Saturday Afternoon Chat: Dog grooming, visit to a museum, and annoying cold thwarts our plans

I’m back to peppermint tea this Saturday for our afternoon chat.

I’m glad you could come for a visit. I really needed some adult conversation after a week of mainly being inside and working with children. Okay, one child. My eight-year-old who isn’t a fan of homeschool right now.

I had planned on adult conversation yesterday during a homeschool gathering, but Little Miss woke up with a sore throat so that was out. I spent my day trying to get her to eat despite her sore throat, writing a little, doing a little bit of school work with her, doing some dishes, cooking dinner, and only talking to adults online through Discord.

It isn’t that I like being super social. I can take about an hour or two of being social with other people and then I’m good for a few more days, sometimes a week.  

On Tuesday the kids and I traveled 45 minutes north to have Zooma the Wonder Dog groomed. While we waited for her, we visited the local library, which has a museum of local artifacts upstairs. To turn the day into a little bit of an educational field trip, the kids walked upstairs to visit the museum.

Little Miss and I have been studying Native American culture and history so it was fun to see some actual Native American artifacts that the museum has.

She was more interested in the fossils of animals they had, however. That and the star fishes and shark teeth.

The building was built in 1897 by Jesse Spalding in honor of his son. He asked for the building to become a library and museum.

It was renovated in 1927 but as far as I know, the marble staircases and impressive high windows are the originals. There is something both comforting and creepy about the building. I don’t know how to explain that.

Like most libraries these days, they have a permanent book sale out front, and I couldn’t help picking up a couple new books – a cozy mystery and a Christian fiction book by Bodie Thoene.

After we picked up Zooma we headed to the playground, which was packed since it was the first nice day our area has had in weeks. That may be where Little Miss picked up this little virus she’s got going on now.

Zooma and I wandered in the parking lot while The Boy and Little Miss played on the playground equipment.

Thursday it was raining so we didn’t do anything, and we were grounded again yesterday because of Little Miss’s sore throat.

I felt like I was washing dishes and cooking meals all the time this week, which left little time to write blog posts or read or even work on my latest book. I hope I will have more time for all those things next week, since, so far, we don’t have any big plans.

It looks like our plan to see Jesus Revolution tomorrow might be canceled because my parents were going to watch Little Miss for us since The Boy is staying at a friend’s house.  I don’t want to expose my parents to something that might be mild for Little Miss and major for them.

For now we will plan to stay home and watch movies like we did today. Little Miss said the movies we watched were too dramatic and after I cried through Brave she said, “well, I’m proud of you. You’ve had an emotional breakthrough.”

Hopefully we will all be well by Friday because I am looking forward to going to a book sale at a library near us.

Because I need more books I’ll never read. Ha!

So how was your week last week? Any big plans for this week? And what are you drinking while you was this? I have a list of teas I want to try thanks to all of you now.






Saturday Afternoon Chat: Dental procedures, branching out with different teas, and more snow

Today I am taking it easy while snow hangs out on the trees around our house. I am not sipping tea while I write this but later I plan to be sipping tea sent to me by Bettie G. of BettieGsRAseasons. The tea is cassia cinnamon from Vietnam and made by The Republic of Tea.

Yes, I am branching out from my regular peppermint tea. Shock. I know. I’m a creature of habit.

Right now, I am sipping just plain water because yesterday I did not drink enough and I can tell I am a bit dehydrated.

I’m not the only one taking it easy today. Little Miss had a dental procedure yesterday so she is also taking it easy while also still sort of being her crazy self.

As you recall, I was very nervous about the procedure and not happy it had to happen. Long story short, Little Miss had some damage to her baby teeth caused by soft enamel. There is a lot more to this story that involves dentists who misled me, dentists who pushed us off, dentists who tried to accuse us of being bad parents, problems caused by Covid lockdowns, dentists who wouldn’t take our insurance, dentists who walked out of the room while I was asking questions, and a lot more. It’s been a rough last several months.

I have a lot of anger at a lot of people, even myself for not making a bigger stink about it all when I started to saw the issues developing, but having Covid in 2021 and suffering for a while from that didn’t help the situation either.

Also long story short, the procedure was less than ten minutes long and Little Miss recovered quite quickly, but she and I both are very sad about her missing teeth. We are very thankful that her front teeth are her adult teeth and they are looking great, which hopefully means the soft enamel was only an issue for her baby teeth.

I expected Little Miss to be a lot more out of it after the teeth were removed because they used a small amount of sedation, but she was actually very alert. She was crying, of course, and shaking, but after a few minutes, she walked herself out of the office and to the van. She cried more on the way home, especially because there was gauze in her mouth and she was angry about the whole thing, sort of like me.

At one point The Husband said to go easy on her because she was out of it and didn’t know where she was.

We could understand her, despite the numb mouth and the gauze, when she said sharply, “I know where I am and I am not out of it. I am in the van.”

She slept for about 30 minutes on the way home and then she was up and bouncing around most of the day. She wasn’t able to eat normally but she did enjoy a few bowls of ice cream and a couple cups of pudding. We both also had a good cry over her lost teeth and the weird feeling without them and the discomfort she was having because of all this.

First, I comforted her and then told her that her dad and I did what we felt was right to make sure her adult teeth come in healthy and then I cried and she comforted me. It wasn’t a pity cry on either of our parts. We both really needed that time to mourn all we have been through for the past six, almost seven, months since our local dentist said they wouldn’t help us.

