{pretty, happy, funny, real}



spring vegetables! Baked asparagus is one of my favorite side dishes.


IMG_6665 (1)

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.



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.

Spring Break Daybook

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.

Semester Starts: Ready, Set, Go!

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

Vespers, Final Concert

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.

2016 in Pictures

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: img_0916

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:


Texas Longhorn


I really enjoyed the Spanish inspired Texan architecture:




Through April we cared for our tiny rough collie puppy,


Who grew:


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.


July and August was prime gardening season, with small hands helping:

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.


Throughout the summer, John was totally caught up in the political system at work:img_1091-1

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 Day

Christmas suspense was building. This little watcher kept a tree-side vigil patiently:


Well, mostly patiently.


We enjoyed Christmas music from family musicians old:

and new:


One of the best parts of the day was a father-son Jingle Bells duet. Alexander has been taking clarinet lessons for about three months.


Keeping time:img_1981

Little brothers-my favorite.

Daniel and Dominic sweethearts. Joseph is not amused.



Grandparents visited:


Dominic and Claire love to play ‘puppysitting’


Landon won the originality award for wrapping presents for himself:img_6610

Merry Christmas!


Misc- Christmas

“In twenty years, we’re going to need to rent the events center to hold a tree to fit everything underneath”-Landon (The Christmas spoils included many sibling gifts to each other, so the stack formed a small mountain this year).

“The wine glass is for you Mom, because I broke your other one”