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Back in the Swing of Things....

First week - 1 (1)Well, we survived the first week of school!

We hit the ground running with a 9th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader and 2nd grader.   This mama started her 19th year of teaching.    

It is always a big transition, for me especially, as my responsibilities and care of children increases exponentially with the onset of the school year, but we are all getting back into the swing of things.

This year I am continuing to work on self-care and stress management strategies and I also have a goal of "working smarter, not harder."

Here are three things I am focusing on to start the school year:

Drinking More Water.    On our summer vacation to the Pacific Northwest I got a new Hydroflask Water Bottle as a souvenir.  I am trying to drink two full 32 ounce bottles during the day.   I have been adding Nuun Immunity Tablets to give me a little boost as well.

Yoga.  I am continuing to incorporate yoga into my life.   I am aiming for one session a day.  My go-to home practice is a video from Yoga with Adrienne.  This week I have done her Sunrise Yoga, Stress Melt, and Yoga for Neck, Shoulders and Upper Back.   These free, quick videos have really helped me feel better.

Getting Help with Meal Planning.    Meal planning is a huge chore in my life.  Last school year I had a whole series of meal planning posts. where I created a collection of posts with weekly family meal plans.   This school year I am trying out a recipe meal planning service called emeals.   I subscribed to the "Kid Friendly" plan and every Wednesday I get an email with dinner recipe ideas and grocery lists for a whole week of meals.  I have been trying this out for a couple of weeks and I like it so far.  It is making this big responsibility in my life a little bit easier.  

There are several different meal planning menu theme options (ex. Quick and Healthy, Vegetarian, Budget Friendly and Clean Eating to name a few).   If you are interested in trying checking it out, try it free for two weeks using my referral link:    


I hope your school year/September is off to a good start.   If you have some strategies that you are using that are working for you to get back into the swing of things I'd love to hear about them!  


Friday Fave: Brené Brown #daringclassrooms

Chances are you may be familiar with author Brené Brown. 

BreneBrown-MaileWilson-1Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston.   She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers:

The Gifts of Imperfection,

Daring Greatly,

Rising Strong,

Braving the Wilderness,

and her latest book, Dare to Lead.   

Brené's TED talk - The Power of Vulnerability - is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 35 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed talk on Netflix. The Call to Courage special debuted on the streaming service on April 19, 2019.

I have read every one of  these books and I have also participated and completed her Daring Educator program.   As an educator I want to take a minute you give a little shout out share that the program is now being offered for free.

Safe_image.phpDare to Lead #daringclassrooms, a free companion program to Dare to Lead, developed specifically for K-12 (primary and secondary school) educators who are committed to courage-building in and outside the classroom.

Explore the Dare to Lead #daringclassrooms hub at

In this curriculum, individuals learn how to:

• Stay brave and constructive in tough conversations

• Give and receive meaningful feedback

• Foster deep engagement

• Build trust in teams

• Take more smart risks

• Extend generous assumptions to others

• Share bold ideas with confidence

• Reset after setbacks or failures

• Deal with conflict rather than avoiding it

• Facilitate accountability rather than turning to blame

• Lead through uncertainty

• Put values into practice

• Inspire and develop courage in others 





Mama Recharge

Can you guess where I might be this weekend??

Enjoy this re-post of my 2018 December column in Minnesota Parent Magazine.  

Take it as inspiration to schedule a weekend away of your own!!!

Northwoods girls weekend

It’s booked — three nights at a vacation rental on the North Shore of Lake Superior for me and three of my great friends. Whoo-hoo!!!!

This will be our third-annual Northwoods “girls weekend” getaway. 

Why is this such a big deal?

Well, as a mother of four, I spent a long time in the thick of the baby years.

During that incredible but long chapter of my life, I felt defined by my role as a mother of a baby. I didn’t stray too far from the house. I spent a lot of time caring for the children, but not a lot of time caring for myself. I don’t have to tell you: It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I felt bogged down with the responsibility of it all.

Now ages 13, 11, 9 and 7, my children are becoming more independent. They have their groups of friends and are involved in all sorts of activities. We’re in a fun new stage of our life as a family. And I feel I have a little more time and freedom to nurture myself as an individual. 

I’m able to focus a bit more on my own physical, spiritual and mental well-being, which, in turn, helps me to project myself as the person — and the mother — I want to be.

Several years ago, I reached out to three of my friends to see if they would want to attend the popular YMCA Camp du Nord Women’s Ski and Snowshoe Retreat on the North Arm of Burntside Lake near Ely. 

They responded with a resounding, “Yes!” “Yes!” and “Yes!” 

We all registered and were soon together — all in one place at the same time, without husbands or kids, for the first time in years!

Although the camp where the retreat was held wasn’t far from my home, I felt a world away. Distancing myself from my day-to-day responsibilities — and distractions of work and home — gave me an opportunity to relax and reconnect with my dear friends.

