Monday, July 26, 2010

The Garden Party

You may have noticed a lack of garden project posts lately.  What I had anticipated being a weekly post project which would inspire me to work on my yard weekly has not in fact inspired me at all and my yard is as pathetic as ever.  This year we do have something a little different in July, my grass is still green.  Normally in July the rain is scarce and my grass turns brown and hard.  If that was the the summer we were having I would not have been able to host a family tea party for all the women in my family.

Tea parties have become something of a tradition for the Wolfe women usually happening in the fall.  The first one was a celebration of my birthday and it was so much fun it has become a tradition.  With my sister in town from Atlanta with her 4 girls we felt we needed to share our tradition with her and her girls.  I said I would host.

Normally the end of July is pretty hot and deciding to do an outdoor tea party can be risky.  It was sunny and cool the day I decided to do it but I was definitely re-thinking as I was planning it in 90+ degree heat one day.  In the end the weather was perfect.  The corner of my yard near the swing set is in the shade most of the afternoon and so I set up tables there.  I set out fans for everyone should they get hot but we had a perfect breeze the whole afternoon which both kept us cool and kept the bugs away. I could not have ordered more perfect weather.

So there we were amidst the weeds

the over grown grass

and the junk next to the garage.

Isabelle helped me set up the tables in the morning. 

She chose just the right fans for everyone's place.

The kitchen got busy with wonderful food preparations as everyone arrived.

The kids sat at one table donning my collection of hats.

(the oldest and youngest of the little girls)

And the adults sat at another table chatting away.

It was a lovely afternoon tea in the garden with the wonderful women of my family.

Turns out a beautiful garden tea party is not the result of a beautiful garden but a beautiful group of women coming together to share life

and have a little fun.

With 3 other bloggers in the group all with their own cameras I hope to add links here, here and here as they post their own impressions of the party. hint, hint, hint.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sunday in the Park

We went to the park Sunday.  Isabelle had been begging to go there most of the day.  At one point my social butterfly of a daughter says to me in exacerbation, "EVERYONE is there!"  Finally I am ready to walk to the park.  When we arrive Isabelle is shocked to discover nobody is there.  I am not.

Yes, on a sunny day in May when we are all suffering from cabin fever, haven't seen our neighbors in months, desperate to breath fresh air and delirious from lack of vitamin D, you will indeed find the EVERYONE at the park.

But, in the middle of July having caught up with our neighbors, spent several days basking in the sun, biking, swimming and experiencing the beautiful summer weather, this is just another routine summer day.

And that is the best part of summer.  The routine.  Simply being in summer and experiencing the dailiness of it all.  Soon enough it will be over and winter will come again but the memories of these lazy summer days will get us through.

In the mean time Isabelle decided she didn't really want to play alone at the park so we went back home and she headed to a neighbors house to play instead and I took a book to the gazebo for the afternoon.  It was a good day.

Monday, July 19, 2010


I am not sure what it says about me that my mom was up on a fad that I knew nothing about.  But I guess when you are the grandmother of 10, soon to be 11, grandchildren you pick up a few things along the way.  Like when you visit your grandchildren in Atlanta and notice they are obsessed with silly bandz.

She bought a thing of them for Isabelle the other day.  I had no clue what they were, had never seen or heard of them.  They certainly looked "silly" to me.  She puts a bunch on Isabelle and I think they look ridiculous.  My order driven daughter proceeds to spread them out across her entire arm because she can't handle the mess of them bunched up.  She shows absolutely no signs of knowing what they are.  As we watch Isabelle spread them along her arm I suggest to my mom that they might not be right for Isabelle.

Yet in the car half way home it is like something clicks in her brain.  Oh wait!  Did you say Silly Bandz?!  Turns out her friends at the YMCA have silly banz.  Suddenly she knows what they are and is all excited to have them, can't wait to go to the Y tomorrow and show her friends.  The next day neighbors are over and now Isabelle is trading with them.  Even the boys seem to have them.  And when my homeschooled 8 year old niece came over she immediately knew what they were and clearly wanted them.  There is no hiding our children from these things!

This incident has me thinking about the next several years.  This fall she goes to school.  And if the silly band incident is any indication, we won't be bypassing future fads for years to come. 

I am seeing the next 13 years flash in front of me and envisioning the arguments about how much she NEEDS $200 jeans, is the only one that has never been to Disney world, ALL of her 8 year old friends have their own phones, and whatever crazy contraptions gets well marketed to her generation which she must have.

But let's face it, at 39 years old I am still watching the fads myself.  What are the latest colors to paint houses?  Flooring trends?  Are my shorts the right length?  Are these shoes the right style?  Purse? jewelry? Furniture?  I want $200 jeans, a trip to Disney World and a more gadgety phone.

Maybe it isn't so bad.  I am growing a friend to share these things with.  Someone to shop with and share common interests.