We cried again this morning, or rather, I did. I looked to see that things are healing and it just broke me to see all those holes in there. She was so sweet. She took my face in her hands and said, “Mom, this isn’t your fault, okay? This isn’t any of our fault. I just had soft enamel. It was for the best.”

Hopefully, she will continue to heal well.

With this behind us, I hope to be able to share more on the blog, finish writing and reading a couple of books, and catch up on blog posts from my favorite bloggers!

We had so much support and prayers from so many people leading up to this procedure. I truly think we both felt so calm walking in there because I told her how many people were praying for her. For those of you who prayed for us, contacted us and encouraged us in a variety of ways – thank you so much! I was simply overwhelmed with the kindness and I know she was very touched too.

We were happy that her gymnastics class was canceled today because of the weather, but we probably wouldn’t have gone anyhow so she could have more time to just take it easy.

Yes, as I predicted, we are getting more snow in March than we probably had in February and it’s only two weeks into March. That’s Pennsylvania for you. When everyone else is anticipating spring, we are still slugging through winter.

My children insist that I angered the weather god known as Phil the Groundhog because I call him a rat and refuse to recognize his weather-predicting authority. I don’t even remember what that fat rodent said this year. Was it six more weeks or winter would be over early? I’m pretty sure he always says six more weeks so whatever. I never listen to him. The Husband and I could have taken that little jerk out years ago when we visited Punxsutawney but I’m sure those guys in the top hats would have just dragged some other poor unsuspecting creature out of it’s hole in the middle of winter for that ridiculous spectacle they do every year.

Every time it’s snowed since I dared to “disrespect Phil’s authority” my son has turned to me and cried, “It’s because of you! Because you’re not a believer in the greatness of Phil! Now he has brought his winter wrath down upon us!”

So this weekend Phil is spitting some snow at us (though much less than forecasters keep saying we are getting) and I believe some more snow is coming Monday night.

Our area should see spring sometime around the end of May at this point.

Earlier in the week I kicked out about 5,000 words in my latest book to keep my mind off things. Other than that, I wasn’t able to think about much else other than the procedure so I accomplished very little. We did a little bit of schoolwork this week but I really took it slow. This next week I’ll be adding a lot more to our plate and hopefully Little Miss and I can avoid more math-related breakdowns. She knows how to do a lot of it so she feels bored but then when I show her something she doesn’t know she still says she is bored. I guess we are just not a math-loving family and I need to accept that.

I was sipping water when I started writing this post but now I am sipping hot cocoa sweetened with maple syrup. Little Miss poured four tablespoons of maple syrup in for me. I will be making my cinnamon tea next for writing this afternoon.

So how about you? What are you drinking on this fine day? And how was your week? I hope it was a little less active than ours was.

Saturday Afternoon Chat and a Cup of Something Warm: a hard loss, weird weather, and homeschool gatherings

Hey there! Come on in. I’m just heating some water for some tea. I also have coffee (made in the Keurig), milk (lactose free only, I’m afraid), orange juice, and, well, water. Let me know what you’d like.

I was out of honey most of this week, so I tried sugar in my tea.

Ew. That was seriously gross. I haven’t had sugar in herbal tea in years. My taste buds have no idea what to do with all that sweetness anymore.

I’m still only drinking peppermint tea. I’m so boring. I am going to look for some new flavors soon.

This has been a tough week emotionally so I hope you don’t mind if I have some chocolate with my tea.

My dad’s sister, my aunt Doris, died last Sunday. She passed away a few hours after my husband drove my dad up to see her.

I’ve been trying to pretend I’m not sad all week for the sake of the kids. This didn’t work well and yesterday The Boy and I pretty much fell apart under the pressure of trying to be fine with it all. When a person who is 90 dies people shrug their shoulders as they offer you condolences. They say things like, “well, she had a good, long life,” or “she’s in a better place.”

My aunt didn’t have a great end of her life as she was forced from her home of 50 years or so into a nursing home. Her family fought very hard to keep her out of that home but in the end, they all ran out of funds and she ran out of health.

It isn’t the ending I wanted for her but I had no control over that and it’s been hard to admit how little control I have over things lately. I feel, in many ways, that my life is spinning out of control around me and I have no say – not even, “stop this thing I want to get off.”

The passing of Doris in combination with a difficult diagnosis for a family member, plus upcoming oral surgery for Little Miss, due to what I feel is some incompetence on the part of local dentists, has left me clinging to all the wrong things. Here on the blog I remind us all to look to Jesus and cling to him but in real life I am clinging to feelings or to forcing feelings or happiness that simply aren’t there.

Pray for me this week that I can practice what I preach.

I should mention that I was typing this part of this post on my phone when the following verse popped up on my Bible app at the top of the screen:

 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 

Hebrews 12: 1-2

Timely, no?

I’ll write about my aunt in a future post. For now, I’ll try to move on to some happier topics because there are days we have to choose joy when we do not feel it.

Today I was going to take Little Miss to gymnastics class but woke up and Old Man Winter had decided to vomit an inch and a half of snow on us when I thought it was going to be a dusting.

I decided not to chance driving the roads since the road to get there is a stereotypical rural road that twists and winds around curves and under trees. Instead, I braved the cold temps for a few photos and then Little Miss decided she wanted to go out in it for a bit even though it was only 23 degrees and 13 degrees with the windchill.

