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Sunday brought us a wonderful, sunny day. Temperature was perfect but the humidity was crazy. Normally our Sunday’s have been lazy, non-productice, go nowhere days but this weekend was the Festival of Nations, and I wanted to go.  The girls and I went last year and had a blast.

The Festival of Nations is just what it sounds like – a gathering  and  a celebration of many of the nations that make up our country.  From Bosnian to the Chinese. Germany to Scotland.

There were no fewer than 30 different food booths, 35 or more different booths selling items from different countries and 3 or 4 different stages where you could see performances from around the world.

Food booth row I called it – Row had bangers and mash “from”  scotland and some mango drink that was absolutely to die for!  Jaia had ribs – American soul food. I had a chicken schwarma pita from? and my husband had a gyro –  I really would have loved to try something from each and every booth – but you know… Can’t have everything we want right? 🙂

The merchandise booths held everything from jewelry to hand made sweaters, to scarves, bags, and even olive oil!  I just enjoyed looking.

We ended up for the majority of the afternoon in front of the main stage to watch the performances.

We saw….


African dancing and drumming.


Buddhist monks..


European folk dancers..


Dancers from Hawaii dancing a traditional dance to Pele.


Belly dancers.


Flamenco dancers.


And my absolute favorite. This is who I actually CAME to see – I saw them last year and absolutely loved it.

Cobu – an all female  Japanese Taiko drumming group. The leader is a member of the off Broadway dance company Stomp. So you can only imagine what it’s like. They combine Taiko drumming with dance.


I love drumming – any kind really. Okay – not so much the American rock star drumming. BUT  I can feel it – the drumming. It very much rattles me to my inner core and can get very emotional when I hear and feel drumming.

We left shortly after Cobu – we were hot and tired after the day exploring around the world.   We will definitely be going back next year.. I have to try something new at the food booths and of course – I have to see Cobu  – if they come back!

We are off to the barn again today! It’s Wednesday – I know – certainly seems like we live there doesn’t it? I think if my children had their way  we WOULD be there every single day!

Bright Blessings!



We had a very crazy busy weekend here in our household. Jaia danced in her very first feis. A feis is an Irish Dancing competition – pronounced fesh.  It is not at all like a normal dance recital. We’ve been there -done that – with not so good results and a little girl who refused to go back onstage for anything. It took her months to decide she was ready and that’s only after we went to watch a feis earlier this year.  A feis, like I mentioned,  is a competition – you register, sign up for the particular dances you want and those are the ones you compete in. Jaia danced the jig and the light reel – and there were 2 other competitors in each dance – 3 total dancers  for her 2 particular dances.. ..  There are dozens to sign up for – hundreds of girls competing and a few boys as well.

She did a fantastic job! and literally bounced back to me each time with the biggest grin on her face! I am so absolutely proud of my daughter. She placed 2nd in each dance. I know there were only 3 but hey… 2nd place! (she’s the blurry one in the middle).  Sorry about that – I was trying to watch, take pictures and NOT cry – Watching her dance makes me very emotional for some reason. She was super pleased with herself, as she should be, and wore both medals ALL DAY LONG. Even out for ice-cream to celebrate.   She told me that her next feis – in September – she’s going to win first place…

Jaia with her medals.

We had a blast and Jaia had a fantastic first experience – I think the next feis will be even better.

Sunday we went to the Festival of Nations – which I’ll tell you about tomorrow.

Today we’re off to the barn – it’s Monday after all.

Next week we start school!  and I’m busy trying to pull everything together.

Bright Blessings! – have a wonderful day!

Over the weekend, a friend and I went on a quick overnight get away. We wanted to get away from the kids, the house, everything – just for a day or so . We headed out early Saturday morning – about 9:00 or so.

We weren’t planning on going too far. My friend wanted to hit “wine country” in Southern Illinois so that’s what we did. Driving down route 3 in Illinois we first came to Chester Illinois. Well really we went through a couple of cute small towns but Chester stood out since it’s the home of Popeye!

(Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of pictures to show – I only had my phone and I’d left the charger at home of course – so I was trying to save the battery all day Sunday – but I do have a few.)


Olive Oyl – she was always my favorite character – especially in the Movie version.


