Monthly Archives: January 2018

Board Game Fun

I remember when I only had to contend with the lure of TV. We didn’t have cable either, or DVR so it was limited to the time that children’s programming was actually on PBS. I am sounding very old but it is true. Now we have multiple electronic devices that provide hours of entertainment at any time of the day or night. I feel like I have been fighting a losing battle against all this mindless entertainment.

Luckily I have my sister to help me combat it. She has always had a love of board games (though she also loves some good tech) for the past couple of years she has painstakingly picked out age appropriate board games to give my children as gifts. Here are just some of this year’s Christmas offerings.

We haven’t delved into all of them yet but that is just because we have found a favorite–Forbidden Island. I enjoy board games but I have tried them before with my children and often struggle with rampant competition that often ends in tears no matter how much I lay down the rules of “being nice.” But with Forbidden Island  the players work in cooperation to beat the game. You work collaboratively to capture the treasure and get everyone off the island before it sinks. We are hooked. We played for the first time yesterday–all afternoon. Then into the evening. I finally had to say “ok only one more time before bed.” The best part is because everyone was working together even the little ones could team up with a bigger kid towards a larger goal.

Now I am inspired to pursue more games. What are some of your favorites, for children or adults?

Superbowl=$$$$ not buying futures

We have just entered a new fiscal year at the Doeun household. Each year around this time we like many Americans begin preparing our taxes, through this process we look closely at the previous year’s financials and make plans for the coming year.

At the same time our home state will host the Superbowl this year. Our home team is just one win away from playing in that Superbowl–the first time ever a team would play in their own stadium for Superbowl. My husband has several co-workers that are season ticket holders for the Vikings. They said that while they pay around $99 to view a Vikings game. If they go to the Superbowl even the cost of the nosebleed sections run in the thousands of dollars.  A good seat could be as high as $30,000-40,000!

We have hopes and dreams for the future that include financial security. As we contemplated what financial success would look like for us the question came up “would we ever spend that kind of money on a sporting event?” There was no hesitation, never in a million years would we spend that money in that way. Each year we hope that the next year we can donate more.

Proeun grew out of displacement and poverty–the refugee experience. He often says, “try getting a good grade on a Math test when you haven’t eaten over the weekend.” While we home school our children I have recently become impressed with out amazing our public school system is. I purchased the book Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan at the Rush City Library’s Christmas book sale. Akpan’s collection of short stories transports you to a world mostly tragic with some beauty thrown in. The first story, “The Ex-mas Feast,” is the story of a preteen prostitute working on the streets so her brother can go to school. Going to school is not an option for her as school costs money–alot of money. She makes the hard decision to go full-time by entering a brothel. Her brother is so distraught by her sacrifice that he runs away.

Free education for all children, we take it for granted. Fiction does often have the ability to be more truthful then non-fiction. Through stories our world is opened to the experiences of others and my world was rocked by this story. Here we are taking for granted education. Education is truly the ability to have a future.

Then my mind took the leap to how many schools could the Superbowl fund throughout the year? We could be buying futures. What are we buying instead?

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.

Happy 2018!

When I was a kid I was totally focused on Christmas. Even as a young mother I loved decorating and buying or making gifts for my children. But slowly I have grown older. I feel my attention shifting to New Year’s. I am now middle age. I no longer wonder what I will be when I am an adult or wonder what my life will look like. While I am continually striving to grow, learn and teach my children along the way sometimes a reset is in order. New Year’s is such a great symbolic reset.

I don’t remember a year that I have looked forward to a reset more. 2017 was tough–life alerting, shattering tough. I have high hopes for 2018 but honestly the bar is pretty low to be better then 2017. For this coming year we plan on the typical health and wellness. We also want to capture more time with our children.

This New Year’s weekend was bitter cold in our neck of the woods. The HIGHS were somewhere in the -10 range. So we stayed home. We watched movies, cuddled, cooked and ate good food, talked about our hopes and plans for 2018 and got the reset I was hoping for.

I even had a chance to knit a bit. With such a dizzy, disruptive year behind me I didn’t have much energy for my typical hand made Christmas. When I did have time or energy much of it went to a new book I am working on. But as plans formed for the perfect New Year’s I decided a quick knitting project would be the perfect addition.

It is the Lyalya hoodie. The pattern is more expensive then I would normally buy but this is the 3rd hat I have made with the pattern and my oldest daughter even made one for herself, so it is a great pattern that I have used often. I knit it up over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day using some yarn from our own Lincoln Longwool sheep. You can purchase the yarn here. I am so pleased with how it turned out and even more pleased that I took the time to create something special for the best part of 2017–Unnah, our new addition for the year. She will be a year soon, already goodness in the new year. Here’s to a blessed 2018.