spring vegetables! Baked asparagus is one of my favorite side dishes.
This tiny seedling doesn’t look like much, but it’s a beautiful sight at the end of the South Dakota winter. See it in the second cup to the left?
Benjamin is trying to do everything for himself. He especially likes running the buckle to his highchair. He has caught the edge of his finger in it several times, so whenever he is about to put the clasp in he says in a cautious, almost pained voice, “piiinch”. Except he says, ‘peeennch’.
Real life = plastic dishware, because the dishwasher is broken at the moment. Again. Large families definitely get their money’s worth on warranties.
Grey day, chilly weather, all children gone from the house for the homeschool co-op classes. They would be home around lunchtime-and hungry.When they came in the door, they knew there was food around. Muffins? they asked. Cake? Waffles? They charged the kitchen ravenous.
For my first attempt at waffles, they turned out very well. I did have to seek Landon’s assistance in operating the waffle maker, but after that everything went smoothly. (The waffle maker was one of Landon’s Christmas gifts a few years back).
When I went to take a picture of the finished product, these crumbs were all I could find, so you’ll have to take my word for it that they looked pretty good.
Whole Wheat Waffles
Serves: nine hungry children. Adapted from a Taste of Home recipe.
- 6 cups white whole wheat flour (I also substituted a cup of regular whole wheat flour for
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups buttermilk
- 8 eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- one tablespoon of molasses, for additional taste and color
- as much water as needed to bring batter to honey consistency.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk the milk, egg yolks and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Pour just under a cup of batter into waffle maker and bake till golden brown. For me, this was four minutes and twenty seconds. I also sprinkled blueberries over a few for an extra treat.
Update: a picture of some made with the leftover batter the next day.
The sky is grey and wind is blowing bitterly at the moment. The forecast does show a slight relief in the form of warmer, albeit rainier weather for the rest of the week. Last week the area saw a burst of summer like sunshine and warmth, but now hot tea and warm sweaters are a necessity again. Unfazed by the calendar declaring the first day of spring, winter seems to plod on monotonously.
But I know it’s just a matter of biding time now. I threw a few seeds in some moist soil indoors, just to try my luck at getting a hint of green.
Listening to… Rotating between silence, opera, and Mozart’s symphonies as I work through a stack of homework. I found a variety of music choices to study to in a large drawer of filled with classical music. There are benefits to nannying for a music professor.
Wearing… a warm favorite sweater! I almost put a stack of the heaviest winter wear away, but looking at the forecast for the week I realize that would have been a little premature.
Reading… textbooks and notes from the last two years of classes, working towards being prepared for the nursing board exam, the NCLEX test, in June.
Outside the window… snowflakes are falling gently. The area skirted projections of a snowstorm to receive a light dusting instead. Thankful on behalf of the safety of my fellow students who are traveling home for break this year.
Living liturgy… it is the second week of Lent already. With a late Easter this year, it seemed to be ample time between Christmas and Ash Wednesday, but it always catches me off guard how quickly the season itself flies by.
Thinking about… this is my final spring break. Then just a brief time to Easter break, and then the final push of the school year until graduation. Time moves quickly.
Oh, Blog. Three name changes, 733 posts, and ten years this February. One whole decade.
When I waited impatiently for my computer programming Dad to finish setting you up, did you know you would still be around today? That was February 2007- the year sounds so distant. Then I was still really little, waiting just another month for my twelfth birthday. Today I read over posts written at different times and watch the style of writing change over the years. Slowly, gradually.
Who do I write for? Sometimes I wonder: who visits this blog, who comes back again, and who passes through. I have had one time commenters, frequent commenters, and faithful commenters,- (Hi Grandma Kathy! I love reading all of your comments!) :)
I do know why I write. I write to preserve the small memories that would be lost, the tiny bits of joy that illuminate life and family bonds. I write for the joy of creating stories from words, as a child made in the Image of the Creator. I write because it can help unravel life. It’s a chance to reflect and ponder the week’s many twisting threads and choose a few to share. “Sometimes you never know what you think until you start writing”, my English teacher said once, and I have found this to be true. Occasionally, I sit to write with a definite map of a post in mind, and an hour later I find myself exploring a completely different path.
