Unicorns, a Bowling Ball and Bri Reads…Day 57

Last week was the 27th annual auction at my daughters school, Zion Lutheran. On-line this year due to COVID-19, my family of three walked away with some interesting items! My daughter was thrilled with the Unicorn Basket we won. Filled with a variety of unicorn themed books and a delightful stuffed unicorn, the basket is a little girl’s dream. My husband is looking forward to his winning item, “Pop Corn For a Year,” from a local specialty pop corn shop. And what did the Noteworthy Mommy end up with…a hot pink bowling ball! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but I was the only one who bid on it. Now all I need is a case and a pair of bowling shoes and I will look like a professional bowler! Notice how I said I would “look like,” not “play like,” a professional! In all seriousness, even though it had to be virtual this year, the auction was a lot of fun. The bidding resulted in over $42,000 raised for our amazing school and a possible new hobby for the Noteworthy Mommy!

Unicorns have been coveted for centuries by little girls all over the world, even a tomboy like me loved them as a child. I remember the unicorn fad in the 80’s. I had unicorns on my sweater, unicorns on my stickers and unicorns on my Trapper Keeper! Unicorns have been around forever and have only gained in popularity over the years.

Unicorn Cookies– My husband discovered that Nestle made “unicorn chips.” We followed the cookie recipe on the back of the bag. The result, similar to chocolate chip cookies, was colorful and super sweet!

Unicorn Books– There are many wonderful books about unicorns and our favorites are Thelma the Unicorn and the sequel, The Return of Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey. CLICK HERE to listen to Blabey read his book. We also love the book, Unicorn (And Horse) by David Miles. These engaging books teach children to learn to love who they are. Some days we feel like unicorns and want to wear a little sparkle and some days we prefer to be plain like a horse. It’s our differences that make us unique!

Bri Reads– While in isolation we discovered Bri and her animated story telling! Bri is an educator, actor and dynamic storyteller that my daughter simply adores. Some of her videos are on YouTube, but I encourage you to go to her webpage at www.brireads.com and sign up to gain free access to her entire library. Along with professional readings of favorite children’s books, she has original songs and drawing lessons! One of our favorite videos is Unicorn (And Horse) by David Miles. Since it’s release, just a week ago, my daughter has asked to watch it every night before bed. If you like unicorns you have to watch! CLICK HERE I want to thank Bri for bringing us sunshine on some of our darkest days in quarantine.

What Are You Watching? (The Shows That Helped Me Through the Quarantine)… Day 56

During this time of isolation many people have asked for binge worthy viewing suggestions to get them through the quarantine. I have a five year old so much of my screen time, if any, has been filled with cartoons like “My Little Pony,” “Llama, Llama,” and “PJ Masks.”

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist– There is one show that I began watching during the pandemic that I simply can’t get enough of. It’s a quirky little show filled with immense talent, popular music, emotion and a love triangle! This extraordinary show is “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The series is a comedy-drama about a young women named Zoey who can hear the inner most thoughts and desires of the people around her through song and musical numbers. The viewers get to know the people in Zoey’s life through these musical messages. You may be thinking, “this show’s not for me,” but I encourage you to give it a chance. After the second episode I became a fan.

Although “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” won’t become a mainstream classic, spending years upon years in syndication, it was there for me when I needed an escape. This little show got me to think outside of myself and made me forget COVID-19 and all of life’s new challenges for a few minutes at the end of the day. This feel-good show, with musical numbers, also contains an emotionally charged storyline that made me care about the characters on the screen. The series gave me something to look forward to on days that seemed never ending. And that’s why this Noteworthy Mommy hopes this extraordinary show, with plenty of heart, gets renewed for a second season!

All Rise– This courtroom drama about a newly appointed judge who pushes expectations and boundaries, premiered in the fall and I began watching shortly after. This series gives the viewer a look at the personal lives of the judges, lawyers and clerks, who fight for justice for the people of Los Angeles in an often flawed legal process.

