Thursday, December 19, 2013

While I'm Bragging

This is a video of Charlotte's first violin recital. She did a twinkle variation played on the open E string. I was so proud of her getting up there all on her own which was the hardest part for her.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Vomit and Other Christmas Items

For some reason throwing up and Christmas seem invariably connected in our family.  Not sure why.  It just happens.  This year's reincarnation of pukefest happened for the last five days.  FIVE DAYS.  During that time Lee was sick and Greg was sick then I was sick then Greg was sick again then Charlotte our last bastion of health succumbed and spent Sunday looking like death warmed over.

Speaking of which I have noticed a clear division of what the sick face looks like at our house.  Greg and I turn pasty, ghostly white.  Dan, Charlotte and Lee get sort of green looking with purple raccoon eyes.  I have never seen so dramatic a change as I do in Charlotte's face when she's sick. It was horrible. Also I kept feeling bad because I wasn't getting any of our Christmas things done.  We weren't baking.  We weren't delivering presents, we weren't singing songs.  I was feeling decidedly left out of the season. And on top of all that Dan was GONE.  Gone I tell you! It was residency interview weekend and call weekend and so he saw very little of the horribleness that was The Barfarama.  There was no way I could have made it through without the very thoughtful and generous help of my friends and neighbors.  I am overwhelmed with the support I get from people here.

Anyway, since Charlotte was sick yesterday she couldn't go to school today.  By my count she was student number 6 in her class to be sick in the past week.  And in an effort to slow the progress of this horrible virus she wasn't allowed back until 24 hours of symptom free had happened.  But she was perfectly fine today. She was fine and I was fine and Lee was fine and Greg was fine and did I mention that we had been stuck inside for five days? Because yeah.  I'm not a homebody.

So today I decided we weren't staying home.  And I also decided that we weren't going to watch any screens.  No TV, laptop, iPad, DVD player.  And that's when I finally welcomed in Christmas.

First, when Greg woke up today he was howling with tears.  This he does occasionally.  Any and every thing will set him off and the only way to stop it is to completely change his environment.  So we decided to try out Moms and tots ice skating.  It was our first time and we were the only ones on the ice.  For nine dollars (one adult and one youth and one skate rental) we had the ice to ourselves for an hour.  It was amazing.
 Lee, in true form wanted so very badly to be with the big kids he got that cage thing and figured out how to clumsily move himself around the ice-in skates that were two sizes too big.
 I had to get a guy that worked at the REC center to take our photo because again, we were the only ones there. Also I was totally sweating.  No need for the heavy coat when the rink is indoors!
 Skating was super fun right up until the Zamboni came out to smooth out the hockey rink next to ours.  Then the boys rather quickly gave up on skating and watched the process with a keen interest. That's alright Charlotte and I raced (she's faster than I) and twirled (she's smoother than I) and had fun. She even taught me how to stop, which I never knew before.  My preferred method is running into the wall.
Here is Lee when we had finished our hour.  You can see here his most preferred shoes these days are his boots.
 After the ice rink Charlotte decided that we needed to have our very own Christmas pageant. Mary and Joseph started out in Lee's room and traveled to Bethlehem in my room.  Baby Jesus was born and put in a bowl or manger whichever you prefer.  The nativity went well until the shepherd really REALLY wanted to hold the baby Jesus and Mary wouldn't let him.  Since it was about a half our past the shepherd's nap you can imagine how that went.

After Lee went down for a nap the three of us headed to the back yard and went sledding.  Charlotte discovered sledding downhill while standing on her sled like it was a snowboard.  When she got too scared she'd just fall off.
 After sledding and shoveling the driveway, and then baths, and then a successful treasure hunt looking for my lost ring we decided to make gingerbread men.  We only made the dough though.  Save some fun for tomorrow. Just before bed we rounded off the night with A Charlie Brown Christmas.  So not really a screen free day, but a pretty amazing "sick day" if you ask me.

Below is a video of Charlotte's skating.  Thanks to Great Grandma and Grandpa's Christmas presents the last few years Charlotte's lessons have taught her these skills. (Sorry my voice is so loud.)

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Christmas Shopping

Saturday afternoon, when Dan got off work, he and I decided to take a trip out to Cabela's and the Outlet Mall to do a little Christmas shopping. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I feel I have to write down some of what happened.

We were in Cabela's and after spotting Santa and sitting on his lap for a photo (except not Lee because the whole world would have come to an end) the kids got pretty hyped up about Christmas presents.  Except oddly not for themselves. Santa asked Charlotte what she wanted for Christmas and she said, "I don't know. Surprises I guess."  I attribute this to not watching any commercials on TV for however long its been since we cancelled cable TV and only watch things on Amazon prime. At any rate they were excited to find presents for other people.  

The tricky part about present shopping with the whole family is that everyone you are trying to buy for is standing right there.  Charlotte found a whistle she thought Lee would enjoy.  She wanted to keep the surprise (not realizing that his memory doesn't last that long) so she attempted to put it in her pocket.  I told her that we can't do that until after we pay for it.  Somehow Greg must not have heard that exchange.  About twenty minutes later we were in the camping section looking at flashlights for Daddy.  The kids agreed on a camping lantern to give to Daddy as a present.  As I'm trying to figure out how to get this across the store without Dan noticing Greg excitedly comes up to me and stage whispers in my ear, "MOM! I have my present for Daddy in my pants!" Yes, that's right.  He had taken a different flashlight off the shelf and shoved it down his pants.  Merry Christmas and a happy new felon!

