirth educator and obstetrics RN, for the last twenty-some years, I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that dad will feel left out if he doesn't get to feed the baby.

And this absolutely drives me crazy........if dad's were meant to feed the baby......well, he would be able to breastfeed.  But his body does not do that.  God, in His wisdom, has determined that the mother will be the primary source of nutrition for the baby.

Sometimes it's just the mom who is feeling guilty because she gets to hold the baby all of the time.....the dad isn't even interested.  And sometimes, the fathers, especially the young ones, are putting pressure on the mother to teach the baby to take a bottle as soon as possible so dad can have some of the fun. 

I teach over and over:  dads have many other ways that they can bond with baby....and to help make the wee one smarter simply by bonding in the unique ways that a dad has.

I tell them to avoid using the small baby tub that makes babies cry because they are cold and wet.......and put dad into a bathtub, submerge baby to who is usually happy to be floating in the womb-like warmth.......and now mom has four hands to bathe the slippery baby.  And after baby has been cleaned, dad and babe can stay longer in tub for bonding while mom gets a few well-earned moments to herself, even if it is just doing dishes.  :)

I love the advice on this blog post.......just might print it up for my clients to read.


Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These cookie bars look really yummy.  And easy.  Let's try them!!!  Willa, I bet Aidan would love to help you.....make them and eat them! 

Tips---Ingredient Substitutions

A Happy Home Life

10 Simple Things to Make You Happier at Home


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chari's 2013 Book List

Maybe I will just accept that I will always be late in getting my yearly book lists posted.....

2013 Book List

       So, this was a bit of a rough year for me, with regards to reading.  This may well be the least amount of books I have read or heard in a year.......EVER in my entire life.  And I did not even finish everything on this list.....yet. I am only including those books because they are so long.....they will be on both 2013 and 2014......poor me.  Got a full-time job........and everything else added up to little ability to focus.  To read a whole book, that is.  I am still reading lots.  It just happens to be online articles, mostly.

      I am doing things to resolve this problem, or at least to improve the quantity, while keeping my preferred quality.  I listen to books while walking.  I have been taking a tub instead of a shower......and taking a book with me.......getting a bit more reading done in this way......and I think I need to let go of reading heavy books or classics for awhile.  I think I might make a focus on getting more classics read through my walks (listening) and spend time reading books more recently written (think lighter fare).  I am hoping this will help.

      Did I say I think this was probably the shortest list EVER in my life?  Yeah.  That bad.

 Here we go..........

Elaine Brown

     I chose this book to read because my dear cousin-in-law Deborah came for a visit......and she brought it along.  It looked like it would be worth the effort. It is the story of three sisters, and their of which, their father, is a college professor whose expertise lies in Shakespeare.  In fact, all three of the daughters are named for Shakespeare characters. It basically follows a time in their lives when the three sisters come home at the same time, as adults........just as their mom begins treatment for breast cancer.  It was not a great book, just okay.  It was enjoyable enough because of the Shakespeare references and the fact that it was three sisters, as I am the oldest of three sisters......but otherwise, spend your time reading better books. Though, it is good enough for a quickie fluff book for the tub time.

Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
       Sooooo........I loved reading this book.  I loved learning about the brain science behind habits.  I read in the Amazon reviews that some people were disappointed that the author did not then provide advice on how to improve your habits, but really, I think understanding the science is helpful enough to get started.  Besides, I am not sure it was even the author's intention to tell you specifically how to improve your life by changing your habits, but I think there is plenty of indirect help available in the book.  All of that being said, it was all the science of the brain in the book that was the best part. I found it all so fascinating.  It provided plenty of conversational points for Willa and I.  There is a part that gets less fascinating when the author focuses on businesses and peoples' habits, but it was still quite interesting, to me. So, if you want a good non-fiction to read, I do highly recommend this book. 


      My motivation for reading this book for the second time in my life.......was to pre-read it before I saw the movie.  I am so glad that I did.  I read many of the classics as a teen......and I always wonder what my adult-self will think of them.  I have re-read many of them......even though I do not prefer the re-reading of books in general.  Anyway.......I actually did not find my reaction to the story had changed much over the years.  It was pretty much as I remembered it all these years.  It is a well-written story.  I disagree with those that say the main point of the story is about how a life of opulence brings unhappiness and often ruin.  I really think the crux of the story is really just about the mental health of Gatsby.  That other stuff about opulence is just a slight side story, in my opinion. It is fine story-telling, unhappy conclusion.  It shows that dumb decisions that you make early in life can really ruin your overall life happiness. As for viewing the movie after reading the book......I found that they did a better-than-expected rendition of the book.  Of course I did not like the subtle changes from the story......but overall, it was a good enough movie.

