Category Archives: My Joys

The Happy Wanderer(s)

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
“Come! Join my happy song!”

I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev’ry green wood tree.

High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o’er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky.


 When I was just a little girl, my Gramma Rose taught me this song – The Happy Wanderer. Well, not just me.  She taught the song to all of us Weinberg kids – a brood of seven wild and rambunctious children with enough energy to run a small factory! You see, Gramma Rose had spent more than a third of her life as a Girl Scout leader and in her 30+ years of scouting, she’d acquired quite a selection of tunes, all of which she lovingly taught to her grandchildren, providing us with a musical heritage, so to speak.

Many times, while we were tromping through the woods near our family’s cabin or driving down the highway to visit our relatives in Chicago, one of us would begin to sing as a means of passing the time.  We had quite the repertoire of both folk and silly songs – I Have a Dear Old Grandpa; A Peanut Sat on the Railroad Track; Land of the Silver Birch; The Far Northland; Granny’s in the Cellar…to name just a few!  One day, if I’m in the mood and you ask me real nicely, I may just sing a couple of them for you…if you’re lucky!

But of all the songs we ever sang, this one – The Happy Wanderer – was my favorite.  I loved the catchy Ompah band tune written shortly after World War II by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller.  You can listen to the tune on this video:

The chorus always made me laugh. As a matter of fact, it’s written in such a way that when sung properly, the third line – Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha – sounds just like a person chortling!  But more than anything, it was the last stanza that really spoke to my heart –

“Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God’s clear blue sky.”

Little did I know then, that these lines would one day be more than just the lyrics of a song – they would become a prayer of sorts and a deep longing in my heart.


About a year ago, David and I were blessed with an unexpected monetary gift. Of course, there were bills to pay and a hundred and one things around the house that needed fixing which clamoured to be taken care of.  But in a moment of weakness inspiration, we opted to do something rather impulsive with our windfall – we decided to live out the words of my favorite childhood folk song…we were going to “go a-wandering!”

For 16 glorious days – from June 4th to June 20th – David and I became “the happy wanderers” as we drove and hiked through the hills and dales of northern England and into the Highlands of Scotland. We filled up our senses with the sights, sounds and smells of this amazing island and came home richer than when we left.

Over the next 14 days, I will be sharing a daily photo recap of our adventures. I hope you all enjoy the journey…..


Day 1 – Minneapolis – Chicago – Over the North Atlantic

Breakfast at HHH - Minneapolis.

Today is going to be a looong travel day and we’re beginning fairly early at the HHH terminal in Minneapolis also known as Terminal 2.

Waiting to catch flight to Chicago.

We’ll fly from here to Midway airport in Chicago. From there, well catch the train to one of the downtown stations, transferring to another train that’ll take us to O’Hare.  We saved a bit of money doing it this way and it gave us the opportunity to move around and stretch our legs before taking our overnight flight to Dublin.

Taking a break at O'Hare.

We’ve arrived at O’Hare with lots of time to spare.  We’ll walk around as much as possible and still have time to take a quick snooze before we head across the Atlantic.

Waiting for our flight to Dublin.

More waiting!  Four hours until our departure.

Our flight is being called!

Our flight is being called for boarding!

Arrive in Dublin @ 8am (about 2am back in MN).

Arrival in Dublin @ 8:30am (about 2:30am back in MN).

Freshening up in Dublin.

Freshening up in Dublin while waiting for our final flight to Edinburgh.


You’ve got to be kidding!!  This is the plane that’ll be taking us to Edinburgh. Thank goodness I took out traveler’s insurance!

In Edinburgh...finally!

Our safe arrival in Edinburgh….finally!



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Filed under My Joys, My Travels, Scotland

Five signs the “Change” has begun…

My sister, Genny, is at it again…poking fun at me and helping me to laugh at myself and the new stage of life that I’m now entering.

For those of you who are also entering this interesting “change” of life…I think you’ll appreciate the humor in the following postcard that I received from her last week.

Thank you Lord, for my younger sister and her God-given gift of wit and humor!!!  I don’t know what I’d do without her!

