Sweet Harmony

I recently shared a titch about the sweet, sweet harmony reigning in our home since both of my girls started music lessons in September. But I was skeptical about squeezing a piano into our tiny living room. A piano is generally a big-ticket item, and I really, really want to instill an appreciation for frugality in my children.

Well, it turns out I know a guy who knows a guy who is a professional tuner by day, and he gave us a great deal on a 1950s Kimball that’s in super good shape. Not excellent shape, which is perfect for me, because I’m happy to give it a little cosmetic love. So with plenty of encouragement from a music teacher that I am thankful to have in the girls’ lives, my hubby and her hubby carefully hauled it up our front-stoop stairs and into our living room.

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Here’s what the experts say: Playing an instrument is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout, especially for children. Learning to play an instrument develops physical attributes in the fine-motor-skills department for sure, but research is now showing that learning an instrument aids in emotional and behavioral maturation as well. That means the little ones are honing their attention skills, managing their anxiety, and gaining control of their emotions, because playing an instrument actually thickens the parts of the brain used to fight depression, aggression, and attention problems.

In school, music-makers generally understand math and science concepts more easily. By learning about note lengths and how they relate to the whole piece of music, students exercise the part of the brain that processes proportional thinking, and that kind of thinking is required to understand math and science at higher levels. It also improves spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the ability to see disassembled parts and mentally put them back together.

Wow, all that from a little ivory tickling. The results I’ve seen in the short time we’ve had our piano are rather astounding. The girls even play it while they brush their teeth! To say the least, they are appreciating it far more than I ever dreamed. This year, I’m anticipating a year filled with sweet, sweet harmony and music.

American Trade Cards, Boston Public Library via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Ohh, Megan, what a lovely piano deal you were able to purchase! I remember when my girls were little and we got our piano. It was fun learning to play duets together too as they got a bit better. Plus, it was fun to watch them increase in skill and play beautiful songs. For a few years, I even took lessons. I agree with you that having a musical instrument like a piano in the home just brings out great opportunities for family enjoyment. Tell, Stella and Mia that I wish them the best with their lessons and exploration of music!

  2. How wonderful for all of your family ! Congrats and keep on ticklin’ those ivories, the girls will be popular at parties all their lives even if they don’t grow up to be concert pianists.

  3. Bobbie calgaro says:

    I can buy into a lot of what was said about what music can do except the math part. My mind wants no part of math and my grades all through school reflect that. I took about seven years of piano lessons so it should have rubbed off in the math area at some point. But not so much. Lol

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    Yay for your girls . . . and your family! I’m a pianist having started learning before I even started school. So, I’ve spent my life at the piano keyboard. It’s a “whole body exercise”. The brain training that takes place is amazing . . . your left hand and your right hand are doing entirely different things. You have to play the right notes, get your timing accurate, get your dynamics in there . . . and make it MUSICAL!
    Enjoy the ride, girls!

  5. Linda says:

    So nice you got a great deal on a piano. There has been a piano in my life from day 1 – my mother played every day. I took piano lessons from age 4 and then started violin in 3rd grade at school. I have always been good in math and love math – to this day I love working with numbers. It helps in designing quilt blocks. Now science, that is a different story. I’ve never been great at science. But I think music helped when I was having to type computer code for engineers I worked with. Several times I pointed out something that just looked strange to me – there was a series of code with repeats, and yet something looked wrong. I was right! LOL! Music is great for kids of all ages.

  6. Krista says:

    Megan, what a great find. I’m glad you were able to find a piano and give your girls such an amazing gift. When I was younger I played the violin, the piano, and the flute. To this day I still have a love for music and can agree with the experts on the benefits. During school I was good at math and science, even though I didn’t care too much for math. There is just something about music that can completely change your outlook. I hope that your girls continue to find joy and passion in playing the piano and you will have a year full of wonderful tunes.

  7. Cindi says:

    That is a very nice looking piano ~ congratulations on the best investment ever 🙂 Those girls can take music with them to the end of time. Not so with many other types of extracurricular activities. You might have to push them through a ‘piano lessons are borrrrring’ phase at some point, but they will thank you in the end.

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Looks like chill time with new books from Christmas? And possibly a new baby doll to love?

  2. New books for christmas how wonderful !
    Speaking of books, how did you like your christmas gift book MaryJane? ONe of my personal favorites I just had to share with you.

  3. Bonnie ellis says:

    Those girls are growing like weeds. You are so lucky to have them in your life. Children are blessed when they have grandparents around.

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You know you’re a farmgirl when …

boxes like this make you extremely happy!

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But I’d better be honest and let you know that not only have I never assembled something like this, this would only be my second time using a miter saw. But I got right to work on the assembly …

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First thing I did was cut this tag off so I could read it properly …

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“Pinch and impact hazard. This cable tie prevents the stand from accidently raising during assembly. Do not cut until instructed to do so in the assembly portion of the instruction manual.”