She was suited up in a snowsuit, winter coat, thick gloves and boots, and I was not, however. I didn’t last as long as her. While we were out there she wrote a note to Aunt Doris: “I hope you are happy in heaven.”

It made my mom and I cry but it opened the door for us to talk about her feelings about all of what is going on.

Tomorrow she has her first home gymnastics competition. We have to be there at 8 a.m.


In the morning.

Ick. Not looking forward to that, but it should be fun for her at least.

Off to a new topic —

Our weather was so seriously bizarre this past week.

Its bizarre behavior made my head feel weird, my ears fill up, and my anxiety rise for some reason. Maybe because the barometric pressure was going up and down, up and down, all week.

It was like it was its own personal yo-yo.

On Tuesday the weather started out with freezing rain, then moved to the sun, then to rain, then to sun, then our lights flicked off and on and I looked out the front window and there were dark clouds. Within ten minutes the outside was a swirling mess of white snow and the wind was blowing trees so hard the tops of them were practically touching the ground. Ten minutes of that and the sun was shining again. So strange.

Then the next day it was freezing rain and some snow and yesterday it was sunny but breezy and only 32 degrees out.

I feel like our weather is very schizophrenic and I’m really tired of trying to get the fire started in the wood stove, so this year I’ll really be happy when spring comes.

There are daffodil shoots coming up in my neighbor’s yard but they may have been frozen in the deep freeze we had last night. Not sure because I forgot to look.

Yesterday the kids and I went down the street to the library in town to attend a homeschool gathering I found out about earlier in the week.

There were about ten other children there and apparently it is a gathering that happens twice a month. The kids and parents gather together, share information, participate in a craft, and read a book to the younger children. There are teens on down in age who attend.

Little Miss really enjoyed herself even though she didn’t talk to the other children too much during this first meeting. Maybe that will change in future meetings.

We are in a very small town so it was nice to find a homeschooling group that is right down the street

I’m looking forward to this next week because I have nothing scheduled except one event for Little Miss which I still call Awana but is actually called Kids Club now. Oh, and I might have an appointment for Zooma the Wonder Dog to get her nails trimmed. That is often an all-day thing because we have to drive 45 minutes away to the vet where we used to live. Actually, I’ll probably do the grocery shopping that day too. So I do have things scheduled but not until later in the week at least.

How about you? How is your week shaping up for next week?

And how about what you are drinking? Hopefully, no booze to get you through. Ha! Luckily all I’ve reached for during this craziness is a cup or two of hot cocoa!

Saturday Afternoon Chat and a Cup of Something Warm

About the time you are reading this, I hope to be at my parents’ watching Anne of Green Gables with my mom. This will be after I take Little Miss to gymnastics, where she will prepare for an upcoming competition and I will read a book.

I hope I will be drinking a cup of tea of some kind at my parents.

What are you drinking today?

Is it cold or warm where you are?

It was warmer here earlier this week, but then dropped fast yesterday after a thunderstorm at 5 a.m. A thunderstorm in winter. It was certainly weird. I’ll miss the warm weather. That little sample was enough to make me long for spring. I feel better when it is sunny out. My sinuses are happier with warmer weather too.

Earlier in the week, Little Miss and I played outside and enjoyed the sunshine. She created slime and ran up and down the hill in the backyard with Zooma the Wonder Dog and then I read her history lesson to her. The wind wasn’t cold exactly. More like chilly but it was whipping fiercely most of the time and later that night I realized my face felt dry and chapped. I finally decided I had windburn, even though the wind wasn’t freezing.

That night, though, she developed a sore throat and a low-grade fever. She missed Awana, which she loves, and cried, but said her throat hurt when she talked, and she wouldn’t be able to sing either.

That night she fell asleep in her room with a fever while Bluey played on my phone. The moment struck me as wholesome. Her face was serene and beautiful. I watched her with her hand propped sweetly against her face and prayed that the next morning she would feel better and her fever would be gone. Thankfully it was.

I absolutely dread my children being sick. It’s not only because I lose sleep by watching over them, or in Little Miss’s case, tending to her when she can’t breathe through her nose or wakes up in a delirious feverish state, but because I simply cannot stand to see them suffer. I absolutely hate being sick, but I would rather be sick than see them hurt or suffer.

On Monday, I made a pot of ham and bean soup, which was really only local ham and butter means mixed together in the Instapot because I wasn’t sure what else to put in the soup.

My parents make their bean soup with onions and carrots, but the only carrots I had were canned and I was afraid they’d be too mushy. Also, my son doesn’t like cooked carrots and my daughter doesn’t like onions. This way they’d both be happy. I did find out later, though, that my parents now use canned carrots in their soup to cut back on all the work of cutting up fresh carrots.

It has become a tradition in my family that when one of us makes bean soup we send some to the other one. When my parents make bean soup, they make a huge pot of it and send containers of it to us because the kids absolutely love their bean soup. When I make some I send it on to them, even though their soup is always going to be better than mine.

This week is pretty void of appointments, thankfully.

I hope to keep working on a new cozy mystery I am writing.

Little Miss and I will also be continuing our lessons for homeschool, including history through fiction (I picked up some Imagination Station books for her. They are from Focus on the Family), science and math, which is something Little Miss and I frequently butt heads on. I hope that can get easier for us soon.

