Category Archives: Mothering

Mother Heart

My soul is all mother. I am a nurturing spirit. I had the privilege of meeting William Kent Krueger (link below) a couple times now. As a writer for my local paper I have been able to attend each of his local book launches. Normally murder mysteries are not my thing but I love the sense of place (my home state) I get from his books. I also find his references to Ojibwa culture enlightening and refreshing.

In several of his books he talks about different spirits that people have. One is Nokomis, the grandmother or nurturing spirit. This is totally me. I have always wanted to be a mother, but one thing that is clear, you do not have to have blood offspring to be nurturing.

In my career as a writer I have sometimes had to write about difficult and gut wrenching things. But I am finding my ability to deal with heartbreak is lessening as I get older (or have more children?). It seems like I am feeling things more. Even the daily news is sometimes too much for me.

Recently one of those tear jerker commercials came on for the organization “Forced to Flee.” My husband, my soul mate, was forced to flee with his family. He was a refugee. Many of my closest friends are refugees. Many were refugees as the result of failed U.S. foreign policies.

As I watched the images of babies crying in the pain of hunger and disease I wished I could nurse them. It was an odd thought, one I had never really considered–being willing to nurse another woman’s child, but I knew that I would do it in a heart beat if it meant that child would survive. Those individuals, those faces, those stories, touched me.

I firmly believe that stories lead to relationships, an opening of the heart. Stories and relationships is exactly what we need right now. When I was in college I learned about systemic problems and was taught they need systemic solutions. But we are failing on a big level. What we need is baby steps. The kind where a nurturing adult allows the baby to hold their fingers while taking tottering steps. So those first baby steps need mothers/nurturers. I am thinking about the organizations like “Moms Against Drunk Driving.” We can accomplish alot we Nokomis. We just need to allow our hearts to be open, even if it means pain, and we need to be willing feel for others.

January Crafting

A few weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs–Soule Mama–about how she loves crafting in January and quickly January is becoming my favorite month of the year for just that reason. The craziness of the holidays is done, but it is still nice to engage in indoor activities and enjoy a lull before the spring the storm. So crafting is exactly what we have been doing this month.

Avril has caught my bug for knitting. Here she completed her first hat, actually her first complete project ever. She used this pattern. It was one of the most expensive patterns I have ever purchased but we have gotten a lot of use out of it.

I originally made a hat for Pray and Lith and Avril liked the pattern so much she thought she would give it a try.

Mavis is more a fan of sewing. She picked out this pattern from Pinterest and Effie decided she wanted to make one too.

I have also picked up a lot of inspiration for next month. Having girls who love creating as well has been very rewarding, now we have to figure out how to get all that crafting in. Special thanks to my best friend Jenelle who knows just how to inspire this creative family!

Reading in the New Year

It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I have started doing New Year’s Resolutions. As I look at the new year and think about my hopes and dreams for the coming 365 days it has become a fun tradition and exercise in dreaming. I firmly believe adults still need to have dreams and goals they are striving for. And for this year my main goal is to enjoy life more–to not be so caught up in daily struggles that I forget about the big picture. When I was writing the author page in my book Home School Farm I was able to summarize what my favorite things are–writing and reading, cooking and eating and creating and loving. So this is where my focus will be for the New Year.

So I start today with reading. I thought I would share with you some of the things that are really filling my soul lately.

As a busy momma magazines are often more my speed. I have long been a subscriber of Taproot. I believe I have every copy, though I have not always been good at reading it, my last 2 issues I have completely devoured. So I am saving my others for a little postpartum reading. I love the authenticity of the magazine and the focus on simplicity.

Making was a dream come true for me. The handmade section of Taproot has always been my favorite as I dream about beautiful things I would like to make. Now there is a whole magazine just for creating all those projects that really speak to me. It is a new magazine. My copy, Fauna, is the 2nd issue, unfortunately I missed the first one, but I definitely plan on subscribing. I love just flipping through the magazine and planning future projects. I also love the ability to learn new skills and types of projects. I bought the tools for my first felting project yesterday!!