The keeping the surprise lasted through check out as well.  I was paying for Dan's gift and I had hidden the gift Charlotte had picked out for Greg.  I told Greg to go look at the magnets.  He didn't want to, but whining about not wanting to distracted him enough that the checker lady quick took the present and put it behind the counter and then in the bag without him noticing.  Charlotte also didn't notice the quick moves of the checker because about 10 seconds later I hear her say, "OK MOM! NOW!" I look over and she has Greg in a head lock with one arm and is covering his eyes with the other. Nothing says I love you like nearly wrestling your brother to the ground.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lee's Words I Love

Lee is getting a lot of words right now.  Some are not fun (MINE! NO!), but some are very, very fun.  He doesn't say them right and the mispronunciation makes them all the more endearing to me. I'm not even going to try to spell out how he says them.  I'm just writing them to remember.
Nap time
belly button
Kara (Charlotte's friend)

Monday, November 18, 2013

What's for dinner?

Today I sat down and planned our food out.  It's printed out and currently hanging on our fridge.  Then I wrote a list and went to the store and purchased all that food.

All that took from 9:30 until 1:30. And also about $250. Gah!

But, it's worth it for the feeling I have when I look at a fully stocked fridge full of food that promises to be delicious.  As I was checking out the lady behind me noticed a box of pop tarts to the side of the register and asked, "These aren't yours are they?" To which I shrugged and said, "No." Then she said, "They didn't look like they belonged with the rest of the food you had there."

I thought that was funny because I'm not opposed to pop tarts every now and then.  I didn't want them today and whats more the part of the food that was left was all produce, baby lettuces, avocados, onions.  She didn't see the four boxes of mac n cheese (one of the few things I can count on Lee to actually eat) or the hot dogs (a favorite of Greg).

Often I wonder if I'm really feeding my children and my body the right things.  I hope I am.  I don't consider myself an extreme of healthy living or eating, but I'm certainly not buying boxed dinners every night.  I've never done a fad diet, but I've also never had frozen dinners nightly either.

And for me, for this family, for us maybe that's the key. Middle of the road.  Sometimes cookies are eaten instead of apples.  But so long as my kids know what asparagus, and turnips, and celery are I think I've done my part.

Now ask me that tonight when I have a young boy that throws my dinner on the ground instead of even trying one bite and you might get a different answer.

Friday, November 15, 2013


When I was young my parents bought me an electric mattress pad. I loved that thing. My room was in the daylight basement and that house was cold. Nobody else believed me, but I was cold I tell you. My mom thought it was funny that I would keep it on even in August. I'll tell you what though, last July when I was there for a visit I turned that thing on. 

I was thinking about that electric mattress pad last weekend when Dan was in Dallas. Then he came back and I realized he's better than one of those things. Just his body heat keeps the bed warm enough. And if it isn't I can scoot closer and be in his circle of warmth. 

He must know this because every day when he gets up at 4am he reaches down, pulls the comforter up and covers me so the warmth won't leave me. Now that's true love.

A not very flattering photo of us with Dan yet again asleep.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Opposite Day

Charlotte woke up this morning and declared today opposite day.  The problem here is that everyone else either A) Doesn't get it or B) Doesn't care.  It produced some funny and frustrating moments during our morning routine.  Here is one of them:

C: Lee, today is opposite day so we get to say that Greg is a girl.
C: Greg, it's opposite day so that means we call you a girl.
C: Girls are the second most complicated thing there is!  Right behind rockets. Don't you want to be the second most complicated thing?
Me: I think he just wants to be a boy because he is a boy.
G: NO! I want to be a cheetah.

After that followed a discussion of if he wants to be a cheetah then we need to call him whatever the opposite of cheetah is and what is the opposite of a cheetah anyway.

After I found out she would do whatever I asked her to so long as I played along with her opposite game this little gem happened:

Me: Charlotte the dishwasher doesn't need to be emptied so you don't have to do it now.
C: What? Oh! OK! She walks over and starts emptying the dishwasher.
C: Greg, the silverware isn't clean and doesn't need to be put away.
G: OK. Then he keeps playing with his cars because he still doesn't get it.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Dan's Gone

Having Daddy gone shouldn't be such a big deal anymore, but it is.  He had a very busy week this week wherein he saw the children once on Wednesday night then left for a training meeting Thursday and wont see them again until Monday.  I'm trying not to let it get to me because if it does the kids will let it get to them.

Every time the front door opens Lee runs to it so he can welcome Daddy home.  Then is very disappointed to find out it was just me taking out the garbage. He is also very funny and very frustrating and changing every single day.  He is totally communicating with me now, even though much of what is communicated is non-verbal.

Ice skating lessons started last night.  Charlotte was so proud to be moved up to the red group.  Probably I should figure out what that means exactly since I realized that after three seasons now I should consider getting a bit more involved.  Greg joined her last night and was so cute on his hockey skates.  He got off the ice and said he didn't like falling down, but he can't wait to try again next week.

Charlotte is having her first violin recital on Sunday.  She worked so hard and her teacher told her on Thursday that she will actually get to use the violin for the recital.  She was thrilled and I was thrilled.  We've been playing "pretend it's recital time" wherein she practices her twinkle variation while standing on top of the arts and crafts table.  Then we all clap and cheer wildly for her.  She even received a new dress for the occasion (thanks grandma).

This, this is what Daddy is missing.  Usually it doesn't get to me because I know my children know that their daddy loves them.  He loves them so much and they are precious to him and he finds ways of showing them that even though he misses these things. I just wish medicine didn't have to take over this particular weekend.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Big Sigh of Relief

One trait of the women in my family is that they love trees.  I was practically raised by druid women.  The last time I counted my parent's 1/4ish acre lot my parents had planted 25 trees on it.  It looks beautiful.  Our yard boasts 7 trees 2 of which are evergreens.  That means 5 trees turning beautiful colors and dropping leaves.

I spent all of October holding my breath in dread over these 5 trees.  Or really over 3 of them.  You see one in the back yard got sick and then I think might have infected the other two.  Or, if you ask Dan, maybe not.  At any rate two of these trees are a total source of joy in my life.  They grow quickly and are beautiful in the summer. In the spring the tiny leaves are so funny to see growing on the branches making them look like fuzzy caterpillars. They also provide shade and privacy.  The problem is that they are not sturdy trees. They just aren't.  Each big storm we look out to see what branches tore off of them. So you can naturally see how I spent my October worrying over them. September was unusually warm.  Then it turned cold quickly so the leaves didn't really get a chance to turn colors and drop.  I was in constant fear that it would snow on those weak branches with leaves still on and our trees would be goners.