Social media threatens to overshadow blogs. After my first two years at school being proud to be the only one I knew without a Facebook account, I signed up after realizing it’s the most important communication tool in my age group. I’ve heard that some now consider blogs passé. Yet I keep blog writing and reading as a priority since it is so much more…peaceful. Much more peaceful than being bombarded by stream of consciousness posting from several hundred people. A blog is designed for stories, not snippets. For cherished memories, not tirades about the current political happenings.
The goal is always to regularly have interesting and entertaining posts at hand to publish once a week or so, but as soon as school has begins again I wonder if I will be able to be able to post any more than once a semester. I am trying to aim to implement some simple goals this year to see if it helps keep some simple posts going:
- blog link ups, since I’ve enjoyed series such as ‘Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real’ and ‘Daybook’ on other blogs I read.
- notes from what I’m reading. During the school year, reading for enjoyment is almost nonexistent, since I always have several textbook chapters to be reading. But I’d like to record the thoughts that captured my mind when I do have time to read some literature, scripture, or historical writings.
- document the crafty stuff! Because I have been a bit crafty in both edible and non edible materials lately, and documented of any of it.
- Wordless Wednesdays. Enough said.
Any other ideas for the next ten years?
This creature was recently spotted roaming far outside of normal migratory paths. Confused and disoriented, it was still displaying many instinctual behaviors such as crouching, tiptoeing, and scanning its surroundings through its accessory visual organ. The creature is presumed to have been blown off course by the latest South Dakota blizzard.
Now that my one month J-term internship has finished, the new semester and normal classes begin, meaning many things:
- staring at a list of times and room numbers, trying to translate the encryption into the rhythm of an actual day.
- the one day a year when I pay attention to room numbers to figure out which class is on what side of the building.
- scanning syllabi from four different classes to organize the list of assignments into a digital calendar-don’t miss a deadline!
- pondering the near overwhelming list of tasks, alternating between thinking casually: “it’ll get done” and panicking: “How am I going to fit this all together?”
- coming –this close- to forgetting an assignment while adjusting to the workflow of each class
- disbelief of the names of the months that I am scheduling, (April and May seem so far away), while knowing that constant tests and assignments will bring them sooner than expected
The final weeks of the fall semester are marked by intensive practices for the yearly Christmas concert. The familiar rhythm of our concerts brings to my mind snapshots from our the concerts of the past.
The enthusiastic freshman; in awe of the sounds created by one hundred and fifty voices in four to eight parts. That concert came at the end of my very first semester-marked by optimism and excitement that I had arrived in this new place-school. I had a biology teacher who told me she noticed I was always very happy when I walked in to class in the morning. And why not? I was a homeschooler surrounded by powerful microscopes and chemical apparatus, not yet worn down by the unending cycle of long class days and longer assignments. Furthermore, until I received a scholarship in the early summer, I had not believed I would be attending a traditional four year liberal arts school.
Fast forward to the sophomore year in choir, when I was beginning to be able to read music and understand the basics of singing, and with the help of some lessons was chosen to sing a duet at Christmas Vespers, a verse of I Wonder as I Wander. This same year, sorrow came to one of the choir directors, and each member of the close-knit music community grieved with him. His wife, who we lost to breast cancer the following January, had been known to my family since their move to our neighborhood from out of state. She had also been a key source of support to me as I adapted to the difficulties of being a faithful Christian in a relativistic educational environment. The choir department remains the only foothold of traditional Christian values at the once Christian college.
The next year, I was a self conscious junior, thrilled to have made the ranks of the upper choir, but now surrounded by very talented music majors. I was also trying to make the switch to a higher voice part. I had sung alto parts for the last two years, now had moved into a low Soprano 2 classification. I was feeling the upheaval of my normal school routine as well, trying to get on my feet in the hospital. I put on a confident face as I spent days giving injections and medications, but the formality of hospital guidelines was a bit intimidating. I also spent many evenings filling out miles of reports on medical pathology, medication actions, and treatment side effects.