I picked up In Winter’s Kitchen at the Twin Cities Book Festival. Of course I am a fan of local food. I did expect this book to be a bit different though, I thought it would be a personal narrative and while there are elements of that I love that it goes into the history of various crops that are northland staples like wheat and carrots. I am learning much about plant history and getting inspired to try some new varieties. What is really cool is that since the book takes place in my home state I actually know some of the people Dooley talks about in the book. Also when she mentions a restaurant or company that she likes I can check them out myself.

Case in point she talks about Sunrise Flour Mill. They are a small mill that grinds heritage wheat and they are just 15 miles from my home! So yesterday I stopped by to get some flour and asked the proprietor Martin to make some recommendations for me. He did. Currently I am making Perfect Artisan Bread. It is a 2 day process I will continue tomorrow. I am super excited about it. Apparently the flour is good for people with high blood sugar, gluten sensitivities and celiac’s disease. I just hope it is delicious.

The last book I am reading has a lot to do with another activity–loving. In loving my children I hope to provide them with a peaceful and secure home environment. Peaceful is a little difficult to attain with 6 little (and not so little ones) running around. We homeschool and I was feeling like so so so much of my energy was going into the older children’s more complex struggles that we were loosing something in creative, fun energy. I stumbled upon Whole Family Rhythms and got a copy of their Winter Guide (it is only in ebook). The book provides a weekly story, and play activity as well as daily focus activities from a nature walk to cooking, to water coloring or crafting. It also provides momma meditations and momma crafts. I am trying to be more go with the flow and not stress if we doing get to everything every day but it is fun to have a little different focus.

What are you reading in the New Year?

Twin Cities Book Festival and Filfillah

I am beginning to rediscover my first love. As some of you may have noticed we are taking a sabbatical next year from our CSA vegetables. This is due in part to a desire on my part to focus on my writing. I continue to finalize the details of my book Home School Farm which will hopefully be available as an ebook the beginning of November. My work as a writer and author has really rekindled my first love–books. As a child I never was without a good book to read. But as a busy mother and farmer finding time to read was difficult to say the least. Over the years a void began to develop.

I haven’t ever stopped writing. I have written for the Hmong Times since before I was married. I have also recently added a couple area newspapers, then of course there is my book. But I really wanted to branch out and pursue writing more. So this weekend found me at

twin cities book festival

It was such a joy to see what books are new, what some of my favorite publishers are working on now, and seeing how some how some literary journals that were fledglings when I started writing like Mizna are doing now. I remember this journal was just coming out when I was in college and I thought my life would go completely differently. Now things are coming full circle except I have alot more life experience under my belt.

The highlight of the day for me was meeting Krista Tippett. She hosts a national radio show, On Being, that explores, “the question of meaning.” She has also written a book entitled Becoming Wise that explores some of her most prominent questions from her many interviews. I have barely started reading it and I am hooked.

I also picked up a copy of Beth Dooley’s In Winter’s Kitchen. I can’t get too far away from my love of good local food and aparently neither can Dooley. I can hardly what to get started with this one.

I also picked up some copies of literary journals I would like to submit to and stopped by many publishers booths for future references.


Some of the books and journals I picked up.

After the festival I was able to meet up with Proeun who also had a class that day for a date–sans children. This was our first date in years! So much fun to discuss all the cool things we learned and be able to eat at our own pace rather then rushing through a meal before the children finished and got antsy. We stopped at Filfillah. It has Mediterranean food and was absolutely delicious. We got a sampler platter of appetizers that had hummus, falafel (the best I have ever eater!), feta cheese and more. Then we ordered their sampler grilled platter of kebabs and chopped meats over saffron rice. I highly recommend them!

It was such a great rejuvenating day!

Science Class

Oh we do have a bustling household. With 6 children it seems like there is always plenty to do. Now the older ones are starting to develop their own interests and school in becoming more involved. Sometimes at the beginning of the week I look over my schedule and think how things have changed from the days of 2 or 3 little ones content to be home all day. Those days it was mommy who felt the need to be out and about.