Worry no more my friends. Last night was a cold windy night and I woke up this morning to a blanket of gold covering our backyard.  Beautiful.  And now if it snows I'm less worried over the trees. Though if it snows on top of the leaves in the grass the lawn is a goner.  Well, win some lose some right?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

My Favorite

So you know what my favorite holiday is? Thanksgiving. I like it so much we celebrate it every day for a month.  We do tons of stuff, some of it service oriented, some of it religious, some of it turkey hands and the like. We check out Thanksgiving books from the library and read them all month long. Usually this gets my creative juices flowing and I enjoy doing these things with my kids. I thinking spending so much time being grateful makes our whole family happier.

Somehow I have had a hard time getting into it this year. I took down all our Halloween decorations, but have nothing to put up for Thanksgiving.  I was thinking about skipping the thankful bowl entirely this year until last night when Charlotte asked about it.  I guess I'll have to put some more effort into my celebrations this year.

Anybody else have ideas that I could use?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Medicinal Thoughts on Medicine

I went to Utah last weekend for Grandma's funeral.  All I can say is that it was lovely and she had picked out her own pink casket.  All other thoughts and feelings haven't settled enough to articulate.

***Disclaimer***These are just thought's I've been having lately.  They have nothing to do with any actual cases my husband has had or things he has encountered.  I've actually requested that he tell me about work only in generalities because, not being a doctor, I think it's gross.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share some thoughts I'd had about medicine recently.  And no these thoughts have nothing to do with the delivery system of healthcare (Affordable Care Act).  Mostly I've been thinking about how mind blowing it is that people have surgeries at all.  Before I left it in the back seat of my grandparent's car (different set than above) I was reading the biography of the Mayo Brothers.  Interesting book.  I had only gotten through the part of Dr. WW Mayo (the father).  He lived during a bridge time where when he first started practicing medicine abdominal surgeries were unheard of and extremity surgeries were mostly just for amputations.  Then during his career lifetime he first read about then saw and then improved on the surgical technique of ovarectomy. Or however that is spelled. When he first did it the only reason was that the ovarian tumor was going to kill the lady anyway so she said to give it a shot.  She figured as most physicians did at the time that she would be dead.  She didn't die. Crazy huh? Then during the career lifetime of the Mayo brothers antiseptic measures were proposed that made surgeries much less prone to secondary infections.

Today people routinely go into surgery.  Take my husband for example.  (Or any generic orthopedist if you prefer.) People come to him who have problems that are debilitating, but 100% not life threatening.  Then they ask him to cut into their body dig some things out and sew them back up. My husband puts cement into people's bodies. Cement! (You know the body kind of cement.) In any other scenario but a surgical one a person sustaining that kind of injury would be dead. But not only do we expect these people to not die, we expect them to fully recover and to improve their lives. And this isn't supposed to be remarkable.

I can't imagine being the person who calls the shots in that scenario.  No back up, nobody to hold your hand, nothing.  Of course there are people in there to help and assist. Without those people I'm sure much of modern surgeries wouldn't be possible, but when the chips are down and a decision needs to be made that will effect the rest of someone else's life there has to be one person to make the call.  I am so glad it isn't me.  I could never go to a profession that has that much stress all the time.  Because bodies aren't the same.  And you can make mistakes. And even if you don't make mistakes sometimes people die anyway.  Or don't fully recover or the surgery you thought would be perfect for them didn't help them as much as you would have hoped.

Also, I'm glad that Dan is the kind of person who can handle that stress.  And also that he enjoys helping people.  He really truly does enjoy helping others. And it amazes me the knowledge and skills he has gained in order to help others these past 8 years.  I am blown away by what the medical profession can do.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


So my grandma died. I was thinking of a way I could say that politely, but I've said passed away so many times in the past few days and it has sort of started to sound strange to my ears. Then again so does died.  At any rate she's gone and in a show of solidarity our dishwasher decided to pass away the very next morning.

Then yesterday I took Lee to his 15 month well child check (at 19 months, oops) and the doctor heard a murmur in his heart.  At first I wasn't concerned because Greg has an innocent murmur and I figured we've already gone through this before. It didn't sound quite right to be an innocent murmur though so he referred us to a pediatric cardiologist.  Lee and I went to that appointment this morning. The cardiologist listened and listened and listened to his heart from every angle on the body then said it didn't sound like a classic innocent murmur and I have to take him in for an echocardiogram. We are having that done this afternoon.  It is terrifying when an expert at children's hearts says that your son's heart doesn't sound right.

Right now I am in a fog of chaos. My house looks as if some giant hand came and flipped it upside down then let the papers and clothing and shoes and books fall like a snow globe wherever they wanted to and then let the dog roll around in it.  Right now that's ok with me because it looks like how the inside of my head feels. Despite that feeling I keep being amazed at how things keep turning out. So in order to document the tender mercies I seem to be receiving I thought that is what I will share today.

First, when Charlotte's friend came over this morning they decided to have a before school dance party in our front room. The music they chose is the new CD Charlotte got for being the friend at bring a friend to Awanas (sp?) night. They were rockin' out to the lyrics of don't worry about anything just pray about everything. Not our usual fare for a Wednesday morning, but it really touched me. I am so grateful to know that my daughter has good friends. Friends who think its good and fun to be good.

Also and in no particular order I was very grateful for the doctors we have worked with the past two days. Lee's family doctor is also a member of our church and the father of one of Greg's buddies. He is a wonderful and caring man and I am grateful for him. The cardiologist this morning is clearly used to working with kids. When he got in the room the first thing he did was make a toy for Lee out of a tongue depressor and a paper cup. He seems very kind and caring. I'm so grateful to know that if he does have a problem we are in the best place to deal with it.