When COVID-19 shut down television studios, “All Rise,” filmed a creative episode virtually. Titled “Dancing at Los Angeles,” we find our beloved characters experiencing a mandatory shelter-in-place order. Through Zoom like screens, the viewers get to see how the characters are coping with isolation, their lives being affected by COVID-19 much like ours. We find a clerk, who after being furloughed, takes on a part time job as a Shipt Shopper, see a daughter worrying about the health and safety of her high risk mother and view two friends having a virtual happy hour with wine in hand at the end of the day. We see characters spending more time in their kitchens, finding lost letters while cleaning out closets and navigating relationships while social distancing. Some are passing their time by exercising while others experience sleepless nights. That’s where the on-line nighttime DJ comes in. With his music and commentary, he weaves the story line together. Images of a desolate Los Angeles reminds us how our major cities, once bustling with people, now contain empty streets during the pandemic. As the characters make an attempt to conduct a bench trial virtually, we are reminded of the adaptations those fortunate enough to work from home have made during this time. Being the first drama series to be produced remotely, with actors filming everything from their own homes, this episode is historic in many ways.

The Masked Singer– Perhaps the most frivolous of  shows is“The Masked Singer.” With a majority of season 3 airing during the isolation, this is a show my daughter and I can enjoy together. A singing game show where celebrities disguise themselves under elaborate costumes with big ridiculous heads, it is the perfect cure to another day spent in isolation. This season is filled with the unimaginable. Seeing Sarah Palin unmasked as the technicolor bear who sang Sir Mix-a-Lots, “Baby Got Back,” will either make you laugh out loud or make you shake your head in disbelief at what our world has succumb to.

THE MASKED SINGER

What are your favorite shows to watch? Have you gotten interested in a new series?Leave your comments below. I promise not to judge. I hope you are being thoroughly entertained as you find something that helps you escape from the world (if only for 60 minutes) during this time of uncertainty.

 

A Social Distancing Mother’s Day Weekend…Days 54 and 55

I never imagined a time where we would have to social distance from one another to stay safe and well. A time when my extended family would find ourselves unable to gather around the dining room table to enjoy good food, fellowship and hugs! This Mother’s Day weekend looked a bit different, but it was filled with love and happy surprises and I can’t think of anything better than that!

I am blessed to have the sweetest, most supportive mother in the world! She taught me the faith, loves me and has never tried to change me. She continues to be my biggest cheerleader!

Three generations enjoying the backyard fried chicken picnic, with all the fixings, we had for my mother on Saturday. My daughter bought pink daises for her Nana.

Visiting Maw Maw on Mother’s Day and delivering her an afternoon tea.

I want to remember all of the mothers in my life, past and present, who helped raise and nurture me, who inspire me, teach me and support me. The women who make me a better person and through their unconditional love, have taught me how to be a good mother to my daughter.

My daughter looking at the pictures of the important mothers in our lives, both past and present. My dad made an outdoor display for our outdoor Mother’s Day celebration

 

I also want to recognize all the mOTHERS in our lives. Women who are not mothers in the traditional sense but are strong, beautiful role models for me and for my daughter. My daughter is blessed to have two amazing women she lovingly calls “aunt” and “auntie” and although they are not part of our family tree, they are our family and we love them so very much!

I know Mother’s Day isn’t a joyous day for everyone. For some there is great sorrow and loss. Others feel an emptiness as they yearn to become a mother and many are fighting a battle with infertility. I understand, I have been there and have experienced the pain.

Mother’s Day Tea Cups– When I taught kindergarten I had my students cut and color this paper tea cup for their mothers. A single tea bag was placed inside. My daughter created some special tea cups for her grandmothers.

Mother’s Day S’mores– We enjoyed a s’mores bar at our outdoor Mother’s Day picnic for my mother. My husband built a fire (he is an Eagle Scout) and we roasted marshmallows! Look at the variety of menu choices!