Our last birth was this January. I was so thankful that the cold and snow encouraged everyone to a more laid back pace and for many weeks it was nice just to be home. But now it is time to get back to our regular schedule. Including stepping up on school, homeschool coop and science class. We are blessed with a church that is very supportive of homeschool and that offer some supplemental classes.

This year the children have really been enjoying a science offered by local naturalist and author, Julie Von Vett. We took some time off over the new year but now we are back. Recently the children were able to dissect sea stars (star fish for all you ancients like me).

20150205132945 20150205132959 20150205133238 20150205133633


Hoophouse, etc. etc. etc.

For the past couple of years as soon as the CSA season ended we crashed. We had just completed a marathon of work and it was time to rest. But also for the past couple years the springs have been horrible for planting–snow on the ground till May, followed by lots and lots of rain and more cold. So this year we knew that if we have projects that we wanted to complete before the next growing season we were going to have to complete them in the fall. So this year as soon as the CSA season ended we began projects and have been working every since.

The first and biggest project was our hoophouse. This will allow us to plant earlier in the spring regardless of what the weather is like. We knew with the weather patterns of the past couple of years a strong growing season depended on it.

DSC_0632[1] DSC_0694[1] DSC_0690[1]

We ordered from Zimmerman High Tunnels and have been very happy with both the customer service, quality and price. Thanks to my wonderful husband assisted by our oldest son and my father-in-law the hoophouse went up in just 2 weeks! We did have neighbors and family come out to help with the plastic where more people is definitely best, thanks mom and dad, Sambath and the Leathermans!

The kids favorite part was digging a hole. Not sure what we do with it now.


Originally I had planned on spending the month of October doing 31 Days to Clean. Another side effect of a really busy growing season is that it seems like the house begins to fall apart. So I wanted to go on a guided cleaning spree but with so much work to be done outside that had to take a back burner. But I find that I do know what areas really need attention and try to work on it a little everyday.


So after the hoophouse there was the field to get prepared for next spring. Another wonderful neighbor of ours, Marv, loaned us a plow to help break up our perpetually hard soil.

Last weekend it was planting garlic, again thanks to my father-in-law as bending over is getting more and more difficult for me.


So great that the nice weather is holding. More projects this weekend. How are you spending your fall?

Happy Memorial Day–Enjoy summer

When we first moved to the country I never wanted to leave the property and that was fine for awhile. But even farmer’s need to take a break and step back and reset. I find for me the best way to do that is the wilderness. I am blessed to have a family property I can retreat to, but even with having a place available I hadn’t been there since we moved. Finally this weekend I was able to get away and it was like heaven. I have to say being out there away from life’s pressures, enjoying nature, I just feel more myself and more able to enjoy life and family.


My children took the weekend’s opportunity to enjoy trying out the camera. Two and Mavis especially enjoyed this with Two saying he wanted to be a photographer. Here is a portrait he took of Effie.


Mommy t-rexxy by Mavis.


Pray Grant by Two.


I love just going for walks with the children.


One thing I really want to learn is how to identify the things of nature–plants, trees, birds, bird calls, etc. Here is a plant I discovered on this camping trip. I believe it is a marsh marigold.


It wasn’t all fun and games. The gentlemen worked to put up an outhouse.


Finished outhouse by Mavis.

So work, play, relax, love, enjoy and reset that was the name of the game this weekend. Honestly it was so needed. I hope you are taking time regularly to recharge and reset. What things do you like to do?

New Blog plus a look back

What a week! A few weeks ago I found out I would have to update our website, virtually redoing it with a new product. Then last week I found out I would have to do the same for the blog. Oy! Well luckily it didn’t end up being as bad as I thought thanks to our web hosting company’s (GoDaddy) awesome customer service. They walked me through the whole process and Voila, new blog. I am still tweaking it but so far I am loving it. One thing I love is the archives list. Going through the old blog and switching it over allowed me to reflect on my experiences along the way. I remember when Jack looked like this now he looks like this.