I have been blow away by the support of the people who are surrounding me right now. I am going to be able to attend my grandma's funeral simply because I have friends willing to watch my children at odd and inconvenient times. They are so willing to help. As I was trying to get the schedule all put together it felt as though things just fell right in to place. I know I am inconveniencing people, but they all seemed so happy to help. I sort of feel their love surrounding me right now.

Also, my husband. He normally isn't around to be able to help. Not only does he miraculously not have to work all weekend long, but he has an unheard of Saturday afternoon off and uncluttered. Also, there is just something so great about having someone you can totally lose it with who will hold you as you cry. Who will then hold you some more when you are done and then after that will prop you back up and point you in the direction you need to go. His confidence in me inspires me to be more confident in myself. I feel we are almost invincible together.

Life is hard, but there is help surrounding me and I am grateful for all of it.

***update*** lee's tests came back normal. He has an innocent murmur. When the doctor told me that I was so relieved and then so exhausted. Crazy how much stress takes out of me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

14 Days

My grandma is dying.  The doctors have said about 14 days, which means to me that she's almost out the door.  Here's the thing though.  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Or even how I'm "supposed" to feel about her death.

My grandma is an amazing woman and has been planning on her own death for quite some time now.  Not in a suicidal way though. It almost seemed very matter of fact. I think she's been telling my husband and I that she's going to be "dead in a year" since Dan met her nine years ago.  She has survived two husbands and a daughter passing away before her.  Her own father died when she was quite young and her mother died when I was in middle or high school.  I remember my great grandma's funeral because it was the first one I had ever been to.  My grandma has always seemed anxious to go be with all of her loved ones.

The kink in her plan was that she was physically robust.  She went out to get her hair and nails done.  She drove a sports car.  She dug up her lawn to replace her own sprinklers. She was so lonely, but she still had so much life to live. She also had great joy in her loved ones here.  A story that will live in the memory of all of us is the time that she started a water fight in her back yard with my little Charlotte that dragged everyone in.  Water was everywhere and grandma was the one who started it. She liked to laugh.

I remember a series of one day excursions during my last year at college in Utah I spent with just her.  My memories of my grandma are usually filled to the brim with all sorts of family around.  We never lived in the same state so holidays were our chance to see her.  Our chance and everyone else in the family's too.  We are a loud and mostly crazy bunch of people so this one season of quiet sticks out in my mind.  Grandma and I spent that time talking.  Or rather she spent the time talking and I spent it listening and asking questions and being amazed that I was 20 and had no idea who my grandma was.  I learned about my grandma during those days-I discovered who she was beyond mom and grandma. I listened to stories about her childhood and how she met my grandpa, that I never knew. After a while she dug out this metal bread box that was dented and inside was a treasure trove of photos.  When I saw it I felt like she had shown me our family jewels. She showed me the photos and told me story after story about them.  Then we drove around the city and she showed me the physical places where the stories had happened.  The place she grew up, the place she got in a car accident.  It all looked different, even unrecognizable at that point, but it was there. I never knew any of it before.  I wonder where that bread box of photos is now? That's the family treasure I'd love to have.  Though of course I have no claim on any of it.

It isn't in her house anymore.  I know that, because she isn't there either.  She sold her house or gave it to one of her, oh what's the word for it, step grandsons? Anyway the house, the cozy, strange little house with an entire wall of mirrors isn't hers anymore.  She lives in an assisted living facility and all of her things were either sold or put into storage.

She has dementia. It seems strange to be able to use a single word to sum up the loss of who she is and what she remembers. Dementia.  Its like the lost box of photos from her house matches the lost bunch of memories in her head. She also isn't physically robust either. Hospice has been called for her. She forgets to eat. She's in pain and she doesn't get out of bed.  When she does get out of bed she falls.  At least she hasn't broken a hip.  Dan has told me enough about people with broken hips for me to know that if she did it would kill her in the most horribly painful way.

So I think maybe I should be glad for her. This is what she has been promising us is going to happen for so long.  She wants it and her body seems to finally be ready to give it to her.  So maybe glad?  But also very, very sad. In a way I realized last Christmas when I saw her that I had already lost her.  She recognized me maybe, but not Dan and certainly not my kids. It seems so strange to have had so much time to mentally prepare for this coming and to still, still not be ready for it. But I'm not.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Story Dan Didn't Think Needed to be Told to His Parents

Dan calls his parents once a week.  Every Sunday night he calls them to check in.  He is truly faithful about this.  He usually remembers after we are both in bed.  Then he has to get up to find my phone, which is who knows where. He wont use his if he can avoid it so he has to search for mine. Too bad for him that I never know where it is right then. It is Sunday after all.  Entire life schedules change on Sunday.  Plus also I always put my phone on silent at church and then mostly forget to turn it back on again.  So that's why nobody can get a hold of me on Sunday afternoons.  But anyway, we are already tucked beneath the sheets and he turns to me and asks where my phone is.  I tell him to check the van.  Mostly I think that its funny to make him go out there, but probably that's where I left it after driving home from church.  After he finds my phone I listen to a one sided conversation, which I'm not allowed to interject in.  After that Dan gives me the rundown on family news.

This happens once a week.  Every week.

Sometimes Dan doesn't tell the same stories I would tell about our week.  For example he didn't tell his parents about what happened at church yesterday. We were listening to talks and Lee was being crazy because he had gotten up late and had little breakfast.  I figured not a big deal, I would just pack something for him to eat in the foyer.  I forgot.  He was crazy.  Screaming to go to the foyer then crying for Daddy back in the chapel.  I had brought him back in to the chapel the third time.  As he sat on the floor I noticed a small yellow leaf on the ground.  It is the compound type of leaf that grow in tiny rows that we have on the trees in our church parking lot.  They have already turned a lovely eye catching yellow. In an attempt to keep him quiet and still for the talk on reverence in our worship I put the small leaf on his nose.  He was enthralled that it just sat there and so did he.  For quite some time.  But then it fell as leaves are wont to do.  He quickly picked it up to put it back in place, but missed.  He shoved the thing right up his nose.  Further than even his fingers could reach. So Dan had to leave church and take him home to extract the leaf.  After church every time someone looked at him he would shove his little finger up there to tell us about his exciting adventure. I'm still not convinced he got it out since Dan says he never actually saw the leaf.  It was small, but not small enough to miss. My thought on this is that at least it is a leaf and not an eraser or something that could stay there for decades.  A leaf might somehow get goopy and slip out later.

