Wednesday, December 27, 2017

“I can do that myself!  I’m three and a half now you know!” announced my grandson, Karl.  

If you want to put a smile on your face, have a conversation with a preschooler and find out what they really know, or think they know.  That’s one of the things I love about my job at Preschool and why I like hanging out with my young grandsons.  Just when I think I have a handle on historical events, current events or life in general I am humbled to learn there is a different understanding of these things from the eyes of the little ones.   Here are a few examples.
Recently we were having a discussion about the first Thanksgiving.  The Pilgrims came to the new land sailing across the ocean on a big boat called the Cauliflower.  And did you know, some of our students parents didn’t even get to ride on that boat!  I had to admit I didn’t even get to ride on it either and I am much older than their parents.  Can you imagine how long ago the Cauliflower set sail?!
Sometimes we don’t realize our children are listening to our conversation until they respond.  When paying for a ticket to enter a museum, the cashier said, “Can I have your zip code?” Thinking she was speaking to him,  Karl (see above) said, “Yep, I can zip my coat!”  It took a minute to catch on then we all laughed hysterically.
If you want some help in the kitchen ask a group of preschoolers how to cook a turkey.  First you chop it’s head off but when do you take the feathers off?  Before cooking it?  After cooking it?  How hot should the oven be?  That’s a hard one.  It could be 20 or it could be 1000 degrees.  Take your pick but don’t burn it!  So much indecision about the turkey prompted us to have pizzas for our Thanksgiving Feast.

Then your children grow up and they begin to accumulate more knowledge than we  adults have.  They are computer geeks.  They look up information about everything from drones to dresses and they have the current event news at their finger tips.  I’m not sure that’s all good but it is what it is.  At a younger age one of my grandsons asked, after hearing the news, “That’s not really true, right?”  I turned off the radio and put on some fun music.  In the end, I’m thankful for our teens.  They are the ones who help answer my computer questions when my adult children are too busy.  They know how to research  my ancestry so I can plan for a trip to the “old country” before I’m too old.  If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t know about Star Wars or Harry Potter.  At this stage of their lives they may be the ones thinking we p

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Winter solstice, December 21!  Get ready! 

According to Wikipedia, winter solstice is defined as the the time of shortest light and longest night.  The sun is at its lowest point in the sky.  It’s tough!  
Each December my husband and I and several friends are invited to a solstice party at our friends’ home.  We enjoy a meal together, shiver as we stand around a campfire singing songs and sharing favorite readings.  The snowy yard is lit with ice candles allowing us to see our way through the snow.  Solstice  seems like a strange reason to celebrate.  Short days, long, bone chilling nights, snow, outdoor activities at a standstill, all this can be a challenge to our mental health.  Yet, we celebrate, embracing this dark time of year  knowing that this is a turning point, when light begins to return to our hemisphere.  It fills us with hope for the coming year.  And, so, we celebrate as many have done for centuries!
I embrace winter solstice because it seems to enhance the joy of Christmas.  Having lived in Hawaii for a short time I discovered how much our Minnesota weather made Christmas more meaningful.  It was lovely to spend the holidays on the beach but images of Santa coming to town on a surfboard seemed odd for a fella who lives at the North Pole.  Our Norfolk Pine tree was fresh and we could plant it in our garden after Christmas where it would root and grow.  A Norway Pine smells better.  Sun, sand and ukulele music couldn’t replace snowmen, sleighs and bells.
Winter solstice days are short but the sun on white snow is brighter than on a sandy beach, and the sky is a brilliant blue.  Long, dark nights are an opportunity to showcase Christmas lights and shining stars.  The experience of the Wisemen following the star from the east  to find the Babe in Bethlehem seems easier to imagine knowing how long the nights can be and how brilliant the stars shine.  Likewise, the angels, who appeared to the shepherds, came at night sending them on their way to the Child.  So they all gathered in the stable to worship Jesus as the Christmas star shone down from above.  
Jesus came to a  dark world bringing light to the world.  

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."


Solstice, marking the beginning of longer days of light seems symbolic of His coming to our world.  Get ready.  Embrace the solstice and Jesus the light of the world.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017


It’s not what we gather but rather what we scatter that defines our life.
Jon Francis

