Thursday, September 29, 2016

If I Didn't Have To Work

Today's writing prompt is:

"10 things you would do if you didn't have to work"

Here they are in no certain order:

1. Volunteer at my son's school

2. Try my hand at crafting

3. Bake recipes that I've been wanting to try

4. Catch up on 25 yrs of pictures with scrapbooking

5. Blog on a regular basis with fun and engaging posts

6. Garden as much as possible

7. Be better at homemaking

8. Do home maintenance that's been waiting for me

9. Read all the books on my shelf I haven't had time for

10. Attempt the things I've pinned on Pinterest

Mama’s Losin’ It

Writing Prompts:
1. Write a blog post in exactly 9 lines.
2. Share a day in your life represented only in pictures and the time the pictures were taken.
3. Talk about something you learned from your child this week.
4. Find a tweet you shared last week and elaborate.
5. Write a blog post inspired by the word: mistaken.
6. 10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.

If you didn't have to work what would you do?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Paying Tribute To Pearl

A couple weeks ago our cat, Pearl, stopped eating out of the blue. I noticed a couple of times that she wasn't interested in running over to eat her soft food. What you need to know about Pearl is that she was an obnoxious cat when she decided it was time to eat. If you were sleeping, forget about it. She was hungry.

Fred took her to the vet, and her blood work showed she might have kidney disease. A couple more days went by and she still wasn't eating. I took her back to see the vet, and that's when a different vet said she thought she felt a tumor. She removed a bowl full of fluid from her belly. She also gave Pearl a pill to stimulate her appetite. It didn't work.

I had been giving Pearl milk because she was living off of water only. Aside from not eating, she seemed so normal. Let's just say I was struggling with the choice I was going to have to make. Last Tuesday I heard from the vet who had been treating Pearl, and said she talked to the other vet, and believed that it was time to let her go.

Baby kittens in 1998

Let me tell you a bit about Pearl. We got Pearl and her sister Sammy from a farm from one of my co-workers when we first moved to Minnesota. That was in spring/summer 1998. My girls each became kitty mamas. They treated their cats like babies, I kid you not! I have pictures as proof. I think because of that, they were friendly, easy going cats.

As you can see above, Pearly-girl was a cuddler. Brieanne would go to sleep with Pearl facing her, and Pearl would wrap her arm around her neck like she was hugging her. She'd walk around with Pearl on her hip or laying upside down in her arms. Her nicknames were "P", "pearly-girl", "beedle", "pearl pearl", and "beedly-bee".

I never remember her this small

In a tutu

Sammy passed away on Thanksgiving Day 2012. I can't believe it's been four years already. She'd been sick for quite some time. In March the next year, I had left our other two cats, Pearl and Simba (a stray who wandered into our home around '01-02) with my ex who then couldn't keep them so an old co-worker of mine took them for about 9 months. In December of 2013, we flew the cats to Maryland.

She was always touching

This sweet girl was never sick a day in her life. She got out one day when she was probably a year old and we lived in our house on the lake. We found her a day or two later, and she had a cut on her belly, but that was it. I honestly thought Simba would go first because he's almost died before and currently has diabetes.

Taking her to the vets last Tuesday was incredibly hard. All appearances showed that she was just fine. If she had simply eaten, I would never have taken her to the vets. After a week and a half of not eating, I just knew there was no other choice.

I was incredibly thankful my friend Denise was willing to go with me. I texted Fred to let me know because he was out of town for a few days. He informed me he was about 20 minutes away, and just wanted to be here with me. Not only that, a week later, while he was out of town again for work, he had two Origami Owl charms sent to me to remember Pearl with. That came yesterday. Also yesterday, we got a sweet card from the vet clinic with a package of forget-me-not seeds and the Rainbow Bridge "poem".

Today I had to go get medicine for Peru, our dog, and started cry at the desk. I certainly didn't expect that reaction, but I wasn't surprised. She's going to be extremely missed.

Friday, September 23, 2016


I was offered the opportunity to see this movie shortly before it came out worldwide. I didn't think I'd be able to go, but thankfully the calendar opened up and the boys and I were able to attend the preview. The exciting about this viewing was the cast was going to stream live after the show along with 18 other cities who had just watched the movie. How cool is that?!

It wasn't until about a month ago that I saw a full trailer about the movie and new I had wanted to see it. Before that I had only seen images of the movie, and didn't really know what it was about. If you're not sure of the story behind Queen of Katwe here you go:

“Queen of Katwe” is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.

For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Nyong’o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family.

This movie was so powerful! Phiona follows her brother one day, and that changes her life forever! She falls in love with chess. Not only the game does she fall in love with, but where this game can take her, and potentially her family. It blew me away how quickly she figured out how to win. Her Coach was even astonished at how quickly she was able to beat those who were "academically" above her on paper. It's clear she sees this game as a strategy, but also that helps her strategize how to help her family out of the poverty they're living in. Madina did a stellar job playing this character, and it was the first time she'd acted!

