Decorate your Igloo: Gratitude for My Bloom Grandparents in the Time of COVID

From the time my mother’s mom “Granny” heard my birthing cry to present texts with my grandparents-in-law and long phone calls with my dad’s parents, grandparents have been an integral part of my life. Chris and I were blessed enough to have 8 living grandparents when we married and 6 now, and I am so thankful for each of them.

My mom’s mom always known to me as Granny is an amazing lady who raised 4 kids in the turbulent 1960’s. As a proud octogenarian, she still makes time for all of her kids and grandkids and drives out to visit. I often feel like I’ve come full circle because I live in Minnesota, where she and my grandpa lived before they started their Colorado life. I have fond Minnesota visit memories from when I was a kid; I remember sliding down the stairs of her family’s former house and reveling in the green, green world of the family farm. I saw her treat her mother-in-law like her own mom. She has always enthusiastically and non judgmentally embraced new family members and potential family members. Spiritually, she inspires me with her love and faithfulness. She does devotions and journals every day and as I believe my mom says, she has God’s ear. I love spending time with her kindness and wisdom.

When I was little, my mom’s dad Grandpa Bunny would take me to the kitchen in the morning to prepare breakfast in bed for Granny: coffee, sausage, cinnamon raisin toast. We would watch the rising sun together over the foothills of Colorado. My granny recently texted me this picture so now you can experience it too.

Sunrise in the Colorado foothills

Grandpa Bunny would regale me with stories about geologic quests for gold and diamonds. One of his stories has come back to me lately. Once he was caught up in the mountains of Colorado in a blizzard and he had to build an igloo. He said that the biggest danger was not the cold or the wind – it was panic. If he panicked, he might have set out to try to make it back and died of hypothermia or contracted frostbite as happened to some of his friends. But he settled in and focused on what he could control – building the most perfect igloo he could. When he was done, he said he chose to keep working on it. He made each brick perfectly square. He kept the entrance cleared. He said he might even decorate the igloo.

Grandpa Bunny on a non-blizzard expedition with his burro Joe

I’ve never understood that story until the current blizzard of Coronavirus, financial change, and social isolation. However after a month in I do feel like I am in an igloo and the storm outside isn’t going away as fast as I would like. (In fact we are having a white Easter tomorrow!). My “igloo” is comfortable but I share it with two small needy beings so that changes the dynamic. The things I formerly relied on – work, daycare, other childcare options, the gym, restaurants, hair cuts, donuts – have largely gone away. I am left facing myself and my flaws.

I can’t control any of what is outside. What I can control is how I spend my time, decorating my igloo literally and figuratively, praying and spending time with these people I love, making lots of chalk and water color art, and taking it one Zoom meeting, one worksheet, one igloo brick at a time.

Thank you God for the gift of these amazing grandparents! And my other grandparents and grandparents in law that I will write about next time. Share your “grandparentudes” below!

A Year of Gratitudes

This year, I have struggled to develop a theme for my blog. We are already 3 months into the year and several weeks into Lent and I haven’t written a word for my blog! Now we are plunged into a new post-pandemic world and a reality that would have been unthinkable a year ago.

I am nurse, wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, in-law, writer, certified Zumba instructor, Jesus follower, Bible study leader, flute player, handball ringer, poet, storyteller, voracious reader, proud introvert, party-lover, homebody and world traveler. But one thing unites these diverse roles and interests that God has given me – gratitude. I am thankful for them! I am thankful for the people I have met through them. I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue them. I am thankful for the chances to serve and worship in these many different ways.

Most of those roles I described have changed dramatically in the past five days. School, church, and gym closed, trips cancelled, plans changed. Nonetheless I am thankful – thankful for the technology and creativity that allow us to connect and enjoy our interests in new ways.

What does gratitude mean? The technical definition from is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Gratitude is a healthy practice, increasing resilience, self-esteem, sleep, and empathy, and reducing heart disease, depression, loneliness, pain, and resentment.

Does that sound like a good idea to anyone right now in this time of anxiety and isolation?

Gratitude is a spiritual practice reminding us of our place in the world and God’s generous gifts to us. Look at King David. “Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to thee; thou art my God, I will extol thee.” (Psalm 118: 28). “I give thanks to thee, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify thy name forever.” (Psalm 86:12). “I will give thanks to thee, O Lord, among the peoples, I will sing praises to thee among the nations.” (Psalm 108:3).

Look at Paul’s letters. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3). “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” (Romans 1:8).”I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” (Philemon 1:4).

