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26 08, 2016

Chick Incentives

By |2016-08-19T15:31:04-05:00August 26th, 2016|Miller Farm Friday, one word Wednesday|0 Comments

A Blog By Chicken Wrangler Sara

When I am not taking care of the animals on Miller Farm, I spend several hours a week teaching private piano lessons. When  I was 13  I wanted to be just like my piano teacher, Mrs. Black.  It is not always easy, but I enjoy the challenge.

For instance, I started a new student this summer who is enormously creative. I had him in my music class at the private school where I teach and he once told me his mother has a bow and arrow.  She hunts for food because they don’t have any at their house.  She was quite surprised to hear this and for weeks after that I asked what they were having for dinner.

So this new student, like many others, enjoys coming to piano lessons.  I mean who wouldn’t enjoy seeing a pack of dachshunds and a flock of chickens every week.

However, practicing at home was not nearly as exciting.  His mom, the huntress, expressed some concern. She didn’t want to make it miserable for him but knew without practice, he would make little progress.  So I told her I would pull out my bag of tricks.

In this “bag of tricks” I have little individual incentive charts where students can mark each day they practice.  For some, the promise of a piece of candy for five stickers is sufficient.

I was afraid this student would not be motivated by candy.  So I came up with a new incentive.

We happened to have baby chicks in the brooder in our garage.  (I wonder how many other people on our street can say that.)  When the chart had five stickers, I promised that my student could hold a baby chick.  He was quite excited.

Then he realized that his assigned piece on this week was two pages long.  He asked what would happen if he only practiced one page.  I told him he could only hold half a chick. Fortunately he didn’t ask for details but agreed to practice the whole song.

studentSo the following week, and the two weeks since then, he has practiced five times a week.

I’m pretty sure I am the only piano teacher in the world who uses chick incentives.

13 05, 2015

Celebrating Leprechauns Day

By |2015-05-13T05:00:00-05:00May 13th, 2015|Holidays, one word Wednesday|0 Comments

When we think of Irish holidays, we usually think of March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. But there’s another celebration of Irish culture today…

National Leprechaun Day lep

You know the elfin creatures in green suits and hats that hide in the woods and mastermind practical jokes. Folklore says leprechauns are evil spirits or fallen fairies, who occupy themselves with mending shoes, causing mischief, and making music.

If you’re in Dublin, you can stop by The Leprechaun Museum and learn all about the mischievous little pranksters, who have been equally adored and feared by the Irish for thousands of years.

No one knows for sure how these solitary beings came to have their very own day. My personal theory involves these wee tricksters coming up with the idea themselves. It’s the sort of thing a leprechaun would do.

Whatever the reason, it’s always fun to speculate about catching a leprechaun. You can find tips here.

Should you be successful, the captured leprechaun must give you his pot of gold.

You have to very careful, though, leprechauns don’t easily part with their gold. They’ve been known to offer three wishes if you won’t take their pot of gold. Best to have your own three wishes in mind now so you won’t be tricked.

If you’re looking for ideas to celebrate Leprechaun day today, check this FB link:

National Leprechaun Day | Facebook

Or you could

  • organize Leprechaun hunts using plastic figurines
  • watch my all-time favorite Leprechaun movie: Darby O’Gill and The Little People
  • play practical jokes on friends and family
  • munch on those chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil
  • have a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast

Whatever you do, have a Happy Leprechaun Day!

6 05, 2015

STORY IDEAS

By |2015-05-06T10:55:15-05:00May 6th, 2015|one word Wednesday|2 Comments

Coming up with story ideas is not usually a problem for me. Like the writer in this cartoon by Debbie Ridpath Ohi, I find ideas everywhere.

OHI0026-AlphabetSoup-v2-600“Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.”

Transferring all those ideas into novels is usually my bigger problem, but that’s a topic for a different blog.

What about you? Do you have to hunt in the bottom of a soup bowl for story ideas?

 

29 04, 2015

GRASS – One Word Wednesday

By |2015-04-29T06:00:39-05:00April 29th, 2015|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

As a writer, I am a wordsmith and always curious about words and their meaning. grass

Seeing sprouts of green finally show up on my lawn here in the mountains made me think about the word GRASS.

The literal meaning: any plant of the family Gramineae, having jointed stems, sheathing leaves, and seedlike grains.

The slang meaning: Marijuana.

But the word GRASS can also be a symbol.

  • Once a name for spring or early summer, today the appearance of grass in yards signals the coming of spring.
  • In his poem, “Grass,” Carl Sandburg used the word symbolically to represent the waste and meaninglessness of war:

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all…

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place where it was shall know it no more.

The word GRASS can be found in idioms.