I found a couple of photos taken on the way back from our trip to Scranton a couple of weeks ago when I was downloading the photos from our sunny day Wednesday.

The sunset one is near a Procter and Gamble plant near us and the building is a former Catholic school that is now the location for a Jewish summer camp.

Tomorrow in my Sunday Bookends post, I will ramble about what I’ve been reading and watching this week.

How was your week last week? Try any new teas?

Saturday Afternoon Chat (with or without a cup of tea)

This weekend is very welcome after a very long week.

Today I’m sipping some tea with an insane amount of local honey. The Husband picked up some local honey that has a cinnamon aftertaste and I’m really enjoying it.

It was very delicious and relaxing to have tea when we traveled 90 minutes one way to take Little Miss to an oral surgeon consultation this past week. Little Miss has had some damage to her teeth over the years due to soft enamel and now she’ll need a procedure in March, which I am not looking forward to in many ways, but am in others. I’m looking forward to helping her teeth not become infected or cause her pain (which she doesn’t have now) but I’m very concerned that she will need anesthesia.

The good thing is that the surgeon we consulted with was amazing. He walked in, stuck his hand out, and said, “Hello, my name is Justin.”

Not, “Hi, I’m Dr….”

Instead he made it clear we are on the same level and he isn’t above us simply because of his degree.

He was extremely reassuring, interacted well with Little Miss, and left us dumbfounded with his kindness. So dumbfounded we almost forgot to ask questions. We weren’t used to being treated kindly by a person involved in dental care and let him know that which he said he was sorry to hear.

After we left the dentist, we found a restaurant for dinner and then headed back home north another ninety minutes. On the way home we saw a bald eagle going for fish in the river. Little Miss missed seeing it and lamented how her short stature causes her to miss everything exciting you can see out the window.

Our appointment was in Scranton and we saw a large library on our way out of town. Both Little Miss and I wanted to go to the library but it would have been hard to get out of traffic and find a parking space so we kept going. The Husband was impressed that   Little Miss wanted to go to a library so he decided to make up for her not seeing the eagle by stopping at a library in a town he has to visit often for work.

For a small town it has a very nice library and I’ve been wanting to go there and see the bookshop they have in the back of the library.

The bookshop is like a full-time library book sale and I was thrilled to finally see it. It’s a small room but it has several bookshelves lined with used books in very good shape that are for sale for $2 hardcovers and $1 paperbacks. The Husband didn’t let me stay very long for fear I’d wipe out our grocery money, but being there, looking through the books, was the happiest I’d been in weeks. I felt so calm and relaxed by being able to focus on something other than bad news.

I picked out three hardcovers, Little Miss picked out a book on Pegasus, and The Husband found a book for himself. We also found an entire set of the Lord of the Rings books, which was timely since the Boy and I will be starting The Fellowship of the Ring next week for school.

We were going to go back to the bookstore today after The Husband and I grabbed some lunch, but decided to find a restaurant a little closer. This made me a bit sad because I knew it meant I wouldn’t be able to go to the bookstore. That sadness led me to look on social media and see if any of the libraries in the town we’d be visiting had a similar type store and guess what? They are having a book sale and another, smaller library, that we will pass on the way, is having one too. I told The Husband about the sales and he informed me I am addicted to buying used books.

I’m okay with that. There are worse things to be addicted to.

(Interrupting this blog post to ask for prayer as I am having trouble focusing on The Boy telling me about video games right now while I am trying to write this. How can he possibly have all the lore of these games memorized but not be able to remember what he learns for school? Argh!).

The weather warmed up this past week just a little bit in the beginning and more later in the week. This gave us a chance to not stuff wood into our woodstove the way we had been previously while we tried to keep up with our heating oil bill. We were able to do that this week but now that we know how to utilize the heat from the woodstove more, we will be able to save on heating oil in the future.

We were able to just keep the fire at a nice gentle roll that left a warm glow in the woodstove but didn’t overwhelm us with heat this past week.

Our youngest cat loves the stove and somedays she looks like she is worshiping before it.

I will be glad when the weather is a bit warmer and I won’t have to start the fire or load it and the guys won’t have to haul wood in from the woodpile. At the same time, I will miss the coziness of it.

This upcoming week should be a bit calmer than the past few weeks. We don’t have any appointments planned other than grocery shopping at the end of the week.

The Husband has been doing the shopping for the last couple of months because he actually likes it. Weirdo. I’ll be taking over again this week, though, which I’m not exactly looking forward to since I’m not really a fan of grocery shopping like he is. Still, he does a lot for the family and deserves a break.

This post is jumping around a lot (hey, that’s normal for posts here!), but I have to share that I miss blogging. I have not been blogging as much recently because of either stress, things going on that I had to take care of, or trying to figure out how to market my books. I’m really tired of trying to keep up with social media to market the books and blogging is a stress reliever so I really hope to get back to blogging some more fun things the rest of February and beyond.  

So how was your week last week? Did you drink lots of tea or cocoa or something else warm? What’s on the sip list today? Let me know in the comments.

I leave with you two very entertaining performances by ice skater Scott Hamilton. An amazing skater and an even more amazing man and Christian. God bless him. It’s a joy to be able to look back at his performances. I’m so glad he shared this first one on his Instagram this week. I needed that pick-me-up. The second one is ten years later, which would have made Scott about 46 years old. It was the same year he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He’s since had two or, maybe, three tumors and a couple bouts of cancer but he’s still kicking and preaching Christ too.