Jack 2014


I remember when Home was the Eastside of St. Paul and now Rush City is our home. When I started this blog I had 3 children, now their are 3 little Doeuns and my how they grew. Oh well, nothing like going through old posts to feel nostalgic. I hope you like the new blog and do check out the archives.

Off my bookshelf

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately. Honestly I have come to view reading as my original creative activity. Out of it comes so many things that make life more enjoyable. Reading affects my creativity in so many ways. Whether my reading sparks an idea I really need to process through my own writing or becomes a wonderful family dinner, embroidery project or just soul food, I really feel it when I am not spending an adequate amount of time in books.

I did finally break down and buy a kindle (or Proeun bought one for me) but that was mostly because some books that I really wanted were only available in a digital format. I still much prefer real, physical books.

Come to think of it most of the books I have purchased I found out about on a blog. The very first blog I ever started reading was Soule Mama. I have all her books now and have found that they really give me that soul food that I need. Her family lives on a hobby farm in northern Maine and in many ways they have been on a similar journey as our family. Her most recent book, The Rhythm of Family has short essays from both her and her husband in honor of each month as well as projects and activities that can be done as a family. Since it is January (still) I have started from the very beginning and try to do at least one of the activities a month.

A recent addition to my blog reading is Yummy Mummy. I stumbled across this site when I was searching for “healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.” I found this recipe. Now I make this yummy and healthy recipe a couple times a month. Especially when mommy needs a little pick-up at snack time.

The book The Yummy Mummy Kitchen has many more delicious recipes. But I also love the brief essays and life tips. While Marina Delio lives in California and has a very international background I can’t relate to some areas of her life but I find her recipes delicious and her passion infectious. She writes in the introduction, “I’m not the Yummy Mummy. You are.  . .A Yummy Mummy is not a high-maintenance mom. Being a Yummy Mummy does not mean weekly manicures, grocery shopping in stilettos or nannies. It has nothing to do with money or perfection, it’s an attitude. She puts the kids first, but also takes care of herself and finds balance amid the chaos.” I definitely need to work on this but good food always helps.

I have also always loved handcrafts. My mother taught be all the basics, but now I am discovering so many great resources. Anna Maria Horner has a style I really connect with so when she came out with her own embroidery book I pre-ordered it (yes I wanted it that bad). It is such a joy to browse. and now Avril and I are working on our own project. I help thread the needle, pick out the thread and lay the foundation stitches then she comes back and finishes it. It is a great way to wind down in the evening.

Anna Maria also inspired me towards design. I used to design my own fashions, at 7 years old. I would make catalogs entitled JCAmy. But for the most part my designs and passion for it has been lost. But this winter I have been reminded of how much I love fashion and design. Wanting to explore this further I bought Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design. It begins with the very basics and moves forward. I love the interviews with the designers and sidebar tips. Soon the season will begin in full swing and I am definitely looking forward to warmer weather, but till then I am enjoying my indoor comforts.

Welcome 2014

When we were preparing for our big move to our dream farm it was hard not to be frustrated by delays. Winter was coming and I was anxious to get settled. But delay after delay happened. Finally on New Year’s Eve three years ago we were ready to move. So on the first morning of our new year we woke-up to our dream come true. Now I know what a blessing all those delays were. Now the New Year will forever equal a New Life. I enjoy celebrating my holidays with quiet contemplation–reflection on what this day means to me. Last night I was lying in bed thinking how amazing our life is.

Today it is hard to see out the windows, they are so frosted over. The outside temperatures are not expected to climb out of the negative numbers for a couple days now. But we are celebrating our New Year with a special kind of ordinary–good food, cuddling, movies, games, crafting, reading, togetherness, all while living our dream. It’s a great life.

Last year at this time we set out to get healthy. Seemed like everything had been thrown out of whack a bit but the crazy upheavals no matter how good. Now in addition to looking forward I can look back to the good things this life has given, especially good health. Looking forward to another great year of continued growth. I hope all of you have a special dream or project to drive you forward to the good life.