Five signs the “Change” has begun…

1. Low estrogen produces excess facial hair.

2. Living alone in a cabin sounds pretty damn appealing!

3. Who needs a wood stove with all these handy hot flashes?

4. No, it isn’t hunting season. You got a problem with that?

5. I’m low on estrogen and I have a gun.




Filed under My Gratitude, My Joys

Like trying to herd cats!

This is the time of year when life always gets really busy in the Blinn home.

With everyone in our household involved in education at some level, our life takes on a faster pace as May comes to a close.  The school year is coming to an end and that means final exams, completion of student teaching, college graduation, class trips, posting of grades, etc.  I look forward to June’s arrival –  a slower pace of life and kids at home for the summer.

However, as the kids are getting older, they spend more and more time away from home, and gathering everyone together – even for a short time –  is a bit of a challenge.

Fortunately, my middle daughter, Olivia, recently had the opportunity to fly home for a late, but much needed Spring break.  It was wonderful to have her home again, but in the blink of an eye we were back in our car and headed south to the airport in the Twin Cities.  Before dropping her off at her sister’s apartment, we all had a few precious hours to “hang out” with one another, share a meal together and hug our girls tight before saying goodbye once again.

It’s so much fun to watch the interaction between my three kids.  They enjoy their togetherness and one of them is always joking around or laughing hysterically at the witty comments made by themselves the others.  And as the evening progressed, the jokes became more numerous and their laughter got louder.  There’s nothing like a good dose of humor to lighten the burdens we all carry.  But their silliness is sometimes hard to corral and getting them together (and standing still) for a sibling photo was a feat that did not go well.

Below is the attempt I made to take a photo of my three willfull wonderful children, just moments before heading back north to our little yellow cottage in the Northwoods.

Mom: “Okay kids, some attention here!”

Isaac:  “Sir!  Yes sir!”

“Good attention, but how about keeping your eyes open?”

“NO! Don’t cover her eyes you doof!”

“Oh yes…you all are sooooooooo funny!”

Isaac nodding head up and down – “Yes…we are!”Isaac…still nodding head up and down.

Isaac being a dorky 14 year old boy.

Uhhhh! This is impossible!

Finally….a passable photo!   I love you all…you sweet chickabees!


I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by their playful and silly antics…it’s been going on for as long as I can remember!


Filed under My Joys

Wordless Wednesday #5

Sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow!


Filed under Montana, My Joys, My Travels

Another Vowel Child – meet O.

It’s time to introduce another one of my vowel children.  Today I’d like you to meet my daughter – O – a truly gifted and remarkable young woman.

Our second daughter arrived 2 years and 10 months after her big sister E. had come into this world.  By now, Big D. and I had been parenting for awhile and thought we were getting pretty good at our job.

We’d had our hands full with our first vowel child – E – an exuberant and delightful moppet with a head full of blonde curls; a child who embraced the world in one of two speeds – either on or off.  She was also a somewhat willful little imp whose first word was “no”.  Her strong personality was not a bad thing – she was going to be one of life’s movers & shakers!  Besides, it gave her dad and I an opportunity to discover what parenting was really like.  If you’d like to read her story, just click HERE.

When our second child arrived, just 3 hours and 22 minutes after I went into labor, we were delighted to discover that God had blessed us with another beautiful daughter.

One hour old

We had her name all picked out, a lovely old-fashioned name that I’d heard spoken many times during my youth.  It wasn’t until later that we discovered one meaning of her name – peace.  We gave her the middle name – Rose – not only because she smelled so lovely, but to honor my grandmother whose namesake she shared.

When E. met her sister, the morning after she was born, I knew immediately that these two were going to have a special bond.

12 hours old

Rather than being jealous of her new sibling, E. became a little mother…doting on her baby sister with great tenderness and affection.

4 months

Well, maybe not always so tender…but definitely affectionate!

I assumed that because they had been born to the same family, had the same parents and were the same gender, these girls would have similar personalities.  I thought they’d be like two peas in a pod.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!

From day one, we knew that this second child was much more serene and didn’t require the stimulation that her older sister craved.  In fact, it took us a couple of weeks to discover that at night time, she didn’t want to be carried around and coddled, she just wanted to be laid in her crib – wide awake – to fall asleep on her own! And for some unknown reason she always did this…


And this…

And occasionally….even this!