Mother’s Day Tea– A local tea shop, The London Tea Room, offered a special carry out Mother’s Day Tea, for two, with sweet and savory goodies to make for a proper afternoon tea. Complete with Laura Ashley tea cups, plates, tea pot and cloth napkins, we knew this would be a wonderful gift for my mother-in-law! As an avid tea lover, she is responsible for my love of tea parties. My in-laws have enjoyed several trips to London and planned to return this summer. Unfortunately, COVID 19 cancelled their trip. A huge thank you to The London Tea Room for bringing a taste of London to Missouri!

Tea for Two– My daughter and I enjoyed a mother/daughter tea after a virtual church service filled with beautiful Easter hymns. Our table was set with my butterfly meadow tea set and a variety of delectable delights. My little one discovered a new found love for scones and lemon curd. While we dined and talked of future tea parties after the virus, my mini me explained, “This is delightful!” This Noteworthy Mommy couldn’t agree more!

 

 

 

 

“If I Were a Butterfly”…Days 52 and 53

We ended our school week with two days of discovering insects and learning about the life cycle of the butterfly. The weather was sunny, windy and cool, so we spent time playing on the play set in our backyard, flying a kite and going on scooter rides. On Friday, we spread our wings and “Lived Generously” by putting some used books on our front porch to share with neighbors and by sneaking out of the house to deliver surprises to the dedicated teachers in my daughter’s life.

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The Butterfly Song, (If I Were a Butterfly)– When I was in college I taught kindergarten Sunday School at my church. My class loved singing  The Butterfly Song and requested it when we went to music class with Mrs. Becker. Some twenty-seven years later, I have found memories of singing the song and remember all of the motions Mrs. Becker taught us. I was thrilled when my daughter’s teacher sang it with her class during virtual circle time this month. I have taught my daughter all three verses but you can leave out some of them to make the song shorter. CLICK HERE to listen to the song and CLICK HERE to go to the official The Butterfly Song website.

THE BUTTERFLY SONG
(If I Were a Butterfly)
Words and Music by Brian M. Howard
If I were a butterfly
I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings
If I were a robin in a tree
I’d thank you Lord that I could sing
If I were a fish in the sea
I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee
But I just thank you Father for making me, meCHORUS
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

The Very Hungry Caterpillar– Perhaps the most beloved children’s book in my collection, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, turned 51 years old this year! I first shared the book with my daughter when she was a few days old, so when it came to studying caterpillars and butterflies, we just had to read it multiple times! We also enjoyed watching Eric Carle’s 1993 animated short, based on the book. When I taught kindergarten I used to show it to my students. (on VHS tape) CLICK HERE to watch the film. We enjoyed making some caterpillar art by dipping a cup in paint and adding additional detail with markers.

We also made a caterpillar out of a paper towel tube and fed him the corresponding colored tiles while retelling the story. We used the cards from this webiste in our retelling and added dice and a color spinner to invent our own math game!

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Butterfly Symmetry Art– After folding a piece of construction paper in half and cutting out a caterpillar shape, we decorated it to look like a caterpillar, opened it up and it unveiled a butterfly! We talked about symmetry and painted on one side of the wings, folding the paper in half to discover upon opening it back up, that the other side looked exactly the same! My daughter really enjoyed this activity so we made some extras to give to her Nana and Maw Maw for Mother’s Day. CLICK HERE to view a demonstration.

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From “Caterpillar to Butterfly” and a Pop-Up Flower Shop…Day 51

During the seven years l taught kindergarten, one of my favorite things to do with my class was to order Painted Lady caterpillars from Insect Lore. My students and I enjoyed watching these teeny, tiny caterpillars grow and change; first into a chrysalis’ and then transform themselves into beautiful butterflies! It amazes me that the entire metamorphosis took a mere 3 to 4 weeks!

The caterpillars in my daughter’s classroom have all changed into chrysalises and her teacher placed them into the butterfly net. The caterpillar cam has been turned off, for now, as the metamorphosis begins. While we wait, my daughter and I continued our study of butterflies with some exciting activities. Our day ended with back yard play and an impromptu pop up flower shop in the backyard.