Saturday Afternoon Chat: Cold weather, warm fires, and Grandpa’s poems

I did nothing this week. Like nothing. I haven’t even left the house once.

Nope, not sick. Not depressed. Oh, wait, yes, I am depressed, but that’s not why I didn’t leave the house. I just didn’t have anywhere I needed to go this week and it was very, very cold. Today it is 11 degrees as I write this and the high is going to be 23. The day started off at around negative five degrees Fahrenheit.

Thankfully tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer with temps climbing toward 40 degrees. I will take it after the frigid weather we’ve been having. It’s been so cold not even my adventurous younger cat wanted to go out most days and if she did it was for a very short time.

We have been running our woodstove full bore for the entire week, 24/7. Our pets have enjoyed it very much.

We have also enjoyed it since it has helped us save the little bit of heating oil we have left in our tank until we place a new order sometime this next week. I can’t believe how high heating oil was months ago (and still is really). That just started us on a snowball effect of trying to keep up with the bill and still pay our other bills and buy groceries. Eventually, the snowball became a full-blown avalanche and overran us, leaving us in a pile of Overwhelm at the bottom.

(Excuse the wood chips. We brought in a lot of wood this week and still had to sweep when I took this photo).

This week I was so thankful for the woodstove and electric heat upstairs in our house because without it we would have really been in trouble.

The Boy and The Husband bring in the wood for the stove most of the time but Friday morning I braved the wind and swirling snow to the woodpile behind the garage and brought a few logs in. I have short arms and a big head so I can’t carry as much as the guys can. Have you ever seen that scene in Meet The Robinsons? The T-Rex in it says that and I always think of that when I share about my short arms. I will post it below for your viewing pleasure:

I consumed so much organic peppermint tea with local honey this week to try to keep warm and calm, I was practically floating.

Last week I wrote about how Jesus helped to calm the storm in me while chaos raged around us, and it was the same this week. We still have a lot of weirdness going on and one situation that is not resolved, but this week still seemed calmer overall than other weeks. I had some anger issues over the one situation but was able to settle that a bit by venting to family and pacing a lot. Oh, and there was chocolate. There is always chocolate that is needed in those situations.

On Tuesday I released Shores of Mercy to the world finally. I was glad to have the book out there and the Spencer Valley Chronicles almost complete. As I mentioned in a post on my new newsletter site I plan to have five books in the series when it is all done, but for now, I am taking a break from the series to work on a couple of other projects. You can read about that on my new Substack site, which will only be used as a newsletter for my writing. I will most likely only update it once or twice a month, if that at this point, so if you do subscribe to it, don’t worry – I won’t spam your email every day or week.

I tried to get some writing in on a couple of the new projects this week and then realized I have no idea where the new books are going so I will need to do some more brainstorming and plotting on those.

I may not have gone out much this week, but the rest of my family did. The Husband took Little Miss to Awana on Wednesday at my parents’ former church. On Thursday my parents drove two miles north to see my 90-year-old aunt whose health is not doing well. They made me a nervous wreck because they had to call me for directions, couldn’t hear through the cell phone at one point, and then my mom called out my dad’s name and said, “Oh my!” and I thought they’d had an accident.

Then they decided to stop for dinner on the way home as if they are grown adults and can do what they want to do. I told them that they have to check in when they are going to be out past their curfew but they didn’t seem to listen to me. Parents are so rebellious sometimes.

It is almost like they are trying to get back at me and my brother for the times we were out and didn’t call them and tell them where we were, so they were home worrying about us. Not that either of us actually went out that much. My brother and I were both fairly tame growing up and also stayed close to home. If we did go out it was down the road to a friend’s house or in the yard to read a book. Yep, we were that boring, and proud of it.

I was originally supposed to drive my parents up to see my aunt but then my dad got all morbid and said he’d rather if something happened, it happened to just two family members and not three so that my children didn’t lose three family members at one time. He thinks such pleasant things, doesn’t he? But, yeah, he had a good point.

Last week my parents sent me home from their house with two huge boxes of blankets, comforters, and flannel sheets. They have too many and decided they needed to declutter. They met my brother and his wife for lunch and gave them a bunch too.

One of the blankets I immediately said I wanted was my grandmother’s – my dad’s mom. We lived across the hill from her (over the creek and through the woods to grandmother’s house we went) for my entire life until we moved in with her when I was in college.

She used to curl up in a tiny ball in the corner of this curved couch she had and cover herself with this afghan. She weighed about 100 pounds and wasn’t very tall so the thing covered her almost entirely.

My mom asked if I knew why she used to tie a red piece of ribbon to the bottom of it. I had no idea.

“She didn’t want to have the part of the blanket that was down by her feet up by her head when she laid back down,” Mom said.

Oh. Well, that’s one way to do it. I don’t think about such things but my grandmother apparently did. I have not yet tied a ribbon around the fringe of the blanket but I have covered up with it a couple of times, cried and least twice, and felt very sentimental every other time.

As an aside, I picked up the habit of rinsing out my mug several times under the faucet before using it to make sure it is totally void of leftover soap or dust of any kind. Grandma used to do that and now I do it and can’t stop. It’s my one, small OCD tendency.