Though they loved to play together and got along famously, the difference in the two girl’s temperaments was very obvious.

E. was the life of the party…O. was timid, almost shy around people.

E. was strong-willed….O. was compliant.

E. was a bossy little thing…O. was demure and always acquiesced to her big sister’s wishes…

“Hey, let me cut your hair…Mom will never notice”

“Just pet it…I promise it won’t peck your eyes out!”

“There…her hair’s all done. Do you like it?”


There was never a dull moment when these two were together.  Wherever E. was…O was right behind her…following in her big sister’s footsteps.


They read constantly…sometimes while half-naked!

They formed a band.

They wore pointy hair.

They even began to dress alike.

And because her big  sister loved her so much, she shared everything with her.

And I do mean… everything!

Shortly after O. turned 3, it was time for her big sister to start kindergarten.  Seeing as I had a degree in education, we opted to teach E. at home.  In order to create the proper learning environment, we set up an elementary school room in which I taught phonics, math, science, bible & spelling. As I taught E, her younger sister O, sat nearby and colored or looked at picture books and was just a passive observer…or so I thought!

This went on for a couple of years and by the end of first grade, E was reading books on her own and writing short stories.  Unbeknown to us, O. could also read…she just never let on that she knew how! It wasn’t until we were vacationing in Washington state, that we learned of her amazing ability.

We had stopped our vehicle at a railroad crossing and from the back seat of our van, we heard O. say “no stopping on tracks”. We looked up to see that there was a road sign outside her side window that read, “No Stopping On Tracks”.  Needless to say, we were stunned…and delighted!

For years, I had worried that her timidity would be a stumbling block to her.  Many times, when I watched her older sister surrounded by groups of friends, I would ask the Lord to give O. the confidence she lacked.  What I didn’t understand, was that her temperament was completely different than her sister’s and she would one day become very confident and able. I  just needed to trust Him and be patient.

According to the Character Therapist, O. was born with a classic melancholic temperament.  In animal terms she has what’s known as the Beaver personality and these characteristics fit her well:

The Beaver revels in the details others despise. They are creative, practical, factual, perfectionist, detailed, orderly and predictable. Emotionally, they are sensitive–to others and about themselves. They’re thoughtful and serious, and talented.  They are efficient, organized, schedule-oriented, punctual, and can be relied upon to carry out any directives or see a project through to completion.  When it comes to friends, they will sacrifice greatly for those they love and care about.

Little by little, our second daughter was coming into her own. It is said that “still water runs the deepest”.  If this saying has any credence, then O. would one day be an ocean!  As she grew, in both age and stature,  a quiet confidence began to emerge.

Age 6 – Christmas

Age 8 – camping

Age 10 – birthday

Age 13 – 1st day of school

Age 16

Age 18 – Duluth


This quiet,  gentle and independent spirit is something about our second daughter that has remained with her throughout her life – oft times directing her to do things on her own;  many times without our prompting or even our support.

When she was about 12 years old, O. went alone, to our public library and performed in a talent show, dancing  and lip-syncing and bringing home the grand prize – a $50 gift certificate.  And this was after I had tried discouraging her from participating. And much to my shame, I did not even attend the show myself.

She began dabbling in photography at about the same time and has now established a small business and set up her own website – Arm’s Length Photography – winning awards for her work.

While still in grade school, O. announced to her dad & I that she wanted to become her class valedictorian and from that day on she worked toward that goal.  Her years in high school were busy…so busy that she seldom had time to stop and take a breath.We worried about her and prayed daily that God would sustain her and direct her in the way she was to go.

It was with humble and grateful hearts that her dad and I watched as she received the honor of class valedictorian on June 4, 2010, fulfilling the vow she’d made to herself years before!

Deciding on a college was a big decision for her and she had many schools to choose from – some close to home and one all the way across the country.  After much prayer and with conviction in her heart, she headed West and is currently a freshman at Biola University in La Mirada, California.  Never one to shy away from a new adventure, she has already begun to establish herself at Biola –  having entered and won a school-wide video contest before her first semester of college had even finished.  Click on My Journey to view her video.

