Making Spiral Berry Soup

This morning I had an impromptu exercise in “play.”  I am calling it “making spiral berry soup” because that is what my four-year-old said he was doing.  As you can see I gave them some cups of two different dried beans and pasta, several utensils and containers, and then I just let them have fun.  They had the best time, and I was happy that the toddler did not put the ingredients in his mouth or dump all of it onto the floor. (Though a lot of it did end up on the floor.)

I got this idea from two things:  1) For the hundredth time this morning, my toddler got into the dog food.  I could tell he just wanted to have fun scooping it up and dumping it, etc.  2) When he did that, I remembered the teacher in my four-year-old’s Creative Play and Movement class telling me that my son loved the exercise when they played make-believe with dried beans and pasta.  She said kids love to feel the different textures.  So I thought I’d recreate that for the two of them.

I have let my four-year-old play with the dried beans and pasta before and create some art with it, but I didn’t want to get out the glue with the toddler.  This was just as fun.

We’ll have to do this more often.

Praying for Japan

This is a column I wrote for The Barrow Journal.  As a former JET participant, I feel a little like the earthquake and tsunami hit my home – or one of them.  Thankfully no one I know was hurt in the disaster, but there were wonderful people affected by it just like the ones I knew and loved.  Click here to read the full column.

And I decided to go dig out a few old photos and scan them.  The photo quality isn’t that great, but you can see me with a couple of my classes.  You can really see the personalities of those kids in these photos.  (Is it possible that they would be in their twenties by now?!)  The last photo is of me and Saki.  Of all the students in my school, she could speak English the best, so we bonded, and I’ll never forget her.

Happy Birthday to my Dad

This is my latest column on The Barrow Journal.  It’s a tribute to my dad, who turned 76 years old recently.  In it I mentioned my major memories from my childhood with my dad, who loved boating and traveling and often took us with him.  We also had our share of mishaps on these trips.  Below is a poem that I wrote many years ago about dad with a similar theme.  I usually don’t share poetry online….I’m not much of a poet.  But I thought I would make an exception because this relates to the column.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  Click here to go to the column.




water train

stranded countless times

down the Colorado,

and i didn’t care— the roving landscape,

the reds, browns

greens, blues and countless stars—

the night eased sensations

of just needin’ fixin’.


a man with a broken boat and fix-it tools is powerful and busy,

his grunts and moans float on the breeze of the white water

gushing from beneath the boat.

i knew he’d fix it,

or find someone to tow us in.


my father, the captain of countless water trains,

patrols, sympathetic vacationers or once the fuel barge and down wind

from the dumpster, we were hauled up river.


it never occurred to me to get angry or impatient

because life was always like this, vacations weren’t the same

without the boat or camper or car or something going down,


and i never felt safer than when i was stranded in a boat

on the Colorado

with four foot white caps

and a wavering achor.

Preschool Body Tracing Activity

I am in the process of writing a 3-part column about homeschooling a preschooler.  The first part was going to print this upcoming week in the newspaper, but I have asked them to postpone it because I wanted to write about the terrible disaster occurring now in Japan.   So, it will be a while before my preschool columns are printed and shared online.  I hope you’ll check back here for those when I post them.  I will have several extra details to share with you on my blog, mostly in the form of photos.

I can share one photo and details about it now: Above you can see the body tracings that my four-year-old and I did together.  I can remember doing this in my early years at school.  Can you?

We were lucky enough to participate in a “Mystery Friend” program at our church.  I was anonymously paired with a young person at our church, and my son was paired with an adult.  Then we exchanged letters and trinkets for several weeks before revealing our identities at a special event.  It was a nice way for the children and adults in the church to get to know each other, and it was perfect for my goal of socializing my son!  My son got a really good mystery friend who gave him some great activities to do during those weeks.

One of the activities she gave him was this huge sheet of paper and some extra markers.  She gave him the directions to trace his mother’s body on one side and his on the other.  So we did that, and then he wanted me to trace his body again, so we did it over my tracing.  Then he added the eyes and mouth and colored them in (a little).

I was very grateful to her.  I had thought about this before, but I never got around to finding paper large enough.  This activity is an oldie but goody!  We had lots of fun!

P.S.  See that coloring of the pretty flower on the left?  My Mystery Friend gave me that!  I also got a super cool mystery friend!

Take Good Care of Your Feet, Especially When You’re a Mama

This is the column that I wrote for the Barrow Journal this week.  I had a bad couple of weeks recently when I hurt my foot and caught a nasty cold at the same time.  When you have two active, little boys, this is miserable.  I was laughing and crying at the same time, and I was so grateful that I knew I would get through it somehow.  When I felt a little better, all I could think to write about, of course, was feet.  I found out some interesting facts too.  Click here to read the column.