A Butterfly Garden– After completing the Scholastic Learn From Home module “From Caterpillar to Butterfly,” we went outside and planted some wildflowers that are supposed to attract butterflies. My daughter loves the dirt and is looking forward to watering her flowers everyday.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar Yoga”– There are extensive benefits of doing yoga with children! Yoga improves their physical, mental, emotional and social health. From helping to balance energy levels and calming the nervous system, to building sensory awareness, flexibility and balance, yoga is simply amazing! My daughter needs to develop these skills so doing activities like yoga do not come naturally and it’s difficult to get her to do it without a fight! Her teacher recommended Cosmic Yoga, engaging story based yoga for kids presented by storyteller, Jaime Amor. My daughter was resistant at firs, but after awhile, to my great surprise, she began to request Cosmic Yoga! Amor has created yoga stories for just about any theme you can think of. From “The Wizard of Oz,” to “Star Wars,” to “Frozen,” everyone will find something they like! CLICK HERE to do “Very Hungry Caterpillar” yoga.

Pattern Block Creations– We used pattern blocks to create caterpillars and then we made symmetrical butterflies. We also played a symmetry game found here. Young children have a strong intuitive sense of symmetry. Research shows that knowing symmetry helps us learn things like graphing, understanding negative numbers and how to simplify complex information.

Pop-Up Flower Shop– Being an only child my daughter effectively plays independently and benefits greatly from child-directed, free play opportunities. One of her favorite places to play, during the quarantine, is in our backyard. Today she created an impromptu flower shop after gathering wildflowers in the field behind our house. She got plastic containers out of her water play toys and used them as vases. She used her toy phone to talk to customers and solicited me as her number one customer! I gladly joined in and helped direct her imaginative play. I asked the following questions…How much do the flowers cost? What is the name of her shop? Can she created mixed bouquets? I provided paper and crayons and encouraged her to create a menu for her shop, listing the prices for her various creations. By guiding her play, I was able to introduce new vocabulary and incorporate literacy skills in a fun, engaging way. CLICK HERE to read a short article about the benefits of adult guidance in play (or learning).

Happy Half-Birthday and “The State of Arizona, (Ditat Deus), God Enriches”…Day 50

Today is my daughter’s half-birthday and although I find it hard to believe, she is now 5 1/2 years old! As a child I never celebrated half-birthdays but it is something we started when she was a 1/2 year old (6 months) and have now made it a family tradition. Since her half-birthday happens to fall on Cinco De Mayo, we are already in party mode with margaritas in hand. Although my mini me spent her half-birthday in isolation, she had a fabulous day…homemade cupcakes, a scooter ride, (between the rain showers) presents from her loving grandparents and a game of tag in the yard with her Noteworthy Mommy after dinner. Happy Half-Birthday to our little miracle baby!

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My daughter was excited to have her two best friends in small group today. Their teacher, Mrs. Stanglein, read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Making a cake with homemade frosting for her half-birthday.

FaceTime birthday singing with Nana and Pops and a surprise porch visit from Maw Maw and Paw Paw.

 

My church publishes an Easter devotional every year. Members of the church, both young and old, write the daily devotionals and I wrote the one for May 5. Titled, “The State of Arizona..”Ditat Deus” God Enriches.”

CLICK HERE to hear Pastor Reitz read my devotional or continue reading below. CLICK HERE to download a copy of the entire devotional book.

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The State of Arizona… “Ditat Deus” God Enriches

By: Jennifer Freeman Talley

Every morning I drink coffee from a mug purchased during my travels and I am immediately transported to the experiences on that trip. Today I’m drinking from my Arizona mug. Did you know that Arizona’s state motto is the Latin phrase Ditat Deus which means God Enriches? I can’t think of a more appropriate motto since that describes how I felt after visiting Arizona in January 2014.