It’s hard to believe that this successful and confident young woman was once the little girl I worried so much about.  And to think that she spent the first 18 months of her life planted firmly on my hip…our little barnacle baby…now detached and discovering for herself the wonderful plans that God has for her life. What a journey she’s got waiting for her!


Filed under My Gratitude, My Joys

Additional Funniness

For those of you who are coming to my blog – This Life of Wander – for the first time, I’m in the process of polling my friends and family on a very serious matter….the relative funniness of my younger sister, G. (Okay…enough with the initial…her name is Gen!)  If you haven’t read the post entitled 95% Funny, you can click HERE and read it for yourself.  After you’re done there, please come back and cast your vote in the poll below.  Simple. Easy. Sweatless. No problemo!

If you need more convincing regarding Gen’s  incredible sense of humor and wit, take a gander at another postcard that she sent my way.  This one arrived a week after my daughter posted her graduation party invite on Facebook.  Make sure to click on pix to enlarge the photo and view her comments.

Comment  inside:   Damn Facebook!



Filed under My Joys

95% Funny

When I look at my siblings – a group of four girls and two boys – I’m always amazed at how different we all are.  I’m not talking about the physical differences like body type and hair color, but the diversity of our temperaments.  A few of us are definitely extroverts; the others are introverts.  Some are task-oriented; others are people-oriented.  Hippocrates gave these temperaments names –  melancholic, sanguine, choleric and phlegmatic – which he believed influenced our personalities.

I personally like the lesser known profile that was developed by Dr. Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent. They base their personalities around animal characteristics.  If I could attach an animal name to each of my siblings (including myself), I’d say that there are two lion personalities, two beavers, two golden retrievers and one otter in my family of origin.

My youngest sister – let’s call her G – is the one lone otter in our family.  I don’t know why God decided to place her, all alone, in a group of six siblings, all with very strong personality traits…but I sure am glad that He did!  G. is one of the most outgoing, friendly and exuberant people I’ve ever known.  She’s thrilled with the littlest things that many of us would simply overlook, like finding loose change underneath the parking meter, or nabbing a great deal at one of her local thrift stores.   I delight in her personality type and being a Beaver myself  (slow-paced/task-oriented)  I love the fact that she embraces life with gusto!

According to The Character Therapist:

The Otter is an enthusiastic, energetic, spontaneous and friendly person. They’ve got appealing personalities and mix easily with just about anyone. They love people and are often the life of the party. They have a great sense of humor, infectious laughter, and often regale groups of people with stories.  They can be engaging, cheerful, sometimes just bubbling over. Their wide-eyed innocence and wonder keeps them sincere at heart. You might relate them to being a Peter Pan…the little child who never grew up.

Otters are all about relationship. They always seem exciting and fun, and simply thrive on compliments of any kind, as they need affirmation on their self. They enjoy the popularity, the spotlight, the center of attention. They like high-impact entertainment…so having an Otter as a friend will prevent lots of monotonous social outings. They are sensitive and want others to be happy, often being quick to offer encouragement and support to others.

A couple of years back, G. told me that her three girls had a discussion regarding who was the funniest person in their family. To my sister’s dismay, the kids voted their father the funniest, or in their words, “Dad is 100% funny. Mom, you’re only 95% funny”.  We laughed long and hard over that one!

As the months have passed, I’ve had an opportunity to see my sister at her finest and I have decided now to stand in her defense.  I think that she is also 100% funny. If you doubt my assessment of her funniness, I’d like to tell you a story and let you decide for yourself.

Last summer, in an attempt to make some much needed spending money for an upcoming trip, I participated in a local craft show, selling hand-made jewelry that I had been laboring over for weeks.  Unfortunately, few buyers came to the show and therefore, my sales were much lower than I had expected.  To be completely honest, I barely made my show fee.  I came home feeling depressed and discouraged and I called my sister G. to share the bad news with her.  A few days later this postcard arrived in the mail, compliments of my sister…the otter.