The End.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On being a Red Head

Being a red head was a defining characteristic for me for as long as I can remember.  I came into the world with a bright orange head and I've been getting complements and comments on it ever since.  I remember looking at those hospital photos of me where they are printed photo booth style.  You know four tiny prints vertical in a line and my head is covered with orange fuzz.  It has made me stand out in a crowd for the good and bad.  It has always felt like my personality is interlaced with my hair color.  Red, fierce, blazing, tempered.  But also awkward, speckled, and sometimes goofy.
Growing up I always, always got, "Red hair!  Where did you get that red hair?" Sometimes it was "that beautiful red hair" but always the question on where it came from.  Like somehow as a small child I was supposed to be able to explain to adults the facts of hereditary traits.  There is no good answer for a six year old to give to an adult asking this question. Sometimes we adults ask stupid questions.

I hope my sister doesn't mind me posting this photo of her.
I just thought it showed her pretty red hair off well.
Now I'm always, always asked, "You have children? No redheads then?" As if I keep my red headed child at home.  This is also a statement that irks me.  I don't want my children always hearing this same phrase as if they aren't perfect exactly the way they are. As if golden blonde/brown isn't absolutely how they, my children, should look.  As if I'm somehow holding out hope that I will be blessed with that one special child that one red head.  As if all my children aren't special to me.

And while we're on the topic of things that are mildly annoying, though really mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, I also don't like the sentiment, "You have such a beautiful red color." And some people go so far as to include, "Some of the red hair colors, like that bright orange color, aren't as attractive." Hidden (and not so hidden) in this complicated compliment, is the implication that the bright orange/red hair color is definitely not desirable.  It's only when red hair turns to a darker brown tint that it is becoming.  Frustrating for a few reasons: 1)I was born orange/red and had orange/red as a small one and 2) if a person is talking to a redhead, chances are that redhead knows and is probably related to another red head, who just might have orange/red hair.  So now the person has said something unkind about someone I know and probably love.

Hmm, this post was a little hijacked by rants.  I started out with an entirely different idea in mind, but I like this so I'm keeping it.

First Grade Problems

First grade is hard on a mother.  At least it has been a rocky sort of roller coaster ride I was completely unprepared for.  Charlotte is doing great and I'm pretty sure she loves it.  She is being challenged academically at school and loves it.  School is a strong suit for her so even though there is work to do it doesn't feel overwhelming.

What feels overwhelming are the tiny social lessons she is learning as a first grade girl. They are not earth shattering and they are things that everyone needs to learn growing up, but man oh man does it make my momma heart ache to see her go through them. The problem is really that she's still my little girl, but neither she nor anyone else sees it this way. So when these things come up I feel blindsided and unsure how to handle them. To what extent do I even do anything at all?

I love her. I love her teacher. I love her friends. First grade is just a challenge.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Skills for boys

I haven't posted much because of life with a toddler. I trust you know what I mean. I don't want to complain because he is an amazing toddler, but these days seem to be requiring more patience from me than I know how to give.  Mostly my plan is to be home with him awake as little as possible. Is that a good parenting strategy? I have no idea.

One challenge is that Greg is to the age where he is delightful to be around if you can pay attention to him.  And by delightful I mean he's funny and informed and says great stuff and can concentrate on projects and talks to you about things that are on topic. If you can't pay attention to him he notices and it hurts him very much.  You can tell when he feels he's being ignored by his subtle tactic of running straight for you and not stopping. I feel like having boys is teaching me about playing sports.  I remember in middle school I was being taught about cutting someone off in basketball.  I was horrible at it and what's more I didn't get it.  Now that I have to try to keep Lee away from all sorts of inappropriate things using just my body at times I've gotten quite good at cutting him off at the pass.

In fact just last Sunday during Stake Conference, which I went to, but find a special sort of torture for the parents of the young. I spent five minutes blocking Lee from escape with nothing but one foot.  He kept climbing over it,  but by the time he stood up my foot was right in front of him again. See blocking.

Also I am good at dodging.  When Greg's kamikaze run starts across the room I have found I'm pretty good at waiting until just the right moment to side step.  Then you put one hand out and direct him to the ground. This is quite effective and sounds a lot like what my daddy probably taught his young football players.  I would know if I had ever paid attention, but I was always too busy with just about anything else. It still shocks me that my sister and I spent so much time in our childhood around football and I did not glean much from it.

Ooh, now I'm on a roll with this theme.  You know what else I've become good at. Diapering a toddler that doesn't want it.  They are squirmy and strong and they kick.  I feel like I'm wrestling a pig. Surely my skills in this arena could translate to some sport, but again I am showing my lack of knowledge because I have no idea what sport that would be.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A post about chores

Yesterday I spent the day starting the switch over from summer to winter. I put this off because it mostly involves a lot of climbing the ladder to our attic.  The ladder is too short. So once you get the box up there you have to do a gymnastic move to hoist yourself in every single time.  Plus also going into the attic is dangerous when there isn't another adult around.

That reminds me of the time I had to go into the attic recently.  Lee was playing in the garage with a big bag of flashlights so I figured I had a few seconds and if I made it quick I'd be ok.  I was up there I swear for thirty seconds and when I turned to go down Lee had climbed to the top of the ladder and was stuck.  I mean the very top too. I was stuck in the attic because the top of the ladder is the landing spot for the gymnastics you have to do to get down from the attic.  I was up there thinking when Lee started to try to get himself down from the ladder. Terrifying.  Scary enough that I had the motivation to lower myself with the strength of my arms inch by inch around Lee and get my footing without knocking him. Then I carried him down myself.  That child is part monkey.