It was a cold start to the new year and a blizzard rolled in creating a blanket of snow over a layer of ice. My flight to Arizona was delayed and eventually cancelled. It would have been easy to get an excused absence from the national sales meeting as more flights were delayed the following day and American Express Travel was inundated with phone calls making it next to impossible to re-book. Although I enjoyed seeing employees who live across the country I never loved going to the meetings. Deep down I am extremely shy and easily get lost in a room filled with extroverts. Catching up on employees’ personal lives and hearing about their children was another thing I simply wasn’t looking forward to. By this time in my life I expected to have a baby or be pregnant and another year without any “good news” was a disappointment. My husband and I struggled with infertility and over the past year we had silently endured three failed IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) cycles and were told we could try one more even though statistically the odds were against us. But something told me I needed to get to Arizona and after hours on the phone I was re-booked and found myself on a flight. That “something” was God. He knew what I needed before I even had a clue!

Have you ever gotten out of doing something you didn’t want to do by searching for an excuse or even going as far as making one up? The excuse always makes us feel better because we lay all our quilt and insecurities on the excuse and take ourselves and God out of the equation. It would have been easy to use the winter weather as an excuse and not attend the meeting I was feeling overly anxious about. Isn’t it a comfort to know God is with us during fearful times and through Him we can gain strength? Upon arrival I attended sessions and took advantage of the beautiful weather by walking through the desert landscape, basking in the sun and gazing in amazement at the beautiful mountains crafted by my Creator. A feeling of calmness and love embraced me; something that had been absent for months. I prayed and willingly handed my worries over to God. I left Arizona enriched by God’s everlasting love, knowing He had a plan for me and that I was going to be ok whether it included a child or not. My fears about the future were washed away and I felt an inner peace knowing I wasn’t on this journey alone.

Dear Almighty God, Thank you for listening to my cries for help. Give me patience when I encounter uncertainties in my life. Help me be strong in times of fear and help me trust in the path You have already mapped out for me.   Amen

 

Teacher Appreciation Week and a Magical Metamorphosis…Day 49

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and I want to personally thank all of the amazing teachers in my life (past and present) who give of themselves each and every day. With the onset of COVID-19, teachers around the world found themselves learning new technologies and brainstorming ways to best meet the needs of their students while they entered the world of virtual learning. I applaud all of them for their tenacity and grit during this time of uncertainty. The Zoom chats, weekly lesson plans and daily blog posts from my daughter’s preschool teacher, Mrs. Stanglein, is the familiar that is keeping us grounded during this time of isolation.

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Dedication to Mrs. Stanglein (Preschool Teacher), Mrs. Washburn (Preschool Aide) and Mrs. Haun (Zion’s Early Childhood Director)- I have a graduate degree in early childhood education and when my husband and I began looking at preschools for our daughter, I was worried we would never find an early childhood program, or a teacher, that met my rigorous standards. I prayed for guidance and God led us to Zion Lutheran School.Stanglein

Mrs. Stanglein, you are the perfect teacher for our little one. Over the past two years you have encouraged our little girl’s creativity, inspired her budding literacy skills and ignited in her, an everlasting love for nature, discovery and investigation. And you accomplished all of this while providing a safe, developmentally appropriate, Christ-centered environment. When we first met I knew you wouldn’t be intimidated by my high-standards and could “hold your own” with this Noteworthy Mommy! And I have learned from you, especially during this time of “home schooling” and virtual learning. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of play (free and guided), providing resources to help with my daughter’s propriproceptive development and always reminding us of Jesus’ love.

Washburn

Mrs. Washburn, your quiet demeanor and warm smile makes me feel comfortable leaving my little one in your care. You provide the children with assistance and support, so they can be successful at school. Thank you for treating your students as they are your own and teaching them about God through your love and compassion

Haun

Mrs. Haun, I never dreamed of finding an early childhood center that was officially trained on The Project Approach! As I walk through Zion’s early childhood wing, your leadership and extensive knowledge on how young children learn is being demonstrated in every single classroom. Thank you for the extraordinary work you do to provide training, materials and overall support for teachers, staff, children and their parents. I benefited greatly from the parenting classes your provided during the Sunday School hour.

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My daughter with Mrs. Haun, Mrs, Washburn and Mrs. Stanglein, when Fred Bird came to surprise her at school!