Oops … guess I was supposed to wait until much later in the instructions to remove the tag. Needless to say, I did survive the assembly and have spent the rest of the day with my ear protection, goggles, and gloves on cutting 1x8s for an upcoming magazine project. Stay tuned …

And remember, read tags before you remove them. 😉

Photo Nov 03, 3 38 16 PM


  1. Oh Meg, I have DeWalt envy. I always contemplate their rechargable drill when I see it at the hardware store.
    And yes I would have done the exact same thing! Ever since I was a child I have never read instructions all the way through before starting a project.
    Good luck with your mitering.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Megan, show us what you did using the miter saw. After putting it all together, I am now curious to see what it can be used for. Some of “us” are sort of machine challenged!

  3. Cindi says:

    You are a very brave farmgirl!!! I’m still learning how to safely operate my sewing machine. One of these saws would be really cool to have though. Maybe I should start simple and get that vise first.

    • Megan says:

      I think I can say the miter saw was easier to get the hang of then my sewing machine. 🙂 At least, it’s easier to cut a straight line than it is to sew one!

  4. Rebecca says:

    I want one now that I have seen yours. I have always wanted to learn woodworking since I have so many patterns. Showed this to my husband and his response was that this is why men have complex issues. I told him that I was willing to trade him my apron and I’ll take his woodworking tools. LOL

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Rain Makes for Easier Travel?

We’ve finally had quite a few rain showers here on the Palouse, and the girls and I have spent many a recent morning outfitted in our rain boots and umbrellas on our walk to school. No complaints here. I still get a thrill when I stomp through puddles!

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I’m careful with my stomping, however; there’s rarely a puddle without an earthworm in it, and I’d prefer to not squash them. On a recent return trip from dropping the girls at school, I spent some time contemplating earthworms and puddles, and I thought, “There must be more to it.” I went right home to the Internet. It turns out, they need moisture to survive and won’t drown like us humans when submerged in water. Scientists believe that earthworms surface during rain storms because it’s easier for them to travel, taking advantage of slick, wet surfaces to move quickly, something they can’t do when the weather is hot and dry. Another explanation is that rain falling on the ground gives off the same vibrations as their biggest predator, the mole, thus alarming the worms to escape to the surface.

  1. Ah Meg, another mystery of life solved! When I was Little I loved snakes , but thought worms were ” icky”. I was under the delusion that night crawlers being so large were snakes and I was always catching them and keeping them as pets.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Such a gorgeous walk in the fall leaves to school. Your information on earthworms is interesting and something I didn’t know about. This is what I love about our morning gathering here at MJF. So many interesting topics are discussed and shared!

  3. Cindi says:

    Well, phooo, scientists. All this time I thought it rained earthworms. It must. There are so many here that you have to be very, very careful walking in the rain. I’ve never been one to be squeamish about worms ~ I’ll bait your hook in a minute, but some rainy days when I open the garage door and they are dangling from the edges and plop down on the car as I back out ~ well, that does get to be a bit much. Makes for a funny story to tell the squeamish though. Watch ’em squirm 🙂

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A Day at the Junkyard

To some folks, it might be the junkyard, but to us, it’s mistitled and should be named the treasure yard. Check out the squirrel hanging above our heads—clearly a treasure for someone. He made a good mascot for our excursion.

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Looking for inspiration for new projects for both the magazine and our Sisterhood newsletter, Kristi, Cassi, and I decided to venture to the local salvage/treasure yard. I also ought to introduce these two officially. Cassi is our new Marketing Assistant, but really, she’s family, as she started out as our nanny years ago. We’re just happy we snagged her again when she graduated this past spring. And Kristi’s official title is Editor’s Assistant. What that really means is Kristi is my right hand farm hand. We work hand-in-hand on most projects, and there isn’t anyone I’d rather do it with.

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Our local salvage yard is acres of goodies. We searched high and low for a few tin-man parts (watch for him in an upcoming magazine issue).

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And for your own inspiration, here are few piles I couldn’t help but take a quick snapshot of. I’m sure we can come up with something to create from these treasures.

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In fact, I already have a plan that requires a pile of springs … every farmgirl needs a pile of springs!

Photo Oct 13, 1 47 29 PM



  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Now, that is what I call a fun jaunt! No agenda, just pals and an open mind for what looks inspiring. Now that pile of springs? I’m definitely gonna need a LOT of help with being one of those Farmgirls who needs a pile of them at her home! Can’t wait to see what repurposing ideas come together from this trip.

    Hi Kristi! Nice to meet you Cassi!

  2. Cindi says:

    Oh I hope you got those curly cue hook thingies sticking up in that bowl there!! I have an idea or two for them ~ hmmm, ‘cept maybe we would also need a nice tree, or.. sumthin (brain is making whirling noises now). What fun that day must have been.

  3. Kristi Wildung says:

    Hi Winnie! I think a little field trip may be in order the next time you’re up this way. We can cure you of your spring aversion 🙂

  4. Linda says:

    WOW! Some great junque there. Can’t wait to see what you make out of it. And such nice springs! I have access to a complete box/mattress spring set and love all the ideas on Pinterest. Can’t wait to make something from them myself.