On the back was written:

Dear Mrs. V.B…

Sorry to hear the show sucked. If it’s any comfort, I hear the lady

who makes the “entomology jewelry” also did poorly.

Probably poor advertising.

See you Sunday. Love – G.

I want give my readers the opportunity to participate in this potentially life-altering honorarium.  If  you think my sister deserves to be given the title  of  “100% funny parent” please cast your vote below:


With much gratitude to Him for…

32. Sisters – a friend and confidant that goes with you for a lifetime

33. Laughter – a daily dose that makes the difficult things in life easier to bear

34. Siblings – someone who knows your whole story and loves you just the same


Filed under My Gratitude, My Joys

My Vowel Children – meet E.

Yes, it’s true! My children all have names that begin with vowels.

I didn’t plan it this way…some things just kind of unfold and before you know it, a pattern has emerged.  I wanted names that matched my childrens’ looks and personalities – kind of a challenging thing to do when they’re just hours old and their noses are still squashed flat from delivery and their skin is wrinkled and pruney and they don’t look fully human yet!   But I think my husband and I did a pretty good job getting it right. We just happened to like old-fashioned names that began with the letters E, I and O.

If we hadn’t felt so old and tired by the time #3 came along, we might have continued on with an A and then a U child.  Alas! Some things just aren’t meant to be. It’s kind of bittersweet.  I had some great A names picked out! Alexandra, Abigail, Adelaide, Amelia, Annelise, Aurora, Aaron, Alastair, Arthur or Augustus.  The U names would have been a real stretch. Let’s not even go there! As it turned out, we named our dog Augustus instead – Gus for short. Good thing too. Great name for a dog…terrible one for a little boy to grow into!

But enough of the rambling…it’s E. that I’d like you to meet today. A little background first.  I had faced some big challenges in the years just prior to E’s conception – graduated college and married in 1984; widowed in 1985;  remarried in 1986; back to college in 1987; pregnant in 1988.  I was just finishing my student teaching when a bout of exhaustion sent me to bed for a few days. I thought it was the beginning of chronic fatigue syndrome. Turned out that I was pregnant. Almost the same thing!

We were thrilled with the news and praised God for His goodness. It was especially meaningful to me because on October 12, 1985, I had buried my first husband and with him went my hopes for a future with a lifetime partner and family. I didn’t know it then, but God had different plans in store for me.  Remarrying was the first surprise. Getting pregnant with E. was the next…giving birth to her was the pinnacle.

The months leading up to E’s birth were very memorable – big D. came to all her prenatal appointments and in August, he suffered through the humiliation of Lamaze classes. He did great though and we had perfected our focused breathing – in through the nose, slowly out though the mouth.  I was confident that we would have a normal, natural birth free from medical interventions and drugs. Ha!

Both of us grew more anxious as the projected date of birth – October 29th – drew closer.  When I saw my doctor on October 11th, he said I wouldn’t be needing my overnight bag just yet.  I still had another 2-1/2 weeks to go, so when I got home from my appointment I crawled up on a ladder and installed storm windows.  It just seemed like a logical thing to do!

As I went to bed that night, I started to think about the next day – October 12th – and the sadness it always stirred in my heart and I wondered if the pain would always be there.  I got my answer quite abruptly! At 1 a.m. my water broke and early or not, I was going to have a baby.   At 10 o’clock that night – exactly three years after my first husband’s death – big D. and I welcomed our beautiful, squalling, vernix-coated baby into the world.  We had planned on calling her Alexandra, but when we met her for the first time we knew that name didn’t quite “fit”. We chose a different, but perfect E. name instead.

There was pain that day – October 12, 1988 – but it was a good pain, one that was able to erase all the heartache a young widow had ever known.  And we called her Elizabeth – God’s promise; holy and sacred to God.

In gratitude for…

20. new beginnings and hope for tomorrow

21. my daughter – a gift of love

22. the plans He has for us

Liz – 2 hours old

1 month

one year old

2-1/2 years

3-1/2 years

5-1/2 years

Liz 7 – Livvy 4

Liz 9

In Maine – Liz 12

Liz 15

Liz – high school graduation

Liz today

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Psalm 127: 2-4

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-12


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Wordless Wednesday #1

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