Later in the week, Dad brought me a box of poems from my grandfather, which he wants me to place in some kind of scrapbook after I read through them.

It was all a little bittersweet because there was a series of poems in there written about a year before Grandpa died while my grandparents were on a trip to Maine. I never got to know the man since I was two when he died. My mom says I was afraid of men and even him because he had such a deep voice, but shortly before he died she’d leaned over to say goodbye to him (he was in a hospital bed at the house) with me in her arms and I impromptu leaned over and kissed his cheek. She said his expression was one of delight because I had never done anything like that before. He passed away not long after.

My grandfather was such a large figure, reputation-wise, in the family and community, though, so in many ways it feels as if I have known him all my life, even though I never really did.

He wrote a lot of poetry and kept very simple journals that mainly detailed what the weather was, what he’d had for breakfast, where he had gone that day, and who he had played cards with (usually some close friends who are distant relatives and the same couple my parents would later play cards with as well, even though my mom hates to play cards. Ha!).

Dad said he has a ton of large, padded, yellow envelopes with what looks like more of his writing in them spread out at his house. Looks like I know what my job will be Sunday afternoon.

Does your family hold on to family memorabilia or writings as well?

In addition to Grandpa’s writing, my dad also has quite a few items from my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, including a blood letter (not sure of the technical name for this) from my great-great-grandfather who was a doctor in the 1800s. This is the same great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War and whose brother also fought and then died in Libby Prison. (Trying saying great-great three times fast. After a bit, the words start to sound funny. *snort laugh*).

He also had a box of gold nuggets from my great-great-grandfather but we’re not sure why they are there. Dad thinks that maybe he was going to invest in some firm that was gold panning but he isn’t sure. The nuggets and the box they are in are probably about 200 years old. The nuggets look totally fake to me, but what do I know?

The full word above is “glass” but the g and l are on the other side of the box.

My dad gave The Boy a small framing hammer that my great-grandfather used to frame windows, including the one at the school of the local Catholic Church that we can see from our house. You know, the one with the bell that rings five times a day and the one I’ve featured in photos on this blog a few times.

After all this rambling I am sure you need a warm-up on your beverage. I shall pause while you do that.

Here is our intermission music:

Seriously, though, I do need to wrap this post up as it is dragging out, but I think I will pick up about Grandpa’s poems in another blog post later this week.

I hope you had a wonderful week last week and have a better one this week. As usual, feel free to share what you are drinking today in the comments and come back tomorrow for Sunday Bookends, where I share what I am reading, watching, listening to and writing.

I thought I’d share a poem from Grandpa to close out today:

Listen all here’s the deal,
You’re a cog in the wheel.
Some with a brush, a cloth, a comb,,
Others will pills as they roam.
Quiet you down, ease your pain.
All the duties not the same.
Others are just the nurses aid,
Let’s not forget the cleaning maid.
Some prepare for a transfusion
Inject iv’s its utter confusion.
In every bed there’s someone sick
All ring at once want you quick.
Samples of blood as you go along
Go to the lap to see what’s wrong
Temperature, heart beats, pulse and pressure
Ah yes, ‘tis work beyond measure.
Rub your back, arms they clutch
Get you up on a crutch.
And doctor’s orders you must obey
Among other things in the day.
Don’ know where we’d all be
Without that wheel don’t you see.
You jot a word on our chart
Yes everyone’s a vital part.
Yet ‘tis rewarding to the soul
To keep the wheel so she’ll roll.
So at years end, the yuletide season
We love you all, that’s the reason.
As these words we pause to write
Have a wonderful day and peaceful night
~Walter H. Robinson.

Saturday Afternoon Chat and a Cup of Tea: Snow and letting God calm the storm in me

Come on in out of the cold and have a seat.

Excuse the mess. We’ve been busy this week doing crafts, homeschooling, and being outside in the cold.

What have you been busy doing this week?

This week I don’t have anything too exciting or new to drink, but I am glad to have some local honey to put in my organic peppermint tea. I ran out of honey early in the week and added sugar as a sweetener which was completely awful. I haven’t put plain sugar in anything in years, other than a cup of tea a few months ago when I was, again, out of honey.

I never realized how sickly sweet it was. It was so sweet that it actually made me feel sick to my stomach. I cut back on sugar over a decade ago and I won’t lie and say I never eat sugar, but I don’t put sugar in tea or on cereal any longer. It’s just too much to me. If I sweeten things it is with honey or maple syrup or molasses. I think I shared one week that I like to add maple syrup to my hot cocoa, which is only plain cocoa powder mixed in hot milk. I don’t use the cocoa mixes with sugar added because it’s simply too sweet for me.

Don’t worry — I’m not a sugarless snob. I still have candy bars and some cookies or cake, although very rarely on the cake and cookies. I simply don’t have the cravings for sweet food as much as I once did. I do, however, still crave chocolate, so I’m not sugar-free.

Winter remembered it was supposed to be – uh – wintering this past week and dumped a few inches of snow on us over a couple of days.

Little Miss and Zooma the Wonder Dog were super excited because they love the snow. I don’t really love the snow but I went out with them and took some photographs and shivered. After the first little snow, both Little Miss and Scout ended up a tree, but they were both short trees so both of them could climb out easily.