  5. Krista says:

    This looks like so much fun! I can only imagine how many cool things you can find in a junk yard that can be transformed into something new. I can’t wait to see the next magazine issue and see that tin-man. My all-time favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz. I just might be making a trip to my local junk yard now so I can make my own tin-man. Thanks for the great idea.

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Our Little Farmers

We took our Tabitha out again. On the way home, we stopped to stretch our legs in the middle of Washington state farmland.

Photo Sep 07, 5 23 52 PM (1)

The gravel surrounding the silos was a perfect spot for a quick game of tag, but when I came around the side of the camper, I found Stella hunched over the dog’s water bowl with a handful of the stray wheat berries …

Photo Sep 07, 5 36 18 PM (1)

… planting wheat, of course.

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And Mia, being a tad younger, was around the other side of the truck planting hers in the gravel, no water needed. Ha!


  1. Karlyne says:

    Adorable! Hooray for our future farmers!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Too cute!!!

  3. Too Sweet-like there won’t be random wheat growing there anyway. Wow your western silos are so much bigger than those around here.

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We took our Tabitha on an excursion.

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We stayed next door to NannyJane and Grandpa with Uncle Brian and Aunt Ashley and their kiddos just down the lane in the Forest Service campground we stayed in. I’m sure you’ll be seeing many more pics of NannyJane’s new glamper, but I’m sneaking you a peek for now.

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The grandparents brought the good stuff. Plenty of tomatoes from the garden, and every granddaughter needs a s’more!

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  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Love that s’more face!!

  2. Gail M says:

    I just returned from Colorado. While I was there or somewhere in between there and Nebraska, I saw a trailer much like the Shasta ….it was beautiful! I had never seen a trailer quite like it….it had wings! It was being pulled by a matching red vintage pickup. Could it have been this one? Blessings from Kansas!

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Bath Time

We’ve had such a warm summer, but it’s coming to an end. To celebrate our first day of cooler weather, we bundled up and headed to the tub, farmgirl style.

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It even started to rain, which we’ve been dreaming of for weeks!

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I wish I had been able to take advantage of a long tub soak last May! Next time for sure. It looks luxurious and Fun!!!

  2. Bonnie ellis says:

    They are so cute in that tub. Wish I would have had a girl too. Enjoy those special moments.

  3. Kay Baucom says:

    My granddaughters are coming to visit and I wish I had a set up like this for them. Some day…..

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Our Lentil Festival

We love our lentils and their farmers so much here on the Palouse that we hold an annual two-day celebration to honor them. And why not? Our region grows 25% of the nation’s lentil supply, and we are world-renowned for producing the highest quality lentils in the U.S.

Since 1989, revelers have visited Pullman, Washington (our little sister city right across the border), from all across the country to celebrate this tiny legume during the Lentil Festival. The chosen weekend in August always coincides with the beginning of a new school year for both of our universities (The University of Idaho here in Moscow and Washington State University in Pullman) as well as our local schools, so you’re bound to run into someone you know while you sample some lentil chili from a 600-gallon pot.

lentil chili pot via lentilfest.com

That’s right, they stir it with a boat paddle!

If you’re the athletic sort, you can run in the 5K race, play a game of 3-on-3 basketball, glide through a skateboard competition, or join in the mini golf tournament.

lentil festival runners via lentilfest.com

And don’t forget the parade! The little cuties below are this year’s ‘Lil Lentil King and Queen.

lentil festival parade via lentilfest.com

Local artisans display their wares, a stage hosts great live music, and a beer and wine garden features local microbrews and wines.

Of course, it’s not all about parties and parades. This year, local sponsors partnered with Feeding Children Everywhere, and thanks to their support and the work of many volunteers, 25,000 healthy meals featuring lentils were hand-packed for local distribution. And our local humane shelter raised $30,000 for the animals.

If you’re out this way next year, you should definitely drop in. There’s a little something for everyone.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is fascinating about the lentils. I didn’t know your area was so well known for growing them. The lentil celebration looks like fun and then one gets to sample that vat of cooking lentils. You gotta love those rural american local celebrations. They are the best!

  2. Pingback: Feeding Children Everywhere | Raising Jane Journal

  3. Debra Ann Grauman-Harvill says:

    So proud of my State for contributing to rid this planet of hungry people!

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First Day of School

Somehow, summer has come to an end and I now have a second grader and a first grader. Back to school we went!

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And since we don’t get to move into our new house for another few weeks, we got to head off to school from the farm. Pretty exciting for these two farmgirls.

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Here’s to wishing you all a wonderful year!


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Happy School Days Stella and Mia! Have a wonderful year making new friends, learning new things, and enjoying new challenges. You both look so festive all decked out for your first day too! Love your pretty scarves and big smiles.

  2. wow how sweet to take a pic like that with the little blackboards!The girls look so festive! My first day of school oh so many years ago I wore a bright red smocked dress with those little puffy round sleeves and the sash tied in a big bow in the back. White socks and oxblood oxfords ( it was the 50s -no sneakers to school then )

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