Living More-with-Less

Recreation & Schedules

'3 Skuzins and a Funkle.'

What started out as singing together as a family for Anna, Emma, Maddie, and Phil Ruth has turned into the recording of two albums and touring locally in and around Harleysville, Pa.

Anna credited her early interest in singing to her grandparents. Her grandmother leads signing at her home church, Salford Mennonite. "I still have memories of my grandmother taking my hand and guiding it as if I were conducting during hymns at church," said Anna. "The tradition of hymn-singing was one of the biggest things I think my grandparents want to pass on."

Anna spoke of her close-knit family and the important role music played during family dinners. By the time she was in elementary school, Anna, her younger sister Emma, her cousin Maddie, and her uncle Phil began seriously collaborating musically together. Singing mostly traditional folk and Irish folk songs, the group began singing at local retirement homes. When Anna was in middle school, they decided to record an album for the church's MYF auction, and so forming the official group 3 Skuzins and a Funkle (sister-cousins and a father-uncle).

Anna said, "We recorded the entire CD in one night at church during a blizzard." Since then, the group has continued singing at retirement homes, at coffee houses, during weddings and funerals. During the summer of 2009, the group recorded a second album. Now that Anna is a student at Goshen College while her skuzins remain in Pennsylvania, the group has less of a chance to sing together, but when she visits home they are sure to continue sharing their music.

Submitted by Alysha Bergey Landis, Harleysville, Pa.

Memory-making.

My mother was an expert at creating memory snapshots in our minds. A simple event became a monumental milestone simply by calling attention to it and then later retelling the stories. When my brother and I were in elementary school, we planted a hillside of pine tree seedlings. My mother took photos and announced, "Someday I will sleep under these trees with my grandchildren." Years later she did just that. Then she told the stories and took the photos to make it a monument to the hope of planting trees.

Jeanne Zimmerly Jantzi, Salatiga, Central Java, Indonesia

For more information

Families with Purpose: Offers ideas for Family Nights and resources for families that feel over-stressed.

Twenty Fun Frugal Ideas: Fun craft projects for kids with recycled materials from around the house.

Creative Kids at Home: A free library of ideas for activities, crafts, and games with children that avoid commercial influence.

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