Family

In October the weather finally cooled off enough to open up the windows and tackle a huge painting project that had been on our to-do list for a while: the dining room.  Read more →


An odd thing happened to me this year: I got the Christmas spirit. No, I wasn't visited by ghosts in the middle of the night. I'm actually not sure why it happened. Lisa thinks it's because our son is staying with us this holiday season before he ships off to Navy bootcamp. That might be it. It might also be that I've just reached the age where any reason to feel warm and snuggly is a good enough reason. Read more →


One of my favorite seasonal tasks when autumn arrives is to rake leaves. In mid-November, thanks to a wild windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest that left us without power for 30 hours, the final batches of leaves descended from the two giant maple trees holding court in our front yard. Read more →


Sharing the wonders of nature and a love of gardening with children is easy with Usborne Books & More. A division of Educational Development Corporation that also includes Kane Miller books, Usborne Books & More is a line of titles made available through independent consultants directly to consumers. They are not sold in stores, but through these small business owners. I am one of these small business owners. I became a consultant because I am passionate about spreading literacy to as many families as I can, but also because I truly love these books. My family are avid nature lovers, and I was looking for books that could keep my two young girls engaged and spark in them a love of nature and learning. An Usborne title Peek Inside The Garden got us started on our journey. It is now available in this boxed set with other wonderful titles of the same series. From there it was easy for us to continue building on what our girls had already learned from this first title to so many more available through Usborne Books & More. Here are just a few current titles the children in your life will grow to love. Read more →


Halloween took its first fatal hit for me in the 1980s, when gossip about razor blades in apples gave my parents alarm. However, this was simply a continuation of a string of urban myths that started in the 1950s and continued through subsequent decades. The myths themselves derived from cases of homicide in which the murderer tried to cover up his crime by claiming poison came from trick-or-treat candy, or drug 'accidents' perpetrated by children who got into their parents' stash, the adults attempting to deflect blame on stranger's candy. You can read more about this over at the Halloween Love blog. Read more →


The desire to forget is very human. Something bad happens, and we want to get through it and move on, forgetting it ever occurred. This can even be a healthy inclination, if we keep from getting stalled out, bogged down by grief or pain. But there's a lot to be said for remembrance and acknowledgment as well. If we forget the past, especially if we forget wrongs done to us personally or to our people, forgetting can actually be dangerous.  Read more →


We purchase most of our meat directly from farms, a practice we began in 2015, when we lived in Chehalis, a small town in Washington state. Back then our beef came from the Olson farm, just outside of town. Here in Missouri, we had to source meat anew, so we hit the local farmer's market and found two excellent locals: Eckenfels Farms and Farrar Out Farm. Read more →


Let me introduce you to what we around the farmhouse like to call "the leather spider." Now, Chaco has typically been pretty hard on any toy I've ever brought into the house, usually breaking them the same day they arrive. It's rare that any make it past a few days of play. But I don't actually blame Chaco for this; he's just doing what cats do. The problem is, like too many things these days, most cat toys are cheaply made out of cheap materials. They ain't built to last.  Read more →


Let me tell you a weird story about our cat. We had some problems with water seeping through our basement walls. When this happens, the water is muddy. Even if you clean it up, it leaves a very fine silt behind. One place that ended up having a pretty thick layer was behind the furnace. It was out of the way and hard to get to, so it just sort of built up. We fixed our gutters and created a water garden in the backyard. Our roof runoff fills some drums, and then when they overflow, it runs out to the water garden, as does a French drain to draw water away from the basement. After we did that, we haven't had any problems with water in the basement. But that silt just set back there getting dryer and dryer. One day I realized I had not needed to clean the cat's litter box in a while. He seemed OK. He wasn't lethargic. I thought, "Maybe that silly cat is pooping somewhere other than in his litter." I looked and looked and looked and finally found a nice pile of poop behind the furnace in that lovely soft silt. Well, I guess you can't really blame the cat. The silt is a soft as down, and the furnace makes that spot nice and warm. But still I had to clean up the cat poop and then clean up the silt. The cat went back to his liter box and all was well. Read more →


I want to wish a happy Mother's Day to everyone out there who mothers, in all the senses of the word. As someone who has not herself had any biological children, I know there are many opportunities in our world to mother, as I have had with my stepson, Zander. I've been in his life for half of it, and I like to think I've been a good influence on him. Stepmothers and other caretakers often get short shrift when it comes to the cult of motherhood, so let's not forget all the "mothers" in our lives today.  Read more →