So despite my monkey boy I figured it was time to start. Plus also Greg was cold and wanted a coat. I started by picking up all the garbage in the back yard.  While I was at it I scooped dog poop up from the back yard. The kids were starting to step in it so I figured there was too much out there.  Hoo boy was that a big task. After that it was time to start shuttling old clothing around. Charlotte and Greg had clothing go into the attic in several different bins and all the outside winter clothing came down was sorted and some went back up. Turns out his coat from last winter is too small, but Sam's club had some on sale later.

It feels so good to do that sort of job for me.  I love to put things in their places.  Probably that's why I don't mind folding and putting laundry away.  It is a special perk though when I do a job like this that is going to stay done.  I'm not going to turn around tomorrow to find out that someone has gotten into the attic and messed with everything. Nobody has that sort of commitment. Or upper body strength.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


My son Greg has a personality all his own.  Here are a few things he's said that I thought were funny.

 "It's cold enough to freeze an egg out here!" (Only in Minnesota.)

Me:Greg, tell me a story.
Greg: But Mom, I already told you the only story that I know! (Because we are all only given one story to tell in life.)

"Let's play monsters and zompies." (The monsters are always the good guys and zompies are awful.)

Charlotte has a much coveted library card. The rule is you have to be able to write your own name. Greg figured that out last week.  Guess who is the new proud owner of his very own library card?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

We all have them

Last week was a complete failure.  Complete and total and horrible.  It seemed that everywhere I looked I found something I was lacking.  Somewhere that I had done wrong.  Places where my best just wasn't good enough. It was my best and it really just didn't cut it.

I'd like to think that we all have those days, weeks, months.  That I'm not alone in the failure. Where we wonder what went wrong.  Where even if we could figure that out we probably wouldn't be able to change the outcome.

By the end of the week all I wanted was to just sit and be still and stop worrying.  So that's what I did. I spent some time after the kids went to bed just sitting and not thinking.

I don't know if it solved any problems.  Actually it probably solved none and now my house is even more of a mess and I didn't practice for rehearsal and I have nothing planned for playgroup and what delicious dinner am I making for my kids to refuse to eat tomorrow.  I still have specific things I'm worried about with each of my kids. Things that I can't change because it is their choice.  Why does that choosing have to start so very young? 

At any rate in that moment of nothing I gave myself the freedom to stop worrying.  All those things were still there after my time of quiet, but oh the quiet.  The ability to just sit and be. I am not able to do that very often.  And by able I mean that not worrying isn't a natural part of me.  Worrying comes even when I try to stop it.  But for that moment I didn't worry.  And I loved it. 

It reminded me of a poem I found I my mom's papers once. It is a common poem and most people know it, but if not, here it is:

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Night owl

You know what is a horrible time to be fully awake? 2:44am.
But here it is 2:44am and I've been awake since 1am.  I go a little crazy worrying about things at 2:44 am.

I know there are times and seasons to life and I'm currently in the my toddler has oddly regressed to waking up in the middle of the night needing a drink of milk and my kids' cries fully wake me up and so now I'm awake and can't fall back to sleep because all those things I decided to worry about later is now, time of life.  The concern for me is that what if my kids have ruined me for a full nights sleep forever.  Like how some experiences just change you and years of not sleeping through the night will make it impossible for me to ever do it once they are finally old enough.

My mom doesn't sleep in in the mornings.  She is always the first to wake up.  And by first to wake up I mean 5:30am. Years of having to wake up early and now that she doesn't have to she still has to.

So there is that to think about.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spit and Polish

I started music lessons when I was young.  In the neighborhood of 5.  I started violin lessons when I was 8ish and played the violin through high school and some into college.  Music, and the violin was a huge part of my life.  During high school I was in three hours of rehearsal minimum every day, and then did practicing on top of that.

Then in college I just sort of dropped it.  Without the external groups to be in there was really little motivation to keep up with it while doing my studies.  Then I got married and had kids and life is hectic.

My daughter, 6, is now taking violin lessons.  Every day I practice with her.  I mold her hands to what they should be and ask her to think about the curve of her pinkie. And it has reminded me of the curve of my pinkie.  The straight spine on the hard chairs.  The gentle yet strong motion of the arm.  The weight of my head holding the violin in place.  I love being reminded of the basics, the basics which will always always be helpful for every musician.

Start small, take little steps and you will make it to the top of the mountain.  Work here and there and you can create something beautiful that you never thought you could do.  I love creating music.  I love being around others and putting my "voice" with theirs to blend and create.

And so

Tomorrow I am going to the chamber symphony here in town that is open to anyone that wants to join.  I'm joining.  Or at least I'll give it my best try.  Just looking at the music tonight seems daunting.  With all the nerves inside of me I'm not sure how it will go.  I just hope this is an accepting group of people willing to be patient while I take my first steps to the top of the mountain.  Start small, work hard, and I can succeed.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vegetables and other growing things

Today Charlotte was at school, Greg was at a playgroup and Lee was totally happy.  One of those golden opportunities... to go grocery shopping.  Crazy how I get a little pep in my step just thinking about taking one child to the grocery store. I swear I didn't do a good shopping trip all summer long. I just didn't because with three kids the longer you spend in the store the more fighting, whining, and ultimately buying you do.  Pretty soon it feels like supermarket sweep. In my mind I say, "OK KIDS! You get in the cart and put your arms out.  I'm running down the aisle and anything that lands in the cart we're taking home with us. I'll figure out what to cook with twenty boxes of Ritz crackers, panko bread crumbs, and granola bars later. Just get me out of this place."

