I received very sad news the other day. A friend of mine died unexpectedly. She was only 57. She leaves behind her husband and three children, all of whom are still so young, late teens and early 20's. Her name was Norine. I met her when we were both attending St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing. We had a lot of laughs during school. Later, we met up again when I first began homeschooling Robert and Kristin. She was a wealth of information, gave me lots of ideas and some books. After our kids grew up we still kept in touch, sometimes for "tea lady" events, and most recently when I called her for advice on a situation with my grandson in the fall, and then more recently when we just called to chat. We had a good long talk that I am very grateful to have had.
I went to the Shen Yun dance performance today (stunningly beautiful performance). The themes of many of the dances dealt with the divine and the struggles of life. I found this to be great comfort. In particular, one of the songs sung made me think of my grief at the loss of Norine. Although this song comes from a different faith practice than mine, the sentiments are universal, and I was particularly touched by this:
Life's True Meaning
by D. F.
Human life is ever changing
Joy and happiness always go hand-in-hand with worry and grief
Happiness is paved with hardship
When wishes don't come true I often wonder
What is human life after all?
Dafa helped me to understand the truth
Most people come from various heavenly paradises
When the heavens faced disaster we came to earth
To wait for the Creator to purify our lives
I have no more sorrow and am no longer lost
Because I waited, and now the Creator,
King of the Fa (Great Way of the Universe), has arrived
Because I am on a god's path to home
Finally, our area is feeling warmth (i.e. 40° "warm" today). Tomorrow is supposed to be even better (52°!). This got me thinking about my garden for the first time in months. Last week I had gotten an indoor basil kit (when it seemed like it would never get warm - gotta have some fresh veg in the house), and Tyler and I prepared it today:
Ty watering the newly planted basil seeds in the cute metal container
After this I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead to the garden center and get some supplies in anticipation of tomorrow. I wanted to go today while it was colder, because on the first day of the first sign of true warmth in this area, the garden centers are flooded with people. In spite of the cold though, I donned my boots and at least got started with some prep work outside. It was great to be outside for longer than a few moments. My body was in shock from fresh air and exposure to sunlight!
I cleaned leaves and dead stalks from the garden beds. The soil in the raised beds is loose, but below it is still frozen. Fortunately I can plant cool-weather crops in the raised soil and not worry about that. There is still more clean up to do, but at least I got it started.
I mixed up the first batch of a soil to replenish soil lost in the boxes last year.
I used the Mel's Mix recipe from the Square Foot Garden website (although I use cow manure rather than compost). I was lucky that Paul had found some packages of vermiculite - very hard to find nowadays.
At the center I also bought cool-weather seeds: broccoli, carrots, leeks, romaine lettuce,
buttercrunch lettuce, spinach, and sugar snap peas.
I also bought a pair of extra-small gardening gloves.
First, you may wonder where I have been. I have been very busy with my new job, and it has been an emotional roller coaster. But after a very sad week at work last week, I have had some time off and rested up. Today I finished a project Paul and I started a week and a half ago: organizing Tyler's room.
His room was a *bit* of a disaster. He had no real storage other than his closet (with no shelves) and too many toys. There were Legos everywhere. It got so bad I couldn't get in to vacuum. Dusting? Forget about it. I will show you some Before pictures, followed by After.
Tyler, looking a little unhappy with his messy room!
His closet, note the inadequate bookshelf (from when he was an infant), and the lack of toy storage.
So, we looked online for Lego storage solutions (the brunt of the problem). We found a great suggestion on the website I Heart Organizing, which was to purchase some IKEA Trofast drawers (shown in photo below, note that you can get many combinations of drawer sizes and colors, most of the stock of drawers is in the IKEA warehouse rather than on the showroom floor in case you are hunting for them). Paul assembled them (for once, an IKEA assembly that did not take hours), and he is in the process of making color labels for each drawer. Then the long, arduous process of sorting Legos into their drawers. Robert and Tyler reassembled some of the sets, which we bagged and placed in their own drawer. Besides the colors, we also have a drawer for characters and "specials" (unusual pieces or special props). There are some smaller storage boxes for other completed sets next to the drawers, and we used one of the old Lego plastic boxes for his "build bucket" (a bucket to put works in progress into, see link here).
Paul also got an inexpensive bookshelf from Home Depot for the closet. We went through Tyler's toys, and fortunately he was willing to give away some of them. The rest were went on the new bookshelf. We used one of the now emptied baskets to make a little game storage for video games. We also are waiting for a spinning video two-sided tower to be delivered, which will then go in a corner with all of his videos placed on it (currently they are in the hall). I finished the final pick up and sort today, gave the room a thorough cleaning. I cannot tell you how nice it feels to have his room clean and organized, and to know that he can now help keep it picked up. And that he will enjoy his room so much more now.
The Trofast storage. Note the shocking lack of Legos on the floor!
The organized closet. (Note the wooden stove and hutch in the back - my dad made those, and my sisters and I had years of fun with them!)
Much better. Tyler ran around on the rug once it was mostly clear and exclaimed, "It will be so much more fun when I have playdates now. We can run around!".
What I am up to today: a crock pot dahl from the cookbook Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, while listening to Christmas Carols (still!). And I get to use my new Cutco Vegetable Knife (Christmas present from Paul - love!). It is a good day for warm cooking. We are in the midst of a snowstorm.
Christmas was lovely this year, except that I became ill on Christmas Day. I had a stomach bug. But my family took over and made the dinner. Fortunately I was able to sing at church on Christmas Eve. I rested all Christmas, briefly watched the gift exchange, and then later was able join the family for Grace and candle lighting, that is all. But it was a lovely season.
We had some snow. Donnie could not resist venturing out.
Our tree was beautiful. This is my favorite ornament. Ever.
I wore my hair in a blinged-out fashion. Sparkles!
We sang the Hallelujah Chorus at the end of Midnight Mass.
Then we came home and ate some figgy pudding with a chocolate Brandy Alexander sauce.
Then Santa came!
Our Advent Wreath candles were replaced with pure white candles on Christmas Morn.