Bridge spanning the Mississippi River. The next 2 closest bridges to cross the Mighty Mississippi river are about 1 hour away in either direction.

We hit several wineries that afternoon – never having actually BEEN to a winery I was unsure what to expect. The only one I’ve been to we bought our wine or wines and sat and enjoyed friends company and noshed on food we brought for hours. – Totally different at the few we visited Saturday. I suppose you could have brought food but there were few tables to sit at. So going in, we tasted our choices of wine and bought which ever tasted the best. …  We were able to hit a couple of junk/thrift/antique stores which is what I very much wanted to do! I bought a hankie 🙂

We visited the highest point in Souther Illinois and this was the view – absolutely beautiful! (I ignored the giant cross they built there  – not my religion). But the view was spectacular and I wouldn’t mind going again in the fall to see the color! I bet it’s just wonderful.

Our cabin was quaint – one room with a kitchenette. I don’t have pictures of the outside – I thought it was a strange set up – all the “cabins” were attached. Well 2 then a walkway with a hot tub, then 2 more. More like apartments would be.

View from the back door. Nothing but trees. And a field out the front door– We saw deer and I actually heard a woodpecker. I normally don’t hear them at home – it’s too loud.  We had dinner at the restaurant affiliated with the Bed and Breakfast – and hit the grocery store for snacks and ice -cream. We had a fantastically calm, quite evening. Spent some time in the hot tub , enjoyed the porch and the resident cat and actually watched some t.v.

Sunday morning was so relaxing – I sat outside with my coffee and actually READ MY BOOK for hours!

Then –  we headed home with plans to visit 2 more wineries.

This was actually my favorite. A porch with tables to sit at. Tables and umbrellas out on the lawn. They were even setting up for a bean bag tournament and a band was arriving. We DID sit here for a while and enjoyed a carafe of Sangria – They had their own restaurant – Simple foods it seemed – sandwiches and  pizza.

(wish their views on organic wine would have been more open minded though  – I bet their own organic version of the merlot would have been to die for. – When asked the hostess replied that everything needs to be sprayed – if not then everything would die. Oh Really?)

One more winery and then we headed home. Stopping in Carbondale, Illinois – college town – we had some fantastic local bison burgers.

I arrived home about 9:00 that night – just in time to tuck Jaia in bed (she missed her mommy) and have some snuggle time with both my girls.

I had a wonderful time and I think it was just enough to recharge my mom batteries for a while – next year maybe we’ll head out in a different direction and do some thrift store shopping – my favorite –

This week is turning out to be quite busy for  us as I look at the schedule – today back to the barn for feet trimming then I have a meeting to attend with Rowan about the homeschool classes we’ve signed up for – tomorrow of course is our normal barn day. Thursday I’ve signed J up for an  art class and Friday is “Crafter-noon”! at my sisters house! We’ve not been able to do this for  awhile because of camps but it’s nice to get started again – Now – what to craft???

Bright Blessings !

Tuesday afternoon Jaia really wanted to go to the zoo. Great! We didn’t have too much time since J has dance class in the evening, but we contacted some friends and they were going to go with us.  (our zoo is free! it’s a fantastic zoo) – I drove all the way over to the zoo  and there I discovered the crowd – jam packed! I was so surprised! A lot of our schools in the area had started for the year Monday so I honestly thought the zoo was going to be relatively empty. But! the paid parking lots were full and my usual parking secret was filled to the brim also!  After a quick chat with our friends we decided to skip the zoo and go someplace else. We’ll do the zoo next week..

We ended up a a sculpture park – It’s a neat place filled with trails and HUGE pieces of artwork. Some you can climb on  – some you cannot. I apologize in advance for anything my child climbed on that she was NOT supposed to. Sometimes you don’t see the sign until after the fact..


We grew into giants and sat on houses –


Walked a u-turn bridge.


Discovered a hidden grotto –

Played in a creek –  She looks so thrilled doesn’t she?

Climbed on huge metal balls that snaked off into the distance..

Saw a silver tree –


And saw all sorts of sculptures that I didn’t quite understand.




Giant eyeball anyone?


This was my favorite – the teardrop tree tent. Can you imagine camping in this! Fantastic –

All in All – we had a fantastic afternoon with some wonderful friends! Next week we’ll do the zoo..