Not that Jake wasn't into fads when he was a kid but Pokemon was about as far as my girly brain was willing to take me into his world.  And frankly, I have no idea how any of his x-box games are played and no desire to learn.  I try to keep up with his fads but I am not part of them.

Somedays I look at my overly dramatic, high pitched talking, whining, tantruming little girl and wonder what I am supposed to do with her but as she grows I am starting to see little glimmers of the future in which we can have fun being girls together.  I love my mother/son bond but now I am starting to dream of a future mother/daughter bond and all we will share together.

In the mean time I am having fun watching Isabelle be silly with her silly bandz and glad for my mother, our mother/daughter bond and her continue eye on the fads.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Wolfiness of the Wolfe

Today I had a wonderful afternoon drinking Caribou Coolers while walking around a lake and talking with my son about deep biblical truths. 

As we chatted I was enjoying our conversation and asked Jake to expand upon the topic as guest post for all of you.  I will note that Jake references a book I have been talking about writing for so many years Jake and John actually thought it was a real book and only recently discovered that it is all in my head and I have in fact not even written the first line.

And a little biblical background.  I am reading the book, "Paul" by Charles Swindoll and today's chapter was on how the idea of independence isn't really a biblical concept.  In fact "God helps those who help themselves" is nowhere in the bible.  And my reading today talked about how Paul had to humble himself and rely on other people in his life and ministry after his conversion many times.  We are not the master's of our own destiny but in fact are dependant on God to direct our actions and the circumstances of our lives.

Jake's thoughts:

Hello! So, I'm not too bad at coming up with interesting thoughts, but what I am bad at is remembering them, so this might be pretty different from what Mom got out of me in the first place. But we'll see.

Anyway, so on our walk Mom was talking about how children bond with their mother until they are around two years old, and then boys will start to disengage with their mother and bond with their father, who is their same-sex parent. I then made a comment about girls of this era starting to disengage with their 'old-fashioned' mother because they're being taught to be their own person. Anyway, she then got on the topic of independence and it not being a biblical concept. I made the comparison to a scientific viewpoint, looking at a wolf pack.

Wolves are actually strikingly similar to humans in this field. Wolves, for those who are unaware, are pack-mentality animals, who mate for life, have an established male leader and his mate, or alpha pair, and have established and essential duties in the pack. Humans, which I will refer to as animals for comparison's sake, are community-based animals, who generally mate for life, generally have a family patriarch or matriarch of sorts and specialize in fields to advance the species. However, the political climate of late is discouraging many of those criteria.

Mating for life is being considered anywhere from inconvenient to suppression of women's rights, and the quest for independence of person is discouraging community of families and family heads. Scientifically, this makes little sense, much less biblically. Mom can elaborate more on the biblical basis for this, but looking at the human race, there is very little in the way of large-scale important accomplishment that is done by one person working entirely on their own.

Looking at a wolf pack's hunting strategy, one observes that each wolf has a specialized task in taking down the prey. There are slow and powerful wolves that stir up the herd and get them running. There are the sprinters, who identify the old, sick, or otherwise slower animals and catch up to attack and slow down the prey animal further for the final take down.

Similarly, humanity must work together to accomplish things. In Mom's New Family Farm (which is not already a book), an example of humanity doing so in the past is the old family farm, with the older men, the fathers and patriarchs, managing the farm, teaching, and organizing, the younger men, sons and hired hands, learning from the older and planting, harvesting, etc. and the women making sure the men have the energy to get these things done by feeding them, as well as making sure the house is prepared for the tired men to relax after the day's work is done. This is a little hard to translate to modern society, as currently family roles are children going to school or day care and both parents working a full time job. This is, I think, the purpose of Mom's book; reconciling the busy life of a modern family and the independent spirit of American culture to the interdependent nature of humanity.

Back to Me again:

I love how Jake has been able to define my book so concisely when I feel like I still don't even know how to define it.  I asked him if he could now write it for me as well.

Would have loved if he had given a shot at applying it to biblical principles but I guess that is for another day.

Actually my final thought on the topic is how my family of origin is the "wolfe" family and when you think through how a wolf pack works together and is inter dependant on each other for survival and then think about my family and the name as well as how we are such a bonded family that does work well together and how we are all very different people but how important each one of us is in the success of the family as a whole and of each individual.  None of us could succeed on our own.  It is a beautiful thing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

keeping myself entertained

Yes I finally gave my blog a new look.  I never really did like the old one but I just got stuck on it.  Not sure I am totally in love with this one either, we will see how long I stay with it. 

I would love if someone would tell me how to make my sub-title centered. 

And you would think somehow I would purposely take updated pictures of folly and crisis together for this blog but NO.  I have nothing of them together since last winter.  So sad.  During the 3 days Jake will be home this week before leaving for another week and a half I will endeavor to get a good one of them to spice the header back up.