That quote seems like an unlikely motto for the Thanksgiving season.  Fall is our time to focus on harvesting.  If  you have been following the Preschool Face Book page you may have noticed an occasional  post, including pictures, of our preschool garden.  Our students planted seeds and small plants last spring.  Family volunteers watched over the garden through the summer, watering and weeding when it was needed.  By mid-summer we  began to harvest cabbages, zucchini, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.  In September our students participated in digging potatoes, onions and carrots.  They picked green peppers, more tomatoes and flowers.  It was an exciting time as we dug through the dirt and found edible treasures hiding there.  Now we have gathered over 150 pounds of produce from the garden.  That’s not bad for three, four and five year olds and their helpful adults.  
We are not just gatherers!  To live a thankful life we must also “scatter.”  We have received the gift of food from the land, rain and soil.  We have done the work of planting and received more than we could eat.  Now we needed to gift others with our food.  Ralph Reeder Food Shelf was the recipient of our produce.  We want to say, “We love you!” to our community and this is one way we have chosen to define ourselves.  
Thanksgiving is about “scattering”  much more than gathering.  The Pilgrims were able to celebrate their survival in the new world thanks to the friendship of the Native Americans who shared their knowledge of  hunting, fishing and agriculture with the Europeans. They were also thankful for plants that blessed them with medicine, food, shelter and light and for animals and their gifts of food, fur, and bones for tools.  In return the Pilgrims planted, harvested only what they needed and worked to preserve the clean water and air.  We receive, we are thankful and we give back.  Life is reciprocal.  
We can all “scatter” this fall, whatever our age, economic situation or ethnic background.  A smile for someone, helping a neighbor rake leaves, walking someones dog, watching a friend’s child are all ways to define ourselves as instruments of God’s love.  Caring for the earth by living sustainably shows our thankfulness for the blessings of our world.
Who is Jon Francis you may ask?  I first met Jon when he was in high school.  He was a friend of my daughter’s.  God became a part of his life in high school. In college he earned a major in Religion.  He spent summers as a Bible Camp counselor and youth minister.  In 2006 he was on his way to seminary to become an ordained pastor.  Before his studies started in the fall, his love of nature and rock climbing brought him to The Grand Mogul in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains where  he climbed to the summit.  He never returned.  It took a year to find Jon and bring his body home.  It was heartbreaking for so many!  As a part of their healing his parents formed the Jon Francis Foundation.  It honors Jon’s life and helps others who are searching for missing adults.  Promoting safe wilderness adventures, training Minnesota law enforcement officers for search and rescue, and offering grief support for families are all a part of what the foundation does.  The Jon Francis Foundation is an example of reaching out and “scattering”  in our community.  
I am thankful for the many blessings I have gathered.  Lord, now help me scatter your love to all around me.  Amen

Thursday, October 26, 2017


It’s not what we gather but rather what we scatter that defines our life.
Jon Francis

That quote seems like an unlikely motto for the Thanksgiving season.  Fall is our time to focus on harvesting.  If  you have been following the Preschool Face Book page you may have noticed an occasional  post, including pictures, of our preschool garden.  Our students planted seeds and small plants last spring.  Family volunteers watched over the garden through the summer, watering and weeding when it was needed.  By mid-summer we  began to harvest cabbages, zucchini, broccoli and cherry tomatoes.  In September our students participated in digging potatoes, onions and carrots.  They picked green peppers, more tomatoes and flowers.  It was an exciting time as we dug through the dirt and found edible treasures hiding there.  Now we have gathered over 150 pounds of produce from the garden.  That’s not bad for three, four and five year olds and their helpful adults.  
We are not just gatherers!  To live a thankful life we must also “scatter.”  We have received the gift of food from the land, rain and soil.  We have done the work of planting and received more than we could eat.  Now we needed to gift others with our food.  Ralph Reeder Food Shelf was the recipient of our produce.  We want to say, “We love you!” to our community and this is one way we have chosen to define ourselves.  
Thanksgiving is about “scattering”  much more than gathering.  The Pilgrims were able to celebrate their survival in the new world thanks to the friendship of the Native Americans who shared their knowledge of  hunting, fishing and agriculture with the Europeans. They were also thankful for plants that blessed them with medicine, food, shelter and light and for animals and their gifts of food, fur, and bones for tools.  In return the Pilgrims planted, harvested only what they needed and worked to preserve the clean water and air.  We receive, we are thankful and we give back.  Life is reciprocal.  
We can all “scatter” this fall, whatever our age, economic situation or ethnic background.  A smile for someone, helping a neighbor rake leaves, walking someones dog, watching a friend’s child are all ways to define ourselves as instruments of God’s love.  Caring for the earth by living sustainably shows our thankfulness for the blessings of our world.
Who is Jon Francis you may ask?  I first met Jon when he was in high school.  He was a friend of my daughter’s.  God became a part of his life in high school. In college he earned a major in Religion.  He spent summers as a Bible Camp counselor and youth minister.  In 2006 he was on his way to seminary to become an ordained pastor.  Before his studies started in the fall, his love of nature and rock climbing brought him to The Grand Mogul in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains where  he climbed to the summit.  He never returned.  It took a year to find Jon and bring his body home.  It was heartbreaking for so many!  As a part of their healing his parents formed the Jon Francis Foundation.  It honors Jon’s life and helps others who are searching for missing adults.  Promoting safe wilderness adventures, training Minnesota law enforcement officers for search and rescue, and offering grief support for families are all a part of what the foundation does.  The Jon Francis Foundation is an example of reaching out and “scattering”  in our community.  
I am thankful for the many blessings I have gathered.  Lord, now help me scatter your love to all around me.  Amen