Bright Blessings




For the most part we had a very lazy, laid back weekend.  On Saturday Jaia danced in her very first performance as an Irish Dancer. Yep – big wig and all.

She did a fantastic job and had a blast dancing! I am so totally proud of this girl..

Sunday found us lounging around a lot, watching Kiki’s Delivery Service, getting my husband ready for his trip and the girls ended up doing a tad bit of painting.

This is an old cart that my dad made for the girls one summer. Someone sits there in the seat and another person  hold on to the handles and  pulls them around. Kinda like a chariot.  I saw this idea in a magazine years ago and the price tag made me balk! Luckily the girls have a very handy grandpa that can make them all sorts of cool things..

Last week I got around to finishing a few things Jaia will need for her upcoming Feis performances ( well – things *I* think she needs anyway:)

The drawstring bag is for her dance shoes – I just freezer paper stenciled her initial on the front. And the pink bag is her dance “emergency” kit – similar to the one  I made for the equestrian girls. In it are some bandaids and alcohol wipes, a lint roller, safety pins, and rubber bands. Items you always seem to need for performances but usually always seem to forget!  I’ll eventually add some homeopathic  remedies like arnica for muscle pain and peppermint for nerves.

Today is Monday – Barn day of course.. What are you up to this week?

Bright Blessings!

We’ll join it too this week!

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thanks SouleMama ~

 Bright Blessings! Have a wonderful weekend!

Since Jaia is now into all things Irish Dance, and we’ve spent the money on the beginner outfit and wig and shoes and socks, I thought the dress needed to be protected.


Beginner dance outfit for J’s school. Ignore the air vent! I don’t have a good place to take pics 🙂  BUT rather than buy a garment bag, I decided to give a go at making one.


I used a hanger as reference for the shoulder area and I measured the length of the shirt.

I double checked the pattern I made with the shirt to make sure it would all fit. I actually adjusted the slope of the shoulder after I did this so that it did not slope as much.

After I got the pattern pieces together – the bag itself came together fairly quickly.

Cutting out the bag pieces and the pocket pieces.

Adding the zipper and the pockets to the front

Sewing the front and back together. Wow – sorry – I didn’t realize just how blurry this picture was!

and Taa-daa! I didn’t turn out to bad:) I’m pleased with my first attempt – and my first attempt with making my own pattern for it also!

Here it is with the outfit inside – so you can see how it all worked out.

Now I think I’ll make a matching “emergency kit pouch” like I did for the Equestrians. I have a ton of this material left over!  I also need to figure out how to transport this wig….

Today is barn day! and we’re finally in the double digits here in the midwest – no more triple index for us for a while. AND we had rain for the second weekend in a row! So absolutely wonderful to wake up to thunder and rain.

Bright Blessings!

Tuesday, 3 hours before Jaia needed to be at dance class , she shouts out – “Mom! can we go by new shoes?!” – as in new dance shoes.  There’s only one place here that I know of that sells them and it was about 1/2 hour away so we jumped in the car and made a mad dash to buy new shoes! I had been promising her for weeks that we’d go and well… I had to keep my promise right?

I cannot believe I didn’t take pictures at the store!  J was in dance heaven. Soft shoes, hard shoes, bags, t-shirts etc… I do believe her christmas list is begun and finished now!  She was very happy to get new shoes.  – Sorry the pic is blurry – It’s so very hard to catch a girl on the move doing her “step 1,2,3’s”.  She’ll be in her first performance on the 11th and her first feis on the 25th of August. I can’t wait ! I’m sure she’ll do fantastic and wow those judges:)

Wednesday was barn day of course. Camps are all over and we’re back to peace and quite there.  We went a bit early so Rowan could ride. The heat here has been so oppressive and just plain HOT  – that it’s been hard for anyone to find the time to ride safely. Rowan has decided that it’s time Jaia is able to ride Jonah  – so she’s been letting J hop on Jonah after her rides. Just a bit of walking until Jaia gets used to riding a horse much larger that what she’s used to.  I was sitting and reading while they were riding, but I looked up to see  this..

My girls – riding together. I love it when they get along.

Bright Blessings!