Do you save your gratitude for Thanksgiving? Do you wait to express appreciation until the end of the event, the end of the year, until a going-away party? What if we have proactive gratitude? What if we appreciate that we have water in the glass, whether it is half full or half empty? What if we say thank you now, to those before us?

Each moment of gratitude is a pearl. Don’t let them slip away! Store them for later in a journal or a jar, give them to your friends and families and coworkers with spoken words or notes, and reflect on and savor them. Gratitude helps us see what we already have.

What “pearls” do you already own?

In her book Traveling Mercies, Annie Lamott says “Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’” I look forward to saying and praying a lot of thank yous this year… and I hope you’ll join me.

Share a pearl of gratitude below!

Wrapping up the Year of Scarves

Well despite my best efforts I didn’t wear that many scarves this summer. The warm season in Minnesota is such a short precious time that I just enjoyed not having to bundle. Now we are in full bundle mode again!

First of all, I want to acknowledge that this hasn’t been the easiest year for some of my favorite people. Several dear friends and family members have faced challenging cancer journeys. They have put on scarves of courage as they face challenge, pain, and loss. My love and prayers are with you and I wish I could knit you all a scarf to show you how much I love you.

I do have a few last scarves to share… first I want to show you a delightful from my friend Sami , an infinity scarf the copper color of fall leaves. I believe the technical color was “kombucha” which I also love! It matches my son nicely 😀

Here are myself and Sami and 3/5 of the littles!

Even at Halloween in Minnesota, we know “Winter is Coming.” I used a few scarves to spice up my costume…

Here’s our fantasy-tastic family with a Savanicorn, Jon Snow, Danaerys mother of dragons, and the cutest little dragon ever. I am wearing the white pashmina I wore at my wedding – very versatile! And I needed it, we had another brrrrr Halloween this year.

Last but not least, we visited family in Virginia at Thanksgiving…. and got to see family from France! Chris’s great aunt Fay flew in for a delightful reunion.

She brought us some lovely goodies from France, including a lovely ruffled pink scarf por moi!

I have really enjoyed wearing all the scarves this year. Scarves ARE love, whether knit or bought on Amazon or brought from far away. As we approach Christmas and New Years, I have wrapped myself in a scarf of hope and friendship, and am praying for all my friends and family as we continue on the new adventure of 2020.

Scarves and books

In a recent post, I talked about my bookscarf – the beautiful scarf my thoughtful husband got for me with the word of Lucy Maude Montgomery prompted upon it. So in this post, I am talking about scarf books. Or rather, knitting books.

This sweet and lovely book, “Extra Yarn,” talks about Annabelle and her magical box of colorful yarn. She manages to to knit scarves for everyone in town, including all the animals, and all the buildings. Spoiler alert: an evil archduke steals her box, but finds all it contains is a pair of knitting needles. And of course the box finds its way back to her. In Annabelle’s hands, this is the in-Pandora’s box, a box of goodness helping humanity one stitch at a time. And I love this picture – everyone connected to each other by yarn.

Because yarn is love!

This little phonics book starts with Nan the mouse, alone and knitting in her store until she takes pity on some chilly insects and knits them underpants. Soon she gains a lucrative second career in undergarments for various bugs.

We all have our gifts to share and these books celebrate how precious those gifts can be to both ourselves and others, and how they can transform a community.

Whatever we make – scarves, hat, art, donations, stories – is our gift. It may not go very far. It may be imperfect, scraggly, tiny. With practice, it will get better. Like underpants for ants, it may seem silly. Like a sweater for a house, it may seem unnecessary. But never underestimate the power of a gift.

Wearing the Green

St. Patrick’s Day is here and it’s time to wear green… scarves, that is! Get ready because I have a lot of green scarves. Although I don’t know of any Irish ancestry on either side, I have green eyes, a May birthday (emeralds!), was married at Emerald Valley Ranch, have a strawberry blond child, and can’t wait to visit the Emerald Isle, so I feel fully entitled to wear green on 3/17 or any day.

My mother just sent me this delightful book called “How to Tie a Scarf: 33 Styles” and I decided to experiment a bit. Here is the book and the Copenhagen style with my “rain forest tapestry” scarf:

I got this next scarf in Wabasha, a little town on the Mississippi River, at a church’s Christmas bazaar. I believe it was $8.00 – I just couldn’t pass it up! I love the ombré-green patches and generous fringe.

And now for a literary interlude – a “linterlude?” One of my very favorite authors of all time is Lucy Maude Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and also one of my favorite books, the beautiful romance The Blue Castle. My thoughtful husband bought me this scarf, which has a passage from Anne of Green Gables written on it. Incidentally, Anne and her red hair would look amazing in it.