George MacDonald
via Librivox
I found this on Librivox.  It is only the second George MacDonald work I have heard, the Princess and the Goblin being the first.  I very much enjoyed this story.....though it went in way more directions than I ever could have imagined.  Mary Marston is a wonderful and noble character.  I very much enjoyed that.  Highly recommend for reading or listening.

by Jane Austen via Librivox

 Not sure how many times I have read or listened to P&P, but it was time again!  All I am going to say is that it is great fun to read/hear very single time.  If YOU have not yet read this book.....please get on it!  (I am well aware that not every book that is pleasing to most is pleasing to all.....I get that.  You would then be off the hook.....if you tried the first 100 pages and it just did not do it for you.  :) )
I believe that Willa just re-read it again.  I posted about a Jane Austen Book Club happening this year. Should be fun to follow from the perspectives of mothering!
P&P is the first book up in the Club.

via Librivox

 Again, just looking for something stimulating to listen to while I walked for exercise, and at the same time to enrich my life with classic literature.  This was the first Sayers work for me.  It was great fun to follow the mystery.  I will probably look for more to listen to.......though I may not be as interested in sitting down and reading a hard copy, at this time.
via Librivox 

 I say it cannot go wrong with Wodehouse.  This novel was just as fun as all the others I have read or listened to......excellent company for exercise.  Highly recommend.


Nicholas Sparks
So......every once in awhile I read a Nicholas Sparks novel......not even sure why.  He is not a very good writer, in general.  Just fair, in my not so humble opinion. His stories rarely have the happy ending that we all like.......that is so very annoying! brain has not been up to the higher quality literature that I usually prefer. So, when I was at the library, looking for a DVD to watch, I saw this movie on the shelf.  When I realized it was Sparks, I decided to read the book first, then watch the movie. I still have not watched the movie, but it looks like they take some of the details out of the movie.  Anyway......the story was okay, the writing okay, no happy ending.  But, it was decent enough for a quick bath read. Only worth a read if it is the only thing you have on hand.  Even his other books are better than this one.....


Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I first saw this novel in the hands of one of my patient's visitors.  She was telling my patient why she should read it.  I was intrigued.....and many months later I ordered it from the library.  It was definitely enjoyable.  It follows the story of a young woman who was raised in the California foster care system.....both her childhood story and her present young adulthood story, each story weaving back and forth: first the present, then the past, and back to the present again....and so on.  The transitions between the past and the present work well. Your heart will break and you will cheer her on...and then it will break again.....and you will be mad at her for some of her decisions.  But in the was a read worth having.  I definitely enjoyed it. This was a debut novel from a woman who has raised foster kids......I think she does a fine job of recognizing the emotions that a real-life young adult might be going through. Oh!  And I almost forgot......the story also focuses on what the meanings of flowers are....and that is just fun, too!  It adds a nice dimension.
Below, you find the books that I read 30-50% or more of in 2013......I am still working on them now......some of these books are tomes (think Dickens), and the reason behind some of my inability to finish much this year.......
Deborah Tannen

 Worth a read........about adult daughters and their moms. 
Probably a good time to read this would be when your girls are to identify those less than positive communication habits we can fall into......
and also help to improve your communication skills with your own mom.
Charles Dickens
In my desire to read more Dickens so I could be more well-read, I somehow found myself reading/listening to two of the really long ones at one time. What was I thinking?
David Copperfield
by Charles Dickens
via first time through.  Excited, though!
First edition dust jacket cover 1930
 Reading aloud to Malachy.  Yeah, its my first time through.

Speaks for itself.  A read aloud to my youngest.
My umpteenth time through it....

John Kralik
A good & quick read for a new year.
Autumnal Blessings,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Fourth of July Nature Walk


      Every day that I am not at work, I try to get a four mile walk in for exercise.  Since I live where I do.........this walk is almost always also a nature walk.  On the Fourth of July, my oldest daughter and I headed up early to the lake, where we planned to watch the fireworks later. And that's where we took our walk on that day.

     We walked a part of the trail that I had not yet traversed;  around every turn was a gorgeous view.  I probably snapped twice as many pictures as I have published here. It was a lovely day: perfect temperature, perfect setting, wonderful company.

