From Caterpillar to Butterfly– On April 22, Mrs. Haun delivered Painted Lady caterpillars to all of her early childhood teachers. We have been tracking their progress from caterpillar to chrysalis through daily blog posts and a live caterpillar cam! My daughter has been documenting the changes in a butterfly journal.  CLICK HERE to download the Butterfly Journal. Whether it be the amazing changes a caterpillar experiences as it turns into a butterfly or the growth my little girl has shown during her preschool years, both are amazing metamorphosis’ created by God’s careful hands.

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I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb…Good Shepherd Sunday on Day 48

This Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The name derives from the Gospel reading for the day, taken from the tenth chapter of John. CLICK HERE to view our worship service and make sure you watch the sermon!

I recommend listening to his moving words but here are some notes I took from Pastor Rouland’s sermon. He asks us to remember what it feels like to be lost and challenges us to think of the voices in our lives that drown out the clear voice of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. Pastor Rouland made me question, am I always being spiritually safe? Are there times in my life where I rely on myself to be safe, where I have created paths that are straight and safe and fail to listen to Jesus, the One who calls me by name? By spending time reading His word, singing His word and putting myself in places where I will hear Jesus, I will gain the spiritual safety I so yearn. Pastor Rouland reminds me that Jesus is here to carry me, to bear my burdens, to lead me home. Listen to the voice of our Good Shepherd, Jesus.

The Lord is My Shepherd- After reading Psalm 23 from my daughter’s Beginners Bible, we made a little lamb with cotton ball fleece to remind us that we are Jesus’ little lambs.

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During this time of uncertainty we shouldn’t be afraid because Jesus, our Sheperd, is there to guide us, provide for us and love us, through good days and during dark times. We sang the Lutheran hymn, “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb” while we worked together. CLICK HERE to listen to a recording sung by children.

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I got the lamb template from the blog www.startsateight.com. CLICK HERE to download the lamb template.

Symphony No 3 (fourth movement) by James Barnes– In January 2017, the Saint Louis Wind Symphony closed their performance at the Missouri Music Educators Association’s annual conference by playing the last movement of Barnes’s dynamic Symphony No 3. I play third clarinet in the SLWS and the piece, although challenging to play, is emotionally moving. The Third Symphony was commissioned by the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. Barnes, the composer, was told the piece needed to be a major work for wind band but was given no other parameters. Barnes began writing Symphony No 3 at a very tragic time in his life, shortly after his baby daughter Natalie died. The program notes state… The fourth movement (finale) represents a rebirth of spirit, a reconciliation for us all. The second theme of the last movement is based on the old Lutheran children’s hymn, “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb.” The hymn was sung at Natalie’s funeral and was the closing hymn my congregation sang on Good Shepherd Sunday.

CLICK HERE to hear the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. play the finale from Symphony No 3 by James Barnes.

I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb– While my family of three sang the closing hymn, “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb,”‘my daughter declared, “I wish you were still a child. Then I wouldn’t be born yet and I wouldn’t be here for the virus.” Then she went off and began to play. Deep thoughts for a five year old and a reminder that our children are continuing to process their new normal… a time of virtual church, virtual school and physical time away from extended family and friends. Although it’s OK to be afraid, upset and lost during this time, I want my daughter to find comfort in Jesus. To know that Jesus, her Good Shepherd, is here to carry her through this difficult time.

The painting, “The Good Shepherd,” by artist, Richard Hook. Hook created a lot of art for Concordia Publishing House. This painting, or one similar to it, is what Pastor Rouland refers to in his sermon.

May Day Music, Derby Day and My Old Kentucky Home…Day 47

As I turn a new page on my calendar, I am greeted with blank spaces glaring back at me. May is supposed to be filled with activity, celebration, endings and new beginnings. But this year anticipated events like the Kentucky Derby, spring concerts, proms and graduations, have been erased, crossed out, rescheduled or cancelled. To stay safe we continue to practice social distancing and our social calendars remain unoccupied and empty. The extra time is providing our family of three some unique ways to celebrate the beginning of May.