My new scarf book encourages wearing scarves all year, changing style depending on the weather. Here is a light infinity scarf with some pleasant shading paired with a SLEEVELESS (!!!) shirt. My arms almost fell off from the chill, but I survived thanks to my insulated neck. I believe I got the scarf from a friend who was purging her closet.

My love for scarves has rubbed off; as you can see below, my daughter wears her new St. Patty’s scarf everywhere. Here we are for the St. Patrick’s Day dinner at church, where we enjoyed coddle, Irish soda bread and home-brewed root beer. Here’s to green beer, cabbage, family, and friends – Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I’ve Got the Blues(carves)

If you’re reading this from almost anywhere else in the country you may be wondering – “Why are you still talking about scarves?” Because it’s still winter here, friends! At Bible study, we were talking about the winter blues… we are ready for it to be done already. If you have Season Affective Disorder, this has been a particularly challenging year.

At least it is getting warmer! Personally I prefer about 20 and above. This is a picture from when it was colder than that and I wore my “serious coat.” Full-length, Lands End… a bit like wearing a sleeping bag. The perfect time to wear my “shades of blue” scarf, another recycle from a friend. I love the delicate texture and the playful pom poms on the end . And as you can see, I have a little scarf buddy, wearing a scarf my grandma gave me.

We are in the liturgical season of Lent and I gave up Facebook. For the first few days I kept scrolling through my screen, looking for that familiar blue app. It is amazing how much time I spent on Facebook! Certainly I miss the connectedness with far-away friends, but I am enjoying the ability to be more present.

Back to scarves… I can’t remember where I got this giant comfortable scarf but I love it. It is perfect for wearing into work with my scrubs on a cold day.

Blue is everywhere at work. In fact, there is a particular shade we call “Mayo blue” used for signs and posters. When I worked in the hospital I wore baby scrubs; now in outpatient I wear royal blue. Blue is a great scrub color since it is fairly gender-neutral and most people look good in it. (Some would day everyone looks equally bad in it but I disagree.)

Today I am thankful for another blue – blue skies. I got to wear my “spring coat” today. The snow softens to slush on the roads. The days lengthen and the sun is warm. Yesterday we went cross country skiing for the first time this year and nobody felt cold.

Pastel spring peeps

quietly from a snow-laced


Monochromatic in Minnesota

Since we moved to Minnesota ten years ago, every winter has been different. Some we remember for the snow until May, or bitter cold at Halloween; some were so snow-light that we couldn’t ski. This one will be remembered for the unending snow. I was thinking “I’d love to curl up by the fire, drink cocoa and read The Long Winter… but I’m too busy shoveling.”

Fortunately I love snow. I love how it resets the world like a blank page. I love the different kinds of snow, the light dry fine snow, the dense blizzard snow, the crystalline sugar snow. It reminds me of my grandmother-in-law who loved to watch it snow. Now that she’s in heaven, I think of her fondly whenever I look out and see it falling.

This winter faked us out. One day we were playing on the playground:

And then it started snowing and never stopped. Every 2-3 days, a little snow, or a lot, or a blizzard.

So yes, Minnesota has been more monochromatic than many years. White snow, dark trees, gray sky.

Gray like the ashes of Ash Wednesday. This blog began as a Lenten exercise many years ago. If Lent were a color don’t you think it would be gray? The somber music, the recognition of our sinfulness.

I once thought gray was boring but I have warmed up. Gray and silver are the color of experience, of something precious. They gray clouds cover the blue sky but for a time. Gray clouds yield rainbows.

Here are a couple gray scarves I acquired from friends who were purging their wardrobes. This was prerfecf for a chic Chik fil a drive through date (drive through because small kids and Minnesota weather!)

I mentioned that some scarves are soft, some rub you the wrong way… this one below is beautiful but abrasive. I love it anyway 🙂

So as we approach the season of Lent, preparing for the joy of Easter, I am reveling in all things gray. I am ready to give up Facebook for 40 days (I think). I am ready to focus.

I often don’t wear scarves because it bothers me when things don’t match. The scarf below went with a hat that matched and has now been lost forever. It is the softest snuggliest scarf so I thought I would pair it with this fantastic sweater that my parents brought me from Peru. If you look closely you can see the llamas!

It’s OK when things don’t match exactly. It’s OK to enjoy these shades of gray. It’s OK not to enjoy them… this too will pass.

Before we know it the buds will be on the trees, and the green grass will be poking through the snow. I pray that you enjoy this solemn season of Lent in anticipation of the joy of Easter.