    End of Summer Blessings,

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thankfulness Times Ten

 Today's Thankfulness theme is what is going on in my life this day.....

( when I originally wrote it a week ago..... :)  )

Thankfulness Times Ten

Here are the guidelines I have for this thankfulness theme……

Just find ten things I am thankful for, in the moment. I have no rules...I may go over ten, if I cannot help myself......I may repeat myself.....and, I will write in no particular order of importance. If you feel inspired to do the link yourself here in the comment section.  All of these will go toward my own 1,000 Gifts.

As I go through my days, I keep thinking of my gratitude in, ten items of gratefulness for each member of my family, when I look out my window, while I am on my exercise walk.......etc., etc., etc. 

I am thankful for......

71. .......returning to my latest "new" happy place. That special spot on the river. And where I sit now to write this post. 

The view before me.....

The view to the left.....

And the view to the right.......


Sigh of gratefulness.


72.  .........the relationships between my own children and the children of my best friend. The other best friend. The youngest six of her seven have always had us in their lives. And the youngest of my six, the same. They have grown up together and are as close as siblings. We are so blessed. They just love each other's company.

I found seven of them sitting on the couch together the other morning when I first awakened.......such a sweet surprise. 
Only one of these is mine.....and I love how he is surrounded by her three youngest.


73. ..........a new educational plan for my youngest. One of my other best going to include my little guy in her home this year as she homeschools her daughter in the same grade. Hopefully this will work out well for all involved. He has known her two kids since their births.....practically as siblings. And he looks like the oldest one, too. They are mistaken for siblings often.

Here they are......homeschooling themselves this summer.......  :)


74. .........hamburgers. I just love good hamburgers. So simple. So yummy. We are having hamburgers for dinner tonight. Yum. My oldest boy will be making them. Yum.


75. .........a day with low amount of smoke. California is extremely dry. Like a tinder box. And like every summer, those dry lightning storms start fires. Only this's too dry. Our little valley has been smoky for over a week due to being surrounded by fires in all directions.


76. ........for firefighters. They put their lives at risk to protect us. I am grateful for that. And I always keep them in my prayers. 

77. ..........naps. Maybe it is the full-time job, but in this last year I have napped so much better than ever before. I also need more naps. Probably because of the job. My friend Micki who passed away in January loved her naps. Every time I think about how much I love my naps, I think of her. I miss her.

78. who beg me to stop by the store on the way home from the river so they can buy ME some ice cream. 

79. .........friends who can walk my four miles with me when they come to visit. Willa does it. And the other BFF, Gloria, does. That is who I am walking with this week. And probably some of next week when I go to San Francisco for a visit. Nice quality time while keeping fit. Sooooo enjoy their conversation.  So much so......that when they are not with me, I call them so they can keep me company when I walk. :)

80. ........chapstick.  I need it. I don't have very dry lips. I just don't like my lips dry. I have a Burt's Bees in every bag. Every coat pocket. Each of my cars. I even take on my walks and carry in my pocket at work. 

And that's it for now......

San Francisco Summer blessings to you,


P.S.  Research shows that folks who use journaling to write what they are thankful for...instead of just a place to vent, find their lives are more happy, more satisfying.  Let's go there!





Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Little Miss M is Home!!!

My sweet little nineteen year old darling Miss Maddelyn
has returned from her year-long youth exchange in the country of Slovakia.
Maddelyn arrived at the Southern Oregon airport on July 8th.
Two sisters, one brother, one mama and one BFF met her at the airport.
The rest stayed behind to prepare a party for the girl who had been awake for about 48 hours.
Here is a photo-montage of the first meet'n'greet........
Maddelyn in the middle of the two middles....Sarah & Garrett....the two she falls in the middle of......

All the luggage she had to drag through several airports on her own. 
Each bag weighs in at 50#.....and she is barely 5-foot-tall.  :)


Her BFF since birth, Tallulah, drove over from Reno to surprise her.

Little brother Garrett, about one foot taller.  :)
These two are closest in age......22 months.
They were tandem-nursed.
Oh, so long ago........sigh.



Typical Bryan Kid behavior.....dancing in public.  :)

You know that we were the last ones in the airport.......

Miss Maddelyn & her oldest sister, Anne.....matching temperaments.