Eventually, we went back inside and I started a fire in our woodstove and The Boy made us homemade French fries while we finished our school lessons. It was really a nice, relaxing day

We had another storm on Wednesday and Little Miss and Zooma the Wonder Dog enjoyed their time in the snow again.

Since we are low on heating oil and have an outstanding bill from the insanely high oil prices, we are trying to run the woodstove more often and I’ve been surprised by how well it is heating the house. It did heat the house well before but we never let it run past our bedtime until this week. Now it heats the house all night as well, which means we can reduce our oil usage and turn down the electric heat.

I was very stressed when I realized how low we were on heating oil. It seems like we’ve been getting hit with a lot lately and this seemed like something else. It isn’t easy, especially if we really do run out of heating oil before we can afford another order, but we really are very lucky. We don’t have it as mad as many people. Our house, while old, is in very good shape, with a fairly new roof and siding. We were lucky the woodstove was in the house when we came here and that it keeps us warm on cold winter nights.

We are able to afford food and lately, people have been giving my parents food they can’t use from the food pantry and they’ve been passing that on to us.

We’ve truly been very blessed by God, even when I feel lost and worried about the future.

There are still some appointments coming up for my youngest that have me worried, but I’m doing my best to trust God each step of the way.

Last week Little Miss had some trouble sleeping. She wasn’t sure why, but she simply couldn’t sleep. I was very upset by this because I was tired and worried about her but also about how I’d function the next day. Eventually, after about three hours, she did fall asleep but by then I was wired and wide awake and my anxiety was high. I prayed and suddenly I felt a strange calm settle over me. I felt almost happy. I closed my eyes and prayed for a couple people, thought about some ideas for a future story and eventually drifted off and jerked awake fifteen minutes later. Then eventually I drifted off altogether and managed a few hours.

As I was drifting off I thought about how sometimes God doesn’t calm the storm raging around us, but, instead, he calms the storm within is.

I need that calm right now, certainly, with all that’s been going on. Only God can calm the storm within us and it’s something I need to remember as much as I can.

It was good to have that reminder pop into my head that night, or morning, and I don’t think it came from my own mind alone.

Have you had any reminders you needed lately?

And what are you drinking today to help get you through your day? I certainly hope it’s some nice tea or cocoa.

An afternoon chat and a cup of tea: More Mary Berry, rainy weather, cuddly cats, and molasses milk

 I really need a cup of tea again this week, though it might have been a slightly better week than last week.

I loved the teas that everyone shared with me that they were drinking last week. What are you drinking this week?

I think I was drinking cocoa and maple syrup last week instead of tea, but today I’m sipping a cup of peppermint tea with local honey stirred in.

The cold weather seems to be here to stay and we might receive some snow tomorrow, but so far our winter has remained mild. I’ve enjoyed staying inside as much as possible, covered with a blanket this week while I read or tried to figure out how to design journals and sell them on Amazon.

The only days we got out of the house for very long were a visit to my parents on Sunday and a dentist appointment an hour away for Little Miss.

It was raining and messy the day we went to the dentist appointment so we didn’t enjoy the view of the drive through the local state park on our way there. I was glad when we returned home and I was able to pull a blanket up around me and watch some Andy Griffith. The cats have been inside more often recently due to the weather.

Scout has decided she needs to visit my chest to touch her nose to mine and curl up a few times each day, including in the middle of the night a couple of times, which made me almost scream. She doesn’t seem happy with simply curling up at the end of the bed. She wants to walk up my chest and stick her nose in my face first and then she’ll go curl up somewhere else. She was practically thrown across the room one night because she woke me up and I thought a monster from one of my weird dreams was attacking me.

She is one of the few cats I have had that have let me pick them up and cuddle them, at least for a few moments anyhow. I mentioned this to my husband and he said, “Smokey used to let you pick her up.”

Smokey was one of the cats he had when we were dating. I inherited her, along with Squeek and my husband, when we got married. The issue is that Smokey really didn’t like me. She was The Husband’s cat. She loved The Husband. He could pet her on her nose and put her to sleep while she lay on his chest.

She hated me. At first she hated me. Later she tolerated me. Either way, she did not let me cuddle her.

“She let you cuddle her,” I reminded The Husband this morning. “Not me. I replaced her in your life and she hated me for that.”

The only time Smokey did like me was when I was lactating. She would rub up against my chest during that time. She was a milk fiend and loved when I would pour a little of my lactose-free milk for her in a plate or bowl. When that tradition started, she decided I was okay and she could like me a little bit. She lived 17 years and she did let me pet her, especially when I needed to comfort her after she went partially deaf and would sit in the middle of the living room floor and cry after her longtime companion, Squeek, died. I do miss that cat. Even if she wouldn’t let me cuddle her.

This afternoon Little Miss had gymnastics. She’s getting ready for a small competition at her studio in February. It will be her first. We are hoping she will wear her leotard because she doesn’t like wearing it during her weekly practices. She prefers to wear her stretch pants and a T-shirt instead.

Today, The Boy has a friend over to visit. They’ll talk about video games and whatever 16 and 17-year-olds talk about (sometimes it is a little frightening so I don’t listen. Ha!).  The Husband, Little Miss and I usually hide upstairs when he has friends over and watch shows on our laptops or read books. This gives the boys time to be boys and laugh about body sounds and similar things.

Seriously, though, these boys have quite a few serious conversations about history, dictatorships, economies of foreign countries, former presidents, various battles in various wars, and other topics which sometimes go over my head. My brain can’t really comprehend anything too complicated these days.