But today was not that day. Today Lee and I walked down almost every aisle (I refuse to go down the juice/cracker and the chips/candy aisles) and some we walked down twice.  I let Lee be out of the cart and pick out items from our list which is wildly difficult, but such a joy for him.  He is growing like a weed.  Also the four or five retired couples and old men seemed to enjoy his efforts to help.  They would chuckle and comment on my little helper. He was ready to please with a wave of the hand and a short bye from him, his one and only trick.

But another reason that the trip today was so enjoyable was that I got a boat load of produce.  Now I am not a "foodie." I don't rave over dishes I've had.  In fact, Dan and I rarely eat out at all.  Also being responsible for brakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks for this whole crew does make me want to quit sometimes. But I love food.  I love it for the science of it.  I love getting vegetables that I rarely use and creating.  I personally think it is amazing all the things we know about food and how it works.  Look at these vegetables I kept thinking to myself.  I packed them into the fridge.

Then tonight for dinner we ate carrots and beans from our garden and the bell pepper from our plant went into my sloppy joe.  I am fully aware that nobody cares what I had for dinner.  But even so I can't help but love and enjoy the bounty before me.  A fully stocked fridge and a garden not done with its bounty.

Also, and on a totally un related note today Greg found his own experiment. He's getting so big.  This is what he discovered.

His balloon on the air vent floats when the AC is running.  Pretty cool.

Friday, September 06, 2013


While writing yesterday's post I forgot about this little exchange that I still laugh about.

Charlotte was walking home from school in the hot humid afternoon.  When we came together she said, "I wish it wasn't summer anymore! I wish it were winter." I responded, "you would rather be walking home in the snow?" She said, "no. I want it to be early winter, where its chilly, but no snow." I laughed and told her that what she was describing was fall.

Only in Minnesota is fall described as early winter.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Running and still falling

September was going to be my month to get back on the wagon so to speak for writing on this thing.  And then school started and hoo-boy!  I'm running and running and running and still I can't catch up. My goal was to get the mountain of dishes done today, but it still isn't done. I know it's bad when there aren't any spoons left. I didn't get it all done before Lee woke up from his nap.  There is really no point in cleaning the kitchen while Lee is in it. Charlotte had violin lesson today and it went really well, but we committed to practice every day and today's practice was supposed to happen after dinner.  You know, the dinner where Lee decided to not eat anything but cottage cheese, but mostly he just smeared it all over the table.  The practice time where Charlotte wasn't all that interested, but Greg was desperately hurt that he wasn't being included. Half way through I gave up and included him which made practice take longer.

All of which to say that we're still working out the kinks.  One of these days I'll get the chore chart together and mornings will actually get accomplished.

So even though I have no real point to this post I wanted to record a small conversation I had with Charlotte after school her first day.

Charlotte: I realized today that some people are just mean people.
Me: what happened?
Charlotte: there were just some kids that were mean.
Me: how do you know they were mean?
Charlotte: first of all, they were using mean words. Second of all, they were using mean voices.
Me: what did you do?
Charlotte: I just ignored them. Some people are just mean.

It seemed so grown up to me for her to realize that sometimes what other people do has less to do with her and more to do with them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back of the pack

You know what is sort of hard for me? It was hard last spring to see everybody else's kids get out of school for the summer while mine still had weeks left. Weeks I tell you! I am also finding it hard to watch everybody else's kids start school before mine.

It's odd though. I have this tug of war of opinions inside.  If you had asked me at the beginning of August I'd have told you I can not wait.  Please!  Get them out of the house for a bit! But then the end of summer happened and oh you end of summer you.  You are a game changer.  Family trips and hot sunny days and then another family trip.  My children are so pleasant during this, the lazy days of summer.  So now that I've started to really enjoy our days, tomorrow is meet the teacher.  Then one last vacation hurrah up in Duluth.  Then there's the first day of school on the very same day that grandma and grandpa leave.

Well, we certainly are waving the summer out with a bang!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Being Married

Dan brings me home sour cream and onion chips when he finds extras around work.

He always, and I mean always nicely hangs up his work clothes right as he takes them off, but never remembers about socks.

He will wake up at midnight to check, just one more time, about almost anything that my mind conjures up to worry about.

He knows my quirks, like how when it's hot I still like to sleep with something over my torso and arms, but please you might kill me if you try to cover my feet.

It has me thinking about being married and how it is of course about a flow of abiding love.  It is about a commitment that we have for each other.  It is about all the really deep and huge things in life.


It is also about the million tiny things.  About finding them and being able to laugh at their ridiculousness and love each other for them.

I love my husband's crazy collection of snap shirts. And how even though he's decided that he doesn't like strawberry milk anymore, he will still take a swig from Charlotte's just to be sure.
Oh, and he sleeps just about anywhere.  Man I find that funny.  Last night he said he thinks he shouldn't be as tired as he is.  Sounds crazy to me that he would think that someone doing all he's doing wouldn't be tired.

Friday, August 09, 2013


I caught my dog licking the wall tonight.

I thought it was odd.  Perhaps she's going crazy.

I've already got to deal with a few peculiarities from her. Now licking walls?

Then on closer inspection I realized she had found where the smallest child had spilled his blue otter pop down the wall.

She was helping me clean!

Good dog.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Happy August The First

I told myself that I was going to post more because, well because I like to have the record, but also my grandma (hi!) likes to read it.  Did you catch that everyone?  My eighty something grandma knows about blogs.  She is also on Facebook.  She and grandpa are also planning a super vacation at the moment.  She also never stops moving.  I want to grow old like my grandma.  She seeks out friends, she works out, she tries new things and keeps up with technology.  So anyway, the point is that if my grandma is going to the effort of learning about blogs I should at least blog so she has something to read.  Hopefully the rest of you like it too.