Three sisters back together again. 
But it was only for a couple of days.
SO BLESSED to have our wee lass home again.
Alas, it is only starts in mid-August. More sighing.
Mid-Summer Blessings,
PS  While I finish this post, I can hear Miss M conversing in Slovak with her host mother, on Skype.  :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thankfulness Times Ten

 Today's Thankfulness theme is what is going on in my life this day.....

( when I originally wrote it two weeks ago..... :)  )

Thankfulness Times Ten

Here are the guidelines I have for this thankfulness theme……

Just find ten things I am thankful for, in the moment. I have no rules...I may go over ten, if I cannot help myself......I may repeat myself.....and, I will write in no particular order of importance. If you feel inspired to do the link yourself here in the comment section.  All of these will go toward my own 1,000 Gifts.

As I go through my days, I keep thinking of my gratitude in, ten items of gratefulness for each member of my family, when I look out my window, while I am on my exercise walk.......etc., etc., etc. 

I am thankful for......

61.........for finding a new "Happy Place"   My boys talked me into going to The River with them. I can't believe I have lived here 25 years and this was the first time I have been here! Actually, I am writing this blog post from my beach chair. :) It is so nice and beautiful here. I love it! 


This is elephant palm

The only flower I saw that day.

This is The Sacramento River.  One of the two most important rivers on California. Well, the other is "just" an aqueduct. So this is the most important river in California. And it's headwaters are in my little town. 

My oldest boy and my youngest boy and a college friend of the oldest.

62. ........a warm summer. Finally. Even if we are in the midst of one of the longest heatwaves we have ever had here. Think 88*-101*, but mostly high nineties. And while our humidity usually runs around 21%, we have been challenged by humidity higher than 60%. And while that may be laughable to our friends in the East or South...... It is a lot more than what we are used to! 

The boys swimming in the river....a much needed cooling off.


My personal rule to never complain about the heat of summer is because I have "Fear of The Lord".......I worry that if I complain about the heat, He will cheerfully lengthen our winters. And I want no part of that!! ;)


63. ........the wonderful sounds of Nature! At this moment in time there are only two sounds:  excessive cricket buzzing and the mild rapids of the river. Simply wonderful. 


64. ........meeting an author this weekend while I was working. She just finished her third book. There is a bit of story about how I came to learn about her first book (hoping for a blog post about it).......but I will suffice it to say that she gave me a copy of that book for my local library.....but I get to read it first!  I am 45 pages in already......having an opportunity to read here on the river in my beach chair. Hooked. It's a memoir. 



65. ..........the lovely flower bed my friend Louise gifted to me for my birthday last year.  It has been a wonderful and colorful blessing to watch the colors appear from spring through summer. And the bees are so happy and the hummingbird comes in for frequent treats throughout the day.


66.  ...........the chance to feel FIT at age fifty. Getting my daily walks in has been wonderful. Wish I had taken the time when my kids were younger...... Not just with them. I did that. But I mean for my health. Young mothers......take.  the.  time. 

67. offspring who are so amazing in the kitchen. Such excellent cooks. Makes up for my lack of excitement or desire there. 

My oldest boy led the way in creating a delicious four-course meal after our river outing.
As it was just the four of us home for five days,
he made a comment that it was so quiet on those five days,
none of the melancholics were home.  :)
It was so true. Just a sanguine and her phlegmatic boys.  :)


68. .........that my kids made it through the perils of young childhood. All that worry is gone. Of course, they are replaced by bigger and scarier fears.......but I don't expect them to choke on a penny anymore. 

69. ............the internet friends who came by for visits this summer. 

Theresa, whom I have linked on this blog before.......came by from Alaska.   

My Malachy and her J-Bug, both almost 13, got along quite well.
They enjoyed our hike out to the meadow.


And JoAnn, who also has six kids, about the same age as mine, but only one girl.....came by from Colorado. 

Chari & JoAnn about to sit down for a tea party.

JoAnn and four of her our meadow.
My home is on the other side of those low trees in the background.

I may live in the country, but only minutes away is the most important highway in the west, goes from Mexico to Canada. It means I am on people's' way from Point A to Point B. :)

Like I said on Facebook recently.......Blessed are those who live near I-5, for they shall see many visitors.  :)

70. opportunity to sit here by the river in the cooling air, writing a blog post on my iPhone, surrounded by the sounds of nature, in a very, very peaceful setting. So. Nice. 


So. Good. For. My. Soul. 


I need to do this more often. :)


P.S.  Research shows that folks who use journaling to write what they are thankful for...instead of just a place to vent, find their lives are more happy, more satisfying.  Let's go there!