extraordinary days

Spring in Minnesota includes all kinds of weather. On Monday it was sunny and 66 degrees. In contrast, here is a view of our yard this afternoon: A1B8DB83-D469-4FDE-ADA0-434644ADDB6E

We aren’t surprised by snow days in April. We just roll with ’em – and remind ourselves that in a little over a month this tree will be filled with fragrant pink blossoms.

And we savor the memories from exactly a week ago, memories of hiking among the red rocks in Sedona, Arizona.

2019-04-04 13.25.48

More than one family member noted it was a pity that our trip hadn’t been for two weeks instead of one, but we fill this day off with reading, shoveling snow, playing the Lego game, vacuuming, baking, washing dishes, and finishing taxes. These things too can be extraordinary when we make them so.

for they shall inherit the earth

The first hand is eight years old.

The second is 11 years.

The exact age of the third hand? Only God knows.

No one bothered to write down the date that hand was brought into the world.

413B3278-B745-4E3F-9D9F-16E0A4F08B47

“A lot of kids in my class say bad things about Somalis. I don’t tell them that I’m half Somali,” my 11-year-old said this evening. He mentioned the same thing last week.

I suggested he might considering pointing out to these kids that there’s a lot of variety among Somalis, that they no more deserve to be lumped into one category than any other group. His dad, who is Somali, advised him to let the topic pass without saying a word.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living with a minority, it’s that many of them don’t buy into this idea of sticking up for yourself, of calling out the unfair treatment. It’s all about not making waves, about not upsetting people who have the upper hand – and just may use it against you if pressed. I have a feeling my boys are going to take their cues from their daddy on this one. Perhaps that’s best. Blessed are the meek.

things to do on a frigid day (or week)

The great polar vortex has descended on the Midwest and you’re hunkered down at home with the kiddos for yet another day so cold that school’s cancelled and outdoor play isn’t a real option. Make a list of all the household chores you’ve been procrastinating on and allow everyone to choose a task or two that they’d most like to do. This is how we got snow shoveling done right quick – my boys clearly prefer outdoor work to the indoor stuff. (Of course, they also took the opportunity to roll around in the snow before coming back inside.) Once you’ve got the work done – or at least made good progress on your list – go ahead and enjoy the rest of the day.

1. Make some aqua rocks. Just add a few drops of food coloring to a balloon, fill it with water, and set it outside. Once frozen, remove the balloon and enjoy the pretty shapes and colors (from the window).

a00099b1-b61c-4adb-9d74-5307d4f0063b

2. Write a good old-fashioned letter, and have your kiddos write one too. My boys wrote their one out-standing thank you note, and I filled up the rest of the space in the card. A letter a day is a good goal.

2be33e26-7e1d-44c1-9502-4e4406053ee1

 

3. Use this as an opportunity to bake. Choose one of those baking projects you never seem to have time for in a typical week. For example, make some soft buttered pretzels. (Ours were tasty, though not as photogenic as the ones on the King Arthur website.) Then, pull out those canned cherries that have been neglected in the back of the cupboard. Mix in some cornstarch and sugar and place them in a pie crust. Bake until your home smells wonderful.

0cd052f3-d013-4c58-963e-1a83aff3f606

4. Play board games for as long as you like. Then make up your own games. If you’re so inclined, use your Lego bricks to inspire some intense role plays. Or just admire your kids’ Lego creations.

c38fb8ea-bbdd-4dbf-b9e4-62c55ac77794

5. Read. Finish up all those library books that are in your to-read stack. Then check out your library’s online resources. If you’re blessed with a library like ours, you may have even gotten an email touting their “Top Five Resources for Snow Days.” Read it in its entirety and choose one option to explore in depth.

db875671-a477-4f91-928e-7186cb318299

6. Put on some fun music and move to the beat. Everyone needs to get their wiggles out somehow.

7. Put everyone to bed early and let them sleep late. Wake up, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and repeat.

the gift of time

This year I decided to bake Christmas cookies to share with neighbors who live alone and probably rarely ever bother to break out the baking ingredients. (Who wants to bake for one person, really?)

The baking was the fun part; squeezing it in with all the other stuff we had going on in December was the challenging part. So I didn’t linger much as a rung doorbells and dropped off foil-wrapped parcels.

We got a note from one of the recipients, “I really appreciated the cookies, and they came at a time when I was feeling a little low!”

That got me thinking. Sharing homemade cookies is a small gesture. How much greater could it have been had I taken the time to sit down and listen to each person?

So I’m pondering what we as a family will do in the coming year to reach out more often to people who tend to spend more time alone than they’d prefer.

And since we’re talking about seasonal treats, here’s one that typically gets rave reviews when I share it:

Frango Mints

1 stick butter, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 pasteurized eggs

12 oz. pkg semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

Beat butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy. Beat in extracts and eggs. Add melted chocolate chips and mix thoroughly. Pour into a buttered 8 x 8-inch pan, smoothing out the top. Chill overnight or until firm. Cut into small squares.