The hard part is that my topics tend to whirl around the baby is CA-RAZY.  I went back in the archives last night to figure out if I'm over reacting and the other two were like this but I've just blocked it out.  Because you do that as a mom.  You block whole sections out of life.  Like that time that Greg woke up at 5 am for a few months.  I would make him a sippy cup the night before and hand it to him in bed then go back to bed myself because there is absolutely no reason to be up that early.  That I blocked out until a friend asked me what I did during that time because she had a similar problem.  I forgot it even happened!

So I checked.  When Charlotte was this age she was more rascally than I remembered, but we managed to buy a 100+ year old house and remodel it.  I would complain about only having an hour to work on it that day.  An hour!  Ha!

When Greg was this age I drove across the country by myself and spent a month living with different family members while Dan did an away rotation in Utah.  Greg loved his cousins (especially Travis which I'm pretty sure will be a life long type of thing), cars, and trucks.  There was even a time that I had my grandparents (my kids great grandparents) watch them alone while I was feeling sick.  I can read between the lines a little to see that he was a handful at times, like all 16 month olds are.

So maybe I am over reacting, but this kid is yet again nothing like I'm used to.  It humbles me and makes me realize that I have absolutely no reason to be advice giving to anyone.  Every kid is so different.  I guess I'm a different mom too.  Oh but I love them all so very much.  So very very much.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Where you fit in

Dan has such a distinct style.  Sometimes I think he has a style all his own.  It's easy to think that when people dress up as him for Halloween.

And then I go home. And I see hints and glimpses of his style all around me.

And then my family goes to the rodeo and I realize that my husband isn't entirely unique. He belongs to a population of individuals. He fits right in with that crowd.  He would no longer look like a fish out of water if you looked at him here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Day

I wanted to post something about our day.  All I can remember or today is getting kids up early and then trying to keep them up happily.  Lee pooped seven times today. It might not sound like much, but he's eating all real solid foods now like the rest of us. Did any of you manage that volume?  I didn't think so.  I ran out of diapers while running errands and had to use two kleenexes.  Picture that.  the only thing between me and disaster was two thin pieces from a travel pack I found in the back of the glove box. That was a stressful half hour.

Also my son while at a friend's house this evening decided to climb on top of their dresser and then jump off. Because nothing can go wrong with that scenario right? It wobbled so he bailed haphazardly and banged his leg up.

On the plus side we made it to a special store this evening and bought birthday presents for Aunt Katie.  All I will say is that Aunt Katie is going to have a fun birthday.  Otherwise I will follow my lifelong tradition of letting the cat out of the bag. I just get so excited.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Photo Madness!

I finally sat down and downloaded the photos off my camera since the beginning of May.  Whoo-Boy!  There were a lot to sift through.  Sadly not enough for some events and loads too many of others, but as I have no ability to ration my photos here goes:

Remember how back in May Gregory turned 4?  Yeah, we had a party.
 We went on a field trip the first Friday after school got out.  We went to Lark toys and then over the river into Wisconsin to get some awesome ice cream.  I don't usually rave about any food, but this stuff was worth the drive!
 I found this picture on my camera.  It made me laugh.  Now we will have a photo to put up if ever Charlotte's dog runs away from home.
 Charlotte learned out to ride a two wheeler in this green haven.
 We picked strawberries.
 Lee thought he would help by moving my bucket.  He spilled my bucket a few times before I started dumping my bucket into Charlotte and Greg's buckets.  We still managed 4 pounds of berries in an hour.
 Dan worked all of the fourth of July!  And by worked I mean he got to work at 6 am and never stopped moving or seeing patients until 10:30 am the fifth of July.  So the kids and I had to party without him.  We filled the day with three separate parties and then watched the municipal fireworks.  I, like any good mother of this technology age, didn't take any photos during the day.  I got these two just before it got too dark:
 Live action.  Those two boys didn't stop moving until the fireworks started.  It was fun to watch their glow sticks bounce around the darkened field after the sun set.  Then with the first big bang Greg yelled, "This is so pretty!"  Totally worth it.  Plus, I've decided after three straight years of Dan working the 4th that at least its a holiday designed to be out and about with other people.  It makes us miss him less.
 After receiving no sleep overnight on call Dan came home and crashed for about four hours.  Then he got up and in twenty minutes got us out the door to go camping.  This is the shot of all the excitement as we were going through Culver's for dinner.  As a side note, Culver's has got to be the best fast food restaurant around.  Argue with me till you're blue in the face, but you will not change my mind.
 And this is what the kids look like when I'm not trying to take a picture of the excitement.  Who doesn't love a pirate eye patch?
 Camping at whitewater state park on July 5-6th:
 I thought it was funny that I had a photo of Charlotte's dog and then randomly one of Blue Sky (Greg's dog)
 "Hey Look!  Dirt Mom!"
 A lot of going in and out of the tent happened.
 Also once the tent was up Charlotte forced Greg to ballroom dance with her in it.  He was not thrilled about the idea.  That was pretty funny.
 Walking over whitewater river.
 Dirty face
 More s'mores
 You guys, this is a picture Dan took trying to get Charlotte and me catching fireflies.  That is next to impossible with our camera, but a good memory anyway.  Fireflies have got to be one of the mid-west's best summer things.  They were out in full force and dancing all around our tent.  It was amazing!
 Did you see that photo of Greg with squinty eye smile?  Here's where he gets it from:
 Here's a better attempt to get Dan not looking totally exhausted.
 Breakfast the next morning.  Toast over an open flame.
 This is another amazing thing about the mid-west summer.  A July morning looks like this green glory:
 No dusty brown of the arid west.
 Lee helped Daddy pack up the tent.
 After camping we went to John Latsche state park.  The entirety of this park consists of one hike up to the top of a hill overlooking the Mighty Mississippi.  The hike is rated as difficult.  Dan said, "How could it be considered difficult if the whole thing is just steps?"  I'll tell you how, half an hour of steps up, none of those steps is even, and also try doing it with a squirmy 20 pounds sitting atop your shoulders.  He uses ears as handles.
 But it was totally worth it. Half way up:

 The view from the top.  Stunning.

 Then we walked all the way back down.