At the retreat, we were catered to with great food, wine and full days of unstructured time. We had opportunities to participate in yoga classes, get massages, go for hikes, talk, laugh, read and sauna. It was an amazing experience!

We had so much fun that we decided to make our girls weekend an annual tradition.

The following year, we had intentions to do women’s winter retreat again, but it filled up before we were able to make our reservations. 

So we decided to try a ski weekend on the North Shore. We booked a vacation rental and planned on a day of downhill skiing at Lutsen Mountains and a day of cross-country skiing on the Sugarbush ski trails for our second-annual girls weekend. 

We lucked out with mild temperatures and a dumping of 10 inches of snow that made our ski day at Lutsen feel like we were in the mountains! Meanwhile, our cross-country ski trails were perfectly groomed, which made for an outstanding experience.

Although we might not be so lucky to get perfect conditions again, we all agreed we’d have fun together, no matter what we were doing!

I’ve come home from these weekends with my friends refreshed and recharged. 

If you’re in the thick of the baby years — or don’t have the finances or support to get away for a night or more — I encourage you to be creative and find ways to take a break closer to home. Maybe it’s dinner with friends or an afternoon or day trip. 

I think it’s important for our kids to see us having fun and doing something for ourselves.

Remember, if you’re a healthy and well-balanced individual, it can help you to be a better mother!

Be the Change

"the time is always right to do what is right "
-Martin Luther King Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and with hope for good I share some of own little peaceful activism with links to some of my writings and school projects: 

0119 Kindness - 1

Be a Force for Goodness - (My January School Days Column in Minnesota Parent Magazine)

Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 7.28.24 AMAt this Dividing Time, I Choose Kindness - (a post I wrote for

MLK - Megan Devine

Sharing Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy with Young Children - (a post I wrote for

Images4 Smart Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s Vision Now and in the Future - (a post I wrote for


Click the image above or click here if you want to check out the activity I created and am facilitating in my kindergarten classroom.   I posted it free on if you would like to try it yourself or share with a teacher you know.


M is for Martin  I completed this project with my kindergarten students earlier this week inspired by a post on New Creation Preschool.


Be inspired - be the change you want to see in the world!


Alabama Chanin Sew Along - Taproot Magazine Issue 20 ::Share


This week I recieved issue 20::SHARE of Taproot Magazine.   I have felt privileged to have contributed to this lovely magazine in the past and this current issue I contributed in a different way - not through my printed word, but as a participant in an Alabama Chanin sew blog project that my friend Christine organized and wrote about in her feature article:  

The Power of Handmade.

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When Christine presented the idea of working together to craft a beautiful garment for someone who needed a touch of joy in their life, I was immediately drawn to the proposition.

 Together we could make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy.” -Christine

I responded to the invitation without hesitation and soon joined an eager group of makers that Christine pulled together from around the world.  Christine sought nominations from group members and two courageous women in my life were chosen as recipients of the gifts:

My dear friend Jen, a mother of three children ages 17, 15, 11 had been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She just had a double mastectomy and was in the initial stages of chemotherapy treatment.  I knew Jen would be a perfect recipient because she loves both surprises and handmade gifts.  Jen is such a beautiful individual both inside and out and cancer and chemotherapy had taken away some of the beauty she enjoyed sharing with the world. 

Jen’s husband Tim was thoughtfully involved behind the scenes at the start of the Alabama Chanin project by discreetly finding Jen’s measurements and giving input of Jen’s style and color preferences to help Christine chose to perfect garment for us to make for her.  She received the gift of the Classic Coat in a pallet of rich blues while going through a rough patch of her chemotherapy treatment.  She was absolutely delighted and touched by the surprise.  When she opened the package and read all of the kind and thoughtful notes that accompanied her beautiful gift, she was moved by the group partnership and sentiments.

“Throughout my journey battling cancer there have been many unpleasant physical feelings along with feelings of fear and sadness, but along with these - joyful, delightful and happy experiences.  So many people have reached out to me to offer support.  It is this support that makes it almost impossible to have a good attitude.  This gift definitely brightened my day!  Just looking at and wearing the garment fills me with memories of friendship and joy!” -Jen

Alabama Chanin Coat - Jen I made Jen a bucket hat from the Alabama Chanin DIY as a complementary gift in the same style as her classic coat.

Alabama Chanin Tunic Panel 3Betty, a brave woman in my family circle, was chosen as a recipient of a beautiful A-line Top to spread some joy, hope and light into her life.  Betty is a mother who has been enduring the most excruciating suffering of losing her firstborn child.  She experienced a preterm rupture of membranes at twenty-two weeks gestation while pregnant with her son Henry.  Henry was born premature on September 22, 2015 at twenty seven weeks with neonatal complications.  Henry was loved, cared for and supported by his mom, his dad and medical professionals in the NICU for two full months before he passed away peacefully in the loving arms of his parents.   Betty is still grieving and will always have an emptiness in her heart, but being a recipient of this project certainly lifted her spirits. 