Recently, I have been craving simple things. Simple shows, books, food, and days. I can’t always have the simple days, but I try to take a small amount of time out of the day to read a book and drink something warm like a cup of tea or, like I did earlier this week, a cup of molasses milk.

When my dad had his knee surgery several years ago, his doctor required all of his patients to drink molasses milk for a certain number of days to raise their iron levels. I’m drinking the molasses milk for the same reason, hoping it will help either raise my iron or keep it at a good level. I find I feel better when I take iron capsules or increase my iron intake. I, of course, am using black strap molasses.

Earlier this week, after a particularly difficult day, I warmed up a cup of molasses milk, sat at our kitchen table, and opened up Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. I forced myself to sit still for 15 minutes and read a couple of chapters and I found that I felt a lot more relaxed afterward. I love escaping into Anne’s world.

Listening to good music, such as worship music, or reading a devotional and saying a brief prayer, helps me in a similar way. I would like to do all of those things this weekend as I try to give my brain and body some much needed respite from recent stress.

How do you relax during a stressful time? Do you have to force yourself to relax like I do?

And what are you drinking today? Let me know in the comments.

Last week one reader was drinking a new cinnamon tea from The Republic of Tea, and another was drinking a loose-leaf flavored black tea called Florence by Harney and Sons.

Saturday Afternoon (Actually Evening) Tea and Chat: Gallbladders, sleep deprivation, and comfort movies

Hello! So glad you stopped by.

Sit down and have some tea with me. I certainly need a tea break this weekend after the week I had. I might even have cocoa instead of tea, honestly. I meant to have this little chat and tea time up earlier today, but got delayed by . . . well, a lot.

This past week was a nightmare in many ways. There’s no way around it.

Actually, it all started on Friday of last week when my mom started to have horrible pain in her chest and stomach area. She’s had this before many times and has been told it is gastritis.

To make too long of a story much shorter, my mom was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with pancreatitis caused by gallstones.

She was immediately admitted to the hospital, 45 minutes north of where we live, and a procedure to clean out the gallbladder was performed on Tuesday. The pancreas had to settle down after that procedure and then a plan was made to remove her gallbladder on Thursday.

While all this was going on, I was trying to recover from a cold, and it ended up leaving me up all night long two nights in a row due to coughing. The coughing only happened when I’d try to fall asleep though and wasn’t happening at all during the day. It was so odd. I wasn’t in great shape on Wednesday, ended up at the doctor, and was told I have severe postnasal drip left over from the virus or whatever I had.

This left me grounded and unable to go to give my poor dad a break from all the craziness. Thank God (literally) we were able to find a room at a Ronald McDonald type house across from the hospital for Dad, which cut down on his driving time.

I felt completely helpless yet absolutely unable to drive myself due to the condition I was in Wednesday.

I took magnesium glycinate Tuesday night to try to get myself to sleep but instead, it woke me up which has happened before when I took it but I had hoped wouldn’t happen again. It was horrible and I was shaking and a mess Wednesday. I was so relieved Mom’s surgery was pushed off until Thursday. Wednesday night I was able to sleep fairly well and Thursday I was able to be with Mom and actually function much better. Last night was another not-so-great night of sleep for me, but hopefully, that will get better soon.

The surgery went well and as I am writing this, Mom is sitting across from me talking to my brother on the phone.

After my sleepless night on Tuesday night, I sat in a confused stupor in a chair in our living room, watching the Anne of Green Gables movie sequel. I had watched the original earlier in the week. I sat in the chair, propped up, so all my drainage wouldn’t make me cough, dozing off for half an hour sprints and waking up to watch more of the movie.

I hated how I felt but I loved having that time to watch a movie with good memories from my past. It was very sentimental and nostalgic. I haven’t finished the second movie yet but hope to this weekend.

Homeschool was a total wash this week. Between The Boy being sick, me being sick, and my mom being in the hospital, we truly really couldn’t find time to do it. We will jump in with both feet Monday and get back on track. We are taking our time and learning through experiences and life skills this year, but are also still focused on actual curriculum. I’m trying to create a calmer, less rigid homeschool experience this year and so far it is going well. Letting go this week and accepting we won’t finish our school year when I originally wanted to was very hard, but necessary.

I am looking forward this week to continuing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with The Boy, and hopefully finishing it, and continuing The Children of The Longhouse with Little Miss.

Of course, we will also have Math and Science to delve into and they can be fun as well, but English is my jam, as some might say (though probably not in 20 years).

I’ll ramble more about what I read and watched this week on my Sunday Bookends post tomorrow, but  will say now that being able to escape into books, especially, was a welcome blessing this week.

Our weather remained warm part of this week, but the damp and gloomy days did nothing to help my cold or lift my spirits. I felt like I was walking in a dream world most of the week, but that may have been more because of the sleep deprivation than anything else. The cold weather is already returning, reminding us that it is still winter.

I hope your week was better than mine was.

Did you do anything exciting or fun? How is the weather where you are? And what are you drinking today? Hot tea, a cup of coffee, or cocoa? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to know.

(After Mom had been home for a while today, and after her nap, she asked if I would put this song on YouTube for her to listen to. She loves the lyrics and I guess it was running through her head at the hospital this morning. She began to cry as it played. Maybe it will mean something to you too.)