May Day Music- For over twenty years my husband and I have been members of the Northwinds Concert Band. And on the first Saturday in May you will find us playing a spring concert at the Florissant Civic Center during the city’s Valley of Flowers celebration. But this year the band won’t “play on” as our season came to an abrupt end due to COVID 19. I miss performing. I miss coming together on a Tuesday night and creating music. And most of all I miss my musical family; a group of extraordinary people who have been there for me throughout my adult life. My family of three enjoyed reliving some of our past concerts by listening to recordings and watching a video of a past Northwinds concert.

The Kentucky Derby- Today, the first Saturday in May, was supposed to be the 146th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Also known as the “Run For the Roses” and as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” because of COVID 19, the three year old thoroughbreds will race on September 5 instead.

In honor of the Kentucky Derby my family of three dressed in our University of Kentucky gear (I’ve grown accustomed to the dress up days during virtual learning) and listened to Kentucky’s state song, My Old Kentucky Home performed by college musicians from thirteen colleges and universities across the state. CLICK HERE to listen.

We didn’t have the ingredients to make some Kentucky Derby staples like mint juleps or derby pie, but we did prepare Kentucky Hot Browns for dinner. The Hot Brown Sandwich is an open faced sandwich made with chicken or turkey, bacon, tomato and covered in a rich creamy Mornay sauce. Created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY in the 1920’s, the sandwich has become synonymous with the state of Kentucky and southern cuisine. CLICK HERE for the recipe from the Brown Hotel. The recipe below is from my mother-in-law and is the one I used. We made accommodations based on what we had on hand and used a hamburger bun for the bread and grilled chicken breast for the meat. I paired my Hot Brown with a Kentucky Vanilla Barrel Cream Ale. Aged in bourbon barrels and brewed in Lexington, it is my favorite Kentucky brew!

After dinner my daughter held her own Kentucky Derby, racing around the house on Peaches the Pony. And even though we were unable to view real ponies on TV, we ended our day watching ponies, “My Little Pony” on Netflix!

My Old Kentucky Home– My daughter and husband gathered around the computer and participated in another weekly family meeting with three generations of his family in attendance. This week ten states were represented and the second generation shared memories about the family’s “Old Kentucky Home,” located on a farm in rural Kentucky. “Oh, the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home.”

Family Friday (Week of the Young Child)…Day 46

Today is the last day of WOYC, and this fabulous Friday is devoted to family fun! My family of three enjoyed the day together, with our little one taking the lead and requesting lots of play time outside!

Family Keepsake– The weekly lessons from my daughter’s teacher suggested that we make a family keepsake to commemorate this time together. This is what my family of three created. Although our time in isolation has been filled with frustration and some ugly moments, it has also brought tenderness and joy. When I look at our hands, represented here on colorful paper, I will be reminded of the moments that changed us for good.

The Live Generously Twins– My daughter and I decided to dress like twins by wearing our matching Thrivent, Live Generously, t-shirts. Live Generously t-shirts have become my quarantine uniform of choice as the message makes my heart happy and the soft cotton is comfortable. Living Generously has been our family slogan throughout this time of isolation. By leaving surprise gifts on doorsteps, delivering food to high risk individuals, participating in drive-by parades and reaching out to family and friends virtually; our hearts are overflowing with joy! The reward we receive when we give unto others is far greater than the gift that was given! Seeing how happy we are making others during this time of uncertainty is a lesson I want my daughter to remember forever!

A huge thank you goes out to my childhood friend, Stacy, for making these quarantine themed wine glasses at cost. She brought joy to others during a time of uncertainty.

Family Game Night– Tonight’s Family Game Night was a real “game changer.” For tonight is the night our little one was first introduced to a gaming system. We dusted off our old Wii and my little one enjoyed an evening of Super Mario Brothers and virtual bowling!Whether we are teaching our daughter to live generously, to love music and science and Jesus, or how to play Super Mario Brother’s, my husband and I are and will continue to be our daughter’s first and most important teacher.

My daughter creates a self portrait of me complete with sunglasses on top of my head!