Believe it or not, Harriet is such a relatable character! At least mom to mom she was for me! I was a single mom for 8 yrs, but didn't live in the deplorable conditions they did. I would never try to compare that. Just trying to do so much on your own, the concern for your children, comparing yourself to others in your kids lives. There were a couple parts in the movie where I just wanted to hug her and say, "I know mama, I know!"

I was so glad I was able to take my boys to the movie! I would never want to hide my boys from the hardships people around the world deal with, but also the inspiration that's woven throughout the movie! They also enjoy playing chess so I thought they'd love the serious competition that comes along with the "game" part of it.

After the movie was over, I was privileged to watch a live stream with the main actors and director Mira Nair. Found out that the director lives part time in Uganda and started a family there! In fact, the crew was 30% from her film school. How cool is that?

David Oyelowo was funny with the stories he told. Many of the children had never seen a movie before, including Madina Nalwanga. The first movie they saw? Jurassic World! When they were watching the movie, she asked David, "this is what we're doing?" She was shocked! He said that he had quite the nail marks in his arms from the kids being so scared in the movie. hahahaha Madina said that the second movie she saw was Queen of Katwe being premiered in Toronto.

Lupita Nyong'o was so wonderful to listen to. She's amazingly poised and well spoken. I was so fascinated listening to her, I didn't take any notes of what she said. It was clear she loved making this movie and the people she worked with. Oh, David joked around about he walk that she adopted playing Phiona's mom.

All I can say is, Go. See. This. Movie! You will not be disappointed, and will have your heart lifted up by the great message of hope and perseverance it brings.

Have you ever learned how to play chess?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Where Hope Prevails

Where Hope Prevails
by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764217685
Publisher: Bethany House

Do you ever pick up a book, and just feel like you've reunited with an old friend? That's what it was like when I began Where Hope Prevails. I was given the opportunity to review this book by Bethany House, but what I didn't realize was, this was the 3rd book in a series. hahahaha Oops. That's what I get for my enthusiasm to read this book! It was ok because you can never go wrong with a Janette Oke novel. Her daughter Laurel Oke Logan joins her in co-authoring.

Book Summary

She leans forward for her first glimpse of the little mountain town that has captured her heart, but something has changed.
Elizabeth Thatcher's highly anticipated return to her beloved Coal Valley after a long summer with her family back east is filled with surprises . . . and not all of them good ones, in her estimation. Maybe the worst one of all relates to her treasured students. Can she adapt and learn to cope with this enormous change?

Her Mountie, Jarrick Thornton, hasn't yet proposed, but she already knows what her answer will be. His duties take him away from the valley much too often, in her view, but the two of them, with patience and understanding--and one significant misunderstanding--are learning to know each other better. 

The dark cloud looming on the horizon in Beth's mind, though, is filled with questions about where their future might take them. As a member of the RCMP, Jarrick is stationed wherever his superiors send him . . . but what about her teaching position in Coal Valley?

Beth attempts to do her best with each obstacle she faces, but does she rightly assess each situation as it surfaces? Good intentions don't always lead to good results. . . .

My Review

I absolutely loved this story! Even though I know the main character Beth is introduced in the earlier novels, which I haven't read, I felt like I already knew her. I've had the same reaction as Beth when visiting a town I haven't been to recently, and all of the trees are gone and development has come in! As Beth comes back to town, so much has changed, and her reaction would be similar to mine.

Beth faces the challenges that show up with the changes in town probably the same way I would. She hopes to marry Jarrick, but that means she needs to know how to cook. Oh dear, that can be difficult. When she meets a man who doesn't share her faith, I have to admit, I would've had the same reaction she does. Of course, because her reaction is a large part of the story, it makes me take a step back and wonder about how I respond to certain situations. Let's just say, it's a good thing she has people in her life, just like I do, to have a better attitude.

Having just been married myself, I understand the anticipation of waiting for the proposal and thoughts of planning a wedding! There's excitement and stress galore. Who doesn't love a wedding?

I'm looking forward to going back and reading the first two books. if they're anything like this one, they're books that can be read without reading the others, but flow well together as you get to know the characters along with the trials and joys they share.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Trip To Gettysburg

Shockingly, Fred and I ended up with an overnight to ourselves, so he surprised me with a getaway! First we went to celebrate my mom's birthday with her at my brother's house. We all had an amazing time, but I could tell Fred was getting antsy to get on the road. I had no clue where we were going. Sadly, my mother-in-law had accidentally mentioned where we were going as we we're heading to my brother's but I was reading something and completely missed it!

As we headed to our "destination unknown" I tried reading my book because I didn't even want to guess where we were going, and I didn't want a street sign to accidentally give it away. What I loved about this weekend was we didn't have to be anywhere by a specific time. We saw a farmer's market as we drove, and then came across an antique market. There were so many little spots along the way, but unfortunately it was late in the day and everything was closing. Fred and I have already decided we have to go back to enjoy all of the little stops.