Finally, the senior, voice beginning to settle at last, no longer straining to sing along with the other sopranos. Familiar with which notes are in the comfort zone, and much more at ease among the other singers. Over the last few years, I have become more confident interacting with adults and professionals. I’m also at ease in the hospital environment, and hooking up an IV medication only takes me a minute now, instead of ten.
Next Christmas I will not be among the singers. Our last performance this year was canceled by eight inches of snow falling around our guest performance location in the city of Minneapolis, so this year’s seniors did not know that the fourth of our five concerts would be the last. choir seniors usually have to look to their mascara after at the last performance of our college’s hallmark concert). Over the years, I’ve had exposure many beautiful pieces, and I recognize a piece on the classical station that we have performed. Many pieces have been recorded, and this arrangement of the “First Noel” from 2014 remains one of my favorites.
Nursing differs from many other careers in that it centers around people at their most vulnerable. Hurting, shocked, crabby and defensive. Perhaps having just received a new diagnosis. Maybe even facing the chance of death or disability. Times that bring out both the best and worst from the human natures of individuals and families.
I sometimes question my readiness to exhibit the calm, steady nerve needed to guide these people through the stressful days at the hospital bedside. My classes have spent a lot of time giving up the tools to manage these situations through discussions and simulated scenarios, but I am, as of yet, completely untried. How will I respond in real life crisis, when I am in charge?
Recently, I and a few siblings joined a church group gathering at a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols. This was the same facility where I had worked for a year at the beginning of my nursing studies. It’s been three years since I worked there, yet as soon as I walked through the doors, I remembered the regular rhythm of the nurse assistant’s day. The rush of helping everyone retire for the evening, six people vying for your attention at once. The moments bringing small comforts to those who enjoy their evening such as books or sweet snacks. And the careful, quiet walk through the halls in order to not wake those who suffer from sundowning, a high level of anxiety and disorientation in the evening due to confusion and fatigue that often affects those with dementia.
As I walked those hallways, I relived some of the most tender times I shared with those in my care. I flipped through photo albums of those patients, talking about the highlights and memories from their lives. These memories are now bittersweet, and I found myself blinking through misty eyes. No matter how much I try to maintain a professional distance needed for clear judgments and actions, I end up forming bonds with certain patients. When you stay with someone through their weakest moments, celebrate their small successes, and are the hand on their shoulder to comfort them when they are afraid, they end up touching you deeper than you know. As I begin my work in the field of nursing, I know that I will be collecting memories as I go. Memories both sweet and sad, and many will stay with me forever.
When 2016 began last January, I did not realize how many changes could come about in the span of a year. Friendships have been formed and grown. This year saw many changes to the way I arranged my time, and I finally think I have reached a balance of society, teamwork, and studies to facilitate a peaceful and pleasant senior year. I hadn’t realized it would take four years to reach that point, but at least I did finally get there! I enjoyed spending New Year’s perusing the collections of photos that the family had taken over the last year.
January I began waitressing in place of the usual month long interim class, as I had fulfilled all my general credits already. I plan to continue until I finish school this spring. Many parts of the job are very enjoyable, as is working with Landon, who also is a server. The wages do have a wide range of highs and lows, and weathering the days no one leaves a tip can be tough. I will be grateful to have a steady wage after I graduate. The job has helped me improve in working under pressure, dealing with upset individuals, and striking up conversations with total strangers, both skills that will be useful in the field of nursing.
We also spent a weekend exploring Lincoln, Nebraska. Visiting the local church, restaurants, and downtown district was a pleasant way to brighten up the cold month of January. highlight of the visit was the museum at the University of Nebraska. The family spent an entire afternoon roaming the three floors displaying fossils, rocks, and historical artifacts.