“I was blown away by the kindness and intent behind this project.  I received the package in the mail on a particularly hard day.  The timing of this gift was like a smile from God, it was as if it was work from angels.  When I received the gift and read all of the thoughtful notes that accompanied the project, I cried happy tears”  -Betty

Alabama Chanin Tunic Panel 4

I was a participant in the sewing circle for Betty, sewing on of the four panels in her A-line tunic.
Alabama Chanin TunicParticipating in this act of giving has not only been healing and supportive to these deserving women, but also for myself as a maker and giver.   Going into the project I did not anticipate how my involvement in this act of giving would elicit such inspirational happy feelings in my own heart. Participating in fellowship in this genuine act of kindness and creating something of such beauty and purpose to delight another individual has been such a wonderful experience.  I know that I have been inspired by Christine’s initiative and the comfort and joy that both Jen and Betty experienced as result of the efforts of our sewing circle.  It is my hope that our stories of this experience will have the potential to influence a ripple effect of generosity in the broader community of makers, doers and dreamers. 


 You will be lucky if you can get your hands on the new issue of Taproot Magazine issue 20::SHARE, read Christine's The Power of Handmade and all of the other great content in the issue as well.


kids, chickens, bees, rabbits.....and airplanes


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This post might not exactly fit with the homesteading theme of this blog, but it fits with the culture of the north woods environment in which I live, and one of my deep rooted interests from a time period earlier in my life -aviation!   I love to keep just a spark of this interest alive by visiting our local airport each Spring when there are large, contracted aircraft stationed and ready to aid in wildland fire suppression.

At our small airport outside of town there is an U.S. Forest Service Tanker Base.  Every Spring some (pretty awesome) aircraft make their way to our neck of the woods and I work to  coordinate a kindergarten field trip to tour the airport to check out the airplanes, and to get some hands-on instruction by some wild land fire fighters and Smokey the Bear.

Last Friday was our field trip, and the weather and activity cooperated so we got to see some impressive airplanes and helicopters! To scope things out my daughter and I went out to the airport Thursday after school and we were lucky enough to have a chance to talk to some of the pilots and crew from Neptune Aviation.  We even got a chance to go aboard and sit in the cockpit of one of the planes.  The Neptune BAe 146 aircraft have been stationed in Ely and have been flying and dropping fire retardant on local fires and fires in Canada.


So I got a little fix of the aviation bug this past week - and got to pass that on a bit to a bunch of young little dreamers and doers in my life. 

::Gift of the Heart


I recently had the opportunity to take Harriet Goodall's online workshop Gift of the Heart offered through Squam Art Workshops.

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I was lucky enough to have won a spot in the course through an opportunity on Squam's Facebook pageParticipating in this class was such a gift!  Harriet was able to convey such clear directions through the course of the online class, I was able to experience success on my first try!

...and my second:


I think I have just enough material to make one more small heart before I need to reorder some supplies, which I will be doing because I want to make more!  I am excited to start spreading some love and giving some of these beauties away for others to enjoy!

Taking this class has some extra special meaning in my life.  I was able to meet both Harriet and Elizabeth at my first Squam* a couple of years ago.  

I was able to witness and experience first hand the magic and inspiration that these gatherings are well known for.

Here are some pictures from my Squam experience September 2013:




...and yes....the heart!

And now I have my very own - and the skills and know-how to spread some love and beauty by giving gifts of the heart made by my own two hands inspired by the amazing creativity of Harriet and the mission and magic of Squam Art Workshops.

Thank you both Harriet & Elizabeth!

Find out more about this wonderful class in the video below:

Gift of the HEART :: with Harriet Goodall from Squam on Vimeo

*note - I reference my experience as my first Squam - because I am feeling the pull to go back again!

::hands and heart::

Hands and heart

A friend recently pointed me in a direction of this quote, which pretty much sums up the way I strive to live.

I am writing this post on a Friday evening.  My own children are tucked into bed and I am working to quiet my mind after a full week of both being a mom and kindergarten teacher.

Reflecting upon a couple of moments captured in snapshots that are true reminders of what wonderful gifts that these children I care for are in my life. 

I really do have room in my heart for them all.

PicMonkey Collage


.:happy weekend friends:.


::the reset button






Note to self:

When you are overwhelmed with the never-ending cycle of laundry, dishes, bills, meal planning, grocery shopping, etc;

:.go outside

:.take a breath

:.soak in some sunshine

:.notice and pay attention

:.practice gratitude

Hit the reset button and come back counting your blessings for the experience of living a rich and full life.