Like all the roads around here and really all of life, my blog layout is a work in progress.  Hopefully I will finish this before they finish 35W.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Acting content

This past weekend I read the book, "Stop Acting Rich and Start Living Like a Millionaire."  It is written by the same guy who wrote "The Millionaire Next Door" and basically says many of the same things but with updated data.

It is amazing how much of life is really about the search for contentment.  As I shared what I was reading with John throughout the weekend he commented how the book was really about contentment.  Those who are content with their lives and with who they are.  They don't define success by what everyone else is doing, what the truly rich are doing or by what the want-to-be rich are doing.  They march to the beat of their own drummer and the book found they are as happy if not happier than those of us trying to keep up with the Jones by pretending to have what we don't actually have, wealth.

Chapter after chapter in the book sites research that people who have a true net worth over $1,000,000 (not including their homes), live in modest homes, drive modest cars, drink cheap alcohol, wear modest clothes and watches, have never owned a boat or a vacation home.  They live below their means.

While I like to think that I am my own person and not given to do what others do I would be lying to say that I haven't spent my fair share of time and money trying to look wealthier than I actually am.  Trying to put on an air of success that I don't actually have.  And what has it gotten me but a net worth well below what it should be for my age, stress and a lack of financial security.  Pretending to be well off has never made me happy or content.

John and I went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University a few years ago and it has totally changed how we approach our money, our ability to discuss our finances and our confidence that we can get ahead.  And while there is definitely a re-ordering of your priorities in FPU it has a large practical side teaching about budgeting and whatnot.  This book is all about changing the way you think, what you prioritize and giving you a sense of what real financial security looks like.  Not necessarily glitzy but perfectly happy and content.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Restful Contentment

I am further contemplating contentment and have come across what I believe to be yet another component of living a content life.  Rest, slowing down and being in the moment.  Yes those are the good days.  When I do that.  When I experience my life instead of rushing through it.  When in the middle of running around trying to clean, sending emails, paying bills, planning events, I stop, sit down and have a tea party with my daughter.  I love days when Isabelle and I stop in the afternoon for our tea parties. When we sit at the table and I just look at her and listen. I don't think about what else I could be doing or the troubles of life but rest, enjoy my tea and my time with my daughter. We pray together for our treat and I thank God for such a precious gift of my daughter and time to spend with her.

I am constantly reminded of that moment on the top of Nzambani Rock in Kenya.  When we had gotten up there, taken pictures, looked around and I was ready to head down.  That is how I live my life.  Come, do, see, go.  I am constantly checking things off a list. 

Yet there up on top of that rock in Kenya I realized for the first time what I was missing.  I was living life but not experiencing it.  There is no pausing, dwelling, watching, observing, being.  I just sat down and let that moment wash over me.  I was present observing God's amazing world.

How much of life do I miss because I am not really paying attention?  How much am I doing but not experiencing? 

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Resting not just in stopping but also resting in the midst of all we are doing.  Experiencing God's rest in our souls no matter what our circumstances.  Being at rest when I can't rest.  Being at rest when there is no escaping my life, infertility, financial difficulties or whatever trial I am facing that day.  Knowing I can turn to God and he will give me that rest I need to continue walking my path.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Independence day resting

This weekend was all about relaxing.  Rest from everyday life.  Spending time with the family.

We started off Saturday afternoon spending the day at my Uncle's lake home on Chisago Lake.  It was the usual family fun with good food, boating, time with family and relaxing.

I had asked John the day before what he really enjoyed doing in his spare time.  I told him the answer wasn't "nothing".  But as I watched him laying on the beach alone while I was chatting up on the hill above him I realized that the answer really was "nothing" for him.  He really loves to just do nothing.  Maybe someday many years from now he will get all his nothing out of his system and decide to do something but I have decided to embrace my husband's love of nothing.

Our plan for the weekend was to head up to the family farm property which my Uncle now owns, stay over night and then get on the Gandy Dancer bike trail a couple miles from the farm.  Well we did go stay overnight at the farm but we knew before we got there our biking plans were in danger.  Sure enough we woke up to rain the next morning which didn't quit until after lunch.  Although we didn't see more rain after that the menacing clouds remained and the bike trip was canceled.  Still it was a wonderful time of doing what John loves most, nothing.

Looking for the best rocks.
The cows in the background.  We watched them eat the grass for quite a while before they wandered off.
Note Tom's vineyard to the left.
Grandpa's barn.  Sold now to a new farmer.
The new "barn" and bunk house for the vineyard.
Some of the trees planted 50 years ago by Grandpa and the family.
Marking the years.
Catching a frog on our walk.
There it goes.
Following the frog to water.
Isabelle's version of doing nothing during the rain.
John's version.