With only fifteen minutes until the institute closed, I almost did not allow Daniel and Dominic a chance to play in the children’s archeological simulation. We had lagged behind the family talking about the bones on display, and they caught sight of the sand pit They asked me if they could spend just a few minutes there, and I weighed the chance of holding up the family and cranky Benjamin against their hopeful eyes. They showered me with promises to depart with angelic behavior when I said time was up. “Just three minutes,” I said, remembering their good behavior for the majority of the day.
I was so happy I hadn’t hurried them out when I saw their joy as they dusted off several ‘fossils’ with the provided paint brushes. They also did a great job sticking to the time limit I set for them.
We also visited the capitol building, which was very beautiful. The collection of paintings, sculptures, and Greek inspired architecture kept even the youngest of the family intrigued. They were especially amazed by this very old and still functional elevator:
Spring break in March was spent on a week long choir tour all the way down to Texas. I learned a lot about bus rides and the average life of college students. I also received a crash course in seeking out the company and friends I wanted to spend time with. Since I rarely spend extensive time away from home and have never lived in a dorm, this was a new skill for me.
Numerous bluebonnets tinted many of the roadside fields dusty blue. It was beautiful! I was reminded of two favorite childhood picture book written by Tomie dePaola, The Legend of the Bluebonnets and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, which tell of traditions surrounding the lovely flowers.
I pressed a few between the pages of my pharmacology textbook, which was keeping me company during my free hours on the bus ride.
Texas is the only state to have been under the jurisdiction of six different countries:
Austin features many interesting locations, such as this rooftop garden where some friends and I spent a memorable lunch break:
I really enjoyed the Spanish inspired Texan architecture:
Through April we cared for our tiny rough collie puppy,
In May I finished school up and also watched my little ballet students perform the dances we’d been working on since Christmas:
I spent a week in June directing a homeschool play for the first time…
…and that same week got a chance to practice my emergency nursing skills when Alexander broke his leg at the park. He was being well cared for by the homeschool moms supervising until Mom and I arrived on the scene. Then it was straight to the emergency room for an X ray and a cast.
We harvested lots of tomatoes, some rhubarb, a first grape cluster, a butternut squash, and a few sweet potatoes. About that squash. I have no idea who planted it. I didn’t even know what it was until September. It began as something resealing a birdhouse gourd, but didn’t stop growing until it reached nearly 16 inches long. But the giant gourd turned out to be the best tasting squash I’ve ever had.
First time inside a cave when we visited Wind Cave National park in September. My knees went a bit weak as I helped Dominic down the stairs that led 40 stories underground, but as soon as we reached the bottom, we were all much to in awe of the delicate lacing, called ‘bodywork’ on the cave’s walls to think about how deep we were. Our guide to the cave was a passionate cave explorer who spend her weekends crawling through the smallest openings in the cave system. She told of her experiences being the first to see new cave tunnels and committed to eventually mapping the entire cave system and documenting fossils and cave crystals.
November we braved icy road conditions to see landon’s college performance of the musical Huckleberry Finn, in which his acting won an award!
December was divided between Christmas choir concert rehearsals, final projects, and resume preparation as I prepared for my first job applications for nursing positions over the break. I never knew that there were so many things you could do wrong in a resume, until I visited with the school career center. I got it finished by the deadline, however, which felt like a major accomplishment since I had been rather worn out by the last two weeks of school. Break arrived just in time!
Christmas suspense was building. This little watcher kept a tree-side vigil patiently:
Well, mostly patiently.
We enjoyed Christmas music from family musicians old:
Daniel and Dominic sweethearts. Joseph is not amused.
Dominic and Claire love to play ‘puppysitting’
When the last test of finals week is taken, and I find extra time on my hands for the first time in months, there’s only one thing to do: bake! Long class days are always conductive to formulating long lists of recipes I’d like to try, and when I go on break there are plenty of helpers ready to assist. Waiting for the cookies to cool and a block of time to frost them was a major test of patience for the youngest ones, but we were able to manage the entire process with no melt downs. Alexander is growing into the role of family helper, and guiding the youngest hands in creating small white faces. Daniel and Dominic worked hard to decorate carefully, as picturesque cookies were promised a place on the blog. Sweet memories!