Thankfully I made it all the way to "destination unknown" without me figuring it out! I love surprises so much, I was thrilled to make it there without it being blown! I was excited to find out Gettysburg was where we were headed. I'd never been there! We settled into our hotel room, watched the sun sent, grabbed dinner, and relaxed until we fell asleep.

Our first stop was at the Visitor's Center. We grabbed a self guided tour CD/Booklet. There are a few different options you can choose from when doing the tour on your own. You can do the one we chose, which was the $30 tour which lasts the longest, has several CDs, and comes with a great booklet. The other options are about $22 and vary in length. Now there are several things I'd like to address about the car tour and doing it on your own.

First, if you get the booklet that we had, there's a sticker that comes with the book that you're encouraged to use so that way people know why you're going slow or stopping frequently. Unfortunately, we didn't see that note until we were leaving because it's on the very last page of the book. It should be on the front page or the page with the CDs. I just though it was a special sticker that came with the book. lol I'd even suggest getting this the night before you do the full visit just to go through and read some of the history.

Second, read the inside of the tour book before you go anywhere. The cashier told Fred to start the book when we got in the car, but we didn't realize that we were supposed to listen to 2 tracks before we headed anywhere. lol We listened as we drove, but we finally just jumped forward to Stop 1 so we could match where we were stopping.

Third, expect this to last a LOT longer than 3 hours if you do anything OTHER than the book. If you stop, get out, walk around, take pictures, read plaques, interact with period characters, etc this could literally take ALL day long. Bring along a picnic and eat along the trail. There are like 1500 memorials, and you'll never have time to look at even 1/8 of them on a weekend.

Fourth, there's a QR code that if you scan it when you see it, you'll get digital content along the way. I didn't download it or experience it because there was just so much to take in with what was around us, the CD, and the book. I have no doubt the digital content would've been great, too.

Now, on to our experience...

There was and is a lot I don't know about the Battle of Gettysburg. I'm not a Civil War buff, but listening to it and learning about it as an adult is pretty fascinating. I didn't realize so many people died in such a short period of time. I also didn't realize there were so many regiments. Markers big and small represent them as you drive along.

The map in our book shows the landmarks that match along with the narration of the CD. There are 16 stops, 3 of them unmarked. At a few stops there are observation towers. Those are pretty cool to give visitors a sense of what the entire scenery and battlefield, in land, must've looked like.

Speaking of observation towers, we went up the first one at Stop 3 Oak Ridge. That's a pretty spectacular view. You can see 360 degrees and that's when I realized how many memorials there are, one right after the other! And that was just the start of our tour.

There are a lot people, especially on a holiday weekend, so just go with patience knowing people will be driving very slowly, stopping at random times in the middle of the road to take a picture, and pulling over/out at various locations. That may or may have not been us during our day.

As we were about halfway done with our tour, Fred pointed out that there are a variety of ways to take a tour:

Through the foundation:

  • guided bus tour
  • guided car tour
  • personal car tour unguided

Private companies:

  • bikes (single & tandem)
  • scooter - that would be SO fun
  • horse carriage
  • horse back - this seems heavenly

We actually saw a group on horseback, 1 horse drawn carriage, and two people on scooters. Tons of people were on bikes. Not only are you doing a winding tour of historical significance, it's absolutely beautiful countryside to drive through.

One thing I'd say was missing is a place to eat along the way. I mean, no they're not going to drop a McDonald's in the middle of this historic site, but a period restaurant in one of the houses with people dressed in period clothing, serving period food would be awesome. That way tourists wouldn't need to leave the battlefield. There is a B & B that Fred looked into, but they were booked solid.

When we got to Stop 12, Pennsylvania Memorial (right next to the 1st Minnesota Monument) they were in the process of shooting off a cannon! Wow, the power of it shooting off next to us was incredible! It was exciting to get there in time for that!

By the time we were done visiting the top of the Memorial, both of us were hungry, it was nearing 2pm, and we still had 4 official Stops left to make on the tour. We decided to head down the road before finishing, but also decided that we'd have to head back sooner than later and take the boys with us. There was just so much to do and see. I mean, we didn't even walk any of the historical area IN Gettysburg. I also wanted to go to Soldiers' National Cemetery, which is the last stop, and I believe where you hear the Gettysburg Address.

The other thing I'd like to fit into our next visit are the Free Ranger Programs. I think they change throughout the seasons, so be sure to look at the board or check out the guide before you leave to see what they have in store. There's an intense hike that would cover the 3 days of battle that you would walk in about an hour and a half. The one I was interested in was the Battlefield in a Box. It's an interactive program to get a better understanding of the battlefield.

We had an amazing time there. Definitely plan to go back. I know the boys would enjoy it immensely. We're just going to have to make an all out plan the next time we head in that direction. A full weekend is what we'll have in store!

What historic locations have you visited before?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Barns at Gettysburg

I know I probably missed a ton, but here are a few of the barns I loved from our trip to Gettysburg.

Be sure to enter your link below!

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.