  • Go to grass is to retire from one’s occupation or profession
  • Let the grass grow under one’s feet is become slack in one’s efforts.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side (of the fence) implies different circumstances wouldn’t be better.
  • A snake in the grass refers to a false friend
  • Grassroots refers to the common people or bottom of the political pyramid political pyramid, opposite the “establishment,” which controls the top.

YOUR TURN: Can you think of other ways the word GRASS is used?

15 04, 2015

Grateful for Today

By |2017-01-06T10:41:00-06:00April 15th, 2015|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

Today federal income taxes are due. Most of us are probably not feeling particularly grateful.

But today is more. Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, describes today this way:

You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today…. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

Instead of dwelling on taxes,  we should recognize the precious gift of today and observe and experience what we’ve been given to enjoy.

~the natural beauty surrounding us

~the interesting people we encounter

~the sound of laughter

~the simple beating of our heart

So many miracles — if we only pause to appreciate and be grateful.

Lindberg quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 04, 2015

Spring Work

By |2015-04-08T06:00:23-05:00April 8th, 2015|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

Spring WorkThe sun is melting away the lingering snow. Chipmunks and squirrels are scampering in the woods behind our house. Birds are chirping. Grass is turning green.

Poppies are working their way through the soil in the front flower bed. The Aspen trees are budding.

Spring is indeed at work with joyful enthusiasm in our mountains.

The call to dig in the dirt instead of getting words on the page is great.

Are you feeling the twinges of Spring Fever?

1 04, 2015

Simplifying Easter for Kids

By |2015-04-01T06:00:46-05:00April 1st, 2015|Holidays, one word Wednesday|0 Comments

The Easter season always reminds me of my years as Children’s Ministry Director. With all the hype about Easter eggs and bunny rabbits around, children can become confused about the real meaning of the season.

I loved explaining the true significance of this most holy Christian holiday in terms the children understood.

One lesson involved  ResurrectionRollstitlewmAs we prepared, baked, and shared the rolls, I’d remind the kiddos that this is not magic. The dough bakes as it’s supposed to. The marshmallow melts as it’s supposed to do. And the sweet syrupy filling left behind reminds us of God’s grace, free to all.

When teaching the lesson, I also pointed out the other symbolism:

  • Marshmallow – the body of Jesus
  • Butter –  oils used in burial
  • Cinnamon and sugar – the spices used to perfume the body
  • Dough – the tomb
  • Baked roll with empty center – representing the empty tomb following the resurrection

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it with youngsters, or the young-at-heart, around your house.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package refrigerated crescent rolls, preferably Pillsbury
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix cinnamon and sugar together ahead of time.
  2. Melt butter in microwave ahead of time.
  3. Preheat oven to 375. (Turn oven on just before beginning to assemble rolls.)
  4. Separate crescent rolls and lay individual triangle on workspace.
  5. Dip marshmallow in butter and roll to thoroughly coat.
  6. Roll buttered marshmallow in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  7. Place marshmallow on narrow tip of crescent dough and roll toward the large end.
  8. Pinch dough together firmly at edges and any thin spots.
  9. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
  10. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

jellybean-prayerAnother Easter Sunday lesson I’ve used involves jellybeans.

This is a variation of the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Wordless Book.

WB Without words, this book tells the story about God and the best gift of all.

 

I love Easter candy…jellybeans, Hersey candy-coated chocolate eggs, especially those marshmallow Peeps.

I love the cuddly bunnies, but I think it’s very important that we remember the true reason for this season.

God's love to people

18 02, 2015

A Love Affair

By |2015-02-18T06:00:38-06:00February 18th, 2015|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

loveLove is in the air. It is, after all, February.

I must confess I’ve caught the love bug and I’m having an affair.

A love affair with words.

Long before I met my husband and shared my heart with him, words held me in their spell.

The affair goes way back to when I learned the alphabet and started to string letters into words. Then I learned to read words and instantly knew …

Words are powerful. Potent.

Words enchant. Entice.

Words stir emotions.

I listened to nursery rhymes, chants, and children’s poetry read from My Book House, a series of twelve volumes compiled and edited by Olive Beaupré Miller.

My book houseStories and poetry from My Book House opened worlds I’d never imagined. As I grew older and worked my way through the volumes, biographies of famous men and women down through history inspired me, folklore from around the world fascinated me, and poetry from Longfellow, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Song of Solomon inspired me.

Curled up reading through those volumes, my love for words grew stronger and blossomed into a love of books.?????????I doubt I’ll ever abandon my affair with words, but don’t worry my husband doesn’t mind. He loves books as much as I do. Thank heavens the supply of books is unending.

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