Friday, September 15, 2017

STORY TIME


It  started around the campfire.  We were all there staring at the flames, poking the logs with our sticks.  Someone brought the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate bars out.  The “ultimate oven”  was ready and we began toasting the sticky morsels of white.  Our s’mores were consumed immediately  leaving a pattern of white blotches across our faces.  There were giggles and stories told about the day’s activities.  That often led to stories about “when I was young….”   You know what I mean.  When the children went to bed the conversations got more serious.  It seems easier to share your thoughts when it is quiet and everyone is focused on the fire.   What is said around the campfire stays around the campfire.  There is a special kind of bonding that happens on such nights.  It’s more personal than what is shared on social media or in the rush of daily activities.
The magic of the campfire begins when sticks are gathered and brought to the perfect location, a flat area on the ground, perhaps protected by rocks or pavers.  Someone must bring newspaper and matches.  Larger logs are needed and they must be dry or the smoke will be overwhelming and the fire will never start.  It takes a team to accomplish all of this.  That’s half the fun!  When we gather around as evening falls we fan the flames and make suggestions to improve the progress.  At last we are the winners,  the fire is started and we can sit back and enjoy the warmth.  As long as there are glowing coals we stay and talk.  

Camping, picnics, cabins and backyards offer opportunities for this kind of gathering where our stories can be told to our children and friends, face to face.  It helps us know who we are and where we came from;  our stories of faith, our fears, our dreams. We block out distractions around us and focus on each other.  If campfires aren’t possible, try lanterns in a make shift tent, chairs around the fireplace or candles on the dinner table with the lights turned down.  Fall is a good time to enjoy each others’ company telling your stories in this quiet kind of way!  Your life will be richer because of it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

MAY 2017
SOWING LAUGHTER

I recently went with my daughter, four grandsons, ages 3 to13, and two young friends to the Bakken Museum.  If you have never been there, I would recommend it!  Earl Bakken is the founder of Medtronics and his museum is in a mansion on the west side of Lake Calhoun.  The theme of the entire museum is electricity.  That sounded boring to me at first but when I experienced the hands-on exhibits, build-it-yourself project room, and guided experiments with old generators and batteries powering lights, mini fans and “junk” from Axman Surplus Store, I changed my mind.  The kids were loving it all.  Big smiles and chuckles could be heard.  It seemed like magic.  The real clincher was hearing the belly laughs of the kids as the museum volunteers created static electricity that made their hair  stick up and confetti jump out of their hands as fast as we tried to drop it into their hands.  When we formed a circle holding hands,  Karl was asked to touch the charged metal tip of a glass container to the volunteer’s hand.  We all got a mild shock at that moment.  Gasps and laughter filled the room.  Don’t you love hearing the sound of laughter?
Laughter can be found everywhere.  We certainly hear it at Preschool. When we take  the parachute out and bounce objects around, the children fill the room with giggles.  Silly storybooks bring smiles and snickers. Songs with surprise endings like “I’m A Little Teapot,” can bring down the house.  Touching a wiggly worm found in the garden causes screams of delight.  Laughter brings us together giving us a common experience in the moment and in the future as we recall the fun times we’ve had!  

As parents, teachers, grandparents and friends  we are the ones who can sow the seeds of laughter in our families.  Turn off the news.  Put the phone on mute.  Live in the moments with the children.  Your day will be more positive as well as theirs.  Laughter is the best medicine for all of us.  When I am smiling as I listen to the delight in their voices I imagine what God might feel like as he watches his children (yes, us) giggling as we enjoy his world.  I imagine a smile on his face or maybe a good belly laugh as he takes it all in.  He must have a good sense of humor.  After all, he made the potbelly pigs, earth worms, woolly bear caterpillars and kids!  What’s not to like about those?  This spring as the the sun warms the soil and dandelions begin to bloom, sow laughter as well as seeds.  I think we’ll all love the results! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


APRIL 2017


Winter is over.  Mother Nature has rolled up her blanket of snow and put it away for a few months revealing what she has been hiding underneath.


  1.  Mud:  Get outside and make a yummy mud pie.  Here’s the recipe.                                                                                       1 pail of mud                                                                            1 stick for stirring
      1 handful of rocks
       Pinch of sand for sprinkles

2.  Wildlife:  Look for worms, fly larvae, bird eggs and lots of baby  rabbits.

3.  Plant life:  Early blossoms will include colorful hellebores, crocus, dandelions, and mayflowers.  Pick a few and bring them inside to enjoy!

4.  Sticks:  Gather sticks of all sizes to use for mixing mud pies, building forts and making campfires.

5.  Rainbows:  What else can I say?  They are beautiful!

6.  Easter:  Yup, all of the above are a reminder of the New Life God promises all those who believe.  Jesus  experienced many difficult times in his life.  When we experience the “winter” of our life He is there to carry us through.  Then he lifts us up and we blossom into the person he planned for us to be!

Happy Easter!